Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The Holy Trinity

Posted by Fredsvenn on January 7, 2016


The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (from Latin trinitas “triad”, from trinus “threefold”) defines God as three consubstantial persons, expressions, or hypostases: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit; “one God in three persons”. The three persons are distinct, yet are one “substance, essence or nature”. In this context, a “nature” is what one is, while a “person” is who one is.

According to this central mystery of most Christian faiths, there is only one God in three persons: while distinct from one another in their relations of origin (as the Fourth Lateran Council declared, “it is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds”) and in their relations with one another, they are stated to be one in all else, co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial, and “each is God, whole and entire”.

Accordingly, the whole work of creation and grace is seen as a single operation common to all three divine persons, in which each shows forth what is proper to him in the Trinity, so that all things are “from the Father”, “through the Son” and “in the Holy Spirit”.

In Norse mythology, Njörðr (God/Allah-Enlil/Kumarbi/Cronus/Saturn-Boötes Constellation) is a god among the Vanir (Venus/friend/love), represeting the dawn, the golden age and the spring season. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr (Jesus/Libera-Leo Constellation) and Freyja (Maria-Inanna/Hebat/Demeter/Ceres/Libera-Virgo Constellation) by his unnamed Vanir sister.

The Spring Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn upon the celestial sphere, with its defining vertices at Arcturus, Spica, and Regulus. This triangle connects the constellations of Boötes, Virgo, and Leo. It is visible rising in the south eastern sky of the northern hemisphere between March and May.

Boötes is a constellation in the northern sky, located between 0° and +60° declination, and 13 and 16 hours of right ascension on the celestial sphere. The name comes from the Greek Boōtēs, meaning herdsman or plowman (literally, ox-driver; from bous “cow”). In ancient Babylon the stars of Boötes were known as SHU.PA. They were apparently depicted as the god Enlil, who was the leader of the Babylonian pantheon and special patron of farmers.

Leo was one of the earliest recognized constellations, with archaeological evidence that the Mesopotamians had a similar constellation as early as 4000 BCE. The Persians called Leo Ser or Shir; the Turks, Artan; the Syrians, Aryo; the Jews, Arye; the Indians, Simha, all meaning “lion”.

Some mythologists believe that in Sumeria, Leo represented the monster Humbaba, who was killed by Gilgamesh. In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was called UR.GU.LA, the “Great Lion”; the bright star Regulus was known as “the star that stands at the Lion’s breast.” Regulus also had distinctly regal associations, as it was known as the King Star.

Rēgulus is Latin for ‘prince’ or ‘little king’. The Greek variant Basiliscus is also used. It is known as Qalb al-Asad, meaning ‘the heart of the lion’, in Arabic. This phrase is sometimes approximated as Kabelaced and translates into Latin as Cor Leōnis. It is known in Chinese as the Fourteenth Star of Xuanyuan, the Yellow Emperor. In Hindu astronomy, Regulus corresponds to the Nakshatra Magha (“the bountiful”).

In MUL.APIN, Regulus is listed as LUGAL, meaning “the star that stands in the breast of the Lion: the King.” Babylonians called it Sharru (“the King”), and it marked the 15th ecliptic constellation. In India it was known as Maghā (“the Mighty”), in Sogdiana Magh (“the Great”), in Persia Miyan (“the Centre”) and also as Venant, one of the four ‘royal stars’ of the Persian monarchy. It was one of the fifteen Behenian stars known to medieval astrologers, associated with granite, mugwort, and the kabbalistic symbol Agrippa.

The Greeks and Romans associated Virgo with their goddess of wheat/agriculture, Demeter-Ceres who is the mother of Persephone-Proserpina. Alternatively, she was sometimes identified as the virgin goddess Iustitia or Astraea, holding the scales of justice in her hand as the constellation Libra.

Another myth identifies Virgo as Erigone, the daughter of Icarius of Athens. Icarius, who had been favoured by Dionysus, was killed by his shepherds while they were intoxicated and Erigone hanged herself in grief; Dionysus placed the father and daughter in the stars as Boötes and Virgo respectively. In the Middle Ages, Virgo was sometimes associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

One of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is the personification of dawn as a beautiful young woman. Her name is reconstructed as Hausōs (PIE *hewsṓs- or *hausōs-, an s-stem), besides numerous epithets.

The name is derived from a root *hwes / *au̯es “to shine”, thus translating to “the shining one”. Both the English word east and the Latin auster “south” are from a root cognate adjective *aws-t(e)ro-. Also cognate is aurum “gold”, from *awso-. The name for “spring season”, *wes-r- is also from the same root. The same can be said about *wenos- (also an s-stem), whence Sanskrit vanas “loveliness; desire”, used of Uṣas in the Rigveda, and the Latin name Venus and the Norse Vanir.

The name indicates that the goddess was imagined as a beautiful nubile woman, who also had aspects of a love goddess. The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European new year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus).

Njord was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún, the abode of the god Njörðr, described in the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning as located “in heaven”, and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

The name Njörðr corresponds to that of the older Germanic fertility goddess Nerthus, a goddess associated with fertility, and both derive from the Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz.

The original meaning of the name is contested, but it may be related to the Irish word nert which means “force” and “power”. It has been suggested that the change of sex from the female Nerthus to the male Njörðr is due to the fact that feminine nouns with u-stems disappeared early in Germanic language while the masculine nouns with u-stems prevailed.

While developments in historical linguistics ultimately allowed for the identification of Nerthus with Njörðr, various other readings of the name were in currency prior to the acceptance of this identification, most commonly the form Hertha. This form was proposed as an attempt to mirror the Old Norse goddess name Jörð ‘earth’.

However, other scholars hold the change to be based not on grammatical gender but on the evolution of religious beliefs; that *Nerþuz and Njörðr appear as different genders because they are to be considered separate beings.

The name Njörðr may be related to the name of the Norse goddess Njörun. Scholarly theories concerning her name and function in the pantheon include etymological connections to the Norse god Njörðr and the Roman goddess Nerio, and suggestions that she may represent the earth and/or be the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr.

In Norse mythology, the Vanir (singular Vanr) are a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, nature, magic, and the ability to see the future. The Vanir are one of two groups of gods (the other being the Æsir) and are the namesake of the location Vanaheimr (Old Norse “Home of the Vanir”).

They have speculated whether the Vanir originally represented pre-Indo-European deities or Indo-European fertility gods, and have theorized a form of the gods as venerated by the pagan Anglo-Saxons. After the Æsir–Vanir War, the Vanir became a subgroup of the Æsir. Subsequently, members of the Vanir are sometimes also referred to as members of the Æsir.

Scholars have theorized that the Vanir may be connected to small pieces of gold foil found in Scandinavia at some building sites from the Migration Period to the Viking Age and occasionally in graves.

The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five (or more) Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, Heroic, and then the present (Iron), which is a period of decline, sometimes followed by the Leaden Age.

By extension “Golden Age” denotes a period of primordial peace, harmony, stability, and prosperity. During this age peace and harmony prevailed, people did not have to work to feed themselves, for the earth provided food in abundance. They lived to a very old age with a youthful appearance, eventually dying peacefully, with spirits living on as “guardians”.

In classical Greek mythology the Golden Age was presided over by the leading Titan Cronus. In some version of the myth Astraea also ruled. She lived with men until the end of the Silver Age, but in the Bronze Age, when men became violent and greedy, fled to the stars, where she appears as the constellation Virgo, holding the scales of Justice, or Libra.

European pastoral literary and iconographic tradition often depicted nymphs and shepherds as living a life of rustic innocence and simplicity, untainted by the corruptions of civilization — a continuation of the Golden Age — set in an idealized Arcadia, a region of Greece that was the abode and center of worship of their tutelary deity, goat-footed Pan, who dwelt among them.

Freyr or Frey is one of the most important gods of Norse religion. The name is conjectured to derive from the Proto-Norse *frawjaz, “lord”. Freyr was associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather, as well as was pictured as a phallic fertility god, Freyr “bestows peace and pleasure on mortals”.

Freyja (“(the) Lady”) is a goddess associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death. Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a chariot pulled by two cats, keeps the boar Hildisvíni by her side, possesses a cloak of falcon feathers, and, by her husband Óðr, is the mother of two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi.

In ancient Roman religion and mythology, Liber (“the free one”; Latin: Līber), also known as Liber Pater (“the free Father”) was a god of viticulture and wine, fertility and freedom. His cult and functions were increasingly associated with Romanised forms of the Greek Dionysus/Bacchus, whose mythology he came to share.

Before his official adoption as a Roman deity, Liber was companion to two different goddesses in two separate, archaic Italian fertility cults; Ceres, an agricultural and fertility goddess of Rome’s Hellenised neighbours, and Libera, who was Liber’s female equivalent.

The Romans saw her as the counterpart of the Greek goddess Demeter, although Triptolemus was the god of farming whose mythology was reinterpreted for Ceres in Roman art and literature.

Hannahannah (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”) is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the pre-Sumerian goddess Inanna. Hannahannah was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat, the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”.

Inanna’s symbol is an eight-pointed star or a rosette. She was associated with lions – even then a symbol of power – and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. Her cuneiform ideogram was a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds, representing the doorpost of the storehouse (and thus fertility and plenty). She was associated with the planet Venus.

The Old Norse word gullaldr (literally “Golden Age”) was used in Völuspá to describe the period after Ragnarök, where the surviving gods and their progeny build the city Gimlé on the ruins of Asgard. During this period, Baldr reigns.

Triquetra (Latin tri- “three” and quetrus “cornered”) originally meant “triangle” and was used to refer to various three-cornered shapes. It has come to refer exclusively to a particular more complicated shape formed of three vesicae piscis, sometimes with an added circle in or around it.

Also known as a “trinity knot”, the design is used as a religious symbol adapted from ancient Celtic images by Christianity. It is similar to Odin’s symbol, the valknut (Old Norse valr, “slain warriors” + knut, “knot”), a symbol consisting of three interlocked triangles, and appears on various Germanic objects.

The symbol has been used by Christians as a sign of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), especially since the Celtic Revival of the 19th century. A very common representation of the symbol is with a circle that goes through the three interconnected loops of the Triquetra. The circle emphasizes the unity of the whole combination of three forces. It is also said to symbolize God’s love around the Holy Trinity.

When modern designers began to display the triquetra as a stand-alone design, it recalled the three-leafed shamrock which was similarly offered as a Trinity symbol by Saint Patrick have also suggested that the triquetra has a similarity to the Christian Ιχθυς, from the Greek ikhthýs (ἰχθύς, “fish”) symbol, a symbol consisting of two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish.

The triquetra has been used extensively on Christian sculpture, vestments, book arts and stained glass. It has been used on the title page and binding of some editions of the New King James Version.

The ichthys was used by early Christians as a secret Christian symbol and now known colloquially as the “sign of the fish” or the “Jesus fish”. Greeks, Romans, and many other pagans used the fish symbol before Christians. In pagan beliefs, Ichthys was the offspring of the ancient Sea goddess Atargatis, and was known in various mythic systems as Tirgata, Aphrodite, Pelagia, or Delphine.

The word also meant “womb” and “dolphin” in some tongues. Before Christianity adopted the fish symbol, it was known by pagans as “the Great Mother”, and “womb”. Its link to fertility, birth, and the natural force of women was acknowledged also by the Celts, as well as pagan cultures throughout northern Europe. In certain non-Christian beliefs the fish also has been identified with reincarnation and the life force.

The triple spiral or triskele is a Celtic and pre-Celtic symbol found on a number of Irish Megalithic and Neolithic sites, most notably inside the Newgrange passage tomb, on the entrance stone, and on some of the curbstones surrounding the mound.

Believed by many people to be an ancient symbol of pre-Celtic and Celtic beliefs, the triple spiral appears in various forms in pre-Celtic and Celtic art, with the earliest examples having been carved on pre-Celtic stone monuments, and later examples found in the Celtic Christian illuminated manuscripts of Insular art. The triple spiral was possibly the precursor to the later triskele design found in the manuscripts.

What the symbol meant to the pagans who built Newgrange and other monuments is unknown; but, as Christianity came into the forefront in Ireland before the 5th century, AD, the triskele took on new meaning, as a symbol of the Trinity (i.e., Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and, therefore, also a symbol of eternity. Its popularity continues today as a decorative symbol of faith for Christians of Celtic descent around the world.

The triple spiral is one of the main symbols of Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism, often standing for the “three realms” – Land, Sea and Sky, or for one of a number of deities who are described in the lore as “threefold” or triadic.

The god Manannán is probably most often the one symbolized by the triskele, though some also use it for the goddess Brighid. Some Celtic-inspired Wiccans also use the triple spiral symbol, most often to represent the concept of the triple goddess.

According to Uriel’s Machine by Knight and Lomas (2003), the triple spiral may represent the nine-month period of human pregnancy, since the sun takes a fourth of a year to go from the celestial equator (an equinox) to extreme north or south declination (a solstice), and vice versa.

During each three-month period, the sun’s path across the sky appears to form a closely wound quasi-helical shape, which can be likened to a spiral, so that three spirals could represent nine months, providing an explanation for a link between fertility and the triple-spiral symbol.

A triskelion or triskele (which invariably has rotational symmetry) is a motif consisting of three interlocked spirals, three bent human legs, or three bent/curved lines extending from the center of the symbol.

Both words are from Greek triskelion or triskeles, “three-legged”, from prefix tri- (“three times”) and skelos (“leg”). A triskelion is the symbol of Sicily, where it is called trinacria, as well as of the Isle of Man, Brittany, and the town of Füssen in Germany.

The triskelion symbol appears in many early cultures, the first in Malta (4400–3600 BC) and in the astronomical calendar at the famous megalithic tomb of Newgrange in Ireland built around 3200 BC, Mycenaean vessels, on coinage in Lycia, and on staters of Pamphylia (at Aspendos, 370–333 BC) and Pisidia. It appears as a heraldic emblem on warriors’ shields depicted on Greek pottery.

The triskelion, was a prominent Celtic symbol that represented the the concept of completion and progress. The symbol looked like a three legged wheel. According to the first derivation of the meaning, the triskelion, represents actions, cycles, progress, revolution and competition. In all, the triskelion was a representation of a sense of advancement.

As Christianity came into the forefront in Ireland before the 5th century, AD, the triskele took on new meaning, as a symbol of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, therefore, also a symbol of eternity. Its popularity continues today as a decorative symbol of faith for Christians of Celtic descent around the world.

Found growing abundantly throughout the hillsides of Ireland, the Shamrock or Clover is arguably the most famous symbol of the country. It is closely associated with St. Patrick who used it to teach people the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. So, the Shamrock came to be highly revered by the ancient Celtics as a symbol of Christianity, faith, hope, love and spiritual development.

Due to its prolific growth, it is considered to be representative of abundance, nurturing, fertility, productivity and stability. The Shamrock is credited with mystic powers as its petals stand up when a storm is approaching, warning people of the impending danger. Therefore, it is also used as a charm for bringing good luck and warding off evil.

From the earliest ages, the concept of the Great Goddess was a trinity and the model for all subsequent trinities, female, male, or mixed. Anatolian villages in the 7th millenium B.C. worshipped a Goddess in three aspects-as a young woman, a birth-giving matron, and an old woman.

This typical Virgin-Mother-Crone combination was Parvati-Durga-Uma (Kali) in India, Ana-Babd-Macha (the Morrigan) in Ireland, or in Greece Hebe-Hera-Hecate, the three Moerae, the three Gorgons, the three Graeae, the three Horae, etc. Among the Vikings, the threefold Goddess appeared as the Norns; among the Romans, as the Fates or Fortunae; among the druids, as Diana Triformis. The Triple Goddess had more than three: She had hundreds of forms.

Pre-Roman Latium worshipped her as the Capitoline Triad under the collective name of Uni, “The One,” a cognate of yoni. Her three personae were Juventas the Virgin, Juno the Mother, and Menarva or Minerva the wise Crone. Under the empire, Juventas was ousted to make room for a masculine member of the trinity, Jupiter.

Some modern scholars refer to the two-female, one-male Capitoline Triad of the later period as “three gods”-as if they might describe a group of two women and one man as “three men.” Cumont says, “Oriental theologians developed the idea that the world forms a trinity; it is three in one and one in three.”

The masculine scholar substitutes the neuter “world” for “Goddess,” though they were in a sense synonymous. It was she who established the trinitarian form of Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer. Even though Brahmans evolved a male trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva to play these parts, Tantric scriptures insisted that the Triple Goddess had created these three gods in the first place.

The three aspects of the Goddess were personified on earth by three kinds of priestesses: Yogini, Matri, Dakini-nubile virgins, mothers, and elder women. These were sometimes called “deities of nature.” Manifestations of the Triple Goddess were known as The Three Most Precious Ones.

Negritos of the Malay Peninsula remembered the Goddess as Kari, a virgin who conceived the first man and woman by eating her own lotus; yet she was also a trinity called the “three grandmothers under the earth.”

Even in pre-Columbian Mexico the Virgin Goddess who gave birth to the Savior Quetzalcoatl was a trinity, one of “three divine sisters.” Like the Semitic Mary, she was a birth-giver, mother, and death-bringer all at once, for she was also known as the Precious Stone of Sacrifice, apparently represented by the altar on which her savior-son’s blood was poured out.

Mother of the Greek gods was a trinity composed of Virgin Hebe, Mother Hera, and Crone Hecate; at Stymphalus she was worshipped as Child, Bride, and Widow. Each of her personae could be a trinity again, so she could be the Muses or the Ninefold Goddess.

Hecate was called Triformis and shown with three faces, each a lunar phase. Among the Irish she was the Triple Morrigan, or Morgan, sometimes multiplied into “nine sisters” who kept the Cauldron of Regeneration and ruled the western isle of the dead.

The Goddess Triformis ruled heaven as Virgin, earth as Mother, and the underworld as Crone, or Hel, or Queen of the Shades. This was remembered even in Chaucer’s time, for his Palamon invoked her “Three Forms,” Luna in heaven, Diana on earth, Proserpine in hell. The old name of Sicily, Trinacria, invoked her as a “center of the earth” with three realms.

Bardic romances abounded in manifestations of the Triple Goddess. Wayland the Smith married her, after she first appeared to him as three magic doves. King Arthur went to Avalon with her. The triadic Guinevere was another version of her. Sir Marhaus (Mars) encountered her as the Three Damosels at their magic fountain: the eldest “threescore winters of age, wearing a garland of gold; the second thirty winters of age, wearing a circlet of gold; the youngest fifteen winters of age, wearing a wreath of flowers.”

Fifteen was the number of the pagan Virgin Kore, the pentacle in the apple. Mythic virgin mothers, like that of Zoroaster, typically gave birth at the age of 15. Double that was the Mother’s age, double again the age of the Crone.

The Middle East had many trinities, most originally female. As time went on, one or two members of the triad turned male. The usual pattern was Father-Mother-Son, the Son figure envisioned as a Savior.

The notion of a trinity appeared during the 14th century BC. among the Hatti and Mitanni. In the 5th century BC., a popular Babylonian trinity was composed of Shamash, Sin, and Ishtar-Sun, Moon, and Star. In Greece this was repeated as Helios the sun, Selene the moon, and Aphrodite the star. A Father-Mother-Son trinity was worshipped at Costopitum as Jupiter Dolichenus, Celestial Brigantia, and Salus.

Gnostic versions of the trinity followed the Father-Mother-Son patterns of the contemporary east, with the Holy Ghost recognized as a female Sophia, the Dove, worshipped as the Great Goddess in Constantinople, and viewed by most Gnostics as the Shakti of God.

The Christian God was originally modeled on Far-Eastern heavenfathers, such as Brahma and Dyaus Pitar, all of whom needed their female sources of “Power,” or else they could not act. Therefore, a female member of the triad was essential even to God. Among Arabian Christians there was apparently a holy trinity of God, Mary, and Jesus, worshipped as an interchangeable replacement for the Egyptian trinity of Osiris, Isis, and Horus.

During the Christian era, all-male trinities became popular among Germanic tribes. Woden, Thor, and Saxnot were worshipped together by Saxons of the 8th and 9th centuries. Norsemen called them Odin, Tyr, and Frey. According to a certain fragmentary myth, the Triple Goddess seems to have been burned as a witch. She had to be burned to ashes three times. Afterward, youth, beauty, and love in the person of Freya departed from Asgard; and there was war in heaven.

Like many other remnants of paganism, the female trinity is still associated with marriage. Breton wedding ceremonies celebrated the three phases of the bride’s life, impersonating her first by a little girl, then by the mistress of a house, then by an old grandmother. Modern weddings still retain the flower girl and the matron of honor, but-significantly-the Crone figure has vanished.

August Comte nearly revived the female trinity in his vision of woman as mediator between man and the guiding moral spirit. Mother, wife, and daughter were to represent man’s unity with past, present, and future; also with what Comte called the three altruistic instincts: veneration, attachment, benevolence. In plainer words, these were what women want from men: respect, love, kindness.

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