Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The abduction and imprisonment of the dawn goddess, and her liberation

Posted by Fredsvenn on April 15, 2016

Dawn (from an Old English verb dagian “to become day”) is the time that marks, depending on the specific usage, the beginning of the twilight before sunrise, the period of the pre-sunrise twilight or the time of sunrise. When identified as the beginning of or the period of twilight, it is recognized by the presence of weak sunlight, while the Sun itself is still below the horizon.

Many Indo-European mythologies have a dawn goddess, separate from the male Solar deity, her name deriving from PIE*h2ausos-, derivations of which include Greek Eos, Roman Aurora, Indian Ushas, Slavic Zornitsa and possibly a Germanic*Austrōn- (whence the term Easter).

The Hindu dawn deity Ushas is female, whereas Surya, the Sun, and Aruṇa, the Sun’s charioteer, are male. Ushas is one of the most prominent Rigvedic deities. The time of dawn is also referred to as the Brahmamuhurtham (Brahma is god of creation and muhurtham is a Hindu unit of time), and is considered an ideal time to perform spiritual activities, including meditation and yoga.

Twilight is the illumination of the Earth’s lower atmosphere when the Sun itself is not directly visible because it is below the horizon. It is produced by sunlight scattering in the upper atmosphere, illuminating the lower atmosphere so that the surface of the Earth is neither completely lit nor completely dark. The word “twilight” is also used to denote the periods of time when this illumination occurs.

The further the Sun is below the horizon, the dimmer the twilight (other things such as atmospheric conditions being equal). When the Sun reaches 18 degrees below the horizon, the twilight’s brightness is nearly zero, and evening twilight becomes nighttime. When the Sun again reaches 18 degrees below the horizon, nighttime becomes morning twilight.

Owing to its distinctive quality, primarily the absence of shadows and the appearance of objects silhouetted against the bright sky, twilight have long been popular with photographers, who refer to it as ‘sweet light’, and painters, who refer to it as the blue hour, after the French expression: l’heure bleue.

By analogy with evening twilight, the word “twilight” is also sometimes used metaphorically, to imply that something is losing strength and approaching its end. For example, very old people may be said to be in the twilight of their lives.

Indra is the leader of the Devas and the lord of Svargaloka or a level of Heaven in Hinduism. He is the deva of rain and thunderstorms. He wields a lightning thunderbolt known as vajra and rides on a white elephant known as Airavata. His horse’s name is Uchchaihshrava.

Indra is the most important deity worshiped by the Rigvedic tribes and is the son of Dyaus and the goddess Savasi. His home is situated on Mount Meru in the heavens. He is celebrated as a demiurge who pushes up the sky, releases Ushas (dawn) from the Vala cave, and slays Vṛtra, a stone serpent slain by Indra to liberate the rivers; both latter actions are central to the Soma sacrifice.

Ushas (Sanskrit for “dawn”) is a Vedic deity, and consequently a Hindu deity as well. Ushas is an exalted goddess in the Rig Veda but less prominent in post-Rigvedic texts. She is often spoken of in the plural, “the Dawns.” She is portrayed as warding off evil spirits of the night, and as a beautifully adorned young woman riding in a golden chariot on her path across the sky. Due to her color she is often identified with the reddish cows, and both are released by Indra from the Vala cave at the beginning of time.

Vala cave is a stone cave split by Indra (intoxicated and strengthened by Soma), to liberate the cows and Ushas, hidden there by the Panis, a class of demons in the Rigveda, from paṇi-, a term for “bargainer, miser,” especially applied to one who is sparing of sacrificial oblations.

The word pani is also applied in the Rig Veda to human beings, even respected members of the community, who are unwilling to share their wealth. The Panis appear in RV 10.108 as watchers over stolen cow. The “rocky treasure-chest” of the Panis is identical to Vala, the stone split by Indra to liberate Dawn. The myth is a variant of that of Indra slaying Vrtra, imagined as a stone serpent, liberating the blocked rivers.

In Hindu mythology, Sarama is a mythological being referred to as the dog of the gods, or Deva-shuni. She first appears in one of Hinduism’s earliest texts, the Rig Veda, in which she helps the god-king Indra to recover divine cows stolen by the Panis, a class of demons.

Sarama is often associated with Indra. Early Rig-Vedic works do not depict Sarama as canine, but later Vedic mythologies and interpretations usually do. She is described as the mother of all dogs, in particular of the two four-eyed brindle dogs of the god Yama, and dogs are given the metronymic Sarameya (“offspring of Sarama”). One scripture further describes Sarama as the mother of all wild animals.

There are two epithets for Sarama in the original Rig Veda. Firstly, she is described as supadi, which means “having good feet”, “fair-footed” or “quick”, an epithet only used for Sarama in the text. Her other epithet is subhaga – “the fortunate one”, or “the beloved one” – a common epithet of the Ushas, the Dawn. Sarama’s other name Deva-shuni means “divine bitch” or “bitch of the gods”. It has been suggested that the Greek Hermes is a cognate of Sarama.

Sarama is the subject of a Rig-Vedic legend (1700–1100 BCE), which is related many times in the Veda, including the first (1.62.3, 1.72.8), third (3.31.6), fourth (4.16.8) and fifth (5.45.7, 5.45.8) Mandalas (Books of the Rig Veda).

In the legend a group of Asuras (“demons”) named Panis kidnap the cattle tended by the Angirasas – the ancestors of man, who were the sons of the sage Angiras, a rishi (or sage) who, along with sage Atharvan, is credited with having formulated (“heard”) most of the fourth Veda called Atharvaveda.

The Panis then hide the cows in a cave, until Sarama follows the tracks of the thieves and helps Indra to recover them. Sarama is described to have found the cows “by the path of truth”. She does this on the bidding of either Indra, Brihaspati, or a combination of Indra and the Angirasas, as narrated in the variants of the legend.

Sarama is described to have found the milk of the cattle, which nourished humanity. This is interpreted as Sarama teaching man to milk cows and use the butter created from it for fire-sacrifices. Sarama also finds food for her own young in the robbers’ hide-out. However, in the thanks-giving sacrifice the Angirasas hold for the gods after the recovery of the cattle, Sarama is neither given sacrifice nor invoked.

Sarama’s children, Sarameyas, are white with tawny limbs. They are described as common watchdogs, who can’t distinguish between Indra’s worshippers and the robbers.

As a messenger of Indra, Sarama is depicted in the tenth Mandala (10.108) as having a conversation with a group of Panis, in which the Panis even tempt her to share their booty and be their sister, although Sarama refuses. Sarama Deva-shuni is regarded as the author of her speech in this hymn. The 3rd century BCE text Sarvanukaramani of Katyayana also mentions the Panis’ offer to Sarama and her refusal.

Sarama is also mentioned in a few Vedic hymns, usually in connection with the Angirasas and the winning of the highest realms of existence, the most important of which is the Sukta of the Atris (5.45.8). Here, she is said to have found the herds by the path of the Truth.

Another hymn, the 31st of the third Mandala by Vishwamitra, tells about the fair-footed Sarama finding the hide-out and leading Indra to the cows. Here, Sarama is described as “knowing”, suggesting her intuitive powers. Brief allusions to Sarama appear in the rest of the hymns, such as the one by Parashara Shaktya.

The Anukramanika, the index to the Rig-Veda samhita (a part of the Rig-Veda), records that Indra sent the Deva-shuni to look for the cows and repeats that a conversation took place between Sarama and the Panis.

The Jaiminiya Brahmana and Sayana’s 14th century Satyayanaka add to the story. Indra first sends a supernatural bird Suparna to retrieve the cows, but he proves disloyal. Indra then deputes Sarama, who agrees to find the cows on the condition that her children will be given milk, a deal which secures milk not only for her children, but also for mankind.

Sayana’s commentary on the Rig Veda, Vedartha Prakasha, simplifies and adds some details to the original story as told in the Rig Veda. The ownership of the cows is attributed to Angirasas or Brihaspati. The cows are stolen by Panis, who dwell in the Vala, a stone cave. Indra sends Sarama on Brihaspati’s advice. Sarama tracks the cows to Vala, where the Panis try unsuccessfully to lure her to their side. Sayana also states that Sarama makes a deal with Indra before embarking on the search, that her children will be given milk and other food.

The 15th century work Nitimanjari by Dva Dviveda comments that “Though knowing The Truth, a person out of greed in this earthly life, loses all senses of values; Sarama, who knew The Truth, begged food from Indra on the occasion of redeeming the kine (cattle).”

The Samhita texts like the Vajasaneyi Samhita, the Kathaka, the Maitrayani Samhita and the Atharvaveda Samhita repeat Rig-Vedic verses with references to Sarama. The Atharvaveda Samhita has another reference to Sarama, which talks about her dew-claws, suggesting her place as deity for all dogs.

The Brahmana texts like Taittiriya Brahmana and Apastamba Shrauta Sutra narrate that Sarama, the “goddess in guise of a dog”, was deputed by Indra to roam in the mortal world, where she saw starving people. So Sarama created water to sustain food and led the water to flow in fields. She also found the divine cows, who provided milk to mankind.

Yaska’s Nirukta also records the story of the dialogue between Sarama and the Panis, and the story of the recovery of the cows, with his commentator, Durgacharya, filling in details in Sarama’s tale later.

Vala (valá-), meaning “enclosure” in Vedic Sanskrit, is a demon of the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda, the brother of Vrtra. Historically, it has the same origin as the Vrtra story, being derived from the same root, and from the same root also as Varuna, *val-/var- (PIE *wel-) “to cover, to enclose” (perhaps cognate to veil).

Already in 2.24, the story is given a mystical interpretation, with warlike Indra replaced by Brahmanaspati, the lord of prayer, who split Vala with prayer (brahman) rather than with the thunderbolt.

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).

The abduction and imprisonment of the dawn goddess, and her liberation by a heroic god slaying the dragon who imprisons her, is a central myth of Indo-European religion, reflected in numerous traditions. Most notably, it is the central myth of the Rigveda, a collection of hymns surrounding the Soma rituals dedicated to Indra in the New Year celebrations of the early Indo-Aryans.

In Norse mythology, Valhalla (from Old Norse Valhöll “hall of the slain”) is a majestic, enormous hall located in Asgard, ruled over by the god Odin. Chosen by Odin, half of those who die in combat travel to Valhalla upon death, led by valkyries, while the other half go to the goddess Freyja’s field Fólkvangr.

In Valhalla, the dead join the masses of those who have died in combat known as Einherjar, as well as various legendary Germanic heroes and kings, as they prepare to aid Odin during the events of Ragnarök.

In the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, Hel is described as having been appointed by the god Odin as ruler of a realm of the same name, located in Niflheim. In the same source, her appearance is described as half blue and half flesh-coloured and further as having a gloomy, downcast appearance. The Prose Edda details that Hel rules over vast mansions with many servants in her underworld realm and plays a key role in the attempted resurrection of the god Baldr.

Scholarly theories have been proposed about Hel’s potential connections to figures appearing in the 11th century Old English Gospel of Nicodemus and Old Norse Bartholomeus saga postola, that she may have been considered a goddess with potential Indo-European parallels in Bhavani, Kali, and Mahakali or that Hel may have become a being only as a late personification of the location of the same name.

Kālī, also known as Kālikā, is the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment, or shakti. She is the mighty aspect of the goddess Durga. The name of Kali means black one and force of time, she is therefore called the Goddess of Time, Change, Power, Creation, Preservation, and Destruction. Her earliest appearance is that of a destroyer principally of evil forces.

Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shākta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman; and recent devotional movements re-imagine Kāli as a benevolent mother goddess. She is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her. Kali is worshipped by Hindus throughout India but particularly South India, Bengal, and Assam.

According to Wendy Doniger, the Puranic Shiva is a continuation of the Vedic Indra. Doniger gives several reasons for her hypothesis. Both are associated with mountains, rivers, male fertility, fierceness, fearlessness, warfare, transgression of established mores, the Aum sound, the Supreme Self. In the Rig Veda the term śiva is used to refer to Indra. Indra, like Shiva, is likened to a bull. In the Rig Veda, Rudra is the father of the Maruts, but he is never associated with their warlike exploits as is Indra.

Týr is a Germanic god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws, Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu and Cyo, all from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. The Latinised name is Tius or Tio.

Týr is a god of war and will take mead, meat and blood for sacrifice. If a warrior carved the rune Tîwaz on his weapon he would be dedicating it to Týr and strengthen the outcome of a battle to be in his favor. After a warrior has dedicated his weapon to Týr he should not lose it or break it. Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio germanica. Tuesday is in fact “Tīw’s Day” (also in Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag), translating dies Martis.

There is sketchy evidence of a consort, in German named Zisa: Tacitus mentions one Germanic tribe who worshipped “Isis”, and Jacob Grimm pointed to Cisa/Zisa, the patroness of Augsburg, in this connection. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically.

In the late Icelandic Eddas, Týr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda), while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon, since his name is ultimately cognate to that of *Dyeus (cf. Dyaus), the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion.

It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war. Istanu (Ištanu; from Hattic Estan, “Sun-god”) was the Hittite and Hattic god of the sun. In Luwian he was known asTiwaz or Tijaz. He was a god of judgement, and was depicted bearing a winged sun on his crown or head-dress, and a crooked staff.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (DEREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal (lit. “Great Lady of the Earth” or “Lady of the Great Earth”). Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom.

The goddess Inanna/Ishtar refers to Ereshkigal as her older sister in the Sumerian hymn “The Descent of Inanna” (which was also in later Babylonian myth, also called “The Descent of Ishtar”). Her trip and return to the underworld is the most familiar of the myths concerning Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal is the sister and counterpart of Inanna/Ishtar, the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year. According to the doctrine of two kingdoms, the dominions of the two sisters are sharply differentiated, as one is of this world and one of the world of the dead.

Ereshkigal was also a queen that many gods and goddesses looked up to in the underworld. It was said that she had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly. She is the mother of the goddess Nungal. Her son with Enlil was the god Namtar. With Gugalana her son was Ninazu.

She is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines which date back to the Mesopotamia period. One of these myths is Inanna’s descent to the netherworld and her reception by her sister who presides over it; Ereshkigal traps her sister in her kingdom and Inanna is only able to leave it by sacrificing her husband Dumuzi in exchange for herself.

The other myth is the story of Nergal, the plague god. Nergal is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta. The worship of Nergal does not appear to have spread as widely as that of Ninurta, but in the late Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused the two divinities, which were invoked together as if they were identical.

Nergal seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with the sun god Shamash, but only representative of a certain phase of the sun. Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle. He has also been called “the king of sunset”.

Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. Nergal stands at the head of the special pantheon assigned to the government of the dead (supposed to be gathered in a large subterranean cave known as Aralu or Irkalla).

In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person. In some texts the god Ninazu, a god of the underworld, and of healing, and the father of Ningiszida, is the son of Nergal and Allatu/Ereshkigal.

In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars)—hence the current name of the planet. In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. Aplu may be related with Apaliunas who is considered to be the Hittite reflex of *Apeljōn, an early form of the name Apollo.

Once, the gods held a banquet that Ereshkigal, as queen of the Netherworld, could not come up to attend. They invited her to send a messenger, and she sent her vizier Namtar in her place. He was treated well by all, but for the exception of being disrespected by Nergal.

As a result of this, Nergal was banished to the kingdom controlled by the goddess. Versions vary at this point, but all of them result in him becoming her husband. In later tradition, Nergal is said to have been the victor, taking her as wife and ruling the land himself.

It is theorized that the story of Inanna’s descent is told to illustrate the possibility of an escape from the netherworld, while the Nergal myth is intended to reconcile the existence of two rulers of the netherworld: a goddess and a god.

The addition of Nergal represents the harmonizing tendency to unite Ereshkigal as the queen of the netherworld with the god who, as god of war and of pestilence, brings death to the living and thus becomes the one who presides over the dead.

In some versions of the myths, she rules the underworld by herself, sometimes with a husband subordinate to her named Gugalana (Sumerian:, “the Great Bull of Heaven”), better known as the Bull of Heaven (Sumerian:

Gugalanna was a Sumerian deity as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac. Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries. The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC.

Gugalanna was sent by the gods to take retribution upon Gilgamesh for rejecting the sexual advances of the goddess Inanna. Gugalanna, whose feet made the earth shake, was slain and dismembered by Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu. Inanna looked down from the city walls and Enkidu shook the haunches of the bull at her, threatening to do the same if he ever caught her. He is later killed for this impiety.

Gugalanna was the first husband of the Goddess Ereshkigal, the Goddess of the Realm of the Dead, a gloomy place devoid of light. It was to share the sorrow with her sister that Inanna later descends to the Underworld.

Taurus was the constellation of the Northern Hemisphere’s Spring Equinox from about 3,200 bc. The equinox was considered the Sumerian New Year, Akitu, an important event in their religion.

Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation.

Ishara (išḫara) is an ancient deity of unknown origin from northern Syria. She first appeared in Ebla from the mid 3rd millennium. In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar. While she was considered to belong to the entourage of Ishtar, she was invoked to heal the sick (Lebrun).

As a goddess, Ishara could inflict severe bodily penalties to oathbreakers, in particular ascites. In this context, she came to be seen as a “goddess of medicine” whose pity was invoked in case of illness. There was even a verb, isharis- “to be afflicted by the illness of Ishara”.

Ishara was well known in Syria from the third millennium BC. She became a great goddess of the Hurrian population. She was worshipped with Teshub, the storm god, and Simegi, the sun god. She then found her way to the Hittite pantheon. The etymology of Ishara is unknown. Ishara is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath.

Variants of the name appear as Ašḫara (in a treaty of Naram-Sin of Akkad with Hita of Elam) and Ušḫara (in Ugarite texts). In Ebla, there were various logographic spellings involving the sign AMA “mother”. In Alalah, her name was written with the Akkadogram IŠTAR plus a phonetic complement -ra, as IŠTAR-ra.

Ishara is a pre-Hurrian and perhaps pre-Semitic deities, later incorporated into the Hurrian pantheon. From the Hurrian Pantheon, Ishara entered the Hittite pantheon and had her main shrine in Kizzuwatna, the name of an ancient Anatolian kingdom in the 2nd millennium BC. It was situated in the highlands of southeastern Anatolia, near the Gulf of İskenderun in modern-day Turkey.

Her main epithet was Belet Rame (“Lady of Love”), which was also applied to Ishtar. In the Epic of Gilgamesh it says: ‘For Ishara the bed is made’ and in Atra-hasis she is called upon to bless the couple on the honeymoon.

Ishara was associated with the underworld. Her astrological embodiment is the constellation Scorpio and she is called the mother of the Sebitti (the Seven Stars), a group of seven minor war gods in Babylonian and Akkadian tradition. They are the children of the god Anu and follow the god Erra, an Akkadian plague god known from an ‘epos’ of the eighth century BCE, into battle.

In the northeastern quadrant of the Taurus constellation lie the Pleiades, one of the best known open clusters, easily visible to the naked eye. The seven most prominent stars in this cluster are at least visual magnitude six, and so the cluster is also named the “Seven Sisters”.

The high visibility of the star cluster Pleiades in the night sky has guaranteed it a special place in many cultures, both ancient and modern. The heliacal rising of Pleiades often marks important calendar points for ancient peoples.

The Spring, Summer and Winter Triangles

Venus – Vanir – Woman

Spring Triangle

Njord (Nerthus) – Freyr – Freyja

Ar (Sun – Mars/Ares) – Asir – Man

Taurus (Tyr) – Bull

Summer Triangle

Panis – Odin

Winter Triangle

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.

George Lovi of Sky & Telescope magazine had a slightly different Spring triangle, including the tail of Leo, Denebola, instead of Regulus. Denebola is dimmer, but the triangle is more nearly equilateral. These stars forms part of a larger Spring asterism called the Great Diamond together with Cor Caroli.

The Summer Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn on the northern hemisphere’s celestial sphere, with its defining vertices at Altair, Deneb, and Vega, the brightest stars in the three constellations of Aquila,Cygnus, and Lyra, respectively.

The Winter Hexagon or Winter Circle/Oval is an asterism appearing to be in the form of a hexagon with vertices at Rigel, Aldebaran, Capella, Pollux, Procyon, and Sirius. It is mostly upon the Northern Hemisphere’s celestial sphere. The stars in the hexagon are parts of six constellations. Counter-clockwise around the hexagon, starting with Rigel, these are Orion, Taurus, Auriga, Gemini, Canis Minor, and Canis Major.

On most locations on Earth (except the South Island of New Zealand and the south of Chile and Argentina and further south), this asterism is prominently in the sky from approximately December to March. In the tropics and southern hemisphere, this (then called “summer hexagon”) can be extended with the bright star Canopus in the south.

Smaller and more regularly shaped is the Winter Triangle (also known as the Great Southern Triangle), an approximately equilateral triangle that shares two vertices (Sirius and Procyon) with the larger asterism. The third vertex is Betelgeuse, which lies near the center of the hexagon.

These three stars are three of the ten brightest objects, as viewed from Earth, outside the Solar System. Betelgeuse is also particularly easy to locate, being a shoulder of Orion, which assists stargazers in finding the triangle. Once the triangle is located, the larger hexagon may then be found. Several of the stars in the hexagon may also be found independently of one another by following various lines traced through various stars in Orion.

Astraea (The Golden Age)

Astraea or Astrea (“star-maiden”), in ancient Greek religion, was a daughter of Astraeus and Eos. She was the virgin goddess of Innocence and purity and is always associated with the Greek goddess of justice, Dike (daughter of Zeus and Themis and the personification of just judgement). She is not to be confused with Asteria, the goddess of the stars and the daughter of Coeus and Phoebe.

Astraeus was an astrological deity and the Titan-god of the dusk. Some also associate him with the winds, as he is the father of the four Anemoi/wind deities. He is also sometimes associated with Aeolus, the Keeper of the Winds, since winds often swell up around dusk. Appropriately, as god of the dusk, Astraeus married Eos, goddess of the dawn. Together as nightfall and daybreak they produced many children who are associated with what occurs in the sky during twilight.

Astraea, the celestial virgin, was the last of the immortals to live with humans during the Golden Age, one of the old Greek religion’s five deteriorating Ages of Man. According to Ovid, Astraea abandoned the earth during the Iron Age. Fleeing from the new wickedness of humanity, she ascended to heaven to become the constellation Virgo. The nearby constellation Libra reflected her symbolic association with Dike, who in Latin culture as Justitia is said to preside over the constellation.

According to legend, Astraea will one day come back to Earth, bringing with her the return of the utopian Golden Age of which she was the ambassador.

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