Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The web of life – our destiny

Posted by Fredsvenn on May 14, 2016

Weaving (mythology)

Uttu in Sumerian mythology is the goddess of weaving and clothing. Uttu in Sumerian means “the woven” and she was illustrated as a spider in a web. She is both the child of Enki and Ninkur, and she bears seven new child/trees from Enki, the eighth being the Ti (Tree of “Life”, associated with the “Rib”). When Enki then ate Uttu’s children, Ninhursag cursed him with eight wounds and disappears. 

The web represents the destiny of an individual from the cradle to the grave. The allusion is to the three Fates who, according to Roman mythology, spin the thread of life, the pattern being the events which are to occur.

In pre-Dynastic Egypt, nt (Neith) was already the goddess of weaving (and a mighty aid in war as well). She protected the Red Crown of Lower Egypt before the two kingdoms were merged, and in Dynastic times she was known as the most ancient one, to whom the other gods went for wisdom.

Nit is identifiable by her emblems: most often it is the loom’s shuttle, with its two recognizable hooks at each end, upon her head. According to E. A. Wallis Budge (The Gods of the Egyptians) the root of the word for weaving and also for being are the same: nnt.

The Fates were a common motif in European polytheism, most frequently represented as a group of three mythological goddesses (although the numbers differed in certain eras and cultures). They were often depicted as weavers of a tapestry on a loom, a device used to weave cloth and tapestry, with the tapestry dictating the destinies of men.

The primary instances was the Hutena, the Hurrian goddesses of fate, the Gul Ses (Gul-Shesh; Gulshesh; Gul-ashshesh) in Hittite mythology, the Norns, the Fates of Norse mythology and related to other female deities in Germanic paganism, the Moirai of ancient Greece, the Fates of Greek mythology who control the Threads of Fate, the Parcae or Fata, plural of “fatum” (“prophetic declaration”, “oracle”, or “destiny”) in Roman mythology, and the Sudice, the Fates of Slavic mythology.

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. Christopher Siren reports that Hannahannah is associated with the Gulses.

Hecate, the chthonic Greek goddess associated with magic, witchcraft, necromancy, and three-way crossroads, appears as the master of the “Three witches”. In Ancient Greek religion, Hecate as goddess of childbirth is identified with Artemis, who was the leader (hegemone ) of the nymphs.

In Lithuanian mythology Laima is the personification of destiny, and her most important duty was to prophecy how the life of a newborn will take place. She may be related to the Hindu goddess Laksmi, who was the personification of wealth and prosperity, and associated with good fortune. In Latvian mythology, Laima and her sisters were a trinity of fate deities.

In Greek mythology, the Moirai or Moerae (“apportioners”), often known in English as the Fates (Latin: Fatae), were the white-robed incarnations of destiny; their Roman equivalent was the Parcae (euphemistically the “sparing ones”). Their number became fixed at three: Clotho (spinner), Lachesis (allotter) and Atropos (unturnable).

The Moirai were usually described as cold, remorseless and unfeeling, and depicted as old crones or hags. The independent spinster has always inspired fear rather than matrimony. They controlled the mother thread of life of every mortal from birth to death. They were independent, at the helm of necessity, directed fate, and watched that the fate assigned to every being by eternal laws might take its course without obstruction.

The gods and men had to submit to them, although Zeus’s relationship with them is a matter of debate: some sources say he is the only one who can command them (the Zeus Moiragetes), yet others suggest he was also bound to the Moirai’s dictates.

In the Homeric poems Moira or Aisa, is related with the limit and end of life and Zeus appears as the guider of destiny. In the Theogony of Hesiod, the three Moirai are personified, daughters of Nyx and are acting over the gods. Later they are daughters of Zeus and Themis, who was the embodiment of divine order and law. In Plato’s Republic the Three Fates are daughters of Ananke (necessity).

It seems that Moira is related with Tekmor (proof, ordinance) and with Ananke (destiny, necessity), who were primeval goddesses in mythical cosmogonies. The ancient Greek writers might call this power Moira or Ananke, and even the gods could not alter what was ordained.

In earliest Greek philosophy, the cosmogony of Anaximander is based on these mythical beliefs. The goddess Dike (justice, divine retribution), keeps the order and sets a limit to any actions.

The Ancient Greek word moira means a portion or lot of the whole, and is related to meros, “part, lot” and moros, “fate, doom”, Latin meritum, “desert, reward”, English merit, derived from the PIE root *(s)mer, “to allot, assign”.

Moira may mean portion or share in the distribution of booty (“equal booty”), portion in life, lot, destiny, (“the immortals fixed the destiny”) death (“destiny of death”), portion of the distributed land. The word is also used for something which is meet and right (“according to fate, in order, rightly”).

It seems that originally the word moira did not indicate destiny but included ascertainment or proof, a non-abstract certainty. The word daemon, which was an agent related to unexpected events, came to be similar to the word moira. This agent or cause against human control might be also called tyche (chance, fate): “You mistress moira, and tyche, and my daemon”.

The word nomos, “law”, may have meant originally a portion or lot, as in the verb nemein, “to distribute”, and thus “natural lot” came to mean “natural law”. The word dike, “justice”, conveyed the notion that someone should stay within his own specified boundaries, respecting the ones of his neighbour.

If someone broke his boundaries, thus getting more than his ordained part, then he would be punished by law. By extension, moira was one’s portion or part in destiny which consisted of good and bad moments as was predetermined by the Moirai (Fates), and it was impossible for anyone to get more than his ordained part. In Modern Greek the word came to mean “destiny”.

Kismet, the predetermined course of events in the Muslim traditions, seems to have a similar etymology and function: Arabic qismat “lot” qasama, “to divide, allot” developed to mean Fate or destiny. As a loanword, qesmat ‘fate’ appears in Persian, whence in Urdu language, and eventually in English Kismet.

The concept of a universal principle of natural order has been compared to similar concepts in other cultures like the Vedic Rta, the Avestan Asha (Arta) and the Egyptian Maat.

The notion of a universal principle of natural order has been compared to similar ideas in other cultures, such as aša, (Asha) in Avestan religion, Rta in Vedic religion, and Maat in Ancient Egyptian religion.

In the Avestan religion and Zoroastrianism, aša, is commonly summarized in accord with its contextual implications of “truth”, “right(eousness)”, “order”. Aša and its Vedic equivalent, Rta, are both derived from a PIE root meaning “properly joined, right, true”. The word is the proper name of the divinity Asha, the personification of “Truth” and “Righteousness”. Aša corresponds to an objective, material reality which embraces all of existence.

This cosmic force is imbued also with morality, as verbal Truth, and Righteousness, action conforming with the moral order. In the literature of the Mandeans, an angelic being has the responsibility of weighing the souls of the deceased to determine their worthiness, using a set of scales.

In the Vedic religion, Rta is an ontological principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe. The term is now interpreted abstractly as “cosmic order”, or simply as “truth”, although it was never abstract at the time.

It seems that this idea originally arose in the Indo-Aryan period, from a con-sideration (so denoted to indicate the original meaning of communing with the star beings) of the qualities of nature which either remain constant or which occur on a regular basis.

The individuals fulfill their true natures when they follow the path set for them by the ordinances of Rta, acting according to the Dharma, which is related to social and moral spheres. The god of the waters Varuna was probably originally conceived as the personalized aspect of the otherwise impersonal Ṛta. The gods are never portrayed as having command over Ṛta, but instead they remain subject to it like all created beings.

In Egyptian religion, maat was the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, law, morality, and justice. The word is the proper name of the divinity Maat, who was the goddess of harmony, justice, and truth represented as a young woman. It was considered that she set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation. Maat was the norm and basic values that formed the backdrop for the application of justice that had to be carried out in the spirit of truth and fairness.

In Egyptian mythology, Maat dealt with the weighing of souls that took place in the underworld. Her feather was the measure that determined whether the souls (considered to reside in the heart) of the departed would reach the paradise of afterlife successfully.

In the famous scene of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Anubis, using a scale, weighs the sins of a man’s heart against the feather of truth, which represents maat. If man’s heart weighs down, then he is devoured by a monster.

In Norse mythology the Norns are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men, twining the thread of life. They set up the laws and decided on the lives of the children of men. Their names were Urðr (that which became or happened) related with Wyrd, weird (fate), Verðandi (that which is happening) and Skuld (that which should become, debt, guilt).

The English words fate (native wyrd) and fairy (magic, enchantment), are both derived from “fata”, “fatum” . In Anglo-Saxon culture Wyrd (Weird) is a concept corresponding to fate or personal destiny (literally: what befalls one). Its Norse cognate is Urðr, and both names are deriven from the PIE root wert, “to turn, wind”, related with “spindle, distaff”. In Old English literature Wyrd goes ever as she shall, and remains wholly inevitable.

In Macbeth the Weird sisters (or Three Witches), are prophetesses, who are deeply entrenched in both worlds of reality and supernatural. Their creation was influenced by British folklore, witchcraft, and the legends of the Norns and the Moirai.

In younger legendary sagas, the Norns appear to have been synonymous with witches (Völvas), and they arrive at the birth of the hero to shape his destiny. It seems that originally all of them were Disir, ghosts or deities associated with destruction and destiny. The notion that they were three, their distinction and association with the past, present and future may be due to a late influence from Greek and Roman mythology.

The Valkyries (choosers of the slain), were originally daemons of death. They were female figures who decided who will die in battle, and brought their chosen to the afterlife hall of the slain. They were also related with spinning, and one of them was named Skuld (debt, guilt).

They may be related to Keres, the daemons of death in Greek mythology, who accompanied the dead to the entrance of Hades. In the scene of Kerostasie Keres are the “lots of death”, and in some cases Ker (destruction) has the same meaning, with Moira interpreted as “destiny of death” .

The Germanic Matres and Matrones, female deities almost entirely in a group of three, have been proposed as connected to the Norns and the Valkyries.

In Germanic mythology, Frigg (Old Norse), Frija (Old High German), Frea (Langobardic), and Frige (Old English) is a goddess. In nearly all sources, she is described as the wife of the god Odin. She dwells in the wetland halls of Fensalir, is famous for her foreknowledge and wisdom, is associated with the goddesses Fulla, Lofn, Hlín, and Gná, and is ambiguously associated with the Earth, otherwise personified as an apparently separate entity Jörð (Old Norse “Earth”).

The children of Frigg and Odin include the gleaming god Baldr. Due to significant thematic overlap, scholars have proposed a particular connection to the goddess Freyja, a goddess associated with love, sex, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death. The English weekday name Friday (etymologically Old English “Frīge’s day”) bears her name.

Frigg spins clouds from her bejewelled distaff in the Norse constellation known as Frigg’s Spinning Wheel (Friggerock, Orion’s belt). The constellation called “Orion’s Belt” in English is known as “Frigg’s Distaff” (Friggerock).

Some have pointed out that the constellation is on the celestial equator and have suggested that the stars rotating in the night sky may have been associated with Frigg’s spinning wheel. She is said to have woven or spun the clouds.

As a noun, a distaff (also called a rock) is a tool used in spinning. It is designed to hold the unspun fibers, keeping them untangled and thus easing the spinning process. It is most commonly used to hold flax, and sometimes wool, but can be used for any type of fiber. Fiber is wrapped around the distaff, and tied in place with a piece of ribbon or string. The word comes from dis in Low German, meaning a bunch of flax, connected with staff.

As an adjective, the term distaff is used to describe the female side of a family (e.g., the “distaff side” of a person’s family refers to the person’s mother and her blood relatives). This term developed in the English-speaking communities where a distaff spinning tool was used often to symbolize domestic life. The term distaff has fallen largely into disuse in recent times, and its antonyms of sword, spear and agnate to describe a male grouping are even more obscure.

Distaff Day, also called Roc Day, is 7 January, the day after the feast of the Epiphany (“Manifestation”, “striking appearance”) or Theophany (“Vision of God”), also known as Three Kings’ Day, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God in his Son as human in Jesus Christ. It is also known as Saint Distaff’s Day, one of the many unofficial holidays in Catholic nations.

In Western Christianity, the feast commemorates principally (but not solely) the visit of the Magi to the Christ child, and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the Gentiles. The observance had its origins in the Eastern Christian Churches and was a general celebration of the manifestation of theIncarnation of Jesus Christ.

It included the commemoration of his birth; the visit of the Magi all of Jesus’ childhood events, up to and including his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist; and even the miracle at the wedding at Cana in Galilee. It seems fairly clear that the Baptism was the primary event being commemorated.

Moreover, the feast of the Epiphany, in some Western Christian denominations, also initiates the liturgical season of Epiphanytide. Eastern Christians, on the other hand, commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God.

The traditional date for the feast is January 6. However, since 1970, the celebration is held in some countries on the Sunday after January 1. Eastern Churches following the Julian Calendar observe the Theophany feast on what for most countries is January 19 because of the 13-day difference today between that calendar and the generally used Gregorian calendar. In many Western Christian Churches, the eve of the feast is celebrated as Twelfth Night. The Monday after Epiphany is known as Plough Monday.

The Koine Greek epiphaneia derives from the verb “to appear” and means “manifestation”, “appearance”. In classical Greek it was used of the appearance of dawn, of an enemy in war, but especially of a manifestation of a deity to a worshiper (a theophany). In the Septuagint the word is used of a manifestation of the God of Israel (2 Maccabees 15:27). In the New Testament the word is used in 2 Timothy 1:10 to refer either to the birth of Christ or to his appearance after his resurrection, and five times to refer to his Second Coming.

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