Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The change of beginng of the calendar – from equinox (Libra, Venus, Vanir, Woman) to solstice (Sun, Mercury, Capricorn, Asir, Man)

Posted by Fredsvenn on May 15, 2016

Old Bulgarian Asrto Calendar Moon Monday Mars Tuesday Mercury Wednesday Jupiter Thursday Venus Friday Saturn Saturday Sun, Sun:

Mars (Aries) – Venus (Virgo)

Moon/Monday – Mars/Tuesday – Mercury/Wednesday – Jupiter/Thursday – Venus/Friday – Saturn/Saturday – Sun/Sunday

The Sun – Solstice 

The stars – Equinox

Inanna/Tammuz – Enlil/Enki 

Mars – Enlil/Enki – Venus – Enki/Enlil

An/Inanna/Tammuz – Enki /Enlil

Enki/Janus/Odin – Enlil/Saturn/Njord

Tyr-Balder/Shiva/Nergal – Hel/Kali/Ereshkigal

Inanna/Nanna – Tammuz/Balder

Pisces (Inanna) /Aries (Tammuz)- Taurus (Gugalanna) – Capricorn-Aquarius (Enki)

Equinox (Venus/Mars) – Solstice (Enki/Enlil) 

Haushos

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.

Derivatives of *hewsṓs in the historical mythologies of Indo-European peoples include Indian Uṣas, Greek Ēōs, Latin Aurōra, and Baltic Aušra (“dawn”, c.f. Lithuanian Aušrinė). Germanic *Austrōn- is from an extended stem *hews-tro-.

By way of linguistic reconstruction, the matter of a goddess called *Austrō in the Proto-Germanic language has been examined in detail since the foundation of Germanic philology in the 19th century by scholar Jacob Grimm and others.

As the Germanic languages descend from Proto-Indo-European (PIE), historical linguists have traced the name to a Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn *Hewsṓs (→ *Ausṓs), from which descends the Common Germanic divinity from whom Ēostre and Ostara are held to descend.

Ostara is a Germanic goddess who, by way of the Germanic month bearing her name (Northumbrian:Ēosturmōnaþ; West Saxon: Ēastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth), is the namesake of the festival of Easter in some languages.

Ēostre is attested solely by Bede in his 8th-century work The Reckoning of Time, where Bede states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent of April), pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Eostre’s honor, but that this tradition had died out by his time, replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.

The name *hewsṓs 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.

Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *h₂ewsṓs, a number of epithets of the dawn goddess may be reconstructed with some certainty. Among these is *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. As a consequence, the love goddess aspect was separated from the personification of dawn in a number of traditions, including Roman Venus vs. Aurora, and Greek Aphrodite vs. Eos. The name of Aphrodite may still preserve her role as a dawn goddess, etymologized as “she who shines from the foam [ocean]” (from aphros “foam” and deato “to shine”).

J.P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams (1997) have also proposed an etymology based on the connection with the Indo-European dawn goddess, from *abhor- “very” and *dhei “to shine”. Other epithets include Ἠριγόνη Erigone “early-born” in Greek.

The Italic goddess Mater Matuta “Mother Morning” has been connected to Aurora by Roman authors (Lucretius, Priscianus). Her festival, the Matralia, fell on 11 June, beginning at dawn.

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.

The Abduction of the Dawn Goddess

 

 

 

 

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.

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; both latter actions are central to the Soma sacrifice.

He is associated with Vajrapani – the Chief Dharmapala. On the other hand, he also commits many kinds of mischief (kilbiṣa) for which he is sometimes punished. In the Puranas, Indra is bestowed with a heroic and almost brash and amorous character at times, even as his reputation and role diminished in later Hinduism with the rise of the Trimurti.

In Mesopotamian Religion, Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation, depicted as a woman she represents the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a “Sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second “Chaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.

In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu, correctly assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed.

Enraged, she, too, wars upon her husband’s murderers, taking on the form of a massive sea dragon, she is then slain by Enki’s son, the storm-god Marduk, but not before she had brought forth the monsters of the Mesopotamian pantheon, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with “poison instead of blood”. Marduk then forms heavens and the earth from her divided body.

Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu (Apsu in Akkadian), the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth.

In the later Babylonian epic Enûma Eliš, Abzu, the “begetter of the gods”, is inert and sleepy but finds his peace disturbed by the younger gods, so sets out to destroy them. His grandson Enki, chosen to represent the younger gods, puts a spell on Abzu “casting him into a deep sleep”, thereby confining him deep underground. Enki subsequently sets up his home “in the depths of the Abzu.” Enki thus takes on all of the functions of the Abzu, including his fertilising powers as lord of the waters and lord of semen.

In another even older tradition, Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR), a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology, was the goddess of the primeval creative matter and the mother-goddess portrayed as having “given birth to the great gods”.  According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu.

It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going. The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans. And Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods.

Nammu was the mother of Enki, and as the watery creative force, was said to preexist Ea-Enki. Benito states “With Enki it is an interesting change of gender symbolism, the fertilising agent is also water, Sumerian “a” or “Ab” which also means “semen”.

Nammu was the Goddess Sea (Engur) that gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first gods, representing the Apsu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall.

Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions. Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.

Puruli (EZEN Puruliyas) was a Hattian spring festival, held at Nerik, dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna, who is married to a new king.

The central ritual of the Puruli festival is dedicated to the destruction of the dragon Illuyanka by the storm god Teshub. The corresponding Assyrian festival is the Akitu of the Enuma Elish. Also compared are the Canaanite Poem of Baal and Psalms 93 and 29.

Inara, in Hittite–Hurrian mythology, was the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe and daughter of the Storm-god Teshub/Tarhunt. She corresponds to the “potnia theron” of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis. Inara’s mother is probably Hebat and her brother is Sarruma.

After the dragon Illuyanka wins an encounter with the storm god, the latter asks Inara to give a feast, most probably the Purulli festival (EZEN Puruliyas), a Hattian spring festival, held at Nerik, dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna, who is married to a new king.

Inara decides to use the feast to lure and defeat Illuyanka, who was her father’s archenemy, and enlists the aid of a mortal named Hupasiyas of Zigaratta by becoming his lover. The dragon and his family gorge themselves on the fare at the feast, becoming quite drunk, which allows Hupasiyas to tie a rope around them. Inara’s father can then kill Illuyanka, thereby preserving creation.

Inara built a house on a cliff and gave it to Hupasiyas. She left one day with instructions that he was not to look out the window, as he might see his family. But he looked and the sight of his family made him beg to be allowed to return home. It is not known what happened next, but there is speculation that Inara killed Hupasiyas for disobeying her, or for hubris, or that he was allowed to return to his family.

The mother goddess Hannahannah promises Inara land and a man during a consultation by Inara. Inara then disappears. Her father looks for her, joined by Hannahannah with a bee. The story resembles that of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, in Greek myth.

Akitu or Akitum (Sumerian: ezen á.ki.tum, akiti-šekinku, á.ki.ti.še.gur.ku, lit. “the barley-cutting”, akiti-šununum, lit. “barley-sowing”; Akkadian: akitu orrêš-šattim, “head of the year”) was a spring festival in ancient Mesopotamia.

The name is from the Sumerian for “barley”, originally marking two festivals celebrating the beginning of each of the two half-years of the Sumerian calendar, marking the sowing of barley in autumn and the cutting of barley in spring. In Babylonian religion it came to be dedicated to Marduk’s victory over Tiamat.

Inanna was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The House of Heaven (Sumerian: e-anna) in Uruk was the greatest of these, where sacred prostitution was a common practice.

In addition, according to Leick 1994 persons of asexual or hermaphroditic bodies and feminine men were particularly involved in the worship and ritual practices of Inanna’s temples.

The deity of this fourth-millennium city was probably originally An. After its dedication to Inanna the temple seems to have housed priestesses of the goddess. The high priestess would choose for her bed a young man who represented the shepherd Dumuzid, consort of Inanna, in a hieros gamos or sacred marriage, celebrated during the annual Akitu (New Year) ceremony, at the spring Equinox.

According to Samuel Noah Kramer in The Sacred Marriage Rite, in late Sumerian history (end of the third millennium) kings established their legitimacy by taking the place of Dumuzi in the temple for one night on the tenth day of the New Year festival.

A Sacred Marriage to Inanna may have conferred legitimacy on a number of rulers of Uruk. Gilgamesh is reputed to have refused marriage to Inanna, on the grounds of her misalliance with such kings as Lugalbanda and Damuzi.

Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.

Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.

In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar.

The Levantine Adonis (“lord”), who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.

Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East, as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god. In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East.

Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity: tablets discovered in 1963 show that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year.

Vanir – Æsir

In Old Norse, ǫ́ss (or áss, ás, plural æsir; feminine ásynja, plural ásynjur) is the term denoting a member of the principal pantheon in the indigenous Germanic religion known as Norse religion. The second pantheon comprises the Vanir (singular Vanr).

All sources describe the deities Njörðr, Freyr and Freyja as members of the Vanir, while Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Týr is described as members of the Vanir. 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.

The Vanir are the namesake of the location Vanaheimr (Old Norse “Home of the Vanir”). Numerous theories have been proposed for the etymology of Vanir. Scholar R. I. Page says that, while there are no shortages of etymologies for the word, it is tempting to link the word with “Old Norse vinr, ‘friend’, and Latin Venus, ‘goddess of physical love.'”

Æsir is the plural of áss, óss “god” (gen. āsir) which is attested in other Germanic languages, e.g., Old English ōs (gen. pl. ēsa) and Gothic (as reported by Jordanes) anses “half-gods”. These all stem from Proto-Germanic *ansis ~ ansuz, which itself comes from Proto-Indo-European *hénsus (gen. hn̥sóus) “life force” (cf. Avestan aŋhū “lord; lifetime”, ahura “godhood”, Sanskrit ásu “life force”, ásura “god” (< *hn̥suró)). It is widely accepted that this word is further related to *hens- “to engender” (cf. Hittite hass- “to procreate, give birth”, Tocharian B ās- “to produce”).

The cognate term in Old English is ōs (plural ēse) denoting a deity in Anglo-Saxon paganism. The Old High German is ans (plural ensî). The Gothic language had ans- (based only on Jordanes who glossed anses with uncertain meaning, possibly ‘demi-god’ and presumably a Latinized form of actual plural *anseis). The reconstructed Proto-Germanic form is *ansuz (plural *ansiwiz).

The a-rune, Younger Futhark was probably named after the Æsir. The name in this sense survives only in the Icelandic rune poem as Óss, referring to Odin in particular, identified with Jupiter: Óss er algingautr / ok ásgarðs jöfurr, / ok valhallar vísi. / Jupiter oddviti (“Óss is Aged Gautr / and prince of Asgard / and lord of Valhalla / chieftain Jupiter”).

Ansuz is the conventional name given to the a-rune of the Elder Futhark. The name is based on Common Germanic *ansuz “a god, one of the main deities in Germanic paganism”. The shape of the rune is likely from Neo-Etruscan a, like Latin A ultimately from Phoenician aleph.

The Phoenician letter is derived from an Egyptian hieroglyph depicting an ox’s head and gave rise to the Greek Alpha (Α), being re-interpreted to express not the glottal consonant but the accompanying vowel, and hence the Latin A and Cyrillic А.

Since the name of a is attested in the Gothic alphabet as ahsa or aza, the common Germanic name of the rune may thus either have been *ansuz “god”, or*ahsam “ear (of wheat)”. In the Norwegian rune poem, óss is given a meaning of “estuary” while in the Anglo-Saxon one, ōs, takes the Latin meaning of “mouth”.

The Anglo-Saxon futhorc split the Elder Futhark a rune into three independent runes due to the development of the vowel system in Anglo-Frisian. These three runes are ōs (transliterated o), æsc (“ash”) (transliterated æ) and ac (“oak”) (transliterated a).

The Younger Futhark rune is transliterated as ą to distinguish it from the new ár rune, which continues the jēran rune after loss of prevocalic *j- in Proto-Norse *jár (Old Saxon jār).

In Norse mythology, the two pantheons wage the Æsir-Vanir War, which results in a unified pantheon. The Vanir appear to have mainly been connected with cultivation, fertility, wisdom, nature, magic, and the ability to see the future and the Æsir were connected with power and war.

Given the difference between their roles and emphases, some scholars have speculated that the interactions between the Æsir and the Vanir reflect the types of interaction that were occurring between social classes (or clans) within Norse society at the time.

According to another theory, the Vanir (and the fertility cult associated with them) may be more archaic than that of the more warlike Æsir, such that the mythical war may mirror a half-remembered religious conflict. Another historical theory is that the inter-pantheon interaction may be an apotheosization of the conflict between the Romans and the Sabines.

Finally, the noted comparative religion scholar Mircea Eliade speculated that this conflict is actually a later version of an Indo-European myth concerning the conflict between and eventual integration of a pantheon of sky/warrior/ruler gods and a pantheon of earth/economics/fertility gods, with no strict historical antecedents.

The First Point of Aries 

The First Point of Aries is the location of the vernal equinox, and is named for the constellation of Aries. It is one of the two points on the celestial sphere at which the celestial equator meets the ecliptic plane, the other being the First Point of Libra, located exactly 180° from it.

Over its year-long journey through the constellations, the Sun crosses the celestial equator from south to north at the First Point of Aries, and from north to south at the First Point of Libra. The First Point of Aries is considered to be the celestial “prime meridian” from which right ascensions are calculated.

The First Point of Aries (also known as the Cusp of Aries) is so called because, when Hipparchus defined it in 130 BCE, it was located in the western extreme of the constellation of Aries, near its border with Pisces and the star γ Arietis. Due to the Sun’s eastward movement across the sky throughout the year, this western end of Aries was the point at which the Sun entered the constellation, hence the name First Point of Aries.

Due to Earth’s axial precession, this point gradually moves westwards at a rate of about one degree every 72 years. This means that, since the time of Hipparchus, it has shifted across the sky by about 30°, and is currently located within Pisces, near its border with Aquarius. Currently, the closest major star to the First Point of Aries is λ Piscium, located at (23h 42m 03s, 01° 46′ 48″). The Sun now appears in Aries from late April through mid May, though the constellation is still associated with the beginning of spring.

The Cusp of Aries is important to the fields of astronomy, nautical navigation and astrology. Navigational ephemeris tables record the geographic position of the First Point of Aries as the reference for position of navigational stars.

Due to the precession of the equinoxes, the astrological signs of the tropical zodiac are likewise identically affected and thus also no longer correspond with the actual constellations once ascribed to them (with the Cusp of Libra now actually located within Virgo), and is the basis for the concept of astrological ages. In sidereal astrology (notably Hindu astrology), by contrast, the first point of Aries remains aligned with Ras Hammel “the head of the ram”, i.e. the Aries constellation.

Other names for the First Point of Aries:

Spring equinox and fall (or autumn) equinox: Colloquial names based on the seasons. However, these can be ambiguous since the northern hemisphere’s spring is the southern hemisphere’s autumn, and vice versa. The Latinate names vernal equinox (spring) and autumnal equinox (fall) are often used to the same effect.

March equinox and September equinox: Names referring to the months of the year they occur, with no ambiguity as to which hemisphere is the context. They are still not universal, however, as not all cultures use a solar-based calendar where the equinoxes occur every year in the same month (as they do not in the Islamic calendar and Hebrew calendar, for example).

Northward equinox and southward equinox: Names referring to the apparent direction of motion of the Sun. The northward equinox occurs in March when the sun crosses the equator from south to north, and the southward equinox occurs in September when the sun crosses the equator from north to south. These terms can be used unambiguously for other planets.

First Point of Aries and first point of Libra: Names referring to the astrological signs the sun is entering. Due to the precession of the equinoxes, however, the constellations where the equinoxes are currently located are Pisces and Virgo, respectively.

March equinox 

An equinox is an astronomical event in which the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the center of the Sun, which occurs twice each year, around 20 March and 23 September. The oldest meaning of the word “equinox” refers to a day when daytime and nighttime are of approximately equal duration. The word “equinox” comes from this definition and is derived from the Latin aequinoctium, aequus (equal) and nox (genitive noctis) (night).

On an equinox, day and night are of approximately equal duration all over the planet. They are not exactly equal, however, due to the angular size of the sun and atmospheric refraction. To avoid this ambiguity, the word equilux is sometimes used to mean a day in which the durations of light and darkness are equal.

The equinoxes are the only times when the solar terminator (the “edge” between night and day) is perpendicular to the equator. As a result, the northern and southern hemispheres are equally illuminated.

In other words, the equinoxes are the only times when the subsolar point is on the equator, meaning that the Sun is exactly overhead at a point on the equatorial line. The subsolar point crosses the equator moving northward at the March equinox and southward at the September equinox.

The equinoxes, along with solstices, are directly related to the seasons of the year. In the northern hemisphere, the vernal equinox (March) conventionally marks the beginning of spring in most cultures and is considered the New Year in the Persian calendar or Iranian calendars as Nouroz (means new day), while the autumnal equinox (September) marks the beginning of autumn. In the southern hemisphere, the vernal equinox occurs in September and the autumnal equinox in March.

The March equinox or Northward equinox is the equinox on the Earth when the Sun appears to leave the southern hemisphere and cross the celestial equator, heading northward as seen from earth. In the Northern Hemisphere the March equinox is known as the vernal equinox, and in the Southern Hemisphere as the autumnal equinox.

On the Gregorian calendar the Northward equinox can occur as early as March 19 or as late as March 21. For a common year the computed time slippage is about 5 hours 49 minutes later than the previous year, and for a leap year about 18 hours 11 minutes earlier than the previous year. Balancing the increases of the common years against the losses of the leap years keeps the calendar date of the March equinox from drifting more than one day from March 20 each year.

The March equinox is one point in time commonly used to determine the length of the tropical year. The mean tropical year is the average of all the tropical years measured from every point along the earth’s orbit.

When tropical year measurements from several successive years are compared, variations are found which are due to nutation, and to the planetary perturbations acting on the Sun. Meeus and Savoie (1992, p. 41) provided the following examples of intervals between northward equinoxes:

The point where the sun crosses the celestial equator northwards is called the First Point of Aries. However, due to the precession of the equinoxes, this point is no longer in the constellation Aries, but rather in Pisces. By the year 2600 it will be in Aquarius.

Based on the modern constellation boundaries, the northward equinox passed from Taurus into Aries in the year −1865 (1866 BC), passed into Pisces in the year −67 (68 BC), will pass into Aquarius in the year 2597, and will pass into Capricornus in the year 4312. It passed by (but not into) a ‘corner’ of Cetus at 0°10′ distance in the year 1489.

In its apparent motion on the day of an equinox, the Sun’s disk crosses the Earth’s horizon directly to the east at dawn—rising; and again, some 12 hours later, directly to the west at dusk—setting. But an equinoctial day produces several minutes more daylight time than nighttime, for reasons that follow.

Due to refraction of light rays in the Earth’s atmosphere the Sun, whether rising or setting, will, in part, show above the horizon even when its disc is completely below the limb of Earth’s horizon. Also, viewed from the Earth, the Sun presents as an extended object (a disc) source of light rather than a point source of light, and its upper disk is visible even when the center of the Sun is below Earth’s horizon.

Thus, sunrise produces daylight several minutes before the Sun’s geometric center crosses from below the horizon; a converse sequence occurs at dusk, and sunset produces daylight several minutes after the setting of the center of the Sun to below Earth’s horizon.

These conditions produce differentials of actual durations of light and darkness at various locations on Earth during an equinox; see lengths of equinoctial day and night.

To viewers at the north or south poles, the sun appears to move steadily around the horizon, and just above the horizon, neither rising nor setting apart from “movement in declination”, i.e., elevation, which is about (0.39) degree per day.

The Babylonian calendar began with the first full moon after the vernal equinox, the day after the Sumerian goddess Inanna’s return from the underworld (later known as Ishtar), in the Akitu ceremony, with parades through the Ishtar Gate to the Eanna temple, and the ritual re-enactment of the marriage to Tammuz, or Sumerian Dummuzi.

The Persian calendar begins each year at the northward equinox, observationally determined at Tehran. The Indian national calendar starts the year on the day next to the vernal equinox on March 22 (March 21 in leap years) with a 30-day month (31 days in leap years), then has 5 months of 31 days followed by 6 months of 30 days.

The Julian calendar reform lengthened seven months and replaced the intercalary month with an intercalary day to be added every four years to February. It was based on a length for the year of 365 days and 6 hours (365.25 d), while the mean tropical year is about 11 minutes and 15 seconds less than that. This had the effect of adding about three quarters of an hour every four years. The effect accumulated from inception in 45 BC until the 16th century, when the northern vernal equinox fell on March 10 or 11.

Bas-relief in Persepolis – a symbolIranian/Persian Nowruz – on the day of an equinox, the power of an eternally fighting bull (personifying the Earth) and that of a lion (personifying the Sun) are equal.

According to the Abrahamic tradition the Jewish Passover usually falls on the first full moon after the northern hemisphere vernal equinox, although occasionally (currently three times every 19 years) it will occur on the second full moon.

The Christian Churches calculate Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the March equinox. The official church definition for the equinox is March 21. The Eastern Orthodox Churches use the older Julian calendar, while the western churches use the Gregorian calendar, and the western full moons currently fall four, five or 34 days before the eastern ones.

The result is that the two Easters generally fall on different days but they sometimes coincide. The earliest possible Easter date in any year is March 22 on each calendar. The latest possible Easter date in any year is April 25.

The northward equinox marks the first day of various calendars including the Iranian calendar. The ancient Iranian new year’s festival of Nowruz can be celebrated March 20 or March 21.

According to the ancient Persian mythology Jamshid, the mythological king of Persia, ascended to the throne on this day and each year this is commemorated with festivities for two weeks. These festivities recall the story of creation and the ancient cosmology of Iranian and Persian people. It is also a holiday celebrated.

As well as being a Zoroastrian holiday, it is also a holy day for adherents of the Bahá’í Faith and the Nizari Ismaili Muslims. The Bahá’í Naw-rúz is calculated using astronomical tables – the new year always starts at the sunset preceding the vernal equinox calculated for Tehran. In many Arab countries, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the northward equinox.

September equinox 

The September equinox (or Southward equinox) is the moment when the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading southward. Due to differences between the calendar year and the tropical year, the September equinox can occur at any time from the 21st to the 24th day of September.

At the equinox, the Sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west. Before the Southward equinox, the Sun rises and sets more and more to the north, and afterwards, it rises and sets more and more to the south. The September equinox is one point in time commonly used to determine the length of the tropical year.

The point where the Sun crosses the celestial equator southwards is called the first point of Libra. However, due to the precession of the equinoxes, this point is no longer in the constellation Libra, but rather in Virgo. The September equinox passed from Libra into Virgo in year −729, will pass into Leo in year 2439.

At the equinox, the Sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west. However, because of refraction it will usually appear slightly above the horizon at the moment when its “true” middle is rising or setting. For viewers at the north or south poles, it moves virtually horizontally on or above the horizon, not obviously rising or setting apart from the movement in “declination” (and hence altitude) of a little under a half (0.39) degree per day.

For observers in either hemisphere not at the poles, the further one goes in time away from the September equinox in the 3 months before that equinox, the more to the north the Sun has been rising and setting, and for the 3 months afterwards it rises and sets more and more to the south.

The Southward equinox marks the first day of Mehr or Libra in the Iranian calendar. It is one of the Iranian festivals called Jashne Mihragan, or the festival of sharing or love in Zoroastrianism.

The Roman celebration of the Fall Equinox was dedicated to Pomona, goddess of fruits and growing things. The traditional harvest festival in the United Kingdom was celebrated on the Sunday of the full moon closest to the September equinox.

The Southward equinox was “New Year’s Day” in the French Republican Calendar, which was in use from 1793 to 1805. The French First Republic was proclaimed and the French monarchy was abolished on September 21, 1792, making the following day (the equinox day that year) the first day of the “Republican Era” in France. The start of every year was to be determined by astronomical calculations following the real Sun and not the mean Sun.

Summer Solstice 

Solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still). The summer solstice occurs when the tilt of a planet’s semi-axis, in either northern or southern hemispheres, is most inclined toward the star that it orbits.

Earth’s maximum axial tilt toward the Sun is 23° 26′. This happens twice each year (once in each hemisphere), at which times the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the North or the South Pole.

The summer solstice occurs during a hemisphere’s summer. This is the northern solstice in the northern hemisphere and the southern solstice in the southern hemisphere.

Depending on the shift of the calendar, the summer solstice occurs some time between June 20 and June 22 in the northern hemisphere and between December 20 and December 23 each year in the southern hemisphere. The same dates in the opposite hemisphere are referred to as the winter solstice.

When on a geographic pole, the Sun reaches its greatest height, the moment of solstice it can be noon only along that longitude which at that moment lies in the direction of the Sun from the pole. For other longitudes, it is not noon. Noon has either passed or has yet to come. Hence the notion of a solstice day is useful.

The term is colloquially used like midsummer to refer to the day on which solstice occurs. The summer solstice day has the longest period of daylight – except in the polarregions where daylight is continuous, from a few days to six months around the summer solstice.

Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied among cultures, but most recognize the event in some way with holidays, festivals, and rituals around that time with themes of religion or fertility.

Winter Solstice

Winter solstice is an astronomical phenomenon marking the shortest day and the longest night of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere this is the December solstice and in the Southern Hemisphere this is the June solstice.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the June solstice, also known as the northern solstice, occurs each June falling on the 20th-22nd according to the Gregorian calendar, is the summer solstice, whilst in the Southern Hemisphere it is the winter solstice.

The axial tilt of Earth and gyroscopic effects of its daily rotation mean that the two opposite points in the sky to which the Earth’s axis of rotation points (axial precession) change very slowly (making a complete circle approximately every 26,000 years).

As the Earth follows its orbit around the Sun, the polar hemisphere that faced away from the Sun, experiencing winter, will, in half a year, face towards the Sun and experience summer. This is because the two hemispheres face opposite directions along Earth’s axis, and so as one polar hemisphere experiences winter, the other experiences summer.

More evident from high latitudes, a hemisphere’s winter solstice occurs on the shortest day and longest night of the year, when the sun’s daily maximum elevation in the sky is at its lowest. The winter solstice itself lasts only a moment in time, so other terms are used for the day on which it occurs, such as “midwinter”, or the “shortest day”. It is often considered the “extreme of winter” (Dongzhi in the Chinese calendar).

In meteorology, winter in the Northern Hemisphere spans the entire period of December through February. The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days. The earliest sunset and latest sunrise dates differ from winter solstice, however, and these depend on latitude, due to the variation in the solar day throughout the year caused by the Earth’s elliptical orbit.

Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied across cultures, but many have held it as a symbol of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.

Pole star 

A pole star is a visible star, preferably a prominent one, that is approximately aligned with the Earth’s axis of rotation; that is, a star whose apparent position is close to one of the celestial poles, and which lies approximately directly overhead when viewed from the Earth’s North Pole or South Pole. A similar concept also applies to planets other than the Earth. In practice, the termpole star usually refers to Polaris, which is the current northern pole star, also known as the North Star.

The south celestial pole lacks a bright star like Polaris to mark its position. At present, the naked-eye star nearest to this imaginary point is the faint Sigma Octantis, which is sometimes known as the South Star.

While other stars’ apparent positions in the sky change throughout the night, as they appear to rotate around the celestial poles, pole stars’ apparent positions remain virtually fixed. This makes them especially useful in celestial navigation: they are a dependable indicator of the direction toward the respective geographic pole although not exact; they are virtually fixed, and their angle of elevation can also be used to determine latitude.

The identity of the pole stars gradually changes over time because the celestial poles exhibit a slow continuous drift through the star field. The primary reason for this is the precession of the Earth’s rotational axis, which causes its orientation to change over time.

If the stars were fixed in space, precession would cause the celestial poles to trace out imaginary circles on the celestial sphere approximately once every 26,000 years, passing close to different stars at different times. In fact, the stars themselves also exhibit proper motion, which causes a very small additional apparent drift of pole stars.

Boötes

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”).

It contains the fourth brightest star in the night sky, the orange-hued Arcturus (α Boo, α Boötis, or Alpha Boötis). As one of the brightest stars in the sky, Arcturus has been significant to observers since antiquity. In Mesopotamia, it was linked to the god Enlil, and also known as Shudun, “yoke”, or SHU-PA of unknown derivation in the Three Stars Each Babylonian star catalogues and later MUL.APIN around 1100 BC.

Together with Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, and Denebola (or Regulus, depending on the source), Arcturus is part of the Spring Triangle asterism, and by extension, also of the Great Diamond after factoring in Cor Caroli.

The name of the star derives from Ancient Greek Arktouros and means “Guardian of the Bear”, ultimately from arktos, “bear” and ouros, “watcher, guardian”. It has been known by this name since at least the time of Hesiod. This is a reference to its being the brightest star in the constellation Boötes (of which it forms the left foot), which is next to the Greater and Lesser Bears, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

In Ancient Rome, the star’s celestial activity was supposed to portend tempestuous weather, and a personification of the star acts as narrator of the prologue to Plautus’ comedy Rudens (circa 211 BC). In the Middle Ages, Arcturus was considered a Behenian fixed star and attributed to the stone Jasper and the plantain herb. Cornelius Agrippa listed its kabbalistic sign under the alternate name Alchameth.

In Arabic, Arcturus is one of two stars called al-simāk (“the uplifted one”); the other is Spica. Arcturus is specified as as-simāk ar-rāmiħ (“the uplifted one of the lancer”). The term Al Simak Al Ramih has appeared in Al Achsasi Al Mouakket catalogue (translated into Latin as Al Simak Lanceator).

This has been variously romanized in the past, leading to obsolete variants such as Aramec and Azimech. For example, the name Alramih is used in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Treatise on the Astrolabe (1391). Another Arabic name is Haris-el-sema, from ħāris al-samā’ (“the keeper of heaven”) or ħāris al-shamāl’ (“the keeper of north”). In the Hebrew scriptures Arcturus is referred to in Job 38:32. Arcturus was once again called by its classical name from the Renaissance onwards.

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. The name Boötes was first used by Homer in his Odyssey as a celestial reference point for navigation, described as “late-setting” or “slow to set”, translated as the “Plowman”.

Exactly whom Boötes is supposed to represent in Greek mythology is not clear. According to one version, he was a son of Demeter, Philomenus, twin brother of Plutus, a ploughman who drove the oxen in the constellation Ursa Major. This is corroborated by the constellation’s name, which itself means “ox-driver” or “herdsman.”

The ancient Greeks saw the asterism now called the “Big Dipper” or “Plough” as a cart with oxen. This influenced the name’s etymology, derived from the Greek for “noisy” or “ox-driver”. Another myth associated with Boötes tells that he invented the plow and was memorialized for his ingenuity as a constellation.

 Spring 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.

The Great Diamond is an asterism. Astronomy popularizer Hans A. Rey called it the Virgin’s Diamond. It is composed of the stars Cor Caroli (in Canes Venatici), Denebola (the tail of Leo), Spica (the wheat of Virgo), and Arcturus (in Boötes). It is somewhat larger than the Big Dipper.

Lying within the Great Diamond is the set of stars traditionally assigned to Coma Berenices. Many nearby galaxies, including galaxies within the Virgo Cluster, are located within this asterism, and some of these galaxies can easily be observed with amateur telescopes.

Summer Triangle 

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 asterism was remarked upon by J. J. Littrow, who described it as the “conspicuous triangle” in the text of his atlas (1866), and Bode connected the stars in a map in a book in 1816, although without label. These are the same stars recognized in the Chinese legend of The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd, a story dating back some 2,600 years, celebrated in the Qixi Festival.

Near midnight, the Summer Triangle lies virtually overhead at mid-northern latitudes during the summer months, but can also be seen during spring in the early morning to the East. In the autumn the summer triangle is visible in the evening to the West well until November. From the southern hemisphere it appears upside down and low in the sky during the winter months.

March

The name of March comes from Latin Martius, the first month of the earliest Roman calendar. It was named for Mars, the Roman god of war who was also regarded as a guardian of agriculture (a combination characteristic of early Rome), and an ancestor of the Roman people through his sons Romulus and Remus.

His month Martius was the beginning of the season for both farming and warfare, and the festivals held in his honor during the month were mirrored by others in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming.

March is the third month of the year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. In the Northern Hemisphere, the meteorological beginning of spring occurs on the first day of March. The March equinox on the 20th or 21st marks the astronomical beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, where September is the seasonal equivalent of the Northern Hemisphere’s March.

March is the first month of spring in the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Europe, Asia and part of Africa) and the first month of fall or autumn in the Southern Hemisphere (South America, part of Africa, and Oceania). The zodiac signs for the month of March are Pisces (until March 20) and Aries (March 21 onwards).

Martius remained the first month of the Roman calendar year perhaps as late as 153 BC, and several religious observances in the first half of the month were originally New Year’s celebrations. Even in late antiquity, Roman mosaicspicturing the months sometimes still placed March first.

March 1 began the numbered year in Russia until the end of the 15th century. Great Britain and its colonies continued to use March 25 until 1752, when they finally adopted the Gregorian calendar. Many other cultures and religions still celebrate the beginning of the New Year in March.

Mars

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was second in importance only to Jupiter and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Mars was a part of the Archaic Triad along with Jupiter and Quirinus, the latter of whom as a guardian of the Roman people had no Greek equivalent.

Mars’ altar in the Campus Martius, the area of Rome that took its name from him, was supposed to have been dedicated by Numa, the peace-loving semi-legendary second king of Rome. Although the center of Mars’ worship was originally located outside the sacred boundary of Rome (pomerium), Augustus made the god a renewed focus of Roman religion by establishing the Temple of Mars Ultor in his new forum.

Under the influence of Greek culture, Mars was identified with the Greek god Ares, whose myths were reinterpreted in Roman literature and art under the name of Mars. Although Ares was viewed primarily as a destructive and destabilizing force, Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people.

In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia. His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as theTrojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.

Venus

Venus is the Roman goddess whose functions encompassed love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity and desire. In Roman mythology, she was the mother of the Roman people through her son, Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy. Julius Caesar claimed her as his ancestor. Venus was central to many religious festivals, and was revered in Roman religion under numerous cult titles.

The Romans adapted the myths and iconography of her Greek counterpart Aphrodite for Roman art and Latin literature. In the later classical tradition of the West, Venus becomes one of the most widely referenced deities of Greco-Roman mythology as the embodiment of love and sexuality.

As with most major gods and goddesses in Roman mythology, the literary concept of Venus is mantled in whole-cloth borrowings from the literary Greek mythology of her counterpart, Aphrodite. In some Latin mythology Cupid was the son of Venus and Mars, the god of war. At other times, or in parallel myths and theologies, Venus was understood to be the consort of Vulcan.

Virgil, in compliment to his patron Augustus and the gens Julia, embellished an existing connection between Venus, whom Julius Caesar had adopted as his protectress, and Aeneas. Vergil’s Aeneas is guided to Latium by Venus in her heavenly form, the morning star, shining brightly before him in the daylight sky; much later, she lifts Caesar’s soul to heaven.

In Ovid’s Fasti Venus came to Rome because she “preferred to be worshipped in the city of her own offspring”. In Vergil’s poetic account of Octavian’s victory at the sea-battle of Actium, the future emperor is allied with Venus, Neptune and Minerva. Octavian’s opponents, Antony, Cleopatra and the Egyptians, assisted by bizarre and unhelpful deities such as “barking” Anubis, lose the battle.

In the interpretatio romana of the Germanic pantheon during the early centuries AD, Venus became identified with the Germanic goddess Frijjo, giving rise to the loan translation “Friday” for dies Veneris. The historical cognate of the dawn goddess in Germanic tradition, however, would be Ēostre or Ostara.

Ares

Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent and untamed aspect of war, in contrast to his sister the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and generalship.

The Greeks were ambivalent toward Ares: although he embodied the physical valor necessary for success in war, he was a dangerous force, “overwhelming, insatiable in battle, destructive, and man-slaughtering.” His sons Fear (Phobos) and Terror (Deimos) and his lover, or sister, Discord (Enyo) accompanied him on his war chariot.

In the Iliad, his father Zeus tells him that he is the god most hateful to him. An association with Ares endows places and objects with a savage, dangerous, or militarized quality. His value as a war god is placed in doubt: during the Trojan War, Ares was on the losing side, while Athena, often depicted in Greek art as holding Nike (Victory) in her hand, favored the triumphant Greeks.

Ares is well known as the lover of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who was married to Hephaestus, the god of craftsmanship. The most famous story related to Ares and Aphrodite shows them exposed to ridicule through the wronged husband’s clever device.

Aphrodite

Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. Her Roman equivalent is the goddess Venus. She is identified with the planet Venus. Myrtle, doves, sparrows, horses, and swans were said to be sacred to her. The ancient Greeks identified her with the Ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor.

As with many ancient Greek deities, there is more than one story about her origins. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, she was born when Cronus cut off Uranus’s genitals and threw them into the sea, and she arose from the sea foam (aphros).

According to Homer’s Iliad, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. However, according to Plato these two origins were of entirely separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos.

Because of her beauty, other gods feared that their rivalry over her would interrupt the peace among them and lead to war, so Zeus married her to Hephaestus, who, because of his ugliness and deformity, was not seen as a threat.

Aphrodite had many lovers—both gods, such as Ares, and men, such as Anchises. She played a role in the Eros and Psyche legend, and later was both Adonis’s lover and his surrogate mother. Many lesser beings were said to be children of Aphrodite.

January

January is the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and one of seven months with the length of 31 days. In the Southern hemisphere, January is the seasonal equivalent of July in the Northern hemisphere and vice versa.

The first day of the month is known as New Year’s Day. It is, on average, the coldest month of the year within most of the Northern Hemisphere (where it is the second month of winter) and the warmest month of the year within most of the Southern Hemisphere (where it is the second month of summer).

January (in Latin, Ianuarius) is named after the Latin word for door (ianua) since January is the door to the year. The month is conventionally thought of as being named after Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology, but according to ancient Roman farmers’ almanacs Juno, the protector and special counselor of the state and the Roman goddess of marriage and queen of the gods, was the tutelary deity of the month.

Juno also looked after the women of Rome. Her Greek equivalent was Hera, the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her Etruscan counterpart was Uni, the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon and the patron goddess of Perugia. Hera’s mother is Rhea and her father Cronus.

She is a daughter of Saturn and sister (but also the wife) of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. The divine couple received from Greece its matrimonial implications, thence bestowing on Juno the role of tutelary goddess of marriage (Iuno Pronuba).

However, the couple itself though cannot be reduced to a Greek apport. The association of Juno and Jupiter is of the most ancient Latin theology. Praeneste offers a glimpse into original Latin mythology: the local goddess Fortuna is represented as nursing two infants, one male and one female, namely Jove (Jupiter) and Juno.

Praeneste preserved divine filiation and infancy as the sovereign god and his paredra Juno have a mother who is the primordial goddess Fortuna Primigenia. Many terracotta statuettes have been discovered which represent a woman with a child: one of them represents exactly the scene described by Cicero of a woman with two children of different sex who touch her breast. Two of the votive inscriptions to Fortuna associate her and Jupiter: ” Fortunae Iovi puero…” and “Fortunae Iovis puero…”

The relationship of the female sovereign deity with the god of beginnings and passages is reflected mainly in their association with the kalendae of every month, which belong to both, and in the festival of the Tigillum Sororium of October 1.

The role of the two gods at the kalendae of every month is that of presiding over the birth of the new moon. Janus and Juno cooperate as the first looks after the passage from the previous to the ensuing month while the second helps it through the strength of her vitality.

The rites of the kalendae included the invocations to Juno Covella, giving the number of days to the nonae, a sacrifice to Janus by the rex sacrorum and the pontifex minor at the curia Calabra and one to Juno by the regina sacrorum in the Regia: originally when the month was still lunar the pontifex minor had the task of signalling the appearance of the new moon.

While the meaning of the epithet Covella is unknown and debated, that of the rituals is clear as the divine couple is supposed to oversee, protect and help the moon during the particularly dangerous time of her darkness and her labours: the role of Juno Covella is hence the same as that of Lucina for women during parturition.

The association of the two gods is reflected on the human level at the difficult time of labours as is apparent in the custom of putting a key, symbol of Janus, in the hand of the woman with the aim of ensuring an easy delivery, while she had to invoke Juno Lucina.

At the nonae Caprotinae similarly Juno had the function of aiding and strengthening the moon as the nocturnal light, at the time when her force was supposed to be at its lowest, after the Summer solstice.

Renard advanced the view that Janus and not Juppiter was the original paredra or consort of Juno, on the grounds of their many common features, functions and appearance in myth or rites as is shown by their cross coupled epithets Janus Curiatius and Juno Sororia: Janus shares the epithet of Juno Curitis and Juno the epithet Janus Geminus, as sororius means paired, double.

Renard’s theory has been rejected by G. Capdeville as not being in accord with the level of sovereign gods in Dumezil’s trifunctional structure. The theology of Janus would show features typically belonging to the order of the gods of the beginning. In Capdeville’s view it is only natural that a god of beginnings and a sovereign mother deity have common features, as all births can be seen as beginnings, Juno is invoked by deliverers, who by custom hold a key, symbol of Janus.

As the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman Empire, Juno was called Regina (“Queen”) and, together with Jupiter and Minerva, was worshipped as a triad on the Capitol (Juno Capitolina) in Rome.

Juno’s own warlike aspect among the Romans is apparent in her attire. She often appeared sitting pictured with a peacock armed and wearing a goatskin cloak. The traditional depiction of this warlike aspect was assimilated from the Greek goddess Hera whose goatskin was called the ‘aegis’.

Traditionally, the original Roman calendar consisted of 10 months totaling 304 days, winter being considered a month-less period. Around 713 BC, the semi-mythical successor of Romulus, King Numa Pompilius, is supposed to have added the months of January and February, so that the calendar covered a standard lunar year (354 days).

Although March was originally the first month in the old Roman calendar, January became the first month of the calendar year either under Numa or under the Decemvirs about 450 BC (Roman writers differ). In contrast, each specific calendar year was identified by the names of the two consuls, who entered office on May 1 or March 15 until 153 BC, from when they entered office on January 1.

Various Christian feast dates were used for the New Year in Europe during the Middle Ages, including March 25 (Feast of the Annunciation) and December 25. However, medieval calendars were still displayed in the Roman fashion with twelve columns from January to December.

Beginning in the 16th century, European countries began officially making January 1 the start of the New Year once again—sometimes called Circumcision Style because this was the date of the Feast of the Circumcision, being the seventh day after December 25.

Historical names for January include its original Roman designation, Ianuarius, the Saxon term Wulf-monath (meaning wolf month) and Charlemagne’s designation Wintarmanoth (winter / cold month). In Slovene, it is traditionally called január. The name, associated with millet bread and the act of asking for something, was first written in 1466 in the Škofja Loka manuscript.

According to Theodor Mommsen, 1 January became the first day of the year in 600 AUC of the Roman calendar (153 BC), due to disasters in the Lusitanian War. A Lusitanian chief called Punicus invaded the Roman territory, defeated two Roman governors, and killed their troops. The Romans resolved to send a consul to Hispania, and in order to accelerate the dispatch of aid, “they even made the new consuls enter into office two months and a half before the legal time” (March 15).

Pisces

Pisces (Ancient Greek: Ἰχθύες Ikhthyes) is the twelfth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the Pisces constellation. It spans the 330° to 360° of the zodiac, between 332.75° and 360° of celestial longitude.

Under the tropical zodiac the sun transits this area on average between February 19 and March 20, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits this area between approximately March 13 and April 13. In Sidereal astrology, the sun currently transits the constellation of Pisces from approximately March 14 to April 14. Individuals born during these dates, depending on which system of astrology they subscribe to, may be called “Pisceans.”

While the astrological sign Pisces per definition runs from elliptical longitude 330° to 0°, this position is now mostly covered by the constellation of Aquarius, due to the precession from when the constellation and the sign coincided.

Today, the First Point of Aries, or the vernal equinox is in the Pisces constellation. One star in the constellation, Alpha Piscium, is also known as Alrescha which comes from the Arabic al-rišā’ meaning “the well rope” or “the cord.”

The symbol of the fish is derived from the ichthyocentaurs, who aided Aphrodite when she was born from the sea. Divine associations with Pisces include Poseidon/Neptune, Vishnu, Christ, Aphrodite, Eros, and Typhon.

Ptolemy described Alpha Piscium as the point where the cords joining the two fish are knotted together. The astrological symbol shows the two fishes captured by a string, typically by the mouth or the tails. The fish are usually portrayed swimming in opposite directions; this represents the duality within the Piscean nature. Although they appear as a pair, the name of the sign in all languages originally referred to only one fish with the exception of Greek, Bulgarian, Dutch, Latvian, Italian.

“Pisces” is the Latin word for “Fishes.” According to one Greek myth, Pisces represents the fish, sometimes represented by koi fish, into which Aphrodite (also considered Venus) and her son Eros (also considered Cupid) transformed in order to escape the monster Typhon.

Typhon, the “father of all monsters” had been sent by Gaia to attack the gods, which led Pan to warn the others before himself changing into a goat-fish and jumping into the Euphrates. A similar myth, one which the fish “Pisces” carry Aphrodite and her son out of danger, is resounded in Manilius’ five volume poetic work Astronomica: “Venus ow’d her safety to their Shape.”

Another myth is that an egg fell into the Euphrates river. It was then rolled to the shore by fish. Doves sat on the egg until it hatched, out from which came Aphrodite. As a sign of gratitude towards the fish, Aphrodite put the fish into the night sky.

Because of these myths, the Pisces constellation was also known as “Venus et Cupido,” “Venus Syria cum Cupidine,” Venus cum Adone,” “Dione,” and “Veneris Mater,” the latter being the formal Latin term for mother.

The Greek myth on the origin of the sign of Pisces has been cited by English astrologer Richard James Morrison as an example of the fables that arose from the original astrological doctrine, and that the “original intent of [it] was afterwards corrupted both by poets and priests.”

Purim, a Jewish holiday, falls at the full moon preceding the Passover, which was set by the full moon in Aries, which follows Pisces. The story of the birth of Christ is said to be a result of the spring equinox entering into the Pisces, as the “Savior of the World” appeared as the Fisher of Men. This parallels the entering into the Age of Pisces.

A planet’s domicile is the zodiac sign over which it has rulership, and the rulers of Pisces, or those associated with Pisceans, are Jupiter, Neptune, and the moon. In esoteric astrology, Venus was considered the ruler of Pisces, and prior to the discovery of Neptune in 1846, Jupiter was said to rule Pisces primarily.

Neptune is mostly considered the secondary ruling planet of Pisces today because of the association with the Roman god of water and the sea, Neptune. The detriment, or the sign “opposite” to that which is deemed the ruling planet, is Mercury. Venus is exalted in Pisces, while Mercury also falled into Pisces.

From Pisces to Aquarius

According to some tropical astrologers, the current astrological age is the Age of Pisces, while others maintain that it is the Age of Aquarius. An astrological age is a time period in astrology that parallels major changes in the development of Earth’s inhabitants, particularly relating to culture, society and politics, and there are twelve astrological ages corresponding to the twelve zodiacal signs.

Astrological ages occur because of a phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes, and one complete period of this precession is called a Great Year or Platonic Year of about 25,920 years. The age of Pisces began c. 1 AD and will end c. 2150 AD. With the story of the birth of Christ coinciding with this date, many Christian symbols for Christ use the astrological symbol for Pisces, the fishes.

The figure Christ himself bears many of the temperaments and personality traits of a Pisces, and is thus considered an archetype of the Piscean. Moreover, the twelve apostles were called the “fishers of men,” early Christians called themselves “little fishes,” and a code word for Jesus was the Greek word for fish, “Ikhthus.” With this, the start of the age, or the “Great Month of Pisces” is regarded as the beginning of the Christian religion. Saint Peter is recognized as the apostle of the Piscean sign.

Pisces has been called the “dying god,” where its sign opposite in the night sky is Virgo, or, the Virgin Mary. When Jesus was asked by his disciples where the next Passover would be, he replied to them: Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you bearing a pitcher of water… follow him into the house where he entereth in (Jesus, Luke 22:10).

This coincides with the changing of the ages, into the Age of Aquarius, as the personification of the constellation of Aquarius is a man carrying a pitcher of water. Aquarius is a constellation of the zodiac, situated between Capricornus and Pisces. Its name is Latin for “water-carrier” or “cup-carrier”, and its symbol is a representation of water.

Before the discovery of Uranus, Saturn was regarded as the ruling planet of Aquarius alongside Capricorn of course, which is the preceding sign. Many traditional types of astrologers prefer Saturn as the planetary ruler for both Capricorn and Aquarius. Mercury () is the ruling planet of Gemini and Virgo and is exalted in Aquarius despite this planet had become the only one to rule and exalt a sign until the Moon would exalt that in the future later on.

Aquarius is identified as GU.LA “The Great One” in the Babylonian star catalogues and represents the god Ea (Enki) himself, who is commonly depicted holding an overflowing vase. The Babylonian star-figure appears on entitlement stones and cylinder seals from the second millennium. It contained the winter solstice in the Early Bronze Age.

In Old Babylonian astronomy, Ea was the ruler of the southernmost quarter of the Sun’s path, the “Way of Ea”, corresponding to the period of 45 days on either side of winter solstice. Aquarius was also associated with the destructive floods that the Babylonians regularly experienced, and thus was negatively connoted. In Ancient Egypt, Aquarius was associated with the annual flood of the Nile; the banks were said to flood when Aquarius put his jar into the river, beginning spring.

In the Greek tradition, the constellation became represented as simply a single vase from which a stream poured down to Piscis Austrinus. The name in the Hindu zodiac is likewise kumbha “water-pitcher”, showing that the zodiac reached India via Greek intermediaries.

In Greek mythology, Aquarius is sometimes associated with Deucalion, the son of Prometheus who built a ship with his wife Pyrrha to survive an imminent flood. They sailed for nine days before washing ashore on Mount Parnassus.

Aquarius is also sometimes identified with beautiful Ganymede, a youth in Greek mythology and the son of Trojan king Tros, who was taken to Mount Olympus by Zeus to act as cup-carrier to the gods. Neighboring Aquila represents the eagle, under Zeus’ command, that snatched the young boy; some versions of the myth indicate that the eagle was in fact Zeus transformed.

An alternative version of the tale recounts Ganymede’s kidnapping by the goddess of the dawn, Eos, motivated by her affection for young men; Zeus then stole him from Eos and employed him as cup-bearer. Yet another figure associated with the water bearer is Cecrops I, a king of Athens who sacrificed water instead of wine to the gods.

Aries

Aries (meaning “ram”) is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°). Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign mostly between March 20 and April 19 each year. This time duration is exactly the first month of Solar Hejri calendar (Farvardin). Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from April 15 to May 14(approximately).

According to the Tropical system of astrology, the Sun enters the sign of Aries when it reaches the northern vernal equinox, which occurs around March 21. Because the Earth takes approximately 365.25 days to go around the Sun, the precise time of the equinox is not the same each year, and generally will occur about 6 hours later each year, with a jump of a day (backwards) on leap years.

The symbol of the ram is based on the Chrysomallus, the flying ram that provided the Golden Fleece. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship. Individuals born during these dates, depending on which system of astrology they subscribe to, may be called Arians or Ariens. Aries is the first fire sign in the zodiac, the other fire signs being Leo and Sagittarius. In Hebrew astronomy Aries was named “Teli”; it signified either Simeon or Gad, and generally symbolizes the “Lamb of the World”.

Historically, Aries has been depicted as a crouched, wingless ram with its head turned towards Taurus. Ptolemy asserted in his Almagest that Hipparchus depicted Alpha Arietis as the ram’s muzzle, though Ptolemy did not include it in his constellation figure. Instead, it was listed as an “unformed star”, and denoted as “the star over the head”.

John Flamsteed, in his Atlas Coelestis, followed Ptolemy’s description by mapping it above the figure’s head. Flamsteed followed the general convention of maps by depicting Aries lying down. Astrologically, Aries has been associated with the head and its humors. It was strongly associated with Mars, both the planet and the god. It was considered to govern Western Europe and Syria, and to indicate a strong temper in a person.

The First Point of Aries, the location of the vernal equinox, is named for the constellation. This is because the Sun crossed the celestial equator from south to north in Aries more than two millennia ago. Hipparchus defined it in 130 BC. as a point south of Gamma Arietis.

Because of the precession of the equinoxes, the First Point of Aries has since moved into Pisces and will move into Aquarius by around 2600 AD. The Sun now appears in Aries from late April through mid May, though the constellation is still associated with the beginning of spring.

In the description of the Babylonian zodiac given in the clay tablets known as the MUL.APIN, a comprehensive table of the risings and settings of stars, which likely served as an agricultural calendar, the constellation now known as Aries was the final station along the ecliptic. Modern-day Aries was known as MULLÚ.ḪUN.GÁ, “The Agrarian Worker” or “The Hired Man”.

Kingu, also spelled Qingu, meaning “unskilled laborer,” was a god in Babylonian mythology, and — after the murder of his father Abzu — the consort of the goddess Tiamat, his mother, who wanted to establish him as ruler and leader of all gods before she was killed by Marduk.

Tiamat gave Kingu the 3 Tablets of Destiny, which he wore as a breastplate and which gave him great power. She placed him as the general of her army. However, like Tiamat, Kingu was eventually killed by Marduk.

Marduk mixed Kingu’s blood with earth and used the clay to mold the first human beings, while Tiamat’s body created the earth and the skies. Kingu then went to live in the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, along with the other deities who had sided with Tiamat.

The earliest identifiable reference to Aries as a distinct constellation comes from the boundary stones that date from 1350 to 1000 BC. On several boundary stones, a zodiacal ram figure is distinct from the other characters present.

The shift in identification from the constellation as the Agrarian Worker to the Ram likely occurred in later Babylonian tradition because of its growing association with Dumuzi the Shepherd. By the time the MUL.APIN was created—by 1000 BC—modern Aries was identified with both Dumuzi’s ram and a hired laborer. The exact timing of this shift is difficult to determine due to the lack of images of Aries or other ram figures.

The Ekur was seen as a place of judgement and the place from which Enlil’s divine laws are issued. The ethics and moral values of the site are extolled in myths, which Samuel Noah Kramer suggested would have made it the most ethically-oriented in the entire ancient Near East. Its rituals are also described as: “banquets and feasts are celebrated from sunrise to sunset” with “festivals, overflowing with milk and cream, are alluring of plan and full of rejoicing”.

The priests of the Ekur festivities are described with en being the high priest, lagar as his associate, mues the leader of incantations and prayers, and guda the priest responsible for decoration. Sacrifices and food offerings were brought by the king, described as “faithful shepherd” or “noble farmer”.

In ancient Egyptian astronomy, Aries was associated with the god Amon-Ra, who was depicted as a man with a ram’s head and represented fertility and creativity. Because it was the location of the vernal equinox, it was called the “Indicator of the Reborn Sun”.

During the times of the year when Aries was prominent, priests would process statues of Amon-Ra to temples, a practice that was modified by Persian astronomers centuries later. Aries acquired the title of “Lord of the Head” in Egypt, referring to its symbolic and mythological importance.

Aries was not fully accepted as a constellation until classical times. In Hellenistic astrology, the constellation of Aries is associated with the golden ram of Greek mythology that rescued Phrixos and Helle on orders from Hermes, taking him to the land of Colchis.

Phrixos and Helle were the son and daughter of King Athamas and his first wife Nephele. The king’s second wife, Ino, was jealous and wished to kill his children. To accomplish this, she induced a famine in Boeotia then falsified a message from the Oracle of Delphi that said Phrixos must be sacrificed to end the famine.

Athamas was about to sacrifice his son atop Mount Laphystium when Aries, sent by Nephele, arrived. Helle fell off of Aries’s back in flight and drowned in the Dardanelles, also called the Hellespont in her honor.

After arriving, Phrixos sacrificed the ram to Zeus and gave the Fleece to Aeëtes of Colchis, who rewarded him with an engagement to his daughter Chalciope. Aeëtes hung its skin in a sacred place where it became known as the Golden Fleece and was guarded by a dragon. In a later myth, this Golden Fleece was stolen by Jason and the Argonauts.

In traditional Chinese astronomy, stars from Aries were used in several constellations. The brightest stars—Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Arietis—formed a constellation called Lou, variously translated as “bond”, “lasso”, and “sickle”, which was associated with the ritual sacrifice of cattle.

This name was shared by the 16th lunar mansion, the location of the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. The lunar mansion represented the area where animals were gathered before sacrifice around that time.

This constellation has also been associated with harvest-time as it could represent a woman carrying a basket of food on her head. 35, 39, and 41 Arietis were part of a constellation called Wei, which represented a fat abdomen and was the namesake of the 17th lunar mansion, which represented granaries.

Delta and Zeta Arietis were a part of the constellation Tianyin, thought to represent the Emperor’s hunting partner. Zuogeng (Tso-kang), a constellation depicting a marsh and pond inspector, was composed of Mu, Nu, Omicron, Pi, and Sigma Arietis. He was accompanied by Yeou-kang, a constellation depicting an official in charge of pasture distribution.

In a similar system to the Chinese, the first lunar mansion in Hindu astronomy was called “Aswini”, after the traditional names for Beta and Gamma Arietis, the Aswins. Because the Hindu new year began with the vernal equinox, the Rig Veda contains over 50 new-year’s related hymns to the twins, making them some of the most prominent characters in the work. Aries itself was known as “Aja” and “Mesha”.

Taurus

Taurus (Latin for “the Bull”) is the second astrological sign in the present Zodiac established among the ancient Mesopotamians – who knew it as the Bull of Heaven – because it was the sign through which the sun rose on the vernal equinox. Due to the precession of the equinox, it now follows Aries.

It spans the 30–60th degree of the zodiac. As of 2008, the Sun appears in the constellation Taurus from May 13 to June 21. In tropical astrology, the Sun is considered to be in the sign Taurus from April 20 to May 20.

People born between these dates, depending on which system of astrology they subscribe to, may be called Taureans. The symbol of the bull is based on the Cretan Bull, the white bull that fathered the Minotaur who was killed by Theseus.

The Bull represents a strong-willed character with great perseverance and determination. In Egypt, Taurus was seen as the cow goddess Hathor. Hathor was the goddess of beauty, love, and happiness, and she represented all of the riches seen in cattle as the providers of nourishment. Roman astrologers considered Taurus ruled by Venus.

Taurus is a large and prominent constellation in the northern hemisphere’s winter sky, between Aries to the west and Gemini to the east; to the north lie Perseus and Auriga, to the southeast Orion, to the south Eridanus, and to the southwest Cetus.

It is one of the oldest constellations, dating back to at least the Early Bronze Age when it marked the location of the Sun during the spring equinox. Its importance to the agricultural calendar influenced various bull figures in the mythologies of Ancient Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

A number of features exist that are of interest to astronomers. Taurus hosts two of the nearest open clusters to Earth, the Pleiades and the Hyades, both of which are visible to the naked eye. At first magnitude, the red giant Aldebaran is the brightest star in the constellation. Its name derives from al-dabarān, Arabic for “the follower”, probably from the fact that it follows the Pleiades during the nightly motion of the celestial sphere across the sky.

Forming the profile of a Bull’s face is a V or A-shaped asterism of stars. This outline is created by prominent members of the Hyades, the nearest distinct open star cluster after the Ursa Major Moving Group. In this profile, Aldebaran forms the bull’s bloodshot eye, which has been described as “glaring menacingly at the hunter Orion”, a constellation that lies just to the southwest.

In September and October, Taurus is visible in the evening along the eastern horizon. The most favorable time to observe Taurus in the night sky is during the months of December and January. By March and April, the constellation will appear to the west during the evening twilight.

The identification of the constellation of Taurus with a bull is very old, certainly dating to the Chalcolithic, and perhaps even to the Upper Paleolithic. Michael Rappenglück of the University of Munich believes that Taurus is represented in a cave painting at the Hall of the Bulls in the caves at Lascaux (dated to roughly 15,000 BC), which he believes is accompanied by a depiction of the Pleiades.

The name “seven sisters” has been used for the Pleiades in the languages of many cultures, including indigenous groups of Australia, North America and Siberia. This suggests that the name may have a common ancient origin.

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.

In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”. As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”. The Akkadian name was Alu.

In the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literature, the goddess Ishtar sends Taurus, the Bull of Heaven, to kill Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. 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.

In early Mesopotamian art, the Bull of Heaven was closely associated with Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. One of the oldest depictions shows the bull standing before the goddess’ standard; since it has 3 stars depicted on its back (the cuneiform sign for “star-constellation”), there is good reason to regard this as the constellation later known as Taurus.

The same iconic representation of the Heavenly Bull was depicted in the Dendera zodiac, an Egyptian bas-relief carving in a ceiling that depicted the celestial hemisphere using a planisphere. In these ancient cultures, the orientation of the horns was portrayed as upward or backward. This differed from the later Greek depiction where the horns pointed forward.

To the Egyptians, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull that was associated with the renewal of life in spring. When the spring equinox entered Taurus, the constellation would become covered by the Sun in the western sky as spring began. This “sacrifice” led to the renewal of the land. To the early Hebrews, Taurus was the first constellation in their zodiac and consequently it was represented by the first letter in their alphabet, Aleph.

In Greek mythology, Taurus was identified with Zeus, who assumed the form of a magnificent white bull to abduct Europa, a legendary Phoenician princess. In illustrations of Greek mythology, only the front portion of this constellation are depicted; this was sometimes explained as Taurus being partly submerged as he carried Europa out to sea.

A second Greek myth portrays Taurus as Io, a mistress of Zeus. To hide his lover from his wife Hera, Zeus changed Io into the form of a heifer. Greek mythographer Acusilaus marks the bull Taurus as the same that formed the myth of the Cretan Bull, one of The Twelve Labors of Heracles.

Taurus became an important object of worship among the Druids. Their Tauric religious festival was held while the Sun passed through the constellation. In Buddhism, legends hold that Gautama Buddha was born when the Full Moon was in Vaisakha, or Taurus. Buddha’s birthday is celebrated with the Wesak Festival, or Vesākha, which occurs on the first or second Full Moon when the Sun is in Taurus.

Pleiades and Hyades

Although likely compiled in the 12th or 11th century BC, the MUL.APIN reflects a tradition which marks the Pleiades as the vernal equinox, which was the case with some precision at the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age. The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC.

The Babylonian star catalogues name the Pleiades MUL.MUL or “star of stars”, and they head the list of stars along the ecliptic, reflecting the fact that they were close to the point of vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC.

The Pleiades lie in the northeastern quadrant of the Taurus constellation. It is 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 celestial entity has several meanings in different cultures and traditions.

The name of the Pleiades comes from Ancient Greek. It probably derives from plein (‘to sail’) because of the cluster’s importance in delimiting the sailing season in the Mediterranean Sea: ‘the season of navigation began with their heliacal rising’.

However, the name was later mythologised as the name of seven divine sisters, whose name was imagined to derive from that of their mother Pleione, effectively meaning ‘daughters of Pleione’. In reality, the name of the star-cluster almost certainly came first, and Pleione was invented to explain it.

The Pleiades were the seven daughters of the titan Atlas and the sea-nymph Pleione born on Mount Cyllene. They are the sisters of Calypso, Hyas, the Hyades, and the Hesperides. They were nymphs in the train of Artemis, and together with the seven Hyades were called the Atlantides, Dodonides, or Nysiades, nursemaids and teachers to the infant Bacchus.

The Hyades (popularly “the rainy ones”, but probably from Greek hys, i.e. “swine”) are a sisterhood of nymphs that bring rain. The Hyades were daughters of Atlas (by either Pleione or Aethra, one of the Oceanides) and sisters of Hyas in most tellings, although one version gives their parents as Hyas and Boeotia.

The Hyades are sisters to the Pleiades and the Hesperides. The main myth concerning them is envisioned to account for their collective name and to provide an etiology for their weepy raininess: Hyas was killed in a hunting accident and the Hyades wept from their grief. They were changed into a cluster of stars, the Hyades, set in the head of Taurus.

The Ancient Egyptians may have used the names “Followers” and “Ennead” in the prognosis texts of the Calendar of Lucky and Unlucky Days of papyrus Cairo 86637. In Hinduism, the Pleiades are known as Krittika and are associated with the war-god Kartikeya (Murugan, Skanda), who derives his name from them.

The god is raised by the six Krittika sisters, also known as the Matrikas, a group of Hindu goddesses who are always depicted together. He is said to have developed a face for each of them. He is the Commander-in-Chief of the army of the devas and the son of Shiva.

Ishara was also worshipped within the Hurrian pantheon. She 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 into battle. They are, in differing traditions, of good and evil influence.

Ishara is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath. 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”.

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.

Capricorn 

Capricorn is the tenth astrological sign in the zodiac, originating from the constellation of Capricornus. It spans the 270–300th degree of the zodiac, corresponding to celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this area from December 21 to January 20 each year, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits the constellation of Capricorn from approximately January 14 to February 14.

In astrology, Capricorn is considered an earth sign, introvert sign, a power sign and one of the four cardinal signs. Capricorn is said to be ruled by the planet Saturn. Its symbol is based on the Sumerians primordial god of wisdom and waters, Enki with the head and upper body of a mountain goat, and the lower body and tail of a fish. Later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology, Enki was the god of intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”), creation, crafts; magic; water, seawater and lakewater (a, aba, ab).

The mountain goat part of the symbol depicts ambition, resolute, intelligence, curiosity but also steadiness, and ability to thrive in inhospitable environments while the fish represents passion, spirituality, intuition, connection with soul. Individuals born between December 21 to January 19 may be called Capricornian.

Capricorn is third and last of the earth signs in the zodiac. The other two earth signs are Taurus and Virgo but, as Capricorn take place around January. Its numerology for January is 1, and certain astrology experts chose Capricorn to be the starting sign than Aries hence the month and year which meant Capricorn is associated with the construction career, in a reference to Janus. Who was the one named for January and is associated with things that can open like doors.

In India, the day when the Sun enters the sidereal zodiac sign of Capricorn is celebrated as the Makara Sankranti festival. The Indian astronomical calendar is not based on the Western Gregorian or Julian date keeping system but has a differential lag. Hence, the festival is celebrated on either of 14 or 15 January every year, when, as per the Indian astronomical calendar, the Sun enters the Capricorn sign.

An – Enlil/Enki

The doctrine once established by the Sumerians remained an inherent part of the Babylonian-Assyrian religion and led to the more or less complete disassociation of the three gods constituting the triad from their original local limitations.

An intermediate step between Anu viewed as the local deity of Uruk, Enlil as the god of Nippur, and Ea as the god of Eridu is represented by the prominence which each one of the centres associated with the three deities in question must have acquired, and which led to each one absorbing the qualities of other gods so as to give them a controlling position in an organized pantheon.

The summing-up of divine powers manifested in the universe in a threefold division represents an outcome of speculation in the schools attached to the temples of Babylonia, but the selection of Anu, Enlil (and later Marduk), and Ea for the three representatives of the three spheres recognized, is due to the importance which, for one reason or the other, the centres in which Anu, Enlil, and Ea were worshipped had acquired in the popular mind.

Each of the three must have been regarded in his centre as the most important member in a larger or smaller group, so that their union in a triad marks also the combination of the three distinctive pantheons into a harmonious whole.

In the astral theology of Babylonia and Assyria, Anu, Enlil, and Ea became the three zones of the ecliptic, the northern, middle and southern zone respectively. The purely theoretical character of Anu is thus still further emphasized, and in the annals and votive inscriptions as well as in the incantations and hymns, he is rarely introduced as an active force to whom a personal appeal can be made. His name becomes little more than a synonym for the heavens in general and even his title as king or father of the gods has little of the personal element in it.

Dingir

The concept of “divinity” in Sumerian is closely associated with the heavens, as is evident from the fact that the cuneiform sign doubles as the ideogram for “sky”, and that its original shape is the picture of a star. The original association of “divinity” is thus with “bright” or “shining” hierophanies in the sky.

The Sumerian sign DIĜIR (usually transliterated diĝir, pronounced /diŋir/) is a Sumerian word for “god.” It originated as a star-shaped ideogram indicating a god in general, or the Sumerian god An, the supreme father of the gods. Dingir also meant sky or heaven in contrast with ki which meant earth. Its emesal pronunciation was dimer.

Its cuneiform sign is most commonly employed as the determinative for “deity” although it has related meanings as well. As a determinative, it is not pronounced, and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript “D” as in e.g. DInanna. Generically, dingir can be translated as “god” or “goddess”.

The sign in Sumerian cuneiform (DIĜIR) by itself represents the Sumerian word an (“sky” or “heaven”), the ideogram for An or the word diĝir (“god”), the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon. In Assyrian cuneiform, it (AN, DIĜIR) could be either an ideogram for “deity” (ilum) or a syllabogram for an, or ìl-. InHittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again an.

The Assyrian sign DIĜIR could mean the Akkadian nominal stem il- meaning “god” or “goddess”, derived acrophonically from the Semitic ʾil-, the god Anum, the Akkadian word šamû meaning “sky”, the syllables an and il, a preposition meaning “at” or “to”, or a determinative indicating that the following word is the name of a god.

According to one interpretation, DINGIR could also refer to a priest or priestess although there are other Akkadian words ēnu and ēntu that are also translated priest and priestess. For example, nin-dingir (lady divine) meant a priestess who received foodstuffs at the temple of Enki in the city of Eridu.

An

Anu (in Akkadian; Sumerian: An, from An “sky, heaven”) is the earliest attested Sky Father deity. In Sumerian religion, he was also “King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven”, where Anu himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions.

He was believed to have the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and to have created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the Royal Tiara. His attendant and vizier was the god Ilabrat. In the epic Erra and Išum, Anu gives the Sebettu to Erra as weapons with which to massacre humans when their noise becomes irritating to him.

Anu existed in Sumerian cosmogony as a dome that covered the flat earth; Outside of this dome was the primordial body of water known as Nammu. When Enlil rose to equal or surpass An in authority, the functions of the two deities came to some extent to overlap. An was also sometimes equated with Amurru, and, in Seleucid Uruk, with Enmešara and Dumuzi.

In Sumerian, the designation “An” was used interchangeably with “the heavens” so that in some cases it is doubtful whether, under the term, the god An or the heavens is being denoted.

The Akkadians inherited An as the god of heavens from the Sumerian as Anu-, and in Akkadian cuneiform, the DINGIR character may refer either to Anum or to the Akkadian word for god, ilu-, and consequently had two phonetic values an and il. Hittite cuneiform as adapted from the Old Assyrian kept the an value but abandoned il.

The earliest texts make no reference to An’s origins. Later he is regarded as the son of Anšar and Kišar, as in the first millennium creation epic Enūma eliš. In Sumerian texts of the third millennium the goddess Uraš is his consort; later this position was taken by Ki, the personification of earth, and in Akkadian texts by Antu, whose name is probably derived from his own.

A consort Antum (or as some scholars prefer to read, Anatum) is assigned to him, on the theory that every deity must have a female associate. But Anu spent so much time on the ground protecting the Sumerians he left her in Heaven and then met Innin, whom he renamed Inanna or “Queen of Heaven”. She was later known as Ishtar. Anu resided in her temple the most, and rarely went back up to Heaven. He is also included in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and is a major character in the clay tablets.

An/Anu frequently receives the epithet “father of the gods,” and many deities are described as his children in one context or another. Inscriptions from third-millennium Lagaš name An as the father of Gatumdug, Baba and Ningirsu.

In later literary texts, Adad, Enki/Ea, Enlil, Girra, Nanna/Sin, Nergal and Šara also appear as his sons, while goddesses referred to as his daughters include Inana/Ištar, Nanaya, Nidaba, Ninisinna, Ninkarrak, Ninmug, Ninnibru, Ninsumun, Nungal and Nusku. An/Anu is also the head of the Annunaki, and created the demons Lamaštu, Asag and the Sebettu.

Uruk

Uruk (Cuneiform: UNUG; Arabic: Warkā; Sumerian: Unug; Akkadian: Uruk; Aramaic/Hebrew: Erech; Ancient Greek: Orchoē, Ōrugeia) was an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates river, on the dried-up, ancient channel of the Euphrates River, some 30 km east of modern As-Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq.

Uruk is the type site for the Uruk period (ca. 4000 to 3100 BC), which existed from the protohistoric Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age period in the history of Mesopotamia. It followed the Ubaid period and was succeeded by the Jemdet Nasr period. It played a leading role in the early urbanization of Sumer in the mid 4th millennium BC.

At its height c. 2900 BC, Uruk probably had 50,000–80,000 residents living in 6 km2 of walled area; making it the largest city in the world at the time. The legendary king Gilgamesh, according to the chronology presented in the Sumerian king list, ruled Uruk in the 27th century BC.

The city, however, lost its prime importance around 2000 BC, in the context of the struggle of Babylonia with Elam, but it remained inhabited throughout the Seleucid and Parthian periods until it was finally abandoned shortly before or after the Islamic conquest.

According to the Sumerian king list, Uruk was founded by the king Enmerkar. Though the king-list mentions a king of Eanna before him, the epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta relates that Enmerkar constructed the House of Heaven (Sumerian: e-anna; Cuneiform: E.AN) for the goddess Inanna in the Eanna District of Uruk. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh builds the city wall around Uruk and is king of the city.

Dyeus

Dyēus (also *Dyēus ph2ter, alternatively spelled dyēws) is believed to have been the chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. Part of a larger pantheon, he was the god of the daylight sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society. In his aspect as a father god, his consort would have been Pltwih Méhter (“Earth Mother”).

This deity is not directly attested; rather, scholars have reconstructed this deity from the languages and cultures of later Indo-European peoples such as the Greeks, Latins, and Indo-Aryans.

According to this scholarly reconstruction, Dyeus was addressed as Dyeu Phter, literally “Sky father” or “shining father”, as reflected in Latin Iūpiter, Diēspiter, possibly Dis Pater and deus pater, Greek Zeu pater, Sanskrit Dyàuṣpítaḥ.

As the pantheons of the individual mythologies related to theProto-Indo-European religion evolved, attributes of Dyeus seem to have been redistributed to other deities. In Greek and Roman mythology, Dyeus remained the chief god; however, in Vedic mythology, the etymological continuant of Dyeus became a very abstract god, and his original attributes and dominance over other gods appear to have been transferred to gods such as Agni or Indra.

Later figures etymologically connected with Dyeus is Zeus in Greek mythology, Jupiter (from Iou-pater, pronounced Iuppiter) and Dis Pater in Roman mythology, Dyauṣ Pitār in Historical Vedic religion, and Dionysus, especially with the Thracians and Sabines.

Rooted in the related but distinct Indo-European word *deiwos is the Latin word for deity, deus. The Latin word is also continued in English divine, “deity”, and the original Germanic word remains visible in “Tuesday” (“Day of Tīwaz”) and Old Norse tívar, which may be continued in the toponym Tiveden (“Wood of the Gods”, or of Týr).

Germanic Tīwaz (known as Týr in Old Norse), Latin Deus (originally used to address Jupiter, but later adopted as the name of the Christian god), Indo Aryan deva: (Vedic/Puranic deva, Buddhist deva Iranic daeva, daiva, diw, etc.), Baltic Dievas, Celtic e.g. Gaulish Dēuos, Scottish Gaelic dia, Welsh duw, Slavic div(-ese) (miracle), Estonian Tharapita bears similarity to Dyaus Pita in name, although it has been interpreted as being related to the god Thor, derive from the related *deiwos.

Although some of the more iconic reflexes of Dyeus are storm deities, such as Zeus and Jupiter, this is thought to be a late development exclusive to mediterranean traditions, probably derived from syncretism with Canaanite deities and Perkwunos.

The deity’s original domain was over the daylit sky, and indeed reflexes emphasise this connection to light: Istanu (Tiyaz) is a solar deity, Helios is often referred to as the “eye of Zeus”, in Romanian paganism the Sun is similarly called “God’s eye” and in Indo-Iranian tradition Surya/Hvare-khshaeta is similarly associated with Ahura Mazda. Even in roman tradition, Jupiter often is only associated with diurnal lightning at most, while Summanus is a deity responsible for nocturnal lightning or storms as a whole.

Dyēus’s name also likely means “the daytime sky”: In Sanskrit as div- (nominative singular dyāus with vrddhi), its singular means “the sky” and its plural means “days”. Its accusative form *dyēm became Latin diem “day”, which later gave rise to a new nominative diēs. The original nominative survives as diūs in a few fixed expressions.

Finnish taivas Estonian taevas, Livonian tōvaz etc. (from Proto-Finnic *taivas), meaning “heaven” or “sky,” are likely rooted in the Indo-European word. The neighboring Baltic Dievas or Germanic Tiwaz are possible sources, but the Indo-Iranian *daivas accords better in both form and meaning. Similar origin has been proposed for the word family represented by Finnish toivoa “to hope” (originally “to pray from gods”).

Istanu

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.

Tyr – Hel

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 GermanZiu and Cyo, all from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. The Latinised name is Tius or Tio.

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 Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. In the Poetic Edda, Prose Edda, and Heimskringla, Hel is referred to as a daughter of Loki, and to “go to Hel” is to die. 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.

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 goddesswith 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.

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.

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.

Kali – Shiva

Kālī 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; devotional movements worship 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.

Shiva (Sanskrit: Śiva, meaning “The Auspicious One” is one of the three major deities of Hinduism. Shiva as we know him today shares many features with the Vedic god Rudra, and both Shiva and Rudra are viewed as the same personality in Hindu scriptures. The two names are used synonymously. Rudra, the god of the roaring storm, is usually portrayed in accordance with the element he represents as a fierce, destructive deity.

According to Wendy Doniger, the Puranic Shiva is a continuation of the Vedic Indra. 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.

He is celebrated as a demiurge who pushes up the sky, releases Ushas (dawn) from the Vala cave, and slays Vṛtra; both latter actions are central to the Soma sacrifice. 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.

Nergal/Gugalanna – Ereshkigal

Nergal is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta. Nergal seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with 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. 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 Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (EREŠ.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 nameHades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal (“Great Lady of the Earth” or “Lady of the Great Earth”).

In some versions of the myths, she rules the underworld by herself, sometimes with a husband subordinate to her named Gugalana (Sumerian gu.gal.an.na, “the Great Bull of Heaven”), better known as the Bull of Heaven (Sumerian: gu.an.na), a deity in ancient Mesopotamian religion originating in Sumer as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

Ereshkigal is the sister and counterpart of Inanna/Ishtar, the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year. Ereshkigal was also a queen that many gods and goddesses looked up to in the underworld.

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. 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 the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. It was said that she had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly. Ereshkigal, too, is bound by the laws of the underworld; she can’t leave her kingdom of the underworld to join the other ‘living’ deities, and they can’t visit her in the underworld, or else they can never return. Inanna symbolized erotic love and fertility, and contrasts with 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.

Apollo – Artemis/Diana

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.

Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis, one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Some scholars believe that the name, and indeed the goddess herself, was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: “Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals”. The Arcadians believed she was the daughter of Demeter.

In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth.

Her Roman equivalent is Diana, the goddess of the hunt, the moon and childbirth, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. Diana was one of the three maiden goddesses — along with Minerva and Vesta — who swore never to marry. She was born with her twin brother Apollo on the island of Delos, daughter of Jupiter and Latona.

Diana (pronounced with long ‘ī’ and ‘ā’) is an adjectival form developed from an ancient *divios, corresponding to later ‘divus’, ‘dius’, as in Dius Fidius, Dea Dia and in the neuter form dium meaning the sky. It is rooted in Indoeuropean *d(e)y(e)w, meaning bright sky or daylight, from which also derived the name of Vedic god Dyaus and the Latin deus, (god), dies, (day, daylight), and ” diurnal”, (daytime).

Inanna – Tammuz

Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list It is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them.

It is home to the goddess Inanna (Neo-Assyrian MUŠ), the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. Inanna was the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BCE), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk. She was the goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre.

The story of Inanna’s descent to the underworld is a relatively well-attested and reconstructed composition. The yearly death of Inanna when she goes underground represents the lack of growth, while her return the rebirth of the farming cycle.

The descent to the underworld is a mytheme of comparative mythology found in a diverse number of religions from around the world. The hero, or upper-world deity, journeys to the underworld, or to the land of the dead, and returns, often with a quest-object, or a loved one, or with heightened knowledge.

The ability to enter the realm of the dead while still alive, and to return, is a proof of the classical hero’s exceptional status as more than mortal. A deity who returns from the underworld demonstrates eschatological themes such as the cyclical nature of time and existence, or the defeat of death and the possibility of immortality.

Inanna’s reason for visiting the underworld is unclear. The reason she gives to the gatekeeper of the underworld is that she wants to attend the funeral rites of Ereshkigal’s husband, here said to be Gud-gal-ana. Gugalana was the Bull of Heaven in The Epic of Gilgamesh, which was killed by Gilgamesh and Enkidu. To further add to the confusion, Ereshkigal’s husband typically is the plague god, Nergal, who is said to have raped the goddess after the disappearance of Gugalana.

Gugalanna was sent by the gods to take retribution upon Gilgamesh for rejecting the sexual advances of the goddess Inanna. Gugalanna, whose feet made theearth 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.

Taurus was the constellation of the Northern Hemisphere’s March equinox from about 3200 bc. The equinox was considered the Sumerian New Year, Akitu, an important event in their religion. The story of the death of Gugalanna has been considered to represent the sun’s obscuring of the constellation as it rose on the morning of the equinox.

Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal sign Pisces, the twelfth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the Pisces constellation. Pisces spans the 330° to 360° of the zodiac, between 332.75° and 360° of celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac the sun transits this area on average between February 19 and March 20, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits this area between approximately March 13 and April 13.

Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous the zodiacal sign Aries (meaning “ram”), the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, , originating from the Aries constellation. Aries spans the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°). Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign mostly between March 20 and April 19 each year. Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from April 15 to May 14(approximately).

Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states. In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar.

Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East, as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god. Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity: tablets discovered in 1963 show that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year

Adonis – Aphrodite 

Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. Her Roman equivalent is the goddess Venus. She is identified with the planet Venus.

As with many ancient Greek deities, there is more than one story about her origins. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, she was born when Cronus cut off Uranus’s genitals and threw them into the sea, and she arose from the sea foam (aphros). According to Homer’s Iliad, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. According to Plato (Symposium, 180e), these two origins were of entirely separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos.

Because of her beauty, other gods feared that their rivalry over her would interrupt the peace among them and lead to war, so Zeus married her to Hephaestus, who, because of his ugliness and deformity, was not seen as a threat. Aphrodite had many lovers—both gods, such as Ares, and men, such as Anchises. She played a role in the Eros and Psyche legend, and later was both Adonis’s lover and his surrogate mother. Many lesser beings were said to be children of Aphrodite.

The most prominent lover of Aphrodite is Adonis. He is the child of Myrrha, cursed by Aphrodite with insatiable lust for her own father, King Cinyras of Cyprus, after Myrrha’s mother bragged that her daughter is more beautiful than the goddess. Driven out after becoming pregnant, Myrrha is changed into a myrrh tree, but still gives birth to Adonis.

Aphrodite finds the baby, and takes him to the underworld to be fostered by Persephone. She returns for him when he is grown and strikingly handsome, but Persephone wants to keep him. Zeus decrees that Adonis will spend a third of the year with Aphrodite, a third with Persephone, and a third with whomever he wishes. Adonis chooses Aphrodite, and they are constantly together.

Adonis, who loves hunting, is slain by a wild boar. He bleeds to death, and Aphrodite can only mourn over his body. She causes anemones to grow wherever his blood fell, and decrees a festival on the anniversary of his death.

The shade of Adonis is received in the underworld by Persephone. Aphrodite wants to return him to life. Again, she and Persephone bicker. Zeus intervenes again, decreeing that Adonis will spend six months with Aphrodite and six months with Persephone.

The Levantine Adonis (“lord”), who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.

There has been much scholarship over the centuries concerning the multiple roles of Adonis, if any, and his meaning and purpose in Greek religious beliefs. Modern scholarship sometimes describes him as an annually renewed, ever-youthful vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity whose nature is tied to the calendar. His name is often applied in modern times to handsome youths, of whom he is the archetype.

The Greek Adōnis was a borrowing from the Canaanite word ʼadōn, meaning “lord”, which is related to Adonai, one of the names used to refer to the God of the Hebrew Bible and still used in Judaism to the present day. Syrian Adonis is Gauas or Aos, akin to Egyptian Osiris, the Semitic Tammuz and Baal Hadad, the Etruscan Atunis and the Phrygian Attis, all of whom are deities of rebirth and vegetation.

Adonis is the Hellenized form of the Phoenician word “adoni”, meaning “my lord”. It is believed that the cult of Adonis was known to the Greeks from around the sixth century BC, but it is unquestionable that they came to know it through contact with Cyprus. Around this time, the cult of Adonis is noted in the Book of Ezekiel in Jerusalem, though under the Babylonian name Tammuz.

According to some scholars, the Church of the Nativity, a basilica located in Bethlehem, West Bank, in Bethlehem is built over a cave that was originally a shrine to Adonis-Tammuz. The church was originally commissioned in 327 by Constantine the Great and his mother Helena over the site that is still traditionally considered to be located over the cave that marks the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth.

Balder – Nanna

Baldr (also Balder, Baldur) is a god in Norse mythology, who is given a central role in the mythology. Despite this his precise function is rather disputed. He is often interpreted as the god of love, peace, forgiveness, justice, light or purity, but was not directly attested as a god of such.

Jacob Grimm in his Teutonic Mythology identifies Old Norse Baldr with the Old High German Baldere (2nd Merseburg Charm, Thuringia), Palter (theonym, Bavaria), Paltar (personal name) and with Old English bealdor, baldor “lord, prince, king” (used always with a genitive plural, as in gumena baldor “lord of men”,wigena baldor “lord of warriors”, et cetera). Old Norse shows this usage of the word as an honorific in a few cases, as in baldur î brynju and herbaldr, both epithets of heroes in general.

He is the second son of Odin and the goddess Frigg. His twin brother is the blind god, Höðr, a blind god and the brother of Baldr in Norse mythology. Tricked and guided by Loki, he shot the mistletoe arrow which was to slay the otherwise invulnerable Baldr.

Loki, the mischief-maker, upon finding out about Baldr’s one weakness, made a spear from mistletoe, and helped Höðr shoot it at Baldr. In reaction to this, Odin and the giantess Rindr gave birth to Váli, who grew to adulthood within a day and slew Höðr.

The Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus recorded an alternative version of this myth in his Gesta Danorum. In this version, the mortal hero Høtherus and the demi-god Balderus compete for the hand of Nanna. Ultimately, Høtherus slays Balderus.

According to Gylfaginning, a book of Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, Baldr’s wife is Nanna and their son is Forseti (Old Norse “the presiding one,” actually “president” in Modern Icelandic and Faroese) is an Æsir god ofjustice and reconciliation in Norse mythology.

After Baldr’s death, Nanna dies of grief. Nanna is placed on Baldr’s ship with his corpse and the two are set aflame and pushed out to sea. In Hel, Baldr and Nanna are united again.

In an attempt to bring back Baldr from the dead, the god Hermóðr the Brave (Old Norse “war-spirit”), a figure in Norse mythology, a son of the god Odin often considered the messenger of the gods, rides to Hel and, upon receiving the hope of resurrection from the being Hel, Nanna gives Hermóðr gifts to give to the goddess Frigg (a robe of linen), the goddess Fulla (a finger-ring), and others (unspecified).

Enlil – Ninlil

Enlil (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”) is the god of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance). He was known as the inventor of the mattock (a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax or digging tool of the Sumerians) and helped plants to grow. Enlil was assimilated to the north “Pole of the Ecliptic”. His sacred number name was 50.

It was the name of a chief deity listed and written about in Mesopotamian religion. The name is perhaps pronounced and sometimes rendered in translations as “Ellil” in later Akkadian, Hittite, and Canaanite literature. In later Akkadian, Enlil is the son of Anshar and Kishar.

The myth of Enlil and Ninlil discusses when Enlil was a young god, he was banished from Ekur in Nippur, home of the gods, to Kur, the underworld for seducing a goddess named Ninlil. Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, the moon god Sin (Sumerian Nanna/Suen). After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to the Ekur.

As Enlil was the only god who could reach An, the god of heaven, he held sway over the other gods who were assigned tasks by his agent and would travel to Nippur to draw in his power. He is thus seen as the model for kingship.

Ninlil (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, is the consort goddess of Enlil. Her parentage is variously described. Most commonly she is called the daughter of Haia (god of stores) and Nunbarsegunu (or Ninshebargunnu [a goddess of barley] or Nisaba). Another Akkadian source says she is the daughter of Anu (aka An) and Antu (Sumerian Ki). Other sources call her a daughter of Anu and Nammu.

After her death, she became the goddess of the wind, like Enlil. She may be the Goddess of the South Wind referred to in the story of Adapa, as her husband Enlil was associated with northerly winter storms. As “Lady Wind” she may be associated with the figure of the Akkadian demon “Lil-itu”, thought to have been the origin of the Hebrew Lilith legend.

Hursag

Hursag (transcribed cuneiform: ḫur.saḡ(HUR.SAG)) is a Sumerian term variously translated as meaning “mountain”, “hill”, “foothills” or “piedmont”. Thorkild Jacobsen extrapolated the translation in his later career to mean literally, “head of the valleys”. Some scholars also identify hursag with an undefined mountain range or strip of raised land outside the plain of Mesopotamia.

In a myth variously entitled by Samuel Noah Kramer as “The Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and later Ninurta Myth Lugal-e by Thorkild Jacobsen, Hursag is described as a mound of stones constructed by Ninurta after his defeat of a demon called Asag.

Ninurta’s mother Ninlil visits the location after this great victory. In return for her love and loyalty, Ninurta gives Ninlil the hursag as a gift. Her name is consequentially changed from Ninlil to Ninhursag or the “mistress of the Hursag”.

The hursag is described here in a clear cultural myth as a high wall, levee, dam or floodbank, used to restrain the excess mountain waters and floods caused by the melting snow and spring rain. The hursag is constructed with Ninurta’s skills in irrigation engineering and employed to improve the agriculture of the surrounding lands, farms and gardens where the water had previously been wasted.

Enki – Ninhursag

Enki (Sumerian: EN.KI(G)) is a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia. He was accompanied by an attendant Isimud (Akkadian: also Isinu, Usmû or Usumu), a minor god, the messenger of the god Enki readily identifiable by his possessing two faces looking in opposite directions.

Early royal inscriptions from the third millennium BCE mention “the reeds of Enki”. Reeds were an important local building material, used for baskets and containers, and collected outside the city walls, where the dead or sick were often carried. This links Enki to the Kur or underworld of Sumerian mythology.

The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is “Lord of the Earth”. The Sumerian En is translated as a title equivalent to “lord” and was originally a title given to the High Priest. Ki means “earth”, but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin, possibly kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning “mound”.

He was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus). Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40,” occasionally referred to as his “sacred number.” The planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk) was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki.

His symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn, recognised as the Zodiacal constellation Capricornus. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.

The main temple to Enki is called E-abzu, meaning “abzu temple” (also E-en-gur-a, meaning “house of the subterranean waters”), a ziggurat temple surrounded by Euphratean marshlands near the ancient Persian Gulf coastline at Eridu.

He was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization. His image is a double-helix snake, or the Caduceus, sometimes confused with the Rod of Asclepius used to symbolize medicine. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp.

Nippur

For Nippur (Sumerian: Nibru, often logographically recorded as “Enlil City;” Akkadian: Nibbur) we have the direct evidence that its chief deity, Enlil, was once regarded as the head of the Sumerian pantheon.

Nippur was among the most ancient of Sumerian cities. It was the special seat of the worship of the Sumerian god Enlil, the “Lord Wind,” ruler of the cosmos, subject to An alone. The sanctity and, therefore, the importance of Nippur remained a fixed tradition in the minds of the people to the latest days, and analogy therefore justifies the conclusion that Anu was likewise worshipped in a centre which had acquired great prominence.

Nippur never enjoyed political hegemony in its own right, but its control was crucial, as it was considered capable of conferring the overall “kingship” on monarchs from other city-states. It was distinctively a sacred city, important from the possession of the famous shrine of Enlil.

Inscriptions of Lugal-Zage-Si and Lugal-kigub-nidudu, kings of Uruk and Ur respectively, and of other early pre-non-Semitic rulers, on door-sockets and stone vases, show the veneration in which the ancient shrine was then held, and the importance attached to its possession, as giving a certain stamp of legitimacy. On their votive offerings, some of these rulers designate themselves as ensis, or governors.

Ekur is a Sumerian term meaning “mountain house”. It is the assembly of the gods in theGarden of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus and was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer. This was carried-on into later tradition in the Bible by the prophet Micah who envisions “the mountain of the temple of Yahweh”.

In the Hymn to Enlil, the Ekur is closely linked to Enlil whilst in Enlil and Ninlil it is the abode of the Annanuki, from where Enlil is banished. The fall of Ekur is described in the Lament for Ur.

In mythology, the Ekur was the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united. It is also known as Duranki and one of its structures is known as the Kiur (“great place”). Enamtila, a Sumerian term meaning “house of life” or possibly “house of creation”, has also been suggested by Piotr Michalowski to be a part of the Ekur.

The Ekur was seen as a place of judgement and the place from which Enlil’s divine laws are issued. The ethics and moral values of the site are extolled in myths, which Samuel Noah Kramer suggested would have made it the most ethically-oriented in the entire ancient Near East.

Its rituals are also described as: “banquets and feasts are celebrated from sunrise to sunset” with “festivals, overflowing with milk and cream, are alluring of plan and full of rejoicing”.

The priests of the Ekur festivities are described with en being the high priest, lagar as his associate, mues the leader of incantations and prayers, and guda the priest responsible for decoration. Sacrifices and food offerings were brought by the king, described as “faithful shepherd” or “noble farmer”.

Eridu

Eridu (Cuneiform: NUN.KI) is an archaeological site in southern Mesopotamia. Located 12 km southwest of Ur, Eridu was the southernmost of a conglomeration of Sumerian cities that grew about temples, almost in sight of one another. These buildings were made out of mud brick and built on top of one another. With the temples growing upward and the village grew outward and larger a city was built.

In Sumerian mythology, Eridu was originally the home of Enki, later known by the Akkadians as Ea, who was considered to have founded the city. His temple was called E-Abzu, as Enki was believed to live in Abzu, an aquifer from which all life was believed to stem.

Like all the Sumerian and Babylonian gods, Enki/Ea began as a local god, who came to share, according to the later cosmology, with Anu and Enlil, the rule of the cosmos. His kingdom was the sweet waters that lay below earth (Sumerian ab=water; zu=far).

Eridu, also transliterated as Eridug, could mean “mighty place” or “guidance place”. Babylonian texts talk of the creation of Eridu by the god Marduk as the first city, “the holy city, the dwelling of their [the other gods] delight”.

In the Sumerian king list, Eridu is named as the city of the first kings. The king list continues: “In Eridu, Alulim became king; he ruled for 28800 years. Alalngar ruled for 36000 years. 2 kings; they ruled for 64800 years. Then Eridu fell and the kingship was taken to Bad-tibira.”

The king list gave particularly long rules to the kings who ruled before a great flood occurred, and shows how the center of power progressively moved from the south to the north of the country. Adapa, a man of Eridu, is depicted as an early culture hero. Identified with U-an, a half-human creature from the sea (Abgallu, from ab=water, gal=big, lu=man), he was considered to have brought civilization to the city during the time of King Alulim.

In the court of Assyria, special physicians trained in the ancient lore of Eridu, far to the south, foretold the course of sickness from signs and portents on the patient’s body, and offered the appropriate incantations and magical resources as cures.

The stories of Inanna, goddess of Uruk, describe how she had to go to Eridu in order to receive the gifts of civilization. At first Enki, the god of Eridu attempted to retrieve these sources of his power, but later willingly accepted that Uruk now was the centre of the land. This seems to be a mythical reference to the transfer of power northward.

Thot – Seshat – Maat

Thoth was one of the deities of the Egyptian pantheon. In art, he was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon, animals sacred to him. His feminine counterpart was Seshat, the Ancient Egyptian goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and writing, and his wife was Ma’at, the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice.

Thoth’s chief temple was located in the city of Khmun, later called Hermopolis Magna during the Greco-Roman era (in reference to him through the Greeks’ interpretation that he was the same as their god Hermes) and Shmounein in the Coptic rendering, and was partially destroyed in 1826. In that city, he led the Ogdoad pantheon of eight principal deities.

Thoth played many vital and prominent roles in Egyptian mythology, such as maintaining the universe, and being one of the two deities (the other being Ma’at) who stood on either side of Ra’s boat. In the later history of ancient Egypt, Thoth became heavily associated with the arbitration of godly disputes, the arts of magic, the system of writing, the development of science, and the judgment of the dead.

Maat or Ma’at was also personified as a goddess regulating the stars, seasons, and the actions of both mortals and the deities, who set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation. Her ideological counterpart was Isfet. Pharaohs are often depicted with the emblems of Maat to emphasise their role in upholding the laws of the Creator.

The earliest surviving records indicating that Maat is the norm for nature and society, in this world and the next, were recorded during the Old Kingdom, the earliest substantial surviving examples being found in the Pyramid Texts of Unas (ca. 2375 BCE and 2345 BCE).

Later, as a goddess in other traditions of the Egyptian pantheon, where most goddesses were paired with a male aspect, her masculine counterpart was Thoth, as their attributes are similar. In other accounts, Thoth was paired off with Seshat, goddess of writing and measure, who is a lesser known deity.

After her role in creation and continuously preventing the universe from returning to chaos, her primary role in Egyptian mythology dealt with the weighing of souls (also called the weighing of the heart) that took place in the underworld, Duat. 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.

Seshat was seen as a scribe and record keeper, and her name means she who scrivens (i.e. she who is the scribe), and is credited with inventing writing. She also became identified as the goddess of architecture, astronomy, astrology, building, mathematics, and surveying. These are all professions that relied upon expertise in her skills. She is identified as Safekh-Aubi in some late texts.

In art, she was depicted as a woman with a seven-pointed emblem above her head. It is unclear what this emblem represents. Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (1479-1425 BCE) called her Sefket-Abwy (She of seven points). Spell 10 of the Coffin Texts states “Seshat opens the door of heaven for you.”

As the divine measurer and scribe, Seshat was believed to appear to assist the pharaoh. It was she who recorded, by notching her palm, the time allotted to the pharaoh for his stay on earth. Seshat assisted the pharaoh in the “stretching the cord” ritual. This ritual is related to laying out the foundations of temples and other important structures in order to determine and assure the sacred alignments and the precision of the dimensions.

Her skills were necessary for surveying the land after the annual floods to reestablish boundary lines. The priestess who officiated at these functions in her name also oversaw the staff of others who performed similar duties and were trained in mathematics and the related store of knowledge.

Much of this knowledge was considered quite sacred and not shared beyond the ranks of the highest professionals such as architects and certain scribes. She also was responsible for recording the speeches the pharaoh made during the crowning ceremony and approving the inventory of foreign captives and goods gained in military campaigns. During the New Kingdom, she was involved in the Sed festival held by the pharaohs who could celebrate thirty years of reign.

Later, when the cult of the moon deity, Thoth, became prominent and he became identified as a god of wisdom, the role of Seshat changed in the Egyptian pantheon when counterparts were created for most older deities. The lower ranks of her priestesses were displaced by the priests of Thoth. First, she was identified as his daughter, and later as his wife.

After the pairing with Thoth the emblem of Seshat was shown surmounted by a crescent moon, which, over time, degenerated into being shown as two horns arranged to form a crescent shape, but pointing downward (in an atypical fashion for Egyptian art).

When the crescent moon symbol had degenerated into the horns, she sometimes was known as Safekh-Aubi, meaning she who wears the two horns. In a few images the horns resemble two cobras, as depicted in hieroglyphs, but facing each other with heads touching.

Ninshubar

Ninshubur was the sukkal or second-in-command of the goddess Inanna in Sumerian mythology. A goddess in her own right, her name can be translated as ‘Queen of the East’, and she was said to be a messenger and traveller for the other gods. As Inanna was associated with the planet Venus, Ninshubur was said to be associated with Mercury, as Venus and Mercury appear together in the sky.

Ninshubur accompanied Inanna as a vassal and friend throughout Inanna’s many exploits. She helped Inanna fight Enki’s demons after Inanna’s theft of the sacred me. Later, when Inanna became trapped in the Underworld, it was Ninshubur who pleaded with Enki for her mistress’s release.

Though described as an unmarried virgin, in a few accounts Ninshubur is said to be one of Inanna’s lovers. In later Akkadian mythology, Ninshubur was male. In “A hymn to Nergal” Ninshubur appeared as the minister of the underworld. Due to similarities between the two, some believe the later Hermes to have been based in part on Ninshubur.

Hermes

Hermes is an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, the son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia, and the second youngest of the Olympian gods (Dionysus being the youngest).

Hermes is considered a god of transitions and boundaries. He is described as quick and cunning, moving freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine. Due to his constant mobility, he was considered the god of commerce and social intercourse, the wealth brought in business, especially sudden or unexpected enrichment, travel, roads and crossroads, borders and boundary conditions or transient, the changes from the threshold, agreements and contracts, friendship, hospitality, sexual intercourse, games, data, the draw, good luck, the sacrifices and the sacrificial animals, flocks and shepherds and the fertility of land and cattle.

He is also portrayed as an emissary and messenger of the gods; an intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife. In addition to serving as messenger to Zeus, Hermes carried the souls of the dead to Hades, and directed the dreams sent by Zeus to mortals. He has been viewed as the protector and patron of herdsmen, thieves, oratory and wit, literature and poetry, athletics and sports, invention and trade, roads, boundaries and travelers.

A cult was established in Greece in remote regions, likely making him a god of nature, farmers, and shepherds. It is also possible that since the beginning he has been a deity with shamanic attributes linked to divination, reconciliation, magic, sacrifices, and initiation and contact with other planes of existence, a role of mediator between the worlds of the visible and invisible.

During the 3rd century BC, a communication between Petosiris (a priest) to King Nechopso, probably written in Alexandria c. 150 BC, states Hermes is the teacher of all secret wisdoms available to knowing by the experience of religious ecstasy.

Prior to being known as Hermes, Frothingham thought the god to have existed as a snake-god.Angelo (1997) thinks Hermes to be based on the Thoth archetype. The absorbing (“combining”) of the attributes of Hermes to Thoth developed after the time of Homer amongst Greek and Roman; Herodotus was the first to identify the Greek god with the Egyptian (Hermopolis), Plutarch and Diodorus also, although Plato thought the gods to be dis-similar (Friedlander 1992).

In some myths, he is a trickster and outwits other gods for his own satisfaction or for the sake of humankind. His attributes and symbols include the herma, the rooster, the tortoise, purse or pouch, winged sandals, and winged cap. His main symbol is the Greek kerykeion or Latin caduceus, which appears in a form of two snakes wrapped around a winged staff.

In the Roman adaptation of the Greek pantheon Hermes is identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics such as being the patron of commerce.

Hecate/Trivia

Hecate or Hekate is a goddess in Ancient Greek religion and mythology, most often shown holding two torches or a key and in later periods depicted in triple form. She was variously associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, dogs, light, the moon, magic, witchcraft, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, ghosts, necromancy, and sorcery.

In the post-Christian writings of the Chaldean Oracles (2nd–3rd century CE) she was regarded with (some) rulership over earth, sea and sky, as well as a more universal role as Saviour (Soteira), Mother of Angels and the Cosmic World Soul. She was one of the main deities worshiped in Athenian households as a protective goddess and one who bestowed prosperity and daily blessings on the family.

Hecate may have originated among the Carians of Anatolia, where variants of her name are found as names given to children. Hecate was also worshipped in the ancient city of Colchis.

William Berg observes, “Since children are not called after spooks, it is safe to assume that Carian theophoric names involving hekat- refer to a major deity free from the dark and unsavoury ties to the underworld and to witchcraft associated with the Hecate of classical Athens.”

She also closely parallels the Roman goddess Trivia, with whom she was identified in Rome. Trivia in Roman mythology was the goddess who “haunted crossroads, graveyards, and was the goddess of sorcery and witchcraft, she wandered about at night and was seen only by the barking of dogs who told of her approach.”

She was an underworld Titan-goddess who assisted Jove in the Titanomachy and was therefore able to keep her powers. She was a friend of Ceres and helped her to find her daughter Proserpina. As a part of her role as an underworld goddess, she was known as the Queen of Ghosts. Although she helped Ceres to find her daughter, she was also known to steal young maidens to assist her in her powers. These women later became nymphs.

Her association for Romans of the first century BCE with Artemis was so thorough that Lucretius identifies the altar of the goddess at the sacrifice of Iphianassa (Iphigeneia) in Aulis as Triviai virginis aram.

Artemis/Diana

Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: “Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals”. The Arcadians believed she was the daughter of Demeter. Her Roman equivalent is Diana, in Roman mythology the goddess of the hunt, the moon and childbirth, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals.

In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her.

Diana was known to be the virgin goddess of childbirth and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses — along with Minerva and Vesta — who swore never to marry. Oak groves were especially sacred to her. According to mythology (in common with the Greek religion and their deity Artemis), Diana was born with her twin brother Apollo on the island of Delos, daughter of Jupiter and Latona. Diana made up a triad with two other Roman deities: Egeria the water nymph, her servant and assistant midwife; and Virbius, the woodland god.

Mercury

Mercury is a major Roman god, being one of the Dii Consentes within the ancient Roman pantheon. He was considered the son of Maia and Jupiter. In his earliest forms, he appears to have been related to the Etruscan deity Turms; both gods share characteristics with the Greek god Hermes. He is often depicted holding the caduceus in his left hand.

He is the patron god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence (and thus poetry), messages, communication (including divination), travelers, boundaries, luck, trickery and thieves; he is also the guide of souls to the underworld.

His name is possibly related to the Latin word merx (“merchandise”; compare merchant, commerce, etc.), mercari (to trade), andmerces (wages); another possible connection is the Proto-Indo-European root merĝ- for “boundary, border” (cf. Old English “mearc”, Old Norse “mark” and Latin “margō”) and by analogy of Arctūrus, as the “keeper of boundaries,” referring to his role as bridge between the upper and lower worlds.

Larunda

Larunda (also Larunde, Laranda, Lara) was a naiad nymph, daughter of the river Almo in Ovid’s Fasti. The only known mythography attached to Lara is little, late and poetic, coming to us from Ovid’s Fasti. She was famous for both beauty and loquacity (a trait her parents attempted to curb). She was incapable of keeping secrets, and so revealed to Jupiter’s wife Juno his affair with Juturna (Larunda’s fellow nymph, and the wife of Janus).

For betraying his trust, Jupiter cut out Lara’s tongue and ordered Mercury, the psychopomp, to conduct her to Avernus, the gateway to the Underworld and realm of Pluto. Mercury, however, fell in love with Lara and had sex with her on the way; this act has also been interpreted as a rape. Lara thereby became mother to two children, referred to as the Lares, invisible household gods. However, she had to stay in a hidden cottage in the woods so that Jupiter would not find her.

Larunda is likely identical with Muta “the mute one” and Tacita “the silent one”, nymphs or minor goddesses. Ovid mentions the myth of Lara and Mercury in connection with the festival of Feralia on February 21. Lara/Larunda is also sometimes associated with Acca Larentia, whose feast day was the Larentalia on December 23.

Saturn/Cronus

Saturn is a god in ancient Roman religion, and a character in myth. Saturn is a complex figure because of his multiple associations and long history. He was the first god of the Capitol, known since the most ancient times as Saturnius Mons, and was seen as a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation.

In later developments he came to be also a god of time. His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of plenty and peace. The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum housed the state treasury. In December, he was celebrated at what is perhaps the most famous of the Roman festivals, the Saturnalia, a time of feasting, role reversals, free speech, gift-giving and revelry. Saturn the planet and Saturday are both named after the god.

The Roman soil preserved the remembrance of a very remote time during which Saturn and Janus reigned on the site of the city before its foundation: the Capitol was named mons Saturnius.

The Romans identified Saturn with the Greek Cronus, whose myths were adapted for Latin literature and Roman art. In particular, Cronus’s role in the genealogy of the Greek gods was transferred to Saturn. As early as Livius Andronicus (3rd century BC), Jupiter was called the son of Saturn.

Saturn had two consorts who represented different aspects of the god. The name of his wife Ops, the Roman equivalent of Greek Rhea, means “wealth, abundance, resources.” The association with Ops though is considered a later development, as this goddess was originally paired with Consus. Earlier was Saturn’s association with Lua (“destruction, dissolution, loosening”), a goddess who received the bloodied weapons of enemies destroyed in war.

Under Saturn’s rule, humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labour in the “Golden Age” described by Hesiod and Ovid.

Ops/Rhea

In ancient Roman religion, Ops or Opis (Latin: “Plenty”) was a fertility deity and earth-goddess of Sabine origin. The husband of Ops was Saturn in Roman mythology, and in Greek mythology where Ops is identified as Rhea, her husband was Cronus, the bountiful monarch of the Golden Age. Cronus was Rhea’s husband and brother. She was at the same time the sister of Saturn, and the daughter of Caelus. Her children were Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Juno, Ceres, and Vesta.

In Ops’ statues and coins, she is figured sitting down, as Chthonian deities normally are, and generally holds a scepter or a corn spike as her main attributes.  Opis also acquired queenly status and was reputed to be an eminent goddess. By public decree temples, priests, and sacrifices were accorded her.

In Latin writings of the time, the singular nominative (Ops) is not used; only the form Opisis attested by classical authors. According to Festus (203:19), “Ops is said to be the wife of Saturn and the daughter of Caelus. By her they designated the earth, because the earth distributes all goods to the human genus”. The Latin word opsmeans “riches, goods, abundance, gifts, munificence, and plenty”.

The word is also related to opus, which means “work”, particularly in the sense of “working the earth, ploughing, sowing”. This activity was deemed sacred, and was often attended by religious rituals intended to obtain the good will of chthonic deities such as Ops and Consus. Ops is at the same time related to the Sanskrit word ápnas (“goods, property”).

According to Roman tradition, the cult of Opis was instituted by Titus Tatius, one of the Sabine kings of Rome. Opis soon became the patroness of riches, abundance, and prosperity. Opis had a famous temple in the Capitolium.

Originally, a festival took place in Opis’ honor on August 10. Additionally, on December 19 (some say December 9), the Opalia was celebrated. On August 25, the Opiconsivia was held. Opiconsivia was another name used for Opis, indicating when the earth was sown. These festivals also included activities that were called Consualia, in honor of Consus, her consort.

Rhea is the Titaness daughter of the earth goddess Gaia and the sky god Uranus, in Greek mythology and sister and wife to Cronus. In early traditions, she is known as “the mother of gods” and therefore is strongly associated with Gaia and Cybele, who have similar functions.

The classical Greeks saw her as the mother of the Olympian goddesses and gods, but not as an Olympian goddess in her own right. The Romans identified her with Magna Mater (their form of Cybele), and the Goddess Ops.

Most often Rhea’s symbol is a pair of lions, the ones that pulled her celestial chariot and were seen often, rampant, one on either side of the gateways through the walls to many cities in the ancient world.

Janus

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. It is conventionally thought that the month of January is named for Janus (Ianuarius), but according to ancient Roman farmers’ almanacs Juno was the tutelary deity of the month.

Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence war and peace. The doors of his temple were open in time of war, and closed to mark the peace. As a god of transitions, he had functions pertaining to birth and to journeys and exchange, and in his association with Portunus, a similar harbor and gateway god, he was concerned with travelling, trading and shipping.

Janus had no flamen or specialised priest (sacerdos) assigned to him, but the King of the Sacred Rites (rex sacrorum) himself carried out his ceremonies. Janus had a ubiquitous presence in religious ceremonies throughout the year, and was ritually invoked at the beginning of each one, regardless of the main deity honored on any particular occasion.

In accord with his fundamental character of being the Beginner Janus was considered by Romans the first king of Latium, sometimes along with Camese. He would have received hospitably god Saturn, who, expelled from Heaven by Jupiter, arrived on a ship to the Janiculum.

Janus would have also effected the miracle of turning the waters of the spring at the foot of the Viminal from cold to scorching hot in order to fend off the assault of the Sabines of king Titus Tatius, come to avenge the kidnapping of their daughters by the Romans.

His temple named Janus Geminus had to stand open in times of war. It was said to have been built by king Numa Pompilius, who kept it always shut during his reign as there were no wars. After him it was closed very few times, one after the end of the first Punic War, three times under Augustus and once by Nero. It is recorded that emperor Gordianus III opened the Janus Geminus.

The calendar of Numa and the role of Janus. Contradictions of the ancient Roman calendar on the beginning of the new year: originally March was the first month and February the last one. January, the month of Janus, became the first afterwards and through several manipulations.

The liminal character of Janus is though present in the association to the Saturnalia of December, reflecting the strict relationship between the two gods Janus and Saturn and the rather blurred distinction of their stories and symbols.

The initial role of Janus in the political-religious operations of January: the nuncupatio votorum spanning the year, the imperial symbol of the boat in the opening rite of the sailing season, the vota felicia: Janus and his myths allow for an ancient interpretation of the vota felicia, different from the Isiadic one.

Njord – Nerthus

In Old Icelandic translations of Classical mythology the Roman god Saturn’s name is glossed as “Njörðr.” In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

Njörðr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, in euhemerized form as a beloved mythological early king of Sweden in Heimskringla, also written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century, as one of three gods invoked in the 14th century Hauksbók ring oath, and in numerous Scandinavian place names. Veneration of Njörðr survived into 18th or 19th century Norwegian folk practice, where the god is recorded as Njor and thanked for a bountiful catch of fish.

Odin – Frigg

In Germanic mythology, Odin is a widely revered god. In Norse mythology, from which stems most of our information about the god, Odin is associated with healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, battle, sorcery, poetry, frenzy, and the runic alphabet, and is the husband of the goddess Frigg, described as a goddess associated with foreknowledge and wisdom.

Odin has been a frequent subject of study in Germanic studies and numerous theories surround the god. Some of these focus on Odin’s particular relation to other figures, such as that Freyja’s husband Óðr appears to be something of an etymological doublet of the god, whereas Odin’s wife Frigg is in many ways similar to Freyja, and that Odin has a particular relation to the figure of Loki.

The weekday name Wednesday derives from Old English. Cognate terms are found in other Germanic languages, such as Old High German wōdnesdæg, Middle Low German wōdensdach (Dutch Woensdag), and Old Norse Óðinsdagr (Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Onsdag). All of these terms derive from Proto-Germanic *Wodensdag, itself a Germanic interpretation of Latin Dies Mercurii (“Day of Mercury”).

The earliest records of the Germanic peoples were recorded by the Romans, and in these works Odin is frequently referred to—via a process known as interpretatio romana (where characteristics perceived to be similar by Romans result in identification of a non-Roman god as a Roman deity)—as the Roman god Mercury.

Capricorn 

Capricorn is the tenth astrological sign in the zodiac, originating from theconstellation of Capricornus. It spans the 270–300th degree of the zodiac, corresponding to celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this area from December 22 to January 19 each year, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits the constellation of Capricorn from approximately January 14 to February 14.

In astrology, Capricorn is considered an earth sign, introvert sign, a power sign and one of the four cardinal signs. Capricorn is said to be ruled by the planet Saturn. Its symbol is based on the Sumerians primordial god of wisdom and waters, Enki with the head and upper body of a mountain goat, and the lower body and tail of a fish. Later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology, Enki was the god of intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”), creation, crafts; magic; water, seawater and lakewater (a, aba, ab).

The mountain goat part of the symbol depicts ambition, resolute, intelligence, curiosity but also steadiness, and ability to thrive in inhospitable environments while the fish represents passion, spirituality, intuition, connection with soul. Individuals born between December 21 to January 19 may be called Capricornian.

Capricorn is third and last of the earth signs in the zodiac. The other two earth signs are Taurus and Virgo but, as Capricorn take place around January. Its numerology for January is 1, and certain astrology experts chose Capricorn to be the starting sign than Aries hence the month and year which meant Capricorn is associated with the construction career, in a reference to Janus. Who was the one named for January and is associated with things that can open like doors.

In India, the day when the Sun enters the sidereal zodiac sign of Capricorn is celebrated as the Makara Sankranti festival. The Indian astronomical calendar is not based on the Western Gregorian or Julian date keeping system but has a differential lag. Hence, the festival is celebrated on either of 14 or 15 January every year, when, as per the Indian astronomical calendar, the Sun enters the Capricorn sign.

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