Posted by Fredsvenn on May 26, 2016
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-.
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-.
Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *hewsṓs, 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 Erigone “early-born” in Greek.
The name for “spring season”, *wes-r- is also from the same root. 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 names Aurvandil or Earendel are cognate Germanic personal names, continuing a Proto-Germanic reconstructed compound *auzi-wandilaz “luminous wanderer”, in origin probably the name of a star or planet, potentially the morning star (Eosphoros).
As a Germanic name, Auriwandalo is attested as a historical Lombardic prince. A Latinized version, Horvandillus, is given as the name of the father of Amleth in Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum. German Orentil (Erentil) is the hero of a medieval poem of the same name. He is son of a certain Eigel of Trier and has numerous adventures in the Holy Land.
The Old Norse variant appears in purely mythological context, linking the name to a star. The only known attestation of the Old English Earendel refers to a star exclusively.
The name is a compound whose first part goes back to *auzi- ‘dawn’, a combining form related to *austaz ‘east’, cognate with Ancient Greek ēṓs ‘dawn’, Sanskrit uṣā́s, Latin aurōra, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *héuso-s ‘dawn’. The second part comes from *wanđilaz, a derivative of *wanđaz (cf. Old Norse vandr‘difficult’, Old Saxon wand ‘fluctuating, variable’, English wander), from *wenđanan which gave in English wend.
In the Old English poem Crist I the name is taken to refer to John the Baptist, addressed as the morning star heralding the coming of Christ, the “sun of righteousness”. Compare the Blickling Homilies (p. 163, I. 3) which state “And now the birth of Christ (was) at his appearing, and the new eorendel (morning-star) was John the Baptist. And now the gleam of the true Sun, God himself, shall come.”
Phosphorus is the Morning Star, the planet Venus in its morning appearance. Phaosphoros and Phaesphoros are forms of the same name in some Greek dialects. Another Greek name for the Morning Star is Heosphoros (Greek Heōsphoros), meaning “Dawn-Bringer”.
The form Eosphorus is sometimes met in English, as if from Ēōsphoros, which is not actually found in Greek literature, but would be the form that would have in some dialects.
As an adjective, the Greek word is applied in the sense of “light-bringing” to, for instance, the dawn, the god Dionysos, pine torches, the day; and in the sense of “torch-bearing” as an epithet of several god and goddesses, especially Hecate but also of Artemis/Diana and Hephaestus.
The Latin word lucifer was used as a name for the morning star and thus appeared in the Vulgate translation of the Hebrew word helel, meaning Venus as the brilliant, bright or shining one, in Isaiah 14:12. As a translation of the same Hebrew word the King James Version gave “Lucifer”, a name often understood as a reference to Satan.
Heosphoros in the Greek Septuagint and Lucifer in Jerome’s Latin Vulgate were used to translate the Hebrew Helel (Venus as the brilliant, bright or shining one), Son of Shahar (Dawn) in the Hebrew version of Isaiah14:12.
Modern translations of the same passage render the Hebrew word instead as “morning star”, “daystar”, “shining one” or “shining star”. In Revelation 22:16, Jesus is referred to as the morning star, but not as lucifer in Latin, nor as in the original Greek text. In the Vulgate Latin text of 2 Peter 1:19 the word “lucifer” is used of the morning star in the phrase “until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts”.
In Greek mythology, Hesperus is the Evening Star, the planet Venus in the evening. Hesperus’ Roman equivalent is Vesper (cf. “evening”, “supper”, “evening star”, “west”). Hesperus is the son of the dawn goddess Eos (Roman Aurora) and is the half-brother of her other son, Phosphorus (also called Eosphorus; the “Morning Star”). Hesperus’ father was Cephalus, a mortal, while Phosphorus’ was the star god Astraios, an astrological deity and the Titan-god of the dusk.
Hesperus is the personification of the “evening star”, the planet Venus in the evening. His name is sometimes conflated with the names for his brother, the personification of the planet as the Morning Star Eosphorus (“Bearer of Dawn”) or Phosphorus (“Bearer of Light”), often translated as Lucifer in Latin), since they are all personifications of the same planet Venus.
Heosphoros in the Greek Septuagint and Lucifer in Jerome’s Latin Vulgate were used to translate the Hebrew Helel (Venus as the brilliant, bright or shining one), Son of Shahar (god) (Dawn) in the Hebrew version of Isaiah14:12.
When named thus by the ancient Greeks, it was thought that Eosphorus (Venus in the morning) and Hesperos (Venus in the evening) were two different celestial objects. The Greeks later accepted the Babylonian view that the two were the same, and the Babylonian identification of the planets with the great gods, and dedicated the “wandering star” (planet) to Aphrodite (Roman Venus), as the equivalent of Ishtar.
The morning star is an appearance of the planet Venus, an inferior planet, meaning that its orbit lies between that of the Earth and the Sun. Depending on the orbital locations of both Venus and Earth, it can be seen in the eastern morning sky for an hour or so before the Sun rises and dims it, or in the western evening sky for an hour or so after the Sun sets, when Venus itself then sets.
It is the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon, outshining the planets Saturn and Jupiter but, while these rise high in the sky, Venus never does. This may lie behind myths about deities associated with the morning star proudly striving for the highest place among the gods and being cast down.
While at an early stage the Morning Star (called hosphorus and other names) and the Evening Star (referred to by names such as Hesperus) were thought of as two celestial objects, the Greeks accepted that the two were the same, but they seem to have continued to treat the two mythological entities as distinct.
Because of its positioning so close to Earth, Venus is not visible across the dome of the sky as most celestial bodies are. Its proximity to the sun renders it invisible during the day. Instead, Venus is visible only when it rises in the East before sunrise, or when it sets in the West after sunset.
Because the movements of Venus appear to be discontinuous (it disappears due to its proximity to the sun, for many days at a time, and then reappears on the other horizon), some cultures did not recognize Venus as single entity, but rather regarded the planet as two separate stars on each horizon as the morning and evening star.
The Mesopotamians, however, most likely understood that the planet was one entity. A cylinder seal from the Jemdet Nasr period expresses the knowledge that both morning and evening stars were the same celestial entity.
Inanna was associated with the planet Venus, which at that time was regarded as two stars, the “morning star” and the “evening star.” There are hymns to Inanna as her astral manifestation. It is believed that in many myths about Inanna, including Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld and Inanna and Shukaletuda, her movements correspond with the movements of Venus in the sky.
The discontinuous movements of Venus relate to both mythology as well as Inanna’s dual nature. Inanna is related like Venus to the principle of connectedness, but this has a dual nature and could seem unpredictable. Yet as both the goddess of love and war, with both masculine and feminine qualities, Inanna is poised to respond, and occasionally to respond with outbursts of temper.
Mesopotamian literature takes this one step further, explaining Inanna’s physical movements in mythology as corresponding to the astronomical movements of Venus in the sky. Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld explains how Inanna is able to, unlike any other deity, descend into the netherworld and return to the heavens. The planet Venus appears to make a similar descent, setting in the West and then rising again in the East.
In Inanna and Shukaletuda, in search of her attacker, Inanna makes several movements throughout the myth that correspond with the movements of Venus in the sky. An introductory hymn explains Inanna leaving the heavens and heading for Kur, what could be presumed to be, the mountains, replicating the rising and setting of Inanna to the West. Shukaletuda also is described as scanning the heavens in search of Inanna, possibly to the eastern and western horizons.
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.
Enlil (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”) is the god of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance). Enlil 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. He is equal to Greek Cronus, Roman Saturn, Hurrian Kumarbi, and Semitic El.
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, who 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.
By his wife Ninlil or Sud, Enlil was father of the moon god Nanna/Suen (in Akkadian, Sin), Ninurta (also called Ningirsu), and Nergal. Enlil is the father of Nisaba the goddess of grain, of Pabilsag who is sometimes equated with Ninurta, and sometimes of Enbilulu. By Ereshkigal Enlil was father of Namtar.
Enlil is associated with the ancient city of Nippur, sometimes referred to as the cult city of Enlil. His temple was named Ekur, “House of the Mountain.” Such was the sanctity acquired by this edifice that Babylonian and Assyrian rulers, down to the latest days, vied with one another to embellish and restore Enlil’s seat of worship. Eventually, the name Ekur became the designation of a temple in general.
Grouped around the main sanctuary, there arose temples and chapels to the gods and goddesses who formed his court, so that Ekur became the name for an entire sacred precinct in the city of Nippur. The name “mountain house” suggests a lofty structure and was perhaps the designation originally of the staged tower at Nippur, built in imitation of a mountain, with the sacred shrine of the god on the top.
Enlil was also known as the god of weather. According to the Sumerians, Enlil requested the creation of a slave race, but then got tired of their noise and tried to kill them by sending a flood. A mortal known as Utnapishtim survived the flood through the help of another god, Ea, and he was made immortal by Enlil after Enlil’s initial fury had subsided.
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. Enlil was assimilated to the north “Pole of the Ecliptic”. His sacred number name was 50. Among the titles accorded to him are “king of lands”, “king of heaven and earth”, and “father of the gods”.
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. 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.
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 (cuneiform: HUR.SAG) 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”.
Hursag 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.
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.
Edin – Dilmun
Edin is a Sumerian term meaning “steppe” or “plain”, written ideographically with the cuneiform sign EDIN. It is featured on the Gudea cylinders as the name of a watercourse from which plaster is taken to build a temple for Ningirsu. Friedrich Delitzsch was the first amongst numerous scholars to suggest the Jewish and Christian term Eden traced back to this term. The later Babylonian term is “edinu”.
Dilmun or Telmun was an ancient country mentioned throughout the history of Mesopotamia from the 3rd millennium BC onwards. Dilmun was an important trading center from the late fourth millennium to 800 BC. In the early epic “Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta”, the main events, which center on Enmerkar’s construction of the ziggurats in Uruk and Eridu, are described as taking place at a time “before Dilmun had yet been settled”.
Ninlil, the Sumerian goddess of air and south wind had her home in Dilmun. Dilmun is also described in the epic story of Enki and Ninhursag as the site at which the Creation occurred. The later Babylonian Enuma Elish, speaks of the creation site as the place where the mixture of salt water, personified as Tiamat met and mingled with the fresh water of Abzu.
It is often misreported that the Sumerians described Dilmun as a paradise garden in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The Sumerian tale of the garden paradise of Dilmun may have been an inspiration for the Garden of Eden story. However, this is entirely modern speculation since the home of Utnapishtim is never indicated as Dilmun, nor does the name appear in any Gilgamesh literature.
Ninhursag (“lady of the sacred mountain”; from Sumerian NIN “lady” and ḪAR.SAG “sacred mountain, foothill”) was a mother goddess of the mountains. According to legend her name was changed from Ninmah to Ninhursag by her son Ninurta in order to commemorate his creation of the mountains.
Temple hymn sources identify her as the ‘true and great lady of heaven’ (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were ‘nourished by Ninhursag’s milk’. Her hair is sometimes depicted in an omega shape, and she at times wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders, and not infrequently carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash.
She had many names including Ninmah (“Great Queen”); Nintu (“Lady of Birth”); Mamma or Mami (mother); Aruru, and Belet-Ili (lady of the gods, Akkadian). As Ninmenna, according to a Babylonian investiture ritual, she placed the golden crown on the king in the Eanna temple.
Some of the names above were once associated with independent goddesses (such as Ninmah and Ninmenna), who later became identified and merged with Ninhursag, and myths exist in which the name Ninhursag is not mentioned.
As the wife and consort of Enki she was also referred to as Damgulanna (great wife of heaven) or Damkina (faithful wife). She had many epithets includingshassuru or ‘womb goddess’, tabsut ili ‘midwife of the gods’, ‘mother of all children’ and ‘mother of the gods’. In this role she is identified with Ki in the Enuma Elish. She had shrines in both Eridu and Kish.
In the text ‘Creator of the Hoe’, she completed the birth of mankind after the heads had been uncovered by Enki’s hoe. In creation texts, Ninmah (another name for Ninhursag) acts as a midwife whilst the mother goddess Nammu makes different kinds of human individuals from lumps of clay at a feast given by Enki to celebrate the creation of humankind.
Her symbol, resembling the Greek letter omega Ω, has been depicted in art from around 3000 BC. The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, and may represent a stylized womb. Hathor is at times depicted on a mountain, so it may be that the two goddesses are connected.
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 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 accompanied by an attendant Isimud. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.
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.
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”.
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.
Ningikuga (“Lady of the Pure Reed”) in Sumerian mythology was a goddess of reeds and marshes. She was one of the consorts of Enki, by whom she became the mother of Ningal (“Great Lady/Queen”), a goddess of reeds in the Sumerian mythology. She was the consort of the moon god Nanna by whom she bore Utu the sun god, Inanna, and in some texts, Ishkur. She is chiefly recognised at Ur, and was probably first worshipped by cow-herders in the marsh lands of southern Mesopotamia..
The name Ea is allegedly Hurrian in origin while others claim that his name ‘Ea’ is possibly of Semitic origin and may be a derivation from the West-Semitic root *hyy meaning “life” in this case used for “spring”, “running water.” In Sumerian E-A means “the house of water”, and it has been suggested that this was originally the name for the shrine to the god at Eridu.
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. 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, the goddess of the primeval creative matter and the mother-goddess portrayed as having “given birth to the great gods,” 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”. In one evocative passage in a Sumerian hymn, Enki stands at the empty riverbeds and fills them with his ‘water'”. This may be a reference to Enki’s hieros gamos or sacred marriage with Ki/Ninhursag (the Earth).
Hermes/ Mercury/ Odin
Due to similarities between the two, some believe the later Hermes to have been based in part on Ninshubur. 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.
When they described the gods of Celtic and Germanic tribes, rather than considering them separate deities, the Romans interpreted them as local manifestations or aspects of their own gods, a cultural trait called the interpretatio Romana. Mercury in particular was reported as becoming extremely popular among the nations the Roman Empire conquered; Julius Caesar wrote of Mercury being the most popular god in Britain and Gaul, regarded as the inventor of all the arts.
This is probably because in the Roman syncretism, Mercury was equated with the Celtic god Lugus, and in this aspect was commonly accompanied by the Celtic goddess Rosmerta. Although Lugus may originally have been a deity of light or the sun (though this is disputed), similar to the Roman Apollo, his importance as a god of trade made him more comparable to Mercury, and Apollo was instead equated with the Celtic deity Belenus.
Romans associated Mercury with the Germanic god Odin, by interpretatio Romana; 1st-century Roman writer Tacitus identifies him as the chief god of the Germanic peoples. 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.
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”).
Frigg (Old Norse), Frija (Old High German), Frea (Langobardic), and Frige (Old English) is a goddess. Frigg is the wife of the major god Odin and dwells in the wetland halls of Fensalir, is famous for her foreknowledge, is associated with the goddesses Fulla, Lofn, Hlín, and Gná, and is ambiguously associated with the Earth, otherwise personified as an apparently separate entity Jörð (Old Norse “Earth”).
The children of Frigg and Odin include the gleaming god Baldr. Due to significant thematic overlap, scholars have proposed a particular connection to the goddess Freyja. 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. All sources describe the deities Njörðr, Freyr and Freyja as members of the Vanir.
The name Friday comes from the Old English Frīġedæġ, meaning the “day of Frige”, a result of an old convention associating the Old English goddess Frigg with the Roman goddess Venus, with whom the day is associated in many different cultures. The same holds for Frīatag in Old High German, Freitag in Modern German, and vrijdag in Dutch.
The expected cognate name in Old Norse would be *friggjar-dagr. However, the name of Friday in Old Norse is frjá-dagrinstead, indicating a loan of the week-day names from Low German. The modern Scandinavian form is Fredag in Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish, meaning Freyja’s day. The distinction between Freyja and Frigg in some Germanic mythologies is problematic.
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.'”
Týr is a Germanic god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws, Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu and Cyo, all from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. The Latinised name is Tius or Tio.
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.
Týr is a god of war and will take mead, meat and blood for sacrifice. If a warrior carved the rune Tîwaz on his weapon he would be dedicating it to Týr and strengthen the outcome of a battle to be in his favor. After a warrior has dedicated his weapon to Týr he should not lose it or break it. Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio germanica. Tuesday is in fact “Tīw’s Day” (also in Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag), translating dies Martis.
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.
Diana/ Artemis/ Persephone/ Prosperina
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.
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).
On the Tablets of Pylos a theonym διϝια (diwia) is supposed as referring to a deity precursor of Artemis. Modern scholars mostly accept the identification. The ancient Latin writers Varro and Cicero considered the etymology of Dīāna as allied to that of dies and connected to the shine of the Moon.
In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon and nature being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. 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.
Diana was eventually equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. 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.
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.
In ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth. Her cult titles include Sito, “she of the Grain”, as the giver of food or grain and Thesmophoros (thesmos: divine order, unwritten law; phoros: bringer, bearer), “Law-Bringer,” as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society.
Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sacred law, and the cycle of life and death. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon. In the Linear B Mycenean Greek tablets of circa 1400–1200 BC found at Pylos, the “two mistresses and the king” may be related with Demeter, Persephone and Poseidon. Her Roman equivalent is Ceres.
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 (“king of the mountains”).
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.
Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. In theProse 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. The Prose Edda details that Hel rules over vast mansions with many servants in her underworld realm and plays a key role in the attempted resurrection of the god Baldr.
Scholarly theories have been proposed about Hel’s potential connections to figures appearing in the 11th century Old English Gospel of Nicodemus and Old Norse Bartholomeus saga postola, that she may have been considered a goddess with potential Indo-European parallels in Bhavani, Kali, and Mahakali or that Hel may have become a being only as a late personification of the location of the same name.
Gugalanna/ Nergal – Ereshkigal
Aries (Tammuz) – Taurus (Gugalanna/ Nergal)
Gugalanna (Sumerian gu.gal.an.na, “the Great Bull of Heaven”), better known as the Bull of Heaven (Sumerian: gu.an.na), was 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.
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. 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.
Gugalanna was sent by the gods to take retribution upon Gilgamesh for rejecting the sexual advances of the goddess Inanna. Gugalanna, whose feet made the earth shake, was slain and dismembered by Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu. Inanna looked down from the city walls and Enkidu shook the haunches of the bull at her, threatening to do the same if he ever caught her. He is later killed for this impiety.
Gugalanna was the first husband of Ereshkigal, ruler of the Underworld, a gloomy place devoid of light. It was to share the sorrow with her sister that Inanna later descends to the Underworld.
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.
Alalu is god in Hurrian mythology. He is considered to have housed “the Hosts of Sky”, the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth.
The name “Alalu” was borrowed from Semitic mythology and is a compound word made up of the Semitic definite article al and the Semitic supreme deity Alu. The -u at the end of the word is an inflectional ending; thus, Alalu may also occur as Alali or Alala depending on the position of the word in the sentence. He was identified by the Greeks as Hypsistos. He was also called Alalus.
Alalu was a primeval deity of the Hurrian mythology. After nine years of reign, Alalu was defeated by his son Anu. Anuʻs son Kumarbi also defeated his father, and his son Teshub defeated him, too. Scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian creation myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus. Alalu fled to the underworld.
Nergal’s fiery aspect appears in names or epithets such as Lugalgira, Lugal-banda (Nergal as the fighting-cock), Sharrapu (“the burner,” a reference to his manner of dealing with outdated teachings), Erra, Gibil, though this name more properly belongs to Nusku, and Sibitti or Seven. The name “seven sisters” has been used for the Pleiades in the languages of many cultures.
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.
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.
Aries is one of the constellations of the zodiac. It is located in the northern celestial hemisphere between Pisces to the west and Taurus to the east. The name Aries is Latin for ram, and its symbol is representing a ram’s horns.
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 LÚ.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.
A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninurta (slayer of Asag and wielder of Sharur, an enchanted mace) and Nergal. Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king,” the “furious one,” and the like. A play upon his name – separated into three elements as Ne-uru-gal(lord of the great dwelling) – expresses his position at the head of the nether-world pantheon.
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.
Nergal’s chief temple at Cuthah bore the name Meslam, from which the god receives the designation of Meslamtaedaor Meslamtaea, “the one that rises up from Meslam”. The name Meslamtaeda/Meslamtaea indeed is found as early as the list of gods from Fara while the name Nergal only begins to appear in the Akkadian period.
Gemini is the third astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the constellation of Gemini. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this sign between May 21 and June 21. Gemini is represented by the twins Castor and Pollux. The symbol of the twins is based on the Dioscuri, two mortals that were granted shared godhood after death. When Castor died, because he was mortal, Pollux begged his father Zeus to give Castor immortality, and he did, by uniting them together in the heavens.
In Babylonian astronomy, the stars Castor and Pollux were known as the Great Twins (MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL). The Twins were regarded as minor gods and were called Meshlamtaea and Lugalirra, meaning respectively ‘The One who has arisen from the Underworld’ and the ‘Mighty King’. Both names can be understood as titles of Nergal, the major Babylonian god of plague and pestilence, who was king of the Underworld.
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.
The worship of Nergal does not appear to have spread as widely as that of Ninurta, but in the late Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused the two divinities, which were invoked together as if they were identical.
In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.
Being a deity of the desert, god of fire, which is one of negative aspects of the sun, god of the underworld, and also being a god of one of the religions which rivaled Christianity and Judaism, Nergal was sometimes called a demon and even identified with Satan.
According to Collin de Plancy and Johann Weyer, Nergal was depicted as the chief of Hell’s “secret police”, and worked as “an honorary spy in the service of Beelzebub”.
Shiva – Kali
Shiva (Sanskrit: Śiva, meaning “The Auspicious One”) is one of the three major deities of Hinduism. He is the chief deity within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism. He is one ofthe five primary forms of God in the Smarta Tradition, and “the Transformer”.
At the highest level, Shiva is regarded as limitless, transcendent, unchanging and formless. Shiva also has many benevolent and fearsome forms. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash, as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya, and in fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also regarded as the patron god of yoga and arts.
The main iconographical attributes of Shiva are the third eye on his forehead, the snake Vasuki around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the trishula as his weapon and the damaru as his musical instrument. Shiva is usually worshiped in the aniconic form of Lingam.
Shiva forms a Tantric couple with Shakti, the embodiment of energy, dynamism, and the motivating force behind all action and existence in the material universe. Shakti is his transcendent feminine aspect, providing the divine ground of all being. Shakti manifests in several female deities. Sati and Parvati are the main consorts of Shiva. She is also referred to as Uma, Durga (Parvati), Kali and Chandika.
Kali is the manifestation of Shakti in her dreadful aspect. The name Kali comes from kāla, which means black, time, death, lord of death, Shiva. Since Shiva is called Kāla, the eternal time, Kālī, his consort, also means “Time” or “Death” (as in “time has come”).
Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shākta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman. She is also revered as Bhavatārini (literally “redeemer of the universe”).
Kālī is represented as the consort of Lord Shiva, on whose body she is often seen standing or dancing. Shiva is the masculine force, the power of peace, while Shakti translates to power, and is considered as the feminine force. In the Vaishnava tradition, these realities are portrayed as Vishnu and Laxmi, or Radha and Krishna. These are differences in formulation rather than a fundamental difference in the principles.
Both Shiva and Shakti have various forms. Shiva has forms like Yogi Raj (the common image of Himself meditating in the Himalayas), Rudra (a wrathful form) and Nataraj (Shiva’s dance are the Lasya – the gentle form of dance, associated with the creation of the world, and the Tandava – the violent and dangerous dance, associated with the destruction of weary world views – weary perspectives and lifestyles).
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.
The Puranic Shiva is a continuation of the Vedic Indra. Both are associated with mountains, rivers, male fertility, fierceness, fearlessness, warfare, transgression of established mores, the Aum sound, the Supreme Self. In the Rig Veda the term śiva is used to refer to Indra. Indra, like Shiva, is likened to a bull. In the Rig Veda, Rudra is the father of the Maruts, but he is never associated with their warlike exploits as is Indra.
Dyēus (also *Dyēus phter, 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 the Proto-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, and Slavic div(-ese) (miracle) derive from the related *deiwos. Estonian Tharapita bears similarity to Dyaus Pita in name, although it has been interpreted as being related to the god Thor.
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 traditionSurya/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”).
Dīs Pater was a Roman god of the underworld, later subsumed by Pluto or Hades (Hades was Greek). Originally a chthonic god of riches, fertile agricultural land, and underground mineral wealth, he was later commonly equated with the Roman deities Pluto and Orcus, becoming an underworld deity.
Dīs Pater was commonly shortened to simply Dīs. This name has since become an alternative name for the underworld or a part of the underworld, such as the City of Dis of The Divine Comedy.
It is often thought that Dīs Pater was also a Celtic god. This confusion arises from the second-hand citation of one of Julius Caesar’s comments in his Commentaries on the Gallic Wars VI:18, where he says that the Gauls all claimed descent from Dīs Pater.
However, Caesar’s remark is a clear example of interpretatio Romana: what Caesar meant was that the Gauls all claimed descent from a Gaulish god that reminded him of the Roman Dīs Pater, that is, a chthonic deity associated with prosperity and fertility. Different possible candidates exist for this role in Celtic religion, such as Gaulish Sucellus, Irish Donn and Welsh Beli Mawr, among others.
Cicero in his De Natura Deorum derives the name of Dīs Pater from dives, suggesting a meaning of “father of riches”, directly corresponding to the name Pluto (“wealthy”). According to some 19th century authors many of Cicero’s etymological derivations are not to be taken seriously, and may indeed have been intended ironicall, however, this particular derivation of Cicero’s has been accepted by some contemporary authors, some even suggesting that Dīs Pater is a direct loan translation of Ploutōn. Alternatively, he may be a secondary reflex of the same god as Jupiter (Proto-Indo-European Dyeus Phter).
Like Pluto, Dīs Pater eventually became associated with death and the underworld because the wealth of the earth – gems and precious metals – was considered in the domain of the Greco-Roman underworld. As a result, Dīs Pater was over time conflated with the Greek god Hades.
In being conflated with Pluto, Dīs Pater took on some of the Greek mythological attributes of Pluto/Hades, being one of the three sons of Saturn (Greek: Cronus) and Ops (Greek: Rhea), along with Jupiter and Neptune. He ruled the underworld and the dead beside his wife, Proserpina (Greek: Persephone). In literature, Dīs Pater was commonly used as a symbolic and poetic way of referring to death itself.
In 249 BC and 207 BC, the Roman Senate under Senator Lucius Catelli ordained special festivals to appease Dīs Pater and Proserpina. Every hundred years, a festival was celebrated in his name. According to legend, a round marble altar, Altar of Dīs Pater and Proserpina (Latin: Ara Ditis Patris et Proserpinae), was miraculously discovered by the servants of a Sabine called Valesius, the ancestor of the first consul.
The servants were digging in the Tarentum on the edge of the Campus Martius to lay foundations following instructions given to Valesius’s children in dreams, when they found the altar 20 feet (6 m) underground. Valesius reburied the altar after three days of games. Sacrifices were offered to this altar during the Ludi Saeculares or Ludi Tarentini. It may have been uncovered for each occasion of the games, to be reburied afterwards, a clearly chthonic tradition of worship. It was rediscovered in 1886–87 beneath the Corso Vittorio Emanuele in Rome.
In addition to being considered the ancestor of the Gauls, Dīs Pater was sometimes identified with the Sabine god Soranus. In southern Germany and the Balkans, Dīs Pater had a Celtic goddess, Aericura, as a consort. Dīs Pater was rarely associated with foreign deities in the shortened form of his name, Dis.
Dingir (usually transliterated diĝir, pronounced /diŋir/) is a Sumerian word for “god.” 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-. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again an.
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 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.
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 be 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.
Anu (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, Angels 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. Ti means life in Sumerian. Ninti (Lady Rib) is the Sumerian goddess of life.
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 (not to be confused with the subterranean Abzu). 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.
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.
This myth, also fragmentary, begins with a conversation between Inanna and her brother Utu. She laments the fact that the Eanna temple is not of their domain, and resolves to reach or secure it. The text becomes increasingly fragmentary at this point in the narrative, but appears to describe her difficult passage through a marshland to reach it, while being advised by a fisherman as to the best route.
Ultimately she reaches her father, Anu. While he is shocked by her arrogance in attempting to capture the Eanna temple for herself, he nevertheless concedes that she has succeeded and it is now her domain. The text ends with an exaltation of her qualities and powers. This myth may represent an eclipse in the authority of the priests of Anu in Uruk, and a transfer of power to the priests of Inanna.
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.
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 Innan, 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.
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.
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. 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 (Tablet I, 38ff).
The doctrine once established 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. For Nippur we have the direct evidence that its chief deity, En-lil, was once regarded as the head of the Sumerian pantheon.
The sanctity and, therefore, the importance of Eridu 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.
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. 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.
Ishara (išḫara) is an ancient deity of unknown origin from northern modern Syria. Ishara is a pre-Hurrian and perhaps pre-Semitic deity, later incorporated into the Hurrian pantheon. The goddess appears from as early as the mid 3rd millennium as one of the chief goddesses of Ebla and was incorporated to the Hurrian pantheon from which she found her way to the Hittite pantheon. The etymology of Ishara is unknown, however, Ishara is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath.
In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar. Variants of the name appear as Ašḫara (in a treaty of Naram-Sin of Akkad with Hita of Elam) and Ušḫara (in Ugarite texts). In Ebla, there were various logographic spellings involving the sign AMA “mother”. In Alalah, her name was written with the Akkadogram IŠTAR plus a phonetic complement -ra, as IŠTAR-ra.
Ishara first appears in the pre-Sargonic texts from Ebla and then as a goddess of love in Old Akkadian potency-incantations. Her main epithet wasbelet rame (“Lady of Love”) was also applied to Ishtar. In the Epic of Gilgamesh it says: “For Ishara the bed is made” and in Atra-hasis she is called upon to bless the couple on the honeymoon.
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. In astronomy, the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, is an open star cluster located in the constellation of Taurus.
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”.
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 remote and difficult to reach.
Aratta is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk. It is home to the goddess Inanna, who then, after her allegiance had been transfered from Aratta to the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre, became the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BCE), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk.
Inanna also was associated with rain and storms and with the planet Venus, the morning and evening star, as was the Greco-Roman goddess Aphrodite or Venus. Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna.
The House of Heaven (Sumerian: e-anna; Cuneiform: E.AN) temple in Uruk was the greatest of these, where sacred prostitution was a common practice. In addition 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.
Inanna’s name derives from Lady of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-an-ak). The cuneiform sign of Inanna; however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin; Cuneiform: SAL.TUG) and sky (Sumerian: an; Cuneiform: AN).
These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that originally Inanna may have been a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon, an idea supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, at first she had no sphere of responsibilities.
Hannahannah (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”) is a Hurrian Mother Goddess. Hannahannah was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat, who is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele (“Mountain Mother”), an Anatolian mother goddess.
Cybele has a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük, where the statue of a pregnant, seated goddess was found in a granary dated to the 6th millennium BCE. This corpulent, fertile Mother Goddess appears to be giving birth on her throne, which has two feline-headed hand rests.
She is Phrygia’s only known goddess, and was probably its state deity. Her Phrygian cult was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor and spread to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies around the 6th century BCE.
In Greece, Cybele met with a mixed reception. She was partially assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia, her Minoan equivalent Rhea, and the Harvest-Mother goddess Demeter.
Some city-states, notably Athens, evoked her as a protector, but her most celebrated Greek rites and processions show her as an essentially foreign, exotic mystery-goddess who arrives in a lion-drawn chariot to the accompaniment of wild music, wine, and a disorderly, ecstatic following. Uniquely in Greek religion, she had a transgender or eunuch mendicant priesthood.
Many of her Greek cults included rites to a divine Phrygian castrate shepherd-consort Attis, who was probably a Greek invention. In Greece, Cybele is associated with mountains, town and city walls, fertile nature, and wild animals, especially lions.
In Rome, Cybele was known as Magna Mater (“Great Mother”). The Roman State adopted and developed a particular form of her cult after the Sibylline oracle recommended her conscription as a key religious component in Rome’s second war against Carthage.
Roman mythographers reinvented her as a Trojan goddess, and thus an ancestral goddess of the Roman people by way of the Trojan prince Aeneas. With Rome’s eventual hegemony over the Mediterranean world, Romanised forms of Cybele’s cults spread throughout the Roman Empire.
In Greco-Roman mythology, Aeneas (“praised”) was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Venus (Aphrodite). His father was a first cousin of King Priam of Troy (both being grandsons of Ilus, founder of Troy), making Aeneas a second cousin to Priam’s children (such as Hector and Paris).
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, 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 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.
Pices – Aries
Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces, 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. The symbol of the fish is derived from the ichthyocentaurs, who aided Aphrodite when she was born from the sea.
Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries (meaning “ram”), 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 Aries 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). 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.
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 cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East.
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.
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.
According to some scholars, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is built over a cave that was originally a shrine to Adonis-Tammuz. The Church of the Nativity is a basilica located in Bethlehem, West Bank. 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.
Baldr (“lord, prince, king”) 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.
He is the second son of Odin and the goddess Frigg. His twin brother is the blind god, Höðr. 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), an Æsir god of justice and reconciliation.
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 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).
Shalim (Shalem, Salem, and Salim) is a god in the Canaanite religion pantheon, mentioned in inscriptions found in Ugarit (Ras Shamra) in Syria. William F. Albright identified Shalim as the god of dusk, and Shahar as god of the dawn.
Both are gods of the planet Venus, and were considered by some to be a twinned avatar of the god Athtar. As the markers of dawn and dusk, Shahar and Shalim also represented the temporal structure of the day. The name is a cognate of the Hebrew word Shachar meaning dawn.
A Ugaritic myth known as The Gracious and Most Beautiful Gods, describes Shalim and his brother Shahar as offspring of El through two women he meets at the seashore. They are both nursed by “The Lady”, likely Anat, and have appetites as large as “(one) lip to the earth and (one) lip to the heaven.” In other Ugaritic texts, the two are associated with the sun goddess.
Another inscription is a sentence repeated three times in a para-mythological text, “Let me invoke the gracious gods, the voracious gods of ym.” Ym in most Semitic languages means “day,” and Shalim and Shahar, twin deities of the dusk and dawn, were conceived of as its beginning and end.
Shalim is also mentioned separately in the Ugaritic god lists and forms of his name also appear in personal names, perhaps as a divine name or epithet. Many scholars believe that the name of Shalim is preserved in the name of the city Jerusalem. The god Shalim may have been associated with dusk and the evening star in the etymological senses of a ‘completion’ of the day, ‘sunset’ and ‘peace’.
In the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, Shalim is also identified as the deity representing Venus or the “Evening Star,” and Shahar, the “Morning Star”. His name derives from the triconsonantal Semitic root S-L-M.
Shin-Lamedh-Mem is the triconsonantal root of many Semitic words, and many of those words are used as names. The root meaning translates to “whole, safe, intact”. Its earliest known form is in the name of Shalim, the ancient God of Dusk of Ugarit. Derived from this are meanings of “to be safe, secure, at peace”, hence “well-being, health” and passively “to be secured, pacified, submitted”.
Shahar is the god of dawn in the pantheon of Ugarit. He is a son of El, along with his counterpart and twin brother Shalim the god of dusk. Isaiah 14:12–15 has been the origin of the belief that Satan was a fallen angel, who could also be referred to as Lucifer.
It refers to the rise and disappearance of the morning star Venus in the phrase “O light-bringer, (Helel ben Shaḥar, translated as Lucifer in the Vulgate and preserved in the early English translations of the Bible) son of the dawn.”
This understanding of Isa. 14:12–15 seems to be the most accepted interpretation in the New Testament, as well as among early Christians such as Origen, Eusebius, Tertullian, and Gregory the Great. It may be considered a Christian “remythologization” of Isa. 14, as the verse originally used Canaanite mythology to build its imagery of the hubris of a historical ruler, “the king of Babylon” in Isa. 14:4.
It’s likely that the role of Venus as the morning star was taken by Athtar, in this instance referred to as the son of Shahar. The reference to Shahar remains enigmatic to scholars, who have a wide range of theories on the mythological framework and sources for the passage in Isaiah.
Attar (Aramaic); Athtar (South Arabia); Astar (Abyssinia); Ashtar (Moab); Athtar (Ugarit) is the masculinized version of Venus, the morning and evening star, in some manifestations of Semitic mythology. The name is derived from that of Ištar an Assyro-Babylonian who inherited the qualities of the (4th-3rd millennium) Sumerian Inanna, the original goddess of the planet Venus.
In Canaanite legend, Attar attempts to usurp the throne of the dead god Baal Hadad but proves inadequate. In semi-arid regions of western Asia he was sometimes worshipped as a rain god. In more southerly regions he is probably known as Dhu-Samani.
Attar was worshipped in Southern Arabia in pre-Islamic times. A god of war, he was often referred to as “He who is Bold in Battle”. One of his symbols was the spear-point and the antelope was his sacred animal. He had power over Venus, the morning star, and was believed to provide humankind with water.
In ancient times, Arabia shared the gods of Mesopotamia, being so close to Babylon, except the genders and symbols of these deities were later swapped around. For instance, the sun god Shamash became the sun goddess Shams, and in southern Arabia Ishtar became the male storm god Athtar.
Athtar was a god of the thunderstorm, dispensing natural irrigation in the form of rain. Athtar also represented fertility and water as essential to fertility. When representing water he stood not just for the act of raining itself, but rather for the useful flow of the water after the rain, in the wadi, the Arabian watercourse which is dry except in the rainy season.
Hadad is the Northwest Semitic storm and rain god. It was attested in Ebla as “Hadda” in c. 2500 BC. From the Levant, Hadad was introduced to Mesopotamia by the Amorites, where it became known as the Akkadian (Assyrian-Babylonian) god Adad.
Hadad was also called “Pidar”, “Rapiu”, “Baal-Zephon”, or often simply Baʿal (Lord), but this title was also used for other gods. The bull was the symbolic animal of Hadad. He appeared bearded, often holding a club and thunderbolt while wearing a bull-horned headdress.
Hadad was equated with the Indo-European Nasite Hittite storm-god Teshub; the Egyptian god Set; the Rigvedic god Indra; the Greek god Zeus; the Roman god Jupiter, as Jupiter Dolichenus.
In religious texts, Ba‘al/Hadad is the lord of the sky who governs the rain and thus the germination of plants with the power of his desire that they be fertile. He is the protector of life and growth to the agricultural people of the region. The absence of Ba‘al causes dry spells, starvation, death, and chaos. Also refers to the mountain of the west wind.
The Biblical reference occurs at a time when Yahweh has provided a strong east wind (cf. Exodus 14:21, 22) to push back the waters of the Red or Erythrian Sea, so that the sons of Israel might cross over.
In the Ugaritic texts El, the supreme god of the pantheon, resides on Mount Lel (perhaps meaning “Night”) and it is there that the assembly of the gods meet. That is perhaps the mythical cosmic mountain.
The Ba‘al cycle is fragmentary and leaves much unexplained that would have been obvious to a contemporary. In the earliest extant sections there appears to be some sort of feud between El and Ba‘al. El makes one of his sons who is called both prince Yamm (“Sea”) and judge Nahar (“River”) king over the gods and changes Yamm’s name from yw (so spelled at that point in the text) to mdd ’il, meaning “Darling of El”. El informs Yamm that in order to secure his power, Yamm will have to drive Ba‘al from his throne.
In this battle Ba‘al is somehow weakened, but the divine craftsman Kothar-wa-Khasis strikes Yamm with two magic clubs, Yamm collapses, and Ba’al finishes the fight. ‘Athtart proclaims Ba‘al’s victory and salutes Ba‘al/Hadad as lrkb ‘rpt (“Rider on the Clouds”), a phrase applied by editors of modern English Bibles to Yahweh in Psalm 68.4. At ‘Athtart’s urging Ba‘al “scatters” Yamm and proclaims that Yamm is dead and heat is assured.
A later passage refers to Ba‘al’s victory over Lotan, the many-headed sea-dragon. Due to gaps in the text it is not known whether Lotan is another name for Yamm or a reference to another similar story. In the Mediterranean area, crops were often threatened by winds, storms, and floods from the sea, indicating why the ancients feared the fury of this cosmic being.
A palace is built for Ba‘al/Hadad with cedars from Mount Lebanon and Sirion and also from silver and from gold. In his new palace Ba‘al hosts a great feast for the other gods. When urged by Kothar-wa-Khasis, Ba’al, somewhat reluctantly, opens a window in his palace and sends forth thunder and lightning. He then invites Mot ‘Death’ (god of drought and underworld), another son of El, to the feast.
But Mot is insulted. The eater of human flesh and blood will not be satisfied with bread and wine. Mot threatens to break Ba‘al into pieces and swallow Ba‘al. Even Ba‘al cannot stand against Death.
Gaps here make interpretation dubious. It seems that by the advice of the goddess Shapsh ‘Sun’, Ba‘al has intercourse with a heifer and dresses the resultant calf in his own clothes as a gift to Mot and then himself prepares to go down to the underworld in the guise of a helpless shade.
News of Ba‘al’s apparent death leads even El to mourn. ‘Anat, Ba‘al’s sister, finds Ba‘al’s corpse, presumably really the dead body of the calf, and she buries the body with a funeral feast.
The god ‘Athtar is appointed to take Ba‘al’s place, but he is a poor substitute. Meanwhile ‘Anat finds Mot, cleaves him with a sword, burns him with fire, and throws his remains on the field for the birds to eat. But the earth is still cracked with drought until Shapsh fetches Ba‘al back.
Seven years later Mot returns and attacks Ba‘al in a battle which ceases only when Shapsh tells Mot that El now supports Ba’al. Thereupon Mot at once surrenders to Ba‘al/Hadad and recognizes Ba‘al as king.
In Sanchuniathon’s account Hadad is once called Adodos, but is mostly named Demarûs. This is a puzzling form, probably from Ugaritic dmrn, which appears in parallelism with Hadad, or possibly a Greek corruption of Hadad Ramān. Sanchuniathon’s Hadad is son of Sky by a concubine who is then given to the god Dagon while she is pregnant by Sky.
This appears to be an attempt to combine two accounts of Hadad’s parentage, one of which is the Ugaritic tradition that Hadad was son of Dagon. The cognate Akkadian god Adad is also often called the son of Anu (“Sky”). The corresponding Hittite god Teshub is likewise son of Anu (after a fashion).
In Sanchuniathon’s account, it is Sky who first fights against Pontus (“Sea”). Then Sky allies himself with Hadad. Hadad takes over the conflict but is defeated, at which point unfortunately no more is said of this matter. Sanchuniathion agrees with Ugaritic tradition in making Muth, the Ugaritic Mot, whom he also calls “Death”, the son of El.
In the second millennium BCE, the king of Yamhad, (modern Aleppo) or Halab, received a statue of Ishtar from the king of Mari, as a sign of deference, to be displayed in the temple of Hadad located in Halab Citadel. The king of Aleppo called himself The beloved of Hadad, The god “Adad” is called on a stele of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser I “the god of Aleppo”.
Hadad son of Bedad, who defeated the Midianites in the country of Moab, was the fourth king of Edom and Hadad was also the seventh of the twelve sons of Ishmael. The name Hadad appears in the name of Hadadezer (“Hadad-is-help”), the Aramean king defeated by David.
Later Aramean kings of Damascus seem to have habitually assumed the title of Benhadad, or son of Hadad, just as a series of Egyptian monarchs are known to have been accustomed to call themselves sons of Ammon.
An example is Benhadad (“Son of Hadad”), the king of Aram whom Asa, king of Judah, employed to invade the northern kingdom, Israel, according to 1 Kings 15:18. In the 9th or 8th century BCE, the name of Ben-Hadad ‘Son of Hadad’, king of Aram, is inscribed on his votive basalt stele dedicated to Melqart, found in Bredsh, a village north of Aleppo (National Museum, Aleppo, accession number KAI 201).
As a byname we find Aramaic rmn, Old South Arabic rmn, Hebrew rmwn, Akkadian Rammānu (“Thunderer”), presumably originally vocalized as Ramān in Aramaic and Hebrew. The Hebrew spelling rmwn with Massoretic vocalization Rimmôn (2 Kings 5:18) is identical with the Hebrew word meaning ‘pomegranate’ and may be an intentional misspelling and parody of the original.
The word Hadad-rimmon, for which the inferior reading Hadar-rimmon is found in some manuscripts in the phrase “the mourning of (or at) Hadad-rimmon” (Zechariah 12:11), has been a subject of much discussion.
According to Jerome and all the older Christian interpreters, the mourning is for something that occurred at a place called Hadad-rimmon (Maximianopolis) in the valley of Megiddo. The event alluded to was generally held to be the death of Josiah (or, as in the Targum, the death of Ahab at the hands of Hadadrimmon).
But even before the discovery of the Ugaritic texts some suspected that Hadad-rimmon might be a Dying-and-rising god like Adonis or Tammuz, perhaps even the same as Tammuz, and the allusion could then be to mournings for Hadad such as those which usually accompanied the Adonis festivals.
K. Cheyne (Encyclopædia Biblica s.v.) pointed out that the Septuagint reads simply Rimmon, and argues that this may be a corruption of Migdon (Megiddo), in itself a corruption of Tammuz-Adon. He would render the verse, “In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of the women who weep for Tammuz-Adon” (Adon means “lord”).
In Greek mythology, Astraeus was an astrological deity and the Titan-god of the dusk. Some also associate him with the winds, as he is the father of the four Anemoi/wind deities. In Hesiod’s Theogony and in the Bibliotheca, Astraeus is a second-generation Titan, descended from Crius and Eurybia. However, Hyginus wrote that he was descended directly from Tartarus and Gaia, and referred to him as one of the Gigantes.
Appropriately, as god of the dusk, Astraeus married Eos, goddess of the dawn. Together as nightfall and daybreak they produced many children who are associated with what occurs in the sky during twilight.
They had many sons, the four Anemoi (“Winds”): Boreas, Notus, Eurus, and Zephyrus, and the five Astra Planeta(“Wandering Stars”, i.e. planets): Phainon (Saturn), Phaethon (Jupiter), Pyroeis (Mars), Eosphoros/Hesperos (Venus), and Stilbon (Mercury). A few sources mention one daughter, Astraea, the goddess of innocence and, sometimes, justice.
In Christian practice, “vigil” observances often occur during twilight on the evening before major feast days or holidays. For example, the Easter Vigil is held in the hours of darkness between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Day — most commonly in the evening of Holy Saturday or midnight — and is the first celebration of Easter, days traditionally being considered to begin at sunset.
Twilight is sacred in Hinduism. It is called gōdhūḷivēḷ in Marathi or godhūlivelā in Hindi, and “godhoolivela” in Telugu, literally “cow dust time”. Many rituals, including Sandhyavandanam and Puja, are performed at twilight hour. Eating of food is not advised during this time.
Sometimes it is referred to as Asurasandhya vela. It is believed that Asuras are active during these hours. One of the avatars of Lord Vishnu, Narasimha, is closely associated with the twilight period.
Twilight is important in Islam as it determines when certain universally obligatory prayers are to be recited. Morning twilight is when morning prayers (Fajr) are done, while evening twilight is the time for evening prayers (Maghrib prayer). There is also an important discussion in Islamic jurisprudence between “true dawn” and “false dawn”.
In Judaism, twilight is considered neither day nor night; consequently it is treated as a safeguard against encroachment upon either. For example, the twilight of Friday is reckoned as Sabbath eve, and that of Saturday as Sabbath day; and the same rule applies to festival days.
Astraea or Astrea (“star-maiden”), in ancient Greek religion, was a daughter of Astraeus and Eos. She was the virgin goddess of Innocence and purity and is always associated with the Greek goddess of justice, Dike (daughter of Zeus and Themis and the personification of just judgement). She is not to be confused with Asteria, the goddess of the stars and the daughter of Coeus and Phoebe.
Astraea, the celestial virgin, was the last of the immortals to live with humans during the Golden Age, one of the old Greek religion’s five deteriorating Ages of Man. According to Ovid, Astraea abandoned the earth during the Iron Age.
Fleeing from the new wickedness of humanity, she ascended to heaven to become the constellation Virgo. The nearby constellation Libra reflected her symbolic association with Dike, who in Latin culture as Justitia is said to preside over the constellation.
According to legend, Astraea will one day come back to Earth, bringing with her the return of the utopian Golden Age of which she was the ambassador.
Anat is a major northwest Semitic goddess. ‘Anat’s titles used again and again are “virgin ‘Anat” and “sister-in-law of the peoples” (or “progenitress of the peoples” or “sister-in-law, widow of the Li’mites”).
In the Ugaritic Ba‘al/Hadad cycle ‘Anat is a violent war-goddess, a virgin (btlt ‘nt) who is the sister and, according to a much disputed theory, the lover of the great god Ba‘al Hadad. Ba‘al is usually called the son of Dagan and sometimes the son of El, who addresses ‘Anat as “daughter”. Either relationship is probably figurative.
In a fragmentary passage from Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), Syria ‘Anat appears as a fierce, wild and furious warrior in a battle, wading knee-deep in blood, striking off heads, cutting off hands, binding the heads to her torso and the hands in her sash, driving out the old men and townsfolk with her arrows, her heart filled with joy. “Her character in this passage anticipates her subsequent warlike role against the enemies of Baal”.
In Akkadian, the form one would expect Anat to take would be Antu, earlier Antum. This would also be the normal feminine form that would be taken by Anu, the Akkadian form of An ‘Sky’, the Sumerian god of heaven.
Antu appears in Akkadian texts mostly as a rather colorless consort of Anu, the mother of Ishtar in the Gilgamesh story, but is also identified with the northwest Semitic goddess ‘Anat of essentially the same name.
It is unknown whether this is an equation of two originally separate goddesses whose names happened to fall together or whether Anat’s cult spread to Mesopotamia, where she came to be worshipped as Anu’s spouse because the Mesopotamian form of her name suggested she was a counterpart to Anu.
It has also been suggested that the parallelism between the names of the Sumerian goddess, Inanna, and her West Semitic counterpart, Ishtar, continued in Canaanite tradition as Anath and Astarte, particularly in the poetry of Ugarit.
The two goddesses were invariably linked in Ugaritic scripture and are also known to have formed a triad (known from sculpture) with a third goddess who was given the name/title of Qadesh (meaning “the holy one”).
The goddess name, ‘Anat is preserved in the city names Beth Anath and Anathoth. Anathoth seems to be a plural form of the name, perhaps a shortening of bêt ‘anātôt ‘House of the ‘Anats’, either a reference to many shrines of the goddess or a plural of intensification.
The ancient hero Shamgar son of ‘Anat is mentioned in Judges 3.31;5:6, which raises the idea that this hero may have been understood as a demi-god, a mortal son of the goddess. But John Day (2000) notes that a number of Canaanites known from non-Biblical sources bore that title and theorizes that it was a military designation indicating a warrior under ‘Anat’s protection. Asenath “holy to Anath” was the wife of the Hebrew patriarch Joseph.
In Elephantine (modern Aswan) in Egypt, the 5th century Elephantine papyri make mention of a goddess called Anat-Yahu (Anat-Yahweh) worshiped in the temple to Yahweh originally built by Jewish refugees from the Babylonian conquest of Judah. These suggest that “even in exile and beyond the worship of a female deity endured.”
The texts were written by a group of Jews living at Elephantine near the Nubian border, whose religion has been described as “nearly identical to Iron Age II Judahite religion”. The papyri describe the Jews as worshiping Anat-Yahu (or AnatYahu). Anat-Yahu is described as either the wife (or paredra, sacred consort) of Yahweh or as a hypostatized aspect of Yahweh.
In a Cyprian inscription (KAI. 42) the Greek goddess Athêna Sôteira Nikê is equated with ‘Anat (who is described in the inscription as the strength of life : l‘uzza hayim).
Anat is also presumably the goddess whom Sanchuniathon calls Athene, a daughter of El, mother unnamed, who with Hermes (that is Thoth) counselled El on the making of a sickle and a spear of iron, presumably to use against his father Uranus. However, in the Baal cycle, that rôle is assigned to Asherah / ‘Elat and ‘Anat is there called the “Virgin.”
The goddess ‘Atah worshipped at Palmyra may possibly be in origin identical with ‘Anat. ‘Atah was combined with ‘Ashtart under the name Atar into the goddess ‘Atar‘atah known to the Hellenes as Atargatis. If this origin for ‘Atah is correct, then Atargatis is effectively a combining of ‘Ashtart and ‘Anat.
It has also been proposed that (Indo-) Iranian Anahita meaning ‘immaculate’ in Avestan (a ‘not’ + ahit ‘unclean’) is a variant of ‘Anat. It is however unlikely given that the Indo-Iranian roots of the term are related to the Semitic ones and although—through conflation—Aredvi Sura Anahita (so the full name) inherited much from Ishtar-Inanna, the two are considered historically distinct. In the Book of Zohar, ‘Anat is numbered among the holiest of angelic powers under the name of Anathiel.
“Anat” is a common female name in contemporary Israel, though many Israelis—including many of the women so named themselves—are not aware of it being the name of an ancient goddess. This name is often used by Russia-originated Israelis as a translation of the Russian name “Anastasia” or “Anna”.
The name had not been used among Jews prior to the advent of Zionism. According to Abraham Vered, researcher of Israeli popular culture, the popularity of the name might also derive from an attempt to emulate the (etymologically unconnected) European name “Annette”.
Anat first appears in Egypt in the 16th dynasty (the Hyksos period) along with other northwest Semitic deities. She was especially worshiped in her aspect of a war goddess, often paired with the goddess `Ashtart. In the Contest Between Horus and Set, these two goddesses appear as daughters of Re and are given in marriage to the god Set, who had been identified with the Semitic god Hadad.
During the Hyksos period Anat had temples in the Hyksos capital of Avaris and in Beth-Shan (Israel) as well as being worshipped in Memphis. On inscriptions from Memphis of 15th to 12th centuries BCE, Anat is called “Bin-Ptah”, Daughter of Ptah. She is associated with Reshpu, (Canaanite: Resheph) in some texts and sometimes identified with the native Egyptian goddess Neith. She is sometimes called “Queen of Heaven”. Her iconography varies. She is usually shown carrying one or more weapons.