The story of Mary
Posted by Fredsvenn on July 26, 2016
Mary has been widely used due to its associations with the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, and with Saint Mary Magdalene, who was called an apostle to the Apostles.
Mary Magdalene, or Mary of Magdala and sometimes the Magdalene, is a figure in Christianity who, according to the Bible, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers. She is said to have witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Within the four Gospels she is named at least 12 times, more than most of the apostles.
In apocryphal texts, she is portrayed as a visionary and leader of the early movement whom Jesus loved more than he loved the other disciples. The Gnostic Gospel of Philip names Mary Magdalene as Jesus’ companion.
Several Gnostic gospels, such as the Gospel of Mary, written in the early 2nd century, see Mary as the special disciple of Jesus who has a deeper understanding of his teachings and is asked to impart this to the other disciples.
Queen of Heaven is a title given to the Virgin Mary by Christians mainly of the Roman Catholic Church, and also, to some extent, in Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglicanism. The title is a consequence of the First Council of Ephesus in the fifth century, in which the Virgin Mary was proclaimed “theotokos”, a title rendered in Latin as Mater Dei, in English “Mother of God”.
The Catholic teaching on this subject is expressed in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, issued by Pope Pius XII. It states that Mary is called Queen of Heaven because her son, Jesus Christ, is the king of Israel and heavenly king of the universe; indeed, the Davidic tradition of Israel recognized the mother of the king as the Queen Mother of Israel. The Eastern Orthodox Churches do not share the Catholic dogma, but themselves have a rich liturgical history in honor of Mary.
The title Queen of Heaven has long been a Catholic tradition, included in prayers and devotional literature, and seen in Western art in the subject of the Coronation of the Virgin, from the High Middle Ages, long before it was given a formal definition status by the Church.
Queen of Heaven was a title given to a number of ancient sky goddesses in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, in particular Anat, Isis, Innana, Astarte, Hera and possibly Asherah (by the prophet Jeremiah). Elsewhere, Nordic Frigg also bore this title. In Greco-Roman times Hera, and her Roman aspect Juno bore this title. Forms and content of worship varied.
In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag was a mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. She is principally a fertility goddess. 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 symbol, resembling the Greek letter omega Ω, has been depicted in art from around 3000 BC, though more generally from the early second millennium 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.
The first secure references to Isis date back to the 5th dynasty, when her name appears in the sun temple of king Niuserre and on the statue of a priest named Pepi-Ankh, who worshipped at the very beginning of 6th dynasty and bore the title “high priest of Isis and Hathor”.
Ninti, the title of Ninhursag, also means “the mother of all living”, and was a title given to the later Hurrian goddess Kheba. This is also the title given in the Bible to Eve, the Hebrew and Aramaic Ḥawwah (חוה), who was made from the rib of Adam, in a strange reflection of the Sumerian myth, in which Adam — not Enki — walks in the Garden of Paradise.
In Mesopotamian Religion (Sumerian, Assyrian, Akkadian and Babylonian), Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation, depicted as a woman, she represents the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.
It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a “Sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. This mingling of waters was known in Sumerian as Nammu, and was identified as the mother of Enki. In the second “Chaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.
It is thought that female deities are older than male ones in Mesopotamia and Tiamat may have begun as part of the cult of Nammu, a female principle of a watery creative force, with equally strong connections to the underworld, which predates the appearance of Ea-Enki. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.
The Babylonian epic Enuma Elish is named for its incipit: “When above” the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, “the first, the begetter”, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, “she who bore them all”; they were “mixing their waters”. Tiamat also has been claimed to be cognate with Northwest Semitic tehom (תהום) (the deeps, abyss), in the Book of Genesis 1:2.
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).
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, a minor god, the messenger of the god Enki readily identifiable by his possessing two faces looking in opposite directions. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.
Mut, which meant mother in the ancient Egyptian language, was an ancient Egyptian mother goddess with multiple aspects that changed over the thousands of years of the culture. Some of Mut’s many titles included World-Mother, Eye of Ra, Queen of the Goddesses, Lady of Heaven, Mother of the Gods, and She Who Gives Birth, But Was Herself Not Born of Any. Alternative spellings are Maut and Mout.
She was considered a primal deity, associated with the waters from which everything was born through parthenogenesis. Mut was a title of the primordial waters of the cosmos, Naunet, in the Ogdoad cosmogony during what is called the Old Kingdom, the third through sixth dynasties, dated between 2,686 to 2,134 BCE.
However, the distinction between motherhood and cosmic water later diversified and lead to the separation of these identities, and Mut gained aspects of a creator goddess, since she was the mother from which the cosmos emerged.
Much later new myths held that since Mut had no parents, but was created from nothing; consequently, she could not have children and so adopted one instead.
The authority of Thebes waned later and Amun was assimilated into Ra. Mut, the doting mother, was assimilated into Hathor, the cow-goddess and mother of Horus who had become identified as Ra’s wife.
Subsequently, when Ra assimilated Atum, the Ennead was absorbed as well, and so Mut-Hathor became identified as Isis (either as Isis-Hathor or Mut-Isis-Nekhbet), the most important of the females in the Ennead (the nine), and the patron of the queen.
The Ennead proved to be a much more successful identity and the compound triad of Mut, Hathor, and Isis, became known as Isis alone—a cult that endured into the 7th century A.D. and spread to Greece, Rome, and Britain.
Magdalene is a fem. proper name, from Latin (Maria) Magdalena, from Greek Magdalene, literally “woman of Magdala,” from Aramaic Maghdela, place on the Sea of Galilee, literally “tower.” The vernacular form of the name, via French, has come to English as maudlin (“tearful”), from Middle English fem. proper name Maudelen (early 14c.), from Magdalene (Old French Madelaine), woman’s name, originally surname of Mary.
Various plants in Scandinavia once bore the name of Freyja (Old Norse for “(the) Lady”), but it was replaced with the name of the Virgin Mary during the process of Christianization. Rural Scandinavians continued to acknowledge Freyja as a supernatural figure into the 19th century, and Freyja has inspired various works of art.
Scholars have theorized about whether Freyja and the goddess Frigg ultimately stem from a single goddess common among the Germanic peoples.
The word for Friday in most Romance languages is derived from Latin dies Veneris or “day of Venus”. 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-dagr instead, 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.
Freyja is a goddess associated with love, sex, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death. Along with her brother Freyr (Old Norse the “Lord”), her father Njörðr, and her mother (Njörðr’s sister, unnamed in sources), she is a member of the Vanir.
Numerous theories have been proposed for the etymology of Vanir. Scholar R. I. Page says that, while there are no shortages of etymologies for the word, it is tempting to link the word with “Old Norse vinr, ‘friend’, and Latin Venus, ‘goddess of physical love.'”
Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is built over a cave that was originally a shrine to Adonis-Tammuz. The church was originally commissioned in 327 by Constantine the Great and his mother Helena over the site that is still traditionally considered to be located over the cave that marks the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth.
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.
Inanna, who was associated with the planet Venus, was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.
Pisces (♓) (Ancient Greek: Ἰχθύες Ikhthyes), also known as “Venus et Cupido,” “Venus Syria cum Cupidine,” Venus cum Adone,” “Dione,” and “Veneris Mater,” the latter being the formal Latin term for mother, is the twelfth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the Pisces constellation.
The Pisces spans the 330° to 360° of the zodiac, between 332.75° and 360° of celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac the sun transits this area on average between February 19 and March 20, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits this area between approximately March 13 and April 13. The symbol of the fish is derived from the ichthyocentaurs, who aided Aphrodite when she was born from the sea.
Purim, a Jewish holiday, falls at the full moon preceding the Passover, which was set by the full moon in Aries, which follows Pisces. The story of the birth of Christ is said to be a result of the spring equinox entering into the Pisces, as the “Savior of the World” appeared as the Fisher of Men. This parallels the entering into the Age of Pisces.
Aries (♈) (meaning “ram”) is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°). Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign mostly between March 21 and April 19 each year. Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from April 15 to May 14. 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.
The March equinox or Northward equinox is the equinox on the Earth when the Sun appears to leave the southern hemisphere and cross the celestial equator, heading northward as seen from earth. In the Northern Hemisphere the March equinox is known as the vernal equinox, and in the Southern Hemisphere as the autumnal equinox. On the Gregorian calendar the Northward equinox can occur as early as March 19 or as late as March 21.
The Jewish Passover usually falls on the first full moon after the northern hemisphere vernal equinox, although occasionally (currently three times every 19 years) it will occur on the second full moon. The Christian Churches calculate Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the March equinox. The official church definition for the equinox is March 21.
The vernal equinox is currently located in Pisces, due south of ω Psc, and, due to precession, slowly drifting below the western fish towards Aquarius. While the astrological sign Pisces per definition runs from ecliptical longitude 330° to 0, this position is now mostly covered by the constellation of Aquarius, due to the precession from when the constellation and the sign coincided.
Pisces is associated with Aphrodite and Eros, who escaped from the monster Typhon by leaping into the sea and transforming themselves into fish. In order not to lose each other, they tied themselves together with rope. The Romans adopted the Greek legend, with Venus and Cupid acting as the counterparts for Aphrodite and Eros.
The point where the sun crosses the celestial equator northwards is called the First Point of Aries. However, due to the precession of the equinoxes, this point is no longer in the constellation Aries, but rather in Pisces. By the year 2600 it will be in Aquarius.
Based on the modern constellation boundaries, the northward equinox passed from Taurus into Aries in the year −1865 (1866 BC), passed into Pisces in the year −67 (68 BC), will pass into Aquarius in the year 2597, and will pass into Capricornus in the year 4312.
The Babylonian calendar began with the first full moon after the vernal equinox, the day after the Sumerian goddess Inanna’s return from the underworld (later known as Ishtar), in the Akitu ceremony, with parades through the Ishtar Gate to the Eanna temple, and the ritual re-enactment of the marriage to Tammuz, or Sumerian Dummuzi.
The ecliptic and the celestial equator intersect within this constellation and in Virgo, another of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for virgin, and its symbol is ♍. Lying between Leo to the west and Libra to the east, it is the second largest constellation in the sky (after Hydra). It can be easily found through its brightest star, Spica. In the Middle Ages, Virgo was sometimes associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Due to the effects of precession, the First Point of Libra, (also known as the autumn equinox point) lies within the boundaries of Virgo very close to β Virginis. This is one of the two points in the sky where the celestial equator crosses the ecliptic (the other being the First Point of Aries, now in the constellation of Pisces.)
In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East. 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.
The Levantine (“lord”) Adonis, who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.
There has been much scholarship over the centuries concerning the multiple roles of Adonis, if any, and his meaning and purpose in Greek religious beliefs. Modern scholarship sometimes describes him as an annually renewed, ever-youthful vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity whose nature is tied to the calendar. His name is often applied in modern times to handsome youths, of whom he is the archetype.
The Greek Adōnis was a borrowing from the Canaanite word ʼadōn, meaning “lord”, which is related to Adonai (Hebrew: אֲדֹנָי), one of the names used to refer to the God of the Hebrew Bible and still used in Judaism to the present day. Syrian Adonis is Gauas or Aos, akin to Egyptian Osiris, the Semitic Tammuz and Baal Hadad, the Etruscan Atunis and the Phrygian Attis, all of whom are deities of rebirth and vegetation.
Adonis is the Hellenized form of the Phoenician word “adoni”, meaning “my lord”. It is believed that the cult of Adonis was known to the Greeks from around the sixth century BC, but it is unquestionable that they came to know it through contact with Cyprus. Around this time, the cult of Adonis is noted in the Book of Ezekiel in Jerusalem, though under the Babylonian name Tammuz.
Adonis originally was a Phoenician god of fertility representing the spirit of vegetation. It is further speculated that he was an avatar of the version of Ba’al, worshipped in Ugarit. It is likely that lack of clarity concerning whether Myrrha was called Smyrna, and who her father was, originated in Cyprus before the Greeks first encountered the myth. However, it is clear that the Greeks added much to the Adonis-Myrrha story, before it was first recorded by classical scholars.
Baldr (“lord, prince, king”) is a god in Norse mythology, who is given a central role in the mythology. 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.
The etymology of the name of the goddess Nanna is debated. Scholar John McKinnell notes that the “mother” and *nanþ- derivations may not be distinct, commenting that nanna may have once meant “she who empowers”.
Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March or May. In some countries, the date adopted is one significant to the majority religion, such as Virgin Mary Day in Catholic countries.