The three spheres
Posted by Fredsvenn on August 11, 2016
An (Mars – March – Aries – Mars – the king – Tyr/Freyr/Balder – Jesus) – Ki/Inanna
Anu (in Akkadian; Sumerian: An, from An “sky, heaven”) is the earliest attested Sky Father deity. In Sumerian religion, he was also “King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven”, where Anu himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions.
An was believed to have the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and to have created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the Royal Tiara. His attendant and vizier was the god Ilabrat.
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). 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.
An/Anu frequently receives the epithet “father of the gods,” and many deities are described as his children in one context or another. 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.
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”.
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.
Enlil (Saturn/Neptune – February – Aquarius – Saturn/Neptune – North – Njord – Holy Spirit) – Ninlil
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.
Enlil is associated with the ancient city of Nippur, sometimes referred to as the cult city of Enlil. 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.
At a very early period prior to 3000 BC, Nippur had become the centre of a political district of considerable extent. Enlil was the head of an extensive pantheon. Among the titles accorded to him are “king of lands”, “king of heaven and earth”, and “father of the gods”.
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.
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.
In mythology, the Ekur was the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united. It is also known as Duranki and one of its structures is known as the Kiur (“great place”). Enamtila is a Sumerian term meaning “house of life” or possibly “house of creation”. It was a sanctuary dedicated to Enlil, likely to have been located within the Ekur at Nippur.
Enki (Janus/Mercury – January – Capricorn – Mercury – South – Odin – God) – Ninhursag
Enki (Sumerian: dEN.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 and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians.
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.”
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.
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 identifiable by his possessing two faces looking in opposite directions. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.
Enki was considered a god of life and replenishment, and was often depicted with two streams of water flowing into his shoulders, one the Tigris, the other the Euphrates. Alongside him were trees symbolising the female and male aspects of nature, each holding the female and male aspects of the ‘Life Essence’, which he, as apparent alchemist of the gods, would masterfully mix to create several beings that would live upon the face of the earth.
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”.
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.
The pool of the Abzu at the front of his temple was adopted also at the temple to Nanna (Akkadian Sin) the Moon, at Ur, and spread from there throughout the Middle East. It is believed to remain today as the sacred pool at Mosques, or as the holy water font in Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches.
It is, however, as the third figure in the triad (the two other members of which were Anu and Enlil) that Ea acquires his permanent place in the pantheon. To him was assigned the control of the watery element, and in this capacity he becomes the shar apsi; i.e. king of the Apsu or “the deep”.
The Apsu was figured as the abyss of water beneath the earth, and since the gathering place of the dead, known as Aralu, was situated near the confines of the Apsu, he was also designated as En-Ki; i.e. “lord of that which is below”, in contrast to Anu, who was the lord of the “above” or the heavens.
Jean Bottero (1952) and others suggested that Ia in this case is a West Semitic (Canaanite) way of saying Ea, Enki’s Akkadian name, associating the Canaanite theonym Yahu, and ultimately Hebrew YHWH.
An – Enlil – Enki
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.
In the astral theology of Babylonia and Assyria, Anu, Enlil, and Ea became the three zones of the ecliptic, the northern, middle and southern zone respectively.
The north and south celestial poles are the two imaginary points in the sky where the Earth’s axis of rotation, indefinitely extended, intersects the celestial sphere.
The north and south celestial poles appear permanently directly overhead to an observer at the Earth’s North Pole and South Pole respectively. As the Earth spins on its axis, the two celestial poles remain fixed in the sky, and all other points appear to rotate around them, completing one circuit per day (strictly per sidereal day).
The celestial poles are also the poles of the celestial equatorial coordinate system, meaning they have declinations of +90 degrees and −90 degrees (for the north and south celestial poles, respectively).
The celestial poles do not remain permanently fixed against the background of the stars. Because of a phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes, the poles trace out circles on the celestial sphere, with a period of about 25,700 years.
The Earth’s axis is also subject to other complex motions which cause the celestial poles to shift slightly over cycles of varying lengths. Finally, over very long periods the positions of the stars themselves change, because of the stars’ proper motions.
An analogous concept applies to other planets: a planet’s celestial poles are the points in the sky where the projection of the planet’s axis of rotation intersects the celestial sphere. These points vary because different planets’ axes are oriented differently (the apparent positions of the stars also change slightly because of parallax effects).
The ecliptic is the apparent path of the Sun on the celestial sphere, and is the basis for the ecliptic coordinate system. It also refers to the plane of this path, which is coplanar with the orbit of Earth around the Sun (and hence the apparent orbit of the Sun around Earth).
The path of the Sun is not normally noticeable from Earth’s surface because Earth rotates, carrying the observer through the cycles of sunrise and sunset, obscuring the apparent motion of the Sun with respect to the stars.
The ecliptic pole
The ecliptic pole is the point on the celestial sphere where the sphere meets the imaginary line perpendicular to the ecliptic plane, the path the Earth travels on its orbit around the Sun.
A pole star is a visible star, preferably a prominent one, that is approximately aligned with the Earth’s axis of rotation; that is, a star whose apparent position is close to one of the celestial poles, and which lies approximately directly overhead when viewed from the Earth’s North Pole or South Pole. A similar concept also applies to planets other than the Earth.
In practice, the term pole star usually refers to Polaris, which is the current northern pole star, also known as the North Star. The North Star has historically been used for navigation since Late Antiquity, both to find the direction of north and to determine latitude.
The south celestial pole lacks a bright star like Polaris to mark its position. Currently, there is no South Star as useful as Polaris. At present, the naked-eye star nearest to this imaginary point is the faint Sigma Octantis, which is sometimes known as the South Star.
The Southern Cross has great significance in the cultures of the southern hemisphere, particularly of Australia and New Zealand, whose pioneers were colloquially referred to as sons and daughters of the Southern Cross.
While other stars’ apparent positions in the sky change throughout the night, as they appear to rotate around the celestial poles, pole stars’ apparent positions remain virtually fixed. This makes them especially useful in celestial navigation: they are a dependable indicator of the direction toward the respective geographic pole although not exact; they are virtually fixed, and their angle of elevation can also be used to determine latitude.
The identity of the pole stars gradually changes over time because the celestial poles exhibit a slow continuous drift through the star field. The primary reason for this is the precession of the Earth’s rotational axis, which causes its orientation to change over time.
If the stars were fixed in space, precession would cause the celestial poles to trace out imaginary circles on the celestial sphere approximately once every 26,000 years, passing close to different stars at different times. In fact, the stars themselves also exhibit proper motion, which causes a very small additional apparent drift of pole stars.
The north celestial pole currently is within a degree of the bright star Polaris (named from the Latin stella polaris, meaning “pole star”). A common method of locating Polaris in the sky is to follow along the line of the so-called “pointer” stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper asterism, specifically, the two stars farthest from its “handle”. The arc between the pointer stars and Polaris is nearly five times greater than the arc between the pointer stars.
To find Polaris, face north and locate the Big Dipper (Plough) and Little Dipper asterisms. Looking at the “cup” part of the Big Dipper, imagine that the two stars at the outside edge of the cup form a line pointing upward out of the cup. This line points directly at the star at the tip of the Little Dipper’s handle. That star is Polaris, the North Star.
Due to the precession of the equinoxes (as well as the stars’ proper motions), the role of North Star passes from one star to another. In 3000 BCE, the faint star Thuban in the constellation Draco was the North Star. Draco (“dragon”) is a constellation in the far northern sky. The north pole of the ecliptic is in Draco. Draco is circumpolar (that is, never setting), and can be seen all year from northern latitudes.
In Greco-Roman legend, Draco was a dragon killed by the goddess Minerva and tossed into the sky upon his defeat. The dragon was one of the Gigantes, who battled the Olympic gods for ten years. As Minerva threw the dragon, it became twisted on itself and froze at the cold North Celestial Pole before it could right itself.
Thuban (α Draconis) was the northern pole star from 3942 BC, when it moved farther north than Theta Boötis, until 1793 BC. The Egyptian Pyramids were designed to have one side facing north, with an entrance passage geometrically aligned so that Thuban would be visible at night. Due to the effects of precession, it will again be the pole star around the year AD 21000.
Ursa Minor (Latin: “Smaller She-Bear”, contrasting with Ursa Major), also known as the Little Bear, is a constellation in the Northern Sky. Polaris is the brightest star in the constellation.
Like the Great Bear, the tail of the Little Bear may also be seen as the handle of a ladle, hence the North American name, Little Dipper: seven stars with four in its bowl like its partner the Big Dipper. Ursa Minor has traditionally been important for navigation, particularly by mariners, because of Polaris being the North Star.
Because Ursa Minor consists of seven stars, the Latin word for “North” (i.e., where Polaris points) is septentrio, from septem (seven) and triones (oxen), from seven oxen driving a plough, which the seven stars also resemble. This name has also been attached to the main stars of Ursa Major.
Ursa Minor has traditionally been important for navigation, particularly by mariners, because of Polaris being the North Star. Polaris is currently less than one degree away from the north celestial pole (hence the alternative name Pole Star) so its position in the sky is largely unaffected by the rotation of the Earth. From any point in the Northern Hemisphere the direction to Polaris is always north and its angular altitude is roughly equal to the latitude.
In the Babylonian star catalogues, Ursa Minor was known as MAR.GID.DA.AN.NA, the Wagon of Heaven, Damkianna. It appeared on a pair of tablets containing canonical star lists that were compiled around 1000 BC, the MUL.APIN, and was one of the “Stars of Enlil”—that is, the northern sky. The possible origin of its name was its appearing to rotate like a wheel around the north celestial pole.
The Big Dipper (US) or Plough (UK) is an asterism consisting of the seven brightest stars of the constellation Ursa Major; six of them are of second magnitude and one, Megrez (δ), of third magnitude. Four define a “bowl” or “body” and three define a “handle” or “head”. It is recognized as a distinct grouping in many cultures.
In both Ireland and the United Kingdom, this pattern is known as the Plough. The symbol of the Starry Plough has been used as a political symbol by Irish Republican and left wing movements. Another former name was the Great Wain (i.e., wagon).
In northern England, it is occasionally still known as the Butcher’s Cleaver, and in the northeast, as Charlie’s Wagon. This derives from the earlier Charles’s Wain and Charles his Wain, which derived from the still older Carlswæn.
A folk etymology holds that this derived from Charlemagne, but the name is common to all the Germanic languages and intended the churls’ wagon (i.e., “the men’s wagon”), in contrast with the women’s wagon (the Little Dipper). An older “Odin’s Wain” may have preceded these Nordic designations.
In Hindu astronomy, it is referred to as the “Collection of Seven Great Sages” (Saptarshi Mandal), as each star is named after a mythical Hindu sage. The Apkallu (Akkadian), or Abgal (Sumerian), are seven Mesopotamian sages, demigods who are said to have been created by the god Enki (Akkadian: Ea) to establish culture and give civilization to mankind.
The Apkallu were noted for having been saved during the flood. They served as priests of Enki and as advisors or sages to the earliest kings of Sumer before the flood. They are credited with giving mankind the Me (moral code), the crafts, and the arts. They were seen as fish-like men who emerged from the sweet water Abzu. They are commonly represented as having the lower torso of a fish, or dressed as a fish.
Crux – The Southern Cross
In the Southern Hemisphere a cross-shaped or kite-like asterism that is commonly known as the Southern Cross constellation, which is the most prominent feature of Crux, functions as an approximate southern pole constellation, by pointing to where a southern pole star would be.
Alpha and Gamma (known as Acrux and Gacrux respectively) are commonly used to mark south. Tracing a line from Gacrux to Acrux leads to a point close to the Southern Celestial Pole. Alternatively, if a line is constructed perpendicularly between Alpha Centauri and Beta Centauri, the point where the above-mentioned line and this line intersect marks the Southern Celestial Pole.
Another way to find south, strike line through Gacrux and Acrux, 4 1/2 times the distance between Gacrux and Acrux, directly below that point is south. The two stars of Alpha and Beta Centauri are often referred to as the “Southern Pointers” or just “The Pointers”, allowing people to easily find the asterism of the Southern Cross or the constellation of Crux.
Very few bright stars of importance lie between Crux and the pole itself, although the constellation Musca is fairly easily recognised immediately beneath Crux.
Crux was entirely visible as far north as Britain in the fourth millennium BC. However, the precession of the equinoxes gradually lowered its stars below the European horizon, and they were eventually forgotten by the inhabitants of northern latitudes.
By AD 400, most of the constellation never rose above the horizon for Athenians. It was, however, known to the Ancient Greeks due to the fact that it can be seen from southern Egypt; Ptolemy regarded it as part of the constellation Centaurus.
Sigma Octantis is the closest naked-eye star to the south Celestial pole, but at apparent magnitude 5.45 it is barely visible on a clear night, making it unusable for navigational purposes.
It is frequently used for navigation in much the same way that the Polaris is used in the Northern Hemisphere. At the equator, it is possible to see both Polaris and the Southern Cross.
A circumpolar star is a star that, as viewed from a given latitude on Earth, never sets (that is, never disappears below the horizon), due to its proximity to one of the celestial poles. Circumpolar stars are therefore visible from said location toward nearest pole for the entire night on every night of the year (and would be continuously visible throughout the day too, were they not overwhelmed by the Sun’s glare).
All circumpolar stars are within the circumpolar circle. This was in fact the original meaning of “Arctic Circle”, before the current geographical meaning, meaning “Circle of the Bears” (Ursa Major, the Great Bear; and Ursa Minor, the Little Bear), from Greek arktikos (“near the Bear”), from the word arktos (“bear”).