The story of Lilith (Ninlil/Ereshkigal/Uttu) – the maiden
Posted by Fredsvenn on August 16, 2016
Lilith is a Middle Eastern goddess of abundance, fertility, and fecundity,the giver of agriculture to humans. The first woman created and the first wife of Adam, she refused to be subordinate to Adam in any way.
Lilith is associated with the owl, a figure of darkness and deep wisdom, for she is also a goddess of death and transformation. She is sometimes represented as a demonic figure, for her dark wisdom and her sexual energy can be very threatening. She is known to appear as a frightening figure in dreams.
Lilith is associated with the lotus, and the symbolism of that flower tells us much about her. The lotus, an exquisite flower that grows out of dark, rank, decaying earth, represents spiritual unfolding and the blossoming of the heart of wisdom. Like the lotus, Lilith challenges us to look upon our dark side and incorporate it into our wholeness so that our great beauty can blossom forth.
In Mesopotamian mythology, Lamashtu (Akkadian dLa-,maš-tu; Sumerian Dimme dDim-me) was a female demon, monster, malevolent goddess or demigoddess who menaced women during childbirth and, if possible, kidnapped their children while they were breastfeeding. She would gnaw on their bones and suck their blood, as well as being charged with a number of other evil deeds.
She was a daughter of the Sky God Anu. She is depicted as a mythological hybrid, with a hairy body, a lioness’ head with donkey’s teeth and ears, long fingers and fingernails, and the feet of a bird with sharp talons. She is often shown standing or kneeling on a donkey, nursing a pig and a dog, and holding snakes. She thus bears some functions and resemblance to the Mesopotamian demon Lilith.
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 (EME.SAL, literally “women’s tongue”) pronunciation was dimer.
The standard variety of Sumerian is called eme-ĝir. A notable variety or sociolect is called eme-sal. Eme-sal is used exclusively by female characters in some literary texts. In addition, it is dominant in certain genres of cult songs. The special features of eme-sal are mostly phonological (e.g. m is often used instead of ĝ as in me vs standard ĝe, “I”), but words different from the standard language are also used (e.g. ga-ša-an vs standard nin, “lady”).
The edimmu, read incorrectly sometimes as ekimmu, were a type of utukku in Sumerian religion, similar in nature to the preta of the Hindu religions or the jiangshi of Chinese mythology. The edimmu were thought to be completely or nearly incorporeal, “wind” spirits that sucked the life out of the susceptible and the sleeping (most commonly the young).
They were envisioned as the ghosts of those who were not buried properly. They were considered vengeful toward the living and might possess people if they did not respect certain taboos, such as the prohibition against eating ox meat. They were thought to cause disease and inspire criminal behavior in the living, but could sometimes be appeased by funeral repasts or libations.
A demon (from Koine Greek daimonion) or daemon is a supernatural, often malevolent being prevalent in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology and folklore. The original Greek word daimon does not carry the negative connotation initially understood by implementation of the Koine daimonion, and later ascribed to any cognate words sharing the root.
In Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an unclean spirit, a fallen angel, or a spirit of unknown type which may cause demonic possession, calling for an exorcism. In Western occultism and Renaissance magic, which grew out of an amalgamation of Greco-Roman magic, Jewish Aggadah and Christian demonology, a demon is believed to be a spiritual entity that may be conjured and controlled.
According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, “In Chaldean mythology the seven evil deities were known as shedu, storm-demons, represented in ox-like form.” They were represented as winged bulls, derived from the colossal bulls used as protective jinn of royal palaces.
From Chaldea, the term shedu traveled to the Israelites. The writers of the Tanach applied the word as a dialogism to Canaanite deities. Aggadic tales from the Persian tradition describe the shedim, the mazziḳim (“harmers”), and the ruḥin (“spirits”). There were also lilin (“night spirits”), ṭelane (“shade”, or “evening spirits”), ṭiharire (“midday spirits”), and ẓafrire (“morning spirits”), as well as the “demons that bring famine” and “such as cause storm and earthquake”.
A lamassu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL; Sumerian: dlammař; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called alamassus) is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human’s head, a body of an ox or a lion, and bird’s wings. In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity. A less frequently used name is shedu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL×BAD; Sumerian: dalad; Akkadian, šēdu) which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu. The Lammasu or Lumasi represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations.
The lamassu is a celestial being from ancient Mesopotamian religion bearing a human head, bull’s body, sometimes with the horns and the ears of a bull, and wings. It appears frequently in Mesopotamian art. The lamassu and shedu were household protective spirits of the common Babylonian people, becoming associated later as royal protectors, were placed as sentinels at the entrances. The Akkadians associated the god Papsukkal with lamassu and the god Išum with shedu.
Daeva is an Avestan language term for a particular sort of supernatural entity with disagreeable characteristics. In the Gathas, the oldest texts of the Zoroastrian canon, the daevas are “wrong gods” or “false gods” or “gods that are (to be) rejected”.
This meaning is – subject to interpretation – perhaps also evident in the Old Persian “daiva inscription” of the 5th century BCE. In the Younger Avesta, the daevas are noxious creatures that promote chaos and disorder. In later tradition and folklore, the dēws (Zoroastrian Middle Persian; New Persian divs) are personifications of every imaginable evil.
Old Avestan daēuua or daēva derives from Old Iranian *daiva, which in turn derives from Indo-Iranian *daivá- “god,” reflecting Proto-Indo-European *deiu̯ó with the same meaning. For derivatives in a European context, see Tyr. The Vedic Sanskrit cognate of Avestan daēuua is devá-, continuing in later Indo-Aryan languages as dev.
Deva means “heavenly, divine, anything of excellence”, and is also one of the terms for a deity in Hinduism. Deva is masculine, and the related feminine equivalent is devi. In the earliest Vedic literature, all supernatural beings are called Asuras.
The concepts and legends evolve in ancient Indian literature, and by the late Vedic period, benevolent supernatural beings are referred to as Deva-Asuras. In post-Vedic texts, such as the Puranas and the Itihasas of Hinduism, the Devas represent the good, and the Asuras the bad. In some medieval Indian literature, Devas are also referred to as Suras and contrasted with their equally powerful, but malevolent half-brothers referred to as the Asuras.
Devas along with Asuras, Yaksha (nature spirits) and Rakshasas (ghosts, ogres) are part of Indian mythology, and Devas feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism.
Deva is a Sanskrit word found in Vedic literature of 2nd millennium BCE. Monier Williams translates it as “heavenly, divine, terrestrial things of high excellence, exalted, shining ones”. The concept also is used to refer to deity or god.
The Sanskrit deva- derives from Indo-Iranian *dev- which in turn descends from the Proto-Indo-European word, *deiwos, originally an adjective meaning “celestial” or “shining”, which is a (not synchronic Sanskrit) vrddhi derivative from the root *diw meaning “to shine”, especially as the day-lit sky. The feminine form of *deiwos is *deiwih, which descends into Indic languages as devi, in that context meaning “female deity”.
Also deriving from *deiwos, and thus cognates of deva, are Lithuanian Dievas (Latvian Dievs, Prussian Deiwas), Germanic Tiwaz (seen in English “Tuesday”) and the related Old Norse Tivar (gods), and Latin deus “god” and divus “divine”, from which the English words “divine”, “deity”, French “dieu”, Portuguese “deus”, Spanish “dios” and Italian “dio”, also “Zeys” – “Dias”, the Greek father of the gods, are derived.
It is related to *Dyeus which while from the same root, may originally have referred to the “heavenly shining father”, and hence to “Father Sky”, the chief God of the Indo-European pantheon, continued in Sanskrit Dyaus. The bode of the Devas is Dyuloka.
According to Douglas Harper, the etymological roots of Deva mean “a shining one,” from *div- “to shine,” and it is a cognate with Greek dios “divine” and Zeus, and Latin deus “god” (Old Latin deivos).
Deva is masculine, and the related feminine equivalent is devi. Etymologically, the cognates of Devi are Latin dea and Greek thea. When capitalized, Devi or Mata refers to goddess as divine mother in Hinduism. Deva is also referred to as Devatā, while Devi as Devika.
The word Deva is also a proper name or part of name in Indian culture, where it refers to “one who wishes to excel, overcome” or the “seeker of, master of or a best among-“.
Equivalents for Avestan daeva in Iranian languages include Pashto, Balochi, Kurdish dêw, Persian dīv/ deev, all of which apply to demons, monsters, and other villainous creatures. The Iranian word was borrowed into Old Armenian as dew, Georgian as devi, with the same negative associations in those languages. In English, the word appears as daeva, div, deev, and in the 18th century fantasy novels of William Thomas Beckford as dive.
In religious terms, divinity or godhead is the state of things that come from a supernatural power or deity, such as a god, supreme being, creator deity, or spirits, and are therefore regarded as sacred and holy.
Such things are regarded as “divine” due to their transcendental origins or because their attributes or qualities are superior or supreme relative to things of the Earth. Divine things are regarded as eternal and based in truth, while material things are regarded as ephemeral and based in illusion.
Such things that may qualify as “divine” are apparitions, visions, prophecies, miracles, and in some views also the soul, or more general things like resurrection, immortality, grace, and salvation. Otherwise what is or is not divine may be loosely defined, as it is used by different belief systems.
The root of the word “divine” is literally “godly” (from the Latin deus, cf. Dyaus, closely related to Greek zeus, div in Persian and deva in Sanskrit), but the use varies significantly depending on which deity is being discussed. This article outlines the major distinctions in the conventional use of the terms.
Divinity as a quality has two distinct usages: Divine force or power – powers or forces that are universal, or transcend human capacities, and divinity applied to mortals – qualities of individuals who are considered to have some special access or relationship to the divine.
Overlap occurs between these usages because deities or godly entities are often identical with or identified by the powers and forces that are credited to them — in many cases a deity is merely a power or force personified — and these powers and forces may then be extended or granted to mortal individuals.
For instance, Jehovah is closely associated with storms and thunder throughout much of the Old Testament. He is said to speak in thunder, and thunder is seen as a token of his anger. This power was then extended to prophets like Moses and Samuel, who caused thunderous storms to rain down on their enemies (Exodus 9:23 and 1 Samuel 12:18.)
Divinity always carries connotations of goodness, beauty, beneficence, justice, and other positive, pro-social attributes. In monotheistic faiths there is an equivalent cohort of malefic supranormal beings and powers, such as demons, devils, afreet, etc., which are not conventionally referred to as divine; demonic is often used instead.
Pantheistic and polytheistic faiths make no such distinction; gods and other beings of transcendent power often have complex, ignoble, or even irrational motivations for their acts. Note that while the terms demon and demonic are used in monotheistic faiths as antonyms to divine, they are in fact derived from the Greek word daimón, which itself translates as divinity.
Dingir 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.
Man, the noun, has quite a few definitions in the modern age. Some of these definitions have caused undue controversy instigated by fringe groups due to misunderstanding of the meanings and history of the word.
Man comes to us from Old English man, mannmeaning “human being, person” from Proto-Germanic *manwaz from Proto-Indo-European *man-. Further, in Old English the word wer (as in werwolf) was used to mean “male”, either alone or combined with man to form werman. wer and werman eventually combined with man.
In Latin there were two main words for man as well: homo meaning “human being” and vir meaning “adult male human being”. Latin Vir and Old English wer are related words. In Latin, the meanings of homo and vir merged in Vulgar Latin leaving just homo and it’s modern descendants.
The use of man (or woman, as we’ll see later) to refer to a husband or lover is not unique to English either. In Modern Standard German, the word for “man” is Mann and a word for husband is Mann. Interestingly, the word for “human” is not Mann, but Mensch. Mensch, in German, also means “men”, as in the plural of “man”, but is not the plural of German Mann.
Old English used wer and wif to distinguish the sexes, but wer began to disappear late and was replaced by man. Similarly, Latin had homo “human being” and vir “adult male human being,” but they merged in Vulgar Latin, with homo extended to both senses.
PIE had two stems: *uiHro “freeman” (source of Sanskrit vira-, Lithuanian vyras, Latin vir, Old Irish fer, Gothic wair) and*hner “man,” a title more of honor than *uiHro (source of Sanskrit nar-, Armenian ayr, Welsh ner, Greek aner).
Woman, the noun has fewer definitions than man, being a more specific word. The word woman comes from Old English wimman, plural wimmen, which is an alteration of Old English wifman, a compound of wif meaning “woman” and man meaning “human”.
This construct for the “woman” is particular to English and Dutch, which has vrouwmens, meaning “wife”. The word wif is interesting in that it lost it’s meaning as “woman”, but survived as it’s meaning of “wife”, a meaning also served by woman.
Wif came from Proto-Germanic *wiban which is of uncertain origin. The old meaning of wif still survives in some words such as midwife and old wives’ tale with it’s meaning of “woman”.
Words related to wife in other languages do not necessarily carry the same meaning as in English. For example: Dutch wijf means, in slang, “girl, babe” and earlier meant “bitch”. German Weib is an offensive term that can mean “broad, dame, shrew” or just “woman” and when combined with altes, “old”, means “crone, hag”.
Virility (from the Latin virilitas, manhood or virility, derived from Latin vir, man) refers to any of a wide range of masculine characteristics viewed positively. It is applicable to women and not to negative characteristics. The Oxford English Dictionary says virile is “marked by strength or force”. Historically, masculine attributes such as beard growth have been seen as signs of virility and leadership (for example in ancient Egypt and Greece).
Anthropology has shown that masculinity itself has social status, just like wealth, race and social class. In western culture, for example, greater masculinity usually brings greater social status. Many English words such as virtue and virile (from the Indo-European root vir meaning man) reflect this. An association with physical and/or moral strength is implied. Masculinity is associated more commonly with adult men than with boys.
Virility is commonly associated with vigour, health, sturdiness, and constitution, especially in the fathering of children. In this last sense, virility is to men as fertility is to women. The Oxford English Dictionary also notes that virile has become obsolete in referring to a “nubile” young woman, or “a maid that is Marriageable or ripe for a Husband, or Virill”.
Virgin (“unmarried or chaste woman noted for religious piety and having a position of reverence in the Church”) comes from virgine “virgin; Virgin Mary,” from Latin virginem (nominative virgo), meaning “maiden, unwedded girl or woman” or “fresh, unused,” probably related to virga “young shoot,” via a notion of “young”. However, it can also signify a “young woman in a state of inviolate chastity”, also applied to a chaste man, or “naive or inexperienced person” or “pure, untainted”.
Virginity is the state of a person who has never engaged in sexual intercourse. There are cultural and religious traditions which place special value and significance on this state, predominantly towards unmarried females, associated with notions of personal purity, honor and worth.
Like chastity, the concept of virginity has traditionally involved sexual abstinence. The concept of virginity usually involves moral or religious issues and can have consequences in terms of social status and in interpersonal relationships.
Virginal comes from Old French virginal “virginal, pure, chaste,” or directly from Latin virginalis “of a maiden, of a virgin,” from virgin. Viridian comes from Latin virid-, stem of viridis “green, blooming, vigorous”.
Virago, “man-like or heroic woman, woman of extraordinary stature, strength and courage,” comes from Latin virago “female warrior, heroine, amazon,” from vir “man”. Ælfric (c. 1000), following Vulgate, used it in Gen. ii:23 as the name Adam gave to Eve.
Virgo is the sixth astrological sign in the Zodiac. Its name is Latin for virgin. 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.
It spans the 150-180th degree of the zodiac. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between August 23 and September 22, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits the constellation of Virgo from September 17 to October 17.
The bright Spica makes it easy to locate Virgo, as it can be found by following the curve of the Big Dipper/Plough to Arcturus in Boötes and continuing from there in the same curve (“follow the arc to Arcturus and speed on to Spica”).
Due to the effects of precession, the First Point of Libra, (also known asthe autumn equinox point) lies within the boundaries of Virgo very close toβ 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.) This point will pass into the neighbouring constellation of Leo around the year 2440.
The constellation Virgo has lots of different origins depending on which mythology is being studied. Most myths generally view Virgo as a virgin maiden with heavy association with wheat. Virgo is often portrayed carrying two sheaves of wheat, one of which is marked by the bright star Spica.
The Greeks and Romans associated Virgo with their goddess of wheat or agriculture, Demeter, the corn goddess, who was daughter of Cronus and Rhea. By her brother Zeus she had a daughter, Persephone (also called Kore, meaning ‘maiden’).
According to the famous Greek myth, eternal spring once reigned upon the Earth, until that fateful day when the god of the underworld abducted Persephone, the radiant maiden of spring. The constellation Virgo, the Maiden, fully returns to sky at nightfall, with her feet planted on the eastern horizon, by late April or early May.
Persephone might have remained a virgin for ever had not her uncle, Hades, god of the Underworld, kidnapped her while she was out picking flowers one day at Henna in Sicily. Hades swept her aboard his chariot drawn by four black horses and galloped with her into his underground kingdom, where she became his reluctant queen.
Demeter, having scoured the Earth for her missing daughter without success, cursed the fields of Sicily so that the crops failed. In desperation she asked the Great Bear what he had seen, since he never sets, but since the abduction had taken place during the day he referred her to the Sun, who finally told her the truth.
Demeter angrily confronted Zeus, father of Persephone, and demanded that he order his brother Hades to return the girl. Zeus agreed to try; but already it was too late, because Persephone had eaten some pomegranate seeds while in the Underworld and, once having done that, she could never return permanently to the land of the living.
A compromise was reached in which Persephone would spend half (some say one-third) of the year in the Underworld with her husband, and the rest of the year above ground with her mother. Clearly, this is an allegory on the changing seasons.
That’s why it’s spring when the constellation Virgo is above the horizon at early evening but why it’s winter when she’s not. From the perspective of the Northern Hemisphere, Virgo is absent from early evening sky in late autumn, winter and early spring. Virgo’s return to sky at nightfall coincides with the verdant season of spring.
The story resembles that of the mother goddess Hannahannah and her daughter Inara in Hittite–Hurrian mythology. Hannahanna promises Inara land and a man during a consultation by Inara. Inara then disappears and when Hannahannah is informed thereof by the Storm-god’s bee, she apparently begins a search with the help of her female attendant.
Apparently like Demeter, Hannahanna disappears for a while in a fit of anger and while she is gone, cattle and sheep are stifled and mothers, both human and animal take no account of their children. After her anger is banished to the Dark Earth, she returns rejoicing, and mothers care once again for their kin.
Telipinu (Cuneiform: Te(-e)-li-pí-nu(-ú), Hattic: Talipinu or Talapinu, “Exalted Son”) was a Hittite god who most likely served as a patron of farming, though he has also been suggested to have been a storm god or an embodiment of crops. He was a son of the weather god Teššub and the solar goddess Arinniti according to their mythology.
The Telipinu Myth is an ancient Hittite myth about Telipinu, whose disappearance causes all fertility to fail, both plant and animal. In order to stop the havoc and devastation, the gods seek Telipinu but fail to find him. Hannahannah, the mother goddess, sent a bee to find him; when the bee did, stinging Telipinu and smearing wax on him, the god grew angry and began to wreak destruction on the world.
Finally, Kamrušepa, goddess of magic, calmed Telipinu by giving his anger to the Doorkeeper of the Underworld. In other references it is a mortal priest who prays for all of Telipinu’s anger to be sent to bronze containers in the underworld, from which nothing escapes.
In the Sumerian mythology, Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre, and her husband Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), make a cycle that approximates the shift of seasons.
Inanna symbolized erotic love and fertility, and contrasts with Ereshkigal. However, Inanna refers to Ereshkigal as her older sister in the Sumerian hymn “The Descent of Inanna” (which was also in later Babylonian myth, also called “The Descent of Inanna”).
Ereshkigal is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines which date back to the Mesopotamia period. According to the doctrine of two kingdoms, the dominions of the two sisters are sharply differentiated, as one is of this world and one of the world of the dead.
Inanna’s trip and return to the underworld is the most familiar of the myths concerning Ereshkigal. Her reason for visiting the underworld is unclear. The reason she gives to the gatekeeper of the underworld is that she wants to attend the funeral rites of Ereshkigal’s husband, here said to be Gud-gal-ana.
Gugalana was the Bull of Heaven in The Epic of Gilgamesh, which was killed by Gilgamesh and Enkidu. To further add to the confusion, Ereshkigal’s husband typically is the plague god, Nergal, who is said to have raped the goddess after the disappearance of Gugalana.
The attested laws of the underworld dictate that, with the exception of appointed messengers, those who enter it could never leave. However, the demons of Ereshkigal followed (or accompanied) Inanna out of the underworld, and insisted that she wasn’t free to go until someone took her place.
Despite Inanna’s fate, and in contrast to the other individuals who were properly mourning Inanna, Dumuzi was lavishly clothed and resting beneath a tree, or upon her throne, entertained by slave-girls. Inanna, displeased, decrees that the demons shall take him, using language which echoes the speech Ereshkigal gave while condemning her.
Dumuzi is then taken to the underworld in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year. Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity. Inanna’s powers, notably those connected with fertility, subsequently wane, to return in full when he returns from the netherworld each six months. This cycle then approximates the shift of seasons.
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.
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.
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 enters the sign of Aries when it reaches the northern vernal equinox, which occurs around March 21. 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.
Pisces (Ancient Greek: Ikhthyes) is the twelfth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the Pisces constellation. It spans the 330° to 360° of the zodiac, between 332.75° and 360° of celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac the sun transits this area on average between February 19 and March 20, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits this area between approximately March 13 and April 13.
Eratosthenes offers the additional suggestion that Virgo might be Atargatis, the Syrian fertility goddess, who was sometimes depicted holding an ear of corn. But this seems to be a mistake because Atargatis is identified with the constellation Piscis Austrinus.
Hyginus, more plausibly, equates Virgo with Erigone, the daughter of Icarius of Athens, who hanged herself after the death of her father. Icarius, who had been favoured by Dionysus, was killed by his shepherds while they were intoxicated and Erigone hanged herself in grief; Dionysus placed the father and daughter in the stars as Boötes, which adjoins Virgo to the north, and Virgo respectively. Icarius’s dog Maera became the star Procyon.
Eratosthenes and Hyginus both name Tyche, the goddess of fortune, as another identification of Virgo; but Tyche was usually represented holding the horn of plenty (cornucopia) rather than an ear of grain. In the sky, the ear of corn is represented by the first-magnitude star Spica, Latin for ‘ear of grain’. The name in Greek, Stachys, has the same meaning.
The Greeks called the constellation Parthenos, which is the name Ptolemy gave in the Almagest. She is usually identified as Dike, goddess of justice, who was daughter of Zeus and Themis. Dike features as the impartial observer in a moral tale depicting mankind’s declining standards. It was a favourite tale of Greek and Roman mythologists, and its themes still sound familiar today.
Dike was supposed to have lived on Earth in the Golden Age of mankind, when Cronus ruled Olympus. It was a time of peace and happiness, a season of perennial spring when food grew without cultivation and humans never grew old. Men lived like the gods, not knowing work, sorrow, crime or war. Dike moved among them, dispensing wisdom and justice.
Then, when Zeus overthrew his father Cronus on Olympus, the Silver Age began, inferior to the age that had just passed. In the Silver Age, Zeus shortened springtime and introduced the yearly cycle of seasons. Humans in this age became quarrelsome and ceased to honour the gods.
Dike longed for the idyllic days gone by. She assembled the human race and spoke sternly to them for forsaking the ideals of their ancestors. ‘Worse is to come’, she warned them. Then she spread her wings and took refuge in the mountains, turning her back on mankind.
Finally came the Ages of Bronze and Iron, when humans descended into violence, theft and war. Unable to endure the sins of humanity any longer, Dike abandoned the Earth and flew up to heaven, where she sits to this day next to the constellation of Libra, which some see as the scales of justice.
Alternatively, she was sometimes identified as the virgin goddess Iustitia or Astraea (“star-maiden”), holding the scales of justice in her hand as the constellation Libra. In Greek mythology, she was the last immortal to abandon Earth at the end of the Silver Age, when the gods fled to Olympus – hence the sign’s association with Earth.
Astraeia was the daughter of Astraeus, an astrological deity and the Titan-god of the dusk, also associated with the winds, as he is the father of the four Anemoi wind deities, and Eos, goddess of the dawn.
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.
However, some tell tales of the Greek story of Parthenos, which means virgin in Greek, which explains how the actual constellation Virgo became to be. While this is only one story in one myth of the origin of Virgo, she is seen throughout all matter of myths.
In the Egyptian myths, when the constellation Virgo was in the sun was when the start of the wheat harvest again thus connecting Virgo back to the wheat grain. She also has various connections with the India goddess Kanya, and even the Virgin Mary.
Lilith is a figure in Jewish mythology, developed earliest in the Babylonian Talmud (3rd to 5th centuries CE). The character is generally thought to derive in part from a historically far earlier class of female demons (lilītu) in Mesopotamian religion.
Evidence in later Jewish materials is plentiful, but little information has survived relating to the original Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian view of these demons. Archibald Sayce (1882) considered that Hebrew lilit (or lilith) and the earlier Akkadian līlītu are from proto-Semitic.
Charles Fossey (1902) has this literally translating to “female night being/demon,” although cuneiform inscriptions from Mesopotamia exist where Līlīt and Līlītu refers to disease-bearing wind spirits.
Another possibility is association not with “night,” but with “wind,” thus identifying the Akkadian Lil-itu as a loan from the Sumerian lil, “air” — specifically from Ninlil (NIN.LÍL: “lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu. She is “lady air”, the goddess of the south wind (and wife of Enlil) — and itud, “moon”.
She lived in Dilmun with her family. Impregnated by her husband Enlil, who lie with her by the water, she conceived a boy, Nanna/Suen, the future moon god. As punishment Enlil was dispatched to the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, where Ninlil joined him.
Her parentage is variously described. Most commonly she is called the daughter of Haia (god of stores) and Nunbarsegunu (or Ninshebargunnu [a goddess of barley] or Nisaba). Another Akkadian source says she is the daughter of Anu (aka An) and Antu (Sumerian Ki). Other sources call her a daughter of Anu and Nammu.
Enlil (nlin) (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.
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”.
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 (É.NAM.TI.LA, E-nam-ti-la), a Sumerian term meaning “house of life” or possibly “house of creation”, has also been suggested by Piotr Michalowski to be a part of the Ekur.
In the Hymn to Enlil, the Ekur is closely linked to Enlil whilst in Enlil and Ninlil it is the abode of the Annanuki, from where Enlil is banished. The fall of Ekur is described in the Lament for Ur.
Enlil impregnated her disguised as the gatekeeper, where upon she gave birth to their son Nergal, god of death. In a similar manner she conceived the underworld god Ninazu when Enlil impregnated her disguised as the man of the river of the nether world, a man-devouring river. Later Enlil disguised himself as the man of the boat, impregnating her with a fourth deity Enbilulu, god of rivers and canals. All of these act as substitutes for Nanna/Suen to ascend.
In some texts Ninlil is also the mother of Ninurta, the heroic god who slew Asag the demon with his mace, Sharur. In a myth variously entitled by Samuel Noah Kramer as “The Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and later Ninurta Myth Lugal-e by Thorkild Jacobsen, Hursag is described as a mound of stones constructed by Ninurta after his defeat of a demon called Asag.
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.
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”.
Ninhursag (“lady of the sacred mountain”; from Sumerian NIN “lady” and ḪAR.SAG “sacred mountain, foothill”, possibly a reference to the site of her temple, the E-Kur (House of mountain deeps)) was a mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. She is principally a fertility goddess.
According to legend her name was changed from Ninmah to Ninhursag by her son Ninurta in order to commemorate his creation of the mountains. As Ninmenna, according to a Babylonian investiture ritual, she placed the golden crown on the king in the Eanna temple.
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’. She is the tutelary deity to several Sumerian leaders.
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, Belet-Ili (lady of the gods, Akkadian). 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 including shassuru 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.
The cosmogenic myth common in Sumer was that of the hieros gamos, a sacred marriage where divine principles in the form of dualistic opposites came together as male and female to give birth to the cosmos. This mingling of waters was known in Sumerian as Nammu, and was identified as the mother of Enki, who is essentially a god of civilization, wisdom, and culture, the creator and protector of man, and of the world in general.
Nammu was the Goddess sea (Engur) that gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first gods, representing the Apsu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions.
Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity. Nammu is the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”. It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going. The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans. And Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods.
In the epic Enki and Ninhursag, Enki, as lord of Ab or fresh water (also the Sumerian word for semen), is living with his wife in the paradise of Dilmun where “The land of Dilmun is a pure place, the land of Dilmun is a clean place, The land of Dilmun is a clean place, the land of Dilmun is a bright place; He who is alone laid himself down in Dilmun, The place, after Enki is clean, that place is bright”.
However, despite being a place where “the raven uttered no cries” and “the lion killed not, the wolf snatched not the lamb, unknown was the kid-killing dog, unknown was the grain devouring boar”, Dilmun had no water and Enki heard the cries of its Goddess, Ninsikil, and orders the sun-God Utu to bring fresh water from the Earth for Dilmun.
As a result, “Her City Drinks the Water of Abundance, Dilmun Drinks the Water of Abundance, Her wells of bitter water, behold they are become wells of good water, Her fields and farms produced crops and grain, Her city, behold it has become the house of the banks and quays of the land.”
The subsequent tale, with similarities to the Biblical story of the forbidden fruit, repeats the story of how fresh water brings life to a barren land. Enki, the Water-Lord then “caused to flow the ‘water of the heart” and having fertilised his consort Ninhursag, also known as Ki or Earth, after “Nine days being her nine months, the months of ‘womanhood’… like good butter, Nintu, the mother of the land, …like good butter, gave birth to Ninsar (“Lady Greenery”)”.
Through Enki, Ninsar bore a daughter, Ninkurra (“Lady Fruitfulness or Lady Pasture”), who in turn bore Enki a daughter named Uttu. Enki then pursued and attempted tio seduce Uttu (“the woven”), who was then upset about Enki’s reputation.
Uttu, on her ancestress Ninhursag’s advice buried Enki’s seed in the earth, whereupon eight plants (the very first) sprung up. Enki, seeing the plants, ate them, and became ill in eight organs of his body. Ninhursag cured him, taking the plants into her body and giving birth to eight deities: Abu, Nintulla (Nintul), Ninsutu, Ninkasi, Nanshe (Nazi), Azimua, Ninti, and Enshag (Enshagag).
The story thus symbolically reflects the way in which life is brought forth through the addition of water to the land, and once it grows, water is required to bring plants to fruit. It also counsels balance and responsibility, nothing to excess.
Uttu is the goddess of weaving and clothing. She was illustrated as a spider in a web, a weaver or spider, the weaver of the web of life. Ninti is also one of the eight goddesses of healing who was created by Ninhursag to heal Enki’s body. Her specific healing area was the rib (sumerian Ti means rib and to live). Some scholars suggest that this served as the basis for the story of Eve created from Adam’s rib in the Book of Genesis.
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, 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.
Hebat, also transcribed, Kheba or Khepat, was the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “The mother of all living” and “Queen of the deities”. In the Hurrian language Hepa is the most likely pronunciation of the name of the goddess. In modern literature the sound /h/ in cuneiform sometimes is transliterated as kh. During Aramaean times Hebat also appears to have become identified with the goddess Hawwah, or Eve.
The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele. Hannahannah (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”) is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to the pre-Sumerian goddess Inanna. She was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat.
Christopher Siren reports that Hannahannah is associated with the Gul Ses (Gul-Shesh; Gulshesh; Gul-ashshesh) in Hittite mythology. In Hurrian mythology, the Hutena are goddesses of fate. They are similar to the Norns of Norse mythology or the Moirai of ancient Greece.
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.
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, also called Kore or Cora; “the maiden”), the daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter, and the queen of the underworld in Greek myth.
Homer describes her as the formidable, venerable majestic princess of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. Persephone was married to Hades, the god-king of the underworld.
The myth of her abduction represents her function as the personification of vegetation, which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest; hence, she is also associated with spring as well as the fertility of vegetation.
Similar myths appear in the Orient, in the cults of male gods like Tammuz, Telepinu, Attis, Adonis and Osiris, and in Minoan Crete, not to forget Balder in Norse mythology, and Jesus in Christianity.
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana, 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.
Some scholars believe that the name, and indeed the goddess herself, was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: “Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals”. The Arcadians believed she was the daughter of Demeter.
Diana was known to be the virgin goddess of childbirth and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses, along with Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy, and Vesta, the virgin goddess of the hearth, home, and family, who swore never to marry.
Ninerva was the virgin goddess of music, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, and magic. She is often depicted with her sacred creature, an owl usually named as the “owl of Minerva”, which symbolised her association with wisdom and knowledge. From the 2nd century BC onwards, the Romans equated her with the Greek goddess Athena.
Vesta’s presence is symbolized by the sacred fire that burned at her hearth and temples. Her closest Greek equivalent is Hestia. The importance of Vesta to Roman religion is indicated by the prominence of the priesthood devoted to her, the Vestal Virgins, Rome’s only college of full-time priests.
The Vestals were freed of the usual social obligations to marry and bear children, and took a vow of chastity in order to devote themselves to the study and correct observance of state rituals that were off-limits to the male colleges of priests.
In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women.
She often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth.
Hecate or Hekate is a goddess in Ancient Greek religion and mythology, most often shown holding two torches or a key and in later periods depicted in triple form. She was variously associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, dogs, light, magic, witchcraft, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, ghosts, necromancy, and sorcery.
She appears in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter and in Hesiod’s Theogony, where she is promoted strongly as a great goddess. The place of origin of her following is uncertain, but it is thought that she had popular followings in Thrace.
She was one of the main deities worshiped in Athenian households as a protective goddess and one who bestowed prosperity and daily blessings on the family. In the post-Christian writings of the Chaldean Oracles (2nd–3rd century CE) she was regarded with (some) rulership over earth, sea and sky, as well as a more universal role as Saviour (Soteira), Mother of Angels and the Cosmic World Soul.
Before she became associated with Greek mythology, she had many similarities with Artemis (wilderness, and watching over wedding ceremonies). As a virgin goddess, she remained unmarried and had no regular consort, though some traditions named her as the mother of Scylla.
She also closely parallels the Roman goddess Trivia (“the three ways”), with whom she was identified in Rome. Trivia “haunted crossroads, graveyards, and was the goddess of sorcery and witchcraft, she wandered about at night and was seen only by the barking of dogs who told of her approach. She was an underworld Titan-goddess who assisted Jove in the Titanomachy and was therefore able to keep her powers.
Trivia was a friend of Ceres and helped her to find her daughter Proserpina. As a part of her role as an underworld goddess, she was known as the Queen of Ghosts. Although she helped Ceres to find her daughter, she was also known to steal young maidens to assist her in her powers. These women later became nymphs.
Her association for Romans of the first century BCE with Artemis was so thorough that Lucretius identifies the altar of the goddess at the sacrifice of Iphianassa (Iphigeneia) in Aulis as Triviai virginis aram.
Hecate was generally represented as three-formed, which probably has some connection with the appearance of the full moon, half moon, and new moon. Triple Hecate was the goddess of the moon with three forms: Selene the Moon in heaven, Artemis the Huntress on earth, and Persephone the Destroyer in the underworld.
Although associated with other moon goddesses such as Selene, she ruled over three kingdoms: the earth, the sea, and the sky. She had the power to create or hold back storms, which influenced her patronage of shepherds and sailors.
Hesiod emphasizes that Hecate was an only child, the daughter of Perses and Asteria, a star-goddess who was the sister of Leto (the mother of Artemis and Apollo). Grandmother of the three cousins was Phoebe the ancient Titaness who personified the moon.
If Hecate’s cult spread from Anatolia into Greece, it is possible it presented a conflict, as her role was already filled by other more prominent deities in the Greek pantheon, above all by Artemis and Selene. This line of reasoning lies behind the widely accepted hypothesis that she was a foreign deity who was incorporated into the Greek pantheon.
Hecate can often be associated with the figure of Isis in Egyptian myth. Lucius Apuleius (c. 123 — c. 170 CE) in his work The Golden Ass associates Hecate with Isis (original Egyptian pronunciation more likely “Aset” or “Iset”).
Isis was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the patroness of nature and magic. She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans and the downtrodden, but she also listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats and rulers.
Isis is often depicted as the mother of Horus, the falcon-headed deity associated with king and kingship, although in some traditions Horus’s mother was Hathor. Isis is also known as protector of the dead and goddess of children. As a funerary deity, she was associated with Osiris, lord of the underworld, and was considered his wife.
The name Isis means “Throne”. Her headdress is a throne. As the personification of the throne, she was an important representation of the pharaoh’s power. The pharaoh was depicted as her child, who sat on the throne she provided.
In the typical form of her myth, Isis was the first daughter of Geb, god of the Earth, and Nut, goddess of the Sky, and she was born on the fourth intercalary day. She married her brother, Osiris, and she conceived Horus with him.
Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by Set. Using her magical skills, she restored his body to life after having gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the earth by Set.
This myth became very important during the Greco-Roman period. For example, it was believed that the Nile River flooded every year because of the tears of sorrow which Isis wept for Osiris. Osiris’s death and rebirth was relived each year through rituals.
The worship of Isis eventually spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, continuing until the suppression of paganism in the Christian era. The popular motif of Isis suckling her son Horus, however, lived on in a Christianized context as the popular image of Mary suckling her infant son Jesus from the fifth century onward.
The Roman writer Apuleius recorded aspects of the cult of Isis in the 2nd century CE, including the Navigium Isidis and the mysteries of Isis in his novel The Golden Ass. The protagonist Lucius prays to Isis as Regina Caeli, “Queen of Heaven”:
“You see me here, Lucius, in answer to your prayer. I am nature, the universal Mother, mistress of all the elements, primordial child of time, sovereign of all things spiritual, queen of the dead, queen of the ocean, queen also of the immortals, the single manifestation of all gods and goddesses that are, my nod governs the shining heights of Heavens, the wholesome sea breezes. Though I am worshipped in many aspects, known by countless names … the Egyptians who excel in ancient learning and worship call me by my true name… Queen Isis.”
According to Apuleius, these other names include manifestations of the goddess as Ceres, “the original nurturing parent”; Heavenly Venus (Venus Caelestis); the “sister of Phoebus”, that is, Diana or Artemis as she is worshipped at Ephesus; or Proserpina (Greek Persephone) as the triple goddess of the underworld.
From the middle Imperial period, the title Caelestis, “Heavenly” or “Celestial”, is attached to several goddesses embodying aspects of a single, supreme Heavenly Goddess. The Dea Caelestis was identified with the constellation Virgo (the Virgin), who holds the divine balance of justice.
In the syncretism during Late Antiquity of Hellenistic and late Babylonian (“Chaldean”) elements, Hecate was identified with Ereshkigal, the underworld counterpart of Inanna in the Babylonian cosmography. In the Michigan magical papyrus (inv. 7), dated to the late 3rd or early 4th century CE, Hecate Ereschigal is invoked against fear of punishment in the afterlife.
Dogs were sacred to Hecate and associated with roads, domestic spaces, purification, and spirits of the dead. They played a similar symbolic role in ancient China, where dogs were conceived as representative of the household sphere, and as protective spirits appropriate when transcending geographic and spatial boundaries.
Dogs were also sacrificed to the road. As Roel Sterckx observes, “The use of dog sacrifices at the gates and doors of the living and the dead as well as its use in travel sacrifices suggest that dogs were perceived as daemonic animals operating in the liminal or transitory realm between the domestic and the unknown, danger-stricken outside world”.
This can be compared to Pausanias’ report that in the Ionaian city of Colophon in Asia Minor a sacrifice of a black female puppy was made to Hecate as “the wayside goddess”, and Plutarch’s observation that in Boeotia dogs were killed in purificatory rites. Dogs, with puppies often mentioned, were offered to Hecate at crossroads, which were sacred to the goddess.
To the Egyptians, the frog was a symbol of life and fertility, since millions of them were born after the annual inundation of the Nile, which brought fertility to the otherwise barren lands. Consequently, in Egyptian mythology, there began to be a frog-goddess, who represented fertility, referred to by Egyptologists as Heqet (also Heqat, Hekit, Heket etc., more rarely Hegit, Heget etc.), written with the determinative frog.
Later, as a fertility goddess, associated explicitly with the last stages of the flooding of the Nile, and so with the germination of corn, she was associated with the final stages of childbirth. This association, which appears to have arisen during the Middle Kingdom, gained her the title She who hastens the birth (cf. the role of Heqet in the story of The Birth of the Royal Children from the Westcar Papyrus).
Some say that—even though no ancient Egyptian term for “midwife” is known for certain—midwives often called themselves the Servants of Heqet, and that her priestesses were trained in midwifery. Women often wore amulets of her during childbirth, which depicted Heqet as a frog, sitting in a lotus.
Her name was probably pronounced more like Ḥaqā́tat in Middle Egyptian, hence her later Greek counterpart. Heqet was usually depicted as a frog, or a woman with a frog’s head, or more rarely as a frog on the end of a phallus to explicitly indicate her association with fertility. She was often referred to as the wife of Khnum, who formed the bodies of new children on his potter’s wheel.
In the Osiris myth, it was Heqet who breathed life into the new body of Horus at birth, as she was the goddess of the last moments of birth. As the birth of Horus became more intimately associated with the resurrection of Osiris, so Heqet’s role became one more closely associated with resurrection. Eventually, this association led to her amulets gaining the phrase I am the resurrection in the Christian era along with cross and lamb symbolism.
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, according to Leick 1994 persons of asexual or hermaphroditic bodies and feminine men were particularly involved in the worship and ritual practices of Inanna’s temples.
The deity of this fourth-millennium city was probably originally An. After its dedication to Inanna the temple seems to have housed priestesses of the goddess. 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.
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, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld god of the law, and Dumuzi (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states.
Enmesarra is escribed as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore he has been equated with Nergal, who in the late Babylonian astral-theological system is related to the planet Mars. On the other hand, he has been described as an ancestor of Enlil, and it has been claimed that Enlil slew him.
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 (Sumerian: ezen á.ki.tum, akiti-šekinku, á.ki.ti.še.gur.ku, lit. “the barley-cutting”, akiti-šununum, lit. “barley-sowing”; Akkadian: akitu or rêš-šattim, “head of the year”) ceremony, at the spring Equinox.
The name is from the Sumerian for “barley”, originally marking two festivals celebrating the beginning of each of the two half-years of the Sumerian calendar, marking the sowing of barley in autumn and the cutting of barley in spring. In Babylonian religion it came to be dedicated to Marduk’s victory over Tiamat.
This corresponds to the Puruli, 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. Also compared are the Canaanite Poem of Baal and Psalms 93 and 29.
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.
After her death, Ninlil 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.
The Shatt en-Nil Is a dry river bed/canal in southern Iraq. It is also known as the Naru Kabari. Called the Euphrates of Nippur, the river was an important irrigation and transport infrastructure for the city of Nippur during antiquity. The canal started just north of Babylon and travelled for 60 km endinging at Larsa where it rejoined the Euphrates River. On the way it flowed through Nippur. The canal also serviced the city of Tel Abib and Uruk.
The canal is referred to in the so-called Murashu documents discovered at Nippur. which record business transaction in the area around Nippur. The river/canal has also been one of the rivers identified as the biblical River Chebar.
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha (Sumerian: Gudua, modern Tell Ibrahim) is an archaeological site in Babil Governorate, Iraq. Kutha lies on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Babylon.
The site consists of two tells or settlement mounds. The larger main mound is 0.75 miles (1.21 km) long and crescent-shaped. A smaller mound is located to the west. The two mounds, as is typical in the region, are separated by the dry bed of an ancient canal, the Shatt en-Nil.
Nergal is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta. The main seat of his worship was at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. . In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. Kutha is also the name of the capital of the Sumerian underworld, Irkalla.
Ereshkigal (EREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal, lit. “Great Lady of the Earth” or “Lady of the Great Earth”.
Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. The main temple dedicated to her was located in Kutha. It was said that she had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly.
The goddess Ishtar refers to Ereshkigal as her older sister in the Sumerian hymn “The Descent of Inanna” (which was also in later Babylonian myth, also called “The Descent of Ishtar”). Inanna/ Ishtar’s trip and return to the underworld is the most familiar of the myths concerning Ereshkigal.
Ereshkigal is the sister and counterpart of Inanna/Ishtar, the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year. Ereshkigal was also a queen that many gods and goddesses looked up to in the underworld.
She is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines which date back to the Mesopotamia period. According to the doctrine of two kingdoms, the dominions of the two sisters are sharply differentiated, as one is of this world and one of the world of the dead.
Samuel Noah Kramer suggested that the concept of a Garden of the gods or a divine paradise might be of Sumerian origin. The concept of this home of the immortals was later handed down to the Babylonians who conquered Sumer.
The myth of Enlil and Ninlil opens with a description of the city of Nippur, its walls, river, canals and well, portrayed as the home of the gods and, according to Kramer “that seems to be conceived as having existed before the creation of man.”
Andrew R. George suggests “Nippur was a city inhabited by gods not men, and this would suggest that it had existed from the very beginning.” He discusses Nippur as the “first city” (uru-sag, “City-top (head)”) of Sumer. This conception of Nippur is echoed by Joan Goodnick Westenholz, describing the setting as “civitas dei”, existing before the “axis mundi”.
George also noted that a ritual garden was re-created in the “Grand Garden of Nippur, most probably a sacred garden in the E-kur (or Dur-an-ki) temple complex, is described in a cult-song of Enlil as a “garden of heavenly joy”. Temples in Mesopotamia were also known to have adorned their ziggurats with a sanctuary and sacred grove of trees, reminiscent of the Hanging gardens of Babylon.
In Hebrew-language texts, the term lilith or lilit (translated as “night creatures”, “night monster”, “night hag”, or “screech owl”) first occurs in a list of animals in Isaiah 34:11, either in singular or plural form according to variations in the earliest manuscripts.
In the Dead Sea Scrolls’ Songs of the Sage the term first occurs in a list of monsters. In Jewish magical inscriptions on bowls and amulets from the 6th century CE onwards, Lilith is identified as a female demon and the first visual depictions appear.
In Jewish folklore, from the satirical book Alphabet of Ben Sira (ca 700–1000 CE) onwards, Lilith appears as Adam’s first wife, who was created at the same time (Rosh Hashanah) and from the same dirt as Adam – compare Genesis 1:27. This contrasts with Eve, who was created from one of Adam’s ribs: Genesis 2:22.
The legend developed extensively during the Middle Ages, in the tradition of Aggadic midrashim, the Zohar, and Jewish mysticism. For example, in the 13th-century writings of Rabbi Isaac ben Jacob ha-Cohen, Lilith left Adam after she refused to become subservient to him and then would not return to the Garden of Eden after she had coupled with the archangel Samael.
While the connection is almost universally agreed upon, recent scholarship has disputed the relevance of two sources previously used to connect the Jewish lilith to an Akkadian lilītu—the Gilgamesh appendix and the Arslan Tash amulets.
In Gilgamesh and the Netherworld, a huluppu tree grows in Inanna’s garden in Uruk, whose wood she plans to use to build a new throne. After ten years of growth, she comes to harvest it and finds a serpent living at its base, a Zu bird raising young in its crown, and that a ki-sikil-lil-la-ke made a house in its trunk.
Gilgamesh is said to have smitten the snake, and then the zu bird flew away to the mountains with its young, while the ki-sikil-lil-la-ke fearfully destroys its house and runs for the forest.
Identification of ki-sikil-lil-la-ke as Lilith is stated in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (1999). Suggested translations for the Tablet XII spirit in the tree include ki-sikil as “sacred place”, lil as “spirit”, and lil-la-ke as “water spirit”. but also simply “owl”, given that the lil is building a home in the trunk of the tree.
According to a new source from Late Antiquity, Lilith appears in a Mandaic magic story where she is considered to represent the branches of a tree with other demonic figures that form other parts of the tree, though this may also include multiple “Liliths”.
In stanza 31 of Grímnismál, Hel is listed as living beneath one of three roots growing from the world tree Yggdrasil. 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.
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, as Dione was of Zeus.
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. 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 ancient Roman religion and myth, Nerio was an ancient war goddess and the personification of valor. She was the partner of Mars in ancient cult practices, and was sometimes identified with the goddess Bellona, and occasionally with the goddess Minerva. Spoils taken from enemies were sometimes dedicated to Nerio by the Romans. Nerio was later supplanted by mythologized deities appropriated and adapted from other religions.
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.