Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Nergal/Ereshkigal – Tammuz/Inanna – Tyr/Hel – Balder/Nanna – Mars/Nerio – Vulcan/Venus – Shiva/Kali – Vishnu-Krishna/Lakshmi

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 11, 2016

 

Nergal/Ereshkigal – Tammuz/Inanna – Tyr/Hel – Balder/Nanna – Mars/Nerio – Vulcan/Venus – Shiva-Indra/Kali – Vishnu-Krishna/Lakshmi

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 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 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.

Anu (in Akkadian; Sumerian: An, from An “sky, heaven”) is the earliest attested Sky Father deity. In Sumerian religion, he was also “King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven”, where Anu himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions. He was believed to have the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and to have created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the Royal Tiara. His attendant and vizier was the god Ilabrat.

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.

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

In Sumerian texts of the third millennium the goddess Uraš is his consort; later this position was taken by Ki, the personification of earth, and in Akkadian texts by Antu, whose name is probably derived from his own.

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

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. Enmesarra in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld god of the law. Described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore he has been equated with Nergal. On the other hand, he has been described as an ancestor of Enlil, and it has been claimed that Enlil slew him.

Nergal is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta. He seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, the solar deity in ancient Semitic religion, corresponding to the Sumerian god Utu. but only representative of a certain phase of the sun.

Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle. He has also been called “the king of sunset”.

Being a deity of the desert, god of fire, which is one of negative aspects of the sun, god of the underworld, and also being a god of one of the religions which rivaled Christianity and Judaism, Nergal was sometimes called a demon and even identified with Satan. According to Collin de Plancy and Johann Weyer, Nergal was depicted as the chief of Hell’s “secret police”, and worked as “an honorary spy in the service of Beelzebub”.

North (Proto-Germanic *norþ-) comes from the proto-Indo-European *nórto-s ‘submerged’ from the root *ner- ‘left, below, to the left of the rising sun’ whence comes the Ancient Greek name Nereus, in Greek mythology the eldest son of Pontus (the Sea) and Gaia (the Earth), who with Doris, a sea nymph whose name represented the bounty of the sea, fathered the Nereids and Nerites with whom Nereus lived in the Aegean Sea.

In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

In Germanic paganism, Nerthus is a goddess associated with fertility. The name Nerthus is generally held to be a Latinized form of Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, a direct precursor to the Old Norse deity name Njörðr. While scholars have noted numerous parallels between the descriptions of the two figures, Njörðr is attested as a male deity.

Various scholarly theories exist regarding the goddess and her potential later traces amongst the Germanic peoples, including that the figure may be identical to the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr mentioned in two Old Norse sources.

In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. Mars in culture is about the planet Mars in culture. For example, the planet Mars is named after the Roman god of war Mars. In Babylonian astronomy, the planet was named after Nergal, their deity of fire, war, and destruction, most likely due to the planet’s reddish appearance.

As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars)—hence the current name of the planet. In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which existed in many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi. Robert Drews writes that the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix. He suggests that at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names.

The Mitanni kingdom was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians. The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour.

Hittite annals mention a people called Hurri (Ḫu-ur-ri), located in northeastern Syria. A Hittite fragment, probably from the time of Mursili I, mentions a “King of the Hurri”. The Assyro-Akkadian version of the text renders “Hurri” as Hanigalbat. Tushratta, who styles himself “king of Mitanni” in his Akkadian Amarna letters, refers to his kingdom as Hanigalbat.

Egyptian sources call Mitanni “nhrn”, which is usually pronounced as Naharin/Naharina from the Assyro-Akkadian word for “river”, cf. Aram-Naharaim. The name Mitanni is first found in the “memoirs” of the Syrian wars (ca. 1480 BC) of the official astronomer and clockmaker Amenemhet, who returned from the “foreign country called Me-ta-ni” at the time of Thutmose I.

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. The name is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning “assemble/create” which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta etc.

Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. It is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them. It is remote and difficult to reach. It is home to the goddess Inana, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. It is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk.

Urartu (Urartian: Biai, Biainili), corresponding to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat or Kingdom of Van, was an Iron Age kingdom centred on Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands. It is argued on linguistic evidence that proto-Armenian came in contact with Urartian at an early date (3rd-2nd millennium BC), before formation of Urartian kingdom.

The landscape corresponds to the mountainous plateau between Anatolia, Mesopotamia, the Iranian Plateau, and the Caucasus Mountains, later known as the Armenian Highlands. The kingdom rose to power in the mid-ninth century BC, but was conquered by the Medes in the early sixth century BC. The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms.

There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources. The earliest is from an inscription which mentions Armânum together with Ibla (Ebla) as territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in c. 2250 BC.

Another mention by pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) as the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. He stands at the head of the special pantheon assigned to the government of the dead (supposed to be gathered in a large subterranean cave known as Aralu or Irkalla).

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 some texts the god Ninazu is the son of Nergal and Allatu/Ereshkigal.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (EREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the 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”. She was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom.

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. 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.

Inanna was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. Her symbol is an eight-pointed star or a rosette. She was associated with lions – even then a symbol of power – and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. Her cuneiform ideogram was a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds, representing the doorpost of the storehouse (and thus fertility and plenty).

She was associated with the planet Venus, which at that time was regarded as two stars, the “morning star” and the “evening star.” Dumuzi and his Akkadian counterpart Tammuz both mean ‘The Faithful Son’. This can be translated to Innana’s son who is also her lover. Tammuz is a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states.

In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar. The Levantine (“lord”) Adonis, who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.

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

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. According to some scholars, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is built over a cave that was originally a shrine to Adonis-Tammuz.

Adonis, in Greek mythology, is a central figure in various mystery religions.[citation needed] In 1966, Wahib Atallah wrote that the “cult of Adonis belonged to women,” and further asserted “the cult of dying Adonis was fully developed in the circle of young girls around Sappho on Lesbos, about 600 BC, as a fragment of Sappho reveals.”

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

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

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

Adonis originally was a Phoenician god of fertility representing the spirit of vegetation.[citation needed] It is further speculated that he was an avatar of the version of Ba’al, worshipped in Ugarit. It is likely that lack of clarity concerning whether Myrrha was called Smyrna, and who her father was, originated in Cyprus before the Greeks first encountered the myth. However, it is clear that the Greeks added much to the Adonis-Myrrha story, before it was first recorded by classical scholars.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming.

Although Ares was viewed primarily as a destructive and destabilizing force, Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people. In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia. His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.

The union of Venus and Mars held greater appeal for poets and philosophers, and the couple were a frequent subject of art. In Greek myth, the adultery of Ares and Aphrodite had been exposed to ridicule when her husband Hephaestus (whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan) caught them in the act by means of a magical snare. Although not originally part of the Roman tradition, in 217 BC Venus and Mars were presented as a complementary pair in the lectisternium, a public banquet at which images of twelve major gods of the Roman state were presented on couches as if present and participating.

Vulcan is the god of fire including the fire of volcanoes, metalworking, and the forge in ancient Roman religion and myth. Vulcan is often depicted with a blacksmith’s hammer. The Vulcanalia was the annual festival held August 23 in his honor. His Greek counterpart is Hephaestus, the god of fire and smithery. In Etruscan religion, he is identified with Sethlans.

Vulcan belongs to the most ancient stage of Roman religion: Varro, the ancient Roman scholar and writer, citing the Annales Maximi, records that king Titus Tatius dedicated altars to a series of deities among which Vulcan is mentioned.

Through his identification with the Hephaestus of Greek mythology, Vulcan came to be considered as the manufacturer of art, arms, iron, jewelry, and armor for various gods and heroes, including the lightning bolts of Jupiter. He was the son of Jupiter and Juno, and the husband of Maia and Aphrodite (Venus). His smithy was believed to be situated underneath Mount Etna in Sicily.

As the son of Jupiter, the king of the gods, and Juno, the queen of the gods, Vulcan should have been quite handsome, but baby Vulcan was small and ugly with a red, bawling face. Juno was so horrified that she hurled the tiny baby off the top of Mount Olympus.

Vulcan fell down for a day and a night, landing in the sea. Unfortunately, one of his legs broke as he hit the water, and never developed properly. Vulcan sank to the depths of the ocean, where the sea-nymph Thetis found him and took him to her underwater grotto, wanting to raise him as her own son.

Vulcan had a happy childhood with dolphins as his playmates and pearls as his toys. Late in his childhood, he found the remains of a fisherman’s fire on the beach and became fascinated with an unextinguished coal, still red-hot and glowing.

Virility (from the Latin virilitas, manhood or virility, derived from Latin vir, man) as a kind of life force (vis) or virtue (virtus) is an essential characteristic of Mars. As an agricultural guardian, he directs his energies toward creating conditions that allow crops to grow, which may include warding off hostile forces of nature. As an embodiment of masculine aggression, he is the force that drives wars – but ideally, war that delivers a secure peace.

The consort of Mars was Nerio or Nerine, “Valor.” She represents the vital force (vis), power (potentia) and majesty (maiestas) of Mars. Her name was regarded as Sabine in origin and is equivalent to Latin virtus, “manly virtue” (from vir, “man”). In the early 3rd century BC, the comic playwright Plautus has a reference to Mars greeting Nerio, his wife. A source from late antiquity says that Mars and Nerine were celebrated together at a festival held on March 23. In the later Roman Empire, Nerine came to be identified with Minerva.

Nerio probably originates as a divine personification of Mars’ power, as such abstractions in Latin are generally feminine. Her name appears with that of Mars in an archaic prayer invoking a series of abstract qualities, each paired with the name of a deity. The influence of Greek mythology and its anthropomorphic gods may have caused Roman writers to treat these pairs as “marriages.”

Dyēus (also *Dyēus Ph₂tḗr, alternatively spelled dyēws) is believed to have been the chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. Part of a larger pantheon, he was the god of the daylight sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society. In his aspect as a father god, his consort would have been Pltwih Méhter, “earth mother”.

One of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is the personification of dawn as a beautiful young woman. Her name is reconstructed as Hausōs (PIE *h₂ewsṓs- or *h₂ausōs-, an s-stem), besides numerous epithets. Derivatives of *h₂ewsṓs in the historical mythologies of Indo-European peoples include Indian Uṣas, Greek Ēōs, Latin Aurōra, and Baltic Aušra (“dawn”, c.f. Lithuanian Aušrinė). Germanic *Austrōn- is from an extended stem *hews-tro-.

Ēostre or Ostara is a Germanic goddess who, by way of the Germanic month bearing her name (Northumbrian: Ēosturmōnaþ; West Saxon: Ēastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth ), is the namesake of the festival of Easter in some languages. Ēostre is attested solely by Bede in his 8th-century work The Reckoning of Time, where Bede states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent of April), pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Ēostre’s honor, but that this tradition had died out by his time, replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.

The name *hewsṓs is derived from a root *hwes / *au̯es “to shine”, thus translating to “the shining one”. Both the English word east and the Latin auster “south” are from a root cognate adjective *aws-t(e)ro-. Also cognate is aurum “gold”, from *awso-. The name for “spring season”, *wes-r- is also from the same root.

Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *hewsṓs, a number of epithets of the dawn goddess may be reconstructed with some certainty. Among these is *wenos- (also an s-stem), whence Sanskrit vanas “loveliness; desire”, used of Uṣas in the Rigveda, and the Latin name Venus and the Norse Vanir.

The name indicates that the goddess was imagined as a beautiful nubile woman, who also had aspects of a love goddess. The love goddess aspect was separated from the personification of dawn in a number of traditions, including Roman Venus vs. Aurora, and Greek Aphrodite vs. Eos. The name of Aphrodite Άφροδίτη may still preserve her role as a dawn goddess, etymologized as “she who shines from the foam [ocean]” (from aphros “foam” and deato “to shine”).

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

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

The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European new year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus).

The abduction and imprisonment of the dawn goddess, and her liberation by a heroic god slaying the dragon who imprisons her, is a central myth of Indo-European religion, reflected in numerous traditions. Most notably, it is the central myth of the Rigveda, a collection of hymns surrounding the Soma rituals dedicated to Indra in the new year celebrations of the early Indo-Aryans.

This deity is not directly attested; rather, scholars have reconstructed this deity from the languages and cultures of later Indo-European peoples such as the Greeks, Latins, and Indo-Aryans. According to this scholarly reconstruction, Dyeus was addressed as Dyeu Phter, literally “sky father” or “shining father”, as reflected in Latin Iūpiter, Diēspiter, possibly Dis Pater and deus pater, Greek Zeu pater, Sanskrit Dyàuṣpítaḥ.

Dīs Pater was a Roman god of the underworld, later subsumed by Pluto or Hades (Hades was Greek). Originally a chthonic god of riches, fertile agricultural land, and underground mineral wealth, he was later commonly equated with the Roman deities Pluto and Orcus, becoming an underworld deity.

Dīs Pater was commonly shortened to simply Dīs. This name has since become an alternative name for the underworld or a part of the underworld, such as the City of Dis of The Divine Comedy.

Cicero in his De Natura Deorum derives the name of Dīs Pater from dives, suggesting a meaning of “father of riches”, directly corresponding to the name Pluto (from Ploutōn, meaning “wealthy”).

According to some 19th century authors many of Cicero’s etymological derivations are not to be taken seriously, and may indeed have been intended ironically, however, this particular derivation of Cicero’s has been accepted by some contemporary authors, some even suggesting that Dīs Pater is a direct loan translation of Ploutōn. Alternatively, he may be a secondary reflex of the same god as Jupiter (Proto-Indo-European Dyeus Phter).

Like Pluto, Dīs Pater eventually became associated with death and the underworld because the wealth of the earth—gems and precious metals—was considered in the domain of the Greco-Roman underworld. As a result, Dīs Pater was over time conflated with the Greek god Hades.

In being conflated with Pluto, Dīs Pater took on some of the Greek mythological attributes of Pluto/Hades, being one of the three sons of Saturn (Greek: Cronus) and Ops (Greek: Rhea), along with Jupiter and Neptune. He ruled the underworld and the dead beside his wife, Proserpina (Greek: Persephone). In literature, Dīs Pater was commonly used as a symbolic and poetic way of referring to death itself.

In Greek mythology, Persephone, also called Kore or Cora (“the maiden”), is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter, and is the queen of the underworld. 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. In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina, and her mother, Ceres.

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 Attis, Adonis and Osiris, and in Minoan Crete.

Persephone as a vegetation goddess and her mother Demeter were the central figures of the Eleusinian mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon and promised the initiated a more enjoyable prospect after death. Persephone is further said to have become by Zeus the mother of Dionysus, Iacchus, or Zagreus, usually in orphic tradition. The origins of her cult are uncertain, but it was based on very old agrarian cults of agricultural communities.

Persephone was commonly worshipped along with Demeter and with the same mysteries. To her alone were dedicated the mysteries celebrated at Athens in the month of Anthesterion. In Classical Greek art, Persephone is invariably portrayed robed, often carrying a sheaf of grain. She may appear as a mystical divinity with a sceptre and a little box, but she was mostly represented in the process of being carried off by Hades.

Istanu (Ištanu; from Hattic Estan, “Sun-god”) was the Hittite and Hattic god of the sun. In Luwian he was known as Tiwaz or Tijaz. He was a god of judgement, and was depicted bearing a winged sun on his crown or head-dress, and a crooked staff.

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 rendered as Tius or Tio and also formally as Mars Thincsus.

In the late Icelandic Eddas, Týr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda), while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon since his name is ultimately cognate to that of *Dyeus (cf. Dyaus), the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion.

It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war.

Týr is a god of war and will take mead, meat and blood for sacrifice. If a warrior carved the rune Tîwaz on his weapon he would be dedicating it to Týr and strengthen the outcome of a battle to be in his favor. 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.

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.This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus.

Dione is the name of four women in ancient Greek mythology, and one in the Phoenician mythology of Sanchuniathon. Dione is translated as “Goddess”, and given the same etymological derivation as the names Zeus, Diana, et al. Very little information exists about these nymphs or goddesses, although at least one is described as beautiful and is sometimes associated with water or the sea. Perhaps this same one was worshiped as a mother goddess who presided over the oracle at Dodona, Greece and was called the mother of Aphrodite.

One Dione is identified as the mother of the Roman goddess of love, Venus, or equivalently as the mother of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite; but Dione is also sometimes identified with Aphrodite.

Dione is among the Titanides or Titanesses. She is called a daughter of Okeanos and Tethys, hence an Oceanid, a water-nymph. She is otherwise called a daughter of Gaia; according to worshippers of Orpheus her father is the sky-god Uranus, while others identify her father as Aether. She and Zeus are called the parents of Aphrodite by some ancient sources. Hesiod listed Dione among the wives of Zeus who were daughters of Tethys and Okeanos; she is described as beautiful in the “sacred books of Orpheus”. She was one of the goddesses assembled to witness the birth of Apollo.

The Greek goddess of love sometimes takes the name Dione: this may identify her with Aphrodite, though Homer calls Dione the mother of Aphrodite. Károly Kerényi notes in this context that the name Dione resembles the Latin name Diana, and is a feminine form of the name Zeus (cf Latin deus, god), hence meaning “goddess of the bright sky”. This association does not prevent her, however, from being worshipped along with Zeus as a deity of springs, making her a water-goddess.

In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon, and nature being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was eventually equated with the Greek goddess Artemis. Diana was known to be the virgin goddess of childbirth and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses, along with Minerva and Vesta, who swore never to marry.

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

On the Tablets of Pylos a theonym diwia is supposed as referring to a deity precursor of Artemis. Modern scholars mostly accept the identification. The ancient Latin writers Varro and Cicero considered the etymology of Dīāna as allied to that of dies and connected to the shine of the Moon.

In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. In the Poetic Edda, Prose Edda, and Heimskringla, Hel is referred to as a daughter of Loki, and to “go to Hel” is to die. In the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, Hel is described as having been appointed by the god Odin as ruler of a realm of the same name, located in Niflheim.

In the same source, her appearance is described as half blue and half flesh-coloured and further as having a gloomy, downcast appearance. The Prose Edda details that Hel rules over vast mansions with many servants in her underworld realm and plays a key role in the attempted resurrection of the god Baldr.

Scholarly theories have been proposed about Hel’s potential connections to figures appearing in the 11th century Old English Gospel of Nicodemus and Old Norse Bartholomeus saga postola, that she may have been considered a goddess with potential Indo-European parallels in Bhavani, Kali, and Mahakali or that Hel may have become a being only as a late personification of the location of the same name.

In Norse mythology, Nanna Nepsdóttir or simply Nanna is a goddess associated with the god Baldr (“lord, prince, king”). Accounts of Nanna vary greatly by source. In the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, Nanna is the wife of Baldr and the couple produced a son, the god Forseti (Old Norse “the presiding one,” actually “president” in Modern Icelandic and Faroese), an Æsir god of justice and reconciliation.

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

Shiva (Sanskrit: Śiva, lit. the auspicious one) is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme god within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism.

In the Skanda Purana, a Hindu religious text, Mars is known as the deity Mangala and was born from the sweat of Shiva. The planet is called Angaraka in Sanskrit, after the celibate god of war who possesses the signs of Aries and Scorpio, and teaches the occult sciences.

Shiva is “the transformer” within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. In Shaivism tradition, Shiva is the Supreme being who creates, protects and transforms the universe. In the goddess tradition of Hinduism called Shaktism, the goddess is described as supreme, yet Shiva is revered along with Vishnu and Brahma. A goddess is stated to be the energy and creative power (Shakti) of each, with Parvati the equal complementary partner of Shiva. He is one of the five equivalent deities in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta tradition of Hinduism.

At the highest level, Shiva is regarded as formless, limitless, transcendent and unchanging absolute Brahman, and the primal Atman (soul, self) of the universe. Shiva has many benevolent and fearsome depictions. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya. In his fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also known as Adiyogi Shiva regarded as the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts.

The main iconographical attributes of Shiva are the third eye on his forehead, the serpent around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the trishula as his weapon and the damaru. Shiva is usually worshiped in the aniconic form of Lingam.

Parvati is the Hindu goddess of fertility, love and devotion; as well as of divine strength and power. She is the gentle and nurturing aspect of the Hindu goddess Shakti and one of the central deities of the Goddess-oriented Shakta sect. She is the mother goddess in Hinduism, and has many attributes and aspects. Each of her aspects is expressed with a different name, giving her over 100 names in regional Hindu stories of India.

Parvati is the wife of the Hindu god Shiva – the protector and regenerator of universe and all life. She is the daughter of the mountain king Himavan and mother Mena. Parvati is the mother of Hindu deities Ganesha and Kartikeya. Some communities also believe her to be the sister of the god Vishnu and the river-goddess Ganga.

With Shiva, Parvati is a central deity in the Shaiva sect. In Hindu belief, she is the recreative energy and power of Shiva, and she is the cause of a bond that connects all beings and a means of their spiritual release. In Hindu temples dedicated to her and Shiva, she is symbolically represented as the argha or yoni.

The apparent contradiction that Parvati is addressed as the fair one, Gauri, as well as the dark one, Kali or Shyama, as a calm and placid wife Parvati mentioned as Gauri and as a goddess who destroys evil she is Kali. Regional stories of Gauri suggest an alternate origin for Gauri’s name and complexion. In parts of India, Gauri’s skin color is golden or yellow in honor of her being the goddess of ripened corn/harvest and of fertility.

Parvati is closely related in symbolism and powers as Cybele of Greek and Roman mythology and as Vesta the guardian goddess of children. In her manifestation as Durga, Parvati parallels Mater Montana. She is the equivalent of Magna Mater (Universal Mother). As Kali and punisher of all evil, she corresponds to Proserpine and Diana Taurica.

As Bhawani and goddess of fertility and birthing, she is the symbolic equivalent of Ephesian Diana. In Crete, Rhea is the mythological figure, goddess of the mountains, paralleling Parvati; while in some mythologies from islands of Greece, the terrifying goddess mirroring Parvati is Diktynna (also called Britomartis). At Ephesus, Cybele is shown with lions, just like iconography of Parvati is sometimes shown with a lion.

Carl Jung, in Mysterium Coniunctionis, states that aspects of Parvati belong to the same category of black goddesses as Artemis, Isis and Mary. Edmund Leach equates Parvati in her relationship with Shiva, with that of Greek goddess Aphrodite – a symbol of sexual love.

The “Trimūrti” (“three forms”) is the trinity of supreme divinity in Hinduism in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified as a triad of deities, typically Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer or transformer, though individual denominations may vary from that particular line-up. When all three deities of the Trimurti incarnate into a single avatar, the avatar is known as Dattatreya. However, ancient Hindu texts mention other trinities of gods or goddesses, which do not include Brahma.

Vishnu is one of the principal deities of Hinduism, and the Supreme Being in its Vaishnavism tradition. In Vaishnavism, Vishnu is identical to the formless metaphysical concept called Brahman, the supreme, the Svayam Bhagavan, who takes various avatars as “the preserver, protector” whenever the world is threatened with evil, chaos, and destructive forces.

His avatars (incarnations) most notably include Krishna in the Mahabharata and Rama in the Ramayana. He is also known as Narayana, Jagannatha, Vasudeva, Vithoba, and Hari. He is one of the five equivalent deities worshipped in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta Tradition of Hinduism.

In Hindu inconography, Vishnu is usually depicted as having a dark, or pale blue complexion and having four arms. He holds a padma (lotus flower) in his lower left hand, Kaumodaki gada (mace) in his lower right hand, Panchajanya shankha (conch) in his upper left hand and the Sudarshana Chakra (discus) in his upper right hand.

A traditional depiction is Lord Vishnu reclining on the coils of Ananta, accompanied by his consort devi Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity, as he “dreams the universe into reality”. Lakshmi is the shakti (energy) of Vishnu.

In Hindu mythologies, she was born from the churning of the primordial ocean (Samudra manthan) and she chose Vishnu as her eternal consort. When Vishnu descended on the Earth as the avatars Rama and Krishna, Lakshmi descended as his respective consort Sita (Rama’s wife) and Rukmini (Krishna’s wife).

In the ancient scriptures of India, all women are declared to be embodiments of Lakshmi. The marriage and relationship between Lakshmi and Vishnu as wife and husband, is the paradigm for rituals and ceremonies for the bride and groom in Hindu weddings. Lakshmi is considered another aspect of the same supreme goddess principle in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism.

Lakshmi is depicted in Indian art as an elegantly dressed, prosperity showering golden-coloured woman with owl as her vehicle, signifying the importance of economic activity in maintenance of life, her ability to move, work and prevail in confusing darkness. She typically stands or sits like a yogin on a lotus pedestal and holds lotus in her hand, a symbolism for fortune, self-knowledge and spiritual liberation. Her iconography shows her with four hands, which represent the four goals of human life considered important to the Hindu way of life – dharma, kāma, artha, and moksha.

Brahma is the creator god in the Trimurti of Hinduism. He has four faces, looking in the four directions. He is also known as Svayambhu (self-born), Vāgīśa (Lord of Speech), and the creator of the four Vedas, one from each of his mouths. Brahma is identified with the Vedic god Prajapati, as well as linked to Kama and Hiranyagarbha (the cosmic egg), he is more prominently mentioned in the post-Vedic Hindu epics and the mythologies in the Puranas. In the epics, he is conflated with Purusha.

While Brahma is often credited as the creator of the universe and various beings in it, several Puranas describe him being born from a lotus emerging from the navel of the god Vishnu. Other Puranas suggest that he is born from Shiva or his aspects, or he is a supreme god in diverse versions of Hindu mythology. Brahma, along with all dieties, is sometimes viewed as a form (saguna) of the otherwise formless (nirguna) Brahman, the ultimate metaphysical reality and cosmic soul in Advaita philosophy.

Brahma does not enjoy popular worship in present-age Hinduism and has lesser importance than the other members of the Trimurti, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma is revered in ancient texts, yet rarely worshipped as a primary deity in India.

Saraswati, the consort of Brahma, is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and learning. She is a part of the trinity (Tridevi) of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati. All the three forms help the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to create, maintain and regenerate-recycle the Universe respectively.

The earliest known mention of Saraswati as a goddess is in the Rigveda. She has remained significant as a goddess from the Vedic period through modern times of Hindu traditions. Some Hindus celebrate the festival of Vasant Panchami (the fifth day of spring) in her honour, and mark the day by helping young children learn how to write alphabets on that day.

Kālī, also known as Kālikā, is a Hindu goddess. Her earliest appearance is that of a destroyer principally of evil forces. She is the goddess of one of the four subcategories of the Kulamārga, a category of tantric Saivism. Over time, she has been worshipped by devotional movements and tantric sects variously as the Divine Mother, Mother of the Universe, Adi Shakti, or Adi Parashakti. Shakta Hindu and Tantric sects additionally worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman. She is also seen as divine protector and the one who bestows moksha, or liberation.

Kālī is the feminine form of kālam (“black, dark coloured”). Kālī also shares the meaning of “time”, “one who is time” or “the fullness of time” with the masculine noun “kāla”—and by extension, time as “that which brings all things to life or an end.” Other names include Kālarātri (“the night of death” or “the night of destruction”), and Kālikā (“the black one”).

The homonymous kāla, “appointed time”, which depending on context can mean “death”, is distinct from kāla “black”, but became associated through popular etymology. The association is seen in a passage from the Mahābhārata, depicting a female figure who carries away the spirits of slain warriors and animals. She is called kālarātri (which Thomas Coburn, a historian of Sanskrit Goddess literature, translates as “night of death”) and also kālī (which, as Coburn notes, can be read here either as a proper name or as a description “the black one”). Kālī is also the feminine form of Kāla, an epithet of Shiva, and thus the consort of Shiva.

Kali is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her. Kali is standing calm on Shiva ,her appearance represents the preservation of mother nature. Her free, long and black hair represents nature’s freedom from civilization. Under the third eye of kali, the signs of both sun, moon and fire are visible which represent the driving forces of nature. Kali is not always thought of as a Dark Goddess. Despite Kali’s origins in battle, She evolved to a full-fledged symbol of Mother Nature in Her creative, nurturing and devouring aspects. She is referred to as a great and loving primordial Mother Goddess in the Hindu tantric tradition.

Kali is portrayed mostly in two forms: the popular four-armed form and the ten-armed Mahakali form. In both of her forms, she is described as being black in colour but is most often depicted as blue in popular Indian art. Her eyes are described as red with intoxication, and in absolute rage, her hair is shown disheveled, small fangs sometimes protrude out of her mouth, and her tongue is lolling.

She is often shown naked or just wearing a skirt made of human arms and a garland of human heads. She is also accompanied by serpents and a jackal while standing on the calm and prostrate Shiva, usually right foot forward to symbolize the more popular Dakshinamarga or right-handed path, as opposed to the more infamous and transgressive Vamamarga or left-handed path.

Mahakali (literally translated as Great Kali, is sometimes considered as a greater form of Kali, identified with the Ultimate reality of Brahman. It can also be used as an honorific of the Goddess Kali, signifying her greatness by the prefix “Mahā-“.

Mahakali, in Sanskrit, is etymologically the feminized variant of Mahakala or Great Time (which is interpreted also as Death), an epithet of the God Shiva in Hinduism. Mahakali is the presiding Goddess of the first episode of the Devi Mahatmya. Here she is depicted as Devi in her universal form as Shakti. Here Devi serves as the agent who allows the cosmic order to be restored.

The Lingam (also linga, ling, Shiva linga, Shiv ling, meaning sign, symbol or phallus) is an abstract or aniconic representation of the Hindu deity, Shiva, used for worship in temples, smaller shrines, or as self-manifested natural objects. In traditional Indian society, the lingam is seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of Shiva himself.

The lingam is often represented alongside the yoni (Sanskrit word, literally “origin” or “source” or “womb”), a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti, female creative energy. The union of lingam and yoni represents the “indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female, the passive space and active time from which all life originates”.

An omphalos is a religious stone artifact, or baetylus. In Greek, the word omphalos means “navel”. In Greek lore, Zeus sent two eagles across the world to meet at its center, the “navel” of the world.

Omphalos stones marking the centre were erected in several places about the Mediterranean Sea. Omphalos is also the name of the stone given to Cronus. In the ancient world of the Mediterranean, it was a powerful religious symbol. The omphalos was not only an object of Hellenic religious symbolism and world centrality; it was also considered an object of power. Its symbolic references included the uterus, the phallus, and a cup of red wine representing royal blood lines.

The omphalos at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, represents, in Christian mediaeval tradition, the navel of the world (the spiritual and cosmological centre of the world). Jewish tradition held that God revealed himself to His people through the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple in Jerusalem, which rested on the Foundation stone marking the centre of the world.

Ekur is a Sumerian term meaning “mountain house”. It is the assembly of the gods in the Garden of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus and was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer.

There is a clear association of Ziggurats with mountain houses. Mountain houses play a certain role in Mesopotamian mythology and Assyro-Babylonian religion, associated with deities such as Anu, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursag. In the Hymn to Enlil, the Ekur is closely linked to Enlil whilst in Enlil and Ninlil it is the abode of the Annanuki, from where Enlil is banished. The fall of Ekur is described in the Lament for Ur.

In mythology, the Ekur was the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united. It is also known as Duranki and one of its structures is known as the Kiur (“great place”). Enamtila (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.

A hymn to Nanna illustrates the close relationship between temples, houses and mountains. “In your house on high, in your beloved house, I will come to live, O Nanna, up above in your cedar perfumed mountain”. This was carried-on into later tradition in the Bible by the prophet Micah who envisions “the mountain of the temple of Yahweh”.

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

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

Aries (meaning “ram”) is the first astrological sign in the zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°). Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign mostly between March 21 and April 19 each year. Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from April 15 to May 14 (approximately). The symbol of the ram is based on the Chrysomallus, the flying ram that provided the Golden Fleece. In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece is the fleece of the gold-hair[a] winged ram, which was held in Colchis. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship.

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

March is the third month of the year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. It is the second month to have a length of 31 days. In the Northern Hemisphere, the meteorological beginning of spring occurs on the first day of March. The March equinox on the 20th or 21st marks the astronomical beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, where September is the seasonal equivalent of the Northern Hemisphere’s March.

The name of March comes from Latin Martius, the first month of the earliest Roman calendar. It was named for Mars, the Roman god of war who was also regarded as a guardian of agriculture and an ancestor of the Roman people through his sons Romulus and Remus. His month Martius was the beginning of the season for both farming and warfare, and the festivals held in his honor during the month were mirrored by others in October, when the season for these activities came to a close.

Martius remained the first month of the Roman calendar year perhaps as late as 153 BC, and several religious observances in the first half of the month were originally new year’s celebrations. Even in late antiquity, Roman mosaics picturing the months sometimes still placed March first. March 1 began the numbered year in Russia until the end of the 15th century.

Great Britain and its colonies continued to use March 25 until 1752, when they finally adopted the Gregorian calendar (the fiscal year in the UK continues to begin on the 6th April, initially identical to 25 March in the former Julian calendar). Many other cultures and religions still celebrate the beginning of the New Year in March.

March is the first month of spring in the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Europe, Asia and part of Africa) and the first month of fall or autumn in the Southern Hemisphere (South America, part of Africa, and Oceania).

Maria is a female given name in many diverse languages. In the Roman Empire, the name was used as a feminine form of the Roman name Marius. Mary, also known by various titles, styles and honorifics, was a 1st-century Galilean Jewish woman of Nazareth and the mother of Jesus, according to the New Testament and the Quran.

The name became popular with the spread of Christianity as a Latinized form of the Hebrew name of Jesus’ mother Mary (Miriam in Hebrew or Maryam in Aramaic). As a result of their similarity and syncretism, the Latin original name Maria and the Hebrew-derived Maria combined to form a single name.

The meaning of the Semitic-rooted name is uncertain, but it may originally be an Egyptian name, probably derived from mry “beloved” or mr “love” (“eminent lady” or “beloved lady”). The meaning of the Latin-rooted name is similarly ambiguous, possibly deriving from mare (“sea” in Latin), maris (“male”), or the name of the god Mars.

The gospels of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament describe Mary as a virgin and Christians believe that she conceived her son while a virgin by the Holy Spirit. The miraculous birth took place when she was already betrothed to Joseph and was awaiting the concluding rite of marriage, the formal home-taking ceremony. She married Joseph and accompanied him to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.

The Gospel of Luke begins its account of Mary’s life with the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and announced her divine selection to be the mother of Jesus. According to canonical gospel accounts, Mary was present at the crucifixion and is depicted as a member of the early Christian community in Jerusalem.

According to the Catholic and Orthodox teaching, at the end of her earthly life her body was assumed to have been taken directly into Heaven; this is known in the West as the Assumption. In the Middle Ages, Virgo was sometimes associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Greeks and Romans associated Virgo with their goddess of wheat/agriculture, Demeter-Ceres who is the mother of Persephone-Proserpina. Alternatively, she was sometimes identified as the virgin goddess Iustitia or Astraea, holding the scales of justice in her hand as the constellation Libra.

Another myth identifies Virgo as Erigone, the daughter of Icarius of Athens. 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 and Virgo respectively.

Astraea or Astrea (“star-maiden”), in ancient Greek religion, was a daughter of Astraeus and Eos. She was the virgin goddess of innocence and purity and is always associated with the Greek goddess of justice, Dike (daughter of Zeus and Themis and the personification of just judgement).

Astraea, the celestial virgin, was the last of the immortals to live with humans during the Golden Age, one of the old Greek religion’s five deteriorating Ages of Man. According to Ovid, Astraea abandoned the earth during the Iron Age.

Fleeing from the new wickedness of humanity, she ascended to heaven to become the constellation Virgo. The nearby constellation Libra reflected her symbolic association with Dike, who in Latin culture as Justitia is said to preside over the constellation. In the Tarot, the 8th card, Justice, with a figure of Justitia, can thus be considered related to the figure of Astraea on historical iconographic grounds.

According to legend, Astraea will one day come back to Earth, bringing with her the return of the utopian Golden Age of which she was the ambassador.

Queen of Heaven was a title given to a number of ancient sky goddesses in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, in particular Anat, Isis, Inanna, Astarte, Hera and possibly Asherah (by the prophet Jeremiah). In Greco-Roman times Hera, and her Roman aspect Juno bore this title. Elsewhere, Nordic Frigg also bore this title. Forms and content of worship varied.

Hebat, also transcribed, Kheba or Khepat, was the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”. She is also a Queen of the deities. During Aramaean times Hebat also appears to have become identified with the goddess Hawwah, or Eve.

The Hittite sun goddess Arinniti was later assimilated with Hebat. A prayer of Queen Puduhepa makes this explicit: “To the Sun-goddess of Arinna, my lady, the mistress of the Hatti lands, the queen of Heaven and Earth. Sun-goddess of Arinna, thou art Queen of all countries! In the Hatti country thou bearest the name of the Sun-goddess of Arinna; but in the land which thou madest the cedar land thou bearest the name Hebat.”

In modern times, the title “Queen of Heaven” is still used by contemporary pagans to refer to the Great Goddess, while Catholics and Orthodox Christians now apply the ancient pagan title to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Queen of Heaven is a title given to the Virgin Mary by Christians mainly of the Roman Catholic Church, and also, to some extent, in Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglicanism. The title is a consequence of the First Council of Ephesus in the fifth century, in which the Virgin Mary was proclaimed “theotokos”, a title rendered in Latin as Mater Dei, in English “Mother of God”.

The Catholic teaching on this subject is expressed in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, issued by Pope Pius XII. It states that Mary is called Queen of Heaven because her son, Jesus Christ, is the king of Israel and heavenly king of the universe; indeed, the Davidic tradition of Israel recognized the mother of the king as the Queen Mother of Israel. The Eastern Orthodox Churches do not share the Catholic dogma, but themselves have a rich liturgical history in honor of Mary.

The title Queen of Heaven has long been a Catholic tradition, included in prayers and devotional literature, and seen in Western art in the subject of the Coronation of the Virgin, from the High Middle Ages, long before it was given a formal definition status by the Church.

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