Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The symbol of life – creation – spirit

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 8, 2016

The Pineal Gland is a tiny pine-cone-shaped endocrine gland about the size of a grain of rice, tucked in a small groove where the two halves of the thalamus join. Aside from regulating sleep and wakefulness through melatonin production, the pineal gland, also known as the third eye, has been referred to the principal seat of the soul and is a common focus of spirituality and mysticism.

Dionysus is the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy in Greek mythology. Wine played an important role in Greek culture with the cult of Dionysus the main religious focus for unrestrained consumption. He is sometimes categorised as a dying-and-rising god.

He holds a fennel staff, tipped with a pine-cone and known as a thyrsus. A thyrsus or thyrsos was a wand or staff of giant fennel (Ferula communis) covered with ivy vines and leaves, sometimes wound with taeniae and always topped with a pine cone.

The thyrsus, associated with Dionysus (or Bacchus) and his followers, the Satyrs and Maenads, is a symbol of prosperity, fertility, hedonism, and pleasure/enjoyment in general. It has been suggested that this was specifically a fertility phallus, with the fennel representing the shaft of the penis and the pine cone representing the “seed” issuing forth.

Sometimes the thyrsus was displayed in conjunction with a kantharos wine cup, another symbol of Dionysus, forming a male-and-female combination like that of the royal scepter and orb.

In Greek religion, the staff was carried by the votaries of Dionysus. Euripides wrote that honey dripped from the thyrsos staves that the Bacchic maenads carried. The thyrsus was a sacred instrument at religious rituals and fêtes.

The fabulous history of Bacchus relates that he converted the thyrsi carried by himself and his followers into dangerous weapons, by concealing an iron point in the head of leaves. Hence his thyrsus is called “a spear enveloped in vine-leaves”, and its point was thought to incite to madness.

Baldr (“lord, prince, king”) is a god in Norse mythology, who is given a central role in the mythology. Despite this his precise function is rather disputed. He is often interpreted as the god of love, peace, forgiveness, justice, light or purity, but was not directly attested as a god of such.

He is the second son of Odin and the goddess Frigg. His twin brother is the blind god Höðr. Tricked and guided by Loki, he shot the mistletoe arrow which was to slay the otherwise invulnerable Baldr. In reaction to this, Odin and the giantess Rindr gave birth to Váli, who grew to adulthood within a day and slew Höðr.

In Norse mythology, Nanna Nepsdóttir or simply Nanna is a goddess associated with the god Baldr. 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 in Norse mythology.

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

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. 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.

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 Mars symbol is a depiction of a circle with an arrow emerging from it, pointing at an angle to the upper right. As astrological symbol it represents the planet Mars (connected to the god Mars). In zoology and botany, it is used to represent the male sex (alongside the astrological symbol for Venus representing the female sex).

Týr is a Germanic god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. 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.

The Excerptum ex Gallica Historia of Ursberg (ca. 1135) records a dea Ciza as the patron goddess of Augsburg. According to this account, Cisaria was founded by Swabian tribes as a defence against Roman incursions. This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically. Dione is translated as “Goddess”, and given the same etymological derivation as the names Zeus, Diana, et al.

Tacitus relates that “ancient songs” (Latin carminibus antiquis) of the Germanic peoples celebrated Tuisto as “a god, born of the earth” (deum terra editum). These songs further attributed to him a son, Mannus, who in turn had three sons, the offspring of whom were referred to as Ingaevones, Herminones and Istaevones, living near the Ocean (proximi Oceano), in the interior (medii), and the remaining parts (ceteri) of the geographical region of Germania, respectively.

The names Mannus and Tuisto/Tuisco seem to have some relation to Proto-Germanic Mannaz, “man” and Tiwaz, “Tyr, the god”. Mannaz is the conventional name of the m-rune ᛗ of the Elder Futhark. It is derived from the reconstructed Common Germanic word for “man”, mannaz.

Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) is a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.

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. In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East.Sumerians gave the pineal gland the description of a pine cone. You can see it in all the symbolism encoded ancient art.

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.

Ngeshtin-ana is a minor goddess in Sumerian mythology, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”. The sister of Dumuzi and consort of Ningisida, she is involved in the account of Dumuzi trying to escape his fate at the hands of Inana and Ereshkigal. In her house he is changed into a gazelle before being caught and transported to the underworld.

She is the daughter of Enki and Ninhursag. When Dumuzi died, Geshtinanna lamentated days and nights. After her death, she became the goddess of wine and cold seasons. She is a divine poet and interpreter of dreams.

Geshtu-(E) (also Geshtu, Gestu) is, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology, a minor god of intelligence. Legend says that he was sacrificed by the great gods and his blood was used in the creation of mankind.

Ningishzida (sum: dnin-g̃iš-zid-da) is a Mesopotamian deity of the underworld. His name in Sumerian is translated as “lord of the good tree” by Thorkild Jacobsen. In Sumerian mythology, he appears in Adapa’s myth as one of the two guardians of Anu’s celestial palace, alongside Dumuzi. He was sometimes depicted as a serpent with a human head. In some texts Ningishzida is said to be female, which means “Nin” would then refer to Lady, which is mostly how the word is used by the Sumerians.

Ningishzida is sometimes the son of Ninazu and Ningiridda, even though the myth Ningishzida’s journey to the netherworld suggests he is the son of Ereshkigal. Following an inscription found at Lagash, he was the son of Anu, the heavens. His wife is Azimua, a goddess in Sumerian mythology, one of the eight deities born to relieve the illness of Enki, and also Geshtinanna, while his sister is Amashilama.

Ningishzida is the earliest known symbol of snakes twining around an axial rod. It predates the Caduceus of Hermes, the Rod of Asclepius and the biblical Nehushtan of Moses by more than a millennium. One Greek myth on the origin of the caduceus forms part of the story of Tieresias, who finds two snakes copulating and kills the female with his staff.

Wadjet, “the Green One”, the serpent goddess of Lower Egypt from the Pre-dynastic period, demonstrates the earliest known representation of a single serpent entwined around a pole – in this case a papyrus reed (refer to first glyph): Wadjet Hieroglyph.

An omphalos is a religious stone artifact, or baetylus. In Greek, the word omphalos means “navel”. 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. Omphalos stones were believed to allow direct communication with the gods.

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. This tradition may have stemmed from the similar one at Delphi. The omphalos has a collection box chained next to it.

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.

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.

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.

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”. Sacrifices and food offerings were brought by the king, described as “faithful shepherd” or “noble farmer”.

Nergal is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta. In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars) -hence the current name of the planet.

Nergal seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only representative of a certain phase of the sun. Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle. He has also been called “the king of sunset”.

In Babylonian astronomy, the stars Castor and Pollux were known as the Great Twins (MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL). The Twins were regarded as minor gods and were called Meshlamtaea and Lugalirra, meaning respectively ‘The One who has arisen from the Underworld’ and the ‘Mighty King’. Both names can be understood as titles of Nergal, the major Babylonian god of plague and pestilence, who was king of the Underworld.

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. Aplu may be related with Apaliunas who is considered to be the Hittite reflex of *Apeljōn, an early form of the name Apollo. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis, one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities.

In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis 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. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name, and indeed the goddess herself, was originally pre-Greek.

Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person. 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”.

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. In the ancient Sumerian poem, “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld,” Ereshkigal is described as Inanna’s older sister. The story of Inanna’s descent into the Underworld is by far the most well-known myth involving Ereshkigal. In later Babylonian mythology, Inanna was known as “Ishtar.”

Inanna and Ereshkigal represent polar opposites. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven, but Ereshkigal is the queen of Irkalla, the underworld from which there is no return.

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”.

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 linga is seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of Shiva himself.

In Shaivite Hindu temples, the linga is a smooth cylindrical mass symbolising Shiva and is worshipped as a symbol of generative power. It is found at the centre of the temple, often resting in the middle of a rimmed, disc-shaped yoni, a representation of Shakti.

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 linga and yoni represents the “indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female, the passive space and active time from which all life originates”.

Yama or Yamarāja, also called Imra, is a god of death, the south direction and the underworld, belonging to an early stratum of Rigvedic Hindu deities. In Sanskrit, his name can be interpreted to mean “twin”. In the Zend-Avesta of Zoroastrianism, he is called “Yima”.

According to the Vishnu Purana, his parents are the sun-god Surya and Sanjna, the daughter of Vishvakarman. Yama is the brother of Sraddhadeva Manu, the current Manu, and of his older sister Yami, which Horace Hayman Wilson indicates to mean the Yamuna. According to Harivamsa Purana her name is Daya.

In the Vedas, Yama is said to have been the first mortal who died. By virtue of precedence, he became the ruler of the departed, and is called “Lord of the Pitrs”, the spirits of the departed ancestors in Hindu culture. The Pitṛs are most primeval deities and they never cease to exist. The manuṣyāḥ pitaraḥ (ancestors of human beings) can attain the same level of the divine Pitṛs and live with them in heaven by righteousness.

In Buddhism, Yama is a dharmapala (wrathful god) said to judge the dead and preside over the Narakas (“Hells” or “Purgatories”) and the cycle of rebirth. Incorporating ideas from Taoism and Buddhism as well as traditional religion in China, Di Yu is a kind of purgatory place which serves not only to punish but also to renew spirits ready for their next incarnation. This is interchangeable with the concept of Naraka.

In a disputable etymology, W. Meid (1992) has linked the names Yama (reconstructed in Proto-Indo-European as *yemos) and the name of the primeval Norse frost giant Ymir, which can be reconstructed in Proto-Germanic as *umijaz or *jumijaz, in the latter case possibly deriving from PIE ym̥yos, from the root yem “twin”. In his myth, however, Ymir is not a twin, and only shares with Yama the characteristics of being primeval and mortal. However, Ymir is a hermaphrodite and engenders the race of giants.

According to Tacitus’s Germania (98 CE), Tuisto (or Tuisco) is the divine ancestor of the Germanic peoples. In the larger Indo-European pantheon, Tuisto is equated to the Indic/Vedic Tvastar, the first-born creator of the universe.

The term, also transliterated as Tvaṣṭr, nominative Tvaṣṭā, is the heavenly builder, the maker of divine implements, especially Indra’s Vajra and the guardian of Soma. Tvaṣṭṛ is mentioned in the Ṛgveda and is the former of the bodies of men and animals,’ and invoked when desiring offspring, called garbha-pati or the lord of the womb. The term Tvaṣṭṛ is mentioned in the Mitanni treaty, which establishes him as a proto-Indo-Iranian divinity.

The Germania manuscript corpus contains two primary variant readings of the name. Root of the word is from the Hindu Vedic ‘Tvasthar’ – father of Manu, the Hindu progenitor of mankind.

The most frequently occurring, Tuisto, is commonly connected to the Proto-Germanic root *tvai- “two” and its derivative *tvis- “twice” or “doubled”, thus giving Tuisto the core meaning “double”.

Any assumption of a gender inference is entirely conjectural, as the tvia/tvis roots are also the roots of any number of other concepts/words in the Germanic languages. Take for instance the Germanic “twist”, which, in all but the English has the primary meaning of “dispute/conflict”.

The second variant of the name, occurring originally in manuscript E, reads Tuisco. One proposed etymology for this variant reconstructs a Proto-Germanic *tiwisko and connects this with Proto-Germanic *Tiwaz, giving the meaning “son of Tiu”. This interpretation would thus make Tuisco the son of the sky-god (Proto-Indo-European *Dyeus) and the earth-goddess.

Connections have been proposed between the 1st century figure of Tuisto and the hermaphroditic primeval being Ymir in later Norse mythology, attested in 13th century sources, based upon etymological and functional similarity.

Meyer (1907) sees the connection as so strong, that he considers the two to be identical. Lindow (2001), while mindful of the possible semantic connection between Tuisto and Ymir, notes an essential functional difference: while Ymir is portrayed as an “essentially … negative figure” – Tuisto is described as being “celebrated” (celebrant) by the early Germanic peoples in song, with Tacitus reporting nothing negative about Tuisto.

In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (also yin-yang or yin yang, yīnyáng “dark—bright”) describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

Many tangible dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water, expanding and contracting) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality symbolized by yin and yang.

This duality lies at the origins of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy, as well as being a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine, and a central principle of different forms of Chinese martial arts and exercise, such as baguazhang, taijiquan (t’ai chi), and qigong (Chi Kung), as well as appearing in the pages of the I Ching.

Duality is found in many belief systems, but Yin and Yang are parts of a Oneness that is also equated with the Tao. A term has been coined dualistic-monism or dialectical monism. Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts.

Everything has both yin and yang aspects, (for instance shadow cannot exist without light). Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation. The yin yang (i.e. taijitu symbol) shows a balance between two opposites with a portion of the opposite element in each section.

In Taoist metaphysics, distinctions between good and bad, along with other dichotomous moral judgments, are perceptual, not real; so, the duality of yin and yang is an indivisible whole. In the ethics of Confucianism on the other hand, most notably in the philosophy of Dong Zhongshu (c. 2nd century BC), a moral dimension is attached to the idea of yin and yang.

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