The key to understand our mythology
Posted by Fredsvenn on December 8, 2016
Odin (Mercury – Enki) has taken the place of Balder (Dionysus – Tammuz) man to Nanna – Frigg / Freyja (Inanna – Venus)
Njord (Saturn – Enlil) has taken the palace of Tyr (Dyeus – Dis Pater / Mars – Apollo) man to Nerthus (Nerio) – Hel (Proserpina – Ereshkigal)
Sumerian Inanna (In-anna): – Hurrian Inara (In-ara) – Germanic Nanna – Roman Diana (Di-ana) – Greek Dione (Di-one)
The Sun god: Apollo / Sol – UD / Shamash / Nergal
Balder – God of light and justice
Tyr – Tiwas / Istanu – the Sun god
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.
Sun: Sol (Helios) – Apollo
The Sun God (“the supreme light”) – the god of prophecy
The Sun is the ruling planet of Leo and is exalted in Aries
Moon: Luna (Selene) – Diana (Artemis)
Lunar incarnation Goddess of hunt – Associated with impatience of human nature
The Moon is the ruling planet of Cancer
Mars: God of war and son of Earth, associated with unluckiness of brides, and with strength
Mars is the ruling planet of Aries and Scorpio
God of “Duty”: Punishes the person who does not do his/her duty properly
The planet is associated with ambition, authority, commanding status, discipline, patience, honor, toughness, but also with pessimism, hardships, and fatalism
Saturn is the ruling planet of Capricorn and Aquarius
Mercury: Messenger god – A planet god known for his preserving and protecting nature to mankind and malehood”
Mercury is the ruling planet of Gemini and Virgo
Dingir – Dyeus / Dis Pater – Mars / Dionysus – Tyr / Balder – Deus
Jesus is Tammuz / Nergal – March
Ner (Njord / North) means the underworld
Tyr is the leader of the Asir, while Balder is the leader of the Vanir, a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, nature, magic, and the ability to see the future. Numerous theories have been proposed for the etymology of Vanir.
Scholar R. I. Page says that, while there are no shortages of etymologies for the word, it is tempting to link the word with “Old Norse vinr, ‘friend’, and Latin Venus, ‘goddess of physical love.'” In Norse mythology, the two pantheons wage the Æsir–Vanir War, which results in a unified pantheon.
Inanna – the world of the living – February / Pisces
(Pisces is the twelfth and the last astrological sign in the Zodiac)
Ereshkigal – the dead / the new beginning – transformation
God is Enlil / Enki – December / Capricorn
– or does God includes all the gods?
(Enlil is the Polar star – North (Njord) – Enki – is Capricorn – South (Odin)
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
Nergal / Ereshkigal – Tammuz / Inanna
Mars / Venus – Dionysus / Ariadne
Yama / Yami – Ying / Yang
Consort of Enlil is Ninlil, while the consort of Enki is Ninhursag
Anu (in Akkadian; Sumerian: An, from 𒀭An “sky, heaven”) is the earliest attested Sky Father deity. In Sumerian religion, he was also “King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven”, where Anu himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions.
An/Anu frequently receives the epithet “father of the gods,” and many deities are described as his children in one context or another. 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.
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, or Enmešarra, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East.
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.
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.
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 *hewsṓs- or *hausōs-, an s-stem), besides numerous epithets.
Derivatives of *hewsṓs 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 *h₂ews-tro-.
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, *h₂ewsṓs, 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 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.
Ushas, Sanskrit for “dawn”, is a Vedic deity, and consequently a Hindu deity as well. Sanskrit uṣas is an s-stem, i.e. the genitive case is uṣásas. It is from PIE *hausos-, cognate to Greek Eos and Latin Aurora. In the “family books” of the Rig Veda, Ushas is the divine daughter—a divó duhitâ —of Dyaus Pita (“Sky Father”). This is taken literally in the traditional genealogies of Hindu mythology.
Ushas is an exalted goddess in the Rig Veda but less prominent in post-Rigvedic texts. She is often spoken of in the plural, “the Dawns.” She is portrayed as warding off evil spirits of the night, and as a beautifully adorned young woman riding in a golden chariot on her path across the sky. Due to her color she is often identified with the reddish cows, and both are released by Indra from the Vala cave at the beginning of time.
In one recent Hindu interpretation, Sri Aurobindo in his Secret of the Veda, described Ushas as “the medium of the awakening, the activity and the growth of the other gods; she is the first condition of the Vedic realisation. By her increasing illumination the whole nature of man is clarified; through her [mankind] arrives at the Truth, through her he enjoys [Truth’s] beatitude.”
Inanna (Neo-Assyrian) MUŠ; Sumerian: Inanna; Akkadian: Ištar) was the Sumerian goddess of love, beauty, sexual desire, fertility, knowledge, wisdom, war, and combat. Inanna also was associated with rain and storms and with the planet Venus, the morning and evening star. as was the Greco-Roman goddess Aphrodite or Venus. 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.
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. The city Aratta is structured as a mirror image of Uruk, only Aratta has natural resources (i.e. gold, silver, lapis lazuli) that Uruk needs.
Aratta 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.
Inanna has a central role in the myth of Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta. A major theme in the narrative is the rivalry between the rulers of Aratta and Uruk for the heart of Inanna. Enmerkar, king in Uruk, comes to Inanna requesting that a temple be built in Uruk with stones from Aratta, and she orders him to find a messenger to cross the Zubi mountains and go to the Lord of Aratta demanding precious metals for the temple. Ultimately, this rivalry results in natural resources coming to Uruk and the invention of writing.
The goddess Inanna resides in Aratta, but Enmerkar of Uruk pleases her more than does the lord of Aratta, who is not named in this epic. Inanna was the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk. Muṣaṣir (Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake), in Urartian Ardini was an ancient city of Urartu, attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC.
In the late Icelandic Eddas, Týr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda). However, 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.
The origins of Tyr 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.
Rooted in the related but distinct Indo-European word *deiwos is the Latin word for deity, deus. The Latin word is also continued in English divine, “deity”, and the original Germanic word remains visible in “Tuesday” (“Day of Tīwaz”) and Old Norse tívar, which may be continued in the toponym Tiveden (“Wood of the Gods”, or of Týr).
Dyēus 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”.
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.
As the pantheons of the individual mythologies related to the Proto-Indo-European religion evolved, attributes of Dyeus seem to have been redistributed to other deities. In Greek and Roman mythology, Dyeus remained the chief god; however, in Vedic mythology, the etymological continuant of Dyeus became a very abstract god, and his original attributes and dominance over other gods appear to have been transferred to gods such as Agni or Indra.
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. The t-rune ᛏ is named after Týr, and was identified with this god. The reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *Tîwaz or *Teiwaz. 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 cognate term of Asir in Old English is ōs (plural ēse) denoting a deity in Anglo-Saxon paganism. The Old High German is ans, plural ensî. Ensi (spelled pa.te.si in cuneiform script, hence occasionally transliterated “patesi”; possibly derived from en si-k, “lord of the plowland”; borrowed into Akkadian as iššakkum) is a Sumerian language title designating the ruler or prince of a city-state. Originally it may have designated an independent ruler, but in later periods the title presupposed subordinance to a lugal.
The Gothic language had ans- (based only on Jordanes who glossed anses with uncertain meaning, possibly ‘demi-god’ and presumably a Latinized form of actual plural *anseis). The reconstructed Proto-Germanic form is *ansuz (plural *ansiwiz). The ansuz rune, ᚫ, was named after the æsir.
Æsir is the plural of áss, óss “god” (genitive case āsir), which is attested in other Germanic languages, e.g., Old English ōs (gen. pl. ēsa) and Gothic (as reported by Jordanes) anses “half-gods”. These all stem from Proto-Germanic *ansuz, which itself comes from Proto-Indo-European *hénsus (gen. h₂n̥sóus) “life force” (cf. Avestan aŋhū “lord; lifetime”, ahura “godhood”, Sanskrit ásu “life force”, ásura “god” (< *hn̥suró)).
It is widely accepted that this word is further related to *hens- “to engender” (cf. Hittite hass- “to procreate, give birth”, Tocharian B ās- “to produce”). The feminine suffix -ynja is known from a few other nouns denoting female animals, such as apynja “female monkey”, vargynja “she-wolf”. The word for “goddess” is not attested outside Old Norse. Unlike the Old English word god (and Old Norse goð), the term ōs (áss) was never adopted into Christian use.
In Greek mythology, the Rod of Asclepius (Greek: Ράβδος του Ασκληπιού), also known as the Staff of Asclepius (sometimes also spelled Asklepios or Aesculapius) and as the asklepian, is a serpent-entwined rod wielded by the Greek god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine. The symbol has continued to be used in modern times, where it is associated with medicine and health care, yet frequently confused with the staff of the god Hermes, the caduceus.
Asclepius was a hero and god of medicine in ancient Greek religion and mythology. Asclepius represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his daughters are Hygieia (“Hygiene”, the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness, and sanitation), Iaso (the goddess of recuperation from illness), Aceso (the goddess of the healing process), Aglæa/Ægle (the goddess of beauty, splendor, glory, magnificence, and adornment), and Panacea (the goddess of universal remedy).
He was associated with the Roman/Etruscan god Vediovis and the Egyptian Imhotep. He was one of Apollo’s sons, sharing with Apollo the epithet Paean (“the Healer”). The rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, remains a symbol of medicine today. Those physicians and attendants who served this god were known as the Therapeutae of Asclepius.
Enki (Sumerian: EN.KIG) is a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians.
He was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus). His symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn, recognised as the Zodiacal constellation Capricornus.
He was accompanied by an attendant Isimud. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system. Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40,” occasionally referred to as his “sacred number.”
The main temple to Enki is called E-abzu, meaning “abzu temple” (also E-en-gur-a, meaning “house of the subterranean waters”), a ziggurat temple surrounded by Euphratean marshlands near the ancient Persian Gulf coastline at Eridu.
He was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization. His image is a double-helix snake, or the Caduceus, sometimes confused with the Rod of Asclepius used to symbolize medicine. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp.
The names Mannus and Tuisto/Tuisco seem to have some relation to Proto-Germanic Mannaz, “man” and Tiwaz, “Tyr, the god”. 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.
*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. Younger Futhark ᛘ is maðr (“man”). It took up the shape of the algiz rune ᛉ, replacing Elder Futhark ᛗ.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 the Roman god Mars. 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. 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.
Taurus (Latin for “the Bull”) is one of the constellations of the zodiac, which means it is crossed by the plane of the ecliptic. Taurus is a large and prominent constellation in the northern hemisphere’s winter sky. It is one of the oldest constellations, dating back to at least the Early Bronze Age when it marked the location of the Sun during the spring equinox.
Its importance to the agricultural calendar influenced various bull figures in the mythologies of Ancient Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The recommended three-letter abbreviation for the constellation, as adopted by the International Astronomical Union in 1922, is “Tau”.
The brightest member of this constellation is Aldebaran, an orange-hued, spectral class K5 III giant star. Its name derives from al-dabarān, Arabic for “the follower”, probably from the fact that it follows the Pleiades during the nightly motion of the celestial sphere across the sky. Forming the profile of a Bull’s face is a V or A-shaped asterism of stars. This outline is created by prominent members of the Hyades, the nearest distinct open star cluster after the Ursa Major Moving Group.
In this profile, Aldebaran forms the bull’s bloodshot eye, which has been described as “glaring menacingly at the hunter Orion”, a constellation that lies just to the southwest. The Hyades span about 5° of the sky, so that they can only be viewed in their entirety with binoculars or the unaided eye. It includes a naked eye double star, Theta Tauri, with a separation of 5.6 arcminutes.
This constellation forms part of the zodiac, and hence is intersected by the ecliptic. Taurus is the second astrological sign in the present zodiac. It spans the 30–60th degree of the zodiac. The Sun is in the sign of Taurus from about April 21 until about May 21 (Western astrology) or from about May 16 to June 16 (Sidereal astrology). The symbol of the bull is based on the Cretan Bull, the white bull that fathered the Minotaur who was killed by Theseus.
The identification of the constellation of Taurus with a bull is very old, certainly dating to the Chalcolithic, and perhaps even to the Upper Paleolithic. Michael Rappenglück of the University of Munich believes that Taurus is represented in a cave painting at the Hall of the Bulls in the caves at Lascaux (dated to roughly 15,000 BC), which he believes is accompanied by a depiction of the Pleiades.
The name “seven sisters” has been used for the Pleiades in the languages of many cultures, including indigenous groups of Australia, North America and Siberia. This suggests that the name may have a common ancient origin.
Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries. The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC. In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”. As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”.
In the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literature, the goddess Ishtar sends Taurus, the Bull of Heaven, to kill Gilgamesh for spurning her advances.
Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation. In early Mesopotamian art, the Bull of Heaven was closely associated with Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare.
One of the oldest depictions shows the bull standing before the goddess’ standard; since it has 3 stars depicted on its back (the cuneiform sign for “star-constellation”), there is good reason to regard this as the constellation later known as Taurus.
The same iconic representation of the Heavenly Bull was depicted in the Dendera zodiac, an Egyptian bas-relief carving in a ceiling that depicted the celestial hemisphere using a planisphere. In these ancient cultures, the orientation of the horns was portrayed as upward or backward. This differed from the later Greek depiction where the horns pointed forward.
To the Egyptians, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull that was associated with the renewal of life in spring. When the spring equinox entered Taurus, the constellation would become covered by the Sun in the western sky as spring began. This “sacrifice” led to the renewal of the land.
In Greek mythology, Taurus was identified with Zeus, who assumed the form of a magnificent white bull to abduct Europa, a legendary Phoenician princess. In illustrations of Greek mythology, only the front portion of this constellation are depicted; this was sometimes explained as Taurus being partly submerged as he carried Europa out to sea.
A second Greek myth portrays Taurus as Io, a mistress of Zeus. To hide his lover from his wife Hera, Zeus changed Io into the form of a heifer. Greek mythographer Acusilaus marks the bull Taurus as the same that formed the myth of the Cretan Bull, one of The Twelve Labors of Heracles.
Taurus became an important object of worship among the Druids. Their Tauric religious festival was held while the Sun passed through the constellation.
Among the arctic people known as the Inuit, the constellation is called Sakiattiat and the Hyades is Nanurjuk, with the latter representing the spirit of the polar bear. Aldebaran represents the bear, with the remainder of the stars in the Hyades being dogs that are holding the beast at bay. In Buddhism, legends hold that Gautama Buddha was born when the Full Moon was in Vaisakha, or Taurus.
Buddha’s birthday is celebrated with the Wesak Festival, or Vesākha, which occurs on the first or second Full Moon when the Sun is in Taurus.
The Akkadian name was Alu. To the early Hebrews, Taurus was the first constellation in their zodiac and consequently it was represented by the first letter in their alphabet, Aleph. The name aleph is derived from the West Semitic word for “ox”, and the shape of the letter derives from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph that may have been based on an Egyptian hieroglyph.
The Phoenician letter is derived from an Egyptian hieroglyph depicting an ox’s head and gave rise to the Greek Alpha (Α), being re-interpreted to express not the glottal consonant but the accompanying vowel, and hence the Latin A and Cyrillic А.
The sequence alu (ᚨᛚᚢ) is found in numerous Elder Futhark runic inscriptions of Germanic Iron Age Scandinavia (and more rarely in early Anglo-Saxon England) between the 3rd and the 8th century. The word usually appears either alone (such as on the Elgesem runestone) or as part of an apparent formula (such as on the Lindholm “amulet” (DR 261) from Scania, Sweden). The symbols represent the runes Ansuz, Laguz, and Uruz.
Alalu is god in Hurrian mythology. He is considered to have housed the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth.
The name “Alalu” was borrowed from Semitic mythology and is a compound word made up of the Semitic definite article al and the Semitic deity Alû. The -u at the end of the word is an inflectional ending; thus, Alalu may also occur as Alali or Alala depending on the position of the word in the sentence. He was identified by the Greeks as Hypsistos. He was also called Alalus.
Alalu was a primeval deity of the Hurrian mythology. After nine years of reign, Alalu was defeated by Anu. Alaluʻs son Kumarbi also defeated Anu, biting and swallowing his genitals, hence becoming pregnant of three gods, among which Teshub who eventually defeated him. Alalu fled to the underworld.
Scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus.
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 20 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.
The Sun god and the goddess of dawn
Ud – Shamash – Nergal – Ninurta (Saturn)
Shamash (Akkadian: Šamaš UD) was the solar deity in ancient Semitic religion, corresponding to the Sumerian god Utu (Akkadian rendition of Sumerian UD “Sun”), the Sun god in Sumerian mythology, the son of the moon god Nanna and the goddess Ningal. His brother and sisters are Ishkur, Ereshkigal, and his twin sister Inanna.
Utu is the god of the sun, justice, application of law, and the lord of truth. He is usually depicted as wearing a horned helmet and carrying a saw-edged weapon not unlike a pruning saw. He is also depicted as carrying a mace, and standing with one foot on a mountain. Its symbol is “sun rays from the shoulders, and or sun disk or a saw”.
It is thought that every day, Utu emerges from a mountain in the east, symbolizing dawn, and travels either via chariot or boat across the Earth, returning to a hole in a mountain in the west, symbolizing sunset. Every night, Utu descends into the underworld to decide the fate of the dead.
Ninurta was a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war. He was worshipped in Babylonia and Assyria and in Lagash he was identified with the city god Ningirsu. In older transliteration the name is rendered Ninib and Ninip, and in early commentary he was sometimes portrayed as a solar deity.
In the astral-theological system Ninurta was associated with the planet Saturn, or perhaps as offspring or an aspect of Saturn. In his capacity as a farmer-god, there are similarities between Ninurta and the Greek Titan Kronos, whom the Romans in turn identified with their Titan Saturn.
In Nippur, Ninurta was worshiped as part of a triad of deities including his father, Enlil and his mother, Ninlil. In variant mythology, his mother is said to be the harvest goddess Ninhursag. The consort of Ninurta was Ugallu in Nippur and Bau when he was called Ningirsu. In the late neo-Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused Ninurta’s character with that of Nergal. The two gods were often invoked together, and spoken of as if they were one divinity.
Ordinarily Nergal pairs with his consort Laz. Standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion, and boundary-stone monuments symbolise him with a mace surmounted by the head of a lion. 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.
Ninurta appears in a double capacity in the epithets bestowed on him, and in the hymns and incantations addressed to him. On the one hand he is a farmer and a healing god who releases humans from sickness and the power of demons; on the other he is the god of the South Wind as the son of Enlil, displacing his mother Ninlil who was earlier held to be the goddess of the South Wind. Enlil’s brother, Enki, was portrayed as Ninurta’s mentor from whom Ninurta was entrusted several powerful Mes, including the Deluge.
Ninurta often appears holding a bow and arrow, a sickle sword, or a mace named Sharur: Sharur is capable of speech in the Sumerian legend “Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and can take the form of a winged lion and may represent an archetype for the later Shedu.
In another legend, Ninurta battles a birdlike monster called Imdugud (Akkadian: Anzû); a Babylonian version relates how the monster Anzû steals the Tablets of Destiny from Enlil. The Tablets of Destiny were believed to contain the details of fate and the future. Ninurta slays each of the monsters later known as the “Slain Heroes”. Eventually, Anzû is killed by Ninurta who delivers the Tablet of Destiny to his father, Enlil.
There are many parallels with both and the story of Marduk (son of Enki) who slew Tiamat and delivered the Tablets of Destiny from Kingu to his father, Enki.
Shamash was also the god of justice in Babylonia and Assyria. Shamash is frequently associated with the lion, both in mythology and artistic depictions. In the ancient Canaanite religion, a “son of Baal Shamash”, is known for slaying a lion (the son himself possibly an aspect of the god), and Shamash himself is depicted as a lion in religious iconography. Shamash was historically associated with the planet Saturn. Morris Jastrow, Jr. identifies Shamash with the planet Saturn.
The attribute most commonly associated with Shamash is justice. Just as the Sun disperses darkness, so Shamash brings wrong and injustice to light. Hammurabi attributes to Shamash the inspiration that led him to gather the existing laws and legal procedures into code, and in the design accompanying the code the king represents himself in an attitude of adoration before Shamash as the embodiment of the idea of justice. Several centuries before Hammurabi, Ur-Engur of the Ur dynasty (c. 2600 BC) declared that he rendered decisions “according to the just laws of Shamash.”
It was a logical consequence of this conception of the Sun-god that he was regarded also as the one who released the sufferer from the grasp of the demons. The sick man, therefore, appeals to Shamash as the god who can be depended upon to help those who are suffering unjustly. This aspect of the Sun-god is vividly brought out in the hymns addressed to him, which are, therefore, among the finest productions in the entire realm of Babylonian literature.
Aya (or Aja) in Akkadian mythology was a mother goddess, consort of the sun god Shamash. She developed from the Sumerian goddess Sherida, consort of Utu. As the Sumerian pantheon formalized, Utu became the primary sun god, and Sherida was syncretized into a subordinate role as an aspect of the sun alongside other less powerful solar deities (c.f. Ninurta) and took on the role of Utu’s consort.
Aya is Akkadian for “dawn”, and by the Akkadian period she was firmly associated with the rising sun and with sexual love and youth. The Babylonians sometimes referred to her as kallatu (the bride), and as such she was known as the wife of Shamash. In fact, she was worshiped as part of a separate-but-attached cult in Shamash’s e-babbar temples in Larsa and Sippar.
By the Neo-Babylonian period at the latest (and possibly much earlier), Shamash and Aya were associated with a practice known as Hasadu, which is loosely translated as a “sacred marriage.” A room would be set aside with a bed, and on certain occasions the temple statues of Shamash and Aya would be brought together and laid on the bed to ceremonially renew their vows. This ceremony was also practiced by the cults of Marduk with Sarpanitum, Nabu with Tashmetum, and Anu with Antu.
Consort of Enlil is Ninlil, while the consort of Enki is Ninhursag
In Sumerian religion, Ninlil (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, is the consort goddess of Enlil. 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.
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.
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.
After her death, she 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.
In the sleeping quarters, in the flowered bed fragrant like a cedar forest, Enlil made love to his wife and took great pleasure in it. He sat her on his dais appropriate to the status of Enlil, and made the people pray to her. The lord whose statements are powerful also determined a fate for the Lady (Aruru), the woman of his favour; he gave her the name Nintur, the ‘Lady who gives birth’, the ‘Lady who spreads her knees’. (…) Proud woman, surpassing the mountains! You who always fulfil your desires—from now on, Sud, Enlil is the king and Ninlil is the queen. The goddess without name has a famous name now …
Hursag (HUR.SAG) is a Sumerian term variously translated as meaning “mountain”, “hill”, “foothills” or “piedmont”. Thorkild Jacobsen extrapolated the translation in his later career to mean literally, “head of the valleys”. Some scholars also identify hursag with an undefined mountain range or strip of raised land outside the plain of Mesopotamia.
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. 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”.
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.
In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag was a mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. Nin-hursag means “lady of the sacred mountain” (from Sumerian NIN “lady” and ḪAR.SAG “sacred mountain, foothill”.
She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the ‘true and great lady of heaven’ (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were ‘nourished by Ninhursag’s milk’.
Her 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 is the tutelary deity to several Sumerian leaders.
Her symbol, resembling the Greek letter omega Ω, has been depicted in art from around 3000 BC, though more generally from the early second millennium BC. It appears on some boundary stones — on the upper tier, indicating her importance. The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, and may represent a stylized womb. Hathor is at times depicted on a mountain, so it may be that the two goddesses are connected.
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, 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.
Inara’s mother is probably Hebat and her brother is Sarruma, which means “king of the mountains”, and he is often depicted riding a tiger or panther and carrying an axe (cf. labrys). He corresponds to Dionysus, who is drawn in a chariot, usually by exotic beasts such as lions or tigers.
Ninhursag 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 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.
In the legend of Enki and Ninhursag, Ninhursag bore a daughter to Enki called Ninsar (“Lady Greenery”). Through Enki, Ninsar bore a daughter Ninkurra. Ninkurra, in turn, bore Enki a daughter named Uttu. Enki then pursued Uttu, who was upset because he didn’t care for her. 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. As Enki lacks a womb with which to give birth, he seems to be dying with swellings. The fox then asks Enlil King of the Gods, “If I bring Ninhursag before thee, what shall be my reward?” Ninhursag’s sacred fox then fetches the goddess.
Ninhursag relents and takes Enki’s Ab (water, or semen) into her body, and gives birth to gods of healing of each part of the body. Abu for the Jaw, Nintul for the Hip, Ninsutu for the tooth, Ninkasi for the mouth, Dazimua for the side, Enshagag for the Limbs.
The last one, Ninti (Lady Rib), is also a pun on Lady Life, a title of Ninhursag herself. 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.
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.
In the text ‘Creator of the Hoe’, she completed the birth of mankind after the heads had been uncovered by Enki’s hoe. In creation texts, Ninmah (another name for Ninhursag) acts as a midwife whilst the mother goddess Nammu makes different kinds of human individuals from lumps of clay at a feast given by Enki to celebrate the creation of humankind.
Hathor / Isis – Ra / Osiris / Horus
In Egypt, Taurus was seen as the cow goddess Hathor (Egyptian: ḥwt-ḥr; meaning “mansion of Horus”), one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of Ancient Egypt. Hathor was the goddess of beauty, feminine love and motherhood, joy and happiness, and she represented all of the riches seen in cattle as the providers of nourishment. Roman astrologers considered Taurus ruled by Venus, the goddess of beauty, and Earth.
Hathor was worshipped by royalty and common people alike. In tomb paintings, she is often depicted as “Mistress of the West,” welcoming the dead into the next life. In other roles, she was a goddess of music, dance, foreign lands, and fertility. She was believed to assist women in childbirth. She was also believed to be the patron goddess of miners.
The cult of Hathor predates the historic period, and the roots of devotion to her are therefore difficult to trace, though it may be a development of predynastic cults which venerated fertility, and nature in general, represented by cows.
Hathor is commonly depicted as a cow goddess with horns in which is set a sun disk with Uraeus. Twin feathers are also sometimes shown in later periods as well as a menat necklace. Hathor may be the cow goddess who is depicted from an early date on the Narmer Palette and on a stone urn dating from the 1st dynasty that suggests a role as sky-goddess and a relationship to Horus who, as a sun god, is “housed” in her.
The Ancient Egyptians viewed reality as multi-layered in which deities who merge for various reasons, while retaining divergent attributes and myths, were not seen as contradictory but complementary. In a complicated relationship Hathor is at times the mother, daughter and wife of Ra and, like Isis, is at times described as the mother of Horus, and associated with Bast.
The cult of Osiris promised eternal life to those deemed morally worthy. Originally the justified dead, male or female, became an Osiris but by early Roman times females became identified with Hathor and men with Osiris. The Ancient Greeks sometimes identified Hathor with the goddess Aphrodite.
Ra or Re is the ancient Egyptian sun god. By the Fifth Dynasty in the 25th and 24th centuries bc, he had become a major god in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the noon sun. In later Egyptian dynastic times, Ra was merged with the god Horus, as Ra-Horakhty (“Ra, who is Horus of the Two Horizons”).
He was believed to rule in all parts of the created world: the sky, the earth, and the underworld. All forms of life were believed to have been created by Ra, who called each of them into existence by speaking their secret names.
Alternatively man was created from Ra’s tears and sweat, hence the Egyptians call themselves the “Cattle of Ra.” In the myth of the Celestial Cow it is recounted how mankind plotted against Ra and how he sent his eye as the goddess Sekhmet to punish them. When she became bloodthirsty she was pacified by drinking beer mixed with red dye. The cult of the Mnevis bull, an embodiment of Ra, had its center in Heliopolis and there was a formal burial ground for the sacrificed bulls north of the city.
Ra was associated with the falcon or hawk. When in the New Kingdom the god Amun rose to prominence he was fused with Ra as Amun-Ra. During the Amarna Period, Akhenaten suppressed the cult of Ra in favor of another solar deity, the Aten, the deified solar disc, but after the death of Akhenaten the cult of Ra was restored.
The planet Mars was known by the ancient Egyptians as “Horus of the Horizon”, then later Her Deshur (“Ḥr Dšr”), or “Horus the Red”. In ancient Egyptian astronomy, Aries was associated with the god Amon-Ra, who was depicted as a man with a ram’s head and represented fertility and creativity. Because it was the location of the vernal equinox, it was called the “Indicator of the Reborn Sun”.
During the times of the year when Aries was prominent, priests would process statues of Amon-Ra to temples, a practice that was modified by Persian astronomers centuries later. Aries acquired the title of “Lord of the Head” in Egypt, referring to its symbolic and mythological importance.