Tyr – the sun god Leo
Posted by Fredsvenn on December 13, 2016
Tyr as a sun god Istanu
Sherida / Aya from sun goddess to godess of dawn
– Hausha – Ishara / Ishtara / Oestre / Usha etc
Divided in to Ereshkigal (the dead) / Inanna (the living)
– Two sides of the same coin – Transformation
Sherida / Aya, also known as Kallatu, the bride
Tyr (Uranus / Caelus) – Odin / Njord (Cronus / Saturn) – Thor (Zeus / Jupiter)
The sky often has important religious significance. Many religions, both polytheistic and monotheistic, have deities associated with the sky. The daylit sky deities are typically distinct from the night-time sky (or “heaven of the stars”) deities. Stith Thompson’s Motif-Index of Folk-Literature reflects this by separating the category of “Sky-god” from that of “Star-god”.
Daytime-gods and Nighttime-gods may also be deities of an “upper world” (or “celestial world”), opposed to a “netherworld” (or “chthonic realm”) ruled by other gods (for example, Sky-gods Zeus and Hera rule the celestial realm in ancient Greece, while the chthonic realm is ruled by Hades and Persephone), or of an upper world and netherworld respectively.
Any masculine sky god is often also king of the gods, taking the position of patriarch within a pantheon. Gods may rule the sky as a pair (for example, ancient Semitic [supreme] god El and the sky goddess Asherah whom he was most likely paired with).
Such king gods are collectively categorised as “Sky father” deities, with a polarity between sky and earth often being expressed by pairing a “Sky father” god with an “Earth mother” goddess (pairings of a Sky mother with an Earth father are less frequent). A main sky goddess is often the “queen” (“of heaven”, for example).
A weather god is a deity in mythology associated with weather phenomena such as thunder, lightning, rain and wind. They feature commonly in polytheistic religions, frequently as the head of the pantheon.
Storm gods are conceived of as wielding thunder and lightning. They are typically male, powerful and irascible rulers. Notable examples include the Indo-European deities derived from the Proto-Indo-European Dyeus. The Indo-European storm god is sometimes imagined as distinct from the ruling sky god. In these cases, he has names separate from the Dyeus etymon, either Perkwunos or Taran.
In the late Icelandic Eddas, Týr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda). 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 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.
Tyr: 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.
Hatepuna, also known as Hatepinu, is a Hattian goddess. Her Name originates in Hattic ha, “sea”, and puna, “Child”. She is the daughter of the sea god and becomes the wife of Telipinu (Balder) because of the rescue of Istanu (Tyr). Tarhun (Thor) and the sea god agree under the meditation of Hannahannah to a bride price. Hatepuna’s temple was in Maliluha.
Aquarius: God of the light and sky, The great father
Leo: Sun – Solar god, god of disk of Sun
Aries: God of war and wisdom, shepherd, leader
T for Tyr or Dyeus
Tyr (Leo / Gemini / Aries) – Dyeus (Aquarius) – Odin (Capricorn) – Thor?
Is Tyr Leo (Apollo) or Aries (Mars) – or both of them?
Thor corresponds with Ninurta and Tyr with Nergal (Mars – Aries / Apollo – Leo)
Nergal is a representation of Leo “The Lion”, from UR.GU.LA “The Lion”, marking summer solstic
Dyeus (Sumerian An) seems to be connected with Aquarius
Jupiter is the ruling planet of Sagittarius and Pisces, and it is exalted in Cancer
Neptune is the ruling planet of Pisces and is possibly exalted in Cancer
Jupiter: Sagittarius is detriment to Gemini, and Pisces is detriment to Virgo
Mercury is the ruling planet of Gemini and Virgo and is exalted in Virgo or Aquarius
Mercury: Gemini is detriment to Sagittarius, and Virgo is detriment to Pisces
Sin / Nanna (Moon)
Sin (Akkadian) or Nanna (Sumerian) was the god of the moon in the Mesopotamian mythology of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia. Nanna is a Sumerian deity, the son of Enlil and Ninlil, and became identified with Semitic Sin. The two chief seats of Nanna’s/Sin’s worship were Ur in the south of Mesopotamia and Harran in the north.
His consort is Ningal (“Great Lady/Queen”), a goddess of reeds in the Sumerian mythology, daughter of Enki and Ningikurga and the consort of the moon god Nanna by whom she bore Utu the sun god, Ereshkigal, and his twin sister Inanna, and in some texts, Ishkur, the storm and rain god in the Northwest Semitic and ancient Mesopotamian religions. She is chiefly recognised at Ur, and was probably first worshipped by cow-herders in the marsh lands of southern Mesopotamia.
He is commonly designated as En-zu, which means “lord of wisdom”. During the period (c.2600-2400 BC) that Ur exercised a large measure of supremacy over the Euphrates valley, Sin was naturally regarded as the head of the pantheon. The tendency to centralize the powers of the universe leads to the establishment of the doctrine of a triad consisting of Sin/Nanna and his children.
It is to this period that we must trace such designations of Sin as “father of the gods”, “chief of the gods”, “creator of all things”, and the like. The “wisdom” personified by the moon-god is likewise an expression of the science of astronomy or the practice of astrology, in which the observation of the moon’s phases is an important factor.
Sin had a beard made of lapis lazuli and rode on a winged bull. The bull was one of his symbols, through his father, Enlil, “Bull of Heaven”, along with the crescent and the tripod (which may be a lamp-stand). On cylinder seals, he is represented as an old man with a flowing beard and the crescent symbol. In the astral-theological system he is represented by the number 30 and the moon. This number probably refers to the average number of days (correctly around 29.53) in a lunar month, as measured between successive new moons.
An important Sumerian text (“Enlil and Ninlil”) tells of the descent of Enlil and Ninlil, pregnant with Nanna/Sin, into the underworld. There, three “substitutions” are given to allow the ascent of Nanna/Sin. The story shows some similarities to the text known as “The Descent of Inanna”.
Nanna’s chief sanctuary at Ur was named E-gish-shir-gal (“house of the great light”). It was at Ur that the role of the En Priestess developed. This was an extremely powerful role held by a princess, most notably Enheduanna, daughter of King Sargon of Akkad, and was the primary cult role associated with the cult of Nanna/Sin.
Sin also had a sanctuary at the city of Harran, named E-khul-khul (“house of joys”). The cult of the moon-god spread to other centers, so that temples to him are found in all the large cities of Babylonia and Assyria. A sanctuary for Sin with Syriac inscriptions invoking his name dating to the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE was found at Sumatar Harabesi in the Tektek mountains, not far from Harran and Edessa.
Sherida and Utu (Sun)
Sherida is one of the oldest Mesopotamian gods. As the Sumerian pantheon formalized, Utu (Akkadian rendition of Sumerian UD “Sun”, Assyro-Babylonian Shamash “Sun”) 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.
Utu is the Sun god in Sumerian mythology. He is the son of the moon god Nanna and the goddess Ningal. His brother and sisters are Ishkur, Ereshkigal, and his twin sister Inanna. His center cult was located in the city of Larsa. He 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.
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. 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”.
The sun god is only modestly mentioned in Sumerian mythology with one of the notable exceptions being the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the myth, Gilgamesh seeks to establish his name with the assistance of Utu, because of his connection with the cedar mountain.
Gilgamesh and his father, Lugalbanda, were kings of the first dynasty of Uruk, a lineage that Jeffrey H. Tigay suggested could be traced back to Utu himself. He further suggested that Lugalbanda’s association with the sun-god in the Old Babylonian version of the epic strengthened “the impression that at one point in the history of the tradition the sun-god was also invoked as an ancestor”.
Aya and Shamash
Shamash was the solar deity in ancient Semitic religion, corresponding to the Sumerian god Utu. Shamash was also the god of justice in Babylonia and Assyria. Akkadian šamaš “Sun” is cognate to Syriac: šemša, Hebrew: שֶׁמֶשׁ šemeš and Arabic: šams.
According to the 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica the Shamash cults at Sippar and Larsa so overshadowed local Sun-deities elsewhere as to lead to an absorption of the minor deities by the predominating one, in the systematized pantheon these minor Sun-gods become attendants that do his service. Such are Bunene, spoken of as his chariot driver and whose consort is Atgi-makh, Kettu (“justice”) and Mesharu (“right”), who were then introduced as attendants of Shamash.
Other Sun-deities such as Ninurta and Nergal, the patron deities of other important centers, retained their independent existences as certain phases of the Sun, with Ninurta becoming the Sun-god of the morning and spring time and Nergal the Sun-god of the noon and the summer solstice. In the wake of such syncretism Shamash was usually viewed as the Sun-god in general.
Together with Nannar–Sin and Ishtar, Shamash completes another triad by the side of Anu, Enlil and Ea. The three powers Sin, Shamash and Ishtar symbolized three great forces of nature: the Moon, the Sun, and the life-giving force of the earth, respectively.
At times instead of Ishtar we find Adad, the storm-god, associated with Sin and Shamash, and it may be that these two sets of triads represent the doctrines of two different schools of theological thought in Babylonia that were subsequently harmonized by the recognition of a group consisting of all four deities.
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.
The consort of Shamash was known as Aya in Akkadian mythology. She is, however, rarely mentioned in the inscriptions except in combination with Shamash. She was a mother goddess, and is attested in inscriptions from pre-Sargonic times, making her among the oldest Semitic deities known in the region.
The goddess’s Akkadian name, Aya, is found in personal names as early as the Presargonic period (before c.2400 BCE). Aya was a particularly popular goddess during the Old Babylonian period (c.2000-1595 BCE). In Old Babylonian Sippar, Aya was a common divine element in the personal names of female slaves who were owned by priestesses (nadītu).
In the first millennium BCE Aya appears in Neo-Assyrian, Achaemenid and Seleucid period scholarly texts, including the Standard Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgameš plus new year rituals and a ritual to avert portentious evil (namburbû) from Seleucid period Uruk. Aya became particularly popular again during the Neo-Babylonian Period, during which time king Nabonidus of Babylon from 556-539 BCE, restored Šamaš’s E-babbar temple in Sippar.
She developed from the Sumerian goddess Sherida, consort of Utu. When the Semitic Akkadians moved into Mesopotamia, their pantheon became syncretized to the Sumerian. Inanna to Ishtar, Nanna to Sin, Utu to Shamash, etc. The minor Mesopotamian sun goddess Aya became syncretized into Sherida during this process.
The minor Mesopotamian sun goddess Aya became syncretized into Sherida during this process. The goddess Aya in this aspect appears to have had wide currency among Semitic peoples, as she is a popular personal name during the Ur III period (21st-20th century BCE), and is mentioned in god-lists in Ugarit and shows up in personal names in the Bible (Gen 36:24, 2 Sam 3:7, 1 Chr 7:28).
Aya was a Sumerian goddess of light and wife of Utu/Šamaš, who was worshipped in the cities of Sippar and Larsa. Aya was worshipped with the sun god Šamaš at his two principal temples in the cities of Sippar and Larsa, which were both called E-babbar “white house”). In Ugarit, Aya was equated with a deity who shared the same name as her. In the Sumerian literary composition Nanna-Suen’s journey to Nibru, Šerida is associated with her cult city of Larsa.
Aya functions primarily as a goddess of light and as the wife of the sun god Šamaš. Aya’s role as Šamaš’s wife is exemplified by her presentation in the Standard Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgameš, where Aya is called “the great bride”.
In the third tablet of the epic, the hero Gilgameš plans to venture into the Cedar forest and kill Humbaba, its monstrous guardian. Gilgameš’s mother Ninsumun blames the sun god Šamaš for her son’s desire to go adventuring. She climbs onto the temple roof and asks if Aya will implore her husband Šamaš to protect Gilgameš on his mission, especially at night when the sun god cannot not watch over him.
In Old Babylonian administrative documents from the vicinity of the city of Sippar, Aya appears also to share her husband Šamaš’s role in overseeing justice. Šamaš and Aya are the two deities “witnessing” transactions such as field or house rentals and temple loans.
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.
Marduk (Amurru) / Ashur
Marduk is spelled dAMAR.UTU in Sumerian, literally, “the calf of Utu” or “the young bull of the Sun”. “Marduk” is the Babylonian form of his name. According to The Encyclopedia of Religion, the name Marduk was probably pronounced Marutuk. The etymology of the name Marduk is conjectured as derived from amar-Utu (“bull calf of the sun god Utu”). The origin of Marduk’s name may reflect an earlier genealogy, or have had cultural ties to the ancient city of Sippar (whose god was Utu, the sun god), dating back to the third millennium BC.
Marduk was a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. When Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi (18th century BC), he slowly started to rise to the position of the head of the Babylonian pantheon, a position he fully acquired by the second half of the second millennium BC. In the city of Babylon, he resided in the temple Esagila. In the perfected system of astrology, Jupiter was associated with Marduk by the Hammurabi period.
Amurru and Martu are names given in Akkadian and Sumerian texts to the god of the Amorite/Amurru people, often forming part of personal names. He is sometimes called Ilu Amurru (DMAR.TU). He was the patron god of the Mesopotamian city of Ninab, whose exact location is unknown.
Amurru/Martu was probably a western Semitic god originally. He is sometimes described as a ‘shepherd’ or as a storm god, and as a son of the sky-god Anu. He is sometimes called bêlu šadī or bêl šadê, ‘lord of the mountain’; dúr-hur-sag-gá sikil-a-ke, ‘He who dwells on the pure mountain’; and kur-za-gan ti-[la], ‘who inhabits the shining mountain’. In Cappadocian Zinčirli inscriptions he is called ì-li a-bi-a, ‘the god of my father’.
Accordingly, it has been suggested by L. R. Bailey (1968) and Jean Ouelette (1969), that this Bêl Šadê might be the same as the Biblical ’Ēl Šaddāi who is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the “Priestly source” of narrative, according to the documentary hypothesis. Bêl Šadê could have been the fertility-god ‘Ba’al’, possibly adopted by the Canaanites, a rival and enemy of the Hebrew God YHWH, and famously combatted by the Hebrew prophet Elijah.
Amurru also has storm-god features. Like Adad, Amurru bears the epithet ramān ‘thunderer’, and he is even called bāriqu ‘hurler of the thunderbolt’ and Adad ša a-bu-be ‘Adad of the deluge’. Yet his iconography is distinct from that of Adad, and he sometimes appears alongside Adad with a baton of power or throwstick, while Adad bears a conventional thunderbolt.
Amurru’s wife is usually the goddess Ašratum (see Asherah) who in northwest Semitic tradition and Hittite tradition appears as wife of the god Ēl which suggests that Amurru may indeed have been a variation of that god. If Amurru was identical with Ēl, it would explain why so few Amorite names are compounded with the name Amurru, but so many are compounded with Il; that is, with Ēl.
Another tradition about Amurru’s wife (or one of Amurru’s wives) gives her name as Belit-Sheri, ‘Lady of the Desert’. A third tradition appears in a Sumerian poem in pastoral style, which relates how the god Martu came to marry Adg̃ar-kidug the daughter of the god Numushda of the city of Inab. It contains a speech expressing urbanite Sumerian disgust at uncivilized, nomadic Amurru life which Adg̃ar-kidug ignores, responding only: “I will marry Martu!”.
Ashur (also, Assur, Aššur; written A-šur, also Aš-šùr) is an East Semitic god, and the head of the Assyrian pantheon in Mesopotamian religion, worshipped mainly in the northern half of Mesopotamia, and parts of north-east Syria and south east Asia Minor which constituted old Assyria. He may have had a solar iconography.
Some scholars have claimed that Ashur was represented as the solar disc that appears frequently in Assyrian iconography. Some scholars have claimed that Ashur was represented as the solar disc that appears frequently in Assyrian iconography. Many Assyrian kings had names that included the name Ashur, including, above all, Ashur-uballit I, Ashurnasirpal, Esarhaddon (Ashur-aha-iddina), and Ashurbanipal. Epithets include bêlu rabû “great lord”, ab ilâni “father of gods”, šadû rabû “great mountain”, and il aššurî “god of Ashur”.
The symbols of Ashur include a winged disc with horns, enclosing four circles revolving round a middle circle; rippling rays fall down from either side of the disc; a circle or wheel, suspended from wings, and enclosing a warrior drawing his bow to discharge an arrow; the same circle; the warrior’s bow, however, is carried in his left hand, while the right hand is uplifted as if to bless his worshipers.
An Assyrian standard, which probably represented the world column, has the disc mounted on a bull’s head with horns. The upper part of the disc is occupied by a warrior, whose head, part of his bow, and the point of his arrow protrude from the circle. The rippling water rays are V-shaped, and two bulls, treading river-like rays, occupy the divisions thus formed.
There are also two heads—a lion’s and a man’s—with gaping mouths, which may symbolize tempests, the destroying power of the sun, or the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates. Jastrow regards the winged disc as “the purer and more genuine symbol of Ashur as a solar deity”. He calls it “a sun disc with protruding rays”, and says: “To this symbol the warrior with the bow and arrow was added—a despiritualization that reflects the martial spirit of the Assyrian empire”.
Aššur was a deified form of the city of Assur (pronounced Ashur), which dates from the mid 3rd millennium BC and was the capital of the Old Assyrian kingdom. As such, Ashur did not originally have a family, but as the cult came under southern Mesopotamian influence, he later came to be regarded as the Assyrian equivalent of Enlil, the chief god of Nippur, which was the most important god of the southern pantheon from the early 3rd millennium BC until Hammurabi founded an empire based in Babylon in the mid-18th century BC, after which Marduk replaced Enlil as the chief god in the south. In the north, Ashur absorbed Enlil’s wife Ninlil (as the Assyrian goddess Mullissu) and his sons Ninurta and Zababa—this process began around the 14th century BC and continued down to the 7th century.
During the various periods of Assyrian conquest, such as the Assyrian Empire of Shamshi-Adad I (1813–1750 BC), Middle Assyrian Empire (1391–1056 BC) and Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–605 BC), Assyrian imperial propaganda proclaimed the supremacy of Ashur declared that the conquered peoples had been abandoned by their gods.
When Assyria conquered Babylon in the Sargonid period (8th–7th centuries BC), Assyrian scribes began to write the name of Ashur with the cuneiform signs “AN.SHAR”, literally “whole heaven” in Akkadian, the language of Assyria and Babylonia.
The intention seems to have been to put Ashur at the head of the Babylonian pantheon, where Anshar and his counterpart Kishar (“whole earth”) preceded even Enlil and Ninlil. Thus in the Sargonid version of the Enuma Elish, the Babylonian national creation myth, Marduk, the chief god of Babylon, does not appear, and instead it is Ashur, as Anshar, who slays Tiamat the chaos-monster and creates the world of humankind.
Ashur, together with a number of other Mesopotamian gods, continued to be worshipped by Assyrians long after the fall of Assyria, with temples being erected in his honour in Assyria (Athura/Assuristan) until the 3rd and 4th centuries of the Christian era, but by this time most Assyrians had adopted East Syrian Christianity.
The city of Ashur, named in honour of the deity, was inhabited until the 14th century, when a massacre of Assyrian Christians by Tamurlane left it finally emptied. Ashur is still a common given and family name amongst Assyrians to this day.
Comparative – Shamash
Shapash, Shapsh, Shapshu or sometimes Shemesh was the Canaanite goddess of the sun, daughter of El and Asherah. She is known as “torch of the gods” and is considered an important deity in the Canaanite pantheon and among the Phoenicians.
The Akkadian sun god, Shamash, was the Mesopotamian male equivalent of the female Canaanite Shapash. She may also be related to a preeminent deity at Ebla named Shipish, and to Shams or Chems, a pre-Islamic Arabic sun deity worshipped at sunrise, noon, and sunset.
In the Epic of Baal, Shapash plays an important part in the plot, as she interacts with all of the main characters, and in the end she is favourable to Baal’s position as king. She announces that El supports Yam. By delivering her verdict in the final struggle of Baal with Mot, she reveals her role as judge among the gods, and by her judgement against Mot, as saviour of humankind, two aspects, Brian B. Schmidt observes, that conform with what is known of Shamash’s function in Mesopotamia.
After Baal is killed, she helps Anat bury and mourn him, and then stops shining. Following El’s dream about the resurrection of Baal, El asks Anat to persuade Shapash to shine again, which she agrees to, but declares that she will continue to search for him. In the battle between Baal and Mot, she threatens Mot that El will intervene in Baal’s favour, a threat which ends the battle.
In the Tanakh, worshiping Shemesh is forbidden and is punishable by stoning. Worshiping Shemesh was said to include bowing to the east, in the direction of the sun, as well as rituals related to horses and chariots, which were associated with her. King Josiah was also said to have abolished sun worship (among others).
Samson (meaning “man of the sun”) was the last of the judges of the ancient Israelites mentioned in the Book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible (chapters 13 to 16) and one of the last of the leaders who “judged” Israel before the institution of the monarchy.
According to the biblical account, Samson was given immense strength to aid him against his enemies, and allowing him to perform glorious feats such as quickly killing a lion, slaying an entire army with only the jawbone of an ass, and destroying a temple of the Philistines with his bare hands. However, if Samson’s long hair was cut, he would lose his strength.
In some Jewish traditions, Samson is believed to have been buried in Tel Tzora in Israel overlooking the Sorek valley. There reside two large gravestones of Samson and his father Manoah. Nearby stands Manoah’s altar (Judges 13:19–24). It is located between the cities of Zorah and Eshtaol.
Academics have interpreted Samson as a demigod (such as Heracles or Enkidu) enfolded into Jewish religious lore, or as an archetypical folk hero. These views sometimes interpreted him as a solar deity, popularized by “solar hero” theorists and biblical scholars alike. The name Delilah may also involve a wordplay with the Hebrew word for night, ‘layla’, which “consumes” the day.
Samson bears many similar traits to the Greek Heracles (and the Roman Hercules adaptation), inspired himself partially from the Mesopotamian Enkidu tale: Heracles and Samson both battled a lion bare handed (Lion of Nemea feat), Heracles and Samson both had a favorite primitive blunt weapon (a club and an ass’s jaw, respectively), and they were both betrayed by a woman which led them to their ultimate fate (Heracles by Deianira, Samson by Delilah). Both heroes, champion of their respective people, die by their own hand: Heracles ends his life on a pyre, while Samson makes the Philistine temple collapse upon himself and his enemies.
These views are disputed by traditional and conservative biblical scholars who consider Samson to be a literal historical figure and thus reject any connections to mythological heroes. The concept of Samson as a “solar hero” has been described as “an artificial ingenuity”.
Joan Comay, co-author of Who’s Who in the Bible: The Old Testament and the Apocrypha, The New Testament, believes that the biblical story of Samson is so specific concerning time and place that Samson was undoubtedly a real person who pitted his great strength against the oppressors of Israel. In contrast, James King West considers that the hostilities between the Philistines and Hebrews appear to be of a “purely personal and local sort”. He also considers that Samson stories have, in contrast to much of Judges, an “almost total lack of a religious or moral tone”.
Dr. Zvi Lederman, co-director of the Tel Aviv University Beth Shemesh dig which discovered the seal discussed below, believes that Beth Shemesh, a Canaanite village, was a cultural meeting point on the border of Israelite, Canaanite, and Philistine areas and calls the stories “border sagas”, saying that Samson could cross boundaries, seeking a Philistine wife but also fighting and killing Philistines. “When you cross the border, you have to fight the enemy and you encounter dangerous animals. You meet bad things. These are stories of contact and conflict, of a border that is more cultural than political.”
Tiwas / Arinna
While the Luwians originally worshipped the old Proto-Indo-European Sun god Tiwaz the Sun goddess of Arinna is the chief goddess and wife of the weather god Tarḫunna in Hittite mythology. She protected the Hittite kingdom and was called the “Queen of all lands.” Her cult centre was the sacred city of Arinna. The eagle served as her messenger. It appears that in the northern cultural sphere of the early Hittites, there was no male solar deity.
In addition to the Sun goddess of Arinna, the Hittites also worshipped the Sun goddess of the Earth and the Sun god of Heaven, Distinguishing the various solar deities in the texts is difficult since most are simply written with the Sumerogram dUTU (Solar deity). As a result, the interpretation of the solar deities remains a subject of debate.
In myths, she plays a minor role. A Hattian mythic fragment records the construction of her house in Liḫzina (de). Another myth fragment refers to her apple tree: An apple tree stands at a well and is covered all over with a blood-red colour. The Sun goddess of Arinna saw (it) and she decorated (it) with her shining wand.
The Sun goddess of Arinna was originally of Hattian origin and was worshipped by the Hattians at Eštan. One of her Hattian epithets was Wurunšemu (“Mother of the land”?). The Hattian name of the goddess was transcribed by the Hittites as Ištanu and Urunzimu. They also invoked her as Arinitti (“The Arinnian”). The epithet “of Arinna” only appears during the Hittite Middle Kingdom, to distinguish the Sun goddess from the male Sun god of Heaven, who had been adopted by the Hittites from interaction with the Hurrians.
The name Ištanu is the Hittite form of the Hattian name Eštan and refers to the Sun goddess of Arinna. Earlier scholarship understood Ištanu as the name of the male Sun god of the Heavens, but more recent scholarship has held that the name is only used to refer to the Sun goddess of Arinna. Volker Haas (de), however, still distinguishes between a male Ištanu representing the day-star and a female Wurunšemu who is the Sun goddess of Arinna and spends her nights in the underworld.
The Sun goddess of Arinna and the weather god Tarḫunna formed a pair and together they occupied the highest position in the Hittite state’s pantheon. From the Hittite Old Kingdom, she was the chief goddess of the Hittite state. The “Gods’ city” of Arinna was the site of the coronation of the first Hittite kings and one of the empire’s three holy cities. The pair’s daughter is Mezulla (de), by whom they had the granddaughter Zintuḫi. Their other children were the Weather god of Nerik (de), the Weather god of Zippalanda (de), and the corn god Telipinu.
During the Hittite New Kingdom, she was identified with the Hurrian-Syrian goddess Ḫepat and the Hittite Queen Puduḫepa mentions her in her prayers using both names: Sun goddess of Arinna, my lady, queen of all lands! In the Land of Ḫatti, you ordained your name to be the “Sun goddess of Arinna”, but also in the land which you have made the land of the cedar, you ordained your name to be Ḫepat.
From the Hittite Old Kingdom, the Sun goddess of Arinna legitimised the authority of the king, in conjunction with the weather god Tarḫunna. The land belonged to the two deities and the established the king, who would refer to the Sun goddess as “Mother”. King Ḫattušili I would hold the Sun goddess in his lap. Several queens dedicated cultic solar discs to the Sun goddess in the city of Taḫurpa.
During the Hittite New Kingdom, the Sun goddess was said to watch over the king and his kingdom, with the king as her priest and the queen as her priestess. The Hittite king worshiped the Sun goddess with daily praters at sun set. The Hittite texts preserve many prayers to the Sun goddess of Arinna: the oldest is from Arnuwanda I.
The most important temple of the Sun goddess was in the city of Arinna; there was another on the citadel of Ḫattuša. The goddess was depicted as a solar disc. In the city of Tarḫurpa, several such discs were venerated, which had been donated by the Hittite queens. King Ulmi-Teššup von Tarḫuntašša donated a Sun disc of gold, silver and copper to the goddess each year, along with a bull and three sheep. She was also often depicted as a woman and statuettes of a sitting goddess with a halo may also be depictions of her.
The deer was sacred to the Sun goddess and Queen Puduḫepa promised to give her many deer in her prayers. Cultic vessels in the shape of a deer presumably ere used for worship of the Sun goddess. It is also believed that the golden deer statuettes from the Early Bronze Age, which were found in the middle of the Kızılırmak River and belong to the Hattian cultural period, ere associated with the cult of the Sun goddess.
Vulcan – Virgo? Apollo – Taurus?
Astrologers have focused on the theory that in time all twelve signs of the zodiac will each have their own ruler, so that another two planets have yet to be discovered; namely the “true” rulers of Taurus and Virgo. The names of the planets mentioned in this regard by some are Vulcan (ruler of Virgo) and Apollo, the Roman god of the Sun (ruler of Taurus).
In mythology, Ceres is the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Demeter, and is the goddess of agriculture. The goddess (and metaphorically the planet) is also associated with the reproductive issues of an adult woman, as well as pregnancy and other major transitions in a woman’s life, including the nine months of gestation time, family bonds and relationships. Although a mother, Ceres is also the archetype of a virgin goddess.
Ceres epitomizes independent women who are often unmarried (since, according to myth, Ceres is an unmarried goddess who chose to become a mother without a husband or partner.) While the moon represents our ideal of “motherhood”, Ceres would represent how our real and nature motherhood should be.
In old opinion, Ceres is the ruling planet of Virgo. But, on new astrologers opinion, Ceres are ruling Taurus. In new opinion, Virgo is ruled by Chiron. In Greek mythology, Chiron (“hand”) was held to be the superlative centaur amongst his brethren. Chiron was notable throughout Greek mythology for his youth-nurturing nature. His personal skills tend to match those of Apollo, his foster father (sometimes along with Artemis): medicine, music, archery, hunting, prophecy. His parents were Cronus and Philyra.
Dyēus, also Dyeus Pater, 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.
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).
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.
Although some of the more iconic reflexes of Dyeus are storm deities, such as Zeus and Jupiter, this is thought to be a late development exclusive to mediterranean traditions, probably derived from syncretism with canaanite deities and Perkwunos.
The deity’s original domain was over the daylit sky, and indeed reflexes emphasise this connection to light: Istanu (Tiyaz) is a solar deity, Helios is often referred to as the “eye of Zeus”, in Romanian paganism the Sun is similarly called “God’s eye” and in Indo-Iranian tradition Surya/Hvare-khshaeta is similarly associated with Ahura Mazda. Even in Roman tradition, Jupiter often is only associated with diurnal lightning at most, while Summanus is a deity responsible for nocturnal lightning or storms as a whole.
Thor / Tyr and Odin – the Zodiac
Beginning with Henry Petersen’s doctoral dissertation in 1876, which proposed that Thor was the indigenous god of Scandinavian farmers and Odin a later god proper to chieftains and poets, many scholars of Norse mythology in the past viewed Odin as having been imported from elsewhere.
The idea was developed by Bernhard Salin on the basis of motifs in the petroglyphs and bracteates and with reference to the Prologue of the Prose Edda, which presents the Æsir as having migrated into Scandinavia; he proposed that both Odin and the runes were introduced from southeastern Europe in the Iron Age. Other scholars placed his introduction at different times; Axel Olrik, during the Migration Age as a result of Gaulish influence.
More radically, both the archeologist and comparative mythologist Marija Gimbutas and the Germanicist Karl Helm argued that the Æsir as a group, which includes both Thor and Odin, were late introductions into northern Europe and that the indigenous religion of the region had been Vanic.
Although the view of Odin as in some way a latecomer dominated until the mid-20th century, it was then superseded by the trifunctional hypothesis of Georges Dumézil, under which Odin is assigned one of the core functions in the Indo-European pantheon, as a representative of the first function (sovereignty) corresponding to the Hindu Varuṇa (fury and magic) as opposed to Týr, who corresponds to the Hindu Mitrá (law and justice); while the Vanir represent the third function (fertility). As a result, the early debate over his origins has rarely been revisited.
Another approach to Odin has been in terms of his function and attributes. Many early scholars interpreted him as a wind-god or especially as a death-god. He has also been interpreted in the light of his association with ecstatic practices, and Jan de Vries compared him to the Hindu god Rudra and the Greek Hermes.
According to different sources Odin (German Wotan) is the father of all the gods and of men. He is the god of magic, ecstasy, poetry, and man’s consciousness of inner divinity. He brings knowledge, wisdom, ideas and inspiration to help mankind. It is he who makes men mad, possessed of driving rage, and also the “madness” perceived of the warrior in battle, the seer in trance, the poet’s creativity.
He is both the shaper of Wyrd (Fate: the past actions that continually affect and condition the future) and the bender of Orlog (Destiny: the future that affects the past), showing the interconnected nature of all actions. He is married to Frigg and father to Baldur and Hoor.
It is also he who sacrifices an eye at the well of Mimir to gain inner wisdom, and later hangs himself upon Yggdrasill to gain the knowledge and power of the Runes. He can travel to any realm within the nine Nordic worlds. He is pictured wearing a floppy hat and a blue-grey cloak and is accompanied by two ravens, Hugginn (thought) and Munin (memory who daily fly over the world reporting all that has happened.
Many of these attributes has he taken from Tyr and Thor, however, he seem to be most similar to Mercury, who is connected with Mercury, which is the ruling planet of Gemini and Virgo and is exalted in Virgo or Aquarius. However, he also seem to be connected with Saturn, which is the ruling planet of Capricorn and Aquarius and is exalted in Libra.
Before the discovery of Uranus, Saturn was regarded as the ruling planet of Aquarius alongside Capricorn of course, which is the preceding sign. Many traditional types of astrologers prefer Saturn as the planetary ruler for both Capricorn and Aquarius. However, Uranus is the ruling planet of Aquarius and is exalted in Scorpio. In Norse mythology, Heimdall is connected with Aquarius. Odin can then be connected to capricorn.
Tyr / Thor
Tyr (German Tiw) is the god of law and justice, rational thought and right order, protection, divination, astronomy, strength and courage; he is the ancient god of war and the lawgiver of the gods. He sacrificed his hand so that the evil Fenris wolf may be bound. He may be invoked in all manners of justice, fair play, and right action. All this corresponds for him to be a sun god. However, some will have him connected to Libra, which is also connected to justice.
Thor (German Donnar) is the red-headed god of thunder and weather in general, powerful protection, inspiration, magical power, and personal strength. He is a son of Odin, said to be the foremost of the Aesir, and rules over the realm called Thrudvang. He is the strongest of all gods and men, and is the protector of all Midgard. He wields the mighty hammer Mjollnir that causes lightening flashes. His battle car is drawn by two goats. He is married to Sif, and father to Pruor and Ullr. The Oak is sacred to Thor.
Some make connections between Thor and Leo, the sun. However, Apollo is connected with the Sumerian god Nergal, who is also connected wit Mars, who again is connected with Tyr. Both Apollo, Nergal and Tyr is connected to the sun. Jupiter, on the other hand, is the ruling planet of Sagittarius and Pisces, and is exalted in Cancer. Tyr is also connected to Shiva, who is again connected to Indra.
Jupiter – Thor
In Roman mythology, Jupiter is the ruler of the gods and their guardian and protector, and his symbol is the thunderbolt. The Romans believed that Jupiter granted them supremacy because they had honored him more than any other people had.
Jupiter was “the fount of the auspices upon which the relationship of the city with the gods rested.” He personified the divine authority of Rome’s highest offices, internal organization, and external relations. His image in the Republican and Imperial Capitol bore regalia associated with Rome’s ancient kings and the highest consular and Imperial honours.
In the same way, the planet Jupiter is the king of the other planets, a giant in size with spectacular, brightly colored clouds and intense storms. Some astronomers believe that it plays an important protecting role in using its massive gravity to capture or expel from the solar system many comets and asteroids that would otherwise threaten Earth and the inner planets.
Jupiter takes 11.9 years to orbit the Sun, spending almost an earth year (361 days) in each sign of the zodiac. Furthermore, Jupiter is usually the fourth-brightest object in the sky (after the Sun, the Moon and Venus).
Astrologically speaking, Jupiter is associated with the principles of growth, expansion, prosperity, and good fortune. Jupiter governs long distance and foreign travel, big business and wealth, higher education, religion, and the law. It is also associated with the urge for freedom and exploration, humanitarian and protecting roles, and with gambling and merrymaking.
Jupiter is associated with Thursday, and in Romance languages, the name for Thursday often comes from Jupiter (e.g., joi in Romanian, jeudi in French, jueves in Spanish, and giovedì in Italian). Dante Alighieri associated Jupiter with the liberal art of geometry. In Chinese astrology, Jupiter is ruled by the element wood, which is patient, hard-working, and reliable. In Indian astrology, Jupiter is known as Guru or Brihaspati and is known as the ‘great teacher’.
In Norse mythology, Thor is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing and fertility. The cognate deity in wider Germanic mythology and paganism was known in Old English as Þunor and in Old High German as Donar, stemming from a Common Germanic *Þunraz (meaning “thunder”).
Into the modern period, Thor continued to be acknowledged in rural folklore throughout Germanic regions. Thor is frequently referred to in place names, the day of the week Thursday (“Thor’s day” from Old English Thunresdæg, ‘Thunor’s day’) bears his name, and names stemming from the pagan period containing his own continue to be used today.
The worship of Nergal does not appear to have spread as widely as that of Ninurta, but in the late Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused the two divinities, which were invoked together as if they were identical.
Nergal – Leo / Gemini / Aries / Sagitarius
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.
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, as a sun god, represents Leo.
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. Mars represents Aries.
Aries (meaning “ram”) is the first astrological sign in the zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°). Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun 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.
The Babylonians identified Sagittarius as the god Nergal, a strange centaur-like creature firing an arrow from a bow. It is generally depicted with wings, with two heads, one panther head and one human head, as well as a scorpion’s stinger raised above its more conventional horse’s tail.
The figure is reminiscent of modern depictions of Sagittarius. The Sumerian name Pabilsag is composed of two elements – Pabil, meaning ‘elder paternal kinsman’ and Sag, meaning ‘chief, head’. The name may thus be translated as the ‘Forefather’ or ‘Chief Ancestor’.
Pabilsaĝ was a tutelary god of the city of Isin. The consort of the goddess Nininsinna, he was identified with the lost city of Larak. The text Pabilsag’s journey to Nibru describes Pabilsag as journeying to Nippur and presenting the god Enlil with gifts. He was given the epithet of “the wild bull with multicoloured legs”.
In Greek mythology, Sagittarius is usually identified as a centaur: half human, half horse. However, perhaps due to the Greek’s adoption of the Sumerian constellation, some confusion surrounds the identity of the archer.
Along with Aries and Leo, Sagittarius is a part of the Fire Trigon. The symbol of the zodiac sign is a Centaur armed with arrows following an old tradition coming from the Ancient Greece and from other cultures of the past. The image of the sign says a lot about his features, he’s able to be incredibly violent or wise, brave or mild.
Some identify Sagittarius as the centaur Chiron, the son of Philyra and Saturn and tutor to Jason, who was said to have changed himself into a horse to escape his jealous wife, Rhea. However, some identify Chiron with the constellation Centaurus, the other heavenly centaur.
A competing mythological tradition, as espoused by Eratosthenes, identified the Archer not as a centaur but as the satyr Crotus, son of Pan, who Greeks credited with the invention of archery. According to myth, Crotus often went hunting on horseback and lived among the Muses, who requested that Zeus place him in the sky, where he is seen demonstrating archery.
The arrow of this constellation points towards the star Antares, the “heart of the scorpion,” and Sagittarius stands poised to attack should Scorpius ever attack the nearby Hercules, or to avenge Scorpius’s slaying of Orion.
An alternative tradition is that Chiron merely invented the constellation Sagittarius to help in guiding the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece. In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece is the fleece of the gold-hair winged ram, which was held in Colchis. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship.
The English proper name Sun developed from Old English sunne and may be related to south. Cognates to English sun appear in other Germanic languages, including Old Frisian sunne, sonne, Old Saxon sunna, Middle Dutch sonne, modern Dutch zon, Old High German sunna, modern German Sonne, Old Norse sunna, and Gothic sunnō. All Germanic terms for the Sun stem from Proto-Germanic *sunnōn.
The English weekday name Sunday stems from Old English (Sunnandæg; “Sun’s day”, from before 700) and is ultimately a result of a Germanic interpretation of Latin dies solis, itself a translation of the Greek hēméra hēlíou. The Latin name for the Sun, Sol, is not common in general English language use; the adjectival form is the related word solar.
The term sol is also used by planetary astronomers to refer to the duration of a solar day on another planet, such as Mars. A mean Earth solar day is approximately 24 hours, whereas a mean Martian ‘sol’ is 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35.244 seconds.
Sun god / goddess
A solar deity (also sun god or sun goddess) is a sky deity who represents the Sun, or an aspect of it, usually by its perceived power and strength. Solar deities and sun worship can be found throughout most of recorded history in various forms. The Sun is sometimes referred to by its Latin name Sol or by its Greek name Helios. The English word sun stems from Proto-Germanic *sunnǭ.
Solar deities and Sun worship can be found throughout most of recorded history in various forms, including the Egyptian Ra, the Hindu Surya, and the Germanic Sól, among others. Mesopotamian Shamash plays an important role during the Bronze Age, and “my Sun” is eventually used as an address to royalty.
Proto-Indo-European religion has a solar chariot, the sun as traversing the sky in a chariot. In Germanic mythology this is Sol, in Vedic Surya, and in Greek Helios (occasionally referred to as Titan) and (sometimes) as Apollo. Svarog is the Slavic solar deity, represented as a spirit of fire.
Shivini which is Utu in Surmeria, Shivini in Hinduism, Mithra in Mithraism, Ra in Egypti while the Armenians called it Artinis Armenian was a solar god in the mythology of the Urartu. He is the third god in a triad with Khaldi and Theispas. The Assyrian god Shamash is a counterpart to Shivini. He was depicted as a man on his knees, holding up a solar disc. His wife was most likely a goddess called Tushpuea who is listed as the third goddess on the Mheri-Dur inscription.
In paganism, the Sun was a source of life, giving warmth and illumination to mankind. It was the center of a popular cult among Romans, who would stand at dawn to catch the first rays of sunshine as they prayed. The celebration of the winter solstice (which influenced Christmas) was part of the Roman cult of the unconquered Sun (Sol Invictus).
During the Roman Empire, a festival of the birth of the Unconquered Sun (or Dies Natalis Solis Invicti) was celebrated on the winter solstice—the “rebirth” of the sun—which occurred on December 25 of the Julian calendar.
In late antiquity, the theological centrality of the sun in some Imperial religious systems suggest a form of a “solar monotheism”. The religious commemorations on December 25 were replaced under Christian domination of the Empire with the birthday of Christ. Christian churches were built with an orientation so that the congregation faced toward the sunrise in the East.
The cobra (of Pharaoh Son of Ra), the lioness (daughter of Ra), the cow (daughter of Ra), the dominant symbols of the most ancient Egyptian deities, carried their relationship to the sun atop their heads; they were female and their cults remained active throughout the history of the culture.
Later a sun god (Aten) was established in the eighteenth dynasty on top of the other solar deities, before the “aberration” was stamped out and the old pantheon re-established. When male deities became associated with the sun in that culture, they began as the offspring of a mother (except Ra, King of the Gods who gave birth to himself).
From at least the 4th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, the Sun was worshipped as the god Ra, portrayed as a falcon-headed divinity surmounted by the solar disk, and surrounded by a serpent. In the New Empire period, the Sun became identified with the dung beetle, whose spherical ball of dung was identified with the Sun. In the form of the Sun disc Aten, the Sun had a brief resurgence during the Amarna Period when it again became the preeminent, if not only, divinity for the Pharaoh Akhenaton.
In ancient Roman culture, Sunday was the day of the Sun god. It was adopted as the Sabbath day by Christians who did not have a Jewish background. The symbol of light was a pagan device adopted by Christians, and perhaps the most important one that did not come from Jewish traditions.
Sol / Sun – Norse religion
The Sun is viewed as a goddess in Germanic paganism, Sól/Sunna. Sol (Old Norse “Sun”) or Sunna (Old High German, and existing as an Old Norse and Icelandic synonym sunna, “Sun”) is the Sun personified in Germanic mythology. Sól also was called Sunna and Frau Sunne, from which are derived the words “sun” and “Sunday”.
Solar deities are often thought of as male while the lunar deity is female, but the opposite case is also seen. In Germanic mythology the Sun is female and the Moon is male. In the Norse traditions, every day, Sól rode through the sky on her chariot, pulled by two horses named Arvak and Alsvid.
The corresponding Old English name is Siȝel, continuing Proto-Germanic *Sôwilô or *Saewelô. *Sowilō or *sæwelō is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic language name of the s-rune, meaning “sun”. The name is attested for the same rune in all three Rune Poems. It appears as Old Norse sól, Old English sigel, and Gothic sugil.
Scholars theorize that the Sun, as a Germanic goddess, may represent an extension of an earlier Proto-Indo-European Sun deity because of Indo-European linguistic connections between Old Norse Sól, Sanskrit Surya, Gaulish Sulis, Lithuanian Saulė, and Slavic Solntse.
In both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda she is described as the sister of the personified moon, Máni, is the daughter of Mundilfari, is at times referred to as Álfröðull, and is foretold to be killed by a monstrous wolf during the events of Ragnarök, though beforehand she will have given birth to a daughter who continues her mother’s course through the heavens.
In the Prose Edda, she is additionally described as the wife of Glenr. As a proper noun, Sól appears throughout Old Norse literature. Scholars have produced theories about the development of the goddess from potential Nordic Bronze Age and Proto-Indo-European roots.
One of the two Old High German Merseburg Incantations, written in the 9th or 10th century CE, attests that Sunna is the sister of Sinthgunt, a figure in Germanic mythology, attested solely in the Old High German 9th- or 10th-century “horse cure” Merseburg Incantation.
In the incantation, Sinthgunt is referred to as the sister of the personified sun, Sunna (whose name is alliterative to Sinthgunt), and the two sisters are cited as both producing charms to heal Phol’s horse, a figure also otherwise unattested. The two are then followed by Friia and Uolla, also alliterative and stated as sisters.
As Sinthgunt is otherwise unattested, her significance is otherwise unknown, but some scholarly theories exist about her role in Germanic mythology based on proposed etymologies, and the potential significance of her placement within the incantation.
The etymology of Sinthgunt is unclear. Within the original manuscript, Sinthgunt is spelled “Sinhtgunt” (emphasis added). Sticking directly to this reading has yielded interpretations such as “the night-walking one”.
As a result of the paring with Sunna, the personified sun, this etymology has been interpreted as a reference to the moon. However, this reading has yielded problems; the moon in Germanic mythology is considered masculine, exemplified in the personification of the moon in Norse mythology, Máni, a male figure. Interpretations from the amended “Sinthgunt” have resulted in readings such as “the one moving into battle” or “heavenly body, star”.
The figures Fulla (Uolla) and Frigg (Friia) are attested together in later Old Norse sources (though not as sisters), and theories have been proposed that the Fulla may at one time have been an aspect of Frigg. As a result, this notion has resulted in theory that a similar situation may have existed between the figures of Sinthgunt and Sól, in that the two may have been understood as aspects of one another rather than entirely separate figures.
Saulė (Lithuanian: Saulė, Latvian: Saule) is a solar goddess, the common Baltic solar deity in the Lithuanian and Latvian mythologies. The noun Saulė/Saule in the Lithuanian and Latvian languages is also the conventional name for the Sun and originates from the Proto-Baltic name *Sauliā > *Saulē.
Saulė is one of the most powerful deities, the goddess of life and fertility, warmth and health. She is patroness of the unfortunate, especially orphans. The Lithuanian and Latvian words for “the world” (pasaulis and pasaule) are translated as “[a place] under the Sun”. Saulė is mentioned in one of the earliest written sources on Lithuanian mythology. According to Slavic translation of the Chronicle by John Malalas (1261), a powerful smith Teliavelis made the Sun and threw it into the sky.
Missionary Jeronim Jan Silvanus Prazsky (ca. 1369–1440) spent three years attempting to Christianize Lithuania and later recounted a myth about kidnapped Saulė. She was held in a tower by powerful king and rescued by the zodiac using a giant sledgehammer. Jeronim Prazsky swore that he personally witnessed the hammer, venerated by the locals.
Saulė and Mėnuo/Mēness (the Moon) were wife and husband. Mėnuo fell in love with Aušrinė, a feminine deity of the morning star or Venus, not to be confused with Aušra – dawn. Aušrinė is the antipode to Vakarinė, the Evening Star. Aušrinė is the goddess of beauty and youth. After the Christianization of Lithuania, the cult merged with Christian images and the symbolism of the Virgin Mary. Her cult possibly stems from that of the Indo-European dawn goddess Hausos and is related to Latvian Auseklis, Greek Eos, Roman Aurora, and Vedic Ushas.
For his infidelity, Perkūnas (thunder god) punished Mėnuo. There are different accounts of the punishment. One version has it that Mėnuo was cut into two pieces, but he did not learn from his mistakes and thus the punishment is repeated every month.
Another version claims that Mėnuo and Saulė divorced, but both wanted to see their daughter Žemyna (earth). That is why the Sun shines during the day, while the Moon visits at night. A third version claims that the face of Mėnuo was disfigured by either Dievas (the supreme god) or Saulė.
Lithuanian Dievas, Latvian Dievs, Latgalian Dīvs, Prussian Deywis, Yotvingian Deivas was the supreme god in the Baltic mythology and one of the most important deities together with Perkūnas. Dievas is a direct successor of the Proto-Indo-European supreme god *Dyēus of the root *deiwo-. Its Proto-Baltic form was *Deivas.
Gintaras Beresnevičius noted that Dievas assumed a position of a non-active divine being – deus otiosus – therefore his cult among the Balts was doubtful and that sacred places devoted to Dangaus Dievas are not even mentioned in the Baltic mythology.
Concerning the God (Dievas) in the old Lithuanian religion, modern interpretations lack sources too. Regardless, that the conception of the single Chief God was acknowledged by Lithuanians is well documented and is not in doubt. The word Dievas itself seems to be omitted respectfully or changed to its epithets in Lithuanian: Aukščiausiasis (‘the Highest’), Visagalis (‘the Omnipotent’), Praamžis (‘the Eternal one’) or Pondzejis (‘Lord God’) and in Prussian as Occopirmzts.
In recent Lithuanian, this word may refer to the deity of any kind (Pagan, Christian, fictional and the like). In English, Dievas may be used as a word to describe the God (or, the supreme god) in the pre-Christian religion of Balts, where Dievas was understood to be the supreme being of the world. In Lithuanian and Latvian, it is also used to describe God as it is understood by major world religions today.
Earlier *Deivas simply denoted the shining sunlit dome of the sky, as in other Indo-European mythologies. The celestial aspect is still apparent in phrases such as Saule noiet dievā, from Latvian folksongs. In Hinduism any deity is known as Deva, a result of shared Proto-Indo-European roots.
In other myths, Aušrinė is depicted as a daughter and servant of Saulė. Aušrinė lights the fire for Saulė and makes her ready for another day’s journey across the sky. Vakarinė (the evening star) makes the bed for Saulė in the evening. In the Lithuanian mythology, Saulė was mother of other planets: Indraja (Jupiter), Sėlija (Saturn), Žiezdrė (Mars), Vaivora (Mercury).
Saulė’s feast was celebrated during the summer solstice. Lithuanian Rasos (turned into Saint Jonas’ Festival by Christianity) and Latvian Līgo (turned into Jāņi) involve making wreaths, looking for the magical fern flower, burning bonfires, dancing around and leaping over the fire, and greeting the sun when it rises at around 4am next morning. It is the most joyous traditional holiday. The winter solstice is celebrated as the return of Saulė. Christianity absorbed Lithuanian Kūčios and Latvian Ziemassvētki into Christmas. Other celebrations took place around the equinoxes.
Babylonian astronomy collated earlier observations and divinations into sets of Babylonian star catalogues, during and after the Kassite rule over Babylonia. These star catalogues, written in cuneiform script, contained lists of constellations, individual stars, and planets. The constellations were probably collected from various other sources, the earliest catalogue, Three Stars Each mentions stars of Akkad, of Amurru, of Elam and others.
Various sources have theorized a Sumerian origin for these Babylonian constellations, but an Elamite origin has also been proposed. A connection to the star symbology of Kassite kudurru border stones has also been claimed, but whether such kudurrus really represented constellations and astronomical information aside for the use of the symbols remains unclear.
The second formal compendium of stars in Babylonian astronomy is the MUL.APIN, a pair of tablets named for their incipit, corresponding to the first constellation of the year, MULAPIN, meaning “The Plough”, identified with Triangulum plus Gamma Andromedae, the third-brightest point of light in the constellation of Andromeda.
The list is a direct descendent of the Three Stars Each list, reworked around 1000 BC on the basis of more accurate observations. They include more constellations, including most circumpolar ones, and more of the zodiacal ones. It lists, among others, 17 or 18 constellations in the zodiac. Later catalogues reduces the zodiacal set of constellations to 12, which were borrowed by the Egyptians and the Greeks, still surviving among the modern constellations.
The first formal compendia of star lists are the Three Stars Each texts appearing from about the 12th century BC. They represent a tripartite division of the heavens: the northern hemisphere belonged to Enlil, the equator belonged to Anu, and the southern hemisphere belonged to Enki. The boundaries were at 17 degrees North and South, so that the Sun spent exactly three consecutive months in each third.
The enumeration of stars in the Three Stars Each catalogues includes 36 stars, three for each month. The determiner glyph for “constellation” or “star” in these lists is MUL (𒀯, in origin a pictograph of three stars, as it were a triplet of AN signs (the Pleiades are referred to as a “star cluster” or “star of stars” in the lists, written as MUL.MUL, or MULMUL, 𒀯𒀯).
The path of the Moon as given in MUL.APIN consists of 17 or 18 stations, recognizable as the direct predecessor of the twelve-sign zodiac. The beginning of the list with MUL.MUL “Pleiades” corresponds to the situation in the Early to Middle Bronze Age when the Sun at vernal equinox was close to the Pleiades in Taurus (closest in the 23rd century BC), and not yet in Aries.
Triangulum is a small constellation in the northern sky. Its name is Latin for “triangle”, derived from its three brightest stars, which form a long and narrow triangle. The Plough was the first constellation of the “Way of Enlil”—that is, the northernmost quarter of the Sun’s path, which corresponds to the 45 days on either side of summer solstice. Its first appearance in the pre-dawn sky (heliacal rising) in February marked the time to begin spring ploughing in Mesopotamia.
The Ancient Greeks called Triangulum Deltoton (Δελτωτόν), as the constellation resembled an upper-case Greek letter delta (Δ). It was transliterated by Roman writers, then later Latinised as Deltotum. In Chinese astronomy, Gamma Andromedae and neighbouring stars including Beta, Gamma and Delta Trianguli were called Teen Ta Tseang Keun (“Heaven’s great general”), representing honour in astrology and a great general in mythology
The Babylonian star catalogues entered Greek astronomy in the 4th century BC, via Eudoxus of Cnidus and others. A few of the constellation names in use in modern astronomy can be traced to Babylonian sources via Greek astronomy. Among the most ancient constellations are those that marked the four cardinal points of the year in the Middle Bronze Age, i.e.
Taurus “The Bull”, from GU.AN.NA “The Steer of Heaven”, marking vernal equinox, Leo “The Lion”, from UR.GU.LA “The Lion”, marking summer solstice, Scorpius “The Scorpion”, from GIR.TAB “The Scorpion”, marking autumn equinox, Capricornus “Goat-Horned”, from SUḪUR.MAŠ “The Goat-Fish”, marking winter solstice.
There are other constellation names which can be traced to Bronze Age origins, including Gemini “The Twins”, from MAŠ.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL “The Great Twins”, Cancer “The Crab”, from AL.LUL “The Crayfish”, among others.
There are four “royal stars” – Aldeberan, the Bull’s Eye, the central star of Mul Gud An Na, the “Bull of Heaven”; Regulus, the Lion’s Heart, shining from Mul Ur Gu La, the Lion; Antares, the glowing red ember of Mul Gir Tab’s (Scorpio’s) heart; and Fomalhaut, beneath the stream of water spilling from the urn of Mul Gu La, “The Great One” (Aquarius).
Many people associate the Sign of Leo with power, strength, and royalty. While the people of ancient Mesopotamia certainly attributed the lion with these, it also held much darker connotations. Ancient astrologs associated Leo with authority, conflict, consumption, creation (through destructive or transformative means), death, destruction, disease, divine protection, drought, exorcism, ferocity, fire, healing, heat, hunger, illness, indecision, justice, law, love, lust, nature, offense, order, passion, power, protection, rage, righteousness, sex, strength, summer, and war.
In the Babylonian Zodiac, the constellation we now know as Leo, was once called UR.GU.LA, which literally translates as “Great Carnivore.” In ancient times, the celestial lion gained prominence in the Mesopotamian sky, just as the dry, deadly summer was reaching it’s peak. This was a time of drought, pestilence, and death, and the sign of Leo was no doubt closely associated with all of these. While it’s not certain who the celestial lion represents, there are a few Mesopotamian deities who fit the bill.
With its majestic mane and golden fur, the lion was a natural choice as a symbol of the sun. Perhaps that’s why both Shamash, the solar God of Law and Justice, and Negral, the solar God of War and Pestilence, were often depicted as such. It’s far more likely that the constellation of Leo would represent Negral, especially considering that the God of Death and Drought was considered the midday and midsummer aspect of Shamash.
Some have suggested that Leo depicts the Sumerian Inanna, who was often referred to as the “Lioness of Heaven.” However, I feel she is a less likely candidate, as she is clearly represented in a nearby constellation, not far below the lion’s shoulder. Still, the connection between the lion and the Goddess of War should not be overlooked; she was known to posses a sacred lion which accompanied her into battle. If nothing else, this reminds us of the lion’s connection to war – summer being the preferred time for leading foreign campaigns.
Another option would be the Sumerian Humbaba, the fire-breathing guardian of the cedar forest in the home of the Gods. In mythology, Humbaba was raised by Shamash, affirming his connections to both the sun and Negral. As his representative, the monstrous lion would have possessed some of Shamash’s righteous attributes; making him a natural choice as protector and defender of the sacred wood.
Here we see a slight deviation from the ravenous carnivore of the summer constellation; Humaba, while a ferocious monster by any standards, is a protector of the natural world and divine order.
Humbaba isn’t the only protective lion in the ancient world. Statues of the Assyrian Lamassu have been found throughout Mesopotamia. The statues, which depict great lions with the heads of men, were placed at entrances of palaces, cities, and even homes as both a form of divine protection. For those who could harness it’s ravenous power, the lion was a symbol of strength and divine authority.
One of the most notable lion figures in Egyptian mythology was Sekhmet, whose similarities to the Sumerian Negral are impossible to overlook. Like Negral, the lion-headed Goddess was associated with war, carnage, pestilence, protection from death and illness, justice, and the midday sun. Oddly enough, both deities fell madly in love with their consorts upon first sight.
In mythology, the Sun God, Ra, Sends Sekhmet to punish humanity for their wickedness. She descends upon the land, which runs red with the blood of the masses. The benevolent Ra feels sorry for human kind, and commands Sekhmet to cease her work. However, she is mad with blood-lust, and it only subdued after Ra tricks her into drinking a lot of red beer. Upon waking, she sees Ptah, the God of Creation, and falls hopelessly in love.
This is not unlike the story of Negral, who after insulting the goddess Ereshkigal, by refusing to kneel to her representative, falls madly in love with the Queen of the Underworld, upon meeting her to make amends.
But Negral isn’t the only Mesopotamian deity who shares similarities to Sekhmet. Humbaba, the adopted son of the Sun God, was a fire-breathing protector and servant of justice. Sekhmet, the daughter of the Sun God, Ra, was known as a fierce protector and servant of justice. And, it was said that she created the deserts simply by breathing upon the land.
Her ability to shape the world may be due in part to her association with her husband, Ptah, the God of Creation. It is well known that Sekhmet was the patroness of doctors and healers in ancient Egypt.
Another son of Sekhmet, was the lion-headed Mahees, with whom I illustrated the similarities to Negral in my article about the Gemini. Like the Mesopotamian Shamash, Mahees, too, was a fighter of demons, reaffirming Sekmet’s connection to the same.
Regardless of which deity was represented by the constellation Leo, the theme of the celestial lion was the same throughout the region. The same themes reoccur throughout Mesopotamian and Egyptian mythology.
Regulus, also designated Alpha Leonis (α Leonis, abbreviated Alpha Leo, α Leo), is the brightest star in the constellation of Leo and one of the brightest stars in the night sky. Rēgulus is Latin for ‘prince’ or ‘little king’. The Greek variant Basiliscus is also used. It is known as Qalb al-Asad, from the Arabic, meaning ‘the heart of the lion’. This phrase is sometimes approximated as Kabelaced and translates into Latin as Cor Leōnis. It is known in Chinese as the Fourteenth Star of Xuanyuan, the Yellow Emperor. In Hindu astronomy, Regulus corresponds to the Nakshatra Magha (“the bountiful”).
Babylonians called it Sharru (“the King”), and it marked the 15th ecliptic constellation. In India it was known as Maghā (“the Mighty”), in Sogdiana Magh (“the Great”), in Persia Miyan (“the Centre”) and also as Venant, one of the four ‘royal stars’ of the Persian monarchy. In MUL.APIN, Regulus is listed as LUGAL, meaning “the star that stands in the breast of the Lion: the King.” Interestingly, the ensis of Lagash would sometimes refer to the city’s patron deity, Ningirsu (Ninurta), as their lugal (“master”).
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.
Nergal’s fiery aspect appears in names or epithets such as Lugalgira, Lugal-banda (Nergal as the fighting-cock), Sharrapu (“the burner,” a reference to his manner of dealing with outdated teachings), Erra, Gibil (though this name more properly belongs to Nusku), and Sibitti or Seven. A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninurta (slayer of Asag and wielder of Sharur, an enchanted mace) and Nergal. Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king,” the “furious one,” and the like.
In Greek mythology, Leo was identified as the Nemean Lion which was killed by Hercules during one of his twelve labours, and subsequently put into the sky. The Roman poet Ovid called it Herculeus Leo and Violentus Leo. Bacchi Sidus (star of Bacchus) was another of its titles, the god Bacchus always being identified with this animal. However, Manilius called it Jovis et Junonis Sidus (Star of Jupiter and Juno).