Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

New Year celebration – when?

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 23, 2016

Bilderesultat for astrological signs

Winter solstice

Summer solstice

March equinox

From Aries to Pisces and then to Aquarius (Spring Equinox)

From Aquarius to Capricorn and then to Sagittarius (Winter Solstice)

Anu – Nergal (Tyr) – Mars – Libra / Tammuzi (Balder) – Dionysus – Aries 

Enlil (North) (Njord) – Cancer / Enki (South) (Odin) – Saturn – Capricorn

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.

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.

In the astral theology of Babylonia and Assyria, Anu, Enlil, and Ea became the three zones of the ecliptic, the northern, middle and southern zone respectively. The purely theoretical character of Anu is thus still further emphasized, and in the annals and votive inscriptions as well as in the incantations and hymns, he is rarely introduced as an active force to whom a personal appeal can be made. His name becomes little more than a synonym for the heavens in general and even his title as king or father of the gods has little of the personal element in it.

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

When Enlil rose to equal or surpass An in authority, the functions of the two deities came to some extent to overlap. An was also sometimes equated with Amurru, and, in Seleucid Uruk, with Enmešara and Dumuzi. Enmesarra, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld god of the law. Described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore he has been equated with Nergal. On the other hand, he has been described as an ancestor of Enlil, and it has been claimed that Enlil slew him.

Cancer – the Moon

Cancer is the fourth astrological sign, which is associated with the constellation Cancer. It spans the 90-120th degree of the zodiac, between 90 and 120 degrees of celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between June 22 and July 22, and under the sidereal zodiac, the Sun transits this area between approximately July 15 and August 15.

Along with Scorpio and Pisces, Cancer forms the Water Trigon. The Water Trigon is one of four elemental trigons, fire, earth, air, and water. When a trigon is influential, it affects changes on earth. Cancer is said to be the house of Neptune and the exaltation of Jupiter, both astronomical bodies having influence over those born under Cancer. In Vedic astrology the sign has name Karka and its Lord is Moon.

The sign of Cancer is said to be associated with the characteristics: water, phlegmatic, cardinal, northern, nocturnal, tenacious, intuitive, and fruitful. Cancer is a northern sign and its opposite southern sign is Capricorn. Places that Cancer is associated with are the sea, rivers, brooks, wells, wash-houses, marsh grounds, and trenches.

The symbol of the crab is based on the Karkinos, a giant crab that harassed Heracles during his fight with the Hydra. The story of Cancer the Crab is said to be connected to Hercules. Some storytellers say that during Hercules’ fight with Lernaean Hydra, Hera, sent a crab to snap at Hercules’ toes because Hera had sworn to kill Hercules. Hercules was able to kill the crab by smashing its shell with his foot. As a reward for its efforts serving her, Hera placed the crab in the sky and it became Cancer.

The Moon is the ruling planet of Cancer and is exalted in Taurus. Nanna (Sumerian: DŠEŠ.KI, DNANNA) or Sin (Akkadian: Su’en, Sîn) 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.

He is commonly designated as En-zu, which means “lord of wisdom”. 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. 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.

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. 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.

His wife was Ningal (“Great Lady”), who bore him Utu/Shamash (“Sun”) and Inanna/Ishtar (the goddess of the planet Venus). 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.

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.

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”.

In Roman mythology, the Moon was Luna, at times identified with Diana. The Moon is large enough for its gravity to affect the Earth, stabilizing its orbit and producing the regular ebb and flow of the tides. The lunar day syncs up with its orbit around Earth in such a manner that the same side of the Moon always faces the Earth and the other side, known as the “far side of the Moon” faces towards space.

The Moon or Luna is associated with Monday, the word Monday comes from the Old English word for Moon day or Moon’s day, and in Romance languages, the name for Monday comes from luna (e.g., luni in Romanian, lundi in French, lunes in Spanish and lunedi in Italian). Dante Alighieri associated the Moon with the liberal art of grammar.

In Chinese astrology, the Moon represents Yin, the passive and receptive feminine life principle. In Indian astrology, the Moon is called Chandra or Soma and represents the mind, queenship and mother. The north lunar node (called Rahu) and the south lunar node (called Ketu) are considered to be of particular importance and are given an equal place alongside the seven classical planets as part of the nine navagraha.

Saturn

The figure of Saturn is one of the most complex in Roman religion. G. Dumézil refrained from discussing Saturn in his work on Roman religion on the grounds of our insufficient knowledge. On the contrary, his follower Dominique Briquel has attempted a thorough interpretation of Saturn utilising Dumézil’s three-functional theory of Indoeuropean religion, taking the ancient testimonies and the works of A. Brelich and G. Piccaluga as his basis.

The main difficulty scholars find in studying Saturn is in assessing what is original of his figure and what is due to later hellenising influences. Moreover, some features of the god may be common to Cronus but are nonetheless very ancient and can be considered proper to the Roman god, whereas others are certainly later and arrived after 217 BC, the year in which the Greek customs of the Kronia were introduced into the Saturnalia.

Among the features which are definitely authentic of the Roman god, Briquel identifies: the time of his festival in the calendar, which corresponds to the date of the consecration of his temple (the Greek Cronia on the other hand took place in June–July); his association with Lua Mater, and the location of his cult on the Capitol, which goes back to remote times.

These three elements in Briquel’s view indicate that Saturn is a sovereign god. The god’s strict relationship with the cults of the Capitoline Hill and in particular with Jupiter are highlighted by the legends concerning the refusal of gods Iuventas and Terminus to leave their abode in the shrines on the Capitol when the temple of Jupiter was to be built. These two deities correspond to the helper gods of the sovereign in Vedic religion (Briquel refers to Dhritarashtra and Vidura, the figures of the Mahabharata) and to the Cyclopes and Hecatonchires in Hesiod.

Whereas the helper gods belong to the second divine generation they become active only at the level of the third in each of the three instances of India, Greece and Rome, where they become a sort of continuation of Jupiter.

Dumézil postulated a split of the figure of the sovereign god in Indoeuropean religion, which is embodied by Vedic gods Varuna and Mitra. Of the two, the first one shows the aspect of the magic, uncanny, awe inspiring power of creation and destruction, while the second shows the reassuring aspect of guarantor of the legal order in organised social life. Whereas in Jupiter these double features have coalesced, Briquel sees Saturn as showing the characters of a sovereign god of the Varunian type.

His nature becomes evident in his mastership over the annual time of crisis around the winter solstice, epitomised in the power of subverting normal codified social order and its rules, which is apparent in the festival of the Saturnalia, in the mastership of annual fertility and renewal, in the power of annihilation present in his paredra Lua, in the fact that he is the god of a timeless era of plenty and bounty before time, which he reinstates at the time of the yearly crisis of the winter solstice.

Also, in Roman and Etruscan reckoning Saturn is a wielder of lightning; no other agricultural god (in the sense of specialized human activity) is one. Hence the mastership he has on agriculture and wealth cannot be that of a god of the third function, i.e. of production, wealth, and pleasure, but it stems from his magical lordship over creation and destruction.

Although these features are to be found in Greek god Cronus as well, it appears that those features were proper to Roman Saturn’s most ancient aspects, such as his presence on the Capitol and his association with Jupiter, who in the stories of the arrival of the Pelasgians in the land of the Sicels and that of the Argei orders human sacrifices to him.

Sacrifices to Saturn were performed according to “Greek rite” (ritus graecus), with the head uncovered, in contrast to those of other major Roman deities, which were performed capite velato, “with the head covered.” Saturn himself, however, was represented as veiled (involutus), as for example in a wall painting from Pompeii that shows him holding a sickle and covered with a white veil. This feature is in complete accord with the character of a sovereign god of the Varunian type and is common with German god Odin.

Briquel remarks Servius had already seen that the choice of the Greek rite was due to the fact that the god himself is imagined and represented as veiled, thence his sacrifice cannot be carried out by a veiled man: this is an instance of the reversal of the current order of things typical of the nature of the deity as appears in its festival. Plutarch writes his figure is veiled because he is the father of truth.

Pliny notes that the cult statue of Saturn was filled with oil; the exact meaning of this is unclear. Its feet were bound with wool, which was removed only during the Saturnalia. The fact that the statue was filled with oil and the feet were bound with wool may relate back to the myth of “The Castration of Uranus”. In this myth Rhea gives Cronus a rock to eat in Zeus’ stead thus tricking Cronus. Although mastership of knots is a feature of Greek origin it is also typical of the Varunian sovereign figure, as apparent e.g. in Odin.

Once Zeus was victorious over Cronus, he sets this stone up at Delphi and constantly it is anointed with oil and strands of unwoven wool are placed on it. It wore a red cloak, and was brought out of the temple to take part in ritual processions and lectisternia, banquets at which images of the gods were arranged as guests on couches. All these ceremonial details identify a sovereign figure. Briquel concludes that Saturn was a sovereign god of a time that the Romans perceived as no longer actual, that of the legendary origins of the world, before civilization.

Little evidence exists in Italy for the cult of Saturn outside Rome, but his name resembles that of the Etruscan god Satres. The potential cruelty of Saturn was enhanced by his identification with Cronus, known for devouring his own children. He was thus used in translation when referring to gods from other cultures the Romans perceived as severe; he was equated with the Carthaginian god Ba’al Hammon, to whom children were sacrificed, and to Yahweh, whose Sabbath was first referred to as Saturni dies, “Saturn’s day,” in a poem by Tibullus, who wrote during the reign of Augustus; eventually this gave rise to the word “Saturday” in English.

The identification with Ba’al Hammon later gave rise to the African Saturn, a cult that enjoyed great popularity until the 4th century. It had a popular but also a mysteric character and required child sacrifices. It is also considered as inclining to monotheism. In the ceremony of initiation the myste intrat sub iugum, ritual that Leglay compares to the Roman tigillum sororium.

Even though their origin and theology are completely different the Italic and the African god are both sovereign and master over time and death, fact that has permitted their encounter. Moreover, here Saturn is not the real Italic god but his Greek counterpart Cronus.

Saturn had two consorts who represented different aspects of the god. The name of his wife Ops, the Roman equivalent of Greek Rhea, means “wealth, abundance, resources.” The association with Ops though is considered a later development, as this goddess was originally paired with Consus, the protector of grains.

Earlier was Saturn’s association with Lua (“destruction, dissolution, loosening”), a goddess who received the bloodied weapons of enemies destroyed in war. H.S. Versnel, however, proposed that Lua, sometimes called Lua Saturni (“Saturn’s Lua”), should not be identified with Lua Mater, but rather refers to “loosening”; she thus represents the liberating function of Saturn.

The Opiconsivia (or Opeconsiva or Opalia) was an ancient Roman religious festival held August 25 in honor of Ops (“Plenty”), also known as Opis, a goddess of agricultural resources and wealth. The festival marked the end of harvest, with a mirror festival on December 19 concerned with the storage of the grain.

The Latin word consivia (or consiva) derives from conserere (“to sow”). Opis was deemed a chthonic (underworld, inside the earth) goddess who made the vegetation grow. Since her abode was inside the earth, Ops was invoked by her worshipers while sitting, with their hands touching the ground, according to Macrobius (Saturnalia, I:10). Consus seems to be an alternate name of Saturn in the chthonic aspect as consort, since he is also held to be the husband of Ops.

Although Ops is a consort of Saturn, she was also closely associated with Consus, the protector of grains and subterranean storage bins (silos). The festival of Consus, the Consualia, was celebrated twice a year, each time preceding that of Ops: once on August 21, after the harvest, and once on December 15, after the sowing of crops was finished.

In ancient Roman religion, the god Consus was the protector of grains. He was represented by a grain seed. He is the “holder” of the Earth, an idea that makes of him a parallel to Poseidon. So although it is certain that condere and consulere are from two different roots, it looks the character of Consus as hidden master of the Earth was at the basis of the identification with Poseidon, as well as the strict affinity of the two gods with the horse.

Consus is perhaps to be identified with “Equestrian Neptune” (Neptunus Equestris). Mule or horse races were the main event of the festival. During the festival horses and mules were garlanded with flowers, and given a rest from work. This fact is ascribed by Capdeville to the fact that Poseidon was the successor of the unknown god of the Arcadian Hippocrateia mentioned by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who himself was perhaps the successor of a horse god. A close connection of Consus with the two Pales and of both with the horse looks apparent.

The festivals of Ops (Opiconsivia or Opalia) followed his closely, being held every August 25 and December 19, at the time of reaping and the seeding of crops.

Saturn is the ruling planet of Capricorn and Aquarius and is exalted in Libra. Saturn takes 29.5 years to orbit the Sun, spending about 2.46 years in each sign of the zodiac. The glyph is shaped like a scythe, but it is known as the “crescent below the cross”, whereas Jupiter’s glyph is the “crescent above the cross”. In Roman mythology, Saturn is the god of agriculture, leader of the titans, founder of civilizations, social order, and conformity. The famous rings of the planet Saturn that enclose and surround it, reflect the idea of human limitations.

Astrologically speaking, Saturn is associated with focus, precision, nobility, ethics, civility, lofty goals, purpose, career, great achievements, dedication, authority figures, ordered hierarchy, stability, virtues, productiveness, valuable hard lessons learned, destiny, conforming social structures, balance, and karma (reaping what you have sowed or divine cosmic justice) but also with limitations, restrictions, boundaries, anxiety, tests, practicality, reality, and time. It concerns a person’s sense of duty, discipline, responsibility, including their physical and emotional endurance during hardships.

Saturn is also considered to represent the part of a person concerned with long-term planning or foresight. The Return of Saturn is said to mark significant events in each person’s life. According to the 1st-century poet Manilius, Saturn is sad, morose, and cold, and is the greater malefic. According to Claudius Ptolemy, “Saturn is lord of the right ear, the spleen, the bladder, the phlegm, and the bones.” Saturn symbolized processes and things that were dry and cold, which are necessary balancing aspects to maintain life. It governed the melancholic humor.

According to Sefer Yetzirah – GRA Version – Kaplan 4:13: “He made the letter Resh king over Peace And He bound a crown to it And He combined one with another And with them He formed Saturn in the Universe Friday in the Year The left nostril in the Soul, male and female.”

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. In modern astrology, it is the primary native ruler of the tenth house. Traditionally however, Saturn ruled both the first and eighth houses.

Saturn is associated with Saturday, which was named after the deity Saturn. Dante Alighieri associated Saturn with the liberal art of astronomia (astronomy and astrology).

In Chinese astrology, Saturn is ruled by the element earth, which is warm, generous, and co-operative. In Indian astrology, Saturn is called Shani or “Sani”, representing a noteworthy career and longevity. He is also the bringer of obstacles and hardship.

In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility. In Old Icelandic translations of Classical mythology the Roman god Saturn’s name is glossed as “Njörðr.”

In Germanic paganism, Nerthus is a goddess associated with fertility. The name Nerthus is generally held to be a Latinized form of Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, a direct precursor to the Old Norse deity name Njörðr. While developments in historical linguistics ultimately allowed for the identification of Nerthus with Njörðr, various other readings of the name were in currency prior to the acceptance of this identification, most commonly the form Hertha. This form was proposed as an attempt to mirror the Old Norse goddess name Jörð ‘earth’.

In Norse mythology, Njörun (Old Norse Njǫrun, sometimes modernly anglicized as Niorun) is a goddess attested in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and various kennings (including once in the Poetic Edda). Scholarly theories concerning her name and function in the pantheon include etymological connections to the Norse god Njörðr and the Roman goddess Nerio, and suggestions that she may represent the earth and/or be the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr.

Several scholars have suggested that the stem syllable in her name, Njǫr-, may represent the element *ner- as in Tacitus’ earth-goddess Nerthus (*Ner-þuz), whose name is etymologically identical with that of the Norse god Njǫrðr, and that Njörun may therefore be a name for the earth.

First Point of Aries 

The First Point of Aries is the location of the vernal equinox, and is named for the constellation of Aries. It is one of the two points on the celestial sphere at which the celestial equator meets the ecliptic plane, the other being the First Point of Libra, located exactly 180° from it.

Over its year-long journey through the constellations, the Sun crosses the celestial equator from south to north at the First Point of Aries, and from north to south at the First Point of Libra. The First Point of Aries is considered to be the celestial “prime meridian” from which right ascensions are calculated.

The First Point of Aries (also known as the Cusp of Aries) is so called because, when Hipparchus defined it in 130 BCE, it was located in the western extreme of the constellation of Aries, near its border with Pisces and the star γ Arietis.

Due to the Sun’s eastward movement across the sky throughout the year, this western end of Aries was the point at which the Sun entered the constellation, hence the name First Point of Aries. However, due to Earth’s axial precession, this point gradually moves westwards at a rate of about one degree every 72 years.

This means that, since the time of Hipparchus, it has shifted across the sky by about 30°, and is currently located within Pisces, near its border with Aquarius. The Sun now appears in Aries from late April through mid May, though the constellation is still associated with the beginning of spring. Currently, the closest major star to the First Point of Aries is λ Piscium, located at (23h 42m 03s, 01° 46′ 48″).

The Cusp of Aries is important to the fields of astronomy, nautical navigation and astrology. Navigational ephemeris tables record the geographic position of the First Point of Aries as the reference for position of navigational stars.

Due to the slow precession of the equinoxes, the Zenith view (above a location) of constellations at a time of year from a given location have slowly walked West (by using solar epochs the drift is known).

The tropical zodiac is identically affected and no longer correspond with the constellations (the Cusp of Libra today is located within Virgo), and is the basis for the concept of astrological ages. In sidereal astrology, by contrast, the first point of Aries remains aligned with the Aries constellation.

Winter Solstice

Capricornus is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for “horned goat” or “goat horn” or “having horns like a goat’s”, and it is commonly represented in the form of a sea-goat: a mythical creature that is half goat, half fish. Its symbol is Capricorn.

Capricornus is one of the 88 modern constellations, and was also one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. Under its modern boundaries it is bordered by Aquila, Sagittarius, Microscopium, Piscis Austrinus, and Aquarius. The constellation is located in an area of sky called the Sea or the Water, consisting of many water-related constellations such as Aquarius, Pisces and Eridanus. It is the smallest constellation in the zodiac.

Despite its faintness, Capricornus has one of the oldest mythological associations, having been consistently represented as a hybrid of a goat and a fish since the Middle Bronze Age. First attested in depictions on a cylinder-seal from around the 21st century BC, it was explicitly recorded in the Babylonian star catalogues as MULSUḪUR.MAŠ “The Goat-Fish” before 1000 BC. The constellation was a symbol of the god Ea and in the Early Bronze Age marked the winter solstice.

Due to the precession of the equinoxes the December solstice no longer takes place while the sun is in the constellation Capricornus, as it did until 130 BCE, but the astrological sign called Capricorn begins with the solstice. The solstice now takes place when the Sun is in the constellation (not the sign) of Sagittarius.

The sun’s most southerly position, which is attained at the northern hemisphere’s winter solstice, is now called the Tropic of Capricorn, a term which also applies to the line on the Earth at which the sun is directly overhead at noon on that solstice. The Sun is now in Capricorn from late January through mid-February.

In Greek mythology, the constellation is sometimes identified as Amalthea, the goat that suckled the infant Zeus after his mother, Rhea, saved him from being devoured by his father, Cronos. The goat’s broken horn was transformed into the cornucopia or horn of plenty. Capricornus is also sometimes identified as Pan, the god with a goat’s head, who saved himself from the monster Typhon by giving himself a fish’s tail and diving into a river.

Capricorn and Aries

Mars is the ruling planet of Aries and Scorpio and is exalted in Capricorn. Pluto is the ruling planet of Scorpio and is possibly exalted in Leo. The detriment to Aries is Libra.

Saturn is the ruling planet of Capricorn and Aquarius and is exalted in Libra. Uranus is the ruling planet of Aquarius and is exalted in Scorpio. The detriment to Capricorn is Cancer.

Capricorn is the tenth astrological sign in the zodiac, originating from the constellation of Capricornus. It spans the 270–300th degree of the zodiac, corresponding to celestial longitude.

Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this area from December 22 to January 19 each year, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits the constellation of Capricorn from approximately January 16 to February 16. Individuals born between December 21 to January 19 may be called Capricornian.

In astrology, Capricorn is considered an earth sign, negative sign, and one of the four cardinal signs. Capricorn is said to be ruled by the planet Saturn. Its symbol is based on the Sumerians’ primordial god of wisdom and waters, Enki with the head and upper body of a mountain goat, and the lower body and tail of a fish.

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.

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 winged ram, which was held in Colchis. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship.

According to the tropical system of astrology, the Sun enters the sign of Aries when it reaches the northern vernal equinox, which occurs around March 21. Hamal, alternatively designated Alpha Arietis (α Arietis, abbreviated Alpha Ari, α Ari), is the brightest star in the northern zodiacal constellation of Aries.

The traditional name Hamal (also written Hemal, Hamul, Ras Hammel) derives from the Arabic rās al-ħamal “head of the ram”, in turn from the name for the constellation as a whole, Al Ħamal “the ram”.

January and March

January is the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the first month to have the length of 31 days. The first day of the month is known as New Year’s Day. It is, on average, the coldest month of the year within most of the Northern Hemisphere (where it is the second month of winter) and the warmest month of the year within most of the Southern Hemisphere (where it is the second month of summer). In the Southern hemisphere, January is the seasonal equivalent of July in the Northern hemisphere and vice versa.

January (in Latin, Ianuarius) is named after the Latin word for door (ianua), since January is the door to the year. The month is conventionally thought of as being named after Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology, but according to ancient Roman farmers’ almanacs Juno was the tutelary deity of the month.

Juno is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister (but also the wife) of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Juno also looked after the women of Rome.

Her Greek equivalent was Hera. Her Etruscan counterpart was Uni. As the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman Empire, Juno was called Regina (“Queen”) and, together with Jupiter and Minerva, was worshipped as a triad on the Capitol (Juno Capitolina) in Rome.

Traditionally, the original Roman calendar consisted of 10 months totaling 304 days, winter being considered a month-less period. Around 713 BC, the semi-mythical successor of Romulus, King Numa Pompilius, is supposed to have added the months of January and February, so that the calendar covered a standard lunar year (354 days).

Although March was originally the first month in the old Roman calendar, January became the first month of the calendar year either under Numa or under the Decemvirs about 450 BC (Roman writers differ). In contrast, each specific calendar year was identified by the names of the two consuls, who entered office on May 1[citation needed] or March 15 until 153 BC, from when they entered office on January 1.

Various Christian feast dates were used for the New Year in Europe during the Middle Ages, including March 25 (Feast of the Annunciation) and December 25. However, medieval calendars were still displayed in the Roman fashion with twelve columns from January to December.

Beginning in the 16th century, European countries began officially making January 1 the start of the New Year once again—sometimes called Circumcision Style because this was the date of the Feast of the Circumcision, being the seventh day after December 25.

Contradictions of the ancient Roman calendar on the beginning of the new year: originally March was the first month and February the last one. January, the month of Janus, became the first afterwards and through several manipulations.

Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox – Mythology

Many modern Christmas customs have been directly influenced by such festivals, including gift-giving and merrymaking from the Roman Saturnalia, greenery, lights, and charity from the Roman New Year, and Yule logs and various foods from Germanic feasts.

Macrobius (5th century AD) presents an interpretation of the Saturnalia as a festival of light leading to the winter solstice. The renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25.

Saint Nicholas (15 March 270 – 6 December 343), also called Nikolaos of Myra, was a historic 4th-century Christian saint and Greek Bishop of Myra, in Asia Minor (modern-day Demre, Turkey).

Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints, and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus through Sinterklaas.

Saturn is a god in ancient Roman religion, and a character in myth. He was the first god of the Capitol, known since the most ancient times as Saturnius Mons, and was seen as a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation. In later developments he came to be also a god of time.

His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of plenty and peace. The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum housed the state treasury. In December, he was celebrated at what is perhaps the most famous of the Roman festivals, the Saturnalia, a time of feasting, role reversals, free speech, gift-giving and revelry. Saturn the planet and Saturday are both named after the god.

The winter solstice (or hibernal solstice), also known as midwinter, is an astronomical phenomenon marking the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere this is the December solstice and in the Southern Hemisphere this is the June solstice.

Elagabalus or Heliogabalus was initially venerated at Emesa in Syria. The name is the Latinised form of the Semitic Ilāh hag-Gabal, which derives from Ilāh “god” and gabal “mountain”, resulting in “the God of the Mountain”, the Emesene manifestation of the deity.

The cult statue was brought to Rome by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, who, before his accession, was the hereditary high priest at Emesa and was commonly called Elagabalus after the deity. After the Emperor was killed in 222, his religious edicts were reversed and the cult of Elagabalus returned to Emesa.

A temple called the Elagabalium was built on the east face of the Palatine Hill, to house the holy stone of the Emesa temple, a black conical meteorite. Herodian writes of that stone: This stone is worshipped as though it were sent from heaven; on it there are some small projecting pieces and markings that are pointed out, which the people would like to believe are a rough picture of the sun, because this is how they see them.

Baetylus (also Bethel, or Betyl, from Semitic bet el “house of god”) is a word denoting sacred stones that were supposedly endowed with life. According to ancient sources, these objects of worship were meteorites, which were dedicated to the gods or revered as symbols of the gods themselves. A baetyl is also mentioned in the Bible at Bethel in the Book of Genesis in the story of Jacob’s Ladder. Among monotheists, a similar practice survives today with Islam’s Black Stone.

In ancient Greek religion and mythology, the term was specially applied to the Omphalos, the stone supposed to have been swallowed by Cronus (who feared misfortune from his own children) in mistake for his infant son Zeus, for whom it had been substituted by Gaea. This stone was carefully preserved at Delphi, anointed with oil every day and on festive occasions covered with raw wool.

Ekur is a Sumerian term meaning “mountain house”. It is the assembly of the gods in the Garden of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus and was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer. This was carried-on into later tradition in the Bible by the prophet Micah who envisions “the mountain of the temple of Yahweh”.

In mythology, the Ekur was the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united. It is also known as Duranki and one of its structures is known as the Kiur (“great place”). Enamtila, a Sumerian term meaning “house of life” or possibly “house of creation”, has also been suggested by Piotr Michalowski to be a part of the Ekur.

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

Enlil (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”) is the god of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance). It was the name of a chief deity listed and written about in Mesopotamian religion. He was known as the inventor of the mattock (a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax or digging tool of the Sumerians) and helped plants to grow.

As Enlil was the only god who could reach An, the god of heaven, he held sway over the other gods who were assigned tasks by his agent and would travel to Nippur to draw in his power. He is thus seen as the model for kingship. Enlil was assimilated to the north “Pole of the Ecliptic”. His sacred number name was 50. Among the titles accorded to him are “king of lands”, “king of heaven and earth”, and “father of the gods”.

An omphalos is a religious stone artifact, or baetylus. In Greek, the word omphalos means “navel”. In Greek lore, Zeus sent two eagles across the world to meet at its center, the “navel” of the world. Omphalos stones marking the centre were erected in several places about the Mediterranean Sea. In the ancient world of the Mediterranean, it was a powerful religious symbol.

The omphalos was not only an object of Hellenic religious symbolism and world centrality; it was also considered an object of power. Its symbolic references included the uterus, the phallus, and a cup of red wine representing royal blood lines. Omphalos stones were believed to allow direct communication with the gods.

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

Sol Invictus (“The Unconquered Sun”) was originally a Syrian god who was later adopted as the chief god of the Roman Empire under Emperor Aurelian in 274 AD. He became the official sun god of the later Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers.

Scholars disagree about whether the new deity was a refoundation of the ancient Latin cult of Sol, a revival of the cult of Elagabalus or completely new. The god was favored by emperors after Aurelian and appeared on their coins until Constantine I. The last inscription referring to Sol Invictus dates to AD 387, and there were enough devotees in the 5th century that Augustine found it necessary to preach against them.

His holiday is traditionally celebrated on December 25, as are several gods associated with the winter solstice in many pagan traditions. Sol Invictus played a prominent role in the Mithraic mysteries, and was equated with Mithra, the Zoroastrian angelic divinity (yazata) of covenant and oath, who in addition to being the divinity of contracts, also is a judicial figure, an all-seeing protector of truth, and the guardian of Cattle, the harvest and the waters.

Mitra is the reconstructed Proto-Indo-Iranian name of an Indo-Iranian divinity from which the names and some characteristics of Rigvedic Mitrá and Avestan Mithra derive. The first extant record of Indic Mitra, in the form mi-it-ra-, is in the inscribed peace treaty of c. 1400 BC between Hittites and the Hurrian kingdom of the Mitanni in the area southeast of Lake Van in Asia Minor. There Mitra appears together with four other Indic divinities as witnesses and keepers of the pact.

Both Vedic Mitra and Avestan Mithra derive from an Indo-Iranian common noun *mitra-, generally reconstructed to have meant “covenant, treaty, agreement, promise.” This meaning is preserved in Avestan miθra “covenant.” In Sanskrit and modern Indo-Aryan languages, mitra means “friend,” one of the aspects of bonding and alliance.

The Christian ecclesiastical calendar contains many remnants of pre-Christian festivals. Although the dating as December 25 predates pagan influence, the later development of Christmas as a festival includes elements of the Roman feast of the Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithra as described in the Roman cult of Mithraism.

Isis (original Egyptian pronunciation more likely “Aset” or “Iset”) is a goddess from the polytheistic pantheon of Egypt. The name Isis means “Throne”. She was first worshiped in ancient Egyptian religion, and later her worship spread throughout the Roman Empire and the greater Greco-Roman world.

The cult of Isis was part of the syncretic tendencies of religion in the Greco-Roman world of late antiquity. The names Isidoros and Isidora in Greek mean “gift of Isis” (similar to “Theodoros”, “God’s gift”).

Her names include manifestations of the goddess as Ceres, “the original nurturing parent”; Heavenly Venus (Venus Caelestis); the “sister of Phoebus”, that is, Diana or Artemis as she is worshipped at Ephesus; or Proserpina (Greek Persephone) as the triple goddess of the underworld.

From the middle Imperial period, the title Caelestis, “Heavenly” or “Celestial”, is attached to several goddesses embodying aspects of a single, supreme Heavenly Goddess. The Dea Caelestis was identified with the constellation Virgo (the Virgin), who holds the divine balance of justice.

Hathor (Egyptian: ḥwt-ḥr; meaning “mansion of Horus”) is an Ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of joy, feminine love, and motherhood. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of Ancient Egypt. 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.

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. She 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.

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. 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. 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 *hews-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 Ἠριγόνη 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.

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 Egyptian deity Horus, son to goddess Isis, was celebrated at the winter solstice. Horus served many functions, most notably being a god of the sky, war and hunting. Macrobius’ Chronicon noted the annual ancient Egyptian celebration of Horus, specifying the time as the winter solstice.

The most commonly encountered family relationship describes Horus as the son of Isis and Osiris, and he plays a key role in the Osiris myth as Osiris’s heir and the rival to Set, the murderer of Osiris. In another tradition Hathor is regarded as his mother and sometimes as his wife.

Osiris’s death and rebirth was relived each year through rituals. The worship of Isis eventually spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, continuing until the suppression of paganism in the Christian era. The popular motif of Isis suckling her son Horus, however, lived on in a Christianized context as the popular image of Mary suckling her infant son Jesus from the fifth century onward..

The sacred image of Isis with the Horus Child in Rome often became a model for the Christian Mary carrying her child Jesus and many of the epithets of the Egyptian Mother of God came to be used for her.

Týr is a Germanic god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws, Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu and Cyo, all from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. The Latinised name is rendered as Tius or Tio and also formally as Mars Thincsus.

In the late Icelandic Eddas, Týr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda). 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 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.

Týr is a god of war and will take mead, meat and blood for sacrifice. If a warrior carved the rune Tîwaz on his weapon he would be dedicating it to Týr and strengthen the outcome of a battle to be in his favor. Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio germanica. Tuesday is in fact “Tīw’s Day” (also in Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag), translating dies Martis.

There is sketchy evidence of a consort, in German named Zisa: Tacitus mentions one Germanic tribe who worshipped “Isis”, and Jacob Grimm pointed to Cisa/Zisa, the patroness of Augsburg, in this connection. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically. This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus.

Enki (Sumerian: EN.KI(G)) is a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. 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). 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.”

A large number of myths about Enki have been collected from many sites, stretching from Southern Iraq to the Levantine coast. He figures in the earliest extant cuneiform inscriptions throughout the region and was prominent from the third millennium down to Hellenistic times.

The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is “Lord of the Earth”. The Sumerian En is translated as a title equivalent to “lord” and was originally a title given to the High Priest. Ki means “earth”, but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin, possibly kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning “mound”.

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. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp.

Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu (Apsu in Akkadian), the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth.

In the later Babylonian epic Enûma Eliš, Abzu, the “begetter of the gods”, is inert and sleepy but finds his peace disturbed by the younger gods, so sets out to destroy them. His grandson Enki, chosen to represent the younger gods, puts a spell on Abzu “casting him into a deep sleep”, thereby confining him deep underground.

Enki subsequently sets up his home “in the depths of the Abzu.” Enki thus takes on all of the functions of the Abzu, including his fertilising powers as lord of the waters and lord of semen.

Early royal inscriptions from the third millennium BCE mention “the reeds of Enki”. Reeds were an important local building material, used for baskets and containers, and collected outside the city walls, where the dead or sick were often carried. This links Enki to the Kur or underworld of Sumerian mythology. In another even older tradition, Nammu, the goddess of the primeval creative matter and the mother-goddess portrayed as having “given birth to the great gods,” was the mother of Enki, and as the watery creative force, was said to preexist Ea-Enki.

Benito states “With Enki it is an interesting change of gender symbolism, the fertilising agent is also water, Sumerian “a” or “Ab” which also means “semen”. In one evocative passage in a Sumerian hymn, Enki stands at the empty riverbeds and fills them with his ‘water'”. This may be a reference to Enki’s hieros gamos or sacred marriage with Ki/Ninhursag (the Earth).

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.

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 also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.

He was accompanied by an attendant Isimud (also Isinu; Usmû; Usumu (Akkadian)) is a minor god, the messenger of the god, Enki, in Sumerian mythology. In ancient Sumerian artwork, Isimud is easily identifiable due to the fact that he is always depicted with two faces facing in opposite directions in a way that is similar to the ancient Roman god, Janus.

The liminal character of Janus is though present in the association to the Saturnalia of December, reflecting the strict relationship between the two gods Janus and Saturn and the rather blurred distinction of their stories and symbols.

The initial role of Janus in the political-religious operations of January: the nuncupatio votorum spanning the year, the imperial symbol of the boat in the opening rite of the sailing season, the vota felicia: Janus and his myths allow for an ancient interpretation of the vota felicia, different from the Isiadic one.

Later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology, Enki was the god of intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”), creation, crafts; magic; water, seawater and lakewater (a, aba, ab).

The mountain goat part of the symbol depicts ambition, resolute, intelligence, curiosity, but also steadiness, and ability to thrive in inhospitable environments while the fish represents passion, spirituality, intuition, and connection with the soul.

In the description of the Babylonian zodiac given in the clay tablets known as the MUL.APIN, the constellation now known as Aries was the final station along the ecliptic. The MUL.APIN was a comprehensive table of the risings and settings of stars, which likely served as an agricultural calendar. Modern-day Aries was known as MULLÚ.ḪUN.GÁ, “The Agrarian Worker” or “The Hired Man”.

Although likely compiled in the 12th or 11th century BC, the MUL.APIN reflects a tradition which marks the Pleiades as the vernal equinox, which was the case with some precision at the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age.

The earliest identifiable reference to Aries as a distinct constellation comes from the boundary stones that date from 1350 to 1000 BC. On several boundary stones, a zodiacal ram figure is distinct from the other characters present.

The shift in identification from the constellation as the Agrarian Worker to the Ram likely occurred in later Babylonian tradition because of its growing association with Dumuzi the Shepherd.

By the time the MUL.APIN was created—by 1000 BC—modern Aries was identified with both Dumuzi’s ram and a hired laborer. The exact timing of this shift is difficult to determine due to the lack of images of Aries or other ram figures.

Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, beauty, sexual desire, fertility, knowledge, wisdom, war, and combat, 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

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

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.

Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East, as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god. In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East.

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.

According to some scholars, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is built over a cave that was originally a shrine to Adonis-Tammuz. The church was originally commissioned in 327 by Constantine the Great and his mother Helena over the site that was traditionally considered to be located over the cave that marks the birthplace of Jesus.

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

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

Dionysus is the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy in ancient Greek religion and myth. Wine played an important role in Greek culture, and the cult of Dionysus was the main religious focus for its unrestrained consumption.

He may have been worshipped as early as c. 1500–1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks; traces of Dionysian-type cult have also been found in ancient Minoan Crete. His origins are uncertain, and his cults took many forms; some are described by ancient sources as Thracian, others as Greek. In some cults, he arrives from the east, as an Asiatic foreigner; in others, from Ethiopia in the South.

He is a god of epiphany, “the god that comes”, and his “foreignness” as an arriving outsider-god may be inherent and essential to his cults. He is a major, popular figure of Greek mythology and religion, becoming increasingly important over time, and included in some lists of the twelve Olympians, as the last of their number, and the only god born from a mortal mother. His festivals were the driving force behind the development of Greek theatre.

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.

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

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

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.

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