Nineveh – Jonah
Posted by Fredsvenn on March 28, 2017
Dingir – Dyeus – Tyr – Deus
Dyēus (also *Dyḗus Pḥɑtḗr , alternatively spelled dyēws) is believed to have been the chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. Part of a larger pantheon, he was the god of the daylit 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).
Anu (in Akkadian; Sumerian: An, from An “sky, heaven”) is the earliest attested Sky Father deity. In Sumerian religion, he was also “King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven”, where Anu himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions. He was believed to have the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and to have created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the Royal Tiara.
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. 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 Tammuz, or Dumuzi (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.
In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar. The Levantine (“lord”) Adonis, who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.
Enmesarra, or Enmešarra, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld god of the law. Described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore he has been equated with Nergal. On the other hand, he has been described as an ancestor of Enlil, and it has been claimed that Enlil slew him.
Nin / Eresh
The Sumerian word NIN (from the Akkadian pronunciation of the sign EREŠ) was used to denote a queen or a priestess, and is often translated as “lady”. Other translations include “queen”, “mistress”, “proprietress”, and “lord”.
Many goddesses are called NIN, such as DNIN.GAL (“great lady”), DÉ.NIN.GAL (“lady of the great temple”), DEREŠ.KI.GAL, and DNIN.TI. The compound form NIN.DINGIR (“divine lady” or “lady of [a] god”), from the Akkadian entu, denotes a priestess.
Inanna was the Sumerian goddess of love, beauty, sexual desire, fertility, knowledge, wisdom, war, and combat. She was also the patron goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, which was her main cult center.
She was one of the most widely venerated deities in the ancient Sumerian pantheon. Her Akkadian and Babylonian equivalent was the goddess Ishtar. Several of her most important myths involve the story of her descent into and return from Kur, the ancient Sumerian Underworld.
In ancient Sumerian mythology, Ereshkigal (DEREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) is the queen of the Underworld. She is the older sister of the goddess, Inanna. Inanna and Ereshkigal represent polar opposites. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven, but Ereshkigal is the queen of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld.
Ereshkigal is sometimes known as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal, lit. “Great Lady of the Earth” or “Lady of the Great Earth”. Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom.
Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries. In some versions of the myths, Ereshkigal rules the Underworld by herself, but in other versions of the myths, Ereshkigal rules alongside a husband subordinate to her named Gugalana.
Gugalanna (Sumerian gu.gal.an.na, “the Great Bull of Heaven”), better known as the Bull of Heaven (Sumerian: gu₄.an.na), was a deity in ancient Mesopotamian religion originating in Sumer as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.
Nergal seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only representative of a certain phase of the sun. Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle. He has also been called “the king of sunset”.
Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal,
In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. 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.
Uruk / Eresh
Uruk (Cuneiform: URU UNUG; Arabic: Warkā’; Sumerian: Unug; Akkadian: Uruk; Aramaic/Hebrew: ֶֶErech; Ancient Greek: Ὀρχόη Orchoē, Ὠρύγεια Ōrugeia) was an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates river, on the dried-up, ancient channel of the Euphrates River, some 30 km east of modern As-Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq.
Uruk is the type site for the Uruk period. Uruk played a leading role in the early urbanization of Sumer in the mid 4th millennium BC. At its height c. 2900 BC, Uruk probably had 50,000–80,000 residents living in 6 km2 of walled area; making it the largest city in the world at the time. The legendary king Gilgamesh, according to the chronology presented in the Sumerian king list, ruled Uruk in the 27th century BC.
The city lost its prime importance around 2000 BC, in the context of the struggle of Babylonia with Elam, but it remained inhabited throughout the Seleucid and Parthian periods until it was finally abandoned shortly before or after the Islamic conquest.
The Arabic name of Babylonia, al-ʿIrāq, is thought to be derived from the name Uruk, via Aramaic (Erech) and possibly Middle Persian (Erāq) transmission.
According to the Sumerian king list, Uruk was founded by the king Enmerkar. Though the king-list mentions a king of Eanna before him, the epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta relates that Enmerkar constructed the House of Heaven (Sumerian: E-anna; Cuneiform: E.AN) for the goddess Inanna in the E-anna District of Uruk. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh builds the city wall around Uruk and is king of the city.
Uruk went through several phases of growth, from the Early Uruk period (4000–3500 BC) to the Late Uruk period (3500–3100 BC). The city was formed when two smaller Ubaid settlements merged. The temple complexes at their cores became the Eanna District and the Anu District dedicated to Inanna and Anu, respectively.
The Anu District was originally called ‘Kullaba’ (Kulab or Unug-Kulaba) prior to merging with the Eanna District. Kullaba dates to the Eridu period when it was one of the oldest and most important cities of Sumer.
There are different interpretations about the purposes of the temples. However, it is generally believed they were a unifying feature of the city. It also seems clear that temples served both an important religious function and state function. The surviving temple archive of the Neo-Babylonian period documents the social function of the temple as a redistribution center.
E and Ensi
É is the Sumerian word or symbol for house or temple. The Sumerian term É.GAL (“palace”, literally “big house”) denoted a city’s main building. É.LUGAL (“king’s house”) was used synonymously. In the texts of Lagash, the É.GAL is the center of the ensi’s administration of the city, and the site of the city archives.
Sumerian É.GAL “palace” is the probable etymology of Semitic words for “palace, temple”, such as Hebrew heikhal, and Arabic haykal. It has thus been speculated that the word É originated from something akin to *hai or *ˀai, especially since the cuneiform sign È is used for /a/ in Eblaite.
The term temen appearing frequently after É in names of ziggurats is translated as “foundation pegs”, apparently the first step in the construction process of a house. In E-temen-an-ki, “the temple of the foundation (pegs) of heaven and earth”, temen has been taken to refer to an axis mundi connecting earth to heaven.
“Ensí” (meaning “Lord of the Plowland”) is a Sumerian language title designating the ruler or prince of a city-state. The énsí was considered a representative of a city-state’s patron deity. Ensí may have originally been a designation of the ruler restricted to the city-states of Lagash and Umma, however; in later periods the title presupposed subordinance to a lugal.
“Lugal” (as a Sumerogram is a ligature of two signs: meaning “big” or “great” and “man”; a Sumerian language title translated into the English language as either “king” or “ruler”) was one of the three titles that a ruler of a Sumerian city-state could bear (alongside both: “EN” and “énsí”, the exact difference being a subject of debate.)
The sign for “lugal” eventually became the predominant logograph for “king” in general. In the Sumerian language, “lugal” could have been used to mean either “owner” (such as the owner of a boat or a field) or “head” (such as the head of a unit or a family.) The cuneiform sign for “lugal” serves as a determinative in cuneiform texts, indicating that the following word would be the name of the king.
Although an énsí may have normally been seen as subordinate to a lugal, nevertheless; some rulers of the Second Dynasty of Lagash were satisfied with the title “énsí”. Interestingly, the énsís of the city-state Lagash would sometimes refer to their city’s patron deity (Ningirsu) as their “lugal”.
Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city of Upper Mesopotamia, located on the outskirts of Mosul in modern-day northern Iraq. It is on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and was the capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.
Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq. Nineveh was one of the oldest and greatest cities in antiquity. The area was settled as early as 6000 BC and, by 3000 BC, had become an important religious center for the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar.
It was one of the largest cities in the world until the year 612 BC when, after a bitter period of civil war in Assyria, it was sacked by a coalition of its former subject peoples, the Babylonians, Medes, Chaldeans, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians.
Large amounts of Assyrian sculpture and other artifacts have been excavated and are now located in museums around the world. Site remains have suffered since the occupation by the United States in 2003. Iraqi forces recaptured the area from Daesh in January 2017.
The English placename Nineveh comes from Latin Ninive and Septuagint Greek Nineuḗ under influence of the Biblical Hebrew Nīnewēh, from the Akkadian Ninua (var. Ninâ) or Old Babylonian Ninuwā.
The original meaning of the name is unclear but may have referred to a patron goddess. The city was later said to be devoted to “the Ishtar of Nineveh” and Nina was one of the Sumerian and Assyrian names of that goddess.
The cuneiform for Ninâ is a fish within a house (cf. Aramaic nuna, “fish”). This may have simply intended “Place of Fish” or may have indicated a goddess associated with fish or the Tigris, possibly originally of Hurrian origin.
The city was also known as Ninii or Ni in Ancient Egyptian; Ninuwa in Mari; Ninawa in Aramaic; in Syriac; and Nainavā in Persian. Nabī Yūnus is the Arabic for “Prophet Jonah”.
The early city (and subsequent buildings) was constructed on a fault line and, consequently, suffered damage from a number of earthquakes. One such event destroyed the first temple of Ishtar, which was then rebuilt in 2260 BC by the Akkadian king Manishtushu.
Texts from the Hellenistic period later offered an eponymous Ninus as the founder of Nineveh, although there is no historical basis for this.
Jonah is the central character in the Book of Jonah. Commanded by God to go to the city of Nineveh to prophesy against it “for their great wickedness is come up before me,” Jonah instead seeks to flee from “the presence of the Lord” by going to Jaffa, identified as Joppa or Joppe, and sailing to Tarshish, which, geographically, is in the opposite direction.
A huge storm arises and the sailors, realizing that it is no ordinary storm, cast lots and discover that Jonah is to blame. Jonah admits this and states that if he is thrown overboard, the storm will cease. The sailors try to dump as much cargo as possible before giving up, but feel forced to throw him overboard, at which point the sea calms. The sailors then offer sacrifices to God.
Jonah is miraculously saved by being swallowed by a large fish in whose belly he spends three days and three nights. While in the great fish, Jonah prays to God in his affliction and commits to thanksgiving and to paying what he has vowed. God commands the fish to spew Jonah out.
God again commands Jonah to visit Nineveh and prophesy to its inhabitants. This time he goes and enters the city, crying, “In forty days Nineveh shall be overthrown.”
After Jonah has walked across Nineveh, the people of Nineveh begin to believe his word and proclaim a fast. The king of Nineveh puts on sackcloth and sits in ashes, making a proclamation which decrees fasting, sackcloth, prayer, and repentance. God sees their repentant hearts and spares the city at that time.
The entire city is humbled and broken with the people (and even the animals) in sackcloth and ashes. Even the king comes off his throne to repent.
Displeased by this, Jonah refers to his earlier flight to Tarshish while asserting that, since God is merciful, it was inevitable that God would turn from the threatened calamities. He then leaves the city and makes himself a shelter, waiting to see whether or not the city will be destroyed.
God causes a plant (in Hebrew a Kikayon) to grow over Jonah’s shelter to give him some shade from the sun. Later, God causes a worm to bite the plant’s root and it withers. Jonah, now being exposed to the full force of the sun, becomes faint and desires that God take him out of the world.
And God said to Jonah: “Art thou greatly angry for the Kikayon?” And he said: “I am greatly angry, even unto death.”
And the LORD said: “Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow, which came up in a night, and perished in a night;
and should not I have pity on Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand, and also much cattle?”
— Book of Jonah, chapter 4, verses 9-11
Oannes (Ὡάννης) was the name given by the Babylonian writer Berossus in the 3rd century BC to a mythical being who taught mankind wisdom. Omega (capital: Ω, lowercase: ω; Greek Ωμέγα) is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet.
In the Greek numeric system, it has a value of 800. The word literally means “great O” (ō mega, mega meaning “great”), as opposed to omicron, which means “little O” (o mikron, micron meaning “little”). As the last letter of the Greek alphabet, Omega is often used to denote the last, the end, or the ultimate limit of a set, in contrast to alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet.
Berossus describes Oannes as having the body of a fish but underneath the figure of a man. He is described as dwelling in the Persian Gulf, and rising out of the waters in the daytime and furnishing mankind instruction in writing, the arts and the various sciences.
The name “Oannes” is now known that the name is the Greek form of the Babylonian Uanna (or Uan) a name used for Adapa in texts from the Library of Ashurbanipal.
Adapa – Abkallu
Mesopotamian myth tells of seven antediluvian sages, or Apkallu (Akkadian), or Abgal (Sumerian), seven Mesopotamian (Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian) sages, demigods who are said to have been created by the god Enki (Akkadian: Ea), the wise god of Eridu, to establish culture and give civilization to mankind.
The sages are described in Mesopotamian literature as ‘pure parādu-fish, probably carp, whose bones are found associated with the earliest shrine, and still kept as a holy duty in the precincts of Near Eastern mosques and monasteries.
They were noted for having been saved during the flood. They served as priests of Enki and as advisors or sages to the earliest kings of Sumer before the flood. They are credited with giving mankind the Me (moral code), the crafts, and the arts. They were seen as fish-like men who emerged from the sweet water Abzu. They are commonly represented as having the lower torso of a fish, or dressed as a fish.
According to the myth, human beings were initially unaware of the benefits of culture and civilization. The god Enki sent from Dilmun, amphibious half-fish, half-human creatures, who emerged from the oceans to live with the early human beings and teach them the arts and other aspects of civilization such as writing, law, temple and city building and agriculture. These creatures are known as the Apkallu.
Adapa, the first of the Mesopotamian seven sages, is also known as Uan, the name given as Oannes by Berossus, introduced the practice of the correct rites of religious observance as priest of the E’Apsu temple, at Eridu.
He is a fisherman iconographically portrayed as a fish-man composite. He was a mythical figure who unknowingly refused the gift of immortality. The story is first attested in the Kassite period (14th century BC), in fragmentary tablets from Tell el-Amarna, and from Assur, of the late second millennium BC.
The legend of “Adapa and the food of life” seems to explain the origin of death. Adapa, who has earned wisdom but not eternal life, is a son of and temple priest for Ea (Enki) in Eridu, and performs rituals with bread and water.
While Adapa is fishing in a calm sea, suddenly the South Wind rises up and overturns his boat, throwing him into the water. This reference to the ‘South Wind’ may refer to Ninlil, wife of Enlil, who was identified as goddess of the South Wind.
Adapa is enraged, and proceeds to break the ‘wings’ of the South Wind, so for seven days she can not blow the freshness of the sea on the warm earth. Adapa is summoned before the court of Anu in the heavens, and his father Ea advises him not to eat or drink anything placed before him, because he fears that this will be the food and water of death.
Anu, however, is impressed with Adapa and instead offers him the food and water of (eternal) life. However, Adapa follows the advice of Ea, and politely refuses to take any food or drink. This food and water of life offered by Anu would have made Adapa and his descendants immortal.
Matsya – Manu
Matsya (Sanskrit: मत्स्य, lit. fish) is the avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu in the form of a fish. Matsya may be depicted as a giant fish, or anthropomorphically with a human torso connected to the rear half of a fish.
Often listed as the first avatar in the lists of the ten primary avatars of Vishnu, Matsya is described to have rescued the first man, Manu, from a great deluge. The earliest accounts of the legend associate Matsya with the creator god Prajapati (identified with Brahma). However, Puranic scriptures incorporate Matsya as an avatar of Vishnu.
Manu is a term found with various meanings in different mythologies of Hinduism. In early texts, it refers to the archetypal man, or to the first man (progenitor of humanity).The Sanskrit term for ‘human’, मानव (IAST: mānava) means ‘of Manu’ or ‘children of Manu’.
In later texts, Manu is the title or name of mystical sage-rulers of earth, or alternatively as the head of mythical dynasties that begin with each cyclic kalpa (aeon) when the universe is born anew. The title of the text Manusmriti uses this term as a prefix, but refers to the first Manu – Svayambhuva, the spiritual son of Brahma.
In some Puranic mythology, each kalpa consists of fourteen Manvantaras, and each Manvantara is headed by a different Manu. The current universe, in this mythology, is asserted to be ruled by the 7th Manu named Vaivasvata.
Matsya forewarns Manu about an impending catastrophic flood and orders him to collect all the grains of the world in a boat; in some forms of the story, all living creatures are also to be preserved in the boat.
When the flood destroys the world, Manu – in some versions accompanied by the seven great sages – survives by boarding the ark, which Matsya pulls to safety. The Saptarishi (from saptarṣi, a Sanskrit dvigu meaning “seven sages”) are the seven rishis who are extolled at many places in the Vedas and Hindu literature.
In later versions of this story, the sacred texts Vedas are hidden by a demon, whom Matsya slays: Manu is rescued and the scriptures are recovered. The tale is in the tradition of the family of flood myths, common across cultures. The story of a great Deluge is found in many civilizations across the earth. It is often related to the Genesis narrative of the flood and Noah’s Ark.
The fish motif reminds readers of the Biblical ‘Jonah and the Whale’ narrative as well; this fish narrative, as well as the saving of the scriptures from a demon, are specifically Hindu traditions of this style of the flood narrative.
Similar flood myths also exist in tales from ancient Sumer and Babylonia, Greece, the Maya of Americas and the Yoruba of Africa. The earliest known written flood myth is the Sumerian flood myth found in the Epic of Ziusudra.
Matsya is believed to symbolise the first stage of evolution, as aquatic life was the first beings on earth. Some authors consider the tale not a flood myth, but symbolic in nature. Manu’s boat is representative of moksha (salvation), which helps one to cross over.
The tale of Matsya may be interpreted as a creation myth where Manu creates beings of the world and men after they destroyed in the flood, though the creation is never the focus of the legend.
The Vedic Samhitas never enumerate these rishis by name, though later Vedic texts such as the Brahmanas and Upanisads do so. They are regarded in the Vedas as the patriarchs of the Vedic religion.
In post-Vedic texts, different lists appear; some of these rishis were recognized as the ‘mind born sons'(Sanskrit: manasa putra) of Brahma, the representation of the Supreme Being as Creator. Other representations are Mahesha or Shiva as the Destroyer and Vishnu as the Preserver.
Since these seven rishis were also among the primary eight rishis, who were considered to be the ancestors of the Gotras of Brahmins, the birth of these rishis was mythicized.
In some parts of India, people believe these are seven stars of the Big Dipper named “Vashista”, “Marichi”, “Pulastya”, “Pulaha”, “Atri”, “Angiras” and “Kratu”. There is another star slightly visible within it, known as “Arundhati”. Arundhati is the wife of Vashista.
The seven Rishis in the next Manvantara will be Diptimat, Galava, Parasurama, Kripa, Drauni or Ashwatthama, Vyasa and Rishyasringa.
Ursa Major / Minor – The Big / Little Dipper
Ursa Major, also known as the Great Bear, is a constellation in the northern celestial hemisphere. Is associated with mother goddess. Moreover, The Big Dipper and The Little Dipper are probably the two star constellation people have the easiest time finding in the night sky because they have such easy and distinguishable patterns.
It can be visible throughout the year in most of the northern hemisphere. Its name, Latin for “the greater (or larger) she-bear”, stands as a reference to and in direct contrast with Ursa Minor, “the lesser she-bear”, with which it is frequently associated in mythology.
The constellation’s most recognizable asterism, a group of seven relatively bright stars commonly known as the Big Dipper, the Wagon or the Plough (among others), both mimics the shape of the lesser bear, the Little Dipper. Another former name was the Great Wain (i.e., wagon).
The constellation as a whole have mythological significance in numerous world cultures, usually as a symbol of the north. It is commonly used as a navigational pointer towards the current northern pole star, Polaris in Ursa Minor.
The Big Dipper is composed of seven bright stars (six of them of second magnitude or higher) that together comprise one of the best-known patterns in the sky. Like many of its common names allude to, its shape is said to resemble either a ladle, an agricultural plough or wagon; in the context of Ursa Major, they are commonly drawn to represent the hindquarters and tail of the Great Bear.
The stars Merak (β Ursae Majoris) and Dubhe (α Ursae Majoris) are known as the “pointer stars” because they are helpful for finding Polaris, also known as the North Star or Pole Star. By visually tracing a line from Merak through Dubhe and continuing, one’s eye will land on Polaris, accurately indicating true north.
The North Star (Polaris), the current northern pole star and the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper, can be located by extending an imaginary line from Merak (β) through Dubhe (α). This makes it useful in celestial navigation. Extending a line from Phecda (γ) to Megrez (δ) leads to Thuban (α Draconis), which was the pole star 4,000 years ago.
The constellation of Ursa Major has been seen as a bear by many distinct civilizations. This may stem from a common oral tradition stretching back more than 13,000 years.
Using statistical and phylogenetic tools, Julien d’Huy reconstructs the following Palaeolithic state of the story: “There is an animal that is a horned herbivore, especially an elk. One human pursues this ungulate. The hunt locates or get to the sky. The animal is alive when it is transformed into a constellation. It forms the Big Dipper”.
In Hinduism, Ursa Major is referred to as Saptarshi, or the “Collection of Seven Great Sages” (Saptarshi Mandal), as each star is named after a mythical Hindu sage. The fact that the two front stars of the constellations point to the pole star is explained as the boon given to the boy sage Dhruva by Lord Vishnu.
Ursa Minor (Latin: “Lesser Bear”, contrasting with Ursa Major), also known as the Little Bear, is a constellation in the Northern Sky. Ursa Minor has traditionally been important for navigation, particularly by mariners, because of Polaris being the North Star.
Like the Great Bear, the tail of the Little Bear may also be seen as the handle of a ladle, hence the North American name, Little Dipper: seven stars with four in its bowl like its partner the Big Dipper.
Because Ursa Minor consists of seven stars, the Latin word for “North” (i.e., where Polaris points) is septentrio, from septem (seven) and triones (oxen), from seven oxen driving a plough, which the seven stars also resemble. This name has also been attached to the main stars of Ursa Major.
Polaris is currently less than one degree away from the north celestial pole (hence the alternative name Pole Star) so its position in the sky is largely unaffected by the rotation of the Earth. From any point in the Northern Hemisphere the direction to Polaris is always north and its angular altitude is roughly equal to the latitude.
Boötes is a constellation in the northern sky, located between 0° and +60° declination, and 13 and 16 hours of right ascension on the celestial sphere. The name comes from the Greek Boōtēs, meaning “herdsman” or “plowman” (literally, “ox-driver”; from bous “cow”).
The name Boötes was first used by Homer in his Odyssey as a celestial reference point for navigation, described as “late-setting” or “slow to set”, translated as the “Plowman”. Exactly whom Boötes is supposed to represent in Greek mythology is not clear.
According to one version, he was a son of Demeter, Philomenus, twin brother of Plutus, a ploughman who drove the oxen in the constellation Ursa Major. This is corroborated by the constellation’s name, which itself means “ox-driver” or “herdsman.”
The ancient Greeks saw the asterism now called the “Big Dipper” or “Plough” as a cart with oxen. This influenced the name’s etymology, derived from the Greek for “noisy” or “ox-driver”. Another myth associated with Boötes tells that he invented the plow and was memorialized for his ingenuity as a constellation.
In ancient Babylon, the stars of Boötes were known as SHU.PA. They were apparently depicted as the god Enlil, who was the leader of the Babylonian pantheon and special patron of farmers. Boötes may have been represented by the foreleg constellation in ancient Egypt. According to this interpretation, the constellation depicts the shape of an animal foreleg.
It contains the fourth-brightest star in the night sky, the orange giant star Arcturus, also designated Alpha Boötis (α Boötis, abbreviated Alpha Boo, α Boo), the brightest star in the constellation of Boötes, the fourth-brightest in the night sky, and the brightest in the northern celestial hemisphere.
Together with Spica and Denebola (or Regulus, depending on the source), Arcturus is part of the Spring Triangle asterism and, by extension, also of the Great Diamond along with the star Cor Caroli.
As one of the brightest stars in the sky, Arcturus has been significant to observers since antiquity. In ancient Mesopotamia, it was linked to the god Enlil, and also known as Shudun, “yoke”, or SHU-PA of unknown derivation in the Three Stars Each Babylonian star catalogues and later MUL.APIN around 1100 BC.
The traditional name Arcturus derives from Ancient Greek Arktouros and means “Guardian of the Bear”, ultimately from arktos, “bear” and ouros, “watcher, guardian”. It has been known by this name since at least the time of Hesiod. This is a reference to its being the brightest star in the constellation of Boötes (of which it forms the left foot), which is next to the constellations of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the Greater and Lesser Bears.
Enlil (EN.LIL, EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”) is the god of agriculture, breath, wind, and loft and breadth (height and distance). It was the name of a chief deity listed and written about in Sumerian religion, and later in Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian), Hittite, Canaanite, and other Mesopotamian clay and stone tablets.
The myth of Enlil and Ninlil (DNIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, discusses when Enlil was a young god, he was banished from Ekur in Nippur, home of the gods, to Kur, the underworld for seducing a goddess named Ninlil.
She lived in Dilmun with her family. Impregnated by her husband Enlil, who lie with her by the water, she conceived a boy, Nanna/Suen, the future moon god. As punishment Enlil was dispatched to the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, where Ninlil joined him. After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to the Ekur.
After her death, she became the goddess of the wind, like Enlil. She may be the Goddess of the South Wind referred to in the story of Adapa, as her husband Enlil was associated with northerly winter storms. As “Lady Wind” she may be associated with the figure of the Akkadian demon “Lil-itu”, thought to have been the origin of the Hebrew Lilith legend.
As Enlil was placed in command by An, the god of the heavens, he held sway over the other gods who were assigned tasks by his sukkal, or attendant, and would travel to Nippur to draw in his power. He is thus seen as the model for kingship. Enlil was assimilated to the north “Pole of the Ecliptic”. His sacred number name was 50.
In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag (“lady of the sacred mountain”; from Sumerian NIN “lady” and ḪAR.SAG “sacred mountain, foothill”, possibly a reference to the site of her temple, the E-Kur, or “House of mountain deeps”), was a mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer.
She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the ‘true and great lady of heaven’ (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were ‘nourished by Ninhursag’s milk’. She is the tutelary deity to several Sumerian leaders.
Her hair is sometimes depicted in an omega shape, and she at times wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders, and not infrequently carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash.
She had many names including Ninmah (“Great Queen”); Nintu (“Lady of Birth”); Mamma or Mami (mother); Aruru, Belet-Ili (lady of the gods, Akkadian). According to legend her name was changed from Ninmah to Ninhursag by her son Ninurta in order to commemorate his creation of the mountains. As Ninmenna, according to a Babylonian investiture ritual, she placed the golden crown on the king in the Eanna temple.
As the wife and consort of Enki she was also referred to as Damgulanna (great wife of heaven) or Damkina (faithful wife). She had many epithets including shassuru or ‘womb goddess’, tabsut ili ‘midwife of the gods’, ‘mother of all children’ and ‘mother of the gods’. In this role she is identified with Ki in the Enuma Elish. She had shrines in both Eridu and Kish.
In the Babylonian star catalogues, Ursa Minor was known as MAR.GID.DA.AN.NA, the Wagon of Heaven, Damkianna. It appeared on a pair of tablets containing canonical star lists that were compiled around 1000 BC, the MUL.APIN, and was one of the “Stars of Enlil”—that is, the northern sky. The possible origin of its name was its appearing to rotate like a wheel around the north celestial pole.
The origins of the swastika are beyond time. Even the earliest uses of it fail to signify what it meant to the people at the time. The earliest recordings of it’s meaning are as a symbol of good fortune, a sun sign or the movement of cycles. But those recordings are thousands of years after the oldest found swastikas. So where still left to wonder – where did it come from?
Since the swazi is so old perhaps it’s birthplace was in the stars? The ancients used star groups like the Big Dipper, to tell seasons and direction, there’s no doubt the ol’ dancing dipper held a significance. It dances in a circle around Polaris (The North Star) Polaris is the only star that doesn’t move and is used to measure latitude.
The turning of the seasons was vastly more important if you lived in nature like our ancient grandpas and grandmas. Perhaps they used the swazi to show another person the ‘turning of the seasons’. They could’ve used it as a type of calendar to keep track of the seasons, the cycles. The swazi is commonly known as a symbol of the Sun and of cycles. It’s for these reasons it is suggested that the Big Dipper was the inspiration for the fist carvings of swastikas.