Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

  • Sjur C Papazian

  • FB: Sjur Papazian

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Armenian Eternal Symbol

  • Forget-me-not

  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

  • Archives

From Taweret to Tyr

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on September 30, 2018

Ingen automatisk alternativ tekst tilgjengelig.

Bilderesultat for zodiac taurus

Bilderesultat for taweret dendera

Relatert bilde

The Celestial River: Identifying the Ancient Egyptian Constellations

The Dendera

Bilderesultat for draco ursa

Bilderesultat for draco ursa major

Relatert bilde

Bilderesultat for draco polaris

Bilderesultat for draco polaris

Bilderesultat for Sobek

Bilderesultat for ammit

Study of Pagan Gods and Goddesses: Tawaret

Dingir (usually transliterated DIĜIR) is a Sumerian word for “god.” Its cuneiform sign is most commonly employed as the determinative for religious names and related concepts, in which case it is not pronounced and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript “D” as in e.g. DInanna.

The cuneiform sign by itself was originally an ideogram for the Sumerian word an (“sky” or “heaven”); its use was then extended to a logogram for the word diĝir (“god” or goddess) and the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon An, and a phonogram for the syllable /an/. Akkadian took over all these uses and added to them a logographic reading for the native ilum and from that a syllabic reading of /il/. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again only an.

The concept of “divinity” in Sumerian is closely associated with the heavens, as is evident from the fact that the cuneiform sign doubles as the ideogram for “sky”, and that its original shape is the picture of a star. The original association of “divinity” is thus with “bright” or “shining” hierophanies in the sky. A possible loan relation of Sumerian dingir with Turkic Tengri “sky, sky god” has been suggested.

In ancient Hittite religion, Anu is a former ruler of the gods, who was overthrown by his son Kumarbi, who bit off his father’s genitals and gave birth to the storm god Teshub. Teshub overthrew Kumarbi, avenged Anu’s mutilation, and became the new king of the gods. This story was the later basis for the castration of Ouranos in Hesiod’s Theogony.

Anu or An is the divine personification of the sky, supreme God, and ancestor of all the deities in ancient Mesopotamian religion. Anu was believed to be the supreme source of all authority, for the other gods and for all mortal rulers, and he is described in one text as the one “who contains the entire universe”.

Although Anu was a very important deity, his nature was often ambiguous and ill-defined; he almost never appears in Mesopotamian artwork and has no known anthropomorphic iconography. Anu’s primary role in myths is as the ancestor of the Anunnaki, the major deities of Sumerian religion.

By the time of the earliest written records, Anu was rarely worshipped, and veneration was instead devoted to his son Enlil, but, throughout Mesopotamian history, the highest deity in the pantheon was always said to possess the anûtu, meaning “An-power”.

His primary cult center was the Eanna temple in the city of Uruk, but, by the Akkadian Period (c. 2334 – 2154 BC), his authority in Uruk had largely been ceded to the goddess Inanna, the Queen of Heaven, who was associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power.

Her husband was the god Dumuzid (later known as Tammuz) and her sukkal, or personal attendant, was the goddess Ninshubur, who much like Iris or Hermes in later Greek mythology served as a messenger to the other gods, and who later became the male deity Papsukkal, the messenger god in the Akkadian pantheon.

Anu’s consort in the earliest Sumerian texts is the goddess Uraš, but she is later the goddess Ki and, in Akkadian texts, the goddess Antu, whose name is a feminine form of Anu. However, Uras may only have been another name for Antum, Anu’s wife. The name Uras even became applied to Anu himself, and acquired the meaning “heaven”. Ninurta also was apparently called Uras in later times.

Anu briefly appears in the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh, in which his daughter Ishtar (the East Semitic equivalent to Inanna) persuades him to give her the Bull of Heaven so that she may send it to attack Gilgamesh after Gilgamesh repudiates her sexual advances.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu slay the Bull together and Enkidu hurls the Bull’s right thigh at Ishtar, taunting her. This act of impiety results in the gods condemning Enkidu to death, an event which catalyzes Gilgamesh’s fear for his own death, which drives the remaining portion of the epic.

The Bull was identified with the constellation Taurus and the myth of its slaying may have held astronomical significance to the ancient Mesopotamians. Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation.

Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries. The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC.

In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”. In Sumerian religion, Gugalanna is the first husband of Ereshkigal, the queen of the Underworld. His name probably originally meant “canal inspector of An” and he may be merely an alternative name for Ennugi, the attendant and throne-bearer of Enlil.

The son of Ereshkigal and Gugalanna is Ninazu, a god of the underworld, and of healing. Ninazu was the son of Enlil and Ninlil or, in alternative traditions, of Ereshkigal and Gugalana, and was the father of Ningiszida (“lord of the good tree”), who appears in Adapa’s myth as one of the two guardians of Anu’s celestial palace, alongside Dumuzi.

In Inanna’s Descent into the Underworld, Inanna tells the gatekeeper Neti that she is descending to the Underworld to attend the funeral of “Gugalanna, the husband of my elder sister Ereshkigal”. Some scholars consider Gugalanna to be the same figure as the Bull of Heaven, slain by Gilgamesh and Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”. The Akkadian name was Alu. To the early Hebrews, Taurus was the first constellation in their zodiac and consequently it was represented by the first letter in their alphabet, Aleph.

To the Egyptians, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull that was associated with the renewal of life in spring. When the spring equinox entered Taurus, the constellation would become covered by the Sun in the western sky as spring began. This “sacrifice” led to the renewal of the land.

Utu, later worshipped by East Semitic peoples as Shamash, is the ancient Mesopotamian god of the sun, justice, morality, and truth, and the twin brother of the goddess Inanna, whose domain encompassed a broad variety of different powers. In Sumerian texts, Inanna and Utu are shown as extremely close; in fact, their relationship frequently borders on incestuous.

Utu was believed to ride through the heavens in his sun chariot and see all things that happened in the day. According to Sumerian mythology, he helped protect Dumuzid when the galla demons tried to drag him to the Underworld and he appeared to the hero Ziusudra after the Great Flood. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, he helps Gilgamesh defeat the ogre Humbaba.

Utu is usually the son of Nanna, the god of the moon, and his wife, Ningal, but is sometimes also described as the son of An or Enlil. He was the enforcer of divine justice and was thought to aid those in distress. His wife was the goddess Sherida. They were believed to have two offspring: the goddess Kittu, whose name means “Truth”, and the god Misharu, whose name means “Justice”.

Sherida was a goddess of beauty, fertility, and sexual love, possibly because light was seen as inherently beautiful, or because of the sun’s role in promoting agricultural fertility. By the time of the Old Babylonian Period (c. 1830 – c. 1531 BC), Sherida, and consequently Utu, was associated with nadītu, an order of cloistered women who devoted their lives to the gods.

Sherida was later known in Akkadian as Aya, the Akkadian word for “dawn”. The Babylonians sometimes referred to her as kallatu (the bride), and as such she was known as the wife of Shamash. By the Neo-Babylonian period at the latest (and possibly much earlier), Shamash and Aya were associated with a practice known as Hasadu, which is loosely translated as a “sacred marriage.”

During the Kassite Period (c. 1600 BC — c. 1155 BC) and Neo-Assyrian Period (911 BC — 609 BC), Anu was represented by a horned cap. The Amorite god Amurru was sometimes equated with Anu. Later, during the Seleucid Empire (213 BC — 63 BC), Anu was identified with Enmešara and Dumuzid.

Amurru and Martu are names given in Akkadian and Sumerian texts to the god of the Amorite/Amurru people, often forming part of personal names. He is sometimes called Ilu Amurru (DMAR.TU). He was the patron god of the Mesopotamian city of Ninab, whose exact location is unknown.

Amurru/Martu was probably a western Semitic god originally. He is sometimes described as a ‘shepherd’ or as a storm god, and as a son of the sky-god Anu. He is sometimes called bêlu šadī or bêl šadê, ‘lord of the mountain’; dúr-hur-sag-gá sikil-a-ke, ‘He who dwells on the pure mountain’; and kur-za-gan ti-[la], ‘who inhabits the shining mountain’.

Hadad, Adad, Haddad (Akkadian) or Iškur (Sumerian) was the storm and rain god in the Northwest Semitic and ancient Mesopotamian religions. Adad and Iškur are usually written with the logogram dIM – the same symbol used for the Hurrian god Teshub. The bull was the symbolic animal of Hadad.

He appeared bearded, often holding a club and thunderbolt while wearing a bull-horned headdress. Hadad was equated with the Greek god Zeus; the Roman god Jupiter, as Jupiter Dolichenus; the Indo-European Nasite Hittite storm-god Teshub; the Egyptian god Amun.

Dumuzid, later known by the alternate form Tammuz, is an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with shepherds, who was also the primary consort of the goddess Inanna (later known as Ishtar). In Sumerian mythology, Dumuzid’s sister was Geshtinanna, the goddess of vegetation.

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.

Nergal, Nirgal, or Nirgali was a deity worshipped throughout Mesopotamia (Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia) with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. He 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”.

A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninurta (slayer of Asag and wielder of Sharur, an enchanted mace) and Nergal. In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

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

In the ancient Sumerian poem Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld Ereshkigal is described as Inanna’s older sister. nanna and Ereshkigal represent polar opposites. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven, but Ereshkigal is the queen of Irkalla.

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

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. Aplu may be related with Apaliunas who is considered to be the Hittite reflex of *Apeljōn, an early form of the name Apollo.

Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman mythology. The ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of music, truth and prophecy, healing, the sun and light, plague, poetry, and more. Apollo is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu.

Sumerian astrology

Anu is identified with the north ecliptic pole centered in the constellation Draco and, along with his sons Enlil and Enki, constitutes the highest divine triad personifying the three bands of constellations of the vault of the sky.

Together these three gods represented the embodiment of all the fixed stars in the night sky. An was identified with all the stars of the equatorial sky, Enlil with those of the northern sky, and Enki with those of the southern sky.

The Sumerians used a number system with a base 60 because 60 was Anu’s number, while Enlil was associated with the number 50, which was considered sacred to him, and Enki was referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40”.

Draco is a constellation in the far northern sky. Its name is Latin for dragon. The north pole of the ecliptic is in Draco. Draco is circumpolar (that is, never setting), and can be seen all year from northern latitudes.

Dragons in Greek mythology that may have inspired the constellation’s name include Ladon, the dragon who guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides. Heracles killed Ladon during his 12 labors; he was tasked with stealing the golden apples. The constellation of Hercules is depicted near Draco.

In Greco- Roman legend, Draco was a dragon killed by the goddess Minerva and tossed into the sky upon his defeat. The dragon was one of the Gigantes, who battled the Olympic gods for ten years. As Minerva threw the dragon, it became twisted on itself and froze at the cold North Celestial Pole before it could right itself.

Zeta Draconis is mentioned in Hindu mythology as Tara who was a celestial goddess married to Lord Brhaspati. A divine epic was played out in the night sky when Lord Chandra, the moon, lusted after and abducted Tara, the blue pole star of Brhaspati, the planet Jupiter. By the completion of the epic Tara gives birth to Lord Budha, or Mercury.

Thuban, also designated Alpha Draconis (α Draconis, abbreviated Alpha Dra, α Dra), is a star (or star system) in the constellation of Draco. It was the northern pole star from 3942 BC, when it moved farther north than Theta Boötis (θ Boo, θ Boötis), a star in the constellation Boötes, until 1793 BC.

Theta Boötis was from about 4300 BC until 3942 BC the closest star to the celestial north pole visible to the naked eye, although it was still too dim to be regarded as a pole star.

The traditional name of Alpha Draconis, Thuban, means “head of the serpent”. The traditional name Thuban is derived from the Arabic word thuʿbān, ‘snake’. It is sometimes known as the Dragon’s Tail and as Adib. Due to the effects of precession, it will again be the pole star around the year AD 21000.

Given good viewing conditions, Thuban is relatively easy to spot in the night sky, due to its location in relation to the Big Dipper (aka the Plough) asterism of Ursa Major. While it is well known that the two outer stars of the ‘dipper’ point to the modern-day pole star Polaris, it is less well known that the two inner stars, Phecda and Megrez, point to Thuban, just 15 degrees of arc from Megrez.

Due to the precession of Earth’s rotational axis, Thuban was the naked-eye star closest to the north pole from 3942 BC, when it superseded Iota Draconis (ι Draconis, abbreviated Iota Dra, ι Dra), also named Edasich, as the Pole Star, until 1793 BC, when it was superseded by Kappa Draconis. It was closest to the pole in 2830 BC, when it was less than ten arc-minutes away from the pole.

It remained within one degree of celestial north for nearly 200 years afterwards, and even 900 years after its closest approach, was just five degrees off the pole. Thuban was considered the pole star until about 1800 BC, when the much brighter Beta Ursae Minoris (β Ursae Minoris, abbreviated Beta UMi, β UMi), also known as Kochab, began to approach the pole as well.

Having gradually drifted away from the pole over the last 4,800 years, Thuban is now seen in the night sky at a declination of 64° 20′ 45.6″, RA 14h 04m 33.58s. After moving nearly 47 degrees off the pole by 10000 AD, Thuban will gradually move back toward the north celestial pole. In 20346 AD, it will again be the pole star, that year reaching a maximum declination of 88° 43′ 17.3″, at right ascension 19h 08m 54.17s.

Due to the effects of precession, Kappa Draconis was the nearest star to the North Celestial Pole visible to the naked eye from 1793 BC to approximately 1000 BC, though it was 6° removed from perfect alignment, making it only an approximate pole star, similar to the roughly 7° variance from perfect alignment of the much brighter star Kochab, at the same time during Earth’s precession.

Kochab is the brightest star in the bowl of the Little Dipper asterism (which is part of the constellation of Ursa Minor), and only slightly fainter than Polaris, the northern pole star and brightest star in Ursa Minor.

From around 2500 BCE, as Thuban became less and less aligned with the celestial north, Kochab became one pillar of the circumpolar stars first with Mizar, a star in the middle of the handle of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major), and later with Pherkad (in Ursa Minor).

In fact, circa the year 2467 BCE, the true north was best observed by drawing a plumb line between Mizar and Kochab, a fact with which the ancient Egyptians were well acquainted as they aligned the great Pyramid of Giza with it.

This cycle of the succession of pole stars occurs due to the precession of the equinoxes. As precession continues, by the year 1100 BCE Kochab is within roughly 7° of the northern celestial pole, with old references over emphasizing this near pass by mentioning Beta Ursae Minoris as “Polaris”, relating it to the current pole star, Polaris, which is slightly brighter and will have a much closer alignment of less than 0.5° by 2100 AD.

This change in the identity of the pole stars is a result of Earth’s precessional motion. After 2000 BCE, Kochab and a new star, its neighbor Pherkad, were closer to the pole and together served as twin pole stars, circling the North Pole, from around 1700 BCE until just after 300 AD. Neither star was as proximitous to the celestial north pole as Polaris is now. Today, they are sometimes referred to as the “Guardians of the Pole.”

Enlil, later known as Elil, is an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with wind, air, earth, and storms. He is first attested as the chief deity of the Sumerian pantheon, but he was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Hurrians.

Enlil’s epithets include titles such as “the Great Mountain” and “King of the Foreign Lands”. Enlil is also sometimes described as a “raging storm”, a “wild bull”, and a “merchant”. The Mesopotamians envisioned him as a creator, a father, a king, and the supreme lord of the universe.

His primary center of worship was the Ekur temple in the city of Nippur, which was believed to have been built by Enlil himself and was regarded as the “mooring-rope” of heaven and earth, the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united.

The path of Enlil’s celestial orbit was a continuous, symmetrical circle around the north celestial pole, but those of An and Enki were believed to intersect at various points. Enlil was associated with the constellation Boötes, 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”). 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.

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 plowman 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 relates that he invented the plow and was memorialized for his ingenuity as a constellation.

Arcturus, also designated Alpha Boötis (α Boötis, abbreviated Alpha Boo, α Boo), is the brightest star in the constellation of Boötes, the fourth-brightest in the night sky, and the brightest in the northern celestial hemisphere.

The traditional name Arcturus derives from Ancient Greek Arktouros and means “Guardian of the Bear”, ultimately from ἄρκτος (arktos), “bear” and ouros, “watcher, guardian”. It has been known by this name since at least the time of Hesiod. The Greek name is a reference to its being the brightest star in the constellation next to Ursa Major, the Greater Bear.

One astronomical tradition associates it with the mythology around Arcas, who was about to shoot and kill his own mother Callisto who had been transformed into a bear. Zeus averted their imminent tragic fate by transforming the boy into the constellation Boötes, called Arctophylax “bear guardian” by the Greeks, and his mother into Ursa Major (Greek: Arctos “the bear”). The account is given in Hyginus’s Astronomy.

Callisto was one of the followers of Artemis, or Diana for the Romans, who attracted Zeus (Jupiter). He transformed himself into the figure of Artemis and seduced her in this disguise. She became pregnant and when this was eventually discovered, she was expelled from Artemis’s group, after which a furious Hera (Juno, wife of her seducer) transformed her into a bear.

Later, just as she was about to be killed by her son when he was hunting, she was set among the stars as Ursa Major (“the Great Bear”). She was the bear-mother of the Arcadians, through her son Arcas by Zeus. In every case, Zeus placed them both in the sky as the constellations Ursa Major, called Arktos, the “Bear”, by Greeks, and Ursa Minor.

The myth in Catasterismi may be derived from the fact that a set of constellations appear close together in the sky, in and near the Zodiac sign of Libra, namely Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Boötes, and Virgo. In ancient Mesopotamia, Arcturus was linked to the god Enlil, and also known as Shudun, “yoke”,[12] or SHU-PA of unknown derivation

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. The foreleg of ox (a foreleg with the thigh) hieroglyph of Ancient Egypt is an old hieroglyph; it even represented a nighttime constellation (the Big Dipper, Maskheti). It came to have many uses in Ancient Egypt over three millennia.

Enki is the Sumerian god of water, knowledge (gestú), mischief, crafts (gašam), and creation (nudimmud). He was later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians.

Enki was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity. On the Adda Seal, Enki is depicted with two streams of water flowing into each of his shoulders: one the Tigris, the other the Euphrates.

Alongside him are two trees, symbolizing the male and female aspects of nature. He is shown wearing a flounced skirt and a cone-shaped hat. An eagle descends from above to land upon his outstretched right arm. This portrayal reflects Enki’s role as the god of water, life, and replenishment.

Enki was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus), which constitutes Pegasus’ main body. It is one of the several most recognizable northern asterisms, along with the Summer Triangle, Cassiopeia’s W, the Keystone in Hercules, the Water Jar in Aquarius, the Northern Cross in Cygnus, and the Circlet of Pisces in Pisces.


Vega, also designated Alpha Lyrae (α Lyrae, abbreviated Alpha Lyr or α Lyr), is the brightest star in the constellation of Lyra, the fifth-brightest star in the night sky, and the second-brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere, after Arcturus. It is relatively close at only 25 light-years from the Sun, and, together with Arcturus and Sirius, one of the most luminous stars in the Sun’s neighborhood.

Vega has been extensively studied by astronomers, leading it to be termed “arguably the next most important star in the sky after the Sun”. Vega was the northern pole star around 12,000 BC and will be so again around the year 13,727, when the declination will be +86°14′.

The indestructables

Kochab (Beta Ursae Minoris), in the bowl of Ursa Minor or, the Little Dipper, and Mizar (Zeta Ursae Majoris), in Ursa Major, at the middle of the handle of the Big Dipper, two bright circumpolar stars which, at that time, could always be seen circling the North Pole, were referred to by Ancient Egyptian astronomers as “The Indestructibles” (Egyptian ikhemu-sek – literally “the ones not knowing destruction”).

The naming is an apt metaphor in Egyptian ideology. The name is directly related to Egyptian belief in constant North as a portal to heaven for pharaohs, and the stars’ close association with eternity and the afterlife. Circumpolar stars are a very good metaphor for the afterlife because when viewed, they never seem to set: they simply rotate around the pole star. They are the undying stars, or in Egyptian terminology, the Indestructibles, a perfect destination for the soul of the dead king.

The context for this is the Egyptian belief that Ra (the sun god) was given birth to by Nut (the sky goddess). Nut was pictured as a naked female spread across the sky, and identified with the Milky Way – the legs formed by the bifurcation at Deneb in Cygnus, and the head by the swelling at Gemini.

The head of Nut passes below the horizon about 75 minutes after the sun on the spring equinox, and at the same point on the horizon, “consuming” Ra, who was symbolically reborn 272 days later on the morning of the Winter solstice, on the same declination as Deneb.

About 4,500 years ago, the Egyptians believed that the unmovable area the stars encircled by 10 degrees each, was heaven in the sense that it was the place of the afterlife. The pole star at the time was Thuban (Alpha Draconis). The Egyptian Pyramids were designed to have one side facing north, with an entrance passage geometrically aligned so that Thuban would be visible at night.

Egyptians associated those two stars with eternity and the afterlife of a king or pharaoh so that after death, a pharaoh would hope to join those stars. During the Old Kingdom it was thought that only the pharaoh and his family could ascend to heaven.

As Pharaohs were buried in pyramids there were implications for their afterlife and their immortality and consequently the structures were deliberately aligned astronomically. Believing that their kings became stars in the Northern sky after death, Egyptians aligned their pyramids and temples due north toward the “indestructible” stars, giving the departed pharaohs direct access to the northern sky.

As the Egyptians believed that the unmovable area the stars circled was heaven, the pyramids were built to align north with a single, perfectly aligned vent. In King Khufu’s Pyramid, the shaft itself, built into the structure, started at the chamber of King Khufu and ends at the outside. The shaft was built at an angle, so it could always sight The Indestructibles.

The Egyptians built this vent in the pyramids in order to ensure a perfectly aligned path towards heaven (although recent researches have shown them not to be completely perfect). Hancock and Bauval claim these inaccuracies mean that the Great Pyramid and by extension the Sphinx were built c. 10,500 BC, a suggestion not widely accepted.

The entrances to all the Fourth Dynasty pyramids at Giza (the Great Pyramid, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure) are in their north faces and the corridors are sloped down from the entrances in such a way that both the circumpolar stars and the pole star were visible. The positioning of the pyramids is such that they do not block each other’s views of these stars.

Since a pyramid was a resting place, rather than a tomb, providing the occupant with all the requirements both physical and mystical for the journey of the ka to the afterlife to become an akh, as David Warburton puts it “In this sense… the entrance is in fact the exit”. The North Shaft of the Kings chamber is also believed to have aligned with Beta Ursae Minoris to facilitate the King’s journey as Horus to the stars.

Dr. Kate Spence of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Cambridge University argues that the alignment of the Great Pyramid of Giza was performed by waiting for a “simultaneous transit” of the circumpolar Indestructibles, and therefore, that by charting the precession of the stars a relatively accurate start date (+/- 5 years) for its construction can be given, namely 2480 BC. Previous Egyptian chronology for the Old Kingdom could only be considered accurate to within 100 years either way.

The ka statue of Djoser in the tombs at Abydos was in a serdab (a type of chamber) in the northern base of his pyramid, tilted at 17 degrees to enable it to observe the circumpolar stars through two holes.

The North Star

The North Star (in the Chukchi language Iluk-eŋer ‘the Immobile Star’, ‡lqep-eŋer ‘the Nail Star’ or Unp-eŋer ‘the Driven-in Stake Star,’ ‘Pole Star’) is cast in the central role among stars. V. Bogoraz Tan claims that the latter version of the star’s name is common all over Europe.

The North Star in the firmament is like a pole or stake driven into the ground around which stars circle, resembling horses or reindeer tied to a pole. Its house is near the Zenith and through its smoke opening it is possible to travel between worlds.

Due to that opening the North Star can be seen in all worlds, in the underworld as well as in upper realms, while other stars and constellations are not the same in different realms. At the same time it is believed that the North Star’s house is higher up than other houses. Its house is made of ice-like substance and to its top is fixed a lighthouse-like
source of light (Bogoraz-Tan 1939: 23).

In his book Andres Kuperjanov lists the names different peoples call the North Star by the Golden Pillar (Mongols, Buriats, Kalmyks and Altaian Tatars), the Iron Pillar (Kyrgyzes, Bashkirs and Siberian Tatars), the Lonely Stake (Teleuts), the Golden Stake (Tunguses).

All these ethnic groups picture the North Star as an immobile stake or pillar or a stake driven into the sky. The same applies to Chukchis. The Chukchi name of the Nail Star
has a close resemblance to the Estonian name of Põhjanael ‘Northern Nail’.

In the Chukchi worldview stars ranking next to the North Star as to their importance are the so-called heads (in Chukchi Leutti). Heads are formed of two stars. The First Head is Arcturus in the constellation Bear Watcher (Chukchi Janotlaut, Estonian Karuvalvur ‘Guardian of Bear’) and the Second Head is Vega in the constellation Lyra (Chukchi Jaatlaut, Estonian Vabamees ‘Freeman’, Voorimees ‘Coachman’). According to Chukchis these stars are brothers or cousins.

Travelling in the nighttime tundra Chukchis use the mutual position of the heads and the North Star as a reference point to find the right direction. Arcturus is sometimes also called the leader or the guide of stars. Chukchis turn to both of the stars to seek help when healing. In case of diseases a sacrifice has to be brought to Arcturus or the First Head. In case of stomach ache the sacrif

Northern pole stars

Tyr (T) and Taweret (Taw)

The sun gods are normaly written with initial s or t. The proto-Semitic phoneme /ṱ/ shifted to /ṣ/. In the Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish, Anshar (also spelled Anshur), which means “whole heaven”, is a primordial god.

His consort is Kishar which means “Whole Earth”. If this name /Anšar/ is derived from */Anśar/, then it may be related to the Egyptian hieroglyphic /NṬR/ (“god”), since hieroglyphic Egyptian /Ṭ/ may be etymological */Ś/.

In Germanic mythology, Týr (Old Norse), Tíw (Old English), and Ziu (Old High German) is a god. Like Latin Jupiter and Greek Zeus, Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz ultimately stems from the Proto-Indo-European theonym *Dyeus.

Stemming from the Proto-Germanic deity *Tīwaz and ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European deity *Dyeus, little information about the god survives beyond Old Norse sources. Due to the etymology of the god’s name and the shadowy presence of the god in the extant Germanic corpus, Týr may have once held a more central place among the deities of early Germanic mythology.

By way of the process of interpretatio germanica, the deity is the namesake of Tuesday (‘Týr’s day’) in Germanic languages, including English. Interpretatio romana, in which Romans interpret other gods as forms of their own, generally renders the god as Mars, the ancient Roman war god, and it is through that lens that most Latin references to the god occur.

For example, the god may be referenced as Mars Thingsus (Latin ‘Mars of the Thing’) on 3rd century Latin inscription, reflecting a strong association with the Germanic thing, a legislative body among the ancient Germanic peoples still in use among some of its modern descendants.

Týr is the namesake of the Tiwaz rune, t-rune ᛏ, a letter of the runic alphabet corresponding to the Latin letter T. Outside of its application as a theonym, the Old Norse common noun týr means ‘(a) god’ (plural tívar). In turn, the theonym Týr may be understood to mean “the god”.

Tyr and Thor

In the Old English rune poem dated to the 8th or 9th century, the T-rune (T: Tyr, the sky god) named after Týr, and reconstructed in Proto-Germanic as *Tîwaz or *Teiwaz, is apparently associated with a circumpolar constellation, one that never sets below the horizon, and compared to the quality of honor, justice, leadership and authority.

The Old English rune poem has stanzas on 29 Anglo-Saxon runes. It stands alongside younger rune poems from Scandinavia, which record the names of the 16 Younger Futhark runes. The sole manuscript recording the poem, Cotton Otho B.x, was destroyed in the Cotton Fire of 1731, and all editions of the poems are based on a facsimile published by George Hickes in 1705.

In the poem the Tir rune appears to have adopted the Scandinavian form (Týr, the Anglo-Saxon cognate being Tiƿ). However, tīr exists as a noun in Old English, with a meaning of “glory, fame honour”. Perhaps involving the original meaning of Tiƿ, the god associated with fame and honour; also interpreted as “a constellation”, “lodestar” because of the stanza’s emphasis on “fixedness”.

The name of the Old English Þorn rune is thus the only case with no counterpart in Scandinavian tradition, where the corresponding rune is called Þurs. Thorn or þorn (Þ, þ) is a letter in the Old English, Gothic, Old Norse, and modern Icelandic alphabets, as well as some dialects of Middle English. It is transliterated as þ, and has the sound value of a voiceless dental fricative /θ/ (the English sound of th as in thing).

It was also used in medieval Scandinavia, but was later replaced with the digraph th, except in Iceland, where it survives. The letter originated from the rune ᚦ in the Elder Fuþark and was called thorn in the Anglo-Saxon and thorn or thurs (a category of beings in Germanic paganism) in the Scandinavian rune poems. Its reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is Thurisaz.

The rune ᚦ is called Thurs (Old Norse Þurs “giant”, from a reconstructed Common Germanic *Þurisaz) in the Icelandic and Norwegian rune poems. Old Norse þurs, Old English ðyrs, and Old High German duris ‘devil, evil spirit’ derive from the Proto-Germanic masculine noun *þur(i)saz, itself derived form Proto-Germanic *þurēnan, which is etymologically connected to Sanskrit turá- ‘strong, powerful, rich’.

Thurisaz (Thurs) is the rune associated with Thor, and embodies masculine energy and the combination of wisdom with force. Its energies are invoked to strengthen and direct ones Will as well as destroy barriers to positive evolution.

It’s not uncommon for the rune meaning of Thurisaz to be described as a thorn that is most sharp, a grim and evil thing to take grip on or touch. However, it is representative of Thor and his hammer, protecting Asgard from the thurses, giants who resist the expansion of consciousness throughout the multiverse.

In every respect, the energies of Thurisaz are a forceful enemy of unconsciousness, ignorance and the rule of brute violence. Thurisaz represents the warrior that combines consciousness and wisdom with matters requiring force. Thor is the champion god of courageous and free human beings and the ultimate physical fighting force.

The name is derived from Old English Þūnresdæg and Middle English Thuresday (with loss of -n-, first in northern dialects, from influence of Old Norse Þorsdagr) meaning “Thor’s Day”. It was named after the Norse god of Thunder, Thor. Thunor, Donar (German, Donnerstag) and Thor are derived from the name of the Germanic god of thunder, Thunraz, equivalent to Jupiter in the interpretatio romana.

The English name is derived from Old English Tiwesdæg and Middle English Tewesday, meaning “Tīw’s Day”, the day of Tiw or Týr, the god of single combat, and law and justice in Norse mythology. Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio germanica, and the name of the day is a translation of Latin dies Martis.


Taw, tav, or taf is the twenty-second and last letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Tāw. The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek tau (Τ), Latin T, and Cyrillic Т. The sound value of Semitic Taw, Greek alphabet Tαυ (Tau), Old Italic and Latin T has remained fairly constant, representing [t] in each of these; and it has also kept its original basic shape in most of these alphabets.

Taw is believed to be derived from the Egyptian hieroglyph meaning “mark”. Ezekiel 9:4 depicts a vision in which the tav plays a Passover role similar to the blood on the lintel and doorposts of a Hebrew home in Egypt.

In Ezekiel’s vision, the Lord has his angels separate the demographic wheat from the chaff by going through Jerusalem, the capital city of ancient Israel, and inscribing a mark, a tav, “upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.”

In Ezekiel’s vision, then, the Lord is counting tav-marked Israelites as worthwhile to spare, but counts the people worthy of annihilation who lack the tav and the critical attitude it signifies. In other words, looking askance at a culture marked by dire moral decline is a kind of shibboleth for loyalty and zeal for God.

Tav is the last letter of the Hebrew word emet, which means ‘truth’. The midrash explains that emet is made up of the first, middle, and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet (aleph, mem, and tav: אמת). Sheqer (falsehood), on the other hand, is made up of the 19th, 20th, and 21st (and penultimate) letters.

Thus, truth is all-encompassing, while falsehood is narrow and deceiving. In Jewish mythology it was the word emet that was carved into the head of the golem which ultimately gave it life. But when the letter aleph was erased from the golem’s forehead, what was left was “met”—dead. And so the golem died.

From aleph to omega / taw

“From aleph to taf” describes something from beginning to end, the Hebrew equivalent of the English “From A to Z.” Alpha (Α or α) and omega (Ω or ω) are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and a title of Christ and God in the Book of Revelation. This pair of letters are used as Christian symbols, and are often combined with the Cross, Chi-rho, or other Christian symbols.

Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC. Taurus was the first sign of the zodiac established among the ancient Mesopotamians – who knew it as the Bull of Heaven – because it was the constellation through which the sun rose on the vernal equinox at that time.

As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”. The Akkadian name was Alu. Alalu is god in Hurrian mythology. He is considered to have housed the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth.

Due to the precession of the equinox, it has since passed through the constellation Aries and into the constellation Pisces (hence our current era being known as the Age of Pisces). However, Alpha (uppercase Α, lowercase α) is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. It was derived from the Phoenician and Hebrew letter aleph Aleph which means an ox or leader. Letters that arose from alpha include the Latin A and the Cyrillic letter А.

In the system of Greek numerals, it has a value of 1. In English, the noun “alpha” is used as a synonym for “beginning”, or “first” (in a series), reflecting its Greek roots. Alpha, both as a symbol and term, is used to refer to or describe a variety of things, including the first or most significant occurrence of something.

The New Testament has God declaring himself to be the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” (Revelation 22:13, KJV, and see also 1:8). Omega (capital: Ω, lowercase: ω;) is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet. The word literally means “great O” (ō mega, mega meaning “great”), as opposed to omicron, which means “little O” (o mikron, micron meaning “little”).

Ninḫursaĝ (Sumerian NIN “lady” and ḪAR.SAG “sacred mountain, foothill”), also known as Damgalnuna or Ninmah, was the ancient Sumerian 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”.

Sometimes her hair is depicted in an omega shape and at times she wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders. Frequently she carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash. She is the tutelary deity to several Sumerian leaders.

Her symbol, resembling the Greek letter omega Ω, has been depicted in art from approximately 3000 BC, although 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. The symbol appears on very early imagery from Ancient Egypt. Hathor is at times depicted on a mountain, so it may be that the two goddesses are connected. First Hathor, and then Isis, give birth to and nurse Horus and Ra. Hathor the horned-cow is one of the 12 daughters of Ra, gifted with joy and is a wet-nurse to Horus.

Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubileya/Kubeleya Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother” is an Anatolian mother goddess; she may have a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük in Anatolia, where statues of plump women, sometimes sitting, have been found in excavations dated to the 6th millennium BC and identified by some as a mother goddess.

From at least the 4th Dynasty of ancient Egypt, the sun was worshipped as the deity Re (pronounced probably as Riya, meaning simply ‘the sun’), and portrayed as a falcon headed god surmounted by the solar disk, and surrounded by a serpent. Re supposedly gave warmth to the living body, symbolised as an ankh: a “T” shaped amulet with a looped upper half. The ankh, it was believed, was surrendered with death, but could be preserved in the corpse with appropriate mummification and funerary rites.


In Ancient Egyptian religion, Taweret (also spelled Taurt, Tuat, Taouris, Tuart, Ta-weret, Tawaret, Twert, Thoeris and Taueret; but also known as Ipy, Ipet, Apet, Opet, Reret) is the protective ancient Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility. She commonly bears the epithets “Lady of Heaven”, “Mistress of the Horizon”, “She Who Removes Water”, “Mistress of Pure Water”, and “Lady of the Birth House”.

Taweret literally means “the great female”, “she who is great” or simply “great one” , a common pacificatory address to dangerous deities, but she was also known as “Ipet” (“harem”) and “Reret” (“the sow”). At one point in history there may have been three variants of the goddess, but soon all were merged as Taweret.

She was associated with the lion, the crocodile, and the hippo; all animals which were feared by the Egyptians but also highly respected. The deity is typically depicted as a bipedal female hippopotamus with feline attributes, pendulous female human breasts, and the back of a Nile crocodile.

Archaeological evidence demonstrates that hippopotamuses inhabited the Nile well before the dawn of Early Dynastic Period (before 3000 BCE). The violent and aggressive behavior of these creatures intrigued the people that inhabited the region, leading the ancient Egyptians both to persecute and to venerate them.

From a very early date, male hippopotami were thought to be manifestations of chaos; consequently, they were overcome in royal hunting campaigns, intended to demonstrate the divine power of the king. However, female hippopotami were revered as manifestations of apotropaic deities, as they studiously protect their young from harm.

As the counterpart of Apep, who was always below the horizon, Taweret was seen as being the northern sky, the constellation roughly covering the area of present-day Draco, which always lies above the horizon. Thus she was known as Nebetakhet, the “Mistress of the Horizon”. She represented the circumpolar stars of Ursa Minor and Draco (the little dipper formed her back) who guarded the northern sky that was associated with both of the evil gods of Egyptian mythology.

The name ‘Reret’ is a shortened form of the name Taweret. Reret was also often depicted bearing a crocodile on her back. Although she is always depicted as a hippopotamus, the name ‘Reret’ means ‘the Sow’ because the ancient Egyptians saw the hippo as a water pig. Possibly the first of the hippo goddesses, she was initially viewed as a dangerous and potentially malignant force.

However, by the Old Kingdom she was seen as a protective, rather than an aggressive force (just as female hippos came to be seen as aggressive largely in defence of their young). She was thought to help women in labor and to ward off evil spirits and demons who intended harm to mother or baby.

As a result, Taweret became a mother goddess and a patron of childbirth who was often described as the mother or wet nurse of the pharaoh. As time passed she soon became a household deity, helping rich and poor alike.


In the New Kingdom Taweret’s image was frequently used to represent a northern constellation in zodiacs in Egyptian astronomy. This image is attested in several astronomical tomb paintings.

She was thought to keep the northern sky – a place of darkness, cold, mist, and rain to the Egyptians – free of evil. She was believed to be a guardian of the north, stopping all who were unworthy before they could pass her by.

In all of the ancient Egyptian astronomical diagrams there is one figure which is always larger than all the rest, and most frequently found at the center of what appears to be a horizontal parade of figures. This figure is Taweret “The Great One”, a goddess depicted as a pregnant hippopotamus standing upright.

This figure represents a northern constellation associated, at least in part, with our modern constellation of Draco the dragon. She was shown to represent the never-setting circumpolar stars of Ursa Minor and Draco. The seven stars lined down her back are the stars of the Little Dipper.

In this role she was known as Nebetakhet, the Mistress of the Horizon – the ceiling painting of the constellations in the tomb of Seti I showed her in this capacity. The image of this astral Taweret appears almost exclusively next to the Setian foreleg of a bull. The latter image represents the Big Dipper and is associated with the Egyptian god of chaos, Seth.

The relationship between the two images is discussed in the Book of Day and Night (a cosmically focused mythological text from the Twentieth Dynasty, c. 1186–1069 BCE) as follows: “As to this foreleg of Seth, it is in the northern sky, tied down to two mooring posts of flint by a chain of gold. It is entrusted to Isis as a hippopotamus guarding it.”

Although the hippopotamus goddess is identified in this text as Isis, not Taweret, this phenomenon is not uncommon in later periods of Egyptian history. When assuming a protective role, powerful goddesses like Isis, Hathor, and Mut assumed the form of Taweret, effectively becoming a manifestation of this goddess.

This cosmic image continues to be seen in later periods, although the tendency was to show such divine astral bodies more abstractly. One example can be found in the late Ptolemaic or early Roman Book of the Faiyum, a local monograph dedicated to the Faiyum and its patron gods, namely Sobek-Re.

Taweret is depicted in her standard form with a crocodile on her back and a small upright crocodile in her right hand. She is shown in the section of the papyrus that is meant to depict the Faiyum’s central Lake Moeris.

The papyrus depicts the solar journey of Re with Lake Moeris as the place into which the sun god descends for his nightly journey, traditionally thought of as the underworldly realm of the Amduat. Taweret appears here as a well known constellation to demonstrate the celestial and otherworldly properties of Lake Moeris.

Cinese astrology 

The Western system used Greek legends for naming the constellations, there is no overall organization of all the stars, although some constellations have linked origins such as Pegasus, Perseus and Andromeda.

The Chinese system developed independently from the Greco-Roman system since at least the 5th century BC, although there may have been earlier mutual influence, suggested by parallels to ancient Babylonian astronomy.

The system of twenty-eight lunar mansions is very similar (although not identical) to the Indian Nakshatra system, and it is not currently known if there was mutual influence in the history of the Chinese and Indian systems.

The Emperor is at the north pole, the fixed point around which all other stars revolve. Laid out underneath him is a celestial landscape broadly reflecting the layout of an imagined Imperial court. There are many more Chinese constellations (283) than in the West in smaller groups with fewer stars.

In Chinese, Běi Jí, meaning North Pole, refers to an asterism consisting of Beta Ursae Minoris, Gamma Ursae Minoris, 5 Ursae Minoris, 4 Ursae Minoris and Σ 1694. Consequently, Beta Ursae Minoris itself is known as Běi Jí èr (English: the Second Star of North Pole), representing Dì, meaning Emperor.

In Chinese, Tiān Qiāng, meaning Celestial Spear, refers to an asterism consisting of θ Boötis, κ2 Boötis and ι Boötis. Consequently, θ Boötis itself is known as  Tiān Qiāng sān (“The Third Star of Celestial Spear”).

The whole sky is viewed as a scene in the heavens to reflect the organization of the Chinese nation on Earth. Around the Emperor are three enclosures. The stars in the enclosure are always visible.

The Three Enclosures (Sān Yuán) are centered on the North Celestial Pole and include those stars which could be seen year-round. The Three Enclosures are the Purple Forbidden enclosure (Zǐ Wēi Yuán), the Supreme Palace enclosure (Tài Wēi Yuán) and the Heavenly Market enclosure (Tiān Shì Yuán).

The Purple Forbidden Enclosure, which includes the pole star and parts of the constellations of Ursa Minor, Draco, Camelopardalis, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Auriga, Boötes, and parts of Ursa Major, Canes Venatici, Leo Minor, Hercules.

From the viewpoint of the ancient Chinese, the Purple Forbidden Enclosure lies in the middle of the sky and is circled by all the other stars. It is linked to the Purple Forbidden City at Beijing on Earth. It occupies the northernmost area of the night sky. Stars and constellations in this enclosure lie near the north celestial pole and are visible all year from temperate latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere.

The second enclosure, Tai Wei Yuan, or the Supreme Palace Enclosure, covers Virgo, Coma Berenices and Leo, and parts of Canes Venatici, Ursa Major and Leo Minor. These constellations are visible during spring in the Northern Hemisphere (autumn in the Southern).

The third is the Tian Shi Yuan, or the Heavenly Market Enclosure, which covers Serpens, Ophiuchus, Aquila and Corona Borealis, and parts of Hercules, are visible during late summer and early autumn in the Northern Hemisphere (late winter and early spring in the Southern).

The Three Enclosures are each enclosed by two “wall” asterisms, designated yuán “low wall, fence; enclosure” (not to be confused with the lunar mansion “”Wall”.

The asterism Zǐ Wēi Zuǒ Yuán, meaning Left Wall of Purple Forbidden Enclosure, consists of the constellations Draco, Cepheus and Cassiopeia, while the asterism Zǐ Wēi Yòu Yuán, meaning Right Wall of Purple Forbidden Enclosure, consists of the constellations Ursa Major, Draco and Camelopardalis.

In Chinese astronomy, the main stars of Ursa Minor are divided between two asterisms: Gòuchén (Curved Array) and Běijí (Northern Pole). Northern Pole, or běi jí, is a traditional Chinese asterism found in the Purple Forbidden enclosure.

It consists of five stars found in the modern constellations of Ursa Minor and Camelopardalis and represents the five stars of the North Pole. During the Qing dynasty, a total of four stars from the constellation Ursa Minor was added to the asterism.

The modern constellation Draco lies across one of the quadrants symbolized by the Black Tortoise of the North (Běi Fāng Xuán Wǔ) and Three Enclosures (Sān Yuán) that divide the sky in traditional Chinese uranography. The name of the western constellation in modern Chinese is (tiān lóng zuò), meaning “the heaven dragon constellation”.

The Black Tortoise or Black Turtle is one of the Four Symbols of the Chinese constellations. Despite its English name, it is usually depicted as a turtle entwined together with a snake.

Furthermore, in East Asian mythology it is not called after either animal but is instead known as the “Black Warrior” under various local pronunciations. It is known as Xuánwǔ in Chinese, Genbu in Japanese, and Hyeonmu in Korean. It represents the north and the winter season.

The stars of Boötes were incorporated into many different Chinese constellations. Arcturus was part of the most prominent of these, variously designated as the celestial king’s throne (Tian Wang) or the Blue Dragon’s horn (Daijiao); the name Daijiao, meaning “great horn”, is more common.

Arcturus was given such importance in Chinese celestial mythology because of its status marking the beginning of the lunar calendar, as well as its status as the brightest star in the northern night sky.

The Azure Dragon (Qīnglóng), also known as Bluegreen Dragon, Green Dragon, or also called the Blue Dragon (Cānglóng), is one of the Dragon Gods who represent the mount or chthonic forces of the Five Forms of the Highest Deity (Wǔfāng Shàngdì).

He is also one of the Four Symbols of the Chinese constellations, which are the astral representations of the Wufang Shangdi. The Bluegreen Dragon represents the east and the spring season. It is also known as Seiryu in Japanese and Cheong-nyong in Korean.

Apep and Set

Her family relationships were typically confusing. She was ocassionally (usually in older texts) described as the demon-wife of Apep who also lived in the northern sky, thought to be cold, dark and potentially dangerous and associated with both Apep or Apophis and Set (Egyptian: stẖ; also transliterated Setesh, Sutekh, Setekh, or Suty), a god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence, and foreigners.

Apep was a giant serpent who embodied chaos (ı͗zft in Egyptian) and was thus the opponent of light and Ma’at (order/truth). Ra was the solar deity, bringer of light, and thus the upholder of Ma’at. Apep was viewed as the greatest enemy of Ra, and thus was given the title Enemy of Ra, and also “the Lord of Chaos”.

According to one ancient myth, her husband Apep could only come out during the night and so she represented all that was evil during the day. As Apep was thought to live in the underworld, he was sometimes thought of as an Eater of Souls. Thus the dead also needed protection, so they were sometimes buried with spells that could destroy Apep. While in most texts Apep is described as a giant snake, he is sometimes depicted as a crocodile.

However, by the Old Kingdom she was seen as a protective, rather than an aggressive force (just as female hippos came to be seen as aggressive largely in defence of their young). As a result, Taweret became a mother goddess and a patron of childbirth who was often described as the mother or wet nurse of the pharaoh. As time passed she soon became a household deity, helping rich and poor alike.

One myth (reported by Plutarch) claimed that Taweret was the concubine of Set but that she was loyal to Horus. Apparently, she helped Isis after the death of her husband Osiris by detaining Set in the northern sky and preventing him from attacking Isis and her new baby.

Set had a positive role where he accompanies Ra on his solar boat to repel Apep, the serpent of Chaos. Set had a vital role as a reconciled combatant. He was lord of the red (desert) land where he was the balance to Horus’ role as lord of the black (soil) land.

In Egyptian mythology, Set is portrayed as the usurper who killed and mutilated his own brother Osiris. Osiris’ wife Isis reassembled (remembered) Osiris’ corpse and resurrected her dead husband long enough to conceive his son and heir Horus. Horus sought revenge upon Set, and the myths describe their conflicts.

Set’s siblings are Osiris, Isis, and Nephthys. He married Nephthys and fathered Anubis; and in some accounts he had relationships with the foreign goddesses Anat, and Astarte. The link to Set probably came about because he sometimes took the form of a Hippo and because the animal was recognised to be potentially dangerous and destructive.


She was frequently described as the wife of Bes, a demonic deity who was worshipped as a protector of households, and in particular, of mothers, children and childbirth. Bes later came to be regarded as the defender of everything good and the enemy of all that is bad. He scared away demons from houses, so his statue was put up as a protector.

Bes was a household protector, throughout ancient Egyptian history becoming responsible for such varied tasks as killing snakes, fighting off evil spirits, watching after children, and aiding (by fighting off evil spirits) women in labour (and thus present with Taweret at births).


Taweret was also described as the wife of Sobek (also called Sebek, Sochet, Sobk, and Sobki), in Greek, Suchos and from Latin Suchus, probably because he took the form of a crocodile. Sobek is associated with the Nile crocodile or the West African crocodile and is represented either in its form or as a human with a crocodile head.

Sobek was an ancient Egyptian deity with a complex and fluid nature. The origin of his name, Sbk in Egyptian, is debated among scholars, but many believe that it is derived from a causative of the verb “to impregnate”.

Sobek was also associated with pharaonic power, fertility, and military prowess, but served additionally as a protective deity with apotropaic qualities, invoked particularly for protection against the dangers presented by the Nile.

Sobek was associated with Set, but also often fused with the falcon-headed god of divine kingship, Horus (the enemy of Set), and Isis. This brought Sobek even closer with the kings of Egypt, thereby giving him a place of greater prominence in the Egyptian pantheon.

The fusion added a finer level of complexity to the god’s nature, as he was adopted into the divine triad of Horus and his two parents: Osiris and Isis. In Thebes, Amun and Taweret were thought to be the parents of Osiris (and therefore by implications his siblings, including Set).

Sobek first acquired a role as a solar deity through his connection to Horus, but this was further strengthened in later periods with the emergence of Sobek-Ra, a fusion of Sobek and Egypt’s primary sun god, Ra. Sobek-Horus persisted as a figure in the New Kingdom (1550–1069 BCE), but it was not until the last dynasties of Egypt that Sobek-Ra gained prominence.


Hapi was the god of the annual flooding of the Nile in ancient Egyptian religion. Hapi was not regarded as the god of the Nile itself but of the inundation event. He was also considered a “friend of Geb” the Egyptian god of the earth, and the “lord of Neper”, the god of grain.

The flood deposited rich silt (fertile soil) on the river’s banks, allowing the Egyptians to grow crops. Hapi was greatly celebrated among the Egyptians. Some of the titles of Hapi were “Lord of the Fish and Birds of the Marshes” and “Lord of the River Bringing Vegetation”.

The annual flooding of the Nile occasionally was said to be the Arrival of Hapi. Since this flooding provided fertile soil in an area that was otherwise desert, Hapi, as its patron, symbolised fertility. He had large female breasts because he was said to bring a rich and nourishing harvest.

Due to his fertile nature he was sometimes considered the “father of the gods”, and was considered to be a caring father who helped to maintain the balance of the cosmos, the world or universe regarded as an orderly, harmonious system.

He was thought to live within a cavern at the supposed source of the Nile near Aswan. The cult of Hapi was mainly located at the First Cataract named Elephantine. His priests were involved in rituals to ensure the steady levels of flow required from the annual flood. At Elephantine the official nilometer, a measuring device, was carefully monitored to predict the level of the flood, and his priests must have been intimately concerned with its monitoring.

Hapi is typically depicted as an androgynous figure with a large belly and pendulous breasts, as representations of the fertility of the Nile, wearing a loincloth and ceremonial false beard. Although male and wearing the false beard, Hapi was pictured with pendulous breasts and a large belly. He also was usually given blue or green skin, representing water. Other attributes varied, depending upon the region of Egypt in which the depictions exist.

Hapi often was pictured carrying offerings of food or pouring water from an amphora, but also, very rarely, was depicted as a hippopotamus. In Lower Egypt, he was adorned with papyrus plants and attended by frogs, present in the region, and symbols of it. Whereas in Upper Egypt, it was the lotus and crocodiles which were more present in the Nile, thus these were the symbols of the region, and those associated with Hapi there.

During the Nineteenth dynasty Hapi is often depicted as a pair of figures, each holding and tying together the long stem of two plants representing Upper and Lower Egypt, symbolically binding the two halves of the country around a hieroglyph meaning “union”. This symbolic representation was often carved at the base of seated statues of the pharaoh.

Opet (Wosret, Amunet and Mut, Nekhbet)

In Thebes, Amun and Taweret were thought to be the parents of Osiris. One of the most popular festivals called Ipet or Opet, an ancient Egyptian festival of the second month of the lunar calendar, celebrated her marriage to the god Amun thereby associating her with the primordial goddess Amanuet and Mut. In fact in later times Mut absorbed many of Taweret’s attributes.

At the festival she made a ritual journey together with Amon, her consort, and Khons, their son, from their shrines at Karnak to the temple of Luxor (called Ipet resyt in pharaonic Egyptian, hence the name of the festival).

Amunet, also spelled Amonet or Amaunet, is a primordial goddess in ancient Egyptian religion. She is a member of the Ogdoad of Hermopolis, who represented aspects of the primeval existence before the creation. Her name means “The Hidden One” with a feminine ending (imn.t, literally “The Female Hidden One”). She was paired with Amun — whose name means “The Hidden One” too, with a masculine ending (imn).

Such pairing of deities is characteristic of the religious concepts of the ancient Egyptians, being the Ogdoad itself composed by four balanced couples of deities or deified primeval concepts. By at least the 12th dynasty (c. 1991–1803 BC) she was superseded by Mut as Amun’s partner, as cults evolved or were merged following Mentuhotep II’s reunification of Egypt — but she remained locally important in the region of Thebes, where Amun was worshipped.

Wosret (Pronounced Wos-ret), Wasret or Wosyet meaning the powerful was an Egyptian goddess with a cult centre at Thebes in Upper Egypt. She was initially a localised guardian deity. She was also identified with the protection of the deity Horus, Isis son, when he was young.

She was Amun’s first wife, and was replaced by Mut, which meant mother in the ancient Egyptian language, and became an aspect of Hathor, although it is possible that Mut is simply a later name for Wosret. Amaunet and Wosret may have been Amun’s consorts early in Egyptian history, but Mut, who did not appear in texts or art until the late Middle Kingdom, displaced them.

Mut was the consort of Amun, the patron deity of pharaohs during the Middle Kingdom (c. 2055–1650 BC) and New Kingdom (c. 1550–1070 BC). In the New Kingdom, Amun and Mut were the patron deities of Thebes, the great city in Upper Egypt, and formed a cultic triad with their son, Khonsu. Her other major role was as a lioness deity, an Upper Egyptian counterpart to the fearsome Lower Egyptian goddess Sekhmet.

Mut, which meant mother in the ancient Egyptian language, was an ancient Egyptian mother goddess with multiple aspects that changed over the thousands of years of the culture. Alternative spellings are Maut and Mout. She was considered a primal deity, associated with the waters from which everything was born through parthenogenesis.

She was depicted as a woman with a head dress. The rulers of Egypt each supported her worship in their own way to emphasize their own authority and right to rule through an association with Mut. Some of Mut’s many titles included “World-Mother”, “Eye of Ra”, “Queen of the Goddesses”, “Lady of Heaven”, “Mother of the Gods”, and “She Who Gives Birth, But Was Herself Not Born of Any”.

In art, Mut was pictured as a woman with the wings of a vulture, holding an ankh, wearing the united crown of Upper and Lower Egypt and a dress of bright red or blue, with the feather of the goddess Ma’at at her feet. Alternatively, as a result of her assimilations, Mut is sometimes depicted as a cobra, a cat, a cow, or as a lioness as well as the vulture.

Mut was depicted as a woman wearing the double crown plus a royal vulture headdress, associating her with Nekhbet. Before the end of the New Kingdom almost all images of female figures wearing the Double Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt were depictions of the goddess Mut, here labeled “Lady of Heaven, Mistress of All the Gods”.

Nekhbet was an early predynastic local goddess in Egyptian mythology, who was the patron of the city of Nekheb (her name meaning of Nekheb). Ultimately, she became the patron of Upper Egypt and one of the two patron deities for all of Ancient Egypt when it was unified. The priestesses of Nekhbet were called muu (mothers) and wore robes of Egyptian vulture feathers.

As patron of the pharaoh, she was sometimes seen to be the mother of the divine aspect of the pharaoh, and it was in this capacity that she was “Mother of Mothers”, and “the Great White Cow of Nekheb”. In some late texts of the Book of the Dead, Nekhbet is referred to as “Father of Fathers, Mother of Mothers, who hath existed from the Beginning, and is Creatrix of this World”.

Nekhbet was the tutelary deity of Upper Egypt. Nekhbet and her Lower Egyptian counterpart Wadjet often appeared together as the “Two Ladies”, a religious euphemism for the goddesses Wadjet and Nekhbet, two deities who were patrons of the Ancient Egyptians and worshiped by all after the unification of its two parts, Lower Egypt, and Upper Egypt.

An interpretation of the Milky Way was that it was the primal snake, Wadjet, the protector of Egypt. In this interpretation she was closely associated with Hathor and other early deities among the various aspects of the great mother goddess, including Mut and Naunet. The association with Hathor brought her son Horus into association also. The cult of Ra absorbed most of Horus’s traits and included the protective eye of Wadjet that had shown her association with Hathor.

Hathor / Isis

Taweret was thought to help with matters of female sexuality and pregnancy, and so she was often associated with the goddess Hathor. She often wears a short cylindrical headdress topped by two plumes or the horns and solar disk of Hathor, bearing the “Sa” (representing protection) or the ankh (representing life).

Hathor was a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion who played a wide variety of roles. As a sky deity, she was the mother or consort of the sky god Horus and the sun god Ra, both of whom were connected with kingship, and thus she was the symbolic mother of their earthly counterparts, the pharaohs.

She was one of several goddesses who acted as the Eye of Ra, Ra’s feminine counterpart, and in this form she had a vengeful aspect that protected him from his enemies. However, in Egyptian belief, many terms and concepts are fluid, so the sun could also be called the “Eye of Horus”.

Her contrasting, beneficent side represented music, dance, joy, love, sexuality, and maternal care, and she acted as the consort of several male deities and the mother of their sons. These two sides of the goddess exemplified the Egyptian conception of femininity.

Hathor also crossed boundaries between worlds, helping deceased souls in the transition to the afterlife. She was often depicted as a cow, symbolizing her maternal and celestial aspects, although her most common form was a woman wearing a headdress of cow horns and a sun disk. She could also be represented as a lioness, cobra, or sycomore tree.

During the New Kingdom (c. 1550–1070 BC), goddesses such as Mut and Isis encroached on Hathor’s position in royal ideology, but she remained one of the most widely worshipped deities. After the end of the New Kingdom, Hathor was increasingly overshadowed by Isis, who took on her characteristics, but she continued to be venerated until the extinction of ancient Egyptian religion.

Hathor’s maternal aspects gave her many similarities with Isis and Mut, yet there was a certain amount of contrast between them. Isis’s devotion to her husband and care for their child represented a more socially acceptable form of love than Hathor’s licentiousness.

Hathor’s uninhibited sexuality also distinguished her from Mut, whose character was more authoritative than sexual. Papyrus Insinger, from the first century AD, likens a faithful wife, the mistress of a household, to Mut, while comparing strange women who tempt a married man to Hathor.


Taweret serves as a fine protective divine mother to Sobek-Re during his precarious journey. This Taweret figure is labeled as “Neith the Great, who protects her son”, demonstrating the malleability of the hippopotamus goddess form.

In this respect, she fulfills the role of Neith (a borrowing of the Demotic form Ancient Egyptian: nt, likely originally nrt “she is the terrifying one”), also spelled Nit, Net, or Neit), the primary divine mother of Sobek.

When in the role of a protective mother, it is not uncommon that other goddesses would appear in the form of Taweret. Likewise, Taweret gradually absorbed qualities of these goddesses and is commonly seen wearing the Hathoric sun disc that is ichnographically associated with both Hathor and Isis.

Neith was an early ancient Egyptian deity who was said to be the first and the prime creator. She was said to be the creator of the universe and all it contains and she governs how it functions. Sometimes Neith was pictured as a woman nursing a baby crocodile, and she then was addressed with the title, “Nurse of Crocodiles”, reflecting a southern provincial mythology that she served as either the mother of the crocodile god, Sobek, (or he was her consort).

Neith is a goddess of war and of hunting, and had as her symbol two arrows crossed over a shield. She thus had an additional association with death: in this function, she shot her arrows into the enemies of the dead, and thus she began to be viewed as a protector of the dead, often appearing as a uraeus snake to drive off intruders and those who would harm the deceased (in this form she is represented in the tomb of Tutankhamun).

In some creation myths, Neith was identified as the mother of Ra and Apep. When she was identified as a water goddess, she was also viewed as the mother of Sobek, the crocodile. It was this association with water, i.e. the Nile, that led to her sometimes being considered the wife of Khnum, and associated with the source of the River Nile.

The Greek historian Herodotus (c. 484–425 BC) noted that the Egyptian citizens of Sais in Egypt worshipped Neith and that they identified her with Athena. The Timaeus, a dialogue written by Plato, mirrors that identification with Athena, possibly as a result of the identification of both goddesses with war and weaving.

E. A. Wallis Budge speculates that the spread of Christianity in Egypt was influenced by the likeness of attributes between the Mother of Christ and goddesses such as Isis and Neith. He asserts that the writers of the apocryphal gospels, in honoring the blessed Virgin, ascribed to her the peculiar mythologies of these goddesses.


Taweret was also associated with Nut (Ancient Egyptian: Nwt), the goddess of the sky in the Ennead of ancient Egyptian religion seen as a star-covered nude woman arching over the earth, or as a cow, because her constellation was always above the horizon.

Mostly depicted in nude human form, Nut was also sometimes depicted in the form of a cow whose great body formed the sky and heavens, a sycamore tree, or as a giant sow, suckling many piglets (representing the stars), which provide a link between Nut and Taweret.

The pronunciation of ancient Egyptian is uncertain because vowels were long omitted from its writing, although her name often includes the unpronounced determinative hieroglyph for “sky”. Her name Nwt, itself also meaning “Sky”, is usually transcribed as “Nut” but also sometimes appears in older sources as Nunut, Nenet, Naunet or Nuit.

She is considered one of the oldest deities among the Egyptian pantheon, however, a huge cult developed about Osiris that lasted well into Roman times. She was originally the goddess of the nighttime sky, but eventually became referred to as simply the sky goddess. Her headdress was the hieroglyphic of part of her name, a pot, which may also symbolize the uterus.

Nut was the goddess of the sky and all heavenly bodies, a symbol of protecting the dead when they enter the afterlife. She was often painted on the inside lid of the sarcophagus, protecting the deceased. The vaults of tombs were often painted dark blue with many stars as a representation of Nut.

According to the Egyptians, during the day, the heavenly bodies—such as the sun and moon—would make their way across her body. Then, at dusk, they would be swallowed, pass through her belly during the night, and be reborn at dawn.

Nut is also the barrier separating the forces of chaos from the ordered cosmos in the world. She was pictured as a woman arched on her toes and fingertips over the earth; her body portrayed as a star-filled sky. Nut’s fingers and toes were believed to touch the four cardinal points or directions of north, south, east, and west.

Because of her role in saving Osiris, Nut was seen as a friend and protector of the dead, who appealed to her as a child appeals to its mother: “O my Mother Nut, stretch Yourself over me, that I may be placed among the imperishable stars which are in You, and that I may not die.” Nut was thought to draw the dead into her star-filled sky, and refresh them with food and wine: “I am Nut, and I have come so that I may enfold and protect you from all things evil.”

The Book of Nut is a modern title of what was known in ancient times as The Fundamentals of the Course of the Stars. This is an important collection of ancient Egyptian astronomical texts, perhaps the earliest of several other such texts, going back at least to 2,000 BC.

Nut, being the sky goddess, plays the big role in the Book of Nut. The text also tells about various other sky and earth deities, such as the star deities and the decans deities. The cycles of the stars and the planets, and the time keeping are covered in the book.

The Book of the Dead says, “Hail, thou Sycamore Tree of the Goddess Nut! Give me of the water and of the air which is in thee. I embrace that throne which is in Unu, and I keep guard over the Egg of Nekek-ur. It flourisheth, and I flourish; it liveth, and I live; it snuffeth the air, and I snuff the air, I the Osiris Ani, whose word is truth, in peace.”

Her origin is being found on the creation story of Heliopolis which involves several goddesses who play important roles: Tefnut (Tefenet) is a personification of moisture, who mated with Shu (Air) and then gave birth to Sky as the goddess Nut, who mated with her brother Earth, as Geb.

Nut and her brother and husband, Geb, may be considered enigmas in the world of mythology. In direct contrast to most other mythologies which usually develop a sky father associated with an Earth mother (or Mother Nature), she personified the sky and he the Earth.

From the union of Geb and Nut came Osiris, Set, Isis, Nephthys, and—in early Egyptian sources—Horus. Isis, the mother of Horus, whose story is central to that of her brother-husband, the resurrection god Osiris, was the most popular of Egyptian goddesses.

Isis was her husband’s queen in the underworld and the theological basis for the role of the queen on earth. It can be said that she was a version of the great goddess Hathor. Like Hathor she not only had death and rebirth associations, but was the protector of children and the goddess of childbirth.

Osiris is killed by his brother Set and scattered over the Earth in 14 pieces which Isis gathers up and puts back together. Osiris then climbs a ladder into his mother Nut for safety and eventually becomes king of the dead.

A sacred symbol of Nut was the ladder used by Osiris to enter her heavenly skies. This ladder-symbol was called maqet and was placed in tombs to protect the deceased, and to invoke the aid of the deity of the dead.

Nut is called “Mistress of All” or “She who Bore the Gods”. Originally, Nut was said to be lying on top of Geb (Earth) and continually having intercourse. During this time she birthed four children: Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys.

A fifth child named Arueris is mentioned by Plutarch. He was the Egyptian counterpart to the Greek god Apollo, who was made syncretic with Horus in the Hellenistic era as ‘Horus the Elder’. The Ptolemaic temple of Edfu is dedicated to Horus the Elder and there he is called the son of Nut and Geb, brother of Osiris, and the eldest son of Geb.

She also bore the title “Coverer of the Sky”. She was said to be covered in stars touching the different points of her body. She Who Protects: Among her jobs was to envelop and protect Ra, the sun god. “She Who Holds a Thousand Souls”. Because of her role in the re-birthing of Ra every morning and in her son Osiris’s resurrection, Nut became a key god in many of the myths about the afterlife.

Ra, the sun god, was the second to rule the world, according to the reign of the gods. Ra was a strong ruler but he feared anyone taking his throne. When he discovered that Nut was to have children, he was furious. He decreed, “Nut shall not give birth any day of the year.” At that time, the year was only 360 days.

Nut spoke to Thoth, god of wisdom, and he had a plan. Thoth gambled with Khonsu, god of the moon, whose light rivalled that of Ra’s. Every time Khonsu lost, he had to give Thoth some of his moonlight. Khonsu lost so many times that Thoth had enough moonlight to make 5 extra days.

Since these days were not part of the year, Nut could have her children. She had five children: Osiris, later ruler of the gods and then god of the dead, Horus the Elder, god of war, Set, god of chaos and the desert, Isis, goddess of magic, and Nephthys, goddess of water.

When Ra found out, he was furious. He separated Nut from her husband Geb for eternity. Her father, Shu, was to keep them apart. Nevertheless, Nut did not regret her decision.

Hippopotamus goddesses

From her ideological conception, Taweret was closely grouped with (and is often indistinguishable from) several other protective hippopotamus goddesses: Ipet, Reret, and Hedjet. Some scholars even interpret these goddesses as aspects of the same deity, considering their universally shared role as protective household goddesses.

The other hippopotamus goddesses have names that bear very specific meanings, much like Taweret (whose name is formed as a pacificatory address intended to calm the ferocity of the goddess): Ipet’s name (“the Nurse”) demonstrates her connection to birth, child rearing, and general caretaking, and Reret’s name (“the Sow”) is derived from the Egyptians’ classification of hippopotami as water pigs.

However, the origin of Hedjet’s name (“the White One”) is not as clear and could justly be debated. Evidence for the cult of hippopotamus goddesses exists from the time of the Old Kingdom (c. 2686 – 2181 BCE) in the corpus of ancient Egyptian funerary texts entitled the Pyramid Texts.

Spell 269 in the Pyramid Texts mentions Ipet and succinctly demonstrates her nurturing role; the spell announces that the deceased king will suck on the goddess’s “white, dazzling, sweet milk” when he ascends to the heavens.[6] As maternal deities, these goddesses served to nurture and protect the Egyptian people, both royal (as seen in the Pyramid Texts) and non-royal.

It was not until the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (c. 2055–1650 BCE) that Taweret became featured more prominently as a figure of religious devotion. Her image adorns apotropaic magic magical objects, the most notable of which being a common type of “wand” or “knife” carved from hippopotamus ivory that was likely used in rituals associated with birth and the protection of infants.

Similar images appear also on children’s feeding cups, once again demonstrating Taweret’s integral role as the patron goddess of child rearing. Quite contrarily, she also took on the role of a funerary deity in this period, evidenced by the commonplace practice of placing hippopotami decorated with marsh flora in tombs and temples.

Some scholars believe that this practice demonstrates that hippopotamus goddesses facilitated the process of rebirth after death, just as they aided in earthly births. These statues, then, assisted the deceased’s passing into the afterlife. Various myths demonstrate her role in facilitating the afterlives of the deceased as the nurturing and purifying “Mistress of Pure Water”.

Taweret was depicted as the combination of a crocodile, a hippo and a lion. However, unlike the composite demoness Ammit she had the paws of a lion, the back of a crocodile and the head and body of a pregnant hippo but with the addition of a woman’s hair.

However, Taweret and her fellow hippopotamus goddesses of fertility should not be confused with Ammit (“devourer” or “soul-eater”; also called Ammut or Ahemait), another composite hippopotamus goddess who gained prominence in the New Kingdom. Unlike Ammit, the other hippopotamus goddesses were responsible for nourishment and aid, not destruction.

Ammit was a demoness and goddess in ancient Egyptian religion with a body that was part lion, hippopotamus and crocodile—the three largest “man-eating” animals known to ancient Egyptians. A funerary deity, her titles included “Devourer of the Dead”, “Eater of Hearts”, and “Great of Death”. She was responsible for devouring the unjust before passing into the afterlife.

Ammit lived near the scales of justice in Duat, the Egyptian underworld. In the Hall of Two Truths, Anubis weighed the heart of a person against the feather of Ma’at, the goddess of truth, which was depicted as an ostrich feather (the feather was often pictured in Ma’at’s headdress).

If the heart was judged to be not pure, Ammit would devour it, and the person undergoing judgement was not allowed to continue their voyage towards Osiris and immortality. Once Ammit swallowed the heart, the soul was believed to become restless forever; this was called “to die a second time”.

Ammit was also sometimes said to stand by a lake of fire. In some traditions, the unworthy hearts were cast into the fiery lake to be destroyed. Some scholars believe Ammit and the lake represent the same concept of destruction. Ammit was not worshipped; instead she embodied all that the Egyptians feared, threatening to bind them to eternal restlessness if they did not follow the principle of Ma’at.

Egyptian mythology


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: