Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • 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
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/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.

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A (Anu, Taurus, Æsir), O (Omega, Odal rune) T (Dinger, Dyeus, Tyr)

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on December 22, 2018

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An – Eclipse

Enlil / Enki – North / South

Nergal (Mars) – Ninurta (Saturn) – Nanna (Moon) – Inanna (Venus)

Bull of Heaven – Taurus

In artistic representations, Ninurta is shown as a warrior, carrying a bow and arrow and clutching Sharur, his magic talking mace. He sometimes has a set of wings, raised upright, ready to attack. In Babylonian art, he is often shown standing on the back of or riding a beast with the body of a lion and the tail of a scorpion.

Ninurta remained closely associated with agricultural symbolism as late as the middle of the second millennium BC. On kudurrus from the Kassite Period (c. 1600 — c. 1155 BC), a plough is captioned as a symbol of Ninĝirsu. The plough also appears in Neo-Assyrian art, possibly as a symbol of Ninurta.

A perched bird is also used as a symbol of Ninurta during the Neo-Assyrian Period. One speculative hypothesis holds that the winged disc originally symbolized Ninurta during the ninth century BC, but was later transferred to Aššur and the sun-god Shamash. This idea is based on some early representations in which the god on the winged disc appears to have the tail of a bird. Most scholars have rejected this suggestion as unfounded.

Astronomers of the eighth and seventh centuries BC identified Ninurta (or Pabilsaĝ) with the constellation Sagittarius. Alternatively, others identified him with the star Sirius, which was known in Akkadian as šukūdu, meaning “arrow”. The constellation of Canis Major, of which Sirius is the most visible star, was known as qaštu, meaning “bow”, after the bow and arrow Ninurta was believed to carry. In Babylonian times, Ninurta was associated with the planet Saturn.

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. The term Alpha and Omega comes from the phrase “I am Alpha and Omega”, an appellation of Jesus in the Book of Revelation (verses 1:8, 21:6, and 22:13).

Taw, tav, or taf is the twenty-second and last letter of the Semitic abjads, the Western Semitic and Hebrew alphabets. The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek tau (Τ), Latin T, and Cyrillic Т. T is the 20th letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. “From aleph to taf” describes something from beginning to end, the Hebrew equivalent of the English “From A to Z.”

A

A (plural As, A’s, as, a’s or aes) is the first letter and the first vowel of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. It is similar to the Ancient Greek letter alpha, from which it derives.

The Etruscans brought the Greek alphabet to their civilization in the Italian Peninsula and left the letter unchanged. The Romans later adopted the Etruscan alphabet to write the Latin language, and the resulting letter was preserved in the Latin alphabet that would come to be used to write many languages, including English.

The earliest certain ancestor of “A” is aleph (also written ‘aleph), the first letter of the Phoenician alphabet, which consisted entirely of consonants (for that reason, it is also called an abjad to distinguish it from a true alphabet).

In turn, the ancestor of aleph may have been a pictogram of an ox head in proto-Sinaitic script influenced by Egyptian hieroglyphs, styled as a triangular head with two horns extended.

Anu

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”.

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”.

He 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.

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 “Heavenly power”.

Anu’s primary role in myths is as the ancestor of the Anunnaki, the major deities of Sumerian religion. 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.

Taurus / Alu

Taurus (Latin for “the Bull”) is one of the constellations of the zodiac, which means it is crossed by the plane of the ecliptic. Taurus is a large and prominent constellation in the northern hemisphere’s winter sky. Its importance to the agricultural calendar influenced various bull figures in the mythologies of Ancient Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

It is one of the oldest constellations, dating back to at least the Early Bronze Age when it marked the location of the Sun during the spring equinox. 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.

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 GU4.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”. As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”. The Akkadian name was Alu.

Alalu

Alalu is god in Hurrian mythology. He is considered to have housed the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth. The name “Alalu” was borrowed from Semitic mythology and is a compound word made up of the Semitic definite article al and the Semitic deity Alû.

Alalu was a primeval deity of the Hurrian mythology. After nine years of reign, Alalu was defeated by Anu. Alaluʻs son Kumarbi also defeated Anu, biting and swallowing his genitals, hence becoming pregnant of three gods, among which Teshub who eventually defeated him. Scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus.

Ansuz

Ansuz is the conventional name given to the a-rune of the Elder Futhark, ᚨ. The name is based on Proto-Germanic *ansuz, denoting a deity belonging to the principal pantheon in Germanic paganism. The shape of the rune is likely from Neo-Etruscan A, like Latin A ultimately from Phoenician aleph.

In the Norwegian rune poem, óss is given a meaning of “estuary” while in the Anglo-Saxon one, ōs ᚩ takes the Latin meaning of “mouth”. The Younger Futhark rune is transliterated as ą to distinguish it from the new ár rune (ᛅ), which continues the jēran rune after loss of prevocalic *j- in Proto-Norse *jár (Old Saxon jār).

Since the name of Gothic A is attested in the Gothic alphabet as ahsa or aza, the common Germanic name of the rune may thus either have been *ansuz “god”, or *ahsam “ear (of wheat)”. The Anglo-Saxon futhorc split the Elder Futhark a rune into three independent runes due to the development of the vowel system in Anglo-Frisian. These three runes are ōs ᚩ (transliterated o), ac “oak” ᚪ (transliterated a), and æsc ᚫ “ash” (transliterated æ).

The Younger Futhark corresponding to the Elder Futhark ansuz rune is ᚬ, called óss. It is transliterated as ą. This represented the phoneme /ɑ̃/, and sometimes /æ/ (also written ᛅ) and /o/ (also written ᚢ). The variant grapheme ᚯ became independent as representing the phoneme /ø/ during the 11th to 14th centuries.

Jera (also Jeran, Jeraz) is the conventional name of the j-rune ᛃ of the Elder Futhark, from a reconstructed Common Germanic stem *jēra- meaning “harvest, (good) year”. The corresponding letter of the Gothic alphabet is Gothic 𐌾, named jēr, also expressing /j/. The Elder Futhark rune gives rise to the Anglo-Frisian runes ᛄ /j/, named gēr /jeːr/, and ᛡ /io/, named ior, and to the Younger Futhark ár rune ᛅ, which stood for /a/ as the /j/ phoneme had disappeared in Old Norse.

It also can be a variation of dotted Isaz, the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the i-rune ᛁ, meaning “ice”, used for /e/; e.g. in Dalecarlian runes, or dalrunes, a late version of the runic script that was in use in the Swedish province of Dalarna until the 20th century. The province has consequently been called the “last stronghold of the Germanic script”.

The reconstructed Common Germanic name *jēran is the origin of English year (Old English ġēar). In contrast to the modern word, it had a meaning of “season” and specifically “harvest”, and hence “plenty, prosperity”.

The Germanic word is cognate with Greek horos “year” (and hora “season”, whence hour, Slavonic jarŭ “spring” and with the -or- in Latin hornus “of this year” (from *ho-jōrinus), as well as Avestan yāre “year”, all from a PIE stem *yer-o-.

The derivation of the rune is uncertain; some scholars see it as a modification of Latin G (“C (ᚲ) with stroke”) while others consider it a Germanic innovation. The letter in any case appears from the very earliest runic inscriptions, figuring on the Vimose comb inscription, harja.

As the only rune of the Elder Futhark which was not connected, its evolution was the most thorough transformation of all runes, and it was to have numerous graphical variants. In the later period of the Elder Futhark, during the 5th to 6th centuries, connected variants appear, and these are the ones that give rise to the derivations in Anglo-Saxon (as ᛄ ger and ᛡ ior) and Scandinavian (as ᛅ ár) traditions.

The corresponding Gothic letter is 𐌾 j, named jer, which is also based on the shape of the Elder Futhark rune. This is an exception, shared with urus, due to the fact that neither the Latin nor the Greek alphabets at the time of the introduction of the Gothic one had graphemes corresponding to the distinction of j and w from i and u.

The rune in the futhorc is continued as gēr, with its epigraphical variant ᛡ, and its manuscript variant ᛄ (which does appear once epigraphically, on the Brandon Pin). Manuscripts also record an ior rune with the shape of ᛡ, but its authenticity is questionable.

During the 7th and 8th centuries, the initial j in *jara was lost in Old Norse, which also changed the sound value of the rune from /j/ to an /a/ phoneme. The rune was then written as a vertical staff with a horizontal stroke in the centre, and scholars transliterate this form of the rune as A, with majuscule, to distinguish it from the ansuz rune, a.

During the last phase of the Elder Futhark, the jēra-rune came to be written as a vertical staff with two slanting strokes in the form of an X in its centre (H-rune.png). As the form of the rune had changed considerably, an older 7th century form of the rune (Long-branch Sol.png) was assumed by the s-rune.

When the n-rune had stabilized in its form during the 6th and 7th centuries, its vertical stroke slanted towards the right, which made it possible to simplify the jēra-rune by having only one vertical stroke that slanted towards the left, giving the ᛅ ár-rune of the Younger Futhark. Since a simpler form of the rune was available for the /a/ phoneme, the older cross form of the rune now came to be used for the /h/ phoneme.

The development of the Jēran rune from the earliest open form was not known before the discovery of the Kylver Stone in 1903, which has an entire elder futhark inscription on it. Therefore, the interpretation of the golden horns of Gallehus was slightly wrong before 1903, as it was believed this rune form could be an early form of the Ingwaz rune. The second word on the horns was thus interpreted as holtingaz rather than holtijaz.

*Naudiz (Cognates: German, Not (necessity, need); English, need) is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the n-rune ᚾ, meaning “need, distress”. In the Anglo-Saxon futhorc, it is continued as ᚾ nyd, in the Younger Futhark as ᚾ, Icelandic naud and Old Norse nauðr. The corresponding Gothic letter is 𐌽 n, named nauþs.

Alu

The sequence alu (ᚨᛚᚢ) is found in numerous Elder Futhark runic inscriptions of Germanic Iron Age Scandinavia (and more rarely in early Anglo-Saxon England) between the 3rd and the 8th century. The word usually appears either alone (such as on the Elgesem runestone) or as part of an apparent formula (such as on the Lindholm “amulet” (DR 261) from Scania, Sweden).

The symbols represent the runes Ansuz, Laguz, and Uruz. The origin and meaning of the word are matters of dispute, though a general agreement exists among scholars that the word represents an instance of historical runic magic or is a metaphor (or metonym) for it. It is the most common of the early runic charm words.

The word disappears from runic inscriptions shortly after Migration Period, even before the Christianization of Scandinavia. It may have lived on beyond this period with an increasing association with ale, appearing in stanzas 7 and 19 of the Old Norse poem Sigrdrífumál, compiled in the 13th century Poetic Edda, where knowledge of invocative “ale runes” (Old Norse ölrúnar) is imparted by the Valkyrie Sigrdrífa.

Although the literal meaning of the word alu is generally accepted to be “ale,” i.e. “intoxicating beverage,” researchers have found it necessary to look deeper into the significance of the term. Earlier proposed etymologies for the word sought a connection with Proto-Germanic *aluh “amulet, taboo” from *alh “protect.” Cognates in Germanic dialects would include Old English ealh “temple,” Gothic alhs “temple,” and Old Norse alh “amulet.”

Edgar Polomé initially proposed an etymological connection between Germanic alu and Hittite alwanza “affected by witchcraft,” which is in turn connected to Greek alúõ “to be beside oneself” and Latvian aluôt “to be distraught.” This etymology was later proven faulty and subsequently dropped by Polomé, though he continues to suggest that a common semantic denominator connects these words with alu.

Linguistic connections have been proposed between the term and the Proto-Germanic term *aluþ, meaning “ale,” and subsequently the word is sometimes translated as meaning “ale,” though this linguistic approach has been criticized as having “crucial difficulties.”

Polomé takes the word to belong to the “technical operative vocabulary” of the Germanic peoples, originally referring to “an ecstatic mental state as transferred to a potent drink” used in religious rituals in Germanic paganism.

Raetian North Etruscan dedicatory votive objects have been discovered featuring alu where the term means “dedication”. Connections have been proposed between these objects and the term alu found on runic inscriptions. Theories have been proposed that the term was loaned into Runic usage from this source.

The reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the Elder Futhark u rune ᚢ is *Ūruz meaning “wild ox” or *Ūrą “water”. It may have been derived from the Raetic alphabet character u as it is similar in both shape and sound value. The name of the corresponding letter in the Gothic alphabet is urus.

The Icelandic word for “rain” and the Old English for “aurochs” go back to two different Proto-Germanic words, *ūruz and *ūrą (although possibly from the same root. The Norwegian meaning “dross, slag” is more obscure, but may be an Iron Age technical term derived from the word for water (cf. the Kalevala, where iron is compared to milk).

Because of this, it is difficult to reconstruct a Proto-Germanic name for the Elder Futhark rune. It may have been *ūruz “aurochs”, or *ūrą “water”. The aurochs is preferred by authors of modern runic divination systems, but both seem possible, compared to the names of the other runes: “water” would be comparable to “hail” and “lake”, and “aurochs” to “horse” or “elk” (although the latter name is itself uncertain). The Gothic alphabet seems to support “aurochs”, though: as the name of the letter 𐌿 u is urus.

*Laguz or *Laukaz is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the l-rune ᛚ, *laguz meaning “water” or “lake” and *laukaz meaning “leek”. The rune Laguz (“lake”) is identical in shape to the letter l in the Raetic alphabet.

In the Anglo-Saxon rune poem, it is called lagu “ocean”. In the Younger Futhark, the rune is called lögr “waterfall” in Icelandic and logr “water” in Norse. The corresponding Gothic letter is 𐌻 l, named lagus.

Rhaetian

Rhaetian or Rhaetic was a language spoken in the ancient region of Rhaetia in the Eastern Alps in pre-Roman and Roman times. It is documented by a limited number of short inscriptions (found through Northern Italy, Southern Germany, Eastern Switzerland, Slovenia and Western Austria) in two variants of the Etruscan alphabet.

The ancient Rhaetic language is not the same as one of the modern Romance languages of the same Alpine region, known as Rhaeto-Romance, but both are sometimes referred to as “Rhaetian”. German linguist Helmut Rix proposed that Rhaetic, along with Etruscan, was a member of a proposed Tyrrhenian language family possibly influenced by neighboring Indo-European languages. Robert Beekes also does not consider it Indo-European.

Scullard, on the contrary, suggests it to be an Indo-European language, with links to Illyrian and Celtic. Nevertheless, most scholars now think that it is probably a Tyrrhenian language, and thus most closely related to languages such as Etruscan. Tyrsenian family, or Common Tyrrhenic, in this case is often considered to be Paleo-European and to predate the arrival of Indo-European languages in southern Europe.

Common features between Etruscan, Rhaetian, Lemnian have been found in morphology, phonology, and syntax. On the other hand, lexical correspondences are rarely documented, due to the scanty number of Rhaetian and Lemnian texts, and, above all, due to the very ancient date at which these languages split, because the split must have taken place before the Bronze Age, much earlier than was suggested by Rix.

It is clear that in the centuries leading up to Roman imperial times, the Rhaetians had at least come under Etruscan influence, as the Rhaetic inscriptions are written in what appears to be a northern variant of the Etruscan alphabet. The ancient Roman sources mention the Rhaetic people as being reputedly of Etruscan origin, so there may at least have been some ethnic Etruscans who had settled in the region by that time.

Æsir

In Old Norse, ǫ́ss (or áss, ás, plural æsir; feminine ásynja, plural ásynjur) is a member of the principal pantheon in Norse religion. This pantheon includes Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Týr. The second pantheon is known as the Vanir. In Norse mythology, the two pantheons wage war against each other, which results in a unified pantheon.

The cognate term in Old English is ōs (plural ēse) denoting a deity in Anglo-Saxon paganism. The Old High German is ans, plural ensî. The reconstructed Proto-Germanic form is *ansuz (plural *ansiwiz). The ansuz rune, ᚫ, was named after the Æsir.

The Gothic language had ans- (based only on Jordanes who glossed anses with uncertain meaning, possibly ‘demi-god’ and presumably a Latinized form of actual plural *anseis). Unlike the Old English word god (and Old Norse goð), the term ōs (áss) was never adopted into Christian use.

Æsir is the plural of áss, óss “god” (genitive case āsir), which is attested in other Germanic languages, e.g., Old English ōs (gen. pl. ēsa), Old Dutch ans and Gothic (as reported by Jordanes, who wrote in the 6th century CE) anses “half-gods”.

These all stem from Proto-Germanic *ansuz, which itself comes from Proto-Indo-European *h₂énsus (gen. h₂n̥sóus) “life force” (cf. Avestan aŋhū “lord; lifetime”, ahura “godhood”, Sanskrit ásu “life force”, ásura “demons” ( *h₂n̥suró). It is widely accepted that this word is further related to *h₂ens- “to engender” (cf. Hittite hass- “to procreate, give birth”, Tocharian B ās- “to produce”).

Old Norse áss has the genitive áss or ásar, the accusative æsi and ásu. In genitival compounds, it takes the form ása-, e.g. in Ása-Þórr (“Thor of the Æsir”), besides ás- found in ás-brú “gods’ bridge” (the rainbow), ás-garðr, ás-kunnigr “gods’ kin”, ás-liðar “gods’ leader”, ás-mogin “gods’ might” (especially of Thor), ás-móðr “divine wrath” etc. Landâs “national god” (patrium numen) is a title of Thor, as is allmáttki ás “almighty god”, while it is Odin who is “the” ás.

The feminine suffix -ynja is known from a few other nouns denoting female animals, such as apynja “female monkey”, vargynja “she-wolf”. The word for “goddess” is not attested outside Old Norse. The latinization of Danish Aslak as Ansleicus, the name of a Danish Viking converted to Christianity in 864 according to the Miracles de St. Riquier, indicates that the nasalization in the first syllable persisted into the 9th century.

The cognate Old English form to áss is ōs, preserved only as a prefix Ōs- in personal names (e.g. Oscar, Osborne, Oswald) and some place-names, and as the genitive plural ēsa (ēsa gescot and ylfa gescot, “the shots of anses and of elves”, i.e. “elfshot”, jaculum divorum et geniorum).

O

O (named o /oʊ/, plural oes) is the 15th letter and the fourth vowel in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its graphic form has remained fairly constant from Phoenician times until today.

The name of the Phoenician letter was ʿeyn, meaning “eye”, and indeed its shape originates simply as a drawing of a human eye (possibly inspired by the corresponding Egyptian hieroglyph, cf. Proto-Sinaitic script). Its original sound value was that of a consonant, probably [ʕ], the sound represented by the cognate Arabic letter ع ʿayn.

The use of this Phoenician letter for a vowel sound is due to the early Greek alphabets, which adopted the letter as O “omicron” to represent the vowel /o/. The letter was adopted with this value in the Old Italic alphabets, including the early Latin alphabet.

In Greek, a variation of the form later came to distinguish this long sound (Omega, meaning “large O”) from the short o (Omicron, meaning “small o”). Greek omicron gave rise to the corresponding Cyrillic letter O and the early Italic letter to runic ᛟ.

Eye of god

Helios is the god and personification of the Sun in Greek mythology. He is the son of the Titan Hyperion (“The High-One”), one of the twelve Titan children of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Sky) who, led by Cronus, overthrew their father Uranus and were themselves later overthrown by the Olympians, and the Titaness Theia (according to Hesiod), and brother of the goddesses Selene, the moon, and Eos, the dawn.

Helios was described as a handsome young man crowned with the shining aureole of the Sun, who drove the chariot of the sun across the sky each day to earth-circling Oceanus and through the world-ocean returned to the East at night.

In the Homeric Hymn to Helios, Helios is said to drive a golden chariot drawn by steeds; and Pindar speaks of Helios’s “fire-darting steeds”. Still later, the horses were given fire related names: Pyrois, Aeos, Aethon, and Phlegon. The equivalent of Helios in Roman mythology was Sol.

Helios is also sometimes conflated in classical literature with another Olympian god, Zeus. Helios is referred either directly as Zeus’ eye, or clearly implied to be. For instance, Hesiod effectively describes Zeus’s eye as the sun.

This perception is possibly derived from earlier Proto-Indo-European religion, in which the sun is believed to have been envisioned as the eye of Dyēus or Dyēus Phter believed to have been the chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. In Romanian paganism the Sun is similarly called “God’s eye”.

The Eye of Ra or Eye of Re is a being in ancient Egyptian mythology that functions as a feminine counterpart to the sun god Ra and a violent force that subdues his enemies. Ra’s enemies are the forces of chaos, which threaten maat, the cosmic order that he creates.

The Eye is an extension of Ra’s power, equated with the disk of the sun, but it also behaves as an independent entity, which can be personified by a wide variety of Egyptian goddesses, including Hathor, Sekhmet, Bastet, Wadjet, and Mut.

The Eye goddess acts as mother, sibling, consort, and daughter of the sun god. She is his partner in the creative cycle in which he begets the renewed form of himself that is born at dawn.

The Eye’s violent aspect defends Ra against the agents of disorder that threaten his rule. This dangerous aspect of the Eye goddess is often represented by a lioness or by the uraeus, or cobra, a symbol of protection and royal authority.

The Eye of Ra is similar to the Eye of Horus, also known as wadjet, wedjat or udjat, an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power, and good health which belongs to a different god, Horus, but represents many of the same concepts. The disastrous effects when the Eye goddess rampages out of control and the efforts of the gods to return her to a benign state are a prominent motif in Egyptian mythology.

The Eye of Ra was involved in many areas of ancient Egyptian religion, including in the cults of the many goddesses who are equated with it. Its life-giving power was celebrated in temple rituals, and its dangerous aspect was invoked in the protection of the pharaoh, of sacred places, and of ordinary people and their homes.

At times the Egyptians called the lunar eye the “Eye of Horus”, a concept with its own complex mythology and symbolism, and called the solar eye the “Eye of Ra” – Ra being the preeminent sun god in ancient Egyptian religion. However, in Egyptian belief, many terms and concepts are fluid, so the sun could also be called the “Eye of Horus”.

The yellow or red disk-like sun emblem in Egyptian art represents the Eye of Ra. Because of the great importance of the sun in Egyptian religion, this emblem is among the most common religious symbols in all of Egyptian art.

Although Egyptologists usually call this emblem the “sun disk”, its convex shape in Egyptian relief sculpture suggests that the Egyptians may have envisioned it as a sphere. The emblem often appears atop the heads of solar-associated deities, including Ra himself, to indicate their links with the sun. The disk could even be regarded as Ra’s physical form.

At other times, the sun god, in various forms, is depicted inside the disk shape as if enclosed within it. The Egyptians often described the sun’s movement across the sky as the movement of a barque carrying Ra and his entourage of other gods, and the sun disk can either be equated with this solar barque or depicted containing the barque inside it. The disk is often called Ra’s “daughter” in Egyptian texts.

As the sun, the Eye of Ra is a source of heat and light, and it is associated with fire and flames. It is also equated with the red light that appears before sunrise, and with the morning star that precedes and signals the sun’s arrival.

The eyes of Egyptian deities, although they are aspects of the power of the gods who own them, sometimes take active roles in mythology, possibly because the word for “eye” in Egyptian, jrt, resembles another word meaning “do” or “act”.

The presence of the feminine suffix -t in jrt may explain why these independent eyes were thought of as female. The Eye of Ra, in particular, is deeply involved in the sun god’s creative actions. In Egyptian mythology, the sun’s emergence from the horizon each morning is likened to Ra’s birth, an event that revitalizes him and the order of the cosmos. Ra emerges from the body of a goddess who represents the sky—usually Nut.

Depictions of the rising sun often show Ra as a child contained within the solar disk. In this context, the Egyptologist Lana Troy suggests, the disk may represent the womb from which he is born or the placenta that emerges with him.

The Eye of Ra can also take the form of a goddess, which according to Troy is both the mother who brings Ra forth from her womb and a sister who is born alongside him like a placenta. Ra was sometimes said to enter the body of the sky goddess at sunset, impregnating her and setting the stage for his rebirth at sunrise. Consequently, the Eye, as womb and mother of the child form of Ra, is also the consort of the adult Ra.

The adult Ra, likewise, is the father of the Eye who is born at sunrise. The Eye is thus a feminine counterpart to Ra’s masculine creative power, part of a broader Egyptian tendency to express creation and renewal through the metaphor of sexual reproduction. Ra gives rise to his daughter, the Eye, who in turn gives rise to him, her son, in a cycle of constant regeneration.

Ra is not unique in this relationship with the Eye. Other solar gods may interact in a similar way with the numerous goddesses associated with the Eye. Hathor can even be called “the Eye of Horus”—one of several ways in which the distinctions between the two eyes are blurred.

Hathor, a goddess of the sky, the sun, and fertility, is often called the Eye of Ra, and she also has a relationship with Horus, who also has solar connections, that is similar to the relationship between Ra and his Eye.

The Eye can also act as an extension of and companion to Atum, a creator god closely associated with Ra. Sometimes this eye is called the Eye of Atum, although at other times the Eye of Ra and the Eye of Atum are distinct, with Ra’s Eye the sun and Atum’s Eye the moon.

The tears of the Eye of Ra are part of a more general connection between the Eye and moisture. In addition to representing the morning star, the Eye can also be equated with the star Sothis (Sirius).

Every summer, at the start of the Egyptian year, Sothis’s heliacal rising, in which the star rose above the horizon just before the sun itself, heralded the start of the Nile inundation, which watered and fertilized Egypt’s farmland. Therefore, the Eye of Ra precedes and represents the floodwaters that restore fertility to all of Egypt.

The Eye of Ra also represents the destructive aspect of Ra’s power: the heat of the sun, which in Egypt can be so harsh that the Egyptians sometimes likened it to arrows shot by a god to destroy evildoers.

The uraeus is a logical symbol for this dangerous power. In art, the sun disk image often incorporates one or two uraei coiled around it. The solar uraeus represents the Eye as a dangerous force that encircles the sun god and guards against his enemies, spitting flames like venom.

Omega

Omega (capital: Ω, lowercase: ω; Greek ὦ, later ὦ μέγα, Modern Greek ωμέγα) 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”). As the last letter of the Greek alphabet, Omega is often used to denote the last, the end, or the ultimate limit of a set, in contrast to alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet.

Ninḫursaĝ, 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. The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, who is also at times depicted on a mountain, and may represent a stylized womb. The symbol appears on very early imagery from Ancient Egypt.

Odal rune

The Elder Futhark Odal rune (ᛟ), also known as the Othala rune, represents the o sound. Its reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *ōþalan “heritage; inheritance, inherited estate”. Its etymology is not clear, but it is usually compared to atta “father” (cf. the name Attila, ultimately baby talk for “father”).

The Common Germanic stem ōþala- or ōþila- “inherited estate” is an ablaut variant of the stem aþal-. It consists of a root aþ- and a suffix -ila- or -ala-. The suffix variant accounts for the umlauted form ēþel. Germanic aþal‑ had a meaning of (approximately) “nobility”, and the derivation aþala‑ could express “lineage, (noble) race, descent, kind”, and thus “nobleman, prince” (whence Old English atheling), but also “inheritance, inherited estate, property, possession”.

There is an apparent, but debated, etymological connection of Ol to Adel (Old High German adal or edil), meaning nobility, noble family line, or exclusive group of superior social status; aristocracy, typically associated with major land holdings and fortifications.

The term oþal (Old High German uodal) is a formative element in some Germanic names, notably Ulrich and variants;, the stem aþal is more frequent, found in Gothic names such as Athalaric, Ataulf, etc. and in Old High German names such as Adalbert, and Adel.

Unrelated, but difficult to separate etymologically, is the root aud- “wealth, property, possession, prosperity”; from this root are names such as Edmund and other English names with the ed prefix (from Old English ead), German Otto and various Germanic names beginning with ed- or od-. Possibly related is euþa, euþu a word for “child, offspring” (attested in Old Norse jóð, and possibly in the name of the Iuthungi).

Odal was associated with the concept of inheritance in ancient Scandinavian property law. Some of these laws are still in effect today, and govern Norwegian property. These are the Åsetesrett (homestead right), and the Odelsrett (allodial right). The tradition of Udal law found in Shetland and Orkney in Scotland, and also in Manx law on the Isle of Man, is from the same origin.

D / T

Taw, tav, or taf is the twenty-second and last letter of the Semitic abjads, the Western Semitic and Hebrew alphabets. The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Tαυ (Tau), Old Italic and Latin T, and Cyrillic Т. In Arabic, it is also gives rise to the derived letter ث Ṯāʼ. Its original sound value is /t/.

T is the 20th letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. 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”. 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.

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.

Dingir

The Sumerian sign DIĜIR originated as a star-shaped ideogram indicating a god in general, or the Sumerian god An, the supreme father of the gods. Dingir also meant sky or heaven in contrast with ki which meant earth. Its emesal pronunciation was dimer.

Dingir 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.

Taweret

In Ancient Egyptian religion, Taweret (also spelled Taurt, Tuat, Taouris, Tuart, Ta-weret, Tawaret, Twert, Thoeris and Taueret, and in Greek, Θουέρις – Thouéris and Toeris) is the protective ancient Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility. The name “Taweret” (Tȝ-wrt) means “she who is great” or simply “great one”, a common pacificatory address to dangerous deities.

The deity is typically depicted as a bipedal female hippopotamus with feline attributes, pendulous female human breasts, and the back of a Nile crocodile. 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 was regarded as the divine protector of women and children. Various myths demonstrate her role in facilitating the afterlives of the deceased as the nurturing and purifying “Mistress of Pure Water”.

However, Taweret and her fellow hippopotamus goddesses of fertility should not be confused with Ammit, another composite hippopotamus goddess who gained prominence in the New Kingdom. Ammit was responsible for devouring the unjust before passing into the afterlife. Unlike Ammit, the other hippopotamus goddesses were responsible for nourishment and aid, not destruction.

Taweret is featured in some versions of a popular and widespread myth in which the Eye of Ra becomes angry with her father and retreats to Nubia in the form of a lioness. Upon the Eye of Re’s eventual return to Egypt, she assumes the form of a hippopotamus (presumably Taweret) and consequently brings the flooding of the Nile. This myth demonstrates Taweret’s primary function as a goddess of fertility and rejuvenation.

Some scholars feel that her role in the Nile inundation is one of the reasons she was given the epithet “Mistress of Pure Water”. However, her similar role in the rejuvenation of the dead also cannot be overlooked with regards to this epithet – just as she provided life for the living through physical birth and the inundation, she also cleansed and purified the dead so they could pass safely into the afterlife.

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

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

Set or Seth (Egyptian: stẖ; also transliterated Setesh, Sutekh, Setekh, or Suty) is a god of chaos, the desert, storms, disorder, violence, and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion. Set had a positive role where he accompanies Ra on his solar boat to repel Apep, the serpent of Chaos.

Set was depicted standing on the prow of Ra’s barge defeating the dark serpent Apep. Set had a vital role as a reconciled combatant. In some Late Period representations, such as in the Persian Period Temple of Hibis at Khargah, Set was represented in this role with a falcon’s head, taking on the guise of Horus. 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.

Boötes is a constellation in the northern sky, located between 0° and +60° declination, and 13 and 16 hours of right ascension on the celestial sphere. The name comes from the Greek Boōtēs, meaning “herdsman” or “plowman” (literally, “ox-driver”; from bous “cow”). 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.

In ancient Babylon, the stars of Boötes were known as SHU.PA. They were apparently depicted as the god Enlil, later known as Elil, who was the leader of the Babylonian pantheon and special patron of farmers associated with wind, air, earth, and storms. Enlil was regarded as the inventor of the mattock and the patron of agriculture.

The Big Dipper (US) or the Plough (UK, Ireland) is a large asterism consisting of seven bright stars of the constellation Ursa Major; six of them are of second magnitude and one, Megrez (δ), of third magnitude. Four define a “bowl” or “body” and three define a “handle” or “head”. It is recognized as a distinct grouping in many cultures.

The North Star (Polaris), the current northern pole star and the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper (Little Bear), can be located by extending an imaginary line through the front two stars of the asterism, Merak (β) and Dubhe (α). This makes it useful in celestial navigation.

The constellation of Ursa Major (Latin: Greater Bear) has been seen as a bear, a wagon, or a ladle. The “bear” tradition is Greek, but apparently the name “bear” has parallels in Siberian or North American traditions. The name “Bear” is Homeric, and apparently native to Greece, while the “Wain” tradition is Mesopotamian.

Enlil

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.

The Mesopotamians envisioned Enlil as a creator, a father, a king, and the supreme lord of the universe. According to one Sumerian hymn, Enlil himself was so holy that not even the other gods could look upon him. The same hymn also states that, without Enlil, civilization could not exist.

He is also sometimes referred to in Sumerian texts as Nunamnir. His 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”. He is referred to in at least one text as the “East Wind and North Wind”.

Enlil plays a vital role in the Sumerian creation myth; he separates An (heaven) from Ki (earth), thus making the world habitable for humans. The Sumerians envisioned Enlil as a benevolent, fatherly deity, who watches over humanity and cares for their well-being.

In the Sumerian Flood myth, Enlil rewards Ziusudra with immortality for having survived the flood and, in the Babylonian flood myth, Enlil is the cause of the flood himself, having sent the flood to exterminate the human race, who made too much noise and prevented him from sleeping.

Enlil also features prominently in several myths involving his son Ninurta, including Anzû and the Tablet of Destinies and Lugale, also known as Ninurta’s Exploits. The title Lugal-e means “O king!” and comes from the poem opening phrase in the original Sumerian. Ninurta’s Exploits is a modern title assigned to it by scholars.

The story of Enlil’s courtship with Ninlil is primarily a genealogical myth invented to explain the origins of the moon-god Nanna, as well as the various gods of the Underworld, but it is also, to some a extent, a coming-of-age story describing Enlil and Ninlil’s emergence from adolescence into adulthood. The story also explains Ninlil’s role as Enlil’s consort; in the poem, Ninlil declares, “As Enlil is your master, so am I also your mistress!”

Enlil rose to prominence during the twenty-fourth century BC with the rise of Nippur. His cult fell into decline after Nippur was sacked by the Elamites in 1230 BC and he was eventually supplanted as the chief god of the Mesopotamian pantheon by the Babylonian national god Marduk. The Babylonian god Bel was a syncretic deity of Enlil, Marduk, and the dying god Dumuzid.

Enlil’s 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, meaning that it was seen as “a channel of communication between earth and heaven.

The fall of Ekur is described in the Lament for Ur composed around the time of the fall of Ur to the Elamites and the end of the city’s third dynasty (c. 2000 BC). It contains one of five known Mesopotamian “city laments” – dirges for ruined cities in the voice of the city’s tutelary goddess.

The Book of Lamentations of the Old Testament, which bewails the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon in the sixth century B.C., is similar in style and theme to these earlier Mesopotamian laments. Similar laments can be found in the Book of Jeremiah, the Book of Ezekiel and the Book of Psalms, Psalm 137 (Psalms 137:1-9).

Some scholars consider the Bull of Heaven to be the same figure as Gugalanna, the first husband of Ereshkigal, the queen of the Underworld, mentioned by Inanna in Inanna’s Descent into the Underworld. 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”.

Gugalanna probably originally meant “canal inspector of An”,and he may be merely an alternative name for Ennugi, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology is the attendant and throne-bearer of Enlil.

The myth of Enlil and Ninlil is about Enlil’s serial seduction of the goddess Ninlil in various guises, resulting in the conception of the moon-god Nanna, Ninurta and the Underworld deities Nergal, Ninazu, and Enbilulu, the god of rivers and canals in Mesopotamian mythology.

Ninazu in Sumerian mythology was a god of the underworld, and of healing. He was the son of Enlil and Ninlil or, in alternative traditions, of Ereshkigal and Gugalana, and was the father of Ningiszida, a Mesopotamian deity of vegetation and the underworld.

In the text Enki and Ninhursag, Ninazu was described as the consort of Ninsutu, one of the deities born to relieve the illness of Enki. Ninazu was the patron deity of the city of Eshnunna until he was superseded by Tispak. His sanctuaries were the E-sikul and E-kurma. Unlike his close relative Nergal, he was generally benevolent.

Bull of Heaven

In early Mesopotamian art, the Bull of Heaven, a mythical beast fought by the hero Gilgamesh, was closely associated with Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare.

One of the oldest depictions shows the bull standing before the goddess’ standard; since it has 3 stars depicted on its back (the cuneiform sign for “star-constellation”), there is good reason to regard this as the constellation later known as Taurus.

The same iconic representation of the Heavenly Bull was depicted in the Dendera zodiac, an Egyptian bas-relief carving in a ceiling that depicted the celestial hemisphere using a planisphere. In these ancient cultures, the orientation of the horns was portrayed as upward or backward. This differed from the later Greek depiction where the horns pointed forward.

The story of the Bull of Heaven has two different versions: one recorded in an earlier Sumerian poem and a later version in the standard Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh. In the Sumerian poem, the Bull is sent to attack Gilgamesh by the goddess Inanna for reasons that are unclear.

The more complete Akkadian account comes from Tablet VI of the Epic of Gilgamesh, in which Gilgamesh refuses the sexual advances of the goddess Ishtar, the East Semitic equivalent of Inanna, leading the enraged Ishtar to demand her father Anu for the Bull of Heaven, so that she may send it to attack Gilgamesh in Uruk.

Anu gives her the Bull and she sends it to attack Gilgamesh and his companion, the hero Enkidu, who slay the Bull together. After defeating the Bull, Enkidu tears off the bull’s hind part and hurls the quarters at Ishtar, taunting her. He hurls it into the sky where they become the stars we know as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. 

The slaying of the Bull 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. 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.

The Bull was identified with the constellation Taurus and the myth of its slaying may have held astronomical significance to the ancient Mesopotamians. Aspects of the story have been compared to later tales from the ancient Near East, including legends from Ugarit, the tale of Joseph in the Book of Genesis, and parts of the ancient Greek epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey.

In the Sumerian poem, Inanna does not seem to ask Gilgamesh to become her consort as she does in the later Akkadian epic. Furthermore, while she is coercing her father An to give her the Bull of Heaven, rather than threatening to raise the dead to eat the living as she does in the later epic, she merely threatens to let out a “cry” that will reach the earth.

In Tablet VI of the standard Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh, after Gilgamesh repudiates her sexual advances, Ishtar goes to Heaven, where she complains to her mother Antu and her father Anu. She demands that Anu give her the Bull of Heaven and threatens that, if he refuses, she will smash the gates of the Underworld and raise the dead to eat the living.

Anu at first objects to Ishtar’s demand, insisting that the Bull of Heaven is so destructive that its release would result in seven years of famine. Ishtar declares that she has stored up enough grain for all people and all animals for the next seven years. Eventually, Anu reluctantly agrees to give it to Ishtar, whereupon she unleashes it on the world, causing mass destruction.

The Bull’s first breath blows a hole in the ground that one hundred men fall into and its second breath creates another hole, trapping two hundred more. Gilgamesh and Enkidu work together to slay the Bull; Enkidu goes behind the Bull and pulls its tail while Gilgamesh thrusts his sword into the Bull’s neck, killing it.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu offer the Bull’s heart to the sun-god Shamash. While Gilgamesh and Enkidu are resting, Ishtar stands up on the walls of Uruk and curses Gilgamesh. Enkidu tears off the Bull’s right thigh and throws it in Ishtar’s face.

Ishtar calls together “the crimped courtesans, prostitutes and harlots” and orders them to mourn for the Bull of Heaven. Meanwhile, Gilgamesh holds a celebration over the Bull of Heaven’s defeat. Tablet VII begins with Enkidu recounting a dream in which he saw Anu, Ea, and Shamash declare that either Gilgamesh or Enkidu must die as punishment for having slain the Bull of Heaven.

They choose Enkidu, who soon grows sick, and dies after having a dream of the Underworld. Tablet VIII describes Gilgamesh’s inconsolable grief over his friend’s death and the details of Enkidu’s funeral. Enkidu’s death becomes the catalyst for Gilgamesh’s fear of his own death, which is the focus of the remaining portion of the epic.

Numerous depictions of the slaying of the Bull of Heaven occur in extant works of ancient Mesopotamian art. Representations are especially common on cylinder seals of the Akkadian Empire (c. 2334 – 2154 BC). These show that the Bull was clearly envisioned as a bull of abnormally large size and ferocity.

It is unclear exactly what the Bull of Heaven represents, however. Michael Rice speculates that the Bull may represent an earthquake, since bulls in general were widely associated with earthquakes in ancient cultures. He also posits that the Bull may represent summertime, which was a period of drought and infertility for people in ancient Mesopotamia.

Assyriologists Jeremy Black and Anthony Green observe that the Bull of Heaven is identified with the constellation Taurus and argue that the reason why Enkidu hurls the bull’s thigh at Ishtar in the Epic of Gilgamesh after defeating it may be an effort to explain why the constellation seems to be missing its hind quarters.

Rice also argues for an astronomical interpretation of the slaying of the Bull, noting that the constellation Canis Major was sometimes iconographically represented in ancient Egyptian texts as a bull’s thigh, though he notes that there is no evidence of this identification in Sumer. He also observes that thigh was often used in ancient Near Eastern texts as a substitute for the genitals.

Gordon and Rendsburg note that the notion of flinging a bull’s leg at someone “as a terrible insult” is attested across a wide geographic area of the ancient Near East and that it recurs in the Odyssey, an ancient Greek epic poem.

Cyrus H. Gordon and Gary A. Rendsburg note that the Near Eastern motif of seven years of famine following the death of a hero is attested in the Ugaritic myth of the death of Aqhat and that the theme of someone predicting seven years of famine in advance and storing up supplies is also found in the Hebrew story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis.

According to the German classical scholar Walter Burkert, the scene in which Ishtar comes before Anu to demand the Bull of Heaven after being rejected by Gilgamesh is directly paralleled by a scene from Book V of the Iliad.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ishtar complains to her mother Antu, but is mildly rebuked by Anu. In the scene from the Iliad, Aphrodite, the later Greek development of Ishtar, is wounded by the Greek hero Diomedes while trying to save her son Aeneas. She flees to Mount Olympus, where she cries to her mother Dione, is mocked by her sister Athena, and is mildly rebuked by her father Zeus.

Not only is the narrative parallel significant, but so is the fact that Dione’s name is a feminization of Zeus’s own, just as Antu is a feminine form of Anu. Dione does not appear throughout the rest of the Iliad, in which Zeus’s consort is instead the goddess Hera. Burkert therefore concludes that Dione is clearly a calque of Antu.

British classical scholar Graham Anderson notes that, in the Odyssey, Odysseus’s men kill the sacred cattle of Helios and are condemned to death by the gods for this reason, much like Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh. M. L. West states that the similarities run deeper than the mere fact that, in both cases, the creatures slain are bovines exempt from natural death.

In both cases, the person or persons condemned to die are companions of the hero, whose death or deaths force the hero to continue his journey alone. He also notes that, in both cases, the epic describes a discussion among the gods over whether or not the guilty party must die and that Helios’s threat to Zeus if he does not avenge the slaughter of his cattle in the Odyssey is very similar to Ishtar’s threat to Anu when she is demanding the Bull in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Bruce Louden compares Enkidu’s taunting of Ishtar immediately after slaying the Bull of Heaven to Odysseus’s taunt of the giant Polyphemus in Book IX of the Odyssey. In both cases, the hero’s own hubris after an apparent victory leads a deity to curse him.

Tyr

Týr is the namesake of the Tiwaz rune, a letter of the runic alphabet corresponding to the Latin letter T. The Old Norse theonym Týr has cognates including Old English tíw and tíʒ, and Old High German Ziu. 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”. The names Mannus and Tuisto/Tuisco seem to have some relation to Proto-Germanic Mannaz, “man” and Tiwaz, “Tyr, the god”.

Dyēus

Dyēus or Dyēus Phter (Proto-Indo-European: *dyḗws, also *Dyḗus Ph2tḗr or Dyēus Pətḗr, alternatively spelled dyēws) is believed to have been the chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. Part of a larger pantheon, he was the god of the daylit sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society.

According to this scholarly reconstruction, Dyeus was known as Dyḗus Ph2tḗr, literally “sky father” or “shining father”, as reflected in Latin Iūpiter, Diēspiter, possibly Dis Pater and deus pater, Greek Zeu Pater, Vedic Dyáuṣ Pitṛ́. Dīs Pater was a Roman god of the underworld. Dis was originally associated with fertile agricultural land and mineral wealth, and since those minerals came from underground, he was later equated with the chthonic deities Pluto (Hades) and Orcus.

Tiwas

Tiwaz (Stem: Tiwad-) was the Luwian Sun-god. He was among the most important gods of the Luwians. In Bronze Age texts, Tiwaz is often referred to as “Father”, and invoked along with the “Father gods”. His Bronze Age epithet, “Tiwaz of the Oath” indicates that he was an oath-god.

Tiwaz was the descendant of the male Sun god of the Indo-European religion, Dyeus. The name of the Proto-Anatolian Sun god can be reconstructed as *Diuod-, which derives from the Proto-Indo-European word *dei- (“shine”, “glow”). This name is cognate with the Greek Zeus, Latin Jupiter, and Norse Tyr.

While Tiwaz (and the related Palaic god Tiyaz) retained a promenant role in the pantheon, the Hittite cognate deity, Šiwat was largely eclipsed by the Sun goddess of Arinna, becoming a god of the day, especially the day of death.

Šivat (“day”) was a Hittite god who embodied the day. He was also written with the Sumerogram dUD “Deity day” or more frequently “Deity auspicious day”, the latter was obviously a euphemism for the day of death. Šivat or the “auspicious day” was invoked during burial rites together with the “soul of the deceased”, the ancestors (Hittite ḫuḫḫeš ḫanneš, ie “grandfathers grandmothers”).

The Luwians worshipped the old Proto-Indo-European Sun god Tiwaz while the Hittites worshipped the Sun goddess of Arinna, who became the chief goddess and wife of the weather god Tarḫunna in Hittite mythology.

The Sun goddess of Arinna and the weather god Tarḫunna formed a pair and together they occupied the highest position in the Hittite state’s pantheon. She protected the Hittite kingdom and was called the “Queen of all lands.” Her cult centre was the sacred city of Arinna.

In addition to the Sun goddess of Arinna, the Hittites also worshipped the Sun goddess of the Earth and the Sun god of Heaven. The Sun god of Heaven was a Hittite solar deity. He was the second-most worshipped solar deity of the Hittites, after the Sun goddess of Arinna. The Sun god of Heaven was identified with the Hurrian solar deity, Šimige.

From the time of Tudḫaliya III, the Sun god of Heaven was the protector of the Hittite king, indicated by a winged solar disc on the royal seals, and was the god of the kingdom par excellence.

From the time of Suppiluliuma I (and probably earlier), the Sun god of Heaven played an important role as the foremost oath god in interstate treaties. As a result of the influence of the Mesopotamian Sun god Šamaš, the Sun god of Heaven also gained an important role as the god of law, legality, and truth.

The Sun goddess of the Earth was the Hittite goddess of the underworld. Her Hurrian equivalent was Allani and her Sumerian/Akkadian equivalent was Ereshkigal, both of which had a marked influence on the Hittite goddess from an early date. In the Neo-Hittite period, the Hattian underworld god, Lelwani was also syncretised with her.

In Hittite texts she is referred to as the “Queen of the Underworld” and possesses a palace with a vizier and servants. The Sun goddess of the Earth, as a personification of the chthonic aspects of the Sun, had the task of opening the doors to the Underworld. She was also the source of all evil, impurity, and sickness on Earth. She is mostly attested in curses, oaths, and purification rituals.

In the Hittite and Hurrian religions the Sun goddess of the Earth played an important role in the death cult and was understood to be the ruler of the world of the dead. For the Luwians there is a Bronze Age source which refers to the “Sun god of the Earth: “If he is alive, may Tiwaz release him, if he is dead, may the Sun god of the Earth release him”.

Z

Z is the 26th and final letter of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. In most English-speaking countries the letter’s name is zed, reflecting its derivation from the Greek zeta. This dates to Latin, which borrowed X, Y, and Z from Greek, along with their names.

The German alphabet ends with z. However, some Latin based alphabets have extra letters on the end of the alphabet. The last letter for the Icelandic, Finnish and Swedish alphabets is Ö, while it is Å for Danish and Norwegian.

In the German alphabet, the umlauts (Ä/ä, Ö/ö, and Ü/ü) and the letter ß (Eszett or scharfes S) are regarded respectively as modifications of the vowels a/o/u and as a (standardized) variant spelling of ss, not as independent letters, so they come after the unmodified letters in the alphabetical order.

The Greek form of Z was a close copy of the Phoenician Zayin (Zayin), and the Greek inscriptional form remained in this shape throughout ancient times. The Greeks called it zeta, a new name made in imitation of eta (η) and theta (θ).

The Semitic symbol was the seventh letter, named zayin, the seventh letter of the Semitic abjads, which meant “weapon” or “sword”. It represented either the sound /z/ as in English and French, or possibly more like /dz/ (as in Italian zeta, zero).

In Biblical Hebrew, zayin means “sword”, and the verb lezayen means “to arm”. In Modern Hebrew slang, zayin means “penis” and lezayen is a vulgar term which generally means to perform sexual intercourse , although the older meaning survives in maavak mezuyan (“armed struggle”), kokhot mezuyanim (“armed forces”), and beton mezuyan (“armed, i.e., reinforced concrete”). The Proto-Sinaitic glyph may have been called ziqq, based on a hieroglyph depicting a “manacle”. The ‘Z’ shaped Zayin – an ancient boomerang used for hunting.

The letter z was part of the earliest form of the Latin alphabet, adopted from Etruscan. The Etruscan letter Z was derived from the Phoenician alphabet, most probably through the Greek alphabet used on the island of Ischia. In Etruscan, this letter may have represented /ts/.

In modern Italian, z represents /ts/ or /dz/, whereas the reflexes of ianuarius and hodie are written with the letter g (representing /dʒ/ when before i and e): gennaio, oggi. In other languages, such as Spanish, further evolution of the sound occurred.

Early English used S alone for both the unvoiced and the voiced sibilant. The Latin sound imported through French was new and was not written with Z but with G or I. The successive changes can be well seen in the double forms from the same original, jealous and zealous. Both of these come from a late Latin zelosus, derived from the imported Greek zêlos. The earlier form is jealous; its initial sound is the [dʒ], which developed to Modern French. John Wycliffe wrote the word as gelows or ielous.

Seven

Zayin (also spelled zain or zayn or simply zay) is the seventh letter of the Semitic abjads. The 7-dot glyph, (or globes) are first known in Mittanian art, but is possibly older. It appears in the iconography of cylinder seals, and later on reliefs, or other motifs. With origins on cylinder seals, its meanings may come from back to the 4th millennium BC, or even further into the 6th to 5th millennium with the origins of Turkey’s Catal Huyuk.

The 7-dot glyph was at first six dots surrounding a central dot; later two rows of 3-dots ended with a 7th as the finial. It is associated with fertility, the Moon, skills such as agriculture and sailing and wise men from the East.

‘The Seven’ is a name given to a group of beneficent gods whose power can be harnessed against evil demons by means of magical incantations. Seven also appears in ritual and magic contexts, often used as an auspicious number in magic.

For ‘7’ being the first prime number after ‘5’, (easily represented by the 5-fingered human hand, as the cuneiform for the “hand”), and later associated with the Seven Sisters, or sometimes the constellation Pleiades, it became iconographic. The Egyptian Gerzeh Palette, or “Hathor Palette”, “Cow-Head Palette” has topics containing 5-stars, a pair of horns, and a stylized “head”.

Algiz 

Algiz (also Elhaz) is the name conventionally given to the “z-rune” ᛉ of the Elder Futhark runic alphabet. Its transliteration is z, understood as a phoneme of the Proto-Germanic language, the terminal *z continuing Proto-Indo-European terminal *s.

Algiz is the rune of higher vibrations, the divine plan and higher spiritual awareness. The energy of Algiz is what makes something feel sacred as opposed to mundane. It represents the worlds of Asgard (gods of the Aesir), Ljusalfheim (The Light Elves) and Vanaheim (gods of the Vanir), all connecting and sharing energies with our world, Midgard.

It is a powerful rune, because it represents the divine might of the universe. The white elk was a symbol to the Norse of divine blessing and protection to those it graced with sight of itself. The symbol, reversed, might be used to access the realm of the dead, giants, and the unconscious.

Because this specific phoneme was lost at an early time, the Elder Futhark rune underwent changes in the medieval runic alphabets. In the Anglo-Saxon futhorc it retained its shape, but it was given the sound value of Latin x. This is a secondary development, possibly due to runic manuscript tradition, and there is no known instance of the rune being used in an Old English inscription.

In Proto-Norse and Old Norse, the Germanic *z phoneme developed into an R sound, perhaps realized as a retroflex approximant [ɻ], which is usually transcribed as ʀ. This sound was written in the Younger Futhark using the Yr rune ᛦ, the Algiz rune turned upside down, from about the 7th century.

This phoneme eventually became indistinguishable from the regular r sound in the later stages of Old Norse, at about the 11th or 12th century. The shape of the rune may be derived from that a letter expressing /x/ in certain Old Italic alphabets (𐌙), which was in turn derived from the Greek letter Ψ which had the value of /kʰ/ (rather than /ps/) in the Western Greek alphabet.

The Elder Futhark rune ᛉ is conventionally called Algiz or Elhaz, from the Common Germanic word for “elk”. There is wide agreement that this is most likely not the historical name of the rune. Since the name eolh, or more accurately eolh-secg “elk-sedge” in the Anglo-Saxon rune poem represents not the rune’s original sound value, but rather the sound of Latin x (/ks/), it becomes highly arbitrary to suggest that the original rune should have been named after the elk.

Like the ng-rune, the z-rune is a special case inasmuch as it could not have been named acrophonically, since the sound it represents did not occur in word-initial position. Choosing a name that terminates in -z would have been more or less arbitrary, as this was the nominative singular suffix of almost every masculine noun of the language.

However, in the absence of any positive evidence of what the historical name may have been, the conventional name is simply based on a reading of the rune name in the Anglo-Saxon rune poem, first suggested by Wilhelm Grimm (Über deutsche Runen, 1821), as eolh or eolug “elk”.

Alces alces is called a “moose” in North American English, but an “elk” in British English; its scientific name comes from its name in Latin. The word “elk” originated in Proto-Germanic, from which Old English evolved and has cognates in other Indo-European languages.

The Master of Animals or Lord of Animals is a motif in ancient art showing a human between and grasping two confronted animals. It is very widespread in the art of the Ancient Near East and Egypt. The figure is normally male, but not always, the animals may be realistic or fantastical, and the figure may have animal elements such as horns, or an animal upper body.

Potnia Theron, a phrase used by Homer meaning “Mistress of the Animals” is used for early Greek depictions of goddesses, usually Artemis, holding animals. The Greek god shown as “Master of Animals” is usually Apollo, the god of hunting. Shiva has the epithet Pashupati (“Lord of cattle”), and these figures may derive from a Proto-Indo-European deity or archetype. Chapter 39 of the Book of Job has been interpreted as an assertion of the God of the Hebrew Bible as Master of Animals.

There are a number of speculative suggestions surrounding the history of the rune’s name. The difficulty lies in the circumstance that the Younger Futhark rune did not inherit this name at all, but acquired the name of the obsolete Eihwaz or Eihaz (reconstructed *īhaz / *ēhaz or *īwaz / *ēwaz) rune, as yr.

Eiwaz was a Proto-Germanic word for “yew”, and the reconstructed name of the rune ᛇ. The rune survives in the Anglo-Saxon futhorc as ᛇ Ēoh “yew” (note that eoh “horse” has a short diphthong). It is commonly transliterated as ï or æ, or, in reconstructions of Proto-Germanic, ē2. Its phonetic value at the time of the invention of the Futhark (2nd century) was not necessarily a diphthong, but possibly a long vowel somewhere between [iː] and [eː] or [æː], continuing Proto-Indo-European language *ei.

Two variants of the word are reconstructed for Proto-Germanic, *īhaz (*ē2haz, PIE *eikos), continued in Old English as ēoh (also īh), and *īwaz (*ē2waz, Proto-Indo-European *eiwos), continued in Old English as īw (whence yew). The latter is possibly an early loan from the Celtic, compare Gaulish ivos, Breton ivin, Welsh ywen, Old Irish ēo. The common spelling of the rune’s name, “Eihwaz”, combines the two variants; strictly based on the Old English evidence, a spelling “Eihaz” would be more proper.

The rune is sometimes associated with the World tree Yggdrasil, which, imagined as an ash in Norse mythology, may formerly have been a yew or an oak. The Proto-Germanic for “oak” was *aiks (PIE *aigs, likely cognate to Greek krat-aigon) is continued the name of another futhorc rune, ᚪ ac, which has, however, no Elder Futhark predecessor.

The rune is not to be confused with the Sowilo rune, the reconstructed Proto-Germanic language name of the s-rune, meaning “sun”, which has a somewhat similar shape, or with Ehwaz, the rune expressing short e or ē1.

*Sowilō or *sæwelō is attested for the same rune in all three Rune Poems. It appears as Old Norse sól, Old English sigel, and Gothic sugil. The Phoenician letter šin from which the Old Italic s letter ancestral to the rune was derived was itself named after the Sun, shamash, based on the Egyptian uraeus hieroglyph.

The Germanic words for “Sun” have the peculiarity of alternating between -l- and -n- stems, Proto-Germanic *sunnon (Old English sunne, Old Norse, Old Saxon and Old High German sunna) vs. *sôwilô or *saewelô (Old Norse sól, Gothic sauil, also Old High German forms such as suhil).

This continues a Proto-Indo-European alternation *suwen- vs. *sewol- (Avestan xweng vs. Latin sōl, Greek helios, Sanskrit surya, Welsh haul, Breton heol, Old Irish suil “eye”), a remnant of an archaic, so-called “heteroclitic”, declension pattern that remained productive only in the Anatolian languages.

*Ehwaz is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the Elder Futhark e rune ᛖ, meaning “horse” (cognate to Latin equus, Gaulish epos, Tocharian B yakwe, Sanskrit aśva, Avestan aspa and Old Irish ech). In the Anglo-Saxon futhorc, it is continued as ᛖ eh (properly eoh, but spelled without the diphthong to avoid confusion with ᛇ ēoh “yew”).

The Proto-Germanic vowel system was asymmetric and unstable. The difference between the long vowels expressed by ᛖ e and ᛇ ï (sometimes transcribed as *ē1 and *ē2) were lost. The Younger Futhark continues neither, lacking a letter expressing e altogether. The Anglo-Saxon futhorc faithfully preserved all Elder futhorc staves, but assigned new sound values to the redundant ones, futhorc ēoh expressing a diphthong.

In the case of the Gothic alphabet, where the names of the runes were re-applied to letters derived from the Greek alphabet, the letter 𐌴 e was named aíƕus “horse” as well (note that in Gothic orthography, <aí> represents monophthongic /e/). In the Younger Futhark, there is the terminal -R rune ᛦ Yr “yew”, but neither its shape nor its sound is related to the Eihwaz rune: it is, rather, a continuation of Algiz.

The only independent evidence of the Elder Futhark Algiz rune’s name would be the name of the corresponding Gothic letter, ezec. The Gothic letter was an adoption of Greek Zeta, and while it did express the /z/ phoneme, this Gothic sound did not occur terminally, but in positions where West and North Germanic have r, e.g. Gothic máiza “greater” (Old Norse meira, English more).

The name of the Anglo-Saxon rune ᛉ is variously recorded as eolx, eolhx, ilcs, ilx, iolx, ilix, elux. Manuscript tradition gives its sound value as Latin x, i.e. /ks/, or alternatively as il, or yet again as “l and x”. The reading of this opaque name as eolh “elk” is entirely due to the reading of the Anglo-Saxon rune poem’s ᛉ secg as eolh-secg (eolx-secg, eolug-secg, eolxecg) “elk-sedge”, apparently the name of a species of sedge (carex).

This reading of the poem is due to Wilhelm Grimm (1821), and remains standard. The suggestion is that this compound is realized as eolk-secg, thus containing the Latin x (/ks/) sound sequence. The manuscript testimony that the rune is to be read as il would then be simply a mistaken assumption that its name must be acrophonic.

The name of the corresponding Gothic letter ezec, however, suggests that the old name of this rune was not just eolx, but the full eolh-secg. This is puzzling, because the sound value of the rune was clearly not /ks/ in the Elder Futhark period (2nd to 4th centuries). Furthermore, the name of the sedge in question is recorded in the older Epinal-Erfurt glossary as ilugsegg (glossing papiluus, probably for papyrus), which cannot be derived from the word for elk.

A suggestion by Warren and Elliott takes the Old English eolh at face value, and reconstructs a Common Germanic form of either *algiz or *alhiz. They cite a “more fanciful school” which assumes an original meaning of “elk” based on a theonym Alcis recorded by Tacitus (suggesting that the name would have been theophoric in origin, referring to an “elk-god”).

The authors dismiss the Old English “elk-sedge” as a late attempt to give the then-obsolete rune a value of Latin x. Instead, they suggest that the original name of the rune could have been Common Germanic *algiz (‘Algie’), meaning not “elk” but “protection, defence”.

Redbond (1936) suggested that the eolhx (etc.) may have been a corruption of helix. Seebold (1991) took this up to suggest that the name of the rune may be connected to the use of elux for helix by Notker to describe the constellation of Ursa major (as turning around the celestial pole).

An earlier suggestion is that of Zacher (1855), to the effect that the earliest value of this rune was the labiovelar /hw/, and that its name may have been hweol “wheel”. Independently, the shape of the Elder Futhark Algiz rune reappears in the Younger Futhark Maðr rune ᛘ, continuing the Elder Futhark ᛗ rune *Mannaz.

ŠU

The Sumerian cuneiform šu sign is a common, multi-use syllabic and alphabetic sign for šu, š, and u; it has a subsidiary usage for syllabic qat; it also has a majuscule-(capital letter) sumerogram usage for ŠU, for Akkadian language “qātu”, the word for “hand”. The human hand is the shape of cuneiform character šu, and thus the origin of its creation (late 4th millennium BC, or early 3rd millennium BC).

The scribal usage of a sign allows for any of the 4 vowels (no vowel ‘o’ in Akkadian), a, e, i, u to be interchangeable; thus a usage for syllabic qat could conceivably be used for the following (k can replace ‘q’, and d can replace ‘t’): q, a, or t; also ka, qa, ad, at. (The “š” (shibilant s) is also interchangeable with the other two esses, “s”, and “ṣ”, for “šu”!). The šu sign has a common usage in the Amarna letters and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Its usage numbers in the Epic are as follows: qat-(16), šu-(420), ŠU-(13).

September

September (from Latin septem, “seven”) was originally the seventh of ten months on the oldest known Roman calendar, with March (Latin Martius) the first month of the year until perhaps as late as 153 BC. After the calendar reform that added January and February to the beginning of the year, September became the ninth month, but retained its name.

The September equinox (or Southward equinox) is the moment when the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading southward. Due to differences between the calendar year and the tropical year, the September equinox can occur at any time from the 21st to the 24th day of September.

March is the third month of the year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. In the Northern Hemisphere, the meteorological beginning of spring occurs on the first day of March. The name of March comes from Martius, the first month of the earliest Roman calendar. It was named after Mars, the Roman god of war, and an ancestor of the Roman people through his sons Romulus and Remus.

September equinox 

The March equinox on the 20th or 21st marks the astronomical beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, where September is the seasonal equivalent of the Northern Hemisphere’s March.

At the equinox, at the equator, the Sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west. Before the Southward equinox, the Sun rises and sets more to the north, and afterwards, it rises and sets more to the south.

The equinox may be taken to mark the end of summer and the beginning of autumn (autumnal equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere, while marking the end of winter and the start of spring (vernal equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.

The point where the Sun crosses the celestial equator southwards is called the first point of Libra. However, due to the precession of the equinoxes, this point is no longer in the constellation Libra, but rather in Virgo. The September equinox passed from Libra into Virgo in year −729, will pass into Leo in year 2439.

The September equinox marked the first day of the French Republican Calendar. The Southward equinox was “New Year’s Day” in the French Republican Calendar, which was in use from 1793 to 1805. The start of every year was to be determined by astronomical calculations following the real Sun and not the mean Sun.

The French First Republic was proclaimed and the French monarchy was abolished on September 21, 1792, making the following day (the equinox day that year) the first day of the “Republican Era” in France.

A harvest festival is an annual celebration that occurs around the time of the main harvest of a given region. The traditional harvest festival in the United Kingdom was celebrated on the Sunday of the full moon closest to the September equinox.

Mithra

The Southward equinox marks the first day of Mehr or Libra in the Iranian calendar. It is one of the Iranian festivals called Jashne Mihragan, or the festival of sharing or love in Zoroastrianism. It is a Zoroastrian and Persian festival celebrated to honor the yazata Mithra (Persian: Mehr‎), which is responsible for friendship, affection and love.

Mithra is the Zoroastrian angelic divinity (yazata) of Covenant, Light, and Oath. In addition to being the Divinity of Contracts, Mithra is also a judicial figure, an all-seeing Protector of Truth, and the Guardian of Cattle, the Harvest, and of the Waters.

The Romans attributed their Mithraic mysteries (the mystery religion known as Mithraism) to “Persian” (i.e. Zoroastrian) sources relating to Mithra. Since the early 1970s, the dominant scholarship has noted dissimilarities between the Persian and Roman traditions, making it, at most, the result of Roman perceptions of (Pseudo-)Zoroastrian ideas.

The first extant record of Indic Mitra, in the form mi-it-ra-, is in the inscribed peace treaty of c. 1400 BC between Hittites and the Hurrian kingdom of the Mitanni in the area southeast of Lake Van in Asia Minor. Mitra appears there together with four other Indic divinities as witnesses and keepers of the pact.

The Seven Hathors

The number “7” has frequently been written about in old texts, history books, papyrus or seen visually on, hieroglyphics and countless temple walls.  It is clear there was a significance to the number 7 for the Ancient Egyptians.

In ancient Egypt, the idea of ‘7’ was associated with a person’s birth. 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 representatives, 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. 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. Hathor 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.

Once Hathor was firmly established in the Old Kingdom, she rose rapidly to prominence. She supplanted an early crocodile god who was worshipped at Dendera in Upper Egypt to become Dendera’s patron deity, and she increasingly absorbed the cult of Bat in the neighboring region of Hu, so that in the Middle Kingdom (c. 2055–1650 BC) the two deities fused into one.

The theology surrounding the pharaoh in the Old Kingdom, unlike that of earlier times, focused heavily on the sun god Ra as king of the gods and father and patron of the earthly king. Hathor ascended along with Ra, as she became his mythological wife and the divine mother of the pharaoh.

Hathor was given the epithets “mistress of the sky” and “mistress of the stars”, and she was said to dwell in the sky with Ra and other gods who personified the sun. Egyptians thought of the sky as a body of water through which the sun god sailed, and they connected it with the waters from which, according to their creation myths, the sun emerged at the beginning of time.

This cosmic mother goddess was often represented as a cow. Hathor and Mehet-Weret were both thought of as the cow who gave birth to the sun god and placed him between her horns. Like another celestial goddess, Nut, Hathor was also said to give birth to the sun god each dawn.

Hathor’s name, ḥwt-ḥrw or ḥwt-ḥr, may allude to this aspect of her character. The name is typically translated “house of Horus”, referring to the falcon god Horus who, among other things, represented the sky or the sun, although it can also be rendered as “my house is the sky”. The “house” may be the sky in which Horus lives or the goddess’s womb, from which he, as a sun god, is born each day.

Hathor was known in seven forms that played a role both with the deceased as among newborns. They are represented sometimes as seven cows sometimes as seven young women wearing the solar disk and cow horns, playing the tambourine and sistrum.

At birth, the Seven Hathors determined the fates in an individual’s life. They also foretold the future generally and were consequently connected with the Nile inundation and the abundance of the grain harvest. Goddesses of love, they were hoped to further love interests, when invoked by charms.

The Seven Hathors were goddesses often present at birth. Like Meskhenet, another goddess who presided over birth, Hathor was connected with shai, the Egyptian concept of fate, particularly when she took the form of the Seven Hathors. In two New Kingdom works of fiction, “The Tale of Two Brothers” and “The Tale of the Doomed Prince”, the Hathors appear at the births of major characters and foretell the manner of their deaths.

Hathor was one of several interrelated goddesses who were believed to assist deceased souls in the afterlife. One of these deities was Imentet (Ament, Amentent or Imentit, meaning “She of the West”), who personified the necropolises, or clusters of tombs, on the west bank of the Nile, as well as the realm of the afterlife itself. When in the role of Imentet, Hathor wore the emblem of the west upon her head instead of the horned headdress. She was often regarded as a specialized manifestation of Hathor.

Bull of the West

The Seven Hathors were sometimes portrayed as a set of seven cows, accompanied by a minor sky and afterlife deity called the Bull of the West. The Sky Bull was a mythical creature or deity associated with the heavens and with the afterlife and thus also called the “Bull of the West.”  The bull was said to be the husband of 7 cows, which usually accompany him.”

Syncretism among Greek gods was a common practice, and there was already precedent for combining the Egyptian gods into one. Apis, the bull, was regard as the incarnation of Osiris, and Osiris was sometimes called “the bull of the west.” Indeed, the practice of combining the two names occured before Ptolemy: “Osirapis” was worshipped in Memphis and perhaps already in Alexandria.

Originally Apis was considered a manifestation of Ptah, the creator God of Memphis, Who brings the world into being through sacred words of power. He was called the “Ba (Soul) of Ptah” and “Herald of Ptah” and “the renewal of the life” of Ptah. Ramses III called Him the “August Son of Ptah” and the “Beautiful Soul” of Ptah. He was also called described as “high of horns, beautiful of names, far-seer and wide-ranger1.”

Eventually Osiris absorbed the functions of Ptah, creating a joint form of Ptah-Seker-Osiris, and so the Apis become to be associated instead with Osiris. After being syncreticzed with Osiris, the Apis took on jobs associated with the lord of the dead.

The bull gained the title “The Living Deceased One”, and if a person was under His protection, it was believed that the soul of the dead gained control over the winds of the afterlife. The deceased Apis was also believed to carry the soul of dead to the Field of Reeds, one of the choice domains of the afterlife, which is what is depicted in this picture here

When the Apis died, he was mummified and entombed with great honors in the necropolis at Saqqara known as the Serapeum. In the Underworld he was identified with Osiris, just as the Pharaoh was. Osar-Apis was what the sacred Apis bull was called after His death. Eventually all the dead came to be identified with Osiris, rather than just the Pharaoh. One of the most common titles of Osiris was “Bull of the West” (the Western Lands is the land of the dead in Egyptian belief).

Serapis was a combination of the traditional Egyptian gods Osiris and Apis, sprinkled with the attributes of the Hellenistic gods Zeus, Helios, Dionysus, Hades and Asklepius. Serapis was thus a supreme god of divine majesty and the sun (Zeus and Helios), fertility (Dionysos) the underworld and afterlife (Hades, Apis and Osiris) and healing (Asklepius). However, his connection to the afterlife and fertility were always primary.

The Seven Sisters

Astrologically they were identified with the star-group Pleiades, who has been known as the “seven sisters”, a name that has been used for the Pleiades in the languages of many cultures, including indigenous groups of Australia, North America and Siberia. This suggests that the name may have a common ancient origin.

The Pleiades is a part of the constellation Taurus and were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC.  They are sometimes named together with another group, who may be the Hyades who from the perspective of observers on Earth appears in the constellation Taurus, where its brightest stars form a “V” shape along with the still brighter Aldebaran.

However, Aldebaran is unrelated to the Hyades, as it is located much closer to Earth and merely happens to lie along the same line of sight. Its name derives from al-dabarān, Arabic for “the follower”, probably from the fact that it follows the Pleiades during the nightly motion of the celestial sphere across the sky.

Forming the profile of a Bull’s face is a V or K-shaped asterism of stars. In this profile, Aldebaran forms the bull’s bloodshot eye, which has been described as “glaring menacingly at the hunter Orion”, a constellation that lies just to the southwest.

The five brightest member stars of the Hyades have consumed the hydrogen fuel at their cores and are now evolving into giant stars. Four of these stars, with Bayer designations Gamma, Delta 1, Epsilon, and Theta Tauri, form an asterism that is traditionally identified as the head of Taurus the Bull.

The fifth of these stars is Theta1 Tauri, a tight naked-eye companion to the brighter Theta2 Tauri. Epsilon Tauri, known as Ain (the “Bull’s Eye”), has a gas giant exoplanet candidate, the first planet to be found in any open cluster.

Sebittu

Originally the 7-dots probably related to the Sumerian Sebittu, a group of seven minor war gods in Babylonian and Akkadian tradition. The Sebittu are the children of the god Anu and follow the god Erra into battle. They are in different traditions of good and evil influence.

They are the seven sons of Enmesarra, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology 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, Esmessara has been described as an ancestor of Enlil, and it has been claimed that Enlil slew him. Nergal seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only representative of a certain phase of the sun.

Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle. He has also been called “the king of sunset”.

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

The Sebittu may be identical with the seven children of Ishara, an ancient deity of unknown origin from northern modern Syria. Her astrological embodiment is the constellation Scorpio and she is called the mother of the Sebitti (the Seven Stars).

She first appeared in Ebla and was incorporated to the Hurrian pantheon from which she found her way to the Hittite pantheon. In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar. Ishara is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath. She was associated with the underworld.

Variants of the name appear as Ašḫara (in a treaty of Naram-Sin of Akkad with Hita of Elam) and Ušḫara (in Ugarite texts). In Ebla, there were various logographic spellings involving the sign AMA “mother”. In Alalah, her name was written with the Akkadogram IŠTAR plus a phonetic complement -ra, as IŠTAR-ra.

The Sumerian goddess Sherida, consort of Utu, is one of the oldest Mesopotamian gods. Attested in inscriptions from pre-Sargonic times her name as Aya (also called A-a or Aja) was a popular personal name during the Ur III period (21st-20th century BCE), making her among the oldest Semitic deities known in the region.

As the Sumerian pantheon formalized, Utu became the primary sun god, and Sherida was syncretized into a subordinate role as an aspect of the sun alongside other less powerful solar deities (c.f. Ninurta) and took on the role of Utu’s consort.

When the Semitic Akkadians moved into Mesopotamia, their pantheon became syncretized to the Sumerian. Inanna to Ishtar, Nanna to Sin, Utu to Shamash, etc. The minor Mesopotamian sun goddess Aya became syncretized into Sherida during this process.

The goddess Aya in this aspect appears to have had wide currency among Semitic peoples, as she is mentioned in god-lists in Ugarit and shows up in personal names in the Bible (Gen 36:24, 2 Sam 3:7, 1 Chr 7:28). In Akkadian mythology was a mother goddess, consort of the sun god Shamash.

Aya is Akkadian for “dawn”, and by the Akkadian period she was firmly associated with the rising sun and with sexual love and youth. The Babylonians sometimes referred to her as kallatu (the bride), and as such she was known as the wife of Shamash.

In fact, she was worshiped as part of a separate-but-attached cult in Shamash’s e-babbar temples in Larsa and Sippar. By the Neo-Babylonian period at the latest (and possibly much earlier), Shamash and Aya were associated with a practice known as Hasadu, which is loosely translated as a “sacred marriage.”

Apkallu

The earliest Mesopotamian reference to seven divine persons is in cuneiform traditions, also known as the Seven Sages or apkallu. These record that Ea (Sumerian=Enki), god of fresh water and wisdom, sent seven divine sages in the form of fis-men from Apsu to teach the arts and crafts (Sumerian=Me) to mankind before the flood.

Narudu

Later gods included Seven (gods), the Seven, possibly referencing the Elamite god Narudu. ‘The Seven’ operate together with their sister Narudu, probably in origin the Elamite goddess Narunte, and so may themselves be of Elamite origin. Nahhunte is the Elamite god of the sun and justice.

Narunte, Siyâšum and Niarzina are the three sisters of the Elamite goddess Kiririsha, the ‘Lady of Liyan,’ who was worshiped principally in the south of Elam. Kiririsha, strictly translated, means “the great goddess,” in the Elamite language, and she was sometimes just known as “‘the Great’ or ‘the divine mother’.”

Along with Khumban and In-shushinak, an Elamite god was originally the patron god of the city of Susa, but later became a major underworld deity, she formed the supreme triad of the Elamite pantheon.

Pinikir, another mother goddess who later became known as Kiririsha, was worshipped in the same regard as Kiririsha, but in the north of Elam. However, as the centre of the kingdom gradually shifted southward, she became less important, and gave place to the ‘lady of Liyan’, Kiririsha.

 
 

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