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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East and west

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on December 29, 2018

The Sun, the Moon, the planets, and the stars all rise in the east and set in the west. And that’s because Earth spins — toward the east. However, this is a generalization. Actually, the Sun only rises due east and sets due west on 2 days of the year — the spring and fall equinoxes! On other days, the Sun rises either north or south of “due east” and sets north or south of “due west.”

Each day the rising and setting points change slightly. At the summer solstice, the Sun rises as far to the northeast as it ever does, and sets as far to the northwest. Every day after that, the Sun rises a tiny bit further south. At the fall equinox, the Sun rises due east and sets due west. It continues on it’s journey southward until, at the winter solstice, the Sun rises are far to the south as it ever does, and sets as far to the southwest.

Many, if not most, prehistoric cultures tracked these rising and settings points with great detail. If they had jagged mountains along the horizon, the exact points could be readily remembered. Without a suitably interesting horizon, standing stones could be arranged to line up with the various rising and setting points. Or, tree poles could replace the standing stones. Or, rock cairns could be used.

The rising points of the stars don’t change as much as the Sun’s because they are so very far away. So the rising points of stars on the horizon were not as critical to ancient cultures. However, the rising times of stars change by 4 minutes each day, so any particular star would rise at different times during the year.

For about half the time, the star would rise during the daytime and thus be blocked by the huge light of our Sun. There was something called the “heliacal” or dawn rise of a star — and this happened on only one day of the year. Thus these dawn rising were extremely useful for keeping track of exact days.

Ra / Horus / Osiris

Nergal: Ra / Horus / Osiris – Apollo / Mars / Pluto

Horus is one of the most significant ancient Egyptian deities. He was worshipped from at least the late prehistoric Egypt until the Ptolemaic Kingdom and Roman Egypt. Horus served many functions, most notably being a god of kingship and the sky. He was most often depicted as a falcon, most likely a lanner falcon or peregrine falcon, or as a man with a falcon head.

Different forms of Horus are recorded in history and these are treated as distinct gods by Egyptologists. These various forms may possibly be different manifestations of the same multi-layered deity in which certain attributes or syncretic relationships are emphasized, not necessarily in opposition but complementary to one another, consistent with how the Ancient Egyptians viewed the multiple facets of reality.

The earliest recorded form of Horus is the tutelary deity of Nekhen in Upper Egypt, who is the first known national god. Nekheny may have been another falcon god worshipped at Nekhen, city of the falcon, with whom Horus was identified from early on.

Horus is specifically related to the ruling pharaoh who in time came to be regarded as a manifestation of Horus in life and Osiris in death. He plays a key role in the Osiris myth as Osiris’s heir and the rival to Set, the murderer of Osiris. The notion of Horus as the pharaoh seems, however, to have been superseded by the concept of the pharaoh as the son of Ra during the Fifth Dynasty.

In early Egypt, Horus was the brother of Isis, Osiris, Set, and Nephthys. As different cults formed, he became the son of Isis and Osiris. Isis remained the sister of Osiris, Set, and Nephthys. However, the most commonly encountered family relationship describes Horus as the son of Isis and Osiris. In another tradition Hathor is regarded as his mother and sometimes as his wife.

The planet Mars is named after the Roman god of war Mars. In Babylonian astronomy, the planet was named after Nergal, their deity of fire, war, and destruction, most likely due to the planet’s reddish appearance. The planet was known by the ancient Egyptians as “Horus of the Horizon”, then later Her Deshur (“Ḥr Dšr”), or “Horus the Red”.

Ra (Ancient Egyptian: rꜥ or rˤ; also transliterated rˤw; cuneiform: ri-a or ri-ia) or Re is the ancient Egyptian deity of the sun. To the Egyptians, the sun represented light, warmth, and growth. This made the sun deity very important, as the sun was seen as the ruler of all that he created. The sun disk was either seen as the body or eye of Ra.

Ra was the father of Shu and Tefnut, whom he created by his own power. Shu was the god of the wind, and Tefnut was the goddess of the rain. Sekhmet was the Eye of Ra and was created by the fire in Ra’s eye. She was a violent lioness sent to slaughter the people who betrayed Ra, but she was later turned into the more peaceful goddess Hathor.

By the Fifth Dynasty in the 25th and 24th centuries BC, he had become one of the most important gods in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the noon sun. When Ra was in the underworld, he merged with Osiris, the god of the dead, and through it became the god of the dead as well.

The cult of the Mnevis bull, an embodiment of Ra, had its center in Heliopolis and there was a formal burial ground for the sacrificed bulls north of the city. All forms of life were believed to have been created by Ra, who called each of them into existence by speaking their secret names.

Alternatively man was created from Ra’s tears and sweat, hence the Egyptians call themselves the “Cattle of Ra”. In the myth of the Celestial Cow it is recounted how mankind plotted against Ra and how he sent his eye as the goddess Sekhmet to punish them. When she became bloodthirsty Ra pacified her by giving her beer mixed with red dye, which she drank in mistake for blood.

In later Egyptian dynastic times, Ra was merged with the major god Horus into Ra-Horakhty (“Ra, who is Horus of the Two Horizons”). He was believed to rule in all parts of the created world: the sky, the Earth, and the underworld.

He was synonymous with the falcon, and he was commonly depicted with the head of a falcon. These images can be told apart from images of Horus due to having a sun disk on its head instead of Horus’s usual Pschent headdress, the double crown worn by rulers in ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians generally referred to it as sekhemty (sḫm.ty), the Two Powerful Ones. It combined the Red Deshret Crown of Lower Egypt and the White Hedjet Crown of Upper Egypt.

The Pschent represented the pharaoh’s power over all of unified Egypt. It bore two animal emblems: an Egyptian cobra, known as the uraeus, ready to strike, which symbolized the Lower Egyptian goddess Wadjet; and an Egyptian vulture representing the Upper Egyptian tutelary goddess Nekhbet. These were fastened to the front of the Pschent and referred to as the Two Ladies. Later, the vulture head sometimes was replaced by a second cobra.

In the New Kingdom, when the god Amun rose to prominence he was fused with Ra into Amun-Ra. During the Amarna Period, Akhenaten suppressed the cult of Ra in favor of another solar deity, the Aten, the deified solar disc, but after the death of Akhenaten the cult of Ra was restored.

The Egyptian concept of the soul

The ancient Egyptians believed that a soul (kꜣ/bꜣ; Egypt. pron. ka/ba) was made up of many parts. In addition to these components of the soul, there was the human body (called the ḥꜥ, occasionally a plural ḥꜥw, meaning approximately “sum of bodily parts”).

According to ancient Egyptian creation myths, the god Atum created the world out of chaos, utilizing his own magic (ḥkꜣ). Because the earth was created with magic, Egyptians believed that the world was imbued with magic and so was every living thing upon it.

When humans were created, that magic took the form of the soul, an eternal force which resided in and with every human being. The concept of the soul and the parts which encompass it has varied from the Old Kingdom to the New Kingdom, at times changing from one dynasty to another, from five parts to more.

Most ancient Egyptian funerary texts reference numerous parts of the soul: the ẖt (physical body), the sꜥḥ (spiritual body), the rn (/ɾin/, Coptic ⲣⲁⲛ or ⲗⲉⲛ) “name, identity”, the bꜣ “personality”, the kꜣ (/kuʀ/) “double”, the jb (/jib/, Coptic ⲉⲡ) “heart”, the šwt “shadow”, the sḫm “power, form”, and the ꜣḫ (the combined spirits of a dead person that has successfully completed its transition to the afterlife).

The four sons of Horus

Imsety – human form – direction South – protected the liver – protected by Isis

Duamutef – jackal form – direction East – protected the stomach – protected by Neith

Hapi – baboon form – direction North – protected the lungs – protected by Nephthys

Qebehsenuef – hawk form – direction West – protected the intestines – protected by his mother Serket

Four sons of Horus

Ancient Egyptian concept of the soul

Canopic jar

The four sons of Horus were a group of four gods in Egyptian religion, who were essentially the personifications of the four canopic jars, which accompanied mummified bodies. Since the heart was thought to embody the soul, it was left inside the body.

The brain was thought only to be the origin of mucus, so it was reduced to liquid, removed with metal hooks, and discarded. This left the stomach (and small intestines), liver, large intestines, and lungs, which were removed, embalmed and stored, each organ in its own jar.

There were times when embalmers deviated from this scheme: during the 21st Dynasty they embalmed and wrapped the viscera and returned them to the body, while the Canopic jars remained empty symbols.

The earliest reference to the sons of Horus the Elder is found in the Pyramid Texts where they are described as friends of the king, as they assist the king in his ascension to heaven in the eastern sky by means of ladders.

Their association with Horus the Elder specifically goes back to the Old Kingdom when they were said not only to be his children but also his souls. As the king, or Pharaoh was seen as a manifestation of, or especially protected by, Horus, these parts of the deceased pharaoh, referred to as the Osiris, were seen as parts of Horus, or rather, his children, an association that did not diminish with each successive pharaoh.

Since Horus was their father, so Isis, Horus’s original wife in the early mythological phase, was usually seen as their mother, although Hathor was also believed to be their mother, though in the details of the funerary ritual each son, and therefore each canopic jar, was protected by a particular goddess.

Others say their mother was Serket, goddess of medicine and magic. Just as the sons of Horus protected the contents of a canopic jar, the king’s organs, so they in turn were protected. As they were male in accordance with the principles of male/female duality their protectors were female.

The classic depiction of the four sons of Horus on Middle Kingdom coffins show Imsety and Duamutef on the eastern side of the coffin and Hapi and Qebehsenuef on the western side. The eastern side is decorated with a pair of eyes and the mummy was turned on its side to face the east and the rising sun; therefore, this side is sometimes referred to as the front.

The sons of Horus also became associated with the cardinal compass points, so that Hapi was the north, Imsety the south, Duamutef the east and Qebehsenuef the west. Their brother was Ihy, son of Hathor. Until the end of the 18th Dynasty the canopic jars had the head of the king, but later they were shown with animal heads. Inscriptions on coffins and sarcophagi from earliest times showed them usually in animal form.

Qebehsenuef (west)

Qebehsenuef (“He who refreshes his brothers”) is an ancient Egyptian deity. He is one of the four sons of Horus in Egyptian mythology, the god of protection and of the West. Together with Maa-atef-f, Kheri-beq-f, and Horus-Khenti-maa, the four sons of Horus (the other three were Imset, Hapi and Duamutef) were known as the Seven Shining Ones, protectors of the body of Osiris.

In the preparation of mummies, his canopic jar was used for the intestines. He is seen as a mummy with a falcon head. He was said to be protected by the goddess Serket. The intestine was used in sacrificed animals, by soothsayers, to predict the future, whereas the intestines were also the victims of poison. With death by poison, the canopic jar deity is protected by Serket who bears the emblem of the scorpion.

Duamutef (east)

Duamutef, who presided over the east, had the form of a jackal, was in ancient Egyptian religion one of the Four Sons of Horus and a protection god of the canopic jars. Commonly he is said to be the son of the god Horus the Elder. He was usually depicted on coffins and as the lid of canopic jars.

Another myth describes Duamutef and his brothers as sons of Osiris. According to this account, they were born from a lily flower which arose from the primaeval ocean. Many images of the Judgement of the Dead show him together with his brothers in front of Osiris on a small lily flower.

The name Duamutef means “He who adores his mother”. In war, the most frequent cause of death was from injuries in the torso and stomach. The deity protecting this organ was associated with death by war and gained the name Duamutef, meaning “adoring his motherland”. Alongside with Horus’ three other sons Imsety, Hapi and Qebehsenuef, Duamutef protected the mummified internal organs. His goal was to protect the stomach.

Duamutef was originally represented as a man wrapped in mummy bandages. From the New Kingdom onwards, he is shown with the head of a jackal. In some cases his appearance is confused or exchanged with that of Qebehsenuef so he has the head of a falcon and Duamutef has the head of a jackal.

His protector is the goddess Neith (Ancient Egyptian: nt, likely originally nrt “she is the terrifying one”; also spelled Nit, Net, or Neit), an early ancient Egyptian deity who was said to be the first and the prime creator. Neith was said to be the creator of the universe and all it contains and she governs how it functions. As a deity, Neith is normally shown carrying the was scepter (symbol of rule and power) and the ankh (symbol of life).

She is also called such cosmic epithets as the “Cow of Heaven”, a sky-goddess similar to Nut, and as the Great Flood, Mehet-Weret (MHt wr.t), as a cow who gives birth to the sun daily. In these forms, she is associated with creation of both the primeval time and daily “re-creation”.

As protectress of the Royal House, she is represented as a uraeus, and functions with the fiery fury of the sun, In time, this led to her being considered as the personification of the primordial waters of creation. She is identified as a great mother goddess in this role as a creator. She is the personification of the primeval waters, able to give birth (create) parthenogenetically (without the opposite gender).

Among the pairs of deities usually noted by the later ancient Egyptians, she is paired with Ptah-Nun. In the same manner, her personification as the primeval waters is Mehetweret (MHt wr.t), the Great Flood, conceptualized as streaming water, related to another use of the verb sti, meaning ‘to pour’.

Imentet – Queen of the West

Her companion goddess Imentet, the goddess 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. She was often regarded as a specialized manifestation of Hathor.

Imentet is represented by the “Emblem of the West”. The symbol for the “West”/”right” was considered ‘good’, and thus the East symbol sometimes symbolized the opposite of good, evil. However, as the sun rises in the East, the solar cult often used the symbol.

Although she was never officially worshipped, she was mentioned in various hymns and passages of the Book of the Dead. As goddess of the deceased, she lived in a tree looking out at the entrance to the Duat (Underworld).

Her main job, other than being a minor fertility goddess, was to offer food and drink to the newly dead, which would restore their spirits enough to travel to the “field of reeds” which was essentially paradise in Ancient Egyptian religion.

She was so closely linked with Hathor and Isis in their afterlife roles that she may be less an independent deity than an alternate form of those two goddesses. Though she might have been considered the daughter of Hathor and Horus.

She was usually depicted as a queen in robes wearing the hieroglyph for “west” on her head and a sceptre and an Ankh in her hands. She often appears in tombs welcoming the deceased into the afterlife, sometimes with wings, and sometimes as a Kite because of her connection to Isis and Nephthys.

Her title “She of the West” is not just a statement related to geography, but also related as her role in mythology because, as the sun sets towards the west, it was to be accompanied by death, which was where Imentet usually reigned.

Additionally, amenti (or amentet) was thought to be where the sun set, and where the entrance to the Underworld was located, although later the term began to associate itself with graveyards and tombs as well.

The Egyptian hieroglyph Emblem of the West represents the goddess Imentet, personification of the afterlife. It is composed of a hawk or ostrich feather. The lower part of the hieroglyph contains the vertical form of the “folded cloth”. As an ideogram, the hieroglyph represents imnt “west” or wnmy “right”.

The alternate version of the symbol contains the complete figure of the hawk, for Horus, with the feather extending sideways, making it similar to the iat standard, surmounted by individual gods.

Aqen

Imentet was the consort of Aqen, a god who guided Ra through parts of the underworld. He was also described as the “mouth of the time”, from which the gods and demons pulled the “rope of time”, as described in the tomb of king Seti I.

Aqen was a rarely mentioned Ancient Egyptian deity of the underworld. He is first mentioned in the famous Book of the Dead from Middle Kingdom period. There, he guided the sun god Ra as the “protector of Ra’s celestial bark” by “bringing the shenw-ring to his majesty”.

The shen ring

In ancient Egypt a shen ring was a circle with a line tangent to it, represented in hieroglyphs as a stylised loop of a rope. The word shen itself means, in ancient Egyptian, encircle, while the shen ring represented eternal protection.

The shen ring is most often seen carried by the falcon god Horus, but was also carried by the vulture goddess Nekhbet, the patron of the city of Nekheb (her name meaning of Nekheb), and ultimately, the patron of Upper Egypt and one of the two patron deities for all of Ancient Egypt when it was unified.

In Ancient Egyptian texts, the “Two Ladies” (Egyptian: Nebty) was a religious euphemism for the goddesses Wadjet and Nekhbet, two deities who were patrons of the Ancient Egyptians and worshiped by all after the unification of its two parts, Lower Egypt, and Upper Egypt.

When the two parts of Egypt were joined together, there was no merger of these deities as often occurred with similar deities from various regions and cities. Both goddesses were retained because of the importance of their roles and they became known as the Two Ladies, who were the protectors of unified Egypt.

The Uraeus (plural Uraei or Uraeuses; from the Greek ouraîos, “on its tail”; from Egyptian jʿr.t (iaret), “rearing cobra”) is the stylized, upright form of an Egyptian cobra (asp, serpent, or snake), used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity and divine authority in ancient Egypt.

The Uraeus is a symbol for the goddess Wadjet. She was one of the earliest Egyptian deities and was often depicted as a cobra, as she is the serpent goddess. The center of her cult was in Per-Wadjet, later called Buto by the Greeks. She became the patroness of the Nile Delta and the protector of all of Lower Egypt.

The pharaohs wore the uraeus as a head ornament: either with the body of Wadjet atop the head, or as a crown encircling the head; this indicated Wadjet’s protection and reinforced the pharaoh’s claim over the land.

In whatever manner that the Uraeus was displayed upon the pharaoh’s head, it was, in effect, part of the pharaoh’s crown. The pharaoh was recognized only by wearing the Uraeus, which conveyed legitimacy to the ruler.

There is evidence for this tradition even in the Old Kingdom during the third millennium BCE. Several goddesses associated with or being considered aspects of Wadjet are depicted wearing the uraeus as well.

At the time of the unification of Egypt, the image of Nekhbet, the goddess who was represented as a white vulture and held the same position as the patron of Upper Egypt, joined the image of Wadjet on the Uraeus that would encircle the crown of the pharaohs who ruled the unified Egypt.

The importance of their separate cults kept them from becoming merged as with so many Egyptian deities. Together, they were known as the nebty or The Two Ladies, who became the joint protectors and patrons of the unified Egypt.

Later, the pharaohs were seen as a manifestation of the sun god Ra, and so it also was believed that the Uraeus protected them by spitting fire on their enemies from the fiery eye of the goddess. In some mythological works, the eyes of Ra are said to be uraei.

Wadjets existed long before the rise of this cult when they originated as the eye of Wadjet as a cobra. Wadjets are also the name of the symbols called the Eye of the Moon, Eye of Hathor, the Eye of Horus, and the Eye of Ra—depending upon the dates of the references to the symbols.

As the Uraeus was seen as a royal symbol, the deities Horus and Set were also depicted wearing the symbol on their crowns. In early ancient Egyptian mythology, Horus would have been the name given to any king as part of the many titles taken, being identified as the son of the goddess Isis.

According to the later mythology of Re, the first Uraeus was said to have been created by the goddess Isis, who formed it from the dust of the earth and the spittle of the then-current sun deity. In this version of the mythology, the Uraeus was the instrument with which Isis gained the throne of Egypt for Osiris, the god of the afterlife, the underworld, and rebirth in ancient Egyptian religion. Isis is associated with and may be considered an aspect of Wadjet.

Hathor

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. The goddess Hathor gives and takes life. In this context, she is related with growing of the crops as a Mother Goddess.

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.

As Queen of the West, she helps the journey of dead people, fulfills the needs of the newly departed and protects Theban Necropolis. The Anatolian Mother Goddess Cybele, who rules life and death is similar to this Queen of the West.

In Egyptian belief, the disorder that predates the ordered world exists beyond the world as an infinite expanse of formless water, personified by the god Nun. The earth, personified by the god Geb, is a flat piece of land over which arches the sky, usually represented by the goddess Nut. The two are separated by the personification of air, Shu.

The sun god Ra is said to travel through the sky, across the body of Nut, enlivening the world with his light. At night Ra passes beyond the western horizon into the Duat, a mysterious region that borders the formlessness of Nun. At dawn he emerges from the Duat in the eastern horizon.

The nature of the sky and the location of the Duat are uncertain. Egyptian texts variously describe the nighttime sun as traveling beneath the earth and within the body of Nut. The Egyptologist James P. Allen believes that these explanations of the sun’s movements are dissimilar but coexisting ideas. In Allen’s view, Nut represents the visible surface of the waters of Nun, with the stars floating on this surface.

The sun, therefore, sails across the water in a circle, each night passing beyond the horizon to reach the skies that arch beneath the inverted land of the Duat. Leonard H. Lesko, however, believes that the Egyptians saw the sky as a solid canopy and described the sun as traveling through the Duat above the surface of the sky, from west to east, during the night.

Joanne Conman, modifying Lesko’s model, argues that this solid sky is a moving, concave dome overarching a deeply convex earth. The sun and the stars move along with this dome, and their passage below the horizon is simply their movement over areas of the earth that the Egyptians could not see. These regions would then be the Duat.

The fertile lands of the Nile Valley (Upper Egypt) and Delta (Lower Egypt) lie at the center of the world in Egyptian cosmology. Outside them are the infertile deserts, which are associated with the chaos that lies beyond the world. Somewhere beyond them is the horizon, the akhet. There, two mountains, in the east and the west, mark the places where the sun enters and exits the Duat.

Foreign nations are associated with the hostile deserts in Egyptian ideology. Foreign people, likewise, are generally lumped in with the “nine bows”, people who threaten pharaonic rule and the stability of maat, although peoples allied with or subject to Egypt may be viewed more positively.

For these reasons, events in Egyptian mythology rarely take place in foreign lands. While some stories pertain to the sky or the Duat, Egypt itself is usually the scene for the actions of the gods. Often, even the myths set in Egypt seem to take place on a plane of existence separate from that inhabited by living humans, although in other stories, humans and gods interact. In either case, the Egyptian gods are deeply tied to their home land.

Isis

(Sherida, Ishara, Ishtar, Inanna, Inara etc) 

Isis is part of the Ennead of Heliopolis, a family of nine gods descended from the creator god, Atum or Ra. She and her siblings—Osiris, Set, and Nephthys—are the last generation of the Ennead, born to Geb, god of the earth, and Nut, goddess of the sky.

The creator god, the world’s original ruler, passes down his authority through the male generations of the Ennead, so that Osiris becomes king. Isis, who is Osiris’s wife as well as his sister, is his queen.

Isis was a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. Isis was first mentioned in the Old Kingdom (c. 2686–2181 BCE) as one of the main characters of the Osiris myth, in which she resurrects her slain husband, the divine king Osiris, and produces and protects his heir, Horus.

She was believed to help the dead enter the afterlife as she had helped Osiris, and she was considered the divine mother of the pharaoh, who was likened to Horus. Her maternal aid was invoked in healing spells to benefit ordinary people.

Originally, she played a limited role in royal rituals and temple rites, although she was more prominent in funerary practices and magical texts. She was usually portrayed in art as a human woman wearing a throne-like hieroglyph on her head.

During the New Kingdom (c. 1550–1070 BCE), as she took on traits that originally belonged to Hathor, the preeminent goddess of earlier times, Isis came to be portrayed wearing Hathor’s headdress: a sun disk between the horns of a cow.

In the first millennium BCE, Osiris and Isis became the most widely worshipped of Egyptian deities, and Isis absorbed traits from many other goddesses. Isis is treated as the mother of Horus even in the earliest copies of the Pyramid Texts. Yet there are signs that Hathor was originally regarded as his mother, and other traditions make an elder form of Horus the son of Nut and a sibling of Isis and Osiris.

Isis may only have come to be Horus’s mother as the Osiris myth took shape during the Old Kingdom, but through her relationship with him she came to be seen as the epitome of maternal devotion. She helped to restore the souls of deceased humans to wholeness as she had done for Osiris.

Like other goddesses, such as Hathor, she also acted as a mother to the deceased, providing protection and nourishment. Thus, like Hathor, she sometimes took the form of Imentet, the goddess of the west, who welcomed the deceased soul into the afterlife as her child. But for much of Egyptian history, male deities like Osiris were believed to provide the regenerative powers, including sexual potency, that were crucial for rebirth. Isis was thought to merely assist by stimulating this power.

Venus

One of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is the personification of dawn as a beautiful young woman. Her name is reconstructed as Hausōs (PIE *h₂ewsṓs- or *h₂ausōs-, an s-stem), besides numerous epithets.

Derivatives of her found throughout various Indo-European mythologies include the Greek goddess Eos, the Roman goddess Aurōra, the Vedic goddess Uṣás, the Lithuanian goddess Aušrinė (cf. Lith. aušrà “dawn”), and possibly also the (West) Germanic goddess *Austrǭ (Old English Ēostre, Old High German *Ōstara).

The name *h₂ewsṓs is derived from a root *h₂wes / *au̯es “to shine”, thus translating to “the shining one”. Both the English word east and the Latin auster “south” are from a root cognate adjective *aws-t(e)ro-. Also cognate is aurum “gold”, from *awso-.

The name for “spring season”, *wes-r- is also from the same root. The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European new year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus).

Her attributes have not only been mixed with those of solar goddesses in some later traditions, but have subsequently expanded and influenced female deities in other mythologies. Due to the dawn heralding the sun and inducing the daily routine, the Dawn Goddess is associated with instilling the cosmic order.

Ushas is the arouser of Ṛta, while the role of Aušrinė as the maid of the sun renders her a moral example in Lithuanian traditions and helped her syncretism with the Virgin Mary.

Aker

Aker or Ruty (“Pair of Lions”) was an Ancient Egyptian earth and death deity. He is the deified horizon, guardian of the eastern and western horizons of the afterlife. In several inscriptions, wall paintings and reliefs, Aker was connected to the horizon of the North and the West, forming a mythological bridge between the two horizons with his body. He protected the sun barge of Ra as it entered and left the underworld at dusk and dawn.

Aker was first depicted as the torso of a recumbent lion with a widely opened mouth. Later, he was depicted as two recumbent lion torsos merged with each other and still looking away from each other. The twin lion gods represented the eastern and western horizons. They were originally associated with Shu and Tefnut as sky deities and eventually became linked with Ra and the solar barge.

At Nekhen the oldest tomb with painted decoration on its plaster walls, Tomb 100, has been discovered. The sepulchre is thought to date to the Gerzeh culture (ca. 3500-3200 BC). The decoration shows presumed religious scenes and images that include figures featured in Egyptian culture for three thousand years.

It is a funerary procession of barques, presumably a goddess standing between two upright lionesses, a wheel of various horned quadrupeds, several examples of a staff that became associated with the deity of the earliest cattle culture and one being held up by a heavy-breasted goddess. Animals depicted include onagers or zebras, ibexes, ostriches, lionesses, impalas, gazelles, and cattle.

Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubileya/Kubeleya Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”; Lydian Kuvava; Greek: Kybele) is an Anatolian mother goddess; she may have a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük in Anatolia, where statues of plump women, sometimes sitting, have been found in excavations dated to the 6th millennium BC and identified by some as a mother goddess. She is Phrygia’s only known goddess, and was probably its state deity.

Her association with hawks, lions, and the stone of the mountainous landscape of the Anatolian wilderness, seem to characterize her as mother of the land in its untrammeled natural state, with power to rule, moderate or soften its latent ferocity, and to control its potential threats to a settled, civilized life. In Greece, as in Phrygia, she was a “Mistress of animals” (Potnia Therōn), with her mastery of the natural world expressed by the lions that flank her, sit in her lap or draw her chariot.

Iabet – Queen of the East

Iabet (Iabtet, Iab, Abet, Abtet, Ab) was the goddess of the Eastern Desert and, in time, came to personify them, of fertility and rebirth. She was a personification of the land of the east – iabt – and was known as Khentet-Iabet (Khentet-abet), ‘Before the East’.

She was the counterpart of Imentet (“She of the West”). The Egyptian hieroglyph Emblem of the East is a portrayal of a standard, surmounted by the “Symbol of the East”. It represents the Goddess Iabet. She was eventually absorbed into Isis.

She was known as “Cleanser of Ra” who bathed the sun before it appeared in the dawn sky and personified the freshness of the morning sun, and was linked to the rising of the sun in the east. In the Amduat, Iabet is depicted as a woman with her arms by her sides, under the name of Iab. Along with eleven other goddesses, including Isis and her grandmother Tefnut, the group was known as “Those who give praises to Ra as he passes over Wernes”.

Her main husband is the fertility god Min, who was represented in many different forms, but most often represented in male human form, shown with an erect penis which he holds in his left hand and an upheld right arm holding a flail (referring to his authority, or rather that of the Pharaohs). As Khem or Min, he was the god of reproduction; as Khnum, he was the creator of all things, “the maker of gods and men”.

As the central deity of fertility and possibly orgiastic rites Min became identified by the Greeks with the god Pan. One feature of Min worship was the wild prickly lettuce Lactuca virosa and Lactuca serriola of which is the domestic version Lactuca sativa (lettuce) which has aphrodisiac and opiate qualities and produce latex when cut, possibly identified with semen.

Min’s cult began and was centered around Coptos (Koptos) and Akhmim (Panopolis) of upper Egypt, where in his honour great festivals were held celebrating his “coming forth” with a public procession and presentation of offerings. His other associations include the eastern desert and links to the god Horus. His importance grew in the Middle Kingdom when he became even more closely linked with Horus as the deity Min-Horus.

The archangels – The four cardinal points

Uriel, Cardinal Angel of the Northern Corner, Elemental Angel of Earth

Gabriel, Cardinal Angel of the Western Corner, Elemental Angel of Water

Raphael. Cardinal Angel of the Eastern Corner, Elemental Angel of Air

Michael: Cardinal Angel of the Southern Corner, Elemental Angel of Fire

An archangel is an angel of high rank. The word “archangel” itself is usually associated with the Abrahamic religions, but beings that are very similar to archangels are found in a number of religious traditions.

The angels mentioned in the older books of the Hebrew Bible (aka the Tanakh) are without names. Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish of Tiberias (230–270) even asserted that all of the specific names for the angels were brought back by the Jews from Babylon.

Of the seven archangels in the angelology of post-exilic Judaism, only two of them, the archangels Michael and Gabriel, are mentioned by name in the canonized Jewish scriptures, in the Book of Daniel in particular, which is one of the youngest books in the Tanakh.

Raphael features prominently in the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit (initially accepted by both the Jewish and Christian canons, but removed from the Jewish canon in late antiquity and rejected by the Protestant reformers in the 16th century). The Book of Tobit is accepted as scriptural by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Oriental Orthodox Church.

Where a fourth archangel is added to the named three, to represent the four cardinal points, Uriel is generally the fourth. Uriel is listed as the fourth angel in Christian Gnostics (under the name Phanuel), by Gregory the Great, and in the angelology of Pseudo-Dionysius. However, the Book of Enoch clearly distinguishes the two angels. Uriel means “God is my Light”, whereas Phanuel means “Turn to God”. Uriel is the third angel listed in the Testament of Solomon, the fourth being Sabrael.

A Gallus (pl. Galli) was a eunuch priest of the Phrygian goddess Cybele and her consort Attis, whose worship was incorporated into the state religious practices of ancient Rome. In Rome, the head of the galli was known as the archigallus, at least from the period of Claudius on. A number of archaeological finds depict the archigallus wearing luxurious and extravagant costumes.

The archigallus was always a Roman citizen chosen by the quindecimviri sacris faciundis, whose term of service lasted for life. Along with the institution of the archigallus came the Phrygianum sanctuary as well as the rite of the taurobolium as it pertains to the Magna Mater, two aspects of the Magna Mater’s cultus that the archigallus held dominion over.

The Gala (Sumerian: gala, Akkadian: kalû) were priests of the Sumerian goddess Inanna, the ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power. It was a significant numbers of the personnel of both temples and palaces, the central institutions of Mesopotamian city states, with neither male nor female gender identities. Androgynous and hermaphroditic men were heavily involved in the cult of Inanna-Ishtar.

Originally a specialist in singing lamentations, gala appear in temple records dating back from the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. During Sumerian times, a set of priests known as gala worked in Inanna’s temples, where they performed elegies and lamentations. Gala took female names, spoke in the eme-sal dialect, which was traditionally reserved for women, and appear to have engaged in homosexual intercourse.

According to an old Babylonian text, Enki created the gala specifically to sing “heart-soothing laments” for the goddess Inanna. Cuneiform references indicate the gendered character of the role. Lamentation and wailing originally may have been female professions, so that men who entered the role adopted its forms. Their hymns were sung in a Sumerian dialect known as eme-sal, normally used to render the speech of female gods, and some gala took female names.

Homosexual proclivities are clearly implied by the Sumerian proverb that reads, “When the gala wiped off his anus [he said], ‘I must not arouse that which belongs to my mistress [i.e., Inanna]’ “. In fact, the word gala was written using the sign sequence UŠ.KU, the first sign having also the reading giš3 (“penis”), and the second one dur2 (“anus”), so perhaps there is some pun involved.

Moreover, gala is homophonous with gal4-la “vulva”. However, in spite of all their references of their effeminate character (especially in the Sumerian proverbs), many administrative texts mention gala priests who had children, wives, and large families. On the other hand, some gala priests were actually women.

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