Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Origin of Easter (Ostara)

Posted by Fredsvenn on April 20, 2019

Bilderesultat for zodiac

Easter Bunny Postcard 1907.jpg

New year 

From the Pisces to Aries

Aries – Libra

Venus: Scorpio / Taurus and Aries / Libra 

Ceres: Pisces / Virgo

Venus is the ruling planet of Libra (and Taurus) and exalted in Pisces

Inanna in her aspect as Anunītu was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.

Inanna / Tammuz – Ereshkigal / Nergal

In old opinion, Ceres is the ruling planet of Virgo[citation needed] but as more knowledge about the planet’s character has been revealed, majority of modern astrologers opinion, denote Ceres being the ruler for Taurus, however, Ceres is exalted in Virgo. In an updated revision, Taurus is also ruled by Chiron with that very same dwarf planet having an astrological maverick character being a co-ruler to Virgo, and exalted in Sagittarius.

Aries (meaning “ram”) is the first astrological sign in the zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°). It is located in the northern celestial hemisphere between Pisces to the west and Taurus to the east.

Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign when it reaches the March equinox, which occur from approximately March 20 to April 21 each year (by design). According to the tropical system of astrology,Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from April 15 to 14 May (approximately).

Pisces (Ancient Greek: Ikhthyes) is the twelfth and last astrological sign in the Zodiac. It spans 330° to 360° of celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this area between February 19 and March 20. In Sidereal astrology, the Sun currently transits the constellation of Pisces from approximately March 12 to April 18.

Libra is the seventh astrological sign in the Zodiac. It spans 180°–210° celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between (northern autumnal equinox) September 23 and October 23, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits the constellation of Libra from approximately October 31 to November 22.

The Truth About New Year’s—and Other Popular Holidays

Happy Easter: Celebration of the Spring Equinox

Calculating the Easter Date

Easter Bunny

Easter egg

Easter

Although the Christian festival of Easter celebrates the torture and death of Jesus on a cross and, especially, his alleged resurrection, and has links to the Jewish Passover, most people, including Christians, unknowingly celebrate its pagan influences, including the bunny, a symbol of fertility, and colored eggs, representing the sunlight of spring.

It took over 300 years before Christians established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon following the March Equinox at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E. The pagan Easter, however, was celebrated long before Christianity (although the festival went by many names).

According to the Bible, Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection occurred at the time of the Jewish Passover, which was celebrated on the first Full Moon following the vernal equinox. This soon led to Christians celebrating Easter on different dates. At the end of the 2nd century, some churches celebrated Easter on the day of the Passover, while others celebrated it on the following Sunday.

In 325 CE, the Council of Nicaea established that Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first Full Moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. (*) From that point forward, the Easter date depended on the ecclesiastical approximation of March 21 for the vernal equinox.

In the 8th century, Christian scholar Bede claimed in his book, De temporum ratione, (The Reckoning of Time) that Easter derived from the Saxon Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). The ancient Saxons in Northern Europe worshiped the Goddess Oestre at the time of the Spring Equinox. The Goddess Easter represents the sunrise, spring-time and fertility, the renewal of life.

Pagan Anglo-Saxons made offerings of colored eggs to her at the Vernal Equinox. They placed them at graves especially, probably as a charm of rebirth. (Egyptians and Greeks were also known to place eggs at gravesites). Only later did the Christians pilfer the name for themselves and graft their religion onto a pagan celebration.

Easter falls on the first Sunday after the Full Moon date, based on mathematical calculations, that falls on or after March 21. If the Full Moon is on a Sunday, Easter is celebrated on the following Sunday.

Although Easter is liturgically related to the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere (March equinox) and the Full Moon, its date is not based on the actual astronomical date of either event.

March 21 is the church’s date of the March equinox, regardless of the time zone, while the actual date of the equinox varies between March 19 and March 22, and the date depends on the time zone.

The date of the Paschal Full Moon, used to determine the date of Easter, is based on mathematical approximations following a 19-year cycle called the Metonic cycle. Both dates may coincide with the dates of the astronomical events, but in some years, they don’t.

Passover

Passover, also called Pesach, is a major, biblically derived Jewish holiday. Jews celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation by God from slavery in ancient Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses.

It commemorates the story of the Exodus as described in the Hebrew Bible, especially in the Book of Exodus, in which the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. According to standard biblical chronology, this event would have taken place at about 1300 BC.

Passover is a spring festival which during the existence of the Temple in Jerusalem was connected to the offering of the “first-fruits of the barley”, barley being the first grain to ripen and to be harvested in the Land of Israel.

Passover is a spring festival, so the 15th day of Nisan typically begins on the night of a full moon after the northern vernal equinox. However, due to leap months falling after the vernal equinox, Passover sometimes starts on the second full moon after vernal equinox, as in 2016.

Passover commences on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan and lasts for either seven days (in Israel and for Reform Jews and other progressive Jews around the world who adhere to the Biblical commandment) or eight days for Orthodox, Hasidic, and most Conservative Jews (in the diaspora).

In the Akkadian of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia nisānu, which derives from Sumerian nisag “First fruits” is the first month on the Assyrian calendar, and on the Hebrew calendar is the first month of the ecclesiastical year and the seventh month (eighth, in leap year) of the civil year. The name of the month is of Assyrian-Babylonian origin; in the Torah it is called the month of the Aviv (e.g. Exodus 13:4).

The Passover begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan, which typically falls in March or April of the Gregorian calendar. To ensure that Passover did not start before spring, the tradition in ancient Israel held that the first day of Nisan would not start until the barley was ripe, being the test for the onset of spring.

If the barley was not ripe, or various other phenomena indicated that spring was not yet imminent, an intercalary month (Adar II) would be added. However, since at least the 4th century, the date has been fixed mathematically.

In Judaism, a day commences at dusk and lasts until the following dusk, thus the first day of Passover begins after dusk of the 14th of Nisan and ends at dusk of the 15th day of the month of Nisan. The rituals unique to the Passover celebrations commence with the Passover Seder when the 15th of Nisan has begun. It is one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays.

Assyrians today refer to the month as the “month of happiness.” It is a spring month of 30 days. Nisan usually falls in March–April on the Gregorian calendar. In the Book of Esther in the Tanakh it is referred to as Nisan. Karaite Jews interpret it as referring to the month in which barley was ripe.

In the narrative of the Exodus, the Bible tells that God helped the Children of Israel escape from their slavery in Egypt by inflicting ten plagues upon the ancient Egyptians before the Pharaoh would release his Israelite slaves; the tenth and worst of the plagues was the death of the Egyptian first-born.

The Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a slaughtered spring lamb and, upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord knew to pass over the first-born in these homes, hence the English name of the holiday.

The biblical requirements of slaying the Paschal lamb in the individual homes of the Hebrews and smearing the blood of the lamb on their doorways were celebrated in Egypt. However, once Israel was in the wilderness and the tabernacle was in operation, a change was made in those two original requirements (Deuteronomy 16:2–6).

Passover lambs were to be sacrificed at the door of the tabernacle and no longer in the homes of the Jews. No longer, therefore, could blood be smeared on doorways.

Taw is believed to be derived from the Egyptian hieroglyph meaning “mark”. Taw, tav, or taf is the twenty-second and last letter of the Semitic abjads (22nd in abjadi order, 3rd in modern order), including Phoenician Tāw. In Arabic, it is also gives rise to the derived letter Ṯāʼ. Its original sound value is /t/. The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek tau (Τ), Latin T, and Cyrillic Т.

“From aleph to taf” describes something from beginning to end, the Hebrew equivalent of the English “From A to Z.” Omega 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”).

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. It is interpreted by many Christians to mean that Jesus has existed for all eternity or that God is eternal.

Alpha (Α) and omega (Ω) are the first and last letters, respectively, of the classical (Ionic) Greek alphabet. Thus, twice when the phrase “I am the alpha and the omega” appears it is further clarified with the additional phrase, “the beginning and the end” (Revelation 21:6, 22:13). The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet were used because the book of Revelation is in the New Testament, which was originally written in Greek.

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.

When the Pharaoh freed the Israelites, it is said that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread dough to rise (leaven). In commemoration, for the duration of Passover no leavened bread is eaten, for which reason Passover is called the feast of unleavened bread in the Torah. Thus matzo (flat unleavened bread) is eaten during Passover and it is a tradition of the holiday.

Historically, together with Shavuot and Sukkot, Passover is one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals (Shalosh Regalim) during which the entire population of the kingdom of Judah made a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. Samaritans still make this pilgrimage to Mount Gerizim, but only men participate in public worship.

The origins of the Passover festival antedate the Exodus. The Passover ritual, prior to Deuteronomy, is widely thought to have its origins in an apotropaic rite, unrelated to the Exodus, to ensure the protection of a family home, a rite conducted wholly within a clan. Hyssop was employed to daub the blood of a slaughtered sheep on the lintels and door posts to ensure that demonic forces could not enter the home.

A further hypothesis maintains that, once the Priestly Code was promulgated, the exodus narrative took on a central function, as the apotropaic rite was, arguably, amalgamated with the Canaanite agricultural festival of spring which was a ceremony of Unleavened Bread, connected with the barley harvest.

As the Exodus motif grew, the original function and symbolism of these double origins was lost. Several motifs replicate the features associated with the Mesopotamian Akitu or Akitum (lit. “the barley-cutting”, “barley-sowing” or “head of the year”) spring festival in ancient Mesopotamia.

The name is from the Sumerian for “barley”, originally marking two festivals celebrating the beginning of each of the two half-years of the Sumerian calendar, marking the sowing of barley in autumn and the cutting of barley in spring.

In Babylonian religion it came to be dedicated to Marduk’s victory over Tiamat (Akkadian: DTI.AMAT or DTAM.TUM, Greek: Thaláttē), who possessed the Tablet of Destinies. The principal theme of the epic is the justified elevation of Marduk to command over all the deities.

In the religion of ancient Babylon, Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the salt sea, mating with Abzû, the god of fresh water, to produce younger gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation. She is referred to as a woman, and described as the glistening one. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a sacred marriage between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second Chaoskampf Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.

In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu, correctly assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed. Enraged, she, too, wars upon her husband’s murderers.

Taking on the form of a massive sea dragon, she is then slain by Enki’s son, the storm-god Marduk, but not before she had brought forth the monsters of the Mesopotamian pantheon, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with “poison instead of blood”. Marduk then forms heavens and the earth from her divided body.

In the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children. The deities gathered in terror, but Anu, (replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea), first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear. Slicing Tiamat in half, he made from her ribs the vault of heaven and earth. Her weeping eyes became the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates, her tail became the Milky Way.

With the approval of the elder deities, he took from Kingu the Tablet of Destinies, installing himself as the head of the Babylonian pantheon. Kingu was captured and later was slain: his red blood mixed with the red clay of the Earth would make the body of humankind, created to act as the servant of the younger Igigi deities.

The Tiamat myth is one of the earliest recorded versions of the Chaoskampf, the battle between a culture hero and a chthonic or aquatic monster, serpent or dragon. Chaoskampf motifs in other mythologies linked directly or indirectly to the Tiamat myth include the Hittite Illuyanka myth, and in Greek tradition Apollo’s killing of the Python as a necessary action to take over the Delphic Oracle.

Holidays Related to Easter

The dates of many Christian feasts are based on the date of Easter Sunday:

Ash Wednesday (46 days before Easter)

Palm Sunday (1 week before Easter)

Maundy Thursday (3 days before Easter)

Good Friday (2 days before Easter)

Easter Saturday (1 day before Easter)

Easter Monday (1 day after Easter)

Ascension Day (39 days after Easter)

Whit Sunday / Pentecost (49 days after Easter)

Whit Monday (50 days after Easter)

Trinity Sunday (56 days after Easter)

Corpus Christi (60 days after Easter)

Equinox

An equinox is commonly regarded as the instant of time when the plane (extended indefinitely in all directions) of Earth’s equator passes through the center of the Sun. This occurs twice each year: around 20 March and 23 September. In other words, it is the moment at which the center of the visible Sun is directly above the Equator.

The word is derived from the Latin aequinoctium, from aequus (equal) and nox (genitive noctis) (night). On the day of an equinox, daytime and nighttime are of approximately equal duration all over the planet.

They are not exactly equal, however, due to the angular size of the Sun, atmospheric refraction, and the rapidly changing duration of the length of day that occurs at most latitudes around the equinoxes.

March equinox and September equinox are names referring to the months of the year in which they occur, with no ambiguity as to which hemisphere is the context. Northward equinox and southward equinox are names referring to the apparent direction of motion of the Sun.

In the northern hemisphere, the equinox in March is called the Vernal </span>(ver = spring) or Spring Equinox; the September equinox is called the Autumnal (autumnus = autumn) or Fall Equinox. The dates are slightly variable, dependent as they are on the leap year cycle.

Because the Moon (and to a lesser extent the planets) cause the motion of the Earth to vary from a perfect ellipse, the equinox is now officially defined by the Sun’s more regular ecliptic longitude rather than by its declination. The instants of the equinoxes are currently defined to be when the longitude of the Sun is 0° and 180°.

Long before conceiving this equality primitive cultures noted the day when the Sun rises due East and sets due West and indeed this happens on the day closest to the astronomically defined event.

The early Romans used a lunar calendar in which months alternated between 29 and 30 days. The calender produced inaccuracies because it gradually fell out of step with the seasons. Julius Caesar reformed the calendar by switching its base from lunar to solar. The Romans established the day on which the vernal equinox occurred as March 25th.

The length of the year got fixed at 365 days, with an additional leap-year day added every fourth year. This made the average length of a year equal to 365.25 days, which came fairly close to the actual value of 365.2422 days.

The astronomical vernal equinox occurs when night and day appear nearly the same length at around March 21 and establishes the first day of spring (in the northern hemisphere). The moment the Sun crosses directly over the Earth’s equator marks the vernal equinox (in the southern hemisphere, the moment equals the autumnal equinox).

Translated literally, vernal means “spring” and equinox means “equal night” because the sun sits above the equator and day and night appears equal in length.

The First Point of Aries

First Point of Aries or the March equinox, the location of the vernal equinox, and first point of Libra or the September equinox are the names referring to the astrological signs the Sun is entering. Due to the precession of the equinoxes, however, the constellations where the equinoxes are currently located have changed.

The March equinox passed from Taurus into Aries in year −1865, passed into Pisces in year −67, will pass into Aquarius in year 2597, and then into Capricornus in year 4312. The September equinox passed from Libra into Virgo in year −729, will pass into Leo in year 2439.

Aries (meaning “ram”) is the first astrological sign in the zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°). It is located in the northern celestial hemisphere between Pisces to the west and Taurus to the east.

Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign when it reaches the March equinox, which occur from approximately March 20 to April 21 each year (by design). According to the tropical system of astrology,Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from April 15 to 14 May (approximately).

The First Point of Aries is named for the constellation. This is because the Sun crossed the celestial equator from south to north in Aries more than two millennia ago. The Sun now appears in Aries from late April through mid May, though the constellation is still associated with the beginning of spring.

Pisces (Ancient Greek: Ikhthyes) is the twelfth astrological sign in the Zodiac. It spans 330° to 360° of celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this area between February 19 and March 20. In Sidereal astrology, the Sun currently transits the constellation of Pisces from approximately March 12 to April 18.

Libra is the seventh astrological sign in the Zodiac. It spans 180°–210° celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between (northern autumnal equinox) September 23 and October 23, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits the constellation of Libra from approximately October 31 to November 22.

The first point of Libra is named for the constellation. This is because the Sun crossed the celestial equator from north to south in Libra more than two millennia ago. The Sun now appears in Libra from late October to late November, though the constellation is still associated with the beginning of autumn.

Going back to ancient Greek times, Libra the constellation between Virgo and Scorpio used to be ruled over by the constellation of Scorpio. They called the area the Latin word “chelae”, which translated to “the claws” which can help identify the individual stars that make up the full constellation of Libra, since it was so closely identified with the Scorpion constellation in the sky.

Scorpio is the eighth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the constellation of Scorpius. It spans 210°–240° ecliptic longitude. Under the tropical zodiac (most commonly used in Western astrology), the Sun transits this area on average from October 23 to November 22. Under the sidereal zodiac (most commonly used in Hindu astrology), the Sun is in Scorpio from approximately November 16 to December 15.

Virgo (Greek: Parthenos), is the sixth astrological sign in the Zodiac. It spans the 150-180th degree of the zodiac. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between August 23 and September 22, and the Sun transits the constellation of Virgo from approximately September 16 to October 30.

Aries

The name Aries is Latin for ram, and its symbol is representing a ram’s horns. The symbol of the ram is based on the Chrysomallus, the flying ram that provided the Golden Fleece in Ancient Greek mythology. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship.

Although Aries came to represent the Chrysomallus it has represented a ram since late Babylonian times. Before that, the stars of Aries formed a farmhand. Modern-day Aries was known as Lu.Hun.Ga (“The Agrarian Worker” or “The Hired Man”).

The shift in identification from the constellation as the Agrarian Worker to the Ram likely occurred in later Babylonian tradition because of its growing association with Dumuzi the Shepherd, who was known as the king of Uruk. However, the Sumerian King List says that Dumuzid the Shepherd had ruled before the flood, and locates him in Bad-tibira.

Dumuzi the Shepherd appears in later works as Tammuz, an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with shepherds, who was also the primary consort of the goddess Inanna later known as Ishtar. Inanna in her aspect as Anunītu was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.

There may have been some confusion in the early Sumerian compositions between Dumuzi the Shepherd and Dumuzid the Fisherman, who originally came from Kuara in Sumer, but is known in the Sumerian King List as the 4th king in the 1st Dynasty of Uruk, and Gilgamesh’s predecessor.

The king list also states that Dumuzid the Fisherman single handedly captured Enmebaragesi, ruler of Kish, and claims he ruled in Uruk for 100 years — far fewer than the 1200 years it ascribes his predecessor, Lugalbanda “the Shepherd”. His given name means “faithful child” in Sumerian.

Lugalbanda (young/fierce king) is a character found in Sumerian mythology and literature. Lugalbanda is listed in the postdiluvian period of the Sumerian king list as the second king of Uruk, saying he ruled for 1,200 years, and providing him with the epithet of the Shepherd.

Lugalbanda appears in Sumerian literary sources as early as the mid-3rd millennium, as attested by a mythological text from Abu Salabikh that describes a romantic relationship between Lugalbanda and Ninsun.

In Sumerian mythology, Ninsun (also called Ninsumun “lady of the wild cows”) is a goddess, best known as the mother of the legendary hero Gilgamesh, and as the tutelary goddess of Gudea of Lagash.

Lugalbanda prominently features as the hero of two Sumerian stories dated to the Ur III period (21st century BCE), called by scholars Lugalbanda I (or Lugalbanda in the Mountain Cave) and Lugalbanda II (or Lugalbanda and the Anzu Bird). Both are known only in later versions, although there is an Ur III fragment that is quite different from either 18th century version.

These tales are part of a series of stories that describe the conflicts between Enmerkar, king of Unug (Uruk), and Ensuhkeshdanna, lord of Aratta. In these two stories, Lugalbanda is a soldier in the army of Enmerkar, whose name also appears in the Sumerian King List as the first king of Uruk and predecessor of Lugalbanda. The extant fragments make no reference to Lugalbanda’s succession as king following Enmerkar.

Nergal’s fiery aspect appears in names or epithets such as Lugalgira, Lugalbanda, Sharrapu (“the burner”), Erra, Gibil and Sibitti or Seven. However, a certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninurta (slayer of Asag and wielder of Sharur, an enchanted mace) and Nergal. Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king”, the “furious one”, and the like.

Kuara (also known as Kisiga, Ku’ara, modern Tell al-Lahm site, Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq) is an archaeological site in Dhi Qar Province (Iraq). According to the Sumerian king list, Kuara was also the home of Dumuzid, the fisherman, legendary third king of Uruk.

The city’s patron deity was Meslamtaea (Nergal). In Sumerian mythology, Kuara was also considered the birthplace of the god Marduk (Asarluhi), Enki’s son. The cults of Marduk and Ninehama were centered in Kuara.

In Sumerian mythology, Dumuzid’s sister was Geshtinanna, the goddess of vegetation. In the Sumerian King List, Dumuzid is listed as an antediluvian king of the city of Bad-tibira and also an early king of the city of Uruk. In the Sumerian poem Inanna Prefers the Farmer, Dumuzid competes against the farmer Enkimdu for Inanna’s hand in marriage.

In Inanna’s Descent into the Underworld, Dumuzid fails to mourn Inanna’s death and, when she returns from the Underworld, she allows the galla demons to drag him down to the Underworld as her replacement.

Inanna later regrets this decision and decrees that Dumuzid will spend half the year in the Underworld, but the other half of the year with her, while his sister Geshtinanna stays in the Underworld in his place, thus resulting in the cycle of the seasons.

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

In ancient Egyptian astronomy, Aries was associated with the god Amon-Ra, who was depicted as a man with a ram’s head and represented fertility and creativity. Because it was the location of the vernal equinox, it was called the “Indicator of the Reborn Sun”.

During the times of the year when Aries was prominent, priests would process statues of Amon-Ra to temples, a practice that was modified by Persian astronomers centuries later. Aries acquired the title of “Lord of the Head” in Egypt, referring to its symbolic and mythological importance

In traditional Chinese astronomy, stars from Aries were used in several constellations. The brightest stars—Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Arietis—formed a constellation called Lou, variously translated as “bond”, “lasso”, and “sickle”, which was associated with the ritual sacrifice of cattle.

This name was shared by the 16th lunar mansion, the location of the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. The lunar mansion represented the area where animals were gathered before sacrifice around that time. This constellation has also been associated with harvest-time as it could represent a woman carrying a basket of food on her head.

35, 39, and 41 Arietis were part of a constellation called Wei, which represented a fat abdomen and was the namesake of the 17th lunar mansion, which represented granaries. Delta and Zeta Arietis were a part of the constellation Tianyin, thought to represent the Emperor’s hunting partner. Zuogeng (Tso-kang), a constellation depicting a marsh and pond inspector, was composed of Mu, Nu, Omicron, Pi, and Sigma Arietis. He was accompanied by Yeou-kang, a constellation depicting an official in charge of pasture distribution.

In a similar system to the Chinese, the first lunar mansion in Hindu astronomy was called “Aswini”, after the traditional names for Beta and Gamma Arietis, the Aswins. Because the Hindu new year began with the vernal equinox, the Rig Veda contains over 50 new-year’s related hymns to the twins, making them some of the most prominent characters in the work. Aries itself was known as “Aja” and “Mesha”.

Mars

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. His month Martius was the beginning of the season for warfare, and the festivals held in his honor during the month were mirrored by others in October, when the season for these activities came to a close.

Martius remained the first month of the Roman calendar year perhaps as late as 153 BC, and several religious observances in the first half of the month were originally new year’s celebrations. Even in late antiquity, Roman mosaics picturing the months sometimes still placed March first.

Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people. In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia.

His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.

The consort of Mars was Nerio or Neriene, “Valor.” She represents the vital force (vis), power (potentia) and majesty (maiestas) of Mars. Her name was regarded as Sabine in origin and is equivalent to Latin virtus, “manly virtue” (from vir, “man”).

In the early 3rd century BC, the comic playwright Plautus has a reference to Mars greeting Nerio, his wife. A source from late antiquity says that Mars and Neriene were celebrated together at a festival held on March 23. In the later Roman Empire, Neriene came to be identified with Minerva.

Nerio probably originates as a divine personification of Mars’ power, as such abstractions in Latin are generally feminine. Her name appears with that of Mars in an archaic prayer invoking a series of abstract qualities, each paired with the name of a deity. The influence of Greek mythology and its anthropomorphic gods may have caused Roman writers to treat these pairs as “marriages.”

In the Skanda Purana, a Hindu religious text, Mars is known as the deity Mangala and was born from the sweat of Shiva. The planet is called Angaraka in Sanskrit, after the celibate god of war who possesses the signs of Aries and Scorpio, and teaches the occult sciences. Kali is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her.

Matronalia

In ancient Roman religion, the Matronalia (or Matronales Feriae) was a festival celebrating Juno Lucina, the goddess of childbirth (“Juno who brings children into the light”), and of motherhood (mater is “mother” in Latin) and women in general.

In the original Roman calendar traditionally thought to have been established by Romulus, it was the first day of the year. As the first day of March (Martius), the month of Mars, it was also the Feriae Martis.

The date of the festival was associated with the dedication of a temple to Juno Lucina on the Esquiline Hill circa 268 BCE, and possibly also a commemoration of the peace between the Romans and the Sabines.

On the day, women would participate in rituals at the temple, although the details have not been preserved other than the observation that they wore their hair loose (when Roman decorum otherwise required them to wear it up), and were not allowed to wear belts or to knot their clothing in any place.

At home, women received gifts from their husbands and daughters, and Roman husbands were expected to offer prayers for their wives. Women were also expected to prepare a meal for the household slaves (who were given the day off work), as Roman men did at the Saturnalia.

Like Ares who was the son of Zeus and Hera, Mars is usually considered to be the son of Jupiter and Juno. However, in a version of his birth given by Ovid, he was the son of Juno alone. Jupiter had usurped the mother’s function when he gave birth to Minerva directly from his forehead (or mind).

To restore the balance, Juno sought the advice of the goddess Flora on how to do the same. Flora obtained a magic flower (Latin flos, plural flores, a masculine word) and tested it on a heifer who became fecund at once. She then plucked a flower ritually using her thumb, touched Juno’s belly, and impregnated her. Juno withdrew to Thrace and the shore of Marmara for the birth.

Ovid tells this story in the Fasti, his long-form poetic work on the Roman calendar. It may explain why the Matronalia, a festival celebrated by married women in honor of Juno as a goddess of childbirth, occurred on the first day of Mars’ month, which is also marked on a calendar from late antiquity as the birthday of Mars.

In the earliest Roman calendar, March was the first month, and the god would have been born with the new year. Ovid is the only source for the story. He may be presenting a literary myth of his own invention, or an otherwise unknown archaic Italic tradition; either way, in choosing to include the story, he emphasizes that Mars was connected to plant life and was not alienated from female nurture.

Juno was an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. Juno’s own warlike aspect among the Romans is apparent in her attire. She is often shown armed and wearing a goatskin cloak. The traditional depiction of this warlike aspect was assimilated from the Greek goddess Athena, who bore a goatskin, or a goatskin shield, called the ‘aegis’.

A daughter of Saturn, she is the wife of Jupiter and the mother of Mars, Vulcan, Bellona and Juventas. She is the Roman goddess of love and marriage, the Roman equivalent of Hera, the Greek goddess for love and marriage and queen of the gods in Greek mythology; like Hera, her sacred animal was the peacock. Her Etruscan counterpart was Uni, and she was said to also watch over the women of Rome.

Iuuen- is related to Latin aevum and Greek aion through a common Indo-European root referring to a concept of vital energy or “fertile time”. The iuvenis is he who has the fullness of vital force. Ancient etymologies associated Juno’s name with iuvare, “to aid, benefit”, and iuvenescere, “rejuvenate”, sometimes connecting it to the renewal of the new and waxing moon, perhaps implying the idea of a moon goddess.

In some inscriptions Jupiter himself is called Iuuntus, and one of the epithets of Jupiter is Ioviste, a superlative form of iuuen- meaning “the youngest”. Iuventas, “Youth”, was one of two deities who “refused” to leave the Capitol when the building of the new Temple of Capitoline Jove required the exauguration of deities who already occupied the site.

As the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman Empire, Juno was called Regina (“Queen”) and was a member of the Capitoline Triad (Juno Capitolina), centered on the Capitoline Hill in Rome; it consisted of her, Jupiter, and Minerva, goddess of wisdom.

Eostre

Ēostre or Ostara is a Germanic goddess who, by way of the Germanic month bearing her name (Northumbrian: Ēosturmōnaþ; West Saxon: Ēastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth), is the namesake of the festival of Easter in some languages.

Ēostre is attested solely by Bede in his 8th-century work The Reckoning of Time, where Bede states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent of April), pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Ēostre’s honour, but that this tradition had died out by his time, replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.

As the Germanic languages descend from Proto-Indo-European (PIE), historical linguists have traced the name to a Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn *H₂ewsṓs (*Ausṓs), from which descends the Common Germanic divinity from whom Ēostre and Ostara are held to descend.

Theories connecting Ēostre with records of Germanic Easter customs, including hares and eggs, have been proposed. Eggs, like rabbits and hares, are fertility symbols of antiquity. Since birds lay eggs and rabbits and hares give birth to large litters in the early spring, these became symbols of the rising fertility of the earth at the Vernal Equinox.

Sherida

Sherida is one of the oldest Mesopotamian gods. 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.

She developed into the Akkadian mother goddess Aya. 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.

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 Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. Scholarly theories have been proposed about Hel’s potential connections to a goddess with potential Indo-European parallels in Bhavani, Kali, and Mahakali.

Kali’s earliest appearance is that of a destroyer of evil forces. She is the most powerful form of Adi shakti. Over time, she has been worshipped by devotional movements and tantric sects variously as the Divine Mother, Mother of the Universe, Adi Shakti, or Adi Parashakti. Shakta Hindu and Tantric sects additionally worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman.

She is also seen as divine protector and the one who bestows moksha, or liberation. Kali is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her. Kālī is also the feminine form of Kāla, an epithet of Shiva, and thus the consort of Shiva.

Ishara

Ishara is a pre-Hurrian and perhaps pre-Semitic deity from northern modern Syria, later incorporated into the Hurrian pantheon. 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.

In Alalah, her name was written with the Akkadogram IŠTAR plus a phonetic complement -ra, as IŠTAR-ra. Ishara is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath. In this context, she came to be seen as a “goddess of medicine” whose pity was invoked in case of illness.

Variants of the name appear as Ašḫara (in a treaty of Naram-Sin of Akkad with Hita of Elam) and Ušḫara (in Ugarite texts). Vedic uṣás is derived from the word uṣá which means “dawn”. This word comes from Proto-Indo-Iranian *Hušā́s (“ušā” in Avestan), which in turn is from Proto-Indo-European *h₂éusōs (“dawn”).

In Ebla, there were various logographic spellings involving the sign AMA “mother”. Ama-gi is a Sumerian word. The word originates from the noun ama “mother” (sometimes with the enclitic dative case marker ar), and the present participle gi “return, restore, put back”, thus literally meaning “returning to mother”.

It has been translated as “freedom”, as well as “manumission”, “exemption from debts or obligations”, and “the restoration of persons and property to their original status” including the remission of debts. Other interpretations include a “reversion to a previous state” and release from debt, slavery, taxation or punishment.

Assyriologist Samuel Noah Kramer has identified it as the first known written reference to the concept of freedom. By the Third Dynasty of Ur, it was used as a legal term for the manumission of individuals. It is related to the Akkadian word anduraāru(m), meaning “freedom”, “exemption” and “release from (debt) slavery”.

She was associated with the underworld. Her astrological embodiment is the constellation Scorpio and she is called the mother of the Sebitti (the Seven Stars). The name “seven sisters” has been used for the Pleiades in the languages of many cultures. The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC.

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. 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”.

Hausos

Hausos (Proto-Indo-European: *h₂éwsōs) is the reconstructed name for the Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn. 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-.

Derivatives of this goddess, 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 Dawn Goddess is hypothesised to have been one of the most important deities to the Proto-Indo-Europeans, due to the consistency of her characterisation as well as the relevance of Ushas in the Rig Veda. 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.

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

The name indicates that the goddess was imagined as a beautiful nubile woman, who also had aspects of a love goddess. As a consequence, the love goddess aspect was separated from the personification of dawn in a number of traditions, including Roman Venus vs. Aurora, and Greek Aphrodite vs. Eos. The Italic goddess Mater Matuta “Mother Morning” has been connected to Aurora by Roman authors (Lucretius, Priscianus).

The abduction and imprisonment of the dawn goddess, and her liberation by a heroic god slaying the dragon who imprisons her, is a central myth of Indo-European religion, reflected in numerous traditions. Most notably, it is the central myth of the Rigveda, a collection of hymns surrounding the Soma rituals dedicated to Indra in the new year celebrations of the early Indo-Aryans.

Ushas is a Vedic goddess of dawn in Hinduism. She is the life of all living creatures, the impeller of action and breath, the foe of chaos and confusion, the auspicious arouser of cosmic and moral order called the Ṛta in Hinduism.

She repeatedly appears in the Rigvedic hymns, states David Kinsley, where she is “consistently identified with dawn, revealing herself with the daily coming of light to the world, driving away oppressive darkness, chasing away evil demons, rousing all life, setting all things in motion, sending everyone off to do their duties”.

Hausos are associated with reddish horses, perhaps due to syncretism with solar goddesses as well as the hypothesised relation with the Divine Twins. Red cows are also sacred to Ushas, while Eos is linked with songbirds and cicadas. Spiders are also possibly illustrative of this goddess, due to their association with weaving.

She is also envisioned as the sister of the Divine Twins, with Ushas still maintaining this relation to the Ashvins. Although the “marriage drama” myth (in which one or both of the Divine Twins compete for the hand of a woman in marriage) is usually linked to the sun goddess rather than the dawn goddess, there is a possible degree of syncretism in this regard, particularly as the Baltic Aušrinė is in a similar marriage drama situation, albeit in relation to her father and her mother.

The Dawn Goddess was associated with weaving, a behaviour sometimes used as a metaphor for the generative properties of sunlight. This characteristic is normally seen in solar goddesses and it might indicate a large amount of syncretism between dawn and solar deities.

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.

The Dawn Goddess is thought to have been envisioned as the daughter of Dyeus. This is partially reflected in Vedic mythology, where Ushas is the daughter of Dyaus Pita, though in some other Indo-European derivations this is not the case; even Ushas is inversely sometimes considered the daughter of Surya, though nonetheless the epithet “daughter of heaven” remains in nearly all Indo-European mythologies. This reflects her status as a relevant goddess as well as a celestial deity.

Isis

Isis was a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. The hieroglyphic writing of her name incorporates the sign for a throne, and 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.

As daughter of the earth god Geb, one of whose symbols is the goose, Isis is called “the Egg of the Goose”, and, by tradition, Isis is the divine egg of her father. Goddess Isis uses the egg in her hieroglyphic block.

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.

The planet was known by the ancient Egyptians as “Horus of the Horizon”, then later Her Deshur (“Ḥr Dšr”), or “Horus the Red”. Horus served many functions, most notably being a god of kingship and the sky.

The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection and royal power from deities, in this case from Horus or Ra, who was portrayed as a falcon and shared characteristics with the sky god Horus.

Horus was equated with each living pharaoh and Osiris with the pharaoh’s deceased predecessors. Isis was therefore the mythological mother and wife of kings. 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.

Isis’s reputed magical power was greater than that of all other gods, and she was said to protect the kingdom from its enemies, govern the skies and the natural world, and have power over fate itself.

The worship of Isis was ended by the rise of Christianity in the fourth and fifth centuries CE. Her worship may have influenced Christian beliefs and practices such as the veneration of Mary, but the evidence for this influence is ambiguous and often controversial.

Inanna

Inanna is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power. Alongside her twin brother, the sun god Utu (later known as Shamash), Inanna was the enforcer of divine justice.

Nineveh was one of the oldest and greatest cities in antiquity. The area was settled as early as 6000 BC during the late Neolithic. The deep sounding at Nineveh uncovered layers now dated to early Hassuna culture period.

By around 6000 BC people had moved into the foothills (piedmont) of northernmost Mesopotamia where there was enough rainfall to allow for “dry” agriculture in some places. These were the first farmers in northernmost Mesopotamia. They made Hassuna-style pottery (cream slip with reddish paint in linear designs).

Pre-Proto-Hassuna refers to the Late Neolithic period in Upper Mesopotamia when the ceramic containers were just being introduced, and the pottery vessels were still very few in number in these early settlements. The time frame for this initial Late Neolithic ceramic period was about 7000-6700 BC, and at this time stone vessels and White Ware were still being used in addition to pottery.

By 3000 BC, the area had become an important religious center for the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar. The English placename Nineveh comes from Latin Ninive and Septuagint Greek Nineuḗ under influence of the Biblical Hebrew Nīnewēh from the Akkadian Ninua (var. Ninâ) or Old Babylonian Ninuwā. The city was also known as Ninii or Ni in Ancient Egyptian; Ninuwa in Mari; Ninawa in Aramaic; in Syriac; and Nainavā in Persian. The original meaning of the name is unclear but may have referred to a patron goddess.

The cuneiform for Ninâ is a fish within a house (cf. Aramaic nuna, “fish”). This may have simply intended “Place of Fish” or may have indicated a goddess associated with fish or the Tigris, possibly originally of Hurrian origin. The city was later said to be devoted to “the goddess Ishtar of Nineveh” and Nina was one of the Sumerian and Assyrian names of that goddess.

The Hurrians were a Bronze Age people who flourished across the Near East from the 4th millennium BCE to the 1st millennium BCE. Hurrian is also the name of the language these people spoke and, indeed, is the one constant and identifying feature of the culture over time and geography.

Hurrians formed the principal cultural element of the Bronze Age Mitanni kingdom and blended with the culture of the neighbouring, and then conquering, Hittites. By the late Bronze Age, the Hurrians had been assimilated into surrounding cultures in the Near East but many of their gods and myths would live on in later cultures, notably the Urartu civilization, and even inspire elements of myth found in Archaic Greece.

Hurrian speakers inhabited a core area, that is the upper Habur and Tigris rivers up to the Taurus and Zagros mountains, especially around Lake Van. Textual evidence of the Hurrians dates to the mid-3rd millennium BCE but, based on archaeological evidence, it is likely the culture at least stretched back to the mid-4th millennium BCE.

Generally known in ancient sources as the Hurri, the culture and language may also be referred to as the Subartu or Subareans, while in biblical texts they are the Horites (strictly speaking the descendants of the Hurrians in Canaan.

Subartu was apparently a polity in Upper Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris. Shupria (Shubria) or Arme-Shupria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was a Hurrian kingdom, known from Assyrian sources beginning in the 13th century BC, located in what is now known as the Armenian Highlands, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper.

Some scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia. Together with Armani-Subartu (Hurri-Mitanni), Hayasa-Azzi and other populations of the region such as the Nairi fell under Urartian (Kingdom of Ararat) rule in the 9th century BC, and their descendants, according to most scholars, later contributed to the ethnogenesis of the Armenians.

Most scholars suggest that Subartu is an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris and westward, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east and/or north. Its precise location has not been identified. From the point of view of the Akkadian Empire, Subartu marked the northern geographical horizon, just as Martu, Elam and Sumer marked “west”, “east” and “south”, respectively.

The Sumerian mythological epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta lists the countries where the “languages are confused” as Subartu, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (Akkad), and the Martu land (the Amorites). Similarly, the earliest references to the “four quarters” by the kings of Akkad name Subartu as one of these quarters around Akkad, along with Martu, Elam, and Sumer.

Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. In Sumerian literature Aratta is a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them. It is remote and difficult to reach.

Aratta is home to the goddess Inana, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. It is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk. The goddess Inanna resides in Aratta, but Enmerkar of Uruk pleases her more than does the lord of Aratta, who is not named in this epic.

Inanna’s name may derive from the Sumerian phrase nin-an-ak, meaning “Lady of Heaven”, but the cuneiform sign for Inanna is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin; Cuneiform: SAL.TUG) and sky (Sumerian: an; Cuneiform: AN).

These difficulties led some early Assyriologists to suggest that Inanna may have originally been a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, who was only later accepted into the Sumerian pantheon.

This idea was supported by Inanna’s youthfulness, and as well as the fact that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, she seems to have initially lacked a distinct sphere of responsibilities. The view that there was a Proto-Euphratean substrate language in Southern Iraq before Sumerian is not widely accepted by modern Assyriologists.

Starting from the 4th millennium BCE (if not before), then, the Hurrians thrived and expanded across Upper Mesopotamia. One of the earliest and most important Hurrian sites was Urkesh in northeast Syria, and it is from here that the earliest known inscriptions of the language were discovered.

And here the culture presents yet another difficulty in definition and identification, as explained by the historian Professor W. J. Hamblin: It was likely that the Hurrian conquest of that region was a complex phenomenon including peaceful migration, infiltration by mercenary bands in the pay of local city-states, followed by the rise of to power of mercenary warlords…culminating in the eventual full-scale migration of Hurrian herding tribes out of the mountains into the more fertile river valleys.

Further, the Hurrians often seem to have adopted the culture of the city-states they conquered, making them less visible than ever in the historical record. For example, “we have no evidence of a distinctive Hurrian military system” (ibid). It seems that if ever there were a people who were both everywhere and nowhere, it was the Hurrians.

She was originally worshipped in Sumer and was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians under the name Ishtar. In modern times, the title “Queen of Heaven” is still used by contemporary pagans to refer to the Great Goddess, while Catholics, Orthodox, and some Anglican Christians now apply the ancient title to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

She was associated with the planet Venus and her most prominent symbols included the lion and the eight-pointed star. Her husband was the god Dumuzid (later known as Tammuz) – Dionysos / Balder – and her sukkal, or personal attendant, was the goddess Ninshubur (who later became the male deity Papsukkal) – Mercury / Odin.

As early as the Uruk period (c. 4000 – c. 3100 BC), Inanna was already associated with the city of Uruk. After the reign of Sargon, she quickly became one of the most widely venerated deities in the Sumerian pantheon. Sargon himself proclaimed Inanna and An as the sources of his authority. As a result of this, the popularity of Inanna-Ishtar’s cult skyrocketed.

During later times, while her cult in Uruk continued to flourish, Ishtar also became particularly worshipped in the Upper Mesopotamian kingdom of Assyria (modern northern Iraq, northeast Syria and southeast Turkey), especially in the cities of Nineveh, Aššur and Arbela (modern Erbil).

During the reign of the Assyrian king Assurbanipal, Ishtar rose to become the most important and widely venerated deity in the Assyrian pantheon, surpassing even the Assyrian national god Ashur.

She was known as the “Queen of Heaven” and had temples in Nippur, Lagash, Shuruppak, Zabalam, and Ur, but her main cult center was the Eanna temple (Sumerian: É-AN.NA, “House of Heaven”) in the city of Uruk.

E-anna was an ancient Sumerian temple in Uruk. Considered “the residence of Inanna” and Anu, it is mentioned several times in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and elsewhere. After its dedication to Inanna, the temple seems to have housed priestesses of the goddess.

The original patron deity of this fourth-millennium BC city was probably An. 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.

Anu’s primary role in myths is as the ancestor of the Anunnaki, the major deities of Sumerian religion. The name Anunnaki is derived from An, the Sumerian god of the sky. The name is variously written “da-nuna”, “da-nuna-ke-ne”, or “da-nun-na”, meaning “princely offspring” or “offspring of An”.

Anu’s primary role in the Sumerian pantheon was as an ancestor figure; the most powerful and important deities in the Sumerian pantheon were believed to be the offspring of Anu and his consort Ki. Although it is sometimes unclear which deities were considered members of the Anunnaki, the group probably included the “seven gods who decree”: Anu, Enlil, Enki, Ninhursag, Nanna, Utu, and Inanna.

Anu’s consort in the earliest Sumerian texts is the goddess Uraš, a goddess of earth, but she is later the earth goddess Ki and, in Akkadian texts, the goddess Antu, whose name is a feminine form of Anu. The name Uras even became applied to Anu himself, and acquired the meaning “heaven”. The Sumerians believed that rain was Anu’s seed and that, when it fell, it impregnated Ki, causing her to give birth to all the vegetation of the land.

Anu briefly appears in the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh, in which his daughter Ishtar (the East Semitic equivalent to Inanna) persuades him to give her the Bull of Heaven so that she may send it to attack Gilgamesh. The incident results in the death of Enkidu.

Ereshkigal

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Kur, the land of the dead or underworld in Sumerian mythology. She was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom.

In later East Semitic myths she was said to rule Irkalla alongside her husband Nergal. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal, (lit. “Lady of the Great Earth”).

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

Nergal

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

Gemini is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for “twins,” and it is associated with the twins Castor and Pollux in Greek mythology. In Babylonian astronomy, the stars Castor and Pollux were known as the Great Twins. The Twins were regarded as minor gods and were called Meshlamtaea and Lugalirra, meaning respectively ‘The One who has arisen from the Underworld’ and the ‘Mighty King’.

Both names can be understood as titles of Nergal, the major Babylonian god of plague and pestilence, who was king of the Underworld. Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king”, the “furious one”, and the like. Nergal’s chief temple at Cuthah bore the name Meslam, from which the god receives the designation of Meslamtaeda or Meslamtaea, “the one that rises up from Meslam”.

In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta. The worship of Nergal does not appear to have spread as widely as that of Ninurta, but in the late Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused the two divinities, which were invoked together as if they were identical.

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. Aplu may be related with Apaliunas who is considered to be the Hittite reflex of *Apeljōn, an early form of the name Apollo. The national divinity of the Greeks, Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of music, truth and prophecy, healing, the sun and light, plague, poetry, and more.

Pluto was the ruler of the underworld in classical mythology. In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Pluto represents a more positive concept of the god who presides over the afterlife. Ploutōn was frequently conflated with Ploutos, a god of wealth, because mineral wealth was found underground, and because as a chthonic god Pluto ruled the deep earth that contained the seeds necessary for a bountiful harvest.

Plutus (lit. “wealth”) is the Greek god of wealth. He is either the son of Demeter and Iasion, with whom she lay in a thrice-ploughed field; or the child of Pluto and Persephone. In the theology of the Eleusinian Mysteries he is regarded as the “Divine Child.” Plutus can be identified as the one bearing the cornucopia—horn of plenty.

Hares and eggs

The Easter Bunny (also called the Easter Rabbit or Easter Hare) is a folkloric figure and symbol of Easter, depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. The Easter Bunny is sometimes depicted with clothes. The custom was first mentioned in Georg Franck von Franckenau’s De ovis paschalibus (‘About Easter Eggs’) in 1682, referring to a German tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter eggs for the children.

In legend, the creature carries colored eggs in his basket, candy, and sometimes also toys to the homes of children, and as such shows similarities to Santa Claus or the Christkind, as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holidays.

In ancient times, it was widely believed (as by Pliny, Plutarch, Philostratus, and Aelian) that the hare was a hermaphrodite. Rabbits and hares are both prolific breeders. Female hares can conceive a second litter of offspring while still pregnant with the first. This phenomenon is known as superfetation.

Lagomorphs mature sexually at an early age and can give birth to several litters a year (hence the saying, “to breed like rabbits” or “to breed like bunnies”). It is therefore not surprising that rabbits and hares should become fertility symbols, or that their springtime mating antics should enter into Easter folklore.

The idea that a hare could reproduce without loss of virginity led to an association with the Virgin Mary, with hares sometimes occurring in illuminated manuscripts and Northern European paintings of the Virgin and Christ Child. It may also have been associated with the Holy Trinity, as in the three hares motif.

The hare was a popular motif in medieval church art. Originating among German Lutherans, the “Easter Hare” originally played the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behavior at the start of the season of Eastertide.

Influential 19th century folklorist and philologist Jacob Grimm speculates, in the second volume of his Deutsche Mythologie, that the folk custom of Easter eggs among the continental Germanic peoples may have stemmed from springtime festivities of a Germanic goddess known in Old English as Ēostre (namesake of modern English Easter) and possibly known in Old High German as *Ostara (and thus namesake of Modern German Ostern ‘Easter’).

“The heathen Easter had much in common with May-feast and the reception of spring, particularly in matter of bonfires. Then, through long ages there seem to have lingered among the people Easter-games so-called, which the church itself had to tolerate : I allude especially to the custom of Easter eggs, and to the Easter tale which preachers told from the pulpit for the people’s amusement, connecting it with Christian reminiscences.”

Easter eggs, also called Paschal eggs, are eggs that are sometimes decorated. They are usually used as gifts on the occasion of Easter. As such, Easter eggs are common during the season of Eastertide (Easter season). The practice of decorating eggshells is quite ancient, with decorated, engraved ostrich eggs found in Africa which are 60,000 years old.

In the pre-dynastic period of Egypt and the early cultures of Mesopotamia and Crete, eggs were associated with death and rebirth, as well as with kingship, with decorated ostrich eggs, and representations of ostrich eggs in gold and silver, were commonly placed in graves of the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians as early as 5,000 years ago.

These cultural relationships may have influenced early Christian and Islamic cultures in those areas, as well as through mercantile, religious, and political links from those areas around the Mediterranean.

The oldest tradition is to use dyed and painted chicken eggs, however, a modern custom is to substitute chocolate eggs wrapped in colored foil, hand-carved wooden eggs, or plastic eggs filled with confectionery such as chocolate, or plastic eggs filled with candy such as jelly beans. However, real eggs continue to be used in Central and Eastern European tradition.

These eggs can be hidden for children to find on Easter morning, which may be left by the Easter Bunny. They may also be put in a basket filled with real or artificial straw to resemble a bird’s nest.

Although eggs, in general, were a traditional symbol of fertility and rebirth, in Christianity, for the celebration of Eastertide, Easter eggs symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus, from which Jesus resurrected. In addition, one ancient tradition was the staining of Easter eggs with the colour red “in memory of the blood of Christ, shed as at that time of his crucifixion.”

This custom of the Easter egg can be traced to early Christians of Mesopotamia, and from there it spread into Russia and Siberia through the Orthodox Churches, and later into Europe through the Catholic and Protestant Churches. This Christian use of eggs may have been influenced by practices in “pre-dynastic period in Egypt, as well as amid the early cultures of Mesopotamia and Crete”.

The Christian custom of Easter eggs, specifically, started among the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs with red coloring &quot;in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at His crucifixion&quot;. In addition to dyeing the eggs red, the early Christians of Mesopotamia also stained Easter eggs green and yellow.

The Christian Church officially adopted the custom, regarding the eggs as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus, with the Roman Ritual, the first edition of which was published in 1610 but which has texts of much older date, containing among the Easter Blessings of Food, one for eggs, along with those for lamb, bread, and new produce. The blessing is for consumption as a food, rather than decorated.

Sociology professor Kenneth Thompson discusses the spread of the Easter egg throughout Christendom, writing that “use of eggs at Easter seems to have come from Persia into the Greek Christian Churches of Mesopotamia, thence to Russia and Siberia through the medium of Orthodox Christianity. From the Greek Church the custom was adopted by either the Roman Catholics or the Protestants and then spread through Europe.”

 

 

 

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