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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The Pillar, the World Tree and the Kundalini

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on November 27, 2019

Bilderesultat for Asherah Pole

Bilderesultat for Asherah Pole

Relatert bilde

Relatert bilde

Asherah, Part I: The lost bride of Yahweh

Asherah, Part II: The serpent’s bride

Hermetic Principles by Zapista Zapista

Asherah, the Tree of Life and the Menorah: Continuity of a Goddess symbol in Judaism?

Why the Bible says Jesus was crucified on a cross, hung on a tree as well as impaled on a stake, or pole

True Word of Yahuah & Reality: The worship of Asherah poles are Still In Effect Today

Sacred grove

A sacred grove or sacred woods are any grove of trees that are of special religious importance to a particular culture. Sacred groves feature in various cultures throughout the world. They were important features of the mythological landscape and cult practice of Celtic, Baltic, Germanic, ancient Greek, Near Eastern, Roman, and Slavic polytheism, and continue to occur in locations such as India, Japan, and West Africa.

Examples of sacred groves include the Greco-Roman temenos, various Germanic words for sacred groves, and the Celtic nemeton, which was largely but not exclusively associated with Druidic practice. During the Northern Crusades, there was a common practice of building churches on the sites of sacred groves. Singular trees which a community deems to hold religious significance are known as sacred trees.

Asherah Pole

Biblical references to “Asherah” refer to a type of sacred pillar or tree that was erected next to Canaanite or Israelite altars in many places. These trees or groves were associated with sacred prostitution of the Canaanite fertility cult. It is connected with the cosmic or World Tree usually conceived at the centre of the earth with its roots in the Underworld and crown in Heaven.

It is also connected closely with the Menorah, described in the Bible as the seven-lamp (six branches) ancient Hebrew lampstand made of pure gold and used in the portable sanctuary set up by Moses in the wilderness and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. Fresh olive oil of the purest quality was burned daily to light its lamps. The menorah has been a symbol of Judaism since ancient times and is the emblem on the coat of arms of the modern state of Israel.

An Asherah pole is a sacred tree or pole that stood near Canaanite religious locations to honor the Ugaritic mother-goddess Asherah, consort of El. Ugaritic amulets show a miniature “tree of life” growing out of Asherah’s belly. The relation of the literary references to an asherah and archaeological finds of Judaean pillar-figurines has engendered a literature of debate.

The asherim were also cult objects related to the worship of the fertility goddess Asherah, the consort of either Ba’al or, as inscriptions from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud and Khirbet el-Qom attest, Yahweh, and thus objects of contention among competing cults.

Kuntillet Ajrud is a late 9th/early 8th centuries BCE site in the northeast part of the Sinai Peninsula while Khirbet el-Qom was an archaeological site from the West Bank, in the territory of the biblical kingdom of Judah, between Lachish and Hebron, 14 km to the west of the latter.

Kuntillet Ajrud was excavated in 1975/76 by Tel Aviv University archaeologist Ze’ev Meshel. The fortress-like main building is divided into two rooms, one large and the other small, both with low benches. Both rooms contained various paintings and inscriptions on the walls and on two large water-jars (pithoi), one found in each room.

The paintings on the pithoi show various animals, stylised trees, and human figures, some of which may represent gods. They appear to have been done over a fairly considerable period and by several different artists, and do not form coherent scenes. The iconography is entirely Syrian/Phoenician and lacks any connection to the Egyptian models commonly found in Iron Age IIB Israel art.

The inscriptions are mostly in early Hebrew with some in Phoenician script. Many are religious in nature, invoking Yahweh, El and Baal, and two include the phrases “Yahweh of Samaria and his Asherah” and “Yahweh of Teman and his Asherah.”

There is general agreement that Yahweh is being invoked in connection with Samaria (capital of the kingdom of Israel) and Teman (in Edom); this suggests that Yahweh had a temple in Samaria, and raises a question over the relationship between Yahweh and Kaus, the national god of Edom.

The “Asherah” is most likely a cultic object, although the relationship of this object (a stylised tree perhaps) to Yahweh and to the goddess Asherah, consort of El, is unclear.

An image on the piece of pottery (belonging to a pithos vase) found at Kuntillet Ajrud is adjacent to a Hebrew inscription “Berakhti etkhem l’YHVH Shomron ul’Asherato” (“I have blessed you by Yahweh of Samaria and [his] Asherah”).

Scholars disputed about the meaning and the significance of this. The two figures portrayed are generally identifiable as representing the Egyptian god Bes. Also, it is believed that part of this image was drawn after the inscription was written, namely the figure labeled as S (the leftmost humanoid figure depicted).

Bes (also spelled as Bisu), together with his feminine counterpart Beset, is an Ancient Egyptian deity worshipped as a protector of households and, in particular, of mothers, children and childbirth. Bes later came to be regarded as the defender of everything good and the enemy of all that is bad.

While past studies identified Bes as a Middle Kingdom import from Nubia or Somalia, more recent research indicates that he was present in Egypt since the Old Kingdom.

Mentions of Bes can be traced to pre-dynastic Nile Valley cultures[citation needed]; however his cult did not become widespread until the beginning of the New Kingdom. Worship of Bes spread as far north as the area of Syria, and later into the Roman and Achaemenid Empires.

In translations of the Hebrew Bible that render the Hebrew asherim into English as “Asherah poles,” the insertion of “pole” begs the question by setting up unwarranted expectations for such a wooden object: “we are never told exactly what it was”, observes John Day.

The traditional interpretation of the Biblical text is that the Israelites imported pagan elements such as the Asherah poles from the surrounding Canaanites. In light of archeological finds, however, modern scholars now theorize that the Israelite folk religion was Canaanite in its inception and always polytheistic, and it was the prophets and priests who denounced the Asherah poles who were the innovators; such theories inspire ongoing debate.

Accordingly, Asherah poles, which were sacred trees or poles, are mentioned many times in the Hebrew Bible, rendered as palus sacer (sacred poles) in the Latin Vulgate. Asherah poles were prohibited by the Deuteronomic Code which commanded “You shall not plant any tree as an Asherah beside the altar of the Lord your God”.

The prohibition, as Dever notes, is also a testament that some people were putting up Asherah poles beside Yahweh’s altars (cf. 2 Kings 21:7). Another significant biblical reference occurs in the legend of Deborah, a female ruler of Israel who held court under a sacred tree (Judges 4:5), which was preserved for many generations.

Morrow further notes that the “funeral pillars of the kings” described by Ezekiel (43:9, variously translated as “funeral offerings” or even “carcasses of the kings”) were likely constructed of sacred wood, since the prophet connects them with “prostitution.”

Like the dove and tree, the lioness made a ubiquitous symbol for goddesses of the ancient Middle East. Lionesses figure prominently in Asherah’s iconography, including the 10th century BC Ta’anach cult stand, which also includes the tree motif. A Hebrew arrowhead from 11th century BC bears the inscription “Servant of the Lion Lady.”

May Queen – Queen of May

The May Queen or Queen of May is a personification of the May Day holiday, and of springtime and also summer. The May Queen is a girl who rides or walks at the front of a parade for May Day celebrations. She wears a white gown to symbolise purity and usually a tiara or crown.

Her duty is to begin the May Day celebrations. She is generally crowned by flowers and makes a speech before the dancing begins. Certain age-groups dance round a Maypole celebrating youth and the spring time.

In the High Middle Ages in England the May Queen was also known as the “Summer Queen”. George C. Homans points out: “The time from Hocktide, after Easter Week, to Lammas (1 August) was summer (estas).”

English historian Ronald Hutton concurs with Swedish scholar Carl Wilhelm von Sydow who stated that maypoles were erected “simply” as “signs that the happy season of warmth and comfort had returned.”

Their shape allowed for garlands to be hung from them and were first seen, at least in the British Isles, between AD 1350 and 1400 within the context of medieval Christian European culture.

In 1588, at Holy Trinity Church in Exeter, villagers gathered around the ‘summer rod’ for feasting and drinking. Chaucer mentions that a particularly large maypole stood at St Andrew Undershaft, which was collectively erected by church parishioners annually due to its large shape.

The symbolism of the maypole has been continuously debated by folklorists for centuries, although no definitive answer has been found. Some scholars classify maypoles as symbols of the world axis (axis mundi).

The fact that they were found primarily in areas of Germanic Europe, where, prior to Christianisation, Germanic paganism was followed in various forms, has led to speculation by some that the maypoles were in some way a relic of a Germanic pagan tradition.

James George Frazer speculated that the figure of the May Queen was linked to ancient tree worship and that they were a remnant of the Germanic reverence for sacred trees, as there is evidence for various sacred trees and wooden pillars that were venerated by the pagans across much of Germanic Europe, including Thor’s Oak and the Irminsul.

Ronald Hutton, however, states that “there is absolutely no evidence that the maypole was regarded as a reflection of it.” It is also known that, in Norse paganism, cosmological views held that the universe was a world tree, known as Yggdrasil.

Some observers have proposed phallic symbolism, an idea which was expressed by Thomas Hobbes, who erroneously believed that the poles dated back to the Roman worship of the god Priapus, a minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia.

This notion has been supported by various figures since, including the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. Phallic symbolism has been attributed to the maypole in the later Early Modern period. However, Ronald Hutton has stated, however, that there is no historical basis for this claim, and no sign that the people who used maypoles thought that they were phallic and that they were not carved to appear so.

The anthropologist Mircea Eliade theorizes that the maypoles were simply a part of the general rejoicing at the return of summer, and the growth of new vegetation. In this way, they bore similarities with the May Day garlands which were also a common festival practice in Britain and Ireland.

Priapus

Priapus is marked by his oversized, permanent erection, which gave rise to the medical term priapism. He became a popular figure in Roman erotic art and Latin literature, and is the subject of the often humorously obscene collection of verse called the Priapeia.

Priapus was described as the son of Aphrodite by Dionysus, or the son of Dionysus and Chione, perhaps as the father or son of Hermes, and the son of Zeus or Pan, depending on the source. He was represented in a variety of ways, most commonly as a misshapen gnome-like figure with an enormous erect phallus. Statues of Priapus were common in ancient Greece and Rome, standing in gardens.

The phallus is also associated with “possession and territorial demarcation” in many cultures, attributing to Priapus’ other role as a navigational deity.  Priapus’ role as a patron god for merchant sailors in ancient Greece and Rome is that of a protector and navigational aide. Priapus’ protection traits can be traced back to the importance placed on the phallus in ancient times (particularly his association with fertility and garden protection).

In Greece, the phallus was thought of to have a mind of its own, animal-like, separate from the mind and control of the man. The Athenians often conflated Priapush Hermes, the god of boundaries, and depicted a hybrid deity with a winged helmet, sandals, and huge erection.

Hermaphroditus

In Greek mythology, Hermaphroditus or Hermaphroditos, the basis for the word hermaphrodite, was the son of Aphrodite and Hermes (Venus and Mercury). According to Ovid, he was born a remarkably handsome boy with whom the naiad Salmacis fell in love and prayed to be united forever.

A god, in answer to her prayer, merged their two forms into one and transformed them into an androgynous form. His name is compounded of his parents’ names, Hermes and Aphrodite. He was one of the Erotes.

Hermaphroditus, the two-sexed child of Aphrodite and Hermes had long been a symbol of androgyny or effeminacy, and was portrayed in Greco-Roman art as a female figure with male genitals. Theophrastus’s account also suggests a link between Hermaphroditus and the institution of marriage.

Because Hermaphroditus was a son of Hermes, and consequently a great-grandson of Atlas, sometimes he is called Atlantiades. Hermaphroditus’ father, Hermes, was also called Atlantiades because his mother, Maia was the daughter of Atlas.

The deification and the origins of the cult of hermaphrodite beings stem from Eastern religions, where the hermaphrodite nature expressed the idea of a primitive being that united both genders. This double sex also attributed to Dionysus and Priapus – the union in one being of the two principles of generation and conception – denotes extensive fertilizing and productive powers.

The oldest traces of the cult in Greek countries are found in Cyprus. Here, according to Macrobius, there was a bearded statue of a male Aphrodite, called Aphroditus by Aristophanes. This Cyprian Aphrodite is the same as the later Hermaphroditos, which simply means Aphroditos in the form of a herma, and first occurs in the Characters of Theophrastus.

The earliest mention of Hermaphroditus in Greek literature is by the philosopher Theophrastus (3rd century BC), in his book The Characters, XVI The Superstitious Man, in which he portrays various types of eccentric people.

Irminsul

Sacred trees and sacred groves were widely venerated by the Germanic peoples (including Donar’s Oak), and the oldest chronicle describing an Irminsul (Old Saxon ‘great pillar’), a sacred pillar-like object attested as playing an important role in the Germanic paganism of the Saxons, refers to it as a tree trunk erected in the open air.

The Old Saxon word compound Irminsûl means ‘great pillar’. The first element, Irmin- (‘great’) is cognate with terms with some significance elsewhere in Germanic mythology.

Among the North Germanic peoples, the Old Norse form of Irmin is Jörmunr, which just like Yggr is one of the names of Odin. 19th century scholar Jakob Grimm connects the name Irmin with Old Norse terms like iörmungrund (“great ground”, i.e. the Earth) or iörmungandr (“great snake”, i.e. the Midgard serpent).

In Old English, Odin was known as Wōden; in Old Saxon, as Wōdan; and in Old High German, as Wuotan or Wōtan. In the 2001 Neil Gaiman novel American Gods, as well as the 2017 television series based on it, Odin goes mainly by the name Mr. Wednesday.

This is a nod to the fact that the modern English name of the day Wednesday is, itself, derived from the Old English Wōdnesdæg (pronounced [ˈwoːdnezdæj]), which meant Day of Woden or Woden’s Day. In other languages, such as the French mercredi or Italian mercoledì, the day’s name is a calque of dies Mercurii “day of Mercury”.

According to the Royal Frankish Annals (772 AD), during the Saxon wars, Charlemagne is repeatedly described as ordering the destruction of the chief seat of their religion, an Irminsul. The Irminsul is described as not being far from Heresburg (now Obermarsberg), Germany.

Jacob Grimm states that “strong reasons” point to the actual location of the Irminsul as being approximately 15 miles (24 km) away, in the Teutoburg Forest and states that the original name for the region “Osning” may have meant “Holy Wood.”

The Benedictine monk Rudolf of Fulda (AD 865) provides a description of an Irminsul in chapter 3 of his Latin work De miraculis sancti Alexandri. Rudolf’s description states that the Irminsul was a great wooden pillar erected and worshipped beneath the open sky and that its name, Irminsul, signifies universal all-sustaining pillar.

A Germanic god Irmin, inferred from the name Irminsûl and the tribal name Irminones, is in some older scholarship presumed to have been the national god or demi-god of the Saxons. It has been suggested that Irmin was more probably an aspect or epithet of some other deity – most likely Wodan (Odin).

Among other sources the prefix “Irmin” is documented in the Irminsul “great pillar that supports all”/”Columna Universalis Sustenans Omni”, as described in Einhards ‘Vita Karoli Magni’, and informed by Tacitus (~1st century) via a mentioned Germanic tribe name of Hermiones; the Old Saxon adjective irmin being synonymous to “great, strong”. As such it may also have been an epithet of later deities like Ziu (Týr) or Wodan (Odin)).

The Irminones, also referred to as Herminones or Hermiones (Ancient Greek: Ἑρμίονες), were a large group of early Germanic tribes settling in the Elbe watershed and by the 1st century AD expanding into Bavaria, Swabia and Bohemia. Notably this included the large sub-group of the Suevi, that itself contained many different tribal groups, but the Irminones also for example included the Chatti.

Irminonic or Elbe Germanic is also therefore a term for one of the unattested dialect groups ancestral to the West Germanic language family, especially the High German languages, which include modern Standard German.

Irmin might also have been an epithet of the god Ziu (Tyr) in early Germanic times, only later transferred to Odin, as certain scholars subscribe to the idea that Odin replaced Tyr as the chief Germanic deity at the onset of the Migration Period. This was the favored view of early 20th century Nordicist writers, but it is not generally considered likely in modern times.

Tyr

Týr (Old Norse), Tíw (Old English), and Ziu (Old High German) is a god in Germanic mythology. Stemming from the Proto-Germanic deity *Tīwaz and ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European chief deity *Dyeus, little information about the god survives beyond Old Norse sources.

Due to the etymology of the god’s name and the shadowy presence of the god in the extant Germanic corpus, some scholars propose that Týr may have once held a more central place among the deities of early Germanic mythology.

Týr is the namesake of the Tiwaz rune (ᛏ), a letter of the runic alphabet corresponding to the Latin letter T. By way of the process of interpretatio germanica, the deity is the namesake of Tuesday (‘Týr’s day’) in Germanic languages, including English.

Interpretatio romana, in which Romans interpreted other gods as forms of their own, generally renders the god as Mars, the ancient Roman war god, and it is through that lens that most Latin references to the god occur.

For example, the god may be referenced as Mars Thingsus (Latin ‘Mars of the Thing’) on 3rd century Latin inscription, reflecting a strong association with the Germanic thing, a legislative body or governing assembly among the ancient Germanic peoples in early Germanic society, made up of the free people of the community presided over by lawspeakers.

In Norse mythology, from which most surviving narratives about gods among the Germanic peoples stem, Týr sacrifices his arm to the monstrous wolf Fenrir, who bites off his limb while the gods bind the animal. Týr is foretold to be consumed by the similarly monstrous dog Garmr during the events of Ragnarök.

In Old Norse sources, Týr is alternately described as the son of the jötunn Hymir (in Hymiskviða) or of the god Odin (in Skáldskaparmál). Lokasenna makes reference to an unnamed otherwise unknown consort, perhaps also reflected in the continental Germanic record.

Yggdrasil

Yggdrasil (from Old Norse Yggdrasill; Old Norse meaning ‘Yggr’s horse’) is a immense and mythical cosmic tree from which Odin sacrificed himself. It plays a central role in Norse cosmology, where it connects the Nine Worlds.

Yggdrasil is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Yggdrasil is an immense ash tree that is center to the cosmos and considered very holy.

The gods go to Yggdrasil daily to assemble at their things, traditional governing assemblies. The branches of Yggdrasil extend far into the heavens, and the tree is supported by three roots that extend far away into other locations; one to the well Urðarbrunnr in the heavens, one to the spring Hvergelmir, and another to the well Mímisbrunnr. Creatures live within Yggdrasil, including the dragon Níðhöggr, an unnamed eagle, and the stags Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraþrór.

Conflicting scholarly theories have been proposed about the etymology of the name Yggdrasill, the possibility that the tree is of another species than ash, its connection to the many sacred trees and groves in Germanic paganism and mythology, and the fate of Yggdrasil during the events of Ragnarök.

The generally accepted meaning of Old Norse Yggdrasill is “Odin’s horse”, meaning “gallows”. This interpretation comes about because drasill means “horse” and Ygg(r) is one of Odin’s many names.

The Poetic Edda poem Hávamál describes how Odin sacrificed himself by hanging from a tree, making this tree Odin’s gallows. This tree may have been Yggdrasil. Gallows can be called “the horse of the hanged” and therefore Odin’s gallows may have developed into the expression “Odin’s horse”, which then became the name of the tree.

Nevertheless, scholarly opinions regarding the precise meaning of the name Yggdrasill vary, particularly on the issue of whether Yggdrasill is the name of the tree itself or if only the full term askr Yggdrasil (where Old Norse askr means “ash tree”) refers specifically to the tree.

According to this interpretation, askr Yggdrasils would mean the world tree upon which “the horse [Odin’s horse] of the highest god [Odin] is bound”. Both of these etymologies rely on a presumed but unattested *Yggsdrasill.

A third interpretation, presented by F. Detter, is that the name Yggdrasill refers to the word yggr (“terror”), yet not in reference to the Odinic name, and so Yggdrasill would then mean “tree of terror, gallows”. F. R. Schröder has proposed a fourth etymology according to which yggdrasill means “yew pillar”, deriving yggia from *igwja (meaning “yew-tree”), and drasill from *dher- (meaning “support”).

Hilda Ellis Davidson comments that the existence of nine worlds around Yggdrasil is mentioned more than once in Old Norse sources, but the identity of the worlds is never stated outright, though it can be deduced from various sources. Davidson opines that “those who have tried to produce a convincing diagram of the Scandinavian cosmos from what we are told in the sources have only added to the confusion”.

Davidson comments that “no doubt the identity of the nine varied from time to time as the emphasis changed or new imagery arrived”. Davidson says that it is unclear where the nine worlds are located in relation to the tree; they could either exist one above the other or perhaps be grouped around the tree, but there are references to worlds existing beneath the tree, while the gods are pictured as in the sky, a rainbow bridge (Bifröst) connecting the tree with other worlds.

Davidson notes parallels between Yggdrasil and shamanic lore in northern Eurasia: The conception of the tree rising through a number of worlds is found in northern Eurasia and forms part of the shamanic lore shared by many peoples of this region.

This seems to be a very ancient conception, perhaps based on the Pole Star, the centre of the heavens, and the image of the central tree in Scandinavia may have been influenced by it…. Among Siberian shamans, a central tree may be used as a ladder to ascend the heavens.

Davidson says that the notion of an eagle atop a tree and the world serpent coiled around the roots of the tree has parallels in other cosmologies from Asia. She goes on to say that Norse cosmology may have been influenced by these Asiatic cosmologies from a northern location.

Davidson adds, on the other hand, that it is attested that the Germanic peoples worshiped their deities in open forest clearings and that a sky god was particularly connected with the oak tree, and therefore “a central tree was a natural symbol for them also”.

Connections have been proposed between the wood Hoddmímis holt (Old Norse “Hoard-Mímir’s” holt) and the tree Mímameiðr (“Mímir’s tree”), generally thought to refer to the world tree Yggdrasil, and the spring Mímisbrunnr.

John Lindow concurs that Mímameiðr may be another name for Yggdrasil and that if the Hoard-Mímir of the name Hoddmímis holt is the same figure as Mímir (associated with the spring named after him, Mímisbrunnr), then the Mímir’s holt—Yggdrasil—and Mímir’s spring may be within the same proximity.

Carolyne Larrington notes that it is nowhere expressly stated what will happen to Yggdrasil during the events of Ragnarök. Larrington points to a connection between the primordial figure of Mímir and Yggdrasil in the poem Völuspá, and theorizes that “it is possible that Hoddmimir is another name for Mimir, and that the two survivors hide in Yggdrasill.”

Rudolf Simek theorizes that the survival of Líf and Lífþrasir through Ragnarök by hiding in Hoddmímis holt is “a case of reduplication of the anthropogeny, understandable from the cyclic nature of the Eddic eschatology.”

According to Simek Hoddmímis holt “should not be understood literally as a wood or even a forest in which the two keep themselves hidden, but rather as an alternative name for the world-tree Yggdrasill. Thus, the creation of mankind from tree trunks (Askr, Embla) is repeated after the Ragnarǫk as well.”

Simek says that in Germanic regions, the concept of mankind originating from trees is ancient. He additionally points out legendary parallels in a Bavarian legend of a shepherd who lives inside a tree, whose descendants repopulate the land after life there has been wiped out by plague. In addition, he points to an Old Norse parallel in the figure of Örvar-Oddr, who is rejuvenated after living as a tree-man.

Continuing as late as the 19th century, warden trees were venerated in areas of Germany and Scandinavia, considered to be guardians and bringers of luck, and offerings were sometimes made to them. A massive birch tree standing atop a burial mound and located beside a farm in western Norway is recorded as having had ale poured over its roots during festivals. The tree was felled in 1874.

Davidson comments that “the position of the tree in the centre as a source of luck and protection for gods and men is confirmed” by these rituals to Warden Trees. Davidson notes that the gods are described as meeting beneath Yggdrasil to hold their things, and that the pillars venerated by the Germanic peoples, such as the pillar Irminsul, were also symbolic of the center of the world.

Davidson details that it would be difficult to ascertain whether a tree or pillar came first, and that this likely depends on if the holy location was in a thickly wooded area or not. Davidson notes that there is no mention of a sacred tree at Þingvellir in Iceland yet that Adam of Bremen describes a huge tree standing next to the Temple at Uppsala in Sweden, which Adam describes as remaining green throughout summer and winter, and that no one knew what type of tree it was.

Davidson comments that while it is uncertain that Adam’s informant actually witnessed that tree is unknown, but that the existence of sacred trees in pre-Christian Germanic Europe is further evidenced by records of their destruction by early Christian missionaries, such as Thor’s Oak by Saint Boniface. Ken Dowden comments that behind Irminsul, Thor’s Oak in Geismar, and the sacred tree at Uppsala “looms a mythic prototype, an Yggdrasil, the world-ash of the Norsemen”.

Níðhöggr

Yggdrasil is a tree central to the Norse concept of the cosmos. The tree’s branches extend into various realms, and various creatures dwell on and around it. The gods go to Yggdrasil daily to assemble at their things, traditional governing assemblies.

The branches of Yggdrasil extend far into the heavens, and the tree is supported by three roots that extend far away into other locations; one to the well Urðarbrunnr in the heavens, one to the spring Hvergelmir, and another to the well Mímisbrunnr.

Creatures live within Yggdrasil, including the dragon Níðhöggr (“Malice Striker”, traditionally also spelled Níðhǫggr, often anglicized Nidhogg), an unnamed eagle, and the stags Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraþrór.

Níðhöggr is a dragon/serpent who gnaws at a root of the world tree, Yggdrasil. In historical Viking society, níð was a term for a social stigma implying the loss of honor and the status of a villain.

Thus, its name might refer to its role as a horrific monster in its action of chewing the corpses of the inhabitants of Náströnd: those guilty of murder, adultery, and oath-breaking, which Norse society considered among the worst possible.

Samuel Noah Kramer (1932, published 1938) translated ki-sikil-lil-la-ke as Lilith in “Tablet XII” of the Epic of Gilgamesh dated c.600 BCE. “Tablet XII” is not part of the Epic of Gilgamesh, but is a later Assyrian Akkadian translation of the latter part of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh. The ki-sikil-lil-la-ke is associated with a serpent and a zu bird.

In Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld, a huluppu tree grows in Inanna’s garden in Uruk, whose wood she plans to use to build a new throne. After ten years of growth, she comes to harvest it and finds a serpent living at its base, a Zu bird raising young in its crown, and that a ki-sikil-lil-la-ke made a house in its trunk. Gilgamesh is said to have killed the snake, and then the zu bird flew away to the mountains with its young, while the ki-sikil-lil-la-ke fearfully destroys its house and runs for the forest.

Identification of ki-sikil-lil-la-ke as Lilith is stated in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (1999). A connection between the Gilgamesh ki-sikil-lil-la-ke and the Jewish Lilith was rejected by Dietrich Opitz (1932) and rejected on textual grounds by Sergio Ribichini (1978).

According to a new source from Late Antiquity, Lilith appears in a Mandaic magic story where she is considered to represent the branches of a tree with other demonic figures that form other parts of the tree, though this may also include multiple “Liliths”.

Suggested translations for the Tablet XII spirit in the tree include ki-sikil as “sacred place”, lil as “spirit”, and lil-la-ke as “water spirit”. but also simply “owl”, given that the lil is building a home in the trunk of the tree.

Jörmungandr

Jǫrmun, the Viking Age Norse form of the name Irmin, can be found in a number of places in the Poetic Edda as a by-name for Odin. Some aspects of the Irminones’ culture and beliefs may be inferred from their relationships with the Roman Empire, from Widukind’s confusion over whether Irmin was comparable to Mars or Hermes, and from Snorri Sturluson’s allusions, at the beginning of the Prose Edda, to Odin’s cult having appeared first in Germany, and then having spread up into the Ingvaeonic North.

In Norse mythology, Jörmungandr (Old Norse: Jǫrmungandr, meaning “huge monster”), also known as the Midgard (World) Serpent (Old Norse: Miðgarðsormr), is a sea serpent, the middle child of the giantess Angrboða and Loki.

According to the Prose Edda, Odin took Loki’s three children by Angrboða—the wolf Fenrir, Hel, and Jörmungandr—and tossed Jörmungandr into the great ocean that encircles Midgard. The serpent grew so large that it was able to surround the earth and grasp its own tail. As a result, it received the name of the Midgard Serpent or World Serpent. When it releases its tail, Ragnarök will begin. Jörmungandr’s arch-enemy is the thunder-god, Thor. It is an example of an ouroboros.

One sign for the coming of Ragnarok is the violent unrest of the sea as Jörmungandr releases its tail from its mouth and thrashes its way onto land. Fenrir will set ablaze one half of the world with fire while Jörmungandr sprays poison to fill the skies and seas of the other half. Fenrir and Jörmungandr will then join the sons of Muspell into the plain of Vigrid.

Here is where the last meeting between the serpent and Thor is predicted to occur. Thor will become occupied with battling the serpent and is unable to help others as they fight their own battles. He will eventually kill Jörmungandr but will fall dead after walking nine paces, having been poisoned by the serpent’s deadly venom.

The motif of Chaoskampf (“struggle against chaos”) is ubiquitous in myth and legend, depicting a battle of a culture hero deity with a chaos monster, often in the shape of a serpent or dragon. The same term has also been extended to parallel concepts in the Middle East and North Africa, such as the abstract conflict of ideas in the Egyptian duality of Maat and Isfet or the battle of Horus and Set.

The origins of the Chaoskampf myth most likely lie in the Proto-Indo-European religion the descendants of which almost all feature some variation of the story of a storm god fighting a sea serpent representing the clash between the forces of order and chaos. Early work by German academics such as Gunkel and Bousset in comparative mythology popularized translating the mythological sea serpent as a “dragon.”

In the religion of ancient Babylon, Tiamat (Akkadian: DTI.AMAT or DTAM.TUM, Greek: Thaláttē) 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 the heavens and the Earth from her divided body.

Hermes

In Ancient Greece, Hermes, the god of trade, heralds, merchants, commerce, roads, thieves, trickery, sports, travelers, and athletes in Ancient Greek religion and mythology, was a phallic god of boundaries. His name, in the form herma, was applied to a wayside marker pile of stones; each traveler added a stone to the pile.

In the 6th century BC, Hipparchos, the son of Pisistratus, replaced the cairns that marked the midway point between each village deme at the central agora of Athens with a square or rectangular pillar of stone or bronze topped by a bust of Hermes with a beard.

An erect phallus rose from the base. In the more primitive Mount Kyllini or Cyllenian herms, the standing stone or wooden pillar was simply a carved phallus. In Athens, herms were placed outside houses for good luck. “That a monument of this kind could be transformed into an Olympian god is astounding,” Walter Burkert remarked.

Hermes is the son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia, he was the second youngest of the Olympian gods (Dionysus being the youngest). Hermes was the emissary and messenger of the gods. He was also “the divine trickster” and “the god of boundaries and the transgression of boundaries, … the patron of herdsmen, thieves, graves, and heralds.”

He is described as moving freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, and was the conductor of souls into the afterlife. He was also viewed as the protector and patron of roads and travelers. In some myths, he is a trickster and outwits other gods for his own satisfaction or for the sake of humankind. His attributes and symbols include the herma, the rooster, the tortoise, satchel or pouch, winged sandals, and winged cap.

In the Roman adaptation of the Greek pantheon, Hermes is identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics such as being the patron of commerce. His main symbol is the Greek kerykeion or Latin caduceus, which appears in a form of two snakes wrapped around a winged staff with carvings of the other gods.

Mercury

Mercury (Latin: Mercurius) is a major god in Roman religion and mythology, being one of the 12 Dii Consentes within the ancient Roman pantheon. He is the god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence, messages, communication (including divination), boundaries, luck and trickery. He is the protector of merchants, shepherds, travelers, gamblers, liars, and thieves. He also serves as the guide of souls to the underworld.

He was considered the son of Maia, who was a daughter of the Titan Atlas, and Jupiter in Roman mythology. In his earliest forms, he appears to have been related to the Etruscan deity Turms; both gods share characteristics with the Greek god Hermes.

His name is possibly related to the Latin word merx (“merchandise”; cf. merchant, commerce, etc.), mercari (to trade), and merces (wages); another possible connection is the Proto-Indo-European root merĝ- for “boundary, border” (cf. Old English “mearc”, Old Norse “mark” and Latin “margō”) and Greek οὖρος (by analogy of Arctūrus/Ἀρκτοῦρος), as the “keeper of boundaries,” referring to his role as bridge between the upper and lower worlds.

He is often depicted holding the caduceus in his left hand. Similar to his Greek equivalent Hermes, he was awarded the caduceus by Apollo who handed him a magic wand, which later turned into the caduceus.

When they described the gods of Celtic and Germanic tribes, rather than considering them separate deities, the Romans interpreted them as local manifestations or aspects of their own gods, a cultural trait called the interpretatio Romana.

Mercury, in particular, was reported as becoming extremely popular among the nations the Roman Empire conquered; Julius Caesar wrote of Mercury being the most popular god in Britain and Gaul, regarded as the inventor of all the arts.

This is probably because, in the Roman syncretism, Mercury was equated with the Celtic god Lugus, and in this aspect was commonly accompanied by the Celtic goddess Rosmerta. Although Lugus may originally have been a deity of light or the sun (though this is disputed), similar to the Roman Apollo, his importance as a god of trade made him more comparable to Mercury, and Apollo was instead equated with the Celtic deity Belenus.

Romans associated Mercury with the Germanic god Wotan, by interpretatio Romana; 1st-century Roman writer Tacitus identifies him as the chief god of the Germanic peoples. Odin is a widely revered god in Germanic mythology. In wider Germanic mythology and paganism, the god was known in Old English as Wōden, in Old Saxon as Wōdan, and in Old High German as Wuotan.

In Norse mythology, from which stems most surviving information about the god, Odin is associated with wisdom, healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, war, battle, victory, sorcery, poetry, frenzy, and the runic alphabet, and is the husband of the goddess Frigg.

Ninshubar

Ninshubur (also known as Ninshubar, Nincubura or Ninšubur) was the sukkal or second-in-command of the goddess Inanna in Sumerian mythology. Her name means “Queen of the East” in ancient Sumerian. Much like Iris or Hermes in later Greek mythology, Ninshubur served as a messenger to the other gods.

Ninshubur accompanied Inanna as a vassal and friend throughout Inanna’s many exploits. She helped Inanna fight Enki’s demons after Inanna’s theft of the sacred me. Later, when Inanna became trapped in the Underworld, it was Ninshubur who pleaded with Enki for her mistress’s release.

In later Akkadian mythology, Ninshubur was syncretized with the male messenger deity Papsukkal, who acts as both messenger and gatekeeper for the rest of the pantheon. In older sources, Ninshubur herself is usually referred to as a male god as well; more recent sources have recognized this portrayal as erroneous.

The gender of a sukkal always matches the gender of the deity it serves. Thus, Enki’s sukkal Isimud is male, but Ninshubur is female. In her primary aspect as the sukkal to Inanna, Ninshubur was female, but, when she served as the sukkal to An, he was male.

In Sumerian mythology, Ninshubur is portrayed as “unshakably loyal” in her devotion to her mistress. In addition to being a source of great wisdom and knowledge, Ninshubur was also a warrior goddess. She was the guardian and messenger of the god An. She is said to have walked in front of An wherever he went, a position traditionally reserved for a bodyguard.

Ninshubur was an important figure in ancient Sumerian mythology and she played an integral role in several myths involving her mistress, the goddess, Inanna. In the Sumerian myth of “Inanna and Enki,” Ninshubur is described as the one who rescues Inanna from the monsters that Enki has sent after her. In this myth, Ninshubur plays a similar role to Isimud, who acts as Enki’s messenger to Inanna.

In the Sumerian myth of Inanna’s descent into the Netherworld, Ninshubur is described as the one who pleads with all the gods in an effort to persuade them to rescue Inanna from the Netherworld.

Mercury

Mercury, who represents the principles of communication, mentality, thinking patterns, rationality and reasoning, and adaptability and variability, is the ruling planet of both Virgo and Gemini and is exalted in Virgo and Aquarius. Mercury rules over Wednesday, alongside Uranus, since Uranus is in the higher octave of Mercury. In Romance languages, the word for Wednesday is often similar to Mercury.

Uranus is the modern ruling planet of Aquarius and is exalted in Scorpio. In classical Greek mythology, Uranus is the personification of the sky. Uranus is very unusual among the planets in that it rotates on its side, so that it presents each of its poles to the Sun in turn during its orbit; causing both hemispheres to alternate between being bathed in light and lying in total darkness over the course of the orbit.

Astrological interpretations associate Uranus with the principles of ingenuity, new or unconventional ideas, individuality, discoveries, electricity, inventions, democracy, and revolutions. Uranus, among all planets, most governs genius. Uranus governs societies, clubs, and any group based on humanitarian or progressive ideals. Uranus, the planet of sudden and unexpected changes, rules freedom and originality.

Pluto, called “the great renewer”, and is considered to represent the part of a person that destroys in order to renew, through bringing buried, but intense needs and drives to the surface, and expressing them, even at the expense of the existing order, is the modern ruling planet of Scorpio and is exalted in Virgo.

In classical Roman mythology, Pluto is the god of the underworld who is extremely wealthy. The alchemical symbol was given to Pluto on its discovery, three centuries after alchemical practices had all but disappeared. The alchemical symbol can therefore be read as spirit over mind, transcending matter. A commonly used keyword for Pluto is “transformation”.

Pluto is associated with power and personal mastery, and the need to cooperate and share with another, if each is not to be destroyed. Pluto governs major business and enormous wealth, mining, surgery and detective work, and any enterprise that involves digging under the surface to bring the truth to light. Pluto is also associated with Tuesday, alongside Mars since Pluto is the higher octave of that planet in astrology.

In old opinion, Ceres, the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, is the ruling planet of Virgo, but the majority opinion of modern astrologers denotes Ceres being the ruler for Taurus. However, Ceres is exalted in Virgo.

The goddess (and metaphorically the planet) is also associated with the reproductive issues of an adult woman, as well as pregnancy and other major transitions in a woman’s life, including the nine months of gestation time, family bonds and relationships.

In an updated revision, Taurus is also ruled by Chiron with that very same centaur having an astrological maverick character being a co-ruler to Virgo, and exalted in Sagittarius. The Moon is the ruling planet of Cancer and is exalted in Taurus. In classical Roman mythology, the Moon was Luna, at times identified with Diana.

Although a mother, Ceres is also the archetype of a virgin goddess. Ceres epitomizes independent women who are often unmarried (since, according to myth, Ceres is an unmarried goddess who chose to become a mother without a husband or partner.) While the moon represents our ideal of “motherhood”, Ceres would represent how our real and natural motherhood should be.

Caduceus

The caduceus (from Greek: kērū́keion “herald’s wand, or staff”) is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology and consequently by Hermes Trismegistus in Greco-Egyptian mythology.

The same staff was also borne by heralds in general, for example by Iris, the messenger of Hera. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings. In Roman iconography, it was often depicted being carried in the left hand of Mercury.

Some accounts suggest that the oldest known imagery of the caduceus has its roots in a Mesopotamian origin with the Sumerian god Ningishzida; whose symbol, a staff with two snakes intertwined around it, dates back to 4000 BC to 3000 BC.

As a symbolic object, it represents Hermes (or the Roman Mercury), and by extension trades, occupations, or undertakings associated with the god. In later Antiquity, the caduceus provided the basis for the astrological symbol representing the planet Mercury.

Thus, through its use in astrology, alchemy, and astronomy it has come to denote the planet and elemental metal of the same name. It is said the wand would wake the sleeping and send the awake to sleep. If applied to the dying, their death was gentle; if applied to the dead, they returned to life.

By extension of its association with Mercury and Hermes, the caduceus is also a recognized symbol of commerce and negotiation, two realms in which balanced exchange and reciprocity are recognized as ideals.

This association is ancient, and consistent from the Classical period to modern times. The caduceus is also used as a symbol representing printing, again by extension of the attributes of Mercury (in this case associated with writing and eloquence).

The caduceus is often incorrectly used as a symbol of healthcare organizations and medical practice, particularly in the United States of America, due to confusion with the traditional medical symbol, the Rod of Asclepius, which has only one snake and is never depicted with wings.

William Hayes Ward (1910) discovered that symbols similar to the classical caduceus sometimes appeared on Mesopotamian cylinder seals. He suggested the symbol originated some time between 3000 and 4000 BC, and that it might have been the source of the Greek caduceus.

A.L. Frothingham incorporated Dr. Ward’s research into his own work, published in 1916, in which he suggested that the prototype of Hermes was an “Oriental deity of Babylonian extraction” represented in his earliest form as a snake god.

From this perspective, the caduceus was originally representative of Hermes himself, in his early form as the Underworld god Ningishzida, “messenger” of the “Earth Mother”. The caduceus is mentioned in passing by Walter Burkert as “really the image of copulating snakes taken over from Ancient Near Eastern tradition”.

The Homeric hymn to Hermes relates how Hermes offered his lyre fashioned from a tortoise shell as compensation for the cattle he stole from his half brother Apollo. Apollo in return gave Hermes the caduceus as a gesture of friendship. The association with the serpent thus connects Hermes to Apollo, as later the serpent was associated with Asclepius, the “son of Apollo”.

The association of Apollo with the serpent is a continuation of the older Indo-European dragon-slayer motif. Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher (1913) pointed out that the serpent as an attribute of both Hermes and Asclepius is a variant of the “pre-historic semi-chthonic serpent hero known at Delphi as Python”, who in classical mythology is slain by Apollo.

One Greek myth of origin of the caduceus is part of the story of Tiresias, who found two snakes copulating and killed the female with his staff. Tiresias was immediately turned into a woman, and so remained until he was able to repeat the act with the male snake seven years later. This staff later came into the possession of the god Hermes, along with its transformative powers.

Another myth suggests that Hermes (or Mercury) saw two serpents entwined in mortal combat. Separating them with his wand he brought about peace between them, and as a result the wand with two serpents came to be seen as a sign of peace. In Rome, Livy refers to the caduceator who negotiated peace arrangements under the diplomatic protection of the caduceus he carried.

In some vase paintings ancient depictions of the Greek kerukeion are somewhat different from the commonly seen modern representation. These representations feature the two snakes atop the staff (or rod), crossed to create a circle with the heads of the snakes resembling horns. This old graphic form, with an additional crossbar to the staff, seems to have provided the basis for the graphical sign of Mercury (☿) used in Greek astrology from Late Antiquity.

Djed

In Egyptian iconography, the Djed pillar (Ancient Egyptian: ḏd, Coptic jōt “pillar”), one of the more ancient and commonly found symbols in ancient Egyptian religion, is depicted as containing a snake in a frieze of the Dendera Temple complex.

The djed is a pillar-like symbol in Egyptian hieroglyphs representing stability. It is associated with the creator god Ptah and Osiris, the Egyptian god of the afterlife, the underworld, and the dead. It is commonly understood to represent his spine.

In the Osiris myth, Osiris was killed by Set by being tricked into a coffin made to fit Osiris exactly. Set then had the coffin with the now deceased Osiris flung into the Nile. The coffin was carried by the Nile to the ocean and on to the city of Byblos in Lebanon.

It ran aground and a sacred tree took root and rapidly grew around the coffin, enclosing the coffin within its trunk. The king of the land, intrigued by the tree’s quick growth, ordered the tree cut down and installed as a pillar in his palace, unaware that the tree contained Osiris’s body.

Meanwhile, Isis searched for Osiris aided by Anubis, and came to know of Osiris’s location in Byblos. Isis maneuvered herself into the favor of the king and queen and was granted a boon. She asked for the pillar in the palace hall, and upon being granted it, extracted the coffin from the pillar. She then consecrated the pillar, anointing it with myrrh and wrapping it in linen. This pillar came to be known as the pillar of djed.

The djed may originally have been a fertility cult related pillar made from reeds or sheaves or a totem from which sheaves of grain were suspended or grain was piled around. Erich Neumann remarks that the djed pillar is a tree fetish, which is significant considering that Egypt was primarily treeless. He indicates that the myth may represent the importance of the importation of trees by Egypt from Syria.

The djed came to be associated with Seker, the falcon god of the Memphite Necropolis, then with Ptah, the Memphite patron god of craftsmen. Ptah was often referred to as “the noble djed”, and carried a scepter that was a combination of the djed symbol and the ankh, the symbol of life. Ptah gradually came to be assimilated into Osiris. By the time of the New Kingdom, the djed was firmly associated with Osiris.

In their 2004 book The Quick and the Dead: Biomedical Theory in Ancient Egypt, Andrew Hunt Gordon and Calvin W. Schwabe speculated that the ankh, djed, and was symbols have a biological basis derived from ancient cattle culture (linked to the Egyptian belief that semen was created in the spine).

Thus: the ankh, symbol of life, thoracic vertebra of a bull (seen in cross section), the djed, symbol of stability, base on sacrum of a bull’s spine, and the was-sceptre, symbol of power and dominion, a staff featuring the head and tail of the god Set, “great of strength”.

The djed hieroglyph was a pillar-like symbol that represented stability. It was also sometimes used to represent Osiris himself, often combined “with a pair of eyes between the crossbars and holding the crook and flail.”

Parallels have also been drawn between the djed pillar and various items in other cultures. Sidney Smith in 1922, first suggested a parallel with the Assyrian “sacred tree” when he drew attention to the presence of the upper four bands of the djed pillar and the bands that are present in the center of the vertical portion of the tree.

He also proposed a common origin between Osiris and the Assyrian god Assur with whom he said, the sacred tree might be associated. Cohen and Kangas suggest that the tree is probably associated with the Sumerian god of male fertility, Enki and that for both Osiris and Enki, an erect pole or polelike symbol stands beneath a celestial symbol.

They also point out that the Assyrian king is depicted in proximity to the sacred tree, which is similar to the depiction of the pharaoh in the raising of the djed ceremony. Additionally, the sacred tree and the Assyrian winged disk, which are generally depicted separately, are combined in certain designs, similar to the djed pillar which is sometimes surmounted with a solar disk.

Tyet

The djed hieroglyph is often found together with the tyet (also known as Isis knot) hieroglyph, which is translated as life or welfare. The djed and the tiet used together may depict the duality of life. The tyet hieroglyph may have become associated with Isis because of its frequent pairing with the djed.

The tyet (Ancient Egyptian: tjt), sometimes called the knot of Isis or girdle of Isis, is an ancient Egyptian symbol that came to be connected with the goddess Isis. Its hieroglyphic depiction is catalogued as V39 in Gardiner’s sign list.

In many respects the tyet resembles an ankh, except that its arms curve down. Its meaning is also reminiscent of the ankh, as it is often translated to mean “welfare” or “life”. The tyet resembles a knot of cloth and may have originally been a bandage used to absorb menstrual blood.

Raising the Djed

The djed was an important part of the ceremony called “raising the djed”, which was a part of the celebrations of the Sed festival, the Egyptian jubilee celebration. The act of raising the djed has been explained as representing Osiris’s triumph over Seth.

Ceremonies in Memphis are described where the pharaoh, with the help of the priests, raised a wooden djed column using ropes. The ceremony took place during the period when fields were sown and the year’s agricultural season would begin, corresponding to the month of Koiak, the fourth month of the Season of the Inundation.

This ceremony was a part of one of the more popular holidays and celebrations of the time, a larger festival dedicated to Osiris conducted from the 13th to 30th day of the Koiak. Celebrated as it was at that time of the year when the soil and climate were most suitable for agriculture, the festival and its ceremonies can be seen as an appeal to Osiris, who was the God of vegetation, to favor the growth of the seeds sown, paralleling his own resurrection and renewal after his murder by Seth.

Kundalini

Katherine Harper and Robert Brown also discuss a possible strong link between the djed column and the concept of kundalini (“coiled snake”) in yoga. Kundalini in Hinduism is a form of divine energy (or shakti) believed to be located at the base of the spine (muladhara). It is an important concept in Śaiva Tantra, where it is believed to be a force or power associated with the divine feminine.

This energy, when cultivated and awakened through tantric practice, is believed to lead to spiritual liberation. Kuṇḍalinī is associated with Paradevi or Adi Parashakti, the supreme being in Shaktism; and with the goddesses Bhairavi and Kubjika. The term, along with practices associated with it, was adopted into Hatha yoga in the 11th century.

The concept of Kuṇḍalinī is mentioned in the Upanishads (9th – 3rd centuries BCE). The Sanskrit adjective kuṇḍalin means “circular, annular”. It is mentioned as a noun for “snake” (in the sense of “coiled”) in the 12th-century Rajatarangini chronicle. Kuṇḍa (a noun meaning “bowl, water-pot” is found as the name of a Nāga (serpent deity) in Mahabharata. The 8th-century Tantrasadbhava Tantra uses the term kundalī (“ring, bracelet; coil (of a rope)”).

The use of kuṇḍalī as a name for Goddess Durga (a form of Shakti) appears often in Tantrism and Shaktism from as early as the 11th century in the Śaradatilaka. It was adopted as a technical term in Hatha yoga during the 15th century, and became widely used in the Yoga Upanishads by the 16th century. Eknath Easwaran has paraphrased the term as “the coiled power”, a force which ordinarily rests at the base of the spine, described as being “coiled there like a serpent”.

Kuṇḍalinī awakenings have been described as occurring by means of a variety of methods. Many systems of yoga focus on awakening Kuṇḍalinī through: meditation; pranayama breathing; the practice of asana and chanting of mantras.

Kundalini Yoga is influenced by Shaktism and Tantra schools of Hinduism. It derives its name through a focus on awakening kundalini energy through regular practice of Mantra, Tantra, Yantra, Asanas or Meditation. The Kuṇḍalinī experience is frequently reported to be a distinct feeling of electric current running along the spine.

The experience of Kundalini awakening can happen when one is either prepared or unprepared. According to Hindu tradition, in order to be able to integrate this spiritual energy, a period of careful purification and strengthening of the body and nervous system is usually required beforehand.

Yoga and Tantra propose that Kundalini can be awakened by a guru (teacher), but body and spirit must be prepared by yogic austerities, such as pranayama, or breath control, physical exercises, visualization, and chanting. The student is advised to follow the path in an open-hearted manner.

Traditionally, people visited ashrams in India to awaken their dormant kundalini energy with regular meditation, mantra chanting, spiritual studies and physical asana practice such as kundalini yoga.

Kundalini is considered to occur in the chakra and nadis of the subtle body. Each chakra is said to contain special characteristics[30] and with proper training, moving Kundalini through these chakras can help express or open these characteristics.

Kundalini is described as a sleeping, dormant potential force in the human organism. It is one of the components of an esoteric description of the “subtle body”, which consists of nadis (energy channels), chakras (psychic centres), prana (subtle energy), and bindu (drops of essence).

Kundalini is described as being coiled up at the base of the spine. The description of the location can vary slightly, from the rectum to the navel. Kundalini is said to reside in the triangular shaped sacrum bone in three and a half coils.

Pisces

Pisces (Ancient Greek: Ikhthyes) is the twelfth astrological sign in the Zodiac. Pisces are the negative mutable water sign of 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.

While the astrological sign Pisces per definition runs from ecliptic longitude 330° to 0°, this position is now mostly covered by the constellation of Aquarius due to the precession from when the constellation and the sign coincided. Today, the First Point of Aries, or the vernal equinox, is in the Pisces constellation. Nevertheless, the sign of Pisces remain in the 30 degree span of 330°-0°.

There are no prominent stars in the constellation. One star in the constellation, Alpha Piscium, is also known as Alrescha, which comes from the Arabic al-rišā’, meaning “the well rope,” or “the cord.” Ptolemy described Alpha Piscium as the point where the cords joining the two fish are knotted together. The astrological symbol shows the two fishes captured by a string, typically by the mouth or the tails.

The fish are usually portrayed swimming in opposite directions; this represents the duality within the Piscean nature. They are ruled by the planet Neptune. Although they appear as a pair, the name of the sign in all languages originally referred to only one fish with the exception of Greek, Romanian, Bulgarian, Dutch, Latvian and Italian.

In classical interpretations, the symbol of the fish is derived from the ichthyocentaurs, who aided Aphrodite when she was born from the sea. Divine associations with Pisces include Poseidon/Neptune, Christ, Aphrodite, Eros, Typhon, Vishnu and the Sumerian goddess Inanna.

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.

Theogony

In an ancient myth recorded by Hesiod’s Theogony, Cronus envied the power of his father, the ruler of the universe, Uranus. Uranus drew the enmity of Cronus’s mother, Gaia, when he hid the gigantic youngest children of Gaia, the hundred-handed Hecatoncheires and one-eyed Cyclopes, in Tartarus, so that they would not see the light.

Gaia created a great stone sickle and gathered together Cronus and his brothers to persuade them to castrate Uranus. Only Cronus was willing to do the deed, so Gaia gave him the sickle and placed him in ambush. When Uranus met with Gaia, Cronus attacked him with the sickle, castrating him and casting his testicles into the sea.

After dispatching Uranus, Cronus re-imprisoned the Hecatoncheires, and the Cyclopes and set the dragon Campe to guard them. He and his sister Rhea took the throne of the world as king and queen. The period in which Cronus ruled was called the Golden Age, as the people of the time had no need for laws or rules; everyone did the right thing, and immorality was absent.

Cronus learned from Gaia and Uranus that he was destined to be overcome by his own sons, just as he had overthrown his father. As a result, although he sired the gods Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Hades and Poseidon by Rhea, he devoured them all as soon as they were born to prevent the prophecy.

When the sixth child, Zeus, was born Rhea sought Gaia to devise a plan to save them and to eventually get retribution on Cronus for his acts against his father and children. Rhea secretly gave birth to Zeus in Crete, and handed Cronus a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes, also known as the Omphalos Stone, which he promptly swallowed, thinking that it was his son.

Rhea kept Zeus hidden in a cave on Mount Ida, Crete. According to some versions of the story, he was then raised by a goat named Amalthea, while a company of Kouretes, armored male dancers, shouted and clapped their hands to make enough noise to mask the baby’s cries from Cronus.

Other versions of the myth have Zeus raised by the nymph Adamanthea, who hid Zeus by dangling him by a rope from a tree so that he was suspended between the earth, the sea, and the sky, all of which were ruled by his father, Cronus. Still other versions of the tale say that Zeus was raised by his grandmother, Gaia.

Once he had grown up, Zeus used an emetic given to him by Gaia to force Cronus to disgorge the contents of his stomach in reverse order: first the stone, which was set down at Pytho under the glens of Mount Parnassus to be a sign to mortal men, and then his two brothers and three sisters. In other versions of the tale, Metis gave Cronus an emetic to force him to disgorge the children.

After freeing his siblings, Zeus released the Hecatoncheires, and the Cyclopes who forged for him his thunderbolts, Poseidon’s trident and Hades’ helmet of darkness. In a vast war called the Titanomachy, Zeus and his brothers and sisters, with the help of the Hecatoncheires and Cyclopes, overthrew Cronus and the other Titans. Afterwards, many of the Titans were confined in Tartarus.

Dingir

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

The cuneiform sign by itself was originally an ideogram for the Sumerian word an (“sky” or “heaven”); its use was then extended to a logogram for the word diĝir (“god” or goddess) and the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon An, and a phonogram for the syllable /an/.

Akkadian took over all these uses and added to them a logographic reading for the native ilum and from that a syllabic reading of /il/. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again only an.

The concept of “divinity” in Sumerian is closely associated with the heavens, as is evident from the fact that the cuneiform sign doubles as the ideogram for “sky”, and that its original shape is the picture of a star. The original association of “divinity” is thus with “bright” or “shining” hierophanies in the sky.

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

According to one interpretation, DINGIR could also refer to a priest or priestess although there are other Akkadian words ēnu and ēntu that are also translated priest and priestess. For example, nin-dingir (lady divine) meant a priestess who received foodstuffs at the temple of Enki in the city of Eridu.

An

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

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

Anu’s primary role in myths is as the ancestor of the Anunnaki, the major deities of Sumerian religion. His primary cult center was the Eanna temple in the city of Uruk, but, by the Akkadian Period (c. 2334 – 2154 BC), his authority in Uruk had largely been ceded to the goddess Inanna, the Queen of Heaven.

Anu’s consort in the earliest Sumerian texts is the goddess Uraš, but she is later the goddess Ki and, in Akkadian texts, the Babylonian goddess Antu or Antum, whose name is a feminine form of Anu. She was the first consort of Anu, and the pair were the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki.

Antu was a dominant feature of the Babylonian akit festival until as recently as 200 BC, her later pre-eminence possibly attributable to identification with the Greek goddess Hera. Antu was replaced as consort by Ishtar or Inanna, who may also be a daughter of Anu and Antu.

Tree of Life

Various trees of life are recounted in folklore, culture and fiction, often relating to immortality or fertility. They had their origin in religious symbolism. The tree of life is a widespread myth (mytheme) or archetype in the world’s mythologies, related to the concept of sacred tree more generally, and hence in religious and philosophical tradition.

The tree of knowledge, connecting to heaven and the underworld, and the tree of life, connecting all forms of creation, are both forms of the world tree or cosmic tree, and are portrayed in various religions and philosophies as the same tree.

The Assyrian tree of life was represented by a series of nodes and criss-crossing lines. It was apparently an important religious symbol, often attended to in Assyrian palace reliefs by human or eagle-headed winged genies, or the King, and blessed or fertilized with bucket and cone.

Assyriologists have not reached consensus as to the meaning of this symbol. The name “Tree of Life” has been attributed to it by modern scholarship; it is not used in the Assyrian sources. In fact, no textual evidence pertaining to the symbol is known to exist.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is a similar quest for immortality. In Mesopotamian mythology, Etana searches for a ‘plant of birth’ to provide him with a son. This has a solid provenance of antiquity, being found in cylinder seals from Akkad (2390–2249 BCE).

In ancient Urartu, the tree of life was a religious symbol and was drawn on walls of fortresses and carved on the armor of warriors. The branches of the tree were equally divided on the right and left sides of the stem, with each branch having one leaf, and one leaf on the apex of the tree. Servants stood on each side of the tree with one of their hands up as if they are taking care of the tree.

In the Avestan literature and Iranian mythology, there are several sacred vegetal icons related to life, eternality and cure, like: Amesha Spenta Amordad (guardian of plants, goddess of trees and immortality), Gaokerena (or white Haoma, a tree that its vivacity would certify continuance of life in universe), Bas tokhmak (a tree with remedial attribute, retentive of all herbal seeds, and destroyer of sorrow), Mashyа and Mashyane (parents of the human race in Iranian myths), Barsom (copped offshoots of pomegranate, gaz or Haoma that Zoroastrians use in their rituals), Haoma (a plant, unknown today, that was source of sacred potable), etc.

Gaokerena is a large, sacred Haoma planted by Ahura Mazda. Ahriman (Ahreman, Angremainyu) created a frog to invade the tree and destroy it, aiming to prevent all trees from growing on the earth. As a reaction, Ahura Mazda created two kar fish staring at the frog to guard the tree. The two fish are always staring at the frog and stay ready to react to it. Because Ahriman is responsible for all evil including death, while Ahura Mazda is responsible for all good (including life).

Haoma is another sacred plant due to the drink made from it. The preparation of the drink from the plant by pounding and the drinking of it are central features of Zoroastrian ritual. Haoma also personified Frick Gilliam as a divinity.

It bestows essential vital qualities—health, fertility, husbands for maidens, even immortality. The source of the earthly haoma plant is a shining white tree that grows on a paradisiacal mountain. Sprigs of this white haoma were brought to earth by divine birds. The tree is considerably diverse.

Haoma is the Avestan form of the Sanskrit soma. The near identity of the two in ritual significance is considered by scholars to point to a salient feature of an Indo-Iranian religion antedating Zoroastrianism.

Another related issue in ancient mythology of Iran is the myth of Mashyа and Mashyane, two trees who were the ancestors of all living beings. This myth can be considered as a prototype for the creation myth where living beings are created by Gods (who have a human form).

Delphi

Among the Ancient Greeks, it was a widespread belief that Delphi was the center of the world. The Omphalos of Delphi is an ancient marble monument that was found at the archaeological site of Delphi, Greece.

According to the myths regarding the founding of the Delphic Oracle, Zeus, in his attempt to locate the center of the earth, launched two eagles from the two ends of the world, and the eagles, starting simultaneously and flying at equal speed, crossed their paths above the area of Delphi.

From this point, Zeus threw a stone from the sky to see where it will fall. The stone fell at Delphi, which since then was considered to be the center of the world, the omphalos – “navel of the earth”. Indeed, the same stone thrown by Zeus took the same name and became the symbol of Apollo, the sacred Oracle and more generally of the region of Delphi.

The marble-carved stone which constituted the omphalos in the monument with the tripod and the dancers troubled the excavators, because they could not decide if it was the original or a copy from Hellenistic and Roman times.

In the 2nd century A.D., Pausanias traveled to the area of Delphi and has provided us with rare evidence through his work. The stone of the omphalos seems to have been decorated in high relief and had an oval shape.

It is possible that in ancient times it was covered by a mesh of wool cloth and it was kept in the adyton (inner sanctum), beside the tripod and the daphne (bay leaves), the other sacred symbols of the god. As described by Pausanias, within the woolen cloth that was wound around the stone there were precious stones designed in the shape of a mermaid, while two gilded eagles were fixed on top of it.

Recent studies by French archaeologists have demonstrated that the omphalos and the columns are connected and interlocked. In other words, the stone navel was mounted on the bronze tripods supported by the three dancers, at the top of the column.

This is the spot where the omphalos is thought to have been placed till today, as a cover of the column, in order to symbolically supplement the meaning and importance of the Athenian votive offering. The Athenians, wanting to placate and honor the goddess of light, offered him this copy of the original stone, which combined both delphic symbols as a gift from the hands of the three priestess figures of Athenian origin.

Python

In Greek mythology, Python, who presided at the Delphic oracle, which existed in the cult center for its mother, Gaia, “Earth,” was the serpent, sometimes represented as a medieval-style dragon, living at the center of the earth, believed by the ancient Greeks to be at Delphi. Greeks considered the site to be the center of the earth, represented by a stone, the omphalos or navel, which Python guarded.

Python being the place name that was substituted for the earlier Krisa. Python became the chthonic enemy of the later Olympian deity Apollo, who slew it and took over Python’s former home and oracle. These were the most famous and revered in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.

Omphalos

An omphalos is a religious stone artifact, or baetylus. In Ancient Greek, the word means “navel”. In Greek lore, Zeus sent two eagles across the world to meet at its center, the “navel” of the world. Among the Ancient Greeks, it was a widespread belief that Delphi was the center of the world.

In the ancient world of the Mediterranean, it was a powerful religious symbol. The omphalos was not only an object of Hellenic religious symbolism and world centrality; it was also considered an object of power. Its symbolic references included the uterus, the phallus, and a cup of red wine representing royal blood lines.

According to the myths regarding the founding of the Delphic Oracle, Zeus, in his attempt to locate the center of the earth, launched two eagles from the two ends of the world, and the eagles, starting simultaneously and flying at equal speed, crossed their paths above the area of Delphi, and so was the place where Zeus placed the stone.

Omphalos is also the name of the stone given to Cronus. It represents the stone which Rhea wrapped in swaddling clothes, pretending it was Zeus, in order to deceive Cronus.

Nehushtan

Snake cults had been well established in Canaan in the Bronze Age: archaeologists have uncovered serpent cult objects in Bronze Age strata at several pre-Israelite cities in Canaan: two at Megiddo, one at Gezer, one in the Kodesh Hakodashim (Holy of Holies) of the Area H temple at Hazor, and two at Shechem.

In the biblical Books of Kings (2 Kings 18:4; written c. 550 BCE), the Nehushtan (Hebrew: Nəḥuštān) is a derogatory name given to a bronze serpent on a pole first described in the Book of Numbers which God told Moses to erect so that the Israelites who saw it would be protected from dying from the bites of the “fiery serpents”, which God had sent to punish them for speaking against Him and Moses (Numbers 21:4-9).

In the biblical story, following their Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites set out from Mount Hor, where Aaron was buried, to go to the Red Sea. However they had to detour around the land of Edom (Numbers 20:21, 25).

Impatient, they complained against Yahweh and Moses (Num. 21:4-5), and in response God sent “fiery serpents” among them and many died. The people came to Moses to repent and asked him to ask God to take away the serpents.

Moses prayed to God, who told Moses, ‘Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he seeth it, shall live.’ (Numbers 21:4-9)

The term also appears in 2 Kings 18:4 in a passage describing reforms made by King Hezekiah, in which he tore down altars, cut down symbols of Asherah, destroyed the Nehushtan, and according to many Bible translations, gave it that name.

In Kings, King Hezekiah institutes an iconoclastic reform that requires the destruction of “the brazen serpent that Moses had made; for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan”. The term means “a brazen thing, a mere piece of brass”.

Regarding the passage in 2 Kings 18:4, M. G. Easton noted that “the lapse of nearly one thousand years had invested the ‘brazen serpent’ with a mysterious sanctity; and in order to deliver the people from their infatuation, and impress them with the idea of its worthlessness, Hezekiah called it, in contempt, ‘Nehushtan’, a brazen thing, a mere piece of brass”.

According to Lowell K. Handy, the Nehushtan may have been the symbol of a minor god of snakebite-cure within the Temple. The tradition of naming it Nehushtan is not considered to be any older than the time of Hezekiah.

Ningishzida

Ningishzida (sum: dnin-g̃iš-zid-da) is a Mesopotamian deity of vegetation and the underworld. The death of vegetation is associated with the travel to the underworld of Ningishzida. In some texts Ningishzida is said to be female, which means “Nin” would then refer to Lady, which is mostly how the word is used by the Sumerians. He or she was one of the ancestors of Gilgamesh.

Thorkild Jacobsen translates Ningishzida as Sumerian for “lord of the good tree”. In Sumerian mythology, he appears in Adapa’s myth as one of the two guardians of Anu’s celestial palace, alongside Dumuzi, later known by the alternate form Tammuz, an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with shepherds, who was also the primary consort of the goddess Inanna (later known as Ishtar).

He was sometimes depicted as a serpent with a human head. Lagash had a temple dedicated to Ningishzida, and Gudea, patesi of Lagash in the 21st century BC (short chronology), was one of his devotees. In the Louvre, there is a famous green steatite vase carved for King Gudea of Lagash, dedicated by its inscription: “To the god Ningiszida, his god Gudea, Ensi (governor) of Lagash, for the prolongation of his life, has dedicated this”.

Ningishzida is sometimes the son of Ninazu and Ningiridda, even though the myth Ningishzida’s journey to the netherworld suggests he is the son of Ereshkigal. Following an inscription found at Lagash, he was the son of Anu, the heavens.

His wife is Azimua and also Geshtinanna, Dumuzid’s sister, who was the goddess of agriculture, fertility, and dream interpretation, while his sister is Amashilama. 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.

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