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Lagash, Nineveh and Nina

Posted by Fredsvenn on February 20, 2019

Goddess Nina

Lagash

Lagash (modern Al-Hiba) is an ancient city located northwest of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and east of Uruk, about 22 kilometres (14 mi) east of the modern town of Ash Shatrah, Iraq. Lagash was one of the oldest cities of the Ancient Near East.

From inscriptions found at Girsu such as the Gudea cylinders, it appears that Lagash was an important Sumerian city in the late 3rd millennium BC. It was at that time ruled by independent kings, Ur-Nanshe (24th century BC) and his successors, who were engaged in contests with the Elamites on the east and the kings of Kienĝir and Kish on the north.

Some of the earlier works from before the Akkadian conquest are also extremely interesting, in particular Eanatum’s Stele of the Vultures and Entemena’s great silver vase ornamented with Ningirsu’s sacred animal Anzu: a lion-headed eagle with wings outspread, grasping a lion in each talon.

With the Akkadian conquest Lagash lost its independence, its ruler or ensi becoming a vassal of Sargon of Akkad and his successors; but Lagash continued to be a city of much importance and above all, a centre of artistic development.

After the collapse of Sargon’s state, Lagash again thrived under its independent kings (ensis), Ur-Baba and Gudea, and had extensive commercial communications with distant realms. According to one estimate, Lagash was the largest city in the world from c. 2075 to 2030 BC.

According to his own records, Gudea brought cedars from the Amanus and Lebanon mountains in Syria, diorite from eastern Arabia, copper and gold from central and southern Arabia, while his armies were engaged in battles with Elam on the east.

His was especially the era of artistic development. We even have a fairly good idea of what Gudea looked like, since he placed in temples throughout his city numerous statues or idols depicting himself with lifelike realism.

At the time of Gudea, the capital of Lagash was actually in Girsu. The kingdom covered an area of approximately 1,600 square kilometres (620 sq mi). It contained 17 larger cities, eight district capitals, and numerous villages (about 40 known by name).

Soon after the time of Gudea, Lagash was absorbed into the Ur III state as one of its prime provinces. There is some information about the area during the Old Babylonian period. After that it seems to have lost its importance; at least we know nothing more about it until the construction of the Seleucid fortress mentioned, when it seems to have become part of the Greek kingdom of Characene.

Girsu

Nearby Girsu at the site of modern Tell Telloh, Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq, about 25 km (16 mi) northwest of Lagash, was the religious center of the Lagash state. Girsu was possibly inhabited in the Ubaid period (5300-4800 BC), but significant levels of activity began in the Early Dynastic period (2900-2335 BC).

From inscriptions found at Girsu such as the Gudea cylinders, it appears that Lagash was an important Sumerian city in the late 3rd millennium BC. At the time of Gudea, during the Second Dynasty of Lagash, Girsu became the capital of the Lagash kingdom and continued to be its religious center after political power had shifted to city of Lagash.

During the Ur III period, Girsu was a major administrative center for the empire. After the fall of Ur, Girsu declined in importance, but remained inhabited until approximately 200 BC.

It’s main temple was the E-Ninnu, dedicated to the god Ningirsu, also known as Ninurta, an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with farming, healing, hunting, law, scribes, and war who was first worshipped in early Sumer.

Ninurta was worshipped in Mesopotamia as early as the middle of the third millennium BC by the ancient Sumerians, and is one of the earliest attested deities in the region. His main cult center was the Eshumesha temple in the Sumerian city-state of Nippur, where he was worshipped as the god of agriculture and the son of the chief-god Enlil.

In the earliest records, he is a god of agriculture and healing, who releases humans from sickness and the power of demons. In later times, as Mesopotamia grew more militarized, he became a warrior deity, though he retained many of his earlier agricultural attributes. He continued to be seen as a healer and protector, and he was commonly invoked in spells to protect against demons, disease, and other dangers.

Though they may have originally been separate deities, in historical times, the god Ninĝirsu, who was worshipped in the Sumerian city-state of Girsu, was always identified as a local form of Ninurta. Ninĝirsu was honored by King Gudea of Lagash (ruled 2144–2124 BC), who rebuilt Ninĝirsu’s temple in Lagash. As the city-state of Girsu declined in importance, Ninĝirsu became increasingly known as “Ninurta”

Nina

The ancient site of Nina (modern Surghul) is around 10 km (6.2 mi) away and marks the southern limit of the state. The tell Surghul was inhabited from the period of Ubaid, around 5000 BC, until the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC.

A Tello brick with the text: « For Nina (the goddess), Gudea, Lagash’s patési, do all that is right: In Nina, her beloved city, her temple Sirara, which rises higher than the others, he built» shows that Sirara is the name of the temple, while Nina is both the name of the goddess and of the town. However, specialists consider that the reading of the hieroglyphs is uncertain as regards the designation of the city, “Nigin” is prefer to “Nina”.

15 bricks and 11 cones covered with hieroglyphs were exhumed there. They advanced the knowledge of the places. Indeed, the writings commemorate, as was usual at this time, the construction of the temple Sirara for the goddess Nanshe (or Nina) by Gudea of Lagash.

Nanshe was the daughter of Enki (god of wisdom, magic and water) and the earth and mother goddess Ninhursag. According to tradition, Enki organized the universe and placed her in charge of fish and fishing.

Nanshe was also described as a divine soothsayer and dream interpreter. Although at times overshadowed by her sister Inanna (Akkadian: Ishtar), Nanshe was, nevertheless, important in her own geographic area, and many rulers of Lagash record that they were chosen by her.

She was a goddess of social justice, prophecy, fertility and fishing. Like her father, she was heavily associated with water. She held dominion over the Persian Gulf and all the animals within. Her seat of power was the Sirara temple, located in the city of Nina.

Nanshe has two major symbols, both of which are also seen in Christian folklore. The fish represents her original role as a water and fishing goddess. The pelican, said in folklore to rip open its own chest to feed its young, represents her role as a protector and caregiver.

Her consort was Haia, god of storerooms, and her vizier was Hendursag who was in charge of judging people’s deeds and transgressions. Her husband/consort was originally Nindara, Hendursag’s older brother, the local god of Lagash, known as a great warrior and the ‘tax collector of the sea,’ though the meaning of the epithet is unclear. However, she is most commonly associated with Haia.

Ninevhe

Nineveh (Akkadian: URUNI.NU.A Ninua) was an ancient Assyrian city of Upper Mesopotamia, located on the outskirts of Mosul in modern-day northern Iraq. It is located on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and was the capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Today it is a common name for the half of Mosul which lies on the eastern bank of the Tigris.

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 3000 BC, the area had become an important religious center for the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar.

The original meaning of the name is unclear but may have referred to a patron goddess. 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 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.

Goddess Nina

A very ancient mother Goddess figure in Mesopotamia, Nina has many powers, including healing, herb magic, dream interpretation, magic and meditation, cooperation and helping civilization along when needed. Her symbols are lions, fish and serpents (Her sacred animals).

Nina is another name of the Goddess Inanna. Nina, in Assyro-Babylonian mythology, was the daughter of Ea, the god of water, wisdom and technical skill.  Nina is also the Goddess [of] Ninevah, the capital city of ancient Assyria.

Nowhere else is this more true than in the case of The Oldest One, Serpent Goddess of the Oracles, Mistress of Unfathomable Decrees, Interpreter of Dreams, Prophetess of Deities, Queen Nina, or, if you prefer, Nana, of the Sumerians. However, because Nin prefixes many goddesses’ names (some researchers have even translated nin to mean goddess.

The list of her other names doesn’t stop there: In the cities of Harran and Ur, they called her Ningal or Nikkal; in Nippur, Ninlil; and, at the shrine at Al Ubaid, she was Ninhursag. When spoken of in conjunction with Nammu and the myth of the formation of the people of the Earth, she was Ninmah.

The Goddess Nina has been described as She who assigned the destinies of lives while swimming as a fish, and it was also said that … the sacred sign that spelled Her name [was] the same as the sign of the City of Nineveh…

In her capacity as Comforter of Orphans, Caretaker of the Elderly and the Ill, Shelterer of the Homeless and Feeder of the Hungry, She was called Nanshe; on the plains of Khafajah, Ninti or Nintu; on the Isle of Dilmun, Nin Sikil.

When she provided: healing herbs, Ninkarrak, Gula or Bau; dream interpretation, Ninsun or Ninsunna; beer and wine for holy rites, Ninkasi, or, as She arose from the deep waters of the primordial sea, simply: Ama Gal Dingir, the Mother Great Goddess.

Closely related to Nina, too, is the Babylonian “Great Mother of the Sea”, Tiamat (although the epic, Enuma Elish appears to be the only piece of literature that survives containing any reference to a goddess specifically by that name).

The mermaid

The legends of the existence of aquatic creatures that are half-human and half-fish have their roots in the dim and distant past. The word mermaid is a compound of the Old English mere (sea), and maid (a girl or young woman). The male equivalent of the mermaid is the merman, also a familiar figure in folklore and heraldry.

Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, including the Near East, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Depictions of entities with the tails of fish, but upper bodies of human beings appear in Mesopotamian artwork from the Old Babylonian Period onwards. These figures are usually mermen, but mermaids do occasionally appear.

The name for the mermaid figure may have been kuliltu, meaning “fish-woman”. Such figures were used in Neo-Assyrian art as protective figures and were shown in both monumental sculpture and in small, protective figurines.

Atargatis

The first known mermaid stories appeared in ancient Assyria c. 1000 BC, in which the goddess Atargatis or Ataratheh, the chief goddess of northern Syria in Classical antiquity and mother of Assyrian queen Semiramis, transformed herself into a mermaid out of shame for accidentally killing her human lover.

The earliest representations of Atargatis showed her as a fish with a human head and arm, similar to the Babylonian god Enki. However, she loved a mortal (a shepherd) and unintentionally killed him. Ashamed, she jumped into a lake and took the form of a fish, but the waters would not conceal her divine beauty. Thereafter, she took the form of a mermaid.

She has been called “the great mistress of the North Syrian lands”. The Greeks recognized Atargatis under the name Derketo. Ctesias also used the name Derketo for her, and the Romans called her Dea Syria, or in one word Deasura.

Her chief sanctuary was at Hierapolis, modern Manbij, northeast of Aleppo, Syria. She is sometimes described as a mermaid-goddess, due to identification of her with a fish-bodied goddess at Ascalon. However, there is no evidence that Atargatis was worshipped at Ascalon, and all iconographic evidence shows her as anthropomorphic.

Her epithets included “Pure,” “Virgin,” “Savior,” and “Mother of the Gods”, and her iconography connected her particularly to Cybele, the Great Mother. Like her, Atargatis was often depicted riding or accompanied by a lion. Often she sat on a throne flanked by two sphinxes or two lions.

Primarily she was a goddess of fertility, but, as the baalat (“mistress”) of her city and people, she was also responsible for their protection and well-being. Her consort is usually Hadad. As Ataratheh, doves and fish were considered sacred to her: doves as an emblem of the Love-Goddess, and fish as symbolic of the fertility and life of the waters.

Her headdress was usually topped by a crescent moon and draped with a veil. In her hands she carried various objects: a plate or cup, a scepter or staff, and ears of grain, but most often she held a spindle and a mirror.

Sometimes doves or fish were near or actually on her. In some places Atargatis was associated with dolphins. At other places, the eight-pointed star emphasized her association with the planet Venus.

The name Atargatis derives from the Aramaic form ʿAtarʿatheh, which comes in several variants. It has also been proposed that the element -gatis may relate to the Greek gados “fish”. (For example, the Greek name for “sea monster” or “whale” is the cognate term ketos). So Atar-Gatis may simply mean “the fish-goddess Atar”.

The goddess Atargatis maintained a presence at the temple of Ascalon on the Mediterranean Coast, famous for its dove cotes and as a shrine of oracular prophesy. Whether Atargatis came ashore from the Mediterranean at Ascalon, or was born of the waters of the Tigris, is a matter for debate. That she bore a daughter who walked on two feet, Shammuramat, is not. Also, it is known that upon her altars, her priestesses and devotees sacrificed to her fish.

Atargatis is considered to be quite possibly connected to the early Sumerian images of Nina or Nammu because of her association with the city of Nineveh (on the Tigris River) and her primary image as a goddess of the sea — depicted with the tail of a fish.

The snake and the feminine principle

In the Sumerian goddesses’ family tree, we find Nammu, whose sign is identical to that used for ”the sea”. As a dragon she is linked with Tiamat. The Sumerian goddess Nidaba is symbolized as a serpent or woman with a serpent’s tail. The close association between the ancient “Mother Goddess” religion and the symbol of the fish is undeniable.

Throughout history the connection between the snake and the feminine principle has been profound and intimate. From east to west, serpents have always tempted, personified, accompanied, awakened, transformed, and empowered women and goddesses.

This accounts from Eve to the Serpent Lady of Ashtoreth and Kadesh. From Ishtar, the Babylonian Lady of Vision to the Serpent Goddess of Crete, from Kebhut, the goddess of freshness who played a part in Egyptian funerary ceremonies to the asp that transported Cleopatra to the afterlife, from Greece’s ancient Earth Mother Gaea to the Golden Age’s Queen, Hera, and her step-daughter Athena, goddess of wisdom.

A snake is one of the most versatile of all creatures. It can live in the ground or in a tree, in the desert or in the water, but it is primarily considered a chthonic creature, i.e. as pertaining to the earth and the spirits of the underworld.

This accounts for its association with the physical death of the body; however, because it periodically sheds its skin and emerges as if reborn, it is also seen as a symbol of transformation and the perpetual capacity for renewal.

Those goddesses that are described as having a connection to serpents include Lilith, known in the Epic of Gilgamesh as having lived within the huluppu tree, around which a serpent did entwine, Amo Usum Gal Ana, also known as “Great Mother Serpent of Heaven” and “Indunna’s Eye”, and Bealat, known in prayers that invoked her as “The Serpent Lady”.

Later, when invaders with a more patriarchal-centered society conquered the goddess-worshipping Middle East, she and her symbol were reduced to the respective roles of dupe and trickster (i.e., Eve and the Serpent) and “cast out”– eventually to be buried, completely, in the shifting sands of time…

This apostasy of the formerly matriarchal theology is well-illustrated in the legend of the mythical murder of Tiamat by Marduk. In that myth, the reptilian goddess is killed by the strong king and her body made into the heavens and the earth.

Tiamat possessed the Tablet of Destinies and 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, 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. Anu later became replaced by the god Enlil and in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon by Marduk, the son of Ea.

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 principal theme of the epic is the justified elevation of Marduk to command over all the deities. “It has long been realized that the Marduk epic, for all its local coloring and probable elaboration by the Babylonian theologians, reflects in substance older Sumerian material,” The exact Sumerian prototype, however, has not turned up so far.

This surmise that the Babylonian version of the story is based upon a modified version of an older epic, in which Enlil, not Marduk, was the god who slew Tiamat, is more recently dismissed as “distinctly improbable”. In fact, Marduk has no precise Sumerian prototype.

It is generally accepted amongst modern Assyriologists that the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian creation epic to which this mythological strand is attributed, was written as political and religious propaganda rather than reflecting a Sumerian tradition.

The dating of the epic is not completely clear, but judging from the mythological topics covered and the cuneiform versions discovered thus far, it is likely to date to the 15th century BC.

Astarte

Atargatis is seen as a continuation of Bronze Age goddesses. These shared many traits with each other and may have been worshipped in conjunction or separately during 1500 years of cultural history.

In many cases Atargatis, ‘Ashtart, and other goddesses who once had independent cults and mythologies became fused to such an extent as to be indistinguishable. Not unnaturally she is identified with the Greek Aphrodite.

At Ugarit, cuneiform tablets attest the three great Canaanite goddesses: ʾAṭirat, described as a fecund “Lady Goddess of the Sea” and identified with Asherah, the war-like virgin goddess ʿAnat, and the goddess of love ʿAțtart, the namesake of the Phoenician goddess ʿAštart, called Astarte in Greek.

Some 58 miles south of Nineveh, evidence of a goddess named Asherah was found at a temple later renamed for Ishtar. The Imagery of Asherah, as suggested in the tablets of Ugarit, is reminiscent of the traditions of the traditions of Atargatis — as Asherah is called “the Goddess Who Walks the Sea”.

Linked with Atargatis by the location of her temple upon the Euphrates River, in the Syrian holy city of Hieropolis, was the goddess Ashtart, “The Ancient Serpent Lady”, and Astarte, who is depicted with snakes coiled about her neck.

Ashtart was said to have fallen from the sky into the water linked, herself, with the holy one of the sea (probably Nina) at the sacred lake of Heiropolis where her pilgrims bathed near to an altar stone [which] rose out of the center of the water, with fish glowing with golden lines swimming all about them.

Astarte is the Hellenized form of the Middle Eastern goddess Astoreth (Northwest Semitic), a form of Ishtar (East Semitic), worshipped from the Bronze Age through classical antiquity. The name is particularly associated with her worship in the ancient Levant among the Canaanites and Phoenicians.

She was also celebrated in Egypt following the importation of Levantine cults there. The name Astarte is sometimes also applied to her cults in Mesopotamian cultures like Assyria and Babylonia.

Some ancient sources assert that in the territory of Sidon the temple of Astarte was sacred to Europa. According to an old Cretan story, Europa was a Phoenician princess whom Zeus, having transformed himself into a white bull, abducted, and carried to Crete.

Some scholars claim that the cult of the Minoan snake goddess who is identified with Ariadne (the “utterly pure”) was similar to the cult of Astarte. Her cult as Aphrodite was transmitted to Cythera and then to Greece.

Herodotus wrote that the religious community of Aphrodite originated in Phoenicia and came to Greeks from there. He also wrote about the world’s largest temple of Aphrodite, in one of the Phoenician cities.

Inanna

Inanna (Neo-Assyrian MUŠ; Sumerian: Inanna; Akkadian: Ištar) is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power. Her husband was the god Dumuzid (later known as Tammuz) and her sukkal, or personal attendant, was the goddess Ninshubur (who later became the male deity Papsukkal).

Inanna’s name derives from Lady of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-an-ak). The cuneiform sign of Inanna, however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (nin) and sky (an). These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that originally Inanna may have been a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”), accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon.

This is supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, at first she had no 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.

She was originally worshipped in Sumer and was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians under the name Ishtar. She was known as the “Queen of Heaven” and was the patron goddess of the Eanna temple at the city of Uruk, which was her main cult center. She was associated with the planet Venus and her most prominent symbols included the lion and the eight-pointed star.

Inanna appears in more myths than any other Sumerian deity. Many of her myths involve her taking over the domains of other deities. She was believed to have stolen the mes, which represented all positive and negative aspects of civilization, from Enki, the god of wisdom. She was also believed to have taken over the Eanna temple from An, the god of the sky. Alongside her twin brother Utu (later known as Shamash), Inanna was the enforcer of divine justice.

Inanna-Ishtar’s most famous myth is the story of her descent into and return from Kur, the ancient Sumerian Underworld, a myth in which she attempts to conquer the domain of her older sister Ereshkigal, the queen of the Underworld, but is instead deemed guilty of hubris by the seven judges of the Underworld and struck dead.

Three days later, Ninshubur pleads with all the gods to bring Inanna back, but all of them refuse her except Enki, who sends two sexless beings to rescue Inanna. They escort Inanna out of the Underworld, but the galla, the guardians of the Underworld, drag her husband Dumuzid down to the Underworld as her replacement. Dumuzid is eventually permitted to return to heaven for half the year while his sister Geshtinanna remains in the Underworld for the other half, resulting in the cycle of the seasons.

Inanna was worshipped in Sumer at least as early as the Uruk period (c. 4000 BC – c. 3100 BC), but she had little cult prior to the conquest of Sargon of Akkad. During the post-Sargonic era, she became one of the most widely venerated deities in the Sumerian pantheon, with temples across Mesopotamia.

The cult of Inanna-Ishtar, which may have been associated with a variety of sexual rites, including homosexual transvestite priests and sacred prostitution, was continued by the East Semitic-speaking people who succeeded the Sumerians in the region. She was especially beloved by the Assyrians, who elevated her to become the highest deity in their pantheon, ranking above their own national god Ashur.

Inanna-Ishtar is alluded to in the Hebrew Bible and she greatly influenced the Phoenician goddess Astarte, who later influenced the development of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Her cult continued to flourish until its gradual decline between the first and sixth centuries AD in the wake of Christianity, though it survived in parts of Upper Mesopotamia as late as the eighteenth century.

Nane

Nane was an Armenian pagan mother goddess. She was the goddess of war, wisdom, and motherhood, and the daughter of the supreme god Aramazd. Nane looked like a young beautiful woman in the clothing of a warrior, with spear and shield in hand, like the Greek Athena, with whom she identified in the Hellenic period. In Armenia and other countries, the name Nane continues to be used as a personal name. Her cult was closely associated with the cult of the goddess Anahit.

According to some authors, Nane was adopted from the Akkadian goddess Nanaya, from the Phrygian goddess Cybele, or was from Elamite origin. Nanaya (Sumerian NA.NA.A; also transcribed as Nanâ, Nanãy or Nanãya; in Greek: Nαναια or Νανα) is the canonical name for a goddess worshipped by the Sumerians and Akkadians, a deity who personified “voluptuousness and sensuality”. Her cult was large and was spread as far as Syria and Iran.

She later became syncretised with the Babylonian Tashmetum, an Akkadian goddess, the consort of the god Nabu. She is called upon to listen to prayers and to grant requests. Tashmetum and Nabu both shared a temple in the city of Borsippa, in which they were patron deities. Tashmetum’s name means “Lady who listens”. She is also known as Tashmit and Tashmetu, and she was known by the epithets “Lady of Hearing” and “Lady of Favor”.

Nabu is the Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom and writing, worshipped by Babylonians as the son of Marduk and his consort, Sarpanitum (alternately Sarpanitu, Zarpanit, Zarpandit, Zerpanitum, Zerbanitu, or Zirbanit), and as the grandson of Ea (Enki). The etymology of his name is disputed. It could be derived from the root nb´ for “to call or announce”, meaning something like “He who has called”.

Nabu is accorded the office of patron of the scribes, taking over from the Sumerian goddess Nisaba, the Sumerian goddess of writing, learning, and the harvest. In late Babylonian astrology, Nabu was connected with the planet Mercury. As the god of wisdom and writing, he was equated by the Greeks to either Apollo or Hermes, the latter identified by the Romans with their own god Mercury.

In Babylonian mythology, Sarpanit is a mother goddess. Her name means “the shining one”, and she is sometimes associated with the planet Venus. By a play on words her name was interpreted as zēr-bānītu, or “creatress of seed”, and is thereby associated with the goddess Aruru, who, according to Babylonian myth, created mankind.

Her marriage with Marduk was celebrated annually at New Year in Babylon. She was worshipped via the rising moon, and was often depicted as being pregnant. She is also known as Erua. She may be the same as Gamsu, Ishtar, and/or Beltis.

Sherida

Sherida is one of the oldest Mesopotamian gods, attested in inscriptions from pre-Sargonic times, her name (as “Aya”) was a popular personal name during the Ur III period (21st-20th century BCE), making her among the oldest Semitic deities known in the region.

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

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

The goddess Aya in this aspect appears to have had wide currency among Semitic peoples, as she is mentioned in god-lists in Ugarit and shows up in personal names in the Bible. 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. By the Neo-Babylonian period at the latest (and possibly much earlier), Shamash and Aya were associated with a practice known as Hasadu, which is loosely translated as a “sacred marriage.”

A room would be set aside with a bed, and on certain occasions the temple statues of Shamash and Aya would be brought together and laid on the bed to ceremonially renew their vows. This ceremony was also practiced by the cults of Marduk with Sarpanitum, Nabu with Tashmetum, and Anu with Antu.

Ishara

Ishara is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath. In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar. She is identified as Ishwara in Sanskrit. Her cult was of considerable importance in Ebla from the mid 3rd millennium, and by the end of the 3rd millennium, she had temples in Nippur, Sippar, Kish, Harbidum, Larsa, and Urum.

The word is attested as a loanword in the Assyrian Kültepe texts from the 19th century BC, and is as such the earliest attestation of a word of any Indo-European language.

The name is from a PIE root *shei “to bind (also magically)”, also in Greek himas “strap” and Old Norse / Old High German seil “rope”. Possibly also cognate is soul, and Welsh Gwen-hwyfar (Irish Find-abair, from Proto-Celtic *windo-seibaro- “white ghost”, from a meaning “enchanted” of the extended root *shei-bh-).

ishar (or eshar), oblique ishan-, the Hittite for “blood” is probably derived from the same root, maybe from a notion of “bond” between blood-relations (c.f. Sanskrit bandhu). The verb ishiya “to bind, fetter”, “to oblige” is directly cognate to Sanskrit syati or Russian shyot with similar meanings.

The Indo-European etymology of the theonym has been called into question, since the goddess appears from as early as the mid 3rd millennium as one of the chief goddesses of Ebla, and her name appears as an element in theophoric names in Mesopotamia in the later 3rd millennium (Akkad period), and into the first (Assyria), as in Tukulti-apil-esharra (i.e., Tiglath-Pileser).

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

As a goddess, Ishara could inflict severe bodily penalties to oathbreakers, in particular ascites. In this context, she came to be seen as a “goddess of medicine” whose pity was invoked in case of illness. There was even a verb, isharis- “to be afflicted by the illness of Ishara”.

Ishara was also worshipped within the Hurrian pantheon. 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).

Ishara was well known in Syria from the third millennium BC. She became a great goddess of the Hurrian population. She was worshipped with Teshub and Simegi at Alakh, and also at Ugarit, Emar and Chagar Bazar. While she was considered to belong to the entourage of Ishtar, she was invoked to heal the sick (Lebrun).

The Hurrian cult of Ishara as a love goddess also spread to Syria. “Ishara first appears in the pre-Sargonic texts from Ebla and then as a goddess of love in Old Akkadian potency-incantations (Biggs).

During the Ur III period she had a temple in Drehem and from the Old Babylonian time onwards, there were sanctuaries in Sippar, Larsa, and Harbidum. In Mari she seems to have been very popular and many women were called after her, but she is well attested in personal names in Babylonia generally up to the late Kassite period.

Her main epithet was belet rame, lady of love, which was also applied to Ishtar. In the Epic of Gilgamesh it says: ‘For Ishara the bed is made’ and in Atra-hasis she is called upon to bless the couple on the honeymoon.”

Ishtar is the East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and is the cognate for the Northwest Semitic Aramean goddess Astarte. She was particularly worshipped in northern Mesopotamia, at the Assyrian cities of Nineveh, Ashur and Arbela (Erbil).

Like Inanna, Ishtar was the daughter of An. Besides the lions on her gate, her symbol is an eight-pointed star. In the Babylonian pantheon, she “was the divine personification of the planet Venus”. Even for the gods Ishtar’s love was fatal. In her youth the goddess had loved Tammuz, god of the harvest, and — if one is to believe Gilgamesh — this love caused the death of Tammuz.

Her cult may have involved sacred prostitution, though this is debatable. Guirand referred to her holy city Uruk as the “town of the sacred courtesans” and to her as the “courtesan of the gods”.

Like Ishtar, the Greek Aphrodite and the Aramean Northwestern Semitic Astarte were love goddesses. Donald A. Mackenzie, an early popularizer of mythology, draws a parallel between the love goddess Aphrodite and her “dying god” lover Adonis on one hand, and the love goddess Ishtar and her “dying god” lover Tammuz on the other.

Some scholars have suggested that the myth of Adonis was derived in post-Homeric times by the Greeks indirectly from the Eastern Semites of Mesopotamia (Assyria and Babylonia), via the Aramean and Canaanite Western Semites, the Semitic title ‘Adon’, meaning ‘lord’, having been mistaken for a proper name. This theory, however, cannot be accepted without qualifications.

Joseph Campbell, a more recent scholar of comparative mythology, equates Ishtar, Inanna, and Aphrodite, and he draws a parallel between the Egyptian goddess Isis who nurses Horus, and the Assyrian-Babylonian goddess Ishtar who nurses the god Tammuz.

Isis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ishtaran

Ištaran is a male deity associated with justice. This role can be inferred from his assertion of the borders of Umma and Lagaš, while Gudea (ca. 2144-2124 BCE), the ruler of Girsu, said of himself, “I justly decide the lawsuits of my city like Ištaran”. In the poems praising the Ur III king, Šulgi (2094-2047 BCE), his justice is “comparable to that of Ištaran”, and a song to Nergal praises the god thus: “Like Ištaran … you reach correct judgments”.

There is a suggestion of an ophidian nature of Ištaran. Depictions from the Akkadian period show a snake-like form, an element which may have later split off and become Nirah, Ištaran’s messenger, whose logogram was dMUŠ, or dMUŠ.TUR, ‘snake’ and ‘little snake’ respectively. Further, a Kurigalzu dated brick from Der shows a snake above the inscription, which mentions Dagan.

Ištaran is often equated with Anu rabû “Great Anu”, and in the Babylonian Chronicles relating to Esarhaddon (680-669 BCE) the usual writing for his name is replaced with AN.GAL. Both these factors place Ištaran high in the pantheon.

In the god list AN = Anum Ištaran is assigned a vizier Qudmu, a counsellor Rasu, a son Zizanu, and two ‘standing gods’ Turma and Itur-matiššu. While the god-list AN = Anum does not attest a spouse, Šarrat-Deri, “Queen of Der”, or Deritum, seems to be Ištaran’s wife at the time of Esarhaddon. Ištaran also had a minister, Nirah, “Little snake”, a minor male chthonic deity, who carried the title, “the radiant god, the son of the house of Der”.

Ištaran was the chief deity of Der, a Sumerian city-state at the site of modern Tell Aqar near al-Badra in Iraq’s Wasit Governorate, which is east of the Tigris River on the ancient border between Mesopotamia and Elam. Its name was possibly Durum.

In the Sumerian text The Temple Hymns, Ištaran’s temple is similarly said to be located in Der. In the Early Dynastic period (2900-2350 BCE) there may have been a cultic installation on the border between Umma and Lagaš because the border between these two regions was said to be fixed “in accordance with the command of Ištaran”.

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.

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.

Pisces is a dim constellation located next to Aquarius, and Aries. While the astrological sign Pisces per definition runs from ecliptical 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.

Pisces originates from some composition of the Babylonian constellations Šinunutu “the great swallow” in current western Pisces, and Anunitum the “Lady of the Heaven”, at the place of the northern fish. In the first-millennium BC texts known as the Astronomical Diaries, part of the constellation was also called DU.NU.NU (Rikis-nu.mi, “the fish cord or ribbon”).

Pisces is associated with Aphrodite and Eros, who escaped from the monster Typhon by leaping into the sea and transforming themselves into fish. In order not to lose each other, they tied themselves together with rope. The Romans adopted the Greek legend, with Venus and Cupid acting as the counterparts for Aphrodite and Eros. The knot of the rope is marked by Alpha Piscium (α Psc), also called Al-Rischa (“the cord” in Arabic).

In classical interpretations, the symbol of the fish is derived from the ichthyocentaurs, who aided Aphrodite when she was born from the sea. According to one Greek myth, Pisces represents the fish, sometimes represented by koi fish, into which Aphrodite (also considered Venus) and her son Eros (also considered Cupid) transformed in order to escape the monster Typhon. Typhon, the “father of all monsters,” had been sent by Gaia to attack the gods, which led Pan to warn the others before himself changing into a goat-fish and jumping into the Euphrates.

A similar myth, one in which the fish “Pisces” carry Aphrodite and her son out of danger, is resounded in Manilius’ five volume poetic work Astronomica: “Venus ow’d her safety to their Shape.” Another myth is that an egg fell into the Euphrates river. It was then rolled to the shore by fish. Doves sat on the egg until it hatched, out from which came Aphrodite. As a sign of gratitude towards the fish, Aphrodite put the fish into the night sky.

Because of these myths, the Pisces constellation was also known as “Venus et Cupido,” “Venus Syria cum Cupidine,” “Venus cum Adone,” “Dione,” and “Veneris Mater,” the latter being the formal Latin term for mother. Divine associations with Pisces include Poseidon/Neptune, Christ, Aphrodite, Eros, Typhon, Vishnu and the Sumerian goddess Inanna.

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The ethnic groups of Japan

Posted by Fredsvenn on February 19, 2019

After suffering years of discrimination and forced assimilation, the Ainu people have finally been recognised as “indigenous” Japanese people, giving them the right to support for their communities and a boost to local economies.

The official number of the Ainu is 25,000, but unofficially is estimated at 200,000, as many Ainu have been completely assimilated into Japanese society and have no knowledge of their ancestry.

The Ainu have often been considered to descend from the Jōmon people, who lived in Japan from the Jōmon period (c. 14,000 to 300 BCE). One of their Yukar Upopo, or legends, tells that “[t]he Ainu lived in this place a hundred thousand years before the Children of the Sun came”.

Researchers suggests that the Ainu retain a certain degree of uniqueness in their genetic make-up, while having some affinities with other regional populations in Japan as well as with the Nivkhs of the Russian Far East.

Recent research suggests that the historical Ainu culture originated in a merger of the Okhotsk culture with the Satsumon, one of the ancient archaeological cultures that are considered to have derived from the Jōmon-period cultures of the Japanese archipelago.

The Okhotsk culture is an archaeological coastal fishing and hunter-gatherer culture of the lands surrounding the Sea of Okhotsk (600–1000 in Hokkaido, until 1500 or 1600 in the Kuril Islands): the Amur River basin, Sakhalin, northern Hokkaido, the Kuril Islands, and Kamchatka.

It appears to have spread outwards from the Amur River region, only to be partially absorbed or pushed back by the Satsumon culture spreading north from Japan, but nevertheless surviving, for example, in the Nivkh of Sakhalin and the Amur and in Itelmen of Kamchatka.

The historical Ainu people appear to have retained a strong element of the Okhotsk, but the Satsumon culture, and perhaps language, appears to have dominated the mix of people who contemporaneously became known as the Ainu. Fundamental Okhotsk elements remained, however, such as the bear cult.

Jōmon people is the generic name of people who lived in the Japanese archipelago during the Jōmon period. Today most Japanese historians believe that the Jomon were not a single homogeneous people but were at least two or three groups.

The Jōmon shared some physical characteristics, such as relatively abundant body hair and light skin, with Caucasians, but anthropological genetics shows them to derive from a separate genetic lineage from that of Europeans.

It is suggested that they belong to the Proto-Mongoloid type, similar to Native Americans. A research, analysing the autosomal DNA of several Jomon bones, suggest an origin of the Jomon people in Siberia or northeastern Central Asia near lake Baikal.

Mark J. Hudson posits that Japan was settled by a Paleo-Mongoloid population in the Pleistocene who became the Jōmon, and that their features can be seen in the Ainu and Ryukyuan people.

The Ryukyuan people are the indigenous peoples of the Ryukyu Islands between the islands of Kyushu and Taiwan. Although unrecognized, Ryukyuans constitute the largest ethnolinguistic minority group in Japan.

They are not a recognized minority group in Japan, as Japanese authorities consider them just a subgroup of the Japanese people, akin to the Yamato people and Ainu.

Their languages make up the Ryukyuan languages, considered to be one of the two branches of the Japonic language family, the other being Japanese and its dialects.

Currently (2019) it is not known what language or languages were spoken during the Jomon period. Suggested languages are: The Ainu language, Japonic languages, Tungusic languages, Austronesian languages, Paleosiberian languages or unknown and today extinct languages.

It is thought that the haplogroups D1b and C1a1 were frequent in Jōmon people. Haplogroup D1b is found in about 38% and haplogroup C1a1 in about 10% of modern Japanese people.

Haplogroup D-M174 is common in modern Japanese, Tibetans, Pumi, Nakhi and Andamanese tribes. A medium distribution of haplogroup D is also found in Central Asia and other minority groups in southern China.

Haplogroup C1a1 is found in Jomon people, modern Japanese, Paleolithic and Neolithic Europe. It is suggested that it reached Japan via the Korean Peninsula via Altai Mountains from South-west Asia.

The culture of the Jomon people is known as “Jōmon culture”. They used stoneware and pottery, and lived in a pit dwelling. Some elements of modern Japanese culture may come from one or more of the Jomon groups.

The Jōmon pottery is a type of ancient earthenware pottery which was made during the Jōmon period in Japan. The term “Jōmon” means “rope-patterned” in Japanese, describing the patterns that are pressed into the clay.

Japanese are one of the largest ethnic groups in the world. Worldwide, approximately 129 million people are of Japanese descent; of these, approximately 125 million are residents of Japan.

Japanese people are a nation and an ethnic group that is native to Japan and makes up 98.5% of the total population of the country. The modern Japanese language includes native Japanese words and a large number of words derived from the Chinese language.

Currently, the most well-regarded theory is that present-day Japanese are descendants of both the indigenous Jōmon people and the immigrant Yayoi people. The Yayoi period is an Iron Age era in the history of Japan traditionally dated 300 BC–300 AD. Since the 1980s, scholars have argued that a period previously classified as a transition from the Jōmon period should be reclassified as Early Yayoi.

The period is named after the neighborhood of Tokyo where archaeologists first uncovered artifacts and features from that era. Distinguishing characteristics of the Yayoi period include the appearance of new Yayoi pottery styles and the start of an intensive rice agriculture in paddy fields.

A hierarchical social class structure dates from this period and has its origin in China. Techniques in metallurgy based on the use of bronze and iron were also introduced from China over Korea to Japan in this period.

The origin of Yayoi culture has long been debated. During the Yayoi period, cultural features from China and Korea arrived in this area at various times over several centuries, and later spread to the south and east. This was a period of mixture between immigrants and the indigenous population, and between new cultural influences and existing practices.

There are many similarities in the remains from the Yayoi and the Jiangsu, an eastern-central coastal province of China. During the earliest Chinese dynasties, the area that is now Jiangsu was far away from the center of Chinese civilization, which was in the northwest Henan; it was home of the Huai Yi, an ancient ethnic group.

During the Zhou dynasty more contact was made, and eventually the state of Wu (centered at Gusu, now Suzhou) appeared as a vassal to the Zhou dynasty in south Jiangsu, one of the many hundreds of states that existed across northern and central China at that time.

Near the end of the Spring and Autumn period, Wu became a great power under King Helu of Wu, and defeated in 484 BC the state of Qi, a major power in the north in modern-day Shandong province, and contest for the position of overlord over all states of China.

The state of Wu was subjugated in 473 BC by the state of Yue, another state that had emerged to the south in modern-day Zhejiang province. Yue was in turn subjugated by the powerful state of Chu from the west in 333 BC. Eventually the state of Qin swept away all the other states, and unified China in 221 BC.

The rulers of the State of Wu had the surname Ji, the same as the Zhou royal family. The Zhou dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang dynasty and preceded the Qin dynasty.

The military control of China by the royal house, surnamed Ji, lasted initially from 1046 until 771 BC for a period known as the Western Zhou and the political sphere of influence it created continued well into Eastern Zhou for another 500 years.

The Yayoi followed the Jōmon period and Yayoi culture flourished in a geographic area from southern Kyūshū to northern Honshū. Archaeological evidence supports the idea that during this time, an influx of farmers from the Asian continent to Japan absorbed or overwhelmed the native hunter-gatherer population.

According to Hanihara, modern Japanese lineages began with Jōmon people, who moved into the Japanese archipelago during Paleolithic times from their homeland in southeast Asia, followed by a second wave of immigration, from northeast Asia to Japan during the Yayoi period.

Following a population expansion in Neolithic times, these newcomers then found their way to the Japanese archipelago sometime during the Yayoi period.

As a result, admixture was common in the island regions of Kyūshū, Shikoku, and Honshū, but did not prevail in the outlying islands of Okinawa and Hokkaidō, and the Ryukyuan and Ainu people of Jōmon ancestry continued to dominate there.

Mark J. Hudson claims that the main ethnic image of Japanese people was biologically and linguistically formed from 400 BCE to 1,200 CE. Currently, the most well-regarded theory is that present-day Yamato Japanese are descendants of both the indigenous Jōmon people and the immigrant Yayoi people.

A 2017 study on ancient Jōmon aDNA from the Sanganji shell mound in Tōhoku estimated that the modern mainland (Yamato) Japanese inherited <20% of Jōmon peoples’ genomes. The population found to be closest to the Jōmon was the Ainu, followed by the Ryukyuans and then the mainland (Yamato) Japanese.

The Yamato people (also in older literature “Yamato race”) and Wajin (literally “Wa people”) are an East Asian ethnic group and nation native to the Japanese archipelago. The term came to be used around the late 19th century to distinguish the settlers of mainland Japan from minority ethnic groups who have settled the peripheral areas of Japan.

The ethnic groups include the Ainu, Ryukyuans, Nivkh, Oroks, as well as Koreans, Taiwanese, and Taiwanese aborigines who were incorporated into the Empire of Japan in the early 20th century.

People of Yamato Province incorporated native Japanese as well as Chinese and Korean migrants. Clan leaders also elevated their own belief system that featured ancestor worship into a national religion known as Shinto.

The name was applied to the Imperial House of Japan or “Yamato Court” that existed in Japan in the 4th century, and was originally the name of the region where the Yamato people first settled in Yamato Province (modern-day Nara Prefecture).

Generations of Japanese historians, linguists, and archeologists have debated whether the word is related to the earlier Yamatai. The Yamato clan set up Japan’s first and only dynasty.

Yamatai-koku or Yamato-koku (c. 1st century – c. 3rd century) is the Sino-Japanese name of an ancient country in Wa (Japan) during the late Yayoi period (c. BC 300 – c. 300 AD).

In the 6th century, the Yamato dynasty founded a state modeled on the Chinese states of Sui and Tang, the center of East Asian political influence at the time. As the Yamato influence expanded, their Old Japanese language became the common spoken language.

The earliest textual references to Japan are in Chinese classic texts. Wa (“Japan, Japanese”, from Chinese Wō or Wa) is the oldest recorded name of Japan.

Possibly the earliest record of Wō “Japan” occurs in the Shan Hai Jing “Classic of Mountains and Seas”. The textual dating of this collection of geographic and mythological legends is uncertain, but estimatas range from 300 BCE to 250 CE. Within the official Chinese dynastic Twenty-Four Histories, Japan is mentioned among the so-called Dongyi “Eastern Barbarians”.

The Chinese as well as Korean and Japanese scribes regularly wrote it in reference to Yamato (ancient Japanese nation) with the Chinese character until the 8th century, when the Japanese replaced it with “harmony, peace, balance.”

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On the origin of the olive

Posted by Fredsvenn on February 19, 2019

The olive, known by the botanical name Olea europaea, meaning “European olive”, is a species of small tree in the family Oleaceae. It is found in the Mediterranean Basin from Portugal to the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and southern Asia as far east as China, as well as the Canary Islands and Réunion.

The olive’s fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the Mediterranean region as the source of olive oil; it is one of the core ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine.

The importance of olive manipulation has been well defined previously by Colin Renfrew (1972), suggesting that the rise of civilizations may have been made possible by the development of a polycultural triad of wheat, vineand olive in the Aegean Early Bronze Age.

Although the palynological evidence from Greece still seems debatable this far-reaching statement demonstrates the importance ascribed to olive exploitation. Fossil evidence indicates the olive tree had its origins some 20–40 million years ago in the Oligocene, in what is now corresponding to Italy and the eastern Mediterranean Basin.

The olive plant later was first cultivated some 7,000 years ago in Mediterranean regions. The edible olive seems to have coexisted with humans for about 5,000 to 6,000 years, going back to the early Bronze Age (3150 to 1200 BC).

Its origin can be traced to the Levant based on written tablets, olive pits, and wood fragments found in ancient tombs. As for the southern Levant, the period in which the manipulation of olives began is being reviewed.

It is evident that some type of olive oil production existed in many sites belonging to the Ghassulian Chalcolithic period. According to finds from several submerged sites along the Mediterranean coast, it seems that the use of olives for their oil started as early as the sixth millennium BC.

The ample remnants of olive found in archaeological contexts, together with other finds such as pottery vessels, oil lamps, and olive oil installations, indicate that the earliest widespread use of olives in Israel was noticed in the Early Bronze Age.

However, the archaeological data indicate that widespread use of olives in ancient Israel and adjacent regions should be dated not later than the Chalcolithic.

As for the domestication of olives, to date, it is still questioned whether the olives used in this very unripe industry were previously domesticated in earlier periods, such as what some authors called the Late Neolithic and others the Early Chalcolithic (sixth to fifth millennia BC).

It has been suggested that the domestication of olives occurred previously in the Chalcolithic. The palynological evidence indicates that the utilization of olives most probably began in the Chalcolithic period, when much higher olive pollen values are documented in several southern Levantine pollen spectra.

Some of these studies considered that the dramatic rise in Olea pollen reflected the spread of olive cultivation in the region, i.e. domestication of olives. However, this has been rejected by others.

According to new research the thin, small and bitter wild fruit first gave way to oil-rich, larger olives on the border between Turkey and Syria. From there the olive tree was brought into Palestine ca 4000 BC and spread to Mediterranean and North Africa.

The urban development of Canaan lagged considerably behind that of Egypt and Mesopotamia and that of Syria, where from 3,500 BCE a sizable city developed at Hamoukar.

Hamoukar is a large archaeological site located in the Jazira region of northeastern Syria (Al Hasakah Governorate), near the Iraqi and Turkish borders. The early settlement dates back to the 5th millennium BCE, and it existed simultaneously with the Ubaid and the early Uruk cultures.

It was a big centre of obsidian production. In the 3rd millennium, this was one of the largest cities of Northern Mesopotamia. It is now believed that Hamoukar was thriving as far back as 4000 BC and independently from Sumer.

The origins of urban settlements has generally been attributed to the riverine societies of southern Mesopotamia (in what is now southern Iraq). This is the area of ancient Sumer, where around 4000 BC the Mesopotamian cities such of Ur and Uruk emerged.

In 2007, following the discoveries at Hamoukar, some archaeologists have argued that the Cradle of Civilization could have extended further up the Tigris River and included the part of northern Syria where Hamoukar is located.

It is evident that some type of olive oil production existed in many sites belonging to the Ghassulian Chalcolithic period. Ghassulian refers to a culture and an archaeological stage dating to the Middle and Late Chalcolithic Period in the Southern Levant (c. 4400 – c. 3500 BC).

The Ghassulian stage was characterized by small hamlet settlements of mixed farming peoples, who had immigrated from the north and settled in the southern Levant – today’s Jordan, Israel and Palestine.

The Ghassulian culture correlates closely with the Amratian of Egypt and also seems to have affinities (e.g., the distinctive churns, or “bird vases”) with early Minoan culture in Crete. It was Greece however, through Phoenician merchants, who brought it in the European Mediterranean area – Italy, France, Spain, Portugal- from where it spread to America and Australia.

The findings are based on the genetic analysis of nearly 1,900 samples from around the Mediterranean Sea. Olive Trees have been a part of everyday life in the area since the beginning of civilisation.

After that first cultivation, modern-day domesticated olives came mostly from three hotspots: the Near East (including Cyprus), the Aegean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar. They were then gradually spread throughout the Mediterranean with the rise of civilization. The many resources that the olive tree has to offer cannot be understated. It is believed to have contributed to the rise and power of the ancient Greek and Roman empires.

As far back as 3000 BC, olives were grown commercially in Crete; they may have been the source of the wealth of the Minoan civilization. Archaeological data and historical findings confirm that during the Minoan period (3000-1000 BC) olive cultivation and olive oil trading was widespread in Crete, which also accounts partly for the economic boom that occurred on the island during this period.

In the Palace of Knossos pottery (jars) and cisterns of stone for olive oil storage have been found, while at Phaistos one can see findings of an oil mill of that time.

In the Greek tradition, when a child is born, an olive tree is planted. The olive tree and the child will grow up together and when the child will become 6 years old, the olive tree will give its first fruit. It will grow with the family, survive through decades, and will still be there for all the coming generations to always remind us the continuity and the evolution of life.

They loved and deified the olive tree and attributed a religious and sacrosanct character to its origin, condemning to death anyone who destroyed an olive tree. Messengers would come to conclude peace carrying an olive branch, while the only award for the winners at the Olympic Games was a wreath from an olive branch.

Many Greek philosophers studied the medicinal properties of this sacred tree. Dioscorides, Diocles, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Hippocrates; the Hippocratic code features more than 60 olive treatments.

Olive oil has long been considered sacred. No fruit bearing tree in our land has been praised, painted, sung, as much as the olive tree. The olive branch was often a symbol of abundance, glory, and peace. Over the years, the olive has also been used to symbolize wisdom, fertility, power, and purity.

The olive tree’s powerful symbolism in many cultures and religions is rooted in history and tradition. It is referred to as the “blessed” tree and represents eternal life, wisdom, peace, hope and longevity and much more.

According to the Old Testament, when Noah released a dove to see if the floods had receded, it returned with an olive leaf in its beak. Genesis 8:11 in the King James Bible says, “And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.”

How far that dove must have flown to find an olive branch is beyond the scope of my knowledge and imagination. In 1974, Yasser Arafat, in a historic speech at the UN General Assembly said, “I come bearing an olive branch in one hand and a freedom fighter’s gun in the other. Do not let me drop the olive branch.” It was the first time that a non-state representative addressed the United Nations.

The leafy branches of the olive tree were ritually offered to deities and powerful figures as emblems of benediction and purification, and they were used to crown the victors of friendly games and bloody wars. Today, olive oil is still used in many religious ceremonies.

According to Greek mythology the olive tree was brought into being by the goddess Athena who won a contest with Poseidon god of the sea. The prize was the patronage of a great city and would be won by whoever presented the city with the best gift.

Poseidon struck the ground with his mighty trident and created a sea which although impressive, was too salty to drink. Athena, in less dramatic style knelt and planted something in the ground which grew into an olive tree. This turned out to be a much more useful gift. The tree produced not only food but oil for lighting, and wood for heat and building.

Athena won the contest and consequently the great city was named in her honour – Athens. Even today, an olive tree stands where this legendary contest took place, and it is said that all the olive trees in Athens are descended from the olive tree grown by Athena.

The olives produced are highly prized and a wreath made from its branches travels to the opening ceremony of each Olympic Games since the Athens games in 2004.

Olive trees can live for many years and carbon dating has revealed some to be over a thousand years old. The expected life of an olive tree is 300 to 600 years, yet there are olive trees more than 1,000 years old.

One of the oldest living olive trees in the world grows in Crete and is estimated to be more than 3000 years old. It has been growing and bearing fruit since Biblical times and has been declared a national monument.

The al Badawi olive tree in Bethlehem, which researchers peg to somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 years old, is likely the oldest living olive tree in the world. Though the tree is exceedingly old, in this ancient region of the Middle East the practice of squeezing oil from olives is even older.

According to finds from several submerged sites along the Mediterra-nean coast, it seems that the use of olives for their oilstarted as early as the sixth millennium BC. According to new archaeological research, the people were producing olive oil in the region as far back as 8,000 years ago.

In a dig at the site of the Bronze Age town of Ein Zippori, just over a mile west of Nazareth, researchers unearthed shards of broken pottery containers. According to Live Science, chemical analyses of the pottery shards revealed the traces of ancient olive oil.

Of the nearly two dozen pottery containers found at the site, two dated to around 5,800 BC. The find pushes back, by several centuries, the onset of olive oil production. The find may mark the earliest known case of olive oil production in the Mediterranean basin.

Realizing the value of the olive oil, the Romans contributed to the spread of the olive tree throughout the territories of their empire. Trade grew even more and Roman ships were carrying large quantities of oil in areas where olive trees were not cultivated, or in areas where there was a lack of olive oil due to low production.

It was the period when new olive extraction techniques were developed and great progress was made in the dissemination of the olive-related knowledge. In Byzantine times the traditional olive cultivation centers were maintained, while the olive groves of the Christian monasteries accounted for a large part of the total production.

Olive oil distribution followed the ancient schemes: it was stored in special jars, loaded onto vessels and led to major urban centers or wherever there was an increase of demand.

The need for light (illumination of temples, palaces and houses), alongside other uses, created a rising demand, meaning the Empire was continuously deficient in olive oil. It is not surprising therefore that quite often the authorities would prohibit exports, even though the Byzantine Empire was the largest exporter of olive oil worldwide. The Spanish spread the olive tree to the American continent.

In the years of the Ottoman Empire a further rise of olive oil trade occurred and maritime transportation was developed, facilitating the sea routes from the Aegean Sea to Western Europe. In the era of the Ottoman occupation, not only did oil trade reinforce local economies, but also boosted soap production, which in turn created dynamic manufacturing units.

In oil producing regions such as Crete, consulates of European countries were gradually settled. In the 1800 century oil exports supply the European markets not only with an edible product, but also with the raw material for the production of soap.

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Was Eve created from one of Adam’s ribs or was it just one big misunderstanding?

Posted by Fredsvenn on February 19, 2019

According to the Bible’s creation account, after making the heavens and the earth, God created humankind. The Adam and Eve story in Genesis 2 states that God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground, and then Eve was created from one of Adam’s ribs.

Genesis 2:21–24, NRSV: “So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs[a] and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

However, the cosmogenic myth common in Sumer was that of the hieros gamos, a sacred marriage where divine principles in the form of dualistic opposites came together as male and female to give birth to the cosmos.

In the epic Enki and Ninhursag, Enki, as lord of Ab or fresh water (also the Sumerian word for semen), is living with his wife in the paradise of Dilmun.Despite being a place where “the raven uttered no cries” and “the lion killed not, the wolf snatched not the lamb, unknown was the kid-killing dog, unknown was the grain devouring boar”, Dilmun had no water and Enki heard the cries of its goddess, Ninsikil, and orders the sun-god Utu to bring fresh water from the Earth for Dilmun.

The subsequent tale, with similarities to the Biblical story of the forbidden fruit, repeats the story of how fresh water brings life to a barren land. Dilmun was identified with Bahrain, whose name in Arabic means “two seas”, where the fresh waters of the Arabian aquifer mingle with the salt waters of the Persian Gulf.

This mingling of waters was known in Sumerian as Nammu, a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology. Nammu was the Goddess sea (Engur) that gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first gods, representing the Apsu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall.

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. The Babylonian epic Enuma Elish is named for its incipit: “When above” the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, “the first, the begetter”, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, “she who bore them all”; they were “mixing their waters”.

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. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon. She is referred to as a woman, and described as the glistening one. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation.

It is thought that female deities are older than male ones in Mesopotamia and Tiamat may have begun as part of the cult of Nammu, a female principle of a watery creative force, with equally strong connections to the underworld, which predates the appearance of Ea-Enki.

Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions. According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu. Nammu is the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”. It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going.

The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans, and Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods.

Atra-Hasis (“exceedingly wise”) is the protagonist of an 18th-century BC Akkadian epic recorded in various versions on clay tablets. The Atra-Hasis tablets include both a creation myth and a flood account, which is one of three surviving Babylonian deluge stories.

The name “Atra-Hasis” also appears on one of the Sumerian king lists as king of Shuruppak in the times before a flood. At the end of the Jemdet Nasr period (3100-2900 BC), there was an archaeologically attested river flood in Shuruppak. Polychrome pottery from a destruction level below the flood deposit has been dated to the Jemdet Nasr period that immediately preceded the Early Dynastic I period.

Enki had eaten forbidden flowers and was then cursed by Ninhursaga, who was later persuaded by the other gods to heal him. Ninhursag takes Enki’s Ab (water, or semen) into her body, and gives birth to gods of healing of each part of the body: Abu for the jaw, Nintul for the hip, Ninsutu for the tooth, Ninkasi for the mouth, Dazimua for the side, Enshagag for the limbs.

The last one, Ninti (Lady Rib; Sumerian Ti means rib and to live), is also a pun on Lady Life, a title of Ninhursag herself. Ninti is the eight goddesses of healing who was created by Ninhursag to heal Enki’s body. Her specific healing area was the rib.

The story thus symbolically reflects the way in which life is brought forth through the addition of water to the land, and once it grows, water is required to bring plants to fruit. It also counsels balance and responsibility, nothing to excess.

Ninti, the title of Ninhursag, also means “the mother of all living”, and was a title later given to the Hurrian goddess Heba. The name may be transliterated in different versions – Khepat with the feminine ending -t is primarily the Syrian and Ugaritic version. In modern literature the sound /h/ in cuneiform sometimes is transliterated as kh.

She is also a Queen of the deities. The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele. Ma was a local goddess at Ma and a Phrygian alternative name for Cybele. Ma is a Sumerian word meaning “land” that in Sumerian mythology was also used to regard Primordial Land.

Ma was a local goddess at Comana in Cappadocia. Her name Ma means “Mother”, and she also had the epithets “Invincible” and “Bringer of Victory”. She has been compared to Cybele and Bellona. The ancient Greeks compared Ma to the goddess Enyo and Athena.

Ma has been interpreted as a mother goddess, but at the same time as a warrior goddess, as her name and epithets indicate both. She was associated with the transition of adulthood of both genders, and sacred prostitution was practiced during her biennial festivals.

The mother of all living is also the title given in the Bible to Eve, the Hebrew and Aramaic Ḥawwah, who was made from the rib of Adam, in a strange reflection of the Sumerian myth, in which Adam – not Enki – walks in the Garden of Paradise.

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Aker, the Egyptian Janus?

Posted by Fredsvenn on January 13, 2019

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Cybele

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Janus

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Aker

Aker was an Ancient Egyptian earth and death deity. In several inscriptions, wall paintings and reliefs, Aker was connected to the horizon of the North and the West, forming a mythological bridge between the two horizons with his body.

Aker was first depicted as the torso of a recumbent lion with a widely opened mouth. Later, he was depicted as two recumbent lion torsos merged with each other and still looking away from each other.

From Middle Kingdom onwards Aker appears as a pair of twin lions, one named Duaj (meaning “yesterday”) and the other Sefer (meaning “tomorrow”). Aker was thus often titled “He who’s looking forward and behind”.

When depicted as a lion pair, a hieroglyphic sign for “horizon” (two merged mountains) and a sun disc was put between the lions; the lions were sitting back-on-back. In later times, Aker can also appear as two merged torsos of recumbent sphinxes with human heads.

Aker was first described as one of the earth gods guarding the “gate to the yonder site”. He protected the deceased king against the three demonic snakes Hemtet, Iqeru and Jagw. By “encircling” (i.e. interring) the deceased king, Aker sealed the deceased away from the poisonous breath of the snake demons.

Another earth deity, who joined and promoted Aker’s work, was Geb, the Egyptian god of the Earth. Thus, Aker was connected with Geb. Aker carries the nocturnal bark of Ra. During his journey, in which Aker is asked to hide the body of the dead Osiris beneath his womb, Aker is protected by the god Geb.

In the Heliopolitan Ennead (a group of nine gods created in the beginning by the one god Atum or Ra), Geb is the husband of Nut, the sky or visible daytime and nightly firmament, the son of the earlier primordial elements Tefnut (moisture) and Shu (’emptiness’), and the father to the four lesser gods of the system – Osiris, Seth, Isis and Nephthys.

In this context, Geb was believed to have originally been engaged with Nut and had to be separated from her by Shu, god of the air. Consequently, in mythological depictions, Geb was shown as a man reclining, sometimes with his phallus still pointed towards Nut. Geb and Nut together formed the permanent boundary between the primeval waters and the newly created world.

In other spells and prayers, Aker is connected with Seth, a god of chaos, the desert, storms, disorder, violence, and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion, and even determined with the Seth animal. This is interesting, because Seth is described as a wind deity, not as an earth deity.

In the famous Coffin Texts of Middle Kingdom period, Aker replaces the god Kherty, becoming now the “ferryman of Ra in his nocturnal bark”. Aker protects the sun god during his nocturnal travelling through the underworld caverns.

In the famous Book of the Dead, Aker also “gives birth” to the god Khepri, the young, rising sun in shape of a scarab beetle who represents the rising or morning sun, and by extension, the creation and the renewal of life, after Aker has carried Khepri’s sarcophagus safely through the underworld caverns.

Khepri is derived from Egyptian language verb ḫpr, meaning “develop”, “come into being”, or “create”. The god was connected with the scarab beetle (ḫprr in Egyptian), because the scarab rolls balls of dung across the ground, an act that the Egyptians saw as a symbol of the forces that move the sun across the sky. Khepri was thus a solar deity.

Young dung beetles, having been laid as eggs within the dung ball, emerge from it fully formed. Therefore, Khepri also represented creation and rebirth, and he was specifically connected with the rising sun and the mythical creation of the world.

There was no cult devoted to Khepri, and he was largely subordinate to the greater sun god Ra. Often, Khepri and another solar deity, Atum, were seen as aspects of Ra: Khepri was the morning sun, Ra was the midday sun, and Atum was the sun in the evening.

Certain sarcophagus texts from the tombs of Ramesses IV, Djedkhonsuiusankh and Pediamenopet describe how the sun god Ra travels through the underworld “like Apophis going through the belly of Aker after Apophis was cut by Seth”. In this case, Aker seems to be some kind of representation of the underworld itself.

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Rune Secrets

Posted by Fredsvenn on January 12, 2019

The study of the runes and their meaning is a study of personal development, spiritual growth and the spread of consciousness throughout human societies and into the universe. The Elder Futhark Runes are a complete system of magic, and the oldest form of western wisdom.

fehu uruz thurisaz ansuz raidho kenaz gebo wunjo
hagalaz nauthiz isa jera ihwaz perthro algiz sowilo
tiwaz berkano ehwaz mannaz laguz inguz dagaz othala

Elder Futhark – Rune Meanings

Younger Futhork – Rune Meanings

Northumbrian Runes – Rune Meanings

Armanen Runes – Rune Meanings

Anglo-Saxon and Frisian Rune Sets

Anglo-Saxon and Frisian Runes – Rune Meanings

Rune Secrets 

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Posted by Fredsvenn on January 11, 2019

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Uranus

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Algiz – Heimdall

The symbol, reversed, might be used to access the realm of the dead, giants, and the unconscious.

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Yggdrasil, the World Tree

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T – Tyr

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Sagittarius – Centaurus

Posted by Fredsvenn on January 11, 2019

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Centaurus

Centaurus Constellation

Constellation Centaurus

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Centaurus is a bright constellation in the southern sky. n Greek mythology, Centaurus represents a centaur; a creature that is half human, half horse (another constellation named after a centaur is one from the zodiac: Sagittarius).

While Centaurus now has a high southern latitude, at the dawn of civilization it was an equatorial constellation. Precession has been slowly shifting it southward for millennia, and it is now close to its maximal southern declination. Thousands of years from now Centaurus will, once again, be at lower latitudes and be visible worldwide.

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Sagittarius

In geometry, the sagitta (sometimes abbreviated as sag) of a circular arc is the distance from the center of the arc to the center of its base. Architects, engineers, and contractors use these equations to create “flattened” arcs that are used in curved walls, arched ceilings, bridges, and numerous other applications.

It is used extensively in architecture when calculating the arc necessary to span a certain height and distance and also in optics where it is used to find the depth of a spherical mirror or lens. The name comes directly from Latin sagitta, meaning an arrow.

The sagitta is the vertical line from the midpoint of the chord to the arc itself. It is a measure of the ‘height’ of the arc. The length of the chord, sagitta and radius of the arc are inter-related, and if you know any two you can calculate the third.

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According to the Talmudists, the emblem of Nergal was a cockerel and Nergal means a “dunghill cock”, although standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion. The word “Gallus” is also the Latin word for rooster. A play upon his name—separated into three elements as Ne-uru-gal (light of the great Ûru; lord of the great dwelling)—expresses his position at the head of the nether-world pantheon.

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Lahmu

In Sumerian times Laḫmu may have meant “the muddy one”. Lahmu guarded the gates of the Abzu temple of Enki at Eridu. He and his sister Laḫamu are primordial deities in the Babylonian Epic of Creation Enuma Elis and Lahmu may be related to or identical with “Lahamu”, one of Tiamat’s creatures in that epic.

Laḫmu is depicted as a bearded man with a red sash – usually with three strands – and four to six curls on his head and they are also depicted as monsters, which each encompasses a specific constellation. He is often associated with the Kusarikku or “Bull-Man”. Lahamu is sometimes seen as a serpent, and sometimes as a woman with a red sash and six curls on her head.

An Assyrian lamassu dated 721 BC

The lamassu (Cuneiform: an.kal; Sumerian: dlammař; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus) is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human head, the body of a bull or a lion, and bird wings. Lammasu represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations.

In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity. A less frequently used name is shedu (Cuneiform: an.kal×bad; Sumerian: dalad; Akkadian, šēdu‬), which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu. 

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A composition of the Four Living Creatures into one tetramorph. Matthew the man, Mark the lion, Luke the ox, and John the eagle

Assyrian sculpture typically placed prominent pairs of lamassu at entrances in palaces, facing the street and also internal courtyards. They were represented as “double-aspect” figures on corners, in high relief. From the front they appear to stand, and from the side, walk, and in earlier versions have five legs, as is apparent when viewed obliquely.

The ancient Jewish people were influenced by the iconography of Assyrian culture. The prophet Ezekiel wrote about a fantastic being made up of aspects of a human being, a lion, an eagle and a bull. Later, in the early Christian period, the four Gospels were ascribed to each of these components. When it was depicted in art, this image was called the Tetramorph.

A 13th century Cluniac ivory carving of Christ in Majesty surrounded by the creatures of the tetramorph.

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Letter resh – The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Rho (Ρ), Etruscan Etruscan EtruscanR-01.svg, Latin R, and Cyrillic Р.

Nr: 4 – 4 seasons – 4 elements in astrology – the Tetramorph

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An excursus on the Egyptian word nTr

Life and death

According to Macrobius who cites Nigidius Figulus and Cicero, Janus and Jana (Diana) are a pair of divinities, worshipped as Apollo or the sun and moon, whence Janus received sacrifices before all the others, because through him is apparent the way of access to the desired deity.

A similar solar interpretation has been offered by A. Audin, who interprets the god as the issue of a long process of development starting with the Sumerian culture from two solar pillars located on the eastern side of temples, each of them marking the direction of the rising sun at the dates of the two solstices. The southeastern corresponding to the Winter and the northeastern to the Summer solstice.

These two pillars would be at the origin of the theology of the divine twins, one of whom is mortal (related to the NE pillar, as confining with the region where the sun does not shine) and the other is immortal (related to the SE pillar and the region where the sun always shines). Later these iconographic models evolved in the Middle East and Egypt into a single column representing two torsos and finally a single body with two heads looking at opposite directions.

Göbekli Tepe

Göbekli Tepe, Turkish for “Potbelly Hill”, is an archaeological site in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa. The tell includes two phases of use believed to be of a social or ritual nature dating back to the 10th–8th millennium BCE.

During the first phase, belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars were erected – the world’s oldest known megaliths. More than 200 pillars in about 20 circles are currently known through geophysical surveys. Each pillar has a height of up to 6 m (20 ft) and weighs up to 10 tons. They are fitted into sockets that were hewn out of the bedrock.

In the second phase, belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB), the erected pillars are smaller and stood in rectangular rooms with floors of polished lime. The site was abandoned after the PPNB. Younger structures date to classical times.

The details of the structure’s function remain a mystery. It was excavated by a German archaeological team under the direction of Klaus Schmidt from 1996 until his death in 2014. Schmidt believed that the site was a sanctuary where people from a wide region periodically congregated, not a settlement.

Gobekli Tepe’s hilltop site was not defensive or residential and the indications are that it was a sacred area and that the two pillars outside the entrance of some of the circles represented a gateway between secular and religious ground.

Three layers could be distinguished up to now at the site. The oldest Layer III (10th millenium BC) is characterized by monolithic T-shaped pillars weighing tons, which were positioned in circle-like structures. The pillars were interconnected by limestone walls and benches leaning at the inner side of the walls. In the centre of these enclosures there are always two bigger pillars, with a height of over 5 m. The circles measure 10-20 m.

Two huge central pillars are surrounded by a circle formed by – at current state of excavation – 11 pillars of similar T-shape. Most of these pillars are decorated with depictions of animals, foxes, birds (e.g. cranes, storks and ducks), and snakes being the most common species in this enclosure, accompanied by a wide range of figurations including the motives of boar, aurochs, gazelle, wild donkey and larger carnivores.

In particular these central pillars of Enclosure D allow demonstrating the anthropomorphic appearance of the T-shaped pillars. They might have been gods who had T-shapes instead of heads because it was forbidden to see their faces. The T-shaped stones around the circle may have been their companions.

Gobekli Tepe’s hilltop site was not defensive or residential and the indications are that it was a sacred area and that the two pillars outside the entrance of some of the circles represented a gateway between secular and religious ground.

According to Andrew Collins the central pillars of Enclosure D target Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation of Cygnus, also known as the celestial bird, or swan, and one of the brightest stars in the night sky and one corner of the Summer Triangle, as it extinguishes on the north-northwestern horizon.

Other structures at Göbekli Tepe were built perhaps with different considerations in mind. Enclosure B’s central pillars are unlikely to have targeted Deneb during the epoch in question.

The twin pillars marking the entrance to the apse in Enclosure A were orientated almost exactly northwest to southeast, while those in Enclosure F (a smaller, much later structure west of the main group) are aligned east-northeast or west-southwest, very close to the angle at which the sun rises on the summer solstice and sets on the winter solstice.

Lamassu

The lamassu (Cuneiform: an.kal; Sumerian: dlammař; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus) is a celestial being from ancient Mesopotamian religion in art often depicted as having a human head, the body of a bull, sometimes with the horns and the ears of a bull, or a lion and bird wings. The motif of a winged animal with a human head is common to the Near East, first recorded in Ebla around 3000 BC.

In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity. A less frequently used name is shedu (Cuneiform: an.kal×bad; Sumerian: dalad; Akkadian, šēdu‬), which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu.

They represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations. They were household protective spirits of the common Babylonian people, becoming associated later as royal protectors, and were placed as sentinels at entrances. They are depicted as protective deities because they encompass all life within them. To protect houses, the lamassu were engraved in clay tablets, which were then buried under the door’s threshold.

In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, they are depicted as physical deities as well, which is where the lammasu iconography originates, these deities could be microcosms of their microcosmic zodiac, parent-star, or constellation.

They were often placed as a pair at the entrance of palaces. At the entrance of cities they were sculpted in colossal size and placed as a pair. One at each side of the door of the city, that generally had doors in the surrounding wall, each one looking towards one of the cardinal points.

Although lamassu had a different iconography and portrayal in the culture of Sumer, the terms “lamassu”, “alad”, and “shedu” evolved throughout the Assyro-Akkadian culture from the Sumerian culture to denote the Assyrian-winged-man-bull symbol and statues during the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Female lamassu were called “apsasû”.

Lumasi do not generally appear as large figures in the low-relief schemes running round palace rooms, where winged genie figures are common, but they sometimes appear within narrative reliefs, apparently protecting the Assyrians.

The colossal entranceway figures were often followed by a hero grasping a wriggling lion, also colossal in scale and in high relief. The first distinct lamassu motif appeared in Assyria during the reign of Tiglath-Pileser II as a symbol of power.

The motif of the Assyrian-winged-man-bull called Aladlammu and Lamassu interchangeably is not the lamassu or alad of Sumerian origin, which were depicted with different iconography. These monumental statues were called aladlammû or lamassu which meant “protective spirit”.

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 Akkadians associated the god Papsukkal with a lamassu and the god Išum with shedu. Papsukkal was syncretized with Ninshubur, the messenger of the goddess Inanna. Much like Iris or Hermes in later Greek mythology, Ninshubur served as a messenger to the other gods.

Artemis / Apollo

Potnia Theron / Lord of Animals

In Hittite, the Sumerian form dlamma is used both as a name for the so-called “tutelary deity”, identified in certain later texts with Inara, and a title given to similar protective gods. Inara, in Hittite–Hurrian mythology, was the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe and daughter of the Storm-god Teshub/Tarhunt. She corresponds to the “potnia theron” of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis.

In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of 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.

Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, wild animals and chastity in the ancient Greek religion and myth. Artemis is the Moon and Apollo is the Sun.

Many depictions use a female version of the widespread ancient motif of the male Master of Animals, showing a central figure with a human form grasping two animals, one to each side. The oldest depiction has been discovered in Çatalhöyük. Potnia Theron (“The Mistress of the Animals”) is a term first used (once) by Homer and often used to describe female divinities associated with animals.

In ancient Roman religion, Feronia was a goddess associated with wildlife, fertility, health, and abundance. As the goddess who granted freedom to slaves or civil rights to the most humble part of society, she was especially honored among plebeians and freedmen. Varro identified Feronia with Libertas, the goddess who personified Liberty. According to Servius, Feronia was a tutelary goddess of freedmen (dea libertorum).

Proserpina or Proserpine is an ancient Roman goddess whose cult, myths and mysteries were combined from those of Libera, an early Roman goddess of wine, and the Greek Persephone and Demeter, goddesses of grain and agriculture. The originally Roman goddess Libera was daughter of the agricultural goddess Ceres and wife to Liber, god of wine and freedom.

In 204 BC, a new “greek-style” cult to Ceres and Proserpina as “Mother and Maiden” was imported from southern Italy, along with Greek priestesses to serve it, and was installed in Libera and Ceres’ temple on Rome’s Aventine Hill.

The new cult and its priesthood were actively promoted by Rome’s religious authorities as morally desirable for respectable Roman women, and may have partly subsumed the temple’s older, native cult to Ceres, Liber and Libera; but the new rites seem to have functioned alongside the old, rather than replaced them.

In early Roman religion, Libera was the female equivalent of Liber (freedom). She was originally an Italic goddess; at some time during Rome’s Regal or very early Republican eras, she was paired with Liber, also known as Liber Pater (The Free Father), Roman god of wine, male fertility, and a guardian of plebeian freedoms. She enters Roman history as part of a Triadic cult alongside Ceres and Liber, in a temple established on the Aventine Hill around 493 BCE.

The location and context of this early cult mark her association with Rome’s commoner-citizens, or plebs; she might have been offered cult on March 17 as part of Liber’s festival, Liberalia, or at some time during the seven days of Cerealia (mid- to late April); in the latter festival, she would have been subordinate to Ceres. Otherwise, her relationship to her Aventine cult partners is uncertain; she has no known native mythology.

Libera was officially identified with Proserpina in 205 BCE, when she acquired a Romanised form of the Greek mystery rites and their attendant mythology. In the late Republican era, Cicero described Liber and Libera as Ceres’ children. At around the same time, possibly in the context of popular or religious drama, Hyginus equated her with Greek Ariadne, as bride to Liber’s Greek equivalent, Dionysus.

The older and newer forms of her cult and rites, and their diverse associations, persisted well into the late Imperial era. St. Augustine (AD 354 – 430) observed that Libera is concerned with female fertility, as Liber is with male fertility.

Freyr (Old Norse: Lord), sometimes anglicized as Frey, is a widely attested god associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather, and pictured as a phallic fertility god in Norse mythology. Freyr is said to “bestow peace and pleasure on mortals”.

In the Icelandic books the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Freyr is presented as one of the Vanir, the son of the sea god Njörðr, as well as the twin brother of the goddess Freyja (Old Norse for “(the) Lady”), a goddess associated with love, sex, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death.

Numerous theories have been proposed for the etymology of Vanir. It is tempting to link the word with “Old Norse vinr, ‘friend’, and Latin Venus, ‘goddess of physical love.'” 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-.

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

Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *h₂ewsṓs, a number of epithets of the dawn goddess may be reconstructed with some certainty. Among these is *wenos- (also an s-stem), whence Sanskrit vanas “loveliness; desire”, used of Uṣas in the Rigveda, and the Latin name Venus and the Norse Vanir.

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 probably the original love and lust deity in Proto-Indo-European religion, an aspect maintained in nearly all reflexes but noticeably lost in later stages of Hellenic and Indu myth (Eos replaced by Aphrodite and Eros, Ushas replaced by Kamadeva). Notably, the Greek myth of Aphrodite cursing Eos with lust may be a representation of usurpation of the role as love goddess by the former.

In spite of the association of the dawn with life, counterintuitively the dawn was possibly also associated with aging and decay in Proto-Indo-European myth, probably under the assumption that each dawn brings human beings closer to death or alternatively that sun rays induce rot.

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.

Nearly all reflexes are associated with reddish horses, perhaps due to syncretism with solar goddesses as well as the hypothesised relation with the Divine Twins. Poseidon represents the river spirit of the underworld and he appears as a horse as it often happens in northern-European folklore. He pursues the mare-Demeter and she bears one daughter who obviously originally had the form or the shape of a mare too.

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. However, though nonetheless the epithet “daughter of heaven” remains in nearly all Indo-European mythologies.

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.

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.

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.

Laḫmu

Laḫmu (also called Lakhmu, Lache, Lumasi or Assyro-Akkadian Lammasu) is a deity from Akkadian mythology that represents the zodiac, parent stars, or constellations. It is the name of a protective and beneficent deity.

Lahmu guarded the gates of the Abzu temple of Enki at Eridu. He and his sister Laḫamu (also Lakhamu, Lachos, Lumasi, or Assyro-Akkadian Lammasu) are primordial deities in the Babylonian Epic of Creation Enuma Elis and Lahmu may be related to or identical with “Lahamu”, one of Tiamat’s creatures in that epic. Lahamu is sometimes seen as a serpent, and sometimes as a woman with a red sash and six curls on her head.

They are the first-born children of Tiamat and Abzu in Akkadian mythology. They are the parents of Anshar, which means “whole heaven”, and Kishar, which means “Whole Earth”, the sky father and earth mother, who were in turn parents of the first gods of the Mesopotamian Pantheon. Among them, Anu, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons.

Laḫmu is depicted as a bearded man with a red sash – usually with three strands – and four to six curls on his head and they are also depicted as monsters, which each encompasses a specific constellation. He is often associated with the Kusarikku or “Bull-Man”.

Some scholars, such as William F. Albright, have speculated that the name of Bethlehem (“house of lehem”) originally referred to a Canaanite fertility deity cognate with Laḫmu and Laḫamu, rather than to the Canaanite word lehem, “bread”.

In Sumerian times Laḫmu may have meant “the muddy one”. It is suggested that the pair were represented by the silt of the sea-bed, but more accurately are known to be the representations of the zodiac, parent-stars, or constellations.

In Mesopotamian tradition, Nammu, the goddess of the primeval creative matter and the mother-goddess portrayed as having “given birth to the great gods,” was the mother of Enki, and as the watery creative force, was said to preexist Ea-Enki.

Benito states “With Enki it is an interesting change of gender symbolism, the fertilising agent is also water, Sumerian “a” or “Ab” which also means “semen”. In one evocative passage in a Sumerian hymn, Enki stands at the empty riverbeds and fills them with his ‘water'”.

Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu (Apsu in Akkadian), the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth. In the later Babylonian epic Enûma Eliš, Abzu, the “begetter of the gods”, is inert and sleepy but finds his peace disturbed by the younger gods, so sets out to destroy them.

His grandson Enki, chosen to represent the younger gods, puts a spell on Abzu “casting him into a deep sleep”, thereby confining him deep underground. Enki subsequently sets up his home “in the depths of the Abzu.” Enki thus takes on all of the functions of the Abzu, including his fertilising powers as lord of the waters and lord of semen.

On the Adda Seal, Enki is depicted with two streams of water flowing into each of his shoulders: one the Tigris, the other the Euphrates. Alongside him are two trees, symbolizing the male and female aspects of nature. He is shown wearing a flounced skirt and a cone-shaped hat. An eagle descends from above to land upon his outstretched right arm. This portrayal reflects Enki’s role as the god of water, life, and replenishment.

Pabilsag – Nininsinna

Pabilsag in Mesopotamian tradition was a tutelary god of the city of Isin. The consort of the goddess Nininsinna (Sumerian: Nin-sumun(ak) “lady of the wild cows”), he was identified with the lost city of Larak. He is represented in the constellation Sagittarius, commonly represented as a centaur pulling back a bow.

Pabilsag is reminiscent of modern depictions of the constellation Sagittarius, the half human and half horse, the learned healer whose higher intelligence forms a bridge between Earth and Heaven.

The Babylonians identified Sagittarius as the god Nergal, a strange centaur-like creature firing an arrow from a bow. It is generally depicted with wings, with two heads, one panther head and one human head, as well as a scorpion’s stinger raised above its more conventional horse’s tail.

In Greek mythology, Sagittarius is usually identified as a centaur: half human, half horse. However, perhaps due to the Greeks’ adoption of the Sumerian constellation, some confusion surrounds the identity of the archer.

As there are two centaurs in the sky, some identify Chiron with the other constellation, known as Centaurus. Or, as an alternative tradition holds, that Chiron devised the constellations Sagittarius and Centaurus to help guide the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece.

A competing mythological tradition, as espoused by Eratosthenes, identified the Archer not as a centaur but as the satyr Crotus, son of Pan, who Greeks credited with the invention of archery. According to myth, Crotus often went hunting on horseback and lived among the Muses, who requested that Zeus place him in the sky, where he is seen demonstrating archery.

The text Pabilsag’s Journey to Nibru describes Pabilsag as journeying to Nippur and presenting the god Enlil with gifts. He was given the epithet of “the wild bull with multicoloured legs”.

The Sumerian name Pabilsag is composed of two elements – Pabil, meaning ‘elder paternal kinsman’ and Sag, meaning ‘chief, head’. The name may thus be translated as the ‘Forefather’ or ‘Chief Ancestor’.

According to the ancient Babylonian text, Pabilsag wedded Nininsina, who was the tutelary goddess of Gudea of Lagash, near a riverbank and gave birth to Damu as a result of the union.

In Sumerian mythology, Ninsun was originally called Gula until her name was later changed to Ninisina. Later, Gula became a Babylonian goddess. Other names include Rimat-Ninsun (from Akkadian rimātu “cattle”), the “August Cow”, the “Wild Cow of the Enclosure”, and “The Great Queen”.

Sagittarius

Sagittarius is the ninth astrological sign, which is associated with the constellation Sagittarius and spans 240–270th degrees of the zodiac. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this sign between approximately November 23 and December 21. Its name is Latin for the archer, and its symbol is a stylized arrow.

Sagittarius lies between Scorpius and Ophiuchus to the west and Capricornus and Microscopium to the east. As of 2002, the Sun appears in the constellation Sagittarius from 18 December to 18 January. In tropical astrology, the Sun is considered to be in the sign Sagittarius from 22 November to 21 December, and in sidereal astrology, from 16 December to 14 January.

Along with Aries and Leo, Sagittarius is a part of the Fire Trigon as well as the last of the reproductive trinity. It also follows Gemini and Virgo as third of the mutable signs, which are the signs that feature changeable quality.

Also known as the Archer, Sagittarius is represented by the symbol of a bow and arrow. Sagittarius famously points its arrow at the heart of Scorpius, represented by the reddish star Antares, as the two constellations race around the sky.

The arrow of this constellation points towards the star Antares, the “heart of the scorpion”, and Sagittarius stands poised to attack should Scorpius ever attack the nearby Hercules, or to avenge Scorpius’s slaying of Orion.

The symbol of the zodiac sign is a Centaur armed with arrows following an old tradition coming from Ancient Greece and from other cultures of the past. As an archer, Sagittarius is said to never fail in hitting the mark and this depiction alludes to the power of prophecy, hence, the claim that seers and prophets are born in this sign.

The image of the sign says a lot about his features: He’s able to be extremely violent or wise, brave or mild. When Sagittarius is depicted as an archer, then he is classified as human, but when represented as a centaur, he is nonhuman (bestial). However, the classification of the astrological sign as a human or bestial does not carry practical consequences for interpretation.

The Milky Way

The Milky Way is at its densest near Sagittarius, as this is where the galactic center lies. As a result, Sagittarius contains many star clusters and nebulae. The center of the Milky Way lies in the westernmost part of Sagittarius.

Sagittarius A

Sagittarius A or Sgr A is a complex radio source at the center of the Milky Way. It is located in the constellation Sagittarius, and is hidden from view at optical wavelengths by large clouds of cosmic dust in the spiral arms of the Milky Way.

It consists of three components, the supernova remnant Sagittarius A East, the spiral structure Sagittarius A West, and a very bright compact radio source at the center of the spiral, Sagittarius A* (“Sagittarius A-star”). These three overlap: Sagittarius A East is the largest, West appears off-center within East, and A* is at the center of West.

Sagitta

Sagitta is a dim but distinctive constellation in the northern sky. Its name is Latin for “arrow”, and it should not be confused with the significantly larger constellation Sagittarius, the archer. Located to the north of the equator, Sagitta can be seen from every location on Earth except within the Antarctic circle.

The Greeks who may have originally identified this constellation called it Oistos. The Romans named it Sagitta. Sagitta’s shape is reminiscent of an arrow, and many cultures have interpreted it thus, among them the Persians, Hebrews, Greeks and Romans. The Arabs called it as-Sahm, a name that was transferred Sham and now refers to Alpha Sagittae only.

In ancient Greece, Sagitta was regarded as the weapon that Hercules used to kill the eagle (Aquila) of Jove that perpetually gnawed Prometheus’ liver. The Arrow is located beyond the north border of Aquila, the Eagle.

According to R.H. Allen, the Arrow could be the one shot by Hercules towards the adjacent Stymphalian birds (6th labor) who had claws, beaks and wings of iron, and who lived on human flesh in the marshes of Arcadia – Aquila the Eagle, Cygnus the Swan, and Lyra (the Vulture) – and still lying between them, whence the title Herculea (although Allen cites no reference to support this assertion). Eratosthenes claimed it as the arrow with which Apollo exterminated the Cyclopes.

Chiron

Some identify Sagittarius as the centaur Chiron (also Cheiron or Kheiron; Greek: “hand”), the son of Philyra and Cronus, who mentored Achilles, a Greek hero of the Trojan War, in archery and who was said to have changed himself into a horse to escape his jealous wife, Rhea, and tutor to Jason.

Chiron’s lineage was different from other centaurs, who were born from Ixion (“strong native”), the king of the Lapiths, the most ancient tribe of Thessaly, and a son of Ares, or Leonteus, or Antion and Perimele, or the notorious evildoer Phlegyas, whose name connotes “fiery”, and Nephele (“cloud”), which in the Olympian telling Zeus invented to look like Hera.

Ixion married Dia, a daughter of Deioneus (or Eioneus) and promised his father-in-law a valuable present. However, he did not pay the bride price, so Deioneus stole some of Ixion’s horses in retaliation. Ixion concealed his resentment and invited his father-in-law to a feast at Larissa. When Deioneus arrived, Ixion pushed him into a bed of burning coals and wood.

These circumstances are secondary to the fact of Ixion’s primordial act of murder; it could be accounted for quite differently: in the Greek Anthology (iii.12), among a collection of inscriptions from a temple in Cyzicus is an epigrammatic description of Ixion slaying Phorbas (“giving pasture”) and Polymelos, who had slain his mother, Megara, the “great one”.

Ixion went mad, defiled by his act; the neighboring princes were so offended by this act of treachery and violation of xenia that they refused to perform the rituals that would cleanse Ixion of his guilt. Thereafter, Ixion lived as an outlaw and was shunned. By killing his father-in-law, Ixion was reckoned the first man guilty of kin-slaying in Greek mythology. That alone would warrant him a terrible punishment.

However, Zeus had pity on Ixion and brought him to Olympus and introduced him at the table of the gods. Instead of being grateful, Ixion grew lustful for Hera, Zeus’s wife, a further violation of guest-host relations. Zeus found out about his intentions and made a cloud in the shape of Hera, which became known as Nephele (from nephos “cloud”) and tricked Ixion into coupling with it.

From the union of Ixion and the false-Hera cloud came Imbros or Centauros, the father of the race of mythological beasts known as the centaurs or Ixionidae, who mated with the Magnesian mares on Mount Pelion, Pindar told, engendering the race of Centaurs, who are called the Ixion from their descent.

Centaurus was a deformed child who hunched over and found no peace amongst other humans. The only place where Centaurus felt like he belonged was on the mountain of Pelion. Here, he roamed, lived, and mated with the Magnesian mares who resided there. This resulted in the birth of the centaur race. The centaurs are half-man, half horse; having the torso of a man extending where the neck of a horse should be. They were said to be wild, savage, and lustful.

Centaurus was the first person to group stars into constellations and taught others how to read them. One explanation of the constellation is that Centaurus put a picture of himself in the sky to guide his sailor friends the Argonauts.

Ixion was expelled from Olympus and blasted with a thunderbolt. Zeus ordered Hermes to bind Ixion to a winged fiery wheel that was always spinning. Therefore, Ixion is bound to a burning solar wheel for all eternity, at first spinning across the heavens, but in later myth transferred to Tartarus. Only when Orpheus played his lyre during his trip to the Underworld to rescue Eurydice did it stop for a while.

In Greek mythology, Chiron was held to be the superlative centaur amongst his brethren, as he was called as the “wisest and justest of all the centaurs” and notable throughout Greek mythology for his youth-nurturing nature. Throughout Greek mythology, there were many heroes who were trained by Chiron.

Chiron was known for his knowledge and skill with medicine, and thus was credited with the discovery of botany and pharmacy, the science of herbs and medicine. He was the son of the Titan Cronus and the Oceanid Philyra, and thus possible brother to Dolops and Aphrus, the ancestor and eponym of the Aphroi, i.e. the native Africans.

According to an archaic myth, Chiron was sired by the Titan Cronus when he had taken the form of a horse and impregnated the nymph Philyra, hence the half-human, half-equine shape of their offspring. In Greek mythology, Philyra or Phillyra (“linden-tree”) was one of the Oceanids, daughters of Oceanus and Tethys.

This was said to have taken place on Mount Pelion. When she gave birth to her son, she was so disgusted by how he looked that she abandoned him out of shame and disgust at birth, and implored the gods to transform her into anything other than anthropomorphic as she could not bear the shame of having had such a monstrous child; the gods changed her into a linden tree.

Yet in some versions Philyra and Chariclo, the wife of Chiron, nursed the young Achilles; Chiron’s dwelling on Pelion where his disciples were reared was known as “Philyra’s cave”. Chiron was often referred to by the matronymic Philyrides or the like. Two other sons of Cronus and Philyra may have been Dolops and Aphrus, the ancestor and eponym of the Aphroi, i.e. the native Africans.

Chiron, effectively orphaned, was later found by the god Apollo, who decided to take him in as his son. Apollo taught to him the art of music, lyre, archery, medicine and prophecy. Apollo’s twin sister, Artemis, later approved of his decision and taught him more about archery and hunting. Chiron’s uniquely peaceful character, kindness and intelligence is attributed to Apollo and also to Artemis.

His personal skills tend to match those of his foster father Apollo, who taught the young centaur the art of medicine, herbs, music, archery, hunting, gymnastics and prophecy, and made him rise above his beastly nature.

Like satyrs, centaurs were notorious for being wild, lusty, overly indulgent drinkers and carousers, violent when intoxicated, and generally uncultured delinquents. Chiron, by contrast, was intelligent, civilized and kind, because he was not related directly to the other centaurs due to his parentage.

His nobility is further reflected in the story of his death, as Prometheus sacrificed his life, allowing mankind to obtain the use of fire. Chiron was the king of the centaurs and unlike his race he was intelligent and wise. So wise, in fact, that he tutored Heracles who became one of his great friends.

As the son of Cronus he was immortal, so it was left to Heracles to arrange a bargain with Zeus to exchange Chiron’s immortality for the life of Prometheus, who had been chained to a rock and left to die for his transgressions.

Chiron was pierced with an arrow belonging to Heracles that had been treated with the blood of the Hydra, or, in other versions, poison that Chiron had given to the hero when he had been under the honorable centaur’s tutelage.

This had taken place during the visit of Heracles to the cave of his dear friend Pholus on Mount Pelion in Thessaly during his fourth labour, defeating the Erymanthian Boar.

Pholus was a centaur and was having dinner with Heracles. While they were at supper, Heracles asked for some wine to accompany his meal. Pholus, who ate his food raw, was taken aback. He had been given a vessel of sacred wine by Dionysus sometime earlier, to be kept in trust by the centaurs until the right time for its opening.

At Heracles’ prompting, Pholus was forced to produce the vessel of sacred wine. The hero, gasping for wine, grabbed it from him and forced it open. Thereupon the vapors of the sacred wine wafted out of the cave and intoxicated the wild centaurs led by Nessus who had gathered outside.

The wine was the sacred wine of the centaurs. It was meant to only be drunk by the centaurs and only on special occasions. Pholus saw this and could not muster up the courage to tell his strong friend that he was not allowed to drink that wine. It was not long before the sacred scent reached the other centaurs.

The infuriated centaurs grabbed weapons and charged at Pholus’ house. They attacked with stones and fir trees the cave which was located in the neighbourhood of Malea. Heracles was forced to shoot many arrows (poisoned with the blood of the Hydra) to drive them back.

The coward Pholus fled almost immediately and left Heracles to fend for himself. Heracles killed several of the centaurs and soon enough of them were dead that the rest became afraid and tried to flee.

Upon shooting at the fleeing beasts, Heracles’ poison arrow grazed the knee of Chiron. Chiron was not involved in the fight but came out to try to stop it. During the assault, Chiron was hit in the thigh by one of the poisoned arrows.

After the centaurs had fled, Pholus emerged from the cave to observe the destruction. Being of a philosophical frame of mind, he pulled one of the arrows from the body of a dead centaur and wondered how such a little thing as an arrow could have caused so much death and destruction.

In that instant, he let slip the arrow from his hand and it dropped and hit him in the hoof, killing him instantly. This, however, is open to controversy, because Pholus shared the “civilized centaur” form with Chiron in some art images, and thus would have been immortal.

Ironically, Chiron, the master of the healing arts, could not heal himself and willingly gave up his immortality. For this reason, his half-brother Zeus took pity of him thus placed him among the stars in the sky to be honored. The Greeks identified him as the constellation Centaurus.

The immortal Chiron could not die from his wound and thus would be doomed to live in great pain forever. He cried to Zeus to give him relief and end his life. Zeus took pity on the centaur and let him die. To honor him, Zeus gave Chiron a place amongst the stars.

Centaurus

Constellation Centaurus the Centaur, sits south of constellation Virgo, between Argo Navis and constellation Lupus. Centaurus contains 10 named fixed stars. Centaurus is one of the largest constellations, spanning more than 60 degrees in length in the zodiac signs Libra and Scorpio.

Centaurus is a bright constellation in the southern sky. It is the ninth largest constellation, visible in the far southern sky in the months around March. While Centaurus now has a high southern latitude, at the dawn of civilization it was an equatorial constellation.

Precession has been slowly shifting it southward for millennia, and it is now close to its maximal southern declination. Thousands of years from now Centaurus will, once again, be at lower latitudes and be visible worldwide.

Visually, it is dominated by the bright stars α-Cen andβ-Cen, which form a pair of pointers to the Southern Cross, Crux, and may be used to distinguish it from the False Cross asterism in Carina and Vela. The brighter of these, α-Cen is not only the third brightest star in the sky but also the closest of all the stars visible to the unaided eye, lying at a distance of around 4.37 lightyears.

Although it appears as a single object to the unaided eye, it is actually a triple-star system. Through a telescope, it is easy to resolve into a pair of stars, of which HR 5459 is the brighter and HR 5460 the fainter. A third component of this system, Proxima Centauri, is the nearest known star to the Earth, but at 11th magnitude, it is very faint.

The Milky Way passes through the southern half of Centaurus, and so it is home to many bright open clusters. Its best known deep sky object is ω–Centauri (NGC 5139) which is the largest and brightest globular cluster in the sky, visible to the naked eye at mag 3.7.

The most popular meaning of the constellation is that it represents the form of Chiron. According to the Roman poet Ovid (Fasti v.379), the constellation honors the centaur Chiron, who was tutor to many of the earlier Greek heroes including Heracles (Hercules), Theseus, and Jason, the leader of the Argonauts.

In classical mythology, the centaurs were a race of beings who were half human and half horse. Centaurus is identified as one particularly wise centaur, Chiron, the son of Cronus, king of the Titans. He is commonly depicted holding an animal, the neighboring constellation Lupus, which he is about to sacrifice on the altar depicted in Ara.

In Greek mythology, Centaurus represents a centaur; a creature that is half human, half horse (another constellation named after a centaur is one from the zodiac: Sagittarius). The figure of Centaurus can be traced back to a Babylonian constellation known as the Bison-man (MUL.GUD.ALIM).

This being was depicted in two major forms: firstly, as a 4-legged bison with a human head, and secondly, as a being with a man’s head and torso attached to the rear legs and tail of a bull or bison. It has been closely associated with the Sun god Utu-Shamash from very early times.

The stars that make up this constellation were originally a part of the constellation Centaurus. They represented an animal that had been killed by the centaur. No particular animal was associated with it. The ancient Greeks knew it as Therium, a wild animal. The Romans called it Bestia, the beast. A later Latin translation of Ptolemy’s work finally identified it as a wolf.

The Greeks depicted the constellation as a centaur and gave it its current name. It was mentioned by Eudoxus in the 4th century BC and Aratus in the 3rd century BC. In the 2nd century AD, Claudius Ptolemy catalogued 37 stars in Centaurus, including Alpha Centauri.

Large as it is now, in earlier times it was even larger, as the constellation Lupus was treated as an asterism within Centaurus, portrayed in illustrations as an unspecified animal either in the centaur’s grasp or impaled on its spear.

The Southern Cross, which is now regarded as a separate constellation, was treated by the ancients as a mere asterism formed of the stars composing the centaur’s legs. Additionally, what is now the minor constellation Circinus was treated as undefined stars under the centaur’s front hooves.

According to the Roman poet Ovid (Fasti v.379), the constellation honors the centaur Chiron, who was tutor to many of the earlier Greek heroes including Heracles (Hercules), Theseus, and Jason, the leader of the Argonauts.

It is not to be confused with the more warlike centaur represented by the zodiacal constellation Sagittarius. The legend associated with Chiron says that he was accidentally poisoned with an arrow shot by Hercules, and was subsequently placed in the heavens.

The Scorpius–Centaurus Association

The Scorpius–Centaurus Association (sometimes called Sco–Cen or Sco OB2) is the nearest OB association to the Sun. This stellar association is composed of three subgroups (Upper Scorpius, Upper Centaurus–Lupus, and Lower Centaurus–Crux).

Many of the bright stars in the constellations Scorpius, Lupus, Centaurus, and Crux are members of the Sco–Cen association, including Antares (the most massive member of Upper Scorpius), and most of the stars in the Southern Cross.

Alpha Lupi (α Lupi, α Lup) is the brightest star in the southern constellation of Lupus. This star is a proper motion member of the Upper-Centaurus Lupus sub-group in the Scorpius-Centaurus OB association, the nearest such co-moving association of massive stars to the Sun.

The Crux 

Centaurus contains several very bright stars. Its alpha and beta stars are used as “pointer stars” to help observers find the constellation Crux, a constellation located in the southern sky in a bright portion of the Milky Way.

The two stars of Alpha and Beta Centauri are often referred to as the “Southern Pointers” or just “The Pointers”, allowing people to easily find the asterism of the Southern Cross or the constellation of Crux.

The Crux is among the most easily distinguished constellations, as all of its four main stars have an apparent visual magnitude brighter than +2.8, even though it is the smallest of all 88 modern constellations. Its name is Latin for cross, and it is dominated by a cross-shaped or kite-like asterism that is commonly known as the Southern Cross.

Predominating is the first-magnitude blue-white star of Alpha Crucis or Acrux, being the constellation’s brightest and most southerly member. Many of these brighter stars are members of the Scorpius–Centaurus Association, a large but loose group of hot blue-white stars that appear to share common origins and motion across the southern Milky Way.

Crux is bordered by the constellations Centaurus (which surrounds it on three sides) on the east, north and west, and Musca to the south. Crux is easily visible from the southern hemisphere at practically any time of year. It is also visible near the horizon from tropical latitudes of the northern hemisphere for a few hours every night during the northern winter and spring.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the Southern Cross is frequently used for navigation in much the same way that Polaris is used in the Northern Hemisphere. Alpha and Gamma (known as Acrux and Gacrux, respectively) are commonly used to mark south.

Tracing a line from Gacrux to Acrux leads to a point close to the Southern Celestial Pole. Alternatively, if a line is constructed perpendicularly between Alpha Centauri and Beta Centauri, the point where the above-mentioned line and this line intersect marks the Southern Celestial Pole. Another way to find south, strike line through Gacrux and Acrux, 4 1/2 times the distance between Gacrux and Acrux, directly below that point is south.

Very few bright stars of importance lie between Crux and the pole itself, although the constellation Musca is fairly easily recognised immediately beneath Crux. The stars within Crux were known to the Ancient Greeks, where Ptolemy regarded them as part of the constellation Centaurus. They were entirely visible as far north as Britain in the fourth millennium BC.

However, the precession of the equinoxes gradually lowered the stars below the European horizon, and they were eventually forgotten by the inhabitants of northern latitudes. By 400 AD, most of the stars in the constellation we now call Crux never rose above the horizon of Athens.

Kusarikku

The constellation of Kusarikku (“Bull-Man”), sometimes inscribed GUD.DUMU.dUTU, GUD.DUMU.AN.NA and sometimes phonetically ku-sa-rik-ku(m), synonymous with the Sumerian GU4/gud-alim and perhaps also alim, corresponds to part of Centaurus.

was an ancient Mesopotamian mythological demon shown in artistic representation from the earliest (late Uruk) times with the arms, torso and head of a human and the ears, horns and hindquarters bovine.

He is portrayed as walking upright and characterized as a door keeper to protect the inhabitants from malevolent intruders. He is one of the demons which represented mountains. He is pictured in late iconography holding a banduddû, “bucket”. On a stela of Meli-Šipak, the land grant to Ḫasardu kudurru, he is pictured carrying a spade.

In the Sumerian myth, Angim or “Ninurta’s return to Nippur”, the god “brought forth the Bison (gud-alim) from his battle dust” and “hung the Bison on the beam”. He is one of Tiāmat’s offspring vanquished by Marduk in the Epic of Creation, Enûma Eliš.

In the prologue of the Anzû Myth, Ninurta defeats the kusarikku “in the midst of the sea”. In an incantation against the evil eye of the Lamaštu, an incantation meant to soothe a crying child, kusarikku is portrayed as being negeltû, “roused”, and gullutu, “frightened”.

Along with Ugallu, Girtablullû, and others, he is one of the seven mythological apkallu or “sages” shown on neo-Assyrian palace reliefs, and with figurines – to guard against the influence of evil spirits. The constellation of kusarikku, or gud-alim, corresponds to part of Centaurus. He was associated with the god of justice, Šamaš, along with Girtablullû, the “Scorpion-Man”, and alim, the “Bison”.

There were three species of ungulates in Mesopotamia: the Aurochs, the Bison, and the Water buffalo, and it is not always certain as to which of these was represented in some of the earlier text references. There seems to have been a distinction between the Sumerian terms gud-alim, “bison-man”, and alim, “human-faced bison”.

Ugallu

Ugallu, the “Big Weather-Beast”, inscribed U4/UD.GAL-˹la˺, Akkadian: ūmu rabû, meaning “big day”, was a lion-headed storm-demon and has the feet of a bird who is featured on protective amulets and apotropaic yellow clay or tamarisk figurines of the first millennium BC but had its origins in the early second millennium.

The iconography changed over time, with the human feet morphing into an eagle’s talons and dressing him in a short skirt. He was one of the class of ud-demons (day-demons), personifying moments of divine intervention in human life.

Ugallu was one of the eleven mythical monsters created by Tiāmat in her conflict with the younger gods, on the reverse of the first tablet of the Epic of Creation, Enûma Eliš. The tale describes how Marduk captured and bound the creatures, rehabilitating them with work reconstructing the world from the corpses of his vanquished adversaries.

This transformed them into protective charms which would be used to adorn the doors of palaces, for example that of Ashurbanipal’s southwest palace at Nineveh, temples, such as the Esagil of the Marduk temple as described in the Agum-Kakrime Inscription, and private dwellings (the bedrooms of the vulnerable) to ward off evil and disease.

Sometimes in pairs of ugallū, the beneficial protective demon finds special purpose in adorning the outer gates of buildings. Ugallu first appears figuratively in the Old Babylonian period as a porter of the underworld, a servant of Nergal. In later times he is represented on amulets as frequently paired with the Sumerian demon Lulal, who was in many respects fairly similar in appearance.

He is portrayed clasping a dagger, and described thus: “a lion’s head and lion’s ears, it holds a … in its right hand and carries a mace (gišTUKUL) in its left, it is girded with a dagger, its name is ugallu.”

Ur(i)dimmu

Kusarikku appears in later iconography paired with Ur(i)dimmu, the reading is uncertain, meaning “Mad/howling Dog” or Langdon’s “Gruesome Hound”, Sumerian UR.IDIM and giš.pirig.gal = ur-gu-lu-ú = ur-idim-[mu] in the lexical series ḪAR.gud = imrû = ballu.

Ur(i)dimmu was an ancient Mesopotamian mythical creature in the form of a human headed dog-man or lion-man whose first appearance might be during the Kassite period, if the Agum-Kakrime Inscription proves to be a copy of a genuine period piece. He is pictured standing upright, wearing a horned tiara and holding a staff with an uskaru, or lunar crescent, at the tip.

The lexical series ḪAR-ra=ḫubullu describes him as a kalbu šegû, “rabid dog”, but due to the propensity for Sumerian culture to group canines and felines together (ur.maḫ, big dog = lion) and Akkadian to separate them (nēšu, labbu = lion), the issue remains unresolved although the prominent genitalia on the few extant representations argues for a canine interpretation.

His appearance was essentially the opposite, or complement of that of Ugallu, with a human head replacing that of an animal and an animal’s body replacing that of a human. He appears in later iconography paired with Kusarikku, “Bull-Man”, a similar anthropomorphic character, as attendants to the god Šamaš. He is carved as a guardian figure on a doorway in Aššur-bāni-apli’s north palace at Nineveh.

He appears as an intercessor with Marduk and Zarpanītu for the sick in rituals. He was especially revered in the Eanna in Uruk during the neo-Babylonian period where he seems to have taken on a cultic role, where the latest attestation was in the 29th year of Darius I.

As one of the eleven spawn of Tiamat in the Enûma Eliš vanquished by Marduk, he was displayed as a trophy on doorways to ward off evil and later became an apotropaic figurine buried in buildings for a similar purpose. He became identified as MUL- or dUR.IDIM with the constellation known by the Greeks as Wolf (Lupus), a constellation located in the deep Southern Sky.

Lupus

Lupus is a constellation located in the deep Southern Sky. Its name is Latin for wolf. It is often found in association with the sun god and another mythical being called the Bison-man, which is supposedly related to the Greek constellation of Centaurus, a bright constellation in the southern sky.

In ancient times, the constellation was considered an asterism within the neighboring constellation Centaurus, and was considered to have been an arbitrary animal, killed, or about to be killed, on behalf of, or for, Centaurus. An alternative visualization, attested by Eratosthenes, saw this constellation as a wineskin held by Centaurus.

It was not separated from Centaurus until Hipparchus of Bithynia named it Therion (meaning beast) in the 2nd century BC. No particular animal was associated with it until the Latin translation of Ptolemy’s work identified it with the wolf.

Most of the brightest stars in Lupus are massive members of the nearest OB association, Scorpius-Centaurus, which is the nearest OB association to the Sun. This stellar association is composed of three subgroups (Upper Scorpius, Upper Centaurus–Lupus, and Lower Centaurus–Crux).

The elements

Assyrian sculpture typically placed prominent pairs of lamassu at entrances in palaces, facing the street and also internal courtyards. They were represented as “double-aspect” figures on corners, in high relief. From the front they appear to stand, and from the side, walk, and in earlier versions have five legs, as is apparent when viewed obliquely.

The ancient Jewish people were influenced by the iconography of Assyrian culture. The prophet Ezekiel wrote about a fantastic being made up of aspects of a human being, a lion, an eagle and a bull. Later, in the early Christian period, the four Gospels were ascribed to each of these components. When it was depicted in art, this image was called the Tetramorph.

Classical elements typically refer to the concepts in ancient Greece of earth, water, air, fire, and aether, which were proposed to explain the nature and complexity of all matter in terms of simpler substances.

Ancient cultures in Babylonia, Japan, Tibet, and India had similar lists, sometimes referring in local languages to “air” as “wind” and the fifth element as “void”. The Chinese Wu Xing system lists Wood (mù), Fire (huǒ), Earth (tǔ), Metal (jīn), and Water (shuǐ), though these are described more as energies or transitions rather than as types of material.

These different cultures and even individual philosophers had widely varying explanations concerning their attributes and how they related to observable phenomena as well as cosmology. Sometimes these theories overlapped with mythology and were personified in deities.

Some of these interpretations included atomism (the idea of very small, indivisible portions of matter) but other interpretations considered the elements to be divisible into infinitely small pieces without changing their nature.

While the classification of the material world in ancient Indian, Hellenistic Egypt, and ancient Greece into Air, Earth, Fire and Water was more philosophical, during the Islamic Golden Age medieval middle eastern scientists used practical, experimental observation to classify materials.

In Europe, the Ancient Greek system of Aristotle evolved slightly into the medieval system, which for the first time in Europe became subject to experimental verification in the 1600s, during the Scientific Revolution.

Modern science does not support the classical elements as the material basis of the physical world. Atomic theory classifies atoms into more than a hundred chemical elements such as oxygen, iron, and mercury. These elements form chemical compounds and mixtures, and under different temperatures and pressures, these substances can adopt different states of matter.

The most commonly observed states of solid, liquid, gas, and plasma share many attributes with the classical elements of earth, water, air, and fire, respectively, but these states are due to similar behavior of different types of atoms at similar energy levels, and not due to containing a certain type of atom or a certain type of substance.

The Wu Xing, also known as the Five Elements, Five Phases, the Five Agents, the Five Movements, Five Processes, the Five Steps/Stages and the Five Planets of significant gravity: Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Venus, Mars is the short form of “Wǔ zhǒng liúxíng zhī qì” or “the five types of chi dominating at different times”.

It is a fivefold conceptual scheme that many traditional Chinese fields used to explain a wide array of phenomena, from cosmic cycles to the interaction between internal organs, and from the succession of political regimes to the properties of medicinal drugs.

The “Five Phases” are Wood (mù), Fire (huǒ), Earth (tǔ), Metal (jīn), and Water (shuǐ). This order of presentation is known as the “mutual generation” (xiāngshēng) sequence. In the order of “mutual overcoming” (xiāngkè), they are Wood, Earth, Water, Fire, and Metal.

The system of five phases was used for describing interactions and relationships between phenomena. After it came to maturity in the second or first century BCE during the Han dynasty, this device was employed in many fields of early Chinese thought.

It was included in seemingly disparate fields such as geomancy or Feng shui, astrology, traditional Chinese medicine, music, military strategy, and martial arts. The system is still used as a reference in some forms of complementary and alternative medicine and martial arts.

Classical Elements

Astrology and the Classical Elements

Five elements

Wu Xing

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Egypt: Ra, Osiris and Horus

Posted by Fredsvenn on January 11, 2019

Ra – Sun

Ra or Re is the ancient Egyptian deity of the sun. He was believed to rule in all parts of the created world: The sky, the Earth, and the underworld. By the Fifth Dynasty in the 25th and 24th centuries BC, he had become one of the most important gods in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the noon sun.

In later Egyptian dynastic times, Ra was merged with the major god Horus into Ra-Horakhty (“Ra, who is Horus of the Two Horizons”). He was synonymous with the falcon, and he was commonly depicted with the head of a falcon. These images can be told apart from images of Horus due to having a sun disk on its head instead of Horus’s usual Pschent headdress.

When Ra was in the underworld, he merged with Osiris, the god of the dead, and through it became the god of the dead as well. He was most commonly featured with a ram’s head in the Underworld. In this form, Ra is described as being the “ram of the west” or “ram in charge of his harem.

Osiris – the underworld, and rebirth

Osiris was at times considered the eldest son of the god Geb and the sky goddess Nut, as well as being brother and husband of Isis, with Horus being considered his posthumously begotten son.

He was also associated with the epithet Khenti-Amentiu, meaning “Foremost of the Westerners”, a reference to his kingship in the land of the dead. As ruler of the dead, Osiris was also sometimes called “king of the living”: ancient Egyptians considered the blessed dead “the living ones”.

Osiris was the judge of the dead and the underworld agency that granted all life, including sprouting vegetation and the fertile flooding of the Nile River. Through the hope of new life after death, Osiris began to be associated with the cycles observed in nature, in particular vegetation and the annual flooding of the Nile, through his links with the heliacal rising of Orion and Sirius at the start of the new year.

The Kings of Egypt were associated with Osiris in death – as Osiris rose from the dead so would they in union with him, and inherit eternal life through a process of imitative magic. By the New Kingdom all people, not just pharaohs, were believed to be associated with Osiris at death, if they incurred the costs of the assimilation rituals.

Horus – Mars

Horus served many functions, most notably being a god of kingship and the sky. The earliest recorded form of Horus is the tutelary deity of Nekhen in Upper Egypt, who is the first known national god, specifically related to the ruling pharaoh who in time came to be regarded as a manifestation of Horus in life and Osiris in death.

The most commonly encountered family relationship describes Horus as the son of Isis and Osiris. In another tradition Hathor is regarded as his mother and sometimes as his wife. He plays a key role in the Osiris myth as Osiris’s heir and the rival to Set, the murderer of Osiris.

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Sagittarius (4) and Gemini (2)

Posted by Fredsvenn on January 9, 2019

Bilderesultat for gobekli tepe poles

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Bilderesultat for gemini

Bilderesultat for isimud

Bilderesultat for janus

Janus

Odin –  the husband of the goddess Frigg

Óðr again leaves the grieving Freyja

Enki / Isimud – Saturn / Janus – Odin / Odr

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Centaurus

Centaurus Constellation

Constellation Centaurus

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Centaurus is a bright constellation in the southern sky. n Greek mythology, Centaurus represents a centaur; a creature that is half human, half horse (another constellation named after a centaur is one from the zodiac: Sagittarius).

While Centaurus now has a high southern latitude, at the dawn of civilization it was an equatorial constellation. Precession has been slowly shifting it southward for millennia, and it is now close to its maximal southern declination. Thousands of years from now Centaurus will, once again, be at lower latitudes and be visible worldwide.

Bilderesultat for Centaurus mythology

Sagittarius

In geometry, the sagitta (sometimes abbreviated as sag) of a circular arc is the distance from the center of the arc to the center of its base. Architects, engineers, and contractors use these equations to create “flattened” arcs that are used in curved walls, arched ceilings, bridges, and numerous other applications.

It is used extensively in architecture when calculating the arc necessary to span a certain height and distance and also in optics where it is used to find the depth of a spherical mirror or lens. The name comes directly from Latin sagitta, meaning an arrow.

The sagitta is the vertical line from the midpoint of the chord to the arc itself. It is a measure of the ‘height’ of the arc. The length of the chord, sagitta and radius of the arc are inter-related, and if you know any two you can calculate the third.

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According to the Talmudists, the emblem of Nergal was a cockerel and Nergal means a “dunghill cock”, although standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion. The word “Gallus” is also the Latin word for rooster. A play upon his name—separated into three elements as Ne-uru-gal (light of the great Ûru; lord of the great dwelling)—expresses his position at the head of the nether-world pantheon.

Bilderesultat for lahmu curls

Lahmu

In Sumerian times Laḫmu may have meant “the muddy one”. Lahmu guarded the gates of the Abzu temple of Enki at Eridu. He and his sister Laḫamu are primordial deities in the Babylonian Epic of Creation Enuma Elis and Lahmu may be related to or identical with “Lahamu”, one of Tiamat’s creatures in that epic.

Laḫmu is depicted as a bearded man with a red sash – usually with three strands – and four to six curls on his head and they are also depicted as monsters, which each encompasses a specific constellation. He is often associated with the Kusarikku or “Bull-Man”. Lahamu is sometimes seen as a serpent, and sometimes as a woman with a red sash and six curls on her head.

An Assyrian lamassu dated 721 BC

The lamassu (Cuneiform: an.kal; Sumerian: dlammař; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus) is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human head, the body of a bull or a lion, and bird wings. Lammasu represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations.

In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity. A less frequently used name is shedu (Cuneiform: an.kal×bad; Sumerian: dalad; Akkadian, šēdu‬), which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu. 

Bilderesultat for tetramorph

A composition of the Four Living Creatures into one tetramorph. Matthew the man, Mark the lion, Luke the ox, and John the eagle

Assyrian sculpture typically placed prominent pairs of lamassu at entrances in palaces, facing the street and also internal courtyards. They were represented as “double-aspect” figures on corners, in high relief. From the front they appear to stand, and from the side, walk, and in earlier versions have five legs, as is apparent when viewed obliquely.

The ancient Jewish people were influenced by the iconography of Assyrian culture. The prophet Ezekiel wrote about a fantastic being made up of aspects of a human being, a lion, an eagle and a bull. Later, in the early Christian period, the four Gospels were ascribed to each of these components. When it was depicted in art, this image was called the Tetramorph.

A 13th century Cluniac ivory carving of Christ in Majesty surrounded by the creatures of the tetramorph.

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Letter resh – The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Rho (Ρ), Etruscan Etruscan EtruscanR-01.svg, Latin R, and Cyrillic Р.

Nr: 4 – 4 seasons – 4 elements in astrology – the Tetramorph

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An excursus on the Egyptian word nTr

Life and death

According to Macrobius who cites Nigidius Figulus and Cicero, Janus and Jana (Diana) are a pair of divinities, worshipped as Apollo or the sun and moon, whence Janus received sacrifices before all the others, because through him is apparent the way of access to the desired deity.

A similar solar interpretation has been offered by A. Audin, who interprets the god as the issue of a long process of development starting with the Sumerian culture from two solar pillars located on the eastern side of temples, each of them marking the direction of the rising sun at the dates of the two solstices. The southeastern corresponding to the Winter and the northeastern to the Summer solstice.

These two pillars would be at the origin of the theology of the divine twins, one of whom is mortal (related to the NE pillar, as confining with the region where the sun does not shine) and the other is immortal (related to the SE pillar and the region where the sun always shines). Later these iconographic models evolved in the Middle East and Egypt into a single column representing two torsos and finally a single body with two heads looking at opposite directions.

Göbekli Tepe

Göbekli Tepe, Turkish for “Potbelly Hill”, is an archaeological site in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa. The tell includes two phases of use believed to be of a social or ritual nature dating back to the 10th–8th millennium BCE.

During the first phase, belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars were erected – the world’s oldest known megaliths. More than 200 pillars in about 20 circles are currently known through geophysical surveys. Each pillar has a height of up to 6 m (20 ft) and weighs up to 10 tons. They are fitted into sockets that were hewn out of the bedrock.

In the second phase, belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB), the erected pillars are smaller and stood in rectangular rooms with floors of polished lime. The site was abandoned after the PPNB. Younger structures date to classical times.

The details of the structure’s function remain a mystery. It was excavated by a German archaeological team under the direction of Klaus Schmidt from 1996 until his death in 2014. Schmidt believed that the site was a sanctuary where people from a wide region periodically congregated, not a settlement.

Gobekli Tepe’s hilltop site was not defensive or residential and the indications are that it was a sacred area and that the two pillars outside the entrance of some of the circles represented a gateway between secular and religious ground.

Three layers could be distinguished up to now at the site. The oldest Layer III (10th millenium BC) is characterized by monolithic T-shaped pillars weighing tons, which were positioned in circle-like structures. The pillars were interconnected by limestone walls and benches leaning at the inner side of the walls. In the centre of these enclosures there are always two bigger pillars, with a height of over 5 m. The circles measure 10-20 m.

Two huge central pillars are surrounded by a circle formed by – at current state of excavation – 11 pillars of similar T-shape. Most of these pillars are decorated with depictions of animals, foxes, birds (e.g. cranes, storks and ducks), and snakes being the most common species in this enclosure, accompanied by a wide range of figurations including the motives of boar, aurochs, gazelle, wild donkey and larger carnivores.

In particular these central pillars of Enclosure D allow demonstrating the anthropomorphic appearance of the T-shaped pillars. They might have been gods who had T-shapes instead of heads because it was forbidden to see their faces. The T-shaped stones around the circle may have been their companions.

Gobekli Tepe’s hilltop site was not defensive or residential and the indications are that it was a sacred area and that the two pillars outside the entrance of some of the circles represented a gateway between secular and religious ground.

According to Andrew Collins the central pillars of Enclosure D target Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation of Cygnus, also known as the celestial bird, or swan, and one of the brightest stars in the night sky and one corner of the Summer Triangle, as it extinguishes on the north-northwestern horizon.

Other structures at Göbekli Tepe were built perhaps with different considerations in mind. Enclosure B’s central pillars are unlikely to have targeted Deneb during the epoch in question.

The twin pillars marking the entrance to the apse in Enclosure A were orientated almost exactly northwest to southeast, while those in Enclosure F (a smaller, much later structure west of the main group) are aligned east-northeast or west-southwest, very close to the angle at which the sun rises on the summer solstice and sets on the winter solstice.

Lamassu

The lamassu (Cuneiform: an.kal; Sumerian: dlammař; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus) is a celestial being from ancient Mesopotamian religion in art often depicted as having a human head, the body of a bull, sometimes with the horns and the ears of a bull, or a lion and bird wings. The motif of a winged animal with a human head is common to the Near East, first recorded in Ebla around 3000 BC.

In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity. A less frequently used name is shedu (Cuneiform: an.kal×bad; Sumerian: dalad; Akkadian, šēdu‬), which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu.

They represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations. They were household protective spirits of the common Babylonian people, becoming associated later as royal protectors, and were placed as sentinels at entrances. They are depicted as protective deities because they encompass all life within them. To protect houses, the lamassu were engraved in clay tablets, which were then buried under the door’s threshold.

In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, they are depicted as physical deities as well, which is where the lammasu iconography originates, these deities could be microcosms of their microcosmic zodiac, parent-star, or constellation.

They were often placed as a pair at the entrance of palaces. At the entrance of cities they were sculpted in colossal size and placed as a pair. One at each side of the door of the city, that generally had doors in the surrounding wall, each one looking towards one of the cardinal points.

Although lamassu had a different iconography and portrayal in the culture of Sumer, the terms “lamassu”, “alad”, and “shedu” evolved throughout the Assyro-Akkadian culture from the Sumerian culture to denote the Assyrian-winged-man-bull symbol and statues during the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Female lamassu were called “apsasû”.

Lumasi do not generally appear as large figures in the low-relief schemes running round palace rooms, where winged genie figures are common, but they sometimes appear within narrative reliefs, apparently protecting the Assyrians.

The colossal entranceway figures were often followed by a hero grasping a wriggling lion, also colossal in scale and in high relief. The first distinct lamassu motif appeared in Assyria during the reign of Tiglath-Pileser II as a symbol of power.

The motif of the Assyrian-winged-man-bull called Aladlammu and Lamassu interchangeably is not the lamassu or alad of Sumerian origin, which were depicted with different iconography. These monumental statues were called aladlammû or lamassu which meant “protective spirit”.

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.

Laḫmu

Laḫmu (also called Lakhmu, Lache, Lumasi or Assyro-Akkadian Lammasu) is a deity from Akkadian mythology that represents the zodiac, parent stars, or constellations. It is the name of a protective and beneficent deity. Lahmu guarded the gates of the Abzu temple of Enki at Eridu.

Lahmu guarded the gates of the Abzu temple of Enki at Eridu. He and his sister Laḫamu are primordial deities in the Babylonian Epic of Creation Enuma Elis and Lahmu may be related to or identical with “Lahamu”, one of Tiamat’s creatures in that epic.

They are the first-born children of Tiamat and Abzu in Akkadian mythology. They are the parents of Anshar, which means “whole heaven”, and Kishar, which means “Whole Earth”, the sky father and earth mother, who were in turn parents of the first gods of the Mesopotamian Pantheon. Among them, Anu, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons.

Laḫmu is depicted as a bearded man with a red sash – usually with three strands – and four to six curls on his head and they are also depicted as monsters, which each encompasses a specific constellation. He is often associated with the Kusarikku or “Bull-Man”. Lahamu is sometimes seen as a serpent, and sometimes as a woman with a red sash and six curls on her head.

Some scholars, such as William F. Albright, have speculated that the name of Bethlehem (“house of lehem”) originally referred to a Canaanite fertility deity cognate with Laḫmu and Laḫamu, rather than to the Canaanite word lehem, “bread”.

In Sumerian times Laḫmu may have meant “the muddy one”. It is suggested that the pair were represented by the silt of the sea-bed, but more accurately are known to be the representations of the zodiac, parent-stars, or constellations.

In Mesopotamian tradition, Nammu, the goddess of the primeval creative matter and the mother-goddess portrayed as having “given birth to the great gods,” was the mother of Enki, and as the watery creative force, was said to preexist Ea-Enki.

Benito states “With Enki it is an interesting change of gender symbolism, the fertilising agent is also water, Sumerian “a” or “Ab” which also means “semen”. In one evocative passage in a Sumerian hymn, Enki stands at the empty riverbeds and fills them with his ‘water'”.

Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu (Apsu in Akkadian), the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth. In the later Babylonian epic Enûma Eliš, Abzu, the “begetter of the gods”, is inert and sleepy but finds his peace disturbed by the younger gods, so sets out to destroy them.

His grandson Enki, chosen to represent the younger gods, puts a spell on Abzu “casting him into a deep sleep”, thereby confining him deep underground. Enki subsequently sets up his home “in the depths of the Abzu.” Enki thus takes on all of the functions of the Abzu, including his fertilising powers as lord of the waters and lord of semen.

On the Adda Seal, Enki is depicted with two streams of water flowing into each of his shoulders: one the Tigris, the other the Euphrates. Alongside him are two trees, symbolizing the male and female aspects of nature. He is shown wearing a flounced skirt and a cone-shaped hat. An eagle descends from above to land upon his outstretched right arm. This portrayal reflects Enki’s role as the god of water, life, and replenishment.

Artemis / Apollo

Potnia Theron / Lord of Animals

In Hittite, the Sumerian form dlamma is used both as a name for the so-called “tutelary deity”, identified in certain later texts with Inara, and a title given to similar protective gods. Inara, in Hittite–Hurrian mythology, was the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe and daughter of the Storm-god Teshub/Tarhunt. She corresponds to the “potnia theron” of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis.

In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of 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.

Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, wild animals and chastity in the ancient Greek religion and myth. Artemis is the Moon and Apollo is the Sun.

Many depictions use a female version of the widespread ancient motif of the male Master of Animals, showing a central figure with a human form grasping two animals, one to each side. The oldest depiction has been discovered in Çatalhöyük. Potnia Theron (“The Mistress of the Animals”) is a term first used (once) by Homer and often used to describe female divinities associated with animals.

In ancient Roman religion, Feronia was a goddess associated with wildlife, fertility, health, and abundance. As the goddess who granted freedom to slaves or civil rights to the most humble part of society, she was especially honored among plebeians and freedmen. Varro identified Feronia with Libertas, the goddess who personified Liberty. According to Servius, Feronia was a tutelary goddess of freedmen (dea libertorum).

Proserpina or Proserpine is an ancient Roman goddess whose cult, myths and mysteries were combined from those of Libera, an early Roman goddess of wine, and the Greek Persephone and Demeter, goddesses of grain and agriculture. The originally Roman goddess Libera was daughter of the agricultural goddess Ceres and wife to Liber, god of wine and freedom.

In 204 BC, a new “greek-style” cult to Ceres and Proserpina as “Mother and Maiden” was imported from southern Italy, along with Greek priestesses to serve it, and was installed in Libera and Ceres’ temple on Rome’s Aventine Hill.

The new cult and its priesthood were actively promoted by Rome’s religious authorities as morally desirable for respectable Roman women, and may have partly subsumed the temple’s older, native cult to Ceres, Liber and Libera; but the new rites seem to have functioned alongside the old, rather than replaced them.

In early Roman religion, Libera was the female equivalent of Liber (freedom). She was originally an Italic goddess; at some time during Rome’s Regal or very early Republican eras, she was paired with Liber, also known as Liber Pater (The Free Father), Roman god of wine, male fertility, and a guardian of plebeian freedoms. She enters Roman history as part of a Triadic cult alongside Ceres and Liber, in a temple established on the Aventine Hill around 493 BCE.

The location and context of this early cult mark her association with Rome’s commoner-citizens, or plebs; she might have been offered cult on March 17 as part of Liber’s festival, Liberalia, or at some time during the seven days of Cerealia (mid- to late April); in the latter festival, she would have been subordinate to Ceres. Otherwise, her relationship to her Aventine cult partners is uncertain; she has no known native mythology.

Libera was officially identified with Proserpina in 205 BCE, when she acquired a Romanised form of the Greek mystery rites and their attendant mythology. In the late Republican era, Cicero described Liber and Libera as Ceres’ children. At around the same time, possibly in the context of popular or religious drama, Hyginus equated her with Greek Ariadne, as bride to Liber’s Greek equivalent, Dionysus.

The older and newer forms of her cult and rites, and their diverse associations, persisted well into the late Imperial era. St. Augustine (AD 354 – 430) observed that Libera is concerned with female fertility, as Liber is with male fertility.

Freyr (Old Norse: Lord), sometimes anglicized as Frey, is a widely attested god associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather, and pictured as a phallic fertility god in Norse mythology. Freyr is said to “bestow peace and pleasure on mortals”.

In the Icelandic books the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Freyr is presented as one of the Vanir, the son of the sea god Njörðr, as well as the twin brother of the goddess Freyja (Old Norse for “(the) Lady”), a goddess associated with love, sex, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death.

Numerous theories have been proposed for the etymology of Vanir. It is tempting to link the word with “Old Norse vinr, ‘friend’, and Latin Venus, ‘goddess of physical love.’” 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-.

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

Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *h₂ewsṓs, a number of epithets of the dawn goddess may be reconstructed with some certainty. Among these is *wenos- (also an s-stem), whence Sanskrit vanas “loveliness; desire”, used of Uṣas in the Rigveda, and the Latin name Venus and the Norse Vanir.

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 probably the original love and lust deity in Proto-Indo-European religion, an aspect maintained in nearly all reflexes but noticeably lost in later stages of Hellenic and Indu myth (Eos replaced by Aphrodite and Eros, Ushas replaced by Kamadeva). Notably, the Greek myth of Aphrodite cursing Eos with lust may be a representation of usurpation of the role as love goddess by the former.

In spite of the association of the dawn with life, counterintuitively the dawn was possibly also associated with aging and decay in Proto-Indo-European myth, probably under the assumption that each dawn brings human beings closer to death or alternatively that sun rays induce rot.

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.

Nearly all reflexes are associated with reddish horses, perhaps due to syncretism with solar goddesses as well as the hypothesised relation with the Divine Twins. Poseidon represents the river spirit of the underworld and he appears as a horse as it often happens in northern-European folklore. He pursues the mare-Demeter and she bears one daughter who obviously originally had the form or the shape of a mare too.

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. However, though nonetheless the epithet “daughter of heaven” remains in nearly all Indo-European mythologies.

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.

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.

Pabilsag – Nininsinna

Pabilsag in Mesopotamian tradition was a tutelary god of the city of Isin. The consort of the goddess Nininsinna (Sumerian: Nin-sumun(ak) “lady of the wild cows”), he was identified with the lost city of Larak. He is represented in the constellation Sagittarius, commonly represented as a centaur pulling back a bow.

Pabilsag is reminiscent of modern depictions of the constellation Sagittarius, the half human and half horse, the learned healer whose higher intelligence forms a bridge between Earth and Heaven.

The Babylonians identified Sagittarius as the god Nergal, a strange centaur-like creature firing an arrow from a bow. It is generally depicted with wings, with two heads, one panther head and one human head, as well as a scorpion’s stinger raised above its more conventional horse’s tail.

In Greek mythology, Sagittarius is usually identified as a centaur: half human, half horse. However, perhaps due to the Greeks’ adoption of the Sumerian constellation, some confusion surrounds the identity of the archer.

As there are two centaurs in the sky, some identify Chiron with the other constellation, known as Centaurus. Or, as an alternative tradition holds, that Chiron devised the constellations Sagittarius and Centaurus to help guide the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece.

A competing mythological tradition, as espoused by Eratosthenes, identified the Archer not as a centaur but as the satyr Crotus, son of Pan, who Greeks credited with the invention of archery. According to myth, Crotus often went hunting on horseback and lived among the Muses, who requested that Zeus place him in the sky, where he is seen demonstrating archery.

The text Pabilsag’s Journey to Nibru describes Pabilsag as journeying to Nippur and presenting the god Enlil with gifts. He was given the epithet of “the wild bull with multicoloured legs”.

The Sumerian name Pabilsag is composed of two elements – Pabil, meaning ‘elder paternal kinsman’ and Sag, meaning ‘chief, head’. The name may thus be translated as the ‘Forefather’ or ‘Chief Ancestor’.

According to the ancient Babylonian text, Pabilsag wedded Nininsina, who was the tutelary goddess of Gudea of Lagash, near a riverbank and gave birth to Damu as a result of the union.

In Sumerian mythology, Ninsun was originally called Gula until her name was later changed to Ninisina. Later, Gula became a Babylonian goddess. Other names include Rimat-Ninsun (from Akkadian rimātu “cattle”), the “August Cow”, the “Wild Cow of the Enclosure”, and “The Great Queen”.

Sagittarius

Sagittarius is the ninth astrological sign, which is associated with the constellation Sagittarius and spans 240–270th degrees of the zodiac. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this sign between approximately November 23 and December 21. Its name is Latin for the archer, and its symbol is a stylized arrow.

Sagittarius lies between Scorpius and Ophiuchus to the west and Capricornus and Microscopium to the east. As of 2002, the Sun appears in the constellation Sagittarius from 18 December to 18 January. In tropical astrology, the Sun is considered to be in the sign Sagittarius from 22 November to 21 December, and in sidereal astrology, from 16 December to 14 January.

Along with Aries and Leo, Sagittarius is a part of the Fire Trigon as well as the last of the reproductive trinity. It also follows Gemini and Virgo as third of the mutable signs, which are the signs that feature changeable quality.

Also known as the Archer, Sagittarius is represented by the symbol of a bow and arrow. Sagittarius famously points its arrow at the heart of Scorpius, represented by the reddish star Antares, as the two constellations race around the sky.

The arrow of this constellation points towards the star Antares, the “heart of the scorpion”, and Sagittarius stands poised to attack should Scorpius ever attack the nearby Hercules, or to avenge Scorpius’s slaying of Orion.

The symbol of the zodiac sign is a Centaur armed with arrows following an old tradition coming from Ancient Greece and from other cultures of the past. As an archer, Sagittarius is said to never fail in hitting the mark and this depiction alludes to the power of prophecy, hence, the claim that seers and prophets are born in this sign.

The image of the sign says a lot about his features: He’s able to be extremely violent or wise, brave or mild. When Sagittarius is depicted as an archer, then he is classified as human, but when represented as a centaur, he is nonhuman (bestial). However, the classification of the astrological sign as a human or bestial does not carry practical consequences for interpretation.

The Milky Way

The Milky Way is at its densest near Sagittarius, as this is where the galactic center lies. As a result, Sagittarius contains many star clusters and nebulae. The center of the Milky Way lies in the westernmost part of Sagittarius.

Sagittarius A

Sagittarius A or Sgr A is a complex radio source at the center of the Milky Way. It is located in the constellation Sagittarius, and is hidden from view at optical wavelengths by large clouds of cosmic dust in the spiral arms of the Milky Way.

It consists of three components, the supernova remnant Sagittarius A East, the spiral structure Sagittarius A West, and a very bright compact radio source at the center of the spiral, Sagittarius A* (“Sagittarius A-star”). These three overlap: Sagittarius A East is the largest, West appears off-center within East, and A* is at the center of West.

Sagitta

Sagitta is a dim but distinctive constellation in the northern sky. Its name is Latin for “arrow”, and it should not be confused with the significantly larger constellation Sagittarius, the archer. Located to the north of the equator, Sagitta can be seen from every location on Earth except within the Antarctic circle.

The Greeks who may have originally identified this constellation called it Oistos. The Romans named it Sagitta. Sagitta’s shape is reminiscent of an arrow, and many cultures have interpreted it thus, among them the Persians, Hebrews, Greeks and Romans. The Arabs called it as-Sahm, a name that was transferred Sham and now refers to Alpha Sagittae only.

In ancient Greece, Sagitta was regarded as the weapon that Hercules used to kill the eagle (Aquila) of Jove that perpetually gnawed Prometheus’ liver. The Arrow is located beyond the north border of Aquila, the Eagle.

According to R.H. Allen, the Arrow could be the one shot by Hercules towards the adjacent Stymphalian birds (6th labor) who had claws, beaks and wings of iron, and who lived on human flesh in the marshes of Arcadia – Aquila the Eagle, Cygnus the Swan, and Lyra (the Vulture) – and still lying between them, whence the title Herculea (although Allen cites no reference to support this assertion). Eratosthenes claimed it as the arrow with which Apollo exterminated the Cyclopes.

Chiron

Some identify Sagittarius as the centaur Chiron (also Cheiron or Kheiron; Greek: “hand”), the son of Philyra and Cronus, who mentored Achilles, a Greek hero of the Trojan War, in archery and who was said to have changed himself into a horse to escape his jealous wife, Rhea, and tutor to Jason.

Chiron’s lineage was different from other centaurs, who were born from Ixion (“strong native”), the king of the Lapiths, the most ancient tribe of Thessaly, and a son of Ares, or Leonteus, or Antion and Perimele, or the notorious evildoer Phlegyas, whose name connotes “fiery”, and Nephele (“cloud”), which in the Olympian telling Zeus invented to look like Hera.

Ixion married Dia, a daughter of Deioneus (or Eioneus) and promised his father-in-law a valuable present. However, he did not pay the bride price, so Deioneus stole some of Ixion’s horses in retaliation. Ixion concealed his resentment and invited his father-in-law to a feast at Larissa. When Deioneus arrived, Ixion pushed him into a bed of burning coals and wood.

These circumstances are secondary to the fact of Ixion’s primordial act of murder; it could be accounted for quite differently: in the Greek Anthology (iii.12), among a collection of inscriptions from a temple in Cyzicus is an epigrammatic description of Ixion slaying Phorbas (“giving pasture”) and Polymelos, who had slain his mother, Megara, the “great one”.

Ixion went mad, defiled by his act; the neighboring princes were so offended by this act of treachery and violation of xenia that they refused to perform the rituals that would cleanse Ixion of his guilt. Thereafter, Ixion lived as an outlaw and was shunned. By killing his father-in-law, Ixion was reckoned the first man guilty of kin-slaying in Greek mythology. That alone would warrant him a terrible punishment.

However, Zeus had pity on Ixion and brought him to Olympus and introduced him at the table of the gods. Instead of being grateful, Ixion grew lustful for Hera, Zeus’s wife, a further violation of guest-host relations. Zeus found out about his intentions and made a cloud in the shape of Hera, which became known as Nephele (from nephos “cloud”) and tricked Ixion into coupling with it.

From the union of Ixion and the false-Hera cloud came Imbros or Centauros, the father of the race of mythological beasts known as the centaurs or Ixionidae, who mated with the Magnesian mares on Mount Pelion, Pindar told, engendering the race of Centaurs, who are called the Ixion from their descent.

Centaurus was a deformed child who hunched over and found no peace amongst other humans. The only place where Centaurus felt like he belonged was on the mountain of Pelion. Here, he roamed, lived, and mated with the Magnesian mares who resided there. This resulted in the birth of the centaur race. The centaurs are half-man, half horse; having the torso of a man extending where the neck of a horse should be. They were said to be wild, savage, and lustful.

Centaurus was the first person to group stars into constellations and taught others how to read them. One explanation of the constellation is that Centaurus put a picture of himself in the sky to guide his sailor friends the Argonauts.

Ixion was expelled from Olympus and blasted with a thunderbolt. Zeus ordered Hermes to bind Ixion to a winged fiery wheel that was always spinning. Therefore, Ixion is bound to a burning solar wheel for all eternity, at first spinning across the heavens, but in later myth transferred to Tartarus. Only when Orpheus played his lyre during his trip to the Underworld to rescue Eurydice did it stop for a while.

In Greek mythology, Chiron was held to be the superlative centaur amongst his brethren, as he was called as the “wisest and justest of all the centaurs” and notable throughout Greek mythology for his youth-nurturing nature. Throughout Greek mythology, there were many heroes who were trained by Chiron.

Chiron was known for his knowledge and skill with medicine, and thus was credited with the discovery of botany and pharmacy, the science of herbs and medicine. He was the son of the Titan Cronus and the Oceanid Philyra, and thus possible brother to Dolops and Aphrus, the ancestor and eponym of the Aphroi, i.e. the native Africans.

According to an archaic myth, Chiron was sired by the Titan Cronus when he had taken the form of a horse and impregnated the nymph Philyra, hence the half-human, half-equine shape of their offspring. In Greek mythology, Philyra or Phillyra (“linden-tree”) was one of the Oceanids, daughters of Oceanus and Tethys.

This was said to have taken place on Mount Pelion. When she gave birth to her son, she was so disgusted by how he looked that she abandoned him out of shame and disgust at birth, and implored the gods to transform her into anything other than anthropomorphic as she could not bear the shame of having had such a monstrous child; the gods changed her into a linden tree.

Yet in some versions Philyra and Chariclo, the wife of Chiron, nursed the young Achilles; Chiron’s dwelling on Pelion where his disciples were reared was known as “Philyra’s cave”. Chiron was often referred to by the matronymic Philyrides or the like. Two other sons of Cronus and Philyra may have been Dolops and Aphrus, the ancestor and eponym of the Aphroi, i.e. the native Africans.

Chiron, effectively orphaned, was later found by the god Apollo, who decided to take him in as his son. Apollo taught to him the art of music, lyre, archery, medicine and prophecy. Apollo’s twin sister, Artemis, later approved of his decision and taught him more about archery and hunting. Chiron’s uniquely peaceful character, kindness and intelligence is attributed to Apollo and also to Artemis.

His personal skills tend to match those of his foster father Apollo, who taught the young centaur the art of medicine, herbs, music, archery, hunting, gymnastics and prophecy, and made him rise above his beastly nature.

Like satyrs, centaurs were notorious for being wild, lusty, overly indulgent drinkers and carousers, violent when intoxicated, and generally uncultured delinquents. Chiron, by contrast, was intelligent, civilized and kind, because he was not related directly to the other centaurs due to his parentage.

His nobility is further reflected in the story of his death, as Prometheus sacrificed his life, allowing mankind to obtain the use of fire. Chiron was the king of the centaurs and unlike his race he was intelligent and wise. So wise, in fact, that he tutored Heracles who became one of his great friends.

As the son of Cronus he was immortal, so it was left to Heracles to arrange a bargain with Zeus to exchange Chiron’s immortality for the life of Prometheus, who had been chained to a rock and left to die for his transgressions.

Chiron was pierced with an arrow belonging to Heracles that had been treated with the blood of the Hydra, or, in other versions, poison that Chiron had given to the hero when he had been under the honorable centaur’s tutelage.

This had taken place during the visit of Heracles to the cave of his dear friend Pholus on Mount Pelion in Thessaly during his fourth labour, defeating the Erymanthian Boar.

Pholus was a centaur and was having dinner with Heracles. While they were at supper, Heracles asked for some wine to accompany his meal. Pholus, who ate his food raw, was taken aback. He had been given a vessel of sacred wine by Dionysus sometime earlier, to be kept in trust by the centaurs until the right time for its opening.

At Heracles’ prompting, Pholus was forced to produce the vessel of sacred wine. The hero, gasping for wine, grabbed it from him and forced it open. Thereupon the vapors of the sacred wine wafted out of the cave and intoxicated the wild centaurs led by Nessus who had gathered outside.

The wine was the sacred wine of the centaurs. It was meant to only be drunk by the centaurs and only on special occasions. Pholus saw this and could not muster up the courage to tell his strong friend that he was not allowed to drink that wine. It was not long before the sacred scent reached the other centaurs.

The infuriated centaurs grabbed weapons and charged at Pholus’ house. They attacked with stones and fir trees the cave which was located in the neighbourhood of Malea. Heracles was forced to shoot many arrows (poisoned with the blood of the Hydra) to drive them back.

The coward Pholus fled almost immediately and left Heracles to fend for himself. Heracles killed several of the centaurs and soon enough of them were dead that the rest became afraid and tried to flee.

Upon shooting at the fleeing beasts, Heracles’ poison arrow grazed the knee of Chiron. Chiron was not involved in the fight but came out to try to stop it. During the assault, Chiron was hit in the thigh by one of the poisoned arrows.

After the centaurs had fled, Pholus emerged from the cave to observe the destruction. Being of a philosophical frame of mind, he pulled one of the arrows from the body of a dead centaur and wondered how such a little thing as an arrow could have caused so much death and destruction.

In that instant, he let slip the arrow from his hand and it dropped and hit him in the hoof, killing him instantly. This, however, is open to controversy, because Pholus shared the “civilized centaur” form with Chiron in some art images, and thus would have been immortal.

Ironically, Chiron, the master of the healing arts, could not heal himself and willingly gave up his immortality. For this reason, his half-brother Zeus took pity of him thus placed him among the stars in the sky to be honored. The Greeks identified him as the constellation Centaurus.

The immortal Chiron could not die from his wound and thus would be doomed to live in great pain forever. He cried to Zeus to give him relief and end his life. Zeus took pity on the centaur and let him die. To honor him, Zeus gave Chiron a place amongst the stars.

Centaurus

Constellation Centaurus the Centaur, sits south of constellation Virgo, between Argo Navis and constellation Lupus. Centaurus contains 10 named fixed stars. Centaurus is one of the largest constellations, spanning more than 60 degrees in length in the zodiac signs Libra and Scorpio.

Centaurus is a bright constellation in the southern sky. It is the ninth largest constellation, visible in the far southern sky in the months around March. While Centaurus now has a high southern latitude, at the dawn of civilization it was an equatorial constellation.

Precession has been slowly shifting it southward for millennia, and it is now close to its maximal southern declination. Thousands of years from now Centaurus will, once again, be at lower latitudes and be visible worldwide.

Visually, it is dominated by the bright stars α-Cen andβ-Cen, which form a pair of pointers to the Southern Cross, Crux, and may be used to distinguish it from the False Cross asterism in Carina and Vela. The brighter of these, α-Cen is not only the third brightest star in the sky but also the closest of all the stars visible to the unaided eye, lying at a distance of around 4.37 lightyears.

Although it appears as a single object to the unaided eye, it is actually a triple-star system. Through a telescope, it is easy to resolve into a pair of stars, of which HR 5459 is the brighter and HR 5460 the fainter. A third component of this system, Proxima Centauri, is the nearest known star to the Earth, but at 11th magnitude, it is very faint.

The Milky Way passes through the southern half of Centaurus, and so it is home to many bright open clusters. Its best known deep sky object is ω–Centauri (NGC 5139) which is the largest and brightest globular cluster in the sky, visible to the naked eye at mag 3.7.

The most popular meaning of the constellation is that it represents the form of Chiron. According to the Roman poet Ovid (Fasti v.379), the constellation honors the centaur Chiron, who was tutor to many of the earlier Greek heroes including Heracles (Hercules), Theseus, and Jason, the leader of the Argonauts.

In classical mythology, the centaurs were a race of beings who were half human and half horse. Centaurus is identified as one particularly wise centaur, Chiron, the son of Cronus, king of the Titans. He is commonly depicted holding an animal, the neighboring constellation Lupus, which he is about to sacrifice on the altar depicted in Ara.

In Greek mythology, Centaurus represents a centaur; a creature that is half human, half horse (another constellation named after a centaur is one from the zodiac: Sagittarius). The figure of Centaurus can be traced back to a Babylonian constellation known as the Bison-man (MUL.GUD.ALIM).

This being was depicted in two major forms: firstly, as a 4-legged bison with a human head, and secondly, as a being with a man’s head and torso attached to the rear legs and tail of a bull or bison. It has been closely associated with the Sun god Utu-Shamash from very early times.

The stars that make up this constellation were originally a part of the constellation Centaurus. They represented an animal that had been killed by the centaur. No particular animal was associated with it. The ancient Greeks knew it as Therium, a wild animal. The Romans called it Bestia, the beast. A later Latin translation of Ptolemy’s work finally identified it as a wolf.

The Greeks depicted the constellation as a centaur and gave it its current name. It was mentioned by Eudoxus in the 4th century BC and Aratus in the 3rd century BC. In the 2nd century AD, Claudius Ptolemy catalogued 37 stars in Centaurus, including Alpha Centauri.

Large as it is now, in earlier times it was even larger, as the constellation Lupus was treated as an asterism within Centaurus, portrayed in illustrations as an unspecified animal either in the centaur’s grasp or impaled on its spear.

The Southern Cross, which is now regarded as a separate constellation, was treated by the ancients as a mere asterism formed of the stars composing the centaur’s legs. Additionally, what is now the minor constellation Circinus was treated as undefined stars under the centaur’s front hooves.

According to the Roman poet Ovid (Fasti v.379), the constellation honors the centaur Chiron, who was tutor to many of the earlier Greek heroes including Heracles (Hercules), Theseus, and Jason, the leader of the Argonauts.

It is not to be confused with the more warlike centaur represented by the zodiacal constellation Sagittarius. The legend associated with Chiron says that he was accidentally poisoned with an arrow shot by Hercules, and was subsequently placed in the heavens.

The Scorpius–Centaurus Association

The Scorpius–Centaurus Association (sometimes called Sco–Cen or Sco OB2) is the nearest OB association to the Sun. This stellar association is composed of three subgroups (Upper Scorpius, Upper Centaurus–Lupus, and Lower Centaurus–Crux).

Many of the bright stars in the constellations Scorpius, Lupus, Centaurus, and Crux are members of the Sco–Cen association, including Antares (the most massive member of Upper Scorpius), and most of the stars in the Southern Cross.

Alpha Lupi (α Lupi, α Lup) is the brightest star in the southern constellation of Lupus. This star is a proper motion member of the Upper-Centaurus Lupus sub-group in the Scorpius-Centaurus OB association, the nearest such co-moving association of massive stars to the Sun.

The Crux 

Centaurus contains several very bright stars. Its alpha and beta stars are used as “pointer stars” to help observers find the constellation Crux, a constellation located in the southern sky in a bright portion of the Milky Way.

The two stars of Alpha and Beta Centauri are often referred to as the “Southern Pointers” or just “The Pointers”, allowing people to easily find the asterism of the Southern Cross or the constellation of Crux.

The Crux is among the most easily distinguished constellations, as all of its four main stars have an apparent visual magnitude brighter than +2.8, even though it is the smallest of all 88 modern constellations. Its name is Latin for cross, and it is dominated by a cross-shaped or kite-like asterism that is commonly known as the Southern Cross.

Predominating is the first-magnitude blue-white star of Alpha Crucis or Acrux, being the constellation’s brightest and most southerly member. Many of these brighter stars are members of the Scorpius–Centaurus Association, a large but loose group of hot blue-white stars that appear to share common origins and motion across the southern Milky Way.

Crux is bordered by the constellations Centaurus (which surrounds it on three sides) on the east, north and west, and Musca to the south. Crux is easily visible from the southern hemisphere at practically any time of year. It is also visible near the horizon from tropical latitudes of the northern hemisphere for a few hours every night during the northern winter and spring.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the Southern Cross is frequently used for navigation in much the same way that Polaris is used in the Northern Hemisphere. Alpha and Gamma (known as Acrux and Gacrux, respectively) are commonly used to mark south.

Tracing a line from Gacrux to Acrux leads to a point close to the Southern Celestial Pole. Alternatively, if a line is constructed perpendicularly between Alpha Centauri and Beta Centauri, the point where the above-mentioned line and this line intersect marks the Southern Celestial Pole. Another way to find south, strike line through Gacrux and Acrux, 4 1/2 times the distance between Gacrux and Acrux, directly below that point is south.

Very few bright stars of importance lie between Crux and the pole itself, although the constellation Musca is fairly easily recognised immediately beneath Crux. The stars within Crux were known to the Ancient Greeks, where Ptolemy regarded them as part of the constellation Centaurus. They were entirely visible as far north as Britain in the fourth millennium BC.

However, the precession of the equinoxes gradually lowered the stars below the European horizon, and they were eventually forgotten by the inhabitants of northern latitudes. By 400 AD, most of the stars in the constellation we now call Crux never rose above the horizon of Athens.

Kusarikku

The constellation of Kusarikku (“Bull-Man”), sometimes inscribed GUD.DUMU.dUTU, GUD.DUMU.AN.NA and sometimes phonetically ku-sa-rik-ku(m), synonymous with the Sumerian GU4/gud-alim and perhaps also alim, corresponds to part of Centaurus.

was an ancient Mesopotamian mythological demon shown in artistic representation from the earliest (late Uruk) times with the arms, torso and head of a human and the ears, horns and hindquarters bovine.

He is portrayed as walking upright and characterized as a door keeper to protect the inhabitants from malevolent intruders. He is one of the demons which represented mountains. He is pictured in late iconography holding a banduddû, “bucket”. On a stela of Meli-Šipak, the land grant to Ḫasardu kudurru, he is pictured carrying a spade.

In the Sumerian myth, Angim or “Ninurta’s return to Nippur”, the god “brought forth the Bison (gud-alim) from his battle dust” and “hung the Bison on the beam”. He is one of Tiāmat’s offspring vanquished by Marduk in the Epic of Creation, Enûma Eliš.

In the prologue of the Anzû Myth, Ninurta defeats the kusarikku “in the midst of the sea”. In an incantation against the evil eye of the Lamaštu, an incantation meant to soothe a crying child, kusarikku is portrayed as being negeltû, “roused”, and gullutu, “frightened”.

Along with Ugallu, Girtablullû, and others, he is one of the seven mythological apkallu or “sages” shown on neo-Assyrian palace reliefs, and with figurines – to guard against the influence of evil spirits. The constellation of kusarikku, or gud-alim, corresponds to part of Centaurus. He was associated with the god of justice, Šamaš, along with Girtablullû, the “Scorpion-Man”, and alim, the “Bison”.

There were three species of ungulates in Mesopotamia: the Aurochs, the Bison, and the Water buffalo, and it is not always certain as to which of these was represented in some of the earlier text references. There seems to have been a distinction between the Sumerian terms gud-alim, “bison-man”, and alim, “human-faced bison”.

Ugallu

Ugallu, the “Big Weather-Beast”, inscribed U4/UD.GAL-˹la˺, Akkadian: ūmu rabû, meaning “big day”, was a lion-headed storm-demon and has the feet of a bird who is featured on protective amulets and apotropaic yellow clay or tamarisk figurines of the first millennium BC but had its origins in the early second millennium.

The iconography changed over time, with the human feet morphing into an eagle’s talons and dressing him in a short skirt. He was one of the class of ud-demons (day-demons), personifying moments of divine intervention in human life.

Ugallu was one of the eleven mythical monsters created by Tiāmat in her conflict with the younger gods, on the reverse of the first tablet of the Epic of Creation, Enûma Eliš. The tale describes how Marduk captured and bound the creatures, rehabilitating them with work reconstructing the world from the corpses of his vanquished adversaries.

This transformed them into protective charms which would be used to adorn the doors of palaces, for example that of Ashurbanipal’s southwest palace at Nineveh, temples, such as the Esagil of the Marduk temple as described in the Agum-Kakrime Inscription, and private dwellings (the bedrooms of the vulnerable) to ward off evil and disease.

Sometimes in pairs of ugallū, the beneficial protective demon finds special purpose in adorning the outer gates of buildings. Ugallu first appears figuratively in the Old Babylonian period as a porter of the underworld, a servant of Nergal. In later times he is represented on amulets as frequently paired with the Sumerian demon Lulal, who was in many respects fairly similar in appearance.

He is portrayed clasping a dagger, and described thus: “a lion’s head and lion’s ears, it holds a … in its right hand and carries a mace (gišTUKUL) in its left, it is girded with a dagger, its name is ugallu.”

Ur(i)dimmu

Kusarikku appears in later iconography paired with Ur(i)dimmu, the reading is uncertain, meaning “Mad/howling Dog” or Langdon’s “Gruesome Hound”, Sumerian UR.IDIM and giš.pirig.gal = ur-gu-lu-ú = ur-idim-[mu] in the lexical series ḪAR.gud = imrû = ballu.

Ur(i)dimmu was an ancient Mesopotamian mythical creature in the form of a human headed dog-man or lion-man whose first appearance might be during the Kassite period, if the Agum-Kakrime Inscription proves to be a copy of a genuine period piece. He is pictured standing upright, wearing a horned tiara and holding a staff with an uskaru, or lunar crescent, at the tip.

The lexical series ḪAR-ra=ḫubullu describes him as a kalbu šegû, “rabid dog”, but due to the propensity for Sumerian culture to group canines and felines together (ur.maḫ, big dog = lion) and Akkadian to separate them (nēšu, labbu = lion), the issue remains unresolved although the prominent genitalia on the few extant representations argues for a canine interpretation.

His appearance was essentially the opposite, or complement of that of Ugallu, with a human head replacing that of an animal and an animal’s body replacing that of a human. He appears in later iconography paired with Kusarikku, “Bull-Man”, a similar anthropomorphic character, as attendants to the god Šamaš. He is carved as a guardian figure on a doorway in Aššur-bāni-apli’s north palace at Nineveh.

He appears as an intercessor with Marduk and Zarpanītu for the sick in rituals. He was especially revered in the Eanna in Uruk during the neo-Babylonian period where he seems to have taken on a cultic role, where the latest attestation was in the 29th year of Darius I.

As one of the eleven spawn of Tiamat in the Enûma Eliš vanquished by Marduk, he was displayed as a trophy on doorways to ward off evil and later became an apotropaic figurine buried in buildings for a similar purpose. He became identified as MUL- or dUR.IDIM with the constellation known by the Greeks as Wolf (Lupus), a constellation located in the deep Southern Sky.

Lupus

Lupus is a constellation located in the deep Southern Sky. Its name is Latin for wolf. It is often found in association with the sun god and another mythical being called the Bison-man, which is supposedly related to the Greek constellation of Centaurus, a bright constellation in the southern sky.

In ancient times, the constellation was considered an asterism within the neighboring constellation Centaurus, and was considered to have been an arbitrary animal, killed, or about to be killed, on behalf of, or for, Centaurus. An alternative visualization, attested by Eratosthenes, saw this constellation as a wineskin held by Centaurus.

It was not separated from Centaurus until Hipparchus of Bithynia named it Therion (meaning beast) in the 2nd century BC. No particular animal was associated with it until the Latin translation of Ptolemy’s work identified it with the wolf.

Most of the brightest stars in Lupus are massive members of the nearest OB association, Scorpius-Centaurus, which is the nearest OB association to the Sun. This stellar association is composed of three subgroups (Upper Scorpius, Upper Centaurus–Lupus, and Lower Centaurus–Crux).

The elements

Assyrian sculpture typically placed prominent pairs of lamassu at entrances in palaces, facing the street and also internal courtyards. They were represented as “double-aspect” figures on corners, in high relief. From the front they appear to stand, and from the side, walk, and in earlier versions have five legs, as is apparent when viewed obliquely.

The ancient Jewish people were influenced by the iconography of Assyrian culture. The prophet Ezekiel wrote about a fantastic being made up of aspects of a human being, a lion, an eagle and a bull. Later, in the early Christian period, the four Gospels were ascribed to each of these components. When it was depicted in art, this image was called the Tetramorph.

Classical elements typically refer to the concepts in ancient Greece of earth, water, air, fire, and aether, which were proposed to explain the nature and complexity of all matter in terms of simpler substances.

Ancient cultures in Babylonia, Japan, Tibet, and India had similar lists, sometimes referring in local languages to “air” as “wind” and the fifth element as “void”. The Chinese Wu Xing system lists Wood (mù), Fire (huǒ), Earth (tǔ), Metal (jīn), and Water (shuǐ), though these are described more as energies or transitions rather than as types of material.

These different cultures and even individual philosophers had widely varying explanations concerning their attributes and how they related to observable phenomena as well as cosmology. Sometimes these theories overlapped with mythology and were personified in deities.

Some of these interpretations included atomism (the idea of very small, indivisible portions of matter) but other interpretations considered the elements to be divisible into infinitely small pieces without changing their nature.

While the classification of the material world in ancient Indian, Hellenistic Egypt, and ancient Greece into Air, Earth, Fire and Water was more philosophical, during the Islamic Golden Age medieval middle eastern scientists used practical, experimental observation to classify materials.

In Europe, the Ancient Greek system of Aristotle evolved slightly into the medieval system, which for the first time in Europe became subject to experimental verification in the 1600s, during the Scientific Revolution.

Modern science does not support the classical elements as the material basis of the physical world. Atomic theory classifies atoms into more than a hundred chemical elements such as oxygen, iron, and mercury. These elements form chemical compounds and mixtures, and under different temperatures and pressures, these substances can adopt different states of matter.

The most commonly observed states of solid, liquid, gas, and plasma share many attributes with the classical elements of earth, water, air, and fire, respectively, but these states are due to similar behavior of different types of atoms at similar energy levels, and not due to containing a certain type of atom or a certain type of substance.

The Wu Xing, also known as the Five Elements, Five Phases, the Five Agents, the Five Movements, Five Processes, the Five Steps/Stages and the Five Planets of significant gravity: Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Venus, Mars is the short form of “Wǔ zhǒng liúxíng zhī qì” or “the five types of chi dominating at different times”.

It is a fivefold conceptual scheme that many traditional Chinese fields used to explain a wide array of phenomena, from cosmic cycles to the interaction between internal organs, and from the succession of political regimes to the properties of medicinal drugs.

The “Five Phases” are Wood (mù), Fire (huǒ), Earth (tǔ), Metal (jīn), and Water (shuǐ). This order of presentation is known as the “mutual generation” (xiāngshēng) sequence. In the order of “mutual overcoming” (xiāngkè), they are Wood, Earth, Water, Fire, and Metal.

The system of five phases was used for describing interactions and relationships between phenomena. After it came to maturity in the second or first century BCE during the Han dynasty, this device was employed in many fields of early Chinese thought.

It was included in seemingly disparate fields such as geomancy or Feng shui, astrology, traditional Chinese medicine, music, military strategy, and martial arts. The system is still used as a reference in some forms of complementary and alternative medicine and martial arts.

Classical Elements

Astrology and the Classical Elements

Five elements

Wu Xing

Papsukkal and Ishum

Janus: Isimu – Ninshubur – Hermes – Turms – Mercury – Lugus – Odin

The Akkadians associated the god Papsukkal with a lamassu and the god Ishum with shedu. Papsukkal was syncretized with Ninshubur, the messenger of the goddess Inanna. Much like Iris or Hermes in later Greek mythology, Ninshubur served as a messenger to the other gods. Hermes is identified with the Roman god Mercury.

Ishum is a minor god in Akkadian mythology, the brother of Shamash and an attendant of Erra. He may have been a god of fire and, according to texts, led the gods in war as a herald but was nonetheless generally regarded as benevolent. He developed from the Sumerian figure of Endursaga, the herald god in the Sumerian mythology. He leads the pantheon, particularly in times of conflict.

The ancient Greeks had no equivalent to Janus, whom the Romans claimed as distinctively their own. However, Isimud (also Isinu; Usmû; Usumu) is a minor god, the messenger of the god Enki, in Sumerian mythology. In ancient Sumerian artwork, Isimud is easily identifiable because he is always depicted with two faces facing in opposite directions in a way that is similar to the ancient Roman god Janus.

Isimud plays a similar role to Ninshubur, Inanna’s sukkal. 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.

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. In his earliest forms, he appears to have been related to the Etruscan deity Turms; both gods share characteristics with the Greek god Hermes.

Turms was depicted with the same distinctive attributes as Hermes and Mercury: a caduceus, a petasos (often winged), and/or winged sandals. Turms is portrayed as a messenger of the gods, particularly Tinia (Jupiter), although he is also thought to be ‘at the service’ (ministerium) of other deities. Etruscan artwork often depicts Turms in his role as psychopomp, conducting the soul into the afterlife.

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), travelers, boundaries, luck, trickery 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. 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 Arctūrus, 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.

Mercury is the ruling planet of Gemini and is exalted in Virgo and/or Aquarius. In classical Roman mythology, Mercury is the messenger of the gods, noted for his speed and swiftness. In Chinese astrology Mercury represents Water, the fourth element, therefore symbolizing communication, intelligence, and elegance.

Mercury rules over Wednesday. In Romance languages, the word for Wednesday is often similar to Mercury (miercuri in Romanian, mercredi in French, miercoles in Spanish and mercoledì in Italian).

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, a goddess of fertility and abundance, her attributes being those of plenty such as the cornucopia.

The cornucopia (from Latin cornu copiae), also called the horn of plenty, was a symbol of abundance and nourishment, commonly a large horn-shaped container overflowing with produce, flowers or nuts. The cornucopia became the attribute of several Greek and Roman deities, particularly those associated with the harvest, prosperity, or spiritual abundance.

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. In Germanic mythology, Odin (from Old Norse: Óðinn) is a widely revered god.

References to Odin appear in place names throughout regions historically inhabited by the ancient Germanic peoples, and the day of the week Wednesday bears his name in many Germanic languages, including English. Mercury is the ruling planet of Gemini and is exalted in Virgo and/or Aquarius.

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

Odin is a frequent subject of study in Germanic studies, and numerous theories have been put forward regarding his development. Some of these focus on Odin’s particular relation to other figures; for example, the fact that Freyja’s husband Óðr appears to be something of an etymological doublet of the god, whereas Odin’s wife Frigg is in many ways similar to Freyja, and that Odin has a particular relation to the figure of Loki.

Janus

Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings, who is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. The gates of a building in Rome named after him (not a temple, as it is often called, but an open enclosure with gates at each end) were opened in time of war, and closed to mark the arrival of peace (which did not happen very often).

Numa in his regulation of the Roman calendar called the first month Januarius after Janus, according to tradition considered the highest divinity at the time. He was likely the most important god in the Roman archaic pantheon, and was often invoked together with Iuppiter (Jupiter).

Janus had no flamen or specialised priest (sacerdos) assigned to him, but the King of the Sacred Rites (rex sacrorum) himself carried out his ceremonies. Janus had an ubiquitous presence in religious ceremonies throughout the year. As such, Janus was ritually invoked at the beginning of each ceremony, regardless of the main deity honored on any particular occasion.

Janus frequently symbolized change and transitions such as the progress of past to future, from one condition to another, from one vision to another, and young people’s growth to adulthood. He represented time, because he could see into the past with one face and into the future with the other.

Hence, Janus was worshipped at the beginnings of the harvest and planting times, as well as at marriages, deaths and other beginnings. He represented the middle ground between barbarism and civilization, rural and urban space, youth and adulthood. Having jurisdiction over beginnings Janus had an intrinsic association with omens and auspices.

The function god of beginnings has been clearly expressed in numerous ancient sources, among them most notably Cicero, Ovid, and Varro. As a god of motion, Janus looks after passages, causes actions to start and presides over all beginnings. Since movement and change are interconnected, he has a double nature, symbolised in his two headed image.

He has under his tutelage the stepping in and out of the door of homes, the ianua, which took its name from him, and not vice versa. Similarly, his tutelage extends to the covered passages named iani and foremost to the gates of the city, including the cultic gate of the Argiletum, named Ianus Geminus or Porta Ianualis from which he protects Rome against the Sabines.

He presides over the concrete and abstract beginnings of the world, such as religion and the gods themselves, he too holds the access to Heaven and to other gods: this is the reason why men must invoke him first, regardless of the god they want to pray or placate. He is the initiator of human life, of new historical ages, and financial enterprises: according to myth he was the first to mint coins and the as, first coin of the liberal series, bears his effigy on one face.

He is also present at the Sororium Tigillum, where he guards the terminus of the ways into Rome from Latium. He has an altar, later a temple near the Porta Carmentalis, where the road leading to Veii ended, as well as being present on the Janiculum, a gateway from Rome out to Etruria.

The connection of the notions of beginning (principium), movementy, transition (eundo), and thence time has been clearly expressed by Cicero. In general, Janus is at the origin of time as the guardian of the gates of Heaven: Jupiter himself can move forth and back because of Janus’s working.

In one of his temples, probably that of Forum Holitorium, the hands of his statue were positioned to signify the number 355 (the number of days in a lunar year), later 365, symbolically expressing his mastership over time.

Portunus – Melicertes – Melqart – Quirinus – Romulus 

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence war and peace. As a god of transitions, he had functions pertaining to birth and to journeys and exchange, and in his association with Portunus, a similar harbor and gateway god, he was concerned with travelling, trading and shipping.

Portunus was the ancient Roman god of keys, doors, livestock and ports. He may have originally protected the warehouses where grain was stored, but later became associated with ports, perhaps because of folk associations between porta “gate, door” and portus “harbor”, the “gateway” to the sea, or because of an expansion in the meaning of portus. Portunus later became conflated with the Greek Palaemon.

No satisfactory origin of the name Palaemon has been given. It has been suggested that it means the “wrestler” or “struggler” and is an epithet of Heracles, with whom Melqart is identified by interpretatio graeca and referred to as the Tyrian Herakles, but there does not appear to be any traditional connection between Heracles and Palaemon.

Melicertes being Phoenician, Palaemon also has been explained as the “burning lord” (Baal-haman), but there seems little in common between a god of the sea and a god of fire. The Romans identified Palaemon with Portunus (the harbour god), and some took the name Palaemon to mean “the honey eater”. The name is also said to mean “the wrestler”.

In Greek mythology, Melicertes (Ancient Greek: Melecertes, later called Palaemon) is the son of the Boeotian prince Athamas and Ino, daughter of Cadmus. Palaemon appears for the first time in Euripides’ Iphigeneia in Tauris, where he is already the “guardian of ships”. There seems considerable doubt whether or not the cult of Melicertes was of foreign, probably Phoenician, origin, and introduced by Phoenician navigators on the coasts and islands of the Aegean and Mediterranean.

For the Hellenes he is a native of Boeotia, where Phoenician influences were strong; at Tenedos he was propitiated by the sacrifice of children which seems to point to his identity with Melqart, the tutelary god of the Phoenician city of Tyre. Melqart was often titled the “Lord of Tyre” (Ba‘al Ṣūr) and was considered to be the progenitor of the Tyrian royal family. As Tyrian trade and colonization expanded, Melqart became venerated in Phoenician and Punic cultures from Lebanon to Spain.

Melqart was written in the Phoenician abjad as mlqrt. The same name is also sometimes transcribed as Melkart, Melkarth, or Melgart. The name is a variant of mlk qrt and means “King of the City”. In Akkadian, his name was written Milqartu. To the Greeks and the Romans, he was identified with Hercules and, when necessary, distinguished as the Tyrian Hercules.

It was suggested by some writers that the Phoenician Melicertes son of Ino found in Greek mythology was in origin a reflection of Melqart. Though no classical source explicitly connects the two, Ino is the daughter of Cadmus of Tyre. Sanchuniathon makes Melqart under the name Malcarthos or Melcathros. the son of Hadad. who is normally identified with Zeus.

The Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions (10.24) speaks of the tombs of various gods, including “that of Heracles at Tyre, where he was burnt with fire.” Athenaeus summarizes a story by Eudoxus of Cnidus (c. 355 BCE) telling how Heracles the son of Zeus by Asteria (= ‘Ashtart ?) was killed by Typhon in Libya.

Heracles’ companion Iolaus brought a quail to the dead god (presumably a roasted quail) and its delicious scent roused Heracles back to life. This purports to explain why the Phoenicians sacrifice quails to Heracles. It seems that Melqart had a companion similar to the Hellenic Iolaus, who was himself a native of the Tyrian colony of Thebes.

He initiated the ‘Awakening’ of Heracles, in the month of Peritios, corresponding to February, indicating this annual awakening was in no way a solstitial celebration. It would have coincided with the normal ending of the winter rains. The annual observation of the revival of Melqart’s “awakening” may identify Melqart as a life-death-rebirth deity.

The Roman Emperor Septimius Severus was a native of Lepcis Magna in North Africa, an originally Phoenician city where worship of Melqart was widespread. He is known to have constructed in Rome a temple dedicated to “Liber and Hercules”, and it is assumed that the Emperor, seeking to honour the god of his native city, identified Melqart with the Roman god Liber.

Because of the scanty evidence scholars vary widely on what kind of a god Melqart was. William F. Albright in Archaeology and the Religion of Israel suggested Melqart was a god of the underworld partly because a god Malku who may be Melqart is sometimes equated with the Mesopotamian god Nergal, a god of the underworld, whose name also means ‘King of the City’.

Others take this to be coincidental, since what we know about Melqart from other sources does not suggest an underworld god and it is more natural to understand the city to be Tyre. It has been suggested that Melqart began as a sea god who was later given solar attributes or alternatively that he began as a solar god who later received the attributes of a sea god. In fact little is known of his cult.

Portunus’ festival, celebrated on August 17, the sixteenth day before the Kalends of September, was the Portunalia, a minor occasion in the Roman year. On this day, keys were thrown into a fire for good luck in a very solemn and lugubrious manner. His attribute was a key and his main temple in the city of Rome, the Temple of Portunus, was to be found in the Forum Boarium.

Portunus appears to be closely related to the god Janus, with whom he shares many characters, functions and the symbol of the key. He too was represented as a two headed being, with each head facing opposite directions, on coins and as figurehead of ships. He was considered to be “deus portuum portarumque praeses” (lit. God presiding over ports and gates.)

The relationship between the two gods is underlined by the fact that the date chosen for the dedication of the rebuilt temple of Janus in the Forum Holitorium by emperor Tiberius is the day of the Portunalia, August 17.

Linguist Giuliano Bonfante has speculated, on the grounds of his cult and of the meaning of his name, that Portunus should be a very archaic deity and might date back to an era when Latins lived in dwellings built on pilings. He argues that in Latin the words porta (door, gate) and portus (harbour, port) share their etymology from the same IE root meaning ford, wading point.

Portunus’ flamen, the flamen Portunalis, was one of the flamines minores and performed the ritual of oiling the spear (hasta) on the statue of god Quirinus, with an ointment especially prepared for this purpose and stored in a small vase (persillum).

In Roman mythology and religion, Quirinus (Latin: Quirīnus) is an early god of the Roman state. In Augustan Rome, Quirinus was also an epithet of Janus, as Janus Quirinus. His name may be derived from the Sabine word quiris “spear”. In earlier Roman art, he was portrayed as a bearded man with religious and military clothing. However, he was almost never depicted in later Roman belief systems. He was also often associated with the myrtle.

Quirinus is probably an adjective meaning “wielder of the spear” (Quiris, in the Sabine language, cf. Janus Quirinus). Other suggested etymologies are: from the Sabine town Cures; from curia, i.e. he was the god of the Roman state as represented by the thirty curies, first proposed by Krestchmer. A. B. Cook explains Quirinus as the oak-god (quercus), and Quirites as the men of the oaken spear.

Quirinus was most likely a Sabine god of war. The Sabines had a settlement near the eventual site of Rome, and erected an altar to Quirinus on the Collis Quirinalis Quirinal Hill, one of the Seven hills of Rome. When the Romans settled in the area, the cult of Quirinus became part of their early belief system. This occurred before the later influences from the classical Greek culture.

In Plutarch’s Life of Romulus, he writes that shortly after Rome’s founder had disappeared under what some considered suspicious circumstances, a Roman noble named Proculus Julius reported that Romulus had came to him while he was travelling. He claimed that the king had instructed him to tell his countrymen that he, Romulus was Quirinus. By the end of the first century BC, Quirinus would be considered to be the deified legendary king.

Historian Angelo Brelich has argued that Quirinus and Romulus were originally the same divine entity which was split into a founder hero and a god when Roman religion became demythicised. To support this, he points to the association of both Romulus and Quirinus with the grain spelt, through the Fornacalia or Stultorum Feriae, according to Ovid’s Fasti.

The last day of the festival is called the Quirinalia and corresponds with the traditional day of Romulus’ death. On that day, the Romans would toast spelt as an offering to the goddess Fornax. In one version of the legend of Romulus’ death cited by Plutarch, he was killed and cut into pieces by the nobles and each of them took a part of his body home and buried it on their land.

Brelich claims that this pattern – a festival involving a staple crop, a god, and a tale of a slain founding hero whose body parts are buried in the soil – is a recognized archetype that arises when such a split takes place in a culture’s mythology. The possible presence of the flamen Quirinalis at the festival of Acca Larentia would corroborate this thesis, given the fact that Romulus is a stepson of hers, and one of the original twelve arval brethren (Fratres Arvales).

The association of Quirinus and Romulus is further supported by a connection with Vofionos, the third god in the triad of the Grabovian gods of Iguvium. Vofionos would be the equivalent of Liber or Teutates, in Latium and among the Celts respectively.

His early importance led to his inclusion in the first Capitoline Triad, along with Mars (then an agriculture god) and Jupiter. Over time, however, he became less significant, and he was absent from the later, more widely known triad (he and Mars had been replaced by Juno and Minerva). Varro mentions the Capitolium Vetus, an earlier cult site on the Quirinal, devoted to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, among whom Martial makes a distinction between the “old Jupiter” and the “new”.

Eventually, Romans began to favor personal and mystical cults over the official state belief system. These included those of Bacchus, Cybele, and Isis, leaving only his flamen to worship him. The Flamen Quirinalis who remained, however, was one of the patrician flamines maiores (“greater flamens”) who had oversight over the Pontifex Maximus.

Even centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Quirinal hill in Rome, originally named from the deified Romulus, was still associated with power – it was chosen as the seat of the royal house after the taking of Rome by the Savoia and later it became the residence of the Presidents of the Italian Republic.

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.

Haia – Nisaba

In ancient Mesopotamian religion, Haya was primarily a god of scribes, but also of stores and may have also been associated with grain and agriculture. He also served as a doorkeeper. In some texts, he is identified as the father of the goddess Ninlil.

In the god-list AN = dA-nu-um preserved on manuscripts of the first millennium he is mentioned together with dlugal-[ki-sá-a], a divinity associated with door-keepers. Already in the Ur III period Haya had received offerings together with offerings to the “gate”. This was presumably because of the location of one of his shrines.

At least from the Old Babylonian period on he is known as the spouse of the grain-goddess Nidaba/Nissaba, who is also the patroness of the scribal art. From the same period we have a Sumerian hymn composed in his honour, which celebrates him in these capacities.

Haya is also characterised, beyond being the spouse of Nidaba/Nissaba, as an “agrig”-official of the god Enlil. The god-list AN = Anu ša amēli (lines 97-98) designates him as “the Nissaba of wealth”, as opposed to his wife, who is the “Nissaba of Wisdom”.

There is also a divine name Haia(-)amma in a bilingual Hattic-Hittite text from Anatolia which is used as an equivalent for the Hattic grain-goddess Kait in an invocation to the Hittite grain-god Halki, although it is unclear whether this appellation can be related to dha-ià.

He was worshipped mostly during the Third Dynasty of Ur, when he had temples in the cities of Umma, Ur, and Kuara. In later times, he had a temple in the city of Assur and may have had one in Nineveh. A god named Haya was worshipped at Mari, but this may have been a different deity.

Haya is the husband of the goddess Nisaba (Sumerian: DNAGA; later DŠE.NAGA), also known by the epithet Nanibgal (Sumerian: DAN.NAGA; later DAN.ŠE.NAGA), the Sumerian goddess of writing, learning, and the harvest.

She was the daughter of Anu and Unas (personifications of Heaven and Earth), although, in certain cities like Lagash, she was represented as the daughter of Enlil and Ninlil, the divine couple who came to power with the blessing of Anu and Unas. In the best-known stories, however, Ninlil (also known as Sud) is Nisaba’s daughter and Enlil her son-in-law.

The god of wisdom, Enki, organized the world after creation and gave each deity a role in the world order. Nisaba was named the scribe of the gods, and Enki then built her a school of learning so that she could better serve those in need. She keeps records, chronicles events, and performs various other bookwork-related duties for the gods. She is also in charge of marking regional borders.

She is the chief scribe of Nanshe. In Sumerian mythology, Nanshe was the daughter of Enki (god of wisdom, magic and water) and Ninhursag (earth and mother goddess). Her functions as a goddess were varied. She was a goddess of social justice, prophecy, fertility and fishing. Like her father, she was heavily associated with water.

The Sumerians first invented writing c. 3500-3000 BCE as a means of long-distance communication in trade. With the rise of the cities in Mesopotamia and the increased need for certain resources each lacked, long-distance trade developed and with it the need to be able to communicate between regions. This early writing was known as cuneiform, impressions made with a sharp object in clay.

The earliest form of cuneiform was pictographs – symbols which represented objects – and served to aid in remembering such things as which parcels of grain had gone to which destination or the number of livestock sent to the temple.

These pictographs were impressed onto wet clay which was then dried, and these became official records of commerce. With pictographs, one could tell how many sheep, vats of beer, or sheafs of grain were involved in a transaction but not necessarily what that transaction meant.

In order to express concepts more complex than financial transactions or lists of items, a more elaborate writing system was required, and this was developed in the Sumerian city of Uruk c. 3200 BCE. Pictographs, though still in use, gave way to phonograms – symbols which represented sounds – and those sounds were the spoken language of the people of Sumer.

With phonograms, one could more easily convey precise meaning, and so, in the example of the two sheep and the temple of Inanna, one could now make clear whether the sheep were going to or coming from the temple, whether they were living or dead, and what role they played in the life of the temple.

Nisaba, formerly goddess of grain, became associated with writing as records were made regarding grain transactions. As the great lady who made the grain grow, she also oversaw the accounts of where it was distributed and how. Writing developed as trade grew until Nisaba was synonymous with the concept of writing and became known as “The Lady – in the place where she approaches there is writing”.

Cuneiform represented the spoken language of the Sumerians, but the form lent itself to other languages as well and was used by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and many others throughout the Near East.

Nisaba became the goddess of literacy and patroness of the craft of writing. Scribal school tablets often end with the phrase, ‘Praise be to Nisaba!’ and Meador notes how “a young student wrote on one ancient tablet, ‘I am the creation of Nisaba'”.

When she had been goddess of grains, she was represented in cuneiform as a grain stalk, which meant she was the grain itself. Each early pictogram represented the thing itself, not concepts about an object or person, and so when the stalk of grain appears in early cuneiform the writer is saying Nisaba is present in that grain.

In the same way, when she became goddess of writing, she was the written word; she was language; she was literacy; she was communication, learning; she was the writer and the written word.

As with many Sumerian deities, Nisaba’s exact place in the pantheon and her heritage appears somewhat ambiguous. She is the daughter of An and Urash. From Sumerian texts, the language used to describe Urash is very similar to the language used to describe Ninhursag.

Therefore, the two goddess may be one and the same. Nisaba is the sister of Ninsun, the mother of Gilgamesh. If Urash and Ninhursag are the same goddess, then Nisaba is also the half sister of Nanshe and (in some versions) Ninurta.

Although Nisaba was worshiped at shrines and sanctuaries, no actual temple dedicated to her has yet been identified. She was honored at the temples of other gods such as those of Nabu and Ninlil, and these may have earlier been Nisaba’s, which were later repurposed. Inscriptions make clear that her temple at Eresh was known as Esagin, ‘House of Lapis Lazuli,’ which was a center of worship for over 1,000 years.

Her worship eventually seems to have consisted primarily of the act of writing; in composing a written work, an author was honoring the goddess with the gifts she had given. She became synonymous with wisdom and learning and was invoked regularly by scribes, scholars, priests, astronomers, and mathematicians for inspiration and guidance in their work.

The Amorite king Hammurabi rose to power after his father, Sin-Muballit, was forced to abdicate in his favor. Once Hammurabi held the throne of Babylon, he steadily lay his plans for conquest and then acted on them, successfully defeating his enemies and creating an empire.

He thanked his gods for these victories by elevating them in status at the expense of others, naturally, but Hammurabi’s gods were predominantly male, and their prominence led to the loss of status of female deities throughout Mesopotamia; as well as a corresponding decline in the status and rights of women.

Nabu, as Marduk’s son, took Nisaba’s place as the patron of writing and scribes, and she was relegated to a second-class role as his wife and consort. In this capacity, she kept the records and library of the gods but was no longer invoked for inspiration in creativity; this was now Nabu’s role.

Cylinder seals from the Early Dynastic Period seem to depict her associated with construction, particularly of monuments and temples, which – along with her literary association – would link her to the Egyptian goddess Seshat, the ancient Egyptian goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and writing. Seshat also became identified as the goddess of accounting, architecture, astronomy, astrology, building, mathematics, and surveying.

Thoth, the reckoner of time and god of writing who was also venerated as a god of wisdom was closely identified with Seshat, with whom he shared some overlapping functions. At times she was identified as his daughter, and at other times as his wife.

Thoth was inserted in many tales as the wise counselor and persuader, and his association with learning and measurement led him to be connected with Seshat, the earlier deification of wisdom, who was said to be his daughter, or variably his wife.

Thoth’s qualities also led to him being identified by the Greeks with their closest matching god Hermes, with whom Thoth was eventually combined as Hermes Trismegistus, also leading to the Greeks’ naming Thoth’s cult centre as Hermopolis, meaning city of Hermes.

It is, however, more widely accepted that Thoth was a record keeper and the scribe of the gods, not a divine messenger. Anubis (or Hermanubis), the Greek name of a god associated with mummification and the afterlife in ancient Egyptian religion, was viewed as the messenger of the gods, as he travelled in and out of the Underworld and presented himself to the gods and to humans.

Anubis is usually depicted as a canine or a man with a canine head. Archeologists have identified Anubis’s sacred animal as an Egyptian canid, the African golden wolf. In the Ptolemaic period (350–30 BC), when Egypt became a Hellenistic kingdom ruled by Greek pharaohs, Anubis was merged with the Greek god Hermes, becoming Hermanubis. The two gods were considered similar because they both guided souls to the afterlife.

Geminus – Quadrifrons

Though he was usually depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions as Janus Geminus (twin Janus) or Bifrons, in some places he was Janus Quadrifrons, or the four-faced. The Janus quadrifrons, although having a different meaning, seems to be connected to the same theological complex, as its image purports an ability to rule over every direction, element and time of the year. It did not give rise to a new epithet though.

Geminus is the first epithet in Macrobius’s list. Although the etymology of the word is unclear, it is certainly related to his most typical character, that of having two faces or heads. The proof are the numerous equivalent expressions.

The origin of this epithet might be either concrete, referring directly to the image of the god reproduced on coins and supposed to have been introduced by king Numa in the sanctuary at the lowest point of the Argiletum, or to a feature of the Ianus of the Porta Belli, the double gate ritually opened at the beginning of wars, or abstract, deriving metaphorically from the liminal, intermediary functions of the god themselves: both in time and space passages connected two different spheres, realms or worlds.

The Janus quadrifrons or quadriformis, brought according to tradition from Falerii in 241 BC and installed by Domitian in the Forum Transitorium, although having a different meaning, seems to be connected to the same theological complex, as its image purports an ability to rule over every direction, element and time of the year. It did not give rise to a new epithet though.

It has long been believed that Janus was present among the theonyms on the outer rim of the Piacenza Liver in case 3 under the name of Ani. This fact created a problem as the god of beginnings looked to be located in a situation other than the initial, i.e. the first case. After the new readings proposed by A. Maggiani, in case 3 one should read Tins: the difficulty has thus dissolved. Ani has thence been eliminated from Etruscan theology as this was his only attestation.

Tinia (also Tin, Tinh, Tins or Tina) was the god of the sky and the highest god in Etruscan mythology, equivalent to the Roman Jupiter and the Greek Zeus. He was the husband of Thalna or Uni and the father of Hercle.

Tinia was part of the powerful “trinity” that included Menrva and Uni, and had temples in every city of Etruria. Tinia was sometimes represented as seated and with a beard or sometimes standing and beardless. In terms of symbolism, Tinia has the thunderbolt and the rod of power, and is generally accompanied by the eagle and sometimes has a wreath of ivy round his head, in addition to the other insignia of Jove.

Some of Tinia’s possible epithets are detailed on the Piacenza Liver, a bronze model of a liver used for haruspicy. These inscriptions have been transcribed as Tin Cilens, Tin Θuf and Tinś Θne. There have been a number of suggestions as to their meaning, but the Etruscan language is poorly understood and there is no scholarly consensus for the translation.

Uni was the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon and the patron goddess of Perugia. Uni was identified by the Etruscans as their equivalent of Juno in Roman mythology and Hera in Greek mythology. She formed a triad with her husband Tinia and daughter Menrva. Uni appears in the Etruscan text on the Pyrgi Tablets as the translation of the Phoenician goddess Astarte.

Livy states (Book V, Ab Urbe Condita) that Juno was an Etruscan goddess of the Veientes, who was adopted ceremonially into the Roman pantheon when Veii was sacked in 396 BC. This seems to refer to Uni. She also appears on the Liver of Piacenza. In the Etruscan tradition, it is Uni who grants access to immortality to the demigod Hercle (Greek Heracles, Latin Hercules) by offering her breast milk to him.

Maggiani remarks that this earlier identification was in contradiction with the testimony ascribed to Varro by Johannes Lydus that Janus was named Caelum among the Etruscans. Caelus or Coelus was a primal god of the sky in Roman myth and theology, iconography, and literature (compare caelum, the Latin word for “sky” or “the heavens”, hence English “celestial”).

The deity’s name usually appears in masculine grammatical form when he is conceived of as a male generative force, but the neuter form Caelum is also found as a divine personification. Caelus begins to appear regularly in Augustan art and in connection with the cult of Mithras during the Imperial era.

Vitruvius includes him among celestial gods whose temple-buildings (aedes) should be built open to the sky. As a sky god, he became identified with Jupiter, as indicated by an inscription that reads Optimus Maximus Caelus Aeternus Iup<pi>ter.

According to Cicero and Hyginus, Caelus was the son of Aether and Dies (“Day” or “Daylight”). Caelus and Dies were in this tradition the parents of Mercury. With Trivia, Caelus was the father of the distinctively Roman god Janus, as well as of Saturn and Ops. Caelus was also the father of one of the three forms of Jupiter, the other two fathers being Aether and Saturn.

On the other hand, as expected Janus is present in region I of Martianus Capella’s division of Heaven and in region XVI, the last one, are to be found the Ianitores terrestres (along with Nocturnus), perhaps to be identified in Forculus, Limentinus and Cardea, deities strictly related to Janus as his auxiliaries (or perhaps even no more than concrete subdivisions of his functions) as the meaning of their names implies:

Forculus is the god of the forca, a iugum, low passage, Limentinus the guardian of the limes, boundary, Cardea the goddess of hinges, here of the gates separating Earth and Heaven. The problem posed by the qualifying adjective terrestres earthly, can be addressed in two different ways. One hypothesis is that Martianus’s depiction implies a descent from Heaven onto Earth.

However Martianus’s depiction does not look to be confined to a division Heaven-Earth as it includes the Underworld and other obscure regions or remote recesses of Heaven. Thence one may argue that the articulation Ianus-Ianitores could be interpreted as connected to the theologem of the Gates of Heaven (the Synplegades) which open on the Heaven on one side and on Earth or the Underworld on the other.

From other archaeological documents though it has become clear that the Etruscans had another god iconographically corresponding to Janus: Culśanś, of which there is a bronze statuette from Cortona (now at Cortona Museum). While Janus is a bearded adult Culśans may be an unbearded youth, making his identification with Hermes look possible. His name too is connected with the Etruscan word for doors and gates.

According to Capdeville he may also be found on the outer rim of the Piacenza Liver on case 14 in the compound form CULALP, i.e., “of Culśanś and of Alpan(u)” on the authority of Pfiffig, but perhaps here it is the female goddess Culśu, the guardian of the door of the Underworld. Although the location is not strictly identical there is some approximation in his situations on the Liver and in Martianus’ system.

A. Audin connects the figure of Janus to Culśanś and Turms (Etruscan rendering of Hermes, the Greek god mediator between the different worlds, brought by the Etruscan from the Aegean Sea), considering these last two Etruscan deities as one. This interpretation would then identify Janus with Greek god Hermes. Etruscan medals from Volterra too show the double headed god and the Janus Quadrifrons from Falerii may have an Etruscan origin.

Salii

The rites concerning Janus were numerous. Owing to the versatile and far reaching character of his basic function marking all beginnings and transitions, his presence was ubiquitous and fragmented.

Apart from the rites solemnizing the beginning of the new year and of every month, there were the special times of the year which marked the beginning and closing of the military season, in March and October respectively. These included the rite of the arma movēre on 1 March and that of the arma condĕre at the end of the month performed by the Salii, and the Tigillum Sororium on 1 October.

Janus Quirinus was closely associated with the anniversaries of the dedications of the temples of Mars on 1 June (a date that corresponded with the festival of Carna, a deity associated with Janus: see below) and of that of Quirinus on 29 June (which was the last day of the month in the pre-Julian calendar).

The rites of the Salii marked the springtime beginning of the war season in March and its closing in October. The structure of the patrician sodalitas, made up by the two groups of the Salii Palatini, who were consecrated to Mars and whose institution was traditionally ascribed to Numa (with headquarter on the Palatine).

The Salii Collini or Agonales, consecrated to Quirinus and whose foundation was ascribed to Tullus Hostilius, (with headquarter on the Quirinal) reflects in its division the dialectic symbolic role they played in the rites of the opening and closing of the military season. So does the legend of their foundation itself.

The peace-loving king Numa instituted the Salii of Mars Gradivus, foreseeing the future wars of the Romans while the warmonger king Tullus, in a battle during a longstanding war with the Sabines, swore to found a second group of Salii should he obtain victory.

The paradox of the pacifist king serving Mars and passage to war and of the warmonger king serving Quirinus to achieve peace under the expected conditions highlights the dialectic nature of the cooperation between the two gods, inherent to their own function. Because of the working of the talismans of the sovereign god they guaranteed alternatively force and victory, fecundity and plenty.

It is noteworthy that the two groups of Salii did not split their competences so that one group only opened the way to war and the other to peace: they worked together both at the opening and the conclusion of the military season, marking the passage of power from one god to the other. Thus the Salii enacted the dialectic nature present in the warring and peaceful aspect of the Roman people, particularly the iuvenes.

This dialectic was reflected materially by the location of the temple of Mars outside the pomerium and of the temple of Quirinus inside it. The annual dialectic rhythm of the rites of the Salii of March and October was also further reflected within the rites of each month and spatially by their repeated crossing of the pomerial line.

The rites of March started on the first with the ceremony of the ancilia movere, developed through the month on the 14th with Equirria in the Campus Martius (and the rite of Mamurius Veturius marking the expulsion of the old year), the 17th with the Agonium Martiale, the 19th with the Quinquatrus in the Comitium (which correspond symmetrically with the Armilustrium of 19 October), on the 23rd with the Tubilustrium and they terminated at the end of the month with the rite of the ancilia condere.

Only after this month-long set of rites was accomplished was it fas to undertake military campaigns. While Janus sometimes is named belliger and sometimes pacificus in accord with his general function of beginner, he is mentioned as Janus Quirinus in relation to the closing of the rites of March at the end of the month together with Pax, Salus and Concordia: This feature is a reflection of the aspect of Janus Quirinus which stresses the quirinal function of bringing peace back and the hope of soldiers for a victorious return.

As the rites of the Salii mimic the passage from peace to war and back to peace by moving between the two poles of Mars and Quirinus in the monthly cycle of March, so they do in the ceremonies of October, the Equus October (“October Horse”) taking place on the Campus Martius the Armilustrium, purification of the arms, on the Aventine, and the Tubilustrium on the 23rd.

Other correspondences may be found in the dates of the founding of the temples of Mars on 1 June and of that of Quirinus on 29 June, in the pre-Julian calendar the last day of the month, implying that the opening of the month belonged to Mars and the closing to Quirinus. The reciprocity of the two gods’ situations is subsumed under the role of opener and closer played by Janus as Ovid states: “Why are you hidden in peace, and open when the arms have been moved?”

Another analogous correspondence may be found in the festival of the Quirinalia of February, last month of the ancient calendar of Numa. The rite of the opening and closure of the Janus Quirinus would thus reflect the idea of the reintegretation of the miles into civil society, i.e. the community of the quirites, by playing a lustral role similar to the Tigillum Sororium and the porta triumphalis located at the south of the Campus Martius. In Augustan ideology this symbolic meaning was strongly emphasised.

Gemini

Geminus (twin, double, paired, or one who is a twin) is the first epithet of Janus in Macrobius’s list. Although the etymology of the word is unclear, it is certainly related to his most typical character, that of having two faces or heads. The proof are the numerous equivalent expressions.

The origin of this epithet might be either concrete. It can be referring directly to the image of the god, to a feature of the Ianus of the Porta Belli, the double gate ritually opened at the beginning of wars, or abstract, deriving metaphorically from the liminal, intermediary functions of the god.

Gemini (Latin for “twins”) is the third astrological sign in the zodiac, originating from the constellation of Gemini. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this sign between May 21 and June 21.

The divine twins are a mytheme of Proto-Indo-European religion. One recurring element in the divine twin theme is that, while identical, one is divine and the other is human.

Gemini is dominated by Castor and Pollux, two bright stars that appear relatively very closely together forming an o shape, encouraging the mythological link between the constellation and twinship.

Gemini is represented by the twins Castor and Pollux, known as the Dioscuri, who were granted shared half-immortality after the death of the mortal brother, Castor. Pollux was the son of Zeus, who seduced Leda, while Castor was the son of Tyndareus, king of Sparta and Leda’s husband.

Castor and Pollux were also mythologically associated with St. Elmo’s fire in their role as the protectors of sailors. When Castor died, because he was mortal, Pollux begged his father Zeus to give Castor immortality, and he did, by uniting them together in the heavens.

The twin above and to the right (as seen from the Northern Hemisphere) is Castor, whose brightest star is α Gem; it is a second-magnitude star and represents Castor’s head. The twin below and to the left is Pollux, whose brightest star is β Gem (more commonly called Pollux); it is of the first magnitude and represents Pollux’s head.

Furthermore, the other stars can be visualized as two parallel lines descending from the two main stars, making it look like two figures. H. A. Rey has suggested an alternative to the traditional visualization that connected the stars of Gemini to show twins holding hands.

In Greek mythology, the symbol of the twins is based on the Dioscuri, one mortal (Castor) and one immortal (Polydeuces; also known as Pollux) that were granted shared half-immortality after the death of the mortal brother.

Castor and Polydeuces, collectively known as the Dioscuri, was the children of Leda, an Aetolian princess who became a Spartan queen. Her myth gave rise to the popular motif in Renaissance and later art of Leda and the Swan.

Leda was the daughter of the Aetolian king Thestius, and wife of king Tyndareus of Sparta. She was the mother of Helen of Troy, Clytemnestra, and Castor and Pollux, also spelled “Kastor and Polydeuces”). Leda also had other daughters by Tyndareus: Timandra, Phoebe, and Philonoe.

Leda was admired by Zeus. As a swan, Zeus fell into her arms for protection from a pursuing eagle. Their consummation, on the same night as Leda lay with her husband Tyndareus, resulted in two eggs from which hatched Helen (later known as the beautiful “Helen of Troy”), Clytemnestra, and Castor and Pollux (also known as the Dioscuri).

Which children are the progeny of Tyndareus the mortal king, and which are of Zeus and thus half-immortal, is not consistent among accounts, nor is which child hatched from which egg. The split is almost always half mortal, half divine, although the pairings do not always reflect the children’s heritage pairings.

Pollux was the son of Zeus, who seduced Leda, while Castor was the son of Tyndareus, king of Sparta and Leda’s husband. Castor and Pollux are sometimes both mortal, sometimes both divine. One consistent point is that if only one of them is immortal, it is Pollux. It is also always stated that Helen is the daughter of Zeus.

Another account of the myth states that Nemesis was the mother of Helen, and was also impregnated by Zeus in the guise of a swan. A shepherd found the egg and gave it to Leda, who carefully kept it in a chest until the egg hatched. When the egg hatched, Leda adopted Helen as her daughter. Zeus also commemorated the birth of Helen by creating the constellation Cygnus, the Swan, in the sky.

Castor and Pollux were also mythologically associated with St. Elmo’s fire in their role as the protectors of sailors. When Castor died, because he was mortal, Pollux begged his father Zeus to give Castor immortality, and he did, by uniting them together in the heavens.

In Babylonian astronomy, the stars Castor and Pollux were known as the Great Twins (MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL). 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

Nergal is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna (the moon) and Ninurta. Enmesarra, or Enmešarra, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld god of the law. Described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore he has been equated with Nergal. On the other hand, he has been described as an ancestor of Enlil, and it has been claimed that Enlil slew him.

Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king,” the “furious one,” and the like. A play upon his name – separated into three elements as Ne-uru-gal (light of the great Ûru; lord of the great dwelling) – expresses his position at the head of the nether-world pantheon. He has also been called “the king of sunset”.

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”. The name Meslamtaeda/Meslamtaea indeed is found as early as the list of gods from Fara while the name Nergal only begins to appear in the Akkadian period.

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.

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. Nergal was also the deity who presides over the netherworld. In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person. In some texts the god Ninazu, the father of Ningiszida, is the son of Nergal and Allatu/Ereshkigal.

Hymns and votive and other inscriptions of Babylonian and Assyrian rulers frequently invoke him, but we do not learn of many temples to him outside of Cuthah. Local associations with his original seat—Kutha—and the conception formed of him as a god of the dead acted in making him feared rather than actively worshipped.

The Assyrian king Sennacherib speaks of one at Tarbisu to the north of the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, but significantly, although Nebuchadnezzar II (606–586 BC), the great temple-builder of the neo-Babylonian monarchy, alludes to his operations at Meslam in Cuthah, he makes no mention of a sanctuary to Nergal in Babylon.

A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninurta and Nergal. 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.

Nergal – Meslamtaea

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.

A lamassu (Cuneiform: an.kal) is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human head, the body of a bull or a lion, and bird wings. In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity.

A less frequently used name is shedu (Cuneiform: an.kal×bad‬), which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu. Lammasu represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations.

Laḫmu (also called Lakhmu, Lache, Lumasi or Assyro-Akkadian Lammasu) and his sister Laḫamu is deities from Mesopotamian mythology that represents the zodiac, parent stars, or constellations.

They are protective and beneficent deities, the first-born children of Abzu and Tiamat. They are the parents of Anshar and Kishar, the sky father and earth mother, who birthed the gods of the Mesopotamian Pantheon.

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”.

Gemini is the third astrological sign in the zodiac, originating from the constellation of Gemini. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this sign between about May 21 and June 21. 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 (MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL).

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 – Apollo

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.

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.

Nergal – Mars

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.

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury. Mars can easily be seen from Earth with the naked eye, as can its reddish coloring. Its apparent magnitude reaches −2.94, which is surpassed only by Jupiter, Venus, the Moon, and the Sun.

In English, Mars carries a name of the Roman god of war, and is often referred to as the “Red Planet” because the reddish iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance that is distinctive among the astronomical bodies visible to the naked eye.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars (Latin: Mārs, [maːrs]) was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming.

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 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.” A source from late antiquity says that Mars and Neriene were celebrated together at a festival held on March 23.

The spear of Mars

The spear is the instrument of Mars in the same way that Jupiter wields the lightning bolt, Neptune the trident, and Saturn the scythe or sickle. A relic or fetish called the spear of Mars was kept in a sacrarium at the Regia, the former residence of the Kings of Rome.

The spear was said to move, tremble or vibrate at impending war or other danger to the state, as was reported to occur before the assassination of Julius Caesar. When Mars is pictured as a peace-bringer, his spear is wreathed with laurel or other vegetation, as on the Ara Pacis or a coin of Aemilianus.

The Mars symbol is a depiction of a circle with an arrow emerging from it, pointing at an angle to the upper right. As astrological symbol it represents the planet Mars and hence iron in alchemy.

In zoology and botany, it is used to represent the male sex (alongside the astrological symbol for Venus representing the female sex), following a convention introduced by Linnaeus in the 1750s.

Mars – Tyr

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

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

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

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

Mannus, according to the Roman writer Tacitus, was a figure in the creation myths of the Germanic tribes. The names Mannus and Tuisto/Tuisco seem to have some relation to Proto-Germanic Mannaz, “man” and Tiwaz, “Tyr, the god”.

Týr is the namesake of the Tiwaz rune, 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.

Letter T

Tau (uppercase Τ, lowercase τ; Greek: ταυ [taf]) is the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 300. Taw, tav, or taf is the twenty-second and last letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Tāw X.

In ancient times, tau was used as a symbol for life or resurrection, whereas the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet, theta, was considered the symbol of death. In Biblical times, the taw was put on men to distinguish those who lamented sin, although newer versions of the Bible have replaced the ancient term taw with mark (Ezekiel 9:4) or signature (Job 31:35).

The symbolism of the cross was connected not only to the letter chi but also to tau, the equivalent of the last letter in the Phoenician and Old Hebrew alphabets, and which was originally cruciform in shape.

The tau cross is a T-shaped cross all three ends of which are sometimes expanded. It is so called because shaped like the Greek letter tau, which in its upper-case form has the same appearance as Latin and English T.

An essay written around 160 AD, attributed to Lucian, a mock legal prosecution called The Consonants at Law – Sigma vs. Tau, in the Court of the Seven Vowels, contains a reference to the cross attribution. Sigma petitions the court to sentence Tau to death by crucifixion, saying:

“Men weep, and bewail their lot, and curse Cadmus with many curses for introducing Tau into the family of letters; they say it was his body that tyrants took for a model, his shape that they imitated, when they set up structures on which men are crucified.

Stauros (cross) the vile engine is called, and it derives its vile name from him. Now, with all these crimes upon him, does he not deserve death, nay, many deaths? For my part I know none bad enough but that supplied by his own shape — that shape which he gave to the gibbet named stauros after him by men”.

Cuthah

Nergal, Nirgal, or Nirgali (Sumerian: dGÌR-UNUG-GAL) is a deity that was worshipped throughout ancient Mesopotamia with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah (Sumerian: Gudua) with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. Other names for him are Erra and Irra.

According to the Tanakh, Cuthah was one of the five Syrian and Mesopotamian cities from which Sargon II, King of Assyria, brought settlers to take the places of the exiled Israelites (2 Kings 17:24-30).

II Kings relates that these settlers were attacked by lions, and interpreting this to mean that their worship was not acceptable to the deity of the land, they asked Sargon to send someone to teach them, which he did.

The result was a mixture of religions and peoples, the latter being known as “Cuthim” in Hebrew and as “Samaritans” to the Greeks. Kutha is also the name of the capital of the Sumerian underworld, Irkalla.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (DEREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Kur, the land of the dead or underworld in Sumerian mythology. 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 Sumerian myths, Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. The main temple dedicated to her was located in Kutha.

A Gallus (pl. Galli) was a eunuch priest of the Phrygian goddess Cybele and her consort Attis, whose worship was incorporated into the state religious practices of ancient Rome. A connection has been made between the episode of the castration of Attis and the ritual mutilation of the Galli.

The first Galli arrived in Rome when the Senate officially adopted Cybele as a state goddess in 204 BC. Roman citizens were prohibited from becoming Galli, which meant that all the Galli were orientals or slaves. However, under Claudius, this ban was lifted.

In Rome, the head of the galli was known as the archigallus, at least from the period of Claudius on. A number of archaeological finds depict the archigallus wearing luxurious and extravagant costumes.

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

The Galli castrated themselves during an ecstatic celebration called the Dies sanguinis, or “Day of Blood”, which took place on March 24. At the same time they put on women’s costume, mostly yellow in colour, and a sort of turban, together with pendants and ear-rings.

They also wore their hair long, and bleached, and wore heavy make-up. They wandered around with followers, begging for charity, in return for which they were prepared to tell fortunes. On the day of mourning for Attis they ran around wildly and disheveled. They performed dances to the music of pipes and tambourines, and, in an ecstasy, flogged themselves until they bled.

In the 4th century, some currents of extreme asceticism in Christianity advocated self-castration. This practice was attacked as a return to the religious excesses of the galli by Basil of Ancyra. John Chrysostom in 390 attacked self-castrating Christians of being Manichaean heretics. Augustine likewise phrased his opposition to self-castration as an attack on the galli. By extension, Luther would later use the same comparison in his attack on clerical celibacy.

Stephanus Byzantinus said that the name came from King Gallus. Ovid (43 BC – 17 AD) says that the name is derived from the Gallus river in Phrygia. The name may be linked to the Gauls (Celtic tribes) of Galatia in Anatolia, who were known as Galli by the Romans. The word “Gallus” is also the Latin word for rooster.

While these efforts at “folk” etymologies were widespread in classical times, it has been suggested that gallu comes from the Sumerian Gal meaning “great” and Lu meaning “man”, humans or sexually ambivalent demons that freed Inanna from the underworld. They originally seem to have been consecrated to the god Enki.

There was a category of Mesopotamian priests called kalu; in Sumerian gala. These priests played the tympanum and were involved in bull sacrifice. The Gala (Akkadian: kalû) were priests of the Sumerian goddess Inanna, significant numbers of the personnel of both temples and palaces, the central institutions of Mesopotamian city states, individuals with neither male nor female gender identities.

Originally a specialist in singing lamentations, gala appear in temple records dating back from the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. According to an old Babylonian text, Enki created the gala specifically to sing “heart-soothing laments” for the goddess Inanna. Cuniform references indicate the gendered character of the role.

Lamentation and wailing originally may have been female professions, so that men who entered the role adopted its forms. Their hymns were sung in a Sumerian dialect known as eme-sal, normally used to render the speech of female gods, and some gala took female names.

Two varieties (dialects or sociolects) of Sumerian are recorded. The standard variety is called eme-ĝir. The other recorded variety is called eme-sal (EME.SAL, possibly “fine tongue” or “high-pitched voice”), though often translated as “women’s language”. The root sal can have several meanings. Eme-sal is used exclusively by female characters in some literary texts.

In addition, it is dominant in certain genres of cult songs. The special features of eme-sal are mostly phonological (e.g. m is often used instead of ĝ as in me vs standard ĝe26, “I”), but words different from the standard language are also used (e.g. ga-ša-an vs standard nin, “lady”).

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

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

Mesopotamian priests called assinnu, galatur, and kurgarru had a sacred function. These transgender or eunuch priests participated in liturgical rites, during which they were costumed and masked. They played music, sang, and danced, most often in ceremonies dedicated to the goddess Ishtar.

Fundamental to understanding the meaning and the function of the myth and ritual related to Attis in Rome is his relationship with the Galli. The role of prototype of the mythical castration of Attis for the institution of the “priesthood” of the Galli has almost always been emphasised, even if to different degrees.

In Sumerian and Akkadian (Babylonian and Assyrian) mythology, the Gallus (also called gallu demons or gallas [Akkadian: gallû]) were great demons/devils of the underworld. Gallu demons hauled unfortunate victims off to the underworld. They were one of seven devils (or “the offspring of hell”) of Babylonian theology that could be appeased by the sacrifice of a lamb at their altars.

Inanna (or Ishtar) was freed by gallu demons sent by Enki while she was on a journey to the underworld. An especially fierce gallu demon, the monstrous Asag, was slain by Ninurta using the enchanted mace Sharur.

Tuisto (Twin / Twice / To – Twist)

According to Tacitus’s Germania (AD 98), Tuisto (or Tuisco) is the divine ancestor of the Germanic peoples. The figure remains the subject of some scholarly discussion, largely focused upon etymological connections and comparisons to figures in later (particularly Norse) Germanic mythology.

The Germania manuscript corpus contains two primary variant readings of the name. The most frequently occurring, Tuisto, is commonly connected to the Proto-Germanic root *twai – “two” and its derivative *twis – “twice” or “doubled”, thus giving Tuisto the core meaning “double”.

Any assumption of a gender inference is entirely conjectural, as the tvia/tvis roots are also the roots of any number of other concepts/words in the Germanic languages. Take for instance the Germanic “twist”, which, in all but the English has the primary meaning of “dispute/conflict”.

The second variant of the name, occurring originally in manuscript E, reads Tuisco. One proposed etymology for this variant reconstructs a Proto-Germanic *tiwisko and connects this with Proto-Germanic *Tiwaz, giving the meaning “son of Tiu”. This interpretation would thus make Tuisco the son of the sky-god (Proto-Indo-European *Dyeus) and the earth-goddess.

Connections have been proposed between the 1st century figure of Tuisto and the hermaphroditic primeval being Ymir in later Norse mythology, attested in 13th century sources, based upon etymological and functional similarity. Meyer (1907) sees the connection as so strong, that he considers the two to be identical.

Lindow (2001), while mindful of the possible semantic connection between Tuisto and Ymir, notes an essential functional difference: while Ymir is portrayed as an “essentially… negative figure” – Tuisto is described as being “celebrated” (celebrant) by the early Germanic peoples in song, with Tacitus reporting nothing negative about Tuisto.

Tacitus relates that “ancient songs” of the Germanic peoples celebrated Tuisto as “a god, born of the earth”. These songs further attributed to him a son, Mannus, who in turn had three sons, the offspring of whom were referred to as Ingaevones, Herminones and Istaevones, living near the Ocean, in the interior, and the remaining parts of the geographical region of Germania, respectively. The names Mannus and Tuisto/Tuisco seem to have some relation to Proto-Germanic Mannaz, “man” and Tiwaz, “Tyr, the god”.

Connections have been proposed between the 1st century figure of Tuisto and the hermaphroditic primeval being Ymir in later Norse mythology, attested in 13th century sources, based upon etymological and functional similarity.

However, there is an essential functional difference: while Ymir is portrayed as an “essentially… negative figure” – Tuisto is described as being “celebrated” (celebrant) by the early Germanic peoples in song, with Tacitus reporting nothing negative about Tuisto.

There seems to be a genealogical relationship between Tuisto and Ymir based on etymology and a comparison with (post-)Vedic Indian mythology: as Tvastr, through his daughter Saranyū and her husband Vivaswān, is said to have been the grandfather of the twins Yama and Yami.

The Germanic Tuisto (assuming a connection with Tvastr) must originally have been the grandfather of Ymir (cognate to Yama). Incidentally, Indian mythology also places Manu (cognate to Germanic Mannus), the Vedic progenitor of mankind, as a son of Vivaswān, thus making him the brother of Yama/Ymir.

Dyeus

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

Dīs Pater was a Roman god of the underworld. Dis was originally associated with fertile agricultural land and mineral wealth, and since those minerals came from underground, he was later equated with the chthonic deities Pluto (Hades) and Orcus.

The name Ploutōn came into widespread usage with the Eleusinian Mysteries, in which Pluto was venerated as a stern ruler but the loving husband of Persephone. The couple received souls in the afterlife, and are invoked together in religious inscriptions. Hades, by contrast, had few temples and religious practices associated with him, and he is portrayed as the dark and violent abductor of Persephone.

In De Natura Deorum, Cicero derives the name of Dīs Pater from the Latin dives (“wealth, riches”), suggesting a meaning of “father of riches” (Pater is “father” in Latin), directly corresponding to the name Pluto, Pluto simply being how Plouton (“the rich one”) in Greek is spelled is Latin. Alternatively, he may be a secondary reflex of the same god as Jupiter (Proto-Indo-European Dyeus Ph₂ter or “Zeus-Pater”).

Tyr

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

Due to the etymology of the god’s name and the shadowy presence of the god in the extant Germanic corpus, 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, 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 interpret other gods as forms of their own, generally renders the god as Mars, the ancient Roman war god, and it is through that lens that most Latin references to the god occur.

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

In Norse mythology, from which most 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).

The Old Norse theonym Týr has cognates including Old English tíw and tíʒ, and Old High German Ziu. A cognate form appears in Gothic to represent the T rune. Like Latin Jupiter and Greek Zeus, Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz ultimately stems from the Proto-Indo-European theonym *Dyeus. Outside of its application as a theonym, the Old Norse common noun týr means ‘(a) god’ (plural tívar). In turn, the theonym Týr may be understood to mean “the god”.

Dingir / 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.

Dingir (𒀭, 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.

Adapa was a Mesopotamian mythical figure who unknowingly refused the gift of immortality. The story, commonly known as “Adapa and the South Wind”, is known from fragmentary tablets from Tell el-Amarna in Egypt (around 14th century BC) and from finds from the Library of Ashurbanipal, Assyria (around 7th century BC).

Adapa was an important figure in Mesopotamian religion. His name would be used to invoke power in exorcism rituals. He also became an archetype for a wise ruler. In that context, his name would be invoked to evoke favorable comparisons. Some scholars conflate Adapa and the Apkallu known as Uanna. There is some evidence for that connection, but the name “adapa” may have also been used as an epithet, meaning “wise”.

Adapa was a mortal man, a sage or priest of temple of Enki in the city of Eridu. He had been given the gift of great wisdom by the god Enki, but not eternal life. While carrying out his duties, he was fishing the Persian Gulf. The sea became rough by the strong wind, and his boat was capsized. Angry, Adapa “broke the wings of the south wind” preventing it from blowing for seven days.

The god Anu called Adapa to account for his action, but the god Ea aided him by instructing Adapa to gain the sympathy of Tammuz and Gishzida[b], who guard the gates of heaven and not to eat or drink there, as such food might kill him. When offered garments and oil, he should put on the clothes on and anoint himself.

Adapa puts on mourning garments, and when he meets Tammuz and Gishzida, he claims to be in mourning because they have disappeared from the land. Adapa is then offered the “food of life” and “water of life” but will not eat or drink. Then garments and oil are offered, and he does what he had been told. He is brought before Anu, who asks why he will not eat or drink. Adapa replies that Enki told him not to.

Anu laughs at Enki’s actions, and passes judgment on Adapa by asking rhetorically, “What ill has he [Adapa] brought on mankind?” He adds that men will suffer disease as a consequence, which Ninkarrak (Nintinugga), a Babylonian goddess of healing, the consort of Ninurta, may ally. Adapa is then sent back down to earth.

Yama

Yama or Yamarāja, called Yima in the Zend-Avesta of Zoroastrianism, is Hinduism one of the lokapala (“Guardian of the Directions”) and represents the south cardinal direction. Yama’s name can be interpreted to mean “twin”, and in some myths he is paired with a twin sister Yami.

Yama is a god of death and the underworld, belonging to an early stratum of Rigvedic Hindu deities. In Buddhism, Yama is a dharmapala, a wrathful god or the Enlightened Protector of Buddhism that is considered worldly, said to judge the dead and preside over the Narakas (“Hell” or “Purgatory”) and the cycle of rebirth.

In Puranas, Yama is described as having four arms, complexion of storm cloud with wrathful expression, surrounded by garland of flames, protruding fangs, dressed in red, yellow or blue garments, holding noose and mace or sword, and riding a water-buffalo.

He wields a noose with which he seizes the lives of people who are about to die. In Hinduism, Yama is the lord of death. In the Rigveda, he is mentioned as the one who helped humankind find a place to dwell, and gave every individual the power to tread any path to which he or she wants.

Yama is associated with various roles in Hinduism that are not always consistent throughout the stories. Sometimes, he is the lord of justice and is associated with Dharma, such as in the Brahma Purana; in other Puranas, Yama has no association with Dharma at all.

According to the Vishnu Purana, Yama is the son of sun-god Surya and Sandhya, the daughter of Vishvakarma. He also has the brother Shraddhadeva Manu, the current Manu and the progenitor of the current humanity (manvantara). Shraddhadeva is the son of Vivasvana, also known as Surya, a Sanskrit word that means the Sun, and is therefore also known as Vaivasvata Manu. He is also called Satyavrata (always truthful).

Shraddhadeva was the king of the Dravida Kingdom during the epoch of the Matsya Purana before the Pralaya (after Rama), the great flood. Forewarned about the flood by the matsya avatara of Vishnu, he saved humanity by building a boat that carried his family and the saptarishi to safety. The narrative is similar to other flood myths like the Gilgamesh flood myth and the Genesis flood narrative.

Yama is also the step brother of Shani, refering to the planet Saturn, one of the nine heavenly objects known as Navagraha in Hindu astrology. Shani is also a male deity in the Puranas, whose iconography consists of a handsome figure carrying a sword or danda (sceptre), and sitting on a crow. He is a god of Justice in hindu mythology and he give the benefits for all depends upon there deeds (karma).

The consort of Shani is goddess Manda, also known as Dhamini. The second consort of Shani and mother of Gulikan. She is a Gandharva daughter and princess. She is the goddess of Kalā, meaning performing art in Sanskrit. Her Nrtya/Dance can attract anyone in the whole Brahman (Universe).

Dharma

In Vedic tradition, Yama was considered to be the first mortal who died and espied the way to the celestial abodes; thus, as a result, he became the ruler of the departed, and is called “Lord of the Pitrs”. He is otherwise also called as “Dharmaraja”.

In different texts, Yama can be referred to as the god of justice, as the deity Dharma, or a completely different figure altogether. In Hindu Puranic scriptures, those who assist him in his work are Kala (time), Jara (old age), Vyadhi (disease), Krodha (anger) and Asuya (jealousy).

Dharma is a key concept with multiple meanings in Indian religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and others. There is no single-word translation for dharma in Western languages. The antonym of dharma is adharma (“that which is not in accord with the Dharma”). Connotations of adharma include unnaturalness, wrongness, evil, immorality, wickedness, and vice.

Adharma is derived from combining “a” with “dharma”, which literally implies “not-dharma”. It means immoral, sinful, wrong, wicked, unjust, unbalanced, or unnatural, chaos, disorder and non-harmonious.

However, adharma isn’t the binary opposite of Dharma or absolutely unethical in Indian philosophy. Rather it is a complex functional subjective term just like dharma, with shades of meaning, that depends on circumstances, purpose and context.

In Hinduism, dharma signifies behaviours that are considered to be in accord with Ṛta, the order that makes life and universe possible, and includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and “right way of living”. In Buddhism, dharma means “cosmic law and order”, and is also applied to the teachings of the Buddha.

In Buddhist philosophy, dhamma/dharma is also the term for “phenomena”. Dharma in Jainism refers to the teachings of tirthankara (Jina) and the body of doctrine pertaining to the purification and moral transformation of human beings. For Sikhs, the word dharm means the path of righteousness and proper religious practice.

Kalaratri

Wife of Yama was the goddess Dhumorna, also known as Kalaratri, and his son was Katila. Kalaratri (sometimes spelled Kaalratri), the seventh of the nine forms of the Goddess Durga, known as the Navadurga. Kalaratri is widely regarded as one of the many destructive forms of the Mother Goddess, which include Kali, Mahakali, Bhadrakali, Bhairavi, Mrityu, Rudrani, Chamunda, Chandi and Durga.

It is not uncommon to find the names, Kali and Kalaratri being used interchangeably, although these two deities are argued to be separate entities by some. Kali is first mentioned in Hinduism as a distinct goddess around 3000 BC. Chronologically then, Kaalratri (described textually in the Mahabharata, dated 3137 BC – 3067 BC) predates but most likely, informs, present representations of Kali.

Kaalratri is traditionally worshipped during the nine nights of Navratri celebrations. The seventh day of Navratri pooja (Hindu prayer ritual) in particular is dedicated to her and she is considered the fiercest form of the Mother Goddess, her appearance itself invoking fear. This form of Goddess is believed to be the destroyer of all demon entities, ghosts, spirits and negative energies, who flee upon knowing of her arrival.

The Saudhikagama, an ancient Tantric text referenced in the Silpa Prakasha, describes Goddess Kalaratri as being the goddess that rules the night portion of every day and night. She is also associated with the crown chakra (also known as the sahasrara chakra), thereby giving the invoker, siddhis and niddhis (particularly, knowledge, power and wealth).

Kaalratri is also known as Shubankari, meaning auspicious/doing good in Sanskrit, due to the belief that she always provides auspicious results to her devotees. Hence, it is believed that she makes her devotees fearless.

Raudri

The Goddess Dhumorna/ Kaalatri was also known as Raudri, a name that share it’s etymology with Rudra, a Rigvedic deity, associated with wind or storm and the hunt. One translation of the name Rudra is “the roarer”. In the Rigveda, Rudra has been praised as the “mightiest of the mighty”. Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king”, the “furious one”, and the like.

Rudra is the personification of ‘terror’. Depending up on the poetic situation, Rudra can be meant as the most severe roarer/howler (could be a hurricane or tempest) or the most frightening one. The Shri Rudram hymn from the Yajurveda is dedicated to Rudra, and is important in the Saivism sect. In it Rudra is referred as God of Gods.

The Hindu god Shiva shares several features with the Rudra: the theonym Shiva originated as an epithet of Rudra, the adjective shiva (“kind”) being used euphemistically of Rudra, who also carries the epithet Aghora, Abhayankar (“extremely calm [sic] non terrifying”).

Usage of the epithet came to exceed the original theonym by the post-Vedic period (in the Sanskrit Epics), and the name Rudra has been taken as a synonym for the god Shiva and the two names are used interchangeably.

A Rigvedic verse rukh draavayathi, iti rudraha where rukh means “sorrow/misery”, draavayathi means “drive out/eliminate” and iti means “that which” (or “the one who”) implies that Rudra is the eliminator of evil and usherer of peace.

An alternative etymology suggested by Prof. Pischel derives Rudra as the “red one”, the “brilliant one” from a lost root rud-, “red” or “ruddy”, or alternatively (according to Grassman) “shining”.

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.

Stella Kramrisch notes a different etymology connected with the adjectival form raudra, which means “wild”, i.e. of rude (untamed) nature, and translates the name Rudra as “the wild one” or “the fierce god”.

R. K. Sharma follows this alternate etymology and translates the name as “the terrible” in his glossary for the Shiva Sahasranama. However, the adjective shivam in the sense of “propitious” or “kind” is applied to the name Rudra.

Rudra is called “the archer” (Sanskrit: Śarva) and the arrow is an essential attribute of Rudra. This name appears in the Shiva Sahasranama, and R. K. Sharma notes that it is used as a name of Shiva often in later languages.

The word is derived from the Sanskrit root śarv- which means “to injure” or “to kill” and Sharma uses that general sense in his interpretive translation of the name Śarva as “One who can kill the forces of darkness”.

The names Dhanvin (“bowman”) and Bāṇahasta (“archer”, literally “Armed with a hand-full of arrows”) also refer to archery. In other contexts the word rudra can simply mean “the number eleven”.

The word rudraksha (Sanskrit: rudrākşa = rudra and akşa “eye”), or “eye of Rudra”, is used as a name both for the berry of the Rudraksha tree, and a name for a string of the prayer beads made from those seeds.

Jamshid

Jamshid (Persian: Jamshīd; Middle- and New Persian: Jam; Avestan: Yima), is a mythological figure of Greater Iranian culture and tradition. In tradition and folklore, Jamshid is described as the fourth and greatest king of the epigraphically unattested Pishdadian Dynasty (before the Kayanian dynasty).

This role is already alluded to in Zoroastrian scripture, where the figure appears as Avestan language Yima(-Kshaeta) “(radiant) Yima,” and from which the name ‘Jamshid’ is derived.

The name Jamshid is originally a compound of two parts, Jam and shid, corresponding to the Avestan names Yima and Xšaēta, derived from the proto-Iranian *Yamah Xšaitah. Yamah and the related Sanskrit Yama are interpreted as “the twin,” perhaps reflecting an Indo-Iranian belief in a primordial Yama and Yami pair.

There are also a few functional parallels between Avestan Yima and Sanskrit Yama, for instance, Yima was the son of Vivaŋhat, who in turn corresponds to the Vedic Vivasvat, “he who shines out”, a divinity of the Sun. Both Yamas in Iranian and Indian myth guard Hell with the help of two four-eyed dogs.

Xšaitah meant “bright, shining” or “radiant” and is probably cognate with the Sanskrit word “Shrestha”. By regular sound changes (initial xš → š (sh); ai → ē; t → d between vowels; and dropping of the final syllable) xšaitah became Persian shēd or shid.

In the Western Iranian languages such as Persian, the vowel /ē/ is pronounced as /i/. Consequently, Jamshēd (as it is still pronounced in Tajikistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan) is now pronounced Jamshid in Iran. The suffix -shid is the same as that found in other names such as khorshid (“the Sun” from Avestan hvarə-xšaēta “radiant Sun”).

Sarama

In Hindu mythology, Sarama is a mythological being referred to as the female dog of the gods, or Deva-shuni “divine bitch” or “bitch of the gods”. Sarama is described as the mother of all dogs, in particular of the two four-eyed brindle dogs of the god Yama.

She first appears in one of Hinduism’s earliest texts, the Rig Veda, in which she helps the god-king Indra to recover divine cows stolen by the Panis, a class of demons. The epic Mahabharata, and some Puranas, also make brief reference to Sarama.

Early Rig-Vedic works do not depict Sarama as canine, but later Vedic mythologies and interpretations usually do. She is described as the mother of all dogs, in particular of the two four-eyed brindle dogs of the god Yama, and dogs are given the matronymic Sarameya (“offspring of Sarama”). One scripture further describes Sarama as the mother of all wild animals.

Potnia Theron

Potnia Theron (“The Mistress of the Animals”) is a term first used (once) by Homer and often used to describe female divinities associated with animals. The word Potnia, meaning mistress or lady, was a Mycenaean Greek word inherited by Classical Greek, with the same meaning, cognate to Sanskrit patnī.

Many depictions use a female version of the widespread ancient motif of the male Master of Animals, showing a central figure with a human form grasping two animals, one to each side. The oldest depiction has been discovered in Çatalhöyük. It is very widespread in the art of the Ancient Near East and Egypt.

Inara, in Hittite–Hurrian mythology, was the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe and daughter of the Storm-god Teshub/Tarhunt. She corresponds to the “potnia theron” of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis.

Artemis, in the ancient Greek religion and myth, is the goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, wild animals and chastity. Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the patron and protector of young girls, and was believed to bring disease upon women and relieve them of it. Artemis was worship as one of the primary goddesses of childbirth and midwifery along with Eileithyia.

The Greek god shown as “Master of Animals” is usually Apollo, the god of hunting. 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. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, wild animals and chastity in the ancient Greek religion and myth. Artemis is the Moon and Apollo is the Sun.

Shiva has the epithet Pashupati meaning the “Lord of cattle”, and these figures may derive from a Proto-Indo-European deity or archetype. It has been connected to the famous Pashupati seal from the Indus Valley Civilization (2500-1500 BC), showing a figure seated in a yoga-like posture, with a horned headress (or horns), and surrounded by animals.

According to Macrobius who cites Nigidius Figulus and Cicero, Janus and Jana (Diana) are a pair of divinities, worshipped as Apollo or the sun and moon, whence Janus received sacrifices before all the others, because through him is apparent the way of access to the desired deity.

Indra

Sarama is often associated with Indra, a Vedic deity in Hinduism, a guardian deity in Buddhism, and the king of the highest heaven called Saudharmakalpa in Jainism. In the Vedas, Indra is the king of Svarga (Heaven) and the Devas. He is the god of the heavens, lightning, thunder, storms, rains and river flows.

Indra is the most referred to deity in the Rigveda. He is celebrated for his powers, and the one who kills the great symbolic evil (malevolent type of Asura) named Vritra who obstructs human prosperity and happiness. Indra destroys Vritra and his “deceiving forces”, and thereby brings rains and the sunshine as the friend of mankind.

Indra rules over the much sought Devas realm of rebirth within the Samsara doctrine of Buddhist traditions. However, like the Hindu texts, Indra also is a subject of ridicule and reduced to a figurehead status in Buddhist texts, shown as a god that suffers rebirth and redeath. In the Jainism traditions, like Buddhism and Hinduism, Indra is the king of gods and a part of Jain rebirth cosmology.

In post-Vedic texts, Indra is depicted as an intoxicated hedonistic god, his importance declines, and he evolves into a minor deity in comparison to others in the Hindu pantheon, such as Shiva, Vishnu, or Devi. In Hindu texts, Indra is some times known as an aspect (avatar) of Shiva.

Indra is of ancient but unclear origin. Aspects of Indra as a deity are cognate to other Indo-European gods; they are either thunder gods such as Thor, Perun, and Zeus who share parts of his heroic mythologies, act as king of gods, and all are linked to “rain and thunder”.

The similarities between Indra of Hindu mythologies and of Thor of Nordic and Germanic mythologies are significant. Both Indra and Thor are storm gods, with powers over lightning and thunder, both carry hammer or equivalent, for both the weapon returns to their hand after they hurl it.

Both are associated with bulls in the earliest layer of respective texts, both use thunder as a battle-cry, both are heroic leaders, both protectors of mankind, both are described with legends about “milking the cloud-cows”, both are benevolent giants, gods of strength, of life, of marriage and the healing gods, both are worshipped in respective texts on mountains and in forests.

Michael Janda suggests that Indra has origins in the Indo-European *trigw-welumos [or rather *trigw-t-welumos] “smasher of the enclosure” (of Vritra, Vala) and diye-snūtyos “impeller of streams” (the liberated rivers, corresponding to Vedic apam ajas “agitator of the waters”). Brave and heroic Innara or Inra, which sounds like Indra, is mentioned among the gods of the Mitanni, a Hurrian-speaking people of Hittite region.

Indra as a deity had a presence in northeastern Asia minor, as evidenced by the inscriptions on the Boghaz-köi clay tablets dated to about 1400 BCE. This tablet mentions a treaty, but its significance is in four names it includes reverentially as Mi-it-ra, U-ru-w-na, In-da-ra and Na-sa-at-ti-ia.

These are respectively, Mitra, Varuna, Indra and Nasatya-Asvin of the Vedic pantheon as revered deities, and these are also found in Avestan pantheon but with Indra and Naonhaitya as demons. This at least suggests that Indra and his fellow deities were in vogue in South Asia and Asia minor by about mid 2nd-millennium BCE.

Indra is praised as the highest god of the Rigveda – a Hindu scripture dated to have been composed sometime between 1700 and 1100 BCE, thus making him one of the most celebrated Vedic deities. He is also mentioned in ancient Indo-Iranian literature, but with a major inconsistency when contrasted with the Vedas.

In the Vedic literature, Indra is a heroic god. In the Avestan (ancient, pre-Islamic Iranian) texts Indra – or accurately Andra – is a gigantic demon who opposes truth. In the Vedic texts, Indra kills the archenemy and demon Vritra who threatens mankind. In the Avestan texts, Vritra is not found.

Indra is called vrtrahan- (literally, “slayer of Vritra demon”) in the Vedas, which corresponds to Verethragna of the Zoroastrian noun verethragna-. According to David Anthony, the Old Indic religion probably emerged among Indo-European immigrants in the contact zone between the Zeravshan River (present-day Uzbekistan) and (present-day) Iran.

It was “a syncretic mixture of old Central Asian and new Indo-European elements”, which borrowed “distinctive religious beliefs and practices” from the Bactria–Margiana Culture. At least 383 non-Indo-European words were found in this culture, including the god Indra and the ritual drink Soma.

Verethragna is an Avestan language neuter noun literally meaning “smiting of resistance” Representing this concept is the divinity Verethragna, who is the hypostasis of “victory”, and “as a giver of victory Verethragna plainly enjoyed the greatest popularity of old”.

 

 

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