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The trumpets of war and prophecy: doomsday – The white horse and the saviour

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 22, 2018

Primitive trumpets of one form or another have been in existence for millennia; some of the predecessors of the modern instrument are now known to date back to the Neolithic era. The earliest of these primordial trumpets were adapted from animal horns and sea shells. For the most part, these primitive instruments were “natural trumpets”: that is to say, they had none of those devices (fingerholes, keys, slides or valves) by which the pitch of an instrument might be altered.

The simplest – and presumably the earliest – type of trumpet was made from the hollowed-out horn or shell of an animal, into the end of which a hole was bored for the mouth. Cattle, sheep, goats and antelopes are among the animals whose horns are – or have been – most frequently used to make such trumpets.

This “trumpet” had neither a mouthpiece nor a bell, and was not so much a musical instrument as a megaphone into which one spoke, sang, or shouted. The intention was to distort the voice and produce a harsh, unnatural sound to ward off evil spirits or disconcert one’s enemies. Only later was the trumpet used to invoke friendly gods or to encourage one’s own warriors on the battlefield.

In Norse mythology, Heimdallr is a god who is attested as possessing foreknowledge, keen eyesight and hearing, and keeps watch for the onset of Ragnarök while drinking fine mead in his dwelling Himinbjörg, located where the burning rainbow bridge Bifröst that reaches between Midgard (Earth) and Asgard, the realm of the gods, meets heaven.

According to the Prose Edda, the bridge ends in heaven at Himinbjörg, the residence of the god Heimdallr, who guards it from the jötnar. He possesses the resounding horn Gjallarhorn (“yelling horn” or “the loud sounding horn”), a horn associated with the god Heimdallr and the wise being Mímir.

During Ragnarök (“final destiny of the gods”), a series of future events, including a great battle, the enemies of the gods will gather at the plain Vígríðr. Heimdallr will stand and mightily blow into Gjallarhorn, the gods will awake and assemble together at the thing.

Ragnarök is foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of major figures (including the gods Odin, Thor, Týr, Freyr, Heimdallr, and Loki), the occurrence of various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water.

Thor kills Jörmungandr but is poisoned by the serpent, and manages to walk only nine steps before falling to the earth dead. Fenrir swallows Odin, though immediately afterward his son Víðarr kicks his foot into Fenrir’s lower jaw, grips the upper jaw, and rips apart Fenrir’s mouth, killing the great wolf. Loki fights Heimdallr and the two kill each another. Surtr covers the earth in fire, causing the entire world to burn.

The bridge’s destruction during Ragnarök by the forces of Muspell is foretold. Scholars have proposed that the bridge may have originally represented the Milky Way. Parallels between the bridge and another bridge in Norse mythology, Gjallarbrú (literally “Gjöll Bridge”), which spans the river Gjöll in the underworld and must be crossed in order to reach Hel, have been noted.

Afterward, the world will resurface anew and fertile, the surviving and returning gods will meet, and the world will be repopulated by two human survivors. This reminds of the scriptural story of Noah and his Ark that describes the end of the corrupted original civilization and its replacement with a remade world. Noah is assigned the task to build the Ark and save the lifeforms so as to reestablish a new post-flood world.

Numerous other societies, including the Babylonian, had produced apocalyptic literature and mythology which dealt with the end of the world and of human society. Many of which also included stories that refer back to the Biblical Noah or describe a similar flood.

The Epic of Gilgamesh, written ca. 2000–1500 BC, details a myth where the angry gods send floods to punish humanity, but the ancient hero Utnapishtim and his family are saved through the intervention of the god Ea. A similar story about the Genesis flood narrative is found in Sura 71 of the Quran, where the Islamic counterpart of Noah, Nūḥ, builds the ark and rebuilds humanity.

According to the Matsya Purana, the Matsya avatar of Lord Vishnu, informed the King Manu of an all-destructive deluge which would be coming very soon. The King was advised to build a huge boat (ark) which housed his family, nine types of seeds, pairs of all animals and the Saptarishis to repopulate the Earth, after the deluge would end and the oceans and seas would recede.

At the time of deluge, Vishnu appeared as a horned fish and Shesha appeared as a rope, with which Vaivasvata Manu fastened the boat to the horn of the fish. Variants of this story also appear in Buddhist and Jain scriptures.

Gimlé is a place where the worthy survivors of Ragnarök are foretold to live. Snorri presents Gimlé as a pagan heaven. Scholars including Hollander and Rudolf Simek have seen the description of Gimlé as influenced by the Christian Heavenly Jerusalem.

Ursula Dronke suggested that while the concept of a heaven in which “hosts” of the righteous lived together was based on the pagan Valhalla, the “Völuspá” poet or his associates invented the name “Gimlé” with reference to its protecting the blessed from the fires both of Surtr at Ragnarök and of the Christian Hell.

Gabriel’s horn (also called Torricelli’s trumpet) is a geometric figure which has infinite surface area but finite volume. The name refers to the biblical tradition identifying the Archangel Gabriel as the angel who blows the horn to announce Judgment Day, associating the divine, or infinite, with the finite.

The trope of Gabriel blowing a trumpet blast to indicate the Lord’s return to Earth is especially familiar in Negro spirituals. However, though the Bible mentions a trumpet blast preceding the resurrection of the dead, it never specifies Gabriel as the trumpeter.

Different passages state different things: the angels of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:31); the voice of the Son of God (John 5:25-29); God’s trumpet (I Thessalonians 4:16); seven angels sounding a series of blasts (Revelation 8-11); or simply “a trumpet will sound” (I Corinthians 15:52).

In Judaism, trumpets are prominent, and they seem to be blown by God himself, or sometimes Michael. In Zoroastrianism, there is no trumpeter at the last judgement. In Islamic tradition, it is Israfil who blows the trumpet, though he is not named in the Qur’an. The Christian Church Fathers do not mention Gabriel as the trumpeter; early English literature similarly does not.

In the Book of Revelation, Seven trumpets are sounded, one at a time, to cue apocalyptic events received in the Revelation of Christ Jesus, by John of Patmos, also called John the Revelator, John the Divine or John the Theologian, the suffixative descriptions given to the author named as John in the Book of Revelation, the apocalyptic text forming the final book of the New Testament.

An apocalypse (literally meaning “an uncovering”) is a disclosure of knowledge or revelation. Historically, the term has a heavy religious connotation as commonly seen in the prophetic revelations of eschatology a part of theology concerned with the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, and were obtained through dreams or spiritual visions. Also, it is the Greek word for the last book of the New Testament entitled “Revelation”.

In the Hebrew Old Testament some pictures of the end of the age were images of the judgment of the wicked and the glorification of those who were given righteousness before God. In the Book of Job and in some Psalms the dead are described as being in Sheol, awaiting the final judgment. The wicked will then be consigned to eternal suffering in the fires of Gehinnom, or the lake of fire mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

The seven trumpets are sounded by seven angels and the events that follow are described in detail from Revelation Chapters 8 to 11. According to Revelation 8:1-2, the angels sound these trumpets after the breaking of the seventh seal. These seals secured the apocalyptic document, that was in the right hand of Him who sits on the main throne.

The trumpets are referred to in Koine Greek as salpingos, salpinx (the word salpinx is thought to mean “thunderer”). This was a straight, narrow bronze tube with a mouthpiece of bone and a bell; they do not resemble modern trumpets. Before the invention of the brass trumpet, God had Moses make two silver Trumpets (Numbers 10:2), but the traditional sacred horn of the ancient Hebrews was the shofar made from a ram’s horn.

It has been used since Moses’ day (Exodus 19:13) to get the attention of the Israelites, signal, or to prelude an announcement and/or warning from God. Joshua had 7 priests carry 7 horns for 7 days and circle Jericho 7 times, then the priest sounded the horns, the people shouted and the walls came down. (Joshua 6:4). In St. Paul’s letter of I Thessalonians 4:16, “the trumpet of God” heralds the Second Coming of Christ.

The seven seals are one of a series of end-times judgments from God. The seals are described in Revelation 6:1–17 and 8:1–5. In John’s vision, the seven seals hold closed a scroll in heaven, and, as each seal is broken, a new judgment is unleashed on the earth. Following the seal judgments are the trumpet judgments and the bowl or vial judgments.

The Seven Seals is a phrase in the Book of Revelation that refers to seven symbolic seals (Greek: sphragida) that secure the book/scroll, that John of Patmos saw in his Revelation of Jesus Christ. The opening of the seals of the Apocalyptic document occurs in Revelation Chapters 5-8 and marks the Second Coming. In John’s vision, the only one worthy to open the book/scroll is referred to as both the “Lion of Judah” and the “Lamb having seven horns and seven eyes”.

The opening of the first four Seals release The Four Horsemen, each with his own specific mission. The opening of the fifth seal releases the cries of martyrs for the “word/Wrath of God”. The sixth seal prompts earthquakes and other cataclysmic events. The seventh seal cues seven angelic trumpeters who in turn cue the seven bowl judgments and more cataclysmic events.

The seventh seal obviously introduces the next series of judgments, for John immediately sees seven angels who are handed seven trumpets ready to sound (verse 2). An eighth angel takes a censer and burns “much incense” in it, representing the prayers of God’s people (verses 3–4). The angel then took the same censer, “filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake” (verse 5).

Once the seven seal judgments are finished, the next part of the tribulation, featuring the seven trumpet judgments, is ready to begin. The seven trumpets are described in Revelation 8:6–9:19 and 11:15–19. The seven trumpets are the “contents” of the seventh seal judgment, in that the seventh seal summons the angels who sound the trumpets (Revelation 8:1–5). The judgments heralded by the seven trumpets will take place during the tribulation period in the end times.

The angel declares that the mystery of God would be revealed on the sounding of the seventh trumpet. Immediately after the seventh trumpet (and the third woe) sounds there are loud voices in heaven saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). The twenty-four elders say, “The time has come for . . . destroying those who destroy the earth” (verse 17).

Obviously, God is about to wrap things up once and for all. At the sound of the seventh trumpet, the temple of God is opened in heaven, and “within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm” (verse 19).

Thus end the seven trumpet judgments. All is set for the seven angels with the seven bowls of God’s wrath. These angels stand inside the now-open temple, ready to step forward and bring the final judgments on earth (Revelation 15).

The seven bowl judgments are called forth by the seventh trumpet. The seven bowls (Greek: phialas, sing. phialē; also translated as cups or vials) are a set of plagues mentioned in Revelation 16. They are recorded as apocalyptic events that were seen in the vision of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, by John of Patmos. Seven angels are thus given seven bowls of God’s wrath, each consisting of judgements full of the wrath of God.

These seven bowls of God’s wrath are poured out on the wicked and the followers of the Antichrist after the sounding of the seven trumpets. When the seventh bowl is poured out, a global earthquake causes the cities of the world to collapse. All the mountains and islands are removed from their foundations. Giant hailstones weighing nearly 100 pounds plummet onto the planet. The plagues are so severe that the wicked’s hatred of God intensifies while the incorrigible continue to curse God.

The seven bowl or vial judgments are the final judgments of the tribulation period. They will be the most severe judgments the world has ever seen. The seven bowls are described in Revelation 16:1–21, where they are specifically called “the seven bowls of God’s wrath” (verse 1). Under the Antichrist, the wickedness of man has reached its peak, and it is met with God’s wrath against sin.

One of the angels of the seven bowl judgments then shows John the fate of Babylon the Great (Revelation 17), as God avenges “the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people, of all who have been slaughtered on the earth” (Revelation 18:24). The world mourns the fall of Babylon (chapter 18), but heaven rejoices (chapter 19). Jesus Christ then returns in glory to defeat the armies of the Antichrist at Armageddon (Revelation 19:11–21) and to set up His kingdom on earth (Revelation 20:1–6).

White horses

White horses have a special significance in the mythologies of cultures around the world. They are often associated with the sun chariot, with warrior-heroes, with fertility (in both mare and stallion manifestations), or with an end-of-time saviour, but other interpretations exist as well.

In more than one tradition, the white horse carries patron saints or the world saviour in the end times (as in Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam). In the New Testament, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse include one seated on a white horse and one on a pale horse – the “white” horse carried the rider Conquest (traditionally, Pestilence) while the “pale” horse carried the rider Death.

However, the Greek word chloros, translated as pale, is often interpreted as sickly green or ashen grey rather than white. Later in the Book of Revelation, Christ rides a white horse out of heaven at the head of the armies of heaven to judge and make war upon the earth.

Two Christian saints are associated with white steeds: Saint James, as patron saint of Spain, rides a white horse in his martial aspect. Saint George, the patron saint of horsemen among other things, also rides a white horse. In Ossetia, the deity Uastyrdzhi, who embodied both the warrior and sun motifs often associated with white horses, became identified with the figure of St. George after the region adopted Christianity.

Kanthaka (6th century BC, in Kapilvastu and Tilaurakot, Nepal) was a white horse that was a royal servant and favourite horse of Prince Siddhartha, who later became Gautama Buddha. Siddhartha used Kanthaka in all major events described in Buddhist texts prior to his renunciation of the world. Following the departure of Siddhartha, it was said that Kanthaka died of a broken heart.

In Norse mythology, Odin’s eight-legged horse Sleipnir, “the best horse among gods and men”, is described as grey. Sleipnir is also the ancestor of another grey horse, Grani, who is owned by the hero Sigurd. Sigurd (Old Norse: Sigurðr) or Siegfried (Middle High German: Sîvrit) is a legendary hero of Germanic mythology, who killed a dragon and was later murdered.

Kalki

In the divine Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, also known as the Trimurti, in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified as a triad of deities, Vishnu is commonly called the preserver and protector, while Shiva is called the destroyer of evil and the transformer. Brahma is seen as the creator.

However, contemporary Hindu eschatology is linked in the tradition to the figure of Kalki, also called Kalkin, the tenth and last avatar of Vishnu before the age draws to a close who will reincarnate as Shiva and simultaneously dissolve and regenerate the universe.

Avatara means “descent” and refers to a descent of the divine into the material realm of human existence. Kalki is an avatara of Vishnu. The Garuda Purana lists ten avatars, with Kalki being the tenth. He is described as the avatar who appears at the end of the Kali Yuga, one of the four periods in the endless cycle of existence (krita).

He ends the darkest, degenerating and chaotic stage of the Kali Yuga (period) to remove adharma and ushers in the Satya Yuga, while riding a white horse with a fiery sword. He restarts a new cycle of time. He is described as a Brahmin warrior in the Puranas.

The name Kalki is derived based Kali, which means “present age” (kali yuga). The literal meaning of Kalki is “dirty, sinful”, which Brockington states does not make sense in the avatara context. This has led scholars to suggest that the original term may have been karki (white, from the horse) which morphed into Kalki.

This proposal is supported by two versions of Mahabharata manuscripts that have been found, where the Sanskrit verses name the avatar to be “karki”, rather than “kalki”. Vishnu appears here to take on the form of the destroyer as well as Kalki is about letting go with faith in renewal.

Kalki is described as the avatar who rejuvenates existence by ending the darkest and most destructive period to remove adharma, that which is not in accord with the Dharma’, and ushering in the Satya Yuga, while riding a white horse with a fiery sword.

Kalki is going to end the Kali Yuga, one of the four periods in the endless cycle of existence (krita). Kali Yuga (lit. “age of Kali”) is the last of the four stages (or ages or yugas) the world goes through as part of a ‘cycle of yugas’ (i.e. Mahayuga) described in the Sanskrit scriptures. The other ages are called Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, and Dvapara Yuga. At the end of the cycle Kalki is said to take birth and reestablish righteousness, thus beginning a new Satya Yuga.

Most Hindus believe that the current period is the Kali Yuga, the last of four Yuga that make up the current age. Each period has seen successive degeneration in the moral order, to the point that in the Kali Yuga quarrel and hypocrisy are the norm. In Hinduism, time is cyclic, consisting of cycles or “kalpas”.

Each kalpa lasts 4.1 – 8.2 billion years, which is one full day and night for Brahma, who in turn will live for 311 trillion, 40 billion years. The cycle of birth, growth, decay, and renewal at the individual level finds its echo in the cosmic order, yet is affected by vagaries of divine intervention. Some hold the view that Shiva is incessantly destroying and creating the world.

Kali Yuga is associated with the demon Kali (not to be confused with the goddess Kālī), the archenemy of Kalki. The “Kali” of Kali Yuga comes from the root kad, which mean “suffer, hurt, startle, confuse, strife, discord, quarrel or contention”. He is portrayed as a demon and the source of all evil.

According to Puranic sources, Krishna’s departure marks the end of Dvapara Yuga and the start of Kali Yuga, which is dated to 17/18 February 3102 BCE. Hindus believe that human civilization degenerates spiritually during the Kali Yuga, which is referred to as the Dark Age because in it people are as far away as possible from God.

Hinduism often symbolically represents morality (dharma) as an Indian bull. In Satya Yuga, the first stage of development, the bull has four legs, but in each age morality is reduced by one quarter. By the age of Kali, morality is reduced to only a quarter of that of the golden age, so that the bull of Dharma has only one leg.

The Satya Yuga, also called Satyug, or Kṛta Yuga in Hinduism, is the first of the four Yugas, the “Yuga (Age or Era) of Truth”, when humanity is governed by gods, and every manifestation or work is close to the purest ideal and humanity will allow intrinsic goodness to rule supreme. It is sometimes referred to as the “Golden Age”.

The Satya Yuga lasts 1,728,000 years. The goddess Dharma (depicted in the form of cow), which symbolises morality, stood on all four legs during this period. Later on in the Treta Yuga, it would become three, followed by two in the Dvapara Yuga. Currently, in the immoral age of Kali, it stands on one leg.

Adharma is the Sanskrit antonym of Dharma, and include unnaturalness, wrongness, evil, immorality, wickedness, and  practice, behaviour, and habit generally considered immoral, sinful, criminal, rude, taboo, depraved, or degrading. Dharma is a key concept which 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”.

The description and details of Kalki are inconsistent. He is, for example, only an invisible force destroying evil and chaos in some texts, while an actual person who kills those who persecute others, and portrayed as someone leading an army of Brahmin warriors in others.

His mythology has been compared to the concepts of Messiah, Maitreya, Apocalypse, and Frashokereti, the Avestan-language term for the Zoroastrian doctrine of a final renovation of the universe, when evil will be destroyed, and everything else will be then in perfect unity with God (Ahura Mazda), in other religions.

Kalki is also found in Buddhist texts. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Kalachakra-Tantra describes 25 rulers, each named Kalki who rule from the heavenly Shambhala. The last Kalki of Shambhala will become the king, a “Turner of the Wheel”, and one who triumphs. He will eliminate all barbarians and robbers, end adharma, restart dharma, and save the good people.

He appears at the end of Kali Yuga to restore the order of the world. He destroys a barbarian Muslim army, after which Buddhism flourishes. After that, humanity will be transformed and will prevail on earth, and the golden age will begin. This text is dated to about 10th-century CE.

In the Kanchipuram temple, two relief Puranic panels depict Kalki, one relating to lunar (daughter-based) dynasty and another to solar (son-based) dynasty. In these panels the story depicted is in terms of Kalki fighting and defeating asura Kali. He rides a white horse called Devadatta, end the age of degeneration and to restore virtue and world order. He ends evil, purifies everyone’s minds and consciousness, and heralds the start of Krita Yuga.

He starts appearing in Hindu scriptures at the time when India was overrun by a whole host of foreign marauders from Central Asia. These were brutal and barbaric tribes such as the Huns and later the Mongols. The story was a clear response to their brutality.

This myth may have developed in the Hindu texts both as a reaction to the invasions of the Indian subcontinent by various armies over the centuries from its northwest, and the mythologies these invaders brought with them.

The Kalki concept was likely borrowed in some measure from similar Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian and other religions. There is no mention of Kalki in the Vedic literature. The epithet “Kalmallkinam”, meaning “brilliant remover of darkness”, is found in the Vedic literature for Rudra (later Shiva), which has been interpreted to be “forerunner of Kalki”. Kalki appears for the first time in the great war epic Mahabharata.

These new invaders were destroying the old way of life and it was hoped that Vishnu, as Kalki, would destroy the new ways, and restore life to the old ways. Kalki was probably inspired by messianic thoughts that are prevalent in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He was the deliverer and the saviour.

Across India, there are many folk heroes who ride a horse and brandish a sword much like Kalki. He is thus almost a guardian god in folk imagination. But in the scriptures, he is the one who will close the Kalpa, the world-cycle, so that a new one can begin.

According to Buddhists a Bodhisattva of the future, Manjushri, yields a flaming sword. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this wrathful manifestation Manjushri is called Yamantaka, an epithet associated with Shiva in Hindu tradition and means the destroyer of death. Thus, metaphysically, Kalki will destroy everything, even death.

He will destroy all structures so that none exist. In other words, he will herald Pralaya, meaning ‘dissolution’ or by extension ‘reabsorption, destruction, annihilation or death’, an aeonic term for Dissolution, which specifies different periods of time during which a non-activity situation persists, as per different formats or contexts.

Material reality is impermanent. It has to change; in other words, it has to die and be reborn. So everything that has form and name has to eventually wither away and die. In the lore of Vishnu these transformations of Prakriti are not random; they are organised and predictable. They take the form of yugas, or eras.

Just as every living organism goes through four phases of life — childhood, youth, maturity and old age — so does the world. Krita yuga marks the childhood of the world, Treta yuga marks the youth, Dvapara marks the maturity of the world and Treta, its old age.

Parashurama heralds the end of Krita, Ram the end of Treta, Krishna the end of Dvapara, and Kalki marks the end of Kali yuga. Pralaya is death, death before rebirth. Pralaya is when Vishnu goes to sleep, becomes Narayana. Pralaya is when Ananta becomes Sesha, infinity becomes zero and Yoga-maya becomes Yoga-nidra.

Vishnu thus acknowledges the end of the world, engages with it, even participates in it. While as Parashurama and Ram and Krishna, he struggles to hold on to dharma, despite the corrupting march of time, as Balarama and finally Kalki, he lets go and allows the world to collapse. This is wisdom, knowing when to act and when to withdraw, knowing when to stop fighting and allowing age to take its toll.

Apocalyptic literature

Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction

White horse (mythology)

Life Phases of Kalki Avatar

Destroyer and deliverer: The true meaning of Vishnu’s Kalki avatar

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The dragon, the chaoskampf and the mother goddess

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 20, 2018

The dragon-slaying myth and theme was an important motif in Sumer by 3000 BC, and the dragon-slaying epic influenced the myths of later groups, including the Babylonians and Akkadians. The dragon was worshipped, symbolising the element of water, fertility and wealth, and later became a frightful symbol of power.

The Babylonian Epic of Creation centered principally around the slaying of the dragon Tiamat. This was inscribed in Akkadian, dating back to the first millennium BC, which is more than a thousand years later than the Sumerian inscriptions.

In Sumerian mythology, Kur is a monstrous dragon with scaly body and massive wings. Kur is considered the first ever dragon, and usually referred to the Zagros mountains to the east of Sumer.

Ancient Near East portal Puruli (EZEN Puruliyas) was a Hattian spring festival, held at Nerik, dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna (from Hittite ḫanna- “grandmother”), a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to the Sumerian goddess Inanna, who is married to a new king. Ḫannaḫanna was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat.

The central ritual of the Puruli festival is dedicated to the destruction of the dragon Illuyanka by the storm god Teshub. The corresponding Assyrian festival is the Akitu of the Enuma Elish. Also compared are the Canaanite Poem of Baal and Psalms 93 and 29.

There has been made comparisons between Teshub’s battle with Illuyankas and the sky-god Zeus’ battle with serpent-like Typhon, a monstrous serpentine giant and the most deadly creature in Greek mythology.

Typhon and his mate Echidna were the progenitors of many famous monsters. According to Hesiod, Typhon was the son of Gaia and Tartarus. However one source has Typhon as the son of Hera alone, while another makes Typhon the offspring of Cronus.

Typhon attempted to overthrow Zeus for the supremacy of the cosmos. The two fought a cataclysmic battle, which Zeus finally won with the aid of his thunderbolts. Defeated, Typhon was cast into Tartarus, or buried underneath Mount Etna, or the island of Ischia.

Typhon mythology is part of the Greek succession myth, which explained how Zeus came to rule the gods. Typhon’s story is also connected with that of Python (the serpent killed by Apollo), and both stories probably derived from several Near Eastern antecedents. Typhon was (from c. 500 BC) also identified with the Egyptian god of destruction Set. In later accounts Typhon was often confused with the Giants.

Illuyanka is probably a compound, consisting of two words for “snake”, Proto-Indo-European *hillu- and *heng(w)eh-. The same compound members, inverted, appear in Latin anguilla “eel”. The *h₁illu- word is cognate to English eel, the anka- word to Sanskrit ahi.

In the early Vedic religion, Vritra (‘enveloper’) is a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and adversary of Indra. In Hinduism, Vritra is identified as an Asura. Vritra was also known in the Vedas as Ahi (‘snake’). He appears as a dragon blocking the course of the rivers and is heroically slain by Indra.

According to the Rig Veda, Vritra kept the waters of the world captive until he was killed by Indra, who destroyed all the 99 fortresses of Vritra (although the fortresses are sometimes attributed to Sambara) before liberating the imprisoned rivers.

Akitu or Akitum (Sumerian: ezen á.ki.tum, akiti-šekinku, á.ki.ti.še.gur.ku, lit. “the barley-cutting”, akiti-šununum, lit. “barley-sowing”; Akkadian: akitu or rêš-šattim, “head of the year”) was a spring festival in ancient Mesopotamia.

The name is from the Sumerian for “barley”, originally marking two festivals celebrating the beginning of each of the two half-years of the Sumerian calendar, marking the sowing of barley in autumn and the cutting of barley in spring. In Babylonian religion it came to be dedicated to Marduk’s victory over Tiamat.

The battle between Vahagn and the Vishap 

The Vishap is a dragon in Armenian mythology closely associated with water, similar to the Leviathan. It is usually depicted as a winged snake or with a combination of elements from different animals. Mount Ararat was the main home of the Vishap. The volcanic character of the Araratian peak and its earthquakes may have suggested its association with the Vishap.

Sometimes with its children, the Vishap used to steal children or toddlers and put a small evil spirit of their own brood in their stead. According to ancient beliefs, the Vishap ascended to the sky or descended therefrom to earth, causing thunderous storms, whirlwinds, absorption of the sun (causing an eclipse).

According to ancient legends, the dragon fought Vahagn Vishapakagh (Vahagn the Dragon Reaper), a god of fire and war worshiped anciently and historically in Armenia. He was also a sun-god.

The Vedic Agni, too, like Indra and Vahagn, is a god of war and also a slayer of dragons. Indeed, Vahagn’s name appears to be composed of elements related to the Sanskrit vah “to bring” plus agni “fire”. Vahagn is thus simply the “bringer of fire”. In this capacity he may be equated, then, with the Greek Prometheus and the Vedic Matarisvan, both of whom stole the fire of Jupiter (i.e. from Zeus, in the first instance and Dyaus Pitar in the second).

Vahagn was invoked as a god of courage, later identified with the Greek deity Heracles. The priests of Vahévahian temple, who claimed Vahagn as their own ancestor, placed a statue of the Greek hero in their sanctuary. In the Armenian translation of the Bible, “Heracles, worshipped at Tyr” is renamed “Vahagn”.

All the gods, according to the Euhemerist belief, had been living men; Vahagn likewise was introduced within the ranks of the Armenian kings, as a son of the Orontid Dynasty (or Yervanduni dynasty, 6th century B.C.), together with his brothers — Bab and Tiran.

The name of the Armenian princely house of Vahevunis is believed to derive from Vahagn. The Vahevunis were ranked high in the Royal Register of Armenia, recorded by King Valarshak. In pre-Christian Armenia, the Vahevunis hereditarily possessed the temple town of Ashtishat on the left bank of the Aratzani river and most likely also held the post of the Sparapet, i.e., the Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Armenian Army.

Verethragna

Vahagn was linked to Verethragna, an Avestan language neuter noun literally meaning “smiting of resistance” and the hypostasis of victory in the texts of the Avesta; the name turned into Vahagn (the Avestan “th” becoming “h” in Arsacid Middle Persian), later on to take the form of Vahagn.

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. The neuter noun verethragna is related to Avestan verethra, ‘obstacle’ and verethragnan, ‘victorious’. The word is cognate with Vedic vṛtra (lit. ‘enveloper’), a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and adversary of Indra in the early Vedic religion.

The name and, to some extent, the deity has correspondences in Armenian Vahagn and Vram, Buddhist Sogdian Wshn, Manichaen Parthian Wryhrm, Kushan Bactrian Orlagno. While the figure of Verethragna is highly complex, parallels have also been drawn between it and (variously) Vedic Indra, Puranic Vishnu, Manichaean Adamas, Chaldean/Babylonian Nergal, Egyptian Horus, Hellenic Ares and Heracles.

In the Zoroastrian hierarchy of angels, Bahram is a helper of Asha Vahishta (Avestan, middle Persian: Ardvahisht; Aša Vahišta, Arta Vahišta), “Best Truth”), the Amesha Spenta responsible for the luminaries. Asha Vahishta is closely associated with fire. Fire is “grandly conceived as a force informing all the other Amesha Spentas, giving them warmth and the spark of life.”

Asha, also arta, is a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. Its Old Persian equivalent is arta-. In Middle Iranian languages the term appears as ard-. The Middle Persian descendant is Ashawahist or Ardwahisht; New Persian Ardibehesht or Ordibehesht.

In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called “the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism”. The opposite of Avestan aša is druj, “deceit, falsehood”. The significance of the term is complex, with a highly nuanced range of meaning. It is commonly summarized in accord with its contextual implications of ‘truth’ and ‘right(eousness)’, ‘order’ and ‘right working’.

In addition to the role of fire as the agent of Truth, fire, among its various other manifestations, is also “the fire of judicial ordeal, prototype of the fiery torrent of judgement day, when all will receive their just deserts ‘by fire and by Aša’.”

‘Aša’ derives from the same Proto-Indo-European root as ‘Airyaman’, the divinity of healing who is closely associated with Asha Vahishta. In the Avesta, airyaman (or airiiaman) is both an Avestan language common noun as well as the proper name of a Zoroastrian divinity.

The common noun is a theological and social term literally meaning “member of (the) community or tribe.” In a secondary development, the common noun became the proper name of a divinity Airyaman, who is the yazata of health and healing. In Zoroastrian tradition, Avestan Airyaman is Middle Persian Erman (Ērmān).

In the astronomical and calendrical reforms of the Sassanids (205-651 CE), the planet Mars was named Bahram. Zaehner attributes this to the syncretic influences of the Chaldean astral-theological system, where Babylonian Nergal is both the god of war and the name of the red planet.

According to Zoroastrians and Hindus the Avestan Verethragna derived from the warrior god Indra. However, there is no valid justification for supposing that the Proto-Aryan adjective *vrtraghan was specifically connected with *Indra or any other particular god.”

In the Avesta it is the hero warrior-priest Fereydun who battles the serpent Aži Dahāka, an evil figure in Persian mythology, evident in ancient Persian folklore as Aži Dahāka, which is associated with Vedic Vritra. It is the name of an Iranian mythical king and hero from the kingdom of Varena known as an emblem of victory, justice, and generosity in the Persian literature,

Aži (nominative ažiš) is the Avestan word for “serpent” or “dragon.” It is cognate to the Vedic Sanskrit word ahi, “snake”. The original meaning of dahāka is uncertain. In Persian mythology, Dahāka is treated as a proper noun, and is the source of the Ḍaḥḥāk (Zahhāk) of the Shāhnāme. Despite the negative aspect of Aži Dahāka in mythology, dragons have been used on some banners of war throughout the history of Iranian peoples.

Fereydun (Avestan: Θraētaona), Proto-Iranian Θraitauna- (Avestan Θraētaona-) and Proto-Indo-Iranian Traitaunas is a derivative (with augmentative suffix -una/-auna) of Tritas, the name of a deity or hero reflected in the Vedic Trita and the Avestan Θrita.

Both names are identical to the adjective meaning “the third”, a term used of a minor deity associated with two other deities to form a triad. In the Indian Vedas, Trita is associated with gods of thunder and wind.

Trita is also called Āptya, a name that is probably cognate with Āθβiya, the name of Thraetaona’s father in the Avestā, Zoroastrian texts collated in the third century. Traitaunas may therefore be interpreted as “the great son of Tritas”. The name was borrowed from Parthian into Classical Armenian as Hrudēn.

Trita (“the Third”) is a minor deity of the Rigveda. He is associated with the Maruts, with Vayu and with Indra, like Indra, or as Indra’s assistant, fighting Tvastar, Vrtra and Vala. He is called Āptya, the deity of the Apas (waters).

Ap (áp-) is the Vedic Sanskrit term for “water”, which in Classical Sanskrit only occurs in the plural, ‘Varuna’ or āpas (sometimes re-analysed as a thematic singular, āpa-), whence Hindi āp. The term is from PIE hap”water”. In Hinduism, it is also the name of the deva Varuna a personification of water, one of the Vasus in most later Puranic lists.

The Indo-Iranian word also survives as the Persian word for water, āb, e.g. in Punjab (from panj-āb “five waters”). In archaic ablauting contractions, the laryngeal of the PIE root remains visible in Vedic Sanskrit, e.g. pratīpa- “against the current”, from *proti-hxp-o-.

Varuna is a Vedic deity associated first with sky, later with waters as well as with Ṛta (justice) and Satya (truth). He is also mentioned in the Tamil grammar work Tolkāppiyam, as the god of sea and rain. His relationship with waters, rivers and oceans is mentioned in the Vedas.

In the earliest layer of the Rigveda, Varuna is the guardian of moral law, one who punishes those who sin without remorse, and who forgives those who are with remorse. In the Hindu Puranas, Varuna is the god of oceans.

The theonym Varuṇa is a derivation from the verbal vṛ (“to surround, to cover” or “to restrain, bind”) by means of a suffigal -uṇa-, for an interpretation of the name as “he who covers or binds”, in reference to the cosmological ocean or river encircling the world, but also in reference to the “binding” by universal law or Ṛta.

The etymological identification of the name Ouranos with the Sanskrit Varuṇa is based in the derivation of both names from the PIE root *ŭer with a sense of “binding” – the Indic king-god Varuṇa binds the wicked, the Greek king-god Ouranos binds the Cyclopes.

While the derivation of the name Varuṇa from this root is undisputed, this derivation of the Greek name is now widely rejected in favour of derivation from the root *wers- “to moisten, drip” (Sanskrit vṛṣ “to rain, pour”).

In the Rigveda, several hymns are dedicated to “the waters” (āpas). In the oldest of these the waters are connected with the drought of Indra. Agni, the god of fire, has a close association with water and is often referred to as Apām Napāt “offspring of the waters”. The female deity Apah is the presiding deity of Purva Ashadha (The former invincible one) asterism in Vedic astrology.

Apam Napat is an eminent figure of the Indo-Iranian pantheon. In the Rig Veda, Apām Napāt (Lord Varuna) is the angel of rain. Apam Napat created all existential beings. In Zoroastrianism, Apąm Napāt is a divinity of water. Apām Napāt in Sanskrit mean “son of waters” and grandson of Apah (water) and Apąm Napāt in Avestan means “Fire on Water”.

Sanskrit and Avestan napāt (“grandson”) are cognate to Latin nepos and English nephew, but the name Apām Napāt has also been compared to Etruscan Nethuns and Celtic Nechtan and Roman Neptune.

In Yasht 19 of the Avesta Apąm Napāt appears as the Creator of mankind. Here, there is an evident link between the glory of sovereignty (Khvarenah) and Apąm Napāt who protects Khvarenah as the royal glory of Iranian kings.

Apām Napāt is sometimes described as the supreme creator deity who originates in the cosmic waters. Apam Napat has a golden splendour and is said to be kindled by the cosmic waters.

The reference to fire may have originally referred to flames from natural gas or oil seepages surfacing through water. This Will-o’-the-wisp-like phenomenon would explain the otherwise puzzling concept of fire arising in water (fire and water being usually conceived of as opposing elements, with water the natural quencher of fire, rather than its engenderer).

In this connection, there is a suggestive conjecture that the word “naphtha” came (via Greek, where it meant any sort of petroleum) from the name “Apam Napat”.

Kur

Kur, the dragon

Kur was an underworld deity in the mythology of Sumer, and the monstrous creature that roughly corresponded to the Babylonian Tiamat and the Hebrew Leviathan. Some scholars have corresponded Tiamat with the Hebrew Tehom.

There are three great Sumerian myths of powerful entities overcoming, or slaying, Kur. However, given the complexity of the Sumerian word kur, some myths and legends that utilize it refer to a mountain or foreign land or to the nether world or to the dragon that lived in the nether world. Therefore, it is important to distinguish which entity is being referred to in a given myth.

Kur lived in the empty space between the primal sea and the earth’s crust. Kur personifyies the home of the dead in the underworld, Hell, the “river of the dead”. It is likely that this is the namesake for the monstrous dragon that dwelled at the bottom of this ‘great below.’

All references to Kur, tiamat, and Tehom, signify a primal force associated with either an abyss (Tehom), a sea (Tiamat), a mountain (Kur), and a reptile/serpent (all three). This primeval force has inspired many tales and entire cultures of people.

Kur is often associated with both mountain and serpent. Although Kur was sometimes the home of the dead, it is possible that the flames on escaping gas plumes in parts of the Zagros mountains would have given those mountains a meaning not entirely consistent with the primary meaning of mountains and an abode of a god.

A volcanic mountain would release serpentine-appearing streams of lava. The violent splitting of Pangaea and resulting rise of lava from below could explain this tale. Enlil separating An-Ki would be the land splitting.

This results in lava rising, which would be the primeval waters over taking Ereshkigal (“queen of the great earth”). The lava would then meet the sea and cool, thus producing steam in a violent manner. This would correlate to Enki battling Kur (Enki is the water-god). Enki’s assumed victory would be the sea cooling the lava completely.

The Sumerian word kur corresponds to several concepts and meanings that developed over time. Kur was an enormous serpent, or snake-like dragon, living in the bottom of the ‘great below,’ where Kur kept contact with the primeval waters.

One of the primary meanings of kur is ‘mountain,’ which likely influenced the word’s later translation into ‘foreign land,’ and then again later simply into ‘land’ in general and as a determiner is placed before the name of a state or kingdom. The name for Sumer itself can be described as kur-gal, or ‘great land.’ The Assyrian pronunciation is mât.

The cosmic concept for the word kur, which can be identified with ki-gal, or ‘great below,’ which roughly translates to ‘nether world.’ Thus, the cosmic meaning of kur is the empty space between the primal sea (Abzu) and the earth’s crust (Ma), which seem a likely pairing for parentage, in a fuzzy set of records.

Kur and Ereshkigal

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (EREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Kur, the land of the dead or underworld. In Sumerian myths, Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. In later East Semitic myths she was said to rule Irkalla alongside her husband Nergal.

Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal, lit. “Great Lady of the Earth” or “Lady of the Great Earth”.

In the ancient Sumerian poem Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld Ereshkigal is described as Inanna’s older sister. The two main myths involving Ereshkigal are the story of Inanna’s descent into the Underworld and the story of Ereshkigal’s marriage to the god Nergal. Inanna and Ereshkigal represent polar opposites. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven, but Ereshkigal is the queen of Irkalla.

According to the introductory passage of the ancient Sumerian epic poem, “Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld,” Ereshkigal was forcibly abducted by Kur, who carried her away to the nether world where she was forced to become queen of the Underworld against her will immediately after the formation of the world.

In order to avenge the abduction of Ereshkigal, Enki, the god of water, set out in a boat and sailed to the nether world to attack Kur and avenge the theft. The Kur defends itself by pelting Enki with rocks of many sizes and by sending the waves beneath Enki’s boat to attack Enki as the primeval waters attacked the ship from all sides.

This particular myth of Kur is found in a prologue to Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Nether World as opposed to its own tablet. As such, the prologue doesn’t complete the story; it merely recounts the battle in a brief passage as part of the introduction to another. The poem never actually explains who the ultimate victor of the battle is, but it is clear, however, from Enki’s epithets such as ‘Lord of the Abyss’, that Enki overpowered the dragon and returned victorious.

Hades and Persephone

The story about the abduction of Ereshkigal is similar to the myth of the rape of Greek Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, that became the formidable, venerable majestic princess or queen of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. The Greek story is probably derived from the ancient Sumerian story.  In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina, and her mother, Ceres and her father Jupiter.

Persephone was married to Hades, the god of the underworld. The myth of her abduction represents her function as the personification of vegetation, which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest; hence, she is also associated with spring as well as the fertility of vegetation. Similar myths appear in the Orient, in the cults of male gods like Attis, Adonis, and Osiris, and in Minoan Crete.

Persephone as a vegetation goddess and her mother Demeter were the central figures of the Eleusinian mysteries, which promised the initiated a more enjoyable prospect after death. In some versions, Persephone is the mother of Zeus’s sons Dionysus, Iacchus, or Zagreus. The origins of her cult are uncertain, but it was based on very old agrarian cults of agricultural communities.

Persephone was commonly worshipped along with Demeter and with the same mysteries. To her alone were dedicated the mysteries celebrated at Athens in the month of Anthesterion. In Classical Greek art, Persephone is invariably portrayed robed, often carrying a sheaf of grain. She may appear as a mystical divinity with a sceptre and a little box, but she was mostly represented in the process of being carried off by Hades.

Inanna and Dumuzid

In the Sumerian epic poem of “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld” Inanna descends into the Underworld, apparently seeking to extend her powers there. Inanna is struck dead and her dead corpse is hung on a hook in the Underworld for everyone to see. It is demanded that Inanna in order to be free have to find someone to take her place in the underworld. When Inanna discovers that her husband Dumuzid has not mourned her death she becomes ireful towards him and orders the demons to take Dumuzid as her replacement.

Inanna later regrets this decision and decrees that Dumuzid will spend half the year in the Underworld, but the other half of the year with her, while his sister Geshtinanna, the goddess of agriculture, fertility, and dream interpretation, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”, stays in the Underworld in his place, thus resulting in the cycle of the seasons. The Sumerians believed that, while Geshtinanna was in Heaven and Dumuzid in Kur, the earth became dry and barren, thus causing the season of summer.

The cult of Dumuzid was later spread to the Levant and to Greece, where he became known under the West Semitic name Adonis. Adonis’s name was a borrowing from the Canaanite word ʼadōn, meaning “lord”which is related to Adonai (Hebrew: אֲדֹנָי‎), one of the titles used to refer to the God of the Hebrew Bible and still used in Judaism to the present day.

Modern scholars consider the story of Aphrodite and Adonis to be derived from the earlier Mesopotamian myth of Inanna (Ishtar) and Dumuzid (Tammuz). Syrian Adonis is Gaus. or Aos, akin to Egyptian Osiris, the Semitic Tammuz and Baal Hadad, the Etruscan Atunis and the Phrygian Attis, all of whom are associated with vegetation.

Enlil and Ninlil

Enlil and Ninlil is a Sumerian poem describing the affair between Enlil and the goddess Ninlil (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, the consort goddess of Enlil.

Ninlil lived in Dilmun with her family. Ninlil’s mother Nunbarshegunu instructs Ninlil to go bathe in the river. Ninlil goes to the river, where Enlil, who lie with her by the water, seduces her and impregnates her with their son, the moon-god Nanna. As punishment Enlil was dispatched to Kur, the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, where Ninlil joined him.

Ninlil follows Enlil to the underworld, where he impersonates the “man of the gate”. Ninlil demands to know where Enlil has gone, but Enlil, still impersonating the gatekeeper, refuses to answer. He then seduces Ninlil and impregnates her with Nergal, the god of death.

The same scenario repeats, only this time Enlil instead impersonates the “man of the river of the nether world, the man-devouring river”; once again, he seduces Ninlil and impregnates her with the god Ninazu. Finally, Enlil impersonates the “man of the boat”; once again, he seduces Ninlil and impregnates her with Enbilulu, the god of rivers and canals. In some texts Ninlil is also the mother of Ninurta.

The story of Enlil’s courtship with Ninlil is primarily a genealogical myth invented to explain the origins of the moon-god Nanna, as well as the various gods of the Underworld, but it is also, to some a extent, a coming-of-age story describing Enlil and Ninlil’s emergence from adolescence into adulthood.

The Sun goddess of the Earth and the Sun god of Heaven

In addition to the Sun goddess of Arinna, the Hittites also worshipped the Sun goddess of the Earth (Hittite: taknaš dUTU, Luwian: tiyamaššiš Tiwaz) and the Sun god of Heaven (Hittite: nepišaš Ištanu), while the Luwians originally worshipped the old Proto-Indo-European Sun god Tiwaz.

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

The Sun goddess of the Earth, as a personification of the chthonic aspects of the Sun, had the task of opening the doors to the Underworld. She was also the source of all evil, impurity, and sickness on Earth. Otherwise she is mostly attested in curses, oaths, and purification rituals.

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

The Sun god of Heaven was identified with the Hurrian solar deity, Šimige. He was the protector of the Hittite king, indicated by a winged solar disc on the royal seals, and was the god of the kingdom par excellence. He played an important role as the foremost oath god in interstate treaties. As a result of the influence of the Mesopotamian Sun god Šamaš, the Sun god of Heaven also gained an important role as the god of law, legality, and truth.

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

He is often referred to as “Father” and invoked along with the “Father gods”. His epithet “Tiwaz of the Oath” indicates that he was an oath-god. While Tiwaz (and the related Palaic god Tiyaz) retained a promenant role in the pantheon, the Hittite cognate deity Šiwat was largely eclipsed by the Sun goddess of Arinna, becoming a god of the day, especially the day of death.

Ma – Nammu

Ma is a Sumerian word meaning “land” that in Sumerian mythology was also used to regard Primordial Land. There seems to be some loss in records as to the transition, but the same name Ma appears again later, also tied to the Earth, in Ma being referred to as “Mother of the mountain” – in this case, Kur (Mountain) the first dragon god.

It is thought that female deities are older than male ones in Mesopotamia and it is suggested that Enki during the earliest period had a subordinate position to a goddess, taking the role of divine consort or high priest, later taking priority.

Nammu or Namma was a female principle of a watery creative force, with equally strong connections to the underworld, which predates the appearance of Ea-Enki. Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.

Nammu, a Sumerian primeval goddess, was the Goddess sea (Engur) and the mother goddess of the primeval creative matter that gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth).

She is the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”, 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.

Nammu is not well attested. 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.

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.

Abzu

The Abzu or Apsu (ZU.AB; Sumerian: abzu; Akkadian: apsû; lit. ab=’water’ zu=’deep’), also called engur (LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: engur also E-en-gur-a, meaning “house of the subterranean waters”), was the name for the primeval sea or the fresh water from underground aquifers which was given a religious fertilising quality in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology.

Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the abzu. In Sumerian E-A means “the house of water”, and it has been suggested that this was originally the name for the shrine to the god at Eridu, a ziggurat temple surrounded by Euphratean marshlands near the ancient Persian Gulf coastline. It has also been suggested that the original non-anthropomorphic divinity at Eridu was not Enki but Abzu.

It was the first temple known to have been built in Southern Iraq. Four separate excavations at the site of Eridu have demonstrated the existence of a shrine dating back to the earliest Ubaid period, more than 6,500 years ago. Over the following 4,500 years, the temple was expanded 18 times, until it was abandoned during the Persian period.

The Enki temple had at its entrance a pool of fresh water, and excavation has found numerous carp bones, suggesting collective feasts. Carp are shown in the twin water flows running into the later God Enki, suggesting continuity of these features over a very long period.

These features were found at all subsequent Sumerian temples, suggesting that this temple established the pattern for all subsequent Sumerian temples. “All rules laid down at Eridu were faithfully observed”.

In the city of Eridu, the Sumerian god Enki (Ea in the Akkadian language) was believed to have lived in the abzu since before human beings were created. His wife Damgalnuna, his mother Nammu, his advisor Isimud and a variety of subservient creatures, such as the gatekeeper Lahmu, also lived in the abzu.

Damgalnuna (“great wife of the prince”) or Damkina (“true wife”), also known as Ninḫursaĝ, was a mother goddess with many epithets, including shassuru (“womb goddess”) or tabsut ili (“midwife of the gods”, “mother of all children” and “mother of the gods”). In this role she is identified with Ki in the Enuma Elish. She had shrines in both Eridu and Kish.

Enki’s temple was known as E-abzu (house of the cosmic waters) and was located at the edge of a swamp, an abzu. Certain tanks of holy water in Babylonian and Assyrian temple courtyards were also called abzu (apsû). Typical in religious washing, these tanks were similar to Judaism’s mikvot, the washing pools of Islamic mosques, or the baptismal font in Christian churches.

Chaoskampf

Abzu (apsû) is depicted as a deity only in the Babylonian creation epic, the Enûma Elish, taken from the library of Assurbanipal (c 630 BCE) but which is about 500 years older. In this story, he was a primal being made of fresh water and a lover to another primal deity, Tiamat (Akkadian: TI.AMAT or TAM.TUM, Greek: Thaláttē), corresponding to Nammu in Sumerian mythology, who was a creature of salt water.

Abzu (or Apsû) fathered upon Tiamat the elder deities Lahmu and Lahamu (masc. the “hairy”), a title given to the gatekeepers at Enki’s Abzu/E’engurra-temple in Eridu. Laḫmu, Lakhmu, Lache, Lumasi, or Assyro-Akkadian Lammasu, is a a protective and beneficent deity deity from Akkadian mythology that represents the zodiac, parent stars, or constellations.

Lahmu and his sister Laḫamu are the parents of Anshar and Kishar, the sky father and earth mother, who birthed the gods of the Mesopotamian Pantheon. 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”.

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.

Lahmu and Lahamu, in turn, were the parents of the ‘ends’ of the heavens (Anshar, from an-šar = heaven-totality/end) and the earth (Kishar); Anshar and Kishar were considered to meet at the horizon, becoming, thereby, the parents of Anu (Heaven) and Ki (Earth).

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

She was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.

Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the salt sea, mating with Abzû, the god of fresh water, to produce younger gods. Tiamat also has been claimed to be cognate with Northwest Semitic tehom (the deeps, abyss), in the Book of Genesis 1:2.

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.

The Enuma Elish begins: “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 still mixing their waters, and no pasture land had yet been formed, nor even a reed marsh.”

This resulted in the birth of the younger gods, who later murder Apsu in order to usurp his lordship of the universe. 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. Correctly assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed.

In the myth recorded on cuneiform tablets, the deity Enki (later Ea) believed correctly that Apsu was planning to murder the younger deities, upset with the chaos they created, and so captured him and held him prisoner beneath his temple the E-Abzu.

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.

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'”.

This angered Kingu, also spelled Qingu, meaning “unskilled laborer”, their son, who reported the event to Tiamat, who enraged goes to war upon her husband’s murderers. She fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu’s death, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with “poison instead of blood”.

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 was later replaced by Enlil and in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon by Marduk, the son of Ea.

Taking on the form of a massive sea dragon, she is then slain by Enki’s son, the storm-god Marduk. 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.

The emergence of Enki as the divine lover of Damgalnun, and the divine battle between the younger Igigi divinities and Abzu, saw the Abzu, the underground waters of the Aquifer, becoming the place in which the foundations of the temple were built.

Tiamat possessed the 3 Tablets of Destiny and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, who wore them as a breastplate. They gave him great power. She wanted to establish him as ruler and leader of all gods before she was killed by Marduk, and placed him as the general of her army.

However, like Tiamat, Kingu was to be captured and slain by Marduk. 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 then went to live in the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, along with the other deities who had sided with Tiamat.

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. Marduk mixed Kingu’s blood with earth and used the clay to mold the first human beings.

Against Enki’s wish the Gods decide to slay Kingu, and Enki finally consents to use Kingu’s blood to make the first human, with whom Enki always later has a close relationship, the first of the seven sages, seven wise men or “Abgallu” (Ab = water, Gal = great, Lu = Man), also known as Adapa.

The motif of Chaoskampf (German: “struggle against chaos”) is ubiquitous in myth and legend, depicting a battle of a culture hero deity with a chaos monster, often in the shape of a serpent or dragon.

The same term has also been extended to parallel concepts in the Middle East and North Africa, such as the abstract conflict of ideas in the Egyptian duality of Maat and Isfet or the battle of Horus and Set.

The origins of the Chaoskampf myth most likely lie in the Proto-Indo-European religion whose descendants almost all feature some variation of the story of a storm god fighting a sea serpent representing the clash between the forces of order and chaos.

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

Indo-European examples of this mythic trope include Thor vs. Jörmungandr (Norse), Tarḫunz vs. Illuyanka (Hittite), Indra vs. Vritra (Vedic), Yahweh vs. Leviathan (Hebrew), Θraētaona vs. Aži Dahāka (Avestan) and Zeus vs. Typhon (Greek) among others.

In Norse mythology, Ginnungagap (“gaping abyss”, “yawning void”) is the primordial void, mentioned in the Gylfaginning, the Eddaic text recording Norse cosmogony. Ginnunga- is usually interpreted as deriving from a verb meaning “gape” or “yawn”, but no such word occurs in Old Norse except in verse 3 of the Eddic poem “Vǫluspá”, “gap var ginnunga”, which may be a play on the term.

The beginning of everything

Geshtu-(E) (also Geshtu, Gestu) is, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology, a minor god of intelligence. Legend says that he was sacrificed by the great gods and his blood was used in the creation of mankind.

Kingu, also spelled Qingu, meaning “unskilled laborer”, was a god in Babylonian mythology, and—after the murder of his father Abzu—the consort of the goddess Tiamat, his mother, who wanted to establish him as ruler and leader of all gods before she was killed by Marduk.

Tiamat gave Kingu the 3 Tablets of Destiny, which he wore as a breastplate and which gave him great power. She placed him as the general of her army. However, like Tiamat, Kingu was eventually killed by Marduk.

Marduk mixed Kingu’s blood with earth and used the clay to mold the first human beings, while Tiamat’s body created the earth and the skies. Kingu then went to live in the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, along with the other deities who had sided with Tiamat.

In Norse mythology, Ymir, Aurgelmir, Brimir, or Bláinn is the ancestor of all jötnar. Ymir is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional material, in the Prose Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century, and in the poetry of skalds.

Taken together, several stanzas from four poems collected in the Poetic Edda refer to Ymir as a primeval being who was born from venom that dripped from the icy rivers Élivágar and lived in the grassless void of Ginnungagap.

Ymir birthed a male and female from the pits of his arms, and his legs together begat a six-headed being. The gods Odin, Vili and Vé fashioned the Earth (elsewhere personified as a goddess; Jörð) from his flesh, from his blood the ocean, from his bones the mountains, from his hair the trees, from his brains the clouds, from his skull the heavens, and from his eyebrows the middle realm in which mankind lives, Midgard. In addition, one stanza relates that the dwarfs were given life by the gods from Ymir’s flesh and blood (or the Earth and sea).

In the Prose Edda, a narrative is provided that draws from, adds to, and differs from the accounts in the Poetic Edda. According to the Prose Edda, after Ymir was formed from the elemental drops, so too was Auðumbla, a primeval cow, whose milk Ymir fed from.

The Prose Edda also states that three gods killed Ymir; the brothers Odin, Vili and Vé, and details that, upon Ymir’s death, his blood caused an immense flood. Scholars have debated as to what extent Snorri’s account of Ymir is an attempt to synthesize a coherent narrative for the purpose of the Prose Edda and to what extent Snorri drew from traditional material outside of the corpus that he cites.

By way of historical linguistics and comparative mythology, scholars have linked Ymir to Tuisto, the Proto-Germanic being attested by Tacitus in his 1st century AD work Germania and have identified Ymir as an echo of a primordial being reconstructed in Proto-Indo-European mythology.

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.

Jacob (2005) attempts to establish 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, so Jacob argues that 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.

Tacitus relates that “ancient songs” (Latin carminibus antiquis) of the Germanic peoples celebrated Tuisto as “a god, born of the earth” (deum terra editum). 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 (proximi Oceano), in the interior (medii), and the remaining parts (ceteri) of the geographical region of Germania, respectively.

Tacitus’s report falls squarely within the ethnographic tradition of the classical world, which often fused anthropogony, ethnogony, and theogony together into a synthetic whole. The succession of father-son-three sons parallels occurs in both Germanic and non-Germanic Indo-European areas. The essential characteristics of the myth have been theorized as ultimately originated in Proto-Indo-European society around 2,000 BCE.

According to Rives (1999), the fact that the ancient Germanic peoples claimed descent from an earth-born god was used by Tacitus to support his contention that they were an indigenous population: the Latin word indigena was often used in the same sense as the Greek autochthonos, meaning literally ‘[born from] the land itself’.

Lindauer (1975) notes that, although this claim is to be judged as one made out of simple ignorance of the facts on the part of Tacitus, he was not entirely wrong, as he made the judgement based on a comparison with the relatively turbulent Mediterranean region of his day.

In 1498, a monk named Annio da Viterbo published fragments known as “Pseudo-Berossus”, now considered a forgery, claiming that Babylonian records had shown that Tuiscon or Tuisto, the fourth son of Noah, had been the first ruler of Scythia and Germany following the dispersion of peoples, with him being succeeded by his son Mannus as the second king.

Later historians (e.g. Johannes Aventinus) managed to furnish numerous further details, including the assertion by James Anderson that this Tuiscon was in fact none other than the biblical Ashkenaz, son of Gomer.

Purusha is a complex concept whose meaning evolved in Vedic and Upanishadic times. Depending on source and historical timeline, it means the cosmic man or Self, Consciousness, and Universal principle.

In early Vedas, Purusa meant a cosmic man whose sacrifice by the gods created all life. This was one of many creation theories discussed in the Vedas. The idea parallels Norse Ymir, with the myth’s origin in Proto-Indo-European religion.

Pangu is the first living being and the creator of all in some versions of Chinese mythology. The first writer to record the myth of Pangu was Xu Zheng during the Three Kingdoms period c 220–280. Recently his name was found in a tomb dated 194 AD.

In the beginning, there was nothing in the universe except a formless chaos. This chaos coalesced into a cosmic egg for about 18,000 years. Within it, the perfectly opposed principles of Yin and Yang became balanced, and Pangu emerged (or woke up) from the egg. Pangu is usually depicted as a primitive, hairy giant who has horns on his head and wears fur.

Pangu began creating the world: he separated Yin from Yang with a swing of his giant axe, creating the Earth (murky Yin) and the Sky (clear Yang). To keep them separated, Pangu stood between them and pushed up the Sky.

With each day, the sky grew ten feet (3 meters) higher, the Earth ten feet thicker, and Pangu ten feet taller. This task took yet another 18,000 years. In some versions of the story, Pangu is aided in this task by the four most prominent beasts, namely the Turtle, the Qilin, the Phoenix, and the Dragon.

After the 18,000 years had elapsed, Pangu died. His breath became the wind, mist and clouds, his voice became thunder, his left eye became the sun, his right eye became the moon, his head became the mountains and extremes of the world, his blood became rivers, his muscles became fertile land, his facial hair became the stars and Milky Way, his fur became bushes and forests. his bones became valuable minerals, his bone marrow became sacred diamonds, his sweat became rain, and the fleas on his fur carried by the wind became animals.

From matriarchy to patriarchy

Robert Graves considered Tiamat’s death by Marduk as evidence for his hypothesis of an ancient shift in power from a matriarchal society to a patriarchy. Grave’s ideas were later developed into the Great Goddess theory by Marija Gimbutas, Merlin Stone etc.

The theory suggests Tiamat and other ancient monster figures were presented as former supreme deities of peaceful, woman-centered religions that were turned into monsters when violent. Their defeat at the hands of a male hero corresponded to the manner in which male-dominated religions overthrew ancient society.

Sabazios is the horseman and sky father god of the Phrygians and Thracians. In Indo-European languages, such as Phrygian, the -zios element in his name derives from dyeus, the common precursor of Latin deus (‘god’) and Greek Zeus.

Though the Greeks interpreted Phrygian Sabazios as both Zeus and Dionysus, representations of him, even into Roman times, show him always on horseback, as a nomadic horseman god, wielding his characteristic staff of power.

It seems likely that the migrating Phrygians brought Sabazios with them when they settled in Anatolia in the early first millennium BCE, and that the god’s origins are to be looked for in Macedonia and Thrace.

The recently discovered ancient sanctuary of Perperikon in modern-day Bulgaria is believed to be that of Sabazios. The Macedonians were also noted horsemen, horse-breeders and horse-worshippers up to the time of Philip II, whose name signifies “lover of horses”.

Possible early conflict between Sabazios and his followers and the indigenous mother goddess of Phrygia (Cybele) may be reflected in Homer’s brief reference to the youthful feats of Priam, who aided the Phrygians in their battles with Amazons.

An aspect of the compromise religious settlement, similar to the other such mythic adjustments throughout Aegean culture, can be read in the later Phrygian King Gordias’ adoption “with Cybele” of Midas.

One of the native religion’s creatures was the Lunar Bull. Sabazios’ relations with the goddess may be surmised in the way that his horse places a hoof on the head of the bull, in a Roman marble relief at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Though Roman in date, the iconic image appears to be much earlier.

Under the Roman Emperor Gordian III the god on horseback appears on coins minted at Tlos, in neighboring Lycia, and at Istrus, in the province of Lower Moesia, between Thrace and the Danube. It is generally thought that the young emperor’s grandfather came from an Anatolian family, because of his unusual cognomen, Gordianus.

The iconic image of the god or hero on horseback battling the chthonic serpent, on which his horse tramples, appears on Celtic votive columns, and with the coming of Christianity it was easily transformed into the image of Saint George and the Dragon, whose earliest known depictions are from tenth- and eleventh-century Cappadocia and eleventh-century Georgia and Armenia.

Among Roman inscriptions from Nicopolis ad Istrum, Sabazios is generally equated with Jove and mentioned alongside Mercury. Similarly in Hellenistic monuments, Sabazios is either explicitly (via inscriptions) or implicitly (via iconography) associated with Zeus.

On a marble slab from Philippopolis, Sabazios is depicted as a curly-haired and bearded central deity among several gods and goddesses. Under his left foot is a ram’s head, and he holds in his left hand a sceptre tipped with a hand in the benedictio latina gesture.

Sabazios is accompanied by busts on his right depicting Luna, Pan, and Mercury, and on his left by Sol, Fortuna, and Daphne. According to Macrobius, Liber and Helios were worshipped among the Thracians as Sabazios; this description fits other Classical accounts that identify Sabazios with Dionysos.

Sabazios is also associated with a number of archeological finds depicting a bronze, right hand in the benedictio latina gesture. The hand appears to have had ritual significance and may have been affixed to a sceptre (as the one carried by Sabazios on the Philippopolis slab).

Although there are many variations, the hand of Sabazios is typically depicted with a pinecone on the thumb and with a serpent or pair of serpents encircling the wrist and surmounting the bent ring and pinky fingers.

Additional symbols occasionally included on the hands of Sabazios include a lightning bolt over the index and middle fingers, a turtle and lizard on the back of the hand, an eagle, a ram, a leafless branch, the thyrsos, and the Mounted Heros.

The ecstatic Eastern rites practiced largely by women in Athens were thrown together for rhetorical purposes by Demosthenes in undermining his opponent Aeschines for participating in his mother’s cultic associations:

On attaining manhood you abetted your mother in her initiations and the other rituals, and read aloud from the cultic writings … You rubbed the fat-cheeked snakes and swung them above your head, crying Euoi saboiand hues attes, attes hues.

Transference of Sabazios to the Roman world appears to have been mediated in large part through Pergamum. The naturally syncretic approach of Greek religion blurred distinctions. Later Greek writers, like Strabo in the first century CE, linked Sabazios with Zagreus, among Phrygian ministers and attendants of the sacred rites of Rhea and Dionysos.

Strabo’s Sicilian contemporary, Diodorus Siculus, conflated Sabazios with the secret ‘second’ Dionysus, born of Zeus and Persephone, a connection that is not borne out by surviving inscriptions, which are entirely to Zeus Sabazios.

The Christian Clement of Alexandria had been informed that the secret mysteries of Sabazius, as practiced among the Romans, involved a serpent, a chthonic creature unconnected with the mounted skygod of Phrygia: “‘God in the bosom’ is a countersign of the mysteries of Sabazius to the adepts”. Clement reports: “This is a snake, passed through the bosom of the initiates”.

Much later, the Byzantine Greek encyclopedia, Suda (10th century?), flatly states: Sabazios … is the same as Dionysos. He acquired this form of address from the rite pertaining to him; for the barbarians call the bacchic cry “sabazein”.

Hence some of the Greeks too follow suit and call the cry “sabasmos”; thereby Dionysos [becomes] Sabazios. They also used to call “saboi” those places that had been dedicated to him and his Bacchantes … Demosthenes [in the speech] “On Behalf of Ktesiphon” [mentions them].

Some say that Saboi is the term for those who are dedicated to Sabazios, that is to Dionysos, just as those [dedicated] to Bakkhos [are] Bakkhoi. They say that Sabazios and Dionysos are the same. Thus some also say that the Greeks call the Bakkhoi Saboi.

In Roman sites, though an inscription built into the wall of the abbey church of San Venanzio at Ceperana suggested to a Renaissance humanist it had been built upon the foundations of a temple to Jupiter Sabazius, according to modern scholars not a single temple consecrated to Sabazius, the rider god of the open air, has been located.

Small votive hands, typically made of copper or bronze, are often associated with the cult of Sabazios. Many of these hands have a small perforation at the base which suggests they may have been attached to wooden poles and carried in processions. The symbolism of these objects is not well known.

The first Jews who settled in Rome were expelled in 139 BCE, along with Chaldaean astrologers by Cornelius Hispalus under a law which proscribed the propagation of the “corrupting” cult of “Jupiter Sabazius”, according to the epitome of a lost book of Valerius Maximus:

Gnaeus Cornelius Hispalus, praetor peregrinus in the year of the consulate of Marcus Popilius Laenas and Lucius Calpurnius, ordered the astrologers by an edict to leave Rome and Italy within ten days, since by a fallacious interpretation of the stars they perturbed fickle and silly minds, thereby making profit out of their lies.

The same praetor compelled the Jews, who attempted to infect the Roman custom with the cult of Jupiter Sabazius, to return to their homes. By this it is conjectured that the Romans identified the Jewish YHVH Tzevaot (“sa-ba-oth”, “of the Hosts”) as Jove Sabazius.

This mistaken connection of Sabazios and Sabaos has often been repeated. In a similar vein, Plutarch maintained that the Jews worshipped Dionysus, and that the day of Sabbath was a festival of Sabazius.

Plutarch also discusses the identification of the Jewish God with the “Egyptian” Typhon, an identification which he later rejects, however. The monotheistic Hypsistarians worshipped the Most High under this name, which may have been a form of the Jewish God.

Chaos

Chaos (Greek khaos) refers to the void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, or to the initial “gap” created by the original separation of heaven and earth. In Hesiod’s Theogony (c. 700 BC), Chaos was the first of the primordial deities, followed by Gaia (Earth), Tartarus (the nether abyss), and Eros (Love). From Chaos came Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx (Night).

Greek χάος means “emptiness, vast void, chasm, abyss”, from the verb χαίνω, “gape, be wide open, etc.”, from Proto-Indo-European *ǵhehn-, cognate to Old English geanian, “to gape”, whence English yawn. It may also mean space, the expanse of air, and the nether abyss, infinite darkness. Pherecydes of Syros (fl. 6th century BC) interprets chaos as water, like something formless which can be differentiated.

The term chaos has been adopted in modern comparative mythology and religious studies as referring to the primordial state before creation. This by strictly combining two separate notions of primordial waters or a primordial darkness from which a new order emerges and a primordial state as a merging of opposites, such as heaven and earth, which must be separated by a creator deity in an act of cosmogony.

In both cases, chaos referring to a notion of a primordial state contains the cosmos in potentia but needs to be formed by a demiurge, an artisan-like figure responsible for fashioning and maintaining the physical universe, before the world can begin its existence.

Timaeus, a character in two of Plato’s dialogues, Timaeus and Critias, describes the Demiurge as unreservedly benevolent, and so it desires a world as good as possible. The world remains imperfect, however, because the Demiurge created the world out of a chaotic, indeterminate non-being.

Chaos has been linked with the term tohu wa-bohu of Genesis 1:2. The term may refer to a state of non-being prior to creation or to a formless state. In the Book of Genesis, the spirit of God is moving upon the face of the waters, and the earliest state of the universe is like a “watery chaos”.

The mother goddess

Mami is a goddess in the Babylonian epic Atra-Hasis and in other creation legends. She was probably synonymous with Ninhursag. She was involved in the creation of humankind from clay and blood. As Nintu legends states she pinched off fourteen pieces of primordial clay which she formed into womb deities. Seven on the left and seven on the right with a brick between them, who produced the first seven pairs of human embryos.

She may have become Belet Ili (“Mistress of the Gods”) when, at Enki’s suggestion, the gods slew one among themselves and used that god’s blood and flesh, mixed with clay, to create humankind. Also known as Belet-ili, or Nintu. Alternative forms of her name include Mama and Mammitum.

Ma was a local goddess at Comana in Hellenistic Cappadocia. Her name Ma means “Mother”, and she also had the epithets “Invincible” and “Bringer of Victory”. She is 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.

Ma has been identified with a number of other deities, indicating her function. She has been compared to Cybele and Bellona. The ancient Greeks compared Ma to the goddess Enyo and Athena Nicephorus. Plutarch likened her with Semele and Athena. Ma introduced and worshiped at Macedonia region together with other foreign deities.

According to ancient geographers, Comana was situated in Cappadocia (and later Cataonia). Comana was a city of Cappadocia and later Cataonia (Latin: Comana Cataoniae; frequently called Comana Chryse or Aurea, i.e. “the golden”, to distinguish it from Comana in Pontus). The Hittite toponym Kummanni is considered likely to refer to Comana, but the identification is not considered proven.

Another epithet for the city, found in inscriptions, is Hieropolis ‘sacred city’, owing to a famous temple of the Syrian Moon goddess Enyo or, in the local language: Ma (cf. Men, the moon goddess of Caria). The temple and its fame in ancient times as the place where the rites of Ma-Enyo, a variety of the great west Asian nature-goddess, were celebrated with much solemnity.

Mēn (“month; Moon”, presumably influenced by Avestan maŋha) was a lunar god worshipped in the western interior parts of Anatolia. He is attested in various localised variants, such as Mēn Askaenos in Antioch in Pisidia, or Mēn Pharnakou at Ameria in Pontus.

Mēn is often found in association with Persianate elements, especially with the goddess Anahita. Lunar symbolism dominates his iconography. The god is usually shown with the horns of a crescent emerging from behind his shoulders, and he is described as the god presiding over the (lunar) months.

Strabo describes Mēn as a local god of the Phrygians. Mēn may be incluenced by the (feminine) Zoroastrian lunar divinity Mah, but his male sex is apparently due to the Mesopotamian moon god Sin.

In the Kingdom of Pontus, there was a temple estate dedicated to Mēn Pharnakou and Selene at Ameria, near Cabira (Strabo 12.3.31). The temple was probably established by Pharnakes I in the 2nd century BC, apparently in an attempt to counter-balance the influence of the Moon goddess Ma of Comana. The cult of Mēn Pharnakou in Pontus has been traced to the appearance of the star and crescent motif on Pontic coins at the time.

Taşlıalan (1988) in a study of Antioch in Pisidia has remarked that the people who settled on the acropolis in the Greek colonial era carried the Mēn Askaenos cult down to the plain as Patrios Theos and in the place where the Augusteum was built there are some signs of this former cult as bucrania on the rock-cut walls.

Autochthonous Mēn as attested in Anatolia is to be distinguished from his reception as a “Phrygian god” in Rome during the imperial period. Here, Mēn is depicted with a Phrygian cap and a belted tunic.

He may be accompanied by bulls and lions in religious artwork. The Roman iconography of Mēn partly recalls that of Mithras, who also wears a Phrygian cap and is commonly depicted with a bull and symbols of the sun and moon.

The Augustan History has the Roman emperor Caracalla (r. 198–217) venerate Lunus at Carrhae; this, i.e. a masculine variant of the feminine Latin noun luna “Moon”, has been taken as a Latinized name for Mēn.

The same source records the local opinion that anyone who believes the deity of the moon to be feminine shall always be subject to women, whereas a man who believes that he is masculine will dominate his wife.

David Magie suggests that Caracalla had actually visited the temple of Sin, the Mesopotamian Moon god. In later times, Mēn may also have been identified with both Attis of Phrygia and Sabazius of Thrace.

Ma was a Phrygian alternative name for Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubileya/Kubeleya Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”), an Anatolian mother goddess who may have a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük in Anatolia where statues of plump women have been found in excavations and dated to the 6th millennium BC.

Her Phrygian cult was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor and spread to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies around the 6th century BCE. In Greece, Cybele met with a mixed reception. She was partially assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia, her Minoan equivalent Rhea, and the Harvest-Mother goddess Demeter.

The inscription Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya at a Phrygian rock-cut shrine, dated to the first half of the 6th century BC, is read as “Mother of the mountain”. This is consistent with Cybele as any of several similar tutelary goddesses, each known as “mother” and associated with specific Anatolian mountains or other localities: a goddess thus “born from stone”.

Ḫannaḫanna (from Hittite ḫanna- “grandmother”) is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the Sumerian goddess Inanna. Ḫannaḫanna was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat, also transcribed Khepat, was known as “the mother of all living” and “Queen of the deities”. The Hittite sun goddess Arinniti was later assimilated with Hebat. Hebat is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele.

Ninhursag

Ninḫursaĝ (“lady of the sacred mountain”: from Sumerian NIN “lady” and ḪAR.SAG “sacred mountain, foothill”), also known as Damgalnuna or Ninmah, was the ancient Sumerian mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. She had many names including Ninmah (“Great Queen”); Nintu (“Lady of Birth”); Mamma or Mami (mother); Aruru, Belet-Ili (lady of the gods, Akkadian).

Possibly included among the original mother goddesses was Damgalnuna (great wife of the prince) or Damkina (true wife), the consort of the god Enki. The mother goddess had many epithets including shassuru or ‘womb goddess’, tabsut ili ‘midwife of the gods’, ‘mother of all children’ and ‘mother of the gods’. In this role she is identified with Ki in the Enuma Elish. She had shrines in both Eridu and Kish.

Ninhursag is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the “true and great lady of heaven” (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were “nourished by Ninhursag’s milk”. She is the tutelary deity to several Sumerian leaders.

In the text ‘Creator of the Hoe’, she completed the birth of mankind after the heads had been uncovered by Enki’s hoe. In creation texts, Ninmah (another name for Ninhursag) acts as a midwife whilst the mother goddess Nammu makes different kinds of human individuals from lumps of clay at a feast given by Enki to celebrate the creation of humankind.

In the legend of Enki and Ninhursag, Ninhursag bore a daughter to Enki called Ninsar (“Lady Greenery”). Through Enki, Ninsar bore a daughter Ninkurra. Ninkurra, in turn, bore Enki a daughter named Uttu. Enki then pursued Uttu, who was upset because he didn’t care for her.

Uttu, on her ancestress Ninhursag’s advice buried Enki’s seed in the earth, whereupon eight plants (the very first) sprung up. Enki, seeing the plants, ate them, and became ill in eight organs of his body.

Enki had eaten forbidden flowers and was then cursed by Ninhursaga, who was later persuaded by the other gods to heal him. Ninhursag relents and takes Enki’s Ab (water, or semen) into her body, and gives birth to gods of healing of each part of the body.

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

The title “the mother of all living” was a title also given to the Hurrian goddess Hebat, who during Aramaean times also appears to have been identified with the goddess Hawwah, or Eve. Hebat was venerated all over the ancient Near East. Her name appears in many theophoric personal names. A king of Jerusalem mentioned in the Amarna letters was named Abdi-Heba, possibly meaning “Servant of Hebat”

This 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.

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. Some scholars suggest that this served as the basis for the story of Eve created from Adam’s rib in the Book of Genesis.

The poem of Enlil and Sud has a simple narrative for its theme: the courtship of Sud, the goddess of Suruppag and daughter of Nisaba, goddess of Eres, by the powerful Enlil, god of Nibru, and their subsequent marriage. Sud becomes Enlil’s consort Ninlil.

“In the sleeping quarters, in the flowered bed fragrant like a cedar forest, Enlil made love to his wife and took great pleasure in it. He sat her on his dais appropriate to the status of Enlil, and made the people pray to her. The lord whose statements are powerful also determined a fate for the Lady (Aruru), the woman of his favour; he gave her the name Nintur, the ‘Lady who gives birth’, the ‘Lady who spreads her knees’. (…) Proud woman, surpassing the mountains! You who always fulfil your desires—from now on, Sud, Enlil is the king and Ninlil is the queen. The goddess without name has a famous name now…”

Ninurta was believed to be the son of Enlil. In Lugal-e, his mother is identified as the goddess Ninmah, whom he renames Ninhursag, but, in Angim dimma, his mother is instead the goddess Ninlil.

In Sumerian religion, Ninlil (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, is the consort goddess of Enlil.

Her parentage is variously described. Most commonly she is called the daughter of Haia (god of stores) and Nunbarsegunu (or Ninshebargunnu [a goddess of barley] or Nisaba). Another Akkadian source says she is the daughter of Anu (aka An) and Antu (Sumerian Ki). Other sources call her a daughter of Anu and Nammu.

In a myth variously entitled by Samuel Noah Kramer as “The Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and later Ninurta Myth Lugal-e by Thorkild Jacobsen, Hursag is described as a mound of stones constructed by Ninurta after his defeat of a demon called Asag.

Ninurta’s mother Ninlil visits the location after this great victory. In return for her love and loyalty, Ninurta gives Ninlil the hursag as a gift. Her name is consequentially changed from Ninlil to Ninhursag or the “mistress of the Hursag”.

Second only to the goddess Inanna, Ninurta probably appears in more myths than any other Mesopotamian deity. In the Sumerian poem Lugal-e, also known as Ninurta’s Exploits, a demon known as Asag has been causing sickness and poisoning the rivers.

Ninurta’s talking mace Sharur urges him to battle Asag. Ninurta confronts Asag, who is protected by an army of stone warriors. Ninurta initially “flees like a bird”, but Sharur urges him to fight.

Ninurta slays Asag and his armies. Then Ninurta organizes the world, using the stones from the warriors he has defeated to build the mountains, which he designs so that the streams, lakes and rivers all flow into the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, making them useful for irrigation and agriculture.

Ninurta’s mother Ninmah descends from Heaven to congratulate her son on his victory. Ninurta dedicates the mountain of stone to her and renames her Ninhursag, meaning “Lady of the Mountain”.

Nisaba, the goddess of scribes, appears and writes down Ninurta’s victory, as well as Ninhursag’s new name. Finally, Ninurta returns home to Nippur, where he is celebrated as a hero.

This myth combines Ninurta’s role as a warrior deity with his role as an agricultural deity. The title Lugal-e means “O king!” and comes from the poem opening phrase in the original Sumerian. Ninurta’s Exploits is a modern title assigned to it by scholars.

A companion work to the Lugal-e is Angim dimma, or Ninurta’s Return to Nippur, which describes Ninurta’s return to Nippur after slaying Asag. It contains little narrative and is mostly a praise piece, describing Ninurta in larger-than-life terms and comparing him to the god An.

Hursag

Hursag (ḪUR.SAĜ) is a Sumerian term variously translated as meaning “mountain”, “hill”, “foothills” or “piedmont”. Thorkild Jacobsen extrapolated the translation in his later career to mean literally, “head of the valleys”.

Mountains play a certain role in Mesopotamian mythology and Assyro-Babylonian religion, associated with deities such as Anu, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursag. Some scholars also identify hursag with an undefined mountain range or strip of raised land outside the plain of Mesopotamia.

In a myth variously entitled by Samuel Noah Kramer as “The Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and later Ninurta Myth Lugal-e by Thorkild Jacobsen, Hursag is described as a mound of stones constructed by Ninurta after his defeat of a demon called Asag.

Ninurta’s mother Ninlil visits the location after this great victory. In return for her love and loyalty, Ninurta gives Ninlil the hursag as a gift. Her name is consequentially changed from Ninlil to Ninhursag or the “mistress of the Hursag”.

The hursag is described here in a clear cultural myth as a high wall, levee, dam or floodbank, used to restrain the excess mountain waters and floods caused by the melting snow and spring rain. The hursag is constructed with Ninurta’s skills in irrigation engineering and employed to improve the agriculture of the surrounding lands, farms and gardens where the water had previously been wasted.

Alpha and Omega 

Sometimes Ninhursag’s hair is depicted in an omega shape and at times she wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders. Frequently she carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash.

Her symbol, resembling the Greek letter omega Ω, has been depicted in art from approximately 3000 BC, although more generally from the early second millennium BC. It appears on some boundary stones – on the upper tier, indicating her importance.

The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, and may represent a stylized womb. Hathor is at times depicted on a mountain, so it may be that the two goddesses are connected. The symbol appears on very early imagery from Ancient Egypt.

Omega is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet. In the Greek numeric system, it has a value of 800. The word literally means “great O” (ō mega, mega meaning “great”), as opposed to omicron, which means “little O” (o mikron, micron meaning “little”).

Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals, it has a value of 1. It was derived from the Phoenician and Hebrew letter aleph – an ox or leader. In English, the noun “alpha” is used as a synonym for “beginning”, or “first” (in a series), reflecting its Greek roots.

Alpha, both as a symbol and term, is used to refer to or describe a variety of things, including the first or most significant occurrence of something. The New Testament has God declaring himself to be the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”

As the last letter of the Greek alphabet, Omega is often used to denote the last, the end, or the ultimate limit of a set, in contrast to alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet. In addition to the Greek alphabet, Omega was also adopted into the early Cyrillic alphabet.

Æsir and Vanir

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

Numerous theories have been proposed for the etymology of Vanir. Scholar R. I. Page says that, while there are no shortages of etymologies for the word, it is tempting to link the word with “Old Norse vinr, ‘friend’, and Latin Venus, ‘goddess of physical love.'”

The cognate term of ǫ́ss in Old English is ōs (plural ēse) denoting a deity in Anglo-Saxon paganism. The Old High German is ans, plural ensî. The Gothic language had ans- (based only on Jordanes who glossed anses with uncertain meaning, possibly ‘demi-god’ and presumably a Latinized form of actual plural *anseis). The reconstructed Proto-Germanic form is *ansuz (plural *ansiwiz).

The ansuz rune, ᚫ, was named after the Æsir. The a-rune, ansuz, ᚫ, Younger Futhark ᚬ, was probably named after the Æsir. The name of 𐌰 a in the Gothic alphabet is ahsa. The common Germanic name of the rune may thus have either been ansuz “God, one of the Æsir”, or ahsam “ear (of corn)”.

Since the name of Gothic a is attested in the Gothic alphabet as ahsa or aza, the common Germanic name of the rune may thus either have been *ansuz “god”, or *ahsam “ear (of wheat)”.

The Anglo-Saxon futhorc split the Elder Futhark a rune into three independent runes due to the development of the vowel system in Anglo-Frisian. These three runes are ōs ᚩ (transliterated o), ac “oak” ᚪ (transliterated a), and æsc ᚫ “ash” (transliterated æ).

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

The shape of the rune is likely from Neo-Etruscan a (Etruscan A), like Latin A ultimately from Phoenician aleph. The Phoenician letter is derived from an Egyptian hieroglyph depicting an ox’s head.

Alulim was both the first king of Eridu and the first king of Sumer, according to the mythological antediluvian section of the Sumerian King List. Enki, the god of Eridu, is said to have brought civilization to Sumer at this point, or just shortly before.

Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries. To the early Hebrews, Taurus was the first constellation in their zodiac and consequently it was represented by the first letter in their alphabet, Aleph.

The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC. In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU4.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”.

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

Alalu is god in Hurrian mythology. He is considered to have housed the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth. He was also called Alalus.

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

The name “Alalu” was borrowed from Semitic mythology and is a compound word made up of the Semitic definite article al and the Semitic deity Alû. The -u at the end of the word is an inflectional ending; thus, Alalu may also occur as Alali or Alala depending on the position of the word in the sentence. He was identified by the Greeks as Hypsistos.

The Younger Futhark rune is transliterated as ą to distinguish it from the new ár rune (ᛅ), which continues the jēran rune after loss of prevocalic *j- in Proto-Norse *jár (Old Saxon jār). Jera (also Jeran, Jeraz) is the conventional name of the j-rune ᛃ of the Elder Futhark, from a reconstructed Common Germanic stem *jēra- meaning “harvest, (good) year”.

The corresponding letter of the Gothic alphabet is Gothic 𐌾, named jēr, also expressing /j/. The Elder Futhark rune gives rise to the Anglo-Frisian runes ᛄ /j/, named gēr /jeːr/, and ᛡ /io/, named ior, and to the Younger Futhark ár rune ᛅ, which stood for /a/ as the /j/ phoneme had disappeared in Old Norse.

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

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

Odal rune

A Raetic variant is conjectured to be at the origin or parallel evolution of the Elder Futhark Odal rune ᛟ, also known as the Othala rune, which represents the o sound. Its reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *ōþalan “heritage; inheritance, inherited estate”.

It was in use for epigraphy during the 3rd to the 8th centuries. It is not continued in the Younger Futhark, disappearing from the Scandinavian record around the 6th century, but it survived in the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, and expressed the Old English œ phoneme during the 7th and 8th centuries. Its name is attested as ēðel in the Anglo-Saxon manuscript tradition.

The Common Germanic stem ōþala- or ōþila- “inherited estate” is an ablaut variant of the stem aþal-. It consists of a root aþ- and a suffix -ila- or -ala-. The suffix variant accounts for the umlauted form ēþel.

Germanic aþal‑ had a meaning of (approximately) “nobility”, and the derivation aþala- could express “lineage, (noble) race, descent, kind”, and thus “nobleman, prince” (whence Old English atheling), but also “inheritance, inherited estate, property, possession”. Its etymology is not clear, but it is usually compared to atta “father”.

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

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

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

Odal was associated with the concept of inheritance in ancient Scandinavian property law. Some of these laws are still in effect today, and govern Norwegian property. These are the Åsetesrett (homestead right), and the Odelsrett (allodial right).

Omphalo

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

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

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

Most accounts locate the Delphi omphalos in the adyton (sacred part of the temple) near the Pythia (oracle). The stone sculpture itself (which may be a copy), has a carving of a knotted net covering its surface, and a hollow center, widening towards the base.

The omphalos represents the stone which Rhea wrapped in swaddling clothes, pretending it was Zeus, in order to deceive Cronus. (Cronus was the father who swallowed his children so as to prevent them from usurping him as he had deposed his own father, Uranus).

Omphalos stones were believed to allow direct communication with the gods. It is suggested that the stone was hollow to allow intoxicating vapours breathed by the Oracle to channel through it. Python at Delphi was an earth spirit, who was conquered by Apollo and buried under the Omphalos.

Libra and Aries

Libra is a constellation and the seventh astrological sign in the Zodiac. It spans 180°–210° celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, Sun transits this area on average between (northern autumnal equinox) September 23 and October 23, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits the constellation of Libra from approximately October 16 to November 17.

Its name is Latin for weighing scales. Libra was known in Babylonian astronomy as MUL Zibanu (the “scales” or “balance”), or alternatively as the Claws of the Scorpion. The scales were held sacred to the sun god Shamash, who was also the patron of truth and justice.

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

It was also seen as the Scorpion’s Claws in ancient Greece. Since these times, Libra has been associated with law, fairness and civility. In Arabic zubānā means “scorpion’s claws”, and likely similarly in other Semitic languages: this resemblance of words may be why the Scorpion’s claws became the Scales.

It has also been suggested that the scales are an allusion to the fact that when the sun entered this part of the ecliptic at the autumnal equinox, the days and nights are equal. Libra’s status as the location of the equinox earned the equinox the name “First Point of Libra”, though this location ceased to coincide with the constellation in 730 because of the precession of the equinoxes.

The symbol of the scales is based on the Scales of Justice held by Themis, the Greek personification of divine law and custom. She became the inspiration for modern depictions of Lady Justice. The ruling planet of Libra is Venus, however some may consider Eris as its ruler as well.

Both the hours of the day and the hours of the night match each other. Thus why the Romans put so much trust in the “balanced sign”. According to the Romans in the First Century, Libra was a push over. The moon was said to be in Libra when Rome was founded. Everything was balanced under this righteous sign. The Roman writer Manilius once said that Libra was the sign “in which the seasons are balanced”.

In astrology, a celestial body is said to be in detriment, or exile, when it is positioned in the zodiac sign opposite the sign it rules (over which it has domicile). When a celestial body is in detriment it is said to be not comfortable in that sign and to tend to operate with the least strength. The detrimental sign of Libra is Aries.

Aries (meaning “ram”) is the first astrological sign in the zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°). Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign from approximately March 20 to April 21 each year.  It was strongly associated with Mars, both the planet and the god.

The symbol of the ram is based on the Chrysomallus, the gold-haired winged flying ram which was held in Colchis that provided the Golden Fleece. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship.

The First Point of Aries, the location of the vernal equinox, is named for the constellation. According to the tropical system of astrology, the Sun enters the sign of Aries when it reaches the March equinox, which time systems and the western calendar are rooted in, so as to occur on average on March 21.

The mother goddess

Enlil becomes Enki and Ninlil becomes Ninhursag

Enlil and Ninlil (the windy ones) – Ninhursag and Enki (the mound)

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On the origin of bread

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 17, 2018

At an 14,400-year-old Natufian hunter-gatherer site – a site known as Shubayqa 1 located in the Black Desert in northeastern Jordan – researchers have discovered the charred remains of a flatbread baked by hunter-gatherers 14,400 years ago. It is the oldest direct evidence of bread found to date, predating the advent of agriculture by at least 4,000 years.

The findings suggest that bread production based on wild cereals may have encouraged hunter-gatherers to cultivate cereals, and thus contributed to the agricultural revolution in the Neolithic period. Bread is otherwise strongly associated with agriculture, and is found in Neolithic sites in Anatolia and Europe from around 9,100 years ago.

Bread was central to the formation of early human societies. This in turn led to the formation of towns, as opposed to the nomadic lifestyle, and gave rise to more and more sophisticated forms of societal organization. From the western half of Asia, where wheat was domesticated, cultivation spread north and west, to Europe and North Africa.

In the northern Syrian, eastern Anatolian region of the Levant, the Epipaleolithic Natufian culture that existed from around 12,500 to 9,500 BC in the Levant, a region in the Eastern Mediterranean, developed the first fully agricultural culture with the addition of wild grains, later being supplemented with domesticated sheep and goats, which were probably domesticated first by the Zarzian culture of Northern Iraq and Iran, which like the Natufian culture may have also developed from Kebaran.

The Younger Dryas is often linked to the Neolithic Revolution, the adoption of agriculture in the Levant.[82][83] It is argued that the cold and dry Younger Dryas lowered the carrying capacity of the area and forced the sedentary Early Natufian population into a more mobile subsistence pattern. Further climatic deterioration is thought to have brought about cereal cultivation.

While there is relative consensus regarding the role of the Younger Dryas in the changing subsistence patterns during the Natufian, its connection to the beginning of agriculture at the end of the period is still being debated.

Çayönü is a Neolithic settlement in southeastern Anatolia inhabited around 7200 to 6600 BC. It is located forty kilometres north-west of Diyarbakır, at the foot of the Taurus mountains. It lies near the Boğazçay, a tributary of the upper Tigris River and the Bestakot, an intermittent stream.

According to Der Spiegel of either 6 March or 3 June 2006, the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne has discovered that the genetically common ancestor of 68 contemporary types of cereal still grows as a wild plant in the Vavilov zone on the slopes of Mount Karaca (Karaca Dağ), which is located in close vicinity to Çayönü.

The results strongly suggest that slopes of Karaca Dağ provided the site for the first domestication of einkorn wheat approximately 9,000 years ago. Robert Braidwood wrote that “insofar as unit HA can be considered as representing all of the major pre-historic occupation at Cayonu, cultivated emmer along with cultivated einkorn was present from the earliest sub-phase.”

Çayönü, Cafer Höyük, Nevalı Çori is possibly the place where the pig (Sus scrofa) was first domesticated. The wild fauna include wild boar, wild sheep, wild goat and cervids. The Neolithic environment included marshes and swamps near the Boğazçay, open wood, patches of steppe and almond-pistachio forest-steppe to the south. It’s also the site where the world’s taurine cattle were domesticated from the aurochs.

Nevalı Çori (Turkish: Nevali Çori) was an early Neolithic settlement on the middle Euphrates, in Şanlıurfa Province, Southeastern Anatolia, Turkey. The site is known for having some of the world’s oldest known temples and monumental sculpture. Together with the earlier site of Göbekli Tepe, it has revolutionised scientific understanding of the Eurasian Neolithic period. The oldest domesticated Einkorn wheat was found there.

Parallels are known from Cayönü and Göbekli Tepe. Monolithic pillars similar to those at Göbekli Tepe were built into its dry stone walls, its interior contained two free-standing pillars of 3 m height. The excavator assumes light flat roofs. Similar structures are only known from Göbekli Tepe so far.

Portasar (Armenian for “Mountain Navel”), also known as Göbekli Tepe (Turkish for “Potbelly Hill”) is an archaeological site in the Southeastern Anatolia 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. The surviving structures, then, not only predate pottery, metallurgy, and the invention of writing or the wheel, but were built before the so-called Neolithic Revolution, i.e., the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry around 9000 BCE. But the construction of Göbekli Tepe implies organization of an advanced order not hitherto associated with Paleolithic, PPNA, or PPNB societies.

The site was abandoned after the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB). Around the beginning of the 8th millennium BCE Göbekli Tepe lost its importance. The advent of agriculture and animal husbandry brought new realities to human life in the area, and the “Stone-age zoo” apparently lost whatever significance it had had for the region’s older, foraging communities.

But the complex was not simply abandoned and forgotten to be gradually destroyed by the elements. Instead, each enclosure was deliberately buried under as much as 300 to 500 cubic meters (390 to 650 cu yd) of refuse consisting mainly of small limestone fragments, stone vessels, and stone tools. Many animal, even human, bones have also been identified in the fill. Why the enclosures were buried is unknown, but it preserved them for posterity.

Gobekli Tepe is one of several sites in the vicinity of Karaca Dağ, an area which geneticists suspect may have been the original source of at least some of our cultivated grains. Recent DNA analysis of modern domesticated wheat compared with wild wheat has shown that its DNA is closest in sequence to wild wheat found on Karaca Dağ 30 km (20 mi) away from the site, suggesting that this is where modern wheat was first domesticated.

Karaca in eastern Anatolia was also known as ‘Mount Masia’. The traditional Armenian name of Ararat is Masis or Massis. However, nowadays, the terms Masis and Ararat are both widely, often interchangeably, used in Armenian. The folk etymology expressed in Movses Khorenatsi’s History of Armenia derives the name from king Amasya, the great-grandson of the legendary Armenian patriarch Hayk, who is said to have called the mountain Masis after himself.

According to Russian orientalist Anatoly Novoseltsev the word Masis derives from Middle Persian masist, “the largest.” According to Armenian historian Sargis Petrosyan the mas root in Masis means “mountain”, cf. Proto-Indo-European *mņs-. According to archaeologist Armen Petrosyan it originates from the Māšu (Mashu) mountain mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which sounded Māsu in Assyrian.

Mashu, as described in the Epic of Gilgamesh of Mesopotamian mythology, is a great cedar mountain through which the hero-king Gilgamesh passes via a tunnel on his journey to Dilmun after leaving the Cedar Forest, a forest of ten thousand leagues span. Siduri, the Alewife, lived on the shore, associated with “the Waters of Death” that Gilgamesh had to cross to reach Utnapishtim, the far-away.

Utnapishtim or Utanapishtim is a character in the Epic of Gilgamesh who is tasked by Enki (Ea) to abandon his worldly possessions and create a giant ship to be called Preserver of Life. He was also tasked with bringing his wife, family, and relatives along with the craftsmen of his village, baby animals, and grains. The oncoming flood would wipe out all animals and people not on the ship, a concept similar to the biblical story of Noah’s Ark.

The corresponding location of Mashu in reality has been the topic of speculation, as no confirming evidence has been found. It has been suggested that in the Sumerian version, through its association with the sun god Utu, “(t)he Cedar Mountain is implicitly located in the east, whereas in the Akkadian versions, Gilgamesh’s destination (is) removed from the east” and “explicitly located in the north west, in or near Lebanon”.

The Turkish name of Ararat is Ağrı (“pain” or “sorrow”) Dağı (“mountain”), i.e. “Mountain of Ağrı”. This name has been known since the late Middle Ages. The traditional Persian name is Kūh-e Nūḥ (“mountain of Noah”). The Kurdish name of the mountain is çiyayê Agirî (“fiery mountain”).

The mountain is known as Ararat in European languages, however, none of the native peoples have traditionally referred to the mountain by that name. Ararat (sometimes Ararad) is the Greek version of the Hebrew spelling RRṬ of the name Urartu, a kingdom that existed in the Armenian plateau in the 9th–6th centuries BC.

In the trilingual Behistun Inscription, carved in 521 or 520 BC by the order of Darius I, the country referred to as Urartu in Babylonian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in the Elamite language.

It is unknown what language was spoken by the peoples of Urartu at the time of the existence of the kingdom, but there is linguistic evidence of contact between the proto-Armenian language and the Urartian language at an early date (sometime between the 3rd—2nd millennium BC), occurring prior to the formation of Urartu as a kingdom.

The Hurro-Urartian languages are an extinct language family of the Ancient Near East, comprising only two known languages: Hurrian and Urartian, both of which were spoken in the Taurus mountains area. However, being heirs to the Urartian realm, the earliest identifiable ancestors of the Armenians are the peoples of Urartu.

German orientalist and Bible critic Wilhelm Gesenius speculated that the word “Ararat” came from the Sanskrit word Arjanwartah, meaning “holy ground.” Armenian historians usually tie the origin of the word “Ararat” to the root of the endonym of the indigenous peoples of the Armenian Highland (“ar–”), including the Armenians.

In the 33rd year of his reign, while he was in the Armenian Highlands in 1446 BC, Thutmose III of Egypt, referred to the people of Ermenen (Armenians), and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

Since ancient times the cult of sun worship occupied a special place in Armenian mythology. The main proto-Armenian god was Ar, the god of Sun, Fire and Revival. It is connected with light, sun, fire found in Ararat (the people of Ar), Arev (Sun), Arpi (Light of heaven), Ararich (God or Creator), Aryan, Rta, Arta etc.

The name is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning “assemble/create” which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta etc. The names Armen and Arman, feminine Arminé, are common given names by Armenians. Armin is also a Persian given name, and is an ancient Zoroastrian given name, meaning Guardian of Aryan Land. Armin meanings in Urdu & English is Dweller Of The Garden Of Eden.

The Proto-Indo-Iranian term is hypothesized to have proto-Indo-European origins, while it is probably a Near-Eastern loanword from the Ugaritic ary, kinsmen. In Akkadian ayyaru means “young man”. In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome.

Maryannu (the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix) is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which existed in many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi.

At the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names. It has been postulated the Proto-Indo-European root word is *haerós with the meanings “members of one’s own (ethnic) group, peer, freeman” as well as the Indo-Iranian meaning of Aryan. Some authors have connected the Indo-European root *ar- meaning “to assemble”.

In Hittite arā- means “friend” from arā, “right, proper(ly)”, derived in turn from Sanskrit áram, “fittingly” and ṛtá-, “truth, order” as well as Greek “to fit together, construct, equip” (< IE *haer-, “fit”), with its derivative “friendship”. The word is probably non-Semitic, possibly a kulturwort, a word borrowed among many languages denoting a cross-cultural concept.

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

Both Vedic Mitra and Avestan Mithra derive from an Indo-Iranian common noun *mitra-, generally reconstructed to have meant “covenant, treaty, agreement, promise.” This meaning is preserved in Avestan miθra “covenant.” In Sanskrit and modern Indo-Aryan languages, mitra means “friend,” one of the aspects of bonding and alliance.

The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. It is suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but it has later been shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.

Graeco-(Armeno)-Aryan is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family, ancestral to the Greek language, the Armenian language, and the Indo-Iranian languages. Graeco-Aryan unity would have become divided into Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian by the mid-third millennium BC.

Conceivably, Proto-Armenian would have been located between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, consistent with the fact that Armenian shares certain features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek (s > h).

Graeco-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Indo-European homeland to be located in the Armenian Highlands, the “Armenian hypothesis”. Early and strong evidence was given by Euler’s 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.

Used in tandem with the Graeco-Armenian hypothesis, the Armenian language would also be included under the label Aryano-Greco-Armenic, splitting into proto-Greek/Phrygian and “Armeno-Aryan” (ancestor of Armenian and Indo-Iranian).

Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is a legendary Sumerian account composed in the Neo-Sumerian period (ca. 21st century BC). It is one of a series of accounts describing the conflicts between Enmerkar and the unnamed king of Aratta.

Aratta is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them. Aratta is remote and difficult to reach. It is home to the goddess Inanna, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk.

Because it gives a Sumerian account of the confusion of tongues, and also involves Enmerkar constructing temples at Eridu and Uruk, it has, since the time of Samuel Kramer, been compared with the Tower of Babel narrative in the Book of Genesis.

Asha or arta is a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called “the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism”. The significance of the term is complex, with a highly nuanced range of meaning. It is commonly summarized in accord with its contextual implications of ‘truth’ and ‘right(eousness)’, ‘order’ and ‘right working’.

Its Old Persian equivalent is arta-. In Middle Iranian languages the term appears as ard-. Ardini, known as Muṣaṣir in Assyrian, which is Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake, was an ancient city of Urartu, attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC. The city’s tutelary deity was dḪaldi, also known as Khaldi, who was one of the three chief deities of Urartu. Some sources claim that the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation, Hayk, is derived from Ḫaldi.

The word is also the proper name of the divinity Asha, the Amesha Spenta that is the hypostasis or “genius” of “Truth” or “Righteousness”. In the Younger Avesta, this figure is more commonly referred to as Asha Vahishta (Aša Vahišta, Arta Vahišta), “Best Truth”. The Middle Persian descendant is Ashawahist or Ardwahisht; New Persian Ardibehesht or Ordibehesht.

In the Vedic religion, Ṛta or ṛtaṃ (“that which is properly/ excellently joined; order, rule; truth”) is the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it. In the hymns of the Vedas, Ṛta is described as that which is ultimately responsible for the proper functioning of the natural, moral and sacrificial orders.

Vedic ṛtá and its Avestan equivalent aša both derive from Proto-Indo-Iranian *Hr̥tás “truth”, which in turn continues Proto-Indo-European *hr-tós “properly joined, right, true”, from the root *her-. The derivative noun ṛtam is defined as “fixed or settled order, rule, divine law or truth”. However, the term can be translated as “that which has moved in a fitting manner”, abstractly as “universal law” or “cosmic order”, or simply as “truth”. The latter meaning dominates in the Avestan cognate to Ṛta, aša.

The term appears in Vedic texts and in post-Vedic texts, both as Ṛta and derivatives of the term. For example, in the 2nd-century BCE text Mahabhasya of Patanjali, he explains Ṛtaka to be the grammatically correct form of name for a son, where then the name would mean “truthling”.

Conceptually, it is closely allied to the injunctions and ordinances thought to uphold it, collectively referred to as Dharma, and the action of the individual in relation to those ordinances, referred to as Karma – two terms which eventually eclipsed Ṛta in importance as signifying natural, religious and moral order in later Hinduism.

Sanskrit scholar Maurice Bloomfield referred to Ṛta as “one of the most important religious conceptions of the “Rigveda”, going on to note that, “from the point of view of the history of religious ideas we may, in fact we must, begin the history of Hindu religion at least with the history of this conception”.

Oldenberg (1894) surmised that the concept of Ṛta originally arose in the Indo-Aryan period from a consideration of the natural order of the world and of the occurrences taking place within it as doing so with a kind of causal necessity.

Both Vedic Ṛta and Avestan aša were conceived of as having a tripartite function which manifested itself in the physical, ethical and ritual domains. In the context of Vedic religion, those features of nature which either remain constant or which occur on a regular basis were seen to be a manifestation of the power of Ṛta in the physical cosmos. In the human sphere, Ṛta was understood to manifest itself as the imperative force behind both the moral order of society as well as the correct performance of Vedic rituals.

The notion of a universal principle of natural order is by no means unique to the Vedas, and Ṛta has been compared to similar ideas in other cultures, such as Ma’at in Ancient Egyptian religion, Moira and the Logos in Greek paganism, and the Tao.

Vedic Mitra is a prominent deity of the Rigveda distinguished by a relationship to Varuna, the protector of rta. Together with Varuna, he counted among the Adityas, a group of solar deities, also in later Vedic texts. Vedic Mitra is the patron divinity of honesty, friendship, contracts and meetings. In Zoroastrianism, Mithra is a member of the trinity of ahuras, protectors of asha/arta, “truth” or “[that which is] right”.

The Natufian communities may be the ancestors of the builders of the first Neolithic settlements of the region, which may have been the earliest in the world. Natufians founded Jericho which may be the oldest city in the world.

The culture was unusual in that it supported a sedentary or semi-sedentary population even before the introduction of agriculture. Some evidence suggests deliberate cultivation of cereals, specifically rye, by the Natufian culture, at Tell Abu Hureyra, the site of earliest evidence of agriculture in the world. Generally, though, Natufians exploited wild cereals. Animals hunted included gazelles.

According to Christy G. Turner II, there is archaeological and physical anthropological evidence for a relationship between the modern Semitic-speaking populations of the Levant, Persian Gulf and the Natufians. However modern Levantines have substantial Iran Neolithic/Chalcolithic, Anatolia Neolithic and Caucasus Hunter Gatherer-like admixture since the Bronze Age.

The Natufian developed in the same region as the earlier Kebaran industry (Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine/Israel). It is generally seen as a successor, which evolved out of elements within that preceding culture. There were also other industries in the region, such as the Mushabian culture of the Negev and Sinai, which are sometimes distinguished from the Kebaran or believed to have been involved in the evolution of the Natufian.

The Kebaran or Kebarian culture was an archaeological culture in the eastern Mediterranean area (c. 18,000 to 12,500 BP), named after its type site, Kebara Cave south of Haifa. The Kebaran were a highly mobile nomadic population, composed of hunters and gatherers in the Levant and Sinai areas who used microlithic tools.

The Kebaran culture, with its use of microliths, is associated with the use of the bow and arrow and the domestication of the dog. The Kebaran is also characterised by the earliest collecting of wild cereals, known due to the uncovering of grain grinding tools. It was the first step towards the Neolithic Revolution.

The Kebaran is preceded by the Athlitian phase of the Antelian, an Upper Paleolithic phase of the Levant that evolved from the Emiran culture, and followed by the proto-agrarian Natufian culture of the Epipalaeolithic. The Emiran culture existed in the Levant between the Middle Paleolithic and the Upper Paleolithic periods.

Emiran culture apparently developed from the local Mousterian without rupture, keeping numerous elements of the Levalloise-Mousterian, together with the locally typical Emireh point. The Mousterian is a techno-complex (archaeological industry) of flint lithic tools associated primarily with Neanderthals, as well as with the earliest anatomically modern humans in Eurasia.

The Emireh point is the type tool of stage one of the Upper Paleolithic, first identified in the Emiran culture. Numerous stone blade tools were used, including curved knives similar to those found in the Chatelperronian culture of Western Europe. Like the Chattelperronian, Elmireh is associated with late Neanderthal people rather than with Homo sapiens.

The Emiran eventually evolved into the Antelian culture, still of Levalloise tradition but with some Aurignacian influences. The Aurignacian is an archaeological tradition of the Upper Palaeolithic associated with European early modern humans (EEMH). The sophistication and self-awareness demonstrated in the work led archaeologists to consider the makers of Aurignacian artifacts the first modern humans in Europe.

It is thought to have originated from the earlier Levantine Ahmarian culture, a Paleolithic archeological industry in Levant dated at 46,000-42,000 BP and thought to be related to Levantine Emiran and younger European Aurignacian cultures. Ahmarian is considered to be the likely source of first modern humans who migrated to Europe to form Aurignacian culture known as Cro-Magnons.

Although European Bohunician culture that may be linked to Emiran and Ahmarian itself and dated at 48,000 BP may predate it. Bohunician assemblages are considered similar to Emiran and Ahmarian ones and Bohunician culture may be linked to them.

Bohunician industry was a paleolithic archeological industry in South-Central and East Europe. The earliest artifacts assigned to this culture are dated using radiocarbon dating at 48,000 BP. Which may make the earliest presence of modern humans in Europe predating Aurignacian.

An Early Aurignacian or Proto-Aurignacian stage is dated between about 43,000 and 37,000 years ago. The Aurignacian proper lasts from about 37,000 to 33,000 years ago. A Late Aurignacian phase transitional with the Gravettian dates to about 33,000 to 26,000 years ago. The type site is Aurignac, Haute-Garonne, south-west France.

On genetic evidence it has been argued that both Aurignacian and the Dabba culture of North Africa came from an earlier big game hunting Aurignacian culture of the Levant.

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The origin of the “god issue”

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 15, 2018

According to A. Audin, who interprets the god as the issue of a long process of development, it started 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.

Isimud (also Isinu; Usmû; Usumu (Akkadian) 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.

Lammu

In art, lamassu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL; Sumerian: lamma; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus) were depicted as hybrids, with bodies of either winged bulls or lions and heads of human males. 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: alad; Akkadian, šēdu) which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu.

The Lammasu or Lumasi represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations. 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.

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.

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. 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”.

Gobekli 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.

(Di) Janus and (J) Diana 

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.

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.

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. 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 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 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.

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.

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 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. Its name is Latin for “twins”. 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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The spread of the bull

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 15, 2018

Haplogroup J2 is thought to have appeared somewhere in the Middle East towards the end of the last glaciation, between 15,000 and 22,000 years ago. It is likely that J2 men had settled over most of Anatolia, the South Caucasus and Iran by the end of the Last Glaciation 12,000 years ago.

The oldest known J2a samples at present were identified in remains from the Hotu Cave in northern Iran, dating from 9100-8600 BC, and from Kotias Klde in Georgia, dating from 7940-7600 BC. This confirms that haplogroup J2 was already found around the Caucasus and the southern Caspian region during the Mesolithic period.

The first appearance of J2 during the Neolithic came in the form of a 10,000 year-old J2b sample from Tepe Abdul Hosein in north-western Iran in what was then the Pre-Pottery Neolithic.

The present geographic distribution of haplogroup J2 suggests that it could initially have dispersed during the Neolithic from the Zagros mountains and northern Mesopotamia across the Iranian plateau to South Asia and Central Asia, and across the Caucasus to Russia (Volga-Ural).

Notwithstanding its strong presence in West Asia today, haplogroup J2 does not seem to have been one of the principal lineages associated with the rise and diffusion of cereal farming from the Fertile Crescent and Anatolia to Europe.

The development of early cereal agriculture is thought to have been conducted by men belonging primarily to haplogroups G2a (northern branch, from Anatolia to Europe), as well as E1b1b and T1a (southern branch, from the Levant to the Arabian peninsula and North Africa).

The first expansion probably correlated with the diffusion of domesticated of cattle and goats (starting c. 8000-9000 BCE), rather than with the development of cereal agriculture in the Levant. A second expansion would have occured with the advent of metallurgy.

It is very likely that J2a, J1-Z1828, L1b, T1a-P77 and G2a-L293 were the dominant male lineages the Early Bronze Age Kura-Araxes culture (3,400-2,000 BCE), which expanded from the South Caucasus to eastern Anatolia, northern Mesopotamia and the western Iran.

From then on, J2 could have propagated through Anatolia and the Eastern Mediterranean with the rise of early civilizations during the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age. Quite a few ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilisations flourished in territories where J2 lineages were preponderant.

This is the case of the Hattians, the Hurrians, the Etruscans, the Minoans, the Greeks, the Phoenicians (and their Carthaginian offshoot), the Israelites, and to a lower extent also the Romans, the Assyrians and the Persians. All the great seafaringcivilisations from the middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age were dominated by J2 men.

J2 men would have definitely have represented a sizeable portion of the population of Bronze and Iron Age civilizations such as the Hurrians, the Assyrians or the Hittites. It is very possible that bronze technology spread from the South Caucasus across the Iranian plateau until the Indus Valley, giving rise to the Harappan Civilisation.

The Minoan civilization emerged from 2,700 BC and could have been founded by colonists from the Kura-Araxes culture who would have brought bronze working with them. Modern Cretans have the highest percentage of G2a (11%), J1 (8.5%), J2a (32%), and L + T (2.5% together) in Greece (and the highest percentage of J1 and J2a in all Europe for that matter), the three haplogroups associated with the Kura-Araxes culture.

There is a distinct association of ancient J2 civilisations with bull worship. The oldest evidence of a cult of the bull can be traced back to Neolithic central Anatolia, notably at the sites of Çatalhöyük and Alaca Höyük. Bull depictions are omnipresent in Minoan frescos and ceramics in Crete.

Bull-masked terracotta figurines and bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus (dating back as far as the Neolithic, the first presumed expansion of J2 from West Asia). The Hattians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaaites, and Carthaginians all had bull deities (in contrast with Indo-European or East Asian religions).

The sacred bull of Hinduism, Nandi, present in all temples dedicated to Shiva or Parvati, does not have an Indo-European origin, but can be traced back to Indus Valley civilisation. Minoan Crete, Hittite Anatolia, the Levant, Bactria and the Indus Valley also shared a tradition of bull leaping, the ritual of dodging the charge of a bull. It survives today in the traditional bullfighting of Andalusia in Spain and Provence in France, two regions with a high percentage of J2 lineages.

It has been hypothetised that R1b people alongside neighbouring J2 tribes were the first to domesticate cattle in northern Mesopotamia some 10,500 years ago. R1b tribes descended from mammoth hunters, and when mammoths went extinct, they started hunting other large game such as bisons and aurochs. With the increase of the human population in the Fertile Crescent from the beginning of the Neolithic (starting 12,000 years ago), selective hunting and culling of herds started replacing indiscriminate killing of wild animals.

The increased involvement of humans in the life of aurochs, wild boars and goats led to their progressive taming. Cattle herders probably maintained a nomadic or semi-nomadic existence, while other people in the Fertile Crescent (presumably represented by haplogroups E1b1b, G and T) settled down to cultivate the land or keep smaller domesticates.

The analysis of bovine DNA has revealed that all the taurine cattle (Bos taurus) alive today descend from a population of only 80 aurochs. The earliest evidence of cattle domestication dates from circa 8,500 BCE in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic cultures in the Taurus Mountains.

The two oldest archaeological sites showing signs of cattle domestication are the villages of Çayönü Tepesi in southeastern Turkey and Dja’de el-Mughara in northern Iraq, two sites only 250 km away from each others. This is presumably the area from which R1b lineages started expanding – or in other words the “original homeland” of R1b.

The early R1b cattle herders would have split in at least three groups. One branch (M335) remained in Anatolia, but judging from its extreme rarity today wasn’t very successful, perhaps due to the heavy competition with other Neolithic populations in Anatolia, or to the scarcity of pastures in this mountainous environment.

A second branch migrated south to the Levant, where it became the V88 branch. Some of them searched for new lands south in Africa, first in Egypt, then colonising most of northern Africa, from the Mediterranean coast to the Sahel. After reaching the Maghreb, R1b-V88 cattle herders could have crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to Iberia, probably accompanied by G2 farmers, J1 and T1a goat herders.

The third branch (P297), which is the most common form in Europe, crossed the Caucasus into the vast Pontic-Caspian Steppe, which provided ideal grazing grounds for cattle. Both R1b-V88 and R1b-M269 probably split soon after cattle were domesticated, approximately 10,500 years ago (8,500 BCE).

R1b-M269 split into two factions: R1b1a1 (M73), which went east along the Caspian Sea to Central Asia, and R1b1a2 (M269), which at first remained in the North Caucasus and the Pontic Steppe between the Dnieper and the Volga.

It is not yet clear whether M73 actually migrated across the Caucasus and reached Central Asia via Kazakhstan, or if it went south through Iran and Turkmenistan. In any case, M73 would be a pre-Indo-European branch of R1b, just like V88 and M335.

R1b-M269 is closely associated with the diffusion of Indo-European languages, as attested by its presence in all regions of the world where Indo-European languages were spoken in ancient times, from the Atlantic coast of Europe to the Indian subcontinent.

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Hydra, Cancer and The Serpent

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 15, 2018

The Snake is a universal symbol of immortality and creativity in myth through out the ages and in virtually all lands inhabited by humans.  Many snakes shed their skin at various times, revealing a shiny new skin underneath.   Thus snakes have become symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing.  We find images representing the power of the Snake. The snake symbolizes everything from the Devil to the highest order of angels.

The serpent is often symbolically associated with the renewal of life because it sheds its skin periodically. A similar belief existed in the ancient Mesopotamians and Semites, and appears also in Hindu mythology. The Pelasgian myth of creation refers to snakes as the reborn dead. In the Minoan religion the snake was the protector of the house, as it later appears also in Greek religion. Among the Greek Dionysiac cult it signified wisdom and was the symbol of fertility.

In ancient Mesopotamia, Nirah, the sukkal, or personal attendant, of Ištaran, the local god of the Sumerian city-state of Der, was identified with snakes and may appear in the form of a snake on kudurrus (boundary stones).

Representations of two intertwined serpents are common in Sumerian art and Neo-Sumerian artwork and still appear sporadically on cylinder seals and amulets until as late as the thirteenth century BC.

The horned viper (Cerastes cerastes) appears in Kassite and Neo-Assyrian kudurrus and is invoked in Assyrian texts as a magical protective entity. A dragon-like creature with horns, the body and neck of a snake, the forelegs of a lion, and the hind-legs of a bird appears in Mesopotamian art from the Akkadian Period until the Hellenistic Period (323 BCE–31 BCE).

This creature, known in Akkadian as the mušḫuššu, meaning “furious serpent”, was used as a symbol for particular deities and also as a general protective emblem. It seems to have originally been the attendant of the Underworld god Ninazu, but later became the attendant to the Hurrian storm-god Tishpak, as well as, later, Ninazu’s son Ningishzida, the Babylonian national god Marduk, the scribal god Nabu, and the Assyrian national god Ashur.

Snake cults were well established in Canaanite religion in the Bronze Age, for archaeologists have uncovered serpent cult objects in Bronze Age strata at several pre-Israelite cities in Canaan: two at Megiddo, one at Gezer, one in the sanctum sanctorum of the Area H temple at Hazor, and two at Shechem.

In the surrounding region, serpent cult objects figured in other cultures. A late Bronze Age Hittite shrine in northern Syria contained a bronze statue of a god holding a serpent in one hand and a staff in the other. In 6th-century Babylon, a pair of bronze serpents flanked each of the four doorways of the temple of Esagila.

At the Babylonian New Year’s festival, the priest was to commission from a woodworker, a metalworker and a goldsmith two images one of which “shall hold in its left hand a snake of cedar, raising its right [hand] to the god Nabu”. At the tell of Tepe Gawra, at least seventeen Early Bronze Age Assyrian bronze serpents were recovered.

In the Gospel of John 3:14–15, Jesus makes direct comparison between the raising up of the Son of Man and the act of Moses in raising up the serpent as a sign, using it as a symbol associated with salvation: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”.

The snake goddess

The snake goddess’s Minoan name may be related with A-sa-sa-ra, a possible interpretation of inscriptions found in Linear A texts. Although Linear A is not yet deciphered it is related tentatively to the inscription a-sa-sa-ra-me which seems to have accompanied goddesses, with the Hittite išhaššara, which means “mistress”. Some scholars relate the snake goddess with the Phoenician Astarte (virgin daughter).

The snake goddess was the goddess of fertility and sexuality and her worship was connected with an orgiastic cult. Her temples were decorated with serpentine motifs. Astarte was connected with fertility, sexuality, and war. Her symbols were the lion, the horse, the sphinx, the dove, and a star within a circle indicating the planet Venus.

In a related Greek myth Europa, who is sometimes identified with Astarte in ancient sources, was a Phoenician princess whom Zeus abducted and carried to Crete. In Greek mythology, Europa was the mother of King Minos of Crete, a woman with Phoenician origin of high lineage, and after whom the continent Europe was named.

It is suggested that the snake goddess reduced in legend into a folklore heroine was Ariadne (utterly pure or the very holy one), who is often depicted surrounded by Maenads and satyrs. Ariadne, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of Minos (the King of Crete and a son of Zeus) and Pasiphaë (Minos’ queen and a daughter of Helios).

Ariadne is mostly associated with mazes and labyrinths because of her involvement in the myths of the Minotaur and Theseus. Her father put her in charge of the labyrinth where sacrifices were made as part of reparations (either to Poseidon or to Athena, depending on the version of the myth); later, she helped Theseus overcome the Minotaur and save the potential sacrificial victims. In other stories, she became the bride of the god Dionysus, with the question of her being mortal or a goddess varying in those accounts.

Wadjet

The snake goddess has been linked with the Egyptian snake goddess Wadjet (“Green One”), known to the Greek world as Uto or Buto among other names including Wedjat, Uadjet, and Udjo. Statuettes similar to the “snake goddess” identified as priest of Wadjud and magician have been found in Egypt.

She was one of the earliest Egyptian deities and was often depicted as a cobra, as she is the serpent goddess. The center of her cult was in Per-Wadjet, later called Buto by the Greeks. She became the patroness of the Nile Delta and the protector of all of Lower Egypt, and upon unification with Upper Egypt, the joint protector and patron of all of Egypt “goddess” of Upper Egypt.

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

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

She was also the protector of kings and of women in childbirth. Wadjet was said to be the nurse of the infant god Horus. With the help of his mother Isis, they protected Horus from his treacherous uncle, Set, when they took refuge in the swamps of the Nile Delta.

The “Going Forth of Wadjet” was celebrated on December 25 with chants and songs. An annual festival held in the city celebrated Wadjet on April 21. Other important dates for special worship of her were June 21, the summer solstice, and March 14. She also was assigned the fifth hour of the fifth day of the moon.

As the patron goddess, she was associated with the land and depicted as a snake-headed woman or a snake—usually an Egyptian cobra, a venomous snake common to the region; sometimes she was depicted as a woman with two snake heads and, at other times, a snake with a woman’s head. Her oracle was in the renowned temple in Per-Wadjet that was dedicated to her worship and gave the city its name. This oracle may have been the source for the oracular tradition that spread to Greece from Egypt.

Wadjets existed long before the rise of this cult when they originated as the eye of Wadjet as a cobra. The Egyptian word wꜢḏ signifies blue and green. It is also the name for the well-known “Eye of the Moon”. Wadjets are also the name of the symbols called the Eye of the Moon, Eye of Hathor, the Eye of Horus, and the Eye of Ra—depending upon the dates of the references to the symbols.

Indeed, in later times, she was often depicted simply as a woman with a snake’s head, or as a woman wearing the uraeus (from the Greek ouraîos, “on its tail”; from Egyptian jʿr.t (iaret), “rearing cobra”), the stylized, upright form of an Egyptian cobra (asp, serpent, or snake), used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity and divine authority in ancient Egypt.

The image of Wadjet with the sun disk is called the uraeus, and it was the emblem on the crown of the rulers of Lower Egypt. The Uraeus is a symbol for the goddess Wadjet.  The pharaohs wore the uraeus as a head ornament: either with the body of Wadjet atop the head, or as a crown encircling the head; this indicated Wadjet’s protection and reinforced the pharaoh’s claim over the land.

In whatever manner that the Uraeus was displayed upon the pharaoh’s head, it was, in effect, part of the pharaoh’s crown. The pharaoh was recognized only by wearing the Uraeus, which conveyed legitimacy to the ruler. There is evidence for this tradition even in the Old Kingdom during the third millennium BCE. Several goddesses associated with or being considered aspects of Wadjet are depicted wearing the uraeus as well.

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

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

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

The uraeus originally had been her body alone, which wrapped around or was coiled upon the head of the pharaoh or another deity. Wadjet was depicted as a cobra. As patron and protector, later Wadjet often was shown coiled upon the head of Ra; in order to act as his protection, this image of her became the uraeus symbol used on the royal crowns as well.

Another early depiction of Wadjet is as a cobra entwined around a papyrus stem, beginning in the Predynastic era (prior to 3100 BC) and it is thought to be the first image that shows a snake entwined around a staff symbol.

This is a sacred image that appeared repeatedly in the later images and myths of cultures surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, called the caduceus, which may have had separate origins. Her image also rears up from the staff of the “flagpoles” that are used to indicate deities, as seen in the hieroglyph for “uraeus” and for “goddess” in other places.

Hydra and the serpent

There were two “serpent” constellations in Babylonian astronomy, known as Mušḫuššu and Bašmu. It appears that Mušḫuššu was depicted as a hybrid of a dragon, a lion and a bird, and loosely corresponded to Hydra, the water snake. Bašmu was a horned serpent (c.f. Ningishzida) and roughly corresponds to the constellation of Eudoxus of Cnidus on which the Serpens of Ptolemy is based.

The other Babylonian constellation, called Bašmu, was depicted as a horned serpent (c.f. Ningishzida), and loosely corresponded to a constellation nemed óphis (“snake”) created by the Greek astronomer Eudoxus of Cnidus in the 4th century BC, on which Ptolemy’s Serpens constellation was based.

The Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian mythology celebrated the deeds of the war and hunting god Ninurta, who is credited with slaying 11 monsters on an expedition to the mountains, including a seven-headed serpent, who is possibly identical with the Mushmahhu and Bashmu, whose constellation (despite having a single Head) was later associated by the Greeks with the Hydra.

The Greek constellation of Hydra is an adaptation of a Babylonian constellation: the MUL.APIN includes a “serpent” constellation (MUL.DINGIR.MUŠ) that loosely corresponds to Hydra. It is one of two Babylonian “serpent” constellations (the other being the origin of the Greek Serpens), a mythological hybrid of serpent, lion and bird.

The constellation Hydra was known in Babylonian astronomical texts as Bashmu (“the Serpent”; MUŠ.ŠÀ.TÙR or MUŠ.ŠÀ.TUR, lit. “Venomous Snake”). The constellation is also sometimes associated in Babylonian contexts with Marduk’s dragon, the Mushhushshu.

Eudoxus of Cnidus (c. 390-337 BC) was an ancient Greek astronomer, mathematician, scholar, and student of Archytas and Plato. His name Eudoxus means “honored” or “of good repute” (from eu “good” and doxa “opinion, belief, fame”). It is analogous to the Latin name Benedictus.

The Serpent

Ophiuchus (“Serpent-Bearer”) is a large constellation straddling the celestial equator. It is commonly represented as a man grasping a serpent (“the Serpent”) that is represented by the constellation Serpens, a constellation of the northern hemisphere unique among the modern constellations in being split into two non-contiguous parts.

The interposition of his body divides the snake constellation Serpens into two parts, Serpens Caput (Serpent Head) to the west and Serpens Cauda (Serpent Tail) to the east, which are nonetheless counted as one constellation.

Ophiuchus straddles the equator but lies predominately to its south. However, Rasalhague, a fairly conspicuous star in its north. The constellation extends southward to −30° declination. In the northern hemisphere it is best visible in summer.

In figurative representations, the body of the serpent is represented as passing behind Ophiuchus between Mu Serpentis in Serpens Caput and Nu Serpentis in Serpens Cauda. The brightest star in Serpens is the red giant star Alpha Serpentis, or Unukalhai, in Serpens Caput.

In Greek mythology, Serpens represents a snake held by the healer Asclepius. Represented in the sky by the constellation Ophiuchus, Asclepius once killed a snake, but the animal was subsequently resurrected after a second snake placed a revival herb on it before its death.

As snakes shed their skin every year, they were known as the symbol of rebirth in ancient Greek society, and legend says Asclepius would revive dead humans using the same technique he witnessed.

Although this is likely the logic for Serpens’ presence with Ophiuchus, the true reason is still not fully known. Sometimes, Serpens was depicted as coiling around Ophiuchus, but the majority of atlases showed Serpens passing either behind Ophiuchus’ body or between his legs.

In some ancient atlases, the constellations Serpens and Ophiuchus were depicted as two separate constellations, although more often they were shown as a single constellation.

One notable figure to depict Serpens separately was Johann Bayer; thus, Serpens’ stars are cataloged with separate Bayer designations from those of Ophiuchus. When Eugène Delporte established modern constellation boundaries in the 1920s, he elected to depict the two separately.

However, this posed the problem of how to disentangle the two constellations, with Deporte deciding to split Serpens into two areas—the head and the tail—separated by the continuous Ophiuchus. These two areas became known as Serpens Caput and Serpens Cauda, caput being the Latin word for head and cauda the Latin word for tail.

Hydra and Cancer

Hydra is the largest of the 88 modern constellations, measuring 1303 square degrees. Also one of the longest constellations at over 100 degrees, its southern end abuts Libra and Centaurus and its northern end borders Cancer. It has a long history. It is commonly represented as a water snake.

The shape of Hydra resembles a twisting snake, and features as such in some Greek myths. One myth associates it with a water snake that a crow served Apollo in a cup when it was sent to fetch water; Apollo saw through the fraud, and angrily cast the crow, cup, and snake, into the sky. It is also associated with the monster Hydra, with its many heads, killed by Hercules, who is represented in another constellation.

The Lernaean Hydra or Hydra of Lerna, more often known simply as the Hydra, was a serpentine water monster in Greek and Roman mythology. Its lair was the lake of Lerna in the Argolid, which was also the site of the myth of the Danaïdes.

Hydra was depicted as having the torso of a fish, a tail of a snake, the forepaws of a lion, the hind-legs of an eagle, with wings, and with a head comparable to Marduk’s dragon, the Mushhushshu. Hydra had poisonous breath and blood so virulent that even its scent was deadly.

Lerna was reputed to be an entrance to the Underworld, and archaeology has established it as a sacred site older than Mycenaean Argos. According to Hesiod, the Hydra was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna (“She-Viper”), a monster, half-woman and half-snake, who lived alone in a cave. She was the mate of the fearsome monster Typhon and was the mother of monsters.

According to legend, if one of the hydra’s heads was cut off, two more would grow in its place. However, Hercules burned out the roots of the heads he severed to prevent them from growing again, and thus overcame the hydra.

In the canonical Hydra myth the monster is killed by Heracles (Hercules) using sword and fire, as the second of his Twelve Labors. It possessed many heads, the exact number of which varies according to the source. Later versions of the Hydra story add a regeneration feature to the monster: for every head chopped off, the Hydra would regrow a couple of heads.

In Greek mythology Eurystheus sent Heracles to slay the Hydra, which Hera had raised just to slay Heracles. Upon reaching the swamp near Lake Lerna, where the Hydra dwelt, Heracles covered his mouth and nose with a cloth to protect himself from the poisonous fumes. He shot flaming arrows into the Hydra’s lair, the spring of Amymone, a deep cave from which it emerged only to terrorize neighboring villages.

He then confronted the Hydra, wielding either a harvesting sickle (according to some early vase-paintings), a sword, or his famed club. The chthonic creature’s reaction to this decapitation was botanical: two grew back, an expression of the hopelessness of such a struggle for any but the hero. The weakness of the Hydra was that it was invulnerable only if it retained at least one head.

The details of the struggle are explicit in the Bibliotheca: realizing that he could not defeat the Hydra in this way, Heracles called on his nephew Iolaus for help. His nephew then came upon the idea (possibly inspired by Athena) of using a firebrand to scorch the neck stumps after each decapitation. Heracles cut off each head and Iolaus cauterized the open stumps.

Seeing that Heracles was winning the struggle, Hera sent a giant crab to distract him. He crushed it under his mighty foot. The Hydra’s one immortal head was cut off with a golden sword given to Heracles by Athena. Heracles placed the head—still alive and writhing—under a great rock on the sacred way between Lerna and Elaius, and dipped his arrows in the Hydra’s poisonous blood. Thus his second task was complete.

The alternate version of this myth is that after cutting off one head he then dipped his sword in its neck and used its venom to burn each head so it could not grow back. Hera, upset that Heracles had slain the beast she raised to kill him, placed it in the dark blue vault of the sky as the constellation Hydra. She then turned the crab into the constellation Cancer (“The Crab”).

Heracles would later use arrows dipped in the Hydra’s poisonous blood to kill other foes during his remaining labors, such as Stymphalian Birds and the giant Geryon.

Greek and Roman writers related that Hera placed the Hydra and crab as constellations in the night sky after Heracles had slew them. When the sun is in the sign of Cancer, the constellation Hydra has its head nearby. In fact, both constellations derived from the earlier Babylonian signs: Bashmu (“The Venomous Snake”) and Alluttu (“The Crayfish”).

Cancer

Cancer is the fourth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the constellation of Cancer. It spans 90° and 120° celestial longitude. Cancer a northern sign and its opposite is southern sign is Capricorn. Cancer is said to be the house of Neptune and the exaltation of Jupiter.

Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area between approximately June 21 and July 23, and under the sidereal zodiac, the Sun transits this area between approximately July 16 and August 15.

Cancer was the location of the Sun’s most northerly position in the sky (the summer solstice) in ancient times, though this position now occurs in Taurus due to the precession of the equinoxes, around June 21. This is also the time that the Sun is directly overhead at 23.5°N, a parallel now known as the Tropic of Cancer.

In astrology, Cancer is the cardinal sign of the Water trigon, which is made up of Cancer, Pisces, and Scorpio. The Water Trigon is one of four elemental trigons, fire, earth, air, and water. When a trigon is influential, it affects changes on earth.

Cancer is said to have been the place for the Akkadian Sun of the South, perhaps from its position at the summer solstice in very remote antiquity. But afterwards it was associated with the fourth month Duzu (June–July in the modern western calendar), and was known as the Northern Gate of Sun.

In ancient times, Cancer was known as the “dark sign” because of the obscured visibility of its constellation in the night sky. It is considered a negative sign, whose domicile, or ruling planet, is the Moon. The Indian language Sanskrit shares a common ancestor with Greek, and the Sanskrit name of Cancer is Karka and Karkata. Vedic astrology the sign is named Karka and its Lord is Moon.

In Babylonia the constellation was known as MUL.AL.LUL, a name which can refer to both a crab and a snapping turtle. There also appears to be a strong connection between the Babylonian constellation and ideas of death and a passage to the underworld.

This may be the origin of these ideas in later Greek myths associated with Hercules and the Hydra. Some scholars have suggested that Karkinos was a late addition to the myth of Hercules in order to make the Twelve Labors correspond to the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

Though some depictions of Cancer feature a lobster, the sign is most often represented by the crab, based on the Karkinos, a giant crab that harassed Heracles during his fight with the Hydra. Heracles was able to kill the crab by smashing its shell with his foot. As a reward for its efforts serving her, Hera placed the crab in the sky and it became Cancer. The Indian language Sanskrit shares a common ancestor with Greek, and the Sanskrit name of Cancer is Karka and Karkata.

Scarab

The modern symbol for Cancer represents the pincers of a crab, but Cancer has been represented as many types of creatures, usually those living in the water, and always those with an exoskeleton. In the Egyptian records of about 2000 BC it was described as Scarabaeus (Scarab), the sacred emblem of immortality.

Scarabs were popular amulets and impression seals in Ancient Egypt. For reasons that are not clear amulets in the form of scarab beetles had become enormously popular in Ancient Egypt by the early Middle Kingdom (approx. 2000 BCE).

They remained popular for the rest of the pharaonic period and beyond. During that long period the function of scarabs repeatedly changed. From the middle Bronze Age, other ancient peoples of the Mediterranean and the Middle East imported scarabs from Egypt and also produced scarabs in Egyptian or local styles, especially in the Levant.

They are connected to the religious significance of the Egyptian god Khepri or ḫprj, derived from Egyptian language verb ḫpr, meaning “develop”, “come into being”, or “create”.

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.

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. The ancient Egyptians believed that Khepri renewed the sun every day before rolling it above the horizon, then carried it through the other world after sunset, only to renew it, again, the next day.

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.

Khepri was principally depicted as a scarab beetle, though in some tomb paintings and funerary papyri he is represented as a human male with a scarab as a head. He is also depicted as a scarab in a solar barque held aloft by Nun. The scarab amulets that the Egyptians used as jewelry and as seals represent Khepri.

The Labbu Myth

The Labbu Myth or possibly Kalbu Myth, depending on the reading of the first character in the antagonist’s name, which is always written as KAL may be read as Lab, Kal, Rib and Tan, is an ancient Mesopotamian creation epic with its origin no later than the Old Babylonian period.

It is a folktale also known as or “The Slaying of Labbu” possibly of the Diyala region as the later version seems to feature the god Tišpak as its protagonist and may be an allegory representing his replacement of the chthonic serpent-god Ninazu at the top of the pantheon of the city of Ešnunna.

It was possibly a precursor of the Enûma Eliš, where Labbu, meaning “Raging One” or “lion”, was the prototype of Tiamat and of the Canaanite tale of Baal fighting Yamm. In the earlier version Nergal is playing this part.

Extant in two very fragmentary copies, an Old Babylonian and a later Assyrian one from the Library of Ashurbanipal, which have no complete surviving lines, the Labbu Myth relates the tale of a possibly leonine certainly serpentine monster, a fifty-league long Bašmu (Ba.Aš.Ma) or sixty-league long Mušḫuššu (MUŠ-ḪUŠ), depending on the version and reconstruction of the text.

The opening of the Old Babylonian version recalls that of Gilgamesh. The vast dimensions of Labbu are described. The sea, tāmtu has given birth to the dragon. The fragmentary line “He raises his tail…” identified him for Neil Forsyth as a precursor of a later Adversary, the dragon of Revelation 12:4, whose tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth.

In the later version, Labbu is created by the god Enlil who “drew [a picture of] the dragon in the sky”, to wipe out humanity whose raucous noise has been disturbing this deity’s sleep, a recurring motif in Babylonian creation epics. Whether this refers to the Milky Way or a comet is not clear.

The pantheon of Babylonian gods are terrified by this apparition and appeal to the moon god Sîn or fertility goddess Aruru who conscripts Tišpak/Nergal to counter this threat and “exercise kingship”, presumably over Ešnunna, as its reward.

Tišpak/Nergal raises objections to tangling with the serpent but, after a gap in the narrative, a god whose name is abraded provides guidance on military strategy. A storm erupts and the victor, who may or may not be Tišpak or Nergal, in accordance with the advice given, fires an arrow to slay the beast.

The epic fragments are not part of a cosmogony, as the cities of men already exist. The myth’s function as a justification of Tishpak’s accession as king, “as a consequence of his ‘liberation’ of the nation, sanctioned by the decision of a divine council.”

Nergal

Nergal seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only representative of a certain phase of the sun. Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle.

He has also been called “the king of sunset”. Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld.

In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person. In some texts the god Ninazu is the son of Nergal and Allatu/Ereshkigal.

A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninurta (slayer of Asag and wielder of Sharur, an enchanted mace) and Nergal. Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king,” the “furious one,” and the like.

Tishpak

Tishpak was a warrior god possibly identical with the Hurrian god Teshup, who is depicted holding a triple thunderbolt and a weapon, usually an axe (often double-headed) or mace.

Taru was the name of a similar Hattic Storm God, whose mythology and worship as a primary deity continued and evolved through descendant Luwian and Hittite cultures. In these two, Taru was known as Tarhun / Tarhunt- / Tarhuwant- / Tarhunta, names derived from the Anatolian root *tarh”to defeat, conquer”.

The sacred bull common throughout Anatolia was his signature animal, represented by his horned crown or by his steeds Seri and Hurri, who drew his chariot or carried him on their backs.

Teshub reappears in the post-Hurrian cultural successor kingdom of Urartu as Tesheba, one of their chief gods; in Urartian art he is depicted standing on a bull. 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.

Ninazu

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

In some texts the god Ninazu is the son of Nergal and Allatu/Ereshkigal. Ninazu was a god of the underworld, and of healing. He was the son of Enlil and Ninlil or, in alternative traditions, of Ereshkigal and Gugalana, the first husband of Ereshkigal.

He was the father of Ningiszida, a Mesopotamian deity of vegetation and the underworld, sometimes depicted as a serpent with a human head. Ningishzida is sometimes the son of Ninazu and Ningiridda, even though the myth Ningishzida’s journey to the netherworld suggests he is the son of Ereshkigal.

Ningishzida 

Ningishzida (nin-g̃iš-zid-da) is a Mesopotamian deity of vegetation and the underworld. Thorkild Jacobsen translates Ningishzida as Sumerian for “lord of the good tree”.

In Mesopotamian mythology Ningishzida, is sometimes depicted as a serpent with horns. In other depictions, he is shown as human but is accompanied by bashmu, horned serpents. Ningishzida shares the epithet Ušumgallu or Ushumgallu (“great serpent / dragon”), with several other Mesopotamian gods.

In Sumerian mythology, he appears in Adapa’s myth as one of the two guardians of Anu’s celestial palace, alongside Dumuzi, also known as Tammuz, the ancient Mesopotamian god of shepherds, who was also the primary consort of the goddess Inanna (later known as Ishtar).

Following an inscription found at Lagash, he was the son of Anu, the heavens. His wife is Azimua, one of the eight deities born to relieve the illness of Enki, and also Geshtinanna, the ancient Sumerian goddess of agriculture, fertility, and dream interpretation, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”. Geshtinanna is the sister of Dumuzid.

His sister is Amashilama, who dies to join him in the Underworld. She tells him that “the day that dawns for you will also dawn for me; the day you see, I shall also see”, referring to the fact that day in the world above is night in the Underworld.

However, in some texts Ningishzida is said to be female, which means “Nin” would then refer to Lady, which is mostly how the word is used by the Sumerians. He or she was one of the ancestors of Gilgamesh.

The Horned Serpent

The Horned Serpent appear in European and Near Eastern mythology. The ram-horned serpent is a well-attested cult image of north-west Europe before and during the Roman period. It appears three times on the Gundestrup cauldron, and in Romano-Celtic Gaul was closely associated with the horned or antlered god Cernunnos, in whose company it is regularly depicted.

This pairing is found as early as the fourth century BC in Northern Italy, where a huge antlered figure with torcs and a serpent was carved on the rocks in Val Camonica. A bronze image at Étang-sur-Arroux and a stone sculpture at Sommerécourt depict Cernunnos’ body encircled by two horned snakes that feed from bowls of fruit and corn-mash in the god’s lap.

Also at Sommerécourt is a sculpture of a goddess holding a cornucopia and a pomegranate, with a horned serpent eating from a bowl of food. At Yzeures-sur-Creuse a carved youth has a ram-horned snake twined around his legs, with its head at his stomach.

At Cirencester, Gloucestershire, Cernunnos’ legs are two snakes which rear up on each side of his head and are eating fruit or corn. According to Miranda Green, the snakes reflect the peaceful nature of the god, associated with nature and fruitfulness, and perhaps accentuate his association with regeneration.

Other deities occasionally accompanied by ram-horned serpents include “Celtic Mars” and “Celtic Mercury”. The horned snake, and also conventional snakes, appear together with the solar wheel, apparently as attributes of the sun or sky god.

The description of Unktehi or Unktena is, however, more similar to that of a Lindorm in Northern Europe, especially in Southern Scandinavia, and most of all as described in folklore in Eastern Denmark and southern Sweden. There, too, it is a water creature of huge dimensions, while in Southern Sweden it is a huge snake, the sight of which was deadly. This latter characteristic is reminiscent of the basilisk.

The death of vegetation

The death of vegetation is associated with the travel to the underworld of Ningishzida. Anzili or Enzili was a Hittite goddess. Her name is sometimes written with the Sumerogram IŠTAR or the compounde IŠTAR-li. Along with the goddess Zukki, Anzili was involved in rituals to aid childbirth.

Anzili and Zukki are among the many Hittite deities, whose temporary disappearance is the topic of myth (compare Telipinu, the Sun goddess of Arinna, Inara, the kurša-hunting bag, Ḫannaḫanna, the Gulšeš, and various weather gods, including the weather god of Kuliwišna).

The standard pattern is that the deity disappears as a result of their anger and they have to be molified in order to bring them back. In the case of Anzili and Zukki, the goddesses are so angry that they put their shoes on the wrong feet – left on right and right on left – and they put their clothes on back to front, so that their cloak pins are on the back. Then they both departed from mankind. The back-to-front clothes of the goddesses might be understood as a symbol of the symbolic destruction of the cosmic order which results from the goddesses’ departure.

Telipinu (“Exalted Son”) was a Hittite god who most likely served as a patron of farming, though he has also been suggested to have been a storm god or an embodiment of crops. He was a son of the weather god Teššub and the solar goddess Arinniti according to their mythology.

The Telipinu Myth is an ancient Hittite myth about Telipinu, whose disappearance causes all fertility to fail, both plant and animal. In order to stop the havoc and devastation, the gods seek Telipinu but fail to find him. After Telepinu disappeared, his father, the Storm-god Tarhunt (also called Teshub), complained to Ḫannaḫanna (from Hittite ḫanna- “grandmother”), a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the Sumerian goddess Inanna.

Hannahannah sent a bee to find him; when the bee did, stinging Telipinu and smearing wax on him, the god grew angry and began to wreak destruction on the world. She also recommended to the Tarhunt that he should pay the Sea-god the bride-price for the Sea-god’s daughter, so she can wed Telipinu.

Finally, Kamrušepa, goddess of magic, calmed Telipinu by giving his anger to the Doorkeeper of the Underworld. In other references it is a mortal priest who prays for all of Telipinu’s anger to be sent to bronze containers in the underworld, from which nothing escapes.

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. Inara’s mother is probably Hebat and her brother is Sarruma.

After the dragon Illuyanka wins an encounter with the storm god, the latter asks Inara to give a feast, most probably the Purulli festival, a Hattian spring festival, held at Nerik, dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna, who is married to a new king.

Inara decides to use the feast to lure and defeat Illuyanka, who was her father’s archenemy. The dragon and his family gorge themselves on the fare at the feast, becoming quite drunk, which allows Hupasiyas to tie a rope around them. Inara’s father can then kill Illuyanka, thereby preserving creation.

The central ritual of the Puruli festival is dedicated to the destruction of the dragon Illuyanka by the storm god Teshub. The corresponding Assyrian festival is the Akitu of the Enuma Elish. Also compared are the Canaanite Poem of Baal and Psalms 93 and 29.

The mother goddess Hannahanna promises Inara land and a man during a consultation by Inara. Inara enlists the aid of a mortal named Hupasiyas of Zigaratta by becoming his lover. Inara built a house on a cliff and gave it to Hupasiyas.

She left one day with instructions that he was not to look out the window, as he might see his family. But he looked and the sight of his family made him beg to be allowed to return home. It is not known what happened next, but there is speculation that Inara killed Hupasiyas for disobeying her, or for hubris, or that he was allowed to return to his family.

Inara then disappears. When Ḫannaḫanna was informed of this by the Storm-god’s bee, she apparently began a search with the help of her female attendant. Her father looks for her, joined by Hannahanna with a bee.

After her anger is banished to the Dark Earth, she returns rejoicing, and mothers care once again for their kin. Another means of banishing her anger was through burning brushwood and allowing the vapor to enter her body. Either in this or another text she appears to consult with the Sun god and the War god, but much of the text is missing.

Apparently, like Demeter, Ḫannaḫanna disappears for a while in a fit of anger and while she is gone, cattle and sheep are stifled and mothers, both human and animal take no account of their children. The story resembles that of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, also called Kore (“the maiden”), in Greek myth.

Persephone

In Greek mythology, Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter and is the queen of the underworld. Homer describes her as the formidable, venerable majestic princess of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina, and her mother, Ceres and her father Jupiter.

Persephone was married to Hades, the god of the underworld. The myth of her abduction represents her function as the personification of vegetation, which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest; hence, she is also associated with spring as well as the fertility of vegetation. Similar myths appear in the Orient, in the cults of male gods like Attis, Adonis, and Osiris, and in Minoan Crete.

Persephone as a vegetation goddess and her mother Demeter were the central figures of the Eleusinian mysteries, which promised the initiated a more enjoyable prospect after death. In some versions, Persephone is the mother of Zeus’s sons Dionysus, Iacchus, or Zagreus, and the little-attested Melinoe. The origins of her cult are uncertain, but it was based on very old agrarian cults of agricultural communities.

In Classical Greek art, Persephone is invariably portrayed robed, often carrying a sheaf of grain. She may appear as a mystical divinity with a sceptre and a little box, but she was mostly represented in the process of being carried off by Hades.

To her alone were dedicated the mysteries celebrated at Athens in the month of Anthesterion, the eighth month of the Attic calendar, corresponding to the lunar term around February and March. Probably from Anthestḗria, an Attic and Ionian festival held around this time in honor of Dionysus, the dead, and the coming spring, named for the flowers used to decorate homes, drinking vessels, and children.

The existence of so many different forms of her name shows how difficult it was for the Greeks to pronounce the word in their own language and suggests that the name may have a Pre-Greek origin. Persephatta is considered to mean “female thresher of grain”.

The first constituent of the name originates in Proto-Greek “perso-” (related to Sanskrit “parṣa-“), “sheaf of grain” and the second constituent of the name originates in Proto-Indo European *-gʷn-t-ih, from the root *gʷʰen- “to strike”. An alternative etymology is from pherein phonon, “to bring (or cause) death”.

The epithets of Persephone reveal her double function as chthonic and vegetation goddess. The surnames given to her by the poets refer to her character as Queen of the lower world and the dead, or her symbolic meaning of the power that shoots forth and withdraws into the earth.

Her common name as a vegetation goddess is Kore, and in Arcadia she was worshipped under the title Despoina, “the mistress”, a very old chthonic divinity. Plutarch identifies her with spring and Cicero calls her the seed of the fruits of the fields. In the Eleusinian mysteries, her return is the symbol of immortality and hence she was frequently represented on sarcophagi.

In the mystical theories of the Orphics and the Platonists, Kore is described as the all-pervading goddess of nature who both produces and destroys everything, and she is therefore mentioned along or identified with other mystic divinities such as Isis, Rhea, Ge, Hestia, Pandora, Artemis, and Hecate.

Bašmu

Bašmu or Bashmu (cuneiform: MUŠ.ŠÀ.TÙR or MUŠ.ŠÀ.TUR, lit. “Venomous Snake”) was an ancient Mesopotamian mythological creature, a horned snake with two forelegs and wings. It was also the Akkadian name of the Babylonian constellation (MUL.DINGIR.MUŠ) equivalent to the Greek Hydra.

The Sumerian terms ušum (portrayed with feet) and muš-šà-tùr (“birth goddess snake”, portrayed without feet) may represent differing iconographic types or different demons.

It is first attested by a 22nd-century BC cylinder inscription at Gudea. Mythology In the Angim, or “Ninurta’s return to Nippur”, it was identified as one of the 11 “warriors” (ur-sag) defeated by Ninurta.

Bašmu was created in the sea and was “sixty double-miles long”, according to a fragmentary Assyrian myth which recounts that it devoured fish, birds, wild asses, and men, securing the disapproval of the gods who sent Nergal or Palil (“snake charmer”) to vanquish it.

It was one of the 11 monsters created by Tiamat in the Enuma Elish creation myth. It had “six mouths, seven tongues and seven …-s on its belly”.

Ušumgallu

Ušumgallu or Ushumgallu (Sumerian: ušum.gal, “Great Dragon”) was one of the three horned snakes in Akkadian mythology, along with the Bašmu and Mušmaḫḫū. Usually described as a lion-dragon demon, it has been somewhat speculatively identified with the four-legged, winged dragon of the late 3rd millennium BC.

Its name became a royal and divine epithet, for example: ušumgal kališ parakkī, “unrivaled ruler of all the sanctuaries”. Marduk is called “the ušumgallu-dragon of the great heavens”.

The late neo-Assyrian text “Myth of the Seven Sages” recalls: “The fourth (of the seven apkallu’s, “sages”, is) Lu-Nanna, (only) two-thirds Apkallu, who drove the ušumgallu-dragon from É-ninkarnunna, the temple of Ištar of Šulgi.” Aššur-nāṣir-apli II placed golden icons of ušumgallu at the pedestal of Ninurta.

The Seven-headed Serpent (from Sumerian muš-saĝ-7: snake with seven heads) was hung on the “shining cross-beam” of Ninurta’s chariot. The Dragon (Sumerian: Ušum or Ushum), who also was one of the warriors slain by Ninurta, was hung on the seat of his chariot according to the ancient source.

Mušmaḫḫū

Mušmaḫḫū (Sumerian MUŠ.MAḪ, Akkadian muš-ma-ḫu; meaning “Exalted/distinguished Serpent”) was an ancient Mesopotamian mythological hybrid of serpent, lion and bird. He is one of the three horned snakes, with his companions, Bašmu and Ušumgallu, with whom he may have shared a common mythological origin.

He is sometimes identified with the seven-headed serpent slain by Ninurta in the mythology of the Sumerian period. In Angim or “Ninurta’s return to Nippur”, the storm god describes one of his weapons as “the seven-mouthed muš-mah serpent”, reminiscent of the Greek myth of Heracles and the seven headed Lernaean Hydra he slew in the second of his Twelve labours.

An engraved shell of the Early Dynastic period shows Ninurta slaying the seven-headed mušmaḫḫū. In the Epic of Creation, Enûma Eliš, Tiāmat gives birth (alādu) to mythical serpents, described as mušmaḫḫū, “with sharp teeth, merciless fangs, instead of blood she filled their bodies with venom”. Tiamat is said to have “clothed the raging lion-dragons with fearsomeness”.

Nabu

The god Nabû, the ancient Mesopotamian patron god of literacy, the rational arts, scribes and wisdom, was worshipped by the Babylonians and the Assyrians, and gained prominence among the Babylonians in the 1st millennium BC when he was identified as the son of the god Marduk. He was described as “he who tramples the lion-dragon” in the hymn to Nabû.

Nabu wore a horned cap, and stood with his hands clasped in the ancient gesture of priesthood. He rode on a winged dragon known as Mušḫuššu that originally belonged to his father Marduk. Due to his role as an oracle, Nabu was associated with the Mesopotamian moon god Sin.

In Babylonian astrology, Nabu was identified with the planet Mercury.  In Hellenistic times Nabu was identified and sometimes syncretized, with the Greek god Apollo. As the god of literacy and wisdom, Nabu was linked by the Romans with Mercury, and by the Egyptians with Thoth.

Nabu was known as Nisaba (Sumerian: NAGA; later ŠE.NAGA), also known by the epithet Nanibgal (Sumerian:  AN.NAGA; later AN.ŠE.NAGA), the Sumerian goddess of writing, learning, and the harvest, in the Sumerian pantheon. In the Babylonian period, she was replaced by the god Nabu, who took over her functions. In some instances, Nisaba was his instructor or wife before he replaced her.

Nāga

Nāga is the Sanskrit and Pali word for a deity or class of entity or being taking the form of a very great snake, specifically the king cobra, found in the Indian religions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. A female nāga is a nāgin” or nāgini”.

In Sanskrit, a nāgá is a cobra, the Indian cobra (Naja naja). A synonym for nāgá is phaṇin. There are several words for “snake” in general, and one of the very commonly used ones is sarpá. Sometimes the word nāgá is also used generically to mean “snake”. The word is cognate with English ‘snake’, Germanic: *snēk-a-, Proto-IE: *(s)nēg-o-.

The mythological serpent race that took form as cobras often can be found in Hindu iconography. The nāgas are described as the powerful, splendid, wonderful and proud semidivine race that can assume their physical form either as human, partial human-serpent or the whole serpent.

Their domain is in the enchanted underworld, the underground realm filled with gems, gold and other earthly treasures called Naga-loka or Patala-loka. They are also often associated with bodies of waters — including rivers, lakes, seas, and wells — and are guardians of treasure.

Their power and venom made them potentially dangerous to humans. However, they often took beneficial protagonist role in Hindu mythology, such as in Samudra manthan mythology, Vasuki, a nāgarāja who abides on Shiva’s neck, became the churning rope for churning of the Ocean of Milk. Their eternal mortal enemies are the Garudas, the legendary semidivine birdlike-deity.

Ardini

Ḫaldi (also known as Khaldi) was one of the three chief deities of Urartu. His shrine was at Ardini (likely from Armenian Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”), in Akkadian known as Muṣaṣir, meaning “Exit of the Serpent/Snake”, an ancient city of Urartu.

The other two chief deities were Theispas, the Urartian weather-god, notably the god of storms and thunder, of Kumenu, and the solar god Shivini of Tushpa, who is equal to Utu in Sumerian, Shiva in Hinduism, Mithra in Mithraism, Ra in Egypt and Artinis by the Armenians.

Khaldi was portrayed as a man with or without wings, standing on a lion. Some sources claim that the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation, Hayk, is derived from Ḫaldi. Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art, was the wife of Khaldi.

Khaldi was a warrior god to whom the kings of Urartu would pray for victories in battle. The temples dedicated to Khaldi were adorned with weapons such as swords, spears, bows and arrows, and shields hung from the walls and were sometimes known as ‘the house of weapons’.

The location of Ardini is not known with certainty, although there are a number of hypotheses in the Zagros south of Lake Urmia. It was attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC. It was acquired by the Urartian King Ishpuini ca. 800 BC. The temple, built in 825 BC, was an important temple in the holy city of Urartu.

The name Musasir in Akkadian means exit of the serpent/snake. MUŠ is the Sumerian term for “serpent”. The form mušḫuššu is the Akkadian nominative of the Sumerian MUŠ.ḪUS (“reddish snake”, sometimes also translated as “fierce snake” or “splendor serpent”).

The mušḫuššu is a creature depicted on the reconstructed Ishtar Gate of the city of Babylon, dating to the 6th century BC. It was a mythological hybrid, a scaly dragon with hind legs resembling the talons of an eagle, feline forelegs, a long neck and tail, a horned head, a snake-like tongue, and a crest.

It was the sacred animal of Marduk and his son Nabu during the Neo-Babylonian Empire. It was taken over by Marduk from Tishpak, an Akkadian god who replaced the god Ninazu as the tutelary deity of the city of Eshnunna, an ancient Sumerian and later Akkadian city and city-state in central Mesopotamia c. 3000-1700 BC.

Serpent (symbolism)

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Maktsentralisering gjennom historien

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 15, 2018

Menneskeheten har blitt stadig mer brutal og krigen har blitt en del av våre liv. Vi lever i en verden med krig, sult, urett og forurensning. Viktige kjennetegn ved samfunnet som vi har i dag er blant annet privatisering, konkurranse, ekspansjon, frie markeder, profitt og stadig større konserner; på mange måten oppskriften til sosialdarwenisme, nyliberalisme eller hyperkapitalisme, hvor det er den sterkeste som overlever.

Dagens ledere fører en politikk som står i motstrid til alt som er nødvendig for å oppnå fred, globalt demokrati, økonomisk likhet og rettferdighet, økologisk beskyttelse av miljøet, og global stabilitet. De representerer valgene til en alt for mektig elite som er fast bestemt på å konsolidere sin økonomiske og politiske makt. Dette uten å ta hensyn til kostnadene for verdenssamfunnet og naturen for øvrig.

Men har det ikke alltid vært sånn?

Neolittiske befolkninger deler mange egenskaper, som for eksempel å leve i småskala, familiebaserte samfunn, som var mer egalitære enn bystatene og høvdingene i bronsealderen. Menneskene levde sammen i stammer, uten privat eiendomsrett, uten klasseskiller og de sosiale strukturene som karakteriserer senere samfunnsepoker.

Ifølge den litauisk-amerikanske arkeologen Marija Gimbutas, som er kjent for sin forskning i neolittisk og bronsealderens kulturer i «Gamle Europa», et begrep hun selv innførte, gikk man med indoeuropeernes ankomst fra et gudinne- og kvinneorientert («matristisk») neolittisk samfunn til en indoeuropeisk patriarkalsk («androkratisk») bronsealderkultur.

I henhold til dette var de førstnevnte samfunnene fredelige gynosentriske (kvinnestyrte) samfunn som tillot homoseksualitet og fremmet en økonomisk likhet, mens de sistnevnte var «androkratiske» eller mannsdominerte og invaderte Europa og påtvang de innfødte deres hierarkiske styre av mannlige krigere.

Hennes verker, utgitt i årene 1946 og 1971, introduserte nye synsvinkler ved å kombinere tradisjonell arkeologisk forarbeid med lingvistisk og mytologisk tolkninger, men hun fikk til dels blandet mottagelse blant sine kollegaer, dels ble hun betraktet som radikal og nyskapende, dels preget av forenklinger og spekulasjoner.

Çatal Höyük (Çatal er tyrkisk for «gaffel» og Höyük betyr «haug») er en stor neolittisk og kalkolittisk bosetning i sørlige Anatolia. De tidligste lagene i bosetningen er datert til omkring 7500 f.vt, som vil si sen neolittisk tidsalder, og stedet var bosatt til minst 6200 f.vt. Det var en storby med opptil ti tusen innbyggere i «Det Gamle Europa».

Çatal Höyük er den største og mest sofistikerte neolittiske bosetningen som noensinne er avdekket, og regnes som et av verdens tidligste vellykkede bysamfunn. Her levde folk fredelig i to tusen år. De kjente ikke til klasseskiller og kvinner og menn ser ut til å ha vært helt, likestilte, uten engang noen skarp arbeidsdeling mellom kjønnene.

Når arkeologer skal avgjøre hva slags form for hierarkier som fantes i et samfunn, ser de på gravfunn og på bygninger, og selvsagt på kunsten. Det er ingenting i Catalhöyuk som tyder på at enkeltmennesker eller enkelte familier hadde spesielt mye større hus enn andre eller ble gravlagt med mere pomp og prakt. Alle, kvinner, menn og barn, ble gravlagt med samme omhu.

Det fantes imidlertid noen underlige begravelses-skikker – som å mure hodeskaller eller også hele skjeletter inn under sengeplasser. Kvinner ble i disse tilfellene gravlagt under de største sengeplassene, menn og barn under de mindre. Dette, og funn av kvinnefigurer eller gudinner i åpenbare autoritetspositurer (sittende på troner etc), kan tyde på at noen kvinner i særdeleshet var spesielt viktige – kanskje som prestinner, høvdinger eller representanter for Gudinnen?

James Mellaart var den første til å starte utgravninger ved Catal Höyuk. Han var overbevist om at folkene i Catal Höyuk hadde dyrket en Stor Gudinne og hennes sønn eller elsker – symbolisert i oksen. Marija Gimbutas satte Catal Höyuk i sammenheng til det Gamle Europa, der gudinnene eller Gudinnen rådet over det religiøse verdensbildet.

Nyere forskere er ikke så glade i å trekke store sammenhenger over tid og sted. De er skeptiske til tanken om en Gudinne-religion og hevder at Mellaart og Gimbutas tar feil. Det er ikke noe som tyder på at det var matriarki eller patriarki. Istedet har man fastslått at menn og kvinner var likestilte og hadde den samme sosiale status. Det var maktbalanse.

Det var denne maktbalansen som kom til å endre seg. Etter hvert som vi oppfant jordbruket og begynte å temme dyr, lærte å utvinne metaller og å skrive, oppsto den private eiendom, arbeidsspesialisering og klasseskiller. Mens noen styrte og bestemte var det andre som måtte arbeide og slite. For som Bertold Brecht spør i sitt dikt “En lesende arbeiders spørsmål” – “Hvem bygde Theben med de sju portene?”

Om man tar Ubaid-perioden (6500 — c. 3800 f.vt.) i det sørlige Irak som et eksempel så ser man at det pågikk en stadig mer polarisert sosial lagdeling med oppveksten av en eliteklasse bestående av høvdinger og avtagende egalitarisme. Samfunnet bar preg av “trans-egalitære” konkurrerende husholdninger, hvor noen falt bak som følge av nedadgående sosial mobilitet.

Høvdingene var trolig ledere av familiegrupper som på en eller annen måte var knyttet til administrasjonen av templets helligdom og var ansvarlig for å løse konflikter og opprettholde sosial orden. Det kan se ut til at slike ulike kollektive metoder, kanskje forekomster av hva Thorkild Jacobsen har kalt primitivt demokrati, hvor tvister tidligere ble løst gjennom et råd av ens venner, ikke lenger var tilstrekkelig for lokalsamfunnets behov.

Yamnaya horisonten, som befant seg nord for Kaukasus og som var besto som en blanding av folk fra det armenske høylandet og lokale østeuropeiske jegersamlere, er preget av sosial tilpasning til høy mobilitet – oppfinnelsen av den politiske infrastrukturen for å håndtere større besetninger fra mobile hjem basert på steppene.

Det er et uttrykk for en sosial utvikling av ulike lokale bronsealderkulturer som leder mot sosial stratifisering og fremvekst av nomadiske høvdingsamfunn, som igjen intensiverte kontaktgrupper mellom hovedsakelig heterogene sosiale grupper.

Under den senere jernalderen var samfunnet preget av ennå mer vold. Bevis fra arkeologi har identifisert begynnelsen på jernproduksjon i det armenske høylandet en gang rundt 1200 f.vt., skjønt en del arkeologiske spor antyder også tidligere dato.

En gang rundt 3000 f.Kr. var jern et sjeldent og kostbart metall i Det nære østen. Jernets kvaliteter, sammenlignet med bronse, ble ikke forstått. Mellom 1200-1000 f.vt. ble forståelsen av jernmetallurgien og nyttegjøringen av jernobjekter spredt raskt og vidtomspennende.

Som en del av tiden sen bronsealder og tidlig jernalder var det en periode knyttet til sammenbruddet av sentrale autoriteter, en generell avbefolkning, særlig i de meget urbane områdene, tap av skriveferdigheter i Antaolia og rundt Egeerhavet, og dens begrensning andre steder, forsvinning av etablerte mønstrene av den internasjonale langdistansehandelen, økende ondsinnet og voldelig kamper om makten hos eliten, og reduserte muligheter for eliten på grunn av avbefolkningen.

Bronsealderens sammenbrudd er en karakterstikk som er gitt av de historikere som ser overgangen i Midtøsten og den østlige delen av Middelhavet fra sen bronsealder til tidlig jernalder som et voldelig, plutselig og kulturelt sammenbrudd. Særlig Robert Drews har gjort seg til talsmann for at tilsynekomst av utstrakt infanteri med nylig oppfunnet våpen og rustning, som støpte framfor smidde spydhoder og lange sverd, og kastespyd, revolusjonerte kutt-og-kast-våpen.

Et antall mennesker har snakket om kulturelle minner fra katastrofen som fortellinger om en «tapt gullalder». Hesiod har eksempelvis snakket om gullalderen, sølvalderen og bronsealderen, skilt fra den moderne og frastøtende grusomme jernalderens verden ved heltenes tidsalder. Under gullalderen hadde jorden hatt nok til alle og ettersom arbeid var unødvendig hadde ikke slaveri eksistert. Det var en periode med harmoni hvor hierarkiske og utbyttende forhold ikke eksisterte.

Begrepet amagi, eller amargi, som litterært betyr “å vende tilbake til moderen”, blir for første gang brukt i lovsamlingen til den sumeriske kongen av Lagash, Urukagina (ca. 2400 f.vt.), som lagde den første kjente lovsamlingen for å forsvare borgerne fra de rike og mekltige.

Amagi er den første skriftlige referansen til konseptet frihet og brukt til å referere til en reformprosess. Den eksakte betydningen kjennes ikke, men ideen om at reformene var en tilbakeføring til den opprinnelige sosiale orden gitt oss av gudene passer bra med oversettelsen.

Kongen var ansvarlig for hele befolkningens velferd og velbefindende, og mange konger legitimerte seg selv og deres eventuelle maktovertagelse ikke bare som gudenes utvalgte, men som garant for eller gjenopretter av sosial rettferdighet. F.eks. gjorde Urukagina opp med byråkratiet, satte en stopper for utnyttelse av de fattige, beskyttet enker og foreldreløse barn og fjernet en rekke skatter og avgifter.

Kjent som den store reformator lagde Urukagina lover som forbød tvungen salg av eiendom og krevde anklager mot den beskyldte før noe som helst lovbrudd kunne bli straffet. dette er det første eksemplet på noen form for rettsprosess i menneskehetens historie. Dette til tross for at lovene, som vanlig var i datidens Mesopotamia, var en smule brutale, inkludert steining av kvinner for å ha flere menn.

Kronus hersket over verden under gullalderen etter først å ha avsatt sin far Uranus frem til han selv ble avsatt av sin egen sønn Zeus og holdt som fange i Tartarus. I Athen ble festivalen Kronia avholdt til ære for Kronus for å feire innhøstingen i månedsskiftet juli-august. Som et resultat av hans assosiasjon med gullalderen fortsatte Kronus å være beskytter av innhøstingen.

Kronia besto av festligheter og banketter. Slaver og de fri, rike og fattige, delte måltider og spilte spill. Frihet fra arbeid og sosial egalitarisme representerte forholdene som hadde eksistert under den mytologiske gullalderen, da Kronus hersket over verden. Sosiale skiller ble midlertidig glemt. Slaver ble løslatt fra deres oppgaver og deltok i festivitetene på lik linje med slaveeiere.

Rhea er datter av jordgudinnen Gaia og himmelguden Uranus, samt søster og kone til Kronus. Hun er kjent som alle guders mor og blir derfor assosiert med Gaia og Cybele, som har lignende funksjon. Hun ble ansett for å være mor til de olympiske gudene og gudinnene, men ikke som en olympisk gudinne. Romerne identifiserte henne med Magna Mater, som er deres form av Cybele, og gudinnen Ops, som er konen til Saturn.

Saturnalia var en romersk religiøs fest til ære for guden Saturn. Saturnalia var den romerske motsatsen til den tidligere greske feiringen Kronia, som ble feiret i senmidtsommeren, som vil si i juli/august.

Saturnalia ble en av de mest populære romerske festivalene. Dikteren Catullus kalte feiringen for “de beste av dager”. Det var opprinnelig en innhøstningsfest, men ble senere flyttet mot vintertiden. Den ble i begynnelsen feiret i løpet av en enkelt dag, på den 17. desember, men dens popularitet vokste inntil feiringen varte en hel uke, og ble avsluttet på den 23. desember.

Festen hadde karakter av karneval, og det ble forventet at den ble feiret med gaver og stor munterhet. Foruten de offentlige ritene var det en rekke høytider og feriedager som ble feiret privat. Feiringene innebar en fridag for de som gikk på skole, å lage og gi små presanger (saturnalia et sigillaricia), store og tallrike gruppeorgier, og et særskilt marked (sigillaria).

Den ble feiret med et offer ved Saturns tempel i Forum Romanum og en offentlig bankett. Saturnalia involverte konvensjonelle ofringer, en sofa (lectisternium) ble plassert i front av Saturns tempel og tauene som bant Saturns statue for resten av året ble løsnet opp.

Saturnalia var en tid hvor man spiste, drakk, rev av seg klærne og strippet, og var overstadig glade. Det var privat gavegiving, festligheter og en karnevalsatmosfære som omgjorde romerske sosiale normer. En vanlig skikk var valget av en “Saturnalia-konge”, Saturnalicius princeps, som ble valgt som herre for seremoniene for de videre feiringene. Han ledet blant annet ekteskapsseremonier.

Toga var ikke lenger en del av den allmenne klesdraktene, men isteden ble det benyttet en form for syntese, det vil si istedenfor hvite drakene kledde folk seg i fargerike, mer uformelle «middagsdrakter», og pileus, den spisse hatten eller luen som greske seilere benyttet, ble benyttet av alle.

Slaver og herrer skiftet tilsynelatende posisjon slik at herskerne tjente sine slaver. Gambling ble tillatt for alle, selv for slaver. Dette tilsvarer hva som er kjent som «Lord of Misrule» i Storbritannia i senere kristne feiringer, eller Jeppe på Bjerget i Ludvig Holbergs kjente skuespill om omsnudde sosiale roller.

Slaver var unntatt fra straff, og behandlet sine herrer med mangel på respekt. Slavene feiret en bankett hvor det var deres herrer som tjente og serverte dem. Omgjøringen av den sosiale orden var hovedsakelig overfladisk. Banketten ble eksempelvis forberedt av slavene selv, og de måtte også forberede deres herres festmåltid i tillegg. Det var tillatelse innenfor bestemte grenser. De sosiale rangordningene ble lekt med, uten at de ble omstøtt.

Festen ble sett på som en påminnelse av den gamle gullalderen, da verden ble styrt av Saturn. Gullalderen er blant annet kjent for å være en tid da det ikke eksisterte noen lover eller regler ettersom alle gjorde det rette og umoral var fraværende. Den neoplatonistiske filosofen Porphyry tolket friheten forbundet med Saturnalia som symbol på frigjøring av sjeler til utødelighet.

Saturnalia ble introdusert en gang rundt 217 f.vt. for å øke borgernes moral etter et knusende militært nederlag mot kartagoerne. Det ble gjort forsøk på å forkorte feiringene, men uten hell. Keiser Augustus (død 14 e.vt.) forsøkte å redusere den til tre dager, og keiser Caligula noe mindre ambisiøst til fem dager. Disse forsøkene førte til bestyrtelse og store opptøyer blant folkene i Roma.

Saturnalia har satt spor etter seg i både julefeiringen og i middelalderens tradisjon med narrefesten. Den kan ha påvirket noen av tradisjonene som er forbundet med senere feiringer, slik som de som forekommer i midtvinter i Vest-Europa, og da spesielt tradisjoner knyttet til julen.

Det har vært hevdet at kristne på 300-tallet i kristendommens barndom la feiringen av Jesu fødsel til den denne feiringen (og således også julefeiringen) til 25. desember ettersom dagen allerede var en hedensk høytid. Således kunne de gjøre folket kristent uten å fjerne en populær høytid.

Teorien om datosammenhengen har lite hold, ettersom det er andre grunner til dateringen av Kristi fødselsfest, og at Saturnalia både lå på et annet tidspunkt enn 25. desember og dessuten tilkom på et for sent tidspunkt (senere enn at den 25. desember var etablert som Kristi fødselsdag).

Imidlertid er det opplagt at elementer av feiringene av ikke-kristen art til en viss grad også ble med i julefeiringen, alt etter som hvilken kulturkrets det gjelder. Om vinteren er det en rekke andre hedenske fester, som med Midtvinterdagen (eller juleblot eller midtvinterblot) i de nordiske landene, og skikker fra disse, inkludert feiringene i Saturnalia, ble deretter selektivt inkorporert (uten for eksempel orgier, drikkegilder og menneskeoffer for eksempel) og overtatt i den kristne julefeiringen.

En omphalos er en religiøs steingjenstand, eller baetylus. På gammelgresk betyr ordet “navle”. Steinen har en utskjæring av et knyttet nett som dekker overflaten og er hul inni. Den representerer steinen gudinnen Rhea, som er mor til Zeus, pakket inn kledet Zeus var svøpt inn i og utga det for å være Zeus for å lure Cronus, som svelget barna sine for å hindre dem i å avsette ham slik han hadde avsatt sin egen far, Uranus.

I følge gresk mytologi sendte Zeus to ørner ut i verden for at de skulle møtes i verdens sentrum, “navlen” av verden. Blant de antikke greker var det en utbredt tro på at Delphi var verdens sentrum. Det var her Zeus plasserte stenen gitt til Cronus. Det var et kraftig religiøst symbol. Omphalos steiner ble antatt å tillate direkte kommunikasjon med gudene.

Omphalos var ikke bare et objekt av hellensk religiøs symbolikk og verdens sentralitet; det ble også betraktet som et maktobjekt. Dens symbolske referanser inkluderte livmor, fallus og en kopp rødvin som representerer kongelige blodlinjer.

Ekur (É.KUR) en et sumerisk begrep som betyr fjellhus. Det er samlingen av gudene i gudenes hage lik fjellet Olympus er det i gresk mytologi. Det var den helligste bygningen i Sumer. Ekur ble ansett for å være verdens midtpunkt og stedet hvor himmel og jord var forenet.

Ekur ble sett på som et dommested og stedet hvor Enlils guddommelige lover ble utstedt. De etiske og moralske verdiene som stedet har blitt tilskrevet har gjort det til det mest etisk orienterte stedet i hele området. Ritualene har blitt beskrevet som banketter og fester feires fra soloppgang til solnedgang med festivaler overfylt med melk og fløte som er forlokkende og full av glede. Ofre og mat ble brakt av kongen, beskrevet som “trofast hyrde” eller “edel bonde”.

Astraia («stjernejomfruen») var i henhold til gresk mytologi den siste av guddommene til å leve sammen med menneskene under den mytologiske gullalderen, en av de fem nedadgående periodene for menneskeheten. Hun flyktet fra den nye ondskapen og lovløsheten i menneskeheten under jernalderen og steg opp til himmelen for å bli stjernene i stjernebildet Virgo, også kjent som Jomfruen.

Hun representerer renhet og uskyld, men blir assosiert med rettferdighet, og ble således delvis eller helt identifisert med Dike, rettferdighetens gudinne, og med Nemesis, gudinne for rettferdig indignasjon. Den nærliggende konstellasjonen Libra reflekterte hennes symbolske tilknytning til Dike, som blant romerne er kjent som Justitia.

Ifølge legenden vil Astraea en dag komme tilbake til Jorden, og bringe henne tilbake den utopiske gullalderen som hun var ambassadøren til.

Vi har hver og en av oss et valg

The origin of democracy and the city states

Early men and women were equal

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Reality and illusion – concealed and observed – consciousness and energy – masculine and feminine – death and alive

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 1, 2018

The Trimūrti typically consist of Brahma (the ”creator”), Vishnu (the “preserver”), and Shiva (the “destroyer”), though individual denominations may vary from that particular line-up. When all three deities of the Trimurti incarnate into a single avatar known as Dattatreya.

Maya (“magic” or “illusion”) originally denoted the magic power with which a god can make human beings believe in what turns out to be an illusion. By extension, it later came to mean the powerful force that creates the cosmic illusion that the phenomenal world is real.

The Mandaeans are Semites and speak a dialect of Eastern Aramaic known as Mandaic. Within the Middle East, but outside of their community, the Mandaeans are more commonly known as the Ṣubba (singular: Ṣubbī) or Sabians.

The term Ṣubba is derived from the Aramaic root related to baptism, the neo-Mandaic is Ṣabi. In Islam, the “Sabians” are described several times in the Qur’an as People of the Book, alongside Jews and Christians. Occasionally, Mandaeans are called “Christians of Saint John”.

According to most scholars, Mandaeaism originated sometime in the first three centuries AD, in either southwestern Mesopotamia or the Syro-Palestinian area. However, some scholars take the view that Mandaeanism is older and dates from pre-Christian times.

The name ‘Mandaean’ is said to come from the Aramaic manda or mandaiia from meaning “knowledge” or “Knowledge of Life,” as does Greek gnosis. This etymology suggests that the Mandaeans may well be the only sect surviving from late Antiquity to identify themselves explicitly as Gnostics.

In contrast with the religious texts of the western Gnostic sects formerly found in Syria and Egypt, the earliest Mandaean religious texts suggest a more strictly dualistic theology, typical of other Iranian religions such as Zoroastrianism, Zurvanism, Manichaeism, and the teachings of Mazdak.

In these texts, instead of a large pleroma, there is a discrete division between light and darkness. The ruler of darkness is called Ptahil (similar to the Gnostic Demiurge), and the originator of the light (i.e. God) is only known as “the great first Life from the worlds of light, the sublime one that stands above all works.”

When this being emanated, other spiritual beings became increasingly corrupted, and they and their ruler Ptahil created our world. The name Ptahil is suggestive of the Egyptian Ptah – the Mandaeans believe that they were resident in Egypt for a while – joined to the semitic El, meaning “god”.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that Ptahil alone does not constitute the demiurge but only fills that role insofar as he is the creator of our world. Rather, Ptahil is the lowest of a group of three “demiurgic” beings, the other two being Yushamin (a.k.a. Joshamin) and Abathur.

Abathur’s demiurgic role consists of his sitting in judgment upon the souls of mortals. The role of Yushamin, the senior being, is more obscure; wanting to create a world of his own, he was severely punished for opposing the King of Light. The name may derive from Iao haš-šammayim (in Hebrew: Yahweh “of the heavens”).

While Mandaeans agree with other gnostic sects that the world is a prison governed by the planetary archons, they do not view it as a cruel and inhospitable one. According to Manichaeism, a major religious movement that was founded by the Iranian prophet Mani (Syriac: mɑni, Latin: Manes; c. 216–276) in the Sasanian Empire, cosmos is based on a struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness.

Through an ongoing process that takes place in human history, light is gradually removed from the world of matter and returned to the world of light, whence it came. Its beliefs were based on local Mesopotamian religious movements and Gnosticism.

Maya (Sanskrit: “magic” or “illusion”) is a fundamental concept in Hindu philosophy. It has multiple meanings in Indian philosophies depending on the context. In ancient Vedic literature, Māyā literally implies extraordinary power and wisdom.

Maya originally denoted the magic power with which a god can make human beings believe in what turns out to be an illusion. By extension, it later came to mean the powerful force that creates the cosmic illusion that the phenomenal world is real.

For the Nondualists, maya is thus that cosmic force that presents the infinite brahman (the supreme being) as the finite phenomenal world. Maya is reflected on the individual level by human ignorance (ajnana) of the real nature of the self, which is mistaken for the empirical ego but which is in reality identical with brahman.

Maya has multiple meanings in Indian philosophies depending on the context. In ancient Vedic literature, Māyā literally implies extraordinary power and wisdom. In later Vedic texts and modern literature dedicated to Indian traditions, Māyā connotes a magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem.

Māyā is also a spiritual concept connoting that which exists, but is constantly changing and thus is spiritually unreal, and the power or the principle that conceals the true character of spiritual reality.

In Buddhism, Maya is the name of Gautama Buddha’s mother. In Hinduism, Maya is also an epithet for goddess, and the name of a manifestation of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, prosperity and love. Maya is also a name for girls.

Lakshmi is the wife and shakti (energy) of Vishnu (the “preserver”), one of the principal deities of Hinduism and the Supreme Being in the Vaishnavism Tradition. The Trimūrti (“three forms”) is the trinity of supreme divinity in Hinduism in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified as a triad of deities.

The Trimūrti typically consist of Brahma (the ”creator”), Vishnu (the “preserver”), and Shiva (the “destroyer”), though individual denominations may vary from that particular line-up. When all three deities of the Trimurti incarnate into a single avatar known as Dattatreya.

Maya is used to denote both Prakriti (“nature”) and the deluding power. Prakriti is the dynamic energy of God. Prakṛti, also Prakṛiti or Prakṛuti, is a key concept in Hinduism that refers to the primal matter with three different innate qualities (Guṇas) whose equilibrium is the basis of all observed empirical reality.

Prakriti is a Vedic era concept, which means “making or placing before or at first, the original or natural form or condition of anything, original or primary substance.” It connotes “the material world, nature, body, matter, physical and psychological character, constitution, temper, disposition, phenomenal universe” in Hindu texts.

It contrasts with Purusha which is pure awareness and metaphysical consciousness. While Purusha is the principle of pure consciousness Prakriti is the principle of matter, where Purusha is the masculine in every living being as consciousness Prakriti is the feminine and substrate which accepts the Purusha.

In Samkhya-Yoga texts, Prakriti is the potency that brings about evolution and change in the empirical universe. It is described in Bhagavad Gita as the “primal motive force”. It is the essential constituent of the universe and is at the basis of all the activity of the creation. In Jainism the term Prakriti is used in its theory of Karma, and is considered “that form of matter which covers the perfections of the soul (jiva) and prevents its liberation”.

In Indian languages derived from Indo-European Sanskrit roots, Prakriti refers to the feminine aspect of all life forms, and more specifically a woman is seen as a symbol of Prakriti. In Hindu mythologies, Prakriti is the feminine aspect of existence, the personified will and energy of the Supreme (Brahman); while in Shaktism, the Goddess is presented as both the Brahman and the Prakriti. The term is also found in the texts of other Indian religions such as Jainism, and Buddhism.

According to some schools of Hinduism, Prakriti exists eternally as a separate entity from God. Just like Him, it is unborn, uncreated, independent and indestructible. It either acts independently of Him or acts in unison with Him as a co-creator or partner.

According to other schools, Prakriti is the dynamic energy of God, either latent or created on purpose. It comes into existence during the act of creation, as a manifestation of His Will, to envelop the beings He creates and subject them to the state of duality. Whether it is independent of Him or dependent, all schools of Hinduism, with a few exceptions, recognize God as the Creator.

According to Samkhya and the Bhagavad Gita Prakrti is composed of the three gunas which are tendencies or modes of operation, known as rajas (creation), sattva (preservation), and tamas (destruction).

Sattva encompasses qualities of goodness, light, and harmony. Rajas is associated with concepts of energy, activity, and passion; so that, depending on how it is used, it can either have a supportive or hindering effect on the evolution of the soul. Tamas is commonly associated with inertia, darkness, insensitivity. Souls who are more tamasic are considered imbued in darkness and take the longest to reach liberation.

Kālī is a Hindu goddess and is one of the ten Mahavidyas, a list which combines Sakta and Buddhist goddesses. Kali’s earliest appearance is that of a destroyer of evil forces. She is the goddess of one of the four subcategories of the Kulamārga, a category of tantric Saivism.

Over time she has been worshipped by devotional movements and tantric sects variously as the Divine Mother, Mother of the Universe, Adi Shakti, or Adi Parashakti. Shakta Hindu and Tantric sects additionally worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman. She is also seen as divine protector and the one who bestows moksha, or liberation.

Kālī is the feminine form of kālam (“black, dark coloured”). Kālī also shares the meaning of “time” or “the fullness of time” with the masculine noun “kāla”—and by extension, time as “changing aspect of nature that bring things to life or death.” Other names include Kālarātri (“the black night”), and Kālikā (“the black one”).

The homonymous kāla (“appointed time”), which depending on context can mean “death,” is distinct from kāla (“black”), but has been associated through popular etymology. The association is seen in a passage from the Mahābhārata, depicting a female figure who carries away the spirits of slain warriors and animals.

She is called kālarātri (“night of death”) and also kālī (“the black one”). Kālī is also the feminine form of Kāla, an epithet of Shiva, and thus the consort of Shiva. She is often depicted naked which symbolizes her being beyond the covering of Maya since she is pure (nirguna) being-consciousness-bliss and far above prakriti.

She is shown as very dark as she is brahman in its supreme unmanifest state. She has no permanent qualities—she will continue to exist even when the universe ends. It is therefore believed that the concepts of color, light, good, bad do not apply to her.

There are many varied depictions of the different forms of Kali. The most common shows her with four arms and hands, showing aspects of creation and destruction. She is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her.

Consciousness and energy are dependent upon each other, since Shiva depends on Shakti, or energy, in order to fulfill his role in creation, preservation, and destruction. In this view, without Shakti, Shiva is a corpse—unable to act.

There are several interpretations of the symbolism behind the commonly represented image of Kali standing on Shiva’s supine form. A common one is that Shiva symbolizes purusha, the universal unchanging aspect of reality, or pure consciousness.

Kali represents Prakriti, nature or matter, sometimes seen as having a feminine quality. The merging of these two qualities represent ultimate reality. A tantric interpretation sees Shiva as consciousness and Kali as power or energy.

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

In Norse mythology, Sif is a goddess associated with earth. She is the wife of the thunder god Thor and is known for her golden hair. Scholars have proposed that Sif’s hair may represent fields of golden wheat, that she may be associated with fertility, family and wedlock.

The name Sif is the singular form of the plural Old Norse word sifjar. Sifjar only appears in singular form when referring to the goddess as a proper noun. Sifjar is cognate to the Old English sib (meaning “affinity, connection, by marriage”).

The swastika used in Buddhist art and scripture is known as a manji (Japanese; whirlwind), and represents Dharma, universal harmony, and the balance of opposites. In China, it is called wan. It is derived from the Hindu religious swastika, but it is not identical in meaning.

The Manji is made up of several elements: a vertical axis representing the joining of heaven and earth, a horizontal axis representing the connection of yin and yang, and the four arms, representing movement- the whirling force created by the interaction of these elements.

When facing left, it is the Omote (front facing) Manji, representing love and mercy. Facing right, it represents strength and intelligence, and is called the Ura (rear facing) Manji. In Zen Buddhism, the Manji represents an ideal harmony between love and intellect.

In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (“dark-bright”, “negative-positive”) describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

Many tangible dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water, expanding and contracting) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality symbolized by yin and yang. This duality lies at the origins of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy as well as being a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine, and a central principle of different forms of Chinese martial arts and exercise.

Duality is found in many belief systems, but yin and yang are parts of an oneness that is also equated with the Tao. The term ‘dualistic-monism’ or dialectical monism has been coined in an attempt to express this fruitful paradox of simultaneous unity/duality.

Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. According to this philosophy, everything has both yin and yang aspects (for instance, shadow cannot exist without light).

Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation. The yin yang (i.e. taijitu symbol) shows a balance between two opposites with a portion of the opposite element in each section.

In Taoist metaphysics, distinctions between good and bad, along with other dichotomous moral judgments, are perceptual, not real; so, the duality of yin and yang is an indivisible whole. In the ethics of Confucianism on the other hand, most notably in the philosophy of Dong Zhongshu (c. 2nd century BC), a moral dimension is attached to the idea of yin and yang.

Yin and yang are semantically complex words. A reliable Chinese-English dictionary gives the following translation equivalents: Yin:negative/passive/female principle in nature, the moon, shaded orientation, covert; concealed; hidden, negative etc. Yang: positive/active/male principle in nature, the sun, in relief, open; overt, belonging to this world, masculine.

Shiva (Śiva, lit. the auspicious one) is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is worshiped as the supreme god within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism. He is the destroyer within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. In Shaivism tradition, Shiva is the “creator, destroyer and regenerator”.

At the highest level, Shiva is regarded as formless, limitless, transcendent and unchanging absolute Brahman, and the primal Atman (soul, self) of the universe. He is regarded as the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts.

Shiva has many benevolent and fearsome depictions. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya. In his fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons.

Lingam (“sign, symbol or mark”; also linga, Shiva linga), is an abstract or aniconic representation of the Hindu deity Shiva, used for worship in temples, smaller shrines, or as self-manifested natural objects. In traditional Indian society, the linga is seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of Shiva himself. The lingam is often represented as resting on disc shaped platform.

Shakti (yoni) and Shiva (lingam) is united just like Mars and Venus – but they are one – they are the two parts of the coin. The lingam (meaning “sign”, “symbol” or “phallus”), an abstract or aniconic representation of the Hindu deity, Shiva, worshipped as a symbol of generative power, is often represented alongside the yoni (meaning “origin”, “source”, “vagina” or “womb”), a symbol of the goddess or of his consort Shakti (Kali), the female creative energy that moves through the entire universe.

Since the late 19th century, some have interpreted the yoni and the lingam as aniconic representations of the vulva and a phallus respectively. The lingam is the transcendental source of all that exists.

The lingam united with the yoni represents the nonduality of immanent reality and transcendental potentiality. Their union represents the “indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female, the passive space and active time from which all life originates”. Their union represents the eternal process of creation and regeneration. As Shiva is represented as an endless fire, Lingam-yoni denotes origin of an endless fire which created the universe.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (“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, which signifies both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal, lit. “Great Lady of the Earth” or “Lady of the Great Earth”.

In Sumerian myths, Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. In the ancient Sumerian poem Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld Ereshkigal is described as Inanna’s older sister. Inanna, the ancient Sumerian goddess of love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, combat, justice, and political power, and Ereshkigal represent polar opposites. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven, but Ereshkigal is the queen of Irkalla.

Hieros gamos or Hierogamy (“holy marriage”) is a sexual ritual that plays out a marriage between a god and a goddess, especially when enacted in a symbolic ritual where human participants represent the deities.

Sacred prostitution was common in the Ancient Near East as a form of “Sacred Marriage” or hieros gamos between the king of a Sumerian city-state and the High Priestess of Inanna. Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers there were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The temple of Eanna, meaning “house of heaven” in Uruk was the greatest of these.

The temple housed Nadītu, priestesses of the goddess. The high priestess would choose for her bed a young man who represented the shepherd Dumuzid, consort of Inanna, in a hieros gamos celebrated during the annual Duku ceremony, just before Invisible Moon, with the autumn Equinox (Autumnal Zag-mu Festival).

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 or Namma, a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology.

Ma is a Sumerian word meaning “land” that in Sumerian mythology was also used to regard Primordial Land. The same name Ma appears again later, also tied to the Earth, in Ma being referred to as “Mother of the mountain” – in this case, Kur (Mountain) the first dragon god. The underworld Kur is the void space between the primeval sea (Abzu) and the earth (Ma). Which seem a likely pairing for parentage, in a fuzzy set of records.

Namma was 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.

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. Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.

In the religion of ancient Babylon, Tiamat (TI.AMAT or TAM.TUM, Greek: Thaláttē) is a primordial goddess of the salt sea, mating with Abzû, the god of fresh water, to produce younger gods. Tiamat was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.

Tiamat is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation. She is referred to as a woman, and described as the glistening one. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon. The Enûma Elish states that Tiamat gave birth to dragons and serpents among a more general list of monsters including scorpion men and merpeople, but does not identify her form as that of a dragon; however, other sources containing the same myth do refer to her as such.

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”.

Abzu (or Apsû) fathered upon Tiamat the elder deities Lahmu and Lahamu (masc. the “hairy”), a title given to the gatekeepers at Enki’s Abzu/E’engurra-temple in Eridu. Lahmu and Lahamu, in turn, were the parents of the ‘ends’ of the heavens (Anshar, from an-šar = heaven-totality/end) and the earth (Kishar); Anshar and Kishar were considered to meet at the horizon, becoming, thereby, the parents of Anu (Heaven) and Ki (Earth).

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

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

In the myth recorded on cuneiform tablets, the deity Enki (later Ea) believed correctly that Apsu was planning to murder the younger deities, upset with the chaos they created, and so captured him and held him prisoner beneath his temple the E-Abzu. This angered Kingu, their son, who reported the event to Tiamat, whereupon she fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu’s death.

These were her own offspring: Bašmu (“Venomous Snake”), Ušumgallu (“Great Dragon”), Mušmaḫḫū (“Exalted Serpent”), Mušḫuššu (“Furious Snake”), Laḫmu (the “Hairy One”), Ugallu (the “Big Weather-Beast”), Uridimmu (“Mad Lion”), Girtablullû (“Scorpion-Man”), Umū dabrūtu (“Violent Storms”), Kulullû (“Fish-Man”) and Kusarikku (“Bull-Man”).

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

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, (replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea), first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear.

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

Ishara (išḫara) is an ancient deity of unknown origin from northern modern Syria. She is a pre-Hurrian and perhaps pre-Semitic deity. She first appeared in Ebla and was incorporated to the Hurrian pantheon from which she found her way to the Hittite pantheon. 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. 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.

Ishara first appears in the pre-Sargonic texts from Ebla and then as a goddess of love in Old Akkadian potency-incantations. 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 (I 301-304) she is called upon to bless the couple on the honeymoon.

She was, however, associated with the underworld. Her astrological embodiment is the constellation Scorpio and she is called the mother of the Sebitti (the Seven Stars). While she was considered to belong to the entourage of Ishtar, she was invoked to heal the sick.

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”.

The Sumerian goddess Sherida, consort of the sun god Utu, is one of the oldest Mesopotamian gods. As the Sumerian pantheon formalized, Utu became the primary sun god, and Sherida was syncretized into a subordinate role as an aspect of the sun alongside other less powerful solar deities and took on the role of Utu’s consort.

Attested in inscriptions from pre-Sargonic times, her name (as “Aya”), consort of the sun god Shamash, 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.

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

As the lord of the visible and invisible universe god undertakes five different functions, namely, creator, preserver, destroyer, concealer and bestower of grace. In his role as concealer he unleashes the power of Maya through Prakriti to conceal himself from what he creates and delude all the living beings (jivas) into thinking that what they experience through their senses is true and that they are independent of the objects and other beings they perceive through their senses. Maya therefore causes ignorance and through ignorance perpetuates the notion of duality, which is responsible for our bondage and mortality upon earth.

When we know that maya is the power that blinds us, binds us and deludes us, we become aware of the extent of its influence and its role in our lives. Out of this awareness comes a sense of caution and discriminating, which ultimately leads to our salvation. But till we reach that stage, we remain in the grip of maya, like fish, caught helplessly in a net. Saivism recognizes maya as one of the pasas (bonds) or malas (impurities).

It is responsible for our animal (pasu) existence or beingness and becomingness. It causes in us ignorance and egoism and binds us to the objects we desire and seek. It makes us believe that the objective world in which we live and experience alone is true. It draws us outwardly and binds us to the things, we love or hate or we want to possess or get rid of.

It is responsible for our experience of time and space which otherwise do not exist. It conceals our true nature and makes us believe that we are mere physical and mental beings. Through its powerful pull, it draws us forcefully into the objective reality of the world in which we live and binds us to things and events through our thoughts and desires.

Unlike the western religion, in Hinduism God is not separate from His creation. His creation is an extension of Him and an aspect of Him. This world comes into existence, when God expands Himself outwardly, like a web woven by a spider. In His subjective and absolute state, His creation is unreal and illusory, but in our objective and sensory experience and in our beingness it is very much real and tangible.

It is a projection or reflection of Him, like the objects in the mirror and the mirror itself, different from Him somewhat, but also not so different, dependent but virtually distinct. He uses the concealing power of His own maya to draw Himself into Prakriti and conceal Himself in it as a limited and diluted being.

It is through the senses and their activity that beings are subjected to delusion. The Bhagavadgita explains the process thus, “By constantly thinking of the sense objects, a mortal being becomes attached to them. Attached thus he develops various desires, from which in turn ensues anger. From anger comes delusion, and from delusion arises confusion of memory. From confusion of memory arises loss of intelligence and when intelligence is lost the breath of life is also lost (2.60-63).”

So the sense first draw out and involve us with what we see and experience. Through this constant contact with the sense objects, we develop attachment with them. This attachment in turn causes desires.

Because of the desires, we want to own and possess things, we develop likes and dislikes, attraction and aversion. We draw ourselves into situations and relationships we believe will lead to our happiness and fulfillment. We become so involved in the process and with Prakriti that we forget who we are and why we are here or what we need to do in order to be ourselves.

Maya causes delusion in many ways. Under the influence of Maya an individual loses his intelligence and power of discretion. He forgets his true nature. He loses contact with his true self and believes that he is the physical self with a mind and body that are subject to constant change, instability, and birth and death.

In that delusion he believes that he is doer of his actions, that he is responsible for his actions, that he is alone and independent, that he cannot live with or without certain things and so on, where as in truth he is an aspect of God, who has concealed himself, who is actually the real doer, and for whose experience all this has been created.

Because of his ignorant thinking, he develops attachment with worldly objects and wants to possess them. He spends his life in the pursuit of unworthy objectives in the world considering them to be imperative for his success, survival, happiness and personal pride.

He accepts as true what his senses perceive, ignoring the truth that is hidden in every thing or that lies beyond his mind and senses. Driven by passions and emotions, instincts and desires, he suffers from the conflicting experiences and sensations of heat and cold, happiness and sorrow, success and failure, and union and separation from what is desirable and undesirable.

He becomes restless, driven by the passions and emotions of his unstable and undisciplined mind. Deluded thus, he pursues wrong aims, indulges in wrong actions and suffers from the consequences of his own actions and gets caught in the cycle of births and deaths. One can overcome the power of maya, by developing detachment, by withdrawing the senses from sense objects, by surrendering to God and by performing desireless actions accepting God as the doer.

The world in which we live is a projection of God and unreal. It is unreal not because it does not exist, but because it is unstable, impermanent, unreliable and illusory. It is unreal because it hides the Truth and shows us things that lead to our ignorance. It is unreal because it changes its colors every moment. What is now is not what is next.

In one moment so many things happen here. Many new souls enter. Many depart also. Friends become enemies and enemies friends. The sun and the earth change their positions continuously in space and time, while the wind moves, the rivers flow and the oceans shift their currents.

The people who live on earth are also very fickle. Their minds are never stable. Their thoughts never cease. They seem to live today and disappear tomorrow. While all this is going on in the whole wide world, at the microscopic level, millions of atoms, cells and molecules in the bodies shift and change their positions or get destroyed.

The world in which we live gives us an apparent illusion of stability, where as in truth it is not. It is an illusion to believe that this world is the same always, or that the people we deal with are the same all the time. The world is therefore an illusion, not because it does not exist in the physical sense, but because it is unstable, ever changing, impermanent, unreliable and most important of all never the same.

The scriptures say that it would be unwise on our part to center our lives around such an unstable world, because if you spend your precious life for the sake of impermanent and unreliable things, you are bound to regret in the end for wasting your life in the pursuit of emptiness. The real world lies beyond our ordinary senses where our existence would be eternal and where things would not change the way they do in this plane.

The philosophy is very simple but difficult to follow. After all what is illusion? It is something like a mirage which misleads you into wrong thinking and wrong actions. This world precisely does that. It offers you happiness but leads you into the darkness of suffering. It tempts you with many things and when you run after them you find them to be unreal and incapable of quenching your thirst for stability and permanence.

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Chaoskampf – How the ones in power portray their enemies, foreigners and the old (and comming) world order – and sometimes themselves – as a fierce power

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 30, 2018

Chaoskampf

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

The origins of the Chaoskampf myth most likely lie in the Proto-Indo-European religion whose descendants almost all feature some variation of the story of a storm god fighting a sea serpent representing the clash between the forces of order and chaos.

Early work by German academics such as Gunkel and Bousset in comparative mythology popularized translating the mythological sea serpent as a “dragon.” In particular, the Typhonomachy is generally thought to have been influenced by several Near Eastern monster-slaying myths.

Indo-European examples of this mythic trope include Thor vs. Jörmungandr (Norse), Tarḫunz vs. Illuyanka (Hittite), Indra vs. Vritra (Vedic), Θraētaona vs. Aži Dahāka (Avestan) and Zeus vs. Typhon (Greek) among others. Non-Indo-European examples of this trope are Yahweh vs. Leviathan (Hebrew), Susano’o vs. Yamata no Orochi (Japanese) and Mwindo vs. Kirimu (African).

The mušḫuššu

Ḫaldi (also known as Khaldi) was one of the three chief deities of Urartu. He was portrayed as a man with or without wings, standing on a lion. Some sources claim that the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation, Hayk, is derived from Ḫaldi. Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art, was the wife of Khaldi.

The other two chief deities were Theispas, the Urartian weather-god, notably the god of storms and thunder, of Kumenu, and the solar god Shivini of Tushpa, who is equal to Utu in Sumerian, Shiva in Hinduism, Mithra in Mithraism, Ra in Egypt and Artinis by the Armenians.

Khaldi was a warrior god to whom the kings of Urartu would pray for victories in battle. His shrine was at Ardini, in Assyrian known as Muṣaṣir. The temples dedicated to Khaldi were adorned with weapons such as swords, spears, bows and arrows, and shields hung from the walls and were sometimes known as ‘the house of weapons’.

The location of Ardini is not known with certainty, although there are a number of hypotheses in the Zagros south of Lake Urmia. It was attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC. It was acquired by the Urartian King Ishpuini ca. 800 BC. The temple, built in 825 BC, was an important temple in the holy city of Urartu.

The name Musasir in Akkadian means exit of the serpent/snake. MUŠ is the Sumerian term for “serpent”. The form mušḫuššu is the Akkadian nominative of the Sumerian MUŠ.ḪUS (“reddish snake”, sometimes also translated as “fierce snake” or “splendor serpent”).

The mušḫuššu is a creature depicted on the reconstructed Ishtar Gate of the city of Babylon, dating to the 6th century BC. It was a mythological hybrid, a scaly dragon with hind legs resembling the talons of an eagle, feline forelegs, a long neck and tail, a horned head, a snake-like tongue, and a crest.

It is the sacred animal of Marduk and his son Nabu during the Neo-Babylonian Empire. It was taken over by Marduk from Tishpak, an Akkadian god who replaced the god Ninazu as the tutelary deity of the city of Eshnunna, an ancient Sumerian and later Akkadian city and city-state in central Mesopotamia c. 3000-1700 BC.

Set and the Set animal

In ancient Egyptian art, the Set animal, or sha, is usually depicted at rest, either lying down or seated. The shape of the head often resembles a giraffe, causing confusion between the two signs. The general body shape is that of a canine.

The linguistic use of these hieroglyphs in the Egyptian language is as the determinative for words portraying “items with chaos”, example words related to “suffering, violence, perturbation”, and also for “violent storms” of the atmosphere, a “tempest”.

The earliest representations of what might be the Set animal comes from a tomb dating to the Amratian culture (“Naqada I”) of prehistoric Egypt (3790 BC–3500 BC), though this identification is uncertain.

However, according to Egyptologist Richard H. Wilkinson, the first known use of the Set animal was upon a ceremonial Scorpion Macehead of Scorpion II of Naqada III. The head and the forked tail of the Set animal are clearly present.

It was soon after portrayed mounted upon the serekhs of the Second Dynasty kings Seth-Peribsen and Khasekhemwy. In Twelfth Dynasty tombs at Beni Hasan; and, in the form of Set, in the royal cartouches of the Nineteenth Dynasty pharaohs Seti I and Seti II and the Twentieth Dynasty king Setnakhte and his descendants.

Drawings of the sha appear in Egyptian artwork from Naqada III until at least the period of the New Kingdom, a period of some two thousand years. Although sometimes described as a fantastic or composite animal, it was depicted in a realistic manner more typical of actual creatures.

The Set animal is the totemic animal of the god Set, a god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence, and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion. Set had a positive role where he accompanies Ra on his solar boat to repel Apep, the serpent of Chaos.

In Egyptian mythology, Set is portrayed as the usurper who killed and mutilated his own brother Osiris. Osiris’ wife Isis reassembled (remembered) Osiris’ corpse and resurrected her dead husband long enough to conceive his son and heir Horus. Horus sought revenge upon Set, and the myths describe their conflicts.

Set was depicted standing on the prow of Ra’s barge defeating the dark serpent Apep or Apophis was the ancient Egyptian deity who embodied chaos (ı͗zft in Egyptian) and was thus the opponent of light and Ma’at (order/truth).

In some Late Period representations, such as in the Persian Period Temple of Hibis at Khargah, Set was represented in this role with a falcon’s head, taking on the guise of Horus. In the Amduat Set is described as having a key role in overcoming Apep.

Set had a vital role as a reconciled combatant. He was lord of the red (desert) land where he was the balance to Horus’ role as lord of the black (soil) land. The Set-animal is one of the portrayals of the god Set. The other common hieroglyph used to represent Set is a seated god with the head of the Set animal.

During the Second Intermediate Period (1650–1550 BC), a group of Asiatic foreign chiefs known as the Hyksos (literally, “rulers of foreign lands”) gained the rulership of Egypt, and ruled the Nile Delta, from Avaris.

They chose Set, originally Upper Egypt’s chief god, the god of foreigners and the god they found most similar to their own chief god, as their patron. Set then became worshiped as the chief god once again.

When, c. 1522 BC, Ahmose I overthrew the Hyksos and expelled them, Egyptians’ attitudes towards Asiatic foreigners became xenophobic, and royal propaganda discredited the period of Hyksos rule. The Set cult at Avaris flourished, nevertheless, and the Egyptian garrison of Ahmose stationed there became part of the priesthood of Set.

The demonization of Set took place after Egypt’s conquest by several foreign nations in the Third Intermediate and Late Periods. Set, who had traditionally been the god of foreigners, thus also became associated with foreign oppressors, including the Assyrian and Persian empires.

It was during this time that Set was particularly vilified, and his defeat by Horus widely celebrated. The Greeks would later associate Set with Typhon, a monstrous and evil force of raging nature. Both were sons of deities representing the Earth (Gaia and Geb) who attacked the principal deities (Osiris for Set, Zeus for Typhon). Nevertheless, throughout this period, in some outlying regions of Egypt, Set was still regarded as the heroic chief deity.

Set has also been classed as a trickster deity who, as a god of disorder, resorts to deception to achieve bad ends. Yet it is perhaps most telling that Seth’s cult persisted with astonishing potency even into the latter days of ancient Egyptian religion.

Typhon

Because Set was identified with the Greek Typhon from c. 500 BC, the animal is also commonly known as the Typhonian animal or Typhonic beast. Typhon was a monstrous serpentine giant and the most deadly creature in Greek mythology.

According to Hesiod, Typhon was the son of Gaia and Tartarus. However one source has Typhon as the son of Hera alone, while another makes Typhon the offspring of Cronus. Typhon and his mate Echidna were the progenitors of many famous monsters.

Typhon attempted to overthrow Zeus for the supremacy of the cosmos. The two fought a cataclysmic battle, which Zeus finally won with the aid of his thunderbolts. Defeated, Typhon was cast into Tartarus, buried underneath Mount Etna or the island of Ischia.

Typhon mythology is part of the Greek succession myth, which explained how Zeus came to rule the gods. Typhon’s story is also connected with that of Python (the serpent killed by Apollo), and both stories probably derived from several Near Eastern antecedents.

The Typhonomachy, Zeus’ battle and defeat of Typhon, is just one part of a larger “Succession Myth” given in Hesiod’s Theogony (i.e. “the genealogy or birth of the gods”), a poem by Hesiod (8th – 7th century BC) describing the origins and genealogies of the Greek gods.

The Thogony describes how Uranus, the original ruler of the cosmos, hid his offspring away inside Gaia, but was overthrown by his Titan son Cronus, who castrated Uranus, and how in turn, Cronus, who swallowed his children as they were born, was himself overthrown by his son Zeus, whose mother had given Cronus a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes to swallow, in place of Zeus.

However Zeus is then confronted with one final adversary, Typhon, which he quickly defeats. Now clearly the supreme power in the cosmos, Zeus is elected king of gods. Zeus then establishes and secures his realm through the apportionment of various functions and responsibilities to the other gods, and by means of marriage.

Finally, by swallowing his first wife Metis (“wisdom,” “skill,” or “craft”), who was destined to produce a son stronger than himself, Zeus is able to put an end to the cycle of succession. Metis was an Oceanid, the daughters of Oceanus and his sister Tethys, who were three thousand in number.

Typhon’s story seems related to that of another monstrous offspring of Gaia: Python, the serpent killed by Apollo at Delphi, suggesting a possible common origin. Besides the similarity of names, their shared parentage, and the fact that both were snaky monsters killed in single combat with an Olympian god, there are other connections between the stories surrounding Typhon, and those surrounding Python.

Although the Delphic monster killed by Apollo is usually said to be the male serpent Python, in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, the earliest account of this story, the god kills a nameless she-serpent (drakaina), subsequently called Delphyne, who had been Typhon’s foster-mother.

Delphyne and Echidna, besides both being intimately connected to Typhon—one as mother, the other as mate—share other similarities. Both were half-maid and half-snake, a plague to men, and associated with the Corycian cave in Cilicia.

Python was also perhaps connected with a different Corycian Cave than the one in Cilicia, this one on the slopes of Parnassus above Delphi. Just as the Corcian cave in Cilicia was thought to be Typhon and Echidna’s lair, and associated with Typhon’s battle with Zeus, there is evidence to suggest that the Corycian cave above Delphi was supposed to be Python’s (or Delphyne’s) lair, and associated with his (or her) battle with Apollo.

From at least as early as Pindar, and possibly as early as Homer and Hesiod (with their references to the Arimoi and Arima), Typhon’s birth place and battle with Zeus were associated with various Near East locales in Cilicia and Syria, including the Corycian Cave, Mount Kasios, and the Orontes River.

Besides this coincidence of place, the Hesiodic succession myth, (including the Typhonomachy), as well as other Greek accounts of these myths, exhibit other parallels with several ancient Near Eastern antecedents, and it is generally held that the Greek accounts are intimately connected with, and influenced by, these Near Eastern counterparts.

Tiamat

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 or Namma, a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology.

Ma is a Sumerian word meaning “land” that in Sumerian mythology was also used to regard Primordial Land. The same name Ma appears again later, also tied to the Earth, in Ma being referred to as “Mother of the mountain” – in this case, Kur (Mountain) the first dragon god. The underworld Kur is the void space between the primeval sea (Abzu) and the earth (Ma). Which seem a likely pairing for parentage, in a fuzzy set of records.

Namma was 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.

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. Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.

In the religion of ancient Babylon, Tiamat (TI.AMAT or TAM.TUM, Greek: Thaláttē) is a primordial goddess of the salt sea, mating with Abzû, the god of fresh water, to produce younger gods. Tiamat was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.

Tiamat is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation. She is referred to as a woman, and described as the glistening one. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon. The Enûma Elish states that Tiamat gave birth to dragons and serpents among a more general list of monsters including scorpion men and merpeople, but does not identify her form as that of a dragon; however, other sources containing the same myth do refer to her as such.

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”.

Abzu (or Apsû) fathered upon Tiamat the elder deities Lahmu and Lahamu (masc. the “hairy”), a title given to the gatekeepers at Enki’s Abzu/E’engurra-temple in Eridu. Lahmu and Lahamu, in turn, were the parents of the ‘ends’ of the heavens (Anshar, from an-šar = heaven-totality/end) and the earth (Kishar); Anshar and Kishar were considered to meet at the horizon, becoming, thereby, the parents of Anu (Heaven) and Ki (Earth).

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

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

In the myth recorded on cuneiform tablets, the deity Enki (later Ea) believed correctly that Apsu was planning to murder the younger deities, upset with the chaos they created, and so captured him and held him prisoner beneath his temple the E-Abzu. This angered Kingu, their son, who reported the event to Tiamat, whereupon she fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu’s death.

These were her own offspring: Bašmu (“Venomous Snake”), Ušumgallu (“Great Dragon”), Mušmaḫḫū (“Exalted Serpent”), Mušḫuššu (“Furious Snake”), Laḫmu (the “Hairy One”), Ugallu (the “Big Weather-Beast”), Uridimmu (“Mad Lion”), Girtablullû (“Scorpion-Man”), Umū dabrūtu (“Violent Storms”), Kulullû (“Fish-Man”) and Kusarikku (“Bull-Man”).

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

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, (replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea), first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear.

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

 

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Gobekli Tepe: The Cosmic Connection – Did its Builders Have Their Eyes on the Skies?

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 30, 2018

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.

The oblong T-heads can be regarded as abstract depictions of the human head, the smaller side representing the face. Clearly visible are arms on the pillars’ shafts with hands brought together above the abdomen.

The depiction of belts and loincloths in the shape of animal skins underlines the impression that these T-shaped pillars own an anthropomorphic identity and therefore should be regarded as pillar-statues more precisely. Some small bones from a foxtail found in front of one of the central pillar’s hints at the presence of a real fur here once, maybe as some kind of offering or indeed to be understood as a genuine counterpart to the loincloth depicted.

Since this relief of a loincloth is covering the genital region of the pillar-statues, we cannot be sure about the gender of the two individuals depicted in the centre. But some help may come from the clay figurines from the PPN B site of Nevalı Çori about 50 km north of Göbekli Tepe, now flooded by the Atatürk dam reservoir.

Apparently, of those figurines depicting both, male and female individuals, only the male ones are wearing belts. Thus, it is highly probable to assume that the pair of pillars in Enclosure D should represent two male individuals, too.

In the knowledge that megalithic monuments worldwide have been found to possess alignments towards celestial bodies, such as the sun, moon and stars, it is reasonable to suggest that something similar might have been going on at Göbekli Tepe, with the most obvious candidates for orientation being the various sets of twin pillars at the center of the monuments.

These could well have acted as astronomical markers of some kind, especially in the knowledge that in the past a clear view of the local horizon in all directions would have been available from the position of the various enclosures, which grace the summit of a mountain ridge visible for miles around.

Even a cursory glance at the positioning of the different sets of twin pillars shows them to be aligned roughly north-south, suggesting that they are unlikely to have targeted the sun, moon, or planets, which rise in the east and set in the west.

Clearly, if their orientations meant anything, then the enclosures must have been built to target a star or stellar object of some kind that either rose or set close to the north-south meridian line that divides the sky in two and crosses directly overhead.

Orion

Establishing the orientations of the enclosures’ central pillars was put to chartered engineer Rodney Hale, who for the past 15 years has made a detailed study of stellar alignments at prehistoric and sacred sites around the world.

He examined survey plans of the monuments at Göbekli Tepe and determined that the central pillars in Enclosures B, C, D and E (the “Felsentempel,” or “rock temple,” located to the west of the main group) all seemed to be aligned just west of north and, equally, just east of south.

Among the southern star groups and constellations looked at by Hale were the Hyades, Taurus, the Pleiades and Orion (more specifically its three “belt” stars), all of which have been claimed to match the orientations of the twin pillars in the various enclosures at Göbekli Tepe during the epoch of their construction, c. 9500–8000 BC.

Out of these, just one candidate emerged as perhaps playing some role at Göbekli Tepe, and this was Orion, the celestial hunter. However, there is a fundamental problem in even assuming that the enclosures were built to face south, for although the human-like features of the central monoliths are all turned in this direction, there is no reason to assume they are observing the southern skyline.

More likely is that they face the entrant approaching from the south, in the same manner that statues in churches face the worshipper approaching the high altar. Church altars are placed in the east, since this is the direction of heaven in Christian tradition. Just because Jesus, St. Michael, or the Virgin Mary might face away from the high altar, does not mean that they gaze out towards the western skyline.

In Göbekli Tepe’s case, if its enclosures did have a high altar, then it would be in the north, the direction of darkness, where the sun never rises. It is, on the other hand, the direction of the celestial pole, the turning point of the heavens.

Northerly orientations of early Neolithic cult buildings have been determined in southeast Anatolia at various other early Neolithic sites such as Çayönü, Nevali Çori, and Hallan Cemi. Thus it seems likely that Göbekli Tepe’s enclosures are oriented towards the north, and not the south. Indeed, the T-shaped termination of Enclosure D’s eastern central pillar is tilted downwards in order to greet the entrant, like some kind of god-king receiving his subjects.

Vega and Deneb

There is a possibility that the twin pillars represent the position of Vega, also designated Alpha Lyrae (α Lyrae, abbreviated Alpha Lyr or α Lyr), and/or Deneb, also designated alpha Cygni (α Cygni, abbreviated Alpha Cyg, α Cyg).

Both of these stars would have appeared somewhat higher in the sky and slightly to the right (north) of the ‘downward wriggling snake’ (Serpens) around 10,950 BC. Vega has been extensively studied, and it is said to be the next most important star in the sky after the Sun.

These bright stars would have been pole-stars in earlier millennia (Vega in circa 12,000 BC and Deneb in circa 16,000 BC), and it is possible that the people of Göbekli Tepe still referenced at least one of them, and even continued to use them to define north or a preferred direction.

This possibility is supported by the general orientation of enclosure D, which is in the region of 5 to 10 degrees west of true north. This correlates reasonably well with the position of Vega in 10,950 BC, which would have been around 8 degrees west of true north at the sunset of the summer solstice.

Vega is the brightest star in the constellation of Lyra. It is the fifth-brightest star in the night sky, and the second-brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere after Arcturus. It is relatively close at only 25 light-years from the Sun, and, together with Arcturus and Sirius, one of the most luminous stars in the Sun’s neighborhood.

The Assyrians named Vega Dayan-same, the “Judge of Heaven”, while in Akkadian it was Tir-anna, “Life of Heaven”. In Babylonian astronomy, Vega may have been one of the stars named Dilgan, “the Messenger of Light”.

To the ancient Greeks, the constellation Lyra was formed from the harp of Orpheus, with Vega as its handle. For the Roman Empire, the start of autumn was based upon the hour at which Vega set below the horizon.

Vega and Deneb would have had an altitude of 42 and 67 degrees respectively at the time, and so both should have been visible from enclosure D (GT is built on the south side of a hill, near the top, on ground with a shallow gradient).

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.

Before 9500 BC, Deneb was circumpolar, in that it never set, although after this time, due to the effects of precession, it started to extinguish each night on the north-northwestern horizon.

As the centuries went by, the star’s setting position moved further and further west of north in a manner that not only makes sense of the alignments of the various sets of twin pillars at Göbekli Tepe, but also provides realistic construction dates for the enclosures in question.

Together with other avian constellations near the summer solstice, Vultur cadens and Aquila, Cygnus may be a significant part of the origin of the myth of the Stymphalian Birds, one of The Twelve Labours of Hercules.

Vulture shamanism

The traditional name Vega (earlier Wega) comes from a loose transliteration of the Arabic word wāqi‘ meaning “falling” or “landing”, via the phrase an-nasr al-wāqi‘, “the falling eagle/vulture”. The constellation was represented as a vulture in ancient Egypt, and as an eagle or vulture in ancient India.

Vultures are also prominent in ancient mythology. They were amazed by the vultures ability to only consume death and still produce life. The vulture became associated with rebirth and many gods featured vulture wings or faces.

Vultures were also believed to being the creature that kept the balance of life and death in order. As long as the vultures consumed the dead and were able to reproduce the balance of life was in working order. Vultures also became a feminine symbol because of its rebirth myths.

Clear carvings and depictions of vultures, as well as representations of birdmen, have been found at Göbekli Tepe and other PPN sites in SE Turkey and North Syria. The main relationship between key PPN sites such as Göbekli Tepe and Nevali Çori is the fact that their layout, design and art are the same. They were constructed by the same unique people.

They connect with Çatal Hüyük, the oldest Neolithic city anywhere in the world, situated in southern-central Turkey and dating to 6500 BC, because this was a latter development of the same high culture, and so this city – excavated first in the early 1960s by British archaeologist James Mellaart – can tell us much about the earlier cults at places such as Göbekli Tepe and Nevali Çori.

Like, for example, the Neolithic cult of the dead. At Çatal Hüyük, we find frescoes of vultures accompanying the soul of the deceased into the next world, and also of shamans taking the form of vultures for presumed shamanic practices, such as contacting or journeying into the other world.

Since statues of birdmen, as well as those of vultures, have been found at both Göbekli Tepe and Nevali Çori, we can be pretty sure that the same cult existed here as far back as 11,500-10,000 BP.

There is some evidence to suggest that over time as this culture developed the bird image evolved into that of a vulture-goddess. But most importantly at least one of the murals from Çatal Hüyük apparently shows a human being dressed in a vulture skin.

Taking an eight-thousand year old image of a “human in a vulture skin” and turning it into an early Vulture Shamanism culture could be stretching things a bit… and one should always be careful of making assumptions when the evidence in support of pet theories is tenuous. However, in the last few decades archaeological research has come to light which, when added to the evidence from Çatal Hüyük, begins to lend very strong weight to the idea of a shamanic connection.

The Shaman can “fly” in trance, travelling to the realm of the spirits where he can then either do battle against malign entities, or try and persuade, flatter, cajole or otherwise entreat the spirits to act for the benefit of one or more human beings.

The Eagle 

The golden eagle is the most common national animal in the world. It is also a common motif in the national symbols of countries that have not officially made it the national animal or national bird. The reasons for this are various, but among the nations that use the golden eagle as or in a state symbol, there are two clear traditions that help explain the modern usage.

Among European countries, the golden eagle was the model for the aquila, the most prominent symbol of the Roman legions and more generally the Roman civilization that had such a powerful impact on Western culture.

Eagles were particularly prominent in Roman culture. Many banners, coins and insignias from Rome feature eagles. Furthermore, some classical Roman traditions were carried on by the Eastern Roman Empire in the Southern and Eastern of Europe and the Holy Roman Empire in Central and Western Europe, transmitting the use of the golden eagle to several modern states.

This association of the golden eagle with Rome has also led to the adoption of similar symbols in other countries. Another large tradition of using the golden eagle can be found in the Arab world, where the eagle is historically a symbol of power in Arabic poetry, and was according to legend the personal emblem of Saladin.

The double-headed eagle is one of the oldest symbols. One of the earliest images of the eagle was found during excavations of the Sumerian city of Lagash in Mesopotamia. Ancient Hittites also well knew the symbol. Hittites, like the Sumerians, used it for religious purposes.

The eagle has been a sun symbol and is an attribute of sun gods in many cultures. The eagle is a symbol with multiple meanings. In addition, the eagle is always associated with strength, courage, morality and wisdom. It was considered as a sacred emblem of Zeus, Jupiter, Ninurta (Ningirsu), Nergal and Ashur.

In many cultures, eagles were viewed as a link between terrestrial mankind and celestial deities. The eagle was also considered to be a messenger of the gods, which connected the earth and celestial sphere. In ancient Sumerian mythology, the mythical king Etana was said to have been carried into heaven by an eagle.

Most researchers of this symbol believe the eagle is associated with the sun. The logic here is that the eagle is the king of birds and the sun the is the king of all the planets.  The eagle flies above all, and is closest to the sun.

The eagle personifies power and nobility, reminding to a man of his exalted origin and divine nature. Large outstretched wings are a symbol of protection, sharp claws are a symbol of uncompromising struggle against evil, and white head symbolizes just power.

An eagle with antiquity was known as the royal symbol. It symbolizes rule. It is a sign of kings of the earth and heaven. The double-headed eagle represents the possibility of amplification of power, its extension to the west and east. Allegorically an ancient image of a two-headed bird could represent an unsleeping guardian who sees everything in the east and the west.

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.

Sabazios is the horseman and sky father god of the Phrygians and Thracians. In Indo-European languages, such as Phrygian, the -zios element in his name derives from dyeus, the common precursor of Latin deus (‘god’) and Greek Zeus. The eagle is one of his symbols.

In Christianity, the eagle is the embodiment of divine love, justice, courage, spirit, faith, as well as the symbol of resurrection. As in other traditions, the eagle played a messenger of heaven.

Eagles are often prominent in the Bible, though are sometimes mixed with carrion birds and are not specifically identifiable to species. As the most widespread eagle in the Middle East and Eurasia, certainly many said references must pertain to the golden eagle.

The use of eagles seems generally heavier in the Torah or the Old Testament than in the New Testament. In biblical times, eagles and other meat-eating birds were banned from being eaten since their diet was considered unsavory.

However, eagles are mentioned in the Bible as being admired for their swiftness, great physical power and their seemingly endless endurance. Eagles are one of four dimensions of creation, as a messenger of God, and a skilled predator.

In Hellenistic religion, the golden eagle is the signature bird of the god Zeus, a connection most notable in the myth of Ganymede, where the god adopted the form of a golden eagle to kidnap the boy, as well as the eagle-like daimon Aetos Dios Theoi: Eagle of Zeus.

In Roman religion, the eagle was both the symbol and the messenger of the Roman sky-god, Jupiter. When an emperor died, his body was burned in a funeral pyre and an eagle was released above his ashes to carry his soul to the heavens. At least a few sources also associate it with Helios.

Eagles play a small role in Celtic mythology. In the Welsh tale of Llew Llaw Gyffes, the protagonist escapes death at the hands of a hunter by taking an eagle’s form and killing the hunter who assaulted him.

In Norse mythology, the golden eagle sits atop Yggdrasil, the great ash tree that runs through the universe. A squirrel, Ratsatosk, carries messages and insults between the eagle at the crown and a serpent gnawing at the tree roots.

The heavenly eagle

 Anzû (AN.ZU could mean simply “heavenly eagle”), also known as Zû and Imdugud (Sumerian: AN.IM.DUGUD; meaning “heavy wind”), is a lesser divinity or monster in several Mesopotamian religions. He was conceived by the pure waters of the Apsu and the wide Earth, or as son of Siris, the patron of beer who is conceived of as a demon, which is not necessarily evil.

Anzû was depicted as a massive bird who can breathe fire and water, although Anzû is alternately depicted as a lion-headed eagle. The name of the mythological being usually called Anzû was actually written in the oldest Sumerian cuneiform texts as AN.IM.MI or MUŠEN (meaning “bird”). In texts of the Old Babylonian period, the name is more often found as AN.IM.DUGUD.

Thokild Jacobsen proposed that Anzu was an early form of the god Abu, a minor god of plants who was later syncretized with Ninurta/Ningursu, a god associated with thunderstorms. Abu was referred to as “Father Pasture”, illustrating the connection between rainstorms and the fields growing in Spring.

Abu was one of the eight deities born to relieve the illness of Enki. Abu means “father of plants and vegetation.” Stephen Langdon has proposed that Abu may have been an early name of Tammuz, on the basis that Abu was identified as the consort of Inanna, and that the name Abu did not appear in texts later than the Third Dynasty of Ur.

According to Jacobsen, this god was originally envisioned as a huge black thundercloud in the shape of an eagle, and was later depicted with a lion’s head to connect it to the roar of thunder. Some depictions of Anzu therefore depict the god alongside goats (which, like thunderclouds, were associated with mountains in the ancient Near East) and leafy boughs.

The connection between Anzu and Abu is further reinforced by a statue found in the Tell Asmar Hoard depicting a human figure with large eyes, with an Anzu bird carved on the base. It is likely that this depicts Anzu in his symbolic or earthly form as the Anzu-bird, and in his higher, human-like divine form as Abu.

Though some scholars have proposed that the statue actually represents a human worshiper of Anzu, others have pointed out that it does not fit the usual depiction of Sumerian worshipers, but instead matches similar statues of gods in human form with their more abstract form or their symbols carved onto the base.

In Sumerian and Akkadian mythology, Anzû is a divine storm-bird and the personification of the southern wind and the thunder clouds. This demon—half man and half bird—stole the “Tablet of Destinies” from Enlil and hid them on a mountaintop.

Anu ordered the other gods to retrieve the tablet, even though they all feared the demon. According to one text, Marduk killed the bird; in another, it died through the arrows of the god Ninurta.

Ninlil (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, is the consort goddess of Enlil. She may be the Goddess of the South Wind referred to in the story of Adapa, as her husband Enlil was associated with northerly winter storms.

Anzu also appears in the story of “Inanna and the Huluppu Tree”, which is recorded in the preamble to the Sumerian epic poem Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld. Anzu appears in the Sumerian Lugalbanda and the Anzud Bird (also called: The Return of Lugalbanda).

Also in Babylonian myth, Anzû is a deity associated with cosmogeny. Anzû is represented as stripping the father of the gods of umsimi (which is usually translated “crown” but in this case, as it was on the seat of Bel, it refers to the “ideal creative organ”).

Regarding this, Charles Penglase writes that “Ham is the Chaldean Anzû, and both are cursed for the same allegorically described crime,” which parallels the mutilation of Uranus by Cronus and of Osiris by Set.

The Roc (from Persian: ruḵ) is an enormous legendary bird of prey in the popular mythology of the Middle East. The roc appears in Arabic geographies and natural history, popularized in Arabian fairy tales and sailors’ folklore.

Ibn Battuta tells of a mountain hovering in the air over the China Seas, which was the roc. The popular story collection One Thousand and One Nights includes tales of Abd al-Rahman and Sinbad the Sailor, both of which include the roc.

The Garuda, also known as Tarkshya and Vynateya, is a legendary bird or bird-like creature in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain mythology. He is variously the vehicle mount (vahana) of the Hindu god Vishnu, a dharma-protector and Astasena in Buddhism, and the Yaksha of the Jain Tirthankara Shantinatha. In Hinduism, Garuda is a divine eagle-like sun bird and the king of birds.

Garuda is described as the king of birds and a kite-like figure. He is shown either in zoomorphic form (giant bird with partially open wings) or an anthropomorphic form (man with wings and some bird features). Garuda is generally a protector with power to swiftly go anywhere, ever watchful and an enemy of the serpent.

In the Mahabharata, Garutman is stated to be same as Garuda, then described as the one who is fast, who can shapeshift into any form and enter anywhere. He is a powerful creature in the epics, whose wing flapping can stop the spinning of heaven, earth and hell. He is described to be the vehicle mount of the Hindu god Vishnu, and typically they are shown together.

Garuda is a part of state insignia in India, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia. The Indonesian official coat of arms is centered on the Garuda. The national emblem of Indonesia is called Garuda Pancasila.

The Northern Cross and the Summer Triangle

The Summer Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn on the northern hemisphere’s celestial sphere, with its defining vertices at Altair, Deneb, and Vega, the brightest stars in the three constellations of Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra, respectively.

The Northern Cross is a prominent astronomical asterism in the northern hemisphere celestial sphere, corresponding closely with the constellation Cygnus The Swan. It is much larger than the more famous Southern Cross and consists of the brightest stars in Cygnus, Deneb, Sadr, Gienah, Delta Cygni and Albireo. The ‘head’ of the cross, Deneb, is also part of the Summer Triangle asterism.

Like the Summer Triangle, the Northern Cross is a prominent indicator of the seasons. Near midnight, the Cross lies virtually overhead at mid-northern latitudes during the summer months; it can also be seen during spring in the early morning to the East. In the autumn the cross is visible in the evening to the West until November. It never dips below the horizon at or above 45° north latitude.

The Dark Rift

Deneb is a marker for what lies behind it – the opening of the Dark Rift, the stream of dark stellar debris that splits the Milky Way from Cygnus down to the area of Sagittarius and Scorpius, where the sun makes its pass across the Milky Way.

All over the world, from India and Egypt to Mexico and South America, the Dark Rift has been seen as an entrance to the sky-world, a place of the ancestors, a land of the gods, and the source of cosmic creation. For example, the ancient Maya of Central America pictured Xibalba, their “underworld,” as accessible via a sky-road known as ri b’e xib’alb’a, the Black Road, identified as the Milky Way’s Dark Rift.

Its actual entrance or location was represented by cave and mouth imagery, often accompanied by a glyph known as the Cross Bands glyph. It has the appearance of a letter X inside a square frame, and has been identified with the Cygnus stars in their guise as a celestial cross, made up of five specific stars.

The actual road to Xibalba (a word meaning “place of fear”) is shown as a caiman crocodile, its long jaws the twin streams created by the Dark Rift, with its head, eyes and gullet located in the vicinity of the Cygnus region.

Turn the Milky Way on its side and the Dark Rift’s likeness to a crocodile’s head and jaws are unmistakable, confirming that the entrance to Xibalba; i.e., the opening of the Dark Rift, was via its gullet.

In Mayan mythology the solar god One Hunahpu was reborn from the mouth of the caiman, a sure reference to his emergence from the Dark Rift. The sun-god was then imagined as being carried along the length of the creature’s open jaws to the place where the ecliptic, the sun’s path, crosses the Milky Way in the vicinity of the stars of Sagittarius and Scorpius.

This is a point corresponding, visually at least, with the nuclear bulge in the galactic plane that marks the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The sun-god was conceived as reaching this point at the moment of sunrise on the winter solstice, an act that completed an annual solar cycle.

Similar ideas regarding a spirit world existing beyond the opening to the Dark Rift are held even today by a number of Native American tribes. The most consistent story that emerges from their beliefs and practices tells of how in death the soul departs westwards towards the setting sun, a journey that can take three to four days to complete. When it finally reaches the edge of the world it stands on a coastal shoreline, with the underworld visible beneath the surface of the water and the sky-world above in the night sky.

If the sky-world is chosen as the soul’s final destination, it must make a leap of faith into the night sky in order to access a star portal symbolized by something that native tribes refer to as the Hand Constellation. It is a symbol found again and again in the decorated art of the mound building cultures of Ohio.

In fact, it is likely that a psychopomp, in the form of a bird, was thought to accompany new souls entering this world. This, of course, is the role played in many parts of Europe and Asia by the stork, although in the Baltic (and seemingly in Siberia), it was a white swan that played this same role. In its guise as a celestial bird, Cygnus is identified with the swan throughout the Eurasian continent.

In Egyptian and Hindu myth it was a primordial goose or swan that brought forth the universe with its honk, although in many other countries the swan was said to have laid the egg that either formed the earth or heavens, or became the sun.

The holed stone

Further evidence of Göbekli Tepe’s proposed astronomical alignments comes from Enclosure D. A small stone pillar standing around five feet (1.5 m) tall has been found in its north-northwestern perimeter wall, exactly behind and in line with its central pillars. The stone is rectangular in shape and, unlike the rings of radially oriented pillars found in the main enclosures it has one of its wider faces turned towards the center of the structure.

The significance of this stone is that it has a hole some seven to eight inches in diameter bored through it horizontally at a height of around four feet off the ground. Covering the stone are a series of curved lines, which flow in pairs and converge just beneath the hole before trailing off towards the stone’s right-hand corner.

Very likely they are a naive representation of the human torso with legs coming together and bent towards the right-hand edge of the stone. If so, then this would make the hole synchronous with the vulva, or human birth canal.

If the enclosure’s twin pillars were indeed orientated towards Deneb during the epoch in question, then a person, a shaman or priest perhaps, would have been able to look through the stone’s sighting hole in order to see Deneb setting on the north-northwestern horizon, a quite magnificent sight that cannot have happened by chance alone. Clearly, this was powerful evidence that the enclosure really was directed towards this all-important star.

The Vulture Stone

Confirming the Göbekli builders’ apparent interest in Cygnus is Pillar 43. Located in the north-northwestern section of Enclosure D, it stands just a few yards away from the holed stone. Here we see a vulture positioned at the end of the line of small squares.

It stands erect, with its wings articulated in a manner resembling human arms. It also has slightly bent knees (or it is pregnant) and bizarre flat feet, in the shape of oversized clowns’ shoes, indicating that this is very likely a shaman in the guise of a vulture, or a spirit bird with anthropomorphic attributes.

Similar vultures with articulated legs are depicted on the walls of shrines at Çatal Höyük, the neolithic city in southern-central Turkey, which dates to c. 7000–5600 BC, and these too are interpreted either as anthropomorphs, or shamans adorned in the manner of vultures.

Just above the vulture’s right wing is a carved circle, like a ball, or sun disk. Klaus Schmidt (Göbekli Tepe’s discoverer) interprets this “ball” as a human head, and this is almost certainly what it is, for on the back of another vulture lower down the register is a headless, or soulless, figure, mimicking very similar examples of headless figures found in association with images of vultures and excarnation towers at Çatal Höyük.

And we can be sure that the “ball” does indeed represent a human head as similar balls are seen in the prehistoric rock art of the region, where their context also makes it clear they represent human souls.

So the headless figure represents not only the human skeleton but also a dead man whose soul has departed in the form of a ball-like head that is now under the charge of the vulture, which is arguably a bird spirit with anthropomorphic; i.e. human like, attributes.

Conclusion

Everything points towards Enclosure D’s holed stone and Vulture Stone next to it being not just confirmation of Deneb’s place in the mindset of the Göbekli builders but also in the site’s role as a place where the rites of birth, death, and rebirth were celebrated both in its architectural design and in the highly symbolic carved art left behind by its builders.

It is confirmation also of the incredible role played by Cygnus and the Milky Way’s Dark Rift in the cosmological beliefs of the Upper Paleolithic age and, later, among the early Neolithic peoples of Anatolia. These are incredible revelations that entirely alter our currently held views on the mindset of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic world.

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.

The vulture in mythology

Gobekli Tepe: The Cosmic Connection – Did its Builders Have Their Eyes on the Skies?

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