Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

  • Fredsvenn:


    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent
    ---
    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

    All the texts are published under Creative Common-license [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.no Navngivelse-DelPåSammeVilkår 3.0]

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    Sjur C. Papazian

    Sjur C. Papazian

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  • Transformasjon

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  • Pendant from Mari (modern Tell Hariri, Syria)

  • Sørvest Asia – før og nå

    Den fruktbare halvmåne er en betegnelse på et gammelt fruktbart område nord, øst og vest for den arabiske ørken i Sørvest-Asia. Mesopotamia-dalen og Nil-dalen kommer inn under dette begrepet selv om det i fjellsonen rundt Mesopotamia en naturlig avgrensning i jordbrukshistorisk forstand.

    Som resultat av en rekke unike geografiske faktorer har Den fruktbare halvmåne en imponerende historie av tidlig menneskelig jordbruksaktivitet og kulturdanning. Foruten mange arkeologiske funnsteder med rester av skjeletter og kulturelle levninger så er området først og fremst kjent for dets funnsteder knyttet til jordbrukets opprinnelse og utvikling i den neolittiske tidsalder.

    Det var her, i de skogkledde fjellskråningene i randsonen av dette området, at jordbruket oppsto i et økologisk avgrenset miljø. Den vestlige sonen og områdene rundt øvre Eufrat ga vekst til de første kjente neolittiske jordbruks-samfunnene med små, runde hus, også referert til som førkeramisk neolittisk A, som dateres til like etter 10.000 f.vt. og omfatter steder som Jeriko, som er verdens eldste by.

    Under den påfølgende PPNB fra 9 000 f.vt. utviklet disse samfunnene seg til større landsbyer med dyrking og husdyrhold som viktigste levevei, med tett bebyggelse i to-etasjers, rektangulære hus. Mennesket inngikk nå i symbiose med korn- og husdyrartene, uten mulighet til å vende tilbake til jeger- og sankersamfunnet.

    Området vest og nord for slettelandet ved Eufrat og Tigris så også framveksten av tidlige komplekse samfunn i den langt senere bronsealderen (fra ca 4 000 f.vt.). Det er også tidlige bevis for skriftkultur og tidlige statsdannelser fra samme tid i dette nordlige steppeområdet, selv om de skriftlige statsdannelsene relativt raskt flyttet sitt tyngdepunkt ned i Mesopotamia-dalen og utviklet seg der. Området har derfor hos svært mange forfattere fått betegnelsen «sivilisasjonens vugge».

    Området har opplevd en rekke omveltninger, og nye stasdannelser. Nå sist da staten Tyrkia ble dannet i etterkant av ungtyrkernes folkemord på blant annet de pontiske grekere, armenere og assyrere under den første verdenskrig. Det antas at to tredeler til tre firedeler av alle armenere i regionen døde.

    Det er nå på tide at folkemordet mot de pontiske grekere, assyrere og armenere anerkjennes, at Israels okkupasjon, bosetting og vold palestinerne opphører, samt at de ulike minoritetene i området får leve sine livi fred - uten vold og trusler fra majoritetsbefolkninger eller fra Vesten, og da spesifikt USA.

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The problem of religious people

Posted by Fredsvenn on January 6, 2016

There is no difference between gods and nature – the problem is that religious people doesn’t know what religion is – and just remember the dogmas and not the spirit – they believe in a book and not in god. Religious people believe in one god as one entity and put male gender on it without understanding that their religion is basically the same as the one with many gods and goddesses – or no gods/goddesses for that sake – it is all about our understanding of cosmos. We should never be afraid of being naked in front of god – dress as you like, but be kind and live with love and enjoy life. 

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The sign of love

Posted by Fredsvenn on January 6, 2016

We are growing. The Light is shining. Our challenge now is to lift our energy from old patterns of survival, control, fear, lack, and judgement, into love.

The Spring Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn upon the celestial sphere, with its defining vertices at Arcturus, Spica, and Regulus. This triangle connects the constellations of Boötes, Virgo, and Leo. It is visible rising in the south eastern sky of the northern hemisphere between March and May. These stars forms part of a larger Spring asterism called the Great Diamond together with Cor Caroli.

George Lovi of Sky & Telescope magazine had a slightly different Spring triangle, including the tail of Leo, Denebola, instead of Regulus. Denebola is dimmer, but the triangle is more nearly equilateral.

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Etymology of God

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 23, 2015

Kumarbi is the chief god of the Hurrians. He is the son of Anu (the sky), and father of the storm-god Teshub. He was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”), and by the Ugaritians with El.
 
Enlil is the god of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance). It was the name of a chief deity listed and written about in Sumerian religion, and later in Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian), Hittite, Canaanite and other Mesopotamian clay and stone tablets. The name is perhaps pronounced and sometimes rendered in translations as “Ellil” in later Akkadian, Hittite, and Canaanite literature.
 
In northwest Semitic use, El was both a generic word for any god and the special name or title of a particular god who was distinguished from other gods as being “the god”. El is listed at the head of many pantheons. El is the Father God among the Canaanites.
 
ʾĒl (or ‘Il, written aleph-lamed cognate to Akkadian: ilu) is a Northwest Semitic word meaning “god” or “deity”, or referring (as a proper name) to any one of multiple major Ancient Near East deities. A rarer spelling, “‘ila”, represents the predicate form in Old Akkadian and in Amorite. The word is derived from the Proto-Semitic archaic biliteral ʔ-L, meaning “god”.
 
Specific deities known as El or Il include the supreme god of the Canaanite religion, the supreme god of the Mesopotamian Semites in the pre-Sargonic period, and the God of the Hebrew Bible.
 
The Semitic root ʾlh (Arabic ʾilāh, Aramaic ʾAlāh, ʾElāh, Hebrew ʾelōah) may be ʾl with a parasitic h, and ʾl may be an abbreviated form of ʾlh. In Ugaritic the plural form meaning “gods” is ʾilhm, equivalent to Hebrew ʾelōhîm “powers”. But in Hebrew this word also occurs for semantically singular “god”.
 
Dingir (usually transliterated diĝir, pronounced /diŋir/) is a cuneiform sign, most commonly the determinative for “deity” although it has related meanings as well. As a determinative, it is not pronounced, and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript “D” as in e.g. DInanna. Generically, dingir can be translated as “god” or “goddess”.
 
The word “deity” derives from the Latin deus (“god”), which is related through a common Indo-European origin to Sanskrit deva (“god”), devi (“goddess”), divya (“transcendental”, “spiritual”). The root is related to words for “sky”, such as Latin dies (“day”), and the Sanskrit div, divus, diu (“sky”, “day”, “shine”). Also related are “divine” and “divinity,” from the Latin “divinus,” from “divus.” Khoda (Persian: خدا ) translates to God from Persian.
 
ʾIlāh (Arabic: إله‎; plural: آلهة ʾālihah) is an Arabic term meaning “deity”. The feminine is ʾilāhah (إلاهة, meaning “goddess”); with the article, it appears as al-ʾilāhah الإلاهة. It appears in the name of the monotheistic god of Islam as al-Lāh, that is, translated, “the god”. ʾIlāh is cognate to Northwest Semitic / אל ʾēl and to East Semitic forms such as Akkadian ilu.
 
The word is from a Proto-Semitic biliteral Semitic root ʔ-L meaning “god” (possibly with a wider meaning of “strong”), which was extended to a regular triliteral by the addition of a h as in Hebrew ʾelōah and ʾelōhim.
 
The word is spelled either إله with an optional diacritic alif to mark the ā only in Quranic texts or (more rarely) with a full alif, إلاه. The term is used throughout the Quran in passages detailing the existence of God and of the beliefs of non-Muslims in other divinities. Notably, the first statement of the shahada or Muslim confession of faith is “there is no ʾilāh but al-Lāh” “there is no god but God”.
 
Allah is used by Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews, although other terms are in use as well, such as Rabb “Lord”, a title also used by Muslims for God, similar to the Jewish use of Adonai, which is the most-frequently used term for God along with HaShem, literally “the Name”.
 
Amongst Christians, Yasu—an Arabic transliteration of the name of the Christian Jesus and Shaddai are common, with some other names and titles generally borrowed as transliterations from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.
 
In Malaysia, many States have laws prohibiting non-Muslims from using the word Allah, but these have been ruled unconstitutional insofar as they do not involve the propagation of non-Muslim religions to Muslims.
 
The Persian word Khuda (Persian: خدا ) can be translated as god, lord or king, and is also used today to refer to God in Islam by Persian and Urdu speakers. The Turkic word for god is Tengri; it exists as Tanrı in Turkish.
 
Aleph is the first letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician ‘Ālep Phoenician aleph.svg, Hebrew ‘Ālef א, Aramaic Ālap Aleph.svg, Syriac ʾĀlap̄ ܐ, and Arabic Alif ا.
 
The Phoenician letter is derived from an Egyptian hieroglyph depicting an ox’s head and gave rise to the Greek Alpha (Α), being re-interpreted to express not the glottal consonant but the accompanying vowel, and hence the Latin A and Cyrillic А.
 
The name aleph is derived from the West Semitic word for “ox”, and the shape of the letter derives from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph that may have been based on a Egyptian hieroglyph which depicts an ox’s head.
 
Ensí (spelled PA.TE.SI in Sumerian cuneiform, hence occasionally transliterated as patesi; possibly derived from <en si-k>, “lord of the plowland”; borrowed into Akkadian as iššakkum) is a Sumerian title designating the ruler or prince of a city state. They held most political power in Sumerian city states during the Uruk period (c.4100-2900 BCE).
 
In Old Norse, ǫ́ss (or áss, ás, plural æsir; feminine ásynja, plural ásynjur) is the term denoting a member of the principal pantheon in the indigenous Germanic religion known as Norse religion.
 
The cognate term 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).
 
Unlike the Old English word god (and Old Norse goð), the term ōs (áss) was never adopted into Christian use and survived only in a secularized meaning of “pole, beam, stave, hill” or “yoke”.
 
The a-rune ᚫ was named after the æsir. Ansuz is the conventional name given to the a-rune of the Elder Futhark, ᚨ. The name is based on Common Germanic *ansuz “a god, one of the main deities in Germanic paganism”. The shape of the rune is likely from Neo-Etruscan a, like Latin A ultimately from Phoenician aleph.
 
The Aryans are now seen to have been the traditional inventors of the plough and of the Agricultural Era of the World; and the sense of ara or “the exalted ones” appears to have been used for this title when this gifted race became the rulers of the various aboriginal tribes-the Sumerian also gives the plough sign the meaning of “raise up, exalt” as the secondary meaning of ploughing as “the uplifting” of the earth.
 
Ekur is a Sumerian term meaning “mountain house”. It is the assembly of the gods in the Garden of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus and was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer.
 
The Ekur was seen as a place of judgement and the place from which Enlil’s divine laws are issued. The ethics and moral values of the site are extolled in myths, which Samuel Noah Kramer suggested would have made it the most ethically-oriented in the entire ancient Near East. Its rituals are also described as: “banquets and feasts are celebrated from sunrise to sunset” with “festivals, overflowing with milk and cream, are alluring of plan and full of rejoicing”.
 
In the Hymn to Enlil, the Ekur is closely linked to Enlil whilst in Enlil and Ninlil it is the abode of the Annanuki, from where Enlil is banished. The fall of Ekur is described in the Lament for Ur. In mythology, the Ekur was the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united. It is also known as Duranki and one of its structures is known as the Kiur (“great place”).
 
The Anunnaki (also transcribed as: Anunaki, Anunna, Anunnaku, Ananaki and other variations) are a group of deities in ancient Mesopotamian cultures (i.e., Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian).
 
The name is variously written “da-nuna”, “da-nuna-ke-ne”, or “da-nun-na”, meaning “princely offspring” or “offspring of Anu”.
 
According to The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, the Anunnaki: “…are the Sumerian deities of the old primordial line; they are chthonic deities of fertility, associated eventually with the underworld, where they became judges. They take their name from the old sky god An (Anu).”
 
The Sumerian sign DIĜIR originated as a star-shaped ideogram indicating a god in general, or the Sumerian god An, the supreme father of the gods. Dingir also meant sky or heaven in contrast with ki which meant earth. Its emesal pronunciation was dimer.
 
Old Norse Týr, literally “god”, plural tívar “gods”, comes from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz (cf. Old English Tīw, Old High German Zīo), which continues Proto-Indo-European *deiwós “celestial being, god” (cf. Welsh duw, Latin deus, Lithuanian diẽvas, Sanskrit dēvá, Avestan daēvō “demon”). And *deiwós is based in *dei-, *deyā-, *dīdyā-, meaning ‘to shine’.
 
In the late Icelandic Eddas, Tyr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda), while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon, since his name is ultimately cognate to that of *Dyeus (cf. Dyaus), the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion.
 
It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war.
 
The sign in Sumerian cuneiform (DIĜIR, Cuneiform sumer dingir) by itself represents the Sumerian word an (“sky” or “heaven”), the ideogram for An or the word diĝir (“god”), the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon.
 
In Assyrian cuneiform, it (AN, DIĜIR) could be either an ideogram for “deity” (ilum) or a syllabogram for an, or ìl-. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again an.
 
According to one interpretation, DINGIR could also refer to a priest or priestess although there are other Akkadian words ēnu and ēntu that are also translated priest and priestess.
 

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What to bring with you to the next world?

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 21, 2015

“The soul takes nothing with her to the next world but her education and her culture. At the beginning of the journey to the next world, one’s education and culture can either provide the greatest assistance, or else act as the greatest burden, to the person who has just died.”

― Plato, The Republic of Plato

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The origin of the Etruscians

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 11, 2015

Armenian men’s most common Y-DNA (paternal) haplogroup is R1b, found in about 28 percent of those studied. J2 is the next most common at a frequency of 22 percent. Other haplogroups found among them, in descending order of frequencies, include G (11%), J1 (11%), R1a (8%), T (6%), E (5%), I (4%), L (4%), N (2%), and others (1%).

It has been hypothetised that R1b people (perhaps 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.

J-M172 originates between the Caucasus Mountains, Mesopotamia and the region just north of Arabia known as the Levant. J-M172 is linked to the earliest indigenous populations of Anatolia and the Aegean.

The present-day ethnicities who have the strongest amounts of J2 include pre-Arabised Mesopotamians and Levantine peoples, Mediterranean/Aegean peoples, Greco-Anatolians, Caucasians, South and Central Asians.

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. Its present geographic distribution argue in favour of a Neolithic expansion from the Fertile Crescent.

This expansion probably correlated with the diffusion of domesticated of cattle and goats (starting c. 8000-9000 BCE) from the Zagros mountains and northern Mesopotamia, rather than with the development of cereal agriculture in the Levant (which appears to be linked rather to haplogroups G2 and E1b1b).

A second expansion of J2 could have occured with the advent of metallurgy, notably copper working (from the Lower Danube valley, central Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia), and the rise of some of the oldest civilisations.

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 seafaring civilisations from the middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age were dominated by J2 men.

It is very likely that J2a, J1 and G2a were the three dominant male lineages the Early Bronze Age Kura-Araxes culture, which expanded from the South Caucasus to eastern Anatolia, northern Mesopotamia and the western Iran. From then on, 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.

The high incidence of J2a in Italy is owed in great part to the migration of the Etruscans from western Anatolia to central and northern Italy, and to the Greek colonisation of southern Italy. Immigration from the eastern Mediterranean to Rome during the Roman Empire, then from Anatolia, Thrace and Greece during the Byzantine period (particularly in north-eastern Italy) further increased the incidence of J2 in the peninsula.

Urartu, corresponding to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat or Kingdom of Van (Urartian: Biai, Biainili) was an Iron Age kingdom centered on Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands.

Strictly speaking, Urartu is the Assyrian term for a geographical region, while “kingdom of Urartu” or “Biainili lands” are terms used in modern historiography for the Urartian-speaking Iron Age state that arose in that region.

This language appears in inscriptions. Though there is no written evidence of any other language being spoken in this kingdom, it is argued on linguistic evidence that Proto-Armenian came in contact with Urartian at an early date (3rd-2nd millennium BC).

The landscape corresponds to the mountainous plateau between Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, the Iranian Plateau, and the Caucasus mountains, later known as the Armenian Highlands. The kingdom rose to power in the mid-9th century BC, but was conquered by Media in the early 6th century BC. The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms.

“Urartu” is cognate with the Biblical “Ararat,” Akkadian “Urashtu,” and Armenian “Ayrarat.” Scholars believe that Urartu is an Akkadian variation of Ararat of the Old Testament. Indeed, Mount Ararat is located in ancient Urartian territory, approximately 120 km north of its former capital. In addition to referring to the famous Biblical mountain, Ararat also appears as the name of a kingdom in Jeremiah 51:27, mentioned together with Minni and Ashkenaz.

Shubria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was part of the Urartu confederation. Later, there is reference to a district in the area called Arme or Urme, which some scholars have linked to the name Armenia.

Armani, (also given as Armanum) was an ancient kingdom mentioned by Sargon of Akkad (24th and 23rd centuries BC) and his grandson Naram-Sin of Akkad as stretching from Ibla to Bit-Nanib, its location is heavily debated, and it continued to be mentioned in the later Assyrian inscriptions.

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.

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. It is remote and difficult to reach. It is home to the goddess Inana, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. It is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BCE), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk.

Urartu was famed for one of the finest examples of ancient art. Urartu at its zenith had a profound cultural influence on its neighbors reaching as far as Asia and Europe. Supported by discoveries of Urartian artifacts inside Etruscan burials, it has been hypothesized that much of Etruscan culture has its origins in Urartu.

Observations by Boris Piotrovsky suggest that decoration and production techniques of Scythian belts and scabbards were borrowed from Urartu. The Urartian way of decorating cauldrons spread over the ancient world, and it is believed that Armenian art is based on the Urartian traditions.

The civilizing influence of Ararat was widespread throughout the ancient world in the first millennium BC. It reached even such distant peoples (geographically and chronologically) as the Etruscans, the Greeks and the Achaemenid Persians (who were greatly influenced by the cultural heritage of the Kingdom of Ararat).

The technique of casting bronze ornaments spread from Urartu to the neighboring countries, in particular to Phrygia, and then to Europe.

Urartian cauldron ornaments have been found in Rhodes, Athens, Boeotia, Delphi, Olympia and in Etruscan tombs. Some Urartian bronze figures were removed from the boilers and re-used by other nations to decorate new vessels.

Only three bronze statuettes depicting Urartian deities have been preserved. One, possibly of the god Ḫaldi, is stored in the British Museum, and two others are in the National Museum of the History of Armenia (copy in the Erebuni Museum, Yerevan).

That historic Armenian kingdom was in fact a continuation of the kingdom of Urartu also known as “Kingdom of Van” is apparent from ancient records.

In the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in 521 BC by the order of Darius the Great of Persia, the country referred to as Urartu in Assyrian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in Elamite. Armenia, Urartu, (Biblical) Ararat and Herminuia are therefore synonyms.

The Etruscan language was of a different family from that of neighbouring Italic and Celtic peoples, who spoke Indo-European languages. Helmut Rix’s classification of the Etruscan language in a proposed Tyrsenian language family reflects this ambiguity.

He finds Etruscan on one hand genetically related to the Rhaetic language spoken in the Alps north of Etruria, suggesting autochthonous connections, but on the other hand the Lemnian language found on the “Lemnos stele” is closely related to Etruscan, entailing either Etruscan presence in “Tyrsenian” Lemnos, or “Tyrsenian” expansion westward to Etruria.

In particular the Lemnian language could have arrived in the Aegean Sea during the Late Bronze Age, when Mycenaean rulers recruited groups of mercenaries from Sicily, Sardinia and various parts of the Italian peninsula.

The latest mtDNA study (2013) suggests that the Etruscans appear to fall very close to a Neolithic population from Central Europe and to other Tuscan populations.

This coincides with the Raetic language which was spoken north of the Alps in the area of the Urnfield culture of Central Europe. The Villanovan culture branched from the Urnfield culture around 1100 BC and thus Villanovan culture as ancestral to the Etruscan civilization.

Herodotus records the legend that the Etruscans (known to the Greeks as Tyrrhenians) came from Lydia in Asia Minor, modern Turkey. However, the Greek Historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus objected that the Tyrrhenian (Etruscan) culture and language shared nothing with the Lydian.

A number of mainly Soviet or post-Soviet linguists, including Sergei Starostin, suggested a link between the Tyrrhenian languages and the Northeast Caucasian languages, based on claimed sound correspondences between Etruscan, Hurrian and Northeast Caucasian languages, numerals, grammatical structures and phonologies. This claim was renewed by Ed Robertson (2006).

The Anatolian languages are a family of extinct Indo-European languages that were spoken in Asia Minor (ancient Anatolia), the best attested of them being the Hittite language.

The Anatolian branch is generally considered the earliest to split from the Proto-Indo-European language, from a stage referred to either as Indo-Hittite or “Middle PIE”; typically a date in the mid-4th millennium BC is assumed.

In 1981, Hopper proposed to divide all Indo-European languages into Decem and Taihun groups, according to the pronunciation of the numeral ’10’, by analogy with the Centum-Satem isogloss, which is based on the pronunciation of the numeral ‘100’.

The Armenian, Germanic, Anatolian, and Tocharian subfamilies belong to the Taihun group because the numeral ’10’ begins with a voiceless t there. All other Indo-European languages belong to the Decem group because the numeral 10 begins with a voiced d in them.

Linguists classify Armenian as an independent branch of the Indo-European language family. It is of interest to linguists for its distinctive phonological developments within the Indo-European languages.

The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European Urheimat, based on the Glottalic theory, suggests that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highland.

The phonological peculiarities proposed in the Glottalic theory would be best preserved in the Armenian language and the Germanic languages, the former assuming the role of the dialect which remained in situ, implied to be particularly archaic in spite of its late attestation.

The Proto-Greek language would be practically equivalent to Mycenaean Greek and date to the 17th century BC, closely associating Greek migration to Greece with the Indo-Aryan migration to India at about the same time (viz., Indo-European expansion at the transition to the Late Bronze Age, including the possibility of Indo-European Kassites).

Armenian shares a number of major innovations with Greek, and some linguists group these two languages with Phrygian and the Indo-Iranian family into a higher-level subgroup of Indo-European, which is defined by such shared innovations as the augment. More recently, others have proposed a Balkan grouping including Greek, Phrygian, Armenian, and Albanian.

I. M. Austin (1942) concluded that there was an early contact between Armenian and Anatolian languages, based on what he considered common archaisms, such as the lack of a feminine and the absence of inherited long vowels.

However, unlike shared innovations (or synapomorphies), the common retention of archaisms (or symplesiomorphy) is not necessarily considered evidence of a period of common isolated development.

Soviet linguist Igor Diakonov (1985) noted the presence in Old Armenian of what he calls a Caucasian substratum, identified by earlier scholars, consisting of loans from the Kartvelian and Northeast Caucasian languages.

Noting that the Hurro-Urartian peoples inhabited the Armenian homeland in the second millennium b.c., Diakonov identifies in Armenian a Hurro-Urartian substratum of social, cultural, and animal and plant terms.

Some of the terms he gives admittedly have an Akkadian or Sumerian provenance, but he suggests they were borrowed through Hurrian or Urartian.

Given that these borrowings do not undergo sound changes characteristic of the development of Armenian from Proto-Indo-European, he dates their borrowing to a time before the written record but after the Proto-Armenian language stage.

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Lofn’s Bard A Northern Tradition Pagan Storyteller

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 8, 2015

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Lofn’s Bard A Northern Tradition Pagan Storyteller

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The birth of our civilization

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 7, 2015

The name Urartu comes from Assyrian sources: the Assyrian King Shalmaneser I (1263–1234 BC) recorded a campaign in which he subdued the entire territory of “Uruatri.”

The Shalmaneser text uses the name Urartu to refer to a geographical region, not a kingdom, and names eight “lands” contained within Urartu ( which at the time of the campaign were still disunited).

“Urartu” is cognate with the Biblical “Ararat,” Akkadian “Urashtu,” and Armenian “Ayrarat.” The name used by the local population as a toponym was Biainili (or Biaineli), which forms the root of the Armenian Վան (“Van”), hence the names “Kingdom of Van (Bianili)” or “Vannic Kingdom.”

Scholars believe that Urartu is an Akkadian variation of Ararat of the Old Testament. Indeed, Mount Ararat is located in ancient Urartian territory, approximately 120 km north of its former capital. In addition to referring to the famous Biblical mountain, Ararat also appears as the name of a kingdom in Jeremiah 51:27, mentioned together with Minni and Ashkenaz.

The earliest attestations of the exonym Armenia date around the 6th century BC. In his trilingual Behistun Inscription, Darius I the Great of Persia refers to Urashtu (in Babylonian) as Armina (in Old Persian) and Harminuya (in Elamite).

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources.

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, of preserved, early post-Sumerian copies, composed in the Neo-Sumerian period (ca. 21st century BC).

Shupria (Shubria) or Arme-Shupria (Armenian: Շուպրիա; Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was a Proto-Armenian Hurrian-speaking kingdom, known from Assyrian sources beginning in the 13th century BC, located in the Armenian Highland, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper. Scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia.

Armenian tradition has an eponymous ancestor, Aram, a lineal descendent of Hayk (Հայկ), son of Harma and father of Ara the Beautiful (according to classical Armenian historian Moses of Chorene). Aram is sometimes equated with Arame of Urartu, the earliest known king of Urartu. The endonym Hayk’ (from Classical Armenian) in the same tradition is traced to Hayk himself.

Scholars such as Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Haldi (also known as Khaldi or Hayk, Armenian: Խալդի).

Khaldi was one of the three chief deities of Urartu (Ararat). His shrine was at Ardini (the present form of the name is Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”, and persists in Armenian names to this day), known as Muṣaṣir (Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake ) in Assyrian. The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini of Tushpa.

Inanna (Neo-Assyrian MUŠ; Sumerian: Inanna; Akkadian: Ištar) was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. Inanna was the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk.

Inanna’s name derives from Lady of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-an-ak). The cuneiform sign of Inanna; however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin; Cuneiform: SAL.TUG) and sky (Sumerian: an; Cuneiform: AN).

These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that originally Inanna may have been a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon, an idea supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, at first she had no sphere of responsibilities. The view that there was a Proto-Euphratean substrate language in Southern Iraq before Sumerian is not widely accepted by modern Assyriologists.

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. It is remote and difficult to reach. It is home to the goddess Inana, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. It is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk.

Hannahannah (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”) is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the pre-Sumerian goddess Inanna. Hannahannah was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat.

Christopher Siren reports that Hannahannah is associated with the Gulses. In Hurrian mythology, the Hutena are goddesses of fate. They are similar to the Norns of Norse mythology or the Moirai of ancient Greece. They are called the Gul Ses (Gul-Shesh; Gulshesh; Gul-ashshesh) in Hittite mythology.

Hebat is married to Teshub and is the mother of Sarruma and Alanzu, as well mother-in-law of the daughter of the dragon Illuyanka.In Hittite mythology, Illuyanka was a serpentine dragon slain by Tarhunt (dIM), the Hittite incarnation of the Hurrian god of sky and storm. It is known from Hittite cuneiform tablets found at Çorum-Boğazköy, the former Hittite capital Hattusa. The context is a ritual of the Hattian spring festival of Puruli.

Of all the gods of the Urartian pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to Khaldi. His wife was the goddess Arubani. He was portrayed as a man with or without wings, standing on a lion.

Hayk (Armenian: Հայկ) or Hayg, also known as Haik Nahapet (Հայկ Նահապետ, Hayk the Tribal Chief) is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation.

Caelus or Coelus was a primal god of the sky in Roman myth and theology, iconography, and literature (compare caelum, the Latin word for “sky” or “the heavens”, hence English “celestial”). The deity’s name usually appears in masculine grammatical form when he is conceived of as a male generative force, but the neuter form Caelum is also found as a divine personification.

Some Roman writers used Caelus or Caelum as a way to express the monotheistic god of Judaism. Juvenal identifies the Jewish god with Caelus as the highest heaven (summum caelum), saying that Jews worship the numen of Caelus; Petronius uses similar language.

Florus has a rather odd passage describing the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem as housing a “sky” (caelum) under a golden vine, which has been taken as an uncomprehending attempt to grasp the presence of the Jewish god.

A golden vine, perhaps the one mentioned, was sent by the Hasmonean king Aristobulus to Pompeius Magnus after his defeat of Jerusalem, and was later displayed in the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.

Scholarly theories have been proposed about Hel’s potential connections to figures appearing in the 11th century Old English Gospel of Nicodemus and Old Norse Bartholomeus saga postola, that she may have been considered a goddess with potential Indo-European parallels in Bhavani, Kali, and Mahakali or that Hel may have become a being only as a late personification of the location of the same name.

Kālī, also known as Kālikā, is the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment, or shakti. She is the mighty aspect of the goddess Durga. The name of Kali means black one and force of time, she is therefore called the Goddess of Time, Change, Power, Creation, Preservation, and Destruction.

Her earliest appearance is that of a destroyer principally of evil forces. Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shākta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman; and recent devotional movements re-imagine Kāli as a benevolent mother goddess.

She is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her. Kali is worshipped by Hindus throughout India but particularly South India, Bengal, and Assam.

Shiva (meaning “The Auspicious One”; Tamil: Śivan, meaning “The Red One”), also known as Mahadeva (“Great God”), is one of the three deities of Hinduism. Shiva is distinct from Vishnu and Brahman yet one with them. He is the supreme god within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism. He is one of the five primary forms of God in the Smarta Tradition, and “the Destroyer” or “the Transformer”.

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

Nergal was also the deity who presides over the netherworld, and who stands at the head of the special pantheon assigned to the government of the dead (supposed to be gathered in a large subterranean cave known as Aralu or Irkalla). 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.

Týr is a god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws, Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu and Cyo, all from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. The Latinised name is Tius or Tio. Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio germanica. Tuesday is in fact “Tīw’s Day” (also in Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag), translating dies Martis.

In the late Icelandic Eddas, Tyr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda), while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon, since his name is ultimately cognate to that of *Dyeus (cf. Dyaus), the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion.

It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war.

Týr is a god of war and will take mead, meat and blood for sacrifice. If a warrior carved the rune Tîwaz on his weapon he would be dedicating it to Týr and strengthen the outcome of a battle to be in his favor. After a warrior has dedicated his weapon to Týr he should not lose it or break it.

The t-rune ᛏ is named after Tyr, and was identified with this god; the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *Tîwaz. The Mars symbol (♂) is a depiction of a circle with an arrow emerging from it, pointing at an angle to the upper right. In old manuscripts, it is usually interpreted as the shield and spear from the war god Mars/Ares.

There is sketchy evidence of a consort, in German named Zisa: Tacitus mentions one Germanic tribe who worshipped “Isis”, and Jacob Grimm pointed to Cisa/Zisa, the patroness of Augsburg, in this connection. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically. Tacitus also named the German “Mars” as the primary deity, along with the German “Mercury” (believed to be Odin), Hercules (believed to be Thor) and “Isis”.

The Excerptum ex Gallica Historia of Ursberg (ca. 1135) records a dea Ciza as the patron goddess of Augsburg. According to this account, Cisaria was founded by Swabian tribes as a defence against Roman incursions. This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus.

Isis (original Egyptian pronunciation more likely “Aset” or “Iset”) is a goddess from the polytheistic pantheon of Egypt. She was first worshiped in Ancient Egyptian religion, and later her worship spread throughout the Roman empire and the greater Greco-Roman world. The name Isis means “Throne”.

Isis is often depicted as the mother of Horus, the falcon-headed deity associated with king and kingship (although in some traditions Horus’s mother was Hathor). Isis is also known as protector of the dead and goddess of children.

Istanu (Ištanu; from Hattic Estan, “Sun-god”) was the Hittite and Hattic god of the sun. In Luwian he was known as Tiwaz or Tijaz. He was a god of judgement, and was depicted bearing a winged sun on his crown or head-dress, and a crooked staff.

The names Armen and Arman, feminine Arminé, are common given names by Armenians. Armin is also a Persian given name. Armin is a given name or surname, and is an ancient Zoroastrian given name, meaning Guardian of Aryan Land. Another mention by pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) as the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

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.

Asha is the Avestan language term (corresponding to Vedic language ṛta) for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. Its Old Persian equivalent is arta-.[c] In Middle Iranian languages the term appears as ard-.[a]

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’. The opposite of Avestan aša is druj, “lie.”

This title Ar, Ari, Arya, or Aryan appears to have originally designated the Early Aryans as “the ploghmen” from the Sumerian ar, ara (“plough”), which is now disclosed as the source of the Old English ear, “to plough, to ear the ground” and of “ar-able”, etc.

The ard, ard plough, or scratch plough is a simple light plough without a mouldboard. It is symmetrical on either side of its line of draft and is fitted with a symmetrical share that traces a shallow furrow but does not invert the soil. It began to be replaced in most of Europe by the carruca turnplough from the 7th century.

In its simplest form it resembles a hoe consisting of a draft-pole (either composite or a single piece) pierced with a nearly vertical, wooden, spiked head (or stock) which is dragged through the soil by draft animals and very rarely by people.

Arura or aroura, is a Homeric Greek word with original meaning “arable land”, derived from the verb aroō, “plough”. The word was also used generally for earth, land and father-land and in plural to describe corn-lands and fields.

The term arura was also used to describe a measure of land in ancient Egypt (similar in manner to the acre), a square of 100 Egyptian cubits each way. This measures 2700m² or 2/3 of an acre. The oldest attested form of the word is the Mycenaean Greek a-ro-u-ra, written in Linear B syllabic script, originally meant “plough”.

The Aryans are now seen to have been the traditional inventors of the plough and of the Agricultural Era of the World; and the sense of ara or “the exalted ones” appears to have been used for this title when this gifted race became the rulers of the various aboriginal tribes-the Sumerian also gives the plough sign the meaning of “raise up, exalt” as the secondary meaning of ploughing as “the uplifting” of the earth.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Kur (Sumerian) or Ersetu (Akkadian) is the underworld from which there is no return. It was also called earth of no return, Kurnugia in Sumerian and Erset la tari in Akkadian. Kur is ruled by the goddess Ereshkigal and her consort, the death god Nergal.

It is similarly used in a ruling sense by the Sumerians, Akkads, Amorites, and Hittites in its earlier form of Ar, Ara, Ari, Har or Harri, also meaning “exalted or noble”, and similarly with a like meaning in Ancient Egypt; and ancient Greek name of Aeria or Harie for Egypt, probably designated that country as the “Land of the Ari or the Aryans”.

The Song of the hoe or the Creation of the pickax is a Sumerian creation myth, written on clay tablets from the last century of the 3rd millennium BC.

The poem is composed of the frequent use of the word “al”, which means hoe. The verb-forms and nouns also frequently start with, or contain the syllable “al” (or “ar”), suggesting the writer intended it for humour as a satirical school text or as a tongue-twister. The song starts with a creation myth where Enlil separates heaven and earth in Duranki, the cosmic Nippur or ‘Garden of the Gods’.

Enlil (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”) is the god of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance). It was the name of a chief deity listed and written about in Sumerian religion, and later in Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian), Hittite, Canaanite and other Mesopotamian clay and stone tablets. Enlil was known as the inventor of the mattock (a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax or digging tool of the Sumerians) and helped plants to grow.

In Greek mythology, Cronus was the leader and youngest of the first generation of Titans, the divine descendants of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth. He overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by his own son Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus.

Cronus was usually depicted with a harpe, scythe or a sickle, which was the instrument he used to castrate and depose Uranus, his father. In Athens, on the twelfth day of the Attic month of Hekatombaion, a festival called Kronia was held in honour of Cronus to celebrate the harvest, suggesting that, as a result of his association with the virtuous Golden Age, Cronus continued to preside as a patron of harvest.

Cronus was also identified in classical antiquity with the Roman deity Saturn. In Old Icelandic translations of Classical mythology the Roman god Saturn’s name is glossed as “Njörðr.” In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún (Old Norse “ship-enclosure”), the abode of the god Njörðr, described in the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning as located “in heaven”, and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

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.'”

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

Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *hewsṓs, a number of epithets of the dawn goddess may be reconstructed with some certainty. Among these is *wenos- (also an s-stem), whence Sanskrit vanas “loveliness; desire”, used of Uṣas in the Rigveda, and the Latin name Venus and the Norse Vanir. The name indicates that the goddess was imagined as a beautiful nubile woman, who also had aspects of a love goddess.

The abduction and imprisonment of the dawn goddess, and her liberation by a heroic god slaying the dragon who imprisons her, is a central myth of Indo-European religion, reflected in numerous traditions.

In some versions of the myths Ereshkigal rules the underworld by herself, sometimes with a husband subordinate to her named Gugalana. It was said that she had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly.

In the Poetic Edda, Prose Edda, and Heimskringla, Hel is referred to as a daughter of Loki, and to “go to Hel” is to die. In the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, Hel is described as having been appointed by the god Odin as ruler of a realm of the same name, located in Niflheim.

Gugalanna (Sumerian: GU.GAL.AN.NA, “the Great Bull of Heaven”), better known as the Bull of Heaven (Sumerian: GU.AN.NA), was a Sumerian deity as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

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).

After her death, she became the goddess of the wind, like 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. As “Lady Wind” she may be associated with the figure of the Akkadian demon “Lil-itu”, thought to have been the origin of the Hebrew Lilith legend.

Ekur is a Sumerian term meaning “mountain house”. It is the assembly of the gods in the Garden of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus and was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer.

The Ekur was seen as a place of judgement and the place from which Enlil’s divine laws are issued. The ethics and moral values of the site are extolled in myths, which Samuel Noah Kramer suggested would have made it the most ethically-oriented in the entire ancient Near East. Sacrifices and food offerings were brought by the king, described as “faithful shepherd” or “noble farmer”.

It is used as part of such Sumerian phrases as e-kur-igi-gal; “House, Mountain Endowed with Sight”, e-kur-igi-bar-ra; “House, Mountain which Sees”, e-kur-mah; “House, Exalted Mountain”, e-kur-mah; a temple of Ninazu, e-kur-me-sikil; “House, Mountain of Pure Mes (laws or judgement)” – a sanctuary of Ishtar, e-kur-nam-ti-la; “House, Mountain of Life”, e-kur-ni-zu; “House, Fearsome Mountain” – the sanctuary of Ninlil at hursag-kala-ma (likely a later name of e-hursag-kalam-ma), etc.

Hursag 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”.

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”.

According to legend her name was changed from Ninmah to Ninhursag by her son Ninurta in order to commemorate his creation of the mountains. As Ninmenna, according to a Babylonian investiture ritual, she placed the golden crown on the king in the Eanna temple.

As the wife and consort of Enki she was also referred to as Damgulanna (great wife of heaven) or Damkina (faithful wife). She 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.

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.

Her symbol, resembling the Greek letter omega Ω, has been depicted in art from around 3000 BC, though more generally from the early second millennium. 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 first secure references to Isis date back to the 5th dynasty, when her name appears in the sun temple of king Niuserre and on the statue of a priest named Pepi-Ankh, who worshipped at the very beginning of 6th dynasty and bore the title “high priest of Isis and Hathor”.

Enki was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization. His image is a double-helix snake, or the Caduceus, sometimes confused with the Rod of Asclepius used to symbolize medicine. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.

The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is “Lord of the Earth”: the Sumerian en is translated as a title equivalent to “lord”; it was originally a title given to the High Priest; ki means “earth”; but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin, possibly kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning “mound”.

Early royal inscriptions from the third millennium BCE mention “the reeds of Enki”. Reeds were an important local building material, used for baskets and containers, and collected outside the city walls, where the dead or sick were often carried. This links Enki to the Kur or underworld of Sumerian mythology.

Romans associated Mercury with the Germanic god Wotan, by interpretatio Romana; 1st-century Roman writer Tacitus identifies him as the chief god of the Germanic peoples. In wider Germanic mythology and paganism, Odin was known in Old English as Wōden, in Old Saxon as Wōdan, and in Old High German as Wuotan or Wōtan, all stemming from the reconstructed Proto-Germanic theonym *wōđanaz.

Mercury is a major Roman god, being one of the Dii Consentes within the ancient Roman pantheon. He is the patron god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence (and thus poetry), messages/communication (including divination), travelers, boundaries, luck, trickery and thieves; he is also the guide of souls to the underworld. He was considered the son of Maia and Jupiter in Roman mythology.

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

In his earliest forms, he appears to have been related to the Etruscan deity Turms, both of which share characteristics with the Greek god Hermes. In Virgil’s Aeneid, Mercury reminds Aeneas of his mission to found the city of Rome.

In Ovid’s Fasti, Mercury is assigned to escort the nymph Larunda to the underworld. Mercury, however, fell in love with Larunda and made love to her on the way. Larunda thereby became mother to two children, referred to as the Lares, invisible household gods.

Mercury has influenced the name of many things in a variety of scientific fields, such as the planet Mercury, and the element mercury. The word mercurial is commonly used to refer to something or someone erratic, volatile or unstable, derived from Mercury’s swift flights from place to place. He is often depicted holding the caduceus in his left hand.

In the Hymn to Enlil, the Ekur is closely linked to Enlil whilst in Enlil and Ninlil it is the abode of the Annanuki, from where Enlil is banished. The fall of Ekur is described in the Lament for Ur. In mythology, the Ekur was the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united. It is also known as Duranki and one of its structures is known as the Kiur (“great place”).

The Anunnaki (also transcribed as: Anunaki, Anunna, Anunnaku, Ananaki and other variations) are a group of deities in ancient Mesopotamian cultures (i.e., Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian).

The name is variously written “da-nuna”, “da-nuna-ke-ne”, or “da-nun-na”, meaning “princely offspring” or “offspring of Anu”. According to The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, the Anunnaki: “…are the Sumerian deities of the old primordial line; they are chthonic deities of fertility, associated eventually with the underworld, where they became judges. They take their name from the old sky god An (Anu).”

Göbekli Tepe, “Potbelly Hill”) is an archaeological site at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa. The tell includes two phases of ritual use dating back to the 10th – 8th millennium BCE. During the first phase, pre-pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars were erected.

It was excavated by a German archaeological team under the direction of Klaus Schmidt from 1996 until his death in 2014. Schmidt engaged in some speculation regarding the belief systems of the groups that created Göbekli Tepe, based on comparisons with other shrines and settlements. He assumed shamanic practices and suggested that the T-shaped pillars represent human forms, perhaps ancestors, whereas he saw a fully articulated belief in gods only developing later in Mesopotamia, associated with extensive temples and palaces.

This corresponds well with an ancient Sumerian belief that agriculture, animal husbandry, and weaving were brought to mankind from the sacred mountain Ekur, which was inhabited by Annuna deities, very ancient gods without individual names. Schmidt identified this story as a primeval oriental myth that preserves a partial memory of the emerging Neolithic.

It is also apparent that the animal and other images give no indication of organized violence, i.e. there are no depictions of hunting raids or wounded animals, and the pillar carvings generally ignore game on which the society mainly depended, like deer, in favor of formidable creatures like lions, snakes, spiders, and scorpions.

Gobekli Tepe is known as Portasar (“Mountain Navel”) in Armenian. An omphalos is a religious stone artifact, or baetylus. In Greek, the word omphalos means “navel”. In Greek lore, Zeus sent two eagles across the world to meet at its center, the “navel” of the world. Omphalos stones marking the centre were erected in several places about the Mediterranean Sea. 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.

The omphalos at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, represents, in Christian mediaeval tradition, the navel of the world (the spiritual and cosmological centre of the world). Jewish tradition held that God revealed himself to His people through the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple in Jerusalem, which rested on the Foundation stone marking the centre of the world.

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 between March 21 and April 19 each year. This time duration is exactly the first month of Solar Hejri calendar (Farvardin). Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from 15 April to 15 May (approximately). The symbol of the ram is based on the Chrysomallus, the flying ram that provided the Golden Fleece.

In the description of the Babylonian zodiac given in the clay tablets known as the MUL.APIN, the constellation now known as Aries was the final station along the ecliptic. The MUL.APIN was a comprehensive table of the risings and settings of stars, which likely served as an agricultural calendar. Modern-day Aries was known as MULLÚ.ḪUN.GÁ, “The Agrarian Worker” or “The Hired Man”.

Although likely compiled in the 12th or 11th century BC, the MUL.APIN reflects a tradition which marks the Pleiades as the vernal equinox, which was the case with some precision at the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age.

The earliest identifiable reference to Aries as a distinct constellation comes from the boundary stones that date from 1350 to 1000 BC. On several boundary stones, a zodiacal ram figure is distinct from the other characters present. The shift in identification from the constellation as the Agrarian Worker to the Ram likely occurred in later Babylonian tradition because of its growing association with Dumuzi the Shepherd.

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

Ensí (spelled PA.TE.SI in Sumerian cuneiform, hence occasionally transliterated as patesi; possibly derived from <en si-k>, “lord of the plowland”; borrowed into Akkadian as iššakkum) is a Sumerian title designating the ruler or prince of a city state.

In Old Norse, ǫ́ss (or áss, ás, plural æsir; feminine ásynja, plural ásynjur) is the term denoting a member of the principal pantheon in the indigenous Germanic religion known as Norse religion. Unlike the Old English word god (and Old Norse goð), the term ōs (áss) was never adopted into Christian use and survived only in a secularized meaning of “pole, beam, stave, hill” or “yoke”.

The cognate term 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 a-rune ᚫ was named after the æsir.

Ansuz is the conventional name given to the a-rune of the Elder Futhark, ᚨ. The name is based on Common Germanic *ansuz “a god, one of the main deities in Germanic paganism”. The shape of the rune is likely from Neo-Etruscan a, like Latin A ultimately from Phoenician aleph.

The name aleph is derived from the West Semitic word for “ox”, and the shape of the letter derives from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph that may have been based on a Egyptian hieroglyph which depicts an ox’s head.

*Mannaz is the conventional name of the m-rune ᛗ of the Elder Futhark. It is derived from the reconstructed Common Germanic word for “man”, *mannaz. Younger Futhark ᛘ is maðr (“man”). It took up the shape of the algiz rune ᛉ, replacing Elder Futhark ᛗ. As its sound value and form in the Elder Futhark indicate, it is derived from the letter M (𐌌) in the Old Italic alphabets, ultimately from the Greek letter Mu (μ).

Mannus, according to the Roman writer Tacitus, was a figure in the creation myths of the Germanic tribes. Tacitus is the only source of these myths. Tacitus wrote that Mannus was the son of Tuisto and the progenitor of the three Germanic tribes Ingaevones, Herminones and Istvaeones.

The Irminones, also referred to as Herminones or Hermiones, were a group of early Germanic tribes settling in the Elbe watershed and by the 1st century AD expanding into Bavaria, Swabia and Bohemia. Irminonic or Elbe Germanic is a conventional term grouping early West Germanic dialects ancestral to High German, which would include modern Standard German.

In Nennius, the name Mannus and his three sons appear in corrupted form, the ancestor of the Irminones appearing as Armenon. His sons here are Gothus, Valagothus/Balagothus, Cibidus, Burgundus, and Longobardus, whence come the Goths (and Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Crimean Goths), Valagoths/Balagoths, Cibidi, Burgundians, and Langobards.

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

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

Odin has been a frequent subject of study in Germanic studies and numerous theories surround the god. Some of these focus on Odin’s particular relation to other figures, such as that Freyja’s husband Óðr appears to be something of an etymological doublet of the god, whereas the goddess Frigg, Odin’s wife, is in many ways similar to Freyja, and that Odin has a particular relation to the figure of Loki.

Yule was an indigenous midwinter festival celebrated by the Germanic peoples. The earliest references to it are in the form of month names, where the Yule-tide period lasts somewhere around two months in length, falling along the end of the modern calendar year between what is now mid-November and early January. Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Modranicht.

July is the seventh month of the year (between June and August) in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars and one of seven months with the length of 31 days.

It is on average the warmest month in most of the Northern hemisphere (where it is the second month of summer) and the coldest month in much of the Southern hemisphere (where it is the second month of winter). The second half of the year commences in July. In the Southern hemisphere, July is the seasonal equivalent of January in the Northern hemisphere.

In the Northern Hemisphere, “Dog days” are considered to begin in early July, when the hot sultry weather of summer usually starts. Spring lambs, born in late winter or early spring, are usually sold before July 1. The expression dog days refers to the hot, sultry days of summer, originally in areas around the Mediterranean Sea, and as the expression fit, to other areas, especially in the Northern Hemisphere.

The coincidence of very warm temperatures in the early civilizations in North Africa and the Near East with the rising, at sunrise (i.e., the heliacal rising), of Orion’s dog, the dog star Sirius, led to the association of this phrase with these conditions, an association that traces to the Egyptians and appears in the ancient written poetic and other records of the Greeks (e.g., Hesiod and Aratus) and the later Romans (including Homer, in The Iliad).

In Norse mythology, Loki, Loptr, or Hveðrungr is a god or jötunn (or both). Loki is the son of Fárbauti (Old Norse: “cruel striker”) and Laufey, and the brother of Helblindi and Býleistr.

By the jötunn Angrboða (Old Norse “the one who brings grief” or “she-who-offers-sorrow”), Loki is the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr. By his wife Sigyn, Loki is the father of Narfi and/or Nari. By the stallion Svaðilfari, Loki is the mother—giving birth in the form of a mare—to the eight-legged horse Sleipnir. In addition, Loki is referred to as the father of Váli in the Prose Edda.

According to the Prose Edda, Odin took Loki’s three children by Angrboða, the wolf Fenrir, Hel, and Jörmungandr, and tossed Jörmungandr into the great ocean that encircles Midgard.

The serpent grew so large that he was able to surround the earth and grasp his own tail. As a result, he received the name of the Midgard Serpent or World Serpent. When he lets go, the world will end. Jörmungandr’s arch-enemy is the god Thor. It is an example of an ouroboros.

Julius Caesar wrote of Mercury being the most popular god in Britain and Gaul, regarded as the inventor of all the arts. This is probably because in the Roman syncretism, Mercury was equated with the Celtic god Lugus, and in this aspect was commonly accompanied by the Celtic goddess Rosmerta.

Although Lugus may originally have been a deity of light or the sun (though this is disputed), similar to the Roman Apollo, his importance as a god of trade made him more comparable to Mercury, and Apollo was instead equated with the Celtic deity Belenus.

The Mannaeans (country name usually Mannea; Akkadian: Mannai, possibly Biblical Minni) were an ancient people who lived in the territory of present-day northwestern Iran south of lake Urmia, around the 10th to 7th centuries BC. At that time they were neighbors of the empires of Assyria and Urartu, as well as other small buffer states between the two, such as Musasir and Zikirta.

In the Bible (Jeremiah 51:27) the Mannaeans are called Minni. In the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), Minni is identified with Armenia, but it could refer to one of the provinces in ancient Armenia; Minni, Ararat and Ashkenaz.

According to examinations of the place and personal names found in Assyrian and Urartian texts, the Mannaeans, or at least their rulers, spoke Hurrian, a non-Semitic and non-Indo-European language related to Urartian, with no modern language connections.

Their kingdom was situated east and south of the Lake Urmia, roughly centered around the Urmia plain in this part of what is today named “Azerbaijan region of Iran”. After suffering several defeats at the hands of both Scythians and Assyrians, the remnants of the Mannaean populace were absorbed by an Iranian people known as the Matieni and the area became known as Matiene. It was then annexed by the Medes in about 609 BC.

In the Bible (Jeremiah 51:27), the Mannaeans are called Minni. The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), identified Minni with Armenia, but it could refer to one of the provinces in ancient Armenia; Minni, Ararat and Ashkenaz. According to examinations of the place and personal names found in Assyrian and Urartian texts, the Mannaeans, or at least their rulers, spoke Hurrian, a non-Semitic and non-Indo-European language related to Urartian.

W. M. Austin (1942) concluded that there was an early contact between Armenian and Anatolian languages, based on what he considered common archaisms, such as the lack of a feminine and the absence of inherited long vowels. However, unlike shared innovations (or synapomorphies), the common retention of archaisms (or symplesiomorphy) is not necessarily considered evidence of a period of common isolated development.

Soviet linguist Igor Diakonov (1985) noted the presence in Old Armenian of what he calls a Caucasian substratum, identified by earlier scholars, consisting of loans from the Kartvelian and Northeast Caucasian languages.

Noting that the Hurro-Urartian peoples inhabited the Armenian homeland in the second millennium b.c., Diakonov identifies in Armenian a Hurro-Urartian substratum of social, cultural, and animal and plant terms.

Some of the terms he gives admittedly have an Akkadian or Sumerian provenance, but he suggests they were borrowed through Hurrian or Urartian. Given that these borrowings do not undergo sound changes characteristic of the development of Armenian from Proto-Indo-European, he dates their borrowing to a time before the written record but after the Proto-Armenian language stage.

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 3rd 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 Highland. 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).

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Folklore traditions in the central and eastern Alps of Europe

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 7, 2015

A 1900s greeting card reading ‘Greetings from the Krampus!’

A Perchten mask

Weisse Frauen

Krampus and Saint Nicholas visit a Viennese home in 1896

Wild Hunt

Wild Hunt

The Wild Hunt

The Wild Hunt was a popular folklore found in Scandinavian and Germanic myth, as well in later folklore in Britain and northern European countries, which had changed over the centuries. The group of hunters was variously known as the Furious Host or Raging Host. The hunt usually takes part during winter, where a spectral host of horsemen riding through the stormy sky, with their ghostlike hounds. The chillingly sound of the hunting horn can be heard reverberating through the woods and meadows.

An abundance of different tales of the Wild Hunt are recorded in Germany. In most tales, the identity of the hunter is not made clear, in others, it is a mythological figure named Waul, Waur, Waurke, Wod, Wode, Wotk, or Wuid, who is thought to be derived from the ancient Germanic god of the wind and the dead, Wodan, a mythological figure named Frie, Fuik, Fu, Holda or Holle, who is thought to be derived from the Germanic goddess Freya or Frigg, or an undead noble, most often called Count Hackelberg or Count Ebernburg, who is cursed to hunt eternally because of misbehaviour during his lifetime, and in some versions died from injuries of a slain boar’s tusk.

In Old Norse texts, Odin is given primacy over female beings associated with the battlefield—the valkyries—and himself oversees the afterlife location Valhalla, where he receives as half of those who die in battle—the einherjar, while the other half are chosen by the goddess Freyja for her afterlife location, Fólkvangr (Old Norse “field of the host” or “people-field” or “army-field”).

Odin has been a frequent subject of study in Germanic studies and numerous theories surround the god. Some of these focus on Odin’s particular relation to other figures, such as that Freyja’s husband Óðr appears to be something of an etymological doublet of the god, whereas the goddess Frigg, Odin’s wife, is in many ways similar to Freyja, and that Odin has a particular relation to the figure of Loki.

Folklore traditions in the central and eastern Alps of Europe

The central and eastern Alps of Europe are rich in folklore traditions dating back to pagan (pre-Christian) times, with surviving elements amalgamated from Germanic, Gaulish (Gallo-Roman), Slavic (Carantanian) and Raetian culture.

Ancient customs survived in the rural parts of Austria, Switzerland, Bavaria, Slovenia, western Croatia and north eastern Italy in the form of dance, art, processions, rituals and games. The high regional diversity results from the mutual isolation of Alpine communities.

In the Alps, the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and paganism has been an ambivalent one. While some customs survived only in the remote valleys inaccessible to the church’s influence, other customs were actively assimilated over the centuries. In light of the dwindling rural population of the Alps, many customs have evolved into more modern interpretations.

Krampus-Perchta

The word Krampus originates from the Old High German word for claw (Krampen). In the Alpine regions, the Krampus is a mythical horned figure represented as accompanying Saint Nicholas. Krampus acts as an anti–Saint Nicholas, who, instead of giving gifts to good children, gives warnings and punishments to the bad children.

Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in the first two weeks of December, particularly in the evening of December 5, and roam the streets frightening children and women with rusty chains and whips and bells. This figure is believed to originate from stories of house spirits such as kobolds or elves.

Originally, the word Perchten (plural of Perchta) referred to the female masks representing the entourage of an ancient goddess, Frau Perchta, or Pehta Baba as it is known in Slovenia. Some claim a connection to the Nordic goddess Freyja, though this is uncertain.

Traditionally, the masks were displayed in processions (Perchtenlauf) during the last week of December and first week of January, and particularly on January 6. The costume consists of a brown wooden mask and brown or white sheep’s skin.

In recent times Krampus and Perchten have increasingly been displayed in a single event, leading to a loss of distinction of the two. Perchten are associated with midwinter and the embodiment of fate and the souls of the dead. The name originates from the Old High German word peraht (“brilliant” or “bright”).

Regional variations of the name include Berigl, Berchtlmuada, Berchta, Pehta, Perhta-Baba, Zlobna Pehta, Bechtrababa, Sampa, Stampa, Lutzl, Zamperin, Pudelfrau, Zampermuatta and Rauweib. The Roman Catholic Church attempted to prohibit the sometimes rampant practise in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries but later condoned it, resulting in a revival.

In the Pongau region of Austria large processions of Schönperchten (“beautiful Perchten”) and Schiachperchten (“ugly Perchten”) are held every winter. Other regional variations include the Tresterer in the Austrian Pinzgau region, the stilt dancers in the town of Unken, the Schnabelpercht (“trunked Percht”) in the Unterinntal region and the Glöcklerlaufen (“bell-running”) in the Salzkammergut.

Regional variations of the name include Berigl, Berchtlmuada, Berchta, Pehta, Perhta-Baba, Zlobna Pehta, Bechtrababa, Sampa, Stampa, Lutzl, Zamperin, Pudelfrau, Zampermuatta and Rauweib. The Roman Catholic Church attempted to prohibit the sometimes rampant practise in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries but later condoned it, resulting in a revival.

A number of large ski-resorts have turned the tradition into a tourist attraction drawing large crowds every winter. In the Pongau region of Austria large processions of Schönperchten (“beautiful Perchten”) and Schiachperchten (“ugly Perchten”) are held every winter.

Other regional variations include the Tresterer in the Austrian Pinzgau region, the stilt dancers in the town of Unken, the Schnabelpercht (“trunked Percht”) in the Unterinntal region and the Glöcklerlaufen (“bell-running”) in the Salzkammergut. A number of large ski-resorts have turned the tradition into a tourist attraction drawing large crowds every winter.

Sometimes, der Teufel is viewed to be the most schiach (“ugly”) Percht (masculine singular of Perchten) and Frau Perchta to be the most schön (“beautiful”) Perchtin (female singular of Perchten).

The word Perchten is plural for Perchta, and this has become the name of her entourage, as well as the name of animal masks worn in parades and festivals in the mountainous regions of Austria.

In the 16th century, the Perchten took two forms: Some are beautiful and bright, known as the Schönperchten (“beautiful Perchten”). These come during the Twelve Nights and festivals to “bring luck and wealth to the people.” The other form is the Schiachperchten (“ugly Perchten”) who have fangs, tusks and horse tails which are used to drive out demons and ghosts. Men dressed as the ugly Perchten during the 16th century and went from house to house driving out bad spirits.

Today in Austria, particularly Salzburg, the Perchten are still a traditional part of holidays and festivals (such as the Carnival Fastnacht). The wooden animal masks made for the festivals are today called Perchten.

In Italy, Perchta is roughly equivalent with La Befana, who visits all the children of Italy on the night before 6 January to fill their socks with candy if they are good or a lump of coal if they are bad.

Krampus

In Austro-Bavarian German-speaking Alpine folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure who punishes children during the Christmas season who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards well-behaved ones with gifts.

Regions in Austria feature similar figures and, more widely, Krampus is one of a number of Companions of Saint Nicholas in regions of Europe. The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated a pre-Christian origin for the figure.

Traditional parades in which young men dress as Krampus, such as the Krampuslauf (English: Krampus run), occur annually in most Alpine towns. Krampus is featured on holiday greeting cards called Krampuskarten.

The history of the Krampus figure has been theorized as stretching back to Pre-Christian Alpine traditions. The Krampus figures persisted, and by the 17th century Krampus had been incorporated into Christian winter celebrations by pairing Krampus with St Nicholas. Countries of the former Habsburg Empire have largely borrowed the tradition of Krampus accompanying St Nicholas on 5 December from Austria.

In the aftermath of the 1934 Austrian Civil War, the Krampus tradition was prohibited by the Dollfuss regime under the Fatherland’s Front (Vaterländische Front) and the Christian Social Party. In the 1950s, the government distributed pamphlets titled “Krampus is an Evil Man”.

Towards the end of the century, a popular resurgence of Krampus celebrations occurred and continues today. The Krampus tradition is being revived in Bavaria as well, along with a local artistic tradition of hand-carved wooden masks. There has been public debate in Austria in modern times about whether Krampus is appropriate for children.

The Feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated in parts of Europe on 6 December. On the preceding evening of December 5th, Krampus Night or Krampusnacht, the wicked hairy devil appears on the streets. Sometimes accompanying St Nicholas and sometimes on his own, Krampus visits homes and businesses.

The Saint usually appears in the Eastern Rite vestments of a bishop, and he carries a golden ceremonial staff. Unlike North American versions of Santa Claus, in these celebrations Saint Nicholas concerns himself only with the good children, while Krampus is responsible for the bad. Nicholas dispenses gifts, while Krampus supplies coal and the ruten bundles.

A Krampuslauf is a run of celebrants dressed as the wicked beast, often fueled by alcohol. It is customary to offer a Krampus schnapps, a strong distilled fruit brandy. These runs may include perchten, similarly wild pagan spirits of Germanic folklore and sometimes female in representation, although the perchten are properly associated with the period between winter solstice and 6 January.

Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas (15 March 270 – 6 December 343), also called Nikolaos of Myra, was a historic 4th-century Christian saint and Greek Bishop of Myra, in Asia Minor (modern-day Demre, Turkey). Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints.

Among the Greeks and Italians he is a favorite of sailors, fishermen, ships and sailing. As such he has become over time the patron saint of several cities maintaining harbours. In centuries of Greek folklore, Nicholas was seen as “The Lord of the Sea”, often described by Modern Greek scholars as a kind of Christianized version of Poseidon.

In modern Greece, he is still easily among the most recognizable saints and 6 December finds many cities celebrating their patron saint. He is also the patron saint of all of Greece and particularly of the Hellenic Navy.

The historical Saint Nicholas is commemorated and revered among Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, and Orthodox Christians. In addition, some Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Reformed churches have been named in honor of Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, children, brewers, pawnbrokers and students in various cities and countries around Europe.

Nicolas had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, a practice celebrated on his feast day (6 December in the Gregorian calendar, in Western Christianity; 19 December in the Julian calendar, in Eastern Christianity); and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of “Saint Nikolaos”.

The companions of Saint Nicholas

The companions of Saint Nicholas are a group of closely related figures who accompany St. Nicholas in German-speaking Europe and more widely throughout the territories formerly in the Holy Roman Empire. These characters act as a foil to the benevolent Christmas gift-bringer, threatening to thrash or abduct disobedient children.

Jacob Grimm (Deutsche Mythologie) associated this character with the pre-Christian house spirit (kobold, elf) which could be benevolent or malicious, but whose mischievous side was emphasized after Christianization. The association of the Christmas gift-bringer with elves has parallels in English and Scandinavian folklore, and is ultimately and remotely connected to the modern Christmas elf in American folklore.

Names for the “dark” or threatening companion figure include: Knecht Ruprecht in Germany, Krampus in Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Friuli, Hungary (spelled Krampusz); Klaubauf in Bavaria, Austria; Bartel in Styria; Pelzebock; Befana; Pelznickel; Belzeniggl; Belsnickel in the Palatinate (and also Pennsylvania, due to Pennsylvania Dutch influence); Schmutzli in Switzerland; Rumpelklas; Bellzebub; Hans Muff; Drapp; Buzebergt in Augsburg and Little Babushka in Russia.

The corresponding figure in the Netherlands and Flanders is called Zwarte Piet or Black Pete, and in Swiss folklore Schmutzli, (schmutz meaning dirt). In the Czech Republic, St. Nicholas or Svatý Mikuláš is accompanied by the Čert (Devil) and Anděl (Angel). In France, St. Nicholas’ companion is called “Rubbels” in German-speaking Lorraine and Hanstrapp (in Alsace, East of France) and the Père Fouettard (Wallonia, Northern and Eastern France).

The Horned God

The Horned God is one of the two primary deities found in Wicca and some related forms of Neopaganism. The term Horned God itself predates Wicca, and is an early 20th-century syncretic term for a horned or antlered anthropomorphic god with partly pseudohistorical origins, partly based on historical horned deities.

The Horned God represents the male part of the religion’s duotheistic theological system, the other part being the female Triple Goddess or other Mother Goddess. In common Wiccan belief, he is associated with nature, wilderness, sexuality, hunting, and the life cycle.

Whilst depictions of the deity vary, he is always shown with either horns or antlers upon his head, often depicted as being theriocephalic (having a beast’s head), in this way emphasizing “the union of the divine and the animal”, the latter of which includes humanity.

The Horned God is the personification of the life force energy in animals and the wild and is associated with the wilderness, virility and the hunt. Doreen Valiente writes that the Horned God also carries the souls of the dead to the underworld.

Following the writings of suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage and others, Margaret Murray, in her 1921 book The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, proposed the theory that the witches of the early-modern period were remnants of a pagan cult and that the Christian Church had declared the god of the witches was in fact the Devil.

Cernunnos

Cernunnos is the conventional name given in Celtic studies to depictions of the “horned god” (sometimes referred to as Herne the Hunter, a ghost associated with Windsor Forest and Great Park in the English county of Berkshire) of Celtic polytheism. The name itself is only attested once, on the 1st-century Pillar of the Boatmen, but depictions of a horned or antlered figure, often seated cross-legged and often associated with animals and holding or wearing torcs, are known from other instances.

The theonym [C]ernunnos appears on the Pillar of the Boatmen, a Gallo-Roman monument dating to the early 1st century CE, to label a god depicted with stag’s antlers in their early stage of annual growth. Both antlers have torcs hanging from them.

The name has been compared to a divine epithet Carnonos in a Celtic inscription written in Greek characters at Montagnac, Hérault. A Gallo-Latin adjective carnuātus, “horned,” is also found. In spite of the name Cernunnos being attested nowhere else, it is commonly used in Celtological literature as describing all comparable depictions of horned/antlered deities.

This “Cernunnos” type in Celtic iconography is often portrayed with animals, in particular the stag, and also frequently associated with the ram-horned serpent, and less frequently bulls (at Rheims), dogs and rats. Because of his frequent association with creatures, scholars often describe Cernunnos as the “Lord of the Animals” or the “Lord of Wild Things”, and Miranda Green describes him as a “peaceful god of nature and fruitfulness”.

The Pilier des nautes links him with sailors and with commerce, suggesting that he was also associated with material wealth as does the coin pouch from the Cernunnos of Rheims (Marne, Champagne, France)—in antiquity, Durocortorum, the civitas capital of the Remi tribe—and the stag vomiting coins from Niedercorn-Turbelslach (Luxembourg) in the lands of the Treveri. The god may have symbolised the fecundity of the stag-inhabited forest.

Other examples of “Cernunnos” images include a petroglyph in Val Camonica in Cisalpine Gaul. The antlered human figure has been dated as early as the 7th century BCE or as late as the 4th. An antlered child appears on a relief from Vendeuvres, flanked by serpents and holding a purse and a torc. The best known image appears on the Gundestrup cauldron found on Jutland, dating to the 1st century BC, thought to depict Celtic subject matter though usually regarded as of Thracian workmanship.

Among the Celtiberians, horned or antlered figures of the Cernunnos type include a “Janus-like” god from Candelario (Salamanca) with two faces and two small horns; a horned god from the hills of Ríotinto (Huelva); and a possible representation of the deity Vestius Aloniecus near his altars in Lourizán (Pontevedra). The horns are taken to represent “aggressive power, genetic vigor and fecundity.”

Divine representations of the Cernunnos type are exceptions to the often-expressed view that the Celts only began to picture their gods in human form after the Roman conquest of Gaul. The Celtic “horned god”, while well attested in iconography, cannot be identified in description of Celtic religion in Roman ethnography and does not appear to have been given any interpretatio romana, perhaps due to being too distinctive to be translatable into the Roman pantheon.

While Cernunnos was never assimilated, scholars have sometimes compared him functionally to Greek and Roman divine figures such as Mercury, Actaeon, specialized forms of Jupiter, and Dis Pater, the latter of whom Julius Caesar said was considered the ancestor of the Gauls.

Alu

Alulim was 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.

The Sumerian King List has the following entry for Alulim: “After the kingship descended from heaven, the kingship was in Eridug (Eridu). In Eridug, Alulim became king; he ruled for 28,800 years.”

In a chart of antediluvian generations in Babylonian and Biblical traditions, Professor William Wolfgang Hallo associates Alulim with the composite half-man, half-fish counselor or culture hero (Apkallu) Uanna-Adapa (Oannes), and suggests an equivalence between Alulim and Enosh in the Sethite genealogy given in Genesis chapter 5. Hallo notes that Alulim’s name means “Stag”.

William H. Shea suggests that Alulim was a contemporary of the biblical figure Adam, who may have been derived from Adapa of ancient Mesopotamian religion.

Kumarbi is the chief god of the Hurrians. He is the son of Anu (the sky), and father of the storm-god Teshub. He was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil, and by the Ugaritians with El.

The Song of Kumarbi or Kingship in Heaven relates that Alalu, considered to have housed “the Hosts of Sky”, the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth, was overthrown by Anu who was in turn overthrown by Kumarbi. When Anu tried to escape, Kumarbi bit off his genitals and spat out three new gods. Alalu fled to the underworld.

In the text Anu tells his son that he is now pregnant with the Teshub, Tigris, and Tašmišu. Upon hearing this Kumarbi spit the semen upon the ground and it became impregnated with two children. Kumarbi is cut open to deliver Tešub. Together, Anu and Teshub depose Kumarbi.

In another version of the Kingship in Heaven, the three gods, Alalu, Anu, and Kumarbi, rule heaven, each serving the one who precedes him in the nine-year reign. It is Kumarbi’s son Tešub, the Weather-God, who begins to conspire to overthrow his father.

From the first publication of the Kingship in Heaven tablets scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian creation myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus.

The name “Alalu” is a compound word made up of the definite article al and the supreme deity Alu. 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. He was also called Alalus.

Artemis-Diana

Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Some scholars believe that the name, and indeed the goddess herself, was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: “Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals”. The Arcadians believed she was the daughter of Demeter. Her symbols included the golden bow and arrow, the hunting dog, the stag, and the moon.

In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth.

Deer were the only animals held sacred to Artemis herself. On seeing a deer larger than a bull with horns shining, she fell in love with these creatures and held them sacred. Deer were also the first animals she captured. She caught five golden horned deer called Elaphoi Khrysokeroi and harnessed them to her chariot.

The celestial character of Diana is reflected in her connection with light, inaccessibility, virginity, and her preference for dwelling on high mountains and in sacred woods. Diana therefore reflects the heavenly world (diuum means sky or open air) in its sovereignty, supremacy, impassibility, and indifference towards such secular matters as the fates of mortals and states.

At the same time, however, she is seen as active in ensuring the succession of kings and in the preservation of humankind through the protection of childbirth.

According to Dumezil the forerunner of all frame gods is an Indian epic hero who was the image (avatar) of the Vedic god Dyaus. Having renounced the world, in his roles of father and king, he attained the status of an immortal being while retaining the duty of ensuring that his dynasty is preserved and that there is always a new king for each generation.

The Scandinavian god Heimdallr performs an analogous function: he is born first and will die last. He too gives origin to kingship and the first king, bestowing on him regal prerogatives. Diana, although a female deity, has exactly the same functions, preserving mankind through childbirth and royal succession.

Her Roman equivalent is Diana. In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon and childbirth, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. Diana’s cult has been related in Early Modern Europe to the cult of Nicevenn (a.k.a. Dame Habond, Perchta, Herodiana, etc.). She was related to myths of a female Wild Hunt.

Today there is a branch of Wicca named after Diana, which is characterized by an exclusive focus on the feminine aspect of the Divine. Diana’s name is also used as the third divine name in a Wiccan energy chant- “Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, and Inanna”.

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.

Dumezil’s interpretation appears deliberately to ignore that of James G. Frazer, who links Diana with the male god Janus as a divine couple. This looks odd as Dumézil’s definition of the concept of frame god would fit well the figure of Janus. Frazer identifies the two with the supreme heavenly couple Jupiter-Juno and additionally ties in these figures to the overarching Indoeuropean religious complex.

Inara-Persephone-Proserpina

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.

The mother goddess Hannahannah promises Inara land and a man during a consultation by Inara. Inara then disappears. Her father looks for her, joined by Hannahannah with a bee. The story resembles that of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, also called Kore or Cora (“the maiden”), in Greek myth.

Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter, the Greek God of grain and agriculture, 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. Persephone was abducted by Hades, the god-king 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.

In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina, and her mother, Ceres, a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. The Romans identified Proserpina with their native fertility goddess Libera, daughter of the grain and agriculture goddess Ceres and wife to Liber.

Like Persephone, Proserpina is associated with the underworld realm and its ruler; and along with her mother Ceres, with the springtime growth of crops and the cycle of life, death and rebirth or renewal. Her name is a Latinisation of “Persephone”, perhaps influenced by the Latin proserpere (“to emerge, to creep forth”), with respect to the growing of grain.

Her core myths – her forcible abduction by the god of the Underworld, her mother’s search for her and her eventual but temporary restoration to the world above – are the subject of works in Roman and later art and literature. In particular, Proserpina’s seizure by the god of the Underworld – usually described as the Rape of Proserpina, or of Persephone – has offered dramatic subject matter for Renaissance and later sculptors and painters.

Janus-Juno

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions, and thereby of gates, doors, doorways, passages and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.

It is conventionally thought that the month of January is named for Janus (Ianuarius), but according to ancient Roman farmers’ almanacs Juno was the tutelary deity of the month. The relationship between Janus and Juno is defined by the closeness of the notions of beginning and transition and the functions of conception and delivery, result of youth and vital force. Janus owes the epithet Iunonius to his function as patron of all kalends, which are also associated with Juno.

Juno is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister (but also the wife) of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Juno is the equivalent to Hera, the Greek goddess for love and marriage. Her Etruscan counterpart was Uni.

Juno is the Roman goddess of love and marriage. Juno also looked after the women of Rome.  As the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman Empire, Juno was called Regina (“Queen”) and, together with Jupiter and Minerva, was worshipped as a triad on the Capitol (Juno Capitolina) in Rome.

Juno’s own warlike aspect among the Romans is apparent in her attire. She often appeared sitting pictured with a peacock armed and wearing a goatskin cloak. The traditional depiction of this warlike aspect was assimilated from the Greek goddess Hera, whose goatskin was called the ‘aegis’.

The name Juno was also once thought to be connected to Iove (Jove), originally as Diuno and Diove from *Diovona. At the beginning of the 20th century, a derivation was proposed from iuven- (as in Latin iuvenis, “youth”), through a syncopated form iūn- (as in iūnix, “heifer”, and iūnior, “younger”). This etymology became widely accepted after it was endorsed by Georg Wissowa.

Iuuen- is related to Latin aevum and Greek aion through a common Indo-European root referring to a concept of vital energy or “fertile time”. The iuvenis is he who has the fullness of vital force. In some inscriptions Jupiter himself is called Iuuntus, and one of the epithets of Jupiter is Ioviste, a superlative form of iuuen- meaning “the youngest”.

Iuventas, “Youth”, was one of two deities who “refused” to leave the Capitol when the building of the new Temple of Capitoline Jove required the exauguration of deities who already occupied the site. Hēbē in ancient Greek religion is the goddess of youth. She is the daughter of Zeus and Hera. Her Roman equivalent is Juventus.

Ancient etymologies associated Juno’s name with iuvare, “to aid, benefit”, and iuvenescendo, “rejuvenate”, sometimes connecting it to the renewal of the new and waxing moon, perhaps implying the idea of a moon goddess.

Some scholars have maintained that Juno was the primitive paredra of the god. This point bears on the nature of Janus and Juno and is at the core of an important dispute: was Janus a debased ancient uranic supreme god, or were Janus and Jupiter co-existent, their distinct identities structurally inherent to their original theology?

Among Francophone scholars Grimal and (implicitly and partially) Renard and Basanoff have supported the view of a uranic supreme god against Dumézil and Schilling. Among Anglophone scholars Frazer and Cook have suggested an interpretation of Janus as uranic supreme god.

Whatever the case, it is certain that Janus and Juno show a peculiar reciprocal affinity: while Janus is Iunonius, Juno is Ianualis, as she presides over childbirth and the menstrual cycle, and opens doors. Moreover, besides the kalends Janus and Juno are also associated at the rite of the Tigillum Sororium of 1 October, in which they bear the epithets Ianus Curiatius and Iuno Sororia. These epithets, which swap the functional qualities of the gods, are the most remarkable apparent proof of their proximity.

Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence war and peace. The doors of his temple were open in time of war, and closed to mark the peace. As a god of transitions, he had functions pertaining to birth and to journeys and exchange, and in his association with Portunus, a similar harbor and gateway god, he was concerned with travelling, trading and shipping.

Three etymologies were proposed by ancient erudites, each of them bearing implications about the nature of the god. The first one is based on the definition of Chaos given by Paul the Deacon: hiantem, hiare, be open, from which word Ianus would derive by loss of the initial aspirate. In this etymology the notion of Chaos would define the primordial nature of the god.

Another etymology proposed by Nigidius Figulus is related by Macrobius: Ianus would be Apollo and Diana Iana, by the addition of a D for the sake of euphony. This explanation has been accepted by A. B. Cook and J. G. Frazer. It supports all the assimilations of Janus to the bright sky, the sun and the moon. It supposes a former *Dianus, formed on *dia- < *dy-eð2 from Indo-European root *dey- shine represented in Latin by dies day, Diovis and Iuppiter. However the form Dianus postulated by Nigidius is not attested.

The interpretation of Janus as the god of beginnings and transitions is based on a third etymology indicated by Cicero, Ovid and Macrobius, which explains the name as Latin, deriving it from the verb ire (“to go”).

Modern scholars have conjectured that it derives from the Indo-European root meaning transitional movement (cf. Sanskrit “yana-” or Avestan “yah-“, likewise with Latin “i-” and Greek “ei-“.). Iānus would then be an action name expressing the idea of going, passing, formed on the root *yā- < *y-eð2- theme II of the root *ey- go from which eō, ειμι.

Other modern scholars object to an Indo-European etymology either from Dianus or from root *yā-. From Ianus derived ianua (“door”), and hence the English word “janitor” (Latin, ianitor).

The Winter solstice was thought to occur on 25 December. January 1 was new year day: the day was consecrated to Janus since it was the first of the new year and of the month (kalends) of Janus: the feria had an augural character as Romans believed the beginning of anything was an omen for the whole.

Thus on that day it was customary to exchange cheerful words of good wishes. For the same reason everybody devoted a short time to his usual business, exchanged dates, figs and honey as a token of well wishing and made gifts of coins called strenae.

Cakes made of spelt (far) and salt were offered to the god and burnt on the altar. Ovid states that in most ancient times there were no animal sacrifices and gods were propitiated with offerings of spelt and pure salt. This libum was named ianual and it was probably correspondent to the summanal offered the day before the Summer solstice to god Summanus, which however was sweet being made with flour, honey and milk.

Shortly afterwards, on 9 January, on the feria of the Agonium of January the rex sacrorum offered the sacrifice of a ram to Janus. At the kalends of each month the rex sacrorum and the pontifex minor offered a sacrifice to Janus in the curia Calabra, while the regina offered a sow or a she lamb to Juno.

March was the first month and February the last one in the ancient Roman calendar. January, the month of Janus, became the first afterwards and through several manipulations. The liminal character of Janus is though present in the association to the Saturnalia of December, reflecting the strict relationship between the two gods Janus and Saturn and the rather blurred distinction of their stories and symbols.

Haia-Nisaba

The Sumerian god Haia is known both as a “door-keeper” and associated with the scribal arts, and may have had an association with grain. At least from the Old Babylonian period on he is known as the spouse of the grain-goddess Nidaba/Nissaba, who is also the patroness of the scribal art. Haya is also characterized as an “agrig”-official of the god Enlil. He is designated as “the Nissaba of wealth”, as opposed to his wife, who is the “Nissaba of Wisdom”. In some cases he was identified as father of the goddess Ninlil.

While there is plenty of evidence to connect Haya with scribes, the evidence connecting him with grain is mainly restricted to etymological considerations, which are unreliable and suspect. There is also a divine name Haia(-)amma in a bilingual Hattic-Hittite text from Anatolia which is used as an equivalent for the Hattic grain-goddess Kait in an invocation to the Hittite grain-god Halki, although it is unclear whether this appellation can be related to ha-ià.

Nidaba reflects fundamental developments in the creation of Mesopotamian culture, those which take us from agriculture to accounting, to a very fine literary tradition. Nidaba was originally an agricultural deity, more specifically a goddess of grain. The intricate connection between agriculture and accounting/writing implied that it was not long before Nidaba became the goddess of writing. From then on her main role was to be the patron of scribes. She was eventually replaced in that function by the god Nabu.

Traditions vary regarding the genealogy of Nidaba. She appears on separate occasions as the daughter of Enlil, of Uraš, of Ea, and of Anu. Nidaba’s spouse is Haya and together they have a daughter, Sud/Ninlil. Two myths describe the marriage of Sud/Ninlil with Enlil. This implies that Nidaba could be at once the daughter and the mother-in-law of Enlil. Nidaba is also the sister of Ninsumun, the mother of Gilgameš. Nidaba is frequently mentioned together with the goddess Nanibgal who also appears as an epithet of Nidaba, although most god lists treat her as a distinct goddess.

In a debate between Nidaba and Grain, Nidaba is syncretised with Ereškigal as “Mistress of the Underworld”. Nidaba is also identified with the goddess of grain Ašnan, and with Nanibgal/Nidaba-ursag/Geme-Dukuga, the throne bearer of Ninlil and wife of Ennugi, throne bearer of Enlil.

Caelus

According to Cicero and Hyginus, Caelus was the son of Aether and Dies (“Day” or “Daylight”). Caelus and Dies were in this tradition the parents of Mercury. With Trivia, Caelus was the father of the distinctively Roman god Janus, as well as of Saturn and Ops. Caelus was also the father of one of the three forms of Jupiter, the other two fathers being Aether and Saturn. In one tradition, Caelus was the father with Tellus of the Muses, though was this probably a mere translation of Ouranos from a Greek source.

Caelus or Coelus was a primal god of the sky in Roman myth and theology, iconography, and literature (compare caelum, the Latin word for “sky” or “the heavens”, hence English “celestial”). The deity’s name usually appears in masculine grammatical form when he is conceived of as a male generative force, but the neuter form Caelum is also found as a divine personification.

The name of Caelus indicates that he was the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Uranus, who was of major importance in the theogonies of the Greeks. Varro couples him with Terra (Earth) as pater and mater (father and mother), and says that they are “great deities” (dei magni) in the theology of the mysteries at Samothrace. He has been associated with Summanus, the god of nocturnal thunder.

Caelus substituted for Uranus in Latin versions of the myth of Saturn (Cronus) castrating his heavenly father, from whose severed genitals, cast upon the sea, the goddess Venus (Aphrodite) was born.

In his work On the Nature of the Gods, Cicero presents a Stoic allegory of the myth in which the castration signifies “that the highest heavenly aether, that seed-fire which generates all things, did not require the equivalent of human genitals to proceed in its generative work.”

For Macrobius, the severing marks off Chaos from fixed and measured Time (Saturn) as determined by the revolving Heavens (Caelum). The semina rerum (“seeds” of things that exist physically) come from Caelum and are the elements which create the world.

The divine spatial abstraction Caelum is a synonym for Olympus as a metaphorical heavenly abode of the divine, both identified with and distinguished from the mountain in ancient Greece named as the home of the gods. Varro says that the Greeks call Caelum (or Caelus) “Olympus.”

As a representation of space, Caelum is one of the components of the mundus, the “world” or cosmos, along with terra (earth), mare (sea), and aer (air). In his work on the cosmological systems of antiquity, the Dutch Renaissance humanist Gerardus Vossius deals extensively with Caelus and his duality as both a god and a place that the other gods inhabit.

The ante-Nicene Christian writer Lactantius routinely uses the Latin theonyms Caelus, Saturn, and Jupiter to refer to the three divine hypostases of the Neoplatonic school of Plotinus: the First God (Caelus), Intellect (Saturn), and Soul, son of the Intelligible (Jupiter).

Tyr

Týr is a god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws, Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu and Cyo, all from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. The Latinised name is Tius or Tio. Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio germanica. Tuesday is in fact “Tīw’s Day” (also in Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag), translating dies Martis.

It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war.

According to Tacitus’s Germania (98 CE), Tuisto 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. In the larger Indo-European pantheon, Tuisto is equated to the Vedic Tvastar, the first-born creator of the universe.

The Purusha Sukta refers to the Purusha as Tvastr, who is the visible form of creativity emerged from the navel of the invisible Vishvakarman (Sanskrit for “all-accomplishing, maker of all, all-doer”), the personified omnipotence and the abstract form of the creator God according to the Rigveda. In the Yajurveda, Purusha Sukta and the tenth mandala of the Rigveda, his character and attributes are merged with the concept of Hiranyagharbha/Prajapathy or Brahma.

Vishvakarman is the presiding deity of all artisans and architects. He is believed to be the “Principal Architect of the Universe “, and the root concept of the later Upanishadic figures of Brahman and Purusha. Vishwakarma is visualized as Ultimate reality (later developed as Brahman) in the Rig Veda, from whose navel all visible things Hiranyagarbha emanate. The same imagery is seen in Yajurveda purusha sukta, in which the divine smith Tvastar emerging from Vishwakarma.

Tvaṣṭṛ is a solar deity in the Mahābhārata and the Harivaṃśa. He is mentioned as the son of Kāśyapa and Aditi and is said to have made the three worlds with pieces of the Sun god, Surya.

The term, also transliterated as Tvaṣṭr, nominative Tvaṣṭā, is the heavenly builder, the maker of divine implements, especially Indra’s Vajra and the guardian of Soma. Tvaṣṭṛ is mentioned 65 times in the Ṛgveda and is the former of the bodies of men and animals,’ and invoked when desiring offspring, called garbha-pati or the lord of the womb. The term Tvaṣṭṛ is mentioned in the Mitanni treaty, which establishes him as a proto-Indo-Iranian divinity.

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.

Perchta

Perchta or Berchta (English: Bertha), also commonly known as Percht and other variations, was once known as a goddess in Alpine paganism in the Upper German regions of the Alps. Later canonical and church documents characterized Perchta as synonymous with other leading female spirits: Holda, Diana, Herodias, Richella and Abundia.

Her name may mean “the bright one” (Old High German beraht, bereht, from Proto-Germanic *brehtaz) and is probably related to the name Berchtentag, meaning the feast of the Epiphany. Eugen Mogk provides an alternative etymology, attributing the origin of the name Perchta to the Old High German verb pergan, meaning “hidden” or “covered”.

Perchta is often identified as stemming from the same Germanic goddess as Holda and other female figures of German folklore. According to Jacob Grimm and Lotte Motz, Perchta is Holda’s southern cousin or equivalent, as they both share the role of “guardian of the beasts” and appear during the Twelve Days of Christmas, when they oversee spinning.

According to Erika Timm, Perchta emerged from an amalgamation of Germanic and pre-Germanic, probably Celtic, traditions of the Alpine regions after the Migration Period in the Early Middle Ages.

According to Jacob Grimm (1882), Perchta was spoken of in Old High German in the 10th century as Frau Berchta and thought to be a white-robed female spirit. She was known as a goddess who oversaw spinning and weaving, like myths of Holda in Continental German regions. He believes she was the feminine equivalent of Berchtold, and she was sometimes the leader of the Wild Hunt.

In the folklore of Bavaria and Austria, Perchta was said to roam the countryside at midwinter, and to enter homes between the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany (especially on the Twelfth Night).

She would know whether the children and young servants of the household had behaved well and worked hard all year. If they had, they might find a small silver coin next day, in a shoe or pail. If they had not, she would slit their bellies open, remove stomach and guts, and stuff the hole with straw and pebbles.

She was particularly concerned to see that girls had spun the whole of their allotted portion of flax or wool during the year. She would also slit people’s bellies open and stuff them with straw if they ate something on the night of her feast day other than the traditional meal of fish and gruel.

Epiphany

Epiphany (“Manifestation”, “striking appearance”) or Theophany, (“Vision of God”) also known as Three Kings’ Day, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ.

The Koine word epiphaneia derives from the verb “to appear” and means “manifestation”, “appearance”. In classical Greek it was used of the appearance of dawn, of an enemy in war, but especially of a manifestation of a deity to a worshiper (a theophany).

The Eve of the Theophany (5 January) is a day of strict fasting, on which the devout will not eat anything until the first star is seen at night. This day is known as Paramony (“preparation”), and follows the same general outline as Christmas Eve.

In the Septuagint the word is used of a manifestation of the God of Israel (2 Maccabees 15:27). In the New Testament the word is used in 2 Timothy 1:10 to refer either to the birth of Christ or to his appearance after his resurrection, and five times to refer to his Second Coming.

Holda

In Germanic legends, Frau Holda, also Frau Holle, was the protectoress of agriculture and women’s crafts. Her name and the names Huld and Hulda may be cognate with that of the Scandinavian being known as the huldra.

Jacob Grimm made an attempt to establish her as a Germanic goddess. According to him Perchta or Berchta was known “precisely in those Upper German regions where Holda leaves off, in Swabia, in Alsace, in Switzerland, in Bavaria and Austria.”

Holda’s connection to the spirit world through the magic of spinning and weaving has associated her with witchcraft in Catholic German folklore. She was considered to ride with witches on distaffs, which closely resemble the brooms that witches are thought to ride. Likewise, Holda was often identified with Diana in old church documents.

Later canonical and church documents make her synonymous with Diana, Herodias, Bertha, Richella and Abundia. Historian Carlo Ginzburg has identified similar beliefs existing throughout Europe for over a thousand years, whereby men and women were thought to leave their bodies in spirit and follow a goddess variously called Holda, Diana, Herodias, Signora Oriente, Richella, Arada and Perchta. He also identifies strong morphological similarities with the earlier goddesses Hecate/Artemis, Artio, the Matres of Engyon, the Matronae and Epona, as well as figures from fairy-tales, such as Cinderella.

There were early challenges to connecting this figure with a pagan goddess, since her earliest definite appearance links her with the Virgin Mary, commonly called “Queen of Heaven”: an early-13th-century text listing superstitions states that “In the night of Christ’s Nativity they set the table for the Queen of Heaven, whom the people call Frau Holda, that she might help them”.

Lotte Motz and Carlo Ginzburg both conclude that she is pre-Christian in origin, based on comparison with other remarkably similar figures and ritual observances spread throughout Europe.

Weisse Frauen

In some descriptions, Perchta has two forms; she may appear either as beautiful and white as snow like her name, or as elderly and haggard.Sometimes, der Teufel is viewed as the most schiach (“ugly”) Percht and Frau Perchta as the most schön (“beautiful”) Percht. Grimm thinks Holda is her equivalent while the Weisse frauen may derive directly from Berchta in her white form.

In German folklore, the Weisse Frauen (meaning White Women) are elven-like spirits that may have derived from Germanic paganism in the form of legends of light elves (Old Norse: Ljósálfar). The Dutch Witte Wieven went at least as far back as the 7th century, and their mistranslation as White Women instead of the original Wise Women can be explained by the Dutch word wit also meaning white.

The Wild Hunt

The Wild Hunt is a European folk myth involving a ghostly or supernatural group of huntsmen passing in wild pursuit. The hunters may be either elves or fairies or the dead, and the leader of the hunt is often a named figure associated with Woden (or other reflections of the same god, such as Alemannic Wuodan in Wuotis Heer (“Wuodan’s Army”) of Central Switzerland, Swabia etc.), but may variously be a historical or legendary figure like Theodoric the Great, the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag, the Welsh psychopomp Gwyn ap Nudd, biblical figures such as Herod, Cain, Gabriel or the Devil, or an unidentified lost soul or spirit either male or female.

Based on the comparative approach based on German folklore, the phenomenon is often referred to as Wilde Jagd (German: “wild hunt/chase”) or Wildes Heer (German: “wild host”). In Germany, where it was also known as the “Wild Army”, or “Furious Army”, its leader was given various identities, including Wodan (or “Woden”), Knecht Ruprecht (cf. Krampus), Berchtold (or Berchta), and Holda (or “Holle”). The Wild Hunt is also known from post-medieval folklore.

In England, it was known as Herlaþing (Old English: “Herla’s assembly”), Woden’s Hunt, Herod’s Hunt, Cain’s Hunt, the Devil’s Dandy Dogs (in Cornwall), Gabriel’s Hounds (in northern England), Ghost Riders (in North America), In Wales, a comparable folk myth is known as Cŵn Annwn (Welsh: “hounds of Annwn”).

In Scandinavia, the Wild Hunt is known as Oskoreia or Åsgårdsreia (originally oskurreia) (Norwegian: “noisy riders”, “The Ride of Asgard”), Odens jakt or Vilda jakten (Swedish: “the hunt of Odin” or “wild hunt”). Seeing the Wild Hunt was thought to presage some catastrophe such as war or plague, or at best the death of the one who witnessed it. People encountering the Hunt might also be abducted to the underworld or the fairy kingdom. In some instances, it was also believed that people’s spirits could be pulled away during their sleep to join the cavalcade.

The concept was developed based on comparative mythology by Jacob Grimm in Deutsche Mythologie (1835) as a folkloristic survival of Germanic pagan tradition, but comparable folk myths are found throughout Northern, Western and Central Europe. Grimm popularised the term Wilde Jagd (“Wild Hunt”) for the phenomenon.

Perkele

Perkele is an alternative name of Ukko, the chief god of the Finnish pagan pantheon. In modern Finnish, the interjection “perkele!” is a common profanity, approximately equivalent to “the Devil!” in meaning and “fuck!” in intensity.

It has a history of being used as a curse: a cry for the god for strength. It still is a common curse word in vernacular Finnish. To a Finn, the word entails seriousness and potency that more lightly used curses lack.

The name is of Indo-European origin. Related gods from other areas are Perkūnas (Lithuania), Pērkons (Latvia), Percunis (Prussia), Piarun (Belarus), Peko or Pekolasõ (Estonia) and Perun or Piorun (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia).

Perkūnas

Perkūnas (Lithuanian: Perkūnas, Latvian: Pērkons, Old Prussian: Perkūns, Finnish: Perkele, Yotvingian: Parkuns) was the common Baltic god of thunder, one of the most important deities in the Baltic pantheon. In both Lithuanian and Latvian mythology, he is documented as the god of thunder, rain, mountains, oak trees and the sky.

The name survives in Modern Baltic as Lithuanian perkūnas (“thunder”), perkūnija (“thunder-storm”), and the Latvian pērkons (“thunder”), “pērkona negaiss” (“thunderstorm” or “Pērkons’ storm”). Alternative names in Latvian are Pērkoniņš (diminutive), Pērkonītis (diminutive), Pērkona tēvs (direct translation would be Father of Thunder but it might be interpreted as God of Thunder instead), Vecais tēvs (Old father).

Perkūnas is the god of lightning and thunder and storms. In a triad of gods Perkūnas symbolizes the creative forces (including vegetative), courage, success, the top of the world, the sky, rain, thunder, heavenly fire (lightning) and celestial elements, while Patrimpas, is involved with the ground, crops, and cereals and Velnias/Patulas, with hell, and death.

As a heavenly (atmospheric) deity Perkūnas, apparently, is the assistant and executor of Dievas‘s will. However, Perkūnas tends to surpass Dievas, deus otiosus, because he can be actually seen and has defined mythological functions. Perkūnas is pictured as middle-aged, armed with an axe and arrows, riding a two-wheeled chariot harnessed with goats, like Thor.

Perkūnas is the god of lightning and thunder and storms. The name survives in Modern Baltic as Lithuanian perkūnas (“thunder”), perkūnija (“thunder-storm”), and the Latvian pērkons (“thunder”), “pērkona negaiss” (“thunderstorm” or “Pērkons’ storm”). In the Constitutiones Synodales (1530) Perkūnas is mentioned in a list of gods before the god of hell Pikuls and is identified with the Roman Jove (Jupiter).

In some myths Perkūnas expels his wife (and in some cases his children too) and remains in the sky by himself. Fjörgynn is described as the father of the goddess Frigg, wife of Odin, and Fjörgyn (Old Norse “earth”), mother of Thor, son of Odin.

Rudolf Simek states that Fjörgyn may simply be another name for Jörð, whose name also means “earth,” since she does not appear listed in the Prose Edda as a unique goddess, but that the fact that she does not appear elsewhere in Skaldic poetry “as would be expected of a purely literary alternative to Jörð” may be notable.

In Gylfaginning, the first part of the Prose Edda, Jörð is described as one of Odin’s sexual partners and the mother of Thor. Jörð is the common word for earth in Old Norse, as are the word’s descendants in the modern Scandinavian languages; Icelandic jörð, Faroese jørð, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian jord. It is cognate to English “earth” through Old English eorðe.

Theories have been proposed that Fjörgyn may represent an extension of an earlier Proto-Indo-European thunder or rain god or goddess due to Indo-European linguistic connections between Norse Fjörgyn, the Hindu rain god Parjanya, the Lithuanian god Perkūnas, and the Slavic god Perun.

In most myths, yet, Perkūnas’ wife is Žemyna (derived from žemė – earth), the goddess of the earth in Lithuanian mythology. She is usually regarded as mother goddess and one of the chief Lithuanian gods similar to Latvian Zemes māte.

Žemyna personifies the fertile earth and nourishes all life on earth, human, plant, and animal. All that is born of earth will return to earth, thus her cult is also related to death. As the cult diminished after baptism of Lithuania, Žemyna’s image and functions became influenced by the cult of Virgin Mary.

The goddess is said to be married to either Perkūnas (thunder god) or Praamžius (manifestation of chief heavenly god Dievas). Thus the couple formed the typical Indo-European pair of mother-earth and father-sky.

It was believed that the earth needs to be fertilized by the heavens (rain and thunder). Thus it was prohibited to plow or sow before the first thunder as the earth would be barren.

An important function of Perkūnas is to fight the devil (in Latvian, jods, Lithuanian velnias). It is placed as an opponent of Perkūnas. The image of velnias is affected by Christianity. It is the god of hell and death. Its other names in Lithuanian include Velnias, Velinas. Perkūnas pursues his opponent jods for picaroon or theft of fertility and cattle. The culmination of Perkūnas’ hunt for his opponent is a thunder-storm; it not only clears the ground of evil spirits, but returns the stolen cattle or weapons.

Dievas

Lithuanian Dievas, Latvian Dievs, Latgalian Dīvs, Prussian Deywis, Yotvingian Deivas was the supreme god in the Baltic mythology and one of the most important deities together with Perkūnas. Dievas is a direct successor of the Proto-Indo-European supreme god *Dyēus of the root *deiwo-. Its Proto-Baltic form was *Deivas.

In English, Dievas may be used as a word to describe the God (or, the supreme god) in the pre-Christian religion of Balts, where Dievas was understood to be the supreme being of the world. In Lithuanian and Latvian, it is also used to describe God as it is understood by major world religions today.

Earlier *Deivas simply denoted the shining sunlit dome of the sky, as in other Indo-European mythologies. The celestial aspect is still apparent in phrases such as Saule noiet dievā, from Latvian folksongs.In Hinduism any deity is known as Deva, a result of shared Proto-Indo-European roots.

Devi

Devī is the Sanskrit word for “goddess”; the masculine form is Deva. Devi – the feminine form, and Deva – the masculine form, mean “heavenly, divine, anything of excellence”, and are also gender specific terms for a deity in Hinduism.

According to Douglas Harper, the etymological root Dev- mean “a shining one,” from *div- “to shine,” and it is a cognate with Greek dios “divine” and Zeus, and Latin deus (Old Latin deivos).

The Vedas includes numerous goddesses including Ushas (dawn), Prithvi (earth), Aditi (cosmic moral order), Saraswati (river, knowledge), Vāc (sound), Nirṛti (destruction), Ratri (night), Aranyani (forest), and bounty goddesses such as Dinsana, Raka, Puramdhi, Parendi, Bharati, Mahi among others are mentioned in the Rigveda.

Potrimpo

Potrimpo (also Potrimpus, Autrimpo, Natrimpe) was a god of seas or grain in the pagan Prussian mythology. Simonas Daukantas described Potrimpo as god of spring, happiness, abundance, cattle and grain. Further researchers speculated that the name could be related to fertility ritual – stomping to scare away evil spirits and to wake the earth in spring.

Njörðr

In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

Peckols and Pocols

Peckols and Patollo (known under a multitude of different names) were gods in the pagan Prussian mythology worshiped by the Old Prussians. Most researches believe that despite varying names, Peckols and Patollo were the same god in charge of the underworld and the dead. It is usually described as an angry, evil spirit similar to Lithuanian velnias.

The Sudovian Book (1520s), mentioned two beings – Peckols, god of hell and darkness, and Pockols, airborne spirit or devil. The same pair is also found in the church decrees of 1530 (Constitutiones Synodales). There Pecols was identified with Roman god of the underworld Pluto and Pocols with deities of anger Furies.

Hannahannah (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”) is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the pre-Sumerian goddess Inanna. Hannahannah was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat. Christopher Siren reports that Hannahannah is associated with the Gulses.

In Greek mythology the Erinyes, also known as Furies, were female chthonic deities of vengeance; they were sometimes referred to as “infernal goddesses”. A formulaic oath in the Iliad invokes them as “those who beneath the earth punish whosoever has sworn a false oath”.

In Hurrian mythology, the Hutena are goddesses of fate. They are similar to the Norns of Norse mythology or the Moirai of ancient Greece. They are called the Gul Ses (Gul-Shesh; Gulshesh; Gul-ashshesh) in Hittite mythology. Recent research has discussed the relation between the myths associated with norns and valkyries and traveling Völvas (seiðr-workers).

In Norse mythology, a valkyrie (from Old Norse valkyrja “chooser of the slain”) is one of a host of female figures who choose those who may die in battle and those who may live. Selecting among half of those who die in battle (the other half go to the goddess Freyja’s afterlife field Fólkvangr), the valkyries bring their chosen to the afterlife hall of the slain, Valhalla, ruled over by the god Odin. There, the deceased warriors become einherjar (Old Norse “single [or once] fighters”).

In Norse mythology, Valhalla (from Old Norse Valhöll “hall of the slain”) is a majestic, enormous hall located in Asgard, ruled over by the god Odin. Chosen by Odin, half of those who die in combat travel to Valhalla upon death, led by valkyries, while the other half go to the goddess Freyja’s field Fólkvangr.

Vala-Panis

Vala (valá-), meaning “enclosure” in Vedic Sanskrit, is a demon of the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda, the brother of Vrtra. Historically, it has the same origin as the Vrtra myth, being derived from the same root, and from the same root also as Varuna, *val-/var- (PIE *wel-) “to cover, to enclose” (perhaps cognate to veil).

Parallel to Vrtra “the blocker”, a stone serpent slain by Indra to liberate the rivers, Vala is a stone cave, split by Indra (intoxicated and strengthened by Soma, identified with Brhaspati in 4.50 and 10.68 or Trita in 1.52, aided by the Angirasas in 2.11), to liberate the cows and Ushas, hidden there by the Panis, who appear in RV 10.108 as watchers over stolen cows.

The “rocky treasure-chest” of the Panis is identical to Vala, the stone split by Indra to liberate Dawn. The myth is a variant of that of Indra slaying Vrtra, imagined as a stone serpent, liberating the blocked rivers.

The word pani is also applied in the Rig Veda to human beings, even respected members of the community, who are unwilling to share their wealth. In one hymn Indra himself is addressed as “pani”.

Indra

Indra descends from an Indo-Iranian god known as *vrtra-g’han- (virtually PIE *wltro-gwhen-) “slayer of the blocker”. Triptolemos is analysed by Janda (1998) as a Greek continuation of a variant of the epithet, *trigw-t-welumos, a “terpsimbrotos” compound “cracker of the enclosure”, Greek (w)elumos referring to the casings of grain in Greek being descended from the same root *wel-.

On such grounds, a rock or mountain *welos or *welumos split by a heroic deity, liberating Dawn or the Sun is reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European mythology (the “Sun in the rock” myth, sometime also speculated to be connected with the making of fire from flintstone).

Shiva

Shiva (Sanskrit: Śiva, meaning “The Auspicious One”; Tamil: Śivan, meaning “The Red One”), also known as Mahadeva (“Great God”), is one of the three deities of Hinduism. Shiva is distinct from Vishnu and Brahman yet one with them. He is the supreme god within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism. He is one of the five primary forms of God in the Smarta Tradition, and “the Destroyer” or “the Transformer”.

At the highest level, Shiva is regarded as limitless, transcendent, unchanging and formless. Shiva also has many benevolent and fearsome forms. 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, and in fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also regarded as the patron god of yoga and arts.

The main iconographical attributes of Shiva are the third eye on his forehead, the snake Vasuki around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the trishula as his weapon and the damaru as his musical instrument. Shiva is usually worshiped in the aniconic form of Lingam.

Shiva’s rise to a major position in the pantheon was facilitated by his identification with a host of Vedic deities, including Purusha, Rudra, Agni, Indra, Prajāpati, Vāyu, and others.

The oldest surviving text of Hinduism is the Rig Veda, which is dated to between 1700 and 1100 BC based on linguistic and philological evidence. A god named Rudra is mentioned in the Rig Veda. The name Rudra is still used as a name for Shiva. In RV 2.33, he is described as the “Father of the Rudras”, a group of storm gods.

Furthermore, the Rudram, one of the most sacred hymns of Hinduism found both in the Rig and the Yajur Vedas and addressed to Rudra, invokes him as Shiva in several instances, but the term Shiva is used as an epithet for the gods Indra, Mitra and Agni many times.

According to Wendy Doniger, the Puranic Shiva is a continuation of the Vedic Indra. Doniger gives several reasons for her hypothesis. Both are associated with mountains, rivers, male fertility, fierceness, fearlessness, warfare, transgression of established mores, the Aum sound, the Supreme Self.

In the Rig Veda the term śiva is used to refer to Indra. Indra, like Shiva, is likened to a bull. In the Rig Veda, Rudra is the father of the Maruts, but he is never associated with their warlike exploits as is Indra.

The Vedic beliefs and practices of the pre-classical era were closely related to the hypothesised Proto-Indo-European religion, and the Indo-Iranian religion. Many of the qualities of Indo-Iranian god of might/victory, Verethraghna, were transferred to the adopted god Indra, who became the central deity of the developing Old Indic culture.

Verethragna

Verethragna (vərəθraγna) is an Avestan language neuter noun literally meaning “smiting of resistance”. Representing this concept is the divinity Verethragna, who is the hypostasis of “victory”, and “as a giver of victory Verethragna plainly enjoyed the greatest popularity of old”.

The neuter noun verethragna is related to Avestan verethra, ‘obstacle’ and verethragnan, ‘victorious’. In Zoroastrian Middle Persian, Verethragna became Warahran, from which Vahram, Vehram, Bahram, Behram and other variants derive. The once-followed theory that Verethragna had Indo-Iranian origins is no longer followed today.

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.

Nergal

Nergal was a deity worshipped throughout Mesopotamia. He is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta. Nergal evolved from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld.

Being a deity of the desert, god of fire, which is one of negative aspects of the sun, god of the underworld, and also being a god of one of the religions which rivaled Christianity and Judaism, Nergal was sometimes called a demon and even identified with Satan.

According to Collin de Plancy and Johann Weyer, Nergal was depicted as the chief of Hell’s “secret police”, and worked as “an honorary spy in the service of Beelzebub”.

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.

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

Nergal was also the deity who presides over the netherworld, and who stands at the head of the special pantheon assigned to the government of the dead (supposed to be gathered in a large subterranean cave known as Aralu or Irkalla). 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.

Odin

Tacitus also named the German “Mars” as the primary deity, along with the German “Mercury” (believed to be Odin), Hercules (believed to be Thor) and “Isis”. In the text however, Hercules is the one to be mentioned the most often.

Depending on translation, “Mercury” is stated to be the chiefly worshipped god but other translation does not provide any sort of hierchy among the gods. Tacitus states that “Mars” and “Hercules” receive animal sacrifices while “Mercury” receives human sacrifices.

The weekday name Wednesday derives from Old English. Cognate terms are found in other Germanic languages, such as Old High German wōdnesdæg, Middle Low German wōdensdach (Dutch Woensdag), and Old Norse Óðinsdagr (Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Onsdag).

All of these terms derive from Proto-Germanic *Wodensdag, itself a Germanic interpretation of Latin Dies Mercurii (“Day of Mercury”). However, in Old High German, the name derived from Odin’s was replaced by a translation of Church Latin media hebdomas (‘middle of the week’) hence modern German Mittwoch.

Ziza

The Excerptum ex Gallica Historia of Ursberg (ca. 1135) records a dea Ciza as the patron goddess of Augsburg. According to this account, Cisaria was founded by Swabian tribes as a defence against Roman incursions. This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus.

Grimm proposes a connection between Zisa and to the “Isis” of the Suebi attested by Tacitus in his 1st century CE work Germania based on the similarity of their names, if not their functions. Grimm also references a record of a pagan Duke of Swabia, Suevi in the area of Augsburg, Germany. Duke Esenerius established a chapel in his castle in Kempten (then known as Hillomondt) with a venerated image of Zisa.

There is sketchy evidence of a consort, in German named Zisa: Tacitus mentions one Germanic tribe who worshipped “Isis”, and Jacob Grimm pointed to Cisa/Zisa, the patroness of Augsburg, in this connection. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically.

Hel

In the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, Hel is described as having been appointed by the god Odin as ruler of a realm of the same name, located in Niflheim.

Scholarly theories have been proposed about Hel’s potential connections to figures appearing in the 11th century Old English Gospel of Nicodemus and Old Norse Bartholomeus saga postola, that she may have been considered a goddess with potential Indo-European parallels in Bhavani, Kali, and Mahakali or that Hel may have become a being only as a late personification of the location of the same name.

Kali

Kālī, also known as Kālikā, is the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment, or shakti. She is the mighty aspect of the goddess Durga. The name of Kali means black one and force of time, she is therefore called the Goddess of Time, Change, Power, Creation, Preservation, and Destruction.

Her earliest appearance is that of a destroyer principally of evil forces. Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shākta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman; and recent devotional movements re-imagine Kāli as a benevolent mother goddess. She is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her.

Ereshkigal

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (EREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld. 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”.

Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. In some versions of the myths, she rules the underworld by herself, sometimes with a husband subordinate to her named Gugalana. It was said that she had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly.

Gugalanna (Sumerian: GU.GAL.AN.NA, “the Great Bull of Heaven”), better known as the Bull of Heaven (Sumerian: GU.AN.NA), was a Sumerian deity as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

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.

She lived in Dilmun with her family. Impregnated by her husband Enlil, who lie with her by the water, she conceived a boy, Nanna/Suen, the future moon god. As punishment Enlil was dispatched to the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, where Ninlil joined him.

Befana

Berchtoldstag

Krampus

Oliebol

Pre-Christian Alpine traditions

Swabian-Alemannic-Fastnacht

Weisse Frauen

Wild Hunt

Joulupukkinuuttipukki

Yule Goat

Perchta

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Pandora and the birth of civilization

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 4, 2015

Greek Myths and Mesopotamia

From Eve to Pandora: How fear of women haunts our earliest myths

In Greek mythology, Pandora (derived from pān, i.e. “all” and dōron, i.e. “gift”, thus “the all-endowed”, “the all-gifted” or “the all-giving”) was the first human woman created by the gods, specifically by Hephaestus and Athena on the instructions of Zeus. As Hesiod related it, each god helped create her by giving her unique gifts.

Zeus ordered Hephaestus, the Greek god of blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes, to mold her out of earth as part of the punishment of humanity for Prometheus’ theft of the secret of fire, and all the gods joined in offering her “seductive gifts”.

In Greek mythology, Hephaestus was the son of Zeus and Hera, the king and queen of the gods. In another version, he was Hera’s parthenogenous child, rejected by his mother because of his deformity and thrown out of heaven and down to earth. His Roman equivalent is Vulcan.

Aside from being the sculptor of man and the giver of fire, Prometheus is also said to have fathered the Greek Noah, Deucalion, who in turn married Pyrrha, the daughter of Epithemeus and Pandora, namesake to Thessaly, and the first mortal who was born.

In some versions of the story, Pyrrha would have a daughter who was also called Pandora, and she would become mother of Graecus, father of the Greeks, and Latinus, father of the Latins.

Her other name is Anesidora, “she who sends up gifts” (up implying “from below” within the earth). More commonly, however, the epithet anesidora is applied to Gaea or Demeter.

The figures of Eve in the Book of Genesis and Pandora in the Works and Days have some striking similarities. Each is the first woman in the world; and each is a central character in a story of transition from an original state of plenty and ease to one of suffering and death, a transition which is brought about in revenge for a transgression of divine law.

Both Eve and Pandora were given only one “divine prohibition” in their otherwise idyllic lives, and both found themselves irresistibly drawn to “violate” their one prohibition, thus risking/ inviting dire and profound consequences for all.

There are also major differences. Eve was created to help Adam, Pandora to bring punishment to the men who benefited from the crime (Prometheus having been punished separately).

According to the myth, Pandora opened a jar (pithos), in modern accounts sometimes mistranslated as “Pandora’s box”, releasing all the evils of humanity – although the particular evils, aside from plagues and diseases, are not specified in detail by Hesiod – leaving only Hope inside once she had closed it again.

Epimetheus, alarmed by his brother’s fate, hastened to marry Pandora, whom Zeus had made as foolish, mischievous, and idle as she was beautiful – the first of a long line of such women.

Presently she opened a jar, which Prometheus had warned Epimetheus to keep closed, and in which he had been at pains to imprison all the spites that might plague mankind: such as old age, labour, sickness, insanity, vice, and passion.

Out these flew in a cloud, stung Epimetheus and Pandora in every part of their bodies, and then attacked the race of mortals. Delusive hope, however, whom Prometheus had also shut in the jar, discouraged them by her lies from a general suicide.

In Sumerian mythology, a me or ñe, also known as parşu, is one of the decrees of the gods foundational to those social institutions, religious practices, technologies, behaviors, mores, and human conditions that make civilization, as the Sumerians understood it, possible. They are fundamental to the Sumerian understanding of the relationship between humanity and the gods.

Each me represented some kind of cultural art, but also included many different abstract concepts, including: heroism, power, righteousness and wickedness, forthright and deceitful speech, rejoicing and lamenting, priestly and kingly offices, shrines and taverns, various jobs, rituals, inventions like the sword and the club, the plundering of cities, arts of love-making, cultic and non-cultic prostitution, music, and most notably, the kindling of fire.

Not all the mes are admirable or desirable traits. Alongside functions like “heroship” and “victory” we also find “the destruction of cities”, “falsehood”, and “enmity”. The Sumerians apparently considered such evils and sins an inevitable part of humanity’s lot in life, divinely and inscrutably decreed, and not to be questioned.

The mes were originally collected by Enlil and then handed over to the guardianship of Enki who was to broker them out to the various Sumerian centers beginning with his own city of Eridu and continuing with Ur, Meluhha, and Dilmun.

This is described in the poem, “Enki and the World Order” which also details how he parcels out responsibility for various crafts and natural phenomena to the lesser gods.

Here the mes of various places are extolled but are not themselves clearly specified, and they seem to be distinct from the individual responsibilities of each divinity as they are mentioned in conjunction with specific places rather than gods.

After a considerable amount of self-glorification on the part of Enki, his daughter Inanna comes before him with a complaint that she has been given short shrift on her divine spheres of influence. Enki does his best to placate her by pointing out those she does in fact possess.

There is no direct connection implied in the mythological cycle between this poem and that which is our main source of information on the mes, “Inanna and Enki: The Transfer of the Arts of Civilization from Eridu to Uruk”, but once again Inanna’s discontent is a theme.

She is the tutelary deity of Uruk and desires to increase its influence and glory by bringing the mes to it from Eridu. She travels to Enki’s Eridu shrine, the E-abzu, in her “boat of heaven”, and asks the mes from him after he is drunk, whereupon he complies.

After she departs with them, he comes to his senses and notices they are missing from their usual place, and on being informed what he did with them attempts to retrieve them. The attempt fails and Inanna triumphantly delivers them to Uruk.

In the Sumerian story of Inanna and Enki: The Transfer of the Arts of Civilization from Eridu to Erech, Inanna goes to Enki’s temple in the Abyss, where she gets him drunk and seduces him into giving her the secret arts called me’s.

Inanna loaded these me’s into her Boat of Heaven and takes them to Uruk despite Enki sending 50 giants out to stop her. Like Prometheus, Enki is said to have been reluctant in allowing Pandora’s box to be opened. Although Enki is at first angry when Uruk receives the magical arts and begins to practice them, he eventually relents and decides to declare a festival in Uruk.

The Book of Enoch and other Dead Sea Scrolls give a very similar interpretation as well, identifying weapons, cosmetics, jewelry, and other tools of burgeoning civilization as being the cause for the primal Fall of Man.

The story of Inanna’s descent to the underworld is a relatively well-attested and reconstructed composition.The attested laws of the underworld dictate that, with the exception of appointed messengers, those who enter it could never leave.

Inanna dresses elaborately for the visit, with a turban, a wig, a lapis lazuli necklace, beads upon her breast, the ‘pala dress’ (the ladyship garment), mascara, pectoral, a golden ring on her hand, and she held a lapis lazuli measuring rod. These garments are each representations of powerful mes she possesses. Perhaps Inanna’s garments, unsuitable for a funeral, along with Inanna’s haughty behavior, make Ereshkigal suspicious.

Following Ereshkigal’s instructions, the gatekeeper tells Inanna she may enter the first gate of the underworld, but she must hand over her lapis lazuli measuring rod. She asks why, and is told ‘It is just the ways of the Underworld’. She obliges and passes through. Inanna passes through a total of seven gates, at each one removing a piece of clothing or jewelry she had been wearing at the start of her journey, thus stripping her of her power.

Ereshkigal, too, is bound by the laws of the underworld; she can not leave her kingdom of the underworld to join the other ‘living’ deities, and they can not visit her in the underworld, or else they can never return. Inanna symbolized erotic love and fertility, and contrasts with Ereshkigal.

Demons of Ereshkigal’s followed (or accompanied) Inanna out of the underworld, and insisted that she wasn’t free to go until someone took her place. They first came upon Ninshubur and attempted to take her. Inanna refused, as Ninshubur was her loyal servant, who had rightly mourned her while she was in the underworld. They next came upon Cara, Inanna’s beautician, still in mourning. The demons said they would take him, but Inanna refused, as he too had mourned her. They next came upon Lulal, also in mourning. The demons offered to take him, but Inanna refused.

They next came upon Dumuzi, Inanna’s husband. Despite Inanna’s fate, and in contrast to the other individuals who were properly mourning Inanna, Dumuzi was lavishly clothed and resting beneath a tree. Inanna, displeased, decrees that the demons shall take him, using language which echoes the speech Ereshkigal gave while condemning her. Dumuzi is then taken to the underworld.

Ekur is a Sumerian term meaning “mountain house”. It is the assembly of the gods in the Garden of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus and was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer.

In the Hymn to Enlil, the Ekur is closely linked to Enlil whilst in Enlil and Ninlil it is the abode of the Annuaki, from where Enlil is banished. The fall of Ekur is described in the Lament for Ur.

The Anunnaki (also transcribed as: Anunaki, Anunna, Anunnaku, Ananaki and other variations) are a group of deities in ancient Mesopotamian cultures (i.e., Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian).

The name is variously written “da-nuna”, “da-nuna-ke-ne”, or “da-nun-na”, meaning “princely offspring” or “offspring of Anu”. According to The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, the Anunnaki: “…are the Sumerian deities of the old primordial line; they are chthonic deities of fertility, associated eventually with the underworld, where they became judges. They take their name from the old sky god An (Anu).”

The Sumerian en is translated as a title equivalent to “lord”. Ensí (spelled PA.TE.SI in Sumerian cuneiform, hence occasionally transliterated as patesi; possibly derived from <en si-k>, “lord of the plowland”; borrowed into Akkadian as iššakkum) is a Sumerian title designating the ruler or prince of a city state.

In ancient Greek religion, Ananke, also spelled Anangke, Anance, or Anagke (from the common noun for “force, constraint, necessity”), was the personification of inevitability, compulsion and necessity, depicted as holding a spindle. In the philosophical sense it means “necessity”, “logical necessity” or “laws of nature”.

One of the Protogenoi, Ananke marks the beginning of the cosmos, along with her father and consort, Chronos (Chronos protogenos — not the titan Cronus). She was seen as the most powerful dictator of all fate and circumstance which meant that mortals, as well as the Gods, respected her and paid homage. Considered as the mother of the Fates according to one version, she is the only one to have control over their decisions (except, according to some sources, also Zeus).

According to the ancient Greek traveller Pausanias, there was a temple in ancient Corinth where the goddesses Ananke and Bia (meaning violence or violent haste) were worshipped together in the same shrine. Her Roman counterpart was Necessitas (“necessity”).

Uttu (weaver or spider, the weaver of the web of life) in Sumerian mythology is the goddess of weaving and clothing. She is both the child of Enki and Ninkur, and she bears seven new child/trees from Enki, the eighth being the Ti (Tree of “Life”, associated with the “Rib”). When Enki then ate Uttu’s children, Ninhursag cursed him with eight wounds and disappears. Uttu in Sumerian means “the woven” and she was illustrated as a spider in a web.

In Hurrian mythology, the Hutena are goddesses of fate. They are similar to the Norns of Norse mythology or the Moirai of ancient Greece. They are called the Gul Ses (Gul-Shesh; Gulshesh; Gul-ashshesh) in Hittite mythology.

Hannahannah (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”) is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the pre-Sumerian goddess Inanna. She was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat. Christopher Siren reports that she is associated with the Gulses.

The mother goddess Hannahannah promises Inara land and a man during a consultation by Inara. Inara then disappears. Her father looks for her, joined by Hannahannah with a bee. The story resembles that of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, in Greek myth.

Inara’s mother is probably Hebat, also transcribed, Kheba or Khepat, the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”. She is also a Queen of the deities. During Aramaean times Hebat also appears to have become identified with the goddess Hawwah, or Eve.

Ninti, the title of Ninhursag, also means “the mother of all living”, and was a title given to the later Hurrian goddess Kheba. This is also the title given in the Bible to Eve, the Hebrew and Aramaic Ḥawwah (חוה), 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.

In mythology, the Ekur was the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united. It is also known as Duranki and one of its structures is known as the Kiur (“great place”).

The Ekur was seen as a place of judgement and the place from which Enlil’s divine laws are issued. The ethics and moral values of the site are extolled in myths, which Samuel Noah Kramer suggested would have made it the most ethically-oriented in the entire ancient Near East.

Peter Jensen also associated the Ekur with the underworld in “Die Kosmologie der Babylonier”, where he translated it as a settlement of demons. The location also appears in Ludlul bēl nēmeqi and other myths as a home of demons who go out into the land.

It is noted by Wayne Horowitz that in none of the bilingual texts do the demons appear to be “going upwards” but “outwards”, contrary to what would be expected if Ekur referred to later concepts such as Sheol, Hades and Hell, which were believed to be located under the surface of the earth.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Kur (Sumerian) or Ersetu (Akkadian) is the underworld from which there is no return. It was also called earth of no return, Kurnugia in Sumerian and Erset la tari in Akkadian. Kur is ruled by the goddess Ereshkigal and her consort, the death god Nergal.

Irkalla was originally another name for Ereshkigal, who ruled the underworld alone until Nergal was sent to the underworld and seduced Ereshkigal (in Babylonian mythology). Both the deity and the location were called Irkalla, much like how Hades in Greek mythology is both the name of the underworld and the god who ruled it.

The Sumerian netherworld was a place for the bodies of the dead to exist after death. One passed through the seven gates on their journey through the portal to the netherworld leaving articles of clothing and adornment at each gate, not necessarily by choice as there was a guardian at each gate to extract a toll for one’s passage and to keep one from going the wrong way.

Morris Jastrow discussed the place of the Ekur in Sumerian cosmology, “Another name which specifies the relationship of Aralu to the world is Ekur or ‘mountain house’ of the dead. Ekur is one of the names for the earth, but is applied more particularly to that part of the mountain, also known as E-khar-sag-kurkura (É.ḪAR.SAG.KUR.KUR-‘a’ “house of the mountain of all lands”) where the gods were born.

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

Before the later speculative view was developed, according to which the gods, or most of them, have their seats in heaven, it was on this mountain also that the gods were supposed to dwell. Hence Ekur became also one of the names for temple, as the seat of a god.”

Hursag (transcribed cuneiform: ḫur.saḡ(HUR.SAG)) 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”.

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”. In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag was a mother goddess of the mountains.

According to legend her name was changed from Ninmah to Ninhursag by her son Ninurta in order to commemorate his creation of the mountains. As Ninmenna, according to a Babylonian investiture ritual, she placed the golden crown on the king in the Eanna temple. Inanna’s primary temple of worship was the Eanna, located in Uruk (c.f. Worship).

Ishara (išḫara) is an ancient deity of unknown origin from northern modern Syria. She first appeared in Ebla and was incorporated to the Hurrian pantheon from which she found her way to the Hittite pantheon. In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar. Her main epithet was belet rame, lady of love, which was also applied to Ishtar.

Ishtar is the East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and the cognate for the Northwest Semitic Aramean goddess Astarte.

Ishara is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath. 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”.

Her astrological embodiment is the constellation Scorpio and she is called the mother of the Sebitti (the Seven Stars), a group of seven minor war gods in Babylonian and Akkadian tradition. They are the children of the god Anu and follow the god Erra into battle. They are, in differing traditions, of good and evil influence.

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.

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

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

Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *h₂ewsṓs, a number of epithets of the dawn goddess may be reconstructed with some certainty. Among these is *wenos- (also an s-stem), whence Sanskrit vanas “loveliness; desire”, used of Uṣas in the Rigveda, and the Latin name Venus and the Norse Vanir. The name indicates that the goddess was imagined as a beautiful nubile woman, who also had aspects of a love goddess.

Other epithets include Erigone “early-born” in Greek. In Greek mythology, Erigone was the daughter of Icarius of Athens. Icarius was cordial towards Dionysus, who gave his shepherds wine. They became intoxicated and killed Icarius, thinking he had poisoned them. His daughter, Erigone, and her dog, Maera, found his body. Erigone hanged herself over her father’s grave.

Dionysus was angry and punished Athens by making all of the city’s maidens commit suicide in the same way. Dionysus placed Erigone in the sky as the constellations Virgo, Icarius as the constellation Boötes, and Maera as the star Procyon, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Minor.

The abduction and imprisonment of the dawn goddess, and her liberation by a heroic god slaying the dragon who imprisons her, is a central myth of Indo-European religion, reflected in numerous traditions.

The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European new year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus).

The more famous version of the Pandora myth comes from another of Hesiod’s poems, Works and Days. In this version of the myth, Hesiod expands upon her origin, and moreover widens the scope of the misery she inflicts on humanity.

As before, she is created by Hephaestus, but now more gods contribute to her completion: Athena taught her needlework and weaving; Aphrodite “shed grace upon her head and cruel longing and cares that weary the limbs”; Hermes gave her “a shameful mind and deceitful nature”; Hermes also gave her the power of speech, putting in her “lies and crafty words”; Athena then clothed her; next she, Persuasion and the Charites adorned her with necklaces and other finery; the Horae adorned her with a garland crown. Finally, Hermes gives this woman a name: Pandora – “All-gifted” – “because all the Olympians gave her a gift”.

In this retelling of her story, Pandora’s deceitful feminine nature becomes the least of humanity’s worries. For she brings with her a jar (which, due to textual corruption in the sixteenth century, came to be called a box) containing “burdensome toil and sickness that brings death to men”, diseases and “a myriad other pains”.

Prometheus had (fearing further reprisals) warned his brother Epimetheus not to accept any gifts from Zeus. But Epimetheus did not listen; he accepted Pandora, who promptly scattered the contents of her jar. As a result, Hesiod tells us, “the earth and sea are full of evils”.

One item, however, did not escape the jar: Only Hope was left within her unbreakable house, she remained under the lip of the jar, and did not fly away. Before [she could], Pandora replaced the lid of the jar. This was the will of aegis-bearing Zeus the Cloudgatherer. Hesiod does not say why hope (elpis) remained in the jar. He closes with this moral: “Thus it is not possible to escape the mind of Zeus.”

Hesiod also outlines how the end of man’s Golden Age, (an all-male society of immortals who were reverent to the gods, worked hard, and ate from abundant groves of fruit) was brought on by Prometheus, when he stole Fire from Mt. Olympus and gave it to mortal man, Zeus punished the technologically advanced society by creating woman.

Thus, Pandora was created as the first woman and given the jar (mistranslated as ‘box’) which releases all evils upon man. The opening of the jar serves as the beginning of the Silver Age, in which man is now subject to death, and with the introduction of woman to birth as well, giving rise to the cycle of death and rebirth. The civilization has begun.

Shamhat (or Šamhat, also called Shamkat in the old Babylonian version of Gilgamesh”) is a female character who appears in Tablets I and II of the Epic of Gilgamesh and is mentioned in Tablet VII. She is a sacred prostitute who plays a significant role in bringing the wild man Enkidu into contact with civilization.

Sacred prostitution, temple prostitution, or religious prostitution is a sexual ritual consisting of sexual intercourse or other sexual activity performed in the context of religious worship, perhaps as a form of fertility rite and divine marriage (hieros gamos).

Shamhat plays the integral role in Tablet I, of taming the wild man Enkidu, who was created by the gods as the rival to the mighty Gilgamesh. Shamhat is a sacred temple prostitute or harimtu. She uses her attractiveness to tempt Enkidu from the wild, and his ‘wildness’, civilizing him through continued sexual intercourse.

Unfortunately for Enkidu, after he enjoys Shamhat for “seven days and seven nights”, his former companions, the wild animals, turn away from him in fright, at the watering hole where they congregated.

Shamhat persuades him to follow her and join the civilized world in the city of Uruk, where Gilgamesh is king, rejecting his former life in the wild with the wild animals of the hills. Henceforth, Gilgamesh and Enkidu become the best of friends and undergo many adventures (starting with the Cedar Forest and the encounter with Humbaba.)

When Enkidu is dying he expresses his anger at Shamhat for making him civilized, blaming her for bringing him to the new world of experiences that has led to his death. He curses her to become an outcast. The god Shamash reminds Enkidu that Shamhat fed and clothed him. Enkidu relents and blesses her saying that all men will desire her and offer her gifts of jewels.

Shamat’s name means literally “the luscious one”. Her role in bringing Enkidu from nature to civilization through sex has been widely discussed. Rivkah Harris argues that “the intermediate role of the prostitute in transforming Enkidu from one at home with nature and wild animals into a human being is crucial”.

According to classicist Paul Friedrich, Shamhat’s sexual skills establish “the connection between artful, or sophisticated sensuousness and civilization”. Her sexual arts lead Enkidu to understand how basic animal urges can be transformed into something sophisticated, or “civilized”.

Mesopotamians believed that prostitution was one of the basic features of civilization: “a prime representative of urban life”. Shamhat then becomes Enkidu’s urbane “mother”, teaching him the basics of civilized life, eating, drinking wine, and dressing himself.

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Winter Triangle

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 4, 2015

The Winter Hexagon or Winter Circle/Oval is an asterism appearing to be in the form of a hexagon with vertices at Rigel, Aldebaran, Capella, Pollux, Procyon, and Sirius. It is mostly upon the Northern Hemisphere’s celestial sphere. The stars in the hexagon are parts of six constellations. Counter-clockwise around the hexagon, starting with Rigel, these are Orion, Taurus, Auriga, Gemini, Canis Minor, and Canis Major.

On most locations on Earth (except from the South Island of New Zealand and the south of Chile and Argentina and further south), this asterism is prominently in the sky from approximately December to March. In the tropics and southern hemisphere, this (then called “summer hexagon”) can be extended with the bright star Canopus in the south.

Smaller and more regularly shaped is the Winter Triangle (also known as the Great Southern Triangle), an approximately equilateral triangle that shares two vertices (Sirius and Procyon) with the larger asterism. The third vertex is Betelgeuse, which lies near the center of the hexagon. It includes three of the most brilliant stars in the sky, and it is called an “asterism” because it is not a single constellation, but a combination of stars from three different constellations.

These three stars are three of the ten brightest objects, as viewed from Earth, outside the Solar System. Betelgeuse is also particularly easy to locate, being a shoulder of Orion, which assists stargazers in finding the triangle. Once the triangle is located, the larger hexagon may then be found. Several of the stars in the hexagon may also be found independently of one another by following various lines traced through various stars in Orion.

The first and brightest star is Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. Sirius is close to the Solar Systems (8 light years) and has a slight blue coloration. Sirius is in the constellation Canis Major, the big dog that accompanies Orion. To the upper right is Betelgeuse, a red supergiant star in Orion that is a distinctive orange color. Betelgeuse is so big that if it was our Sun, it would envelop Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars! And the third star of the triangle is Procyon, in the constellation Canis Minor, the small dog that accompanies Orion. Procyon is actually a double-star system with a faint partner star.

Procyon (α CMi, α Canis Minoris, Alpha Canis Minoris) is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Minor. Its name is Latin for “lesser dog”, in contrast to Canis Major, the “greater dog”; both figures are commonly represented as following the constellation of Orion the hunter.

Its name comes from the ancient Greek Prokyon, meaning “before the dog”, since it precedes the “Dog Star” Sirius as it travels across the sky due to Earth’s rotation. (Although Procyon has a greater right ascension, it also has a more northerly declination, which means it will rise above the horizon earlier than Sirius from most northerly latitudes.) In Greek mythology, Procyon is associated with Maera, a hound belonging to Erigone, daughter of Icarius of Athens.

These two dog stars are referred to in the most ancient literature and were venerated by the Babylonians and the Egyptians. In Babylonian mythology, Procyon was known as Nangar the Carpenter, an aspect of Marduk, involved in constructing and organising the celestial sky.

Sirius is the brightest star (in fact, a star system) in the Earth’s night sky. The name “Sirius” is derived from the Ancient Greek Seirios, meaning “glowing” or “scorcher”. Sirius is also known colloquially as the “Dog Star”, reflecting its prominence in its constellation, Canis Major (Greater Dog).

The heliacal rising of Sirius marked the flooding of the Nile in Ancient Egypt and the “dog days” of summer for the ancient Greeks, while to the Polynesians in the Southern Hemisphere the star marked winter and was an important reference for their navigation around the Pacific Ocean.

Betelgeuse, also known by its Bayer designation Alpha Orionis (shortened to α Orionis or α Ori), is the ninth-brightest star in the night sky and second-brightest in the constellation of Orion. The star’s name is derived from the Arabic Ibt al-Jauzā’, meaning “the hand of Orion”. The Arabic letter for Y (which has two dots) was misread as B (with one dot) by medieval translators, creating the initial B in Betelgeuse. Betelgeuse is one of three stars that make up the Winter Triangle, and it marks the center of the Winter Hexagon.

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