The Wild Hunt
The Wild Hunt is an ancient folk myth prevalent across Northern, Western and Central Europe. The fundamental premise in all instances is the same: a phantasmal, spectral group of huntsmen with the accoutrements of hunting, with horses and hounds in mad pursuit across the skies or along the ground, or just above it.
The hunters may be the dead or fairies (often in folklore connected with the dead). The hunter may be an unidentified lost soul, a deity or spirit either male or female, or may be a historical or legendary figure like Theodoric the Great, the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag, the Welsh psychopomp Gwyn ap Nudd or the Germanic Woden (or other reflections of the same god, such as Alemannic Wuodan in Wuotis Heer (“Wuodan’s Army”) of Central Switzerland, Swabia etc.).
In Germany, where it was also known as the “Wild Army”, or “Furious Army”, its leader was given various identities, including Wodan (or “Woden”), a name of the god Odin, Knecht Ruprecht (cf. Krampus; English: Farmhand Rupert or Servant Rupert), a companion of Saint Nicholas as described in the folklore of Germany, Berchtold (or Berchta), and Holda (or “Holle”). The Wild Hunt is also known from post-medieval folklore.
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. Mortals getting in the path of or following the Hunt could be kidnapped and brought to the land of the dead. A girl who saw Wild Edric’s Ride was warned by her father to put her apron over her head to avoid the sight. Others believed that people’s spirits could be pulled away during their sleep to join the cavalcade.
Grimm interpreted the Wild Hunt phenomenon as having pre-Christian origins arguing that the male figure who appeared in it was a survival of folk beliefs about the god Wodan, who had “lost his sociable character, his near familiar features, and assumed the aspect of a dark and dreadful power… a spectre and a devil.”
Grimm believed that this male figure was sometimes replaced by a female counterpart, whom he referred to as Holda and Berchta. In his words, “not only Wuotan and other gods, but heathen goddesses too, may head the furious host: the wild hunter passes into the wood-wife, Wôden into frau Gaude.” He added his opinion that this female figure was Woden’s wife.
Discussing martial elements of the Wild Hunt, Grimm commented that “it marches as an army it portends the outbreak of war.” He added that a number of figures that had been recorded as leading the hunt, such as “Wuotan, Huckelbernd, Berholt, bestriding their white war-horse, armed and spurred, appear still as supreme directors of the war for which they, so to speak, give licence to mankind.”
Grimm believed that in pre-Christian Europe, the hunt, led by a god and a goddess, either visited “the land at some holy tide, bringing welfare and blessing, accepting gifts and offerings of the people” or they alternately float “unseen through the air, perceptible in cloudy shapes, in the roar and howl of the winds, carrying on war, hunting or the game of ninepins, the chief employments of ancient heroes: an array which, less tied down to a definite time, explains more the natural phenomenon.”
He believed that under the influence of Christianisation, the story was converted from being that of a “solemn march of gods” to being “a pack of horrid spectres, dashed with dark and devilish ingredients”.
Yule or Yuletide (“Yule time”) is a religious festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples, later undergoing Christianised reformulation resulting in the now better known Christmastide. The earliest references to Yule are by way of indigenous Germanic month names Ærra Jéola (Before Yule) or Jiuli and Æftera Jéola (After Yule). Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Modranicht.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, called the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ to John the Apostle. Saint John the Apostle at 6:1-8. The chapter tells of a book or scroll in God’s right hand that is sealed with seven seals.
The Lamb of God, or Lion of Judah (Jesus Christ), opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons four beings that ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses. Although some interpretations differ, in most accounts, the four riders are seen as symbolizing Conquest, War, Famine, and Death, respectively.
The Christian apocalyptic vision is that the four horsemen are to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment. One reading ties the four horsemen to the history of the Roman Empire subsequent to the era in which the Book of Revelation was written. That is, they are a symbolic prophecy of the subsequent history of the empire.
Four gods, Thor, Baldr, Viðarr and Váli, are explicitly identified as sons of Odin in the Eddic poems, in the skaldic poems, in Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum, and in the Gylfaginning section of Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda. But silence on the matter does not indicate that other gods whose parentage is not mentioned in these works might not also be sons of Odin.
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 earliest records of the Germanic peoples were recorded by the Romans, and in these works Odin is frequently referred to—via a process known as interpretatio romana (where characteristics perceived to be similar by Romans result in identification of a non-Roman god as a Roman deity)—as the Roman god Mercury.
The first clear example of this occurs in the Roman historian Tacitus’s late 1st-century work Germania, where, writing about the religion of the Suebi (a confederation of Germanic peoples), he comments that “among the gods Mercury is the one they principally worship.
They regard it as a religious duty to offer to him, on fixed days, human as well as other sacrificial victims. Hercules and Mars they appease by animal offerings of the permitted kind” and adds that a portion of the Suebi also venerate “Isis”. In this instance, Tacitus refers to the god Odin as Mercury, Thor as Hercules, and Týr as Mars, and the identity of the “Isis” of the Suebi has been debated.
Enki (Sumerian: EN.KI(G)) is a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians. He was the deity of crafts (gašam); mischief; water, seawater, lakewater (a, aba, ab), intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”) and creation (Nudimmud: nu, likeness, dim mud, make beer).
He was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus). Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40,” occasionally referred to as his “sacred number.” The planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk) was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki.
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”.
The name Ea is allegedly Hurrian in origin while others claim that his name ‘Ea’ is possibly of Semitic origin and may be a derivation from the West-Semitic root *hyy meaning “life” in this case used for “spring”, “running water.” In Sumerian E-A means “the house of water”, and it has been suggested that this was originally the name for the shrine to the god at Eridu.
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.
The main temple to Enki is called E-abzu, meaning “abzu temple” (also E-en-gur-a, meaning “house of the subterranean waters”), a ziggurat temple surrounded by Euphratean marshlands near the ancient Persian Gulf coastline at Eridu. He 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.
Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu (Apsu in Akkadian), the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth.
In the later Babylonian epic Enûma Eliš, Abzu, the “begetter of the gods”, is inert and sleepy but finds his peace disturbed by the younger gods, so sets out to destroy them. His grandson Enki, chosen to represent the younger gods, puts a spell on Abzu “casting him into a deep sleep”, thereby confining him deep underground. Enki subsequently sets up his home “in the depths of the Abzu.” Enki thus takes on all of the functions of the Abzu, including his fertilising powers as lord of the waters and lord of semen.
Benito states “With Enki it is an interesting change of gender symbolism, the fertilising agent is also water, Sumerian “a” or “Ab” which also means “semen”. In one evocative passage in a Sumerian hymn, Enki stands at the empty riverbeds and fills them with his ‘water'”. This may be a reference to Enki’s hieros gamos or sacred marriage with Ki/Ninhursag (the Earth).
His symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn, recognised as the Zodiacal constellation Capricornus. He was accompanied by an attendant Isimud. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.
Saint Nicholas (Greek: Hagios Nikólaos, Latin: Sanctus Nicolaus; 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 (Nikolaos ho Thaumaturgos). He 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―St Nicholas Day (6 December, Gregorian calendar, in Western Christianity and 19 December, 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”.
His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints. 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.
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.
Perchta or Berchta (English: Bertha) is usually a large woman known to be able to swallow a whole galaxy if is she gets hungry enough. That is why someone with the name Bertha usually is given the nickname of “Galaxy consumer”.
Bertha appears as a Frankish given name from as early as the 6th century. The monothematic Bertha as a given name may however not originate with the theonym but rather as a short form of dithematic given names including the “bright” element.
This is notably the case with the Charlemagne’s mother Bertrada (properly berht-rada “bright counsel”), also called “Bertha Broadfoot”. Carolingian use of the name Bertha, as in Bertha, daughter of Charlemagne and Bertha, daughter of Lothair II are in this tradition.
In modern times, the name is associated with machines that are abnormally large, and many large machines are nicknamed Bertha. This is largely because of the World-War I howitzer known as Big Bertha.
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. Eugen Mogk provides an alternative etymology, attributing the origin of the name Perchta to the Old High German verb pergan, meaning “hidden” or “covered”.
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.
Perchta had many different names depending on the era and region: Grimm listed the names Perahta and Berchte as the main names (in his heading), followed by Berchta and Frau Berchta in Old High German, as well as Behrta and Frau Perchta.
In Baden, Swabia, Switzerland and Slovenian regions, she was often called Frau Faste (the lady of the Ember days) or Pehta or Kvaternica, in Slovene. Elsewhere she was known as Posterli, Quatemberca and Fronfastenweiber.
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.
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.
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.
Sometimes, der Teufel is viewed as the most schiach (“ugly”) Percht and Frau Perchta as the most schön (“beautiful”) Percht. The devil (from Greek: diábolos = slanderer or accuser) is believed in many religions, myths and cultures to be a supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the archenemy of God and humankind.
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.
Perchta is often identified as stemming from the same Germanic goddess as Holda and other female figures of German folklore. According to Grimm, 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.”
In Germanic legends, Frau Holda, also knwn as 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.
Frau Holda’s festival is in the middle of winter, the time when humans retreat indoors from the cold; it may be of significance that the Twelve Days of Christmas were originally the Zwölften (“the Twelve”), which like the same period in the Celtic calendar were an intercalary period during which the dead were thought to roam abroad.
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.
As early as the beginning of the eleventh century she appears to have been known as the leader of women and female nocturnal spirits, which in common are called Hulden from Holda. These women would leave their houses in spirit, going out through closed doors in the silence of the night, leaving their sleeping husbands behind. They would travel vast distances through the sky, to great feasts, or to battles amongst the clouds.
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”.
A 16th-century fable recorded by Erasmus Alberus speaks of an army of women with sickles in hand sent by Frau Hulda. Thomas Reinesius in the 17th century speaks of Werra of the Voigtland and her crowd of maenads.
Holda figures in some pre-Christian Alpine traditions that have survived to modern times. During the Christmas period in the alpine regions of Germany, Austria and northern Switzerland, wild masked processions are still held in a number of towns, impersonating Holda, Perchta or related beings, and the wild hunt.
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.
Uttu 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. She is a goddess in the pantheon.
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.
Holda was often identified with Diana in old church documents. 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 was known to be the virgin goddess of childbirth and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses, Diana, Minerva and Vesta, who swore never to marry. Oak groves were especially sacred to her.
According to mythology (in common with the Greek religion and their deity Artemis), Diana was born with her twin brother Apollo on the island of Delos, daughter of Jupiter and Latona. Diana made up a triad with two other Roman deities: Egeria the water nymph, her servant and assistant midwife; and Virbius, the woodland god.
Diana was equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, 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. In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, a daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe, the sister of Asteria, 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 Artemis assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia, the Greek goddess of childbirth. According to some authors her name does not have an Indo-European etymology, which for R. F. Willets strengthens her link to Minoan culture.
“The links between Eileithyia, an earlier Minoan goddess, and a still earlier Neolithic prototype are, relatively, firm,” he wrote. “The continuity of her cult depends upon the unchanging concept of her function.
Eileithyia was the goddess of childbirth; and the divine helper of women in labour has an obvious origin in the human midwife.” Additionally, for Willetts, Cretan dialect ‘Eleuthia’ would connect Eileithyia to Eleusis and the Eleusinian Mysteries, initiations held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece.
Proserpina and Persephone
Proserpina, or Proserpine, is an ancient Roman goddess whose cult, myths and mysteries were based on those of Greek Persephone, also called Kore or Cora (“the maiden”), the daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter, the Greek goddess of grain and agriculture, and is the queen of the underworld.
In 204 BC, a new “greek-style” cult to Ceres and Proserpina as “Mother and Maiden” was imported from southern Italy, along with Greek priestesses to serve it, and was installed in Ceres’ Temple on Rome’s Aventine Hill. The new cult and its priesthood were actively promoted by Rome’s religious authorities as morally desirable for respectable Roman women, and may have partly subsumed the temple’s older, native cult to Ceres, Liber and Libera; but the new rites seems to have functioned alongside the old, rather than replaced them.
Just as Persephone was thought to be a daughter of Demeter, Romans made Proserpina a daughter of Demeter’s Roman equivalent, Ceres. 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.
Libera and Liber
The Romans identified Proserpina with their native fertility goddess Libera, daughter of the grain and agriculture goddess Ceres and wife to Liber. Libera was a goddess of wine, fertility and freedom. She was the female equivalent of Liber (freedom), while her name is in the feminine form.
At some time during Rome’s Regal or very early Republican eras, she became paired up with Liber, also known as Liber Pater (The Free Father), Roman god of wine, male fertility, and a guardian of plebeian freedoms. She enters Roman history as Triadic cult companion to Ceres and Liber, in a temple established on the Aventine Hill ca. 493 BC.
The location and context of this early cult mark her association with Rome’s commoner-citizens, or plebs; she might have been offered cult on March 17 as part of Liber’s festival, Liberalia, or at some time during the seven days of Cerealia (mid to late April); in the latter festival she would have been subordinate to Ceres. Otherwise, her relationship to her Aventine cult partners is uncertain.
With the institution of the ritus graecia cereris (Greek rites of Ceres) c.205 BC, Libera was officially identified with Ceres’ daughter Proserpina and acquired with her a Romanised form of Greek mystery rite and attendant mythology, based on Greek cults to Demeter and Persephone.
In the late Republican era, Cicero describes Liber and Libera as Ceres’ children. At around the same time, possibly in the context of popular or religious drama, Hyginus equates her with Greek Ariadne, in Greek mythology the daughter of Minos, King of Crete, and his queen Pasiphaë, daughter of Helios, as bride to Liber’s Greek equivalent, Dionysus: therefore her mythographic associations and identity seem far from straightforward.
The older and newer forms of her cult and rites, and their diverse associations, persisted well into the late Imperial era. St. Augustine (AD 354 – 430) observes that Libera is concerned with female fertility, as Liber is connected with male fertility.
Inara and Telepinu
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.
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.
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.
After Telepinu disappears, his father, the Storm-god Tarhunt (also called Teshub), complains to Hannahannah. She then sends him out to search for his son, and when he gives up, she dispatches a bee, charging it to find Telepinu. The bee does that, and then purifies and strengthens him by stinging his hands and feet and wiping his eyes and feet with wax.
After Inara consulted with Hannahannah, she gave her a man and land. Soon after, Inara is missing and when Hannahannah is informed thereof by the Storm-god’s bee, she apparently begins a search with the help of her female attendant. Apparently like Demeter, Hannahanna disappears for a while in a fit of anger and while she is gone, cattle and sheep are stifled and mothers, both human and animal take no account of their children.
After her anger is banished to the Dark Earth, she returns rejoicing, and mothers care once again for their kin. Another means of banishing her anger was through burning brushwood and allowing the vapor to enter her body. Either in this or another text she appears to consult with the Sun god and the War god, but much of the text is missing.
After the dragon Illuyanka wins an encounter with the storm god, the latter asks Inara to give a feast, most probably the Purulli festival. Inara decides to use the feast to lure and defeat Illuyanka, who was her father’s archenemy, and enlists the aid of a mortal named Hupasiyas of Zigaratta by becoming his lover.
The dragon and his family gorge themselves on the fare at the feast, becoming quite drunk, which allows Hupasiyas to tie a rope around them. Inara’s father can then kill Illuyanka, thereby preserving creation.
Inara built a house on a cliff and gave it to Hupasiyas. She left one day with instructions that he was not to look out the window, as he might see his family. But he looked and the sight of his family made him beg to be allowed to return home. It is not known what happened next, but there is speculation that Inara killed Hupasiyas for disobeying her, or for hubris, or that he was allowed to return to his family.
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.
Tammuz (Akkadian: Duʾzu, Dūzu; Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.
In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar.
The Aramaic name “Tammuz” seems to have been derived from the Akkadian form Tammuzi, based on early Sumerian Damu-zid. The later standard Sumerian form, Dumu-zid, in turn became Dumuzi in Akkadian. Tamuzi also is Dumuzid or Dumuzi.
Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East, as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god.
Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity: tablets discovered in 1963 show that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year.
In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East. These mourning ceremonies were observed at the door of the Temple in Jerusalem in a vision the Israelite prophet Ezekiel was given, which serves as a Biblical prophecy which expresses the Lord’s message at His people’s apostate worship of idols. It is quite possible that among other Judeans the Tammuz cult was not regarded as inconsistent with Yahwism. Ezekiel’s testimony is the only direct mention of Tammuz in the Hebrew Bible, though echoes of Tammuz have been seen in the books of Isaiah, and Daniel.
Today several versions of the Sumerian death of Dumuzi have been recovered, “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld”, “Dumuzi’s dream” and “Dumuzi and the galla”, as well as a tablet separately recounting Dumuzi’s death, mourned by holy Inanna, and his noble sister Geštinanna, and even his dog and the lambs and kids in his fold; Dumuzi himself is weeping at the hard fate in store for him, after he had walked among men, and the cruel galla of the Underworld seize him.
The Levantine Adonis, the Hellenized form of the Phoenician word “adoni” (“my lord”), which is related to Adonai, one of the names used to refer to the God of the Hebrew Bible and still used in Judaism to the present day, was drawn into the Greek pantheon, and was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.
Adonis has had multiple roles, and there has been much scholarship over the centuries concerning his meaning and purpose in Greek religious beliefs. He is an annually-renewed, ever-youthful vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity whose nature is tied to the calendar. His name is often applied in modern times to handsome youths, of whom he is the archetype.
Adonis originally was a Phoenician god of fertility representing the spirit of vegetation. It is further speculated that he was an avatar of the version of Ba’al, worshipped in Ugarit. Syrian Adonis is Gauas or Aos, akin to Egyptian Osiris, the Semitic Tammuz and Baal Hadad, the Etruscan Atunis and the Phrygian Attis, all of whom are deities of rebirth and vegetation.
It is likely that lack of clarity concerning whether Myrrha was called Smyrna, and who her father was, originated in Cyprus before the Greeks first encountered the myth. However, it is clear that the Greeks added much to the Adonis-Myrrha story, before it was first recorded by classical scholars.
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. Grimm thinks Holda is her equivalent while the Weisse frauen (meaning White Women), elven-like spirits that may have derived from Germanic paganism in the form of legends of light elves (Old Norse: Ljósálfar), may derive directly from Berchta in her white form.
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. They are described as beautiful and enchanted creatures who appear at noon and can be seen sitting in the sunshine brushing their hair or bathing in a brook.
They may be guarding treasure or haunting castles. They entreat mortals to break their spell, but this is always unsuccessful. The mythology dates back at least to the Middle Ages and was known in the present-day area of Germany.
The association with the color white and their appearance in sunlight is thought by Jacob Grimm to stem from the original Old Norse and Teutonic mythology of alven (elves), specifically the bright Ljósálfar.
The White Women also may represent ancient beliefs in ancestral spirits or older native goddesses and nature spirits. These “light elves” lived in Álfheim (part of heaven) under the fertility god Freyr. As mythology evolved, elves no longer lived in Álfheim but lived on earth in nature.
According to Grimm’s Teutonic Mythology and to the Mythology of All Races Series, the enchantment under which they suffer may be a symbol of the ban laid by Christianity on the divinities of the older faith. Similar in name to the Witte Wieven of Dutch mythology, the Weisse Frauen may have come from the Germanic belief in disen or land wights and alven.
Grimm notes the image of the Weisse Frauen basking in the sun and bathing melts into the notion of a water-holde [i.e. Holda] and nixe. The Weisse Frauen also have counterparts in both name and characterization in neighboring countries.
In the Netherlands known as the Witte Wieven, and in France known as the Dames Blanches. There are also many legends in German Folklore regarding Weisse Frauen, which are actually equivalent to the legends of White Ladies; ghosts of the United Kingdom.
According to Grimm the White Women might come from Holda, Berhta, white by her very name, and Ostara, a Germanic divinity who, by way of the Germanic month bearing her name (Northumbrian: Ēosturmōnaþ; West Saxon: Ēastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth), is the namesake of the festival of Easter.
Theories connecting Ēostre with records of Germanic Easter customs, including hares and eggs, have been proposed. In Northern Europe, Easter imagery often involves hares and rabbits. Some scholars have linked customs and imagery involving hares to Ēostre and the Norse goddess Freyja.
Ēostre is attested solely by Bede in his 8th-century work The Reckoning of Time, where Bede states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent of April), pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Eostre’s honor, but that this tradition had died out by his time, replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.
By way of linguistic reconstruction, the matter of a goddess called *Austrō in the Proto-Germanic language has been examined in detail since the foundation of Germanic philology in the 19th century by scholar Jacob Grimm and others.
As the Germanic languages descend from Proto-Indo-European (PIE), historical linguists have traced the name to a Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn *Hewsṓs (→ *Ausṓs), from which descends the Common Germanic divinity from whom Ēostre and Ostara are held to descend.
Old English Ēostre continues into modern English as Easter and derives from Proto-Germanic *austrōn (“dawn”), itself a descendent of the Proto-Indo-European root *aus- (”to shine”). Modern English east also derives from this root.
The goddess name Ēostre is therefore linguistically cognate with numerous other dawn goddesses attested among Indo-European language-speaking peoples. These cognates lead to the reconstruction of a Proto-Indo-European dawn goddess.
The Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture details that “a Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn is supported both by the evidence of cognate names and the similarity of mythic representation of the dawn goddess among various [Indo-European] groups” and that “all of this evidence permits us to posit a [Proto-Indo-European] *haéusōs ‘goddess of dawn’ who was characterized as a “reluctant” bringer of light for which she is punished.
In three of the [Indo-European] stocks, Baltic, Greek and Indo-Iranian, the existence of a [Proto-Indo-European] “Goddess of the dawn” is given additional linguistic support in that she is designated the “Daughter of heaven.”
In southern Austria, in Carinthia among the Slovenes, a male form of Perchta was known as Quantembermann in German, or Kvaternik, in Slovene (the man of the four Ember days). Grimm thought that her male counterpart or equivalent is Berchtold, a German given name, from the Old High German beruht (“bright” or “brightly”) and waltan (“rule over”).
The name Berchtold comes into fashion in the German High Middle Ages, from about the 11th century. The cognate Old English name is Beorhtwald, attested as the name of an archbishop in the 8th century. Berchtold appears also as the name of the leader of the Wild Hunt in German folklore of the 16th century. The name is here replacing the female Perchta.
The name Bertha 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 (“Manifestation”, “striking appearance”) or Theophany, (“Vision of God”), also known as Three Kings’ Day, a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ.
In Western Christianity, the feast commemorates principally (but not solely) the visit of the Magi to the Christ child, and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the Gentiles. Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God.
In some Western Christian denominations, especially in the past, and also in the present-day Church of England, the feast of the Epiphany also initiates a liturgical season of Epiphanytide.
The traditional date for the feast is January 6. However, since 1970, the celebration is held in some countries on the Sunday after January 1. Eastern Churches following the Julian Calendar observe the Theophany feast on what for most countries is January 19 because of the 13-day difference today between that calendar and the generally used Gregorian calendar.
Alternative names for the feast in Greek include Theophany as neuter plural rather than feminine singular i Imera ton Foton (“The Day of the Lights”), and ta Fota (“The Lights”).
The Orthodox Churches perform the Great Blessing of Waters on Theophany. The blessing is normally done twice: once on the Eve of the Feast—usually at a Baptismal font inside the church—and then again on the day of the feast, outdoors at a body of water.
The Twelfth Night
In the Church of England, the eve of the feast is celebrated as Twelfth Night, a festival, in some branches of Christianity marking the coming of the Epiphany. The Monday after Epiphany is known as Plough Monday.
In medieval and Tudor England, the Twelfth Night marked the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows Eve — now more commonly known as Halloween. The Lord of Misrule symbolizes the world turning upside down. On this day the King and all those who were high would become the peasants and vice versa.
At the beginning of the Twelfth Night festival, a cake that contained a bean was eaten. The person who found the bean would rule the feast. Midnight signaled the end of his rule and the world would return back to normal.
The common theme was that the normal order of things was reversed. This Lord of Misrule tradition dates back to pre-Christian European festivals such as the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia.
Different traditions mark the date of Twelfth Night on either 5th January or 6th January; the Church of England, Mother Church of the Anglican Communion, celebrates Twelfth Night on the 5th and refers to the night before Epiphany, the day when the nativity story tells us that the three wise men visited the infant Jesus. In some places, particularly south-western England, Old Twelfth Night is celebrated on 17. January. This continues the custom on the date determined by the Julian calendar.
According to 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.
The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a festive Christian season to celebrate the nativity of Jesus. In most Western Church traditions Christmas Day is the First Day of Christmas and the Twelve Days are 25 December – 5 January.
For many Christian denominations, such as the Anglican Church and Lutheran Church, the Twelve Days period is the same as Christmastide; for others, such as the Catholic Church, Christmastide lasts a little longer; the Twelve Days are different from the Octave of Christmas, which is the eight-day period from Christmas Day until 1 January.
In Anglicanism, the term “Twelve Days of Christmas” is used liturgically in the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, having its own responsory in the Book of Common Prayer for Matins.
Bertha is a female Germanic name, from Old High German berhta meaning “bright one”. The name occurs as a theonym, surviving as Berchta, a figure in Alpine folklore connected to the Wild Hunt, probably an epithet of *Frijjō in origin.
*Frijjō (“Frigg-Frija”) is the reconstructed name or epithet of a hypothetical Common Germanic love goddess, the most prominent female member of the *Ansiwiz (gods), and often identified as the spouse of the chief god, *Wōdanaz (Woden-Odin).
The theonyms in West Germanic are Anglo-Saxon *Frīg, Old High German Frīja, Low German (Lower Saxony) Frike, Freke (Fru Freen, Fru Frien, Fru Freke, Fru Frick, Fuik, Frie) and Lombardic Frea.
The name of the Anglo-Saxon goddess is attested only in the name of the weekday, although frīg (strong feminine) as a common noun meaning “love” in the singular or “affections” and “embraces” in the plural is attested in poetry.
The name * Frijjō (Old Norse Frigg, Old High German Frīja) ultimately derives from PIE *prih-y(a)h, cognate to Sanskrit priya (“dear” or “beloved”), which however in Germanic split into two etymons, one covering the semantic field of “love”, “courtship” and “friendship”, the other the field of “freedom”.
The weekday Friday in English is named after for the goddess Frigg (Old English frigedæg). Friday in Old Norse was called both Freyjudagr and Frjádagr, in Faröese fríggjadagur, and in Old High German never *Frouwûntac, but Frîatac, Frîgetac, now Freitag.
There is some evidence that the epithet *frawjō (“lady”) was applied to this goddess. The two names were confused from early times, especially in Old English, where the stem of *frīj- appears as frēo-, frīo-, frēa- (a contraction of *īj- and a following back vowel) beside a less frequent stem form frīg-, by development of a glide between ī and a following front vowel.
The two forms would originally have figured in complementary distribution within the same paradigm (e.g. masculine nominative singular frēo, masculine genitive singular frīges), but in attested Old English analogical forms are already present and the distribution is no longer complementary.
Jacob Grimm stated “We gather from all this, that the forms and even the meanings of the two names border closely on one another. Freyja means the gladsome, gladdening, sweet, gracious goddess, Frigg the free, beautiful, loveable; to the former attaches the general notion of frau (mistress), to the latter that of frî (woman).”
The linguistic discussion of these names is complicated by issues of Germanic Verschärfung. Old Norse Frigg, friggjar-dagr is related to frakkr (“free” or “bold”), cognate to Old English frēo, Gothic freis (“free”).
Both Frigg and Freyja are associated with weaving, combining the aspects of a love goddess, and a domestic goddess. In Sweden and some parts of Germany, the asterism of Orion’s Belt is known as her distaff or spindle.
Fulla is named as Frija’s sister in the Merseburg charms. In Norse mythology Fulla is one of a train of sixteen goddesses each performing a task representing an aspect of Frigg’s, among them also Freyja (Gefjun).
Various female figures in medieval folklore have been traced to Frigg-Frija: the Saxon Fru Freke, Gode, Perchta (Bertha), Holda (Holle). According to Rudolf Much, “Jörð, Frigg, Freyja, Nerthus, Fulla, Nanna, and others are essentially the same, personifying life, producing nature.”
The “woman” type of Frauenbrakteaten (from the Latin bractea, a thin piece of metal), type B7, also called Fürstenberg or Oberwerschen type, a flat, thin, single-sided gold medal worn as jewelry that was produced in Northern Europe predominantly during the Migration Period of the Germanic Iron Age (including the Vendel era in Sweden), has been identified as possibly depicting Frigg-Frija.
There are five known bracteates of this type. In each of them the female figure depicted is holding a cross-shaped staff, interpreted as a distaff. One of them is additionally decorated with a number of crosses, and one of them has additional swastikas. Iconographically related are five gold bracteates found in Hüfingen, Bavaria.
Queen of Heaven
Grimm based his theory of Holda on what he took to be the earliest references to her: an eleventh-century interpolation to the Canon Episcopi by Burchard of Worms, and pre-Christian Roman inscriptions to Hludana that he tentatively linked to the same divinity.
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”, a title given to the Virgin Mary by Christians mainly of the Roman Catholic Church, and also, to some extent, in Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglicanism. However, 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.
The title “Queen of Heaven” is a consequence of the First Council of Ephesus in the fifth century, in which the Virgin Mary was proclaimed “theotokos”, a title rendered in Latin as Mater Dei, in English “Mother of God”.
The Catholic teaching on this subject is expressed in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, issued by Pope Pius XII. It states that Mary is called Queen of Heaven because her son, Jesus Christ, is the king of Israel and heavenly king of the universe; indeed, the Davidic tradition of Israel recognized the mother of the king as the Queen Mother of Israel. The Eastern Orthodox Churches do not share the Catholic dogma, but themselves have a rich liturgical history in honor of Mary.
The title Queen of Heaven has long been a Catholic tradition, included in prayers and devotional literature, and seen in Western art in the subject of the Coronation of the Virgin, from the High Middle Ages, long before it was given a formal definition status by the Church.
Hebat, the mother goddess of the Hurrians, was known as “the mother of all living” and “Queen of the deities”. During Aramaean times Hebat also appear to have become identified with the goddess Hawwah, or Eve.
Queen of Heaven was a title given to a number of ancient sky goddesses in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, in particular Anat, Isis, Inanna, Astarte, Hera and possibly Asherah (by the prophet Jeremiah). Elsewhere, the Nordic goddess Frigg bore this title.
Inanna was the Sumerian Goddess of love and war. Despite her association with mating and fertility of humans and animals, Inanna was not a mother goddess, and is rarely associated with childbirth. Inanna was also associated with rain and storms and with the planet Venus.
Queen of Heaven is a title used for goddesses central to many religions of antiquity. In Sumer Inanna was hailed as “Queen of Heaven” in the 3rd millennium BC. Inanna’s name is commonly derived from Nin-anna “Queen of Heaven” (from Sumerian NIN “lady”, AN “sky”), although the cuneiform sign for her name is not historically a ligature of the two.
These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that Inanna may have been originally 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, she at first 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 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.
Her cult was deeply embedded in Mesopotamia and among the Canaanites to the west. F. F. Bruce describes a transformation from a Venus as a male deity to Ishtar, a female goddess by the Akkadians. He links Ishtar, Tammuz, Innini, Ma(Cappadocia), Mami, Dingir-Mah, Cybele, Agdistis, Pessinuntica and the Idaean Mother to the cult of a great Mother-goddess.
Cybele has a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük (in the Konya region) where the statue of a pregnant goddess seated on a lion throne was found in a granary dated to the 6th millennium BCE. In Greece, Cybele met with a mixed reception. She was partially assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia, her Minoan equivalent Rhea, and the Harvest-Mother goddess Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth.
Demeter and her daughter Persephone, also called Kore or Cora (“the maiden”), were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon. Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter, and is the queen of the underworld. In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina, and her mother, Ceres.
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 Greco-Roman times Hera, and her Roman aspect Juno bore the title Queen of Heaven. Forms and content of worship varied. In modern times, the title “Queen of Heaven” is still used by contemporary pagans to refer to the Great Goddess, while Catholics and Orthodox Christians now apply the ancient pagan title to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
In Mesopotamian Religion Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation, depicted as a woman, she represents the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.
It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a “Sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second “Chaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.
The Babylonian epic Enuma Elish is named for its incipit: “When above” the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, “the first, the begetter”, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, “she who bore them all”; they were “mixing their waters”.
It is thought that female deities are older than male ones in Mesopotamia and Tiamat may have begun as part of the cult of Nammu, a female principle of a watery creative force, with equally strong connections to the underworld, which predates the appearance of Ea-Enki.
In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu, (correctly) assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed.
Enraged, she, too, wars upon her husband’s murderers, taking on the form of a massive sea dragon, she is then slain by Enki’s son, the storm-god Marduk, but not before she had brought forth the monsters of the Mesopotamian pantheon, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with “poison instead of blood”. Marduk then forms heavens and the earth from her divided body.
Tiamat was later known as Thalattē (as a variant of thalassa, the Greek word for “sea”) in the Hellenistic Babylonian writer Berossus’ first volume of universal history. It is thought that the name of Tiamat was dropped in secondary translations of the original religious texts (written in the East Semitic Akkadian language) because some Akkadian copyists of Enûma Elish substituted the ordinary word for “sea” for Tiamat, since the two names had become essentially the same due to association.
Thorkild Jacobsen and Walter Burkert both argue for a connection with the Akkadian word for sea, tâmtu, following an early form, ti’amtum. Burkert continues by making a linguistic connection to Tethys. He finds the later form, thalatth, to be related clearly to Greek thalatta or thalassa, “sea”. Tiamat also has been claimed to be cognate with Northwest Semitic tehom (the deeps, abyss), in the Book of Genesis 1:2.
In Sumerian mythology, Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR) was a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology.
Nammu was the Goddess Sea (Engur) that gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first gods, representing the Apsu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall.
Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions. An indication of her continued relevance may be found in the theophoric name of Ur-Nammu, the founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur.
According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu. Nammu is the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”. It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going.
The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans. And Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods. Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.