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Shiva and Kali – Yama and Yami

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 22, 2016

Tyr – Tuisto

According to Tacitus’s Germania (98 CE), Tuisto (or Tuisco) is the divine ancestor of the Germanic peoples. Tacitus relates that “ancient songs” (Latin carminibus antiquis) of the Germanic peoples celebrated Tuisto as “a god, born of the earth” (deum terra editum).

These songs further attributed to him a son, Mannus, who in turn had three sons, the offspring of whom were referred to as Ingaevones, Herminones and Istaevones, living near the Ocean (proximi Oceano), in the interior (medii), and the remaining parts (ceteri) of the geographical region of Germania, respectively.

The names Mannus and Tuisto/Tuisco seem to have some relation to Proto-Germanic Mannaz, “man” and Tiwaz, “Tyr, the god”. Týr is a Germanic 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 rendered as Tius or Tio and also formally as Mars Thincsus.

Týr 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.

Dyēus is believed to have been the chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. Part of a larger pantheon, he was the god of the daylight sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society. In his aspect as a father god, his consort would have been Pltwih Méhter, “earth mother”.

This deity is not directly attested; rather, scholars have reconstructed this deity from the languages and cultures of later Indo-European peoples such as the Greeks, Latins, and Indo-Aryans. According to this scholarly reconstruction, Dyeus was addressed as Dyeu Phter, literally “sky father” or “shining father”, as reflected in Latin Iūpiter, Diēspiter, possibly Dis Pater and deus pater, Greek Zeu pater, Sanskrit Dyàuṣpítaḥ.

Cicero in his De Natura Deorum derives the name of Dīs Pater from dives, suggesting a meaning of “father of riches”, directly corresponding to the name Pluto (from Greek Ploutōn, meaning “wealthy”). This has been accepted by some contemporary authors, some even suggesting that Dīs Pater is a direct loan translation of Ploutōn. Alternatively, he may be a secondary reflex of the same god as Jupiter (Proto-Indo-European Dyeus Phter).

Like Pluto, Dīs Pater eventually became associated with death and the underworld because the wealth of the earth—gems and precious metals—was considered in the domain of the Greco-Roman underworld. As a result, Dīs Pater was over time conflated with the Greek god Hades.

In being conflated with Pluto, Dīs Pater took on some of the Greek mythological attributes of Pluto/Hades, being one of the three sons of Saturn (Greek: Cronus) and Ops (Greek: Rhea), along with Jupiter and Neptune. He ruled the underworld and the dead beside his wife, Proserpina (Greek: Persephone). In literature, Dīs Pater was commonly used as a symbolic and poetic way of referring to death itself.

In addition to being considered the ancestor of the Gauls, Dīs Pater was sometimes identified with the Sabine god Soranus. In southern Germany and the Balkans, Dīs Pater had a Celtic goddess, Aericura, as a consort. Dīs Pater was rarely associated with foreign deities in the shortened form of his name, Dis.

As the pantheons of the individual mythologies related to the Proto-Indo-European religion evolved, attributes of Dyeus seem to have been redistributed to other deities. In Greek and Roman mythology, Dyeus remained the chief god; however, in Vedic mythology, the etymological continuant of Dyeus became a very abstract god, and his original attributes and dominance over other gods appear to have been transferred to gods such as Agni or Indra.

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. 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.

Tuisto 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 Indic/Vedic Tvastar.

The Germania manuscript corpus contains two primary variant readings of the name. Root of the word is from the Hindu Vedic ‘Tvasthar’ – father of Manu. The most frequently occurring, Tuisto, is commonly connected to the Proto-Germanic root *tvai- “two” and its derivative *tvis- “twice” or “doubled”, thus giving Tuisto the core meaning “double”. Any assumption of a gender inference is entirely conjectural, as the tvia/tvis roots are also the roots of any number of other concepts/words in the Germanic languages. Take for instance the Germanic “twist”, which, in all but the English has the primary meaning of “dispute/conflict”.

The second variant of the name, occurring originally in manuscript E, reads Tuisco. One proposed etymology for this variant reconstructs a Proto-Germanic *tiwisko and connects this with Proto-Germanic *Tiwaz, giving the meaning “son of Tiu”. This interpretation would thus make Tuisco the son of the sky-god (Proto-Indo-European *Dyeus) and the earth-goddess.

Connections have been proposed between the 1st century figure of Tuisto and the hermaphroditic primeval being Ymir in later Norse mythology, attested in 13th century sources, based upon etymological and functional similarity. Meyer (1907) sees the connection as so strong, that he considers the two to be identical.

Lindow (2001), while mindful of the possible semantic connection between Tuisto and Ymir, notes an essential functional difference: while Ymir is portrayed as an “essentially … negative figure” – Tuisto is described as being “celebrated” (celebrant) by the early Germanic peoples in song, with Tacitus reporting nothing negative about Tuisto.

Jacob (2005) attempts to establish a genealogical relationship between Tuisto and Ymir based on etymology and a comparison with (post-)Vedic Indian mythology.

Aas 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.

The succession of father-son-three sons parallels occurs in both Germanic and non-Germanic Indo-European areas. The essential characteristics of the myth have been theorized as ultimately originated in Proto-Indo-European society.

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

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

Yama and Yami

Yama or Yamarāja, also called Imra, is a god of death, the south direction and the underworld, belonging to an early stratum of Rigvedic Hindu deities. In Sanskrit, his name can be interpreted to mean “twin”. In the Zend-Avesta of Zoroastrianism, he is called “Yima”.

According to the Vishnu Purana, his parents are the sun-god Surya and Sanjna, the daughter of Vishvakarman (Sanskrit for “all-accomplishing, maker of all, all-doer”), the personification of creation and the abstract form of the creator God according to the Rigveda. He is the presiding deity of all Vishwakarma (caste), engineers, artisans and architects.

Vishvakarman is believed to be the “Principal Architect of the Universe “, and the root concept of the later Upanishadic figures of Brahman and Purusha.

Yama is the brother of Sraddhadeva Manu, the current Manu and the progenitor of the current humanity (manvantara), and of his older sister Yami, which Horace Hayman Wilson indicates to mean the Yamuna. According to Harivamsa Purana her name is Daya. There is a temple in Srivanchiyam, Tamil Nadu dedicated to Yama.

In the Vedas, Yama is said to have been the first mortal who died. By virtue of precedence, he became the ruler of the departed, and is called “Lord of the Pitrs”, the spirits of the departed ancestors in Hindu culture. They are often remembered annually. They are reborn at the end of every thousand mahayugas and revive the worlds. From them all the Manus and all progeny at the new creation are produced.

The Pitṛs are most primeval deities and they never cease to exist. The manuṣyāḥ pitaraḥ (ancestors of human beings) can attain the same level of the divine Pitṛs and live with them in heaven by righteousness.

Shiva and Kali

In the Skanda Purana, a Hindu religious text, Mars is known as the deity Mangala and was born from the sweat of Shiva (“auspicious, propitious, gracious, benign, kind, benevolent, friendly”). Shiva is “the transformer” within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. In Shaivism tradition, Shiva is the Supreme being who creates, protects and transforms the universe.

The word Shiva is used as an adjective in the Rig Veda, as an epithet for several Rigvedic deities, including Rudra. Some authors associate the name with the Tamil word śivappu meaning “red”, noting that Shiva is linked to the Sun (śivan, “the Red one”, in Tamil) and that Rudra is also called Babhru (brown, or red) in the Rigveda.

The planet is called Angaraka in Sanskrit, after the celibate god of war who possesses the signs of Aries and Scorpio, and teaches the occult sciences. Kali is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her.

The Dark appearance of Kali represents the darkness from which everything was born. Her complexion is deep blue, like the sky and ocean water as blue. As she is also the goddess of Preservation Kali is worshiped as mother to preserve the nature. Kali is standing calm on Shiva ,her appearance represents the preservation of mother nature. Her free, long and black hair represents nature’s freedom from civilization.

Kali is not always thought of as a Dark Goddess. Kālī is the feminine form of kālam (“black, dark coloured”). The homonymous kāla, “appointed time”, which depending on context can mean “death”, is distinct from kāla “black”, but became associated through popular etymology. Kālī is also the feminine form of Kāla, an epithet of Shiva, and thus the consort of Shiva.

Despite Kali’s origins in battle, She evolved to a full-fledged symbol of Mother Nature in Her creative, nurturing and devouring aspects. She is referred to as a great and loving primordial Mother Goddess in the Hindu tantric tradition. In this aspect, as Mother Goddess, She is referred to as Kali Ma, meaning Kali Mother, and millions of Hindus revere Her as such.

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

Osiris and Isis

Isis (original Egyptian pronunciation more likely “Aset” or “Iset”) was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the patroness of nature and magic. The name Isis means “Throne”.

She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans and the downtrodden, but she also listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats and rulers. She married her brother, Osiris, and she conceived Horus with him, although in some traditions Horus’s mother was Hathor.

Osiris (alternatively Ausir, Asiri or Ausar, among other spellings), was an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld, and the dead, but more appropriately as the god of transition, resurrection, and regeneration.

Osiris was at times considered the oldest son of the earth god Geb, though other sources state his father is the sun-god Ra and the sky goddess Nut, as well as being brother and husband of Isis, with Horus being considered his posthumously begotten son.

Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by Set. Using her magical skills, she restored his body to life after having gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the earth by Set.

This myth became very important during the Greco-Roman period. For example, it was believed that the Nile River flooded every year because of the tears of sorrow which Isis wept for Osiris. Osiris’s death and rebirth was relived each year through rituals.

The worship of Isis eventually spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, continuing until the suppression of paganism in the Christian era. The popular motif of Isis suckling her son Horus, however, lived on in a Christianized context as the popular image of Mary suckling her infant son Jesus from the fifth century onward.

Mars was known by the ancient Egyptians as “Horus of the Horizon”, then later Her Deshur (“Ḥr Dšr”), or “Horus the Red”. Horus served many functions, most notably being a god of the sky, war and hunting.

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Njord-Nerthus – Tyr/Hel – Mars/Nerio-Venus

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 21, 2016

In Old Norse, ǫ́ss (or áss, ás, plural æsir; feminine ásynja, plural ásynjur) is the term denoting a member of the principal pantheon in Norse religion. This pantheon includes Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Týr. The second pantheon comprises the Vanir. In Norse mythology, the two pantheons wage the Æsir–Vanir War, which results in a unified pantheon.

Odin – Mercury – Enki (Nabu) / Ninshubar

Njord – Saturn – Enlil

Thor – Jupiter – Ninurta

Tyr – Mars (Dyeus/Dis Pater) – Nergal

Odin/Odr (Mercury) – Frigg/Freya (Venus)

In Germanic mythology, Odin (from Old Norse Óðinn) is a widely revered god. The day of the week Wednesday bears his name in many Germanic languages, including English. The name is derived from Old English Wōdnesdæg and Middle English Wednesdei, “day of Woden”, ultimately a calque of dies Mercurii “day of Mercury”.

In Anglo-Saxon England, Odin held a particular place as a euhemerized ancestral figure among royalty, and he is frequently referred to as a founding figure among various other Germanic peoples, including the Langobards.

In Norse mythology, from which stems most of the information about the god, Odin is associated with healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, battle, sorcery, poetry, frenzy, and the runic alphabet. Odin has a particular association with Yule, and mankind’s knowledge of both the runes and poetry is also attributed to him.

In Old Norse texts, Odin is given primacy over female beings associated with the battlefield—the valkyries—and oversees Valhalla, where he receives half of those who die in battle, the einherjar. The other half are chosen by the goddess Freyja for her afterlife location, Fólkvangr.

Odin consults the disembodied, herb-embalmed head of the wise being Mímir for advice, and during the foretold events of Ragnarök, Odin is told to lead the einherjar into battle before being consumed by the monstrous wolf Fenrir.

In later folklore, Odin appears as a leader of the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession of the dead through the winter sky. He has also been associated with charms and other forms of magic, particularly in Old English and Old Norse texts.

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

Odin is the husband of the goddess Frigg. The English weekday name Friday (etymologically Old English “Frīge’s day”) bears her name. The Latin weekday name is dies Veneris ‘Day of Venus’. Due to significant thematic overlap, scholars have proposed a particular connection to the goddess Freyja.

The connection with and possible earlier identification of the goddess Freyja with Frigg in the Proto-Germanic period (Frigg and Freyja origin hypothesis) is a matter of scholarly debate. The name Freyja is not attested outside of Scandinavia, like the name of the group of gods to which Freyja belongs, the Vanir. This is in contrast to the name of the goddess Frigg, who is attested as a goddess common among the Germanic peoples, and whose name is reconstructed as Proto-Germanic *Frijjō.

Frigg is the wife of the major god Odin and dwells in the wetland halls of Fensalir, is famous for her foreknowledge, is associated with the goddesses Fulla, Lofn, Hlín, and Gná, and is ambiguously associated with the Earth, otherwise personified as an apparently separate entity Jörð (Old Norse “Earth”).

Enki and Ninhursag

Enki 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).

Enki 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” and 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 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. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp.

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

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 BC. It appears on some boundary stones — on the upper tier, indicating her importance. The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, and may represent a stylized womb. Hathor is at times depicted on a mountain, so it may be that the two goddesses are connected.

Uttu

In Norse mythology, the goddess Frigg spins clouds from her bejewelled distaff in the Norse constellation known as Frigg’s Spinning Wheel (Friggerock, Orion’s belt).

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. The Norns are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men. They roughly correspond to other controllers of humans’ destiny, the Fates, elsewhere in European mythology.

Ninshubur

Ninshubur was the sukkal or second-in-command of the goddess Inanna in Sumerian mythology. A goddess in her own right, her name can be translated as ‘Queen of the East’, and she was said to be a messenger and traveller for the other gods.

As Inanna was associated with the planet Venus, Ninshubur was said to be associated with Mercury, as Venus and Mercury appear together in the sky. Due to similarities between the two, some believe the later Hermes to have been based in part on Ninshubur.

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

Though described as an unmarried virgin, in a few accounts Ninshubur is said to be one of Inanna’s lovers. In later Akkadian mythology, Ninshubur was male. In “A hymn to Nergal” Ninshubur appeared as the minister of the underworld.

Hermes and Mercury

Hermes is an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, the son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia, and the second youngest of the Olympian gods (Dionysus being the youngest).

Hermes is considered a god of transitions and boundaries. He is described as quick and cunning, moving freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine. He is also portrayed as an emissary and messenger of the gods; an intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife. He has been viewed as the protector and patron of herdsmen, thieves, oratory and wit, literature and poetry, athletics and sports, invention and trade, roads, boundaries and travelers.

In some myths, he is a trickster and outwits other gods for his own satisfaction or for the sake of humankind. His attributes and symbols include the herma, the rooster, the tortoise, satchel or pouch, winged sandals, and winged cap. His main symbol is the Greek kerykeion or Latin caduceus, which appears in a form of two snakes wrapped around a winged staff.

Mercury is a major Roman god, being one of the Dii Consentes within the ancient Roman pantheon. He was considered the son of Maia and Jupiter in Roman mythology. 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.

Like Hermes, he was also a god of messages, eloquence and of trade, particularly of the grain trade. 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 gods share characteristics with the Greek god Hermes. He is often depicted holding the caduceus in his left hand. Etruscan artwork often depicts Turms in his role as psychopomp, conducting the soul into the afterlife.

Inanna (Venus) and Tammuz (Aries)

Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries. Inanna is the goddess of love. However, she also has a very complicated relationship with her lover, Dumuzi, in “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld”.

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.

Ereshkigal’s hatred for Inanna could be referenced in a few other myths. 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.

The story of Inanna’s descent to the underworld is a relatively well-attested and reconstructed composition. 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.

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, or upon her throne, entertained by slave-girls. 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.

In other recensions of the story, Dumuzi tries to escape his fate, and is capable of fleeing the demons for a time, as the deities intervene and disguise him in a variety of forms. He is eventually found. However, Dumuzi’s sister, out of love for him, begged to be allowed to take his place. It was then decreed that Dumuzi spent half the year in the underworld, and his sister take the other half.

Inanna, displaying her typically capricious behavior, mourns his time in the underworld. This she reveals in a haunting lament of his deathlike absence from her, for “[he] cannot answer . . . [he] cannot come/ to her calling . . . the young man has gone.” Her own powers, notably those connected with fertility, subsequently wane, to return in full when he returns from the netherworld each six months. This cycle then approximates the shift of seasons.

Njord (Saturn) / Nerthus-Njorun

In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed 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. In Old Icelandic translations of Classical mythology the Roman god Saturn’s name is glossed as “Njörðr.”

Njörðr has been the subject of an amount of scholarly discourse and theory, often connecting him with the figure of the much earlier attested Germanic goddess Nerthus, a goddess associated with fertility.

The name Njörðr corresponds to that of the older Germanic fertility goddess Nerthus, and both derive from the Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz. The original meaning of the name is contested, but it may be related to the Irish word nert which means “force” and “power”.

It has been suggested that the change of sex from the female Nerthus to the male Njörðr is due to the fact that feminine nouns with u-stems disappeared early in Germanic language while the masculine nouns with u-stems prevailed.

However, other scholars hold the change to be based not on grammatical gender but on the evolution of religious beliefs; that *Nerþuz and Njörðr appear as different genders because they are to be considered separate beings. The name Njörðr may be related to the name of the Norse goddess Njörun.

Nerthus is often identified with the van Njörðr who is attested in various 13th century Old Norse works and in numerous Scandinavian place names. The connection between the two is due to the linguistic relationship between Njörðr and the reconstructed Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, Nerthus being the feminine, Latinized form of what Njörðr would have looked like around the first century.

This has led to theories about the relation of the two, including that Njörðr may have once been a hermaphroditic deity or that the name may indicate the otherwise forgotten sister-wife in a divine brother-sister pair like the Vanir deities Freyja and Freyr.

While developments in historical linguistics ultimately allowed for the identification of Nerthus with Njörðr, various other readings of the name were in currency prior to the acceptance of this identification, most commonly the form Hertha. This form was proposed as an attempt to mirror the Old Norse goddess name Jörð ‘earth’.

In Norse mythology, Njörun (Old Norse Njǫrun, sometimes modernly anglicized as Niorun) is a goddess attested in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and various kennings (including once in the Poetic Edda).

Several scholars have suggested that the stem syllable in her name, Njǫr-, may represent the element *ner- as in Tacitus’ earth-goddess Nerthus (*Ner-þuz), whose name is etymologically identical with that of the Norse god Njǫrðr, and that Njörun may therefore be a name for the earth.

Scholarly theories concerning her name and function in the pantheon include etymological connections to the Norse god Njörðr and the Roman goddess Nerio, and suggestions that she may represent the earth and/or be the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr.

The possible etymological connection with Njǫrðr and Nerthus suggests that Njörun may be a preserved name for the sister-wife of Njörðr, who is highly unusual in the Old Norse context in being unnamed. Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon additionally suggests a connection with the Roman goddess Nerio.

Saturn and Opis

Saturn is a god in ancient Roman religion, and a character in myth. He was the first god of the Capitol, known since the most ancient times as Saturnius Mons, and was seen as a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation. In later developments he came to be also a god of time. But Saturn also had a less benevolent aspect, as indicated by the blood shed in his honor during gladiatorial munera.

His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of plenty and peace. The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum housed the state treasury. In December, he was celebrated at what is perhaps the most famous of the Roman festivals, the Saturnalia, a time of feasting, role reversals, free speech, gift-giving and revelry. Saturn the planet and Saturday are both named after the god.

Macrobius (5th century AD) presents an interpretation of the Saturnalia as a festival of light leading to the winter solstice. The renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25.

The Roman soil preserved the remembrance of a very remote time during which Saturn and Janus reigned on the site of the city before its foundation: the Capitol was named mons Saturnius. The Romans identified Saturn with the Greek Cronus, whose myths were adapted for Latin literature and Roman art. In particular, Cronus’s role in the genealogy of the Greek gods was transferred to Saturn. As early as Livius Andronicus (3rd century BC), Jupiter was called the son of Saturn.

Saturn had two consorts who represented different aspects of the god. The name of his wife Ops or Opis, meaning “riches, goods, abundance, gifts, munificence, plenty, wealth, abundance, resources”, the Roman equivalent of Greek Rhea, was a fertility deity and earth-goddess of Sabine origin. The word is also related to opus, which means “work”, particularly in the sense of “working the earth, ploughing, sowing”. The association with Ops though is considered a later development, as this goddess was originally paired with Consus.

Opis, when syncretized with Greek mythology, was not only the wife of Saturn, she was his sister and the daughter of Caelus. Her children were Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Juno, Ceres, and Vesta. Opis also acquired queenly status and was reputed to be an eminent goddess. By public decree temples, priests, and sacrifices were accorded her.

Earlier was Saturn’s association with Lua (“destruction, dissolution, loosening”), sometimes called Lua Saturni (“Saturn’s Lua”) and identified with Lua Mater, “Mother Destruction,” a goddess in whose honor the weapons of enemies killed in war were burned, perhaps as expiation.

Little evidence exists in Italy for the cult of Saturn outside Rome, but his name resembles that of the Etruscan god Satres. H.S. Versnel, however, proposed that Lua Saturni should not be identified with Lua Mater, but rather refers to “loosening”; she thus represents the liberating function of Saturn. It may be that Lua was merely an alternative name for Ops.

The potential cruelty of Saturn was enhanced by his identification with Cronus, known for devouring his own children. He was thus used in translation when referring to gods from other cultures the Romans perceived as severe; he was equated with the Carthaginian god Ba’al Hammon, to whom children were sacrificed, and to Yahweh, whose Sabbath was first referred to as Saturni dies, “Saturn’s day,” in a poem by Tibullus, who wrote during the reign of Augustus; eventually this gave rise to the word “Saturday” in English.

The identification with Ba’al Hammon later gave rise to the African Saturn, a cult that enjoyed great popularity til the 4th century. It had a popular but also a mysteric character and required child sacrifices. It is also considered as inclining to monotheism. In the ceremony of initiation the myste intrat sub iugum, ritual that Leglay compares to the Roman tigillum sororium.

Even though their origin and theology are completely different the Italic and the African god are both sovereign and master over time and death, fact that has permitted their encounter. Moreover, here Saturn is not the real Italic god but his Greek counterpart Cronus.

Saturn’s chthonic nature connected him to the underworld and its ruler Dis Pater, the Roman equivalent of Greek Plouton (Pluto in Latin) who was also a god of hidden wealth. In 3rd-century AD sources and later, Saturn is recorded as receiving gladiatorial offerings (munera) during or near the Saturnalia. These gladiator combats, ten days in all throughout December, were presented by the quaestors and sponsored with funds from the treasury of Saturn.

The practice of gladiatorial munera was criticized by Christian apologists as a form of human sacrifice. Although there is no evidence of this practice during the Republican era, the offering of gladiators led to later theorizing that the primeval Saturn had demanded human victims. Macrobius says that Dis Pater was placated with human heads and Saturn with sacrificial victims consisting of men (virorum victimis). The figurines that were exchanged as gifts (sigillaria) during the Saturnalia may have represented token substitutes.

Tyr (Mars/Dyeus-Dis Pater) and his wife (Hel)

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.

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. 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.

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 names Mannus and Tuisto seem to have some relation to Proto-Germanic Mannaz, “man” and Tiwaz, “Tyr, the god”.

In the late Icelandic Eddas, Týr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda. 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 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.

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. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically.

In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. 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. In the same source, her appearance is described as half blue and half flesh-coloured and further as having a gloomy, downcast appearance.

The Prose Edda details that Hel rules over vast mansions with many servants in her underworld realm and plays a key role in the attempted resurrection of the god Baldr.

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.

Nergal and Ereshkigal

Nergal was a deity worshipped throughout Mesopotamia (Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia) with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. He is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta.

Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person.

In 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.

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”.

The worship of Nergal does not appear to have spread as widely as that of Ninurta, a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war, but in the late Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused the two divinities, which were invoked together as if they were identical.

Nergal’s chief temple at Cuthah bore the name Meslam, from which the god receives the designation of Meslamtaeda or Meslamtaea, “the one that rises up from Meslam”.

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 is the sister and counterpart of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year. Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. The main temple dedicated to her was located in Kutha. It was said that she had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly.

Inanna was associated with the planet Venus. Her symbol is an eight-pointed star or a rosette. She was associated with lions – even then a symbol of power – and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. Her cuneiform ideogram was a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds, representing the doorpost of the storehouse (and thus fertility and plenty).

Ereshkigal is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines which date back to the Mesopotamia period. According to the doctrine of two kingdoms, the dominions of the two sisters are sharply differentiated, as one is of this world and one of the world of the dead.

The goddess Ishtar refers to Ereshkigal as her older sister in the Sumerian hymn “The Descent of Inanna” (which was also in later Babylonian myth, also called “The Descent of Ishtar”). Inanna’s trip and return to the underworld is the most familiar of the myths concerning Ereshkigal.

Dyeus-Dis Pater

Dyēus is believed to have been the chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. Part of a larger pantheon, he was the god of the daylight sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society. In his aspect as a father god, his consort would have been Pltwih2 Méh2ter[citation needed], “earth mother”.

Rooted in the related but distinct Indo-European word *deiwos is the Latin word for deity, deus. The Latin word is also continued in English divine, “deity”, and the original Germanic word remains visible in “Tuesday” (“Day of Tīwaz”) and Old Norse tívar, which may be continued in the toponym Tiveden (“Wood of the Gods”, or of Týr).

Dīs Pater was a Roman god of the underworld, later subsumed by Pluto or Hades (Hades was Greek). Originally a chthonic god of riches, fertile agricultural land, and underground mineral wealth, he was later commonly equated with the Roman deities Pluto and Orcus, becoming an underworld deity.

Cicero in his De Natura Deorum derives the name of Dīs Pater from dives, suggesting a meaning of “father of riches”, directly corresponding to the name Pluto (from Greek Ploutōn, meaning “wealthy”). Alternatively, he may be a secondary reflex of the same god as Jupiter (Proto-Indo-European Dyeus Ph₂ter).

According to some 19th century authors many of Cicero’s etymological derivations are not to be taken seriously, and may indeed have been intended ironically, however, this particular derivation of Cicero’s has been accepted by some contemporary authors, some even suggesting that Dīs Pater is a direct loan translation of Ploutōn.

Mars – Nerio and Venus

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people. The Spear of Mars, which represents the spear and shield of Mars, is also the symbol for the planet Mars and Male gender.

In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia. His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.

He was second in importance only to Jupiter and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming.

The consort of Mars was Nerio or Nerine, “Valor.” She represents the vital force (vis), power (potentia) and majesty (maiestas) of Mars. Her name was regarded as Sabine in origin and is equivalent to Latin virtus, “manly virtue” (from vir, “man”).

Nerio probably originates as a divine personification of Mars’ power, as such abstractions in Latin are generally feminine. Her name appears with that of Mars in an archaic prayer invoking a series of abstract qualities, each paired with the name of a deity. The influence of Greek mythology and its anthropomorphic gods may have caused Roman writers to treat these pairs as “marriages.”

A source from late antiquity says that Mars and Nerine were celebrated together at a festival held on March 23. In the later Roman Empire, Nerine came to be identified with Minerva.

Like Ares who was the son of Zeus and Hera, Mars is usually considered to be the son of Jupiter and Juno. However, in a version of his birth given by Ovid, he was the son of Juno alone.

Jupiter had usurped the mother’s function when he gave birth to Minerva directly from his forehead (or mind); to restore the balance, Juno sought the advice of the goddess Flora, a Sabine-derived goddess of flowers and of the season of spring – a symbol for nature and flowers (especially the may-flower), on how to do the same.

While she was otherwise a relatively minor figure in Roman mythology, being one among several fertility goddesses, her association with the spring gave her particular importance at the coming of springtime, as did her role as goddess of youth.

Flora obtained a magic flower (Latin flos, plural flores, a masculine word) and tested it on a heifer who became fecund at once. She then plucked a flower ritually using her thumb, touched Juno’s belly, and impregnated her. Juno withdrew to Thrace and the shore of Marmara for the birth.

The March equinox on the 20th or 21st marks the astronomical beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, where September is the seasonal equivalent of the Northern Hemisphere’s March.

Martius remained the first month of the Roman calendar year perhaps as late as 153 BC, and several religious observances in the first half of the month were originally new year’s celebrations. Even in late antiquity, Roman mosaics picturing the months sometimes still placed March first.

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On the etymology of man

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 20, 2016

The term man (from Proto-Germanic *mannaz or *manwaz “man, person”) and words derived from it can designate any or even all of the human race regardless of their sex or age.

The word developed into Old English man, mann meaning primarily “adult male human” but secondarily capable of designating a person of unspecified gender, “someone, one” or humanity at large (see also German man, Old Norse maðr, Gothic manna “man”).

More restricted English terms for an adult male were wer (cognate: Latin vir; survives as the first element in “werewolf”) and guma (cognate: Latin homo; survives as the second element in “bridegroom”).

In Old English the words wer and wīf (and wīfmann) were used to refer to “a man” and “a woman” respectively, while mann had the primary meaning of “adult male human” but could also be used for gender neutral purposes (as is the case with modern German man, corresponding to the pronoun in the English utterance “one does what one must”).

However, man in traditional usage (without an article) refers to the species, to humanity, or “mankind”, as a whole. The usage persists in all registers of English although it has an old-fashioned tone.

Equating the term for the male with the whole species is common in many languages, for example in French (l’Homme). On the other hand, some languages have a general word for ‘human individual’ which can apply to people of either gender. German has the general word Mensch, but Mann for (adult) male person; Latin has the general word homo and for males the word vir.

It is derived from a Proto-Indo-European root *man- (see Sanskrit/Avestan manu-, Slavic mǫž “man, male”). The Slavic forms (Russian muzh “man, male” etc.) are derived from a suffixed stem *man-gyo-.

Some etymologies treat the root as an independent one, as does the American Heritage Dictionary. Of the etymologies that do make connections with other Indo-European roots, man “the thinker” is the most traditional — that is, the word is connected with the root *men- “to think” (cognate to mind).

This etymology relies on humans describing themselves as “those who think” (see Human self-reflection). This etymology, however, is not generally accepted. A second potential etymology connects with Latin manus (“hand”), which has the same form as Sanskrit manus.

Another speculative etymology postulates the reduction of the ancestor of “human” to the ancestor of “man”. Human is from *dhghem-, “earth”, thus implying *(dh)ghom-on- would be an “earthdweller”. The latter word, when reduced to just its final syllable, would be merely *m-on-.

This is the view of Eric Partridge, Origins, under man. Such a derivation might be credible if only the Germanic form was known, but the attested Indo-Iranian manu virtually excludes the possibility. Moreover, *(dh)ghom-on- is known to have survived in Old English not as mann but as guma, the ancestor of the second element of the Modern English word bridegroom.

In the late twentieth century, the generic meaning of “man” declined (but is also continued in compounds “mankind”, “everyman”, “no-man”, etc.). The same thing has happened to the Latin word homo: in most of the Romance languages, homme, uomo, om, hombre, homem have come to refer mainly to males, with a residual generic meaning.

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Dyeus / Dis Pater and Pltwih Méhter (“earth mother”) – Sacred Marriage or Chaoskampf – Eva or Lilith

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 19, 2016

The original hierarchy of Anunnaki designations runs in increments of five from 5 to 60, allowing space for the “Olympian Twelve” to be plotted thereupon. The Sumerian Anunnaki Pantheon of Twelve consists of Anu (60), Antu (55), Enlil (50), Ninlil (45), Enki (40), Ninki-Damkina (35), Nanna (30), Ningal (25), Shammash (20), Inanna-Ishtar (15), Ishkur-Adad (10) and Ninhursag-Ninmah (5).

– Sky: An-Uranus (Caelus)

– Height and distance: Enlil

Ninurta – Chronus (Saturn)

Nergal – Ares (Mars), Hades (Pluto) 

– World order: Enki/Nabu-Hermes (Mercury)

– Moon: Nanna-Selene/Artemis (Luna/Diana)

– Sun: Shamash- Helios/Apollo (Sol/Apollo)

– Thunder: Ishkur/Marduk-Zeus (Jupiter)

When Enlil rose to equal or surpass An in authority, the functions of the two deities came to some extent to overlap. An was also sometimes equated with Amurru, and, in Seleucid Uruk, with Enmešara (Nergal) and Dumuzi.

Dingir

Dingir is a Sumerian word for “god.” Its cuneiform sign is most commonly employed as the determinative for “deity” although it has related meanings as well. The sign in Sumerian cuneiform (DIĜIR) 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.

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

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

Deus

Latin deus consistently translates Greek theos in both the Vetus Latina and Jerome’s Vulgate. In the Septuagint, Greek theos in turn renders Hebrew Elohim. The word de-us is the root of Deity, and thereby of deism, pandeism, panendeism, and polydeism, ironically all of which are theories in which any divine figure is absent from intervening in human affairs.

Dyeus

Dyēus is believed to have been the chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. Part of a larger pantheon, he was the god of the daylight sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society. In his aspect as a father god, his consort would have been Pltwih Méhter, “earth mother”.

Dis Pater

Dīs Pater was a Roman god of the underworld, later subsumed by Pluto or Hades (Hades was Greek). Originally a chthonic god of riches, fertile agricultural land, and underground mineral wealth, he was later commonly equated with the Roman deities Pluto and Orcus, becoming an underworld deity.

Cicero in his De Natura Deorum derives the name of Dīs Pater from dives, suggesting a meaning of “father of riches”, directly corresponding to the name Pluto (from Greek Ploutōn, meaning “wealthy”). Alternatively, he may be a secondary reflex of the same god as Jupiter (Proto-Indo-European Dyeus Phter).

According to some 19th century authors many of Cicero’s etymological derivations are not to be taken seriously, and may indeed have been intended ironically, however, this particular derivation of Cicero’s has been accepted by some contemporary authors, some even suggesting that Dīs Pater is a direct loan translation of Ploutōn.

Plutus (Greek: Ploutos, literally “wealth”) was the god of wealth in ancient Greek religion and myth. He was the son of Demeter and Iasion, with whom she lay in a thrice-ploughed field. In the theology of the Eleusinian Mysteries he was regarded as the “Divine Child.” His relation to the classical ruler of the underworld Pluto, with whom he is often conflated, is complex, as Pluto was also a god of wealth and money.

In the philosophized mythology of the later Classical period, Plutus is envisaged by Aristophanes as blinded by Zeus, so that he would be able to dispense his gifts without prejudice; he is also lame, as he takes his time arriving, and winged, so he leaves faster than he came. When the god’s sight is restored, in Aristophanes’ comedy, he is then able to determine who is deserving of wealth, creating havoc.

Among the Eleusinian figures painted on Greek ceramics, regardless of whether he is depicted as child or youthful ephebe, Plutus can be identified as the one bearing the cornucopia—horn of plenty. In later allegorical bas-reliefs, Plutus is depicted as a boy in the arms of Eirene, as Prosperity is the gift of “Peace”, or in the arms of Tyche, the Fortune of Cities.

In being conflated with Pluto, Dīs Pater took on some of the Greek mythological attributes of Pluto/Hades, being one of the three sons of Saturn (Greek: Cronus) and Ops (Greek: Rhea), along with Jupiter and Neptune. He ruled the underworld and the dead beside his wife, Proserpina (Greek: Persephone). In literature, Dīs Pater was commonly used as a symbolic and poetic way of referring to death itself.

It is often thought that Dīs Pater was also a Celtic god. This confusion arises from the second-hand citation of one of Julius Caesar’s comments in his Commentaries on the Gallic Wars VI:18, where he says that the Gauls all claimed descent from Dīs Pater.

However, Caesar’s remark is a clear example of interpretatio Romana: what Caesar meant was that the Gauls all claimed descent from a Gaulish god that reminded him of the Roman Dīs Pater, that is, a chthonic deity associated with prosperity and fertility.

Soranus

In addition to being considered the ancestor of the Gauls, Dīs Pater was sometimes identified with the Sabine god Soranus, worshipped on Mt. Soracte in Etruria. The area was sacred to underworld gods, such as Dis Pater.

The worshippers of Apollo Soranus, after his cult had been subsumed by Apollo, were called Hirpi Sorani (“wolves of Soranus”, from Sabine hirpus “wolf”). They were firewalkers and carried about the entrails of the victims during ceremonies.

Soranus was identified with Dis, the Roman god of the underworld, or with Apollo, a Greek god adopted by the Romans, and had a female partner, Feronia, a goddess associated with wildlife, fertility, health and abundance, whose sanctuary was located next to his.

Libertas – Liber and Libera

Varro identified Feronia with Libertas, the goddess who personified Liberty. According to Servius, Feronia was a tutelary goddess of freedmen (dea libertorum). Slaves who had just been freed might go to the shrine at Terracina and receive upon their shaved heads the pileus, a brimless, felt cap worn in Ancient Greece and surrounding regions, later also introduced in Ancient Rome, that symbolized their liberty.

The pileus was especially associated with the manumission of slaves, who wore it upon their liberation. It became emblematic of liberty and freedom from bondage. During the classic revival of the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe it was widely confused with the Phrygian cap, (a similarly conical cap but which has the point softened and pulled forward) which, in turn, appeared frequently on statuary and heraldic devices as a “liberty cap.”

The fictional characters Columbia of the United States and Marianne of France, the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor and many other characters and concepts of the modern age were created, and are seen, as embodiments of Libertas.

The goddess Libertas is also depicted on the Great Seal of France, created in 1848. This is the image which later influenced French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi in the creation of his statue of Liberty Enlightening the World.

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.

The Liberalia (17 March) is the festival of Liber Pater and his consort Libera. The Romans celebrated Liberalia with sacrifices, processions, ribald and gauche songs, and masks which were hung on trees.

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, 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 with male fertility.

In ancient Roman religion and mythology, Liber (“the free one”; Latin: Līber), also known as Liber Pater (“the free Father”) was a god of viticulture and wine, fertility and freedom. He was a patron deity of Rome’s plebeians and was part of their Aventine Triad.

His festival of Liberalia (March 17) became associated with free speech and the rights attached to coming of age. His cult and functions were increasingly associated with Romanised forms of the Greek Dionysus/Bacchus whose mythology he came to share.

In ancient Lavinium, he was a phallic deity. Latin liber means “free”, or the “free one”: when coupled with “pater”, it means “The Free Father”, who personifies freedom and champions its attendant rights, as opposed to dependent servitude.

Aericura

In southern Germany and the Balkans, Dīs Pater had a Celtic goddess, Aericura (also found as Herecura or Eracura), as a consort. Aerecura was a goddess worshipped in ancient times, often thought to be Celtic in origin, mostly represented with the attributes of Proserpina and associated with the Roman underworld god Dis Pater, as on an altar from Sulzbach.

Besides her chthonic symbols, she is often depicted with such attributes of fertility as the cornucopia (from Latin cornu copiae) or horn of plenty, a symbol of abundance and nourishment, commonly a large horn-shaped container overflowing with produce, flowers or nuts, and apple baskets.

She is depicted in a seated posture, wearing a full robe and bearing trays or baskets of fruit, in depictions from Cannstatt and Sulzbach. Miranda Green calls Aericura a “Gaulish Hecuba”, while Noémie Beck characterizes her as a “land-goddess” sharing both underworld and fertility aspects with Dis Pater.

Jona Lendering notes the similarity between her iconography and that of Nehalennia, who was worshipped in Germania Inferior, while Beck sees no significant difference between her attributes and those of the Matres and Matronae.

Geographically, the areas in which Erecura and Dis Pater were worshipped appear to be in complementary distribution with those where the cult of Sucellus and Nantosuelta is attested, and Beck suggests that these cults were functionally similar although iconographically distinct.

Sucellus  is usually portrayed as a middle-aged bearded man, with a long-handled hammer, or perhaps a beer barrel suspended from a pole. His companion Nantosuelta is sometimes depicted alongside him. When together, they are accompanied by symbols associated with prosperity and domesticity.

Hera

The theonym of Aerecura is of unclear origin. It has been connected with Latin aes, aeris ‘copper, bronze, money, wealth’, era ‘mistress’ and the name of the Greek goddess Hera, the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Hera’s mother is Rhea and her father, Cronus.

Portrayed as majestic and solemn, often enthroned, and crowned with the polos (a high cylindrical crown worn by several of the Great Goddesses), Hera may bear a pomegranate in her hand, emblem of fertile blood and death and a substitute for the narcotic capsule of the opium poppy.

The polos crown (plural poloi) is a high cylindrical crown worn by mythological goddesses of the Ancient Near East and Anatolia and adopted by the ancient Greeks for imaging the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele and Hera. The word also meant an axis or pivot and is cognate with the English, ‘pole’. It was often open at the top with hair cascading down from the sides, or it could be reduced to a ring.

The name of Hera admits a variety of mutually exclusive etymologies; one possibility is to connect it with Greek hōra, season, and to interpret it as ripe for marriage and according to Plato eratē, “beloved” as Zeus is said to have married her for love.

Persephone

In Greek mythology, Persephone, also called Kore or Cora (“the maiden”), is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter, and is the queen of the underworld. Homer describes her as the formidable, venerable majestic princess of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. Persephone was married to 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 the mystical theories of the Orphics and the Platonists, Kore is described as the all-pervading goddess of nature who both produces and destroys everything and she is therefore mentioned along or identified with other mystic divinities such as Isis, Rhea, Ge, Hestia, Pandora, Artemis, and Hecate. The Orphic Persephone is further said to have become by Zeus the mother of Dionysus, Iacchus, Zagreus, and the little-attested Melinoe.

Persephone as a vegetation goddess and her mother Demeter were the central figures of the Eleusinian mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon and promised the initiated a more enjoyable prospect after death. Persephone is further said to have become by Zeus the mother of Dionysus, Iacchus, or Zagreus, usually in orphic tradition. The origins of her cult are uncertain, but it was based on very old agrarian cults of agricultural communities.

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

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

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

Korybantes – Galli

According to the Greek mythology, the Korybantes were the armed and crested dancers who worshipped the Phrygian goddess Cybele with drumming and dancing. They are also called the Kurbantes in Phrygia. The conventional English equivalent is “Corybants”. The Korybantes were the offspring of Thalia and Apollo.

A Gallus (pl. Galli) was a eunuch priest of the Phrygian goddess Cybele and her consort Attis, whose worship was incorporated into the state religious practices of ancient Rome.

The term Gallus is also a multiple pun in Latin, meaning a Gaul, or a rooster, as well as a castrated priest. According to the rabbins the emblem of Nergal was a cock and Nergal means a “dunghill cock”, although standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion.

While these efforts at “folk” etymologies were widespread in classical times, it has been suggested that gallu comes from the Sumerian Gal meaning “great” and Lu meaning “man”, humans or sexually ambivalent demons that freed Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre, from the underworld.

In Sumerian and Akkadian (Babylonian and Assyrian) mythology, the Gallus (also called gallu demons or gallas[Akkadian: gallû]) were great demons/devils of the underworld.

Gallu demons hauled unfortunate victims off to the underworld. They were one of seven devils (or “the offspring of hell”) of Babylonian theology that could be appeased by the sacrifice of a lamb at their altars.

Inanna (or Ishtar) was freed by gallu demons sent by Enki while she was on a journey to the underworld. An especially fierce gallu demon, the monstrous Asag, was slain by Ninurta using the enchanted mace Sharur. The word gallu may also refer to a human adversary, one that is dangerous and implacable.

The Gala (Akkadian: kalû) were priests of the Sumerian goddess Inanna, significant numbers of the personnel of both temples and palaces, the central institutions of Mesopotamian city states, individuals with neither male nor female gender identities.

These priests played the tympanum and were involved in bull sacrifice. According to an old Babylonian text, Enki created the gala specifically to sing “heart-soothing laments” for the goddess Inanna.

Another category of Mesopotamian priests called assinnu, galatur, and kurgarru had a sacred function. These transgender or eunuch priests participated in liturgical rites, during which they were costumed and masked. They played music, sang, and danced, most often in ceremonies dedicated to the goddess Inanna.

An

An (Akkadian: Anu, from An “sky, heaven”) is the earliest attested Sky Father deity. In Sumerian religion, he was also “King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven”, where Anu himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions.

An was believed to have the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and to have created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the Royal Tiara. His attendant and vizier was the god Ilabrat.

Anu existed in Sumerian cosmogony as a dome that covered the flat earth. In Sumerian, the designation “An” was used interchangeably with “the heavens” so that in some cases it is doubtful whether, under the term, the god An or the heavens is being denoted.

The Akkadians inherited An as the god of heavens from the Sumerian as Anu-, and in Akkadian cuneiform, the DINGIR character may refer either to Anum or to the Akkadian word for god, ilu-, and consequently had two phonetic values an and il. Hittite cuneiform as adapted from the Old Assyrian kept the an value but abandoned il.

Nammu

Outside of the dome that covered the flat earth was the primordial body of water known as Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR), a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology in later tradition, namely in Enūma eliš. However, there are significant differences in the way the goddesses are portrayed in the literature.

Because this goddess’s name is written with sign for “(cosmic) subterranean waters” (Sumerian: Engur) she has been called the “Cosmic Ocean”. She 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. She is not well attested in Sumerian mythology.

Nammu, singled out as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity, is the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”. No husband or male god is attested in connection with Namma, thus leading to the belief that “the first cosmic production is asexual”.

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.

She is mainly known for her role in the cosmogony of early Mesopotamia and her importance in magic. Namma bears the title “mother who gave birth to the heavens and the earth.” In the Sumerian poem of Enki and Ninmah Namma is called the “original mother who gave birth to the gods of the universe”, again according her primary status among all the gods and describing her role in Mesopotamian cosmogony.

Tiamat

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

She 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.

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. Tiamat also has been claimed to be cognate with Northwest Semitic tehom (the deeps, abyss), in the Book of Genesis 1:2.

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.

 

Tablet of Destinies

In Mesopotamian mythology, the Tablet of Destinies (Sumerian: Dup Shimati; not, as frequently misquoted in general works, the Tablets of Destiny) was envisaged as a clay tablet inscribed with cuneiform writing, also impressed with cylinder seals, which, as a permanent legal document, conferred upon the god Enlil his supreme authority as ruler of the universe.

In the Sumerian poem Ninurta and the Turtle it is the god Enki, rather than Enlil, who holds the tablet. Both this poem and the Akkadian Anzû poem share concern of the theft of the tablet by the bird Imdugud (Sumerian) or Anzû (Akkadian). Supposedly, whoever possessed the tablet ruled the universe.

In the Babylonian Enuma Elish, Tiamat possessed the Tablet of Destinies and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, also spelled Qingu, meaning “unskilled laborer,” the deity she had chosen as her lover and to establish him as ruler and leader of of all gods, and who was also one of her children. Modern-day Aries was known as MULLÚ.ḪUN.GÁ, “The Agrarian Worker” or “The Hired Man”.

Tiamat placed Kingu as the general of her army. The deities gathered in terror, but Anu, first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear.

However, like Tiamat, Kingu was eventually killed by Marduk. Marduk, the chosen champion of the gods, then fights and destroys Tiamat and her army. Marduk reclaims the Tablet of Destinies for himself, thereby strengthening his rule among the gods.

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

Anu was replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Enki. the battle between Marduk and Tiamat has a number of parallels to the battle between Ninurta and Anzu.

Ninurta was a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war. 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.

He was worshipped in Babylonia and Assyria and in Lagash he was identified with the city god Ningirsu. In older transliteration the name is rendered Ninib and Ninip, and in early commentary he was sometimes portrayed as a solar deity.

In Nippur, Ninurta was worshiped as part of a triad of deities including his father, Enlil and his mother, Ninlil. In variant mythology, his mother is said to be the harvest goddess Ninhursag. The consort of Ninurta was Ugallu in Nippur and Bau when he was called Ningirsu.

Ninurta often appears holding a bow and arrow, a sickle sword, or a mace named Sharur: Sharur is capable of speech in the Sumerian legend “Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and can take the form of a winged lion and may represent an archetype for the later Shedu.

In the late neo-Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused Ninurta’s character with that of Nergal. The two gods were often invoked together, and spoken of as if they were one divinity.

In the astral-theological system Ninurta was associated with the planet Saturn, or perhaps as offspring or an aspect of Saturn. In his capacity as a farmer-god, there are similarities between Ninurta and the Greek Titan Kronos, whom the Romans in turn identified with their Titan Saturn.

In a legend, Ninurta battles a birdlike monster called Imdugud (Akkadian: Anzû); a Babylonian version relates how the monster Anzû steals the Tablets of Destiny from Enlil. The Tablets of Destiny were believed to contain the details of fate and the future.

The creation

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

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

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

In Norse mythology, Ymir, Aurgelmir, Brimir, or Bláinn is the ancestor of all jötnar. The gods Odin, Vili and Vé fashioned the Earth (elsewhere personified as a goddess; Jörð) from his flesh, from his blood the ocean, from his bones the hills, from his hair the trees, from his brains the clouds, from his skull the heavens, and from his eyebrows the middle realm in which mankind lives, Midgard. In addition, one stanza relates that the dwarfs were given life by the gods from Ymir’s flesh and blood (or the Earth and sea).

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

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

Pangu began creating the world: he separated Yin from Yang with a swing of his giant axe, creating the Earth (murky Yin) and the Sky (clear Yang). To keep them separated, Pangu stood between them and pushed up the Sky. With each day the sky grew ten feet (3 meters) higher, the Earth ten feet thicker, and Pangu ten feet taller. In some versions of the story, Pangu is aided in this task by the four most prominent beasts, namely the Turtle, the Qilin, the Phoenix, and the Dragon.

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

Aegis

Tiamat gave Kingu the 3 Tablets of Destiny, which he wore as a breastplate and which gave him great power. The aegis or aigis, as stated in the Iliad, is carried by Athena and Zeus, but its nature is uncertain. It had been interpreted as an animal skin or a shield, sometimes bearing the head of a Gorgon. According to Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, the Aegis is the breastplate of Zeus, and was “awful to behold”.

Virgil imagines the Cyclopes in Hephaestus’ forge, who “busily burnished the aegis Athena wears in her angry moods—a fearsome thing with a surface of gold like scaly snake-skin, and the linked serpents and the Gorgon herself upon the goddess’s breast—a severed head rolling its eyes”, furnished with golden tassels and bearing the Gorgoneion (Medusa’s head) in the central boss.

Some of the Attic vase-painters retained an archaic tradition that the tassels had originally been serpents in their representations of the aegis. When the Olympian deities overtook the older deities of Greece and she was born of Metis (inside Zeus who had swallowed the goddess) and “re-born” through the head of Zeus fully clothed, Athena already wore her typical garments.

The modern concept of doing something “under someone’s aegis” means doing something under the protection of a powerful, knowledgeable, or benevolent source. The word aegis is identified with protection by a strong force with its roots in Greek mythology and adopted by the Romans; there are parallels in Norse mythology and in Egyptian mythology as well, where the Greek word aegis is applied by extension.

The original meaning may have been the first, and Zeus Aigiokhos = “Zeus who holds the aegis” may have originally meant “Sky/Heaven, who holds the thunderstorm”. The transition to the meaning “shield” or “goatskin” may have come by folk etymology among a people familiar with draping an animal skin over the left arm as a shield.

The aegis also appears in Egyptian mythology. The goddess Bastet sometimes was depicted holding a ceremonial sistrum in one hand and an aegis in the other – the aegis usually resembling a collar or gorget embellished with a lioness head. Plato drew a parallel between Athene and the ancient Libyan and Egyptian goddess Neith, a war deity who also was depicted carrying a shield.

In Norse mythology, the dragon Fafnir (best known in the form of a dragon slain by Sigurðr) bears on his forehead the ægishjálmr “Ægir’s helmet” or “Helm of Terror”. However, some versions would say that Alberich was the one holding a helm called the Tarnkappe that functioned as a cloak of invisibility. It may be an actual helmet or a magical sign with a rather poetic name.

Ægir is an Old Norse word meaning “terror” and the name of a destructive jötunn associated with the sea; ægis is the genitive case of ægir (and has no direct relation to Greek aigis).

Kursa

One current interpretation is that the Hittite sacral hieratic hunting bag (kursas), a rough and shaggy goatskin that has been firmly established in literary texts and iconography by H.G. Güterbock, was a source of the aegis.

The peoples of ancient Anatolia worshiped, it was said, a kursa, a sacred skin, that was fashioned into a bag and served as as symbol of the deity. This sacred sack could be made of ox, sheep, or goat hide. The kursa was filled with objects signifying abundance, including fertility symbols. Some special kursas were covered with copper or bronze appliques, while others were made of cloth.

Some believe that originally the kursa was itself worshiped as a god, while others maintain that the kursa was the symbol of one or more deities. By the Hittite period, the kursa was seen as the hunting bag of a deity such as the weather god (Tarhun/Teshub) or the war god. (One kursa was hung in the war god’s temple, just as the Fleece sometimes was said to hang in the temple of Ares/Mars.)

It became the centerpiece of the New Year’s festival known as purulli. In this festival, the story of Teshub’s battle with the dragon was recited, and a sacred marriage between stand-ins for Teshub and his wife was performed in the presence of the kursa.

According to the Hittite Etymological Dictionary (1997), the word kursa referred specifically to “skin” as opposed to “fleece” but could be connected to the talismanic power of sheepskin as evidenced by Golden Fleece myths (s.v. kursa).

The theogony

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.

Kumarbi is known from a number of mythological Hittite texts, sometimes summarized under the term “Kumarbi Cycle”. These texts notably include the myth of The Kingship in Heaven (also known as the Song of Kumarbi, or the “Hittite Theogony”, the Song of Ullikummi, the Kingship of the God KAL, the Myth of the dragon Hedammu, the Song of Silver.

The Song of Kumarbi or Kingship in Heaven is the title given to a Hittite version of the Hurrian Kumarbi myth, dating to the 14th or 13th century BC. It is preserved in three tablets, but only a small fraction of the text is legible.

The song relates that Alalu 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. 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, in which Cronus displaces Uranus, and Zeus in turn displaces Cronus.

Hursag – Ninlil (Lilith)/Ninhursag

Hursag (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”.

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

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

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

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

Sacred Marriage

Sacred prostitution was common in the Ancient Near East as a form of “Sacred Marriage” or hieros gamos between the king of a Sumerian city-state and the High Priestess of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare.

Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers there were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The temple of Eanna, meaning “house of heaven” in Uruk was the greatest of these. The temple housed Nadītu, priestesses of the goddess.

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

Chaoskampf 

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

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

Early work by German academics such as Gunkel and Bousset in comparative mythology popularized translating the mythological sea serpent as a “dragon.” Indo-European examples of this mythic trope include Thor vs. Jörmungandr (Norse), Tarhunt vs. Illuyanka (Hittite), Indra vs. Vritra (Vedic), Fereydun vs. Aži Dahāka (Avestan), and Zeus vs. Typhon (Greek) among others.

Akitu

Akitu or Akitum (Sumerian: ezen á.ki.tum, akiti-šekinku, á.ki.ti.še.gur.ku, lit. “the barley-cutting”, akiti-šununum, lit. “barley-sowing”; Akkadian: akituor rêš-šattim, “head of the year”) was a spring festival in ancient Mesopotamia. The Babylonian Akitu festival has played a pivotal role in the development of theories of religion, myth and ritual, yet the purpose of the festival remains a point of contention among both historians of religion and Assyriologists.

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

 

Ma (Mother) / Ama (Freedom)

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

She was associated with the underworld. Her astrological embodiment is the constellation Scorpio and she is called the mother of the Sebitti (the Seven Stars). Ishara was well known in Syria from the third millennium B.C. She became a great goddess of the Hurrian population.

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

Mami is a goddess in the Babylonian epic Atra-Hasis and in other creation legends. She was probably synonymous with Ninhursag. She was involved in the creation of humankind from clay and blood.

As Nintu legends states she pinched off fourteen pieces of primordial clay which she formed into womb deities, seven on the left and seven on the right with a brick between them, who produced the first seven pairs of human embryos.

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

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

In Sumerian mythology, Kur is considered the first dragon, and usually referred to the Zagros mountains to the east of Sumer. The cuneiform for “kur” was written ideographically with the pictograph of a mountain. It can also mean “foreign land”. Kur is almost identical with “Ki-gal”, “Great Land” which is the Underworld (thus the ruler of the Underworld is Ereshkigal “Goddess of The Great Land”.

Although the word for earth was Ki, Kur came to also mean land, and Sumer itself, was called “Kur-gal” or “Great Land”. “Kur-gal” also means “Great Mountain” and is a metonym for both Nippur and Enlil who rules from that city. Ekur, “mountain house” was the temple of Enlil at Nippur. A second, popular meaning of Kur was “underworld”, or the world under the earth.

Kur was sometimes the home of the dead, it is possible that the flames on escaping gas plumes in parts of the Zagros mountains would have given those mountains a meaning not entirely consistent with the primary meaning of mountains and an abode of a god. The eastern mountains as an abode of the god with the farther East as the origin of all gods was popular in Ancient Near Eastern mythology.

The underworld Kur is the void space between the primeval sea (Abzu) and the earth (Ma). Which seem a likely pairing for parentage, in a fuzzy set of records. Ma was a local goddess at Ma and a Phrygian alternative name for Cybele.

Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubeleyan Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”) is an Anatolian mother goddess; she has a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük, where the statue of a pregnant, seated goddess was found in a granary.

She is Phrygia’s only known goddess, and was probably its state deity. Her Phrygian cult was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor and spread to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies around the 6th century BCE.

In Greece, Cybele met with a mixed reception. She was partially assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia, her Minoan equivalent Rhea, and the Harvest-Mother goddess Demeter. Some city-states, notably Athens, evoked her as a protector, but her most celebrated Greek rites and processions show her as an essentially foreign, exotic mystery-goddess who arrives in a lion-drawn chariot to the accompaniment of wild music, wine, and a disorderly, ecstatic following.

Uniquely in Greek religion, she had a eunuch mendicant priesthood. Many of her Greek cults included rites to a divine Phrygian castrate shepherd-consort Attis, who was probably a Greek invention. In Greece, Cybele is associated with mountains, town and city walls, fertile nature, and wild animals, especially lions.

Comana was a city of Cappadocia and later Cataonia (Latin: Comana Cataoniae; frequently called Comana Chryse or Aurea, i.e. “the golden”, to distinguish it from Comana in Pontus). The Hittite toponym Kummanni, the name of the main center the Anatolian kingdom of Kizzuwatna.

It is considered likely to refer to Comana, but the identification is not considered proven. Its ruins are at the modern Turkish village of Şar (tr), Tufanbeyli district, Adana Province. Kummanni was the major cult center of the Hurrian chief deity, Tešup. Its Hurrian name Kummeni simply translates as “The Shrine.”

The city persisted into the Early Iron Age, and appears as Kumme in Assyrian records. It was located on the edge of Assyrian influence in the far northeastern corner of Mesopotamia, separating Assyria from Urartu and the highlands of southeastern Anatolia. Kumme was still considered a holy city in Assyrian times, both in Assyria and in Urartu.

Adad-nirari II, after re-conquering the city, made sacrifices to “Adad of Kumme.” The three chief deities in the Urartian pantheon were “the god of Ardini, the god of Kumenu, and the god of Tushpa.” 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.

Hadad, Adad, Haddad (Akkadian) or Iškur (Sumerian) was the storm and rain god in the Northwest Semitic and ancient Mesopotamian religions. It was attested in Ebla as “Hadda” in c. 2500 BC.

From the Levant, Hadad was introduced to Mesopotamia by the Amorites, where it became known as the Akkadian (Assyrian-Babylonian) god Adad. Adad and Iškur are usually written with the logogram dIM. Hadad was also called “Pidar”, “Rapiu”, “Baal-Zephon”, or often simply Baʿal (Lord), but this title was also used for other gods.

The bull was the symbolic animal of Hadad. He appeared bearded, often holding a club and thunderbolt while wearing a bull-horned headdress. Hadad was equated with the Indo-European Nasite Hittite storm-god Teshub; the Egyptian god Set; the Rigvedic god Indra; the Greek god Zeus; the Roman god Jupiter, as Jupiter Dolichenus.

In religious texts, Ba‘al/Hadad is the lord of the sky who governs the rain and thus the germination of plants with the power of his desire that they be fertile. He is the protector of life and growth to the agricultural people of the region. The absence of Ba‘al causes dry spells, starvation, death, and chaos.

According to ancient geographers, Comana was situated in Cappadocia (and later Cataonia). Another epithet for the city, found in inscriptions, is Hieropolis ‘sacred city’, owing to a famous temple of the Syrian Moon goddess Enyo or, in the local language: Ma (cf. Men, the moon goddess of Caria).

Strabo and Julius Caesar visited it; the former enters into long details about its position in a deep valley on the Sarus (Seihoun) river. The temple and its fame in ancient times as the place where the rites of Ma-Enyo, a variety of the great west Asian nature-goddess, were celebrated with much solemnity.

Maat or Ma’at (meaning “(world-) order” or “harmony”) was the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice. Maat was also personified as a goddess regulating the stars, seasons, and the actions of both mortals and the deities, who set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation. Pharaohs are often depicted with the emblems of Maat to emphasise their role in upholding the laws of the Creator.

Her ideological counterpart was Isfet or Asfet, meaning “injustice”, “chaos”, or “violence”; as a verb, “to do evil”, an ancient Egyptian term from Egyptian mythology used in philosophy, which was built on a religious, social and political affected dualism.

The earliest surviving records indicating that Maat is the norm for nature and society, in this world and the next, were recorded during the Old Kingdom, the earliest substantial surviving examples being found in the Pyramid Texts of Unas (ca. 2375 BCE and 2345 BCE).

Later, as a goddess in other traditions of the Egyptian pantheon, where most goddesses were paired with a male aspect, her masculine counterpart was Thoth, as their attributes are similar. In other accounts, Thoth was paired off with Seshat, goddess of writing and measure, who is a lesser known deity.

After her role in creation and continuously preventing the universe from returning to chaos, her primary role in Egyptian mythology dealt with the weighing of souls (also called the weighing of the heart) that took place in the underworld, Duat. Her feather was the measure that determined whether the souls (considered to reside in the heart) of the departed would reach the paradise of afterlife successfully.

In ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth. Her cult titles include Sito, “she of the Grain”, as the giver of food or grain, and Thesmophoros (thesmos: divine order, unwritten law; phoros: bringer, bearer), “Law-Bringer,” as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society.

Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sacred law, and the cycle of life and death. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon. In the Linear B Mycenean Greek tablets of circa 1400–1200 BC found at Pylos, the “two mistresses and the king” may be related with Demeter, Persephone and Poseidon. Her Roman equivalent is Ceres.

Ama-gi or ama-ar-gi is a Sumerian word translated as “freedom”, as well as “manumission”, “exemption from debts or obligations”, and “the restoration of persons and property to their original status” including the remission of debts. Other interpretations include a “reversion to a previous state” and release from debt, slavery, taxation or punishment.

The word originates from the noun ama “mother” (sometimes with the enclitic dative case marker ar), and the present participle gi4 “return, restore, put back”, thus literally meaning “returning to mother”. Assyriologist Samuel Noah Kramer has identified it as the first known written reference to the concept of freedom. Referring to its literal meaning “return to the mother”, he wrote in 1963 that “we still do not know why this figure of speech came to be used for “freedom.””

The earliest known usage of the word was in the reforms of Urukagina. By the Third Dynasty of Ur, it was used as a legal term for the manumission of individuals. It is related to the Akkadian word anduraāru(m), meaning “freedom”, “exemption” and “release from (debt) slavery”.

Thoth

Thoth played many vital and prominent roles in Egyptian mythology, such as maintaining the universe, and being one of the two deities (the other being Ma’at) who stood on either side of Ra’s boat. In the later history of ancient Egypt, Thoth became heavily associated with the arbitration of godly disputes, the arts of magic, the system of writing, the development of science, and the judgment of the dead.

Thoth’s chief temple was located in the city of Khmun (Ḫmnw), the Ancient Egyptian name of the city, which means “eight-town”, after the Ogdoad, a group of eight deities who represented the world before creation. The name survived into Coptic as Shmounein, from which the modern name, El Ashmunein, is derived.

In Greek, the city was called Hermopolis, after Hermes, whom the Greeks identified with Thoth, because the city was the main cult centre of Thoth, the god of magic, healing and wisdom, and the patron of scribes. Thoth was associated in the same way with the Semitic Eshmun (or Eshmoun, less accurately Esmun or Esmoun; Phoenician: lʾšmn). Inscriptions at the temple call the god “The Lord of Eshmun”.

Eshmun was a Phoenician god of healing and the tutelary god of Sidon. This god was known at least from the Iron Age period at Sidon and was worshipped also in Tyre, Beirut, Cyprus, Sardinia, and in Carthage where the site of Eshmun’s temple is now occupied by the acropolium of Carthage.

According to Eusebius of Caesarea, Phoenician author Sanchuniathon wrote that Sydyk, ‘The Righteous’, first fathered seven sons equated with the Greek Cabeiri or Dioscuri, no mother named, and then afterwards fathered an eighth son by one of the seven Titanides or Artemides.

Sydyk is described as the father of the “Dioskouroi or Kabeiroi or Korybants or Samothracians”, who are credited with the invention of the ship. The Phoenician Sydyk was equated with Roman Jupiter, and hence it has been suggested that Sydyk was connected to the worship of the planet Jupiter as the manifestation of justice or righteousness.

Sanchuniathon refers to a group of seven daughters of El by ‘Ashtart whose Phoenician name is not given but who are called the Titanides or Artemides in Greek. That the Greek goddess Artemis was often worshipped as a birth goddess suggests these seven Artemides are so called because they were also birth goddesses. If so, they are probably identical to the Ugaritic Kotharat.

A trilingual inscription of the 2nd century BC from Sardinia also identifies Eshmun with the Greek Asclepius and the Latin Aesculapius, a hero and god of medicine in ancient Greek religion and mythology. He was associated with the Roman/Etruscan god Vediovis and the Egyptian Imhotep. He was one of Apollo’s sons, sharing with Apollo the epithet Paean (“the Healer”). The rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, remains a symbol of medicine today. Those physicians and attendants who served this god were known as the Therapeutae of Asclepius.

He was the son of Apollo and, according to the earliest accounts, a mortal woman named Coronis. His mother was killed for being unfaithful to Apollo and was laid out on a funeral pyre to be consumed, but the unborn child was rescued from her womb. Or, alternatively, his mother died in labor and was laid out on the pyre to be consumed, but Apollo rescued the child, cutting him from Coronis’ womb.

Apollo carried the baby to the centaur Chiron who raised Asclepius and instructed him in the art of medicine. It is said that in return for some kindness rendered by Asclepius, a snake licked Asclepius’ ears clean and taught him secret knowledge (to the Greeks snakes were sacred beings of wisdom, healing, and resurrection). Asclepius bore a rod wreathed with a snake, which became associated with healing. A species of non-venomous pan-Mediterranean serpent, the Aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus) is named for the god.

Asclepius became so proficient as a healer that he surpassed both Chiron and his father, Apollo. Asclepius was therefore able to evade death and to bring others back to life from the brink of death and beyond.

The city was later called Hermopolis Magna during the Greco-Roman era (in reference to him through the Greeks’ interpretation that he was the same as their god Hermes) and Shmounein in the Coptic rendering, and was partially destroyed in 1826.

Mother goddess

A mother goddess is a goddess who represents, or is a personification of nature, motherhood, fertility, creation, destruction or who embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world, such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother.

Many different goddesses have represented motherhood in one way or another, and some have been associated with the birth of humanity as a whole, along with the universe and everything in it. Others have represented the fertility of the earth.

Numerous female figurines from Neolithic Çatalhöyük in Anatolia have been interpreted as evidence of a mother-goddess cult, c.7500 BCE. James Mellaart, who led excavation at the site in the 1960s, suggests that the figures represent a Great goddess, who headed the pantheon of an essentially matriarchal culture. A seated female figure, flanked by what Mellaart describes as lionesses, was found in a grain-bin; she may have intended to protect the harvest and grain.

Reports of more recent excavations at Çatalhöyük conclude that overall, the site offers no unequivocal evidence of matriarchal culture or a dominant Great Goddess; the balance of male and female power appears to have been equal. The seated or enthroned goddess-like figure flanked by lionesses, has been suggested as a prototype Cybele, a leading deity and Mother Goddess of later Anatolian states.

Figurines of fertility goddesses, both individually sculpted and mass-produced, have been found at nearly all Near Eastern sites. The earliest such figurines date back to the Neolithic era (7th and 6th millennia BCE) and they continue to be made throughout Near Eastern history. Very little is known about the goddess or her cult as so little concerning them was written down in ancient times.

Many modern scholars believe that many of the Sumerian goddesses known from later myths and hymns were originally local aspects of the indigenous mother goddess. Prominent among such goddesses were Ninhursaga, Ninmah, Damgalnunna,[10] Ninmah, Nintu and Nammu. Many of these goddesses were married off to the gods in the Old Babylonian period, after which they became increasingly regarded as taking a mediating and intercessionary role.

Due to being mother of Gilgamesh, Ninsun is also regarded as a mother goddess in general Mesopotamian mythology. She is Asherah in Canaan and `Ashtart in Syria. The Sumerians wrote erotic poetry about their mother goddess Ninhursag.

In the Aegean, Anatolian, and ancient Near Eastern culture zones, Cybele, the primordial deity Gaia, and Rhea were worshiped as Mother goddesses. In Mycenae the great goddess often was represented by a column.

Olympian goddesses of classical Greece with mother goddess attributes include Hera and Demeter. “The goddesses of Greek polytheism, so different and complementary, are nonetheless, consistently similar at an earlier stage, with one or the other simply becoming dominant in a sanctuary or city. Each is the Great Goddess presiding over a male society; each is depicted in her attire as Mistress of the Beasts, and Mistress of the Sacrifice, even Hera and Demeter”

The Minoan goddess represented in seals and other remains many of whose attributes were absorbed into Artemis, seems to have been a mother goddess type, for in some representations she suckles the animals that she holds. The archaic local goddess worshiped at Ephesus, whose cult statue was adorned with necklaces and stomachers hung with rounded protuberances who was later also identified by Hellenes with Artemis, was probably also a mother goddess.

In ancient Roman religion, Tellus or Terra Mater (“Mother Earth”) was a goddess of the earth and agriculture. Her festivals and rituals often connected her to Ceres, goddess of grain, agriculture, fertility, and mothering.

Venus was regarded as a mother of the Roman people through her half-mortal son Aeneas, who led refugees from the Trojan War to settle in Italy. The family of Julius Caesar claimed to have descended from Venus. In this capacity she was given cult as Venus Genetrix (Venus the Begetter). In the later Imperial era, she was included among the many manifestations of a syncretised Magna Dea (Great Goddess), who could be manifested as any goddess at the head of a pantheon, such as Juno or Minerva.

The Irish goddess Anu, sometimes known as Danu, has an aspect as a mother goddess, judging from the Dá Chích Anann near Killarney, County Kerry. Irish literature names the last and most favored generation of deities as “the people of Danu” (Tuatha De Danann).

The Welsh have a similar figure called Dôn who is often equated with Danu and identified as a mother goddess. Sources for this character date from the Christian period, however, so she is referred to simply as a “mother of heroes” in the Mabinogion. The character’s (assumed) origins as a goddess are obscured.

The Celts of Gaul worshipped a goddess known as Dea Matrona (“divine mother goddess”) who was associated with the Marne River. Similar figures known as the Matres (Latin for “mothers”) are found on altars in Celtic as well as Germanic areas of Europe.

In the first century BCE, Tacitus in his book Germania, recorded rites amongst the Germanic tribes focused on the goddess Nerthus, whom he calls Terra Mater, ‘Mother Earth’. Prominent in these rites was the procession of the goddess in a wheeled vehicle through the countryside. Among the seven or eight tribes said to worship her, Tacitus lists the Anglii, Suebi and the Longobardi.

Among the later Anglo-Saxons, a Christianized charm known as Æcerbot survives from records from the tenth century. The charm involves a procession through the fields while calling upon the Christian God for a good harvest, that invokes ‘eorþan modor’ (Earth Mother) and ‘folde, fira modor,’ (Earth, mother of men).

In skaldic poetry, the kenning, “Odin’s wife”, is a common designation for the Earth. Bynames of the Earth in Icelandic poetry include Jörð, Fjörgyn, Hlóðyn, and Hlín. Hlín is used as a byname of both Jörð and Frigg. Fjörgynn (a masculine form of Fjörgyn) is said to be Frigg’s father, while the name Hlóðyn is most commonly linked to Frau Holle, as well as to a goddess, Hludana, whose name is found etched in several votive inscriptions from the Roman era.

Connections have been proposed between the figure of Nerthus and various figures (particularly figures counted amongst the Vanir) recorded in thirteenth century Icelandic records of Norse mythology, including Frigg. Due to potential etymological connections, the Norse god Njörðr has been proposed as the consort of Nerthus. In the Poetic Edda poem, Lokasenna, Njörðr is said to have fathered his famous children by his own sister. This sister remains unnamed in surviving records.

Due to specific terms used to describe the figure of Grendel’s mother from the poem Beowulf, some scholars have proposed that the figure of Grendel’s mother, like the poem itself, may have derived from earlier traditions originating from Germanic paganism.

Mat Zemlya and her handmaiden Mokosh are two major deities in Slavic mythology. They date back to the Primary Chronicle and working together, they can give life and take it away. Mat Zemlya is Mother Earth, and Mokosh is the moisture that makes it fertile.

In Hinduism, Durga represents the empowering and protective nature of motherhood. From her forehead sprang Kali, who defeated Durga’s enemy, Mahishasura. Kali (the feminine form of Kaala” i.e. “time”) is the primordial energy as power of Time, literally, the “creator or doer of time”—her first manifestation. After time, she manifests as “space”, as Tara, from which point further creation of the material universe progresses.

The divine Mother, Devi Adi parashakti, manifests herself in various forms, representing the universal creative force. She becomes Mother Nature (Mula Prakriti), who gives birth to all life forms as plants, animals, and such from Herself, and she sustains and nourishes them through her body, that is the earth with its animal life, vegetation, and minerals.

Ultimately she re-absorbs all life forms back into herself, or “devours” them to sustain herself as the power of death feeding on life to produce new life. She also gives rise to Maya (the illusory world) and to prakriti, the force that galvanizes the divine ground of existence into self-projection as the cosmos. The Earth itself is manifested by Adi parashakti. Hindu worship of the divine Mother can be traced back to pre-vedic, prehistoric India.

The form of Hinduism known as Shaktism is strongly associated with Samkhya, and Tantra Hindu philosophies and ultimately, is monist. The primordial feminine creative-preservative-destructive energy, Shakti, is considered to be the motive force behind all action and existence in the phenomenal cosmos. The cosmos itself is purusha, the unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality that is the Divine Ground of all being, the “world soul”.

This masculine potential is actualized by feminine dynamism, embodied in multitudinous goddesses who are ultimately all manifestations of the One Great Mother. Mother Maya or Shakti, herself, can free the individual from demons of ego, ignorance, and desire that bind the soul in maya (illusion). Practitioners of the Tantric tradition focus on Shakti to free themselves from the cycle of karma.

The Normans had a major influence on English Romanesque architecture when they built a large numbers of Christian monasteries, abbeys, churches, and cathedrals. These Romanesque styles originated in Normandy and became widespread in north western Europe, particularly in England, which has the largest number of surviving examples.

Sheela na Gig is a common stone carving found in Romanesque Christian churches scattered throughout Europe. These female figures are found in Ireland, Great Britain, France, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Belgium, and in the Czech Republic. Some of the figures seem to be elements of earlier structures, perhaps devoted to goddess worship.

Other common motifs on Christian churches of the same time period are spirals and ouroboros or dragons swallowing their tails, which is a reference to rebirth and regeneration, a concept well known in pantheism. Other creatures including the succubus make an appearance in the sculptural reliefs of the church that have a long history in the oral tradition of previous civilizations that preceded Christianity that may relate to earlier goddess worship.

Catholics and most Orthodox and Anglican Christians regard Mary, the mother of Jesus, as the Theotokos or “Mother of God”. For many believers she not only fulfills a maternal role, but is often viewed as a protective and intercessory force, a divinely established Mediatrix for humanity, but stress that she is not worshipped as a divine mother goddess.

The Roman Catholic, Anglican, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox churches identify “the woman clothed in sun” of Revelation 12 as Mary because in verse 5, this woman is said to have given “birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod”, whom they identify as Jesus.

In Revelation 17:12 “the rest of her offspring” are described as “those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.” These Christians believe themselves to be the other “offspring” because they try to “keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus,” and thus, they embrace Mary as their “mother”. They also cite John 19:26–27 where Jesus entrusts his mother to the Beloved Disciple as evidence that Mary is the mother of all Christians, taking the command “behold thy mother” to apply generally.

In 300 CE, the Mary was worshipped as a mother goddess in the Christian sect Collyridianism, which was found throughout Saudi Arabia. Followers of Collyridianism were known to make bread and wheat offerings to the Virgin Mary, along with other sacrificial practices. The cult was heavily condemned as heretical and schismatic by the Roman Catholic Church and was preached against by Epiphanius of Salamis, who discussed the group in his Panarion.

Mary received many titles in the Roman Catholic Church, such as Queen of Heaven and Our Lady, Star of the Sea, that are familiar from earlier Near Eastern traditions. Due to this correlation, some Protestants often accuse Catholics of viewing Mary as a goddess, but the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox churches always have condemned “worship as adoration” of Mary.

Part of this accusation is due to the Catholic practice of prayer as a means of communication rather than as a means of worship. Catholics believe that the faithful dead have achieved eternal life and can intercede for people here on earth. Concepts of mother goddess worship is heavily condemned by the Holy See as it had been suppressed and condemned among the Collyridianist sect in 300 CE.

Earth Mother

Dawn goddess – Hausha

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.

Derivatives of *hewsṓs in the historical mythologies of Indo-European peoples include Indian Uṣas, Greek Ēōs, Latin Aurōra, and Baltic Aušra (“dawn”, c.f. Lithuanian Aušrinė). Germanic *Austrōn- is from an extended stem *hews-tro-.

The name *hewsṓs is derived from a root *hwes / *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-.

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 love goddess aspect was separated from the personification of dawn in a number of traditions, including Roman Venus vs. Aurora, and Greek Aphrodite vs. Eos. The name of Aphrodite may still preserve her role as a dawn goddess, etymologized as “she who shines from the foam [ocean]” (from aphros “foam” and deato “to shine”).

J.P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams (1997) have also proposed an etymology based on the connection with the Indo-European dawn goddess, from *abhor- “very” and *dhei “to shine”. Other epithets include Erigone “early-born” in Greek.

The Italic goddess Mater Matuta “Mother Morning” has been connected to Aurora by Roman authors (Lucretius, Priscianus). Her festival, the Matralia, fell on 11 June, beginning at dawn.

The name for “spring season”, *wes-r- is also from the same root. The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European new year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus). The Puranic Shiva is a continuation of the Vedic Indra. In the Rig Veda the term śiva is used to refer to Indra.

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. Most notably, it is the central myth of the Rigveda, a collection of hymns surrounding the Soma rituals dedicated to Indra in the new year celebrations of the early Indo-Aryans.

Ushas, Sanskrit for “dawn”, is a Vedic deity, and consequently a Hindu deity as well. She is an exalted goddess in the Rig Veda but less prominent in post-Rigvedic texts. Sanskrit uṣas is an s-stem, i.e. the genitive case is uṣásas. It is from PIE *hausos-, cognate to Greek Eos and Latin Aurora.

She is often spoken of in the plural, “the Dawns.” She is portrayed as warding off evil spirits of the night, and as a beautifully adorned young woman riding in a golden chariot on her path across the sky. Due to her color she is often identified with the reddish cows, and both are released by Indra from the Vala cave at the beginning of time.

Vala (valá-), meaning “enclosure” in Vedic Sanskrit, is a demon of the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda, the brother of Vrtra (lit. ‘enveloper’), a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and adversary of Indra.

In Hinduism, Vritra is identified as an Asura. Vritra was also known in the Vedas as Ahi (Sanskrit: ahi, lit. ‘snake’). He appears as a dragon blocking the course of the rivers and is heroically slain by Indra.

Historically, it has the same origin as the Vrtra story, 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.

Already in 2.24, the story is given a mystical interpretation, with warlike Indra replaced by Brahmanaspati, the lord of prayer, who split Vala with prayer (brahman) rather than with the thunderbolt.

In one recent Hindu interpretation, Sri Aurobindo in his Secret of the Veda, described Ushas as “the medium of the awakening, the activity and the growth of the other gods; she is the first condition of the Vedic realisation. By her increasing illumination the whole nature of man is clarified; through her [mankind] arrives at the Truth, through her he enjoys [Truth’s] beatitude.”

Sherida/Aya and Ud/Shamash

Aya (or Aja) in Akkadian mythology was a mother goddess, consort of the sun god Shamash. She developed from the Sumerian goddess Šherida, consort of Utu. Šherida is one of the oldest Mesopotamian gods, attested in inscriptions from pre-Sargonic times, her name (as “Aya”) was a popular personal name during the Ur III period (21st-20th century BCE), making her among the oldest Semitic deities known in the region.

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

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

The goddess Aya in this aspect appears to have had wide currency among Semitic peoples, as she is mentioned in god-lists in Ugarit and shows up in personal names in the Bible (Gen 36:24, 2 Sam 3:7, 1 Chr 7:28).

Aya is Akkadian for “dawn”, and by the Akkadian period she was firmly associated with the rising sun and with sexual love and youth. The Babylonians sometimes referred to her as kallatu (the bride), and as such she was known as the wife of Shamash. In fact, she was worshiped as part of a separate-but-attached cult in Shamash’s e-babbar temples in Larsa and Sippar.

By the Neo-Babylonian period at the latest (and possibly much earlier), Shamash and Aya were associated with a practice known as Hasadu, which is loosely translated as a “sacred marriage.”

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

Enmešara (Nergal) and Dumuzi

When Enlil rose to equal or surpass An in authority, the functions of the two deities came to some extent to overlap. An was also sometimes equated with Amurru, and, in Seleucid Uruk, with Enmešara and Dumuzi.

Enmesarra, or Enmešarra, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld god of the law. Described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore he has been equated with Nergal. On the other hand, he has been described as an ancestor of Enlil, and it has been claimed that Enlil slew him.

Nergal was a deity worshipped throughout Mesopotamia (Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia) with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim.

The standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion. He is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta. He seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only representative of a certain phase of the sun.

Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle.

He has also been called “the king of sunset”. Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. He was the deity who presided 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 (EREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”), though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person. In some texts the god Ninazu is the son of Nergal and Allatu/Ereshkigal.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal 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. The main temple dedicated to her was located in Kutha.

The goddess Ishtar, the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year, refers to Ereshkigal as her older sister in the Sumerian hymn “The Descent of Inanna” (which was also in later Babylonian myth, also called “The Descent of Ishtar”). Inanna/Ishtar’s trip and return to the underworld is the most familiar of the myths concerning Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines which date back to the Mesopotamia period. According to the doctrine of two kingdoms, the dominions of the two sisters are sharply differentiated, as one is of this world and one of the world of the dead.

Nergal’s fiery aspect appears in names or epithets such as Lugalgira, Lugal-banda (Nergal as the fighting-cock), Sharrapu (“the burner,” a reference to his manner of dealing with outdated teachings), Erra, Gibil (though this name more properly belongs to Nusku), and Sibitti or Seven.

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.

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”.

Baal

Baal, properly Baʿal, was a title and honorific meaning “lord” in the Northwest Semitic languages spoken in the Levant during antiquity. From its use among people, it came to be applied to gods. Scholars previously associated the theonym with solar cults and with a variety of unrelated patron deities, but inscriptions have shown that the name Baʿal was particularly associated with the storm and fertility god Hadad and his local manifestations.

The Hebrew Bible, compiled and curated over a span of centuries, includes early use of the term in reference to their God Yahweh, generic use in reference to various Levantine deities, and finally pointed application towards Hadad, who was decried as a false god. This use was taken over into Christianity and Islam, sometimes under the opprobrious form Beelzebub.

In some places, especially in Psalm 29, Yahweh is clearly envisioned as a storm god, something not true of Ēl so far as we know (although true of his son, Ba’al Hadad). It is Yahweh who is prophesied to one day battle Leviathan the serpent, and slay the dragon in the sea in Isaiah 27:1. The slaying of the serpent in myth is a deed attributed to both Ba’al Hadad and ‘Anat in the Ugaritic texts, but not to Ēl.

The Phoenician Baʿal is generally identified with either El or Dagan. 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.

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.

However, because the word sometimes refers to a god other than the great god Ēl, it is frequently ambiguous as to whether Ēl followed by another name means the great god Ēl with a particular epithet applied or refers to another god entirely. For example, in the Ugaritic texts, ʾil mlk is understood to mean “Ēl the King” but ʾil hd as “the god Hadad”.

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”.

The stem ʾl is found prominently in the earliest strata of east Semitic, northwest Semitic, and south Semitic groups. Personal names including the stem ʾl are found with similar patterns in both Amorite and South Arabic—which indicates that probably already in Proto-Semitic ʾl was both a generic term for “god” and the common name or title of a single particular god.

The Northwest Semitic languages—Ugaritic, Phoenician, Hebrew, Amorite, and Aramaic—were all abjads, typically written without vowels. As such, the word baʿal was usually written as BʿL (bet-ayin-lamedh); its vowels have been reconstructed. In these languages, baʿal signified “owner” and, by extension, “lord”, a “master”, or “husband”. It also appears as Baʿali or Baʿaly, “my Lord”.

Cognates include the Akkadian Bēlu, Amharic bal, and Arabic baʿl. Báʿl aַַּnd baʿl still serve as the words for “husband” in modern Hebrew and Arabic respectively. They also appear in some contexts concerning the ownership of things or possession of traits. In Levantine Arabic, baʿl also serves as an adjective describing farming that relies on rainwater alone.

The feminine form is baʿalah, meaning “mistress” in the sense of a female owner or lady of the house and still serving as a rare word for “wife”. The plural form is baʿalim.

Most modern scholarship asserts that this Baʿal—usually distinguished as “The Lord” (Ha Baʿal)—was identical with the storm and fertility god Hadad; it also appears in the form Baʿal Haddu.

Scholars propose that, as the cult of Hadad increased in importance, his true name came to be seen as too holy for any but the high priest to speak aloud and the alias “Lord” (“Baʿal”) was used instead, as “Bel” was used for Marduk and “Adonai” for Yahweh.

Ugaritic records show him as a weather god, with particular power over lightning, wind, rain, and fertility. The dry summers of the area were explained as Baʿal’s time in the underworld and his return in autumn was said to cause the storms which revived the land. Thus, the worship of Baʿal in Canaan—where he eventually supplanted El as the leader of the gods and patron of kingship—was connected to the regions’ dependence on rainfall for its agriculture, unlike Egypt and Mesopotamia, which focused on irrigation from their major rivers.

Anxiety about the availability of water for crops and trees increased the importance of his cult, which focused attention on his role as a rain god. He was also called upon during battle, showing that he was thought to intervene actively in the world of man, unlike the more aloof El. The Lebanese city of Baalbeck was named after Baal.

The Baʿal of Ugarit was the epithet of Hadad but as the time passed, the epithet became the god’s name while Hadad became the epithet. Baʿal was usually said to be the son of Dagan, but appears as one of the sons of El in Ugaritic sources. Both Baʿal and El were associated with the bull in Ugaritic texts, as it symbolized both strength and fertility. The virgin goddess ʿAnat was his sister and sometimes credited with a child through him.

He held special enmity against snakes, both on their own and as representatives of Yammu (lit. “Sea”), the Canaanite sea god and river god. He fought the Tannin (Tunnanu), the “Twisted Serpent” (Bṭn ʿqltn), “Litan the Fugitive Serpent” (Ltn Bṭn Brḥ, the Biblical Leviathan), and the “Mighty One with Seven Heads” (Šlyṭ D.šbʿt Rašm). Baʿal’s conflict with Yammu is now generally regarded as the prototype of the vision recorded in the 7th chapter of the Biblical Book of Daniel.

As vanquisher of the sea, Baʿal was regarded by the Canaanites and Phoenicians as the patron of sailors and sea-going merchants. As vanquisher of Mot, the Canaanite death god, he was known as Baʿal Rāpiʾuma (Bʿl Rpu) and regarded as the leader of the Rephaim (Rpum), the ancestral spirits, particularly those of ruling dynasties.

From Canaan, worship of Baʿal spread to Egypt by the Middle Kingdom and throughout the Mediterranean following the waves of Phoenician colonization in the early 1st millennium BC. He was described with diverse epithets and, prior to the rediscovery of Ugarit, it was supposed that these referred to distinct local gods. However, as explained by Day, the texts at Ugarit revealed that they were considered “local manifestations of this particular deity, analogous to the local manifestations of the Virgin Mary in the Roman Catholic Church.”

In those inscriptions, he is frequently described as “Victorious Baʿal” (Aliyn or ẢlỈyn Baʿal), “Mightiest one” (Aliy or ʿAly) or “Mightiest of the Heroes” (Aliy Qrdm), “The Powerful One” (Dmrn), and in his role as patron of the city “Baʿal of Ugarit” (Baʿal Ugarit).

In the interpretatio graeca, Baʿal was usually associated with Jupiter Belus but sometimes connected with Hercules. Belus or Belos in classical Greek or classical Latin texts (and later material based on them) in a Babylonian context refers to the Babylonian god Bel Marduk. Though often identified with Greek Zeus and Latin Jupiter as Zeus Belos or Jupiter Belus, in other cases Belus is euhemerized as an ancient king who founded Babylon and built the ziggurat. He is recognized and worshipped as the God of war.

Eusebius of Caesarea (Praeparatio Evangelica 9.18) cites Artabanus as stating in his Jewish History that Artabanus found in anonymous works that giants who had been dwelling in Babylonia were destroyed by the gods for impiety, but one of them named Belus escaped and settled in Babylon and lived in the tower which he built and named the Tower of Belus.

A little later Eusebius (9.41) cites Abydenus’ Concerning the Assyrians for the information that the site of Babylon: … was originally water, and called a sea. But Belus put an end to this, and assigned a district to each, and surrounded Babylon with a wall; and at the appointed time he disappeared.

This seems to be a rationalized version of Marduk’s defeat of Tiamet in the Enuma Elish[citation needed] followed here by Belus becoming a god. A little earlier in the same section, in a supposed prophecy by King Nebuchadnezzar, King Nebuchadnezzar claims to be descended from Belus.

Melqart (Phoenician: lit. Melek-qart, “King of the City”; Akkadian: Milqartu) was the tutelary god of the Phoenician city of Tyre. Melqart was often titled Ba‘l Ṣūr, “Lord of Tyre”, and considered to be the ancestor of the Tyrian royal family. In Greek, by interpretatio graeca he was identified with Heracles and referred to as the Tyrian Herakles.

Baʿal Hammon, however, was identified with the Greek Cronos and the Roman Saturn (as the “African Saturn”). He was probably never equated with Melqart, although this assertion appears in older scholarship.

Baʿal Hammon and Tanit

Baʿal Hammon was worshipped in the Tyrian colony of Carthage as their supreme god. It is believed that this position developed in the 5th century bce following the severing of its ties to Tyre following the 480 bce Battle of Himera. Like Hadad, Baʿal Hammon was a fertility god. Inscriptions about Punic deities tend to be rather uninformative, though, and he has been variously identified as a moon god and as Dagan, the grain god. Rather than the bull, Baʿal Hammon was associated with the ram and depicted with his horns.

Baal Hammon was the chief god of Carthage. He was a weather god considered responsible for the fertility of vegetation and esteemed as King of the Gods. He was depicted as a bearded older man with curling ram’s horns. Baʿal Hammon’s female cult partner was Tanit, a Punic and Phoenician goddess, the chief deity of Carthage alongside her consort Ba`al Hammon. She was also adopted by the Punic Berber people.

Tanit is also called Tinnit, Tannou or Tangou. The name appears to have originated in Carthage (modern day Tunisia), though it does not appear in local theophorous names. She was equivalent to the moon-goddess Astarte, and later worshipped in Roman Carthage in her Romanized form as Dea Caelestis, Juno Caelestis or simply Caelestis.

In modern-day Tunisian Arabic, it is customary to invoke “Omek Tannou” or “Oumouk Tangou” (Mother Tannou or Tangou depending on the region), in years of drought to bring rain. Similarly, Tunisian and many other spoken forms of Arabic refer to Baali farming to refer to non-irrigated agriculture.

Tyr and Hel

Týr is a Germanic 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 rendered as Tius or Tio and also formally as Mars Thincsus.

In the late Icelandic Eddas, Týr 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. 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.

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.

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.

In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. 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. In the same source, her appearance is described as half blue and half flesh-coloured and further as having a gloomy, downcast appearance.

The Prose Edda details that Hel rules over vast mansions with many servants in her underworld realm and plays a key role in the attempted resurrection of the god Baldr.

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.

Shiva and Parvati/Kali

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

Over time, she has been worshipped by devotional movements and tantric sects variously as the Divine Mother, Mother of the Universe, Adi Shakti, or Adi Parashakti. Shakta Hindu and Tantric sects additionally worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman.

She is also seen as divine protector and the one who bestows moksha, or liberation. Kali 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.

Shiva (Sanskrit: Śiva, lit. the auspicious one) is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme god within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism.

Shiva is “the transformer” within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. In Shaivism tradition, Shiva is the Supreme being who creates, protects and transforms the universe. In the goddess tradition of Hinduism called Shaktism, the goddess is described as supreme, yet Shiva is revered along with Vishnu and Brahma.

A goddess is stated to be the energy and creative power (Shakti) of each, with Parvati the equal complementary partner of Shiva. He is one of the five equivalent deities in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta tradition of Hinduism.

At the highest level, Shiva is regarded as formless, limitless, transcendent and unchanging absolute Brahman, and the primal Atman (soul, self) of the universe. Shiva has many benevolent and fearsome depictions.

In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash as well as a householder with wife Parvati, the Hindu goddess of fertility, love and devotion; as well as of divine strength and power, and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya (Murugan, Skanda and Subramaniyam), the Hindu god of war. In his fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also known as Adiyogi Shiva regarded as the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts.

The main iconographical attributes of Shiva are the third eye on his forehead, the serpent around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the trishula as his weapon and the damaru. Shiva is usually worshiped in the aniconic form of Lingam. Shiva is a pan-Hindu deity, revered widely across India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the meteorological beginning of spring occurs on the first day of March. The March equinox on the 20th or 21st marks the astronomical beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, where September is the seasonal equivalent of the Northern Hemisphere’s March.

Parvati is the wife of the Hindu god Shiva – the protector and regenerator of universe and all life. She is the daughter of the mountain king Himavan and mother Mena. Parvati is the mother of Hindu deities Ganesha and Kartikeya. Some communities also believe her to be the sister of the god Vishnu and the river-goddess Ganga.

Parvati is the gentle and nurturing aspect of the Hindu goddess Shakti and one of the central deities of the Goddess-oriented Shakta sect. She is the mother goddess in Hinduism, and has many attributes and aspects. In Hindu temples dedicated to her and Shiva, she is symbolically represented as the argha or yoni.

In Hindu belief, she is the recreative energy and power of Shiva, and she is the cause of a bond that connects all beings and a means of their spiritual release. Along with Lakshmi (goddess of wealth and prosperity) and Saraswati (goddess of knowledge and learning), she forms the trinity of Hindu goddesses (Tridevi). With Shiva, Parvati is a central deity in the Shaiva sect.

Several Hindu stories present alternate aspects of Parvati, such as the ferocious, violent aspect as Shakti and related forms. Shakti is pure energy, untamed, unchecked and chaotic. Her wrath crystallizes into a dark, blood-thirsty, tangled-hair Goddess with an open mouth and a drooping tongue. This goddess is usually identified as the terrible Mahakali or Kali (time).

In Linga Purana, Parvati metamorphoses into Kali, on the request of Shiva, to destroy a female asura (demoness) Daruka. Even after destroying the demoness, Kali’s wrath could not be controlled. To lower Kali’s rage, Shiva appeared as a crying baby. The cries of the baby raised the maternal instinct of Kali who resorts back to her benign form as Parvati.

The Puranic Shiva is a continuation of the Vedic Indra. In the Historical Vedic religion, the King of the Gods was Indra. Though Indra still retains the title of the king of the gods and the ruler of heaven, the Trinity of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu assume his protective functions as the Vedic religion evolved into Brahmanical Hinduism. Indra is often considered inferior to the Trinity. Indra, like Shiva, is likened to a bull.

Kartikeya-Murugan

Kartikeya (Kārttikēya; Murugan, Skanda and Subramaniyam) is the Hindu god of war. Fred W. Clothey, in his landmark study The Many Faces of Murukan, cautiously endorses the possibility of a common origin of the ecstatic cults of Dionysus and Murukan in the megalithic culture of the Anatolian plateau and western Iran of ca. 1500 BC.

Historically, Kartikeya was immensely popular in the Indian subcontinent. One of the major Puranas, the Skanda Purana is dedicated to him. In the Bhagavad-Gita (Ch.10, Verse 24), Krishna, while explaining his omnipresence, names the most perfect being, mortal or divine, in each of several categories. While doing so, he says: “Among generals, I am Skanda, the lord of war.” There is a lot of similarities between Jesus and Krishna’s life stories on Earth.

Given that legends related to Murugan are recounted separately in several Hindu epics, some differences between the various versions are observed. Some Sanskrit epics and puranas indicate that he was the elder son of Shiva. This is suggested by the legend connected to his birth; the wedding of Shiva and Parvati being necessary for the birth of a child who would vanquish the asura named Taraka. In South India, it is believed that he is the younger brother of the Ganesha.

According to the Skanda Purana, Kartikeya Muruga was the second son of Shiva and Parvati younger brother to Ganesha. According to the Puranic sources, he incarnated as six sparks emanating from the Third eye of Lord Shiva. According to the Skanda Purana Muruga imprisoned Brahma, protected Vishnu from the asuras and taught the Pranava Mantram to Shiva. Thus Muruga is considered superior to the Trimurti.

Many of the major events in Murugan’s life take place during his youth, and legends surrounding his birth are popular in Tamilnadu. This has encouraged the worship of Murugan as a child-God, very similar to the worship of the child Krishna in north India. He is married to two wives, Valli (“Creeper, Sweet Potato Plant”) and Devasena, often described as the daughter of Indra, the king of the gods. This led to a very interesting name : Devasenapati viz. Pati (husband) of Devsena and/or Senapati (commander in chief) of Dev (gods).

Devasena is betrothed to Kartikeya by Indra, when he becomes the commander-in-chief of the gods. In south-Indian accounts, Devasena is generally depicted as an antithesis of Valli, her co-wife; together they complete the god. Devasena is generally depicted with Kartikeya and often is also accompanied by Valli.

The Sanskrit name of the goddess Devasena means “army of the gods” and thus, her husband is known as Devasenapati (“Lord of Devasena”). The epithet Devasenapati is a pun which also conveys his role as commander-in-chief of the gods.

The several names of Murugan of origin would include the following, Cheyon, Senthil, Vēlaṇ, Kumāran (“prince, child, young one”), Svaminatha (“ruler of the gods”, from -natha king), Saravanan (“born amongs the reeds”), Arumugam or Shanmuga (“six-faced”), Dandapani (“wielder of the mace”, from -pani hand), Guhan or Guruguha (“cave-dweller”), Subrahmanya, Kadhirvelan, Kandhan, Kartikeya (“son of the Krittikas”) and Skanda (“attacker”).

Kartikeya is the Commander-in-Chief of the army of the devas. Kartikeya symbols are based on the weapons – Vel, the Divine Spear or Lance that he carries and his mount the peacock. Vel is a divine javelin (spear) associated with Hindu war god Karthikeya. Spears used by ancient Tamils in warfare were also commonly referred to by this name.

He is sometimes depicted with many weapons including: a sword, a javelin, a mace, a discus and a bow although more usually he is depicted wielding a sakti or spear. This symbolizes his purification of human ills.

His javelin is used to symbolize his far reaching protection, his discus symbolizes his knowledge of the truth, his mace represents his strength and his bow shows his ability to defeat all ills. His peacock mount symbolizes his destruction of the ego. His six heads represent the six siddhis bestowed upon yogis over the course of their spiritual development. This corresponds to his role as the bestower of siddhis.

According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Parvati presented the Vel to her son Murugan as an embodiment of her shakti or power in order to vanquish the evil asura Soorapadman. According to the Skanda Purana, in the war between Murugan and Soorapadman, Murugan used the Vel to defeat all the evil forces of Soorapadman.

When a complete defeat for Soorapadman was imminent, the asura transformed himself into a huge mango tree to evade detection by Murugan. Murugan hurled his Vel and split the mango tree into two halves, one becoming Seval (a rooster) and the other Mayil (a peacock). Henceforth, the peacock became his vahana or mount and the rooster became the emblem on his battle flag.

Taurus and Pleiades (The seven sages)

The Sebitti are 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.

The Apkallu (Akkadian), or Abgal (Sumerian), are seven Mesopotamian sages, demigods who are said to have been created by the god Enki (Akkadian: Ea) to establish culture and give civilization to mankind. They were noted for having been saved during the flood.

They served as priests of Enki and as advisors or sages to the earliest kings of Sumer before the flood. They are credited with giving mankind the Me (moral code), the crafts, and the arts. They were seen as fish-like men who emerged from the sweet water Abzu. They are commonly represented as having the lower torso of a fish, or dressed as a fish.

Murugan is the primary deity of the Kaumaram sect of Hinduism. The first elaborate account of Kartikeya’s origin occurs in the Mahabharata. In a complicated story, he is said to have been born from Agni and Svaha, after the latter impersonated the six of the seven wives of the Saptarishi (Seven Sages). The actual wives then become the Pleiades.

In astronomy, the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, is an open star cluster containing middle-aged, hot B-type stars located in the constellation of Taurus. It is among the nearest star clusters to Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky. The celestial entity has several meanings in different cultures and traditions.

The name “seven sisters” has been used for the Pleiades in the languages of many cultures, including indigenous groups of Australia, North America and Siberia. This suggests that the name may have a common ancient origin.

Taurus (Latin for “the Bull”) is one of the constellations of the zodiac, which means it is crossed by the plane of the ecliptic. As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”.

The Akkadian name was Alu. To the early Hebrews, Taurus was the first constellation in their zodiac and consequently it was represented by the first letter in their alphabet, Aleph. Alalu is god in Hurrian mythology. He is considered to have housed the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth.

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

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

In Akkadian and Sumerian mythology, Alû is a vengeful spirit of the Utukku that goes down to the underworld Kur. The demon has no mouth, lips or ears. It roams at night and terrifies people while they sleep, and possession by Alû results in unconsciousness and coma; in this manner it resembles creatures such as the mara, and incubus, which are invoked to explain sleep paralysis. In Akkadian and Sumerian mythology, it is associated with other demons like Gallu and Lilu.

To the Egyptians, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull that was associated with the renewal of life in spring. When the spring equinox entered Taurus, the constellation would become covered by the Sun in the western sky as spring began. This “sacrifice” led to the renewal of the land.

In Greek mythology, Taurus was identified with Zeus, who assumed the form of a magnificent white bull to abduct Europa, a legendary Phoenician princess. In illustrations of Greek mythology, only the front portion of this constellation are depicted; this was sometimes explained as Taurus being partly submerged as he carried Europa out to sea.

A second Greek myth portrays Taurus as Io, a mistress of Zeus. To hide his lover from his wife Hera, Zeus changed Io into the form of a heifer. Greek mythographer Acusilaus marks the bull Taurus as the same that formed the myth of the Cretan Bull, one of The Twelve Labors of Heracles.

In Buddhism, legends hold that Gautama Buddha was born when the Full Moon was in Vaisakha, or Taurus. Buddha’s birthday is celebrated with the Wesak Festival, or Vesākha, which occurs on the first or second Full Moon when the Sun is in Taurus.

Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries. The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC. In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”.

Taurus is a large and prominent constellation in the northern hemisphere’s winter sky. It is one of the oldest constellations, dating back to at least the Early Bronze Age when it marked the location of the Sun during the spring equinox. Its importance to the agricultural calendar influenced various bull figures in the mythologies of Ancient Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

A number of features exist that are of interest to astronomers. Taurus hosts two of the nearest open clusters to Earth, the Pleiades and the Hyades, both of which are visible to the naked eye. At first magnitude, the red giant Aldebaran is the brightest star in the constellation. Its name derives from al-dabarān, Arabic for “the follower”, probably from the fact that it follows the Pleiades during the nightly motion of the celestial sphere across the sky.

Forming the profile of a Bull’s face is a V or A-shaped asterism of stars. This outline is created by prominent members of the Hyades, the nearest distinct open star cluster after the Ursa Major Moving Group. In this profile, Aldebaran forms the bull’s bloodshot eye, which has been described as “glaring menacingly at the hunter Orion”, a constellation that lies just to the southwest.

In early Mesopotamian art, the Bull of Heaven was closely associated with Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. One of the oldest depictions shows the bull standing before the goddess’ standard; since it has 3 stars depicted on its back (the cuneiform sign for “star-constellation”), there is good reason to regard this as the constellation later known as Taurus.

In the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literature, the goddess Ishtar sends Taurus, the Bull of Heaven, to kill Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation.

Gemini

In Latin the twins are also known as the Gemini (“twins”), the third astrological sign in the zodiac, originating from the constellation of Gemini, or Castores. Gemini lies between Taurus to the west and Cancer to the east, with Auriga and Lynx to the north and Monoceros and Canis Minor to the south. The Sun resides in the astrological sign of Gemini from June 20 to July 20 each year (though the zodiac dates it May 21 – June 21).

By mid August, Gemini will appear along the eastern horizon in the morning sky prior to sunrise. The best time to observe Gemini at night is overhead during the months of January and February. By April and May, the constellation will be visible soon after sunset in the west.

The easiest way to locate the constellation is to find its two brightest stars Castor and Pollux eastward from the familiar “V” shaped asterism of Taurus and the three stars of Orion’s belt. Another way is to mentally draw a line from the Pleiades star cluster located in Taurus and the brightest star in Leo, Regulus. In doing so, you are drawing an imaginary line that is relatively close to the ecliptic, a line which intersects Gemini roughly at the midpoint of the constellation, just below Castor and Pollux.

Astrologers believe Geminis have a volatile temperament, that their strength however is their versatility, and that their versatility allows them to learn a little about everything and develop skills in many areas. Geminis are considered to hold mysteriously unique artistic and creative abilities unlike other signs. Often considered to be very intelligent individuals, they have a wide appreciation for the arts, philosophy, history and the natural sciences.

They do not like boring people or routine procedures and therefore struggle to deal with authoritative figures. They are enlightened to talk about any subject which they find interesting and where they can stimulate their naturally intellectual personalities.

Ashvins

Ashvini is the first nakshatra (lunar mansion) in Hindu astrology having a spread from 0°-0′-0″ to 13°-20′, corresponding to the head of Aries, including the stars β and γ Arietis. The name aśvinī is used by Varahamihira (6th century). The older name of the asterism, found in the Atharvaveda(AVS 19.7; in the dual) and in Panini (4.3.36), was aśvayúj “harnessing horses”.

The Ashvins are mentioned 376 times in the Rigveda, with 57 hymns specifically dedicated to them. The Nasatya twins are invoked in a treaty between Suppiluliuma and Shattiwaza, kings of the Hittites and the Mitanni respectively.

Aśvaḥ is the Sanskrit word for a horse, one of the significant animals finding references in the Vedas as well as later Hindu scriptures. The corresponding Avestan term is aspa. The word is cognate to Latin equus, Greek hippos, Germanic *ehwaz and Baltic *ašvā all from PIE *hek’wos.

There are repeated references to the horse the Vedas (c. 1500 – 500 BC). In particular the Rigveda has many equestrian scenes, often associated with chariots. The Ashvins are divine twins named for their horsemanship. The earliest undisputed finds of horse remains in South Asia are from the Swat culture (c. 1500 – 500 BC).

The legend states that the first horse emerged from the depth of the ocean during the churning of the oceans. It was a horse with white color and had two wings. It was known by the name of Uchchaihshravas.

The legend continues that Indra, king of the devas, took away the mythical horse to his celestial abode, the svarga (heaven). Subsequently, Indra severed the wings of the horse and presented the same to the mankind. The wings were severed to ensure that the horse would remain on the earth (prithvi) and not fly back to Indra’s svarga.

The Ashvamedha is a horse sacrifice ritual followed by the Śrauta tradition of Vedic religion. It was used by ancient Indian kings to prove their imperial sovereignty: a horse accompanied by the king’s warriors would be released to wander for a period of one year. In the territory traversed by the horse, any rival could dispute the king’s authority by challenging the warriors accompanying it. After one year, if no enemy had managed to kill or capture the horse, the animal would be guided back to the king’s capital. It would be then sacrificed, and the king would be declared as an undisputed sovereign.

In electional astrology, Asvini is classified as a small constellation, meaning that it is believed to be advantageous to begin works of a precise or delicate nature while the moon is in Ashvini. Asvini is ruled by the Ashvins or Ashwini Kumaras (aśvin-, dual aśvinau), in Hindu mythology two Vedic gods, divine twin horsemen in the Rigveda, sons of Saranyu, a goddess of the clouds and wife of Surya in his form as Vivasvant. Personified, Asvini is considered to be the wife of the Asvini Kumaras. Ashvini is represented either by the head of a horse, or by honey and the bee hive.

The Ashvins, the heavenly twins who served as physicians to the gods. symbolise the shining of sunrise and sunset, appearing in the sky before the dawn in a golden chariot, bringing treasures to men and averting misfortune and sickness. They are the doctors of gods and are devas of Ayurvedic medicine.

The heavenly twins appear also in the Indo-European tradition as the effulgent Vedic brother-horsemen the Ashvins, the Lithuanian Ašvieniai, and the Germanic Alcis. The Etruscans venerated the twins as Kastur and Pultuce, collectively the tinas cliniiaras, “sons of Tinia,” the Etruscan counterpart of Zeus. They were often portrayed on Etruscan mirrors.

They are represented as humans with the heads of horses. In the epic Mahabharata, King Pandu’s wife Madri is granted a son by each Ashvin and bears the twins Nakula and Sahadeva who, along with the sons of Kunti, are known as the Pandavas. Their marriage is an example of polyandry in the Rigvedic period.

They are also called Nasatya (dual nāsatyau “kind, helpful”) in the Rigveda; later, Nasatya is the name of one twin, while the other is called Dasra (“enlightened giving”). By popular etymology, the name nāsatya is often incorrectly analysed as na+asatya “not untrue”.

Indian holy books like the Mahabharat and the Puranas, relate that the Ashwini Kumar brothers, the twins, who were Raja-Vaidya (Royal Physicians) to Devas during Vedic times, first prepared the Chyawanprash formulation for Chyawan Rishi at his Ashram on Dhosi Hill near Narnaul, Haryana, India, hence the name Chyawanprash.

Ketu and Rahu

Ashvini is ruled by Ketu, the descending lunar node in Vedic, or Hindu astrology. After the head of Svarbhānu, an Asura, was cut off by God Vishnu, his head and body joined with a snake to form ‘Ketu’, representing the body without a head, and Rahu, representing the head without a body.

According to some accounts in Hindu mythology, Ketu belongs to Jaimini Gotra, whereas Rahu is from Paiteenasa gotra and hence both are totally different entities with distinct characteristics and not two parts of a common body. Ketu is generally referred to as a “shadow” planet. It is believed to have a tremendous impact on human lives and also the whole creation. In some special circumstances it helps someone achieve the zenith of fame. Ketu is often depicted with a gem or star on his head signifying a mystery light.

Astronomically, Rahu and Ketu denote the points of intersection of the paths of the Sun and the Moon as they move on the celestial sphere. Therefore, Rahu and Ketu are respectively called the north and the south lunar nodes. The fact that eclipses occur when the Sun and the Moon are at one of these points gives rise to the understanding of swallowing of the Sun and the Moon by the snake.

In ancient Tamil astrological scripts, Ketu was considered as incarnation of Indra. During a war with Asuras, Indra was defeated and took a passive form and a subtle state as Ketu. Indra spent this time realizing his past mistakes, and failures and that lead to spirituality towards Lord Shiva.

In Hindu astrology Ketu represents karmic collections both good and bad, spirituality and supernatural influences. Ketu signifies the spiritual process of the refinement of materialization to spirit and is considered both malefic and benefic, as it causes sorrow and loss, and yet at the same time turns the individual to God. In other words, it causes material loss in order to force a more spiritual outlook in the person. The people who come under the influence of Ketu can achieve great heights, most of them spiritual.

Ketu is a karaka or indicator of intelligence, wisdom, non-attachment, fantasy, penetrating insight, derangement, and psychic abilities. Ketu is believed to bring prosperity to the devotee’s family, removes the effects of snakebite and illness arising out of poisons. He grants good health, wealth and cattle to his devotees. Ketu is the lord of three nakshatras or lunar mansions: Ashvini, Magha and Mula.

Rahu, being a karmic planet would show the necessity and urge to work on a specific area of life where there had been ignorance in the past life. To balance the apparent dissatisfaction one has to go that extra mile to provide a satisfactory settlement in the present lifetime. When afflicted this “extra mile” is lengthened otherwise it is sometimes given by unforeseen circumstances or achieved through proper discipline.

Ketu, would indicate the areas where unnecessary over-indulgence has been in the past life and to balance the over-satisfaction of the karmic presence there has to be some kind of dissatisfaction in that specific area of life. When afflicted in birth chart this dissatisfaction is imposed forcefully on the soul otherwise it is self-willed.

Castor and Pollux

The Ashvins can be compared with the Dioscuri (the twins Castor and Pollux) of Greek and Roman mythology, and especially to the divine twins Ašvieniai of the ancient Baltic religion.

In Greek and Roman mythology, Castor and Pollux or Polydeuces were twin brothers, together known as the Dioskouroi or Dioscuri. Their mother was Leda, but they had different fathers; Castor was the mortal son of Tyndareus, the king of Sparta, while Pollux was the divine son of Zeus, who seduced Leda in the guise of a swan.

Though accounts of their birth are varied, they are sometimes said to have been born from an egg, along with their twin sisters and half-sisters Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra. They are sometimes called the Tyndaridae or Tyndarids, later seen as a reference to their father and stepfather Tyndareus.

The Dioscuri were regarded as helpers of humankind and held to be patrons of travellers and of sailors in particular, who invoked them to seek favourable winds. Their role as horsemen and boxers also led to them being regarded as the patrons of athletes and athletic contests. They characteristically intervened at the moment of crisis, aiding those who honoured or trusted them.

They can be recognized in some vase-paintings by the skull-cap they wear, the pilos, which was already explained in antiquity as the remnants of the egg from which they hatched. They are symbolised in the painting by the presence of two pointed caps crowned with laurel, referring to the Phrygian caps they were often depicted wearing.

When Castor was killed, Pollux asked Zeus to let him share his own immortality with his twin to keep them together, and they were transformed into the constellation Gemini. The pair were regarded as the patrons of sailors, to whom they appeared as St. Elmo’s fire, and were also associated with horsemanship.

Nergal/Apollo

In Babylonian astronomy, the stars Castor and Pollux were known as the Great Twins (MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL). The Twins were regarded as minor gods and were called Meshlamtaea and Lugalirra, meaning respectively ‘The One who has arisen from the Underworld’ and the ‘Mighty King’. Both names can be understood as titles of Nergal, the major Babylonian god of plague and pestilence, who was king of the Underworld.

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. Aplu may be related with Apaliunas who is considered to be the Hittite reflex of *Apeljōn, an early form of the name Apollo.

Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis. Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. 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.

The birth of mankind

Nergal’s chief temple at Cuthah bore the name Meslam, from which the god receives the designation of Meslamtaea, “the one that rises up from Meslam”. The name Meslamtaea indeed is found as early as the list of gods from Fara while the name Nergal only begins to appear in the Akkadian period.

Although Ares was viewed primarily as a destructive and destabilizing force, Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people. In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia.

His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.

Tyr

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.

Týr is a Germanic 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 rendered as Tius or Tio and also formally as Mars Thincsus.

In the late Icelandic Eddas, Týr 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 (see Tacitus’ Germania) 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. 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.

Tuisto

According to Tacitus’s Germania (98 CE), Tuisto (or Tuisco) is the divine ancestor of the Germanic peoples. The figure remains the subject of some scholarly discussion, largely focused upon etymological connections and comparisons to figures in later (particularly Norse) Germanic mythology.

The Germania manuscript corpus contains two primary variant readings of the name. Root of the word is from the Hindu Vedic ‘Tvasthar’ – father of Manu. The most frequently occurring, Tuisto, is commonly connected to the Proto-Germanic root *tvai- “two” and its derivative *tvis- “twice” or “doubled”, thus giving Tuisto the core meaning “double”.

Any assumption of a gender inference is entirely conjectural, as the tvia/tvis roots are also the roots of any number of other concepts/words in the Germanic languages. Take for instance the Germanic “twist”, which, in all but the English has the primary meaning of “dispute/conflict”.

The second variant of the name, occurring originally in manuscript E, reads Tuisco. One proposed etymology for this variant reconstructs a Proto-Germanic *tiwisko and connects this with Proto-Germanic *Tiwaz, giving the meaning “son of Tiu”. This interpretation would thus make Tuisco the son of the sky-god (Proto-Indo-European *Dyeus) and the earth-goddess.

Tuisto and Ymir

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.

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

Taken together, several stanzas from four poems collected in the Poetic Edda refer to Ymir as a primeval being who was born from venom that dripped from the icy rivers Élivágar and lived in the grassless void of Ginnungagap. Ymir birthed a male and female from the pits of his arms, and his legs together begat a six-headed being.

The gods Odin, Vili and Vé fashioned the Earth (elsewhere personified as a goddess; Jörð) from his flesh, from his blood the ocean, from his bones the hills, from his hair the trees, from his brains the clouds, from his skull the heavens, and from his eyebrows the middle realm in which mankind lives, Midgard. In addition, one stanza relates that the dwarfs were given life by the gods from Ymir’s flesh and blood (or the Earth and sea).

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

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

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

Manu and Mannus

In Hindu mythology, Manu is the name of the traditional progenitor of humankind who survives a deluge and gives mankind laws. The hypothetically reconstructed Proto-Indo-European form *Manus may also have played a role in Proto-Indo-European religion based on this, if there is any connection with the figure of Mannus — reported by the Roman historian Tacitus in ca. AD 70 to be the name of a traditional ancestor of Germans and son of Tuisto; modern sources other than Tacitus have reinterpreted this as “first man”.

Tacitus relates that “ancient songs” (Latin carminibus antiquis) of the Germanic peoples celebrated Tuisto as “a god, born of the earth” (deum terra editum). These songs further attributed to him a son, Mannus, who in turn had three sons, the offspring of whom were referred to as Ingaevones, Herminones and Istaevones, living near the Ocean (proximi Oceano), in the interior (medii), and the remaining parts (ceteri) of the geographical region of Germania, respectively.

The names Mannus and Tuisto/Tuisco seem to have some relation to Proto-Germanic Mannaz, “man” and Tiwaz, “Tyr, the god”. *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.

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

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

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

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

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

Tvastar

In the larger Indo-European pantheon, Tuisto is equated to the Indic/Vedic Tvastar, in the historical Vedic religion, 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”).

Vishvakarman is the personification of creation and the abstract form of the creator God according to the Rigveda. He is the presiding deity of all Vishwakarma (caste), engineers, 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.

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. 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.

Similarly, as mentioned in the epic Mahābhārata, Tvaṣṭr is Śukra’s son. Shukra is a Sanskrit word that means “lucid, clear, bright”. It also has other meanings, such as the name of an ancient sage who counseled Asuras in Vedic mythology. In medieval mythology and Hindu astrology, the term refers to the planet Venus, one of the Navagrahas.

Tvaṣṭṛ is sometimes associated or identified with similar deities, such as Savitṛ, Prajāpatī, Vishvakarman and Puṣan. He is a solar deity in the Mahābhārata and the Harivaṃśa, and is said to have made the three worlds with pieces of the Sun god, Surya.

He is the father of Saranyu (also known as Saranya, Sanjna, Sangya, Randal), the goddess of clouds in Hindu mythology, who is the wife of Surya. Saranya is the mother of Revanta (“brilliant”) and the twin Asvins (the Indian Dioscuri). She is also the mother of Manu, and of the twins Yama and Yami.

Saraṇyū is the female form of the adjective saraṇyú, meaning “quick, fleet, nimble”, used for rivers and wind in the Rigveda (compare also Sarayu). According to Farnell, the meaning of the epithet is to be sought in the original conception of Erinys, which was akin to Ge or Ki, Gaia.

Tvastar is also the father of Viśvarūpa or Triśiras, the three-headed son of Tvashta created by Tvashta to dethrone Indra. Triśiras was killed by Indra, and in revenge Tvaṣṭṛ created Vrtra a fearsome dragon. Surprisingly he is also referred to as Indra’s father.

Purusha

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

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

In the Upanishads, the Purusa concept no longer meant a being or cosmic man. The meaning evolved to an abstract essence of Self, Spirit and the Universal Principle that is eternal, indestructible, without form and all pervasive.

The Purusa concept is explained with the concept of Prakrti in the Upanishads. The universe is envisioned, in these ancient Sanskrit texts, as a combination of perceivable material reality and non-perceivable, non-material laws and principles of nature.

Material reality, or Prakrti, is everything that has changed, can change and is subject to cause and effect. Purusa is the Universal principle that is unchanging, uncaused but is present everywhere and the reason why Prakrti changes, evolves all the time and why there is cause and effect. Purusa is what connects everything and everyone, according to various schools of Hinduism.

Bhrgus and Burri

As per the Ṛgveda, Tvaṣṭr belongs to clan of the Bhṛgus. Búri (or Buri) was the first god in Norse mythology. He is the father of Borr or Burr (Old Norse: ‘son’; sometimes anglicized Bor, Bör or Bur), the husband of Bestla, who is a daughter of the giant Bölthorn (spina calamitosa). Burr is the father of Odin, Vili and Ve, and the grandfather of Thor, Baldr, Víðarr and Váli.

The meaning of either Búri or Buri is not known. The first could be related to búr meaning “storage room” and the second could be related to burr meaning “son”. “Buri” may mean “producer”. Búri was formed by the cow Auðumbla licking the salty ice of Ginnungagap during the time of Ymir. The only extant source of this myth is Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda.

The role of Borr in Norse mythology is unclear. Nineteenth-century German scholar Jacob Grimm proposed to equate Borr with Mannus as related in Tacitus’ Germania on the basis of the similarity in their functions in Germanic theogeny.

19th century Icelandic scholar and archaeologist Finnur Magnússon hypothesized that Borr was “intended to signify […] the first mountain or mountain-chain, which it was deemed by the forefathers of our race had emerged from the waters in the same region where the first land made its appearance.

This mountain chain is probably the Caucasus, called by the Persians Borz (the genitive of the Old Norse Borr). Borr’s wife, Belsta or Bestla, is possibly the mass of ice formed on the alpine summits.”

In his Lexicon Mythologicum, published four years later, he modified his theory to claim that Borr symbolized the earth, and Bestla the ocean, which gave birth to Odin as the “world spirit” or “great soul of the earth” (spiritus mundi nostri; terrae magna anima, aëris et aurae numen), Vili or Hoenir as the “heavenly light” (lux, imprimis coelestis) and Vé or Lódur as “fire” (ignis, vel elementalis vel proprie sic dictus).

Kāśyapa and Aditi

Tvaṣṭṛ is mentioned as the son of Kāśyapa, an ancient sage (rishi) who is counted as one of the Saptarishis in the present manvantara, and Aditi (“limitless”), the mother of the gods (devamata) and all twelve zodiacal spirits from whose cosmic matrix the heavenly bodies were born.

As celestial mother of every existing form and being, the synthesis of all things, she is associated with space (akasa) and with mystic speech (Vāc). She may be seen as a feminized form of Brahma and associated with the primal substance (mulaprakriti) in Vedanta.

She is mentioned nearly 80 times in the Rigveda: the verse “Daksha sprang from Aditi and Aditi from Daksha” is seen by Theosophists as a reference to “the eternal cyclic re-birth of the same divine Essence” and divine wisdom.

Kashyapa was an ancient sage (rishi) who is counted as one of the Saptarishis in the present manvantara (the others are Atri, Vashistha, Vishvamitra, Jamadagni, Bharadwaja and Gautama Maharishi).

Kashyapa is the claimed author of the treatise Kashyapa Samhita, or Jivakiya Tantra, which is considered a classical reference book on Ayurveda especially in the fields of Ayurvedic pediatrics, gynecology and obstetrics.

Kashyapa is a manasputra (wish-born-son) of Lord Brahma. However, he is also seen as the grand son of Lord Brahma, being the son of Marichi, a wish-born son of Lord Brahma. The Prajapati Daksha gave his thirteen daughters (Aditi, Diti, Kadru, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavasha, Ira, Vishva and Muni) in marriage to Kaśyapa.

Yama and Yami

Yami was the first woman, along with her twin brother, Yama in Vedic beliefs. Yama and Yami are a divine pair of creator deities. While Yama is depicted as the Lord of Death, Yami is said to be the Lady of life.

Yama or Yamarāja, also called Imra, is a god of death, the south direction and the underworld, belonging to an early stratum of Rigvedic Hindu deities. In the Zend-Avesta of Zoroastrianism, he is called “Yima”. In Sanskrit, his name can be interpreted to mean “twin”.

In a disputable etymology, W. Meid (1992) has linked the names Yama (reconstructed in Proto-Indo-European as *yemos) and the name of the primeval Norse frost giant Ymir, which can be reconstructed in Proto-Germanic as *umijaz or *jumijaz, in the latter case possibly deriving from PIE

ym̥yos, from the root yem “twin”. In his myth, however, Ymir is not a twin, and only shares with Yama the characteristics of being primeval and mortal. However, Ymir is a hermaphrodite and engenders the race of giants.

According to the Vishnu Purana, his parents are the sun-god Surya and Sanjna, the daughter of Vishvakarman (Sanskrit for “all-accomplishing, maker of all, all-doer”), personification of creation and the abstract form of the creator God according to the Rigveda.

Viśwákarma is the presiding deity of all Vishwakarma (caste), engineers, 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.

Yama is the brother of Sraddhadeva Manu, the current Manu and the progenitor of the current humanity (manvantara), and of his older sister Yami, which Horace Hayman Wilson indicates to mean the Yamuna. According to Harivamsa Purana her name is Daya. There is a temple in Srivanchiyam, Tamil Nadu dedicated to Yama.

Shraddhadeva was the king of the Dravida Kingdom before the great flood. Forewarned about the flood by the matsya avatara of Vishnu, he saved the humanity by building a boat that carried his family and the saptarishi to safety. He is the son of Vivasvat and is therefore also known as Manuvaivasvata. He is also called Satyavrata (always truthful).

Yamuna is a sacred river in Hinduism and the main tributary of the Ganges (Ganga), the holiest river of Hinduism. The river is worshipped as a Hindu goddess called Yamuna. In the Vedas, Yamuna is known as Yami, while in later literature, she is called Kalindi.

In the Vedas, Yami is associated with her twin brother and partner Yama, the god of death. Later, she is associated with the god Krishna as one of Ashtabharya, his consort as well and plays an important role in his early life as a river. Bathing and drinking Yamuna’s waters is regarded to remove sin.

In the Vedas, Yama is said to have been the first mortal who died. By virtue of precedence, he became the ruler of the departed, and is called “Lord of the Pitrs” (“the fathers”), are the spirits of the departed ancestors in Hindu culture.

The Pitṛs are most primeval deities and they never cease to exist. Some of the Pitṛs dwell in the heavenly abodes while other dwell in the netherworlds. The former who dwell in the heaven were considered as the gods and the gods were also considered as the Pitṛs.

The manuṣyāḥ pitaraḥ (ancestors of human beings) can attain the same level of the divine Pitṛs and live with them in heaven by righteousness. They are often remembered annually. They are reborn at the end of every thousand mahayugas and revive the worlds. From them all the Manus and all progeny at the new creation are produced.

In an myth related to Krishna’s birth, Krishna’s father Vasudeva was carrying the new-born Krishna to safety was crossing the Yamuna River, he asked Yamuna to make a way for him to cross the river, which she did by creating a passage. This was the first time that she saw Krishna whom she marries in later life.

Yamuna wanted to touch the feet of the baby which she did at deeper depths of the river and as a result the river became very calm. Krishna also spent most of youth in Vrindavan on the banks of Yamuna, playing the flute and playing with his lover Radha and the gopis on the banks.

Ying and Yang

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

The Chinese terms yīn or (“shady side”) and yáng (“sunny side”) are linguistically analyzable in terms of Chinese characters, pronunciations and etymology, meanings, topography, and loanwords. Many tangible dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water, expanding and contracting) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality symbolized by yin and yang.

Yin is the negative/passive/female principle in nature, and includes the the moon, shade, covert, concealed, and hidden while yang is the positive/active/male principle in nature, and includes the sun, the open, overt, belonging to this world.

This duality lies at the origins of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy, as well as being a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine, and a central principle of different forms of Chinese martial arts and exercise, such as baguazhang, taijiquan (t’ai chi), and qigong (Chi Kung), as well as appearing in the pages of the I Ching.

Duality is found in many belief systems, but Yin and Yang are parts of a Oneness that is also equated with the Tao. A term has been coined dualistic-monism or dialectical monism. Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts.

Everything has both yin and yang aspects, (for instance shadow cannot exist without light). Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation. The yin yang (i.e. taijitu symbol) shows a balance between two opposites with a portion of the opposite element in each section.

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

De and Wuwei

De (“power; virtue; integrity”) is the term generally used to refer to proper adherence to the Tao; De is the active living or cultivation of the way. Particular things (things with names) that manifest from the Tao have their own inner nature that they follow, in accordance with the Tao, and the following of this inner nature is De.

Wuwei (Pinyin: wúwéi) or ‘naturalness’ are contingent on understanding and conforming to this inner nature, which is interpreted variously from a personal, individual nature to a more generalized notion of human nature within the greater Universe.

Historically, the concept of De differed significantly between Taoists and Confucianists. Confucianism was largely a moral system emphasizing the values of humaneness, righteousness, and filial duty, and so conceived De in terms of obedience to rigorously defined and codified social rules.

Taoists took a broader, more naturalistic/metaphysical view on the relationship between humankind and the Universe, and considered social rules to be at best a derivative reflection of the natural and spontaneous interactions between people, and at worst calcified structure that inhibited naturalness and created conflict.

This led to some philosophical and political conflicts between Taoists and Confucianisms. Several sections of the works attributed to Chuang Tzu are dedicated to critiques of the failures of Confucianism.

Dualism

Dualism (from the Latin word duo meaning “two”) denotes the state of two parts. The term dualism was originally coined to denote co-eternal binary opposition, a meaning that is preserved in metaphysical and philosophical duality discourse but has been more generalized in other usages to indicate a system which contains two essential parts.

Moral dualism is the belief of the great complement or conflict between the benevolent and the malevolent. It simply implies that there are two moral opposites at work, independent of any interpretation of what might be “moral” and independent of how these may be represented.

The moral opposites might, for example, exist in a world view which has one god, more than one god, or none. By contrast, ditheism or bitheism implies (at least) two gods. While bitheism implies harmony, ditheism implies rivalry and opposition, such as between good and evil, or bright and dark, or summer and winter. For example, a ditheistic system would be one in which one god is creative, the other destructive.

Alternatively, in ontological dualism, the world is divided into two overarching categories. The opposition and combination of the universe’s two basic principles of yin and yang is a large part of Chinese philosophy, and is an important feature of Taoism, both as a philosophy and as a religion (it is also discussed in Confucianism).

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

In Sumerian mythology, a me (Sumerian, conventionally pronounced [mɛ]) or ñe [ŋɛ] or parşu (Akkadian) 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.

Maat or Ma’at was the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice. Maat was also personified as a goddess regulating the stars, seasons, and the actions of both mortals and the deities, who set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation. Her ideological counterpart was Isfet.

Isfet or Asfet (meaning “injustice”, “chaos”, or “violence”; as a verb, “to do evil”) is an ancient Egyptian term from Egyptian mythology used in philosophy, which was built on a religious, social and political affected dualism.

Isfet was thought to be the counterpart of the term Ma’at (meaning “(world-) order” or “harmony”). According to ancient Egyptian beliefs, Isfet and Ma’at built a complementary and also paradoxical dualism: one could not exist without its counterpart. Isfet and Ma’at balanced each other. An Egyptian king (pharaoh) was appointed to “achieve” Ma’at, which means that he had to keep and protect justice and harmony by destroying Isfet.

Dualism

Tao

Tao or Dao is a Chinese word signifying ‘way’, ‘path’, ‘route’, ‘key’ or sometimes more loosely ‘doctrine’ or ‘principle’. Within the context of traditional Chinese philosophy and religion, the Tao is the intuitive knowing of “life” that cannot be grasped full-heartedly as just a concept but is known nonetheless through actual living experience of one’s everyday being. The Tao differs from conventional (Western) ontology in that it is an active and holistic practice of the natural order of Nature and its universal awakening, rather than a static, atomistic one.

Laozi in the Tao Te Ching explains that the Tao is not a ‘name’ for a ‘thing’ but the underlying natural order of the Universe whose ultimate essence is difficult to circumscribe due to it being non conceptual yet evident’ in one’s being of aliveness.[citation needed] The Tao is “eternally nameless” and to be distinguished from the countless ‘named’ things which are considered to be its manifestations, the reality of life before its descriptions of it.

The Tao lends its name to the religious tradition (Wade–Giles, Tao Chiao; Pinyin, Daojiao) and philosophical tradition (Wade–Giles, Tao chia; Pinyin, Daojia) that are both referred to in English with the single term Taoism.

Arta

In the Vedic religion, Ṛta (aṛtaṃ “that which is properly/excellently joined; order, rule; truth”) is the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it.

In the hymns of the Vedas, Ṛta is described as that which is ultimately responsible for the proper functioning of the natural, moral and sacrificial orders. Conceptually, it is closely allied to the injunctions and ordinances thought to uphold it, collectively referred to as Dharma, and the action of the individual in relation to those ordinances, referred to as Karma – two terms which eventually eclipsed Ṛta in importance as signifying natural, religious and moral order in later Hinduism.

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

Ṛta is derived from the Sanskrit verb root ṛ- “to go, move, rise, tend upwards”, and the derivative noun ṛtam is defined as “fixed or settled order, rule, divine law or truth”. As Mahony (1998) notes, however, the term can just as easily be translated literally as “that which has moved in a fitting manner”, abstractly as “universal law” or “cosmic order”, or simply as “truth”. The latter meaning dominates in the Avestan cognate to Ṛta, aša.

While the concept of Ṛta as an abstract, universal principle generally remained resistant to the anthropomorphic tendencies of the Vedic period, it became increasingly associated with the actions of individual deities, in particular with those of the god Varuna as the omniscient, all-encompassing sky.

As James (1969) notes, Varuna attained the position of “universal Power par excellence maintaining Ṛta” and is celebrated as having “separated and established heaven and earth, spreading them out as the upper and lower firmaments, himself enthroned above them as the universal king, ordering the immutable moral law, exercising his rule by the sovereignty of Ṛta.

Varuna is the Hindu god of water and the celestial ocean, as well as a god of law of the underwater world. A Makara is his mount. His consort is the Hindu goddess Varuni. She represents the purifying nectar of immortality (amrita). She is also “the agent of transcendent wisdom” in Hindu mythology. Originally the chief god of the Vedic pantheon, Varuna was replaced by Indra and later faded away with the ascendancy of Shiva and Vishnu.

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

Both Vedic Ṛta and Avestan aša were conceived of as having a tripartite function which manifested itself in the physical, ethical and ritual domains. In the context of Vedic religion, those features of nature which either remain constant or which occur on a regular basis were seen to be a manifestation of the power of Ṛta in the physical cosmos.

In the human sphere, Ṛta was understood to manifest itself as the imperative force behind both the moral order of society as well as the correct performance of Vedic rituals.

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

Asha is the Avestan language term (corresponding to Vedic language ṛta) for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called “the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism.” Its Old Persian equivalent is arta-. In Middle Iranian languages the term appears as ard-.

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 word is also the proper name of the divinity Asha, the Amesha Spenta that is the hypostasis or “genius” of “Truth” or “Righteousness”. In the Younger Avesta, this figure is more commonly referred to as Asha Vahishta (Aša Vahišta, Arta Vahišta), “Best Truth”.

The opposite of Avestan aša is druj, “lie.” In Avestan, druj- has a secondary derivation, the adjective drəguuaṇt- (Later Avestan druuaṇt-), “partisan of deception, deceiver” for which the superlative draojišta- and perhaps the comparative draoj(ii)ah- are attested.

March

The name of March comes from Latin Martius, the first month of the earliest Roman calendar. It was named for Mars, the Roman god of war who was also regarded as a guardian of agriculture and an ancestor of the Roman people through his sons Romulus and Remus.

His month Martius was the beginning of the season for both farming and warfare, and the festivals held in his honor during the month were mirrored by others in October, when the season for these activities came to a close.

Martius remained the first month of the Roman calendar year perhaps as late as 153 BC, and several religious observances in the first half of the month were originally new year’s celebrations. Even in late antiquity, Roman mosaics picturing the months sometimes still placed March first.

Mars and Nerio/Venus

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming.

Under the influence of Greek culture, Mars was identified with the Greek god Ares, whose myths were reinterpreted in Roman literature and art under the name of Mars. But the character and dignity of Mars differed in fundamental ways from that of his Greek counterpart, who is often treated with contempt and revulsion in Greek literature.

Mars was a part of the Archaic Triad along with Jupiter and Quirinus, the latter of whom as a guardian of the Roman people had no Greek equivalent. Mars’ altar in the Campus Martius, the area of Rome that took its name from him, was supposed to have been dedicated by Numa, the peace-loving semi-legendary second king of Rome.

Although the center of Mars’ worship was originally located outside the sacred boundary of Rome (pomerium), Augustus made the god a renewed focus of Roman religion by establishing the Temple of Mars Ultor in his new forum.

Although Ares was viewed primarily as a destructive and destabilizing force, Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people.

In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia. His love affair with Venus, the Roman goddess whose functions encompassed love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity, victory, and desire, symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.

In Roman mythology, she was the mother of the Roman people through her son, Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy. Julius Caesar claimed her as his ancestor. Venus was central to many religious festivals, and was revered in Roman religion under numerous cult titles.

The Romans adapted the myths and iconography of her Greek counterpart Aphrodite for Roman art and Latin literature. In the later classical tradition of the West, Venus becomes one of the most widely referenced deities of Greco-Roman mythology as the embodiment of love and sexuality.

Spring and Summer Triangle

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.

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. These stars forms part of a larger Spring asterism called the Great Diamond together with Cor Caroli.

The Summer Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn on the northern hemisphere’s celestial sphere, with its defining vertices at Altair, Deneb, and Vega, the brightest stars in the three constellations of Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra, respectively.

Aries

Aries is one of the constellations of the zodiac. It is located in the northern celestial hemisphere between Pisces to the west and Taurus to the east. The name Aries is Latin for ram, and its symbol is representing a ram’s horns.

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 mostly between March 21 and April 19 each year. Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from April 15 to May 14 (approximately).

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

According to the tropical system of astrology, the Sun enters the sign of Aries when it reaches the northern vernal equinox, which occurs around March 21. Individuals born between these dates, depending on which system of astrology they subscribe to, may be called Arians or Ariens.

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.

Tammuz and Inanna

Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) is 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.

Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.

Adonis and Aphrodite/Persephone

The Levantine (“lord”) Adonis, who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort. The Aramaic name “Tammuz” seems to have been derived from the Akkadian form Tammuzi, based on early Sumerian Damu-zid.

Adonis, in Greek mythology, is a central figure in various mystery religions. In 1966, Wahib Atallah wrote that the “cult of Adonis belonged to women,” and further asserted “the cult of dying Adonis was fully developed in the circle of young girls around Sappho on Lesbos, about 600 BC, as a fragment of Sappho reveals.”

There has been much scholarship over the centuries concerning the multiple roles of Adonis, if any, and his meaning and purpose in Greek religious beliefs. Modern scholarship sometimes describes him as 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.

The Greek Adōnis was a borrowing from the Canaanite word ʼadōn, meaning “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. 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.

In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East. 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.

The central myth in its Greek telling: Smyrna, daughter of Theias, king of Assyria, conceives a child by him through trickery. Theias finds out and is determined to kill her, when the gods intervene and turn her into a myrrh tree. Nine months later the baby Adonis comes out of the tree. Aphrodite fell in love with the beautiful youth (possibly because she had been wounded by Eros’ arrow).

Aphrodite sheltered Adonis as a new-born baby and entrusted him to Persephone. Persephone was also taken by Adonis’ beauty and refused to give him back to Aphrodite. The dispute between the two goddesses was settled by Zeus (or by Calliope on Zeus’ behalf): Adonis was to spend one-third of every year with each goddess and the last third wherever he chose. He chose to spend two-thirds of the year with Aphrodite.

Adonis was killed by a wild boar, said to have been sent variously by Artemis, jealous of Adonis’ hunting skills or in retaliation for Aphrodite instigating the death of Hippolytus, a favorite of the huntress goddess; or by Aphrodite’s paramour, Ares, who was jealous of Aphrodite’s love for Adonis; or by Apollo, to punish Aphrodite for blinding his son, Erymanthus.[9] Adonis died in Aphrodite’s arms, who came to him when she heard his groans.

When he died she sprinkled the blood with nectar, from which sprang the short-lived anemone, which takes its name from the wind which so easily makes its petals fall. And so it is the blood of Adonis that each spring turns to red the torrential river, the Adonis River (also known as Abraham River or Nahr Ibrahim in Arabic) in modern Lebanon. Afqa is the sacred source where the waters of the river emerge from a huge grotto in a cliff 200 meters (660 feet) high. It is there that the myth of Astarte (Venus) and Adonis was born.

According to Joseph Campbell the dead and resurrected god Tammuz (Sumerian Dumuzi), became the prototype of the Classical Adonis, who was the consort as well as son by virgin birth, of the goddess-mother of many names: Inanna, Ninhursag, Ishtar, Astarte, Artemis, Demeter, Aphrodite, and Venus.

Astarte was connected with fertility, sexuality, and war. Her symbols were the lion, the horse, the sphinx, the dove, and a star within a circle indicating the planet Venus. Pictorial representations often show her naked. She has been known as the deified morning and/or evening star.

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

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

Herodotus wrote that the religious community of Aphrodite originated in Phoenicia and came to Greeks from there. He also wrote about the world’s largest temple of Aphrodite, in one of the Phoenician cities. Her name is the second name in an energy chant sometimes used in Wicca: “Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.”

Dionysus and Ariadne

Dionysus, the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy in Greek mythology, is presented as son of Zeus and the mortal Semele, thus semi-divine or heroic: and as son of Zeus and Persephone or Demeter, thus both fully divine, part-chthonic and possibly identical with Iacchus of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Dionysus is the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy in Greek mythology. Wine played an important role in Greek culture with the cult of Dionysus the main religious focus for unrestrained consumption. He is sometimes categorised as a dying-and-rising god. In his Thracian mysteries, he wears the bassaris or fox-skin, symbolizing a new life.

The dio- element has been associated since antiquity with Zeus (genitive Dios). The second element -nūsos is associated with Mount Nysa, the birthplace of the god in Greek mythology, where he was nursed by nymphs (the Nysiads), but according to Pherecydes of Syros, nũsa was an archaic word for “tree”.

The cult of Dionysus was closely associated with trees, specifically the fig tree, and some of his bynames exhibit this, such as Endendros “he in the tree” or Dendritēs, “he of the tree”. Peters suggests the original meaning as “he who runs among the trees”, or that of a “runner in the woods”.

Janda (2010) accepts the etymology but proposes the more cosmological interpretation of “he who impels the (world-)tree”. This interpretation explains how Nysa could have been re-interpreted from a meaning of “tree” to the name of a mountain: the axis mundi of Indo-European mythology is represented both as a world-tree and as a world-mountain.

Dionysus is a major, popular figure of Greek mythology and religion, becoming increasingly important over time, and is included in some lists of the twelve Olympians. Dionysus was the last god to be accepted into Mt. Olympus. He was the youngest and the only one to have a mortal mother. His festivals were the driving force behind the development of Greek theatre.

In its fully developed form, his central cult imagery shows his triumphant, disorderly arrival or return, as if from some place beyond the borders of the known and civilized. His procession (thiasus) is made up of wild female followers (maenads) and bearded satyrs with erect penises. Some are armed with the thyrsus, some dance or play music.

Also known as Bacchus, the name adopted by the Romans and the frenzy he induces, bakkheia. He is also called Eleutherios (“the liberator”), whose wine, music and ecstatic dance frees his followers from self-conscious fear and care, and subverts the oppressive restraints of the powerful.

Sarruma

Dionysus is drawn in a chariot, usually by exotic beasts such as lions or tigers, and is sometimes attended by a bearded, drunken Silenus. This procession is presumed to be the cult model for the human followers of his Dionysian Mysteries.

Hebat, also transcribed, Kheba or Khepat, was the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”. She is also a Queen of the deities. Hebat is married to Teshub, the Hurrian god of sky and storm, and is the mother of the god Sarruma (“king of the mountains”) and the goddess Alanzu, as well mother-in-law of the daughter of the dragon Illuyanka.

Sarruma is a son of the weather-god Teshub and the goddess Hebat and brother of the goddess Inara. He is often depicted riding a tiger or panther and carrying an axe (cf. labrys). He is depicted behind his father on the Illuyanka’s relief found in Malatya (dating 1050-850 BC), on display in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, Turkey. His wife is the daughter of the dragon Illuyanka.

Inara, in Hittite–Hurrian mythology, was the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe and daughter of the Storm-god Teshub/Tarhunt. She corresponds to the “potnia theron” of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis. Inara’s mother is probably Hebat and her brother is Sarruma.

After the dragon Illuyanka wins an encounter with the storm god, the latter asks Inara to give a feast, most probably the Purulli festival, a Hattian spring festival, held at Nerik, dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”), a Hurrian Mother Goddess who is married to a new king. Hannahannah was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat.

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

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.

In Hindu mythology, Sarama is a mythological being referred to as the female dog of the gods, or Deva-shuni. She first appears in one of Hinduism’s earliest texts, the Rig Veda, in which she helps the god-king Indra to recover divine cows stolen by the Panis, a class of demons. This legend is alluded to in many later texts, and Sarama is often associated with Indra. The epic Mahabharata, and some Puranas, also make brief reference to Sarama.

Early Rig-Vedic works do not depict Sarama as canine, but later Vedic mythologies and interpretations usually do. She is described as the mother of all dogs, in particular of the two four-eyed brindle dogs of the god Yama, and dogs are given the matronymic Sarameya (“offspring of Sarama”). One scripture further describes Sarama as the mother of all wild animals.

Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. 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, 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.

The bull

Dionysus was a god of resurrection and he was strongly linked to the bull. In a cult hymn from Olympia, at a festival for Hera, Dionysus is invited to come as a bull; “with bull-foot raging”.

Walter Burkert relates, “Quite frequently [Dionysus] is portrayed with bull horns, and in Kyziko she has a tauromorphic image”, and refers also to an archaic myth in which Dionysus is slaughtered as a bull calf and impiously eaten by the Titans.

In the Classical period of Greece, the bull and other animals identified with deities were separated from them as their agalma, a kind of heraldic show-piece that concretely signified their numinous presence.

Epiphany

Dionysus is a god of epiphany, “the god that comes”, and his “foreignness” as an arriving outsider-god may be inherent and essential to his cults. and Scholars of comparative mythology identify both Dionysus and Jesus with the dying-and-returning god mythological archetype.

Epiphany (Koine Greek: Epiphaneia, “Manifestation”, “striking appearance”) or Theophany (Ancient Greek: Τheophaneia meaning “Vision of God”), also known as Three Kings’ Day, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God in his Son as human 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.

Moreover, the feast of the Epiphany, in some Western Christian denominations, also initiates the liturgical season of Epiphanytide. Eastern Christians, on the other hand, commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God.

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.

In many Western Christian Churches, the eve of the feast is celebrated as Twelfth Night. The Monday after Epiphany is known as Plough Monday. The day traditionally saw the resumption of work after the Christmas period.

Iacchus and Zagreus

Dionysus origins are uncertain, and his cults took many forms; some are described by ancient sources as Thracian, others as Greek. In some cults, he arrives from the east, as an Asiatic foreigner; in others, from Ethiopia in the South.

In the Orphism tradition of ancient Greece, he was referred to as Dionysus Zagreus, served as its patron god connected to death and immortality, and symbolized the one who guides reincarnation.

In Greek mythology, Iacchus (also Iacchos, Iakchos) is an epithet of Dionysus, particularly associated with the Mysteries at Eleusis, where he was considered to be the son of Zeus and Demeter.

Iacchus was the torch bearer of the procession from Eleusinion to Eleusis on the sixth day of the greater mysteries, sometimes regarded as the herald of the ‘divine child’ of the Goddess, born in the underworld, and sometimes as the child itself. Iacchus was called “the light-bringing star of our nocturnal rite”, giving him possible associations with Sirius and Sothis.

In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Zagreus was sometimes identified with a god worshipped by the followers of Orphism, the “first Dionysus”, a son of Zeus and Persephone, who was dismembered by the Titans and reborn. However, in the earliest mention of Zagreus, he is paired with Gaia (Earth) and called the “highest” god and Aeschylus links Zagreus with Hades, possibly as Hades’ son, or Hades himself.

Nonnus’ Dionysiaca, tells the story of this Orphic Dionysus, calling him the “older Dionysos … illfated Zagreus”, “Zagreus the horned baby”, “Zagreus, the first Dionysos”, “Zagreus the ancient Dionysos”, and “Dionysos Zagreus”.

Noting “Hades’ identity as Zeus’ katachthonios alter ego”, Gantz thinks it “likely” that Zagreus, originally, perhaps the son of Hades and Persephone, later merged with the Orphic Dionysus, the son of Zeus and Persephone.

Thyrsus

The snake and phallus were both symbols of Dionysus in ancient Greece, a symbolism that continued in Roman culture with Bacchus. He typically wears a panther or leopard skin and carries a Thyrsus – a long stick or wand topped with a pine cone. His iconography sometimes includes maenads, who wear wreaths of ivy and serpents around their hair or neck.

Besides the grapevine and its wild barren alter-ego, the toxic ivy plant, both sacred to him, the fig was also his symbol. The pinecone that tipped his thyrsus linked him to Cybele. His thyrsus is sometimes wound with ivy and dripping with honey. It is a beneficent wand but also a weapon, and can be used to destroy those who oppose his cult and the freedoms he represents.

The earliest cult images of Dionysus show a mature male, bearded and robed. He holds a fennel staff, tipped with a pine-cone and known as a thyrsus. Later images show him as a beardless, sensuous, naked or half-naked androgynous youth: the literature describes him as womanly or “man-womanish”.

A thyrsus or thyrsos was a wand or staff of giant fennel (Ferula communis) covered with ivy vines and leaves, sometimes wound with taeniae and always topped with a pine cone.

The thyrsus, associated with Dionysus (or Bacchus) and his followers, the Satyrs and Maenads, is a symbol of prosperity, fertility, hedonism, and pleasure/enjoyment in general. It has been suggested that this was specifically a fertility phallus, with the fennel representing the shaft of the penis and the pine cone representing the “seed” issuing forth.

Sometimes the thyrsus was displayed in conjunction with a kantharos wine cup, another symbol of Dionysus, forming a male-and-female combination like that of the royal scepter and orb.

Ariadne

Karl Kerenyi and Robert Graves theorize that Ariadne (whose name they derive from Hesychius’s listing of Άδνον, a Cretan-Greek form for arihagne, “utterly pure”) was a Great Goddess of Crete, “the first divine personage of Greek mythology to be immediately recognized in Crete”, once archaeology had begun.

Kerenyi observes that her name is merely an epithet and claims that she was originally the “Mistress of the Labyrinth”, both a winding dance-ground and in the Greek view a prison with the dreaded Minotaur at its centre.

In Greek mythology, was the daughter of Minos, King of Crete, Son of Zeus and his queen Pasiphaë, daughter of Helios. She is mostly associated with mazes and labyrinths because of her involvement in the myths of the Minotaur and Theseus.

According to an Athenian version of the legend, Minos attacked Athens after his son was killed there. The Athenians asked for terms, and were required to sacrifice seven young men and seven maidens to the Minotaur every seven or nine years.

One year, the sacrificial party included Theseus, the son of King Aegeus, who volunteered to come and kill the Minotaur. Ariadne fell in love at first sight, and helped him by giving him a sword and a ball of thread, so that he could find his way out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth.

Her father put her in charge of the labyrinth where sacrifices were made as part of reparations (either to Poseidon or to Athena, depending on the version of the myth); later, she helped Theseus overcome the Minotaur and save the potential sacrificial victims.

Professor Barry Powell has suggested she was Minoan Crete’s Snake Goddess, the name commonly given to a type of figurine depicting a woman holding a snake in each hand, as were found in Minoan archaeological sites in Crete. The figurines have also been interpreted as showing a mistress of animals-type goddess and as a precursor to Athena Parthenos, who is also associated with snakes.

Powell suggested that the snake goddess reduced in legend into a folklore heroine was Ariadne (utterly pure or the very holy one), who is often depicted surrounded by Maenads and satyrs.

The snake goddess’s Minoan name may be related with A-sa-sa-ra, a possible interpretation of inscriptions found in Linear A texts. Although Linear A is not yet deciphered, Palmer relates tentatively the inscription a-sa-sa-ra-me which seems to have accompanied goddesses, with the Hittite išhaššara, which means “mistress”.

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

Some scholars relate the snake goddess with the Phoenician Astarte (virgin daughter). She was the goddess of fertility and sexuality and her worship was connected with an orgiastic cult. Her temples were decorated with serpentine motifs. In a related Greek myth Europa, who is sometimes identified with Astarte in ancient sources, was a Phoenician princess who Zeus abducted and carried to Crete.

Evans tentatively linked the snake goddess with the Egyptian snake goddess Wadjet but did not pursue this connection. Statuettes similar to the “snake goddess” identified as priest of Wadjud and magician were found in Egypt.

Both goddesses have a knot with a projecting looped cord between their breasts. Evans noticed that these are analogous to the sacral knot, his name for a knot with a loop of fabric above and sometimes fringed ends hanging down below. Numerous such symbols in ivory, faience, painted in frescoes or engraved in seals sometimes combined with the symbol of the double-edged axe or labrys which was the most important Minoan religious symbol.

Such symbols were found in Minoan and Mycenaean sites. It is believed that the sacral knot was the symbol of holiness on human figures or cult-objects. Its combination with the double-axe can be compared with the Egyptian ankh (eternal life), or with the tyet (welfare/life) a symbol of Isis (the knot of Isis).

Wadjet had a famous oracle in the city Per-Wadjet (Greek name Buto). According to Herodotus this may have been the source of the oracular tradition which spread to Greece from Egypt. The serpents were considered the protectors of the temples and the chthonic masters of the ancient earth goddess. In Greece the old oracles were devoted to the mother goddess. According to a Greek legend Apollo came to Delphi carrying Cretan priests, and there he possessed the oracle after slaying the serpent Python, the daughter of Gaia.

In other stories, she became the bride of the god Dionysus, with the question of her being mortal or a goddess varying in those accounts. Ariadne (Etruscan: Areatha) is paired with Dionysus (Etruscan: Fufluns) on engraved bronze Etruscan bronze mirrorbacks, where the Athenian culture-hero Theseus is absent, and Semele (Etruscan: Semla), as mother of Dionysus, may accompany the pair, lending a particularly Etruscan air of family authority.

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, as bride to Liber’s Greek equivalent, Dionysus.

Balder and Nanna

Baldr (“lord, prince, king”) is a god in Norse mythology, who is given a central role in the mythology. Despite this his precise function is rather disputed. He is often interpreted as the god of love, peace, forgiveness, justice, light or purity, but was not directly attested as a god of such. He is the second son of Odin and the goddess Frigg. His twin brother is the blind god Höðr.

In Norse mythology, Nanna Nepsdóttir or simply Nanna is a goddess associated with the god Baldr. Nanna is the wife of Baldr and the couple produced a son, the god Forseti (Old Norse “the presiding one,” actually “president” in Modern Icelandic and Faroese) is an Æsir god of justice and reconciliation in Norse mythology. After Baldr’s death, Nanna dies of grief.

Ekur

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.

There is a clear association of Ziggurats with mountain houses. Mountain houses play a certain role in Mesopotamian mythology and Assyro-Babylonian religion, associated with deities such as Anu, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursag.

Enlil (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”) is the god of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance) is associated with the ancient city of Nippur, sometimes referred to as the cult city of Enlil. His temple was named Ekur, “House of the Mountain.” 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.

Such was the sanctity acquired by this edifice that Babylonian and Assyrian rulers, down to the latest days, vied with one another to embellish and restore Enlil’s seat of worship. Eventually, the name Ekur became the designation of a temple in general.

Grouped around the main sanctuary, there arose temples and chapels to the gods and goddesses who formed his court, so that Ekur became the name for an entire sacred precinct in the city of Nippur. The name “mountain house” suggests a lofty structure and was perhaps the designation originally of the staged tower at Nippur, built in imitation of a mountain, with the sacred shrine of the god on the top.

Enlil 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 later Akkadian, Enlil is the son of Anshar and Kishar.

The myth of Enlil and Ninlil discusses when Enlil was a young god, he was banished from Ekur in Nippur, home of the gods, to Kur, the underworld for seducing a goddess named Ninlil. Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, the moon god Sin (Sumerian Nanna/Suen). After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to the Ekur.

As Enlil was the only god who could reach An, the god of heaven, he held sway over the other gods who were assigned tasks by his agent and would travel to Nippur to draw in his power. He is thus seen as the model for kingship. Enlil was assimilated to the north “Pole of the Ecliptic”. His sacred number name was 50.

At a very early period prior to 3000 BC, Nippur had become the centre of a political district of considerable extent. Inscriptions found at Nippur, where extensive excavations were carried on during 1888–1900 by John P. Peters and John Henry Haynes, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, show that Enlil was the head of an extensive pantheon. Among the titles accorded to him are “king of lands”, “king of heaven and earth”, and “father of the gods”.

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”).

Enamtila (É.NAM.TI.LA), a Sumerian term meaning “house of life” or possibly “house of creation”. has also been suggested by Piotr Michalowski to be a part of the Ekur.

A hymn to Nanna illustrates the close relationship between temples, houses and mountains. “In your house on high, in your beloved house, I will come to live, O Nanna, up above in your cedar perfumed mountain”. This was carried-on into later tradition in the Bible by the prophet Micah who envisions “the mountain of the temple of Yahweh”.

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”.

The priests of the Ekur festivities are described with en being the high priest, lagar as his associate, mues the leader of incantations and prayers, and guda the priest responsible for decoration. Sacrifices and food offerings were brought by the king, described as “faithful shepherd” or “noble farmer”.

Lingam

The Lingam (also linga, ling, Shiva linga, Shiv ling, meaning sign, symbol or phallus) is an abstract or aniconic representation of the Hindu deity, Shiva, used for worship in temples, smaller shrines, or as self-manifested natural objects. In traditional Indian society, the lingam is seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of Shiva himself.

The lingam is often represented alongside the yoni (Sanskrit word, literally “origin” or “source” or “womb”), a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti, female creative energy. The union of lingam and yoni represents the “indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female, the passive space and active time from which all life originates”.

The Sanskrit term, liṅgaṃ, has a number of definitions ranging from symbol to phallus, and more specifically, the “genital organ of Śiva worshipped in the form of a Phallus”. In Shaivite Hindu temples, the lingam is a smooth cylindrical mass symbolising Shiva and is worshipped as a symbol of generative power. It is found at the centre of the temple, often resting in the middle of a rimmed, disc-shaped yoni, a representation of Shakti.

Omphalo

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; the most famous of those was at Delphi. Omphalos is also the name of the stone given to Cronus.

In the ancient world of the Mediterranean, it was a powerful religious symbol. Omphalos Syndrome refers to the belief that a place of geopolitical power and currency is the most important place in the world.

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

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

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

Omphalos stones were believed to allow direct communication with the gods. Holland (1933) suggested that the stone was hollow to allow intoxicating vapours breathed by the Oracle to channel through it.

Erwin Rohde wrote that the Python at Delphi was an earth spirit, who was conquered by Apollo and buried under the Omphalos. However, understanding of the use of the omphalos is uncertain due to destruction of the site by Theodosius I and Arcadius in the 4th century CE.

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. This tradition may have stemmed from the similar one at Delphi. The omphalos has a collection box chained next to it.

Dionysus and Kataragama: Parallel Mystery Cults

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The Book of Job

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 16, 2016

 

The Book of Job is one of the Writings (Ketuvim) of the Hebrew Bible, and the first poetic book in the Christian Old Testament. Addressing the theme of God’s justice in the face of human suffering – or more simply, “Why do the righteous suffer?”

Job is an investigation of the problem of divine justice. This problem, known in theology as theodicy, can be rephrased as a question: “Why do the righteous suffer?” The conventional answer in ancient Israel was that God rewards virtue and punishes sin (the principle known as “retributive justice”).

This assumes a world in which human choices and actions are morally significant, but experience demonstrates that suffering cannot be sensibly understood as a consequence of bad choices and actions, and unmerited suffering requires theological candour.

The biblical concept of righteousness was rooted in the covenant-making God who had ordered creation for communal well-being, and the righteous were those who invested in the community, showing special concern for the poor and needy (see Job’s description of his life in chapter 31). Their antithesis were the wicked, who were selfish and greedy.

Satan raises the question of whether there is such a thing as disinterested righteousness: if God rewards righteousness with prosperity, will men not act righteously from selfish motives? He asks God to test this by removing the prosperity of Job, the most righteous of all God’s servants.

The book begins with the frame narrative, giving the reader an omniscient “God’s eye perspective” which introduces Job as a man of exemplary faith and piety, “blameless and upright”, who “fears God” and “shuns evil”.

God is seen initiating the discussion with Satan and approving Job’s suffering, a device which serves three purposes: the usual explanations for suffering, that the sufferer has committed some sin of which he is unaware or that God’s actions are inscrutable, are eliminated; it makes clear that it is not Job who is on trial, but God’s policy of retribution; and the reader sees that God himself bears responsibility for Job’s suffering.

The contrast between the frame and the poetic dialogues and monologues, in which Job never learns of the opening scenes in heaven or of the reason for his suffering, creates a sense of contradictory juxtaposition between the divine and human views of Job’s suffering.

In the poetic dialogues Job’s friends see his suffering and assume he must be guilty, since God is just. Job, knowing he is innocent, concludes that God must be unjust. He retains his piety throughout the story (belying Satan’s suspicion that his righteousness is due to the expectation of reward), but makes clear from his first speech that he agrees with his friends that God should and does reward righteousness.

Elihu rejects the arguments of both parties: Job is wrong to accuse God of injustice, as God is greater than human beings, and nor are the friends correct; for suffering, far from being a punishment, may “rescue the afflicted from their affliction” and make them more amenable to revelation – literally, “open their ears” (36:15).

Chapter 28, the Hymn to Wisdom, introduces another theme, divine wisdom. The hymn does not place any emphasis on retributive justice, stressing instead the inaccessibility of wisdom.

Wisdom cannot be discovered or purchased, it says; God alone knows the meaning of the world, and he grants it only to those who live in reverence before him.

God possesses wisdom because he grasps the complexities of the world (Job 28:24-26) – a theme which looks forward to God’s speech in chapters 38-41 with its repeated refrain “Where were you when…?”

When God finally speaks he neither explains the reason for Job’s suffering (revealed to the reader in the prologue in heaven) nor defends his justice.

The first speech focuses on his role in maintaining order in the universe: the list of things that God does and Job cannot do demonstrates divine wisdom because order is the heart of wisdom. Job then confesses his lack of wisdom, meaning his lack of understanding of the workings of the cosmos and of the ability to maintain it.

The second speech concerns God’s role in controlling behemoth and leviathan, sometimes translated as the hippopotamus and crocodile, but more probably representing primeval cosmic creatures, in either case demonstrating God’s wisdom and power.

Job’s reply to God’s final speech is longer than his first and more complicated. The usual view is that he admits to being wrong to challenge God and now repents “in dust and ashes” (42:6), but the Hebrew is difficult, and an alternative understanding is that Job says he was wrong to repent and mourn and does not retract any of his arguments.

In the concluding part of the frame narrative God restores and increases his prosperity, indicating that the divine policy on retributive justice remains unchanged.

It is a rich theological work setting out a variety of perspectives. It has been widely and often extravagantly praised for its literary qualities, with Alfred, Lord Tennyson calling it “the greatest poem of ancient and modern times”.

However, wisdom literature can be dated back to Sumeria. Several texts from ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt offer parallels to Job, and while it is impossible to tell whether the author of Job was influenced by any of them, their existence suggests that he was the recipient of a long tradition of reflection on the existence of inexplicable suffering.

Seven “debate” topics are known from the Sumerian literature, falling in the category of ‘disputations’; some examples are: the debate between sheep and grain; the debate between bird and fish; the tree and the reed; and the dispute between silver and copper, etc. These topics came some centuries after writing was established in Sumerian Mesopotamia. The debates are philosophical and address humanity’s place in the world.

The Debate between Winter and Summer or Myth of Emesh and Enten is a Sumerian creation myth, written on clay tablets in the mid to late 3rd millennium BC. Samuel Noah Kramer has noted this myth “is the closest extant Sumerian parallel to the Biblical Cain and Abel story” in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 4:1–16). This connection has also been made by other scholars.

The disputation form has also been suggested to have similar elements to the discussions between Job and his friends in the Book of Job. M. L. West noted similarities with Aesop’s fable “a debate between Winter and Spring” along with another similar work by Bion of Smyrna.

Ludlul bēl nēmeqi (“I Will Praise the Lord of Wisdom”), also sometimes known in English as The Poem of the Righteous Sufferer, is a Mesopotamian poem written in Akkadian that concerns itself with the problem of the unjust suffering of an afflicted man, named Shubshi-meshre-Shakkan.

The author is tormented, but he doesn’t know why. He has been faithful in all of his duties to the gods. He speculates that perhaps what is good to man is evil to the gods and vice versa. He is ultimately delivered from his sufferings.

The poem was written on four tablets in its canonical form and consisted of 480 lines. Alternate names for the poem include the Poem of the Righteous Sufferer or the Babylonian Job. According to William Moran, the work is a hymn of thanksgiving to Marduk for recovery from illness.

 

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The Trifunctional Hypothesis

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 11, 2016

The Capitoline Triad was a group of three deities who were worshipped in ancient Roman religion in an elaborate temple on Rome’s Capitoline Hill (Latin Capitolium). Two distinct Capitoline Triads were worshipped at various times in Rome’s history, both originating in ancient traditions predating the Roman Republic.

The one most commonly referred to as the “Capitoline Triad” is the more recent of the two, consisting of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. The earlier triad, sometimes referred to in modern scholarship as the Archaic Triad, consisted of Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus and was Indo-European in origin. Each triad held a central place in the public religion of Rome during its time.

The three deities who are most commonly referred to as the “Capitoline Triad” are a group that supplanted the original Archaic Triad. This group, mirroring the Etruscan divine triad, consisted of Jupiter, the king of the gods; Juno (in her aspect as Iuno Regina, “Queen Juno”), his wife and sister; and Jupiter’s daughter Minerva, the goddess of wisdom.

Unlike the earlier Archaic Triad, which was fairly typical of a trio of supreme divine beings, this grouping of a male god and two goddesses was highly unusual in ancient Indo-European religions. It is almost certainly derived from the Etruscan trio of Tinia, the supreme deity, Uni, his wife, and Menrva, their daughter and the goddess of wisdom.

The original three deities thus worshipped, now more commonly referred to as the Archaic Triad, were Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus. This structure was no longer clearly detectable in later times, and only traces of it could be identified from various literary sources and other testimonies.

Georg Wissowa, in his manual of the Roman religion, identified the structure as a triad on the grounds of the existence in Rome of the three flamines maiores, who carry out service to these three gods. He remarked that this triadic structure looks to be predominant in many sacred formulae which go back to the most ancient period and noted its pivotal role in determining the ordo sacerdotum, the hierarchy of dignity of Roman priests: rex sacrorum, flamen dialis, Flamen Martialis, flamen quirinalis and pontifex maximus in order of decreasing dignity and importance. He remarked that since such an order did no longer reflect the real influence and relationships of power among priests in the later times, it should have reflected a hierarchy of the earliest phase of Roman religion.

Wissowa identified the presence of such a triad also in the Umbrian ritual of Iguvium where only Iove, Marte and Vofionus are granted the epithet of Grabovius and the fact that in Rome the three flamines maiores are all involved in a peculiar way in the cult of goddess Fides.

However Wissowa did not pursue further the analysis of the meaning and function of the structure (which he called Göttersystem) he had identified.

Georges Dumézil in various works, particularly in his Archaic Roman Religion advanced the hypothesis that this triadic structure was a relic of a common Proto-Indo-European religion, based on a trifunctional ideology modelled on the division of that archaic society. The highest deity would thus be a heavenly sovereign endowed with religious, magic and legal powers and prerogatives (connected and related to the king and to priestly sacral lore in human society), followed in order of dignity by the deity representing braveness and military prowess (connected and related to a class of warriors) and lastly a deity representing the common human worldly values of wealth, fertility, and pleasure (connected and related to a class of economic producers). According to the hypothesis, such a tripartite structure must have been common to all Indoeuropean peoples on accounts of its widespread traces in religion and myths from India to Scandinavia, and from Rome to Ireland. However it had disappeared from most societies since prehistoric times, with the notable exception of India.

In Vedic religion the sovereign function was incarnated by Dyaus Pitar and later appeared split into its two aspects of uncanny and awe inspiring almighty power incarnated by Varuna and of source and guardian of justice and compacts incarnated by Mitra. Indra incarnated the military function and the twins Ashvins (or Nasatya) the function of production, wealth, fertility and pleasure. In human society the rajah and the class of the brahmin priests represented the first function (and enjoyed the highest dignity), the warrior class of the kshatriya represented the second function and the artisan and merchant class of the vaishya the third.

Similarly in Rome Jupiter was the supreme ruler of the heavens and god of thunder, represented on earth by the rex, king (later the rex sacrorum) and his substitute, the flamen dialis, the legal aspect of sovereignty being incarnated also by Dius Fidius, Mars was the god of military prowess and a war deity, represented by his flamen martialis; and Quirinus the enigmatic god of the Roman populus (“people”) organised in the curiae as a civilian and productive force, represented by the flamen quirinalis.

Apart than from the analysis of the texts already collected by Wissowa, Dumezil stressed the importance of the tripartite plan of the regia, the cultic centre of Rome and official residence of the rex. As recorded by sources and confirmed by archeological data it was devised to lodge the three major deities Iupiter, Mars, and Ops, the deity of agricultural plenty, in three separate rooms.

The cult of Fides involved the three flamines maiores: they were carried to the sacellum of the deity together in a covered carriage and officiated with their right hand wrapped up to the fingers in a piece of white cloth. The association with the deity that founded divine order (Fides is associated with Iupiter in his function of guardian of the supreme juridical order) underlines the mutual interconnections among them and of the gods they represented with the supreme heavenly order, whose arcane character was represented symbolically in the hidden character of the forms of the cult.

The spolia opima were dedicated by the person who had killed the king or chief of the enemy in battle. They were dedicated to Jupiter in case the Roman was a king or his equivalent (consul, dictator or tribunus militum consulari potestate), to Mars in case he was an officer and to Quirinus in case he was common soldier.[9] The sacrificial animals too were in each case the ones of the respective deity, i. e. an ox to Jupiter, solitaurilia to Mars and a male lamb to Quirinus.

Besides Dumézil analysed the cultual functions of the flamen quirinalis to better understand the characters of this deity. One important element was his officiating on the feriae of the Consualia aestiva ( of the Summer), which associated Quirinus to the cult of Consus and indirectly of Ops (Ops Consivia). Other feriae on which this flamen officiated were the Robigalia, the Quirinalia that Dumezil identifies with the last day of the Fornacalia, also named stultorum feriae because on that day the people who had forgot to roast their spelt on the day prescribed by the curio maximus for their own curia were given a last chance to make amends, and the Larentalia held in memory of Larunda. These religious duties show Quirinus was a civil god related to the agricultural cycle and somehow to the worship of Roman ancestry.

In Dumézil’s view the figure of Quirinus became blurred and started to be connected to the military sphere because of the early assimilation to him of the divinised Romulus, the warring founder and first king of Rome. A coincident facilitating factor of this interpretation was the circumstance that Romulus carried with himself the quality of twin and Quirinus had a correspondence in the theology of the divine twins such the Indian Ashvins and the Scandinavians Vani. The resulting interpretation was the mixed civil and military, warring and peaceful personality of the god.

A detailed discussion of the sources is devoted by Dumézil to showing that they do not support the theory of an agrarian Mars. Mars would be invoked both in the Carmen Arvale and in Cato’s prayer as the guardian, the armed protector of the fields and the harvest. He is definitely not a deity of agricultural plenty and fertility.

It is also noteworthy that according to tradition Romulus established the double role and duties, civil and military, of the Roman citizen. In this way the relationship between Mars and Quirinus became a dialectic one, since Romans would regularly pass from the warring condition to the civil one and vice versa. In the yearly cycle this passage is marked by the rites of the Salii, they themselves divided into two groups, one devoted to the cult of Mars (Salii Palatini, created by Numa) and the other of Quirinus (Salii Collini, created by Tullus Hostilius).

The archaic triad in Dumézil’s view was not strictly speaking a triad, it was rather a structure underlying the earliest religious thought of the Romans, a reflection of the common Indoeuropean heritage.

This grouping has been interpreted as a symbolic representation of early Roman society, wherein Jupiter, standing in for the ritual and augural authority of the Flamen Dialis (high priest of Jupiter) and the chief priestly colleges, represents the priestly class, Mars, with his warrior and agricultural functions, represents the power of the king and young nobles to bring prosperity and victory through sympathetic magic with rituals like the October Horse and the Lupercalia, and Quirinus, with his source as the deified form of Rome’s founder Romulus and his derivation from co-viri (“men together”) representing the combined military and economic strength of the Roman people.

According to Georges Dumézil’s trifunctional hypothesis, this division symbolizes the overarching societal classes of “priest” (Jupiter), “warrior” (Mars) and “farmer” or “civilian” (Quirinus). Though both Mars and Quirinus each had militaristic and agricultural aspects, leading later scholars to frequently equate the two despite their clear distinction in ancient Roman writings, Dumézil argued that Mars represented the Roman gentry in their service as soldiers, while Quirinus represented them in their civilian activities.

Although such a distinction is implied in a few Roman passages, such as when Julius Caesar scornfully calls his soldiers quirites (“citizens”) rather than milites (“soldiers”), the word quirites had by this time been dissociated with the god Quirinus, and it is likely that Quirinus initially had an even more militaristic aspect than Mars, but that over time Mars, partially through synthesis with the Greek god Ares, became more warlike, while Quirinus became more domestic in connotation.

Resolving these inconsistencies and complications is difficult chiefly because of the ambiguous and obscure nature of Quirinus’ cult and worship; while Mars and Jupiter remained the most popular of all Roman gods, Quirinus was a more archaic and opaque deity, diminishing in importance over time.

The trifunctional hypothesis of prehistoric Proto-Indo-European society postulates a tripartite ideology (“idéologie tripartite”) reflected in the existence of three classes or castes—priests, warriors, and commoners (farmers or tradesmen)—corresponding to the three functions of the sacral, the martial and the economic, respectively. The trifunctional thesis is primarily associated with the French mythographer Georges Dumézil who proposed it in 1929 in the book Flamen-Brahman, and later in Mitra-Varuna.

According to Dumézil, Proto-Indo-European society comprised three main groups corresponding to three distinct functions: The function of sovereignty, the military function, and the function of productivity.

Sovereignty fell into two distinct and complementary sub-parts, one formal, juridical and priestly but worldly, the other powerful, unpredictable, and also priestly but rooted in the supernatural world. The second main social division was connected with force, the military and war while the role of the third, ruled by the other two, was productivity, herding, farming and crafts.

Proto-Indo-European mythology was divided in the same way: each social group had its own god or family of gods to represent it and the function of the god or gods matched the function of the group.

Many such divisions occur in history. One example is the supposed division between the king, nobility and regular freemen in early Germanic society. The three Hindu castes, the Brahmans or priests, the Kshatriya—the warriors and military—and the Vaishya—the agriculturalists, cattle rearers and traders—are associated with three philosophical qualities (gunas), Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas respectively. The castes are socio-economic roles filled by members of society. The Shudra, a fourth Indian caste, is an “outer” or serf caste serving the other three.

A 2001 study found that the genetic affinity of Indians to Europeans is proportionate to caste rank, the upper castes being most similar to Europeans whereas lower castes are more like Asians. The researchers believe that the Indo-European speakers entered India from the Northwest, mixing with or displacing proto-Dravidian speakers, and may have established a caste system with themselves primarily in higher castes.

The three divisions of the ideal society described by Socrates in Plato’s The Republic. Terje Leiren discerns a grouping of three Norse gods that corresponds to the trifunctional division; Odin as the patron of priests and magicians, Thor of warriors, and Freyr of fertility and farming.

Bernard Sergent associates the Indo-European language family with certain archaeological cultures in Southern Russia and reconstructs an Indo-European religion based upon the tripartite functions. He has also examined the trifunctional hypothesis in Greek epic, lyric and dramatic poetry.

Supporters of the hypothesis include scholars such as Émile Benveniste, Bernard Sergent and Iaroslav Lebedynsky, who concludes that “the basic idea seems proven in a convincing way”.

The hypothesis was embraced outside the field of Indo-European studies by some mythographers, anthropologists, and historians such as Mircea Eliade, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Marshall Sahlins, Rodney Needham, Jean-Pierre Vernant and Georges Duby.

On the other hand, Allen concludes that the tripartite division may be an artefact, a selection effect rather than an organizing principle used in the societies themselves. Benjamin W. Fortson reports a sense that Dumézil blurred the lines between the three functions and the examples that he gave often had contradictory characteristics, causing detractors to reject his categories as non-existent.

John Brough surmises that societal divisions are common outside of Indo-European societies as well, and consequently the hypothesis has only limited utility in illuminating prehistoric Indo-European society. Cristiano Grottanelli states that while Dumézilian trifunctionalism may be seen in modern and medieval contexts, its projection onto earlier cultures is mistaken. Belier is strongly critical.

The hypothesis has been criticised by historians Carlo Ginzburg, Arnaldo Momigliano and Bruce Lincoln as being based on Dumézil’s sympathies with the political right. Guy G. Stroumsa sees these criticisms as unfounded.

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Nergal/Ereshkigal – Tammuz/Inanna – Tyr/Hel – Balder/Nanna – Mars/Nerio – Vulcan/Venus – Shiva/Kali – Vishnu-Krishna/Lakshmi

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 11, 2016

 

Nergal/Ereshkigal – Tammuz/Inanna – Tyr/Hel – Balder/Nanna – Mars/Nerio – Vulcan/Venus – Shiva-Indra/Kali – Vishnu-Krishna/Lakshmi

Dingir is a Sumerian word for “god.” Its cuneiform sign is most commonly employed as 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 sign in Sumerian cuneiform 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 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.

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

Anu (in Akkadian; Sumerian: An, from An “sky, heaven”) is the earliest attested Sky Father deity. In Sumerian religion, he was also “King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven”, where Anu himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions. He was believed to have the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and to have created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the Royal Tiara. His attendant and vizier was the god Ilabrat.

Anu existed in Sumerian cosmogony as a dome that covered the flat earth; Outside of this dome was the primordial body of water known as Nammu (not to be confused with the subterranean Abzu). In Sumerian, the designation “An” was used interchangeably with “the heavens” so that in some cases it is doubtful whether, under the term, the god An or the heavens is being denoted.

The Akkadians inherited An as the god of heavens from the Sumerian as Anu-, and in Akkadian cuneiform, the DINGIR character may refer either to Anum or to the Akkadian word for god, ilu-, and consequently had two phonetic values an and il. Hittite cuneiform as adapted from the Old Assyrian kept the an value but abandoned il.

In Sumerian texts of the third millennium the goddess Uraš is his consort; later this position was taken by Ki, the personification of earth, and in Akkadian texts by Antu, whose name is probably derived from his own.

A consort Antum (or as some scholars prefer to read, Anatum) is assigned to him, on the theory that every deity must have a female associate. But Anu spent so much time on the ground protecting the Sumerians he left her in Heaven and then met Innin, whom he renamed Innan, or, “Queen of Heaven”. She was later known as Ishtar. Anu resided in her temple the most, and rarely went back up to Heaven. He is also included in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and is a major character in the clay tablets.

When Enlil rose to equal or surpass An in authority, the functions of the two deities came to some extent to overlap. An was also sometimes equated with Amurru, and, in Seleucid Uruk, with Enmešara and Dumuzi. Enmesarra in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld god of the law. Described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore he has been equated with Nergal. On the other hand, he has been described as an ancestor of Enlil, and it has been claimed that Enlil slew him.

Nergal is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta. He seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, the solar deity in ancient Semitic religion, corresponding to the Sumerian god Utu. but only representative of a certain phase of the sun.

Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle. He has also been called “the king of sunset”.

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”.

North (Proto-Germanic *norþ-) comes from the proto-Indo-European *nórto-s ‘submerged’ from the root *ner- ‘left, below, to the left of the rising sun’ whence comes the Ancient Greek name Nereus, in Greek mythology the eldest son of Pontus (the Sea) and Gaia (the Earth), who with Doris, a sea nymph whose name represented the bounty of the sea, fathered the Nereids and Nerites with whom Nereus lived in the Aegean Sea.

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.

In Germanic paganism, Nerthus is a goddess associated with fertility. The name Nerthus is generally held to be a Latinized form of Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, a direct precursor to the Old Norse deity name Njörðr. While scholars have noted numerous parallels between the descriptions of the two figures, Njörðr is attested as a male deity.

Various scholarly theories exist regarding the goddess and her potential later traces amongst the Germanic peoples, including that the figure may be identical to the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr mentioned in two Old Norse sources.

In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. Mars in culture is about the planet Mars in culture. For example, the planet Mars is named after the Roman god of war Mars. In Babylonian astronomy, the planet was named after Nergal, their deity of fire, war, and destruction, most likely due to the planet’s reddish appearance.

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. 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.

Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which existed in many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi. Robert Drews writes that the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix. He suggests that at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names.

The Mitanni kingdom was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians. The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour.

Hittite annals mention a people called Hurri (Ḫu-ur-ri), located in northeastern Syria. A Hittite fragment, probably from the time of Mursili I, mentions a “King of the Hurri”. The Assyro-Akkadian version of the text renders “Hurri” as Hanigalbat. Tushratta, who styles himself “king of Mitanni” in his Akkadian Amarna letters, refers to his kingdom as Hanigalbat.

Egyptian sources call Mitanni “nhrn”, which is usually pronounced as Naharin/Naharina from the Assyro-Akkadian word for “river”, cf. Aram-Naharaim. The name Mitanni is first found in the “memoirs” of the Syrian wars (ca. 1480 BC) of the official astronomer and clockmaker Amenemhet, who returned from the “foreign country called Me-ta-ni” at the time of Thutmose I.

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. 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.

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. It 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.

Urartu (Urartian: Biai, Biainili), corresponding to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat or Kingdom of Van, was an Iron Age kingdom centred on Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands. It is argued on linguistic evidence that proto-Armenian came in contact with Urartian at an early date (3rd-2nd millennium BC), before formation of Urartian kingdom.

The landscape corresponds to the mountainous plateau between Anatolia, Mesopotamia, the Iranian Plateau, and the Caucasus Mountains, later known as the Armenian Highlands. The kingdom rose to power in the mid-ninth century BC, but was conquered by the Medes in the early sixth century BC. The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms.

There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources. The earliest is from an inscription which mentions Armânum together with Ibla (Ebla) as territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in c. 2250 BC.

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”.

Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. He 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. In some texts the god Ninazu is the son of Nergal and Allatu/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”. She was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom.

The goddess Ishtar refers to Ereshkigal as her older sister in the Sumerian hymn “The Descent of Inanna” (which was also in later Babylonian myth, also called “The Descent of Ishtar”). Inanna/Ishtar’s trip and return to the underworld is the most familiar of the myths concerning Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal is the sister and counterpart of Inanna/Ishtar, the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year. She is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines which date back to the Mesopotamia period. According to the doctrine of two kingdoms, the dominions of the two sisters are sharply differentiated, as one is of this world and one of the world of the dead.

Inanna was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. Her symbol is an eight-pointed star or a rosette. She was associated with lions – even then a symbol of power – and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. Her cuneiform ideogram was a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds, representing the doorpost of the storehouse (and thus fertility and plenty).

She was associated with the planet Venus, which at that time was regarded as two stars, the “morning star” and the “evening star.” Dumuzi and his Akkadian counterpart Tammuz both mean ‘The Faithful Son’. This can be translated to Innana’s son who is also her lover. Tammuz is a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states.

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 Levantine (“lord”) Adonis, who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.

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.

Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries. According to some scholars, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is built over a cave that was originally a shrine to Adonis-Tammuz.

Adonis, in Greek mythology, is a central figure in various mystery religions.[citation needed] In 1966, Wahib Atallah wrote that the “cult of Adonis belonged to women,” and further asserted “the cult of dying Adonis was fully developed in the circle of young girls around Sappho on Lesbos, about 600 BC, as a fragment of Sappho reveals.”

There has been much scholarship over the centuries concerning the multiple roles of Adonis, if any, and his meaning and purpose in Greek religious beliefs. Modern scholarship sometimes describes him as 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.

The Greek Adōnis was a borrowing from the Canaanite word ʼadōn, meaning “lord”, which is related to Adonaiֲָֹ, one of the names used to refer to the God of the Hebrew Bible and still used in Judaism to the present day. 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 (see life-death-rebirth deity).

Adonis is the Hellenized form of the Phoenician word “adoni”, meaning “my lord”. It is believed that the cult of Adonis was known to the Greeks from around the sixth century BC, but it is unquestionable that they came to know it through contact with Cyprus. Around this time, the cult of Adonis is noted in the Book of Ezekiel in Jerusalem, though under the Babylonian name Tammuz.

Adonis originally was a Phoenician god of fertility representing the spirit of vegetation.[citation needed] It is further speculated that he was an avatar of the version of Ba’al, worshipped in Ugarit. 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 ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming.

Although Ares was viewed primarily as a destructive and destabilizing force, Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people. In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia. His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.

The union of Venus and Mars held greater appeal for poets and philosophers, and the couple were a frequent subject of art. In Greek myth, the adultery of Ares and Aphrodite had been exposed to ridicule when her husband Hephaestus (whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan) caught them in the act by means of a magical snare. Although not originally part of the Roman tradition, in 217 BC Venus and Mars were presented as a complementary pair in the lectisternium, a public banquet at which images of twelve major gods of the Roman state were presented on couches as if present and participating.

Vulcan is the god of fire including the fire of volcanoes, metalworking, and the forge in ancient Roman religion and myth. Vulcan is often depicted with a blacksmith’s hammer. The Vulcanalia was the annual festival held August 23 in his honor. His Greek counterpart is Hephaestus, the god of fire and smithery. In Etruscan religion, he is identified with Sethlans.

Vulcan belongs to the most ancient stage of Roman religion: Varro, the ancient Roman scholar and writer, citing the Annales Maximi, records that king Titus Tatius dedicated altars to a series of deities among which Vulcan is mentioned.

Through his identification with the Hephaestus of Greek mythology, Vulcan came to be considered as the manufacturer of art, arms, iron, jewelry, and armor for various gods and heroes, including the lightning bolts of Jupiter. He was the son of Jupiter and Juno, and the husband of Maia and Aphrodite (Venus). His smithy was believed to be situated underneath Mount Etna in Sicily.

As the son of Jupiter, the king of the gods, and Juno, the queen of the gods, Vulcan should have been quite handsome, but baby Vulcan was small and ugly with a red, bawling face. Juno was so horrified that she hurled the tiny baby off the top of Mount Olympus.

Vulcan fell down for a day and a night, landing in the sea. Unfortunately, one of his legs broke as he hit the water, and never developed properly. Vulcan sank to the depths of the ocean, where the sea-nymph Thetis found him and took him to her underwater grotto, wanting to raise him as her own son.

Vulcan had a happy childhood with dolphins as his playmates and pearls as his toys. Late in his childhood, he found the remains of a fisherman’s fire on the beach and became fascinated with an unextinguished coal, still red-hot and glowing.

Virility (from the Latin virilitas, manhood or virility, derived from Latin vir, man) as a kind of life force (vis) or virtue (virtus) is an essential characteristic of Mars. As an agricultural guardian, he directs his energies toward creating conditions that allow crops to grow, which may include warding off hostile forces of nature. As an embodiment of masculine aggression, he is the force that drives wars – but ideally, war that delivers a secure peace.

The consort of Mars was Nerio or Nerine, “Valor.” She represents the vital force (vis), power (potentia) and majesty (maiestas) of Mars. Her name was regarded as Sabine in origin and is equivalent to Latin virtus, “manly virtue” (from vir, “man”). In the early 3rd century BC, the comic playwright Plautus has a reference to Mars greeting Nerio, his wife. A source from late antiquity says that Mars and Nerine were celebrated together at a festival held on March 23. In the later Roman Empire, Nerine came to be identified with Minerva.

Nerio probably originates as a divine personification of Mars’ power, as such abstractions in Latin are generally feminine. Her name appears with that of Mars in an archaic prayer invoking a series of abstract qualities, each paired with the name of a deity. The influence of Greek mythology and its anthropomorphic gods may have caused Roman writers to treat these pairs as “marriages.”

Dyēus (also *Dyēus Ph₂tḗr, alternatively spelled dyēws) is believed to have been the chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. Part of a larger pantheon, he was the god of the daylight sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society. In his aspect as a father god, his consort would have been Pltwih Méhter, “earth mother”.

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 *h₂ewsṓs- or *h₂ausōs-, an s-stem), besides numerous epithets. Derivatives of *h₂ewsṓs in the historical mythologies of Indo-European peoples include Indian Uṣas, Greek Ēōs, Latin Aurōra, and Baltic Aušra (“dawn”, c.f. Lithuanian Aušrinė). Germanic *Austrōn- is from an extended stem *hews-tro-.

Ēostre or Ostara is a Germanic goddess 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 in some languages. 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 Ēostre’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.

The name *hewsṓs is derived from a root *hwes / *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, *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 love goddess aspect was separated from the personification of dawn in a number of traditions, including Roman Venus vs. Aurora, and Greek Aphrodite vs. Eos. The name of Aphrodite Άφροδίτη may still preserve her role as a dawn goddess, etymologized as “she who shines from the foam [ocean]” (from aphros “foam” and deato “to shine”).

J.P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams (1997) have also proposed an etymology based on the connection with the Indo-European dawn goddess, from *abhor- “very” and *dhei “to shine”. Other epithets include Erigone “early-born” in Greek.

The Italic goddess Mater Matuta “Mother Morning” has been connected to Aurora by Roman authors (Lucretius, Priscianus). Her festival, the Matralia, fell on 11 June, beginning at dawn.

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 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. Most notably, it is the central myth of the Rigveda, a collection of hymns surrounding the Soma rituals dedicated to Indra in the new year celebrations of the early Indo-Aryans.

This deity is not directly attested; rather, scholars have reconstructed this deity from the languages and cultures of later Indo-European peoples such as the Greeks, Latins, and Indo-Aryans. According to this scholarly reconstruction, Dyeus was addressed as Dyeu Phter, literally “sky father” or “shining father”, as reflected in Latin Iūpiter, Diēspiter, possibly Dis Pater and deus pater, Greek Zeu pater, Sanskrit Dyàuṣpítaḥ.

Dīs Pater was a Roman god of the underworld, later subsumed by Pluto or Hades (Hades was Greek). Originally a chthonic god of riches, fertile agricultural land, and underground mineral wealth, he was later commonly equated with the Roman deities Pluto and Orcus, becoming an underworld deity.

Dīs Pater was commonly shortened to simply Dīs. This name has since become an alternative name for the underworld or a part of the underworld, such as the City of Dis of The Divine Comedy.

Cicero in his De Natura Deorum derives the name of Dīs Pater from dives, suggesting a meaning of “father of riches”, directly corresponding to the name Pluto (from Ploutōn, meaning “wealthy”).

According to some 19th century authors many of Cicero’s etymological derivations are not to be taken seriously, and may indeed have been intended ironically, however, this particular derivation of Cicero’s has been accepted by some contemporary authors, some even suggesting that Dīs Pater is a direct loan translation of Ploutōn. Alternatively, he may be a secondary reflex of the same god as Jupiter (Proto-Indo-European Dyeus Phter).

Like Pluto, Dīs Pater eventually became associated with death and the underworld because the wealth of the earth—gems and precious metals—was considered in the domain of the Greco-Roman underworld. As a result, Dīs Pater was over time conflated with the Greek god Hades.

In being conflated with Pluto, Dīs Pater took on some of the Greek mythological attributes of Pluto/Hades, being one of the three sons of Saturn (Greek: Cronus) and Ops (Greek: Rhea), along with Jupiter and Neptune. He ruled the underworld and the dead beside his wife, Proserpina (Greek: Persephone). In literature, Dīs Pater was commonly used as a symbolic and poetic way of referring to death itself.

In Greek mythology, Persephone, also called Kore or Cora (“the maiden”), is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter, and is the queen of the underworld. Homer describes her as the formidable, venerable majestic princess of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. Persephone was married to Hades, the god-king of the underworld. In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina, and her mother, Ceres.

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

Persephone as a vegetation goddess and her mother Demeter were the central figures of the Eleusinian mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon and promised the initiated a more enjoyable prospect after death. Persephone is further said to have become by Zeus the mother of Dionysus, Iacchus, or Zagreus, usually in orphic tradition. The origins of her cult are uncertain, but it was based on very old agrarian cults of agricultural communities.

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

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.

Týr is a Germanic 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 rendered as Tius or Tio and also formally as Mars Thincsus.

In the late Icelandic Eddas, Týr 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. 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.

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.This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus.

Dione is the name of four women in ancient Greek mythology, and one in the Phoenician mythology of Sanchuniathon. Dione is translated as “Goddess”, and given the same etymological derivation as the names Zeus, Diana, et al. Very little information exists about these nymphs or goddesses, although at least one is described as beautiful and is sometimes associated with water or the sea. Perhaps this same one was worshiped as a mother goddess who presided over the oracle at Dodona, Greece and was called the mother of Aphrodite.

One Dione is identified as the mother of the Roman goddess of love, Venus, or equivalently as the mother of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite; but Dione is also sometimes identified with Aphrodite.

Dione is among the Titanides or Titanesses. She is called a daughter of Okeanos and Tethys, hence an Oceanid, a water-nymph. She is otherwise called a daughter of Gaia; according to worshippers of Orpheus her father is the sky-god Uranus, while others identify her father as Aether. She and Zeus are called the parents of Aphrodite by some ancient sources. Hesiod listed Dione among the wives of Zeus who were daughters of Tethys and Okeanos; she is described as beautiful in the “sacred books of Orpheus”. She was one of the goddesses assembled to witness the birth of Apollo.

The Greek goddess of love sometimes takes the name Dione: this may identify her with Aphrodite, though Homer calls Dione the mother of Aphrodite. Károly Kerényi notes in this context that the name Dione resembles the Latin name Diana, and is a feminine form of the name Zeus (cf Latin deus, god), hence meaning “goddess of the bright sky”. This association does not prevent her, however, from being worshipped along with Zeus as a deity of springs, making her a water-goddess.

In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon, and nature being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was eventually equated with the Greek goddess Artemis. Diana was known to be the virgin goddess of childbirth and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses, along with Minerva and Vesta, who swore never to marry.

Diana (pronounced with long ‘ī’ and ‘ā’) is an adjectival form developed from an ancient *divios, corresponding to later ‘divus’, ‘dius’, as in Dius Fidius, Dea Dia and in the neuter form dium meaning the sky. It is rooted in Indoeuropean *d(e)y(e)w, meaning bright sky or daylight, from which also derived the name of Vedic god Dyaus and the Latin deus, (god), dies, (day, daylight), and ” diurnal”, (daytime).

On the Tablets of Pylos a theonym diwia is supposed as referring to a deity precursor of Artemis. Modern scholars mostly accept the identification. The ancient Latin writers Varro and Cicero considered the etymology of Dīāna as allied to that of dies and connected to the shine of the Moon.

In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. 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.

In the same source, her appearance is described as half blue and half flesh-coloured and further as having a gloomy, downcast appearance. The Prose Edda details that Hel rules over vast mansions with many servants in her underworld realm and plays a key role in the attempted resurrection of the god Baldr.

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.

In Norse mythology, Nanna Nepsdóttir or simply Nanna is a goddess associated with the god Baldr (“lord, prince, king”). Accounts of Nanna vary greatly by source. In the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, Nanna is the wife of Baldr and the couple produced a son, the god Forseti (Old Norse “the presiding one,” actually “president” in Modern Icelandic and Faroese), an Æsir god of justice and reconciliation.

After Baldr’s death, Nanna dies of grief. Nanna is placed on Baldr’s ship with his corpse and the two are set aflame and pushed out to sea. In Hel, Baldr and Nanna are united again.

Shiva (Sanskrit: Śiva, lit. the auspicious one) is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme god within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism.

In the Skanda Purana, a Hindu religious text, Mars is known as the deity Mangala and was born from the sweat of Shiva. The planet is called Angaraka in Sanskrit, after the celibate god of war who possesses the signs of Aries and Scorpio, and teaches the occult sciences.

Shiva is “the transformer” within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. In Shaivism tradition, Shiva is the Supreme being who creates, protects and transforms the universe. In the goddess tradition of Hinduism called Shaktism, the goddess is described as supreme, yet Shiva is revered along with Vishnu and Brahma. A goddess is stated to be the energy and creative power (Shakti) of each, with Parvati the equal complementary partner of Shiva. He is one of the five equivalent deities in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta tradition of Hinduism.

At the highest level, Shiva is regarded as formless, limitless, transcendent and unchanging absolute Brahman, and the primal Atman (soul, self) of the universe. Shiva has many benevolent and fearsome depictions. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya. In his fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also known as Adiyogi Shiva regarded as the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts.

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

Parvati is the Hindu goddess of fertility, love and devotion; as well as of divine strength and power. She is the gentle and nurturing aspect of the Hindu goddess Shakti and one of the central deities of the Goddess-oriented Shakta sect. She is the mother goddess in Hinduism, and has many attributes and aspects. Each of her aspects is expressed with a different name, giving her over 100 names in regional Hindu stories of India.

Parvati is the wife of the Hindu god Shiva – the protector and regenerator of universe and all life. She is the daughter of the mountain king Himavan and mother Mena. Parvati is the mother of Hindu deities Ganesha and Kartikeya. Some communities also believe her to be the sister of the god Vishnu and the river-goddess Ganga.

With Shiva, Parvati is a central deity in the Shaiva sect. In Hindu belief, she is the recreative energy and power of Shiva, and she is the cause of a bond that connects all beings and a means of their spiritual release. In Hindu temples dedicated to her and Shiva, she is symbolically represented as the argha or yoni.

The apparent contradiction that Parvati is addressed as the fair one, Gauri, as well as the dark one, Kali or Shyama, as a calm and placid wife Parvati mentioned as Gauri and as a goddess who destroys evil she is Kali. Regional stories of Gauri suggest an alternate origin for Gauri’s name and complexion. In parts of India, Gauri’s skin color is golden or yellow in honor of her being the goddess of ripened corn/harvest and of fertility.

Parvati is closely related in symbolism and powers as Cybele of Greek and Roman mythology and as Vesta the guardian goddess of children. In her manifestation as Durga, Parvati parallels Mater Montana. She is the equivalent of Magna Mater (Universal Mother). As Kali and punisher of all evil, she corresponds to Proserpine and Diana Taurica.

As Bhawani and goddess of fertility and birthing, she is the symbolic equivalent of Ephesian Diana. In Crete, Rhea is the mythological figure, goddess of the mountains, paralleling Parvati; while in some mythologies from islands of Greece, the terrifying goddess mirroring Parvati is Diktynna (also called Britomartis). At Ephesus, Cybele is shown with lions, just like iconography of Parvati is sometimes shown with a lion.

Carl Jung, in Mysterium Coniunctionis, states that aspects of Parvati belong to the same category of black goddesses as Artemis, Isis and Mary. Edmund Leach equates Parvati in her relationship with Shiva, with that of Greek goddess Aphrodite – a symbol of sexual love.

The “Trimūrti” (“three forms”) is the trinity of supreme divinity in Hinduism in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified as a triad of deities, typically Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer or transformer, though individual denominations may vary from that particular line-up. When all three deities of the Trimurti incarnate into a single avatar, the avatar is known as Dattatreya. However, ancient Hindu texts mention other trinities of gods or goddesses, which do not include Brahma.

Vishnu is one of the principal deities of Hinduism, and the Supreme Being in its Vaishnavism tradition. In Vaishnavism, Vishnu is identical to the formless metaphysical concept called Brahman, the supreme, the Svayam Bhagavan, who takes various avatars as “the preserver, protector” whenever the world is threatened with evil, chaos, and destructive forces.

His avatars (incarnations) most notably include Krishna in the Mahabharata and Rama in the Ramayana. He is also known as Narayana, Jagannatha, Vasudeva, Vithoba, and Hari. He is one of the five equivalent deities worshipped in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta Tradition of Hinduism.

In Hindu inconography, Vishnu is usually depicted as having a dark, or pale blue complexion and having four arms. He holds a padma (lotus flower) in his lower left hand, Kaumodaki gada (mace) in his lower right hand, Panchajanya shankha (conch) in his upper left hand and the Sudarshana Chakra (discus) in his upper right hand.

A traditional depiction is Lord Vishnu reclining on the coils of Ananta, accompanied by his consort devi Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity, as he “dreams the universe into reality”. Lakshmi is the shakti (energy) of Vishnu.

In Hindu mythologies, she was born from the churning of the primordial ocean (Samudra manthan) and she chose Vishnu as her eternal consort. When Vishnu descended on the Earth as the avatars Rama and Krishna, Lakshmi descended as his respective consort Sita (Rama’s wife) and Rukmini (Krishna’s wife).

In the ancient scriptures of India, all women are declared to be embodiments of Lakshmi. The marriage and relationship between Lakshmi and Vishnu as wife and husband, is the paradigm for rituals and ceremonies for the bride and groom in Hindu weddings. Lakshmi is considered another aspect of the same supreme goddess principle in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism.

Lakshmi is depicted in Indian art as an elegantly dressed, prosperity showering golden-coloured woman with owl as her vehicle, signifying the importance of economic activity in maintenance of life, her ability to move, work and prevail in confusing darkness. She typically stands or sits like a yogin on a lotus pedestal and holds lotus in her hand, a symbolism for fortune, self-knowledge and spiritual liberation. Her iconography shows her with four hands, which represent the four goals of human life considered important to the Hindu way of life – dharma, kāma, artha, and moksha.

Brahma is the creator god in the Trimurti of Hinduism. He has four faces, looking in the four directions. He is also known as Svayambhu (self-born), Vāgīśa (Lord of Speech), and the creator of the four Vedas, one from each of his mouths. Brahma is identified with the Vedic god Prajapati, as well as linked to Kama and Hiranyagarbha (the cosmic egg), he is more prominently mentioned in the post-Vedic Hindu epics and the mythologies in the Puranas. In the epics, he is conflated with Purusha.

While Brahma is often credited as the creator of the universe and various beings in it, several Puranas describe him being born from a lotus emerging from the navel of the god Vishnu. Other Puranas suggest that he is born from Shiva or his aspects, or he is a supreme god in diverse versions of Hindu mythology. Brahma, along with all dieties, is sometimes viewed as a form (saguna) of the otherwise formless (nirguna) Brahman, the ultimate metaphysical reality and cosmic soul in Advaita philosophy.

Brahma does not enjoy popular worship in present-age Hinduism and has lesser importance than the other members of the Trimurti, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma is revered in ancient texts, yet rarely worshipped as a primary deity in India.

Saraswati, the consort of Brahma, is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and learning. She is a part of the trinity (Tridevi) of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati. All the three forms help the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to create, maintain and regenerate-recycle the Universe respectively.

The earliest known mention of Saraswati as a goddess is in the Rigveda. She has remained significant as a goddess from the Vedic period through modern times of Hindu traditions. Some Hindus celebrate the festival of Vasant Panchami (the fifth day of spring) in her honour, and mark the day by helping young children learn how to write alphabets on that day.

Kālī, also known as Kālikā, is a Hindu goddess. Her earliest appearance is that of a destroyer principally of evil forces. She is the goddess of one of the four subcategories of the Kulamārga, a category of tantric Saivism. Over time, she has been worshipped by devotional movements and tantric sects variously as the Divine Mother, Mother of the Universe, Adi Shakti, or Adi Parashakti. Shakta Hindu and Tantric sects additionally worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman. She is also seen as divine protector and the one who bestows moksha, or liberation.

Kālī is the feminine form of kālam (“black, dark coloured”). Kālī also shares the meaning of “time”, “one who is time” or “the fullness of time” with the masculine noun “kāla”—and by extension, time as “that which brings all things to life or an end.” Other names include Kālarātri (“the night of death” or “the night of destruction”), and Kālikā (“the black one”).

The homonymous kāla, “appointed time”, which depending on context can mean “death”, is distinct from kāla “black”, but became associated through popular etymology. The association is seen in a passage from the Mahābhārata, depicting a female figure who carries away the spirits of slain warriors and animals. She is called kālarātri (which Thomas Coburn, a historian of Sanskrit Goddess literature, translates as “night of death”) and also kālī (which, as Coburn notes, can be read here either as a proper name or as a description “the black one”). Kālī is also the feminine form of Kāla, an epithet of Shiva, and thus the consort of Shiva.

Kali is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her. Kali is standing calm on Shiva ,her appearance represents the preservation of mother nature. Her free, long and black hair represents nature’s freedom from civilization. Under the third eye of kali, the signs of both sun, moon and fire are visible which represent the driving forces of nature. Kali is not always thought of as a Dark Goddess. Despite Kali’s origins in battle, She evolved to a full-fledged symbol of Mother Nature in Her creative, nurturing and devouring aspects. She is referred to as a great and loving primordial Mother Goddess in the Hindu tantric tradition.

Kali is portrayed mostly in two forms: the popular four-armed form and the ten-armed Mahakali form. In both of her forms, she is described as being black in colour but is most often depicted as blue in popular Indian art. Her eyes are described as red with intoxication, and in absolute rage, her hair is shown disheveled, small fangs sometimes protrude out of her mouth, and her tongue is lolling.

She is often shown naked or just wearing a skirt made of human arms and a garland of human heads. She is also accompanied by serpents and a jackal while standing on the calm and prostrate Shiva, usually right foot forward to symbolize the more popular Dakshinamarga or right-handed path, as opposed to the more infamous and transgressive Vamamarga or left-handed path.

Mahakali (literally translated as Great Kali, is sometimes considered as a greater form of Kali, identified with the Ultimate reality of Brahman. It can also be used as an honorific of the Goddess Kali, signifying her greatness by the prefix “Mahā-“.

Mahakali, in Sanskrit, is etymologically the feminized variant of Mahakala or Great Time (which is interpreted also as Death), an epithet of the God Shiva in Hinduism. Mahakali is the presiding Goddess of the first episode of the Devi Mahatmya. Here she is depicted as Devi in her universal form as Shakti. Here Devi serves as the agent who allows the cosmic order to be restored.

The Lingam (also linga, ling, Shiva linga, Shiv ling, meaning sign, symbol or phallus) is an abstract or aniconic representation of the Hindu deity, Shiva, used for worship in temples, smaller shrines, or as self-manifested natural objects. In traditional Indian society, the lingam is seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of Shiva himself.

The lingam is often represented alongside the yoni (Sanskrit word, literally “origin” or “source” or “womb”), a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti, female creative energy. The union of lingam and yoni represents the “indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female, the passive space and active time from which all life originates”.

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.

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.

There is a clear association of Ziggurats with mountain houses. Mountain houses play a certain role in Mesopotamian mythology and Assyro-Babylonian religion, associated with deities such as Anu, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursag. 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”). Enamtila (É.NAM.TI.LA, E-nam-ti-la), a Sumerian term meaning “house of life” or possibly “house of creation”, has also been suggested by Piotr Michalowski to be a part of the Ekur.

A hymn to Nanna illustrates the close relationship between temples, houses and mountains. “In your house on high, in your beloved house, I will come to live, O Nanna, up above in your cedar perfumed mountain”. This was carried-on into later tradition in the Bible by the prophet Micah who envisions “the mountain of the temple of Yahweh”.

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”.

The priests of the Ekur festivities are described with en being the high priest, lagar as his associate, mues the leader of incantations and prayers, and guda the priest responsible for decoration. Sacrifices and food offerings were brought by the king, described as “faithful shepherd” or “noble farmer”.

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 mostly between March 21 and April 19 each year. Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from April 15 to May 14 (approximately). The symbol of the ram is based on the Chrysomallus, the flying ram that provided the Golden Fleece. In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece is the fleece of the gold-hair[a] winged ram, which was held in Colchis. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship.

According to the tropical system of astrology, the Sun enters the sign of Aries when it reaches the northern vernal equinox, which occurs around March 21. Because the Earth takes approximately 365.25 days to go around the Sun, the precise time of the equinox is not the same each year, and generally will occur about 6 hours later each year, with a jump of a day (backwards) on leap years.

March is the third month of the year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. It is the second month to have a length of 31 days. In the Northern Hemisphere, the meteorological beginning of spring occurs on the first day of March. The March equinox on the 20th or 21st marks the astronomical beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, where September is the seasonal equivalent of the Northern Hemisphere’s March.

The name of March comes from Latin Martius, the first month of the earliest Roman calendar. It was named for Mars, the Roman god of war who was also regarded as a guardian of agriculture and an ancestor of the Roman people through his sons Romulus and Remus. His month Martius was the beginning of the season for both farming and warfare, and the festivals held in his honor during the month were mirrored by others in October, when the season for these activities came to a close.

Martius remained the first month of the Roman calendar year perhaps as late as 153 BC, and several religious observances in the first half of the month were originally new year’s celebrations. Even in late antiquity, Roman mosaics picturing the months sometimes still placed March first. March 1 began the numbered year in Russia until the end of the 15th century.

Great Britain and its colonies continued to use March 25 until 1752, when they finally adopted the Gregorian calendar (the fiscal year in the UK continues to begin on the 6th April, initially identical to 25 March in the former Julian calendar). Many other cultures and religions still celebrate the beginning of the New Year in March.

March is the first month of spring in the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Europe, Asia and part of Africa) and the first month of fall or autumn in the Southern Hemisphere (South America, part of Africa, and Oceania).

Maria is a female given name in many diverse languages. In the Roman Empire, the name was used as a feminine form of the Roman name Marius. Mary, also known by various titles, styles and honorifics, was a 1st-century Galilean Jewish woman of Nazareth and the mother of Jesus, according to the New Testament and the Quran.

The name became popular with the spread of Christianity as a Latinized form of the Hebrew name of Jesus’ mother Mary (Miriam in Hebrew or Maryam in Aramaic). As a result of their similarity and syncretism, the Latin original name Maria and the Hebrew-derived Maria combined to form a single name.

The meaning of the Semitic-rooted name is uncertain, but it may originally be an Egyptian name, probably derived from mry “beloved” or mr “love” (“eminent lady” or “beloved lady”). The meaning of the Latin-rooted name is similarly ambiguous, possibly deriving from mare (“sea” in Latin), maris (“male”), or the name of the god Mars.

The gospels of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament describe Mary as a virgin and Christians believe that she conceived her son while a virgin by the Holy Spirit. The miraculous birth took place when she was already betrothed to Joseph and was awaiting the concluding rite of marriage, the formal home-taking ceremony. She married Joseph and accompanied him to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.

The Gospel of Luke begins its account of Mary’s life with the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and announced her divine selection to be the mother of Jesus. According to canonical gospel accounts, Mary was present at the crucifixion and is depicted as a member of the early Christian community in Jerusalem.

According to the Catholic and Orthodox teaching, at the end of her earthly life her body was assumed to have been taken directly into Heaven; this is known in the West as the Assumption. In the Middle Ages, Virgo was sometimes associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Greeks and Romans associated Virgo with their goddess of wheat/agriculture, Demeter-Ceres who is the mother of Persephone-Proserpina. Alternatively, she was sometimes identified as the virgin goddess Iustitia or Astraea, holding the scales of justice in her hand as the constellation Libra.

Another myth identifies Virgo as Erigone, the daughter of Icarius of Athens. Icarius, who had been favoured by Dionysus, was killed by his shepherds while they were intoxicated and Erigone hanged herself in grief; Dionysus placed the father and daughter in the stars as Boötes and Virgo respectively.

Astraea or Astrea (“star-maiden”), in ancient Greek religion, was a daughter of Astraeus and Eos. She was the virgin goddess of innocence and purity and is always associated with the Greek goddess of justice, Dike (daughter of Zeus and Themis and the personification of just judgement).

Astraea, the celestial virgin, was the last of the immortals to live with humans during the Golden Age, one of the old Greek religion’s five deteriorating Ages of Man. According to Ovid, Astraea abandoned the earth during the Iron Age.

Fleeing from the new wickedness of humanity, she ascended to heaven to become the constellation Virgo. The nearby constellation Libra reflected her symbolic association with Dike, who in Latin culture as Justitia is said to preside over the constellation. In the Tarot, the 8th card, Justice, with a figure of Justitia, can thus be considered related to the figure of Astraea on historical iconographic grounds.

According to legend, Astraea will one day come back to Earth, bringing with her the return of the utopian Golden Age of which she was the ambassador.

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). In Greco-Roman times Hera, and her Roman aspect Juno bore this title. Elsewhere, Nordic Frigg also bore this title. Forms and content of worship varied.

Hebat, also transcribed, Kheba or Khepat, was 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.

The Hittite sun goddess Arinniti was later assimilated with Hebat. A prayer of Queen Puduhepa makes this explicit: “To the Sun-goddess of Arinna, my lady, the mistress of the Hatti lands, the queen of Heaven and Earth. Sun-goddess of Arinna, thou art Queen of all countries! In the Hatti country thou bearest the name of the Sun-goddess of Arinna; but in the land which thou madest the cedar land thou bearest the name Hebat.”

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.

Queen of Heaven is 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. The title 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.

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The consort of Mars, Nerio, in Germanic religion

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 26, 2016

The consort of Mars was Nerio or Nerine, “Valor.” She represents the vital force (vis), power (potentia) and majesty (maiestas) of Mars. Her name was regarded as Sabine in origin and is equivalent to Latin virtus, “manly virtue” (from vir, “man”).

In the early 3rd century BC, the comic playwright Plautus has a reference to Mars greeting Nerio, his wife. A source from late antiquity says that Mars and Nerine were celebrated together at a festival held on March 23. In the later Roman Empire, Nerine came to be identified with Minerva.

Nerio probably originates as a divine personification of Mars’ power, as such abstractions in Latin are generally feminine. Her name appears with that of Mars in an archaic prayer invoking a series of abstract qualities, each paired with the name of a deity. The influence of Greek mythology and its anthropomorphic gods may have caused Roman writers to treat these pairs as “marriages.”

Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom and sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy. She was born with weapons from the head of Jupiter. After impregnating the titaness Metis, Jupiter recalled a prophecy that his own child would overthrow him.

Fearing that their child would grow stronger than he and rule the Heavens in his place, Jupiter swallowed Metis whole. The titaness forged weapons and armor for her child while within the father-god, and the constant pounding and ringing gave him a headache. To relieve the pain, Vulcan used a hammer to split Jupiter’s head and, from the cleft, Minerva emerged, whole, adult, and bearing her mother’s weapons and armor.

Minerva was the daughter of Jupiter. She was the virgin goddess of wisdom, war, medicine, art, music, poetry, schools, commerce, weaving, crafts, and magic. She is often depicted with her sacred creature, an owl usually named as the “owl of Minerva”, which symbolised her association with wisdom and knowledge.

She was the Etruscan counterpart to Greek Athena. From the 2nd century BC onwards, the Romans equated her with the Greek goddess Athena. Like Athena, Minerva was born from the head of her father, Jupiter (Greek Zeus).

Stemming from an Italic moon goddess *Meneswā (‘She who measures’), the Etruscans adopted the inherited Old Latin name, *Menerwā, thereby calling her Menrva. It is assumed that her Roman name, Minerva, is based on this Etruscan mythology.

By a process of folk etymology, the Romans could have linked her foreign name to the root men- in Latin words such as mens meaning “mind”, perhaps because one of her aspects as goddess pertained to the intellectual. The word mens is built from the Proto-Indo-European root *men- ‘mind’ (linked with memory as in Greek Mnemosyne and mnestis: memory, remembrance, recollection, manush in Sanskrit meaning mind).

In Germanic paganism, Nerthus is a goddess associated with fertility. Nerthus is often identified with the van Njörðr who is attested in various 13th century Old Norse works and in numerous Scandinavian place names. The name Nerthus is generally held to be a Latinized form of Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, a direct precursor to the Old Norse deity name Njörðr.

The connection between the two is due to the linguistic relationship between Njörðr and the reconstructed Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, Nerthus being the feminine, Latinized form of what Njörðr would have looked like around the first century. This has led to theories about the relation of the two, including that Njörðr may have once been a hermaphroditic deity or that the name may indicate the otherwise forgotten sister-wife in a divine brother-sister pair like the Vanir deities Freyja and Freyr.

While scholars have noted numerous parallels between the descriptions of the two figures, Njörðr is attested as a male deity. Various scholarly theories exist regarding the goddess and her potential later traces amongst the Germanic peoples, including that the figure may be identical to the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr mentioned in two Old Norse sources.

In Norse mythology, Njörun (Old Norse Njǫrun, sometimes modernly anglicized as Niorun) is a goddess attested in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and various kennings (including once in the Poetic Edda). Scholarly theories concerning her name and function in the pantheon include etymological connections to the Norse god Njörðr and the Roman goddess Nerio, and suggestions that she may represent the earth and/or be the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr.

Several scholars have suggested that the stem syllable in her name, Njǫr-, may represent the element *ner- as in Tacitus’ earth-goddess Nerthus (*Ner-þuz), whose name is etymologically identical with that of the Norse god Njǫrðr, and that Njörun may therefore be a name for the earth. Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon additionally suggests a connection with the Roman goddess Nerio.

The possible etymological connection with Njǫrðr and Nerthus suggests that Njörun may be a preserved name for the sister-wife of Njörðr, who is highly unusual in the Old Norse context in being unnamed.

As was noted by Albert Morey Sturtevant, Njǫrun and Gefjon are the only female names recorded in Old Norse texts that have the suffix -un. Two other god-goddess pairs distinguished by suffix are preserved in the Old Norse corpus, Ullr and Ullin and Fjörgyn and Fjörgynn, and there is a possible third example in Old High German Phol and Volla.

Albert Murey Sturtevant notes that “the only other feminine personal name which contains the suffix -un is Njǫr-un, recorded only in the þulur […], and among the kvenna heiti ókend. Whatever the stem syllable Njǫr- represents (perhaps *ner- as in *Ner-þuz>Njǫrðr), the addition of the n- and un-suffixes seems to furnish an exact parallel to Gef-n : Gefj-un (cf. Njǫr-n : Njǫr-un).”

In Norse mythology, Gefjon or Gefjun (with the alternate spelling Gefion) is a goddess associated with ploughing, foreknowledge, and virginity. In addition, the Prose Edda describes that not only is Gefjon a virgin herself, but that all who die a virgin become her attendants.

Regarding the plough and Gefjon, Davidson concludes that “the idea behind the taking of the plough round the countryside seems to be that it brought good fortune and prosperity, gifts of a benevolent goddess. Gefjon and her plough thus fit into a large framework of the cult of a goddess associated with fertility of both land and water.”

Scholars have proposed theories about the etymology the name of the goddess, connections to fertility and ploughing practices, the implications of the references made to her as a virgin, five potential mentions of the goddess in the Old English poem Beowulf, and potential connections between Gefjon and Grendel’s Mother and/or the goddesses Freyja and Frigg, who scholars have theorized about ultimately stem from a single goddess common among the Germanic peoples.

The etymology of the name Gefjon has been a matter of dispute. In modern scholarship, the element Gef- in Gef-jon is generally theorized as related to the element Gef- in the name Gef-n. The name Gefn is one of the numerous names for the goddess Freyja, and likely means “she who gives (prosperity or happiness).” The connection between the two names has resulted in etymological results of Gefjun meaning “the giving one.”

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The history of An and the reason why Inanna descended to the underworld

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 25, 2016

Katabasis

The history of An and Antum are equated with the king and queen of the underworld (unconciousness) – Enmešara-Nergal (Dyeus/Dis Pater-Hades/Pluto-Mars-Apollo/Tyr) – Ereshkigal (Artemis-Persephone-Nerio/Hel) and the king and queen of the living world (conciousness) – Tammuz (Balder) – Inanna (Demeter/Nanna) – and the reason why Inanna descened to the underworld.

Dyēus is believed to have been the chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. Part of a larger pantheon, he was the god of the daylight sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society. In his aspect as a father god, his consort would have been Pltwih Méhter, “earth mother”.

A mother goddess is a goddess who represents, or is a personification of nature, motherhood, fertility, creation, destruction or who embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world, such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother.

Many different goddesses have represented motherhood in one way or another, and some have been associated with the birth of humanity as a whole, along with the universe and everything in it. Others have represented the fertility of the earth.

This deity is not directly attested; rather, scholars have reconstructed this deity from the languages and cultures of later Indo-European peoples such as the Greeks, Latins, and Indo-Aryans. According to this scholarly reconstruction, Dyeus was addressed as Dyeu Phter, literally “sky father” or “shining father”, as reflected in Latin Iūpiter, Diēspiter, possibly Dis Pater and deus pater, Greek Zeu pater, Sanskrit Dyàuṣpítaḥ.

As the pantheons of the individual mythologies related to the Proto-Indo-European religion evolved, attributes of Dyeus seem to have been redistributed to other deities. In Greek and Roman mythology, Dyeus remained the chief god; however, in Vedic mythology, the etymological continuant of Dyeus became a very abstract god, and his original attributes and dominance over other gods appear to have been transferred to gods such as Agni or Indra.

Dīs Pater was a Roman god of the underworld, later subsumed by Pluto or Hades (Hades was Greek). Originally a chthonic god of riches, fertile agricultural land, and underground mineral wealth, he was later commonly equated with the Roman deities Pluto and Orcus, becoming an underworld deity.

Cicero in his De Natura Deorum derives the name of Dīs Pater from dives, suggesting a meaning of “father of riches”, directly corresponding to the name Pluto (from Greek Ploutōn, meaning “wealthy”).

According to some 19th century authors many of Cicero’s etymological derivations are not to be taken seriously, and may indeed have been intended ironically, however, this particular derivation of Cicero’s has been accepted by some contemporary authors, some even suggesting that Dīs Pater is a direct loan translation of Ploutōn. Alternatively, he may be a secondary reflex of the same god as Jupiter (Proto-Indo-European Dyeus Phter).

Hades ͅwas the ancient Greek chthonic god of the underworld, which eventually took his name. In Greek mythology, Hades was regarded as the oldest son of Cronus and Rhea, although the last son regurgitated by his father.

He and his brothers Zeus and Poseidon defeated their father’s generation of gods, the Titans, and claimed rulership over the cosmos. Hades received the underworld, Zeus the sky, and Poseidon the sea, with the solid earth – long the province of Gaia—available to all three concurrently. Hades was often portrayed with his three-headed guard dog Cerberus and, in later mythological authors, associated with the Helm of Darkness and the bident.

The Etruscan god Aita and Roman gods Dis Pater and Orcus were eventually taken as equivalent to the Greek Hades and merged as Pluto, a Latinization of his euphemistic Greek name Plouton. Pluto (Greek: Ploutōn) was the ruler of the underworld in classical mythology. The earlier name for the god was Hades, which became more common as the name of the underworld itself.

In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Pluto represents a more positive concept of the god who presides over the afterlife. Ploutōn was frequently conflated with Ploutos (Plutus), a god of wealth, because mineral wealth was found underground, and because as a chthonic god Pluto ruled the deep earth that contained the seeds necessary for a bountiful harvest.

The name Ploutōn came into widespread usage with the Eleusinian Mysteries, in which Pluto was venerated as a stern ruler but the loving husband of Persephone. The couple received souls in the afterlife, and are invoked together in religious inscriptions. Hades by contrast had few temples and religious practices associated with him, and is portrayed as the dark and violent abductor of Persephone.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Anu (in Akkadian; Sumerian: An, from An “sky, heaven”) is the earliest attested Sky Father deity. In Sumerian religion, he was also “King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven”, where Anu himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions.

Anu was believed to have the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and to have created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the Royal Tiara. His attendant and vizier was the god Ilabrat.

Anu existed in Sumerian cosmogony as a dome that covered the flat earth; Outside of this dome was the primordial body of water known as Nammu (not to be confused with the subterranean Abzu). In Sumerian, the designation “An” was used interchangeably with “the heavens” so that in some cases it is doubtful whether, under the term, the god An or the heavens is being denoted.

The Akkadians inherited An as the god of heavens from the Sumerian as Anu-, and in Akkadian cuneiform, the DINGIR character may refer either to Anum or to the Akkadian word for god, ilu-, and consequently had two phonetic values an and il. Hittite cuneiform as adapted from the Old Assyrian kept the an value but abandoned il.

The doctrine once established remained an inherent part of the Babylonian-Assyrian religion and led to the more or less complete disassociation of the three gods constituting the triad from their original local limitations.

An intermediate step between Anu viewed as the local deity of Uruk, Enlil as the god of Nippur, and Ea as the god of Eridu is represented by the prominence which each one of the centres associated with the three deities in question must have acquired, and which led to each one absorbing the qualities of other gods so as to give them a controlling position in an organized pantheon.

For Nippur we have the direct evidence that its chief deity, En-lil, was once regarded as the head of the Sumerian pantheon. The sanctity and, therefore, the importance of Eridu remained a fixed tradition in the minds of the people to the latest days, and analogy therefore justifies the conclusion that Anu was likewise worshipped in a centre which had acquired great prominence.

When Enlil rose to equal or surpass An in authority, the functions of the two deities came to some extent to overlap. An was also sometimes equated with Amurru, and, in Seleucid Uruk, with Enmešara, an underworld god of the law described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore equated with Nergal, and Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states

A consort Antum (or as some scholars prefer to read, Anatum) is assigned to him, on the theory that every deity must have a female associate. But Anu spent so much time on the ground protecting the Sumerians he left her in Heaven and then met Inanna (“Queen of Heaven”). She was later known as Ishtar. Inanna’s name derives from Lady of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-an-ak). Inanna was associated with the planet Venus, which at that time was regarded as two stars, the “morning star” and the “evening star.”

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”. She was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom.

In Sumerian religion, the Underworld was conceived of as a dreary, dark place; a home to deceased heroes and ordinary people alike. While everyone suffered an eternity of poor conditions, certain behavior while alive, notably creating a family to provide offerings to the deceased, could alleviate conditions somewhat.

The main temple dedicated to her was located in Kutha. Nergal was a deity worshipped throughout Mesopotamia (Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia) with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim.

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.

In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia. His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls. The union of Venus and Mars held greater appeal for poets and philosophers, and the couple were a frequent subject of art.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Nerio was an ancient war goddess and the personification of valor. She was the partner of Mars in ancient cult practices, and was sometimes identified with the goddess Bellona, and occasionally with the goddess Minerva. Spoils taken from enemies were sometimes dedicated to Nerio by the Romans. Nerio was later supplanted by mythologized deities appropriated and adapted from other religions.

The consort of Mars was Nerio or Nerine, “Valor.” She represents the vital force (vis), power (potentia) and majesty (maiestas) of Mars. Her name was regarded as Sabine in origin and is equivalent to Latin virtus, “manly virtue” (from vir, “man”).

In the early 3rd century BC, the comic playwright Plautus has a reference to Mars greeting Nerio, his wife. A source from late antiquity says that Mars and Nerine were celebrated together at a festival held on March 23. In the later Roman Empire, Nerine came to be identified with Minerva.

Nerio probably originates as a divine personification of Mars’ power, as such abstractions in Latin are generally feminine. Her name appears with that of Mars in an archaic prayer invoking a series of abstract qualities, each paired with the name of a deity. The influence of Greek mythology and its anthropomorphic gods may have caused Roman writers to treat these pairs as “marriages.”

Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom and sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy. She was born with weapons from the head of Jupiter. After impregnating the titaness Metis, Jupiter recalled a prophecy that his own child would overthrow him.

Fearing that their child would grow stronger than he and rule the Heavens in his place, Jupiter swallowed Metis whole. The titaness forged weapons and armor for her child while within the father-god, and the constant pounding and ringing gave him a headache. To relieve the pain, Vulcan used a hammer to split Jupiter’s head and, from the cleft, Minerva emerged, whole, adult, and bearing her mother’s weapons and armor.

Minerva was the daughter of Jupiter. She was the virgin goddess of wisdom, war, medicine, art, music, poetry, schools, commerce, weaving, crafts, and magic. She is often depicted with her sacred creature, an owl usually named as the “owl of Minerva”, which symbolised her association with wisdom and knowledge.

She was the Etruscan counterpart to Greek Athena. From the 2nd century BC onwards, the Romans equated her with the Greek goddess Athena. Like Athena, Minerva was born from the head of her father, Jupiter (Greek Zeus).

Stemming from an Italic moon goddess *Meneswā (‘She who measures’), the Etruscans adopted the inherited Old Latin name, *Menerwā, thereby calling her Menrva. It is assumed that her Roman name, Minerva, is based on this Etruscan mythology.

By a process of folk etymology, the Romans could have linked her foreign name to the root men- in Latin words such as mens meaning “mind”, perhaps because one of her aspects as goddess pertained to the intellectual. The word mens is built from the Proto-Indo-European root *men- ‘mind’ (linked with memory as in Greek Mnemosyne and mnestis: memory, remembrance, recollection, manush in Sanskrit meaning mind).

In Germanic paganism, Nerthus is a goddess associated with fertility. Nerthus is often identified with the van Njörðr who is attested in various 13th century Old Norse works and in numerous Scandinavian place names. The name Nerthus is generally held to be a Latinized form of Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, a direct precursor to the Old Norse deity name Njörðr.

The connection between the two is due to the linguistic relationship between Njörðr and the reconstructed Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, Nerthus being the feminine, Latinized form of what Njörðr would have looked like around the first century. This has led to theories about the relation of the two, including that Njörðr may have once been a hermaphroditic deity or that the name may indicate the otherwise forgotten sister-wife in a divine brother-sister pair like the Vanir deities Freyja and Freyr.

While scholars have noted numerous parallels between the descriptions of the two figures, Njörðr is attested as a male deity. Various scholarly theories exist regarding the goddess and her potential later traces amongst the Germanic peoples, including that the figure may be identical to the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr mentioned in two Old Norse sources.

In Norse mythology, Njörun (Old Norse Njǫrun, sometimes modernly anglicized as Niorun) is a goddess attested in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and various kennings (including once in the Poetic Edda). Scholarly theories concerning her name and function in the pantheon include etymological connections to the Norse god Njörðr and the Roman goddess Nerio, and suggestions that she may represent the earth and/or be the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr.

Several scholars have suggested that the stem syllable in her name, Njǫr-, may represent the element *ner- as in Tacitus’ earth-goddess Nerthus (*Ner-þuz), whose name is etymologically identical with that of the Norse god Njǫrðr, and that Njörun may therefore be a name for the earth. Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon additionally suggests a connection with the Roman goddess Nerio.

The possible etymological connection with Njǫrðr and Nerthus suggests that Njörun may be a preserved name for the sister-wife of Njörðr, who is highly unusual in the Old Norse context in being unnamed.

As was noted by Albert Morey Sturtevant, Njǫrun and Gefjon are the only female names recorded in Old Norse texts that have the suffix -un. Two other god-goddess pairs distinguished by suffix are preserved in the Old Norse corpus, Ullr and Ullin and Fjörgyn and Fjörgynn, and there is a possible third example in Old High German Phol and Volla.

Albert Murey Sturtevant notes that “the only other feminine personal name which contains the suffix -un is Njǫr-un, recorded only in the þulur […], and among the kvenna heiti ókend. Whatever the stem syllable Njǫr- represents (perhaps *ner- as in *Ner-þuz>Njǫrðr), the addition of the n- and un-suffixes seems to furnish an exact parallel to Gef-n : Gefj-un (cf. Njǫr-n : Njǫr-un).”

In Norse mythology, Gefjon or Gefjun (with the alternate spelling Gefion) is a goddess associated with ploughing, foreknowledge, and virginity. In addition, the Prose Edda describes that not only is Gefjon a virgin herself, but that all who die a virgin become her attendants.

Regarding the plough and Gefjon, Davidson concludes that “the idea behind the taking of the plough round the countryside seems to be that it brought good fortune and prosperity, gifts of a benevolent goddess. Gefjon and her plough thus fit into a large framework of the cult of a goddess associated with fertility of both land and water.”

Scholars have proposed theories about the etymology the name of the goddess, connections to fertility and ploughing practices, the implications of the references made to her as a virgin, five potential mentions of the goddess in the Old English poem Beowulf, and potential connections between Gefjon and Grendel’s Mother and/or the goddesses Freyja and Frigg, who scholars have theorized about ultimately stem from a single goddess common among the Germanic peoples.

The etymology of the name Gefjon has been a matter of dispute. In modern scholarship, the element Gef- in Gef-jon is generally theorized as related to the element Gef- in the name Gef-n. The name Gefn is one of the numerous names for the goddess Freyja, and likely means “she who gives (prosperity or happiness).” The connection between the two names has resulted in etymological results of Gefjun meaning “the giving one.”

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. Aplu may be related with Apaliunas who is considered to be the Hittite reflex of *Apeljōn, an early form of the name Apollo.

The ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of music, truth and prophecy, healing, the sun and light, plague, poetry, and more. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis, one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities.

Artemis 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. Her Roman equivalent is Diana.

The Arcadians believed she was the daughter of Demeter. In ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, Demeter ́is the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth. Her cult titles include Sito, “she of the Grain”, as the giver of food or grain, and Thesmophoros (thesmos: divine order, unwritten law; phoros: bringer, bearer), “Law-Bringer,” as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society.

Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sacred law, and the cycle of life and death. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon. In the Linear B Mycenean Greek tablets of circa 1400–1200 BC found at Pylos, the “two mistresses and the king” may be related with Demeter, Persephone and Poseidon. Her Roman equivalent is Ceres.

Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person.

Ereshkigal is the sister and counterpart of Inanna/Ishtar, the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year. Inanna 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 associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Tammuz was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries (meaning “ram”), 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 mostly between March 21 and April 19 each year. The symbol of the ram is based on the Chrysomallus, the flying ram that provided the Golden Fleece. Astrologically, Aries has been strongly associated with Mars, both the planet and the god. The First Point of Aries, the location of the vernal equinox, is named for the constellation. .

In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East. In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar. The Levantine (“lord”) Adonis, who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.

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.

Ereshkigal is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines which date back to the Mesopotamia period. According to the doctrine of two kingdoms, the dominions of the two sisters are sharply differentiated, as one is of this world and one of the world of the dead.

The other myth is the story of Nergal, the plague god. Once, the gods held a banquet that Ereshkigal, as queen of the Netherworld, could not come up to attend. They invited her to send a messenger, and she sent her vizier Namtar in her place. He was treated well by all, but for the exception of being disrespected by Nergal. As a result of this, Nergal was banished to the kingdom controlled by the goddess. Versions vary at this point, but all of them result in him becoming her husband. In later tradition, Nergal is said to have been the victor, taking her as wife and ruling the land himself.

Inanna/Ishtar’s trip and return to the underworld is the most familiar of the myths concerning Ereshkigal. The Sumerian hymn “The Descent of Inanna”, which was also in later Babylonian myth, also called “The Descent of Ishtar,” tells about Inanna’s descent to the netherworld and her reception by her sister who presides over it; Ereshkigal traps her sister in her kingdom and Inanna is only able to leave it by sacrificing her husband Dumuzi in exchange for herself.

Inanna’s reason for visiting the underworld is unclear. The reason she gives to the gatekeeper of the underworld is that she wants to attend the funeral rites of Ereshkigal’s husband, here said to be Gud-gal-ana. Gugalana was the Bull of Heaven in The Epic of Gilgamesh, which was killed by Gilgamesh and Enkidu. To further add to the confusion, Ereshkigal’s husband typically is the plague god, Nergal, who is said to have raped the goddess after the disappearance of Gugalana.

Additionally, the myth may be described as a union of Inanna with her own “dark side”, her twin sister-self, Ereshkigal, as when she ascends it is with Ereshkigal’s powers, while Inanna is in the underworld it is Ereshkigal who apparently takes on fertility powers, and the poem ends with a line in praise, not of Inanna, but of Ereshkigal.

It is in many ways a praise-poem dedicated to the more negative aspects of Inanna’s domain, symbolic of an acceptance of the necessity of death to the continuance of life. It can also be interpreted as being about the psychological power of a descent into the unconscious, realizing one’s own strength through an episode of seeming powerlessness, and/or an acceptance of one’s own negative qualities, as is discussed by Joseph Campbell.

Another recent interpretation, by Clyde Hostetter, indicates that the myth is an allegorical report of related movements of the planets Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter; and those of the waxing crescent Moon in the Second Millennium, beginning with the Spring Equinox and concluding with a meteor shower near the end of one synodic period of Venus.

The three-day disappearance of Inanna refers to the three-day planetary disappearance of Venus between its appearance as a morning or evening star. The fact that Gugalana is slain, refers to the disappearance of the constellation Taurus when the sun rises in that part of the sky, which in the Bronze Age marked the occurrence of the vernal equinox.

Joshua Mark argues that it is most likely that the moral of the Descent of Inanna was that there are always consequences for one’s actions. “The Descent of Inanna, then, about one of the gods behaving badly and other gods and mortals having to suffer for that behavior, would have given to an ancient listener the same basic understanding anyone today would take from an account of a tragic accident caused by someone’s negligence or poor judgment: that, sometimes, life is just not fair.”

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Den nye gullalderen

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 21, 2016

Mytologien gjennomsyrer vårt samfunn, vår kultur og vår historie. Via komperativ mytologi har jeg funnet ut at alle mytologiene deler samme bakgrunn, samt at religionene bygger på disse.
 
Har videre funnet ut at mytologiene er forløperen til både astronomi og astrologi, samt til våre tall og bokstaver, inkludert både runer og de fleste av dagens alfabeter, og at det hele henger sammen med naturens gang.
 
Faktisk vil jeg gå så langt som å hevde at hele vårt samfunn, hvordan det er innredet, er basert på denne kunnskap. Og at målet i henhold til mytologien er å frigjøre demringsgudinnen (Venus), også kjent som morgenrøden, og i nordisk mytologi representert ved vanerne (Venus).
 
Vaner (norrønt vanr, vanir) er i norrøn mytologi en gudeslekt (den andre slekten er æsene). Vanene assosieres med fruktbarhet, kjærlighet og rikdom, men også med døden. De har blitt tatt som gisler av asene.
 
Demringsgudinnen, som representerer nestekjærlighet og åndelig oppvåkning, har blitt tatt til fange og befinner seg gjerne i underverden, også kjent som det underbevisste, slik som tilfellet er med den germanske gudinnen Hel.
 
En frigjøring vil føre til transformasjon som vil føre til det nye året, som i tidligere tider startet i mars måned og som ble feiret gjennom en feiring av det nye året.
 
Ēostre eller Ostara var en germansk fruktbarhetsgudinne. Hun skal ha blitt feiret ved vårjevnsdøgnet den 21. mars og måneden april skal på den tiden ha båret hennes navn.
 
Månadsnamnet “Eosturmonath”, som fra begynnelsen skal ha blitt oppkalt etter henne, har blitt overtatt av påsken på engelsk (easter) og tysk (ostern).
 
Ēostre skal ha vært forbundet med egg og kaniner, hvor av begge er fruktbarhetssymboler. Disse har senere, etter kristendommens inntog, blitt overtatt som påskesymboler.
 
Påsken er den mest sentrale av de kristne høytidene i kirkeåret. Høytiden feires til minne om Jesu Kristi siste nattverd, korsfestelse, lidelse, død og oppstandelse som ifølge evangeliene i Bibelen fant sted under den jødiske påskefeiringen pesach i Jerusalem.
 
På mange måter dreier det seg om kvinnens frigjøring og at de feminine sider må få slippe opp og fram, men kan samtidig peke på en endring av den eksisterende sosiale orden ettersom hun støtter de fattige i samfunnet.
 
Astraia (“den skinnende”; “stjernejomfruen”) er i henhold til gresk mytologi en datter av enten Zevs og Temis eller av Eos og Astraios, avhengig av den antikke tradisjonen.
 
I løpet av den mytologiske gullalderen var hun den siste av guddommene som levde sammen med menneskene, men hun flyktet fra ondskapen og lovløsheten i den senere jernalderen.
 
Hun ble plassert i stjernene som stjernebildet Virgo (Jomfruen). Rettferdighetens vektskål som hun holder i hendene ble det nærliggende stjernebildet Libra (Vekten).
 
Astraia ble i tillegg til rettferdighet, også assosiert med uskyld og renhet, og ble således delvis eller helt identifisert med Dike, rettferdighetens gudinne, og med Nemesis, gudinne for rettferdig indignasjon.
 
I henhold til legenden vil Astraia en dag komme tilbake til jorden og bringe med seg den utopiske gullalderen. Hennes håp om en dag å komme tilbake ble referert til i Vergils Eclogue IV: «iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna» som har betydningen at de gode dager vil igjen komme tilbake; bokstavelig «Jomfruen kommer tilbake, og med Saturns styre.»

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