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Grandmothers Were Crucial for Human Evolution

Anthropologists argue that the presence of grandmothers has been crucial in driving human evolution.

New Evidence That Grandmothers Were Crucial for Human Evolution

Jungian Archetypes

For years, anthropologists and evolutionary biologists have struggled to explain the existence of menopause, a life stage that humans do not share with our primate relatives. Why would it be beneficial for females to stop being able to have children with decades still left to live? Now, a computer simulation supports the idea that grandmothers helped our species evolve social skills and longer lives.

In Carl Jung’s theory of analytical psychology, the Wise Old Woman and the Wise Old Man are archetypes of the Collective Unconscious. ‘The “wise old woman”…[or] helpful “old woman” is a well-known symbol in myths and fairy tales for the wisdom of the eternal female nature’. The ‘Wise Old Man, or some other very powerful aspect of eternal masculinity’ is her male counterpart.

In Jung’s thought, the individuation process was marked by a sequence of archetypes, each acquiring predominance at successive stages, and so reflecting what he termed an ascending psychic scale or ‘hierarchy of the unconscious’.

Thus, starting with the intermediate position of ‘anima or animus…just as the latter have a higher position in the hierarchy than the shadow, so wholeness lays claim to a position and a value superior’ still. The Wise Old Woman and Man, as what he termed “Mana” personalities or “supraordinate” personalities, stood for that wholeness of the self: ‘the mother (“Primordial Mother” and “Earth Mother”) as a supraordinary personality…as the “self”‘.

As von Franz put it, ‘If an individual has wrestled seriously and long enough with the anima (or animus) problem, so that he, or she, is no longer partially identified with it, the unconscious again changes its dominant character and appears in a new symbolic form representing the Self, the innermost nucleus of the personality.

In the dreams of a woman this centre is usually personified as a superior female figure – a priestess, sorceress, earth mother, or goddess of nature or love. In the case of a man, it manifests itself as a masculine initiator and guardian (an Indian guru), a wise old man, a spirit of nature and so forth’.

The masculine initiator was described by Jung as ‘a figure of the same sex corresponding to the father-imago…the mana-personality [a]s a dominant of the collective unconscious, the recognized archetype of the mighty man in the form of hero, chief, magician, medicine-man, saint, the ruler of men and spirits’. Similarly, ‘the wise Old Woman figure represented by Hecate or the Crone …the Great Mother’ stood for an aspect of the mother-imago.

The archetypes of the collective unconscious can thus be seen as inner representations of the same-sex parent – as an ‘imago built up from parental influences plus the specific reactions of the child’. Consequently, for the Jungian, ‘the making conscious of those contents which constitute the archetype of the mana personality signifies therefore “for the man the second and true liberation from the father, for the woman that from the mother, and therewith the first perception of their own unique individuality”‘.

In Jung’s view, ‘all archetypes spontaneously develop favourable and unfavourable, light and dark, good and bad effects’. Thus ‘the “good Wise Man” must here be contrasted with a correspondingly dark, chthonic figure’, and in the same way, the priestess or sibyl has her counterpart in the figure of ‘the witch…called by Jung the “terrible mother”‘. Taken together, male and female, ‘The hunter or old magician and the witch correspond to the negative parental images in the magic world of the unconscious’.

But judgement of such collective archetypes must not be hasty. ‘Just as all archetypes have a positive, favourable, bright side that points upwards, so also they have one that points downwards, partly negative and unfavourable, partly chthonic’ – so that (for example) ‘the sky-woman is the positive, the bear the negative aspect of the “supraordinate personality”, which extends the conscious human being upwards into the celestial and downwards into the animal regions’.

Yet both aspects, celestial and chthonic, were (at least potentially) of equal value for Jung, as he sought for what he termed a “coniunctio oppositorum”, a union of opposites. ‘One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light’, he argued, ‘but by making the darkness conscious’. Similarly with respect to the goal of the individuation process itself, ‘as a totality, the self is a coincidentia oppositorum; it is therefore bright and dark and yet neither’. At this stage of development one possesses discernment or some other virtue.

Coming to terms with the Mana figures of the collective unconscious – with the parental imagos – thus meant overcoming a psychic splitting, so as to make possible an acceptance of ‘the Twisted side of the Great Mother’; an acceptance of the way ‘the father contains both Kings at once…the Twisted King and the Whole King’.

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Armenian Traditional Clothing for Women – “Taraz”

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Armenians have traditional clothing for women called “taraz”. There are varieties of tarazes from different regions of the country that are decorated with Armenian ethnic ornaments. The same is with traditional jewelries that are made of silver, and based on the ornaments. Getting familiar with tarazes and traditional jewelry will help you to have already a notable background on Armenian culture.

Not a long time ago, there was a woman called Lusik Aguletsi, a famous painter and ethnographer, who used to walk in the streets of Yerevan wearing traditional clothing and jewelry. Since she was almost the only one in modern Armenia to follow “old Armenian fashion”, she became famous in the town.

Lusik Aguletsi’s house-museum is located in one of the suburbs of Yerevan, but you do not have to spend much time to get there. This is the house where Ms. Lusik used to live until a year ago. Entering her house is the same as entering an ancient Armenian house. It feels like stepping into another world. Those who visit it feel the warmth of hospitality that was created by Lusik Aguletsi.

At Lusik Aguletsi house-museum you will get a warm welcome from the hosts and have a chance to spend a fantastic time in a very traditional place. Here you can find traditional interior and decoration attributes. There are separate parts of the house where personal items of Aguletsi are represented, such as different belts, necklaces and other jewelry, clothes, bags, carpets and rugs, head-wearings and so on.

The majority of the items are hand-made. Besides the above-mentioned ones, there are also hand-made dolls, paintings, and everything that one should have at the house, but the difference is that the ones you see here are traditional and impressive. If traditional garments impress you and you want to buy something with the same motives, you can order the modern interpretation of it at the Teryan cultural center in Yerevan.

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The name Nina / Anna

Nina – Anne / Anna

Nina, Nína and Niná are feminine given names with various origins. These names serve as a short form of names ending in “-nina / -nine”, including Marina, Katharina, Antonina, Giannina, and Constantina. Nina and its international variants also serve as a short form of Anna, especially the Russian name Anninka.

Nina also has a relation to the Spanish word “Niña”, which translates as “little girl or great-granddaughter”. Nina has meaning in several other languages: (Hebrew: God was gracious, God has shown favor); (Persian: nice); (Hindi: beautiful); (Swahili: mother); (Native American: strong or mighty); (Arabic: friend); (Greek: flower).

Nina is a Russian diminutive form of Anne (gracious, full of grace) and Antonia. Annette is a diminutive of Anna (given name), and has since the Industrial Age been used as a name of its own. Antonia is a feminine given name of Roman origin meaning “priceless”, “praiseworthy” and “beautiful”.

Astrid is a feminine given name of Scandinavian origin (although it is also used among the French and Germans to some degree), a modern rendered as Ástríðr in its ancient form. It is derived from the Old Norse Ássfriðr, a compound name composed of the elements áss (a god) and friðr (beautiful, fair).

Some say the name essentially translates to “divinely beautiful” while others would say it means “beloved of the gods”. In either case, Astrid has a lovely and powerful Northern European sensibility. The name continues to maintain high usage in the Scandinavian countries, and is a poster-child Nordic female name much like Freja, Ingrid, Greta and Gudrun.

Anya is a Russian diminutive of Anna. Ania is the spelling in Polish, which is also a diminutive of Anna. The spelling Anja is common in Croatian, Norwegian, Danish, German, Swedish, Finnish, Dutch, Afrikaans, Slovenian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Bosnian and Serbian. Áine is the Irish spelling of the name. Anya is a Hungarian word for “mother”. Anya is also an Indian/Hindu name.

Anna is in wide use in countries across the world as are its variants Anne, originally a French version of the name, though in use in English speaking countries for hundreds of years, and Ann, which was originally the English spelling.

Anne, alternatively spelled Ann, is a form of the Latin female given name Anna. This in turn is a representation of the Hebrew Hannah, which means ‘favour’ or ‘grace.’ In the UK Anne was traditionally the Royal spelling and Ann was for commoners. This has largely fallen out of use.

Anne is sometimes used as a male name in the Netherlands, particularly in the Frisian speaking part (for example, author Anne de Vries). In this incarnation, it is related to Germanic arn-names and means ‘eagle’. It has also been used for males in France (Anne de Montmorency) and Scotland (Lord Anne Hamilton).

Hannah

Anna is a Latin form of the Greek Anna and the Hebrew name Hannah, meaning “favor”, “grace” or “beautiful”. Hannah is one of the wives of Elkanah mentioned in the First Book of Samuel. According to the Hebrew Bible she was the mother of Samuel.

Although Ḫannaḫanna is similar to the Biblical name Hannah, mother of Samuel (according to 1 Kings), the Canaanite Anat, and the Christian Saint Anne, these are coincidental. The names Anne and Hannah derive from Hebrew Channah, meaning “favor” or “grace” while Anat may be from a Semitic root meaning “water spring.”

Hannahanna

Ḫannaḫanna (from Hittite ḫanna- “grandmother”) in Hittite-Hurrian mythology is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the Sumerian goddess Inanna. The name Hannahanna derives from the Akkadian (Sumerian), Hebrew and Hittite-Hurrian roots: Inanna, Ḥannāh, hannas, meaning “grandmother”.

She is related to or influenced by the pre-Sumerian goddess “Inanna”, and is similar in name to the Biblical Hannah, mother of Samuel. In fact, in the Czech language, the name is translated “channa-channa” directly from the Hebrew “Channâh”.

Ḫannaḫanna (from Hittite ḫanna- “grandmother”) is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the Sumerian goddess Inanna. Ḫannaḫanna was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat. Christopher Siren reports that Ḫannaḫanna is associated with the Hutena, the three goddesses of fate of the Hurrian mythology called the Gul Ses (Gul-Shesh; Gulshesh; Gul-ashshesh) in the Hittite mythology.

Hannahanna promises Inara land and a man during a consultation by Inara. Soon after, Inara went missing and when Ḫannaḫanna was informed of this by the Storm-god’s bee, she apparently began a search with the help of her female attendant.

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

Hebat – Cybele

Ḫannaḫanna was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat (Eva), the mother goddess of the Hurrians known as «Mother of all Living» and «Queen of Heaven».

Ḫebat, also transcribed, Khepat, was the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living” and “Queen of the deities”. It is thought that Hebat may have had a Southern Mesopotamian origin, being the deification of Kubaba, the founder and first ruler of the Third Dynasty of Kish.

The name may be transliterated in different versions – Khepat with the feminine ending -t is primarily the Syrian and Ugaritic version. In the Hurrian language Ḫepa is the most likely pronunciation of the name of the goddess. In modern literature the sound /h/ in cuneiform sometimes is transliterated as kh.

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.”

Cybele

Hebat is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian mother goddess Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubileya/Kubeleya Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”), who may have a possible forerunner in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük in Anatolia, where statues of plump women, sometimes sitting, have been found in excavations dated to the 6th millennium BC and identified by some as a mother goddess.

Cybele is Phrygia’s only known goddess, and was probably its national deity. In Phrygian art of the 8th century BC, the cult attributes of the Phrygian mother-goddess include attendant lions, a bird of prey, and a small vase for her libations or other offerings. 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 BC.

She was readily assimilated to the Minoan-Greek earth-mother Rhea, “Mother of the gods”, whose raucous, ecstatic rites she may have acquired. As an exemplar of devoted motherhood, she was partly assimilated to the grain-goddess Demeter, whose torchlight procession recalled her search for her lost daughter, Persephone.

In Greece, as in Phrygia, she was a “Mistress of animals” (Potnia Therōn), with her mastery of the natural world expressed by the lions that flank her, sit in her lap or draw her chariot. Inara, the daughter of Hebat and the Storm-god Teshub/Tarhunt, was the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe. She corresponds to the “potnia theron” of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis.

The Hittite System

As the Hittite kingdom expanded, the cults of the various peoples of Anatolia, all of whom had their own religious traditions and local gods, were incorporated into the Hittite system.

Interference between these theological systems resulted at times in gender change: the male Hattic/Hittite ruler of the underworld Lelwani became female under Hurrian influence and was identified with the Hurrian goddess of the underworld, Allani. The Hattic goddess Kait, the deity of vegetation, became the Hittite god Halki (Grain).

Important goddesses of the Hattic pantheon were the two sun-goddesses, the sun-goddess of the sky, Wurunshemu, the consort of storm-god, and the sun-goddess of the earth (or the netherworld). The name of the sun-goddess of the earth in both Hattic and Hittite is unknown while in late Hittite texts she was referred to by the Hurrian designation Allani.

Next in importance was Inar (Hittite: Inara), a young warlike goddess, the protective deity of the land. In addition to being a goddess of the wild animals, she was said to have power over fields and floods.

Two important groups of goddesses were the Gulsh(esh) goddesses of fate and the mother goddesses. A mother goddess, Hannahanna (Grandmother), was a wise old woman, skilled in healing and childbirth, whose advice was regularly sought by other gods in the old Hittite vanishing god myths.

At the head of the Hittite pantheon were the storm-god and the sun-goddess of Arinna, identified with Hattic Wurunshemu. Kamrushepa, the Luwian goddess of healing, was responsible for the curing of earthly and heavenly diseases and illnesses.

In the sanctuary at Yazilikaya, a procession of the chief divinities of the Hurrianized Hittite pantheon was carved on its walls: one procession of gods on the western wall and another procession of goddesses on the eastern, with the principal deities meeting in the center. This monument provides an affirmation of the symmetry and equal importance of the gods and goddesses.

Saint Anne

Saint Anne is traditionally the name of the mother of the Virgin Mary, which accounts for its wide use and popularity among Christians. According to apocryphal Christian and Islamic tradition, Saint Anne was the mother of Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus, which accounts for its wide use and popularity among Christians.

Mary’s mother is not named in the canonical gospels. In writing, Anne’s name and that of her husband Joachim come only from New Testament apocrypha, of which the Gospel of James (written perhaps around 150) seems to be the earliest that mentions them. The mother of Mary is mentioned, but not named, in the Quran.

The role of the Messiah’s grandparents in salvation history was commonly depicted in early medieval devotional art in a vertical double-Madonna arrangement known as the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne. Another typical subject has Anne teaching the Virgin Mary the Scriptures.

According to apocryphal Christian and Islamic tradition, Saint Anne was the mother of Mary and the maternal grandmother of Jesus. The story bears a similarity to that of the birth of Samuel, whose mother Hannah (Hebrew: Ḥannāh “favour, grace”; etymologically the same name as Anne) had also been childless.

In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Hannah is ascribed the title Forebear of God, and both the Nativity of Mary and the Presentation of Mary are celebrated as two of the twelve Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church.

The Dormition of Hannah is also a minor feast in Eastern Christianity. In Lutheran Protestantism, it is held that Martin Luther chose to enter religious life as an Augustinian friar after crying out to St. Anne while endangered by lightning.

Nin

The Sumerian word NIN (from the Akkadian pronunciation of the sign EREŠ) was used to denote a queen or a priestess, and is often translated as “lady”. Other translations include “queen”, “mistress”, “proprietress”, and “lord”.

Many goddesses are called NIN, such as DNIN.GAL (“great lady”), DÉ.NIN.GAL (“lady of the great temple”), DEREŠ.KI.GAL, and DNIN.TI. The compound form NIN.DINGIR (“divine lady” or “lady of god”), from the Akkadian entu, denotes a priestess.

EN is the Sumerian cuneiform for “lord” or “priest”. Originally, it seems to have been used to designate a high priest or priestess of a Sumerian city-state’s patron-deity – a position that entailed political power as well. It may also have been the original title of the ruler of Uruk. See Lugal, ensi and en for more details.

Deities including EN as part of their name include DEN.LÍL, DEN.KI, DEN.GURUN, and DEN.ZU. En-hedu-ana, Akkadian 2285 BC – 2250 BC was the first known holder of the title, “En Priestess.”

Ninti

Ninti is the Sumerian goddess of life. She is also one of the eight goddesses of healing who was created by Ninhursag to heal Enki’s body. Her specific healing area was the rib (sumerian Ti means rib and to live). Enki had eaten forbidden flowers and was then cursed by Ninhursaga, who was later persuaded by the other gods to heal him.

Ninti, the title of Ninhursag, also means “the mother of all living”, and was a title later given to the Hurrian goddess Kheba. This is also the title given in the Bible to Eve, the Hebrew and Aramaic Ḥawwah, who was made from the rib of Adam, in a strange reflection of the Sumerian myth, in which Adam – not Enki – walks in the Garden of Paradise.

Ensi

Ensi (cuneiform: pa.te.si Sumerian: ensik, “lord of the plowland”; Emesal dialect: umunsik; Akkadian: iššakkum) was a Sumerian title designating the ruler or prince of a city-state. Originally it may have designated an independent ruler, but in later periods the title presupposed subordinance to a lugal.

For the Early Dynastic Period (about 2800–2350 BCE), the meaning of the titles en, ensi and lugal cannot be differentiated clearly: see lugal, ensi and en for details. Ensí may have originally been a designation of the ruler restricted to Lagash and Umma.

The ensi was considered a representative of the city-state’s patron deity. In later periods, an ensí was normally seen as subordinate to a lugal. Nevertheless, even the powerful rulers of the Second Dynasty of Lagash (c. 2100 BCE) such as Gudea were satisfied with the title ensí.

During the Third Dynasty of Ur (about 2100–2000 BCE) énsi referred to the provincial governors of the kingdom. These exercised great powers in terms of government, tax revenue and jurisdiction, but they were supervised, installed, and dismissed by the lugal of Ur. Although the office could be inherited, all ensí had to be endorsed by the lugal. No independent foreign policy or warfare was allowed.

In the city-state of Assur, the hereditary ruler bore the Akkadian language version of the title ensí, while the patron deity was regarded as šarrum “king”. They held most political power in Sumerian city-states during the Uruk period (c.4100-2900 BCE).

Uttu

In Sumerian mythology, Ninsar (from Nin = Lady, Sar = Green(ery)), also known as Ninki (Lady Earth), Ninmah, Ninmu, Nin-shar, is the goddess of plants. Her birth resulted from Enki impregnating Ninhursag who followed a period of gestation lasting nine days. The poet was careful to note that each day corresponds to a month in the human period of gestation; of this union is begotten the goddess Ninsar.

Ninsar in return is impregnated by her father and after nine days of gestation she gives birth to the goddess Ninkur (Lady Pasture), a minor mother goddess. Ninkura is the mother of Uttu by Enki. In an alternative tradition Ninkurra was the mother (by Enki) of Nin-imma (from nin – goddess, and imma – water that created everything), a Sumerian, Babylonian, and Akkadian fertility goddess and deification of the female sex organs.

In the version of Enki and Ninsikila from Nippur, Uttu is the daughter of Enki and Ninkurra, but, in another version, Ninkurra instead gives birth to Nin-imma, who mates with her father Enki and gives birth to Uttu as a result.

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

Uttu is an ancient Sumerian goddess associated with weaving. The same cuneiform symbol used to write her name was also used to write the Sumerian word for “spider”, indicating that Uttu was probably envisioned as a spider spinning a web.

The Dawn Goddess was associated with weaving, a behaviour sometimes used as a metaphor for the generative properties of sunlight. This characteristic is normally seen in solar goddesses and it might indicate a large amount of syncretism between dawn and solar deities. The spider’s web was likened to the Wheel of Fate and the spider to the Goddess as a Spinner, sitting at the hub of Her Wheel.

Utu, later worshipped by East Semitic peoples as Shamash, is the ancient Mesopotamian god of the sun, justice, morality, and truth, and the twin of the goddess Inanna, the Queen of Heaven. He was believed to ride through the heavens in his sun chariot and see all things that happened in the day. He was the enforcer of divine justice and was thought to aid those in distress.

At night, Utu was believed to travel through the Underworld as he journeyed to the east in preparation for the sunrise. One Sumerian literary work refers to Utu illuminating the Underworld and dispensing judgement there. Shamash Hymn 31 (BWL 126) states that Utu serves as a judge of the dead in the Underworld alongside the malku, kusu, and the Anunnaki. On his way through the Underworld, Utu was believed to pass through the garden of the sun-god, which contained trees that bore precious gems as fruit.

The Hutena were the three goddesses of fate of the Hurrian mythology; they were called the Gul Ses (Gul-Shesh; Gulshesh; Gul-ashshesh) in the Hittite mythology. The Hutena always appeared in plural, never alone. A possible translation of their names are the “Scribes” or “Determiners of Fate”. They dispenses good and evil, life and death to each human kind. They are similar to the Norns of Norse mythology, and the Moirai of ancient Greece.

The Moirae, the Fates are the three crones who control destiny, whose fate is unraveled it is the art of spinning on the distaff the thread of life. Between themselves, the Norns weave fate or ørlǫg (from ór “out, from, beyond” and lǫg “law”, and may be interpreted literally as “beyond law”). According to Voluspa 20, the three Norns “set up the laws”, “decided on the lives of the children of time” and “promulgate their ørlǫg”.

The theme of textiles in mythology and folklore is ancient, and its lost mythic lore probably accompanied the early spread of this art. Weaving begins with spinning. Until the spinning wheel was invented in the 14th century, all spinning was done with distaff and spindle. In English the “distaff side” indicates relatives through one’s mother, and thereby denotes a woman’s role in the household economy. In Scandinavia, the stars of Orion’s belt are known as Friggjar rockr, “Frigg’s distaff”. Textiles have also been associated in several cultures with spiders in mythology.

In traditional societies today, westward of Central Asia and the Iranian plateau, weaving is a mystery within woman’s sphere. Where men have become the primary weavers in this part of the world, it is possible that they have usurped the archaic role: among the gods, only goddesses are weavers. Herodotus noted, however, the cultural difference between gender identities and weaving among Hellenes and Egyptians: among Egyptians it was the men who wove.

Uttu appears primarily in the myth of Enki and Ninsikila, in which she resists the sexual advances of her father Enki by ensconcing herself inside her web, but he convinces her to let him in using a gift of fresh produce and the promise that he will marry her. Enki then intoxicates her with beer and rapes her. She is rescued by Enki’s wife Ninhursag, who removes Enki’s semen from her vagina and plants it in the ground, resulting in the growth of eight new plants, which Enki later eats.

Uttu matures and becomes “shapely and decorous”. Enki’s wife Ninhursag warns Uttu that Enki will try to seduce her, as he has done with all his other daughters. Uttu fortifies herself inside her web and, when Enki comes to seduce her, she forces him to promise that he will marry her before she will have sex with him.

As marriage gifts, Uttu demands that Enki give her fruits and vegetables. Enki finds a gardener, who demands that, in exchange for the fruits and vegetables, Enki must fill his irrigation ditches with water. Enki fills the ditches and the gardener gives him the produce.

Enki brings the produce to Uttu, who happily admits him into her web, but Enki gives Uttu beer to make her drunk and then rapes her. Uttu screams and Ninhursag comes to rescue her. Ninhursag removes Enki’s semen from Uttu’s vagina and plants it in the ground, causing eight plants to rise. Later, Enki sees the plants and is annoyed because he does not recognize them.

Isimud, Enki’s sukkal, or personal attendant, arrives, names each of the plants, and gives them to Enki to eat. The account ends with the declaration that “Enki determined the nature of the grasses” and “had them know it in their hearts.”

Nana

According to some authors, Nane was adopted from the Akkadian goddess Nanaya, from the Phrygian goddess Cybele, or was from Elamite origin. Nanaya (Sumerian, DNA.NA.A; also transcribed as “Nanâ”, “Nanãy”, “Nanaja”, “Nanãja”, or ‘”Nanãya”; in Greek: Νανα) is the canonical name for a goddess worshipped by the Sumerians and Akkadians.

Nana was a deity who personified voluptuousness and sexuality, and warfare. Her cult was large and was spread as far as Egypt, Syria, and Iran. She later became syncretised as an aspect of Inanna, an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power.

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

Sarpanit

In Babylonian religion, Sarpanit (alternately Sarpanitu, Zarpanit, Zarpandit, Zerpanitum, Zerbanitu, or Zirbanit) is a mother goddess and the consort of the chief god, Marduk. Her marriage with Marduk was celebrated annually at New Year in Babylon. She may be the same as Gamsu, Ishtar, and/or Bêlit.

Akitu or Akitum (Sumerian: EZEN Á.KI.TUM, akiti-šekinku, Á.KI.TI.ŠE.GUR₁₀.KU₅, lit. “the barley-cutting”,[citation needed] akiti-šununum, lit. “barley-sowing”; Akkadian: akitu or rêš-šattim, “head of the year”) was a spring festival in ancient Mesopotamia.

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

She is also known as Erua. The constellation of Virgo in Hipparchus corresponds to two Babylonian constellations: the “Furrow” in the eastern sector of Virgo and the “Frond of Erua” in the western sector. The Frond of Erua was depicted as a goddess holding a palm-frond – a motif that still occasionally appears in much later depictions of Virgo.

Her name means “the shining one”, and she is sometimes associated with the planet Venus. Tiamat, described as the glistening one, 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”.

By a play on words her name was interpreted as zēr-bānītu, or “creatress of seed”, and is thereby associated with the goddess Aruru, another name of the Sumerian mother goddess Ninhursag, who, according to Babylonian myth, created mankind. She was worshipped via the rising moon, and was often depicted as being pregnant.

Belit

Belit is a form of the Akkadian language word beltu or beltum (meaning “lady”, “mistress”) as used in noun compounds; it appears in titles of goddesses, such as bêlit-ili “lady of the gods”, an Akkadian title of Ninhursag. The word bêlit appears in Greek form as Beltis, considered to be the name of the wife of the god Bêl.

In Babylonian religion, Belit Ilani was a title described as meaning “mistress of the gods” and the name of the “evening star of desire”. It has been associated with Ninlil and Astarte and has been found inscribed on portraits of a woman blessing a suckling child with her right hand. Theophilus G. Pinches noted that Belit Ilani or Nnlil had seven different names (such as Nintud, Ninhursag, Ninmah, etc.) for seven different localities in ancient Sumer.

Belet-Seri (also spelled Beletseri, Belit-Sheri, Belit-Tseri) in Babylonian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld goddess. The recorder of the dead entering the underworld, she is known as the “Scribe of the Earth”.

It is Belet-seri who keeps the records of human activities so she can advise the queen of the dead, Erishkigal, on their final judgement. Married to Amurru, the God of Nomads, she’s known as ‘Queen of the Desert.’ Beginning in the Old Babylonian Period, Belet-Seri was identified with the goddess Gestinanna.

Geshtinanna

Geshtinanna (also known as Geštinanna or Ngeshtin-ana) is the ancient Sumerian goddess of agriculture, fertility, and dream interpretation, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”. She is the sister of Dumuzid and consort of Ningisida. She is also the daughter of Enki and Ninhursag. She was viewed as a mother goddess and was closely associated with the interpretation of dreams.

She shelters her brother when he is being pursued by galla demons and mourns his death after the demons drag him to Kur. She eventually agrees to take his place in Kur for half the year, allowing him to return to Heaven to be with Inanna. The Sumerians believed that, while Geshtinanna was in Heaven and Dumuzid in Kur, the earth became dry and barren, thus causing the season of summer.

Shala

Shala was an ancient Sumerian goddess of grain and the emotion of compassion. The symbols of grain and compassion combine to reflect the importance of agriculture in the mythology of Sumer, and the belief that an abundant harvest was an act of compassion from the deities.

Traditions identify Shala as wife of the fertility god Dagon, or consort of the storm god Hadad’ also called Ishkur. In ancient depictions, she carries a double-headed mace or scimitar embellished with lion heads. Sometimes she is depicted as being borne atop one or two lionesses.

From very early times, she is associated with the constellation Virgo and vestiges of symbolism associated with her have persisted in representations of the constellation to current times, such as the ear of grain, even as the deity name changed from culture to culture.

The constellation Virgo has multiple different origins depending on which mythology is being studied. Most myths generally view Virgo as a virgin/maiden with heavy association with wheat. In Greek and Roman mythology they relate the constellation to Demeter, mother of Persephone, or Proserpina, the Roman goddess of the harvest.

The symbol of the maiden is based on Astraea (“star-maiden” or “starry night”). In Egyptian mythology, the time when the constellation Virgo was in the sun was the beginning of the wheat harvest, thus connecting Virgo back to the wheat grain. Virgo has the equivalent sign in Indian astrology as the Kanya (which also means “maiden”), and has even been connected with the Virgin Mary.

Ninevhe

Nineveh (URUNI.NU.A Ninua) was an ancient Assyrian city of Upper Mesopotamia, located on the outskirts of Mosul in modern-day northern Iraq. It is located on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and was the capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

Today it is a common name for the half of Mosul that lies on the eastern bank of the Tigris. Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in Iraq’s Nineveh Governorate. The two main tells, or mound-ruins, within the walls are Kouyunjik (Kuyuncuk), the Northern Palace, and Tell Nabī Yūnus.

Nineveh was one of the oldest and greatest cities in antiquity. The area it occupied was originally settled as early as 6000 BC during the late Neolithic period. Deep sounding at Nineveh uncovered soil layers that have been dated to early in the era of the Hassuna archaeological culture.

By 3000 BC, the area had become an important religious center for the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar. It was the largest city in the world for some fifty years until the year 612 BC when, after a bitter period of civil war in Assyria, it was sacked by a coalition of its former subject peoples, the Babylonians, Medes, Chaldeans, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians.

The English placename Nineveh comes from Latin Ninive and Septuagint Greek Nineuḗ under influence of the Biblical Hebrew Nīnewēh, from the Akkadian Ninua (var. Ninâ) or Old Babylonian Ninuwā.

The original meaning of the name is unclear but may have referred to a patron goddess. The cuneiform for Ninâ is a fish within a house (cf. Aramaic nuna, “fish”). This may have simply intended “Place of Fish” or may have indicated a goddess associated with fish or the Tigris, possibly originally of Hurrian origin.

The city was later said to be devoted to “the goddess Ishtar of Nineveh” and Nina was one of the Sumerian and Assyrian names of that goddess. Inanna, an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power, was originally worshipped in Sumer and was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians under the name Ishtar.

The cuneiform for Ninâ is a fish within a house (cf. Aramaic nuna, “fish”). This may have simply intended “Place of Fish” or may have indicated a goddess associated with fish or the Tigris, possibly originally of Hurrian origin.

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

Letter N

Nun is the Egyptian word for the primal ocean, origin of the Hebrew letter nun meaning “fish”. As applied to a religious woman, “nun” descended from nonne, a nurse, because in antiquity priestesses were practitioners of the healing arts.

Nun is the fourteenth letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Nūn. In all languages, it represents the alveolar nasal /n/. The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek nu (Ν), Etruscan N, Latin N, and Cyrillic Н.

Nun is believed to be derived from an Egyptian hieroglyph of a snake (the Hebrew word for snake, nachash begins with a Nun and snake in Aramaic is nun) or eel. Some have hypothesized a hieroglyph of fish in water as its origin (in Arabic, nūn means large fish or whale). The Phoenician letter was named nūn “fish”, but the glyph has been suggested to descend from a hypothetical Proto-Canaanite naḥš “snake”, based on the name in Ethiopic, ultimately from a hieroglyph representing a snake.

An

An (Sumerian) or Anu (Akkadian) is the divine personification of the sky, supreme god, and ancestor of all the deities in ancient Mesopotamian religion. Anu was believed to be the supreme source of all authority, for the other gods and for all mortal rulers, and he is described in one text as the one “who contains the entire universe”.

By the time of the earliest written records, Anu was rarely worshipped, and veneration was instead devoted to his son Enlil, but, throughout Mesopotamian history, the highest deity in the pantheon was always said to possess the anûtu, meaning “Heavenly power”.

Anu’s primary role in myths is as the ancestor of the Anunnaki, the major deities of Sumerian religion. His primary cult center was the Eanna temple (“House of Heaven”; Sumerian: E-anna; Cuneiform: E.AN) in the city of Uruk.

Although the temple was originally dedicated to Anu, it was by the Akkadian Period (c. 2334 – 2154 BC) transformed into the primary cult center of Inanna. His authority in Uruk had largely been ceded to the goddess Inanna, the Queen of Heaven. After its dedication to Inanna, the temple seems to have housed priestesses of the goddess.

Anu’s consort in the earliest Sumerian texts is the goddess Uraš, but she is later the goddess Ki and, in Akkadian texts, the Babylonian goddess Antu or Antum, whose name is a feminine form of Anu. She was the first consort of Anu, and the pair were the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki.

Antu was a dominant feature of the Babylonian akit festival until as recently as 200 BC, her later pre-eminence possibly attributable to identification with the Greek goddess Hera. Antu was replaced as consort by Ishtar or Inanna, who may also be a daughter of Anu and Antu.

Dingir

Dingir (usually transliterated DIĜIR, Sumerian pronunciation: [tiŋiɾ]) is a Sumerian word for “god.” Its cuneiform sign is most commonly employed as the determinative for religious names and related concepts, in which case it is not pronounced and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript “D” as in e.g. DInanna.

The cuneiform sign by itself was originally an ideogram for the Sumerian word an (“sky” or “heaven”); its use was then extended to a logogram for the word diĝir (“god” or goddess) and the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon An, and a phonogram for the syllable /an/.

Akkadian took over all these uses and added to them a logographic reading for the native ilum and from that a syllabic reading of /il/. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again only an.

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.

According to one interpretation, DINGIR could also refer to a priest or priestess although there are other Akkadian words ēnu and ēntu that are also translated priest and priestess. For example, nin-dingir (lady divine) meant a priestess who received foodstuffs at the temple of Enki in the city of Eridu.

Antu

Anu’s consort in the earliest Sumerian texts is the goddess Uraš, but she is later the goddess Ki and, in Akkadian texts, the goddess Antu, whose name is a feminine form of Anu. In Akkadian mythology, Antu or Antum is a Babylonian goddess. She was the first consort of Anu, and the pair were the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki.

Antu was a dominant feature of the Babylonian akit festival until as recently as 200 BC, her later pre-eminence possibly attributable to identification with the Greek goddess Hera. Antu was replaced as consort by Ishtar or Inanna, who may also be a daughter of Anu and Antu. She is similar to Anat.

Inanna-Ishtar

Inanna was known as the “Queen of Heaven” and was the patron goddess of the Eanna temple at the city of Uruk, which was her main cult center. Her husband was the god Dumuzid (later known as Tammuz) and her sukkal, or personal attendant, was the goddess Ninshubur (who later became the male deity Papsukkal).

She was associated with the planet Venus and her most prominent symbols included the lion and the eight-pointed star. Inanna in her aspect as Anunītu was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.

Inanna and Ishtar were originally separate, unrelated deities, but they were equated with each other during the reign of Sargon of Akkad and came to be regarded as effectively the same goddess under two different names.

Inanna’s name may derive from the Sumerian phrase nin-an-ak, meaning “Lady of Heaven”, but the cuneiform sign for Inanna is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin) and sky (Sumerian: an).

These difficulties led some early Assyriologists to suggest that Inanna may have originally been a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, who was only later accepted into the Sumerian pantheon.

This idea was supported by Inanna’s youthfulness, and as well as the fact that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, she seems to have initially lacked a distinct sphere of responsibilities. The view that there was a Proto-Euphratean substrate language in Southern Iraq before Sumerian is not widely accepted by modern Assyriologists.

The name Ishtar occurs as an element in personal names from both the pre-Sargonic and post-Sargonic eras in Akkad, Assyria, and Babylonia. It is of Semitic derivation and is probably etymologically related to the name of the West Semitic god Attar, who is mentioned in later inscriptions from Ugarit and southern Arabia.

The morning star may have been conceived as a male deity who presided over the arts of war and the evening star may have been conceived as a female deity who presided over the arts of love.

Among the Akkadians, Assyrians, and Babylonians, the name of the male god eventually supplanted the name of his female counterpart, but, due to extensive syncretism with Inanna, the deity remained as female, despite the fact that her name was in the masculine form.

Inara

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

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

Nu

The god Nu (also Nenu, Nunu, Nun), feminine Naunet (also Nunut, Nuit, Nent, Nunet), the deification of the primordial watery abyss in the Hermopolitan Ogdoad cosmogony of ancient Egyptian religion, is sometimes depicted either with the head of a frog surmounted by a beetle. The name is paralleled with nen “inactivity” in a play of words in, “I raised them up from out of the watery mass [nu], out of inactivity [nen]”. The name has also been compared to the Coptic noun “abyss; deep”.

The name is spelled phonetically with the nw hieroglyph, with the determiners “sky”, and waters”. An alternative phonetic spelling used the phonogram nn. The Ancient Egyptians envisaged the oceanic abyss of the Nun as surrounding a bubble in which the sphere of life is encapsulated, representing the deepest mystery of their cosmogony.

In Ancient Egyptian creation accounts the original mound of land comes forth from the waters of the Nun. The Nun is the source of all that appears in a differentiated world, encompassing all aspects of divine and earthly existence. In the Ennead cosmogony Nun is perceived as transcendent at the point of creation alongside Atum the creator god.

Beginning with the Middle Kingdom Nun is described as “the Father of the Gods” and he is depicted on temple walls throughout the rest of Ancient Egyptian religious history. The Ogdoad includes along with Naunet and Nun, Amaunet and Amun, Hauhet and Heh, Kauket and Kek. Like the other Ogdoad deities, Nu did not have temples or any center of worship. Even so, Nu was sometimes represented by a sacred lake, or, as at Abydos, by an underground stream.

In the 12th Hour of the Book of Gates Nu is depicted with upraised arms holding a “solar bark” (or barque, a boat). The boat is occupied by eight deities, with the scarab deity Khepri standing in the middle surrounded by the seven other deities. During the late period when Egypt was occupied by foreign powers, the negative aspect of the Nun (chaos) became the dominant perception, reflecting the forces of disorder that were set loose in the country.

Nut

Nut (Ancient Egyptian: Nwt), also known by various other transcriptions, is also the name of the sky goddess of the Ennead of Heliopolis. She is the goddess of the sky, stars, cosmos, mothers, astronomy, and the universe in the ancient Egyptian religion. She was seen as a star-covered nude woman arching over the Earth, or as a cow. She was depicted wearing the water-pot sign (nw) that identifies her.

The pronunciation of ancient Egyptian is uncertain because vowels were long omitted from its writing, although her name often includes the unpronounced determinative hieroglyph for “sky”. Her name Nwt, itself also meaning “Sky”, is usually transcribed as “Nut” but also sometimes appears in older sources as Nunut, Nent, and Nuit.

She was originally the goddess of the nighttime sky, but eventually became referred to as simply the sky goddess. Her headdress was the hieroglyphic of part of her name, a pot, which may also symbolize the uterus. Mostly depicted in nude human form, Nut was also sometimes depicted in the form of a cow whose great body formed the sky and heavens, a sycamore tree, or as a giant sow, suckling many piglets (representing the stars).

A sacred symbol of Nut was the ladder used by Osiris to enter her heavenly skies. This ladder-symbol was called maqet and was placed in tombs to protect the deceased, and to invoke the aid of the deity of the dead. Nut and her brother, Geb, may be considered enigmas in the world of mythology. In direct contrast to most other mythologies which usually develop a sky father associated with an Earth mother (or Mother Nature), she personified the sky and he the Earth.

Nut is a daughter of Shu and Tefnut. Her brother and husband is Geb. She had four or, in some sources, five children: Osiris, Set, Isis, Nephthys, and in some sources Horus. She is considered one of the oldest deities among the Egyptian pantheon, with her origin being found on the creation story of Heliopolis.

Nut appears in the creation myth of Heliopolis which involves several goddesses who play important roles: Tefnut (Tefenet) is a personification of moisture, who mated with Shu (Air) and then gave birth to Sky as the goddess Nut, who mated with her brother Earth, as Geb.

From the union of Geb and Nut came, among others, the most popular of Egyptian goddesses, Isis, the mother of Horus, whose story is central to that of her brother-husband, the resurrection god Osiris. Osiris is killed by his brother Set and scattered over the Earth in 14 pieces, which Isis gathers up and puts back together.

Ra, the sun god, was the second to rule the world, according to the reign of the gods. Ra was a strong ruler but he feared anyone taking his throne. When he discovered that Nut was to have children, he was furious. He decreed, “Nut shall not give birth any day of the year.”

At that time, the year was only 360 days. Nut spoke to Thoth, god of wisdom, and he had a plan. Thoth gambled with Khonsu, god of the Moon, whose light rivaled that of Ra’s. Every time Khonsu lost, he had to give Thoth some of his moonlight. Khonsu lost so many times that Thoth had enough moonlight to make five extra days. Since these days were not part of the year, Nut could have her children.

She had five children: Osiris, later ruler of the gods and then god of the dead; Horus the Elder, god of war; Set, god of chaos and the desert; Isis, goddess of magic; and Nephthys, goddess of water. When Ra found out, he was furious. He separated Nut from her husband Geb for eternity. Her father, Shu, was to keep them apart. Nevertheless, Nut did not regret her decision

Nut was the goddess of the sky and all heavenly bodies, a symbol of protecting the dead when they enter the afterlife. According to the Egyptians, during the day, the heavenly bodies—such as the Sun and Moon—would make their way across her body. Then, at dusk, they would be swallowed, pass through her belly during the night, and be reborn at dawn.

Nut is also the barrier separating the forces of chaos from the ordered cosmos in the world. She was pictured as a woman arched on her toes and fingertips over the Earth; her body portrayed as a star-filled sky. Nut’s fingers and toes were believed to touch the four cardinal points or directions of north, south, east, and west. She was often painted on the inside lid of the sarcophagus, protecting the deceased. The vaults of tombs were often painted dark blue with many stars as a representation of Nut.

Because of her role in saving Osiris, Nut was seen as a friend and protector of the dead, who appealed to her as a child appeals to its mother: “O my Mother Nut, stretch Yourself over me, that I may be placed among the imperishable stars which are in You, and that I may not die.” Nut was thought to draw the dead into her star-filled sky, and refresh them with food and wine: “I am Nut, and I have come so that I may enfold and protect you from all things evil.”

The Book of the Dead says: “Hail, thou Sycamore Tree of the Goddess Nut! Give me of the water and of the air which is in thee. I embrace that throne which is in Unu, and I keep guard over the Egg of Nekek-ur. It flourisheth, and I flourish; it liveth, and I live; it snuffeth the air, and I snuff the air, I the Osiris Ani, whose word is truth, in peace.”

Nane

Nane was an Armenian mother goddess, as well as the goddess of war and wisdom. She was depicted as a young beautiful woman in the clothing of a warrior, with spear and shield in hand, like the Greek Athena, with whom she identified in the Hellenic period.

As the conversion to Christianity was so powerful, most artifacts, books, and stories were destroyed. As a result, many things are unknown to contemporary scholars. It is however known that in Ancient Armenia, it was traditional for Kings to meet with the oldest woman in their dynasty because she was often seen as the epitome of Nane.

The temple of the goddess Nane was in the town of Thil across from the Lycus River. Her temple was destroyed during the Christianization of Armenia: “Then they crossed the Lycus River and demolished the temple of Nane, Aramazd’s daughter, in the town of Thil.”

“Gregory then asked the king for permission to overthrow and destroy the pagan shrines and temples. Trdat readily issued an edict entrusting Gregory with this task, and himself set out from the city to destroy shrines along the highways.”

In Armenia and other countries around the world, the name Nane continues to be used not only as a personal name, but also as a nickname for the grandmother of the household. Nanna, Nani, Nannan, etc. She has also been referred to as Hanea, Hanea, Babylonian Nana, Sumerian Nanai or Sumerian Nana.

Anahit

Nane was closely associated with the cult of the goddess Anahit, the goddess of fertility and healing, wisdom and water in Armenian mythology. In early periods Anahit was the goddess of war. By the 5th century BC she was the main deity in Armenia along with Aramazd.

Anahit’s worship, most likely borrowed from the Iranians during the Median invasion or the early Achaemenid period, was of paramount significance in Armenia. Artaxias I erected statues of Anahit, and promulgated orders to worship them.

According to Strabo, the “Armenians shared in the religion of the Perses and the Medes and particularly honored Anaitis”. The kings of Armenia were “steadfast supporters of the cult” and Tiridates III, before his conversion to Christianity, “prayed officially to the triad Aramazd-Anahit-Vahagn but is said to have shown a special devotion to ‘the great lady Anahit, … the benefactress of the whole human race, mother of all knowledge, daughter of the great Aramazd'”

According to Agathangelos, tradition required the Kings of Armenia to travel once a year to the temple at Eriza (Erez) in Acilisene in order to celebrate the festival of the divinity; Tiridates made this journey in the first year of his reign where he offered sacrifice and wreaths and boughs.

The temple at Eriza appears to have been particularly famous, “the wealthiest and most venerable in Armenia”, staffed with priests and priestesses, the latter from eminent families who would serve at the temple before marrying.

This practice may again reveal Semitic syncretic influences, and is not otherwise attested in other areas. Pliny reports that Mark Antony’s soldiers smashed an enormous statue of the divinity made of solid gold and then divided the pieces amongst themselves.

Also according to Pliny, supported by Dio Cassius, Acilisene eventually came to be known as Anaïtica. Dio Cassius also mentions that another region along the Cyrus River, on the borders of Albania and Iberia, was also called “the land of Anaïtis.”

In Armenia, Anahit-worship was established in Erez, Armavir, Artashat and Ashtishat. A mountain in Sophene district was known as Anahit’s throne (Athor Anahta). The entire district of Erez, in the province of Akilisene (Ekeghiats), was called Anahtakan Gavar.

According to Plutarch, the temple of Erez was the wealthiest and the noblest in Armenia. During the expedition of Mark Antony in Armenia, the statue was broken to pieces by the Roman soldiers. Pliny the Elder gives us the following story about it:

The Emperor Augustus, being invited to dinner by one of his generals, asked him if it were true that the wreckers of Anahit’s statue had been punished by the wrathful goddess. “No!” answered the general, “on the contrary, I have today the good fortune of treating you with one part of the hip of that gold statue.”

The Armenians erected a new golden statue of Anahit in Erez, which was worshiped before the time of St. Gregory Illuminator. The annual festivity of the month Navasard, held in honor of Anahit, was the occasion of great gatherings, attended with dance, music, recitals, competitions, etc.

The sick went to the temples in pilgrimage, asking for recovery. The symbol of ancient Armenian medicine was the head of the bronze gilded statue of the goddess Anahit. According to Agathangelos, King Trdat extolls the “great Lady Anahit, the glory of our nation and vivifier …; mother of all chastity, and issue of the great and valiant Aramazd.”

The historian Berossus identifies Anahit with Aphrodite, while medieval Armenian scribes identify her with Artemis. According to Strabo, Anahit’s worship included rituals of sacred prostitution, but later Christian writers do not mention such custom.

The Armenian Anahit is related to the similar Iranian goddess Anahita. The Armenian cult of Anahit, as well as the pre-Christian Armenian religion in general, was very closely connected to Persian Zoroastrianism, but it also had significant distinct features deriving from local pagan traditions as well as from non-Zoroastrian foreign cults.

In present-day Armenia, it is remembered as part of the historical mythological heritage of the nation, and the name Anahid is a popular female given name. In 1997, the Central Bank of Armenia issued a commemorative gold coin with an image of the divinity Anahit on the obverse.

Anahita

Anahita is the Old Persian form of the name of an Iranian goddess and appears in complete and earlier form as Aredvi Sura Anahita (Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā), the Avestan name of an Indo-Iranian cosmological figure venerated as the divinity of “the Waters” (Aban) and hence associated with fertility, healing and wisdom.

The Armenian goddess Anahit is related to the similar Iranian goddess Anahita. Aredvi Sura Anahita is Ardwisur Anahid or Nahid in Middle and Modern Persian, and Anahit in Armenian. An iconic shrine cult of Aredvi Sura Anahita was – together with other shrine cults – “introduced apparently in the 4th century BCE and lasted until it was suppressed in the wake of an iconoclastic movement under the Sassanids.”

The Greek and Roman historians of classical antiquity refer to her either as Anaïtis or identified her with one of the divinities from their own pantheons. Based on the development of her cult, she was described as a syncretistic goddess, which was composed of two independent elements.

The first is a manifestation of the Indo-Iranian idea of the Heavenly River who provides the waters to the rivers and streams flowing in the earth while the second is that of a goddess with an uncertain origin, though maintaining her own unique characteristics, became associated with the cult of the ancient Mesopotamian goddess Inanna-Ishtar.

At some point prior to the 4th century BCE, this yazata was conflated with (an analogue of) Semitic Ištar, likewise a divinity of “maiden” fertility and from whom Aredvi Sura Anahita then inherited additional features of a divinity of war and of the planet Venus or “Zohreh” in Arabic.

It was moreover the association with the planet Venus, “it seems, which led Herodotus to record that the [Persis] learnt ‘to sacrifice to “the heavenly goddess”‘ from the Assyrians and Arabians.” According to a theory, this is attributed partly to a desire to make Anahita part of Zoroastrianism after diffusing from the extreme northwest to the rest of Persia.

There are sources who based their theory on this aspect. For instance, it was proposed that the ancient Persians worshiped the planet Venus as *Anahiti, the “pure one”, and that, as these people settled in Eastern Iran, *Anahiti began to absorb elements of the cult of Ishtar.

Indeed, according to Boyce, it is “probable” that there was once a Perso–Elamite divinity by the name of *Anahiti (as reconstructed from the Greek Anaitis). It is then likely (so Boyce) that it was this divinity that was an analogue of Ishtar, and that it is this divinity with which Aredvi Sura Anahita was conflated.

The link between Anahita and Ishtar is part of the wider theory that Iranian kingship had Mesopotamian roots and that the Persian gods were natural extensions of the Babylonian deities, where Ahuramazda is considered an aspect of Marduk, Mithra for Shamash, and, finally, Anahita was Ishtar.

This is supported by how Ishtar “apparently” gave Aredvi Sura Anahita the epithet Banu, ‘the Lady’, a typically Mesopotamian construct that is not attested as an epithet for a divinity in Iran before the common era.

It is completely unknown in the texts of the Avesta, but evident in Sassanid-era middle Persian inscriptions (see the cult, below) and in a middle Persian Zend translation of Yasna 68.13. Also in Zoroastrian texts from the post-conquest epoch (651 CE onwards), the divinity is referred to as ‘Anahid the Lady’, ‘Ardwisur the Lady’ and ‘Ardwisur the Lady of the waters’.

Because the divinity is unattested in any old Western Iranian language, establishing characteristics prior to the introduction of Zoroastrianism in Western Iran (c. 5th century BCE) is very much in the realm of speculation.

Boyce concludes that “the Achaemenids’ devotion to this goddess evidently survived their conversion to Zoroastrianism, and they appear to have used royal influence to have her adopted into the Zoroastrian pantheon.”

According to an alternate theory, Anahita was perhaps “a daeva of the early and pure Zoroastrian faith, incorporated into the Zoroastrian religion and its revised canon” during the reign of “Artaxerxes I, the Constantine of that faith.”

Saraswati

According to H. Lommel, the proper name of Anahita in Indo-Iranian times was Sarasvatī, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom, and learning. The name saraswati also means “she who possesses waters”.

In Sanskrit, the name means “of the waters, mighty, and immaculate”. Like the Indian Sarasvatī, Anāhitā nurtures crops and herds; and she is hailed both as a divinity and as the mythical river which she personifies, “as great in bigness as all these waters which flow forth upon the earth” (Yasht 5.3).

Saraswati 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 the Universe, respectively. She not only embodies knowledge but also the experience of the highest reality.

Saraswati, is a Sanskrit fusion word of saras meaning “pooling water”, but also sometimes translated as “speech”; and vati meaning “she who possesses”. She is often depicted as a beautiful woman dressed in pure white, often seated on a white lotus, which symbolizes light, knowledge and truth.

Originally associated with the river or rivers known as Saraswati, this combination, therefore, means “she who has ponds, lakes, and pooling water” or occasionally “she who possesses speech”. It is also a Sanskrit composite word of surasa-vati which means “one with plenty of water”.

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, and also known as Saraswati Puja and Saraswati Jayanti in so many parts of India) in her honour, and mark the day by helping young children learn how to write the letters of the alphabet on that day. The Goddess is also revered by believers of the Jain religion of west and central India, as well as some Buddhist sects.

In hymns of Book 10 of Rigveda, she is already declared to be the “possessor of knowledge”. In Upanishads and Dharma Sastras, Saraswati is invoked to remind the reader to meditate on virtue, virtuous emoluments, the meaning and the very essence of one’s activity, one’s action.

Her importance grows in Vedas composed after Rigveda and in Brahmanas, and the word evolves in its meaning from “waters that purify”, to “that which purifies”, to “vach (speech) that purifies”, to “knowledge that purifies”, and ultimately into a spiritual concept of a goddess that embodies knowledge, arts, music, melody, muse, language, rhetoric, eloquence, creative work and anything whose flow purifies the essence and self of a person.

Ganges

In Vedic literature, Saraswati acquires the same significance for early Indians (states John Muir) as that accredited to the river Ganges, or Ganga, a trans-boundary river of Asia which flows through India and Bangladesh, by their modern descendants.

This river is the longest in India. The Late Harappan period, about 1900–1300 BCE, saw the spread of Harappan settlement eastward from the Indus River basin to the Ganges-Yamuna doab, although none crossed the Ganges to settle its eastern bank.

The disintegration of the Harappan civilisation, in the early 2nd millennium BC, marks the point when the centre of Indian civilisation shifted from the Indus basin to the Ganges basin. There may be links between the Late Harappan settlement of the Ganges basin and the archaeological culture known as “Cemetery H”, the Indo-Aryan people, and the Vedic period.

During the early Vedic Age of the Rigveda, the Indus and the Sarasvati River were the major sacred rivers, not the Ganges. But the later three Vedas gave much more importance to the Ganges. The Gangetic Plain became the centre of successive powerful states, from the Maurya Empire to the Mughal Empire.

In Hinduism, the river Ganges is considered sacred and is personified as the goddess Gaṅgā. She is worshiped by Hindus who believe that bathing in the river causes the remission of sins and facilitates Moksha (liberation from the cycle of life and death), and that the water of the Ganges is considered very pure. Pilgrims immerse the ashes of their kin in the Ganges, which is considered by them to bring the spirits closer to moksha.

Several places sacred to Hindus lie along the banks of the Ganges, including Gangotri, Haridwar, Allahabad, Varanasi and Kali Ghat in Kolkata. During the Loy Krathong festival in Thailand, candlelit floats are released into waterways to honour Gautama Buddha and goddess Ganga for good fortune and washing away sins (pāpa in Sanskrit, used to describe actions that create negative karma by violating moral and ethical codes, which brings negative consequences).

Ganga is described as the melodious, the fortunate, the cow that gives much milk, the eternally pure, the delightful, the body that is full of fish, affords delight to the eye and leaps over mountains in sport, the bedding that bestows water and happiness, and the friend or benefactor of all that lives.

She holds an important place in the Hindu pantheon. Ganga is represented as a fair-complexioned woman, wearing a white crown and sitting on a crocodile. She holds a water lily in her right hand and a lute in her left. When shown with four hands she carries a water-pot, a lily, a rosary and has one hand in a protective mode. The Rig Veda mentions Ganga but more of her is said in the Puranas.

Ganga is depicted four-armed and mounted on a crocodile or enthroned surrounded by crocodiles. In one of iconography in Maha Virat-rupa she holds jar of amrita, rosary, lotus or shivalinga and varada mudra. She may be depicted in other ways holding only a kalash (or 2 replacing lotus) and lotus, while other 2 hands in varada and abhaya mudra.

Another one shows her holding kalasha, trident, shivalinga and varada mudra. Another depiction popular especially in Bengal shows her holding Conch (shankha) , chakra (discus) , lotus and abhaya mudra , with Kalash releasing her holy water.

Ganga is a consort to all three major male deities of Hinduism. As Brahma’s partner she always travels with him in the form of water in his kamandalu (water-pot). She is also Vishnu’s consort. Not only does she emanate from his foot as Vishnupadi in the avatarana story, but is also, with Sarasvati and Lakshmi, one of his co-wives.

In one popular story, envious of being outdone by each other, the co-wives begin to quarrel. While Lakshmi attempts to mediate the quarrel, Ganga and Sarasvati, heap misfortune on each other.

They curse each other to become rivers, and to carry within them, by washing, the sins of their human worshippers. Soon their husband, Vishnu, arrives and decides to calm the situation by separating the goddesses. He orders Sarasvati to become the wife of Brahma, Ganga to become the wife of Shiva, and Lakshmi, as the blameless conciliator, to remain as his own wife.

Ganga and Sarasvati, however, are so distraught at this dispensation, and wail so loudly, that Vishnu is forced to take back his words. Consequently, in their lives as rivers they are still thought to be with him.

Shiva, as Gangadhara, bearing the Descent of the Ganges, as the goddess Parvati, the sage Bhagiratha, and the bull Nandi look on (circa 1740). It is Shiva’s relationship with Ganga, that is the best-known in Ganges mythology. Her descent, the avatarana is not a one time event, but a continuously occurring one in which she is forever falling from heaven into his locks and being forever tamed.

Shiva, is depicted in Hindu iconography as Gangadhara, the “Bearer of the Ganges”, with Ganga, shown as spout of water, rising from his hair. The Shiva-Ganga relationship is both perpetual and intimate. Shiva is sometimes called Uma-Ganga-Patiswara (“Husband and Lord of Uma (Parvati) and Ganga”), and Ganga often arouses the jealousy of Shiva’s better-known consort Parvati.

Ganga is the shakti or the moving, restless, rolling energy in the form of which the otherwise recluse and unapproachable Shiva appears on earth. As water, this moving energy can be felt, tasted, and absorbed. The war-god Skanda addresses the sage Agastya in the Kashi Khand of the Skanda Purana in these words:

One should not be amazed … that this Ganges is really Power, for is she not the Supreme Shakti of the Eternal Shiva, taken in the form of water? This Ganges, filled with the sweet wine of compassion, was sent out for the salvation of the world by Shiva, the Lord of the Lords. Good people should not think this Triple-Pathed River to be like the thousand other earthly rivers, filled with water.

The Ganges is also the mother, the Ganga Mata (mata=”mother”) of Hindu worship and culture, accepting all and forgiving all. Unlike other goddesses, she has no destructive or fearsome aspect, destructive though she might be as a river in nature. She is also a mother to other gods. She accepts Shiva’s incandescent seed from the fire-god Agni, which is too hot for this world, and cools it in her waters.

This union produces Skanda, or Kartikeya, the god of war. In the Mahabharata, she is the wife of Shantanu, and the mother of heroic warrior-patriarch, Bhishma. When Bhishma is mortally wounded in battle, Ganga comes out of the water in human form and weeps uncontrollably over his body.

The Ganges is the distilled lifeblood of the Hindu tradition, of its divinities, holy books, and enlightenment. As such, her worship does not require the usual rites of invocation (avahana) at the beginning and dismissal (visarjana) at the end, required in the worship of other gods. Her divinity is immediate and everlasting.

Ganges

Hegir-Nuna (or Gangir)

Hegir-Nuna (or Gangir) is a goddess in Sumerian mythology. She is one of the seven daughters of the goddess Baba, known chiefly at Lagash. Nintinugga was a Babylonian goddess of healing, the consort of Ninurta. She is identical with the goddess of Akkadian mythology, known as Bau (cuneiform: Dba-u2), or Baba though it would seem that the two were originally independent.

She is later known as Gula and in medical incantations, Bēlet or Balāti, also as the Azugallatu the “great healer”, the same as her son Damu. Other names borne by this goddess are Nin-Karrak, Nin Ezen, Ga-tum-dug and Nm-din-dug.

Her epithets are “great healer of the land” and “great healer of the black-headed ones”, a “herb grower”, “the lady who makes the broken up whole again”, and “creates life in the land”, making her a vegetation/fertility goddess endowed with regenerative power. She was the daughter of An and a wife of Ninurta. She had seven daughters, including Hegir-Nuna (Gangir).

The name Bau is more common in the oldest period and gives way to Gula after the First Babylonian dynasty. Since it is probable that Ninib has absorbed the cults of minor sun-deities, the two names may represent consorts of different gods. However this may be, the qualities of both are alike, and the two occur as synonymous designations of Ninib’s female consort. She was known as a patron deity of Lagash, where Gudea built her a temple.

After the Great Flood, she helped “breathe life” back into mankind. The designation well emphasizes the chief trait of Bau-Gula which is that of healer. She is often spoken of as “the great physician,” and accordingly plays a specially prominent role in incantations and incantation rituals intended to relieve those suffering from disease.

She is, however, also invoked to curse those who trample upon the rights of rulers or those who do wrong with poisonous potions. As in the case of Ninib, the cult of Bau-Gula was prominent in Shirgulla and in Nippur. While generally in close association with her consort, she was also invoked alone, giving her more dominance than most of the goddesses of Babylonia and Assyria.

In the Neo-Babylonian period, she also had an oneiric quality. She had sometimes violent nature as the “queen whose ‘tempest’, like a raging storm, makes heaven tremble, makes earth quake”. She was a source for blasphemous remarks where Gula and her dogs are mentioned in formulae of a curse.

She appears in a prominent position on the designs accompanying the Kudurrus boundary-stone monuments of Babylonia, being represented by a portrait, when other gods and goddesses are merely pictured by their shrines, by sacred animals or by weapons.

In neo-Babylonian days her cult continues to occupy a prominent position, and Nebuchadrezzar II speaks of no less than three chapels or shrines within the sacred precincts of E-Zida in the city of Borsippa, besides a temple in her honour at Babylon.

Aban

Apas is the Avestan language term for “the waters”, which, in its innumerable aggregate states, is represented by the Apas, the hypostases of the waters. Āb (plural Ābān) is the Middle Persian-language form.

“To this day reverence for water is deeply ingrained in Zoroastrians, and in orthodox communities offerings are regularly made to the household well or nearby stream.” The ape zaothra ceremony—the culminating rite of the Yasna service (which is in turn the principal act of worship)—is literally for the “strengthening of the waters.”

Avestan apas (from singular āpō) is grammatically feminine, and the Apas are female. The Middle Persian equivalents are ābān/Ābān (alt: āvān/Āvān), from which Parsi Gujarati āvā/Āvā (in religious usage only) derive.

The Avestan common noun āpas corresponds exactly to Vedic Sanskrit āpas, and both derive from the same proto-Indo-Iranian word, stem *ap- “water”, cognate with the British river Avon.

In both Avestan and Vedic Sanskrit texts, the waters—whether as waves or drops, or collectively as streams, pools, rivers or wells—are represented by the Apas, the group of divinities of the waters. The identification of divinity with element is complete in both cultures : in the RigVeda the divinities are wholesome to drink, in the Avesta the divinities are good to bathe in.

As also in the Indian religious texts, the waters are considered a primordial element. In Zoroastrian cosmogony, the waters are the second creation, after that of the sky. Aside from Apas herself/themselves, no less than seven Zoroastrian divinities are identified with the waters: All three Ahuras (Mazda, Mithra, Apam Napat), two Amesha Spentas (Haurvatat, Armaiti) and two lesser Yazatas (Aredvi Sura Anahita and Ahurani).

In the seven-chapter Yasna Haptanghaiti, which interrupts the sequential order of the Gathas and is linguistically as old as the Gathas themselves, the waters are revered as the Ahuranis, wives of the Ahura (Yasna 38.3). Although not otherwise named, Boyce associates this Ahura with Apam Napat (middle Persian: Burz Yazad), another divinity of waters.

In Yasna 38, which is dedicated “to the earth and the sacred waters”, apas/Apas is not only necessary for nourishment, but is considered the source of life (“you that bear forth”, “mothers of our life”). In Yasna 2.5 and 6.11, apas/Apas is “Mazda-made and holy”.

In the Aban Yasht (Yasht 5), which is nominally dedicated to the waters, veneration is directed specifically at Aredvi Sura Anahita, another divinity identified with the waters, but originally representing the “world river” that encircled the earth (see In tradition, below).

The merger of the two concepts “probably” came about due to prominence given to Aredvi Sura during the reign of Artaxerxes II (r. 404-358 BCE) and subsequent Achaemenid emperors.

Although (according to Lommel and Boyce) Aredvi is of Indo-Iranian origin and cognate with Vedic Saraswati, during the 5th century BCE Aredvi was conflated with a Semitic divinity with similar attributes, from whom she then inherited additional properties.

In other Avesta texts, the waters are implicitly associated with [Spenta] Armaiti (middle Persian Spendarmad), the Amesha Spenta of the earth (this association is properly developed in Bundahishn 3.17). In Yasna 3.1, the eminence of Aban is reinforced by additionally assigning guardianship to another Amesha Spenta Haurvatat (middle Persian: (K)hordad).

According to the Bundahishn, (‘Original Creation’, an 11th- or 12th-century text), aban was the second of the seven creations of the material universe, the lower half of everything. In a development of a cosmogonical view already alluded to in the Vendidad (21.15), aban is the essence of a “great gathering place of the waters” (Avestan: Vourukasha, middle Persian: Varkash) upon which the world ultimately rested.

The great sea was fed by a mighty river (proto-Indo-Iranian: *harahvati, Avestan: Aredvi Sura, middle Persian: Ardvisur). Two rivers, one to the east and one to the west, flowed out of it and encircled the earth (Bundahishn 11.100.2, 28.8) where they were then cleansed by Puitika (Avestan, middle Persian: Putik), the tidal sea, before flowing back into the Vourukasha.

In the Zoroastrian calendar, the tenth day of the month is dedicated to the (divinity of) waters (Siroza 1.10), under whose protection that day then lies. Additionally, Aban is also the name of the eighth month of the year of the Zoroastrian calendar (Bundahishn 1a.23-24), as well as that of the Iranian calendar of 1925, which follows Zoroastrian month-naming conventions.

It might be the precursor of the holy month of Sha’aban in the Hijri calendar. sha’aban meaning The Zoroastrian name-day feast of Abanagan, also known as the Aban Ardvisur Jashan by Indian Zoroastrians, is celebrated on the day that the day-of-month and month-of-year dedications intersect, that is, on the tenth day of the eighth month. The celebration is accompanied by a practice of offering sweets and flowers to a river or the sea.

Enki

The Sumerian god Enki (Ea in the Akkadian language) was believed to have lived in the abzu since before human beings were created. His wife Ninhursag, also known as Damgalnuna (great wife of the prince) or Damkina (true wife), his mother Nammu, his advisor Isimud and a variety of subservient creatures, such as the gatekeeper Lahmu, also lived in the abzu. Enki was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ninhursag

Ninḫursaĝ was the ancient Sumerian mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the “true and great lady of heaven” (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were “nourished by Ninhursag’s milk”.

Nin-hursag means “lady of the sacred mountain” (from Sumerian NIN “lady” and ḪAR.SAG “sacred mountain, foothill”. According to legend, her name was changed from Ninmah to Ninhursag by her son Ninurta in order to commemorate his creation of the mountains. As Ninmenna, according to a Babylonian investiture ritual, she placed the golden crown on the king in the Eanna temple.

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

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

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

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

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

She had many names including Ninmah (“Great Queen”); Nintu (“Lady of Birth”); Mamma or Mami (mother); Aruru, Belet-Ili (lady of the gods, Akkadian). Possibly included among the original mother goddesses was Damgalnuna (great wife of the prince) or Damkina (true wife), the consort of the god Enki.

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

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.

Some of the names were once associated with independent goddesses (such as Ninmah and Ninmenna), who later became identified and merged with Ninhursag, and myths exist in which the name Ninhursag is not mentioned.

The mother goddess had many epithets including shassuru or ‘womb goddess’, tabsut ili ‘midwife of the gods’, ‘mother of all children’ and ‘mother of the gods’. In this role she is identified with Ki in the Enuma Elish. She had shrines in both Eridu and Kish.

In creation texts, Ninmah (another name for Ninhursag) acts as a midwife whilst the mother goddess Nammu makes different kinds of human individuals from lumps of clay at a feast given by Enki to celebrate the creation of humankind.

Sometimes her hair is depicted in an omega shape and at times she wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders. Frequently she carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash. She is the tutelary deity to several Sumerian leaders.

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

Nammu

In Sumerian mythology, Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically dNAMMA = dENGUR) was a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology. 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.

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

The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans, and Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods. Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.

Tiamat

In the religion of ancient Babylon, Tiamat (Akkadian: DTI.AMAT or DTAM.TUM, Greek: Thaláttē) is a primordial goddess of the salt sea, mating with Abzû, the god of fresh water, to produce younger gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation. She is referred to as a woman, and described as the glistening one. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.

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 the heavens and the Earth from her divided body.

Thorkild Jacobsen and Walter Burkert both argue for a connection with the Akkadian word for sea, tâmtu, following an early form, ti’amtum. Burkert continues by making a linguistic connection to Tethys. The later form Greek thaláttē, which appears in the Hellenistic Babylonian writer Berossus’ first volume of universal history, is clearly related to Greek thálatta, an Eastern variant of thalassa (“sea”).

It is thought that the proper name ti’amat, which is the construct or vocative form, was dropped in secondary translations of the original texts because some Akkadian copyists of Enûma Elish substituted the ordinary word tāmtu (“sea”) for Tiamat, the two names having become essentially the same due to association. Tiamat also has been claimed to be cognate with Northwest Semitic tehom (“the deeps, abyss”), in the Book of Genesis 1:2.

Tehom (lit. the Deep or Abyss; Greek Septuagint: ábyssos) refers to the Great Deep of the primordial waters of creation in the Bible. Tehom is a cognate of the Akkadian word tamtu and Ugaritic t-h-m which have similar meaning. As such it was equated with the earlier Sumerian Tiamat. In Modern Arabic, Tihamah refers to a coastal plain of the Red Sea.

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

It was from here that the waters of Noah’s flood had their origin and the place that God temporarily receded the Red Sea for the Israelites to pass over before destroying the pursuing Egyptian army, and the place that God will dry up for the righteous to walk on towards their redemption at the End of Days (Isaiah 11:15, context entire chapter 11).

Abzu

Abzu (apsû) is depicted as a deity only in the Babylonian creation epic, the Enûma Elish, taken from the library of Assurbanipal (c 630 BCE) but which is about 500 years older. In this story, he was a primal being made of fresh water and a lover to another primal deity, Tiamat, a creature of salt water.

The Enuma Elish begins: “When above the heavens (e-nu-ma e-liš) did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, the first, the begetter, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, she who bore them all; they were still mixing their waters, and no pasture land had yet been formed, nor even a reed marsh.”

This resulted in the birth of the younger gods, who later murder Apsu in order to usurp his lordship of the universe. Enraged, Tiamat gives birth to the first dragons, filling their bodies with “venom instead of blood”, and made war upon her treacherous children, only to be slain by Marduk, the god of Storms, who then forms the heavens and earth from her corpse.

Ma

Ma is a Sumerian word meaning “land” that in Sumerian mythology was also used to regard Primordial Land. 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.

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. Ma was a local goddess at Ma and a Phrygian alternative name for Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubileya/Kubeleya Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”).

Cybele is an Anatolian mother goddess; she may have a possible forerunner in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük in Anatolia, where statues of plump women, sometimes sitting, have been found in excavations dated to the 6th millennium BC and identified by some as a mother goddess.

In Phrygian art of the 8th century BC, the cult attributes of the Phrygian mother-goddess include attendant lions, a bird of prey, and a small vase for her libations or other offerings. Her name, and the development of religious practices associated with her, may have been influenced by cult to the deified Sumerian queen Kubaba.

Kubaba (in the Weidner or Esagila Chronicle; Sumerian: Kug-Bau) is the only queen on the Sumerian King List, which states she reigned for 100 years – roughly in the Early Dynastic III period (ca. 2500-2330 BC) of Sumerian history. In later times, she was worshipped as a goddess.

Shrines in honour of Kubaba spread throughout Mesopotamia. In the Hurrian area, she may be identified with Kebat, or Hepat, one title of the Hurrian Mother goddess Hannahannah (from Hurrian hannah, “mother”). Abdi-Heba was the palace mayor, ruling Jerusalem at the time of the Amarna letters (1350 BC). Kubaba became the tutelary goddess who protected the ancient city of Carchemish on the upper Euphrates, in the late Hurrian/early Hittite period.

Relief carvings, now at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi), Ankara, show her seated, wearing a cylindrical headdress like the polos and holding probably a tympanum (hand drum) or possibly a mirror in one hand and a poppy capsule (or perhaps pomegranate) in the other. She plays a role in Luwian texts and a minor role in Hittite texts, mainly in Hurrian rituals.

According to Emanuel Laroche, Maarten J. Vermaseren, and Mark Munn, her cult later spread and her name was adapted for the main goddess of the Hittite successor kingdoms in Anatolia. This deity later developed into the Phrygian matar kubileya (“mother Cybele”), who was depicted in petroglyphs and mentioned in accompanying inscriptions.

The Phrygian goddess otherwise bears little resemblance to Kubaba, who – according to Herodotus – was a sovereign deity at Sardis. In Greece, Cybele met with a mixed reception. She was partially assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia, her possibly Minoan equivalent Rhea, and the harvest–mother goddess Demeter.

Nammu

In Sumerian mythology, Nammu (also Namma; dNAMMA = dENGUR) was a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat (Akkadian: DTI.AMAT or DTAM.TUM, Greek: Thaláttē) in Babylonian mythology, a primordial goddess of the salt sea, mating with Abzû, the god of fresh water, to produce younger gods.

Nammu was the Goddess sea (Engur) that gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first gods, representing the Apsu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall.

Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions. According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu. Nammu is the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”.

It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going. The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans, and Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods. Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.

E-abzu

The Abzu or Apsu (Cuneiform: ZU.AB; Sumerian: abzu; Akkadian: apsû), also called engur (Cuneiform:LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: engur; Akkadian: engurru – lit., ab=’water’ zu=’deep’), is the name for fresh water from underground aquifers which was given a religious fertilising quality in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology.

Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the abzu. In this respect, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology it referred to the primeval sea below the void space of the underworld (Kur) and the earth (Ma) above.

Enki and later Ea were apparently depicted, sometimes, as a man covered with the skin of a fish, and this representation, as likewise the name of his temple E-apsu, “house of the watery deep”, points decidedly to his original character as a god of the waters.

In the city of Eridu, Enki’s temple, a ziggurat temple surrounded by Euphratean marshlands near the ancient Persian Gulf coastline at Eridu, was known as E-abzu (house of the deep waters; also E-en-gur-a, meaning “house of the subterranean waters”). It was located at the edge of a swamp and was the first temple known to have been built in Southern Iraq.

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

On this basis Thorkild Jacobsen has hypothesized that the original deity of the temple was Abzu, with his attributes later being taken by Enki over time. P. Steinkeller believes that, during the earliest period, Enki had a subordinate position to a goddess (possibly Ninhursag), taking the role of divine consort or high priest, later taking priority.

The Enki temple had at its entrance a pool of fresh water, and excavation has found numerous carp bones, suggesting collective feasts. Carp are shown in the twin water flows running into the later God Enki, suggesting continuity of these features over a very long period. These features were found at all subsequent Sumerian temples, suggesting that this temple established the pattern for all subsequent Sumerian temples.

“All rules laid down at Eridu were faithfully observed”. Certain tanks of holy water in Babylonian and Assyrian temple courtyards were also called abzu (apsû). Typical in religious washing, these tanks were similar to Judaism’s mikvot, the washing pools of Islamic mosques, or the baptismal font in Christian churches.

Atargatis

Atargatis or Ataratheh (Aramaic: ‘Atar’atheh or Tar’atheh) was the chief goddess of northern Syria in Classical antiquity. The name Atargatis derives from the Aramaic form ʿAtarʿatheh, which comes in several variants.

The Romans called her Dea Syria, or in one word Deasura. Michael Rostovtzeff called her “the great mistress of the North Syrian lands”. Ctesias also used the name Derketo for her, and the Romans called her Dea Syria, or in one word Deasura.

Primarily she was a goddess of fertility, but, as the baalat (“mistress”) of her city and people, she was also responsible for their protection and well-being. Her chief sanctuary was at Hierapolis, modern Manbij, northeast of Aleppo, Syria.

She is sometimes described as a mermaid-goddess, due to identification of her with a fish-bodied goddess at Ascalon. However, there is no evidence that Atargatis was worshipped at Ascalon, and all iconographic evidence shows her as anthropomorphic.

As Ataratheh, doves and fish were considered sacred to her: doves as an emblem of the Love-Goddess, and fish as symbolic of the fertility and life of the waters. Her consort is usually Hadad (Ugaritic), Adad, Haddad (Akkadian) or Iškur (Sumerian), the storm and rain god in the Canaanite and ancient Mesopotamian religions.

Atargatis is seen as a continuation of Bronze Age goddesses. At Ugarit, cuneiform tablets attest the three great Canaanite goddesses:ʾAṭirat, described as a fecund “Lady Goddess of the Sea” (rabbatu ʾat̪iratu yammi); she is identified with Asherah,ʿAnat, the war-like virgin goddess, and Ațtart, the goddess of love, namesake of the Phoenician goddess ʿAštart, called Astarte in Greek.

In many cases Atargatis, ‘Ashtart, and other goddesses who once had independent cults and mythologies became fused to such an extent as to be indistinguishable. These shared many traits with each other and may have been worshipped in conjunction or separately during 1500 years of cultural history.

The name ʿAtarʿatheh is widely held to derive from a compound of the Aramaic form ʿAttar, which is a cognate of ʿAțtart minus its feminine suffix -t, plus ʿAttah or ʿAtā, a cognate of ʿAnat. Alternatively, the second half may be a Palmyrene divine name ʿAthe (i.e. tempus opportunum), which occurs as part of many compounds.

It has also been proposed that the element -gatis may relate to the Greek gados “fish”. For example, the Greek name for “sea monster” or “whale” is the cognate term ketos). So Atar-Gatis may simply mean “the fish-goddess Atar”.

At her temples at Ascalon, Hierapolis Bambyce, and Edessa, there were fish ponds containing fish only her priests might touch. The fishpond of fish sacred to Atargatis survives at Şanlıurfa, the ancient Edessa, its mythology transferred to Ibrahim.

Hadad

He was attested in Ebla as “Hadda” in c. 2500 BCE. From the Levant, Hadad was introduced to Mesopotamia by the Amorites, where he became known as the Akkadian (Assyrian-Babylonian) god Adad. Adad and Iškur are usually written with the logogram dIM—the same symbol used for the Hurrian god Teshub.

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 Greek god Zeus; the Roman god Jupiter, as Jupiter Dolichenus; the Hurrian storm-god Teshub; the Egyptian god Amun.

Hadad (Ugaritic: Haddu), Adad, Haddad (Akkadian) or Iškur (Sumerian) was the storm and rain god in the Canaanite and ancient Mesopotamian religions. He was attested in Ebla as “Hadda” in c. 2500 BCE.

From the Levant, Hadad was introduced to Mesopotamia by the Amorites, where he became known as the Akkadian (Assyrian-Babylonian) god Adad. Adad and Iškur are usually written with the logogram dIM – the same symbol used for the Hurrian storm-god Teshub.

Occasionally Adad/Iškur is identified with the god Amurru, the god of the Amorites. He was the patron god of the Mesopotamian city of Ninab, whose exact location is unknown. He was occasionally called “lord of the steppe” or “lord of the mountain”.

Amurru and Martu are names given in Akkadian and Sumerian texts to the god of the Amorite/Amurru people, often forming part of personal names. He is sometimes called Ilu Amurru (DMAR.TU). Amurru’s wife is usually the goddess Ašratum who in northwest Semitic tradition and Hittite tradition appears as wife of the god Ēl which suggests that Amurru may indeed have been a variation of that god.

Adad/Iškur’s consort (both in early Sumerian and the much later Assyrian texts) was Shala, a goddess of grain, who is also sometimes associated with the god Dagānu. She was also called Gubarra in the earliest texts.

The fire god Gibil (named Gerra in Akkadian) is sometimes the son of Iškur and Shala. Gerra (also known as Girra) is the Babylonian and Akkadian god of fire, derived from the earlier Sumerian deity Gibil. He is the son of Anu and Antu. Nergal is a deity that was worshipped throughout ancient Mesopotamia (Akkad, Assyria, and Babylonia) Other names for him are among others Erra and Gibil.

Antu and Anat

In Akkadian mythology, Antu or Antum is a Babylonian goddess. She was the first consort of Anu, and the pair were the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki. She was a dominant feature of the Babylonian akit festival until as recently as 200 BC, her later pre-eminence possibly attributable to identification with the Greek goddess Hera. Antu was replaced as consort by Ishtar or Inanna, who may also be a daughter of Anu and Antu.

Anat is a major northwest Semitic goddess. Her attributes vary widely among different cultures and over time, and even within particular myths. She was often paired with the goddess Ashtart. She is sometimes called “Queen of Heaven”. Her iconography varies. She is usually shown carrying one or more weapons.

Anat, classically Anath (Hebrew: Ănāth; Phoenician: ʿAnōt; Ugaritic: ʿnt; Greek: Anath; Egyptian Antit, Anit, Anti, or Anant) is a major northwest Semitic goddess. Her attributes vary widely among different cultures and over time.

In Akkadian, the form one would expect Anat to take would be Antu, earlier Antum. This would also be the normal feminine form that would be taken by Anu, the Akkadian form of An ‘Sky’, the Sumerian god of heaven.

Antu appears in Akkadian texts mostly as a rather colorless consort of Anu, the mother of Ishtar in the Gilgamesh story, but is also identified with the northwest Semitic goddess ‘Anat of essentially the same name.

It is unknown whether this is an equation of two originally separate goddesses whose names happened to fall together or whether Anat’s cult spread to Mesopotamia, where she came to be worshipped as Anu’s spouse because the Mesopotamian form of her name suggested she was a counterpart to Anu.

It has also been suggested that the parallelism between the names of the Sumerian goddess, Inanna, and her West Semitic counterpart, Ishtar, continued in Canaanite tradition as Anath and Astarte, particularly in the poetry of Ugarit.

The two goddesses were invariably linked in Ugaritic scripture and are also known to have formed a triad (known from sculpture) with a third goddess who was given the name/title of Qadesh (meaning “the holy one”).

In the Ugaritic Baal Cycle, ‘Anat is a violent war-goddess, a maiden (btlt ‘nt) who is the sister and, according to a much disputed theory, perhaps also the lover of the great god Ba‘al Hadad. Ba‘al is usually called the son of Dagan and sometimes the son of El, who addresses ‘Anat as “daughter”. ‘Anat’s titles are “virgin ‘Anat” and “sister-in-law of the peoples” (or “progenitress of the peoples” or “sister-in-law, widow of the Li’mites”).

Anat first appears in Egypt in the 16th dynasty (the Hyksos period) along with other northwest Semitic deities. She was especially worshiped in her aspect of a war goddess, often paired with the goddess `Ashtart. In the Contest Between Horus and Set, these two goddesses appear as daughters of Re and are given as allies to the god Set, who had been identified with the Semitic god Hadad.

During the Hyksos period Anat had temples in the Hyksos capital of Avaris and in Beth-Shan (Israel) as well as being worshipped in Memphis. On inscriptions from Memphis of 15th to 12th centuries BCE, Anat is called “Bin-Ptah”, Daughter of Ptah.

In Akkadian, the form one would expect Anat to take would be Antu, earlier Antum. This would also be the normal feminine form that would be taken by Anu, the Akkadian form of An ‘Sky’, the Sumerian god of heaven.

Antu appears in Akkadian texts mostly as a rather colorless consort of Anu, the mother of Ishtar in the Gilgamesh story, but is also identified with the northwest Semitic goddess ‘Anat of essentially the same name.

It is unknown whether this is an equation of two originally separate goddesses whose names happened to fall together or whether Anat’s cult spread to Mesopotamia, where she came to be worshipped as Anu’s spouse because the Mesopotamian form of her name suggested she was a counterpart to Anu.

It has also been suggested that the parallelism between the names of the Sumerian goddess, Inanna, and her West Semitic counterpart, Ishtar, continued in Canaanite tradition as Anath and Astarte, particularly in the poetry of Ugarit. The two goddesses were invariably linked in Ugaritic scripture and are also known to have formed a triad (known from sculpture) with a third goddess who was given the name/title of Qadesh (meaning “the holy one”).

Anat is attested in a few Phoenician inscriptions from Cyprus. In the Cyprian inscription KAI. 42, the Greek goddess Athêna Sôteira Nikê is equated with ‘Anat, who is described in the inscription as the strength of life : l‘uzza hayim.

Anat is also presumably the goddess whom Sanchuniathon calls Athene, a daughter of El, mother unnamed, who with Hermes (that is Thoth) counselled El on the making of a sickle and a spear of iron, presumably to use against his father Uranus. However, in the Baal cycle, that rôle is assigned to Asherah / ‘Elat and ‘Anat is there called the “Virgin.”

The goddess ‘Atah worshipped at Palmyra may possibly be in origin identical with ‘Anat. ‘Atah was combined with ‘Ashtart under the name Atar into the goddess ‘Atar‘atah known to the Hellenes as Atargatis. If this origin for ‘Atah is correct, then Atargatis is effectively a combining of ‘Ashtart and ‘Anat.

It has also been proposed that (Indo-)Iranian Anahita meaning ‘immaculate’ in Avestan (a ‘not’ + ahit ‘unclean’) is a variant of ‘Anat. It is however unlikely given that the Indo-Iranian roots of the term are related to the Semitic ones and although—through conflation—Aredvi Sura Anahita (so the full name) inherited much from Ishtar-Inanna, the two are considered historically distinct.

In the Book of Zohar, ‘Anat is numbered among the holiest of angelic powers under the name of Anathiel. In Sefer Yetzirah by Rabbi Kaplan, he mentions that this angel is the ruling malach over Venus.

Neith

Anat is associated with the native Egyptian goddess Neith (a borrowing of the Demotic form Ancient Egyptian: nt, likely originally nrt “she is the terrifying one”; also spelled Nit, Net, or Neit), an early ancient Egyptian deity who was said to be the first and the prime creator.

Neith is one of the most ancient deities associated with ancient Egyptian culture. A great festival, called the Feast of Lamps, was held annually in her honor and, according to Herodotus, her devotees burned a multitude of lights in the open air all night during the celebration.

She was said to be the creator of the universe and all it contains, and she governs how it functions. She was the goddess of wisdom, weaving, the cosmos, mothers, rivers, water, childbirth, hunting, war, and fate.

She is a goddess of war and of hunting, and had as her symbol two arrows crossed over a shield. She is a far more complex goddess than is generally known, however, and of whom ancient texts only hint of her true nature. A religious silence was imposed by ancient Egyptians for secrecy, employing euphemisms and allusions and often relying on symbols alone.

In her usual representations, she is portrayed as a fierce deity, a woman wearing the Red Crown, occasionally holding or using the bow and arrow, in others a harpoon. In fact, the hieroglyphs of her name usually are followed by a determinative containing the archery elements, with the shield symbol of the name being explained as either double bows (facing one another), intersected by two arrows (usually lashed to the bows), or, by other imagery associated with her worship.

Neith was the tutelary deity of Sais (Coptic: ⲥⲁⲓ Sai from Egyptian Zau), where her cult was centered in the western Nile Delta of Lower Egypt and attested as early as the First Dynasty. Her symbol also identified the city of Sais. This symbol was displayed on top of her head in Egyptian art. In her form as a goddess of war, she was said to make the weapons of warriors and to guard their bodies when they died.

As a deity, Neith is normally shown carrying the was scepter (symbol of rule and power) and the ankh (symbol of life). She is also called such cosmic epithets as the “Cow of Heaven”, a sky-goddess similar to Nut, and as the Great Flood, Mehet-Weret, as a cow who gives birth to the sun daily. In these forms, she is associated with creation of both the primeval time and daily “re-creation”.

As protectress of the Royal House, she is represented as a uraeus, and functions with the fiery fury of the sun, In time, this led to her being considered as the personification of the primordial waters of creation. She is identified as a great mother goddess in this role as a creator. She is the personification of the primeval waters, able to give birth (create) parthenogenetically.

Among the pairs of deities usually noted by the later ancient Egyptians, she is paired with Ptah-Nun. In the same manner, her personification as the primeval waters is Mehet-Weret or Mehturt (Ancient Egyptian: mḥt-wrt) is an ancient Egyptian deity of the sky in ancient Egyptian religion, conceptualized as streaming water, related to another use of the verb sti, meaning ‘to pour’.

In some creation myths, she was identified as the mother of Ra and Apep. When she was identified as a water goddess, she was also viewed as the mother of Sobek, the crocodile. It was this association with water, i.e. the Nile, that led to her sometimes being considered the wife of Khnum, and associated with the source of the River Nile. She also was associated with the Nile Perch as well as the goddess of the triad in that cult center.

As the goddess of creation and weaving, she was said to reweave the world on her loom daily. An interior wall of the temple at Esna records an account of creation in which Neith brings forth from the primeval waters of the Nun the first land. All that she conceived in her heart comes into being, including the thirty deities. Having no known husband she has been described as “Virgin Mother Goddess”.

The Greek historian Herodotus (c. 484–425 BC) noted that the Egyptian citizens of Sais in Egypt worshipped Neith and that they identified her with Athena. The Timaeus, a dialogue written by Plato, mirrors that identification with Athena, possibly as a result of the identification of both goddesses with war and weaving.

The English Egyptologist E. A. Wallis Budge suggested that the account of the flight into Egypt as recorded in the apocryphal gospels was directly influenced by stories about Isis and Horus; Budge argued that the writers of these gospels ascribed to Mary mother of Jesus many peculiarities which, at the time of the rise of Christianity, were perceived as belonging to both Isis and Neith, for example the parthenogenesis issue shared with both Neith and Mary.

Mehet-Weret

Mehet-Weret was mentioned in the Pyramid Texts. Her name means “Great Flood”. In ancient Egyptian creation myths, she gives birth to the sun at the beginning of time, and in art she is portrayed as a cow with a sun disk between her horns. She is associated with the goddesses Neith, Hathor, and Isis, all of whom have similar characteristics, and like them she could be called the “Eye of Ra”.

Mehet-Weret is described as having a woman’s body with a cow’s head, and as such, is sometime called the Cow Goddess. A sun disk lies between the horns on her head, which connects her to the creation of the sun.

“Myth of the Heavenly Cow” by Nadine Guilhou tells the story of a separate goddess that is related to Mehet-Weret who is named Hathor. While Hathor is the bloodthirsty warrior cow, focused on the destruction of humankind, Mehet-Weret is responsible for creating some of the most basic needs for humankind: sun and water.

Hathor is seen as more troublesome than Mehet-Weret, because she creates chaos in the human world. The title of the story of the “Myth of the Heavenly Cow” is also known as “The Destruction of Mankind” because Hathor was sent to kill the rebels who acted against the sun god Ra and his plans to rearrange the cosmos.

Mehet-Weret is primarily known as being the “Celestial Cow” or “Cow Goddess” because of her physical characteristics, but she contributes to the world in more ways than that. She is also the Goddess of Water, Creation, and Rebirth; in Egyptian mythology, Mehet-Weret is one of the main components in the making and survival of life.

Mehet-Weret was responsible for raising the sun into the sky every day. She produced the light for the crops of those who worshipped her, and she also caused the annual Nile River flood that fertilized the crops with water.

In Patricia Monaghan’s The Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, she describes Mehet-Weret as the Goddess of Creation because she gives birth to the sun every day, creating life for all those who worship her.

In Egyptian mythology, Mehet-Weret was known as the Goddess of Water and Creation, but Geraldine Pinch also introduces the idea that she was a piece of the nighttime sky. She is referenced as being the river of stars known as the Milky Way, because of her physical traits of being the responsible for the annual flood of the Nile River.

Mehet-Weret is described as being the mother of Ra, the ancient Egyptian solar deity. As the Goddess of Creation, she gives birth to the sun every day and is the reason the world isn’t in the dark. In her physical description, she is described as having a sun disk between her horns; in typical motherly fashion, she protects her son Ra and keeps him close to her.

Khnum

Khnum (Ancient Egyptian: ẖnmw, also romanised Khnemu) was one of the earliest-known Egyptian deities, originally the god of the source of the Nile. Khnum was regarded as the guardian of the source of the Nile River. His significance led to early theophoric names of him, for children, such as Khnum-Khufwy “Khnum is my Protector”, the full name of Khufu, builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The worship of Khnum centered on two principal riverside sites, Elephantine and Esna, which were regarded as sacred sites. At Elephantine, he was worshipped alongside his consort Satis and their daughter, Anuket. At Esna, he was worshipped alongside Menhit, Nebtu, Neith and Heka.

In other locations, such as Herwer (Tuna el-Gebel perhaps), as the moulder and creator of the human body, he was sometimes regarded as the consort of Heket, or of Meskhenet, whose responsibility was breathing life into children at the moment of birth, as the kꜣ (“ka”).

Since the annual flooding of the Nile brought with it silt and clay, and its water brought life to its surroundings, he was thought to be the creator of the bodies of human children, which he made at a potter’s wheel, from clay, and placed in their mothers’ wombs. He later was described as having moulded the other deities, and he had the titles “Divine Potter” and “Lord of created things from himself”.

Khnum is sometimes depicted as a crocodile-headed god. Nebt-uu and Menhit are Khnum’s principal consorts and Heka is his eldest son and successor. Both Khnum and Neith are referred to as creator deities in the texts at Esna. Khnum is sometimes referred to as the “father of the fathers” and Neith as the “mother of the mothers”. They later become the parents of Ra, who is also referred to as Khnum-Re.

Khnum has also been related to the deity Min (Egyptian mnw), an ancient Egyptian god whose cult originated in the predynastic period (4th millennium BCE). Min was represented in many different forms, but was most often represented in male human form, shown with an erect penis which he holds in his left hand and an upheld right arm holding a flail. As Khem or Min, he was the god of reproduction; as Khnum, he was the creator of all things, “the maker of gods and men”.

In Egyptian art, Min was depicted as an anthropomorphic male deity with a masculine body, covered in shrouds, wearing a crown with feathers, and often holding his penis erect in his left hand and a flail (referring to his authority, or rather that of the Pharaohs) in his upward facing right hand. Around his forehead, Min wears a red ribbon that trails to the ground, claimed by some to represent sexual energy. The legs are bandaged because of his chthonic force, in the same manner as Ptah and Osiris.

Min’s wives were Iabet (Iabtet, Iab, Abet, Abtet, Ab) and Repyt (Repit). Iabet is a cleanser of the Sun god Ra, and goddess of the east. She is a counterpart of Imentet (Ament, Amentent or Imentit, meaning “She of the West”), a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religion representing the necropolises west of the Nile.

Imentet was the consort of Aqen, a god who guided Ra through parts of the underworld. Although she was never officially worshipped, she was mentioned in various hymns and passages of the Book of the Dead.

Her title “She of the West” is not just a statement related to geography, but also related as her role in mythology because, as the sun sets towards the west, it was to be accompanied by death, which was where Imentet usually reigned.

Additionally, amenti (or amentet) was thought to be where the sun set, and where the entrance to the Underworld was located, although later the term began to associate itself with graveyards and tombs as well.

Satis

Satis (Ancient Egyptian: Sṯt or Sṯı͗t, lit. “Pourer” or “Shooter”), also known by numerous related names, was an Upper Egyptian goddess who, along with Khnum and Anuket, formed part of the Elephantine Triad. By Khnum, her child was Anuket, goddess of the Nile. Together Khnum, Anuket, and Satis formed the Elephantine Triad.

She seems to have originally been paired with the Theban god Montu, but later replaced Heket as the consort of Khnum, guardian of the source of the Nile. After Khnum was conflated with Ra, she sometimes became an Eye of Ra in place of Hathor.

Satis was usually pictured as a woman in a sheath dress wearing the hedjet, the conical crown of Upper Egypt, with antelope horns. She is sometimes depicted with bow and arrows; holding an ankh or scepter; or offering jars of purifying water. She also appears in the form of an antelope. Her symbols were the arrow and the running river.

As a war goddess, Satis protected Egypt’s southern Nubian frontier by killing the enemies of the pharaoh with her sharp arrows. As a fertility goddess, she was thought to grant the wishes of those who sought love. A protective deity of Egypt’s southern border with Nubia, she came to personify the former annual flooding of the Nile and to serve as a war, hunting, and fertility goddess.

The exact pronunciation of Egyptian is often uncertain since vowels were not recorded until a very late period. In transcription, the goddess’s name also appears as Setis, Sati, Setet, Satet, Satit, and Sathit. Derived from sṯ, meaning “eject”, “shoot”, “pour”, or “throw”, her name can be variously translated as “She who Shoots” or “She who Pours” depending on which of her roles is being emphasized.

Her name was originally written with the hieroglyph for a linen garment’s shoulder knot; this was later replaced by Anuket’s animal hide pierced by an arrow. She was also known by epithets, such as “Mistress of Elephantine” and “She Who Runs Like an Arrow”, thought to refer to the flowing river current.

A goddess of the Upper Egyptians, her cult is first attested on jars beneath the Step Pyramid of Saqqara (Dynasty III). She appears in the Pyramid Texts (Dynasty VI) purifying a deceased pharaoh’s body with four jars of water from Elephantine.

Her principal center of worship was at Abu (Elephantine), an island near Aswan on the southern edge of Egypt. Her temple there occupied an early predynastic site shown by Wells to be aligned with the star Sirius.

Other centers include Swenet (Aswan proper) and Setet (Sehel Island nearby). She was particularly associated with the upper reaches of the Nile, which the Egyptians sometimes considered to have its source near Aswan.

She was sometimes conflated with Isis and Sopdet, goddess of the bright star Sirius, which the Egyptians connected with the onset of the Nile flooding. Under the interpretatio graeca, she was conflated with Hera and Juno.

Anuket

Anuket was the ancient Egyptian goddess of the cataracts of the Nile and Lower Nubia in general, worshipped especially at Elephantine near the First Cataract. Her name meant the “Clasper” or “Embracer”. She was also shown suckling the pharaoh through the New Kingdom and became a goddess of lust in later years.

In later periods, she was associated with the cowry, especially the shell, which resembled the vagina. She was usually depicted as a woman with a headdress of either reed or ostrich feathers She was usually depicted as holding a sceptre topped with an ankh, and her sacred animal was the gazelle.

In the interpretatio graeca, she was considered equivalent to Hestia (“hearth” or “fireside”), the virgin goddess of the hearth, the right ordering of domesticity, the family, the home, and the state in Ancient Greek religion, or Vesta, the virgin goddess of the hearth, home, and family in Roman religion.

She was originally the daughter of Ra, but was always related to Satet in some way. For example, both goddesses were called the “Eye of Ra”, along with Bastet, Hathor, and Sekhmet. Also, they were both related in some way to the Uraeus. She was part of a triad with the god Khnum, and the goddess Satis. She may have been the sister of the goddess Satis or she may have been a junior consort to Khnum instead.

During the New Kingdom, Anuket’s cult at Elephantine included a river procession of the goddess during the first month of Shemu. Inscriptions mention the processional festival of Khnum and Anuket during this period. Ceremonially, when the Nile started its annual flood, the Festival of Anuket began.

People threw coins, gold, jewelry, and precious gifts into the river, in thanks to the goddess for the life-giving water and returning benefits derived from the wealth provided by her fertility. The taboo held in several parts of Egypt, against eating certain fish which were considered sacred, was lifted during this time, suggesting that a fish species of the Nile was a totem for Anuket and that they were consumed as part of the ritual of her major religious festival.

Sopdet

Sopdet is the ancient Egyptian name of the star Sirius and its personification as an Egyptian goddess. Known to the Greeks as Sothis, she was conflated with Isis as a goddess and Anubis as a god. The exact pronunciation of ancient Egyptian is uncertain, as vowels were not recorded until a very late period. In modern transcription, her name usually appears as Sopdet (Ancient Egyptian: Spdt (lit. “Triangle” or “Sharp One”) after the known Greek and Latin form Sothis.

During the early period of Egyptian civilization, the heliacal rising of the bright star preceded the usual annual flooding of the Nile. It was therefore apparently used for the solar civil calendar which largely superseded the original lunar calendar in the 3rd millennium BC.

Despite the wandering nature of the Egyptian calendar, the erratic timing of the flood from year to year, and the slow procession of Sirius within the solar year, Sopdet continued to remain central to cultural depictions of the year and to celebrations of Wep Renpet (Wp Rnpt), the Egyptian New Year. She was also venerated as a goddess of the fertility brought to the soil by the flooding.

During the Old Kingdom, she was an important goddess of the annual flood and a psychopomp guiding deceased pharaohs through the Egyptian underworld. During the Middle Kingdom, she was primarily a mother and nurse and, by the Ptolemaic period, she was almost entirely subsumed into Isis.

Sopdet is the consort of Sah, the personified constellation of Orion near Sirius. Their child Venus was the hawk god Sopdu, “Lord of the East”. As the “bringer of the New Year and the Nile flood”, she was associated with Osiris from an early date and by the Ptolemaic period Sah and Sopdet almost solely appeared in forms conflated with Osiris and Isis.

She was depicted as a woman with a five-pointed star upon her head, usually with a horned hedjet similar to Satis. In the Ptolemaic and Roman period, the European notion of the “Dog Star” caused her to sometimes be represented as a large dog or as a woman riding one sidesaddle. From the Middle Kingdom, Sopdet sometimes appeared as a god who held up part of Nut (the sky or firmament) with Hathor. In Greco-Roman Egypt, the male Sopdet was conflated with the dog-headed Anubis.

Heka

Heka (also transliterated Hekau) was the deification of magic and medicine in ancient Egypt. The name is the Egyptian word for “magic”. According to Egyptian literature (Coffin text, spell 261), Heka existed “before duality had yet come into being.”

The term ḥk3 was also used to refer to the practice of magical rituals. The name Heka is identical with the Egyptian word ḥk3w “magic”. This hieroglyphic spelling includes the symbol for the word ka (kꜣ), the ancient Egyptian concept of the vital force. Other deities connected with the force of ḥk3w include Hu, Sia, and Werethekau, whose name means “she who has great magic”.

The Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts depict ḥk3w as a supernatural energy that the gods possess. The “cannibal pharaoh” must devour other gods to gain this magical power. Eventually, Heka was elevated to a deity in his own right and a cult devoted to him developed.

By the Coffin Texts, Heka is said to be created at the beginning of time by the creator Atum. Later Heka is depicted as part of the tableau of the divine solar barge as a protector of Osiris capable of blinding crocodiles. Then, during the Ptolemaic dynasty, Heka’s role was to proclaim the pharaoh’s enthronement as a son of Isis, holding him in his arms.

Heka also appears as part of a divine triad in Esna, capital of the Third Nome, where he is the son of ram-headed Khnum and a succession of goddesses. His mother was alternately said to be Nebetu’u (a form of Hathor), lion-headed Menhit, and the cow goddess Mehetweret, before settling on Neith, a war and mother goddess.

Menhit and Sekhmet

Menhit (also spelt Menchit) was originally a Nubian war goddess in Egyptian mythology. Her name depicts a warrior status, as it means (she who) massacres. Due to the aggressive attributes possessed by and hunting methods used by lionesses, most things connected to warfare in Egypt were depicted as leonine, and Menhit was no exception, being depicted as a lioness-goddess.

She also was believed to advance ahead of the Egyptian armies and cut down their enemies with fiery arrows, similar to other war deities She was less known to the people as a crown goddess and was one of the goddesses who represented the protective uraeus on royal crowns. In the 3rd Nome of Upper Egypt, particularly at Esna, Menhit was said to be the wife of Khnum and the mother of Heka.

She was also worshipped in Lower Egypt, where she was linked with the goddesses Wadjet and Neith. She became identified with another lioness goddess, Sekhmet or Sachmis, also spelled Sakhmet, Sekhet, or Sakhet, among other spellings, a warrior goddess as well as goddess of healing.

Sekhmet is depicted as a lioness, the fiercest hunter known to the Egyptians. It was said that her breath formed the desert. She was seen as the protector of the pharaohs and led them in warfare. Upon death, Sekhmet continued to protect them, bearing them to the afterlife. She is also a solar deity, sometimes called the daughter of Ra and often associated with the goddesses Hathor and Bastet. She bears the Uraeus, which associates her with Wadjet and royalty, and the solar disk.

Sekhmet’s name comes from the Ancient Egyptian word sḫm, which means “power or might”. Sekhmet’s name (Ancient Egyptian: sḫmt) is thus translated as “the (one who is) powerful or mighty”. She also was given titles such as the “(One) Before Whom Evil Trembles”, “Mistress of Dread”, “Lady of Slaughter” and “She Who Mauls”.

Astghik

In the earliest prehistoric period Astghik had been worshipped as the Armenian deity of fertility and love, later the skylight had been considered her personification, and she had been the consort of Vahagn.

In the later heathen period she became the goddess of love, maidenly beauty, and water sources and springs. She forms a trinity in the pantheon of Armenian deities. In the period of Hellenistic influence, Astghik became similar to the Greek Aphrodite and the Mesopotamian Ishtar.

Her name is the diminutive of Armenian astɫ (meaning “star”) and all star goddesses were originally called Night goddesses including the morning and evening star (Venus) which from Proto-Indo-European *h₂stḗr is cognate to Sanskrit stṛ́, Avestan star, Pahlavi star, Persian setār, Pashto stóray etc.

Her principal seat was in Ashtishat (Taron), located to the North from Muş, where her chamber was dedicated to the name of Vahagn, the personification of a sun-god, her lover or husband according to popular tales, and had been named “Vahagn’s bedroom”.

Other temples and places of worship of Astghik had been located in various towns and villages, such as the mountain of Palaty (to the South-West from Lake Van), in Artamet (12 km from Van) etc.

The unique monuments of prehistoric Armenia, vishap “dragon stones” (Arm. višap ‘serpent, dragon’, derived from Persian), spread in many provinces of historical Armenia – Gegharkunik, Aragatsotn, Javakhk, Tayk, etc., and are additional manifestations of her worship.

The Vishap is a dragon in Armenian mythology closely associated with water, similar to the Leviathan. It is usually depicted as a winged snake or with a combination of elements from different animals. The word vishap is likely an Iranian loan. The native Armenian word may have been gegh (from Proto-Indo-European wel).

According to ancient beliefs, the Vishap ascended to the sky or descended therefrom to earth, causing thunderous storms, whirlwinds, absorption of the sun (causing an eclipse). Mount Ararat was the main home of the Vishap. The volcanic character of the Araratian peak and its earthquakes may have suggested its association with the Vishap. Sometimes with its children, the Vishap used to steal children or toddlers and put a small evil spirit of their own brood in their stead.

The dragon was worshipped in a number of Eastern countries, symbolising the element of water, fertility and wealth, and later became a frightful symbol of power. According to ancient legends, the dragon fought Vahagn the Dragon Slayer.

Vahagn Vishapakagh (Vahagn the Dragon Reaper), or Vahakn, was a god of fire, thunder and war worshiped anciently in Armenia. Some time during Ancient history, he formed a “triad” with Aramazd and Anahit.

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

Vahagn fought and conquered dragons, hence his title Vishabakagh, “dragon reaper”, where dragons in Armenian lore are identified as “Vishaps”. He was invoked as a god of courage, later identified with Heracles. He was also a sun-god, rival of Baal-shamin and Mihr.

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

The neuter noun verethragna is related to Avestan verethra, ‘obstacle’ and verethragnan, ‘victorious’. In Zoroastrian Middle Persian, Verethragna became Warahrām, from which Vahram, Vehram, Bahram, Behram and other variants derive.

The word is cognate with the Vedic Sanskrit. The Vedic god Indra may correspond to Verethragna of the Zoroastrian Avesta as the Vedic vr̥tragʰná-, which is predominantly an epithet of Indra, corresponds to the noun verethragna-.

The name and, to some extent, the deity was borrowed into Armenian Vahagn and Vṙam, and has cognates in Buddhist Sogdian wšɣn w(i)šaɣn, Manichaen Parthian wryḥrm Wahrām, Kushan Bactrian Orlagno.

While the figure of Verethragna is highly complex, parallels have also been drawn between, Puranic Vishnu, Manichaean Adamas, Chaldean/Babylonian Nergal, Egyptian Horus, Hellenic Ares and Heracles.

The Vardavar festival devoted to Astghik that had once been celebrated in mid July was transformed into the Christian holiday of the Transfiguration of Jesus, and is still celebrated by the Armenians. As in pre-Christian times, on the day of this fest the people release doves and sprinkle water on each other with wishes of health and good luck.

Astghik was originally the goddess creator of heaven and earth, and the moon was being worshiped as Great Lady and Mother Deity. Later, Aramazd became creator as all sun cults rising to power began to be worshiped sun god personifications. Anahit, with her demotion to maiden, was being worshiped as the personification of the moon.

Aramazd

Aramazd was the chief and creator god in pre-Christian Armenian mythology. He was regarded as a generous god of fertility, rain, and abundance, as well as the father of the other gods, including Anahit, Mihr, and Nane.

The deity and his name were derived from the Zoroastrian deity Ahura Mazda after the Median conquest of Armenia in the 6th century BCE. Like Ahura Mazda, Aramazd was seen as the father of the other gods, rarely with a wife, though sometimes husband to Anahit or Spandaramet. Aramazd was the Parthian form of Ahura Mazda.

There was some disagreement in scholarship as to the relationship between Aramazd, Amanor, and Vanatur, but the evidence most strongly indicates that Vanatur (“Lord of the Van”) was a title for the chief deity (be it Ḫaldi or Ahura Mazda/Aramazd, though recorded uses are only as a title for Aramazd), and that Amanor was both a common noun referring the new year and a title for the deity whose celebration was held on the new year (Vanatur, whether Ḫaldi or Aramazd).

Aramazd was readily identified with Zeus through interpretatio Graeca, the two often sharing specific titles regarding greatness, bravery, or strength. Zeus is the Greek continuation of *Di̯ēus, the name of the Proto-Indo-European god of the daytime sky, also called *Dyeus ph2tēr (“Sky Father”).

The god is known under this name in the Rigveda (Vedic Sanskrit Dyaus/Dyaus Pita), Latin (compare Jupiter, from Iuppiter, deriving from the Proto-Indo-European vocative *dyeu-ph2tēr), deriving from the root *dyeu- (“to shine”, and in its many derivatives, “sky, heaven, god”).

Ahura Mazda

Ahura Mazda, also known as Ohrmazd, Ahuramazda, Hourmazd, Hormazd, and Hurmuz) is the creator and highest deity of Zoroastrianism. Ahura Mazda is the first and most frequently invoked spirit in the Yasna.

Even though it is speculated that Ahura Mazda was a spirit in the Indo-Iranian religion, he had not yet been given the title of “uncreated spirit”. This title was given by Zoroaster, who proclaimed Ahura Mazda as the uncreated spirit, wholly wise, benevolent and good, as well as the creator and upholder of Asha.

Mazda is generally taken to be the proper name of the spirit, and like its Vedic cognate medhā́, it means “intelligence” or “wisdom”. The literal meaning of the word Ahura is “lord”. Both the Avestan and Sanskrit words reflect Proto-Indo-Iranian *mazdʰáH, from Proto-Indo-European *mn̥sdʰh₁éh₂, literally meaning “placing (*dʰeh₁) one’s mind (*mn̥-s)”, hence “wise”.

Ahura Mazda first appeared in the Achaemenid period (c. 550 – 330 BCE) under Darius I’s Behistun Inscription. Until Artaxerxes II of Persia (405–04 to 359–58 BCE), Ahura Mazda was worshipped and invoked alone in all extant royal inscriptions. With Artaxerxes II, Ahura Mazda was invoked in a triad, with Mithra and Anahita.

In the Achaemenid period, there are no known representations of Ahura Mazda at the royal court other than the custom for every emperor to have an empty chariot drawn by white horses, to invite Ahura Mazda to accompany the Persian army on battles.

Some scholars believe that Ahura Mazda originates from *vouruna-mitra, or Vedic Varuna (and Mitra). According to William W Malandra both Varuna (in Vedic period) and Ahura Mazda (in old Iranian religion) represented same Indo-Iranian concept of a supreme “wise, all-knowing lord”.

In Manichaeism, the name Ohrmazd Bay (“god Ahura Mazda”) was used for the primal figure Nāšā Qaḏmāyā, the “original man” and emanation of the Father of Greatness (in Manicheism called Zurvan) through whom after he sacrificed himself to defend the world of light was consumed by the forces of darkness.

Although Ormuzd is freed from the world of darkness his “sons”, often called his garments or weapons, remain. His sons, later known as the World Soul after a series of events will for the most part escape from matter and return again to the world of light where they came from. Manicheans often identified many of Mani’s cosmological figures with Zoroastrian ones. This may be in part because Mani was born in the greatly Zoroastrian Parthian Empire.

In Sogdian Buddhism, Xwrmztʼ (Sogdian was written without a consistent representation of vowels) was the name used in place of Ahura Mazda. Via contacts with Turkic peoples like the Uyghurs, this Sogdian name came to the Mongols, who still name this deity Qormusta Tengri (Also Qormusta or Qormusda) is now a popular enough deity to appear in many contexts that are not explicitly Buddhist.

The pre-Christian Armenians had Aramazd as an important deity in their pantheon of gods. He is thought to be a syncretic deity, a combination of the autochthonous Armenian figures Aram and his son Ara and the Iranian Ahura Mazda. In modern-day Armenia, Aramazd is a male first name.

Varuna

Varuna is a Vedic deity associated initially with the sky, later also with the seas as well as Ṛta (justice) and Satya (truth). He is found in the oldest layer of Vedic literature of Hinduism, such as hymn 7.86 of the Rigveda. He is also mentioned in the Tamil grammar work Tolkāppiyam, as the god of sea and rain.

In the Hindu Puranas, Varuna is the god of oceans, his vehicle is a Makara (part fish, part land creature) and his weapon is a Pasha (noose, rope loop). He is the guardian deity of the western direction. In some texts, he is the father of the Vedic sage Vasishtha.

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

Georges Dumézil (1934) made a cautious case for the identity of Varuna and the Greek god Ouranos at the earliest Indo-European cultural level. The etymological identification of the name Ouranos with the Sanskrit Varuṇa is based in the derivation of both names from the PIE root *ŭer with a sense of “binding” – the Indic king-god Varuṇa binds the wicked, the Greek king-god Ouranos binds the Cyclopes.

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

Mitra

Mitra (Proto-Indo-Iranian: *mitrás) is the name of an Indo-Iranian divinity from which the names and some characteristics of Rigvedic Mitrá and Avestan Mithra derive. Both Vedic Mitra and Avestan Mithra derive from an Indo-Iranian common noun *mitra-, generally reconstructed to have meant “covenant, treaty, agreement, promise.” This meaning is preserved in Avestan miθra “covenant.” In Sanskrit and modern Indo-Aryan languages, mitra means “friend,” one of the aspects of bonding and alliance.

The Indo-Iranian reconstruction is attributed to Christian Bartholomae, and was subsequently refined by A. Meillet (1907), who suggested derivation from the Proto-Indo-European root *mey- “to exchange.” A suggested alternative derivation was *meh “to measure” (Gray 1929). Pokorny (IEW 1959) refined Meillet’s *mei as “to bind.”

Combining the root *mei with the “tool suffix” -tra- “that which [causes] …” (also found in man-tra-, “that which causes to think”), then literally means “that which binds,” and thus “covenant, treaty, agreement, promise, oath” etc. Pokorny’s interpretation also supports “to fasten, strengthen”, which may be found in Latin moenia “city wall, fortification”, and in an antonymic form, Old English (ge)maere “border, boundary-post”.

The names (and occasionally also some characteristics) of these two older figures were subsequently also adopted for other figures: In Middle Iranian, the Avestan theonym evolved (among other Middle Iranian forms) into Sogdian Miši, Middle Persian and Parthian Mihr, and Bactrian Miuro. Aside from Avestan Mithra, these derivative names were also used for: Greco-Bactrian Mithro, Miiro, Mioro and Miuro; by the Manichaeans for one of their own deities.

A vrddhi-derived form of Sanskrit mitra gives Maitreya, the name of a bodhisattva in Buddhist tradition. Additionally, the Manichaeans also adopted ‘Maitreya’ as the name of their “first messenger”.

In Hellenistic-era Asia Minor, Avestan Mithra was conflated with various local and Greek figures leading to several different variants of Apollo-Helios-Mithras-Hermes-Stilbon. Via Greek and some Anatolian intermediate, the Avestan theonym also gave rise to Latin Mithras, the principal figure of the first century Roman Mysteries of Mithras (also known as ‘Mithraism’).

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

Vedic Mitra is a prominent deity of the Rigveda distinguished by a relationship to Varuna, the protector of rta. Together with Varuna, he counted among the Adityas, a group of solar deities, also in later Vedic texts. Vedic Mitra is the patron divinity of honesty, friendship, contracts and meetings.

In Indic culture, Mitra (Sanskrit Mitrá) is a divinity whose function changed with time. In the Mitanni inscription, Mitra is invoked as one of the protectors of treaties. In the Rigveda, Mitra appears primarily in the dvandva compound Mitra-Varuna, which has essentially the same attributes as Varuna alone, e.g. as the principal guardian of ṛtá “Truth, Order”, breaches of which are punished.

In the late Vedic texts and the Brahmanas, Mitra is increasingly associated with the light of dawn and the morning sun (while Varuna becomes associated with the evening, and ultimately the night). In the post-Vedic texts – in which Mitra practically disappears – Mitra evolved into the patron divinity of friendship, and because he is “friend”, abhors all violence, even when sacred.

In the Rigveda, the oldest of the Vedic texts, Mitra is mostly indistinguishable from Varuna, together with whom Mitra forms a dvandva pair Mitra-Varuna, and in which Mitra-Varuna has essentially the same characteristics as Varuna alone.

Varuna is not only the greater of the two, but also – according to RV 2.12 – the second-greatest of the RigVedic gods after Indra. Mitra is addressed independently in one hymn only RV 3.59, where he has hardly any traits that distinguish him from Varuna, and owing to the scantiness of the information supplied in that hymn his separate character appears somewhat indefinite.

Mitra as an independent personage is insignificant. … One theory holds that the dvandvic union possibly represents an apotropaic application [of “friend”] to the otherwise frightening and dangerous Varuna.”

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Goddess Worship: Goddess Worship in the Ancient near East

Hittite Kinship A~ID Marriage

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Ancient site older than Göbeklitepe may have been unearthed in Turkey

Mardin

The territory of Mardin and Karaca Dağ was known as Izalla in the Bronze Age and originally part of a Hurrian (Armenian) kingdom. The Hurrians were a people of the Bronze Age Near East. They spoke a Hurro-Urartian language called Hurrian and lived in Anatolia and Northern Mesopotamia. The Elamites gained control around 2230 BCE and were followed by the Babylonians, Hittites, Assyrians, Romans and Byzantines.

The city and its surrounds were absorbed into Assyria proper during the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365-1020 BC), and then again during the Neo Assyrian Empire (911-605 BC). Mardin comes from the Syriac word and means “fortresses”.

During the medieval period, the town (which retained significant Assyrian and Armenian populations) became the centre for episcopal sees of Armenian Apostolic, Armenian Catholic, Church of the East, Syriac Catholic, churches, as well as a stronghold of the Syriac Orthodox Church, whose patriarchal see was headquartered in the nearby Saffron Monastery from 1034 to 1924.

During World War I Mardin was one of the sites affected by the Armenian Genocide. During the armed conflicts and plights caused by the war, many were sent to the Ras al-‘Ayn Camps, though some managed to escape to the Sinjar Mountain with help from local Chechens. Kurds and Arabs of Mardin typically refer to these events as “fırman” (government order), while Syriacs call it “seyfo” (sword).

After the Armistice of Mudros Mardin was one of the Turkish cities that was not occupied by the troops of the Allied Powers. In 1923, with the founding of the Republic of Turkey, Mardin was made the administrative capital of a province named after it. Many Assyrian survivors of the violence later on left Mardin for nearby Qamishli in the 1940s after their conscription in the Turkish military became compulsory.

The local Assyrians/Syriacs, while very reduced due to the massacres of the Assyrian Genocide and conflicts between the Kurds and Turks, hold on to two of the oldest monasteries in the world, Dayro d-Mor Hananyo (Turkish Deyrülzafaran, English Saffron Monastery) and Deyrulumur Monastery. The Christian community is concentrated on the Tur Abdin plateau and in the town of Midyat, with a smaller community in the provincial capital.

Hurri-Urartians

Urkesh or Urkish (modern Tell Mozan) is a tell, or settlement mound, located in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains in Al-Hasakah Governorate, northeastern Syria. It was founded during the fourth millennium BC possibly by the Hurrians on a site which appears to have been inhabited previously for a few centuries.

Urkesh was an ally of the Akkadian Empire through what is believed to have been a dynastic marriage tradition. Tar’am-Agade the daughter of the Akkadian king, Naram-Sin, is believed to have been married to the king of Urkesh. During the early second millennium BC the city passed into the hands of the rulers of Mari, a city a few hundred miles to the south.

The king of Urkesh became a vassal (and apparently an appointed puppet) of Mari. The people of Urkesh evidently resented this, as the royal archives at Mari provide evidence of their strong resistance; in one letter, the king of Mari tells his Urkesh counterpart that “I did not know that the sons of your city hate you on my account. But you are mine, even if the city of Urkesh is not.”

In the middle of the millennium, Tell Mozan was the location of a Mitanni religious site. The city appears to have been largely abandoned circa 1350 BC, although the reason for this is unknown to archaeologists at this time.

The largest and most influential Hurrian nation was the kingdom of Mitanni. By the Early Iron Age, the Hurrians had been assimilated with other peoples. Their remnants were subdued by a related people that formed the state of Urartu. The present-day Armenians are an amalgam of the Indo-European groups with the Hurrians and Urartians.

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

The kingdom rose to power in the mid-9th century BC, but went into gradual decline and was eventually conquered by the Iranian Medes in the early 6th century BC. The geopolitical region would re-emerge as Armenia shortly after. Being heirs to the Urartian realm, the earliest identifiable ancestors of the Armenians are the peoples of Urartu.

In the 6th century BC, with the emergence of Armenia in the region, the name of the region was simultaneously referred to as variations of Armenia and Urartu. In the trilingual Behistun Inscription, carved in 521 or 520 BC by the order of Darius I, the country referred to as Urartu in Akkadian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in the Elamite language.

Armenian language

The most widely accepted proposal about the location of the Proto-Indo-European homeland is the steppe hypothesis, which puts the PIE homeland in the Pontic–Caspian steppe around 4000 BC. Another possibility is the Armenian hypothesis which situates the homeland south of the Caucasus.

The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European homeland suggests that Proto-Indo-European was spoken during the 5th–4th millennia BC in “eastern Anatolia, the southern Caucasus, and northern Mesopotamia” – the Armenian Highland.

Armenian is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages. It is of interest to linguists for its distinctive phonological developments within that family. Armenian exhibits more satemization than centumization, although it is not classified as belonging to either of these subgroups.

Some linguists tentatively conclude that Armenian, Greek (and Phrygian) and Indo-Iranian were dialectally close to each other; within this hypothetical dialect group, Proto-Armenian was situated between Proto-Greek (centum subgroup) and Proto-Indo-Iranian (satem subgroup).

Ronald I. Kim has noted unique morphological developments connecting Armenian to Balto-Slavic languages. While Armenian constitutes the sole member of the Armenian branch of the Indo-European family, Aram Kossian has suggested that the hypothetical Mushki language may have been a (now extinct) Armenic language.

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

There are words used in Armenian that are generally believed to have been borrowed from Anatolian languages, particularly from Luwian, although some researchers have identified possible Hittite loanwords as well.

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

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

Graeco-(Armeno)-Aryan

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

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

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

Graeco-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Indo-European homeland to be located in the Armenian Highlands, the “Armenian hypothesis” that suggests that Proto-Indo-European was spoken during the 5th–4th millennia BC in “eastern Anatolia, the southern Caucasus, and northern Mesopotamia”.

Armenian Highland

Recent DNA-research has led to renewed suggestions of a Caucasian homeland for a ‘proto-proto-Indo-European’. It also lends support to the Indo-Hittite hypothesis, according to which both proto-Anatolian and proto-Indo-European split-off from a common mother language “no later than the 4th millennium BCE.”

Haak et al. (2015) states that “the Armenian plateau hypothesis gains in plausibility” since the Yamnaya partly descended from a Near Eastern population, which resembles present-day Armenians. Yet, they also state that “the question of what languages were spoken by the ‘Eastern European hunter-gatherers’ and the southern, Armenian-like, ancestral population remains open.”

David Reich, in his 2018 publication Who We Are and How We Got Here, states that “the most likely location of the population that first spoke an Indo-European language was south of the Caucasus Mountains, perhaps in present-day Iran or Armenia, because ancient DNA from people who lived there matches what we would expect for a source population both for the Yamnaya and for ancient Anatolians.”

Nevertheless, Reich also states that some, if not most, of the Indo-European languages were spread by the Yamnaya people. According to Kroonen et al. (2018), Damgaard et al. (2018) “show no indication of a large-scale intrusion of a steppe population.”

They further note that the earliest attestation of Anatolian names, in the Armi state, must be dated to 3000-2400 BCE, contemporaneous with the Yamnaya culture, concluding that “a scenario in which the Anatolian Indo-European language was linguistically derived from Indo-European speakers originating in this culture can be rejected.”

They further note that this lends support to the Indo-Hittite hypothesis, according to which both proto-Anatolian and proto-Indo-European split-off from a common mother language “no later than the 4th millennium BCE.”

Wang et al. (2018) note that the Caucasus served as a corridor for gene flow between the steppe and cultures south of the Caucasus during the Eneolithic and the Bronze Age, stating that this “opens up the possibility of a homeland of PIE south of the Caucasus.”

Kristian Kristiansen, in an interview with Der Spiegel in may 2018, stated that the Yamnaya culture may have had a predecessor at the Caucasus, where “proto-proto-Indo-European” was spoken.

Mushki

The Mushki (sometimes transliterated as Muški) were an Iron Age people of Anatolia who appear in sources from Assyria but not from the Hittites. Earlier Assyrian sources clearly identify the Western Mushki with the Phrygians, but later Greek sources then distinguish between the Phrygians and the Moschoi.

Two different groups are called Muški in Assyrian sources (Diakonoff 1984:115), one from the 12th to the 9th centuries BCE near the confluence of the Arsanias and the Euphrates (“Eastern Mushki”) and the other from the 8th to the 7th centuries BCE in Cappadocia and Cilicia (“Western Mushki”).

Identification of the Eastern Mushki with the Western Mushki is uncertain, but it is possible that at least some of the Eastern Mushki migrated to Cilicia in the 10th to the 8th centuries BCE. Although almost nothing is known about what language the Eastern or Western Mushki spoke, they have been variously identified as being speakers of a Phrygian, Armenian, Anatolian, or Georgian language.

The Eastern Mushki appear to have moved into Hatti in the 12th century BC, completing the downfall of the collapsing Hittite state (already largely annexed by Assyria), along with various Sea Peoples. They established themselves in a post-Hittite kingdom in Cappadocia.

Together with the Urumeans and Kaskas (Apishlu), they attempted to invade the Middle Assyrian Empire’s Anatolian provinces of Alzi and Puruhuzzi in about 1160 BC, but they were pushed back and subjugated by Ashur-Dan I. In 1115 BC, the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser I conquered as far as Milid.

Whether they moved into the core Hittite areas from the east or west has been a matter of some discussion by historians. Some speculate that they may have originally occupied a territory in the area of Armenia; alternatively, ancient accounts suggest that they first arrived from a homeland in the west (as part of the Phrygian migration), from the region of Troy, or even from as far as Macedonia, as the Bryges.

According to Igor Diakonoff, the Mushki were a Thraco-Phrygian group who carried their Proto-Armenian language from the Balkans across Asia Minor, mixing with Hurrians (and Urartians) and Luwians along the way. However, despite Diakonoff’s claims, the connection between the Mushki and Armenian languages is unknown and some modern scholars have rejected a direct linguistic relationship if the Mushki were Thracians or Phrygians.

Additionally, genetic research does not support significant admixture into the Armenian nation after 1200 BCE, making the Mushki, if they indeed migrated from a Balkan or western Anatolian homeland during or after the Bronze Age Collapse, unlikely candidates for the Proto-Armenians. However, as others have placed (at least the Eastern) Mushki homeland in the Armenian Highlands and South Caucasus region, it is possible that at least some of the Mushki were Armenian-speakers or speakers of a closely related language.

It’s been speculated that the Mushki were connected to the spread of the so-called Transcaucasian ceramic ware, which appeared as far west as modern Elazig, Turkey in the late second millennium BCE. This ceramic ware is believed to have been developed in the South Caucasus region, possibly by the Trialeti-Vanadzor culture originally, which suggests an eastern homeland for the Mushki.

Trialeti culture

The Trialeti culture, also known as the Trialeti-Vanadzor [Kirovakan] culture, is named after the Trialeti region of Georgia and the city of Vanadzor, Armenia. It is attributed to the late 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC. This Early Kurgan period, known as Martkopi-Bedeni, has been interpreted as a transitional phase and the first stage of the Middle Bronze Age. Some scholars speculate that it was an Indo-European culture.

The flourishing stage of the Trialeti culture began near the end of the third millennium BC. According to recent dating, the transition to the Early Kurgan period was around the mid of the 3rd millennium — somewhat between the 27th to 24th century BC.

Trialeti culture emerged in the areas of the preceding Kura-Araxes culture. It is speculated that it was an Indo-European culture. The Trialeti culture shows ties with the highly developed cultures of the ancient world, particularly with the Aegean, but also with cultures to the south and east.

Trialeti-Vanadzor painted monochrome and polychrome pottery is very similar to that in the other areas of the Near East. In particular, similar ceramics are known as Urmia ware (named after Lake Urmia in Iran). Also, similar pottery was produced by the Uzarlik culture, and the Karmirberd-Sevan culture.

Martqopi kurgans are somewhat similar, and are contemporary to the earliest among the Trialeti kurgans. Together, they represent the early stage of the Early Kurgan culture of Central Transcaucasia. This Early Kurgan period, known as Martkopi-Bedeni, has been interpreted as a transitional phase and the first stage of the Middle Bronze Age.

This form of burial in a tumulus or “kurgan”, along with wheeled vehicles, is the same as that of the Kurgan culture which has been associated with the speakers of Proto-Indo-European. In fact, the black burnished pottery of especially early Trialeti kurgans is similar to Kura-Araxes pottery.

The Trialeti culture was known for its particular form of burial. The elite were interred in large, very rich burials under earth and stone mounds, which sometimes contained four-wheeled carts. Also there were many gold objects found in the graves. These gold objects were similar to those found in Iran and Iraq.

This form of burial in a tumulus or “kurgan”, along with wheeled vehicles, is the same as that of the Kurgan culture which has been associated with the speakers of Proto-Indo-European. In fact, the black burnished pottery of especially early Trialeti kurgans is similar to Kura-Araxes pottery.

In a historical context, their impressive accumulation of wealth in burial kurgans, like that of other associated and nearby cultures with similar burial practices, is particularly noteworthy. This practice was probably a result of influence from the older civilizations to the south in the Fertile Crescent.

The Trialeti pottery style is believed to have developed into the Late Bronze Age Transcaucasian ceramic ware found throughout much of what is now eastern Turkey. This pottery has been connected to the expansion of the Mushki.

Shaft Grave

Geographical interconnectedness and links with other areas of the Near East are seen in many aspects of the Trialeti culture. For example, a cauldron found in Trialeti is nearly identical to the one from Shaft Grave 4 of Mycenae in Greece.

This burial complex, known as Grave Circle A, was initially constructed outside the walls of Mycenae and ultimately enclosed in the acropolis when the fortification was extended during the 13th century BC.

Grave Circle A, a 16th-century BC royal cemetery situated to the south of the Lion Gate, the main entrance of the Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae in southern Greece, and Grave Circle B, the latter found outside the walls of Mycenae, represents one of the significant characteristics of the early phase of the Mycenaean civilization.

Catacomb culture

The Catacomb culture (c. 2800–2200 BC) is a group of related cultures in the early Bronze Age occupying essentially what is present-day eastern Ukraine and southern Russia. The culture applied cord-imprinted decorations to its pottery and shows a profuse use of the polished battle axe, providing a link to the West. Parallels with the Afanasevo culture, including provoked cranial deformations, provide a link to the East.

It was preceded by the Yamnaya culture. The Catacomb culture in the Pontic steppe was succeeded in the west by the Multi-cordoned ware culture from c. 22nd century BC, and the Srubna culture from c. the 17th century BC.

The name Catacomb culture comes from its burial practices. These are similar to those of the Yamnaya culture, but with a hollowed-out space off the main shaft, creating the “catacomb”. Animal remains were incorporated into a small minority of graves.

In certain graves there was the distinctive practice of what amounts to modelling a clay mask over the deceased’s face, creating an obvious if not necessarily correct association to the famous gold funeral mask of Agamemnon, a gold funeral mask discovered at the ancient Greek site of Mycenae.

The origin of the Catacomb culture is disputed. Jan Lichardus gives three possibilities: a local development departing from the previous Yamnaya Culture only, a migration from Central Europe, or an oriental origin.

The culture is first to introduce corded pottery decorations into the steppes and shows a profuse use of the polished battle axe, providing a link to the West. Parallels with the Afanasevo culture, including provoked cranial deformations, provide a link to the East.

The language of the Catacomb culture must naturally remain unknown. Within the context of the Kurgan hypothesis expounded by Marija Gimbutas, an Indo-European component is speculated about, particularly in the later stages. Placing the ancestors of the Greek, Albanian and Armenian (perhaps Paleo-Balkan) dialects here is tempting, as it would neatly explain certain shared features.

More recently, the Ukrainian archaeologist V. Kulbaka has argued that the Late Yamnaya cultures of c. 3200–2800 BC might represent the Balkan-Indo-European-“Iranian” ancestors, and the Catacomb culture (to c. 2500 BC) that of the then still unified Indo-Iranians. However, according to recent glottochronological computations, these splits occurred much earlier.

Grigoryev’s (1998) version of the Armenian hypothesis connects Catacomb culture with Indo-Aryans, because catacomb burial ritual had roots in South-Western Turkmenistan from the early 4th millennium (Parkhai cemetery).[citation needed] The same opinion is supported by Leo Klejn in his various publications.

Kura-Araxes culture

This stage of the Early Bronze Age seems to represent the final stage of the Kura-Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture, a civilization that existed from about 4000 BC until about 2000 BC. The earliest Shulaveri-Shomu culture existed in the area from 6000 to 4000 BC. The Kura-Araxes culture followed after.

The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from about 4000 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end; in some locations it may have disappeared as early as 2600 or 2700 BC. The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; it spread northward in Caucasus by 3000 BC.

Some scholars have suggested that the earliest manifestation of the Kura-Araxes phenomenon should be dated at least to the last quarter of the 5th millennium BC. This is based on the recent data from Ovçular Tepesi, a Late Chalcolithic settlement located in Nakhchivan by the Arpaçay river.

Altogether, the early trans-Caucasian culture enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km, and mostly encompassed, on modern-day territories, the Southern Caucasus (except western Georgia), northwestern Iran, the northeastern Caucasus, eastern Turkey, and as far as Syria.

The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Kura–Araxes culture is sometimes known as Shengavitian, Karaz (Erzurum), Pulur, and Yanik Tepe (Iranian Azerbaijan, near Lake Urmia) cultures. It gave rise to the later Khirbet Kerak-ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.

Nowadays scholars consider the Kartli area, as well as the Kakheti area (in the river Sioni region) as key to forming the earliest phase of the Kura–Araxes culture. To a large extent, this appears as an indigenous culture of Caucasus that was formed over a long period, and at the same time incorporating foreign influences.

Rather quickly, elements of Kura–Araxes culture started to proceed westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into the area of Lake Van, and below the Urmia basin in Iran, such as to Godin Tepe. Finally, it proceeded into the present-day Syria (Amuq valley), and as far as Palestine.

In the 3rd millennium B.C., one particular group of mounds of the Kura–Araxes culture is remarkable for their wealth. This was the final stage of culture’s development. These burial mounds are known as the Martqopi (or Martkopi) period mounds.

Inhumation practices are mixed. Flat graves are found but so are substantial kurgan burials, the latter of which may be surrounded by cromlechs. This points to a heterogeneous ethno-linguistic population. Here one can come to the conclusion that the Kura–Araxes culture developed gradually through a synthesis of several cultural traditions, including the ancient cultures of the Caucasus and nearby territories.

Shulaveri-Shomu culture

Shulaveri-Shomu culture is a Late Neolithic/Eneolithic culture that existed on the territory of present-day Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, as well as small parts of northern Iran. The culture is dated to mid-6th or early-5th millennia BC and is thought to be one of the earliest known Neolithic cultures.

Shulaveri culture predates the Kura-Araxes culture which flourished in this area around 4000–2200 BC. Later on, in the middle Bronze Age period (c. 3000–1500 BC), the Trialeti culture emerged. Sioni culture of Eastern Georgia possibly represents a transition from the Shulaveri to the Kura-Arax cultural complex.

The earliest Shulaveri-Shomu culture existed in the area from 6000 to 4000 BC. The Kura-Araxes culture followed after. The flourishing stage of the Trialeti culture began near the end of the third millennium BC.

Many of the characteristic traits of the Shulaverian material culture (circular mudbrick architecture, pottery decorated by plastic design, anthropomorphic female figurines, obsidian industry with an emphasis on production of long prismatic blades) are believed to have their origin in the Near Eastern Neolithic (Hassuna, Halaf).

The Leyla-Tepe culture

The Leyla-Tepe culture of ancient Caucasian Albania belongs to the Chalcolithic era. It got its name from the site in the Agdam district of modern day Azerbaijan. Its settlements were distributed on the southern slopes of Central Caucasus, from 4350 until 4000 B.C.

Among the sites associated with this culture, the Soyugbulag kurgans or barrows are of special importance. It is believed that this was the result of the migration of near-eastern tribes from Mesopotamia to South Caucasus, especially to Azerbaijan.

The earliest kurgans date to the 4th millennium BC in the Caucasus, and researchers associate these with the Indo-Europeans. Kurgans were built in the Eneolithic, Bronze, Iron, Antiquity and Middle Ages, with ancient traditions still active in Southern Siberia and Central Asia.

Discovery of Soyugbulaq in 2004 and subsequent excavations provided substantial proof that the practice of kurgan burial was well established in the South Caucasus during the late Eneolithic. The roots of the Leylatepe Archaeological Culture to which the Soyugbulaq kurgans belong to, stemmed from the Ubaid culture of Central Asia.

In 2006, a French–Azerbaijani team discovered nine kurgans at the cemetery of Soyuqbulaq. They were dated to the beginning of the fourth millennium BC, which makes it the oldest kurgan cemetery in Transcaucasia. Similar kurgans have been found at Kavtiskhevi, Kaspi Municipality, in central Georgia.

Several other archaeological sites seem to belong to the same ancient cultural tradition as Soyuq Bulaq. They include Berikldeebi, Kavtiskhevi, Leilatepe, Boyuk Kesik, and Poylu, Agstafa, and are characterized by pottery assemblages “mainly or totally in the North Mesopotamian tradition”.

The Leylatepe Culture tribes migrated to the north in the mid-fourth millennium, B.C. and played an important part in the rise of the Maikop Culture of the North Caucasus. A number of Maikop Culture kurgans and Soyugbulaq kurgans display the same northwest to southeast grave alignment.

More than that, Soyugbulaq kurgans yielded pottery forms identical to those recovered from the Maikop kurgans. These are the major factors attesting to the existence of a genetic link between the two cultures.

The excavation of these kurgans, located in Kaspi Municipality, in central Georgia, demonstrated an unexpectedly early date of such structures on the territory of Azerbaijan. They were dated to the beginning of the 4th millennium BC.

The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region (Arslantepe, Coruchu-tepe, Tepechik, etc.).

The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, closely associated with subsequent civilizations found on the Armenian Highlands. This is evident with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets, which closely resemble Armenian tonirs.

In 2012, the important site of Galayeri, belonging to the Leyla-Tepe archaeological culture, was investigated. It is located in the Qabala District of modern day Azerbaijan. Galayeri is closely connected to early civilizations of Near East.

Maykop culture

It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture. An expedition to Syria by the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the similarity of the Maykop and Leyla-Tepe artifacts with those found recently while excavating the ancient city of Tel Khazneh I, from the 4th millennium BC.

The Maykop culture (3700 BC–3000 BC) was a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the western Caucasus region. It extends along the area from the Taman Peninsula at the Kerch Strait to near the modern border of Dagestan and southwards to the Kura River. The culture takes its name from a royal burial found in Maykop kurgan in the Kuban River valley.

In the south, the Maykop culture bordered the approximately contemporaneous Kura-Araxes culture (3500—2200 BC), which extends into eastern Anatolia and apparently influenced it. To the north is the Yamna culture, including the Novotitorovka culture (3300—2700), which it overlaps in territorial extent.

The culture has been described as, at the very least, a “kurganized” local culture with strong ethnic and linguistic links to the descendants of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. It has been linked to the Lower Mikhaylovka group and Kemi Oba culture, and more distantly, to the Globular Amphora and Corded Ware cultures, if only in an economic sense.

Maykop inhumation practices were characteristically Indo-European, typically in a pit, sometimes stone-lined, topped with a kurgan (or tumulus). Stone cairns replace kurgans in later interments. The Maykop kurgan was extremely rich in gold and silver artifacts; unusual for the time.

In the early 20th century, researchers established the existence of a local Maykop animal style in the artifacts found. This style was seen as the prototype for animal styles of later archaeological cultures: the Maykop animal style is more than a thousand years older than the Scythian, Sarmatian and Celtic animal styles.

Yamnaya culture

The Yamnaya culture, also known as the Yamnaya Horizon, Yamna culture, Pit Grave culture or Ochre Grave culture, was a late Copper Age to early Bronze Age archaeological culture of the region between the Southern Bug, Dniester, and Ural rivers (the Pontic steppe), dating to 3300–2600 BC.

Its name derives from its characteristic burial traditionis that is ‘related to pits (yama)’, and these people used to bury their dead in tumuli (kurgans) containing simple pit chambers.

The people of the Yamnaya culture were likely the result of a genetic admixture between the descendants of Eastern European hunter-gatherers[a] and people related to hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus. Their material culture was very similar to the Afanasevo culture.

They are also closely connected to Final Neolithic cultures, which later spread throughout Europe and Central Asia, especially the Corded Ware people and the Bell Beaker culture, as well as the peoples of the Sintashta, Andronovo, and Srubnaya cultures. Back migration from Corded Ware also contributed to Sintashta and Andronovo.

In these groups, several aspects of the Yamnaya culture are present. Genetic studies have also indicated that these populations derived large parts of their ancestry from the steppes. The Yamnaya culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans, and is the strongest candidate for the urheimat (original homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language.

Subartu

The land of Subartu (Akkadian Šubartum/Subartum/ina Šú-ba-ri, Assyrian mât Šubarri) or Subar (Sumerian Su-bir4/Subar/Šubur) is mentioned in Bronze Age literature. The name also appears as Subari in the Amarna letters, and, in the form Šbr, in Ugarit. Some scholars have linked a district in the area, Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia.

Subartu was apparently a kingdom in Upper Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris and later it referred to a region of Mesopotamia. From the point of view of the Akkadian Empire, Subartu marked the northern geographical horizon, just as Amurru, Elam and Sumer marked “west”, “east” and “south”, respectively.

Most scholars suggest that Subartu is an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris and westward, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east and/or north. Its precise location has not been identified.

However, the name Shupria was used to describe an area corresponding to modern eastern Anatolia and the Armenian highlands, and the Shuprians appear to have been a component of the ethnogenesis of the Armenian people.

The Sumerian mythological epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta (Armenia) lists the countries where the “languages are confused” as Subartu, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (Akkad), and the Martu land (the Amorites). Similarly, the earliest references to the “four quarters” by the kings of Akkad name Subartu as one of these quarters around Akkad, along with Martu, Elam, and Sumer.

Eannatum of Lagash was said to have smitten Subartu or Shubur, and it was listed as a province of the empire of Lugal-Anne-Mundu; in a later era Sargon of Akkad campaigned against Subar, and his grandson Naram-Sin listed Subar along with Armani, which has been identified with Aleppo, among the lands under his control. Ishbi-Erra of Isin and Hammurabi also claimed victories over Subar.

The name Subartu is often regarded as the source of, or even synonymous with, the later kingdom of Shupria (Shubria), which is mentioned as in records from the 13th millennium BC. The Subartians, Hurri-Mitanni, Hayasa-Azzi, Nairi and other populations of the region, fell under Urartian rule in the 9th century BC. Their descendants contributed to the ethnogenesis of the Armenians.

Medieval Islamic scholars, relying on ancient sources, claimed that the people of Subar (Subartu or Shupria) and the Armani (Armenians) had shared ancestry. These scholars include the 17th century Ottoman traveller and historian Evliya Çelebi (Derviş Mehmed Zillî) in his most important work “Seyāḥat-nāme”(Book IV, Chapter 41).

Armani

Armani, (also given as Armanum) was an ancient kingdom mentioned by Sargon of Akkad and his grandson Naram-Sin of Akkad as stretching from Ibla (which might or might not be Ebla) to Bit-Nanib; its location is heavily debated, and it continued to be mentioned in later Assyrian inscriptions.

First mentioned as the land of Armani by Sargon, Naram-Sin boasted about his victory and destruction of the city. He gives a detailed account of the siege and the capture of Armani’s king in one of his inscriptions. Armani was later mentioned amongst the cities that rebelled against Naram-Sin.

During its final years, Ebla—in alliance with Nagar and Kish—conducted a great military expedition against Armi and occupied it. Armi wasn’t mentioned after the destruction of Ebla. Many theories have been proposed for this destruction.

Armi, was an important Bronze Age city-kingdom during the late third millennium BC located in northern Syria. Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla’s alter ego. However, the relations between the two cities is complicated, for it wasn’t always peaceful: the texts of Ebla mention the exchange of gifts between the kings but also wars between the two kingdoms.

Historian Michael C. Astour believes that the destruction of Ebla and Armi would have happened c. 2290 BC during the reign of Lugal-zage-si of Sumer, whose rule coincided with Sargon of Akkad’s first years.

King Naram-Sin of Akkad mentions that he conquered Armanum and Ib-la and captured the king of Armanum, the similarities between the names led historian Wayne Horowitz to identify Armanum with Armi. If Armi was in fact Armanum mentioned by Naram-Sin, then the event can be dated to c. 2240 BC.

According to Astour the Armanum mentioned in the inscriptions of Naram-Sin is not the same city as the Eblaite Armi, as Naram-Sin makes it clear that the Ebla he sacked (c. 2240 BC) was a border town of the land of Arman, while the Armi in the Eblaite tablets is a vassal to Ebla and (according to Astour), the Syrian Ebla would have been burned in 2290 BC (based on the political map given in the Eblaite tablets) long before the reign of Naram-Sin.

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Trimurti and Tridevi: Pavati / Shiva, Lakshmi / Vishnu and Saraswati / Brahma

The Trimurti of the three Hindu Gods: Brahmā, Vishnu, and Shiva

Trimurti and Tridevi

The Trimurti of the three Hindu Gods: Brahmā, Vishnu, and Shiva (left to right) at Ellora Caves, an archaeological site, 29 km (18 mi) North-West of the city of Aurangabad in the Indian state of Maharashtra built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty (753–982).

Bilderesultat for tridevi

Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva seated on lotuses with their consorts, ca1770.jpg

Shakta Upanishads are dedicated to the Trinity (Tridevi) of goddesses – Lakshmi, Saraswati and Parvati.

Trimurti

The Trimūrti (English: ‘three forms’; Sanskrit: त्रिमूर्तिः trimūrti), also known as Tri Murati or Trimurati, is the concept of Triple deity of supreme divinity in Hinduism in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified as a triad of deities, typically in the forms of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver and Shiva the destroyer or transformer though individual denominations may vary from that particular line-up.

These three gods have been called “the Hindu triad” or the “Great Trinity”, often addressed as “Brahma-Vishnu-Maheshwara”, all having the same meaning of three in One. They are the different forms or manifestation of one person, the Supreme Being, or Narayana/Svayam Bhagavan (“The Lord Himself”) – a Sanskrit theological term for the concept of absolute representation of God as Bhagavan – The Supreme Personality who possesses all riches, all strength, all fame, all beauty, all knowledge and all renunciation.

When all three deities of the Trimurti incarnate into a single avatar, the avatar is known as Dattatreya. One type of depiction for the Trimurti shows three heads on one neck, and often even three faces on one head, each looking in a different direction.

Dattatreya

Dattatreya, Dattā or Dattaguru or Duttatreya, is a God and paradigmatic Sannyasi (monk) and one of the lords of Yoga in Hinduism. He is popularly depicted as a reclusive and ascetical saadhu living in a forest or wilderness, suggestive of his renunciation of worldly comforts and possessions, and pursuit of a meditative yogi lifestyle.

In many regions of India and Nepal, he is considered a deity. In Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Gujarat, Dattatreya is considered to be an avatar (incarnation) of the three Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, collectively known as Trimurti. In other regions, and some versions of texts such as Garuda Purana, Brahma Purana and Sattvata Samhita, he is an avatar of Maha Vishnu.

His iconography varies regionally. In western Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, for example, he is typically shown with three heads and six hands, one head each for Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and one pair of hands holding the symbolic items associated with each member of the Trimurti: The jaapmaala and water pot of Brahma, the conch and sudarshana chakra (discus) of Vishnu, and the trishula (trident) and two headed drum of Shiva.

In paintings and some large carvings, he is surrounded by four dogs and a cow, the dogs are not symbols for the four Vedas but Duttaguru’s teaching of similitude and equality among all creatures especially animals, right from the pure and holy cow to the dog, the least and lowest of lifeforms in Hindu thought; this exegesis was put forward by a charismatic personality, the avtari purush (godman) of the Dattatreya lineage, Shri Ramakrishna Saraswati Kshirsagar Swamiji of Ambikapur (Ahmednagar).

The cow is adored and reverenced mainly in North India as a symbol of the Mother Earth who nourishes all living beings. In the temples of southern Maharashtra, Varanasi (Benares), and the Himalayas, his iconography shows him with one head and two hands, with four dogs and a cow.

According to Rigopoulos, in the Nath tradition of Shaivism, Dattatreya is revered as the Adi-Guru (First Teacher) of the Adinath Sampradaya of the Nathas, the first “Lord of Yoga” with mastery of Tantra (techniques), although most traditions and scholars consider Adi Nath an epithet of Shiva. His pursuit of simple life, kindness to all, sharing of his knowledge and the meaning of life during his travels is reverentially mentioned in the poems by Tukaram, a saint-poet of the Bhakti movement.

Over time, Dattatreya has inspired many monastic movements in Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism, particularly in the Deccan region of India, south India, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Himalayan regions where Shiva tradition has been strong.

According to Mallinson, Dattatreya is not the traditional guru of the Nath Sampradaya, he was coopted by the Nath tradition in about the 18th century as a guru, as a part of Vishnu-Shiva syncretism. This is evidenced by the Marathi text Navanathabhaktisara, states Mallinson, wherein there is syncretic fusion of the Nath Sampradaya with the Mahanubhava sect by identifying nine Naths with nine Narayanas.

Several Upanishads are dedicated to him, as are texts of the Advaita-Dvaita Vedanta-Yoga tradition in Hinduism. One of the most important texts of Advaita and Dvaita Vedantas, namely Avadhuta Gita (literally, “song of the free”) is attributed to Dattatreya. An annual festival in the Hindu calendar month of Mārgaśīrṣa (November/December) reveres Dattatreya and is called Datta Jayanti.

Bhagavān

Bhagavān or Bhagwan is an epithet for deity, particularly for Krishna and other avatars of Lord Vishnu in Vaishnavism and for Lord Shiva in the Shaivism tradition of Hinduism. The term is used by Jains to refer to the Tirthankaras, particularly Mahavira and by Buddhists to refer to the Buddha in India.

In many parts of India and South Asia, Bhagavān represents the abstract concept of a universal God to Hindus that are spiritual and religious but do not worship a specific deity. The term Bhagavān does not appear in Vedas or in early or middle Upanishads. There is the use of “Bhag” Term in “Mundakopanishad”, but not for the term “God”. Even Ishwar word is not used in vedic scripture, except ishawasyopanishad.

The oldest Sanskrit texts use the term Brahman to represent an abstract Supreme Soul, Absolute Reality, while using names of deities like Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva to represent gods and goddesses. The term Ishvara appears in later Vedas and middle Upanishads where it is used to discuss spiritual concepts. The word Bhagavān is found in later Vedic literature, such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Puranas.

In Bhakti school literature, the term is typically used for any deity to whom prayers are offered; for example, Rama, Ganesha, Kartikeya, Krishna, Shiva or Vishnu. A particular deity is often the devotee’s one and only Bhagavan. Bhagavan is male in Bhakti traditions, and the female equivalent of Bhagavān is Bhagavatī. To some Hindus, the word Bhagavan is an abstract, genderless God concept.

In Buddhism’s Pali scriptures, the term is used to denote Gautama Buddha, referring to him as Bhagavān Buddha (translated with the phrase ‘Lord Buddha’ or ‘The Blessed One’) and Bhagavān Shakyamuni. The term Bhagavān is also found in other Theravada, Mahayana and Tantra Buddhist texts.

Krishna

According to the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna is termed Svayam Bhagavan, which means God Himself. As stated in Bhagavata Maha Purana, Hindu Vedic Supreme God Parabrahman Adi Narayana (Maha Vishnu) appeared before Vasudeva and Devaki in his divine original four armed form before taking birth as Krishna. Vasudeva and Devaki after praising Vishnu, requested him to hide his divine form, which Maha Vishnu agreed to do, transforming himself into a small baby Krishna. According to this account, Krishna never took birth from the womb of His mother like a common baby.

Tridevi

The Tridevi (English: three goddesses; Sanskrit: त्रिदेवी, tridevī) is a concept in Hinduism joining a triad of eminent goddesses either as a feminine version of the Trimurti or as consorts of a masculine Trimurti, depending on the denomination. This triad is typically personified by the Hindu goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati. In Shaktism, these triune goddesses are the manifestations of goddess Yogmaya also known by the names of Adi Parashakti, Devi.

In the Navaratri (“nine nights”) festival, “the Goddess is worshiped in three forms. During the first three nights, Parvati is revered, then Lakshmi on the fourth, fifth and sixth nights, and finally Saraswati until the ninth night.”

Whereas in androcentric denominations of Hinduism the feminine Tridevi goddesses are relegated as consorts and auxiliary deities to the more eminent masculine Trimurti gods, in the Shaktidharma denomination the feminine Tridevi goddesses are given the eminent roles of Creatrix (Mahasarasvati), Preservatrix (Mahalaxmi), and Destructrix (Mahakali), with the masculine Trimurti gods being relegated as the auxiliary deities as agents of the feminine Tridevi.

Shakti or Vimarsh is the power that is latent in pure consciousness, required to reach pure consciousness and essential to create, sustain and destroy. Just as Energy can never be created nor be destroyed, but changes from one form to another; Devi took many incarnations to do different tasks. God is both male and female. But all different forms of energy or powers of God are with the Trimurti in the form of Mahasaraswati, Mahalakshmi, and Mahakali.

That is to say, a non-dimensional God creates this world through Srishti-Shakti (Mahasaraswati or Sound or knowledge), preserves through Sthiti-Shakti (Mahalakshmi or Light or resources), and destroys through Samhara-Shakti (Mahakali or Heat or Strength). It is also seen that God cannot create, generate or destroy because God does not possess any attribute. So True Energy or Adi Shakti does everything on God’s behalf.

Shiva

Shiva meaning “The Auspicious One”, also known as Mahadeva (“Great God”), is a popular Hindu deity. Shiva is regarded as one of the primary forms of God. He is the Supreme God within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism. He is one of the five primary forms of God in the Smarta tradition, and “the Destroyer” or “the Transformer” among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine.

Shiva has many benevolent and fearsome forms. At the highest level Shiva is limitless, transcendent, unchanging and formless. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash, as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya and in fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also regarded as the patron god of yoga and arts.

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

The Puranic period (c. CE 300-1200) saw the rise of post-Vedic religion and the evolution of what R. C. Majumdar calls “synthetic Hinduism.” This period had no homogeneity, and included orthodox Brahmanism in the form of remnants of older Vedic faith traditions, along with different sectarian religions, notably Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktismthat were within the orthodox fold yet still formed distinct entities. One of the important traits of this period is a spirit of harmony between orthodox and sectarian forms.

Regarding this spirit of reconciliation, R. C. Majumdar says that: It’s most notable expression is to be found in the theological conception of the Trimūrti, i.e., the manifestation of the supreme God in three forms of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva… But the attempt cannot be regarded as a great success, for Brahmā never gained an ascendancy comparable to that of Śiva or Viṣṇu, and the different sects often conceived the Trimūrti as really the three manifestations of their own sectarian god, whom they regarded as Brahman or Absolute.

Maurice Winternitz notes that there are very few places in Indian literature where the Trimurti is mentioned. The identification of Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma as one being is strongly emphasized in the Kūrma Purāṇa, where in 1.6 Brahman is worshipped as Trimurti; 1.9 especially inculcates the unity of the three gods, and 1.26 relates to the same theme.

Historian A. L. Basham explains the background of the Trimurti as follows, noting Western interest in the idea of trinity: Early western students of Hinduism were impressed by the parallel between the Hindu trinity and that of Christianity. In fact the parallel is not very close, and the Hindu trinity, unlike the Holy Trinity of Christianity, never really “caught on”.

All Hindu trinitarianism tended to favor one god of the three; thus, from the context it is clear that Kālidāsa’s hymn to the Trimūrti is really addressed to Brahmā, here looked on as the high god. The Trimūrti was in fact an artificial growth, and had little real influence.

Freda Matchett characterizes the Trimurti system as one of “several frameworks into which various divine figures can be fitted at different levels.” The concept of Trimurti is also present in the Maitri Upanishad, where the three gods are explained as three of his supreme forms.

Vishnu

Vishnu, also known as Narayana and Hari, is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. The “preserver” in the Trimurti, Vishnu is revered as the supreme being and identical to the metaphysical concept of Brahman (Atman, the self, or unchanging ultimate reality) in the Vaishnavism Tradition. Lakshmi is the wife of Vishnu.

He is notable for adopting various incarnations (avatars such as Rama and Krishna) to preserve and protect dharmic principles whenever the world is threatened with evil, chaos, and destructive forces. In the Smarta Tradition of Hinduism Vishnu is also one of the five equivalent deities worshipped in Panchayatana puja.

The Vishnu Sahasranama declares Vishnu as Paramatman (supreme soul) and Parameshwara (supreme God). It describes Vishnu as the all-pervading essence of all beings, the master of—and beyond—the past, present and future, the creator and destroyer of all existences, one who supports, preserves, sustains and governs the universe and originates and develops all elements within.

Though he is usually depicted as light blue, as are his incarnations some other depictions of Vishnu exist as green-bodied, and in the Kurma Purana he is described as colorless and with red eyes. In Hindu sacred texts, Vishnu is usually described as having the divine pale blue color of water-filled clouds and as having four arms.

He is depicted as holding a padma (lotus flower) in the lower left hand, a unique type of mace used in warfare known as a Kaumodaki gada in the lower right hand, a Panchajanya shankha (conch) in the upper left hand and a discus weapon Sudarshana Chakra in the upper right hand.

Vishnu is also described in the Bhagavad Gita as having a ‘Universal Form’ (Vishvaroopa or Viraata Purusha) Vishvarupa which is beyond the ordinary limits of human perception or imagination. It is said that he owns five weapons (pancha ayudham): Sudarshanam, Panchajanyam, Komodaki, Nandakam, and Sharangam.

Adherents of Hinduism believe Vishnu’s eternal and supreme abode beyond the material universe is called Vaikuntha, which is also known as Paramdhama, the realm of eternal bliss and happiness and the final or highest place for liberated souls who have attained Moksha.

Vaikuntha is situated beyond the material universe and hence, cannot be perceived or measured by material science or logic. Vishnu’s other abode within the material universe is Ksheera Sagara (the ocean of milk), where he reclines and rests on Ananta Shesha, (the king of the serpent deities, commonly shown with a thousand heads).

In almost all Hindu denominations, Vishnu is either worshipped directly or in the form of his ten avatars, the most famous of whom are Rama and Krishna. The Puranabharati, an ancient text, describes these as the dashavatara, or the ten avatars of Vishnu. Among the ten described, nine have occurred in the past and one will take place in the future as Lord Kalki, at the end of Kali Yuga, (the fourth and final stage in the cycle of yugas that the world goes through).

These incarnations take place in all Yugas in cosmic scales; the avatars and their stories show that gods are indeed unimaginable, unthinkable and inconceivable. The Bhagavad Gita mentions their purpose as being to rejuvenate Dharma, to vanquish those negative forces of evil that threaten dharma, and also to display His divine nature in front of all souls.

Vishnu is also venerated as Mukunda, which means God who is the giver of mukti or moksha (liberation from the cycle of rebirths) to his devotees or the worthy ones who deserve salvation from the material world.

Brahmā

Brahmā is the creator god in Hinduism. Brahmā’s wife is Saraswati, also known by names such as Sāvitri and Gāyatri. Being the husband of Saraswati or Vaac Devi (the Goddess of Speech), Brahma is also known as “Vaagish,” meaning “Lord of Speech and Sound.”

He is also known as Svayambhu (self-born) or the creative aspect of Vishnu, Vāgīśa (Lord of Speech), Vedanatha (god of Vedas), Gyaneshwar (god of Knowledge), Chaturmukha (having Four Faces), Brahmanarayana (half Brahma and half Vishnu) etc. He is the creator of the four Vedas, one from each of his mouths.

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.  Although Brahma is part of the Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva Trimurti, ancient Hindu scriptures mention multiple other trinities of gods or goddesses which do not include Brahma.

He does’nt enjoy popular worship in present-age Hinduism and has lesser importance than the other members of the Trimurti, Vishnu and Shiva. Several Puranas describe him as emerging from a lotus, connected to the navel of Lord Vishnu. Other Puranas suggest that he is born from Shiva or his aspects.

According to the Brahmā Purāņa, he is the father of Manu, and from Manu all human beings are descended. In the Rāmāyaņa and the Mahābhārata, he is often referred to as the progenitor or great grandsire of all human beings. He is not to be confused with the Supreme Cosmic Spirit in Hindu Vedānta philosophy known as Brahman, which is genderless.

Brahma, along with other deities, is sometimes viewed as a form (saguna) of the otherwise formless (nirguna) Brahman, the ultimate metaphysical reality in Vedantic Hinduism. In an alternate version, some Puranas state him to be identified with or the father of the Vedic god Prajapati. He is also linked to Kama and Hiranyagarbha (the cosmic egg).

Prajapati (Prajāpati-Rajjan or Rajanya, “lord of creation and protector”). Prajapati connotes many different gods, depending on the Hindu text, ranging from being the creator god to being same as one of the following: Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Agni, Indra, Vishvakarma, Bharata, Kapila and many others. According to George Williams, the inconsistent, varying and evolving Prajapati concept in Hindu mythology reflects the diverse Hindu cosmology.

Prajapati is a compound of “praja” (creation, procreative powers) and “pati” (lord, master). The term means “lord of creatures”, or “lord of all born beings”. In classical and medieval era literature, Prajapati is equated to the metaphysical concept called Brahman as Prajapati-Brahman (Svayambhu Brahman), or alternatively Brahman is described as one who existed before Prajapati.

In the later Vedic texts, Prajapati is a distinct Vedic deity, but whose significance diminishes. Later, the term is synonymous with other gods, particularly Brahma or Vishnu or Shiva. Still later, the term evolves to mean any divine, semi-divine or human sages who create something new.

The origins of Prajapati are unclear. He appears late in the Vedic layer of texts, and the hymns that mention him provide different cosmological theories in different chapters. He is missing from the Samhita layer of Vedic literature, conceived in the Brahmana layer, states Jan Gonda.

Prajapati is younger than Savitr, and the word was originally an epithet for the sun. His profile gradually rises in the Vedas, peaking within the Brahmanas. Scholars such as Renou, Keith and Bhattacharji posit Prajapati originated as an abstract or semi-abstract deity in the later Vedic milieu as speculations evolved from the archaic to more learned speculations.

A possible connection between Prajapati (and related figures in Indian tradition) and the Prōtogonos (lit. “first-born”) of the Greek Orphic tradition has been proposed. Protogonos is the Orphic equivalent of Vedic Prajapati in several ways: he is the first god born from a cosmic egg, he is the creator of the universe, and in the figure of Dionysus— a direct descendant of Protogonos—worshippers participate in his death and rebirth.

According to Robert Graves, the name of /PRA-JĀ[N]-pati/ (‘progeny-potentate’) is etymologically equivalent to that of the oracular god at Colophon (according to Makrobios), namely /prōtogonos/. The cosmic egg concept linked to Prajapati and Protogonos is common in many parts of the world, states David Leeming, which appears in later Orphic cult in Greece.

Parvati

Parvati, or in her demon-fighting aspect, Kali, is the goddess of power, beauty, love, and spiritual fulfillment, as well as consort of Shiva, the destroyer of evil or transformer. She also represents the transformational power of divinity, the power that dissolves the multiplicity of the Hindu gods into their unity. She is a direct incarnation of Adi Parashakti.

Parvati, Uma or Gauri is the Hindu goddess of fertility, love, beauty, marriage, children, and devotion; as well as of divine strength and power. “Parama” means absolute, “Satya” means “Truth” as per many Shakta texts. 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.

She is the daughter of the mountain king Himavan and queen Mena, and the wife of Shiva – the protector, the destroyer (of pure evil) and regenerator of the universe and all life. She is the divine energy between a man and a woman, like the energy of Shiva and Shakti. The Puranas also referenced her to be the sister of the preserver god Vishnu.

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.

She is one of the central deities of the Goddess-oriented Shakta sect. She is also one of the five equivalent deities worshipped in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta Tradition of Hinduism. Known by many other names, she is the gentle and nurturing aspect of the Supreme Hindu goddess Adi Parashakti.

It is also believed that Goddess Parvati is the complete and direct incarnation of Adi Parashakti. The Devi-Bhagavata Purana states that Adi Parashakti (Shivasakthi) is the original creator, observer and destroyer of the whole universe.

Durga, identified as Adi Parashakti, considered the Supreme Being in the Shaktism sect of Hinduism, and popularly referred to as “Parama Shakti”, “Adi Shakti”, “Maha Shakti”, “Mahadevi”, “Mahagauri, “Mahasaraswati”, “Mahalakshmi”, “Mahakali” Satyam Shakti or even simply as “Shakti”, is a principal and popular form of the Hindu Goddess.

She is a goddess of war, the warrior form of Parvati, whose mythology centres around combating evils and demonic forces that threaten peace, prosperity, and Dharma the power of good over evil. Durga is also a fierce form of the protective mother goddess, who unleashes her divine wrath against the wicked for the liberation of the oppressed, and entails destruction to empower creation.

Durga is depicted in the Hindu pantheon as a Goddess riding a lion or tiger, with many arms each carrying a weapon, often defeating Mahishasura (lit. buffalo demon). She is a central deity in Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, where she is equated with the concept of ultimate reality called Brahman. She is revered after spring and autumn harvests, specially during the festival of Navratri.

One of the most important texts of Shaktism is Devi Mahatmya, also known as Durgā Saptashatī or Chandi patha, which celebrates Durga as the goddess, declaring her as the supreme being and the creator of the universe. Estimated to have been composed between 400 and 600 CE, this text is considered by Shakta Hindus to be as important a scripture as the Bhagavad Gita.

The three principal forms of Durga worshiped are Maha Durga, Chandika and Aparajita. Of these, Chandika has two forms called Chandi who is of the combined power and form of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati and of Chamunda who is a form of Kali created by the goddess for killing demons Chanda and Munda.

Maha Durga has three forms: Ugrachanda, Bhadrakali and Katyayani. Of these, Bhadrakali Durga is also worshiped in the form of her nine epithets called Navadurga (lit. Nine forms of Durga), which are nine manifestations of the goddess Durga in Hinduism, especially worshipped during the festival of Navratri where each of the nine manifested forms are venerated respectively for each night.

Navaratri is a Hindu festival that spans nine nights (and ten days) and is celebrated every year in the autumn. It is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian cultural sphere.

Theoretically, there are four seasonal Navaratri. However, in practice, it is the post-monsoon autumn festival called Sharada Navaratri that is the most observed in the honor of the divine feminine Devi (Durga). The festival is celebrated in the bright half of the Hindu calendar month Ashvin, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.

Celebrations include stage decorations, recital of the legend, enacting of the story, and chanting of the scriptures of Hinduism. In all cases, the common theme is the battle and victory of Good over Evil based on a regionally famous epic or legend such as the Ramayana or the Devi Mahatmya.

The nine days are also a major crop season cultural event, such as competitive design and staging of pandals, a family visit to these pandals and the public celebration of classical and folk dances of Hindu culture.

On the final day, called the Vijayadashami or Dussehra, the statues are either immersed in a water body such as river and ocean, or alternatively the statue symbolizing the evil is burnt with fireworks marking evil’s destruction.

The festival also starts the preparation for one of the most important and widely celebrated holidays, Diwali, the festival of lights, which is celebrated twenty days after the Vijayadashami or Dussehra or Dashain.

Lakshmi

Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, fertility, and material fulfillment, as well as consort of Vishnu, the maintainer or preserver. However, Lakshmi does not signify mere material wealth, but also abstract prosperity, such as glory, magnificence, joy, exaltation, and greatness. She is the wife of Vishnu. She is also considered as the daughter of Durga in Bengali Hindu culture.

Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, good fortune, prosperity and beauty. Lakshmi in Sanskrit is derived from the root word lakṣ and lakṣa, meaning to perceive, observe, know, understand and goal, aim, objective respectively.  These roots give Lakshmi the symbolism: know and understand your goal. A related term is lakṣaṇa, which means sign, target, aim, symbol, attribute, quality, lucky mark, auspicious opportunity.

The image, icons, and sculptures of Lakshmi are represented with symbolism. Her name is derived from Sanskrit root words for knowing the goal and understanding the objective. She is depicted in Indian art as an elegantly dressed, prosperity-showering golden-coloured woman with an owl as her vehicle, signifying the importance of economic activity in maintenance of life, her ability to move, work and prevail in confusing darkness.

Her four arms are symbolic of the four goals of humanity that are considered good in Hinduism – dharma (pursuit of ethical, moral life), artha (pursuit of wealth, means of life), kama (pursuit of love, emotional fulfillment) and moksha (pursuit of self-knowledge, liberation).

She typically stands or sits like a yogin on a lotus pedestal and holds a lotus in her hand, symbolizing 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.

Archaeological discoveries and ancient coins suggest the recognition and reverence for Lakshmi by the 1st millennium BCE. Her iconography and statues have also been found in Hindu temples throughout Southeast Asia, estimated to be from the second half of the 1st millennium CE. The festivals of Diwali and Sharad Purnima (Kojagiri Purnima) are celebrated in her honor.

She is also called Sri or Thirumagal because she is endowed with six auspicious and divine qualities, or gunas, and is the divine strength of Vishnu. In Hindu religion, 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 as Sita and Radha ,Rukmini. 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 also an important deity in Jainism and found in Jain temples. She has also been a goddess of abundance and fortune for Buddhists, and was represented on the oldest surviving stupas and cave temples of Buddhism. In Buddhist sects of Tibet, Nepal and Southeast Asia, goddess Vasudhara mirrors the characteristics and attributes of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi with minor iconographic differences.

Saraswati

Saraswati is the goddess of learning, arts, and cultural fulfillment, as well as consort of Brahma, the creator. She is cosmic intelligence, cosmic consciousness, and cosmic knowledge. She is the Hindu goddess of wisdom, knowledge, learning, music, art and cultural fulfillment. She is cosmic intelligence, cosmic consciousness, and cosmic knowledge. She is the consort of Brahmā, the creator god in Hinduism.

In Shanti Parva of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Saraswati is called the mother of the Vedas, and later as the celestial creative symphony who appeared when Brahma created the universe. She has taken different forms throughout history. She is usually depicted near a flowing river or another body of water, which depiction may constitute a reference to her early history as a river goddess.

Saraswati is often depicted as a beautiful woman dressed in pure white, often seated on a white lotus, which symbolizes light, knowledge and truth. She not only embodies knowledge but also the experience of the highest reality. Her iconography is typically in white themes from dress to flowers to swan – the colour symbolizing Sattwa Guna or purity, discrimination for true knowledge, insight and wisdom.

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. The Goddess is also revered by believers of the Jain religion of west and central India, as well as some Buddhist sects.

Some Hindus celebrate the festival of Vasant Panchami (the fifth day of spring, and also known as Saraswati Puja and Saraswati Jayanti in so many parts of India) in her honour, and mark the day by helping young children learn how to write the letters of the alphabet on that day.

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The Two Brothers Ganesha and Kartikeya

Ganesha

Ganesha, also known as Ganapati, Vinayaka, or by numerous other names, is one of the best-known and most worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. Though not alluding to the classical form of Ganapati,the earliest mention of Ganapati,is found in the Rigveda.

Ganapatya is a denomination of Hinduism that worships Ganesha (also called Ganapati) as the Saguna Brahman. Ganapati has been worshipped as part of Shaivism since at least the fifth century.

Ganesha’s rise to prominence was codified in the 9th century when he was formally included as one of the five primary deities of Smartism. This worship practice invokes the five deities Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, and Surya.

The 9th-century philosopher Adi Shankara popularised the “worship of the five forms” (Panchayatana puja) system among orthodox Brahmins of the Smarta tradition. He instituted the tradition primarily to unite the principal deities of these five major sects on an equal status. This formalised the role of Ganesha as a complementary deity.

Once Ganesha was accepted as one of the five principal deities of Hinduism, some Hindus chose Ganesha as their principal deity. The title “Leader of the group” (Sanskrit: gaṇapati) occurs twice in the Rig Veda, but in neither case does it refer to the modern Ganesha. The term appears in RV 2.23.1 as a title for Brahmanaspati, according to commentators. While this verse doubtless refers to Brahmanaspati, it was later adopted for worship of Ganesha and is still used today.

Equally clearly, the second passage (RV 10.112.9) refers to Indra, who is given the epithet ‘gaṇapati’, translated “Lord of the companies (of the Maruts).” However, Rocher notes that the more recent Ganapatya literature often quotes the Rigvedic verses to give Vedic respectability to Ganesha.

Although he is known by many attributes, Ganesha’s elephant head makes him easy to identify. Devotees believe that if Ganesha is propitiated, he grants success, prosperity and protection against adversity.

Some have noted the roots of Ganesha worship, dating back to 3,000 BCE since the times of Indus Valley Civilization. In 1993, a metal plate depiction of an elephant-headed figure, interpreted as Ganesha, was discovered in Lorestan Province, Iran, dating back to 1,200 BCE.

First terracotta images of Ganesha are from 1st century CE found in Ter, Pal, Verrapuram, and Chandraketugarh. These figures are small, with an elephant head, two arms, and chubby physique. The earliest Ganesha icons in stone were carved in Mathura during Kushan times (2nd–3rd centuries CE).

An early iconic image of Ganesha with elephant head, a bowl of sweets and a goddess sitting in his lap has been found in the ruins of the Bhumara Temple in Madhya Pradesh, and this is dated to the 5th-century Gupta period.

Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. Ganesha is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions. Several texts relate mythological anecdotes associated with his birth and exploits. As the god of beginnings, he is honoured at the start of rites and ceremonies.

The name Ganesha is a Sanskrit compound, joining the words gana (gaṇa), meaning a group, multitude, or categorical system and isha (īśa), meaning lord or master. The word gaṇa when associated with Ganesha is often taken to refer to the gaṇas, a troop of semi-divine beings that form part of the retinue of Shiva, Ganesha’s father.

Hindu mythology identifies him as the restored son of Parvati and Shiva of the Shaivism tradition, but he is a pan-Hindu god found in its various traditions. The family includes his brother, the god of war, Kartikeya.

Ganesha’s marital status, the subject of considerable scholarly review, varies widely in mythological stories. One lesser-known and unpopular pattern of myths identifies Ganesha as an unmarried brahmachari. This view is common in southern India and parts of northern India.

Another popularly-accepted mainstream pattern associates him with the concepts of Buddhi (intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity); these qualities are personified as goddesses, said to be Ganesha’s wives.

He also may be shown with a single consort or a nameless servant (Sanskrit: daşi). Another pattern connects Ganesha with the goddess of culture and the arts, Sarasvati or Śarda (particularly in Maharashtra). He is also associated with the goddess of luck and prosperity, Lakshmi. Another pattern, mainly prevalent in the Bengal region, links Ganesha with the banana tree, Kala Bo.

He is often shown carrying a bowl of sweets, called a modakapātra. Because of his identification with the color red, he is often worshipped with red sandalwood paste (raktachandana) or red flowers.

Festivals associated with Ganesh are Ganesh Chaturthi or Vināyaka chaturthī and the Ganesh Jayanti (Ganesha’s birthday). The Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the śuklapakṣa (the fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of Bhadra or Bhadrapada or Bhaado or Bhadraba that corresponds to August/September in the Gregorian calendar.

In India’s national civil calendar (Shaka calendar), Bhadra is the sixth month of the year, beginning on 23 August and ending on 22 September. In Vedic Jyotish, Bhadra begins with the Sun’s entry into Virgo, and is usually the fifth month of the year.

It is a Hindu festival celebrating the arrival of Ganesha to earth from ‘Kailash Parvat’ with his mother goddess Parvati/Gauri. Thereafter Ganesha is believed to return to Mount Kailash to Parvati and Shiva. The festival celebrates Lord Ganesha as the God of New Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles as well as the god of wisdom and intelligence and is observed throughout India.

The Ganesh Jayanti is celebrated on the cathurthī of the śuklapakṣa (fourth day of the waxing moon) in the month of magha (January/February).” Maagha is a month of the Hindu calendar. In India’s national civil calendar, it’s the eleventh month of the year, it corresponds with January/February in the Gregorian calendar. In solar calendars, Maagh begins with the Sun’s entry into Capricorn, and is usually the eleventh month of the year.

Kartikeya

Kartikeya, also called Murugan, Skanda, Kumara, and Subrahmanya, the Hindu god of war, is an ancient god, traceable to the Vedic era. Archaeological evidence from 1st-century CE and earlier, where he is found with Hindu god Agni (fire), suggest that he was a significant deity in early Hinduism.

Three of the six richest and busiest temples in Tamil Nadu are dedicated to him. He is also found in other parts of India, sometimes as Skanda, but in a secondary role along with Ganesha, Parvati and Shiva. In northern India, Skanda was an important martial deity from about 500 BCE to about 600 CE, after which worship of him declined significantly. As Skanda fell, Ganesha rose.

There are ancient references which can be interpreted to be Kartikeya in the Vedic texts, in the works of Pāṇini (~500 BCE), in the Mahabhasya of Patanjali and in Kautilya’s Arthashastra For example, the term Kumara appears in hymn 5,2 of the Rig Veda. The Kumara of verse 5.2.1 can be interpreted as Skanda, or just any “boy”. However, the rest of the verses depict the “boy” as bright-colored, hurling weapons and other motifs that later have been associated with Skanda.

The difficulty with interpreting these to be Skanda is that Indra, Agni and Rudra are also depicted in similar terms and as warriors. According to Fred Clothey, the evidence suggests that Kartikeya mythology had become widespread sometime around 200 BCE or after in north India.

The Epic era literature of ancient India recite numerous legends of Kartikeya, often with his other names such as Skanda. For example, the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata dedicates chapters 223 to 232 to the legends of Skanda, but depicts him as the son of Agni and Svaha. Similarly, Valmiki’s Ramayana dedicates chapters 36 and 37 to Skanda, but describes him as the child of god Agni and goddess Ganges.

A totally different legend in the later books of the Mahabharata make Shiva and Parvati as the parents. They were making love, but they are disturbed, and Shiva inadvertently spills his semen on the ground. Shiva’s semen incubates in River Ganges, preserved by the heat of god Agni, and this fetus is born as baby Kartikeya on the banks of Ganges.

Kartikeya means “of the Krittikas”. This epithet is also linked to his birth. After he appears on the banks of the River Ganges, he is seen by the six of the seven brightest stars cluster in the night sky called Krittikas in Hindu texts (called Pleiades in Greek texts).

These six mothers all want to take care of him and nurse baby Kartikeya. Kartikeya ends the argument by growing five more heads to have a total of six heads so he can look at all six mothers, and let them each nurse one.

Some legend state that he was the elder son of Shiva, others make him the younger brother of Ganesha. This is implied by another legend connected to his birth.

Devas have been beaten up by Asuras led by Taraka, because Taraka had a boon from ascetic celibate yogi Shiva that only Shiva’s son can kill him. Devas learn about this boon, and plan how to get Shiva into a relationship. So they bring Parvati into the picture, have her seduce yogi Shiva, and wed Parvati so that Skanda can be born to kill Taraka.

His theology is most developed in the Tamil texts, and in the Shaiva Siddhanta tradition. He is considered the God of Tamil language and he is mentioned a lot in Tamil Sangam literature. The iconography of Kartikeya varies significantly; he is typically represented as an ever-youthful man, riding or near a peacock, dressed with weapons sometimes near a rooster.

Kartikeya iconography shows him as a youthful god, dressed as a warrior, carrying the weapon called Vel. It is a divine spear, often called sakti. According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Parvati presented the Vel to her son Murugan as an embodiment of her 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.

But not fooled by Asura’s trick, 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 vehicle and the rooster became the emblem on his battle flag.

Kartikeya symbolizes a union of polarities. He is handsome warrior and described as a celibate yogi. He uses his creative martial abilities to lead an army against Taraka and other demons, and described as a philosopher-warrior.

He is a uniter, championing the attributes of both Shaivism, one of the major traditions within Hinduism that reveres Shiva as the Supreme Being, and Vaishnavism, also called Vishnuism, who considers Vishnu as the Supreme Lord.

Kartikeya’s youth, beauty and bravery was much celebrated in Sanskrit works like the Kathasaritsagara. Kalidasa made the birth of Kumara the subject of a lyrical epic, the Kumārasambhava.

Many of the major events in Murugan’s life take place during his youth, and legends surrounding his birth are popular in Tamil Nadu. This has encouraged the worship of Murugan as a child-God, very similar to the worship of the child Krishna in north India.

According to Raman Varadara, Murugan or Kartikeya was originally a Tamil deity, who was adopted by north Indians. He was the god of war in the Dravidian legends, and became so elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent too.

In contrast, G. S. Ghurye states that according to the archeological and epigraphical evidence, the contemporary Murugan, Subrahmanya and Kartikeya is a composite of two influences, one from south and one from north in the form of Skanda and Mahasena.

He as the warrior-philosopher god was the patron deity for many ancient northern and western Hindu kingdoms, and of the Gupta Empire, according to Ghurye. After the 7th-century, Skanda’s importance diminished while his brother Ganesha’s importance rose in the west and north, while in the south the legends of Murugan continued to grow.

According to Norman Cutler, Kartikeya-Murugan-Skanda of South and North India coalesced over time, but some aspects of the South Indian iconography and mythology for Murugan have remained unique to Tamil Nadu. According to Fred Clothey, as Murugan (also referred to as Murugan, Cheyyon), he embodies the “cultural and religious whole that comprises South Indian Shaivism”.

Most icons show him with one head, but some show him with six heads reflecting the legend surrounding his birth where six mothers symbolizing the six stars of Pleiades cluster who took care of newly born baby Kartikeya. He grows up quickly into a philosopher-warrior, destroys evil in the form of demon Taraka, teaches the pursuit of ethical life and the theology of Shaiva Siddhanta.

Thai Poosam during January – February month is celebrated as a 6-day festival. Vaikasi Visakam day, (during May –June month), Kavadis and Palkudams are taken by devotees in procession around Chhedanagar. Skanda Sashti during October-November month is celebrated as a 6-day festival.

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The Cow of Heaven

Ninḫursaĝ

Ninḫursaĝ, also known as Damgalnuna or Ninmah, was the ancient Sumerian mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the “true and great lady of heaven” (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were “nourished by Ninhursag’s milk”.

Possibly included among the original mother goddesses was Damgalnuna (great wife of the prince) or Damkina (true wife), the consort of the god Enki. The mother goddess had many epithets including shassuru or ‘womb goddess’, tabsut ili ‘midwife of the gods’, ‘mother of all children’ and ‘mother of the gods’.

Sometimes her hair is depicted in an omega shape and at times she wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders. Frequently she carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash. She is the tutelary deity to several Sumerian leaders.

Hathor

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

Hathor, a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion who played a wide variety of roles, was often depicted as a cow, symbolizing her maternal and celestial aspect, although her most common form was a woman wearing a headdress of cow horns and a sun disk. She could also be represented as a lioness, cobra, or sycamore tree.

Images of the Hathor-cow with a child in a papyrus thicket represented her mythological upbringing in a secluded marsh. Goddesses’ milk was a sign of divinity and royal status. Thus, images in which Hathor nurses the pharaoh represent his right to rule.

As a sky deity, Hathor was the mother or consort of the sky god Horus and the sun god Ra, both of whom were connected with kingship, and thus she was the symbolic mother of their earthly representatives, the pharaohs.

Mentuhotep II, who became the first pharaoh of the Middle Kingdom despite having no relation to the Old Kingdom rulers, sought to legitimize his rule by portraying himself as Hathor’s son. The first images of the Hathor-cow suckling the king date to his reign, and several priestesses of Hathor were depicted as though they were his wives, although he may not have actually married them.

Cows are venerated in many cultures, including ancient Egypt, as symbols of motherhood and nourishment, because they care for their calves and supply humans with milk. Cattle goddesses similar to Hathor were portrayed in Egyptian art in the fourth millennium BC, but she may not have appeared until the Old Kingdom (c. 2686–2181 BC).

Images of cattle appear frequently in the artwork of Predynastic Egypt (before c. 3100 BC), as do images of women with upraised, curved arms reminiscent of the shape of bovine horns. Both types of imagery may represent goddesses connected with cattle.

The Gerzeh Palette, a stone palette from the Naqada II period of prehistory, shows the silhouette of a cow’s head with inward-curving horns surrounded by stars. The palette suggests that this cow was also linked with the sky, as were several goddesses from later times who were represented in this form: Hathor, Mehet-Weret, and Nut.

A bovine deity with inward-curving horns appears on the Narmer Palette, both atop the palette and on the belt or apron of the king, Narmer. It is suggested this deity may be Bat, a goddess who was later depicted with a woman’s face and inward-curling antennae, seemingly reflecting the curve of the cow horns.

Hathor was one of several goddesses who acted as the Eye of Ra, Ra’s feminine counterpart, and in this form she had a vengeful aspect that protected him from his enemies. Her beneficent side represented music, dance, joy, love, sexuality and maternal care, and she acted as the consort of several male deities and the mother of their sons. These two aspects of the goddess exemplified the Egyptian conception of femininity.

Hathor was given the epithets “mistress of the sky” and “mistress of the stars”, and was said to dwell in the sky with Ra and other sun deities. Egyptians thought of the sky as a body of water through which the sun god sailed, and they connected it with the waters from which, according to their creation myths, the sun emerged at the beginning of time.

This cosmic mother goddess was often represented as a cow. Hathor and Mehet-Weret were both thought of as the cow who birthed the sun god and placed him between her horns. Like Nut, Hathor was said to give birth to the sun god each dawn.

Hathor’s Egyptian name was ḥwt-ḥrw or ḥwt-ḥr. It is typically translated “house of Horus” but can also be rendered as “my house is the sky”. The falcon god Horus represented, among other things, the sun and sky. The “house” referred to may be the sky in which Horus lives, or the goddess’s womb from which he, as a sun god, is born each day.

Hathor was often depicted as a cow bearing the sun disk between her horns, especially when shown nursing the king. She could also appear as a woman with the head of a cow. Her most common form, however, was a woman wearing a headdress of the horns and sun disk, often with a red or turquoise sheath dress, or a dress combining both colors.

Sometimes the horns stood atop a low modius or the vulture headdress that Egyptian queens often wore in the New Kingdom. Because Isis adopted the same headdress during the New Kingdom, the two goddesses can be distinguished only if labeled in writing.

When in the role of Imentet, Hathor wore the emblem of the west upon her head instead of the horned headdress. The Seven Hathors were sometimes portrayed as a set of seven cows, accompanied by a minor sky and afterlife deity called the Bull of the West.

Kamadhenu

Kamadhenu, also known as Surabhi, is a divine bovine-goddess described in Hinduism as Gou Mata (the mother of all cows). Kamadhenu is also known as Gayatri and is worshipped as a heavenly cow. She is a miraculous “cow of plenty” who provides her owner whatever he desires and is often portrayed as the mother of other cattle and gives health, wealth, happiness and growth in the life.

In iconography, she is generally depicted as a white cow with a female head and breasts, the wings of a bird, and the tail of a peafowl or as a white cow containing various deities within her body. All cows are venerated in Hinduism as the earthly embodiment of the Kamadhenu. As such, Kamadhenu is not worshipped independently as a goddess, and temples are not dedicated to her honor alone; rather, she is honored by the veneration of cows in general throughout the observant Hindu population.

Hindu scriptures provide diverse accounts of the birth of Kamadhenu. While some narrate that she emerged from the churning of the cosmic ocean, others describe her as the daughter of the creator god Daksha, and as the wife of the sage Kashyapa. Still other scriptures narrate that Kamadhenu was in the possession of either Jamadagni or Vashista (both ancient sages), and that kings who tried to steal her from the sage ultimately faced dire consequences for their actions.

Kamadhenu plays the important role of providing milk and milk products to be used in her sage-master’s oblations; she is also capable of producing fierce warriors to protect him. In addition to dwelling in the sage’s hermitage, she is also described as dwelling in Goloka – the realm of the cows – and Patala, the netherworld.

Gavaevodata

Gavaevodata is the Avestan language name of the primordial bovine of Zoroastrian cosmogony and cosmology, one of Ahura Mazda’s six primordial material creations and the mythological progenitor of all beneficent animal life.

The primordial beast is killed in the creation myth, but from its marrow, organs and cithra the world is repopulated with animal life. The soul of the primordial bovine – geush urvan – returned to the world as the soul of livestock. Although geush urvan is an aspect of the primordial bovine in Zoroastrian tradition, and may also be that in the Younger Avesta, the relationship between the two is unclear in the oldest texts.

Although Avestan gav- “cow” is grammatically feminine, the word is also used as a singular for the collective “cattle”. In English language translations Gavaevodata is often referred to in gender-neutral terms as “primordial ox”. Other translations refer to Gavaevodata as a bull. The -aevo.data of the name literally means “created as one” or “solely created” or “uniquely created”.

Gawi ewdad’s role in the creation myth runs as follows: During the first three-thousand year period, Ahura Mazda’s (Ormuzd) fashioned the bovine as His fourth or fifth of six primordial material creations.

At the beginning of the second three-thousand year period, Angra Mainyu (Ahriman) attacked the world, and the Creator responded by placing the primordial plant, bovine, and human in the respective heavenly spheres of the stars, moon, and sun. But Ahriman assaulted the sky and Ormuzd fed the bovine “medicinal mang” (mang bēšaz) to lessen its suffering. The bovine immediately became feeble, and then died.

But as it lay dying its chihr was rescued and carried to “the moon station”. In the care of the moon, the chihr of the beast was purified and became the male and female pairs of the animals “of many species.”

After the bovine’s death, fifty-five kinds of grain and twelve kinds of medicinal plants grew from its marrow. In another passage, the Bundahishn speaks of sesame, lentils, leeks, grapes, mustard, and marjoram issuing from various other parts of its body. For example, lentils from the liver, and mustard from the lungs.

Goshorun (from Avestan geush urvan), the soul of the primordial bovine, escaped to the star, moon, and sun stations where she lamented the destruction of the world. She was not placated until Ormuzd shows her the fravashi of the yet-unborn Zoroaster (whose protection she would receive). Contented with the promise of protection, Goshorun then agreed to be “created back to the world as livestock.”

Damona

In Gallo-Roman religion, Damona was a goddess worshipped in Gaul as the consort of Apollo Borvo and of Apollo Moritasgus. Mary Jones interprets Damona’s name as “Divine Cow” based on its resemblance to damos or “cow”.

She has sometimes been linked with the Irish goddess Boand on the basis of this bovine association. Van Andringa describes Damona and Bormana as the patron deities of the hot springs at Bourbonne-les-Bains and Saint-Vulbas, respectively.

Some seventeen inscriptions dedicated to Damona have been recovered, including nine from Bourbonne-les-Bains and four from Bourbon-Lancy, both spa towns in eastern France. In one inscription from Saintes, she has the epithet Matubergini.

Boann

Boann or Boand (modern spelling: Bóinn) is the Irish goddess of the River Boyne, a river in Leinster, Ireland. According to the Lebor Gabála Érenn and Tain Bo Fraech she was the sister of Befind and daughter of Delbáeth, son of Elada, of the Tuatha Dé Danann.

Her husband is variously Nechtan, Elcmar or Nuada Airgetlám. With her lover the Dagda, she is the mother of Aengus. In order to hide their affair, the Dagda made the sun stand still for nine months; therefore, Aengus was conceived, gestated and born in one day.

Her name is interpreted as “white cow” (Irish: bó fhionn; Old Irish: bó find) in the dinsenchas, where she is also called “White Boand”. Ptolemy’s 2nd century Geography shows that in antiquity the river’s name was Bouvinda, which may derive from Proto-Celtic *Bou-vindā, “white cow”. An alternate version of her name is given as Segais, hence Well of Segais. We are also told that Eithne was the wife of Elcmar and that another name for Eithne was Boand.

Auðumbla

In Norse mythology, Auðumbla is a primeval cow. The primordial frost jötunn Ymir fed from her milk, and over the course of three days she licked away the salty rime rocks and revealed Búri, grandfather of the gods and brothers Odin, Vili and Vé.

The creature is solely attested in the Prose Edda, composed in the 13th century by Icelander Snorri Sturluson. Scholars identify her as stemming from a very early stratum of Germanic mythology, and ultimately belonging to larger complex of primordial bovines or cow-associated goddesses.

Rudolf Simek highlights that Roman senator Tacitus’s first century CE work ethnography of the Germanic peoples Germania mentions that they maintained hornless cattle (see name section above), and notes that the Germania describes that an image of the Germanic goddess Nerthus was led through the countryside by way of a cattle-driven wagon.

Simek compares the deity to a variety of cow-associated deities among non-Germanic peoples, such as the Egyptian goddesses Hathor (depicted as cow-headed) and Isis (whose iconography contains references to cows), and the Ancient Greek Hera (described as ‘the cow-eyed’).

Amaltheia

In Greek mythology, Amaltheia is the most-frequently mentioned foster-mother of Zeus. The name Amaltheia, in Greek “tender goddess”, is clearly an epithet, signifying the presence of an earlier nurturing goddess, whom the Hellenes, whose myths we know, knew to be located in Crete, where Minoans may have called her a version of “Dikte”.

There were different traditions regarding Amaltheia. Amaltheia is sometimes represented as the goat who nurtured the infant-god in a cave in Cretan Mount Aigaion (“Goat Mountain”), sometimes as a goat-tending nymph of uncertain parentage (the daughter of Oceanus, Helios, Haemonius, or—according to Lactantius—Melisseus).

The possession of multiple and uncertain mythological parents indicates wide worship of a deity in many cultures having varying local traditions. Other names, like Adrasteia, Ide, the nymph of Mount Ida, or Adamanthea, which appear in mythology handbooks, are simply duplicates of Amaltheia.

In the tradition represented by Hesiod’s Theogony, Cronus swallowed all of his children immediately after birth. The mother goddess Rhea, Zeus’ mother, deceived her brother consort Cronus by giving him a stone wrapped to look like a baby instead of Zeus. Since she instead gave the infant Zeus to Adamanthea to nurse in a cave on a mountain in Crete, it is clear that Adamanthea is a doublet of Amalthea.

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Neanderthal Child Eaten by a Giant Bird

Until recently, the oldest human fossil remains ever discovered in Poland were three molars found in Cave Stajnia, in the Krakow-Czestochowa Upland. Those molars were estimated to be between 42-52,000 years old. According to Science in Poland, that discovery has recently been blown away. A pair of finger bones belonging to a young Neanderthal child have been found in Cave Ciemna. The bones appear to have been digested by a large bird and are estimated to be about 115,000 years old.

Bones Reveal Neanderthal Child was Eaten by a Giant Prehistoric Bird

 

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Skara Brae (Scotland)

Bilderesultat for Skara Brae

Skara Brae is a stone-built Neolithic settlement that is older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids, it has been called the “Scottish Pompeii” because of its excellent preservation. It gained UNESCO World Heritage Site status as one of four sites making up “The Heart of Neolithic Orkney”.

It is located on the Bay of Skaill on the west coast of Mainland, the largest island in the Orkney archipelago of Scotland. Consisting of eight clustered houses, it was occupied from roughly 3180 BC to about 2500 BC and is Europe’s most complete Neolithic village.

Skara Brae (Scotland) is associated with haplogroup G2a and I2b. The testing of Neolithic remains in various parts of Europe has confirmed that haplogroup G2a was the dominant lineages of Neolithic farmers and herders who migrated from Anatolia to Europe between 9,000 and 6,000 years ago.

As of late 2016, there were 303 mutations (SNPs) defining haplogroup G, confirming that this paternal lineage experienced a severe bottleneck before splitting into haplogroups G1 and G2. G1 might have originated around modern Iran at the start of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), some 26,000 years ago. G2 would have developed around the same time in West Asia. At that time humans would all have been hunter-gatherers, and in most cases living in small nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes.

The highest genetic diversity within haplogroup G is found in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent, between the Levant and the Caucasus, which is a good indicator of its region of origin. It is thought that early Neolithic farmers expanded from northern Mesopotamia westwards to Anatolia and Europe, eastwards to South Asia, and southwards to the Arabian peninsula and North and East Africa.

Members of haplogroup G2 appear to have been closely linked to the development of early agriculture in the Fertile Crescent part, starting 11,500 years before present. The G2a branch expanded to Anatolia, the Caucasus and Europe, while G2b diffused from Iran across the Fertile Crescent and east to Pakistan.

There has so far been ancient Y-DNA analysis from Early Neolithic Anatolia, Iran, Israel, Jordan as well as most Neolithic cultures in Europe (Thessalian Neolithic in Greece, Starčevo culture in Hungary/Croatia, LBK culture in Germany, Remedello in Italy, and Cardium Pottery in south-west France and Spain) and all sites yielded a majority of G2a individuals, except those from the Levant. This strongly suggests that farming was disseminated by members of haplogroup G at least from Anatolia/Iran to Europe.

Haplogroup_G2a_Y-DNA.shtml

Scottish Farmer Discovers 5,000-Year-Old Lost City

 

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Ashvini – Sagittarius and Gemini

Ashvini

Ashvin, Ashwin or Ashwan, also known as Aswayuja, is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, the Vikram Samvat, the solar calendar where it is known as Aipassi and the solar India’s national calender, which is the official solar calendar of modern-day Nepal and India, and the sixth month in the solar Bengali calendar and seventh in the lunar Indian national calendar of the Deccan Plateau.

It falls in the season of Shôrot, (Hindi Sharad) or Autumn. In Vedic Jyotish, Ashwin begins with the Sun’s enter in Virgo. It overlaps September and October of the Gregorian calendar and is the month preceding Diwali or Tihar, the festival of lights. In lunar religious calendars, Ashwin begins on the new moon after the autumn equinox. Ashwin is known as aipasi in Tamil and begins when the sun enters Libra in October.

Ashvini is the first star that appears in the evening sky. It is the first nakshatra (lunar mansion), or the first of the 27 Nakshatra, 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.

It is ruled by Ketu, the descending lunar node. 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.

Asawin is the Thai variant of Ashvin and stands for the warrior. The term is often translated into English as “knight”. Ashvin also stands for the divine twins, the Ashvins, the gods of vision, Ayurvedic medicine, the glow of sunrise and sunset, and averting misfortune and sickness in Hindu mythology.

Asvini is ruled by the Ashvins, the heavenly twins who served as physicians to the gods. 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 name aśvinī is used by Varahamihira (6th century). The older name of the asterism, found in the Atharvaveda (in the dual) and in Panini was aśvayúj (“harnessing horses”).

Aries

Aries (Latin for “ram”) is the first astrological sign in the zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°), and originates from the constellation of the same name. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign from approximately March 20 to April 21 each year. According to the tropical system of astrology, the Sun enters the sign of Aries when it reaches the March equinox, which occurs on average on March 21 (by design).

Aries is the first fire sign in the zodiac, the other fire signs being Leo and Sagittarius. In Greek Mythology, the symbol of the ram is based on the Chrysomallus, the flying ram that rescued Phrixus and Helle, the children of the Boeotian king Athamas and provided the Golden Fleece. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship. It was strongly associated with Mars, both the planet and the god.

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.

The poem Inanna Prefers the Farmer begins with a rather playful conversation between Inanna and her brother Utu, who incrementally reveals to her that it is time for her to marry. Dumuzid comes to court her, along with a farmer named Enkimdu, the Sumerian god of farming, in charge of canals and ditches, a task assigned to him by the water god Enki during his organization of the world.

At first, Inanna prefers the farmer, but Utu and Dumuzid gradually persuade her that Dumuzid is the better choice for a husband, arguing that, for every gift the farmer can give to her, the shepherd can give her something even better. In the end, Inanna marries Dumuzid.

The shepherd and the farmer reconcile their differences, offering each other gifts. Samuel Noah Kramer compares the myth to the Biblical story of Cain and Abel because both myths center around a farmer and a shepherd competing for divine favor and, in both stories, the deity in question ultimately chooses the shepherd.

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

According to the scholar Samuel Noah Kramer, towards the end of the third millennium BC, kings of Uruk may have established their legitimacy by taking on the role of Dumuzid as part of a “sacred marriage” ceremony.

This ritual lasted for one night on the tenth day of the Akitu, the Sumerian new year festival, which was celebrated annually at the spring equinox. As part of the ritual, it was thought that the king would engage in ritualized sexual intercourse with the high priestess of Inanna, who took on the role of the goddess.

In the late twentieth century, the historicity of the sacred marriage ritual was treated by scholars as more-or-less an established fact, but, in the early 2000s, largely due to the writings of Pirjo Lapinkivi, many scholars began to reject the notion of an actual sex ritual, instead seeing “sacred marriage” as a symbolic rather than a physical union.

In ancient Egyptian astronomy, Aries was associated with the god Amon-Ra, who was depicted as a man with a ram’s head and represented fertility and creativity. This is one of the reasons why the sign is associated with the bull. Because it was the location of the vernal equinox, it was called the “Indicator of the Reborn Sun”.

During the times of the year when Aries was prominent, priests would process statues of Amon-Ra to temples, a practice that was modified by Persian astronomers centuries later. Aries acquired the title of “Lord of the Head” in Egypt, referring to its symbolic and mythological importance.

Aries was not fully accepted as a constellation until classical times. In Hellenistic astrology, the constellation of Aries is associated with the golden ram of Greek mythology that rescued Phrixus and Helle on orders from Hermes, taking Phrixus to the land of Colchis. Phrixos and Helle were the son and daughter of King Athamas and his first wife Nephele. The king’s second wife, Ino, was jealous and wished to kill his children.

To accomplish this, she induced a famine in Boeotia, then falsified a message from the Oracle of Delphi that said Phrixos must be sacrificed to end the famine. Athamas was about to sacrifice his son atop Mount Laphystium when Aries, sent by Nephele, arrived. Helle fell off of Aries’s back in flight and drowned in the Dardanelles, also called the Hellespont in her honor.

After arriving, Phrixus sacrificed the ram to Zeus and gave the Fleece to Aeëtes of Colchis, who rewarded him with an engagement to his daughter Chalciope. Aeëtes hung its skin in a sacred place where it became known as the Golden Fleece and was guarded by a dragon. In a later myth, this Golden Fleece was stolen by Jason and the Argonauts.

Historically, Aries has been depicted as a crouched, wingless ram with its head turned towards Taurus. Ptolemy asserted in his Almagest that Hipparchus depicted Alpha Arietis as the ram’s muzzle, though Ptolemy did not include it in his constellation figure. Instead, it was listed as an “unformed star”, and denoted as “the star over the head”. John Flamsteed, in his Atlas Coelestis, followed Ptolemy’s description by mapping it above the figure’s head. Flamsteed followed the general convention of maps by depicting Aries lying down.

The First Point of Aries, the location of the vernal equinox, is named for the constellation. This is because the Sun crossed the celestial equator from south to north in Aries more than two millennia ago. Hipparchus defined it as a point south of Gamma Arietis in 130 BC.

Because of the precession of the equinoxes, the First Point of Aries has since moved into Pisces and will move into Aquarius by around 2600 AD. The Sun now appears in Aries from late April through mid May, though the constellation is still associated with the beginning of spring.

Medieval Muslim astronomers depicted Aries in various ways. Astronomers like al-Sufi saw the constellation as a ram, modeled on the precedent of Ptolemy. However, some Islamic celestial globes depicted Aries as a nondescript four-legged animal with what may be antlers instead of horns.

Some early Bedouin observers saw a ram elsewhere in the sky; this constellation featured the Pleiades as the ram’s tail. The generally accepted Arabic formation of Aries consisted of thirteen stars in a figure along with five “unformed” stars, four of which were over the animal’s hindquarters and one of which was the disputed star over Aries’s head.[20] Al-Sufi’s depiction differed from both other Arab astronomers’ and Flamsteed’s, in that his Aries was running and looking behind itself.

The obsolete constellations introduced in Aries (Musca Borealis, Lilium, Vespa, and Apes) have all been composed of the northern stars. Musca Borealis was created from the stars 33 Arietis, 35 Arietis, 39 Arietis, and 41 Arietis. In 1612, Petrus Plancius introduced Apes, a constellation representing a bee. In 1624, the same stars were used by Jakob Bartsch to create a constellation called Vespa, representing a wasp. In 1679 Augustin Royer used these stars for his constellation Lilium, representing the fleur-de-lis.

None of these constellation became widely accepted. Johann Hevelius renamed the constellation “Musca” in 1690 in his Firmamentum Sobiescianum. To differentiate it from Musca, the southern fly, it was later renamed Musca Borealis but it did not gain acceptance and its stars were ultimately officially reabsorbed into Aries.

In 1922, the International Astronomical Union defined its recommended three-letter abbreviation, “Ari”. The official boundaries of Aries were defined in 1930 by Eugène Delporte as a polygon of 12 segments. Its right ascension is between 1h 46.4m and 3h 29.4m and its declination is between 10.36° and 31.22° in the equatorial coordinate system.

In Hebrew astronomy Aries was named “Taleh”; it signified either Simeon or Gad, and generally symbolizes the “Lamb of the World”. The neighboring Syrians named the constellation “Amru”, and the bordering Turks named it “Kuzi”.

In traditional Chinese astronomy, stars from Aries were used in several constellations. The brightest stars—Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Arietis—formed a constellation called Lou (婁), variously translated as “bond”, “lasso”, and “sickle”, which was associated with the ritual sacrifice of cattle. This name was shared by the 16th lunar mansion, the location of the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. The lunar mansion represented the area where animals were gathered before sacrifice around that time.

This constellation has also been associated with harvest-time as it could represent a woman carrying a basket of food on her head. 35, 39, and 41 Arietis were part of a constellation called Wei (胃), which represented a fat abdomen and was the namesake of the 17th lunar mansion, which represented granaries.

Delta and Zeta Arietis were a part of the constellation Tianyin (天陰), thought to represent the Emperor’s hunting partner. Zuogeng (左更), a constellation depicting a marsh and pond inspector, was composed of Mu, Nu, Omicron, Pi, and Sigma Arietis. He was accompanied by Yeou-kang, a constellation depicting an official in charge of pasture distribution.

In a similar system to the Chinese, the first lunar mansion in Hindu astronomy was called “Aswini”, after the traditional names for Beta and Gamma Arietis, the Aswins. Because the Hindu new year began with the vernal equinox, the Rig Veda contains over 50 new-year’s related hymns to the twins, making them some of the most prominent characters in the work. Aries itself was known as “Aja” and “Mesha”.

Mesha

Meṣa, or Mesha, is a month in the Indian solar calendar. It corresponds to the zodiacal sign of Aries, and overlaps with about the second half of April and about the first half of May in the Gregorian calendar. In Vedic texts, the Mesa month is called Madhu, but in these ancient texts it has no zodiacal associations.

The Mesha is preceded by the solar month of Mīna, a month in the Indian solar calendar that corresponds to the zodiacal sign of Pisces, and overlaps with about the later half of March and about the early half of April in the Gregorian calendar.

It is followed by the solar month of Vṛṣabha, or Vrishabha, that corresponds to the zodiacal sign of Taurus, and overlaps with about the second half of May and about the first half of June in the Gregorian calendar.

In Vedic texts, the Mina month is called Tapasya, but in these ancient texts it has no zodiacal associations. The solar month of Mina overlaps with its lunar month Chaitra, in Hindu lunisolar calendars. The Mina marks the spring season for the Indian subcontinent. The Mina month is called Panguni in the Tamil Hindu calendar, and is its last month in the traditional calendar.

In Vedic texts, the Vrsabha month is called Madhava, but in these ancient texts it has no zodiacal associations. The solar month of Vrsabha overlaps with its lunar month Jyeshtha, in Hindu lunisolar calendars. The Vrsabha month is called Vaikasi in the Tamil Hindu calendar.

Vaisakha

The solar month of Mesha overlaps with its lunar month Vaisakha (Kannada: Vaiśākha; Malayalam: Vaiśākham; Marathi: Vaiśākh; Bengali: Boiśākh; Tamil: Vaikāci; Hindi: Baisākh; Nepali: Odia: Baiśākh, Bengali: boisakh, Assamese: Bohag), in Hindu lunisolar calendars that corresponds to April/May/June in the Gregorian Calendar.

Regional calendars used in the Indian subcontinent have two aspects: lunar and solar. Lunar months begin with Chaitra and solar months start with Vaisakha Sankranti. However, regional calendars mark when the official new year is celebrated.

In Indian national calendar, Vaisakha is the second month of the year. It is the first month of the Vikram Samvat calendar, Nepali calendar, Odia calendar, Punjabi calendar, Assamese calendar (where it is called Bohag) and the Bengali calendar (where it is called Boishakh). This month lies between the second half of April and the first half of May.

In regions such as Maharashtra which begin the official new year with the commencement of the lunar year, the solar year is marked by celebrating Vaisakha Sankranti. Conversely, regions starting the new year with Vaisakha Sankranti, give prominence to the start of the lunar year in Chaitra.

In the Hindu solar calendar, Vaisakha begins in mid-April in Bengal, Nepal, and Punjab. In Tamil Nadu, it is known as Vaikasi and represents the second month of the Tamil solar calendar. In the Hindu lunar calendar, Vaisakha begins with the new moon in April and represents the second month of the lunar year. The name of the month is derived from the position of the moon near the star Vishakha on full moon day.

The month of Boishakh also marks the official start of Summer. The month is notorious for the afternoon storms called Kalboishakhi (Nor’wester). The storms usually start with strong gusts from the north-western direction at the end of a hot day and cause widespread destruction.

Madhusudana

In Vedic calendar the month of Vaisakha is called Madhav, and in Vaishnav (also called Vishnuism) calendar it is called Madhushudan month. In the Vaishnava calendar, Madhusudana, another name of Vishnu or God and is the 73rd name in the Vishnu sahasranama, governs this month. According to Adi Sankara’ s commentary on the Vishnu sahasranama, Madusudanah means the destroyer of the demon Madhu.

Madhu and Kaitabha, Rakshasas or demons of Hindu mythology, are associated with Hindu religious cosmology. They both originated from one of the ears of God Vishnu, while he was in the deep sleep of Yoganidra or yogic sleep, a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, like the “going-to-sleep” stage, typically induced by a guided meditation. From his navel, a lotus sprouted on which Brahma, the creator, was found sitting and contemplating the creation of the cosmos.

Bhagavata Purana states that during the creation, the demons Madhu and Kaitabha stole the Vedas from Brahma and deposited them deep inside the waters of the primeval ocean. Vishnu, in his manifestation as Hayagriva, also spelt Hayagreeva (lit. ‘Horse-neck’), a horse-headed avatar of the Lord Vishnu in Hinduism, killed them, and retrieved the Vedas. The bodies of Madhu and Kaitabha disintegrated into 2 times 6 — which is twelve pieces (two heads, two torsos, four arms and four legs). These are considered to represent the twelve seismic plates of the Earth.

According to another legend, Madhu and Kaitabha are considered demons, designed to annihilate Brahma. However, Brahma spotted them, and invoked the goddess Mahamaya, or Durga. At this point, Vishnu awoke, and the two conspiring demons were killed. This led to Vishnu being called Madhusudanah – the killer of Madhu and mahamaya came to be known as kaitabhi.

Hayagriva

In Hinduism, Lord Hayagriva is an avatar of Lord Vishnu. He is worshipped as the god of knowledge and wisdom, with a human body and a horse’s head, brilliant white in color, with white garments and seated on a white lotus. Symbolically, the story represents the triumph of pure knowledge, guided by the hand of God, over the demonic forces of passion and darkness.

Origins about the worship of Hayagriva have been researched, some of the early evidences dates back to 2,000 BCE, when people worshipped the horse for its speed, strength, intelligence. Hayagriva is one of the prominent deities in Vaikhanasas, Sri Vaishnavism and Madhwa Brahmins traditions.

His blessings are sought when beginning study of both sacred and secular subjects. Special worship is conducted on the day of the full moon in August (Śravaṇa-Paurṇamī) (his avatāra-dina) and on Mahanavami, the ninth day of the Navaratri festival. He is also hailed as “Hayasirsa”. Hayaśirṣa means haya=Horse, śirṣa=Head.

Yoga nidra

Yoga nidra is a state in which the body is completely relaxed, and the practitioner becomes systematically and increasingly aware of the inner world by following a set of verbal instructions. This state of consciousness is different from meditation, in which concentration on a single focus is required.

In yoga nidra the practitioner remains in a state of light withdrawal of the 5 senses (pratyahara) with four senses internalised, that is, withdrawn, and only hearing still connects to any instructions given. The goals of both yogic paths, yoga nidra and meditation are the same, a state of meditative consciousness called samadhi.

It is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness. In lucid dreaming, one is only, or mainly, cognizant of the dream environment, and has little or no awareness of one’s actual environment. Yoga nidra results in conscious awareness of the deep sleep state, which is called prajna in the Mandukya Upanishad.

It is said that the history of yoga nidra is as old as yoga itself, as the first mention of yoga nidra is in the Upanishads. Lord Krishna is associated with yoga nidra in the epic Mahabharata: [The Ocean] becomes the bed of the lotus-naveled Vishnu when at the termination of every Yuga that deity of immeasurable power enjoys yoga-nidra, the deep sleep under the spell of spiritual meditation (Mahabharata, Book 1, section XXI).

Durga

Durga, identified as Adi Parashakti, is a principal and popular form of the Hindu Goddess. She is a goddess of war, the warrior form of Parvati, whose mythology centres around combating evils and demonic forces that threaten peace, prosperity, and Dharma the power of good over evil. Durga is also a fierce form of the protective mother goddess, who unleashes her divine wrath against the wicked for the liberation of the oppressed, and entails destruction to empower creation.

Durga is depicted in the Hindu pantheon as a Goddess riding a lion or tiger, with many arms each carrying a weapon, often defeating Mahishasura (lit. buffalo demon). The three principal forms of Durga worshiped are Maha Durga, Chandika and Aparajita. Of these, Chandika has two forms called Chandi who is of the combined power and form of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati and of Chamunda who is a form of Kali created by the goddess for killing demons Chanda and Munda.

Maha Durga has three forms: Ugrachanda, Bhadrakali and Katyayani. Bhadrakali Durga is also worshiped in the form of her nine epithets called Navadurga. She is a central deity in Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, where she is equated with the concept of ultimate reality called Brahman. One of the most important texts of Shaktism is Devi Mahatmya, also known as Durgā Saptashatī or Chandi patha, which celebrates Durga as the goddess, declaring her as the supreme being and the creator of the universe

Navaratri[a]

Navaratri[a] is a Hindu festival that spans nine nights (and ten days) and is celebrated every year in the autumn. It is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian cultural sphere. The word Navaratri means ‘nine nights’ in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights.

Theoretically, there are four seasonal Navaratri. However, in practice, it is the post-monsoon autumn festival called Sharada Navaratri that is the most observed in the honor of the divine feminine Devi (Durga). The festival is celebrated in the bright half of the Hindu calendar month Ashvin, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.

In the eastern and northeastern states of India, the Durga Puja is synonymous with Navaratri, wherein goddess Durga battles and emerges victorious over the buffalo demon to help restore Dharma. In the northern and western states, the festival is synonymous with “Rama Lila” and Dussehra that celebrates the battle and victory of god Rama over the demon king Ravana.

In southern states, the victory of different goddesses, of Rama or Saraswati is celebrated. In all cases, the common theme is the battle and victory of Good over Evil based on a regionally famous epic or legend such as the Ramayana or the Devi Mahatmya.

Celebrations include stage decorations, recital of the legend, enacting of the story, and chanting of the scriptures of Hinduism. The nine days are also a major crop season cultural event, such as competitive design and staging of pandals, a family visit to these pandals and the public celebration of classical and folk dances of Hindu culture.

On the final day, called the Vijayadashami or Dussehra, the statues are either immersed in a water body such as river and ocean, or alternatively the statue symbolizing the evil is burnt with fireworks marking evil’s destruction.

The festival also starts the preparation for one of the most important and widely celebrated holidays, Diwali, the festival of lights, which is celebrated twenty days after the Vijayadashami or Dussehra or Dashain.

According to some Hindu texts such as the Shakta and Vaishnava Puranas, Navaratri theoretically falls twice or four times a year. In all cases, Navaratri falls in the bright half of the Hindu lunisolar months. The celebrations vary by region, leaving much to the creativity and preferences of the Hindu.

Of these, the Sharada Navaratri near autumn equinox (September–October) is the most celebrated and the Vasanta Navaratri near spring equinox (March–April) is the next most significant to the culture of the Indian subcontinent.

Sharada Navaratri is the most celebrated of the four Navaratri, named after Sharada which means autumn. It commences on the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvini (post-monsoon, September–October). In many regions, the festival falls after the autumn harvest, and in others during harvest.

The festival is celebrated for nine nights once every year during this month, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October. The exact dates of the festival are determined according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar, and sometimes the festival may be held for a day more or a day less depending on the adjustments for sun and moon movements and the leap year.

The festivities extend beyond goddess Durga and god Rama. Various other goddesses such as Saraswati and Lakshmi, gods such as Ganesha, Kartikeya, Shiva, and Krishna are regionally revered. For example, a notable pan-Hindu tradition during Navaratri is the adoration of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, learning, music, and arts through Ayudha Puja.

On this day, which typically falls on the ninth day of Navaratri after the Good has won over Evil through Durga or Rama, peace and knowledge is celebrated. Warriors thank, decorate and worship their weapons, offering prayers to Saraswati. Musicians upkeep their musical instruments, play and pray to them.

Farmers, carpenters, smiths, pottery makers, shopkeepers and all sorts of tradespeople similarly decorate and worship their equipment, machinery, and tools of trade. Students visit their teachers, express respect and seek their blessings. This tradition is particularly strong in South India, but is observed elsewhere too.

Vasanta Navaratri is the second most celebrated, named after vasanta which means spring. It is observed the lunar month of Chaitra (post-winter, March–April). In many regions the festival falls after spring harvest, and in others during harvest.

The other two Navratris are observed regionally or by individuals: Magha Navaratri: in Magha (January–February), winter season. Ashada Navaratri: in Ashadha (June–July), the start of the monsoon season.

The fifth day of Magha Navaratri is often independently observed as Vasant Panchami or Basant Panchami, the official start of spring in the Hindu tradition wherein goddess Saraswati is revered through arts, music, writing, kite flying. In some regions, the Hindu god of love, Kama is revered.

Pôhela Boishak

In Bengali, the word Pahela means ‘first’ and Baishakh. Pahela Baishakh or Bangla Nabobarsho is the first month of the Bengali calendar. The first day of Baishakh, the first day of Bengali Calendar, is celebrated as the Pahela Baishakh or Bangla Nabobarsho, New Year’s Day. The traditional greeting for Bengali New Year is “Shubho Nabobarsho” which is literally “Happy New Year”.

Bengali people of India have historically celebrated Pahela Baishakh, and it is an official regional holiday in its states of West Bengal and Tripura. The festival date is set according to the lunisolar Bengali calendar as the first day of its first month Baishakh. It therefore almost always falls on or about 14 April every year on the Gregorian calendar.

It is celebrated on 14 April as a national holiday in Bangladesh, and on 14 or 15 April in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and part of Assam by people of Bengali heritage, irrespective of their religious faith. The day is observed with cultural programs, festivals and carnivals all around the country. The day of is also the beginning of all business activities in Bangladesh and neighboring Indian state of West Bengal.

The festival is celebrated with processions, fairs and family time. The traders starts new fiscal account book called Halkhata. The accounting in the Halkhata begins only after this day. It is celebrated with sweets and gifts with customers. The festive Mangal Shobhajatra is organized in Bangladesh. In 2016, the UNESCO declared this festivity organized by the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka as a cultural heritage of humanity.

The same day is observed elsewhere as the traditional solar new year and a harvest festival, and is known by other names such as Vaisakhi in central and north India, Vishu in Kerala and Puthandu in Tamil Nadu.

Narasimha

Vaisakha sukla chaturdasi is celebrated as Narasimha Jayanthi Festival in Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swamivari Temple at Simhachalam. Narasimha (Sanskrit: Narasiṃha, consisting of the two words “nara” which means man, and “simha” which means lion; lit. man-lion) is a fierce avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, one who incarnates in the form of part lion and part man to destroy evil and end religious persecution and calamity on Earth, thereby restoring Dharma.

Narasimha is a significant iconic symbol of creative resistance, hope against odds, victory over persecution, and destruction of evil. He is the destructor of not only external evil, but also one’s own inner evil of “body, speech, and mind” states Pratapaditya Pal.

In South Indian art – sculptures, bronzes and paintings – Viṣṇu’s incarnation as Narasiṃha is one of the most chosen themes and amongst Avatāras perhaps next only to Rāma and Kṛṣṇa in popularity. Lord Narasiṃha also appears as one of Hanuman’s 5 faces, who is a significant character in the Rāmāyaṇa as Lord (Rāma’s) devotee.

Narasimha is known primarily as the ‘Great Protector’ who specifically defends and protects his devotees from evil. Narasimha iconography shows him with a human torso and lower body, with a lion face and claws, typically with a demon Hiranyakashipu in his lap whom he is in the process of killing.

The most popular Narasimha mythology is the legend that protects his devotee Prahlada, and creatively destroys Prahlada’s demonic father and tyrant Hiranyakashipu. The demon is powerful brother of evil Hiranyaksha who had been previously killed by Vishnu, who hated Vishnu for killing his brother.

Hiranyakashipu gains special powers by which he could not be killed during the day or night, inside or outside, by any weapon, and by man or animal. Endowed with new powers, Hiranyakashipu creates chaos, persecutes all devotees of Vishnu including his own son. Vishnu understands the demon’s power, then creatively adapts into a mixed avatar that is neither man nor animal and kills the demon at the junction of day and night, inside and outside.

Narasimha legends are revered in Vaikhanasas, Sri Vaishnavism, Madhwa Brahmins but he is a popular deity beyond these Vaishnava traditions such as in Shaivism. He is celebrated in many regional Hindu temples, texts, performance arts and festivals such as Holika prior to the Hindu spring festival of colors called Holi.

The oldest known artwork of Narasimha has been found at several sites across Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, such as at the Mathura archaeological site. These have been variously dated between 2nd and 4th-century CE.

Buddha

Vaisakha Purnima is celebrated as Buddha Purnima or the birthday of Gautama Buddha amongst Buddhists of South and Southeast Asia, Tibet and Mongolia. Purnima refers to the Full Moon. Known in Sinhalese as Vesak, it is observed in the full moon of May.

Kartikeya

Vaishakha Purnima is known as “vaikasi vishakam” in Tamil Nadu which is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Murugan. Kartikeya, also known as Murugan, Skanda, Kumara, and Subrahmanya, is the Hindu god of war. He is the son of Parvati and Shiva, brother of Ganesha, and a god whose life story has many versions in Hinduism.

Kartikeya is an ancient god, traceable to the Vedic era. Archaeological evidence from 1st-century CE and earlier, where he is found with Hindu god Agni (fire), suggest that he was a significant deity in early Hinduism. He is found in many medieval temples all over India, such as at the Ellora Caves and Elephanta Caves.

The iconography of Kartikeya varies significantly; he is typically represented as an ever-youthful man, riding or near a peacock, dressed with weapons sometimes near a rooster. According to the Talmudists, his emblem was a cockerel and Nergal means a “dunghill cock”, although standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion.

Most icons show him with one head, but some show him with six heads reflecting the legend surrounding his birth where six mothers symbolizing the six stars of Pleiades cluster who took care of newly born baby Kartikeya. He grows up quickly into a philosopher-warrior, destroys evil in the form of demon Taraka, teaches the pursuit of ethical life and the theology of Shaiva Siddhanta.

Lahamu and Lahmu

Lahamu (also Lakhamu, Lachos, Lumasi, or Assyro-Akkadian Lammasu), meaning parent star or constellation, was the name of a protective and beneficent deity, the first-born daughter of Tiamat and Abzu in Akkadian mythology. With her brother Lahmu (also called Lakhmu, Lache, Lumasi or Assyro-Akkadian Lammasu) she is the mother of Anshar and Kishar, who were in turn parents of the first gods.

Lahamu is sometimes seen as a serpent, and sometimes as a woman with a red sash and six curls on her head. It is suggested that the pair were represented by the silt of the sea-bed, but more accurately are known to be the representations of the zodiac, parent-stars, or constellations.

They are the parents of Anshar and Kishar, the sky father and earth mother, who birthed the gods of the Mesopotamian Pantheon. Laḫmu is depicted as a bearded man with a red sash – usually with three strands – and four to six curls on his head and they are also depicted as monsters, which each encompasses a specific constellation. He is often associated with the Kusarikku or “Bull-Man”.

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

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

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

Tiamat

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”.

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

This angered Kingu, their son, who reported the event to Tiamat, whereupon she fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu’s death. These were her own offspring: Bašmu (“Venomous Snake”), Ušumgallu (“Great Dragon”), Mušmaḫḫū (“Exalted Serpent”), Mušḫuššu (“Furious Snake”), Laḫmu (the “Hairy One”), Ugallu (the “Big Weather-Beast”), Uridimmu (“Mad Lion”), Girtablullû (“Scorpion-Man”), Umū dabrūtu (“Violent Storms”), Kulullû (“Fish-Man”) and Kusarikku (“Bull-Man”).

Tiamat possessed the Tablet of Destinies and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children.

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

Slicing Tiamat in half, he made from her ribs the vault of heaven and earth. Her weeping eyes became the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates, her tail became the Milky Way. With the approval of the elder deities, he took from Kingu the Tablet of Destinies, installing himself as the head of the Babylonian pantheon. Kingu was captured and later was slain: his red blood mixed with the red clay of the Earth would make the body of humankind, created to act as the servant of the younger Igigi deities.

Lamassu

A lamassu (Cuneiform: an.kal; Sumerian: dlammař; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus) is a Sumerian protective deity, often depicted as having a human head, the body of a bull or a lion, and bird wings. In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity. A less frequently used name is shedu (Cuneiform: an.kal×bad; Sumerian: dalad; Akkadian, šēdu), which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu. Lammasu represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations.

The motif of a winged animal with a human head is common to the Near East, first recorded in Ebla around 3000 BCE. The first distinct lamassu motif appeared in Assyria during the reign of Tiglath-Pileser II as a symbol of power. In Hittite, the Sumerian form dlamma is used both as a name for the so-called “tutelary deity”, identified in certain later texts with Inara, and a title given to similar protective gods.

Lamassu represent the zodiacs, parent-stars, or constellations. They are depicted as protective deities because they encompass all life within them. In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, they are depicted as physical deities as well, which is where the lammasu iconography originates, these deities could be microcosms of their microcosmic zodiac, parent-star, or constellation.

To protect houses, the lamassu were engraved in clay tablets, which were then buried under the door’s threshold. They were often placed as a pair at the entrance of palaces. At the entrance of cities, they were sculpted in colossal size, and placed as a pair, one at each side of the door of the city, that generally had doors in the surrounding wall, each one looking towards one of the cardinal points.

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

In art, lamassu were depicted as hybrids, with bodies of either winged bulls or lions and heads of human males. 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.

Papsukkal

The Akkadians associated the god Papsukkal with a lamassu and the god Išum with shedu. Papsukkal is the messenger god in the Akkadian pantheon. He is identified in late Akkadian texts and is known chiefly from the Hellenistic period. His consort is Amasagnul, and he acts as both messenger and gatekeeper for the rest of the pantheon.

A sanctuary, the E-akkil is identified from the Mesopotamian site of Mkish. Papsukkal was syncretized with Ninshubur, the messenger of the goddess Inanna. Papsukkal was the regent of the tenth month in the Babylonian calendar.

Ishum

Ishum is a minor god in Akkadian mythology, the brother of Shamash and an attendant of Erra. He may have been a god of fire and, according to texts, led the gods in war as a herald but was nonetheless generally regarded as benevolent.

Ishum is known particularly from the Babylonian legend of Erra and Ishum. He developed from the Sumerian figure of Endursaga, the herald god in the Sumerian mythology who leads the pantheon, particularly in times of conflict.

Erra

Erra (sometimes called Irra) is an Akkadian plague god known from an ‘epos’ of the eighth century BCE. Erra is the god of mayhem and pestilence who is responsible for periods of political confusion. In the epic that is given the modern title Erra, the writer Kabti-ilani-Marduk, a descendant, he says, of Dabibi, presents himself in a colophon following the text as simply the transcriber of a visionary dream in which Erra himself revealed the text.

The poem opens with an invocation. The god Erra is sleeping fitfully with his consort (identified with Mamītum and not with the mother goddess Mami) but is roused by his advisor Išum and the Seven (Sibitti or Sebetti), who are the sons of heaven and earth “champions without peer” is the repeated formula—and are each assigned a destructive destiny by Anu. Machinist and Sasson (1983) call them “personified weapons”.

The Sibitti call on Erra to lead the destruction of mankind. Išum tries to mollify Erra’s wakened violence, to no avail. Foreign peoples invade Babylonia, but are struck down by plague. Even Marduk, the patron of Babylon, relinquishes his throne to Erra for a time.

Tablets II and III are occupied with a debate between Erra and Išum. Erra goes to battle in Babylon, Sippar, Uruk, Dūr-Kurigalzu and Dēr. The world is turned upside down: righteous and unrighteous are killed alike. Erra orders Išum to complete the work by defeating Babylon’s enemies. Then the god withdraws to his own seat in Emeslam with the terrifying Seven, and mankind is saved. A propitiatory prayer ends the work.

Nergal, Nirgal, or Nirgali (Sumerian: dKIŠ.UNU or dGÌR-UNUG-GAL) is a deity that was worshipped throughout ancient Mesopotamia (Akkad, Assyria, and Babylonia) with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. Other names for him are Erra and Irra.

Shivini

Shivini (also known as Siuini, Artinis, Ardinis) was a solar god in the mythology of the Armenian kingdom of Urartu. He is the third god in a triad with Khaldi and Theispas. The Assyrian god Shamash is a counterpart to Shivini. He was depicted as a man on his knees, holding up a solar disc. His wife was most likely a goddess called Tushpuea who is listed as the third goddess on the Mheri-Dur inscription.

Shiva

Shiva (Sanskrit: Śiva, lit. the auspicious one) also known as Mahadeva (lit. the great god) is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is one of the supreme beings within Shaivism, one of the major traditions within 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.Mars is the traditional ruling planet of Aries and Scorpio and is exalted in Capricorn.

Shiva is known as “The Destroyer” within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. In Shaivism tradition, Shiva is one of the supreme beings who creates, protects and transforms the universe. According to the Shaivism sect, the highest form of Ishvar is formless, limitless, transcendent and unchanging absolute Brahman, and the primal Atman (soul, self) of the universe.

In the Shaktism tradition, the Goddess, or Devi, is described as one of the 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 (Sati) the equal complementary partner of Shiva. He is one of the five equivalent deities in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta tradition of Hinduism.

There are many both benevolent and fearsome depictions of Shiva. 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 iconographical attributes of Shiva are the serpent around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the third eye on his forehead, the trishula or trident, as his weapon, and the damaru drum. He is usually worshipped in the aniconic form of Lingam. Shiva is a pan-Hindu deity, revered widely by Hindus, in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

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. The planet was known by the ancient Egyptians as “Horus of the Horizon”, then later Her Deshur (“Ḥr Dšr”), or “Horus the Red”.

Ashwini

Ashvin also stands for the divine twins, the Ashvins, or Ashwini Kumaras (“horse possessors”; also spelled Ashvins), the twin Vedic gods of vision, Ayurvedic medicine, in Hindu mythology, the glow of sunrise and sunset, and averting misfortune and sickness in Hindu mythology.

The Aśvins are associated with the dawn and are described as youthful divine twin horsemen in the Rigveda, travelling in a chariot drawn by horses that are never weary.

They are an instance of the Proto-Indo-European divine horse twins. Their cognates in other Indo-European mythologies include the Baltic Ašvieniai, the Greek Castor and Polux; and possibly the English Hengist and Horsa, and the Welsh Bran and Manawydan.

Nasatya

The epithet Nasatya (possibly “saviours”; a derivate of nasatí, “safe return home”), a name that appears 99 times in the Rigveda, likely derives from the Proto-Indo-European root *nes-, “to return home (safely)”, with cognates in Avestan Nā̊ŋhaiθya, the name of a demon in the Zoroastrian religious system, in Greek Nestor and in Gothic nasjan (“save, heal”).

The first mention of the Nasatya twins is from the Mitanni documents of the second millennium BCE, where they are invoked in a treaty between Suppiluliuma and Shattiwaza, respectively kings of the Hittites and the Mitanni.

Apollo

Medicine and healing are associated with Apollo, whether through the god himself or mediated through his son Asclepius, and he delivered men from epidemics, yet Apollo is also a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague with his arrows.

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

Nergal

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

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

Gemini

Gemini is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for “twins,” and in Greek mythology it is associated with the two Dioscuri, or heavenly twins, Castor and Pollux, the children of Leda and Argonauts both. Pollux was the son of Zeus, who seduced Leda, while Castor was the son of Tyndareus, king of Sparta and Leda’s husband.

Mercury

Mercury is the ruling planet of both Virgo and Gemini and is exalted in Virgo and Aquarius. Uranus is the modern ruling planet of Aquarius and is exalted in Scorpio. Pluto is the modern ruling planet of Scorpio and is exalted in Virgo. Saturn is the traditional ruling planet of Capricorn and Aquarius and is exalted in Libra. Mars is the traditional ruling planet of Aries and Scorpio and is exalted in Capricorn.

Before the discovery of Uranus, Saturn was regarded as the ruling planet of Aquarius alongside Capricorn, which is the preceding sign. Anyway many traditional types of astrologers refer to Saturn as the planetary ruler for both Capricorn and Aquarius.

Isimud

Isimud (also Isinu; Usmû; Usumu (Akkadian)) is a minor god, the messenger of the god Enki, in Sumerian mythology. In ancient Sumerian artwork, Isimud is easily identifiable because he is always depicted with two faces facing in opposite directions in a way that is similar to the ancient Roman god Janus.

Isimud appears in the legend of Inanna and Enki, in which he is the one who greets Inanna upon her arrival to the E-Abzu temple in Eridu. He also is the one who informs Enki that the mes have been stolen. In the myth, Isimud also serves as a messenger, telling Inanna to return the mes to Enki or face the consequences.

Isimud plays a similar role to Ninshubur (also known as Ninshubar, Nincubura or Ninšubur), Inanna’s sukkal. Isimud also appears in the myth of Enki and Ninhursag, in which he acts as Enki’s messenger and emissary.

Ninshubur

Ninshubur was the sukkal or second-in-command of the goddess Inanna in Sumerian mythology. Her name means “Queen of the East” in ancient Sumerian. Much like Iris or Hermes in later Greek mythology, Ninshubur served as a messenger to the other gods.

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.

Janus and Jana

According to Macrobius who cites Nigidius Figulus and Cicero, Janus and Jana (Diana) are a pair of divinities, worshipped as Apollo or the sun and moon, whence Janus received sacrifices before all the others, because through him is apparent the way of access to the desired deity. Numa in his regulation of the Roman calendar called the first month Januarius after Janus, according to tradition considered the highest divinity at the time.

Solar interpretation

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

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