Category Archives: Notes

Sumerian Gods and Goddesses

Ancient Babylonian stories/myths. Older than Homer. Gilgamesh = king of Erech (2 thirds god, 1 third man). Found in Laibrary of assur-Bani-Pal (King of Assyria – 668 to 626 BC). Some tablets = 2000 BC.

Deluge = 11th tablet. Utnapishtim = also craftsmen/treasure into Ark. Babylonian counterpart of Noah. Hebrew deluge – derived – Gilgamesh Epic. Gilgamesh = mythical hero of Sumer, Babylonia. Originally Sumerian.

In Sumerian myth – aids goddess Inanna (she unable to cut down Huluppu tree). In the tree = snake, dangerous bird + Lilith. Gilgamesh chases then away, Drops Inanna’s gifts into the underworld.

Enkidu (Gilgamesh’s companion) goes after them. But, unable to return because he failed to observe precautions. His ghost returns. Converses with Gilgamesh. Ending unknown. Tablets = fragmentary.

Enkidu = friend of Gilgamesh. Moulded from clay (at first a wild man, living with beasts). Defeats Gilgamesh in wrestling.

Condemned to death by gods for slaying the Storm Bull of Heaven. Gilgamesh’s search for eternal life = result of grief over Enkidu’s death. Also – Sumerian.

Enki = Sumerian god of water + wisdom. Lived near Eridu in watery palace in the Abzu (Persian Gulf?). Eridu = Uruk (Persian Gulf?). Early counterpart of Babylonian Ea.

Responsible – ordering function of elements that affect life on earth. Provides land with water. Father of Uttu (goddess of plants). Rescued Inanna from the Underworld. Saved mankind from Deluge. Failed to make man.

Man moulded from clay by goddess Nintu.  Abzu = river arouns earth (same – = Greek Oceanus) = personified as Apsu (fresh water) – wife is Tiamat (salt water).

Enkimdu – Sumerian, farmer god. Dispute with Dumuzi (shepherd god) for favour of Inanna, and won. Apsu – see War of the Gods.

An – God of Heaven. Born of Nammu (primeval sea). An = same as Anu. An + Ki (sister wife, earth) – originally joined as one. Their offspring – Enlil (god of air) separated them. An replaced by Enlil as head of pantheon.

Ereshkigal – Queen of the Underworld. Carried off by Kur into underworld. Enki battled with Kur = unknown outcome. Ereshkigal reigns in underworld. Appears in myth = Ishtar? Tammuz (Babylonian).

Annunaki = deities of the underworld. Originally followers of Anu, Became gods of underworld where they were inferior to Ereshkigal. Endu = cult centre of Anki + Ea.

 

 

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Baba Yaga

[Gimbutas, M. (2001).  The Living Goddess.  Uni. California Press, USA].

Baba Yaga – known in Russian Folkore = witch, ogress, or crone goddess.

Ancient Slavic goddess – of death + regeneration. Slavic folktales – mainly Russian – lives in nocturnal darkness, deep in woods, far from men. Folktales – consistently depict her as an evil old hag who eats children, also as a wise, prophetic old woman.

She is tall, bony-legged, pestle-headed in appearance, long nose, dishevelled hair.

Baba Yaga

The Russian witch Baba Yaga at the Uglich Museum of Russian

Myths and Superstitions. Source: Public domain.

Bird = primary animal image, but can turn instantly into a > frog, toad, turtle, mouse, crab, vixen, bee, mare, goat, or inanimate object.

Never talks. Either flies (in a fiery mortar), or lies in her hut, on top of the oven, on a bench, stretched from one end of the hut to the other. The hut – supported on bird legs, able to turn on its axis. The hut = Baba Yaga herself.

hut

Baba Yaga’s Hut by Thomas Denmark. Source: public domain.

Linguistic analysis = reveals prehistoric characteristics. Yaga – from Proto-Slavic (y)ega = disease, fright, wrath. In Old Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovene – correlates with Lithuanian verb engti (strangle, press, torture).

Early form may be borrowed from the Proto-Samoyed nga = god, or god or goddess of death. Slavic etymon baba means grandmother, woman, cloud woman (a mythic being who produces rain).

Baba Yaga = avian nature = archetypal vulture and owl goddess of European prehistory, personifies death and regeneration. In Russian tales – eats humans like a pecking bird.

East Slavic areas – male counterpart = Koschei Bessmertnyi – Koschei the Immortal. Derived from kost = bone. Therefore – dying and rising god – cyclically dying and rising god. Koschei – Baba Yaga = his mother or aunt.

[Rjabchikov, S. V. Some Remarks on the Scythian and Samatian Religion. http://www.anthroglobe.info/docs/Sergei/Scythian-Sarmatian-religion.htm. (1.10.2010)].

Hut – Baba Yaga = 4 legs  27 rays = solar sign. Old Indian ‘hut’ = to shine, to be bright. Russian = hata = hut.

Tabiti = Scythian/Sarmatian goddess of the sun, fire, hearth. This “…corresponds to the characters  Baba Yaga ‘The Old Woman Yaga’, Rozhanitsa ‘The Woman Bearing’, and Makosh (Ma kosh) ‘The Solar Transport Army’ in the Russian mythology.” [Rybakov, B. A. (1987). Yacychestvo Brevney Rusi, Nauka, Moscow].

[Rjabchikov, S. V. The Scythian and Sarmat ian Sources of the Russian Mythology and Fairy Tales. http://www.anthropoglobe.info/docs/Sergei/Scythian-sarmatian-Russia. 1.10.2010].

Baba Yaga – corresponds – Scythian goddess Tabiti. Baba Yaga (Old Indian yaga = ‘sacrifice’ = closely related to the fire god Agni. Agni – major role Indo-Arian mythology (Neveleva, S. L. 1975.  Nauka, Moscow).

Baba Yaga – roles = donor, abductor, female warrior. Therefore – hint of Sarmatian women or Amazons.

Baba Yaga – main attributes = fire and horse. Prepares youth for marriage, and burning or boiling of children. She is a sun goddess. Her features = hearth, initiations, connected to the winds and has no husband.

Tabiti = goddess of hearth and home. Depicted on a gold badge – barrow = Chertomlyk. In May the goddess is called Makosh (Ma kosh) = solar transport.

Therefore “…the Great goddess depicted on Old Russian fibula and in the Slavonic art is indeed Makosh (Tabiti, Baba Yaga).” [Belyakova, G. S.  (1995).  Prosveshchenie, Moscow].

[Warner, M.  (1989).  No Go the Bogeyman].

Baba Yaga – the predatory witch – special liking for children. A definite and individual figure. Woodland cottage on chicken’s legs. Flies through the air in a pestle and mortar. Sweeps her tracks with a besom.

Thus – Baba Yaga; Old Hag Yaga = a crone. Fences her domain in forest with bones and skulls of her victims. Snapping teeth on her door as a lock. Hands bolt it, human limbs support it.

Sleeps on an oven at night. Therefore – close cousin of the witch in the gingerbread house of ‘Hansel and Gretel’. Clever children trick her into doing mischief to herself.

Yaga – term disputed > Slavic for ‘grudge’ or ‘brawl’. Baba Yaga – by no means always malignant.

Baba Yaga has witchy traits – in nursery lore often stands in for female ogre. Can take the form or shape of a birf, cat, simple old woman.

 

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The Cain and Abel Myth.

Rubens

Cain slaying his brother Abel (1660).  Peter Paul Rubens.

[Hooke. Middle Eastern Mythology. Pelican].

Definition of myth – explanations about conflict between natural and supernatural powers. About a world man does not know or understand. Involve man in the struggle in and with the natural world. Myths show how early people thought about the world. Myth can be spoken stories, written epics, or sagas etc.

The Myth of Cain and Abel – myth = breakdown of family relationship – brother slays brother. Cain and Abel myth – from different sources/tradition than creation myth (A & E). The myth – artificially linked to Hebrew creation myths – to give a continuous narrative. Myth = unrelated strands of tradition.

Composers, writers, editors of early Hebrew myths = 2 schools. The Yahwist (tradition of Yahweh or Jehovah), and Elohist (from Elohim). Elohim = plural of Hebrew Eloah = god. Jahweh =  Yahwe or Jehovah – Hebrew for the God of Israel. Active – period of early Hebrew kingship. Thus – two schools of thought = creation by Elohim and creation by Yahweh.

The Yahwist story = Cain + Abel = sons of Adam and Eve. Born after expulsion from Eden. Cain = agriculturalist. Abel = pastoralist (shepherd). Thus ‘And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.’ (Genesis 4.2).

Brothers > offerings to Yahweh. Cain > fruits of his labour on soil. Abel . firstlings from his flock (Genesis 4.4/5). Cain’s offering is rejected while Abel’s is rejected.

In anger at rejection of his offering Cain kills Abel. Thus @…when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and slew him.’ (Genesis 4.8).

The result = Jahweh curses Cain; flight of Cain; Jahweh = protective mark on Cain. Can then settles in Land of Nod (East of Eden). Cain builds a city – becomes ancestor of descendants in whom origins of civilisation are attributed (Cain = Smith).

Examination of the myth – according to the Yahwist – Adam, Eve, Cain + Abel = only people alive. Bith in the myth – Cain goes in fear of human vengeance. From this myth it can be assumed – civilisation + cities = metal, musical instruments + rituals of sacrifice (human).

All this civilisation = incompatible with beginnings of life and the expulsion from Paradise. There are 3 strands in the myth from three different ancient sources. The Yahwist wove them into one story.

Strand 1 = ancient feud between desert and sown land, between tillers of soil and nomads. This = subject of the earlier Sumerian myth of Dumuzi (Tammuz) and Enkidu. Dumuzi (shepherd god) and Enkidu (farmer god) contend with offerings to favour Inanna.

[Sumerians – Tigris and Euphrates > Persian Gulf. 5000 > 3000 years ago (4000 BC) = Sumerian city states. Time scale – 1750 BC = Babylonians conquer Sumer. The Sumerian Inanna = Babylonian Ishtar – goddess of love and fertility. Ishtar = Greek Aphrodite.

Strand 2 = Ritual myth – implies a developed society = established religious institutions. Cain + Abel = two communities – each with its own regular sacrifices. Rejection of Cain’s agricultural offering – represents crop failure. This requires a special ritual in expiation (Genesis 4.6-7). Thus – “Thou shalt rule over him.”  Agricultural cities shall triumph over pastoralists.

There exists a demonic power (robes) which has to be propitiated. Thus “…sin lieth at the door.” (Genesis 4.7). Lieth or croucheth was translated from a word of Akkadian or rabisu = the evil croucher. This demon lies in wait for his offering according to ancient Babylonian magical texts.

Cain invites Abel into the field. Just as Dumuzi invites Enkidu to pasture his sheep in his fields. It is in the field, in the tilled soil (crop failure) where Abel is killed. This suggests a ritual killing. A communal killing not a jealous fight between two brothers.

The ritual killing was done to soak the soil in blood in order to fertilise it. Thus “…the earth has opened her mouth to receive thy brothers blood from thy hand.” (Genesis 4.11). The “…blood from thy hand…” was therefore deliberately and ritually sprinkled.

There follows the curse of Cain (4.11) and his flight from the scene of the slaying. Cain receives a protective mark from Yahweh (4.15).

The explanation is that the mark prevented Cain from being attacked by others as ‘unclean’ for his part in the ritual sacrifice, as well as preventing him being recognised by the ghost of Abel (human assailants?). There are parallels to the Cain and Abel myth = (a) Babylonian New Year Festival; (b) Athenian ritual of Bouphonia.

The Babylonian New Year Festival – purpose = wholly agricultural. A sacrificing priest, an exorcist – purified a shrine of the god Nobu with the blood of a slain sheep. After this they fled to the desert until the festival was over.

Similarly – the Hebrew ritual of the Day of Atonement (originally part of the Autumn New Year Festival). This = combination – ritual slaying and flight. Humans were replaced by two goats. One goat killed – the other driven out into the desert. The Athenian Bouphonia – an ox was ritually killed by two men who then fled.

The flight of Cain = a ritual flight. Hence sacrifice = defiled by his act, and was driven out of the community until – purified. His guilt = communal – not individual. Explains why the killer enjoyed ritual protection.

He was not a common killer. He had performed a ritual/religious act for the benefit of the community. Hence his temporary banishment – but he was sacrosanct. The mark of Cain = tattoo mark = sacred class member. Example = Old Testament = such marks. Such marks distinguished temple staffs as the property of god.

Summary – the myth of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4.1-15) = ritual myth depicting a ritual slaying in order to secure the fertility of crops. The slaying was followed by the flight of the slayer, who was protected by a mark which showed his sacred character.

During time it acquired other meanings = a feud between settled peasants and pastoral nomad peoples who continually tried to enter the tilled lands.

Strand 3 = the adventures of Cain after the killing = different source. A distinct and different tradition. This tradition is that of the ancient Palestinian Kenite clan (of Kenan). Kenites = always nomads, semi-nomads, tent dwellers.

In one tradition (told by the Yahwist) = Adam had Cain and Abel by Eve. Cain killed Abel and went to the Land of Nod where he married and had a son called Enoch (Enosh). Cain built a city which he named after his son.

Enoch had a son (Irad). Irad’s son was Mahujael. Mahujael’s son was called Methushael. His son was called Lamach.

However, the priests had another list of descendants which was very similar to that of the Yahwist. According to the priest list – the father of Kenan was Enosh. Enosh is a Hebrew word for ‘man’. It is a synonym (?) for Adam. Kenan is another Hebrew form of Cain.

So – in both lists the first man was the father of Cain. The priest’s list of Adam’s descendants was as follows = Adam; Seth; Enosh; Kenan; Mahlalel; Jared; Enoch; Methushael; Lamech; Noah.

Irad then is the same as Jared, Mehujael is Mahalalel, and Methushalah is Mathusala (Methuselah). In Genesis the list of descendants is used to explain the origins of civilisation.

After Abel’s death, according to the myth, Adam and Eve had another son called Seth. Seth, according to the priests’s list, was the father of Enoch (Enosh). The Old Testament Genesis of today combines both the Yahwist and priestly myths.

[Hornblower, G. D.  (1944).  Cain and Abel. Man 44 (Mar/Apr].

The story of Cain and Able is “…a relic of a rite of human sacrifice formerly practised to assure fertility in the fields.” The Hebrews “…despite their dependence on cereals, gave flesh offerings to their god, or gods…”.

The story of Cain and Abel points – “…to the very fundamental change in human life from the hunting or pastoral stage to the agricultural.”

[Hooke, S. H.  The Siege Perilous.  (1956).  SCM Press, London]. 

The myth of Cain and Abel is “…an ancient biblical story of what is commonly regarded as the first fratricide…”.In contemporary terms “…it seems possible in the light of recent researches into the nature of the religious pattern of early civilisations of Mesopotamia and the regions under its cultural influence to place the story in a fresh setting…”.

The Mark of Cain = decoration – Cain may go abroad “…without the least fear of being recognised or molested by his victims ghost.”.

Historically “…the saga of Cain and Abel can be only understood in the light of a knowledge of the religious and social conditions of the time…”. It follows that the story “…reflects the existence of two types of primitive social organisation, pastoral and agricultural…”.

Pastoral and agricultural = own characteristic rituals. Hebrew – appearance in history > middle 2nd millennium BC. General ritual pattern of period = seasonal fertility rituals. thus the “…purpose of the ritual in the original form of the Cain and Abel story was fertility…”

So-called fratricide > curse of Cain > flight from scene of slaying and adorned with the protective mark. The object “…of the ritual slaying was the fertilisation of the soil…”. Later Hebrew writers – ignored their ancestors participation in such rituals.

Flight of Cain = motive of ritual flight. The sacrifice “…is defiled by his act and is driven out by the community until he is purified, his guilt is communal not and individual guilt.” He is therefore “…no common murderer but a priest or sacred person who has performed an act for the benefit of the community…ceremonial defilement – consequent temporary banishment.”

 

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Ancient Slavery

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The Slave Market (1866).  Jean-Leon Gerome.

The decay of the primitive communal system (mainly in Eurasia) led to the emergence of slave society. Thus there were two stages of development: Formation – specific form of social organisation = the City State. Emergence = powerful slave empires.

Necessary condition – City States = transformation of clan community. This isolation (individual families) led to self-contained economic units. Families + increased productivity meant they were without dependence on the clan/tribe. Land plots/implements began to function as private family property.

Communal land was divided into 2 parts: common use (forests, rivers, pastures). Plough-land (divided between families). Thus – clan community led to the neighbourhood community. The economic basis was private family property. Land ownership – contingent on membership of community. Eventually – social differentiation amongst community membership.

Tribal chiefs – concentration of surplus – turned into private property. Arising differentiations (in course of material production) led to different families owning different amounts of wealth.

Thence – some – wealthy, or impoverished. The wealthy group – dominated fellow tribesmen (appropriation of debtors property) + labour payment = the emergence of exploitation.

Social differentiation – accompanied by the emergence of slavery. Slaves were obtained in several ways: buying or barter; prisoners of war; debts of fellow tribesmen.  This strengthened the wealthy  and also increased wealth.

Gradual emergence – 3 social groups (= unequal economic positions), thus: free communal peasants (livelihood = own + family labour); elite (owned wealth + slaves); slaves (no property, dependent on masters). Slave labour – initially – not widespread. Small famers, craftsmen = economic backbone of small city states.

Next stage of slavery = formation – unions and federations of city states. Then – emergence – large slave empires.

Development of crafts = growth of population – formation, large armies, etc. Dominant states – procured additional sources of manpower, material wealth. Slaves, booty – went to the conquering state. Slave labour became the economic basis of society. Thus – larger tasks tackled.

Development – large trading/industrial cities + villas. Vast slave empires = inherent weakness. With the evolution of the slave state = fundamental contradiction – led to eventual collapse.

Slave labour – outlives itself – acts as a break on social development. This because: slave (chief element of productive forces) = a chattel. Denied all rights. A speaking tool.

[Thomson, G.  The First Philosophers.  Lawrence & Wishart, London].

Chalcolithic Period – (tools = copper, stone) Advances – Nile, Euprhates, Tigris, Indus. First time – dissolution of primitive communism = growth of slavery, class struggle, formation of the state. Thus = 2 stages – growth of slave society = early, mature.

Early Stage = patriarchal, directed – immediate needs (rather than commodity production). Trade – poorly developed. Widespread enslavement for debt. Peasants – still land. Property = Oriental type.

Mature Stage = slavery towards commodity production. Free labour replaced by slaves. Small producers impoverished. Further growth – trade, money relations + private property. Number – privately owned slaves – increases.

Slaves – predominate over other classes. At this period the “…characteristic form of the state is the polis, culminating in slave owning democracy…” [14]. Cultural development is rapid.

Distinguishing early and mature slavery – “…we must not treat them as though they were sharply separated from one another. On the contrary, mature slave society co-existed with primitive communism, which continued to prevail in many adjacent areas.” [14]. Nor – characteristics equally developed in all class societies.

[Review – history of slave society – Thomson (1977). Distinguished 6 periods].

(1). 30th to 16th century BC. Slave states – Egypt, Mesopotamia, Indus – came into being. In China(prior to Yin or Shang Dynasty) = dissolution of primitive communism – but not yet slave state.

Later (1) period = rise of Middle Kingdom (Egypt = Amorite kingdoms (Mesopotamia). This coincided – flowering of Babylonian/Egyptian culture. Thus – contact with these centres – drew primitive tribes (north Mesopotamia, Syria, Cappadocia) into the orbit of slave society.

Forms of class society – developed – in Palestine, Phoenicia, Aegean. Meantime – metal use – primitive peoples of Eurasian steppes. In Eurasia – no development of slave societies. But – rapid consolidation of ethnic groups (nomadic pastoral tribes).

Early (1) period = Indo-European nomads appeared – Hither Asia (the Hittites), later penetration from India (Aryan speakers). Mid-2nd millennium – Near East slave states entered crisis. Crisis brought about by growth of debt slavery + intensified exploit of village communes.

This was – “…brought about, on the one hand, by the growth of debt slavery and the intensified exploitation of village communes, and, on the other, by the surrounding tribes, which, having had their primitive social relations dissolved through contact with these centres, were driven to invade them in quest of plunder.” [15].

(2) Period of slavery = (16th – 17th century BC). Marked – territorial expansion of early slave society. Rise of military states (Assyria, Mitanni, Hittites). Also – formation of new slave owning communities (east Mediterranean).

Early slave society = zenith – Crete (Late Minoan). Later – Mycenae. Later still – Dorians + other Hellenic tribes from north west – set in motion by dissolutions of primitive communism – overran Greece and Crete. This ended Mycenaean civilisation.

This is – “…the beginning of Greek history proper, marked by the decay of primitive communism, the growth of slavery and of inequalities of property, and the rise of the polis.” [15].

Far East – Shang Dynasty – overthrown (12th century) by Chou tribes. Succeeded by Chou Dynasty. After 8th century – Chou Empire broke up (weakened by slave owning nobility). Break-up led to independent states = Warring States.

(3) 7th to 4th century BC = Greece and emergence of mature slave society. Based – rapid development of productive forces – thence – growth of trade + invention of coinage. Thus – coinage = increased debt slavery. Debt slavery replaced – enslavement of barbarians. Barbarian enslavement – necessary – development of chattel slavery.

Slave society – established – several centres (Italy, North Africa, Spain) = mainly in early form. Later form = Greek colonies. Mesopotamia and Egypt = some features of mature slave society (by time of Persian Conquest). Under Persian rule – maintenance of early stage – slave owning relations.

Greece – further development – mature slave society. Small producers ruined = concentration of land ownership. Dispossessed landed became the lumpenproletariat [Criticisms of this slave theory – 16. Quotes – extensive: Thomson, Engels 17-18].

(4) Mesopotamia = Early times – ruling class – supplemented labour force by slave raids. Raids = into mountains. Slaves owned by temples, private citizens. Constitutes considerable section of community. [see Thomson, 80).

(5) Late Bronze Age Greece. What dependence on slave labour? Phoenicians and Ionians = notorious slave traders. Slave trade kept pace – other forms of trade.

Ugarit = slaves (likely Syria, Greece), thus “…in Babylonia, the typical form of the institution, employing the largest number, was temple-slavery, recruited not so much from slave-dealers as from defaulting debtors, kidnapped children, and above all prisoners of war.” [Thomson, 80].

In general – throughout Bronze Age – mass labour required (for public works) = conscription of free peasantry. Thus “…there was a well-established slave trade in the Aegean in the 6th century BC. Indeed, it seems likely that one the main incentives to colonisation, Phoenicians and Greek alike, was the quest for slaves…” [Thomson, 188].

(6) Greek Slavery, 5th century BC. In general – slave = no incentive to increase production. Whole surplus = taken from him. Cost of reproducing slaves – less than free labourers. Slave labour was: cheap, unskilled, profitable (at low level of production); overworked, short lived, deprived of family life; no position to acquire skill.

Main supply of slaves = conquest, kidnapping. Slavery – thus – prevented increase of wealth. Promoted its destruction by intensive wars. Arms trained males – killed. Females, children – kept for slaves. Some historians – deny Greece was a slave society. Proof = Herodotus + Thucydides.

Greek words for slaves – some loosely used, some definite. Andrapodon = chattel slave – man-footed creature. Andrapodistes = slave snatcher. Andropodokapelos = slave dealer. [Examples = Thomson, 197-200].

 

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Irish Tales and Indian Vedas

Surviving Irish tales – resemblances – themes, stories, names in sagas of Indian Vedas [Sanskrit – start of 1st millennium BC]. Being – emerges as Mother Goddess of Celts = Danu (Anu in Old Irish) cognate with Don (Old Welsh). Emerges in literature of Vedas, Persia, Hittites.

Danu = ‘divine waters’. European rivers acknowledge her. Story associated with Danuvius = first great Celtic river. Thus >myths about Boyne (from goddess Boann). and Shannon (from the goddess Sionan). Hindu goddess Ganga – Ganges.

Celts plus Hindus – worshipped in sacred rivers + votive offerings. Vedic myth = Danu – appears in deluge story = The Churning of the Ocean.

Resemblances – Irish culture and Hindu culture. Language – Old Irish law texts (the Fenechus or Brehon Laws) and the Vedic Laws of Manu. The Vedas = 4 books 1000-500 BC. Sanskrit root – vid + ‘knowledge’. Old Irish = vid = ‘0bservation’, ‘perception’, ‘knowledge’. Therefore roots of – compared Celtic druid = dru-vid – ‘thorough knowledge’.

Similarities – Old Irish and Sanskrit. Arya (freeman) = Sanskrit, and aire (a noble) in Old Irish. Naib (good) in Sanskrit, and noeib (holy) in Old Irish. Therefore – naomh = saint. Minda (physical defect) – Sanskrit > menda (one who stammers) – Old Irish.  Namas (respect) – Sanskrit > nemed (respect, priviledge) – Old Irish. Badhura (deaf) – Sanskrit > bodhar (deaf) – Old Irish. Borrowed by 18th century English = ‘bother’.

Raj (king) > Irish ri > continental rix > Latin rex.

Germanic group – developed another word – i.e., cyning, Koenig, king. But – retained in English as reach = Indo-European cconcept of king as one who – reaches or stretches out his hand to protect his people. This concept = found in many Indo-European myths.

Rig Vedas – sky god Dyaus = stretches forth his long hand. Cognate – Latin deus, Irish dia, Slavonic devos.  Means – ‘the bright one’. A sun-deity significance. Dyaus = Dyaus-Pitir = Father Dyaus. In Greek > Zeus. In Latin > Jovis-Pater (Father Jove). Julius Caesar observed Celts had a Dis–Pater (a father god). Irish reference = Ollathair = the All Father. Ollathair = sky god, the role given to Lugh.

Lugh – in Welsh myth = Lleu (Bright One). Lugh Lamhfada = Irish (Lugh of the Long Hand) = stretching and reaching. Llew Llaw Gyffes = Welsh (Lleu of the Skilfull Hand).

Boann – goddess = ‘cow-white’ > River Boyne. Mother to Aonghus Og – love god = guou-vinda (cow finder). Vedic name – Govinda = epithet for Krishna. Hindu name today. Motifs – sacred cow/bull = easily found in Celtic (particularly Irish) + Vedic/Hindu myths. Gualish god – Esus > equates with Asura (the powerful) and as Asvopati = epithet for Indra. Gualish – Ariomanus > cognate with Vedic Aryaman.

Horse rituals – once common with Indo-Europeans > Irish myth and ritual + Vedic sources. “The kingship ritual of symbolic union of horse and ruler survives in both.” Dates – when Indo-Europeans domesticated horses – thus helped commence expansions. Horses = power. Therefore proficient – agriculture, pastoralism, warriors.

Ireland – ritual of symbolic union of mare and king – mentioned by Geraldus Cambrensis [Typographica Hibernia]. = 11th century. India – similar symbolic ritual of stallion and queen = myth of Saranyn in Rig Veda.

The ‘Act of Truth’. Ancient Irish text Auraicept Moraind – could be mistaken for a passage in the Upanishad. [See: Dillon, M. ‘The Hindu Act of Truth in Celtic Tradition’, Modern Philology, Feb 1947].

Symbolism  – Irish myth = Mochta’s Axe (when heated in a fire of blackthorn, would burn a liar but not the opposite), or – Luchta’s iron (= same quality), or Cormac mac Art’s cup (= 3 lies and it fell apart) – 3 truths > whole again. All = counterparts in the Chandagya Upanishad.

Cosmological terms =comparisons – Celtic, Vedic culture. Similarities – Hindu, Celtic calendar, e.g., Coligny Calendar. Original computation + astronomical observations + calculation, therefore put at 1100 BC.

Celts = astrology – based on 27 lunar mansions = nakshatras (modern Hindus). Thus – Celtic linguistics/mythology > cultural origins of Celts > Indo-Europan culture. Thus – common Indo-European roots > Europe, Asia Minor, India.

In many ways – Leabhar Gabhala = equivalent of the Hindu Maharabharata. The pre-Christian themes – evident – Leabhar Gabhala and the Dindsenchas (collection of sagas explaining meanings of place names).

 

 

 

 

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The Calendar

Egypt and Mesopotamia. Bronze Age city states. Governed by kings (priest kings). Ugarit cuneiform texts suggest that kingship similar to Mesopotamian.

Among primitive tribes – calendar regulation = moon. Basic unit = month > complete lunation divided into 2 or 3 parts (lunar phases). Lunar synodic month = 29.53 days. Approximately 11 days different from solar year. Solar astronomical = 365.24 days = seasonal cycle.

Agricultural development > need to co-ordinate lunar and solar years. Problem solved – 2 ways. Thus (1) – lunar calendar – supplemented time to time by adding 13th month = solar year co=ordination = lunisolar calendar. Thus (20 – lunar basis abandoned. Months retained but extended/adapted. Period > correspondence – 365.24 cycle = solar calendar.

Egyptians – invented solar calendar – 3rd millennium. Divided year – 3 seasons + 12 months (30 days). Plus 5 additional days (beginning). Fixed by rising of Sirius in July.

Solar calendar = civil administration. Religious festivals = old lunar calendar > fell behind solar 11 days each year. Solution = lunisolar calendar (2500 BC) = intercalation (13th month) in 9 years out of 25 years. 25 year cycle. Thus – (25 x 365) = (16 x 354.36) + (9 x 383.89) = 9125. 13 x 29.53 = 385.89.

Mesopotamia – remained lunar – without systemic intercalation (until 5th century). Lunisolar calendar > constructed by the intercalation of 13th month. Every 7 years in 19. This = 19 year cycle. Explained by the autonomy of Mesopotamian city states. Thus (19 x 365.24) = (12 x 354.36) + (7 x 383.89) = 6939.5).

Greece – also independent regulation of calendar by each state. But – structure same everywhere. Year = 12 months (alternating 29/30 days). Eleven day deficit = intercalation (13th month) in 3 out of 8 years = Octennial Cycle (Octennium). Thus – (8 x 365) = (8 x 354) + (2 x 29) + 30 = 2920. Also lunar phases – not coincidental with days of calendar month to which assigned. Distinction made = actual and nominal new moon.

Greek Calendar – ultimate origin. Numerous correspondences – Greek/Babylonian festivals. two calendars = common basis? Babylonian offerings to dead = month of Teshrit. Teshrit = first of 2nd half year (Sept/Oct).

Greek = Athens – Genesis (feast of ancestors) = corresponding month – Becdromion. Similarly – Babylonian Kislev (Nov/Dec) – drink offerings to Ereshkigal. Fructifies earth. Ereshkigal = goddess of underworld. Attic Haloa = agrarian feast of Demeter = month of Poseidon (Dec/Jan).

 

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The Ancient Irish

New Grange

New Grange, Ireland.

Megalithic tombs (Knowth, Dowth, New Grange) = pre-Celtic culture – indigenous population from middle 4th millennium. Bell Beaker folk > proto-Celts (?) = beginnings of Irish (British) Celtic culture. Little or no (archaeological) evidence – between 2000 > 3000 BC.

However – Celts (Hallstadt type) reached Ireland by middle of 6th century. Migration continued to Britain/Ireland until Belgic invasion in 1st century BC. In what form they arrived = uncertain. According to Lebor Gabala (The Book of Invasions) = 6 invasions = (1)Cessair; (2) Partholon; (3) Nemed; (4) Fir Bolg; (5) Tuatha De Danaan; (6) Mil Espane.

Thus – Ireland > settled by a succession of different tribes. Separate ethnic groups.

Ireland of ancient tales = 4 provinces called coiceda (fifths). (1) Ulaid (Ulster); (2) Connacta (Connaught); (3) Lagin (Leinster); (4) Mumu (Munster). (5) = Mide (Meath). Perhaps 4 became 5 after emergence of a new power centre.

Mide = ‘middle’  – encompassed both Bruig na Boinde (New Grange) and Teimuir (Tara) = setting of early mythological tales. Cu Chulain = pre-4th century BC. Territory of Ui Neill – who supplanted the Ulaid by the 4th century BC.

Mide – numerous burial grounds = setting for the early mythological cycle. Peopled by Tuatha de Danaan (people of the goddess Danu). Presented by Lebor Gabala as a wave of invaders. In tales = denizens of otherworld = the Side. The Side interact freely with people.

Ulaid – capital = Emain Macha (near Armagh). Primary setting – historical tales of Ulster Cycle. King = Conchobar (son of Ness). Champion = Cu Chulain.  Connachta – capital = Cruachu – west of Ireland. May have originally occupied Mide. Thus – Queen Medb – identified as daughter of King of Temuir. Medb – once a fertility goddess.

Ulster Cycle tales – reflect (?) historical conflict – Ulaid and the emerging Ui Neill of Mide. Storytellers – moved Medb + Ailill from Temuir to Cruachu. Mumu – peripheral role in Ulster Cycle. King = Cu Rui son of Dare.

Chronology = pre-Christian. Ulster cycle – pre-dates Ui Neill appropriation of Emain Macha. Ulster tradition formation = between 2nd century BC and 4th century BC..

Tripartite society = warrior class (+ king); priest class (druids); farmers/freemen. Thus – Bronze Age, upper barbarism, patrilineal accession. King – of a tuath (tribe). Often subject to an over-king. The High-King = a fiction (to explain rule of Ui Neill). Thus Tuatha de Danaan = a tribal society. Tribalism = lower barbarism + upper savagery.

Kingship = originally sacral = sacred kings. Kings (mythological tales) = euhemerised gods. Some traditions – tribal king = ritually married to the tribal goddess. (e.g. Medb). In others – sympathetic relationship to land.

Later Irish history – king chosen from extended family unit (position usually contested by other family members). Thus – heirs, rivals. Irish kings – not battle leaders (either have vestiges of divinity) or have young champion as heir and rival. Divinity vestige – Cu Rui. Irish society (especially of the Historical Tales) = aristocratic.

Irish year = 2 part division – winter, summer (light and dark). First day winter/new year = Samuin (1st Nov). Feast (Samuin) = gave rise to Halloween or All Saints Day.

Samuin = day of changes, births, deaths, open door (real and otherworld). Suggests regeneration myths, ritual slayings. Samuin (Samain?) = most important day of re-creation and rebirth in Ireland.

First day of may = Beltene = beginning of summer > May Eve, Walpurgisnacht, May Day. Beltene = less important than Samuin. Fire of Bel. Irish Bel = descendant of continental god Belenos (‘bright fire’). Beltene > fertility rituals. Pryderi = born – May Day (connected with colts). Rites of Beltene – cattle. Beginnings of spring + autumn – celebrated.

Imbolg (Imbolc) = February 1st = beginning of lambing season. Associated with goddess Brigit (Briganti in Britain). Feast day of saint Brighid > February 1st.

Lugnasad = August 1st (after Lug) seems > harvest festival. See – pastoral and agrarian festivals. Autumn round-up/assembly (Uliad) = closer to Samuin (Wasting Sickness of Cu Chulain). Ulaid = pastoralists, therefore pastoralism and agriculturalism

Celtic/Irish religion = no pantheon > localised deities, localised functions. Important deities = Lugos (Irish Lug, Welsh Lleu). See – Lyon, Leiden, Legnica. Also – Mercury.

Belenos (bright) – rough counterpart to Apollo. Maponos – Welsh Mabon, Irish Macc Oc. Means ‘great son’. Ogmios = Gaulish Heracles (Lucian) – god of eloquence. Cernunnos (horned) = horned figure [bull?]. Epona = goddess (great horse). Esus, Taranis, Teutates = trio (Lucian). Appeased by sacrifices > hanging, burning, drowning respectively.

The Otherworld – in south west Ireland = House of Dond. Dond = chthonic deity. Found in pre-Celtic burial mounds of the Side [Tuatha = megalithics?]. In tales of Cu Chulain > otherworld ruler = Labraid Luathlan.

The Side = transformation ability (invisible, or > birds, animals). Macc Oc = euhmerised Maponos – but – Dagdae, Mider, Baoand, Etain, Medb, Caer Ibormeith, Cu Rui = no continental counterparts. Many quasi-divine characters associated > animals, natural features. Totemic? Clan symbols?

Boand = ‘white cow’ (also Irish Boyne). Dagdae = Echu (horse). The Wooing of Etain > love affair between Boand/Dagdae (=cow and horse) = reconciliation. Boand = Neolithic, Dagdae = Bronze age. Thus – reconciliation between Bronze Age invaders and indigenous Neolithic population.

Macha = enhanced horse goddess. Similarly – epithet of Etain = Echrade (horse troop). A number of Side appear as birds – Mider and Etain leave Temuir as swans. Oengus (Mider’s foster son) and Caer Ibormeith return to Bruig na Boinde as swans.

Canare Mar’s un-named father discloses himself as Mess Buachalla in the form of a bird. Fand and Li Ban first present to Cu Chulain as birds. [Bird motifs = megalithic?]. Boyne burial mounds = dwelling of the Side. The hero never stays – tanist? Interrex?

Linguistics – difference Irish and British languages. Thus – Indo-European q > p (British) > c in Irish. Thus – four = petwar (British) + cethair (Irish). Latin equus > Irish Ech.

Creation and origin myths – the Leabhar Gabhala (The Book of Invasions) = Lebor Gabala Erenn. Found in the Leabhar Laignech (12th century). Tells of mythical invasions of Ireland, includes – Ever Living Ones + Tuatha de Danaan (Children of Danu).

Irish Creation Myth – Christian writers – made Cesair = grand-daughter of Noah. Her parents = Bith and Birren. Set out in 3 ships > to escape deluge. One ship survives > lands Corca Dhuibhe (Dingle Penenisula, County Kerry). 50 women + 3 men survived. Included – Ladra (the pilot) + Fionntan, Bith and Ladra die – Fiontann left alone with women. Feels inadequate and flees. All eventually perish.

Lugh Lamhfada – Lugh of the Long Hand – senior of the gods, patron of all arts and crafts, eventually – demoted > Lugh-chromain (stooping Lugh) from these Anglicised > leprechaun. Thus “…the medieval records are no true reflection of pre-Christian Celtic mythology.” Thus – “…examining these stories from an Indo-European viewpoint, the pre-Christian motifs can be discerned.”

 

 

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