Thursday, 26 March 2020

Seven seals

In the Book of Revelation, the Seven Seals are the seven symbolic seals that secure the book or scroll that John of Patmos saw in an apocalyptic vision. The opening of the seals of the document occurs in Revelation Chapters 5–8 and marks the Second Coming of the Christ.

At the time when Revelation was written, important documents were sent written on a papyrus scroll sealed with several wax seals. Wax seals were typically placed across the opening of a scroll, so that only the proper person, in the presence of witnesses, could open the document.



But there is another possible meaning of the "Breaking of seven seals which announces the second coming of Christ". 

It has to do with Christ being "the bread of life"...

Since Neolithic times, in Fertile Crescent, farmers stored their grain in storage vessels which were they sealed using stone seals imprinted on clay.


The earliest evidence for this practice was found in Syria and dates to the seventh millennium B.C. At Arslantepe, a store room was found in the palace containing sealed containers...And we know that palaces and temples were used as grain stores...




Storage vessels from the store room


Seals imprints. 


This is the table showing articultyral year in Levant. 



You can see that grain (barley and wheat) was sown by December and was harvested by July. 

When grain was harvested, it was stored in storage jars and was used for food until next harvest. Now if I was a grain farmer from Levant, I would have divided my grain into 13 jars. The grain in 12 jars would be used for food. Why 12 jars? Well this way you will know exactly how much you can eat each month so that you can ration the grain and not run out of it half way through the year. The 13th jar would contain seeds for the next sowing. 

Each storage jar would then be closed and sealed probably with a family seal...

Now the grain was indeed kept like this, then a family would open a new storage jar every new month, and would use the grain contained inside during that month. To to that they would have to break the seal...

Now what is the second coming of Christ? The Second Coming is a Christian belief regarding the future (or past) return of Jesus after his ascension to heaven...Basically, Christ dies, he gets buried, he ascends (Empty grave)...Now we wait...For Christ's resurrection basically...

You know how Grain is used as a symbol of resurrection? It gets killed (harvesting), buried (planting) and resurrected (sprouting and growing)...Year after year after year. 

Now what if "the bread of life" should be taken literally? How long should we wait for the "second coming", "resurrection" of grain? Well, 7 months, from the end of sowing (beginning of December) to the end of the Harvesting (beginning of July). The longest 7 months in the life of any grain farmer whose life depends on the good harvest...

And every one of these long 7 months begins with opening one of the last 7 jars of grain...By breaking the seal which protected it...When the 7th seal is broken, the harvest is finished and the storage jars are refilled...

Was this the root of the 7 seals "vision" about the Second coming of the "Bread of life"???

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Cornucopia


Twelfth Century stone relief, thought to represent Slavic Sun God Svetovid (Svantovit) holding cornucopia (horn of plenty). The stone was found in Altenkirchen, Rügen, Germany...

German chroniclers recorded that the main annual religious ceremony performed by the Baltic Slavs was performed at the end of the harvest at the beginning of November (Samhain?). And it involved Svetovid, his "drinking horn", and giant breads...Probably like this one still made in Serbia for Christmas...


The priest looked at Svetovid's horn to see if the drink in it was evaporating. If so, the harvest would be poor the next year, and the people should save something of their current harvest for next year. If the drink did not disappear, that foretold a bountiful year...

There was also there as an offering an oval-shaped honey cake which stood "almost as tall as a man". The priest would stand behind it and would ask the people if they could see him. When they answered "yes", he would then wished them that next year they should not see him at all...Meaning that the honey cake (bread) offered to the god next year would be even bigger, because the harvest would be even better... More in my post "Can you see me".

From this ritual we can clearly see that the Slavs saw the horn as "cornucopia", the horn of plenty. The ritual was Slavic thanksgiving. The time when Slavs threw sacrificial feasts for their gods. And made human sacrifices to them too... More in my post "Thanksgiving".

Cornucopia is still associated with thanksgiving. Except it's not a horn any more, but a horn like wicker basket...But the idea of the symbol is the same: the bountiful harvest comes from the horn...Why?

Cornucopia is latin name for the symbol of abundance and nourishment, which in classical antiquity was commonly depicted as a large horn-shaped container overflowing with produce, flowers or nuts...

This is Roman Era Fresco, Primavera aka Flora with Cornucopia, Excavated in Stabia...


Originally though, cornucopia was an actual horn and was not called cornucopia. It was called Keras Amaltheias (Horn of Amalthea)...Who was Amalthea? Remember the Ibex goat that suckled infant Zeus on Crete that I talked about in my post "Goat riding thunder god"? This is Minoan seal where swastika is formed by four Ibed goats...Ibex was venerated as a holy animal of the thunder god by the Minoans:



Apparently, one day, as young Zeus played with Amalthea, he accidentally broke off her horn. To make up for it and as a sign of gratitude, Zeus blessed the broken horn, so that its owner would find everything they desired in it...

The best bit: "How Amalthea’s horn came to be associated with an overflowing horn of plenty...is not quite clear in classical Greek mythology, although it is a common motif in Greek art..." Darkness in "our current understanding of our mythology" is scary...

Soooo. Here we are again. Tapping in the darkness. How did Amalthea's horn become The Horn of Plenty? Well, if you read my post about "Goat riding thunder god" you will see that the Amalthea and Zeus story takes place on Crete...

And on Crete, the year is divided into two parts: hot, dry part (April-May to October-November) and cold, wet part (October-November to April-May). It doesn't rain at all during the dry part. And it rains pretty much all the time during the wet part...


And the arrival of rainy season coincides with the beginning of the mating season of Cretan Ibex goats. Year after year, Cretans would see Ibex goats start their annual mating dances and fights and then the clouds would gather and the rain would start falling...


Almost as if the Ibex goats somehow made the rain come...Rain which makes crops grow, abundantly, plentifully. Almost as if the Ibex goats brought abundance, plenty...What is the most striking characteristic of Ibex goats, which makes them instantly recognisable?  Their horns...


So if you wanted to have an object that represents abundance, plenty...And you were from Crete? Minoan Crete...What would you use? Well the horn of the Cretan Ibex goat, the bringer of rain, course...

And of course it wouldn't be any goat. It had to be Amalthea. The nurse (provider of life giving liquid) of Storm god Zeus (provider of rain, life giving liquid)...By the way remember that it was Zeus "who blessed the horn"...Ha ha ha...Rain brings abundance, plenty...

So this wasn't that difficult, right? It's kind of obvious in the end. But here is a really interesting question: why were Slavic priest, in November, checking whether drink evaporated from their "horn of plenty" to see if the next year's harvest would be good?

So. In my post about the Minoan artefact called Sanctuary rhyton, I mentioned that it could have been used as a rainfall measuring device. If it was left opened during the winter, it would tell Minoans how much rain fell during the winter...I talked about this in my post "Sanctuary rhyton". 

If by springtime the rhyton was full of rain water, the next year would be bountiful, plentiful. There would be no hunger as the soil would have been well irrigated and there would be no thirst as the rivers, streams, springs and cisterns would have been full of water...


But if in November the water in the rhyton was getting lower (evaporating because the weather was hot and dry) instead of getting higher (accumulating because the weather was cool and wet), then that was the sign that the next year will be one of restrictions, hunger and thirst..

Why would Slavic priests from the temple of Svetovid, the sun god, in the Baltic, use evaporation of liquid from the horn of plenty in November as the indicator of the quality of the future harvest? When in Baltic, wet winter means lower yields...You can read about the effect of the rainfall on the grain yield in Northern Europe in this article

But remember how Germanic, Slavic and Baltic thunder gods flew up north from Crete during Bronze Age on their ibex goat drawn chariots? Did they bring with them this November, horn of plenty, grain yield divination???

And somehow, Slavs, the conservative, backward fuckers that they are, managed to preserve it, until medieval time...

Another interesting thing: In Ancient Greek depictions, Amalthea's horn was held by one of two gods of wealth: Pluto (otherwise known as Hades god of the underworld) or Plutus, who was either son of Pluto (Hades) and Persephone or Iason (??) and Demeter...You can read more about this in my post "Pluto".

Pluto (Hades) with Persephone holding cornucopia


Plutus with Demeter holding cornucopia


Why is it the god of the underworld, the god of the dead, the one that gives wealth? Well because the wealth is in the ground...Right? You heard this many times before...Interestingly Slavs believed that it was their dead ancestors who determine the fortunes of the living...

They believed that the happy, well fed and watered ancestors give fertility and health to fields, animals and people and that the pissed off ones turn on their descendants and punish them with failed harvests, plagues, death and ruin...

Interestingly, in Slavic folklore, the time of the year linked with the dead is winter...The dark, wet, cold part of the year, the time of death...Also interestingly, in Crete, winter is the time of life...

I will soon write an article that proves that God Hades was originally a god associated with winter. For now, chuck that god to Crete, put shades and swimming shorts on him, and suddenly he turns from god of winter death, need and poverty to god of winter life, bounty and wealth

This definitely requires more talking about. Specifically how the Hades, the tourist from the north, abducted the local Cretan goddess of vegetation, Persephone, Mother Earth...and stole for himself her magic winter life giving powers...

For now I am leaving you with this image. 25,000 years ago, in the Dordogne, a pregnant woman holding a horn was sculpted on a limestone block in the rock shelter of Laussel...


Mother earth holding a horn of plenty? Did our palaeolithic ancestors already have this symbol?

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Double headed eagle


This amazing object is a silver gilt cast shaft-hole axe head, made between 2500-1500 BC in the area along the Oxus and Murghab rivers in modern Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan. This is one of my favourite ancient objects. Why? Because it made me realise what double headed eagle means...

The axe head is currently kept in Met museum. The description reads shaft-hole axe with "bird-headed demon, boar, and dragon". The accompanying short article points at the Western Iran as the possible origin of the mythological scene depicted on the axe... 


To understand what we are looking at here, we need to try to identify the animals depicted on the axe head, and we need to answer the question: why is the double headed eagle "hero" separating the dragon (actually winged lion) and the boar?

I talked about winded lions (dragons) in my post about Entemena vase, the most beautiful example of the Sumerian metalwork...  


Dragon represents the destructive power of the sun, which during the summer, burns in the sky threatening to turn everything into cinder. Hence fire breathing dragons...I talked about this in many of my posts. For instance "Dragon that stole the rain


The hottest part of the year in the northern hemisphere, including the Western Iran, is the end of the summer beginning of Autumn (August - September)...Which is represented by Leo. Why? Because Eurasian lions mate during that time...I talked about this in my of my posts. For instance "Cylinder seal with a monster


So our "dragon" (winged lion) represents August-September, end of summer, beginning of autumn. What about wild boar? This is a wild boar from Tajikistan. Wild boar mating season, across Eurasia, starts in November...At the the end of autumn beginning of winter... 


Sooo. Our double headed eagle "hero" is separating lion (beginning of autumn) and boar (end of autumn)...So if we want to understand what the double headed eagle "hero" means, we need to look at autumn and eagles. More precisely, based on the look of the eagle heads, vultures...

Considering that lion marks the beginning of the lion mating season and that boar marks the beginning of the boar mating season, it would be kind of logical to assume that eagle marks the beginning of the eagle (vulture) mating season. But which vulture?

I believe that our suspect is Gyps bengalensis. This species is found in Iran, Afganistan, Pakistan, India, China and south east Asia...Why? Because of all Western Asian vultures, it alone starts mating in autumn. It breeds from October to March... 


But why double headed eagle? Well, because all vultures, at the beginning of their mating season, perform courtship aerial displays. And the most important part of this display is synchronous flying, wing to wing or one under another...



Vultures only fly together like this at the beginning of their mating season. Vultures flying one above each other, can actually look like this from the ground. Like a double headed eagle...


Interestingly, in Zodiac, Scorpio marks the period between 23 October and 22 November. And guess what. This is the only period in the solar year, which has two symbols. The other one is Eagle...Why? I talked about the zodiac eagle in my post about "Four living creatures". 


Different species of vultures mate at different times at different locations. European Griffon Vultures breed from December. Occasionally birds start breeding earlier and copulation has been recorded in October-November... 


Now bronze age Europe had different, much warmer climate...


Did Griffon Vultures mate earlier then? Say October-November??? They still do in the warmest part of Europe...If so, that wold explain why we find Eagle marking end of October beginning of November...Remember, I postulated that the Solar zodiac, which predates stelar zodiac, was developed in Europe during late Neolithic, early Bronze Age...

By the way, I forgot the best bit... Why would people in Western Iran, Eastern Iraq, give a shit about copulating vultures? Because right at the time when the "double headed eagle" appears in the sky, the rains arrive. The rain season starts in October-November... 


Now that is worth noting and marking, right? Oh, what was the favourite bird of the thunder gods??? You know, the guys that bring rain? Just asking...

And so this finally gives us the identity of the double headed eagle "hero": He is the Thunder God...

If we look at the axe head again, we see that the double headed eagle "hero" is pushing the boar (winter cold is yet to come) but he is strangling the dragon, winged lion (he is killing, ending the summer heat, drought)...

Neat, right?

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Menat


Have a look at this object.


This is a "menat" (a musical instrument/amulet) which consists of the this strange phallic thingy to which a bunch of beads were attached to.


This instrument/amulet was worn by the Holy Cow Hathor/Mehet-Weret. In fact Menat was another name for Hathor. 


The above one, was made between 664 and 380 BC. On top of it we see the lion headed goddess Tefnut (another face of Hekhmet, another face of Hathor) on the left, with a solar disc and cobra on her head, and her husband-twin brother Shu on the right, with ostrich feathers on his head. 

Tefnut carries the solar disc and the snake because the sun's heat, represented by a snake, is the strongest at the end of July beginning of August, during Leo. 

But why is Shu carrying ostrich feathers on his head? 

Well ostrich mating season begins in March or April and ends sometime before September. During that time male ostriches become aggressive, fight with each other for harems and make loud booming mating sounds...

This is exactly the period when rain season starts in Ethiopian highlands. We see increase in rainfall starting from March, and then the arrival of the full blown monsoon starting from April/May/June, depending on the season...


So at the top of the Menat we have wind and moisture producing monsoon. 

This monsoon empties on Ethiopian highlands during the ostrich mating season. The rain water accumulates in the catchment area of the Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia, and it flows out as Blue Nile...


It then flows down towards Egypt as the Great Flood...

I think that the circular bit at the bottom represents the Great Flood. The circle is the summer sun which fills the Nile with water...

What is interesting is what is depicted inside the circle:

A strange looking fish with a huge dorsal fin, swimming at the bottom of the river or lake, near a flowering papyrus marsh. 



The strange fish is not just a bad fish doodle. It is a very precise depiction of a  Labeobarbus bynni, the Niger barb, Nile barb, a relatively large fish, up to 82 cm in total length and with a distinctive top fin. It is found all over the Nile river. 



This was one of three main fish species caught and eaten by Ancient Egyptians, together with Nile perch and Nile tilapia.

This fish was not chosen randomly. The Nile barb spawning (mating) season is March-April, right at the time when the first rains start falling in Ethiopian highlands. And flowering papyrus? 

So why was papyrus so important? As I explained in my post "Holy Cow" the main papyrus flowering season is April...Right at the time when Nile Barb spawns (swims along the bottom burying eggs into the gravel)



Another interesting detail on this Manet is the "squatting figure of the ram-headed sun god" (according to the official description) figure just above the circular part. 


The description alludes at Amun. The god of wind and the creator god. Following Amun's ascendancy during the New Kingdom, he was hailed as "The Self-created One" and "King of the Gods" who had created all things, including himself. But I don't think this is Amun. Before there was Amun, there was another ram headed god. Another creator god who created everything including other gods. Khnum


He was one of the oldest Egyptian deities. And guess what: he was venerated as the god of the source of the Nile 🙂 Is this cool or what? I talked about this good in my post "Khnum" and there I explained why he was depicted as a "ram" (???) headed deity. 

The horizontally twisted horns show that we are dealing with a ram of the species "ovis longipes palaeoaegyptiacus".


This was the earliest type to be domesticated in Egypt, but became extinct sometime in the New Kingdom. Nevertheless, the shape of the horns was preserved even in later depictions of Khnum. Now here is the interesting bit. We have no idea what this "ovis longipes palaeoaegyptiacus" was or whether it was even a sheep or a goat. Regardless, the only two potential candidates, for the place of the "ovis longipes palaeoaegyptiacus" both have their young during April. The time when the first rains, represented by Tefnut and Shu, arrive to Ethiopian highlands. Right when papyrus flowers and right when Nile barb spawns...

Interesting artefact indeed 🙂

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Holy cow



Hathor was a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion who played a wide variety of roles: sky goddess, sun goddess, fertility goddess, love, sex, motherhood goddess.

I would argue that all these Hathor attributes obscure her original and main function: she was Egypt's mother goddess...

And in this article I would like to explain why...

Hathor was given the epithets "mistress of the sky" 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. To understand what the Egyptian mean when they said sky, you need to look at this picture. It shows how ancient Hebrews saw the universe as a stone built structure with the stone flat Earth as the base and the stone Heavenly dome as the roof. I talked about this more in my post "Etemenanki"



And all around this dome world lied primordial waters which were also the source of all the water inside the dome, the water in oceans, seas, lakes and rivers.

River Nile for instance...The life giving river Nile...

This heavenly 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.

She was one of many goddesses to take the role of the Eye of Ra, a feminine personification of the disk of the sun and an extension of Ra's own power. This circle, the symbol of the sun, Ra, is usually interpreted to mean sun disc, but I believe that it actually means sun circle, solar year, the manifestation of the Ra's power on earth...


That I am correct can be seen from the fact that this symbol, known as "sun hieroglyph" is used in the Ancient Egyptian language hieroglyphs as a determinative to refer to events of time, for example when referring to '"day xx" (of month yy'). For example, in the 24th century BC Palermo Stone, the sun hieroglyph is used to identify dates, or specific "day-events", ..."day of ....".

This is the only explanation why someone like Hathor or Mut, the mother goddesses of Egypt, would play the role of "the Eye of Ra"...Because it it not really an eye at all...

Ra was sometimes portrayed inside the disk. This is because he is born, lives and dies within the solar year, which starts and ends at Winter Solstice...Like every other sun god everywhere...

Hathor's seemingly contradictory roles as mother, wife, and daughter of Ra doesn't reflect the daily cycle of the sun, as this symbolic relationship is usually interpreted. It represents the yearly cycle of the sun, the solar year. In it the Mother goddess, Mother Earth goes through the phases of young spring earth, mature summer autumn earth and old winter earth which gives birth to the young spring earth...And these three phases of the Mother Earth are all linked to the sun which also goest through its year cycle...And because the sun and earth cycles are out of sync, as I explained this in detail in my post "Two crosses" we have this situation:

1. Old, Winter Earth (November, December, January)  gives birth to young sun on Midwinter, Winter Solstice
2. Young sun then gives birth to Young, Spring Earth (February, March, April)
3. Young Sun marries Young Earth at the beginning of Summer and they are married through summer and autumn (May, June, July, August, September, October)
4. The Sun dies during the Winter, only to be reborn on Winter solstice....

For Egyptians though, Mother Earth wasn't an abstract term and it certainly didn't encompass the whole planet Earth. For the Ancient Egyptians, Mother Earth was the River Nile and its banks and most importantly it delta...Why? Have a look at this image...The green blue water lily flower like shape is the Nile, the land of life...The yellow emptiness around it is the desert. The land of death...


And the only reason why life flourished along the Nile River was the River itself. And its yearly inundation...So when Egyptians talked about the Mother Earth, they actually meant the land along the river Nile which is annually flooded by the the river...

And I believe that it is this life giving flood that Ancient Egyptians symbolically represented with Hathor.

To understand what I am talking about, we need to talk Hathor and her association with the primeval divine cow Mehet-Weret, another "sky goddess" whose name means "Great Flood" and who was thought to bring the inundation of the Nile River which fertilised the land...Kind of obvious right there???

Mehet-Weret was depicted as a cow "carrying sun between her horns". This is Mehet-Weret from the tomb of Tutankhamun...


Mehet-Weret who was primarily known as being the “Celestial Cow”, had no independent cult of her own. It is presumed that Hathor absorbed most of her attributes as early as the Old Kingdom, as many references of the two as identical are found in Pyramid and Coffin Texts...

So why cow and why sun disc between the horns? Where have we heard the expression "celestial cow" before? Well in Slavic myth about Veles (The Dragon, Summer Drought) who steals Perun's (Thunder, Rain God) "celestial cows" (Rain Clouds). Perun kills Veles, gets his "celestial cows" back. Drought is over. Rains returns...

Celestial cows are rain clouds...Which can be seen from the fact that Hathor as Hesat, white cow, arrives carrying tray of food on her head and with her udders spilling milk on the earth

Now Mehet-Weret is goddess who causes the annual Nile River flood. The flooding of the Nile is the result of the yearly monsoon between May and August causing enormous precipitations on the Ethiopian Highlands...


And interestingly, the exact period when the monsoon rains start, the rains which will become the great Nile flood, is marked by Taurus (bull) zodiac sign (21 April – 21 May)...


Why? Because this was the time when the wild Auroch cattle main calving season started. I talked about this in my post "Ram and bull".  And in this post I also asked whether this sign should be called Bull or Cow and Calf???

So Hathor, The Heavenly Cow, who is also Mehet-Weret, The Great Flood arrives during the time when Wild Cows start giving birth to their calves and start producing milk...Interestingly, Hathor was said to be a Wild Cow...Crazy, right?

And look at this:

In "The Pleiades: the celestial herd of ancient timekeepers" by Amelia Sparavigna we read that:

"In the ancient Egypt Seven Goddesses, represented by seven cows, composed the celestial herd that provides the nourishment to her worshippers. This herd is observed in the sky as a group of stars, the Pleiades, close to Aldebaran, the main star in the Taurus constellation...."

How cool is this? A herd of heavenly cows coming out of Taurus...

Hathor was also closely associated with Hesat, another ancient Egyptian goddess in the form of a cow. Hesat was usually shown as a pure white cow carrying a tray of food on her head as her udders flow with milk.

Well that is as good a depiction of the effect of the monsoon on Egypt as I could imagine...

Hesat was in turn connected with Mnevis, the living bull god worshipped at Heliopolis, and the mothers of Mnevis bulls were buried in a cemetery dedicated to Hesat.

Bull is a symbol of summer, summer which starts in Taurus and lasts until Leo. This is what Mnevis bulls represented. And now that we know that summer starts during the wild cattle calving period, it is no surprise that Hesat, and through her Hathor, were linked to the mothers of the holy Mnevis bulls...

This is also one of the reasons why Hathor carries the sun disc between her horns. Because Taurus (Bull in Latin), more correctly Vacca (Cow in Latin) marks the beginning of Summer. Taurus (Vacca) literally brings summer between his (her) horns...


That Hathor and Mehet-Weret were one and the same can best be seen from the fact that they were depicted in identical way

They are both depicted as lying cow, with golden face. She is wearing a menat about her neck. Menat was also another name for Hathor, and was used as rattle by Hathor priestesses during religious ceremonies...



The holy cow also has a flail rising from her back. A flail is an agricultural tool used for threshing, the process of separating grains from their husks. It is usually made from two or more large sticks attached by a short chain; one stick is held and swung, causing the other (the swipple) to strike a pile of grain, loosening the husks.



In ancient Egypt, the flail, with the shepherd crook, was a symbol associated with the pharaoh. It is hypothesised that these two symbols represent pharaoh's ability to provide food for his people...


She sits on a rectangular dais representing the heavenly floodwaters. Between her horns is the sun disc representative of the sun-god Ra.

Mehet-Weret



Hathor



So why was Hathor/Mehet-Weret depicted with a threshing tool rising from her back?

Harvest time in the Nile River Valley occurred between April and June, depending on the weather. The harvest preceded the wet summer season when the river floods from June through October.

Sooo, the beginning of the Monsoon, the arrival of the Heavenly Cow, falls in the middle of the main harvest period symbolised by the flail...

That Hathor is intrinsically linked to the part of the solar year marked by Taurus, can be seen from her two sacred plants: papyrus and sycamore.

Hymn to Hathor

Do you hear the soft rattling in the air?
The sweet sounds will bring her near.
Plucking the papyrus for our Mistress,
Shaken stalks to bring her gladness.
In the wild thicket at the Delta’s edge,
Push past the papyrus and the sedge,
Now you see her in her golden glory,
The Great Wild Cow emerges surely
Surely as Sepdet shines in the north,
A rosette adorned Queen comes forth!
Lady of Joy and the Mistress of Song,
She will not tarry, she will not stay long
So like each year, she turns to leave…
She will wait under the Sycamore trees.

Papyrus


The Ritual of Plucking Papyrus for Hathor appears to be an invocation, offering and pacification ritual. The ritual has extremely early origins and may have become a ritualised form of the simple act of picking flowers as votive offerings. Unlike many of Hathor’s festivals and rituals, the Ritual of Plucking Papyrus for Hathor was not centred around a temple. The gifting of plants and flowers were common offering to Hathor, and papyrus plants in particular symbolised life, joy and renewal and when shaken a papyrus plant produces a soft rattling sound. This is the depiction of the ritual:



The shaken papyrus plant may have been an original inspiration for the sistrum, or the sistrum was used to mimic the sound of the papyrus plant. Interestingly, the name of the papyrus plucking ritual, comes from the root "sšš" which means "rattling". Systrums were used to pacify the goddess.

This is an image from the South Wall of the Vestibule of the Small Temple at Abu Simbel. It shaws Hathor "The Great Wild Cow" emerging from the papyrus and something that looks like a flowing water???



So why was papyrus so important? Have a look at this: Monthly variations in mean height (cm), density, number of sprouts/m2 and number of flowering cilms/m2 of Cyperus papyrus for both natural and managed stands. From "Ecology and biomass production of Cyperus papyrus L. on the Nile bank at Damietta, Egypt" by Mamdouh S. Serag

It seems that if you wanted to go plucking papyrus flowers, the best time to do it was during Taurus (April-May), right at the time of the beginning of the monsoon which creates the inundation, the great flood, Mehet-Weret, Hathor...

Sycamore


The ancient Egyptian Tree of Life was the Ficus Sycomoros, a Sycamore fig.

Egyptians considered the fig a delicacy. The fruit gained popularity in ancient Egypt as it grew all over the countryside. Its abundance made it a staple food in ancient Egypt along with foods such as garlic, olives and bread.

The tree and its fruit was particularly sacred within the Cult of Hathor. Tomb paintings often show Hathor either standing on a sycamore tree full of fruit, or actually being the tree, the tree trunk where her legs should be and all the fruit bearing branches actually grow out of her. And she is always depicted holding a tray of bread and pouring water from a jug...


In "The Sacred Tree or the tree in religion and myth" published by J. H. Philpot in 1897 we read that:

"Amongst the ancient Egyptians, whose “exuberant piety” required, according to M. Maspero, “an actual rabble of gods” to satisfy it, trees were enthusiastically worshipped, side by side with other objects, as the homes of various divinities. The splendid green sycamores, which flourish here and there as though by miracle on the edge of the cultivated land, their rootlets bathed by the leakage of the Nile, were accounted divine and earnestly worshipped by Egyptians of every rank, in the belief that they were animated by spirits, who on occasion could emerge from them. They were habitually honoured with fruit offerings, and the charitable found an outlet for their benevolence in daily replenishing the water-jars placed beneath them for the use of the passer-by, who in his turn would express his gratitude for the boon by reciting a prayer to the deity of the tree. The most famous of these sycamores—the sycamore of the South—was regarded as the living body of Hāthor upon earth; and the tree at Metairieh, commonly called the Tree of the Virgin, is probably the successor of a sacred tree of Heliopolis, in which a goddess, perhaps Hāthor, was worshipped. The district around Memphis was known as the Land of the Sycamore, and contained several trees generally believed to be inhabited by detached doubles of Nu̔ît and Hāthor."

Now why was sycamore fig the Egyptian tree of life and why was it sacred to Hathor? 

Sycamore could grow some distance from the Nile, at the edge of the desert, but only in places where its roots could tap into underground water sources. And considering that in Egypt water = life, a tree that can find water in a desert was definitely going to be linked to Hathor, the goddess of the "Heavenly and Earthly" waters...

The tree that produces huge amount of fruit was definitely going to be linked to Hathor, the goddess of fertility. 

But here is the main reason why Sycamore was Hathor's sacred tree, or why Hathor was the lady of the Sycamore:

In the "Plant Inventory, Issues 41-50, By United States. Agricultural Research Service. Plant Science Research Division, page 22" published in 1914 we read that:

"Sycamore has three main harvests: May, June, August/September"

Egyptian farmers divided their year into three seasons, based on the cycles of the Nile River:

Akhet - the inundation (June-September): The Flooding Season.
No farming was done at this time, as all the fields were flooded. Instead, many farmers worked for the pharaoh (king), building pyramids or temples. Some of the time was spent mending their tools and looking after animals.

Peret (October-February): The Growing Season.
In October the floodwaters receded, leaving behind a layer of rich, black soil. This fertile soil was then ploughed and seeded.

Shemu (March-May): The Harvesting Season.
The fully grown crops had to be cut down (harvested) and removed before the Nile flooded again. It was also the time to repair the canals ready for the next flood.

So basically, the sacred tree of Hathor, was full of orange-red ripe fruit from May, beginning of monsoon which was the source of the great flood, until September, the end of the great flood...

I mean, this tree was The Great Flood tree, Hathor's tree, true and true...Hathor as a sycamore tree full of fruit bringing water and bread... 

But Hathor was not all sweetness and spice...

As the Eye of Ra, she protected the sun god from his enemies and was often represented as a uraeus, or rearing cobra, or as a lioness.

As I explained in many posts already, like "The enemy of the sun", the snake represents the Sun's heat.




The sun's heat is the strongest at the end of summer beginning of autumn, in Leo...This is the time of the destructive sun, and the core of the Egyptian legend about Apep, the serpent of chaos. I wrote about this in my post "Apep".

If there was one force Egyptians were scared shitless of, it was the sun. Because they remember the paradise that was green Sahara, before the sun dried it and turned it into a lifeless desert. Which is why they worshipped it, built temples to it, sacrificed to it, and called it Ra...And prayed to it to not do the same thing to the last place where life still flourished in the desert: the Nile valley...

Well, it wasn't actually Ra that kept the Egyptians alive in the desert. It was his "consort", Hathor. Every year, during the hottest part of the year, May - September, the part of the year completely dominated by the destructive sun, Ra, during the time without a drop of rain, Hathor, the Mother Goddess, the Heavenly Cow, would miraculously fill Nile with water of life...



Ra, like every "benevolent" ruler let Hathor take care of people and "rejoiced"...But once Ra got pissed off with people. And when Ra gets pissed off with people, he, like any other "benevolent" ruler, turn into a homicidal vengeful maniac...So he used his "Eye of Ra", Hathor, to punish people. He turned life giving Cow goddess Hathor into murderous Lioness goddess Sekhmet and unleashed her on the world...



Who was Sekhmet?

Sekhmet was the Egyptian goddess of the sun, war, destruction, plagues... She was one of the oldest deities and one of the most powerful. As a sun goddess, she was connected with the scorching, searing and burning heat of the sun. In this aspect, she was known by another name, Nesert that literally means flame. Which is why she was depicted as a woman with the head of a lioness wearing a sun disc circled by a cobra on her head. The hottest part of the solar year in the northern hemispher is the end of summer beginning of autumn, end of July beginning of August, the period marked by the zodiac sign of Leo, Lion.

As we have seen, Ra used her as his weapon against humanity. The Book of the Heavenly Cow (2040-1782 BCE) tells us that Sekhmet "killed everyone she found, toppled their cities, crushed their homes and tore up their fields and gardens"...It is her "lust for blood" that gave Sekhmet her title "The Scarlet Lady" and which is why she was often portrayed wearing a red dress...

What does this story about Sekhmet punishing people actually mean?

Hathor, the Heavenly Cow, represents the moment when the monsoon kickstarts the Nile flood at the beginning of summer, in Taurus.
Sekhmet, the Heavenly Lioness, represents the moment when the full blown flood reaches the Nile delta, in Leo.

Normal flood is life giving. It irrigates the land along the Nile and fertilises it at the same time by dumping loads of silt on it...
Flood which is smaller than normal, means the fields will be less fertile, the grain yields will be lower and the people will suffer from hunger...
But the flood which is a lot bigger than normal, will roll down the Nile valley during Leo like an crazed Lioness "killing everyone, toppling the cities, crushing homes and tearing up the fields and gardens"...

According to the Book of the Heavenly Cow, at first Ra was pleased with the destruction caused by the Eye of Ra. But then he gets persuaded by other gods, who are afraid that if everyone dies, they will not get their sacrifices, that people suffered enough. So, Ra orders that beer be dyed red (!!!) and poured out over the land. The murderous Lioness Sekhmet drinks the beer, mistaking it for blood, and in her inebriated state reverts to being the benign and beautiful Cow Hathor. Festivals during the inundation incorporated drink, music, and dance as a way to appease Hathor and stop her from turning int Sekhmet.

Now interestingly, the water of the annual inundation of the Nile are usually coloured reddish brownish by sediment. And sometimes it can turn really really red and can turn Nile into a river of blood...Like this...



If this extremely red flood was also extremely high destructive flood, this could create as story of blood thirsty Eye of Ra out to destroy the mankind...

Knowing that Sekhmet was the protector of the sun god Ra, it is not surprising that she was closely associated with the pharaoh and his kingship and was believed to protect the pharaoh during war as the warrior goddess.

As we saw, Sekhmet was Hathor's alter ego. Which makes it obvious why she was depicted holding the ankh – the symbol of life (Sekhmet is Hathor in Leo, the time of maximum flood) or papyrus sceptre (Hathor comes forth during the papyrus flowering season, in Taurus).

Sekhmet was associated with another feline and leonine goddess: Bastet.

Bastet was originally a fierce lioness warrior goddess of the sun worshiped throughout most of ancient Egyptian history (just like Sekhmet), but later she was changed into the cat goddess. She was also seen as defender of the king, and consequently of the sun god, Ra and was associated with the Eye of Ra (just like Sekhmet). She also had horrifying sounding epithets like "The Female Devourer" and "The Tearer" due to her destructive second nature. She was also known as "The Lady Of The Flame" (just like Sekhmet)...

Interestingly it is Bastet who was depicted as fighting the evil snake named Apep, an enemy of Ra. Remember my post about Apep and the Lion killing serpent of summer?



Bastet was also the Egyptian goddess of home, fire, sunrise, music, dance, pleasure as well as sexuality, fertility, family, pregnant women and children (just like Hathor). She was sometimes depicted holding a ceremonial sistrum in one hand and menat embellished with a lioness head (both holy instruments of Hathor).

She was seen as The Sacred Cat and Egyptians placed a high regard for cats because of her. Any crimes made against cats were considered very severe and very unlucky.

She is one of the most well-loved goddesses of Egypt; especially Lower Egypt.  Many temples and statues were built to her honor by her cult following in the cities of Memphis, Heliopolis, and Herakliopolis. However, of all the cities, none could surpass the reverence she received in the city of Busbastis near the Delta, which was named after her. Every year, in the months of April and May (Taurus, the time when Hathor brings forth the monsoon), the historian Herodotus noted that her yearly festivals drew some 700,000 people in huge ships singing songs and dancing as they head to the city. Prodigious amounts of wine were drunk in these festivals. Upon reaching Bubastis, great sacrifices were made.

Why? So that the Lioness turns into a Cat...And doesn't go rampaging and destroying everything during Leo...

But an extremely high flood is only one way in which life bringing Cow Hathor can turn into life taking Lioness...Extremely low flood, or no flood is another way...Which can happen if for every reason the monsoon which feeds the flood didn't come...Which can happen during catastrophic weather events...

Believe or not we have another story, the myth of the Distant Goddess, from the Late and Ptolemaic periods which talks exactly about one such event. In it we read that "

"...the Eye of Ra, Hathor, rebels against Ra's control and rampages freely in a foreign land: Libya west of Egypt or Nubia (!!!) to the south. Weakened by the loss of his Eye, Ra sends another god, such as Thoth, to bring her back to him. Once pacified, the goddess returns to become the consort of the sun god..."

What does this mean? Have a look at this map:


The Nile enters Egypt from Nubia. The source of the Nile for the Egyptians was "somewhere in Nubia, or beyond Nubia". So in the above story, it was most likely originally Nubia, where Hathor "rampaged" while refusing "to release her milk"...Basically no flood came from Nubia and that happened because no monsoon came to the Ethiopian highlands...And if this happened for several years in a row, like 100 years in a row, that would have disastrous consequences for the Egyptian civilisation. Like it could lead to the collapse of the Old Kingdom... We now know that one such catastrophic weather event coincided with the collapse of the Old Kingdom. Scientists don't call it a rampaging rebellious cow. They call it "4.2 kiloyear event". Here is the map of the effect of this event which lasted for 100 yeas around 2200 BC. In Egypt it caused aridification, which was the consequence of the failing monsoon...




Interestingly, there is actually another goddess, another Eye of Ra, who also rebelled against Ra, left Egypt and rampaged in Nubia...This goddess is also another lioness goddess: Tefnut.



And believe or not, Tefnut is a deity of moisture, moist air, dew and rain in Ancient Egyptian religion. Her name literally translates as "That Water"...She is the twin sister and consort of the air god Shu...What do you get when you marry rain and air? Monsoon which feeds the Nile flood...Why is she a Lioness goddess? Because the flood, the result of her marriage with Shu, peaks during and after the period of solar year marked with Leo...

In the earlier Pyramid Texts she is said to produce pure waters from her vagina...Do we need any more clues to decipher the true identity of Tefnut?

During the 18th and 19th Dynasties, particularly during the Amarna period, Tefnut was depicted in human form wearing a low flat headdress, topped with sprouting plants (because she is the monsoon, the bringer of life). Akhenaten's mother, Tiye was depicted wearing a similar headdress, and identifying with Hathor-Tefnut.

Tefnut, who was the daughter of Ra, escaped to Nubia in a rage, jealous of her grandchildren's higher worship. There, Tefnut, the angry lioness, became the terror of the neighbourhood, attacking both men and animals. She blew smoke and fire from her nostrils and eyes and fed on the flesh and blood of her victims.

Ra missed his daughter and so he sent Shu and Thoth as his emissaries to ask her to return home.

Thoth, disguised as baboon (!!!) found her first and tried to persuade her that Egypt was a much civilised place than the wild of the Nubian desert. In Egypt, he said , her worshipers would serve up to her on altars the game Tefnut was now having to run down and kill for herself. He described the festivals and joy that characterised Egypt and generally made the case for a superior life there. Then her husband, twin brother Shu came and it was him who finally persuaded Tefnut to go (back) to Egypt.

Tefnut's return trip became a triumphant progress through the Egyptian villages. The goddess was accompanied by Nubian musicians, clowns, and baboons; the people turned out to rejoice in her presence, and wild drunkenness accompanied the festivals in her honor. As Tefnut progressed through the villages, Tefnut lost her ferocity and became much kinder and gentler.

I mean this is pretty much self explanatory :)

Forget about Thoth and his yapping about civilisation and such crap. That did nothing. It was the baboon costume :) that did it...Here is Thoth as a baboon, 1800 BC...


This is not just any baboon. Hamadryas baboon. From Ethiopian highlands. The same place where monsoon (Tefnut-moisture + Shu-wind) causes enormous precipitations between May and August. Which is the source of the great flood, which is the source of life. Guess what? Hamdryas baboon mating habits are really interesting. Hamadryas baboons don't have a breeding mating season. Instead, they breed year-round with peak a period, occurring in May-July...At the exact time when the monsoon arrives...So you could say that Hamadryas baboon "brings forth Tefnut (moisture, rain)". Well actually it's her "husband" Shu (wind) which brings her, but the baboon "persuades" her...And so the "moisture from the wind", otherwise known as monsoon, falls on the Ethiopian highlands, and from there it enters Nubia and from there it becomes "Tefnut's return trip became a triumphant progress through the Egyptian villages. During which goddess was accompanied by Nubian musicians, clowns, and baboons (!!!)"...

I think this is totally mind blowing. For so many reasons. When I first learned about the Egyptian civilisation, I immediately become puzzled by all the "primitive" animal gods...Why would someone like Egyptians consider baboons, cows, lions, hawks...sacred. Well now I know. Now I also know that these are not gods. They are deified calendar markers...These animals are only sacred because they mark significant moments on the Solar year which are related to the behaviour of the only two real Egyptian deities: Father Sun (Sky) and Mother Earth (Nile)...So how did we end up with all this crazy gods and goddesses? Well possibly because time passed, people died, cultures mixed, the original meaning of the symbols made by the villagers were forgotten by people who lived in cities and have lost contact with nature...And also don't forget the priests. The priests who lived quite well on peddling more and more amazing stories about gods and goddess who need to be appeased by more and more sacrifices, bigger and bigger temples and more and more donations to the priests...

The main question to me though is: has anyone before me seen this??? And if not, why not? And if not, what is the effect this article is going to have on the Egyptology? None probably...