Sunday 30 January 2022

White feast

Vlasi (mountain shepherds) from Eastern Serbia have a very interesting ritual from the cult of the dead, which is performed on Pentecost, for people who died before Easter...

The preparation for the ritual starts on Easter. A virgin girl from the family of the deceased person is tasked with going every morning to the well and fetching water in two jugs, like this one...

These jugs with water are brought home blessed and dedicated to the the deceased with the words "This water is for the deceased...so and so". The jugs are then placed outside of the house next to the house door...

On the day of Pentecost, a special "white" feast (only white food and drink are served) is prepared for the family and friends of the deceased, who come to witness the ritual...

Ritual begins before sunrise. Three women light a candle each. Then, after they bow towards the rising sun, they kneel, kiss the ground, and exclaim this prayer: I pray that the deceased, so and so, is let into the light (sunny) place...

Then the three women drink the water from three glasses and eat some of the white food laid on three plates...The feast then starts and lasts until the sunset...

When the sun sets, the virgin girl that gathered the water from the well, brings some water to all the other houses in the village. The last jug is brought back to the well from which the water is taken and is poured back into the well...

This is really cool on so many levels. 

First I love the fact that the women pray to the sun to let the deceased "into the light place"...Does this mean "let him return, be reborn"? Is this sunny, bright place, our world, the world of living?

Second, why is all that water gathered for the deceased? Well, did you know that in Serbia people believed that droughts could be caused by the angry thirsty ancestors who didn't receive their water libations? I talked about this in my post "Thirst"....


In Serbia, for 40 days after the burial, the family of the deceased used to take water from their well to 40 different houses, different house each day, "for the soul"...

In Stip, Macedonia there is a curse  "May no one bring water for him for the other world"...Some curse...

This belief that "the otherworld was a thirsty place" was widespread and ancient. And was probably the reason why we find "empty" vessels in graves since Neolithic...Were they actually placed into the graves full of water (for the road) which evaporated? I talked about this in my post "One for the road"...


Another interesting thing about this ritual is that all the food and drink had to be white? Why? Is it because white was the color of death? Or because white was the color of light? Not sure what to think here...

Finally the whole water gathering ritual is seriously cool. The water is gathered by "a virgin girl". A girl who had her first period. Whose "water of life has started to flow". Who is full of "life force". But who has not used any of this life force for producing new life yet...

Water is gathered from a spring. Spring water is in Serbia called "živa voda" (live water, water of life) and is believed to have magical properties. It is believed that it can even bring the dead back to life...


The spring water is the menstrual blood of the mother earth...And it is literally "water of life". The water for the ritual is collected during spring time...From virgin Mother Earth...Full of life force, which she still hasn't used this producing new life (crops) yet...

This link between virgin girls, virgin spring earth, water, life and rebirth is what I talked about in my post "Willow in Slavic folklore"

So where's willow here? Well, willow was in the Balkans often planted on graveyards...I didn't understand why, until now...Willow, water, always thirsty dead??? Did people believe that willows attract water? I know they used willow branches for finding water...



Also, in some parts of the Balkans, Ohrid, Macedonia for instance, in the jugs of water "for the dead" which was brought to the graveyard on Pentecost, people always put a green willow twig...

It is interesting that willow, used in fertility rituals, was also used in ancestral, cult of the dead, rituals...Not surprising though...Serbs believed that all the good that comes to them is sent to them by the dead...Their dead ancestors...The thirsty ones...


In return for regular mention, food and drink...I talked about this in my posts "Diduch", "Thirst", "Blood red wine", "Wolf feast", "Tombstones"...

Sources (Serbian)

Vlah custom description: "Namenjivanje za dušu (daće, pomane)" (Offerings "for the soul") - Mira Stevanović

Willow in the cult of the dead: "Rečnik srpskih narodnih verovanja o biljkama" (Dictionary of Serbian folk beliefs about plants) - Veselin Čajkanović

Under the blazing Sun-Sirius

Sumerian Seal, Ur III period (22nd to 21st century BC)...Check every source related to this seal and all you find is: Gilgamesh...Weeeell...


Again we see bull (symbol of summer, May/Jun/Jul, which starts in Taurus, Apr/May) and lion (symbol of autumn, Aug/Sep/Oct, which starts in Leo, Jul/Aug)...I talked about symbols of the seasons in this post...


The Taurus and Leo here have nothing to do with stars. These are ancient animal calendar markers which have been used since Neolithic all over Eurasia and North Africa, and which are derived from mating or birthing seasons of depicted animals. 

Taurus, Bull, Cow and calf, Calf - Beginning of the calving season of Eurasian wild cattle, Apr/May

Leo, Lion, Lioness, Lion and lioness, Two lions - Beginning of the main mating season of Eurasian lions, Jul/Aug

The star between them is Ishtar (The Lady of heaven, Sirius) Because Sirius rises with the sun, pretending to be The Morning Star, during Jul/Aug, at the end of summer (bull) and at the beginning of autumn (Lion)...I talked about this in my post "Ninshubur"...

This period is marked by Leo, the beginning of the main mating season of the Eurasian lions. And this is why Ishtar, Inanna, who was known as "Lioness of heaven", is depicted riding on a lion...We find this Lion Lady all over Eurasia and North Africa...I talked about it in my post "Assumption of Mary"...

In Mesopotamia, the climatic year is divided into two halves: 

hot, dry half (Apr/May - Oct/Nov)

cool, wet half (Oct/Nov - Apr/May)

The hottest, driest part of the year is in the middle of the hot, dry half of the year, in Jul/Aug, at the end of summer, symbolised by bull and at the beginning of autumn, symbolised by lion. Between bull and lion...

So the star between bull and lion is both Sirius and Sun...

This is the time of the Dragon...Also known as Nergal, the god of death, the destructive sun of Leo...Who was even depicted as a lion man...

Dragon, which is here depicted between bull and lion...According to the official description of the seal, apparently "unrelated to the other figures in the scene" 🙂...Just a decoration...

I talked about this in my post "Is that you Gilgamesh"...

But something super important happens in Apr/May, beginning of summer marked by Taurus, bull...

Tigris and Euphrates flood. 

The water flow tables for Tigris and Euphrates...




The flow peaks in Taurus...At the beginning of summer. The season dominated by the sun...Hence the Bull, symbol of summer, symbol of the sun, with lapis lazuli beard, symbol of flowing water...The water bull...


The reason why the water flow peaks at that time of the year is because these rivers are mostly filled by the snowmelt from the mountains to the east and north of Mesopotamia, which peaks in Apr/May. It is basically sun filling the two rivers with water...Which is why the above bull head with lapis lazuli beard is thought to depict Shamash, Sun God...I talked about this in my post "Shamash young and old"...

I talked about the symbolic link between bull and sun in my post "Solar bull"...

The "Debate between Winter and Summer" says that: "By hand Winter guided the spring floods, the abundance and life of the Land, down from the edge of the hills. He set his foot upon the Tigris and Euphrates like a big bull and released them into the fields"...I talked about this in my post "Rain and flood"...

Anyway, this is the meaning of the two flows of water pouring out of the bull's snout on our seal...The two flows usually seen coming out of Enki, the god of fresh water and the source of Tigris and Euphrates...Here depicted standing on a bull...

So finally, what's with the guy riding the Bull and fighting the Lion? 

You can see that the water flow coming out of the bull ends under the lion...The flood that peaks in Taurus ends by the time Leo arrives. Leo marks the beginning of the period with the lowest water level in Tigris and Euphrates...

So I believe that the guy riding the bull is symbolically saying "Summer, which starts in Taurus, good"...And the guy fighting the bull is symbolically saying "Autumn, which starts in Leo, bad"...

If you want to know more about ancient animal and plant calendar markers, start here then check the rest of the blog posts I still didn't add to this page, and finally to to @serbiaireland and check my twitter threads I still didn't convert to blog post...I am 9 months behind now...

Pegasus and Chimera

Pin head in form of a winged horse, ca. 8th–7th century B.C. Luristan, western Iran in the Zagros Mountains. Currently in the Met Museum...

Cool right? For so many reasons. 

First: How old is the oldest depiction of Pegasus in Europe?

Second: Please note sun symbol on the horses side. Did you know that horse mating season is governed by the sun and it peaks on summer solstice. 


I talked about this in my post "Unicorn"...

The link between horses reproductive cycle and the sun is why we see things like these: Bronze Age "Sun Chariot" pulled by a horse, Denmark 1400 BC...



And why Greek sun god rides in a chariots pulled by white horses...


And why when Ezekiel accuses the builders of the First Temple of being Sun worshippers, he says that they kept horse pulled chariot in the temple...I talked about this in my post "Sun god from the first temple"....

And why "Solar horse" is such a common motif on Celtic coins...

And why white horse is the sacred animal of the Slavic sun god Svetovid, and was kept in his temples...


I talked about this in my post "Svetovid"...

And so on and so forth...

BTW, I discovered this link between horses and sun while I was researching the reason why Eastern Mediterranean is why local Sea gods were so obsessed with horses...


It turns out the horse mating season overlaps with the sailing season in the region...I talked about this in my posts "Trojan horse"...

Anyway, here is a very interesting thing I discovered the other day:

the link between horse and sun can be seen from the fact that in some parts of Croatia people believed that dragon is "a winged horse"...

Eeeee, what?

To understand the importance of this belief, we need to understand that snakes are solar animals. They are in our world when sun is in our world (hot part of the year) and they are in the underworld when sun is in the underworld (cold part of the year)...I talked about this in my post "The chthonic animal"...

This makes them a perfect solar symbol...Symbol of the sun and the sun's heat...Slavs actually believed that snakes feed off the sun's heat...And that when snakes get old, they turn into dragons...

And dragons, old snakes, are symbol of the old sun, destructive summer sun which burns the land and causes drought. Steals and guards water...Which is why in Slavic mythology, dragon, always breathes fire...


There is actually a Serbian belief that "a snake got wings when it lived over 100 years, after which it flew away to live in lakes and waters"...Just like a Dragon...

This is in addition to the belief from Ukraine and Poland that snakes once had wings and flew in the sky. But the sun burned their wings and they fell on the ground....

I talked about snakes and dragons in my post "Letnitsa treasure" (and many others)...

And now we see that Serbs also saw a dragon, solar symbol, as a winged horse...

This link between dragons and winged horses doesn't end here...

Slavs also believed that when a hero kills a dragon by cutting his head(s) off (the only way to kill a dragon by the way), "rivers (of fertility) flow from each of dragon's necks"...

Did you know that, "according to legend, everywhere the winged horse Pegasus struck his hoof to the earth, a water spring burst forth...Without proper explanation...Very very interesting...

Pegasus which allowed Bellerophon to ride him in order to defeat the monstrous Chimera...



Is that The Chimera, whom Homer, in his Iliad, depicts like: "a thing of immortal make, not human, lion front and snake behind, a goat in the middle, snorting out breath of terrible flame, of bright fire". 

But was Chimera a monster or a complex solar symbol? I asked this question in my post "Chimera" and I explained why I thought so...But I now think that, even though I was on the right track in interpreting Chimera as a complex solar symbol, I originally misinterpreted part of its meaning. Because at the time when I wrote the original article about Chimera I was still not aware of the Animal Calendar markers...

I correctly interpreted the meaning of 

The snake (Apr/May, beginning of summer, because this is when the most common snake species in Eurasia start to mate)



The lion (Jul/Aug, beginning of autumn, because this is when the Eurasian lions main mating season starts)

Well, I know this now...At that time I was just guessing...All I knew at that time was the mating season of Ibex goats...Which in the Alps does peak around winter solstice...I cared too much about solstices at that time, which lead me astray...

So I misinterpreted the meaning of the goat head in Chimera as the symbol of the winter solstice...I was wrong...

Cause what I didn't know then was the link between Ibex goats, their mating season and the beginning of the rain season in Eastern Mediterranean, Levant, Middle East, Central Asia, Iran...I didn't know about the Goat of Rain...

You can read more about this in my posts "Dancing goat men from Luristan", "Green pastures" and "Pan, goat of rain"...and many others...

And in this climatic area where we find roots of all the Greek myths, the mating season of Ibex goats starts in Oct/Nov, the beginning of winter...

Now in the past, people in that part of the world divided the solar year into two seasons:

1. Winter, cool, wet, season of life (Nov-Apr)

2. Summer, hot, dry, season of death (May-Oct)

Summer in Mesopotamia was dominated by Utu/Shamahs, the sun god...The Dragon...Seven headed dragon to be more precise...With seven snake heads...One for each hot month of the summer...And lion's body...

I talked about this in my post "Seven headed dragon", "Winged superhuman hero", "Ninshubur"...

Sounds familiar??? Snake, solar animal, the symbol of the sun, sun's heat...Lion, solar animal, the symbol of the destructive sun, sun's heat...We find the same symbolism in Bactria...You can read more about this in my post "Winged superhuman hero dominating snakes"...



Amazing...It points us towards the fact that lion-snake composite animal is actually dragon, symbol of the hot dry half of the year...

But what about the goat? To understand where goat fits into all this, we need to plot the beginnings of the mating seasons of snake, lion and goat on the climatic solar year in Eastern Mediterranean, Levant, Mesopotamia, Central Asia, Iran...


This is what I wasn't aware of when I wrote my article about Chimera...The tree animals that it consists of mark the beginning, the middle and the end of the "old" summer, the hot, dry part of the year dominated by the sun...The season of death...

The season of the Dragon...I think Chimera makes a lot more sense now...Particularly that it "snorts out the breath of the terrible flame of bright fire"...Just like a dragon...

And the guy who kills this terrible beast rides on a winged horse...A symbol of the sun and another Dragon...Funny...Just like St George (Old Sun God Jarilo, the Scorcher) kills the Dragon (Symbol of sun's fire) while riding on a white horse (Solar animal and symbol of summer)...

Ok...That's it for tonight. If you want to know more about ancient animal and plant calendar markers, start here then check the rest of the blog posts I still didn't add to this page, and finally to to @serbiaireland and check my twitter threads I still didn't convert to blog post...I am 9 months behind now...

Saturday 29 January 2022

Letnitsa Treasure

Here are some very interesting metal plaques from the so called "Letnitsa Treasure", a 4th c. BC Thracian hoard discovered near Letnitsa, Bulgaria...

This one depicts one of the most common themes from Balkan fairytales: a princess being kidnapped by a dragon...

What happens next in Balkan fairytales is that a prince goes looking for the princess to rescue her. There are several metal plaques in the "Letnitsa Treasure" depicting a mounted warrior, like this one for instance...

Eventually, the prince finds the princess, living quite surprisingly, not unhappily, with the dragon...

What happens next in Balkan fairytales is that the prince manages to persuade the princess to help him defeat the dragon, by tricking the dragon into revealing his weakness...Dragon killed, princess saved, everyone happy. Particularly the princess who is sitting on the prince's laps with his hand up her skirt 🙂...As depicted on this last plaque from the "Letnitsa Treasure"...

Now how do we know that this is a dragon? It looks more like giant snake...With a crown...

Slavic folk tradition related to snakes, which consists of huge number of beliefs, taboos and rituals, is one of the most interesting and most complex in the world. And extremely old...

In Slavic mythology snake is closely connected to two mythological creatures: the Snake King and the Dragon...

And actually the only way to understand the meaning of the beliefs and rituals related to snakes is to look at them in correlation with beliefs related to the Snake King and the Dragon. And the other way round...

The snake king is an old male snake which wears a crown or a jewel on his forehead and usually guards a treasure...And sacred knowledge...

Like "Nemušti jezik" from Serbian folk tales. A language that a man can use to communicate with all living creatures in the world. You can't learn this language. You can only get the knowledge of this language if a Snake king spits into your mouth...

I talked about this in my posts "Glaucos" and "Kassandra"...

It was also believed that the Snake king commanded all the other snakes and told told them who to bite and kill...

Slavs recognized male and female snakes and actually have different words for male and female snakes. Female snake is called "zmija, zmeja"... while male snake is normally called "smuk,  smok"... They were believed to be husband and wife or brother and sister...

What is interesting is that "smuk, smok" is another word for dragon, besides the most common word "zmaj, zmej", which is the masculine form of the word for snake "zmija, zmeja". In Slavic mythology dragon is believed to be an "old male snake"...

This is very interesting as it shows direct link between snakes and dragons and shows that Slavs believed that dragons were actually male snakes.

Slavs also believed that snakes were directly linked to the sun and that they fed off the sun's heat...I talked about this in my post "Enemy of the sun"...

In Poland, people believed that Snake king lives among the roots of an old Hazel tree. Every autumn he gathers all the snakes, who then slither up the tree to its branches "to see the sun for the last time" before they go under ground...

Snakes are solar animals. They are in our world when sun is in our world (hot part of the year) and they are in the underworld when sun is in the underworld (cold part of the year)...I talked about this in my post "The chthonic animal"

Snakes are symbol of the sun and the sun's heat. They are also symbols of the beginning of summer, as vipers, the most common Eurasian snakes, start mating in Apr/May, beginning of summer...

And dragons, old snakes, are symbol of the old sun, destructive summer sun which burns the land and causes drought. Steals and guards water...Which is why in Slavic mythology, dragon, always breathes fire...

And which is why in the past, during spring droughts, Serbs used to go to mountain lakes, on St George's day, and pray for rain on lake shores "to the dragons living in the lake who swallowed the rain"...

I talked about this in my post "Dragon who stole rain"...

There is actually a Serbian belief that "a snake got wings when it lived over 100 years, after which it flew away to live in lakes and waters"...Just like a Dragon...

This is in addition to the belief from Ukraine and Poland that snakes once had wings and flew in the sky. But the sun burned their wings and they fell on the ground. I wrote about this in my article about Slavic belief in the link between snakes and sun...

Now, there is an interesting Slavic word "jar" which means young, green, spring...It is the root of the name of the Slavic sun god, Jarilo (pronounced Yahreeloh)...He is the life giving spring and early summer sun that brings back life to the frozen earth...Here is a depiction of Jarilo painted by Russian artist Andrey Shishkin...

Jarilo is the original Green Man...This is Zeleni Jura (Green Jarilo) walking the earth. Part of Jurjevanje, celebration of the spring return of Jarilo, Sun god, from the land of the dead...Bela Krajina, area inhabited by descendants of Serbians who migrated here during Turkish invasions of the Balkans. Today split between Croatia/Slovenia...

But the root "jar" can also mean "brightly burning" and "raging, furious"...

This means that Jarilo can also mean "The Scorcher", the life destroying burning sun of the late summer and early autumn...

Two suns, young and old, the life creator and life destroyer...In one...

Jurjevo, the celebration of the return of Jarilo, is today known as St George's day. St George is basically Christianised Jarilo...

Jurjevo is the celebration of the beginning of the summer, the domain of the sun...And dragons...Because as the summer goes on, and the sun gets hotter and hotter, snake, the symbol of sun's heat, grows older and older and eventually turns into dragon, the symbol of destructive sun's heat...

Jarilo, The Scorcher, The Dragon...To whom Serbs, sacrificed rams during droughts, on St George's day, with blood poured into the lake, for the dragon who stole rain...

Funny...

St George = Jarilo = Dragon...

By the way, Serbs believed that the Snake King, who is "An Old Male snake", The Dragon, also had a "green branch in his mouth"...

Interesting right? 

Snake King = Dragon = Jarilo = Green man...

By the way, the dragons who steal princesses in the Balkan fairytales usually live in palaces...They are kings...Snake kings...

I believe that Jurjevo, Jarilo's day, is at the same time the celebration of good spring sun and bad summer sun. The day of thanks for the spring and prayers for the summer...Anyway, on that day spring ends, summer begins...

And every year, on The Day of Jarilo, The Day of Dragon, the Young Spring Earth, Vesna, is "sacrificed" to the Young Sun, Jarilo (The Dragon). Spring (the princess) is "sacrificed" (it ends) so that Summer (The Dragon) can begin???

But wait, St George is a dragon killer!!! Well, what's the best way to Christianise Jarilo, The Sun, The Scorcher, The Dragon, than to turn it into it's opposite...The Dragon Killer...

Anyway, as I said, in AD Balkan Slavic fairytales, prince kills the dragon, gets the girl and lives with her happily ever after...Any BC myths like these?

BTW, this link between sun, snakes and dragons from Slavic mythology allows us to decipher meaning of snakes and dragons from other mythologies too...They are animal calendar markers. Snake is the animal calendar marker for the beginning of summer (Apr/May), when Eurasian snakes begin to mate. And dragon, the old snake, which was sometimes depicted as a lion with snake head(s), is the animal calendar marker for the end of summer (Jul/Aug), when Eurasian lions begin to mate, and snakes get old...

You can read more about snakes, dragons and lions in my posts "You will trample great lion and serpent", "Chimera", "Lion killing snake", "Jörmungandr", "Bactrian snakes and dragons", "Seven headed dragon", "Khafajeh vase", "Nude winged hero dominating snakes", "Winged superhuman hero", "Tiger and dragon", "Eagle snake struggle", "Wolf vs snake"...

More about ancient animal and plant calendar markers, start here then check the rest of the blog posts I still didn't add to this page, and finally to to @serbiaireland and check my twitter threads I still didn't convert to blog post...I am 9 months behind now...