Sunday, 31 July 2022

12 Olympians

In this article, I would like to again point at things hidden in plain sight...Around 435 BC, Greek sculptor Phidias made a giant seated statue of the sky and thunder god Zeus for the Temple of Zeus in Olympia...

Unfortunately the statue was destroyed during the 5th century AD; but we know what the statue looked like from Greek and Roman coins...

And from written records, like the one left by the 2nd c. AD geographer and traveler Pausanias

What I want to talk about here is what Pausanias says about the platform that supported the throne. He says that it depicted a line of paired deities standing between the sun and the moon...

Zeus and Hera...and Hermes and Vesta close to Hermes...and Eros receiving Aphrodite...and Apollo and Artemis...and Athene and Hercules, and at the end Amphitrite and Poseidon...

They were all coupled based on some mythological link that connected them. What is interesting is that Phidias depicted Hermes coupled with Hestia...Why? 

What is the relationship between these two deities? They are not husband and wife, nor brother and sister, nor mother and son nor protector and protege...

Holy fire and a Messenger of Zeus? What could connect the two? 

That these two were not put together by accident on the Zeus's throne, can be seen from this Fragment of a Hellenistic relief (1st c. BC–1st c. AD) currently in the Walters Art Museum and depicting the twelve Olympians...


From left to right: 

Hestia, Hermes, Aphrodite, Ares, Demeter, Hephaestus, Hera, Poseidon, Athena, Zeus, Artemis, Apollo

Here they are, Hestia and Hermes...

Hestia and Hermes were also linked together in The Homeric Hymn 29 to Hestia...

"Hestia, in the...dwellings of all, both deathless gods and men who walk on earth, you have gained an everlasting abode and highest honour...for without you mortals hold no banquet...and you, Hermes, messenger of the blessed gods, bearer of the golden rod, giver of good...be favourable and help us, you (Hermes) and Hestia...come and dwell in this glorious house in friendship together; for you two, well knowing the noble actions of men, aid on their wisdom and their strength..."

Really, what's going on with these two? 

Well, lots of people have asked this question before me...

Jean-Pierre Vernant asked this question in 1969 in his paper "Hestia - Hermes : The religious expression of space and movement among the Greeks"

Patricia J. Thompson asked it in 1994 in "Dismantling the Master's House: A Hestian/Hermean Deconstruction of Classic Texts"

Apparently this was still an unanswered question in 2001, so Jean Robert asks it again in "Hestia and Hermes: The Greek Imagination of Motion and Space"

The explanation given by Jean Robert, is that Hestia and Hermes are coupled because they express two opposing, but linked concepts...

Hestia, whose place is at the hearth, in the center of the house, rules over the inside. Hermes, whose place is the door, at the edge of the house, rules over the outside...Hestia anchors, Hermes makes mobile...

Cool. But I think that there is much better reason for this seemingly strange association. Guess what was the first thing Hermes did after he was born? He escaped his cradle, and managed to steal Apollo's cattle...


Funnily enough the thieving Hermes was on the above vase depicted as an adult...With all his attributes including the caduceus, his magic staff...Important detail! Artistic freedom I suppose?

Anyway, after stealing Apollo's cattle, Hermes then wanted to make the first ever sacrifice to the gods. But he couldn't. Cause in order to do so, he needed fire, Hestia, to burn his offerings in...But he had no fire, and apparently, making fire was an art still not invented...

Sooo: "He [Hermes] chose a stout laurel branch and trimmed it with the knife ...held firmly in his hand: and the hot smoke rose up. For it was Hermes who first invented fire-sticks and fire"...From "Hymn 4 to Hermes"...

Wow...


A very strange thing to be attributed to a messenger of Zeus...

Or is it? 

Remember the article about this excerpt from the Homeric Hymn To Hestia: "Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollo...come now into this house...having one mind with Zeus the all-wise..."?

In it I talked about how strange it was that Classical cultures still talked about the invention of fire making as if it was a really really big deal?

And I also talked about the fact that before people learned to make fire themselves, Fire (Hestia) descended to earth from the Sun (Apollo, Helios) through Thunder/Lightning (Zeus)... 

So if fire (Hestia) was made (Fathered) by the thunder/lightning (Zeus) then Hermes, "the messenger of Zeus", is the perfect inventor of the fire stick and fire making... 

Remember, Hermes was not the only messenger of Zeus...He shared his workload with Iris. (Attic Red Figure Stamnos, ca. 480-470 BC, Louvre)

Look they are both holding caduceus stick...

Actually, before Hermes got the job, Iris was the sole "speaker of messages of Zeus"...The only "voice of Zeus"...Which is kind of important...

Remember the article "Iris" in which I proposed that Iris might not have been the personification of the rainbow...But that instead she could have been the personification of thunder/lightning, the true "voice of the thunder god"...


Remember that before people invented the fire stick (sorry before Hermes invented the fire stick), Zeus used lightning to light fires on earth...Lightning was the "fire stick" of the Thunder god...

Thunder, which is inseparable from lightning, is the "voice of thunder god"...Which, as I explained in my article about Iris, I believe is the meaning of the "speaker of messages of Zeus"...

If Iris is personification of thunder/lightning, and Hermes is her later replacement as the messenger of Zeus, then Hermes would be perfect god to invent fire stick...The human replacement for thunder/lightning...

That's it...

I mean could there be a more direct link between Hestia and Hermes? Without Hermes there would be no Hestia...To me this is glaringly obvious...Maybe too obvious for some...

But if you "miss" (ignore) this, you can then go ahead and write endless academic papers trying to answer the question "why are Hestia and Hermes linked together"...

Anyway, this brings me back to one of my favourite unanswered questions: why was invention of fire such a big deal in all our mythologies, if people knew how to make fire, like, for ever?

Having one mind with Zeus

"Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollo...come now into this house...having one mind with Zeus the all-wise..." from the "Homeric Hymn To Hestia"...

What does this mean?

Maybe the same thing as this: In Hindu mythology, Agni (fire) was believed to have three manifestations: Sun, Lightning, Fire...Which is why he had three heads...I talked about Agni and why he likes riding on a ram in my post "The ram of Agni"...

Just like Slavic Supreme god Triglav (Three headed)..."Because it is a great secret how Svarog (heavenly and earthly fire) is at the same time Perun (thunder) and Svetovid (Sun)"...I talked about Triglav in my posts "Triglav Trojan Trinity Trimurti Agni" and "Lugus or Triglav"...

Interesting right? Cause before people learned how to make fire, fire descended from the sun through lightning...

By the way, modern science seem to confirm that it is indeed Sun (Surya) which gives power to Indra (lightning) which becomes Agni (fire)...I talked about this in my post "Sun thunder fire"...


Or, Sun (Apollo, Helios) through Lightning (Zeus) gives birth to Fire (Hestia)...Hence "one mind", one essence...

Basically, sun gives birth to fire through lightning...Which is why Surya, the sun god, had a daughter, Tapati, whose name literally means "warming", "the hot one", "burning one"...Who was apparently the same as Scythian Tabiti...And Herodotus claimed that Tabiti was the same as Hestia...

And it is because the hearth fire is the same fire burning inside of the sun, that people make sure the hearth fire burns through the winter solstice (Christmas) night, the longest night, "so the sun's fire doesn't get extinguished"...I talked about this in my posts "Badnjak", "La buche de noel" and "Yule log in English tradition"

This fire which descended from the sky, was imagined as a firebird which came down from the sky to earth to nest. It had to be found, caught and brought home...Hence legends about "the hunt for the firebird whose one feather can light up the whole room"...I talked about this in my post "Firebird"...

How old are these legends? Well they most likely predate the moment when "Prometheus stole the fire from the gods" (thunder god to be more precise)...I talked about this in my post "Prometheus"...

Or, before people accidentally discovered fire making while drilling...I talked about this in my post "Fire-drill"...

And how long ago did people become masters of fire, considering that "fire-drill" was still worshiped as deity in Mesopotamia...I talked about this in my post "Holy fire-drill"...

How long ago did people become masters of fire, considering that fire making or fire stealing or fire catching was still the stuff of legends during classical times?

How long ago did people become masters of fire, considering that hearth was the center of the house cult, the house altar in so many Eurasian cultures until recently? 

And considering that making sure that hearth fire never died was so important to Eurasian people until very very recently? 

And considering that "live fire pulled out of wood" (kindled using fire drill) was believed to have magic properties by may Eurasian people until very very very recently? 

Like among the Serbs...I talked about this in my posts "Fire goddess", "Bride and hearth", "Verige", "Live fire"...

I am not saying that people have not been using fire for a very very long time...But I am pretty sure that the making of fire was a pretty recent invention...Neolithic...Mesolithic at the earliest...Which makes legends about the the time when people had to find or steel fire, before they learned how to make it, very very very old indeed... 

BTW, Hestia, (the etymology unknown, believed to be Pre-Greek) has only one cognate, Slavic word jesteja (yesteya) meaning "hearth, paved area around or in front of a hearth used for cooking food" which comes from "jesti" (yestee) meaning to eat...

Which would make Jesteja (Yesteya) the place where food was cooked...Which is exactly what hestia was...Not any fire...Domestic fire...The fire where food was cooked...

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

Friday, 29 July 2022

Who are Persephone's parents

Few days ago, @M0h_5en led me into a snake pit 🙂 and suddenly there were mythological snakes slithering everywhere...

I don't know where is the best place to start writing about it, cause it's all interconnected...So I'll just start here: Who are Persephone's parents?

Both Hesiod and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, describe Persephone as the daughter of Zeus and his older sister, Demeter, though no myths exist describing her conception or birth....

Well, that's kind of true...According to the Orphic theogony, "when Rhea (Earth goddess), gave birth to Zeus (storm god), she became Demeter (Grain goddess)"...

Zeus then attempted to rape Demeter (Rhea), who turned herself into a snake to scare him. But Zeus also turned himself into a snake and eventually succeeded in raping her...

The child born from that union was their daughter Persephone...Zeus then "seduced" Persephone in a shape of a snake, after which Persephone gave birth to Zagreus/Dyonisus...

What does all this mean? I hate to be repeating myself again and again and again (and again 🙂)...but I think it's time to look at climate, agriculture calendar and lifecycle of snakes (and snake eagles, symbols of Zeus) in Ancient Greece...

As I said already, Demeter is the Olympian goddess of the harvest and agriculture, presiding over grains and the fertility of the earth...So Rhea (Earth Goddess) turns into Demeter (Grain Harvest Goddess) at the time of the grain harvest...

According to Hesiod, who wrote in mid 8th century BCE in Bœotia, grain harvest started: "When the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas, are rising". Which in the mid 8th century BCE in Bœotia, was around the first week of May...In Taurus...I talked about this in my post "Hesiod on grain"...


Which is interesting, because in Europe, beginning of May (Taurus), beginning of the harvest, is also the beginning of Thunderstorm season...So Thunderstorm (Zeus) arrive (is born) when Rhea turns into Demeter...


So it is exactly as the Orphic "theogony" (or should I call it natural science) tells us...But what about "Zeus and Demeter mating as snakes to give birth to Persephone"?

Guess when snake mating season is in Europe? 

Yup, you guessed right. In Apr/May, when grain harvest begins...

During that time males engage in ritualised fights that once were interpreted falsely as mating ceremonies...

VERY IMPORTANT BIT!!! 🙂


Hence snake animal calendar marker joins lion animal calendar marker

God most high...

Snake: Apr/May, beginning of the main snake mating season, beginning of summer.

Lion: Jul/Aug, beginning of the main lion mating season, end of summer. 

In the middle of summer is Summer Solstice...When (sun) god is Most High...

I talked about this in my post "You will trample the great lion and serpent"...

Anyway, Persephone (Grain) the daughter of Demeter (Grain Harvest) and Zeus (Thunderstorms) gets conceived and born during harvest, when snakes mate (Apr/May)...Snakes and grain, snakes and grain...And Demeter and Persephone...I talked about the link between snakes and Demeter in my post "Demeter riding a panther"...


BTW, snakes are the only true solar animals. They are in our world when sun is in our world (day and hot part of the year) and they are in the underworld when sun is in the underworld (night and cold part of the year). I talked about this in my posts "Enemy of the sun" and "The chthonic animal"

Snake is also the symbol of sun's heat which dries the earth and brings drought...Which is where dragons that steel and guard water come into play...Did you know that Slavs believed that "dragons were just old snakes"? I talked about this in my post "Dragon that stole rain"...

You can read more about Slavic snake-dragon folklore, which holds the key for unlocking the meaning of both snake and dragon as a symbol, in my post "Letnitsa treasure"...


Which is why Apr/May, the beginning of summer and thunderstorm season, is the beginning of the epic battle begins between Eagle (thunderstorm) and snake (sun)...I talked about this in my post "Eagle-snake struggle"...

Persephone is the goddess of grain, deified grain seed. Interestingly, grain seed planting season (Oct/Nov) is when Persephone, gets abducted by Hades and taken to the underworld...I talked about this in my post "Abduction of Persephone"...


Persephone is the goddess of grain, deified grain seed. Interestingly, grain seed planting season (Oct/Nov) is when Persephone, gets abducted by Hades and taken to the underworld...I talked about this in my post "Abduction of Persephone"...

"Faceless female busts, Cyrene Museum, Libya...may represent Persephone"...


Is this when Zeus seduces Persephone in a shape of a snake and fathers Zagreus/Dyonisus? Some sources say that it was Hades, The Chthonic Zeus, who was the father of Zagreus, the "Chthonic Dyonisus"...

So let me finish this article with one of my favourite depictions of Demeter, the goddess with beautiful golden hair...Here she is as Ceres emerging from the ground holding grain, poppies and snakes...Or is this Persephone being born?

Why is Demeter is holding grains, snakes and opium poppies? I explain that in my post "Poppies and pomegranates"...

That's it...For now...

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

Friday, 15 July 2022

Poppies and pomegranates

What connects pomegranates and poppies? Well obviously shape...


But also the fact that these two plants are associated with Demeter (poppies) and her daughter Persephone (pomegranates)...The goddesses of grain...

Persephone, deified grain and grain planting season, gets taken by Hades to the underworld (planted) in Oct/Nov...

Persephone gets reunited with her mother, Demeter, deified grain and grain harvest season, during the grain harvest in (Apr/May)...

Pomegranates are ready for harvest when opium poppies and grain are planted (Oct/Nov)...

Which is why Persephone's sacred plant, apart from grain, is pomegranate...

Before releasing her, Hades tricked Persephone, by giving her pomegranate to eat. And because she tasted "food in the underworld", she had to return to the underworld every winter. 

From the article "Abduction of Persephone" about flora and fauna found in Persephone legend... 

Pomegranates flower (Apr–Jun), when grain and opium poppies are ready for harvesting...

Which is why Demeter's sacred plant, apart from grain, was opium poppy...

You can read more about this in my post "Demeter riding a panther"...

Apparently, there is "common belief" that Demeter's poppies are common red poppies (Papaver rhoeas) and not opium poppies (Papaver somniferum)...So have a look at this:

Demeter holding grain and poppy pods...


Which poppies? Look at the shape of the poppy pods Demeter holds in her hand. Then look at the poppy pods on the two pics below. 

Red poppies

Red opium poppies

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words... 

Oh, why snakes? Cause mating season of most common European snakes is Apr/May...The same time when grain and poppy harvest begins in Eastern Mediterranean...I talked about this in my post "Goats and snakes from Körtik Tepe"...


Well, it wasn't just Demeter who loved poppies...

Grain goddess with poppies Anatolia...I talked about her in my post "Kubaba with grain and poppies"...

Grain goddess with poppies Mesopotamia...I talked about her in my post "Fertility goddess with poppies"...


So pomegranate and poppies are two opposite plant calendar markers, marking beginning of "old" winter, cool, wet half of the year (pomegranate, Persephone), and the beginning of the "old" summer, hot, dry half of the year (poppy, Demeter)...



I think this is quite cool...

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

Kubaba with grain and poppies

Very interesting: A drawing of a relief from the great staircase from the Luwian city of Carchemish. It depicts the storm god Tarhunt, holding an axe and vajra (lightning trident), leading the earth goddess Kubaba, holding grain and poppies...🙂 Sounds familiar?

The drawing is from this great article: "Building Inscriptions of Carchemish: The Long Wall of Sculpture and Great Staircase" by J. D. Hawkins

So why is this drawing interesting?

Here's Demeter holding grain and poppies

The reason why Kubaba and Demeter hold grain and poppies is that in Europe and Middle East, opium poppies harvest coincides with the beginning of the grain harvest...I talked about poppies harvest and poppies as a plant calendar marker in my article "Poppies"... 

Now check these articles about Demeter and Middle Eastern grain goddesses: "Demeter riding a panther", "Fertility goddess with poppies", "Sacred marriage on a threshing floor", "Jerusalem of gold"...Then have a look at this: 

The grain goddess follows the storm god...Why? Because in the area where Carchemish is located, without rain, the land ends up looking like this...No grains (or poppies)...



This is the climatic year in the area of Carchemish. You can see that the year is clearly divided into hot/dry half and and cool/wet half...


The hottest and driest part of the year is the end of Jul beginning of Aug. Leo...The time of death...Ruled by the god of death...Mot...Nergal...Another name for the destructive burning sun...I talked about this in my post "The oldest Arabic poem"...

The hottest, driest part of the year is marked by the lion animal calendar marker...Leo...The reason for this is that this is when the Eurasian lions main mating season starts...


Which is why Nergal, the deified destructive burning sun, was depicted as a lion (man)...I talked about this in my post "Winged superhuman hero"...

This is the reason why in Carchemish we also find this relief depicting the above mentioned storm god killing a lion. The image is from this great article "Carchemish ša kišad puratti" by Irene J. Winter 

The other guy helping the storm god is probably the local king, not another god...The role which later became the main role of local kings, who were "(storm) god's incarnation on earth"...I talked about this in my post "The king killing Angra Mainyu"...


Hope you enjoyed this...

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