The Venus of Laussel holds up a moon horn with 13 notches.
Pregnant goddess and horned bulls of Catal Huyuk
The Golden calf on a lyre burial chamber Ur (Campbell 1987, Mellaart, Eban).
The moon is rightly believed to be the star of the spirit
that saturates the earth and fills bodies by its approach
and empties them by its departure
the blood even of humans increases and diminishes with its light
and leaves and herbage are sensitive to it
the same force penetrating into all things.
Pliny. (Allegro 1970 70).
Preface: This is a large chapter in several sections dealing with a very long sweep of cultural change. To avoid your getting lost at the beginning, here are some links to further stages:
It is difficult for people living in the shadow of the patriarchal monotheistic heritage to understand how the paternal creator god we associate with the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions has evolved naturally from more ancient traditions in polytheism. The tendency is to perceive polytheistic deities as debased objects of idol worship, either empty of real content because they are false man-made gods, as mere projections of human personality, or at best representing only one aspect of primitive nature such as fertility, or astral bodies such as the moon or sun. In fact the converse is the case. Yahweh is a tribal patron form of a more ancient cosmic deity, who only regains a semblance of his original cosmic nature in the Christian form many centuries later, although now without his divine consort, and their sacred garden of immortality.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, there is a particular tendency to see the aniconic aspect of Yahweh as intrinsically superior to the idolised deities of polytheism, and to infer that this "true" God of his people has appeared paradoxically as a revealed "God of History", first to Abraham in the starlight and later to Moses out of a cloudy pillar. Despite clearly manifesting in Yahweh as a tribal patron god, rather than a cosmic god of all and only later being vested by pre-exilic Jewish culture with strict monotheistic attributes, this deity finally appears as a cosmic deity in the Christian and Islamic form with the full dimensions of an aniconic, monotheistic, cosmic, paternal creator deity - the "one true God of all", who has revealed his nature in ever deeper stages to his followers.
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This description is patently incorrect. It is calculated to reinforce the unquestioned acceptance of the patriarchal creator deity, despite his mottled history, and mask the evolutionary nature of all deities as projections of conscious awareness and human culture. Long before Yahweh made his dubious entry onto the stage of history as a jealous patron deity, ancient astral deities had already encompassed the major advances later seen in the Christian idea of the supreme creator god, who is both the god of reality and the god of the mind.
In rediscovering the underlying nature of this "God behind God" and his complementary relationship with the Goddess, with whom he is inextricably fused in deep union, just as Shiva and Shakti, we will not only discover our true origins of deity in the joyful marriage of complements - male and female mind and body, but also our much more ancient roots in the links between the conscious mind and the immortal unfolding of fertility which were already discovered 20,000 years ago with the first developments of human culture. In a real sense these ancient traditions, far from being more primitive, capture in archetypal form realities towards which our modern scientific society is only now converging after a long period of imbalance and confusion.
In finding our true cultural roots of deity, we can finally come to a position in which we can discover in a vastly older tradition the continuity of vision that will sustain us in a closed but living ecosystem in which we have unparalleled powers of stewardship of nature.
Ancient Roots of the Moon God
Briffault notes that the Moon as a deity is in its ancient form male, the male nature complementing the natural moon-related cycle of female fertility. This can be appreciated when we consider that a common thread runs from the ancient Venus of Laussel dating from around 18,000 - 20,000 BC, with her 13 notched upheld moon horn, representing the lunar months, through Catal Huyuk with the horned Bulls and pregnant fertility goddesses, to the golden calves of Ur and of Israel and the bull-horned El of Canaan, who although no longer specifically a Moon God retains his ancient fertility symbol. the human menstrual cycle.
The association of the Bull's horns with fertility expresses in one image the virility of the bull and the moon-driven rebirth of human fertility in the blood flow of the menses. This association has also become cyclically steeped in the blood of sacrifice, for it was perceived that out of blood came new life. In this parallel truth of the fertilized soil came endless cycles of animal and human sacrifice to the fertility goddess so that the harvest would spring forth anew and nourish the agricultural peoples. The moon deity, as a waxing and waning god. This causes the moon to be associated both with the dead and the underworld and with immortal life. It also became associated with the agricultural sacrificial cycle and the resurrection on the third day of the new moon.
The period in which the Moon completes an orbit around the Earth and returns to the same position in the sky--the sidereal month - is 27 days, 7 h, 43 min. Because the Earth is moving in its orbit around the Sun in the same direction as the Moon, the time needed to return to the same phase--the synodic month - is longer: 29 days, 12 h, 44 min. This period is the time interval that, for example, elapses between two successive full moons, a period that was known within a second even in ancient times (Grollier). The natural period of the human menstrual cycle is about 28 days, the nominal month we still use of four seven day weeks. 13 such 28 day months constitute just one day short of a year, however they lose synch with the moon, as the number of synodic lunar months is 12.38 per year, enough for 13 notches, but not for 13 revolutions. A transition thus occurred in history from a 13 month year to a 12 month year and 13 became the unlucky number.
Something of the idea of how fundamental the moon deity is to our cultural evolution can be understood from the fact that 'men' - the moon is the source of both 'menses' - the blood flow of human fertility and 'mens' - the mind. The association between moon and mind thus extends from the fringes of lunacy across the entire mental realm. The moon is thus specifically associated with both fertility and the mind itself. You could say the ancient moon god was both the god of the cosmic mind and the cause of menstruation - the source of conception! His widespread name Sin means God of Wisdom. The collection of the major heavenly bodies , the houses of the moon, around the seven names of the week is also a lunar-centred description, emphasizing the central role played by the moon among the astronomical bodies.
"But while the moon, as 'the real husband of all women', is thought of as a male, it is at the same time associated with the functions, not of men, but of women. It is the source not only of their reproductive powers but all their other powers, especially their magic powers. Furthermore the moon stands in primitive thought for perpetual renewal, immortality, eternity" (Briffault v2 583). The moon is the real measure of time. It its three days of darkness is the origin of myths of descent and resurrection in the new moon on the third day. "In primitive thought the eternal time-creating nature of the moon imparts to it an inexorable character, setting it above all other powers" (ibid). The resurrecting moon has an inextricable link with the serpent which sheds its skin. So intimate is this association that ... wherever we find the serpent, ... we may expect to find a lunar cult . This link is accentuated by the idea that menstruation is caused by union between a woman and a serpent. The great leviathan of the deeps is also naturally the moon tide.
"The moon is the regulator and cause of menstruation, which is frequently regarded as being the result of actual intercourse between the moon and women. ... The dangerous character ascribed to women is also attributed to that celestial body which is everywhere associated with women, the moon."Belief that the moon, or moonlight can precipitate conception is culturally widespread." (Briffault v2 585).
The moon deity thus combines an astral cosmic and mental aspect with the the core principles of female fertility in a way in which the genders form a natural and meaningful complement. It is simplistic to attempt to identify the Moon God as being merely the God of the Moon, because his aspects extend into the core aspects of meaning and being.
In Anatolia and Northern Aegean the son of the Great Mother is Men, common to all Indo European languages. That in fact, and not Selene is the proper Greek term for the moon and as in all other languages it is masculine. ... In spite of the general feminizationof the moon in Hellenic mythology, the primitive mystics and Homer alike refer to the moon as masculine Men. He is associated with Anaitis the moon goddess represented by Hekate, Artemis and Diana (Briffault v3 120)
Just as the fertility Goddess is one although she has many names, the Moon God comes in a variety of names which span many cultures, Nanna of the Sumerians patron of Ur, Yerah of Ugarit, Sin patron of Harran, Kusuh of the Hurrians, Ilumquh of the Sabeans of Yemen, Soma of the Indo-Aryans, Yaho and many others. Although he was the patron deity of two specific cities of the Sumerian empire, Ur in the South and Harran in the far North, his worship is astral and cross-cultural.
Soma and the Indo-Aryan Origins
The association between the mind and the moon is very ancient and also lies at the source of Indo-Aryan myth. In the Hymn of Man, the primordial Adam is sacrificed to become the diversity of the world. Although the sun is his eye, it is the moon who is his mind.(O'Flaherty 29)
Both the Persian and Indian sources of the Indo-Aryan tradition speak of an ancient visionary drink of a ruddy complexion, pressed from a plant or fungus. Soma is at once the source of immortal knowledge and the Moon God of the Indo-Aryan mind, as portrayed in the Hymn of Man. The similarity of the eternally reproducing fruit is notable and suggests the two themes could have had a common origin. Although many plants from Cannabis through to a penetrating case for Peganum harmala (Rudgley 43), both of which are psychoactive, have been suggested, two fungi, Amanita muscaria and Psilocybe species have also been considered to be Soma. The presence of mushroom icons in both the Konja plain and Europe lends support for early use in Europe as is the case in America. Psilocybe species in particular have been discovered across the entire spread of temperate lands believed to be the origin of the Indo-Aryans (Stamets 64).
Soma had the first claim to all women. They only came afterwards into the possession of men (Briffault v3 239). Soma, like other Moon Gods is regarded as the sacred bull which is sacrificed. "The killing of Soma ... symbolizes the pressing of the sacred plant Soma, which causes rain, and consequently the growth of plants; Soma is the elixir of life, which after dropping to earth as rain, mounts to the moon and is drunk out of the moon by the gods, who use the moon as a cup. The animal representing the moon is the bull." (Briffault v3 130) Mithra's murder of the bull is pre-Zarathustrian myth. Ahriman replaced him in Zoroastrian times (Gershevitch 62).
"Much controversy surrounds Zarathustra's attitude towards the drink haoma. In a somewhat unclear passage, he condemns "the piss of this drunkenness" (Yasna 48:10 ) in connection with the karapans and the misrule. Indra is a deva demonized in the Vendidad. But the central ritual, the yasna, is essentially a haoma sacrifice." (Malandra 15)
Soma is the 'body' of the sacrament. The soma is the corpus.
Nannar and Ningal: The Moon Deities
The Moon God has always been complemented by a feminine counterpart. Nanna loved his consort the moon goddess Ningal. "Nanna fell in love with Ningal and she with him. It was from this joyful and impetuous union that Inanna, the morning and evening star and Utu the Sun God were born." (Wolkenstein and Kramer 141).
Nanna was worshipped in the ziggurat of Ur. There was also a smaller temple for Ningal the moon goddess. Nanna was worshipped both by a High Priestes and priests. Great Kings throughout history from Sargon 2600 BC to Nabonidus 550 BC had their daughters officiate as high-priestess of Nanna at Ur. The tradition begins with the first dynasties of Ur around 3400 BC and continued through to the fall of Ur around the time of Nabonidus, a period of some 3000 years. As we shall see this tradition continued for another 1700 years at Harran and still underlies the Islam of today.
It is clear that Ur-Nammu the founder of the great Third Dynasty of Ur had a female familiar spirit or shekina, which is shown in the stele below in which the King offers libations to the Tree of Life, before both Nanna and Ningal, to preserve the fertility of the garden, and that this was a central ritual in founding the great ziggurat of Ur. Ur-nammu saved the garden of fertility.
In the fragmentary registers on the reverse of the stone [Stele of Ur-Nammu] we have a scene of sacrifice in which a priest cuts open the prostrate body of a bull so as to read the omens on its liver; and a scene of sacrifice in which it is possible that the king himself is figured as a god. ... Ur-Nammu was deified after death if not in his lifetime." (Woolley 1954 159).
"At no time in its long history was the city of Ur so important as in the days of the third dynasty, about 2300 - 2180 BC, when it was the capital of the Sumerian empire. The founder of the dynasty was Ur-Nammu, and he founded a royal house of which four generations after him were to sit on the throne; he was a great conqueror and a great ruler, famous for his justice and his good works, whose dominions extended from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean." (Woolley 1938 80.)
Sin or Nannar " is described as a young bull (the strong bull of heaven) perfect in every part: his beard is said to be of lapis lazuli ( cf Mesopotamian men): his orb is a giant self-propagating fruit. The god's horns are taken to be a reference to the crescent moon, although they are also sometimes regarded as the boat in which he skims through the midst of the heavens." An exorcist priest or ashipu joined in prayer and incantation when Sin was attacked and oppressed by demons during an eclipse. (Contenau 248, 292)
Controversy continues over the status of the Royal Tombs of Ur, which are famous for the fact that, like several other ancient cultures, whole courts were buried with great ceremony on the death of the sacred king. Although it is suggested that these Kings and Queens may have been sacrificed priests in fertility rites, the magnificence and extensive nature of the tombs suggest they reflect a royal suttee rite, in which the whole court departed with their deified king to accompany him on his astral journey. This is consistent with the prominence of the Moon God in worship of departed ancestors.
The early archaeological remains at Ur indicate a very prominent early flood. In the King list the kings reigned before the flood for a millennium. Then the flood came [before 3200 BC.] Afterwards kingship was sent down from on high. There was a dynasty at Kish, one at Erech and then the first Dynasty at Ur.
"Nabonidus (555-538 BC), last of the Babylonian kings appointed his daughter high priestess of the moon god at Ur, and the king states that in so-doing, he was following a precedent set by Kudur-Mabug, one of the Larsa kings who had reigned some 1500 years before - about 2000 B.C. Sargon (2630 - 2575 BC ) had done the same, and the limestone slab of the period of Entemena... carries the precedent further back still : all through history such importance was attached to the great temple of Nannar the Moon-god at Ur ... that the reigning king, though a foreigner, might hold it worth his while to send his daughter as High Priestess there; in one case at least a king's son was High Priest of the Moon-goddess." (Woolley 1954 216)
Nannar "was thought to have arisen from a god of nomads and a protector of cattle, related to the masculine cult of the moon god in early Arabia. His daughter Ishtar in time overshadowed all other female deities, as did her counterpart Isis in Egypt. As father, or source, of the Goddess, it is fitting that Sin wears head gear suggestive of a mushroom. No other deity in the Babylonian pantheon has this headgear ... which is an identifier for the god." (McKenna 114) Contenau suggestively describes Sin's characteristic orb as an "eternal self-reproducing fruit", which is also identifiable with the regenerating moon.
Ningal, who in Akkadian texts is referred to as "the Mother of the Great Gods" was also Moon Goddess. Her temple was second in importance only to the of Sin. Her temple was likewise rebuilt many times. Ishme-Dagan's daughter Enannatum, high priestess of Nannar rebuilte the entire mud brick temple of burned brick (Wolley 1954, 166). Ningal laments the destruction of Ur in her lament:
The Chaldean Astrologers of Babylon
In early Babylonia the moon-cult was the national religion: the name Chaldeans means 'moon-worshippers'. (Briffault v3 79) In the bible Ur is referred to as Ur of the Chaldees.
In the Babylonian cosmology Sin, Shamash and Ishtar formed the second trinity of deities. The first trinity of gods were also absorbed into the lunar cycle becoming phases of the moon, thus giving the moon a supreme role as the connecting principle between the deities and mankind. "The moon is during the period of his visibility, in the first five days, the god Anu ; from the sixth to the tenth day, the god Ea from the eleventh to the fifteenth day, the god En-Lil" (Briffault v3 85). This trintiy was also adopted by the Assyrians and the Hurrians alongside their patron deities.
Sin (Nannar) as father of both the Sun (Utu or Shamash) and of Inanna (Ishtar) the Queen of Heaven was the central astral deity. The sun was generally a subservient deity, despite being officially recognised during the time of Hammurabi, being identified with, the hot, burning, sterile season (Briffault v3 85). This astral scheme extended to the seven "planets" of the lunar week, and the twelve signs of the zodiac, the 'girdle of Ishtar', representing the months. It is from this heritage that astronomy and astrology for which the Chaldeans became renowned developed.
The name Sin is the Semitic form of Sumerian Enzu meaning lord of knowledge. The Mesopotamians ascribed very great importance to him. It was he who governed the passing of the months through his waxing and waning. ... The unvarying lunar cycle gave Sin a special connection with order and wisdom and with immortality. The number seven is lunar in origin and is applied to the seven days of creation, the seven levels of hell and the seven great planets, Moon, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
The Babylonian lunar calendar was said to be invented by Nabu-Rimmani (Walker 646). Nabu is the god of writing, who bears the tablets of the gods and is identifiable with Mercury. Rimmon the pomegranite is a symbol of the enclosed fruit of the Yoni, thus also representing phallic male fertility (Walker 805). Nabu is also the wise serpent (Graves 470), the soothsayer and prophet, who knew and foresaw everything and was willing to give advice on any subject. The inventor of tablets and writing (Maspero 670). The features of Sin as moon god and Lord of Wisdom naturally complement those of Nabu and they come to have a close relationship, personified in Egypt in one god, Thoth.
Yerah - The Moon God of Canaan
The theme of love between the Moon God and his consort appears in Canaan in the form of Yerah and Nikkal and their marriage ceremony, echoing with fertility. When advised to court Baal's sister by Nikkal's father the Summer King, Yerah insists on his love and rejoins "Nay but let Nikkal answer" (Gray).
Sin and Ishtar: Rumblings of
The relationship between the Moon God and his daughter Inanna of the Sumerians, Ishtar of Babylon, Athirat of Canaan, al-Uzza of Arabia, Hathor of Egypt and Hekate of Greece is complex and holds the key to the gender difficulties that have accompanied the emergence of the monotheism of Yahweh, the downfall from Eden and ultimately the patriarchal tradition of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Inanna, or Ishtar, although she is Queen of Heaven arose out of the sea as did Aphrodite the Canaanite Athirat and Mari the Goddess of the Sea from Cyprus, Crete and Syria, identifiable with Anath, so Sin is also in this sense God the father of the 'virgin' Mary.
Of course father and daughter indicate that an evolution took place in which the daughter underwent a resurgence, just as with El and Ba'al in Canaan. Nannar appears very early in the history of Ur, consistent with an origin as a nomadic God of the Shepherd Kings who formed a cultural complementation to the planter Queens in the emergence of the Sumerian civilization. Although associated with ancestor worship and sacred tombs, the courtship of Nannar and Ningal is not characterised by seasonal male human sacrifice. Subsequently this position shifted back towards sacrifice of the agrarian Fertility Goddess, who was originally a chthonic deity of the earth and underworld. With the rise of Uruk Inanna (Ishtar) wrested the seve me or sacred power objects and began the descent of the seasonal sacrifice and resurrection of Dumuzzi (Tammuz). In this respect, she becomes the goddess making her journey from heaven to earth and finally to the realms of death - the almighty woman of the three spheres.
"[Sin's] supreme character passed in later times to his female counterpart, who finally replaced him. When the female aspect of the lunar deity came to displace the male, the wife of the moon-god became identified with the moon itself, while the goddess Ishtar maintained her association with the planet Venus. This identification is symbolically represented by the lunar crescent, enclosing the star within its horns, which is still the crest of Islam" (Briffault v3 78).
This identification of Ishtar with the moon and the evening star throws an interesting light on the origin of goddesses. It ... derives from the common idea, ... that the morning and evening stars are the two wives of the moon . When the morning and evening star came to be identified they became in Ishtar her two complementary aspects: love in the evening and death in the morning (Briffault v3 82).
The relationship between the male and female counterpart of the moon was, however, variable. Ishtar is sometimes the daughter of the moon god. Sometimes he is her son and male avatar. In one liturgy, Tammuz is expressly addressed as the moon-god. Ishtar was horned, and was brought up out of the foam by water-gods, like Aphrodite, thus explaining her close connection with Mari, goddess of the sea. The votaries of Harran, despite worshipping the Queen of Heaven alongside the Moon God had a pertinent saying: 'if they were to honour the moon as a female they would become subject to their women' (Briffault v2 596).
This diverging relationship between the Moon God and the Fertility Goddess becomes pivotal in understanding the breakdown in relations between Yahweh and his Asherah later in Old Testament times. The Fall from Eden is specifically associated with the sacrificial cycle of Inanna and Dumuzi. Dumuzi becomes the dying Adam, doomed to mortality by the original sin of Eve, in accepting the advice of the Serpent and eating the Fruit. This re-fomented the link between male death and sex, the original sin of Eve, human sacrifice, which reverberated in the vulnerable line of patriarchal inheritance. In the above cylinder seal we see the four key components of the Eden myth, Dumuzzi and the Horned Inanna, the serpent and the seven-limbed Tree of Life from which the Menorah is derived, both reflected in the seven days of the lunar week and the seven levels of the descent. The three days of the descent also represent the three days between the old and new moon. Sin himself is the chythonic 'green one' (Briffault v3 90) and is threatened by the seven devils of the underworld (Green T 196).
While the story of Nannar and Ningal is the story of continuing love and marriage unto death, the descent instead elaborates male mortality in the face of the sexual fertility rites and sacrificial cycle of the Goddess. Neither Nannar nor the Egyptian Moon God Thoth approved of the descent. Nannar would not help his daughter. Thoth would not weep for Osiris. A close link is thus made between the sexual rites, male mortality and the reaction of the jealous male Godhead - banishment from the garden of fertility. Having become a root myth in the Old Testament world view, the downfall became portrayed in the apocalyptic vision many centuries later as a theme to be finally undone by the Son of Man in ushering in the Kingdom of Immortality by undoing the mortal sin of Eve. There is thus a close and intimate link between the sacrifice of Dumuzzi by Inanna and the crucifixion of Jesus of Mary.
The God of the Semites
The moon was from earliest times the foundation of all theological development among the whole Semitic race, even after the Semites had become agriculturists. Moses Maimonides expressed this by saying that moon-worship was the religion of Adam; and the crescent is still the badge of Islam, as it was once the emblem of Israel. Arab women even now insist that the moon is the parent of mankind. Herodotus said "Arabs have no other divinities than Dionysius and Urania" (Ishtar or Aphrodite), both lunar deities". (Briffault v3 78)
The cult of the moon-god Sinn is found in every Semitic land, and he was 'the father of the great gods, the Lord of Heaven' - the sun-god being merely an attendant deity. Numerous ancient Arabian inscriptions show the moon-deity as the most prominent object of cult everywhere, whether in the Hadramaut, Kataban or Afinaean kingdoms. (Briffault v3 79)
"In the faith of ancient Arabia," remarks Prince Teano, 'in the cult of the, moon, regarded as supreme male deity, conceived as a cause to which all worship refers, there lies manifestly the germ of monotheism, although only the Jews first, in Judaism and in Christianity, and Muhammad afterwards in Islam, attained to a clear enunciation of the monotheistic formula'. There are abundant indications," observes again Prince Teano, 'which seem to demonstrate that the Jehovah of the Hebrews and the Allah of Islam are merely transformations of the primitive lunar deity of Arabia' " (Briffault v3 106). Genesis 9:26 specifically concedes the god of Noah is the God of Shem - i.e. the universal god of the Semites and therefore Sin.
Harran, City of the Moon God
At the Northernmost end of the Sumerian empire the city of Harran likewise had the Moon Deity as patron God, under the name of Sin. From about 2000 BC to 1200 AD Harran continued an evolving tradition of Moon God worship. Harran is the place of Abraham's family and ancestors and the centre of many of the early events of genesis, including the naming of Israel. As described by Ezekiel 27:23, Harran along with Sheba and other cities were traders 'in blue clothes and broidered work, in chests of rich apparel , bound with cords and made of cedar.'
The status of Sin was so great that from 1900 BC to 900 BC his name is witness to the forging of international treaties as the guarantor of the word of kings. The temple was resotred by Shalmanester of Assyria in the 9th century BC, and again by Asshurbanipal. About550 BC, Nabonidus the last king of Babylon, who originated from Harran, rebuilt the temple of the Moon God, directed by a dream. His mother was high priestess at Harran and his daughter at Ur. Ironically his devotion to the Moon God caused a rfit between him and his people and contributed to his defeat by the Persians. The worship of the Moon God at Harran evolved with the centuries. It included E-hul-hul, the Temple of Rejoicing, and a set of temples of distinctive shape and colour dedicated to each of the seven planets as emissaries of the cosmic deity. Many of the descriptions of Harran through Christian and Moslem eyes include exaggerated tales of sacrifice which are probably not factual. It was said by one writer that they sacrificed a different character or type of human to each planet. A garlanded black bull was however sacrificed in public ceremony, as the bull was at Ur, and Moslem sources refer to seasonal weeping for Ta'uz at Harran, and up to the 10th century among bedouin in the desert.
After the conquests of Alexander, Harran came to be a centre of intellectual and religious activity which continued into the Christian era. The form of the worship evolved into a philosophical tradition centred around Hermes Trismegistus - Hermes thrice-great who knows the past, present and future.
The Hermetic view is one in which god is conceived both as idea and as embodied world: he is the supra-individual source of a particular world-experience and world-configuration. The experience of the world in this manner is open to the possibility of a transcndent guide ... who is also able to provide impressions to consciousness that are palpable and manifest and in no way contradict the observations and conclusions of natural science, yet extend beyond the idea that "man stands in the world alone endowed only with conciousness that is exclusively restricted to the ability to receive scientifically-evaluated sense impressions". The Hermetic aspect is thoroughly empirical, and it remains within the realm of natural experiences of the world, ... the accidental falling into your lap - how could these be merely psychic realities? They are the world and they are one world - the one Hermes opens to us (Kerenyi 3, 46).
Orphic traditions were also popular. Harran remained solidly pagan when Edessa and other centres fell to monotheism, largely because of the unified devotion of its people to the astral deity.
Sin's powers of illumination, are revealed in his title 'the lamp of heaven and earth'. ... Illumination is not only the physical light of the moon, but also revealing the will of the gods, enlightenment, especially through oracles. In a Assyrian prayer ... in an eclipse, Sin is beseeched to give the oracle of the gods. As such, Sin becomes the Lord of Knowledge, the tablet on which Nabu, the scribe of the gods, ... writes the divine decrees. ... Because of this overlap of functions as a giver of oracles, Nabu was closely associated with Sin. His name appears as an clement in the names of many neo-Babylonian kings from Nebuchudnezzar to Nabonidus. ... The stele of Nabonidus depicts the royal sceptre topped with a wedge symbol commonly associated with Nabu; He is the inventor of writing, the divine scribe, and the patron of all the rational arts. He is the transmitter of the decrees of the gods to mankind, the possessor of the tablets of destiny which fix the length of human life, and the giver of oracles that reveal the cosmic order of existence, and thus he serves as a link between the divine and human worlds. It was Nabu as scribe who recorded the destiny of the coming year at the aki'tu festival (Green T 33). [Nabu] came to be linked with those deities in other religious systems whose chief function was as bestowers of a revealed wisdom: the Greek Hermes, the Egyptian Thoth and the Persian Hoshang, as well as Apollo and Orpheus in the Hellenistic and early Christian periods, Enoch or Idris later under Islam (Green T 71).
"Constructed from the complex functions and nature of the Egyptian Thoth, and drawing upon the similar roles of Hermes, Nebo, Sin and other deities whose spheres of power encompassed the revelation of hidden wisdom, Hermes Trismegistus [ Hermes, who knows the past, present and future] was the inspiration for, ... a vast body of literature. Treatises of philosophical and scientific revelation about the nature of the cosmos, and handbooks of practical magic, with recipes for drawing down the power of the planets and the stars, curing illness, making talismans and amulets. [He] was the source of all knowledge previously known only to the gods: the explicator of the stars, the sacred healer, the master alchemist" (Green T 85).
"Although ... Hermeticism does not begin to emerge ... until the late Hellenistic period, its origins are to be found in ... the ancient magical and religious traditions of Egypt and Mesopotamia; the quest of Greek science for the cosmic glue; the religious philosophy of Pythagoras and his disciples, of Plato and his successors, and of the Stoic doctrines of fate and universal sympatheia; the rites of the mystery cults of Asia Minor and beyond; the astral and planetary worship of the Semites that found a home in both Greek philosophy and the westernized cult of Mithra, as well as the dualism of Persian Zoroastrianism; and finally, the figure of the savior-messiah that emerged within Hellenistic Judaism" (Green T 85).
"The mystical powers of Hermes exerted themselves far beyond the pagan world of late antiquity, transmuting medieval Christian and Islamic understanding of the relationship between rational knowledge and revelation. As the Greek messenger of the gods who became the conductor of the souls of the dead to the underworld, the playful child-like spirit of fertility who became the companion of triple-faced Hecate and a patron of the magical arts, Hermes had been identified by the Greeks from Herodotus on with the Egyptian god Thoth, whom Plato in the Phaedrus had credited with being the inventor of the alphabet and the art of memory. Thoth was the master of wisdom, made manifest in the moon, the divine scribe, "the tongue of ptah," who recorded the judgments of the dead; and he thus finds his Mesopotamian counterpart in both the moon god Sin, and Nebo" (Green T 85). Hermes shares with Thoth an ancient ithyphallic fertility nature complementary to the Great Goddess.
An epitaph at neighbouring Edessa reads "Pleasant is the resting place of Shalman son of Kawab (star). They have answered thee and called thee, and thou hast answered them whom thou hast touched. Thou hast seen the height and the depth, the distant and the near, the hidden and the evident. And they - they know well the usefullness of thy reckonings."
In 363 the Emperor Julian stopped at Harran and took the oracle of the Moon God before being defeated in battle against the Persians. This story was expanded later to the effect that he had sacrificed the High Priestess, hung her by her hair and read her liver for an omen (Green T 51). In 545 the Bedouin Mundhir fighting for the Persians sacrificed his enemies son to Uzzai (Venus). Fearful tales also were told that they had sacrificed 400 virgins seized from Emesa and sacrificed them to the Goddess. It is unclear what credence to place in such Christian war stories, as mass female sacrifice is most unusual (Segal 145).
Ahmed ibn al-Tayyib noted "A single power, single and eternal was the primal cause of the universe. He is beyond the worship of men; and he has delegated the administration of the universe to the planets who proclaim his supremacy. He has sent prophets, Arani Agathodaemon (Seth and Orpheus) and Hermes (Idris and Enoch) to guide mankind. Sabian views on the nature of deity, natural phenomena and dreams were similar to Aristotle (Segal 1963 211). They did not accept the idea of a human prophet who could mediate between mankind and the supreme deity.
They celebrated a calendar of fesitvals and mystery cults to which only initiates were allowed access. "According to the Catalog, at the time that they celebrate the birthday of the Moon and the mystery to the North in II Kanun, the Harranians burn rods of pine (al-dadhi') for the gods and the goddesses. Both the pine tree and cone are, of course, symbols of eternal life, and appear in the cults of Mithra, Attis and Dionysus, among others, as the embodiment of the prize of immortality." In some of these later cults there was a Mithraic or Zoroastrian influence apparent, in which the worship of the sun in the "Mystery of the North" (Shamal) occurred at the same time as the Birth of the Moon was celebrated elsewhere at Harran (Green T 192).
Shamal may also have been a lord of the djinn. There is a reference in the Mysteries of the North to the Lord of Time. Time as Greek Chronos or Persian Zurvan can be equated with Nergal the Lord of the Underworld. Dionysus has similarly been equated with Hades. There is a compelling logic to worshipping time, for it is in time that all opportunities arise and all disasters befall. It is thus to time that we should turn to deal with the tings that matter and the things which threaten. By contrast the eternal deity of heaven is lost in an unchanging constancy. In this sense, evil is entropy, the Lord of the Second Law.
The Harranians were not circumcised, avoided contaigon, washed with soda, and believed procreation was the purpose of marriage. Close-relative marriges were forbidden, they were not polygamous and divorce was granted only after clear evidence of shameful behaviour. Women enjoyed equality under the law and appear prominently in archaeological records. They had a characteristic costume. The women wore high hats, the men frock coats and long hair. They had similar slaughter rituals to Islam, but were very selective in their foods, rejecting camels, dogs, pigs, chickens, fish, garlic, beans, brassicas and lentils on medical grounds. They liked wine and made wine a part of their religious life, in wine-pressing and lunar offerings.
The awe of Abraham gave Harran a special status among Christians and Moslems alike. When the Islamic conquests flowed north, Harran diplomatically surrendered without hostility and paradoxically became unique as the only pagans who were accepted by the new faith. Muhammad had, in developing Islam, reached back to the religion of Abraham whom he called a hanif - a worshipper of the true god before the time of monotheism. He also reserved a special place for the Sabians as people of the book along with the Christians and the Jews.
Sura 2.62: "Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve."
Sura 2.135: "And they say: Be Jews or Christians, you will be on the right course. Say: Nay! (we follow) the religion of Ibrahim, the Hanif, and he was not one of the polytheists."
The Moon worshippers of Harran came to inherit both these titles and to retain much of their identity after the Muslim conquest. A Christian story relates they they adopted these titles as a legal defence against being executed as pagans, after the Moslem general came through telling them they could convert to Islam or a path of the book by the time he came back or all be slaughtered. Somne converted and some lamented but a few took a very powerful lawyer and claimed the Qur'anic heritage: "The Harrians possessed a sacred book called the book of of the hanpe or Haniphites. True the book was concerned ... with ritual and not with ethics or law, and the prophets were legendary rather than human, but the Harranians satisfied the conditions required by Islam for recognition as a tolerated community".
The term Sabian, which is believed to be Syriac (rather than referring to the Sabeans or Shebans of Yemen who were also Moon God worshippers) may originate from the Soba, the Syriac-speaking pagan Semites of Northern Mesopotamia, who in Sin trended towards a single supreme godhead (even if not exclusive) and an afterlife and had similar practices to the Moslems. "Hanif is in some measure a synonym of Sabian.; the latter is a member of this religious community, the former the professed beliefs of this community" (Segal 1963 214).
The Harranians were centrally placed to impart the intellectual advances of Egyptian and Greek civilization to the Islamic world and became famous astronomers, alchemists and physicians at the court of the Caliph. Sabian beliefs also found their way into esoteric teachings of Islam. "There is much in the developed Shi'ite position in general, and among the Isma'ilis in particular, that is sympathetic to the Hermetic doctrine..." including the prophesy of the Mahdi (Green T 169). Harran was abruptly erased from history in the 12th century AD by the Mongol conquests.
Another group called the Subbha, (baptisers), Mandaeans (gnostics) or Nazarenes were also identified as the Sabians. They claim to be followers of John the Baptist, who migrated to Harran and adopted some Harranian practices, later moving to the southern marshes of the Tigris and Euphrates. They believe the upper world is ruled by the Great King of Light the great life. Inferior to him are beneficent and demonic spirits. The earth was created out of black waters. The light-giving powers seek to direct humans to good actions, while the spirit of physical life and the planets incite them to error through false religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Their gnostic emphasis would tend to support the idea that Christian gnosticism was also the inner path of Jesus teachings.
Many components of the genesis mythology, including the Garden of Eden, and the flood myth, indicate a significant link with Sumeria. Sumeria has its own flood myth and there are relics of a major flood early in Ur's history. The "ram in the thicket" is also a motif found at Ur (Woolley 1954 3). Genesis 11:31-12:2 states that Abraham originated from Ur and journeyed with his father Terah to Harran, setting out for Canaan only after Terah died. Ur is near the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates, Haran is in Southern Turkey, the northern limit of the valley of Mesopotamia, suggesting this journey was a meaningful one related to the common deity of the two centres. Many of his relatives and ancestors lived in the vicinity of Harran. Several key names in Abraham's family, Terah (compare Yerah of Canaan), Laban, Sarah and Milcah are derived from worship of the Moon Deity (Bright 80, 91).
The deification of Ab-ram, which in the earliest documents is a synonym for Ab-Sin (Briffault 3:108) is consistent with the ancestor worship associated with the Moon God in Aramaic cultures in which rites were regularly held to worship ancestors in cities stretching from Mari to Canaan. The Alillat Ibrahim, or religion of Abraham, was widespread among Semitic peoples. He was worshipped at the Ka'aba (Briffault v3 108).
The pattern of the two venus wives of the moon pervades the patriarchs and continues through Jewish and Canaanite history. Abraham had two wives, Sarah and Hagar who departed. Jacob also had Rachel and Leah. El courted two goddesses of the sea by roasting a bird for them, presumably Athirat and Anat. Similarly, the Hebrew god Yahweh was worshipped at Elephantine with two wives, (Briffault v3 82) apparently the same two goddesses (Kraeling 88). Adam was the husband of both Eve and Lilith, two particularly challenging women. Moses was known both for the Cushite princess Tharbis (Silver 76) and Zipporah the Midianite.
And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. Numbers 12:1
Much later, Jesus is the Christ-messiah anointed of two Marys, Bethany who anointed his feet to his delight and Magdala who anointed his head to his doom. His crucifixion is celebrated at the full moon.
Triptych Sarah Maitland (A Myth of Hagar, Sarah and Abraham.
Harran continued to play a central role in the lives of the patriarchs. Jacob returned to Haran and spent fourteen years there ( seven for each wife). He gained the name Isra-El (struggles with god) while at Harran. The twelve sons of Jacob who represent the 'amphictyony' - the confederation of twelve tribes are lunar and astral in origin, representing the twelve months or zodiacal signs, in a rotating stewardship of the sacred sanctuary.
At Mari, despite having another patron deity, Dagon (the fish), there was a royal ancestor cult devoted to Sin. Ancestor worship was commonly performed through the Moon God in a kispim ceremony. "At the new moon and full moon I regularly placed before him his pure bread and precious water. Sin release them [the ghosts of the ancestors] to eat their bread and drink their water." Responsibility for dead ancestors fell on the guardian of heir, who would receive the father's deities. Conversely, by stealing her father's gods, Rachel was stealing Laban's inheritance.
A kispum-like ceremony is mentioned in 1 Samuel 20:18 "Then Jonathan said to David, To morrow is the new moon: and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty [at the king's table]. And when thou hast stayed three days, then thou shalt go down quickly, and come to the place where thou didst hide thyself" which lingers to this day in Israeli folklore. In Isiah 8:19 we also read "should not a people seek unto their God (ancestral spirits)? for the living to the dead?" It was also common practice in Israel and Phoenicia to lament for the dead with cuttings of hair.
Many of the names of the early tribal deities indicate a close link between ancestor worship and the deity, in which the god becomes patron of the clan deified in the person of the ancestor. We thus have the Mighty One of Jacob and in Gen 31 when Laban pursues Jacob, each swear by their gods, Jacob by the God of Abraham by the fear of his father Isaac and Laban by the God of Nahor.
At Mari, in the first quarter of the second millennium BC, a social continuum developed between the city dewellers and the nomads in the outerlying areas. The Benjaminites were a tribe noted at Mari which had specific associations with Harran. The names Abi-ram (Abraham) Yasmah-El (Ishmael) Yaqob-El (Jacob), a name also shared by a Hyksos chief and El-Laban (Laban) all appear at Mari. The root mlk denoting melech king or in its sacrifical form Moloch is also found. Another word at Mari in this time which will come to have significance in islam is ummah or "mother" unit of the nomadic tribes (Malamat 31, Bright 70). Mari despite its patriarchal culture was noted for the independence of its women, who officiated prominently as priestesses (Dalley 97, Batto). Nuzi texts also indicate special provision for daughters to inherit "as sons".
Malamat (54) comments further that the unusual genealogy of Nahor in Gen 22:20-24 suggests that Abraham was originally one of the wandering sons traditionally listed as children of concubines (Ishmael etc.) in the Old Testament. It is clear that the children of Israel are the wanderers from Aram-Naharaim on the upper Harbur. This is ironically the same place the ten tribes were later deported to by the Assyrians. Such pastoral migrations were noted at Mari.
Nahor occurs in the Mari texts as Nakhur a town in the vicinity of Harran (Gen 24:10) governed in the eighteenth century BC by an Amorite prince, and later Assyrian texts mention a town after Terah's name (Bright 70) and names dervied from the same roots as Gad (fortune) and Dan.
Early history suggests that the matriarchs were actually more important than the patriarchs.
Before the time of the Exodus, the deities were worshipped collectively as the Elohim, the many forms of 'deity'. El meaning simply 'god' is also identifiable with the kind old grandfather god of Canaan, who is horned like Sin but expresses more specifically the primal male fertility characteristics of inthyphallic gods Nabu and Hermes. As heavenly scribe, these are both also bearers of the covenant. El's many forms include El-shaddai - the Lord of the Mountains; Bethel 'the house of god' is mentioned in Jeremiah 48:13 as a god. Baityl, like El is one of the four founding Canaanite deities (Kraeling 88); El-Elyon - god the most high; The Elohim even included two forms of the Great Goddess as shown in the blessing of Jacob.
The Blessing of Jacob for the twelve tribes (Genesis 49), probably the oldest passage in the Bible (Freedman 1987 322) , specifically blesses Joseph "Even by the god of thy father who shall help thee, and by the Almighty (El -shaddai_ who shall bless thee with the blessings of heaven above (Sin), blessings of the deep that lies under (the underworld, the primal chaos - Tiamat, Shekina) , blessings of the breast and womb (Asherah - the creatress of living things) prevailing from the everlasting mountains to the eternal hills. This emphasis on the eternal is characteristic of the resurrecting moon deity of immortality.
A particular form of the Elohim worshipped until the destruction of the sanctuaries in 622 BC was the "Host of Heaven" the very astral deities surrounding the Moon God. Abraham left shrines at many high places and in many natural sacred sites, including the oak groves of Shechem and Mamre, which many centuries later was still a noted pagan shrine (Walker 5). A old tradition associates the Oak of Mamre with a vision by Abraham of the Son of Man.: Gen 18:1 And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground."
Gen 21:33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God.
Abraham's line were buried before Mamre. "And the field of Ephron in Machpelah, before Mamre, the field, and the cave therein, and all the trees in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city. And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field ... And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre; ... there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah. ... And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people and his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah."
Jacob leaves the strange gods at the oak of Shechem and becomes Israel at Elbethel. Gen 35:2 "Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean ... And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem. ... So Jacob came to Luz, that is, Bethel, and he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother. ... And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel."
The astral form of the amphyctony of the twelve tribes, which is also paralleled in Greece (Gottwald 376), meeting and probably officiating in rotation at the tabernacle is consistent with the astral worship noted among Semitic nomads starting from the time of Hammurabi around 1750 BC (Briffault 3/85), although this may have postdated the time of Abraham.
Thoth and Hathor: The Balance of Wisdom and Fertility
In the beginning was the word, and the word was with god and the word was god: "Thot the god of [Egypt whose sacred city was Khemenu, also called Hermopolis by the Greeks after Thot's alter-ego Hermes], represented as ibis or baboon, was essentially a moon god, who measured time, counted the days, numbered the months and recorded the years. Lunar divinities, as we know are everywhere supposed to exercise the most varied powers : they command the mysterious forces of the universe; they know the sounds words and gestures by which these forces are put in motion, and not content with using them for their own benefit they also teach their worshippers the art of employing them. Thot formed no exception to this rule. He was the lord of the voice, master of words and books, possessor and inventor of those magic writings which nothing in heaven, on earth or in hades can withstand. He had discovered the incantations which evoke and control the gods; he had transcribed the texts and noted the melodies of these incantations; he recited them with that true intonation which renders them all powerful, and every one, whether god or man to whom he imparted them, and whose voice he made true became like himself the master of the universe. He had accomplished creation, not by a muscular effort to which the rest of the cosmogonical gods primarily owed their birth but by means of formulas or even of the voice alone, the first time when he awoke in the Nu. The articulate word and the voice were believed to be the most potent of the creative forces, not remaining immaterial on issuing from the lips, but condensing so to speak into tangible substances, into bodies which were themselves animated by creative life and energy" (Maspero143).
Thoth was an ancient deity going back to the earliest dynasties who remained outside the solar Heliopolitan ennead, and instad had his own cult center at Hermopolis. He is renowned for his wisdom, speaking the sacred words of creation, and for healing the moon eye of Horus. He is thus associated with the origin of written and spoken language, science and medicine and the power of magic. As scribe of the gods he is also the legislator of social order and justice, the Lord of Laws. I Thoth am the protector of the weak and of him whose property is violated, just as was Yahweh.
He is the protector of the goddess Ma'at who personified cosmic and earthly order. He is the leader of the sky, the earth and the nether world, Lord of Heaven, the silver sun, the brightly shining, Lord of Time the Reckoner (of time), and very anciently the Chief of Heaven. He that increaseth time and multiplieth the years. He that looketh through bodies and can read the secrets of men's hearts. He is the means by which all sacred rituals are achieved, without whom nothing can be furthered.
He gives to mankind, not only knowledge, but the very faculties of mind. He is the donor of human far-sightedness and astuteness. His wisdom is of such a nature that it will lead to resolution and satisfaction of all disputing parties. Both Thoth and Sin are described as "he who soothes the heart of the gods"."He is the Lord of Friendliness", "God of exceptional goodness among the gods". The merits of Thoth for the human community can best be characterised by calling him a "culture hero".
Thoth has a complex relationship with the Goddess Hathor (the house of Horus). Both are primal deities who have no formal consort. Their relationship extends far beyond the simple roles of Nannar and Ningal to a complementary relationship of independent creative deities. Thoth represents the principles of cosmic order and harmony, while Hathor represents fertility, creativity and inebriety. Both are ancient primal deities, which have neither consort nor parent. Thoth goes back at least as far as the third dynasty and Hathor to the first.
They are both deities of the underworld who are favourites in prayers of the deceased. Thoth is the psychopomp who takes the deceased to heaven on his wings and initiates the deceased into his secret wisdom. Hathor will offer the deceased a precious drink from her tree and will let him sit beside her under her tree. "I sit under the branches of the tree in the vicinity of Hathor". "The wings of the sky-doors will be opened for thy beauty (person). Thou risest up. Thou seest Hathor." The butchers who have to prepare the sacred offering are told "move your arm for the consecrated gift for the Lord of Eternity (Thoth) and to the Mistress of Inebriety (Hathor), so that they might receive him who brings this (gift) as a blessed one (in the hereafter)". (Thoth and Hathor). Hathor is also the Asherah, the vegetation Goddess who is present in her sacred sycamore tree, and gives nourishment from the midst of her tree even in the underworld.
Each is involved in different myths in healing the sacred moon eye of Horus which was struck out by Seth. Hathor heals the eye with the milk of a Gazelle. Thoth in resoring the moon eye to fullness is the healing magician who can make whole was has been already destroyed. The eye becomes a symbol of eternal regeneration which resurrects the dead Osiris in the underworld, thus identifying Thoth-Hermes with the cult of eternal life. Hathor makes a journey to Heliopolis "bearing the writings of the words of Thoth" - the so-called Book of Thoth, which is regarded as the secret book of magic power, in modern times to become a title for the Tarot. Both are pivotal in the life of Egyptian kings. It is Thoth who permits Re to fertilize the Queen and Hathor who suckles the young King.
The legends of Thoth and Hathor include a charming and pivotal myth of historic rapproachment between God and Goddess. Hathor as Tefnet, the savage lioness, was in the Nubian desert, in her militant angry form, devastating humanity as the angry searing sun eye. To save humanity, Thoth was sent to Hathor. He spoke his sacred words of wisdom to her calming her and inviting her to come willingly to the land of Egypt to become the joyful Goddess of fertility, dance, song and particularly inebriety - sex, drugs and rock and roll! The Maternal mysterium tremendum is thus accommodated to the human condition, despite retaining the essence of her tumultuous nature. It remains part of Thoth's duty to calm down Hathor each day. "Hathor is the divine being who daily brings good fortune to man whom Thoth wishes may have a rich and sound life" (Bleeker 48).
Thus shall Thoth again speak these sacred words to bring the Goddess of Fertility back from the brink of ecocrisis to become an eternal principle of unfolding evolutionary splendour!
Hathor leaves the sacrificial cycle to Isis and Osiris and despite being liable to volatile emotions remains the loving creatress. "The gods play the sistrum for Hathor, the goddesses dance for her to dispel her bad temper." As the joyful Goddess of fertility, dance, song and inebriety Hathor personifies - sex drugs and rock and roll - the very spirit and energy of the modern age. Her festival of inebriety was no mere drunken debauchery, but a state of ecstasy engendered in honour of the goddess - pacifying her and the participants alike .
She is the beloved of her people:
Hathor's dimension of love extends beyond sexuality to foster the affection of the heart by which two young people come together:
She is the goddess of the nocturnal sky (netherworld) - "She who loves silence". "Dedicate all beautiful good things to Hathor, mistress of inebriety, to Hathor ruler of the desert." The Greeks also called Hathor Aphrodite-Urania so she is al-Uzza, just as she is identifiable with Ishtar. She has stars at the point of her horns, ears, on the forehead and on her body. "May the golden give life to thy nose, may the ruler of the stars be united with thee". As the "golden one", Hathor is the sky-cow who bears the sun eye between her horns and nurses the infant Horus-Re.
Hathor maintained a special presence in Sinai on the high places such as Serabit, where the nomadic mining tribes worshipped her. (Maspero 354, Petrie 85). In Egyptian inscriptions, "Qadesh beloved of Ptah" appears as the Syrian and Canaanite fertility goddess known from terra cotta figurines from many sites in Palestine. Hathor is also known as The Lady of Byblos and is thus Ashtarte or Athirat. The twin curled headdress is characteristic of all three goddesses.
Hathor is the sacred cow of heaven. In the excavations at Gezer, in Palestine, a number of figures of bulls have been found, the usual representation of Yahweh, and with them the corresponding figures of cows (Briffault v3 187), consistent with Hathor assuming the role of consort of Yahweh as the Queen of Heaven.
Musa: High Priest of the Moon God?
Musa or Moses is traditionally described as the monotheist who is the bearer of the tablets of Yahweh's law. Flinders Petrie claimed the name was derived from Thutmose, Ahmoses etc. meaning "unfathered son of a princess". His origin in the bullrushes has a precursor in Heracles of Canopus and Sargon of Akkad (Walker 676). Miles (97) notes Moses has an Egyptian rather than an Israelite name, and his father is not named in the Tanakh, a highly exceptional omission. Does this omission suggest that Moses was illegitimate? That he had an Egyptian father? ... the voice from the burning bush subsumes "the God of your father," whoever Moses' father was". One suggestion is that Moses' mother was coopted as a surrogate slave wife by the Pharoah's daughter to sire from her husband because of her own infertility in precisely the manner of Hagar.
Akhtenaten c 1350 BC (Willis 52).
The mythology of his origin in the bullrushes and his high rank in Egypt led Sigmund Freud to suggest that Moses was a follower of the monotheistic sun god Aton of the period of Akhenaton around 1350 BC. This pharoah instituted an aberrant culture which had unusual creative arts, but rejected previous cults with the exception of the Pharoah as the son of the Sun God, representing an evolution of the beneficent aspect of Ra. Akhtenaten embarked on a severe repression of all other gods. There is an inscription "O thou only God, there is no other God than thou." Freud took this to be a fore-echo of "Schema Jisroel Adonai Elohenu Adonai Echod" - "Hear Israel, our Lord God is the only God." The influence of the monotheistic idea is of significance and Aton clearly does have a place in the cultural origins of monotheism, but the worship of Aton was a cultural aberration which did not survive its founder and messianic embodiment the Pharoah himself. .Aton is also not associated with a moral order in the same way.It is more likely that Moses' Egyptian influence came form deeper more long-lasting cultural roots. Other historical analyses contradict the timing of this origin and place the Exodus at the time of Rameses II.
There is in fact nothing in the Biblical accounts nor the ten commandments which indicate that Moses was historically an exclusive monotheist. The extensive rewriting of history that occurred after the apocryphal re-discovery of the Deuteronomic texts, some 600 years later and again by the Priestly redactionist make it difficult to get a genuine picture of Moses teachings. The circumstantial evidence is consistent with Moses being a priest of the high Moon God, by the name of Yaho.
To put a gloss on the discussion, I will describe the story of the cultural hieros gamos of Moses as a transforming 'priestly messiah' who transforms the religious paradigm in a similar shocking manner to Jesus by reinterpreting the most abstract of Egyptian religious and Hapiru desert experience into a new articulate social force of historical redemption through 'literacy' - the logos. In this Moses figures similarly to Jesus in his complex relationship with women.
The Pharoah's daughter Meroe, the wife of Chenephres, ruler of the delta lands, is barren. She adopts Moses. It is possible that, in the manner also traditional to Abraham, she offers her handmaiden to her husband to secure an heir, which would ironically make Moses a Jew by maternal descent only. The episode of the bullrushes may have been a ritual aspect of Moses' adoption by the Princess, gaining his name 'drawn from water' as a spiritual title. Infanticide of male Hapiru children may well have also occurred. It was commonplace in ancient cultures. It is also a myth already told about Sargon of Akkad a millennium before "My priestly mother conceived me, in secret she bore me. She set me in the basker of rushes. With bitumen she sealed my lid" (Time 14 Dec 98). Horus is similarly decribed.
Exodus of course claims Moses as a semi-incestuous, full-blooded Levite: 6:20 "And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years."
Moses thus grows up as the son of an Egyptian princess, as the Bible recounts, and learns from the inside the intellectual dimensions of current Egyptian thinking. He is brought up as the interpreter of sacred wisdom. He becomes a priest of Thoth who is an Egyptian manifestation of the God of Abraham. He discovers how the intellectual tradition of Thoth makes it possible to use sacred language as a vehicle for religious and ethical understanding.
As a young prince, he is commissioned to lead a military expedition to pacify Nubia, in which the ibis is used to secure a safe passage through snake-filled desert and founds a camp called 'Hermopolis' and marries the Nubian princess as a ritual consecration of the treaty he secured in fulfillment of the legend of Thoth and Nubian Hathor.
Moses subsequently becomes the victim of a court intrigue, and flees for his life to the Eastern desert. There he discovers the complementary aspect of his cultural identity, the fellow kinsman of his Hapriu side. He meets Zipporah drawing water, marries her and becomes a shepherd for her father Ruel or Jethro, a Midianite priest. While leading the flocks he has the visionary shamanic experience of the burning bush and the snake.This episode could have been a lone vigil at a mountain tent shrine similar to those found at Serabit and Timna. Moses takes of his shoes. The God is abstract, nameless - almost Vedantic.
Moses resolves to lead his Hapiru clansmen out of their predicament into a new life of wisdom and unity, imparting to them the full dimensions of the ethics and good judgement that are the hall-mark of both Thoth and Moses teachings. He returns to Egypt, later sending back Zipporah to her Midianite father. He becomes a key figure in the period of social turbulence which follows, culminating in the Exodus.
As a priest of Thoth, Moses in one person fulfils the roles of both Sin the God of Wisdom and Nabo the Heavenly Scribe. His journey in Sinai is a symbolic journey between the mountains of these two gods. Moses received the covenant on Mt. Sinai, the Mountain of Sin, (also called Horeb and Har Elohim) after passing through the wilderness of Zin. Sinim is the mythical place of spiritual belonging. Isiah 49:11 "And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim." He died on Mount Nabo.
Lydus expressly asserts that "the Chaldeans called their god Yaho". A Babylonian text reads "The god Ib is my god Yau" (Briffault 3:108). The real names of gods were often kept secret. Yahweh told Moses he was the God of Abraham but under another name, and said instead "Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh - I am that I am" (Exod 3:14) - he was "god whom no one can name" just as Nannar was (above), as was the tabu in Old Testament times (Lev 25:16). This statement is traced to the Elohistic author writing after the separation of Solomon's kingdom (Flanders et. al. 76). Yaho is also referred to by Diodorus Siculus, the Valentinian gnostics, the Kaballa and Yahuq among pre-Islamic Arabs. A stele from Byblos, specifically cites Yaveh-Melek, 'Yahweh the King', [who] worships the Queen of Heaven. "It may well be that, ... the name of the god of the Levites as it appeared in their cult cry Hallelu Yah was the true name of the semitic god in all his local forms.... The first part of this cry is still used as a salutation to the new moon among the Bedawi and in Abyssinia" (Briffault v3 110).
A list of Amenhotep III (1402-1364 BC) also mentions the land of the nomad tribes of Yhw and the names Seir, Laban and Samati the Qenites of the House of Rechab who were affiliated with the Midianites (1 Chr 2:55). One from Rameses III specifically links Yahu with the name Reuel, the same as that of the priest of Midian, Jethro, Moses' father in law", whose flocks he was tending when he saw the burning bush (Num 10:29, Exod 2:18). During the Exodus Jethro visits Moses, pays his respects to Yahweh, offers advice on judgement and goes his way, just as Hobab his son does later. Exodus18:1: "When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father in law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, ... then Jethro, Moses' father in law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her back." And with her two sons Gershom 'an alien in a strange land' and Eliezer 'god is my help' went to visit Moses. ... "And Moses let his Father-in law depart and he went his own way." Ruel's sons are also called Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah - rising, descending, here and there suggestive of astral worship (Bartlett 89).
Thus, although there is a close link with the Midianites, the Bible also emphasises their separateness. There are also further complexities in the violent episode of Baalpeor (Num 25:3 ) attributed to the wiles of the Midianites. In this episode a plague is stayed by violently attacking the whoredom of the men of Israel with the women of Moab. Phinehas runs a copulating couple through with a javelin. This is regarded as a turning point of the whole exodus for Moses. Ba'al peor means "Lord of the Cleft" (Walker 86). It represents the fertility rite between the phallic god of the Phoenicians and the cleft of the Asherah.
Moses was a renowned magician and prophet. He carried the staff of the serpent (Num 21:8), a characteristic of both god and Mercury, and standard as the uraeus crowning the heads of Egyptian deities and pharoahs. The serpent staff of magic he received in the epiphany of the burning bush (Exod 4:4) strengthens this association. The term law'iu or Levite means serpent. The leviathan only later, like Tiamat, became the dark forces of the underworld, like the dark moon. The brazen serpent he bore before him, crafted by the Midianite miners, called Nehustan was only destroyed many centuries later in the reign of Hezekiah. The costume of Levite priests included a crescent moon on the head dress. The concept of the sabbath day is implicitly lunar. Briffault notes that the association between the serpent and the moon God is common to Ur, Babylonian pictography and South Arabia (3/108).
Syrian Rue is widespread and specifically found on Jebel Musa, one candidate for the Mt. Sinai of Moses. The 'burning bush' and the mana from heaven was derived from an acacia. The combination may have given Moses access to a potent visionary preparation know later to the Bedouins of al-Lat.
A copper serpent was the only votive object at a Midianite tent shrine at the copper mines of Timnah, atop an older temple to Hathor, which had suffered an earthquake and been deserted by the Egyptians towards the end of the 12 th century BC. (Weinfield 1987, Rothenberg 1972). The temple was cleared of its votive objects to Hathor and refashioned as a 'tabernacle' defacing stones used in their standing pillars. Two phallic idols were also found with a pile of offerings outside. The association between the serpent and male fertility and inheritance is characteristic of ithyphallic gods Hermes and Nabu. Hermes carries the caduceus and Nabu is the serpent. Like Thoth they are the scribes of the covenant with god and of the logos.
At Serabit, particularly before the sacred cave, the Egyptian worship of Hathor is overlayed on even more ancient Semitic worship of the Goddess "in the high places" of a type which would form a source for later Israelite ritual (Petrie 186-192). Shelters on the hillside are also consistent with night vigils reminiscent of Jacob's (Gen 28:10) before anointing the stone at Bethel (Petrie 68). Later desecration has also occurred here.
Just as Naram-sin and Ishtar were horned, so it appears that Moses became horned when he ascended Mt. Sinai, met god face to face and returned with the tablets. Exod 34:29: "And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him."
St. Jerome's commentary states : 'Moses also went up into a cloud and a fog in order that he might contemplate the mystery of God, which the people left behind could not see. Finally after forty days the common people with their clouded eyes could not look at Moses' face because it had been "'glorified,"' or as it says in the Hebrew, "horned".' Jerome had two different translations for the Hebrew qeren available to him: "'glorified" (shining) in the Septuagint, and "horned" in the Aquila version.' Familiar with both (he drew material from many different sources'), perhaps in his scholarly search for what he believed to be the original word, he chose "horned." Jerome's own comments make it eminently clear that he made a conscious choice, not a simple translation error; and furthermore, that he thought of "horned"' metaphorically (Mellinkoff 77). The alternative definition of queren is rays of light. These are also portrayed emanating from Moses.
A variety of archaeological, historical and mythological evidence from Egypt suggests Moses was a priest of the moon god Thoth associated with the ibis the snake-killing sacred bird (Silver 74-81). Modern scientific investigation however questions this role of the sacred ibis in nature. Artpanus notes that Moses was adopted by the princess Meroe, who was barren, and that he was called hermes interpreter [of the sacred texts]. This would precisely explain the birth of the teachings of Moses in the form of the word of god - the logos. Josephus states that Moses, as the Prince of Egypt he is described to be, leads a force into Nubia. He chooses a circuitous and dangerous inland route, infested with snakes and releases flocks of tame ibises to secure a safe passage (just as his brazen serpent did in Sinai). He then makes a treaty with the defending capital and marries the princess Tharbis - the Cushite wife despised by Aaron and Miriam: Numbers 12:1: "And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman (Cushite) whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman." The journey of Moses to Nubia, which is also confirmed in Artpanus's account, can thus also be seen as the journey of the priest of Thoth fulfilling in real life the myth of the homecoming of Hathor.
Documents from a temple precinct of a temple to Yahweh at Leontopolis in Egypt destroyed after the Jewish revolt, referred to the fact that it was consecrated on a previous site which had many animal mummies, consistent with having been the old site of a previous temple which claimed the privilege of Isiah 19 "In that day there shall be an altar to the Lord inside the land of Egypt - and it shall serve as a symbol and reminder". This suggests that it was built on a more ancient temple of Moses' followers who worshipped and mummified the sacred ibis, as is common in temples of Thoth (Silver 85).
Miriam, whose name is the title of the sea goddess Mari-anna (Graves 397, Walker 584) appears to have originally been a female priestess on a par with Moses. It is Miriam who celebrates when the Egyptians are swallowed in the Reed Sea: Exodus 15:20 "And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea." "Moses sister, later thought to be Miriam in Num 26:59 witnesses the discovery of the baby by Pharoah's daughter (Exod 2:4) and thus becomes the mother of his second birth" thus resembling Isis (Haskins 47). From the hostility expressed by Aaron and Miriam to Zipporah, it might appear that Zipporah and Miriam were competing high priestesses.
This is however seen in a different light by taking into account Jewish midrash. Here a picture emerges of Miriam as founding prophetess of Moses life, who prophesied his coming and left him incomplete on her death leading to his striking the waters at her well of Meribah. Micah reveals a deep secret of the origin of Zion when he says "And I sent before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam." confirming Miriam as the founding prophetess of Zion.
One also has to bear in mind that Tacitus says that the Hapiru were exiled from Egypt because of a disfiguring skin disease (Walker 677), rather than escaping over the Reed Sea through divine intervention. The episodes of the Exodus are plainly wracked with such skin disease. Miriam caught this disease for a week immediately after uttering against Zipporah: Num 12:10 "And behold Miriam became leprous white as snow." Thaumaturgic revenge on the prophetess.
Moses was declared tabu after smiting the rock at Merbah freeing the waters of Kadesh (Qadesh) Num 20:11, after dissention among the people of the Exodus who had to depend on mana from heaven for food and scarce and bitter waters. Very significantly this is where Miriam died linking her again to the sacred waters and their dearth. He was committed to death on the sacred mountain while still in full possession of his faculties, because he had not sanctified the spring of the Goddess in the name of Yahweh : Deut 32:48 "And the LORD spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying, get thee up unto mount Nebo in the land of Moab, over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession and die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel."
Horned Moses and the sacred water (Old Test).
This is not without irony because Wellhausen (Smith WR 181) has shown that the oldest Hebrew tradition refers the origin of the Torah to the divine sentences taught by Moses at Kadesh. The term En-Mispat 'waters of controversy' refers to the drinking of 'holy water' to test a person, instead of casting lots (Smith WR 181). Hagar in Gen 16:7 herself flew from Sarah to the 'fountain of judgement' between Kadesh and Bered where she knew from the deity 'thou seest me' of the birth of Ishmael.
One cannot but lament at Yahweh's fit of jealousy by the springs of the goddess Qadesh, but likewise one cannot but marvel at this journey of Moses from the Mountain of Sin to the Mountain of Nabo as being as graphic as Abraham's journey from Ur to Harran, regardless of occasional conjecture that these place names could have derived from later Assyrian conquests.
The tradition teaches that for the sake of their refusal to give their jewelery to the making of the Golden Bull-calf at Sinai, the women of Israel were given by God an exemption from work on Rosh Hodesh - the renewing of the moon at the beginning of the Jewish lunar month. ... The first four chapters of Exodus lay out a female-male rhythm of the first stage of the liberation of the Mitzrayim in which women are crucial. It is they who take the initiative and teach men the process of freedom, because they know the mysteries of birth. Thus the midwives save the baby boys; Miriam and Pharoah's daughter Moses; Moses must flee to seven women and a well, marry Zipporah, and have a child before he can experience the Burning Bush; and Zipporah must complete the birth by teaching him to circumcise his son before he can reenter Egypt to become the liberator. Zipporah was not Jewish. Was she a celebrator of the moon? (Note her association, like that of Rivkah and Rahel, with a well.) (Waskow 265).
As Freud has pointed out, this disconnection indicates a fracture of the tradition, corresponding to an overthrow of the religion of Moses by a nascent tribal cult, probably worshipping a form of Baal or Hadad, a more Zeus-like Ba'al-shamin (Lord of Heaven), thunder god of the skies and mountains, an event which continues to contribute a strange angst to the Hebrew psyche.
It is signal that the actual site of Mt. Sinai is debated and there was no tradition of pilgrimage to the founding spot of the covenanting prophet. In this overthrow, the cosmic Moon deity of the logos, Yaho, devolved into the patron deity of the Hapiru, retaining his aniconic astral aspect, while moving closer to features both of El, the gentle Canaanite father deity and Ba'al the impetuous storm god of Canaan, who thunders on the mountains and vanquishes the turbulent waters of the abyss.
In a Talmudic tradition, the moon complains to Yahweh that he has lost his pristine importance. "O Lord of the world, Is it not possible for two kings to wear the same crown?" But Yahweh says "Begone and become thou smaller" (Briffault v3 77). Jewish tradition still celebrates the new moon by commemorating dead ancestors as in the tradition of the Moon God with the saying "David, King of Israel is alive and flourishes" (Malamat 106). Jewish women are not forgetful of the immemorial object of Semitic cult, and when the new moon appears they recite reverently a prayer, saying: "May God cause thee to increase and mayest thou be enabled to bestow upon us a blessed month" (Briffault v3 117).
[When God created the sun and moon, the two great lights], the moon said to the Holy One, "Sovereign of the Universe! Can two rulers wear one crown?" He answered, "Go then and make yourself smaller!" ... R. Simeon ben Lakish declared, "Why is it that the he-goat offered on the New Moon [for a sin-offering] is distinctive in that there is written concerning it, 'unto the Lord'?" Because the Holy One said, "Let this he-goat be an atonement for Me [for My sin] in making the moon smaller."(Hullin 60a)
R. Akha said to R. Ashi: In the West, they pronounce the following blessing: "Blessed be the One Who renews the moons." Whereupon he retorted: "Such a blessing even our women folk pronounce." [Let there be added] . . . "The moon He ordered that she should renew herself as a crown of beauty for those whom He sustains from the womb, and who will someday, like her, be renewed and magnify their Maker in the same glory of His kingdom" (Sanhedrin 42a).
Yahweh: God incorporating all deities
The nature of Yahweh underwent one of the most advanced literary inflations to occur in human history. This happened early as a core part of the religious tradition and lent Yahweh multidimensionality lacking in pre-literate deities.
Many verses in the Psalms describe God in ways which clearly identify him as a God of thunder and of weather and the oceans. A stormy god which strides forth in thunder and bathes the land in spring showers. Vengeful and verdant as Ba'al was.
These characteristics broadened to that of a creator deity of the Earth and heavens, still significantly imbued with the storm god character with clouds as chariot, chambers in the waters and a voice of thunder.
In earlier verses Yahweh is clearly identified as merely the Lord of Hosts of the community of deities, not as the sole God not without which there is no other.
Yahweh was also identified strongly with Canaanite El in later apoalypses from Daniel to Enoch in which God becomes the Ancient of Days with white hair like wool.
Daniel 7:9 "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire."
This passage indicates old man El clothed in the fiery chariot of the Sun god. By later centuries, particularly after the Persian era, Yahweh was to adopt all the characteristics of the Sun God drawn across the skies in his chariot, as in Isaiah.
Isa 66:15 "For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire."
The patriarchal ascendancy thus accomplishes by syncretic assimilation into one deity all the manifestations of Sin, Nabu, the ancient Canaanite gods El the grand old man and Ba'al the god of the mountains and weather, who rides in a storm cloud and a verdant shower of rain and the Persian sun-god of light of which Ahura Mazda forms the archetype. However this deity is not god manifest on earth in history, but rather a series of unashamed cultural assimilations accruing to one male godhead all the diverse powers traditionaly ascribed to the many ecosystemic parts of the polytheistic assembly.
2 Kings 2:8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
This identification with the sun God continues from the Persian to the Essene and finally Johanine dichotomies of light versus dark principles. The Essene calendar is also predominantly solar as opposed to the lunar calendar, although despite it's pretentions to the founding tradition, dates to no earlier than 600 BC. As the sun of righteousness, Jesus is the son of the sun. As the light of the world, he is likewise.
The cost has been specific - the loss of virtually all the feminine attributes, particularly in regard to fertility sustainability and the physical responsibility for the continued nutruring and welfare of existence. Despite the fact that Yahweh variously portrays himself as a wifely, or even a fatherly-motherly god, these attributes are generally by analogy only and definitely not a presentation of the female as a manifestation of divinity.
Part 2 b: The Redaction of the Decalogue, Circumcision and the Sacrifice of the Firstborn
Part 2 c: Yahweh and The Asherah - On every High Hill and Under Every Green Tree