Gods and Their Cycles

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As with everything in the universe, the Gods have also their cycles. When They move about our world, we sense Them deeply, When the Gods leave, They become remote to us. For example, Nanna-Suen, the God of the Moon of the Babylonians, follows the phases of the moon. He disappears at the dark and new moons. In the winter, when Odin rides with his Wild Hunt, a person can expect to encounter Him.

Modern people are baffled by cyclical time. Since the industrial age, societies have adapted to machines, which have no slack periods. People, on the other hand, have circadian rhythms that do not conform to unchanging machine time. Therefore, modern people become flummoxed with the disruption that the flu season brings. Even a snowfall will gum up the “well-oiled machine” of work, school, and commerce. Used to the inflexible rhythms of the industrial age, people have lost the ability to deal the ebb and flow of their lives.

Therefore, many people become alarmed when they no longer can sense a particular God. They forget that Gods are not on “machine time.” What we need to do is to understand the cycles of the Gods we revere. If we follow their rhythms, we will be in sync with the Cosmos.

For me, the Babylonian Gods are at their strongest during the equinoxes. The Babylonians have divided their calendar to start and end at the equinoxes. The summer, when the heat ruled the land, is the time for the Dead and Ancestors.

With the Gods of Canaan, summer is when Mot, the God of Death, stalks the land. Then, ‘Anat, a warrior Goddess, battles Mot and kills Him. With the coming rains of autumn, Ba‘al Haddad returns from the Underworld.

To know the Gods, the first thing is to step out of machine time. Remember that the Gods are not robots, but a part of the Cosmos. As we experience our ebbs and flows, so we can Theirs.

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Mapping the Universe – Roman Style

AAll Roads Lead To Rome.

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Photo by Anastasia Zhenina on Pexels.com

To explore and navigate a territory, people need a map. Most maps have correspondences, of which the most notable are the cardinal directions. Going north may take a person by a school and later a group of stores. Afterwards, in their mind, “North” corresponds to the high school and the local strip mall. If they go east, they will not encounter those particular landmarks but instead other ones. A map preserves these landmarks and sets the correspondences for a traveler to follow.

Magical correspondences act as a map to the cosmos. By aligning a direction with an element, color, animal, et al., people can move from place to place in the universe. With each correspondence, they can arrive where they want to be.

Using correspondences in a ritual is similar to taking a bus to a destination. Each stop along the way informs a person of where they are at that moment. Sometimes, they have to change buses at transfer stations to reach their final destination. Like certain correspondences which serve more than one direction, a person moves through the cosmos by “changing buses” at these nexus points.

For Roman Polytheists, the most important part of a sacred map is the Pomerium (the boundary between sacred space (the Templum) and profane space. Within the Pomerium is the Focus (the Fire), which crosses all the worlds. Supported and fed by this world (the earth, which lies in the center), the Focus reaches up to the Realm of the Sky Gods and down to the Dark Underground of the Earth Gods. Fire exists everywhere from the magma of the earth to the stars of the sky. Therefore, the Focus can be regarded as the Cosmic Center of the universe.

The Hearth Fire, which is Vesta, the Goddess of the Home, burns at my altar to welcome the Gods and Ancestors to come and partake of my hospitality. The Hearth Fire offers my sacrifices to the Gods, and carries my words to Them as well. The living flame of Vesta helps me to re-orient myself in the cosmos, while doing my daily devotions.

The Mundus (the Pit) opens to the World of the Chthonic Gods and Lemurs (chaotic Dead). Beyond the Mundus are the treasures of the earth as well as the dwelling places of the Dead. For Romans, removing the lid of Mundus is fraught with danger, and care must be taken lest a lemur comes into the world. Offerings are made to Consus, the God of the Granary, to keep the Dead from leaving.

The Portus (Door) creates the portal between all the Worlds. Because of the Portus, within the Templum, all the worlds can come together at one place. Unlike the circle which for many neopagans moves through space and time, the Portus opens the gate to all the worlds. Guarding the Portus is the Gatekeeper, Janus of the Two Faces. Like the janitor of old at the door, Janus oversees this liminal place.

Works Used.
Newberg, Brandon, “Ancient Symbols, Modern Rites.” ADF Publications. 2007.
Scheid, John, “An Introduction to Roman Religion.” Indiana University Press: Indiana. 2003.

Gods of the Month: December

For Romans, December is a month to honor the Gods, who ensure the fertility of the earth. People are concerned about the winter sowing and the future crops. It is also a month for family and friends, including the local Nature Spirits. Saturnalia, which celebrates the Golden Age of Saturnus (Saturn), occurs in the middle of December. It is a time of lights, games, and gift-giving.

These are the Gods of the Month that I honor.

BONA DEA: December 3 is the day of women’s mysteries for Bona Dea, the Good Goddess. This Goddess of Healing also ensures women’s fertility. God of The Month: Bona Dea

TIBER RIVER AND THE SEVEN HILLS OF ROME: Two festivals – one for the Tiber River and one for the Seven Hills – occur on December 8 and December 11 respectfully. God of the Month: Tiberinus and the Seven Hills

CONSUS: The second festival for Consus, the God of the Granary is held on December 15. God of the Month: Consus

SATURNUS (SATURN): Saturnalia from December 17 to 24 celebrates the time that Saturnus Pater ruled the earth. God of the Month: Saturn

OPS CONSIVA: The Opalia is held on December 19 for Ops Consiva (the Sower). This Goddess of Abundance is the Consort of both Consus and Saturnus. God of the Month: Ops Consiva

ANGERONA: At the Divalia, on December 21, Angerona, the Goddess of Secrets is honored. God of the Month: Diva Angerona

ACCA LARENTIA: On December 23, the Larentalia was held at her tomb. She is the Founder of Roman and Goddess of the Lars. Gods of the Month: Acca Larentia of Rome

Non-Roman Gods that I honor:

FRIGGA AND THE DSIR: On the Winter Solstice which is Mothers Night, I celebrate Frigga, the Norse All-Mother, ( God of the Month: Frigga and the Disr) Her Twelve Handmaidens and the Mothers of my ancestral line. The Twelve Handmaidens of Frigga

THE ACHEULIAN GODDESS: An ancient Goddess from Paleolithic times, the Acheulian Goddess is for me the Goddess of Beginnings.  God of the Month: Acheulian Goddess of Prehistory

 

Anubis (Anpu) of Egypt

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Artist: Kris Waldherr for the Anubis Oracle

I met Anubis about the same time that Hecate introduced Herself to me. In the Roman mind, Anubis of Egypt and Hecate of Greece are both Gods of the Underworld and the Keepers of Curses. They are often grouped together for Romans. Anubis is the Keeper of the Keys to the Underworld, while Hecate guards the Dead. To summon Anubis, a person would draw the image of the God in blood from a black dog. To summon Hecate, a person sacrificed a black dog at the crossroads. Both Gods act as intermediaries between the Dead and the living.

Anubis of the Dead is an ancient God of Egypt. During the Early Dynasty Period and the Old Kingdom, Anubis was the Lord of the Dead for the Egyptians. He later became the God of Mummification and Funerals.

During the Middle Kingdom, Osiris became the Ruler of the Underworld. Anubis then became the Guardian of the Scales. He supervises the Weighing of the Hearts of the newly Dead. Anubis also guards the mummified corpse of Osiris, after this God is murdered by Seth, his brother.

In my relations with Anubis, I am to convince some of the newly Dead to crossover. To me, He is the Keeper of the Keys, who leads some of the Dead on their way. Hecate receives them at the end of their journey.

Anubis’ Titles:
He Who Is Upon His Mountain
Lord of the Sacred Land
Foremost of the Westerners
He Who Is In the Place of Embalming
Conductor of Souls
Jackal Ruler of the Nine Bows
Protector of Tombs
Guardian of the Scales

Anat: Goddess of Canaan

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Anat by Grace Kelly from Anat Prayer Card

Anat (‘Anatu) of Canaan is best known for her loyalty to Ba‘al Hadad (Ba‘lu Haddu) (Note 1), and for her fierce warriorship. She is the daughter of El (‘Ilu), who presides over the Divine Assembly (Note 2). Anat is also the sister and cohort of Ba‘al Hadad, the Mighty Cloudrider.

Fiercely loyal to Ba‘al, Anat attends his feast celebrating his victory feast over Yam, God of the Sea. After She arrives, Anat seals the doors shut, then proceeds to kill every enemy of Ba‘al who attended. Up to her waist in blood, Anat stomps around on the skulls littering the floor, in search of more enemies. Still full of bloodlust, She runs out of people to kill, so Anat attacks her furniture. Afterwards, Anat washes up and makes Herself presentable.

rom the Ba‘al Epic
“She smites the people of the seashore, destroys mankind of the sunrise.
Under Her are heads like vultures. Over Her are hands like locusts.
Pouring the oil of peace from a bowl, the Virgin Anath washes Her hands,
The Progenitress of Heroes, (washes) Her fingers.
She washes Her hands in the blood of soldiery, Her fingers in the gore of troops.”

(The New World Encyclopedia)

In the Ba‘al Epic, Anan searches for the remains of Ba‘al, who had been killed by Mot (Motu), the God of Death. Finding his body, She gives Ba‘al a proper burial, assisted by her sister, Shapash (Shapshu), the Goddess of the Sun. Still enraged, Anat goes off in search of Ba‘al’s killer. Finding Mot, She murders Him, burns his body, chops it up, and scatters the remains around the countryside.

Meanwhile, El receives a dream that Ba‘al and Mot have returned from the dead. Upon his return, Mot complains to El about Anat. Indignant, Ba‘al brawls with Mot until Shapash mediates their dispute. Meanwhile, Anat does not receive any reprimand for what She did.

In the “Tale of Aqhat,” a child is promised to Daniel (Dani’ilu) (Note 3) for his piety and devotion. When Aqhat comes of age, he receives a compound bow from the Gods. At his coming out feast, envious Anat spills her wine (a sign of gross impoliteness). She tries to entice Aqhat to give Her the bow. He laughs at Anat, saying it is silly for a woman to have one. Seething with rage, Anat plots his murder. After Aqhat dies, She steals the bow but accidently breaks it. Then Anat breaks down and sobs for both Aqhat and the bow.

Called the Impetuous Maiden, Anat is a Goddess to be reckoned with. Under no one’s authority, She is her own person. She could be considered a Goddess of War, Fury, and Loyalty.

From the Ba‘al Cycle
“Did I not demolish the darling of `El, Yam the Sea?
Did I not make an end of Nahar the River, the great god divine Rabim?
Did I not snare the Dragon, vanquish him? I did demolish the Twisting Serpent, the Tyrant with Seven Heads?”
(The New World Encyclopedia)

Notes about the Gods of Canaan and the Old Testament.

Note 1: This is the Ba‘al who is often disparaged in The Old Testament. Some of his aspects such as “Cloudrider” were transferred to Yahweh. Several of the Psalms (11 and 29, for example) are odes to Ba‘al. The passage of Elijah defeating the priests of Ba‘al is a rewriting of the Ba‘al Epic to have Yahweh be the Lord of Weather and Rain. (1 Kings 18.)

Note 2: El is the High God of the Canaan Gods. He is called the “Father of Men” and “The Kindly, Merciful One.” Many of El’s titles are now used for Yahweh, such as El Shaddai (God Almighty). Again, several of the Psalms are odes to El (19 and 68, for example).

It is thought that El is now assumed to be Yahweh under another name. In fact, the more mild aspects of Yahweh such as mercy and compassion were assimilated from El to form the God of the Old Testament. Yahweh, before the merging, was a desert God, with a violent temper. As a battle God, He fought for his worshipers.

Note 3: Daniel (God’s judgement) is originally a Canaanite name.

You can purchase Anat prayer card and others here: Wyrd Curiosities

 

The Enuma Elish: History as Mythology

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During the Bronze Age in Mesopotamia, empires rose and fell. In the Enuma Elish, the creation story of the Babylonians, this is told in mythic terms. One part of the Enuma Elish tells of the rise of the Sumerians. Their generation of Gods were Anu (An), Enlil (Ellil), and Enki (Ea), who focused on developing agriculture and decreeing divine law. While Anu ruled the Gods, Enlil granted kingship, and Enki created people. These Gods had overthrown Tiamat of the Saltwater and Apsu of Sweet Water, the original Gods of the Ubaid people of the late Stone Age.

The Sumerians drained the swamps, dug out the canals, and began irrigation. They tamed the “sweetwater” thereby killing Apsu as a God. Moreover, they transformed the salt marshes into farmland. Then in 2330 BCE, Sargon of the Akkadians established the first empire. He began the first dynasty by deciding that his son should rule next. This was the beginning of having males be the heads of families as father figures (paterfamilias).

Then came the dark times, starting in 2218-2047 BCE, when the Gutians invaded from Iran. The wars between the Sumerians, Akkadians, Elamites and Assyrians became endless. The Enuma Elish describes this time as Tiamat raising an army, and defeating Enlil and the other Gods. Through continuous irrigation, salt made the land of the Mesopotamians infertile. Faced with dwindling resources including water, the various cities fought each other to gain these precious resources for their peoples. During this awful time, the suffering people wrote lamentations describing their misery — bodies melting in the sun and cities shrouded in smoke.

Into this war-torn landscape came the Amorites, who adopted the Sumerian culture and established their main city of Babylon. Under their king, Hammurabi, the Babylonians cemented their empire and imposed law and order in Mesopotamia. The Babylonians described their victory in the Enuma Elish. The Sumerian Gods, Enki and Enlil cede their power to Marduk, their principal God. Then He defeats Tiamat, and remakes the Cosmos with her body.

Like Marduk, Hammurabi (1792-1750 BCE), who expanded the Babylonian Empire, established order. He wrote down and organized existing laws of various cities into the Code of Hammurabi. These statutes consisted of 282 laws, which ranged from setting wages to punishments for stealing to arranging for divorce. His reign was one of peace and prosperity.

Works Used:
Baigent, Michael, “Astrology in Ancient Mesopotamia.” Bear & Company: Rochester (VT). 2015.
Black, Jeremy and Green, Anthony, “Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary.” University of Texas Press, Austin, 1992.
Jacobsen, Thorkild, “The Treasures of Darkness.” Yale University Press, New Haven, 1976.
Mark, Joshua, “Sumer.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. 28, April 2011. Web. https://www.ancient.eu/sumer/. <accessed 12 October 2018.>
Siren, Christopher, “Assyro-Babylonian Mythology FAQ.” 2000. Web.
https://stason.org/TULARC/education-books/assyro-babylonian-mythology/index.html. <accessed 12 October 2018.>
–, “Sumerian Mythology FAQ.” 2000. Web. http://humanpast.net/files/sumerianmyths.htm. <accessed 12 October 2018.>

Gods of the Month: November

For Romans, November was the month of community and games. The Ludi Plebeii (The Plebeian Games) in honor of Jupiter Optimus Maximus were held for ten days. I see November as a month to celebrate the community and the blessings of the Gods.

In the Wheel of the Year for Neo-Pagans, November is the time to remember the Ancestors. Two Gods of the Dead that I have devotions for at this time are Hecate and Anubis. Hecate has a festival day on November 30. (That is also “Extinct Species Day.”)

POMONA: A festival thanking Pomona, the Goddess of Orchards for the ripe fruit is held on November 1.

MANIA and DII MANES: The Opening of the Mundus (the Well to the Underworld) is conducted for the third time in the year on November 8.

FORTUNA PRIMIGENIA AND FERONIA: On the Ides of November (the 13th), Fortuna Primigenia and Ferona are honored. As the Mother of Juno and Jupiter, Fortuna Primigenia sets the destiny of children at their birth. Meanwhile, Ferona is the Goddess of Agricultural Produce.

TIAMAT: November 6 is one of the festival days for Tiamat of the Mesopotamian Gods. As the Great Mother Creator, She created Heaven and Earth with Her Body.