Friday, 31 January 2014



Discussions about Proto-Indo-European slips too easily away from horizons and into genetics.

I wish that it wouldn't..

Horizons are
An archaeological horizon is a widely disseminated level of common art and artefacts at an archaeological site or, more usually, over a larger geographic area. It is a distinctive level in that site's or area's archaeological sequence Pool, Christopher A. (2007).
Consider Coca Cola.
There is a Coca Cola horizon.
A place where Coca Cola is not an 'indigenous' invention or creation, but is 'fashionable'.

Like a hologram, the cola can when placed under the right kind of metaphorical light glows alive with trade routes and ideas, and ritual.

When does a can of coke stop being a can of coke, is it defined by form or function?

Artefacts and ideas are modified and mutated by human ingenuity. As you can see, the use of an artefact evolves,and memes are transmitted at the speed of light.

So let's say that themes in myth are like the form of a coke can, names may change but themes (such as the colour scheme of a can of Syoknya) are robust. Themes that reoccur in myth indicate trade routes. They also represent shared ideas and shared ritual. And they will be used in new ways to fit the needs of the people who have access to them.

Egyptian and Mesopotamian myth...primarily influenced each other; themes such as the river to the Otherworld beyond the gates of the sun, and the eternal life under the earth represented by Osiris in Egypt, and Meslamtea / Nergal in Mesopotamia.

Themes regarded as fundamentally Proto-Indo-European are to be found in Mesopotamian myth. The 'Divine twins' Gilgamesh and Enkidu slaying the Bull of Heaven, going back further, Enki's battle with sinuous, dragon/ river, the Kur.

There is a growing consensus that Proto-Indo-European myth can be teased out of 'Indo-European myths', from Homer and Hesiod, from Greek myth and Persian, Norse and especially from the Rig Veda...

I have no idea what I think about this...if 'Assyria' is one big hole in the map of understanding, Europe is an even bigger gap...good to see it being closed, I guess.

Anyway the most famous attempts at unravelling PIE mythology are by Dumizel, Bruce Lincoln (The Indo-European Cattle Raiding Myth) and Adrian Bailey (Caves of the Sun).

In The Indo-European Cattle Raiding Myth: we begin with the three headed monster Trito: Avestan Thrita, Sanskrit Tri-to, Norse Thridi, Albanian trete and Latin Tertius.

And the hero Son of Trito....
In the beginning gods did not mate with humans (to create a hero). Haoma  acted as a conduit between man and god. Haoma was pure power.

Avestan texts seem to say that a hero was born from a father who has prepared Haoma, according to ritual

When Trito prepared Haoma, he offered some to the gods first before drinking the Haoma himself.

Divine radiance.
Once within his body, the Haoma descends to his genitals and is distilled into semen. A son born from this has the power of the radiant cloud...and grows in strength daily.

 in the legend surrounding the conception of Zoroaster. In the story, his father Pouroshaspa took a piece of the Haoma plant and mixed it with milk. He gave his wife Dugdhova one half of the mixture and he consumed the other. They then conceived Zoroaster who was instilled with the spirit of the plant...

Often Trito is said to be a great serpent marked out as an original, primal inhabitant of the land. Often the serpent has taken something, women or cattle or stolen the rain from the people who are not primal, not original inhabitants.

Sometimes Trito appears human (still with the three heads)  and tries to usurp the king of the land by stealing his wife, or cows.

Trito the third man, the interloper is taking cattle or taking women, or both. He is trying to take the throne..and destroy the kingdom.

So, Son of Trito kills  the monster, often with the help of a god: Indra or in the Avestan story, Vayu.

The warrior Son of Trito, then offerers the sacrifice of Haoma  to the warrior-god, creating a sacred bond.

Now before a battle the hero pours out Haoma to give strength to the god, so that he may give aid in battle.

First man is Manu and...
Second man is Yama
They have cattle.
Third man turns up

By the time of the Enuma Elish, cows or women were not a priority in Mesopotamia. It was order that mattered and it mattered primarily to Tiamat (Terthys- the salt water) who sent her husband to settle the noisy children.

Tiamat was killed by Marduk, a hero empowered by the gods..

So, who influenced who?

  •  Philological and linguistic evidence indicate that the Rigveda was composed in the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent, roughly between 1700–1100 BC[6] (the early Vedic period). There are strong linguistic and cultural similarities with the early Iranian Avesta, deriving from the Proto-Indo-Iranian times, often associated with the early Andronovo and Sintashta-Petrovka cultures of c. 2200 – 1600 BC.
  • The Enûma Eliš exists in various copies from Babylon and Assyria. The version from Ashurbanipal's library dates to the 7th century BCE. The composition of the text probably dates to the Bronze Age, to the time of Hammurabi or perhaps the early Kassite era (roughly 18th to 16th centuries BCE), although some scholars favour a later date of c. 1100 BCE.

Cattle are a priority in Hesiod's Theogeny when:
"Kallirhoe (Callirhoe), daughter of Okeanos (Oceanus) lying in the embraces of powerful-minded Khrysaor (Chrysaor) through Aphrodite the golden bore him a son, most powerful of all men mortal, Geryones, whom Herakles in his great strength killed over his dragfoot cattle in water-washed Erytheia [the Sunset Isle]."Hesiod, Theogony 979 ff. (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) 

In the Greco-Roman tradition, the hero no longer pours the libation for the god because the hero does not need the god's help; god and man are a unity personified by the Greek meaning of the title hero ( the hero is fathered by the god directly and now contains the god within himself) the original Haoma/ Sauma ritual has gone missing.

Man and god as hero seems to be a particularly Egyptian idea that filters down through Naram-Sin, and the Phoenician rites of Melqrt (who becomes the 'Burning man' who becomes Heracles) and onwards ever onwards to the Green Hill Far Away.

Bruce Lincoln interprets the myth as expressing the common concerns of people moving into new lands, and whose wealth is women and cattle.

Especially cattle...

Friday, 24 January 2014

The death of Ur-Nammu.

Invention of the divine king.

Naram-Sin was once King of Akkad.His grandfather Sargon had conqured Sumer...sometime between 2300-2200 BC and created a 'country' out of many city states. Sargon's great capital was the new city of Akkad, sometimes called Agade.

His grandson, Naram-Sin called himself King of 'four quarters', meaning king of all the world...2254–2218 BC.

In a text known as 'The cursing of Agade', Naram-Sin loses faith in the god Enlil and begins to believe that Enlil has plans to devastate Agade.

For the first time since cities were built and founded,
The great agricultural tracts produced no grain,
The inundated tracts produced no fish,
The irrigated orchards produced neither wine nor syrup,
The gathered clouds did not rain, the masgurum did not grow.
At that time, one shekel's worth of oil was only one-half quart,
One shekel's worth of grain was only one-half quart. . . .
These sold at such prices in the markets of all the cities!
He who slept on the roof, died on the roof,
He who slept in the house, had no burial,
People were flailing at themselves from hunger.

For seven years Naram-Sin practiced austerity; gave away his royal clothes, threw out the royal paraphernalia, until finally even the Sacred temples were stripped to pay for food for the starving populous..
The life of Agade's sanctuary was brought to an end as if it had been only the life of a tiny carp in the deep waters, and all the cities were watching it. Like a mighty elephant, it bent its neck to the ground while they all raised their horns like mighty bulls. Like a dying dragon, it dragged its head on the earth and they jointly deprived it of honour as in a battle
Climate change, catastrophic upheavals elsewhere...

Nothing could save Akkad.

Divine Kingship, was an Egyptian invention.

The most famous image of Naram-Sin borrows from the image of King Narmer (also known as King Menes).

Naram Sin.

King Narmer.

From Ugarit (Ras Shamra) c.1350-1250 BC.

Sargon and his grandson drew inspiration from King Narmer  in art and politics, but Naram-Sin was portrayed as a god,  like King Narmer.

King Narmer, first pharaoh of the Dynasty I period, inherited the throne and crown of Egypt from the falcon-headed god, Horus.

He had united Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt by marrying into the family of a southern royal family and claimed the throne of the southern "Falcon kings". He worshipped Horus and carried out the correct rituals.

He informed those around him that he had been given the kingship by Horus, the god himself...

The Serekh symbol.
During Narmer's reign, Egypt had an active economic presence in southern Canaan. Pottery sherds have been discovered at several sites, both from pots made in Egypt and imported to Canaan and others made in the Egyptian style out of local materials. The latter discovery has led to the conclusion that Egypt's presence in Canaan was in the form of a colony rather than just the result of trade.
The extent of Egyptian activity in southern Canaan is shown by the discovery of 33 serekhs on pottery sherds at sites in Canaan dating from the Protodynastic Period to the beginning of the First Dynasty. Thirteen of these belong to Narmer, and came from six different sites: Tel Arad, En Besor (Ein HaBesor), Tel es-Sakan, Nahal Tillah (Halif Terrace), Tel Erani, and Lod. An additional serekh from Lod is attributed to Narmer's probable predecessor, Ka. Significantly only one is attributable to Narmer's successors, to Hor Aha, his immediate successor. The remainder of the serekhs either have no name on them or have a name not attributable to any known Pharaoh.
During the summer of 1994, excavators from the Nahal Tillah expedition, in southern Israel, discovered an incised ceramic sherd with the serekh sign of Narmer. The sherd was found on a large circular platform, possibly the foundations of a storage silo on the Halif Terrace. Dated to c. 3000 BC, mineralogical studies of the sherd conclude that it is a fragment of a wine jar which had been imported from the Nile valley to Canaan.
After about 200 years of active presence in Canaan, Egyptian presence peaked during Narmer's reign and quickly declined after that.

Ur-Nammu ( 2047 2030 BC) the builder of ziggurats, was king of Ur for just eighteen years. He died, on the  battlefield, helpless, abandoned by his men.

 As if he were a boxwood tree, they put axes against him in his joyous dwelling place. As if he were a sappy cedar tree, he was uprooted in the palace where he used to sleep. His spouse …… resting place; …… was covered by a storm; it embraced it like a wife her sweetheart. His appointed time had arrived, and he passed away in his prime.
When it is all over, Ur-Nammu comes to rest in the Otherworld:

 He presented gifts to the seven chief porters of the nether world. As the famous kings who had died and the dead išib priests, lumaḫ priests, and nindiĝir priestesses, all chosen by extispicy, announced the king's coming to the people, a tumult arose in the nether world. 
As they announced Ur-Namma's coming to the people, a tumult arose in the nether world. The king slaughtered numerous bulls and sheep, Ur-Namma seated the people at a huge banquet.
The food of the nether world is bitter, the water of the nether world is brackish. The trustworthy shepherd knew well the rites of the nether world, so the king presented the offerings of the nether world, Ur-Namma presented the offerings of the nether world: as many faultless bulls, faultless kids, and fattened sheep as could be brought.
To Nergal, the Enlil of the nether world, in his palace, the shepherd Ur-Namma offered a mace, a large bow with quiver and arrows, an artfully made barbed dagger, and a multicoloured leather bag for wearing at the hip.
To Gilgameš, the king of the nether world, in his palace, the shepherd Ur-Namma offered a spear, a leather bag for a saddle-hook, a heavenly lion-headed imitum mace, a shield resting on the ground, a heroic weapon, and a battle-axe, an implement beloved of Ereškigala.
To Ereškigala, the mother of Ninazu, in her palace, the shepherd Ur-Namma offered a …… which he filled with oil, a šaĝan bowl of perfect make, a heavy garment, a long-fleeced garment, a queenly pala robe, …… the divine powers of the nether world.
To Dumuzid, the beloved husband of Inana, in his palace, the shepherd Ur-Namma offered a …… sheep, ……, mountain ……, a lordly golden sceptre, …… a shining hand. {(1 ms. adds:) He …… a gold and silver ……, a lapis-lazuli ……, and a …… pin to Dimpikug …….}
To Namtar, who decrees all the fates, in his palace, the shepherd Ur-Namma offered perfectly wrought jewellery, a golden ring cast (?) as a …… barge, pure cornelian stone fit to be worn on the breasts of the gods.
To Ḫušbisag, the wife of Namtar, in her palace, the shepherd Ur-Namma offered a chest (?) with a lapis-lazuli handle, containing (?) everything that is essential in the underworld, a silver hair clasp adorned with lapis-lazuli, and a comb of womanly fashion.
To the valiant warrior Ninĝišzida, in his palace, the shepherd Ur-Namma offered a chariot with …… wheels sparkling with gold, …… donkeys, thoroughbreds, …… donkeys with dappled thighs, ……, followed …… by a shepherd and a herdsman. To {Dimpimekug} {(1 ms. has instead:) Dimpikug}, who stands by his side, he gave a lapis-lazuli seal hanging from a pin, and a gold and silver toggle-pin with a bison's head.
To his spouse, Ninazimua, the august scribe, denizen of Arali, in her palace, the shepherd Ur-Namma offered a headdress with the august ear-pieces (?) of a sage, made of alabaster, a …… stylus, the hallmark of the scribe, a surveyor's gleaming line, and the measuring rod …….
1. To ……, the great …… of the nether world, he gave
2 lines fragmentary
After the king had presented properly the offerings of the nether world, after Ur-Namma had presented properly the offerings of the nether world, the …… of the underworld, the ……, seated Ur-Namma on a great dais of the nether world and set up a dwelling place for him in the nether world. 
At the command of Ereškigala all the soldiers who had been killed by weapons and all the men who had been found guilty were given into the king's hands. Ur-Namma was ……, so with Gilgameš, his beloved brother, he will issue the judgements of the nether world and render the decisions of the nether world.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The lily.

I'm beginning to think that there has been a mistake...
It is hard to find when the translation of asphodel meadow into a flower filled, fragrant field  began.

 I don't think it began with Homer.

From The Odyssey book 11.
She came to deep-flowing Oceanus, that bounds the Earth, where is the land and city of the Cimmerians, wrapped in mist and cloud. Never does the bright sun look down on them with his rays either when he mounts the starry heaven or when he turns again to earth from heaven, but baneful night is spread over wretched mortals. Thither we came and beached our ship, and took out the sheep, and ourselves went beside the stream of Oceanus until we came to the place of which Circe had told us.

Odysseus sails beyond the place where the sun sets, to the very edge of the earth.

There is no sun.
Everywhere is fuzzy

From The Odyssey book 24.
Then Mercury of Cyllene summoned the ghosts of the suitors, and in his hand he held the fair golden wand with which he seals men's eyes in sleep or wakes them just as he pleases; with this he roused the ghosts and led them, while they followed whining and gibbering behind him. 
As bats fly squealing in the hollow of some great cave, when one of them has fallen out of the cluster in which they hang, even so did the ghosts whine and squeal as Mercury the healer of sorrow led them down into the dark abode of death. 
When they had passed the waters of Oceanus and the rock Leucas, they came to the gates of the sun and the land of dreams, whereon they reached the meadow of asphodel where dwell the souls and shadows of them that can labour no more. 

Where two rivers meet, shrouded in the foggy gloom, Odysseus sees a grove of trees and a meadow of  Asphodel.

As he walks into the meadow
"The dead approach him in swarms, unable to speak unless animated by the blood of the animals he slays. Without blood they are witless, without activity, without pleasure and without future".
The Elysian Fields were, according to Homer, located on the western edge of the Earth by the stream of Okeanos. Hesiod refers to Elysium  in Works and Days as the Fortunate Isles or the Isles (or Islands) of the Blessed, located in the western ocean at the end of the earth. Pindar, describes a single island with shady parks; there the population spend all day engaged in sport or music.

So why are the meadows of Hesiod and Pindar so much nicer than Homer's; for there are no anaemic ghosts in the Blessed Isles? Are they even talking about the same place?

The simple answer is that the Homeric meadow full of Asphodel is probebly a pun on the ash-like, dust and gloom of the Mesopotamian after-life. The ash of cremation.The word Asphodel has become a type of lily, now daffodil...recalling the flower-strewn meadow Persephone is abducted from, the flowers decorating the grave or the wreaths of flowers adorning the sacrificial cattle...and possibly because of Cretan myth.

Pausanias likewise states that the asphodel is sacred to Persephone and the Chthonic deities; the Rhodians garland with asphodel Kore and Artemis.

But this is not what Homer meant?
I think that the flower-filled meadow has been added onto Homer's description from elsewhere.

An elsewhere Hesiod is describing when he says that:
"...Zeus the son of Kronos gave a living and an abode apart from men, and made them dwell at the ends of earth. And they live untouched by sorrow in the Islands of the Blessed (Nesoi Makarôn) along the shore of deep swirling Okeanos, happy heroes for whom the grain-giving earth bears honey-sweet fruit flourishing thrice a year, far from the deathless gods, and Kronos rules over them; for the father of men and gods released him from his bonds. And these last equally have honour and glory."
Despite the idea that the Elysian fields are strewn with Asphodel; the Asphodel meadow "where the spirits of the dead dwell" is probably not the same place as the Elysian plain.

The Asphodel meadow is located at the edge of Hades, a place within the Underworld, whilst the Elysian fields are just beyond the Twin Peaks; the first hour of the (Egyptian) Twelve Gates.

Granted, they are both in the West...

Walter Burkert notes the connection with the motif of far-off Dilmun as described in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

This places the Elysian field behind sun-set- the first hour of the night-time sun.

 Hecataeus of Abdera was said to have compared the Homeric asphodel ( ἀσφοδελὸν λειμῶνα) from The Odyssey book 24 to the:
"most beautiful meadows around Egyptian Memphis, which are full of marsh-meadow, lotus, and calamus"
The first hour beyond the twin peaks is not the realm of Hades, it is not quite the realm of the dead, and it was considered possible for the living to travel through the twelve gates of night on 'The Boat of Millions' the solar barque...

So maps like this are slightly misleading.
There isn't always an Underworld.
The land of the dead is sometimes just a very long way away.

Nevertheless, just getting to the first hour beyond the gates of the sun is extremely difficult, a journey only a person related to a god (a hero) can accomplish.

By circa 2000 BC, a Mesopotamian poem: The Death of Ur-Nammu- a king who died on the battle-field against the Gutians (after he had been abandoned by his army)  makes it explicit that a hero may achieve a better place in the Underworld as a result of daring to reach Dilmun. Or by having a connection with a hero.... in the Odyssey book 4 Menelaus is told by Proteus that the immortals will send him to the Elysian Plain:
As for your own end, Menelaus, you shall not die in Argos, but the gods will take you to the Elysian plain, which is at the ends of the world. There fair-haired Rhadamanthus reigns, and men lead an easier life than any where else in the world, for in Elysium there falls not rain, nor hail, nor snow, but Oceanus breathes ever with a West wind that sings softly from the sea, and gives fresh life to all men. This will happen to you because you have married Helen, and are Jove's son-in-law.'

Initially the Elysian plain was understood to be separate from the realm of Hades, and admission was reserved for mortals related to the gods and other heroes.

Later, admission expanded to include those chosen by the gods, the righteous, and the heroic, where they would remain after death, to live a blessed and happy life, and indulging in whatever employment they had enjoyed in life.

To be struck by lightning was to be god-chosen.
To be killed by lightning was an instant translocation to 'heaven'.
Places struck by lightning were known not only as enelysia, but also as elysia.
A man struck by lightning was enelysios 'in Elysium'.
A man struck by god was Diobletos or Diobles, touched by an immortal, struck by immortality.

According to Plutarch a man killed by lightning would not decay: lilies.
There were never any lilies.
The asphodel are made of ash...

Is there no way back to the pretty flowers?

The prince of lilies.

θεά των κρίνων
The Goddess of the lilies...

large Minoan cup, or fruit bowl, Phaistos, Crete, ca. 2000-1900 BCE. 

Edith Hamilton suggests that the Asphodel of these fields are not exactly like the Asphodel of our world but are "presumably strange, pallid, ghostly flowers."

Enough for now!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Here on its fragile stalk, to direct the traveler's journey 
Over the sea-like, pathless, limitless waste of the desert. 
Such in the soul of man is faith. The blossoms of passion, 
Gay and luxuriant flowers, are brighter and fuller of fragrance, 
But they beguile us, and lead us astray, and their odor is deadly. 
Only this humble plant can guide us here, and hereafter 
Crown us with  asphodel  flowers, that are wet with the dews of nepenthe." 

Thursday, 9 January 2014

The hollow hills.

When he asked me what the Sanctuary was for

I struggled for a moment trying to is an attempt to encode the structure of the cosmos within a physical space.

I struggled because what it is does not explain the function such a model could supply.

Even if the solar cross was perfectly aligned..
Its function is more than a calender
It encapsulated meanings beyond words.

The inner cruciform surrounded by circles creates a link between earth, sky and the Underworld..

And once, long ago, that was important.

Suis meant god in Hittite
Comes from an Indo-European root meaning to shine..
Becomes Zeus.

But in Mesopotamian religion, all gods shone with terrifying radiance

So the shining god as a specific god is a difference...

But the word seems to mean god..
So the sun goddess of Proto-Indo-European myth would be Suis Arinna or Suis Lelwani?

The Sun goddess of Hittite myth crosses the sky, her chariot drawn by the twin brothers riding horses. Sinking below the horizon she travels the Underworld by boat..

The sun Goddess of the Underworld received offerings at funerals.

Similar iconography, the sun wheel, the boat, the twins, turns up in Scandinavia.

The Egtved girl.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

11 days..

of being ill.

The sleep apnoea was the worst part; for two nights each time I began to sleep I stopped breathing. I'd wake up with a start, a sense of total dread and terror, my muscles ached; I wanted to run.

I put on my blessing cords.

For two days
I didn't do sleep
I took naps instead.

Slowly the sinusitis cleared and the apnoea stopped.

Now, seven days latter I'm almost better..
It has been a long time.
Drinking tea
Living on oranges.

My contention is that I chose to step into this, by opening that which had been closed.

My contention is that anyone who has done 'enough' religious practice becomes visible to the unseen entities; the echoes of the past, the Lords of the Soil.

I knew that there was no right way to avoid what would come to me.

My attitude was one of confidence and robust humour, but I knew that I was offending Bronze Age sensibilities. I didn't think that there was any way that I could not. I don't know if the person whose body was tucked up, just under the earth by one of the blocking stones, had been killed to guard the circle.

I believe that she had..

I wished to draw the poison from her death, to take away the pain and fear.
I'm assuming that that is why I've been so ill.

Now of course this could be pure fantasy, a way to make sense of being ill, a way to make myself feel more important (!) No one knows if the body at The Sanctuary had been killed or not; many people believe that the people of the Bronze Age would have buried someone who had died of natural causes and not have purposefully killed someone...

As I say, I have no idea about the truth of it.

From the first time I stood there I resolved to offer myself as a conduit for the black heaviness of that ground, to know it and to reconnect it to the earth and sky.
I feel like I've succeeded...

First visit.

Monday, 6 January 2014

The Neolithic Sanctuary.

How did it begin...?

Like this?

How about just one post?

One post soon to gain another?

Soon to be joined by many more.

The post holes at the Sanctuary are big and they are deep
Bigger and deeper than required for figures?

Most often people imagine timber circles
Lintels on top of the posts
Like Stonehenge.

One thing for sure
The concentric circles create a cross within a wheel.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Hail to you Nergal, who is not in his grave!

Let my praise travel straight and true
To the Lord of the Great City
To the heart of the Black Sun
To the Lord of Sunset
To Nergal, the Enlil of the nether world.

Your name lets loose awe and fear.
You fall on the land bringing terror in your wake.
Lord of the battle Net’
Ruler of the Seven
The plague weapon that devours like a dragon.
You alone have the power to carry off and bring back…

I, the scribe to your Queen implore you, fierce god of the Great City

To hear my words and not to loose the arrow Mows-down-a-myriad.

To listen to the voice of respect and not use the mace Fifty-toothed-storm.

You are the hero who comes down from the Great Mountain, riding No-resisting-this-storm..

Warrior with head held high, respected lord, son who rises up to protect his father.

Nergal, angry sea, inspiring fearsome terror, whom no one knows how to confront, youth whose advance is a hurricane and a flood battering the lands.

Nergal, dragon covered with gore, drinking the blood of living creatures..

May my warning travel straight and true

To those who bury the gods..

Who believe that they are your match and free

God of War look away from them.
In the name of my Mistress.

Please stay your hand.

Composed by me, Belit-Seri (RideFlame) 31/12/2013.