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Apkallu Chaplet

Apkallu Chaplet



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The modern subdivisions of the Ancient Order of Vland are:

  • Grand Knight of the Ancient Order of Vland("Apkallu Kiduunuuzii Balandin") (A.K.B.)
  • Knight of the Ancient Order of Vland("Kiduunuuzii Balandin") (K.B.)

Ordinary members of the order are Kiduunuuzii Balandin (K.B.) or Knights of the Ancient Order of Vland. The only other rank is the Apkallu Kiduunuuzii Balandin (A.K.B.) or Grand Knight of the Ancient Order of Vland.

  • The badge of the order is "sable, the Vilani chaplet gules" -- the only formal use of this emblem allowed in the Third Imperium.
  • The precedence of the order is after the Ancient and Preeminent Order of Sylea and before the Order of Gateway.

Contents

In the fourth millennium BC, the first evidence for what is recognisably Mesopotamian religion can be seen with the invention in Mesopotamia of writing circa 3500 BC.

The people of Mesopotamia originally consisted of two groups, East Semitic Akkadian speakers (later divided into the Assyrians and Babylonians) and the people of Sumer, who spoke Sumerian, a language isolate. These peoples were members of various city-states and small kingdoms. The Sumerians left the first records, and are believed to have been the founders of the civilization of the Ubaid period (6500 BC to 3800 BC) in Upper Mesopotamia. By historical times they resided in southern Mesopotamia, which was known as Sumer (and much later, Babylonia), and had considerable influence on the Akkadian speakers and their culture. The Akkadian-speaking Semites are believed to have entered the region at some point between 3500 BC and 3000 BC, with Akkadian names first appearing in the regnal lists of these states c. 29th century BC.

The Sumerians were advanced: as well as inventing writing, early forms of mathematics, early wheeled vehicles/chariots, astronomy, astrology, written code of law, organised medicine, advanced agriculture and architecture, and the calendar. They created the first city-states such as Uruk, Ur, Lagash, Isin, Kish, Umma, Eridu, Adab, Akshak, Sippar, Nippur and Larsa, each of them ruled by an ensí. The Sumerians remained largely dominant in this synthesised culture, however, until the rise of the Akkadian Empire under Sargon of Akkad circa 2335 BC, which united all of Mesopotamia under one ruler. [2]

There was increasing syncretism between the Sumerian and Akkadian cultures and deities, with the Akkadians typically preferring to worship fewer deities but elevating them to greater positions of power. Circa 2335 BC, Sargon of Akkad conquered all of Mesopotamia, uniting its inhabitants into the world's first empire and spreading its domination into ancient Iran, the Levant, Anatolia, Canaan and the Arabian Peninsula. The Akkadian Empire endured for two centuries before collapsing due to economic decline, internal strife and attacks from the north east by the Gutian people.

Following a brief Sumerian revival with the Third Dynasty of Ur or Neo-Sumerian Empire, Mesopotamia broke up into a number of Akkadian states. Assyria had evolved during the 25th century BC, and asserted itself in the north circa 2100 BC in the Old Assyrian Empire and southern Mesopotamia fragmented into a number of kingdoms, the largest being Isin, Larsa and Eshnunna.

In 1894 BC the initially minor city-state of Babylon was founded in the south by invading West Semitic-speaking Amorites. It was rarely ruled by native dynasties throughout its history.

Some time after this period, the Sumerians disappeared, becoming wholly absorbed into the Akkadian-speaking population.

Assyrian kings are attested from the late 25th century BC and dominated northern Mesopotamia and parts of eastern Anatolia and northeast Syria.

Circa 1750 BC, the Amorite ruler of Babylon, King Hammurabi, conquered much of Mesopotamia, but this empire collapsed after his death, and Babylonia was reduced to the small state it had been upon its founding. The Amorite dynasty was deposed in 1595 BC after attacks from mountain-dwelling people known as the Kassites from the Zagros Mountains, who went on to rule Babylon for over 500 years.

Assyria, having been the dominant power in the region with the Old Assyrian Empire between the 20th and 18th centuries BC before the rise of Hammurabi, once more became a major power with the Middle Assyrian Empire (1391–1050 BC). Assyria defeated the Hittites and Mitanni, and its growing power forced the New Kingdom of Egypt to withdraw from the Near East. The Middle Assyrian Empire at its height stretched from the Caucasus to modern Bahrain and from Cyprus to western Iran.

The Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–605 BC) was the most dominant power on earth and the largest empire the world had yet seen between the 10th century BC and the late 7th century BC, with an empire stretching from Cyprus in the west to central Iran in the east, and from the Caucasus in the north to Nubia, Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula in the south, facilitating the spread of Mesopotamian culture and religion far and wide under emperors such as Ashurbanipal, Tukulti-Ninurta II, Tiglath-Pileser III, Shalmaneser IV, Sargon II, Sennacherib and Esarhaddon. During the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Mesopotamian Aramaic became the lingua franca of the empire, and also Mesopotamia proper. The last written records in Akkadian were astrological texts dating from 78 CE discovered in Assyria.

The empire fell between 612 BC and 599 BC after a period of severe internal civil war in Assyria which soon spread to Babylonia, leaving Mesopotamia in a state of chaos. A weakened Assyria was then subject to combined attacks by a coalition of hitherto vassals, in the form of the Babylonians, Chaldeans, Medes, Scythians, Persians, Sagartians and Cimmerians beginning in 616 BC. These were led by Nabopolassar of Babylon and Cyaxares of Media and Persia. Nineveh was sacked in 612 BC, Harran fell in 608 BC, Carchemish in 605 BC, and final traces of Assyrian imperial administration disappeared from Dūr-Katlimmu by 599 BC.

Babylon had a brief late flowering of power and influence, initially under the Chaldean dynasty, which took over much of the empire formerly held by their northern kinsmen. However, the last king of Babylonia, Nabonidus, an Assyrian, paid little attention to politics, preferring to worship the lunar deity Sin, leaving day-to-day rule to his son Belshazzar. This and the fact that the Persians and Medes to the east were growing in power now that the might of Assyria that had held them in vassalage for centuries was gone, spelt the death knell for native Mesopotamian power. The Achaemenid Empire conquered the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 539 BC, after which the Chaldeans disappeared from history, although Mesopotamian people, culture and religion continued to endure after this.

Effect of Assyrian religious beliefs on its political structure Edit

Like many nations in Mesopotamian history, Assyria was originally, to a great extent, an oligarchy rather than a monarchy. Authority was considered to lie with "the city", and the polity had three main centres of power—an assembly of elders, a hereditary ruler, and an eponym. The ruler presided over the assembly and carried out its decisions. He was not referred to with the usual Akkadian term for "king", šarrum that was instead reserved for the city's patron deity Ashur, of whom the ruler was the high priest. The ruler himself was only designated as "steward of Assur" (iššiak Assur), where the term for steward is a borrowing from Sumerian ensí. The third centre of power was the eponym (limmum), who gave the year his name, similarly to the eponymous archon and Roman consuls of classical antiquity. He was annually elected by lot and was responsible for the economic administration of the city, which included the power to detain people and confiscate property. The institution of the eponym as well as the formula iššiak Assur lingered on as ceremonial vestiges of this early system throughout the history of the Assyrian monarchy. [3]

Religion in the Neo-Assyrian Empire Edit

The religion of the Neo-Assyrian Empire centered around the Assyrian king as the king of their lands as well. However, kingship at the time was linked very closely with the idea of divine mandate. [4] The Assyrian king, while not being a god himself, was acknowledged as the chief servant of the chief god, Ashur. In this manner, the king's authority was seen as absolute so long as the high priest reassured the peoples that the gods, or in the case of the henotheistic Assyrians, the god, was pleased with the current ruler. [4] For the Assyrians who lived in Assur and the surrounding lands, this system was the norm. For the conquered peoples, however, it was novel, particularly to the people of smaller city-states. In time, Ashur was promoted from being the local deity of Assur to the overlord of the vast Assyrian domain, which spread from the Caucasus and Armenia in the north to Egypt, Nubia and the Arabian Peninsula in the south, and from Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean Sea in the west to central Iran in the east. [4] Assur, the patron deity of the city of Assur from the late Bronze Age, was in constant rivalry with the patron deity of Babylon, Marduk. Worship was conducted in his name throughout the lands dominated by the Assyrians. With the worship of Assur across much of the Fertile Crescent, the Assyrian king could command the loyalty of his fellow servants of Assur.

Later Mesopotamian history Edit

In 539 BC, Mesopotamia was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire (539–332 BC), then ruled by Cyrus the Great. This brought to an end over 3,000 years of Semitic Mesopotamian dominance of the Near East. The Persians maintained and did not interfere in the native culture and religion and Assyria and Babylon continued to exist as entities (although Chaldea and the Chaldeans disappeared), and Assyria was strong enough to launch major rebellions against Persia in 522 and 482 BC. During this period the Syriac language and Syriac script evolved in Assyria, and were centuries later to be the vehicle for the spread of Syriac Christianity throughout the near east.

Then, two centuries later in 330 BC the Macedonian Greek emperor Alexander the Great overthrew the Persians and took control of Mesopotamia itself. After Alexander's death increased Hellenistic influence was brought to the region by the Seleucid Empire. [5] Assyria and Babylonia later became provinces under the Parthian Empire (Athura and province of Babylonia), Rome (province of Assyria) and Sassanid Empire (province of Asuristan). Babylonia was dissolved as an entity during the Parthian Empire, though Assyria endured as a geo-political entity until the 7th century AD Arab Islamic conquest.

During the Parthian Empire there was a major revival in Assyria (known as Athura and Assuristan) between the 2nd century BC and 4th century CE, [6] with temples once more being dedicated to gods such as Ashur, Sin, Shamash, Hadad and Ishtar in independent Neo-Assyrian states such as Assur, Adiabene, Osroene, Beth Garmai, Hatra and Beth Nuhadra. [7] [8]

With the Christianization of Mesopotamia beginning in the 1st century CE the independent Assyrian states of Adiabene, Osroene, Assur, Hatra, Beth Nuhadra and Beth Garmai were largely ruled by converts to home grown forms of still extant Eastern Rite Christianity in the form of the Church of the East and Syriac Orthodox Church, as well as Judaism. Gnostic sects such as Sabianism and the still extant Mandeanism also became popular, though native religions still coexisted alongside these new monotheistic religions among the native populace gods such as Ashur and Sin were still worshiped until the 4th century CE in Assyria. In the 3rd century CE another native Mesopotamian religion flourished, Manicheanism, which incorporated elements of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism, as well as local Mesopotamian elements. [9]

There are no specific written records explaining Mesopotamian religious cosmology that survive today. Nonetheless, modern scholars have examined various accounts, and created what is believed to be an at least partially accurate depiction of Mesopotamian cosmology. [10] In the Epic of Creation, dated to 1200 BC, it explains that the god Marduk killed the mother goddess Tiamat and used half her body to create the earth, and the other half to create both the paradise of šamû and the netherworld of irṣitu. [11] A document from a similar period stated that the universe was a spheroid, with three levels of šamû, where the gods dwelt, and where the stars existed, above the three levels of earth below it. [12]

Deities Edit

Mesopotamian religion was polytheistic, thereby accepting the existence of many different deities, both male and female, though it was also henotheistic, [14] with certain gods being viewed as superior to others by their specific devotees. These devotees were often from a particular city or city-state that held that deity as its patron deity, for instance the god Enki was often associated with the city of Eridu in Sumer, the god Ashur with Assur and Assyria, Enlil with the Sumerian city of Nippur, Ishtar with the Assyrian city of Arbela, and the god Marduk was associated with Babylon. [15] Though the full number of gods and goddesses found in Mesopotamia is not known, K. Tallqvist, in his Akkadische Götterepitheta (1938) counted around two thousand four hundred that we now know about, most of which had Sumerian names. In the Sumerian language, the gods were referred to as dingir, while in the Akkadian language they were known as ilu and it seems that there was syncreticism between the gods worshipped by the two groups, adopting one another's deities. [16]

The Mesopotamian gods bore many similarities with humans, and were anthropomorphic, thereby having humanoid form. Similarly, they often acted like humans, requiring food and drink, as well as drinking alcohol and subsequently suffering the effects of drunkenness, [17] but were thought to have a higher degree of perfection than common men. They were thought to be more powerful, all-seeing and all-knowing, unfathomable, and, above all, immortal. One of their prominent features was a terrifying brightness (melammu) which surrounded them, producing an immediate reaction of awe and reverence among men. [18] In many cases, the various deities were family relations of one another, a trait found in many other polytheistic religions. [19] The historian J. Bottéro was of the opinion that the gods were not viewed mystically, but were instead seen as high-up masters who had to be obeyed and feared, as opposed to loved and adored. [20] Nonetheless, many Mesopotamians, of all classes, often had names that were devoted to a certain deity this practice appeared to have begun in the third millennium BC among the Sumerians, but also was later adopted by the Akkadians, Assyrians and Babylonians as well. [21]

Initially, the pantheon was not ordered, but later Mesopotamian theologians came up with the concept of ranking the deities in order of importance. A Sumerian list of around 560 deities that did this was uncovered at Farm and Tell Abû Ṣalābīkh and dated to circa 2600 BC, ranking five primary deities as being of particular importance. [22]

One of the most important of these early Mesopotamian deities was the god Enlil, who was originally a Sumerian divinity viewed as a king of the gods and a controller of the world, who was later adopted by the Akkadians. Another was the Sumerian god An, who served a similar role to Enlil and became known as Anu among the Akkadians. The Sumerian god Enki was later also adopted by the Akkadians, initially under his original name, and later as Éa. Similarly the Sumerian moon god Nanna became the Akkadian Sîn while the Sumerian sun god Utu became the Akkadian Shamash. One of the most notable goddesses was the Sumerian sex and war deity Inanna. With the later rise to power of the Babylonians in the 18th century BC, the king, Hammurabi, declared Marduk, a deity who before then had not been of significant importance, to a position of supremacy alongside Anu and Enlil in southern Mesopotamia. [23]

Perhaps the most significant legend to survive from Mesopotamian religion is the Epic of Gilgamesh, which tells the story of the heroic king Gilgamesh and his wild friend Enkidu, and the former's search for immortality which is entwined with all the gods and their approval. It also contains the earliest reference to The Great Flood.

Recent discoveries Edit

In March 2020, archaeologists announced the discovery of a 5,000-year-old cultic area filled with more than 300 broken ceremonial ceramic cups, bowls, jars, animal bones and ritual processions dedicated to Ningirsu at the site of Girsu. One of the remains was a duck-shaped bronze figurine with eyes made from bark which is thought to be dedicated to Nanshe. [24] [25]

A prayer to the god Enlil. [26]

Public devotions Edit

Each Mesopotamian city was home to a deity, and each of the prominent deities was the patron of a city, and all known temples were located in cities, though there may have been shrines in the suburbs. [27] The temple itself was constructed of mud brick in the form of a ziggurat, which rose to the sky in a series of stairstep stages. Its significance and symbolism have been the subject of much discussion, but most regard the tower as a kind of staircase or ladder for the god to descend from and ascend to the heavens, though there are signs which point towards an actual cult having been practiced in the upper temple, so the entire temple may have been regarded as a giant altar. Other theories treat the tower as an image of the cosmic mountain where a dying and rising god "lay buried." Some temples, such as the temple of Enki in Eridu contained a holy tree (kiskanu) in a holy grove, which was the central point of various rites performed by the king, who functioned as a "master gardener." [28]

Mesopotamian temples were originally built to serve as dwelling places for the god, who was thought to reside and hold court on earth for the good of the city and kingdom. [29] His presence was symbolized by an image of the god in a separate room. The god's presence within the image seems to have been thought of in a very concrete way, as instruments for the presence of the deity." [30] This is evident from the poem How Erra Wrecked the World, in which Erra deceived the god Marduk into leaving his cult statue. [31] Once constructed, idols were consecrated through special nocturnal rituals where they were given "life", and their mouth "was opened" (pet pî) and washed (mes pî) so they could see and eat. [28] If the deity approved, it would accept the image and agree to "inhabit" it. These images were also entertained, and sometime escorted on hunting expeditions. In order to service the gods, the temple was equipped with a household with kitchens and kitchenware, sleeping rooms with beds and side rooms for the deity's family, as well as a courtyard with a basin and water for cleansing visitors, as well as a stable for the god's chariot and draft animals. [32]

Generally, the god's well-being was maintained through service, or work (dullu). The image was dressed and served banquets twice a day. It is not known how the god was thought to consume the food, but a curtain was drawn before the table while he or she "ate", just as the king himself was not allowed to be seen by the masses while he ate. Occasionally, the king shared in these meals, and the priests may have had some share in the offerings as well. Incense was also burned before the image, because it was thought that the gods enjoyed the smell. Sacrificial meals were also set out regularly, with a sacrificial animal seen as a replacement (pūhu) or substitute (dinānu) for a man, and it was considered that the anger of the gods or demons was then directed towards the sacrificial animal. Additionally, certain days required extra sacrifices and ceremonies for certain gods, and every day was sacred to a particular god. [33]

The king was thought, in theory, to be the religious leader (enu or šangū) of the cult and exercised a large number of duties within the temple, with a large number of specialists whose task was to mediate between men and gods: [34] a supervising or "watchman" priest (šešgallu), priests for individual purification against demons and magicians (āšipu), priests for the purification of the temple (mašmašu), priests to appease the wrath of the gods with song and music (kalū), as well as female singers (nāru), male singers (zammeru), craftsmen (mārē ummāni), swordbearers (nāš paṭri), masters of divination (bārû), penitents (šā'ilu), and others. [35]

Private devotions Edit

Besides the worship of the gods at public rituals, individuals also paid homage to a personal deity. As with other deities, the personal gods changed over time and little is known about early practice as they are rarely named or described. In the mid-third millennium BC, some rulers regarded a particular god or gods as being their personal protector. In the second millennium BC, personal gods began to function more on behalf of the common man, [36] with whom he had a close, personal relationship, maintained through prayer and maintenance of his god's statue. [37] A number of written prayers have survived from ancient Mesopotamia, each of which typically exalt the god that they are describing above all others. [38] The historian J. Bottéro stated that these poems display "extreme reverence, profound devotion, [and] the unarguable emotion that the supernatural evoked in the hearts of those ancient believers" but that they showed a people who were scared of their gods rather than openly celebrating them. [20] They were thought to offer good luck, success, and protection from disease and demons, [36] and one's place and success in society was thought to depend on his personal deity, including the development of his certain talents and even his personality. This was even taken to the point that everything he experienced was considered a reflection of what was happening to his personal god. [37] When a man neglected his god, it was assumed that the demons were free to inflict him, and when he revered his god, that god was like a shepherd who seeks food for him. [39]

There was a strong belief in demons in Mesopotamia, and private individuals, like the temple priests, also participated in incantations (šiptu) to ward them off. [40] Although there was no collective term for these beings either in Sumerian or Akkadian, they were merely described as harmful or dangerous beings or forces, and they were used as a logical way to explain the existence of evil in the world. [41] They were thought to be countless in number, and were thought to even attack the gods as well. Besides demons, there were also spirits of the dead, (etimmu) who could also cause mischief. Amulets were occasionally used, and sometimes a special priest or exorcist (āšipu or mašmašu) was required. Incantations and ceremonies were also used to cure diseases which were also thought to be associated with demonic activity, sometimes making use of sympathetic magic. [42] Sometimes an attempt was made to capture a demon by making an image of it, placing it above the head of a sick person, then destroying the image, which the demon was somehow likely to inhabit. Images of protecting spirits were also made and placed at gates to ward off disaster. [43]

Divination was also employed by private individuals, with the assumption that the gods have already determined the destinies of men and these destinies could be ascertained through observing omens and through rituals (e.g., casting lots). [43] It was believed that the gods expressed their will through "words" (amatu) and "commandments" (qibitu) which were not necessarily spoken, but were thought to manifest in the unfolding routine of events and things. [44] There were countless ways to divine the future, such as observing oil dropped into a cup of water (lecanomancy), observing the entrails of sacrificial animals (extispicy), observation of the behavior of birds (augury) and observing celestial and meteorological phenomena (astrology), as well as through interpretation of dreams. Often interpretation of these phenomena required the need for two classes of priests: askers (sa'ilu) and observer (baru), and also sometimes a lower class of ecstatic seer (mahhu) that was also associated with witchcraft. [45]

Incantation from the Šurpu series. [46]

Although ancient paganism tended to focus more on duty and ritual than morality, a number of general moral virtues can be gleaned from surviving prayers and myths. It was believed that man originated as a divine act of creation, and the gods were believed to be the source of life, and held power over sickness and health, as well as the destinies of men. Personal names show that each child was considered a gift from divinity. [47] Man was believed to have been created to serve the gods, or perhaps wait on them: the god is lord (belu) and man is servant or slave (ardu), and was to fear (puluhtu) the gods and have the appropriate attitude towards them. Duties seem to have been primarily of a cultic and ritual nature, [48] although some prayers express a positive psychological relationship, or a sort of conversion experience in regard to a god. [49] Generally the reward to mankind is described as success and long life. [47]

Every man also had duties to his fellow man which had some religious character, particularly the king's duties to his subjects. It was thought that one of the reasons the gods gave power to the king was to exercise justice and righteousness, [50] described as mēšaru and kettu, literally "straightness, rightness, firmness, truth". [51] Examples of this include not alienating and causing dissension between friends and relatives, setting innocent prisoners free, being truthful, being honest in trade, respecting boundary lines and property rights, and not putting on airs with subordinates. Some of these guidelines are found in the second tablet of the Šurpu incantation series. [46]

Sin, on the other hand, was expressed by the words hitu (mistake, false step), annu or arnu (rebellion), and qillatu (sin or curse), [46] with strong emphasis on the idea of rebellion, sometimes with the idea that sin is man's wishing to "live on his own terms" (ina ramanisu). Sin also was described as anything which incited the wrath of the gods. Punishment came through sickness or misfortune, [49] which inevitably lead to the common reference to unknown sins, or the idea that one can transgress a divine prohibition without knowing it—psalms of lamentation rarely mention concrete sins. This idea of retribution was also applied to the nation and history as a whole. A number of examples of Mesopotamian literature show how war and natural disasters were treated as punishment from the gods, and how kings were used as a tool for deliverance. [52]

Sumerian myths suggest a prohibition against premarital sex. [53] Marriages were often arranged by the parents of the bride and groom engagements were usually completed through the approval of contracts recorded on clay tablets. These marriages became legal as soon as the groom delivered a bridal gift to his bride's father. Nonetheless, evidence suggests that premarital sex was a common, but surreptitious, occurrence. [54] : 78 The worship of Inanna/Ishtar, which was prevalent in Mesopotamia could involve wild, frenzied dancing and bloody ritual celebrations of social and physical abnormality. It was believed that "nothing is prohibited to Inanna", and that by depicting transgressions of normal human social and physical limitations, including traditional gender definition, one could cross over from the "conscious everyday world into the trance world of spiritual ecstasy." [55]

The ancient Mesopotamians believed in an afterlife that was a land below our world. It was this land, known alternately as Arallû, Ganzer or Irkallu, the latter of which meant "Great Below", that it was believed everyone went to after death, irrespective of social status or the actions performed during life. [56] Unlike Christian Hell, the Mesopotamians considered the underworld neither a punishment nor a reward. [57] Nevertheless, the condition of the dead was hardly considered the same as the life previously enjoyed on earth: they were considered merely weak and powerless ghosts. The myth of Ishtar's descent into the underworld relates that "dust is their food and clay their nourishment, they see no light, where they dwell in darkness." Stories such as the Adapa myth resignedly relate that, due to a blunder, all men must die and that true everlasting life is the sole property of the gods. [18]

There are no known Mesopotamian tales about the end of the world, although it has been speculated that they believed that this would eventually occur. This is largely because Berossus wrote that the Mesopotamians believed the world to last "twelve times twelve sars" with a sar being 3,600 years, this would indicate that at least some of the Mesopotamians believed that the Earth would only last 518,400 years. Berossus does not report what was thought to follow this event, however. [58]

Challenges Edit

The modern study of Mesopotamia (Assyriology) is still a fairly young science, beginning only in the middle of the Nineteenth century, [59] and the study of Mesopotamian religion can be a complex and difficult subject because, by nature, their religion was governed only by usage, not by any official decision, [60] and by nature it was neither dogmatic nor systematic. Deities, characters, and their actions within myths changed in character and importance over time, and occasionally depicted different, sometimes even contrasting images or concepts. This is further complicated by the fact that scholars are not entirely certain what role religious texts played in the Mesopotamian world. [61]

For many decades, some scholars of the ancient Near East argued that it was impossible to define there as being a singular Mesopotamian religion, with Leo Oppenheim (1964) stating that "a systematic presentation of Mesopotamian religion cannot and should not be written. " [62] Others, like Jean Bottéro, the author of Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia, disagreed, believing that it would be too complicated to divide the religion into many smaller groups, stating that:

Should we dwell on a certain social or cultural category: the "official religion, " the "private religion, " the religion of the "educated". Should we emphasise a certain city or province: Ebla, Mari, Assyria? Should we concentrate on a certain period in time: the Seleucid, the Achaemenid, the Chaldean, the Neo-Assyrian, the Kassite, the Old Babylonian, the Neo-Sumerian, or the Old Akkadian period? Since, contrary to what some would imprudently lead us to believe, there were no distinct religions but only successive states of the same religious system. – such an approach would be excessive, even pointless. [63]

Panbabylonism Edit

According to Panbabylonism, a school of thought founded by Hugo Winckler and held in the early 20th century among primarily German Assyriologists, there was a common cultural system extending over the ancient Near East which was overwhelmingly influenced by the Babylonians. According to this theory the religions of the Near East were rooted in Babylonian astral science- including the Hebrew Bible and Judaism. This theory of a Babylonian-derived Bible originated from the discovery of a stele in the acropolis of Susa bearing a Babylonian flood myth with many similarities to the flood of Genesis, the Epic of Gilgamesh. However, flood myths appear in almost every culture around the world, including cultures that never had contact with Mesopotamia. The fundamental tenets of Panbabylonism were eventually dismissed as pseudoscientific, [64] however Assyriologists and biblical scholars recognize the influence of Babylonian mythology on Jewish mythology and other Near Eastern mythologies, albeit indirect. Indeed, similarities between both religious traditions may draw from even older sources. [65]

Biblical eschatology Edit

In the New Testament Book of Revelation, Babylonian religion is associated with religious apostasy of the lowest order, the archetype of a political/religious system heavily tied to global commerce, and it is depicted as a system which, according to the author, continued to hold sway in the first century CE, eventually to be utterly annihilated. According to some interpretations, this is believed to refer to the Roman Empire, [66] but according to other interpretations, this system remains extant in the world until the Second Coming. [67] [68] [69]

  • Revelation 17:5: "And upon her forehead was a name written, mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth,"
  • Revelation 18:9: "The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, 'Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.' And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her for no man buyeth their merchandise any more. "

Popular culture Edit

Mesopotamian religion, culture, history and mythology has influenced some forms of music. As well as traditional Syriac folk music, many heavy metal bands have named themselves after Mesopotamian gods and historical figures, including the partly Assyrian band Melechesh.

New religious movements Edit

Various new religious movements in the 20th and 21st centuries have been founded that venerate some of the deities found in ancient Mesopotamian religion, including various strains of neopaganism that have adopted the worship of the historical Mesopotamian gods.

As with most dead religions, many aspects of the common practices and intricacies of the doctrine have been lost and forgotten over time. However, much of the information and knowledge has survived, and great work has been done by historians and scientists, with the help of religious scholars and translators, to re-construct a working knowledge of the religious history, customs, and the role these beliefs played in everyday life in Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, Babylonia, Ebla and Chaldea during this time. Mesopotamian religion is thought to have been an influence on subsequent religions throughout the world, including Canaanite, Aramean, and ancient Greek.

Mesopotamian religion was polytheistic, worshipping over 2,100 different deities, [16] many of which were associated with a specific state within Mesopotamia, such as Sumer, Akkad, Assyria or Babylonia, or a specific Mesopotamian city, such as (Ashur), Nineveh, Ur, Nippur, Arbela, Harran, Uruk, Ebla, Kish, Eridu, Isin, Larsa, Sippar, Gasur, Ekallatum, Til Barsip, Mari, Adab, Eshnunna and Babylon.

Mesopotamian religion has historically the oldest body of recorded literature of any religious tradition. What is known about Mesopotamian religion comes from archaeological evidence uncovered in the region, particularly numerous literary sources, which are usually written in Sumerian, Akkadian (Assyro-Babylonian) or Aramaic using cuneiform script on clay tablets and which describe both mythology and cultic practices. Other artifacts can also be useful when reconstructing Mesopotamian religion. As is common with most ancient civilizations, the objects made of the most durable and precious materials, and thus more likely to survive, were associated with religious beliefs and practices. This has prompted one scholar to make the claim that the Mesopotamian's "entire existence was infused by their religiosity, just about everything they have passed on to us can be used as a source of knowledge about their religion." [70] While Mesopotamian religion had almost completely died out by approximately 400–500 CE after its indigenous adherents had largely become Assyrian Christians, it has still had an influence on the modern world, predominantly because many biblical stories that are today found in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Mandaeism were possibly based upon earlier Mesopotamian myths, in particular that of the creation myth, the Garden of Eden, the flood myth, the Tower of Babel, figures such as Nimrod and Lilith and the Book of Esther. It has also inspired various contemporary neo-pagan groups.


Contents

Before the beginning of kingship in Sumer, the city-states were effectively ruled by theocratic priests and religious officials. Later, this role was supplanted by kings, but priests continued to exert great influence on Sumerian society. In early times, Sumerian temples were simple, one-room structures, sometimes built on elevated platforms. Towards the end of Sumerian civilization, these temples developed into ziggurats—tall, pyramidal structures with sanctuaries at the tops.

The Sumerians believed that the universe had come into being through a series of cosmic births. First, Nammu, the primeval waters, gave birth to Ki (the earth) and An (the sky), who mated together and produced a son named Enlil. Enlil separated heaven from earth and claimed the earth as his domain. Humans were believed to have been created by Enki, the son of Nammu and An. Heaven was reserved exclusively for deities and, upon their deaths, all mortals' spirits, regardless of their behavior while alive, were believed to go to Kur, a cold, dark cavern deep beneath the earth, which was ruled by the goddess Ereshkigal and where the only food available was dry dust. In later times, Ereshkigal was believed to rule alongside her husband Nergal, the god of death.

The major deities in the Sumerian pantheon included An, the god of the heavens, Enlil, the god of wind and storm, Enki, the god of water and human culture, Ninhursag, the goddess of fertility and the earth, Utu, the god of the sun and justice, and his father Nanna, the god of the moon. During the Akkadian Period and afterward, Inanna, the goddess of sex, beauty, and warfare, was widely venerated across Sumer and appeared in many myths, including the famous story of her descent into the Underworld.

Sumerian religion heavily influenced the religious beliefs of later Mesopotamian peoples elements of it are retained in the mythologies and religions of the Hurrians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and other Middle Eastern culture groups. Scholars of comparative mythology have noticed many parallels between the stories of the ancient Sumerians and those recorded later in the early parts of the Hebrew Bible. [ citation needed ]

Written cuneiform Edit

Sumerian myths were passed down through the oral tradition until the invention of writing (the earliest myth discovered so far, the Epic of Gilgamesh, is Sumerian and is written on a series of fractured clay tablets). Early Sumerian cuneiform was used primarily as a record-keeping tool it was not until the late early dynastic period that religious writings first became prevalent as temple praise hymns [5] and as a form of "incantation" called the nam-šub (prefix + "to cast"). [6] These tablets were also made of stone clay or stone, and they used a small pick to make the symbols.

Architecture Edit

In the Sumerian city-states, temple complexes originally were small, elevated one-room structures. In the early dynastic period, temples developed raised terraces and multiple rooms. Toward the end of the Sumerian civilization, ziggurats became the preferred temple structure for Mesopotamian religious centers. [9] Temples served as cultural, religious, and political headquarters until approximately 2500 BC, with the rise of military kings known as Lu-gals (“man” + “big”) [6] after which time the political and military leadership was often housed in separate "palace" complexes.

Priesthood Edit

Until the advent of the Lugal ("King"), Sumerian city-states were under a virtually theocratic government controlled by various En or Ensí, who served as the high priests of the cults of the city gods. (Their female equivalents were known as Nin.) Priests were responsible for continuing the cultural and religious traditions of their city-state, and were viewed as mediators between humans and the cosmic and terrestrial forces. The priesthood resided full-time in temple complexes, and administered matters of state including the large irrigation processes necessary for the civilization's survival.

Ceremony Edit

During the Third Dynasty of Ur, the Sumerian city-state of Lagash was said to have had sixty-two "lamentation priests" who were accompanied by 180 vocalists and instrumentalists.

The Sumerians envisioned the universe as a closed dome surrounded by a primordial saltwater sea. [10] Underneath the terrestrial earth, which formed the base of the dome, existed an underworld and a freshwater ocean called the Abzu. The deity of the dome-shaped firmament was named An that of the earth was named Ki. First the underground world was believed to be an extension of the goddess Ki, but later developed into the concept of Kur. The primordial saltwater sea was named Nammu, who became known as Tiamat during and after the Sumerian Renaissance.

Creation story Edit

The main source of information about the Sumerian creation myth is the prologue to the epic poem Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld, [12] : 30–33 which briefly describes the process of creation: originally, there was only Nammu, the primeval sea. [12] : 37–40 Then, Nammu gave birth to An, the sky, and Ki, the earth. [12] : 37–40 An and Ki mated with each other, causing Ki to give birth to Enlil, the god of wind, rain, and storm. [12] : 37–40 Enlil separated An from Ki and carried off the earth as his domain, while An carried off the sky. [12] : 37–41

Heaven Edit

The ancient Mesopotamians regarded the sky as a series of domes (usually three, but sometimes seven) covering the flat earth. [13] : 180 Each dome was made of a different kind of precious stone. [13] : 203 The lowest dome of heaven was made of jasper and was the home of the stars. [14] The middle dome of heaven was made of saggilmut stone and was the abode of the Igigi. [14] The highest and outermost dome of heaven was made of luludānītu stone and was personified as An, the god of the sky. [15] [14] The celestial bodies were equated with specific deities as well. [13] : 203 The planet Venus was believed to be Inanna, the goddess of love, sex, and war. [16] : 108–109 [13] : 203 The sun was her brother Utu, the god of justice, [13] : 203 and the moon was their father Nanna. [13] : 203 Ordinary mortals could not go to heaven because it was the abode of the gods alone. [17] Instead, after a person died, his or her soul went to Kur (later known as Irkalla), a dark shadowy underworld, located deep below the surface of the earth. [17] [18]

Afterlife Edit

The Sumerian afterlife was a dark, dreary cavern located deep below the ground, [18] [19] where inhabitants were believed to continue "a shadowy version of life on earth". [18] This bleak domain was known as Kur, [16] : 114 and was believed to be ruled by the goddess Ereshkigal. [18] [13] : 184 All souls went to the same afterlife, [18] and a person's actions during life had no effect on how the person would be treated in the world to come. [18]

The souls in Kur were believed to eat nothing but dry dust [16] : 58 and family members of the deceased would ritually pour libations into the dead person's grave through a clay pipe, thereby allowing the dead to drink. [16] : 58 Nonetheless, there are assumptions according to which treasures in wealthy graves had been intended as offerings for Utu and the Anunnaki, so that the deceased would receive special favors in the underworld. [19] During the Third Dynasty of Ur, it was believed that a person's treatment in the afterlife depended on how he or she was buried [16] : 58 those that had been given sumptuous burials would be treated well, [16] : 58 but those who had been given poor burials would fare poorly, and were believed to haunt the living. [16] : 58

The entrance to Kur was believed to be located in the Zagros mountains in the far east. [16] : 114 It had seven gates, through which a soul needed to pass. [18] The god Neti was the gatekeeper. [13] : 184 [16] : 86 Ereshkigal's sukkal, or messenger, was the god Namtar. [16] : 134 [13] : 184 Galla were a class of demons that were believed to reside in the underworld [16] : 85 their primary purpose appears to have been to drag unfortunate mortals back to Kur. [16] : 85 They are frequently referenced in magical texts, [16] : 85–86 and some texts describe them as being seven in number. [16] : 85–86 Several extant poems describe the galla dragging the god Dumuzid into the underworld. [16] : 86 The later Mesopotamians knew this underworld by its East Semitic name: Irkalla. During the Akkadian Period, Ereshkigal's role as the ruler of the underworld was assigned to Nergal, the god of death. [18] [13] : 184 The Akkadians attempted to harmonize this dual rulership of the underworld by making Nergal Ereshkigal's husband. [18]

Development Edit

It is generally agreed that Sumerian civilization began at some point between c. 4500 and 4000 BC, but the earliest historical records only date to around 2900 BC. [20] The Sumerians originally practiced a polytheistic religion, with anthropomorphic deities representing cosmic and terrestrial forces in their world. [13] : 178–179 The earliest Sumerian literature of the third millennium BC identifies four primary deities: An, Enlil, Ninhursag, and Enki. These early deities were believed to occasionally behave mischievously towards each other, but were generally viewed as being involved in co-operative creative ordering. [21]

During the middle of the third millennium BC, Sumerian society became more urbanized. [13] : 178–179 As a result of this, Sumerian deities began to lose their original associations with nature and became the patrons of various cities. [13] : 179 Each Sumerian city-state had its own specific patron deity, [13] : 179 who was believed to protect the city and defend its interests. [13] : 179 Lists of large numbers of Sumerian deities have been found. Their order of importance and the relationships between the deities has been examined during the study of cuneiform tablets. [22]

During the late 2000s BC, the Sumerians were conquered by the Akkadians. [13] : 179 The Akkadians syncretized their own gods with the Sumerian ones, [13] : 179 causing Sumerian religion to take on a Semitic coloration. [13] : 179 Male deities became dominant [13] : 179 and the gods completely lost their original associations with natural phenomena. [13] : 179–180 People began to view the gods as living in a feudal society with class structure. [13] : 179–181 Powerful deities such as Enki and Inanna became seen as receiving their power from the chief god Enlil. [13] : 179–180

Major deities Edit

The majority of Sumerian deities belonged to a classification called the Anunna (“[offspring] of An”), whereas seven deities, including Enlil and Inanna, belonged to a group of “underworld judges" known as the Anunnaki (“[offspring] of An” + Ki). During the Third Dynasty of Ur, the Sumerian pantheon was said to include sixty times sixty (3600) deities. [13] : 182

Enlil was the god of air, wind, and storm. [23] : 108 He was also the chief god of the Sumerian pantheon [23] : 108 [24] : 115–121 and the patron deity of the city of Nippur. [25] : 58 [26] : 231–234 His primary consort was Ninlil, the goddess of the south wind, [27] : 106 who was one of the matron deities of Nippur and was believed to reside in the same temple as Enlil. [28] Ninurta was the son of Enlil and Ninlil. He was worshipped as the god of war, agriculture, and one of the Sumerian wind gods. He was the patron deity of Girsu and one of the patron deities of Lagash.

Enki was god of freshwater, male fertility, and knowledge. [16] : 75 His most important cult center was the E-abzu temple in the city of Eridu. [16] : 75 He was the patron and creator of humanity [16] : 75 and the sponsor of human culture. [16] : 75 His primary consort was Ninhursag, the Sumerian goddess of the earth. [16] : 140 Ninhursag was worshipped in the cities of Kesh and Adab. [16] : 140

Inanna was the Sumerian goddess of love, sexuality, prostitution, and war. [16] : 109 She was the divine personification of the planet Venus, the morning and evening star. [16] : 108–109 Her main cult center was the Eanna temple in Uruk, which had been originally dedicated to An. [30] Deified kings may have re-enacted the marriage of Inanna and Dumuzid with priestesses. [16] : 151, 157–158 Accounts of her parentage vary [16] : 108 in most myths, she is usually presented as the daughter of Nanna and Ningal, [29] : ix-xi, xvi but, in other stories, she is the daughter of Enki or An along with an unknown mother. [16] : 108 The Sumerians had more myths about her than any other deity. [29] : xiii, xv [12] : 101 Many of the myths involving her revolve around her attempts to usurp control of the other deities' domains. [31]

Utu was god of the sun, whose primary center of worship was the E-babbar temple in Sippar. [32] Utu was principally regarded as a dispenser of justice [13] : 184 he was believed to protect the righteous and punish the wicked. [13] : 184 Nanna was god of the moon and of wisdom. He was the father of Utu and one of the patron deities of Ur. [33] He may have also been the father of Inanna and Ereshkigal. Ningal was the wife of Nanna, [34] as well as the mother of Utu, Inanna, and Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal was the goddess of the Sumerian Underworld, which was known as Kur. [13] : 184 She was Inanna's older sister. [35] In later myth, her husband was the god Nergal. [13] : 184 The gatekeeper of the underworld was the god Neti. [13] : 184

Nammu was a goddess representing the primeval waters (Engur), who gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first deities while she is rarely attested as an object of cult, she likely played a central role in the early cosmogony of Eridu, and in later periods continued to appear in texts related to exorcisms. [36] An was the ancient Sumerian god of the heavens. He was the ancestor of all the other major deities [37] and the original patron deity of Uruk.

Most major gods had a so-called sukkal, a minor deity serving as their vizier, messenger or doorkeeper. [38]

Akkadians Edit

The Sumerians had an ongoing linguistic and cultural exchange with the Semitic Akkadian peoples in northern Mesopotamia for generations prior to the usurpation of their territories by Sargon of Akkad in 2340 BC. Sumerian mythology and religious practices were rapidly integrated into Akkadian culture, [39] presumably blending with the original Akkadian belief systems that have been mostly lost to history. Sumerian deities developed Akkadian counterparts. Some remained virtually the same until later Babylonian and Assyrian rule. The Sumerian god An, for example, developed the Akkadian counterpart Anu the Sumerian god Enki became Ea. The gods Ninurta and Enlil kept their original Sumerian names. [ citation needed ]

Babylonians Edit

The Amorite Babylonians gained dominance over southern Mesopotamia by the mid-17th century BC. During the Old Babylonian Period, the Sumerian and Akkadian languages were retained for religious purposes the majority of Sumerian mythological literature known to historians today comes from the Old Babylonian Period, [5] either in the form of transcribed Sumerian texts (most notably the Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh) or in the form of Sumerian and Akkadian influences within Babylonian mythological literature (most notably the Enûma Eliš). The Sumerian-Akkadian pantheon was altered, most notably with the introduction of a new supreme deity, Marduk. The Sumerian goddess Inanna also developed the counterpart Ishtar during the Old Babylonian Period.

Hurrians Edit

The Hurrians adopted the Akkadian god Anu into their pantheon sometime no later than 1200 BC. Other Sumerian and Akkadian deities adapted into the Hurrian pantheon include Ayas, the Hurrian counterpart to Ea Shaushka, the Hurrian counterpart to Ishtar and the goddess Ninlil, [40] whose mythos had been drastically expanded by the Babylonians. [ citation needed ]

Parallels Edit

Some stories recorded in the older parts of the Hebrew Bible bear strong similarities to the stories in Sumerian mythology. For example, the biblical account of Noah and the Great Flood bears a striking resemblance to the Sumerian deluge myth, recorded in a Sumerian tablet discovered at Nippur. [41] : 97–101 The Judaic underworld Sheol is very similar in description with the Sumerian Kur, ruled by the goddess Ereshkigal, as well as the Babylonian underworld Irkalla. Sumerian scholar Samuel Noah Kramer has also noted similarities between many Sumerian and Akkadian "proverbs" and the later Hebrew proverbs, many of which are featured in the Book of Proverbs. [42] : 133–135


Did you know.

  • . that, when Ghenadie Petrescu(pictured) was ousted from his post of Metropolitan-Primate, Romania experienced protests and riots?
  • . that the British destroyerHMS Highlander escorted Convoy SC 122 through the largest convoy battle of World War II in March 1943 and was unsuccessfully attacked by U-441 and U-608?
  • . that in 1911, John Gaunt's second biplane nearly crashed because a bystander bent the aircraft's elevator before a flight?
  • . that Themistokli Gërmenji, an Albanian nationalist, received the French Croix de Guerre in November 1917 , but was executed shortly thereafter by a French military court?
  • . that fish-knives inscribed with Elokeshi's name were sold after her husband decapitated her with a fish-knife following her adulterous affair with a Hindu head-priest?
  • . that the ancient Roman dancer Galeria Copiola reached the age of 104?
  • . that to escape burning at the 1393 Bal des ArdentsCharles VI of France huddled under the gown of the Duchesse de Berry, while a lord leaped into a wine vat?
  • . that a junior officer on the USS Ancon refused King George VI entry to the ship's intelligence centre because no one told him the King "was a Bigot"?

Abraxas is described as a fat-bellied character with the head of a lion or a cock, sometimes crowned, with a dragon's tail, and serpents instead of legs. He also carries a whip in his hand.

Antiquity

Ancient mythologists placed Abraxas among the Egyptian gods. Abraxas was also the Persian sun god, and in Syria he was a form of Iao (aspect or name for Yahveh, Yahweh, or Jehovah). It is said that the name was created to replace the unmentionable name of the Supreme Being.

Gnose

Abraxas is known from the Gnostic writings of Simon Magus, father of the Gnostics and Basilides of Egypt, an early 2nd-century Gnostic teacher. The Gnostics, a sect of the 2nd century, claimed Abraxas as their supreme god, and said that Jesus Christ was only a phantom sent to earth by him. They believed that his name contained great mysteries, as it was composed of the seven Greek letters that formed the number 365, which is also number of days in a year. Abraxas, they thought, had under his command 365 gods, to whom they attributed 365 virtues, one for each day. Afterwards broke out the heretic Basilides. He affirms that there is a supreme Deity, by name Abraxas, by whom was created Mind, which in Greek he calls Nous that thence sprang the Word that of Him issued Providence, Virtue, and Wisdom that out of these subsequently were made Principalities, powers, and Angels that there ensued infinite issues and processions of angels that by these angels 365 heavens were formed, and the world, in honour of Abraxas, whose name, if computed, has in itself this number. Now, among the last of the angels, those who made this world, he places the God of the Jews latest, that is, the God of the Law and of the Prophets, whom he denies to be a God, but affirms to be an angel. To him, he says, was allotted the seed of Abraham, and accordingly he it was who transferred the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt into the land of Canaan affirming him to be turbulent above the other angels, and accordingly given to the frequent arousing of seditions and wars, yes, and the shedding of human blood. Christ, moreover, he affirms to have been sent, not by this maker of the world, but by the above-named Abraxas and to have come in a phantasm, and been destitute of the substance of flesh: that it was not He who suffered among the Jews, but that Simon was crucified in His stead: whence, again, there must be no believing on him who was crucified, lest one confess to having believed on Simon. Martyrdoms, he says, are not to be endured. The resurrection of the flesh he strenuously impugns, affirming that salvation has not been promised to bodies.(Tertullian: Appendix)

Abrasax represented the 365 Aeons or emanations from the First Cause, and as a Pantheus, i.e. All-God, he appears on the amulets with the head of a cock (Phoebus) or of a lion (Ra or Mithras), the body of a man, and his legs are serpents which terminate in scorpions, types of the Agathodaimon. In his right hand he grasps a club, or a flail, and in his left is a round or oval shield.(E. A. Wallis Budge's Amulets and Talismans)

Engraving from an Abraxas stone.

Occultism

Other occultists, mainly demonologists, thought of Abraxas as a demon, with similar appearance to the Gnostic god of the same name. It was very common for the gods and goddesses of pagan religions and heretic cults to be lessen to the status of demons by Christian writers. In fact, deities of heretic religions were the main source for Christian demons. A god in certain Asian theogonies. From his name is derived the magical word Abracadabra. He is represented on amulets as having the head of a cock, the feet of a dragon, and a whip in his hand. Demonologists have made him a demon with the head of a king and with serpents for his legs. The Egyptian Basilides, second-century heretics, looked upon him as their supreme god. Finding that the seven Greek letters contained in his name amounted to 365, the number of days in the year, they placed at his command several spirits who presided over the 365 heavens and to whom they attributed 365 virtues, one for each day. The Basilides also said that Jesus Christ, Our Savior, was but a benevolent spirit sent to earth by Abrasax. They deviated from the doctrine of their leader."(Collin de Plancy, 'Dictionnaire Infernal', 1863)

Carl Jung described a three stage development in the human perception of God. The first stage was that God appears undifferentiated. The second stage is the perception of a benevolent Lord and an evil Devil in which each are separated to the point where the Devil is finally banished. The final stage is the integration of the Lord and the Devil. In his The Seven Sermons to the Dead he says: Abraxas is the god whom it is difficult to know. His power is the very greatest, because man does not perceive it. Man sees the summum bonuum (supreme good) of the sun, and also the infinum malum (endless evil) of the devil, but Abraxas he does not see, for he is indefinable life itself, which is the mother of good and evil alike.[Abraxas] is truly the terrible one. the sun and also the eternally gaping abyss of emptiness. magnificent even as the lion at the very moment when he strikes his prey down. His beauty is like the beauty of a spring morn. He is the monster of the underworld. He is the bright light of day and the deepest night of madness. He is the mightiest manifest being, and in him creation becomes frightened of itself. "Carl Jung, quoted in Stuart Holroyd's The Elements of Gnosticism) [Abraxas] is. a thousand-armed ployp, coiled knot of winged serpents. the hermaphrodite of the earliest beginning. the lord of toads and frogs, which live in the water. abundance that seeketh union with emptiness."Carl Jung, quoted in The Gnostic Jung, Ed. Robert Segal)


Unveiling the Apocalypse

With the Iraqi army currently undertaking an operation to take back the city of Mosul from ISIS, it is somewhat timely to discuss the importance of the Sign of Jonah in relation to Christ's discourse on the binding of Satan in the Gospels. The city of Mosul is situated on the site of ancient Nineveh - the location which is the central focus of the story of the Prophet Jonah, who was told by God to travel to the capital of Assyria to announce its impending destruction. As I detail in the new edition of my book, Unveiling the Apocalypse: The Final Passover of the Church , some theologians have forwarded the hypothesis that the reason the inhabitants of Nineveh were so receptive to Jonah's message of doom was because a solar eclipse had taken place over the city at around the same time the prophet had arrived to announce its fate.

The path of totality of the Bur-Sagale Eclipse , which is one of the most famous solar eclipses in ancient history, occurred just north of Nineveh on 15th June, 763BC during the reign of King Ashur-Dan III of Assyria, and was recorded for posterity in the Assyrian Eponym Canon - a series of cuneiform tablets discovered in the 19th century.

We know that the Prophet Jonah was a contemporary of King Ashur-Dan III because of a brief mention of him in the Second Book of Kings, which places his prophetic ministry during the reign of King Jeroboam II of Israel:

In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, began to reign in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. He restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher.
(2Kings 14:23-25)

According to the chronology established by E.R. Thiele, Jeroboam II was sole ruler of Israel between the years 782-753BC, placing Jonah's active ministry to this time period while Ashur-Dan III was king of Assyria between 772-755BC. Given the fact that this solar eclipse was one of the most noteworthy events to have occurred during the reign of Ashur-Dan III, it has prompted many theologians to suggest that the occurrence of the Bur-Sagale eclipse was the primary reason why the Ninevites were so keen to repent upon hearing Jonah's message of doom - a curious reaction which is left unexplained in the Book of Jonah itself. The Assyrian chronicles inform us that a plague had broken out in the city of Nineveh just a few years before the eclipse in 765BC, which was soon followed by an internal revolt which began during the very same year that the eclipse occurred - a series of events which would undoubtedly have been attributed to the wrath of the gods.

It therefore seems quite possible that when the Prophet Jonah had arrived in the midst of these calamities announcing the imminent destruction of Nineveh, the inhabitants were only too eager to listen - especially if his entrance into the city had been timed to coincide with the appearance of a total solar eclipse. As I attempt to show in the book, the appearance of the Prophet Jonah in Nineveh may have been recorded in an ancient inscription found in a cave in Kizkapan (or "Qyzqapan") near the city of Sulaimaniya in Iraq, around 200 miles away from Mosul/Nineveh itself.

The engraving in Kizkapan cave shows two figures laying down their weapons making gestures of peace, which takes place underneath the figure of a man depicted within the symbol of the sun undergoing an eclipse. The Russian archaeologist Igor Diakonov has proposed that this inscription records the total eclipse predicted by Thales of Miletus in 585BC, which according to Herodotus, had interrupted a battle between the Medes and Lydians at the Halys River in Asia Minor, which immediately led to the declaration of a truce between the warring factions. As such, Diakonov has suggested that Kizkapan Cave is actually the tomb of the Median emperor Cyaxares, who ruled during the Battle of Halys. However, Diakonov bases this idea largely upon the fact that the Eclipse of Thales is one of the only known instances of a solar eclipse eliciting such a dramatic reaction from its observers. But when we take the events behind the story of Jonah into consideration, we are presented with an alternative explanation for the origin of this relief, since it largely comprised of a similar set of circumstances. And when we study this inscription in closer detail, we can see that it is clearly based on a much older design that had originally incorporated imagery connected to the Mesopotamian mythological figure Oannes, who has been closely associated with the Prophet Jonah himself.

Once we compare the centre-piece of Kizkapan Cave with a well known scene of even greater antiquity found in Mesopotamian culture, we can be certain that the primary inspiration of this engraving is based upon the legendary figure of Oannes/Adapa. Although it has a unique style of its own, introducing a few idiosyncratic motifs that can only be found here, the inscription at Kizkapan Cave is virtually identical to a much older scene found elsewhere in Mesopotamian culture which predominately features the figure of Oannes/Adapa.

As we can see from the pictures above, the posture of the two figures above is exactly the same as that found on the older relief depicting Oannes/Adapa, and is similarly situated directly below a figure within a sun-disc. The only major differences are that the figures shown at Kizkapan are not attired with the fish-garb usually associated with Oannes and the seven Apkallu, or Mesopotamian sages, and instead of holding a basket, they are apparently in the act of placing down their bows with their attention diverted to paying homage to the gods instead. Also the sun-disc at Kizkapan is quite clearly shown to be in eclipse, with the corona visible underneath the figure holding a scroll-like object.

There has been a long-standing association between the Prophet Jonah and the mythological figure of Oannes, not only because the two names are so similar from an etymological point of view, but chiefly because this deity was depicted as a man adorning fish-like garments, almost as if he is emerging out the fish itself. The Babylonian historian Berossus describes Oannes as a half man, half fish creature below:

According to Mesopotamian mythology, Adapa/Oannes was a mortal man and a son of the god Ea, and was instrumental in bringing the arts of civilisation to humanity. In a further parallel to the story of Jonah and the fish, we are told that while Adapa was out fishing one day, his boat was overturned by Ninlil, the personification of the South Wind. Indeed, the similarities between the story of Jonah and the figure of Oannes run so deep, that many commentators have erroneously proposed that these legends were originally inspired by the events surrounding the Prophet Jonah himself. This misconception is recounted in the Wikipedia article concerning Jonah:


Biblical scholars have speculated that Jonah may have been in part the inspiration behind the figure of Hannes in late Babylonian mythology. The deity name "Oannes" first occurs in texts from the Library of Ashurbanipal (more than a century after the time of Jonah) as Uanna or Uan but is assimilated to Adapa, a deity first mentioned on fragments of tablets from the 15th or 14th century BC found in Amarna in Egypt. Oannes is described as dwelling in the Persian Gulf, and rising out of the waters in the daytime and furnishing humanity instruction in writing, the arts and the various sciences. Berossus describes Oannes as having the body of a fish but underneath the figure of a man—a detail that, some biblical scholars suggest, is not derived from Adapa but is perhaps based on a misinterpretation of images of Jonah emerging from the fish. (See here )


However the various myths concerning the figure of Adapa predate the ministry of Jonah by several centuries, and can be traced as far back as the 14th century BC. Although the connection between the events behind the story of Jonah and the figure of Oannes would not have went unnoticed by the Assyrians themselves, and it is quite probable that the ancient Ninevites would have associated the appearance of the prophet emerging from the fish with the myth of Adapa. It is even possible that the later name "Oannes" used for Adapa is itself derived from Jonah, because of this close association.

Given the fact that the engraving found in Kizkapan Cave is based upon earlier imagery associated with Adapa/Oannes, it makes it more likely that this relief depicts events which took place during the Bur-Sagale Eclipse of 763BC, rather than the Eclipse of Thales. As such, the two figures laying down weapons may represent a cessation in hostilities during the revolts that were unfolding in Nineveh, which were recorded as taking place around this time by the Assyrian Eponym Canon. Actions which were prompted by the appearance of the eclipse itself, and a prophet who emerged out of a fish to announce the destruction of Nineveh.

Given the possibility that the repentance of the Ninevites at the preaching of Jonah can be attributed to the Bur-Sagale Eclipse, we have some grounds to suggest that the original "sign of Jonah" consisted of the appearance of a total solar eclipse over the site of ancient Nineveh. When we look to Christ's statement concerning the appearance of the "sign of Jonah" to a wicked and perverse generation, we find that these words were made immediately after His discourse on the binding of the strong man - which according to St. Augustine of Hippo, is an integral component of the prophecy of the unbinding of Satan at the end of the "thousand years" mentioned in Rev 20:

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself says, No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods , except he first bind the strong man — meaning by the strong man the devil, because he had power to take captive the human race and meaning by his goods which he was to take, those who had been held by the devil in various sins and iniquities , but were to become believers in Himself. It was then for the binding of this strong one that the apostle saw in the Apocalypse an angel coming down from heaven , having the key of the abyss , and a chain in his hand. And he laid hold, he says, on the dragon, that old serpent, which is called the devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, — that is, bridled and restrained his power so that he could not seduce and gain possession of those who were to be freed. (St. Augustine of Hippo, City of God XX:7)

So in relation to the sacrificial death of Jesus and His resurrection on the third day, the "sign of Jonah" harks back to the three days the prophet spent in the belly of the fish. An event which foreshadowed the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Christ - which in turn brought about the binding of Satan.

But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
(Matt 12:39-41)

Therefore as well as pointing us towards the significance of a total solar eclipse over the site of ancient Nineveh, the "sign of Jonah" is also intimately connected to the binding and unbinding of Satan.

It is surely beyond coincidence in this regard that the start of the First World War was marked by a total solar eclipse which directly traversed the site of ancient Nineveh in Mosul, Iraq on 21st August, 1914. The World War I Eclipse crossed over the battlefields of war-torn eastern Europe before making its way down towards Nineveh - an event which took place on the feast day of Our Lady of Knock, a Marian apparition which appears to have announced the imminence of the opening of the seven seals by the Lamb of Revelation.

Moreover, the path of totality of the solar eclipse of August 11th, 1999 had similarly crossed the site of ancient Nineveh at the turn of the millennium. A solar eclipse which I argue in some depth was part of a sequence of events linked to the "signs in Heaven" foretold throughout Sacred Scripture, which mark the moment when Satan is thrown down to earth in great fury by the Archangel Michael, after which he sends out a flood which threatens to sweep away the Church. The fact that the "sign of Jonah" appeared at the dawn of the third millennium after the birth of Christ parallels the three days the prophet spent in the belly of the fish, and the three days of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, since according to the words of St. Peter:

. do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
(2 Peter 3:8-9)

In order to further heighten the significance of this event, the 1999 solar eclipse had occurred on the exact day that a rare "Grand Cross Alignment" took place, when the planets of the solar system were arranged to take the form a cross - the ultimate sign of the defeat of Satan.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
(Psalm 19:1)

This ties into the recent observation made by researcher Miguel Antonio Fiol, that the planets had arranged to take the form of a crucifixion scene on the most likely date of the death of Jesus - 3rd April, 33AD.

A few days after the total solar eclipse passed through central Turkey on 11th August, 1999, a massive earthquake struck the city of Izmit in this region on 17th August, 1999, killing more than 17,000 people. The location of Izmit itself is highly significant in the fact that this is the site of ancient Nicomedia - the location where the Roman Emperor Diocletian issued his first Edict against Christians on February 23rd AD303, beginning the Great Persecution. The emperor Diocletian had shifted his seat of governance from Rome to Nicomedia, which he made eastern capital of the Roman Empire in 286AD. So Nicomedia was in essence the very nerve centre of the most severe persecution of Christians in antiquity. The Diocletianic Persecution saw the most intense attack against Christians established throughout the majority of the Roman Empire, and in many ways reflects the coming Great Persecution of Christians under the Antichrist, which was foreseen in the Third Secret of Fatima. Immediately before the appearance of the signs in Heaven at the opening of the sixth seal, the Apocalypse presents us with a vision of those who were martyred for their testimony to Christ calling out for justice:

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.
(Rev 6:9-13)

The fact that the epicentre of this earthquake was concentrated upon the very base of operations of the Great Persecution helps us to further establish that the 1999 solar eclipse was part of the signs in Heaven described in the Apocalypse. It is interesting to note that there was a repeat of a the "Grand Cross Alignment" that occurred on 11th August, 1999 just a few days later between 17th-18th August, when the planets once again assembled in the form of a cross in a slightly different form at the very moment this earthquake occurred within the confines of ancient Nicomedia.

Yet again, it is surely beyond coincidence that the "sign of Jonah" (in the form of a total solar eclipse occurring over the site of Nineveh) had appeared not only at the very dawn of period of Satan's greater power foreseen by Pope Leo XIII, at the beginning of the First World War, but also just before the Great Jubilee Year of the Incarnation at the start of the third millennium AD. A date which is closely associated with the promises of the Protoevangelium, when the head of the ancient serpent is trampled under the feet of the Woman Clothed with the Sun.

I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. (Joel 2:30-32)

On November 20, 2016, an astronomical event begins that will last nine and a half months, culminating in startling concurrence with the vision of Revelation 12. While I am not an astronomer, all my research indicates that this astronomical event, in all its particulars, is unique in the history of man.

On November 20, 2016, Jupiter (the King planet) enters into the body (womb) of the constellation Virgo (the virgin). Jupiter, due its retrograde motion, will spend the next 9 ½ months within the womb of Virgo. This length of time corresponds with gestation period of a normal late-term baby.

After 9 ½ months, Jupiter exits out of the womb of Virgo. Upon Jupiter’s exit (birth), on September 23, 2017, we see the constellation Virgo with the sun rise directly behind it (the woman clothed with the sun). At the feet of Virgo, we find the moon. And upon her head we find a crown of twelve stars, formed by the usual nine stars of the constellation Leo with the addition of the planets Mercury, Venus, and Mars.

That is a truly remarkable and, as far as I can determine, unique series of event with a startling degree of concurrence with the vision of Revelation 12. (Read the full article here )

Just before the conclusion of this astronomical event on 23rd Sept, 2017, another remarkable total solar eclipse will take place. And just like the solar eclipse which occurred at the start of World War One (at the beginning of the period of the unbinding of Satan), this event will also transpire on Aug 21st, 2017 - the Feast of Our Lady of Knock. While it is difficult to know for sure if this event has any real prophetic significance, the fact that it will take place at the end of the period of Satan's greater power foretold in the prophecy of Pope Leo XIII, and that it so close to the Rev 12 sign that occurs on 23rd Sept, 2017, prompts us to ponder whether this solar eclipse is part of the "sign of Jonah" sequence that began on Aug 21st, 1914. Only instead of appearing over the location of ancient Nineveh, this solar eclipse is concentrated entirely upon America, and the path of totality can only be seen across the central United States.

Furthermore, the fact that this eclipse takes place during the Feast of Our Lady of Knock may further suggest that the events of 2017 have something to do with the opening of the seven seals by the Lamb of Revelation. As I attempt to show in the book, the events which take place during the opening of the first six seals of the Apocalypse have already taken place, and these events are one and the same as that which unfolds during the unbinding of Satan at the end of the "thousand years". It is only the opening of the seventh seal that is yet to occur. Is it possible that the opening of the seventh seal will only take place at the end of the period of Satan's greater power? When we look to the Book of Revelation, we find that there some interesting parallels between the opening of the seventh seal and the vison of the angel in the Third Secret of Fatima, who threatens to strike the earth with his flaming sword:

When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
(Rev 8:1-5)

The angel with the golden censer here is the same as the angel who "has authority over the fire" who calls for the harvest of the earth in Rev 14:

Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
(Rev 14:17-19)

Could this portend the threat of some sort of chastisement that America will have to suffer next year, unless it is brought to repentance? It is difficult to know for sure, since without any "revealed" knowledge this purely involves speculation. But the coincidences surrounding the sign of Jonah and the significance of the year 2017 are certainly stacking up, especially since the site of ancient Nineveh in Mosul is faced with such dire circumstances in the immediate approach of the ominous date of Nov 20th, 2016. This seems to be yet another facet to a puzzle which is gradually falling into place in the run-up to the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

It is interesting to note that the significance of the planetary alignment that will occur on 23rd Sept next year involves a particular portion of Rev 12 that specifically relates to the birth of the "male child":

And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days. (Rev 12:1-6)

While the preterist interpretation of the "male child" is undoubtedly Jesus Himself, some modern commentators, such as Fr. Herman Kramer, have suggested that the futurist interpretation of the figure behind the "male child" may involve a pope as the Vicar of Christ on earth - possibly the Angelic Pope of Catholic prophecy. An alternative explanation is that it refers to the coming of the Great Monarch, who as a Davidic type figure is similarly foretold to "rule all the nations with a rod of iron". The Devil seeks to destroy the male child as soon as he is "born", which may be a metaphor for when he first assumes power. We should note that this event only takes place once the Devil has been cast down to the earth with a third of the angelic host, since the Dragon sweeping down a third of the stars and casting them to earth in Rev 12:4 above is recapitulated again in Rev 12:9, when we are told that Satan is thrown down alongside his angels by the Archangel Michael:

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Rev 12:7-9)

After Satan and a third of the angelic host has been cast to earth, he attempts to devour the male child as soon as he is born, just as King Herod sought to destroy Christ during the massacre of the Holy Innocents. Again, this passage is recapitulated in Rev 12:12-16, when we are told that once Satan realises he has been cast down to earth, he attempts to destroy the Church with a flood before it can be renewed by the Two Witnesses, who are symbolised by the "two wings of the great eagle":

Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. (Rev 12:12-16)

So the birth of the male child and the Woman being given the "two wings of the great eagle" in order to flee to a sanctuary provided for her in the desert are synchronous events, both involving the restoration of the Church before the final persecution of the Antichrist.

Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea. (Rev 12:17)

Given the fact that the astronomical sign of 23rd Sept, 2017 reflects the birth of the "male child" of Rev 12, we can conclude that the potential significance of this event relates to the restoration of the Church by the Two Witnesses, which can only take place once the powers of Satan are yet again restricted following his period of unbinding. As St. Augustine of Hippo states:

And yet the verse of the Gospel will not be untrue , Who enters into the house of the strong one to spoil his goods , unless he shall first have bound the strong one? For in accordance with this true saying that order is observed— the strong one first bound, and then his goods spoiled for the Church is so increased by the weak and strong from all nations far and near, that by its most robust faith in things divinely predicted and accomplished, it shall be able to spoil the goods of even the unbound devil. For as we must own that, when iniquity abounds, the love of many waxes cold, Matthew 24:12 and that those who have not been written in the book of life shall in large numbers yield to the severe and unprecedented persecutions and stratagems of the devil now loosed, so we cannot but think that not only those whom that time shall find sound in the faith, but also some who till then shall be without, shall become firm in the faith they have hitherto rejected and mighty to conquer the devil even though unbound, God's grace aiding them to understand the Scriptures, in which, among other things, there is foretold that very end which they themselves see to be arriving. And if this shall be so, his binding is to be spoken of as preceding, that there might follow a spoiling of him both bound and loosed for it is of this it is said, Who shall enter into the house of the strong one to spoil his goods , unless he shall first have bound the strong one?'
(St. Augustine of Hippo, City of God XX:8)

If the solar eclipse which takes place over America next year is indeed part of a wider sequence of events which pertains to the sign of Jonah, the binding of Satan and the opening of the seven seals, we can only hope that this will see the end of the period of Satan's greater power, and that any threat of chastisement that may loom with the ominous date of 13th Oct, 2017 can be averted through public repentance, so that the hand of the angel with the flaming sword may be stayed through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin:

After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: 'Penance, Penance, Penance!'. (The Third Secret of Fatima)


Contents

The name Asmodai is believed to derive from Avestan language *aēšma-daēva, where aēšma means "wrath", and daēva signifies "demon". While the daēva Aēšma is thus Zoroastrianism's demon of wrath and is also well attested as such, the compound aēšma-daēva is not attested in scripture. It is nonetheless likely that such a form did exist, and that the Book of Tobit's "Asmodaios" (Ἀσμοδαῖος) and the Talmud's "Ashmedai" (אשמדאי) reflect it.

Other spelling variations include Asmodaeus (Latin), Asmodaios-Ασμοδαίος (Greek), Ashmadia, Asmoday, Asmodée (French), Asmodee, Asmodei, Ashmodei, Ashmodai, Asmodeios, Asmodeo (Spanish and Italian), Asmodeu (Portuguese), Asmodeius, Asmodi, Chammaday, Chashmodai, Sidonay, Sydonai, Asimodai (Romanian), Asmodeusz (Polish), Asmodevs (Armenian). The playwright William Shakespeare abbreviated his name to Modo.


Sources

Jeremy A. Black and Anthony Green, Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992).

Anthony Green, “Ancient Mesopotamian Religious Iconography,” in Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, 4 volumes, edited by Jack M. Sasson (New York: Scribners, 1995), III: 1837-1855.

Ursula Seidl, Die babylonischen Kudurru-Reliefs: Symbole mesopotamischer Gottheiten (Freiburg: Freiburg University Press / Göttingen: Vanden-hoeck & Ruprecht, 1989).

E. Douglas Van Buren, Symbols of the Gods in Mesopotamian Art (Rome: Pontificum Institutum Biblicum, 1945).


Mahishi- his wife

In Kerala there is a story about his wife Mahishi. After the death of mahishasura, Mahishi-the asura princess took the throne and continued the war against gods. she was with the head of female buffalo. Ayyappan while his journey to forest for tigermilk killed this mahishi. So ayyappa is termed as mahishimardaka

During several future battles, Durga appears in her incarnation of Kali particularly while fighting Raktabija (Rambha reborn), who has the magic boon that every drop of blood shed from his body give rise to another Raktabija (literally the blood borne). Here, Kali rolls out her giant tongue and drinks up all the blood before it falls to the earth.

The event is celebrated in various versions as Durga Puja in Bihar, Bengal and Odisha, Assam and as Dussehra and navaratri in other parts of India, celebrating this victory of good over evil.

This story is found in the Devi Mahatmya (Glory of the Goddess) text within the Markandeya Purana.


Watch the video: Man Punched in the Face while Praying the Rosary (August 2022).