Gilgamesh, I will disclose unto you
A hidden thing.
Yes, a secret of the gods will I tell unto you:
There is a plant,
Its thorn is like the buckthorn,
Its thorns will prick your hands
As does the rose
If that plant shall come to your hands
You will find new life'.
No sooner had Gilgamesh heard this
Than he opened the water-pipe He tied heavy stones on his feet in the manner of the pearl divers
They pulled him down into the deep
There he saw the plant.
He took the plant, though it pricked his hands.
He cut the heavy stones from his feet
The sea cast him up upon its shore
Gilgamesh says to him
Says to Urshanabi the Boatman:
'Urshanabi, this is the plant that is different from all others.
By its means a man can lay hold of the breath of life.
I shall take it to Uruk of the ramparts.
I shall cause....
To eat the plant....
It shall be called Man Becomes Young in Old Age.
I myself shall eat it,
that I may return to the state of my youth.'
There I myself shall eat the plant that I may return to the state of my youth.'
After 20 intervals they broke off a morsel.
After 30 more rested for the night.
Gilgamesh saw a well whose water was cool
He descended into it to bathe in the water
A serpent smelled the fragrance of the plant
It darted up from the well and seized the plant:
Sloughing its skin in rejuvenation as it returned
On the right-hand side, the Bull of Heaven appears with a series of three stars placed above it, this being a variant form of the Mul-sign that signifies a ‘star, planet or constellation’. The group of signs on the left-hand side can be read as ‘the goddess Inanna of sunrise and sunset’. Inanna herself is represented by her sacred reed column that stands in front of the bull, and her status as a deity is marked by the eight-pointed star. The signs used to represent ‘sunrise’ and ‘sunset’ are an upright and inverted image of the sun rising between a pair of mountains. As an attribute of Inanna, they identify her with the planet Venus, which is only seen as the Morning and Evening star.
So this seal not only furnishes us with the earliest evidence of a constellation in Mesopotamia but also represents the first definitive association of a planetary deity with a constellation.
The bull’s shifting position among the stars may well inform a distinct art motif found on number of late 3rd millennium seals. It is generally called the ‘bull and winged gate’ by modern scholars, if indeed, a gate is actually depicted. The motif is of unknown significance, but the common appearance of a star above the bull’s head certainly suggests that an astral theme is alluded to.
The format of the images varies somewhat – the bull can crouch before the figure of a god or goddess, who sometimes holds a tether fastened to the bull’s nose-ring, while in other images an attendant may hold the tether, which is either attached to the winged gate or held by the deity.
Given that the symbol of the tethering rope or celestial bond is often applied to the solstices and equinoxes we might have in these images a visual record of Taurus’ shift away from the spring equinox.
The final group of springtime constellations have a strong calendrical significance, as they seem to be purposefully located at the juncture of the old and new years. At this time of natural abundance, the earth was thought to ‘open up’ in order to yield her bounty, but to the archaic mind this opening up was accompanied by a host of dangers, chief of which was the potential pollution from the dead who could gain easy access to the upper worlds at this pivotal time. In light of this belief, I would suggest that the Old Man, with his wand and prophylactic head, is banishing the ghosts of the old year and driving them back to the underworld.
A similar set of ideas probably informs the lion-headed demons known as Lulal and Latarak. Like many ferocious ‘demonic’ beings, their influence could be utilised to exorcise any type of evil or malignant force. In the main body of the book I suggest that they act as guardians of the year – banishing any lingering influence of the
closing year and purifying the start of the new calendrical cycle
Originally posted by Thunderheart
The sumerians were not very good drawers
the anticenter is directly opposite Sagittarius in the direction of Auriga the Charioteer and very near the star El Nath that defines the tip of Taurus the Bull’s northern horn. Direct your gaze toward the bull’s horns and you’ll quickly find yourself in the Milky Way’s countryside. The bright lights and busy intersections of the galactic metropolis are now far behind you. Not much going on here. True, you’re looking through 25,000 light years of galaxy, but things thin out as you approach the edge and you soon find yourself teetering on the starless emptiness of intergalactic space.
While the hazy band of the Milky Way is still visible through Auriga and Taurus, it’s thin and anemic compared to summer’s billowy star clouds. Imagine your viewpoint from a planet orbiting a star at the anticenter. During the part of the year when you’d face back toward the galaxy’s center, the sky would be filled with stars, but for the remainder of the year you’d face a nearly starless sky as you looked across the enormous chasm of space separating the Milky Way from the galaxies beyond. You might even feel a touch of vertigo as you stood there at the edge of the abyss.
Sumer, great Kur, made of what is above and below, robed in enduring light, settling the me upon the people from sunrise to sunset, your me are lofty me, untouchable, your heart is a maze, inscrutable, your life-giving womb, the place where the gods give birth: like heaven it cannot be touched. It gives birth to kings who fasten the lasting diadem. It gives birth to the high priests who put crown to head
A shrine erected: a holy shrine it is, its interior is like a maze; a shrine whose interior is a twisted thread,
a thing unknown to man, a shrine whose lower station is the roving iku-constellation, a holy shrine whose upper station moves toward the chariot-constellation,
In lists the oldest, those of Ur III or at the end of the third millennium BC, we find a star named mul.giš.GIGIR, whose Akkadian equivalent is Narkabtu, "Chariot," which will star identified β Tau.
* In the Journals of the first millennium, this figure corresponds to a carriage comes with two stars say
"Normal", that is to say as landmarks on the path of the sun, namely, in order: ON GIGIR SA If either
"Chariot of the Boreal", for β Tau, and GIGIR Sá Ulu, "the Southern of the Chariot" for γ Tau.
This suggests, at a time when the constellations were already formed, that the Taurus would make a
Carriage which was led by a figure which will, among the Greeks, 'Hνίοχος, "the Charioteer"
In Greek mythology, Auriga is often identified as the mythological Greek hero Erichthonius of Athens, the chthonic son of Hephaestus who was raised by the goddess Athena
According to the Bibliotheca, Athena visited the smith-god Hephaestus to request some weapons, but Hephaestus was so overcome by desire that he tried to seduce her in his workshop. Determined to maintain her virginity, Athena fled, pursued by Hephaestus. Despite Hephaestus' lameness, he caught Athena and tried to rape her, but she fought him off. During the struggle, his semen fell on her thigh, and Athena, in disgust, wiped it away with a scrap of wool (ἔριον, erion) and flung it to the earth (χθών, chthôn). As she fled, Erichthonius was born from the semen that fell to the earth. Athena, wishing to raise the child in secret, placed him in a small box.
Athena gave the box to the three daughters of Cecrops, the king of Athens (Herse, Pandrosus and Aglaurus), and warned them never to open it. Overcome with curiosity, Aglaurus and Herse opened the box, which contained the infant and future-king, Erichthonius ("troubles born from the earth"). (Sources are unclear whether only one sister or all three participated.) The sisters were terrified by what they saw in the box: either a snake coiled around an infant, or an infant that was half-man and half-serpent. They went insane and threw themselves off the Acropolis
Erichthonius is also known as Erechtheus. A legendary king of Athens, he was the son of Gaea and Hephaestus. Born with the lower half of a snake like all the "aborigines" (first inhabitants of the world), he was given into the care of Minerva. Minerva (goddess of wisdom) and Vulcan (blacksmith of the gods, here symbolized by tongs) are Roman names, their Greek equivalents being, respectively, Athena and Hephaestus. Triton was a sea deity and the son of Poseidon, supreme god of the oceans.
Shining through all this mystery is a "sun child," neither more nor less sunlike than Apollo himself on Delos. The Athenians decorated and handled their newly born children in accordance with this example. When they gave the infants a serpentine golden necklace and placed them in round baskets, as Euripides tells of Ion (the son of Apollo and Creusa, daughter of Erechtheus), the practice represented a repetition of what happened to the divine child on the Acropolis. That child was guarded by serpents, but it was also represented as having the form of a serpent or serpentine feet. The color of gold, suited to a sun child, also has a mythological meaning, which comes to light in various remarks that have come down to us. Aglaurus loves gold, and Hermes can bribe her with gold to let him in to see Herse. The serpent of the Acropolis, too, is supposed to have been especially fond of gold, and for this reason the Athenians wore their characteristic golden hair ornaments. But the golden ornamentation became sacred only after the servants of the Goddess, the Arrephoroi, put them on. It was these same Arrephoroi, who, imitating the daughters of Cecrops but less curious than they, carried the basket with the unknown contents out of the fortress into a sanctuary on the north slope of the Acropolis. Supposedly neither they nor the priestess herself to whom they turned over the basket knew what it contained or what they brought back as they returned to that other sanctuary on the Acropolis. But the rite becomes intelligible through the story which the Arrephoroi were told to keep them from opening the basket..
At first glance, and second, that could easily be seen as an Egyptian representation of the Akhet symbol, the sun between the two mountains of the horizons, and with good reason, for it is a Proto-Elamite version of the same. One takes the same key iconography then and considers it in a slightly more complex context; There again one finds the 'two mountains' representation, albeit without solar disc, set beneath an arc/handle which will be seen to be correspondant to the arc that the sun traverses across the sky, with interwoven serpents either side, which will be seen to correspond to means of passage. To confirm this is correct interpretation, one considers an example were the two mountains of the horizon are represented in more naturalistic form beneath the arc/handle, in conjunction with the 'Bull of Heaven' dominating both horizons, this astrological symetery being common as seen in subsequent examples.