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A (Anu, Taurus, Æsir), O (Omega, Odal rune) T (Dinger, Dyeus, Tyr)

An – Eclipse

Enlil / Enki – North / South

Nergal (Mars) – Ninurta (Saturn) – Nanna (Moon) – Inanna (Venus)

Bull of Heaven – Taurus

In artistic representations, Ninurta is shown as a warrior, carrying a bow and arrow and clutching Sharur, his magic talking mace. He sometimes has a set of wings, raised upright, ready to attack. In Babylonian art, he is often shown standing on the back of or riding a beast with the body of a lion and the tail of a scorpion.

Ninurta remained closely associated with agricultural symbolism as late as the middle of the second millennium BC. On kudurrus from the Kassite Period (c. 1600 — c. 1155 BC), a plough is captioned as a symbol of Ninĝirsu. The plough also appears in Neo-Assyrian art, possibly as a symbol of Ninurta.

A perched bird is also used as a symbol of Ninurta during the Neo-Assyrian Period. One speculative hypothesis holds that the winged disc originally symbolized Ninurta during the ninth century BC, but was later transferred to Aššur and the sun-god Shamash. This idea is based on some early representations in which the god on the winged disc appears to have the tail of a bird. Most scholars have rejected this suggestion as unfounded.

Astronomers of the eighth and seventh centuries BC identified Ninurta (or Pabilsaĝ) with the constellation Sagittarius. Alternatively, others identified him with the star Sirius, which was known in Akkadian as šukūdu, meaning “arrow”. The constellation of Canis Major, of which Sirius is the most visible star, was known as qaštu, meaning “bow”, after the bow and arrow Ninurta was believed to carry. In Babylonian times, Ninurta was associated with the planet Saturn.

Alpha (Α or α) and omega (Ω or ω) are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and a title of Christ and God in the Book of Revelation. This pair of letters are used as Christian symbols, and are often combined with the Cross, Chi-rho, or other Christian symbols. The term Alpha and Omega comes from the phrase “I am Alpha and Omega”, an appellation of Jesus in the Book of Revelation (verses 1:8, 21:6, and 22:13).

Taw, tav, or taf is the twenty-second and last letter of the Semitic abjads, the Western Semitic and Hebrew alphabets. The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek tau (Τ), Latin T, and Cyrillic Т. T is the 20th letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. “From aleph to taf” describes something from beginning to end, the Hebrew equivalent of the English “From A to Z.”

A

A (plural As, A’s, as, a’s or aes) is the first letter and the first vowel of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. It is similar to the Ancient Greek letter alpha, from which it derives.

The Etruscans brought the Greek alphabet to their civilization in the Italian Peninsula and left the letter unchanged. The Romans later adopted the Etruscan alphabet to write the Latin language, and the resulting letter was preserved in the Latin alphabet that would come to be used to write many languages, including English.

The earliest certain ancestor of “A” is aleph (also written ‘aleph), the first letter of the Phoenician alphabet, which consisted entirely of consonants (for that reason, it is also called an abjad to distinguish it from a true alphabet).

In turn, the ancestor of aleph may have been a pictogram of an ox head in proto-Sinaitic script influenced by Egyptian hieroglyphs, styled as a triangular head with two horns extended.

Anu

Anu or An is the divine personification of the sky, supreme God, and ancestor of all the deities in ancient Mesopotamian religion. Anu was believed to be the supreme source of all authority, for the other gods and for all mortal rulers, and he is described in one text as the one “who contains the entire universe”.

Anu or An is the divine personification of the sky, supreme God, and ancestor of all the deities in ancient Mesopotamian religion. Anu was believed to be the supreme source of all authority, for the other gods and for all mortal rulers, and he is described in one text as the one “who contains the entire universe”.

He is identified with the north ecliptic pole centered in the constellation Draco and, along with his sons Enlil and Enki, constitutes the highest divine triad personifying the three bands of constellations of the vault of the sky.

By the time of the earliest written records, Anu was rarely worshipped, and veneration was instead devoted to his son Enlil, but, throughout Mesopotamian history, the highest deity in the pantheon was always said to possess the anûtu, meaning “Heavenly power”.

Anu’s primary role in myths is as the ancestor of the Anunnaki, the major deities of Sumerian religion. His primary cult center was the Eanna temple in the city of Uruk, but, by the Akkadian Period (c. 2334 – 2154 BC), his authority in Uruk had largely been ceded to the goddess Inanna, the Queen of Heaven.

Taurus / Alu

Taurus (Latin for “the Bull”) is one of the constellations of the zodiac, which means it is crossed by the plane of the ecliptic. Taurus is a large and prominent constellation in the northern hemisphere’s winter sky. Its importance to the agricultural calendar influenced various bull figures in the mythologies of Ancient Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

It is one of the oldest constellations, dating back to at least the Early Bronze Age when it marked the location of the Sun during the spring equinox. To the early Hebrews, Taurus was the first constellation in their zodiac and consequently it was represented by the first letter in their alphabet, Aleph.

Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries. The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC.

In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU4.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”. As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”. The Akkadian name was Alu.

Alalu

Alalu is god in Hurrian mythology. He is considered to have housed the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth. The name “Alalu” was borrowed from Semitic mythology and is a compound word made up of the Semitic definite article al and the Semitic deity Alû.

Alalu was a primeval deity of the Hurrian mythology. After nine years of reign, Alalu was defeated by Anu. Alaluʻs son Kumarbi also defeated Anu, biting and swallowing his genitals, hence becoming pregnant of three gods, among which Teshub who eventually defeated him. Scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus.

Ansuz

Ansuz is the conventional name given to the a-rune of the Elder Futhark, ᚨ. The name is based on Proto-Germanic *ansuz, denoting a deity belonging to the principal pantheon in Germanic paganism. The shape of the rune is likely from Neo-Etruscan A, like Latin A ultimately from Phoenician aleph.

In the Norwegian rune poem, óss is given a meaning of “estuary” while in the Anglo-Saxon one, ōs ᚩ takes the Latin meaning of “mouth”. The Younger Futhark rune is transliterated as ą to distinguish it from the new ár rune (ᛅ), which continues the jēran rune after loss of prevocalic *j- in Proto-Norse *jár (Old Saxon jār).

Since the name of Gothic A is attested in the Gothic alphabet as ahsa or aza, the common Germanic name of the rune may thus either have been *ansuz “god”, or *ahsam “ear (of wheat)”. The Anglo-Saxon futhorc split the Elder Futhark a rune into three independent runes due to the development of the vowel system in Anglo-Frisian. These three runes are ōs ᚩ (transliterated o), ac “oak” ᚪ (transliterated a), and æsc ᚫ “ash” (transliterated æ).

The Younger Futhark corresponding to the Elder Futhark ansuz rune is ᚬ, called óss. It is transliterated as ą. This represented the phoneme /ɑ̃/, and sometimes /æ/ (also written ᛅ) and /o/ (also written ᚢ). The variant grapheme ᚯ became independent as representing the phoneme /ø/ during the 11th to 14th centuries.

Jera (also Jeran, Jeraz) is the conventional name of the j-rune ᛃ of the Elder Futhark, from a reconstructed Common Germanic stem *jēra- meaning “harvest, (good) year”. The corresponding letter of the Gothic alphabet is Gothic 𐌾, named jēr, also expressing /j/. The Elder Futhark rune gives rise to the Anglo-Frisian runes ᛄ /j/, named gēr /jeːr/, and ᛡ /io/, named ior, and to the Younger Futhark ár rune ᛅ, which stood for /a/ as the /j/ phoneme had disappeared in Old Norse.

It also can be a variation of dotted Isaz, the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the i-rune ᛁ, meaning “ice”, used for /e/; e.g. in Dalecarlian runes, or dalrunes, a late version of the runic script that was in use in the Swedish province of Dalarna until the 20th century. The province has consequently been called the “last stronghold of the Germanic script”.

The reconstructed Common Germanic name *jēran is the origin of English year (Old English ġēar). In contrast to the modern word, it had a meaning of “season” and specifically “harvest”, and hence “plenty, prosperity”.

The Germanic word is cognate with Greek horos “year” (and hora “season”, whence hour, Slavonic jarŭ “spring” and with the -or- in Latin hornus “of this year” (from *ho-jōrinus), as well as Avestan yāre “year”, all from a PIE stem *yer-o-.

The derivation of the rune is uncertain; some scholars see it as a modification of Latin G (“C (ᚲ) with stroke”) while others consider it a Germanic innovation. The letter in any case appears from the very earliest runic inscriptions, figuring on the Vimose comb inscription, harja.

As the only rune of the Elder Futhark which was not connected, its evolution was the most thorough transformation of all runes, and it was to have numerous graphical variants. In the later period of the Elder Futhark, during the 5th to 6th centuries, connected variants appear, and these are the ones that give rise to the derivations in Anglo-Saxon (as ᛄ ger and ᛡ ior) and Scandinavian (as ᛅ ár) traditions.

The corresponding Gothic letter is 𐌾 j, named jer, which is also based on the shape of the Elder Futhark rune. This is an exception, shared with urus, due to the fact that neither the Latin nor the Greek alphabets at the time of the introduction of the Gothic one had graphemes corresponding to the distinction of j and w from i and u.

The rune in the futhorc is continued as gēr, with its epigraphical variant ᛡ, and its manuscript variant ᛄ (which does appear once epigraphically, on the Brandon Pin). Manuscripts also record an ior rune with the shape of ᛡ, but its authenticity is questionable.

During the 7th and 8th centuries, the initial j in *jara was lost in Old Norse, which also changed the sound value of the rune from /j/ to an /a/ phoneme. The rune was then written as a vertical staff with a horizontal stroke in the centre, and scholars transliterate this form of the rune as A, with majuscule, to distinguish it from the ansuz rune, a.

During the last phase of the Elder Futhark, the jēra-rune came to be written as a vertical staff with two slanting strokes in the form of an X in its centre (H-rune.png). As the form of the rune had changed considerably, an older 7th century form of the rune (Long-branch Sol.png) was assumed by the s-rune.

When the n-rune had stabilized in its form during the 6th and 7th centuries, its vertical stroke slanted towards the right, which made it possible to simplify the jēra-rune by having only one vertical stroke that slanted towards the left, giving the ᛅ ár-rune of the Younger Futhark. Since a simpler form of the rune was available for the /a/ phoneme, the older cross form of the rune now came to be used for the /h/ phoneme.

The development of the Jēran rune from the earliest open form was not known before the discovery of the Kylver Stone in 1903, which has an entire elder futhark inscription on it. Therefore, the interpretation of the golden horns of Gallehus was slightly wrong before 1903, as it was believed this rune form could be an early form of the Ingwaz rune. The second word on the horns was thus interpreted as holtingaz rather than holtijaz.

*Naudiz (Cognates: German, Not (necessity, need); English, need) is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the n-rune ᚾ, meaning “need, distress”. In the Anglo-Saxon futhorc, it is continued as ᚾ nyd, in the Younger Futhark as ᚾ, Icelandic naud and Old Norse nauðr. The corresponding Gothic letter is 𐌽 n, named nauþs.

Alu

The sequence alu (ᚨᛚᚢ) is found in numerous Elder Futhark runic inscriptions of Germanic Iron Age Scandinavia (and more rarely in early Anglo-Saxon England) between the 3rd and the 8th century. The word usually appears either alone (such as on the Elgesem runestone) or as part of an apparent formula (such as on the Lindholm “amulet” (DR 261) from Scania, Sweden).

The symbols represent the runes Ansuz, Laguz, and Uruz. The origin and meaning of the word are matters of dispute, though a general agreement exists among scholars that the word represents an instance of historical runic magic or is a metaphor (or metonym) for it. It is the most common of the early runic charm words.

The word disappears from runic inscriptions shortly after Migration Period, even before the Christianization of Scandinavia. It may have lived on beyond this period with an increasing association with ale, appearing in stanzas 7 and 19 of the Old Norse poem Sigrdrífumál, compiled in the 13th century Poetic Edda, where knowledge of invocative “ale runes” (Old Norse ölrúnar) is imparted by the Valkyrie Sigrdrífa.

Although the literal meaning of the word alu is generally accepted to be “ale,” i.e. “intoxicating beverage,” researchers have found it necessary to look deeper into the significance of the term. Earlier proposed etymologies for the word sought a connection with Proto-Germanic *aluh “amulet, taboo” from *alh “protect.” Cognates in Germanic dialects would include Old English ealh “temple,” Gothic alhs “temple,” and Old Norse alh “amulet.”

Edgar Polomé initially proposed an etymological connection between Germanic alu and Hittite alwanza “affected by witchcraft,” which is in turn connected to Greek alúõ “to be beside oneself” and Latvian aluôt “to be distraught.” This etymology was later proven faulty and subsequently dropped by Polomé, though he continues to suggest that a common semantic denominator connects these words with alu.

Linguistic connections have been proposed between the term and the Proto-Germanic term *aluþ, meaning “ale,” and subsequently the word is sometimes translated as meaning “ale,” though this linguistic approach has been criticized as having “crucial difficulties.”

Polomé takes the word to belong to the “technical operative vocabulary” of the Germanic peoples, originally referring to “an ecstatic mental state as transferred to a potent drink” used in religious rituals in Germanic paganism.

Raetian North Etruscan dedicatory votive objects have been discovered featuring alu where the term means “dedication”. Connections have been proposed between these objects and the term alu found on runic inscriptions. Theories have been proposed that the term was loaned into Runic usage from this source.

The reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the Elder Futhark u rune ᚢ is *Ūruz meaning “wild ox” or *Ūrą “water”. It may have been derived from the Raetic alphabet character u as it is similar in both shape and sound value. The name of the corresponding letter in the Gothic alphabet is urus.

The Icelandic word for “rain” and the Old English for “aurochs” go back to two different Proto-Germanic words, *ūruz and *ūrą (although possibly from the same root. The Norwegian meaning “dross, slag” is more obscure, but may be an Iron Age technical term derived from the word for water (cf. the Kalevala, where iron is compared to milk).

Because of this, it is difficult to reconstruct a Proto-Germanic name for the Elder Futhark rune. It may have been *ūruz “aurochs”, or *ūrą “water”. The aurochs is preferred by authors of modern runic divination systems, but both seem possible, compared to the names of the other runes: “water” would be comparable to “hail” and “lake”, and “aurochs” to “horse” or “elk” (although the latter name is itself uncertain). The Gothic alphabet seems to support “aurochs”, though: as the name of the letter 𐌿 u is urus.

*Laguz or *Laukaz is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the l-rune ᛚ, *laguz meaning “water” or “lake” and *laukaz meaning “leek”. The rune Laguz (“lake”) is identical in shape to the letter l in the Raetic alphabet.

In the Anglo-Saxon rune poem, it is called lagu “ocean”. In the Younger Futhark, the rune is called lögr “waterfall” in Icelandic and logr “water” in Norse. The corresponding Gothic letter is 𐌻 l, named lagus.

Rhaetian

Rhaetian or Rhaetic was a language spoken in the ancient region of Rhaetia in the Eastern Alps in pre-Roman and Roman times. It is documented by a limited number of short inscriptions (found through Northern Italy, Southern Germany, Eastern Switzerland, Slovenia and Western Austria) in two variants of the Etruscan alphabet.

The ancient Rhaetic language is not the same as one of the modern Romance languages of the same Alpine region, known as Rhaeto-Romance, but both are sometimes referred to as “Rhaetian”. German linguist Helmut Rix proposed that Rhaetic, along with Etruscan, was a member of a proposed Tyrrhenian language family possibly influenced by neighboring Indo-European languages. Robert Beekes also does not consider it Indo-European.

Scullard, on the contrary, suggests it to be an Indo-European language, with links to Illyrian and Celtic. Nevertheless, most scholars now think that it is probably a Tyrrhenian language, and thus most closely related to languages such as Etruscan. Tyrsenian family, or Common Tyrrhenic, in this case is often considered to be Paleo-European and to predate the arrival of Indo-European languages in southern Europe.

Common features between Etruscan, Rhaetian, Lemnian have been found in morphology, phonology, and syntax. On the other hand, lexical correspondences are rarely documented, due to the scanty number of Rhaetian and Lemnian texts, and, above all, due to the very ancient date at which these languages split, because the split must have taken place before the Bronze Age, much earlier than was suggested by Rix.

It is clear that in the centuries leading up to Roman imperial times, the Rhaetians had at least come under Etruscan influence, as the Rhaetic inscriptions are written in what appears to be a northern variant of the Etruscan alphabet. The ancient Roman sources mention the Rhaetic people as being reputedly of Etruscan origin, so there may at least have been some ethnic Etruscans who had settled in the region by that time.

Æsir

In Old Norse, ǫ́ss (or áss, ás, plural æsir; feminine ásynja, plural ásynjur) is a member of the principal pantheon in Norse religion. This pantheon includes Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Týr. The second pantheon is known as the Vanir. In Norse mythology, the two pantheons wage war against each other, which results in a unified pantheon.

The cognate term in Old English is ōs (plural ēse) denoting a deity in Anglo-Saxon paganism. The Old High German is ans, plural ensî. The reconstructed Proto-Germanic form is *ansuz (plural *ansiwiz). The ansuz rune, ᚫ, was named after the Æsir.

The Gothic language had ans- (based only on Jordanes who glossed anses with uncertain meaning, possibly ‘demi-god’ and presumably a Latinized form of actual plural *anseis). Unlike the Old English word god (and Old Norse goð), the term ōs (áss) was never adopted into Christian use.

Æsir is the plural of áss, óss “god” (genitive case āsir), which is attested in other Germanic languages, e.g., Old English ōs (gen. pl. ēsa), Old Dutch ans and Gothic (as reported by Jordanes, who wrote in the 6th century CE) anses “half-gods”.

These all stem from Proto-Germanic *ansuz, which itself comes from Proto-Indo-European *h₂énsus (gen. h₂n̥sóus) “life force” (cf. Avestan aŋhū “lord; lifetime”, ahura “godhood”, Sanskrit ásu “life force”, ásura “demons” ( *h₂n̥suró). It is widely accepted that this word is further related to *h₂ens- “to engender” (cf. Hittite hass- “to procreate, give birth”, Tocharian B ās- “to produce”).

Old Norse áss has the genitive áss or ásar, the accusative æsi and ásu. In genitival compounds, it takes the form ása-, e.g. in Ása-Þórr (“Thor of the Æsir”), besides ás- found in ás-brú “gods’ bridge” (the rainbow), ás-garðr, ás-kunnigr “gods’ kin”, ás-liðar “gods’ leader”, ás-mogin “gods’ might” (especially of Thor), ás-móðr “divine wrath” etc. Landâs “national god” (patrium numen) is a title of Thor, as is allmáttki ás “almighty god”, while it is Odin who is “the” ás.

The feminine suffix -ynja is known from a few other nouns denoting female animals, such as apynja “female monkey”, vargynja “she-wolf”. The word for “goddess” is not attested outside Old Norse. The latinization of Danish Aslak as Ansleicus, the name of a Danish Viking converted to Christianity in 864 according to the Miracles de St. Riquier, indicates that the nasalization in the first syllable persisted into the 9th century.

The cognate Old English form to áss is ōs, preserved only as a prefix Ōs- in personal names (e.g. Oscar, Osborne, Oswald) and some place-names, and as the genitive plural ēsa (ēsa gescot and ylfa gescot, “the shots of anses and of elves”, i.e. “elfshot”, jaculum divorum et geniorum).

O

O (named o /oʊ/, plural oes) is the 15th letter and the fourth vowel in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Its graphic form has remained fairly constant from Phoenician times until today.

The name of the Phoenician letter was ʿeyn, meaning “eye”, and indeed its shape originates simply as a drawing of a human eye (possibly inspired by the corresponding Egyptian hieroglyph, cf. Proto-Sinaitic script). Its original sound value was that of a consonant, probably [ʕ], the sound represented by the cognate Arabic letter ع ʿayn.

The use of this Phoenician letter for a vowel sound is due to the early Greek alphabets, which adopted the letter as O “omicron” to represent the vowel /o/. The letter was adopted with this value in the Old Italic alphabets, including the early Latin alphabet.

In Greek, a variation of the form later came to distinguish this long sound (Omega, meaning “large O”) from the short o (Omicron, meaning “small o”). Greek omicron gave rise to the corresponding Cyrillic letter O and the early Italic letter to runic ᛟ.

Eye of god

Helios is the god and personification of the Sun in Greek mythology. He is the son of the Titan Hyperion (“The High-One”), one of the twelve Titan children of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Sky) who, led by Cronus, overthrew their father Uranus and were themselves later overthrown by the Olympians, and the Titaness Theia (according to Hesiod), and brother of the goddesses Selene, the moon, and Eos, the dawn.

Helios was described as a handsome young man crowned with the shining aureole of the Sun, who drove the chariot of the sun across the sky each day to earth-circling Oceanus and through the world-ocean returned to the East at night.

In the Homeric Hymn to Helios, Helios is said to drive a golden chariot drawn by steeds; and Pindar speaks of Helios’s “fire-darting steeds”. Still later, the horses were given fire related names: Pyrois, Aeos, Aethon, and Phlegon. The equivalent of Helios in Roman mythology was Sol.

Helios is also sometimes conflated in classical literature with another Olympian god, Zeus. Helios is referred either directly as Zeus’ eye, or clearly implied to be. For instance, Hesiod effectively describes Zeus’s eye as the sun.

This perception is possibly derived from earlier Proto-Indo-European religion, in which the sun is believed to have been envisioned as the eye of Dyēus or Dyēus Phter believed to have been the chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. In Romanian paganism the Sun is similarly called “God’s eye”.

The Eye of Ra or Eye of Re is a being in ancient Egyptian mythology that functions as a feminine counterpart to the sun god Ra and a violent force that subdues his enemies. Ra’s enemies are the forces of chaos, which threaten maat, the cosmic order that he creates.

The Eye is an extension of Ra’s power, equated with the disk of the sun, but it also behaves as an independent entity, which can be personified by a wide variety of Egyptian goddesses, including Hathor, Sekhmet, Bastet, Wadjet, and Mut.

The Eye goddess acts as mother, sibling, consort, and daughter of the sun god. She is his partner in the creative cycle in which he begets the renewed form of himself that is born at dawn.

The Eye’s violent aspect defends Ra against the agents of disorder that threaten his rule. This dangerous aspect of the Eye goddess is often represented by a lioness or by the uraeus, or cobra, a symbol of protection and royal authority.

The Eye of Ra is similar to the Eye of Horus, also known as wadjet, wedjat or udjat, an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power, and good health which belongs to a different god, Horus, but represents many of the same concepts. The disastrous effects when the Eye goddess rampages out of control and the efforts of the gods to return her to a benign state are a prominent motif in Egyptian mythology.

The Eye of Ra was involved in many areas of ancient Egyptian religion, including in the cults of the many goddesses who are equated with it. Its life-giving power was celebrated in temple rituals, and its dangerous aspect was invoked in the protection of the pharaoh, of sacred places, and of ordinary people and their homes.

At times the Egyptians called the lunar eye the “Eye of Horus”, a concept with its own complex mythology and symbolism, and called the solar eye the “Eye of Ra” – Ra being the preeminent sun god in ancient Egyptian religion. However, in Egyptian belief, many terms and concepts are fluid, so the sun could also be called the “Eye of Horus”.

The yellow or red disk-like sun emblem in Egyptian art represents the Eye of Ra. Because of the great importance of the sun in Egyptian religion, this emblem is among the most common religious symbols in all of Egyptian art.

Although Egyptologists usually call this emblem the “sun disk”, its convex shape in Egyptian relief sculpture suggests that the Egyptians may have envisioned it as a sphere. The emblem often appears atop the heads of solar-associated deities, including Ra himself, to indicate their links with the sun. The disk could even be regarded as Ra’s physical form.

At other times, the sun god, in various forms, is depicted inside the disk shape as if enclosed within it. The Egyptians often described the sun’s movement across the sky as the movement of a barque carrying Ra and his entourage of other gods, and the sun disk can either be equated with this solar barque or depicted containing the barque inside it. The disk is often called Ra’s “daughter” in Egyptian texts.

As the sun, the Eye of Ra is a source of heat and light, and it is associated with fire and flames. It is also equated with the red light that appears before sunrise, and with the morning star that precedes and signals the sun’s arrival.

The eyes of Egyptian deities, although they are aspects of the power of the gods who own them, sometimes take active roles in mythology, possibly because the word for “eye” in Egyptian, jrt, resembles another word meaning “do” or “act”.

The presence of the feminine suffix -t in jrt may explain why these independent eyes were thought of as female. The Eye of Ra, in particular, is deeply involved in the sun god’s creative actions. In Egyptian mythology, the sun’s emergence from the horizon each morning is likened to Ra’s birth, an event that revitalizes him and the order of the cosmos. Ra emerges from the body of a goddess who represents the sky—usually Nut.

Depictions of the rising sun often show Ra as a child contained within the solar disk. In this context, the Egyptologist Lana Troy suggests, the disk may represent the womb from which he is born or the placenta that emerges with him.

The Eye of Ra can also take the form of a goddess, which according to Troy is both the mother who brings Ra forth from her womb and a sister who is born alongside him like a placenta. Ra was sometimes said to enter the body of the sky goddess at sunset, impregnating her and setting the stage for his rebirth at sunrise. Consequently, the Eye, as womb and mother of the child form of Ra, is also the consort of the adult Ra.

The adult Ra, likewise, is the father of the Eye who is born at sunrise. The Eye is thus a feminine counterpart to Ra’s masculine creative power, part of a broader Egyptian tendency to express creation and renewal through the metaphor of sexual reproduction. Ra gives rise to his daughter, the Eye, who in turn gives rise to him, her son, in a cycle of constant regeneration.

Ra is not unique in this relationship with the Eye. Other solar gods may interact in a similar way with the numerous goddesses associated with the Eye. Hathor can even be called “the Eye of Horus”—one of several ways in which the distinctions between the two eyes are blurred.

Hathor, a goddess of the sky, the sun, and fertility, is often called the Eye of Ra, and she also has a relationship with Horus, who also has solar connections, that is similar to the relationship between Ra and his Eye.

The Eye can also act as an extension of and companion to Atum, a creator god closely associated with Ra. Sometimes this eye is called the Eye of Atum, although at other times the Eye of Ra and the Eye of Atum are distinct, with Ra’s Eye the sun and Atum’s Eye the moon.

The tears of the Eye of Ra are part of a more general connection between the Eye and moisture. In addition to representing the morning star, the Eye can also be equated with the star Sothis (Sirius).

Every summer, at the start of the Egyptian year, Sothis’s heliacal rising, in which the star rose above the horizon just before the sun itself, heralded the start of the Nile inundation, which watered and fertilized Egypt’s farmland. Therefore, the Eye of Ra precedes and represents the floodwaters that restore fertility to all of Egypt.

The Eye of Ra also represents the destructive aspect of Ra’s power: the heat of the sun, which in Egypt can be so harsh that the Egyptians sometimes likened it to arrows shot by a god to destroy evildoers.

The uraeus is a logical symbol for this dangerous power. In art, the sun disk image often incorporates one or two uraei coiled around it. The solar uraeus represents the Eye as a dangerous force that encircles the sun god and guards against his enemies, spitting flames like venom.

Omega

Omega (capital: Ω, lowercase: ω; Greek ὦ, later ὦ μέγα, Modern Greek ωμέγα) is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet. The word literally means “great O” (ō mega, mega meaning “great”), as opposed to omicron, which means “little O” (o mikron, micron meaning “little”). As the last letter of the Greek alphabet, Omega is often used to denote the last, the end, or the ultimate limit of a set, in contrast to alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet.

Ninḫursaĝ, also known as Damgalnuna or Ninmah, was the ancient Sumerian mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the “true and great lady of heaven” (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were “nourished by Ninhursag’s milk”.

Sometimes her hair is depicted in an omega shape and at times she wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders. Frequently she carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash. She is the tutelary deity to several Sumerian leaders.

Her symbol, resembling the Greek letter omega Ω, has been depicted in art from approximately 3000 BC, although more generally from the early second millennium BC. The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, who is also at times depicted on a mountain, and may represent a stylized womb. The symbol appears on very early imagery from Ancient Egypt.

Odal rune

The Elder Futhark Odal rune (ᛟ), also known as the Othala rune, represents the o sound. Its reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *ōþalan “heritage; inheritance, inherited estate”. Its etymology is not clear, but it is usually compared to atta “father” (cf. the name Attila, ultimately baby talk for “father”).

The Common Germanic stem ōþala- or ōþila- “inherited estate” is an ablaut variant of the stem aþal-. It consists of a root aþ- and a suffix -ila- or -ala-. The suffix variant accounts for the umlauted form ēþel. Germanic aþal‑ had a meaning of (approximately) “nobility”, and the derivation aþala‑ could express “lineage, (noble) race, descent, kind”, and thus “nobleman, prince” (whence Old English atheling), but also “inheritance, inherited estate, property, possession”.

There is an apparent, but debated, etymological connection of Ol to Adel (Old High German adal or edil), meaning nobility, noble family line, or exclusive group of superior social status; aristocracy, typically associated with major land holdings and fortifications.

The term oþal (Old High German uodal) is a formative element in some Germanic names, notably Ulrich and variants;, the stem aþal is more frequent, found in Gothic names such as Athalaric, Ataulf, etc. and in Old High German names such as Adalbert, and Adel.

Unrelated, but difficult to separate etymologically, is the root aud- “wealth, property, possession, prosperity”; from this root are names such as Edmund and other English names with the ed prefix (from Old English ead), German Otto and various Germanic names beginning with ed- or od-. Possibly related is euþa, euþu a word for “child, offspring” (attested in Old Norse jóð, and possibly in the name of the Iuthungi).

Odal was associated with the concept of inheritance in ancient Scandinavian property law. Some of these laws are still in effect today, and govern Norwegian property. These are the Åsetesrett (homestead right), and the Odelsrett (allodial right). The tradition of Udal law found in Shetland and Orkney in Scotland, and also in Manx law on the Isle of Man, is from the same origin.

D / T

Taw, tav, or taf is the twenty-second and last letter of the Semitic abjads, the Western Semitic and Hebrew alphabets. The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Tαυ (Tau), Old Italic and Latin T, and Cyrillic Т. In Arabic, it is also gives rise to the derived letter ث Ṯāʼ. Its original sound value is /t/.

T is the 20th letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. Latin T has remained fairly constant, representing [t] in each of these; and it has also kept its original basic shape in most of these alphabets.

Taw is believed to be derived from the Egyptian hieroglyph meaning “mark”. Tav is the last letter of the Hebrew word emet, which means ‘truth’. The midrash explains that emet is made up of the first, middle, and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet (aleph, mem, and tav: אמת). Sheqer (falsehood), on the other hand, is made up of the 19th, 20th, and 21st (and penultimate) letters.

Thus, truth is all-encompassing, while falsehood is narrow and deceiving. In Jewish mythology it was the word emet that was carved into the head of the golem which ultimately gave it life. But when the letter aleph was erased from the golem’s forehead, what was left was “met”—dead. And so the golem died.

Ezekiel 9:4 depicts a vision in which the tav plays a Passover role similar to the blood on the lintel and doorposts of a Hebrew home in Egypt. In Ezekiel’s vision, the Lord has his angels separate the demographic wheat from the chaff by going through Jerusalem, the capital city of ancient Israel, and inscribing a mark, a tav, “upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.”

In Ezekiel’s vision, then, the Lord is counting tav-marked Israelites as worthwhile to spare, but counts the people worthy of annihilation who lack the tav and the critical attitude it signifies. In other words, looking askance at a culture marked by dire moral decline is a kind of shibboleth for loyalty and zeal for God.

Dingir

The Sumerian sign DIĜIR originated as a star-shaped ideogram indicating a god in general, or the Sumerian god An, the supreme father of the gods. Dingir also meant sky or heaven in contrast with ki which meant earth. Its emesal pronunciation was dimer.

Dingir is a Sumerian word for “god.” Its cuneiform sign is most commonly employed as the determinative for religious names and related concepts, in which case it is not pronounced and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript “D” as in e.g. DInanna.

The cuneiform sign by itself was originally an ideogram for the Sumerian word an (“sky” or “heaven”); its use was then extended to a logogram for the word diĝir (“god” or goddess) and the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon An, and a phonogram for the syllable /an/.

Akkadian took over all these uses and added to them a logographic reading for the native ilum and from that a syllabic reading of /il/. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again only an.

The concept of “divinity” in Sumerian is closely associated with the heavens, as is evident from the fact that the cuneiform sign doubles as the ideogram for “sky”, and that its original shape is the picture of a star. The original association of “divinity” is thus with “bright” or “shining” hierophanies in the sky.

Taweret

In Ancient Egyptian religion, Taweret (also spelled Taurt, Tuat, Taouris, Tuart, Ta-weret, Tawaret, Twert, Thoeris and Taueret, and in Greek, Θουέρις – Thouéris and Toeris) is the protective ancient Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility. The name “Taweret” (Tȝ-wrt) means “she who is great” or simply “great one”, a common pacificatory address to dangerous deities.

The deity is typically depicted as a bipedal female hippopotamus with feline attributes, pendulous female human breasts, and the back of a Nile crocodile. She commonly bears the epithets “Lady of Heaven”, “Mistress of the Horizon”, “She Who Removes Water”, “Mistress of Pure Water”, and “Lady of the Birth House”.

Taweret was regarded as the divine protector of women and children. Various myths demonstrate her role in facilitating the afterlives of the deceased as the nurturing and purifying “Mistress of Pure Water”.

However, Taweret and her fellow hippopotamus goddesses of fertility should not be confused with Ammit, another composite hippopotamus goddess who gained prominence in the New Kingdom. Ammit was responsible for devouring the unjust before passing into the afterlife. Unlike Ammit, the other hippopotamus goddesses were responsible for nourishment and aid, not destruction.

Taweret is featured in some versions of a popular and widespread myth in which the Eye of Ra becomes angry with her father and retreats to Nubia in the form of a lioness. Upon the Eye of Re’s eventual return to Egypt, she assumes the form of a hippopotamus (presumably Taweret) and consequently brings the flooding of the Nile. This myth demonstrates Taweret’s primary function as a goddess of fertility and rejuvenation.

Some scholars feel that her role in the Nile inundation is one of the reasons she was given the epithet “Mistress of Pure Water”. However, her similar role in the rejuvenation of the dead a