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From Taweret to Tyr

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The Celestial River: Identifying the Ancient Egyptian Constellations

The Dendera

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Study of Pagan Gods and Goddesses: Tawaret

Dingir (usually transliterated DIĜIR) 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. A possible loan relation of Sumerian dingir with Turkic Tengri “sky, sky god” has been suggested.

In ancient Hittite religion, Anu is a former ruler of the gods, who was overthrown by his son Kumarbi, who bit off his father’s genitals and gave birth to the storm god Teshub. Teshub overthrew Kumarbi, avenged Anu’s mutilation, and became the new king of the gods. This story was the later basis for the castration of Ouranos in Hesiod’s Theogony.

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”.

Although Anu was a very important deity, his nature was often ambiguous and ill-defined; he almost never appears in Mesopotamian artwork and has no known anthropomorphic iconography. Anu’s primary role in myths is as the ancestor of the Anunnaki, the major deities of Sumerian religion.

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 “An-power”.

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, who was associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power.

Her husband was the god Dumuzid (later known as Tammuz) and her sukkal, or personal attendant, was the goddess Ninshubur, who much like Iris or Hermes in later Greek mythology served as a messenger to the other gods, and who later became the male deity Papsukkal, the messenger god in the Akkadian pantheon.

Anu’s consort in the earliest Sumerian texts is the goddess Uraš, but she is later the goddess Ki and, in Akkadian texts, the goddess Antu, whose name is a feminine form of Anu. However, Uras may only have been another name for Antum, Anu’s wife. The name Uras even became applied to Anu himself, and acquired the meaning “heaven”. Ninurta also was apparently called Uras in later times.

Anu briefly appears in the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh, in which his daughter Ishtar (the East Semitic equivalent to Inanna) persuades him to give her the Bull of Heaven so that she may send it to attack Gilgamesh after Gilgamesh repudiates her sexual advances.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu slay the Bull together and Enkidu hurls the Bull’s right thigh at Ishtar, taunting her. This act of impiety results in the gods condemning Enkidu to death, an event which catalyzes Gilgamesh’s fear for his own death, which drives the remaining portion of the epic.

The Bull was identified with the constellation Taurus and the myth of its slaying may have held astronomical significance to the ancient Mesopotamians. Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation.

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 GU.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”. In Sumerian religion, Gugalanna is the first husband of Ereshkigal, the queen of the Underworld. His name probably originally meant “canal inspector of An” and he may be merely an alternative name for Ennugi, the attendant and throne-bearer of Enlil.

The son of Ereshkigal and Gugalanna is Ninazu, a god of the underworld, and of healing. Ninazu was the son of Enlil and Ninlil or, in alternative traditions, of Ereshkigal and Gugalana, and was the father of Ningiszida (“lord of the good tree”), who appears in Adapa’s myth as one of the two guardians of Anu’s celestial palace, alongside Dumuzi.

In Inanna’s Descent into the Underworld, Inanna tells the gatekeeper Neti that she is descending to the Underworld to attend the funeral of “Gugalanna, the husband of my elder sister Ereshkigal”. Some scholars consider Gugalanna to be the same figure as the Bull of Heaven, slain by Gilgamesh and Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

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. 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.

To the Egyptians, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull that was associated with the renewal of life in spring. When the spring equinox entered Taurus, the constellation would become covered by the Sun in the western sky as spring began. This “sacrifice” led to the renewal of the land.

Utu, later worshipped by East Semitic peoples as Shamash, is the ancient Mesopotamian god of the sun, justice, morality, and truth, and the twin brother of the goddess Inanna, whose domain encompassed a broad variety of different powers. In Sumerian texts, Inanna and Utu are shown as extremely close; in fact, their relationship frequently borders on incestuous.

Utu was believed to ride through the heavens in his sun chariot and see all things that happened in the day. According to Sumerian mythology, he helped protect Dumuzid when the galla demons tried to drag him to the Underworld and he appeared to the hero Ziusudra after the Great Flood. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, he helps Gilgamesh defeat the ogre Humbaba.

Utu is usually the son of Nanna, the god of the moon, and his wife, Ningal, but is sometimes also described as the son of An or Enlil. He was the enforcer of divine justice and was thought to aid those in distress. His wife was the goddess Sherida. They were believed to have two offspring: the goddess Kittu, whose name means “Truth”, and the god Misharu, whose name means “Justice”.

Sherida was a goddess of beauty, fertility, and sexual love, possibly because light was seen as inherently beautiful, or because of the sun’s role in promoting agricultural fertility. By the time of the Old Babylonian Period (c. 1830 – c. 1531 BC), Sherida, and consequently Utu, was associated with nadītu, an order of cloistered women who devoted their lives to the gods.

Sherida was later known in Akkadian as Aya, the Akkadian word for “dawn”. The Babylonians sometimes referred to her as kallatu (the bride), and as such she was known as the wife of Shamash. By the Neo-Babylonian period at the latest (and possibly much earlier), Shamash and Aya were associated with a practice known as Hasadu, which is loosely translated as a “sacred marriage.”

During the Kassite Period (c. 1600 BC — c. 1155 BC) and Neo-Assyrian Period (911 BC — 609 BC), Anu was represented by a horned cap. The Amorite god Amurru was sometimes equated with Anu. Later, during the Seleucid Empire (213 BC — 63 BC), Anu was identified with Enmešara and Dumuzid.

Amurru and Martu are names given in Akkadian and Sumerian texts to the god of the Amorite/Amurru people, often forming part of personal names. He is sometimes called Ilu Amurru (DMAR.TU). He was the patron god of the Mesopotamian city of Ninab, whose exact location is unknown.

Amurru/Martu was probably a western Semitic god originally. He is sometimes described as a ‘shepherd’ or as a storm god, and as a son of the sky-god Anu. He is sometimes called bêlu šadī or bêl šadê, ‘lord of the mountain’; dúr-hur-sag-gá sikil-a-ke, ‘He who dwells on the pure mountain’; and kur-za-gan ti-[la], ‘who inhabits the shining mountain’.

Hadad, Adad, Haddad (Akkadian) or Iškur (Sumerian) was the storm and rain god in the Northwest Semitic and ancient Mesopotamian religions. Adad and Iškur are usually written with the logogram dIM – the same symbol used for the Hurrian god Teshub. The bull was the symbolic animal of Hadad.

He appeared bearded, often holding a club and thunderbolt while wearing a bull-horned headdress. Hadad was equated with the Greek god Zeus; the Roman god Jupiter, as Jupiter Dolichenus; the Indo-European Nasite Hittite storm-god Teshub; the Egyptian god Amun.

Dumuzid, later known by the alternate form Tammuz, is an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with shepherds, who was also the primary consort of the goddess Inanna (later known as Ishtar). In Sumerian mythology, Dumuzid’s sister was Geshtinanna, the goddess of vegetation.

Enmesarra, or Enmešarra, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld god of the law. Described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore he has been equated with Nergal. On the other hand, he has been described as an ancestor of Enlil, and it has been claimed that Enlil slew him.

Nergal, Nirgal, or Nirgali was a deity worshipped throughout Mesopotamia (Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia) with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. He seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only representative of a certain phase of the sun.

Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle. He has also been called “the king of sunset”.

A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninurta (slayer of Asag and wielder of Sharur, an enchanted mace) and Nergal. In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person.

In the ancient Sumerian poem Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld Ereshkigal is described as Inanna’s older sister. nanna and Ereshkigal represent polar opposites. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven, but Ereshkigal is the queen of Irkalla.

In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars)—hence the current name of the planet.

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. Aplu may be related with Apaliunas who is considered to be the Hittite reflex of *Apeljōn, an early form of the name Apollo.

Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman mythology. The ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of music, truth and prophecy, healing, the sun and light, plague, poetry, and more. Apollo is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu.

Sumerian astrology

Anu 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.

Together these three gods represented the embodiment of all the fixed stars in the night sky. An was identified with all the stars of the equatorial sky, Enlil with those of the northern sky, and Enki with those of the southern sky.

The Sumerians used a number system with a base 60 because 60 was Anu’s number, while Enlil was associated with the number 50, which was considered sacred to him, and Enki was referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40”.

Draco is a constellation in the far northern sky. Its name is Latin for dragon. The north pole of the ecliptic is in Draco. Draco is circumpolar (that is, never setting), and can be seen all year from northern latitudes.

Dragons in Greek mythology that may have inspired the constellation’s name include Ladon, the dragon who guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides. Heracles killed Ladon during his 12 labors; he was tasked with stealing the golden apples. The constellation of Hercules is depicted near Draco.

In Greco- Roman legend, Draco was a dragon killed by the goddess Minerva and tossed into the sky upon his defeat. The dragon was one of the Gigantes, who battled the Olympic gods for ten years. As Minerva threw the dragon, it became twisted on itself and froze at the cold North Celestial Pole before it could right itself.

Zeta Draconis is mentioned in Hindu mythology as Tara who was a celestial goddess married to Lord Brhaspati. A divine epic was played out in the night sky when Lord Chandra, the moon, lusted after and abducted Tara, the blue pole star of Brhaspati, the planet Jupiter. By the completion of the epic Tara gives birth to Lord Budha, or Mercury.

Thuban, also designated Alpha Draconis (α Draconis, abbreviated Alpha Dra, α Dra), is a star (or star system) in the constellation of Draco. It was the northern pole star from 3942 BC, when it moved farther north than Theta Boötis (θ Boo, θ Boötis), a star in the constellation Boötes, until 1793 BC.

Theta Boötis was from about 4300 BC until 3942 BC the closest star to the celestial north pole visible to the naked eye, although it was still too dim to be regarded as a pole star.

The traditional name of Alpha Draconis, Thuban, means “head of the serpent”. The traditional name Thuban is derived from the Arabic word thuʿbān, ‘snake’. It is sometimes known as the Dragon’s Tail and as Adib. Due to the effects of precession, it will again be the pole star around the year AD 21000.

Given good viewing conditions, Thuban is relatively easy to spot in the night sky, due to its location in relation to the Big Dipper (aka the Plough) asterism of Ursa Major. While it is well known that the two outer stars of the ‘dipper’ point to the modern-day pole star Polaris, it is less well known that the two inner stars, Phecda and Megrez, point to Thuban, just 15 degrees of arc from Megrez.

Due to the precession of Earth’s rotational axis, Thuban was the naked-eye star closest to the north pole from 3942 BC, when it superseded Iota Draconis (ι Draconis, abbreviated Iota Dra, ι Dra), also named Edasich, as the Pole Star, until 1793 BC, when it was superseded by Kappa Draconis. It was closest to the pole in 2830 BC, when it was less than ten arc-minutes away from the pole.

It remained within one degree of celestial north for nearly 200 years afterwards, and even 900 years after its closest approach, was just five degrees off the pole. Thuban was considered the pole star until about 1800 BC, when the much brighter Beta Ursae Minoris (β Ursae Minoris, abbreviated Beta UMi, β UMi), also known as Kochab, began to approach the pole as well.

Having gradually drifted away from the pole over the last 4,800 years, Thuban is now seen in the night sky at a declination of 64° 20′ 45.6″, RA 14h 04m 33.58s. After moving nearly 47 degrees off the pole by 10000 AD, Thuban will gradually move back toward the north celestial pole. In 20346 AD, it will again be the pole star, that year reaching a maximum declination of 88° 43′ 17.3″, at right ascension 19h 08m 54.17s.

Due to the effects of precession, Kappa Draconis was the nearest star to the North Celestial Pole visible to the naked eye from 1793 BC to approximately 1000 BC, though it was 6° removed from perfect alignment, making it only an approximate pole star, similar to the roughly 7° variance from perfect alignment of the much brighter star Kochab, at the same time during Earth’s precession.

Kochab is the brightest star in the bowl of the Little Dipper asterism (which is part of the constellation of Ursa Minor), and only slightly fainter than Polaris, the northern pole star and brightest star in Ursa Minor.

From around 2500 BCE, as Thuban became less and less aligned with the celestial north, Kochab became one pillar of the circumpolar stars first with Mizar, a star in the middle of the handle of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major), and later with Pherkad (in Ursa Minor).

In fact, circa the year 2467 BCE, the true north was best observed by drawing a plumb line between Mizar and Kochab, a fact with which the ancient Egyptians were well acquainted as they aligned the great Pyramid of Giza with it.

This cycle of the succession of pole stars occurs due to the precession of the equinoxes. As precession continues, by the year 1100 BCE Kochab is within roughly 7° of the northern celestial pole, with old references over emphasizing this near pass by mentioning Beta Ursae Minoris as “Polaris”, relating it to the current pole star, Polaris, which is slightly brighter and will have a much closer alignment of less than 0.5° by 2100 AD.

This change in the identity of the pole stars is a result of Earth’s precessional motion. After 2000 BCE, Kochab and a new star, its neighbor Pherkad, were closer to the pole and together served as twin pole stars, circling the North Pole, from around 1700 BCE until just after 300 AD. Neither star was as proximitous to the celestial north pole as Polaris is now. Today, they are sometimes referred to as the “Guardians of the Pole.”

Enlil, later known as Elil, is an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with wind, air, earth, and storms. He is first attested as the chief deity of the Sumerian pantheon, but he was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Hurrians.

Enlil’s epithets include titles such as “the Great Mountain” and “King of the Foreign Lands”. Enlil is also sometimes described as a “raging storm”, a “wild bull”, and a “merchant”. The Mesopotamians envisioned him as a creator, a father, a king, and the supreme lord of the universe.

His primary center of worship was the Ekur temple in the city of Nippur, which was believed to have been built by Enlil himself and was regarded as the “mooring-rope” of heaven and earth, the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united.

The path of Enlil’s celestial orbit was a continuous, symmetrical circle around the north celestial pole, but those of An and Enki were believed to intersect at various points. Enlil was associated with the constellation Boötes, a constellation in the northern sky, located between 0° and +60° declination, and 13 and 16 hours of right ascension on the celestial sphere.

The name comes from the Greek Boōtēs, meaning “herdsman” or “plowman” (literally, “ox-driver”; from bous “cow”). In ancient Babylon, the stars of Boötes were known as SHU.PA. They were apparently depicted as the god Enlil, who was the leader of the Babylonian pantheon and special patron of farmers.

The name Boötes was first used by Homer in his Odyssey as a celestial reference point for navigation, described as “late-setting” or “slow to set”, translated as the “Plowman”. Exactly whom Boötes is supposed to represent in Greek mythology is not clear. According to one version, he was a son of Demeter, Philomenus, twin brother of Plutus, a plowman who drove the oxen in the constellation Ursa Major.

This is corroborated by the constellation’s name, which itself means “ox-driver” or “herdsman.” The ancient Greeks saw the asterism now called the “Big Dipper” or “Plough” as a cart with oxen. This influenced the name’s etymology, derived from the Greek for “noisy” or “ox-driver”. Another myth associated with Boötes relates that he invented the plow and was memorialized for his ingenuity as a constellation.

Arcturus, also designated Alpha Boötis (α Boötis, abbreviated Alpha Boo, α Boo), is the brightest star in the constellation of Boötes, the fourth-brightest in the night sky, and the brightest in the northern celestial hemisphere.

The traditional name Arcturus derives from Ancient Greek Arktouros and means “Guardian of the Bear”, ultimately from ἄρκτος (arktos), “bear” and ouros, “watcher, guardian”. It has been known by this name since at least the time of Hesiod. The Greek name is a reference to its being the brightest star in the constellation next to Ursa Major, the Greater Bear.

One astronomical tradition associates it with the mythology around Arcas, who was about to shoot and kill his own mother Callisto who had been transformed into a bear. Zeus averted their imminent tragic fate by transforming the boy into the constellation Boötes, called Arctophylax “bear guardian” by the Greeks, and his mother into Ursa Major (Greek: Arctos “the bear”). The account is given in Hyginus’s Astronomy.

Callisto was one of the followers of Artemis, or Diana for the Romans, who attracted Zeus (Jupiter). He transformed himself into the figure of Artemis and seduced her in this disguise. She became pregnant and when this was eventually discovered, she was expelled from Artemis’s group, after which a furious Hera (Juno, wife of her seducer) transformed her into a bear.

Later, just as she was about to be killed by her son when he was hunting, she was set among the stars as Ursa Major (“the Great Bear”). She was the bear-mother of the Arcadians, through her son Arcas by Zeus. In every case, Zeus placed them both in the sky as the constellations Ursa Major, called Arktos, the “Bear”, by Greeks, and Ursa Minor.

The myth in Catasterismi may be derived from the fact that a set of constellations appear close together in the sky, in and near the Zodiac sign of Libra, namely Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Boötes, and Virgo. In ancient Mesopotamia, Arcturus was linked to the god Enlil, and also known as Shudun, “yoke”,[12] or SHU-PA of unknown derivation

Boötes may have been represented by the foreleg constellation in ancient Egypt. According to this interpretation, the constellation depicts the shape of an animal foreleg. The foreleg of ox (a foreleg with the thigh) hieroglyph of Ancient Egypt is an old hieroglyph; it even represented a nighttime constellation (the Big Dipper, Maskheti). It came to have many uses in Ancient Egypt over three millennia.

Enki is the Sumerian god of water, knowledge (gestú), mischief, crafts (gašam), and creation (nudimmud). He was later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians.

Enki was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity. On the Adda Seal, Enki is depicted with two streams of water flowing into each of his shoulders: one the Tigris, the other the Euphrates.

Alongside him are two trees, symbolizing the male and female aspects of nature. He is shown wearing a flounced skirt and a cone-shaped hat. An eagle descends from above to land upon his outstretched right arm. This portrayal reflects Enki’s role as the god of water, life, and replenishment.

Enki was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus), which constitutes Pegasus’ main body. It is one of the several most recognizable northern asterisms, along with the Summer Triangle, Cassiopeia’s W, the Keystone in Hercules, the Water Jar in Aquarius, the Northern Cross in Cygnus, and the Circlet of Pisces in Pisces.


Vega, also designated Alpha Lyrae (α Lyrae, abbreviated Alpha Lyr or α Lyr), is the brightest star in the constellation of Lyra, the fifth-brightest star in the night sky, and the second-brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere, after Arcturus. It is relatively close at only 25 light-years from the Sun, and, together with Arcturus and Sirius, one of the most luminous stars in the Sun’s neighborhood.

Vega has been extensively studied by astronomers, leading it to be termed “arguably the next most important star in the sky after the Sun”. Vega was the northern pole star around 12,000 BC and will be so again around the year 13,727, when the declination will be +86°14′.

The indestructables

Kochab (Beta Ursae Minoris), in the bowl of Ursa Minor or, the Little Dipper, and Mizar (Zeta Ursae Majoris), in Ursa Major, at the middle of the handle of the Big Dipper, two bright circumpolar stars which, at that time, could always be seen circling the North Pole, were referred to by Ancient Egyptian astronomers as “The Indestructibles” (Egyptian ikhemu-sek – literally “the ones not knowing destruction”).

The naming is an apt metaphor in Egyptian ideology. The name is directly related to Egyptian belief in constant North as a portal to heaven for pharaohs, and the stars’ close association with eternity and the afterlife. Circumpolar stars are a very good metaphor for the afterlife because when viewed, they never seem to set: they simply rotate around the pole star. They are the undying stars, or in Egyptian terminology, the Indestructibles, a perfect destination for the soul of the dead king.

The context for this is the Egyptian belief that Ra (the sun god) was given birth to by Nut (the sky goddess). Nut was pictured as a naked female spread across the sky, and identified with the Milky Way – the legs formed by the bifurcation at Deneb in Cygnus, and the head by the swelling at Gemini.

The head of Nut passes below the horizon about 75 minutes after the sun on the spring equinox, and at the same point on the horizon, “consuming” Ra, who was symbolically reborn 272 days later on the morning of the Winter solstice, on the same declination as Deneb.

About 4,500 years ago, the Egyptians believed that the unmovable area the stars encircled by 10 degrees each, was heaven in the sense that it was the place of the afterlife. The pole star at the time was Thuban (Alpha Draconis). The Egyptian Pyramids were designed to have one side facing north, with an entrance passage geometrically aligned so that Thuban would be visible at night.

Egyptians associated those two stars with eternity and the afterlife of a king or pharaoh so that after death, a pharaoh would hope to join those stars. During the Old Kingdom it was thought that only the pharaoh and his family could ascend to heaven.

As Pharaohs were buried in pyramids there were implications for their afterlife and their immortality and consequently the structures were deliberately aligned astronomically. Believing that their kings became stars in the Northern sky after death, Egyptians aligned their pyramids and temples due north toward the “indestructible” stars, giving the departed pharaohs direct access to the northern sky.

As the Egyptians believed that the unmovable area the stars circled was heaven, the pyramids were built to align north with a single, perfectly aligned vent. In King Khufu’s Pyramid, the shaft itself, built into the structure, started at the chamber of King Khufu and ends at the outside. The shaft was built at an angle, so it could always sight The Indestructibles.

The Egyptians built this vent in the pyramids in order to ensure a perfectly aligned path towards heaven (although recent researches have shown them not to be completely perfect). Hancock and Bauval claim these inaccuracies mean that the Great Pyramid and by extension the Sphinx were built c. 10,500 BC, a suggestion not widely accepted.

The entrances to all the Fourth Dynasty pyramids at Giza (the Great Pyramid, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure) are in their north faces and the corridors are sloped down from the entrances in such a way that both the circumpolar stars and the pole star were visible. The positioning of the pyramids is such that they do not block each other’s views of these stars.

Since a pyramid was a resting place, rather than a tomb, providing the occupant with all the requirements both physical and mystical for the journey of the ka to the afterlife to become an akh, as David Warburton puts it “In this sense… the entrance is in fact the exit”. The North Shaft of the Kings chamber is also believed to have aligned with Beta Ursae Minoris to facilitate the King’s journey as Horus to the stars.

Dr. Kate Spence of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Cambridge University argues that the alignment of the Great Pyramid of Giza was performed by waiting for a “simultaneous transit” of the circumpolar Indestructibles, and therefore, that by charting the precession of the stars a relatively accurate start date (+/- 5 years) for its construction can be given, namely 2480 BC. Previous Egyptian chronology for the Old Kingdom could only be considered accurate to within 100 years either way.

The ka statue of Djoser in the tombs at Abydos was in a serdab (a type of chamber) in the northern base of his pyramid, tilted at 17 degrees to enable it to observe the circumpolar stars through two holes.

The North Star

The North Star (in the Chukchi language Iluk-eŋer ‘the Immobile Star’, ‡lqep-eŋer ‘the Nail Star’ or Unp-eŋer ‘the Driven-in Stake Star,’ ‘Pole Star’) is cast in the central role among stars. V. Bogoraz Tan claims that the latter version of the star’s name is common all over Europe.

The North Star in the firmament is like a pole or stake driven into the ground around which stars circle, resembling horses or reindeer tied to a pole. Its house is near the Zenith and through its smoke opening it is possible to travel between worlds.

Due to that opening the North Star can be seen in all worlds, in the underworld as well as in upper realms, while other stars and constellations are not the same in different realms. At the same time it is believed that the North Star’s house is higher up than other houses. Its house is made of ice-like substance and to its top is fixed a lighthouse-like source of light (Bogoraz-Tan 1939: 23).

In his book Andres Kuperjanov lists the names different peoples call the North Star by the Golden Pillar (Mongols, Buriats, Kalmyks and Altaian Tatars), the Iron Pillar (Kyrgyzes, Bashkirs and Siberian Tatars), the Lonely Stake (Teleuts), the Golden Stake (Tunguses).

All these ethnic groups picture the North Star as an immobile stake or pillar or a stake driven into the sky. The same applies to Chukchis. The Chukchi name of the Nail Star has a close resemblance to the Estonian name of Põhjanael ‘Northern Nail’.

In the Chukchi worldview stars ranking next to the North Star as to their importance are the so-called heads (in Chukchi Leutti). Heads are formed of two stars. The First Head is Arcturus in the constellation Bear Watcher (Chukchi Janotlaut, Estonian Karuvalvur ‘Guardian of Bear’) and the Second Head is Vega in the constellation Lyra (Chukchi Jaatlaut, Estonian Vabamees ‘Freeman’, Voorimees ‘Coachman’). According to Chukchis these stars are brothers or cousins.

Travelling in the nighttime tundra Chukchis use the mutual position of the heads and the North Star as a reference point to find the right direction. Arcturus is sometimes also called the leader or the guide of stars. Chukchis turn to both of the stars to seek help when healing. In case of diseases a sacrifice has to be brought to Arcturus or the First Head. In case of stomach ache the sacrif

Northern pole stars

Tyr (T) and Taweret (Taw)

The sun gods are normaly written with initial s or t. The proto-Semitic phoneme /ṱ/ shifted to /ṣ/. In the Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish, Anshar (also spelled Anshur), which means “whole heaven”, is a primordial god.

His consort is Kishar which means “Whole Earth”. If this name /Anšar/ is derived from */Anśar/, then it may be related to the Egyptian hieroglyphic /NṬR/ (“god”), since hieroglyphic Egyptian /Ṭ/ may be etymological */Ś/.

In Germanic mythology, Týr (Old Norse), Tíw (Old English), and Ziu (Old High German) is a god. Like Latin Jupiter and Greek Zeus, Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz ultimately stems from the Proto-Indo-European theonym *Dyeus.