♈ ARIES: Athamas, a king in the land of Croneus, had a son named Phrixus and a daughter named Helle by his first wife. Her name was Nephele. He eventually grew tired of Nephele and sent her away. He then married Ino, the daughter of Cadmus who was the King of Thebes. Over time, Ino grew jealous of Nephele’s children. She wanted the kingdom for her own sons and decided to use treachery and deceit to get it. Nephele was fearful for her children’s safety, and sent a protector into the castle walls to watch over them. The protector was a Ram with a fleece made of gold that was given to her as a present from Zeus. The Ram has always been loyal to Nephele ever since. When the day of sacrifice came, the ram spoke to Phrixus and Helle, told them to climb on his back and to make sure they held on tight. Once they did, the ram sprang into the air and flew across the sea. Helle, who is much weaker than her brother Phrixus, fell off the ram’s back and into the ocean where she plunged to her death. The place she fell is called Hellesponte. Phrixus survived and ended up marrying into the royal family of Colchis, thus maintaining his noble status. In thanks to Zeus, Phrixus sacrificed the golden ram that had carried out the god’s wishes on Earth. Phrixus hung the ram’s fleece in a special spot in Colchis, where it would be the theme of legends to come. Zeus hung the ram’s likeness in the sky to commemorate its bravery, and it shines there to this very day.
♉ TAURUS: Zeus was a lover of women, both mortal and immortal but it was sometimes hard to escape to be with other women being under the watchful eye of his wife Hera. He also was unable to appear in his true form, as he would strike too much fear into the hearts of mortal men and women. One of Zeus’s methods was to change himself into an animal, which allowed him to escape from Hera and get close to the woman of his choice. One day, a maiden named Europa caught Zeus’s eye as she was out playing with a group of girls by the seashore. Knowing that she and her friends would be terrified if a strange man or god approached them, he changed himself into a beautiful white bull. Once she was comfortable with the bull, she started to play with it. They got farther and farther away from her friends. Zeus laid down, and Europa climbed on his back. Then he plunged into the sea and swam away with Europa clinging to his back. Zeus took her to the island of Crete, where he changed back to his true form. He took Europa as his lover, and she bore him three sons. Zeus hung the image of the bull in the heavens, where it represents love, strength and beauty.
♊ GEMINI: Gemini represents two heroic twin brothers named Castor and Pollux. Their mother, Leda, was one of Zeus’ many love affairs. Castor and Pollux were legendary adventurers and fighters. They were members of the Argonauts, the group of brave young men who set off with Jason to find the Golden Fleece (Aries story). The two brothers are also known for their constant rivalry with Theseus of Athens. Theseus, in fact, kidnapped their sister Helen one day and locked her up in Athens. When Theseus was away, Castor and Pollux stormed the city and took Helen back. The twins died fighting while they were still relatively young. Castor was killed in a struggle with the Leucippidae. Zeus saw the struggle and the death from his place in the heavens. The twins were among his favorite mortals, and Zeus did not want to see them both go to Hades, so he hurled a thunderbolt at the Leucippidae and killed them. Then he took Pollux up to the heavens. Pollux did not want to be immortal while his brother was still in Hades so Zeus brought Castor up in the heavens with Pollux, where they were reunited and remained together forever.
♋ CANCER: This crab was the first symbol of the Zodiac to be placed in the heavens by an immortal other than Zeus. It was actually sent by his wife, Hera, to plague the Greek hero Heracles (Hercules), who she hated very much. Hera hated Heracles because he was the product of Zeus’s many affairs. The crab was not a particularly kind creature while on Earth. It was originally called Carcinus, which is Greek for ‘crayfish’. It dwelled underwater, and was huge and rather malevolent. Heracles was in the middle of the Twelve Labors, which was his punishment for crimes committed as a young man. In a fit of madness, which was actually placed on him by Hera, he killed his wife and young sons. The gods decided that even though he wasn’t fully responsible for the crime, he would need to spend many years atoning for his sins. They put him in the service of his brother, Eurystheus, who ordered him to do one thing after another, all of which seemed impossible. Heracles was no ordinary man, and in the course of his labors he gained glory and won over most of the Olympians. Hera, however, remained implacable in her hatred. At the time when Hera sent the giant crab to attack Heracles, he was fighting a much more terrible monster, the Lernean Hydra. Hera thought that Heracles would be too busy fighting the Hydra to pay attention to the giant crab, or that if the crab distracted him, the Hydra would have an opportunity to finish him. Unfortunately for the crab and Hydra, Hera was mistaken. Heracles killed Carcinus easily, then turned his attention back to the Hydra. Hera, who had watched the incident, did not forget the animal that had died at her command. She placed it in the heavens to show that she was grateful for its efforts.
♌ LEO: Leo is represented by a mythical monster fought by Heracles during his Twelve Labors. This monster was the Nemean Lion. The valley of Nemea had been terrorized by the beast, which was thought to be impossible to kill. The was actually Heracles’s First Labor. He had to find the lion in its mountain lair and destroy it before it could completely wipe out the Nemean countryside. Once he had killed the lion, his brother and taskmaster Eurystheus wanted him to bring its hide back to the city as proof that he had actually accomplished the task. Once he found the lion, he tried to kill it right away. First with his arrows, then with his giant sword, which were both unsuccessful. He ended up wrestling the lion, strangling it with his bare hands. Once it was dead, he skinned it using its own claws and carried it to Eurystheus. After showing his brother, who panicked and ran when he saw the lion’s remains, Heracles took the lion’s carcass away. He made a cloak out of the skin and a helmet out of the head. The spirit of the lion was placed in the sky, where it was no longer deadly, but beautiful.
♍ VIRGO: This constellation is said to be the figure of a goddess. According to legend, during the Golden Age, which was under the rule of the Titans at the time, the gods and goddesses lived on Earth among men. Once the Olympian era came to be, things started to change. Zeus was a harsh and strict ruler. He saw humans as rather lowly creatures who were far beneath immortals. He thought they should be treated like animals. Prometheus, a Titan, became the protector of men and sided against Zeus. He stole fire from the Olympians and give it to humans. Zeus was pissed off and chained Prometheus to the top of the Caucasus Mountains, intending to leave him there forever. However, Zeus was not finished punishing Prometheus or the human race yet. He sent down Pandora, the first woman. Ancient Greeks believed that women were the source of all evil and discomfort. The symbolic representation of women’s corruption of humanity is Pandora’s Box, which was filled with all the demons that torture humanity, from greed to spite. After Pandora unleashed these demons, the remaining immortals on Earth quickly departed for Olympus. The last one to leave was Astraea, the daughter of Zeus and Themis. Astraea was the goddess of virtue. She went to the heavens and watches from the sky every night to see when earth will be ready for her to return.
♎ LIBRA: The legend of this sign seems to originate in Egypt, where the Egyptian lord of the dead used a scale to weigh the souls of those who had died. Anubis is portrayed with the head of a jackal. He and his brother Apu-at watched over the two roads that led to the Underworld. Anubis would weigh the souls of the dead to determine their value based on what they had done on Earth. Anubis sent worthy souls to the kingdom of Osiris, the equivalent to Heaven. He could be seen as a benevolent deity but also a dark and terrible figure that you could not escape from. His attribute, the scales, was a symbol of final judgment. The Greeks allowed them to retain their place and legend in the heavens.
♏ SCORPIO: The Scorpion was a monster summoned at the will of the who at the time was a wrathful goddess, Artemis. She called upon the Scorpin to destroy Orion. Orion was a giant. He was more than mortal, but less than a god or goddess. He was the son of Poseidon and is often supposed to be the son of Gaia, as were all giants. Orion was strong and very beautiful, but he thought too highly of himself and forgot to show proper respect toward immortals. It is not clear what Orion did to anger Artemis. According to one version, he tried to rape one of her handmaidens. According to another, he may have tried to force himself on Artemis herself. Perhaps he simply boasted that he was a better archer than she was. Of all the goddesses, however, Artemis may have been the worst one to anger. She was the goddess of the hunt and the goddess of revenge, and she was ruthless and violent once angered. She became furious with Orion’s impudence and commanded a giant scorpion to attack him. The scorpion stung Orion and killed him. Artemis placed her servant in the heavens as a reward for doing her bidding. Because of Orion’s parentage, he could not go to Hades. He was placed in the heavens as well, where he continues to flee across the night sky, away from the poisonous scorpion.
♐ SAGITTARIUS: The Archer represents one of the more heroic figures of the zodiac, Chiron, the kindest and gentlest of the Centaurs. Although many of them were stupid and violent, Chiron was known for his wisdom, caring nature and his ability to teach. He was immortal. Chiron tutored the Greek heroes Achilles and Jason and many others. He was renowned among the Greeks, although he lived by himself in a cave in the countryside. Heracles shot him with an arrow by accident. He was trying to kill the other vicious centaurs who were plaguing the countryside. He had no intention of shooting Chiron, and was extremely remorseful. Although Chiron used his medical skills on the wound, it was incurable. Heracles’ arrows were tipped with the deadly venom of the Lernean Hydra, which killed any victim it touched. But Chiron was immortal so instead of dying, he remained in terrible pain and agony. Prometheus, the Titan, managed to help Chiron. It is not clear what exchange Prometheus and Chiron made, but the Titan made Chiron mortal, and enabled him to leave the Earth and go up to the heavens.
♑ CAPRICORN: This constellation has a mythological explanation that dates to before the Greeks. Capricorn, the Seagoat, is thought to be the image of a powerful Babylonian deity named Ea. He has the lower half of a fish and the head and torso of a goat. He lived in the ocean. He came out every day to watch over the land, and he returned to the sea every night. The Greek version of this legend does not match with the physical description of the Seagoat. Greeks thought that the starry figure was Pan, a Greek demigod. Pan had the upper half of a man, but he had the legs of a goat. He was the son of Hermes and a forest nymph. According to legend, when the nymph saw her strange baby, she shrieked in fear and ran away. Hermes, however, loved his strange son. He took him to Olympus, where the other gods and goddesses also took a liking to Pan. He became the god of shepherds and flocks, taking the responsibility from his father. He did not dwell on Olympus; he preferred to live among the shady trees in the mountains. He amused himself by playing his beloved reed pipes or by chasing nymphs through the woods.
♒ AQUARIUS: In many ancient cultures, there was a god known as the 'Water Bearer’ or 'Water Pourer’. Water is the bringer and sustainer of all life; therefore the force that made water rain down from the heavens was among the most revered by ancient peoples. In Greek legend, Zeus was the Water Bearer. Although he was the god of many things, one of his most important roles was as the god of storms. The constellation Aquarius could have originally been representative of Zeus as the Water Bearer. Another myth, probably of more recent origin, is the myth of Deucalion, the only man to survive the Great Flood. The story of this flood is very similar to the Judeo-Christian legend of Noah’s Ark. As the story goes, during the Iron Age, humanity had become more savage than animals. Brother fought each other, fathers were killed by their own sons, and no one was safe. Both men and women were violent, bloodthirsty and had no morals. The words of the gods meant little or nothing to them, and no one would repent for their sins. Zeus, despairing for humankind, sent a great flood upon the Earth. The flood destroyed all the people in the world – with the exception of Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha. Zeus came across them while visiting Earth and too a liking to them. They lived alone and had almost no food or material goods. Despite this, they fed Zeus, gave him shelter for the night and spoke kindly to him, even though they had no idea that he was a god. They were the last godly people on Earth, so Zeus allowed them to survive the flood. After it ended, he helped them to create a new race of men, which was supposed to be stronger and better. Deucalion is known as the 'Water Bearer’ because he not only lived through the flood, but he helped to bring life to a new generation.
♓ PISCES: This constellation is associated with a Greek legend about Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, and her son Eros, the god of love. The two were walking along a river one day when the terrible monster Typhon suddenly rose up out of the water trying to kill them. Typhon was ancient and awful. Typhon was as strong as a Titan, meaning he was also as strong as the Olympians. He was as tall as the heavens and his eyes shot flames. He had 100 dragonheads sprouting from his hands, taking the place of his fingers. None of the Olympians had the power to destroy Typhon alone, so for a time, all they did was flee from him. They did this by transforming into animals. Aphrodite and Eros transformed themselves into fish and swam away. Alternately, they dove into the river and were rescued by two friendly fish, who carried them to safety. Two fish were hung in the sky, their tails intertwined, to commemorate the day when love and beauty were saved.
Taurus: Embraces any forms sexuality, highly promiscuous and deceitful, uses sexual openness to allure, likes the idea of group sex; stubborn and enjoys dictating what occurs. Usually has no sexual boundaries, can switch roles (dominant/submissive), can be unforgettable depending upon circumstances
Gemini: most deceitful, dirty and promiscuous of them all. High risk of having many friends w/ benefits, or flirting with others’ partners. Has no sexual preference nor boundaries whatsoever, prone to committing incest. Doesn’t care for love, just sex. Loves everything sexually adventurous, risky and obscene (i.e., group sex, public sex/humiliation, multiple one night stands, young/old, old/young)
Positions (m): Double penetration, butter churner, sniper, rock the cradle, reserve mambo, reverse hot seat, on the prowl, stand and receive
Positions (f): Wheel Barrow, scissors, jellyfish, Big Dipper, octopus, piledriver, socket, stand and carry, life raft, g-spot sniper, bridge
Cancer: Most dangerous. Has a lot of internal issues, most likely traumatized, childhood issues, emotionally unstable, extremely vulnerable and easily becomes ‘turned out’ by others, uses/mistaken sex for love and security. Uses their innocence/submissive persona to get what they desire (i.e, sex, drugs) or lure others as they were. Self-distructive, reckless, hypersensitive. Sexual encounters may be amazing, but comes with severe co-dependency. Comes off as angelic, innocent and highly submissive, ‘nightmare dressed like a daydream’
Best partners: Cancer Mars/Cap Lilith, Taurus Mars/Virgo Lilith, Scorpio Mars/Scorpio Lilith
Leo: Passionate, needs to be heard and told they’re doing a good job, aims to please their egos during sex, superiority complex, animalistic, creative sex. Desires to be a dom. ONLY; aims to create the perfect sexual fantasy for their partner. Their ego is damaged when they become a mistress, jealously is apparently, becomes self-centered and deadly.
Positions (m): tribal dance, the steer, tequila sunrise, tangled spider, sniper, rock the cradle,
Virgo: Most submissive and undetected sexual energies. Has two personas: reserved, intellectual opinionated/submissive, sexually inclined, filthy-minded, fantasizes often about whoever they take interest in, secretively promiscuous. Aims to satisfy every desire of their partners’, ultimate teasers. Worries about their sexual desires being known and often is conflicted between feeling reserved and 'whorish’, has the ability of corrupting the young and/or innocent-minded. Can be sharp-tongued if sexual desires/needs are not met.
Positions (m): Bull horn, doorway to heaven, nose dive, poolside, under the hood, Bermuda Triangle, Amazon-kneeling reserved, Big Dipper, butter, cowgirl
Positions (f): woman on top, standing wheel barrow, batter’s up, Brazilian bedlock, corkscrew, fire hydrant, lock n’ pose, booster seat
Best partners: Leo Mars/Pisces Lilith, Libra Mars/Scorpio Lilith, Aquarius Mars/Libra Lilith, Aries Mars/Taurus Lilith
Libra: 'Split-imaged’ when sexual. Flirtatious and unfaithful. Rough sex, may choose partners who bring harm, co-dependent, usually a sweet, helpful persona is perceived as alluring. While commonly unfaithful, can be otherwise, and possess ruthless jealously, insecurities, and possessiveness.
Positions (m): speed bump, manhandling, kneeling fox, melody maker, lust and thrust, standing wheel barrow, raising the heat, the squat
Positions (f):the sultry saddle, the squat, the spider, edge of heaven, waterfall, star gazing,
Best partners: Pisces Mars/Pisces Lilith, Capricorn Mars/Virgo Lilith, Aqua Mars/Leo Lilith
Scorpio: Seen as the devil. Sexually exploits others, knows the deepest secrets of others; will never reveal their own. Faithful to keeping others secrets. Magnetic, seductive, intoxicating. May be on sadistic side, possibly subjected to abuse as a child. Manipulative with their lovers.
Positions (m): man trap, hit the spot, magic bullet, tight squeeze, standing tiger, sniper, batter’s up, planking
Positions (f): galloping horse, good spread, reverse cowgirl, x-position cowgirl, star gazing, planking
Best partners: Cancer Mars/Pisces Lilith, Pisces Mars/Sag Lilith, Virgo Mars/Taurus Lilith
Sagittarius: Unwise, unable to learn from mistakes, dedicated to secret philosophies, judges harshly. Known for their hypocrisy and lying. Uses sexual pleasures as a spiritual splurge, corrupts the young. Great, spontaneous lover, multiple partners known to them under different identities
Positions (m): pretzel, spork, Swiss ball blitz, waterfall, on the prowl, moon over Miami, corkscrew, Ben Dover, arm chair
Positions (f): crab shuffle, rainbow arch, reverse frog squat, threading the needle, bent spoon, ballerina
Best partners: Capricorn Mars/Aquarius Lilith, Libra Mars/Pisces Lilith, Sagittarius Mars/Gemini Lilith, Aqua Mars/Leo Lilith
Capricorn: Most dignified placement. Ambitious-goal oriented, traditional sex, may be perceived as under-achieving or boring in their sexual life, sex is seen as unless. Only uses sex to achieve success in the business world, may become known for their choice promiscuity, level-headed appearance allures all her lovers, unemotional and academically inclined
Positions (m): face to face, sexy spoons, missionary, close embrace, cat, Brazilian bedlock, bicycle, Russian ballerina
Positions (f): face to face, standing up, cowgirl, missionary, swan experience, wild stallion
Best partners: cap Mars/Aqua Lilith, cap Mars/cap Lilith Aqua Mars/Taurus Lilith
Aquarius: suffers from thwarted hope and dreams, life choices cause disastrous change and instability. Bad choices also cause loss of friends over the years, stubborn and associates with the wrong type of people, magnetic and experimental. She tempts with her experimentative sexual openness, willing to try anything. Swinger
Position (f): Swiss ball blitz, waterfall, Bermuda Triangle, Eiffel Tower, now and zen, pussy cat control
Position (m): snow angel, man on top, moon over Miami, Cuban cradle, Boston brute, bike pump, bumper cars, book ends
Best partners: Sag Mars/Sag Lilith, Virgo Mars/Pisces Lilith, Cap Mars/Gemini Lilith, Gemini Mars/Aries Lilith
Pisces: Secretive and suffers from martyrdom, exploits the sympathy of others for their delight, suffers from subconscious ailments, may hide wounds from sexual abuse and trauma during early childhood. Sexual inhibition and confusion is likely. Ties themselves to the dregs of society, allowing to be demeaned and used to satisfy the lower basic instincts of humankind, power to hypnotize and create the perfect sexual fantasy
Positions (f): corridor canoodling, good spread, threading the needle, wild rodeo, women on top, cross, cinema stroke, butterfly
Positions (m): lust and thrust, ballet dancer, moon over Miami, jack hammer, double legged anchor, stand and receive
Best partners: Cancer Mars/Scorpio Lilith, Scorpio Mars/Aqua Lilith, Cap Mars/Gemini Lilith, Pisces Mars/Cancer Lilith
My favorite part of the Epic of Gilgamesh is when the goddess Ishtar hits on Gilgamesh and he’s like “I’m gonna list all your previous lovers and the horrible things you did to them when you got bored” and Ishtar throws a hissy fit and runs to her father, the god Anu, and asks him to give her the Bull of Heaven so she can destroy Gilgamesh’s city, and when he is reluctant, she threatens to unleash a literal zombie apocalypse until he relents
Having summoned the Bull of Heaven at her side, Ishtar has taken to wearing her own swimsuit, riding around on her motorcycle in order to create and compete in the 2017 Summer Event! She is a bit more frustrated and lonely than her other self, thinking that because of her lowered power and capabilities throughout the Chaldea Grail War, she was a ‘useless goddess.’ Even when she called back Gugalanna, her beloved bull, she could not bring back his true self, driving her further into despair.
Hopefully, with a Master at her side and faith in her abilities, she can get better.
The first half of the story discusses Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, and Enkidu, a wild man created by the gods to stop Gilgamesh from oppressing the people of Uruk. After an initial fight, Gilgamesh and Enkidu become close friends. Together, they journey to the Cedar Mountain and defeat Humbaba, its monstrous guardian. Later they kill the Bull of Heaven, which the goddess Ishtar sends to punish Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. As a punishment for these actions, the gods sentence Enkidu to death.
If I were a new reader, I’d start with the Red Long Johns since I think that’s a pretty good example of my work, then move on to Starboy (because it’s my favorite), and then start Büsker Dü’s and Dont’s (…also my favorite). ^_^
The city of two springs, Nineveh the land of greens, the waves of Tigris river, the heaven of Assyria, the leaning minaret, the winged bull, the civilisation. The mountains and green hills, the smooth waterfalls, the shade under the palm trees, the olive trees, the jasmines, the fields of sunflowers. The golden farms of wheat dancing with me as I run through them hiding as I hear my father call my name. My childhood memories.
The call to prayer from the mosques and bells of the churches. Mosul, Nineveh the Iraqi queen, the pride of the North.This is how I like to remember you. My home, my blood. The city of tranquility and peace. You will rise again! Mosul, may peace be upon you.
10/07/2017 Iraqi army officials declared victory over ISIS. The images underneath shows the aftermath of the Mosul battle.
Do you know of any fairies or monsters that live among or are closely associated with the stars?
There’s the “animals in the form of spheres” that Borges talks about.
There’s giant cosmic serpents like Apep and Jormungand, Bakunawa who devours the moon, Kuyutha and the other members of the cosmic Jenga tower, Skoll and Hati who will eat the sun and moon respectively…
There’s the obvious Greek myths, who ended up in the stars, Orion is Orion, Callisto is Ursa Major, the hydra’s crab is Cancer, etc. but I’m sure you already know those.
So how about, instead, I point out that the brood of Tiamat are all constellations? Like literally the monsters of the Enuma Eliš are the constellations themselves.
Bašmu the Viper is Hydra, Mušruššu the Raging
Serpent is Draco(?), Ugallum the Great Lion is Leo, Uriddimmû the Gruesome Hound is Lupus, Girtablili
the Scorpion-Man is Sagittarius, Kulilu the Fish-Man is Aquarius, and Kusariḳḳu
the Fish-Ram is Capricorn, those are the most easily ascribed ones. Then Gudanna the Bull of Heaven, slain by Gilgamesh and his BFF Enkidu, is Taurus.
Image below of the Ishtar Gate’s Mušruššu from the Pergamon Museum, from Wikipedia.
Two Babylonian Lullabies (BM 122691 and OECT 11 002)
This first lullaby is a loose translation, in order to fit a modern musical meter. It can be sung to “Nettleton” (Come Thou Fount) or Joyful, Joyful (Ode to Joy) — I recommend singing lines 1-8, then repeating 1-6 and finishing with 9-10. A closer translation of the same text is at the end, followed by a different, longer incantation to help a crying baby sleep.
Little one, who dwelled in darkness, now you’ve come and seen the sun. Why the crying? Why the worries? What has made your peace undone?
You have roused the household spirits; you have scared the guardian-gods. “Who has roused me? Who has scared me?” “Little baby woke you up!”
May you settle into slumber, sweet as plum-wine, deep as love.
The central figure of the ancient tale the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh and the best friend of Enkidu. He was the son of Lugalbanda and the goddess Nisun making him a demigod who was famous for his strength. As a king, he made it law that every married woman must sleep with him first and tortured the men with labour and sadistic games. When the people prayed to the gods to stop his oppression, they answered by creating Enkidu.
With his new friend, he slew the giant Humbaba and the Bull of Heaven that ravaged the earth after he did not accept Ishtar’s advances. Because of these events, Enkidu would be put to death and Gilgamesh was friendless again.
Created by the Gods from clay and saliva, Enkidu came into being, hairy, dirty and wild. He lived with the beasts and ate their grass and drank at the watering holes. He would meet a women, sent by the King Gilgamesh, who stayed with him for seven days and taught him the ways of civilization.
Now a fine, handsome young man, Enkidu trekked to the city of Uruk and challenged the King to a wrestling match. Their mutual respect for each other allowed them to become close friends.
When the Goddess Ishtar attempted to seduce Gilgamesh, his refusal enraged her and she released The Bull of Heaven onto the world. After slaying the beast, Enkidu was brought to the trial of the Gods and executed, leaving Gilgamesh alone once more.
Aries- The Ram appeared for the first time as the symbol for Aries in Egypt, alternating with a goose’s head; but its origin is mostly a mystery.
Taurus- The Egyptian God Horus was the Bull of Heaven, and a white bull was sacrificed in Babylonia at the New Year to please Ramman, the god of thunder and lightning.
Gemini- Castor and Pollux, bright stars in the Gemini constellation, were probably the original heavenly twins (referred to in Egypt as the Two Stars).
Cancer- Cancer the Crab probably originated in Babylon; but twin turtles were associated with this sign in Egypt, where Thoth, among other things the god of astronomy, ruled the constellation.
Leo- The lion is associated with the pattern of stars in the constellation, and may originally have been suggested by it; it was probably born in Egypt at least 3000 years BC.
Virgo- Nidaba, Egyptian goddess of grain, was probably the original of the Virgin (the Egyptian harvest began when the Moon was in Virgo). In Sumeria the figure, far from being a virgin, was that of the Great Mother, whose daughter was sometimes the guardian of the harvest.
Libra- The image of the scales may be connected with the weighing of the Egyptian harvest for the assessment of taxes, or associated with the Babylonian conception of the weighing of one’s vices and virtues after death.
Scorpio- There is a Scorpion-man in the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh (2000 BC); the symbol appears in Mesopotamia, and a thousand years later, in Egypt; but the origin is unknown.
Sagittarius- Of unknown origin; there was an early confusion between Sagittarius and Scorpio, for we find Centaur figures with Scorpio tails in Babylonia.
Capricorn- The Babylonian god Ea wore a cloak designed as a fish’s skin complete with a head and tail: among his names was “Antelope of the Seas”. He came from the oceans to teach wisdom to land-strolling man.
Aquarius- The Egyptian god Hapi watered the earth from two jugs; but there seems also an association with Ea, sometime called the God with two Streams.
Pisces- On its earliest appearance in the Babylonian zodiac, Pisces was called the constellation of the Tails; the two fishes were associated with the goddesses Anuntium and Simmah, one symbolizing the river Tigris and one the Euphrates.
hey check out this song of mourning from the epic of gilgamesh which is the oldest surviving work of written literature, around 1500 years older than genesis
Hear me, great ones of Uruk,
I weep for Enkidu, my friend.
Bitterly moaning like a woman mourning
I weep for my brother.
O Enkidu, my brother,
You were the axe at my side,
My hand’s strength, the sword in my belt,
The shield before me,
A glorious robe, my fairest ornament;
An evil Fate has robbed me.
The wild ass and the gazelle
That were father and mother,
All long-tailed creatures that nourished you
Weep for you,
All the wild things of the plain and pastures;
The paths that you loved in the forest of cedars
Night and day murmur.
Let the great ones of strong-walled Uruk
Weep for you;
Let the finger of blessing
Be stretched out in mourning;
Enkidu, young brother. Hark,
There is an echo through all the country
Like a mother mourning.
Weep all the paths where we walked together;
And the beasts we hunted, the bear and hyena,
Tiger and panther, leopard and lion,
The stag and the ibex, the bull and the doe.
The river along whose banks we used to walk,
Weeps for you,
Ula of Elam and dear Euphrates
Where once we drew water for the water-skins.
The mountain we climbed where we slew the Watchman,
Weeps for you.
The warriors of strong-walled Uruk
Where the Bull of Heaven was killed,
Weep for you.
All the people of Eridu
Weep for you Enkidu.
Those who brought grain for your eating
Mourn for you now;
Who rubbed oil on your back
Mourn for you now;
Who poured beer for your drinking
Mourn for you now.
The harlot who anointed you with fragrant ointment
Laments for you now;
The women of the palace, who brought you a wife,
A chosen ring of good advice,
Lament for you now.
And the young men your brothers
As though they were women
Go long-haired in mourning.
What is this sleep which holds you now?
You are lost in the dark and cannot hear me.
I ask because different sources transliterate differently. Is there a difference between "Inanna" and "Inana" and "Gugalana" and "Gugal-ana." Whats a double N vs single N and a hyphen vs no hyphen difference sound wise?
Hi, and thanks for your question!
I’ll talk about hyphens first. Hyphens in transliteration are used to indicate, within a word, the boundary between two cuneiform signs. It’s purely a writing convention, and has nothing to do with pronunciation: gugalana and gu-gal-an-na would be pronounced identically, as gugalana (and this word, the “bull of heaven”, is written in cuneiform with the signs “gu + gal + an + na”).
There is some argument about whether long and short vowels (or consonants) existed in Sumerian, but generally when you see doubled consonants it’s just because the sound is written with two adjacent signs. In gu-gal-an-na, the /n/ is written as part of both the third and fourth signs, and is therefore often transliterated as gugalanna. Both that and gugalana are, as far as we know, equally correct, and would be pronounced pretty much identically. (The same is true in nin-an-na, Inanna’s etymologic name).
There are a few exceptions, where the doubled-consonants can matter. For example, there is a word unga (uĝa3 in cuneiform) which means “people, population, crowd”, and a different word ungnga with a doubled consonant (uĝ3-ĝa6 in cuneiform) which means “porters, employees”.
When I write in Sumerian on this blog, I intentionally delete the hyphens, and try to go with the most common or clearest spelling for a given word (hence writing ungnga like that). I tend to keep the double-Ns in proper nouns ending in -anna since those spellings (Inanna, gugalanna) are more well-known; but if I were constructing a regular word with an “sky” plus the genitive -a (e.g. sharana, “the whole of the sky”) I would delete the extra -n as extraneous.
That was quite a long explanation, but I hope it’s helpful!