Monday, February 15, 2010

Androgynous dualities?

After my last blog post which dealt a lot with the symbolism behind the five pointed star pentagram I'm feeling led to investigate this symbol further. We know that the pentagram symbol was inspired by the rotational habits of Venus, but what we didn't know is that before this discovery Venus was thought of as two separate stars by the ancients. Venus was the morning star, Phosphoros, Lucifer, the Bringer of Light, the Eastern star and also the evening star, Hesperos, Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, fertility, sex, and peace. So when it was discovered that the morning star and the evening star were both in reality Venus it was then the pentagram was discovered.

From this dual nature of Venus we get, "Inanna, the Sumerian queen of the heavens and the daughter of the moon for the Semitic Akkadians (becoming) the contradictory Ishtar. Still the queen of the heavens, Ishtar (Astarte) was the holy virgin but also "she who accomodates men", the goddess of battle and war, but also the goddess of beauty, peace and sex." In the early Greek tribes we get "Athena, the Morning goddess of hunt and battle, and Aphrodite, the Evening goddess of love and beauty."

It appears that an emphasis on Venus as the morning star and as a goddess of war may have given birth to the five pointed star as a sign of war used commonly in the military. What's interesting about this particular aspect of Venus as goddess of hunt, battle, and the new day is the fact that it is symbolized by the sign for the waning moon. So when we combine the five pointed star with the symbol for the waning moon what do we get? I'm not sure at this point if there is a relation with Islam here or not.

According to an eight pointed star, rose, or Phoenician star of Venus was a symbol for the goddess Astarte. The eight pointed star was a symbol for divine fertility which was an aspect of Venus that was also symbolized by a mother with her child. This particular symbol has even found it's way into the Catholic church...good times. Evidently this symbol has led us back to the mother/child parts of the trinity and put another nail the pagan trinity's coffin.

Notice any similarities?

If you recall the Sumerians, the pentagram served as a pictogram for the word "UB," meaning "corner, angle, nook; a small room, cavity, hole; pitfall." Why would the Sumerians choose a symbol representing the chief goddess and that resembles man to signify pit or hole? Let's take a closer look at the significance that a hole in the ground might have had to the Sumerians.

Inanna with leashed lion and 8-pointed star in the sky

In 1922 a British archaeologist named Leonard Woolley began working in Ur, modern day Iraq, and discovered some royal cemeteries there that dated back to 3500 BCE. "Woolley discovered tombs of great material wealth. Inside these tombs were large paintings of ancient Sumerian culture at its zenith, along with gold and silver jewelry, cups and other furnishings." Along with the royalty that was found buried there Woolley discovered some startling funerary practices that were not mentioned in any known Sumerian texts. Woolley found several tombs where the bodies of servants were buried nearby their kings or "gods."

This photograph and the next shows the progress of the excavations in the deep hole, Pit X at Tell al-Muqayyar, excavated between 1933-1934. The large-scale excavation removed 13,000 cubic meters of soil and involved over 150 workers.C. Leonard Woolley, 1934, and the Iraq's Ancient Past, Penn Museum

Woolley and crew uncovered sixteen different royal burial chambers that had many servants buried along with their rulers. The kings and queens were always found deeper in the burial chamber than the servants and were found fully decorated with arms and jewelry. According to Woolley the royalty was buried at the bottom of a chamber (read:pit) that the Sumerians dug and then the servants were sacrificed in the area at the entrance to the tomb in order to "serve" their masters in the after life and fill up the pit that they dug. You gotta wonder how much those kings were paying these servants cause there is no freaking way I'm committing suicide when my boss kicks the bucket!

"Filling up the tomb took time and was done in steps, which were pretty universal for all the ceremonies at Ur. The king would be buried at the bottom of the chamber in a square room created by bricks in the center of the tomb. Other chambers would spread out from this major one, with attendants of the king being buried in them. Clay would then be brought and trampled hard to make a floor where more offerings would be spread. Bodies of other human victims would then again be sacrificed, earth covering these and then another floor was made and more offerings made. In some of the books I have read, they say that the order of the sacrifices was made in the order of importance. The layering of humans went on until the top of the walls of the chamber was reached. A chief sacrifice was made at the end of the ceremony (usually the Queen) whose body was laid in a coffin in the top layer of the tomb. Usually, a chapel of some sort would be erected on top of the tomb chamber that would signify the place. (Woolley Sumerians, 35)."

Sir Leonard Woolley with the triangular frame
of an excavated Sumerian harp, 1920s.

Originally, archeologists believed that the sacrifices were self inflicted through poisoning but new findings are now suggesting that the sacrifices may not have been so friendly. "A new examination of skulls from the royal cemetery at Ur, discovered in Iraq almost a century ago, appears to support a more grisly interpretation than before of human sacrifices associated with elite burials in ancient Mesopotamia, archaeologists say. Palace attendants, as part of royal mortuary ritual, were not dosed with poison to meet a rather serene death. Instead, a sharp instrument, a pike perhaps, was driven into their heads."

BURIAL PITA CT scan, left, of a female skull at a burial site at Ur. Women were buried with elaborate adornments, right, and warriors with their weapons.

"The recovery of about 2,000 burials attested to the practice of human sacrifice on a large scale. At or even before the demise of a king or queen, members of the court — handmaidens, warriors and others — were put to death. Their bodies were usually arranged neatly, the women in elaborate headdress, the warriors with weapons at their side."

Woolley and his team found several chalices and ceremonial daggers that were buried next to some of the men (read: In-ies and Out-ies). So we find the masculine and feminine symbols of dagger and chalice at the bottom of the Sumerian burial "pits" next to a bunch of humans sacrificed for their god-kings...more good times. I'm going to take a leap here and suggest that the pentagram may have been a symbol for human sacrifice or at least signified a "pit" of buried human sacrifices to the Sumerians in honor of the life/death aspect of Ishtar/Inanna.

Fluted golden beaker and dagger, from the Royal cemetery at Ur

To put this assertion of the meaning of the pentagram into some type of context and provide a bit more evidence for my claim let us refer to Mr. Aleister Crowley for a thelemic interpretation (I am not endorsing this guy!). According to Crowley "an adverse or inverted pentagram represents the descent of spirit into matter, according to the interpretation of Lon Milo DuQuette. Crowley contradicted his old comrades in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, who, following Levi, considered this orientation of the symbol evil and associated it with the triumph of matter over spirit." So we have the descent (read:pit) of spirit (read:human sacrifice) into matter (read: Earth/death).

I think we've made some great progress here. I've learned a few things writing this and I hope you are while you're reading it. That's it for this entry :)

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