Tag Archives: seasonal myths

SEASONAL MYTHS WITH THE SAME THEME

Persephone and pomegranateSpring keeps trying to arrive but this bitter winter refuses to give up just yet. Our nationwide longing to be liberated from the tyrannical grip of winter made this a good time to examine some of the ancient myths about winter and the coming of spring.

The celebration of those myths at this time of year plus the fact that many of those myths centered around dead and resurrected deities necessitated Christianity’s attempt to superimpose its OWN dead and resurrected deity over top of those older stories. Hence the celebration of Easter in springtime. (And it’s not just Christianity that behaved that way – other religions also would superimpose their own celebrations over top of those held in honor of the previously dominant gods in their region. I’ll cover the behavior of those other belief systems – especially Islam and the Incan faith – another time.)

Not all seasonal myths conformed to the following pattern. I’m limiting this list to the ones that did.

PERSEPHONE

Pantheon: Greek (The Romans called her Proserpine)

The Tale: Persephone was the beautiful daughter of the goddess Demeter (Ceres to the Romans). Persephone caught the eye of Hades, the god who ruled over the realm of the dead. Overcome with lust Hades (Pluto to the Romans) emerged from his subterranean domain and stole Persephone away to his realm to become his Queen.

The Savior: Demeter went searching for her daughter throughout the world, often assuming the form of a mortal woman. Her search wore on and on with no results, causing Demeter to fall more and more deeply into despair. Because she was the goddess of nature that despair manifested itself in colder weather, in the leaves falling off the trees, other vegetation dying and some animals hibernating or migrating to flee the cold. 

As this first winter wore on, human beings began praying to Demeter to restore the world’s greenery and the warmer temperatures of the past. In her overwhelming sadness at the loss of her daughter Demeter ignored those prayers, prompting humans to begin praying to the other gods to intercede on humanity’s behalf. At length Zeus, the sky god who ruled over all the gods in the Greek pantheon, realized that the only way to end Demeter’s despair and end the terrible winter was to find her daughter Persephone and reunite mother and daughter. Continue reading

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BAAL: DEATH AND RESURRECTION

BaalSpring is the time of year that always puts me in mind of the many dead and resurrected deities who were featured in various seasonal myths around the world. This is a look at Baal, but if you want more dead and resurrected gods and goddesses click HERE  

BAAL

Pantheon: Canaanite

The Tale: Baal, the storm god of the Canaanites, had emerged triumphant in his war with the sea god Yam and became very hubristic. He insisted he had authority even over Mot, the god of death and warned Mot that the only places on Earth that he could visit were the deserts.

Infuriated, Mot invited/ dared Baal to visit him in his subterranean realm, the land of the dead. Baal accepted the dare/ invitation lest he lose face and once there Mot fed him the food of the dead – mud – thereby trapping Baal in the Netherworld.

With Baal thus imprisoned no rains fell on the Earth and drought consumed the world, killing vegetation and the animals who fed on that vegetation, then the animals who fed on THOSE animals, etc.

In an interesting variation on these other seasonal myths in the story of Baal the “dead season” is not winter but summer, which, given the intense heat in that part of the world, was potentially more destructive to nature than winter. Continue reading

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INANNA: DEATH AND RESURRECTION

InannaSpring is the time of year that always puts me in mind of the many dead and resurrected deities who were featured in various seasonal myths around the world. This is a look at Inanna, but if you want more dead and resurrected gods and goddesses click HERE  

INANNA 

Pantheon: Sumerian (The Babylonians called her Ishtar) 

The Tale: Inanna the fertility goddess and queen of the heavens was looking to extend her reign to the land of the dead. She descended into the Netherworld, which was ruled over by her sister, the goddess Ereshkigal. Fighting on the death goddess’ own turf was foolish and Ereshkigal won the controntation and either nailed Inanna to a wall of her palace or impaled her on a stake, Vlad the Impaler style.

With Inanna thus imprisoned, vegetation died from the withering heat of summer, which could get even worse in that part of the world, where droughts could be so intense that the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were the only bodies of water that would NOT get dried up. The usual drought cycle continued, with vegetation dying, then animals who lived off it dying, etc. In the case of Inanna her dominion over sexual fertility also added the angle that males and females of all species lost all interest in sex and reproduction as well.   Continue reading

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DEAD AND RESURRECTED DEITIES OF THE DISTANT PAST

Persephone and pomegranateSpring keeps trying to arrive but this bitter winter refuses to give up just yet. Our nationwide longing to be liberated from the tyrannical grip of winter made this a good time to examine some of the ancient myths about winter and the coming of spring. The celebration of those myths at this time of year plus the fact that many of those myths centered around dead and resurrected deities necessitated Christianity’s attempt to superimpose its OWN dead and resurrected deity over top of those older stories. Hence the celebration of Easter in springtime. (And it’s not just Christianity that behaved that way – other religions also would superimpose their own celebrations over top of those held in honor of the previously dominant gods in their region. I’ll cover the behavior of those other belief systems – especially Islam and the Incan faith – another time.)

Not all seasonal myths conformed to the following pattern. I’m limiting this list to the ones that did.

PERSEPHONE

Pantheon: Greek (The Romans called her Proserpine)

The Tale: Persephone was the beautiful daughter of the goddess Demeter (Ceres to the Romans). Persephone caught the eye of Hades, the god who ruled over the realm of the dead. Overcome with lust Hades (Pluto to the Romans) emerged from his subterranean domain and stole Persephone away to his realm to become his Queen.

The Savior: Demeter went searching for her daughter throughout the world, often assuming the form of a mortal woman. Her search wore on and on with no results, causing Demeter to fall more and more deeply into despair. Because she was the goddess of nature that despair manifested itself in colder weather, in the leaves falling off the trees, other vegetation dying and some animals hibernating or migrating to flee the cold.  Continue reading

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LEGENDS OF THE SPRING: A LOOK AT THOSE SEASONAL MYTHS WHICH HAVE THE SAME THEME

Persephone and pomegranateSpring keeps trying to arrive but this bitter winter refuses to give up just yet. Our nationwide longing to be liberated from the tyrannical grip of winter made this a good time to examine some of the ancient myths about winter and the coming of spring. The celebration of those myths at this time of year plus the fact that many of those myths centered around dead and resurrected deities necessitated Christianity’s attempt to superimpose its OWN dead and resurrected deity over top of those older stories. Hence the celebration of Easter in springtime. (And it’s not just Christianity that behaved that way – other religions also would superimpose their own celebrations over top of those held in honor of the previously dominant gods in their region. I’ll cover the behavior of those other belief systems – especially Islam and the Incan faith – another time.)

Not all seasonal myths conformed to the following pattern. I’m limiting this list to the ones that did.

PERSEPHONE

Pantheon: Greek (The Romans called her Proserpine)

The Tale: Persephone was the beautiful daughter of the goddess Demeter (Ceres to the Romans). Persephone caught the eye of Hades, the god who ruled over the realm of the dead. Overcome with lust Hades (Pluto to the Romans) emerged from his subterranean domain and stole Persephone away to his realm to become his Queen.

The Savior: Demeter went searching for her daughter throughout the world, often assuming the form of a mortal woman. Her search wore on and on with no results, causing Demeter to fall more and more deeply into despair. Because she was the goddess of nature that despair manifested itself in colder weather, in the leaves falling off the trees, other vegetation dying and some animals hibernating or migrating to flee the cold.  Continue reading

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