This blogpost is an open research topic into the tree of life and its relation to the mother goddess. Therefor this is not a written article but more a collection of information and snipets of thought for further study purposes.
It is used to understand the Mycenean lionsgate and its iconography and symbolism.
I propose that the Mycenean imagery is derived from Aker. The two snakes the snakes of the sundisk. The great mother, the sun and Cybele being a SUN symbol as the sun was female in ancient days and the moon god male (sin) That is why Lions are allways seen with female godesses.
The tree of life and the cross
Mayan World Tree
The Mayan believed heaven to be a wonderful, magical place on Earth hidden by a mystical mountain. They called this place Tamoanchan. Heaven, Earth, and Underworld (Xibalba) were connected by the ‘world tree’. The world tree grew at the locus of creation, all things flowing out from that spot into four directions. These were: East associated with red, North represented by white, West that is black and South that is yellow. The Mayan tree of life is a cross with its centre being the point of ‘absolute beginning’, the source of all creation and its branches passing through each of the three layers of existence – underworld, earth, and the sky.
Sumerians and Babylon Tree of Life
The oldest name of Babylon, Tin-tir-ki, meant ‘the place of the tree of life’. To the Babylonians, it was a tree with magical fruit, which could only be picked by the gods. The earlier Sumerian traditions played a major role in Babylonian culture. The early Sumerian art (around 2500 BC) depicts pictures of a pole or a tree called the ‘axis mundi’. Guarding this tree is a snake or a pair of intertwined snakes. Babylonians have the concept of the ‘navel of the world’, the place of the connection of different spheres. This vertical dimension, axis mundi, is the connection between three cosmic spheres: heaven, earth and underworld. The sacred mountain, the temple, the sacred city are all considered to be this Sacred Space, the axis mundi, the connection of the three cosmic dimensions.
Assyrians and Tree of Life
Assyrians substituted the tree for the caduceus with coiled snakes circling around the wood of the wand. Here we see a snake symbolising an underworld consciousness, passing through earth, climbing a stick, transcends to a winged reality, a heavenly creature. Wings on a wand became a symbol of transformation and transcendence.
Egyptian Tree of Life
In Egyptian mythology, the first couple are Isis and Osiris. They have emerged from the acacia tree of Iusaaset, which the Egyptians considered the tree of life. Egyptians considered the Tree of Life to be the tree in which life and death are enclosed. The direction East was associated with the direction of Life, the direction of the rising Sun, and the direction West was seen as the direction of death, of under-world, because Sun sets in the West. Egyptian creation myths refer to a serpent and a primordial egg, which contained a bird of light.
Within the Nordic cultures we also find a Tree of Life called Yggdrasil. It is a massive holy ash tree where Gods assemble daily. the tree provides a magical springwater of knowledge. An eagle is on the top of the tree and a serpent is coiled around the roots of the tree. The eagle and the snake hate each other.
On the top of the above tree is the symbol of Thor, the eagle. The dogs guarding the Tree emulate the guardian lions depicted in Byzantine works.
Chinese Immortality Tree
In Chinese mythology a Taoist story tells us of a peach magical tree that produces a peach every three thousand years. The one who eats the fruit becomes immortal. At the base of the Tree of Life is a dragon, and at the top is a phoenix (a bird). In Chinese cosmology, there are four Dragon Kings (Qin, Kuang, Jun and Xun), each with his own elemental domain.
Kabbalah Tree of Life
The jewish menora is the “tree of life” symbol.
Clear relation to Medusa in South american art
Ometeotl is God of…
- Heaven (Omeyocan, “Place of Duality”)
Equivalents in Other Cultures
Hunab Ku, Itzamna in Mayan mythology
The story of Huitzilopochtli fighting with Coyolxauhqui is the day fighting with the night. male to female. sun with moon. Coyolxauhqui was dismembered and decapitated by Huitzilopochtli . This is the exact same story as Perseus Slaying Medusa. The symbology is also exactly the same. Note the “running pose” of Coyolxauhqui and her belt of snakes, Exactly like Medusa on the greek temples. This beyond reason of doubt proofs there was some form of cultural relation perhaps by seafarers between the old world and the new world before columbus from the west. It also was populated from the east.
Coatlicue is the earth. With the snake heads Here we see also GEB with a snake head as earth. Coatlicue is a combination deity of sky and earth. NUT and GEB in 1. Like the eagle and the snake. The sky and the earth. Male and female. Together they birth their children, the sun and the moon
A seal from Vapheio (left) and a Minoan seal from Kydonia (right) (from Marinatos, 2010)
The godess and swastika(triskele) combined.
As the skies are allways revolving, the swastika and triskele imagery is just that, every going motion. Every going (re)creation
The double mountain
Of special note here is the “double mountain relief” Seen in Sumeria, Egypt, Mayan civilizations. With the sun in the middle, which is also depicted as aker, the two lions or two sides. We even see this in Mycenean civilization where the palace of the lion gate is situated between two mountains on the middle one. The lionsgate itself is again a representation of the great godess in the form of a pillar, like asherah was depicted as a pillar for the jews, and the menorah is the tree of life, with the 7 lights of the little dipper on its peak, the milkyway with a slit in the altar signifying her vulva and the lions of the side the two sides of the milkyway.
The two dragons, lions or other animals
The two dragons on enki’s shoulder are of particular relevance as that is the ecleptic, also depicted as AKER symbol, the two lions or sometimes other animals. We see this later also in the Budha who has the same dragons on his shoulders, then called makaras. Makaras appear again in Mayan Civilizations.
The Axe, or Labrys
Related to Labyrinth (the sky), again a reference to the two sides as probably would be the double headed eagle, from the bird on top of the mayan tree. The bird, comes from the little dipper containing the pole star. Quetzal Coatl, often translated as Feathered serpent, also means, Quetzal Twins. The quetzal being a bird, like stele 25 from Izapa where one sees two bird, respectively the female bird, the little dipper with the polesta at the back of the crocodile tree monster (note our christmas tree with star on top) , the milkyway, like the Hindu Makara and the right bird the male big dipper bird.
The water bottles, flowing waters or Shiva Nataraja Hair
Are also a recurring theme, to indicate water/flow, the milkyway was a river to the ancient. (the godess Ganga) hence the reference to water, but also a liking to a Makara, crocodile (sobek) or other aquatic animals like the egyptian Tawaret. The monster godess of childbirth.
The “Godess” who births (creates) and “takes Life” as a monster depicted.
Perseus, the sun, beheads “the monster” winter and life is abundant again. Or the Virgin summer/virgo, turns into a monster/winter. Osiris (orion), goes to the underworld, orion constellations moves to below the horizon. Capricorn the devil / goat in Hell etc etc. Jezus (orion) put in a “cave”
Ishtar was an important deity in Mesopotamian religion from around 3500 BCE, until its gradual decline between the 1st and 5th centuries CE with the spread of Christianity.
Ishtar is a Semitic name of uncertain etymology, possibly derived from a Semitic term meaning “to irrigate”. George A. Barton, an early scholar on the subject, suggests that the name stems from “irrigating ditch” and “that which is irrigated by water alone”, therefore meaning “she who waters”, or “is watered” or “the self-waterer”. (milkyway reference)
Old Babylonian relief from the early second millennium BCE showing Ishtar wearing a crown and flounced skirt, holding her symbol, currently held in the Louvre Museum
The relief is displayed in the British Museum in London, which has dated it between 1800 and 1750 BCE
Appearance: The hieroglyphic sign for “mountain” depicted to peaks with a valley running between them. This image approximated the hills that rose up on either side of the Nile valley.
Meaning: Although the djew hieroglyph did portray the mountain ranges the Egyptians saw in their everyday lives, it also was a visualization of their cosmic beliefs. Symbolically, the “mountain” was an image of the universal mountain whose two peaks were imagined to hold up the sky. The eastern peak was called Bakhu, to the west was Manu. The ends of this great mountain were guarded by two lions who were called Aker. Aker was a protector of the the sun as it rose and set each day.
Aker is one of the earliest Egyptian earth gods and is the deification of the horizon. He represents the horizon where the sun rises in the East and the sun sets in the West. He is believed to be protecting the sun god Ra, as he enters the netherworld during sunset and returns to the land of the living at sunrise. He is also believed to the guardian of the sun god against his enemy, the demon god Apep by imprisoning his coils to secure safe passage of Ra Only Aker can neutralize the bite of the snake demon god. His name may also be spelled as Akar which roughly translates into “he who bends”.
He was originally portrayed as a narrow strip of land with a lion or a human head at both ends facing away from each other (usually one faces the east and the other the west). Later, he is depicted as two lions facing opposite each other most commonly called Ruti (two lions). Lions were used because the summer solstice usually peaks at the time of the zodiac Leo. The Ruti carries on their back the hieroglyphic sign of the horizon with the sun with the sky above it. Later on, the lions were given names: Sef that means yesterday and Tuau that means today. The lions are often spotted like a leopard as representation of the now extinct Barbary lions. He also may be carrying the akhet – the symbol of the Egyptian sky. It is a solar disc supported between the two summits of the mountain djew. The western crest was called Manu, while the eastern summit was called Bakhu. These peaks cradled the sky as well. Sometimes, the heads of the lions may be that of men or women.
However, these lions were believed to be aggressive in nature when they are called Akeru (the plural form of Aker). The Pyramid Texts suggests that Akeru would not attack the king or the pharaoh but not necessarily the others. The texts further suggest that no one can escape the clutches of the two lions. The two lions were called Sef and Duau, which means “Yesterday” and “Today” respectively.
As Egyptians believed that the gates of the morning and evening were guarded by Aker, they often placed statues of lions at the doors of their palaces and tombs. This was to guard the households and tombs from evil spirits and other malevolent beings. Sometimes they gave these statues the heads of men and women. The Greeks called this class of statuary, “Sphinxes.”
The Egyptian necropolis was typically located in the mountainous desert and so the djew was also closely associated with the concepts of the tomb and of the afterlife. The god of mummification, Anubis bore the epithet, “He who is upon his mountain.” Hathor, the “Mistress of the Necropolis”, while in the form of a cow, was often shown emerging from the side of the western mountain.
Afghanistan: Scythian Gold ornament from Tillia Tepe
A seal from Vapheio (left) and a Minoan seal from Kydonia (right) (from Marinatos, 2010)
Other relevant finds are the gold seal from Turkmenistan Potna Therion, which is directly used to explain the lions gate at Mycenea (the deliberate slit in the altar)
And the Votive clay figure from Altyn Depe (the Golden Hill), Turkmenistan showing the two snakes with the godess like the minoan cult.
The pillar of life is directly related to the great godess and tree of life which is in turn the milkyway.
Votive clay figure from Altyn Depe (the Golden Hill), Turkmenistan.
Copyright © 2012 Ray Dickenson
Turkmenistan, ca 2000 BC, Schaffhausen (the great godess depicted half as tree of life half as godess)
Winged goddess with a Gorgon’s head wearing a split skirt and holding a bird in each hand, type of the Potnia Theron. Probably made on Rhodes. From Kameiros, Rhodes.
Multiple images of Potnia Theron
Who is Britannia?
Britannia is presented in mainstream circles as the female personification of Britain and has done so since the Romans invaded Britain in 43AD. She is depicted as a war like figure, wearing a Corinthians hat and brandishing a shield and trident. She is mostly associated with the sea and features in the popular song, Britannia rules the waves.
However, there is a deeper esoteric meaning behind the symbol which dates back to ancient times long before the Roman Empire was even thought of. The classic symbol of Britannia resembles the ancient Phoenician goddess, Barati, who was recogonised in the Indian Vedas as goddess of the waters.
Her name actually derives from an elite clan of the Aryans who settled in Sumeria around 7500 years ago. The clan was known as the Barats, thus Barati means “belonging to the Barats.” There is a suspicion that this powerful clan have infiltrated cultures and risen to power under another guise.
Goddess of the waters
The symbol of Barati certainly keeps appearing throughout the ancient empires. In ancient Vedic hymns she is called the “Holy Lady of the Waters,” and in the hymn “napat the Son of the Waters,” is hailed as the First-made mother. It is for this reason she is confused with Semiramis, Isis, Athena or Minerva, all of whom are the same goddess passed on through Babylon, Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire.
In ancient Egypt Barati was known as Bairthy, goddess of water and was depicted with a small pitcher balanced on her head, holding a long spear-like sceptre. In Greece she was the goddess Brito-Martis and is always depicted in arms. The Romans adopted the image as Fortuna – the goddess of Good fortune.
So we can see from ancient history, that the modern day symbol of Britannia represents the goddess of the sea and brings good fortune in the times of war – hence the lyrics, “Britannia rules the waves.” Given that modern day symbols used by the elite all come from ancient times yet we are never told what they really represent, it should come as no surprise that few Britons can actually identify a significant symbol in British history!
Artemis, Ashtoreth, Astarte, Atargatis, Athirat, Azzanathcona, Ceres, Cybele, Dana / Danann, Demeter, Easter, Eostre, Innana, Ishtar, Isis, Lilith
`Amazons’ and `Gorgons’
Chieftain / Warrior Goddess
`Tuatha Dé Danann’
From earliest times – 9,000 to 10,000 years ago – images of `The Goddess’ as Maiden, Chieftain or Mother were shown flanked by `royal’ leopards, panthers or lions, as seen in the above relics from the eastern Mediterranean & Black Sea area; i.e. Syria, Crete, and Anatolia.
She also ruled over plant & animal life & breeding and so is often shown with foliage & lambs / goats etc.
Some early images seem to show `sacred’ Twins (male) at one side, sometimes beside a column or upright beam.
Wild `sacred’ animals belonged to the Goddess; these were birds (owls and eagles), snakes, and bulls (often represented by the `votive horns’ seen above-center). Some of these animals were retained in her later incarnations – below.
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Fuenta magna bowl South America with sumerian writing showing the snake godess in squating / wide open legs pose.
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Simplified image of The Goddess – as Warrior or Chief – holding or restraining two lions, apparently used as identifying `seals’; either for individuals (priestesses), or for goods / cargo headed to or from `Great Goddess’ territories.
A similarly simplified image of The Goddess – as Warrior or Chief – holding or restraining two lions, on a c. 5,500 year old tomb in southern Egypt. I.e. – dating from well before the time of the pharaohs.
Great Goddess image survivals from – Syria, Spain, Mesopotamia (Iran), Greece (Sparta), central Egypt, Israel, Mycenaean Greece etc.
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Great Goddess Warrior images used a fear-symbol – probably by later patriarchal opponents – Etruria & Ireland
Mistress of the animals on Boiotian clay pyxis Antikensammlung Berlin
The Lion Gate of Mycenae
The Lion Gate of Mycenae was the entrance to the city. Atop the gate, two lions rampant are carved in stone relief. Similar bas-reliefs of two lions rampant facing each other are found in a number of places in Phrygia in Asia Minor.1
The Lion Gate of Mycenae
Arslantas, Rock-cut Phrygian tomb
“The resemblance in idea is complete,” wrote W. M. Ramsay in 1888.2 He considered the scheme “so peculiarly characteristic of Phrygia, that we can hardly admit it to have been borrowed from any other country.” He found himself “driven to the conclusion that the Mycenaean artists either are Phrygians or learned the idea from the Phrygians.”3 “It is not allowable to separate them [the Phrygian and Mycenaean monuments] in time by several centuries.”4
“The Phrygian monuments,” in Ramsay’s view, belong to the ninth and eighth centuries.5
. . . The end of the Phrygian kingdom is a fixed date, about 675 B.C.”6 when the invasion of Asia Minor by the Cimmerians put an end to the Phrygian culture and art. Ramsay went on:
The view to which I find myself forced is as follows. There was in the eighth century lively intercourse between Argos and Asia Minor: in this intercourse the Argives learned . . . to fortify their city in the Phrygian style with lions over the gate. Historically there is certainly good reason to assign at least part of the fortifications of Mycenae to the time when the Argive kings [the tyrants of the eighth century] were the greatest power in Greece [here follow the names of several authorities among the historians who hold the same view].8
On the other hand, the almost universal opinion of archaeologists rejects this hypothesis. . . .
I quote this opinion of Ramsay with the special intention of showing how this viewpoint was invalidated.
The Egyptologist Flinders Petrie made the following reply:
“[A] matter which demands notice is Professor Ramsay’s conclusion that the lion gateway is of as late a date as the eighth century B.C. This results from assuming it to be derived from Phrygian lion groups, on the ground of not knowing of any other prototype. As however we now have a wooden lion, in exactly the same attitude, dated to 1450 in Egypt . . . it seems that the Phrygian designs are not the only source of this motive for Mykenae.”10
In Egypt of the latter part of the Eighteenth Dynasty a single instance of a rampant lion (not two rampant lions facing each other as at Mycenae and in Phrygia) made Petrie claim Egypt as a possible place of origin of this image rather than Phrygia. He had discovered heaps of Mycenaean ware in Egypt of the time of Akhnaton. He could not but conclude that these heaps coming from Mycenae must be dated to the fourteenth century.11
Equally impressive was the discovery at Mycenae of a number of objects of Eighteenth-Dynasty date, such as objects bearing the cartouches of Amenhotep II, Amenhotep III, and Queen Tiy.12
Therefore Petrie decidedly opposed Ramsay in his estimate of eighth century for the Lion Gate and the fortification wall of Mycenae.13
Here is a case where evidence from Anatolia pointed to the eighth century;14 but the Egyptologist demanded of the classical scholar that he disregard this evidence in favor of the time scale of Egypt.
The debate between Ramsay and Petrie took place before Evans’ archaeological work on Crete; there rampant lions were found engraved on Late Minoan gems,15 conveying the idea that Mycenae must have borrowed the image from there, from a period well preceding the Phrygian models.16 Yet one should not lose sight of the fact that Crete’s chronology was also built upon relations with Egypt. In the section “The Scandal of Enkomi” we shall read how Evans objected to the chronological implications of Cypriote archaeology by stressing relations between the Egyptian and the Minoan (Cretan) chronologies on the one hand, and Minoan and Cypriote on the other. In Ages in Chaos it was shown in great detail why the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt must be placed in the latter part of the ninth century. Thus even if Crete was the original source of the motif, Mycenae and Phrygia both deriving it thence, the dependence of Cretan chronology on that of Egypt constitutes the crux of the problem.17
Let us keep in mind that in the 1880s and 1890s classical scholars of the stature of W. M. Ramsay (1851-1939) questioned the inclusion of the Dark Ages of several hundred years’ duration between the Mycenaean past and the Ionic age in Greece. And let us not overlook what was the supposedly crushing argument for wedging more than half a millennium into the history of ancient Greece.
Ramsay, “A Study of Phrygian Art,” Journal of Hellenic Studies IX (1888), p. 369. [Ramsay, “Studies in Asia Minor,” Journal of Hellenic Studies III (1882), p. 19—but see G. Mylonas, Mycenae and the Mycenaean Age (Princeton, 1966), p. 173.]
Ramsay, “A Study of Phrygian Art,” pp. 369-370. [Earlier representations of two rampant lions facing each other are known from Crete; however, it is for the carving technique on stone on a monumental scale that Mycenae seems to be indebted to Phrygia. For a link to Assyria, see L. M. Greenberg, “The Lion Gate at Mycenae,” Pensée IVR III, p. 26.]
[Emilie Haspels in Highlands of Phrygia (Princeton, 1971) dates the Phrygian reliefs at Arslan Tash to “the last third of the eighth century B.C., the period of the ‘Phrygian City’ of Gordion” (vol. I, p. 135; cf. vol. II, pl. 131-32). E. Akurgal, however, puts the same reliefs in the early sixth century, deriving them from Ionian, and ultimately Egyptian models—Die Kust Anatoliens von Homer bis Alexander (Berlin, 1961) pp. 86-90, 95. EMS ].
[Ramsey considered the Mycenaean relief “much more advanced in art” though “not necessarily later in date” than the Phrygian Lion Tomb: “Some Phrygian Monuments,” Journal of Hellenic Studies III (1882) p. 257. For evidence of Phrygian influence on eighth-century Greece, see R. S. Young, “The Nomadic Impact: Gordion” in Dark Ages and Nomads c. 1000 B.C.: Studies in Iranian and Anatolian Archaeology, ed. by M. J. Mellink (Leiden, 1964), p. 54.]
U. v. Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, “Oropos und die Graer,” Hermes XXI (1886), p. 111, n. 1, and idem, Isyllos von Epidauros (Berlin, 1886), p. n.1; B. Niese, Die Entwicklung der homerischen Poesie (Berlin, 1882), p. 213, n. 1. A. S. Murray and S. Reinach are also among those cited by Ramsay as concurring with his opinion (p. 370, n. 3).
Sir W. M. Flinders Petrie, “Notes on the Antiquities of Mykenae,” Journal of Hellenic Studies XII (1891), pp. 202-03. [Petrie also attempted to fix the dates of many of the finds from the Mycenaean tombs by comparing them with objects from Egypt whose antiquity he considered to be well-established.]
Cf. J. D. S. Pendlebury, Aegyptiaca (Cambridge, 1930), pp. 111ff. [V. Hankey and P. Warren, “The Absolute Chronology of the Aegean Late Bronze Age,” Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies (University of London) XXI (1974), pp. 142-152.]
Boardman notes that monumental sculpture of this kind is unknown in Greece from the time the Lion Gate of Mycenae was built until the eighth century: “More than five hundred years were to pass before Greek sculptors could [again] command an idiom that would satisfy these aspirations in sculpture and architecture.” Greek Art (New York, 1964), p. 22. [A few other 500-year enigmas appear at Mycenae. See below, Supplement, “Applying the Revised Chronology,” by Edwin Schorr.]
[Some of these gems were known even before Evans’ digs—see for instance the intaglio in G. Perrot and C. Chipiez, History of Art in Primitive Greece II (London, 1894), pp. 214 and 246, depicting two rampant lions facing each other in a way similar to that on the Lion Gate. Cf. also the gems shown in Corpus der minoischen und mykenischen Siegel, ed. F. Matz and H. Bisantz (Berlin, 1964) nos. 46, 144, 145, 172.]
[N. Platon, (“Cretan-Mycenaean Art,” Encyclopaedia of World Art IV [New York, 1958], p. 109) thought that “the technique of the execution [of the Lion Gate] is clearly inspired by Cretan sculpture.” But the Cretan sculptures, unlike those in Phrygia, are miniatures, and Platon needs to assume “the effective translation of a miniature theme into a major sculptural creation” (R. Higgins, Minoan-Mycenaean Art [New York, 1967], p. 92). Sandars in The Sea Peoples points out the similarity of the monumental carving style of the Lion Gate of Boghazkoi in central Anatolia to the Lion Gate of Mycenae.]
[The discovery of Late Helladic IIIB pottery in strata excavated underneath the gate is used to establish the date of its construction.] But this pottery, too, is dated on the basis of relations with Egypt.