The Tree of Life / Goddess / Great Mother / Pillar / Potnia Theron

This blogpost is a research post into the  (palm) tree of life symbolism with the combination of lions and gryphons and its personification as a god.

It tackles its depictions and forms in ancient cultures and its great importance in those ages. So important that that particular symbolism flanked the Mycenean Citadel. A symbolism that has never been attempted to be understood. I will try my best to give my interpretation and origins of this specific iconography that was used across the ancient world in many cultures and forms, even today.

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Shrine of the great deity Amun-Ra, with the goddesses Mersokar and Eileithya in the form of snakes on either side of the door. Above are the solar diskand the usual cornice of everliving uraei. (Leyden Museum.)

The lionsgate at Mycenae

The author  during a visit there in may 2016.  Fascinated  by the symbolism used in the ancient world and its meanings a research was initiated into the cross cultural usage of the tree of life symbolism in combination with the great godess symbolism to understand what exactly was depicted and how they might relate to each other.

Shrine of the great deity Amun-Ra, with the goddesses Mersokar and Eileithya in the form of snakes on either side of the door. Above are the solar diskand the usual cornice of everliving uraei. (Leyden Museum.)

Etruscan: The jaguar/leopard/cheetah spotted feline relief at the tree of life in the tomb

Etruscan tomb painting in Tarquinia, Italy


Image: Leopards again at the tree of life.

at the the burial chamber of King Midas . The grave goods are displayed in the well-designed museum 

Roman Royal Regalia


Lycian tombs


Griffins supporting a sacred tree Phoenician. Ca. 8th century B.C.-ivory


Persepolis Griffin

The Griffin, a combination of the earth Godess and sky god, in Lion and bird form respectively as earlier mentioned.


Reconstruction of the parthenon, note the pamette relief and the two gryphons at the edges, paws raised, like the Mycenea gate.

Columns of Egypt

The palm tree (and lotus) are the basis of pillars in (temple) architecture. This started in ancient Egypt, as did the Aker double lion symbol. 


Relatively modern bridge element in france (1857) combining a pamette and the double lions

Bridge Pannecau across Nive River, Bayonne
It combines the double lions aker symbol with the palmette

A handbook of Ornament by Franz Meyer (1898)

Stilfragen: Grundlegungen zu einer Geschichte der Ornamentik is a book on the history of ornament by the Austrian art historian Alois Riegl

The Migration of Symbols, by Goblet d’Alviella, [1894]

Lykian Tombs

Hittite tree of life

Hittite Hittite tree of life pictograph Karatepe, Turkey

Phoenician version, note the egyptian style influences.


Another Etruscan tomb,  called tomb of the liones but clearly also a leopard/jaguar as the other etruscan tomb. In this case a vase was used , a common replacement for the tree of life motif with the two flanking felines. Sadly the top part, in between the felines, is not discernible.

Europe, Italy, Lazio, Tarquinia, Necropolis Of Monte Calvario, Tomb Of The Lioness, Around 520 Bc  –  image credit:

The two (spotted) felines, flanking the tree of life is an ancient symbol. I suspect this goes back to the Aker symbol and the spots on the leopard/jaguar is related to the starry sky. For that same reason priest/magi in older cultures whore the leopard/jaguar skin on which I posted earlier. This symbolism carried over into the modern lions on crests and flanking the jewish Menora, which in my opinion, is also a stylized form of that same tree of life. The tree of life in turn is a symbol of life /time tself, every renewing itself. Hence the green evergreen pine as a symbol of the starry skies. The world tree is the tree and we are its fruits. That tree was revered in many cultures.

The jaguar/leopard relief is as old as Çatalhöyük 7500BC, in last image also seen in relation to a pillar/tree.

So why this leopard or jaguar? Because its spotted skin symbolized the stars. How do I know this? There are examples from egyptian priest wearing the skin and sometimes these spots are replaced by stars (like in  Çatalhöyük images). Many cultures had priest, royalty or sages wear the leopard skin, Egypt, Mayan, India and as you can see in the images the spots are the stars.

Quote: She is frequently shown dressed in a cheetah or leopard hide, a symbol of funerary priests. If not shown with the hide over a dress, the pattern of the dress is that of the spotted feline. The pattern on the natural hide was thought to represent the stars, being a symbol of eternity, and to be associated with the night sky.” Source:
The Jumilhac Papyrus describes the use of leopard skins.

 Seshat carved on the back of the throne of the seated statue of Rameses II in the Amun temple at Luxor. It dates from around 1250 BCE. Seshat and her tools. H. Peter Aleff. From his article: “Many Egyptologists have long speculated about the emblem which Seshat wore as her head dress. Sir Alan Gardiner described it in his still category-leading ‘Egyptian Grammar’ as a ‘conventionalized flower (?) surmounted by horns’. His question mark after ‘flower’ reflects the fact that there is no likely flower which resembles this design. Others have called it a ‘star surmounted by a bow’, but stars in the ancient Egyptian convention had five points, not seven like the image in Seshat’s emblem. This number was so important that it caused king Tuthmosis III (1479 to 1425 BCE) to call this goddess Sefkhet-Abwy, or ‘She of the seven points’.” In the same article Aleff himself describes the figure as “an accurate image of a hemp leaf”.
I earlier found this out by myself by looking at other leopard skins priests and the star pattern on it. Look closely at the carvings of the statues and you see will see the stars:

As Arthur J Evans writes, the Turkish, Mycenean and Etruscan imagery is derived from Aker.


A very interesting point is that the god BES Also wears the spotted leopard skin of the priests and is sometimes seen with a snakes around his waste. (like Ganesha wearing Vasuki) Not only is Bes in a lion shape, he also reminds me of Ptah in dwarf form. His face with sticking out tongue is remniscent of the gorgon as well, which in this form on the temple relief also wears a belt of snakes and has the flanking lions.

The only issue is that medusa is female and bes, clearly male with his phalus.








A later ivory box combines image similar to the lionsgate with egyptian images as a sort of transtition symbol. The two snakes the snakes of the later sundisk.

Ivory inlaid box, note the djed pillar and other egyptian symbolism


The mother godess flanked by her lions.

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.

These felines, flanking the tree of life have been used in the Pigna in Rome, a composition of the birds, lions and pinecone of objects from different era. Its identical.

It also was the precursor to the heraldic lions seen in many crest. Particularly note the sticking out tongue on the etruscan version and compare that to later modern versions.…3357.4653..5365…0.0..0.430.3817.4-9……1….1..gws-wiz-img.N5NY1NnwDQg

The animals flanking the tree of life, mostly lions
Pillar, Tree of life, the Great godess, (snake)Godess holding snakes flanked by lions = Universe. Here on this Cypriot seal we see the flanking lions, the pillar, but also the winged egyptian “sundisk” at the top.
Cypriot cornelian scarab seal with two lions before the Sumerian sacred tree under the winged sun disc.

The jewish menora is the “tree of life” symbol.

SUMERIAN Anonymous (3500 BCE – 2000 BCE); Tree of life with goats.; c. 3000 BCE; Sculpture; Earthenware; Chicago. Oriental Institute Museum.

Just like this modern jewish Menora image is a stylized tree of life with the lions. Looking at below images, its origin and relation are very obvious seen together. Remove the “branches” of the tree you have the Mycenean lions gate.

Its important to know that the great godess, tree of life, pillar  are all depictions of the same. The flanking lions or ibis play a role in the godess symbolism just as they play a role in the tree of life symbolism.

Throughout the symbols that copied it a pattern starts to emerge in how things are depicted.

  • Two lions (attributes, facing, away facing, spotted, tongue out, one paw up, on altar or object
  • Two Griffins. The Griffins are really a composite animal of the bird and lion symbolism we see. Bird for Skygod, Lion for earthgodess. This as such has not been documented elsewhere to my knowledge as the meaning and reason for the Griffins and is Stijn van den Hoven’s own research effort.
  • Sometimes animals like Ibis, or a combination of lions at the bottom and bird at the top, these last two are combined in the griffon form (lion + eagle)
  • A pillar, tree or godess in the middle
  • A vase
  • A Tree
  • A pillar
  • A flame
  • An altar or object the animals stand on
  • Two snakes, sometimes intwined
  • A star, or  winged disk on top, or jewish star

Numerous griphin images in same poses and same uniform art representation as listed earlier.


Sources on Griphon images above.

– Carved ivory plaque showing a winged griffin, found in Room SW 12 of Fort Shalmaneser. This object is now in the collection at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery accession number 1965A451.2 (ND 11099). This 2014 photo shows the ivory after undergoing conservation treatment at the museum. View large image. © Birmingham Museums.

Ivory furniture decoration from Nimrud carved in low relief with a rearing winged griffin facing left. One paw rests on a papyrus or lotus head, the other raised. 8th – 7th century BC.
Phoenician style © The Trustees of the British Museum

Plaque with griffin
Date:ca. 8th–7th century B.C.
Geography:Mesopotamia, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu)
Dimensions:1.85 in. (4.7 cm)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1958
Accession Number:58.31.5

Detail of a large stone lintel carved with a lion-griffin and lotus-filled vase in Room 10 in the ruins of the Great Iwan at Hatra, Iraq

– Carved ivory plaque showing a winged griffin, found in Room SW 12 of Fort Shalmaneser. This object is now in the collection at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery accession number 1965A451.2 (ND 11099). This 2014 photo shows the ivory after undergoing conservation treatment at the museum. View large image. © Birmingham Museums.

Ivory furniture decoration from Nimrud carved in low relief with a rearing winged griffin facing left. One paw rests on a papyrus or lotus head, the other raised. 8th – 7th century BC.
Phoenician style © The Trustees of the British Museum

Kümbet Lion Tomb Rock Cut Tomb in Eskişehir Province, Turkey

Plaque with griffin
Date:ca. 8th–7th century B.C.
Geography:Mesopotamia, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu)
Dimensions:1.85 in. (4.7 cm)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1958
Accession Number:58.31.5

– Carved ivory plaque showing a winged griffin, found in Room SW 12 of Fort Shalmaneser. This object is now in the collection at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery accession number 1965A451.2 (ND 11099). This 2014 photo shows the ivory after undergoing conservation treatment at the museum. View large image. © Birmingham Museums.

Ivory furniture decoration from Nimrud carved in low relief with a rearing winged griffin facing left. One paw rests on a papyrus or lotus head, the other raised. 8th – 7th century BC.
Phoenician style © The Trustees of the British Museum

Plaque with griffin
Date:ca. 8th–7th century B.C.
Geography:Mesopotamia, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu)
Dimensions:1.85 in. (4.7 cm)
Credit Line:Rogers Fund, 1958
Accession Number:58.31.5

Sarcophagus at the entrance of the museum of Delphi, Greece

Lycian Sarcophagus, end of the 5th century BC. Royal necropolis of Sidon – Lebanon. (Istanbul Archaeological museum)

Lycian Sarcophagus, end of the 5th century BC. Royal necropolis of Sidon – Lebanon. (Istanbul Archaeological museum) The ‘Lykian Sarcophagus’ from the Phoenician royal necropolis in Sidon. The tympanon of the lid shows two griffins, one male, one female, with eagles’ heads and spiked crests. End 5th BCE Marble from Paros, 296,5 × 253,5 × 137 cm Inv. 369 T Archaeological Museum, Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul, Archaeological Museum.


Although no lions, This one below is similar to the mesopotamian tree of life depiction of geni taking care of the tree of life.

The tree of life and the cross

Tree of life,  brightest planet  in heaven, (Venus- related again to female godess), pillars of sun and moon. arch of heaven, very masonic. note the christmass pine tree at the bottom

Mayan World Tree

Symbols and signs: Tree of Life - 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

symbols and signs: Egyption 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.

Nordic Ygdrassil

symbols and signs: Tree of Life - Norse Ygdrassil

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

Christian tree of life

Adam and eve

Its the goddess or pillar (milkyway)
Third picture, also from Archeology Bulgaria page, Silver a
The Indus Valley: Mohenjo-daro, Harappa – molded tablet showing a female deity battling two tigers and standing above an elephant. A single Indus script depicting a spoked wheel is above the head of the deity
An archaic Medusa wearing the belt of the intertwined snakes, as depicted on the west pediment of the Artemis Temple in Corfu, exhibited at the Archaeological Museum of Corfu Note the flanking lions again.

Medusa on vase, note the fish like legs as seen on starbucks siren

The godess or pillar flanked by lions

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)

First picture:
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

Second picture:
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
and many later cognomens


`Amazons’ and `Gorgons’
Aegean, Mediterranean, N Africa

Chieftain Goddess

Chieftain / Warrior Goddess


`Tuatha Dé Danann’
Western Europe, Ireland, Orkney

Maiden Goddess

Maiden Goddess

Mother Goddess

Mother Goddess

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.

The Great Goddess, in different countries and later epochs


The Goddess as Astarte of Phoenicia holding serpents - Elohim, Goddess of Animals           The Goddess as Cybele/Artemis of Izmir, Turkey           The Goddess in Phrygia, Anatolia           The Goddess in Minoan Crete

Fuenta magna bowl South America with sumerian writing showing the snake godess in squating / wide open legs pose.


The Goddess at Babylon

Minoan Mountain Goddess + Lions, with Votive Horns           The Goddess as Astarte of Ugarit, Syria           Egypt - Goddess, with a Snake and Lions, as Tefnut (at birth?) - Eye of Ra

Icons, Seals and Symbols for The Great Goddess

Indus Valley


Indus Valley Seal                     Indus Valley Seal2                     Indus Valley - Mohenjo Seal

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.

Ancient – Pre-Pharaonic – Egypt (shows LION + BULL)

Early Egyptian Tomb painting

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.

(Mouse-over for site names or other details)

Goddess as `Ishtar' w/lion - probably of Syria

Fountain at Almunecar           Mother Goddess w/ Lions - Anatolia

Carving at Susa, Mesopotamian Iran           Carving of Goddess as Artemis, Sparta           Knife-hilt from Abydos area

Maiden Goddess with lions - bronze coin           Goddess with snakes and lions           Mycenaean Goddess w/Lions           Goddess of Minoan Crete - w/Lions           Detail from Taanach Stand - Israel

Great Goddess Warrior images used a fear-symbol – probably by later patriarchal opponents – Etruria & Ireland

Warrior Goddess as `Gorgon' - Etruscans' name for their `Amazonian' enemy                               Warrior Goddess as `Sheel na Gig', a fear-figure of later Irish clerics

This is not a pillar at hatussa. Its a giant figure without a head, You see the arms. The hole is her womb / vagina. The head was taken of / destroyed as in muslim country Turkey.

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:

I do not think it is allowable to place the Mycenaean gateway earlier than the ninth, and it is more likely to belong to the eighth century.

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. . . .

Oriental influences found in the remains of Mycenae are “precisely what we should expect in a kingdom like the Argos of the eighth century,” when this kingdom had intercourse with Asia Minor, Phoenicia and Egypt. “I wish however to express no opinion here about the date of the Mycenaean tombs and about Mycenaean pottery, but only to argue that the fortifications of the Lion Gate belong to the period 800-700 B.C.”9

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.


  1. Cf. especially the relief on the “Lion Tomb” at Arslan Tash near Afyonkarahisar (fig.)

  2. 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.]

  3. 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.]

  4. Ibid., p. 70.

  5. [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 ].

  6. Ramsay, “A Study in Phrygian Art,” p. 351.

  7. [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.]

  8. 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).

  9. Ramsay, “A Study of Phrygian Art,” pp. 370-71.

  10. 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.]

  11. 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.]

  12. Cf. Pendlebury, Aegyptiaca, pp. 53-57; Hankey and Warren, “The Absolute Chronology of the Aegean Late Bronze Age.”

  13. 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.]

  14. [In The Sea People Sandars points out the stylistic similarity between the Lion Gate of Mycenae and the Lion Gate of Boghazkoi. EMS]

  15. [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.]

  16. [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.]

  17. [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.

Clear relation to Medusa in South american art

Aztec  Moon Goddess Coyolxauhqui – Temple Mayor Museum, Mexico City, 1400 A.D. (she is the one on the aztec sunstone!) Related to lava, obsidean altars and the earth. The Aztec Calendar Stone was carved from solidified lava in the late 15th century!!
Daughter of Coatlicue, who in turn is the female aspect of OmeTeotl a dualistic god (sky/earth or perhaps sun/moon)
This duality later transpires to sister/brother etc.

Ometeotl is God of…

  • Duality
  • Souls
  • Heaven (Omeyocan, “Place of Duality”)

Equivalents in Other Cultures

Hunab Ku, Itzamna in Mayan mythology

Coyolxauhqui, coatlicues daughter, is the Aztec goddess of the moon and the stars, is usually depicted with bells on her cheeks and surrounded by lunar symbols. According to some scholars, Coyolxauhqui may have represented a much earlier, female fertility cult.
Name and Etymology
“Bells of Gold”
Religion and Culture of Coyolxauhqui
Aztec, Mesoamerica
Symbols, Iconography, and Art of Coyolxauhqui
Coyolxauhqui is depicted with bells on her cheeks and surrounded by lunar symbols.
Although thought of as a young goddess, sometimes her images show her as very old with sagging breasts. A massive statue of her unearthed in 1978 shows her with severed head and hands, just after Huitzilopochtli finished with her.
Both children of coatlicue
Sun and Moon

Huitzilopochtli, also spelled Uitzilopochtli, also called Xiuhpilli (“Turquoise Prince”) and Totec (“Our Lord”), Aztec sun and war god, one of the two principal deities of Aztec religion, often represented in art as either a hummingbird or an eagle.

Huitzilopochtli’s name is a cognate of the Nahuatl words huitzilin, “hummingbird,” and opochtli, “left.” Aztecs believed that dead warriors were reincarnated as hummingbirds and considered the south to be the left side of the world; thus, his name meant the “resuscitated warrior of the south.” His other names included Xiuhpilli (“Turquoise Prince”) and Totec (“Our Lord”). His nagual, or animal disguise, was the eagle.

Huitzilopochtli’s mother, Coatlicue, is one aspect of the Aztecs’ multidimensional earth goddess; she conceived him after having kept in her bosom a ball of hummingbird feathers (i.e., the soul of a warrior) that fell from the sky. According to tradition, Huitzilopochtli was born on Coatepec Mountain, near the city of Tula.

Huitzilopochtli’s brothers, the stars of the southern sky (Centzon Huitznáua, “Four Hundred Southerners”), and his sister Coyolxauhqui, a moon goddess, decided to kill him. He foiled their plot and exterminated them with his weapon, the xiuh cóatl (“turquoise snake”).

Huitzilopochtli is presented as the deity who guided the long migration the Aztecs undertook from Aztlan, their traditional home, to the Valley of Mexico. During the journey his image, in the form of a hummingbird, was carried upon the shoulders of priests, and at night his voice was heard giving orders. Thus, according to Huitzilopochtli’s command, Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital, was founded in 1325 ce on a small, rocky island in the lake of the Valley of Mexico. The god’s first shrine was built on the spot where priests found an eagle poised upon a rock and devouring a snake, an image so important to Mexican culture that it is portrayed on the national flag of Mexico. Successive Aztec rulers enlarged the shrine until the year Eight Reed (1487), when an impressive temple was dedicated by the emperor Ahuitzotl.


The Aztecs believed that the sun god needed daily nourishment (tlaxcaltiliztli) in the form of human blood and hearts and that they, as “people of the sun,” were required to provide Huitzilopochtli with his sustenance. The sacrificial hearts were offered to the sun quauhtlehuanitl (“eagle who rises”) and burned in the quauhxicalli (“the eagle’s vase”). Warriors who died in battle or as sacrifices to Huitzilopochtli were called quauhteca (“the eagle’s people”). It was believed that after their death the warriors first formed part of the sun’s brilliant retinue; then after four years they went to live forever in the bodies of hummingbirds.

The story of Huizilopochtli 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

British Museum – Banded agate seal-stone Mycenean, about 1500-1400 BC From Ialysos (modern Triánda), Rhodes, Aegean Sea

The sun was displayed as a rosette. Like Sumeria ‘watches’ fertility.

Rosette sunwindow symbolism.

Potnia Theron. Great mother goddess like kybelle. Note lions. She is also pillar of heaven, the universe.

Knossos palace reproduction. Sacred bull taurus.

The swirls on sphinxes is like the Aker symbol swirls. Related to the sun at summersolstice, Leo and virgo. Hence the female sphinx of Greece. The flame on head is hair not flames. It are female sphinxes. Note the bulls horn symbol like in Crete.

Solar swirl

Aker, predecessor of lions next to tree of life or pillar. Note solar swirl. The double mountain image became bulls horn symbol.

Hathor with solar disk. Sun passes through taurus horns on ecliptic.

Amit with solar swirl on lion part.

Minoan palace with bulls horns.

detail of a Byzantine mosaic dating to the 12th century AD, Palermo, Sicily.

The lion became one of the favourite Byzantine motifs adopted by the Norman court in Sicily. It became a symbol of the status of the Norman rulers who considered themselves the equals of the Imperial court at Byzantium.

(Image source: illus B, p. 118 The Book of Art. Volume 1. Origin of Western Art, published by Grolier. ISBN 0671670077)

Left, detail of a Byzantine mosaic dating to the 12th century AD, Palermo, Sicily.   The lion became one of the favourite Byzantine motifs adopted by the Norman court in Sicily. It became a symbol of the status of the Norman rulers who considered themselves the equals of the Imperial court at Byzantium. (Image source: illus B, p. 118 The Book of Art. Volume 1. Origin of Western Art, published by Grolier. ISBN 0671670077)
Left, Byzantine panel from the screen at Torcello, Italy. It dates to the early 11th century AD.     (Image source: plate 4, A History of Venice, JJ Norwich. ISBN 0140066233)
The Tree of Life
The Sumerians
© Andreas Petersen- Full Wallpaper available Here  
The Sumerian Tree of Life
In Art
Alan Peters     This image was found while searching for Sumerian Sacred Trees, but as yet we have not been able to document its use as such. The article did not offer any text with this picture. It was interesting enough to include while we seek its origin.
The Sumerian Tree of Life
On Cylinder Seals
    There are several later paintings and drawings of the Tree of Life, but this Sumerian Clay tablet (however crude it might appear) is one of the earliest, if not the first. It is among the original Sumerian Cylinders and clay tablets excavated circa 2, 500 BCE.   The clay tablet is prepared by rolling the carved metal seal on wet clay, which is then baked. Once baked the tablet cannot be altered.  The original Sumerian (Indo-Iranian) concept was that wisdom is likened to a tree whose fruit endows those who eat it with health and longevity. The symbol of an elixir of life had already been well established in antiquity by the Indo-Iranian cultures long before Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other cultures had the opportunity to recognise it. This 4,500 year old clay tablet shows a man and a woman seated below the Tree of Life. Behind the woman is seen a serpent allegedly ‘tempting’ the woman. This concept was expurgated in the Bible as the tree of life in the Garden of Eden by the Jews and Christians.  The Book of Genesis 3.22 mentions such a tree as ‘the giver of eternal life.’ This article was posted on on July 11, 2005
 It has been printed courtesy Spring 2005 issue of the FEZANA Journal.    

The Akkadian Tree of Life
This illustration shows that the World-Tree continued to be an important part of the non-Sumerian belief system in Mesopotamia.     
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