In the core body of Japanese mythology, lies a number of myths and legends that are similar to Indo-European mythologies. Myths and oral traditions about a Primordial pair (and the churning of the ocean of milk), a storm god Susanoo as well as Raijin, rival brothers, oni demons like the Uighur/Ogur ones, Yama deity, subterranean Land of Yomi for example, the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, Xi wang Mu, earth, grain and hearth goddeses, Ryujin the Sea-King, and there are many more… It is a most tantalizing task to speculate on the route by which these “foreign” deities and mythical motifs arrived in Japan.
“LANGUAGES AND LEGENDS; THE MOTHER TONGUE, MIGRATIONS, AND MYTHS” states that
“An exhaustive analysis shows for the first time that the principal gods, goddesses, heroes and demons belong to just six generations of one family. Examples of names and themes found in both Indian and the other mythologies are given.
The sources of Irish mythology are summarized… Genealogical listings are confused and of little value but links with other Indo European mythologies, including Persian and Indian, are clear.
Germanic mythology is primarily Norse and the best known sources are the Poetic and Prose Edda which originated in Iceland. But major source of similar age which is apparently little recognised is the “History of Denmark” of Saxo Grammaticus. These and other sources are summarized and analyzed. Numerous links with other Indo European mythologies are identified.
[myth more from linked Germanic/Norse page: “… both individual names and family relationships are important in understanding Indo European mythologies and Norse mythology makes significant contributions in this area. In particular, as we have noted elsewhere, the oldest name of the Norse King of the Gods, Gwoden, is identical in form to one of those of the Indian King of the gods, Gadhin (though usuallly called Indra), and to that of the Welsh wizard, Gwydion….
The Name of the King of the Gods: As we have noted several times, the oldest form of the name of the Norse King of the gods is Gwoden, and this is essentially identical with Gadhin, one of the names of the Indian King of the gods, Indra. It is also the same as that of the Welsh wizard, Gwydion.
Goats For Horses: Thor, as is well-known, has a chariot drawn by two goats; this is not discussed or explained. The Indian Pushan also has a cart drawn by two goats, a fact which is also not explained. We do not identify Pushan with Thor, but this is so distinctive that it is a probable element of an original Indo European myth.
Creation of the World: There is a remarkable similarity between the Norse sacrifice of the giant Ymir and of the Indian Brahma to create the world.
To quote, “Of Ymir’s flesh the earth was shaped. The barren hills of his bones; and of his skull the sky was shaped, of his blood the briny sea”. And of Brahma “The mountains were his bones. The earth was the suet and the flesh. The oceans constituted his blood and the firmament his belly …. The sky is the crown of his head. ….”
The Two Races: The conflict of two separate peoples who finally join in marriages is found in several mythologies.
In Norse are the Aesir and the Vanir. In Indian we have the Asuras and the Devas. Note here that the Asura are the demons so that there is some role reversal, but this is similar to Persian where the Ahuras are the gods and the Daevas (including Indra) are demons. And in Irish we have the Tuatha de Danann and the Sons of Mil.
The names do not match exactly though we believe that it is likely that the Norse “Vanir” derived from a corruption of some from like “Danavanir”.
The Sacred Drink: The origin of the sacred Soma of India (Haoma in Persian) is told in several different forms, and most commonly it is created in the “Churning of the Ocean but one version says that it was stolen by Indra, the King of the Gods, from “the heavenly Gandharva”…
The Rival Brothers: Several Indo European mythologies have accounts of one of the most prominent legends, that of the rival brothers who both support and fight with each other. However, Norse legend is of particular interest because it preserves names that are generally not found elsewhere and describes a distinctive example of the conflict.
The Norse legend tells of Odin and his wife Frigg overlooking the affairs of two brothers called Geirrodr and Agnar; these are either the foster sons or true sons of the God and Goddess. Their rivalry is clear from an early age when both are adrift alone in aboat, and when it reaches a shore, the elder, Geirrodr, pushes the boat and his brother back out to seas. … The conflict between the brothers is told in several ways in Indian legend, for example as the fight between Balin and Sugriva that is matched by the Arthurian story of the two brothers called Balin and Balan who mistakenly kill each other. However, searching for the alternative names for the brothers in India legend shows that these include Garuda and Agni, an excellent match for the Norse names. There are in fact at least nine examples of matching brotherly conflicts and names in Celtic, Indian, and Norse, some of which are more convincing than other. ] Back to the main page on Languages and Legends…
“The study of Greek mythology shows … clear evidence of a merging of male-dominated Indo European stories with a prior strong female influence from the Mycenaean civilization. [at the linked Greek mythology page: we have a another clear correspondence between Greek and Indian. There are, in fact, quite a number of correspondences between the legends but some require fairly complicated arguments which we cannot enter into here. The simply stated points are that Perseus cut off the head of an evil woman called Medusa with a sickle. And in Indian legend Parashurama cut off his mother’s head (at his father’s request )because she had behaved improperly; and the weapon was called a “parshu” which means either an ax or a sickle. And though we do not have a direct illustration, the complex origin of names in India means that Parashurama’s foster-mother’s name could have been Medhasa. … One of the most distinctive Indo European stories is of the hero who is almost invulnerable but who has one fatal weak spot. This legend appears in Greek myth in the story of Achilles, in Indian with Krishna, and in Germanic with Siegfried. …
…the beautiful second wife of Brahma was called Gayatri; and we believe that one of then other names of Brahma was “Varuna”. The similarity between Varuna and the Greek name of Uranus has been noted for a long time, and the name of his wife is “Gaia”.
The second is that in one of the Greek creation myths the goddess Eurynome uses the great serpent, Ophion to hatch an eggs from which comes the sun and planets. But Ophion, in jealousy, claims to be the creator and Eurynome kicks out his teeth. And in one Indian myth the creator, usually called Brahman, is called Pushan; and Pushan is toothless because his teeth are kicked out by Shiva who is not invited to Pushan’s feast.]
The importance of Persian mythology lies both in its close relationship to Indian and in the differences between them. The similarities are analyzed and it is clear that the two accounts are written from different sides of a major dispute; this is shown by the occurrence of the name Indra of the Indian King of the Gods as that of a lesser Persian demon. …There are many close links to Indian names and events, but also to other Indo European mythologies.”
The above article also examines the links “between ancient Akkadian and modern Hebrew and Arab languages” and “the links for ancient, hieroglyphic Egyptian and the related modern Coptic … The age of Akkadian is fairly well identified as about 2300 BC or 4300 BP (before the present)” which is deemed to be “different from the value of 2240± 140 years derived from our detailed analysis of the well-established Indo-European languages”.
A new study asserts that “Indo-European languages originated between 8,000 and 9,500 years ago in Anatolia”, see the Washington Post article below.
Indo-European languages started in Turkey, study finds By Hristio Boytchev, Published: August 24
Summary: Indo-European languages originated between 8,000 and 9,500 years ago in Anatolia, an Asian peninsula that is in modern-day Turkey, according to a study published in the magazine Science. The findings of an international team led by a lecturer at the University of Auckland in New Zealand support the “Anatolian hypothesis,” and run counter to the “Steppe hypothesis,” which suggests that language originated 6,000 years ago in the steppes of Russia. “Archeologists and linguists have had different favorite theories on the language origins,” said linguist Michael Dunn, co-author of the study. “But now, new research like ours provides linguistic support for the Anatolian hypothesis.” The Washington Post (8/23)
Researchers identify present day Turkey as origin of Indo-European languages By Hristio Boytchev, Published: August 24
By using novel methods developed for tracing the origins of virus outbreaks, researchers say they have identified present-day Turkey as the homeland of the Indo-European language family.
The international team, led by Quentin Atkinson, a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, used computational methods analyzing words from more than 100 ancient and contemporary languages, as well as geographical and historical data. By doing so, the scientists say they have pinned down the origin, about 8,000 years ago, of the largest global language to the region of Anatolia.
The results, published in Friday’s issue of the magazine Science, coincide with the “Anatolian hypothesis.” Based on archeological data, it states that Indo-European languages spread with the expansion of agriculture from Anatolia, beginning 8,000 to 9,500 years ago.
The prevailing theory among linguists, however, is the “Steppe hypothesis,” explained Michael Dunn, a linguist the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, Netherlands. The hypothesis is based primarily on an approach to reconstruct the ancestral language. By doing so, linguists have found that most Indo-European languages have related words for “wheel” and “wagon.” This points to the steppes of present-day Russia, 6,000 years ago, as the birthplace of the language family, because this is where the widespread use of chariots, an important technological advance, is thought to have originated.
“Archeologists and linguists have had different favorite theories on the language origins,” said Dunn, a co-author of the recent paper. “But now, new research like ours provides linguistic support for the Anatolian hypothesis.”
The present study builds upon previous work from Atkinson that came to similar conclusions in 2003. It did not, however, include geographical data, as the new study does.
The study is the first to use the novel methods on the Indo-European languages, a family of more than 400 tongues including English, Persian and Hindi. The languages are spoken on every continent by a total of 3 billion people.
“This paper provides strong statistical evidence that unequivocally supports the Anatolian hypothesis,” said Andrew Kitchen, a postdoctoral scholar at Pennsylvania State University, who uses similar research methods.
Yet Dunn does not expect the controversy to be settled, as supporters of the Steppe hypothesis continue collecting evidence strengthening their line of thought. “These things take a lot of time in science, but in the long run, I would bet on our theory,” Dunn said. “You just can’t explain away the data.”
(Source reprint permission)
The role of Anatolia in diffusing myths:
Hattic land=Anatolia see Faces of the Hamitic People R1b related to the Mongols? Pictured in Egyptian paintings as wearing pigtails, slanting eyes with high cheekbones
Anatolia from the end of the Hittite Empire to the Achaemenian Period
With the end of the Hittite empire, Anatolia and the whole of the ancient Middle East were severely shaken. Migratory groups of the Sea Peoples moving along the south coast of Anatolia and the seashore of Syria and Palestine caused great havoc and upheaval. The Sea Peoples followed the ancient trade route between the Greek Mycenaean world and the coastal cities of Syria, the commercial centers of the Middle East. The geographic characteristics of Anatolia facilitated the west-east connection, while the mountain ranges along the northern Black Sea coast and the southern Mediterranean hampered the traffic between north and south.
Anatolia functioned as a bridge connecting the Greek world in the West with the great empires of the East. When migrating groups passed over this bridge, some of their people often remained and settled, as had occurred when the Hittites entered Anatolia. The Hittite king Suppiluliumas I (Shuppiluliumash, Subbiluliuma) dominated the history of the Middle East during the 14th century BC, although the dates of his reign are in question. He was originally thought to have ascended the throne about 1380 and to have reigned for roughly four decades, but some scholars now argue for a much shorter reign, from about 1343 to either 1322 or 1318. The son of Tudhaliyas III, in whose company he had gained military experience before ascending the throne, Suppiluliumas spent the first few years of his reign consolidating the Hittite homeland and improving the defenses of Hattusas; it may have been at this time that the greatly extended circuit of city walls was built, enclosing an area of more than 300 acres (120 hectares). He then applied himself to the task of settling accounts with Mitanni, the principal enemy of his immediate predecessors. After an abortive attempt to approach Syria by the conventional route through the Taurus passes and Kizzuwadna, Suppiluliumas attempted a more carefully prepared attack from the rear by way of Malatya and the Euphrates valley. He met little resistance and was able to enter and sack the Mitannian capital, Wassukkani (possibly located near the head of the Khabur River near modern Diyarbakr). West of the Euphrates, most of the North Syrian cities hastened to offer their submission. The king of Kadesh put up some resistance but was defeated, and the Hittite armies penetrated southward, almost to Damascus. Source: History of the Hittites
Read about the theorized connection between Heth, the Hittiees, the Khatti, or Hatti and the Mongoloids and Khittai (Khitan), see Faces of the Hamitic People by Khamit Raamah Kushpp. 78-79:
“Heth was the progenitor of the Hittite nation, whose name was known to the Assyrians as the Khatti. The Amarna tablets contain letters that were sent from the Hittite emperor Suppiluliuma to the pharoah Amenhotep IV. Ramesses II also tells ush ow he engaged the Hittite in what was the earliest recorded battle involving massed chariots. Representations show them to have possessed high cheekbones, and cranialogists have observed that they had a few characteristics of Mongoloids. More recently, another possible corroborating link appears in the discovery that the Hitties mastered the art of casting iron and the taming of horses. In some Egyptian paintings, they are portrayed with two distinct facial features. The typical one has a high cheekbone, oblique eyes, and wears the hair in a pigtail style, and the other has a clean-cut head and nose. Apparently, Heth produced two distinct tribes.
.. (Judges 2:3 quoted) “It appears that those Canaanites remaining among Israel were tolerated and, in some rare instances were even given positions of respect and responsibility. Also, it seems that of the Canaanite nations, only the Hittites maintained prominence and strength as a nation. Two Hittites were soldiers, possibly officers, in David’s army namely Ahimelech and Uriah. Uriah was a man zealous f
for the victory of Israel over its enemies and one who observed the Law. David had relations with Bath-sheba, the wife of Uriah, and subsequently had Uriah put into a danerous position in battle, where he was killed. For this, David was punished by God. In Anatolia, the land of the Hittites (a part of whatis now called Turkey) in Asia Minor, many ancient texts have been unearthed at Bogazkoy, formerly called Hattushash. It was the capital of a land that modern scholars have called Hatti and whose inhabitants spoke “Hattic”. These early people were evidently overrun by conquerors that brought in a different language,
which according to scholars, was a n Indo-European language. This language used cuneiform script and is called cuneiform Hittite. Later, a yet-different I-E language using hieroglyphic script superseded the cuneiform script, and this language is referred to as hieroglyphic Hittite.
A people descended from Canaan the son of Ham, they inhabited the city of Shechem. A t Genesis 36:2, Zibeon, the grandfather of one of Esau’s wives, is called a Hivite. But verses 20 and 24 list him as a descendent of Seir the Horite. The word Horite may be derived from the Hebrew word chor (“hole”) and may mean merely “cave dweller”. This would eliminate any seeming discrepancy between the texts at Genesis 36:2 and veses 20, 24.
Archeaeologists have unearthed ancient writings that scholars have interpreted as proof that a nation called Hurrians inhabited the regions of Armenia, Anatolia, Syria, and parts of Palestine from patriarchal times and believe that this people included the Hivites, Horites and Jebusites. They equate Horite with Hivite and believe that some Hurrians came to be called Hivites. Their theory is based to a great extent on linguistic similarities, particularly in proper names. The name Horite is, therefore, generally thought by them to be related to Hurrian rather than to mean “cave dweller”.
His descendants are known as the Sinites; the Sidonian called them Usnu, and some some refer to them as Usana and Siannu. Gessenius identifes Sinim with China. Others also identify it with Sinae China.
Further the Greeks and Arabs at one time referred to China as Sin. At one stage, southern China was actually known as Sinai according one ancient India as described by Ptolemy, which had some tribes of Ikhthyophagi Aithiopes–that is , the dark-skinned fish eaters. Many of the early traders with the Scythians were known as the Sinae with a capital at Thinae, modern Thsin in Shensi Province. From here, we get the dynasty of Tsin, called by the Malays Tchina, and so it remains today: China. Of further interest is that the Chinese regard Siang-Fu (father Sin), capital of Shensi province, as the origin of their civilization. It is evident that the Sinites spent some time in China anciently and gave their name to China.
In Egyptian monuments, the Hittite peoples were depicted with prominent noses, full lips, high cheekbones, hairless faces, straight hair, sometimes wearing their hair in a pigtail, and dark brown eyes. The term Hittite in cuneiform appears as Khittae, representing a once powerful nation from the Far East known as the Khitai, and has beenpreserved through the centureis in the more familiar term Cathay. The Cathay were Mongoloids, considered a part of the early Chinese stock. There are links between the known Hittites and Cathay–for example, their modes of dress, their shoes with turned up toes, their manner of doing hair in a pigtail, and so forth. Representations show them ot have possessed high cheekbones, and craniologists have observed that they had common characteristics of Mongoloids. It may also be possible that the descendants of these two brothers intermarried and formed a new tribe of people.
Source: Faces of the Hamitic People by Khamit Raamah Kush
The article Indo-European Creation Myth in Hebrew and Phoenician states that:
“The Indo-European myth of creation or Primal Cow Creation Myth was borrowed into some of the Western Semitic Languages at a very early time. The similarity has been noticed before by a number of authors, but the connection to the Primal Cow Creation Myth was perhaps overlooked. This article shows that this Proto-Indo-European Myth has been borrowed into the Semitic languages, and appears in the Bible, and may possibly be the source of the creation myth in Genesis.
There are three main sources of information about the west Semitic creation myth in which a being called Yam (or Yama or Ymn in some dialects) is dismembered and the world is created from his body. From the Ras Shamra tablets, written in the Ugaritic language (an early form of Phoenician), comes the story of the conflict between Baal and Yam. From late classical Greek sources comes a series of creation stories, actually genealogies of the Gods, as they are attributed to the Phoenicians. However these stories are told in Greek and most of the actual Phoenician forms of the names of the Gods are not given. And finally, in the Hebrew of the Old Testament of the Bible, the speaker of Psalm 74 praises a god (“Elohim” in this case) by describing how he overcame Yam and perhaps some other beings and fed them either “to the sharks” or “to the people in the wilderness” depending on the translation (which varies widely). The Psalm then goes on to describe the creation of the world. A more detailed discussion follows here.
A Phoenician Myth in the Ugaritic texts of the Ras Shamra tablets
In an early Canaanite myth, the God Baal kills Yam and scatters his body, according to J. C. L. Gibson in Canaanite Myths and Legends. One of the major sources of Phoenician or Canaanite myth is the collection of tablets found at Ras Shamra, written in a cuneiform of only 30 signs. Although the signs are fairly easy to make out, the text is not because it is written without vowels, so the exact words cannot be determined with certainty. The Ras Shamra tablets date to between the 15th and 12th centuries (experts vary). This myth is often said to describe a battle between Baal and the Sea, however the translation by J. C. L. Gibson clearly describes the slaughter or a cow or other domestic animal, although Gibson does not say so. The conflict between Baal and Yam (2, i, iv) is described on page 44-45. In this text, judge Nahar (nahr ‘river’) is another name for prince Yam (yam ‘sea’ or ‘lake’)… Philo of Byblos, writing in the Phoenician History in the 2nd century CE, quotes extensively from what he says is ancient Phoenician lore….some excerpts were quoted by Eusebius, a hostile Christian …it seems that the Greek God Poseidon may correspond to a Phoenician sea-god, and further that the Dioskuri (usually called the Gemini in Latin) also corresponded to Phoenician sea-gods since they are said to have invented boats. Poseidon was the ruling God of the city of Beirut according to the coinage, and although the name Poseidon is usually thought to be Greek, it may have been Phoenician in origin. Baumgarten recognizes a similarity to the conflict between Baal and Yam in the wars between Poseidon and Demarous (p. 236, The Phoenician History of Philos of Byblos)”
The article also theorizes that the stories “provide an origin for the story of Creation in Genesis, in which the sea is divided in two and then the world is created from it. It seems possible that the word Yam(a), the name of a bovine called *Yama in the Indo-European Languages was misinterpreted as meaning “sea” when the story was borrowed into some west Semitic languages. A theoretical alternative is that the name of Yam was misinterpreted as the name of a bovine creature when the story was borrowed into the Indo-European languages. On balance, the first possibility seems more likely because the early descriptions in Phoenician and in Hebrew (Psalm 74) clearly describe the slaughter of an animal, which is then divided into pieces.”
Read more about the Yama-bovine creation myth at Creation Myth of the Indo-Europeans
The same piereligion.org website has a page “Proto-Indo-European goddesses” that describes the female hearth/sun/grain goddes cults, that have affinities with the goddesses of Japan (Toyo-Uke-Bime/Japanese goddess of earth and food and agriculture and Toyouke-Omikami/Japanese goddess of grain) and also Marici/Goddess of dawn; Marisha-Ten/the Japanese queen of heaven, goddess of light, of sun and moon, not forgetting Amaterasu the pre-eminent Sun Goddess):
“*Aeusos with a reconstructed form *Haéusōs is a Goddess of the Sun and Hearth Fire. More broadly, the name is applied to certain specific Goddesses, usually the Sun, the stars (especially the planet Venus). The same word is also used for a class of gods (‘those that shine with a golden light’); and a general word for ‘a god, any god or goddess.’ These words are also used as an honorific for human beings of high rank, e.g ‘lady, lord.’ These Gods are general to the Indo-Europeans, but they are strongly affected by the Pandemonium. There are two main reconstructions. One is associated with heavenly bodies and means ‘Sun, Stars and Dawn’ (‘that which glows, shines with a golden light’) and the other with ‘Fire, Season of Warmth’ (‘that which burns’, with a transitive verb ending, -ta), however both forms can appear as either a Sun Goddess or a Hearth Fire Goddess. The deities are listed here but described more fully in the article *Aeusos.
*Haéus(ōs), is usually a Sun Goddess (p. 409, 410, 432, Oxford Introduction) with forms in Hittite, aššu ‘lord, God’; Sanskrit, Ushās, Goddess of Dawn, but later the Ashuras are demonized; Avestan, Ahura Mazda, the good god of the Zoroastrians, and ahura, a good spirit; Greek, Éōs, a Dawn Goddess; and Latin, Aurōra, a Dawn Goddess. Gallic Esus is a God of Hearths; and Old Norse, Aesir (pl.), and Old English Ôs (m.sg.) and Ose (f.sg.), are general words for ‘a god, any god or goddess.’ Slavic, Jarilo or Iaro, is a God of Summer; and Lithuanian Aušra is ‘dawn’; while both Latvian Auseklis, and Lithuanian Aušrinė are Goddesses of the Morning Star, i.e. the planet Venus. The form Arap Ushas appears in Albanian folklore, but there it is a name of the Moon.
A Hearth Goddess is reconstructed as
*Haeust(e)ro (p. 294, 301, Oxford Introduction, but see the form “*as-t-r, with intrusive -t- [between s and r] in northern dialects” given on p. 702 and 780, in Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans by Gamkrelidze and Ivanov, hereafter abbreviated G&I). She is seen in the Anatolian dialects as Estan, Istanus, Istara; in Sanskrit, Atri, fire but demonized and replaced with Agni; Avestan Atar, sacred fire of the Zoroastrians; Greek Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth; Latin Vesta, Goddess of the Hearth; and in Old English Eostre, modern English Easter, Goddess of Spring. Armenian Astghik is a Star Goddess; and the Tibetan Buddhist Goddesses like Green Tara are protective deities connected to stars or the planet Venus.
*Arta is one of the most important of the Proto-Indo-European Goddesses and very easily reconstructed on both linguistic and comparative religion grounds. There is a very brief mention of some of the forms of her name in the article on Proto-Indo-European Ritual. The Sun and Moon are her children, for example in Welsh myth they are the children of Arianrhod, see How Lleu Llaw Gyffes Got His Name for a retelling in English of this myth.
Devis and Devas are found among all the Indo-Europeans, and the word is often used as a general word for ‘a god, any god or goddess’ and sometimes for a specific Goddess or God. These words are also used as an honorific for human beings of high rank, e.g ‘lady, lord.’ Here again, the use of this word as a general word for any deity is affected by the Pandemonium. The forms of her in each Indo-European language are discussed more fully in the article *Devi. Note also that in Sanskrit, Avestan and Hindi, words that end in -a are masculine and -i is feminine. In the western languages the situation is reversed, so that words that end in -a are usually feminine and words that end in -i, or more often -us, and -os are usually masculine. Here the forms are divided into masculine and feminine forms for convenience.
*Devi, the Goddess of the Grain Fields, gives birth to the Sun every morning and she is the Mother who protects her children. Devi or Dia, ‘Goddess’ is reconstructed (*déįų-iHa-, see Tichy, p. 72 in A Survey of Proto-Indo-European and *dyeu-, G&I, Vol. I, p. 196) from Sanskrit Devi, a Goddess with a major cult in India, devi ‘a goddess, any goddess’; Avestan, daevi ‘female demon’; Greek, dīa ‘goddess’ and Demeter, a Grain Goddess, with the vocative form Deo used to address her (although thea is the usual Greek word for ‘goddess’ and zea is the Greek word for spelt, a kind of grain); Latin, Dea Dia, a Grain Goddess, also dia and diva, ‘goddess’; Iberian Celtic, Deva; Irish dīa, dea, ‘Goddess’; Germanic Síf (sheaf); Old Polish Zhiva, Жива, a Grain Goddess, also spelled Siebe; Lithuanian deive ‘goddess’; and Latvian dieve.”
The Indo-Europeans’ rituals for making sacrificial food offerings and honoring the dead and their ancestral cults have also been observed in the article P-I-E Rituals (which are similar to the o-bon festivals of the Japanese):
“Anthropologists list Ancestral Spirits as one of the types of supernatural beings and they are “seen as retaining an active interest in human society” p. 348-350, Haviland. Called *patri- > Patris or Patrikas (e.g. ‘fathers, little fathers’, p. 194-5, EIEC) and *mater > Matris or Matrikas (e.g. ‘mothers, little mothers’, p. 385-6, EIEC) both with diminutive endings in various cognate forms, they were worshiped among all the Indo-Europeans. Generally, people do this by going to grave sites and offering food, flowers and lighted lamps or candles. The Indo-Europeans worshiped their own parents as a community at regular times of the year, especially in May and November.
The “honored dead” were assumed to persist in any location and were also worshiped in the same way under the name *Mannus, e.g. Latin Di Manes and many cognate forms in other languages.”
As Scythians, probably, had no writing, we are compelled to address to antique sources, most important of which is 4 book of Herodot’s “History” where seven deities of a Scythian pantheon are listed and two versions of a legend about an origin of Scythians – the unique Scythian myth kept entirely are stated. The variant of the same myth is given also Diodor Sicilian. “According to Herodot into structure of a pantheon entered seven deities that reflects ancient Indo-Iranian tradition. At the supreme place of hierarchy is Tabiti, on average – Papay and Api, on the lowest -Hoytosir, Argimpasa and two deities, which Scythian names are not named by Herodot. All these gods are identified by Herodot as: Hesta, Zeus and Gaia, Apollo, Aphrodite, Heracles, and Ares. As Herodot wrote the most powerful, and numerous of Scythian tribes – Imperial Scythians – worshipped to Poseidon which at them was called Tagisamad. <…> Deities of average and partly the lowest level appear and in ‘Legend about an origin of Scythians’. Most full this myth is stated Herodot in the first version. In the uninhabited territory, after received name Scythia, from marriage Zeus and daughter of Borisphen (Dnepr) the first person – Targitay is born. Three his sons become ancestors of various parts of Scythian people <…>. The sky gold subjects – a plough, a poleaxe and a bowl fell. At attempt of two senior brothers to come nearer to them gold is ignited, but with approach younger one fire dies away and Kolaksay seizes sacred attributes.
The Scythian and Sarmatian Sources of the Russian Mythology and Fairy-Tales by Sergei V. Rjabchikov
From an ancient crypt in Crimea, Ukraine comes images of
“…a fiery horse, a hut standing on four chicken legs (as in Russian fairy tales!) and a woman (goddess) with the fiery hair. A child is seen in this fairytale hut. These data correspond to the Russian fairy-tales about Baba-Yaga (the old woman Yaga).
I think that the personage Baba-Yaga corresponds to the Scythian goddess Tabiti. I have counted ten rays at her head in this figure. The face of a goddess is represented on a Scythian brooch discovered in the Belyaus burial ground, the Crimea, Ukraine (Dashevskaya 1991: 121, table 65, figure 10). It is a designation of Tabiti whose head is decorated with nine or ten rays. As has been shown earlier (Rjabchikov 2001a), Baba-Yaga (cf. Old Indian yaga ‘sacrifice’) is closely related to the fire god Agni. Actually, this god plays the main role in sacrifices according to the Indo-Arian mythology (Neveleva 1975: 85).
Let us examine some features of Baba-Yaga. V.Y. Propp (1998: 147) stresses her roles of a donor, an abductor, a female warrior. The last function is in my opinion a hint at the Amazons, otherwise the Sarmatian women. In Baba-Yaga’s hut the initiations are performed (Propp 1998: 157). She denotes the fertility without the participation of men (Propp 1998: 168); she directs winds; she keeps keys from the sun (Propp 1998: 169). As an ancestress she is connected with the hearth (Propp 1998: 171). She gives her horse (Kobylitsa-Zolotitsa ‘The Golden Mare’) to a hero (Propp 1998: 172). Some epithets of the horse which is equal to the god Agni are “with a golden mane”, “having a light-coloured back”, “with a fiery head” in the Indo-Arian beliefs (Propp 1998: 264). The main attributes of Baba-Yaga are the fire and the horse (Propp 1998: 190, 197). Besides, she is preparing a youth for a marriage; she is burning or boiling children (Propp 1998: 198, 200).
Baba-Yaga’s hut stand on chicken legs? First of all, Old Indian kukkuta means ‘cock; hen; fire-brand; spark of fire’. So such legs may correlate with the cult of the fire…
Baba-Yaga knows the future and betokens (Afanasiev 1996: 57). And now one can examine an information about the Scythian goddess Tabiti mentioned in the History of Herodotus (Book IV): she compares with Hestia, the Greek goddess of hearth and home who is a virgin and the eldest sister of the god Zeus (1). All these features fit the features of Baba-Yaga (hearth; initiations; without a husband; connected with winds). The edges of roofs in the ancient town Panticapeum, the capital of the Bosporan kingdom (modern Kerch, the Crimea, Ukraine), were decorated with masks of a goddess (Blavatsky 1953: 173, figure 7). Since her hair is shaped like tongues of flame or rays of the sun, this is Tabiti, the goddess of hearth and home. It is well to bear in mind that D.S. Raevsky (1994: 204-5) points to the similarity of Tabiti (Tapayati ‘Heating; Flaming’) to Agni. In a Scythian inscription I read the words Tabera vese ‘Knowing Tabiti’ (Rjabchikov 2001a). The names Tab-iti and Tab-era (cf. the Russian suffix ar) ‘Heating; Flaming’ are the variants. One can suppose that the Scythians translated the name Tabiti as Ta biti ‘Beating’ (Trubachev 1981: 23), too. The beating Baba-Yaga is also known (Propp 1998: 180-1).
The goddess Tabiti is depicted on a gold badge discovered in the Chertomlyk barrow, Ukraine; it was dated to 4th c. B.C.”
[Ed note: One wonders if Baba-Yaga has a connection with the Japanese myth and folktale of the Sanzu no Baba 三途の婆= Shōzuka no Baba=Jigoku no Baba 地獄の婆=Datsueba who are varying folk versions of a hideous creature or hellish hag by the name of Shozuka-no-Baba etc. who strips children crossing the Japanese River Styx – Sainokawara, of their clothing, then encourages them to make piles of stones to build a stairway to paradise. (The afflicted children are then consoled and saved by Jizo/Ksitigarbha who hides them in the wide sleeves of his robe.
In the Japanese context, the Jikoku no Baba lit. “Hell’s Hag” is obviously related to death or funerary customary practices because it occurs in the context of Sainokawara and Jizo guiding dead souls.
But there are enough common elements between the Japanese hag and the Slavic/Uralic (Permyak/Sami/Mansi)/Scythian/Siberian ones to suggest a (lost or forgotten?) funerary Underworld context as well:
- Baba-yaga is a hag, crone or witchlike person or seer/fortune-teller (Romani gypsies) In Tibet, the Yagas are thought to either Bon Po demon-and-fire-worshippers or the fierce demons themselves: Grandmother Demon, Grandmother Dragon, the fearsome, the fierce The Hungarian bábák meant “old woman”, originally a good fairy with magical abilities who in later eras was regarded as having become degraded and became evil. She was thought to live in fountains, and if young children went too close to her lair, she lured them in. She was also thought in mythology to have possessed a táltos shamanic function and able to fly between the Upper/Middle/Underworlds on the back of a horse, so one of the theories about the ancient Hungarian religion is that it was a form of Tengriism, a shamanistic religion common among the early Turkic, Uralic and Mongol people, that was influenced by Zoroastrianism when the Magyars (perhaps the Arpad-Attila the Hun lineage) encountered the Persians during their westward migration. Japanese Demon Lore suggests that the Jigoku no baba / datsueba and yamaumba (Mountain Hag) reveal the dichotomons nature of the goddess of birth and death.
- She tortures or kidnaps small children or alternatively she is the force behind urging children to behave …as well as delivering what goes around comes around to unsavory stepmothers.
- She tends the fire / water /or gathers herbs or animals (She is an underworld goddess who rules over the forces of life, death and fertility. See Grandmother Gaia: Baba Yaga stories)
- In some legends Baba Yaga is also awarded the title Костяная Нога (“The Bone Leg”) and considered a guardian between the real world and the land of the dead. She is known on rare occasions to offer guidance to lost souls
- A chicken motif (suggesting a funerary votive offering/cock symbolism in funerals)
- The hut is surrounded by a palisade with a skull on each pole, or both. The fence with a skull on pole (overtly mortuary or ritual function) or the fence outside is made with human bones with skulls on top, often with one pole lacking its skull, leaving space for the hero or heroes.
- The hut (funerary context -perhaps interim holding hut) connected with horse (Scythian and Siberian afterlife horse (and chariot) riding towards the sun cosmogony motif) In “some tales, the hut is connected with three riders: one in white, riding a white horse with a white harness, who is Day; a red rider, who is the Sun; and one in black, who is Night” (see Baba-yaga). Baba Yaga, hints of the old horse-Goddess cults predating classical Greek culture (see Hag of a Muse)
- In Slavic tradition, there is a death hut (see sketch below).
- In the Russian tales, Baba yaga lives in a log cabin that either stands on or moves around on a pair of dancing chicken legs. The Sami have a storehouse that looks exactly like it with the “chicken feet” (see photo below).
- Siberians, Ob-Ugrians hold figurines of their gods in such huts or doll-like effigy in rags in a small cabin on top of a tree stump that fits a common description of “Baba Yaga, who barely fits her cabin: her legs lie in one corner, her head in another one, and her nose is grown into the ceiling”
Left: Sketch by Nicholas Roerich, Izba smerti of the Hut of Death, 1905, an artistic expression of burial traditions of the ancient Slavs
Right: Sami storehouse, Stockholm, Sweden
Above: Shogoso of the Shosoin, Nara
Below: Storehouse of the Khanty-Mansi (Ob-Ugrians)