Notes on legends about twins, twin cults and the Gemini

From Ainu folktale of twin sons born from eggs and descended from a divine deity

The Ainu too appear to own a folktale of twin sons birthed from an egg descended from a god, which sounds strangely similar to the tales of the Korean King Suro and other Kaya and Sillan golden egg royal births, see:

“The concubine who bore twin sons in the shape of eggs and whose father was a god” — Guide to Carl Etter Papers and Photographs
on Ainu Folklore and Culture 1931-1932, 1949

Udegey (Northeast Asia) twins, resembles the Ainu clan origins myth, may demonstrate a common genealogical tradition of the Northeast Asian Altaic tribes:

“A variant of the myth about the twins—a story of the two Kamdziga brothers (from the name of birch bark pannier kamisi) and Sulyaydzinga (from sulaisi—to lie), who became the ancestors of two clans—is typical. Other stories reproduce popular beliefs about the life of Udeges in former times—about crocodiles that used to be found in the Khor River and monkeys that lived in taiga. There are traces of influence of other cultures, perhaps of historical memories of the Jurchens Tungus-Manchu state (the 12th century). There are stories about Udeges who used to live as animals, without shelter and clothing and eating raw meat; about cave dwellers chased by thunder; about the Ainus who left for Sakhalin. Ethnogenetic legends relating to telungu narrate about historical ties of Udeges with neighboring peoples and between various Udege clans.” — Udege, see also Twin mythology of the Udegeys, distant relatives of the Ainup

[The Udege – are the most ancient population lived along the Ussuri River from the Paleolithic and Mesolithic Age. It consisted of groups that came from SE Asia. In various periods groups of settlers from the W, later on from the NW, came here. Local and wider “multi-layer” culture included remains of previous cultures. Medieval Tungus-Manchu states of the 8-9th, 12th and 16-17th century also influenced the ethnic history of Udege. The Udege lang. has both a strong Evenk layer and elements of the Jurchen, Mongol, Turkic, Ainu, and Nivkh languages, as well as traces of some substratum, possibly of Paleo-Asian or Old Korean origin.]

 

Greek twins:

Castor and Pollux on a Roman coin

Castor and Pollux on a Roman coin

Clytemnestra was the daughter of Tyndareus and Leda, the King and Queen of Sparta. According to the myth, Zeus appeared to Leda in the form of a swan, seducing and impregnating her. Leda produced four offspring from two eggs: Castorand Clytemnestra from one egg, and Helen and Polydeuces from the other. Therefore, Castor and Clytemnestra were fathered by Tyndareus, whereas Helen and Polydeuces were fathered by Zeus. According to legend, to the dying Castor, Pollux was given the choice by Zeus of spending all his time on Mount Olympus or giving half his immortality to his mortal brother. He opted for the latter (so giving half his immortality to Castor), enabling the twins to alternate between Olympus and Hades. The brothers became part of the stellar constellation Gemini (“the twins”), becoming the two brightest stars in the group: Castor (Alpha Geminorum) and Pollux (Beta Geminorum). As emblems of immortality and death that were no longer polar opposites, it is not surprising to hear that the Dioscuri, likeHeracles were said to have been initiated at Eleusis. The image of the twins attending a goddess are widespread[10] and link the Dioscuri with the male societies of initiates under the aegis of the Anatolian Great Goddess and the great gods of Samothrace. The Dioscuri are credited as the inventors of war dances, which characterize the Kuretes.

Roman sarcophagus with Castor and Pollux seizing the daughters of Leucippus, ca. 160

Roman sarcophagus with Castor and Pollux seizing the daughters of Leucippus, ca. 160

The Etruscans venerated the twins as Kastur and Pultuce, collectively the tinas cliniiaras, “sons of Tinia,” the Etruscan counterpart of Zeus. They were often portrayed on Etruscan mirrors. As was the fashion in Greece, they could also be portrayed symbolically; one example can be seen in the Tomba del Letto Funebre at Tarquinia where a lectisternium for them is painted. They are symbolised in the painting by the presence of two pointed caps crowned with laurel, referring to the Phrygian caps which they were often depicted as wearing.

The twins are mentioned in the Bible as being the logo for a shipping company that carried Paul to Rome: Acts 28:11 (KJV)—”And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.”

Acts 28:11 King James Version (KJV):

11 And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.

From the fifth century BC onwards, the brothers were revered by the Romans, probably as the result of cultural transmission via the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia in southern Italy. An archaic Latin inscription of the sixth or fifth century BC found at Lavinium, which reads Castorei Podlouqueique qurois (“To Castor and Pollux, the Dioskouri”), suggests a direct transmission from the Greeks; the word “qurois” is virtually a transliteration of the Greek word κούροις, while “Podlouquei” is effectively a transliteration of the Greek Πολυδεύκης.

The construction of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, located in the Roman Forum at the heart of their city, was undertaken to fulfil a vow (votum) made by Aulus Postumius Albus Regillensis in gratitude at the Roman victory in the Battle of Lake Regillus in 495 BC. The establishing of the temple may also be a form of evocatio, the transferral of a tutelary deity from a defeated town to Rome, where cult would be offered in exchange for favor. According to legend, the twins fought at the head of the Roman army and subsequently brought news of the victory back to Rome (Source: Dioskuri, Encyclopedia Brittanica)

The fifth-century pope Gelasius I attested to the presence of a “cult of Castores” that the people did not want to abandon. In some instances, the twins appear to have simply been absorbed into a Christian framework; thus fourth-century AD pottery and carvings from North Africa depict the Dioskouroi alongside the Twelve Apostles, the Raising of Lazarus or with Saint Peter.

Source:  Source: Castor and Pollux

Other Greek or Roman twins in mythology are:

Hypnos and Thanatos – Sons of Nyx and Erebos.

PaliciSicilian chthonic deities in Roman mythology.

Ploutos and Philomelos – Sons of Demeter and the demigod Iasion.

Ordinary mortal, Heracles and his twin brother Iphicles.

Apollo and Artemis – Apollo was adopted as the sun god with Artemis as the moon goddess.

Children of a god or nymph and a mortal

 

In Hinduism:

The Ashwini Twins or Ashvins are the Healers who are also offered sacrificial offerings or oblations as per the Rig Veda.

Also, from the Hindu-Tibetan tradition, Yama and Yami, elder siblings of the Ashvins, are a brother-sister twin pair.

Lava and Kusha

Nakula and Sahadeva

Norse mythology: Freyr and Freyja – God and goddess, children of Njörðr.

Ancient Syria: Arsu and Azizos – Gods of the evening star and morning star

In one version of the Egyptian creation myth, the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut were twins.

Zoroastrian: Ahriman and Ahura Mazda – the twins Ahriman and Ahura Mazda represent the spirits of evil and good respectively. Cultures with rival twin heroes often follow this pattern of split moral forces. See also Zurvism twin cult

The twin according to the gospel of Didymos Judas Thomas,

“The twin

One of the books that became illegal and was long lost was the gospel of Didymos Judas Thomas, one of the apostles and the one who was sent east. Didymos in greek and Thomas in aramaic both mean “the twin”. It sounds too much of a coincidence. This is consistent with a belief among early Christians that Jesus had a twin brother. Even in one of the official gospels (Matthew’s), Pilate asks the people who they would like to crucify: Jesus Messiah or Jesus Barabbas. While this is interpreted as a choice between Jesus and a bandit, it could be that Pilate was trying to ascertain which of the two twins was the one accused of sedition, the other one being a mere thief.
A version of that gospel was found in Nag Hammadi. It is likely that the apostle Taddeus and Judas “the twin” are the same person. Taddeus reached Armenia and then possibly traveled further east. The gospel of Judas Thomas has always intrigued historians and theologians because it doesn’t sound Christian at all: its style is closer to Buddhist meditation scripts than to Christian chronicles of Jesus life. After Rome converted, eastern Christianity was forgotten. The truth is that it probably stayed closer to Jesus’ thought precisely because it was not contaminated by Roman power.

Taddeus and the Jesus of the east

Thomas/Taddeus may have reached India. There is a place in Srinagar (Kashmir) that is considered Jesus’ tomb. If Thomas was a twin brother of Jesus, or simply a spokesman for Jesus, and did reach India this could explain the misunderstanding. Jesus (Yuz Asaf, Yus Asaph, Yesu, San Issa) is mentioned in several documents of Kashmir and even Tibet and all refer to him after his death.

Source: Jesus and Christianity 

A longer resource is Gerald Massey’s work and survey of the twins-motif which has hundreds more examples of twins in mythology and religion. It also provides many examples of the twin dualism motifs representing light and darkness.

A briefer resource with a listing of twins in mythology is to be found in Beit-Hallahmi, Benjamin, Paluszny, Maria (1974).”Twinship in mythology and science: Ambivalence, differentiation, and the magical bond.

TWINS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Sibling rivalry myths describing fraternal struggles are common in all cultures.‘jRank’ regards the twin saga as a combination of the birth of the hero myth and the common myth of hostile brothers, and as an elaboration of the simple hero myth.
The twin myth can be regarded as an accentuation of the fraternal hostility theme, and in most cases they contain indications of clear victory of the hero against the competing twin.
The Old Testament is the source for the clearest example of the good-twinbad-twin theme and the beginning of the tradition of psychological differentiation in the context of sibling rivalry and twin rivalry. Twin birth in the Old Testament is included in the category of miracles, occurring as a result of divine intervention;
but it was also disruptive and fateful. Competition for the birthright starts in the womb, and the younger twin wins it from his slower, older brother. The victory of the younger son is another miracle and portends future greatness for his descendants. Divine intervention in the birth of the hero is rather indirect in Old Testament mythology. Nevertheless, many Old Testament heroes were born only after some contact between their mothers and God, and the mothers had been typically barren before. The divine intervention takes the form of a response to the mother’s prayer or an actual visitation by angels.
The book of Genesis contains two cases of twinship in which twin birth was seen as both miraculous and disruptive. The first and best known twins were Jacob and Esau. They were the sons of Isaac, whose own birth was described as a miracle, the result of divine intervention,’ and who was later miraculously saved from filicide.
The birth of the twins Jacob and Esau was also the result of divine intervention, They were born only after Isaac “entreated the Lord for his wife because she was barren” (Genesis, XXV, 21). Competition in this case starts in the womb even before birth. After “the children struggled together within her” (Genesis, XXV, 22), Rebekah received a divine prophecy proclaiming that the two twins represented two nations and that the older should serve the younger. “Two nations are in thy womb, And two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels; And the one people shall be stronger than the other people; And the elder shall serve the younger” (Genesis, XXV, 23).
Jacob later bought Esau’s birthright for a mess of potage and then defrauded his father Isaac in order to receive the paternal blessing that was meant for Esau. The connection between being the second born and gaining the mother’s love is clear in the case of Jacob and Esau. Jacob, the younger twin, became his mother’s favorite and then was helped by her in winning the birthright.

Jews as a group have been identified with Jacob (who was later named Israel), the younger one, the ambitious underdog fighting against insurmountable odds.
They have also sought to defend themselves against possible references to Jacob’s dishonesty in dispossessing his twin brother. Talmudic legends emphasized and exaggerated the early differences between Jacob and Esau. Jacob was described in these legends as interested in learning, devout and modest. Esau was described as pagan, ignorant, cruel, and dishonest. Jacob and Esau took on the images of the good twin and the bad twin in legend and literature. As Brenner” suggests, the story of Jacob and Esau was used as a rationalization and justification for the dispossession of Canaanite peoples. The stories of Isaac and Ishmael and Jacob and Esau described the ancestors of other peoples as being related to the Israelites but not sharing their birthright. Hostility toward the Edomites was especially strong and was rationalized by the story of Jacob and Esau. The hostility toward the Edomites was still felt in the New Testament story of the mythical King Herod.
The historical King Herod was a descendant of converted Edomites, and Jewish hostility toward him was expressed by casting him in the role of the evil king in the New Testament.

The birth of the second pair of twins in the Old Testament, Pharez and Zarah, came only one generation after the first. Brennerg pointed out the prominence of  fraternal rivalry in Genesis and suggested a continuity of this theme over the three successive generations of Jacob, his son Judah, and Judah’s sons, building up to a climax. The rivalry between Jacob and Esau, then the rivalry between Joseph and his brothers, among them Judah, and then the rivalry between Er and Onan that led to Onan “spilling his seed on the ground” and to his death all culminated in the
story of Tamar and Judah and the birth of another pair of rival twins.
That story created a famous riddle, which according to Jewish legend was one of the Queen of Sheba’s riddles to King Solomon: “A woman was wedded to two and bore two sons, yet the four had one father.“‘O The riddle summarizes well the essence of the story-a combination of irregular death, marriage, sex, and birth.
Judah, son of Jacob, had three sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah. Tamar was married to Er, who was slain by God, and then married Onan in a levirate marriage. Since under the rule of levirate marriage any offspring would be regarded as Er’s, Onan spilled his semen on the ground to prevent conception and then was also slain by God. Tamar then had to wait for the third son, who was still a child, to marry her.
Tired of waiting, Tamar dressed up as a harlot, covered her face, and seduced her father-in-law, keeping his signet, cord, and staff, which he gave her as a pledge.
Tamar became pregnant and was about to be burned alive when she produced the evidence that implicated Judah. Judah acknowledged them and admitted his responsibility. When Tamar gave birth to twins, their struggle for primacy started in the womb, as the text relates, “And it came to pass, when she travailed, that one put out his hand; and the midwife took and bound his hand a scarlet thread, saying,

‘This came out first.’ And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that behold his brother came out; and she said ‘How hast thou broken forth‘? This breach be upon thee’; therefore his name was called Pharez. And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand; and his name was called Zarah” (Genesis, XXXVIII, 28-30).

The consequences of the complicated and miraculous birth of Pharez and Zarah are momentous and far reaching. The descendents of Pharez, the younger twin who won the primacy, became nine generations later the kings of Judea. The House of David, the anointed king, sprang out of the loins of Pharez. In both Jewish and Christian mythology, the Messiah was to be a scion of the House of David and “a rod out of the stem of Jesse” (Isaiah, XI, 1). The agreement between Old Testament and New Testament mythology, stemming from the belief in messianic
continuity, makes Pharez one link in the mythic genealogy of Jesus, as St. Matthew makes clear (St. Matthew, I, 3). While Pharez, who “stole” the birthright, became the ancestor of kings, Zarah, the firstborn, did not distinguish himself in any way.
The victory of the younger twin in mythological stories calls for an explanation.
Campbell3 emphasized the casting of the hero in the role of the handicapped child who must surmount considerable odds before fulfilling his destiny. That is why the hero was often the younger son, an orphan, a step-child, or an “ugly duckling” in other forms. Being the younger twin may thus be interpreted as one manifestation of the danger faced by the hero-child, who has to overcome a variety of mishaps and ordeals to ensure mere survival.
Schlossman has offered a different answer to the question of the younger brother’s victory, pointing out that in all cases of competition between two brothers in the book of Genesis (Cain-Abel, Isaac-Ishmael, Esau-Jacob, etc.), the older brother appeared to be the inferior or was finally rejected in favor of the younger. According to Schlossman, these stories reflected an archaic custom of sacrificing the firstborn. The firstborn was often considered as an offspring of the diety and beyond the claim of his earthly parents. This explanation fits the indirect indications of divine paternity in Genesis and the more direct expressions of divine paternity in other twin myths. The emphasis on the survival and victory of the younger twin may be also an expression of denial and wishful thinking. The younger may in reality be the weaker, and the myth denies this danger to his survival.

GREEK MYTHOLOGY
Greek mythology gives expression to the divine paternity and the double paternity theories of twin conception and also gives the clearest examples of harmony and devotion between twins. Ambivalence and complicated paternity
myths cause the definition of twins to stretch in mythological accounts. Thus the best known pair of twins in western mythology, Castor and Pollux, who gave their names to the Gemini constellation of stars and to the Gemini sign of the zodiac, were not technically twins, The story of the conception of Castor and Pollux and the Dioscuri (sons of Zeus) expresses the ambivalence and confusion caused by twin birth.
Castor and Pollux were born as a result of two successive impregnations: Zeus fell in love with Leda, wife of Tyndareus, and approached her in the form a white swan. Leda also copulated with her husband on the same night and gave birth to four children, who came out of two eggs. Pollux and Helen came out of one egg, fathered by Zeus, and Castor and Clytemnestra came out of the second egg, fathered by Tyndareus. Despite their divided fraternity, the two half-brothers were regarded as Dioscuri, as twins, and as close friends. At the same time, Helen (of Troy) and Clytemnestra were regarded as sisters only. Greek legends describe the devotion of the Dioscuri to each other and their inseparable fates in life and beyond.
The account of the twin birth in this case can be regarded as expressing the basic ambivalence toward unusual birth and the doubts it raises regarding the validity of primitive theories of paternity. The fantasies that twins have two
separate fathers and that twin birth is the result of two separate conceptions are expressed in this myth. These fantasies are elaborated and condensed by changing the mode of birth from human parturition to egg laying.
The miraculous aspect of twin birth is elaborated through the description of two eggs containing two children each. The double miracle is doubled again. It is interesting to note that Frazer* reports the primitive custom of counting twins and their afterbirths as four children. That the two eggs in the story represent twins becomes clear later when Castor and Pollux emerge as Dioscuri, the heroes of the myth. The two females, Helen and Clytemnestra, are relegated to a secondary role.
The two male heroes are worshiped and immortalized as the patrons of sailors and hospitality, and as symbols of brotherly love. In the case of Castor and Pollux, immortality becomes the equivalent of primogeniture. Pollux the immortal was the only truly divine twin, but his superiority did not become the cause for conflict.
The theory of twin birth as caused by two separate and successive conceptions is again expressed in the story of Hercules and Iphicles. Zeus, wishing to have a son who would be the protector of both men and gods, descended to the city of Thebes, assumed the appearance of Amphitryon, and impregnated Amphitryon’s wife, Alcmene. Amphitryon himself returned soon afterward and impregnated his wife again. From these two unions the twins Hercules and Iphicles were born. Only Hercules, the divine member of the pair, was praised and worshiped. The story of Hercules contains all the typical elements of the hero myth (cf.  Rank’). Iphicles on the other hand was in no way similar to Hercules, but later became the father of his best friend, Iolaos. He was not only a mortal but was conceived and born 1 day later.
Amphion and Zethus were another pair of semi-divine twins born to the nymph Antiope and fathered by Zeus. The story of their birth is a typical hero myth and parallels the Roman story of Remus and Romulus.’ Zeus approached Antiope in the form of a satyr and surprised her in her sleep. As with many other mythological heroes, the divine paternity was followed by a delivery in the open, exposure to the elements, and salvation by shepherds. Amphion and Zethus lived harmoniously, founded the city of Thebes, and fought side by side to defend it.
The twins Apollo and Artemis were the most important in the Greek pantheon and the only mixed pair. They were born to Leto from her union with Zeus and were victims of Hera’s jealousy even before they were born. Because of Hera’s machinations, the birth was delayed and complicated. According to one tradition, they were born at the same time; according to another, Artemis was born first and then served as a midwife during her brother’s birth. In the case of Apollo and Artemis, harmony between twins was followed by independence and individuation. According
to one little-known version of the Narcissus story, Narcissus had a twin sister whom he lost; it was not with himself that Narcissus fell in love, but with his twin sister. After she died, he had to console himself by looking at his own
reflection in the water, the reflection that was the likeness of the beloved twin.
As Ortmeyer’ pointed out, Greek mythology saw the two twins as a unity, one personality created by two complementary entities. Ortmeyer related this myth to Plato’s explanation of the love between the sexes, which suggested an original unisexed person that was split into the two sexes, who are still seeking the original
entity.
All the stories of twins in Greek mythology emphasized the unique bond between twins, expressed in harmony and love. Despite the fact that Greek traditions abounded with stories of sibling rivalry, twins were portrayed as the exceptions to rivalries and jealousies. The confusion surrounding the birth of twins was resolved by seeing it mostly as a miracle. The contrast between twin stories in the Old Testament and in Greek mythology is rather striking.
A common thread in Old Testament stories and Greek mythology is the predestination of one of the twins to a fate involving greatness, victory, and immortality, either directly or through his descendents. The predestination and dichotomy themes are strong expressions of the idea of psychological differentiation.
If only one twin is destined for greatness, then the twins are never identical or equal. This view is in clear opposition to the primitive idea of a common soul for the two twins. It may be seen as a forerunner of the Western emphasis on the individual and his destiny. Both Campbell3 and Rank’ interpret several twin myths as representing the story of one early hero, with the other twin being a later addition.”

It might be profitable to examine a number sub-themes pointed out in the extract of the paper by Beit-Hallahmi et al. above and compare them to twinship cults of the Northeast Asia/Far East:

We note also that the sign of Pollux and Castor mentioned in the Bible as having been seen on the ship signifying the importance of the twin symbol to maritime traders and sailors, and secondly to the inclusion of the sign as a constellation and eventually in the Greek zodiac.

As a zodiac sign, the Gemini glyph we can therefore surmise from the foregoing, originates in the Pollux and Castor sign seen in Roman murals, and a “tori-like” version was sometimes carried by the Spartans to war.  As a zodiac sign, it later evolves and is ascribed to Mercury, and the symbol represents war-like Mercurial and solar personalities, perhaps because Mercury and the pair of twins Pollux and Castor are associated with war  fate, horses and immortality.

“The third sign of the zodiac, Gemini is ruled by Mercury which represents intelligence invested in matter.  The glyph symbolizes two pieces of wood bound together.  In ancient times this was seen to signify the conflicts arising from contradictory mental processes.” —  Gemini: The Twins

This symbol glyph, also known as the “dokana” of Castor and Pollux and its significance, is particularly enigmatic, because it resembles closely the Japanese shrine gate, and sacred gates of the Mongolia, Korea and North China. See Soul trees:

The pair of tree posts-gate, dokana and tori  

More insights are to be had from Galina Serkina’s paper, Traces of Tree Worship in the Decorative Patterns of Turkish Rugs about the rites and symbolism surrounding a pair of gate-tree-posts:
“In the Shah name by Firdowsi, founded, as is well known, upon folklore and mythology, there is a story about a husband tree and a wife tree endowed with the power of speech. The reflection of similar ideas could probably explain the meaning of the Ancient Roman monument Sororium tigillum. Its pillars were representing the male deity, Janus and the female one, Soror. The last name is translated as “sister”. The semantics of the rites performed before it are almost similar to the “birth” rites widespread among the nomads of Central Asia. Kidan emperors performed special rites in front of two trees symbolizing a gate (E Lun-Liu, 1979, p. 527). The consecration of the emperor was also performed in front of trees. It imitated the process of childbirth. Each time the emperor passed below the tree branches, one of those who took part in the ceremony exclaimed, “A boy is born!” (ibid. p.525). Trees were also used in the consecration rites of Siberian and Central Asian shamans which imitated childbirth (pp. 51-52, Snesarev, 1969)”
At Sparta (as well as Kastoria, northern Greece), the veneration of the Castor and Pollux pair of deities was very ancient: a uniquely Spartan, aniconic representation of the twins was as two upright posts connected as it were by a cross-bar (sometimes by a loosely hanging garland); as the protectors of the Spartan army the “beam figure” ordókana was actually carried in front of the army on campaign.

Gates at Dodana, representing the twins in Greek mythology, Pollux and Castor

The Dioskouri twins were associated with the Indo-European tradition of dual kingship and were so appreciated that two princes of their ruling house were elevated to immortality. Sparta’s unique dual kingship reflects the divine influence of the Dioscuri. When the Spartan army marched to war, one king remained behind at home, accompanied by one of the Twins, thus securing political order in the realm of the Gods”. The tree was regarded by the Spartans as sacred to Castor and Pollux, and images of the twins were often hung in its branches. While elevated to deities in their own right, they usually accompanied greater deities and goddesses.

The “God-entertaining” cult ritual theoxenia and a domestic setting with amphora (of wine?) was particularly associated with Castor and Pollux, with the two deities were summoned to a table laden with food, whether at public hearths or individuals’ own home shrines where the offering was a meal offered to the house god and the house god was a snake that came to partake of it (hence the depiction of snakes ascending the dokana.

In another interpretation, the dokana represents the house while the Dioskouri twins are themselves the house gods, often represented by amphorae (Greek Popular Religion, Martin P. Nilsson). Strongly associated with sailors and horses, they are sometimes depicted arriving at a gallop over a food-laden table. The “table offerings” were a fairly common feature of Greek cult rituals normally made in the shrines of the gods or heroes concerned. was a characteristic distinction accorded to the Dioskouri. Still other interpretations are that they were seen as phallic pillars and ‘beams’ of the world (A.B.Cook), and guardians to a shrine or sepulchre (the same forgotten meaning for the torii and Korean shrine gates is proposed in these writings) see The Meaning of the “Dokana” by Margert C. Waites.”

 We are also reminded of Rome’s founding twins Romulus and Remus suckled by a wolf mother, reminiscent of Turkic-Mongolic genealogical oral traditions.

Finally, Hoori (Hohodemi) vs. Hoderi(Hohoderi) – the quarreling brothers motif is another Japanese myth of cultural folk heroes as well as origins of the royal clans and mentioned in 8th century chronicles. The brothers are rivals, there is the lost fishhook (presumably a magical heirloom), younger brother who offends the elder and has to undertake a quest and journey to the sacred realm or “Other World”.  They are the progenitors of the royal line.

Given the strong resemblance of the warring twin cult and genealogies between East and West, sacred trees, as well as the possibility that the Chinese Zodiac might be derived from the Greek one, we suspect that there might be a common pan-Eurasian source for the symbols and the cults afterall.

Across the Beringia from North Asia, the Tuscarora have a Creation myth about a Sky woman who gives birth to a pair of twins and dies. The twins are called Good Mind and Bad Mind and fight for two days until the bad twin is sent down into the Earth. p. 267 Creation Myths of the World by  David Adams Leeming Many other Native American myths exist of twins as cultural heroes as well:

“In North America, the Apache have their heroes in the twins Child-of-the-Water and Killer-of- Enemies. The Cherokee say that twins are able to see the ‘little people’. The Iroquois twins, Flint and Sapling, acted as transformers and creators. The Kiowa talk of the Split Boys who have many strange adventures. The Lillooet say that twins are the children of bears. The Micmac creator, Gluskap, is the twin of Malsum. In the lore of the Ojibwa, the trickster, Nanabozho is the twin of Wolf. Plains Indians tell of the twins Lodge Boy and Thrown Away. The Pueblo tribes have the twin war-gods Ahayuta achi. Also from the Pueblo tribes are the primordial beings, Preceder and Follower, were given power over all the creatures on earth. Using their thunderbolts, they made cracks in the earth and descended into the depths on spider webs, finding partly-formed beings buried in the first womb of the earth. They led them up to the second womb, those that failed to make the ascent becoming monsters. In the next womb, these beings discovered the nature of sex and continued up through the fourth womb until they reached the outer world as men and women. Sometimes called Twins.

The Shawnee are said to regard twins as lucky in some cases though in others it was said that the elder was likely to be evil. Among the Tubatulabal Indians it was believed that, if one twin should die, both would die, and if one joked about a woman having twins she would do so. The Winnebago have stories of the hero twins, Flesh and Stump. In South America, the Bakairi twins, Kame and Keri ate the moon and sun respectively personified. The Miskito father of twins, believing he could father only one child at a time, killed one or abandoned both. The Yaghan talk of divine twins, culture-heroes, who taught the tribe the use of fire and the art of hunting. A widespread theme has one clever and strong twin, the other stupid and clumsy, often regarded as sun and moon respectively. Another common motif is that of the woman killed, by jaguars who rear her twins; they, when they discover the truth, kill the jaguars and climb up to heaven on an arrow-ladder and become the moon and sun. ” — Twins – Mythology Dictionary

 Gluskap and Malsumis – A cultural hero and its evil twin brother for the Wabanaki peoples. Gluskap, the creator god and cultural hero, has to defeat Malsum, his evil twin, who was the ruler of the demons.

Hahgwehdiyu and Hahgwehdaetgah – Sons of Iroquois sky goddess Atahensic.

Asdzą́ą́ Nádleehé and Yolkai EstsanNavajo goddesses.

Central American mythologies: Hun-apu and Ixbalanque, the Maya Hero TwinsQuetzalcoatl and Xolotl or Tezcalipoca

Haitian Vodou: Marassa Jumeaux

In Xingu mythology of Brazil, the twin brothers Kuat and Iae forced the evil king Urubutsin to give light to the world, and Kuat became the sun with Iae as the moon.

There appear to a be an inordinate number of twins among the Khan or Khatun leaders of Mongol tribes indicating either a preferential selection of, or a sacral role of  twin brothers as leaders or an actual biological prodigiousness and propensity to give birth to twins and twin sets among Mongol tribes. p 371 History of the Mongols. See also Xiongnu and Mongol connection on dual burials, but particularly Alexander Fedetoff’s comparative study “MOTIF OF MIRACULOUS BIRTH IN MONGOLIAN AND
KOREAN MYTHS AND EPIC” is enlightening on the role and place of miraculous twin births and twins:

“Most of all motif of miraculous birth in the heroic epic is connected with the birth of a son
(twins) in the family of old childless people;” … among other signs, twinship signifies divine origin

Irensei
There was an old man named Irensei (Иренсей). He was 95 years old and his wife, named
Untan Durai (Унтан дуpай) also was very old. Once, when Irensei was fighting mandqai Danyal
Shara ( Даньял Шара) who had 77 heads, his wife gave birth to twins: a boy named Qanqan
Sokto (Ханхан Сокто) and a girl, named Agu Nogon (Агу Ногон) (Irensei 1914);

Abai Geser hubun’s mother gave birth to two sisters who flew up to Heaven, leaving him (death of twin sisters?), and in another version,  two brothers (instead of two sisters), born from arm-pits; the third boy – ugly and snotty; or yet another version two brothers and three sisters….

Three sets of twins are seen “in the myth about Kim Suro-wang – the founder of Kaya, is said that once upon a time a
strange voice was heard from Heaven. That voice said to the people of the area that it came in
order to establish a state. The people made a special ritual and a golden box on a purple ribbon
with six eggs came down from Heaven. The eggs were round like the Sun. On the next day six
handsome boys came out of the eggs. In ten days they became tall nine chas and looked like
dragons. They had eight-colored eyebrows and double pupils. The first of that boys was given
with the name Suro and with surname Kim, because he was born from the golden egg (Ibid:43);…”

From the above genealogical legends and myths, we can see that there is a common tradition among the Mongolic, Amurian tribes (Udegy), Korean and Ainu(of proto-Mongol-Turk Jomon and Amur-Sakhalin-Okhotsk Nivkh tribes’ descent)of regarding twin births, particularly brothers as sacral leaders of divine birth, as with the Greek tradition. Could there be a diffusion of motifs from interactions, exchanges or common genetic split (demic diffusion) between early Indo-European (proto Greek) and North Asian tribes?

Twin cults could be really ancient as African tribes have these stories and Melanesians as well. for example, Melanesian twin brothers appear as central characters in many other Melanesian myths. These pairs often include one wise and one foolish brother, such as To-Kabinana and To-Karvuvu (Encyclopedia of Mythology).

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