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Myths of Crete and Pre-Hellenic Europe, by Donald A. Mackenzie, [1917], at

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Cave Deities and their Symbols

Demeter and the Nameless Fates--Forms of Mother-goddess--The "Eagle Lady" with Snake Girdle--Prototype of Hittite and Assyrian "Winged Disk"--How Composite Monsters became Symbols--The Caves of Zeus--Lasithi Plateau--The Dictæan Votive Offerings--The Chariot of a Deity--Cave of Kamares--The Plain of Nida--Sacred Cave of Mount Ida--Mountain Religion --Well Worship--The "Seven Sleepers" Belief--Cretan Tammuz a Cave God --Pillar Symbols in Crete, Egypt, and Babylonia--Pillars as Mountains and "World Spines"--The Osirian Spine Amulet--Tree and Pillar Worship--"Horns of Consecration" as Sky Pillars--Double-axe Symbol--Spirits in Weapons--The God of the Axe.

"THE Cretans say", Diodorus Siculus wrote, "that the honours rendered to the gods, the sacrifices and mysteries, are of Cretan origin, and other nations took them from them. Demeter passed from the Isle of Crete into Attica, then into Sicily, and thence into Egypt, carrying with her the cultivation of corn." 1

On the other hand Herodotus, writing of the Pelasgi, says: "In early times the Pelasgi, as I know by information I got at Dodona, offered sacrifices of all kinds and prayed to the gods, but had no distinct names or appellations for them, since they had never heard of any. They called them gods (θεοὶ {Greek ðeoì}, disposers) because they had arranged all things in such a beautiful order. After a long lapse of time, the names of the gods came to Greece from Egypt, and the Pelasgi learnt them, only as yet they knew nothing of Bacchus, of whom they first heard at a much later date. " 2

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There is, no doubt, a kernel of real historical truth in these traditions. The Demeter to whom Diodorus refers is not, of course, the beautiful goddess whom the Grecian sculptors conceived of, but rather the Phigalian cave monster, the black horse-headed fury with snakes hissing from amidst her tangled locks. In early times she had many forms--terrible and mystical forms. Some idea of these is obtained from the study of the seal impressions discovered by Mr. Hogarth at Zakro. In one phase she is the eagle lady"--a woman with prominent breasts, widespread wings, and an eagle's head, wearing the snake waist girdle and the bell-shaped gown, or simply an eagle with a fan tall., and nothing human but her breasts. Several seal specimens show that this primitive form developed into a symbol which may have been a prototype of the Hittite winged disk and the Assyrian disk of Ashur. One is a column with fan tall and surmounted by winged human breasts, above which is a round beehive-shaped cap; others are variants, and then comes a fully developed symbolic object, with breasts represented by double spiral coils resting on a double bee-hive-shaped body with double outspread wings.

In another phase the goddess has a goat's head, wings, a short columnar body, and spreading skirt. A god is similarly depicted with pants and waist girdle. A ram's head appears on another seal impression of like character, and in a variant the head of a "sea horse". Winged sphinxes recall Egyptian forms. Of special interest is a bull-head deity with female breasts, wings, crouched-up legs and fan tail, which may have been bisexual. This form tends also to grow into a decorative symbol. The Minotaur was a bull-headed god.

Composite monsters include deities with human bodies and lions' heads resembling those of Egypt, two dogs'

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heads divided by a wing and united by a fan tail, a female sphinx with human breasts, butterfly wings and lion's legs, a human head with wings and lion's legs, and so on. The form of the Hittite and later Russian double-headed eagle is suggested by a conventionalized lion's head with birds' heads protruding from the ears, curving inward in opposition. In almost all cases the animal and composite animal forms tend to become decorative symbols.

The "Black Demeter" of Phigalia was, as has been indicated, associated with cave worship. In Crete there were many sacred caves. Of these the two most famous were those reputed in classical traditions to be the birthplace of Zeus. One is on Mount Ida and the other on Mount Dicte.

It is possible that these rival caves were sacred to rival cults. Beneath Mount Dicte was situated the city of Lyttos, which was, according to legend, hostile to Knossos and an ally of Gortyna. In references of this character there may be memories of ancient inter-state rivalries in Minoan Crete which survived into the Hellenic Period.

Hesiod, 1 dealing with the Zeus birth-legend, relates that the goddess Rhea carried her babe to Lyttos. Other writers were familiar with the legend that Zeus was nursed in the Dictæan cave. Diodorus 2 apparently endeavoured to reconcile the conflicting claims on behalf of the Dictæan and Idæan sanctuaries by stating that the god was first concealed in the one and then transferred to the other to be educated.

According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus 3 it was the Dictæan cave which Minos entered to receive from Zeus the code of Cretan laws. Lucian states that Europa, the mother of Minos, was carried thither by Zeus, his father, who had abducted her. 4

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To visit the Dictæan cave we must first reach the upland plain of Lasithi, to the south-east of Knossos, which is about 5 miles long, and roughly half that in breadth, and has an elevation above the sea-level of some 3000 feet. Mountains surround it on every side, the highest peaks being Aphendis Sarakinos (Mount Dicte), which rises to 5223 feet, and Selena to the north-east, which is almost as lofty. A river traverses the plain from end to end, and is fed by many hill torrents. It finds no valley outlet, but pours into a great cavern towards the north-west. According to local belief, it appears again lower down as the river Aposelemis, which enters the sea a few miles east of Candia.

This upland is approached from the west across the Pediadhan Plain, situated at an elevation of about 200 feet; the mule track then winds its way sheer up the mountain face. From the east the traveller leaves the western shore of the Gulf of Mirabello, and following the valley of the river Kalopotamos, makes a similarly difficult ascent by a zigzag path.

The Lasithi plain, embosomed among sublime mountains, is exceedingly fertile and comparatively populous. The climate resembles that of the more favoured parts of Switzerland. Neither olive trees nor carob trees grow upon it, but the vine flourishes and the grain crops are excellent. The nightingale which pipes so sweetly in lower valleys is here unheard. At morn and sweet eventide, however, the thrush and the blackbird carol amidst the pear and apple trees. On yonder grassy slopes are the familiar wild flowers of temperate climes, including the homely yellow buttercup. The winter is somewhat severe, and it is customary when it approaches to drive flocks and herds to the lower valleys, where they are sheltered and fed until the advent of Spring.



Including double axes, spear-heads, knives, daggers, fish hooks, fibula, tweezers, gimlet, &c.


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On one of the ridges of Mount Dicte are the ruins of the city of Lyttos, and on another, right opposite, the modern village of Psychro. Five hundred feet above Psychro is the double cavern associated with the legends of Zeus--the famous Dictæan cave. As far back as the "eighties" it was known to contain archaeological relics. The earliest finds were made by goatherds who were accustomed to shelter in it, and after these passed into the hands of dealers, various archæologists paid visits to Psychro and the cave. It was not, however, until 1900 that thorough and systematic exploration of it was conducted by Mr. D. G. Hogarth.

This accomplished archæologist did not achieve success without overcoming considerable difficulties. Rock-falls had occurred in the cave, and he had to have recourse to blasting operations. Besides, part of it is ever flooded. "Water flowing in from the east has", writes Mr. Hogarth, "penetrated in two directions right and left. The main flow to southward has excavated an abyss, which falls at first sheer and then slopes steeply for some 200 feet in all to an icy pool, out of which rises a forest of stalactites." 1

Inside the cave were found portions of walls, a paved way, and bits of sawn marble an inch thick which may have covered it, an altar-like edifice beside which lay a small stone "table of offerings" and fragments of about thirty other "tables", lamps, cups, broken vases and ashes. Professor Myres found one of the cave "tables" in 1896, and another was purchased from dealers by Sir Arthur Evans in the same year.

The deposit, which was deepest and least disturbed in the north-west part of the upper cave, was divided by strata of pottery fragments and animal bones, between which lay ash and carbonized matter. The oldest pottery

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was of the Kamares (Middle Minoan) variety. In the surface layer were lamps of the Roman period and a silver Byzantine cross, indicating that long after the cave ceased to attract crowds of votaries, the memory of its sacred character survived among the people. Terra-cotta figurines were also found.

When the upper cave was thoroughly explored, Mr. Hogarth prepared to take his departure. Before leaving, however, he sent some of the workers down the steep slope to conduct a search in the lower cave. Here, to the astonishment of everyone, a great archæological harvest awaited the gleaners. Hundreds of metal offerings were lying in the mud around and below the water, and among the niches formed by stalagmite, some being almost enclosed like flies in amber. In two days the lower cave was cleared. "Four days later", Mr. Hogarth relates, "I took all the bronze pieces, amounting to nearly 500, the objects in gold, hard stone, ivory, bone and terra-cotta, a selection of the stone tables of offerings and of the pottery and specimens of skulls, horns and bones found in the upper Grot, to Candia. What I left under the care of the village (Psychro) officials included no fewer than 550 unbroken specimens of the common type of little wheel-made plain cup, all obviously new at the time they were deposited in the cave, and a great store of bones." 1

The bronze figurines of human shape are of both sexes. They are usually posed in devotional attitudes, and may represent votaries or deities, or include both. One figurine is clearly Egyptian. It wears the high double plumes of the god Ra, and seems to have been deposited about 900 B.C. by some pious wanderer who believed, perhaps, that the Theban deity and the Cretan

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Zeus were identical. Animal figurines include rams, bulls, and oxen. An ox and a ram with projections from their shoulders fit into a miniature chariot which may have been a god's vehicle. On a gem in Sir Arthur Evans's collection a chariot is drawn by goats, as was the car of Thor, the Germanic Zeus. Models of weapons are comparatively numerous. These include the double axe, lance-heads, darts, and knives. A knife with a slightly curved blade has a human head finely carved at the end of the handle. Among the ivory and bone ornaments special interest attaches to "three volute-like objects" which, as Mr. Hogarth remarks, "are closely paralleled by Bosnian fibula plates". They also suggest the well-known "spectacle" symbols on Scottish sculptured stones. Hairpins, needles, and brooches figure among the finds.

There are two conspicuous caves on the slopes of Mount Ida, in which votive offerings were deposited. The first, on the southern side, is situated above the village of Kamares, and is faintly visible from Phæstos. Professor Myres explored it in the "nineties" and found, among other relics, the first specimens of the now famous "Kamares pottery". The other cave, towards the north. east, has been identified as the rival of the one on Mount Dicte. In front of it a colossal altar was carved out of the rock, but at what period there can be no certainty. Professor Halbherr, who conducted excavations here, was less successful than Mr. Hogarth. He obtained, however, a number of votive offerings in terra-cotta and bronze. The latter, which include shields, come down to the ninth and perhaps even the eighth centuries B.C., and show strong traces of Dorian influence.

This Zeus cave on Mount Ida can be approached from the romantic plane of Nida or Nitha, which lies about 5 miles east of the central peak of Ida at an elevation of

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over 3000 feet. It is about 2 miles long and ½ mile broad. The snow vanishes in the month of May. The secluded upland is then covered with fresh green pasture, to which shepherds drive their flocks, as did their ancestors in ancient days, when the grass in the lower valleys withers in the great summer heat. Yellow wild flowers of the buttercup variety are as thick in the grass as are poppies in some fields of corn. This fact may have given rise to the classic legend that the sheep which graze on Nida plain acquire golden teeth. Modern shepherds say that the pollen of the wild flowers does leave on the teeth of their sheep a perceptible yellow stain. Travellers who have climbed up to the plain speak with enthusiasm of its cool, bracing atmosphere, and the clear starry nights of wonderful listening silence amidst the serenity and grandeur of the mountains. Ancient Cretans who worshipped their deities in such places must have experienced the feelings of awe and devotion that so profoundly impress the mind in lofty solitudes "far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife".

The practice of performing religious and magical ceremonies in caves goes back, as we have seen (Chapters I and II), to remote Palæolithic times, when the huntsmen dwelt in them, buried their dead in them, and in some drew figures of animals and demons or gods on roofs and walls. In Crete, caves were sanctuaries in the Neolithic Age. The cave of Skalais at Præsos, for instance, has yielded Neolithic as well as Kamares pottery. No votive offerings earlier than Middle Minoan have been found in the Dictæan cave. The lowest stratum begins with that period. Outside in the terrace deposit the Neolithic fragments were apparently deposited by water. What seems probable is that the Lasithi plain was a mountain lake in Neolithic times, and that it gradually subsided as its river found a



The group shown above was taken from a carpenter's kit which had been concealed in a house in Gournia. The implements include axes, chisels, adzes, nails, &c.


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subterranean outlet. For a considerable interval afterwards the cave may have been completely filled with water. If so, it was probably regarded as sacred on that account. Elsewhere sacred caves have invariably wells, and some of these are supposed to be possessed of curative properties. Drops of water falling from roofs are said to cure deafness, restore fading eyesight, and heal wounds. In these islands "wishing wells" receive offerings of pins and other objects, especially on May Day. Rags of clothing are attached also to trees or bushes overhanging wells anciently sacred. This practice obtains in Crete as well as in the British Isles and throughout Western Europe. Writing at Aghia Triadha, Angelo Mosso has recorded: "Every day . . . I passed a curious tree covered with fetishes. . . . Near a ruined church stands an olive-tree hung with bits of rag which the peasants tie on the branches, hundreds of shreds of every colour, worn by rain and wind. . . . I asked what the curious decoration of the tree was, and was told that anyone who suffered from malarial fever binds it to the tree with a shred of his clothing, a handkerchief, or a ribbon, and says a prayer, hoping to be cured thereby. . . . Witchcraft is common in Crete. Rags and dirty bits of stuff, into which the witches profess to have banished diseases, are constantly found in the walls of churches." 1 Here we have one reason why offerings were deposited in caves and thrown into the fire at Petsofa, near Palaikastro. The "wishers" affected a ceremonial connection with a sacred place to "switch on" the good influence and "switch off" the evil influence, which was negatived by being bound.

The "seven sleepers" of various countries lie in sacred caves. They appear to be identical with the spirits of vegetation, which slumber during the winter and return

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in spring. At the beginning of each year the Greeks held a festival which was called "the awakening of Hercules". The god returned, like Tammuz, from the underworld to bring fertility to the earth. Deities of this class were supposed to be born anew every spring. Mr. Bosanquet found at Palaikastro, in the Hellenic temple of Jupiter Dicteon, a grey marble tablet with the following inscription:--

"Hail, O great child, son of Kronos, omnipotent, who cometh yearly to Dicta seated on the hyena, escorted by demons. Accept the song which we raise to thee accompanied by the lyre and flute, standing round thy altar, O benefactor.

In this place the Cured received thee, O immortal child, from the hands of thy mother Rhea." 1

Evidently the cave-god of Crete, whom the Hellenes identified with their Zeus, was supposed to awake from his underworld sleep each year. In other words, the Earth Mother gave birth to him in the mountain sanctuary. This young god is found associated with the goddess on Cretan seals. It has been shown in a previous chapter that there also existed a variant myth about a young goddess which survived in the Demeter-Persephone legend. At what period the myth of Rhea and her son was introduced we have no knowledge. It was possibly of Anatolian origin. The Phrygian Kybele-Attis myth is of similar character.

It would appear that we have traces in Crete of more than one religious cult. But behind all the developed conceptions and imported beliefs lay, apparently, the background of primitive religion which the earliest settlers had brought with them and adapted to local needs. The oldest religious practices survived, no doubt, among the

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masses of the people, just as the practice of tying rags on the olive-tree at some spot anciently sacred survives at the present day.

The comparative study of Cretan religious symbols tends to show that, like the Pelasgians, the Minoans worshipped deities of the underworld-the "hidden deities" of Egyptian religion--who were "Fates" or "Disposers", and were originally nameless. That is, they worshipped the spirits of nature and the spirits of ancestors. These symbols include pillars, the "horns of consecration", and the double axe. Withal there were sacred wells and mountains and sacred animals associated with the "Great Mother" which were represented in symbols, as is shown by the evidence of the seal impressions.

The worship of pillars seems to have been connected with the worship of trees and mountains. In Egypt it was believed by certain cults that the iron vault of heaven. was supported by two mountains. "Out of one mountain. came the sun every morning, and into the other he entered. every evening. The mountain of sunrise was called Bakhau, and the mountain of sunset Manu." 1 Another theory was that the sky rested on two pillars, and a later one, which obtained, however, before the pyramid texts; were inscribed, set forth that there were four pillars"--the pillars of Shu"--one at each cardinal point. The pillars in time were regarded as the sceptres of the gods of the four quarters. According to the teachings of the Ra sun cult, the cave-like openings which the sun entered. at evening and emerged from at morning were guarded. by lions, or the deities with lions' bodies and human heads which the Greeks called "sphinxes". The northern Egyptian lion-god was Aker.

In Babylonia it was believed that the sky was supported

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by the world-surrounding chain of hills. Reference is made in the Gilgamesh epic to the mountain of Mashu or Mashi; that is, "the mountain of the Sunset". Its cave-like entrance is guarded by scorpion-men, or a scorpion-man and a scorpion-woman.

Their backs mount up to the rampart of heaven,
And their foreparts reach down beneath Arallu (the Under-world) . . .
From sunrise to sunset they guard the sun. 1

There was a door on the cave, and Gilgamesh was allowed to pass through it to penetrate the dark tunnel leading to the Sea of Death, which only Shamash (the Sun) could cross. 2 Gilgamesh was the first "opener of the way". Like the Indian Yama and the Egyptian Apuatu (Osiris) he discovered the path leading to Paradise, and discovered how mortals could be ferried over the dreaded sea.

The symbols of the Babylonian gods Ea, Anu, and Enlil were tiarras, or mountain-like cones, resembling somewhat the bee-hive-shaped caps on the Zakro sealings. Temples were erected like pillars or peaks. Ea's temple at Eridu, like that of Merodach at Babylon, was called E-sagila, which signifies "temple of the high head", or "the lofty house". Enlil's temple was E-kur, "mountain house". Various deities were symbolized as pillars surmounted by heads. Nergal's symbol was a lion's head on a pillar, Zamama's a vulture's head on a pillar, Merodach's a lance-head on a pillar, and so on. Anshar, "the most high", was, in astronomical lore, the polar star, which was figured as a he-goat, or satyr, on the summit of the peak of heaven. The Assyrian Ashur was sometimes symbolized by a disk enclosing a feather-robed archer,

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resting on a bull's head, with spreading horns, on the summit of a standard.

Ea, in one of the myths, built the world "as an architect builds a house". 1 According to the Rigveda the Aryo-Indian god Indra similarly constructed the house of the universe, which appears to have been supported by the "world tree". 2 The world-supporting tree, Ygdrasil, figures in Teutonic mythology. Mount Meru, the Indian Olympus, which supports the Paradise of Indra, is "the world spine". In Egypt the ded (dad, or tet) amulet is the spine of Osiris in his character as the world-god.

According to Wiedemann ded means "firm", "established". This amulet was laid on the neck of the mummy to ensure resurrection. In Chapter CLV in the Book of the Dead the picture of the symbol is given, and the deceased, addressing Osiris, says: "Thy back (backbone) is thine, thou who art of the still heart (Osiris) . . . I bring unto thee the ded, whereupon thou rejoicest. These are the words to speak over a gilded ded made from the heart of the sycamore and placed on the neck of the glorified one." 3

The ded symbol is a pillar surmounted by four crossbars. Budge says that these bars "are intended to indicate the four branches of a roof-tree of a house which were turned to the four cardinal points". In the story of the search made by Isis for the slain Osiris it is related that a tree grew round his body and completely enclosed it. The King of Byblus had this tree cut down and made it a pillar for the roof of his house. Isis flew round the pillar in the form of a swallow, and was permitted subsequently to carry it away.

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The body of Osiris was afterwards dismembered by Set, but Isis collected the portions. The backbone was found at the Nilotic city of Daddu or Tettu. At this cult centre Osiris was "lord of the pillars", and the hieroglyphic signs of the city include two Osirian pillars with cross-bars. Here a great festival, which the Pharaoh attended, was held once a year, and observance was made of the solemn ceremony of setting up "the pillar symbol of the backbone of Osiris". 1 Like the amulet, the pillar may have been made from "the heart" of the sycamore tree.

In his fusion with the world-god Ptah, Osiris was invariably represented as a mummy grasping in his hands in front of him a staff surmounted by the ded cross-bars, and the ankh or life symbol.

Bata, the hero of a well-known Egyptian folk-tale, who is evidently an early form of Osiris, exists for a time as a blossom on a tree-top, then as a bull, and then as two trees which grew up on either side of the entrance to the King's palace. 2

It will thus be seen that the sacred pillar, tree, or mountain was the god, or the spine of the god, which supported the universe. As the world-god Ptah sits on a mountain, his head supports the sky, and his feet reach to the underworld.

The idea that a spine was a charm for stability in life and death is probably of great antiquity. Spines of fish were laid on the bodies of the dead in Palæolithic times. In Crete the necklaces made from the vertebræ of an ox, or sheep, had, no doubt, a magical significance. The Ligurian and Cretan Neolithic people who carried home portions of the backbones of whales may have believed

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that by doing so they prolonged their lives and charmed their dwellings against attack and disaster.

The dolmens and the single standing-stones--the archæological "Bethels"--which were set up in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages throughout Europe, may have been symbols of the god of the pillars, as well as "spirit-houses" of the dead. In India standing-stones are usually erected below trees. The tree spirit may have been believed to sleep for part of the year in the stone.

A mass of evidence has accumulated to indicate that pillars, mountains, and trees were worshipped in Crete, pre-Hellenic Greece, and Anatolia. The "Lion's Gate" of Mycenæ shows two lions supporting the sacred pillar. They are evidently, like the Egyptian lions, the guardians of the world deity. Cretan seals depict the mother goddess on a mountain-top supported similarly by a couple of lions, and also standing or seated between a lion and a lioness. The Cretan pillar is seen similarly guarded by lions, griffins, bulls, sphinxes, or wild goats. When the sacred tree is shown like the pillar, animals guard it also. An intaglio seal shows water-demons on either side of a sacred tree, heraldically opposed, and holding jugs above the branches. These demons have been compared to the Egyptian hippopotamus goddess Taurt. The Babylonian lion-headed eagle, a form of Nin Girsu (Tammuz), which figures on the silver vase of a Sumerian King of Lagash, is supported by two lions, on the backs of which its claws rest. The Anatolian goddess Kedesh, who was imported into Egypt in the Empire Period, stands nude on the back of a lion. The lion was evidently the symbol of the earth, and the various figures of lions devouring animals, found in various countries, probably symbolized the earth receiving its propitiatory sacrifice. Myths about the mother-serpent (the earth-serpent) attacking and disabling

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the eagle may have been connected with a similar belief.

Sir Arthur Evans, who first threw light on the significance of the pillar and other symbols of Crete, 1 believes that tree and pillar worship in Palestine and Anatolia was "taken over from the older stock" by Semites and Hittites. A later infusion of Minoan ideas into Anatolia and Palestine was caused by the colonizing Philistines, Carians, and Lycians who were of Ægean origin.

"The undoubted parallelism observable between the tree and pillar cult of the Mycenæan (Ægean) and that of the Semitic world", writes Sir Arthur Evans, "should be always regarded from this broad aspect. . . . The coincidences that we find, so far as they are to be explained by the general resemblance presented by a parallel stage of religious evolution, may be regarded as parallel survivals due to ethnic elements with European affinities which on the east Mediterranean shores largely underlay the Semitic. . . . The worship of the sacred stone or pillar known as Massêba or nosb is very characteristic of Semitic religion." There were also Semitic sacred hills and sacred trees. The two pillars, supporting the Philistine temple of Dagon, which were pulled down by Samson, no doubt had a sacred character. In Scandinavian legends the sacred tree supports the chief's dwelling. Sigmund, Volsung's son, draws from the house tree, called "Branstock", the magic sword which Odin thrust into it, saying: "He who draws the sword from the stock shall have it as a gift from me, and it will stand him in good stead". 2

In Crete altars and tables of offerings were supported on pillars. On seals a columnar form was sometimes

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given, as has been indicated, to animal-headed deities. Pillars were actually worshipped, being the abodes of spirits. On a cylinder from Mycenæ, for instance, a male figure is posed in an attitude of adoration before "five columns of architectural character with vertical and spiral flutings". No doubt the pillars of Egyptian and Grecian temples had originally a religious significance. In Christian churches ancient Pagan symbols have been perpetuated as architectural conventions. The cock, which was supposed to be a charm against demons, and consequently perched as a sentinel on the "world tree" of Teutonic Mythology, still appears on spires, where it indicates how the wind blows. In Scottish Mythology the north wind brings the evil spirits and the south wind the good spirits. "Shut the windows towards the north, and open the windows towards the south, and do not let the fire go out", is an instruction given in a folk-tale by a man who desires his house to be guarded against the visits of demons. The Teutonic Jotuns were in the east. Thor always went eastward to wage war against them.

The "horns of consecration" were originally the horns of the sacred bull or sacred cow. In Egypt the cow-goddess Hathor was a world-deity. Heaven rested on her back, and the under part of her body, which is usually shown covered with stars, formed the firmament. Her four legs were thus the sky pillars. Another belief was that the sky rested on the horns of the sacred animals. Thus we find a reference in the "Book of That which is in the Underworld" to the "Horn of the West", 1 apparently the same as the "pillar of the west" and "Sunset-Hill". The sun-god Ra, who absorbed the attributes of all other deities, is referred to in the "Pyramid Texts" as the deity with "four horns, one toward each of the cardinal

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points". 1 In Crete the horns were of great ritual importance. "At times". Sir Arthur Evans writes, 2 "these have the appearance of being actually horns of oxen, but more generally they seem to be a conventional imitation of what must be regarded as unquestionably the original type-that is, a kind of impost or base terminating at the two ends in two horn-like excrescences. Sometimes this cult object appears on the altar. At other times it rises above the entablature of an archway connected with a sacred tree or on the roof of a shrine. It is frequently set at the foot of sacred trees." Occasionally the double axe is surmounted on a staff between the horns. A horned cult object in terra-cotta, with the eye symbol of Anatolian pottery painted on the base, was found in one of the Cretan votive caves. The horned symbol has been found associated with early Bronze Age relics in Sardinia, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and the Balearic Islands, which were probably the Cassiterides Islands in which tin was found. It may be that the Cretan symbol was distributed by early sea-traders. In Syria the altar of Astarte had horns. The "horns of the altar" are referred to in the Bible.

The double-axe symbol was evidently of remote origin. Weapons were in the animistic stage of primitive culture believed to be possessed of spirits, and were given individual names. "Every weapon has its demon" is an ancient Gaelic axiom. The sword of the Scoto-Irish folk-hero Finn-mac-Coul was called "Mac-an-Luin". In the Indian epic, the Mahábhárata, the warrior Arjuna receives a celestial weapon from the god Shiva. "And that weapon then began to wait upon Arjuna", the narrative proceeds.

And the gods and the Danavas (Titans) beheld that




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terrible weapon in its embodied form stay by the side of Arjuna of immeasurable energy." 1 Rama of the Rámáyana is adored by the spirits of his celestial weapons. 2 The Indian weapons were all named.

That this belief goes back to Palæolithic times is suggested by the evidence of Egypt. "The common word given by the Egyptians to God, and god, and spirits of every kind, and beings of all sorts, and kinds, and forms, which were supposed to possess any superhuman or supernatural power, was", says Professor Budge, "'Neter'. The hieroglyph used as the determinative of this word, and also as an ideograph, is the axe with a handle. The common word for goddess is Netert." Professor Budge shows that "from the texts wherein the hieroglyphics are coloured it is tolerably clear that the axe head was fastened to its handle by means of thongs of leather". 3 As holes were bored in axes at an early period, Mr. Legge considers that the fastenings indicate that the symbolic use of the axe "goes back to the Neolithic and perhaps the Palæolithic Age". He adds: "It is now, I think, generally accepted that the use of the stone axe precedes that of the flint arrow-head or flint knife; and it thoroughly agrees with the little we know of the workings of the mind of primitive man that this, the first weapon that came into his hands, should have been the first material object to which he offered worship". An axe is worshipped by a priest in Chaldæan garb on an Assyrian agate cylinder. The axe also appears as a symbol "in the prehistoric remains of the funereal caves of the Marne, of Scandinavia and America". 4 We have already alluded to its appearance on the standing-stones of Brittany, and to

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the theory that Labyrinth is derived from Labrys, "the axe". Professor Maspero shows that in Egyptian "a town neterit is 'a divine town'; an arm neteri is 'a divine arm'". He adds that "neteri is employed metaphorically in Egyptian as is 'divine' in French". 1

Votive axes, too small for use, have been found in Cretan graves and sanctuaries. The earliest form was the single flat axe: the double-headed axe was first made after copper came into use. Mosso gives interesting particulars regarding votive axes found on the Continent. Some of these are of a friable sandstone, and could have served no practical purpose. 2 Small axes, which were pierced for suspension, were used as charms in Malta and elsewhere. The sacred axe survives to the present day in the Congo.


293:1 Diodorus Siculus, V. 77.

293:2 Herodotus, II, 52.

295:1 Theog., V, 477.

295:2 V, 170.

295:3 Ant. Rom., II, 61.

295:4 Dial. Mar., XV, 3.

297:1 Annual of the British School at Athens, VI, 96.

298:1 Annual of the British School at Athens, VI, p. 101.

301:1 The Palaces of Crete and their Builders, pp. 200-1.

302:1 Palaces of Crete and their Builders, A. Mosso, pp. 201, 202.

303:1 The Gods of the Egyptians, E. Wallis Budge, Vol. I, pp. 156, 157

304:1 King's Babylonian Religion, p. 166.

304:2 Babylonian Myth and Legend, p. 177.

305:1 Jastrow's Religious Belief in Babylonia and Assyria, p. 88.

305:2 Indian Myth and Legend, p. 10.

305:3 Religion of the Ancient Egyptians, A. Wiedemann, p. 290.

306:1 Budge's Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. II, p. 122.

306:2 Egyptian Myth and Legend, pp. 53 et seq.

308:1 "Mycenæan Tree and Pillar Cult and its Mediterranean Relations". in The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. XXI, pp. 99 et seq.

308:2 Teutonic Myth and Legend, pp. 289 et seq.

309:1 The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. I, p. 205.

310:1 Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt, J. H. Breasted, p. 116.

310:2 Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. XXI, p. 135 et seq.

311:1 "Vana Parva" section (Roy's translation), p. 127.

311:2 Indian Myth and Legend, pp. 256 and 381.

311:3 The Gods of the Egyptians, E. Wallis Budge, Vol. I, pp. 63 et seq.

311:4 Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archæology, Vol. XXI, pp. 310, 311.

312:1 Etudes de Mythologie et d'Archéologie Egyptiennes, Tome II, p. 215.

312:2 The Dawn of Mediterranean Civilization, pp. 132 et seq.

Next: Chapter XIV. Decline of Crete and Rise of Greece