The Great Friend
Cheryl DuCoinThe days between January 21st to February 19th are one of the most wild and wackiest days, yet they are so romantic. Ground Hog day is February 2nd and Mardi Gras sparks off a riotous revelry. Somewhere mixed in the madness comes the romance of Valentine’s Day. What is it that makes Aquarius, The Water Bearer, a time of social pleasures and fantasies?
Aquarius was one of the four original Neolithic constellations that marked the seasons. Because of the progression of the Earth’s axis, later Mesopotamian astronomers saw it in the same spot a month later and marked it as the rainy season and time to irrigate crops.
In ancient Sumeria, Aquarius was called The Great One, Gula. Clay tablets were found imprinted cup and cuneiform for wealth and plenty. Gula was shown holding a jar with two streams of water flowing from it. Later astrologers/priests associated him with the god Enki (Ea) whose father was fresh water and mother was sea water. Enki lived deep underground and produced the springs of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. After a great battle between the gods, he mixed their leader’s blood with clay and fashioned the first man, Adapa.
One day as Adapa was fishing, Ninlil, the South Wind, overturned his boat. Furious, Adapa broke his airy wings. The gods called him up to heaven to apologize for maiming a god. While there, his good friend and creator, Enki, warned him not to eat or drink during his heavenly stay. Unfortunately, the king of the gods offered Adapa the food of immortality which Adapa refused, believing it poisoned, thereby missing mankind’s chance for eternal life.
Later, Adapa, created by a god and enlightened by a trip to heaven, brought civilization and the arts to the King of Eridu. Archeologists have excavated the Iraqi town of Eridu and found temples with ancient ponds with mounds in the center. From this evidence, ancient people were thanking watery Enki for making the wise Adapa.
Capricorn was called Suhurmasku and depicted Enki as the Goatfish that brought the sun out of deep water at the winter solstice. Aquarius is the original sign of Enki but set a month later after the pole progression. He represented his blessings of creating man and the arts and bringing water to the earth for irrigation.
The Egyptians also revered the God of the Arts, Ptah, whose name Ta-tenen meant submerged land or mound surrounded by water. Because he crafted the world, he was revered by artisans. Another Egyptian god was Khnum who like Gula, controlled a great river—the Nile. Khnum lived in a cavern at its source and carefully measured the silt that was deposited by the flood. He was the patron of Khufu (Cheops), the pharaoh who built the Great Pyramid. Also like Gula, Khnum created humans from river clay. Like Enki, his body was part goat or sheep and was sometimes drawn holding a cup with flowing water.
It’s interesting that our Groundhog Day is celebrated on the same day as the Egyptian Birthday of Nut—the goddess of night. With her husband, Geb, the God of Earth, she bore Isis and Osiris. She protected her grandson, Horus (Ra) so that he would be born again. Today, we watch a groundhog on TV emerge from his hole to predict if we will see the sun return. It’s the wackiest image—serious men in tails and top hats holding a giant squirming rodent. It was probably a rollicking time in Egypt, too—a time of festivities to welcome the returning sun.
The Greek version of Aquarius starred Ganymede, the most beautiful young man in the world. He was abducted by Zeus in the form of an eagle. Zeus set him up in the posh job of being the cup bearer of the Gods. One Olympian was not pleased—Hera. She became jealous of young Ganymede so Zeus, knowing what kind of insane tragedy could befall his young pal, set him in the sky as Aquarius.
The Greeks celebrated the marriage of Zeus and Hera during the month of Gamelian which is the time of mid January to February. Later Romans celebrated the days of February 13-15 as Lupercalia. Priests represented Faunus, who lived in the cave with babies Romulus and Remus while their “mother,” a wolf, suckled them. After the priests sacrificed a goat and a dog, they skinned them, ran around town naked in the skins, and whipped young woman lining the roads who wished to bear children without suffering.
I think OUR Valentine’s Day is much improved. :)
Mardi Gras is a wild and crazy time to let it all out before Ash Wednesday. The latter is the beginning of Lent—a time of repentance and mourning. Catholic Priests dab ashes on believers and recite, “Remember that thou art dust and to dust return.”