4. The Bull of Heaven


The God JHVH, acc. to K.G.Kuhn[1] “plural of majesty” of Jah with the original stem, Jau, has been the object of worship back to times immemorial, and He has, acc. to Enno Littmann, some connection with the Indo-Iranian Dyauh Pita and Juppiter and Zeus with Dio as the stem (by word of mouth[2]).

But I would also like to call the reader's attention to the old cultic call: Jo, Ju, Ja, in Athens Eleleu ju ju, conf the biblical Hallelu-ja. In Rome the old king of the primordial golden time and the Saturnalia is greeted with Jo Saturnalia. In Crete the newborn/reborn Zeus is greeted with the cultic call: “Jo Megiste Koure...” In Athens the call mourns the old king’s death and celebrates the young king, Theseus, coming to the throne.

The call, Hyês Attês, is in our opinion “Ia Father”. A Greek inscription in Pisidia speaks about “the Hyiênians”[3], the name of the town is, acc. to G.E.Bean: Hyia. This transcription of Anatolian sounds makes it rather safe to assume Hyê = Hyie = Iia. Pisidian names, Trokôndos, Eia, Ias bear evidence to the gods Tarku- & Iia[4]. The two last mentioned are girls' names. The God is the symbol of an androgynous ideal, and in the Hellenistic age Ja is the female partner of Attis. Ph.H.J.Houwink ten Cate[5] has collected important material on Iia.


This name belongs to a very old tradition around the changing of universal kingship. Saturn is king, the Oschophoria-feast celebrates an old king’s death, a new king's coming. In the Old Test the holy name is connected to the Lord's epiphany, in our opinion his coming to the temple to be enthroned as JHVH mlk, as king of the universe on the throne of cherubim in the debir (“Holy of Holies”), cf. that Jesus is given the holy name as enthroned over the universe, Phil 2. It all goes back to the very old “kingship of heaven”-motif where the young god kills the Lord of chaos to take revenge for his killing his father. In Crete this is still visible, as Zeus is the young god being born in secrecy, hid from the eyes of the cruel god-king, Cronos. Uranos, the god of heaven, is castrated by the leader of the demons, Cronos, but Zeus takes revenge and conquers the kingdom of heaven.


In Ugarit the Bull-El wants his son Jamm to be Jaw and king of the universe. Fighting for the kingship (mlk) is the main motif of the great Baal-epos. Also Typhon, who claims the kingship from Zeus, is called Jao on seals from the Hellenistic period.

Johs. Lyd. de mens 4,53 it is told that JAO in the Phoenician tongue means “supernatural light” (phos noetos).


A coin from Hellenistic Gaza and often dealt with in scientific literature shows on one side a warrior, on the other side a god sitting on a winged wheel with a bird sitting on his hand, in our opinion the mystical Phoenix. At his feet a baitylos (a stone raised as a house for a god) with human features. The god on the flying wheel is called JHW[6]. E.L.Sukenik, W.F.Albright, R.Dussaud read the inscription as JHD = Judah, but this is not accepted by Cook, Zeus, III, p.1072. We will try to show that JHW gives good meaning, cf. Mandaic gods like Ju-rabba and the peacock, Jo-sjamin. The peacock played an important role in the religious world of Gaza, cf. Prokopios of Gaza's description of the peacock in his Ekphrasis (P.Friedländer, Spätantiker Gemäldezyklus in Gaza, 1939).

Ju-rabba (pronounced Yurba[7]) is “the Great Yo, whom the Jews call Adonai”. Jo-shamin, the peacock, can be compared with the eagle of Baalshamin, he is also called “the strength of the waters”[8] like the Sumerian Ea and the West Semitic El.


J.P.Milik[9] mentions Zeus Sima as one of 4 gods connected to a sanctuary outside Beirut and he translates: “Zeus the Name”.

In Gaza there was a picture of the Greek goddess Jo with a cow at her side. Is she the female partner of JHW? This goddess seems to be of Syrian origin.

Acc to a tradition, the people of Antioch knock at one another's doors on a certain day every year asking for a resting place for Jo's spirit[10]. The story about her wanderings, or her being carried off by Zeus Picus, king of the west, is a close parallel to the abduction of Europa. Like Europa being wed to Asterios, poor Jo is held captive by Argos Panoptes, like Asterios a symbol of the starry sky. When his head was cut off by Hermas and Jo released, his many eyes were transferred to the peacock’s tail. The peacock is a symbol of the sky with its 1000 lights. The name Argos means “the bright one”.




The Gnostic-Coptic miscellany Pistis Sophia speaks about the books of Yew (ieou), “which I have made Enoch write in Paradise, discoursing with him out of the tree of the Gnosis and out of the tree of life. And I made him deposit them in the rock Ararad”[11]. Jesus calls Yew “the father of my father”, i.e. the highest God. He is also called “the First Man Yew”. How this name is related to the name Iao also mentioned in Pistis Sophia is not clear.


The coin from Gaza shows us a god travelling/flying in the course of the sun to the vision of the primordial light on the primordial mountain. The mystical bird, which is itself a symbol of the light, shows him the way. He has domesticated it.

It cannot be proved that this god has a consort, Jo, but it could be proved that a certain pattern exists: a goddess, Io/Europa, has to be liberated from being held captive by a god representing heaven or primordial unity seen as the world mountain or the cosmic snake.


Duality:_god – goddess

= Creation/procreation

Unity: the goddess held captive by the god of eternity

= Passive mystical unity


the primordial couple

Zas /Sandan – Xthonie

Pherecydes: Chronos ("Time") creating the world mountain, the primordial world massive, the pyramid with its five corners out of his own sperm.

Kadmos – Harmonia ( Europa)

Harmonia held captive by the dragon of Ares

Philo of Byblos:

El Cronos – The wives of Uranos taken by El Cronos.


Uranos on top of his wife united to her.


Kadmos’ fight with Typho is a variant of Sandan’s fight.

Kadmos and Europa are “East” (Sem.: qdm) and “West” (´rb): Duality.


Argos and Typho are both put to sleep = trance by the young god playing the flute.

The text for the old Hittite purulli-feast is obviously a forerunner of the Typho-myth, and describes how the Weathergod (dIM) is defeated by the dragon, Illuianka. To finally conquer the snake, a goddess must give herself to a mortal man in a place called Ziggaratta, a high mountain.

That this alone is able to bring defeat upon the monster, is seen from the structure dealt with above: the dragon is mystical unity of male and female gender. By establishing the holy polarity between man and woman, the first creative wedlock has come into existence. The purpose of the purulli-feast is that the country should be firmly grounded/secure (Hitt.:pahsanu). From the descriptions of Typho in late Hellenistic time (Nonnos: “polymorpheous”, cf. Hesiod “tireless”), it is important to note the unstable, latent, floating, amorphous nature of the monster[12]. This unstructured nature is even imposed upon Zeus when he is defeated by the dragon.

The above-mentioned main structure in West-semitic religion has already been dealt with by W.Daum. On the front page of his book, Ursemitische Religion, there is a beautiful picture of the young child-like god liberating a goddess covered with leaves from an old god pictured as the coiled cosmic snake with a body coiling upwards with a demon-like lion's head.This picture is from a South Arabian temple. The motif shown here is almost similar, but with fewer coils, and the mystical rosette on the snake's breast.


7th cent. B.C. from Curium, Cyprus (Rawlinson, p.323).


Typho is seen as a double-snake. He has a female partner, Echidne. He is a giant reaching from the sky to the bottom of the sea. As a matter of fact, his name indicates that he is also the cosmic paradise mountain, Tsaphon/Typhon, and in a Hittite version of the myth he is a gigantic stone-pillar cut down by the sun-god and the weather god. The primordial snake and the primordial massive mountain are closely connected symbols.


The JAO-gems from the Hellenistic Middle East show a warrior named Jao, and as his feet 2 snakes and a cock’s head: the kundalini-double snake ascends and is turned into the bird of ecstasy. The Cilician Typhon is pictured in the same way with snakes as legs. In fact, this creature must be seen in connection with the South-Anatolian god Ja.

 On a list of priests serving at the Corycian cave where, acc to the Typhon-myth, this monster had its lair, we find the names Tarkymbies, Eianbies, Trokozarmasa, Janzarmas, acc. to E.Herzfeld[13] proof of the gods Tarku and Jan.

Acc. to Philo of Byblos Jao is hailed in Phoenician mysteries as the supernatural light. Typhon-Jao is primordial totality, the primal mystical unity of the universe. It can be seen as shapeless matter being cut/divided into two by Zeus’s sickle.



The first gem carries the inscription: Jao Abrasax. The Greek letters of the word Abrasax, or Abraxas, have the numerical value of 365, which makes Abrasax a name for the god Aiôn, the Hellenistic god for time and eternity. This god, Aiôn, is mostly pictured as a man standing with a snake coiling around his torso, ascending in seven coils and placing its head on the god’s forehead. The likeness to the Indian kundalini-snake rising through 7 cakras to the scull seems very obvious.

From being the younger aspect of the highgod, the Bull, the South Anatolian god, Ja, has developed more into a personification of the highgod as primordial reality experienced in the mystical vision. As proved by H.Th.Bossert[14] the Roman god, Janus, has an Anatolian forefather: a man with a double face stands before the god as his priest or vizier. His double face indicates that he is an ecstatic, and one with primordial reality (he has made two into One).

Zan, Janus, Diana: the -n is not an independent sound, but a nasal sound attached to the vowel (also known from Tarqiunius, Triambe, Jambe). It is well-known from Polish.

Reiteration is also a common feature in Anatolian languages:


Ja, Ieie paian, Aiaia.

Kush, Kaukasus

Ar, Ariarathe, Urartu


A very old Roman god is Janus. He is the god of all beginning, the primeval god. He has his female counterpart in Diana, goddess of the moon as pointed out by E.Preller whose excellent description of Roman Mythology[15] has a chapter devoted to this god. He is in our opinion the old high god stemming from Anatolia. Janus is the God of living waters: He has a son called Fontus (“wellspring”). He is the creator of nature. But the Anatolian high god called Ja (with a nasal) has as his son the guardian of the gate of the sun, and as this gate has two pillars and is the symbol of primordial unity split into two, there are often two guardians seen as the primordial twins. This is the reason why Janus is also the god of gates. When the Romans were involved in war, the two doors of the small temple were opened. We may assume that these two doors were the two gates through which the sun enters the visible universe at dawn and leaves at sunset. By opening the doors there will be wide space and free passage for the sun to run its course - and for the sun warrior to create “Lebensraum” (space for life) in primordial massiveness symbolised by the dragon or the primordial mountain or both - for this is the old Indogermanic purpose of war.


It seems as if these highgods from Anatolia are so closely connected to their female counterpart that the wife often bears a name which is only a kind of feminine gender of the name of the male god


Janus - Diana

Dio (Zeus) - Dione

Zas (Sandan) - Sauska

Faunus - Fauna


The last mentioned is an old god of folk religion and farming. As in the Anatolian myth connected to the cult of Sabazios he changed himself into a snake and then made himself guilty of having intercourse with his daughter, after he had made her drunk and whipped her naked body with twigs[16]. The snake as the symbol of sexual power, the intoxication and the gravest promiscuous behaviour are also typical of the old Anatolian religion centred around the cult of the Great Hunter.

The most obvious Roman representative of the Great Hunter is Picus, the young hunter[17]. He is seen hunting by Circe and she wants love from him. The young man is not willing and in revenge he is changed into a woodpecker and now in his great anger and frustration he beats the trunks of the wood with his strong beak (the hunter being an enemy to the vegetation). The young hunter is the young ecstatic losing his ecstatic energy by his fatal meeting with the female sex. But Faunus and Picus are not clear-cut types. Faunus has the demonic behaviour of the hunter and Picus has the tragic death of the god of vegetation: the faithful Canens roams through wild nature seeking him for 6 days and nights. (The women seeking and mourning for the dead god of vegetation.)

The name Ju/Jaw/Jahu/Djau (the many variants are witnesses to the antiquity of the name) must be an old name of the highgod. Even the myth of the wanderings of the moon-cow Jo carries a remnant of this old name for the moon as the golden horns of the heavenly bull. He survives in Anatolian folk-religion as Menotyrannos, as Attis/Papas (= Father), as the Taurobolium, and as the divine bull slain by Mithras. It is still, both in the mysteries of Mithras and in the Taurobolium, the life-fluids of the bull, the blood (or semen) that is most important. G.Widengren has shown that in the Babylonian New Year's ritual a bull is sacrificed and hailed as “Great bull, High bull, Divine bull, Shining bull, that enlightens (the darkness)”. Acc. to Widengren the bull is a kind of scape-goat and the cultic representation of a suffering and dying god of the Tammuz-type[18], and Widengren draws the parallel to the Yom Kippur-ritual with the offering of a young bull and a buck and a ram, and even to Is 53[19].

Now it is important to remember that Yom Kippur was one of the very few occasions where the holy JHVH-name could be mentioned (6 times over the bull, 3 times for the buck and one time for Urim and Tumim, the holy lot-casting device). Note the triple structure of both the sacrifice and the mentioning of the divine name.[20]

Characteristic of the JHVH-god is the personal relations to his followers. He is called father (just like Attis = Papas) as can be seen from the name Ab-raham/Ab-ram (= Father is the High). The foster mother of Moses is called Bitjah “Daughter of Jah”  (1.Chron 4,18). A man from Kuntillet Ajrud on the Border of Sinai is called hljw = “Jaw is (maternal) uncle”[21]. The meaning of the name Job is “Where is the (divine) Father?” cf. Ikabod = “Where is the Glory?”

Ja is the name of the bull-god, or perhaps rather the name of his son (Ea, Jw in Ugarit). It seems a name so old that it has stiffened into cultic cries with a lost meaning: Eleleu ju ju, Je Paian (Paian is the “healing dawn”, acc. to Kereny,: Asclepios), Jo. It is not used as a name for Attis, but for his female partner Ja, who most certainly is only the female aspect of an androgynous numen. The same development can be seen with Jo, the cow held captive by the highgod, Argos. As the divine cow closely connected to the moon, she is also the female partner of the androgynous numen of the highgod.


From Salamis in Cyprus come the two brothers, Teucer and Ajas (Tarku & Ja), Teucer being the founder of this city. The strong one, Ajas, kills himself, and out of his blood a new flower appears, much like the hyacinth, bearing letters which spell Ai! Ai! – the name of the hero[22]. It seems that Teucer with his bow and Ajas are the same as the pair Apollo and Hyacinthos. In both names we find a suffix -ak (Ajax,Hya-ac-inthos) added to the stem, Ja. The same suffix is found in the Lydian word for vine, môlax, a stem which must have some connection to the magical plant saving Odysseus on the island of Circe[23] “in the language of the gods called môly” acc. to Dioskurides from Cilicia, a Cappadocian word[24].

The island of Aiaia with Circe singing at her loom is the paradise island, conf. the Syrian goddess, ´Athirath, with her spindle. Here Odysseus kills a very big and splendid stag. Here Hermes shows him the magical plant which is the mystical union, not of four leaves, but of the two contrasting colours, black and white. It can only be culled by the gods. Circe is the aunt of Medea, the same names figure in the heroic deeds of Perseus (Medusa and Gorgo). The Golden Fleece is guarded by Aeétes at the top of a tree guarded by a dragon (the symbol of ecstasy at the top of the world pillar). Aiaia, the island of Circe, must be the paradisiacal numen of the highgod Iia, and the union of Odysseus with Circe is the mystical union of male with female as an important stage on the journey to paradise. The island, Aiaia, is at the centre of the world: it was impossible to decide what was east and what was west and where the sun was setting[25]. Butterworth[26] has proved that Circe’s island is the Omfalos (“navel”) of the earth, and Circe is the goddess sitting at the centre of the universe weaving the thread of destiny (perhaps also the patterns of cosmos; the motif seems very old and common to Syrian and Nordic religion).

In Iran the just man coming to heaven will meet a beautiful virgin, the daena (perhaps from dhéna, an Indian word for cow). She is, acc. to Widengren, the Indo-Iranian mother-goddess with whom the king has to celebrate his hieros gamos, his holy union[27]. In Mesopotamia the king has to ascend the temple tower with its seven levels as a symbol of the paradise mountain. On the summit he has to celebrate holy union with a woman, who, acc. to Herodot, must be of native birth.


The female part of the hieros gamos is a representative of the land, the earth. With her pigs Circe is a representative, an “avatara” of the earth goddess, Demeter. The union with Circe is eternal bliss, mystical ecstasy seen as a state of inactivity Odysseus has to break off from as his men urge him to continue their journey. Like Demeter with Demophon, Circe has a magical juice, a life-renewing unction. When anointed with this, the men look younger and stronger.

We find traces of a very old and very important myth about the sun-hero travelling in the course of the sun or to the land of the sun, to the paradise-mountain or -island. Also Perseus' attack on Medusa is a penetration into transcendent mystical vision. The vision of Medusa will turn the hero, not only into a state of inactivity, but immobility, turn him into stone. Note that poor Enkidu is turned into some mystical immobility after confronting Huwawa.

A reason for this motif could be the fact that mystic vision can only be obtained in a state of absolute tranquility, all the senses of the body sleeping. This state threatens to be lethal: in India the state of samadhi will either kill the mystic within three days or let him return to life as god and guru.

To find Medusa's cave west of the sunset, Perseus has to rob and use an eye taken from the Graeae, three old women having only one eye to share: the 3 Graeae and the 3 Gorgos are symbols of utmost reality often seen as a trinity, and the magical eye by which one is able to see through transcendent darkness, the primeval mountain transcending all differentiation, is the mystical vision, the eye of the soul[28].


A Kassite God was named Bugas, cf. Slav. bog, Vedic bhaga; old Pers. baga. Acc. to Nehring[29] the root could best be understood on the background of a very old Near Eastern word for “bull”, buga~buka, Southern Turkish boga, Uigurish (8-10.cent.) buqa, Mongol. (13.cent.) buka, German Bock, Armen. buc[30]. In Kassite there is also a horse called Bugas, so it seems likely that the word is more a divine numen than a real god[31]. It can also be used as a title “prince” (Balkan, ibd.). The old bull symbolism is still alive, shedding divine glory on chiefs and gods.

In Asia Minor we find a god, Ijaja/ Aya, wife of the Sun-god, Simegi. Why do we not find a male god with this name? Because he is overshadowed by the Mesopotamian Ea, also well known in Anatolian pantheons. We have, among the many divine mountains, a Mt Iya(u)-wanda, where -wanda is a very common ending[32]. There is a river with the same name (ibd.).


W.F.Albright has already in 1961 in a short note[33] pointed out the amazing similarity between the Neolithic culture dug out by Mellaart in Catal Hüyük and the 2nd and latest pre-ceramic period in Jericho. It proves to this famous archaeologist that the prehistoric civilisations from Pisidia stretched through all the Middle East. Ch. Picard concludes in a commentary on the same subject[34] that the findings made in Anatolia must from now on “be taken into direct consideration in all comparative studies” of the Near Eastern pattern.

Our small excursion to South Arabia has proved to what an amazing degree some religious patterns can survive thousands of years. Religion has proved to be a most conservative phenomenon building on tradition. Especially in a cultural periphery in the deserts of South Arabia some motifs can remain unchanged for an enormous span of centuries. In the last chapter of this book we shall see how old motifs from Catal Hüyük like the wild hunt, the changing of men into leopards/wolves, the charging of the wild boar, the coiling snakes have survived in the northern periphery of our culture, in Scandinavia.

But our small side-glance to modern South Arabia has also proved that traces of very old folk religion are stored up in the fairytales, a fact already noticed by the German scholar Otto Huth (to whom we will return later).

In Hellenistic times the main god of Inner Anatolia was Men (the moon). That the sacred bull of Catal Hüyük was an epiphany of the moon god cannot be seen from the archaeological evidence but it comes out very clearly in the South Arabian version of the old pattern.


[1] Über die Entstehung des Namens Jahwe”, p.40, Orientalische Studien, Enno Littmann zu Geburtstag, herausg. v. R.Paret, 1935

[2] ibd. p.42

[3] AnSt 10, 1960, pp.80f.

[4] AnSt 10, pp.49,74,82

[5] The Luwian Population Groups of Lycia and Cilicia, pp.138-77

[6] A.B.Cook, Zeus, I, p.232, fig.171; J.P.Six NUM. CHRON. New Series 1877, xvii, 229 no.43, ibd. 1878, xviii 123ff. no. 3 pl. 6,8.

[7] Cf. both Lidzbarski, Ginza 258n1 & R.Macuch, Handbuch of Classical and Modern Mandaic, p.3

[8] E.S.Drower, The Thousand and Twelve Questions, 1960, p.171

[9] Recherches d´epigraphie Proche-orientale. I. 1972 pp.416ff.

[10] Joh. Malalas,Chronicles ii p.28 ed. Dindorff

[11] Chap. 134, §354

[12] F.Vian in: Elements orientaux dans la religion grecque ancienne, 1960, p.34

[13] Jahrbuch d. kais. deutsch. arch. Inst., 1909, xxiv Arch.Anz., p.435

[14] Janus und der Mann mit der Adler- oder Greifenmaske, 1959, pp.1f.

[15] Römische Mythologie,1858

[16] Preller, pp.340f.

[17] Ovid Met. XIV, 313-434

[18] Religionsphänomenologie, 1969, pp.291ff.

[19] ibd. 290f.;298

[20] Der Toseftatraktat, bei Göran Larsson, 1980, pp.148f. In a confession Lev 16,6ff.

[21] Z.Meshel, Kuntillet  Ajrud: A Religious Centre from the Time of the Judaean Monarchy, 1978

[22] Ovid Met.XIII,382ff.

[23] Od. X, 302ff.

[24] III, 46[24]

[25] X 190ff

[26] The Tree at the Navel of the Earth, 1970, pp.8f.,28ff.,l80ff.

[27] Religionsphanomenologie, p.498

[28] See J.Fontenrose, Python, 1959, pp.285f

[29] Studien zur indogermanische Kultur und Heimat, 82, Wiener Beitrage zur Kulturgeschichte und Linguistik, 4, 1936

[30] K.Balkan, Kassitenstudien, 1. Die Sprache der Kassiten, 1954, p.103

[31] Balkan, ibd.

[32] H.Gonnet: “Les Montagnes d`Asie Mineure”, RHA XXVI, 1968, p.108

[33] AJA 65,p.399

[34] Rev Arch 1962, p.242