Wednesday 19 March 2014


Asherah is the consort of El. She is the Goddess (Elat), and the Queen of Heaven to whom cakes are baked.

As the bride of God, it is Asherah who goes before him while riding on a donkey. The feminine aspects of divinity in Canaanite religion are closer to humans than the masculine, and so Asherah serves as an intercessor between her children and El. She being the primal womb of the deep, all mortals and gods are her children. She is worshiped as the consort of El and independently as the Mother Goddess.

Asherah is shown as a woman with curly hair holding leaves in both of her hands. This is in her aspect as the Tree of Life and the Tree of Wisdom. All who seek her will find wisdom and life, as if eating fruit from the date palm tree, with which she is associated. She is also shown as flanked by goats or ibexes, which are associated with her as sacred animals. Asherah is also called the Lioness or Lion Lady (Labi'atu) due to her protective nature with her children. Another animal associated with Asherah is the serpent.

Along with El, Asherah was a creator of all life and the world. She rules her children as a loving mother, and is approached by both humans and deities. Despite this, she can have a fierce side as well, particularly in regard to cosmic order (as the story of Keret shows). She has several names or forms, including Shekhinah (the feminine form called the dwelling of God, the habitation of his holiness on earth) and Tanit (who is worshiped in the form of the Tanit sign).

She is worshiped in the home in the shrine of the Teraphim, where prayers are said to her in order to grant fertility to family members and to flocks of animals. Asherah is also worshiped on the shore of the sea, where she sits and weaves. Her epithet is 'Great Lady Who Treads Upon The Sea' (Rabatu ’Athiratu Yammi). Women serve her in the temples by weaving. Sailors coming into port also offer prayers to her, and at sea she is associated with dolphins. Asherah is also worshiped in the form of an Asherah Pole, a wooden pole carved with an image of the goddess places on green hills and under trees alongside stone altars to El or Baal.

Sunday 16 March 2014


El (meaning 'God') is the highest god, father god, and King of the Heavens in the Canaanite pantheon.  In Canaanite religion, he is the creator of the heavens and the earth, under his epithet Baniyu Banawati (the Creator of Creatures).

El is called the Ageless One, and is also called by the epithet Olam (Eternal).  He is Elyon (the Most High), and ruler of the elohim, the gods, who number 70.  El presides over the Divine Assembly as the patriarch and elder.

The early creation myths say that El came to power as leader of the younger generation of gods, under his father Shamem, in whom he made his heavenly dwelling with the gods.  He carried off heaven and held him above earth.  Still other myths imply that El preceded the heavens and the earth.

El resides atop Mount Kasu in the Hammon mountain range between Canaan and Khilikku in the Hurrian parts of Anatolia.  He dwells in a tent, or else in a palace behind seven doors, at the source of the two world oceans.  Occasionally he is visited here by his consort Asherah, who rides on a donkey.  But El is very far away, and has lived here since creation.  His remote location makes him seem distant in the lives of mortals.

He is portrayed as an old man with white hair and beard.  This shows his endless wisdom as the universe's supreme creator.  He wears robes and a tall crown or hat.  In his hand he carries a cup of wine and raises the other hand in a blessing, granting long life and a life of good fortune to his devotees.

El is described as a benevolent and kind god, very slow to anger.  His mercy is infinite, and he is called Kindly El the Compassionate (Lutipanu ’Ilu Du Pa’idu). 

He is the Father of Years (Abi Shanima), and is associated with the Bull as a sacred animal of kingship, being called Bull El or Thoru Ilu.  El is a drinker of wine and a lover of banquets, and he dines with the gods his children.  He is their father, the father of all mortals, and of all creation.  All of the gods bow to his authority, and his word is absolute, establishing with it the natural laws of the universe.  He also concerns himself with kings, anointing them with olive oil.

Other texts describe El as having four eyes, two opened and two closed, so he can see even while resting or sleeping.  This is because El is all-seeing.  He also has four wings, so he can rest with traveling.  Upon his head are two more wings, one for the ever-ruling mind and the other for sensation.  These were a gift to him by Baal Ta'awat, and he was pleased with these.

Despite his remoteness, El does communicate through dreams.  His worshipers, the Elohists, worship El as supreme.

Sunday 9 February 2014

The importance of truth to the priest

The priest is a guardian of truth and righteousness.  We live in a world in which humans play an important role.  We are below the gods, but we ourselves are beasts.  The difference is that we are closer to gods than the other animals.  This means that humans are not perfect.  We fail to have full and complete understanding of the universe.  We don't know everything, though sometimes we like to think that we do.

When it comes to religion and spirituality, many of us are confused.  After all there are many different ideas and viewpoints out there.  And with confusion there sometimes comes doubt.  Sometimes people fall into ignorance due to a lack of understanding of the rites.  They may live in fear of jealous and capricious gods, fearing superstitiously the wrath of these cruel and vengeful divinities.  They may even grow to hate the gods, seeing them as wicked beings of wrongdoing.  It is in this state of temporary imperfection that demons will attack that person mentally and spiritually.  Remember that demons live in an imperfect state themselves- in fact they are the children of imperfection and wrong.  When this occurs in humans, humans will temporarily lose their godliness, and the demons will attack them in their weakest areas like parasites.  Their intention is to either turn people away from the gods and their rites, or to make them wholly confused about what to make of the rites.

That is why the priest should be the guardian of truth.  The priests should always be open-minded, experienced with proper hermeneutics and exegesis when it comes to myths and texts, and prepared to work with the people closely and to help them with their problems.  And simply stating that you are open-minded and pious is not enough.  You must show it.  Your deeds must follow your words, or your words are untrue.  Too many priests these days are far more prepared to denounce people as heretics, or else to denounce worship of the gods altogether.  This cannot be what a truly pious individual does.  If you denounce worship of gods based on what myths about them may say, then you aren't taking them into proper context and are acting out of ignorance, which does not promote respect for the divinity but the opposite.

It is important for the priests to guard against ignorance and save the rites of the gods, and to lead the people to truth and understanding, helping them to embrace a vision of reality which is really true.  That is the role of the Canaanite priest.  How can we do it?  The answer I think lies in a philosophical and rational justification for religion.  This includes the works of Ya-milku, who himself lived in a time of great spiritual confusion.  Just as today, when many people turn confused towards materialism because of fear or hatred of the gods.  It is born from this very same form of confusion and ignorance of the spiritual.  So the spiritual must be taught properly through the mouth of the philosopher-priest.  Ya-milku himself was a philosopher-priest-noble-charash (theurgist magic-worker) in some way, as was his persona Abammon the Egyptian high priest.  He was a Canaanite charash of the order of the Chaldeans as it began in Syria.  This is how he plans to teach religion to the people, through magic and practical experience as it had always been performed in his homeland Syria.  He was a noble from a noble family descended from the priest-kings of Homs started by King Shamsigeramu I (several of these priest-kings also bore the name Ya-milku, a priestly name of much prestige related to the speaking and command of El).  But he also filled the role of a philosopher, specifically a Neoplatonist, who used philosophy to rationally justify theurgy and religion and the role that it has in society.  It is these philosopher-priests that we must aspire to be like.

Finally, we must remember that to combat spiritual ignorance is a sacred duty which will allow the light of truth to shine even through the thickest darkness.

Yishlam le-kum,

Saturday 1 February 2014

Religious intolerance is not a Canaanite (or religious) value

When I was young I enjoyed learning about many religious paths.  I saw them as many ways of reflecting truths given to different nations or cultures.  This is reflected in the idea of each of the 70 nations after the flood having its own guardian deity.  I have in my life spoken with Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Hellenists, Kemetics, Wathanists, Yezidis, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, and more.  I have visited many beautiful churches, stopped by gurdwaras, and admired the beauty of synagogues and mosques.  I have admired the glory of temples of many traditions.  I have engaged in their prayer services and I have had spiritual experiences there.

However, in recent times I've come to realize that not everyone shares this view.  Religious intolerance is nothing new of course.  Even in older times though, it might not be 'intolerant' so much as having chiefly political motivations.  An example is when the Philistines conquered a city, they defiled its temple by raising livestock there.  When the Assyrians conquered cities they destroyed the idols of its gods.  King Xshayarsha I of Persia brought his Persian army to suppress worship of Babylonian and Assyrian warlike deities in western Iran for fear of daeva (demon) worship and blood cults.  Much can also be said about the rise of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  The idea that your own god will protect you against the false gods of foreigners sprung up especially in times of war.

But it doesn't have any religious backing to it.  We especially as Canaanites should learn to put religious intolerance aside.  Calling other religions false religions, or demon-worshiping cults, does nothing to help our own.  All it does is alienate other people.  We mock and deride others yet we would not like it done to ourselves.  Instead, we should live virtuously and piously by obeying the gods.  In Ugarit the people prayed to many gods of other nations and were afraid to disrespect others.  We forget in our mortal short-sightedness sometimes that the great God himself has appointed spiritual beings to watch over all people, and that all ways can have some shards of truth in them (or reflections of truth). 

This goes for within our own tradition to.  There are Canaanites with a number of different theological viewpoints.  Rather than accusing them of being heretics or demon-worshipers, we should remember that just as different people prefer different things, so too we have different religions for this reason.

What remains certain is that religious intolerance has no religious basis to it.  There is no reason or purpose behind it.  Just remember that followers of other faiths are not your 'enemies'.  That is a simplistic worldview.

Ultimately we should remember that while nobody knows the answer to the question of how many gods there are, or whether some gods are really demons or devils, the fact still remains people still have God-given free will and freedom of choice to choose that way for themselves.  If it is a non-harmful lifestyle choice then you must allow them free will.  Our ancestors did this, and so should we (though they weren't always perfect, and neither are we).

Rather than waste energy on bashing or deriding other faiths, we Canaanites should instead spend energy on helping to promote and defend our own.  We should show the world what a glorious tradition is really is, and shatter their misconceptions, without resorting to a mud-slinging match in which we bash them for their freedom of choice.

To close, I would like to offer a proverb from a temple wall in Tadmor:

"Do not insult a god that you do not worship."

The Hearts of Enemies Laid Low- a poem by Ben-el Mem

The Hearts of Enemies Laid Low:

In eastern lands where Shemesh rise
Through heights of white-crowned Damavand
A risen king, so loved by gods, ascended to the throne
By earth and water reigning there- his empire great and bold
To Judah wealth in gold had flowed; in ruby, jade, and emerald
The House of God extravagant- it rose anew to tower high
From nearby came foxes sly- and cunning, with no fear of El,
Beholding grace of heaven fair, like Ishtar robed for Dawn,
And sought with sword and spear to slay,
Lay waste to blessed Judah-land
But though their hearts to envy moved,
The fear of kingship held them back,
The strong right arm of Yah the lord was reigning there on earth,
Feebly back to hills they tread,
Ambitions low forevermore, to Moab-land they sped,
To green hill citadel and field, on eastern banks of salty seas.

(This poem is mine and cannot be posted elsewhere without acknowledging me as the writer)

Friday 31 January 2014

Some quotations from the Book of Enoch with some explanations

"And one of those four went to that white bull and instructed him in a secret, without his being terrified: he was born a bull and became a man, and built for himself a great vessel and dwelt thereon; and three bulls dwelt with him in that vessel and they were covered in. And again I raised mine eyes towards heaven and saw a lofty roof, with seven water torrents thereon, and those torrents flowed with much water into an enclosure. And I saw again, and behold fountains were opened on the surface of that great enclosure, and that water began to swell and rise upon the surface, and I saw that enclosure till all its surface was covered with water. And the water, the darkness, and mist increased upon it; and as I looked at the height of that water, that water had risen above the height of that enclosure, and was streaming over that enclosure, and it stood upon the earth. And all the cattle of that enclosure were gathered together until I saw how they sank and were swallowed up and perished in that water. But that vessel floated on the water, while all the oxen and elephants and camels and asses sank to the bottom with all the animals, so that I could no longer see them, and they were not able to escape, (but) perished and sank into the depths. And again I saw in the vision till those water torrents were removed from that high roof, and the chasms of the earth were levelled up and other abysses were opened. Then the water began to run down into these, till the earth became visible; but that vessel settled on the earth, and the darkness retired and light appeared. But that white bull which had become a man came out of that vessel, and the three bulls with him, and one of those three was white like that bull, and one of them was red as blood, and one black: and that white bull departed from them. And they began to bring forth beasts of the field and birds, so that there arose different genera: lions, tigers, wolves, dogs, hyenas, wild boars, foxes, squirrels, swine, falcons, vultures, kites, eagles, and ravens; and among them was born a white bull. And they began to bite one another; but that white bull which was born amongst them begat a wild ass and a white bull with it, and the wild asses multiplied. But that bull which was born from him begat a black wild boar and a white sheep; and the former begat many boars, but that sheep begat twelve sheep. And when those twelve sheep had grown, they gave up one of them to the asses, and those asses again gave up that sheep to the wolves, and that sheep grew up among the wolves. And the Lord brought the eleven sheep to live with it and to pasture with it among the wolves: and they multiplied and became many flocks of sheep. And the wolves began to fear them, and they oppressed them until they destroyed their little ones, and they cast their young into a river of much water: but those sheep began to cry aloud on account of their little ones, and to complain unto their Lord. And a sheep which had been saved from the wolves fled and escaped to the wild asses; and I saw the sheep how they lamented and cried, and besought their Lord with all their might, till that Lord of the sheep descended at the voice of the sheep from a lofty abode, and came to them and pastured them."

This actually gives a fairly nice detail of animal symbolism for the various nations.  In context, this forms part of a vision or dream sequence within the text.  Enoch is dreaming, and sees a white bull.  That white bull is Noah, who lived in the days of the deluge.  A great flood appears and destroys all life on earth with its waters.  From Noah come many nations, depicted here as animals.  The elephants, camels, and asses who drown in the flood are the giants, Nephilim, and Elioud who lived on the earth in Noah's day.  From the white bull/man (Noah) comes a white bull (Shem), a red bull (Ham), and a black bull (Japheth).  The various animals represent the various nations.  The lions are the Babylonians, the tigers/leopards are the Assyrians, the wolves are the Egyptians, the dogs are the Philistines, hyenas are Syrians, wild boars are Edomites and Amalekites, foxes are Ammonites and Moabites, eagles are Macedonians, falcons are Thracians, kites are Ptolemies, ravens are Seleukids, and wild asses are Midianites.

Friday 24 January 2014

'The Theogonies' of Damaskios

Contains some information recorded about various theogonies or creation myths from different cultures:

   In the rhapsodies which pass under the name of Orphic, the theology, if any, is that concerning the Intelligible; and the philosophers thus interpret it. They place Chronus (Time) for the one principle of all things, and for the two Ether and Chaos: and they regard the egg as representing Being simply, and this they look upon as the first triad. But to complete the second triad they imagine as the god a conceiving and conceive egg, or a white garment, or a cloud, because Phanes springs forth from these. But concerning this middle (subsistence) different philosophers have different opinions. Whatever it may be they look upon it as Mind; but for Father and Power some of them imagine other things which have no connexion with Orpheus. And in the third triad they substitute for it Metis, whilst they place Ericapaeus as Power, and Phanes as Father.
   But the middle triad is never to be placed according to the triformed god (Phanes) as absolutely conceived in the egg: for the middle subsistence always shadows out each of the extremes, as should this, which must partake at once both of the egg and of the triformed god. And you may perceive that the egg is the united (subsistence) or principle of union; and the triformed god, who is multiform about being, is the separated principle of the Intelligible; but the middle subsistence, being united as far as it relates to the egg, and already separated as far as it relates to the god, may be considered as existing altogether as in the act of separation: such is the common Orphic theology.
But the theology delivered by Hieronymus and Hellanikos is as follows:—He says that water was from the beginning, and Matter, from which the Earth was produced, so that he supposes that the two first principles were Water and Earth; the latter of which is of a nature liable to separation, but the former a substance serving to conglutinate and connect it: but he passes over as ineffable the one principle prior to these two, for its recondite nature is evinced, in that there is no manifestation appertaining to it. The third principle after these two, which is generated from them, that is from the Water and Earth, is a Dragon having the heads of a Bull and Lion naturally produced, and in the middle, between these, is the countenance of the God: he has, moreover, wings upon his shoulders, and is denominated incorruptible Chronus (Time) and Herakles. Fate also, which is the same as Nature, is connected with him, and Adrastia, which is incorporeally co-extensive with the universe, and connects its boundaries in harmony. I am of opinion that this third principle is regarded as subsisting according to essence, inasmuch as it is supposed to exist in the nature of male and female, as a type of the generating principle of all things.
   And in the rhapsodies I conceive that the (Orphic) theology, passing over the two first principles, together with the one preceding those two which is delivered in silence, establishes the third, which is properly posterior to the other two, as the first principle, inasmuch as it is the first which has something effable in its nature, and commensurate with human conversation. For the venerable and incorruptible Chronus (Time) was held in the former hypothesis to be the father of Ether and Chaos: but in this he is passed over, and a Serpent substituted: and the threefold Ether is called intellectual, and Chaos boundless, and the dark cloudy Erebus is added to them as a third. He delivers, therefore, this second triad as analogous to the first, this being potential as was that paternal. Wherefore the third subsistence of this triad is dark Erebus, and its paternal principle and summit Ether, subsisting not simply but intellectually, and the middle derived from it is boundless Chaos. But with these it is said Chronus generated the egg, for this relation makes it a procession of Chronus, and born of these, inasmuch as from these procceds the third Intelligible triad. What, then, is this triad? The egg, the duad of the natures of male and female contained in it, and the multitude of the all-various seeds in the middle of it; and the third subsistence in addition to these is the incorporeal god, with golden wings upon his shoulders, who has the heads of bulls springing forth from his internal parts, and upon his head an enormous serpent, invested with the varied forms of beasts. This, therefore, is to be taken as the Mind of the triad: but the middle processions, which are both the Many and the Two, must be regarded as Power, but the egg as the paternal principle of this third triad. But the third god of this third triad, the theology now under discussion celebrates as Protogonus (First-born), and calls him Dis, as the disposer of all things, and the whole world: upon that account he is also denominated Pan. Such are the hypotheses which this genealogy lays down concerning the Intelligible principles.
But the cosmogony which is delivered by the Peripatetic Eudemus as being the theology of Orpheus, passes the whole Intelligible order in silence, as altogether ineffable and unknown, and incapable of discussion or explanation. He commences from Night, which Homer also constitutes his first principle, if we would render his genealogy consistent. Therefore we must not put confidence in the assertion of Eudemus, that Homer makes it commence from Oceanus and Tethys; for it is manifest that he regards Night as the greatest divinity, which is implied in the following line, where he says that she is reverenced by Zeus himself—
He feared lest he should excite the displeasure of swift Night.
Homer, therefore, must be supposed to commence from Night.
But Hesiod, when he affirms that Chaos was the first produced, appears to me to regard Chaos as the incomprehensible and perfectly united nature of the Intelligible. From thence he deduces Earth as the first principle of all the generation of the gods, unless, perhaps, he may regard Chaos as the second subsistence of the two principles: in which case Earth and Tartaros, and Eros (Love), compose the three-fold Intelligible, Eros being put for the third subsistence, considered according to its convertive nature. Orpheus also in his rhapsodies has adopted a very similar disposition, for he places the Earth for the first, being the first that was conglomerated into a compact and essential substance, while he places Tartaros as the middle, as having already, in a manner, a tendency towards disunion.
But Acusilaus appears to me to regard Chaos as the first principle and altogether unknown, and after this one to place the duad, Erebos as the male and Night as the female, the latter being substituted for infinity, and the former for bound; and from a connexion between these were generated Ether and Eros (Love), and Metis (Counsel), these three being the Intelligible hypostases, of which he places Ether as the summit, Eros as the middle in compliance with the natural intervention of love, and Metis as the third, inasmuch as it is already highly-venerable Intellect. And from these, according to the relation of Eudemus, he deduces the vast multitude of the other gods.
Epimenides affirms that the two first principles are Air and Night: whence it is evident that he reverences in silence the one principle which is prior to the two: from which, I conceive, he holds that Tartaros is generated regarding it as a nature in a manner compounded of the two; for some, indeed, regard the principle which is derived from these two as a kind of Intelligible intermediate subsistence or mediety, properly so called, inasmuch as it extends, itself to both extremities, the summit and the boundary; for by their connexion with one another, an egg is generated which is properly the very Intelligible animal from which again proceeds another progeny.
But Pherekydes Syrius considers the three first principles to be an Ever-vital subsistence, Chronus, and an Earthly subsistence; placing, as I conceive, the One prior to the Two, and the Two posterior to the One: and that Chronus generated from himself Fire, and Spirit, and Water, representing, I presume, the threefold nature of the Intelligible: from which, when they became distributed into five recesses, were constituted a numerous race of gods, called the five-times animated order, equivalent to what he might call a five-fold world. But another opportunity may perhaps occur for the discussion of this part of the subject. Such and of a similar description are the hypotheses which are received by us relative to the Greek mythological fables, which are numerous and very various.
But the Babylonians, like the rest of the Barbarians, pass over in silence the One principle of the Universe, and they constitute Two, Tiamat and Apsu; making Apsu the husband of Tiamat, and denominating her the mother of the gods. And from these proceeds an only-begotten son, Mummu, which I conceive is no other than the Intelligible world proceeding from the two principles. From them, also, another progeny is derived, Lahmu and Lahamu; and, again, a third, Kishar and Anshar, from which last three others proceed Anu, and Ellil, and Ea. And of Ea and Damkina is born a son called Bel, who, they say, is the fabricator of the world, the Demiurge.
But of the Magi and all the Aryan race, according to the relation of Eudemus, some denominate the Intelligible Universe and the United, Place, while others call it Time (Zurvan): from whom separately proceed a Good Divinity and an Evil Demon; or, as some assert, prior to these, Light and Darkness. Both the one, therefore, and the other, after an undivided nature, hold the twofold co-ordination of the superior natures as separated and distinct, over one of which they place Ohrmazd as the ruler, and over the other Ahriman.
The Sidonians, according to the same writer, before all things place Ulom, and Hob, and Arapel, (Time, Love, and Cloudy Darkness). And by a connection between Hob and Arapel, as the Two principles are generated Baad and Ruach (Air and a Gentle Breeze), substituting Air for the summit of the Intelligible, and the Breeze arising from it for the vivifying prototype of the Intelligible. And from these two again is generated Utu (the Night Raven), representing, as I conceive, the Intelligible Mind.
But independent of the collections of Eudemus we find the mythology of the Canaanites thus delivered according to Mosheh. First was Ether and Air, which are the Two first principles; from these was produced Ulom, the Intelligible God, and, as I conceive, the summit of the Intelligible: from whom, by a connection with himself, was produced Kothar, the first expanding principle, and then the Egg: by the latter I imagine they mean the Intelligible Mind; but by Kothar, the Intelligible Power, being the first nature which separates an unseparate subsistence, unless, perhaps, after the two principles the summit may be the one Wind; but to the middle, the two winds South-West and South, for sometimes they place these prior to Ulom. In which case Ulom himself would be the Intelligible Mind, and the expanding Kothar the first order after the Intelligible, and the Egg Heaven: for it is said, that by the rupture of it into two parts heaven and earth were produced each from one of its two severed parts.
Of the Egyptian doctrines Eudemus gives us no accurate information. But the Egyptian philosophers, who are resident among us, have explained their occult truth, having obtained it from certain Egyptian discourses. According to them, then it appears to be this. The One principle of the Universe is celebrated as Unknown Darkness, and this three-times pronounced as such: and the Two principles are Water and Sand, according to Heraiskos; but according to Asklepiades, who is the more ancient of the two, Sand and Water, from whom, and next in succession after them, is generated the first Kamutef, and from this a second, and from this again a third, which, they affirm, completes the whole Intelligible distribution. Such is the system of Asklepiades. But the more modern Heraiskos says that the third, who is named Kamutef from his father and grandfather, is the Sun, equivalent in this case to the Intelligible Mind. But greater accuracy upon the subject can only be obtained from these authors themselves. It must be observed, however, with regard to the Egyptians, that they are often wont to distribute subsistences according to union, as when they divide the Intelligible into the individualities of a multitude of gods, as may be learnt from their own writings by those who will examine them: I refer particularly to the commentary of Heraiskos upon the Egyptian doctrine addressed to Proklos the philosopher alone, and to the concordance of the Egyptian writers, begun by Asklepiades and addressed to the other Theologists.