Wednesday 22 August 2012

Sacred geography

There are certain areas which are sacred to certain gods.  Obviously, there can be found spirits dwelling within all things, even down to door-bolts and musical instruments.  It is also important to remember that the gods make their homes in cities as well, with Canaanite religion being more urban-based than nature-based.

There are three layers to the universe.  I have discussed some ideas about cosmology in my analysis of creation myths, but to put it simply: there are the heavens above, the earth below, and the underworld beneath.  There are also the cosmic waters, held above the firmament and below the ground.  The mountains are the pillars of heaven, reaching up into the skies.  Below the earth can be found mountains and lakes of the deep, and these chthonic mountains act as the foundations which hold up the earth.  Certain gods can make their dwelling in heaven, on earth, or in the underworld.  Baal oversees the heavens, Yam the seas, and Mot the underworld.

Certain natural areas are sacred to certain gods.  For example, the source of the great rivers are said to begin at El's throne.  Caves and wells are sacred to Choron and believed to be entrances to the underworld.  Groves of trees are sacred to the goddess, Asherah.  The seas are sacred to Yam, and springs to Mari.  Deserts are where hungry Mot makes his home.  The shores of the sea are home to Asherah.  The Adon valley and river are sacred to the god with the same name.

In the stars, certain constellations represent various gods.  The Scorpion is sacred to Ushkharaya, the Twins to Shachar and Shalim.

Now certain gods live atop certain mountains.  El lives atop Mount Kasu, while Baal lives atop Mount Zapan.  The whole assembly of the gods meet atop Mount Lel.  The Sinai and Peor are also known to have their own gods, one of whom- Baal Peor- may be either Shamash, Chemosh, or Haru, or another god entirely.

Now the gods also have certain cult-cities or lands where they are said to dwell, and here is a short list:

Dagon lives in Tuttul and Gaza.
Anat and Ashtart live in Inbab.
Yarikh lives in Larugat, Hazor, and Jericho.
Resheph lives in Babut.
Ashtart lives in Mari.
Chemosh lives in Churyat and Moab.
Milcom lives in Ammon and Ashtart.
Zeduq lives in Shalem/Jebus/Jerusalem.
Kothar lives in Kaphtor (Crete) and Menef, in Egypt.
Choron lives in Masad.
Baalat Gebal and Adon live in Gebal.
Yam lives in Be'erot.
Anat lives in Javan (Greece).

In addition to this, the gods also have their own peoples who formed a covenant with them:

Baal is the god of the Canaanites.
Ashtart is the goddess of the Sidonians.
Melek is the god of the Ammonites.
Chemosh is the god of the Moabites.
Qaush is the god of the Edomites.
Melqart is the god of the Tyrians.
Dagon is the god of the Philistines.
Amor is the god of the Amorites.

From, the mountains and waters

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