It is Wednesday – Odin’s Day – and so therefore, as has become our custom, some fine devotional (a)art-i.
Except this exquisite piece is not from the Northlands of Scandinavia – rather, its provenance is that most mysterious of Indo-European lands … far-flung Central Asia. Khotan, amidst the deserts and mountains fringing China’s western edge in what is nowadays the Taklamakan Desert just north of Tibet. A place today known as Dandan Oilik.
So the question must obviously be asked – why am I posting this depiction upon this day? Who was this figure known as, to its depictors? What may be the linkage between this expression and the core ‘essence’ of the most salient Spear-Wielder of the Indo-European Pantheon?
Well, to answer that is a rather complex affair, and hinges around the highly theoretical developments I have drawn together from almost half a dozen Indo-European mytho-cultural spheres of bygone eras. So let’s start with the general position of this specific depiction in contemporary academia and then work our way toward the truth from there.
Now, as I have written about on various previous occasions – there’s a bit of a ‘blind-spot’ for many academics writing about Central Asian Indo-European matters. That blind-spot is Hinduism, and Hindu saliency – along with, to a certain extent, the more authentic, original, and ‘free-standing’ elements to Scythian sphere myth and religion. Academics dealing with this area tend to come in one of two flavours – Zoroastrian specialists (because these are ‘Iranics’ by language-grouping), or Buddhism specialists (because there is no doubt that Buddhism had a significant, salient impact out there upon the Steppe and its eastward expression toward China). They therefore aren’t quite sure how to handle figures which don’t easily conform to expectations for either of these groupings – and rather sensibly, may choose to ascribe these elements to ‘native’, ‘pre-Zoroastrian’, ‘non-Buddhist’ etc. origination. I do not disagree. Except when it is quite clear that these elements are also the result of Hindu influence – although, as we have noted elsewhere, it can be a very difficult thing indeed to distinguish what’s (pre-Zoroastrian) ‘Scythian’ and what’s ‘Hindu’ … due to the strong degree to which the Vedic Religion is the direct inheritor and continuance in most comprehensive format of the archaic post-Andronovo mytho-religious sphere. Especially when it would appear that what Hindu influence there has been – has effectively ‘drawn back’ to the more archaic and endogenous Scythian-esque models which may have fallen from favour in more Zoroastrianized populations. See my various previous works for details.
This ‘blind-spot’ turned up quite prominently when I was researching the figure depicted in the top portion of this image. The bottom portion, there was some reasonable suggestion that this camel-riding figure was somewhat equivalent to the Zoroastrian Verethragna; yet the top? Some speculation abounded, but no definitive answers could be ventured. The situation was considerably complicated further via the occurrence of near-identical depictions of this mysterious figure on horse-back, carrying a bowl, and with one or two black birds swooping (potentially into the vessel) which have also been found – including a set of eight such figures in one particular rendering, bearing the enigmatic legend: “The donor Budai ordered to draw the eight spirits [gods] there. May they protect him”.
Now, various of these iconographic elements do occur elsewhere in both the Buddhist and Iranic and Zoroastrian spheres, there is no doubt about it. Some of them are a lot more prominent than others (for example, there is a lack of a significant set of ‘eight deities’ as applies the latter, as academics have noted), but various of them tend to occur with particular defined figures. Defined figures which can be safely excluded from the identification of this figure on horseback in front of us today – and there is a rather hefty weight of discussion upon this matter which I have chosen to omit from this piece because frankly, it’s been done better by people with fancy degrees after their name elsewhere. Suffice to say, the most prominent Buddhist and Zoroastrian contenders have been eliminated by virtue of having recognizable iconographic representations in the culture in question which don’t look like this.
There is some tentative speculation that this figure may represent what is known to the Zoroastrians as Tishtrya – and more can be found upon that score in the work of the scholar Matteo Compareti. As it happens, I do not consider this to be wildly off the mark – only, as per usual, lamenting that there is not better knowledge for the Vedic comparanda upon this sphere to be able to better guide and inform such understandings.
What do I mean by this?
Well, let us consider the figure of Tishtrya, and matters shall become more readily apparent.
This deific is known also amidst the Armenians by the rather simpler ‘Tir’, and was identified via Interpretatio Graeca with Apollo and also Hermes. Given the Armenian Tir’s strong saliency with regard to the powers of speech and learning (including both written language and poetry), as well as a certain role pertaining to the receipt of souls into the underworld, it is not hard to see how they arrived at such a conclusion.
There is reasonable evidence to presume that Tishtrya, in the pre-Zoroastrian Iranic sphere, was the same figure as our (that is to say Vedic – Hindu) Tishya. And that is where things get interesting. For Tishya, ‘Auspicious’, we can connect with Lord Shiva – but more upon that in a moment.
To speak to Tishtrya, this is identified with the star Sirius; and, for that matter, in Zoroastrian myth, fighting against a demonic figure by the name of Apaosha, a bringer of drought. There is some confusing crossover with a Vedic myth featuring an Archer – however, whereas we know Tisya to be an archer (and, not coincidentally, Orion’s Belt in archaic tellings of the Hindusphere to be an Arrow fired by ‘Sirius’ the Archer), the Zoroastrians appear to have identified the Star of Sirius with the arrow shot by an archer. The well-versed reader shall already be seeing exactly where I am going with this. But let us first flesh out the Greek comparanda.
The Star of Sirius, everybody knows for the ‘Dog Days’ which accompany it. Yet what is meant by this? Well, looking both at the literature left to us by the Greeks, as well as the etymology and ‘peering between the lines’ associated with same … it would appear that it is a time of not only Drought, but also Disease – and a most curious form of hot-blooded aggression and madness in man and dog alike.
To quote from Quintus Smyrnaeus’ Fall of Troy:
“From the ocean-verge upsprings the Sun in glory, flashing fire far over earth-fire, when beside his radiant chariot-team races the red star Seirios (Sirius), scatterer of woefullest diseases over men.”
A ‘Red’ Star, with ‘Hot Winds’, the sending of Disease, and some sort of ‘crazed’ state. All the while being hailed as a Dog – or, perhaps more archaically, a Wolf. It ought not be hard to see where I am heading with this. But let us, again, make things more direct.
Probably the most famous Greek mytho-literary invocation for Sirius occurs in the Iliad (as in, the original ‘Fall of Troy’ poetic – more than a millennium prior to Smyrnaeus’ writings), where King Priam is beholding the terrifying spectacle of Achilles:
“So spake he, and was gone toward the city in pride of heart, speeding as speedeth with a chariot a horse that is winner of prizes, one that lightly courseth at full speed over the plain; even so swiftly plied Achilles his feet and knees.
Him the old man Priam was first to behold with his eyes, as he sped all-gleaming over the plain, like to the star that cometh forth at harvest-time, and brightly do his rays shine amid the host of stars in the darkness of night, the star that men call by name the Dog of Orion [i.e. Sirius].
Brightest of all is he, yet withal is he a sign of evil, and bringeth much fever upon wretched mortals. Even in such wise did the bronze gleam upon the breast of Achilles as he ran. And the old man uttered a groan, and beat upon his head with his hands, lifting them up on high, and with a groan he called aloud,
beseeching his dear son, that was standing before the gates furiously eager to do battle with Achilles.”
Now, as soon as I read that, my mind sat up and took notice. Why? Because of something else which happens far earlier in the Iliad when we are being told of this most (literally) mythical phenomena – the Battle-Rage of Achilles.
Now I have earlier covered this phenomenon in various detail and directives, so shall not repeat all of that analysis here. Suffice to say, there are certain key features to how Achilles’ furor is described which render it undoubtable that something far more archaic is actually being discussed. This is because we can identify 1:1 parallels between the descriptions employed and those for not only certain Vedic figures in a similar state of towering, insurmountable, indeed downright invincible rage in combat – but also, interestingly enough, with these forming part of a matrice which applies also to Thor in the combat against the Demon Dragon of the Waters as found in the Husdrapa. The linguistics work out – Menis, Menos, relative to our Manyu; the fiery, luminous eyes and other such features; the ‘fever’ and ‘shaking’; and, most important of all … there is this line as to their causation for Achilles:
“Athena had dropped Nectar and Ambrosia into Achilles
so that no cruel hunger should cause his limbs to fail him,”
It is a situation replicated not only for Achilles, but also in slightly altered description for Diomedes. And all of this hearkens back to the precise Vedic metaphysics and mythology wherein Vak Devi , Vak Saraswati , Vak Aditi is called upon to empower a chosen champion – whether acting directly, or through the provision of the Empowering Elixir that is our Soma.
There is a further point immediately prior to this which we ought elucidate, for reasons that shall shortly become apparent. Here is how Athena is depicted immediately prior to this Bestowal:
“The son of Kronos looked down with pity upon them, and said presently to Athena, “My child, You have quite deserted Your hero; is he then gone so clean out of Your recollection? There he sits by the ships all desolate for the loss of his dear comrade, and though the others are gone to their dinner he will neither eat nor drink. Go then and drop nectar and ambrosia into his breast, that he may know no hunger.”
With these words He urged Athena, Who was already of the same mind. She darted down from heaven into the air like some falcon sailing on his broad wings and screaming. Meanwhile the Achaeans were arming throughout the host, and when Athena had dropped nectar and ambrosia into Achilles so that no cruel hunger should cause his limbs to fail him, She went back to the house of Her Mighty Father. Thick as the chill snow-flakes shed from the Hand of Zeus and borne on the keen blasts of the north wind, even so thick did the gleaming helmets, the bossed shields, the strongly plated breastplates, and the ashen spears stream from the ships. The sheen pierced the sky, the whole land was radiant with their flashing armor, and the sound of the tramp of their treading rose from under their feet. In the midst of them all Achilles put on his armor; he gnashed his teeth, his eyes gleamed like fire, for his grief [akhos] was greater than he could bear. Thus, then, full of fury against the Trojans, did he don the gift of the god, the armor that Hephaistos had made him. First he put on the goodly greaves fitted with ankle-clasps, and next he did on the breastplate about his chest. He slung the silver-studded sword of bronze about his shoulders, and then took up the shield so great and strong that shone afar with a splendor as of the moon. As the light seen by sailors from out at sea [pontos], when men have lit a fire in their homestead high up among the mountains, but the sailors are carried out to sea [pontos] by wind and storm far from the haven where they would be – even so did the gleam of Achilles’ wondrous shield strike up into the heavens. He lifted the redoubtable helmet, and set it upon his head, from whence it shone like a star, and the golden plumes which Hephaistos had set thick about the ridge of the helmet, waved all around it.”
Again, I have not considered it in any depth here – but as detailed in my previous works we find these elements to express part of a consistent typology. Indra, the Armenian Vahagn, the Nordic Thor … and also, for that matter, the figure of Manyu – Rudra, the Berserks of Odin, indeed Odin’s Flaring Eye. Also note the kenning for ‘Odin’s Helm-Fire’ for the armed situation of Odin’s Berserkers in several instances wherein Wolves and Death are also conspicuously invoked:
Other than Úlfr Uggason’s presentation of the Berserks at the funeral of Baldr in these terms, there is this other kernel from the Skaldskaparmal poetic compendium:
“A sword is Odin’s Fire, as Kormákr sang:
The fight swelled, when the Warrior,
The Wolf’s blithe Feeder, in tumult
Fared with Odin’s [Gaut’s] ringing Fire-Flame;
Urdr came forth from the Well.”
A Wolf, indeed, connected to Wolf God, Furor, and all that which thence ensues.
Now, in order to truly explicate what is going on here – it is necessary for us to consider some comparative (mytho-)linguistics.
Ancient Greek ‘Sirius’ (‘Σείρῐος’ – ‘Seirios’, as we have met before), is speculated to harbour an underlying, archaic meaning that is, effectively, ‘Searing’, ‘Scorching’, ‘Glowing’; and/or, on a non-exclusive basis, ‘Shining’, ‘Sparkling’, ‘Flickering’.
The etymological root for this ‘Sirius’ / ‘Σείρῐος’ – is supposedly Ancient Greek ‘Seiso’ / ‘σείω’, also the root of our modern English ‘Seismic’. Unsurprisingly, it means ‘To Shake’.
Why is this relevant? Because ‘shaking with fury’ is something so resounding that it is even understandable in the modern age without requiring further contextual explication. However, that would not make for very compelling evidence via itself. For that additional contextual resonancy, allow me to quote myself from a piece from earlier this year looking at the phenomenon of Divine Inspiration in the Indo-European context. What we should otherwise refer to as both Furor Teutonicus (Battle Rage / Berserk Fury) and Furor Poeticus (the Divine Inspiration of the Poet, Seer, Holy-Man) – known in the Vedic realm to be, in effect, the same quality … as demonstrated via RV X 125 5’s invocation of the quality of the Rsi, the Brahmin, as “Ugra” (again, a theonymic of Shiva, and utilized to refer to this towering, unstoppable Rage of He). Said quality, said Ugra, being bestowed to the chosen human by the Goddess – ‘chosen’ being one translation for the relevant Sanskrit verb in question for this impartment, and aligning it perhaps somewhat with the relationship of Athena with Her ‘Favourites’ as well as some rather interesting conceptry for Freyja viz. Odr (‘Odr’, unsurprisingly, meaning exactly that Rage / Furor).
“However, another and perhaps more pervasively encountered Sanskrit means to reference this concept is ‘Vipra’. This is, unsurprisingly, quite a broad term in its Vedic usage, and simultaneously refers to – in specia – that which makes a truly gifted Brahmin a Brahmin, and therefore more figuratively to ‘Wisdom’; as well as the ‘input’ required for such – the ‘Divine Inspiration’, and the exterior manifestations of being in possession of this quality such as a certain ‘trembling’ and ‘excitement’. It is, in other words, a shorthand for ‘religious ecstasy’ in just the same manner as we have seen with Odr, Vates, etc.
‘Vibration’ is a modern English cognate; and the ancient Latin that that is from (‘Vibro’) is quite illuminating for our purposes – as this does not only refer to the ‘vibration’ that we should be expecting, but also potentially to a luminous quality to the individual ; and, of course, the expected states of excitement and agitation, shaking with it indeed, for the thusly impelled. Interestingly, there is also a more razor-edged element to it as well – with the hurling of spears or threats being covered within its definitional ambit likewise.
And that ‘weaponized’ understanding is also saliently Sanskrit relevant – as we find precisely this cognate term, ‘Vip’, in-use to describe the Weapon of Trita Aptya (Whom we might fairly describe, I think, as a Warrior Priest) in RV X 99 6; something that should be unsurprising given the emphasis in other Vedic hymnals upon the Weapon of Trita (and an immensely powerful, Chaos-banishing and Demon Dragon-slaying weapon it is, too!) being His Heritage of the ancestral rites and Their pious performance; as well as the co-occurrence in Greek mythology of the same figure as Iolaus, Hydra-Slayer, making use of Fire in the closely correlate mythic occurrence. There is far more that I can, should, and must say upon the Weapon of Trita – but we shall leave that for a future (a)arti-cle.”
The Zoroastrians, again, ‘demonized’ this quality – as they were seeking to ‘culture-jam’ and ‘control’ their local religious sphere. So the Kavi (‘Poet’, Priest) in receipt of such genuine Divine Inspiration … well, the Zoroastrians turned ‘Vip’ into a slur to mean ‘homosexual conduct’. A most curious thing given that there’s a female deific and a male recipient of the inspirational power and potency in question – but, then, it is not hard to see why in archaic Iranic culture, declaring something to be “homosexual” might have been regarded as a surefire way to diminish enthusiastic engagement with same amidst the community. The ‘official’ explanation for the Zoroastrian mis-perception appears to be that the ‘shaking’ quality was supposed to represent a sort of sexualized ‘trembling’ and concordant weakness. In this it might perhaps be compared to the similarly curious shift visible in Nordic texts wherein Seidr goes from something Odin is engaging in … through to the objectionable manner in which Seidr is discussed in a certain late-20th century academic paper that is the effective root origin for the ‘Seidr = Homosexual’ meme which now seems to dominate so much discourse upon the subject. To be clear about this, in the Ynglinga Saga, we have Odin engaged in a practice of what amount to the speaking or singing of ‘magic words’ – ‘spells’ we might say – that are directly commensurate with proper priestly conduct as attested in the Vedas and other such archaic Indo-European source-material. This is followed up with mention that: “But after such witchcraft followed such weakness and anxiety,that it was not thought respectable for men to practise it.” So, “Unmanly” in that Germanic sphere … was thence conflated with another sense for ‘Unmanly’ that had nothing to do with it. I personally believe that the prohibition on male performance of these things, despite Odin’s own saluted example, was a form of ‘Arms Control’ – because in a culture wherein honour-duels amidst men at the seeming drop of a helmet are quite a thing, and lead to generations-long feuds … the possession of such armaments as these of the metaphysical variety were almost ‘cheating’ due to the ease with which they may overpower (male) martial virtue. But that is a rantsplication for another time.
The point is – ‘Shaking’ as the result of being ‘Seized’ by this Divine Investiture, is exactly as we should expect. Becoming, as we might suggest, akin to the Ulfhednar – the Wolf-Skin / Wolf-Head Warriors, and their assorted Indo-European cognate expressions.
Particularly (albeit not exclusively) via the imbibification of the Empowering Elixir, known variously as Soma, the Mead of Poetry, and those Greek terms aforementioned.
It is perhaps no wonder that the cognates for ‘Sirius’ in Sanskrit – ‘Tvis’ ( त्विष् ) and ‘Tvesha’ ( त्वेष ) have such relevant meaning-fields. The latter, encompassing not only the illumination of Brightness, Glittering quality – but also the bringing of Fear, and possessing the quality of emphatic, impetuous, vehement, forceful action amidst Their radiancy of Glory.
Small wonder that this Tvesa is to be found in the Vedas in application to the Maruts (RV V 57 5, V 61 13, I 85 8, I 37 4, RV I 166 5) (and, for that matter, Rodasi in RV I 167 5), Agni (RV I 66 7, RV III 22 2, RV VI 2 6) , Indra (RV VI 62 9, RV X 120 1), etc.
‘Tvis’ is even more intriguing in this manner – For in addition to the ‘Shining’, ‘Sparking’, ‘Blazing’, and general incandescent Brilliancy … we find Vehemence, Violence, Beauty, Authority, Agitation (especially of the ‘Violent’ kind), Desire or Wish, … and Speech.
Tvis’ occurrences in the RigVeda are broadly speaking what we should expect. In RV VIII 96 15, it would appear to refer to a quality of the Soma ; and in RV VIII 46, we find it in reference to Agni upon the path of gleaming, flame-speared War.
In the former case, RV VIII 96 15, it is immediately prior to Indra and Brihaspati alongside One Another that we find this occurrence. This is, especially in relation to the River being ‘won’, not coincidental – as we so frequently find these Two, either alone or in co-operation, working to slay such demons as beget drought through endeavouring to interfere with and hoard the planet’s waters. (The employment by Brihaspati of Prayer to conjure a Meteor with which to carry out an orbital bombardment (in Vajra form) of the underground bunker lair of the demon-dragon in question may have some relation to the prominent meteor showers experienced in that part of the Northern Hemisphere year when Sirius rises – around July / August; which might make for an interesting conceptual resonancy further with the general scoping sphere of the ‘Archer’)
This brings us back to the Zoroastrian understanding for Tishtrya fighting Apaosa – a demon of drought. An understanding recollected in the Hindu astrological sphere, wherein we find the asterism of Pushya / Tisya under rulership of Brihaspati … and providing the nourishment so essential to life. Pusya, as you can probably immediately see, is exactly the same as the ‘Paosa’ of ‘Apaosa’ – Apaosa, as in ‘Drought’, referring to the Opposition to, the Absence of, via the negatory prefix ‘A-‘ foretached to same. Although it must be noted here that there is something of a ‘double-up’ going on, viz the Ardra asterism which precedes Tisya / Pusya by two ‘months’ (Tisya / Pusya is the 8th, Ardra the 6th). Ardra, meaning ‘Moist’ (a term of clear relevancy to the abrogation of Drought) and ostensibly referring to the well-known Tears of Rudra (indeed, the PIE etymology for Rudra appears to incorporate ‘Crying’ not only in the Roaring sense but also these tears of lamentation likewise as well; this being PIE ‘Hrewdh’, turning up also in Old English Reotan correlate with the howling of the Thunder and the Storm Wind) is presided over by Rudra.
Why do I mention this to be something of a double-up? Well, other than the obvious point around the Rains; or even the further under-acknowledged essence-tial coterminity of Rudra and Brihaspati (which we have elucidated upon elsewhere – including a remarkable concordancy with a particular facet of Odin’s mythology otherwise unexplained in the Ynglinga Saga, which likely represents exactly this ‘liberation from demon-dragon’ occurrence) – we have some rather direct, and directly relevant Vedic scripture to quote to our purpose.
From the Taittiriya Samhita of the Yajurveda:
“Yonder sun did not shine, the Gods sought an atonement for him, for him they offered this oblation to Soma and Rudra: verily thereby they bestowed brightness upon him. If he desires to become resplendent, he should offer for him this oblation to Soma and Rudra; verily he has recourse to Soma and Rudra with their own portion; verily they bestow upon him splendour; he becomes resplendent. He should offer on the full moon day of the month Tisya; Tisya is Rudra, the full moon is Soma; verily straightway he wins splendour. He makes him sacrifice on an enclosed (altar), to acquire splendour. The butter is churned from milk of a white (cow) with a white calf; butter is used for the sprinkling, and they purify themselves with butter; verily he produces whatever splendour exists. ‘Too much splendour is produced’, they say, ‘he is liable to become a leper’; he should insert the verses of Manu’s; whatever Manu said is medicine; verily he makes medicine for him. If he fear, ‘I shall become a leper’, he should offer an oblation to Soma and Pusan; man has Soma as his deity, cattle are connected with Pusan; verily he makes him a skin by means of his own deity and cattle; he does not become a leper. He who desires offspring should offer an oblation to Soma and Rudra; Soma is the bestower of seed, Agni is the begetter of offspring; verily Soma bestows on him seed, Agni begets offspring; he obtains offspring. He who practises witchcraft should offer an oblation to Soma and Rudra; man has Soma as his deity, Agni is this Rudra; verily ransoming him from his own deity he entrusts him to Rudra; swiftly he attains ruin. He who is long ill should offer an oblation to Soma and Rudra; the sap of him who is long ill goes to Soma, the body to Agni; verily from Soma he ransoms his sap, from Agni his body; even if his life be gone, he yet lives. The Hotr loosens him that is swallowed by Soma and Rudra and he is liable to be ruined; an ox must be given by the Hotr; the ox is a carrier, the Hotr is a carrier; verily he saves himself as a carrier by means of a carrier. He who desires, ‘In his own abode may I produce a foe for him’, should offer an oblation to Soma and Rudra; selecting an altar he should dig up half, and half not, spread half the strew, and half not, pile on half the kindling-wood and half not; verily in his own abode he produces a foe for him.”
This helps us to get around a rather curious situation wherein the actual Star associated with Pusya / Tisya appears to be in Cancer rather than being Sirius specifically. Even despite the very, very abundantly clear linkage of Rudra to the star of Sirus as Lubdhaka ( लुब्धक ) and Mrigavyadha ( मृगव्याध ) – both terms for ‘Hunter’, that are explicitly that of Rudra. And Rudra acting, no less, as (the master) Archer in the latter case especially. The Moon, too, is spoken of as a Hound of Heaven – which is of interest and relevancy for us pertaining to certain features of the above in connexion to the production of the Empowering Elixir, but we should press onward.
One of the more interesting Vedic occurrences for Tisya is to be found in RV X 64 8:
“8 The thrice-seven wandering Rivers, yea, the mighty floods, the forest trees, the mountains, Agni to our aid,
Krsanu, Tisya, archers to our gathering-place, and Rudra strong amid the Rudras we invoke.”
Now, Agni and Rudra as equivalent – facings of the same Sky Father deific, just as with Brihaspati (another famed Divine Bowman), Parjanya, etc. – is something we have already attested elsewhere. Indeed, Agni and Rudra in alternate is a core component for the production of the Empowerment in the Agnicayana (‘Fire-Bird’) Rite. However, we find somewhat less familiar Facings cited here – not only Tisya, but also this Krsanu. Krsanu, is an epithet for Agni or Rudra – and effectively means ‘To Make Ready To Shoot The Bow’, ‘To Bend The Bow’ (and c.f RV X 125 6, immediately following Vak Devi’s declaration that She Empowers with Ugra the ‘chosen’ male … “I bend the bow for Rudra that His arrow may strike and slay the hater of devotion.” – noting well the matrimonial relationship between Vak and Brihaspati/Rudra , the usage of ‘Kama’ as the active verb, and furthermore the intriguing linkage of a spear-wielding Tishtrya in one Scythian sphere iconographic depiction alongside Nana … Whom we have earlier and elsewhere demonstrated to be strongly concordant with Vak).
How does this become quite salient to our purpose here?
Allow me to quote from the White Yajurveda ( IV ):
“19 Thought art Thou, Mind, Intelligence, the Guerdon, royal,
worshipful, Aditi with a double head. Succeed for us in
going forth, succeed for us in Thy return. […]
20 Thy mother give thee leave to go, thy father, thine own
brother, and thy friend of the same herd with thee!
Go Thou, O Goddess, to the God. To Soma go for Indra’s sake.
May Rudra turn Thee back. Return safely with Soma as Thy friend.
21 Thou art a Vasvi, Thou art Aditi, Thou art an Aditya, Thou
art a Rudra, Thou art a Chandra.
Brihaspati vouchsafe Thee rest and comfort! Rudra with
Vasus looks on thee with favour.
22 On Aditi’s head I sprinkle Thee, on the earth’s place of sacrifice.
Footstep of Ida art Thou, filled with fatness. Hail!
Rejoice in us. Thy kinship is in us. In Thee are riches.
Mine be riches! Let us not be deprived of abundant riches. Thine, Thine are riches.
23 I with my thought have commerced with divine far-sighted Dakshina.
Steal not my life. I will not Thine. May I, O Goddess, in Thy sight find for myself a hero son.
25 I sing my song of praise to Him, Savitar, God between the
Bowls, strong with the wisdom of the wise, of true impulsion,
wealth-giver, the well-beloved thoughtful Sage.
To Him at whose impulsion shone aloft in heaven the splendid light.
Most wise, the Golden-handed hath measured the sky with skilled design.
For living creatures, thee. Let living creatures breathe after thee. Breathe after living creatures.
26 Thee Who art pure, with what is pure I purchase, the bright
with bright, immortal with immortal.
The Sacrificer keep thy cow. Let thy gold pieces be with us.
Fervour’s form art thou, and Prajapati’s nature. With the
most noble animal art thou purchased. May I increase with thousandfold abundance.
27 As friend, the giver of good friends, approach us!
Take thou thy seat on the right thigh of Indra, yearning on yearning, pleasing on the pleasing.
Anghari, Svana, Bhraja, and Bambhari, O Hasta, and Suhasta and Krisanu,
These are your prices for the Soma purchase. Keep them securely, let them never fail you.
28 Keep me, O Agni, from unrighteous conduct: make me a sharer in the path of goodness.
I, following Immortals, have arisen with longer life, with a good life before me.
29 Now have we entered on the path that leads to bliss without a foe,
The path whereon a man escapes all enemies and gathers wealth.”
I have quoted that at length because there are several hugely relevant portions to it. These include a certain female deific we have already demonstrated in other works to be rather commensurate with Athena … flying up to get the Empowering Elixir and being approved to come back to the mortal recipient by the Sky Father deific (or, in mythic terms, also going to Indra), just as we saw Athena engaged in in the Iliad earlier. . “Fervor’s Form”, indeed, is also amidst the qualities entailed. And, further we find mention for a list of Seven figures – Anghari, Svana, Bhraja, Bambhari, Hasta, Suhasta and Krisanu. Seven, with the addition of One, is Eight. (the Eighth being, of course, the presiding deific that is Lord of the coterie)
These Seven names are, effectively, Qualities – I may at some future juncture go into greater depth or detail pertaining to the relevant epithets and Their connexions; but suffice to say, it should surprise exactly no-one to find that various of these pertain to the Sparking, Lightning-like Radiancy we should expect in relation to Sirius; especially given the situation of Svana as, literally, ‘Dog’, Krsanu in relation to the Bow as we have previously met, etc.
I therefore contend that that mysterious and otherwise apparently unexplained Khotanese depiction showing Eight figures and bearing the inscription “The donor Budai ordered to draw the eight spirits [gods] there. May they protect him” – is in fact memorializing just such a Soma production rite.
And that, just as we tend to find Rudra depicted upon a Horse in various relevant Vedic rites involving the production of ‘Medicines’ and Boons (see my earlier work on Rudra as Midhvan), or the relevant expression of the Sky Father deific elsewhere in the Indo-European sphere similarly as a swift-speeding cavalryman … so too do we find these emanations or ‘expressions’ of He likewise appointed in the relevant iconography herein.
With the Bowl standing for the vessel into which the Empowering Elixir is sent, and the Black Bird (even beyond the well-known saliency for the Corvid – the Crow or Raven – as the Emissary of the particular God, the Ancestral Wisdom, and the Afterworld) which flies down into the vessel likewise recollecting that Vedic and evidently Hellenic (Iliad attested) notion for the delivery of the Elixir via such avian air-deployment (the provision via Avian form occurs also in Vedic terms with the Shyena (Raptor / Falcon) form of Agni, the Agni/Rudra alternation in the Agnicayana rite, and in Nordic terms via Odin as Eagle bringing the Meath of Poetry – a situation we have been able to convincingly demonstrate to be a recollection of this same archaic Indo-European ritualine understanding elsewhere). And thus enabling – in the mythic sense, a warrior deific to fight against the forces which have disrupted the vitally necessitious life-giving liquid from the skies (i.e. Rainfall, but also Rivers). Or, for that matter, a human figure standing in receipt of such a brew for other such Righteous purposes.
Toward the outset of this piece, I noted that there is an academic tentative identification for the camel-mounted figure as Verethragna – or, at least, a Scythian-sphere expression of same. Now, Verethragna is a ‘resonancy’ – after a sort – for Indra. Likely, a re-introduction of a more “controllable” form of the figure, following the literal demonization of Indra by the Zoroastrians (and an ensuing serious degree of disquiet, even uprising, by the Zoroastrian warrior clade at this banishment of their forefathers’ patron). I do not think, particularly given the mythic divergences involved between Verethragna and Indra, that this camel-mounted figure is likely Zoroastrian Verethragna – even if the name is similar. After all, the Armenian Vahagn etc. is of a name that is clearly resonant with Verethragna – and with Vritrahan etc. that broadly pervasive epithet of Indra referring to the Smiter of Vritra – but accords more closely in various ways with Indra than the Zoroastrian knock-off. Replete, most importantly, with the Dragon-Slaying that is, for Him, quite literally eponymous.
It would therefore make some sense to have, above, the Deific responsible for the provision of this Elixir … and thence, below, the Deific that is rather prominently a recipient for said Elixir in likewise.
And so thus, with the correct application of a more comprehensive Indo-European comparative theology, iconography, and mythology … we can show that the deific depicted upon the upper half of that votive panel may very well be Tishtrya – but that underpinning that understanding is something far more archaic, and Roudran in scope. Which has as its roots the core culture and customs of the Proto-Indo-European Urheimat. Travelling out in multiple directions along with the descendant-bearers of that folk, and subtly changing in some exterior expression at varying points along their journeys .. yet never truly losing, if one knew how to look, the proper and appropriate, the righteous integrity of essence at its core.
Oriented, it would seem, around a Deific, Who was (and is, and yet shall be) a Hunter, oft on Horseback, armed with spear or bow and arrows; equipped also with mastery over the most powerful forces – those of speech and verse (and, in later times, as with Odin and the Runes, or this Armenian Tir with script there, also the written forms of same); presiding similarly over the Divine Inspiration – the Furor quality which rendered a man radiant, vibrant and even overtly vibrating with power, imbued and imparted into a certain Empowering Elixir which bestowed such force and vehemency unto him.
So, with all of that in mind –
Hail to the Hunter
Hail to the Wolf
Jai Sri Rudra !