Cohane has a lot to say (Philip Cohane, The Key) in his book about Bride, Ana and Danu as names of early Goddesses. We shall return to these names below. His book is an exploration for his thesis that, behind these names, lies an earlier Great Goddess whose name - variously - he posits as Awa, Hawwah, Ava - or EVE. Recent studies of the mitochondria in our cells lend credibility to such a single ancestry thesis for mankind. In a program in1987 on the televised series "Nova" entitled "Daughters of Eve," such an hypothesis was explored more fully. In this program the interesting fact was pointed out that genetically, we are very various when one studies the DNA, but unitary in terms of the mitochondria - suggesting a unitary origin! I find this fact both fascinating and provocative
There is no evidence of an early Goddess named Ave or Awa in either Irish or British mythology, but, as Cohane says, "If Ava or Haue/Hawa were the names of an earlier goddess of fertility who was superseded by a younger god, Oc/Og, then the evidence is about what one would expect to find." He mentions a "thirteenth century writer" who refers to Haue and Oc as "Godys," or pagan deities. He also cites numerous place-names in both countries which contain the prefix Awa or Ava, such as Kill Avala, the Avon river and Avalon (the Arthurian blessed island off the west coast of Britain whose name may be related to the Welsh word for apples, but which also might refer to Ava, whose name means water, as in the river Avon - and, parenthetically, isn't the possible association of "Ava (or Eve)" and "apples" interesting! - and Oc/Och/Og, as in the many Ogbourne villages near Marlborough, the 0g river, tributary to the Kennet and the Ock river a few miles to the north. Cohane ends one of his chapters by saying "the name of the oldest fertility goddess in the world, known to the Semites as the 'mother of all living,' the name out of which evolved Eve, our name for the first woman, was
The history of Og/Oc is also a fascinating one, and one very often associated with Awa or Hawa. Tradition lists the only other human survivor of the flood beside Noah and his family as 0g. In Greek legend, the first king of both Attica and Boeotia, founder of Thrace and of the Achaean League, builder of Thebes, is Ogygios! He is said to be responsible for a series of floods in Boeotia and elsewhere, and is confused by later sources with Noah. Another Greek tradition deals with Aigeus, also said to be a founder of Greece, specifically of Athens, who comes from Asia Minor via Cyprus and Crete, and whose son Medus is said to be the father of the Medes. He is known as the Goat King (from the Greek word for goat, aig), and is said to have brought to Greece both the goat and the cult of Aphrodite, from the older fertility cult of Astarte or Ashtaroth. Cohane believes that these two figures, Ogygios and Aigeus, can be traced back to a single original source known in the Old Testament and Rabbinical tradition as 0g, who as king of Bashan, was a giant who was saved from the flood by climbing on the roof of the ark. As founder of the fertility cult at the city of Ashteroth, he was worshipped throughout the Mediterranean region. More than this, however, Cohane believes his memory is preserved in Og/Oc place-names throughout the world!
In order to understand this better, let us turn to Robert Graves, whose book The White Goddess sheds light on many of the interconnections involved in the history of worship of the Goddess and her consort/rival. For this purpose it is necessary to trace the history of a group called, in Ireland, the Tuatha De Danaan, the children of Dana or Danu, the Goddess whose name is mentioned by Ross (who also writes about this period of pre-history) and Cohane.
Robert Graves calls the Tuatha De Danaan a "confederacy of tribes in which the kingship went by matrilinear succession, some of whom invaded Ireland from Britain in the Middle Bronze Age" (which the Encyclopedia Britannica cites as between 2000 and 1800 B.C.). He says these tribes may originally have come from somewhere near the Black Sea. In the Greek tradition, the ancient mother goddess Dana (whose name in Sanskrit, danu, means rain or moisture, becomes a king, Danaus, who shares the throne of Egypt with his half-brother Aegyptus, is driven out by him, ascends the throne of Argos where he is associated with another of his brothers Pelasgus, and is subsequently driven from Argos by his father Agenor, king of Phoenicia.
In the Irish tradition concerning the Tuatha De Danaan, Oc, son and half-brother of the "All-father" Eochaid Ollathair known as "the Dagda," also has a half-sister Brigid (or Bride) and a half-brother known as Ogma, who is the great champion of the tribe. Ogma, half brother of 0g in Ireland, is the one who conveys on the Tuatha "Ogham," a pre-historic inscribed language found in various places in Great Britain. Off the west coast of Ireland, on several of the Arran Islands, are a number of "Oghil" place names , as well as the name "Achill," which Cohane calls "mixed," meaning it contains elements of both "0g" and "Ach," which seems to come from an allied but separate "Oc" tradition. There is also a statement in Irish mythology that the world will not end until "Ogham and Achu mix together and the sun and the moon mix together." Other Irish place names he cites are Avoca (Ava/Oca) and Aughaval (Og/Ava). St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall was known by the Romans as Ocrinum.
Place names identified with the oak (Oakford, formerly Ocford), the egg (Egg Buckland, formerly Achintone), the ox (Oxted, formerly Ocstead) and the hog (Ogle, formerly Ogghill, earlier Hoggel) probably all get their names from Oc/Og, according to Cohane, since all three have had forms which interchange with one another. The name of Ceridwen, the triple Mother Goddess whose cauldron was called The Cauldron of Regeneration, comes from two words, "cerdd," which means both art or inspiration and pig, and "wen," which means white. She is the feared White Sow Goddess, known also as the Barley Goddess and the White Lady of Inspiration and Death, according to Graves. Clearly, her name comes into this story, perhaps through a secondary tradition connected with the pig in female form.
So, thus far, we have the names Dana or Danu, Brigid or Bride, Ceridwen, and Ana. Cohane believes Ana to be primarily the personification of an abstract quality - "blessed" from the Semitic tongue - and sees the distribution of place-names with the "Ana" element in them primarily as designations for "Blessed Awa." Robert Graves says the name means "queen."
According to Barbara Walker, editor of The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, the name appears in a great many cultures, some widely separated by time and/or space. Thus, there is Anna-Nin, Nana or Inanna, Queen of Heaven in Sumeria (An means Heaven in Sumerian, according to Graves), Anatha, (Syria), Anat (Canaan), Ana or Anah (Old Testament), Di-Ana (Semitic) or Dinah (from the Syriac version of the Old Testament, referring to the goddess of the Dinaite tribes in Sumeria), both uses of "Di" referring to divinity or godhead, Anna (Pelasgian Greek), Nanna (the incarnation of the Danish Goddess Freya as the mother-bride of Baldur), Anu (early Danaan Goddess in Ireland), Ana or Anan, which Robert Graves says are names for the Goddess Danu, who had two aspects, one nurturant, the other maleficent, as which she was sometimes known as Morg-ana to the Irish ("Death Ana," one third of the triple Goddess known as The Morrigan, ("Great Queen"); Anna Perenna (Roman), Black Annis of Leicester to medieval Christians, who lived on "Dane Hill" (Danaan?) and used to devour children - ending with St. Anne, mother of the virgin Mary, grandmother of God. This long history seems to me too ubiquitous to be reduced to an abstraction! It goes even further: Graves cites the view of a Mr. E.M. Parr that Athene was another Anna namely, Ath-enna, which occurs in inverted form in Libya as Anatha. Graves' verdict on the subject is "..if one needs a single, simple, inclusive name for the Great Goddess, Anna is the best choice."
Perhaps the issue may be thought about in more than one way, depending on the historical period being referred to. The Goddess whose name I seek is the Goddess of the Avebury Complex, as Michael Dames calls the three sites in his book of that name. The carbon-dating of all three units of this complex - the henge, the hill and the barrow - places them essentially in the middle of the third millennium B.C.- between 2600 and 2100. What Cohane is struggling for is a hypothesis concerning a Goddess who goes back to a period which totally pre-dates even the written traditions of the myths. The closest I have come to an answer that satisfies me, aside from his provocative tracking down of the place-names, appears in Merlin Stone's When God Was a Woman.
Stone says, quoting Professor Walter Emery's Archaic Egypt, that the name of the Egyptian Goddess Isis is actually a Greek translation of the Egyptian name Au Set. The word "set" means "queen," and Au Set means"exceeding queen," according to Stone. Set, of course, is also a separate god who is closely identified with the serpent of darkness Zet, and is the sinister figure (in Plutarch's account of Egyptian mythology) who kills Osiris, the consort of Isis. Much earlier, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Set, Osiris, Horus, Isis and Nephthys are all identified as children of the earth god Keb and the sky goddess Nut, and represented five days added onto the yearly calendar.
Stone suggests that Au Set, the female predecessor to the later male god Set, was originally, in pre-dynastic times, the cobra Goddess Ua Zit, whose name hers so closely resembles. She makes a further connection between Ua Zit and uzait, the Egyptian word for "eye." The dynastic-age Goddess Ma'at, or Maet, whose name stands for order, truth or righteousness, was also known, variously, as "the eye of Horus, Ra or Ptah," and was the embodiment of the uraeus cobra, according to Stone. She comments, "She (Ua Zit, especially as Ma'at) seems to have been allowed to retain her qualities and nature so long as She was assigned to one of the male deities as his possession."
Interestingly, the investigations of Peter Tompkins and Livio Stecchini, Secrets of the Great Pyramid, suggest strongly that this concept of "ma'at or maet" as embodied in Egyptian culture played a crucial role in the role of measurement in ancient Egypt in every sphere which we term scientific, and that this concept was the central religious belief around which their life revolved. Stecchini describes the graphic representation (during the dynastic period) of ma'at as follows:
Stecchini speaks of the significance of the Great Pyramid as a repository of the highest and most inclusive dimensions of ma'at in the following terms, which reflect his own investigations in the field of relative measurements:
Tompkins, speaking of the building of the pyramids, says that the estimations by the Egyptologists of the times of their construction were made "only on the basis of shrewd guessing" in the absence of later reports from the Egyptians themselves, characterizing the evidence as "sketchy." The most ancient Arab tradition concerning the Great Pyramid, he says, holds that:
Tompkins' final words concerning the Great Pyramid are as follows:
If Stone's research is correct, all of this magnificent exactitude and cosmic understanding was being carried out to manifest and perhaps propitiate Ma'at, the divine "eye" of Ua Zit - who becomes Au Set - who becomes Isis - who we know becomes Ishtar, Astarte, Ashteroth, and Aphrodite, the same Goddess who is the Queen of Heaven in Sumeria known as An or Ana. Stone says,
Stone quotes Robert Graves, writing in his translation of Apuleius' The Golden Ass:
We are right back to Au Set, and behind her, to Ua Zit. My own conclusion is that the name Ua, with Zit added as the title "queen," is our Awa in only slightly changed form! So in the end, I tend to believe Cohane is on the right track with his place names, which suggests to me that his evaluation of Danu and its variants is probably correct, and that this name is more regional than universal, coming at a later period than the one we are addressing.
But the research of Tompkins and Stecchini which I have quoted from so extensively suggests to me that there is a lot more here than meets the eye! Superimposed on Stone's and Cohane's images of a Mother Goddess whose worship seems atavistic in nature, rife with tales of the devouring of consorts and offspring, of the worshipping of serpents and magical fertility symbols in dark caves, quite probably human sacrifice - certainly an indifference to human life in the individual, although not in the species - comes an entirely different picture of early society.
The authors of The Great Pyramid paint a picture of a highly organized society stretching so far back as to be lost in the dawn of history, a society in which the concept of order and justice as measured according to exacting standards in conformity with the will of the cosmos, rules the entire life both of the individual and of society. They have presented a very well-reasoned case for believing that this society had a highly sophisticated knowledge of the basic laws governing the cosmos. That this organized knowledge also seems to have been intimately bound up with the female principle, at least until the advent of a purely paternalistic godhead, feels undeniable. The association of so many of the artifacts we have from this period with female qualities and preoccupations of the kind we see graphically depicted at Avebury as well as the geographical evidence of Cohane have convinced me that this is the case. Particularly, I find convincing the association of these ancient societies with the "vault of heaven" -with the precession of the equinoxes.
Ultimately, what makes the most sense to me - indeed, the only thing that does make sense to me - is the concept of a society governed by the unitary laws of the cosmos from birth to death, but even further, from life to life to life, each person coming into each life according to the configuration of the heavens at the moment of his birth, each person having his particular task to perform successfully in each lifetime, with the planet as the great schoolroom and the Lady, the Queen of Heaven, as the great Mother-Teacher, the overall human task being to learn to live on the earth in such a way as to approximate more and more closely the laws of heaven upon the earth, a task which has been called "the squaring of the circle" - heaven represented by the circle, earth by the square.