In a previous post, I showed that the Thraco-Phrygian religion and Vedic religion could have been connected by more than random similarities. For example, Priapus had a Vedic equivalent in Prajapati, while Vesta, goddess of the hearth can be related to the concept of Vastu Shastra – architecture based on the sacred geometry.
However, the most striking parallels are those between the principal goddesses of the Phrygian and Vedic pantheons.
In Sanskrit, “parvata” means “mountain”, so we could translate Parvati as “she of the mountain, lady of the mountain”. The same is true for Cybele, whose name means “Mountain mother”. The etymology is probably related to Arabic “jebel/jabal“, meaning “hill, mountain”.
Both goddesses are often depicted with lions. This image is an astronomical allegory that corresponds to the Neolithic period (4,700-2,500 BC). Originally, Parvati represented the summer solstice in the Leo constellation, and the same is true of Cybele, who was flanked by lions in the earliest iconography.
In Classical times, however, the summer solstice moved to Virgo. The iconography of Cybele has been adjusted accordingly. She became the virgin mother, and her lions were moved to the front of her chariot. In India, Parvati became associated with the harvest, and it is Virgo who holds a shaft of wheat in her hand.
In one of her most famous forms, Parvati is referred to as Ardhanarisvara. In this idea, as old as the Mahabharat (Book XIII) she merged with her consort Shiva into one single body. Parvati got the left, female part, while Shiva took the right side.
Once again, the iconography is astronomical and Neolithic. It represents spring and summer – the Taurus and the Leo constellations.
The same androgynous motif is the central piece of the Phrygian myth. Another name for Cybele was Agdistis, a hermaphrodite whose body was divided in two. Also, Cybele’s consort Attis was castrated, which would make him a hermaphrodite as well (we can perhaps assume that Cybele and Attis also shared halves of one body). And finally, the priests of Cybele – the Galli, were all eunuchs.
Mother Ida and Ides of March
Mount Ida was a mythical mountain sacred to Cybele. For this reason, she was sometimes called “Idean Mother”. The etymology of this name is unknown.
From Anatolia, the cult of Cybele was taken to Rome. For Romans of the Republican era, Cybele was “The Great Idean Mother of the Gods”. Even the Roman senate consulted her oracle, and they had even brought her sacred black meteoric rock from Anatolia to Rome.
During the imperial period, one of the most important festivals, The Ides of March, was dedicated to Cybele and Attis. The word “ides” meant “the day of the full moon” corresponding to the 15th day of the month. Scholars believe that the word is Pre-Roman, Etruscan and that it meant “to divide“.
Perhaps the same root lies in the name of Mount Ida. Constellation Ursa Major, located just behind Virgo, was often seen as a mountain (axis Mundi) and its appearance signified the beginning of the dark half of the year.
Mother Ida and the Yogic Ida of India
Hindus believe that there are three main channels, called nadi, through which the life force, known as prana, travels through the human body. Ida means comfort and represents the left, lunar and feminine half of the body. Ida is mirrored by the masculine and solar Pingala – the right side of the body. In the middle, following the spine, runs Sushumna, called the gracious principle and not belonging to any gender.
I believe that this philosophy follows the principle: “As above, so bellow” and mirrors the basic astronomical laws described above in the temple of the human body. In that sense, it is connected to the Phrygian Ida in more than just the name.
Even the ancient Greek word “idea” comes from the root “wideseh” – to see, and as such, it is cognate to both Slavic and Sanskrit “Veda” – meaning to see, to know.
Mother Ida and Arabic Eid
In Arabic countries, the word “eid” signifies “a holiday, a feast”, as in Eid Mubarak, or Eid al-Fitr. Just like with Easter and Pasha, the dates of these festivals are determined according to the phases of the Moon.
And besides the fact that the name of Cybele could be a cognate of Arabic “jebel”, there is something even more interesting – the worship of the black rock. Nobody really knows what happened to the black meteoric rock of Cybele that Romans moved from Phrygia to Rome. And also, nobody is really sure why Arabs worship the black meteoric rock, known as Kaaba (cube).
But the most surprising fact is the Arabic word for south – qibla. This word also designates the direction of the black rock in Mecca. Interestingly, the constellation also Virgo designates the southern part of the horizon.
Mother Ida and Norse Idunn
Idunn was a Norse goddess of spring and eternal youth, fertility, and marriage. In a classical Virgo-related narrative that repeats in numerous myths, e.g. Persephone, Euridice, Sita, or Hellen of Troy (all discussed on this blog), Idunn was abducted, and her absence made the gods of Asgard old and grey (winter).
A claim that her name means “always young” is dubious, and in reality, most scholars list this etymology as unknown. Could it be possible that this name, together with the main storyline, comes from a common source from the Indo-European Neolithic?
The similarities between Cybele and Parvati are too numerous and significant to be ignored. Phrygian and Vedic pantheon clearly came from the same root whose origins are in the Neolithic. This highly sophisticated religious system had been widespread and developed for thousands of years before being crushed by the Abrahamic religions.
Phrygians were the people who had initially inhabited the Balkans before they moved to Anatolia and perhaps even reached Armenia at a later date. I wrote a separate article on Phrygians here.
Phrygian presence in Armenia could explain the influence of Cybele on the Arabic world. However, even the opposite could be true. Phrygians might have adjusted their worldview once they had arrived in Anatolia and encountered the local population.
And finally, even though the Vedic religion is one of the world’s finest and oldest, we must not forget that it is precisely in Anatolia that we encounter the first Sanskrit-speaking people in history, people known as Mitanni.
I therefore firmly believe that these ideas were never “imported” to Anatolia from India. On the contrary, their origins probably lie somewhere between East and West, along the Euro-Asian steppe. Modern Scholars claim that the Biblical Garden of Eden was also in Anatolia. And interestingly, the word Eden, comes from Sumerian, and besides “garden” it also meant “steppe”.
This is amazing, thanks a bunch for this most interesting read.