Armenian pagan culture

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THE GODS

Aramazd

Armenian all-Powerful God, the Father of all Creators. Armenian stone statue (B.C. I century) is now in West-Armenia, near mountain Nemroot. The chief temple of Aramazd was in Ani. Another one was in Vaspurakan on the mountain Pakhat and was named “Home of Aramazd and Astkhik”. He was very favored by the Armenian pagans. The holiday is celebrated as the “Navasardian games”. People compete with each other, sing songs and dance.

Vahagn

Vahagn consists of two words; Vah-“The god”, agn-“a fire”, and means the God of Fires. Vahagn is the God of Power, War and Victory. He is the son of the God Aramazd. The chief temple of Vahagn is on the Kharke Mountain near the temples of Golden Mother Anahit and the God Beauty-Astghik. According to the ancient Armenian calendar, the 27th day of every month is named Day of Vahagn. The old historian Khorenatsy preserved a poem about birth of Vahagn. Every year on the 21st of March Armenian pagans celebrate Vahagn‘s birthday. 2006 corresponds to the 9890th anniversary of Vahagn's birthday

Anahit

Anahit is god of motherhood, fertility, healing, wisdom and water. She was among the most favored of Armenian deities. Anahit has many names, for example: Gold Mother, Great Lady, and Gold Finger. The Urartian fertility goddess Arubani may have been her earlier incarnation. The chief temple of Anahit was in the Eriza settlement. Many other temples were in Artashat, Armavir, Kadjaran, Anagnadzor, Ashtishat, Vaspurakan and Siunik. A ruined temple to her has been discovered beneath the Holy Etchmiadzin cathedral. These temples were decorated with golden statues of Anahit. One Bronze sculpture statue was found in the 19th century, which is in London now. In 1968, a copy of this statue was brought to the Armenian Historical Museum. The national Holiday of Anahit is celebrated on 6th of April as Motherhood Holiday and on 15th of August as a Sanctify day of Grapes. This was an occasion of great gatherings, attended with dance, music, recitals, competitions, etc. The sick went to the temples in pilgrimage, asking for recovery. The symbol of ancient Armenian medicine was the head of the bronze gilded statue of the goddess Anahit, which is currently in the British Museum.

Astghik

Astghik is the God of love and beauty. Vahagn fell in love with Astghik. The chief temple of Astghik was located in the province of Taron. A marble sculpture of her dating back to the second century B.C. was found in Artashat. Astghik was born from waves of the sea. In Armenian mythology, the goddess Astghik habitually took a bath in a certain stream every night; some romantic young men eager to see the goddess' exquisite beauty lit a big fire on a nearby hill, but Astghik, in order to foil their scheme, caused the entire area, the plain of Mush, to be covered by a thick fog. Hence the name of Mush, which means mist in Armenian

Tir

Tir is god of Literature, Science and Art. Tir was a messenger of Aramazd. He was a fortune-teller and a guide of the dead persons soul. The 21st of September is celebrated a Holiday in honor of Tir. The first day was dedicated in memory of ancestors. In this day people were glorifying ancestors. In other day people were show theatre, told about their voyages over the world. Tir’s holiday is celebrated at the beginning of Hory as a day of knowledge.

Mihr

Mihr God of Light, Harmony and Advice. The Stone Statue (B.C. I century) is now in the West Armenia, near Mountain Nemroot. The Birth of Mihr is celebrated on 22nd of December in the Temple of Garni, even today by Armenia's small pagan community. Armenians celebrate this day on 22nd December, when the days lengthened. Mihr also had a temple dedicated to him in Artashat which was recently excavated. Mihr means “The Sun”.

Nane

Nane was a goddess of war and wisdom, daughter of Aramazd. Nane was represented as a young beautiful woman in the clothing of a warrior, with spear and shield in hand, like the Greek Athena, with whom she identified in the Hellenic period. Her temple was located in the town of Thil, but was destroyed during Armenia's Christianization. The name "Nane" is still popular in Armenia today.

Aray

Aray is a war god worshipped by the pre-Christian Armenians. He is probably derived from the Greek god Ares. Some traditions suggest that he was also a dying-and-rising god.

Barsamin

Barsamin (Barshamin) is a weather or sky god among the pre-Christian Armenians. He is probably derived from the Semitic god Baal Shamin.

Tsovinar

Tsovinar or Nar was the Armenian goddess of water, sea, and rain. She was a fire creature, who forced the rain and hail to fall from the heavens with her fury. Her name Tsovinar means "Nar of the sea".


MONSTERS AND SPIRITS

Al

The Al is a dwarfish evil spirit that attacks pregnant women and steals newborn babies. Described as half-animal and half-man, the creature has teeth of iron and nails of brass or copper. It usually wears a pointed hat covered in bells, and can become invisible.

Aralez

Aralezner were Dog-like creatures that make the fallen warriors of Armenian Army reborn. They appear in the tale Ara the Handsome.

Dev

The Dev are air-composed spirit creatures originating from Zoroastrian mythology (the Daevas), and share many similarities to angels. They reside in stony places and ruins, and usually kept to themselves.

Shahapet

The Shahapet were usually friendly guardian spirits who typically appeared in the form of a serpent. They inhabited houses, orchards, fields, forests, graveyards and other locations. The Shvaz type was more agriculturally oriented, while the Shvod was a house-guardian. A Shvod who is well-treated may reward the houses inhabitants with gold, but cause strife if it is mistreated and leave.

Nhang

The Nhang (from the Persian word for "crocodile") was a river-dwelling serpent-monster with shape shifting abilities, often connected to the more conventional Armenian Vishap. The creature could lure a man in by transforming into a woman, or change into a seal and drag a person down, in order to drown the person and drink its blood. The word "Nhang" is sometimes used as a generic term for a sea-monster in ancient Armenian literature.

Piatek

The Piatek is a large mammalian creature similar to a wingless griffin.


SACRED SYMBOLS

AREVKHATCH

Armenians attached great importance to the cross long before the adoption of Christianity. In Bronze Ages the cross had another appearance. There were 4 sections, which twisted at right angles to each section of cross. During the excavations archaeologists very often find such drawings. Such crosses depict the Sun or Fire. In 1933 fascist Germany used such cross, but unfortunately brought discredit its meaning. This cross became a symbol of war and disruption.


ARMENIAN CALENDAR

The Armenian calendar started on 2492 BC, after the battle between Hayk and Bel. During the battle Hayk killed the tyrant and founded Armenian state. According to the Armenian calendar, the year 4500 coincided from 2007 to 2008 by the Christian calendar. Ancient Armenian calendar was movable according to leap years. The Armenian calendar borrowed from both the Egyptian and the Zoroastrian calendars. Once every 4 years, the New Year moved ahead. Thus 365*4=1460. During 1460 years the Earth does 1 turn, which is called Hayk‘s turn. A motionless calendar was made by Hovhannes Imastaser. The calendar, which is used now, was made in ancient Egypt. This calendar was improved in Rome and was known as Y.Tsezar calendar. In 1582, this calendar was called “Grigorian calendar” in honour of the Pope.


TITLES OF MONTH IN ANCIENT ARMENIA

There were 12 months in ancient Armenia. Every month had 30 days and addition 1 month, which had 5 days. They are Navasard, Hory, Sahmy, Tre, Khahots, Arats, Mehekan, Areg, Ahekan, Mareri, Margats, Hrotits, Aveliats. Armenian months have mythological origin.


TITLES OF DAYS IN ANCIENT ARMENIA

These days reflect significant names of Armenian plateau.

1.Areg ("sun").......................11.Ereskan ("hermit")..........................21.Grgur

2.Hrand................................12.Ani................................................22.Korduik ("A province, homeland of the Kurds")

3.Aram ("Armenian folk hero")13.Parkhar..........................................23.Tsemak ("East Wind")

4.Margar ("prophet")..............14.Vanatur..........................................24.Lusnak ("half-moon")

5.Ahrank ("half-burned").........15.Aramazd ("The diety Ahura Mazda").25.Tsron ("dispersion")

6.Mazdegh...........................16.Mani ("beginning")...........................26.Npat ("The diety Apam Napat")

7.Astkhik..............................17.Asak ("beginningless")....................27.Vahagn ("Armenian god")

8.Mihr ("The diety Mithra")......18.Masis ("Ararat")..............................28.Sein ("mountain")

9.Zopaber.............................19.Anahit ("Armenian goddess")............29.Varag

10.Murts ("triumph")...............20.Aragats.........................................30.Gisheravor ("evening star")

Additional Days

1.Pailatsu

2.Arusiak

3.Hrant

4.Lusntag

5.Erevak

NAMES OF TIME IN ANCIENT ARMENIA

The nights and days were divided into 24 parts.

Days / Nights

Aig Khavarak

Tsayg Akhchamukhch

Zayratsial Mtatsial

Charagaytial Shagavot

Sharavigial Kamavot

Erkrates Bavakan


NAVASARD

Navasard is a first month of Armenian chronology. Navasard lasted from 11th of August until 9th of September. According to Ananian Shirakatsy and Hovhannes imastasery Navasard is a daughter of Hayk Nahapet. Nahapet called Navasard as a first month of New Year. The word Navasard consists of two words nava-“new” and sard-“year”. Ancient Armenians celebrated this Holiday in honour of Hayk Nahapet, who defeated the tyrant Bel. Armenia's land was called “Hayk” and peoples were called “Hayer”.


AUTUMN /ASHUN/

It is known that apricots in Armenia are ready in summer. Other fruits are ready in a late Autumn. During a thousand years the word “Ashun” that means “ripe” become “Ashun”, that means “autumn”.


HORY

Hory is a second month of Armenian chronology. Hory lasted from 10th of September till 9th of October. The word hory means “to spot something”. In this month people get in the harvest and keep it in repository. Hory is called “ury”. Ury means willow. “Ury” was a beautiful daughter of Hayk Nahapet. Thus the name of Rome God-Gera and Persian god Khoer- spring from the name Hory.


SAHMY

Sahmy is a third month of Armenian chronology. Sahmy lasted from 10th of October till 8th of November. According to Anania Shirakatsy and Grigor tatevatsy, Sahmy is a daughter of Hayk Nahapet. According to priest, Sahmy means “a border”. According to st. Malkhasiants, Sahmy means “seed”. According to H. Acharian and E. Agaian Sahmy means “to fear” which is connected with changes of the weather. October means the eighth month. But now, it is the tenth month in calendar.


TRE

Tre is a fourth month of Armenian chronology. Tre lasted from 9th of November till 8th of December. According to Anania Shirakatsy and Hovhannes Imastasery, Tre is son of Hayk Nahapet. According to Agatangegcos and Khorenatsy, Tre is a son of Aramazd, and God of Science, Literature and Art. November means the ninth month. But now, it is the eleventh month in calendar.


WINTER (DZEMER)

The winter is compared with death. According to Grigor Tatevatsy in winter the plants get dry and the water is covered with ice. According to H. Acharyan the words “Dzemer” and “Dziun” have the same roots. “Zima” in Russian consists of the Armenian word “Dzemer”.


CAKHOTS

Cakhots is the fifth month of Armenian chronology. Cakhots lasted from the 9th of December till the 7th of January. According to Anania Shirakatsy and Hovhannes Imastasery, Cakhots is a son of Hayk Nahapet. According to H. Acharyan, Cakhots springs from the word “(he) goat”. Armenians made a good choice, because in 21st of December the day is at it's shortest and the night is at its longest. Beginning from 22nd of December, the days lengthened. Armenians could estimate the Sun calendar according to circuit of the Earth all other the Sun. Different nations have different days of New Year. For example: a 7205 since the world began, a 2759 in Ancient Rome, a 1426 for Moslem. According to Armenian small year, now is a 922, which is called “Hayk’s chronology”. Beginning from 11 of August, now is a 4499. Until the XVIII century, Armenians did not use Christian chronology. Armenian chronology was estimated from birth of God Vahagn; that is to say from 21 of March 2006. It is now 9590.


ARATS

According to Armenian chronology the 6th month is named – Arats. Arats lasted from 8 of January till 6 of February. According to Grigor Tatevatsy, Arats springs from the word “men”. It means that in winter Mountain chain can overcome only the “men”. According to Agaian (Ar) means (men) and the month means “men’s month”. In other opinion Arats springs from the word “the Sun”. January is called “the day of light”. In Rome Empire the first day of New Year was the first of January, which begins to be estimated by U. Tsezar in 46 B.C. January springs from the name of God Janus. In Latin January means “the door” or means “heavens”. In Armenia it was called “the door of Mger”.


MEHEKAN

Mehekan is the 7th month of Armenian chronology. Mehekan lasted from 7 of February till 8 of March. According to the priest, Mehekan means “death” because in this month the Nature has a rest. There are conflicting opinions on the meaning of the name. According to Anania Shirakatsy and Grigor Tatevatsy, Mehekan is the son of Hayk Nahapet. According to G. Alishan, Mehekan springs from the word “New Moon”. According to G. Khapantsian and E. Agaian Mehekan springs from the name of God Mihr.


Drentez

Drentez, or Trndez, is a national Holiday, which is connected with fire and is celebrated on the 13th of February. Drentez springs from the world “art” and "fire”. Young Armenian couples jumped across the fire for good luck in the future. The fire symbolizes the light, the warmth, the joy and also protection against evil. According to M. Orhmanian the word Trndez springs from the name of God Tir. At this day people begin to speculate about the future. The holiday is still celebrated in Armenia, albeit in a Christianized form.


THE SPRING /GARUN/

The spring restored the Nature to life. At that time, the Nature says good-bye to winter. The snow melts away. The water and the Sun cover the Earth with love and seeds sprout. Armenians celebrate many National Holidays in the spring and they extol the creator’s own agricultural works. Especially of note is the birth of Vahagn. A long time ago, it was New Year. In the spring, Armenians celebrate Motherhood Holiday in honor of Anahit and Easter.


AREGH

Aregh is an 8th month of chronology. Aregh lasted from ninth of March until seventh of April. According to Ananiah Shirakatsy, Hovhannes Imastasery and Grigor Tatevatsy. Aregh is the daughter of Hayk Nahapet. According to Gevorg Alishan, Hrachya Acharyan Aregh comes from the word “the Sun”, because the Nature awakens owing to the Sun Power in the spring. (It's similarity to the modern Armenian word 'arev' shouldn't be surprising.) Aregh is called every first day of month. It may be presumed that the New Year begins from 21st of March. When pagans prayed to God of the Sun, they looked at the Sun and held their hands towards polar knot. Ancient Armenians built sculptures in honor of Aregh. According to legend, Aregh lives in the Temple Garni. March was the first month in Roman chronology. The name March was given in honor of the God of War.

Zatik

Zatik means “to divide” or “to separate”. Zatik is celebrated in honor of the spring, when spring is separated from winter. Zatik is celebrated in 21st of March. According to Armenian tradition, at this day bold Armenians won the battle thereby saved bird’s live which built a nest on Mt. Ararat and laid particoloured eggs. As a rule, bold Armenians began sowing but children played with particoloured eggs, sang songs and danced.


Armenian New Year

Ancient Armenians celebrated New Year in 21st of March. This was a different New Year from the calendar New Year of Navasard. It is no mere chance that Armenian priests were noted that the nature was regenerated at the beginning of spring. Armenians celebrated this day as a New Year, extolled the nature, the spring, the agricultural workers so that the year was fruit bearing.


AHEKAN

Ahekan is a 9th month of chronology. Ahekan lasted from 8th of April till 7th of May. According to Grigor Tatevatsy, Ahekan is a daughter of Hayk Nahapet. According to Ananian Shirakatsy-Ahekan comes from ancient times and in touch with the spring works. According to Levon Alishan it means-“to mow grass”. In other opinion, Ahekan means “a fire”. On the one hand, April means, “to open”. According to Greek chronology, Ahekan has the name of the God Apollo.


MARERI

Mareri is a 10th month of chronology. Mareri lasted from 8th of May till 7th of June. According to Ananian Shirakatsy and Grigor Tatevatsy, Mareri is a daughter of Hayk Nahapet. According to the Priest the name, Mareri springs up from name of cedar tree, which turns green in spring. Mareri (May) means “ancestors”. It can also mean “Old age”.


SUMMER /AMAR/

Amar is a summer. Pagan Armenians like summers. Summer was equal a year. For example: They called 40 years old man as 40 summer man. The word “amar” results from the word “hamekh” delicious. Summer filled men with enthusiasm.


MARGATS

Margats is an 11th month of Armenian chronology. Margats lasted from 7th of June till 6th of July. According to legend, once a year in ancient times a monster went down on the Earth and ate all of the green grass in the land. Animals died of starvation. But gallant Margats killed the monster. Thus in honour of Knight Margats, the month was called Margats.


Vardavar

Vardavar is national Holiday, which is connected with God of love and beauty-Astkhik. Vardavar was celebrated every 98 days after Zatik. Vardavar consists of two words, vard-“water”, and var- “to sanctify”. According to legend, a Subterranean God stole Astkhik from her family. As a result, Armenia lost its love and beauty. They became terrible and cruel. However, Vahagn saved Astkhik‘s life and sanctified the Armenians with water. Thus, Armenians became emotional and kindly souls. Armenian people like Vardavar very much. They splash each other with water, sing and song beautiful songs and extol Astkhik. This holiday was later Christianized and is still celebrated across Armenia.


HROTITS

Hrotits is 12th month of Armenian chronology. Hrotits lasted from 7th of July till 5th of August. The name Hrotits is resulted from the word “fire” because in July the weather is very hot.


AVELYATS

Avelyats is the 13th month of Armenian chronology. It was only five days long, from the 6th to the 10th of August. A 6th day could be added on leap years. Its days had unique names: Pailatsu, Arusiak, Hrant, Lusntag and Erevak.


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