Ancient Gods of Armenia, Heroes, and Legendary Monarchs

The ancient gods of Armenians, heroes, and legendary monarchs – this is not a deep scientific analysis of the ancient gods of Armenians, but a simple story. If you know more and better, please correct and add information.

AR (Ար) – the main proto-Armenian (Aryan) god. He symbolizes the power of the sun (Arev), combined traits of the forces of nature, spring, and later – traits of the god of war. The day of Ar was considered March 21 – the day of the spring equinox. The name is Ar is also associated with the name of the ancient Armenian 6th month of the year “Arats”.

Over time, approximately in the 6th century BC, the original Armenian name AR was transformed into the name ARAMAZD (Արամազդ) – the supreme god in the ancient Armenian pantheon, creator of heaven and earth, god of fertility, father of the gods.

The main sanctuary of Aramazd was located in the city of Ani and was destroyed at the end of the 3rd century AD with the spread of Christianity.

ANAHIT (Անահիտ) – mother goddess, goddess of fertility and love. She corresponded to the ancient Egyptian Neith, Persian Anahita, ancient Greek Artemis or Aphrodite, ancient Roman Diana, ancient Georgian Dali. She is called the Great Lady, patroness and protector of the Armenian land.

After the adoption of Christianity in Armenia as the state religion in 301, the worship of the goddess Anahit was transformed into the worship of the Virgin Mary. The main temples of Anahit were located in Erez, Armavir, Artashat, and Ashtishat.

The mountain in Sophene was called the “Throne of Anahit” (“Ator Anahta”). A whole region (gavar) in Erez in the province of Akilisena (Ekegiats), where her main temple was located, was called “Anahta’s Gavar”. Celebrations in her honor began with the harvest ripening festival during the celebration of Navasard (the ancient Armenian New Year) (August 15).

VAHAGN (Վահագն) – god-dragon slayer, later god of war, hunting, fire, and lightning. Vahagn stole straw from the ancestor of the Assyrians, Barsham, during the harsh winter and hid in the sky. On his way, he dropped small straws, and the Milky Way was formed from them, which is called the “straw thief’s road” – Mkrtich Nagash.

It is interesting that in Movses Khorenatsi’s writings, he appears as a human being, the son of Tigran Yervandian, although in the hymn his divine essence is revealed, and his birth from the womb of nature – from the trunk of a fire-breathing reed – is described. Similarly, in the Hellenistic era, in Greek mythology, Heracles was a man, the son of the god Zeus and the mortal Alcmene, and was later deified and taken to Olympus.

ASTGHIC (“աստղիկ” – little star) – in Armenian mythology, the goddess (ditsui) of love and beauty, the lover of the god of thunder and lightning, Vahagn. According to legend, after the love meetings of Astghic and Vahagn, it would rain. Astghic is the patroness of girls and pregnant women. The worship of Astghic is also associated with the irrigation of gardens and fields.

Legends tell of Astghic’s transformation into a fish – well-preserved stone fish-shaped sculptures, called vishaps, represent objects of Astghic’s cult.

To this day, Armenia celebrates the holiday of Vardavar (literally: “the festival of roses” or, according to another interpretation, “water war”), dedicated to Astghic, during which people drench each other with water and give each other roses. Initially, this holiday fell on the day of the summer solstice (June 22).

AREV (Արեւ, literally – “Sun” (in a figurative sense – “life”) – personification of the Sun, sometimes in the form of a wheel radiating light, more often in the image of a young man. Over time, the young man grew, transformed, and acquired the name MIHR (Միհր), also Mher – the god of celestial light and justice. Son of Aramazd, brother of Anait and Nané. Depicted as a young man fighting a lion or a bull.

BAKHT (Բախտ – “fate”, “destiny”) – a spirit in Armenian mythology, personification of fate. GISANÉ (Գիսանե) – the dying and resurrecting god of life-giving nature. GROGH (Գրող, Grogh – “writing”, “recording”) – the spirit of death. Grogh’s main function was to record people’s sins and good deeds.

Upon a person’s birth, Grogh writes their fate on their forehead (determined by Bakht); throughout a person’s life, Grogh notes their sins and good deeds in his book, which must be reported at the Divine Judgment. Sometimes Grogh was identified with tsaveri, spirits of disease.

LUSIN (Լուսին) – personification of the Moon. According to popular beliefs, the phases of the Moon are connected to the life cycles of the king Lusin: the new moon is associated with his youth, the full moon – with maturity, and when the moon wanes and a crescent appears, Lusin’s old age comes, after which he goes to paradise (i.e., dies). From paradise, Lusin returns reborn (the myth of the dying and resurrecting god).

NANÉ (Նանէ), – the goddess of war, motherhood, and wisdom – the daughter of the supreme god-creator Aramazd, appearing as a young woman dressed as a warrior, with a spear and shield in her hands. Her cult was closely related to the cult of the goddess Anait. It is no coincidence that her temple was in the Ekehyats gavar, near the temple of Anahit.

Nané was also revered as the Great Mother (in Armenian folk speech, the name Nané acquired a generic meaning – grandmother, mother).

AMANOR (Ամանոր) – a deity personifying the New Year (which, according to the ancient Armenian calendar, begins in August) and bringing its first fruits. Traces of the cult can be found even in the 20th century – for example, in laudatory songs about “Nubar” (“New Fruit”).

SPANDARAMET (Սանդարամետ) – the god of the underworld and the realm of the dead. Sometimes “spandaramet” was understood as the underworld itself.

TIR (Տիր) – the god of writing, wisdom, knowledge, protector of sciences and arts, the scribe of the god Aramazd, a fortune teller (revealing the future to people in dreams). Apparently, Tir was also considered a conductor of souls to the underworld. The Temple of Tir (located between the cities of Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin) and Artashat), called the “Divan of Aramazd’s scribe,” was the residence of oracles where priests interpreted dreams and taught sciences and arts.

TORQ ANGEGH (Տորք Անգեղ), Torq Angeghea, Torg Angegh – the great-grandson of Hayk. He is depicted as a tall, ugly man with immense strength. Torq Angegh is a clumsy giant with a hideous appearance: he has rough facial features, a flattened nose, sunken blue eyes, and a wild look. Tork Angekh is a stonecutter and sculptor.

He can chip away at granite rocks with his hands, shape them with his nails, creating smooth slabs on which he also draws images of eagles and others with his nails. In anger, he tears huge rocks apart and hurls them at the ships of enemies.

TSOVINAR (Ծովինար, “tsov” – “sea”) – goddess of water, sea, and rain. She was a fiery creature who caused rain and hail to fall from the heavens with the force of her wrath. She is depicted as a young woman with sparse seaweed and lilies in her wavy dark hair.

HAYK (Հայկ) – the progenitor of the Armenian people. Also mentioned as a descendant of the post-Flood biblical patriarch Togarmah. Hayk led a rebellion against the tyrant Bel, who ruled in Babylon, killed him with an arrow, and led his people to the “land of Ararat,” thus laying the foundation for the Armenian kingdom.

ARA GEGHETSIK (Արա Գեղեցիկ – Ara the Beautiful) – Armenian king. Conquered by his beauty, Semiramis offered Ara the Beautiful “herself and her country,” but upon receiving a refusal, she hated him and declared war with the sole purpose of capturing the king as a prisoner.

However, he died in battle, and Semiramis only got his corpse, which she unsuccessfully tried to revive.

ANUSHAVAN SOSANVER (sos – “plane tree” and nver – “gift, dedication”) – grandson of Ara the Beautiful. Embodiment of the plane tree or sacred plane grove near Armavir, the capital and religious center of the Ararat kingdom. He was appealed to as the spirit of the sacred plane tree for predicting the future (in the grove, fortune-telling was done by the rustling of the tree leaves).

ARAM (Aram) – hero, ancestor – one of the eponyms of the Armenians. According to legends, by his name, the country of Armenians began to be called by other nations (Greeks – Armen, Iranians and Syrians – Armeni(k)).

SANASAR and BAGDASAR (Սանասար և Բաղդասար) – in the Armenian epic “David of Sasun” or “Sasna Tsrer,” twin brothers conceived by their mother Tsovinar from drinking two handfuls of life-giving water – according to a later version, they were born from two grains of wheat.

From a full handful, Sanasar was born, surpassing his brother in every way, and from an incomplete and cloudy one (due to the source drying up) – Bagdasar. The brothers founded the city of Sasun, laying the foundation for the eponymous state. Sanasar is considered the progenitor of several generations of Sasunian heroes.

Author: Alexander Bakulin

Translation by Vigen Avetisyan

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