From time immemorial, man has erected shrines, temples, monuments, to honour his gods and from ancient times, these have been built in mountain caves, on mountain peaks. Perhaps man believes that one feels more near to his gods on a mountain top, on the heavenly heights than he does on the ground.
Toltecs and Aztecs in Mexico, Incas in Peru, Hindus in Hindustan (India) built their places of worship on mountain tops. Lord Shiva "The Destroyer" among the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the Divine, is believed to live in Himalayas, and Kailash Parbat (mountain of Kailash, one of his many names) is his abode. The Pantheon of Greek Gods was Mount Olympus, Moses received his Ten Commandments at the site of the burning bush, located on Mount Horeb.
As a powerful religious symbol, the burning bush represents many things to Jews and Christians such as God's miraculous energy, sacred light, illumination, and the burning heart of purity, love and clarity. From a human standpoint, it also represents Moses' reverence and fear before the divine presence.
Prophet Mohammad also went to the Mountain to pray to Allah The All Merciful, because the Mountain would not come to him. This saying has its origin in a legend about Mohammad when asked to prove the power of his teachings, raised a hand and ordered a nearby mountain to come to him, so that he could pray Allah The All Merciful from the the mountain top. The mountain of course, did not come and Mohammad then declared that this was proof of God's mercy, because if God had granted his wish, he Mohammad and those around him would have been crushed by the mountain. He then said he was going to the mountain to pray and thank God for his mercy.
The Japanese worship the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. The Ise Shrine located in Ise City, Honshū, Japan houses the inner shrine, Naiku dedicated to Amaterasu. Her sacred mirror, Yata no Kagami is said to be kept at this shrine as one of the Imperial Regalia of Japan. At this shrine, a ceremony known as Shikinen Sengu is held every 20 years to honor Amaterasu. The main shrine buildings are destroyed and rebuilt at a location adjacent to the site. New clothing and food is then offered to the goddess. This practice is a part of the Shinto faith and has been practised since the year 690.
The worship of Amaterasu to the exclusion of other kami has been described as "the cult of the sun"and the worship of the Sun itself.
In the ancient Persian mythology were two powerful gods, sometimes presented as twin brothers. Ahura Mazda was the creator, a god of light, truth, and goodness. His enemy Ahriman, the spirit of darkness, lies, and evil, created only destructive things such as vermin, disease, and demons. The world was their battlefield. Although they were equally matched during this period of history, Ahura Mazda was fated to win the fight. For this reason, Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord, was the supreme deity of Persian mythology. The Zoroastrians identified him with purifying fire and therefore, tended fires on towers as part of their worship.
The ancient Persian pantheon also included Mithras, a god associated with war, the sun, and law and order, who became the object of a widespread cult in the Roman empire. Anahita was a goddess of water and fertility. Verethraghna, a god of war and victory, appeared on earth in ten forms: as wind, a bull, a horse, a camel, a boar, a youth, a raven, a ram, a buck, and a man. Zoroaster reduced the role of these and other traditional deities and emphasized Ahura Mazda as supreme god. Religious scholars see this move as an early step toward monotheism. However, Ahura Mazda was said to have created seven archangels, called the Amesha Spentas, who represented truth, power, immortality, and other aspects of his being. These archangels may have taken over some features of the pre-Zoroastrian gods.
The ancient Egyptians built their pyramids to bury their dead, like Hindus, Chinese, Japanese and other ancient people, they believed that The Soul is trans migratory and the dead will need all the amenities, food etc, and money to pay for their passage through many trans migrations. Gold was therefore, considered the most appropriate metal, since it does not tarnish like other metals and its purity was the symbol of its worth as an offering to their gods. Images of gods and deities could be found, even today, in temples and churches.
Toltecs and Aztecs built their pyramids in honour of their many deities. Among the most important were: Quetzalcoatl (Keh-tzal-coh-tal) the most powerful deity, the patron of learning & knowledge and creativity, who lived among the Aztecs and promised to return to them. He preached the people to believe in non-violence, without any human and animal sacrifice. Huitzilopochtli (Weetz-ee-loh-Pocht-lee) who led the Aztecs through their migrations and were led by him to the promised land. Tlaloc (Tlá-loc) the god of rain, agriculture and fertility. And Tonatiuh (Toh-nah-tee-uh) the sun god. He was believed to provide nourishment and energy and needed sacrificial blood to sustain him. The sacrifice of animals and humans was not the isolated practise of the Aztecs.
In the next blog entry I will tell about these sacrifices. Hope you all enjoy reading about these interesting facts and fables.