Recently I came across these two interesting vases:
The Sub-Minoan (1150-1100 BC) vase from Crete decorated with a bull and a bird.
The Mycenaean (1300 BC) vase from Enkomi, Cyprus, decorated with a bull and a bird
Apparently similar vases were also found in Jordan, but I couldn't find any pictures of them.
Now what do these images symbolize? Well it could be just bulls and a birds. They are often seen together.
But Minoans considered both bulls and birds sacred and clearly attributed a symbolical meaning to both animals. This is a Minoan symbol, Larnax, 1300 bc. A bird (duck) sitting on labris which is positioned between the bull horns.
So is there a deeper meaning to these images?
In my post entitled "Leto" I talked about the link between Slavic words "let" meaning "flight" and "leto" meaning "summer, year".
In short, the period between these two "let" (flights) of migratory birds, between their arrival and their departure, is "leto" (summer). This beginning of the new "summer" is the beginning of the new period of vegetative growth and abundance, the "important" part of the year. Which is why Serbian word for "summer" and "year" is the same: "leto"...
In Slavic mythology, Jarilo was the son of the supreme Slavic god of thunder, Perun, his lost, missing, tenth son, born during Velja Noć (Great Night), the pagan Slavic celebration of the New Year. We don't really know what the "Great Night" means, but I believe that this Great Night was originally the night before the beginning of winter which in the Irish calendar is marked by Samhain, the 31st of October, and in the Serbian calendar by St Mitar day (Mitrovdan) the 8th of November. I believe that this night was originally the night of the 5th of November, the mid point between the autumn equinox and winter solstice.
I also believe that the expression Great Night was also an euphemism for Winter, the time of cold and death. Right in the middle of the winter is the night of the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, which is also the middle of the winter, the middle of the darkest part of the year. This is the night when new fires are rekindled, to symbolize rekindling of sun's fire, the birth of the new sun, new solar year. This new sun is Jarilo, whose name means the young one, but also the hot one.
However, on the same night when he was born, according to the Slavic tradition, Jarilo was stolen from his father and taken to the world of the dead, where he was adopted and raised by Veles, Perun's enemy, Slavic god of the underworld and cattle. The Slavs believed the underworld to be an ever-green world of eternal spring and wet, grassy plains, where Jarilo grew up guarding the cattle of his stepfather. In the mythical geography of ancient Slavs, the land of the dead was assumed to lie across the sea, where migrating birds would fly every winter. This land of the dead was by Slavs known as Iriy, Irij or Vyriy (Russian: ирий, ирей, вырий). And when do the migrating birds leave the land of the living? By the beginning of the winter, which is marked by Samhain (Mitrovdan).
With the advent of spring, Jarilo returned from the underworld, bringing spring and fertility to the land. Spring festivals, actually more precisely summer festivals of Jurjevo/Jarilo, St Georges day, that survived in the Slavic folklore celebrate Jarilo's return, the return of the summer heat. This is also the time when in Irish folklore we find Beltane, the day of bonfires, which also celebrates the return of the summer heat...
And when does Jarilo return from the land of the dead? When the migratory birds return from Irij, the land of the dead, where they spend winter, the period between Samhain (Mitrovdan) and Beltane (Jarilo day, Djurdjevdan)...
You can read more about the old Celtic and Serbian calendar in my post "Two crosses".
Now Beltane (Jarilo day, Djurdjevdan), the day when Jarilo returns from the land of the dead, the beginning of Summer, is celebrated on the 6th of May. This date, falls in the middle of the Taurus (Bull) zodiac sign (21 April – 21 May), which marks the beginning of the calving period of the Eurasian wild cattle.
So the arrival of migratory birds is immediately followed by the beginning of summer, which falls in the middle of Taurus (Bull) zodiac sign...
Is this what is symbolically depicted on the above two vases? 6th of May, Beltane, (Jarilo day, Djurdjevdan), the beginning of summer? I think so.
What do you think?