Monday, October 26, 2009

So Why Only One?

When I was writing my post about Carnival of Space #126 a few minutes ago, I searched Google for "Gish Bar sun god" (I was curious even though I knew the title of The Gish Bar Times blog must refer to the geological feature on Io, not the Babylonian god). One of the top search results was a Google Books entry from The Dictionary of Ancient Deities by Patricia Turner and Charles Russel Coulter. Google Books only has a preview of this 2001 reference book, but it displayed the page containing "Gish Bar" anyway - very cool. I guess that's the point of Google Books (that all those scanned books just become part of the web's searchable database of information on everything).

This book didn't have much to say about Gish Bar (Babylonian sun god, that's about it). But the really striking thing is that this is a dictionary of some 10,000 entries, all of which are gods that humans of many cultures have dreamed up over the last few thousand years. Gish Bar's neighbors include Girru (fire god, Sumer), Gitche (high god, Algonquin), and Gjall (hard to explain, Teutonic), Gnowee (sun goddess, Wotjabaluk people of Australia), and "Goddess of Illusion" (a.k.a. "Maya", India). I think that last name pretty much sums up all of them!

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