Laguhwaþo

Meaning of Name

*Laguhwaþo is a reconstructed theonym calqued from the Ancient Greek Ἀφροδῑ́τη (Aphrodī́tē), formed from *lagus (“sea, ocean”) + hwaþo (“foam”).

Also Known As

Aphrodite Ourania of Bosporus

Pronunciation

IPA: /laɣuʍaθoː/ (“LAH-hoo-HWA-tho”)

Function

The associations listed below are only the primary domains of the deity. Others may be revealed in time to different worshipers.

THE NIGHT SKY, SPACE, STARS, THE PLANET VENUS, ASTRONOMY, ASTROLOGY: The Ancient Greek word Οὐρᾰνῐ́ᾱ (Ouraníā) derives from οὐρᾰνός (ouranós) meaning “sky, heaven” [1]; moreover, the Greek Muse of the same name governs astronomy and astrology, lending those aspects to Laguhwaþo’s associations [2]. In SRS, Laguhwaþo is especially associated with the hours of night and the night sky due to attestations of nighttime celebrations of the Goddess, which also hint at Her chthonic nature [3].

SOVEREIGNTY: Laguhwaþo’s syncretism with the Scythian Goddess Agrimpasa [4] and the Persian Goddess Anahita lend to Her governance over sovereignty, as these Goddesses were considered “grantors of royal power and the guardians of kings” [5].

VICTORY IN BATTLE: Depictions of Laguhwaþo found in Bosporus show Her with two Nikae above Her, signifying Her role as “bestower of military successes.” However, unlike more Western interpretations of Aphrodite, Laguhwaþo’s particular syncretism with Agrimpasa, as well as Her depictions alongside snake-legged companions, suggest a more bloodthirsty nature [6].

WATER, OCEANS, SEAS: Hesiod famously describes the birth of Aphrodite from seafoam in his book Theogony. In a similar vein, SRS mythos identifies Laguhwaþo as a daughter of Airþa, born from seafoam during the creation of the worlds. Additionally, the etymology of the epithet Ἀπάτουρος (Apatouros) most likely involves two Iranian stems ap– (“water”) and tura (“quick, mighty”), suggesting “quick water” or “mighty water” [7].

FUNERALS, BURIALS, THE UNDERWORLD: Double herms dedicated as offerings to Laguhwaþo suggest Her chthonic nature. Moreover, terracotta objects and jewelry buried with the deceased depict images of the Goddess and Her son Liufs, also called Eros [8]. The deceased were also garbed in funeral clothing that depicted Her [9].

FERTILITY: Laguhwaþo’s syncretism with the Goddess Anahita explains Her associations with fertility and fecundity, in particular animal husbandry and the increase of personal wealth [10].

“HEAVENLY” LOVE, MARRIAGE: In his Symposium, Plato discusses the nature of love through characters represented by notable figures in Greek history. The fictional Pausanius reminds his companions that there are two Aphrodites — Aphrodite Pandemos of “common” love and Aphrodite Ourania of “heavenly” love. He describes this “heavenly” love as free of lustful desire, and inclined more toward reason and intelligence. SRS removes this idea from the ancient Greek context and applies it to a modern context instead: love with companionship and longevity in mind, such as marriage.

Iconography

Laguhwaþo is frequently depicted riding a swan and holding a scepter in Her left hand. Her son Liufs is depicted on Her right side, and two Nikae are shown above Her [11]. Sometimes, She is instead accompanied by anguipedes [12] — divine creatures with snakes for legs — or dolphins [13].

Alternatively, She is depicted flanked by two naked, winged youths, called Erotes by the Greeks [14]. She is also depicted nude and seated or standing next to single or double herms, some with men’s heads, others with Her own head, and yet others with sun disks [15]. She is sometimes depicted with androgynous features [16].

Within SRS, Laguhwaþo is depicted with a dove in her left hand and a severed head in her right. She also wields a sword, Reikweipsna (“King-Crowner”), which symbolizes Her governance over sovereignty. She wears a crown of stars and a cloak of swan feathers. The blue-green coloration of Her skin symbolizes both the ocean and the fecundity of the earth.

Attested Sources

There are countless attestations of Laguhwaþo in archaeological evidence from Bosporus: herms, statues, stele gables, pendants, sarcophagi, horse harnesses, etc. [17] Many epigraphs on archaeological findings call Her Aphorodite Ourania Apatourou medeousa [18].

Epithets and Bynames

Listed below are some modern bynames gifted to Laguhwaþo by Her worshipers, some of which are based on attested epithets.

  • Ahwareiki (“Mighty Water”)
  • Ahwasniums (“Quick Water”)
  • Aiþei Gaunondei (“Mourning Mother”)
  • Himinakunda (“Heavenly”)
  • Qens Teiwis (“Teiws’ Wife”)
  • Reikweipareis (“Kingmaker”)
  • Þiudana Himine (“Queen of the Heavens”)
  • Þiudana Stairnono (“Queen of the Stars”)
  • Þiudana Ganohawaggis (“Queen of the Underworld” / “Queen of the Abundant Meadow”)
An illustration of Laguhwaþo.

NOTES

  1. Wiktionary, “οὐρανός.”
  2. Theoi.com, “Urania (Ourania).”
  3. Ustinova, “Supreme Gods,” 132.
  4. Ustinova, “Aphrodite Ourania of Bosporus,” 218.
  5. Ustinova, “Supreme Gods,” 140.
  6. Ustinova, “Aphrodite Ourania of Bosporus,” 223-224.
  7. Ibid., 213.
  8. Ibid., 219.
  9. Ibid., 215.
  10. Ustinova, “Supreme Gods,” 84-85.
  11. Ustinova, “Aphrodite Ourania of Bosporus,” 223.
  12. Ibid., 221.
  13. Ibid., 217.
  14. Ibid., 224.
  15. Ibid., 222.
  16. Ibid., 221.
  17. Ibid., 215.
  18. Ibid., 219.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Hesiod. Theogony and Works and Days. Translated by M. L. West. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Plato. Symposium. Translated by Christopher Gill. London: Penguin Classics, 2003.

Theoi.com. “Urania (Ourania).” Accessed November 21, 2020. https://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/MousaOurania.html.

Ustinova, Yulia. “Aphrodite Ourania of the Bosporus: The Great Goddess of a Frontier Pantheon.” Revue internationale et pluridisciplinaire de religion grecque antique, 11 (January 1998), 209-226.

Ustinova, Yulia. “The Supreme Gods of the Bosporan Kingdom: Celestial Aphrodite and the Most High God.” Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, vol. 135 (1999), 1-341. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004295902

Wiktionary. “οὐρανός.” Accessed November 21, 2020. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/οὐρανός#Ancient_Greek.

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