In ancient European literature, the north is associated with phenomena that may be the originals of what has been photographed recently from space.
The phenomena described fall into two classes. The first is of those which were perceived and experienced as threats, the timing of whose arrival was calculated by seers who expected from past experience that a threatening object would reappear in the sky, probably the northern sky. Isaiah and Jeremiah are examples of such prophets. The second class is of phenomena which were more or less static and permanent, such as the poros or passage of Alkman, and the column or pillar of Plato's Republic.
The Hebrew tsaphon, north, is the same root as tsapha, to watch. There are references in the Old Testament to prophets watching the skies, ready to give warning of approaching disaster.
Egyptian meht means north. It is shown as a cross and a lotus flower. The Greek lotos is suggestive of el oth, god above, and sign. We have seen that in the Sanskrit padma, lotus, we may have pa, light, and demas, body. Demas is used in Greek of a living body, and may have some connection with Latin domus, house, which in its turn is related to the root thom, to speak.
Egyptian meh is a tiara, like the Greek crown, stephanos, Set visible.
The Greeks used for the north the terms arktos, a bear, and Boreas. Boreas was used especially of the north wind, and is the Kassite god Buriash. Esh, ash, is a Semitic root meaning fire. The names Boreas and Buriash lead one to suspect that whatever was seen in the northern sky was thought of as the fire of Bor. One may speculate and suggest a link between Bor and the Latin verto, turn, alternative spelling vorto. The poli, heavens or poles, may have been thought of as a fire stick, with fire produced as Bor caused the axis of the heavens to turn. This is a variant of the widespread myths of the mill, with which a deity such as Saturn ground the salt that was generally believed to have reached the earth from the sky. Vide A. de Grazia, The Lately Tortured Earth, p. 139f., Metron Publications, Princeton, 1983.
Apollo was said to have come from the land of the Hyperboreans, a people whose name includes the word hyper, meaning beyond, or above. A connection with fire and light begins to emerge when we remember that the first fruits of the Hyperboreans were sent by relay, packed in straw, to the shrine of Apollo at Prasiae, and then taken by the Athenians to Delos, the island that was sacred to him as his birthplace.
Whatever it was that constituted the first fruits of the Hyperboreans, the people who lived beyond, or above, Boreas, there is an interesting coincidence in the fact that the key letters of Prasiae, prs, if reversed, give the consonants of the Hebrew tsaraph, burn.
The Greek poet Pindar writes: "But neither in ships nor on foot will you find the marvellous road to the agon of the Hyperboreans". [Pythian X: 29] An agon is a contest, or a place, possibly in the sky, where contests may occur.
When the Roman augur took up his lituus, and made movements with it in the air and down on the ground, he was transferring to the ground the pattern that he claimed to see in the sky, to mark the outline plan of a projected temple. A temple would be the main building round which the houses of the new city would be built.
The Latin word urbs, city, may easily be an accident created by reading what is now the Slavonic word sobor the wrong way round. In modern Russian, sobor is a cathedral, or a synod. The Slavonic preposition 's' [written 'c' in Russian] means 'down from', or 'with'. Sobor, or sbor, could mean 'down from Bor'.
The Arabic shemal, north, resembles the Hebrew sham, there, which occurs in shammayim, the 'there-waters', i. e. heaven.
Hebrew tav, cross, may conceivably be related to Latin vates, stem vat-, prophet or seer.
Latin arbor, tree, may be the fire, ar, of Bor, who is seen above, el, in the northern sky. His name may even be the poros referred to by Alkman. Arbor may have been Yggdrasil, the world tree. Yggd, frightful, is a name of Odin. Ross is a German word for horse, and might be translated 'steed'. Ill, or Il, is light. Hungarian kivilagit means to illuminate. The Illyrians may even have been the people of the great light, since the root ur means great. Perhaps Yggdrasil is the steed [means of travel], of the light of the frightener, or the light of the frightener's steed. The name of the actual horse of Odin was Sleipnir.
In Greek myth, the father of Eros, love, was Poros, the passage to the sky. This suggests a link with Dionysus and Hermes. Hermes was the Greek equivalent of Thoth, and Dionysus was one of the deities who controlled the thunderbolt. The Greeks were aware of the connection between a deity of the thunderbolt and sexual passion.
Tall trees such as the pine [Greek elate], the sycamore and the cypress may be associated with the poros. Greek hule means wood [as a material]. If reversed, hule becomes eluh, the final h being pronounced more like ch, as in the Scottish word loch.
Egyptian ucha is a pillar. Hule, wood, is probably the tree of El, the divine pillar.
The Latin insula, island, may be derived from in-, power or presence, and sul, a Celtic word and divine name, meaning column. A city may have been regarded as an island, copying what the augur claimed to see in the sky. Egyptian texts refer to the island of fire, where Horus sits on the throne of his father Osiris. Osiris had an iron throne.
Words connected with the north are rich in reversals. Subura was a densely populated area of Rome near the forum, and is the Etruscan spur and Slavonic sobor, assembly. Reversed, these give the Latin for a city, urbs. Polis, Greek for city, may be a reversal of El and op-, the face of El. El opope would mean 'El has seen' or perhaps 'El has looked'. Reversed, it could be the Latin word populus, people, but this is becoming very speculative.
The Latin word for the augur's curved rod, the lituus, is a reversal of the Latin utilis, useful. It was the augur's most useful, indeed essential, tool.
The Greek halme, brine, is a reversal of Hebrew melach, salt. In Hebrew, yam is sea. Yam melach is the Dead Sea. Hebrew min, m, means 'from'. Melach, salt, may indicate that the Hebrews shared the general view held by the ancients that salt came from above. Latin sal, Greek hales or hals, could be 'from El'.
One may compare with this the Greek and Latin mel, honey, which Vergil describes as caelestia, of heavenly origin [like manna].
A king, Hebrew melekh, has his powers from above. The ekh part of melekh may be more familiar in the form of the Greek echo, I have. A Greek prince is described by Homer as skeptouchos, he who holds the sceptre. Could a king, melekh, be 'he who has the honey'? The evidence in Greek myth for this interpretation is that the infant Zeus was fed by bees when hidden in a cave in Crete.