The religious traditions of antiquity continue to astound and delight modern-day people who appreciate the history of their cultures or the endearing power of their myths.
Many ancient myths contain interesting information about some kind of divine council or “council among the gods.” Most of these divine groups consist of nine deities. The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, notes: “The concept of a divine assembly (or council) is attested in the archaic Sumerian, Akkadian, Old Babylonian, Ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, Canaanite, Israelite, Celtic, Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman and Nordic pantheons.” The testimony of these ancient cultures is important, because ancient myths often have a kernel of truth in them.
Stories of emperors, kings and pharaohs consulting a pantheon of nine gods can be found in virtually every culture across the globe.
Nine Gods of Ancient Egypt – The Ennead
The Ennead were the nine great Osirian gods: Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys. The term is also used to describe the great council of the gods as well as a collective term for all the gods.
Atum was the first who created himself (or arose out of Nu, the primal nothingness) and who created Shu and Tefnut from either his spittle or his blood. From their union came Geb and Nut. Their children, the great-grandchildren of Atum, were the first gods of earth: Osiris and Isis, and Set and Nephthys. From those four were all the pharaohs and many of the gods descended.
Nine Emperor Gods of China
The nine sky lords are believed by Daosists to be original rulers of China and offspring of the supreme god of creation. According to legend nine gods have come from nine star which make Big Dipper: North Ursa Major (visible) and two assistant stars (invisible to most people).
Over time, new versions of Nine Emperors emerge associating them with new identities and the origins.
Nine Emperor Gods Festival
The Nine Emperor Gods Festival is a nine-day Taoist celebration beginning on the eve of 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar, which is observed in the town of Yishun in Singapore, and also primarily in other Southeast Asian countries such as Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia by the local Chinese communities.
The myth of the Nine Emperor Gods is enacted in a body of rituals, the significance of which is reflected in the symbolic representations of the gods. Myth, ritual, and symbol are thus ideologically interrelated to form a structural framework for the interaction of the yin-yang forces at different levels of the cosmic representations featured in the festival. The festival provides a venue for the yearly renewal of cosmic power, so that human life may be rejuvenated and human conflicts.
Nine Unknown Men of Ashoka
The society of the Nine Unknown Men was formed shortly after 226 BC by Emperor Ashoka. Grandson of the legendary Emperor who unified the Indian subcontinent, Chandragupta, Ashoka was anxious to uphold his grandfather’s legacy and maintain the empire.
According to Buddhist legend Ashoka summoned nine of the most brilliant minds in India at the time to be consulted before making big decisions. For security purposes, the identity of these men was never made public. Together, these geniuses formed a secret society that came to be known as the Nine Unknown Men.
The organization set up accumulating all of the scientific knowledge they could, from natural science to psychology to the composition of matter. Fearing that if ordinary men were given scientific knowledge they would use it for destruction, only the Nine Men were allowed to study and develop scientific theories and technology. To better accomplish this daunting task, each of the nine was charged with a specific book that he was to update, revise, and ultimately perfect the knowledge therein. When one of the nine could no longer complete the task – whether from the wish to retire, fading health, or death – the obligation was passed to a chosen successor. The number of members in the society was always to be nine. Thus the society of the Nine Unknown Men has allegedly lived on for over 2000 years.
Nine Etruscan Deities – Novensiles
The basis of Etruscan religion was the fundamental idea that the destiny of man was completely determined by the vagaries of the many deities worshipped by the Etruscans. Among various gods worshipped by Etruscans special place had collective deities – Novensiles.
Nine gods of lightning whose strikes were thought to indicate future events depending on their location. Ancient Roman scholar and writer Marcus Terentius Varro suggested that they are nine, because in doing anything that number is always reputed most powerful and greatest, they have got their power from Jupiter to wield his thunder. All alike were briefly and compendiously invoked under one name – Novensiles.
Zeus and ‘Council of Nine’
In Greek mythology, when Prometheus gave Fire to mankind, he infuriated Zeus, so to punish Prometheus, Zeus had him chained to a rock and every day an eagle came down and ate his liver. Because he was immortal, the liver grew back and the eagle returned to do the same to him the next day. To punish mankind, Zeus and eight other deities gathered to form the Council of Nine. The council members were Aphrodite, Apollo, Athena, Demeter, Hephaestus, Hera, Hermes, Poseidon and Zeus.
Together this council created Pandora, and sent her, as a gift, to Epimetheus. Epimetheus was also given Pandora’s Box, and told to never open it. Curiosity got the better of Pandora and she opened the box, releasing all of the misfortunes of Mankind.
The Nine Muses of the Greek Mythology
The Nine Muses of the Greek Mythology were deities that gave artists, philosophers and individuals the necessary inspiration for creation.
Hesiod reveals that they were called Muses or Mouses in Greek, as the Greek word “mosis” refers to the desire and wish. The word museum also comes from the Greek Muses.
The Nine Muses were: Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomeni, Terpsichore, Erato, Polymnia, Ourania and Calliope.
All the ancient writers appeal to the Muses at the beginning of their work. Homer asks the Muses both in the Iliad and Odyssey to help him tell the story in the most proper way, and until today the Muses are symbols of inspiration and artistic creation.
In painting the Muses are usually presented as ethereal women with divine beauty, holding laurels and other items depending on their faculty.
Is it purely coincidence that so many ancient cultures separated by thousands of miles all worshiped a group of nine gods? Could there be an intergalactic council of nine secretly working behind the scenes, dictating the course of humanity?