Ibex and Santa
Ibex and Santa
Copyright © 2017 by Yehuda Rotblum
The horned animal myths spread around the world is proof of its strength and age. Its deep permeability into far and different cultures shows that the symbol existed for long times, its prominence known from the Paleolithic times. It could be an Ibex, Reindeer, Deer, Caribou, and even a Ram. Apparently, the symbol changes with geography and time maintaining its role. Accordingly, its role as presented in many mediums such as rock art represents the Fertility God associated with the Sun as illustrated in Fig2.
Fig. 2 Examples of horned animal that carries the sun from Asia. Left to right: Negev Desert, Persia, Pakistan, Tibet, and Siberia.
The Vanishing Sun myth
An important role of the Fertility God, the horned animal, was to take care of the sun (see the article, Ibex Hunt). The Sun Journey, daily and seasonal, got much attention in myths and rock art, noting the most vulnerable times of disappearance, either at night and winter time. Such event marked that chaos and dark forces overtook the land. The vanishing Sun phenomenon arose many customs and rituals, especially during the winter solstice. In the ancient world, the fire ritual was common in all cultures, from Asia to northern Europe and Israel, and its purpose was to strengthen the dwindling sun strength. Worship was conducted by burning wood or shooting flaming arrows into the sky to boost the dying Sun energy.
The myth of Santa Claus, relatively modern, a late derivation of ancient customs related to the myth of vanishing sun. The myth original icons survived in this cheerful story; it echoes the sun disappearance journey. In the modern version, Santa Claus returns to earth from the North Pole at Christmas time, the first-day elongation. He returns on a wagon harnessed to red nose reindeer. The reindeer represents the horned animal and its red nose symbolizes the Sun returning to earth. Christmas is celebrated on December 24, three days after the winter solstice when the days begin to lengthen when the Sun power begins to strengthen.
So myths never die they just change clothes!
More deciphering, in a new book Rock Art in Israel, available online.