Mythology: January

Mythology: January

Cronus or Kronos/ Chronos 

At the start of a new year, the concept of time is engrained in people’s minds. The concept of the future, the past, and the present is what makes a New Year a New Year. With this theme of time, it makes us wonder who was the God of time, and what did he stand for? There are two Greek Gods that represent time: one named Cronus and another named Chronos. The reason for there being two different Gods is that they were both based on different religions. However, the main difference between them is how they both stand for an entirely different vision of how the world came to exist. 

Chronos is the primordial god of time and he was depicted as a serpent with three heads. Primordials are typically considered as the physical embodiment of a concept rather than a God who controls that concept. In essence, Chronos was the time itself and time exists because he does.

On the other hand, Cronus (also known as Kronos) is a God, more specifically the Titan Lord of Time. Cronus specifically represented destructive time and the time of harvest. He was described as a destructive and all-devouring force because he envied his father, Uranus, leading him to castrate his own father. Due to this, he is depicted with a scythe, to represent the instrument he used to castrate his father. While the Greeks considered him a cruel and tempestuous force of chaos, he was also associated with the “Saturnian” Golden Age, causing him to become the God of Time.

These different embodiments of who controlled time and what time demonstrate the enigma that time embodies. The Greeks’ different idea of what time reflects our society today, as we all have a different perspective of time. When we go into a new year, what we make of our time is up to us. 

Heh

Time is often perceived as an eternal, linear stream. The Egyptian god that represents infinity and time Heh has many different representations of his name, all meaning endless- Huh, Hah, Hauh, Huah, or Hahuh. Heh has no clear gender, however, Huh represents the male aspect and Heh or Hauhlet represents the female aspect of this deity. Heh is additionally known to represent long life and eternity. 

The Egyptians believed that before land existed on the earth, there was a watery mass of dark, directionless chaos. There were four frog gods and four snake goddesses – the number four representing completeness- that lived in that chaos who formed the Ogdoad, or system of eight deities. Heh was paired with Hauhlet and came to symbolize infinite time. As the God of infinity, Heh was linked with numbers. The image of Heh with his two hands raised was the hieroglyph for one million, considered equivalent to infinity in ancient Egypt (thus having the title of “the god of millions of years”).  During the day, Heh traveled in a boat named ‘Barque of a Million Years’ until the end of time.

Heh is often shown crouching holding a palm stem in each hand with a shen ring at the base of each palm stem, which was the Egyptian symbol for long life (the shen ring is a traditional symbol for infinity). In ancient Egypt, time is depicted as infinite, paralleling how we see time today as the new year begins and time continues.