King David in the Cave



Contents

A. The Defining Legends

B. Practice of Cave Burials around the World

C. Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales

D. Explanatory Facts and Myths  

Conclusion

Links

 

A.    The Defining Legends
 
This article has been inspired by a story – legend, fairy tale – told by the Hebrew National poet, Haim Nahman Bialik, about the greatest Israelite-Jewish king of all times, the Biblical King David. The story is called King David in the Cave, and below is its abstract translated from the Hebrew by the author of this essay. The Hebrew version in full appears online (s. Links).
 
Kind David in the Cave:
"It was said that King David never died but was lying asleep in a secret cave where he waits for someone to wake him up so that he can come out of the cave and save the People of Israel from their troubles. Two devout young men decide one day to go look for the cave where King David lies asleep. Going through many troubles, overcoming many obstacles, and with the help of magic they finally arrive at the cave, but when it opens up, they stand stunned at the splendor before them. In a gold-paneled room, the King is lying on a golden bed. Near his head are laid his spear and a bottle of sacred water from the Garden of Eden, and at his feet a golden candle is lit; his harp, plated gold, is hanging on the wall, and on a golden table before him are laid his crown and scepter, set with precious stones. The King then stretches his hands so the men should pour sacred water of them, thus wake him up; but they are too stupefied to notice, and after a moment King David folds his arms again. A terrible storm then comes and sweeps the two men out of the cave to a strange land far away, and as much as they search, they can never find the cave again."
 
It must be noticed that many legends, from Talmudic till almost these days, have been written about the burial of King David in a cave, most of them point to a place called Mount Zion in Jerusalem; there is no known source, however, for the idea of his waking up and rising to save Israel as it is presented in Bialik's legend.
 
King Arthur's legend: The following parallel story, though not so detailed or artistically told, is that of King Arthur, which appears online based on various sources, in a site called King Arthur, Death and Burial (s. Links): "Part of the Arthurian Legends tells of the death or disappearance of King Arthur. One version of his legend says that he lies in a cave in the mysterious Isle of Avalon, waiting for the day he is needed again by his country, although others claim that he is dead. The Monks of Glastonbury claim to have found King Arthur's grave but there is no evidence for its existence anywhere. Early legends say that he is sleeping in a magical cave and will return when Britain needs him again. The concept of King Arthur never having died appears in the Black Book of Carmarthen of the mid to late 9th cent.; this notion was widespread by the 12th cent., and was recorded in Breton, Welsh and Cornish folk lore."

The main similarities between the two stories, which are world apart in period and background, are as follows: 1. The mythical position of the two heroes as Savior Kings; 2. The doubtful state the two Kings are in, either dead or asleep; 3. The futuristic aspect of the two Kings as Saviors.

Both kings were considered saviors of their peoples in their lifetime; but the idea of their emergence of the cave of their burial in the future to resume their former function lies outside the scope of the "official" versions of their life stories. It is this emergence idea from the cave that lends those two legends the characteristics of myth, which forms the basis for this essay.


B.     Cave burial Practices around the World

From reading archaeological reports it seems that cave burial has been the custom in many places in the world even before our own species of Homo sapiens emerged and until very recently. Such report, for instance, appears on the site of Burial Archaeology, which cites names and periods of this practice in many places in the world (s. Links).
 
Old world:
The site refers only to what is called the Old World of Europe and the Middle East – no cave burial is mentioned in Africa. The use of caves was wide-spread during Middle Paleolithic times of Neanderthal Man (c. 200,000 BP) in Iraq; the Upper Paleolithic Homo sapiens (c. 26,000 BP) in Britain and in Italy (28,000 years); and during mixed periods of both Neanderthal and Homo sapiens in Israel (s. Links for each one of them). Another online site says that caves were frequently used in Northwest Europe during Mesolithic times (s. Links) – which starts round about the Neolithic time in the Middle East, about 12,000 BP; Neolithic times in Northern Europe begin about 5000 BP.
 
Israel: 
Burial caves have been found in Israel from the Middle Paleolithic down the ages through Neolithic (Wadi Hilazon), Chalcolithic and Bronze age (Peqi'in), Iron age (Beit Lei), and up till the Roman conquest during about 2,000 BP. The story of Middle Paleolithic cave burial in Israel appears in Wikipedia site called Skhul and Qafzeh Hominids (s. Links), in Mount Carmel and Lower Galilee respectively. The bone fossils are dated at about 120,000 to 80,000 BP, perhaps the oldest burial caves with"treasures" of artifacts:  flint tools, animals bones, sea shells and lumps of red ochre.
 
Crete: 
An article about cave burial from the early Minoan period appears in a series of lessons about the Cretan culture (s. Links), saying: "Burial in caves was the standard form of burial during the Late Neolithic period in the north and east of the island." Perhaps the most famous cave in Crete is the one at Dicte, whose story appears under the title "Minoan Burial Types and Tombs" in the site of Archeology (s. Links) – more about it can be seen in the next chapter of this essay.

Britain: 
The practice of cave burial is presented in a site belonging to British Archeology (s. Links). In an article called "In this Dark Cavern thy Burying Place," it is claimed that "For most of prehistory, people buried their dead in caves," and continues to explain that it was people's favorite burial place in Britain and elsewhere. Neanderthal remains dating from about 225,000 BC were found North Wales; and from the last of the Ice Ages till the Iron Age people continually used caves for burial, as they also did in Neolithic times in Southern Europe. The Irish Archaeological Excavations site (s. Links) also brings a description of the discovery of cave burial in Ireland in Neolithic times.
 
Far East: 
Cave burials were used beyond the limits of Europe and the Middle East, and are known to have been practiced in China, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. In China, the article "Chinese Royal Cave Burial" in the site History and Culture of China (s. Links) tells of kings' tombs of the Han Dynasty: "The cave burials of royalties in China are full of precious artifacts but they are not secret or sacred."
 
A Wikipedia article tells about a Cave Temple near a place called Dhambulla in Sri Lanka (s. Links). "Ibbankatuwa prehistoric burial site near Dhambulla cave temple complexes is the latest archaeological site of significant historical importance. Five caves on this site contain statues and paintings relating to the Lord Buddha and his life, as well as statues of Sri Lankan kings, gods and goddesses."
 
Another ancient burial cave was discovered in Mindanao in the Philippines (s. Links), where officials have sealed the site to prevent the looting of artifacts. Such artifacts include clay jars shaped in different human forms, associated to the Metal Age in the Philippines.
 
In South East Asia, burial caves contain sacred images of Hindu gods, in spite of the people being largely Buddhist. The Hindu people of India do not bury their dead at all but burn them, which shows a different attitude toward the dead which does not belong to the theme of this essay.
 
America: 
From an investigation of Mayan cave sites (s. Lings) it seems that while the common people used caves to bury their dead, the leaders preferred to build "cave like" tombs for that purpose.
 
The article "Cave Burials" appearing in Native American Nations (s. Links), claims that "in almost every state in the Union burial caves have been discovered," many times accompanied by various artifacts.
Cave burials were quite common among the peoples of America, both North and South (s. Links). According to "Cave Burial" in Mortuary Customs of the North American Indians, Amerindians simply adopted caves as ready and convenient resting places for their deceased relatives and friends. Bows and arrows in were found in such caves, together with charcoal.
 
In the same article there is also a mention of cave burial in Alaska practiced by the Innuit people. A similar mention appears in A Burial Cave in the Western Aleutian Islands (s. Links). This burial cave is described by its finders, an Archeological and Paleobiological Project team, who located the cave in the Near Islands, Alaska. Human burials were found in the cave interior from three periods, the earliest are from 1,200 to 800 years ago and the latest from WWII.

Pacific Islands: 
Cave burial custom also extends into the Pacific islands. Two different online sites tell about burial caves in Hawaii. Coffee Times (s. Links) says that cave burials were the custom in Hawaii, and burial caves were found on every Hawaiian Island. Unfortunately, by the time many of the caves were catalogued by authorities, they had already been discovered and looted. Leading families are believed to have had their own secret burial caves, the location of which was closely guarded by the family retainer. The idea that the caves were looted hints at them having artifacts worthy of looting.

Hawaii: 
A special burial cave site on the Hawaiian Islands is Pohukaina. This is a cave system told about by Jim Bartels on the online site of Nu'uanu (s. Links). The greatest kings were buried in secret caves. Since the ancient kings were buried with their treasured possessions, this came to be thought of as a treasure house. The cave contained waterfalls, running streams, huge chambers and great treasure.
 

C.     Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales
 
Many myths, legends and fairy tales from all over the world have been told orally or written down from ancient times about the use of caves by humans; some relate to historical or quasi-historical figures, others to mythical gods or to persons of heroic statures. The following chapter is divided to sections according to the subject matter of the tales appearing in them.
 
Cave Burial:
China – An interesting tale is told on the site of Cultural Chine, about the origin of cave burial (s. Links). A girl from Gumeng County who married into the Gaopo County asked on her death bed to be buried in a cave, because it is cool in summer and warm in winter, free from rain and wind so that she could feel at ease – thus regarding the cave as a shelter. When she died, her coffin became the first one in the cave, thus initiating the custom of cave burial.
 
No further explanation is offered, except hinting that life in her new place was not very easy for that Chinese woman. The custom of cave burial is hinted it in the story of Abraham in book of Genesis of the Old Testament. Interestingly enough, this story also involves people who are strangers in their place of living.
 
Israel – This is the story of Abraham, an important Hebrew chieftain from about 4,000 BP, who is considered the first monotheistic Jew in a world of pagans and the first direct ancestor of the People of Israel. It is said in the Bible, that when his wife Sara died, Abraham wanted to acquire the burial cave called Machpela (or Makhpela, as its proper transcription should be) from its Hittite owners, to use not only to bury Sara but as a legitimate Family burial cave. Having purchased the cave with good money, Abraham buried his wife there; when he died he was also buried there, and after him so were also his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob, as well as their wives.
 
What made the Machpela cave a mythical place was the legend that Adam and Eve were also buried in it. But what makes it even more sacred till this day is the fact that the Muslims also claim to have descended from Abraham through his son Ishma'el, which makes it a bone of contention between Arabs and Jews till this very day.
 

Temporary Stay in a Cave:                                                                                     
Christian – Jesus' Jewish origin is stressed in the New Testament gospel according to Matthew, as it is told in a site called Gospel Way (s. Links). It says that Jesus' disciples took his body down from the cross, prepared it for burial and placed it in the cave tomb of the Jew, Joseph of Arimathea – probably because Jesus did not have his own burial cave. Unlike ordinary Jews, however, according to Christian belief Jesus was resurrected and rose to dwell in heaven, to fulfill his destiny and act as a Savior. Contrary to have been called Christ, i.e. Messiah ("anointed"), the traditional Jewish Messiah, though expected to be a Savior, is supposed an ordinary human being and was never assumed to become a god.

Russia – Another person who stayed temporarily in a cave supposed to be dead is the fairy tale figure known as Snow White, according to her story as told by Russian tradition. While the tale varies in a few details from the Brother Grimm's version, the important difference is that when the people with whom the Princess was staying (knights rather than dwarves) found her lifeless after eating the poisoned apple, they put her in a crystal coffin inside a cave. When the Prince found her there, he hit the coffin and broke it, and the Princess came out of it back to life. In stories from other places, the people in the cave are thought to be asleep.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Britain – The idea of people sleeping in a cave waiting to be awakened and rise to the rescue is reminiscent of stories told about King David and King Arthur. Two such stories appear on a site called Sleeping Hero Legends (s. Links). One is called "The Cave of the Young Men of Snowdonia," telling a story connected with the cave of Craig y Dinas:  A shepherd climbed up a cliff to rescue a sheep, found an opening into the rock and saw a vast cave stretching into the bowels of the mountain. In it he saw a host of warriors all asleep. Suddenly they woke up and jumped to their feet, giving a loud shout. The shepherd took alarm, came out and climbed down the precipice. The warriors, presumably, returned to their sleep inside the cave.

The other story is called "The Wizard of Alderley Edge" (s. Links). That wizard tempted a farmer to get into a cave, where a countless number of men and horses were all fast asleep. The wizard told the farmer that his horse was needed to complete those sleeping in the cave, so they could go down to the plain below, fight and save their country. The farmer leaves his horse behind and escapes from the cave, which vanishes and is never found again.

Hiding in a cave:                                                                                                               A more A common use of a cave that appears in tales and legends is hiding, usually escaping from a persecuting enemy.

Israel – David himself, before becoming king, hid in a cave when escaping from King Saul who wanted to kill him.

Another Biblical figure on flight was the prophet Elijah, whose story appears in the Old Testament book of II Kings. He had made war against the pagan worship of the Canaanite god Baal, practiced by King Ahab and his Canaanite wife Jezebel. When they wanted to kill him, he ran away and hid in a cave, where an angel of God appeared before him.

At the time of the Jewish Second Temple, the sage Shimon Bar-Yohai defied the Romans who ruled the country of Judea at the time. Escaping from their judgment, he and his son hid in a cave in the Galilee and lived there for twelve years teaching the Torah to people who wanted to learn (s. Links). In Judaism, worshiping the One God and learning his teaching is parallel to other people's heroism in battle.
 
Greece – Here the stories involve deities rather than ordinary people. One of the most famous caves is the one in Dicte at Crete, which is shown till this day (s. above); its story is told in Explore Crete (s. Links). Greek myths, as told by the ancient poet Hesiod in his Theogony, says that when the goddess Rhea was about to give birth to the chief Olympic god Zeus, she had to hide him from his father Cronos who killed all her former children. She was transferred to Crete, where Gaia (Mother Earth) hid the infant Zeus in a cave and he was suckled by the goat Amalthea.
 
Rome – There is one theory that the name of Rome is derived from that of Romulus, the legendary founder of the city; as babies, he and his twin Remus hid in a cave from their murderous uncle, where they were fed by a she-wolf. The story can be found in the site Roman Mythology (s. Links).

Scotland – The Scottish story of King Robert the Bruce (s. Links) is based on historical figures. He is said to have been hiding in a cave whilst "evading capture by Edward Longshanks I of England", spending "three months living a solitary existence at a time when the Wars of Independence were at their bleakest for the Scots." From this cave Robert the Bruce came out to become King of the Scots.

Ireland – A number of Irish legends about hiding in caves sound more like myths or fairy tales than historical in nature. In the site Irish Folktales (s. Links), a story is told about Prince Cuglas who chased a deer. The deer disappeared through the mouth of a cave, the dogs followed and the Prince came after on his horse. After many adventures, Prince Cuglas met Fairy Queen Crede and stayed with her, "and never returned to the fair hills of Erin."

In the Wikipedia site Irish Fairy Tales (s. Links), it is told that Fionn met a fairy woman named Saeve who was on the run. He took her to his home and promised to protect her. She turned into a deer and disappeared, and after seven years he found a boy who had been hiding in a cave, claiming to be their son. The boy was called Oisin, meaning a "deer", which implies in a strange way a connection to the former tale. 

The mythological significance of these legends will be shown in the next chapter.


D.    Explanatory Facts and Myths                                                                                                                                                         

The idea of the cave appears not only in personal stories but also in myths that symbolize general realities.                                                                            
 
Shelter Caves:
The most prominent fact about caves is that they have been used as shelters by early humans, or even by pre-human creatures. The Chinese story above showed that the woman who moved from her original county to her husband's place regarded the burial cave as a shelter from bad weather. An article called "Cave" on the site of encyclopedia.com (s. Links) talks about the beauty and mystery of caves, saying that, "existing beneath the surface of the planet, they have attracted humans for hundreds of thousands of years. For more than 30,000 years they have been used for rituals, have served both for shelters and burials, and have attested to the creativity of early humans and their relationship to the natural world."
 
It may be noted that on the whole, cave myths in Africa are usually related to animals; on Early Human Culture (s. Links) the only online site mentioning a cave related to humans in Africa, the cave serves as shelter. This idea may encompass most stories about people hiding in caves--not just from the weather but also from enemies.
 
It is possible that through finding shelter and staying long term in caves – for the purpose of staying cool during hot sunny summers, remaining dry during long rainy seasons, or being warm in periods of ice ages – humans, as their nature has always been, investigated those caves and discovered unexpected treasures inside them: fresh running water; edible stuff like mushrooms and small animals like insects and bats; or magical wonders like stalactites and stalagmites. This would make any cave not only fit for shelter but also a treasure trove.
 
Oracle caves:
It is also possible that through cracks and crevices in walls of caves located in the slopes of active or dormant volcanoes, strange smelling gasses would seep into the cave, affecting people staying there in strange ways, making some of them utter meaningless sounds and words. Perhaps that was the origin of oracles found inside caves.
 
Both the finding of natural treasures and the noxious gasses may have led to the idea that the cave may be a receptacle, or perhaps a passage way, for things that originate beyond the cave's walls; perhaps such things that come from another world hidden under the surface of the earth – the Otherworld, or Underworld. Then, when gods were created, they sent mysterious messages, often sounding like gibberish and needing the interpretation of priests, while the oracle served as a mediator between gods and humans.  
 
A few oracle caves are known from Greece :  An article about Lethe, the river of forgetting, on the Online site of Mythencyclopedia (s. Links), says that it was located at a cave near the Greek town of Lebadeia, containing an oracle that was believed to be an entrance to the underworld.
 
A Wikipedia article named Aornum (s. Links) tells about another oracle in Ancient Greece located in a cave named for Charon, the ferry man who took the dead over the river Styx to the Underworld.
 
Orpheus' story of his descent into the Underworld to retrieve his dead wife Eurydice, ends with him being killed and torn to pieces by Dionysus' Maenads and his head thrown into a river; his head was carried to the isle of Lesbos, where it was put into a cave and used as an oracle.
 
The best known is, of course, the oracle at Delphi, where the Pythia sat on a stool above an opening into the bowels of the Earth, from where Gaia send her noxious gasses which caused her to prophesy.
 
A cave oracle is also known from Nigeria, as mentioned in the Wikipedia article Oracle (s. Links). It says that the Igbo people have long tradition of using oracles. In Igbo villages, oracles were usually female priestesses to a particular deity, usually dwelling in a cave.
 
Passage to the Realm of the Dead:                                                                                                 Two articles in Myth Encyclopedia (s. Links) refer to the nature of the Underworld (s. Links). In one it is claimed that "The most common idea of the underworld is that it lies beneath the everyday world. The passage from this world to the other may begin by descending into a cave, well, or pit. However, the distance between the two worlds is more than physical, and the spiritual journey involved often includes great peril. The souls of the dead are the principal travelers, but sometimes living heroes, mystics, and shamans also make the journey.
 
In the other article it is said: "Many myths are told of the otherworld. In this mysterious place, there was no work and no death, and the gods and spirits who lived there never got old. The Celts believed that humans could enter this enchanted place through burial mounds called 'sidhe' through caves or lakes, or after completing a perilous journey. After reaching the otherworld, they would live happily for all time."
 
There is a general agreement that the Underworld mentioned above is the dwelling place of the dead, although there is a disagreement about the nature of that dwelling. An Answer.com site quotes from the The Online Etymology Dictionary, suggesting  that the English word Hell may be in part derived from Hel, a half-monster daughter of Loki who ruled over the evil dead in Niflheim, the lowest of the underworlds. 

The Germanic/Norse word "Hel" for the underworld was used in the King James Bible to translate Old Testament Hebrew "Sheol" and New Testament Greek "Hades" and "Gehenna", thus mingling and confusing Greek, Palestinian and North German folklore about the realm of the dead. The expression "Gates of Hell" is mentioned in a story about the Cave of the Cats (s. Links) on the site of History and Heritage, saying that the Irish believe that caves are one of the most important entrances and exits to the Otherworld; after Ireland's conversion to Christianity, the cave was thought of as the "Gates of Hell" through which demons and ghosts travel to the upper world on Halloween.
 
Temple Caves:
Perhaps, though I've found no direct evidence in the form of myth, story or legend, the gods in their cave temple were put there as guardians of the entrance to the Underworld. In the Far East, there are such caves which are dedicated to various gods; they contain images of these gods, are considered sacred and serve as temples.
 
An article by Tianshu, called "The Sun God and the Wind Deity at Kizil" (s. Links), claims that there is a prominent Buddhist cave site in the ancient Kucha kingdom along the Silk Road. Since it is at the intersection of East and West cultures, the iconography of this Central Asian site has elements from India, Iran, Rome, and China. Among other images in the cave there are those of the chariot-riding sun god and the scarf-holding wind goddess, depicted on the central strip of the ceilings.

In Thailand, the god Guhesvara, or Siva, is said to be the Lord of Caves. According to an article about him by Willard van de Bogart, Siva lived in a cave in the Himalayas on Mt Kailasa. Wat Tham Boya sits at the base of one of the hills of the Khao Luang Forest Park, where a very long staircase ascends the steep hill that reaches the entrance to the Boh Ya cave. There is also a vast cave system containing many sacred images in Dambulla in Sri Lanka. It may be noted that such Temple caves contain images of Hindu gods, in spite of the fact that most people of Southeast Asia are Buddhist (s. Links).

Emergence through caves:
Surprisingly, at least for people brought up on what is called Western Civilization (which does not include the Westernmost peoples from America and the Pacific), many so-called creation myths include the use of caves. The Australian Aborogines tell it in this way, as appears in the article "Australian Aborigine Creation" (s. Link): "The Sun Mother glided down to Earth, which was bare at the time and began to walk in all directions and everywhere she walked plants grew. After returning to the field where she had begun her work … she ventured into the dark caves on the mountainsides. The bright light that radiated from her awoke the spirits and after she left insects of all kinds flew out of the caves ... The Mother ventured into a very deep cave, spreading her light around her. Her heat melted the ice and the rivers and streams of the world were created. Then she created fish and small snakes, lizards and frogs. Next she awoke the spirits of the birds and animals and they burst into the sunshine in a glorious array of colors." 

In other places, the use of caves in the Creation myth is told it in a different way, as appears on a site named Creators and Creatures (s. Links), in the chapter of Emergence Myths that are taken from Asia and Central America. According to such myths, human beings emerged on the surface of the existing earth by climbing from inside it through a cave that served as a passageway.
 
The Maya takes the emergence idea further than the moment of creation, referring it to the more general idea concerned with fertility, as appears in a Wikipedia site concerning Mayan Cave Sites (s. Links). For the Maya people, life and death occurred between this world and the other world, and caves were associated with both life and death. When something emerges from the underworld it lives, or is born, and when it descends into the underworld, it dies. Caves were thus seen as birthplaces, associated with fertility rites connected with birth.
 
This connection of caves to both disappearing and re-appearing was associated also with the rites of the Iranian Sun god Mithras. According to Armenian tradition, as appears on a site named Iranvision.com (s. Links), the god Mithras shut himself up in a cave from which he emerged once a year, born anew. The Persians introduced initiates to the mysteries of Mithras in natural caves serving as temples, according to Porphyry, a philosopher of the third century. According to Persian creation myth, these cave temples were created in the image of the World Cave that Mithras had created.
 
Birth caves:
The idea of emerging from the Underworld through a cave leads the idea directly – as has been shown in the Maya myths and that of Mithras – to the connection between birth and fertility, which was so rife in the pagan world. Mithras was not by any means the only god who was reborn and emerged from a cave. In Zeus' story above, whose mother gave birth to him in the Dictaean cave (s. Links), it is told that "The Diktaean Zeus was worshipped in this cave. He is depicted on the earliest offerings found inside it as a young, beardless man. He died and was reborn each year, in a spectacular way: fire blazed up from the depths of the cave at the moment of his rebirth."
 
There are other known figures of mythology who were born in caves: It is told in Scandinavian myths, as appears in a Wikipedia article about the Cave of Thor's Birth (s. Links), that when their chief god Odin wanted a worthy heir, he got the Earth goddess Jord pregnant. When she was about to give birth, he had a cave decorated where she had her son Thor.
 
The Muslims also believe that the Biblical Abraham (s. above) was also born in a cave, in a place called Urfa (s. Links), located in the south of modern turkey not far from the ancient Syrian town of Haran; this, according to the book of Genesis, was the place where Abraham came from on his way to the Land of Canaan (Israel).
 
Even the Christian Jesus, according to Catholic tradition, was said to have been born in a cave where the manger he was put in stood. This supposed manger is displayed in the Vatican City (s. Links) even today. 
 

Conclusion
 
My contention is that both defining legends, one purports to be Jewish, the other Christian, are actually based on pagan ideas of fertility. The cave itself, according to Mayan myths, forms such a connection, linked as the article claims to winds, rain, lightning and clouds.
 
The basic idea of the cave as a passage way between the realms of below and above the surface of the Earth is connected to the basic pagan idea of the cycle of life and with death, the natural idea of dying and resurrection. Although neither David nor Arthur are explicit parts of this pagan cycle, both were considered in some part of their long traditions as representatives of this very cycle, reminiscent of the Hebrew traditional chant "David, King of Israel, is alive and well," or the saying about Arthur that he is the "Once and Future King". In this they may be likened the ancient fertility gods Tamuz, Baal, Adonis or Osiris, who continually died and came back to life. In a site Pagan Origins of Easter, there is the best explanation I've found online about these deities, including their reference to the story of Jesus (s. Links).
 
It was said above that "The Celts believed that humans could enter the enchanted place they called Otherworld through burial mounds, caves or lakes." In a book named Goddess in Her Honor by Adele Getty, the author says: "The cave, universally identified with the womb of Mother Earth, has from earliest times been used as the place for symbolic rebirth." The dying and reborn pagan gods mentioned above all die in the name of Mother Earth as the greatest pagan goddess that has ever been, as I have written in my article The Great Mother (s. Links). The word "mound" recalls the physiological term "mound of Venus"; mounds may be used for burial on plains, where there are no hills or mountain that contain natural caves. Mountain in Hebrew is Har, and a pregnant woman is Hara – I can't think of any expression that presents better a pregnant woman as Mother Earth, from whose belly new life emerges.
 

Links:


A.The Defining Legends
 


 

B. Practices around the World
 
 
British Cave burial practice - http://www.spoilheap.co.uk/burial.htm
 


 
 
 


 
 
 




C.Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales





                                                                                         
Scotland - http://www.brucescave.co.uk/history.html               
                                                                                                 
Irish folklore - http://worldoftales.com/European_folktales/Irish_Folktale_6.html                                                                             


                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Kings 19 -  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+19&version=NASB
                                                        
Shimon bar Yohai - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimon_bar_Yochai                         

Crete – http://www.explorecrete.com/archaeology/dikteon-andron-cave.html                                                                                 



Iran - http://www.iranvision.com/mithras.html                                                             


D. Explanatory myths

Shelter - http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/cave.aspx - encyclopedia.com                                                                              


Oracles: Greece, Lethe - http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Le-Me/Lethe.html                                                                     

Aornum - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aornum                

Nigeria - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oracle                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                           Underworld - http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Tr-Wa/Underworld.html   
                                                                                                                                                                 Celtic Otherworld - lhttp://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Ca-Cr/Celtic-Mythology.htm           


###



Witches Lore,  nonfiction, Issue 3, June 1, 2008

Mythological Giants and Their Wars,  nonfiction, Issue 12, September 1, 2010


King David in the Cave, nonfiction, Issue 19, June 1, 2012

Human Sacrifice, nonfiction, Issue 26, March 1, 2014

The Loss and Search for a Loved One, Issue 28, September 1, 2014

The Mythology of Water, Issue 32, September 1, 2015

Mazes and Spirals, Issue 33, December 1, 2015

Tala Bar, I am a writer and an artist and I live in Israel. I studied Hebrew and English languages and literature and I hold a Master of Philosophy degree in literature from London University; before my retirement, I was a teacher of Hebrew and English languages and literature. I am interested in anthropology in general and in mythology in particular and I write with these subjects in mind. In literature, I am particularly interested in fantasy and science fiction and I have written and had published stories, novellas, novels and essays both in Hebrew and English. A list of my published works in English can be found in this address:   

https://www.facebook.com/tala.barrubin?sk=notes#!/editnote.php?draft&note_id=668947876498985&id=100001513373155    

Samples of my art works and some family photos can be found in the following address:                                                        

http://www.all-art.co.il/ArtWorks/ArtWorksChapter.asp?StageId=1739




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