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Ascension to the Heavens in Ancient Mythology

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Ascension to the Heavens in Ancient Mythology

The ascension of humans or beings into the heavens is a common theme among many mythologies and religions all over the world. Even though most people recognize the well-known ascension of ******, and the other examples of the Old Testament, it is surprising how many more have been described as ascending towards their ‘gods’. In this account, the word ‘ascension’ refers to entering the realm of the ****(s), whether temporarily or permanently. Here we will look at the most famous examples.

Hercules – Greek Mythology

Hercules, son of Greek **** Zeus and Princess Alcmene, who was also the wife of the King of Thebes, 

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, was one of the most famous ancient Greek Demi-Gods.  He was worshipped in many temples throughout Greece and Italy in ancient times and is well known for his 
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 assigned to him by Eurystheus, King of the Mycenaean stronghold of 
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 – as ordered by Zeus’ wife, goddess Hera, who wanted Hercules *****.

In one of 

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, Hercules ******* the centaur Nessus for trying to ******** his wife Deianira. But just before he *****, Nessus set up his revenge by telling Deianira that his blood could be used as a love potion, when in reality it was poisonous and deadly. 

Nessus attempting to take Dejanira from Hercules: Nessus restrains Dejanira on his back while striding to the right, Hercules draws his arrow at left, from the series ‘The Labors of Hercules’ (

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Deianira, believing the blood would deepen her love with Hercules, made him clothing from the blood of Nessus. When Hercules put on the clothing, his flesh began to ***** because of the poisonous blood of Nessus. Knowing that his ****** was approaching, he asked to be taken to the highest peak of the mount Oiti to be burned in a ***** to escape his ********.

The event was said to have taken place on a hill over mount Oiti, just above the ancient city of Delphi.

The ruins of the ancient city of Delphi. (

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Hercules was thrown into the ***** and, as this happened, a large dark cloud producing noisy thunder descended over them. After a while the cloud ascended again and to their surprise Hercules’ friends realized that Hercules had disappeared. From then on it was told that Hercules ascended to Mount Olympus to be among the gods. According to mythology, Hercules got married to Ivi, daughter of Zeus, and remained on Mount Olympus forever as an immortal.

Adapa – Sumerian Mythology

Adapa (or Adamu) according to the Sumerian mythology was the son of **** Ea (Enki), the patron **** of the famous ancient city of Eridu. Adapa was a demi-**** who learned much of his knowledge through his father, however he wasn’t immortal.

Adapa was out fishing one day when a wind overturned his boat, causing him great anger. In his rage he broke the ‘South Wind’, a type of ****, which was responsible for the event. According 

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, the Supreme **** Anu, father of Enki, called Adapa to account for his actions, and for this Adapa was ascended to Anu’s abode.

Ningishzida (middle figure) bringing Adapa of Eridu to Anu (on throne at right) (

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His father gave him warnings of what he would expect when encountering Anu and guided him on how to answer his questions and how to fool the Guardians of the Gate of Anu’s Palace. Here is how the account of his ascension is noted in the ancient Sumerian Tablet:

“Adapa, the son of Ea, the wing of the South wind
Has broken.”
When Anu heard these words
He cried, “Help!” He ascended his throne,
“Let someone bring him,”
Likewise Ea, who knows the heaven. He roused him
… he caused him to wear. With a mourning garment
He garbed him, and gave him counsel
Saying: “Adapa, before the face of Anu the King thou art to go
… to heaven
When thou comest up, and when thou approachest the door of Anu…”

(Cuneiform Parallels to the Old Testament ” by R.W. Rogers, 1912)

Enoch – Old Testament

One of the most famous ascension stories in the Old Testament is the story of Enoch. Enoch was one of ****’s favorite subjects. Patriarch Enoch was the great grandfather of Noah and the father of Methuselah. You will find him in the Book of Genesis where he is referred to as one of the ten Patriarchs before the great Deluge. According to the Old Testament, Pre-Deluge humans were said to live for a few hundred years. Enoch lived for 365 years, which was relatively short by the measure of that time.

Enoch’s ascension, when **** took Enoch, as in Genesis 5:24: “And Enoch walked with ****: and he was no more; for **** took him.” (KJV) illustration from the 1728 Figures de la ******; illustrated by Gerard Hoet (1648–1733) and others, and published by P. de Hondt in The Hague; image courtesy Bizzell ****** Collection, University of Oklahoma Libraries (

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In Genesis we have the first reference to Enoch ascending with the help of ****:

And Enoch walked with ****; and he was no more; for **** took him. (

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The next reference is in Hebrews 11:5:

By ****** Enoch was taken up so that he would not see ******; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE **** TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to ****. (

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In the latter, we can see that not only he ascended but he also became immortal:

“…so that he would not see ******”.

If we now move to the apocryphal 

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, we can see multiple descriptions and details of encounters between Enoch and ****. These books are the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Books of Enoch. The most well-known is the 1st book of Enoch, which was discovered in 1773 by the explorer James Bruce, who retrieved three Ethiopic copies of the book in Abyssinia. The Book of Enoch is not considered to be part of the ****** or of the Hebrew texts.

In the Book of Enoch, we have references to the ‘Watchers’, Enoch taken by Angels to see the different levels of Heavens, portals, and many other mysteries that were forbidden to man. Here are some abstracts from the book of Enoch:

“… This place is the prison of the angels, and here they will be imprisoned for ever …
… And here I saw three portals of heaven open in the heaven: through each of them proceed north winds: when they ***** there is cold, hail, frost, snow, dew, and rain….
… And it came to pass after this that my spirit was translated. And it ascended into the heavens: And I saw the holy sons of ****. They were stepping on flames of *****: Their garments were white. And their faces shone like snow. …
… And I saw there as it were a structure built of crystals, And between those crystals tongues of living ***** …
… And I saw angels who could not be counted, A thousand thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand, Encircling that house…”

(Book of Enoch)

There are extensive references in the book of Enoch that go beyond the scope of this article.

The Ascension of Elijah – Old Testament

Elijah’s story is another fascinating ascension into the heavens, but this time through chariots of *****. Elijah (his name means “My **** is Yahweh”), was one of the major prophets of the Old Testament. According to the Book of Kings, he had extraordinary ****-like abilities. He could bring people back from the *****, make the sky rain with *****, multiply food, separate the water of the Jordan river (similar to what Moses did in the Exodus), and more, as mentioned in the scriptures.

Elijah was a strong supporter of the new ‘****’ of the Old Testament and defended him against the worshiping of Baal, one of the Gods that the ******* worshipped before the Old Testament.

“And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of *****, and horses of *****, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (

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Painting of Elijah Taken Up in a Chariot of ***** by Giuseppe Angeli (1740) (

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Even though it was written that Elijah was taken by ****, according to the prophecies of the Hebrew ******, he was destined to return with the second coming of the ****. Elijah is also described in the Qur’an as one of the great prophets of **** and the most powerful against the battle with Baal.

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 and legends exist describing the stories of mortals ascending to the realm of ****(s), so many that you could write a book about it.

It is apparent from many ancient mythologies and religious texts that people with a ‘special role’ to play were always in direct contact with their ****(s) and visited his/her/their abodes. What accounts for these similar descriptions across different cultures and ages?  Were they simply the products of creative imagination?  Or were ancient people describing real events that took place? It is unlikely that these questions will ever be settled.

Top image: Sumerian Cylinder Seal of King Ur-Nammu, about 2100 BC. Source: Steve Harris/

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hercules, adapa, elijah, enoch, Sumerian, Greek, mythology, gods, ******
#Ascension #Heavens #Ancient #Mythology

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