The Hadhramaut region of the Arabian Peninsula is an arid strip of land along the Gulf of Aden extending eastwards from Yemen to the borders of the Dhofar. Traditionally, the Hadhramaut encompasses the incense route that brought frankincense and myrrh to Mesopotamia. This ancient route was made possible by intermittent oases created by artesian springs. Modern scholars translate Hadhramaut as "Courtyard of Death". Death as Maut in South Semitic languages means "to become one with the Great Mother Maut". Upon death, the soul merges with the Great Mother and becomes nourishment for the people through her effluence - the Nile River inundation. Her lair was thought to be in the Ethiopian highlands and is, in fact, the location of the source of the Nile. Lake Tana was associated with Maut in antiquity and is still considered a holy lake surrounded by many ancient monasteries. There is a legend that the Holy family stayed near this lake during their sojourn in Egypt and a monastery there bears the name of the Virgin Mary.
Maut was the ancient Egyptian word for mother (mwt) and was depicted as a vulture, and in later centuries, a cobra or cow. Her temple at Karnak was built next to a sacred lake which was fed by an artesian spring and shaped like a crescent moon. She was considered to be the creator deity existing since primeval times and was called the Great Lady of Heaven and the Queen of the Gods. Green trees and flowering shrubs were her lovely adornments; a stark contrast to the brown sand and rocks of the surrounding desert. Hadera is the South Semitic word for feminine adornments and cognate to many Sabean words for dwelling, courtyard, and central water plaza. Hadhramaut could mean “lovely embellishments of the Great Mother Maut” and may describe the oases associated with artesian water sources. The Greek Hydra (water serpent) may be derived from Hadhra and may also be the root of hydrology; the study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water.
The connectivity of all water systems below dry land seems to have been a universal concept shared by the ancients. A majority of these waters was bitter (miryam) and a smaller portion was flowing (mayim). The sweet water was associated with the milk of the Goddess Mother and gave life to the plants and animals of the earth. Bitter seawater was the amniotic fluid that birthed the sun each day but was poisonous to drink. Tidal contractions pushed the sun through the birth canal until his cap crowned on the horizon. The lair of the Great Mother in Northern Israel was beneath the Hermon and was the source of the life-giving waters of the Kinneret and Jordan River. The influx of patriarchal tribes into the Levant demonized the Goddess most likely because of conflict over access to water for grazing flocks of goats and sheep. She remained, however, associated with water sources although relegated to a subservient position. In regions of water scarcity, the Great Mother became synonymous with sin and the fall of man from God’s grace.
Perhaps the earliest representation of the Goddess Mother can be found in the Anatolian temple at Catal Huyuk. Her name is not known but her lair must be under the twin mountain peaks of Hasan Dag and her sacred lake may have been the Black Sea. During the peak of the last interglacial period, the water of the Black Sea was much less saline because it is virtually isolated from the world’s oceans. Many estuaries that line the shores were home to ancient peoples but are now covered with rising sea levels. The economy of Catal Huyuk was based on obsidian trade created from ancient eruptions of Hasan Dag. Projectile points from this region have been found as far away as Jericho. The Goddess Mother may have traveled via the obsidian trade routes much as she did with the incense trade.
The depiction of the goddess of Catal Huyuk is also found throughout Europe and in the Pictish culture as well as on mountains in Peru. Her flipper-like arms and legs attest to her aquatic environment. The spiral superimposed on her umbilicas is the source of life on earth and reflects the spiral snake of the cosmos. Her head is a representation of the full moon which has always been associated with the menstrual cycle. The lace that covers her body is more difficult to discern but perhaps it has something to do with her lair. The similarity of wall paintings at Catal Huyuk to the cave paintings at Lascaux has been noted by archaeologists. The lace could represent moonmilk - a white, creamy substance found inside caves. It is similar to other deposits, but its unique quality is that it does not harden or turn to stone. It is plausible to conclude that caves were thought by the ancients to be the chthonic home of the hydrologic goddess and that she lactates moonmilk to sustain the plants and animals of the earth. Galaxy, lace and lactate, are all derived from the same root word lacht or *glact.
We know the name of the European hydrologic goddess; Melusine. She inhabits the locals of sweet water wells and springs. Alternatively, she is called a mermaid or the Dragon Princess and legends say she is half human and half dragon/fish/snake. The lineage of Merovingian kings claim her as progenitress and gave them their right to rule. The etymology of her name is disputed but may be related to melit which means sweet and is also related to the Greek word for honey. The Merovingian line is choc full of legends that pass for history and so nothing more can be learned about the Serpent/Dragon Goddess that can be trusted. Also, the etymology of the word dragon is not at all helpful. It is supposedly from a Greek word that means good eyesight and has no known cognates which is extremely unusual.