The origin of the Holy Ghost

File:VarsaviaPalazzo4VentiVento1.jpgNotus (Greek Νότος, Nótos) was the Greek god of the south wind. He was associated with the desiccating hot wind of the rise of Sirius after midsummer, was thought to bring the storms of late summer and autumn, and was feared as a destroyer of crops. 

I recently wrote that the idea of angels comes from a time when people worshiped planets as gods. Read my post to see why I claim the angels were planets.  People were uneducated, but observant. Planets could be observed, but their motion was mysterious.

Starting with the assumption that current world religious beliefs and customs evolved from earlier beliefs and sparked by a lingering curiosity from childhood, I made a new discovery tonight, one I’ve not heard before.

Like the planets wandering in the sky, people experienced the winds, and these were mysterious.

Historical documents show that people once thought the wind was caused by the movement of spirits or gods such as the Anemoi.

In addition to being the light of the world, the bringer of light, and the Father of life on earth, God (also known as the Sun) creates the wind we feel.

The winds, like the sun, were important. They could help one in battle, for example. Or they could turn against you, destroy crops, bring pests, sand storms, etc.

World English Bible
Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and Yahweh brought an east wind on the land all that day, and all the night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.

Young’s Literal Translation
And Moses stretcheth out his rod against the land of Egypt, and Jehovah hath led an east wind over the land all that day, and all the night; the morning hath been, and the east wind hath lifted up the locust.

People did not understand that the sun caused the wind due to atmospheric pressure changes, but they were correct about the wind’s connection with the sun.

What wrapped this up for me was a discovery I made in when reading about the Holy Spirit in John 3:8.

World English Bible
The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Young’s Literal Translation
the Spirit where he willeth doth blow, and his voice thou dost hear, but thou hast not known whence he cometh, and whither he goeth; thus is every one who hath been born of the Spirit.’

Bingo! Notice the older actual translation of the bible shows that the spirit IS the wind!

This is the equivalent of a religious transitional fossil. Yes, you may say, of course, the word “spirit” meant “wind” back then, but today, we have no such connection, so general awareness of this fact.  This is how ideas take on a life of their own. This is where one “species” becomes another. What was once the wind spirit, becomes something entirely new in translation.

Young’s Literal Translation is a translation of the Bible into English, published in 1862. … The Literal Translation is unusual in that, as the name implies, it is a strictly literal translation of the original Hebrew and Greek texts. – wiki

Amazing. The father (the sun) and the holy spirit (wind) were all mysterious earthly experiences.

Reading what the Holy Ghost does and how that compares to the supposed actions of the wind gods, the Holy Spirit  seems to be a unification of various wind gods, a nod to people absorbed by Christianity who believed in gods like  Zephyrus. But this still doesn’t feel quite right, it doesn’t explain it well enough.

Zephyrus & Hyacinthus | Athenian red-figure kylix C5th B.C. | Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Zephyrus & Hyacinthus, Athenian red-figure
kylix C5th B.C., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


Ezekiel 37:8-10 [8] I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. [9] Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’ “

Ah ha! Now I get the connection. Breath is life! This is another reason for early people to believe the godlike powers of the winds.  When a person dies, his final breath was seen to leave. This observation is a reasonable origin for the idea that people have immortal immaterial essences, souls which can become ghosts that roaming the earth for a time.

World English Bible
I will lay sinews on you, and will bring up flesh on you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am Yahweh.

Young’s Literal Translation
and I have given on you sinews, and cause flesh to come up upon you, and covered you over with skin, and given in you a spirit, and ye have lived, and ye have known that I am Jehovah.’

Realizing that “spirit” is just another word for “breath” makes a lot of other things click into place.

World English Bible
Then he said to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and tell the wind, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Come from the four winds, breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.

Young’s Literal Translation
And He saith unto me: ‘Prophesy unto the Spirit, prophesy, son of man, and thou hast said unto the Spirit: Thus said the Lord Jehovah: From the four winds come in, O Spirit, and breathe on these slain, and they do live.’

Finally, I understand the origin of the Holy Spirit being in someone.  The wind from your breath was associated with life, and since life is mysterious, this spirit wind of life was a gift from god. With childlike simplicity the primal awe of existence and the fear of mortality in this wind-spirit connection rings true. Who would not believe in spirits when they feel the wind every day?

World English Bible
Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? You are not your own,

Young’s Literal Translation
Have ye not known that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own,

Believe it or discard and ridicule this explanation as you must, but now I finally know, to my own satisfaction, … which way the wind blows.


  1. The definition of “expire” is to run out, no longer valid, or to die.

    The etymology of “expire” is:

    c.1400, “to die,” from M.Fr. expirer (12c.) “expire, elapse,” from L. expirare/exspirare “breathe out, breathe one’s last, die,” from ex- “out” (see ex-) + spirare “to breathe” (see spirit).

    The source [etymology online] continues:

    “Die” is the older sense in English; that of “breathe out” is first attested 1580s. Of laws, patents, treaties, etc., mid-15c. Related: Expired; expiring.


    When a person dies or expires he muscles relax and his/her last breath escapes. Thus, it was/is thought, as anthropologist have long noted among many peoples, that the breath was/is something akin to the soul or spirit.

    But, should we take this absolutely literally? Maybe a dying person’s last breath was a nice representation of what was called “soul” or “spirit”?


  2. I encourage you to investigate two HEBREW words for spirit and breath (ruwach & nĕshamah) for it literally does mean breath or wind. Also, note in Genesis 2:7 where “nĕshamah” or breath is used it is speaking of the breath/spirit of God being breathed into Adam. Interestingly enough, its root word (nasham) means to pant or breath heavily as a woman giving birth. Not to say that God is woman or man, but to imply life, the first earthly life, was given through God’s Spirit via the breath of God. And, yeah, your study was on such a concept was good. EVERY breath we take in is in a way the life giving breath/wind/spirit of God. Without it we would cease to exist. BUT…your investigation falls short when you fail to explain why God so generously and lovingly pours out his breath in creating and maintaining humans who often deny his existence. Why breathe life or spirit into them? Perhaps, just maybe, it IS all about love and mercy. Just maybe, call me crazy, when Jesus (Yeshua – salvation) gave up his Spirit on the cross and breathed his last (Luke 23:46) it was so we could take in the eternal breath/spirit/life that his death & resurrection would then offer us. But…I’m just sayin’…maybe…

    Oh, and as for our souls becoming ghost and roaming the earth…that is a whole ‘nother ball game! 🙂


    1. Thanks much for the confirmation about the word origin.

      Respectfully, the idea about life being the product of God’s breath you are expressing is a few thousand years old. I think it formed because people did not yet have the tools to understand the purpose of respiration. I don’t believe a person’s breath is a magical spirit force given by a god.

      Breathing is now understood to be a mechanical process for the transport of oxygen from air outside an organism to the cells within tissues, and the transport of carbon dioxide in the opposite direction.

      “Love is like Oxygen, you get too much you get too high, not enough and you’re going to die. Love gets you high.” – Sweet.


  3. Dear Xeno, “Modern people”? What is that? The people alive today? All of them?

    Among the traditional Hopi, as one example, they talk about “hiquwsi” or “breath of life” also – just like us “moderns”. And, the traditional Hopi say it escapes the body through the mouth at death – just as “moderns”.

    Repeat: among “traditional” Hopi beliefs are just like us “moderns.” They didn’t or don’t (for those modern-traditional Hopi alive today) need any in depth study of physiological processes to understand this.

    However, during traditional funeral practices, the Hopi place offerings of food and vessels of water in the grave saying or implying to the deceased: “You are no longer a Hopi, you are changed [grown into] a katcina, you are Cloud [O’mauwu]. You are to eat once of this food, i.e. accept this food offering, and when you go yonder, you are tell the chiefs [i.e. of the 6 directions] to hasten to bring the rain clouds here.”

    Thus, in the process of leaving the corpse, the “breath body” undergoes a metamorphosis into Katsina or Cloud.

    But, it is on the fourth day, the deceased Hopi makes the journey to “Maski,” land or home of the dead, or the “Skeleton House,” but more accurately translated as “home of our ancestor’s spirits.”

    Early in the morning of the fourth day – not immediately after the last expiration – “according to Hopi belief, the ‘breath life’ … of the dead person rise from the grave, partakes of the ‘breath’ of the food, mounts the ‘breath’ of the single black prayer-stick, and then travels westward along the ‘road’ to the house of the dead, …”


    So, what is the “modern” account of death? Of the soul? Of the journey after one physically dies?

    Is the “seat of the ‘soul'” the alveolus of the lungs? And, not the pineal gland as imagined by Descartes?

    Is the “soul” or “spirit” composed of gases of exhalation or inhalation? They’re different you know.

    By your line of thought you’re taking away an important traditions among some of us “moderns” reducing everything down to talking about the breath and the last one at that.

    [Source on the Hopi: T.J. Ferguson, Kurt E. Dongoske, Legh J. Kuwanwisiwma, Hopi Perspectives on Southwestern Mortuary Studies pp 9-
    Ancient Burial Practices in the American Southwest: Archaeology, Physical Anthropology, and Native American Perspectives, Douglas R. Mitchell, Judy L. Brunson-Hadley, Dorothy Lippert (eds.) UNM Press, 2004 pp 9-25]

    A warning is advised:

    According to the Hopi beliefs, “A man who thinks of the dead or of the future life instead of being concerned with worldly activities is thereby bringing about his own death. …”

    So, be careful!


    1. The pyramids on different continents, common myths, … It all points to what we know to be true by tracing mitochondrial DNA, that all nations can be traced back to a time when we were all together. An afterlife would be great. The idea has been around for a long time. I think it is tied to the observation that we lie down and go away every night, but we are born again every day when we wake up. By extrapolation the assumption is born that we will wake up into a different world or body when we lie down to die.


  4. Xeno, the fact that there are pyramids on different continents doesn’t mean they all had the same origin. But, that was a theory from the 19th century. Some anthropologists, at the time for example, thought the all cultures developed pyramids from the influence, in some creative fashion or other, from Egypt. That Egyptocentric theory and similar theories has long since been disproved in numerous ways.

    As for common myths, as of the Joseph Campbell variety? Campbell is fine writer and entertaining, but his work doesn’t place well within scholarly disciplines. It’s fun to think of similarities, but that’s all it is: food for thought. Claude Levi-Srauss kind of did the same thing when he tried to understand the structure of the human mind as polar opposites. And, everywhere he looked, in all the folktales and myths, he found the structure he was looking for. His work was far more successful within scholarly circles than Campbell’s, but even structuralism has had its day.

    About mitochondrial DNA, as in “Mitochondrial Eve”? Besides the fact that there has never been a single “Eve,” if she lived, so it it is thought, 200,000 years ago, you’d have to ignore all the fossil record that go much further back in time. The work on mitchondrial DNA is obviously not finished at this point in time, it seems to me. Wiki’s “Mitochondrial DNA” has an article on this (As a point aside it mentions Milford Wolpoff, who I met once.)

    Yes, you’re correct: Anthropologists thought about the origins of an after life a long time ago. They had the idea that notion of flying, of an after life, etc. arose from dreams, when it appears we actually do seem to fly and meet our ancestors etc. And, that would lead to thoughts of “souls,” “spirits,” “after life,” and so on. But, why should there be a common origin?

    The human brain hasn’t changed much in the last 50,000 years or more. We aren’t much smarter than our distant ancestors, when it comes to thinking, making sense of the world. Sure, technology has advanced and we know more about the physical world, but the ability to use our cognitive processes hasn’t changed. Give our ancestors some credit for being creative, imaginative, inventive and perhaps knowing about some things that we, today, don’t value, or even dismiss, ignore or ridicule.


    1. Our ancestors were flat out wrong about astronomy and biology… But they were highly inventive, observant and utilitarian.

      As I am overly fond of telling, I am descended from William the Conqueror’s fourth son, King Henry I of England who was named “Beauclerc” (fine scholar). From the reading I’ve done, it seems to me that within each kingdom, the subjects, those who subjected, were highly conformist to the views of the local superstitious king-god (whose ideas came from his story tellers, priests, etc.)

      The medicine man/woman adapted known stories to fit the times. This person was smart enough to tell stories favorable to the local thug, in exchange for protection. Most people worked hard to pay taxes and have enough left over.

      We see this “favoring the local ruler with some good BS” theme in both Gilgamesh and Flavius Josephus. The same thing is still going on in corporation kings that are running the world.


  5. I followed the link to Henry I “Beauclerc,” who died in 1135, Duke of Normandy and King of England, your ancestor, and the brother of William II, “Rufus”, also King of England. How did that work? Rufus died then your ancestor took over as king?

    You ought to finish the family history to the present day and post it. I’m sure there’s a lot of stories to tell in all that history. My grandfather on my father’s side attempted to do that once and discovered that one of our supposed ancestors, who was Irish, was a stowaway on one of the voyages of the Mayflower to the Americas. So, I was told. (The other side of the family descended from pirates, so the story goes! But, there’s a controversy. It may have been indigenous locals who pirated the Europeans; or European gypsies who merely conned other Europeans – it depends on who you ask, when you ask it!)

    But, Xeno, when you write about “kingdoms” are you talking about English kingdoms? The subjects during the reign of a particular king really didn’t have much choice, when faced with either regarding the king as divine and pay tribute or die or worse. The “divine right of kings” was the reason, so it was thought then, a king could rule. It was supported by the Christian Church, a powerful institution back then, the rest of the royalty and the nobility, as well as the king’s military …

    When you talk about medicine men and women are you referring to the physicians of the king, royalty and nobility? There was a world of difference between the feudal lords and the royal courts and the rest of the population, most of whom were peasants or serfs, which means they were perhaps one step removed from slaves (at least in some parts of Europe, I’m not so sure how far they were removed from complete servitude in England – but it got progressively worse over time in many regions).

    Among the serfs and peasants in England and much of Europe there were the wise men and women, who were healers. But, unlike the physicians of the royal courts, the wise people were at times subjected to torture and fire for their practices, which may be traced to pre-Christian traditions, i.e. pagan beliefs.

    But, to say “pagan” means only “village.” It is not a homogeneous practice, but a hodgepodge of many beliefs and practices handed down through word of mouth. It was quite pragmatic really, if something worked, the wise people used it and taught it to their students (passed it on to their apprentices). This is how a lot herbal lore has come down to us today (that is, the herbal knowledge that wasn’t confiscated and reduce to the “active ingredient” by early pharmaceutical companies).

    After decades of condemnation and torture it was thought that the tradition of the wise people was all but lost in Western Europe, but not quite so. A French anthropologist (I don’t have her name now) wrote an ethnography of the wisewomen in certain villages in modern France. Without fanfare and publicity, acknowledged with some consternation among local villagers these people carry a tradition that’s perhaps 1000s of years old.

    I don’t really understand this paragraph: “The medicine man/woman adapted known stories to fit the time … worked hard to pay taxes and have enough left over.”

    If you’re speaking of medicine men, the way it’s commonly meant, as the healers in “traditional” societies, say in the Americas, Africa, Siberia, etc., then you lost me. They didn’t pay taxes, make up stories etc.

    I don’t understand why you jumped all the way back to Flavius Josephus, a historian or chronicler who lived in the first century (37 to 100 A.D.) in the entirely different Roman world. And, then you jump even further back in time to Gilgamesh to 2500 B.C., an altogether different world.


    1. Yeah, well, I don’t like “butt-kissing” theories. We do too much of that in our every day lives already. I want to see and “ass-kicking” theory of the common people prevail. 🙂


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