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Native Peoples Native American religions are the spiritual practices of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.  Traditional Native American ceremonial ways can vary widely, being based on the differing histories and beliefs of individual tribes, clans and bands.

Early European explorers described individual Native American tribes and even small bands as each having their own religious practices.  Theology may be monotheistic, polytheistic, henotheistic, animistic, or some combination thereof.  Traditional beliefs are usually passed down in the forms of oral histories, stories, allegories and principles, and rely on face to face teaching in one's family and community.

Nautilus Shell The nautilus is an oceanic marine mollusc of the cephalopod family Nautilidae, and is the sole extant family of the superfamily Nautilaceae, and of its smaller but near equal suborder, Nautilina.  It comprises six living species in two genera, the type of which is the genus Nautilus.  Though it more specifically refers to species Nautilus pompilius, the name chambered nautilus is also used for any of the Nautilidae.

The word nautilus originally referred to the paper nautiluses of the genus Argonauta, which are actually octopuses.  The word nautílos literally means "sailor", as paper nautiluses were thought to use two of their arms as sails.

Nautilidae, both extant and extinct, are characterised by involute or more or less convolute shells that are generally smooth, with compressed or depressed whorl sections, straight to sinuous sutures, and a tubular, generally central siphuncle.  Having survived relatively unchanged for hundreds of millions of years, nautiluses represent the only living members of the subclass nautiloidea, and are often considered "living fossils".

It is also considered a symbol of strength since this shell can withstand very high pressure, which is why the Nautilus is the only shell that managed to survive past the dinosaur era.  The first and oldest fossil of Chambered Nautilus is displayed at the Philippine National Museum.

Nazar A nazar (Turkish: nazar boncugu, Old Turkish: gökçe munçuk) meaning ‘blue bead’ is an eye-shaped amulet believed to protect against the Evil Eye.  Hindi, Urdu and Persians seem to have borrowed the term.  In Turkey, it is known by the name nazar boncugu.  See also Evil Eye.

In Persian folklore, it is called a 'cheshm nazar' or 'nazar ghorboni'.  In Urdu, it is also called ‘nazar’.

Nazca Lines The Nazca Lines are a collection of giant geoglyphs -- designs or motifs etched into the ground -- located in the Peruvian coastal plain about 250 miles (400 kilometres) south of Lima, Peru.  Created by the ancient Nazca culture in South America, and depicting various plants, animals, and shapes, the 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines can only be fully appreciated when viewed from the air given their massive size.  Despite having been studied for over 80 years, the geoglyphs -- which were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 -- are still a mystery to researchers

There are three basic types of Nazca Lines: straight lines, geometric designs and pictorial representations.  There are more than 800 straight lines on the coastal plain, some of which are 30 miles (48 km) long.  Additionally, there are over 300 geometric designs, which include basic shapes such as triangles, rectangles, and trapezoids, as well as spirals, arrows, zig-zags and wavy lines.

Nebu Nebu is the Egyptian symbol for gold.  It depicts a golden collar with the ends hanging off the sides and seven spines dangling from the middle.

Ancient Egyptians believed that gold was an indestructible and heavenly metal.  The sun god, Ra, was often referred to as a mountain of gold.  The Royal Tomb, in fact, is known as the 'House of Gold'.&nbbsp; The Pharaohs of the Old Kingdom were called the 'Golden Horus'.

Necronomicon This symbol, called the Necronomicon gate, is a faux sigil usually found on the cover of an edition of the legendary and quite fake “Necronomicon,” a falsified grimoire based on the work of horror fiction writer H P Lovecraft and his followers.  It was first mentioned in Lovecraft's 1924 CE short story The Hound, written in 1922, though its purported author, the "Mad Arab" Abdul Alhazred, had been quoted a year earlier in Lovecraft's The Nameless City.  Among other things, the work contains an account of the 'Old Ones', their history, and the means for summoning them.

Other authors such as August Derleth and Clark Ashton Smith also cited it in their works; Lovecraft approved, believing such common allusions built up "a background of evil verisimilitude".  Many readers have believed it to be a real work, with booksellers and librarians receiving many requests for it; pranksters have listed it in rare book catalogues, and a student smuggled a card for it into the Yale University Library's card catalogue.

Capitalising on the notoriety of the fictional volume, real-life publishers have printed many books entitled Necronomicon since Lovecraft's death.

Nekhakha See Crook & Flail.

Nekhbet In Egyptian mythology, Nekhbet was an early predynastic local goddess and the patron of the city of Nekheb (her name means 'of Nekheb').  Eventually, she was to become the patron of Upper Egypt and one of the two patron deities for the whole of Ancient Egypt upon its unification.

Egypt's oldest oracle was the shrine of Nekhbet at Nekheb, the original necropolis or city of the dead.  It was the companion city to Nekhen, the religious and political capital of Upper Egypt at the end of the Predynastic period (c. 3200 - 3100 BCE) and probably, during the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3100 - 2686 BCE).  The original settlement on the Nekhen site dates from Naqada I or the late Badarian cultures.

The priestesses of Nekhbet were called muu (mothers) and wore robes of Egyptian vulture feathers.  Nekhbet, the tutelary deity of Upper Egypt, and her Lower Egyptian counterpart Wadjet often appeared together as the 'Two Ladies'.  One of the titles of each ruler was the Nebty name, which began with the hieroglyphs for [she] of the Two Ladies.

Nemes The Nemes is the striped headcloth worn by pharaohs in ancient Egypt.  It covered the whole crown, back of the head and the nape of the neck (sometimes extending a short way down the back) and had lappets (two large flaps which hung down behind the ears and in front of both shoulders).  It was sometimes combined with the Pschent (double crown), as seen on the statues of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel.

The earliest depiction of the Nemes, along with a Uraeus, is the ivory label of Den from the 1st Dynasty.  It is not a crown in itself, but nevertheless symbolises the pharaoh's power.  The image to the right shows the golden mask from the mummy of Tutankhamun wearing the Nemes headdress.

Neo-Nazi Triskele The Neo-Nazi triskele is a symbol resembling a three-armed swastika, used by several “Christian” white supremacy organisations and other hate groups.  The arms are actually numerals, “777”, numbers derived from the Book of Revelation symbolising triumph over the Antichrist.

Nephthys Nephthys was a goddess in ancient Egyptian religion.  A member of the Great Ennead of Heliopolis in Egyptian mythology, she was a daughter of Nut and Geb.  Nephthys was typically paired with her sister Isis in funerary rites because of their role as protectors of the mummy and the god Osiris, and as the sister and wife of Set.

In her funerary role, Nephthys was often depicted as a kite, or as a woman with falcon wings, usually outstretched as a symbol of protection.  Her association with the kite, or the Egyptian hawk, (and its piercing, mournful cries) evidently reminded the ancient Egyptians of the lamentations usually offered for the dead by wailing women.  In this capacity, it is easy to see how she could be associated with death and putrefaction in the Pyramid Texts.

Neptune Neptune is the eighth and farthest known planet from the Sun in our solar system.  It is the fourth largest planet by diameter, the third most massive planet, and the densest giant planet.  Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth and is slightly more massive than its near twin Uranus, which is 15 times the mass of Earth and slightly larger than Neptune.

In Roman mythology, Neptune was known as the god of the sea; his Greek equivalent was Poseidon.  He was the brother of Jupiter, Pluto and Juno.  Neptune carried a trident, which had three prongs, and rode a dolphin or a horse.  When the sea is rough enough to show white tops to the waves, these are called 'sea horses'.

It seems strange that Neptune was not a more important god since the Roman Empire was based around the Mediterranean Sea.  However, the Romans were poor sailors, so when Julius Caesar invaded Britain it was considered an astounding feat, even though he was simply crossing the English Channel.

Neptune was also the god of earthquakes, which is why he was known as the Earth shaker.  In addition, he was the god of horses and horseracing.  The Romans loved to watch horseracing and had great race tracks for chariot racing such as the Circus Maximus, the ruins of which can still be seen in Rome today.

In astrology, Neptune is the ruler of Pisces.

Nidstang Nidstang literally means 'curse pole'.  The Nidstang is an ancient Scandinavian custom of formally cursing or hexing someone.  A wooden pole or stake was driven into the ground, then Runes were carved on the pole with the appropriate curse or insult.  Finally, a horse's head or carcass was placed on top of the pole facing in the direction one wished to send the curse.

The pole channelled the destructive forces of Hela/Hel, the Norse goddess of death, and daughter of Loki.  These forces were carried up the pole and projected through the horse's skull, while the runes carved on the pole defined the character and target of the destructive forces.

Nowadays, the Nidstang is more likely to be virtual, i.e. an internet curse accompanied by a virtual horse's head.

Nile Lotus The lotus flower is sacred in the Hindu, Buddhist, and Egyptian religions.  The Nile Lotus, although frequently depicted in Egyptian art, is not really an actual lotus, but a variety of water lily which rises from the muddy waters to blossom making it a symbol of purity and resurrection.  The Egyptian Lotus is mildly narcotic, and both the blue and white varieties were used in medicinal preparations.

In mathematics, the lotus hieroglyph symbolises the number one thousand -- see Egyptian Hieroglyphs.  In Egyptian mythology the lotus was associated with the Sun, because it bloomed by day, and closed by night.  The lotus was even believed to have given birth to the Sun and figures in a number of Egyptian creation stories.  It is particularly associated with the resurrected god Osiris.  See also Lotus Padme.

Nine Worlds The Nine Worlds in Norse mythology are the homelands of the various types of beings found in the pre-Christian world view of the Norse and other Germanic peoples.  These worlds are held in the branches and roots of the world tree Yggdrasil.

The Nine Worlds are: Midgard, the world of humanity; Asgard, the world of the Aesir tribe of gods and goddesses; Vanaheim, the world of the Vanir tribe of gods and goddesses; Jotunheim, the world of the giants; Niflheim, the primordial world of ice; Muspelheim, the primordial world of Fire; Alfheim, the world of the elves; Svartalfheim, the world of the dwarves; Hel, the world of the eponymous goddess Hel and the dead.

Midgard (the world of humanity) is surrounded by the Ocean, the abode of the world serpent Jormungandr.

Nishan Sahib The Nishan Sahib (the word, Nishan means symbol) is a Sikh triangular flag made of cotton or silk cloth, with a tassel at its end.  The flag is hoisted on a tall flagpole, outside most Gurdwaras (temples).  The flagpole itself, covered with fabric, ends with a two-edged dagger (Khanda) on top.

The emblem on the flag is also known as Khanda, which depicts a double-edged sword called a khanda in the centre circled by a chakkar and flanked by two single-edged swords, or Kirpans.

The banner, which has been in use for more than four hundred years, is present at all Sikh ceremonies and processions, and special rituals are enacted when it is raised and lowered.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is an intergovernmental military alliance between several North American and European countries based on the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949.  NATO constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.  Three NATO members (the United States (US), France, and the United Kingdom (UK)) are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and are officially nuclear-weapon states.  NATO headquarters is located in Haren, Brussels, Belgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons, Belgium.

NATO is an alliance consisting of 29 independent member countries across North America and Europe -- since its founding, the admission of new member states has increased the alliance from the original 12 countries to 29.  The most recent member state to be added to NATO is Montenegro in June 2017.  NATO currently recognises Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia and Ukraine as aspiring members.  An additional 21 countries participate in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalised dialogue programs.  The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the global total.  Members' defence spending is supposed to amount to at least 2% of GDP by 2024.

NATO was little more than a political association until the Korean War roused the organisation's member states, when an integrated military structure was built up under the direction of two US Supreme Commanders.  The course of the Cold War led to a rivalry with nations of the Warsaw Pact, that formed in 1955.  Doubts over the strength of the relationship between the European states and the US ebbed and flowed, along with doubts over the credibility of the NATO defence against a prospective Soviet invasion -- doubts that led to the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of France from NATO's military structure in 1966 for 30 years.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany in 1989, the organisation became involved in the breakup of Yugoslavia, and conducted its first military interventions in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995 and later Yugoslavia in 1999.  Politically, the organisation sought better relations with former Warsaw Pact countries, several of which joined the alliance in 1999 and 2004.

Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, requiring member states to come to the aid of any member state subject to an armed attack, was invoked for the first and only time after the September 11 attacks, after which troops were deployed to Afghanistan under the NATO-led ISAF.  The organisation has operated a range of additional roles since then, including sending trainers to Iraq, assisting in counter-piracy operations and in 2011 enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1973.  The less potent Article 4, which merely invokes consultation among NATO members, has been invoked five times: by Turkey in 2003 over the Iraq War; twice in 2012 by Turkey over the Syrian Civil War, after the downing of an unarmed Turkish F-4 reconnaissance jet, and after a mortar was fired at Turkey from Syria; in 2014 by Poland, following the Russian intervention in Crimea; and again by Turkey in 2015 after threats by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to its territorial integrity.

Nut Usually depicted nude, her body made of stars arching over the world, Nut (also known by various other transcriptions such as Nuit) is the Egyptian goddess of the sky who swallowed the Sun each evening and gave birth to it each morning.  She was the personification of the sky and the heavens.

In one myth, Nut gives birth to the Sun god daily; he passes over her body during the day before being swallowed at night, only to be reborn the following morning.  In another myth, Ra used the Atet (or Matet) boat to travel across her body until noon and then used the Sektet boat until sunset.

Nut was the daughter of Shu and Tefnut and the granddaughter of the creator god (Atum or Ra).  Geb the Earth god was her husband and brother.  However, she could also be said to be the mother of Ra, as the Coffin Texts refer to her as 'she of the braided hair who bore the gods'.

Her grandfather, Ra, was the second to rule the world, according to the reign of the gods.  He was a strong ruler but he feared anyone taking his throne, so when he discovered that Nut was to have children, he was furious.  He decreed, "Nut shall not give birth any day of the year."  At that time, a year consisted of 360 days.  Nut spoke to Thoth, the god of wisdom, who devised a plan.

Thoth gambled with Khonsu, a god of the Moon, whose light rivalled that of Ra's.  Every time Khonsu lost, he had to forfeit some of his moonlight.  Khonsu lost so many times that Thoth had enough moonlight to make 5 extra days.  Since these days were not part of the year, Nut could safely give birth to her children, of which she had five: Osiris, a future ruler of the gods and then god of the dead, Horus the Elder, god of war, Set, god of evil and wastelands, Isis, goddess of magic, and Nephthys, goddess of water.  When Ra discovered this trickery he was furious, so much so that he separated Nut from her husband Geb for eternity.

In Thelemic practice, Nut revealed herself to the Ritual Magician Aleister Crowley (1875 - 1947) in her manifestation as Nuit (see Aleister Crowley's Book of the Law -- Liber al vel Legis).

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