T H E H O P I P R O P H E S Y R O C K

http://www.viewzone.com/hopi.prophecy.html

by Johnny Pious

The approaching millennium has been an inspiration to many groups and individuals who are seeking a better understanding of human civilization. This arbitrary numeric change is being used as an excuse to re-evaluate our relationship to the Creator and to the Earth. Many people have started reading scriptures and the prophetic works of Nostradamus, the Kabalah and the biblical Book of Revelations, seeking clues to the future and warnings of things to come.

While the old books contain much wisdom, their interpretation in these modern times is often subject to uncertainty and even error. The meanings of the past have, in many cases, been lost by the extinction of the secret cults and esoteric societies that first put pen to paper.

In the February issue of ViewZone Magazine, we carried a story of an Alaskan Prophesy. This story spoke of a special age-- the era of the "fifth hoop"-- that was to coincide with the re-establishment of the indigenous peoples as overseers of the planetary environment and culture. In this revelation, the "sacred tablets" of the races were mentioned. One of these sacred tablets resides on the Hopi Indian Reservation in northeast Arizona and is called "The Hopi Life Plan."

The picture above shows the petroglyph in enhanced form, as it appeared to LaVan Martineau on his visit to the Hopi Reservation in the late 1960s. Out of respect for the Hopi, we have not shown to actual stone as it appears today.

Although this petroglyph was unguarded for hundreds of years, it is now carefully protected by Hopi elders. Access to Hopi lands and the recent disputes with neighboring tribes and governmental agencies have restricted these cultural icons to the religious leaders of the Hopi. The stone, also called the "Hopi Prophesy Stone," is now hidden from the view of cameras and non-Hopi visitors. In the late 1960's, a remarkable man visited Hopiland and made an extensive survey of this petroglyph. LaVan Martineau copied and translated the strange marks and revealed a message that has special meaning to Native Americans and all people of our planet-- especially during the impending new cycle.

The "Hopi Plan of Life" is described by the elders of the Hopi Hotevilla faction as follows:

When the Hopi first arrived upon this land the Creator was the only one living here at the time. When the Hopi met the Creator here, they asked him to be their leader. The Creator refused and said that there were many evil intentions in their hearts that they must first fulfill before he could be their leader. Those who managed to survive and live through all their evil intentions would meet the Creator after all was over and he would then be their leader. The Creator is therefore the 'first' and the 'last' because of this meeting arrangement. One of the many instructions given to the Hopis by the Creator at this time was that they should migrate all over this continent and, while doing so, they should leave their picture writing and clan symbols upon the rocks near their ruins as a sign that the Hopis were the first and were rightfully holding this entire continent in trust for the Creator. In regard to this they were told by the Creator that a time would come when another race would come upon this land and claim it all, but that these Hopi writings upon the rocks would justly retain and hold the ownership of this land by the Hopi in trust for the Creator.

LaVan Martineau was raised by Native Americans as a child and was fluent in the sign language used by many tribes. A stint in the military exposed him to the science of crypanalysis, the study of codes and symbols, and later enabled him to decipher the hidden meanings of American petroglyphs. In his book, The Rocks Begin To Speak, Martineau gives the following interpretation of "The Hopi Life Plan," symbol by symbol. Symbol A represents the Creator pointing down close to the ground from where the Hopi claim to have come. The short vertical lines near the Creator's hand B thus represent the Hopi people. The Creator is holding in his left hand "the life plan" or "trail" C upon which the Hopi are to embark. Near this hand is a circle D which represents "holding" of the entire continent in trust for the Creator, as he had instructed. (Since this photograph was taken, viewers of this panel have added a bow to the right hand of the Creator which was not apparent when Martineau surveyed the carving.)

Point E on the trail or life plan represents a time when it was predicted by the Creator that the Hopi would digress from the true path given to them and pursue another way. The square F is said to represent Oraibi, and the line or path G coming down from the square represents the false path of the wicked Oraibi-- the Hopi who are always trying to outdo and hold themselves above others, without the help of God. (This line is above the true path.)

The figures H standing upon the false path represent the wicked themselves. Older Hopi claim that heads have recently been added to these symbols, for they remember a time when no heads existed on these figures. The absence of heads would represent the punishment or death that the wicked must undergo as a result of following the false path.

The two zigzag lines I stemming from the false path represent the careless and different paths to permanent destruction pursued by the wicked. Each zigzag is the pursuit of a careless and wicked intention that will eventually come to a dead end when all evil intentions have been exhausted. This "dead end" is shown by the symbol turning around or sagging down J. The upper zigzag line has recently been scratched and marred to such an extent that is resembles a fourth figure, which the Hopi say was not there originally. Whether it was or was not does not seriously affect this translation.

Symbol K is the true path of everlasting life, symbol L, which is shown at four points along this true path. The incorporation of the symbol old age (a cane) with life (a branching corn leaf) represents everlasting life.

This true path to everlasting life is bisected at three different points by three half circles M, which might have been complete circles at one time. (This panel has been scratched over so many times that it is often difficult to distinguish the correct form of these symbols). The Hopi say that they are gourds which are shaken, thus representing three great wars or shakings that will transpire before the everlasting life is reached. The last circle represents the "final war" of purification in which all evil will be destroyed.

At point N on this panel the false path connects with an everlasting life symbol, showing that some may return to the true path and to everlasting life. The two zigzag lines which extend beyond this point of possible return to the path of everlasting life thus truly indicate permanent destruction, since the wicked have gone beyond this point of no return. Symbol O, at the end of the path is the great spirit holding an everlasting life symbol in his hand. He is shown waiting here at the end of the trail just as he was shown at the beginning of it. For this reason he is called the first and the last.

Symbol P is difficult to distinguish, again because of the panel having been repeatedly scratched instead of chalked (for photographing). It more closely resembles three dots, but the Hopi claim it is a Catholic cross added to the panel after a bad experience with the Catholics in the seventeenth century. This symbol was placed there by the Creator's instructions, to show that the Hopi way and the Catholic way should not combine.

 

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Chosen People

The Hopi are a Native American tribe, who primarily live on the 2,531.773 sq mi (6,557.26 km2) Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. As of 2010, there were 18,327 Hopi in the United States, according to the 2010 census. The Hopi language is one of the 30 of the Uto-Aztecan language family.

The Kikuyu tribe is a Bantu tribe that neighbors the Embu, Mbeere and Meru tribes around Mount Kenya. They are Kenya’s most popular and the largest ethnic tribe, making up 22 percent of the country’s population.

The Tibetan people (Tibetan: བོད་པ་) are an ethnic group that is native to Tibet. Most Tibetans practice Tibetan Buddhism, though some observe the indigenous Bön religion and there is a small Muslim minority. Tibetan Buddhism influences Tibetan art, drama, and architecture, while the harsh geography of Tibet has produced an adaptive culture of Tibetan medicine and cuisine.

The Swiss are citizens or natives of Switzerland. The demonym derives from the toponym of Schwyz and has been in widespread use to refer to the Old Swiss Confederacy since the 16th century. The number of Swiss nationals has grown from 1.7 million in 1815 to 6.76 million in 2009, 90% of them living in Switzerland.

 

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the Guardianship of the earth wind water fire

http://www.crystalinks.com/hopistonetablets.html

HOPI STONE TABLETS

There was the cycle of the mineral, the rock.
There was the cycle of the plant.
And now we are in the cycle of the animals coming to the
end of that and beginning the cycle of the human being.

When we get into the cycle of the human being
the highest and greatest powers that we have
will be released to us.

They will be released from that light or soul that we carry to the mind. But right now we’re coming to the end of the animal cycle and we have investigated ourselves and learned what it is to be like an animal on this earth.

At the beginning of this cycle of time, long ago, the Great Spirit came down and He made an appearance and He gathered the peoples of this earth together they say on an island which is now beneath the water and He said to the human beings, “I’m going to send you to four directions and over time I’m going to change you to four colors, but I’m going to give you some teachings and you will call these the Original Teachings and when you come back together with each other you will share these so that you can live and have peace on earth, and a great civilization will come about.”

And he said, “During the cycle of time I’m going to give each of you Two Stone Tablets. When I give you those stone tablets, don’t cast those upon the ground. If any of the brothers and sisters of the four directions and the four colors cast their tablets on the ground, not only, will human beings have a hard time, but almost the earth itself will die.”

And so he gave each of us a responsibility and we call that the Guardianship.

To the Indian people, the red people, he gave the Guardianship of the earth. We were to learn during this cycle of time the teachings of the earth, the plants that grow from the earth, the foods that you can eat, and the herbs that are healing so that when we came back together with the other brothers and sisters we could share this knowledge with them. Something good was to happen on the earth.

To the South, he gave the yellow race of people the Guardianship of the wind. They were to learn about the sky and breathing and how to take that within ourselves for spiritual advancement. They were to share that with is at this time.

To the West He gave the black race of people the Guardianship of the water. They were to learn the teachings of the water which is the chief of the elements, being the most humble and the most powerful.

To the North He gave the white race of people the Guardianship of the fire. If you look at the center of many of the things they do you will find the fire. They say a light bulb is the white man’s fire. If you look at the center of a car you will find a spark. If you look at the center of the airplane and the train you will find the fire. The fire consumes, and also moves. This is why it was the white brothers and sisters who began to move upon the face of the earth and reunite us as a human family.

And so a long time passed, and the Great Spirit gave each of the four races two stone tablets. Ours are kept at the Hopi Reservation in Arizona at Four Corners Area on 3rd Mesa.

I talked to people from the black race and their stone tablets are at the foot of Mount Kenya. They are kept by the Kukuyu Tribe.

I once had the honor of presenting a sacred pipe at the Kukuyu Tribe carved from the red pipe stone of Mount Kenya. I was at an Indian spiritual gathering about 15 years ago. A medicine man from South Dakota put a beaded medicine wheel in the middle of the gathering. It had the four colors from the four directions; He asked the people, “Where is this from?” They said, “Probably Montana, or South Dakota, maybe Seskatchewan.” He said, “This is from Kenya.” It was beaded just like ours, with the same color.

The stone tablets of the yellow race of people are kept by the Tibetans, in Tibet. If you went straight through the Hopi Reservation to the other side of the world, you would come out in Tibet. The Tibetan word for “sun” is the Hopi word for “moon” and the Hopi word for “sun” is the Tibetan word for “moon”.

The guardians of the traditions of the people of Europe are the Swiss. In Switzerland, they still have a day when each family brings out its mask. They still know the colors of the families, they still know the symbols, some of them. I went to school with some people from Switzerland at the University of Washington and they shared this with me.

Each of these four peoples happen to be people that live in the mountains.

In 1976 America had its bicentennial celebrating 200 years of freedom. Some of the Native people thought this was significant and they carried a sacred pipe bundle from the West Coast to the East Coast of this land.

They said that the roads of this land should either go North-South or East-West. If they went North-South we would come together as brothers and sisters, but if they went East-West there would be destruction and almost the earth itself would have a hard time. So you all know the roads went East-West.

They said then things would be lost from the East to the West and from the South to the North and that they would come back again from the West to the East and from the North to the South.

So nine years ago in 1976 from the West to East Coast of this land, from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. people carried a sacred pipe bundle by hand, on foot. My aunt had dreamt 15 years ago that people that didn’t like them would throw rocks and bottles at that pipe bundle as they carried it across the land. And sure enough that came about. But, as was in my aunt’s dream, the rocks only came so close and then they dropped, and nothing touched it.

They said a spiritual fire would be lit in the North and would come down the Northwest Coast of this land. When it gets to the Puget Sound, it would go inland. I think this, nine years later, is the gathering in the North, myself. That’s why I came here. This is it. We have the capacity to start the spiritual fire now, here. The old people long ago saw it and foretold it and I’m going to come to that.

So we went through this cycle of time and each of the four races went to their directions and they learned their teachings.

We were given a sacred handshake to show when we came back together as brothers and sisters that we still remembered the teachings. It was indicated on the stone tablets that the Hopis had that the first brothers and sisters that would come back to them would come as turtles across the land. They would be human beings, but they would come as turtles.

So when the time came close the Hopis were at a special village to welcome the turtles that would come across the land and they got up in the morning and looked out at the sunrise. They looked out across the desert and they saw the Spanish Conquistadores coming, covered in armour, like turtles across the land. So this was them. So they went out to the Spanish man and they extended their hand hoping for the handshake but into the hand the Spanish man dropped a trinket.

And so word spread throughout North America that there was going to be a hard time, that maybe some of the brothers and sisters had forgotten the sacredness of all things and all the human beings were going to suffer for this on the earth.

So tribes began to send people to the mounds to have missions to try to figure out how they could survive. At that time there were 100,000 cities in the Mississippi Valley alone, called the mound civilization: cities built on great mounds. Those mounds are still there. If you ever go out to Ohio or the Mississippi Valley, they’re tourist attractions now. There was 100,000 cities of Native people and they were wondering how they could survive.

They began to try to learn to live off the land because they knew a hard time was going to come. They began to send people to have visions to see how we could survive this time.

People came on the east coast and they went across this land to the east and they were told in the prophecies that we should try to remind all the people that would come here of the sacredness of all things. If we could do that, then there would be peace on earth. But if we did not do that, when the roads went clear from east to west, and when the other races and colors of the Earth had walked clear across this land, if by that time we had not come together as a human family, the Great Spirit would grab the earth with his hand and shake it.

And so if you read the treaty negotiations from Red Jacket of the Six Nations on the east coast of this land clear to Chief Joseph and Chief Seattle on the west coast of this land, they all said the same thing. Chief Joseph said, “I accord you the right, and I hope you accord me the right, to live in this land.” Always we were trying to live together. But instead of living together, you all know there was separation, there was segregation. They separated the races: they separated the Indians, and they separated the blacks.

So when they got to the west coast of this land the elders that were made aware of these prophecies said they would then begin to build a black ribbon. And on this black ribbon there would move a bug. And when you begin to see this bug moving on the land, that was the sign for the First Shaking of the Earth.

The First Shaking of the Earth would be so violent that this bug would be shaken off the earth into the air and it would begin to move and fly in the air. And by the end of this shaking this bug will be in the air around the world. Behind it would be a trail of dirt and eventually the whole sky of the entire earth would become dirty from these trails of dirt, and this would cause many diseases that would get more and more complicated. So the bug moving on the land, of course it’s easy to see now.

In 1908 the Model-T Ford was mass produced for the first time. So the elders knew the First Shaking of the Earth was about to come about – that’s the First World War. In the First World War the airplane came into wide usage for the first time. That was that bug moving into the sky. And so they knew something very important would happen.

There would be an attempt to make peace on earth on the west coast of this land and so the elders began to watch for this. They began to hear that there was going to be a League of Nations in San Francisco so the elders gathered in Arizona around 1920 or so and they wrote a letter to Woodrow Wilson. They asked if the Indian people could be included in the League of Nations.

At that time the United States Supreme Court had held that a reservation is a separate and semi-sovereign nation, not a part of the United States but protected by it. This became a concern because people didn’t want the reservations to become more and more separate. They didn’t want them to be considered nations. So they did not write back and the Native people were left out of the League of Nations, so that circle was incomplete.

In the League of Nations circle there was a southern door, the yellow people; there was a western door, the black people; there was a northern door, the white people; but the eastern door was not attended. The elders knew that peace would not come on the earth until the circle of humanity is complete, until all the four colors sat in the circle and shared their teachings, then peace would come on earth.

So they knew things would happen. Things would speed up a little bit. There would be a cobweb built around the earth, and people would talk across this cobweb. When this talking cobweb, the telephone, was built around the earth, a sign of life would appear in the east, but it would tilt and bring death. It would come with the sun.

But the sun itself would rise one day not in the east but in the west. So the elders said when you see the sun rising in the east and you see the sign of life reversed and tilted in the east, you know that the Great Death is to come upon the earth, and now the Great Spirit will grab the earth again in His hand and shake it and this shaking will be worse than the first.

So the sign of life reversed and tilted, we call that the Swastika, and the rising sun in the east was the rising sun of Japan. These two symbols are carved in stone in Arizona. When the elders saw these two flags, these were the signs that the earth was to be shaken again.

The worse misuse of the Guardianship of the fire is called the “gourd of ashes”. They said the gourd of ashes will fall from the air. It will make the people like blades of grass in the prairie fire and things will not grow for many seasons. I saw on television not too long ago that they were talking about the atomic bomb, the gourd of ashes. They said it was the best-kept secret in the history of the United States. The elders wanted to speak about it in 1920.

They would have spoken of it and foretold it’s coming if they could have entered into the League of Nations.

The elders tried to contact President Roosevelt and ask him not to use the gourd of ashes because it would have a great effect on the earth and eventually cause even greater destruction and a the Third Shaking of the Earth, the Third World War. I’ll get to that in a few minutes.

So they knew after the Second Shaking of the Earth when they saw the gourd of ashes fall from the sky then there would be an attempt to make peace on the other side of this land. And because the peace attempt on the west coast had failed, they would build a special house on the east coast of this Turtle Island, and all the nations and peoples of the earth would come to this house and it would be called the House of Mica and it would shine like the mica on the desert shines.

So the elders began to see they were building the United Nations made out of glass that reflects like the mica on the desert so they knew this was the House of Mica and all the peoples of the earth should go to it. So they met and talked about this. They said that in the 1920’s they had written and they had not been responded to, so they said this time we better go to the front door of the House of Mica because things might get a lot worse.

So elders representing a number of tribes I believe drove to New York City. When the United Nations opened they went to the front door of the House of Mica and they said these words:

“We represent the indigenous people of North America and we wish to address the nations of the Earth. We’re going to give you four days to consider whether or not we will be allowed to speak.”

They retreated to one of the Six Nations Reserves in New York State. The Six Nations Reserves are keepers of the Great Law of Peace of the prophet that appeared here in North America, Dagonnorida. And this Law of Peace is still recited, it takes four days between sunrise and noon. Each year an Indian, by memory, must recite it about this time of year.

Four days later they came back and I believe the nations of the earth heard that the Indians had come to the door. And they voted to let the Indians in. They wanted to hear what they had to say. But the United States is one of five nations of the United Nations with a veto power and still they were concerned because this time the Native sovereignty was even stronger. And I believe they vetoed the entrance of the Native people.

So then they knew other things would happen on the Earth, and the United Nations would not bring peace on earth but there would be continuing and deepening confusion. And that the little wars would get worse. So they retreated to the Six Nations Reserve and they talked about this and they said the time is really getting close now, 1949.

They said, “We’re going to divide the United States into four sections and each year we’re going to have a gathering. We’re going to call these the ‘White of Peace Gatherings’.” They began to have these around 1950. And they authorized certain men to speak in English for the first time about these prophecies.

One that I used to listen to many times, over and over, was Thomas Benyaka. He is a Hopi man. I believe he is still living. He was authorized to speak in English about what was on the stone tablets and he has dedicated his lifetime to doing this. And they began to tell us at these gatherings, they said “In your lifetime you’re going to see things happen.”

It was strange when they said it in the 1950’s and 1960’s but now it seems very clear. But then it was unusual. They said, “You’re going to see a time in your life when men are going to become women. The Great Spirit is going to make a man on the earth. He made him a man but this man is going to say, “I know more than the Great Spirit. I’m going to change myself to be a woman:” And they will even nurse children. The Great Spirit is going to make the woman on the earth. She’s going to say, “I know more than the Great Spirit. I want to be a man. And she will be physically a man.”

They said “You’re going to see a time in your lifetime when the human beings are going to find the blueprint that makes us.” They call that now, DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid. They said, “They re going to cut this blueprint.” They call that now, genetic splicing.

And they said, “They’re going to make new animals upon the earth, and they’re going to think these are going to help us. And it’s going to seem like they do help us. But maybe the grandchildren and greatgrandchildren are going to suffer.”

They are making new animals. The elders talked about this. They said, “You will see new animals, and even the old animals will come back, animals that people thought had disappeared. They will find them here and there. They’ll begin to reappear.”

They said (and I know many of you are from tribes that also have this prophecy, “You’re going to see a time when the eagle will fly its highest in the night and it will land upon the moon.” Some tribes say the eagle will circle the moon. Some tribes say the eagle will fly it’s highest in the night. “And at that time,” they say, “Many of the Native people will be sleeping,” which symbolically means they have lost their teachings. There are some tribes that say it will be as if they are frozen: they’ve been through the long winter.

But they say, “When the eagle flies it’s highest in the night, that will be the first light of a new day. That will be the first thawing of spring.” Of course, at the first light of a new day, if you’ve stayed up all night, you notice it’s really dark. And the first light, you want to see it, but you can’t. It sneaks up on you. You want to see it change but it’s dark and then pretty soon it’s getting light before you know it.

We’re at that time now. The Eagle has landed on the moon, 1969. When that spaceship landed they sent back the message, “The Eagle has landed.” Traditionally, Native people from clear up in the Inuit region, they have shared with us this prophecy, clear down to the Quechuas in South America. They shared with us that they have this prophecy. When they heard those first words, “The Eagle has landed,” they knew that was the start of a new time and a new power for Native people. There was absolutely nothing strong before us now. We may do anything we wish.

In 1776 when the United States Government printed the dollar, in one claw [of the eagle], if you’ve ever noticed, there is an olive branch in this claw. They said that represented peace. The Indian elders shared with me in South Dakota that to them that represents the enslavement of black people.

In the prophecies of the Six Nations people they say there will be two great uprisings by black people to free themselves. We’ve seen one about 1964. There will be a second, more violent one to come. I’ll get back to what that means in a minute. In the other claw is 13 arrows. The founding fathers of the United States said that represents the 13 States. But the elders say that represents the enslavement of the Native people.

When the Eagle landed on the moon, they decided to print a special silver dollar to commemorate that. I don’t know how many of you noticed it. The original design showed the spaceship landing on the moon but at the last minute it was changed to an actual eagle. And in the eagle’s claws is the olive branch, but the arrows are gone. The elders said, “That’s our prophecy, we have been released.”

There was one more uprising coming for the black race of people and then they will be released and this is also going to have an effect on Native people, a good effect. There’s a whole new set of prophecies from the Iroquois people about that and I won’t have time to go into that this morning.

But we’re in that time now. We’re between the first light of a new day and the sunrise. The sunrise is about to come and when it comes up everyone is going to see it. But you know how it is in the village there’s a few people that get up early, and there are some that sleep until noon. I’m probably one of those that sleeps until noon. They said when that Eagle lands on the moon, the powers will begin to come back to us.

Within seven days of the time the Eagle landed on the moon, the Freedom of Indian Religion Act was introduced into the United States Congress. The legislation was introduced in 1969, less than seven days after the Eagle landed on the moon. Eventually it was passed in November of 1978, signed by President Carter. These are the physical manifestations of the spiritual prophecies that we have.

So he said at this time you’re going to see that things will speed up, that people on the earth will move faster and faster. Grandchildren will not have time for grandparents. Parents will not have time for children. It will seem like time is going faster and faster. The elders advised us that as things speed up, you yourself should slow down. The faster things go, the slower you go. Because there’s going to come a time when the earth is going to be shaken a third time.

The Great Spirit has been shaking the earth two times: the First and Second World Wars to remind us that we are a human family, to remind us that we should have greeted each other as brothers and sisters. We had a chance after each shaking to come together in a circle that would have brought peace on earth, but we missed that.

Tonight they were talking on the news about the sign for the Third Shaking of the Earth. I heard it while sitting in the airport after I missed my plane. They said they’re going to build what the elders called the “house in the sky”.

In the 1950’s they talked about this: they will build a house and throw it in the sky. When you see people living in the sky on a permanent basis, you will know the Great Spirit is about to grab the earth, this time not with one hand, but with both hands.

Many of you of Native background may have heard “the spirits will warn you twice, but the third time you stand alone.” We’ve had two warnings, the first two World Wars, but now we stand alone in the third one. As it says in the Baha’i Writings, there will be no-one protected. When this house is in the sky, the Great Spirit is going to shake the Earth a third time and whoever dropped that gourd of ashes, upon them it is going to drop.

They say at that time there will be villages in this land so great that when you stand in the villages you will not be able to see out, and in the prophecies these are called “villages of stone”, or “prairies of stone”. And they said the stone will grow up from the ground and you will not be able to see beyond the village. At the center of each and every one of these villages will be Native people, and they will walk as “hollow” shells upon a “prairie of stone”. They said “hollow shells” which means they will have lost any of their traditional understandings; they will be empty within.

They said after the Eagle lands on the moon some of these people will begin to leave these “prairies of stone” and come home and take up some of the old ways and begin to make themselves reborn, because it’s a new day. But many will not. And they said there’s going to come a time when in the morning the sun is going to rise and this village of stone will be there, and in the evening there would just be steam coming from the ground. They will be as steam. And in the center of many of those villages of stone when they turn to steam, the Native people will turn to steam also because they never woke up and left the village.

 

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Means “Throne” ?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isis

Isis (/ˈsɪs/; Ancient Greek: Ἶσις IPA: [îː.sis]; original Egyptian pronunciation more likely “Aset” or “Iset”) is a goddess from the polytheistic pantheon of Egypt. She was first worshiped in Ancient Egyptian religion, and later her worship spread throughout the Roman Empire and the greater Greco-Roman world. Isis is still widely worshiped by many pagans today in diverse religious contexts; including a number of distinct pagan religions, the modern Goddess movement, and interfaith organizations such as the Fellowship of Isis.

Isis was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the patroness of nature and magic. She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans and the downtrodden, but she also listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats and rulers. Isis is often depicted as the mother of Horus, the falcon-headed deity associated with king and kingship (although in some traditions Horus’s mother was Hathor). Isis is also known as protector of the dead and goddess of children.

The name Isis means “Throne”. Her headdress is a throne. As the personification of the throne, she was an important representation of the pharaoh’s power. The pharaoh was depicted as her child, who sat on the throne she provided. Her cult was popular throughout Egypt, but her most important temples were at Behbeit El-Hagar in the Nile delta, and, beginning in the reign with Nectanebo I (380–362 BCE), on the island of Philae in Upper Egypt.

In the typical form of her myth, Isis was the first daughter of Geb, god of the Earth, and Nut, goddess of the Sky, and she was born on the fourth intercalary day. She married her brother, Osiris, and she conceived Horus with him. Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by Set. Using her magical skills, she restored his body to life after having gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the earth by Set.

This myth became very important during the Greco-Roman period. For example, it was believed that the Nile River flooded every year because of the tears of sorrow which Isis wept for Osiris. Osiris’s death and rebirth was relived each year through rituals. The worship of Isis eventually spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, continuing until the suppression of paganism in the Christian era. The popular motif of Isis suckling her son Horus, however, lived on in a Christianized context as the popular image of Mary suckling her infant son Jesus from the fifth century onward.

The Greek name version of Isis is close to her original, Egyptian name spelling (namely Aset). Isis’ name was originally written with the signs of a throne seat (Gardiner sign Q1, pronounced “as” or “is”), a bread loaf (Gardiner sign X1, pronounced “t” or “tj”) and with an unpronounced determinative of a sitting woman. A second version of the original was also written with the throne seat and the bread loaf, but ended with an egg symbol (Gardiner sign H8) which was normally read “set”, but here it was used as a determinative to promote the correct reading. The grammar, spelling and used signs of Isis’ name never changed during time in any way, making it easy to recognize her any time.

However, the symbolic and metaphoric meaning of Isis’ name remains unclear. The throne seat sign in her name might point to a functional role as a goddess of kingship, as the maternal protector of the ruling king. Thus, her name could mean “she of the kings’ throne”. But all other Egyptian deities have names that point to clear cosmological or nature elemental roles ( = the sun; Ma’at = justice and world order), thus the name of Isis shouldn’t be connected to the king himself. The throne seat symbol might alternatively point to a meaning as “throne-mother of the gods”, making her the highest and most powerful goddess before all other gods. This in turn would supply a very old existence of Isis, long before her first mentioning during the late Old Kingdom, but this hypothesis remains unproven. A third possible meaning might be hidden in the egg-symbol, that was also used in Isis’ name. The egg-symbol always represented motherhood, implying a maternal role of Isis. Her name could mean “mother goddess”, pointing to her later, mythological role as the mother of Horus. But this remains problematic, too: the initial mother-goddess of Horus was Hathor, not Isis.

The religion of Isis thus spread throughout the Roman Empire during the formative centuries of Christianity. Wall paintings and objects reveal her pervasive presence at Pompeii, preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. In Rome, temples were built (such as the Temple of Isis and Serapis) and obelisks erected in her honour. In Greece, the cult of Isis was introduced to traditional centres of worship in Delos, Delphi, Eleusis and Athens, as well as in northern Greece. Harbours of Isis were to be found on the Arabian Sea and the Black Sea. Inscriptions show followers in Gaul, Spain, Pannonia, Germany, Arabia, Asia Minor, Portugal and many shrines even in Britain. Tacitus interprets a goddess among the Germanic Suebi as a form of Isis whose symbol (signum) was a ship.

The cult of Isis was part of the syncretic tendencies of religion in the Greco-Roman world of late antiquity. The names Isidoros and Isidora in Greek mean “gift of Isis” (similar to “Theodoros”, “God’s gift”).

The sacred image of Isis with the Horus Child in Rome often became a model for the Christian Mary carrying her child Jesus and many of the epithets of the Egyptian Mother of God came to be used for her.

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Major Gods of the Roman Pantheon (Dii Consentes)

Deity
Origin
Description
Apollo
Greek (Apollo)
Apollo is the son of Jupiter and Leto, and the twin brother of Diana . He is the god of music, playing a golden lyre. The Archer, far shooting with a silver bow. The god of healing who taught man medicine. The god of light. The god of truth, who can not speak a lie. One of Apollo’s more important daily tasks is to harness his chariot with four horses an drive the Sun across the sky. He is famous for his oracle at Delphi. People traveled to it from all over the Greek world to divine the future. His tree was the laurel. The crow his bird. The dolphin his animal.
Ceres
Greek (Demeter)
Corn Goddess. Eternal Mother. the Sorrowing Mother. Grain Mother. Goddess of agriculture, grain, crops, initiation, civilization, lawgiver and the love a mother bears for her child. Protectress of women, motherhood, marriage. Daughter of Saturn and Ops. She and her daughter Proserpine were the counterparts of the Greek goddesses Demeter and Persephone. Her worship involved fertility rites and rites for the dead, and her chief festival was the Cerealia.
Diana
Greek (Artemis)
Fertility Goddess. Moon Goddess. Huntress Goddess. Triple Goddess- Lunar Virgin, Mother of Creatures, the Huntress or Destroyer. Goddess of nature, fertility, childbirth, wildwood, moon, forests, animals, mountains, woods, and women. Goddess of the hunt. In Roman art Diana usually appears as a huntress with bow and arrow, along with a hunting dog or a stag. Both a virgin goddess and an earth goddess, she was identified with the Greek Artemis. She is praised for her strength, athletic grace, beauty and her hunting skills. With two other deities she made up a trinity: Egeria the water nymph (her servant and assistant midwife), and Virbius (the woodland god).
Juno
Greek (Hera)
Queen of the Gods. Jupiters wife and sister, sister to Neptune and Pluto, daughter of Saturn, mother of Juventas, Mars, and Vulcan. Protectress of the Roman state. She was the guardian of the Empire’s finances and considered the Matron Goddess of all Rome. The Matronalia, her major festival is March 1-2. Her other festival, on July 7-8, was called Nonae Caprotinae (“The Nones of the Wild Fig”). The month of June was named after her.
Jupiter
Greek (Zeus)
Ruler of the Gods. He is the god of Sky, Lightning and Thunder. He is the son of Saturn and brother of Neptune, Pluto and Juno, who is also his wife. His attribute is the lightning bolt and his symbol the eagle, who is also his messenger. He was also considered the Patron god of Rome, and his temple was the official place of state business and sacrifices.
Mars
Greek (Ares)
God of war, spring, growth in nature, agriculture, terror, anger, revenge, courage and fertility. Protector of cattle. The son of Jupiter and Juno, he was the god of war. Mars was regarded as the father of the Roman people because he was the father of Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome, and husband to Bellona. He was the most prominent of the military gods that were worshipped by the Roman legions. The martial Romans considered him second in importance only to Jupiter. His festivals were held in March (named for him) and October.
Mercury
Greek (Hermes)
God of Trade, Profit, Merchants and Travellers. His main festival, the Mercuralia, was celebrated on May 15 and on this day the merchants sprinkled their heads and their merchandise with water from his well near the Porta Capena. The symbols of Mercury are the caduceus (a staff with two intertwined snakes) and a purse (a symbol of his connection with commerce).
Minerva

Greek (Athena)

Etruscan (Menrva)

Goddess of Wisdom, Learning, the Arts, Sciences, Medicine, Dyeing, Trade, and of War. Daughter of Jupiter, protectress of commerce, industry and education. Honored at the spring equinox with her main festival, March 19 – 23, called the Quinquatria. On June 13 the minor Quinquatrus was observed.
Neptune
Greek (Poseidon)
God of the Sea. Brother of Jupiter, Pluto and Juno. The God and patron of Horses and Horse Racing as Neptune Equester. Neptunalia was celebrated on July 23. The trident is Neptune’s attribute.
Venus
Greek (Aphrodite)
Originally a Goddess of Gardens and Vinyards, Venus became the major deity of love and beauty after the influx of Greek deities. On August 18 the Vinalia Rustica was observed. A second festival, that of the Veneralia, was celebrated on April 1 in honor of Venus Verticordia, who later became the protector against vice. On April 23 a festival, the Vinalia Priora, celebrated the opening of one of her temples.
Vesta
Greek (Hestia)
Goddess of the Fire (both sacred and domestic) and the Hearth. Daughter of Saturn and Ops. Her sacred animal was the ass. Patroness of bakers. Her chief festival was the Vestalia on June 7. One of the most worshipped of the Roman deities.
Vulcan
Greek (Hephaestus)
God of Fire, Blacksmiths and Craftsmanship. His forge is located beneath Mount Etna. It is here that he, together with his helpers, forges weapons for Gods and heroes. Closely associated with Bona Dea with whom he shared the Volcanalia, observed on August 23.
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Sumerian Religion

Sumerian religion has its roots in the worship of nature, such as the wind and water. The ancient sages of Sumer found it necessary to bring order to that which they did not understand and to this end they came to the natural conclusion that a greater force was at work. The forces of nature were originally worshipped as themselves. However, over time the human form became associated with those forces. Gods in human form were now seen to have control over nature.

The Cosmos

The Sumerians regarded the universe as consisting of heaven and earth. The Sumerian term for universe is an-ki, which translates to “heaven-earth.” Earth was seen as a flat disk surrounded by a hollow space. This was enclosed by a solid surface which they believed was made of tin. Between earth and heavens was a substance known as lil, which means “air” or “breath.” The moon, sun, stars, and planets were also made of lil, but they were also luminescent. Completely surrounding the an-ki was the primeval sea. The sea gave birth to the an-ki, which eventually gave rise to life.

Sumerian theologians believed that every intricacy of the cosmos was controlled by a divine and immortal being. The cosmos adhered to established rules.

The world below was known as the nether world. The Sumerians believed that the dead descended into the nether world, also known as the under world. The souls of the dead entered the nether world from their graves, but there were also special entrances in cities. A person could enter the nether world from one of these special entrances, but could not leave unless a substitute was found to take their place in the world below. A person entering the nether world must adhere to certain rules:

He must not make any noise.

He must not carry any weapons.

He must not wear clean clothes.

He must not behave in a normal manner towards his family.

He must not wear sandals.

He must not douse himself with “good” oil.

Failure to adhere to these rules would cause the person to be held fast by the denizens of the nether world until a god intervened on their behalf.

The nether world was ruled by Nergal and Ereshkigal. They had at their disposal a number of deities, including a number of sky-gods who feel out of faith with later Sumerian theologians.

After descending into the nether world a soul had to cross a river with the aid of a boatman who ferried them across. They then confronted Utu, who judged their soul. If the judgment was positive the soul would live a life of happiness. It was, however, generally believed by Sumerians that life in the nether world was dismal.

The Gods

The gods of Sumer were human in form and maintained human traits. They ate, drank, married, and fought amongst each other. Even though the gods were immortal and all-powerful, it was apparent that they could be hurt and even killed.

Each god adhered to a set of rules of divine authority known as me. The me ensured that each god was able to keep the cosmos functioning according to the plans handed down to them by Enlil.

Hundreds of deities were recognized in the Sumerian pantheon. Many were wives, children, and servants of the more powerful deities. The gods were organized into a caste system. At the head of the system was the king or supreme ruler. The four most important deities were An, Enlil, Enki, and Ninhursag. These were the four creator deities who created all of the other gods. An was initially the head of the pantheon, though he was eventually seceded by Enlil. Enlil is seen as the most important god. He is known as “the king of heaven and earth,” “the father of the gods,” and “the king of all the gods.” Enlil developed the broad designs for the universe. However, it was Enki who further developed and carried out his plans. Ninhursag was regarded as the mother of all living beings.

Under the four creator deities were the seven gods who “decree the fates.” These were An, Enlil, Enki, Ninhursag, Nanna, Utu, and Inanna. These were followed by the 50 “great gods” or Annunaki, the children of An.

Mankind’s Role

Sumerians believed that their role in the universe was to serve the gods. To this end the ancient Sumerians devoted much of their time to ensuring their favor with the gods with worship, prayer, and sacrifice. The high gods, however, were believed to have more important things to do than to attend to the common man’s every day prayers, and so personal gods were devised as intermediaries between man and the high gods. The personal gods listened to the prayers and relayed them to the high gods.

The temple was the center of worship. Each city usually had a large temple dedicated to their patron god, and might also have small shrines dedicated to other gods. Daily sacrifices were made consisting of animals and foods, such as wine, beer, milk, and meats. Additionally special occasions called for spectacular festivities that would sometimes last for days. Special feasts took place on the day of the new moon, on the 7th, 15th, and last day of the month. However, the most important day by far was the New Year.

The head of the temple was called the sanga. The sanga was responsible for ensuring the temple’s finances, buildings, and day-to-day activities were all in good order. The en was the spiritual leader of the temple. The en could be a man or woman depending upon the deity. Under the en were various priest classes, such as the guda, mah, gala, nindingir, and ishib. The roles of all of these classes is not known, though the ishib was in charge of libations, and the gala was a poet or singer.

The city’s main temple was usually dedicated to their patron deity. Patron deities often assumed the powers of other deities, which tended to result in confusion and contradiction in the literature of ancient Sumer. For example, ancient legends would often change to reflect the new-found popularity of a particular god. If Marduk rose to prominence, then certain legends would alter to reflect such.

Religion

The religion of the ancient Sumerians has left its mark on the entire middle east. Not only are its temples and ziggurats scattered about the region, but the literature, cosmogony and rituals influenced their neighbors to such an extent that we can see echoes of Sumer in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition today. From these ancient temples, and to a greater extent, through cuneiform writings of hymns, myths, lamentations, and incantations, archaeologists and mythographers afford the modern reader a glimpse into the religious world of the Sumerians.

Each city housed a temple that was the seat of a major god in the Sumerian pantheon, as the gods controlled the powerful forces which often dictated a human’s fate. The city leaders had a duty to please the town’s patron deity, not only for the good will of that god or goddess, but also for the good will of the other deities in the council of gods. The priesthood initially held this role, and even after secular kings ascended to power, the clergy still held great authority through the interpretation of omens and dreams. Many of the secular kings claimed divine right; Sargon of Agade, for example claimed to have been chosen by

The rectangular central shrine of the temple, known as a ‘cella,’ had a brick altar or offering table in front of a statue of the temple’s deity. The cella was lined on its long ends by many rooms for priests and priestesses. These mud-brick buildings were decorated with cone geometrical mosaics, and the occasional fresco with human and animal figures. These temple complexes eventually evolved into towering ziggurats.

The temple was staffed by priests, priestesses, musicians, singers, castrates and hierodules. Various public rituals, food sacrifices, and libations took place there on a daily basis. There were monthly feasts and annual, New Year celebrations. During the later, the king would be married to Inanna as the resurrected fertility god Dumuzi, whose exploits are dealt with below.

When it came to more private matters, a Sumerian remained devout. Although the gods preferred justice and mercy, they had also created evil and misfortune. A Sumerian had little that he could do about it. Judging from Lamentation records, the best one could do in times of duress would be to “plead, lament and wail, tearfully confessing his sins and failings.” Their family god or city god might intervene on their behalf, but that would not necessarily happen. After all, man was created as a broken, labor saving, tool for the use of the gods and at the end of everyone’s life, lay the underworld, a generally dreary place.

Sumerian Cosmology

From verses scattered throughout hymns and myths, one can compile a picture of the universe’s (anki) creation according to the Sumerians. The primeval sea (abzu) existed before anything else and within that, the heaven (an) and the earth (ki) were formed. The boundary between heaven and earth was a solid (perhaps tin) vault, and the earth was a flat disk. Within the vault lay the gas-like ‘lil’, or atmosphere, the brighter portions therein formed the stars, planets, sun, and moon. The Each of the four major Sumerian deities is associated with one of these regions. An, god of heaven, may have been the main god of the pantheon prior to 2500 BC., although his importance gradually waned. (Kramer 1963 p. 118) Ki is likely to be the original name of the earth goddess, whose name more often appears as Ninhursag (queen of the mountains), Ninmah (the exalted lady), or Nintu (the lady who gave birth). It seems likely that these two were the progenitors of most of the gods.

According to “Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld”, in the first days all needed things were created. Heaven and earth were separated. An took Heaven, Enlil took the earth, Ereshkigal was carried off to the netherworld as a prize, and Enki sailed off after her.

Deities (Gods)

Nammu

Nammu is the Goddess of the watery abyss, the primeval sea. She may be the earliest of deities within Sumerian cosmology as she gave birth to heaven and earth. (Kramer 1961 p. 39) She is elsewhere described both as the mother of all the gods and as the wife of An. She is Enki‘s mother. She prompts him to create servants for the gods and is then directed by him on how, with the help of Nimmah/Ninhursag to create man.

The Primary Deities

It is notable that the Sumerians themselves may not have grouped these four as a set and that the grouping has been made because of the observations of Sumerologists.

An

An, god of heaven, may have been the main god of the pantheon prior to 2500 BC., although his importance gradually waned. In the early days he carried off heaven, while Enlil carried away the earth.) It seems likely that he and Ki/Ninhursag were the progenitors of most of the gods. although in one place Nammu is listed as his wife. Among his children and followers were the Anunnaki. His primary temple was in Erech. He and Enlil give various gods, goddesses, and kings their earthly regions of influence and their laws. Enki seats him at the first seat of the table in Nippur at the feast celebrating his new house in Eridu. He hears Inanna’s complaint about Mount Ebih (Kur?), but discourages her from attacking it because of its fearsome power. After the flood, he and Enlil make Ziusudra immortal and make him live in Dilmun.

Ninhursag (Ki, Ninmah, Nintu)

Ki is likely to be the original name of the earth goddess, whose name more often appears as Ninhursag (queen of the mountains), Ninmah (the exalted lady), or Nintu (the lady who gave birth). Most often she is considered Enlil’s sister, but in some traditions she is his spouse instead. She was born, possibly as a unified cosmic mountain with An, from Nammu and shortly thereafter, their union produced Enlil. (Kramer 1961 p. 74) In the early days, as Ki, she was separated from heaven (An) and carried off by Enlil. It seems likely that she and An were the progenitors of most of the gods. She later unites with Enlil and with the assistance of Enki they produce the world’s plant and animal life.

“Enki and Ninhursag” In Dilmun, she (as Nintu) bears the goddess Ninsar from Enki, who in turn bears the goddess Ninkur, who in turn bears Uttu, goddess of plants. Uttu bore eight new trees from Enki. When he then ate Uttu’s children, Ninhursag cursed him with eight wounds and dissapears. After being persuaded by Enlil to undo her curse, she bore Enki eight new children which undid the wounds of the first ones.

Enki seats her (as Nintu) on the big side of the table in Nippur at the feast celebrating his new house in Eridu.

“Enki and Ninmah” She is the mother goddess and, as Ninmah, assists in the creation of man. Enki, having been propted by Nammu to create servants for the gods, describes how Nammu and Ninmah will help fashion man from clay. Prior to getting to work, she and Enki drink overmuch at a feast. She then shapes six flawed versions of man from the heart of the clay over the Abzu, with Enki declaring their fates. Enki, in turn also creates a flawed man which is unable to eat. Ninmah appears to curse him for the failed effort.

Enlil

An and Ki‘s union produced Enlil (Lord of ‘lil’). Enlil was the air-god and leader of the pantheon from at least 2500 BC, when his temple Ekur in Nippur was the spiritual center of Sumer In the early days he separated and carried off the earth (Ki) while An carried off heaven He assumed most of An’s powers. He is glorified as “‘the father of the gods, ‘the king of heaven and earth,’ ‘ the king of all the lands'”. Kramer portrays him as a patriarchal figure, who is both creator and disciplinarian. Enlil causes the dawn, the growth of plants, and bounty He also invents agricultural tools such as the plow or pickaxe

Without his blessings, a city would not rise (Kramer 1961 pp. 63, 80) Most often he is considered Ninlil’s husband, with Ninhursag as his sister, but some traditions have Ninhursag as his spouse. (Jacobsen p.105) “Enlil and Ninlil” He is also banished to the nether world (kur) for his rape of Ninlil, his intended bride, but returns with the first product of their union, the moon god Sin (also known as Nanna Ninlil follows him into exile as his wife. He tells the various underworld guardians to not reveal his whereabouts and instead poses as those guardians himself three times, each time impregnating her again it appears that at least on one occasion Enlil reveals his true self before they unite. The products of these unions are three underworld deities, including Meslamtaea (aka. Nergal) and Ninazu. Later, when Nanna visits him in Nippur, he bestows Ur to him with a palace and plentiful plantlife. Enlil is also seen as the father of Ninurta

“Enki and Eridu” When Enki journeys to Enlil’s city Nippur in order for his own city, Eridu to be blessed. He is given bread at Enki’s feast and is seated next to An, after which Enlil proclaims that the Anunnaki should praise Enki.

“The Dispute between Cattle and Grain” Enlil and Enki, at Enki’s urging, create farms and fields for the grain goddess Ashnan and the cattle goddess Lahar. This area has places for Lahar to take care of the animals and Ashnan to grow the crops. The two agricultural deities get drunk and begin fighting, so it falls to Enlil and Enki to resolve their conflict – how they do so has not been recovered.

“The Dispute between Emesh and Enten” Enlil creates the herdsman deity Enten and the agricultural deity Emesh. He settles a dispute between Emesh and Enten over who should be recognized as ‘farmer of the gods’, declaring Enten’s claim to be stronger.

“Enki and Ninhursag” He helps Enki again when he was cursed by Ninhursag. Enlil and a fox entreat her to return and undo her curse.

“Enki and the World Order” The me were assembled by Enlil in his temple Ekur, and given to Enki to guard and impart to the world, beginning with Eridu, Enki’s center of worship.

“Inanna’s Descent to the Nether World” Enlil refuses Ninshubur’s appeal on behalf of his [grand-]daughter, Inanna to help rescue her from Ereshkigal in the underworld.

“Ziusudra” After the flood, he and An gave Ziusudra eternal life and had him live in Dilmun.

“Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Netherworld” When Gilgamesh looses his pukku and mikku in the nether world, and Enkidu is held fast there by demons, he appeals to Enlil for help. Enlil refuses to assist him.  

Enki

Enki is the son of Nammu, the primeval sea. Contrary to the translation of his name, Enki is not the lord of the earth, but of the abzu (the watery abyss and also semen) and of wisdom. This contradiction leads Kramer and Maier to postulate that he was once known as En-kur, lord of the underworld, which either contained or was contained in the Abzu. He did struggle with Kur as mentioned in the prelude to “Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Underworld”, and presumably was victorious and thereby able to claim the title “Lord of Kur” (the realm). He is a god of water, creation, and fertility. He also holds dominion over the land. He is the keeper of the me, the divine laws.

Enki sails for the Kur, presumably to rescue Ereshkigal after she was given over to Kur. He is assailed by creatures with stones. These creatures may have been an extension of Kur itself.

“Enki and Eridu” Enki raises his city Eridu from the sea, making it very lush. He takes his boat to Nippur to have the city blessed by Enlil. He throws a feast for the gods, giving Enlil, An, and Nintu spacial attention. After the feast, Enlil proclaims that the Anunnaki should praise Enki.

“Enki and the World Order” The me were assembled by Enlil in Ekur and given to Enki to guard and impart to the world, beginning with Eridu, his center of worship. From there, he guards the me and imparts them on the people. He directs the me towards Ur and Meluhha and Dilmun, organizing the world with his decrees.

“The Dispute between Cattle and Grain” Enlil and Enki, at Enki’s urging, create farms and fields for the grain goddess Ashnan and the cattle goddess <Lahar>. This area has places for Lahar to take care of the animals and Ashnan to grow the crops. The two agricultural deities get drunk and begin fighting, so it falls to Enlil and Enki to resolve their conflict – how they do so has not been recovered.

“Enki and Ninhursag” He blessed the paradisical land of Dilmun, to have plentiful water and palm trees. He sires the goddess Ninsar upon Ninhursag, then sires Ninkur upon Ninsar, finally siring Uttu, goddess of plants, upon Ninkur. Uttu bore eight new types of trees from Enki. He then consumed these tree-children and was cursed by Ninhursag, with one wound for each plant consumed. Enlil and a fox act on Enki’s behalf to call back Ninhursag in order to undo the damage. She joins with Enki again and bears eight new children, one to cure each of the wounds.

“Enki and Ninmah: The Creation of Man” The gods complain that they need assistance. At his mother Nammu’s prompting, he directs her, along with some constructive criticism from Ninmah (Ninhursag), in the creation of man from the heart of the clay over the Abzu. Several flawed versions were created before the final version was made.

“Inanna’s Descent to the Nether World” He is friendly to Inanna and rescued her from Kur by sending two sexless beings to negotiate with, and flatter Ereshkigal. They gave her the Food of Life and the Water of Life, which restored her. and

“Inanna and Enki” Later, Inanna comes to Enki and complains at having been given too little power from his decrees. In a different text, she gets Enki drunk and he grants her more powers, arts, crafts, and attributes – a total of ninety-four me. Inanna parts company with Enki to deliver the me to her cult center at Erech. Enki recovers his wits and tries to recover the me from her, but she arrives safely in Erech with them.

The Seven Who Decreed Fate

In addition to the four primary deities, there were hundreds of others. A group of seven “decreed the fates” – these probably included the first four, as well as Nanna, his son Utu, the sun god and a god of justice, and Nanna’s daughter Inanna, goddess of love and war.

Nanna (Sin, (Suen), Ashgirbabbar)

Nanna is another name for the moon god Sin He is the product of Enlil‘s rape of Ninlil. He travels across the sky in his gufa, (a small, canoe-like boat made of woven twigs and tar), with the stars and planets about him. Nanna was the tutelary deity of Ur appointed as king of that city by An and Enlil. He journeyed to Nippur by boat, stopping at five cities along the way. When he arrived at Nippur, he proffered gifts to Enlil and pleaded with him to ensure that his city of Ur would be blessed, prosperous, and thus, not be flooded. Nanna was married to Ningal and they produced Inanna and Utu. He rests in the Underworld every month, and there decrees the fate of the dead. He refuses to send aid to Inanna when she is trapped in the underworld. He established Ur-Nammu as his mortal representative, establishing the third Ur dynasty.

Utu

Utu is the son of Nanna and Ningal and the god of the Sun and of Justice. He goes to the underworld at the end of every day setting in the “mountain of the west” and rising in the “mountain of the east”. While there decrees the fate of the dead, although he also may lie down to sleep at night. He is usually depicted with fiery rays coming out of his shoulders and upper arms, and carrying a saw knife. When Inanna‘s huluppu tree is infested with unwelcome guests, he ignores her appeal for aid. He tries to set her up with Dumuzi, the shepherd, but she initially rebuffs him, preferring the farmer. He aided Dumuzi in his flight from the galla demons by helping him to transform into different creatures. Through Enki’s orders, he also brings water up from the earth in order to irrigate Dilmun, the garden paradise, the place where the sun rises. He is in charge of the “Land of the Living” and, in sympathy for Gilgamesh, calls off the seven weather heroes who defend that land. He opened the “ablal” of the Underworld for the shade of Enkidu, to allow him to escape, at the behest of Enki.

Inanna

Nanna and Ningal‘s daughter Inanna, goddess of love and war. “Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Underworld” A woman planted the huluppu tree in Inanna’s garden, but the Imdugud-bird (Anzu bird?) made a nest for its young there, Lilith (or her predecessor, a lilitu-demon) made a house in its trunk, and a serpent made a home in its roots. Inanna appeals to Utu about her unwelcome guests, but he is unsympathetic. She appeals to Gilgamesh, here her brother, and he is receptive. He tears down the tree and makes it into a throne and bed for her. In return for the favor, Inanna manufactures a pukku and mikku for him.

“Gilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven” Later, Inanna seeks out Gilgamesh as her lover. When he spurns her she sends the Bull of Heaven to terrorize his city of Erech.

“The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi” Her older brother Utu tries to set her up with Dumuzi, the shepherd, but she initially rebuffs him, preferring the farmer. He assures her that his parents are as good as hers and she begins to desire him. Her mother, Ningal, further assures her. The two consummate their relationship and with their exercise in fertility, the plants and grains grow as well. After they spend time in the marriage bed, Inanna declares herself as his battle leader and sets his duties as including sitting on the throne and guiding the path of weapons. At Ninshubur’s request, she gives him power over the fertility of plants and animals.

“Inanna’s Descent to the Nether World” Inanna also visits Kur, which results in a myth reminiscent of the Greek seasonal story of Persephone. She sets out to witness the funeral rites of her sister-in-law Ereshkigal‘s husband Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven. She takes precaution before setting out, by telling her servant Ninshubur to seek assistance from Enlil, Nanna, or Enki at their shrines, should she not return. Inanna knocks on the outer gates of Kur and the gatekeeper, Neti, questions her. He consults with queen Ereshkigal and then allows Inanna to pass through the seven gates of the underworld. After each gate, she is required to remove adornments and articles of clothing, until after the seventh gate, she is naked. The Annuna pass judgment against her and Ereshkigal killed her and hung her on the wall.

Inanna is rescued by the intervention of Enki. He creates two sexless creatures that empathize with Ereshkigal’s suffering, and thereby gain a gift – Inanna’s corpse. They restore her to life with the Bread of Life and the Water of Life, but the Sumerian underworld has a conservation of death law. No one can leave without providing someone to stay in their stead. Inanna is escorted by galla/demons past Ninshubur and members of her family. She doesn’t allow them to claim anyone until she sees Dumuzi on his throne in Uruk. They then seize Dumuzi, but he escapes them twice by transforming himself, with the aid of Utu. Eventually he is caught and slain. Inanna spies his sister, Geshtinanna, in mourning and they go to Dumuzi. She allows Dumuzi, the shepherd, to stay in the underworld only six months of the year, while Geshtinanna will stay the other six. As with the Greek story of the kidnapping of Persephone, this linked the changing seasons, the emergence of the plants from the ground, with the return of a harvest deity from the nether world. Geshtinanna is also associated with growth, but where her brother rules over the spring harvested grain, she rules over the autumn harvested vines

“Inanna and Mount Ebih” Inanna complains to An about Mount Ebih (Kur?) demanding that it glorify her and submit lest she attack it. An discourages her from doing so because of its fearsome power. She does so anyway, bringing a storehouse worth of weapons to bear on it. She destroys it. Because she is known as the Destroyer of Kur in certain hymns, Kramer identifys Mt. Ebih with Kur.

“Inanna and Enki” The me were universal decrees of divine authority -the invocations that spread arts, crafts, and civilization. Enki became the keeper of the me. Inanna comes to Enki and complains at having been given too little power from his decrees. In a different text, she gets Enki drunk and he grants her more powers, arts, crafts, and attributes – a total of ninety-four me. Inanna parts company with Enki to deliver the me to her cult center at Erech. Enki recovers his wits and tries to recover the me from her, but she arrives safely in Erech with them.

The Annuna (Anunnaki) and others

At the next level were fifty “great gods”, possibly the same as the Annuna, although several gods confined to the underworld are specifically designated Annuna, An’s children. The Annuna are also said to live in Dulkug or Du-ku, the “holy mound. In the “Descent of Inanna to the Nether World” the Anunnaki are identified as the seven judges of the nether world.

Ereshkigal

Ereshkigal is the queen of the underworld, who is either given to Kur in the underworld or given dominion over the underworld in the prelude to “Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Underworld”. She has a palace there with seven gates and is due a visit by those entering Kur. She was married to Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven, and is Inanna‘s older sister. When Inanna trespassed on her domain, Ereshkigal first directs her gatekeeper to open the seven gates a crack and remove her garments. Then when Inanna arrives she:

…fastened on Inanna the eye of death. She spoke against her the word of wrath. She uttered against her the cry of guilt

She struck her.

Inanna was turned into a corpse, …And was hung from a hook on the wall.

Later, when Enki‘s messengers arrive, she is moaning in pain. When they empathize with her, she grants them a boon. They request Inanna’s corpse and she accedes.

Nergal (Meslamtaea)

Nergal is the second son of Enlil and Ninlil. (Kramer 1961 pp. 44-45) He is perhaps the co-ruler of Kur with Ereshkigal where he has a palace and is due reverence by those who visit. He holds Enkidu fast in the underworld after Enkidu broke several taboos while trying to recover Gilgamesh‘s pukku and mikku. He is more prominent in Babylonian literature and makes a brief appearance in II Kings 17:30.

Ninlil

Ninlil was the intended bride of Enlil and the daughter of Nunbarshegunu, the old woman of Nippur. Enlil raped her and was then banished to the nether world (kur). She follows him to the nether world, where she gives birth to the moon god Sin (also known as Nanna). They have three more children in the nether world including Meslamtaea/(Nergal) and Ninazu who remain there so that Sin may be allowed to leave. In some texts she is Enlil’s sister while Ninhursag is his bride. (Jacobsen p.105) Her chief shrine was in the Tummal district of Nippur.

Ningal

She is Nanna‘s wife and the mother of Inanna and Utu. She begs and weeps before An and Enlil < > for them not to flood her city, Ur.

Nanshe

Nanshe is a goddess of the city of Lagash who takes care of orphans and widows. She also seeks out justice for the poor and casts judgement on New Year’s Day. She is supported by Nidaba and her husband, Haia.

Nidaba

The goddess of writing and the patron deity of the edubba (palace archives). She is an assistant to Nanshe.

Ninisinna (Nininsinna)

The patron goddess of the city Isin. She is the “hierodule of An”

Ninkasi (“The Lady who fills the mouth”)

She is the goddess of brewing or alcohol born of “sparkling-fresh water”. (Kramer 1963 pp. 111, 206) She is one of the eight healing children born by Ninhursag for Enki She is born in response to Enki’s mouth pain and Ninhursag declares that she should be the goddess who “sates the heart” (Kramer 1961 p. 58) or “who satisfies desire”. (Kramer and Maier p. 30)

Ninurta

Ninurta is Enlil’s son and a warrior deity, the god of the south wind. (Kramer 1963 p. 145; Kramer 1961 p. 80) In “The Feats and Exploits of Ninurta”, that deity sets out to destroy the Kur. Kur initially intimidates Ninurta into retreating, but when Ninurta returns with greater resolve, Kur is destroyed. This looses the waters of the Abzu, causing the fields to be flooded with unclean waters. Ninurta dams up the Abzu by piling stones over Kur’s corpse. He then drains these waters into the Tigris. (Kramer 1961 pp. 80-82). The identification of Ninurta’s antagonist in this passage as Kur appears to be miscast. Black and Green identify his foe as the demon Asag, who was the spawn of An and Ki, and who produced monstrous offspring with Kur. The remainder of the details of this story are the same as in Kramer’s account, but with Asag replacing Kur. In other versions, Ninurta is replaced by Adad

Ashnan

The kindly maid. Ashnan is a grain goddess, initially living in Dulkug (Du-ku). (Kramer 1961 p. 50) Enlil and Enki, at Enki’s urging, create farms and fields for her and for the cattle god

This area has places for Lahar to take care of the animals and Ashnan to grow the crops. The two agricultural deities get drunk and begin fighting, so it falls to Enlil and Enki to resolve their conflict – how they do so has not been recovered.

Lahar

Lahar is the cattle-goddess, initially living in Duku (Dulkug). Enlil and Enki, at Enki’s urging, create farms and fields for him and the grain goddess Ashnan. This area has places for Lahar to take care of the animals and Ashnan to grow the crops. The two agricultural deities get drunk and begin fighting, so it falls to Enlil and Enki to resolve their conflict – how they do so has not been recovered.

Emesh

Created by Enlil this god is responsible for agriculture. He quarrels with his brother Enten, and makes a claim to be the ‘farmer of the gods’, bringing his claim to Enlil after Enten. When Enlil judges Enten’s claim to be stronger, Emesh relents, brings him gifts, and reconciles.

Enten

He is a farmer god, and is Enlil‘s field worker and herdsman. He quarrels with his brother Emesh and makes an appeal to Enlil that he deserves to be ‘farmer of the gods’. Enlil judges Enten’s claim to be the stronger and the two reconcile with Emesh bringing Enten gifts.

Uttu

She is the goddess of weaving and clothing and was previously thought to be the goddess of plants. She is both the child of Enki and Ninkur, and she bears eight new child/trees from Enki. When he then ate Uttu’s children, Ninhursag cursed him with eight wounds and disappears.

Enbilulu

The “knower” of rivers. He is the god appointed in charge of the Tigris and Euphrates by Enki.

Ishkur

God appointed to be in charge of the winds by Enki. He is in charge of “the silver lock of the ‘heart’ of heaven”. He is identified with the Akkadian god, Adad

Enkimdu

God placed in charge of canals and ditches by Enki. (Kramer 1961 p. 61)

Kabta

God placed in charge of the pickax and brickmold by Enki. (Kramer 1961 p. 61)

Mushdamma

God placed in charge of foundations and houses by Enki. (Kramer 1961 p. 61)

Sumugan

The god of the plain or “king of the mountain”, he is the god placed in charge of the plant and animal life on the plain of Sumer by Enki.

Demigods, mortal Heroes, and Monsters

Dumuzi (demigod) (Tammuz)

A shepherd, he is the son of Enki and Sirtur. (Wolkstein & Kramer p. 34) He is given charge of stables and sheepfolds, filled with milk and fat by Enki. (Kramer 1961 p. 62) He has a palace in Kur, and is due a visit by those entering Kur. He is Inanna‘s husband. In life, he was the shepherd king of Uruk.

“The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi” Utu tries to set Inanna up with him but she initially rebuffs him, preferring the farmer. He assures her that his parents are as good as hers and she begins to desire him. The two consummate their relationship and with their exercise in fertility, the plants and grains grow as well. After they spend time in the marriage bed, Inanna declares herself as his battle leader and sets his duties as including sitting on the throne and guiding the path of weapons. At Ninshubur’s request, she gives him power over the fertility of plants and animals. (Wolkstein and Kramer pp. 30-50)

“Descent of Inanna to the Nether World” Upon her rescue from the dead, he was pursued by galla demons, which he eluded for a time with the aid of Utu. Eventually he was caught and slain; however, he was partially freed from his stay in the underworld by the actions of his sister Geshtinanna. Now he resides there only half of the year, while she lives there the other half year; this represents seasonal change (see Inanna and Geshtinanna). (Wolkstein and Kramer pp. 71-89) (See also the Babylonian Tammuz

Geshtinanna (demigoddess)

She is Dumuzi’s sister. After his death, she visited him in the underworld with Inanna, and was allowed to take his place there for six months out of the year. Her time in the underworld and her periodic emergence from it are linked with her new divine authority over the autumn vines and wine. (see also Inanna, Dumuzi)

Ziusudra (Ziusura)

In the Sumerian version of the flood story, the pious Ziusudra of Shuruppak (Kramer 1963 p. 26), the son of Ubartutu (or of Shuruppak?) (Kramer 1963 p. 224) is informed of the gods decision to destroy mankind by listening to a wall. He weathers the deluge and wind-storms aboard a huge boat. The only surviving detail of the boat is that it had a window. The flood lasts for seven days before Utu appears dispersing the flood waters. After that, Ziusudra makes appropriate sacrifices and protrations to Utu, An and Enlil. He is given eternal life in Dilmun by An and Enlil. (Kramer 1963 pp. 163-164; Kramer 1961 pp. 97-98)

Jacobsen reports a more complete version of “The Eridu Genesis” than Kramer or Black and Green which is close to the Babylonian story of Atrahasis In this account, man had been directed to live in cities by Nintur but as they thrived, the noise irritated Enlil, who thus started the flood. In this account, Enki warns Ziusudra, instructing him to build the boat for his family and for representatives of the animals. The remainder is consistent with the accounts of Kramer and Black and Green. (Jacobsen p. 114)

Gilgamesh (demigod)

The son, either of a nomad or of the hero-king Lugalbanda and of the goddess Ninsun, Gilgamesh, may have been a historical King of Erech, during the time of the first Ur dynasty. His kingship is mentioned in various places, including the Sumerian King list and he was also an en, a spiritual head of a temple. He was also the lord of Kulab and by one account, the brother of Inanna. He was “the prince beloved of An”, (Kramer p. 260, 188) and “who performs heroic deeds for Inanna” (Kramer 1963 p. 187)

“Gilgamesh and Agga” – (Pritchard pp.44-47; Kramer 1963 pp. 187-190) King Agga of Kish sent an ultimatum to Erech. Gilgamesh tried to convince the elders that Erech should sack Kish in response, but the elders wanted to submit. He responded by taking the matter to the men of the city, who agreed to take up arms. Agga laid seige to Erech and Gilgamesh resisted with the help of his servant, Enkidu. He sent a soldier through the gate to Agga. The soldier is captured and tortured with a brief respite while another of Gilgamesh’s soldiers climbs over the wall. Gilgamesh himself then climbs the wall and Agga’s forces are so taken aback by the sight of them that Agga capitulates. Gilgamesh graciously accepts Agga’s surrender, prasing him for returning his city.

After this episode, he apparently took Nippur from the son of the founder of the Ur I dynasty.

“Gilgamesh and the Land of the Living” (Pritchard pp. 47-50, Kramer 1963 pp. 190-197) Gilgamesh, saddened by the dying he sees in his city, decides to go to the “Land of the Living” says so to Enkidu. At Enkidu’s urging, Gilgamesh makes a sacrifice and first speaks to Utu, who is in charge of that land. After he informs Utu of his motives, the god calls off his seven guardian weather heroes. Gilgamesh recruits fifty single men to accompany them and commissions swords and axes. They travel over seven mountains, felling trees along the way eventually finding the “cedar of his heart”. After some broken text Gilgamesh is in a deep sleep, presumably after an encounter with Huwawa. Enkidu or one of the others wakes him. They come upon Huwawa and Gilgamesh distracts him with flatery, then puts a nose ring on him and binds his arms. Huwawa grovels to Gilgamesh and Enkidu and Gilgamesh almost releases him. Enkidu argues against it and when Huwawa protests, he decapitates Huwawa. Gilgamesh is angered by Enkidu’s rash action.

“Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Netherworld” (Kramer 1963 p.197-205) Inanna appeals to Gilgamesh, here her brother, when her huluppu tree has been occupied and he is receptive. He tears down the tree and makes it into a throne and bed for her. In return for the favor, Inanna manufactures a pukku and mikku for him.

He leaves them out, goes to sleep and can’t find them where he left them when he awakens. They had fallen into the underworld. Enkidu asks him what is wrong and Gilgamesh asks him to retrieve them, giving him instructions on how to behave in the underworld. Enkidu enters the “Great Dwelling” through a gate, but he broke several of the underworld taboos of which Gilgamesh warned, including the wearing of clean clothes and sandals, ‘good’ oil, carrying a weapon or staff, making a noise, or behaving normally towards ones family (Kramer 1963: pp. 132-133). For these violations he was “held fast by ‘the outcry of the nether world'”. Gilgamesh appeals to Enlil, who refuses to help. Intervention by Enki, rescued the hero – or at least raised his shade for Gilgamesh to speak with.

“Gilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven” He rejects Inanna’s advances, so she sends the “Bull of Heaven” to ravage Erech in retribution. (Kramer 1963 p. 262)

“Death of Gilgamesh” (Pritchard pp. 50-52, Kramer 1963 pp. 130-131) Gilgamesh is fated by Enlil to die but also to be unmatched as a warrior. When he dies, his wife and household servants make offerings (of themselves?) for Gilgamesh to the deities of the underworld.

He is given a palace in the nether world and venerated as lesser god of the dead. It is respectful to pay him a visit upon arrival. If he knew you in life or is of your kin he may explain the rules of Kur to you – which he helps to regulate.

His son and successor was either Ur-lugal or Urnungal.

Enkidu

Gilgamesh‘s servant and friend. He assists Gilgamesh in putting back Agga’s seige of Erech.

He accompanies Gilgamesh and his soldiers on the trip to the “Land of the Living”. Probably after an initial encounter with Huwawa, Gilgamesh falls asleep and Enkidu awakens him. They come upon Huwawa and Gilgamesh distracts him with flatery, then puts a nose ring on him and binds his arms. Huwawa grovels to Gilgamesh and Enkidu and Gilgamesh almost releases him. Enkidu argues against it and when Huwawa protests, he decapitates Huwawa. Gilgamesh is angered by Enkidu’s rash action.

The main body of the Gilgamesh tale includes a trip to the nether-world. Enkidu enters the “Great Dwelling” through a gate, in order to recover Gilgamesh’s pukku and mikku, objects of an uncertain nature. He broke several taboos of the underworld, including the wearing of clean clothes and sandals, ‘good’ oil, carrying a weapon or staff, making a noise, or behaving normally towards ones family (Kramer 1963: pp. 132-133). For these violations he was “held fast by ‘the outcry of the nether world'”. Intervention by Enki, rescued the hero or at least raised his shade for Gilgamesh to speak with.

Kur

Kur literally means “mountain”, “foreign land”, or “land” and came to be identified both with the underworld and, more specifically, the area which either was contained by or contained the Abzu. (Kramer 1961 p. 76) In the prelude to “Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Underworld, Ereshkigal was carried off into the Kur as it’s prize at about the same time as An and Enlil carried off the heaven and the earth. Later in that same passage, Enki also struggled with Kur as and presumably was victorious, thereby able to claim the title “Lord of Kur” (the realm). Kramer suggests that Kur was a dragon-like creature, calling to mind Tiamat and Leviathan. The texts suggests that Enki’s struggle may have been with instruments of the land of kur – its stones or its creatures hurling stones. (Kramer 1961 p. 37-38, 78-79) (See also Apsu and Tiamat

In “The Feats and Exploits of Ninurta“, that deity sets out to destroy the Kur. Kur initially intimidates Ninurta into retreating, but when Ninurta returns with greater resolve, Kur is destroyed. This looses the waters of the Abzu, causing the fields to be flooded with unclean waters. Ninurta dams up the Abzu by piling stones over Kur’s corpse. He then drains these waters into the Tigris. (Kramer 1961 pp. 80-82). The identification of Ninurta’s antagonist in this passage as Kur appears to be miscast. Black and Green identify his foe as the demon Asag, who was the spawn of An and Ki, and who produced monstrous offspring with Kur. The remainder of the details of this story are the same as in Kramer’s account, but with Asag replacing Kur. In other versions, Ninurta is replaced by Adad “Inanna and Mt. Ebih”: Inanna is also described in Hymns as a destroyer of Kur. If one, as Kramer does, identifies Kur with Mt. Ebih, then we learn that it has directed fear against the gods, the Anunnaki and the land, sending forth rays of fire against the land. Inanna declares to An that she will attack Mt. Ebih unless it submits. An warns against such an attack, but Inanna procedes anyway and destroys it. (Kramer 1961 pp. 82-83).

Gugalanna (Gugal-ana)

He is Ereshkigal‘s husband, and according to Kramer, the Bull of Heaven. (Wolkstein and Kramer p. 55) Black and Green tentatively identify him with Ennugi, god of canals and dikes, rather than the Bull of Heaven. (Black and Green p. 77) After Gilgamesh spurned Inanna, she sends the Bull of Heaven to terrorize Erech. (Kramer 1963 p. 262)

Huwawa

Guardian of the cedar of the heart in the the “Land of the living”, Huwawa has dragon’s teeth, a lion’s face, a roar like rushing flood water, huge clawed feet and a thick mane. He lived there in a cedar house. He appears to have attacked Gilgamesh, Enkidu and company when they felled that cedar. They then come upon Huwawa and Gilgamesh distracts him with flatery, then puts a nose ring on him and binds his arms. Huwawa grovels to Gilgamesh and Enkidu and Gilgamesh almost releases him. Enkidu argues against it and when Huwawa protests, he decapitates Huwawa. See also the Babylonian Humbaba

Gods in Kur with palaces who are due reverence:

Namtar – “Fate”, the demon responsible for death. Namtar has no hands or feet and does not eat or drink. (Pritchard p. 51)

Hubishag

Ningishzida – the god of dawn

Dimpemekug – due gifts, no palace

Neti – the chief gatekeeper the scribe of Kur – due gifts, no palace

The Sumerians had many other deities as well, most of which appear to have been minor.

The Underworld

The underworld of the Sumerians is revealed, to some extent, by a composition about the death and afterlife of the king and warlord Ur-Nammu. After having died on the battlefield, Ur- Nammu arrives below, where he offers sundry gifts and sacrifices to the “seven gods” of the nether world:

Nergal, [the deified] Gilgamesh, Ereshkigal [the queen of the underworld, who is either given to Kur in the underworld or given dominion over the underworld in the prelude to Gilgamesh (Kramer & Maier 1989: p. 83) (Wolkstein & Kramer 1983: p. 4)] , Dumuzi [the shepherd, Inanna’s husband], Namtar, Hubishag, and Ningishzida – each in his own palace; he also presented gifts to Dimpimekug and to the “scribe of the nether- world.”… [After arriving at his assigned spot] …certain of the dead were turned over to him, perhaps to be his attendants, and Gilgamesh, his beloved brother, explained to him the rules and regulations of the nether world. (Kramer 1963: p. 131)

Another tablet indicates that the sun, moon, and their respective gods, spent time in the underworld as well. The sun journeyed there after setting, and the moon rested there at the end of the month. Both Utu and Nanna ”’decreed the fate’ of the dead” while there. (Kramer 1963: p. 132) Dead heroes ate bread, drank, and quenched the dead’s thirst with water. The gods of the nether world, the deceased, and his city, were prayed to for the benefit of the dead and his family.

The Sumerian version of Gilgamesh includes a trip to the nether world as well. In the prologue, Enki sails for the Kur, presumably to rescue Ereshkigal after she was given over to Kur. He is assailed by creatures with stones. The main body of the tale includes a trip to the nether world as well. Enkidu enters the “Great Dwelling” through a gate, in order to recover Gilgamesh’s pukku and mikku, objects of an uncertain nature. He broke several taboos of the underworld, including the wearing of clean clothes and sandals, ‘good’ oil, carrying a weapon or staff, making a noise, or behaving normally towards ones family (Kramer 1963: pp. 132-133). For these violations he was “held fast by ‘the outcry of the nether world'”. Intervention by Enki, rescued the hero.

When Enlil visits the nether world, he must pass by a gatekeeper, followed by a “man of the river” and a “man of the boat” – all of whom act as guardians.(Kramer 1961 pp. 45-47)

Inanna also visits Kur, which results in a myth reminiscent of the Greek seasonal story of Persephone. She sets out to witness the funeral rites of her sister-in-law Ereshkigal‘s husband Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven. She takes precaution before setting out, by telling her servant Ninshubur to seek assistance from Enlil, Nanna, or Enki at their shrines, should she not return. Inanna knocks on the outer gates of Kur and the gatekeeper, Neti, questions her. He consults with queen Ereshkigal and then allows Inanna to pass through the seven gates of the underworld. After each gate, she is required to remove adornments and articles of clothing, until after the seventh gate, she is naked. The Annuna pass judgment against her and Ereshkigal slays her and hangs her on the wall

Inanna is rescued by the intervention of Enki. He creates two sexless creatures that empathize with Ereshkigal‘s suffering, and thereby gain a gift – Inanna’s corpse. They restore her to life with the Bread of Life and the Water of Life, but the Sumerian underworld has a conservation of death law. No one can leave without providing someone to stay in their stead. Inanna is escorted by galla/demons past Ninshubur and members of her family. She doesn’t allow them to claim anyone until she sees Dumuzi on his throne in Uruk. They then seize Dumuzi, but he escapes them twice by transforming himself, with the aid of Utu. Eventually he is caught and slain. Inanna spies his sister, Geshtinanna, in mourning and they go to Dumuzi. She allows Dumuzi, the shepherd, to stay in the underworld only six months of the year, while Geshtinanna will stay the other six. As with the Greek story of the kidnapping of Persephone, this linked the changing seasons, the emergence of the plants from the ground, with the return of a harvest deity from the nether world. Although he had always been a shepherd (and possibly a mortal king) he was blessed with the powers of fertility following the consummation of his marriage to Inanna in “The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi”.

As the farmer, let him make the fields fertile, As the shepherd, let him make the sheepfolds multiply, Under his reign let there be vegetation, Under his reign let there be rich grain

Geshtinanna is also associated with growth, but where her brother rules over the spring harvested grain, she rules over the autumn harvested vines

What are the me?

Another important concept in Sumerian theology, was that of me. The me were universal decrees of divine authority. They are the invocations that spread arts, crafts, and civilization. The me were assembled by Enlil in Ekur and given to Enki to guard and impart to the world, beginning with Eridu, his center of worship. From there, he guards the me and imparts them on the people. He directs the me towards Ur and Meluhha and Dilmun, organizing the world with his decrees. Later, Inanna comes to Enki and complains at having been given too little power from his decrees. In a different text, she gets Enki drunk and he grants her more powers, arts, crafts, and attributes – a total of ninety-four me. Inanna parts company with Enki to deliver the me to her cult center at Erech. Enki recovers his wits and tries to recover the me from her, but she arrives safely in Erech with them.

Biblical parallels in Sumerian literature.

Traces of Sumerian religion survive today and are reflected in writings of the Bible. As late as Ezekiel, there is mention of a Sumerian deity. In Ezekiel 8:14 the prophet sees women of Israel weeping for Tammuz (Dumuzi) during a drought.

The bulk of Sumerian parallels can, however be found much earlier, in the book of Genesis. As in Genesis, the Sumerians’ world is formed out of the watery abyss and the heavens and earth are divinely separated from one another by a solid dome. The second chapter of Genesis introduces the paradise Eden, a place which is similar to the Sumerian Dilmun, described in the myth of “Enki and Ninhursag“. Dilmun is a pure, bright, and holy land – now often identified with Bahrain in the Persian Gulf.

It is blessed by Enki to have overflowing, sweet water. Enki fills it with lagoons and palm trees. He impregnates Ninhursag and causes eight new plants to grow from the earth. Eden, “in the East” (Gen. 2:8 has a river which also “rises” or overflows, to form four rivers including the Tigris and Euphrates. It too is lush and has fruit bearing trees. (Gen. 2:9-10 In the second version of the creation of man “The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.” Enki and Ninmah (Ninhursag) use a similar method in creating man. Nammu, queen of the abyss and Enki’s mother, bids Enki to “Kneed the ‘heart’ of the clay that is over the Abzu ” and “give it form” From there the similarities cease as the two create several malformed humans and then the two deities get into an argument.

Returning to Enki and Ninhursag, we find a possible parallel to the creation of Eve. Enki consumed the plants that were Ninhursag’s children and so was cursed by Ninhursag, receiving one wound for each plant consumed. Enlil and a fox act on Enki’s behalf to call back Ninhursag in order to undo the damage. She joins with him again and bears eight new children, each of whom are the cure to one of his wounds. The one who cures his rib is named Ninti, whose name means the Queen of months, pp. 28-30) the lady of the rib, or she who makes live. This association carries over to Eve. History Begins at Sumer 1981: pp. 143-144) In Genesis, Eve is fashioned from Adam’s rib and her name hawwa is related to the Hebrew word hay or living. (New American Bible p. 7.) The prologue of “Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Underworld” may contain the predecessor to the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This tree not only contains a crafty serpent, but also Lilith the legendary first wife of Adam. The huluppu tree is transplanted by Inanna from the banks of the Euphrates to her garden in Uruk, where she finds that:

…a serpent who could not be charmed made its nest in the roots of the tree, The bird set his young in the branches of the tree, And the dark maid Lilith built her home in the trunk.

It should be noted that Kramer’s interpretation that this creature is Lilith has come into quiestion of late

Another possible Sumerian carry-over related to the Fall of man is the lack of “pangs of childbearing” for those in Dilmun. In particular, Ninhursag gives birth in nine days, not nine months, and the pass “like good princely cream” (Kramer 1981: p. 142,145) or “fine oil”

The quarrels between herder god and farmer deity pairs such as Lahar and Ashnan or Enten and Emesh are similar in some respects to the quarrels of Cain and Abel. In the Sumerian versions death appears to be avoided, although we do not have the complete Lahar and Ashnan story. (Kramer 1961 pp. 49-51, 53-54)

The ten patriarchs in Genesis born prior to the flood lived very long lives, most in excess of 900 years. The seventh patriarch, Enoch, lived only 365 years before he “walked with God”. (Genesis 5). The account which numbers those Patriarchs as ten is attributed to the Priestly source. The Yahwist source (J), details only seven Patriarchs prior to Noah, so that with him included, there are eight antediluvian patriarchs. (Genesis 4: 17-18) The eight antediluvian kings of in the Sumerian King List also lived for hundreds of years. (Kramer 1963 p. 328) S. H. Hooke notes another version of the Sumerian King list, found in Larsa details ten antediluvian kings. (Hooke, p. 130) The clearest Biblical parallel comes from the story of the Flood. In the Sumerian version, the pious Ziusudra is informed of the gods decision to destroy mankind by listening to a wall. He too weathers the deluge aboard a huge boat. Noah’s flood lasts a long time, but Ziusudra comes to rest within seven days and not the near year of the Bible. He does not receive a covenant, but is given eternal life. (Kramer 1963 pp. 163-164; Kramer 1961 pp. 97-98)

As far as the New Testament goes, many also draw a parallel between Dumuzi and Jesus because Dumuzi is a shepherd-king and he is resurrected from the dead. This is perhaps appealing to some as Dumuzi’s Akkadian analog, Tammuz, appears in the Bible, however Dumuzi’s periodic return from the underworld is not unique even in Sumerian literature. His sister Geshtinanna also rises from the dead, and if one counts those born as deities, Inanna does as well. Periodic death and rebirth is a common theme in agricultural myths where the return of the deities from the earth mirrors a return to life of plants.

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Greek Major gods and goddesses

Aphrodite (Ἀφροδίτη, Aphroditē)

Goddess of beauty, love, desire, and pleasure. Although married to Hephaestus she had many lovers, most notably Ares, Adonis, and Anchises. She was depicted as an extraordinarily beautiful woman, with poets praising the radiance of her smile in particular. Her symbols include roses and other flowers, the scallop shell, and the myrtle wreath. Her sacred animals include doves and sparrows.

Apollo (Ἀπόλλων, Apóllōn)

God of music, arts, knowledge, healing, plague, prophecy, poetry, manly beauty, and archery. He is the son of Zeus and Leto, and the twin brother of Artemis. Both Apollo and Artemis use a bow and arrow. Apollo is often incorrectly identified as the god of the sun. Although Apollo is the god of the sun in Roman mythology, Helios is the god of the sun in Greek mythology. In sculpture, Apollo is depicted as a very handsome, beardless young man with long hair and an ideal physique. As the embodiment of perfectionism, he could be cruel and destructive, and his love affairs were rarely happy. He often appears in the company of the Muses. His attributes include the laurel wreath and lyre. His sacred animals include roe deer, swans, cicadas, hawks, ravens, crows, foxes, mice, and snakes.

Ares (Ἄρης, Árēs)

God of war, bloodshed, and violence. The son of Zeus and Hera, he was depicted as a beardless youth, either nude with a helmet and spear or sword, or as an armed warrior. Homer portrays him as moody and unreliable, and he generally represents the chaos of war in contrast to Athena, a goddess of military strategy and skill. Ares is known for cuckolding his brother Hephaestus and conducting an affair with Aphrodite. His sacred animals include vultures, venomous snakes, dogs, and boars.

Artemis (Ἄρτεμις, Ártemis)

Virgin goddess of the hunt, wilderness, animals, young girls, childbirth, and plague. In later times Artemis became associated with bows and arrows. She is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and twin sister of Apollo. In art she is often depicted as a young woman dressed in a short knee-length chiton and equipped with a hunting bow and a quiver of arrows. Her attributes include hunting spears, animal pelts, deer and other wild animals. Her sacred animals include deer, bears, and wild boars.

Athena (Ἀθηνᾶ, Athēnâ)

Goddess of reason, wisdom, intelligence, skill, peace, warfare, battle strategy, and handicrafts. According to most traditions, she was born from Zeus’s forehead, fully formed and armored. She is depicted as being crowned with a crested helm, armed with shield and spear, and wearing the aegis over a long dress. Poets describe her as “grey-eyed” or having especially bright, keen eyes. She is a special patron of heroes such as Odysseus. She is the patron of the city Athens (which was named after her) and is attributed to various inventions in arts and literature. Her symbol is the olive tree. She is commonly shown as being accompanied by her sacred animal, the owl.

Demeter (Δημήτηρ, Dēmētēr)

Goddess of grain, agriculture, harvest, growth, and nourishment. Demeter is a daughter of Cronus and Rhea, and a sister of Zeus, by whom she bore Persephone. Demeter is one of the main deities of the Eleusinian Mysteries, in which her power over the life cycle of plants symbolizes the passage of the human soul through life and into the afterlife. She is depicted as a mature woman, often crowned and holding sheafs of wheat and a torch. Her symbols are the cornucopia, wheat-ears, the winged serpent, and the lotus staff. Her sacred animals include pigs and snakes.

Dionysus (Διόνυσος, Diónysos)/Bacchus (Βάκχος, Bákkhos)

God of wine, fruitfulness, parties, festivals, madness, chaos, drunkenness, vegetation, and ecstasy. In art he is depicted as either an older bearded god or an effeminate, long-haired youth. His attributes include the thyrsus, a drinking cup, the grape vine, and a crown of ivy. He is often in the company of his thiasos, a group of attendants including satyrs, maenads, and his old tutor Silenus. The consort of Dionysus was Ariadne. His sacred animals include dolphins, serpents, tigers, and donkeys. A later addition to the Olympians, in some accounts he replaced Hestia. Bacchus was another name for him in Greek, and came into common usage among the Romans.

Hades (ᾍδης, Hádēs)/Pluto (Πλούτων, Ploutōn)

King of the underworld and the dead. His consort is Persephone. His attributes are the drinking horn or cornucopia, key, sceptre, and the three-headed dog Cerberus. His sacred animals include the screech owl. He was one of three sons of Cronus and Rhea, and thus sovereign over one of the three realms of the universe, the underworld. As a chthonic god, however, his place among the Olympians is ambiguous. In the mystery religions and Athenian literature, Pluto (“the Rich”) was his preferred name, with Hades referring to the underworld itself.

Hephaestus (Ἥφαιστος, Hḗphaistos)

God of fire, metalworking, and crafts. Either the son of Zeus and Hera or Hera alone, he is the smith of the gods and the husband of the adulterous Aphrodite. He was usually depicted as a bearded, crippled man with hammer, tongs, and anvil, and sometimes riding a donkey. His sacred animals include the donkey, the guard dog, and the crane. Among his creations was the armor of Achilles. Hephaestus used the fire of the forge as a creative force, but his Roman counterpart Vulcan was feared for his destructive potential and associated with the volcanic power of the earth.

Hera (Ἥρα, Hḗra)

Queen of the gods, and goddess of marriage, women, childbirth, heirs, kings, and empires. She is the wife and sister of Zeus, and the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. She was usually depicted as a regal woman in the prime of her life, wearing a diadem and veil and holding a lotus-tipped staff. Although she is the goddess of marriage, Zeus’s many infidelities drive her to jealousy and vengefulness. Her sacred animals include the heifer, the peacock, and the cuckoo.

Hermes (Ἑρμῆς, Hērmēs)

God of boundaries, travel, communication, trade, language, and writing. The son of Zeus and Maia, Hermes is the messenger of the gods, and a psychopomp who leads the souls of the dead into the afterlife. He was depicted either as a handsome and athletic beardless youth, or as an older bearded man. His attributes include the herald’s wand or caduceus, winged sandals, and a traveler’s cap. His sacred animals include the tortoise.

Hestia (Ἑστία, Hestía)

Virgin goddess of the hearth, home, and chastity. She is a daughter of Rhea and Cronus, and a sister of Zeus. Not often identifiable in Greek art, she appeared as a modestly veiled woman. Her symbols are the hearth and kettle. In some accounts, she gave up her seat as one of the Twelve Olympians in favor of Dionysus, and she plays little role in Greek myths.

Poseidon (Ποσειδῶν, Poseidōn)

God of the sea, rivers, floods, droughts, and earthquakes. He is a son of Cronus and Rhea, and the brother of Zeus and Hades. He rules one of the three realms of the universe, as king of the sea and the waters. In art he is depicted as a mature man of sturdy build, often with a luxuriant beard, and holding a trident. His sacred animals include the horse and the dolphin. His wedding with Amphitrite is often presented as a triumphal procession. In some stories he rapes Medusa, leading to her transformation into a hideous Gorgon and also to the birth of their two children, Pegasus and Chrysaor.

Zeus (Ζεύς, Zeus)

King of the gods, ruler of Mount Olympus, and god of the sky, weather, thunder, lightning, law, order, and justice. He is the youngest son of Cronus and Rhea. He overthrew Cronus and gained the sovereignty of heaven for himself. In art he is depicted as a regal, mature man with a sturdy figure and dark beard. His usual attributes are the royal scepter and the lightning bolt. His sacred animals include the eagle and the bull.

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