Monthly Archives: May 2011

God of the Week: Ninhursag

It’s time for a goddess. I can’t believe that the folks at Gilgamesh Press have just focused on interviewing gods. I mean, they’re gods. They’re men. They’re boring.

I, on the other hand, am much more interesting. It’s hard not to be, when you are one of the seven great deities of Sumer and a fertility goddess. And no matter what anyone says, fertility goddesses know how to have a good time, if you understand my meaning.

Who am I? Name is Ninhursag.

I had a few titles, as well as husbands, but that’s neither here nor there.

What? I have to list them?

Well, I was known as the Great Lady of Heaven, Lady of the Mountain, Great Queen, Lady of Birth and so forth, and I was married to at least EnKi, the misogynistic a***hole, although he claims to love women.

Fashion was different back when I was a leading lady of the heavens. Horned headdresses and tiered skirts were all the rage, as were weapons. I used to have a quiver slung over my shoulder for effect, although I did know how to use it. EnKi can vouch for that. Damn gods and their regenerative abilities. For a while, I even had a little lion cub I walked around, like the Tinkerbell of today.

I had a few children as well, as is required of a fertility goddess. One must prove one is capable, naturally. Ninurta and Ninsar are two of my children who you may have heard of, although there were many more. Ninsar wasn’t always the brightest, and fell for the charms of her own father. I can’t believe I forgave EnKi for that. But divorce is a wonderful thing.

I was also involved in the creation of humankind, although the reality isn’t quite the picture painted by the myths (let’s say I didn’t just watch EnKi uncover the heads of the humans in soil using a hoe, or watch as Nammu made you all from clay).

But that’s a whole different story, and one I can’t be bothered telling right now. It’s time to go out and be fertile and whatnot.

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God of the Week: Kingu

These are the last words I will ever inscribe upon clay.

My fellow god, Marduk, wants my head. I do not intend to allow him to take it.

This whole debacle began many, many moons ago and will hopefully end soon. My bride, Tiamat, swears this shall be so. I am her second love, but I like to believe I am her favourite love. She is my heart and soul, and I wear her affection upon me like armour; it protects me from those in my army who wish me harm.

My army. My crumbling ruin of gods.

I never thought I would command an army of gods, but Tiamat’s love has seen me rise high in the world, just as it has seen me come close to death. Upon my bronze breastplate, I have had the three Tablets of Destiny affixed. They make me stronger, faster and perhaps even a bit smarter. Most of all, they make me King.

These tablets are what I must protect; they are of greater import than even my own life. It is why I plan to do the shameful thing and run. Run for my life, run for my Queen, and most importantly, run for my kingdom.

If I survive this flight and war, I shall come back and destroy this clay and its scratchings. My last words shall never be read, and hopefully, I will inscribe many more.

Lover of Queen Tiamat,

Kingu

Addendum: My name is Marduk. Kingu is dead by my hand. From his blood, a new race of creatures has sprung. They are servants to us. Humans, we call them. May his name forever be associated with those who are less than gods.

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God of the Week: EnKi

EnKi doesn’t seem like the kind of god who would keep you waiting, but he is. As I was twirling my thumbs, killing time, I sat down to read a bit about his life. He’s done a lot. Of women, that is.

If you thought Anu might have been a playboy, he doesn’t have diddly squat on EnKi. EnKi was a craftsman god, a water god (seawater, lakewater and ordinary water), god of intelligence, creation and mischief, and was also known as Lord of the Earth. In his role as a fresh water deity, he may also have been a god of semen, as Ab (the Mesopotamian word for it) meant both. Told you he was a bit of a gigolo.

In one Sumerian myth, EnKi married Ninhursag and lived with her in paradise (sound familiar?). This place was waterless though, so EnKi pulled a few strings and voila! Water. In true god-like style, he knocked up Ninhursag and she gave birth to a daughter, Ninsar. Ninhursag eventually left EnKi, and EnKi met Ninsar, but he didn’t realize she was his daughter, and did the horizontal tango with her, creating the goddess Ninkurra. Not happy with one lot of accidental incest, EnKi finds Ninkurra and has a bit of naughty fun, producing Uttu. Uttu isn’t cool with her daddy/granddaddy’s reputation and so asks around for more information, and rejects him.

To surmise: Enki marries Ninhursag, begets Ninsar. Has nookie with Ninsar, begets Ninkurra. Gets jiggy with Ninkurra, begets Uttu. Tries to get past third base with Uttu, gets knocked back.

Go Uttu!

Back to the present: EnKi has finally arrived, looking naturally dashing with his long beard and pointy hat. Apparently it’s all the rage in Godland.

A: Hi EnKi, lovely to meet you. No, no, I’m fine on this side of the table. So, I was just reading about your time in Dilmun and the goings on there. One myth says you didn’t get past Uttu’s, uh, barrier, another says you did impregnate her, but Ninhursag took your seed. Which one was it?

EnKi: I never kiss and tell. But, seriously, Ninny forgave me in the end and we had lots more kids. Although I’m single now…

(Note: EnKi has a bit of a creepy stare.)

A: So … you and your parents had a bit of a tumultuous relationship. Myth says you pretty much stayed out of the way near the end of their lives, is that true?

EnKi: Well, I was asleep when all the patricide occurred. Hangover from HELL, I tell you.

A: Legend says your son, Marduk, was pivotal in the creation of Mankind. What do you say about that?

EnKi: Pfft. No. I wanted some servants. Gods don’t due servitude well. So me and a few others pulled some heads strings. Poor Kingu, his death was a great loss, but we made humans from his blood, so he still lives on. Kinda.

(If you want to find more about Kingu, do a quick Google).

A: You’ve always liked humanity. Didn’t you save us from a flood?

EnKi: (shrugs) No point in having servants if they’re all dead.

A: You were meant to be the keeper of the Me, the treasures of civilization, right? Rumour has it you got drunk and Ishtar took them. Is it true?

EnKi: Ishtar always was a cunning little thing. And violent. And nasty. Did you hear about what she did to Tammuz? Anyway, I “might” have gotten a bit drunk one night and she “might” have stolen them. But, when she had to be saved from her death goddess sister, Ereshkigal, guess who helped her out? Yeah, you know it, babe. So I did a little trading, but the myths don’t say that. Let me tell you, I know where the Me are nowadays, and they aren’t with Ishtar.

(Note: More about Tammuz on a different day … today is all about EnKi, he insisted).

A: Thanks for your time EnKi. It was a pleasure meeting you.

EnKi: (winks) You haven’t experienced pleasure yet. Want a drink?

A: Uh, no thanks.

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God of the Week: Anu

I’ve been told to apologise for the delay in posting this. Apparently, the flu and a writing convention can delay these things. Not my fault, I had this ready eons ago.

Humans.

Now, I have been told that this ‘blog series’ is designed to let you know more about me. No? More about Mesopotamian gods? Right. Same thing, really.

I don’t know why I need to introduce myself, but I have been told that is necessary. My name is Anu, or An, and I’m the King of the Gods. You may call me ‘Your Excellency’ – I think that is the appropriate modern term.

Back in the good old days – what? That is a cliché? Back when I was revered, I was known as the King of the Akkadian and Babylonian pantheons. There are many creation myths about how and where my wonderful self arose, and I’ll summarise them for you, because that is the point of this exercise, I’m told.

Probably the best preserved creation myth is the Enuma Elish. For those of you who haven’t read this tale – and you should have – I was born to Tiamat and Apsu. They were the gods of salt water and sweet water. Very primordial, and quite demanding parents, as early gods often are. My siblings were a noisy group, always carrying on and disturbing the heavens. So much so that Father wanted to have them ‘quietened’. Yes, that meant that Father wanted us dead. ALL of us. Which I found to be highly unfair, but gods aren’t meant to be fair.

At least I survived the infanticide attempt. That was because my brother, EnKi, decided to take all the glory. But he’s not really worth talking about, this is meant to be about me.

In other myths, I was born to Anshar and Kishar, who were the children of Lahamu and Lahmu, who were in turn the offspring of Tiamat and Apsu. A weighty family tree, which is fitting.

I won’t tell you which one is true, because I don’t think its good for humans to be given answers. Let you work it our for yourselves.

Moving on…

I lived in the highest of heavens. We used to call it the On-High, and it was separated into three strips: Enlil, Anu and EnKi. Again, my rotting brother was given precedence, but it is of no matter here. These vertical segments were also divided into three levels. The highest was mine, as was fitting, since I am a sky god.  I had dominion over all beneath me: spirits, other gods and demons.

I was also a ladies’ man, and who could blame me? I had several queens and lovers, and while I don’t like to name names, I will. So…some of the wonderful women who slipped in and out of my bed life were Ki (earth), Nammu, Uras, and perhaps even Ishtar. I don’t really want to confirm the latter – Ishtar isn’t known to be forgiving, but then, she wouldn’t like not being mentioned either. Pesky goddess.

Suffice to say, with my popularity, I was also a father. Many times over. I sired an entire group of divinities called the Annuna gods, who may have been both underworld and celestial deities (of which there were at least 300). Ahh, those were the times.

Back then, I was a busy man.

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