A favorite picture of the Divine Feminine, Mesopotamian style.
She is also remarkably modern in Her looks.
Mesopotamia and its legacy of passionate, human-like goddesses and gods, sacred kings and learned priestesses has been a wondrous gift, both life-changing and an adventurous Quest for self-tanscendence and discoveries to me. What moved me towards Mesopotamia almost by accident (although we know these things do not really happen by chance, guided they are by the Inner Realms) was the search for the passionate and assertive feminine that reflected a sense of self in all worlds and at the same time interacted with the male of the species with lots of love and laughter. Why so? Because the Divine Feminine and Masculine are the two sides of the same coin, and One cannot be separated or alienated from each other. I say that this Quest was almost by accident because until a couple of years back my knowledge of Mesopotamia was reduced to the Hanging Gardens and the Code of Hammurabi, i.e. I knew what everyone knew, or almost nothing, of this fantastic civilisation.
For at least five years now I have read and worked deeply with Mesopotamian mythology and religion. The study, nevertheless, was focused from the start, because at that point I had already some training in High Magic, having been initiated and ordained priestess of Inanna and later consecrated priestess hierophant by two world class Celtic scholars and mystics, Caitlin and John Matthews. I think the world, the stars and the universe of them, and could not have asked the gods for more brilliant companions along the path.
Basically, as far as Mesopotamia is concerned, I started reading everything I could find on Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian literature, culture and history. Books were my first gateway, because about five years ago the Internet was incipient, and they were the only sources available to me. I canīt help smiling when I think that many times money was spent on books and not on food for the body. At that time I was a student, very, very broke. Enforced vow of poverty for modern initiates perhaps? The fact was that I donīt regret having been so poor. I had Magick, my PhD and the Mysteries, so felt very rich despite the very basic conditions I lived in for a time. I made time to study Magick and practice it to the fullest at least for two hours a day. This means that I started the day with magick, writing up furiously, and finished the day with it as well, normally with very charged meditations. PhD research was carried out in between, and nothing like a technical topic such as Information Science to ground a novice in training!
Very intuitively first, although always with a strong basis of mythology, comparative religion, history, Junguian Psychology and archaeology, I started weaving the threads of High Magical Arts and Alchemy to retrieve the religious legacy of Ancient Mesopotamia here and now. The technique I have always used from the start in my magickal training is described by Junguian analyst Marie-Louise von Franz as imaginatio vera, or true imagination. Medieval alchemists used it, and it consists in living a myth by placing oneself on the shoes of the most difficult character, in an attempt to heal the character and the myth itself. I came to it intuitively as well, via the Tarot. Very simply, I said to myself that I was going to "meet the High Beings of my Tarot pack and see what They had to teach me". At that time I knew almost nothing of meditation, visualisation, creative imagination etc., so all these age-old techniques came to me very naturally. Today I am convinced this technique has a much older and nobler tradition that go way back in time to the mystics of the olden days, who in the course of many starry or moonless nights started wondering about other befores and contacted the Everlasting Spirit for 10,000 answers and more.
In the last five years I have used this technique mostly to try and understand the great myths of Ancient Mesopotamia. How do I work? Basically, by attempting to heal the most difficut characters of a myth or by attempting to solve the riddle contained in the sacred narrative one heals oneself too. It is both a carefully researched and intuitive process, because it starts with learning the text almost by heart, placing it in its historical context. This means that one has to study the time and events that constitute the background to the sacred story before learning the text almost by heart. Names, places, their origins and connections should be carefully studied and understdood first of all. The second and fundamental stage is to allow time for the mind to establish the right connections, i.e. through meditation and visualisation it is possible to dive into the essence of the myth so that the words become a living force within to be manifested without. The imagery must be as much as possible faithful to the context. Then it is just wait for the signs that do manifest in real life. The healing, as I like to call it, occurs out of the blue after some time, because it comes from deep insight. Many times it also comes with tears. But wisdom is the smile beyond the tears, and I prefer to know always, no matter how hard truth can be most of the times. I never know who long it will take me to work with a myth. A month at least, but I have practically lived with Gilgamesh for three months. Others, like Nanna and Ningal, were quite easy to do: less than a week.
In this series of essays that follow, the myths of gods and goddesses of Mesopotamia will be introduced as ancient mirrors of masculine and feminine wholeness. Before I proceed, I would like to introduce the Junguian concept of archetypes, or fundamental thought forms that are common to the whole humankind, independent from time and space. We will see that Mesopotamian gods and goddesses belong to the eternal, and that they show us views of femininity and masculinity that are so vibrant and full of life that should be better known and experienced. Why so?
Firstly, the Mesopotamians, our soul ancestors, have much to enlighten us about our present and past. For those of you who may rightly wonder why do these olden things matter to us, here and now, I ask: what is the future, but the Divine Child of our Past, nurtured by our deeds of present days, here and now and in all worlds we dare to fare? There is an unbroken thread of soul connection linking us to the past, to the first DNA of Be-Coming, the Seed of God/dess we carry within and share with all the living. But how can we connect with these ancestors of our soul here? How can they be present and yet very much gone from our time and space, how can they teach us turths of the olden days which to us will seem sometimes fresh and new?
To better understand men and women of our past, it is important to listen to their true voices, as they manifested in joy and sorrow, reflecting their struggles and aspirations, deeds, imperfections and vibrant passions. Where to go for such insights? To the sacred stories that moulded their times, to the experience of the Divine they made their own for the specific moments of their historical existence in time. Thus, I kindly invite you to have a look at the gods and goddesses of Ancient Mesopotamia, the male and female models of wholeness and holyness that reflected the summit of the human experience of being man and woman in that region, space and time. For in Mesopotamia, gods and goddesses were very human and yet divine, passionate and wise, foolish and capable of great deeds, honourable acts and unbound courage which went beyond the experience of death. For gods did die in Mesopotamia, and resurfaced to the Worlds Above, were they worthy of such an enormous deed. Perhaps the most complete and famous myth of resurrection of ancient times was not of a god, but of a Sumerian Goddess, called Inanna, the Great Goddess of Love and War. She who is the Lover and the Beloved united as One, the Vision of Humanity in Triumph that Overcomes all deaths, Inanna/Ishtar, descended to meet her sister Ereshkigal, the Goddess of the Underworld, and there knew physical death to resurface to the Heights Above three days afterwards as the One who is Reborn. Thus, Things Religious in Mesopotamia also teach us that the god or goddess may die... but never Their Spirit, who, like a drumbeat, echoes forever after within our hearts, in our very souls... As an example of what Iīve just said, wasnīt our beloved Babylon created from the body of Great Tiamat, the Dragoness, who was defeated by Marduk in a mortal combat, he who is the first hero and dragoness slayer?
Secondly, what I intend to show in the series that follows is where myth and real historical information dance and play to illustrate the lives and values of our Mesopotamian soul ancestors. Through myth and poetry, it is possible to catch glimpses of the values that oriented Mesopotamian society, of the inner fabric that wove the pattern of the outer manifestations we have in clay tablets, mounds and stone. Our soul ancestors, the ancient gods and their human counterparts, or men and women who interacted with the Divine in sacred storytelling are mirrors of wholeness and holiness that still have a lot to teach us here and now.
Pay attention to what I have just said: mirrors of wholeness and holiness, not perfection. Wholeness is different from perfection. To attempt to be whole is to attempt to explore different modes of being, one completing the other, like a chaleidoscope, always changing and yet never losing its charm and power to engender and recreate itself. To attempt to be perfect can be a very tiring and frustrating experience, it requires aims which can be hard to achieve, it demands merciless self-evaluation and may lead to feelings of power/lessness towards the others. To make something holy is to make this something super special. Mesopotamian gods and goddesses and the men and women who related to them can still be seen as mirrors of wholeness and holiness, and through their great myths we can experience the highs and lows of being truly human and yet searching for the Transcendent. Because by the Duranki, or the Bond of Heaven and Earth, the gods are bound to humankind and humankind bound to the gods to complete for them and with them the workings of Existence, ever changing and evolving, and this in modern jargon is called Evolution.
For those who may think this may be a too positive attitude towards our soul ancestors which are not described so positively in the literature, I gleefully agree and say that I intend to turn the tables round and contradict some of these very negative assumptions. Why so?
A great deal of healing is needed to understand the Mesopotamians through their own words and not through the terminology of well-meaning scholars in the literature who many times included the biases of their own time and morals into their accounts of the glory that was Sumer, Babylon and Assyria. The large majority of terms that reached us today and were used by scholars is a product of translation and interpretation. The original words and their real meanings are yet to be fully understood by our late 20th century ears. Mesopotamians, in special, received the weigh of derogatory criticism from cultures that assimilated the best of their stories and worldview, but chose to ignore their sources, i.e. Judaism, Persians, etc. Take the word high priestess or hierodule of heavens, the High Priestess of Inanna/Ishtar in Uruk, for example, two words that describe women of religious and secular power, knowledge and (please please donīt blush) sexually and sacredly assertive and active, but not promiscuous. As far as my knowledge goes, I am unable to find a synonym that approaches the concept of what a high priestess really meant in our modern day dictionaries and thesauri. Which is certainly a very sad sign of the spiritual impoverishment of our high tech times.
Remember: we should look at our soul ancestors, the Mesopotamians, not because we want to be like them, but because by diving into the essence of what made them be the most passionate, technology-oriented and mystical of all ancient traditions, we can perhaps inflame our hearts, minds, bodies and souls with the Immortal Fire that guided them, and is still at our reach here and now, to guide our Life Quests in all worlds we dare to thread upon.
Enki/Ea, the Mesopotamian Alchemist, Shaman and friend of Humankind: my personal god.
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