Myth about love in Dilmun, the Sumerian Paradise, with no expulsion in sight! Again, we turn to charming Enki and bossy Ninhursag in Dilmun, where impossibilites are war, violence, death and harm. This myth also stands in direct opposition to its Paradise counterpart of the Old Testament Bible, and I will do my best for you to enjoy the ride!
After Time had come into being and the seasons for growth and rest were known, Dilmun, the garden of the Gods and Earthly paradise, was the place where Ninhursag-Ki, the Earth Mother, could be found. There she lived when the Earth lay deep in slumber before the onset of Spring, and it was in Dilmun that Enki, the god of Magic and the Sweet Waters, the Patron of Crafts and Skills, met, fell in love and lied with Ninhursag-Ki.
So profoundly in love was Enki that he proposed to Ninhursag. Love many times they made, and nine days later, without the slightest labour or pain (what a difference from the later poor daughters of Eve!), Ninhursag-Ki gave birth to a lovely girl called Ninsar, the Goddess of Vegetation. To oversee the growth of the rest of the Physical World, nine days later Ninhursag leaves the girl in Dilmun. Ninsar is now a graceful woman, very much like her mother perhaps? Most probably, because in Ninhursag´s absence, Enki meets Ninsar and... falls in love with her at first sight! Curious and eager to experience all flesh´s delights, the young goddess yielded to the Sweet Waters Lord, and together they made wild love.
But when morning came, Enki saw that Ninsar was but a pale portrait of his true heart´s desire. He stayed though with her for a while, because he knew his seed could be in her womb, and as before, in the ninth day, without the slightest labour or pain, Ninsar gave birth to Ninkurra, another girl-child, the future goddess of Mountain Pastures.
Again, Enki rejoiced at Ninkurra's loveliness, but his heart was not Ninsar´s, and so he left. Ninsar grieved, but in time healed while keeping a watchful eye on Ninkurra, who, like herself, grew in record time. Lovely Ninkurra demonstrated enormous energy by climbing the highest heights.This way Ninkurra, the Goddess of Mountain Pastures grew safe from all hatred or harm.
Another nine days passed by, and as Ninkurra played at a mountain top, curiosity led her to explore a well that surfaced out of the blue to water the greens and wild flowers she had just made grow. To her surprise, the well took the shape of a handsome god, who introduced himself to her as Enki the Sweet Waters Lord.
Enki looked at Ninkurra's young face, and desired the maiden's embrace. Ninkurra, who had lived a sheltered life at the mountain heights, was fully bewitched by the easy charm of the older god. Thus she joyously yielded to him and love they made for nine days and nine nights. As before, Enki left Ninsar after nine days, when Ninkurra gave birth to another lovely girl-child called Uttu, the Spider, the Weaver of Patterns and Life Desires.
By then, Ninhursag had returned to Dilmun. The Great Lady frowned at the sadness of Ninsar's and Ninkurra's eyes, and Enki's unbridled lust. She strongly advised young Uttu to avoid the riverbanks, or the places where Enki and herself could be found alone or unchaperoned.
For a time young Uttu did follow the Great Lady's advice and kept her distance from Enki's lusty sight. But one day Enki's desire won the young goddess' heart, when he brought to her delicacies from the garden of delights. Then Uttu surrendered and opened herself to welcome Enki, and he embraced her, lying in her lap content and happy. Loving strokes, kisses and hugs they shared, until Enki's seed found its way to Uttu's yet untried womb.
Uttu also perceived soon she was not the one to hold captive the Sweet Waters Lord, swallowed stubborn tears and turned to Ninhursag, who said she should wipe out Enki's seed off her body, and bury it within the depths of the Earth, so that the Earth could receive and transform hers and Enki´s seed. And out of the depths of the earth, where Utu had buried the seed, eight plants came out, the first seeds of all Plant creatures and Bush greens.
After a time, Enki returned. He was in the company of the two-faced god Isimud, his vizier. Both saw the luscious plants, and Enki, as you may now guess, desired the fruits and... devoured them all! Thus, who is the greedy one in this myth? Enki, a male god, who is turned into Eve of tame ways in the Old Testament Bible! Back to the myth: this time though Ninhursag was angered beyound measure by Enki´s attitude of taking over everyone´s hearts essence, maidens and plants alike, without showing proper deference and care afterwards. She cast the eye of death in him and retired, nowhere to be seen.
Enki´s health began to fail. A strange illness this was: eight organs of his body fell progressively ill and started to die in Enki's living body. The Anunnaki, the Great Gods, were disconsolate with Enki's suffering. Only Ninhursag could not be found anywhere, and she was the only one who could heal him, while Enki's health deteriorated little by little day after day. Enlil, the Air God, was particularly more distressed, and it was to him that a fox, sacred to Ninhursag, appeared and promissed him to bring the Great Lady back to accomplish Enki´s healing.
Ninhursag relented and came running to Enki's aid. She went straight to the chamber where Enki laid in agony, with immense tenderness carefully placing Enki's head on her vagina. She then leaned forward and wrapped herself, arms, legs, breasts around the body of the Sweet Waters Lord. Enki was this way lovingly embraced by the Great Lady, kept safe and protected by her warmth, and arms that felt strong yet very sweet. Like a nurturing womb, Ninhursag-Ki wrapped herself around the Sweet Waters god. Then, she asked Enki which parts of his body hurt, and as he answered, she absorbed the pain and hurt into her body and gave birth to eight gods, four gods and four goddesses, corresponding to the eight sick parts of Enki´s body, who is then restablished in health and vitality. Indeed, what happens is that Enki is then reborn from Ninhursag´s ministrations, as well as eight other deities to ensoul all worlds. The tablet finishes here.
On to some questions now that could have been raised: how could Enki get ill in Paradise? He got ill because he had made of paradise a hell for some of the living there, pure and simple! But he did not die, and how could he??? But suffered just a bit!
Now, let´s see the reversal the Hebrews did of this charming myth in their own Genesis story. Because one of the great pleasures of studying Sumerian myths is exactly to trace resemblances and parallels between Sumerian and Biblical motifs. Sumerians could not have inflluenced the Hebrews directly, for they had ceased to exist long before the Hebrew people came into existence. But there is little doubt that the Sumerians deeply influenced the Canaanites, who preceded the Hebrews in the land later known as Palestine' (Kramer, Samuel Noah, History Begins at Sumer, The Pennsylvania University Press,1981:142). Some comparisons with the Bible paradise story that are described in this myth
1) the idea of a divine paradise comes from Dilmun, the land of immortals situated in southwestern Persia. It is the same Dilmun that, later, the Babylonians, the Semitic people who conquered the Sumerians, located their home of the immortals. There is a good indication that the Biblical paradise, which is described as a garden planted eastward in Eden, from whose waters flow the four world rivers including the Tigris and the Euphrates, may have been originally identical with Dilmun;
2) the birth of goddesses without pain or travail illuminates the background of the curse against Eve that it shall be her lot to conceive and bear children in sorrow, and I affirm that this is one of the greatest injuries done to womankind from the roots of Hebrew religion to half humanity;
3) Enki's greed to eat the eight sacred plants which gave birth to the Vegetal World resonates the eating of the Forbidden Fruit by Adam and Eve, as I pointed out earlier on. Enki, a god, was the greedy one, and he was transformed into Eve in the Bible story. There is no comparison between the sexy, assertive god and the flawed image of womanhood of Eve.
4) most remarkably, this myth provides an explanation for one of the most puzzling motifs in the Biblical paradise story - the famous passage describing the fashioning of Eve, the mother of all living, from the rib of Adam. Why a rib instead of another organ to fashion the woman whose name Eve means according to the Bible, 'she who makes live'? If we look at the Sumerian myth, we see that when Enki gets ill, cursed by Ninhursag, one of his body parts that start dying is the rib. The Sumerian word for rib is 'ti' . To heal each o Enki's dying body parts, Ninhursag gives birth to eight goddesses. The goddess created for the healing of Enki's rib is called 'Nin-ti', 'the lady of the rib'. But the Sumerian word 'ti' also means 'to make live'. The name 'Nin-ti' may therefore mean 'the lady who makes live' as well as 'the lady of the rib'. Thus, a very ancient literary pun was carried over and perpetuated in the Bible, but without its original meaning, because the Hebrew word for 'rib' and that for 'who makes live' have nothing in common. Moreover, it is Ninhursag who gives her life essence to heal Enki, who is then reborn from her (Kramer, Samuel Noah, History Begins at Sumer, The Pennsylvania University Press, Philadelphia, 143-144).
We must convey that if mythical truths can be seen only through the eyes of faith, the reversal of Enki´s and Ninhursag´s Dilmun story was incredibly harmful to women since the rise of Hebrew religion, and carried with it the burden of prejudice and mysoginy to Christianity and Islam. But we can see the redemption of womankind in this brilliant Sumerian myth.
Working with this myth was a challenge and a delight for me. Embedded in it I found the possible root for one of my favorite alchemical maxims, one which is attributed to Solomon, but after reading this myth, you will agree with me that it is not in Jewish sacred scrolls, but in earlier Sumerian material that its origins can be found. It says: "Wisdom built herself a house on a rock and from this rock flow the waters of life". Now, we know that Enki is the Sweet Waters Lord and Ninhursag is the Earth Mother, the Living Petra Generatrix of Alchemy. Reverse the sexes and you will see the mighty and charming figures of Enki and Ninhursag come to life, and more. To be wise is to try and be strong in one´s positions like a rock and yet always flexible to review them when need be, ever changing like water. This is how the personality should be built and preserved, a rock of strength and yet flexible to change without losing its main essence.
Wisdom is the Craft of Life, the Knowledge and Knowing that decides and choses based on deep Understanding of all Life´s Mysteries in all worlds. It is intelligence of the Heart, mind, body and soul, wisdom is Deep Inner and Outer Knowledge that is not a curse, as the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil experienced by Eve, who, poor thing, did not know that to live fully one must experience life and not to be beaten up by it. Life is fundamentally an experience of self-transcendence, the gift of living one´s humanity in all levels and making things and oneself whole day by day on the way to Eternity. Eternity that must be lived within and manifested without in all worlds.
There is one more crucial healing that should be done. The snake, who is the Temptress and cause of Eve´s fall in the Bible, is also the symbol of medicine and eternal life, because snakes cast their skins off and as such are many times reborn (see the myth of Gilgamesh, Tablet XI too). The snake in Indian mysticism is Kundalini, magic and sexual energy that all transforms. Have I done enough to rehabilitate the Sacred Snake??? So:
"May you be tempted to live your own life story as an immense Adventure in search for Love, Health, Wealth and Wisdom, and may Enki´s and Ninhursag´s joy and passion be yours in all worlds you dare to fare".
"Open up your heart, walk within and find Sophia", by Caitlin Matthews, "Sophia, The Goddess of Wisdom", Mandala, Grafton Books, 1991.
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