LOVE, LUST AND THE YOUNG GOD ENLIL
A personal view of the young allmighty Enlil
Enlil according to the Sumerians is the Air/Wind Lord, begotten from the cosmic embrace of Anu, the Skies, and Ninhursag-Ki, the Earth Mother. This is the first clue to understand the complex figure of the Air God, perhaps the god form that have most influenced in my opinion the Jewish Jaweh. Proud, having to learn by his own mistakes and deeds, with a very strong streak of stubbornness and sense of self that is full and yet touching in the abrupt impetuousness of his actions when called upon to review them by wrongdoings (not a Jewish attribute, but an endearing aspect of the Enlil of Mesopotamian roots).
To grow out of his parentsī embrace, Enlil projected himself forward and caused Earth and Sky to separate from each other forever. Shocked by his deed, young Enlil took over the Earth to protec, because all by himself he could not be, whereas Anu the Skies took the Firmament, always watching over from the Heights his beloved Ki and first born. At that time Ninhursag-Ki was very pregnant with the second generation of the Anunnaki gods, and when the sacred offspring came forth, Enlil started using his main attribute, the Word, to Name his brorthers and sisters and things and as such by the power of his Word to identify the world.
Here we have one of the main clues to understand the complexity of Enlil. He is the Word that cannot be disobeyed, but the Word in Mesopotamia was not the beginning. Words for them meant Consciousness (in myths expressed as"... and the name of man was written", for example) and Wisdom. Furthermore, Words were formed in Silence that is not Empty or Idle. Indeed, Enlil is described as "the word too fast to be followed, too slow to be comprehended, so powerfull to shake even the depths, so gentle and immoveable, both speaker and listener, cause and effect", whose "...main gift is wisdom, the embodiment of the word, with the attributes of freedom, creation and inspiration" (The Phoenician Letters, Zur and Smith, pages 71 and 73). All these features are features of the Jewish god, not even a most orthodox rabbi would deny!
Enlilīs importance is probably also due to the political importance of his city, Nippur, during the Early Dynastic Period. Atlhough Nippur was never the actual seat of a ruling dynasty, according to some texts of the Third Dynasty of Ur, the king of Sumer was proclaimed or confirmed by the divine assembly held at Nippur. Enlil conferred authority to the legitimate ruler of the land, and there are many texts that acknowledge this fact.
But the myth that concerns us today is called Enlil and Ninlil, or the Begetting of the Moon God, Nanna. It is a tale of coming of age, whereby a young god and a Maiden goddess grow from unsure adolescents to full assertive adults in love and committed to a brighter future together. Which is not an easy process, as we will see.
The myth starts when young Enlil sets his mind to make his a young maiden of the Holy House called Ninlil. Both have no experience in affairs of the mind, body, heart and soul, and Enlil forces himself onto the maiden, who immediately realises that now she carries the seed of the most coveted of the young gods. Hurt beyond measure by the violence she had been subjected to, Ninlil does not hesitate and takes Enlil to trial in front of the assembled Anunnaki gods. Pay attention: a young goddess on the make demands the punishment of her rapist, who were himself one of the Great Gods.
Enlil is condemned to the Underworld, and the myth grows in depth and intensity. Ninlil allows Enlilīs descent, but as all women of heart, mind, body and soul would do and have done since times immemorial, she sets out immediately to descend and attempt to rescue her stubborn lover back to the Heights Above. Notice: Ninlil did want Enlil to be punished, he did not evade punishment, and the most passionate of all descent stories starts with full participation of all main characters. In a fantastic twist of fates, it is by the designs of the Underworld, we can infer, that Enlil meets Ninlil three times in disguise, having to ask for her love, without telling her in reality who he was. In other words, he, who had not approached her as a tender lover, had to beg for her affection, and she, as his hardest judge, had to learn to see the healed man beyond the conceited young god who could not reveal himself as such, and along the process, reassert herself as a true goddess and consort for the Air Lord.
Three times they meet in the Underworld, three times they mate, and three times she receives within herself to transform the lessons Enlil had to learn to grow as a full man and responsible god. This means she receives in her womb three more seeds of Enlil, and receives them into herself to heal. This is the only part I somehow do not agree entirely, because I find unfair Ninlil to get three more times pregnant, but the meaning is that anger and loss should be transformed, and it is the goddessī task to heal and rescue the god (and vice versa, why do you all think we have so many heroes?) . In the end, both come back to the Heights Above, Goddess and God, to form one of the most loving couples in Mesopotamian myth and Religion.
What is the teaching embedded in this myth? That love and responsibility march hand in hand, that both Enlil and Ninlil had to go beyond their own ideas of how to related to each other and thus try to find through tenacity and and self-confidence the ways to each othersī hearts. Ninlil wanted to be courted initially by the proudest of all gods, but did not know how to value herself, and Enlil was impetuous and violent, a trait of youth who has to learn about balancing hormones and be responsible for whomever s/he captivates. But remember that none gave up, and stood the hardest trials to be together as equals at the end.
The lessons embedded in this passionate and difficult myth are still valid in our high tech days. Personally, working with Enlil and Ninlil was a mighty experience: the myth is a cautionary tale so modern that many young people would profit enormously from and, I dare say, enjoy greatly the plot, passion and happy ending.
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