A Ninurta´s Tale by Lishtar
She had followed a dream to become a Priestess of Ninurta, the Lord of the Year, Mighty Warrior, Son of Enlil and Beloved of Ninhursag, Master of Time, Ruler of Truth, Law-Enforcer, The Foundation of the State and Limits that Trigger Growth, but the dream had taken her to the altar of His temple in Nippur in the Ancient Near East just with an empty clay tablet in her hands.
'I failed', she thought, and the weight of that realization struck her as a mighty pillar of lead. 'Perhaps I was never good enough.'
With the stubbornness of a girl raised in the farmlands of the South, she called upon her Inner Strength. She could be tough, resilient, patient and implacable when there was a need. Merciless, she asked herself:
'Where did I go wrong? Get your act together, girl, honor your training and find out where things went terribly wrong!'
Despite these stern commands, she felt as heavy as lead and old, so old as Time. She had failed the vigil, the last and most difficult test an Initiate had to go through before being formally accepted for ordination in the Mysteries of Ninurta. She looked at the empty clay tablet the first rays of dawn had brought to the main altar of the temple. A sign from the God for sure, but not a good sign for her, for nothing was written on it. Nothing, just the clean surface of a tablet, perhaps waiting for the pen of the priest or priestess scribe to acquire meaning.
It hurt so much, because she saw the tablet in her hand as the record of her life up to this very moment. The tablet had no inscriptions or drawings in it, for brand new as it was, it had never meant a thing. Perhaps this was what the God thought of her endeavors to change her wild, passionate nature to become a true Initiate of His. Was this the way that He saw her, as an Initiate of no substance, as empty as this clay tablet? Had Ninurta actually found her worthy of being one with His Priest/eshood, would He have given her an empty tablet at the end of the vigil?
Her body shook with sobs as she remembered the Call that came not exactly out of the blue, her desire to Know and Serve, Find and Give Meaning to everything that made life, people and things worth living. She had pursued a genuine desire to Dare, to Know, Will and Keep the Silence of Becoming, to seek excellence in all levels of her life. She recalled the long hours of study, where the ancient Wisdom had become a living Source of Inspiration brought about by Insights and Tears, the Discipline implicit in everything she did. She had done her best, even if it hadn't been enough to be awarded the High Priestesshood of Ninurta. Now she would never be able to carry the Torch of Spiritual Authority and show everybody that a countrygirl could also be a Priestess of the Mysteries.
'No, I don't regret to have trailed the Path. In the highs and lows likewise. But oh how much I wish you had spared me this last test, Great One!'
With immense sadness she contemplated the Bare Truth, and forced herself to look at the tablet again.
'An empty tablet is a sign of failure for sure. At least it is for me, as far as my knowledge of Ninurta's Myth is concerned', she said to herself.
Because in one of the most important myths attributed to Ninurta, he had been chosen by his mother, the Great Creatrix Goddess Ninhursag, to be the Champion of Enlil, the Air God and his father, to retrieve the Tablets of Destiny, the Holy Writ which ruled Truth and Justice, Law, Order and Rites, the Foundation of the State and Legally Permissible Conduct in the Ancient Near East. The Tablets of Destiny had been stolen by Anzu, the lion-headed bird from the mountains, who, envious of Great Enlil's guardianship of the tablets, stole them to satisfy his thirst for power and greed. Chaos had struck the heavens and earth with the loss of the Tablets until Ninurta went bravely to fight Anzu and and rescue the sacred Tablets for Enlil. In gratitude, Ninurta is given then custody of the Tablets, becoming therefore the Great Overseer of Fate and Destiny in the Near Eastern Mysteries.
There was still one thing that should be done, and it required an almost superhuman effort. She had to come and see her Supervisor, the Companion she had chosen to walk along the Path of the Near Eastern Mysteries and tell her she had failed. This was perhaps the toughest of all the tests, because she knew the hopes that the Old One had for her. Then she would think on what to do next. One step at a time, she would rebuild herself. Because she knew for sure that the Discipline and Joyous Seriousness she had developed along the Path would always be hers. With a start, she realized that she finally had come to understand the meaning of one of her favorite motto: 'In what makes you sorrowful, weak and lonely there is the Seed of Wholeness. Embrace the pain, don't give in and work to find Completion without and within.' She would seek that Seed and make herself whole again, no matter how long this could take. Many lifetimes perhaps?
Wings flapped in the air, and Anzu, the lion-headed bird materialized in front of her.
'Are you in such a hurry to take your leave?' Anzu asked, his voice heavy with irony. 'Let's see whether you can!'
The initiate gapped. Resolutely though, she faced the bird:
'It is fitting that I meet you at this stage. As I failed, it is you who came to meet me. Not Ninurta'.
Anzu flapped his eagle wings and roared with glee.
'I challenge you to fight me as well!'
The initiate contemplated her chances in a fight with Anzu. Fit as she was, she was not a match for the lion-headed bird. He was five times her size. Frantically, she searched deep within herself a valid weapon she could use instead of brute force. Ninurta could also be associated to Time, Order and Law. She had to gain time, act with tact, respect the limits not to anger Anzu, and perhaps win her way out with diplomacy. Like a Peaceful Warrior, relentless in her purpose to win by Wit and Skill.
'Why would you want to fight someone like me? You fight gods and heroes, not the ones who are very much like yourself. I've just realized that we may have a lot in common. Perhaps I am like you. Greedy you were to take hold of the Tablets of Destiny without deserving their custody first, fool you were to think that the possession of the Tablets only would make you acceptable by all and respected among the gods and the whole Creation. And perhaps I was as greedy as you were too, for I wanted my priestesshood so much, above anything else. Out of a desire to be important, to matter to Ninurta and to erase the wounds of farmgirl, the little barbarian I was once in the eyes of so many. I wanted to serve Creation too, but this was not perhaps my main motivation. This may be the reason why Ninurta did not accept me and why you are barring my way out now.'
'So you dare to say that you and I are one?'
'No, we are not one. How could I ever be like you, a powerful Bird, greedy, of course, but a creature of legend and might?'she had to answer in all honesty. ' You come from the realms where dreams are made and come true, whereas I am a girl from this plane and time, a promise perhaps, if I try hard to Become what I should. But I dare to say that I was unworthy, as you once were.'
'And what are you going to do about it?' asked Anzu.
'Try and change. Because I may have failed the God of my heart now, but am still an Initiate. I vow not to fail myself. I will try for priestesshood again, but for the right reasons. To serve and guard the Tablets on behalf of Ninurta.'
She stopped and looked at the fierce guardian of this threshold she had to thread. She had lost so much. If Anzu still wanted to fight her, she would die. Nevertheless, there was wisdom to be learnt with him.
'I won't survive a fight with you. But if you let me pass, I still want to be a Priestess and guard the Tablets of Destiny for the right reasons. Give me the chance to succeed where you failed, mighty Anzu. I don't plead, but ask. From the bottom of my heart. Then perhaps I'll be able to heal you and myself when the time is right.'
Discipline and reverence made then her kneel and bow in front of the altar and her executioner.
'You may go this time... with my blessings'.
She heard Anzu say. Then, all of a sudden the temple was full of Inner and Outer Light. Breath caught, openmouthed, she saw Anzu disappear in a beam of light and the temple walls change to reveal Tablets of Gold. Indeed, the temple walls were made of gold tablets! In neat, magnificent rows they showed exquisite drawings and writings. She approached the closest wall and recognized the handwriting and signatures of Priests and Priestesses who had threaded the Path since time immemorial. Gold Tablets inscribed with the Love and Devotion that all Priests of Ninurta had dedicated to Him through the millennia. There was space for many other tablets too, and deep emotion took her when she saw her Secret Name in Gold on the wall. In an empty tablet for sure, but the Name on it was in Gold.
Time stopped, but a Voice sounded bright and true echoing in her Mind, Body, Heart and Soul:
'At every generation my Priest/esses write the new Tablets of Destiny to keep my Vision, Wisdom and Mysteries alive. I am the Source and they are my Chosen Voices who, inspired by MySelf in their own times, convert my Vision into Deeds of a Life lived to the fullest for the benefit of Creation. Without this there wouldn't be Renewal, my Message would lose Freshness for the Generations to Come. You've done well. Welcome to my Service, New Priestess.
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