The present retelling has its inspiration on the text "The Murderer of Sennacherib" by Professor Simo Parpola, as published in Death in Mesopotamia, XXVIeme Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, edited by Professor Bendt Alster, Akademisk Forlag, 1980. In this article, Professor Parpola solves the riddle of the true murderer of the Assyrian king Sennacherib, who was assassinated by one of his own sons, causing much commotion over the land of Assyria, Babylon and environs. The murderer, nevertheless, was not the Crown Prince Esarhaddon, and Professor Parpola proves this point using his comprehensive knowledge of Assyriology and Ancient Near East languages. The retelling that follows is a work of fiction, so mistakes are evidently my own. However, special care was taken in the use of standard works of Assyriology by Professor Simo Parpola for the mythical context of the narrative. These references are the following:
1. S. Parpola, "The Assyrian Tree of Life: Tracing the Origins of Jewish Monotheism and Greek Philosophy," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 52 (1993), 161-208.
2. S. Parpola "Sons of God: The Ideology of Assyrian Kingship": Archaeology Odyssey 2/5 (November/December 1999), 16-27.
3. S. Parpola. Assyrian Prophecies. State Archives of Assyria, Volume IX, Helsinki University Press, 1997.
For Kabbalistic symbolism, it was equally used:
4. Gareth Knight. A practical guide to Kabbalistic symbolism: On the Spheres of the Tree of Life. Kahn and Averill, London. 1991.
Finally, the paragraph on the Dynamic Non-Maternal Feminine is covered by Lishtar´s essay on the issue, presented in the 47eme Rencontre Assyriologique, Helsinki, July 2nd to 6th 2001, text in full in the Essays section of this website.
Wearing plain non-combat clothes, Esarhaddon, Crown Prince of Assyria, left his tent in the outskirts of Nineveh and stepped into the early hours of the day. Dawn would come very soon, air was chill, but Esarhaddon was too immersed in his own thoughts to notice weather particularities. Would he survive the day to sunset hour?
Esarhaddon didn´t know as yet. He also did not want to know. However, there was still time to follow a hunch that had taken him out of bed at this early hour. Perhaps for a last rite before he entered Nineveh.
"For honour or disgrace", he added to himself.
For the moment though the Crown Prince of Assyria dismissed gloomier thoughts with a shrug. Years of training in the House of Succession should have prepared him for all situations in life. However, there seemed to be a huge gap between theory and practice, he muttered, with grim humor.
"The murderer prince is back" Esarhaddon could hear the people´s unspoken thoughts throughout the land of Assyria and beyond in the recesses of his troubled mind.
But he was not the murderer of his father, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, who had been cowardly assassinated on 20 Tebet, 681. Murdering his own father was a physical and geographical impossibility, because Esarhaddon had been serving the kingdom at the time of the assassination very far from the capital, Nineveh. However, as the identity of the actual murderer had not yet been discovered and it was known that there was a fierce battle for power in his family since his name had been appointed by his father and confirmed by the gods as the Crown Prince of Assyria, so over Esarhaddon´s name hung doubts of having been the intellectual criminal at least, the engineer of his father´s early Descent to the Land of No Return.
"How could they ever conceive the thought of me as my father´s killer?" asked himself Esarhaddon again with undisguised confusion and anger.
The murder of Sennacherib certainly evoked strong emotion all over the land. In Israel and Babylonia, it was hailed as godsent punishment for the "godless" deeds of a despot; in Assyria, the reaction had been overwhelmingly horror, and Esarhaddon added to this his own feelings of resentment towards the elder brothers who had never accepted him fully as their equal, deep sorrow for Sennacherib´s untimely death and anger at being so wrongly scrutinized and ill-judged by the people of Assyria.
"One unworthy step after the other... one more time", Esarhaddon commanded himself, and having found a secluded spot, not far away from the barracks of his army, he sat down, cross-legged, on the ground, the Living Earth. Time and space were suspended as the Crown prince willed his mind, heart, body and spirit to rest as he headed to the place where waking dreams carry a deeper meaning, where silence acquires depth to transform, and the sleep which is not slumber takes hold of the mind that seeks awareness.
Soon Esarhaddon walked the inner landscapes towards the first sacred Sphere of the Assyrian Tree of Life. However, to his utter amazement, instead of witnessing again how the Sacred Tree had been planted by the great Goddess of Love and War, Inanna/Ishtar, in Her garden for the people of Uruk, thus expressing allegorically that kingship was a gift from the heavens to humankind, he was transported back in time, to the days of his childhood, much before his appointment as Crown Prince of Assyria. These were the times when he was a boy dotted by the younger beloved wife of the king, his mother Naqia. Also, at that time, the appointed heir to the throne was his eldest half-brother Assur-nădin-sumi, and thus Esarhaddon´s only worries were to play in the gardens of the palace without a rival in Nineveh.
"What is the riddle of this Sphere?" asked himself frantically Esarhaddon. Without divining the Mystery of each sphere, he would not be able to proceed. And it was imperative that he walked all spheres of the Tree at this fated dawn. The beginning had already been a surprise to him. However, once the story took hold, he knew the only way was to follow the thread that would unfold before his very eyes, and just hope to do well. "But why was I transported to my own past?"
The situation had changed dramatically from his carefree childhood days, because in 694, Assur-nădin-sumi, the eldest son of Sennacherib and then the Crown Prince, had been captured by Babylonians and carried off to Elam. No more had he been heard of. Another Crown Prince had to be appointed, and his father had not chosen his second born, .Arad-Ninlil, but appointed Esarhaddon as the official heir to the kingdom.
"That was then, this is now, time is never the same twice", reasoned Esarhaddon, as he willed himself to turn his awareness not to the past of golden memories, but to the present of uncertainties. He certainly guided his thoughts in the right direction, because abruptly the inner landscape changed.
The second Inner Landscape upon the Tree revealed itself and Esarhaddon stared open-mouthed at the serious, deeply hurt image of Arad-Ninlil, his brother and technically, the second in the line of succession of father Sennacherib. Arad-Ninlil had accusing eyes to father and to Esarhaddon. Deeply shocked, Esarhaddon willed his self to calm down. The point is, was he really taken by surprise at the confronting Arad-Ninlil´s feelings about being left out by father? If Esarhaddon was true to himself, this was not a total surprise. He could feel the storm of unbalanced emotions warring inside his brother, and knew he had been transported to the moment when Arad-Ninlil had known that Esarhaddon was the Crown Prince, his younger half-brother, not himself. Worse still and Esarhaddon shivered, the accusing, bitterly angry eyes of brother Arad-Ninlil, focused on dreams of greatness and endless self-glorification, seemed to be, horror of horrors, similar to his own dreams... when he had first been appointed Crown Prince.
"Is this a test of Strength? To assess how strong is my Foundation?" asked himself Esarhaddon.
For this seemed to be the sphere of Nergal, God of War and Pestilences, which concerns with the aspects of the soul corresponding to animal life and desires.This Path was also known as Pure Intelligence, because Nergal´s fire purified and corrected all emanations, its integrity tested and corrected the designations of their representations, for Nergal is also known as the Enlil or the Supreme God of the Underworld. How far did he, Esarhaddon, had differed from Arad-Ninlil, when the Crown had been offered to him by Father?
"Not very much", he had to admit with steel-forged sincerity.
Esarhaddon had been elated, and for days felt he could conquer all worlds. So it struck him hard that he shared with his brother the same ambitions as the Crown Prince of Assyria. With only a difference. Esarhaddon put Assyria first, his desires second. Something natural for a third born son as he was, and perhaps an impossibility for Arad-Ninlil, who had been closer to Assur-nădin-sumi all his life, and the second to ascend to the throne, if only seniority were the decisive factor in Assyrian kingship. It wasn´t. The gods´ desires had pointed towards Esarhaddon instead.
"Is the figure of Arad-Ninlil at this stage of the path the vision of my weaknesses and the illusion of my desires?" Esarhaddon asked himself and shivered.
Struggling to get a grip on himself, Esarhaddon contemplated Arad-Ninlil before scrutinizing himself with no mercy. He was, first and foremost, Esarhaddon, not Arad-Ninlil, neither a god like Nergal. He was himself, the master of his desires and the destroyer of self-illusions. With grim determination, Esarhaddon stepped forward and entered the mirror image of his brother and guardian of one of his hardest inner thresholds. He felt as if a burden had been taken out of his shoulders as well, and it dawned on him that the virtue of this path was Independence, which can only be achieved when one has known his or her own lowest desires... and transcended them as well.
Next, he saw himself next in front of the House of Succession, where all the appointed Crown Princes of Assyria received their training training to become the righteous king of the land: learned, judicious, brave and the image of the Perfect Man. .
For the first time since he had walked the Paths this morning, Esarhaddon relaxed and smiled. This seemed to be an easy sphere to thread upon. He remembered his first of days of schooling in the sacred house, where the ancient wisdom had been drilled on his ears, mind, body and heart, to become forever imprinted in his soul.
Kingship was sacred in Assyria, but it was also clearly understood that since each and every king was also a human mortal, there was a need for the future king to establish a close relationship with the gods of the land through the monarch´s spiritual nature. Ancient scripts, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, stated that the hero, a "perfect king," was two thirds god and one third man. The Crown Prince therefore had to be instructed in the crafts of the first priest king, the sage Adapa, in the ancient languages of Sumerian and Akkadian, as well as in the secrets of the scribal profession. He also had to learn the designs of heaven and earth as revealed by the sacred stars and master mathematics. A king therefore should be learned and knowledgeable in the ways of the gods. Although the task of mastering so many disciplines was a huge one, Esarhaddon had enjoyed the long hours of study, where the Words like powerful lightening flashes had forged his spirit in the Glory of Adad and Girsu.
Esarhaddon felt his face become red for a brief moment. Adad, the God of Lightning and Thunderstorms, was the God of Vigilance, the chief oracle god, announcing with His roars divine judgements and decisions to humankind. Esarhaddon as the Crown Prince was not as yet a King of Decisions like the Gods of this sphere, but hoped sincerely he would always listen to the voices of the Lords and Ladies of Majesty of the Land.
He did not start this time as the inner landscape changed abruptly, and he stood in front of the statue of the young Warrior God Ninurta, which blurred before his very eyes to become the figure of the young sage god Nabu. The image of Nabu shifted again and became Ninurta to blur once again into Ninurta in a dizzying non-stop succession..
"Which One should I choose at this stage?" Esarhaddon asked himself.
He focused on the situation of Assyria. Esarhaddon´s appointment as Crown Prince had strongly disappointed Arad-Ninlil, who had his supporters. All Assyria had sworn allegiance to Esarhaddon, but even in the protected recesses of the House of Succession, Esarhaddon had heard that Arad-Nilil enjoyed considerable popularity in certain circles who would like to see him as their future king rather than sickly Esarhaddon. As years passed the opposition to Esarhaddon grew, while at the same time Arad-Ninlil gained in popularity. Foreseeing trouble, Sennacherib had sent Esarhaddon away from the capital to the western provinces. Then the murder had taken place, and the country was still in turmoil. Esarhaddon compared the situation of the country with the sacred stories of the two young gods. Ninurta was known as the Warrior Prince and savior of His father. Nabu was the sage Prince, amply loved by His elders. The present situation dictated that Assyria would need more of a Champion that would lead the country to Victory. He lent graces to Nabu and focused his thoughts on Ninurta. Regrettably at this stage father Sennacherib was beyond rescue in the Land of No Return. A prayer for Nabu was also raised. Esarhaddon knew his health was far from perfect, and the Divine Scholar Prince resonated in his being. Assyria came first though, and he hoped in time the need for Ninurta the Divine Avenger would subside to give space to his scholarly Divine Brother in case Assyria succeeded for the glory of the coming generations.
Concentration paid off, for the image became the one of Ninurta. The Crown Prince smiled and relaxed. By training of the Crown Prince should emulate either one of the young heir Gods, Nabu or Ninurta. Because in all versions of His myth Ninurta appeared as the avenger and helper to his father, the son of the divine king, who set out from his celestial home to fight the evil forces that threatened His father's kingdom. Ninurta´s myths invariably involved mighty fights against the "mountain" or the "foreign land," where He met the enemy, defeated it and then returned in triumph to his celestial home. The main attributes of this sphere were Victory and Endurance. Thus, Esarhaddon raised a fervent prayer to the heights above and depths below.
"Make me endure and persevere... for I may still be far from the image of the Perfect Son...."
"Is that what you want to be... a perfect son... forever?" Esarhaddon heard a feminine voice with a slightly irreverent slant that he had learnt to love, respect and follow all days of his life.
In front of him, stood Lady Ishtar, the Bridge to the Gods and Mother of the Spirit of all kings of Assyria. His eyes rested on Her figure. The Lady of Light, the Bearer of all Powers, seemed to be a damsel of about his age, yet he knew She was girl-like ageless. And She was totally at ease in front of him.
Esarhaddon blushed, felt very shy and stifled a sigh. Surely he should have known better. Inanna/Ishtar would never accept a prince on the make for Her consort, as well as She would not accept a king who did not strive to be whole.
A perfect king, filled with the divine spirit, would be able to exercise a just rule and maintain the cosmic harmony, thus guaranteeing his people divine blessings, prosperity and peace. By contrast, a king failing to achieve the required perfection and thus ruling without the divine spirit, trusting in himself alone, would rule unjustly, disrupt the cosmic harmony, draw upon himself the divine wrath and cause his people endless miseries, calamities and war. Thus, according to Assyrian royal inscriptions, kings were called and predestined to their office from the beginning of time. Their features were miraculously perfected in their mother's womb by the goddess, and the kings´ intellectual and physical abilities were perfected by the great gods. After birth, all heirs designate were nursed in the temple of Ishtar and raised there "between the wings of the goddess," being initiated into her sacred mysteries. Their education was completed in the "tablet house," where they received thorough training in all aspects of Mesopotamian learning and wisdom.
"I was not my father´s or yours first choice", Esarhaddon had to admit to Her, his soul raw in the acknowledgement of one of his deepest fears to be conquered.
She smiled at him.
"You are my choice now".
Esarhaddon´s mouth fell to the depths to the Land of No Return. Ishtar had accepted him! She had not expressed this truth directly, but... considering who She was... Then he grounded himself and considered the kind of acceptance She was conceding to him...
Ishtar nurtured the Spirit of kings by a series of happy dares and hot pursuits. Instead of nurturing them from Her womb, as all Great Mother Goddesses did, Ishtar gave spiritual birth to heroes and kings through Inspiration and Encouragement, fostering in them growth through action. Also, as the Quintessential Lover and Assertive Warrior, Ishtar demanded attention, care and respect from Her chosen, from the standpoint of partners who are at the same level of understanding. Her special kind of nurturing , dynamic, full of joy and boundless energy, ensouled Matter and became a Living Force in one´s life but only when one was ready to leave behind the infancy of the mind, body, heart and soul, to embrace one´s full Maturity. She required a victorious spirit over life´s hardest tribulations. Hers was the domain of deep integrity, honour and boundless energy, the Transcendent in Matter, metaphorically represented as the Lady of Love and War.
Delighted and shaken beyond measure, Esarhaddon saw in Her the Vision of Beauty and Full Humanity in Transcendence, the Torch-Bearer of his soul. He raised a heartfelt thanksgiving prayer to all the Great Mother Goddesses and Their priestesses who had nurtured the prince he had been in the early days of his appointment to sacred office. But the Beloved was the One who stood at the threshold when one was ready to be Her partner in all levels and spheres. Esarhaddon was making himself be, was leaving his infancy of the spirit to stand on his feet to decide for his life and the life of Assyria.
This realization was so imprinted in his soul, that only the blinding light of the Sun interrupted the course of his thoughts. At the same time, elation subsided, and deep inside the sunlight became clouded clouded by a heavy weight Esarhaddon had in his soul, and he stood there, empty handed but erect, to face Shamash, the Sun God and Lord of Justice, Master of Judgement, the Illuminator of all Darkness.
"Do you fear the judgement of the people?"
The question echoed in Esarhaddon´s mind with the power of ten thunderstorms.
"You know and I know that my physical hands are clean of any crime," Esarhaddon answered the god. "But what if my followers have done the unthinkable? This, I don´t know and can´t be sure of"
He could not answer for his followers, had they killed his father to see him on the throne, a slightly far-fetched possibility that should be, nevertheless, taken into account. The weight of it was eating Esarhaddon´s soul alive though.
"How will you deal with the facts?" insisted the Shining God.
Esarhaddon swallowed hard:
"I will have all facts checked and proved the Truth beyond any doubt... no matter what the cost for me might be".
A second figure superimposed himself upon Shamash, of equal radiance. The sense of utter stillness in the air was so strong that was almost palpable. No breeze, or hint of fresh air. The Sphere of Mercy was the Sphere attributed to Enlil, Lord Air, or Marduk, the chief god of Babylon. Because the air was utterly still but full of majesty and brilliance, Esarhaddon understood that he was in the presence of Marduk, the Great Lord of Mercy. The relationship between the spheres of Severity and Mercy on the Tree was clear: Shamash as the Divine Judge par excellence saw all facets of truth so that He could judge, whereas Marduk of the forgiving heart and Enlil judged the inner significance of all acts. However, Esarhaddon knew that perhaps he might not be spared by the Merciful One, once Father Sennacherib had done the inconceivable in his lifetime. Father Sennacherib had not spared the rebellious city of Babylon when it revolted against Assyria. In actual fact, father Sennacherib had dealt with Babylon with rigor, and commanded the destruction of many of the city´s landmarks when the people of Babylon had revolted against Assyria.
"And how will you deal with the killers of your father?" Marduk´s question was predictable, yet so hard to reply.
Esarhaddon closed his eyes. He could feel the heartbeat of the land divided by occasional alliances, rival factions and tribal warlords. But stronger than anything else he could hear the unspoken desire of the Assyrian people for justice and peace, the need for sustained progress, health and wealth... in all four quarters of the kingdom.
" I will deal with them with Mercy".
"Are you going to be merciful... to the Babylonians as well? Continued Marduk.
Esarhaddon felt his face burn with shame, for one of his father´s greatest mistakes had been the inconceivable pillage and destruction of the city known as the Gate of the Gods.
"I will show mercy to the Babylonians", answered Esarhaddon.
Suddenly, he also understood what he needed to do. To avenge his father without a kill perhaps. Thus, the Crown Prince bowed low in front of the two gods. He did not dare to look at the Great Ones as he said:
"To Shamash, Lord of Judgement and Truth, I promise by my life to find out who the murder or murderers of my father were, and to bring them to Righteous Justice. To Marduk, Lord of Mercy and the forgiving heart, I promise more than mercy to Babylon and to the killers of my father. Perhaps Babylon is the easier task, but I will not tire while I don´t restore the Gate of the Gods to the glory of days past and centuries to come... "
Silence followed Esarhaddon´s words, but Radiance and warmth seemed to involve the Crown Prince. Esarhaddon would never know how long he stayed in deep contemplation of the Promise and Vow he had just made to the two gods. All he knew though, when he finally thought of stirring his feet, is that a deeper Knowing had taken root in his being.
"You will need quite a bit of a lifetime to do what you want to accomplish" he heard from the Radiance, and suddenly the Great Ones had disappeared and he saw himself at bottom of a ziggurat tower as night fell. Esarhaddon knew for sure that the ziggurat was not of this world, but felt compelled to climb its heights and explore it.
The Journey had not yet ended, and he needed the physical exercise. Esarhaddon climbed up the human-made mountain, whereby all, with the right frame of mind, could reach out for the heights of mystical insight. He stopped only at the top to contemplate the landscape dimly discernible in the early hours of twilight. He stood at the empty heights with a steady breeze playing with his hair, and the magnificent view of Nineveh with its with noisy streets and narrow alleys in the east, the Palace Without a Rival in the west, the orchards in the North and Babylon in the south. Esarhaddon´s eyes embraced the country, his homeland, with all his heart, mind, body and soul. He sat quietly contemplating the view under his feet, the land he wanted to serve with his life.
If he were doing the Path right, this was the sphere of Sin, the Moon god and Prince of the Gods, son of Enlil and Ninlil, Lord and Lady Air. Sin was the master of time, knower of secrets and sage of the gods. His sphere along the path was also known as Understanding and Intelligence.
Ancient teachings postulated that life was ebb and flow, ever changing and evolving, never the same but with a promise of ever becoming. The same way Sin renewed Himself , as He opened the doors of heaven to let in and out days, months and years always to return, for life´s heartbeat then synchronized in perfect harmony with the Moon silvery progression upon the night´s skies: tides, the coming of spring floods to renew the land, the growth of reeds, the breathing in and out of all greens, abundance of milk, cheese and cream and, most of all, the sacred blood of womanhood.
The air, the twilight were all so quiet. However, Esarhaddon felt Nature alive, as the heartbeat of the land echoed into his mind, body, heart and spirit. With deep emotion, he grasped the full extension of a sentence the Chief Priest and the High Priestess used to say to the young initiates at the beginning of their training at the House of Succession:
"Only in silence the Word will sound, the Word that can only be followed and not be shaped consciously ...."
For Sin was also known as the Secret-Hearted, who bestowed vigilance and illumination for the diligent student of the Soul's mysteries. He was also the ruler of women, for the months of the moon are the days of a woman´s courses, and the days of her conception are the ten months of the god Sin.
When the Moon God marked His presence once again in the night´s skies, Esarhaddon felt for the first time the force of His being in the tides of the sea, in the fertile marshes of the land, in the monthly blood of all women who had walked the earth and given birth.
"All that lives and breathes is conceived in Silence and Stillness that is never idle..." he reasoned, as he opened his arms to take the position of the five-pointed star to greet the Moon Lord into his being.
Later, much later, the Crown prince said his farewells to the Moon and climbed down the stairs of the ziggurat. When he reached the bottom steps, his inner landscape changed again. Esarhaddon searched for a clue on the direction he should follow, and the stream of clear fresh seemed to be a great pointer. He was supposed to be heading towards the Sphere of Ea, Lord of All Idea of Form, the Organizer of the World, who ruled over the Sweet Fertilizing Waters of the Deep and was the Patron of all Arts and Crafts. This was the sphere of First Awareness of all that Could Become, Wisdom of All that Could Be. Esarhaddon sank deeper into his own essence, forcing a stillness that concealed a storm raging within. This was a very hard sphere for him to thread upon. Choices had been made, and although he did not regret any of them so far, the full implication of some of his decisions was heavy on his soul.
Upon being accepted as the Crown Prince, Esarhaddon had wanted more than anything else to be wise, to acquire a kind of Illuminating Intelligence whereby the Light of the Spirit could be revealed in the world. He had thought of emulating Ea in his older years, and to this end, he would first emulate the figure of the young god Nabu, the sage and heavenly Crown Prince of Assyria. According to the tradition, either Nabu, the sage, or Ninurta, the warrior, could be chosen as the heavenly paragon for the future king in his role of defender of the cosmic order. Esarhaddon knew his health was not so good as his elder brothers, so the path of the Sacred Scribe and Sage Prince seemed the one best suited to him. Nabu shared with Ea the passion for Intellectual Knowledge by Reflection, and so did Esarhaddon. However, with the murder of father Sennacherib, priorities had changed. Failing health or not, Nabu´s path seemed to be lost somewhere in the past for him now.
Esarhaddon knew there was a historical mission, as well as a heavenly design the king had to fulfill. There was no time for reflexive knowledge to grow, as action should be taken to pacify the land which could easily fall into the horror of civil war. Esarhaddon knew he was no outstanding garment Ninurta, the Farmer turned Warrior. Instead, Esarhaddon´s was the Wisdom of the Fool, learning through direct Experience, a trial and error approach to life, guided by the light of the Goddess who had accepted him ... as Her second choice?
"She said I was Her choice now,' remembered Esarhaddon with Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.
For what he felt for Lady Ishtar since the beginning was Love and Devotion, She was to him the Vision of the Divine Face to Face, the Torch-Bearer of his soul. From the moment Esarhaddon had been chosen Crown Prince, Lady Ishtar had become his Beloved, the spiritual mother and father that guided his spirit in the highs and lows likewise. He saw no vice in Her, She was his Breath and the Living Spirit singing in his heart, mind, body and soul.
Esarhaddon sighed and got a grip of his thoughts. Why was he thinking of Her instead of concentrating on the image of Ea?
"Are you going to get wet or not?"
Esarhaddon heard The Goddess´ voice, and he stumbled for words in front of The One who was the Beloved and Lover united as One, the Divine Bride to all Assyrian kings.
"Wisdom is both achieved through Reflexive Intelligence, as well as by Acting with Integrity and Diving into the fabric of life to the fullest. Or don´t you know my cycle? My stories and hymn?" Ishtar teased him, but Her voice became very soft:
"I am the Craft of Life, Nature ensouled, Divine Breath spiriting all there was, is and will be...but you seem too slow to apprehend some basic things, Esarhaddon..."
There was mirth and laughter in Her Voice:
"All experiences you had along the path, they are all emanations of the One who has many guises."
Her Face seemed then become two, one of the sides looking down at him and embodying the wisdom of the Earth, and the other half looking up to the firmament, to a radiance beyond all times, all spaces. With deep emotion, Esarhaddon understood then that he had not failed this sphere by meeting with Lady Ishtar instead of Ea. Hers was a kind of practical wisdom through acts and deeds, acquired through direct experience and not intellectual knowledge. A simpler way of experiencing Life´s mysteries, but of equal valor, integrity and honor.
"Furthermore, all who love Wisdom, love the Beloved... will you get wet now? Or will you leave me... waiting?"
Esarhaddon felt as if a blindfold had fallen off his eyes. Union with the Divine was sometimes compared to a drop of water being embraced by the sea!
He did then get totally wet.
When he resurfaced out of breath and elated from the Fertilizing Waters of the Deep, Esarhaddon swam back to the margins of the lake. His sight immediately focused on the Horned Crown upon the Rock Shrine, the symbol of Anu, the Skyfather and father of all the Great Gods. However, instead of meeting the All Father by the Shrine, Esarhaddon saw Lady Ishtar again... and he stared open-mouthed at Her full regalia as the Warrior Goddess and Protector of the Kings of Assyria. The wars She fought in this guise were holy wars against the forces of evil, darkness and chaos, for by Her side the king and army could only win, as they were filled by the Spirit to win causes that were just and right. Esarhaddon´s surprise was deep and genuine because the Lady in full regalia carried.... his standard of battle! Ishtar the Warrioress held in her right-hand the staff with the colours, insignia and symbols he, Esarhaddon, had earned by training and deeds in the House of Succession as the chosen Crown Prince of Assyria.
"Are you ready to deserve your Crown and Kingdom, Esarhaddon?" was Her direct, crystal-clear question.
In the back of his mind, Esarhaddon recalled the sacred words Ishtar recited to Her chosen bridegroom in the occasion of the Rite that proclaimed the king of Assyria as Her consort to the people of the land:
So struck was Esarhaddon by Her image with his royal standard, by the challenge She had issued to him and by the words resonating in his mind, that he blinked and broke up trance.
Morning had just broken, as he caught the last sight of the Morning Star in the skies and Lord Shamash rode his chariot in full glory. Esarhaddon stirred from his position seated on the ground and bowed respectfully to the Morning Star with love and devotion. She would come back as the Evening Star this sunset hour, but in actual fact, Ishtar never left his heart, his being, his soul.
Esarhaddon finally left out a long breath, rose to his feet, smiled and felt the stiffness flow from muscles he did not know were tense. Later in the day he would reach the banks of the Tigris, and by the command of Sin and Shamash, the gods of the harbour of Nineveh, would make his troops enter the royal city. The South Wind, the breeze of Ea, great for the exercise of kingship, blew, his personal Goddess believed in him more than he ever did.
Esarhaddon, Crown Prince of Assyria, contemplated the land he was ready to give his blood for. Assyria was surely his kingdom and he ´d better start deserving his Crown.
Right now preferably.
Lishtar, December 12th 2001, revised January 8th 2002.
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