NERGAL AND ERESHKIGAL

How the God of War conceded defeat to the Queen of the Great Below 

 


It was in the old days in Ancient Mesopotamia when An, the all-powerful Skyfather and beloved of the Earth Mother Ninhursag-Ki, raised his voice to say:

'Soon a great banquet will be held for all the Great Gods. Thus I shall send a message to the Land of No Return, the Underworld, to Ereshkigal, the Queen of that Great Place. I will say that it is impossible for her to come up and feast with us, for her presence is needed in the Worlds Below to keep the Balance between Life and Death, Darkness and Light, Chaos and Order. Ereshkigal cannot leave the Depths, and it is impossible for us, Rulers of the Heights Above, to go to the Underworld. So I will send a messenger on our behalf, the Great Gods of the Worlds Above, and will ask her to let a messenger of her trust come to us, and take from our Banquet Table presents for the Queen of Down Below. If Ereshkigal cannot come, at least she will have her very best of our table. And as I will, so be it! '

An chose Kakka, his faithful vizier and wise minister, to be the messenger in charge of delivering in person the message of all the Great Gods of the Heights Above to Ereshkigal. Kakka descended the long stairway of heaven, and because he believed in the strength of his mission and in the integrity of his purpose, there was no doubt in Kakka’s heart: he knew he would fulfil his mission.

Thus Kakka freely crossed the seven gates of the Underworld, and entered into Ereshkigal’s spacious courtyard. When he finally saw himself in front of the throne of the Queen of the Great Below, he knelt and kissed the ground, before straightening up to stand and deliver the message the gods of the Great Above had sent to her.

‘ Most Noble Lady, Queen of the Underworld, Ereshkigal, I lend you graces on behalf of An and all the great gods of the Heights Above!’ he said. ‘ I have a message for you, Great Queen, from your father An. A banquet will be held for all the great gods. Because the Mistress of the Underworld cannot leave her realm, for she is the Guardian that Keeps Balance between Darkness and Light, the Anunnaki, your brothers and sisters, kindly request you, if you so wish, to send a messenger on your behalf. To this appointed messenger, all respect due to the Queen of the Underworld will be given: the gods of the Heights Above will hail him and kneel in his presence if he were Great Ereshkigal herself. Then, the messenger will be kindly invited to take from the banquet table the very best food, the most delicious drinks, and thus accept a present for you. It is the will of your father An that you feel not put aside, it is the desire of the Skylord that your chosen messenger, Great Lady, be greeted and honoured as if he were Ereshkigal herself on a visit to the gods of the Heights Above’.

Ereshkigal’s heart rejoiced at the message received. She had been touched by the deference the Gods of the Great Above had shown unto her, and promptly sent Namtar, her faithful minister and wise vizier, up the long stairway to the Heights Above, to the company of An.

‘ Go, Namtar, my faithful vizier and wise counselor, I shall send you to the heavens, where my father An and all the Anunnaki can be found. Namtar, climb the long stairway of heaven, take from the table of the great banquet and accept a present for me. Whatever An gives to you will be graciously acknowledged as a true present for me’.

‘ I hear and obey, my lady’.

Namtar bowed deeply and rushed to do his lady’s bidding. He ascended to the Heights Above. crossing the seven gates of death. When he arrived, the gods knelt together before him, the great gods, the lords of destiny paid their deepest respects to Namtar on behalf of Ereshkigal. All gods, but one. All but one god did not raise to his feet, did not kneel in front of Namtar, did not salute him with the respect due as if he were Ereshkigal herself on a visit to the Heights Above. Only Nergal, the god of War, Diseases, Vegetation and Fertility did not pay homage to the Queen of the Underworld as it had been agreed. Intrigued at such lack of courtesy, especially in face of what had been agreed, Namtar approached Nergal respectfully.

‘ My God,’ said Namtar to Nergal,’ I see you did not lend your greetings, neither knelt or stood in honor of my Queen, Great Ereshkigal, the Goddess of the Underworld. May I kindly ask you why are you not paying your due respects to my Lady, as it had been agreed?’

Nergal, who seemed to be very amused, gave Namtar a long measuring look before answering the vizier’s question:

‘ Why should I kneel, bow or show deference to a goddess I never set my eyes upon? I don't know Ereshkigal, never met her! Had I been introduced to her, I might consider the possibility of paying homage to Her. But why would a god like me kneel or bow in front of you, a messenger from an older sister I never met? You, a simple envoy?’

Namtar could not utter a word, so outraged he was at Nergal’s insolence. The faithful vizier fought hard to keep composure. Finally, he retrieved his voice:

‘ I’ll have to report to my Lady of your unspeakable behavior, my god! No one, indeed no one offends Ereshkigal in vain.’

Immediately, Namtar vanished in the air and from the Worlds Above to report to Ereshkigal. In the banquet room, heavy silence fell. The Anunnaki, the Great Gods of Mesopotamia, were frozen by surprise. Enki, the God of Magic, Wisdom and of the Sweet Waters, the Craftiest of all gods, seemed to recover first. He nodded in disbelief before approaching Nergal:

‘ Nergal, Nergal, you've just made a fool of yourself! No wonder you are the God of War and all Diseases! You managed to disgrace yourself in the most unspeakable way in front of my twin sister, Ereshkigal the Queen of the Underworld. What are you going to do now? ’

Nergal looked around and noticed the astonished faces of his brother and sisters, the Great Gods of the Heights Above. There was deep concern reflected on their faces... for his fate? Suddenly, Nergal realized that he might indeed have made a terrible mistake by ignoring Ereshkigal. He turned to Enki.

‘ Great Enki, Wisest among the gods, is Ereshkigal so terrible? Am I then doomed? ’

‘ Surely Ereshkigal's wrath is the strength of Chaos itself, and you, Nergal, made your own bed, so now lie on it’, replied Enki, not hiding the truth from Nergal.

‘ Will Ereshkigal go after me? ‘ asked Nergal visibly becoming concerned.

‘ The law of the Underworld is the law of Balance, Regeneration and Growth. You were unspeakably rude to someone you did not know, but who was entitled at least to common courtesy you decided to ignore. Sooner or later you will have to face the right retribution for what you’ve done to Ereshkigal. You are young, Nergal, impulsive in your ways. Thus I will give you as bit of hand: where magic reigns there is always a way. Perhaps there is something you can do that will hopefully save your skin. Let me think. Indeed, you must go on a journey to the Underworld to see Ereshkigal, but not before you prepare yourself carefully for it. First, with a sacred sword in your hands, go to the forest and ask permission to Ningishzida, the lord of the good tree, to cut down wood from sacred trees. From this sacred wood, you will carve yourself a chair, paint it with the right colors and the right symbols. This will mean that you are offering the seat to the ghosts and spirits of the Underworld in your place.’

‘ Is that all I should do? It seems to be so easy!’

Enki shook his head:

‘ No, there is much, much more you should learn, know and do before you dare to see Ereshkigal face to face! I wonder why I am helping you, Nergal! With your attitude perhaps I should leave you to the clutches of the Queen of the Great Below....’

‘ Oh, no, Great Enki, please brother, help me out! ! I need to know what to do! If I am to meet the old hag... pardon me, our older Sister in her domains I definitely need some counseling.’

‘ Alright, I cannot let you go without giving you some advice,’ sighed Enki. ‘ Even if I am not sure that pigheaded as you are you will profit from it! Anyway, this is what you have to do from the moment you arrive in the Underworld: don't sit on any chair they bring to you, don't eat any bread, meat , neither drink beer, wine or anything you are offered. Also, don't wash your feet, and most of all, when Ereshkigal has been to the bath and dressed herself in a fine dress, allowing you to glimpse at her body, you must not, indeed you mustn't by all means do that which men and woman do. Understood? ’

‘ Enki, brother, you surprise me!’ exclaimed Nergal. ‘ Surely I wouldn’t feel like making love to the goddess who wants my carcass!’

‘ Ereshkigal may surprise you, Nergal,’ smiled Enki knowingly. With the eyes of memory, he remembered the goddess of his youth, his sister and best friend, whom he had loved as his own soul. ‘ Never say never. Follow my instructions to the letter and I wish you luck.’

Nergal followed Enki’s instructions. He went to the forest and asked Ningishzida, the Lord of the Good Trees, to cut down wood from sacred trees to carve a chair to be presented to Ereshkigal. With great care, Nergal painted the chair with the right colors, he covered the chair with fitting ornaments and symbols.

Meanwhile, having been informed by Namtar of Nergal’s lack of courtesy, Ereshkigal just waited. The Queen of the Underworld knew sooner or later Nergal would face the consequences of his acts. She would wait until this moment came, when Nergal would Learn his lesson for having been so unspeakably rude to her.

Finally, Nergal got the chair and himself ready to descend. Because he was going on a visit, he also left behind the symbols of his Warrior Powers, the scimitar and the lion-headed sceptre. Only the chair he had laboriously crafted Nergal carried as a trophy as he descended the long stairway of Heaven to the Depths Below. The Lord of War and Diseases, the untamed proud Nergal, totally unarmed, without any sign of rank or status, thus set his face towards the Underworld, the Land of No Return, where Ereshkigal reigned supreme. Upon the first gate of the Underworld, he met Namtar.

‘ Who dares to approach the Gates of the Land of No Return ahead of his or her time? ‘ Namtar asked, examining Nergal with a piercing eye. When he saw who he was, Namtar’s face went as livid as cut tamarisk, his lips grew dark. ‘ Oh, it is you! The god who did not pay respects to my Lady, the only god who did not kneel and humble himself before me, the Messenger of the Great Queen Ereshkigal. Stay where you are, my lord, for I need to report to my Queen of your arrival’.

Nergal felt like moving forwards, but his body refused to obey his will. Namtar rushed to meet Ereshkigal.

‘ My lady, ‘ he started out of breath, but not before making a perfect long bow’, one of the Gods of the Heights Above has come unannounced and uninvited to the Land of No Return. His coming may not please you...’

‘ How is it so, Namtar?’ asked Ereshkigal.

‘ Great Queen, when you sent me to your father’s banquet, when I entered the Skyfather’s courtyard, all the gods were kneeling, humbled before me in respect to my Lady. The gods rose to their feet in my presence, because they were greeting not my humble self, but my Queen. Only one god did not kneel, did not humble himself in my presence, did not show due respect for you. This god is now at the entrance of the first gate.’

Ereshkigal’s mysterious smile greeted Namtar’s news:

‘ Bring the god to my presence, Namtar,’ replied Ereshkigal. ‘ I really want to meet the god who did not show reverence or respect to me.’

Namtar came back to the first gate and allowed Nergal in. He let Nergal through the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth and the seventh gate of the Land of No Return. Nergal came into the broad courtyard, and on he proceeded to Ereshkigal’s audience chambers. Once there, Nergal put the chair down and, raised his eyes to look up to Ereshkigal, sat in all regalia on the High Throne.

Once again Namtar’s voice resonated deeply in the courtyard, as he barred Nergal’s approach.

‘ You are not allowed to proceed, my lord, or look up to meet my lady’s eyes until you leave your prejudices and misconceptions behind. Not until you do this, you won’t be able to proceed and glance at the face the Great Queen. Look first within your mind, heart, body and soul, for this is the Sight that will give you Truth Beyond All Appearances. Remember that all you see in the Underworld is the True Essence of All there Is. If you come with fear, fear you will have before you find healing and wholeness. Healing and Wholeness is the Underworld Souls’ Journey and Quest, whereby only the strong have the right to find Ultimate Peace and Quiet’.

Namtar’s voice resonated in the high chamber, deep in Nergal’s mind, body and soul. The authority of Ereshkigal’s vizier could not be denied. Nergal did exactly as he was told. Only then he raised his eyes to meet Ereshkigal’s.

Nergal caught his breath at her sight. Where was the old hag he had expected to find? Where was the grumpy ruler of the Land of No Return, the hard mistress who allowed the dead to live deprived of light, who offered dust as food, clay as bread and feathers as clothing? He saw nothing of the kind, and then he understood: these were misconceptions, and not Truth.

Instead, the vision who greeted him was of a woman seated on a high throne, a beautiful lady dressed in black, with long raven hair and an aura of power that rendered him speechless.

Ereshkigal did not look old, but ageless. The daughter of Nammu, the Primeval Sea and the Skyfather An and twin sister of Enki was beautiful, but her beauty came more from Inner Strength and a Power from Within he could not name it yet. Nergal knew, though, without the shadow of a doubt, that from the moment his eyes had met hers, she had captured his mind, body, heart and soul. Ereshkigal looked hard, yet Nergal felt no discomfort. Indeed, he understood the sort of hardness she was made of. It was pure and simple the detachment and poise of a Great Judge of Deeds and Beings, which was exactly what she was. With perfect courtesy, Nergal did what he had so thoughtlessly denied Ereshkigal before: he knelt and kissed the ground in front of the Queen of the Great Below. The move, though, was most natural. Ereshkigal’s sight had commanded this action from the very bottom of his warrior heart.

The Queen of the Underworld took her time to examine the young Anunnaki god who knelt with perfect courtesy in front of her. Nergal was tall, with long black hair. His long open-fronted robe showed muscular legs, a perfectly well-built body, a warrior’s body. He also had the arrogance and impulsiveness of the young. Ereshkigal kept silence, but a knowing smile played on her lips.

‘ So I have finally met the son of Enlil and Ninlil,’ she thought, ‘conceived at the gates of the Underworld, as part of Enlil’s and Ninlil’s initiatory journeys to grow as a Divine Couple in full Knowledge and Knowing of One Another and Sacred Partnership. Now Nergal has descended himself, having left behind the symbols of his authority, the scimitar and lion-headed sceptre. I wonder about what lesson would the Lord of Conflict and Diseases will learn from his Descent to the Underworld?’

But it was too soon for her to say anything. She was the Guardian and Judge of Deeds and Beings. Nergal would have to prove himself worthy of such judgement first.

After some minutes of mutual appraisal, Ereshkigal broke the silence, her deep melodious voice resonating deep within Nergal’s heart:

‘ May I ask who you are and why you have come to me?’ she asked quietly.

Where was the wrath, the anger Nergal had expected from Ereshkigal? For the second time she had taken him totally by surprise. Her question had been wholly predictable, except that he had not thought about or considered it. Off balance, Nergal looked at the chair and decided to follow a wild guess that crossed his mind.

‘ Great Lady, I am Nergal, God of War and all Diseases....’

‘ And why have you come to me? ‘ asked relentlessly Ereshkigal.

Nergal swallowed hard and continued:

‘ An, your father, sent me to see you. He said: " Sit on that throne," he pointed out to the chair he carved," and judge the cases of the Great Gods." So I did his bidding and came to see you. I crafted this throne which I offer in your honor.’

Nergal’s made up excuse was so funny that Ereshkigal decided to play along with it.

‘ So An decided that I should have a Companion to judge the cases of the Great Gods? After all this time? ‘ she asked, pretending real surprise. ‘ How kind of my father, but I cannot allow you to sit and judge the cases by my side before you have spent some time with me in this realm. Not before you have sat on a throne by my side, but not on the chair you have carved. Yes, most definitely, not before you have eaten and drunk from my table I will give An and yourself my answer. Only then I’ll see whether you can stay and be a Judge of Souls in the Underworld. While you prove yourself to me, enjoy the delights of the Land of No Return. Be my Guest, Nergal.’

Ereshkigal retired in style and Nergal was left alone in the high chamber. Not for long though. Another throne, food and drinks were presented to Nergal by servants commanded by Namtar’s efficient voice. Nergal remembered Enkis words not to drink or eat from the Underworld table and not to have his feet washed. All these offerings Nergal refused, one at a time.

Ereshkigal returned, and smiled quietly at the untouched seat, food and drink. The Great Queen did not lose her cool composure:

‘ I see you don't want partake of my table, don’t sit by my side or allow yourself to be washed and pampered, Nergal. Well, I repeat: be my guest! I will leave you now to your devices as I go and bathe.’

Ereshkigal went to the bath house and dressed herself in a fine dress. Nergal could not help but follow her suit. He was curiously attracted to Ereshkigal.

The Queen of the Underworld knew she had been followed. In the bath house, she kept the curtains slightly open, she got undressed, she bathed and anointed herself. Then she put her queenly robes and fastened around her neck and breasts the right amulets. All this she allowed Nergal to catch a glimpse of. The god of War declared then defeat, as he gave in to his heart’s desire to do with Ereshkigal what men and women do. Boldly, Nergal walked towards her.

‘ O My Lady! I give in! I give in to my heart's desire to do with you that which men and women do!’ he said, with deep emotion. ‘ Lady of Darkness, Queen of the Underworld, I've courted you unknowingly all my life. Your loneliness is my own, for mine is the burden of bringing War and Pestilences as the Ultimate Solution for humanity to learn about peace, health, fertility and wealth. Yours is the voice calling to my heart, yours is the soul I've always known I'd find!’

The two embraced each passionately.

‘ For you, who descended to the Land of the Dead for me, I bathed in water, anointed myself with sweet oil,’ said Ereshkigal,’ for you, who descended to the Underworld, not knowing what challenge you would face, I put the grand queenly robes and fastened to my breast the sacred amulets; for you, who came down to the Lowest Depths to face my Justice, I give the Peace of my Embrace and all the Joy Love can make. So come to me, Nergal, lord of War, and water my vulva with the power of your lion’s heart!’

Nergal did give in to this heart's desire to do what men and women do. The Queen of the Underworld and the Lord of War embraced each other and went passionately to bed. They laid there, Queen Ereshkigal and Nergal for a first day and a second day. Then they laid there for a third, a fourth, a fifth and a sixth day and night.

When the seventh dawn came, Nergal, holding Ereshkigal asleep in his arms, felt the full impact of having surrendered to Ereshkigal’s charms. Fear gripped his heart: too much he had been called to give, was he ready for... all that?

‘ My sister and beloved,’ he whispered in her ear, ‘ we have been together for six days. Now the seventh is dawning, and a full cycle is coming to an end. Lady who Captured my Heart, are you truly the Answer to my Desires, the Candle to my Fire, Needle to my Thread, Friend the Very Best? You might not be the One. Until I find out, I will leave you to the Upperworld one more time, hopefully to return. Yes, I will return to you, but I must go one more time to the Heights Above to find out about us, whether I surely should stay in the Underworld and leave no more.’

Nergal did not dare to wake Ereshkigal up. He kissed her and gently laid her on the bed, not looking back to the Sacred Marriage bed. Like a thief, he gained the courtyard, like a ghost he avoided meeting faithful Namtar, who saw Nergal trying to escape unnoticed before his very eyes. But for all Namtar’s skill, Nergal was more agile still. The Lord of War crossed the seven gates, ascended the stairway to Heaven and reached the Heights Above not looking back.

When Nergal arrived at the gates of the Worlds Above, to his surprise, he met An, Enlil and Enki. Enki saw him and immediately guessed what had taken place:

‘ So you have come back to us! But I would bet my soul that Ereshkigal does not know that you have returned to the Worlds Above. Am I not right? ‘

‘ Yes, ‘ replied Nergal, not denying the truth.

‘ Don’t tell me, let me guess: you also ate and drank from Ereshkigal’s table, sat by her side on the throne that she indicated to you and made love to her, leaving her then without telling her so!'

'Yes', Nergal had to agree.

' Nergal, there is a bond between Ereshkigal and you now: you cannot hide from her, for she will search relentlessly for you! You made the most fateful mistake and this time you won’t escape unscathed!’ exclaimed Enki.

‘ I don’t know whether I actually want to escape, ‘ said Nergal cryptically, ‘ but Enki, brother, please help me out. I need to buy myself some time to think before I definitely commit myself to Ereshkigal and the Depths Below for good.’

Because Enki himself had been to the Underworld, he understood Nergal’s dilemma. Also, the weight of Nergal’s sincerity touched Enki profoundly.

‘ I see. And will help you again, Nergal, for the time being. Sprinkle this sacred water over your body: it will disguise your face and features so that Ereshkigal won’t recognize you. At least for now!’

 In the Underworld, Namtar saw Nergal’s departure and immediately reported to his Mistress:

‘ My Lady, please awake! The messenger of An, our father, who came down to see us, before daylight he disappeared! Like a thief, he stole into the night, like a ghost he left the seven gates to the Underworld behind. The Lord of War is no where in the Underworld to find!’

Ereshkigal woke up and, touching the empty space by her side, was hit by the pain of facts announced by Namtar.

‘ Nergal, Erra, the lover of my delight, I did not have enough of you and you dared to leave me! Gone is my lover, my fiery, furious lover, gone is the Chosen of my Heart, why have you declared on me this War? ‘

Hot tears streamed down the grieving goddess’ face. They broke Namtar’s heart.

‘ Great Lady, send me to An, your father, and let me arrest that god! Let me take him to you that he may kiss you again!’ he suggested.

Ereshkigal made her voice heard as she addressed these words to Namtar:

‘ Yes, you are right, Namtar. I won't grieve this time, but act!’ she wiped out some stubborn tears with a wave of an angry hand. ‘ Go, Namtar! You must speak to An, Enlil and Enki and say to them that since I was a child and daughter, since I have descended to the Underworld, I have not known the playing of other girls, I have not known the romping of children. I have been so utterly alone. Then a god came to me. And that god who was sent to me, he also has impregnated me. I carry his seed. Thus, let him sleep with me again! Send that god to us, and let him spend many more nights with me as my lover! If the Great Ones of the Heights Above do not send that god to me, according to the rites of Erkalla and the great Earth, I shall raise up the dead and they will eat the living, I shall make the dead outnumber the living! And as I will, so be it!’

Namtar rushed without further delay to do his lady’s bidding. He came up the long stairway of heaven to arrive at the Worlds Above. There, at the gate of An, Namtar met the Skyfather himself, Enlil and Enki, who asked him why he had come for to the Heights Above.

‘ Listen to me, O Great Gods of the Heights Above! Again I come to you on behalf of Ereshkigal, my Queen and Ruler of the Underworld, to deliver a message. My lady says that since I she was a child and daughter, she has not known the playing of other girls, she has not known the romping of children. That god who was sent to her, the god who made love to my lady and in joy impregnated her- let him sleep with her again! Send that god to the Land of No Return, and let him spend many more nights Queen Ereshkigal as her lover and consort, Judge and Ruler of the Depths Below. Because if the Great Ones of the Heights Above do not send that god to Great Ereshkigal according to the rites of Erkalla and the great Earth, she shall raise up the dead and they will eat the living, she shall make the dead outnumber the living! These were the words of my lady to the Great Gods, to the holy Assembly.’

Enki addressed the following words to Namtar:

‘ Enter, Namtar, the court of An and search your wrongdoer. When you find him, take him back to your lady, our Sister Ereshkigal.’

Namtar re-entered the company of the gods of the Worlds Above. When he entered the court of An, all the gods were kneeling humbled before him, all the gods of the land were kneeling humbled before him. Namtar examine closely the faces of all the gods.

‘ Not you! Not you either! I don’t recognize you!’ he kept saying, even when he passed by Nergal in disguise by Enki’s art. But Nergal could not help blinking and cringing at the envoy’s approach. Namtar did notice the strange behavior of that young god, but passed by him, as that face did not resemble Nergal’s imposing features.

‘ I thank you, Great Gods of the Heights Above,’ said Namtar. ‘ I could not find the wrongdoer this time. I'll come back to the Kingdom of Down Below. ‘

Namtar retired in grand style, to return to his mistress without fulfilling his mission. Once there, he went to her, to report his lack of success.

‘ My Lady, about your sending me up to the heavens of An, your father to search for Nergal: I could not find him, although I looked into the faces of all gods present in the Great Assembly. Although I must say that there was just one god who kept avoiding me, blinking and cringing, but I could not recognize him.’

‘ Go back Namtar, seize that god and bring him to me’, said Ereshkigal. ‘ I guess Enki, my cunning brother, has worked out some magic for the protection of Nergal so that you couldn't see him. Now, make haste, depart and try and see beyond appearances.’

‘ I hear and obey, my Lady.’

Namtar bowed deeply and vanished to the Worlds Above. Once back in the Assembly, in the presence of all the Great Gods, he raises his voice to say:

‘ O Great Ones of the Heights Above, again I lend you graces on behalf of Queen Ereshkigal. I came to bring back to the Underworld the God who left without proper farewells to my Lady, who abandoned the Underworld in a most ungracious and cowardly way. I call upon Nergal, God of War and Pestilences. Where do you hide? Have you already forgotten the six days and six nights of passion that you enjoyed in the Realms of Down Below? You must come back to my Lady, because you ate and drank from her table, sat by her side in the high seat and made love to the Queen, impregnating her with your seed. You need to come back, my lord, for to the Worlds Below is where you truly belong.’

Nergal took to heart the speech of Namtar. The courageous Lord of War surrendered his mind, body and soul to Ereshkigal. He prepared himself carefully, oiled his strap and slung his bow. Sure of his purpose, strong in his resolve, Nergal advanced towards Namtar:

‘ No, Namtar, I have not forgotten Ereshkigal! I might have left, but surely intended to go back... in my own time and season! Well, I'll prove one thing to Ereshkigal for sure: she won't have me at the palm of her hand! Indeed, ruler of the Underworld she may be, but I demand to be treated as her Equal, Brother God and Companion. It is me now who is going to the Underworld, smash its doors and teach her a lesson!’

Nergal fulfilled his word. Immediately he set out for the Underworld, demanding entrance at every gate in quiet, full authority. He did not surrender to provocation, kept his quick temper on a strong hold to win his way through the gates and be granted passage by the Seven Guardians of the Thresholds of the Great Below:

‘ Guardians of the Gates! Let the gates open! It is Nergal, God of War, who chose of his own free will to return to Ereshkigal and Worlds Below who bids you so. Now I shall race past you to see your lady! I don’t want to fight any of you: just grant me the right of passage! ‘

As he advanced, Nergal felt bubbling joy. Thus his feet sped through Ereshkigal’s courtyard, he raced to go up to her and laughed at the beautiful sight of her sitting on the high throne.

Ereshkigal tilted slightly her head, raised an eyebrow:

‘ So you came back to me, my god ... out of your free and spanked will?’

‘ Did I tell you that I wouldn't? ‘

‘ You never told me you were going away either.’

Nergal could not resist seizing her by the hair to kiss her boldly in the mouth.

‘ Have you always been so bossy? I think you've been on your own for too long here in the Underworld, beloved. So Im staying. With you. In the Underworld, not as your captive though. But as your consort, judging the cases of the gods and humans with you in the Worlds Below.’

Nergal looked around and picked up the throne he had carved and brought to the Underworld himself. He placed it by Ereshkigal's Holy Seat, and with an engaging smile proposed to her, kneeling on the ground:

‘ Will you accept me, my Lady? To reign by your side, as your consort, friend and king? ‘

‘ Do you know what you are asking? Do you fully understand what you are embarking on?’ asked Ereshkigal with her usual straightforwardness.

Nergal sighed deeply, not out of regret, but of relief. Ereshkigal was demanding him the full truth, and he was ready to give it to her this time, no strings attached, but with a firm vow made in freedom. To her, to his new mission in the Underworld.

‘ I am ready to be your Consort and accept the rules of the Underworld. I am ready to seat by your side and help you judge the cases brought to you so that balance and justice can be found in all worlds. I do it out of my own free will. Lady of Ancestral Justice and Balance, I give up for you my place among the Gods of the Heights Above. Since the beginnings of Creation mine was the burden of teaching humanity love, health, wealth and peace through the horrors of loss, pain, poverty and war caused by mankind's own stupidity. Long and lonely was my journey until now, so I kindly request you, my lady, the privilege of sharing with you the burdens to judge and heal all worlds.’

Nergal knelt on the ground and presented to the Queen of the Depths of his Heart the lion-headed sceptre and his scimitar, the symbols of his Inner and Outer Power:

‘ To seal my commitment, I place my symbols of power at your service.’

Ereshkigal’s face was resplendent with joy:

‘ Nergal, love of my heart, Companion of my Lonely Soul, I do welcome you into my heart, I do welcome you into the Realms of the Underworld as my Consort, Judge and Ruler by my side! So what are you waiting for? Come and embrace me, my Lord and Beloved! Now!

A passionate kiss sealed Nergal’s and Ereshkigal’s vows. At this very moment, Namtar arrived and stopped to apologize:

‘ My lady and lord, my most sincere apologies!’

Nergal , still embracing Ereshkigal said to Namtar:

‘ No, Namtar, you arrived in good time! Go back to the Heights Above and say to An that I am staying with our Older Sister Ereshkigal in the Underworld. Out of my own free will.’

‘ May the Underworld be also known from now on as the world of Redemption, Love and Peace Restored in all Levels!’ said Ereshkigal.

 Namtar returned to the Worlds Above and addressed a message to the gods of the Heights Above. His voice then resonated loud, clear and gay in all spheres:

‘ O Great Ones of the Heights Above! I came on behalf of my lady Ereshkigal and her Beloved Consort Nergal! My Lord Nergal has chosen to stay in the World of Down Below and so come a Judge of the cases presented to them out there. As a True Companion of Queen Ereshkigal he will share with her the Responsibilities of ruling the Realms of the Underworld. And I invite you to say: Hail, hail to Ereshkigal and Nergal, Queen and King of the Underworld! May it be known that there is love Down Below, and that Divine Justice always prevails in the Realms where all Souls go!

 

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