A personal view of Enlil





















Enlil is one of the Great Gods of Mesopotamia, bearing the epithets of "the father of the gods", "king of heaven and earth", "king of all lands", "establisher of kingship". His name, usually translated as Lord Air, appears in the earliest Sumerian texts (Jemdet-Nasr period) and already in a prominent place in the Old Sumerian pantheon lists (Fara), but its meaning is disputed: air, wind and breath of the universe (inspiration, spirit perhaps?). In terms of genealogy, according to the oldest account of creation, or the Eridu model, He is said to be the firstborn of An and Ki, the Earth Mother, and the first of the Anunnaki, the Great Mesopotamian gods. He is also sometimes described as the descendant of Enki (not to be confounded with Ea/Enki) and Ninki as Lord and Lady Earth. Enlilīs city is Nippur, the religious capital of Mesopotamia, and His main temple there is called the E-Kur. Apart from royal inscriptions, Enlil (or his epithets or temples) feature prominently in the personal names from all periods of Mesopotamian history. He is the subject of numerous Sumerian liturgical hymns and Babylonian prayers. As one of the great gods, He was worshipped in many other cities, such as Ashur, Babylon, Kullaba, Uruk, Elam, etc.

Enkiīs consort is Ninlil, and their story is told in a Sumerian myth called Enlil and Ninlil, which can be found in tablets from the Old and Middle Babylonian periods. Enlil and Ninlil is perhaps the most passionate of all descent stories in world mythology, and I urge you to explore it further. Ninlilīs and Enlilīs offpring include Nanna/Sin, the Moon God, Nergal, Lord of Battle, Diseases and Lord of the Underworld and Ningiszida, Lord of the Good Tree, among others. A lighter Sumerian composition reconstructed from an Old Babylonian version from Nippur pairs Enlil with a young goddess called Sud. As in Enlil and Ninlil, the young god makes advances to her, and is indignantly rejected. Sud disappears into her parentīs house, and Enlil returns to Nippur, but sends his vizier Nusku to officially ask for Sudīs hand. A caravan loaded with gifts leaves Nippur, led by the goddess Aruru/Ninmah. Sud accepts Enlil and is led to the Ekur, where they consumate the marriage on the "shining bed". Enlil calls her then Nintu, the Lady who Gives Birth, Ashnan (Grain) and finally Ninlil, the great wife of Enlil, queen of Nippur. I would risk an educated guess that Aruru/Ninmahīs acceptance to the wedding confers to the young goddess the epithets which from now on She will share with Aruru/Ninmah, who is also Ninhursag-Ki.

Enlil is next to Anu in rank, but embodying energy and force rather than the calm authority of Anu, states Thorkild Jacobsen in "The Treasures of Darkness". The title "en" stands for Lord in the sense of control and active power, thus being the main agent of his father Anu. It is not certain what the Sumerian element lil originally stood for; later bilingual lists denote a relationship with ersetu, country, earth, as well as wind, dust-storm. Enlilīs throne is the Duku, or holy mound.


To better apprehend the complexity of Enlil it is necessary first to get back in time to the roots of our soul ancestorsīperception of the world. As the firstborn of Ki and Anu, Enlil is the manifestation of force and energy, symbolised by the strength and renewal of the Spring winds. Adapa of the Twin Rivers Rising added that wind/air can be analogous to spirit, and we will see that Enlil in The Phoenician Letters is the Inspired Word that is born from silence and devotion, which is also Unstoppable, or as put in a hym: "Enlil, whose command is far-reaching, whose Word is holy, the Lord whose pronouncement is unchangeable, who forever decrees destinies", because His is the gift to name all that is, which will becomes Form/Reality when moulded by Enki.

As the physical manifestation of Anuīs and Kiīs energy on earth, Enlil establishes Himself as the greatest of the young gods by creating and giving to humankind the agricultural implements that would provide Mesopotamians with the means to work the land for crops, the pickax, the hoe and the plow. It is Enlil that also made the day come forth and laid the plans that brought forth all seeds, plants and trees from the earth. This way plenty and abundance were also established on earth, or as written in a hymn to Him:

"Without Enlil, the great mountain, no cities would be built, no settlements founded
No stalls would be built, no sheepfold established,
No king would be raised, no high priest born..." (Kramer, S. N. History begins at Sumer, pg. 92)

Enlil can be therefore seen first as the god who made agriculture known to His people, therefore providing for their sustenance beyond the sphere of hunting and gathering.

Secondly and of paramount importance to understand both Enlil and Enki, Enlilīs beloved brother, the God of the Sweet Waters, Crafts and Wisdom, is that if kingship descended from the Heavens to Eridu, city sacred to Enki, it is in Nippur, Enlilīs city, that kingship becomes established. In the myth of Creation of the Pickax, it is said "the pickax and the basket build cities". We can see therefore in Enlil how farmlands became forever linked to settlements in Mesopotamia, and why since Early Dynastic period Nippur became the religious capital of Mesopotamia, not the actual seat of a ruling dynasty, but the place where all ruling dynasties of Mesopotamia converged for legitimacy. Texts from the period of the Third Dynasty of Ur which may record earlier practices, say that the king of Sumer was proclaimed or confirmed by the Divine Assembly at Nippur, and that Enlil was said to bestow the divine authority, given to him by his father Anu, to the legitimate leader of the country. This function is acknowledged in many royal inscriptions. In Akkadian texts (from Old Babylonian period onwards), the concept of Enlilīs authority is known as elliluītu or Ellilship. Like Anu, Enlil could promote other deities by conferring Ellilship upon them (thereby sanctioning the elevation of "new gods", such as Marduk and Ashur). In this capability, one of His epithets is Nunnamir, or the "well-respected".

Thirdly and not least important is the fact that Enlil represents the allmighty forces and powers which are beyond human comprehension and control. In this sense Enlil embodies the full range of powers given to him by Anu and the Assembly of the Great Gods of Mesopotamia, the Igigi and the Anunnaki. Within this framework, He appears as in the Myth of the Flood in Sumer, in the Akkadian myth of Atrahasis and in the Epic of Gilgamesh as unfavorably disposed to humankind at first, but then reviews his ways and allow for humankind to continue to exist.

Now, I would kindly ask you to ignore allusions to Enlil as a violent and destructive deity. Samuel Noah Kramer (in History begins at Sumer, 1983) stresses that this was never the case, although Enlil has the duty to carry out godsī decrees in Mesopotamia, thus possessing ultimate power to create and destroy. Indeed, a closer look at myths where Enlil appears as wrathful also shows that He reviews his positions when admonished especially by Enki. Indeed, Adapa of the Twin Rivers Rising in his brilliant article "The Necromicon and Ancient Sumer: debunking the Myth" states the following about the character of Sumerian gods:

" The Good vs. Evil dichotomy inherent in such Ancients/Elders system [the Necromicon, and in extension, Sumerian Religion, Lishtarīs Note] simply did not exist within the religion. ... Such good vs evil motifs on a divine scale would not be developed historically until the emergence of later Semitic religions in the region. The Gods in the Sumerian and Babylonian religion were all inherently "good", though purely in the sense of being "divine". Their natures, however, were subject to shifting whimsy, and they were not above acts which might be called "bad" (for want of a better descriptor".

Next in the same text, Adapa with the insight of a true Mystic and Scholar of the Tradition goes further in the analysis of Enlilīs role in the Flood Myth by saying:

"In the Atrahasis myth, when faced with the mounting cacophony produced by the burgeoning race of mankind (which noise pitilessly disturbed his midday naps...), the God Enlilīs response was to send plague, pestilence and war and finally the Great Deluge upon mankind. It was only with the intercession of God Enki that the seed of mankind was saved. Yet his act is not judged within the framework of Religion as Evil; Enlil is mrerely recognized as a God whose wrath is mighty. This illustrates the ancient Mesopotamian view that "evil" in the sense of "suffered" evil often occurred due to some transgression on the part of the actor. This view maintained the Hermetic harmony inherent in Sumerian religion".

What we have in this paragraph is a thing of wonder: Adapa brought the healing that was missing to make Enlilīs image wholer to us.

On a cosmic level, while Enki's realm was below (the abzu), and An rules above (the heavens), Enlil's realm is the earth and the spheres of the winds and weather above it. The title of father of the gods is already used by Entemena of Lagash, and from about the first Dynasty of Larsa, He is the one who decides the fate, a function He shares with Enki, Ninhursag and Inanna.


The chapter on Enlil in "The Phoenician Letters" is of paramount importance to us, because in it it is celebrated the mystery of the Word as lived by our Soul Ancestors. But the Word that the text speaks about is the Holy Word that is born from Silence and that brings with it Change and is Unstoppable for those who listen to its Calling. I quote:

" Listen to it in your chamber in the silent watches of your prayer. Let it declare unto you its message. Try not to make its way either clear or difficult. Indeed, better were it for you to leave it alone for your mind in wisdom to follow it. There is no other time to hear it but now, for what you have seen or understood has presently gone. Only now may be it heard, only now may it be spoken, and only now, by him, the voice of the air and the fire.

"We have been given a description for the simple mind to observe. " As a darkened chamber in the high desert when all is still before the dawn. That word, too fast to be followed, too slow to be comprehended, so powerful to shake even the depths, so gentle and immoveable, both speaker and listener, cause and end. Who understands it understands nothing, who declares its likeness lies; who knows it is ignorant; who does not know it is ignorant. He who knows it as his centre lies, who does not know it as his centre is mistaken, for it is high noon in the busy city.

Remember your instruction in the word, neglect not the word in the midst of affairs. Do not forget the instruction, for there is no other time."

This is one of the most beautiful descriptions of meditation and inner work in world religion to my knowledge, on a par with the one found in the Corpus Hermeticum, "the voice that claimed out of a sleep that was not dreaming". Consequently, the gift of Enlilīs Sacred Word is Wisdom, and letīs turn to the words of the Phoenician Letters again:

" Now wisdom is the gift of Enlil, it is the embodiment of the word. It has the attribute of freedom. It does not modify; it creates, it has the quality of inspiration. It is discovery of possibility. .... His will is His word. There is no duality, for the voice of the master sets the worlds in motion. His will is such that it penetrates to the length and the breadth and the depth and the height and to the ten directions. Where His word is, there is His will, gently penetrating with greatest force and power, no more than is needed and no less. Without effort. Nothing can halt it, nought delay it. His will is manifested in all the nights and days of the worlds. He calls them by their names and they answer each in his place and his time and his body whether they be seen or unseen, greater or lesser. He is the penetrator, the least action for the move. How much greater, then is the power of Enlil: He speaks and worlds come into being, His voice sounds and they pass away as though they had never been."

Thus, we reach the point where we should explore one of Enlilīs main gifts, which, nevertheless, is Unspoken because it is Manifested wherever His Will rules: empowerment, the foundation of king/queenship or "ellilship".

On the whole, the gifts brought by Enlil are: Divine Energy. Consciousness, Realisation, Inspiration and Empowerment, which can acquire Form, or the physical manifestation of will, thoughts and acts in all worlds. Thus, we move towards Enki, Enlilīs younger favorite brother. The link between both is also sealed by the Tablets of Destiny, the laws of the land, which were kept first by Enlil, and then passed on to Enki, who bestowed them to his favorite niece Inanna.


Back To 'Lords of Passion...'

Back To The 'Gods'-Section