Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The olive grooves

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 14, 2016

The Sumerian texts relate how Dumuzid (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, fled to his sister Geshtinana, a minor goddess in Sumerian mythology, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”, who attempted to hide him but who could not in the end stand up to the demons.

Ngeshtin-ana is the sister of Dumuzi and consort of Ningisida, she is involved in the account of Dumuzi trying to escape his fate at the hands of Inana and Ereshkigal. In her house he is changed into a gazelle before being caught and transported to the underworld.

In sumerian mythology she is the daughter of Enki and Ninhursag. When Dumuzi died, Geshtinanna lamentated days and nights. After her death, she became the goddess of wine and cold seasons. She is a divine poet and interpreter of dreams.

Gethsemane (lit. “oil press”) is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, most famous as the place where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before Jesus’ crucifixion.

In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar. The Levantine (“lord”) Adonis, who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, is considered to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.

Inanna was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.

Aries is one of the constellations of the zodiac. It is located in the northern celestial hemisphere between Pisces to the west and Taurus to the east. The name Aries is Latin for ram, and its symbol is representing a ram’s horns.

Although Aries came to represent specifically the ram whose fleece became the Golden Fleece of Ancient Greek mythology, it has represented a ram since late Babylonian times. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship.

The identification of the constellation of Taurus with a bull is very old, certainly dating to the Chalcolithic, and perhaps even to the Upper Paleolithic. Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries.

Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East, as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god.

Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity: tablets discovered in 1963 show that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year.

According to some scholars, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, originally commissioned in 327 by Constantine the Great and his mother Helena over the site that is still traditionally considered to be located over the cave that marks the birthplace of Jesus, is built over a cave that was originally a shrine to Adonis-Tammuz.

The other myth is the story of Nergal, the plague god. Once, the gods held a banquet that Ereshkigal, as queen of the Netherworld, could not come up to attend. They invited her to send a messenger, and she sent her vizier Namtar in her place. He was treated well by all, but for the exception of being disrespected by Nergal.

As a result of this, Nergal was banished to the kingdom controlled by the goddess. Versions vary at this point, but all of them result in him becoming her husband. In later tradition, Nergal is said to have been the victor, taking her as wife and ruling the land himself.

Ereshkigal (lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal, lit. “Great Lady of the Earth” or “Lady of the Great Earth”. She was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom.

In some versions of the myths, she rules the underworld by herself, sometimes with a husband subordinate to her named Gugalana (lit: “the Great Bull of Heaven”), better known as the Bull of Heaven (Sumerian: gu.an.na), a deity in ancient Mesopotamian religion originating in Sumer as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac. It was said that she had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly.

Taurus was the constellation of the Northern Hemisphere’s March equinox from about 3200 bc. The equinox was considered the Sumerian New Year, Akitu, an important event in their religion. The story of the death of Gugalanna has been considered to represent the sun’s obscuring of the constellation as it rose on the morning of the equinox.

The goddess Ishtar refers to Ereshkigal as her older sister in the Sumerian hymn “The Descent of Inanna” (which was also in later Babylonian myth, also called “The Descent of Ishtar”).

Ereshkigal is the sister and counterpart of Inanna/Ishtar, the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year. She is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines which date back to the Mesopotamia period.

According to the doctrine of two kingdoms, the dominions of the two sisters are sharply differentiated, as one is of this world and one of the world of the dead.

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