Death of a god
Posted by Fredsvenn on December 14, 2016
Tammuz (Balder) – The seasons
Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) is a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.
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, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.
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. In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East.
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.
Gugalanna – The equinox
Gugalanna (Sumerian gu.gal.an.na, “the Great Bull of Heaven”), better known as the Bull of Heaven (Sumerian: gu.an.na), was 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 the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”. The Akkadian name was Alu.
To the Egyptians, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull that was associated with the renewal of life in spring. When the spring equinox entered Taurus, the constellation would become covered by the Sun in the western sky as spring began. This “sacrifice” led to the renewal of the land. To the early Hebrews, Taurus was the first constellation in their zodiac and consequently it was represented by the first letter in their alphabet, Aleph.
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. The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC. As this constellation marked the vernal equinox,
In early Mesopotamian art, the Bull of Heaven was closely associated with Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. One of the oldest depictions shows the bull standing before the goddess’ standard; since it has 3 stars depicted on its back (the cuneiform sign for “star-constellation”), there is good reason to regard this as the constellation later known as Taurus.
In Egypt, Taurus was seen as the cow goddess Hathor. Hathor was the goddess of beauty, love, and happiness, and she represented all of the riches seen in cattle as the providers of nourishment. Roman astrologers considered Taurus ruled by Venus, the goddess of beauty, and Earth.
The symbol of the bull is based on the Cretan Bull, the white bull that fathered the Minotaur who was killed by Theseus. Greek mythographer Acusilaus marks the bull Taurus as the same that formed the myth of the Cretan Bull, one of The Twelve Labors of Heracles.
Gugalanna was sent by the gods to take retribution upon Gilgamesh for rejecting the sexual advances of the goddess Inanna. Gugalanna, whose feet made the earth shake, was slain and dismembered by Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu. Inanna looked down from the city walls and Enkidu shook the haunches of the bull at her, threatening to do the same if he ever caught her. He is later killed for this impiety.
Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation.
Gugalanna was the first husband of Ereshkigal, ruler of the Underworld, a gloomy place devoid of light. She is the older sister of the goddess, Inanna. Inanna and Ereshkigal represent polar opposites. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven, but Ereshkigal is the queen of Irkalla. It was to share the sorrow with her sister that Inanna later descends to the Underworld.
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.
Between the period of the earliest female figurines circa 4500 BC, a span of a thousand years elapsed, during which the archaeological signs constantly increase of a cult of the tilled earth fertilised by that noblest and most powerful beast of the recently developed holy barnyard, the bull – who not only sired the milk yielding cows, but also drew the plow, which in that early period simultaneously broke and seeded the earth.
Moreover by analogy, the horned moon, lord of the rhythm of the womb and of the rains and dews, was equated with the bull; so that the animal became a cosmological symbol, uniting the fields and the laws of sky and earth.
Taurus was the second sign of the zodiac established among the ancient Mesopotamians – who knew it as the Bull of Heaven – because it was the constellation through which the sun rose on the vernal equinox at that time. Due to the precession of the equinox, it has since passed through the constellation Aries and into the constellation Pisces (hence our current era being known as the Age of Pisces).
The Bull represents a strong-willed character with great perseverance and determination. In Egypt, Taurus was seen as the cow goddess Hathor. Hathor was the goddess of beauty, love, and happiness, and she represented all of the riches seen in cattle as the providers of nourishment. Roman astrologers considered Taurus ruled by Venus, the goddess of beauty, and Earth.
Nergal (Tyr) – the Underworld and it’s rulers
Ereshkigal plays a very prominent and important role in two particular myths. The first myth featuring Ereshkigal is described in the ancient Sumerian epic poem of “Inanna’s Descent to the Netherworld.” In the poem, the goddess, Inanna descends into the Underworld, apparently seeking to extend her powers there.
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.
It is theorized that the story of Inanna’s descent is told to illustrate the possibility of an escape from the netherworld, while the Nergal myth is intended to reconcile the existence of two rulers of the Netherworld: a goddess and a god. The addition of Nergal represents the harmonizing tendency to unite Ereshkigal as the queen of the netherworld with the god who, as god of war and of pestilence, brings death to the living and thus becomes the one who presides over the dead.