God of the Month: Vortumnus (Vertumnus)

Little marrow type pumpkin and flower.

Little marrow type pumpkin and yellow flower.

Called The Changer, Vortumnus can be considered the God of Seasonal Change. He causes the plants to swell into vegetables. He turns the grapes purple and ripen the cherries. His influence becomes obvious in August, when the signs of autumn begin to show. At this time, the vegetables are ready to be picked. In the change from winter to spring, the focus is on Liber and Libera, who fertilize the plants. (Vortumnus does bring the warmth of spring.)

Vortunmus is the Protector of Gardens. His wife, Pomona, is the Goddess of Fruit and Fruit Trees. Together, They watch over the fruits and vegetables that we eat. During the Vortumnalia (August 13), I give thanks to Vortunmus for the produce from my grocery store, especially for the heirloom tomatoes.

Salve Vortumnus!
The Changer
The Turner
Your touch causes
The cucumber to ripen
The cherry to be sweet
You bring the changes of each season.
We feel You in the Autumn
But You are always there
The breath of warmth of Spring
The chill of Winter
Turning, turning the seasons one by one.
Salve Vortumnus!

Polytheism and Spiritual Pollution

Mention “miasma,” “pollution,” or “purity” in regards to Polytheism, and many Pagans will take umbrage with these terms. One reason is that Christianity has redefined these Polytheistic terms to match its theology. Since many Pagans are converts from Christianity, they will often think of these concepts in those terms. However, “miasma,” “pollution,” and “purity” had different meanings in Polytheism.

Paganism does have its version of “pollution” and “purity.” Pagans discuss “positive” and “negative” energies. People will cleanse themselves and their spaces routinely to clear out negative energy. For example, crystals are often cleansed before using them. Also, before rituals, many Pagans will smudge themselves to purify themselves and to clean out the ritual space.

Miasma and spiritual pollution are different from both negative energy and Christian sin. Negative energy powers destruction, sickness, and other such things. It can be removed by laughter or positive thinking. Sin is removed by baptism and confession. Miasma, which is specific to Greek Polytheism, is a “spiritual pollution that prevails over all, it is not an ‘evil thing.’” Continuing in his essay, Markos Gage says “Miasma is therefore something we incur in life, everyday life.” (Note 1)

In Roman Polytheism, castus (the adjective) means being morally pure, pious, or ritually pure. Piety (pietas) is maintaining the right relations between people, their Gods, their families, and their communities. Castitas (the noun) is the purity of the ritual and the participants. (Note 2) That means everyone must be physically and mentally cleansed before conducting a ritual. Before a ritual, people perform ablutions by washing their hands and asking that the water purify them.

An error conducted in a ritual is a spiritual pollutant. It negates the ritual and risks the anger of the Gods. It is not that a God will smite someone, but is to maintain the Pax Deorum, the Peace of the Gods. Religious negligence leads to divine disharmony and the turning away of the Gods. This leads to the loss of protection for the family, community, and the individual.

The closest thing that Roman Polytheism has to Christian sin is nefas. This can be defined as anything which is contrary to divine law. Nefas is a failure to fulfill a religious duty. Nefas is a willful act of religious violation.

Polytheists regard the world to be neutral, which differs from Christian theology. St. Augustine stated that the world is both corrupt and corrupting. Therefore, humanity lives in a Fallen World. To Polytheists, the world is both clean and dirty. Kenaz Filan explains, “The world is a clean flowing stream, and miasma the sewage dumped into the water. We clean the stream by filtering that sewage or by redirecting it…to where it can be properly contained.” (Note 3)

Why focus on purity and pollution? When a person prays, divine, or perform any other sacred act, they are engaging with the Holy Powers. There is a doctrine in U.S. law called, “Clean Hands” (also called “Dirty Hands”). (Note 4) The plaintiff cannot have the judge participate in an illegal act. One example is a drug dealer cannot sue to have his stolen drugs be returned. Another is suing the hit man you hired to kill someone for failure to do their job. As Judge Judy says on her TV show, “the courts will not help anyone with dirty hands.” I believe that in our relations with the Gods, we can think of purity and pollution in those terms.

Note 1. Markos Gage, “Answers About Miasma,” from “With Clean Minds and Clean Hands,” Galina Krasskova, ed. P. 51. Markos Gage is a devotee of Dionysius and an artist.

Note 2. The Romans have a Goddess – Lua – who protects all things purified by rituals and for rituals.

Note 3. Kenez Filan, “Miasma” from “With Clean Minds and Clean Hands,” Galina Krasskova, ed. P. 69. Kenez Filan is the author of several books including “Drawing Down the Spirits (with Raven Kaldera)”. He is an initiated Houngan Si Pwen.

Note 4. Clean hands: “Under the clean hands doctrine, a person who has acted wrongly, either morally or legally – that is, who has ‘unclean hands’ – will not be helped by a court when complaining about the actions of someone else.” From The ‘Lectric Law Library, http://www.lectlaw.com/def/c202.htm

Works Used:
Galina Krasskova, “With Clean Minds and Clean Hands”
L. Vitellius Triarius, “Religio Romana Handbook.”

Ashur (Assur) of Assyria


Artist: Basil Blake

As the principal God of Assyria, Ashur and his people are one. As the Assyrians rose to power, Ashur became more widely known. For them, He was the God of the Empire. Emperors like Tiglath Pileser regularly invoked Ashur, as he led the armies into battle. This God empowered the army to greater victories and became the personal God of emperors.

When Assyria became an empire, Ashur absorbed the qualities of the Gods of Sumer and Babylon. Scholars find it difficult to ascertain what his original attributes were. Unfortunately, Ashur came to represent hatred for the Assyrians. When each subjected people broke away, they would profane his shrines. Also because Ashur had assumed the attributes of the Gods of the region, Christian missionaries used Him to promote their religion.

Ashur endures as He has in the hearts of his people. He empowers them to continue on. Although the Assyrian Empire ceased to exist centuries ago, people still carry his name as their own. They also name their children for Ashur.

Noble Ashur
The Whole of Heaven
Empower of Armies
Gracious Ashur
You live in the Stout-hearted
You grant them victories

For Ashur (Assur) in recent news:   Assur and the Destruction of Nimurd

Lessons from the Magic Resistance: Ethics


Before doing any type of magic, the question of ethics has to be addressed. Magic expands beyond the spellcaster and affects people, places, and things. Since magic impels many changes, careful thought must be done first before doing any spells. Therefore examining the ethics behind a desired outcome is necessary.

For the ethics of the Magic Resistance (Against Trump), Michael Hughes (Note 1.), writes “Being a part of the magic resistance means working in service.” (Note 2.) He continues “this magic is done for the higher good of all (emphasis his) of us. (Note 3.) Hughes defines what is meant by “Resistance Magic.” “It is about bending reality in (r) evolutionary directions either by pushing against reactionary and regressive trends or encouraging positive change.” (Note 4.) He continues, “This movement also uses magical practices to promote progressive, inclusive, liberating and empowering political, environmental, economic, and social causes.” (Note 5.)

Theorist Brian Culkin examines the overall resistance to Donald Trump. (The Magic Resistance began in reaction to Trump’s election.) First, he defines what Trump stands for. In “The Meaning of Trump,” Culkin states, “The politics of Donald Trump was grounded and articulated in a fundamentalist-populist reaction against… the mainstream liberal democratic order and the general dynamism of neoliberal globalization.” (Note 6.) He calls Trump’s actions, a resistance (emphasis his). “It was Trump and his followers who were the ones who engaged in the true act of resistance.” (Note 7.) He names the resistance to Trump, “a resistance to resistance itself (emphasis his).”

Culkin explains the “problem is that the liberal world view is now stuck in a mode of discourse and critique that perceives the state world as it was in the 1950s.” (Note 8.) “But nevertheless, one can only note that we do not … still live in such a world often articulated by the standard liberal critique.” (Note 9.) He writes, “We could make the provocative claim that the new pervasive resistance to Trump is actually more akin to a reactionary gesture, an attempt to reconstitute the status quo of the more palpable and acceptable neoliberal policies. (Note 10.)

Culkin perceives that Trump is a “message from the Gods.” Therefore, people should first pause and take a clear look at the world that they live in. Instead of reacting to Trump, they could address the deteriorating social and economic systems of their local communities. This would be more constructive than trying to smash Trump.

My Personal View: I believe that Hughes and others of the Magic Resistance have determined that the appropriate morality for Pagans should be Liberal and Progressive. My reaction to this is alarm, since any difference of opinion is regarded as “evil.” I regard their ethics to be problematic since they are veering into ideology, instead of seeing the moral complexity of the situation.


Note 1: I cite Michael Hughes, since he is the most vocal and accessible of the “Magic Resistance” group.
Note 2: Michael Hughes, “Magic for the Resistance,” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2018. P. 42. P. 2
Note 3: ibid. P. 2.
Note 4: ibid. P. 3.
Note 5: ibid. P. 4.
Note 6: Brian Culkin, “The Meaning of Trump.” Zero Books: Hampshire (UK). 2018. P.56.
Note 7: ibid. P. 56.
Note 8: ibid. P. 57.
Note 9: ibid. P. 58.
Note 10: Ibid. P. 56

Works Used:
Culkin, Brian, “The Meaning of Trump.” Zero Books: Hampshire (UK). 2018.

Hughes, Michael, “Magic for the Resistance,” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2018.
—, “Daily Trump Binding and Justice Spell,” Medium.com. 19 December 2017. https://medium.com/@michaelmhughes/daily-trump-binding-and-justice-spell-9b2010d9270b

McShee, Sean, “Author of Trump Binding Spell Releases New Book: Magic for the Resistance,” The Wild Hunt, 18 September, 2018. https://wildhunt.org/2018/09/author-of-trump-binding-spell-releases-new-book-magic-for-the-resistance.html

Roman Gods for November


For Romans, November was the month of community and games. The Ludi Plebeii (The Plebeian Games) in honor of Jupiter Optimus Maximus were held for ten days. I see November as a month to celebrate the community and the blessings of the Gods.

In the Wheel of the Year for Neo-Pagans, November is the time to remember the Ancestors. Two Gods of the Dead that I have devotions for at this time are Hecate and Anubis. Hecate has a festival day on November 30. (That is also “Extinct Species Day.”)

POMONA: A festival thanking Pomona, the Goddess of Orchards for the ripe fruit is held on November 1.  God of the Month: Pomona

MANIA and DII MANES: The Opening of the Mundus (the Well to the Underworld) is conducted for the third time in the year on November 8.

FORTUNA PRIMIGENIA AND FERONIA: On the Ides of November (the 13th), Fortuna Primigenia and Ferona are honored. As the Mother of Juno and Jupiter, Fortuna Primigenia sets the destiny of children at their birth. Meanwhile, Ferona is the Goddess of Agricultural Produce.  God of the Month: Fortuna Primigenia    God of the Month: Feronia

Prayer Beads: Roman Gods

multicolored beaded necklace

Photo by Avinash Patel on Pexels.com

Because of my brain injury, I use prayer beads in my devotions. They ground me in the here and now. Praying by hand allows me to ponder the deeper mysteries in a meaningful way. Not only that, they bring meaningful ritual into my life. The beads calm me and allow me to hear the Gods.

I will be posting my prayers and bead constructions in my blog.

Roman Prayer Beads
64 beads

Order of Beads:
1, 2: Ianus Pater, Ianus Patulcius: Wood beads
3, 4, 5: Archaic Triad, Capitoline Triad, Aventine Triad: Red, red, yellow beads

6,7,8, 9: Genus Paterfamilias, Manes, Lars, Penates (Free choice)
10, 11, 12: Cardea, Forculus, Portunus: Metal beads
13: Terminus: Stone bead
14, 15, 16, 17: Fortuna (Free choice)
18, 19, 20: Archaic Triad, Capitoline Triad, Aventine Triad: Red, red, yellow beads

21, 22: Mater Matuta, Sol Indiges (Free choice)
23: Luna Noctiluca: Silver bead
24: Summanus: Black bead
25: Tellus Mater: Stone bead
26: Flora Mater: Pastel bead
27, 28: Furrina, Pomona (Free choice)
29, 30: Dis Pater, Proserpina: Gemstone bead (semi-precious such as amethyst or lapis, etc.)
31: Consus Pater: Brown bead
32: Vediovis: Black bead
33, 34, 35: Archaic Triad, Capitoline Triad, Aventine Triad: Red, red, yellow beads

36, 37: Jupiter, Juno: Lapis beads
38, 39: Neptune, Minerva (Free choice)
40, 41, 42, 43: Mars, Venus, Apollo, Diana (Free choice)
44, 45: Vulcan, Vesta: Obsidian beads
46: Mercury: Gold or silver beads
47: Ceres (Free choice)
48, 49, 50: Archaic Triad, Capitoline Triad, Aventine Triad: Red, red, yellow beads

51, 52: Acca Larentia, Carmentis (Free choice)
53: Saturnus: Gold or silver beads
54, 55, 56, 57, 58: Opis, Romulus, Numia, Evander, Hercules (Free choice)
59, 60, 61, 62: Faunus and Picus, Anna Perenna, Vertumnus, Unnamed Gods (Free choice)
63, 64: Ianus Clusivus, Ianus Pater: Wood beads

Specifics in Materials
Eagle for pendant
Spacers could be yellow, red, clear, or white.



Salve Ianus Pater
Father Janus, Keeper of Dies Pater’s Door
Salve Ianus Patulcius
Janus, the Opener of Doors, the first prayer is for You, God of Beginnings.
Salve Ianus Clusivus
Janus, Closer of Doors, the last prayer is for You, God of Endings.

Roman prayers include prayers for the State.

Archaic Triad
Salvete Iuppiter Capitolinus, Quirinus, et Marmar Pater
Jupiter, Quirinus, and Mars,
Watch over the people’s first steps to self-government,
Gods of the people and the land

Capitoline Triad
Salvete Iuppiter Optimus Maximus, Iuno Regina et Minerva Augusta
Jupiter Best and Greatest, Queen Juno and Minerva,
May the people govern themselves well under your watchful eyes.

Aventine Triad
Savlete Ceres Mater, Liber Pater, et Libera Mater
Ceres, Liber, and Libera,
May the rights of the poor and oppressed be protected.

Di Familiaris: Gods of Family and Home

Salve Genius Paterfamilias Optimus
Guardian of the Family

Salvete Di Manes
Spirits of the Dead

Salvete Lars
Guardians of the House and Household

Salvete Di Penates
Gods of the Pantry, Cupboard, and Larder

Salve Cardea
Goddess of Door hinges, Consort of Janus

Salve Forculus
God of the Doors

Salve Portunus
God of Entryways, Keeper of Keys

Salve Terminus
Ancient God of Boundaries
(You bound nations and cities and mighty kingdoms, without you, every field’s title would be in dispute.” (Ovid))


Salve Fortuna Huiusce Diei
Fortune of the Present Day

Salve Fortuna Salutaris
Fortune of Health and Well Being

Salve Fortuna Conservatrix
Fortune the Preserver, Who Protects

Salve Fortuna Bona
Good Fortune

Di Superi: Gods of the Sky

Salve Mater Matuta
Goddess of the Dawn

Salve Sol Indiges
The Native Sun

Salve Luna Noctiluca
Luna (Moon) Who Shines by Night

Salve Summanus Pater
God of the Night, Wielder of Lightning

Di Terrestres: Gods of the Earth

Salve Tellus Alma Mater
Nurturing Mother Earth, the Productive Power of the Earth

Salve Flora Mater
Goddess of Everything that Blooms

Salve Furrina
Ancient Goddess of Springs and Health

Salve Pomona
Goddess of Fruit

Di Infiri: Gods of the Underworld

Salve Dis Pater
Father of Riches

Salve Proserpina Dea
Wife of Dis Pater, Queen of the Dead

Salve Consus Pater
God of the Underground Granary and the Mundus (Well to the Underworld)

Salve Vediouvis
Ancient God Who receives offerings on the behalf of the Dead

Di Consentis: The Major 12 Gods

Salve Iuppiter Optimus Maximus
Jupiter Best and Greatest, Above all the Gods.

Salve Iuno Regina
Queen Juno, Protector and Counselor of Government

Salve Neptunus Pater
Neptune, God of Waters, Holder of the Trident

Salve Minerva Augusta
Minerva, “Goddess of a hundred handicrafts”

Salve Mavors Pater
Mars, the Marcher Who precedes the army in battle,
The Guardian of Fields and Boundaries

Salve Venus Amica
Venus, the Friend, Goddess of Love and Beauty

Salve Phoebus Apollo
Bright Apollo of Prophecy, the Radiant God of Bards

Salve Diana Nemorensis
Diana of the Wood, Goddess of the Hunt

Salve Volcanus Quietus
Vulcan at Rest, Smelter of Metals, God of Fire

Salve Vesta Mater
Vesta, the Eternal Flame of Home and Hearth

Salve Mercurius
Mercury, Gods of Merchants and Commerce

Salve Ceres Alma Mater
Ceres, Nurturing Mother, Goddess of the regenerative power of nature

Di Indigetes: Deified Heroes and Traditional Deities

Salve Acca Larentia
The She-Wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus

Salve Carmentis
Mother of prophecy, healing, childbirth

Salve Saturnus Pater
Saturn, Father of the Gods, ushering in the Golden Age of prosperity and farming

Salve Opisfere
Ops, Bringer of Help, Ops Consiva, Planter of Abundance, Consort of Saturn

Salve Romulus
Deified Son Mars, Co-Founder of Rome

Salve Numa Pompilius
Wise King of Rome, Founder of the Religious Institutions

Salve Evander
First Settler of Rome, who brought Music and Writing to Romans

Salve Hercules Magnus Custos
The Great Guardian, the Slayer of Cacus, the monster who menaces

Salvete Fanuus et Picus
Gods of the Groves, Gods of the Forest

Salve Anna Perenna
Goddess of the Year, “Filling the annual cycle with months” (Ovid)

Salve Vertumnus
The Turner, the Changer of Seasons

Salvete Si Deus, Si Dea
To the Gods, Whomever They May Be, the Unnamed and Unknown Gods

Alchemy: The Four Humors


The wood cut known as “Four Humors” (Quinta Essentia) is Leonard Thurneysser’s concept of how the elements, alchemy, and the alchemist become one entity. An alchemist himself, Thurneysser worked with the elements to attempt to create the Philosopher’s Stone. In the wood cut, he depicted the Conjunction of Opposites with a male/female figure and the four elements. He shows how through the Alchemical Process, a person can become the Great Work themselves.

The Four Elements of alchemy are Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. From Aristotle comes the theory of the Four Humors, which are formed by the elements themselves. Each element makes a bodily fluid which governs a person’s personality. Earth, which is cold and dry, creates black bile. Air, hot and moist, creates red blood. Fire, hot and dry, makes yellow bile. Water, cold and moist, makes clear phlegm.

Based on their bodily fluids, people are divided into four personality types. Choleric people, who are energetic and enthusiastic, are ruled by yellow bile. Phlegmatic people, who are quiet and broody, are ruled by clear phlegm. Red blood creates sanguine people who are flighty and optimistic. Black bile makes for melancholic people, who are passive and sluggish. If the balance of these humors is disturbed, illness will occur in the person.

The Earth Element is the material world and the physical self. The Water Element allows for the flowing rhythm and the emotional self. The Element of Air brings clarity and a sense of the mind. The Element of Fire melds these elements into the Quintessence (Spiritual), creating the new person.

The mechanism for this is Aristotle’s Square of Opposition. This square consists of the elements opposing each such as Fire and Water. These opposing Elements form a cross within the square, which is shown on the wood cut. Changes in the Elements causes the Rotation of the Elements as one becomes the next. The Square of Opposition transforms each until Quintessence is achieved.

The Male and Female figures represent the Conjunction of the Opposites. The alchemist Dennis Hauk describes the three marriages of alchemy as represented by the Bird of Hermes who entwined the Three Essentials of Salt, Sulfur, and Mercury. In the Lunar Marriage (Union of the Mind), the Soul and Spirit are united and separated from the Body. The Solar Marriage unites the Body with the combined Soul/Spirit. The Stellar Marriage is the three parts uniting with the One World, when this occurs “All is One.” Hauk writes, “The body at this level is the Salt of the Stars, the Astral Body.”

The Great Work is the goal of the alchemist, Therefore the alchemist seeks to synthesize the Three Essentials. They balance the elements, merging them into a new creation. This is the Quinta Essentia and hence the Great Work.

Works Used:
Alchemy Lab, “Alchemical Theory: A Look at the Basic Principles of Alchemy.” 2019. Web. https://www.alchemylab.com/alchemical_theory.htm.

Bartlett, Robert Allen, “Real Alchemy: A Primer of Practical Alchemy.” Ibis Press: Lake Worth (FL). 2009.

Hauck, Dennis William, “Sorcerer’s Stone: A Beginner’s Guide to Alchemy.” Crucible Books: Sacramento (CA). 2013.

—, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Alchemy.” Alpha Books: New York. 2008.

The Mystica, “Pagan View of Alchemy.” 2019. Web. https://www.themystica.com/alchemy.

Landry, Patrick Michael, “Alchemy, Humours, Medicine.” 16 December 2012. Web. https://patrickmlandry.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/alchemy-humours-medicine/.

More Deputations of Sumer

person holding brown water carabao

Photo by Denniz Futalan on Pexels.com

“Hoe and Plough”
The disputations opens with “Oh, the Hoe, the Hoe, the Hoe, tied together with thongs, the Hoe, child of the poor.” The Hoe brags that he plants the gardens, digs the water course, and creates the dams. Then the Hoe calls the Plough’s work “slight.” The Plough counters with, “I am mankind’s faithful farmer. I till the furrows.”

Enlil ends the debate by commanding each to stop. He tells Hoe, “Like a maid-servant, you will fulfil your task.” This debate highlights the Hoe’s importance in civilization, since it builds the cities. Meanwhile, the Plough provides grain for the cities.

“Millstone and Gugul-stone (skull stone)”
I cannot find any writing on this disputation.

“Sheep and Grain”
Ashnan, the Goddess of Grain,” and her sister Lahar, the Goddess of Sheep, were created by the Annunaki (the Great Gods) to feed Them. Later, the two Goddesses get drunk and argue over who is more important. Lahar says, “Grain heed yourself! You too, just like me, are meant to be eaten.”

Finally, Enlil, the Holder of the Tablets of Destiny, and Enki, God of Water and Wisdom, intervene. They tell the two Goddesses that both need to stand together as sisters. Enki ends the argument with, “From sunrise to sunset, may the name of Grain be praised. People should submit to the Yoke of Grain. Whoever has silver, whoever has jewels, whoever has cattle, whoever has sheep shall take a seat at the gate of whoever has grain, and pass his time there.”

“Winter and Summer”
Enlil, the Lord of the Winds, brings forth the prosperity of the land with trees and plants. “Enlil, the King of all lands, set his mind to increasing the good day of abundance, to making the night resplendent in celebration….He copulated with a hill (hursag), filling its womb with Summer and Winter.” Enten (Summer) was to create cities and towns by providing plentiful harvests. Meanwhile, Emesh (Winter) was to bring the spring floods. (Mesopotamia only had two seasons – summer and winter.)

After each of the brothers finished their duties, they make offerings to Enlil. Tired Winter becomes upset by Summer’s bragging, and attacks him. “Summer, my brother, you should not praise yourself; whatever harvest produce you bring as gifts to the palace has not been made by your toil…how much through my toil is that you enter the palace!”

Eventually they have Enlil settle their feud. He replies, “Winter is controller of the life-giving waters of all the lands. The farmer of the Gods produces everything. Summer, my son, how can you compare yourself to your brother Winter?” After that, Summer apologizes to Winter, and presents him with a banquet. They patch up their fight and become friends again.

Polytheistic Theology: The Sumerian Disputations

Polytheistic Theology: The Sumerian Disputations

america arid bushes california

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Since the Sumerians believed in the creative power of the word, they wrote debates (disputations) as part of their theology. The Sumerians pondered the mysteries of the Divine Order of the universe. Understanding this order was important since the cosmos is grounded in divine power. Seven of these are known: Bird and Fish, Copper and Silver, Date Palm and Tamarisk (Tree and Reed), Hoe and Plough, Millstone and Gulgul-stone, Sheep and Grain, and Winter and Summer.

There is a set formulae for these disputations. The introduction delineated the creation of the world, and how each disputant of the debate came to be. The middle featured the two combatants exchanging barbs. Also, they would boast that they were the most important in the grand scheme of things. Exhausted by their fight, the disputants would ask a God to mediate. Finally the God (usually Enki or Enlil) would declare who was more important and why.

The Disputations:

“Bird and Fish”
“In those ancient days, when the good destines had been decreed, and after An and Enlil had set up the divine rules of heaven and earth,” the Tigris and the Euphrates were created by Enki. Then, this God “founded cities and settlements throughout the earth, and made the black-headed people multiply. He provided them with a king as a shepherd, elevating him to sovereignty over them… He filled the reed-beds and marshes with Fish and Bird, indicated to them, their positions and instructed them in their divine roles.” This establishes the order of how things are decreed by the Elder Gods.

After Bird frightens him, Fish fights back. he brags that, “I am Fish. I am responsibly charged with providing abundance for the pure shrines.” Bird boasts, “I am the beautiful and clever Bird!” Their argument descends into killing each other’s young. Sulgi, the son of Enki, tells them both, “I shall instruct you in the divine rules and just ordinances of our dwelling place.” He pronounces Bird the winner. Sulgi states, “To strut about in the E-kur (the House of Enlil in Nibru) is a glory for Bird, as its singing is sweet. It shall utter its cries in the temple of the Great Gods. The Anuna Gods rejoice at its voice.”

“Copper and Silver”
This is a fragmentary story between two metals, which are important to Sumer. Strong Copper, “strong heir of Father Enlil, the Warrior of Heaven,” seems to have won the debate. He points out to Silver that he provides the tools for the people. He says, “Silver, you are forgotten in the soil inside the house…An obscure place, a grave, such is your station.” (The reference is to silver being used for currency and grave goods.)

“Date Palm and Tamarisk (Tree and Reed)”
Usually found in settled areas, the tamarisk provides shade and wood for people. Since it grows very slowly, people traditionally planted these trees for the next generation. Meanwhile, the date palm is considered the sacred tree of Sumer. It is often thought of as “The Tree of Life,” because it provided food in all seasons.

The fragment of the debate begins: “The King planted the palm in his courtyard…He planted the tamarisk. In the shade of the tamarisk, he arranged a banquet.” The two trees argue over who is more important. Since the food for the banquet comes from him, Date Palm says that he is. Tamarisk rebuts with that he provides the wood for the statues of the Gods. Date Palm observes that the offering bowls, made from tamarisk wood, are also for collecting the garbage.

The debates can be read here: Electronic Text Corpus: Debates