Babylonian Month of June-July

The month of mid-June to mid-July is called “Dumuzi (Tammuz).” This fourth month of the Babylonian year is named for the God of Fertility and Shepherds. With the advent of the hot, dry summer, Dumuzi goes to the Netherworld to live for six months. The months between June and September are the months that the Dead can roam among the living.

On the 18th day of this month, the statue of Istar (Dumuzi’s wife) is washed, and Dumuzi’s one is anointed in oil. Starting on the 25th day, people honored his death. On the “Day of the Striking,” Dumuzi’s statue is displayed. During “The Day of the Screaming,” people wailed for Him. On“The Day He is caught,” barley is burned and his statue is thrown out the main gate. (This refers to the Galla coming from the Underworld to fetch the God.) On the “Day of the Stall (where He was captured),” Dumuzi’s statue lies in state. At this time, a priest whispers prayers into the statue’s ears.

Meanwhile, in Sumer, the month is called “Su-numum” after the Akiti Su-numum (the Ploughing Festival). Ploughing has begun and will continue for four more months. This month is also referred to the “Month of the Barely Seed,” reflecting the preparation for the planting season. Stones and stubble are removed, and the rows are ploughed. Burnt offerings of fruit and oil are made to the plough. (Traditionally, the festival is started at the full moon after the summer solstice.)

Since Su-numun is also the onset of summer, there also rituals that focused on death and mourning. The first day of the month is “The Festival of the Canebrake (Apum).” (This was traditionally held on the new moon after the summer solstice.) “Canebrake” refers to the burial practice of wrapping the corpse in a shroud and laying it in the burial marshes. “In the reeds of Enki” refers to the canebrake receiving the body. Burial marshes were common. During the festival, it is customary to read laments such as “Lament over the Destruction of Ur” and “Lament over the Destruction of Ur and Sumer.” The “Time of the Great Wailing” commemorates when Ur was destroyed by the Elam and Sua peoples in 2004 BCE.

Advertisements

Ninurta/Ningirsu of Babylon

bad weather clouds cloudy countryside

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

First known as the Storm God, Ningirsu was depicted as a thunderbird in Sumerian iconography. Later, He was shown as a God with wings. Both images emphasized this God’s powers in bringing the thunderstorms and floods of the springtime. By flooding the Tigris River, Ningirsu prepares the arid lands for planting.

Later, Ningirsu, the Storm God, becomes Ninurta, the Farmer God (in the “Epic of Anzu”). As the Master of the Fields, He provides the water for irrigation. Called the “life-giving semen of the red land,” Ninurta spreads abundance throughout out the land.

“The Farmer’s Almanac” (circa 1700 BCE) is considered to be Ninurta’s instructions for growing barley. First the fields are flooded in May-June, allowing the water not to rise too high. Then the fields are cleared of weeds and fenced in. Grain is planted and prayers are made to Ninkilim, the Goddess of Field Mice. Instructions for planting and hoeing continue through the planting year. Finally in April-May, the fields are cleaned of the harvest and readied for planting.

After fighting Asag, the Stone Being, Ninurta becomes the Warrior God. In the Lugal-e (“The Exploits of Ninurta”), the rocks of the mountains revolted. Asag, leading the others, aimed to crush the plains. With His Mace, Sharur (the Smasher of Thousands), Ninurta puts down the rebellion. By digging and piling up rocks that came after Him, He creates the irrigation systems of Babylon.

After the rebellion, Ninurta decides which rocks to punish or reward. Those who rebelled against the established order were not permitted strength. The flint would be easily flaked by antlers, and the limestone would crumble easily in water. Meanwhile, those who helped the God were rewarded. The lapis lazuli and hematite would be valued as much as gold. (One could interpret the Lugal-e as describing the beginning of agriculture, metallurgy and alchemy.)

In the “Epic of Anzu,” the Anzu Bird steals the Tablets of Destiny from Enlil, the Holder of the Tablets. (These tablets decreed the fates of the Gods and humans.) The Anzu Bird uses their power to turn back time. Meanwhile, Ninurta volunteers to retrieve the Tablets. After many trials, Ninurta finally defeats the Anzu Bird through trickery, and returns the Tablets to Enlil.

For the Assyrians, Ninurta was the Divine Hero and Prince of the Gods. The King of Assyria strove to be like the God – merciful, just, strong, and able to guarantee order. When the king went into battle, he would invoke Ninurta since this God was the King of Battle. In Assyria, Ninurta was credited with victories in battle.

Note: Nimrod the Mighty Hunter, in Genesis, is Ninurta.

Names of Ninurta
Storm of Majestic Splendor who makes the Rainbow
Master of the Fields
Lord Plough
Farmer of Enlil
Mighty Farmer Turned Warrior
Antelope of Heaven
Conqueror of Chaos
Lord Whose Powerful Arm is Fit to Bear the Mace
Divine Son and Avenger of His Father Ashur
Young Warrior
Champion of the High Gods
Hero of Heaven and Earth
Sheriff of the Gods

Mater Matuta of Rome

nature sky sunset the mountains

Photo by NO NAME on Pexels.com

An ancient Italic Goddess, Mater Matuta is the Goddess of the Dawn. Often confused with the Greek Goddesses Ino or Leukothea, Mater Matuta had none of their attributes. As the Goddess of the First Light, She cares for the newborns. (Romans consider the dawn to be the luckiest time to be born.)

At the Matralia (June 11), single women and married women (in their first marriage) would meet at her temple. Bringing toasted cakes in earthenware, they would make offerings to this Goddess. After praying for their sisters’ children, the women would drive a slave from the temple.

The focus of the Matralia is to consider the importance of parenting children. At this time, the women reestablish their ties with their nieces and nephews. The women are directed by Mater Matuta to care for these children if their parents died. The ousting of the slave demonstrates their resolve not to have their sisters’ children be raised by strangers.

Salve Mater Matuta!
Goddess of the Dawn
You smile on the Newly Born
Goddess of First Light
You gather the children in your arms

Salve Mater Matuta!
Guide us with our nephews
Guide us with our nieces
Salve Mater Matuta!
Help us smile upon them
Help us gather them in our arms

Salve Mater Matuta!
Goddess of the Dawn
Goddess of First Light

Roman Gods for June

June (Junius) is dedicated to Juno, the Patroness of Women. It is unclear why Juno is honored by Romans at this time, since only Juno Moneta has a festival day in June. However, marriages in the last two weeks of June were considered especially blessed by this Goddess of Marriage. For more on Juno:

God of the Month: Juno Moneta

God of the Month: Juno Lucina

God of the Month: Juno Regina

VESTA
The main focus of June is the Vestalia from June 7 to 15. The Inner Sanctum of the Temple of Vesta, Goddess of the Hearth, was opened to women. The temple was cleaned, purified, and rededicated. (The rubbish was then into the Tiber River.) In the Roman religion, Vesta is the Perpetual Fire, Who keeps the Pact between the People and the Gods. For more on Vesta: God of the Month: Vesta

HERCULES
I have a personal cultus to Hercules, who is considered to be one of the early founders of Rome. Some of the Greek mythology of Heracules was grafted onto Hercules, the Roman God Hero. However, Romans had their own particular myths about Him. For example, the focus of Hercules’ worship, the Ara Maxima (the Greatest Altar) is where He killed Cacus, the monster who terrorized the early Romans.

Two temples of Hercules have dedications this month. Hercules Magno Custodi (the Great Custodian) has one on June 4, and Hercules Musarum (of the Muses) on June 29. The first was vowed on the orders of the Sibylline Books in light of Hannibal’s victories against Rome. The second was where poets and others would come to pay their respects to Hercules and the Muses. For more on Hercules: God of the Month: Hercules

MATER MATUTA
On June 11, the Matralia is held. Single women and women in their first marriage (univira) offer prayers for their sisters’ children. Traditionally a slave was driven out of her temple in Rome.

MINERVA
Between June 13 and 15, the Lesser Quinquatria (Quinquartrus Minusculae) is held. Flute players (tibicines) dressed up in festive clothing. Wearing masks, they wandered about businesses, playing their instruments. For more on Minerva: God of the Month: Minerva

SUMMANUS
Another God that I have a cultus for is Summanus, the God of the Nocturnal Heavens. He ruled the night as Jupiter ruled the day. His festival day is June 20, when people offered round breads imprinted with wheels to Him. For more on Summanus: God of the Month: Summanus

Girra (Gibil): God of Fire of Babylon/ Sumer

ndvolcano

The God of Fire, Girra (Gibil) is also the God of Light. His temple in Mesopotamia was called the “House of Awesome Radiance.” Because fire is basic to civilization, He is regarded as the “Founder of the Cities.”

As fire, Girra has many forms. He is the burning heat of summer, the destroyer of crops. Burning the fields, Girra sears the plains. He is the heat that warms the home and cooks the food. As the fire of purification, Girra burns away the baleful energies. He brings the creative fire to the smith and mason.

Note: Gibil and Girra were once regarded as separate Gods. Later, they were merged into one God.

Noble Girra
You purify the temples
You purify the bridal beds

Noble Girra
You sear the land
You set the mountains on fire

Noble Girra
You warm our hearts
You cook our food

Noble Girra
You set the brain on fire
You spark new ideas

Noble Girra
You are the Founder of Cities

Kulla, the Divine Builder of Sumer

closeup photo of brown brick wall

Photo by ShonEjai on Pexels.com

Before any building can begin, the God of Bricks and Construction needs to be invoked. Kulla protects the building process from the laying of the foundations to the tiling of the roof. He ensures that the building is sound and the workers are safe. When everything is done, Kulla is thanked and sent away.

According to Sumerian texts, the best time to lay the foundation is at sunrise. Once the first trench is dug, offerings of beer, wine, oil, and syrup are poured over it. Then various items such as seeds, cloth and precious stones are scattered between the gaps of the first layer of bricks. The offerings are to appease the spirit of the land, who is disturbed by the digging.

When the construction is completed, Kulla was asked to leave. If He stays, then more building is needed, and the job will never be finished. Moreover, Kulla is needed elsewhere at other sites.

The ritual for sending Kulla away is the same one for exorcism. The builders load the God (a brick) and his provisions on a boat with sails. Then the boat is sent down the river. After that, seven tablets each are broken on the left and right sides of the river, and thrown in. The builder and his workers were then banned from the finished building for three days.

However, there are incantations to thank Kulla and Musdama, the Divine Architect. They ask these Gods to return joyfully to their father, Enki. In my opinion, this allows for better relations between humans and Kulla.

Laying the Foundation of a House:
“Kulla (the Brick God), Lord of Foundation and Wall – oh you! NN, son of NN, who is building this house, by [your] command, by your word may he prosper! Because You are merciful, I have turned [to you], because You are merciful, I seek [you]! The house he has built may last for a long time. This evil of the house […], You [avert] death, loss and evil deed from this house. At your sublime command, which cannot be altered, and by your firm consent, which cannot be changed, may NN, son of NN, live, prosper and sing your praises.” (R. Borger, Symbolae Biblicae et Mesopotamicae F.M.Th. de Liagre Böhl dedicatae, 1973, p. 53-55)

Exorcising Kulla
“Kulla, You are torn out, driven away and expelled. Kulla, You are conjured by heaven and You are conjured by the netherworld, You are conjured by Ea and Marduk, You are conjured by Duri and Dari, You are conjured by Lahma and Lahama, You are conjured by Alala and Belili, You are conjured by the Gods residing in heaven, Uou are conjured by the Gods residing in the netherworld! You are conjured by the Apsû, You are conjured by the Gods residing on the Sacred Mount! You shall be torn out, You shall go away, You shall depart, You shall withdraw, You shall move out! I conjure you by Ekur and Gar – You shall never return!” (E.v.Weiher, Spätbabyl. Texte aus Uruk (SBTU) II, No. 16; C. Ambos, Baurituale, no. 2)

Note: The exorcism is referring various Gods of Mesopotamia.

May/June: Month of the Brick Gods of Sumer

In the Standard Mesopotamian Calendar, the month starting from the new moon of May is called Simanu (“Month of the Brick Gods”). The King would lay the first brick in the brick mold. Then brickmaking and construction could begin in earnest. The Gods of Bricks and Building were honored in eight rituals that centered on the brick kilns.

For modern people, this can be the time to celebrate masonry and other aspects of building. Think of how bricks provide for safe and snug homes. The beginnings of civilization could be said to be represented by bricks and mortar.

The Gods of Bricks and Building are:
Girra: The God of Fire. The God of Kilns
Kabta: God of Pickaxes, Construction and Bricks
Kulla: The God of Building.
Musdama: The God of Foundations. The God of Architects
Arazu: The God of Completed Construction
Nuska: The God of Fire. The God of Civilization.

Note: In Sumer, the time of the inundations of the fields also began at the new moon of May. The month of May-June in the Nippur calendar is known as Sig-ga.