Prayer Beads: Tiamat of Mesopotamia

Tiamat is the Dragon Goddess of Mesopotamia upon whose bones the world is made.

Materials:

Charms:
Ocean 1
Dragon 1

Beads:
Chrysocolla 2
Amazonite 7
Lava stone 7
Ruby Zoisite 7

Pattern:

Ocean
Amazonite 7
Chrysocolla 1
Lava stone 7
Chrysocolla 1
Ruby Zoisite 7
Dragon

Prayers:

Ocean:
I sing of Tiamat, the Source of all

Chrysocolla:
I am Tiamat the Source of all, the Glistening One

Amazonite:
(From the Enuma Elish)

“When in the height heaven was not named,
And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name,
And the primeval Apsu, who begat them,
And chaos, Tiamat, the mother of them both
Their waters were mingled together,
And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen;
Then were created the Gods in the midst of heaven.”

Lava stone:
(From the Enuma Elish)

“ ‘… my mighty hero,
Whose strength is great and whose onslaught cannot be withstood,
Go and stand before Tiamat,
That her spirit may be appeased, that her heart may be merciful.
Our word shalt thou speak unto Her, that She may be pacified.’
He heard the word of his father Ansar
And he directed his path to Her, toward Her he took the way.”

Ruby Zoisite

Tiamat, the Pure, the Shining
The Glistening, the Deep
Who formed all things
All powerful Mother
Upon whose bones
The cosmos is made
Life Herself

Dragon
I sing of Tiamat, the Dragon Goddess
The Untamed One

Twins: Astrology and Astronomy

phases of the moon

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Astrology is divining by the stars. Astrology began when people sought to understand the correlation between the events on earth and in the heavens. How did the various heavenly bodies effect what happened on the earth? Astrology developed to be a window to the future by explaining this particular relationship. One could say that it is the merger of astronomy and mythology. It maps the movement of the stars and anchor points in myths.

The astrologers of Babylon became experts in interpreting the omens presented by the weather, the sky, and the stars. Astronomy and Astrology became fraternal twins. In order to understand how the skies affected them, people had to first study the heavens. The first astrologers, the Babylonians collected data on the stars, planets and other heavenly bodies. They noted the cycle of eclipses and what happened afterwards. They had to solve practical problems such as setting up a calendar. To understand the cycle of the stars and planets, a method of reliably counting time was needed. The Babylonians developed stellar geography to relate the planets to the moon and stars. The compilation of their work, the mul.Apin contained data on fixed stars, the seasons, the moon, and comets. The mul.Apin also had the correlations of the events on earth with the data.

Notable astronomers Johannes Kepler and Galileo were also military astrologers. Since they realized there were problems with the earth-centered universe, both men wanted to reform the Astrology of their times. Kepler found that the orbits of the planets were elliptical, and not circular. This does affect how the planets relate to each other, an important consideration in Astrology. Kepler’s aim was to use Astrology to avoid wars. Meanwhile Galileo wanted to expand the knowledge of how Astrology affected the politics of Italy. His major aim was to improve the interpretation methods of his Astrology.

Although Astrology and Astronomy go hand in hand, their focus differs. Astronomy has the sun at the center of the cosmos, and with its focus beyond the skies. It does not examine the numinous (powers not of this material world) and their relationship with the heavens.

Astrology has the earth at the center, with the focus on the affairs on the earth. Astrology seeks to understand the numinous powers of the heavenly bodies. One way of communicating between these powers and people was through omens that the stars bring. Astrology is a conversation between the two.

Works Used:
Baigent, Michael, “Astrology in Ancient Mesopotamia.” Bear and Company: Rochester (VT). 1994.
Gillett, Ray, “The Secret Language of Astrology.” Watkins Publishing: London. 2011.
Hall, Judy, “The Astrology Bible.” Sterling Publishing: NY. 2005

The Gusisu Festival of Mesopotamia

photo of man standing while holding pickaxe

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Since April/May is the month of spring storms in Sumer, the land needed to be prepared for sowing. (Note 1) The Gusisu Festival, held at the full moon, ecompasses this. During this month, Ningirsu, who is the Warrior God, becomes Ninurta, the Farmer God. The Son of Enlil (the Keeper of the Tablets of Destiny), Ninurta brings the rains of spring. Before the inundation of the fields in May/June, irrigation ditches are repaired and filled. In addition, the oxen and ploughs are prepared for the spring farrowing.

Held for three days, the Gusisu festival starts with Enlil and Ninlil receiving the first offerings. On the second day, the full pantheon of Sumer receives offerings. On the third day, the statue of Ninurta is washed and given offerings. Other offerings are made to the Chariot, the Footstool, the Harp, the Plough, and the Dais of the Gods. Traditions offerings consisted of cows, goats, and sheep. Modern stand-ins include bread cut into shapes of these animals.

The main ritual of this festival re-enacts the Farmer Ninurta creating a furrow with his Divine Plough, then dropping a seed into the newly ploughed earth. At this time, the fate of the harvest is determined as each God handles the Plough and gives their blessing. When They are finished, Ninurta shouts, “Great Mountain Enlil, My father, the divine functions of the month Gusisu have been completed; seed has touched the earth.” Then He proudly enters the resplendent Ekur (Home of the Gods).

The composition, “Isme-Dagan and Enlil’s Chariot” describes this ritual in depth. “Wherein Isme-Dagan, king of Isin and predecessor of Lipit-Istar, assumed the role of Ninurta and dropped the first seed: ‘Let the hoe (and) the plough, the implements of the working people, have a contest before you.’” The King follows Enlil’s instructions further: “Put the holy plough in good order, and plough the fertile field. So that the silos and granaries of Enlil may be piled high, he (the king) drops the fertile seed.”

During the festival, the “Song of the Ploughing Oxen” is recited. This hymn has several sections. First, the farmer asks the oxen to submit to the yoke. Before he yokes them, he asks for the intervention of Nanshe, the Goddess of Dreams to select which oxen to plough with. Then the farmer asks Enkimdu, the God of Dikes and Canals to irrigate the fields. He takes his implements from storage and prepares them for use. Afterwards, he clears his field of stumps with the hoe. Then he asks again the oxen to submit to the yoke. After ploughing, there is drinking in the ale house and happiness for Inanna, Goddess of the Morning and Evening Stars.

One passage reads, “My king, I want to praise the leading oxen of the plow: ‘Ellu! go, oxen, go, put the neck under the yoke, go, royal oxen, go, put the neck under the yoke! Step on the furrows of the fertile field, that the sides be made straight. With your lion’s tail beat the sides of the plow, Your step, oxen, rejoices the people, you have been given strength to work! The oxen you guide, Lipit-Istar, and your song is a pleasure.”

Notes:
Note 1. Although the actual seeding occurs in the fall, with the harvest in the spring, it takes four months to prepare.

Prayer Beads: Ninlil of Babylon

multicolored beaded necklace

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Read about this Goddess: Ninlil of the Gods of Sumner

Beads

2 charms – one a cloud, and one a star and moon
4 squares of sodalite
9 beads of fluorite
9 beads of moonstone
9 beads of moss agate

Pattern

Cloud charm
Square
9 fluorites
Square
9 moonstones
Square
9 moss agate
Square
Star and moon charm

Prayers:

Cloud: Lady of Air, I call to You, Mother Ninlil

Square: Queen of Reconciliation, You seek balance and justice, Oh Goddess

Fluorite: Seeker of Justice, protect me, I ask

Moonstone: Wife of Great Enlil, protect me, I ask

Moss agate: Queen of the Lands, protect me, I ask

Star and moon: Queen of the Heavens, I call to You, Mother Ninlil

Babylon Month: March/April: New Year

nature sunny field sun

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The beginning of the Babylonian year starts at the Spring Equinox. (Note 1) This turning of the year is called zagmu, “the border of the year.” At this time, people take stock, review their personal affairs, and check their financial accounts. Then they affirm the Gods as the supreme authorities of the cosmos.

According to Assyrian Astrolabe B, Nisannu, the first month of the year is for Nanna (Sin), the God of the Moon. “The month Nisannu, the dais of Anu, the king is installed and invested (with authority); the month of Nanna-Suen, the first-born of Enlil.” An incantation from Nimrud reiterates this: “May the month Nisannu, (the month) of Anu and Enlil, absolve! The first month belonged to the First of the Gods.”

During Nisannu (the new moon after the equinox) the Akitu, the New Year Festival is held for twelve days. It starts with purifications, and then the Enuma Elish (the Babylonian Creation Epic) is read. This myth begins with the original creation of the world by Tiamat, the Goddess of Chaos, and Apsu, the God of Waters. Later Anu, a God from the succeeding generation becomes the “Father of the Gods.” Eventually, He cedes his powers to Enlil, from yet a newer generation of Gods, who seeks to overthrow the original Gods. After Enlil kills Apsu, Tiamat wages war on the newer Gods. In desperation, Enlil goes to Marduk, the principal deity of Babylon, for help. On the condition that He is made the Ruler of the Gods, Marduk agrees. After killing Tiamat, Marduk remakes the world from her body.

During the Akitu, Marduk disappears. While his and Nabu’s temples are being cleansed, the people search for Him. At this time, they carry the statues of the other Gods to Marduk’s temple. Meanwhile, Nabu, the Scribe of the Gods and Marduk’s Minister, searches for and then frees Marduk from the Underworld. Then in his temple, the priests re-enthroned Marduk as the Ruler of the Gods. (Note 2) Afterwards, they do divination for the coming year. The festival ends with celebrations and the return of the Gods to their shrines.

Meanwhile to begin the growing season, the King would enact a sacred marriage with the temple priestess of Ishtar (Inanna). Their mating is to reaffirm the marriage of Ishtar, the Goddess of Fertility, with her husband, Tammuz (Dumuzi). These marriage rites ensure that the King is accepted as one of the Gods, and blessed by Ishtar, who also blesses the crops.

Notes:
Note 1: The Babylonians had a lunar calendar, and added months beyond the 12-month year. They kept their year keyed to the equinoxes. Between 1750 – 1500 BCE, they standardized their calendar – the Standard Mesopotamian Calendar to unify their empire.

Note 2: This called the “Installation of the King,” which could either mean Marduk, Himself or a human king.

Further Reading:

Nanna-Suen, Father Time

The Enuma Elish: History as Mythology

Marduk and Tiamat (Enuma Elish: The Epic of Creation)

God of the Month: Marduk of Babylon

God of the Month: Nabu, Babylonian Patron of Writing

Babylonian New Year’s Festival

Dumuzi (Tammuz) of Sumer, Shepherd Husband of Inanna

God of the Month: Inanna (Ishtar)