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Introducing Ninshubur

April 29, 2016

Merry Meet Everyone!

In order to get everyone excited for IshtarFest, each week we’re going to give you bits and pieces of information about the production in hopes that each of you will have a better understanding before attending the festival! We still have several spaces available, so if you’ve not already done so, registration links will be below this post. This week we’re going to introduce to you to the Ninshubur, Ishtar’s most loyal follower and right hand man. Continue reading on for all the fun:

Ninshubur, also known as Papsukkal is an attendant deity serving higher gods as minister.
NinshuburAttendant deities such as Papsukkal were invoked to intercede with the higher gods and goddesses on behalf of human supplicants. They guarded access to higher gods, thus functioning as gate-keepers. The name of Papsukkal’s Sumerian incarnation Ig-galla is translated as “the great doorleaf” which refers–quite literally–to the door before a shrine. This would be in keeping with the role of attendant gods as controllers of access to higher deities. A deity in his own right until the Old Babylonian period, Papsukkal is merged with Ninšubur, listed in the circle of Anu as his “grand vizier”. The replacement of the latter in the Akkadian version of Ištar’s Descent suggests that perhaps the two Ninšuburs may have been merged, or at least confused. In the Old Babylonian Period, Papsukkal is distinct from Ninšubur; the two are syncretised in the Kassite period. Papsukkal of the first millennium loses much of his importance but sees a sudden cultic revival in Uruk in the Hellenistic period. The iconography of Papsukkal/Ninšubur, as known from terracotta figurines of the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian periods, is of a standing male sporting a beard and a horned cap and holding a long staff. Such figurines were often found in temples of other deities, placed beneath cult statues, in keeping with the attendant role of the god.

To find out how Ninshubur is a key to the Ishtarfest, join us on Friday, June 17th, 2016 – Sunday, June 19th, 2016 for the Shapatu of Ishtar in Central NJ. This information is brought to you by the Hands of Change coven, a non-profit organization for Earth based spirituality. To register for this event, please click here. If you’d be interested in vending for this event, please click here.

Source: “Papsukkal (god).” Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses -. Web. 25 Mar. 2016. <http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/amgg/listofdeities/papsukkal/&gt;.

Introducing Shammash

April 20, 2016

Merry Meet Everyone,

We have some exciting news about the newest public event. IshtarFest registration is now officially open! Both vendors and interested participants are encouraged to apply and space is limited. If you have not already done so, the links to register will be immediately following this blog post.

In order to get everyone excited for IshtarFest, each week we’re going to give you bits and pieces of information about the production in hopes that each of you will have a better understanding before attending the festival! This week we’re going to introduce to you to the Shammash, the Sun God and Ishtar’s brother of Babylonian mythology. Continue reading on for all the fun:

Shammash, also known as Utu/Šamaš, is the Mesopotamian sun god who was associated with life, justice, divination and the netherworld. He is also the brother of Ishtar.

shammashShammash (Sumerian Utu) is the god of the sun. He brings light and warmth to the land, allowing plants and crops to grow. At sunrise Shammash was known to emerge from his underground sleeping chamber and take a daily path across the skies. As the sun fills the entire sky with light, Shammash oversaw everything that occurred during the daytime. He thus became the god of truth, judgments and justice. Shammash also played a role in treaties, oaths and business transactions, as he could see through deceit and duplicity.
Shammash also played an essential role in sacrificial divination (extispicy) rituals. Extispicy was an important branch of royal court scholarship in existence for over a millennium, whereby the king could receive answers from the gods to specific questions regarding matters of state. The king’s diviners (bārû) asked the gods to write the answer in the liver of a sheep, which was then ‘read’ through examining the liver and counting up its ominous features. As god of truth and justice, Shammash was implored to help provide a correct answer. A late second-millennium prayer to Shammash by a diviner asks him to guide the inquiry and to ‘let there be truth’ in their interpretations of the omens.
Shammash also played a role in the affairs of humanity. Surviving second millennium texts indicate that his assistance was sought against evil and curses. Literary texts describe his protection of the heroic kings of the city of Uruk. In the Epic of Gilgameš he assists the hero Gilgameš in defeating the monstrous Humbaba, the guardian of the Cedar Forest.

In Sumerian tradition, Utu is the son of the moon god Nanna-Suen and the twin brother ofInana. Akkadian tradition sometimes made Shammash the son of Anu or Enlil. The sun god’s wife was Aya, goddess of the dawn. Shammash is attested from the earliest periods right through the timespan of cuneiform culture. He appears in a wide range of text genres including royal prayers and hymns, divination texts, treaties and documents recording business transactions. Shammash symbol from the Akkadian period to the Neo-Babylonian period was the solar disc. It usually took the form of a four-pointed star, with curved lines emerging between each point.

Depictions of Shammash himself survive on cylinder seals, where he is sometimes shown seated and surrounded by worshippers, with his sunrays emanating from his shoulders. The sun god is also portrayed on the famous stele of King Hammurabi from 1760 BCE, which is inscribed with over 282 ‘laws’ for the unified territories of Babylonia. In the image Shammash, as god of justice, presents Hammurabi with tools for ruling justly: he passes the king a measuring rod and rope . Justice in early Mesopotamian was closely allied with the idea that fairness could be achieved through literacy, numeracy and accurate measurement. The measuring instruments are a symbol of powerful kingship, representing the ability to rule justly and fairly.…

To find out how Shammash is a key to the Shapatu of Ishtar, join us on Friday, June 17th, 2016 – Sunday, June 19th, 2016 for the Shapatu of Ishtar in Central NJ. This information is brought to you by the Hands of Change coven, a non-profit organization for Earth based spirituality. To register for this event, please click here. If you’d be interested in vending for this event, please click here.

Source: “Utu/Šamaš (god).” Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses -. Web. 25 Mar. 2016. <http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/amgg/listofdeities/utu/index.html&gt;.

IshtarFest Registration Is Now Open!

April 14, 2016

ishtarfestbanner

Please register for the event here for not only regular attendance but also vendor opportunities!

Space is limited, so please register as soon as possible. I hope you’re just as excited as I am, I hope to see you there!

-Ganshmi

Introducing IshtarFest

April 11, 2016

Merry Meet Everyone

We have some exciting news about the newest public event. IshtarFest (formerly introduced as Shapatu of Ishtar) registration is becoming public soon and we will inform you all when you can register as soon as we are able. So please stay patient just a little bit longer, we appreciate it! In order to get everyone excited for IshtarFest, each week we’re going to give you bits and pieces of information about the production in hopes that each of you will have a better understanding before attending the festival!

This week we’re going to introduce to you to the basics of Ishtar and Tammuz’ mythology. Continue reading on for all the fun:

ishtar &amp; hades

Ishtar in the Underworld

Among the gods of Babylonia none achieved wider and more enduring fame than Tammuz, who was loved by Ishtar, the amorous Queen of Heaven–the beautiful youth who died and was mourned for and came to life again. He does not figure by his popular name in any of the city pantheons, but from the earliest times of which we have knowledge until the passing of Babylonian civilization, he played a prominent part in the religious life of the people.

In his character as a long-lived patriarch, Tammuz, the King Daonus or Daos of Berosus, reigned in Babylonia for 36,000 years. When he died, he departed to Hades or the Abyss. Osiris, after reigning over the Egyptians, became Judge of the Dead. Tammuz of the Sumerian hymns, however, is the Adonis-like god who lived on earth for a part of the year as the shepherd and agriculturist so dearly beloved by the goddess Ishtar. Then he died so that he might depart to the realm of Ereshkigal, queen of Hades. According to one account, his death was caused by the fickle Ishtar. Ishtar’s innocence is emphasized by the fact that she mourned for her youthful lover, crying.

Tammuz died with the dying vegetation, and Diarmid expired when the hills apparently were assuming their purple tints. The month of Tammuz wailings was from 20th June till 20th July, when the heat and dryness brought forth the demons of pestilence.

The fact that Ishtar descended to Hades in quest of Tammuz may perhaps explain the symbolic references in hymns to mother goddesses being in sunken boats also when their powers were in abeyance, as were those of the god for part of each year. It is possible, too, that the boat had a lunar and a solar significance.

Tammuz, like Heimdal, is also a guardian. He watches the flocks and herds, whom he apparently guards against the Gallu demons as Heimdal guards the world and the heavens against attacks by giants and monsters. The flocks of Tammuz, Professor Pinches suggests, “recall the flocks of the Greek sun god Helios. These were the clouds illuminated by the sun, which were likened to sheep–indeed, one of the early Sumerian expressions for ‘fleece’ was ‘sheep of the sky’. The name of Tammuz in Sumerian is Dumu-zi, or in its rare fullest form, Dumuzida, meaning ‘true or faithful son’. There is probably some legend attached to this which is at present unknown.”

Tammuz is “the healer”, and Agni “drives away all disease”. Tammuz is the god “of sonorous voice”; Agni “roars like a bull”; and Heimdal blows a horn when the giants and demons threaten to attack the citadel of the gods. As the spring sun god, Tammuz is “a youthful warrior”, says Jastrow, “triumphing over the storms of winter”. The storms, of course, were symbolized as demons. Tammuz, “the heroic lord”, was therefore a demon slayer like Heimdal and Agni. Each of these gods appear to have been developed in isolation from an archaic spring god of fertility and corn whose attributes were symbolized. In Teutonic mythology, for instance, Heimdal was the warrior form of the patriarch Scef, while Frey was the deified agriculturist who came over the deep as a child.

It is evident that there were various versions of the Tammuz myth in Ancient Babylonia. In one the goddess Ishtar visited Hades to search for the lover of her youth. A part of this form of the legend survives in the famous Assyrian hymn known as “The Descent of Ishtar”. It was first translated by the late Mr. George Smith, of the British Museum. A box containing inscribed tablets had been sent from Assyria to London, and Mr. Smith, with characteristic patience and skill, arranged and deciphered them, giving to the world a fragment of ancient literature infused with much sublimity and imaginative power. Ishtar is depicted descending to dismal Hades, where the souls of the dead exist in bird forms:

I spread like a bird my hands.

I descend, I descend to the house of darkness, the dwelling of the

god Irkalla:

To the house out of which there is no exit,

To the road from which there is no return:

To the house from whose entrance the light is taken,

The place where dust is their nourishment and their food mud.

Its chiefs also are like birds covered with feathers;

The light is never seen, in darkness they dwell….

Over the door and bolts is scattered dust.

When the goddess reaches the gate of Hades she cries to the porter:

Keeper of the waters, open thy gate,

Open thy gate that I may enter.

If thou openest not the gate that I may enter

I will strike the door, the bolts I will shatter,

I will strike the threshold and will pass through the doors;

I will raise up the dead to devour the living,

Above the living the dead shall exceed in numbers.

The porter answers that he must first consult the Queen of Hades, here called Allatu, to whom he accordingly announces the arrival of the Queen of Heaven. Allatu’s heart is filled with anger, and makes reference to those whom Ishtar caused to perish:

Let me weep over the strong who have left their wives,

Let me weep over the handmaidens who have lost the embraces of their husbands,

Over the only son let me mourn, who ere his days are come is taken away.

Then she issues abruptly the stern decree:

Go, keeper, open the gate to her, Bewitch her according to the ancient rules;

that is, “Deal with her as you deal with others who come here”.

As Ishtar enters through the various gates she is stripped of her ornaments and clothing. At the first gate her crown was taken off, at the second her earrings, at the third her necklace of precious stones, at the fourth the ornaments of her breast, at the fifth her gemmed waist-girdle, at the sixth the bracelets of her hands and feet, and at the seventh the covering robe of her body. Ishtar asks at each gate why she is thus dealt with, and the porter answers, “Such is the command of Erishkigal.”

After descending for a prolonged period the Queen of Heaven at length stands naked before the Queen of Hades. Ishtar is proud and arrogant, and Erishkigal is there too, all to eager to punish her rival whom she cannot humble….

To find out how this story ends, join us on Friday, June 17th, 2016 – Sunday, June 19th, 2016 for the Shapatu of Ishtar in Central NJ. This information is brought to you by the Hands of Change coven, a non-profit organization for Earth based spirituality. To register for this event, please click here. If you’d be interested in vending for this event, please click here.

Source: Mackenzie, Donald A. “Myths of Babylonia and Assyria.” Gutenberg. Web. 25 Mar. 2016. <http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16653/16653-h/16653-h.htm&gt;.

 

Annual Roadside Litter Pick-Up, April 23

March 22, 2016

Please join us in service to Mother Nature and the town of Old Bridge, NJ, on Saturday morning, April 23, 2016, from 8:30 am until noon.
A dozen hardy volunteers are needed to help pick up roadside litter – call it an Earth Day Mitzvah!

We will assemble at 8:30 am at G3.

Safety vests, gloves, bags, and “pickers” will be provided, as will drinking water. Volunteers should wear good shoes and pants to protect from poison ivy and bugs. Also, bring bug spray and sunscreen (and a hat) as desired.
When we’re assembled and equipped, we will drive to the start point of the effort (TBA).

This year we have been assigned to a major road with no sidewalks, therefore, the town will not allow us to have any volunteers under the age of 18.

After completion, we will shuttle volunteers back to the start point to collect the trash and equipment, then return to G3

For those interested, just after noon, we will make plans to have a no-host luncheon at a local restaurant. This will be a fun way to celebrate a job well done!

Please RSVP to Gaia to reserve a place in the pick-up effort.
You can contact her at: Gaia@handsofchange.org

Thank you!

Book Party & Signing April 10, 2pm @ G3

March 15, 2016

Hands of Change invites you to a very special book signing party at Gaia’s Garden Grove on Sunday, April 10 at 2 p.m.

C

We will be celebrating the achievement of one of Hands of Change’s founding Kore members, C Lynn Carr, whose book  A Year in White has been published by the prestigious Rutgers University Press. She will be reading from and discussing the book, as well as signing copies. It is not required to purchase a copy of the book to attend.
“In the Afro-Cuban Lukumi religious tradition—more commonly known in the United States as Santería—entrants into the priesthood undergo an extraordinary fifty-three-week initiation period. During this time, these novices—called iyawo—endure a host of prohibitions, including most notably wearing exclusively white clothing. In A Year in White, sociologist C. Lynn Carr, who underwent this initiation herself, opens a window on this remarkable year-long religious transformation.”
To join us for the event, please RSVP to register@handsofchange.org.
If you would like to purchase a paperback copy of the book at the reduced rate of $20, email register@handsofchange.org by 3/29 to place an order.

Adult Ostara Celebration

March 9, 2016

Please join us on Sunday, March 20 at 5:00 pm, for our public celebration of the Spring Equinox. We will have an outdoor bale-fire and celebrate the return of Springtime.
Principal ritualists: Trinity and Kokopelli.

A potluck dinner will immediately follow.
Childcare is available, if requested in advance.
A $5 per adult donation is requested to help cover the expense of firewood, kitchenware, etc.

Please click here to register to attend the ritual or contact register@handsonline.org.
RSVP to Trinity at childcare@handsofchange.org to reserve a space at child care.

Contact kokopelligi@handsofchange.org to learn about the location for this event.

Those with young children may want to consider bringing them to the afternoon Ostara Egg Hunt (2-3 pm), then remaining in the area to attend the evening adult Sabbat ritual, with concurrent child care on site.

***Register your Children & Family for our Ostara Egg Hunt Here!***

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