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Message from the Goddess at Beltane

May 2, 2021

We call upon Rhiannon, the Faerie Queen, at Beltane this year:

Photo by Celeste Horrocks on Unsplash

Rhiannon, great Queen of the Faeries,
Who grants sovereignty to the ruler of the land,
And to the internal workings of our hearts.
Golden Goddess of Springtime,
Call our spirits out of the slumber of winter
With the melodies of songbirds and
The rowdy kaleidoscope of blossoming impudence
That nudges the dead in their eternal sleep.
I call you, Lady of Wisdom and Rebirth,
To guide our transformation as we emerge again Rhiannon
From our cloistered hibernation as the monarchs we were always meant to be.

Photo and altar by Carol Boyer

Hear the words of the Goddess, the dust of whose feet are the hosts of Heaven:

The veil between the worlds grows thin once more. The elemental spirits peek out from behind trees, under rocks, through puddles and streams as Springtime brings new growth in a riot of color and a cacophony of life. Through the wildness of the teaming world, I am here with you, shimmering between the air waves and dancing through the night sky as the holy dark within.

Sing with me of new life, of hope and expansion, of venturing out from your needed cocoon that this last year has gifted and enforced in the timelessness of a sneeze and the length of a mountain’s days.

You will begin again, stepping into the world, free and unfettered by all the skins you’ve shed and words you’ve heard. Here is the silence and the ringing of eternity, right here in this space of sacred Now.

This is the breath between two laughs. A yawn in the vast reaches of time, where the fairies experience the physical world through dreaming your bodies, and the ancestors remember a time when they walked the earth.

Here you come to experience the illusion of your world and the reality of mine. What you think you know, begone! Learn again today of what your spirit sings to you. Experience the world as my people know it: A vast and beautiful realm of joy and play.

We come today to dance with you in celebration of this season, in the freedom that you have learned in your captivity… if you were lucky. Take all you need today to go forward in the ways of men and gods, that you may know the truth of your own nature where all the world’s a stage and you its players.

Theme 2021 – Regeneration

January 21, 2021

Cycles are the natural way that the world expresses itself – the seasons, life and death, even monthly hormonal expressions. So too are epochs expressed, and every day I thank the gods that I was born at this time and place to experience the miraculous changes in our world today.

Astrologically, the planet Saturn will be in Aquarius, which began with the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction at the Winter Solstice, through March of 2023, an event that psychic Michelle Whitedove calls “the dawning of the Age of Aquarius” and that spiritual teachers have been referring to recently as “the Great Awakening.”

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

While there have been a few Great Awakenings in history, never before have they been focused on care for the planet we live on, Mother Earth. This is something we as pagans have always been aware of, our interconnection with the biosphere we call home. Finally, our time on this planet has become a necessity, as the world slowly wakes up from the Great Pause.

In honor of this grand cosmic event and the shifting of energy, Hands of Change’s theme for this year is “regeneration.” Last year, the Great Pause, was about old things passing away and the in-breath that humanity took together before embarking on our next great experiment in evolution.

The Hindu god Brahma teaches us that the three million years of human experience is the blink of an eye to the gods, and so the change of an age is not a day or even a lifetime but perhaps hundreds of years. Nevertheless, Saturn’s march through Aquarius is a momentous time, a time of rebirth of many outdated ways of thinking and doing.

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

How do we navigate this change? That is the question we will ask over and over in the coming year as we continue to meet and pray virtually in our Friday night Wiccan Prayer Gatherings, for esbats and sabbats, and in our Hands of Change virtual community on FaceBook and YouTube . Please connect with us as we explore what regeneration means in light of the big changes coming this year.

The Season of the Child of Light

December 8, 2020

It may seem odd to be celebrating the Child of the Sun on the shortest day of the year, when the dark threatens to overwhelm us, but the Child of Promise is the harbinger of longer days are to come. This is part of the dance of light and shadow that we have been dreaming together this year.

The Child of Promise, also known as the Child of Light, helps us see through the dark into the Light. This is the Spirit within, the higher self, the Divine spark. When we see with our physical eyes, the world around us seems barren and dark, but we know because we have experienced the cycle of the seasons time and again, that what seems dead is really resting and getting ready in a few short months to burst forth with the beauty of the green earth.

Photo by Mohammad Asadi on Unsplash

It is this season that can remind you the most that you are truly the Child of Light yourself, the Sun God reborn into the darkness. You are the light of the world, spreading and connecting with all the other God Cells on the planet to create a web of light.

Without the longest night, you would not know your true shining nature of peace, hope and love. The holy dark provides the medium for this cell of Light that you are, to know itself, for without dark, the light cannot shine so brightly.

In the concept of As Above, So Below, finding the indwelling Child of the Sun within you is tantamount to understanding the Truth that the Holy Sun/Son is not only the reflection of the Sun Deity (Mithras, Ra, Amaterasu, Horus, Apollo, etc.), but also the Deity incarnate.

Photo by Daoudi Aissa on Unsplash

This is the magic and Mystery of this season, the chance to know yourself as Divine. In the Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente, we are told,

“To thou who thinkest to seek Me,
Know that thy seeking and
yearning shall avail thee not
Unless thou knowest the Mystery.
If that which thou seekest
Thou findest not within thee,
thou wilt never find it without.”

Only in giving up the illusion (maya) of separation within us is the Child of Promise born into this world. This co-identification of Sun Deity Within is what brings forth the miraculous turning of the earth and change of seasons, the ebb and flow of the tides, and the dance of the stars in the heavens as co-Creators of All That IS. Only in realizing that the object of our spiritual quest is within can we regain the crown of spiritual sovereignty as the Child of Light.

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

In this season of Yule, we celebrate the dance of light and shadow, of life in death, and of the star in darkness. As a Child of Light, I greet you with light, and may you shine your light as a beacon of hope to the world.

Dancing with Light and Shadow at Samhain

November 3, 2020

When Hands of Change picked the theme of “dancing with light and shadow” this year, we didn’t have any idea of what was in store for us. We hold a coven divination at Samhain each year, but I don’t think we were in any way prepared for the amount of shadow coming our way.

At the beginning of the Great Pause, I remember thinking that by the end of it, we will all know someone who has passed beyond the veil. This year has certainly been filled with many shadows, from the incredibly polarized political climate to unrest and conflict to illness and deaths.

In order not to be paralyzed by the shadow, we have to remember and rekindle the light. This is our dance as lightbearers, healers, and magical people. The dance of creation is the dance of the phoenix, rising from the ashes of immolation. The dance of rebirth is the shaking down of the old to create the new. Courage comes to us from the fires of creation.

Photo by Juan Encalada on Unsplash

At this time of year, we often descend to the Underworld to commune with our honored dead and to say goodbye to those we have lost in the previous year. It is a time when we as Wiccans remind ourselves that those who have passed beyond the veil are not really lost to us, but waiting for us on the other side.

We’ve had what amounts to a month of Samhain ritual, starting with a procession to the goddess Ereshkigal in the Underworld at Ishtarfest to petition her on behalf of our beloved dead, then a last rites Wiccan Prayer Gathering called Holy Mud, then our small coven-only Samhain and coven divination for next year, and finally the public Samhain scheduled on Sunday Nov. 8 at 4 p.m. EST. (see our FaceBook event or join our mailing list for details).

Right now I feel more in tune with Demeter wandering the earth, bereft of her daughter Kore than with Persephone, the queen of the Underworld. The land has been blighted by the events of 2020, and Demeter has left her mark upon our souls.

It is in this dark time that we reach deep inside to find the light, to be a beacon for those in our communities overshadowed by death, discouragement, and disease. For those who are able, we dance the dance of the New Year as the wheel turns, spinning joy into our lives and beaming that joy to those around us. No one benefits from remaining in despair. Even in her own sorrow, Demeter tried to grant immortality to her host’s son (through fire, I might add) as she sought refuge in Eleusis.

Photo by Pablo Orcaray on Unsplash

It is in this spirit that I hold out my Light to you. Take my hand and dance the new year into being with me. Whirl hope and joy into your community. Through you, the light of Spirit is made manifest on this plane. Be the Light of the world and stand with me, casting light into the darkness and illuminating the shadows with our love.

Good news about some of our animal siblings

October 26, 2020

Here’s a little good news about the environment:

The Gulf of Mexico whale, which numbers fewer than 50 individuals, received endangered species protections.

The global summit on endangered species created stronger protections against the trade of Asian otters, giraffes, sharks and vaquitas.

A California court upheld a state ban on ivory sales that aims to help save elephants by reducing global demand for ivory.

(Source: NRDC)

Offerings to the Gods

September 30, 2020

From the many tablets and artifacts left behind by the ancients, we know quite a lot about the way that Sumerians practiced their religion. Many ancient cultures made offerings to the gods as a way to celebrate or appease them. Mesopotamia was no different.

In ancient Sumer, daily offerings at the houses of the Gods pleased them and made them comfortable. In fact, at one time, gods could expect four meals a day with multiple courses!

Statues could be votive offerings and could also contain offerings, in the case of a beautiful cup or plate. First fruit offerings might include wine, beer, barley and dates.

Different gods preferred different kinds of offerings. If it pleases you, gather some offerings to give to the gods at Ishtarfest. General offerings that any of the gods would like include animal and vegetable foods and libations of water, wine and beer, as well as the burning of incense. Beer, bread, lentils, olive oil, cheese, cream, butter, honey, and tropical fruits like dates are all good choices. Jewelry and statues also make good offerings.

Offerings for some of the gods that are mentioned during the festival (there are a thousand gods, so the list is not exhaustive) are as follows:

3Qtr Right

An, the Sky God: Feathers, incense (particularly cedar, anise, and lemongrass)

Dumuzi/Tammuz: any vegetation

Enki, God of Water: beer, spring water, cucumbers, apples with stems, grapes, fish, poem or other writing

Enlil, Air God: Food, land and precious objects. For this festival, some soil from your yard will do. Also, anything related to air, such as feathers, music or the breath.

Ereshkigal/Irkalla, Goddess of the Underworld: mortuary offerings made to the dead (bread and water), fasting, weep for her

Geshtinanna,  goddess of agriculture, fertility, and dream interpretation: vegetation, dreams

Inanna/Ishtar, Goddess of Love and War, Venus: incense, wine, artisanal beer, baked treats, cedar oil or incense, rose petals, lapis lazuli

Ki, the Earth Goddess: sand or earth, jewelry or precious stones

Nammu, Goddess of the Primeval Sea: salt water, seaweed

Nanna/Sin, the Moon God: Reeds, linen

Ningal, Goddess of the Reeds & Moon: olive, fig, and apple, along with nuts such as the pistachio, walnut, and almond.

Ninkasi, Goddess of Beer: toasting with beer

Ninshubur, Messenger Goddess: anything you would offer to Inanna would also please her vizier

Shamash/Utu, the Sun God: wheat flour (especially einkorn or emmer wheat, burn a candle or incense, the bill of rights or the constitution

Siduri, the Goddess at the Inn at the end of the World: toasting with wine

To find out more about the Sumerian gods, be sure to show up for Ed VanDerJagt’s class on Sumerian Deities on Saturday Oct.10 at 11 a.m. EST on Zoom.

The devotional ritual to Inanna and Dumuzi is another good choice for exploring the magic of offerings. On Saturday Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. EST, Valerie Vogt and Ivan Richmond invite you to bring food and drink offerings, which may be eaten afterwards. Traditional offerings include lentils, olive oil, bread, cream/milk, beer and wine.

Temple of Inanna & Dumuzi will lead a devotional involving offerings at Ishtarfest 2020.

Feel free to make offerings during the other rituals as well. Water will be appropriate for the Friday night ritual Procession to the Underworld, at 7:30 p.m. EST with special guest Elspeth. Traditional offerings will be appropriate for Saturday night’s main ritual The Sacred Marriage of Shadow and Light at 7 p.m. and Sunday’s Oracle of Inanna at 8 p.m.

If you want to make a meal for the gods, check out the Sumerian cooking shows on Saturday at 12 noon and Sunday at 9 a.m. and 12 noon. See our schedule for more information at http://www.handsofchange.org/ishtarfest.

 

Why Ishtar?

September 15, 2020

This is the 5th consecutive year that Hands of Change has offered a festival celebrating Sumerian mythology, religion and culture. What we seek to do with Ishtarfest is to help bring back the worship of the elder gods in modern day Paganism.

Greek thought can be directly traced to Mesopotamian/Sumerian societies. Both Hesiod and Homer relied extensively on Sumerian sources for their writings, and strong similarities exist between the two culture’s mythologies. These works were central to the development of Greek thought, which influenced European and American structural and cultural development.

The influence of the Mesopotamian city of Uruk reached as far as Egypt, where similarities can be seen between Sumerian and Egyptian artwork, as well as between their pantheons.

Growing up in our culture with Greek and Egyptian mythology taught in our classrooms, modern Paganism has taken on the flavor of those and more Celtic influences. We believe that it’s time to trace our roots back even farther to the Fertile Crescent to learn about the birth of pagan civilization and its influence on our world today.

The history of the festival, which occurred 6 times in this century, is as follows:

2003 – Shapatu of Ishtar, Two Nights in Babylon

2016 – Ishtarfest, featuring the play The Shapatu of Ishtar

2017 – Ishtarfest’s Sumerfaire, A Sumerian Renaissance Faire

2018 – Ishtarfest, Journey Through The Goddess (centering on the Goddess Chant – Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna)

2019 – Ishtarfest, to the Kur and Back (Sweat lodges and descent ritual)

As we move into our festival, we encourage you to find out more about the links between more modern pagan cultures and the inspiration that they derived from Sumerian religion and mythology. Our presenters will shed light on why Mesopotamia has relevance for Paganism today.

We are very honored to have some amazing speakers this year.

Oberon Zell, the father of modern Paganism, will present Mysteries of Mesopotamia. The Dawn of Civilization began around 10,000 years ago, in Mesopotamia— “The  land between the rivers” (the Tigris and Euphrates). Ancient Sumeria gave us the earliest writing (cuneiform) as well as origin myths that have come down to us in the Book of Genesis. But was there an actual “Garden of Eden”? And if so, where was it located, and what happened to it? And what of the legend of the great flood of Noah? Did that really happen—and if so, when, and how? And what was the Sumerian Underworld told of in the story of the “Descent of Inanna”? Oberon will reveal some of “Hystory’s Mysteries” from his current book project.

Jason Mankey, Llewellyn author and writer of Raise the Horns at Patheos Pagan, will be sharing information about the god Pan, who may have had his roots in Sumerian Dumuzi. Few ancient gods have captivated the modern imagination as much as the Greek God Pan. This workshop follows the history of Pan from his humble beginnings in the mountains of Arcadia to his rise into the pantheon of the ancient Greeks to his re-emergence in the 19th century. Find out what has made Pan so popular and ever-present for the last three thousand years.

Ancient Near Eastern echoes of the Astra Planeta and Greek Mythology will be addressed by Hercules Invictus. The gods and goddesses of both Mesopotamia and Greece have associations with planets in our solar system.

Michael Law will regale us with Hellenistic Astrology that was heavily influenced by Sumerian thought.

James Jacob Pierri of Auset Gypsy will discuss Isis, Ishtar, and the knots that bind. The goddesses Ishtar and Isis have much in common with one another, similarities in myth, image, ritual and magic! At the center of it all is the “Sacred Knot” that both Goddesses possess. His talk will provide visuals and a light meditation ritual.

These speakers and others will begin to unravel the mysteries that Mesopotamia beckons us as modern-day pagans to learn.

Cook Like a Sumerian

September 8, 2020

Have you ever wondered what people ate 4000 years ago? Well, it turns out that we actually know a little bit about that. At least four clay tablets from ancient Sumeria contain recipes for food from the time.

The earliest known cookbook was engraved in clay around 1600 BC by Babylon’s version of Wolfgang Puck. Even though there are words missing, it’s in Sumerian, and it doesn’t have any listed quantities, it provides valuable clues to our culinary past.

For you pagan foodies out there wondering why Sumerian food would have relevance to your modern palette, have you ever eaten Middle Eastern food? Yummy, right? Mesopotamia is modern-day Iran and Iraq, and the food from that advanced civilization is just as delectable. Modern Iraqi stew seems to be a direct descendant from the stew recipe found on one of the culinary tablets.

Sumerians might eat barley flatbread and honey for breakfast. The ordinary Sumerian’s evening meal might consist of fish mixed with cucumber, onions, apples, cheese, watercress, mustard, turnips and eggs. More wealthy locals added wild boar, venison, lamb, and water fowl to their diets. Milk, butter, and cheese came from cows, goats and sheep. Meals after a hard day of work could contain a grain cake cooked with diverse fruit, along with dried fish and a pitcher of beer. Vegetables were plentiful and added color to most meals.

Attend one of our FREE Sumerian cooking classes at Virtual Ishtarfest 2020 Oct. 9-12.

Come, feast your eyes and soul with recipes from the cookbook of Siduri, the Innkeeper at the End of the World. Learn to cook Gilgamesh’s last meal on earth. Maeve will conjure up Fesenjan, a walnut pomegranate stew. Traveling back in time she will breathe new life into this time-honored recipe using the slow cooker of a modern-day chef.

Conny Jasper will be creating a simple and delicious dessert using Sumerian spices. She’ll be exploring ancient food with nutritious and medicinal properties. Conny will discuss some of the delicious and health boosting Sumerian and Mesopotamian ingredients and recipes.

Not unlike other ancient cultures, Mesopotamia had its own version of fermented beverage – beer! They even had a goddess dedicated to this nectar of the gods named Ninkasi. Cernunnos will share a brief history of beer in Sumeria, as well as the role the brewing goddess played in the culture. Best of all this class will serve as a practical introduction to ancient brewing methods as our brewmaster demonstrates how to make an ancient Sumerian beer.

Dedicated priestess to the Goddess Inanna, our resident Sumerian expert Enheduinanna will recreate an ancient bread and date spread in her cooking segment. If you were at Ishtarfest last year, you know it was delicious!

We hope you will join us. Gates open at 4 p.m. on Friday Oct. 9. Be there or be a cooking pot!

Supercharged Lionsgate Portal Opens on Aug. 8

August 7, 2020

Meditation to tap into its energy

Have you noticed a brightly twinkling star in the sky just before dawn? If you are up at that time, you can view the Dogstar Sirius which is the bottom of Orion’s belt lined up vertically with our planet. Sirius is part of the constellation Canis Major the Greater Dog (which is why it’s called the Dogstar and this time of year is called the Dog Days of Summer, because Sirius has now emerged in the sky from behind the Sun). In the early morning, you can see it madly glinting in red and sometimes blue. (It’s also called the Blue Star, and the Egyptians called it Sothic).

The ancient Sumerians and Egyptians could definitely see Sirius (which is twice the mass of our Sun). The people living in the fertile crescent worshipped a race of beings called Nibiru or Igigi, depending on the location. These “gods” it is rumored may have traveled to our planet from Planet X, the tiny planet orbiting Sirius. In fact, Sirius may be the second sun in our solar system. Nasa confirms that 90 percent of stars begin with a binary partner.[1]

Inanna holding a lion’s leash

The Lionsgate portal occurs every year when the sun in Leo syncs up with the star Sirius. This is said to generate high frequency spiritual energy and is a time when psychic senses are highly sensitive, people receive downloads, and the New Age community is touting the rewiring and upgrading of both the physical and spiritual bodies. The portal will be especially powerful due to recent solar and lunar eclipses.

Ritual

Ishtar Gate of Babylon

Acknowledge Sacred Space – We tell the creation myth of the ancient Sumerians to increase our awareness of the sacredness of what we are about to do:

Using a bowl of water, spritzes the area say: First was Nammu, goddess of the primeval sea.

Put a rock on top of pile of rocks on your altar and say: A cosmic mountain formed in the sea, made of the perfect union of the god of heaven, called An, and the goddess of earth, called Ki.

Light a stick of incense in the air and place it on your altar, saings: Their passion ignited the sky and Ki became heavy with child.

Blow out the stick of incense, walk around the area with it, and say: An and Ki gave birth to Enlil, the Air-god. The birth of Enlil was the event that separated heaven from earth, and gave each its own form and function.

Welcoming:

Hail Inanna, Lady of Heaven and Earth! Hail, Star of the Evening,

Lady of the Largest Heart,

Queen of rarest deeds proclaimed
Help us to gather our power from the Heavens,

And to walk to ways of the Old Ones with new eyes.

Be with us now in your radiant glory: Lead us on the great journey

Hail and Welcome!

Hail Ereshkigal, Lady of the Underworld!

Mistress of the Seven Gates, 
Lady of Irkalla, help us to move beyond ourselves 
And our fears, and see all endings with new eyes. 

Be with us now in your dark splendor: Watch over us as we visit your realm

Hail and welcome!

Meditation:

Feel yourself firmly rooted into the floor. Your feet flexing on the ground, every toe connecting with the earth. Observe the channel of your spine and notice your energy sinking down into the earth.

Visualize before you the Gates of Babylon (see photo). You are on the brink of entering another world. If you choose to walk through the gates before you, your life will never be the same. Beyond these gates lies the Akashic library – all the spiritual knowledge that ever was, is and will be. The storehouse is vast and open to you, if you have the courage to step through the Gates of Time.

Before you is Ereshkigal, wise grandmother wearing the head of a lion, who walks with you through the land of endings. Old ways are dying. Listen to her wisdom as she whispers in your mind. Listen carefully as she gives you a message of courage. She is the gatekeeper. If you wish to proceed, ask her permission and walk through the gates. Hear the lion’s roar in your heart as you step over the threshold and feel the portal’s energy pulsing through your veins.

Before you is Inanna, the morning and evening star, holding a lion’s leash in her hand. Her radiance envelops you and you feel the energy of the storehouse of ancient wisdom throbbing around you. Allow her to walk you around. Touch any volumes that attract you and absorb its teachings through your skin. Focus on the top of your head and notice any sensations you experience. Then shift your attention to the center of your forehead and see with your Inner Eye. Feel your throat and listen for any words of wisdom that you may hear or speak. Finally, place your hands over your heart and commune with the Goddess of Love, who stands beside you. When you feel complete, allow any energy you may still retain to pass down your spine and into the earth to be recycled for another day.

When you are ready, return to the land of the Living through the Gates. Take a few deep breaths and relax fully from your grand adventure with the Queen of Heaven and Earth.

Goodbyes:

Hail, Lady of the Evening Star! I praise you for your bright courage and for helping me to harness my potential. Go in peace with my thanks and blessings. Hail and farewell!

Hail, Queen of the Underworld! I praise you for your dark wisdom and for embodying the power of the portal. Go in peace with my thanks and blessings. Hail and farewell.

Allow your awareness of the sacred space and the Goddesses to recede from your conscious as you extinguish the incense and remove the sacred objects from your altar. Eat and drink something to further ground you.

If this article interests you, check out our info on Ishtarfest Online scheduled for Oct. 9-12, 2020.


[1] https://humanoriginproject.com/sirius-mythology-two-sun-solar-system/

Dream Interpretation in the Ancient World

July 20, 2020

In the New Age, dreams have been examined and pored over to gain psychological understanding of ourselves, receive messages from Spirit, and to divine the future. The art of dream interpretation has a long history and can be traced back to our ancient Pagan ancestors.

The Greeks believed that dream-visions were messages from gods and ghosts; dreams were said to “stand over” the dreamer as though brought by an entity. These altered states link those experiencing them to the spirit world and enable them to receive messages.

In the Greek view dream visions are objective fact and are interpreted by complicated symbolism. Prophetic dreams were categorized in the following way:

1. Symbolic dream: metaphors that must be interpreted.

2. Horama/vision: straightforward, pre-enactment of a future event.

3. Chrematismos/oracle: parent, priest, God, or esteemed elder reveals without symbolism what will or will not happen or should or should not be done. An apport, or token, might be left behind in the dream and later found on the physical plane as a sign.

If we go even further back to Mesopotamia, we find references in the ancient Sumerian texts to how this dead culture viewed dreams.

In the epic “Gilgamesh,” Gilgamesh’s best friend Enkidu dreams of his death in very specific terms that come true exactly. The Goddess Ishtar, also known as Inanna, tells her father Anu, God of the Sky, what will happen if she does not get her way with Gilgamesh. She sends the Bull of Heaven against Gilgamesh and Enkidu, and they overcome it. Cleansing themselves again, they parade through the streets of Uruk, and Gilgamesh announces his fame. However, Enkidu dreams of his death and renounces his former great deeds as being nothing when set against his coming death.6 Enkidu curses his having killed Humbaba, his bringing the cedars of Lebanon to the city, and his encounter with the harlot. (He takes this last curse back, however, and gives her a blessing.) Enkidu dreams again, this time a long dream of the House of Death, and falls ill. In the Greek view, this can be described as horama.

Gilgamesh himself has two important dreams. In the first a meteorite falls to earth that is so great that Gilgamesh can neither lift it nor turn it. The people gather and celebrate around the meteorite, and Gilgamesh embraces it as he would a wife, but his mother, the goddess Rimat-Ninsun, forces him to compete with the meteorite. In the second, Gilgamesh dreams that an axe appears at his door, so great that he can neither lift it nor turn it. The people gather and celebrate around the axe, and Gilgamesh embraces it as he would a wife, but his mother, again, forces him to compete with the axe. Gilgamesh asks his mother what these dreams might mean; she tells him a man of great force and strength will come into Uruk. Gilgamesh will embrace this man as he would a wife, and this man will help Gilgamesh perform great deeds. That man turns out to be Enkidu. The Greeks would have called this a symbolic dream.

Another symbolic dream is that of Dumuzi (Tammuz), the king-consort of Inanna (Ishtar). Dumuzi dreams that rushes envelop him, one reed trembles and two reeds growing together are removed. In the next scene of his dream, he is terrified by the forest, and then water is poured on his holy hearth. Amidst other symbols of death and decay, predatory animals catch their prey and agriculture grinds to a halt. His sister Geshtinanna interprets his dream for him, thus earning her the epithet of “the old woman, interpreter of dreams.” She concludes that Dumuzi’s demons pursue and attack him. She says the single reed is their mother, who mourns for him, and the two reeds are herself and Dumuzi, who will each be taken away. The remainder of her analysis prophesies death and destruction for Dumuzi.

Finally, in a dream, the god Ea tells Utnapishtim to make a boat with very precise measurements and to take in the boat “the seed of all living creatures” to save them from a coming flood. This is an example of chrematismos. It is also the precursor to the Noah story in the bible.

From the time of Gilgamesh, a historical Mesopotamian king living around 2700 B.C. to the Greeks in the last centuries before the Common Era, the rich tradition of dream interpretation continued to be practiced in a very similar way.

If you would like to learn more about ancient influences on our modern day Paganism, we invite you to out annual Ishtarfest celebration, currently schedule the second weekend in October.

-Rev. Amara Willey