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Introducing The Annuna

May 31, 2016

Merry Meet Everyone!

As of today, IshtarFest is two and a half weeks away! We’re coming up on the last blog posts that have been featuring IshtarFest and Mesopotamian mythology! Tickets are still available so if you haven’t already done so, register nowThis week we’re going to introduce to you the Anunna, the gods who act as judges during the entire ritual drama. Continue reading on for all the fun:

The Annunna consists of Ningal, Nisaba, Shammash, Ninshuber, Marduk, Nintura and Gula. We’ve already talked about Shammash and Ninshuber in previous blog posts, so if you haven’t already read them yet go and get to it! Otherwise, we have the rest here for you to learn about:

Ningal: Moon Goddess, Mother to Ishtar

4d-Nannars-spouse-Ningal-King-Ur-NammuNingal is the beloved daughter of Ningikuga, the Goddess of Reeds, and Enki, the God of Magic, Crafts and Wisdom. To fully understand Ningikuga as a Great Goddess, it is necessary to go back in time to the Southernmost part of Mesopotamia, where people started first gathering in settlements and to build the first huts for housing and temples for the gods also made of reeds. It was in a place called Eridu, the first identified settlement in South Mesopotamia and city dedicated to Enki, where “kingship descended from the heavens to the land”. Ningal, is said to be young and pretty, as well as to possess the gift to unveil the language of the Unknown revealed in images, age-old legends, poetry and most of all, in dreams. Thus, in her we have another timeless archetype of wholeness: She is the goddess of Dream Interpretation, of insight and divination, therefore somewhat reserved, living with her mother in the fertile marshlands of South Mesopotamia.


Nisaba: Mercury

Nisaba is the Sumerian Goddess of writing, accounting, and grain. E26GAEShe is the daughter of An and Urash, and sister of Ninsun. With her husband Haya, God of storehouses, she is the mother of the Goddess Sud, whose name was changed to Ninlil when she married Enlil, God of the air. Nisaba keeps the records of the Gods, and as the divine scribe she was especially worshipped by Sumerian scribes. She is depicted with long flowing hair, and her tiara features a crescent moon and ears of corn, since she was also associated with the harvest. Nisaba’s name means “lady of the grain rations,” which explains her combined roles as Goddess of grain and of accounting, and is also seen as Nissaba, Nidaba, Nanibgal, and Nunbarshegunu (lady whose body is dappled barley).


Marduk: Jupiter

marduk-godMarduk’s origins and original functions are obscure. He is associated with incantations already in the Old Babylonian period. At the same time Marduk is mainly known as the patron god of the city of Babylon, and it has often been suggested that Marduk’s religious importance increased with the city’s growing political influence. In the first millennium, Marduk is identified with Jupiter.

One of the best-known literary texts from ancient Mesopotamia describes Marduk’s dramatic rise to power:  In this narrative, the god Marduk battles the goddess Tiamat, the deified ocean, often seen to represent a female principle, whereas Marduk stands for the male principle. Marduk is victorious, kills Tiamat, and creates the world from her body. In gratitude the other gods then bestow 50 names upon Marduk and select him to be their head. The number 50 is significant, because it was previously associated with the god Enlil, the former head of the pantheon, who was now replaced by Marduk. This replacement of Enlil is already foreshadowed in the prologue to the famous Code of Hammurabi, a collection of “laws,” issued by Hammurabi (r. 1792-1750 BCE), the most famous king of the first dynasty of Babylon. In the prologue, Hammurabi mentions that the gods Anu and Enlil determined for Marduk to receive the “Enlil-ship” (stewardship) of all the people, and with this elevated him into the highest echelons of the Mesopotamian pantheon.

Another important literary text offers a different perspective on Marduk. The composition, one of the most intricate literary texts from ancient Mesopotamia, is often classified as “wisdom literature,” and ill-defined and problematic category of Akkadian literature. Assyriologists refer to this poem as Ludlul bēl nēmeqi “Let me praise the Lord of Wisdom,” after its first line, or alternatively as “The Poem of the Righteous Sufferer”. The literary composition, which consists of four tablets of 120 lines each, begins with a 40-line hymnic praise of Marduk, in which his dual nature is described in complex poetic wording: Marduk is powerful, both good and evil, just as he can help humanity, he can also destroy people. The story then launches into a first-person narrative, in which the hero tells us of his continued misfortunes. It is this element that has often been compared to the Biblical story of Job. In the end the sufferer is saved by Marduk and ends the poem by praising the god once more.


Nintura: Saturn, Goddess of War, Rain and Wells

urlThe Sumerian god of war and the south wind, raucous son of Enlil and Ninhursag,  best known for retrieving The Tablets of Destiny for Enki after they had been stolen by Abzu. Nintura was depicted as a fierce god who more often used his brawn instead of his brains. In an early myth, his mother tries to kill him by hurling rocks at him. When the rocks fail to harm Nintura in the least, Ninhursag takes the life force from them and they become dead stones. Those rocks who refused Ninursag’s task to be thrown as weapons, Nintura rewarded by transforming them into precious gems. The Babylonian god of the same name is derived from this Sumerian deity. He is usually depicted as an archer either standing or running on the back of a monster with the body of a lion and the tail of a scorpion.


Gula: Goddess of Healing

gula-mesopotamian-goddess-of-healing-wellcome-imagesTypically encountered in medical incantations as bēlet balāti, “Lady of Health”, Gula/Ninkarrak was also known as the azugallatu the “great healer”, an epithet she shared with her son Damu. Other epithets, such as the “great healer of the land” and “great healer of the black-headed ones”, point to her wide-reaching ‘national’ significance. Gula/Ninkarrak was also credited as an “herb grower”, “the lady who makes the broken up whole again”, and “creates life in the land”, indicative of an aspect as a vegetation/fertility goddess with regenerative powers. At least in the Neo-Babylonian period, she also seems to have had an oneiric quality, being sought in incubation dreams and appearing in nocturnal visions. Gula/Ninkarrak also had a violent side as the “queen whose ‘tempest’, like a raging storm, makes heaven, makes earth quake”. The goddess and her dogs were frequently mentioned in curse formulae.



To find out how the Annuna are a key to the Shapatu of Ishtar, join us Friday, June 17th, 2016 – Sunday, June 19th, 2016 for the IshtarFest 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. Vendor application deadline is coming up soon!


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