Inanna, slso known as Ishtar in Akkadian mythology, is a goddess associated with the morning and evening star, Venus. She is viewed as both an independent, powerful and sensual figure, but also as a young girl under patriarchal control. The goddess is also noted for her dual-nature — her feminine as well as masculine traits. In Uruk, she was worshiped as their patron deity, especially at the main center, the Eanna temple meaning the House of Heaven.

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Many snakes shed their skin at various times, revealing a shiny new skin underneath. Thus snakes have become symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing. Traveling west around the world we find images representing the power of the Snake. The snake symbolizes everything from the Devil to the highest order of angels. Gilgamesh was told the plant of eternal life lay at the bottom of a certain lake. After retrieving the plant Gilgamesh rests.

A snake comes and eats the plant. The snake becomes immortal and Gilgamesh goes home to die. The Snake is on this seal from ancient Sumer with the Huluppu Tree. The Sumerian arch serpent-god whose name was Zu or Ningizzida is lord of the watery abyss from which mortal life arises and to which it returns.

The early, pre-Canaanite Phoenicians had a serpent god called the Basilisk. The Basilisk lizard named after this god lives in the tropical rain forests of Central America. Apep: an evil Egyptian god: the deification of darkness and chaos. In Egypt the snake appears in the crowns worn by the divine Pharaoh. Mehen the Enveloper enclosed the phallus of Ra the sun god every night. The Ouroboros originated in Egypt as a symbol of the sun.

The Ouroboros grew out of the belief that serpents eat themselves and are reborn from themselves in an endless cycle of destruction and creation. Ancient Greeks considered snakes sacred to Asclepius, the god of medicine. Snakes entwined the staffs of Hermes and Asclepius. Zeus immortalized the Dragon by placing him as the constellation Draco. In Greek mythology the great snake Python lived at the center of the world holding it together. Python guarded and controlled the shrine of the oracle Gaia at Delphos.

The sibyl or Pythia told prophecies by inhaling volcanic fumes from the center of the world guarded by the divine Python. In the ancient divinatory art of herpetomancy seers use a live snake to foretell the future. The Gnostic demiurge: In Exodus Moses is commanded to throw his rod down on the ground.

The rod becomes a serpent. When he picks it up it becomes a rod again. Later Aaron throws his rod down before Pharaoh and it becomes a snake. The sacred rod of Moses has a room made for it in the Ark of the Covenant.

In Christianity, St. Jormungand is the son of Loki, the Teutonic Satan. A giant water serpent, called the Lough Derg Monster was tricked by Patrick to stay at the bottom of Lough Derg, a pilgrimage site. These gods are morally neutral, working for good or evil. Before the Great Serpent died he caused a great flood to come upon the earth to kill everything.

Nanabozho built a raft and saved mankind and the animals, just as Noah did with the ark. The Aztecs merged him with Quetzalcoatl.

When Quetzalcoatl knew he must leave his people he wove snakes together to make a raft. Quetzalcoatl symbolized the blending of Heaven and Earth as does Inanna. Some say he ascended into heaven and became Venus, the morning star. This snake god lived alone and the only living creature he knew was Turukawa the hawk, paralleling the Snake and the Anzu Bird. The dragon, representing power and nobility to the Vietnamese, is the symbol of the emperor.

The Nagas symbolize both good and evil, hope and fear. The snake king Muchalinda shielded Buddha from a storm. Nagas are believed to live in underground palaces as protectors of springs, wells and rivers. In Malay myths Nagas are many-headed dragons of enormous size. On Java and Thailand, the Naga is a serpent-god, ruler of the netherworld who possesses much wealth.

In Java they are also called Sesas. Sesha, the king of the Nagas, has heads and dresses in purple. The Naga as a god is widespread and significant in all of Southern Asia. On the Malay peninsula we find Raja Naga. Vishnu reclines on the coils of the great serpent. The serpent represents reconciliation between antagonistic principles. It symbolizes the life force that motivates birth and rebirth.

Kundalini Yoga also centers around the imagery of the serpent.. The staff represents the spinal column with the snake s being energy channels.

In the case of two coiled snakes they usually cross each other seven times corresponding to the seven energy centers or chakras. Carl Jung views the serpent as the collective unconscious with wisdom of its own and supernatural knowledge. The serpent as a libido symbol is clear through its phallic dimension. However, the snake being cold-blooded allows no true psychic rapport with warm-blooded animals.


Inanna and the Huluppu Tree – Preamble to The Epic of Gilgamesh

Once upon a time, a tree, a huluppu, a tree -- It had been planted on the bank of the Euphrates, It was watered by the Euphrates -- The violence of the South Wind plucked up its roots, Tore away its crown, The Euphrates carried it off on its waters. The tree grew big, its trunk bore no foliage, In its roots the snake who knows no charm set up its nest, In its crown the Imdugud-bird placed its young, In its midst the maid Lilith built her house -- The always laughing, always rejoicing maid, I, the maid Inanna, how I weep! The tree -- he plucked at its roots, tore at its crown, The sons of the city who accompanied him cut off its branches, He gives it to holy Inanna for her throne, Gives it to her for her bed, She fashions its roots into a pukku for him, Fashions its crown into a mikku for him. The summoning pukku -- in street and lane he made the pukku resound, The loud drumming -- in street and lane he made the drumming resound, The young men of the city, summoned by the pukku -- Bitterness and woe -- he is the affliction of their widows, "O my mate, O my spouse," they lament, Who had a mother -- she brings bread to her son, Who had a sister -- she brings water to her brother. After the evening star had disappeared, And he had marked the places where his pukku had been, He carried the pukku before him, brought it to his house, At dawn in the places he had marked -- bitterness and woe! Because of the cry of the young maidens, His pukku and mikku fell into the "great dwelling," He put in his hand, could not reach them, Put in his foot, could not reach them, He sat down at the great gate ganzir, the "eye" of the nether world, Gilgamesh wept, his face turns pale. The Sumerians.


The Huluppa Tree

Johanna H. From a relief vessel found at Story Mari. Dated around B. Beaulieu, after Wolkstein and Kramer


Gilgamesh Epic, Tablet 12

The first text is Inanna and the Huluppu tree. In this story Inanna and Gilgamesh are on good terms. In turn she makes him a magical drum and drumstick, from the same tree. This is the setup for the second part which is also considered tablet 12 of the epic. Enkidu volunteers to go to the Underworld to fetch it, but is trapped there. Even if The Huluppu tree and the tablet 12 were originally one document, they represent an independent Gilgamesh tradition, not related to the epic, except in a shared curiosity about the afterlife.


Many snakes shed their skin at various times, revealing a shiny new skin underneath. Thus snakes have become symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing. Traveling west around the world we find images representing the power of the Snake. The snake symbolizes everything from the Devil to the highest order of angels.

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