Sumerian Mists (Part 2 of 3)

Let’s continue with the Epic of Gilgamesh.

At a certain point in the tale Gilgamesh and Enkidu make their way into the Cedar Forest, located in Kur (“mountain that gives life”), to meet and kill Humbaba, the guardian of the forest.

The initiation ritual took place in the burial mound but in our mythologies and fairy tales mountains, waters and forests are initiation sites par excellence and symbolize the realm of the dead/burial mound, or passages to reach it. Kur, “mountain that gives life”, is a clear reference to the grave of the ancestor and to the ritual that gave new life, through rebirth, to the young initiate. Thus, the Kur and the Cedar Forest are an image for the burial mound and its inner chambers.

The burial mounds, which repeat the shape of the hills, just like these symbolize the womb during pregnancy:
cerveteri_11200px-silburyhill_gobeirne

One of the epithets of Humbaba is “god of the fortress of intestines”.

Humbaba:
tumblr_nirnkuwfkm1rgfuxjo1_1280

Troy Town/Prehistoric Labyrinth:
trojeborg_nordisk_familjebok

The Troy Town/Prehistoric Labyrinth is a symbol that refers to the womb of the earth/burial mound/realm of the dead. You can certainly interchange “fortress of intestines” with the definition you prefer among those I have used above, since they all recall the same concept/place.

So Humbaba is the god/lord of the burial mound and you can easily see him as the dead ancestor of the brave child, who wants to become that ancestor. Gilgamesh decapitates Humbaba, i.e. performs the rebirth ritual. Indeed, as we know, the child had to take the skull (the mind/spirit) of the dead ancestor – at that point reborn in him – and take it out of the grave, by now foreign to the place where he reigned as a king.

***

On a totally different perspective you can compare Humbaba to the Jötnar of the Nordic mythology. Humbaba is defined “enormity”, “ferocious giant” and under this light he represents the vices, the passions, the uncontrollability and generally speaking the negative aspects of the human being. That’s why those who get close to the forest are “overwhelmed by weakness” (note: also because to enter the grave you need to be yourself one of the dead, and the dead are much weaker of the living…) and why the giant “never sleeps” (note: sleep is our “little death”, that’s why the ancestor in the grave never sleeps, because he is already living his “great death”; Hypnos [the personification of sleep] and Thanatos [the personification of death] are twin brothers in the Greek mythology), since the negative in men is always ready to manifest itself, if we allow it. Furthermore, “his weapons are such that no one can resist them”, because are required a strong mind and a strong will to never be reached by the Jötnar’s weapons, bearers of degeneration, and “mysterious is his form”  because the negative in man has many and always different shapes, it is misleading and not easily recognizable!

Part 1: Sumerian Mists (Part 1 of 3)
Part 3: Sumerian Mists (Part 3 of 3)

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3 thoughts on “Sumerian Mists (Part 2 of 3)

  1. Pingback: Appendix on Sumerians | Ancestor's Voice

  2. Pingback: Sumerian Mists (Part 1 of 2) | Ancestor's Voice

  3. Pingback: Words of Wisdom #57 | Ancestor's Voice

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