Sumerian Mists (Part 2 of 3)

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

The initiation ritual took place in a cave or burial mound but in the mythologies and fairy tales mountains, forests and waters are initiatory places par excellence that symbolize the realm of death, or passages to reach it. “Kur”, “mountain that gives life”, is a clear reference to the grave of the divine ancestor and the ritual that gave new life, through rebirth, to the young initiate.

The burial mounds reproduce the shape of the hills and, just like these, they symbolize the womb during pregnancy:
cerveteri_1Immagine correlata

One of the epithets of Humbaba is “god of the fortress of intestines”:
tumblr_nirnkuwfkm1rgfuxjo1_1280

Representation of an archaic labyrinth:
trojeborg_nordisk_familjebok

The archaic labyrinth is a sacred symbol that refers to the womb of the earth, at the same time realm of death and matrix of rebirth: the “fortress of intestines” mentioned above is simply a variation of the same concept.

Humbaba is therefore the king of the cave or burial mound, the divine ancestor of the child that will be his reincarnation. Gilgamesh decapitates Humbaba and performs the rebirth ritual: the child had to take the skull, i.e. the mind and spirit of the ancestor reborn in him, and take it with him out of the grave, fundamental gesture that marked the return to life of the deceased from the place where he reigned as a king.

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