Mythological Spotlight #4: Enki

An ancient depiction of Enki

Description

Also known as Ea, Enki is an important deity recorded in one of the mythology of the Sumerian and Akkadian civilizations. He tends to be viewed as the creator of humanity, a lord of wisdom and the soul, and as a rather mischievous deity. Enki was said to have resided in the deep primeval waters of the Abzu since before the creation of humans. Some people in this day and age believe that Enki is the original deity behind either Satan or Lucifer, often linking him with the serpent who persuaded Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

History

Enki was originally the patron deity of the Sumerian city of Eridu, a place often argued to be the oldest city in all of Sumer and still considered by some to be the oldest city in the world. Eridu was also considered to be the home of Enki and his temple, known as E-abzu (the house of Abzu). According the Sumerian Kings List, Eridu was the first city to which kingship was bestowed on earth, meaning that it was the first city of the kings, and in Sumerian mythology Eridu was not only the first city but it was built by the gods themselves and is also believed to be one of the first five cities built before the occurrence of a great deluge. Eridu would have much the same reputation in Babylon, where Eridu was believed to have been established by the deity Marduk as the first city. Eventually, Enki went from the local deity of Eridu to being one of the most powerful deities in the Sumerian pantheon and found himself in a triad of powerful deities consisting of Enki, Anu (a sky deity), and Enlil (a deity of wind and storms).

As the creator of humans, Enki had originally intended to create humans to work for the gods, specifically to supply them their food. But Enlil wanted to destroy the humans because he felt they made too much noise and prevented him from sleeping. Enlil sent disease and famine against mankind, but Enki found ways to prevent the total destruction of mankind. This lead Enlil to try and destroy mankind by flooding the world, but Enki had a human named Ziusudra build a boat in order to save himself, along with his family and livestock, from the flood sent by Enlil. After foiling Enlil’s attempts to destroy mankind, Enki and the other gods institute measures to control the population of mankind.

For the Sumerians, everything was ruled by a principle of cosmic order referred to as Me, and the rules of the universe were contained in a tablet known as the Tablet of Destinies. Enki was the deity who incarnated the principle of Me, and in one poem it is said that he created the Tablet of Destinies. One myth also shows Enki as having established the boundaries between nations and assigning all the other gods their roles. However, Enki has often been shown to lose control of this principle and the tablet that embodies it. In one instance, the goddess Inanna visits Enki for a feast and gets Enki drunk, and manages to take the tablet from him. When Enki returned to sobriety, he asked his servant for the Tablet of Destinies and realized that it had been lost. Inanna had taken the tablet to the city of Uruk (where she was a patron deity), and with it the principle of cosmic order and the gift of civilization, culture, and knowledge. Because of this, Eridu lost its prominence and the seat of power moved to Uruk, and presumably Inanna became much more popular from there. In another myth, the tablet is stolen by a lion-faced eagle named Anzu, and the hero Ninurta to retrieved it from Anzu. But Ninurta decided to keep the tablet, though Enki thwarted Ninurta’s ambitions by creating a turtle to drag him into a pit, and eventually the tablet was returned to Enki.

In Babylon and Akkad, Enki was known as Ea and was revered as the lord of ritual purification, sorcery, magic, and incantation. He was the favorite deity of diviners, exorcists, and sorcerers, and was hailed as the source of all ritual knowledge used to expel and avert the presence of evil; because of this, Ea was invoked in prayers for successful divination and the protection of kings. Ea was also considered an adviser to kings, a clever mediator capable of deviousness and cunning, and the patron of civilization and the arts and crafts. In Akkad, Ea was the father of the deity Marduk, who would later slay Tiamat and aid the establishment of civilization by the gods. However, as national deity and king of the gods, Marduk exceeded Enki in terms of importance. Eventually, the spells that removed evil invoked not merely Ea, but also Marduk and a solar deity named Shamash: Ea would provide the spell, but Marduk would oversee its implementation and Shamash would provide purification.

After the decline of Babylon and the rise of Semitic monotheism, Enki and the other Mesopotamian deities fell into decline and became obscured by the cult of Yahweh. But, in modern times, some have equated Enki with Satan and the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Particularly, a group of known as Joy of Satan who believe that Satan was in fact the Sumerian deity Enki, who they believe created humanity with the goal of having them ascend to godhood.A lot of it tends to be based on the reputation that Enki was a serpent deity, or a deity associated with serpents. In fact, Enki was originally associated with the fish, often depicted as being surrounded by streams with fish swimming in them. However, he was also associated with another animal: the goat. While the goat was also connected with Satan in medieval Christian lore, and later the world occultism and Satanism, the connection seems purely superficial. On a related note, the fish and the goat are the same animals that, combined, form the astrological sign of Capricorn. Then goat-fish was a symbol that appeared in Sumerian lore, and was associated with Enki. The serpent on the tree was probably lifted from either the deity Ningizzida, or the story of Gilgamesh’s quest for immortality, which was foiled by a serpent eating the fruit of immortality and gaining the power to shed its skin. The same serpent was purported to lead the first humans to knowledge of good and evil, but Enki did not do this. When Inanna stole the Tablet of Destinies, she brought knowledge of the divine order to the humans in the city of Uruk, meaning that it was her who brought knowledge to humans, rather than Enki who led the first humans to it. There was a tree that bore fruit in a place called Dilumn, a paradisaical abode that was inhabited by Enki and his wife Ninhursag. But that fruit contained Enki’s semen, and it wasn’t eaten by a proto-Adam and proto-Eve, but Enki himself, against the advice of Isimud. When he ate the forbidden fruit, and forbidden flowers, his wife cursed him and his body became injured. Ninhursag later gave birth to eight new goddesses to heal Enkis body, at the behest of Enlil, and one of these goddesses was Ninti, the lady of the rib, who became equated with Eve.

As far as Enki’s primary role is concerned, he is likely closer to Yahweh than Satan, or Lucifer for that matter. Some might say Enki corresponds to Satan because he resists the destruction headed for mankind via the deluge. But Enki does so by telling a human to build a boat to shelter from the flood, which is what Yahweh told Noah to do. Remember? But aside from that, there’s also little that Enki shares with Yahweh, at least compared to Anu or even Enlil, but Enlil doesn’t easily fit either. In a way, all three share characteristics and certain actions with Yahweh, but only on a small level. As another example, there’s a myth where Enki sets about confusing the tongues of humanity, much like Yahweh did in the Bible. Enki was described as changing the speech of Man and bringing contention into a once united Sumer, much like how the Bible describes humans as being united by a single language until Yahweh intervened in response to the construction of the Tower of Babel. Usually, the reason given is a rivalry between Enki and Enlil.

Conclusion

Enki’s role was probably more complex than simply the guy who created mankind and was a wisdom deity. His connection with Satan is pretty much superficial, based only on his connection with the goat, and his connection with Lucifer is by and large non-existent in that Enki and Lucifer simply have nothing to do with each other. It’s important to remember that Lucifer would be interested in the freedom of human beings to think for themselves individually, while Enki’s reason for creating humans was so that they could be the slaves who did work for the gods, and I doubt he intended to enlighten them in the way Lucifer would. And since Enki incarnated the principle of cosmic order and laws, it’s more likely Enki would have wanted humanity to follow the order of the gods rather than subvert it or liberate themselves from it, as Satan or Lucifer might. He is definitely closer to Yahweh than Satan or Lucifer, and even then it’s only in small ways. He was not the same as Yahweh any more than he was the same as Satan. The Yahweh we know today was a Canaanite war deity who took on the roles and attributes of other deities (probably including Enki or Ea). Enki generally reminds me more of the Vedic deity Varuna in his connection to both water and the cosmic order. It also seems that Enki fell on hard times and lost his prominence, though perhaps not in the same way Varuna did.

A deity-related update

For the altar space I’ve decided to add two more deities. One is Varuna, the water deity who used to be the supreme deity of Vedic India. The other is Amun-Ra, the sun deity. Varuna’s return may seem odd due to him being the keeper of cosmic order, but the deity himself is interesting, and as a water deity would represent something that would otherwise be ignored and would be flimsy to associate with one of the four deities already in use. Besides, Varuna is actually an interesting deity with an interesting history, and I like it as a water deity with more aspects to it than that. It’s the same with the sun deity Amun-Ra. He’s a sun deity, and I like the sun a lot, and it feels weird that I kind have a sun deity here. I have heard a claim that Ashura was once a sun goddess, but I haven’t found anything corroborating it. Besides that, I like the idea of a solar ram deity nodding to Aries, despite my worries that it could lend astrological ideas too much credit. I also figured that, since all deities follow the new plan, there is no need for Varuna to symbolize my trait of disseminate order, while at the same time, Varuna’s presence need not necessarily derail that plan.

I am confident that Varuna and Amon-Ra’s presence won’t interfere with the theory I have applied to the altar. An even-number of deities, rather than an odd number, surrounding the central flame is still ultimately beneficial to the idea that the deities are symbols, answerable ultimately to the self, the central flame.

Naturally, you can expect new deity pages for Varuna and Amun-Ra.

Altar plans and deity-related downsizing

I have been planning my altar for quite a while, and I have had a breakthrough as to how it is meant to be, which has also led to me changing my perspective on the deities.

The first element is a flame at the center of the altar, which should ideally be contained in a bowl in a manner least likely to create a fire hazard. The central flame is a representation of the will, and its power which I want to evoke and strengthen. The altar itself is supposed to be an orderly vehicle for my spiritual goals, and to receive the power to achieve them. With the flame of the will at its center, there is no real need for deities that impose, or rather disseminate, order (such as Varuna). Saying that, however, Ashura is a deity I think is capable of being associated with order and capable of bringing that order, though this is mostly due to his associations with Ahura Mazda. That said, Ashura is a warlike deity, and as a warlike deity he calls back to the times where war, discord, and unrest led to the rise of heroes who made a name for themselves by fighting to restore order (the Three Kingdoms period in China being a well-known example), and he’s a guardian deity so there’s a lot of potential there.

Getting back on point, the flame also represents the flame of life, which runs through living beings, the flame of intelligence, as in the flame that appears between the horns of the Baphomet, the flame of ambition and drive, the flame of strength and freedom, and the flame of spirit itself, perhaps even of youth. It also calls back to the Pythagorean concept of the central fire, a fire at the center of the cosmos referred to as the “hearth altar of the universe” and the “watch tower of Zeus”, and the sacred fire of the goddess Vesta, which was believed to be the life and soul of Rome itself and fundamental to its survival. It’s as though fire upholds the cosmos and civilization, and so just fire upholds the cosmos, fire should uphold me as my will, and the fire of the altar should help to evoke that power. In mythological terms, the fire should also relate to the fire given to mankind by Prometheus of the Greek tales, and later Azazel of the Watchers who fell from Jehovah’s realm in Hebrew lore, and the fire of being and illumination associated with Lucifer. Thus, the fire can also represent Lucifer as a principle in the Luciferian sense. The thing is, in Luciferianism, Lucifer is not exactly supposed to be worshiped in the way that you’d be expected to worship Jehovah, Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, Zeus, or pretty much all deities and their prophets in the conventional sense. Instead, Lucifer is a more of a symbol or a role model, in a way like how Jesus and the Buddha have become role models for people in the mainstream current. Much like how Buddhists seek selflessness by following the model of Siddhartha Gautama, or how the Bible taught that Christians were meant to follow the example of Jesus, Luciferians like myself seek to advance ourselves, pursue our dreams and desires, and maximize our freedom, the strength of the will, and control over our own lives and destiny with the example of Lucifer in our minds and souls. Instead of worshipping Lucifer, a Luciferian tries to achieve what Lucifer represents, and that’s one of the important things the flame represents. Among other details for the altar include a hexagram cloth representing an orderly cosmos with small candles on each of the six points, the upside down pentagram within the hexagram representing the path of selfhood (the self creating its own order, just like with the flame), and Chinese dragons flanking the central flame (meant to complement the flame itself, provide an Oriental touch to the altar, and refer to dragons as divine symbols of power, energy, and good fortune).

Now for my plans for deities. I like the concept of deities as archetypes and symbols, and I always have. But the way I have done things in the past, and the way I have just left things, it feels like deities risk having too large a role, especially when I have deities representing every portion of my personality. I feel this narrative was fine at earlier points (or more or less during my time in art college), but I don’t feel it got practiced and I often forgot to do so. My concern is that this is because it was generally too much baggage, especially when it’s accompanying a belief system where the primary focus is the self, rather than the deities as abstract beings. It’s also especially a problem when I tried to accommodate some kind of primordial force, and then attached that to a deity or being, such as Shiva, Shakti, or Satan/Beelzebub. It’s kind of problematic because it might accidentally lend to the notion of a supreme deity, which is very problematic, and I guess you could say to the point of being an oxymoron, if your belief system centers on the self. In other words, having a primordial force represented by a deity and relating it to myself just seems strange, and there’s little point in doing so if you believe you are your own god, the force primarily responsible for your life. Because of this, while I feel I should still have deities in my system, they should have a less central role in things and the arrangement should be simplified.

Before this post has been published, the My Deities page showed eight deities (well nine actually, just that Liberty and Justice are paired). Under my new plans and altar arrangement, this is reduced to four deities. Since the flame is a symbol of the ideals of liberty, Liberty isn’t really that viable as a goddess being already conveyed in flame, so she’s out. The goddess Justice is also a little auxiliary because of the flame of liberty. Besides, liberty and justice are strong enough as principles and ideals. The flame also renders Agni as a deity useless, since many things Agni represents are now covered by the flame of the will and of Lucifer. And Guan Di? Well I feel a foolish treating a deity based on a historical person, and I’ve read some of Guan Di’s teachings and they ultimately refer to humans as meant to exist in service of their fellow man, which is a big no-no for Left Hand Path systems. This leaves four deities: Shiva, Ashura, Beelzebub, and the goddess Astaroth (who replaces Dairokuten Maou for lust, mainly because there’s actually little going for him and not much about him to work with). Here, the deities are symbols and archetypes, chosen based on the deities I relate to the most or am most fond of, and they each represent something important. After this post is published, I plan to rewrite the deity pages to include full details about what they represent to me, and their history (though Astaroth will get a whole new page devoted to her), and will not use my paintings on them unless I decide to use new paintings for them. It’ll take a long time for each of the pages, but it’ll be worth it.

I will reveal these details about the deities though, in the meantime. Ashura is a war god and a guardian deity. Shiva was the destroyer in the Hindu trinity, but somehow he’s worked his way up to being the supreme being many Hindu circles (probably the work of popularity). Beelzebub is the lord and ruler of demons. Astaroth (or Ashtaroth) is the goddess of love and lust, originally the goddess Astarte or Ishtar (who was the goddess of love and war). Ashura represents battle, competition, and the warrior’s, but also ethical devotion, the desire to protect, and upholding honor. Shiva represents wilderness, creativity, liberative power, and the ability to harmonize to opposing forces (like creation and destruction). Beelzebub represents the power of the dark, and the fascination for it. And Astaroth represents, well, love and lust. But of course, I intend to put more detail on all that into the deity pages in due time.

My own purposes

I have been encouraged by fellow Satanists to piece together beliefs, magical constructs, deities, ideas, and philosophies (or bits of them) together for my own purposes. In my life this has been difficult to grasp despite how simple it should be.

I have thought about it and felt like, in the past, I was probably a little less open. I kept trying to make sure everything was tightly consistent, so that all the ideas were only one set of ideas or two sets of ideas. Either Asian religions, Satanic ideas, or Western Paganism, all a part of my struggle to reconcile Satanic philosophy and Left Hand Path occultism and the ideas of Asian religions. But since then, new knowledge has changed some of my perceptions of some entities and philosophies, I have even gained insight into ideas and entities that fall outside. There are areas in which I consider myself to have gained a more refined understanding than the past. And if I can bring together various ideas and aesthetics into my practice, spirituality, and spiritual world and spiritual kingdom, as long as it all glues together it might be fine and need not endanger my philosophical paradigm.

If I think about it, this principle is what Shin Megami Tensei is all about. You summon gods and demons to fight alongside you from all manner of different cultures, and you end up interacting with their cultures and mythologies in someway depending on how you relate to the demon. You even deal with ideals and philosophies through the gods and demons. And it’s very open and multicultural about it.

What are my purposes exactly? I guess that would be spiritual experience itself. The experience of things beyond the mundane. The experience of power. To bring things into my own world or spiritual kingdom (like new spiritual experiences). Spiritual affirmation. That’s the most solid idea I have of my purposes. I guess that I can put everything I like to good use, and glue it together. But I’ll need to know more about ritual and altars, and the ways in which they can work.

Religion as magic and gods within the mind

I have been reading about the nature of magic on a blog post via my friend and fellow blogger Sean, and I feel as though an interesting perspective of magic is developing. For starters, the idea that magic is about affecting the internal world to produce changes in the external on, rather than casting effects on the physical world in order to directly effect physical entities and environments like in so many fantasy novels, movies, games, and other media. And, the idea that magic need not be strictly limited to grand rituals, ritualistic texts, and established esoteric symbols. or defined solely by them.

I feel this means that lots of things can be magical, or spells onto themselves, as they influence the internal world, and practically anything can be a ritual if it is designed as such to inspire power and affect the will and the internal world. That said, I feel as though religion or faith can be its own kind of magic. Think about it: faith and religion affect the internal world of the individual. Religion in particular is designed to alter the will of the individual and alter the reality of the individual. If you believe in an afterlife designed for you by another religion with such certainty, you’re probably going to get that afterlife, so be careful what you wish for. I feel I lean closer to the idea that Hinduism and Buddhism have a magical affect aimed at altering the self because they want to change your perception of your self based on their teachings.

Churches themselves can be places of magic contained for religious purposes, or to be house a kind of magic powered by faith to affect the individual will. Has any secular person been to a church to attend Christian ceremonies with family and felt a tension during the ceremonies? I swear that might be a struggle between your will and rites of everyone else, a kind of religious magic trying to take its effect on the non-believing individual. Or how about any temple for that matter? They could house a source (or sources) of power and inspiration for the individual (be that in the form of any gods worshiped in them, the architecture, or the kind of force you feel that draws you in some you).

And what if ideals are a form of magic too? Not only do they have a power for the individual who truly believes in them as they are true to him/her, human history has shown many times how ideals can affect the world in both positive and negative ways and that continues to this day. Through ideals, and the power of ideals, humans have a way to create a world, or shape this world, and perhaps influence people. This might offer an interesting explanation or angle to why I tend to be so interested in ideals and beliefs and their affect on the world of Man.

Another idea that caught on is how what you experience in the mind is real even if it’s not, how every experience that happens to you happens in your mind, and how the experiences still affect the real world. What does this mean for the gods in your mind? Perhaps the archetypes in your mind have a way of influencing you and the external world without being physical gods. Or the gods are a source of power and inspiration for the self.

These are all my guesses and they may not apply in the way that they seem to, but I want to entertain these ideas in the hopes that they stimulate in some way.

Revised prayer/mantra

It had just occurred to me that since the pantheon of symbolic deities has changed, I need to change the prayer to accommodate the changes. Here is the updated prayer:

By the righteous spirit of Guan Di,

the heavenly desire of Dairokuten Maou,

the fearsome will of Asura,

the youthful persevering fire of Agni,

the watery depth of Varuna,

the horned force and dark draw of Beelzebub,

the primeval creativity and destructive force of Shiva,

and the guiding principle of Chaos and freedom,

with Liberty and Justice at my side,

I proclaim my individuality and invoke strength and fire within

So mote it be

Am

One other thing to note. Shakti is not mentioned this time so that I can stick to the deities and guiding principles. I can likely honor Shakti another way. Also, I may start looking into individual prayers for individual deities, rather than solely rely on a single universal prayer.

On the alteration of the pantheon

With my recent personal introspection regarding stubbornness, and the prospect of Chi You being replaced by another deity, another dilemma regarding the pantheon has emerged during the thought process.

You see, I figured Chi You could be replaced with another war or warrior deity, a deity who would represent the warrior’s path and the warrior’s spirit, sticking to your guns, fighting for what you believe in, and commitment to one’s path cutting down the forces of confusion and indecisiveness, but all without representing the quality of self-stifling stubbornness. In a way, that deity would be a deity of righteousness, but the problem with that is that I worry that deity would subsume the role of the deity Ashura Matsuda (composite of Asura and Ahura Mazda). Currently Ashura Matsuda also represents righteousness, but he also represents fire and light, but also will, passion, and in a way the spirit of aggression. The problem is that there might be some conflict between Ashura Matsuda and the new warrior deity especially depending the chosen deity. Given the warrior deity’s association with righteousness, I estimate that Ashura Matsuda’s role would be compromised significantly as a deity of righteousness, and would change from that role to being the spirit of aggression. If the warrior deity was also associated with fire, then I estimate Ashura Matsuda would have exit the pantheon entirely, perhaps replaced by a sun god (possibly Amon/Amun-Ra), unless that warrior deity was not associated with light. If the warrior deity was associated with the sun (which might be likely due to the association of the sun with righteousness), Ashura Matsuda’s role would be compromised, as many of the qualities associated with Ashura Matsuda would be inadequate alone for him and the qualities associated with him would also be occupied by another fire deity. Then there’s the question of what if Ashura Matsuda took the role of the warrior deity? I don’t know what would happen afterwards. If Kartikeya took the role, that would be pretty awkward considering that his chief spot is the deity representing the spirit of youth (unless Agni appears in the pantheon, which is unlikely).

On the other side of this, however, not all changes involve removal or replacement. In fact, I feel that the role of at least two deities would expand. Shiva, for instance, would assume an additional role suited to his traditional capacity as the destroyer. He would represent the thrill of destruction, which would also include the thrill of destroying wasteful clutter in a shredder of a fire to create space. He would also represent the destruction of panic, stress, emotional clutter, fear, and similar things to create space for serenity, positivity, harmony, and peace of mind. I also speculate that Beelzebub might have a larger role in the pantheon in his capacity as Satan himself or devil par excellence, symbol of not merely the forces of the occult and darkness but the grand symbol of my affiliation with the Left Hand Path as a morally right path for me, and the associated spirituality of freedom and the philosophy of Chaos, a la the Shin Megami Tensei series of games.

In the end, I am not yet certain. However, once the decision is made, a new post will be published about it, a new prayer or prayers will be made, and the pages about the deities on this site will be updated accordingly.