Everybody seems to enjoy a good Orion Mystery, but when it comes to the Sumerians contributing to the genre they seemingly tend to disappoint, one
reads that in Sumeria the constellation Orion was understood as the 'True Shepherd of Anu', beyond that little else, and that doesn't look much of a
mystery, seemingly no joining of three dots together or channeling of voices from Outer Space.
One can dig a little deeper and discover that more specifically it was the God Pap-Sukkal who from Akkadian times was understood as the constellation
Orion, and that he had replaced the Sumerian Goddess Nin-Subur as this Celestial manifestation, but again that seemingly just suggests confusion or
cultural preference rather than actual mystery.
The constellation then was illustrated as a shepherd with staff, in conjunction with a walking bird, it is this Mesopotamian version which is also
seen at Denderah in Egypt.
To begin to appreciate the nature and extent of the mystery the Sumerians attached to the Orion Constellation however it is to this figure/s and
specialist research that one must look, and the importance and remarkable function they carried, which basically was that of running the
Nin-subur/Pap-sukkal was the vizier (sukkal) or servant (salhub) of Anu, the Highest God, as well as of Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, in effect
as a reflection of them, or in a sense their shadow, the functionary that remains in the background.
nin- subur = pap-sukkal sa da-nim - which literally translates "Nin subur is the Papsukkal (i.e. the vizier) of Anu,"
Dis mul sipa.ziI.An.na pap-sukkal sukkal da-nim u Inin - The Constellation "True Shepherd of Anu" is Papsukkal, the vizier of Anu and
This dual role of representing the interests of Anu and Inanna originates from Uruk, were those were the two principle cults. To appreciate the full
extent of this role the preserved epitaphs need to be considered;
...the servant, who is acquainted with the secrets of An, Ninsubura the chief servant, the shining crown of heaven, the messenger of good
tidings, the goddess who turns what affects me into something good, who loves the directions of An and with out whom Enlil does not give orders
to the great gods
Among the divine viziers Nin-subur is the earliest and most important one, and, unlike the others of her kind, she is related to her masters not
as cause and effect but rather as command and execution; in other words, she owes her importance not to the natural phenomena which her masters
embody, but to the metaphor of the cosmos as a state, she is the "director" of the heavenly estate and the Anuna gods
This then seems a quite clear role and function, but there are complications, in that Nin-subur was also a warrior Goddess, indeed when the Akkadians
selected a male counterpart in Pap-sukkal, this was originally Sukkal to a certain Zababa, a warrior God of Kish, similar in aspect to Ninurta.
Originally the vizier of Anu was the god Ninsubur while Papsukkal, an obscure deity before his rise in the Middle-Babylonian period, was at
home in Kish as a servant in the household of the god Zababa
The warrior aspect was important then, and how this might relate to the constellation Orion, and indeed Inanna refers to Nin-subur as her warrior when
she calls upon her to help save the Mes Tablets she has taken from Enki, and Nin-subur obliges by fighting off the numerous hordes of Demons sent to
recover them, how she came by those qualities is one of the mysteries that needs to be solved, and why she was seemingly seen as the ultimate warrior
quite apart from running the Universe.
In considering a female warrior correspondent with the constellation Orion which can still see lingering tradition even into the Islamic Period from
the Arabian peninsula.
Betelgeuse comes from yad al-jauza (mistranslated originally as bat al jauza) meaning “the hand of the Central One,” referring to a mysterious
and powerful female entity who kneels in the night sky with the Milky Way at her shoulder Rigel comes from the Arabic rijl al-jauza, meaning “the
foot of the Central One.” Belatrix, another star in the constellation, means a fierce female warrior
Before being able to understand her lineage one needs to take into account her other qualities as a tutelary Mother Goddess of the land, this an
important facet as intermediary between the Celestial Powers and humanity;
Lady, good seed of the Land, minister of An! mother Ninsubur! From the interior of heaven, An bestowed upon you , and Enlil destined as your fate,
that you should take a lapis-lazuli sceptre in your hand and proceed in front of An.
As if you were a fecund ewe caring for its lambs, a fecund goat caring for its kids, or a fertile bearing mother caring for her children, through your
powers folds are erected and pens are fenced off. In the folds erected through your powers and in the pens fenced off through your powers
I will soothe hearts, I will soothe spirits. I will appease the Anuna gods, I who am to serve -- I, the tutelary deity, who am to serve, I will make
the young lady, Inana, born in the shining mountains, rejoice. I, the lady, will make her rejoice. I will soothe hearts, I will soothe spirits. I will
appease the Anuna gods This is how the lady celebrated in Akkil.
Hymn to Ninsubur A
It was due to these maternal qualities that in later periods Pap-sukkal took himself a consort, Ama-sag.nu-di that reflected them, this however added
to the confusion in that the scribes noted Pap-sukkal as Nin-subur, and also Ama-sag-nu-di was Nin-subur, she effectively married herself...!!!
The Old-Babylonian Silben vokabular A does associate the female Ninsubur with Amasagnudi: nin-sukkal-an-ka = dama-sag-nu-di
vizier(ess) of An is Amasagnudi.
In all third millennium sources which contain evidence for the gender of Ninsubur, the deity is only female: she is called ama "mother" in Pre
Sargonic and Ur III
The name then translates "the indestructible,immovable mother," or "the mother who doesn't go away.", so even if it meant having to marry herself
she wasn't going anywhere...
But it is these qualities that give best indication as to the origins of Nin-subur which otherwise scholars draw a blank on. Two first millennium
passages gloss NIinsubur with bel er eti
"Lady of the Earth/ netherworld" , an Earth Goddess the "lady of wide seed/offspring"
edit on 2-11-2013 by Kantzveldt because: (no reason given)