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The Sumerian 'Orion Mystery'

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posted on Nov, 2 2013 @ 11:37 AM
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 Universe...

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 pap-sukkal sukkal da-nim u Inin - The Constellation "True Shepherd of Anu" is Papsukkal, the vizier of Anu and Inanna

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, 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 the 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)

posted on Nov, 2 2013 @ 11:38 AM
The parents of Ninsubur would have been Enlil and Ninlil, when he was exiled to the Netherworld for bad behaviour toward Ninlil, a Goddess of the wind, and it's in that darkness Nin-subur would have been born, as was Ninurta, her brother and God of war, hence her martial qualitites, she was however seemingly left behind until raised to be the servant of Anu and then Inanna.

This can be understood from the Hymn to Ninsubur in which she takes to the air like her Mother, as a daughter of the wind, her symbolic bird being the Francolin known as Ka-ka, normally seen as a walking bird but one quite capable of flight, she could take the Throne of Enil and Ninlil as their daughter.

Servant, as you took your seat on the lofty dais, Ninšubur, as you took your seat, as you took your seat on the dais like Father Enlil, as you took your seat like Enlil and Ninlil, (you said ) "I, like my mother, I, Ka-ka, will ride high in joy like my mother! I, Ninšubur I, Ka-ka, will ride high in joy like my mother."

My faithful minister of the E-ana, my Ninšubur of the E-ana, (you said ) "I, the august minister of the universe, I, Ninšubur of the universe, the faithful minister of the Anuna gods, Ninšubur of the Anuna gods, the faithful minister, Ninšubur, the personal god of the Land, the faithful minister, Ninšubur, the mother of the Land, I will ride high in joy."

Hymn to Nin-Subur B

If there are three dots that Nin-subur as Orion joins it as those seen in the colours of the Francolin Partridge, the colours of choice of the Anuna Gods as seen on their robes, black representing the underworld, red the terrestrial, and white the celestial, the speckles of which as seen on the Ka-ka bird were perhaps seen as the stars of the Heavens.

The linkage then being that Nin-subur was conceived in the Black nether regions, raised to the red Earth as the intermediary, in a sense then the channeling of the Cosmic Spirits, which contemporary popular tradition reflects.

It is probably the case that the Mandaean tradition of the Holy Spirit, Ruha d-Qudshu owes a great deal to the Hellenistic revival at Uruk of Ama-sag-nu-di, as a Maternal spirit of the Earth that had been brought up from the Netherworld were she had no knowledge of her Celestial lineage but was promised this would be revealed toward her redemption.

Mysterious Mandaeans

The survival of the tradition of an all powerful female warrior associated with Orion on the Arabian peninsula perhaps owes much to the strong association with Enlil as a High God of the air and wind and that of Allah, that the memory of his daughter still lingered there.

The Sumerian mystery then regarding Orion is of the shadowy figure from the Underworld, that was raised to great heights and responsibilities by Anu in his service, that guarded the gates of the horizon in her capacity of intermediary, she was also known as UL-GI, 'the Black Star', in the sense of Venus as Morning star unseen throughout the day.

Nin-subur (Franz Wiggerman)

Theology in Seleucid Uruk

posted on Nov, 2 2013 @ 11:42 AM
reply to post by Kantzveldt

I have a vague memory of a Hittite clay tab impression that was recovered in the late 19th century that was later identified as an Orion-based image on one of their clay tablets.

I ran this on Google to see if I could find a ref but got nothing exactly as I recall but... Hittite history seems to be confined. Just an opinion.

Anyway... thought I'd make mention.
edit on 2-11-2013 by redoubt because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 2 2013 @ 12:06 PM
reply to post by redoubt

Pap-sukkal was originally the servant of the war God Zababa, this did develop a Hittite counterpart.

The war god also appears, though his Hittite name is concealed behind the logogram ZABABA, the name of the Mesopotamian war god. His Hattian name was Wurunkatti, his Hurrian counterpart Hesui. His Hattian name meant “king of the land.”

Anatolian Religion...Zababa

Zababa warrior God

edit on 2-11-2013 by Kantzveldt because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 2 2013 @ 12:11 PM
reply to post by Kantzveldt

Pap-sukkal was originally the servant of the war God Zababa, this did develop a Hittite counterpart.

Thanks for the links!

posted on Nov, 2 2013 @ 12:57 PM
reply to post by Kantzveldt

Very interesting and thought provoking. Great post!

posted on Nov, 2 2013 @ 01:13 PM
You are my Nin-Subur, Kantzveldt.

Another fantastic thread!

edit on 2-11-2013 by The GUT because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 2 2013 @ 01:14 PM
nice OP...... you present a very exotic & elegant story of the Primal 'Hunter'...from very early civilization

many cultures and civilizations made their own narrative of the constellation 'Hunter' or Orion

stylized with the 3 spaced 'dots' as a code for the initiated

i have the kind of mind that see's the 'Hunter' as more an Archtype of the Collective Conscious of humanity

Collective Consciousness | Bringing all together and togetherness to ...

Collective Consciousness is about the oneness of all that is above as it is below...

i further think the movie series about "Predator" is the outgrowth of that mythology

is an alien visitation and Safari an actuality or is the skyward 'Hunter' just a myth that has gotten too much embellishment?

i am a creature grounded in the Earthly Level...
but kudos to your tapestry
edit on 2-11-2013 by St Udio because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 2 2013 @ 01:46 PM
reply to post by Kantzveldt

I have a problem when it comes to your threads.

I find myself giving you a star and flag before I begin the read.......

It just saves me having to scroll back to the top to do so.


edit on 2-11-2013 by Sublimecraft because:

posted on Nov, 2 2013 @ 01:54 PM
reply to post by Kantzveldt

Dense, thick and meaty! Always a pleasure. S&F for you, Sir.

Very good read.

posted on Nov, 2 2013 @ 02:36 PM
reply to post by St Udio

Takes on Orion can differ across wide spread cultures, but the Egyptian pre-Dynastic version that prevailed until toward the end of the Old Kingdom makes for a good comparative, in that the constellation was represented by Sokar, the night time falcon of the Underworld, counterpart to the Horus falcon that ruled by day.

This was a God of the necropolis and of regeneration from the Earth, associate with the mound of first creation. Given the constellations low position in the Southern skies and seasonal period of invisibility beneath the horizon, in late October into November it had connotations with death and rebirth, an essentially chthonic Deity.

Nin-subur also then has that essential nature of underworld emergence, probably having also been conceived there, and also at some point was also understood as having a God of Death as her consort, similar to Nergal, who also represented the Sun within the Underworld.

The Doctrine of an all pervasive spirit, 'Ruha', emegent from the Underworld to an intermediate role upon the Earth is found in Mandaean tradition, which as i mentioned probably developed from Late Period Uruk and the cult of Ama-sag-nu-di.

A rehabilitation of Spirit Ruha

reply to post by The GUT

A lot of work for a minor Deity born in the nether regions, breeding sheepies, providing the seed for cultivation, fighting off the odd Demonic invasion, getting Inanna out of scrapes, making sure everyone was happy, people and Anuna Gods alike, and still finding time to run the Universe...

Thanks for the kind replies everyone, much appreciated...
edit on 2-11-2013 by Kantzveldt because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 2 2013 @ 05:13 PM


posted on Nov, 3 2013 @ 05:04 AM
I think that Orion perhaps needs to be seen in context up in the sky, as it is placed above the constellation Lepus The Hare and next to the huge constellation Argo the boat. I think it especially hard to make sense of the past writings and thinking unless one looks at the whole that they were looking at and not just one isolated part.

Also one has to include our planets and the significance of something like Venus rising made to the calendar for these ancient peoples and the Goddesses associated with that planet and their different roles.

The Sumerians, Egyptians, Akkadians and Babylonians seem to have shared similar ideals although with different cultural names for their Gods, demi Gods and Heros, also the Chinese and Indians seem to have held similar ideals.

Just going back to the idea of the light and dark Goddessess I noticed that Isis is considered the goddess of Light whilst her sister Nephthys is considered as the dark Goddess. As one of my hobbies is astrology I tend to think of duality a bit with the contrasts that throws up eg Sag is the horse etc but it has a face and an ar-e and can present that end if debilitated, as indeed can all the planets, Gods and Goddesses etc.

I am getting over an operation and have been reading Temple's The Sirius Mystery, which covers a lot about Orion. Until I saw this post I was quietly chewing my way through as I find the book somewhat long-winded and one needs to sieve through it to find its gems. I only have another 130 pages to go and if I find anything interesting referring to Orion I will put it up.

posted on Nov, 3 2013 @ 05:56 AM
reply to post by Shiloh7

I think in terms of relative position the importance of Orion was that when the constellation is due South and upright this is the counterpart to the Sun in the Underworld at the mid-night hour, the point of judgement and transition toward the light and rebirth from darkness.It was for that reason that Sokar the falcon of the night was represented by the constellation.

There were also major rituals associate with the constellation Orion entering into invisibility.

Onions of Sokar

Sokar Complex of Sety I

Worth pointing out that all Old Kingdom necropoli were sacred to Sokar, including Rostau/Giza and it's big three.

edit on 3-11-2013 by Kantzveldt because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 4 2013 @ 05:02 AM
Looking a little more at the Underworld aspect of the Sun in Sumeria, as represented by Nergal, the correspondence with Sokar is very clear.

The Underworld is governed by children of Enlil and Ninlil as they have the associations with the wind, spirit, the ethereal. Ninsubur also see's that everything runs smoothly in the afterlife.

n accordance with destiny you determine fates with him, Nergal!" Ninsubur, the minister of the great place, the underworld, greeted Nergal: "You are the lord who has made the bandits come forth (?) from the mountains. As with Enlil ......, no part of a foreign land escapes your grasp. Hero, for Enlil you piled up Enlil's enemies (?) in a single day. Hating ......, Nergal, ...... as fire, you rise up in the lands where the sun rises."

Hymn to Nergal B

Lord Nergal was given the underworld, the E-meslam …… by Enlil and Ninlil. They made him the greatlord of the netherworld ….

To see that the netherworld where the sun sets, where there is no light, is entrusted to Biti, to prolong thelife of the black-headed people of Sumer where the divine powers are utterly cleansed, to fill their life withhappiness, to make them reach an old age, to see that after their death they gather to the place where one iscalled by his personal god (i.e., to the place of death), to the netherworld, and to see that the precious andlasting cultic ordinances are performed befitting the netherworld, Nergal, the king of sunset, was entrusted by Enlil and Ninlil. Because of this they gave him the underworld where the numerous perished people …… as a dwelling place.

Hymns to Ninisina and Nergal

There appears to be a connection between Nergal and Shamash. It has indeed been argued that the Mesopotamians saw them as alter-egos (Porada 1948, 47; von Weiher 1971, 26, 31), Nergal governing the underworld and Shamash the sky. Not only do they share the same posture, but Nergal, or at least his lion-mace or lion-sickle, co-occurs on nearly 20 per cent of seals showing Shamash from southern Mesopotamia, and on as many as 33 per cent of those from Tell Harmal (Werr 1988). In addition, Nergal and Shamash are the two deities who are depicted in association with the nude priest with the sprinkler in 81 per cent of the seals.

The symbols of Nergal are also associated with both Ninurta and Ishtar...

posted on Nov, 4 2013 @ 02:00 PM

It was due to these maternal qualities that in later periods Pap-sukkal took himself a consort, 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...!!!

edit on 2-11-2013 by Kantzveldt because: (no reason given)

Sometimes I think she is called Isobel. When you are in charge of controlling the universe who else would you marry but yourself?

posted on Nov, 4 2013 @ 03:50 PM
reply to post by florentb

I can send you a PM but this is not for typical Chatting or off-topic discussions. While I suggest reading here if you have not already about the Terms and Conditions

If you want to send me a personal message click the little green person at the bottom left of my avatar and then click send message.

posted on Nov, 4 2013 @ 04:41 PM
reply to post by abeverage

That's not what the wind thinks...

posted on Nov, 4 2013 @ 11:41 PM
Awesome post! Very interesting and really something to see other cultures and beliefs on certain star groups, like in my own pitiful peoples myths and stories, we too have names for stars, planets.
Orion star group is referred to Įčorúšika (Wears Human Heads on His Earlobes) and his brothers.

posted on Nov, 5 2013 @ 04:57 AM
reply to post by chachonee

I have looked previously at Native American cultures that symbolized Orion as the eye in the hand, also a very common Near Eastern symbol.

Southern Death Cult

I did consider in these that the related bird symbolism, whether Falcon or Francolin, could refer to the Orion nebula.

All Seeing Eye

What you mention though i haven't looked at, so you'll have to tell me more...

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