Archetypal Heritage, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Stars

Originally published in Peacock Goat Review Vol. 1 No. 3


As occultist, magicians and even just as people living in a magical spirit-haunted world, it’s important we understand our cultural heritage. Just where do these things we have come from? If we know where we’ve been, we might have some idea of where we’re going. It’s been said before but much of our pagan mythology comes from star myth. If you’ve done much research into this sort of topic, you likely already know this. However, what you probably don’t realize is just how intrinsically this is connected to our ideas of story, spirits, place and identity.

If you want to understand the mystery of the oldest magical systems we have record of, we must ask ourselves “What is hidden behind the sky?”

My journey began when I was trying to work out what the underlying system was for the Sumerians. I kept trying in vain to map out something akin to the Kabbalah but nothing seemed to fit until I realized the answers were hidden in plain sight.

You see, the stars aren’t just a big game of connect-the-dots that our ancestors played out of boredom, they were a language in themselves. After all, Merlin’s hat wasn’t covered in stars just out of a misplaced fashion sense; they’re intrinsic to truly understanding magic. This goes beyond just astrology; it’s codified into the very nature of why we do things in magic the way we do. After all, what are some of the most basic symbols in magic? The hexagram, pentagram, octagram; they’re all ways to draw stars and have origins in the stars themselves.

The hexagram first appears as one of the variations on the sumerian symbol for a fixed star. At this point in time the number of points is irrelevant for drawing a fixed star. As long as it isn’t the 8-point star of Ishtar or the 4-point plus wavy lines sun glyph, then it’s a symbol for a fixed star.1

Cylinder seal VA 243

Beyond that, Sumerian deity names are always preceded by the Cuneiform sign dingir as an honorific which is also the Cuneiform sign for Star. The sign for constellation is 3 dingir signs in a triangle.

The Cuneiform sign dingir

So where does that leave us? Well Sumerian mythology is ultimately star lore, which is the practice of telling stories using the stars. The best example of this is Inanna and the huluppu tree. In the story, an anzu bird (which likely translates to Golden eagle), a snake and an owl take up residence in a tree that Inanna wishes to have made into a throne and a bed so she enlists the help of Gilgamesh to chase them away and cut the tree for her. If we look at the part of the sky where Scorpio sits, we see the milky way which forms the river, Scorpio’s tail forms the huluppu tree (which probably translates to Palm tree), the adjacent stars around the Western constellation formed a constellation of a man holding a tool in the Mesopotamian star charts, and directly above is the Mesopotamian constellations of the eagle and one of a serpent. To the right is another constellation which looks like a chair and a line which could easily be seen as a bed.

The relevant part of the sky with Western constellations

Not only do they tell the story of the myths visually, but it also connects us to the cycle of the year since different parts of the sky are visible during different seasons. This sort of pattern continues for almost all the world myths as well, not just Sumerian and Greco-Roman. David Warner Mathisen has a great series of books covering this topic in deal entitled Star Myths of the World which I highly recommend to anyone interested in this topic. Gordon White traces the history of this all the way back to the ice age in to book Star.Ships which is an amazing read if you haven’t already picked it up. If you layer those on top of the work of Bernie Taylor in Before Orion: Finding the Face of the Hero things really start getting interesting as we can begin to get a glimpse at some of humanity’s oldest surviving stories, many of which are still being told in some form today.

Add to this understanding the cardinal signs and the modern practice of the LBRP/Calling Quarters and the Sumerian four winds which are depicted as chimeric beings composed of those four signs (Leo, Aquarius, the Eagle form of Scorpio and Taurus) and your magic really starts playing jazz at a cosmic scale!

So where does this leave us? Well for one, it means that the root of the collective forest of stories that gave us the wonderfully spirit and story haunted world of the modern occult traditions has been right above us this entire time. Beyond that though it means that perhaps the most powerful untapped tool in the magicians arsenal has been with us since the dawn of civilization and every one of us has had it since we were children: the heavens themselves.

What am I on about? Well if you’ve kept up with me so far then there’s a major clue in Star.Ships which Gordon seems to gloss over: the pools of water meant to collect starlight. That’s a scrying surface!

Another clue comes from a Sumerian proverb:

“I looked into the water, my destiny was drifting passed.”

Think for a moment of the movement of the stars. As the Earth rotates, the stars do seem to drift passed as they make their way across the sky. So what is this talking about? Possibly the oldest form of magic humanity has ever had and our most direct way of interacting with the gods; scrying with the stars and the night sky! Divination with the cosmos itself!

What is hidden behind the sky?

The stars, the spirits, and us.

Selected advice from an Akkadian father to his son

“Do not set out to stand around in the assembly. Do not loiter where there is a dispute, for in the dispute they will have you as an observer. Then you will be made a witness for them, and they will involve you in a lawsuit to affirm something that does not concern you. In case of a dispute, get away from it, disregard it! If a dispute involving you should flare up, calm it down. A dispute is a covered pit, a wall which can cover over its foes; it brings to mind what one has forgotten and makes an accusation against a man. Do not return evil to your adversary; requite with kindness the one who does evil to you, maintain justice for your enemy, be friendly to your enemy.

Give food to eat, beer to drink, grant what is requested, provide for and treat with honor. At this, one’s god takes pleasure. It is pleasing to Shamash, who will repay him with favor. Do good things, be kind all your days.”

“Do not speak ill, speak only good. Do not say evil things, speak well of people. He who speaks ill and says evil—people will waylay him because of his debt to Shamash. Do not talk too freely, watch what you say. Do not express your innermost thoughts even when you are alone. What you say in haste you may regret later. Exert yourself to restrain your speech.

Worship your god every day. Sacrifice and pious utterance are the proper accompaniment of incense. Have a freewill offering for your god, for this is proper toward a god. Prayer, supplication, and prostration offer him daily, then your prayer will be granted, and you will be in harmony with god.”

Source: http://sapardanis.org/2016/04/24/the-advice-of-an-akkadian-father-to-his-son-2200-bc/

Interrogating Geomancy

Originally published in Peacock Goat Review Vol. 1 No. 2


Geomancy is one of the oldest and most straightforward forms of divination known in the Western magical tradition. For the uninitiated it is a divination system of 16 figures composed of four different rows of either one or two dots. Four figures are generated using some method of randomization, the most popular among modern occultists being either polyhedral dice or my personal favorite, druid sticks. The rest of the figures in the Geomantic reading are then generated using simple mathematical operations, those being rearranging for the first four generated figures and addition followed by parity analyzation for the rest. If you’re interested in learning Geomancy, there are plenty of good books one can pick up on the subject which should be available at any local well stocked occult store. I won’t spend much more time on that as the subject has been covered ad nauseum. However, one topic which I haven’t really seen covered in much detail is the underlying occult philosophy and world view which is suggested by the way that Geomancy is performed. As you will see, I believe if we take the time to really tear Geomancy apart, it will suggest to us more about what might be going on behind the scenes than is immediately apparent from simply using the system itself.

Firstly, for the moment let’s consider the positions in the reading. Each figure in a Geomantic reading has a corresponding aspect of the question at hand which it attempts to describe. If you consider that the first four figures are the only figures in the reading that are not generated strictly mathematically, it’s fair to say these four figures are the most important figures in the reading in terms of divinatory significance. In fact, historically if certain particularly negative figures (namely the figures Rubius and Cauda Draconis) came up as the first figure in a reading, it was immediately halted. So let us take a moment to consider what aspects these figures pertain to. These are (in order) Life, Riches, Brothers, Father. Right out of the gate a pattern has begun to emerge. These four aspects of one’s life all have a particular patriarchal bend. Now initially one might start down the path of considering that Geomancy is at its core misogynistic, however the real answer is much more mundane; it is simply pragmatic. Geomancy is a system which is designed to work. As such, it must work within the system as it exists in the world we live. Like it or not, the world we live in is very much still a very patriarchal society. Despite all the steps that have been taken in society to somewhat mitigate this fact, at the end of the day, your quality of life, your riches, your brothers and your father are still the most significant aspects of determining how your life will play itself out. Given those, it’s pretty easy to begin to suss out what the other aspects of your life might look like. This point aspect does give us a bit of a clue about the worldview that Geomancy emerges from.

Geomantic figures are actually combinations of much simpler figures. The first two rows of a given figure form an element and the second two form another element. These being the four classical alchemical elements; fire, earth, air and water. The first element is the base element of the figure while the second two are the modifying element. When you add these together you get a compound figure. These are the same compound figures that are created by the court cards in the tarot. For example if the top element is air and the bottom element is water, then the figure in question is elementally equivalent to the Queen of Swords.

Note: The figures are also given an astrological interpretation by some occultists, and while this method may well work for someone who understands astrology, it really isn’t useful when interrogating the individual components of a Geomantic figure since the astrological attributions don’t fit 1 to 1 given there are 16 figures but only 12 zodiacal signs which causes an elemental imbalance in the reading, favoring some elements over others.

Each element in a Geomantic figure in turn is formed of two components: the active and passive forces. These are the same active and passive forces of the yin and yang in the I Ching, or the Jachin and Boaz of the Kabbalah. The will and the creatrix (or creative force). By combining different mixes of the two you get different elements. The single-dot line represents the active force and the double-dot line represents the creatrix. However, when you begin interpreting the elements using this understanding, a new pattern starts to emerge which initially seems to run contrary to traditional held occult understandings. Two active lines creates the figure for air. Traditionally double-active would be seen as the element of fire. Double-passive is traditionally water. These being because the Sun was viewed as the double-active force and the moon as double-passive, which controls the tides. So what does this mean? Does this mean the elemental understanding is wrong?

To really understand why this attribution might be the case, we first have to consider the land from which Geomancy emerges. The earliest record we have of Geomancy being used is of Arabic diviners using it in the Middle East. The system was known to have been already very old by this point and it doesn’t have anything particularly Muslim about it, so it’s safe to say we can start looking for a much older origin for the practice. Once we do that, we come to a system that may well be as old as writing itself.

In ancient Mesopotamian mythology, the cosmos was created through the intermixing of the two primordial waters; the Engur, or ocean, and the Abzu, or freshwater. These gave birth to the first two gods, An and Ki. An is the sky god and the father of all of the other gods. Ki is the earth goddess and the mother of all of the other gods. An’s element was air, being a component of the sky. Ki’s element was earth, being a component of the ground. This viewing as the pure active as air and the pure passive as earth perfectly matches the ancient Mesopotamian view of the cosmos.

Going further, the cardinal points, North, South, East and West as well as the four elements were seen in Mesopotamian mythology as being embodied by chimeric figures known as Lamassu and Shedu. Lammasu being the male form and Shedu being female. These were hybrid figures mixing a man, a bull, a lion and an eagle. The four animals being the four cardinal zodiac: Leo, Scorpio (in its eagle form), Taurus and Aquarius. These figures were seen as guardians and protective deities which encompass all life within them. Even further, two were seen as male and two female, which corresponds to the active/passive attribution. The Shedu of Air and Fire are male, while the Lammasu earth and water are female. This is a perfect map for the Geomatic elemental figures which have air and fire both with the first line being a single dot, meaning active, while earth and water have two.

Even further, in the Babylonian creation epic the Enuma Elish, we see another aspect of Geomancy play out; the two halves of the dragon. The dragon’s head and the dragon’s tail are two of the Geomantic figures and which represent polar opposites. The tail represents the end of something and the head the beginning. After a great fight, Marduk, who in this story plays the role of the champion of the gods, slays the primordial dragon Tiamat who is acting as an avatar of the Abzu and cuts her in half. With her tail, he makes the sky, and hear head makes the earth. The sky was seen as heaven, the dwelling place of the gods and the place where the airy part of the soul goes after death do dwell with the atmosphere god Enlil.

So what does this mean for understanding the underlying philosophy of Geomancy and who are the spirits one is consulting when using Geomantic divination? It suggests, though by no means confirms, that Geomancy emerges from a distinctly ancient Mesopotamian worldview and makes use of the cosmology and elements which come from the ancient Mesopotamian magical system. Given the Geomantic figures all ultimately emerge from combinations of underlying elemental motifs and the elements are represented in Mesopotamian mythology by the Lammasu and Shedu figures. So it could be said that when you consult Geomancy, you’re consulting the Lammasu and the Shedu. Most likely, the first two Geomantic figures in the reading being the Lammasu and the second two being Shedu given that the later two are concerning men in your life. All the other parts of the reading flowing from those first few aspects of your life and representing different combinations of the four basic elements guarded by the four cardinal figures.

Image source: Wikipedia

Concerning the Art of Dreaming

Originally published in Peacock Goat Review Vol. 1 No. 1


The following is based on my own understanding of the art of dream interpretation based primarily on my own experiences. Yours may be different. The symbols you see in your dreams are the primary method by which information is transmitted. That’s how you gain new information from your dreamscape; learning to interpret the symbols that arise. In the dream world, which is where all dreaming occurs, things are in a state of pure mind. Your mind populates the landscape, but sometimes your landscape will cross paths with others. When this happens, there may end up being symbols you will be unable to interpret on your own. This is why sharing your dreams with others can be useful.

However, despite what others may tell you, the desire to control your dreams is a fruitless endeavor if you’re trying to learn to interpret them. Learning to control it is such a western imperialist way of approaching dreams anyway. You don’t want your dream to become your slave. While becoming lucid is useful so you can unlearn everything you’ve learned for them to get interesting again. I made that mistake myself. Ultimately the best thing to learn is how to pay more attention in dreams so you can bring back more information into the waking world. In the dream world time moves differently than it does here. Sometimes a minute here will be hours there, sometimes vice versa, and sometimes it will just be one to one. You’ve probably noticed this already. However that relationship isn’t one that’s important. It’s the fact that in the dream world, the future and the past are both happening at the same time in the present. While this might seem counter-intuitive, in my experience this is indeed the truth. What’s more, this means you can learn to pull useful information about the future or past that can help you make better decisions or discover something you didn’t know before. The western ideas of how time works, even physicists admit isn’t correct. Time doesn’t move in a straight line from point A to point B, it can get all weird sometimes. I’ve seen it first-hand, and I think you will too once you start to pull useful information back from your dreams.

A big part of learning how to have a better conversation with your dreams is: First, keeping a dream journal every night, or as close to every night as you can. Next, learning a new library of potent symbols that your subconscious can know intuitively. To that end, learning things like the tarot, runes, magical symbols, the Kabbalah, and studying mythology can help give your mind a richer understanding of your dream symbol landscape. What’s really interesting is that because time is weird, things you will learn in the future can change your understanding of symbols retroactively in the past to fit. That is to say you’re probably dreaming symbols right now that won’t become relevant until the future when you learn them, and they probably don’t even have any relevance to you yet. Where things get really weird is when you dream about an event before it happens. It gets especially weird when it isn’t even symbolic about it. In my experience this is what leads to the feeling of Deja Vu; you dreamed this moment sometime in the past and now you’re living it. I’ve found if you have a detailed enough dream journal, you can often find when it was that you dreamed of that specific moment, and examining that which surrounded that time can lead to additional insight on what’s going on in your life, now that the dream has become reality.

In Ancient Sumer, dream interpretation was serious business. It was seen as a window into the fate that the seven gods who determine fate had decreed for you. For example, in the “Epic of Gilgamesh,” Sisig—god of dreams—sends Gilgamesh a dream, and it is then interpreted to give him useful information about what is to come. He then acts on this knowledge and lets it help guide his actions. Again, in the story “The Dream of Dummuzi,” which is a part of Inanna’s Descent cycle, Dummuzi has a dream warning him that Inanna is coming after him with the galla-demons promoting him to try to run and hide. These are but a few examples of how prominently this aspect appeared in Mesopotamian mythology. It’s clear that they considered dreams a very important way to converse with the gods who controlled fate. This also reveals another important component to bringing about a powerful dialogue with your dreams: acting on what you encounter. It can be something small like writing a song about your dream, or something big like allowing it to effect a major life decision but the important part is you need to act on it. This will start to physicalize your dreams and help bring greater interaction. Why this works, I’m not entirely sure, though it’s been suggested that it serves to let the spirits know you’re paying attention.

Additionally, as you start to pay more attention to your dreams, and begin to keep a better record of them, you may start to notice patterns in what kinds of dreams you get on di erent days. For example, I generally tend to have much more profound and lucid dreams on the night of a full moon or new moon more often than I do on other nights. I also tend to have dreams focused on my spiritual journey on Fridays. I often have dreams about shopping and commerce on Saturday, as well as dreams that play out like an epic adventure. Sundays I tend to have dreams about my family or reunions with people from my past, as well as things I’m passionate about. I also tend to wake up in the middle of the night on Sundays, thinking it’s time to leave before it actually is. Wednesdays, I often have dreams operating entirely on dream logic with things happening that couldn’t happen in real life.

When we consider what the Sumerians thought about time, dreams, and the seven who decree fate, we can start painting a picture about what’s going on. There were seven gods who were associated with each of the days of the week, and who were said to rule each day. In addition, the moon, Sîn / Nanna, was said to rule the night and be in charge of dreaming, and his day was Monday. Sunday was the sun god Utu / Shamash. Tuesday was the god of plagues and intensity Nergal. Wednesday was the god of wisdom, logic and writing Nabū. Thursday was the storm god Enlil (and later, after the rise of his cult in Babylon, Marduk). Saturday was the god of law, the scribal arts, hunting, war, healing, and champion of the gods, Ninurta. Friday was the goddess of wisdom, liminality, and love Inanna / Ishtar.

Considering this, it’s hardly surprising that we would see different kinds of messages often show up on di erent days, and that on nights with a full or new moon we would see really intense symbolic dreams. Now let’s give a couple examples from my dream journal and see what all we can learn from it. l had a strange dream about Role Playing Games, Star Wars, and board games. I also had the flying car Zam Wizel had in Star Wars Episode 2 and was flying away from something, doing fancy tricks to escape. So what was this dream about? Well actually, the answer is interesting: this was a precognitive dream: The scene it describes at the end, which I thought was meant to be from Star Wars I later realized was actually the flying car chase scene from the end of Thor Ragnarok. When I later saw that film and reached that scene I got that familiar feeling of Deja Vu, so I looked back through my dream journal entries and there it was, a dream about the film before I had ever seen it. Funny enough, at the beginning of that scene before the Deja Vu kicked in I remember laughing at how much the flying car reminded me of the one from Star Wars.

Then where does the rest of the dream fall in? Before I decided to sit down and watch that film that day, I first sat down at my table and played a board game by myself. I had hand crafted my own Game of Ur board and was testing out the dice, which are made by hand out of terracotta, making sure the dice weren’t too unbalanced. Sitting next to me on the table was my stu for the roleplaying game Pathfinder and I remember thinking about how much I miss playing it while I was sitting there testing the dice.

Not all dreams are this obvious though. Sometimes the meaning doesn’t become clear until you interpret the symbols that showed up in them.

I dreamed about getting fired from my job (which was still my old one in the dream, though in a skyscraper for some reason) so I invested in a T-Shirt printer and airbrush and discovered I was really good at it and made me happy. I airbrushed a purple eye I called “eye of the dreamer” on a shirt which I was really happy with, and I also made a whole series of shirts with stick figures doing different things, including one holding a staff which looked like an inverted omega which I identified as the caduceus.

This is a dream that is a perfect example of why learning magical symbolism is so important to understanding dreams. For context, just before having this dream, I performed a lunar initiation ritual. With that context it becomes obvious that this dream will likely be full of lunar imagery. Indeed, this is the case.

The first symbol is being fired from a job leading to a rise in creativity. This can be thought of as corresponding to the new moon leading to the waxing phase of the moon. The new moon is the time when the moon is entirely covered in the Earth’s shadow, and the waxing moon is the time where the moon becomes more and more visible each night leading up to the full moon. The lunar initiation sparked a new kind of creativity in me and immediately after the initiation I drew an impressionist style ink pen drawing of Nanna, the Sumerian god of the moon, who is also the god of creativity.

The next symbol was the T-Shirt printer and airbrush. Both are tools for artistic creativity. The lunar sphere is the sphere of appearances, so it makes sense for clothing items to be the focus of the creative efforts in the dream.

The “eye of the dreamer” image has multiple levels of correspondence. First, the eye was purple which is the color of the herb lavender. Lavender is an herb with lunar correspondence and happens to be the herb I used in my lunar initiation ritual. Additionally, the eye has connections to another lunar spirit which I called upon in my initiation, that of the consort of Nanna, Ningal. In Sumerian iconography there is a motif meant as a protective charm called the “eyes of Ningal” which represent the wide-open watchful eyes of the devotee. Finally, the lunar sphere is also the sphere of dreams and dreaming so the title of the piece also has direct lunar correspondence.

The last image was the hardest to work out, but it eventually became clear after I examined the Sumerian Oracle deck cards I used in my ritual more closely. The card for Nanna specifically mentions creativity as being one of his attributes. The caduceus is, among other things, the sta of creativity. Further the inverted omega represents the two snakes from the caduceus as well as the inversion of another Sumerian symbol. One of the symbols of the goddess of Earth, Ninhursag, is the omega, and among the meanings of her card when inverted is again creativity.

As you can see, when you take the time to dissect the symbols in your dreams with an understanding of the magical, astrological, and mythological imagery that can appear, you will soon be able to piece together the full meaning the spirits are trying to convey to you.

May the seven decree a wonderful destiny for you. ~A Sumerian parting wish

Hiya’s from the back!

Hiya I’m new to posting here.

So I thought id make the first one an introduction. My name’s Zoey and been a follower of Inanna roughly a year now. I originally learned of Inanna through Vanessa who handles this site. Of course at first I didn’t think much of it as at the time I was an atheist however shortly after I had a moment where I made a connection with Inanna. After that I had a constant pull towards her and the rest is history you could say.

You can expect me to post periodically though I’m still learning the history and everything. However as Vanessa has informed me after listening to various dreams and ideas I’ve had throughout my life…I’ve apparently been channeling Gnosis through them.

So y’all can expect some random posts from me giving some interesting perspectives on certain subjects as I explore my new found faith.

Zoey

Decolonization of Trans Identity

I choose to decolonize my identity. I’m one of Inanna’s gala (𒍑𒆪). I do not wish to call myself trans any longer. Trans implies transition. It implies changing from one thing to another. I’ve always been gala. Being lied to and denied my true identity doesn’t make that deception true. As such, there’s nothing to transition from. It’s been a process of making this me into the real me. Not transition; correction. Reconstruction into something beautiful, something that was always there just buried under lies and false ideas of what constitutes reality. Stop trying to tell me I’m male-to-female. I was always female. I’ve never been male. That was only lies and deception they put on me. That was never me, that was them. To tell me I was ever male is to lie to my face.
~Vanessa