Don’t You Forget About Your Friend Death

Originally published in Peacock Goat Review Vol. 1 No. 4


This is likely going to be the hardest article I’ll ever write. I chose the topic at the beginning of the month. Neptune began its transit into Sextile Natal Uranus in my chart and I suddenly found myself profoundly interested in unordinary states of consciousness. This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself looking into this topic but this time it took a turn I wasn’t expecting. For a good week or so I listened to nothing but Terence McKenna lectures. There are two which really stood out to me; one where he talked about sharing DMT with shamans and their reaction to it and the beings which Terrence named the machine elves, and also one concerning the topic of insanity. These two lectures became the catalyst for the line of thinking that ultimately ballooned out into this article. I realized that his description of the DMT experience has some interesting parallels with Gilgamesh’s descent into the netherworld from Mesopotamian mythology and I decided I was going to make this the topic of my article. However, I had no idea just how personal this topic was about to become.

    The title of this article comes from a song by the band Ghost entitled Pro Memoria. In many ways, death has become a near constant companion in my life over the past 3 years and in a lot of ways my magical path has been created and shaped by it. April 1st, 2015; that date will forever be stained with the emotional scars it left on my life. That was the day my mother died and my world was changed forever. My mother and I never had an ideal relationship. She was a Christian fundamentalist and I was born a rebel. We were both equally stubborn and single-minded and this meant we often argued. It isn’t incorrect to say that a large portion of my childhood was shaped primarily by this adversarial relationship. I saw myself as being a catalyst for everything she was against. In some ways that proved more true that either of us could know. Still; despite all this she was also my anchor. When I needed advice, she was there. When I needed help, she was there. When I just needed a shoulder to cry on; she was there…until she wasn’t. It was a long, slow path down that road.

She had been battling cancer for something around seven years before she finally met the hooded skeleton in the road and that time was like a slow rollercoaster ride into hell. Every time it seemed like she was almost cured and the cancer stopped showing up on screenings; it would come back and shatter our hopes and dreams again. It was like it was taking some kind of sick pleasure in messing with our expectations. Then one day I visited my mother in the hospital. I generally tried to avoid going to the hospital; seeing my mother all hooked up to machines and such was something I had a hard time handling. Partially because I’ve always been incredibly squeamish, and partially because I wasn’t ready to face the cold reality of my mother’s mortality. For whatever reason I made a point of going and I’m glad I did because the conversation we had is something that I will forever hold in my heart and all the sour and bitter notes it carries with it.

That day my mother had had another surgery. She’d had many by this point and every time they told us it was life or death but every time she had pulled through so it had become rather routine. I came into the hospital room and found my childhood friend there visiting with her too. We talked a bit and caught up some and after awhile she went home and it was just my mother and I in that room. I still remember all the details like it was yesterday. The horrible beeping of the heart monitor. The wind on the huge glass windows at the side of the room. The cars that passed on the street below as you looked out it, the disquieting dull panic from the hallway outside as nurses rushed from one patient to the next.

I still remember the voice of the nurse that brought my mom her last real meal. I didn’t see her face as I was busy staring out the window. I don’t like looking into people’s faces under good circumstances but she was also there to tend to the equipment that was hooked to the machine. She had a cheerful attitude and tried to mask her emotions but something in the waver in her voice told me what I and I think my mother already knew; the surgery had failed and this was it, cancer had won.

We didn’t know right away and in that time while my mom was eating that crummy hospital food that would ultimately be the last thing she ever tasted (Why do they make hospital food so horrible? Shouldn’t people’s last meals be something pleasant?) we had a conversation that would serve as a kind of bookend to this chapter of my life. She told me she wasn’t afraid to die but that she didn’t want to leave my sister and I behind. It was a hard conversation to have and I wanted to ask so much more; I wanted to know so much more but it broke me and I left somewhat prematurely soon after.

While this wasn’t the last time I spoke with her, it was the last time I really felt like she was my mother. After that, she was there but fading and it was like she wasn’t the same person anymore; like her soul was slowly leaking out of her body until there was nothing left and she lost consciousness. Then like the slow changeover of fall into winter which only becomes obvious at the first snowfall I didn’t have a mother anymore.

Since then I’ve lost both of my maternal grandparents, I’ve lost my great uncle who in many ways was like a third grandfather to me, another uncle and I’ve lost both of my paternal grandparents. My grandfather’s funeral was six days ago as of the writing of this article.

I took up the mantle of writing about death and like clockwork death raised her ugly hand and took another one. At my grandfather’s funeral my uncle-in-law told me something that’s echoed in my mind ever since he told me.

“He chose this, in a way.”

In ways I can’t even begin to describe coherently this one seemingly simple statement has turned into both the biggest weight on my recovery from this grief and also the catalyst for everything I’ve slowly come to realize over these past two weeks:

I’m slowly becoming a faceless ghost in reverse; and it’s making me wise.

In the Sumerian religion, one way someone becomes a faceless ghost is for them to be buried improperly and their living relatives forget them. Sumer was a society that placed a great deal of importance on ancestor worship. Giving food and drink offerings to your dead ancestors was seen as a way to honor them and give them a more pleasant time in the netherworld. The city of the dead was a rather unpleasant place where they are given “clay for food and dust for drink”, a description given often in myths concerning the land of the dead. In the Sumerian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu, Gilgamesh’s constant companion, enters the underworld on his behalf in order to retrieve something that was lost. When he returns Gilgamesh asks him about the fates of the various people who live there.

Lines 266-267

“Did you see him who had seven sons?”

“I saw him.”

“How does he fare?”

“As a companion of the gods, he sits on a throne and listens to judgements.”

Lines 292-293

“Did you see the spirit of him who has no funerary offerings?”

“I saw him.”

“How does he fare?”

“He eats the scraps and the crumbs…tossed out in the street.”

By this account my grandfather is like him who had seven sons and he is likely sitting on a throne right now listening to judgements as a companion of the gods.

In any case, I find myself slowly becoming like him who has no funerary offerings; one by one I’m finding myself all alone in this world. I’m becoming faceless. I am becoming no face. I am slowly becoming like a forgotten ancestor in reverse; not as one of the dead but as one of the living. In many ways this has been the realization of my greatest fear, but it has given me the gift of perspective. If there’s one solace in becoming death’s friend, it is that you stop fearing her. I know now that when she arrives to cart me off into the land of the dead I can go with her gladly.

Still beyond that, it has given me the gift of being able to stare at her face as my own. Early in my magical path I had an experience. I gazed into a darkened bathroom mirror and like a scrying surface it showed me what was hidden only instead of seeing a spirit or some hidden phantom I saw myself as a corpse; as the undead visage of death herself. It is an image forever burned into my memory like some kind of intellectual retinal scarring. It is something I’ve had to integrate into myself in order to move passed. I have become like death. I have destroyed worlds and shattered dreams.

This perspective has emboldened me to probe the depths of the underworld as one who calls it my home and as such I have dug up some very interesting parallels not just between the image of the underworld in the mesopotamian sources and the DMT experience, but also in the image within so many paths throughout the world.

When a person dies, the sumerian sources say that their soul is split into three pieces; the breath of life, the water of life, and the gidim. The breath of life returns to the sky under the domain of the god Enlil and the goddess Ninlil as one of the Lil; wind spirits which are often depicted as birds and can be thought of as sylphs; the spirits of the air.

The water of life…we don’t really know. Unfortunately this part of the text has been lost. Presumably it returns the the Abzu, the underground freshwater spring which also serves as the well of souls. This is my best guess based on the available information.

The gidim is the egoic part of the personality. It could be called the shadow or the shade. It is carried off into the netherworld by the galla demons. Their name literally means “seizer” and they are described as having claws that one can’t easily escape from. For whatever reason I’ve pictured them as looking like the Hopkinsville Goblins though they function not unlike dwarves; the spirits of the deep earth. This is the part of the soul where your consciousness resides and this is the one the Sumerians concerned themselves with when it came to their ideas of the afterlife. They drag your gidim into the underworld through the passage of a giant tunnel which runs so deep you can’t see a light at its end until you are most of the way through it. Gilgamesh only makes it through by passing without stopping so he knows he’s still going the right direction. Once they enter the underworld they must cross a river called the Hubur by catching the ferry which is manned by Si-lu-igi. In the Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh, he is called Urshanabi and he spends his free time collecting an as-of-yet untranslated type of snakes in the forest. This has an interesting parallel within Greek mythology in the river Styx and Kharon, its ferryman. Once across, one enters a kind of waiting area before the gates of the city of the dead. It is here that Gilgamesh meets Utnapishtim, the hero of the Babylonian flood myth, who tells him he can’t go any further as one of the living and tells him his story as a sort of consolation prize to bring back to the world of the living.

This is where Gilgamesh’s descent ends however other mesopotamian myths take this concept further. In the story of Inanna’s descent this is precisely where it picks up. At the gates of the city she meets Neti, the gatekeeper, who she beseeches to allow her entry. He warns her that this is a path from which she cannot return. He is instructed by Ereshkigal, the queen of the underworld, to let her through but to deal with her according to the ancient decree and so he does. At each gate he strips her of one item of clothing and lets her pass. She goes through seven gates and is then presented before Ereshkigal completely naked and she is judged.

This has some very important symbolism with direct parallels in both the DMT experience, in various magical traditions and in occult initiation.

Firstly, Taoism too teaches that at death the 3 parts of the soul separate and go their separate ways. In Taoism it is the Hun “cloud soul”, the Po “white soul” (the ghost) and the yang energy. The Yang energy disperses into the world around. The Hun returns to the heavens. The Po must descend into the underworld and release all of the yin energy it has penned up before it can ascend again and the cycle of life renew.

Beyond that, in Tibetan buddhism, it is taught that at death the soul must face a series of lights and depending on their karma will either be allowed to pass into Buddahood or be reincarnated into one of the six realms or “bardos”. Each stage represents a layer of stripping away of one’s egoic personality.

In the DMT experience as described by Terence McKenna, the experiencer first must breach the threshold of DMT needed to obtain a state called “breakthrough”. Once achieved, they find themselves traveling as if sucked violently through a long tunnel dumping them into a room full of bouncing spirits which has been nicknamed the “waiting room” who are excited to see them and happy to interact and show of neat tricks which Terrence called “machine elves”. For those who’ve followed up to this point you should already start to see strikingly similar geography to Gilgamesh’s descent though in a slightly different order; traveling across a threshold, passing through a tunnel and arriving in a waiting area. Where things get really interesting is when you consider what the shamen told Terence McKenna what they thought the spirits where; ancestors. Where Gilgamesh met Utnapishtim, the ancestor of his people, they met spirits they identified as their ancestors.

So now onto the occult significance. Firstly, Gilgamesh must first descend into the underworld by way of the tunnel. It takes him twelve leagues of walking before he reaches the other side. By the time this version of the story was written, the twelve signs of the zodiac had been settled upon by the Babylonian astrologers. Twelve was a sacred number in Mesopotamian culture at the time. They used a base 60 number system and 12 is one fifth of sixty which was a convenient fraction which is actually the reason our clocks have 12 hours but 60 seconds and 60 minutes. In any case, if we think of this in occult terms then we can think of it as the first astrological year of our initiation. In my case it represented slowly going through a dark night of the soul which only seemed to get darker and more despairing the further I went until I was back in the same sign I started in; Cancer, the most horribly named of the signs, where I met a girl I fell in love with.

Next, when Gilgamesh crossed the Hubur, he had smashed Utnapishtim’s typical mode of transportation so he made Gilgamesh create twelve poles to use to push him across. and think of using the twelve signs of the zodiac to push us along in our journey this starts to make a certain level of symbolic sense. Double this by the idea that we must face the twelve again then this sees a kind of secondary significance as the second year of initiation. We make tools, we use those tools to help us cross to the other side, but ultimately we must leave those tools behind. In my case, it wasn’t a tool I left behind but a person; It meant breaking up with that girl I had fallen in love with because I came to realize the relationship was destroying both of us.

Then we reach the shore and we are met with our ancestors. For me this came in the form of understanding my past and how all these various pieces came together to make me who I am. The circumstances of my birth, my parentage, my family, my heritage, my culture, my upbringing, my natural ideas about the world, my experiences, who I fell in love with, what I was interested in; all of everything that makes up the parts of my identity.

But facing it isn’t enough; we have to let it die. We have to let our ego die in order to pass. You can’t enter the land of the dead as one of the living. For me, it meant giving up everything I had built up around me defining who I was. I had to question everything and everyone I held dear. This ultimately meant leaving that relationship behind. One by one, gate by gate, sphere of initiation after sphere of initiation, I left the pieces of my ego behind me. It’s at these gates, at these spheres, that most people mistakenly think their initiation began, but the process started way before you perform your first ritual. The ritual comes more as an inevitable conclusion of where you’ve been than an actual conscious decision, though you might convince yourself otherwise. At the bottom of this cycle, I found myself naked, without form, faceless, before the incarnation of both death and birth herself, as a formless consciousness at the bottom of a vast abyss.

But death isn’t the end of the book, it’s only the end of the chapter. The next part of the descent of Inanna is that the spirits came, sent by Enki, the goat, lord of the waters of life, (which is also a Sumerian euphamism for semen) and revived her. She was given the tablet of the knowledge of the land of the dead. She understood death, she understood the spirit world. Then she ascended once more and was given her items of clothing back one by one until she emerges fully clothed but with a newfound wisdom gained by her experiences. In the same way, we must reconstruct our egoic consciousness one piece at a time from the inside-out in order to rebuild ourselves into the fully actualized spiritual being we are meant to become.

But like everything that still isn’t the end. Inanna’s story is part of what’s called in mythology a “cycle”. It was represented ritualistically in mesopotamia as a part of the rites for the coming of the seasons. It was repeated in public performances every year as the seasons changed. In the same way too, our cycle continues. One initiation isn’t the end, it’s only the first step on to the next, over and over, climbing the ladder of initiation, of epiphany, of seeing further and further into the heavens, seeing out into eternity. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, but you have to keep walking to go on and when you get to the end, you come back home and start preparations for your next. Stagnation is a fate worse than death. Change is the lingua franca of life itself; perpetual dance.

I’ll end this the same way it began; with the lyrics of a song.

And just consider what we do everyday. Dances. The human dance. The flower dance. The bee dance. The giraffe dance. Do something rhythmic. Dance, sing, play games. There’s a sudden wonderful rhythm. Some people like to knit. Others just like to breathe! Now you see, our very existence is a rhythm. Waking, sleeping, eating, and moving. And that’s all we’re doing! And just consider what we do everyday. What’s it all about? Does it really mean anything, Does it go anywhere? Dances.

~from “Do Something Rhythmic” by Pogo


Sources Cited

Black, Jeremy, et al. The Literature of Ancient Sumer. Oxford University Press, 2004.
Dalley, Stephanie. Myths from Mesopotamia Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others. Oxford University Press, 2008.

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