Lord of the Deep: Stepping beyond…

When Lord of the Deep was being written, decisions had to be made about which elements of the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh to include, which to leave out altogether and which to adapt to aid the flow of our story. We do not slavishly follow historic texts, as, on a spiritual workshop, it is not the story that matters, so much as the deeper meaning and symbolism it contains.

As Gilgamesh descends, ever-deeper into the dark maze of his own ego, he is guided only by reactions. Believing himself superior to all other men…and possibly the gods too… he cannot see the consequences of his actions, as he has no access to empathy. Can we blame him for this? That is a sticky question. We do not blame water for being wet or the blade for being sharp. Neither can we blame the ego for striving, with every weapon in its arsenal, to protect itself. But that does not make its choices right.

The ego is created from our reactions to everything we have ever experienced. It consists of what we might call useful illusions that allow us to face the world as who we think we are. Gilgamesh is the king of a mighty city-state, a fearsome warrior, incalculably rich and powerful. Why would he question what has brought him such success?

But, just as water can drown and the blade can maim or slay, the ego, when allowed to rule our being, can bring us to ruin…

***

Gilgamesh rages. He is lost in the labyrinthine passages beneath the temple, following the goddess Ishtar, whom he still believes to be Shamhat, the High Priestess who rejected his advances.

Ishtar calls down the Bull of Heaven, crying that when he bellows, the earth will shake. Gilgamesh follows, maddened by anger. The goddess flees, crying that when the Bull of Heaven snorts the earth will open, swallowing all the men-folk… all the women-folk… and all the children. Gilgamesh follows, blind to all but anger. But the goddess has gone… and in her place stands the Bull of Heaven.

“Gilgamesh…” As the Bull of Heaven speaks his name, Gilgamesh brandishes his axe and begins to curse and threaten.  “You have offended the Divine Council., the watchman of the Cedar Forest.” Gilgamesh snarls and advances on the Bull,

“You dare to accuse me?” Hefting the axe, the King attacks the Bull as if cutting through Time itself. The fearsome Bull of Heaven does nothing to defend itself.

“You have slaughtered Huwawa…” it whispers, as it sinks, dying, to its knees. But, as Gilgamesh takes the mask from the face of the Bull, he recognises his brother in arms. He cries out his name…Enkidu!… then buries his head in his hands and sobs.

He has killed the one thing he loved… his own Second Self. Now, at last, Gilgamesh can see where his arrogance and manipulation have led and what his kingship has truly wrought in wall-girt Uruk, where riches and plenty abound…and where, ‘in their beds at night, the young people cry themselves to sleep’.

Colin as the Bull of Heaven… before the unmasking.

 

11 thoughts on “Lord of the Deep: Stepping beyond…

  1. The big question for heroes and anti-heroes is the same: can they be blamed for the things they do, whether great or evil? Is the serial killer mad and does that madness exonerate him from the slaughter? And does the hero who cannot believe he could be wrong be blamed? Is an outside force at work?

    I have come to believe that mad you may be, but you are still responsible for your actions. Because if we cannot blame the murderer for his murders, must we release him to commit further atrocities? Mad? Surely, but also responsible, if if madly so.

    But of course, I could be completely wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think of one of my dogs, a beautiful German Shepherd. She was a guard dog in her own estimation, but as gentle as could be with my baby brother, then a toddler, and Cindy, a dog she had brought back almost from the dead with her care. She was shot with a pellet gun by some boys out playing, and the pellet lodged in her brain. She began to have fits and, when she did so, lashed out with her teeth, becoming very dangerous. When she came round, you could see the fear and pain in her eyes as she checked on everyone. The vet said there was nothing we could do but put her to sleep before there was a tragedy.

      It is a hard question to answer fully and I am not sure we have a deep enough understanding of many of these things at this point in our evolution. My own opinion is similar to yours because we are not inanimate or unthinking objects and have a choice about the harm we commit, even when the problem from which it arises is beyond our control. Therefore the responsibility must be borne by the perpetrator…but perhaps the rest of us need enough compassion to realise that, ‘there but for the grace of god’ could walk any one of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Personal responsibilty. We see this futher ‘up the chain’ now too. There was a time when the power brokers fell on their swords when things in their remit went wrong. Not anymore. Now, they cling to power because there’s always someone, or something, else to blame… It’s never their fault…however culpable they may be… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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