In the Ancient World snakes were renowned for wisdom.
For most westerners they are now associated with both temptation and sin…
As with much else in the Epic of Gilgamesh,
we are treated to a brief, tantalising glimpse of the Old World Wisdom.
May it be sufficient to sustain us…
Our serpent emerges from Beyond the Veil,
and slithers to the Watering-Hole,
where Gilgamesh, ‘The One Who Never Sleeps’, again lies sleeping…
‘The sleeper and the dead, how alike they are!’
So says Utnapishtim, the immortal
who lives in a paradisical garden of ‘jewel-bright’ trees,
at the source of two rivers.
But if sleep and death are so similar, what then is dream?
In his dreamless sleep Gilgamesh still clutches his prize,
the herb of eternal youth, retrieved by him,
from The Deep over which he now considers himself the lord…
As Gilgamesh sleeps,
the snake steals the herb,
sheds its skin,
and then returns,
back Beyond the Veil…
Could anything be clearer?