Lord of the Deep: Taking root

One of the questions people don’t like to ask is whether or not our ritual drama weekends serve any useful purpose. It is all very well coming along to share the fun… and they are always fun… or enjoying a shared experience that is outside the norm for most of us. It is good, too, to meet and work with people from widely different backgrounds and with varied beliefs and approaches to the spiritual journey; the group dynamic augments personal experience, creating something far greater than the sum of its parts, and people also feel less isolated, for the spiritual path can sometimes seem a lonely one to walk.

We use the ancient format of ritualistic drama to open the doors of the mind, letting imagination lead the way to levels of awareness and understanding beyond the surface mind. But does any of what we do ever filter through into everyday life?

We, who organise these weekends, can see the changes in our own lives. On the outer levels, such changes can be rationalised by the growth in confidence that comes with standing up in front of a group to speak, crafting a long and detailed script, and the organising and presenting of a complex workshop. The changes that we have each felt within our own inner lives and attitudes may be profound, but as we are the ones organising these events, anything we can say is of little value to people wondering what benefits, if any, our weekends may offer.

Only those who have attended can paint a true picture of what the events have meant to them, and each person will take away something different. We are lucky in that, after our events, some of the attendees will write of their experiences and allow us to share their stories. Those are the testimonials that matter.

This year, I have been in the unique position of watching at close quarters as some of the seeds sown at the Lord of the Deep weekend took root. My son came along to be our Technician and take care of the music for us and, as such, was better placed than most to simply observe and listen. He came along to the presentations and watched the story of Gilgamesh unfold. Since the workshop, I have been quietly watching as one of the major symbolic themes of the weekend seems to be growing in his life.

During the workshop, the ‘Quest for Immortality’ was approached through two primary avenues. One was the story of Gilgamesh, whose ego sought immortality through the illusions of worldly success. He wished to carve his place in history…which, in spite of everything, he did; his name lives on in the ancient Epic from which we were learning. The other strand concerned the ‘Herb of Immortality’. This part of Gilgamesh’s story was not mentioned until close to the end of the story, yet we had built the symbolism of the Herb into the weekend… depicted as a Tree of Life… right from the very first moments, but without highlighting or explaining any of it.

The temple itself was dressed in reds and orange, with twin Trees as a backdrop, reminiscent of the two Trees of Knowledge and Life in the story of the Garden of Eden. During the welcome session, we had given each of the Companions a wooden bracelet bearing a charm incised with a Tree, telling them that this was their Key to the temple, but with no other explanation. The twin staffs we dressed with the veils representing the colours of life were both natural tree branches, gifted by the trees themselves. The two tokens each Companion carried beyond the Veil bore the images of trees.

Then, in the final ritual, Shiduri, the ale-wife, guides Gilgamesh on his journey to find the Herb. Lorraine, who took the role of Shiduri, also most appropriately, focussed on trees for part of her presentation on the relationship between Man, Nature and Spirit. She spoke from a Druidic perspective, but drew upon the latest scientific research about the consciousness of trees… something we are barely beginning to understand, but which has been part of many sacred and legendary traditions since time immemorial. She also suggested ways we could attune to the life and energy of trees.

My son took little notice of symbolic details, he simply followed the story and was focussed on getting the music right. Trees were not mentioned at all when we discussed the weekend afterwards. But he is having to have his garden ripped out and rebuilt as it has become unsafe for both feet and wheelchair.

The cost of making the garden safe and durable is prohibitive, so all our thoughts are on creating the hard-landscape. Plants…in which my son has absolutely no interest except to look at them… will have to be salvaged from the existing garden, so our now-daily trips to the various local garden centres have all been about aggregates and slabs. Knowing me to be a plant-addict with a very empty garden, he even banned me from looking at anything green and growing… until something caught his eye.

Instructing me to push him through all the plants to this one bit of foliage, he promptly fell in love. It was an acer, a Japanese maple, of a variety named Inabe Shidare, which was close enough to Shiduri for me to take notice straight away. Its red leaves echoed the colours of the temple; it was glorious…and would cost a ‘mere’ six hundred pounds.

Reluctantly leaving the tree behind, we ended up looking at every acer that we could find, in every garden centre and online, from the tiniest bonsai to young saplings. Being slow-growing trees, a sapling would take a very long time to reach the maturity of the huge, potted tree with which he had fallen in love, but gardening and patience go hand in hand.

As this was the first time he had ever evinced any interest in plants, let alone an all-consuming passion, I really wanted to be able to find something. And, on one rain-battered trip to the last garden centre in the area, I spotted a distant patch of red.

A young Inabe Shidare, its slender stem standing six feet tall and beautifully twisted into a spiralling column, wept deep red leaves at the back of a display. A bit of rummaging and I found a price tag… an affordable fraction of the expected price… and it was soon on its way home.

That would have been odd enough, but by next day, my son had not only researched everything about caring for the tree, decided where it would be planted when the garden is done and purchased specific acer food, he was also talking about it as a living being, not ‘just’ a tree. He checked on its well-being continually and even launched himself across the room… bearing in mind he cannot walk unaided… when he heard something outside that made him worry for the tree’s safety.

His passion for this tree spilled over and he began taking notice of the other trees around his garden, which, until now, have been no more than a green backdrop… and from there, the needs of Nature and his own response to them have begun to change the way he sees the world around him, in a quite dramatic fashion.

In the grand scheme, it may seem a small thing perhaps, but something has completely changed one man’s awareness of the natural world and its creatures, opening his mind to a new way of looking at Nature with conscious love and respect.

We cannot know where the motivation came from, what level of mind and heart were awakened to the life of trees, nor where that awakening was born, but it does seem a little ‘coincidental’. And, were the experiences of the weekend to achieve no more than that, I think we could say it had served a useful purpose.

Lord of the Deep: Outrunning the sun

“Can’t stop,” said I, dashing through the corridor. “I’ve got to paint celery…”

“Can you help me with my skin?”

“Sure. I’ll just grab the pins…”

There were a number of puzzled looks, as if to say, ‘she’s finally lost it…’. It had been a hectic weekend… but edibly-gilded celery and a Lycra-clad snake were both required for the final ritual drama, and we’d had a whale of a time coming up with a suitable costume for the skin-shedding serpent that would finally unravel Gilgamesh…

Following the directions of Shiduri, Gilgamesh seeks out Urshanabi, the boatman of Utnapishtim, who is in the forest, trimming cedar boughs. But, she tells him, Gilgamesh must be wary, for Urshanabi is with the Stone Men.

As he enters a clearing in the forest, Gilgamesh hears a voice,

“We are the Stone Men!” The King raises his sword and charges, but before the blow can fall, another speaks. “We are the cold men!” Changing direction, Gilgamesh rushes at the second speaker, but before his raised sword can fall, “How will you cross the Waters of Death with us in your boat?” Another voice turns him from the kill.

“We are easy to destroy. One strike will smash us into smithereens!” And again his blow is halted. “Like you destroyed the Bull of Heaven.” In rage, Gilgamesh tries to strike, but another speaks… “Like you destroyed the Cedar Forest.” Gilgamesh snarls… then the voices in unison stop him in his tracks.

“Would you destroy the ground you walk upon?” And now, at last, he begins to understand what he has done. Reeling with the realisation, he hears yet another voice, that of Urshanabi, the ferryman.

“You cannot cross the Waters of Death with war in your heart…”  Urshanabi holds out his hands for the sword of the King. He tells Gilgamesh that the Waters of Death are not what he believes them to be. They are the Underworld that Shamash, the Sun, traverses every night before his daily rebirth; would Gilgamesh take that path also? Then the King must outrun the Sun that halts for no man.

For nine hours of utter darkness, Gilgamesh ran. With no light to guide him, he passed through the Underworld, the Sun hot on his heels. But when exhausted, he again came into the light, he found himself in the garden of the gods where jewels grow as flowers on the trees and the fruits are of lapis lazuli.

Gilgamesh walked amazed through this paradise until he came face to face with the immortal, Utnapishtim. And, in spite of all, his first thought is for his weapon.

“I was going to fight you, but I gave away my sword…”

Utnapishtim considers Gilgamesh, commenting upon his haggard looks. The King says that he has neither eaten nor slept during his quest. That he has mourned his friend for six days and seven nights ‘until a maggot fell out of his nose’. Utnapishtim asks him what he has achieved by all this, apart from bring himself a day closer to death, and asks if he has ever stopped to compare himself to a fool to whom only the dregs and crusts are given?

Gilgamesh wants only to know the secret of immortality, but Utnapishtim tells how the gods gathered at the end of all things, after the Flood when he had built the great ship called Preserver of Life, to grant eternal life to himself and his wife, Shiduri.

Why should the gods gather for Gilgamesh? How would they know he deserved that grace?

Gilgamesh says he will do anything. Utnapishtim tells him that he must stay awake for seven days and nights…for if he can prevail against sleep, he may also prevail against death. Gilgamesh agrees, but Utnapishtim tells Shiduri that he will try to deceive them when he fails.

The eternal couple watch from afar and, whenever Gilgamesh sleeps, Shiduri bakes a loaf of bread and places it before the King. After seven nights, Gilgamesh lies, trying to convince Utnapishtim that he had not slept. The couple show him the seven loaves, from the freshest to the stalest, and Gilgamesh falls into despair. He sees only Death around him.

Utnapishtim tells him he must leave the garden of the gods, never to return. He orders fine raiment to be brought, as befits a king, to clothe him before he leaves. But Shiduri takes pity on Gilgamesh and entreats her husband to tell him of the Herb of Immortality… a thorny plant that grows in the waters of the Great Deep that will grant its bearer eternal youth.

Tying two stones to his feet, Gilgamesh plunges into the Great Deep to find the Herb and emerges triumphant. But there is no thought of service to his people in his mind. He will, he says, take it back to Wall-Girt Uruk and there he will test its powers on an old man. If it works, he himself will eat the rest and be eternally young!

***

The road back to the city is long and exhausting, but Gilgamesh walks with a spring in his step, grasping the Herb. Outside the city walls, he stops by a spring to wash and sleep awhile before his triumphal return, still grasping the golden Herb securely in his hand.

But, while he sleeps, a serpent silently slithers from beyond the Veil and, taking the herb from the sleeping King’s hand, eats it… shedding its skin before disappearing once more beyond the Veil.

When Gilgamesh wakes and sees his empty hand, all he can do is weep.

Now at last he sees his own folly. Now, at last, he understands and accepts both the responsibility and the consequences of his actions. Now, when all his plans are dashed, and he stands empty-handed before the walls of his city, he begins to understand the twin mysteries of death and life… and he passes through the Veil with heart and mind open.

And now the Fates speak, telling once more of the glories of Wall-Girt Uruk where, for the first time, ‘in their bedchambers at night, the young folk sleep soundly.’

***

Gilgamesh stands at the portal. Beside him stands Enkidu, his Other Self. Here, there is no death. Together they answer the call, and side by side, kneel before Shamhat, the High Priestess who is the vessel of the Goddess. She binds their hands with threads of red and gold, placing in their joined hands the Voice of Destiny, that the twin halves may speak with one voice. With fragrant oils, upon each brow, she traces twin symbols in blessing. One third man, one third beast, one third divine… no longer fragmented but whole.

Gilgamesh tells of his journey, but Enkidu says it was no failure… that the gods have granted them a glimpse of the immortality all carry. As Enkidu speaks, a circle of hands surrounds them with a gesture that says, ‘fear not’.

From each wrist hangs a bracelet of wood, red as cedar, bearing the symbol of the Tree of Life… the Herb of Immortality… that all have carried with them from the beginning, and that all will carry with them when they depart.

The Key to the Temple.

As all depart for the final time, they pass beneath the Rainbow, held aloft by Anu and Aruru, the Sky-Father and the Earth Mother.

“When the waters receded, and dry land appeared, I set free the animals to roam.

That day I burned reeds and cedar and myrtle branches.

Smelling their fragrance, the gods gathered round.

Aruru came first, relieved that people had survived the destruction.

She held aloft her necklace-of-many-colours,

which had been Anu’s gift to her when their love was young.”

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Lord of the Deep: “Why is there such grief..?”

Preparing the temple for the final ritual drama of the weekend is always bittersweet. It is the last stage of a journey that has been years in the making. This story, the tale of Gilgamesh, is older than any other we have used; the three years we have worked with it are but a drop in the ocean compared to the thousands of years it has been in existence.

The stories that we use, whether based on ancient texts or written specifically for the workshops, illustrate aspects of the human journey to awareness, which is the spiritual journey by another name. Not all stories have happy endings, but it is our job, when preparing the rituals, to end on a note of hope, and although the character of Gilgamesh seems to leave little scope for anything other than continuing disaster, there is always hope.

The character of the King, Gilgamesh, is so exaggerated that it is almost a caricature of the worst excesses of the human ego, but, like all good caricatures, elements of the depiction are recognisable and, to greater or lesser degree, present in every one of us. The incredulous horror with which we watch the King fall into every trap the ego presents, is made all the more poignant when we realise that we might all do the same, in essence if not in scale. We are left with the hope that whatever light he finds at the end of his personal tunnel will be bright enough to shine for us all.

Steve had done a magnificent job of embodying the difficult character of Gilgamesh. It is not easy to portray such a gamut of emotion. He cannot be played as a pantomime villain, gleefully indulging in evil machinations… he is, rather, a man who has an absolute belief in his own rightness and in the divine right of his kingship. As such, in spite of his Machiavellian manipulation of others and his rewriting of events to cast glory upon himself, he is, in an odd way, as innocent as a babe. He has no experience of being less than the best… in his own eyes at least. The very traits that have made him a strong warrior-king have prevented him from growing as a man. He simply knows no other way to be.

As the story has unfolded, we have watched Gilgamesh begin to learn that there is another way… beginning to see the consequences of his actions and, at least for a moment, accept them as his responsibility. But, whenever he takes a step towards awareness, he is drawn back as soon as the ego reasserts its hold.

At the start of the final ritual drama, we find Gilgamesh roaming the wilderness on his quest to find Utnapishtim, the immortal. Gilgamesh wishes to conquer death itself, and truly believes in his own affirmation that he does this only for his people. It will not be long, however, before that fallacy is exposed…

In spite of his preparations, his crown and the fine robes he donned when he set out upon his quest, by the time we meet the King, his travels have rendered him unkempt and the burden of grief weighs heavily upon him. He seems almost a ‘wild man’, like Enkidu… his Other Self, twice-slain as a result of Gilgamesh’s own actions.

As he wanders, Gilgamesh is seen by Shiduri, the ale-wife, who watches over her golden brewing pot. There is that in his demeanour that makes her think him a murderer, but she does not flee. Instead, she locks the golden lid of her vat and awaits his coming.

She asks his purpose; Gilgamesh gives her his name and titles, telling her that he seeks Utnapishtim and the Herb of Immortality. Shiduri, looking beyond his words to the core of his being, responds with a question,

“Why is there so much grief in your heart?”

Gilgamesh says that his beloved friend, Enkidu, is ‘turned to clay’. “Won’t I too, one day, lay down in the dirt like him and never rise again?”

The words are telling. In spite of his avowal that he seeks the Herb only for his people, he is revealing his own fear, both of dying and the condemnation of his body to ‘lay down in the dirt’, rather than of its natural return to earth as part of the great cycle of life.

Almost as if he seeks to counter this revelation, when Shiduri tells him that none but Shamash, the god of the Sun, can cross the Great Ocean to where Utnapishtim resides, Gilgamesh draws his sword and tells her how he slew ‘the demon’, Humbaba, and tore the Bull of Heaven limb from limb.

Shiduri considers for a moment then tells him that there may be a way ‘for one such as you’… Urshanabi, the boatman of Utnapishtim, is nearby… but he is with the fearsome Stone Men…

Lord of the Deep. Saturday Morning ~ Willow Willers

Willow continues her journey with the Lord of the Deep:

After breakfast we met in the the temple to first to discuss and then to perform Ritual Drama Two. A second self.

“Aruru moistened her hands
She pinched off clay
She kneaded it…
She shaped her idea into it
Then she threw it into the wilderness…”

Does that remind you of anything, it does me. Yes it truly reminds me of how “God” made Adam. ..

Steve read the above verse to us before we entered the temple. It was only the second time I had entered the temple as Limma but somehow I didn’t need the script I was guided in. First in line with Fate Ia to my left with the other four fates behind us, we followed Gilgamesh in, bowing to the temple guardian on entering. We walk towards the throne bow, to the king of Urk and the East and peel off to our spheres.

Continue reading at willowdot21

Writings from the Temple ~ Briony

Briony, attending her first workshop with the Silent Eye, graciously and gracefully changed roles at the last minute to fill one of the gaps left by illness. She writes of what came to her after the workshop:

So, what will become of you my child, my mewling infant?

Born of my womb, resting here, blindly knowing your vulnerability, strong with desire, weak in your newly-formed vehicle of consciousness.

The wheels of Time in Mind grind inexorably, twisting your fate, that fragile, tenuous link to your Father.

We made you. The Light entered the Darkness, placing a glimpse of Immortality into the fertile womb of potentiality. That seed found its resting place. Such love! Such joy! The moment of conception.
We loved you!

Your thirst for power, for glory. The fearless invincibility of the Child, revelling in it’s new-found unexplored sensuality. We watched with love as you blindly emptied the coffers of plenty, tore through the gossamer veils of mortality, feasting on the blood of sacrifice, drinking the waters of desire. How we loved you!

The progeny of our astral loins experiencing the abundance of sensual awareness.

And so my child, my mewling infant?

What has become of your light, split into a myriad of colours? Your divinity – born into this world of substance and form?

The seed within lies dormant, millennia pass. Is it destined to return unfulfilled? Relinquishing it’s God given right to unfold, to flourish, to accept the abundant teachings of this Earthly existence?

Our love waits, the wheels of Time in Mind grind ever onwards, Fate and Destiny weave the paths of the Unconscious Soul.

 

Lord of the Deep: Surfing the Web

Saturday is always a heavy day, with three rituals and attendant prep sessions, as well as two explorations, led this time by Lorraine and Jan, both of whom are ordained ministers, but who follow rather different personal paths. You can find the basis of Jan’s exploration here, while Lorraine took an informal approach to engage us in a discussion exploring the relationship between Spirit, Humankind and Nature from a Druidic perspective.

Many Paths are represented on these weekends; beliefs wear many faces and Names, but the more you learn and the more you get to know the people who walk these paths, the more you realise that, although the outer form may differ, at the heart of each is the same Light.

Every year, we try to build in time to just spend getting to know each other, but there is always just so much to do… But, in spite of a day so full we learned of an ‘in’ joke saying you have to diarise time for flatulence on a Silent Eye weekend, and there was much laughter in the pub on Saturday night. We occupied the tiny snug of the four-hundred-year-old inn and set about the serious business of learning more about each other. It is one of the joys of these weekends that we get to spend time with people we only usually get to speak with online or on the phone.

There are inevitable and invisible barriers around us all, created to protect us in a world full of strangers and possible dangers. By the time we have worked through the first ritual on Friday, most barriers are down… and by Saturday evening, you would never know they had been there at all. The shared experience of something so far outside our ‘normal’ lives brings us together in friendship and companionship. The release of the tensions built up by the story we have been exploring opens the doors of the heart and it is a lively, laughing band that occupies the little bar, talking long and late.

So, Sunday morning, we did not officially greet the dawn, though some of us were already up to prepare the temple, which we had opened early for private meditation. It did not escape notice that, after two days of torrential rain, during which time the Fates had told the pre-biblical, Sumerian story of the Flood, Sunday began with clear and sunny skies.

Photo: Willow Willers

It was tempting to throw open the curtains and flood the temple with light, but shadows too have their place and the illusion we had created within that room would have been destroyed. Even so, the sun seemed intent on finding every chink in the curtains as we gathered for the Triad ritual after breakfast, as if the light itself wanted to join with us for what we were about to do.

The Triad ritual, shared by Steve, Stuart and I, is a yearly reaffirmation and celebration of our shared intent and purpose within, and as, a School. It is usually followed by the ceremonial ratification of those initiations that have taken place that year, but for the first time, none of our candidates had been able to attend.  Instead, we asked them to add their voices to our own as we, and all the Companions, joined together in the Web of Light meditation.

This is not a one-time meditation; it can be used at any time, by anyone, adding their light to the Web of Light that is growing across this world. But there is something truly magical in the augmented strength that comes from working together as we do within the temple. Nor were we alone in that temple hallowed by the loving hearts of the Companions, as we felt the presence of countless others, from across the world, who joined us with a shared intent.

I am notoriously useless during these moments, when hearts open to speak with one voice of Love, and was in tears before we had even read the words of our absent friends out loud. Both laughter and tears have their place in the temple,  especially when both may be born of joy or spring from a vision of beauty. Even so, I had a hard time holding it together as, one after the other, the Companions held the flame to their hearts and spoke for the voiceless of this world. It was a ritual I shall not easily forget.

Although we had been sharing the pre-biblical story of the Flood during the rituals that weekend, it was of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah that I was thinking as we left the temple, when the Old Testament God had agreed to spare the cities for the sake of ten just men. We were more than ten within the temple, and many more minds and hearts were joining with us as we spoke for the earth and its creatures. What we have chosen to call the Web of Light grows, nurtured by many people worldwide, following myriad Paths and of all shades of faith, religion and belief, each in their own way.

In that, I see hope.

Lord of the Deep: Rebuilding the citadel

Once more the fates move. Now, while Gilgamesh steps beyond himself, he and Enkidu, Life and Death, Man and Nature, become the portal that guards the Veil of the Beyond. Each offers their gifts as the Companions, one by one, pass through the Veil. What each may find there is for them alone.

For three days, Gilgamesh wanders, lost in the labyrinth, until, by chance…if chance it be… he stumbles through the door that leads to the Holy of Holies. The room is empty, but ‘to breach that space and breathe in its silence is always to summon forth that which is most needful to the soul.’

The gods appear to Gilgamesh and Utu, the god of the Sun, requires the King to attend and to contemplate the vanities of his heart. In turn they speak, echoing the words of Shamhat when she had asked Gilgamesh why he had refused all the priestesses when they had offered their bodies as a portal to the gods. He had found them unworthy of himself. But now, the gods reveal what might have been had he had the courage to accept their gifts.

Nanna tells him that the dreams they offered might have saved Enkidu…and throws down the white Veil of the Moon. Ninurta tells him that the strengths of his priestesses might have taught Gilgamesh when to apply them…and when to withhold his hand. He throws down the black Veil of Saturn. Gugalanna speaks of the arts of resolving conflict…and throws down the red veil of Mars.  Inanna, speaking of subtlety and understanding, throws down the green Veil of Venus. Enki speaks of the wisdom to see true and casts down the grey Veil of Mercury. Enlil speaks of seeing the divine through joy and throws the orange veil of Saturn at his feet.

“Thus,” says Utu, “do the lights of your soul speak, O King.”

Gilgamesh is distraught, seeing at last where his actions and attitudes have brought him. He looks for a way to make reparation… and decides that, as he cannot recall Enkidu from the dead, no other in his kingdom will ever die again!

The gods withdraw, knowing and seeing more than they will say. The Fates once more turn the wheels of destiny. Gilgamesh regains the sunlight and goes straight to his mother, the goddess Ninsun, seeking her blessing on a new quest, which, says Gilgamesh, he and he alone can encompass. His ego, so lately laid bare and humbled, has already begun to reassert itself.

“So soon?” asks Ninsun. Had he not slain the ‘demon, Humbaba’? Gilgamesh, rewriting events in his mind, to reflect glory upon himself, tells her that the Forest Demon is indeed dead, as is the Bull of Heaven whom he had found ‘skulking beneath the Temple’…

Should he and Enkidu not be at a victory parade? No, says Gilgamesh, holding out the amulet she had bestowed upon Enkidu and telling Ninsun that he is dead. Ninsun asks if the fallen should not then be honoured, but Gilgamesh replies that there can be no honour until he has banished death from his kingdom.

“But my dear child, all things are brought to birth, all things live, and all things must die. It is the natural order. Why even the Divine Council themselves will die, one day, in their turn.”

“There was one, who… defeated death… and gained immortality. The Old Tales tell of it. The tales that I read and re-read in my youth honour the name of Utnapishtim. He stole the Herb of Immortality from the denizens of the Underworld and he still lives to this day in a paradise beyond the mortal realms.”

“My dear boy, even if Utnapishtim is not some story-tellers whim, do you suppose you can find him?”

“I,” says Gilgamesh, drawing himself up to his full height “and no other!”

Ninsun is dubious about his motives, but grants her blessing…if he can assure her that he does this only for the people of Uruk, and has relinquished all thought of self-aggrandisement and his own glory. Gilgamesh, blinded once more by the walls of his own ego, assures her that it is so… and again the Fates move.

Gilgamesh prepares himself for his journey, bathing in the Great River, arraying himself in rich and gorgeous robes and placing his crown upon his head.

“Who,” says the man who has abandoned all thought of self-glory,  “is the handsomest of men? Who is the bravest of heroes? Who slaughtered the Bull of Heaven? Who obliterated the Forest Demon? And who shall discover the whereabouts of Utnapishtim and bring back The Herb of Immortality for his people?”

Who indeed? The man that Gilgamesh, once again looking through the eyes of the ego, believes himself to be?

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.

 

Lord of the Deep: Three. ~ Willow Willers

Reblogged from Willow Willers, who continues the tale of her experiences with the Lord of the Deep weekend:

The music stops and we are seated, I look at The Enneagram and wonder how I will cope with walking it and the Hexaflow. Suddenly I am snapped back to Sumer something is happening.

Anu and Aruru rise simultaneously (carrying chimes) and make their way from their seats at withdrawn 3 and 6 respectively on to spheres 3 and 6 of the Enneagram. Once there they bow to each other and then turn east and move simultaneously along the triangle lines to withdrawn 0/9 respectively (having crossed).
Once there they turn to face each other, bow to each other, and then each strike their chime. As the chimes fade they turn to face the west and then proceed around the Enneagram from their respective sides.
I learn that this is called censing the Temple. I feel, relaxed and blessed to be here among these beautiful people who all seemed to know what is happening.

Continue reading at willowdot21