A matter of time…


I watched the sun go down tonight from the roadside. For once, the camera had not come with me… I was just driving to the shop and didn’t pick it up. Even so, I cursed myself for leaving the camera as I saw the huge, golden orb shot with crimson reflected in the rearview mirror. Too late to turn and go back, the sun would have gone by then but maybe, just maybe, I would be home in time…

No. Halfway home it was evident I wouldn’t make it, so, camera or not, I pulled over to watch the setting glory of an autumn day.

It took only a couple of minutes for the last of the blue to fade through a rainbow of colour to a molten sky, aflame against the silhouetted trees. Almost as if the sky was clothed in the colours of the School…I couldn’t help but smile.

It was the speed of those final moments, though, that struck me. In the space of just a few heartbeats, dusk became sunset and night swallowed the earth. The change came with incredible swiftness and was complete.

It made me think how fast our little planet is spinning, unnoticed by we who live and breathe her air. Hurtling through space around the sun at around seventy thousand miles an hour, rotating on its own axis at around a thousand miles an hour at the equator… and we are so habituated to that movement we never notice. Yet, we get motion sickness in a vehicle.

Our eyes and brains process light that hits a speed of six hundred and seventy million miles per hour…and we don’t bat an eyelid at that constant miracle. Our field of vision seems infinite. Even I, short-sighted as I am, think nothing of glancing up to say hello to Orion,  capturing in my gaze light which left the nebula nearly one thousand, three hundred and fifty years and nine trillion miles ago, to meet my eyes tonight. Some of the stars I see no longer even exist. Yet I have trouble getting to grips with things when I speak friends from ‘the future’ in timezones across the world. Odd, isn’t it?

We live our lives against the backdrop of the enormity of time, yet it often seems that all we know can change in a heartbeat. A single moment, a scintilla of time, and life can be transformed, becoming unrecognisable, both for better or for worse. It can be a small thing that changes a mood, moving a day from sadness to joy, or it can be the bigger events that upheave a lifetime.

Just like the movement of the earth, we often don’t even notice how these changes begin. Or even at all. Sometimes we think we can trace them back to a particular and pivotal event, if we look but it is hard, if not impossible, to untangle the skein of a lifetime. The further you try and trace an event’s beginning back to its roots, the more apparent it becomes that you cannot do so, for each event is dependent in some way upon the ones that preceded it and brought you to that point in time.

We cannot alter past events and the future is unscripted… which leaves us with now, this moment, this scintilla of time, in which to change our worlds. And we do so. All the time. And don’t even notice.

I deliberately took time to watch that sunset. It is something that happens every day, something that has happened over my head nearly twenty-two and a half thousand times since I was born and which I seldom consciously take time to watch. I have to ask myself how many of those days of my life I have missed, simply by taking them for granted and not drinking in each moment in full awareness of the possibilities they hold, not living with a passion.

Tonight the sky was a rainbow veil that turned to a sea of molten gold. And I never want to take that for granted again.

Lord of the Deep: An overview of the Sumerian Planetary Beings by ‘The Patrician Lady’

For the Sumerians, Anu, the Sky Father, was the Supreme Being, from whom all other gods descended. His parents were Enshar and Kishar… the ‘whole Heaven’ and the whole Earth’. He was associated with the planet Pluto and he constellation, Draco, the Dragon.

Aruru, also known as Ninhursag, ‘the lady of the sacred mountain’, was the Mother Goddess upon whom Anu called to create Enkidu, a so-called ‘wild man’, in order to tame the arrogance of Gilgamesh. But there is far more to that part of the story…

The multiplicity of deities in many of the ancient cultures can seem incredibly complex to modern eyes and minds, accustomed, for the most part, to a monotheistic approach. It gets even more complicated as cultures evolve… Deities names are changed, an although their attributes remain the same, they may rise or fall in prominence.

We had to make some executive decisions on the choice of the names and incarnations we chose to use for the deities that feature in the story of Gilgamesh, a tale that came down from Sumer through later evolutions of that culture. But whatever name is borne by a god, their essence remains the same.

Although unable to join us this year, The Patrician Lady, a friend of the Silent Eye, generously wrote an overview of the Planetary Beings… gods of the Sumerian Pantheon…that formed part of one of the meditations.

The Planetary Beings

The Patrician Lady

Monday: Moon: NANNA (male)
I am Nanna, also known as Sin, first-born son of Enlil and Ninlil. I govern the Moon. I am the image of all things, and I have the quality of change, as indeed does the moon, for it is never the same for two days. I arise as a tusk of the boar of heaven and all things have their increase. I flourish in the night, rivalling Utu, the sun, and when I am at my greatest, then I need the dreams of men, for I mediate between this world and the sun. During the dark of the moon I spend my days of sleep in the underworld where I decide the fates of the dead. All pass my gate and I take taxes from all that possess. As the god Nanna I am particularly a ruler of women for the months of the moon are the days of a woman’s courses. In all matter of timing, of crops, of children and of beasts, I, Nanna, am over all, and in my character of governor of life I have dominion over illness. Therefore the wise man pays court to me, Nanna; he observes my movements and my relationships with the other Gods that go about the heavens. For I hold the keys to your lives, past and to come.

Tuesday: Mars: GUGULANNA (male) 
I am Gugulanna, also known as Nergal, second-born of Enlil and Ninlil. I govern the planet Mars. I am Lord of the Underworld, I am the certain, the justice of the gods. I am the God of war, God of Battle; reaper, plougher, I am he who burns, who destroys, purifies, who rejects and judges. I am portrayed as a warrior, fighting for the right and needing always to do so, and this is the Law. All depends on everything else and is balanced by the limitation of each part. The nature of a thing forms the limitation of that thing. Necessity is the axle of the gods and I, Gugulanna, am that axle. Turn the top of the wheel and the bottom turns. I am that wheel, I cannot be evaded, therefore I am called Cruel. In the kingdom our laws should reflect this inevitability. Penalties should be clear, quick and precise. All messages pass through Nebo, patron of writing, but the messages from the height of human experiences are formed by me, Gugulanna. When your mind soars into the area where there are only the Holy Winds blowing, and you apprehend things of a greater content than your mind can grasp, which have the certainty of Knowledge, Understanding and Skill, then I, Gugulanna, beating upon the limits of your ordinary knowledge and judgement, give form and content to this expansion of ordinary experience. This is the gift of listening, the gift of oracles, the power of prophecy. I am also the burner, the destroyer, for this is the last limitation. I have the drawback of certainty and can turn my back easily on what is considered by me to be not fitting. I create the limitation of all things, for I am the protector of all things, as well as the destroyer. Know the shape of a thing, and the laws that govern it can be used. Whatsoever the nature is, by that is it bound.  I make those laws.

Wednesday: Mercury: ENKI (male)
I am Enki, also known as Nabu and by some as Ea, son of Anu and Nammu, the sky and the sea. I govern the planet Mercury. I am the Message Giver, the god of speech, the god of letters, the god of numbers, the god of science. As the god of speech I can speak to the earth and the earth speaks. The sky speaks, the water speaks. And the fire. They speak and I recognise. And the god of writings. In the sky, signs; in the fire, visions; in the water, shapes; in the earth, letters. Know the signs and your eyes will speak for them. But the eyes must recognise the signs. I am the Lord of all forms which are ever made; changeable yet remaining always the same in essence. I am the god of science. I bring understanding of the nature of things and whence they come. The laws of the beasts, the law of the arts, the laws of growth and decay, seed-time and harvest, sickness and health. The laws of water, earth, fire and air. When we recognise them, then we know how we may act, in the smallest way for the best result. The voice of Inanna is Enki, and from me all that can be communicated comes, the laws and the signs and the symbols, all are mine; and the eyes, and ears, the mouth and the nose and the fingers, the common senses, all are mine. From me all numbers may be known. I am the architect; I measure and weigh. I plan foundations and measure the height. I have given you the secrets of the square by the art of number. I have left you rules by which to make our temples square and true, for if the foundations be not square and true your temples will not stand.

Thursday: Jupiter: ENLIL (male)
I am Enlil, brother to Enki.  I am also known as Marduk the Magnificent, the Ever-expanding, the Master of Life, the Source of Power. Lord of the creative force.
I govern the planet Jupiter.
Who is this that shines in the Morning of the World, brighter than a thousand suns,
Whose voice spreadeth to the ends of heavens, whose sound is as thunder,
I am Wakener of winds, binding chaos to make the worlds, thrower of thunderbolts,
Against me, who can stand?
Mine is the power that spreads, mine is the force that moves, I am the lover that livens, I am all that living may be.

Friday: Venus: INANNA (female)
I am Inanna, maiden, mother and crone; also known as Ishtar, lover of the sparrowhawk, lion, stallion, and of men. I am she who turns the planets in their courses, and the suns in their paths through the garden of precious stones, who brings forth the seed in season and cuts it down in its prime. I am the perpetuator of cycles: Fire comes from the warmth of the sun into wood, burnt as fire, goes to earth as ash and to heavens as smoke, to the sun as light, all returns, is changed and goes forth again. All eats and is eaten, changes, dies and is reborn. The mysteries of Inanna are simple. Within all living things there is an urge, a driving force that keeps them living. Yet all things living die. Here then is the reason for the mutilation of my servants. They are brought by dance and music and devotion to that state wherein they lose all idea of who and what they are and become vehicles for the goddess. I do not care. My passions are with life and death. Love and mercy are not mine. Only my dancing speaks, only the women in the way of the silver piece speak, with their inmost parts to the inmost parts of men, only thus may I be known. And the stars without number that you see in the heavens will in their turn populate the heavens, to time without end. For the star of the morning and the star of the evening are one. All is rhythm, all rhythms have an end. All have a death and a beginning.

Saturday: Saturn: NINURTA (male)
I am Ninurta, god of war and hunt, also known as Ningursu. I am the patron of restrictions and  boundaries and laws of man. I govern Saturn. I am one with the shape former.  I am god of all forms which are ever made. I am the water, taking the shape of the skin, or the pot. Destroy whatever there is but I remain unchanged. In the earth lies waiting the shape of grass, corn, the thistles, the trees, and the fruits and blossoms. I govern all the shapes of all the insects, birds, and all the living creatures that lie hiding and waiting. For they come from all the grounds and motions of things, awaiting the touch of the seed to spring into being, the fixed shape of things, as the egg is in the womb. I am the bringer and the preventer of Chaos, the giver of real form. From me the forms of all things are written and their fate. From all this it can be seen that I have no need to act.  For from the form, which I give, all necessary forms of action arise.

Sunday: Sun: UTU
I am Utu, also known as Shemesh, the Master of the Chariot. I govern the Sun. I am the giver of light to the high country. From me comes all warmth, from me comes fire. I, Utu, am the centre of this world of gods but I am created by all the gods. Now it is my nature to shine upon all, good and evil, just and unjust. I distribute their bounty. I balance all, erring neither above nor below, by right or by left. I am so near that I seem to be greater than all others. Yet I am given the thread of life from Anu, substance from Enlil, direction from Ninurta, dominion from Enlil, decision from Gugulanna; I give and receive instruction from Inanna, and from Enki I am given news of all that comes to pass. From Sin I both give and receive honesty and justness. Such a king am I, that is both sun and servant, a light to all men and a guide to their path through life.