A story is told to engage the imagination and the sense of wonder. A tale that does so will stay in memory… making it a perfect vessel to hold a deeper meaning that may lie dormant until we are armed with the tools of life-experience and ready to understand. Many of the tales that have come down to us from the farthest reaches of our collective past are treasure chests of knowledge, allowing us to glimpse not only the belief-systems and cultures that bequeathed them to us, but to lift the veil on the inner workings of the human psyche, both as individuals and as societies.
When Anne Copeland, a student of the Silent eye, first came across a reference to the story of Gilgamesh in a post about our upcoming workshop, Lord of the Deep, she became fascinated by the story. Instead of simply reading the ancient Epic, she looked beyond the surface, seeking for understanding and symbolic meaning… which is exactly what you are supposed to do with these ancient tales.
Anne has yet to recieve a copy of the workbook we have produced for the weekend and has used a different translation from those we have employed… but some of the questions and realisations she has gained may blossom and bear fruit when, in two weeks time, we begin to share the story of the workshop.
Gilgamesh Makes an Appearance at My Home
The first time I read about the oldest piece of literature known, found in Sumeria, I was intrigued and had to find a copy and read it. I had absolutely no clue as to what the story could contain that might be of specific interest to me, and yet as I began to read it, I was intrigued and could not stop reading.
In the version I read, which may be different from the version you will be following with the event, Enkidu, who became a best friend of Gilgamesh, was part of the wilderness in a most personal way. It does not even make any sense that he was anything other than an integral part of it. He is shown as the protector of the wilderness, and it is not clear in the reading where the wilderness ends and he begins. It is a beautiful and amazing feat that these Sumerians considered that he was a part of and that the wilderness meant something totally significant to those people, something deep and abiding that the people needed to protect.
And yet, Gilgamesh comes into the story, and when he hears about Enkidu, he wants him to be brought to this place where the Gods he knows dwell. He wants to join with Enkidu in an adventure that he wants to experience, in a world very different from his own. And so it is that the “trapper” comes to bring Enkidu, who is a form of God on his own, to the dwelling place of Gilgamesh. And again, for what most might consider a primitive culture, the Sumerians had a clear understanding of the duality that exists in the world – good and evil, light and dark, droughts and floods, pain and wellness, sorrow and joy, life and death, and each part has its place.
I don’t want to spoil the event for you by giving you the whole story, but I WILL say that this story clearly has helped me to see what my own part in this world is in process of becoming. Is this story truth, or is it a myth or legend? What parts of it do you relate to or wonder about? Is there any part of this that causes you to shudder or feel concerned or uncomfortable? If you could change anything about this story, what might it be? I know I spent a lot of time thinking about this and wishing that certain changes that take place might not have taken place. But then I am just finishing my first year, and endeavoring to understand things that are still new to me. This is not an overnight course or workshop where I spend one entire day and then I am full of great wisdom the next day. How can I understand this duality in life and become one with it? And how can I come to understand and believe that not everything that seems horrible may be so, and that it may or may not be everlasting when it happens?
Although I am not able to be there in person this year, I will definitely be there in spirit. I will be studying this same story and trying to find the depth of meaning for my own life. I wish each and every person in attendance the best that has been, the best that is, and the best that ever will be. Enjoy!!!
You can find out more about Anne at her blog, All in a Day’s Breath
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