Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Sumerian words and The Descent of Innana

Last month I posted my translation of the story of the descent of Innana into the underworld.

Without an understanding of the meanings of Sumerian words the "real" meanings of the story remains opaque.

Here are some comments that may help to bring the meaning of the story into focus with the rest of the conversation we have been having aroung "The Hidden Conversation".


The sacrifice of Dmuzi seems to give many people a great deal of trouble when it comes to the story of the Descent of Inanna.

It is often glossed as a sort of "changing of the seasons" motif, sort of like the Persephone story from the Greek.

At its deep level I do not think that this is the case. If we examine the meaning of the name "Dmuzi" we discover that it is made up of three words:

de: verb, to cry out; to hail; to proclaim; to read aloud

mu: noun, name; word; year; line on a tablet
verb, to name, speak

mu: verb, to sing

mu: verb, to blow; to ignite, kindle; to make grow; to sprout, appear

zi: noun, breathing; breath (of life); throat; soul

So a fair translation of the name might be;

"Bringing words to life by speaking/reading them" so rather than being a "nature deity" as he is often presented, he should perhaps be considered to be a "hub-nar"

hub: noun, acrobat, athlete; a left-handed or ambidextrous person

nar: noun, singer; musician

Which is to say one of the sacred performer/magicians of Sumer who were "Masters of The Word".

So one might begin to suspect that Inanna sacrificed her "level of verbal/linguistic abstraction" (temporally) to be remade and given life.

Just a thought.

Sumerian stories are interesting to me. I have studied the language and culture for some little time now and am always finding new and strange things. One of the most fascinating things about the Sumerian language is that is so incredibly multi leveled. Any story is actually several different but connected stories depending on how you choose to read the words.

For instance, The place that Inanna went is called Kur-Nu-Gi

The most common literal translation is "Mountain-Never-Return" Or "the place you don't come back from", The land of the dead, in other words.

The word could equally be translated as "Attain-Likeness-Answer", or "to discover the answer".

Also it could be "Land-Hostile-Dark"

Or even "Receive The Temple Prostitute" (go figure)

The REALLY interesting though, is that all of the "deep" myths of Sumer can be very easily laid out on an enneagram (If you know enough Sumerian to be able to tell where events should go, or you have a very good translation).

Events in the core stories also seem to follow octaves, for instance in the story that I sent there are three major octaves (and they even fit quite nicely into the Fourth Way model of "affirming, denying, reconciling")

BTW, Asushunamir can be accurately translated as "Beautifully sexually attractive young man without generative powers".

I find that one of the most interesting passages on the poem is this:

Inanna was turned into a corpse,
A piece of rotting meat,
And was hung from a hook on the wall.

The passage does not say "Inanna was killed" (Gaz)
The passage says "Inanna was transformed" (Da-Kur)

I have meditated long on this (no, really I have) and it seems to me that this is the pivotal point of the story.

BTW, Did I mention that Inanna was a Scorpio? This is one of those areas where I am admittedly lacking. There is a whole body of Fourth way material that relates to Astrology, but I know nothing about it.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting translations and views