New Jersey Yankee in King Ashurs Court
by J.M. Ream
my husband and I embarked upon the Druid path, we did not know where it
would take us, but we hoped it would be exotic and exciting. My personal
path is The Nature of the Gods, and with this in mind we decided
to cycle pantheons for several moons. We have explored many different onesNorse,
Welsh, even Chinese, in an effort to meet them all before deciding who to
share water with long term. Its been a whirlwind tour of the realm,
kids, and I can tell a tale or two about the places Ive seenas
exotic and exciting as you can stand. Im remembering one now... (wavy
screen signaling flashback)...
A long, long time ago, in a land far, far away from New Jersey, a Druid
Maidenfaire embarked upon a questfor employment. She lived on foreign
soil (now known as Virginia) favored by the fair face of the sun, where
the weather was fair-to-middlin, tho warmer than she was used
to, and inhabited by a strange people who worshipped an exacting and enigmatic
god. Our Maidenfaire, a performer of sorts, was hired by a puppet theater,
not-for-profit (both the theater and the girl, as it happens.) Her job was
to present environmental education shows for elementary school children,
playing Sammy the Seagull and Chessie the Manatee. (RULE #1: Nature is Good!!!)
She soon realized, however, that her co-workers were not cut from the same
altar cloth as she. Oh, they were very nice, (arent they all when
theyre not voting) and never came out and challenged her faith as
SO MANY do in this land. They did, nonetheless, talk incessantly about their
own faith (probably because they saw her Pagan bumper stickers). Being new
to the Bible Belt, Maidenfaire did not realize that this theater was brought
to you by Jehovah.
Yes, kids, it turned out the environmental shows were subsidizing a puppet
ministry for the Big JC. (dun dun Dun!) Yet, the strangers needed her sorry
Pagan performing butt real bad, for they allowed her sinful hands to besmirch
their sanctified animal totems (yea, and a plague of puppets rained down
upon them). Well, kids, Maidenfaire was not supposed to work weekends because
she had another job. But, verily, the Puppet Master said unto her, I
need you to work the puppet festival in Va. Beach. She said, Lo,
I say unto you, no way. The girl had gained in wisdom, and she knew
it was a big convention for you-know-who. Besides, she had to work at her
other job. But the Puppet Master insisted, and she was sore afraid. He wanted
her to learn Jonah and the Whale just in case she was ever needed
to fill in. Maidenfaire was conflicted. It DID sound kind of animisty, AND
shed never actually have to perform it because it was always scheduled
for SUNDAY and this girl breaks that particular commandment regularly, AND
she didnt want to blow her first job reference cause the Puppet
Master seemed to know everyone in town...its the same old story, kids.
Maidenfaire needed cash, so, like Jonah, unwilling to go and do as he was
commanded (did he have to work, too?), she begrudgingly motored to rehearsal.
Unlike the other shows that were peopled with animals, this one was full
of human puppets, the only other mammal being the whale. It began with Puppet
Villagers portside, saying, Oh, look at those poor children from Ninevah
getting off the boat, their parents teach them all wrong. Maidenfaire
wondered where Ninevah waswas that, like, the wrong side of town?
Then the Puppet Villagers sang a song about the seedy, uneducated people
of Ninevah (uptempo!) saying the men wear blue ribbons in their beards.
(Is that still illegal in NJ?)
Maidenfaire came on in Act II. Her part was El Capitan of the ship upon
which Jonah tries to ditch his duty. You may recall this part, kidsbig
storm blows up (storm god? Maidenfaire wonders), and the sailors pray in
gobbeldy-nonsense language to their gods to stop the storm, to no avail.
(Damn, the gods must be pissed!) As stagehands thrash an unwieldy plywood
ship backstage, El Capitan darts out and appeals to the third god of the
Nature Trinity. Then the sailors haul Jonah out of the steerage and blame
him for everything.
And Maidenfaire felt fouled, cheapened, disgusted with herself. She looked
at her hand holding the puppet as if it offended her. I cannot do
this, said she. I know the good people of Ninevah, I know their
children. Although I do not know these Gods, they are my Gods, and I must
know their real names and worship them, for these yokels know not what they
This is only the beginning of the tale, kids. Maidenfaire quit the puppet
theater and embarked upon her true quest to discover the Gods of Ninevah.
This proved to be no simple task for me. (I only wish I was still a Maidenfaire.)
I was determined to hang with the Assyrians because of the Ninevah reference.
Babylon gets far too much press, anyway. Before any ritual could be done,
I had to identify the pantheon, lumped, for scholarly purposes, under the
category of Mesopotamian.
Ya gotcher Babylonian, ya gotcher Assyro-Babylonian, ya gotcher
Sumeriantoo easy to say they shared gods, plus these regions were
always at war with each other. When all was said and done, I had performed
enough research to write a thesis. I read the Book of Jonah and the five
books of Moses. While at the library, an historical fiction book, The
Assyrian, jumped off the shelf at me. That did it.
Eurisko Grove is proud to present The Assyrian Pantheon, featuring these
as the Earth Mother
Ereshkigal, queen of the underworld and commander
of the seven gates, as the Gatekeeper
Nabu, patron of scribes, as the Bard
The Medes, monotheistic cultist hordes who brought
Ninevah to her knees, as the Outdwellers
and the god we all know and love, Pan, in his
recurring role as Grove Patron.
Ashur and NingalLitha
Shamash and AiaLammas
Ea and NinkiMabon
Ishtar and TammuzSamhain
Omens brought to you by Motherpeace Tarot.
Special roles were written in for the Nature Trinity
that was making Jonah seasick:
Enki, god of the watersWell
Enlil, wind godTree
Anu, sky godFire
purificationAccording to the five books of Moses, Pagans were
asked to give their golden earrings to the church when they gave up
their gods. (Early Christians were obsessed with shekels.) We wore golden
earrings into ritual, and, of course, blue ribbons. We used a red velvet
altar cloth. We burned jasmine and Perfumes from Ancient Times
incense. We washed each others hands and feet, pouring from left
hand into right and sprinkling seven times. A silver coin was dropped
into the well for Ishtar, Goddess of prostitutes.
It was ridiculously hard to find info about the consorts. For Ningal,
I learned that the main road through Ninevah was named for her. According
to Genesis 10, Assyrians are descendants of Ashur, one of the sons of
Sem, who was a descendant of Noah, and this Ashurs descendants
ruled one of the 12 tribes of Moses. According to The Assyrian,
Ashur was once King of Ninevah, so, appropriately, our offering was
Budweiser, the King of Beers. For Praise Offerings, I spoke of Ninevahs
historical accomplishments, including the first university and first
significant library30,000 remaining fire-hardened tablets are
on display at the British Museum. I read some verses from the Assyrian
epic poem, Erra and Ishum.
For Lammas, I learned that the Bull of Heaven was created and offered
to Shamash. I found a telegram about the discovery of the actual bull,
FOUND WINGED BULL FIVE METERS BY FIVE TURNING SIDE WAYS GOOD CONDITION
STOP SHIPPING POSSIBLE MONTH MAY ONLY STOP COST TRANSPORTATION ABOUT
TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS STOP DIVISION APRIL TWENTY SIXTH STOP SHALL WE
ASK FOR BULL
The offering was Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull.
Ea, Lord of the Earth, was the master craftsman and patron of purifying/feet
and hand washing, and Ninkis symbol is the double snake. The Mabon
offering was lemongrass and ginger water, as Ea is also the God of the
Wine will be offered at Samhain. We will be partying with Ishtar and
Tammuz, both mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh. According to The
Assyrian, virgins went to Ishtars temple when they wanted
to marry. The price of virginity was a silver coin, and the woman was
then blessed by the Goddess. Whatever happens at Samhain is between
me and my Priest.
The Mesopotamians were a warlike people, and warlike people trashed
our Twin Towers. The most important thing I gained from this cycle is
an insight into this situation. I submit to you, gentle readers, that
we are not at war with the Assyrians. We are at war with The Medes.
I am now satisfied that the Gods of Ninevah are not mocked. I have decided
not to lop off my hand.
Traveling with the Gods has proven most definitely exotic and exciting,
kids. Should you choose this exotic path for yourself, I can only offer
this advice: Keep your hands and feet inside the ride.
POETRY & STORIES