Goddess Ninkharsag—Ancient Powerful Mother who Faded into The Holy Ghost
The tale of our creation we know from the Bible is only half the story—one which has been heavily edited. But have you ever wondered how god created male and female in his image? There are other sources that give alternate accounts, filling in missing details or answering questions raised by reading Genesis. The Jews wrote their religious texts while in captivity in Babylon, using the Sumerian and Assyrian tales of gods and goddesses as a basis, and then amending them to fit their own mythology and religion. It is in the Sumerian/Babylonian tales we find a different perspective on a well-known story.
In ancient myth Enki and Enlil were known as two half-brothers fighting for control over Earth, with their father, Anu, undecided as to who should succeed him. Their half-sister was Sud, and she was held in the highest esteem by the Annunaki, and had her own base of power on a sacred mountain, Eridu.
Sumerian/Babylonian gods: Anu, Enlil, Enki and Nin-Hur-Sag ( Image Source )
It was said the tradition among the Annunaki was to secure the bloodlines through mating half-siblings (never full-blooded siblings). So even if a male produced an heir with his concubine or wife, if he then had a son with his half-sister, that child would be the heir presumptive.
This was the base of the disagreement between Enki and Enlil, which we see replicated in the story of Abraham and his sons. Abraham had a child with Hagar, and their son Ishmael was the eldest and should have been the heir, but his wife Sarah was, according to some accounts, Abraham’s half-sister and so their son Isaac had precedence.
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Whether it was to keep the family together and bring peace to the warring brothers, or because she had plans for her own descendants, Sud mated with both Enki and Enlil, producing heirs. The result was such that the next generation found themselves continuing the dispute and quite often Sud had to be called in to settle wars.
Reproduction of a seal representing the Sumerian god Enlil and his wife, the goddess Ninlil. Public Domain
As a result of her peace efforts and in acknowledgement of her accomplishments as a scientist, including the creation of humans, she was given the honorific ‘Lady of Life’, or Mammu/Mama and became known from then on as Ninkharsag. She is the mother-goddess that we know in many forms, (though not Mother-Earth, which is Tiamat or Gaia), the creator of life whose milk nourishes kings.
As far as we know, legend indicates her motives in creating humans were unselfish. The Annunaki wanted servants to do the menial tasks for them on Earth and so it fell to Ninkharsag and Enki to create these beings. After some time, Enki was not satisfied with their creation who “ate out of troughs like sheep” and wanted to give them more intelligence. Ninkharsag agreed and their experiments were eventually successful, though Enlil was outraged at what they had done, accusing them of making men “like Gods.”
While Ninkharsag’s motives were said to have been for the best —seeking to better the lives of their servants and give them intelligence with the hope they may have fulfilling lies—Enki was a little more complicated.
He needed soldiers, and in the texts, he and one of his sons outfitted and trained humans to wage war, which implies this is the fundamental reason for mankind’s willingness to war on behalf of ‘God’; it was supposedly ingrained into our ancestors at the moment of their awakening. It is apparent that though Enki may have bred soldiers, he was preferable as Earth’s ruler from humanity’s point of view, than his harsh and tyrannical brother.
As a result of the back and forth between the two brothers, Ninkharsag found herself siding with Enki more and more, and despising Enlil’s treatment of the humans, whom she loved. Every time they suffered, either as a result of war or natural disaster, she would weep as though for her own children.
So, how did she lose her position? The mythological record states the war of arms became a war of ideology as mankind continued to grow in spite of Enlil’s efforts at population control. As man diversified, most found themselves in two camps: Enki, whose dominion was Magan, or Egypt, and Enlil, who had moved his power base from Sumer to what we know today as Jerusalem. All three were old by that time, and with Ninkharsag being mockingly referred to as “an old cow” behind her back by the other Annunaki, though she still had power.