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Observations placeholder

Marad - Ninurta and the turtle: translation



Type of Spiritual Experience


In Mesopotamian mythology the Ultimate Intelligence Anu creates two beings – Enlil – Father/Creator and Ninlil, the Created and the Mother. 

Now an analogy.  In order to create a software package – the functions of the Universe [the Created Mother figure] one needs a plan and this plan requires that the players in the physical play their part to action the plan.  The actions needed from each person is their Destiny.   

In Sumerian mythology, the Creator figure – Enlil is the holder of this plan with all the destinies mapped out and it is called the Tablet of Destiny.  It is NOT as Wikipedia seems to think  a clay tablet buried in the ruins somewhere, it is a spiritual object.  If you can imagine a plan for an enormous engineering work then this is what the tablet of destiny would be like, but held as software.

Like all plans it was subdivided amongst the Intelligences so that they could action it and in the  Sumerian poem Ninurta and the Turtle it is the god Enki, rather than Enlil, who holds part of the tablet.

It weaves a very jolly and memorable tale designed to help people remember that their destiny is pre-determined.  In the Greek system the fates held the equivalent of the tablets of destiny.

Both this poem and the Akkadian Anzû poem share concern of the theft of the tablet by the bird Imdugud (Sumerian) or Anzû (Akkadian).  This was because whoever possessed the tablet ruled the universe. 

A description of the experience

Ninurta and the turtle: translation

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Segment A

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Segment B

B1-4'At his command your weapon struck me evilly. As I let the me go out of my hand, these me returned to the abzu. As I let the divine plan go out of my hand, this divine plan returned to the abzu. This tablet of destinies returned to the abzu. I was stripped of the me.'

B5-8Ninurta was stunned at these words of the Anzu chick. Ninmena gave out a wail: 'And what about me? These me have not fallen into my hand. I shall not exercise their lordship. I shall not live (?) like him in the shrine, in the abzu.'

B9Father Enki in the abzu knew what had been said.

B10-14The chick Anzu took the hero Ninurta by his hand and drew near with him to Enki's place, the abzu. The chick Anzu returned Uta-ulu to the abzu. The lord was delighted with the hero, father Enki was delighted with the hero Ninurta.

B15-24The lord Nudimmud honoured him duly: 'Hero, no god among your brother gods could have acted so. As for the bird which your mighty weapon captured, from now to eternity you will keep your foot placed on its neck. May the great gods give your heroic strength its due. May your father Enlil do whatever you command. May Ninmena not fashion your equal (?). May no one be as awesome as you and no god extend an upraised hand before you. Monthly may your house (?) regularly receive tributes in the shrine, in the abzu. May An (?) proclaim your name in the seat of honour.'

B25-30The hero secretly was not happy with these promises. Where he stood, he darkened and yellowed like (?) a flood-storm (?). He contemplated great deeds and inwardly he was rebellious. He uttered a word which has no ....... The hero Ninurta set his sights on the whole world. He told no one and inwardly did not .......

B31-32The great lord Enki intuitively grasped the substance of the plan. In the shrine, in the abzu he stirred up a dark flood-storm.

B33-35By the house the minister Isimud opposed Ninurta. The hero Ninurta refused to come out and raised his hand against the minister Isimud.

B36-46Against Ninurta, Enki fashioned a turtle from the clay of the abzu. Against him he stationed the turtle at an opening, at the gate of the abzu. Enki talked to him near the place of the ambush and brought him to the place where the turtle was. The turtle was able to grab Ninurta's tendon from behind. The hero Ninurta managed to turn back its feet. Enki, as if perplexed, said, 'What is this!' He had the turtle scrape the ground with its claws, had it dig an evil pit. The hero Ninurta fell into it with the turtle. The hero did not know how to get out from ....... The turtle kept on gnawing his feet with its claws (?).

B47-54The great lord Enki said to him: 'From ......, you who set your mind to kill me, ...... who makes big claims - I cut down, I raise up. You who set your sights on me like this - what has your position seized for you, how ......? Where has your strength fled? Where is your heroism? In the great mountains you caused destruction, but how will you get out now?'

B55-60Ninmena learned of this situation. She ripped the clothes on her body and she ....... 'You my plant-eater Enki, who shall I send to you? Men will shake their heads in fear ....... Who shall I send to you? That name is not Enki. That name is Ugugu-that-does-not-pour (?). You who are death which has no mercy, who shall I send to you?'

The source of the experience

Mesopotamian system

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps