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Babylonian Gods and Heroes

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by Walter Johannes Stein
Published in the Journal, Present Age (England), in 1938, from the archives of the Rudolf Steiner Library, Ghent, NY

IN CHAPTER V. OF HIS BOOK on Babylonian Life and History, Sir Wallis Budge makes the remark that the Babylonian story of the flood as told in the Gilgamish epic has nothing to do with the mythical hero Gilgamish. It is therefore difficult to see why this story has been included in the epic.

The great flood about which many ancient traditions are in existence belonged to a much earlier time than that of king Gilgamish. It must be understood as belonging to the epoch immediate after the Ice Age. The flood was a phenomenon of nature, created by some important change which took place not only upon the earth’s surface, but also in the atmosphere of our planet. In an earlier geological epoch the atmosphere of the earth was more intensely vaporous than now. The surplus vapour later on condensed into rivers and lakes. The records of this stage of evolution are contained in the traditions of the northern nations of Europe who referred to their own land as “foghome.” It is clear that this fog did not permit such phenomenon as the rainbow and other appearances of colours in the sky ascribed by the Ancient Greeks to Jupiter or Zeus. And the Old Testament suggests it by mentioning that after the flood the rainbow appeared for the first time. The rainbow appeared when the vapour contained in the air came down as an unusual quantity of rain.

This change in the atmosphere of the earth must have been the cause of another change going on in the distribution of the magnetic and electric forces of the earth, again phenomena ascribed to Zeus or Jupiter by the Greeks, and ascribed to the God of the Planet Jupiter or Marduk by the Babylonians.

Geology proves that a change in the climate took place upon the earth’s surface. In different geo­logical epochs the order of the climatic zones has been found similar to those of today. But the accumu­lations of ice and snow were at other parts of the earth just as they are now. The wanderings of the north and south pole caused by some movements of the axis of the earth and the change of excentricity, perihel, and obliquity of the ecliptic explain the Ice Age through the change in the amount of solar radiation which reaches the earth caused by the variation of these elements. After the ice, accumulated during the Ice Age, had melted away not only great quantities of water appeared from this source, but the condition of the atmosphere also changed. Continental blocks began to rise which had been laden with heavy ice-sheets and all kind of movements appeared in the surface of the earth. The distribution of water and land changed.

As all these events change with the great astronomical cycles, the study of cyclical movements has been an object of science since ancient times.

All these facts have found expression in the knowledge held by the ancient astronomers. Study of the Yuga-or Cycle-systems of Ancient India or similar systems. in Babylon or Greece shows that astro­nomical knowledge was very extensive. The work of the ancient astronomers is still not highly esteemed enough because European books are handicapped by some” contradictions “ which properly considered are not contradictions. Here is an example which illustrates why modern writers cannot appreciate the ancient wisdom: Berosos says that 10 kings ruled 120 sars and a sar consists of 3,600 years. That would mean 10 kings ruling during 432,000 years. Unfortunately Suidas says that 120 sars are 2,222 years, and the Bible says that the same 10 Patriarchs Jived throughout 1,656 years.

So we have three different traditions all meaning the same thing, all being in contradiction with each other, and nobody can believe that 10 human beings could have lived or ruled for 432,000 years. So the modern writer says: “The length of the reigns of the kings are incredible.” But the difficulty disap­pears the moment we know that Berosos is using a year having a different length from the year used by Suidas. The year used by Berosos is the 10th part of the time from full moon to new-moon and his 432,000 years are for that reason 1,656 years.

The year used by Suidas is a year of 10 months, and his” 2,222 “ years are 1,656 years. In other words: Berosos, Suidas and the Bible give exactly the same number of years.
This has been already published in the first third of the 19th century by Gotthilf Heinrich Schubert. In his many writings on Chronology and Astronomy in connection with the wisdom of the Ancients riddles are solved from which Sir Wallis Budge writes: “It is possible that the explanation of such fabu­lous figures may be found some day.”

It is a great thing to know that all important Persian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman and Indian tradi­tions are in complete concordance with one another, and as we see more and more with the results of the most recent astronomical” discoveries.” Let us consider some astronomical facts.

Nomadic people liked to use a year of 10 months because it is a natural measure indicated by the length of pregnancy. Pregnancy, measured from full-moon to full moon has a duration of ten lunar months. A month being equal to the travel from Full-moon to Full-moon, but when measured by calendar months the duration is 9 months. Pregnancy is a rhythm measurable in solar or lunar measurement. The so-called human year, the “ year of the mortals” in ancient writings is always a year of 10 synodical months-or the time of pregnancy. Agricultural people like to use the year based on the phenomenas of the seasons suggested to them by watching the agricultural work and its rhythm. But modern writers mix all these various years, and speak about” contradiction “ and mythical length of epochs. No research about ancient religions is possible without a knowledge of Chronology not only as a mathematical science, but also as a psychological expression of the world-conception natural to a certain epoch or population opposite direction (westward) in 25,920 years.

When we watch the way of the sun during the year we will find that it is moving through the 12 zodiacal constellations displayed along the ecliptic. But after one year after 365 ¼ days, the sun does not return exactly to the same point where it was a year ago, it has not fully reached that point.

The arresting of the sun short of the point which was reached the year before is called the preces­sion of the equinoxes and makes the sun move westward opposite to the annual path which moves eastward. The sun also runs through all the 12 zodiacal constellations in one direction (eastward) in one year of 365 1/4 solar days and in the opposite direction (westward) in 29,920 years.

see pdf version, above, for diagrams


The cosmic year can be used as a clock indicating the time in which important events take place. For example; the sun rises in the beginning of spring in Pisces. But in the time of Christ it rose in Aries. In the time of the Babylonian culture it rose in Taurus. In reality the legends use this clock. Christ is considered as a lamb bearing the sin of the world. Jason is searching for the Golden-Fleece. The Egyp­tians worshipped the Apis Bull.

Much discussion has arisen whether this coincidence is true. It is true if we take into consideration the fact that the ancients did say the. sun was entering into Aries; not when it had just entered, but when it had arrived in the middle of the constellation. This event took place for example when Nabunassar

So the correctness of the statement appears when we calculate the beginning of the ram-epoch from the middle point of the 30° representing the zodiacal constellation of Aries. And similarly with each of the constellations.

By using this Cosmic clock we can answer the question: At what o’clock, i.e. in what epoch did the Ice Age occur? 9000 B.C. answers Plato in his dialogue, Kritias. And the statement is correct. 9000 B.C. occurred the great flood which submerged the Atlantean continent. But the process of submerging was a slow one, and the glacial time is a long one. While the Equinoctial point was in Libra, Virgo and Leo the Ice Age was in progress, which gives us the following cosmic clock:

 

see pdf version for diagrams

After 25,920 years the Equinox has completed a full circle. But after 21,000 years the next Ice Age occurs. As the last Ice Age finished in Leo so will the next finish in Libra.

After these 21,000 years the same seasons appear exactly at the same point and in the same situa­tion as 21,000 years before.

In the time of the origin of the Gilgamish story something happened which one thought was similar to the flood. It was about 6,000 years after the Ice Age. The Equinox was then in Taurus and the perigeum was in Sagittarius. Perigeum is the nearest point reached in the distance between earth and sun. In the Ice Age the perigeum and the summer solstice fell in Scorpio.

The name of Gilgamish contains Gis which means ‘Sagittarius. He is the hero of the perigeum in Sagittarius, as Xisuthros (Noah) was the Hero of the perigeum in Scorpio. The perigeum had moved one zodiacal sign.

Up to the time of king Gilgamish, or, as the Indian literature says up to the time of the Kali Yug, the waking and the sleeping stage of consciousness were not fully separated. Mankind lived in a kind of clairvoyant dream which penetrated day and night consciousness. But in the time of king Gilgamish they separated from each other.

The difference between day and night became more remarkable. During the daytime, vivid dreams penetrated the consciousness. During the night sleep was less deep and dark than now. What we call Mythological consciousness was still in existence. About 3000 B.C. this ceased. The Babylonean Culture had to be renewed according to this new consciousness. And to deal with this was the work of Gilgamish. A word achieved a new important meaning, the word” apsu “ which means to be awakened. The dreams hitherto pleasant, and containing the guidance of providence became terrifying. The name of a dragon became applied to it: Tiamat.

Tiamat is depicted as a dragon. If we wish to meet tiamat we only have to take a good meal making the experience that after it we feel, we can less good think. The sulphuric dragon, the heath of our metabolism comes up to the head, making it sleepy. And our thinking depicted in the figure of the God Marduk has to fight a terrible fight against Tiamat to keep us awake. There are, even in our time, human beings who have not quite learned to defeat Tiamat.

Marduk, the Babylonian Jupiter, or Zeus defeats Tiamat by the force of lightning and thunder, while in the human being the equivalent is thought.

Marduk separates the day and night consciousness and cuts Tiamat in two parts. Marduk, the modern Michael defeating the dragon, is the creator of the modern consciousness. This is the conscious­ness which deals with calculation, mathematics, with measure, weight, and number. This is the con­sciousness Abraham took away from Babylon. And for that reason here is the origin of the modern mathematical scientific mind.

The Gilgamish story tells us that Gilgamish has found a friend, Eabani or Enkidu. The friendship between these two human beings, the king and his chancellor, are so important because they have differ­ent faculties which complement one another. Eabani is the dreamer; he still has the clairvoyant faculty of ancient times. But Gilgarnish has the ability to explain dreams by thinking. These two friends repre­sent the old and new epochs. Gilgamish is the first to enter the Kali Yug: the dark epoch. Eabani is the last to retain clairvoyance. The death of Eabani causes great difficulties, and the great sorrow of the searching Gilgamish who tries to find the lost friend again fills the rest of the epic.

Gilgamish is wandering westward. He goes through adventures depicting clearly all the Zodiacal signs. His adventure is an image of the cosmos; his sorrow belongs to the earthly consciousness. He wanders until he meets the wise old Utnapischtim to whom Beroso refers under the name of Xisuthros, who had been alive already before the great flood. He is the representative of a pre-deluvian mystery school who carried into the post-deluvian era the ancient tradition.

From him, he wished to learn the secrets of life and death, creation and destruction, which takes place in great periodical epochs. To achieve that, .he has to remain awake for 7 nights and days. This is the great exercise for the new epoch. When he can remain awake as long as this, he will meet as a living being the kingdom of the dead alive. He cannot fulfill this task.

Gilgamish is the creator of the Babylonean tower. Beneath this tower, Tiamat the dreamy-con­sciousness ruled like a cloud covering the depths and the valleys of Babylonean daily life. Gilgamish had to overcome it. But his contemporaries were not willing to erect this building to awaken the new con­sciousness. Anger at their laziness spoils for him the result of his adventure. As a snake which eats away the mystical bread and the water of life, which Xisuthros (Noah) had given to him, appears his anger. This shows a recession to the imaginative consciousness. He has not achieved his aim given to the Kali Yug. 5,000 years more are necessary to accomplish it. Like the flood which drowned the animals and men, only Noah (Xisuthros) escaped, so Gilgamish felt that his Babylonean contemporaries would remain floundering in the high sea- of dreams, now the original beauty of which was. being lost and so Babel fell into the decadence for which it became famous.

The Babylonian Tower is the sign of Thinking, the sign of Marduk’s victory over Tiamat, over the sleepy dreams of the now finished Mythological Age. A Heavenly fire, Marduk’s lightning itself burned it down and the people were dismissed to learn everyone his own language in his own way to prepare himself for the new consciousness, a new way towards individual evolution.

These are the events of the Epoch of Gilgamish and these are the reasons why the story of the flood appears in the epoch connected with king Gilgamish, and his immortal friend Eabani.