A Lament for Dumuzid

Today is the date of the Vernal Equinox, in which we commemorate the first day of Spring and the blossoming of life.

Trees begin to bud — if they haven’t already.

Spring flowers break forth from the soil and lift their heads to face the sun.

Birds sing their amorous mating calls.

Soon the air will be full of pollen.

Despite the stirring of new life upon the Earth, this is also a time of sorrow.

It is during this time that the god, Dumuzid, is taken into the Underworld to serve as Inanna’s substitute in the House of Dust, also known as Kur, Irkalla, and Arali.

In the course of Inanna’s Descent myth, we find that in order for Inanna to return to the Land of the Living, another must take her place:

“…as Inana was about to ascend from the underworld, the Anuna seized her: “Who has ever ascended from the underworld, has ascended unscathed from the underworld? If Inana is to ascend from the underworld, let her provide a substitute for herself.” (ETCSL translation : t.1.4.1 “Inana’s descent to the nether world”)

As Inanna and her accompanying band of Underworld daemons go forth, they encounter various individuals who are loyal to Inanna. At each turn, she persuades the band of daemons to leave her companions alone. All is well until they approach Dumuzid’s field and find that he is sitting upon his throne in his finery and does not mourn the death of his beloved.

I am inclined to think that he probably did not know, however, the myth does not give us much insight in that regard.

In any case, Inanna commands the horde of daemons to take Dumuzid as her substitute:

“She looked at him, it was the look of death. She spoke to him, it was the speech of anger. She shouted at him, it was the shout of heavy guilt: “How much longer? Take him away.” Holy Inana gave Dumuzid the shepherd into their hands.”

It was a command and act that she would later regret.

The death of Dumuzid is something that was ritually mourned and accounted for in other contemporary cultures.

A notable example is found in the Hebrew Old Testament wherein Tammuz, Dumuzid’s Akkadian diffusion is mourned by the people:

“In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month… to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the LORD, and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz…” (The Book of Ezekiel chapter 8, English Standard Version)

It is worth noting that the sixth month of the Hebrew calendar is Tammuz.

Here, dear reader is another lament for the fallen one which I have written as modern liturgy.

A LAMENT FOR DUMUZID

Who can comfort us in our affliction?

Who can comfort us in our distress?

Who can comfort us in our sorrow?

For our lord, the Blessed Shepherd, has been taken from among the people.

For our lord, the Fisherman, has been taken from among the people.

For our lord, the Beloved Son, has been taken from among the people.

Dumuzid, the Wild Bull of our father’s pasture has lain down;

Dumuzid, the Wild Bull of our father’s pasture has fallen;

Dumuzid, the Wild Bull of our father’s pasture has been taken from our midst.

Dumuzid, the Wild Bull who has lain down, lives no more;

Dumuzid, the Wild Bull who has fallen, lives no more;

Dumuzid, the Wild Bull who was taken from our midst, lives no more.

He has gone to the bosom of the earth where shades dwell.

He has gone to the dwelling of the dead from which none may return.

He has gone to the palace of the Lady of Sorrows and is counted among the dead.

Men and women are filled with sorrow.

The lover finds no comfort in his beloved’s arms.

Children in their fathers’ homes cry in the night.

We will rise now, and go about the city!

We will rise now, and go about the streets!

We will rise now, and go about the byways!

We will rise now, and go among the fields!

We will rise now, and go among the hills!

We will rise now, and go among the high places!

We will rise now and search for he whom our soul loves!

We will rise now and search for the beloved son of our lord!

We will rise now and search for the light of gods and men!

We shall spread our arms like the wings of a bird!

We shall spread our wings like the bird that flies by night!

We shall spread our wings and descend into the realm of our Lady Under the Earth and move her heart with our tears.

For the men and women who are filled with sorrow.

For the lover who finds no comfort in his beloved’s arms.

For the children who in their fathers’ homes, cry in the night.

Let us move the guards who watch over the city below to tears!

Let us move the servants who guard the gates of the city below to tears!

Let us move the Queen of Irkalla to tears!

Hear us!

We who lament the fallen one!

Hear us!

We who lament the Beloved Son!

Hear us!

We who lament the Shepherd and Fisherman.

We go about in sackcloth:

Our water is tears!

We go about in sackcloth:

Our food is dust!

We go about in sackcloth:

Our comfort is wailing in the night!

We lament!

We lament!

We lament!

We entreat you, O guards of city!

We entreat you, O porters of the gates!

We entreat you, O Queen of Shades!

Return to us, our beloved;

Return to us, the lover of our youth;

Return to us, the light of men.

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