The Allegory of Celestial Navigation

The priests of ancient Babylon preserved the Sumerian story of the creation of the universe, the Enuma Elish. They were the first in the western world to chart the movements of the stars and planets in the night sky so that eclipses could be predicted. They formalized the patterns of the constellations and the zodiac,  probably ancient in their own time. This allegory illustrates the daily rotation and yearly revolution of the planet Earth, told in the lonely voice of a young Babylonian princess in the morning solitude of her bed chamber.


by Johnes Ruta

Terra rises early and gazes from the window of her princess chamber: a window which looks out over parapets into the distance of the sky, over mountains and vast hanging gardens of the old kingdom. She turns herself lazily around from west to east, so the sun will softly warm her face, then turns around with warmed eyes again into the dark of her room, where diamonds flicker on walls the color of dark night. A sigh passes from her soul, first of joy, then sadness. "Was my morning not always like this?" she asks herself. "No," she remembers ... "Once there was yesterday, my beloved yesterday..." -- Of mornings basking in legends once told her of ancient tenderness, the great-grandmother she never knew.

Now unseen somewhere in the primordial empty space, Ti'amat --Terra's great ancestor -- the mother dragon with two heads and two tails, still coils into and out of herself in wide spirals.

Thought to be long dead, Ti'amat was now hidden inside, her soul curled around the inner spine of the youth she called "Medicine" (Ti’amat’s own great grandson, but the one she wanted), revealing herself to him in long turns...

...For eventually, after the Beginning, the Lesser Gods, who were born before the Stars, had rebelled in panic hearing the deceitful rumour that Ti'amat wished to clear away their din -- Quickly they set about to trap Ti'amat's husband Apsu-Abyss, dragon of the underground waters, as he lay in the cave, and then set out to capture Ti'amat herself, the Rain-Dragon wife -- drawing her also into the cave of herself...

Marduk, chief of the lesser gods, knew they must chop their elders' bodies into the tiniest bits; and he bid them sew the black of these molted pieces together... to make the brocade fabric of the heavens. Left behind sadly to roam, the younger Stars lay each of their own children down into a cradle of this softness.

So Terra and Luna were borne...

Even as a child, Terra would run each morning to the next window of her 365 rooms around the palace center court, to come full circle, from room to room, each to south, to dance around Sol Shamash Utu, her father star, her heaven... Even now, she perfumes herself in a steam of blue, swathes her languid form in her gown of green living thought, where tiny red-liquid walking spirits trace upon her skin ...

Luna, her dancing mirror of light, she holds above her face..

Ea of dawn turns Terra away from the other sparkling great-grandchildren of Ti’amat, to bask again in the honourable splendor of her father. Her two children, Man and Woman, the red-liquid spirits, tread softly upon the brown skin of lovely Terra, who opens as a flower of morning beneath the long gaze of father Sol arcing above their heads -- the crescent edge of sister Luna, turned today to his face, is their constant marker...

Terra turns through each room, left and left again, and her children track into the horizon of her receding east, across her soft bosom of sand and meadow...

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