The Seven who Decreed Fate

These Sumerian gods have many interesting stories tht make your and my families look like paragons. There is truly nothing new under the sun.

An Great Father of the Gods, the king of the Gods, the God of the Sun. His symbol is a star. It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the royal tiara. His attendant and minister of state was the god Ilabrat. He was one of the oldest gods in the Sumerian pantheon and part of a triad including Enlil (god of the air) andEnki (god of water). He was called Anu by the later Akkadians in Babylonian culture. By virtue of being the first figure in a triad consisting of Anu, Enlil, and Enki (also known as Ea), Anu came to be regarded as the father and at first, king of the gods. An was at one time the head of the Sumerian pantheon. His worship waned over time and his powers were transferred to Enlil.


Enki – Lord of waters of life

Enki Lord of water, wisdom, creation, and fertility. Invented writing. Keeper of the divine laws. Created the first humans. His symbol is two serpents entwined on a staff. Warned Ziusudra of the impending flood.

Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu, the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth. In the later Babylonian epic Enûma Eliš, Abzu, the “begetter of the gods”, is inert and sleepy but finds his peace disturbed by the younger gods, so sets out to destroy them. His grandson Enki, chosen to represent the younger gods, puts a spell on Abzu “casting him into a deep sleep”, thereby confining him deep underground. Enki subsequently sets up his home “in the depths of the Abzu.” Enki thus takes on all of the functions of the Abzu, including his fertilising powers as lord of the waters and lord of semen. This may be a reference to Enki’s hieros gamos or sacred marriage with Ki/Ninhursag. His symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn,

Enlil Lord of breath, wind, loft and breadth, invents tools of agriculture. Created the deluge or “amaru” to destroy mankind.  Seceded An as the head of the Sumerian pantheon. Enlil was known as the inventor of the mattock (a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax or digging tool of the Sumerians) and helped plants to grow.



Inanna Goddess of love, fertility, procreation, and war. Queen of the beasts. Protector of Aratta. Her symbol is the eight or sixteen pointed star. She is the one who traveled down to the underworld to visit her sister Ereskigal, and there will be more about that story later on. She also got her dad drunk and stole his seven powers…again, more later.

Nanna God of the moon. His symbol is the crescent. He is commonly designated as En-zu, which means “lord of wisdom”. During the period (c.2600-2400 BCE) that Ur exercised a large measure of supremacy over the Euphrates valley, Sin was naturally regarded as the head of the pantheon. It is to this period that we must trace such designations of Sin as “father of the gods”, “chief of the gods”, “creator of all things”, and the like. The “wisdom” personified by the moon-god is likewise an expression of the science of astronomy or the practice of astrology, in which the observation of the moon’s phases is an important factor.

His wife was Ningal (“Great Lady”), who bore him Utu/Shamash (“Sun”) and Inanna/Ishtar (the goddess of the planet Venus). The tendency to centralize the powers of the universe leads to the establishment of the doctrine of a triad consisting of Sin/Nanna and his children. Sin had a beard made of lapis lazuli and rode on a winged bull. The bull was one of his symbols, through his father, Enlil, “Bull of Heaven”, along with the crescent and the tripod (which may be a lamp-stand). On cylinder seals, he is represented as an old man with a flowing beard and the crescent symbol. In the astral-theological system he is represented by the number 30 and the moon. This number probably refers to the average number of days (correctly around 29.53) in a lunar month, as measured between successive new moons.

An important Sumerian text (“Enlil and Ninlil”)[2] tells of the descent of Enlil and Ninlil, pregnant with Nanna/Sin, into the underworld. There, three “substitutions” are given to allow the ascent of Nanna/Sin. The story shows some similarities to the text known as “The Descent of Inanna”.

Ninhursag Great Mother Goddess. Goddess of childbirth. Queen of the mountains. The mountain and mother goddess. She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the ‘true and great lady of heaven’ and kings of Sumer were ‘nourished by Ninhursag’s milk’. She is typically depicted wearing a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders, and not infrequently carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash. She is the tutelary deityto several Sumerian leaders.

In the legend of Enki and Ninhursag, Ninhursag bore a daughter to Enki called Ninsar (“Lady Greenery”). Through Enki, Ninsar bore a daughter Ninkurra. Ninkurra, in turn, bore Enki a daughter named Uttu. Enki then pursued Uttu, who was upset because he didn’t care for her. Uttu, on her ancestress Ninhursag’s advice buried Enki’s seed in the earth, whereupon eight plants (the very first) sprung up. Enki, seeing the plants, ate them, and became ill in eight organs of his body. Ninhursag cured him, taking the plants into her body and giving birth to eight eities:  Abu,  Nintulla (Nintul),  Ninsutu,  Ninkasi,  Nanshe (Nazi), Azimua,  Ninti,  and Enshag (Enshagag). In the text ‘Creator of the Hoe’, she completed the birth of mankind after the heads had been uncovered by Enki’s hoe. In creation texts, Ninmah (another name for Ninhursag) acts as a midwife whilst the mother goddess Nammu makes different kinds of human individuals from lumps of clay at a feast given by Enki to celebrate the creation of humankind.

Utu Sun god of justice, application of law, and the lord of truth. He is usually depicted as wearing a horned helmet and carrying a saw-edged weapon not unlike a pruning saw. It is thought that every day, Utu emerges from a mountain in the east, symbolizing dawn, and travels either via chariot or boat across the Earth, returning to a hole in a mountain in the west, symbolizing sunset. Every night, Utu descends into the underworld to decide the fate of the dead. He is also depicted as carrying a mace, and standing with one foot on a mountain. It’s symbol is “sun rays from the shoulders, and or sun disk or a saw”.

The sun god is only modestly mentioned in Sumerian mythology with one of the notable exceptions being theEpic of Gilgamesh. In the myth, Gilgamesh seeks to establish his name with the assistance of Utu, because of his connection with the cedar mountain. Gilgamesh and his father, Lugalbanda were kings of the first dynasty of Uruk.



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8 Responses to The Seven who Decreed Fate

  1. Very interesting. I’ve always enjoyed mythology but am unfamiliar with the Sumerians.

  2. sophiebowns says:

    I think that I’ve forgotten any of the mythology that I ever learned at school, so this helped to enlighten me a little 🙂

  3. Thanks fo rcoming by. It’s unlikely you studied the Sumerians in school. Most places jump from Egypt to Greece, about 3000 years in one jump, and the Sumerians were as far behind ancient Egypt as Egypt is behind us.

  4. Marva Dasef says:

    The series on Sevens has been very interesting. I’d love to re-run the articles on my blog. Give it a few months, and we can do another round of myth and legends with much of the work already done by you! I have quite a few myth/legend posts that can go into re-runs.

  5. One of the eight goddesses of healing created by Ninhursag to heal Enki. She healed Enki’s rib.