Who are Gilgamesh and Enkidu

Who are Gilgamesh and Enkidu

There are at least two levels or stories in this epos. There are the story about two human beings and their endeavors, and there is the story about mankind, where Enkidu symbolizes the sentient soul and Gilgamesh the Mind soul, the Ego.

On the personal plane we learn through Enkidu the descent into the physical plane and through Gilgamesh the ascent up from the physical plane.

I will here try to find the deeper aspects of these beings in the esoteric history of man, looking at them as persons and as symbols. The first part will mainly build on Rudolf Steiner’s “Occult History” lectures 1 and 2, concentrating on the persons of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, or Eabani as Steiner calls him. In the second part I will look at the events on the spiritual plane to show their symbolic nature.

Gilgamesh, Louvre

From Occult History by Rudolf Steiner

In Occult History Rudolf Steiner tells:

The picture I want to call up in your minds is that behind the whole evolutionary and historical process, through the millennia up to our own times, spiritual Beings, spiritual Individualities, stand as guides and leaders behind all human evolution and human happenings, and that in the greatest, most significant events in history, this or that human being appears with his whole soul, his whole being, as an instrument of spiritual Individualities standing and working with set purpose behind him. [1]

These beings are the highest developed persons within the human wave, and already on the old Moon were they selected for their part in the development of Earth. We know them as the twelve Bodhisattvas, the seven Sages, and as Christian Saints.

In the start of the second lecture RS elaborates on this theme:

We must realise that these Beings cannot take direct hold of the physical facts of our existence because, on account of the present stage of their development, they cannot incarnate in a physical Body which draws its constituents from the physical world. If, therefore, they desire to work within our physical world, they must make use of the physical human being — of his deeds, but also of his intellect, his powers of understanding. We find the influence and penetration of such Beings of the higher world the more clearly in evidence the farther back we go in the ages of the evolution of humanity. But it must not be imagined that this downpouring of forces and activities from the higher worlds into the physical world through human beings has ever ceased; it continues even into our own time. [2]

This is the definition of the Bodhisattvas and their helpers, who are guiding the human history through the recurring crises caused by the powers of resistance.

The Gilgamesh epic is a remarkable myth, describing the esoteric path as it is until our time and written as it was written for us.

By way of introduction, I want to draw your attention to how one of the most important happenings of the Egypto-Chaldean epoch is presented to us in a significant myth, and how this event is reflected, but at a lower stage, in the Greco-Latin epoch. [1]

The myth describes the development until the initiation, which first became possible later.

Gilgamish, then, was a personality who, owing to his particular condition of soul, participated in the most progressive spiritual elements and spiritual factors of the age — in everything that threw light far into the future and at that time could be attained only if such a personality went through a kind of initiation. Through the imparting of something that can be received only through a certain initiation, Gilgamish was to be enabled to provide a kind of leaven for the Babylonian culture. He had to experience an initiation up to a certain degree. [2]

Who are Gilgamesh?

As the previous quote says, Gilgamesh is a being with enormous potential.

Now Gilgamish was a personality who had many incarnations behind him and may therefore be called an “old” soul within the evolution of humanity…The souls who came down early have therefore more incarnations behind them in earth-evolution than those who came down later; hence we can call these latter, in contrast to the former, “younger” souls — souls who have taken less into themselves

In the case of Gilgamish, the Being who was to reveal himself through him, and who could do so only by leading him presently to a kind of initiation, kept a guiding hand upon him from the outset and set him at the place where he came to recognise his own position in the history of the world…

The whole nature of an old soul will enable it early in life to grasp not only the essential element, the essential factor, in the existing culture, but also that which strikes into it as a new impulse, opening up a wide vista into the future. [2]

Gilgamesh incarnated back in Lemuria, maybe as the first of the development wave of man. Through his many incarnation he had reached a stage about where man were at  the time of the Maid of Orleans. 2 This is one of the reasons why RS uses the word personality about him, he has developed the Ego as no other person have at this time in history, he have lost all connections to the spiritual world, and is as Ahrimanic as a man can be, as the son of Adam, Cain. His task is to form the development of the Earth, he is the archetypal Hero.

The account begins: Gilgamesh, two-thirds god and one-third human, is the greatest king on earth and the strongest super-human that ever existed; [3]

It could be understood as nephesch (sentient soul) and ruach (mind soul) are full developed, but that n’schamah (consciousness soul) is not, two out of three.

GilgameshGilgamesh – The Archetypal Hero

Who are Enkidu?

Enkidu (Eabani) is a diametrical different being; Enkidu is a being with few incarnation, ego-less and without karma, he lives in innocence with the animals. Through Enkidu’s encounter with a woman he acquires karma and becomes part of humanity, becomes part of civilization.

Eabani is a kind of human being who, in comparison with Gilgamish, seems to be of an inferior nature, for we are told that he was clothed in the skins of animals, was covered with hair, was like a wild man. Nevertheless in his wild nature there was divine Inspiration, ancient clairvoyance, clairvoyant knowledge, clairvoyant perception.

Eabani is depicted as being clothed in skins of animals. This is an indication of his wild nature; but because of this very wildness he is still endowed with ancient clairvoyance an the one hand, and an the other hand he is a young soul who has lived through far, far fewer incarnations than other souls who have reached a high level of development. Thus Gilgamish represents a being who was ready for initiation but was not able to attain it, for the journey to the West is the journey to an initiation that was not carried through to the end.  [1]

In contrast to Gilgamesh, Enkidu is a young soul, without Ego, but with highly developed spiritual faculties, which Gilgamesh have lost. It can be said that Enkidu is the most Luciferic being born on Earth.

Enkidu’s task is to give Earth the Heavenly Wisdom to help man form the future. He is the archetypal Seer or Priest, as the son of Adam, Seth, the last born.

EnkidoEnkidu letting wisdom stream out over the world

As it were through supersensible events, presented to us in the pictures of the myth I outlined to you yesterday, a friend was placed at the side of Gilgamish, a friend whose barbarity and uncivilised nature are indicated by the statement that his outer form was half animal. It is said that this friend had skins of animals on his body, which means that he was still covered with hair like the men of primeval times, that his soul was so young that it built for itself a body which showed the human being still in a savage state. Thus the more advanced Gilgamish had in Eabani a man at his side who, because of his young soul and the bodily Organisation conditioned by it, still possessed ancient clairvoyance. This friend was given to Gilgamish in order that he might find his own bearings in life. [2]

Here we see Enkidu placed as a helper for Gilgamesh, where the Luciferic Enkidu should bring equilibrium with the Ahrimanian Gilgamesh, helping him to purify humanity.

His name, moreover, implies a special relation with Enki, Lord of Earth and Wisdom, and may be translated “Enki’s knees” or “Enki’s creation.”  [4]

Enkidu represent wisdom.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu

These two are born again and again through history, as the bringer of Wisdom and of Form, as Teacher and Hero, as Aristotle and Alexander, or Aquinas and Christian Rosenkreutz.

In Gilgamish and Eabani, whose respective gifts differed so greatly, we see the same kind of co-operation transformed into the spiritual. In the historical facts of ancient times we find this at every turn. And it is important to understand it, for only then do we realise why it is that myths and sagas so often tell of friends who have to achieve something together — friends who are generally as unlike in their nature of soul as were Gilgamish and Eabani. [2]

In the bible we see them showing the shift from the old clairvoyance to the knew, for example as Esau (red and hairy hunter) and Jacob, or as Solomon and Hiram Abiff [Temple Legend]

The spiritual strength of these two are shown through

And on the very same day when a man, merely in order that his name might go down to posterity, throws the burning brand into the sanctuary of Ephesus, there is born the man who has achieved more than all others for the culture of personality — and on the very soil where the culture of were personality was meant to be overcome. Herostratus flings the burning torch on the day when Alexander the Great is born — the man who is all personality! Alexander the Great stands there as the shadow-image of Gilgamish. A profound truth lies behind this. In the Greco-Latin epoch, Alexander the Great stands there as the shadow image of Gilgamish, as a projection of the spiritual on to the physical plane. And Eabani, projected on to the physical plane, is Aristotle, the teacher of Alexander the Great. [1]

These great ‘personalities’ incarnates each hundred years, as Steiner describes in connection with Christian Rosenkreutz and Master Jesus, and it’s naive to believe that these big human beings only have been incarnated the few times as some seems to believe. If you read the Occult History and look for the word ‘personality’ it will point to further incarnations of these persons.

From the Gilgamesh Epic

Steiner tells that this epic describes physical reflections of the spiritual, and that should be considered in the mentioning of Ahriman and Lucifer in the following. I try here to show the two companions relation to the Ahrimanian and Luciferic, to explain their physical roles described in the previous chapter.

Gilgamesh is described as a man with all knowledge, showing him as a highly developed human being, with full control of the physical world, a doer:

This great hero who had all knowledge [nemequ ], Gilgamesh, built the great city of Uruk; the tablet invites us to look around and view the greatness of this city, its high walls, its masonwork, and here at the base of its gates, as the foundation of the city walls, a stone of lapis lazuli on which is carved Gilgamesh’s account of his exploits, the story you are about to hear. [3]

The text on the stone states that he is two third god and one third human, king and super human, but he oppresses his people harshly, uses his power egoistically for his own satisfaction.

The people call out to the sky-god Anu, the chief god of the city, to help them. In response, Anu creates a wild man, Enkidu, out in the harsh and wild forests surrounding Gilgamesh’s lands. This brute, Enkidu, has the strength of dozens of wild animals; he is to serve as the subhuman rival to the superhuman Gilgamesh.A trapper’s son, while checking on traps in the forest, discovers Enkidu running naked with the wild animals; he rushes to his father with the news. The father advises him to go into the city and take one of the temple harlots, Shamhat, with him to the forest; when she sees Enkidu, she is to offer herself sexually to the wild man. If he submits to her, the trapper says, he will lose his strength and his wildness.

Shamhat meets Enkidu at the watering-hole where all the wild animals gather; she offers herself to him and he submits, instantly losing his strength and wildness, but he gains understanding and knowledge. He laments for his lost state, but the harlot offers to take him into the city where all the joys of civilization shine in their resplendence; she offers to show him Gilgamesh, the only man worthy of Enkidu’s friendship. [3]

Here Enkidu incarnates to be the helper and companion of Gilgamesh. He is shown in his pre-human state running wild with the animals, and how he becomes human through creating karma, through lust for living.

“Ask him to give you a temple courtesan, so that the wild man may be subdued by a woman’s power. When next he comes down to drink at the watering place he will embrace her, and then the wild beasts will reject him.” And so it came to pass – six days and seven nights, joined with the courtesan.  [4]

The womans power is thinking and forming where Enkidu lived in wisdom. Six dayes and seven nights hints at the seven chakras who are prepared for the life on Earth.

Enkidu turned to the courtesan. She spoke; and as she spoke, he heard (with awareness and understanding): “You have become beautiful, like a god, Enkidu. Let me therefore lead you to the heart of Uruk, to the temple of Anu and Ishtar, where Gilgamesh is.” Enkidu agreed, though he boasted that he would cry out in Uruk that he alone is powerful; that he is the one who changes fates. The courtesan cautioned him that Gilgamesh is the stronger, he is “the joy-woe man, . . . ceaselessly active day and night.”  [4]

He is like a good now, he have become a sentient being, conscious of his own I. He wants to rule over Gilgamesh, but the courtesan told him that Gilgamesh, the Ego, the mind soul, was stronger than Enkidu, the sentient soul. These two soul-bodies are joined together, and even to this day they fight each other, only the day that they don’t fight each other, are they released.

Separation of the sexes – Twin Soul Aspects – Dual’s

He enters the Earth fully:

Back in the mountain wilderness, at the same moment that Ninsun is enlightening Gilgamesh, the courtesan does the same for Enkidu: “When I look at you, you have become like a god. Why do you yearn to run wild again with the beasts in the hills? Get up from the ground, up from the bed of a shepherd.” The advice of the woman came into Enkidu’s heart. She divided her clothing and covered him, and kept the other part for herself (an allusion to the separation of the sexes). She brought him to a shepherd’s house and taught him to eat cooked food, including bread, which he had not known. He drank wine, seven goblets, which made his mind loose and his heart light (intoxicated by material life). [4]

Cooked food, bread, and wine all weight the physical body down, binding the etheric body to the physical body.

Just as Uruk is the earthly reflection of its heavenly archetype, Enkidu, sometimes called Gilgamesh’s second self, is portrayed here as a reverse image or physical counterpart of Gilgamesh: the human-animal vehicle of spirit, soul, and higher mind. His name, moreover, implies a special relation with Enki, Lord of Earth and Wisdom, and may be translated “Enki’s knees” or “Enki’s creation.” Note also Enkidu’s transformation and evolution from an asexual, unselfconscious protohuman formed in the image of Anu to hermaphrodite (“joined with the courtesan”), followed by separation, final physicalization, and the awakening of understanding or self-conscious mind through “love” — in the Platonic sense of Eros (cf. Symposium, Diotima’s speech, §§202-4). [4]

Enki. About 2,500 BCE. Note the image of planets revolving around the Sun!

The sentient soul were the connection to the spiritual world, and wisdom, at that time. Here we also see the descent into the physical.

The fury suddenly died and Enkidu addressed Gilgamesh: “There is not another like you in the world . . . Enlil has given you the kingship, for your head is elevated above all other men. [4]

Here Enkidu gave tribute to Gilgamesh, representing the mind soul. The next tells about the sacred marriage between the sentient and mind soul, or the etheric and physical body:

The language of Gilgamesh, from his prophetic dreams (“I loved [Enkidu] and embraced [him] as a wife”) to the bridal bed in Uruk — Enkidu’s in retrospect — clearly refers to a “sacred marriage“: the spiritual union or blending of the inner and outer man. None of the extant material names a victor, but the Old Babylonian story given above suggests that the initial strife or “wrestling” is brought to an abrupt end by mutual recognition: Gilgamesh “bent his knees” (to Enkidu’s stature) and “planted his foot in the ground.” Both phrases are apparent wordplays on Enkidu’s name, indicating a successful (or “victorious”) bonding and assimilation. Enkidu’s subsequent acknowledgment and friendly embrace with Gilgamesh confirm their acceptance of the relationship.Up to this point the story has been prologue — an allegory about the evolution and creation both of mankind and of a truly human individual. From here on Gilgamesh and Enkidu go as one, faithful to each other until death. In the Sumerian stories, Enkidu remains the servant of Gilgamesh; in the Babylonian version, Gilgamesh’s mother adopts Enkidu — he becomes not only the servant, companion, and friend of Gilgamesh, but also his younger “brother.” Viewed as a single composite character, Gilgamesh-Enkidu represents the conjoining of heaven and earth, of spirit, soul(s), and body, in a full sevenfold partnership (5) necessary for one to succeed in the hero’s quest. [4]

The one tells that the sentient soul (Enkidu) is below (sevant of) the mind soul (Gilgamish), where he is a younger brother in the other tradition.

Both Enkidu and Gilgamesh gradually weaken and grow lazy living in the city, so Gilgamesh proposes a great adventure: they are to journey to the great Cedar Forest in southern Iran and cut down all the cedar trees. To do this, they will need to kill the Guardian of the Cedar Forest, the great demon, Humbaba the Terrible. Enkidu knows about Humbaba from his days running wild in the forest; he tries in vain to convince Gilgamesh not to undertake this folly. [3]

With Humbaba the terrible we are in Eden and he is known by Enkidu, which means they are related, and he guards the trees of wisdom and life. Enkidu, representing the Luciferic wisdom, is not ready to fight the Ahrimanic spirits, so he works against Gilgamesh.

This is part of the life of man, going through the twelve signs of the Zodiac:

At this point the story reveals a deeper motive which Gilgamesh feels but cannot fully comprehend, for he still lacks the maturity and perception to recognize its source. Woven into the Babylonian version of Gilgamesh is a rich thread of astronomical symbolism which here connects Gilgamesh’s journey with the twelve-day New Year festival of the Spring Equinox (Akitu), implying initiatory significance. This is confirmed when his mother Ninsun prays to Shamash (man’s solar and solarizing principle), asking why he gave Gilgamesh such a restless heart: “Now you push him to go on a long journey to the place of Humbaba, to face a battle he cannot know about, and travel a road he cannot know. . . . May your consort commend him to the watchmen of the night.” [4]

Gilgamesh and Enkidu fighting HumbabaGilgamesh and Enkidu with Humbaba

After receiving counsel from his mother, Gilgamesh and Enkidu set off (with seven warriors and fifty unmarried men in the Sumerian version) on an arduous journey to Enlil’s forest where they plan to destroy its seven-terrored guardian and to fell the Great Cedar. Enkidu led the way, for he knew the road to the forest, had seen Humbaba, and was experienced in battles.

As Gilgamesh and Enkidu approached the forest, their trepidation grew. Shamash sent a message from the sky: “Humbaba has removed six of his seven cloaks. … They saw the height of the Great Cedar. Where Humbaba walked, a path was made. The road was good… [4]

The seven is connected to the chakras, and the seven-terrored was the chakras to clean. The path is the path of Karma.

On the six days travel (and seven nights?) Enkidu interprets the dreams of Gilgamesh, demonstrating that he is closer to the spiritual world. On the entrance to the Cedar Forrest:

Enkidu loses his courage and turns back; Gilgamesh falls on him and they have a great fight. Hearing the crash of their fighting, Humbaba comes stalking out of the Cedar Forest to challenge the intruders. A large part of the tablet is missing here. On the one part of the tablet still remaining, Gilgamesh convinces Enkidu that they should stand together against the demon.  [3]

Gilgamesh wins over Lucifer/Enkidu and they work together against Ahriman.

Humbaba, who knows Gilgamesh is a king, taunts the king for taking orders from a nobody like Enkidu. [3]

Here the Ahrimanic Humbaba tries to split the two, but Enkidu now inspires Gilgamesh with courage. When man has won his fight with Lucifer, he works as helper for man, as a holy spirit.

On his knees, with Gilgamesh’s sword at his throat, Humbaba begs for his life and offers Gilgamesh all the trees in the forest and his eternal servitude. While Gilgamesh is thinking this over, Enkidu intervenes, telling Gilgamesh to kill Humbaba before any of the gods arrive and stop him from doing so. Should he kill Humbaba, he will achieve widespread fame for all the times to come. Gilgamesh, with a great sweep of his sword, removes Humbaba’s head. But before he dies, Humbaba screams out a curse on Enkidu: “Of you two, may Enkidu not live the longer, may Enkidu not find any peace in this world!” [3]

Here again Enkidu/Lucifer helps Gilgamesh against the Ahrimanic, which on it’s side bans the Luciferic from the physical plane. Enkidu dies, separates man from the spiritual, which introduces death, as man no longer remember his previous lives. The Sentient soul looses it’s sight into the spiritual world, the end of the old clairvoyance.

Gilgamesh allows his life to fall apart; he does not bathe, does not shave, does not take care of himself, not so much out of grief for his friend, but because he now realizes that he too must die and the thought sends him into a panic.  [3]

Shamash (the Sun) between Mashu’s Twin Peaks,
Akkadian, 3rd millennium BC (British Museum)

He now starts his journey on the pure physical plane incarnating through the twelve star signs:

He arrives at Mount Mashu, which guards the rising and the setting of the sun, and encounters two large scorpions who guard the way past Mount Mashu. They try to convince him that his journey is futile and fraught with danger, but still they allow him to pass. Past Mount Mashu is the land of Night, where no light ever appears. Gilgamesh journeys eleven leagues before the light begins to glimmer, after twelve leagues he has emerged into day. He enters into a brilliant garden of gems, where every tree bears precious stones. [3]

Ziggurat in the Eanna Sector at Uruk (Andre Parrot, Sumer)


References

1. Rudolf Steiner: Occult History, Lecture 1;

2. Rudolf Steiner Occult History, Lecture 2;

3.  Richard Hooker Mesopotamia Gilgamesh Summary, Washington State University;

4. W. T. S. Thackara The Epic of Gilgamesh: A Spiritual Biography

Full text of Gilgamesh EpicGilgameš, Enkidu and the nether world.

Temple Legend

The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (ETCSL), a project of the University of Oxford.

Ancient Mesopotamia

Use back-button to go back to text!


Map

Mesopotamia - Sumer - Akkad

 

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  1. #1 by Suzanne Radford on August 23, 2010 - 12:54 am

    Greeting,
    I posted a link to your incredible site on our links page http://www.gnostics.com/gnosticschool.html

    Thanks for the great work.

    Regards,
    Suzanne Radford
    The Gnostic Pagan Project
    http://www.gnostics.com

    • #2 by Kim Graae Munch on August 29, 2010 - 10:51 am

      Thank you Suzanne, I appreciate your encouragement.
      Regards,
      Kim

  2. #3 by Eunice Pinheiro on February 6, 2011 - 1:50 pm

    When I first read this Myth it fascinated me…After a time I saw it on stage, a very powerful performance indeed which very much impressed me…
    It is indeed a very architypal “story” and your writings about it are very enlightning!

    • #4 by Kim Graae Munch on February 6, 2011 - 4:19 pm

      Thank you Eunice.
      It is a fascinating story, and there is no feeling of age even though it’s the oldest scripture on Earth.

  3. #5 by rileybrad on December 22, 2011 - 7:03 pm

    Have been to UR and URUK in specific and Iraq and Baghdad before insanity and War broke out. A Ziggurat was an astonishing outdoor temple with the planetary systems forming layer upon layer to seven levels. At the top of the Ziggurat was a penthouse suit where Gilgamesh had first dibs on whatever wife and that the constellations and birth alignments were very much studied. The origin of our 7-layered wedding cakes with the married couple on the top come from the mystery of the ziggurat and the planets, which has all been but forgotten. Screen play on this subject, attempted by me a long time ago. http://tinyurl.com/cygpn9z

  4. #6 by Thomas Gilmore on September 14, 2013 - 4:46 am

    The Major Arcana of the Tarot are primarily alphabet cards (the number on the card gives the order of the 22 Hebrew letters on the cards).

    It also has remnants of the illustrations of the 22 steps (chapters) of the myth of Gilgamesh. The Gilgamesh Tarot by T Byron G explores this thesis. The card decks and companion book are still available at geocubic.com

  1. “Austin Texas and The Archai Michael” by Bradford Riley « Rileybrad's Blog

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