Wednesday, June 01, 2016

More on ANE birth rituals

In the Marduk Ordeal, Bel’s fall into the water plunged him into the annual cosmic battle against Tiamat, which took place in the watery realm of the sea or, interchangeably, in the netherworld river Hubur. This imagery is again related to amniotic fluids in the womb, visualized as a cosmic ocean in Babylonian birth incantations (Stol 2000:125). In other words, Marduk is detained in the womb of Tiamat, at the same time fighting his cosmic battle against her in order to release himself from the netherworld prison. Therefore, an unusually harsh combat was imagined to take place between the two in the Marduk Ordeal, and the period in which Bel was detained by the power of Tiamat was extended.

The metaphor of combat is sometimes found in birth incantations in which the struggling mother is compared to a warrior on the battlefield. The unborn child, surrounded with confusion, is locked behind the bolts and doors.— The Overturned Boat, page 58

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See, giving birth really is a battle! : )
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