[God Oracle] Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh – Courage
[Card Description: A mighty Babylonian warrior with his wild-man friend Enkidu by his side charge into the unfriendly forest, axe in hand and ready for battle! Enkidu looks hesitant at the monstrous eyes that watch them from the cedar trees.]
From ancient tablets
I first appear
The first hero
I will bear the mighty weight.
The needs of my kingdom
Compel me forward
In courage and strength
I overcome obstacles
Even my friends dare not try!
I shall not be distracted by love
I shall overcome death
Or die trying.
In a world of monsters
I will save you.
I will build a city to secure you.
Come travel with me,
We will laugh and will drink
And destroy the demons of night.
Mythology: Gilgamesh is the king of Uruk, a great city near the Euphrates River, but as a young man, he is cruel to his people, so the Gods send him a friend, Enkidu, to distract him to greatness. Together they go on many adventures to better the lives of the citizens of Uruk. They kill a demon that guards a mighty forest, but not before the demon can curse Enkidu. The young king’s fame spreads, and he attracts the attention of the goddess Ishtar, who rules both love and war. Recalling how all of her lovers lives end tragically, Gilgamesh refuses her advances. In her rage, she sends the Bull of Heaven to destroy him and his city. But Gilgamesh and his friend wrestle the bull and defeat him, and throw a dismembered piece of the bull at Ishtar! It’s all downhill after that…Enkidu falls ill because Gilgamesh has insulted the Gods, and dies. Gilgamesh takes it really hard, and realizes that he too shall die. So he goes on a quest for immortality. He overcomes obstacle after obstacle, but ultimately loses the things that will grant him eternal life. Instead he returns to his city to be the king he should have been.
Meaning in Reading: They say that courage is not the absence of fear, but is doing what is right even though you are afraid. Gilgamesh had a lot to be afraid of, and even being part God did nothing to help him overcome his fear of death. But the only way for him to overcome his fear was to take the journey and try. He found courage in many places, even if they weren’t necessarily the most ideal: he was motivated by one-upmanship as much as he was by friendship, and a terror of death as much as he was by immortality. Yet in the end, Gilgamesh always does what is right for the most number of people. This card asks us to seek our own sources of courage, without judging them on their worthiness or perceived value to others. The things that give us courage have a way of showing us what we most value. For the two-thirds hero-God Gilgamesh, it is truly a love for his friend and a love of life that pushes him to greatness.
Reversed: When Gilgamesh is reversed, he is blocked from finding his courageousness. Are you preoccupied trying to get out of something that you are afraid of confronting? Perhaps you find that something you want or need is not worth the fight for it. The opposite of courage is cowardliness, not fear. People hide their fear in many ways by saying it is impossible, or it is not worth even trying. What is it you are too scared to face?
Connecting Ritual: On a night with a dark moon, find a clean sheet of paper and a pen or marker with red ink. Using the red pen, separate the paper into three sections. In the first section, make a list of things you fear and have yet to come to terms with. List also the big tasks you have yet to do. In the middle section, list the things that stop you from overcoming them. The order does not matter. In the last section, list things that motivate you, strengthen your will power and give you courage. List as many as you can and don’t judge them!
Next, close your eyes pray to King Gilgamesh for help overcoming these obstacles and finding the courage inside you. Make it as honest and truthful as you can. Or you can say something like
Oh, King Gilgamesh,
Eternal king of Uruk!
Slayer of Humbaba!
Share with me your wisdom
And lend me your courage.
Show me how to overcome my fear
And whisper encouragement in my ear.
When you are ready, open your eyes and look at your paper. Look at all the things that give you courage. Choose one that calls to you, and think about how you would apply it to a fear. Draw a line clear through the obstacle section to the corresponding fear in the first section. Cross out that which keeps you blocked, like it is not even there! Thank Gilgamesh for his help in giving you the courage to find your own sources of motivation. Hang it in a visible place to remind you of the work you still must do, and of the things that keep you going.
For a more advanced working, choose a fear to work on this moon cycle. Use that motivator to give you courage to keep you going. Think of how Gilgamesh accomplished his goals on his journey. How would you have done his quests differently? What would have given you courage in those situations?
Interesting Fact: The Epic of Gilgamesh was an extremely popular story, and we have portions of it written on clay tablets dating from 2000 BCE. It even lists the author by name for one particular version: Shin-eqi-unninni—the oldest author we can list by name.