Saturday, December 27, 2008

Goddess of the Week

This week's Goddess is Kamrusepas, the Hittite Goddess of Magic and Healing.

Which struck me as funny, as I'd just received a book called Hittite Myths, by Harry A. Hoffner, Jr. for that holiday the other day; and so I'd just been reading about Her and Her role in Hittite mythology.

The Hittite Empire ruled central Anatolia (roughly modern-day Turkey) from about 1600 to 1200 B.C.E., their capital Hattusa finally being destroyed around 1170 B.C.E. in that wave of unrest commonly blamed on the so-called Sea Peoples (said unrest including the fall of Troy).

The Hittite religion was one that had no problem at all incorporating the Deities of surrounding cultures into its own, which means Goddesses like the Babylonian Ereshkigal and Ishtar (called Shauska by the Hittites) found their way into Hittite mythology. The Hittites called their Deities "The Thousand Gods," which sounds about right considering that we presently know more than eight hundred of Their names. (The Hittite chapter promises to be a long one in the Obscure Goddess Online Directory).

The best known tale of Kamrusepas involves Her role in helping the agriculture God Telipinu to cheer up and be brought back into the fold.

One morning Telipinu got up on the wrong side of the bed, the Hittite version of that being literally that He put His right shoe on His left foot, and His left shoe on His right. Telpinu stormed off to the moors, leaving the steppes barren. Without Him, nothing grew, neither woman nor animal became pregnant, those who were already pregnant were not able to give birth, and the land was gripped in a famine.

Faced with this terrible situation, the Gods searched for Telipinu but could not find Him. Then the Sun God sent an eagle; no luck. The Storm God Himself looked; but He had no luck either. Finally Hannahanna, the old Mother Goddess (Her name means "Grandmother Grandmother") sent a bee, though the Storm God didn't think much of the idea and told Her so. The little bee, however, did locate Telipinu, who was deep in sleep; the bee's method of waking the God, however, by stinging Him on His hands and feet, shockingly did not much improve Telipinu's mood. When He returned to the Gods then He was even angrier than before, and scattered thunder and lightning before Him.

But then Kamrusepas came, and removed His anger, wrath, and sullenness by performing an elaborate ritual of banishing and cleansing. She commanded Telipinu's anger to become sterile, like malt; to be extinguished, as fire; to be let go, as water drains out a pipe and does not flow back uphill; to be pulled from Him, as the hawthorn tree pulls tufts of fur from oxen and sheep who pass under it; and finally, to descend into the Dark Earth and never come back, just as the Dead do not return.

This worked and Telipinu came back to His senses; and the world returned to fruitfulness.

In another (fragmentary) myth, Kamrusepas removed illness by performing the "spell of the fire," apparently by transferring the illness to some wheat, then burning it so the illness is "overcome" by both heaven and the Dark Earth.

In the myths Kamrusupas is a powerful Goddess Who heals Telipinu after the efforts of the other Gods' fail. When I first heard about Her, it was through one line in Goddesses in World Mythology (by Martha Ann and Dorothy Myers Imel), which states that She is a healing Goddess Who "can cure paralysis by 'loosening that which is bound.'" Hence my depiction of Her teasing out Her braid, in parallel with the way Witches are said to be more powerful when our hair is unbound. I have not been able to find the original reference to this power, though I suspect it has something to do with the myth of Hahhimas, or Frost personified, Who goes through the land inflicting paralysis and causing things to stop or become stuck. (The version in my new Hittite Myths book does not mention Her in the context of this story.)

At any rate Kamrusepas is a healer and powerful worker of magic. If indeed it is She Who loosens the paralysis of winter, Who thaws Frost out of existence with Her warmth, Her appearance just after the Winter Solstice would seem to be a little early, in this part of the world anyway where Winter has just begun. But perhaps She is part of the message that though the northern part of the Earth is gripped in cold and will be for some time, the Sun is now daily strengthening.

In many cultures this week marks the last week of the year, a natural time to take stock of where we have been in the past and where we wish to go in the future. She may also be calling for us to banish old grudges or old anger, or to prepare and purify ourselves for the new year, so that we truly can make a fresh start.

When I asked Her what She had to say to the world She said:

Focus on healing yourselves. You cannot expect to be able to heal others if you are not yourself healthy. You have a duty to attend to yourself first. Find the root of true health for yourself, what it looks like to you; do not get caught up in superficial aspects of "health." Take care of yourself now, and take care of yourself well.

I'd be tempted to interpret that as a warning against the superficial nature of most New Year's resolutions: I think She is saying that it is not healthy to, for example, resolve to lose weight while ignoring that one is not eating properly. A holistic approach to the foundations of our own health and our own healing is what is necessary.

What do you think?

For more information on Kamrusepas, go here.


Unknown said...

Good morning, Thalia.

I gave some thought on the healing subject. I think it has a lot to do with this Season moment... The way people think that these parties are for eating like a pig or getting presents they do not need.

I feel that we do have to focus on us... on what we need for real.

I am gathering energy around me, in order to make myself stronger!

The best 2009 to you, dear Thalia!

DarklyFey said...

I am eagerly awaiting the release of the Goddess Oracle so I, too, can pull a goddess of the week. :) Your images are so inspiring, Thalia. Thank you for sharing them with us!

Thalia said...

You are welcome, DarklyFey, and hint taken.

Thank you, Pietra, best 2009 to you too.

I think one thing bad economic times do is force us to confront the difference between what we need and what we want. In that way I suppose it can be an opportunity. Not that it is anything less than a misery to those already at a point where they are just surviving, which is maybe more people than we think. I don't know.

But knowing who you are is the first step towards knowing what you truly need (and want).

I do agree (if that is where you were going with this) that we are far too fixated on possessing and owning more and more and more and that it is doing a huge amount of harm to the planet. I don't think, though, that there is necessarily anything wrong with eating like a pig, or getting (or giving) lots of presents once in a while. Everything in moderation, including moderation, right?