Thursday, 28 July 2016


For those of you unlucky enough not to be on the Raven Mailing List, and who therefore miss out on our Newsletter, here is an extract from an article on Sun Deities from our July 2016 issue


     Possibly even older than Ra is the god who was worshipped by the Akkadians and later Assyrian and Babylonians, Shamash.
    The main symbol of Shamash is a winged sun disc (the Egyptians had a similar symbol to represent Ra).
     Originally it was the moon deity who had precedence as the chief of all the gods, and it is speculated that this was because to nomadic peoples the moon and stars are more important as measures of time and indicators of direction. Once people became settled farmers then the solar deities became the powerful ones.
     Shamash is the son of the Moon god Nannar, which might also indicate the supreme power changing from moon to sun. He rides a chariot across the sky, driven by his charioteer, Bunene.
     Shamash is God of Justice, as the sun dispels darkness, so Shamash sheds light on a situation and brings the powers of justice to bear. As he dispels physical darkness, he also dispels the darkness of the soul and banishes demons and evil spirits. As illness was believed to be caused by the actions of evil spirits, it was Shamash who was prayed to for relief from the demons of illness.
     In later times he amalgamated other solar deities into himself - as Ra also can be seen to be both Ra, Kephera and Horus, who yet can be viewed as deities in their own right. So Shamash became thought of as part of a trinity with Ninurta being the Sun God of the Sunrise and Spring time, and Nergal the Sun God of midday and the Summer Solstice. In the same way as Ra aged, so did Shamash, becoming more the God of the Sunset who passed through the Underworld at night and was reborn at dawn.
     Yet even while he was in the Underworld, Shamash carried out his role as God of law and order, becoming the judge of the spirits of the dead.

Shamash, Great Lord, Merciful God
Who hears prayer, who grants life
On the servant who reverences you, have mercy.

Prayer to Shamash from a cylinder seal.

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