Baal's Cedar: Natib Qadish, Canaanite Religion
Natib Qadish, a polytheistic religion which reveres the Canaanite deities, is based on ancient culture and the cuneiform texts found at the city of Ugarit. The Canaanites lived 3200 years ago in the areas of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine.
I share articles and commentary rooted in polytheistic, Near Eastern, Levantine, Middle Eastern, Anatolian, and Natib Qadish perspectives. I teach about the deities, festivals, cultures, divination, magic, divination, and beliefs.
A Dream of a Babylonian Moon God
Day 14 Ra'shu Yeni (month), Shanatu 84 (year)*
One morning I dreamed of three dark moons, a cuneiform stele, and the face of the god Sin reflected in the moon’s shadows. I debated on releasing this dream for public perusal, but upon realizing that I had the dream on a new moon and a solar eclipse, I decided others should have the opportunity to read about it. I am a devotee of the Canaanite pantheon, and I find it odd that I should receive communication from the Babylonian moon god Sin, and the very dream itself was unusual.
I dreamed I was in a small city near the city center or a park. The entire dreamscape swept before me in subdued colors, as if a grey filter had been put over the image, when I usually dream in vivid color. It looked like a stylized modern film noir. There was a large stone stele--like a huge flat tablet--in the park.
Either I had discovered it or it was brought to my attention. Someone (singular or plural) wanted me to try to read it for they knew of my familiarity with Ugaritic and I happened to be there. The stele was not in Ugaritic, but Akkadian, a related but different language. A crowd of curious people had gathered around. This discovery excited me and I was delighted that I should take first crack at it, though I knew I hadn’t the expertise of others. It was like being invited to a private film screening.
Though I do not read Akkadian, I was able to read this almost fluently, as if it were in English. The stele which had lain on the ground was brought to an upright position, restored, as it were, to its former glory. But I was so engrossed in the reading that I barely noticed. Indeed, I found I was sitting in a padded waiting-room chair which had been brought out for me and the chair floated. I began to wonder how I was reading the stele’s top while sitting on a chair on the ground. I leaned back a little in the chair and sent it off-balance. I ended up on the ground very softly: it didn’t hurt and didn’t frighten me. The stele was then beneath me as a photograph-like image printed on a gargantuan cloth sheet, but it was still the same stele, and I knew to treat it with the same respect. After being on the soft stele and reading for a while, it turned back into the stone stele I had seen before: none of these changes seemed the least bit important, and I was consumed by reading the text.
As I read, I became aware that the stele was about a deity’s phallus, extolling its life-giving virtues, and I realized that the stele was vaguely phallic-shaped, though flat like a regular stele. It had a pair of decorative lines across near the top. Other than that, I did not see any adornment on the stele, which is odd considering it was written in Akkadian and had been completely filled with writing. Often they have some form of bas relief at the top, even if the writing goes through the art. As I read, I noted that the stele seemed for the moon-god Sin. In a brief moment of dream-lucidity, I consciously wondered why this wasn’t a dream about the Canaanite moon god Yarikh. My lucid consciousness was quickly disallowed as if short-circuited by an outside source.
I had been reading the stele’s words aloud in English, but muttering, and only the few people nearest me could really hear much of what I was saying, so I turned around and addressed the crowd and gave them a summary of the stele’s content. It was then that either someone pointed out the moon in the sky or I caught sight of it. The day was painted in the same greys as the city, and the moon was up during the day. The moon and the sky resembled a negative photo image. The sky was pale grey and the moon was dark. I saw two other moon shapes depressed like thumbprints in clay atop the original image of the one moon, like three shadow moons: one large and dark, the other two side-by-side across the first, but smaller and darker. It was spectacular. I assumed I was watching some sort of eclipse or astronomical phenomenon. I figured there must have been a solar eclipse going on at the same time, plus some refraction of water crystals in the air or something to produce such a strange image. The assembled crowd became still and silent, and people fidgeted.
I looked further for the “man in the moon” shapes but instead of seeing them, I saw a head, a neck, and shoulders. The head wore a crescent atop his head or his brow, with the tips of the crescent pointing up, away from his face. I do not believe that he was bearded in this image. The image was beautiful, and I felt privileged to see it, however, I still had a feeling of academic curiosity and detachment from what I was seeing. The face looked right at me, into my eyes, and seemed serene if mildly unhappy. The unhappiness did not seem to be directed towards me, but indicated to me a current and overall state-of-being; I had gotten the feeling that I had done well. I had not seen him before and he didn’t look familiar to me, nor did he feel familiar.
The face looked at the rest of the people and seemed quite angry: indeed the face frowned and the brow furrowed so deeply it was almost like seeing a mask. The people asked me who it was, for some of them (but I’m not sure if all of them) could see it. I told them to meet the moon god Sin who had been mentioned in the stele I had just read to them. I felt a sense of foreboding, but that I was not involved in whatever would befall.
Even though the dream had an entire huge stele devoted to a god’s phallus, there was nothing sexual about the dream. The stele indicated the life-giving properties, moisture, fertility, and virility, all of which typically come with this symbol, but it also mentioned the power and the strength. I recall the stele’s message also ventured into the absurd such as the phallus’s fine-shapedness, and perhaps the ability to urinate while standing. However, the dream seemed centered on the god’s very personal representation of strength: a common metaphor. In the dream, he was letting me know his power, and I believe asking me to keep my eyes open and communicate his message.
I woke up that day knowing that whatever I did in the day, I must write all this down before forgetting it, for the dream seemed like a potent message; perhaps even an omen. That I had this dream on the evening of a new moon seems that much more important. Seeing three moons, or three bright moon shapes indicates rain in Canaanite omen texts, but I saw three dark moons in a Babylonian context. I burned a light benzoin-camphor incense in honor of Sin shortly after this entry.
I am still waiting to understand the dream further...
*This date reflects a date in the Canaanite calendar according to Ugaritic texts from 1200 BCE. The month name is Ra'shu Yeni, which means "new wine," and it is the seventh day since the new moon. The year 84 refers to when archaeologists rediscovered the city of Ugarit and our sacred texts back in 1928 of the secular calendar. Our previous holiday was on the full moon yesterday, the holiday of 'Ashuru Rashu Yeni, the Festival of New Wine. Our next holiday falls on the new moon before autumnal equinox, and that holiday is 'Ashuru Mathbati, also spelled 'Ashuru Mothbati, the Festival of Dwellings, which falls on September 15, 2012 of the secular calendar. The coming holiday is our new year.
Image notes: photo is my own, I took it during the "Super Moon" this year and tweaked it in photo shop to resemble something of what I had seen in the dream. Please do not copy without permission.
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