GILGAMESH AND THE HULUPPU-TREE . Inanna tended the, tree carefully and lovingly, After ten years had passed and the tree had matured, Inanna. Directed by Molly Axtmann. With Owen Everett, Ariel Schrag, Anna Sochynsky. Enki is the patron god of music and arts. Inanna stole the power of music. Once upon a time, a tree, a huluppu, a tree –; It had been planted on the bank of the.

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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. One Way of Demoting a Great Goddess [1. One Way of Demoting a Great Goddess[1] by Johanna Stuckey As a result of her control of fecundity and her centrality in the “Sacred Marriage,” Inanna kept her high standing among the Sumerian deities even as society increased in male-dominance Wakeman The poem “Inanna and the Huluppu Tree” gives a mythic explanation of how the throne and the bed used in the “Sacred Marriage” came into existence and, in the process, records a drastic demotion in Inanna’s status.

From a relief vessel found at Story Mari. Dated around B. Beaulieu, after Wolkstein and Kramer A violent storm uprooted a huluppu poplar? Inanna rescued it and planted it in her “sacred grove” at Uruk Frayne She waited for it to get large enough to be made into a chair and a bed. Unfortunately, three creatures settled in the tree: Unable to rid herself of these intruders, tearful Inanna requested her brother Utu, the sun god, to help.

He refused, but Gilgamesh, Uruk’s warrior king, did not. After the heavily armed hero “smote” the snake, the others fled.

Inanna – Wikipedia

Gilgamesh cut down the tree, took the branches for himself, and gave the trunk to Inanna. Analysis Inanna rescued the huluppu tree at the Perhaps the huluppu time of beginnings, anc what was was the World Tree, needful had first come forth.

Perhaps the huluppu was the World Tree, which connects heaven, earth, and underworld Campbell In other mythologies, the World Tree usually has a serpent in its roots and often a bird in its branches Campbell Anyway, the huluppu flourished in juluppu Inanna’s fruitful garden” in the sanctuary at Uruk Kramer Many ancient precincts had sacred groves complete with sacred hluuppu.

In male-dominated Mesopotamia, a king usually held the title “Gardener” Widegren Indeed, gardening and plowing could be metaphors for taking the male part in sexual intercourse. For example, in one Sumerian love poem Inanna sings of her vulva, her “uncultivated land,” and asks, hulyppu will plow it? Metaphorically, then, the fertile grove is the goddess, particularly her womb, her vulva. In the huluppu poem, however, the garden, the womb, was “fruitful” in and of itself.

Inanna did no more than tamp the tree into place with her foot and water it with her foot! Clearly, her garden did not yet have a gardener, a plowman to plow it, to control its fertility.

Not surprisingly, in a world where a gardener was beginning to be necessary for ordered and controlled cultivation, untended plants had to be incapable of normal progress. So the tree acquired what, in a male-dominated world garden, wombwould have been considered parasites. Also, snakes had connections with earth and fecundity goddesses Henshaw Indeed, these beings of earth and underworld often lived under such goddesses’s shrines.


Snakes are also boundary creatures, able to move in several elements. They often live at wells and springs, entrances to the netherworld.

Interestingly, Inanna tended the tree with her foot, her roots. Could the snake have been Inanna’s underworld self? The Anzu was an eagle-like, powerful bird-monster with a lion’s head. When it flapped its wings, it caused whirlwinds and other kinds of storms. Inanna may also have had some connection with storms, making the bird’s presence understandable Williams-Forte Detail of a relief plaque from Girsu, Beaulieu, after Kramer and Wolkstein In the larger view of image branches of Inanna’s tree, the bird was also at the boundary between earth and sky.

It too was able to move across thresholds. Is it possible that the Anzu was Inanna’s heavenly self? From Mesopotamian writings going back into the third millennium BCE comes evidence of spirits like the one in the tree trunk Hutter Lilu demons manipulated “stormy winds,” and the lilitu could fly like a bird. They also had negative sexual characteristics, especially the females.

Unmarried, they roamed about looking for men to ensnare, and they got into buildings through windows.

The Huluppa Tree

The lilitu sounds very much like Inanna and Ishtar, Inanna’s Semitic counterpart. Ishtar “stands at the window looking for a man in order to seduce him, love him and kill him” Hutter Inanna too displayed herself provocatively in windows and doors Jacobsen Such paralleling of independent women and demons suggests that, in increasingly patriarchal culture, Inanna’s independence was slowly being isolated from her other characteristics, and annd hard-to-assimilate independence was assigned to two separate functions: The prostitute was useful, if marginalized, and the demon was feared and rejected.

The fact that many translators render the word lilitu as “Lilith” may indirectly support such a theory Kramer The lilitu was antecedent to Lilith, the first wife of Adam, vilified in later Jewish texts Ausubel According to Raphael Patai, an image on a Babylonian baked- clay plaque, dated as “roughly contemporary with the [huluppu-tree] poem,” depicts a lilitu Patai He thought that the nude figure, standing on lions and flanked by owls, was a night goddess and lady of wild animals.

However, she wears the multi-horned crown and carries the ring-and-rod symbol of power Henshaw She is most unlikely to be merely a lilitu.

Rather inanha is the goddess Inanna with the wings and the death-dealing talons of an owl? Beaulieu, after Neumann Plate Above the line are deities and human worshipers, while below it are “demonic creatures.

This seal provides another part of Inanna’s nature. Not only does its arrangement present the goddess’s duality — of both of the upper world and the underworld — but it suggests that she joins the two.

The Huluppu Tree/Gilgamesh XII

Like the huluppu tree, she stands with feet, roots, in the underworld and head, branches, in the heavens, her body, the trunk, joining them. She herself could be interpreted as the “cosmic tree of life” and death Campbell When Gilgamesh had disposed of the huluppu tree’s inhabitants, he uprooted it, thus eliminating, finally, any natural connection between earth and underworld.


The institution of kingship had appropriated it and, with the furniture, Inanna herself. What is more, the poem presents her as willingly co-operating in her own demotion. Both she and the furniture would henceforth serve a male monarchy in a male- dominated society. In this way, society was able to circumscribe her and direct her undoubted power into channels that would be useful to the male-dominated city. Sacred Tree, Horned Goddess, and Priest ess.

Dated about B. The subject, the sacred destroying of the huluppu tree meant World Tree, had, over that human beings could no longer count the centuries, been on Inanna hupuppu the World Tree to reshaped into limited maintain the cycle of life and death. The old cyclical goddess herself was co- understanding of death as merely one opted into seeing this stage in the eternal round of birth, death, limited role as powerful.

The seemingly innocent poem “Inanna and the Huluppu Tree,” then, constitutes hulupup androcentric account of the reasons for Inanna’s involvement in the “Sacred Marriage,” both as herself and as furniture.

It shows well how myth can be remade to serve ideology! A powerful goddess subject, the sacred World Tree, had, over the centuries, been reshaped into limited goddess objects, a bed and a throne, while the goddess herself was co-opted inajna seeing this limited role as powerful. Independent Inanna had become feminine, a woman reliant on males to get her out of trouble.

The extant poem probably echoes an earlier story, one in which Inanna and the World Tree had very different roles. We can only imagine what they were. This column represents a shortening, rewriting, and updating of my article on hluppu same topic which appeared anf Feminist Poetics of the Sacred: Oxford University Press, Elsewhere in Mesopotamian myth, a goddess who created hulyppu without the assistance of a male partner gave birth only to aberrations: Ti’amat, who, with her male consort Apsu, produced all the other gods, gave birth to only monsters after her consort’s demise Heidel This pattern also occurs in mythologies of other cultures, for example, that of ancient Greece: For inznna, the snake who stole the plant of youth from Gilgamesh lived in or near a spring Foster The Sumerians called her ki-sikil-lil-la, in Semitic Akkadian, w ardat-lilla or ardat-lili; both phrases mean “Young Woman Spirit” Douglas Frayne, personal communication, 10 December A drawing of this seal was published in the Beltane issue, It is ironic that Gilgamesh was the hewer-down of the huluppu tree, for, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, he is so appalled by inannw and the netherworld that he undertakes a quest for immortality Foster Bibliography Ausubel, Nathan, ed.

Gilgamesh Epic, Tablet 12

A Treasury of Jewish Folklore. The Masks of God: Campbell, Joseph The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Chicago Assyrian Dictionary The Epic of Gilgamesh. In the Wake of the Goddesses: The Book of Genesis.