Sunday, July 22, 2012
The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Book of Job and several Psalms in the Hebrew Bible echo the dark and dreary Mesopotamian/Canaanite view of death. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh’s beloved friend Enkidu receives a premonition of his death in a dream. He describes his immanent fate to Gilgamesh. This passage can be found in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ANET), 1950, p. 87, but a more lay-friendly version is found in The Epic of Gilgamesh by N. K. Sandars, Penguin, 1983.
“As Enkidu slept alone in his sickness, in bitterness of spirit he poured out his heart to his friend. ‘It was I who cut down the cedar, who leveled the forest, I who slew Humbaba and now see what has become of me. Listen, my friend, this is the dream I dreamed last night. The heavens roared, and earth rumbled back an answer; between them stood I before an awful being, the somber-faced man-bird; he had directed on me his purpose. His was a vampire face, his foot was a lion’s foot, his hand was an eagle’s talon. He fell on me and his claws were in my hair, he held me fast and I smothered; then he transformed me so that my arms became wings covered with feathers. He turned his stare towards me, and he led me away to the palace of Irkalla, the Queen of Darkness, to the house from which none who enters ever returns, down the road from which there is no coming back.’”
The legend tells us that the people there, including the kings of the earth, sit in darkness, eating dust and clay. The kings are servants now. Priests, acolytes, temple servers, all shared the same fate. Eresh-Kigal is the Queen of the Netherworld, and Belit-Sheri is the recorder who keeps the book of death. Enkidu awoke in terror. He began to sicken and eventually die. Gilgamesh, who was two-thirds god and one-third man (ANET 88), could do nothing to help, and in fact, became terrified of death himself.
Gilgamesh went on a quest to find eternal life. This gift was denied him, but, in some renditions of the legend (actually a later appendage), he did have one more opportunity to communicate with his friend. Gilgamesh lost a magic drum and drumstick into the Netherworld, so he sent his good buddy there to rescue it. But the Netherworld would not let Enkidu return to earth. Turning to ANET (pp. 98, 99) we read, (and I’m going to smooth this passage out a little),
“Father Ea did intercede for him (Gilgamesh) in the matter. He said to Nergal, the valiant hero: O valiant hero, Nergal, open forthwith a hole in the earth that the spirit of Enkidu may ussue forth from the nether world, that to his brother he might tell the ways of the nether world. Nergal, the valiant hero, hearkened to Ea, forthwith he opened a hole in the earth. The spirit of Enkidu, like a wind-puff, issued forth from the nether world. They embraced and kissed each other. They exchanged counsel sighing at each other: ‘Tell me, my friend, tell me my friend, tell me the order of the nether world which thou hast seen.’
‘I shall not tell thee, I shall not tell thee. But if I tell thee the order of the nether world which I have seen, sit thou down and weep!’ ‘I will sit down and weep.’ ‘My body, which thou didst touch as thy heart rejoiced, vermin devour as though it was an old garment. My body, which thou didst touch as they heart rejoiced, is filled with dust.’ He cried ‘Woe!’ and threw himself in the dust, Gilgamesh cried ‘Woe!’ and threw himself in the dust.”
There are some mutilated lines here. Enkidu reveals the fate of several souls in the nether world. Some are able to drink water, others eat bread. But those who died on the field of battle and were not properly buried find no rest there. Those who have no family to offer libations for them can only eat “the lees of the pot, crumbs of bread, and offals of the street.”
OK, I know, the above legend is a figment of someone’s imagination. BUT the great guru of astral projection Robert Monroe had an experience in his ethereal wanderings that reminds me of that legend. As he became more and more adept at leaving his body, he kept a journal about what worked and what he saw. The result was three books. The first was Journeys Out of the Body, in which he describes various locales or levels. Level II is where many souls linger that have not resolved their attachment to desires and emotions. Being in that level unhinges both libido and emotions, so that it takes a lot of control not to partake in that environment. He tells us that it is not a pleasant place.
A friend of his died at the age of seventy, so Monroe went looking for him in the afterlife. He saw him as a young man of 22 talking excitedly about some scientific theory. Strangely enough, as Monroe stood in the doorway watching his friend, the atmosphere got hotter and hotter, until Monroe could no longer stand it. He had to leave without a satisfactory visit (p.107). That suggests to me that the friend was not really in a good place. Another of his friends died, and again Monroe went looking for him. In both cases, an unseen hand guided Monroe to the correct site.
“After about an hour of preparation, I finally made it out of the physical, and began to travel rapidly through what seemed to be nothing but darkness. I was mentally shouting Agnew Bahnson!, again and again as I traveled.
Suddenly, I stopped, or was stopped. I was in a rather dark room. Someone was holding me very still in a standing position. After a moment of waiting, a cloud of white gas seemed to blow up through a small hole in the floor. The cloud took form, and someone told me it was Mr. Bahnson, although I could not see him too well, or identify his features. He spoke immediately in an excited and happy way.
‘Bob, you’ll never believe all the things that have happened since I’ve been here.’ There was no more. At a signal from someone, the cloud of white gas lost its human form and seemed to recede back into the hole in the floor” (p. 112).
Monroe put his best interpretation on these scenarios, but the fact is that there is a growing mountain of evidence that many crossing over into death see gardens, meadows, beautiful colors, relatives who are easy to recognize, buildings, animals, streams, rivers, etc. A cloud of white gas coming up from a hole in the floor into a dim room does not sound auspicious to me, no matter what the voice said.
Monroe traveled through many threatening and confusing regions in his astral projections. There were sexually seducing spirits, threatening entities whose territories had to be passed through with great care, and lost souls who needed rescued. He met spirit guides who assured him that there were no angels, no demons, no heaven, no hell, no God (e.g. p. 116). Not once does he stop to question the veracity of the things that he saw and heard over there. He doesn’t consider that uncountable numbers of people have seen angels, demons, God, Jesus, heaven, hell, and even foreign gods sitting on thrones. He is certainly not the only mortal who has gone into death’s dimension and returned to tell about it. (There are too many books on NDE’s to even mention here.) He never stops to ask the question, could my friend have gone to hell? And if my friends have gone there, am I really exempt?
Almost everyone who has received some guidance from another dimension totally trusts the guide. If it’s paranormal, it has to be true. Other people might be sucked into a huge deception, but not me. I’m special and wise, called to be a messenger of truth.
Think about it this way. If you, as an untrained, unprofessional spy, decided to go off to Europe and look for traitors and enemies of your country, how long would it take for the real spies to turn you inside out and eat your liver? Not long, I would guess. And those guys are amateurs compared to demonic entities who are cut off from all goodness. They are the enemies of all mankind. We cannot withstand our enemies if we don’t understand them.