In order to indicate the passage of time and distance in our story, we tend to walk the circular form of the temple. The third ritual drama began with Shamhat giving Enkidu one of her own scarlet robes and leading him towards the great walled city of Uruk, where he was determined to confront its king, Gilgamesh. In this instance, the circuits indicated something else too; for the first two, Shamhat led the erstwhile wild man towards his destiny… but on the third circuit, he took the lead.
The symbolism is subtle… one of the many minor details to which we attend, but which we do not expect everyone to notice. During the workshop, there are many symbols woven, almost invisibly, into the dramatic tapestry. They do not need to be acknowledged… or even noticed… to add depth and colour to what we are portraying. When Shamhat steps back and Enkidu takes the lead, you could simply see it as his haste to reach Gilgamesh leading his feet. You might also see it as the ‘child’ becoming a man… for Shamhat, as a representative of the Divine Feminine, has served as Mother to the nascent personality. You might also, given that the masculine powers now rule the land, see in this a symbol of the moment when patriarchy comes to the fore.
Nowhere is this male dominance more clearly seen than when we find the bride cowering in the marriage chamber, her husband banished to wait while the Lord of Uruk takes as his right that which should be freely given in love. But Gilgamesh finds his way barred by Enkidu. The ‘right’ is challenged and the two mighty men fight, while Shamhat spirits away the bride and restores her to her husband.
Neither can prevail…they are, though they do not know it, two halves of a whole; in many ways, a truer marriage than any made by Man. They call a truce; Enkidu demands that Gilgamesh forfeit his right to the marriage beds of his people. The King demands that Enkidu become his brother in arms.
Many battles they fight side by side, assuring the safety of the realm and its people. Many adventures they share until all foes are vanquished. Except, it seems, one final threat to the kingdom. Gilgamesh has heard of a demon that roams the Cedar Forest and decides that he must be slain. The demon, says Gilgamesh, is called Humbaba. Will Enkidu join him on this final mission to slay the demon?
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