Nu Gig

I am the Cup which holds Eternity
    All others Cups.
      Have their Source in Me.

                           - Nu Gig Prayer -

Many a fall season has passed since I came to Uruk, Seven children have I bore for Momma Ki. Three are my handmaidens, they will dance in the streets of Uruk, and accept the temple offerings in their own time. Two were chosen to serve Momma-Ki in the fields and live with a woman who lost her fertility after baring her first son. Two were sons, who live at the temple of An.

Seven more have nursed at my breast, for if a woman's milk will not flow, her child is brought to the temple for the first year, and nursed by a priestess. Seven wonderful children, whom I love as dearly as those who returned to us through my own womb. I believe one of them a boy child named for Enki, will someday marry my own Daughter, Nemina, the love is strong between them and has been always.

In the fall of my 30th year a man came ...

Came to the temple to make his offering. I was in the Sacred Bridal Suite as fit the enPriestess of Ki, yes I was well favored by the Goddess in that time. My handmaidens where applying my makeup, caressing me with lovely perfumed oils, combing and dressing my hair, and giggling like young girls on the verge of womanhood.

"Oh have you seen him."

"Seen who" I said, I cannot leave the temple before dusk on a day we accept offerings, so I could not have seen anyone.

"Oh no-one, just a Prince, just the Most Handsome Prince you've ever seen."

" I've seen a Prince of Two" I chided. More than one Alliance between Uruk and its neighbors had been cemented on my bed. It is my duty to Ki, to be her living bridge between the Goddess and the Priest Kings of our neighbors to the North, through our flesh are the Gods joined as one. It is my delight as well.

"Not like this one!" I was told, "Handsome and Broad chested as Gilgimesh himself."

"The same Gilgimesh who rebuked Innana? Its rude to name him here." I said.

"Oh but Innana wanted him! And when you see him reborn in the temple, you will want him too."

And so it went on as Uttu sank in the sky. My maids where very excited and would talk of nothing else but this lovely man. And I, of course I was intrigued by the thought that the man who would share my bed tonight was likened to Gilgimesh! First King of Uruk.

Well sunset finally came. The shadow on the sundial melted into nothing, Uttu gone home to rest, and only the fading twilight remained. As enPriestess I led the Priestesses out of the inner temple, to where the men would make their offerings.

The men waited at the foot of the temple steps. Each had knelt in prayer at the foot of the steps for some time. Some only an hour or so, but most had knelt in prayer since noon, their offerings on the first step in front of them. And "Gilgimesh" was there for all to see. A Lion of a Man, A lovely man, Mountain born, with a great pile of gifts before him on the first step. Honey, Wine, Ale and Gold. He had taken pride of place among the men. On the center of the stair directly in the path of the procession. He was obviously very wealthy, handsome, noble, and harbored no doubt that as enPriestess I would take his hand and lead him into the inner temple.

But Ki did not agree.

I have served my Goddess long and well. I feel her every nudge, I hear her softest whisper. A much older man, with a rugged weathered face, and a much more humble gift waited in silent prayer far to the left of the stair. Yet I knew as sure as I know my own name, I was to lay with him tonight. I came to him, knelt down close by him, and as is the custom offered him my cup. A silver cup, filled with cold pure water from the inner temple. The men pray for hours in the heat of the sun, so the Water Gift is most welcome when they receive it from us.

I don't know who was more astonished, the older man looking up into the eyes of the enPriestess of Ki, or Gilgimesh who was offered the cup of another priestess, or myself secretly in my own bosom, but I do not question the ways of Ki, and no line on my face betrayed my own surprise.

He drank deeply from my cup and returned it to me. This simple act is so richly symbolic for us, for in this small act is truly is the very essence of my life. I offer the devotee my cup, "The Cup of Delight" for is truly what it is to be a Nu Gig, a cup bearer. The devotee drinks of the cup of delight, and returns it to the priestess, who drinks of the cup herself, and we drain the cup together. As we share the cup on the steps of the temple we will share on the sacred Marriage bed, I will be the cup that holds the delight Ki has offered, and together again we will drain the cup of delight.

Smiling I accept the cup from this rather stunned man, as I had from so many others. Closing my eyes I drank deeply of the cup, and so we passed it between us till it was drained. Then he accepted my hand and accompanied me into the inner temple.

He was much to old to have never known a woman, but seemed oddly shy about touching me when we reached the sacred bridal suite. I caressed him, offered him a stronger drink, and gently asked him about this...

"I am sorry, it is Four years this new moon, since my wife passed through Kur and Joined Innana in the Heavens, and I have known no woman since, and now I feel clumsy like a boy just come of age."

"You will find we have not changed much, some of us have come into our womanhood, some touched our prime, some have ceased bleeding and entered the service of the dark moon, but the wheel continues as it always does, and woman remains woman." With that thought I turned his lips to mine and kissed him, pulled him into my arms and onto my bed, and we began to pet. He was a little clumsy, but it was coming back to him. As his confidence returned to him he entered me, as his head pushed deep inside, and his shaft filled me, I shuddered and savored a moment of bliss.

The time had come to call Ki into myself. Although he knew, as all the men know, that I would call her, I think the deep resonating song of the call surprised him a little. Still he held me close and kept grinding deep and firm inside me, even as I felt Ki's magnificent energy and presence. Ki rising up from the stones, filling my limbs with fire, and singing in my mind. Once again, I was one with my Goddess.

And then in an instant, I saw his life.

I saw him, Shara, working, year in and year out in the fields. Saw him as small boy and a young man. Smiling his finger tips caressing the rich black earth of the floods. I saw him toiling to maintain, and repair the canals the divert that flood water to the fields each season.

I saw him singing to Ki, over and over I saw him singing to Ki.

I will not say I did not see him labor, for to work in the fields is fiercely hard labor. Yet for Shara it was a labor of love. He might not be able to bring life forth from his own womb, but he could coax it from the earth. This was a man in love with life. He loved his fields, he loved his orchards, he never killed a living thing he did not have to down to the insects. He saw, as we all strive to see, Ki expressed in each and every living thing. From the most beautiful stag, to the Carrion birds, and I knew just why she had me chose him.

I wrapped my arms around his neck, my legs around his waist, and one with Ki, we loved him with wild abandon.

In the morning, I knew I had a choice, I could leave the temple with Shara and be his wife, or stay. I meditated on that choice deep into the morning till Uttu peaked in the sky. Then I went to Shara.

"Momma-Ki, has told me you are to be offered a great gift. One of the Priestesses who is ready to leave the temple, she is to be your bride. I will take you to the inner temple where you will meet them, and the dream-seer will chose your bride."

"And what of you? I too heard Ki, Ki telling me I must take care of you always. She has often sang with me in the fields. Surely I did not hear her wrong."

"You did not, she gave me the choice to go with you, as she is now giving the choice to another. If I could leave the temple with any man, I would leave with you, but do understand my place is here and always will be."

"As my place is in the fields."

"Indeed it is, I saw much in my mind last night, you are deeply in Ki's favor, and it was my sacred honor to be your Nu Gig."

Then Shara took my hand and pressed me close to him by the small of my back, all shyness gone his confidance returned to him. He said, "Please before we go to the other Priestesses, lay with me one more time, simply as man and woman, and not Goddess and God."

Now it was my turn to be shy, for I had never known a man without invoking Ki, but my flesh was tembling and I could not say no to him. I brushed my garment from one shoulder exposing the breast, pulled his lips to my bosom, and drank deep from the cup of delight. Shara embraced me, and pleased me, then lifted me easily in his strong arms and returned me to the Sacred Marriage bed. There he entered me again. I was chanting his name without thinking, clutching him close. I felt his seed hot in me once more. He was smiling so.

"I ... I have no skills of the farm, I can barely cook, and my handmaidens undo all my mending and resow it in secret, I was born to be a Nu Gig, the temple is all I know."

"I have done all these things myself these past 4 years Rebecca, I can do all these things on my own, but I remain alone. The sweet companionship of a wife, that I cannot give myself, please Ki told you to return with me, listen to her, for your place is at my side now."

"Truly she did, and I have always been true to my ladies guidance." I took his face in my hands and kissed him. "This evening we will be wed and tonight, with you, I will lie on the sacred temple bed one last time, and in the morning Uruk will have a new enPriestess."

Ama tu ANKI.

I tend to write in layers, with each layer of the story grows in detail, as I hear Rebecca more clearly, connect to her more fully, understand her intention better. This story presented me with a unique problem, in that it seemed to have two endings. In the first Rebecca remains at the temple. While in the Alternative she leaves with Shara to become his wife. It was not until I realized that what I thought of as another story bouncing around in my head at the same time, actually framed this one, that I understood completely what she was telling me.

In the End Rebecca remains with the temple true to the only life she can truely see her self living, and the only other soul she can truely love. Melissa -

This ending then is Rebecca's vision of what might have been, if she made the choice however reluctantly to leave the temple, but in my Heart, I now know she didn't.

Ama tu ANKI, BB

I doubt any one idea in the scholarship of the Ancient World grates on my nerves quite like the misunderstanding the Judeo/Christian Academia has of the Nu Gig Priestesses who served Ki, Innana, Ishtar, and Aprodite across the millenia. Totally unable to grasp the beauty of a thing that lies so far outside their Patriarchal and Puritanical concepts of morality, they write off the Nu Gig Priestesses as Sacred Prostitutes, blithely ignoring the Oxymoron and oblivious to the notion that the disrespect they attach to the word prositute should be screaming to them, they could not be more wrong.

I am not an academic, I don't have all the right little letters behind my name, I am just a humble story teller, who was a Nu Gig in a previous life. So this is not history, not in the dug out of the clay tablets history, but I think you will find it rings true in a way any "History" you have ever read does not.

Ama tu ANKI, BB.