Enki, a supreme god in Mesopotamian mythology, was worshipped as the god of water and the Lord of the Earth. He was known to the Akkadians as Ea. He is also one of the members of the triads of deities, together with Anu and Enlil.
You should acknowledge the other power of Enki as he was adored as the creator or the one who made men helpers and slaves of the gods. Having been regarded as a creator, Enki is represented by semen and amniotic fluid, which solidified his image of fertility.
Who Is Enki?
Enki or Ea was an omnipotent god who oversees all men as the creator of the universe. With his prominence, people from all walks of life came to him for favor and prayers. Born to Ahu and Ki, Enki is the Lord of the Earth and is also in charge of the seas, similar to Poseidon in Greek mythology.
His wife was Damgalnunna, who bore him several children, including Marduk, Asarluhi, Enbilulu, Nanse, and Adapa. His name, Enki, is translated into two parts. En means lord, and Ki refers to the earth. Simply put, his name means “the Lord of the Earth.” His other name, Ea, is possibly translated as life and spring, such that Ea denotes the Spring of Life or House of Water.
– The Myriad of Roles of Enki
Enki had several manifestations, such as the esteemed god of creation, incantation, arts, crafts, cleaners, and purification. He possesses many skills to assist people, but the most important of all of his powers is to bring forth life.
Meanwhile, his Akkadian counterpart, Ea, is the god of ritual purification. Hence, the water he uses for cleansing is baptized as Ea’s Water. Interestingly, Ea is also the god of magic, sorcery, crafts, and artists.
Known for his wisdom, Ea has been recognized for his wise counsel to kings. You won’t be surprised to see him as a mediator between men and the gods.
In Babylonia, he is the father of Marduk, the one who replaced Enlil when he was sent to the underworld. Marduk and Enki have been closely related to the pantheon of Eridu, where both gathered numerous followers.
As a sorcerer, the Sumerian god Enki is the favorite of those who master magic and exorcism to connect and discard evil as he illuminates the pinnacle of sorcery.
He liked showing his skills in incantations to everyone and casting out spirits, so as to make people amazed and eventually lead them to offer prayers to him.
– The Appearance of Enki
Enki was originally designated as the patron of Eridu. Because the people liked him, he was also worshipped by the Mesopotamians, including the Canaanites, Hittites, and Hurrians. While other gods had more localized cults, Enki’s power was honored everywhere.
You might wonder about his appearance in detail. Enki or Ea is portrayed in the entire Mesopotamian mythology as the god with a long beard, wearing a horned crown and long robes.
Artists of the time often illustrated him through cylinder seals with flowing streams and fish inside them, to represent the waters of Abzu. A symbol closely connected to Enki is his abode underwater in Abzu or his throne, where he is seated in a celestial throne incomparable to any palace on earth.
Meanwhile, god Ea is always present with Isimu, his two-faced god minister who is serving as his minister and messenger in all of his endeavors. In addition, the god Isimu signifies the presence of other creatures who worked with Ea in Abzu.
Seven legendary wise creatures — who were commissioned to propagate wisdom and knowledge to man — lived with Ea.
Associated with several cults and power, Enki had versatile images to represent himself. There were images of him as a half-man and half-fish. In some instances, he was portrayed with a curved scepter sculpted with a ram’s head on top, a goat-fish, and a turtle.
This turtle became part of him when he took some clay from Abzu to regain the lost tablet of destinies, also known as the tablet that controls the future of mankind. Find out more about this story in the next section.
– The Legend of Abzu
According to the story Abzu, a demon with the characteristics of a bird, plundered the sacred tablet. Ninurta, the god of spring, thunder, and rainstorm, recovered it. Everyone thought it was a victory for the peace in heaven, but Ninurta refused to return the tablet to Enki.
To avoid further chaos, Enki took some clay from Abzu and made a turtle, which bit Ninurta by the heel, dug a hole, and buried the avaricious god into it. It was a clever way to revive the tablet, albeit the story was not completed there. You could assume that Ninurta learned a lesson the hard way, as ambition through selfish ways would not please Enki.
– Enki’s Relationships
Enki’s divine origin was always coupled with god Ea. Enki was acknowledged as the god of the earth, while Ea was the god of the water. They were two deities who were unified as one.
Ea’s name became popular because of his numerous manifestations to help people and answer their needs. Enki, as the god of fertility, had an affair with other goddesses. One of them was Ninhursanga, who gave birth to Ninmu as the fruit of their sexual encounter.
Consequently, Enki got sick, and Ninhursanga helped him in a very peculiar way. She gave birth to eight deities with healing power, and they were tasked to revive Enki’s health.
However, the presence of the deities was disastrous because Enki initiated physical advances with the young goddess Ninsar without knowing that she was his daughter.
As expected, Ninsar gave birth to Ninkurra. When Enki was lonely again, he slept with Ninkurra, who gave birth to his daughter, Uttu. Thus, Enki slept with his own daughter and granddaughter.
For the third time, Enki, in the absence of his consort, attempted another physical advance with Uttu, who immediately sought the advice of Ninhursag. She was upset with the immorality of Enki, so she took his semen from Uttu’s womb and planted it on earth, where eight plants suddenly came out.
The Worship of Enki
You can visit the temple of Enki located in Eridu, which was the central point of his lordship. His influence reached the entire Mesopotamia, as well as Canaan and other adjacent cities in the region.
Enki symbol begins with the number 40, which the Mesopotamians regarded as a sacred number in ancient numerology. You will not go wrong with the number 40 when it comes to the worship of Enki because he welcomes it and rewards his believers who use that number in his honor.
The planets revolve in favor of Enki, particularly Mercury, which is related to Nabu, the son of Marduk in Sumer. Enki sigil is associated with a half-goat and half-fish symbolic creation. In turn, this creature is related to the modern-day astrological sign Capricorn.
As he was related to constellations, the stars of Ea — the band of stars in the southern hemisphere — are also present on the sigil. With his horned crown to signify his divinity, you will be in awe at the dimension of his power.
As you will remember, Enki was the grandson of the lord of Abzu, or the groundwater found in the earth. Abzu is a god who loves solitude. Hence, when he is disturbed, he loses his temper.
Enki is his grandson, who represents the young deities and the one who takes all the spells on Abzu. Consequently, Enki controls the home of Abzu as he takes all the functions and power of his divine grandfather. In this way, Enki became the father of the gods.
– Enki’s Temple
Worship of Enki was usually done in E-abzu, which means Abzu Temple or, as the historians say, the house of the subterranean waters. You can notice that it resembles a ziggurat temple with a vast marshland around it. It is more popularly known as the Temple in Eridu because it’s located at Eridu, a coastline in the Persian Gulf.
Enki’s temple takes the pride of being the first temple to have been established in southern Iraq, which was a part of Babylonia in the past. What is fascinating about the temple of Enki is the period when it was built. Archeologists believed that it was established 6500 years ago, back in the Ubaid period.
You would wonder how the ancient Babylonians took time to expand the temple 18 times for 4,500 years. It may be interesting for you to know that the excavations of the temple revealed endless discoveries about Enki as the patron of Eridu. However, worshippers deserted it during the Persian period.
According to the archeologists who studied the life of Enki, his temple had its famous freshwater pool, which revealed a bunch of carp bones that were probably consumed during a feast. Also, this temple layout was the same as found in other Sumerian temples.
– Votive Objects
Many symbols in the temple illustrated the scope of Enki’s power. Ancient people were eager to leave a strong manifestation of their faith, and it’s helpful for you to comprehend the sovereignty of a god through the symbols written on temple walls and tablets.
For example, Enki was assigned as the sole authority to keep the divine gifts of civilization, called Me.
Another magnificent seal in the temple is his Adda Seal, which represents by two rivers: the Tigris and the Euphrates. Two trees also appear on the seal, symbolizing the male and female facets of nature.
With a long flowing skirt and a cone-shaped hat, Enki appears with an eagle landing on his unfurled arms. This symbol is a clear portrayal of Enki as the divine god of water, life, and restoration.
Reeds were also connected with Enki because they were used in brick-making to build a house or temple. Like the lord of Abzu, god Ea or Enki is sitting on his throne in the ocean deep, unreachable to man, a strategic location where the power of gods resides. You must reckon that Babylon was probably located above Abzu.
One striking image of Enki is his association with the unconcealed sexual manifestation of his masculinity. He may have been exaggeratedly linked to fertility, but the thoughts of godly semen and the water of Abzu may be tantamount to his divine aspect of fertility.
The Divine Works of Enki
God Enki came into his popularity in the early part of the third century BC. An early Babylonian priest named Berossus attested that Enki’s power was already existing in line with the glory of the Greeks.
According to him, Enki was similar to the god Kronos in Greek mythology, the god of time and the king of the Titans. With the similarities of their divine power, you could probably assume that both gods emerged with colossal strength.
As a creator god, Enki was responsible for the development of Mesopotamian civilization by keeping the land fertile and helping the people cultivate the farms for their harvest. He was instrumental in converting the vast marshes of Tilmun, in the southern part of Mesopotamia, into arable land for the people’s economic sustainment.
Through Enki’s power, the people removed the salt content of the marshland by using the pure and sweet water found in Abzu.
You should also reiterate the association of Enki with Inanna, the goddess of sex and war. With all her divine prowess, Inanna tried to make Enki drunk to deceive him and steal the powers of civilization.
As the creator of the world, Enki held a sacred position in the world of Mesopotamian gods. His prominence sparked jealousy among the gods. Each one of them would have liked to have a taste of his glory, which more often leads to envy and, naturally, chaos in heaven and on earth.
While Enki was already honored because of his divine status, people also revered him for his supernatural power against evil spirits. In the later part of the second millennium, people were fascinated with the elimination of evil spirits.
To do this, they resorted to religious rituals, incantations, and recitation of verses. Enki is the god people invoked to ward off. As the god in control of water, he provided a bathhouse to sanctify kings and purify them to renew their cleanliness, while the practitioners of exorcism recited verses and incantations.
Enki and His Incantations
You should know that the Mesopotamians believed that sicknesses and trials originated from the works of evil spirits and the revenge of gods.
Ea, the other personification of Enki, has mastered the art of exorcism, and he is in control of the spirits overpowering men. Prayers to him would please him, which could lead to his favor to man.
People usually called on his name to revive their dwellings from evil control. Sick people were asked to pray their supplications to Enki for supernatural healing and protection.
If ever evil spirits terrified a family, its members needed to purify themselves and offer their sacrifices to Enki to liberate themselves from demonic power. People practically needed Enki for many reasons.
He is an indispensable god in a Mesopotamian household. Prayers to him often resulted in victorious outcomes, such that they have a strong faith in his cult.
Enki is one of the most favorite gods of incantations and wisdom. His participation in exorcisms and other types of deliverance of people from evil spirits is remarkable. People paid pilgrimage at his temple when they felt evil spirits were attacking them or their family members. Enki has been proven to be the ultimate answer to their deliverance from demonic attacks and sorcery.
As a symbol of purification, you can recall that even kings were asked to sanctify themselves in Ea water to make them pure again. This would save the entire kingdom from curses that were believed to affect generations of man.
Enki as the Creator
Babylonians put their trust in Enki as the creator of man and the divine refuge of humanity. You could not argue with this because Enki has a solid track record of his achievements to protect man. In the famous myth Atrahasis, Enki played a significant role in saving man from a global deluge caused by the god Enlil.
Enki’s foremost role as a divine being is to create man. His creator side is undoubtedly his strength and pride. He took delight in creating humans out of clay. In this regard, you should remember that the creation of humanity was not to make people happy. They were made to be gods’ servants.
Enki and Enlil were both in the triad, but they were not always in good terms concerning man. Enlil wanted to remove men from the surface of the earth, whereas Enki wanted to preserve them.
With all this turmoil in heaven, there’s the presence of Enki, the god who created men in the service of gods. The worship of Enki was crucial for ancient people. Needless to say, he’s the divine being to reconcile gods and man, as shown by the myth of the flood, contained in the next section.
The Myth of the Flood
The continuous increase in human presence was disturbing to Enlil. The god of wind was disappointed in man’s disorderly life, because they clamored about everything and he could not get a good sleep because of them. He attempted to destroy man in a way that could wipe out all living creatures on earth.
This was very disheartening for Enki as he spent much time and effort in creating man. He could not allow anyone to destroy his masterpiece. Even a divine god was not invited nor allowed to intervene with his artwork.
Hence, a great flood was conceived by Enlil. But with all of Enki’s wisdom, he commissioned Atrahasis to build an ark and fill it with his family and some people before the flood had shattered the world. You could celebrate that Enki was instrumental in saving the people from the great deluge.
Enlil was confident he succeeded in eradicating men from earth, but he was dismayed when the ark was opened, and human beings were revealed.
The gods argued about the increasing number of humans until Enki came out in the limelight and suggested that the gods could allow men to exist with a shortened life span. Through this event, Enki’s humanitarian side was demonstrated, making him more honorable to man.
Born to create men and rule mankind, Enki was one of the triads of gods in Mesopotamian mythology, together with Ahu and Enlil. He was the god assigned to assist mankind while using them as slaves of gods.
With his immense power, Enki showed his loyalty to his people. As a result, he was trusted, loved, and worshipped by the ancient civilization in Mesopotamia. People adored his name because he was present in times of human needs, especially when other gods failed to stand up for them.
As a creator, he was tasked to create man to be enslaved by gods. When other gods hated men and planned to eliminate all human beings, he was there for their rescue. Enki was always there to save man.
You can never underestimate what he could do for men, such as when Enlin conceived the great deluge to exterminate mankind. When god Enlil sent a great flood on earth because he was exasperated by their noise, Enki saved them by making an ark where the family of Atrahasis and some of his people could stay and be safe.
He was also associated with sorcery, incantation, water, arts, crafts, and purification, but he was most loved for his loyalty to mankind. To be a god who has mercy on man was not easy for Enki. He often met rivals in heaven due to his benevolence to man. However, this never stopped him, and he remained the champion of the human race.