Lament: Poem and Practice for Times of Gratitude and Celebration


For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit

Like a fiery monster you fill the land with poison.

As thunder you growl over the earth,

trees and bushes collapse before you.

You are blood rushing down a mountain,

Spirit of hate, greed and anger,

dominator of heaven and earth!

Your fire wafts over our land,

riding on a beast,

with indomitable commands,

you decide all fate.

You triumph over all our rites.

Who can explain why you go on so?

From Enheduanna’s Lament to the Spirit of War

Freely adapted and translated by Daniela Gioseffi

Speaking to us from 23rd century BCE Mesopotamia, Enheduanna— a princess, priestess, and first named poet in history—could be standing beside us today with her question:

Who can explain why you go on so? 

These past few years have been a brutal for the collective. There is no way around it. Although tiny, the corona virus has been a monster filling the year with poisonTrees and bushes have collapsed before forest fires across the globe. Wars rage because of hate and greed.

Even as we celebrate holidays or practice gratitude, we don’t hold in the difficult feelings—grief, anger, sacred rage!—that we feel. If we do, it might eat us alive from the inside.

Enheduanna turned her sacred rage into poems and temple hymns, and amazingly, millennial later we know not only what she said but what she looked like. The image above is her likeness.

To move your grief and rage, you may want to contemplate the words and image of Enheduanna. Perhaps call on her for assistance in letting your lament flow out of you. You call on her not as a Divinity but as a human just like you.

If you like to work with words, perhaps your encounter with her will inspire you to write some lines of lament. But don’t be limited to words, maybe you’ll be better able to express yourself with movement. You might put on some really loud or solemnly mournful music and move to it. You are invited to follow whatever inspiration comes—safely!—even if it seems odd.

When you are done, pause and rest. Tune into your body. Search for the space that has opened up within, and into that open space let the gratitude flow for the release. With your energy flowing you can engage with the world, which might include holiday celebrations or action on what has disturbed you—or both.

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