TRANSIT - the astrologers' newsletter January/February 2007

Poul Madsen can be contacted at info2 (at) astroleg (dot) dk

Enuma Anu Enlil

The Enuma Anu Enlil text

If you are on a weekend break to London and have a couple of hours to kill, a very satisfactory way of spending them - from an astrologers point of view - is to visit the British Museum to Enuma Anu Enlilsee for yourself some of the most important evidence of the origins of western astrology from ancient Mesopotamia in Iraq: The Enuma Anu Enlil.

Finding the famous Enuma Anu Enlil clay tablets is not so easy. Lots of exciting tablets ranging in shape and size are on display in room 55 and 56, but no signs or arrows point to artifacts indicating that this or that is part of

Enuma Anu Enlil. Many of them are simply stored in safety boxes.

Enuma Anu Enlil was excavated in the 19th century in the royal library of Nineveh in Mesopotamia - a large area around modern day Bagdad in Iraq. There are seventy tablets in the series, and the tablets themselves are believed to date from around 650 BCE, however, the content is a compilation of omens of older origin, some of which are supposed to date back as far as 1646 BCE.

In general, tablets found in ancient Mesopotamia contain omens of various subjects, ranging from reading a sacrificed sheep’s liver to reading oil spread on the surface of water. Only Enuma Anu Enlil is dedicated to celestial omens. Like many other omens, the omens in the Enuma Anu Enlil series are on the form 'if x occurs/has occurred, then y will occur'.

Many books have been written on the subjects of clay tablets. One of them is The Heavenly writing by Francesca Rochberg [1]. She describes Enuman Anu Enlil in its context of other clay tablets and its unique position as celestial omens, that is, pre-horoscopical events. The events are however not personal, in that Enuma Anu Enlil mostly deals with the King, the country and the public, and only a small part relates to personal forecasts.

Tablets 1-22 describe manifestations of Sin, the Moon god, and includes dates and duration of various Moon events, the appearance of the horns in the crescent, and different halos as they can be seen when eclipses occur.

Tablets 23-36 are dedicated to Samas, the sun god, and the coronas and parhelia which can appear in connection with Solar eclipses.

Tablets 37-49 (50) all relate to weather phenomena, which at that time would be considered equal to celestial events. This includes lightning & thunder, rainbows, clouds, earthquakes and winds.

Tablets 50 (51)-70 relate to planetary signs including planetary positions.

Tablet 63 is the famous Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa (or Ishtar as Venus was known then). Omen 22 starts with: " the second day of Nisannu Venus appears in the east: there will be mourning in the land..."

With all the evidence found in Enuma Anu Enlil and other famous clay tablet series, there is little doubt, that the Greek found great inspiration in Mesopotomia for further development of astrology.


[1] The Heavenly Writing, Francesca Rochberg, Cambridge University Press 2004