There is something very distinct and unique not only in the music of Warlock Asylum, but also the artwork of Asylum’s Kiss of The Immortal Album. www.warlockasylum.info When I spoke to Messiah-el (Warlock Asylum’s lead vocalist) he told me that the cover art for the album was done by company in the UK known as Unholy Vault Design. Here is a link to their website:
Messiah-el (mee-sigh-el) mentioned that Steve Berson and himself were having quite a time in finding what they felt was a good representation of the music that would work for an album cover. Messiah-el states:
“I think we must have worked on the artwork for quite sometime. I mean it got to the point were we were even using sandbox ideas. Nothing was really working out. I came across this website that had some really good art, though I felt that the pieces that I saw were a little too dark for an album cover, I did like the style. So I contacted them and gave them a few ideas about what we wanted and everything worked out. I didn’t realize the depth of what the cover represented until later, but like everything else on this album, the significance of what we were doing and meaning didn’t occur to us until after the work was done.”
Many fans of the “Warlock Asylum Movement” may be wondering if there is a deeper meaning to the cover art and the art throughout the package. Well let me be the first to tell you that this is truly an adventure as it took some time to really find out the meaning of the album’s artwork. Let us take a step by step review of some of the album’s artwork, starting with the cover:
- One of the first things that we notice is the “eyes” looking back at the viewer. These are actually the eyes of Messiah-el Bey. It was Steve Berson’s idea to have a cover with some sort of three-dimensional effect. Steve took the picture and used it in a earlier idea that the duo had for a previous cover. It seems to fit here very well. The eyes in space show an aspect of the Greater Mysteries. The Ancient Sumerians viewed “outer space” as the Abzu, or Outer Space, also called Nar Mattaru. In this case, Messiah-el’s eyes laying in the horizon would represent Dumuzi. For those of you who are not familiar with the who Dumuzi is, I found a helpful link on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tammuz_(deity)
“In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar. The Levantine Adonis (“lord”), who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort. The Aramaic name “Tammuz” seems to have been derived from the Akkadian form Tammuzi, based on early Sumerian Damu-zid. The later standard Sumerian form, Dumu-zid, in turn became Dumuzi in Akkadian.
Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god. Readers in four-season temperate cultures may doubt shepherd-god as a vegetation god: “He was no dying and resurrecting vegetation demon, as James George Frazer wanted him to be (for one thing no vegetation demon dies in the spring, in April),” Miroslav Marcovich observed. though recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity: tablets discovered in 1963 show that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year (see below).
She can make the lament for you, my Dumuzid, the lament for you, the lament, the lamentation, reach the desert — she can make it reach the house Arali; she can make it reach Bad-tibira; she can make it reach Dul-šuba; she can make it reach the shepherding country, the sheepfold of Dumuzid
“O Dumuzid of the fair-spoken mouth, of the ever kind eyes,” she sobs tearfully, “O you of the fair-spoken mouth, of the ever kind eyes,” she sobs tearfully. “Lad, husband, lord, sweet as the date, […] O Dumuzid!” she sobs, she sobs tearfully.
“Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto to me, ‘Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.” —Ezekiel 8:14-15
Ezekiel’s testimony is the only direct mention of Tammuz in the Hebrew Bible.
Dumuzid in the Sumerian king list
In the Sumerian king list two kings named Dumuzi appear:
- Dumuzid of Bad-tibira, the shepherd (reigning 36000 years), the fifth King before the Flood
- Dumuzid of Kuara, the fisherman (reigning 100 years), the third King of the first dynasty or Uruk, reigning between Lugalbanda and Gilgamesh
Dumuzid and Inanna
Today several versions of the Sumerian death of Dumuzi have been recovered, “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld”, “Dumuzi’s dream” and “Dumuzi and the galla“, as well as a tablet separately recounting Dumuzi’s death, mourned by holy Inanna, and his noble sister Geštinanna, and even his dog and the lambs and kids in his fold; Dumuzi himself is weeping at the hard fate in store for him, after he had walked among men, and the cruel galla of the Underworld seize him.
A number of pastoral poems and songs relate the love affair of Inanna and Dumuzid the shepherd. A text recovered in 1963 recounts “The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi” in terms that are tender and frankly erotic.
According to the myth of Inanna’s descent to the underworld, represented in parallel Sumerian and Akkadian tablets, Inanna (Ishtar in the Akkadian texts) set off for the netherworld, or Kur, which was ruled by her sister Ereshkigal, perhaps to take it as her own. She passed through seven gates and at each one was required to leave a garment or an ornament so that when she had passed through the seventh gate she was entirely naked. Despite warnings about her presumption, she did not turn back but dared to sit herself down on Ereshkigal’s throne. Immediately the Anunnaki of the underworld judged her, gazed at her with the eyes of death, and she became a corpse, hung up on a nail.
Based on the incomplete texts as first found, it was assumed that Ishtar/Inanna’s descent into Kur occurred after the death of Tammuz/Dumuzid rather than before and that her purpose was to rescue Tammuz/Dumuzid. This is the familiar form of the myth as it appeared in M. Jastrow’s Descent of the Goddess Ishtar into the Lower World, 1915, widely available on the Internet. New texts uncovered in 1963 filled in the story in quite another fashion, showing that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release.
Inanna’s faithful servant attempted to get help from the other gods but only wise Enki/Ea responded. The details of Enki/Ea’s plan differ slightly in the two surviving accounts, but in the end, Inanna/Ishtar was resurrected. However, a “conservation of souls” law required her to find a replacement for herself in Kur. She went from one god to another, but each one pleaded with her and she had not the heart to go through with it until she found Dumuzid/Tammuz richly dressed and on her throne. Inanna/Ishtar immediately set her accompanying demons on Dumuzid/Tammuz. At this point the Akkadian text fails as Tammuz’ sister Belili, introduced for the first time, strips herself of her jewelry in mourning but claims that Tammuz and the dead will come back.
There is some confusion here. The name Belili occurs in one of the Sumerian texts also, but it is not the name of Dumuzid’s sister who is there named Geshtinana, but is the name of an old woman whom another text calls Bilulu.
In any case, the Sumerian texts relate how Dumuzid fled to his sister Geshtinana who attempted to hide him but who could not in the end stand up to the demons. Dumuzid has two close calls until the demons finally catch up with him under the supposed protection of this old woman called Bilulu or Belili and then they take him. However Inanna repents.
Inanna seeks vengeance on Bilulu, on Bilulu’s murderous son G̃irg̃ire and on G̃irg̃ire’s consort Shirru “of the haunted desert, no-one’s child and no-one’s friend”. Inanna changes Bilulu into a waterskin and G̃irg̃ire into a protective god of the desert while Shirru is assigned to watch always that the proper rites are performed for protection against the hazards of the desert.
Finally, Inanna relents and changes her decree thereby restoring her husband Dumuzi to life; an arrangement is made by which Geshtinana will take Dumuzid’s place in Kur for six months of the year: “You (Dumuzi), half the year. Your sister (Geštinanna), half the year!” This newly-recovered final line upset Samuel Noah Kramer‘s former interpretation, as he allowed: “my conclusion that Dumuzi dies and “stays dead” forever (cf e.g. Mythologies of the Ancient World p. 10) was quite erroneous: Dumuzi according to the Sumerian mythographers rises from the dead annually and, after staying on earth for half the year, descends to the Nether World for the other half”.
The “Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi”
Aside from this extended epic “The Descent of Inanna,” a previously unknown “Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi” was first translated into English and annotated by Sumerian scholar Samuel Noah Kramer and folklorist Diane Wolkstein working in tandem, and published in 1983. In this tale Inanna’s lover, the shepherd-king Dumuzi, brought a wedding gift of milk in pails, yoked across his shoulders.
The myth of Inanna and Dumuzi formed the subject of a Lindisfarne Symposium, published as The Story of Inanna and Dumuzi: From Folk-Tale to Civilized Literature: A Lindisfarne Symposium, (William Irwin Thompson, editor, 1995).”
The above quote gives us a useful perspective of some of the subconscious motives behind that album, an ancient story channeled through the MINDS OF Steve Berson and Messiah-el Bey What is interesting about the above comparison to Dumuzi, is that experienced occultist view this world as the Underworld, or underneath the seas. Maybe Berson and Bey might have tapped into these currents earlier in their lives. The name Messiah-el actually means the Dragon. However, we must also consider that the CD’s central them is Messiah-el’s search for Lilith. Messiah-el is Bey’s legal name and attribute that he changed over 15 years ago. Bey comments:
“ I was involved heavily into Moorish Mystism and the name came to me in a dream. It was my first initiation. Years later, I thought of changing it and as soon as my mind entertained the question, a book fell off the shelf Geoffrey Higgins‘ Anacalypsis. The book was written in the mid-1800’s and it was the only time I saw my name written as it is today. I’d figure I better keep it the same.”
Whatever forces were guiding the Warlock Asylum Project were probably apparent earlier in the lives of Berson and Bey. However getting back to the album’s theme, it seems to also echo another story, which is held in Jewish lore and is a key in understanding the root link between the name Messiah-el and Lilith. In an online article entitled Lilith in Jewish lore, which can be found at this site:
http://www.nightwing.awebspider.com/lilith.htm we find the following observation:
“This story became intertwined with that of the Lesser or Younger Lilith, married to the Demon King Asmodeus. Asmodeus was the son of the mortal Naamah, the sister of Tubal-Cain, and the Angel-Demon Shamdan. The Lesser Lilith was the daughter of the Demon King Qafsefoni and Matred; her name was Mehetabel, from ‘mabu tabal,’ meaning ‘something immersed.’ She was a beautiful woman from head to waist, but burning fire down below. This Lilith was evil and constantly causing trouble between the Demons and the Angels. Asmodeus and the Lesser Lilith ruled in Edom, the sixth of the six imperfect Earths created before ours. They had twin sons, one good and one evil. The good son was named Meshihi’el and Kokhvi’el; his root is in heaven and he was called the “sword of the Messiah.” The evil son was named Alefpene’ash and Gurigar; he is a war-demon ruling eighty thousand destructive demons, and he is called the “sword of King Asmodeus.” Isaiah prophesized that the good son would wreak havok among the demons: “For my Sword shall be drunk in the heavens; Lo, it shall come down upon Edom.” This is the Secret Knowledge of the Lesser Palaces. “
From the above comment we can see that the name Messaih-el is probably a derivative of the name Meshihi’el. Yet in the storyline of the CD we find that Messiah-el was together with Lilith and is spending his life looking for her like she is some benevolent spirit. Another quote about the history of Lilith, found at the same site above may give us some more in-depth meaning to this:
“In ancient Sumerian belief, the primal gods, the ZU, originally emerged from the Great Chaos of the ABYSS. This Chaos was characterized as an endless Great Sea located in the heavens. The primal gods themselves, the Deep Ones, were called the Ab-Zu (Ap-Su), stellar powers who were connected directly with the Great Deep. Their servitors, who carried out their will, were called the An-Zu, lunar powers who were connected with the air of the night sky. Primary among these were the Abgal, seven wise demi-gods who also emerged from the Waters of the ABYSS, and each of the seven were created male-female.
Lilith was the female aspect of one of the night wind spirits, one of a group of benevolent spirit guides called Lili (Lilitu) or Lama (Lamastu). These spirits were originally associated with guarding the gateway between the spiritual and physical realms and were found on temple doorways. Lilith, being a guide to the wisdom of immortality, is represented holding the Rings of Shem; these are the oldest symbols used to show one who has gained immortality by passing through the Underworld to gain the sacred wisdom of the Tree of Knowledge.
As a guardian and dispenser of the Temple Mysteries, Lilith was the original Scarlet Woman, and her priestesses engaged in sex magick with the priesthood and nobles to bring about spiritual transformation that led to illumination, along with the regeneration of the physical body to prolong life. These Mysteries included a type of physical alchemy involving the menstrual blood of the priestesses. While the term Scarlet Woman originally referred to menstrual blood, it became interwoven with another ancient symbol of divine power, red hair. Many ancient cultures believed that red hair denoted one whose ancestors intermarried with demons or angels, thus giving a greater than average psychic/spiritual power.
One representation of a Lamastu shows her with a lioness head, holding a serpent in each hand and riding in the Boat of the Gods that traverses the Underworld.
This directly links her to the ancient Egyptian god of magick, Heka, and his later manifestations as Hekat, the frog-headed goddess of transformation, Egyptian and Cretan serpent goddesses, and the Phoenician goddesses Astarte and Tanith.”
A quick view of history can easily explain why this “protective deity’ was later demonized. “Past religions have had their gods demonized by newer religions, and newer religions have contributed to the rich symbolism of culture with their own interpretations of what evil is.”
We will continue our discussion in our next issue.