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What God have I offended? What Goddess? What sacrifice have I failed to make? What Unknown Evil have I committed, that my going out should be thus accompanied by the fearful howlings of a hundred wolves?
May the heart of my God return to its place!
May the heart of my Goddess return to its place!
May the God I do not know be quieted toward me!
May the Goddess I do now know be quieted toward me!
May the heart of the Unknown God return to its place for me!
May the heart of the Unknown Goddess return to its place for me!
An Erushahuinga To Any God is unlike most Sumerian prayers, as no specific deity is called. Instead we find that this particular prayer is addressed to an “unknown” deity, as the petitioner may not be aware of what specific deity they have offended in the cause of their suffering. In such a case, this erushahunga is recited to appease any unknown offense made against the spiritual world.
The Prayer to Every God is a very beautiful practice when you reflect on the heart of the petitioner to make such a prayer. However, we find that many scholars and those of the Abrahamic faith are somewhat ignorant as to the meaning and intent of the prayer. For example, in an article entitled, A Prayer To Every God, New England Pastor makes the following statement out of the ignorance of not knowing ancient Mesopotamian spirituality:
“What an incredible tragedy! Can you imagine living in an environment in which you think every bad thing that happens to you results from the anger of the gods? Can you imagine following so many gods that you are unsure of which god you have offended, and how exactly you have offended that god since the gods have not revealed their wills nor their laws?”
Some scholars hold this same idea concerning An Erushahunga To Any God, as the New England Pastor. Outlook of Life and Death in Mesopotamia, published by Doral Academy Preparatory, includes a look at the Prayer to Every God, as it quotes, Assyrian and Babylonian Literature by R. F. Harper, ed. (New York, 1901), we read:
“The author decides to pray to every god, including any that might be unknown for committing offense towards the gods. He is unaware of what he did specifically to offend the gods, but the implication of this prayer suggests some negative circumstance has befallen him and he accredits it to displeasure from the gods. He asks for forgiveness, listing the ways he has attempted to atone for his unknown offense. The ending is equally illuminating as his situation is left unresolved to the reader.“
While these observations of An Erushahunga To Any God is quite understandable, it does not capture the true essence of the Sumerian prayer. However, in the Alchemical Necronomicon by Simon, we find that most of the Mad Arab’s Second Testimony is written in the light of this prayer. After summarizing this same prayer, the Mad Arab writes:
“I have traveled on the Spheres, and the Spheres do not protect me. I have descended into the Abyss, and the Abyss does not protect me. I have walked to the tops of mountains, and the mountains do not protect me. I have walked the Seas, and the Seas do not protect me…The Lords of the Wind rush about me and are angered. The Lords of the Earth crawl about my feet and are angered. The Spirits have forgotten me…My time is shortened, and I must complete as much as I can before I am taken away by the Voice that ever calls. The Moon’s days are numbered upon the earth, and the Sun’s and I know not the meaning of these omens, but that they are. And the oracles are dried up, and the stars spin in their places. And the heavens look to be uncontrolled, with no order, and the spheres are crooked and wandering.”
Based on what we read in the Mad Arab’s Second Testimony, it seems that the deities of the Netherworld and the Heavens, but also the Land of the Living were in some way offended by an action taken by him. This reveals a deeper meaning in the Prayer to Every God. If one were to offend one deity, other deities would also take offense. The example of Din.Gir Nergal fits perfectly into this discussion.
When Din.Gir Nergal offended the great Queen Ereshkigal, it was the deities of the upper world that reprimanded him. If we apply these same principles of the deity to humankind, it reveals that the uniqueness of the Prayer to Every God may be that it might have accompanied other prayers that were said to specific deities to appease the Divine World (Nyarzir). In Biblical religions, offending a messenger of the Biblical god is like offending the deity itself. So to do we find in the Prayer To Every God the same principle thanks to the Second Testimony of the Mad Arab.