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Enheduana's use of Magic in Ninmesara

(an article in progress)

Enheduana reveals a dire state of emergency in Ninmesara. Nine wars were raging against the Sargonians and she found herself wrongfully expelled from her temple. She saw herself as the Hight Priestess of all of Mesopotamia and took responsibility by writing Ninmesara with the intention to restore cosmic order.

Mesopotamian religion is based on magic and magic follows the principles of universal Law. In Enheduana's time, spells and incantations were the methods of clarifying intention and aligning with the intangible Law. Magic is an intentional process. Enheduana was trained in magical arts to empower positive situations and alter negative ones. Ninmesara is her most powerful incantation, containing one hundred and fifty three lines and various principles of magic, such as poetic language, venerating and empowering the divine, divination, spell casting and ritual.


Enheduana was trained to receive dreams and other forms of communications from the divine, which is one branch of Mesopotamian divination. In Ninmesara, Enheduana reveals a judgment she has received from An, the God of Heaven.

"The Lady [Inanna] will tear away the destiny of Lugal-Ane.
At her feet lie hostile land and flood.
She is truly mighty." [line 77-79 ]

Spell casting

Enheduana reveals An's judgment publicly and unequivocally. She uses it as a spell which empowers the image of Inanna's victory over Lugal-Ane. Inanna's victory symbolizes the Sargonic victory and is the desired end of the spell.


Ritual is used in Mesopotamian magic and religion to empower a spell and honor the divine. Enheduana creates a physical container for her magic by preparing the ritual space and performing purification rites.

My Queen, beloved of An?
I have heaped the coals,
prepared the purification rites,
Your temple stands ready for you-
will not your heart be soothed? [lines 135-7]

She reveals that her overarching intention for the magic is to soothe Inanna’s heart. The Sargonic victory is a manifestation of this broader intention. By performing the physical actions of the ritual, Enheduana embodies her intention and aligns her body with her mind. By aligning mentally and physically with her intention Enheduana aligns more completely with herself and thus, empowers the magic.

As a skilled technician of the sacred, Enheduana was able to assist in restoring peace. All nine battles were overcome and Enheduana resumed her post in Ur. The Mesopotamians were in awe of Enheduana as they believed that she had communicated with the Goddesses and Gods in the exact, right way. I have a theory that this was only one piece of the puzzle and that Enheduana's writing in the first person was a deeper layer of the magic.

To be continued.

Bibliography in progress

Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, Harper and Row, 1979