Friday 1 April 2011

Nanshe: Goddess of Orphans and Justice

This Sunday is Mother's Day in the UK. Having recently lost my mum I realised just how difficult this time of year is for those who have no mother - particularly children. So I have chosen Nanshe Goddess of Orphans, Widows and Social Justice - as well as being a mother goddess - as The Bad Witch's Goddess of the Week.

In Sumerian mythology, Nanshe was a popular goddess, with many roles. Although she was primarily a goddess of fertility and fishing, she was also a goddess of prophecy through dreams and social justice - particularly championing the causes of widows and orphans.

One of the verses in an ancient hymn to Nashe, translates as: "She is concerned for the orphan and concerned for the widow. She does not forget the man who helps others, she is a mother for the orphan; Nance (sic), a carer for the widow, who always finds advice for the debt-slave; the lady who gives protection for refugees. She seeks out a place for the weak."

As that hymn suggests, Nanshe also gave advice to those in debt and took in refugees from war-torn areas.

Although Nanshe might be a very ancient goddess, it seems to me that a prayer to her this weekend could be very appropriate. Not only is this a particularly difficult time of year for orphans, we are also living through a year of considerable social unrest and injustice. Many people are suffering debt, and there are many refugees from strife-torn lands. Nanshe, I call upon you, please give your aid to those who need your comfort and protection...

I had trouble finding a picture of Nanshe. She appears as the Justice card in the Babylonian Tarot by Sandra Tabatha Cicero, but I don't own the deck and could only find an image of the cover of the boxed set, plus a few of the other cards in it. I might have to go and buy a copy...

Babylonian Tarot (deck & book) by Sandra Tabatha Cicero

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