I’ve been trying my hardest not to actually come out and say this, but after seeing this news story while I was having dinner last night with my brother Patrick and our close friend Mark, I just can’t stand it any longer. Fuck the Islamic State; just fuck ’em. And just in case they weren’t listening the first time, here it is again, in big bold-faced letters:
Apparently, it’s not enough for them to commit mass murder, to sell countless women and girls into sexual slavery, or to force innocent families out of their homes and threaten to murder their children. It’s not enough that they want to force everyone on Earth to follow their own flea-ridden bastardization of a perfectly good faith. They also want to erase history. They want to make it like other cultures and other faiths never even existed. And while there are many valid Deities and walks of life, there’s only one place such madness can ever come from. There’s only one idiotic, mindless, and completely corroded source that can ever cause such terrible evil to leak into our world. They might have stolen the name of a most beautiful and loving Goddess, but ladies and gentlemen, these maniacs are apostles of
Apep. They’re eyes and mouths on the Backward Face. They claim to serve Allah and they think they’ll each enjoy 72 virgin girls in some lofty heaven for their wicked deeds. But they’re really just puppets, and they will be swallowed by darkness forever.
I know these zombies, these mere costumes of flesh and bone, have destroyed many other countless treasures and antiquities of the distant past. They’ve used statues of the Buddha for target practice, and they’ve torn Yezidi holy sites to the ground. I’m not saying these deeds are any less tragic, but I’m especially heartbroken that these monsters and the dragon they serve have now swallowed Nimrud and Hatra. As a layperson of Ishtar, I’m already sensitive to the fact that Mesopotamian antiquities are more endangered than many others. These priceless “idols” directly challenge the so-called “inerrancy” of the Torah, the Bible and the Koran in ways that no other artifacts can, so of course they’ve always been in greater danger from fanatical Abrahamic iconoclasts. I can’t help but lament the fact that we’ll never have as clear a picture of ancient Mesopotamia as we do of Egypt, Greece or Rome; but now this picture will remain even more unclear than it could have been – and all thanks to a bunch of backward assholes who are too insecure and psychopathic to follow the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in ways that would actually do him justice.
For those of you who don’t know about Nimrud, it’s the Arabic name for an ancient Assyrian city that was originally called Levekh and which is (or was) located in modern Iraq. It was built by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser I, who was one of the first kings in his country to start deporting his defeated enemies rather than killing them. The Assyrians worshiped such Sumero-Akkadian Divinities as Ashur, Dagon and even Ishtar. They were a fierce and warlike people who are considered to have been innovative in their use of military technology, and they were also highly advanced astronomers for their time. (It’s even possible that they invented one of the earliest telescopes in history.) Many of the statues that were mindlessly destroyed by ISIL during this past week were Assyrian lamassu or winged bulls with bearded human heads that date from the Neo-Assyrian period. These sacred objects served an apotropaic purpose, warding off evil spirits. Irina Bokova, head of the UN cultural agency Unesco, has decried the loss of these and countless other Assyrian artifacts from Levekh or Nimrud as a “war crime,” and I’m inclined to agree with her. (Just add it to the list!)
For those of you who don’t know about Hatra, it’s another ancient city that was built in the 3rd or 2nd century BCE and which was originally part of the Persian province of Khvarvaran. It was a great cultural melting pot in which Mesopotamian, Greek and Canaanite Deities (including Atargatis, Hermes and Shamash) were all worshiped right beside each other. For those who enjoy horror films, Hatra was also the filming location for the opening sequence of The Exorcist (1973), when Father Lancaster Merrin (played by Max von Sydow) first encounters the Assyro-Babylonian demon Pazuzu. ISIL just started tearing Hatra down this morning, but as noted in the CNN report above, they aren’t just destroying everything in sight; they’re also selling whatever they can on the black market to procure more funding for themselves. This just goes to show that the leaders of ISIL really don’t give a shit about sticking to their own apocalyptic cult propaganda, and that they’re really just using militant pseudo-Islam to control their lower-ranking members.
I’m not saying these acts of terrorism are more or even equally as tragic as the countless, senseless murders ISIL has notoriously committed. Let’s be sensible here; beheadings, sexual slavery, setting people on fire and gunning down entire crowds of people are far worse. Our Gods and ancestors will live regardless of whether anyone believes in Them or smashes Their sacred images, so there’s literally nothing ISIL can do that will ever “hurt” Them. But the same isn’t true for mortal men, women and children here on Earth, and it’s important for us to remember this fact. However, this doesn’t mean the attacks on Nimrud and Hatra aren’t tragedies; nor does it mean these acts aren’t causing any serious harm. I just can’t stand how fucking hypocritical these idiots are. Charlie Hebdo publishes a cartoon of Muhammad and ISIL goes apeshit and beheads everybody; but it’s perfectly all right for them to bulldoze entire ancient cities and eradicate entire cultures from the face of this Earth. I pride myself on being a pacifist of the libertarian Left, but even I find myself hoping that each of these rotten bastards will wake up one morning to find their kidneys removed.
I’ve been trying to think of things that polytheists who follow Middle Eastern and North African Gods can do to counteract such modern isfet. I had the notion of creating new statues and other works that are specifically based on the Mesopotamian antiquities that have been destroyed (e.g., lamassu statues), with the idea being that these should be made by actual polytheists who actually follow the same Gods the original artists followed. I also thought that these objects could then be sold and that the revenue could be donated en masse to relief efforts in the Middle East. This is something that I feel would be very pleasing to the Gods and the ancestors, but there’s simply no practical way I can think of to implement such a grand master plan. For one thing, I’m not a sculptor, and I don’t personally know any other sculptors who also happen to be polytheists (and whose Deities are tied to the Fertile Crescent). And as a working class Joe, I just don’t have the time, money or resources to really commit myself to such a project. I highly doubt that any polytheist who’s also a sculptor would be able to donate much of their revenue to such a project, either. Then there’s the question of whether or not such products would actually sell, whether enough of them could be produced and sold to make any significant difference to a relief effort in the Middle East, and whether such revenue would even reach such a relief effort at all.
The apparent helplessness of modern polytheists against such systematic erasure tormented me as I drifted off to sleep last night. I asked Seth and Ishtar to help me think of something I could do to combat ISIL in my own way. Then, while I slept, I dreamed that my family and I were being held hostage by someone. In the dream, this person was someone I already knew, and I had apparently been friends with them in the past. (In the waking world, I’ve never seen this person before in my life.) He was a bald white man with glasses and a pair of gray coveralls. Whomever he might have been, he was holding all of us hostage in our home, and nobody in the outside world knew. I remember telling him, “Maybe if you weren’t doing this to my family, we would still be friends.” Then I awoke feeling very stressed out; but I was comforted by the fact that our cat Ripley was sleeping right beside me. Normally, the cat sleeps downstairs on our futon; she doesn’t seem to like sharing bed space with humans. But even after following me downstairs so I could use the bathroom, she followed me right back up to my bed and resumed sleeping beside me (like she was a bodyguard protecting me from demons around the house). I don’t know what my dream was meant to tell me (if it was meant to tell me anything at all), but I can’t help but feel that it came from Ishtar, and that She convinced little Ripley to protect me while I was having it.
(If anyone has any ideas as to what this dream could mean, please let me know.)
Anyway, I thought I would share my thoughts on this, just on the chance that someone else out there is having the same thoughts, feelings or dreams. Here’s praying that ISIL is destroyed somehow before it starts World War III. Here’s praying that all who have suffered at their hands and who are still alive will be provided with relief, that they might live in good health for the rest of their days. And here’s praying that someone somewhere can come up with some idea as to how polytheists might counteract the great evil that has been loosed upon Nimrud and Hatra. By Ishtar’s grace, may these great cities and their precious works never be forgotten.