Damu, in Mesopotamian religion, Sumerian deity, city god of Girsu, east of Ur in the southern orchards region. Damu, son of Enki, was a vegetation god, especially of the vernal flowing of the sap of trees and plants. His name means "The Child," and his cult—apparently celebrated primarily by women—centred on the lamentation and search for Damu, who had lain under the bark of his nurse, the cedar tree, and had disappeared. The search finally ended when the god reappeared out of the river.
The cult of Damu influenced and later blended with the similar cult of Tammuz the Shepherd, a Sumerian deity. A different deity called Damu was a goddess of healing and the daughter of Nininsina of Isin.
Damu is a healing deity credited both as asû "healer" and āšipu, "exorcist TT ", which says as much about the close link between the two professions as about the deity's capabilities. Accordingly, Damu accompanies his mother Gula/Ninkarrak in incantations but is also credited as healer in his own right: "Damu binds the torn ligaments" (Ebeling 1938: 115).
The Mesoptamian divine child
Damu is a Sumerian god, documented since the period of the Third Dynasty of Ur. He had a cult in Isin, where he was called the son of the local tutelary goddess, Ninisina. Thorkild Jacobsen in his masterwork on Mesopotamian Religion called "The Treasures of Darkness"(Yale University Press, New Haven, London, 1976) says that Damu is also considered the son of Urash, another name for Ninhursag-Ki, the Great Mother Earth, and Enki, god of Wisdom, Magick and the sweet fertilizing waters of the deep, the Abzu, as well as a younger, childlike version of Dumuzi/Tammuz, the archetypal Lover and Divine Bridegroom of Mesopotamia. As such, Damu is very much a healing deity, bringer of abundance and vitality. Jacobsen also states that He seems to represent the power in the raising sap, so vital for the orchard growers of the lower Euphrates. The prominent figures in the cycle of Damu as the Mesopotamian Divine Child are also present in the cycle of Dumuzi, namely his mother and sister(s), who Damu´s loss to the Underworld and rejoice at his triumphant return to the Worlds Above.
Not much has reached us to allow for the reconstruction of Damu´s . We don´t know whether He had a miraculous birth, as it is normally the case for Divine in myth and religion. Because we meet Damu namely through the hymns where his mother and sister(s) search for him and learn that "He is lost to the Underworld", his cycle may very well be related to the renewal of the land in its full vitality and splendor, especially the fruits of orchards and trees such as the date palm and the tamarisk, and about family ties that endure the hardest trials not to be broken by outer circumstances.
This may be very well the inner meaning of a myth whose plot as by Jacobsen goes as follows: Damu´s older and younger sisters him in a boat ready to sail down to the Land of No Return. The sisters call to him, one standing at the prow and the other at the stern of the boat, and ask to be taken aboard. At first Damu does not answer, but when the deputy of the Underworld tells him to, Damu tries to dissuade his sisters by argumenting that he is going as a prisoner, and comparing himself to a tree, a tamarisk or date palm being destroyed before its time. The sisters, however, insist, offering their ornaments and jewelry as ransom. The sisters are then allowed to their brother, and the journey to the Underworld proceeds. Eventually, the boat arrives in the Netherworld, where, unexpectedly, it is halted by a son of Ereshkigal, probably Ninazu (says Jacobsen, but Ninazu is the third son of Enlil and Ninlil according to the myth of Enlil and Ninlil: kinship to Ereshkigal might be symbolic, as Inanna says that She is Ereshkigal´s sister, and in a way She is, although not in a direct line). Ereshkigal´s son orders Damu to be released, and Damu, with tears of gratitude, bathes his head, puts on shoes and sits down to a tasty meal, becoming a guest and official to the Land of No Return, no more a captive.
This myth shows another success Descent and Ascent story, and the key to understand its depth is the surrender of the self to the Higher Designs of the Land of No Return, which will always give back what it is given with integrity and balance restored.
A sacred cedar tree growing in the compound of the Eanna, the main temple of Inanna and Anu in Uruk, may represent the god as sap lying dormant in the rushes and trees during the dry season but reviving, for the profound joy of the people, orchardsmen in special, with the river´s rise (the Euphrates in special)
Damu´s gifts are renewal, boundless energy, trust in the self and in what the future may bring, undying hope to face the hardest trials. And perhaps Damu´s challenge is patience to ground the wisdom of the stars we are all born with so that it can manifest in all planes.
Divine Genealogy and Syncretism
Damu's two siblings are the god Ninazu and the goddess Gunurra, both much less prominent than him. In the god-list An = Anum, Damu appears once as sukkal, "vizier", to the elusive dGIŠ.HUR.x.x (Litke 1998). According to Jacobsen 1962: 190, Damu is an aspect of Dumuzi/Tammuz due to his regenerative . Kramer 1983: 75 suggests that such a syncretism is partly due to a confusion of the two.
Damu had cults in Isin, Larsa, Lagaš, Ur and Girsu.
Time Periods Attested
Damu's earliest attestation is dated to the Ur III period. While his official cult appears not to have continued after the Old Babylonian Period (Black and Green 1998: 57), his name is found with increasing frequency in personal names of the following Kassite period (Ebeling 1938: 115).
- Chopra, Ramesh (2005). Academic Dictionary Of Mythology. Gyan Books. p. 79. ISBN 8182052327.
- Hess, Richard (2007). Israelite Religions: An Archaeological and Biblical Survey. Baker Academic. p. 94.
- Cyrus Herzl Gordon; Gary Rendsburg; Nathan H. Winter, eds. (2002). Eblaitica: Essays on the Ebla Archives and Eblaite Language. 4. Eisenbrauns. p. 141. ISBN 1575060604.