King of Blades
Planetary: Uranus (Above) / Mercury (Below)
Diamond Path: Chokmah, Wisdom (Above) / Hod, Splendor (Below)
Geomantic Figure: Cauda Draconis
Tetragram: Fire (Above) / Air (Below)
Keywords (Dignified): Debonaire, Eloquent, Intelligence, Language, Graceful, Cunning, Meticulous, Seductive, Genius, Secretive, Dangerous
Keywords (Ill-Dignified): Arrogant, Slanderous, Obsessive, Liar, Sharp, Bureaucratic, Cruel, Evil Genius, Reclusive, Deceptive, Bitter
Historical: In the Pierpont Morgan-Bergamo Visconti-Sforza pack, this is the only King with a shield, and the figure and shield look very similar to the image of Ra Hoor Khut, on our Ten of Blades card. It is emblazoned with the Sforza or Venetian lion, who has a halo and is holding a book. Elegantly clad in dark armor, he sits outside upon a white hexagonnal marble bench, with quatrefoil latticework. His sword points up, like a flame, and a pointed crown sits in his golden hair.
King David, the founder of the Judean royal dynasty, called The House of David, is the traditional historical figure associated with the King of Swords. An eloquent and righteous king, David was also a poet and a musician. He is credited with the creation of The Book of Psalms. He was highly effective in battle and famously won the battle against the Philistines, by killing their champion, Goliath. Later, he won his bride by providing 200 Philistine foreskins, to his father-in-law to be, double the amount requested.
Golden Dawn: Called The Knight of Swords Lord of the Winds and Breezes, The Knight of Swords card corresponds to the zodiacals Taurus and Gemini and the Sephira #2 (Chokmah,) in the Golden Dawn system.
Depicted as a winged man on a golden steed, the Knight of Swords raises his sword triumphantly and his mount appears lively and graceful, in all Golden Dawn packs. Light, or bright, and airy colors, are used.
Thoth: A man with dragonfly wings is Crowley’s Knight of Air. At first, it looks as if the wings are coming from his back, but instead, they are some kind of weird beanie hat. The Thoth Knight of Swords is a helicopter man. And this suits him, violent motion and levity are part of his station.
Mutational Alchemy Interpretation: Fire of Air in the below, Neptune in the above, Mars in the below, make for a stormy and powerful mix. This is the Lord of Heavenly Fire. Deep machinations of war, brewing, behind secrecy and lies, bode ill for anyone whom he calls enemy. The purpose for this war will be noble and enlightened. It is to be fought mercilessly, however, and with unnecessary bloodshed of the stupid and stubborn.
Here, the supreme royal light of the eye of Kether, is forced through the sieve of Geburah, on the female pillar. Reconciliation will arrive through divine wrath, and like his reciprocal inverse, the Prince of Staves, the volatile combination of Fire and Air burns hotter than anything purely from the realm of fire. This is a very dangerous character, and a deadly adversary. He is lightning in a bottle, and an infinite well of intellectual potency
But, there is nothing brute-like about him. He is a brilliant strategist, with more control of his fierce power than the Prince of Staves, (Air of Fire.) In peacetime, he is a witty and, stunningly intelligent, persona. He will have at his disposal the ability to impress anyone with his logic and intuition. He will always carry with him an air of superiority, he is, after all, very lofty on the Hidden Diamond’s architecture and descends only to punish. Those who wish to follow this *Hermes* character had better be able to pull their own weight, intellectually, for he has little patience to sit amongst the dumb, deaf or blind.
The Scene: Ningishzidda (sum: dnin-giš-zid-da) is a Mesopotamian deity, a member of the group referred to as the transtigridian snake gods. These deities are defined by their attachment to people of the ancient world, near the Eastern bank of the Tigris river, and their subsequent migration into Sumerian (Modern day Iranian,) territory, as well as by their ophidian attributes. He is also classified as a death god, by the canonical god list, the An-Anum. The prince-king or patesi, of Lagash, Gudea, refers to his deity by the name dingir-numun-zi-zi-da, which translates as, “god of much good progeny,” a reference to his strong fertility connotations; and, he is called Gišbanda, “Young Tree,” in Nippur.
The Ningishzidda symbol is one of the earliest known representations of the caduceus. We know Ningishzidda from a scarce handful of artifacts. Two of them have a caduceus present. One of the caduceus type symbols was unearthed at the Chogha Mish dig site in Iran, near the Elamite city of Susa, and is dated to approximately 2500 B.C. It has no identifiable cuneiform writing to link it to Ningishzidda. Chogha Mish was the epicenter for the invention of cuneiform, the earliest form of writing.
The other caduceus symbol does have cuneiform telling us about Ningishzidda: it is a steatite carving, designed to hold liquid, now housed in the Louvre, and unearthed at the Lagash dig site. The grail is engraved with crowned and winged Bašmu, dangerous, mystical, poisonous serpents who are messengers of Irkalla, the land of the dead, which is ruled by Ningishzidda’s grandmother, Ereskigal. They hold up staves with a loop of leather, or rope, on the end – a peculiar and mysterious symbol, unique to Sumerian holy iconography. Between the two chimerical creatures is the caduceus itself, a double-headed snake, twining about the sphere-capped pole. The inscription reads “Dedicated by Gudea, ruler of Lagash, to his god, Ningishzidda, for the prolongation of his life.”
Its decoration is wholly symbolic, two snakes, twined round a pole, rise up to the lip of the vase, as if to drink the liquid poured from it, while two winged dragons stand guard behind them, holding in their front paws a staff with a loop at the top. These monsters must have inspired the most salutary awe, for they combine several dangerous animals in one; the eagle contributes its wings and talons, the snake its head, the panther its body, and the scorpion its poison-charged tail. This composite beast has the divine prerogatives: witness its horned crown. There can be no room for doubt: this is the animal attribute of the god Ningizzida, and as such protects Gudea, while ensuring the fertility of his dominions through the twining snake accompanying it. Here we have the origin of the caduceus, which through the ages has retained its virtue as a beneficent emblem.
Andre Parrot, Sumer: The Dawn of Art 1961
His name, in Sumerian, is usually translated as “lord of the good tree”. Thorkild Jacobsen agrees with this and interprets the meaning as “the power of the tree to draw substance through its roots.”
Three economic groups are identified in the region, spanning from Uruk to Ur. First, there are the marshland people, who worshipped deities descending from Enki, in the cities of Eridu, Ku’ar and Nina. Second, the herdsmen, who worshipped Nanna and his descendents, in Ur and northward. Lastly, a group of people who held sacred the chthonic deities descending from Ninazu, associated with trees and vegetation. He correlates the name “Lord of the Good Tree” as significant to the orchard tenders, who observed the power of the rising sap, and of the roots which resemble divine serpents, creeping up from the ground, emanating from the source of fruit and life. Jacobsen suggests they saw the serpentine roots as “embodiments of living supernatural power.”
In the balbale to Ningishzidda, he is referred to by some powerful and unruly titles. He is called “murderous howling Muš-huš,” as well as: “Lord with Holy Dignity, Falcon Preying on the Gods, Impetuous Leopard, Lofty-headed Prince, Serpent with a Great Tongue, Lion of the Distant Mountains,” and many others.
Ningishzidda is the son of Ninazu and Ningirida. One of his consorts is Geshtin-anna (“heavenly grape vine”), who is a daughter of Enki and Ninhursag, as well as sister of Tammuz and Azimua (“productive branch,”) another daughter of Enki and Ninhursag born under unusual circumstances. Azimua is given to Ningishzidda as a bride after she is born from Enki’s body.
Early scholars at the beginning of the 20th century, following an inscription found at Lagash, determined he was the son of Heaven, (Anu,) and Earth (Uras).
According to Franz Wiggermann it is Istaran, another ophidian member of the Ninazu clan, and Elamite god of the land called Der, bordering Sumer, who is the son of Anu and Uras. Since this relationship is also attributed to Ningishzidda by Price, it is unclear whether an error was made in translation, or if the two gods were merged. Ningishzidda is said to reside in high mountains, even though he has the authority to command in the underworld, apparently considered to have no equal and able to control anyone who has a personal god.
“Foremost one, leader of the assembly, glory of ……, king endowed with awesomeness, sun of the masses, advancing in front of them! Who can rival you in the highest heaven? What can equal you?” Hero who, after surveying the battle, goes up to the high mountains! Ninĝišzida, who, after surveying the battle, goes up to the high mountains! King, you who carry out commands in the great underworld, you who carry out the underworld’s business! Any youth who has a personal god is at your disposal, there where your commands are issued. O king, honeyed mouth of the gods! Praise be to Enki. Ninĝišzida, son of Ninazu!
– A balbale of Ninĝišzida, Sumer
Istaran had an alcove at the temple of Ningishzidda, so, this could be an example of the common practice of merging two gods, with similar characteristics. Istaran has clear ophidian characteristics, as his son Nirah, is depicted as a serpent. However, Istaran is also a sky god, his name An-Gal, means, literally, “Great Sky”, and he is married to Manzat, the rainbow. Ningishzidda’s vizier is called Ip-pu, in the An-Anum.
The Muš-huš, (Literally “Dragon,”) also called mušhuššu in Akkadian, is a particular type of creature from Mesopotamian mythology. It identifying markers are a long neck, an elongated horse-like torso, covered in scales, a long tail ending in a scorpion stinger, two pronged horns, (often mistaken for one horn in 2D reliefs,) and clawed feet. In Babylon these clawed feet were depicted in the rear as bird-like, while in earlier depictions, from Sumer, they were leonine. The dragon on the Ishtar gate at Babylon, is a Muš-huš and retains the ophidian qualities of the transtigridian snake gods. In prayers to Ningishzidda, the god is referred to as a “murderous, howling Muš-huš.” Bašmu and Ušumgal are other magickal snakes. Ušumgal translates as “Great venomous snake”. Incantations have been recorded invoking the name of Ningishzidda’s father, Ninazu, to control the Ušumgal. The Ušumgal is a chaos monster, like the Muš-huš, in a serpent form. They bring illness and poison, and are very dangerous. The name Bašmu refers to the horned serpents rising from Ningishzidda’s shoulders, in his human shape. Mušmahhu is the last beast associated to Ningishzidda, and it refers to the seven-headed dragon that rarely appears in surviving Mesopotamian artifacts. In Ninurta’s return to Nibru, the storm god describes one of his weapons as “the seven-mouthed Mušmahhu serpent”. Astrologically, Ningishzidda was associated with the constellation we know as Hydra, in Western astronomy.
Much of the ritual practices from the Ancient Near East is lost; however, we do have a few pieces of information about the day to day religious activity of these ancient people. Each god was provided with what was called an “En,” a male or female priest, depending on the sex of the divinity, who acted as a mortal spouse. Ningishzidda’s temple is said to have been on the outskirts, that is, rural, and not within the city limits itself.
Chthonic deities fill the role of intercessors to the dead. Ancestral worship was important to ancient Sumerians, and the role of Ninazu, and his son Ningishzidda, was vital to ensuring favorable relationships between the land of the living and the land of Queen Ereskigal, Ningishzidda’s grandmother. Libation pipes would be inserted into the ground above a dead person, and liquid would be poured into the tube to feed the ancestral spirit.
Remnants of festival plans record the supplies needed to satisfy the temple of Ningishzidda, it says “32 gur and 76 liters of barley for the festival of Ningishzidda,” An Ur tablet calls for cheese, butter and dates to be provided to Ningishzidda, as well as a grain fed sheep.
Descriptions of the items found at the temple of Ningishzidda in Girsu include references to the cup, now housed in the Louvre, also, clay boxes and covers, decorated with serpent reliefs, including one with four drinking from a bowl. An inscribed mace head, along with three statues of Gudea, were also found.
It was Gudea who is responsible for many of the surviving artifacts and documents we have, involving Ningishzidda. Gudea was a political figure in Lagash, much like a prince – he referred to the city patron, Ninazu, “the great physician”, as his king. His personal patron deity was Ninazu’s son, Ningishzidda, to whom he lavished devotion through artistic and economic generosity.
Gudea was not the only worshipper – although he was archaeologically and artistically vocal, King Urnammu of Ur also made rich offerings to Ningishzidda and calls him “valiant Ningishzidda,” in a prayer. 300 years after Gudea, Ningishzidda’s religion was still on the books. Receipts for herbs, dates, cheese, goats and milk are recorded upon the delivery of goods to the temple. Records have been found in Lagash, Ur and Babylon documenting delivery to the temple.
Ninazu, and his family, including Ningishzidda, lost their significance during the first half of the second millennium. Beyond this, the connection to Babylon is murky at best: Ninazu is replaced by a very similar deity called Tispak, in Esnunna, and it is through Tispak that Babylon partly assimilates the chthonic current. Far to the east, the Elamite city of Sus, after which the Susiana plain is named, is where the caduceus of Choga Mish was unearthed. Wiggermann’s paper, titled Transtigridian Snake Gods proposes that the Ninazu family: that is, gods that share ophidian and chthonic characteristics in Sumer, were imported from the east of Sumer, and were not native to the area. He describes the loss of interest in the snake gods over time – and the decline of their importance in city affairs, as well as the loss of ritual tradition. By the time Babylon had assimilated Tispak’s iconography, very little of the traditional deity of Ninazu was left. Though, he also states, there is very little difference between Tispak and Ninazu, so, it probably means a statewide decline in the chthonic and ophidian aspects of religion. Babylon’s religious sensibilities made the priests there incorporate many outlying regional gods and goddesses into the state religion, which focused on their city god, Marduk. A better known example of this can be found in Biblical text, where Babylonian forces ransack the temple at Jerusalem and seek to take the idol of the god from the Israelites. Babylon housed a temple to Ningishzidda, according to A.R. George, and artists adopted and depicted the Mušhuššu, to serve as a mount and guardian for Marduk. These Mušhuššu we find on the so-called Ishtar gate from the walls of ancient Babylon.
Note: In Mutational Alchemy, the spelling Ningishzidda, using an extra D, rather than the encyclopedic Ningishzida, or nin-g̃iš-zid-da, is used because of its special numerical relationship to Abrahadabra. In Hebrew Gematria, specifically the AIQ BKR, both Abrahadabra and Ningishzidda add to 418, the number of manifestation. Both of them also have 11 letters each. When referring to the deity within, in the context of Mutational Alchemy studies, where he has immense importance as a standard, it is both appropriate and proper to use this extra d, so as not to confuse the two subjects of Ancient Near East studies and Mutational Alchemy.
Here artistic liberty has been taken. The long bearded human form of Ningishzidda, recorded as a man, in a robe, with two horned serpents rising from his shoulders, and a horned crown, is depicted as an armored cyber knight. The background is a map of the internet, a decision made by m1thr0s. The two curving devices he holds in an ‘X’ pattern are naga-keris blades, an elegant serpentine weapon from Indonesia.
The distinctive crown of the Mesopotamian states, is stylized, on his brow. His armor is futuristic and the TwinStar, the penultimate symbol of Logos incarnate, protects his abdomen. His black armor, covering most of his body and black war paint, is a symbol of the King of Blade’s secretive nature, as well as the chthonic properties of Ningishzidda.
Geomantic: Called Cauda Draconis (Latin for *the Tail of the Dragon*) in its medieval interpretation, the correct elemental association should define it as a (Mature) Masculine/Analytical character, corresponding to the qabbalistic Yetzirah (Formation,) in the Four Celestial (or Elemental) Worlds.
Jungian Type: Artisans Class / ESTP (Promoter) Type
The ESTP is a master of social subterfuge and influence, exuding majesty and harnessing an impressive grasp of social maneuvering, supported by their accurate assessment of individuals and groups. The ESTP understands how to control people, by understanding their wants and needs.