The Switching of Mercury and Saturn

Mercury and Saturn switched places throughout the history of Babylonian astrology and the cult of Marduk is likely to blame. They mixed everything up in order to raise Marduk in their slow effort in building monotheism one appropriated deity at a time.

Marduk started as a rebranding of Ninurta (Saturn). Slowly he was redefined to be the head of the Pantheon and his cult slowly changed Ninurta to be Saturn and Marduk replaced Enlil (Jupiter). They then gave him 50 names; identifying many of the other gods as just being expressions of him. This ultimately caused a political rift in the empire between those loyal to this new cult and the old beliefs guarded by the temple of Nanna (the moon) This reached its zenith during the time of the Israelite Babylonian captivity when Nebuchadnezzar II, a devotee of Marduk, really raised hell with the temple of Nanna and Babylon never really recovered.

The Israelite religion was originally polytheistic even through the rule of Solomon the wise. It wasn’t until Josiah’s rule when the Torah was rewritten that things changed. Josiah’s act in redefining the Ugaritic equivalent to Marduk, YHWH, into being the only god may have been the template the cult of Marduk followed in rewriting their own mythology and creating the Enuma Elish. The Enuma Elish is a tablet where Marduk brutally slaughters primordials (an impossible feat) and then is declared King of the universe and is given his 50 names. In some ways it parallels the similar challenging the other gods motif in the Yaoist cult from around the same time period. It’s hard to say, but understanding that the entire world surrounding Babylon was polytheistic and following various versions of the same pantheon and beliefs up until the sudden rise of these two similar monotheistic/pseudo-monotheistic cults is at least something to note, though what it means is certainly up for debate.

Untimely history tells us the verdict the seven who decree fate gave to Babylon for this act of abandonment; the once proud city is in ruins. Its divine protection ended when the people turned their backs on the very gods who helped them build it. The political turmoil weakened the empire such that its enemies could reclaim it. The full write up of this can be found in The Flood Before Noah by Irving Finkle.

In a lot of ways, it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say the cult of Marduk survived; its legacy lives on in the every Empire the world has ever seen that was built from a cult of monotheism born from this same threads of belief that started both cults. While the two are certainly by no means a continuation of one to another, the same threads definitely run through them with a shared history

The name YHWH is a shortened form of the phrase ˀel ḏū yahwī ṣabaˀôt “El who creates the hosts” (i.e. the heavenly hosts) Marduk is said to have created hosts of his own; the Igigi “Eyes in the sky, the watchers, who deflower” who are the lesser gods of the heavens under the rule of Marduk and who assist him in rebellion against the old gods. Marduk’s own original form he was based on, Ninurta, was redefined to be one of the Igigi and unfortunately it is this version of his story that survives intact.

Ninurta originally had a mercurial role but in the late period was redefined as Saturn. At the same time Enki was stripped of his power and magic and rebranded as Nabo, a god of the scribal arts and given the domain of Mercury. His stripped attributes became the god Ea who was given a much lesser role, a much more sinister guise and given no planet at all.

The gnostics taught that the god of the Torah, the god attributed to Abraham, was an evil saturnian figure called Yaltabaoth and Samael who pretended to slaughter the primordials and old gods (who the gnostics call the pleuroma) and recreate them as angels in his Mafia as he declares himself the king of the universe; all while being blind to the limitations of his power and to the surviving rule of the old gods above him. In a lot of ways the historical record verifies this account. It is therefore not inaccurate to say that all followers of the Abrahamic faiths are really worshipping Saturn in a sort of indirect way.

In any case, this is how we ended up with the planetary attributions we have today and the world in the state it is in. In a lot of ways, this was the moment the course of history changed. If the cult of Nanna had won out over Marduk’s, we’d probably live in a very different world; a world where monotheism was the exception rather than the norm. A world where Babylon never fell. A world where the only wars are those fight purely over political squabbles and the holy wars in their many forms never happened. A world where Inanna’s temple might still be around, protecting and helping all the queer people, the slutty women and everyone else society rejected and giving them a place as was done in the days of old when the old gods were still being worshipped in the cult centers of the city. When the lamentations were sung for the death of summer as winter approached instead of for all the dead wraught by the hands of the empire of the Igigi. At least a gala can dream can’t she?

To those of us who follow astrology, it’s definitely an interesting thing to note that an overzealous cult switched the attributions of the planets and the fate of the world changed with them.