Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Storyblogging Carnival - forming an idea

I read about the latest Storyblogging Carnival VIII over on asmallvictory, and wondered what story I could come up with, and then it struck me - some modern story about 12th night (Zagmuk). In BABYLONIA the winter solstice was accompanied by a festival called Zagmuk, which commemorated Marduk's battle with the monsters of chaos & was supported by the Mesopotamians holding a 12 day party to assist Marduk in his struggles.

To work, the story would have to take the myth seriously. The festival of modern folks would actually have to help Marduk return from the darkness of chaos - Spring would not occur if the festivities were not properly held.

According to, the structure of Zagmuk is:

1) Nisan 1-4: Preparations and Purifications
2) Nisan 5: Day of Atonement for the king - the people descends to the suffering god. Increasing commotion of the city during the search for Marduk
3) Nisan 6: The gods arrive by barge at Babylon, among them Nabu, the son and avenger, who takes up residence in Ezida, his chapel in the temple of Marduk;
4) Nisan 7: Nabu, assisted by other gods, liberates Marduk by force from the mountain of the Netherworld;
5) Nisan 8: First determination of Destiny. The gods assemble and bestow their combined powers on Marduk who thus obtains "a destiny beyond compare";
6) Nisan 9: Triumphal procession to the Bit Akitu under the king´s guidance. This represents the participation of the community in the victory which is taking place in Nature and renews Marduk´s destruction of Chaos.
7) Nisan 10: Marduk celebrates his victory with the gods of the Upper and Underworld at a banquet in the Bit Akitu and returns to Babylon for the Sacred Marriage Rite in the same night;
8) Nisan 11: The Second Determination of Destiny. The gods assemble once more in the Chamber of Destinies to determine the destiny of society in the ensuing year. This was the last act of deities, bringing auguries and omens for the prosperity of the land.
9) Nisan 12: The visiting gods return to their temples, and life returned to its everyday normalcy, and the business of plowing and sowing and trading for the new crops was taken at hand.

It looks like the first 6 days are all preparation. Day 7 is the battle. Day 8 starts plans for the upcoming year. Days 9-10 are all fête. Day 11 is more planning for the new year, and day 12 is return.

Stories only work on conflict, so the monsters of chaos would have to try to sabotage Zagduk to make winter permanent. Stop purifications? Descent to the suffering god? Could not have them poison the fête - even monsters of chaos enjoy a good fête. The planning phase or the Gods arriving by barge would work best. Also would have had the monsters of chaos having won previously for some of the great calamities in history.

Will be tough to complete by Saturday night, but will make a goal of having the base outline by then, and be ready for the Storyblogging Carnival IX.

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