An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies,
Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.



(Anciently known as Mesopotamia in the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley)

Map of Iraq
[From The Washington Post]
For more maps, see a fine one at Iraq, and browse through the search page at:

Friday, 26 July 2002, 4:45am
Author's Note:

THEN: More than a decade ago, the winter of 1990-1991, I was in my final year of work on a 700-page doctoral dissertation on violence and the sacred.  I was exploring worldviews in which life is seen as harmonious, sacred, interconnected; violence is viewed as a disruption of an essentially harmonious core.  Rituals and sacred arts exist to diffuse and heal that disruption.  Violence, in other words, isn't ontological, isn't "built-in," isn't part of our "hardware" -- it's learned behavior and can be un-learned if enough creativity and common sense can be brought to bear on  otherwise impossible situations.

It was my habit to turn on CNN's "Headline News" before starting up my computer for a day's work.  Thus it was that one morning I was horrified to watch the beginning of the Gulf War live on TV in my small California apartment.  Due to the time-difference, I was seeing coverage of the eerie green night-vision battle happening that same night in Iraq.  I watched in shock.  I couldn't believe my own government would be so shortsighted and reckless.  Official rhetoric aside, it was clear this was about oil and money and not much else.

Over the weeks that followed, I let my dissertation research peter out as I watched TV day and night.  I can still feel the helplessness so many of us felt.  I slept fleetingly, getting up to check the news every few hours, and then watching more news all day.  I couldn't read or write.  I prayed and lit candles.  I was deeply depressed, sick, incredulous.  Looking back, what I remember are those eerie green screens shot full of cascading explosions -- almost beautiful, but so full of death and agony.  It was a terrible time.  I, like so many, feared for Iraq, for the Middle East, for all of us.

NOW:That was Bush I's Gulf War.  Now Bush II wants to do it all over again, with no debate, no discussion, no common sense, no nothing.

Again, I'm incredulous.  We need to problem-solve, not create another generation of enemies.  Washington has become a playroom full of wrinkled teenagers who are treating the world like their own video-game.  One might look upon such immaturity with tolerance except that these aging, ego-inflated, mean-spirited teens have the power to destabilize the world and cause immense suffering all across the planet.

I'm no fan of Saddam Hussein.  He lives in pampered luxury and cares nothing for the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children.  He's gassed his own people, butchered the Kurds in the north, and destroyed the habitat of the Reed People in the south.  Why don't the Hitlers and Husseins of the world die of sudden heart attacks?  Why can't the Invisibles, or Spirits (by whatever name), engineer a quick blood-clot in such men?  Unexpected death comes every day to good, "normal" people -- so why are the power-mongering psychopaths protected and enabled to prey on the disempowered?  It makes no sense to me.

But this doesn't mean the United States has a mandate to declare war on Saddam Hussein's country.  He offends us, yes --- as do many other leaders we've armed and now wish we hadn't.  He's dangerous, yes, and so are the Israelis and a whole raft of global leaders in our own hemisphere and elsewhere to whom we've foolishly given money and arms.  But we aren't gods with the right to rub out our mistakes.  We're mortals -- so are they -- and we have to find ways of salvaging some hope without turning into the very monsters we fear.  No one can afford to take the moral highground here -- especially not us.  Sadam Hussein is what he is, and we helped create him.  That makes us worse.  We've used him for our own political and economic agendas and now we wish to snuff him for our own political and economic agendas.  We can't avoid recognizing how crazy and immoral this is.

In my pre-academic life in the '60's and '70's, I worked for an airline and had the privilege of exploring the streets of Beirut, Tehran, Jerusalem, and Cairo.  I always wanted to visit Baghdad but that plan never worked out.  Strangely, the images I've chosen for this page are largely of Baghdad from a century ago, a lost Baghdad I never could have visited in my youth, yet a Baghdad that wrenches my heart when I look at these scenes and wonder if today's Baghdad will be equally as lost -- and one day soon may not exist at all.

More than a decade ago I put my dissertation and my life on hold while I agonized over the insanity gripping the world.  As Bush II now continues Bush I's vendetta, this time I'm doing something more active by using my website to speak out.  It's time for the world to call a "time-out" and find a saner way of solving this thing.  It's time --because time might be very short.  After all we've learned in the past few decades, do we really have to stay stubbornly stuck in dehumanizing the "other" and letting violence beget violence?  Can we not simply, finally, grow up and take the more difficult, more humane route?


Two Boys from West Iraq
Photo © N. Ramzi
(Used with the kind permission of Iraqi Pages)
I've been trying to create a page on Iraq for weeks but have found no time to devote to such a large project in the midst of growing demands on other fronts.  However, this link and the following one (both sent by a friend) finally galvanized me into action.  The page will remain a work-in-progress for some time but at least I can get a few of these links out there.

This page is "The Coming October War in Iraq" by William Rivers Pitt for the respected  It was published Wednesday, 24 July, 2002.  It is a chilling, powerful report about the testimony in Boston of Scott Ritter, a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq.

...There at the lectern stood this tall lantern-jawed man, every inch the twelve-year Marine Corps veteran he was, who looked and spoke just exactly like a bulldogging high school football coach. A whistle on a string around his neck would have perfected the image.

"I need to say right out front," he said minutes into his speech, "I'm a card-carrying Republican in the conservative-moderate range who voted for George W. Bush for President. I'm not here with a political agenda. I'm not here to slam Republicans. I am one."

Yet this was a lie - Scott Ritter had come to Boston with a political agenda, one that impacts every single American citizen. Ritter was in the room that night to denounce, with roaring voice and burning eyes, the coming American war in Iraq. According to Ritter, this coming war is about nothing more or less than domestic American politics, based upon speculation and rhetoric entirely divorced from fact. According to Ritter, that war is just over the horizon.....

Don't miss this one -- Ritter's hard evidence points to a Bush-planned attack in mid-October 2002.  Time, as I say, is short, if we want to stop the insanity.

Women praying in Baghdad -- 1904
May they continue to be praying in the "thin places" beyond time/space.
(Used with the kind permission of Iraqi Pages)

This is a related report from the same day, Wednesday, July 24, 2002, from, 'We Have The Power To Say "No!" Now ' by Linda O'Brien.
...So why, why, are we letting Bush prepare to do the unthinkable and unnecessary in Iraq?

From all sides, experts say that there are better ways to deal with the potential danger of Hussein. There's a total absence of present threat from him, far less from his people. But many thousands of them will die in any form of this war Bush is pushing, whether it involves "precision" bombing or 200,000 troops. For the first time, the only rationale we'll have for their deaths is our fear of a possibility....

...We were thrust into the mythical hero's journey on September 11. The way out, the hero discovers, is always in rediscovering the power that was always there. This may be the knowledge we must turn and look upon: that we've become too afraid of our own government to challenge what it is doing. We know now. We do. It is done and will be done in our name. We must own it now, and say no.


The Great Date Gardens of Baghdad in 1916
(Used with the kind permission of Iraqi Pages)

From the Iraqi News Agency comes a lengthy text-only page on the land itself -- some of it is overly romanticized yet it also gives a real "feel" for life in the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley.  I must admit that I've thought of Iraq as mostly deserts and flat, dull plains spread out alongside the two great rivers.  This site shows me many different images of this ancient land.

About Iraq in general:

...Iraq, together with the Arab Gulf, is a down-dropped block, like that of the Red Sea, trending also in the same direction. The country was lying, millions of years ago, in a shallow sea.  Marine sediments, mainly limestones, were deposited, and streams from the surrounding land surface brought alluvium deposits into it. Thus, the sea area became gradually restricted....
About the beautiful mountains in the north and northeast:
...Natural vegetation in these mountainous areas reflects in a very clear way local climatic conditions. The lower treeeline has thermal and rainfall limitation. It is found in areas about 1,000 meters high and with an amount of annual rainfall not less than 500. Juniper trees draw at the upper parts of the forest belt, while maple, walnut, ilmond and ash trees are widely grown at the middle altitudes. The pistachio and olive trees thrive in dryer places. The inner treeline is more restricted to areas of 1,500 meters above sea level, and the annual amount of rainfall is not less than 500 mm. Alpine graces grow at higher elevations. These are natural grazing areas for large herds of sheep and goats. In summer times, shepherds, following the slow melting snow, may drive their herds as high as 9,000 feet.  This can be seen on the slops of Hassarrost mountain north-east of Rawandooz. In the fall, the process of migration is reversed....
About the famous Tigris and Euphrates:
...Water resources in Iraq are controlled by the twin rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. Both rivers have their headwaters in the humid mountains of Turkey where much of the precipitation falls as snow, and both are subject to wide seasonal fluctuation.

In the rolling areas, the rivers flow in well-defined valleys so that irrigation is normally limitto their flood plains. As soon as they enter the depositional plain they become meandering rivers.  The Euphrates enters the plain near Hit and becomes irregular south of Hindiya, while the Tigris' entrance is at Balad and becomes irregular south of Kut.

South of these entrance points the rivers flow with a gentle gradient and their currents are unable to move the sediment brought down from the hills, deposition follows, and natural levers are developed. Here the Tigris and Euphrates flow on lever ridges above the level of their extensive floods plains, thus making possible the extensive network of canals which in ancient times converted into the Garden of Eden, and which in modern times have made this the greatest date-producing region in the world....

...The Tigris level is usually high in April and May and law in September  and October. This shows a little difference from that of the Euphrates where the level is high in April and has its maximum in May. The minimum is usually in September and October....

There are rich details throughout.  Since I love reading geographical/geological data, I find this page fascinating.  I don't even mind that there are no pictures.


A Main Street in Baghdad, 1914
(Used with the kind permission of Iraqi Pages) [Links updated 11 January 2003]

From Iraqi Pages come extraordinary photos taken in Iraq and dating from the turn of the century up through 1958.  The page is filled with "thumbnails" -- just click on them and you'll access full-sized images, often with supporting data at the bottom of each image.  This is a real treasure trove, haunting and rich.  I can't look at these images without wondering what happened to these people -- and to their descendants still living today.  Full-sized, the images are amazingly vivid -- like being in a time-warp.

By the way, some thumbnails are blurry -- ignore this and just click on each one.  The weirdest looking thumbnails often turn out to be magnificent when you see them full-sized.

There's also a second page which, actually, is where I found most of the images for my own page because the first page was down when I was collecting art for this page.

Kurdish Children /// Kurdistan, Iraq
Photo © N. Ramzi
(Used with the kind permission of Iraqi Pages)

Kurd bibliography: annotation tba
Kurd beliefs, Peacock Lord:  annotation tba
Oral traditions & folklore of Iraq's Mandaeans:  annotation tba


Little girl working in fields like a young Grain-goddess
Photo © N. Ramzi
(Used with the kind permission of Iraqi Pages),505,647,684/search~S1/d?Iraq
Iraqi folklore books (in English) for children
From the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin come various excellent links to topics, both contemporary and ancient, related to Iraq.

An Iraqi Child's Art
(see directly below)
This is Art Child, a worldwide art organization for children -- the page shows only one work by an unidentified Iraqi child.  I e-mailed to see if they have more, but received no response.  Nevertheless, I am including this link, minimal as it is, because I respect its vision.


Under construction -- please be patient:
ungrokked links are at the bottom of the page, for those who wish to explore them ahead of time.

Menu of Myth*ing Links
Near Eastern pages:

Near East Opening Page & Index

The Tigris-Euphrates River Valley
(also known as Mesopotamia, Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria)
(which once covered much of modern Syria, Jordan, Lebanon,
Palestine and Israel)
(which once covered much of modern Turkey)
The Three Monotheisms: Judaism, Christianity & Islam


Common Themes:  Wars, Weapons, and Lies: The Dehumanizing Impulse
Common Themes companion page to the above: Artists & Muses: The Creative Impulse
Common Themes:  James Hillman and The Terrible Love of War
Eastern Europe: Kosovo-Serbian Invocation's Background
(Includes quoted passages from Simone Weil's work, The Illiad, or the Poem of Force)

Myth*inglinks' Home Page

(Please note: my e-mail address will be found at the bottom of my Home Page.  I cannot help with homework questions, however.  You will find useful links with tips for doing your own web searches on my Search Engine page.  You will also find excellent resources on my General Reference page.)
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Technical assistance: William Weeks
Text and Design:
Copyright 2002-2011 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
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Created 25 July 2002, 4am; wrote intro 26 July 2002, 4-6am; later in evening, grokked & organized links.
Updates: 27-28 July 2002 (10pm-4am): more grokking, imaging, reorganizing; added more to opening essay.
28 July 2002, 3pm: nedstated & launched; switched maps.
11 January 2003: checked all annotated links (but not ungrokked ones); edited opening essay for length;
18 March 2003: small revision to opening essay.
17 September 2009: updated Nedstat/Motigo & deleted PGI link.
21 February 2011: added 2 ancient Iraqui images of swastikas, inspired by Liba's FB thread on her own swastitka art.

(Note: not all will make the final cut):

From Pictures From Iraq

Silver-smithing lore
[Added 1/11/03]: Use of depleted uranium weapons by USA & allies in Iraq & Afghanistan -- quite shocking.
Caution required if you travel to Iraq!
Clinton, who also used Iraq as a "distraction" from domestic politics;
Several links to history, etc.
Many links in misc. categories
Art & history (essays)
Non-Iraqi artist's reaction to Iraq.

Search engine data:

(Used with the kind permission of Iraqi Pages)

NOTE:  Bar-separators are a detail cropped from the famous Standard of Ur  (c.2600-2400 BCE), found in Time/Life's series, MYTH AND MANKIND: Epics of Early Civilization: Middle Eastern Myth, 1998:54.