Melammu and the Exalted Anima

The anima, a mantle of divine radiance possessed by the Exalted in Onyx Path’s RPG of that name, is nothing original. Such glows form a mainstay of Christian iconography, appearing as either a head-crowning halo or a body-encircling aureole. Similar imagery appears in Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic iconography over the past two thousand years. But such luminescence predates the Christian era. A prime example appears in Homer’s Iliad:

But Achilles dear to Jove arose, and Minerva flung her tasselled aegis round his strong shoulders; she crowned his head with a halo of golden cloud from which she kindled a glow of gleaming fire.

Another pre-Christian motif resembling the Exalted anima is the velificatio. This veil-like aura, its name derived from the Latin for setting sail, surrounds certain gods in ancient Roman art—as well as emperors who have been granted divinity.

We can trace the nimbus even farther back, however, to ancient Mesopotamia. There it took the form of the melammu, a light or fire granted by the highest of gods that denoted power and authority. This has long been an obscure concept; I’d never heard of it until I did some in-depth research into Mesopotamian mythology in 2011 for my home Scion game. There’s not a lot of information to be found about melammu online, but this paper appears to be a good resource. It includes a number of instances wherein Mesopotamian monarchs or mythic heroes are endowed with solar or lunar radiance, granting or embodying a measure of divine power and authority. It’s well worth a look!



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