Introduction to the Sumerian Religion
The Sumerian Religion that exists today is still in it’s formative stages. While we are currently classed as quite a young faith tradition among the other faiths, we are also the reconstruction of the oldest written religion. Our path sits in somewhat of a unique position of being both a Pagan faith tradition, alongside the ancestral religion of the Abrahamic Faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). This offers us a different perspective to other Pagan faith traditions, and a chance to find common ground on both sides of the divide.
What is Paganism – vs- Religion?
Pagan / peɪɡ(ə)n (noun)
- A person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions.
- A non-Christian. (dated derogatory)
- A member of a modern religious movement which seeks to incorporate beliefs or practices from outside the main world religions.
Many people see Pagan and ancestral religions as something to be fearful of. However many Pagan religions at one point in history WERE the main world religions. The Hellenic (Ancient Greek) religion, for example, was worshiped across much of the civilized world, while the Roman religion at its peak had spread as far north as modern Scotland, down through Europe east into Asia as far as the border between modern day Iraq and Iran, almost half the world over. This was, of course, before the Roman Empire adopted Christianity, which then followed and spread along the same paths.
However, before the Romans finally adopted Christianity, it too was classed as a ‘Pagan religion’, and one that the main world religions of the time demonized and feared.
Indeed it was in 200AD that Minucius Felix wrote of Christians that they were “a people skulking and shunning the light, they reject Gods, laugh at sacred things. They worship the genitals of their Priests, and worship the head of an ass. They indulge in incestuous orgies and ritual murder. They eat infants, and unborn children torn from their mother’s wombs”. In short, some of the very same things that Christians themselves would go on to accuse other Pagans of many centuries later.
The Sumerian religion too was once a major world religion, given that it was the main religion practiced at the birth of the civilized world. It was a religion which also helped shape and influence all three of the religions we just mentioned above. From its earliest stages in the written word in Sumer, to its travel to Akkad where it was transformed in the hands of the great En Priestess Enheduanna, daughter of the World’s first Emperor, Sargon, who was the first to theologize the mythology, reworking much of the temple hymns and myths, and from there it spread across to the Assyrian Empire, where it flourished and blossomed. It spread then to ancient Anatolia, where a cultural melting pot was already taking place alongside influences of Sargonic-mytho-historical narratives, epic tales of Kings mythologized as Gods, and the Gods that where their protectors and guides. The results of this fusion of cultures and mythologies would go on to shape archaic Greek mythology, and then to Roman literature and epics.
The Sumerian religion was written in tablets long before the ten commandments were given to Moses. Written in cuneiform script, the earliest written language, they held myths which told epic tales of God and Monsters, heroes and devils; of powerful quests and incredible adventures; journeys to magical gardens, and mythical trees that bore fruit granting eternal life; to a world where Gods could be Kings, and Kings could be Gods, and where an epic flood that almost wiped out all of mankind, and the God who saved them from it, the building of an ark, and at the end of all this, a child was born. This child was the son of one of the scribes of a Sumerian city called Ur, and he would go on to change the world.
That boy was known as Abraham.
When Abraham was a child
Abraham, the young boy would go on to become the father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all of which are classed as main world religions, was born in the Sumer. While he is the father of those religions, he is also a child of ours. For the Sumerian religion is the ancestral religion of the Abrahamic faiths. It is from Sumer that Abraham begins his journey, Abraham was a child of Sumer. His father and grandfather were both scribes of Ur, and they would have practiced the Sumerian religion, and the Sumerian religion it what Abraham was he was brought up into, and his God would have come from there, since his God told him to begin his journey from there. It is from our religion where his God begins, and why many seekers arrive at where you are now.
It’s the Sumerian religion that sits at the beginning of all those other faith traditions, and to understand the present we must look to understand the past, and chart the journey of the God of Abraham back through time to his ancestral origins. That journey starts with Abraham, and it begins in the city he was born and brought up in, and whose father and grandfather served as scribes in the temple.
While we are a Pagan religion, we also intersect the religions of the book, and that is something that puts us in a rather unique space, as we walk a path that lies in between, and in many ways we can act as the bridge between both worlds.
Too many Christian academics seem too focused on Israel, and trying to trace their God from there, and not from where the Biblical patriarch actually began his journey. We always found that strange to look to Ugaritic sources for answers when Abraham was Sumerian in origin. Why focus on where Abraham’s people ended up on their travels, and not where they began the journey to look for answers? It is a deeply flawed mind-set of trying to understand the culture of the city where Abraham’s great great grandchildren were born in order to find the origins of their God, and not the city and civilization where the Biblical Patriarch was born into himself.
Many also fail to realize the concept and process of Monotheism predates even the Bible, and began in Babylon with the God Marduk and the concept on Monolatrism. Though it was more of a polytheistic monotheism when you look at the fifty names of Marduk. ie. Marduk is Enki for magic, Marduk is Enlil for strength etc. Interestingly the first great Jewish Messiah Cyrus worshiped Marduk as his one and only personal God.
Though our journey begins before that with the first God who saved mankind from the Great Flood, and who confused the languages of man in the tower of babel. The God who made mankind from clay, and who created the daughter of the rib in a magical garden. He was the father of the first monotheistic God Marduk, and his name was Enki.
Sumerian religious reconstruction is one of the branches of Kaldanism, a pagan path classed as a part of the Semitic Pagan and Neopagan traditions.
The term Kaldian, or Chaldean, is now an antiquated term that was once used to refer to the ancient inhabitants of Southern Mesopotamia; the people we now call the Sumerians. It is a term widely used in the Bible to describe the ancient and ancestral inhabitants of the cities where civilisation began, with focus on a city known as Ur, the Birthplace of the Biblical Patriarch Abraham.
Semitic Neopaganism, or Semitic modern paganism, is a group of religions attempting to revive and reconstruct the ancestral religions of the ancient Near East, particularly the old traditions of the Semitic peoples, including the pre-Semitic Sumerian elements of Mesopotamian religion. These religions are the ancient traditions of the Bible lands, with most related to, or practiced alongside Judaism, and in some cases practiced millennia before Judaism had even began. Judaism began with Moses, while Islam began with Mohammad, however before that we had the descendants of the Biblical Patriarch Abraham, who was a Sumerian.
The Semitic Paganism practiced today is both ethnic and non-ethnic in nature, in that there are ethnically Semite groups of people recovering their ancient polytheistic cults (particularly among the Jews, the Assyrians, the Lebanese, and Crypto-Pagans across the predominantly Muslim populations), and non-Semite people adopting Semitic Pagan worship. The Semitic Pagan religions are divided into Levantine, Arabian and Mesopotamian movements. Many are focused on religions practiced either prior to Judaism, or alongside it, ancient forms of pre-Biblical Judaism are also practiced, where a Goddess is also worshipped alongside their God. Forms of Witchcraft religions inspired by the Semitic milieu, such as Jewitchery, may also be enclosed within the Semitic Neopagan movement. These Witchcraft groups are particularly influenced by Jewish feminism, focusing on the ancient goddess cults of the Israelites.
Kaldanism (from Arabic Kaldan, the term for Chaldea) defines those groups recovering ancient Mesopotamian religions, hence the blending of pre-Semitic Sumerian and Semitic Akkadian-Assyrian cults of Babylonian religion. There are ethnic attempts to revive the worship of the god Ashur within the nationalistic movement of the Assyrian people. Besides, non-ethnic Mesopotamian/Iraqi groups of followers have sprung up. It is in this latter group that we fall into, as our focus is on reconnecting with and reconstructing the pre-Semitic Sumerian elements of Mesopotamian religion, the first written religion in recorded history, and the ancestral religion of the Abrahamic faiths.
Reconstructing A Religion
There has never been a better time to join the Sumerian community.
With Temple of Sumer relaunching with our brand new website after over a decade online, and with our official Temple of Sumer book on the horizon covering all areas of contemporary Sumerian religious ritual and practice, things have never been better.
There’s also somewhat of a renaissance going on right now in the area of Sumero-Akkadian magic, and although this seems to have all but passed the rest of the Pagan, occult and esoteric community by, the Mesopotamian Pagan Communities are enjoying possibly the most productive decade yet in terms of publications in all areas of Ancient Near Eastern Magical practice.
We hope you join us on our journey.