Sumerian Moral Guidelines

1) Servitude: The gods created man to do tasks for them. This means we are the slaves, or servants, of the gods. From the point of view of the gods this is the defining reason that we were created. To these ends we need to work hard in this life to better ourselves and the world around us. Part of this servitude is tribute to one’s gods. The gods cherish a good servant the same way that you or I would so hard work is rewarded in this life and the after life.

The gods do not require us. If all of the civilizations of the world were to fall and nobody were left to give service to the gods, then the gods would be forced to do the work themselves. They appreciate the work that we do, but we cannot hold this over their heads. We simply do not have the reach to hold such things over the heads of the gods.

2) Hospitality: The exact specifics of hospitality are not set in stone, however the basics are clear. Anyone that is a brother or sister to you in the spiritual sense may ask help of you in a time of need. It is the mark of a morally good man to grant hospitality if possible. A host must make every attempt to make their guest comfortable for the duration of their welcome.

It is the duty of the guest not to ask too much of the host. Hospitality goes both ways. Just as one person needs to be a good host, the other person needs to be a good guest. The gods and demons themselves observe the laws of hospitality, and are punished for breaking its rules.

In ancient times if one granted hospitality it included a foot bath, and the offer of a meal in addition to a place to stay for a time, and protection from any threats from the outside. Hospitality was often granted for a limited period of time, and also commonly included the exchange of minor gifts.

3) Death: Death is inescapable it should be prepared for rather than ignored. In life a Sumerian must prepare the things that they are to have in the afterlife, they must prepare to give offerings to their gods, and they must prepare themselves mentally. This doesn’t mean that fate can’t be avoided for a time, simply that it will eventually come to us all. The struggle for life is a noble task, but reality of deaths eventual hold must always be remembered.

If one does not prepare for death, they will arrive in the afterlife caught short. They will not be able to pay the gate keepers to allow them access to the rest of the underworld. They will be unable to give offerings directly to the gods. They will have none to tend to their needs. In essence they will live as the poorest of the poor in the outskirts of the underworld.

The dead must be buried with their burial offerings promptly after death, and whenever possible offerings must be made for them. Traditionally this would include drinkable water and the occasional votive servant or other small statue. These offerings were made at or near the grave as the grave was a spiritual gate to the land of the dead.

The dead must never be cremated or left out to rot as this bars the dead from the underworld. The Sumerians called ghosts, those whose homes are the ruins. This was probably because a ruined city has none to bury the dead and allow them access to the afterlife.

4) Law: Utu handed down law to mankind. This was one of the things that made Sumerians civilized. And to the Sumerians if you were not civilized, then you weren’t human. Man has been attempting to adapt these laws ever since. Even the ten commandments was copied off of pieces of the code of Hammurabi.

The gods judge us on our actions rather than our thoughts, so correct action is more important than correct thought. To think about breaking the law is not the same as actually breaking the law.

It is important to work within the system to effect changes in the world around you. Occasionally this is imposable, but order is the ideal that must be striven for.

5) Destiny: The seven great gods decree fate. As a group they judge the outcome of every event, but even so this is not a license to do whatever you wish with the excuse that it is preordained that you are to do this. Each of the seven gods works to change your destiny one way or another, and you must work to both convince them and alter your own fate.

Your destiny is wrapped up in your potential. If you have great potential, then you must look to see where you are in the order of the universe and find the place where you can do your best. Simply because a great destiny has been decreed for you does not mean that you will not have to get up and go to it. In the same way, simply because a terrible destiny has been decreed for you does not mean that you should not work to avoid it.

Some of the gods may wish to give hints as to what the future might hold. Utu has been known to give hints in the form of prophecies for example. Other gods wish to make requests upon your behavior. Listen to their advice, and earn their favor.

6) Order: Enlil decreed that the order of the universe should be set. The clever god Enki created the divine “Me”, or order of the universe. These “Me”, pronounced may, are both the rules of the universe and the power over the universe. Understanding a thing gives one a measure of power over that thing.

The gods have decreed a proper place and a destiny for everyone. If you seek that place then you will maintain the decreed order of the universe, and the world around you will work smoothly.

Order is not the same as balance, but the concept is similar. One must seek to find equilibrium with the world around them rather than stagnation. When one upsets the order of the universe one invites strife into their life and must ask the forgiveness of the gods. The gods determined the order of the universe and they will punish those who disrupt it.

There is more to the order of the universe than simply not rocking the cosmic boat though. The order of the universe reflects itself in both the physical and the spiritual universe. One image reflects onto the other.

7) Loyalty: The Sumerians worshiped their own gods and not those of other nations. Occasionally the gods of other nations would be adopted, but they were not worshiped until that point. Gods of other nations may be recognized, and their spirits may do tasks for the gods of the Sumerian pantheon, but Sumerians must not worship them.

In modern times this seems to be the hardest rule not to break. Sumerian Reconstructionists are constantly around other pagans, and asked to join in their rituals. As a Sumerian, you are allowed to participate so long as no foreign gods are invoked.