Sumerianism is the oldest recorded religion in history! Sumeria is known as the Cradle of civilisation. There are currently no recorded people belonging to the Sumerian Religion.
The Sumerian religion isn't like your normal every day, modern belief. They didn't believe in Gods as such, they mostly believed in, what they called, sky people (Today we call them aliens).
The Sumerian Gods (what they believed in)
- Anunna & 7 who decree fate
- Enki & Mes
- Tiamat & Tablets of destiny
- Marduk & fiction
- Gilgamesh- It is the story of the Great flood.
According to the list of kings in Sumerian times Gilgamesh reigned for 126 years. He had a son called Urlugal, together they both rebuilt the goddess Ninlil's sanctuary.
Gilgamesh's mother and father were called Ninsun and Lugalbanda.
In Mesopotamian Mythology, Gilgamesh was a demi- god of superhuman strength who built the city walls of Uruk to protect his people from external threats. He was known as 2 thirds God and one third human.
- Tammuz- Was the God of food.
- Ishtar- The God of fertility, love, war and sex.
There is a very famous myth about Ishtar. It tells a story about when she visited the Underworld and demanded the gate keeper to let her in.
If thou openest not the gate to let me enter,
I will break the door, I will wrench the lock,
I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors.
I will bring up the dead to eat the living.
And the dead will outnumber the living.
The gate keeper rushed to tell Ereshkigal, the queen of The Underworld. She told the gate keeper to let Ishtar in but according to "The Ancient Decree".
The gate keeper lets Ishtar into the Underworld, opening one gate at a time. But there was a catch; she had to shed one item of clothing for every gates she passed. When she finally passed the seventh gate, she was completely naked. In an angry rage Ishtar threw herself at Ereshkigal, but Eresgkigal ordered her servant, Namtar, to imprison Ishtar and unleash 60 deadly diseases on her.
After Ishtar came down to The Underworld, all sexual activity stopped on Earth. The God Papsukal reports to Ea of these events. (Ea is the King of all Gods) He creates an intersex creature called Asu-shu-namir and sends him-her to Ereshkigal telling him-her to recite "The name of the Great Gods" against her and ask for the bag of waters of life. Asu-shu-namir sprinkles Ishtar with this water curing her of all the 60 diseases. Ishtar then proceeds back to the seven gates, passing through each one gaining another item of clothing again. By the time she has reached the seventh gate she is fully clothed, and exits The Underworld.
The following part of the text is lost but then carries on:
If she (Ishtar) will not grant thee her release,
To Tammuz, the lover of her youth,
Pour out pure waters, pour out fine oil;
With a festival garment deck him that he may play on the flute of lapis lazuli,
That the votaries may cheer his liver. [his spirit]
Belili [sister of Tammuz] had gathered the treasure,
With precious stones filled her bosom.
When Belili heard the lament of her brother, she dropped her treasure,
She scattered the precious stones before her,
"Oh, my only brother, do not let me perish!
On the day when Tammuz plays for me on the flute of lapis lazuli, playing it for me with the porphyry ring.
Together with him, play ye for me, ye weepers and lamenting women!
That the dead may rise up and inhale the incense."
They think the myth took place because of the death of Ishtar's lover, Tammuz.
In another version Ishtar can only return from The Underworld if she finds someone else to take her place. Demons follow her to make sure she is going to send someone back, but every time she comes across someone they always seem to be her friend, so she lets them go. When she finally reaches her home she finds her husband, Tammuz, not mourning over her disappearance. In dismay and anger she sends him to take her place in The Underworld instead of her. But Tammuz's sister is grief-stricken and volunteers to spend half a year in The Underworld so her brother can go free.
- Cedar Forest- A glorious realm of the Gods.
It is guarded by a demi-god Humbaba and was once entered by the hero Gilgamesh, he dared to cut down the tree's on his quest for immortality.
- Enkidu- The man Beast.
In the story of The Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, it says he is a wild man raised by animals and knows nothing of human society until he is taken in by Shamhat. From there on a series of lessons on human ways and there culture, makes him more used to the civilisation.
After time Enkidu became a constant companion and a deeply- beloved friend to Urk and Gilgamesh until he becomes seriously ill. The tragic death of Enkidu, encourages Gilgamesh to go on a quest, in his honour, for immortality.
Gilgamesh and Enkidu
- Zu- The winged lion
A myth about Zu: In sumero-Akkadian mythology, Zu is a storm bird, he controls the wind and thunder cloud. Zu was known as a demon, everyone feared him from the humans to the Gods. One day he stole the Tablets of Destiny from Enlil and hid them on the mountain top. Anu ordered all the other Gods to go and retrieve these tablets, even though they all feared the demon. In one story Marduk killed the demon, but in another it died from an arrow shot by Ninurta.
- Quingu- Mankind's blood
Quingu killed his father, Apsu. The leader of the goddess' was Quingu's mum, Tiamat who wanted to make him the leader of all Gods before he was slain by Marduk. Tiamat gave Quingu the three Tablets of Destiny, which he wore as a breast plate and it gave him great power. She made him the leader of her Army. Eventually he was killed by the God Marduk also, to prevent his rise and his blood was used to create mankind.
- Asag- Plague and war
Asag is described to be a demon that was so ugly he made the fish boil alive in the rivers. In battle he was said to be leading his warrior's made out of rock, which were supposed to be his demon children.
- Namtar- Deadly illness
Namtar was responsible for all the illness' and pests. He commanded 60 different deadly illness' to attack each part of the human body.
Offerings such as, food, wine, animals even people would give up there own lives for him to stop these dreadful diseases from happening to their people.
The creation of the world
Sumerians believe in a story (similar to Noah's Ark) about how the world was made...
This is where the Tablet (or Script picks up). The Gods An, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursanga create the black-headed people and comfortable conditions for the animals to live and breed. The kingship comes down from heaven and created the first cities on earth: Eridu, Bad- tibira, Larsa, Sippar, and Shurruppak.
After the second section there is a missing scripture, but we have found out that the Gods have decided not to save mankind from a terrible flood. Zi-ud-sura finds out this and gives someone instructions to build the Ark (In a later Akkadian version Enki, the God of the Waters warns the hero (Atra- hasis) of the flood.
As the script continues it describes the flood: A terrible storm rocks the huge boat for seven days and seven nights, then Utu (The sun God) appears and Zi-ud-sura creates an opening in the boat, nearly killing himself, and sacrifices oxen and sheep.
After this section the writing is lost but later on continues: The flood is apparently over, the animals flee and Zi-du-sura again tries to sacrifices himself before An (sky-God) and Enlil (Chief of the Gods), take him to dwell in Dilmun (The Gods home) for "Preserving the animals and seeds of mankind". The end of this scripture is lost and no-one knows how it ends.
According to the Sumerian Mythology, the Gods originally created humans as servants for themselves, but let them free as they became too much to handle. They also thought that nature e.g. wind, rain, plants and the sun were humans as well.
An and Ki are the mother and father of Enlil, who became leader of the Pantheon. But after the other Gods banished Enlil from Dilmum (The Gods home), for raping Ninlil, Ninlil had a child; Nanna, god of the moon. Nanna and Ningal gave birth to Inanna and to Utu, God of the sun.
A section of the old Tablet
They didn't believe in immortality for humans, only Gods, so when they died they thought you went to The Underworld.
They also believed in Me (Pronounced May). Me was a set on universal rules that HAD to be obeyed. Everyone must worship and treat the Gods with respect and accept the choices that the Gods made, no matter how injustice they may be.
The temples were the centre of the religious happening, they were a place of many sacrifices and prayers to the Gods. In them were tables, statues of importance officials, and cult-statues. In every temple, in every city an offering would be made at least 10 times a day, the offering could be water, beer, vegetables and meat; incense burned regularly. The ceremonies, were usually conducted by priests.
A Sumerian temple
Spells and charms were taken very seriously as they helped drive life. Through ritual and prayer they could earn the trust and power of the Gods and Goddess'. The Gods often disguised themselves as the ordinary people of the city and came down to Earth. Statues of Gods were often carried through the city and worshipped. There's an example of Sumerian ritual in the book "The Quest for Sumer" by Leonardo Cottrell:
"after the statue of the god Anu has left the chapel called Aemenna and has reached the Exalted Gate, all the masmasu-priests shall recite three times the incantation (entitled) Sarru ittasa...After the blessing, the masmasu- priests shall again recite four times the incantation Sarru ittasu as far as the Street of the Gods. The urigallu-priest, the masmasu-priests, the eribbitu-priests, and the brewers, who are harnessed to the cross-beam (supporting the moving statue of Anu), shall bless Anu with the blessing entitled Anu rabu same u ersetu likrabuka."
One of the most extreme rituals the Sumerians performed was:
"You shall draw the curtains shut. On the bull you shall perform the rite of Washing the Mouth. You shall whisper through a reed tube into the bull's left ear the incantation entitled "Alpu ilittu Zi attama." You shall purify the bull, using a brazier and a torch. You shall draw a ring of zisurra-flour around the bull. Standing at its head, you shall sing Nitugki niginna to the accompaniment of a bronze halahlattu....Then you shall cut out open that bull and start a fire with cedar. You shall burn the bull's heart with cedar, cypress and mashatu-flour before the kettledrum. You shall remove the tendon of the left shoulder and shall bury the body of the bull wrapped in a single reed. You shall throw some gunnu-oil on it and arrange it so that its face points to the west..."
From "The Quest of Sumer" by Leonardo Cottrell:
A sequence of religious festivals were held as celebration of one phase of the moon
A sequence of religious festivals were held each month for the completion of one phase of the moon and other natural occurrences. The biggest annual Sumerian celebration was The New Years Festival which celebrated the critical time when the harvest was collected and depended on the tide change.
The Sumerian's didn't have Holy books as such they mostly had texts and Tablets. They were a story of facts about the Gods e.g Told you who the Gods were and what they did, also myths about the Gods. One of these texts were called Enoch, which explained why Annuki, the God, came down to Earth in disguise as a human.
Sign of The Sun God