Advent

As August comes to an end, I’m reminded of something that once seemed insignificant.

September 24, 2021, will mark the fourth anniversary of É-Sangamon (Temple Sangamon), the small temple dedicated to the gods of Mesopotamia that was founded in the American Midwest.

The temple shares its name with the region and river which ensures the fertility and stability of the region.

A name that is Potawatomi in origin, “Sain-guee-mon”, meaning “where there is plenty to eat” the name Sangamon also lends itself well to the Sumerian saĝ-ĝá-mu-ún (𒊕𒂷𒈬𒂦) which means “foremost home with a high name”, or “foremost temple, home with a high name” when preceded by the Sumerian term É (𒂍) meaning temple.

Five years ago, before the temple was founded, those liturgical and ritual texts that I had written would never have been considered worthwhile publishing for others. While such texts were shared amongst friends and fellow members of my spiritual community, I never expected that this work would be printed and bound for individuals all over the world to purchase. That however, never stopped me from writing hymns, rituals, and even clumsily formulated theophoric names.

The latter of which included Dumu-amarutu (son of the solar calf — an allusion to Marduk), Dumu-tur (little son), and even Ur-Ninegal (servant of the lady of the exalted house — an allusion to Inanna). All names that I fancied to be appropriate for myself — none of which stuck with me. Instead I chose to keep my birth name. After all, being named after a prophet and a king is sufficient. I digress however, as I could talk about names ad nauseum.

Just last week, I received the tangible form of years of work, fully realized and illustrated.

It still feels surreal and I’m certain that I’m not alone in feeling this way, as many new authors must feel this way. The response has been overwhelming and I am thankful that my contribution to the esoteric community has received a warm welcome.

As history informs us, 2021 BCE saw the gradual decline of the Third Dynasty of Ur (Ur III) and the waning power of the Neo-Sumerian people. Despite this decline however, the Ur III period witnessed a boom in arts, culture, architecture, and literature on a grand scale. In fact, such mass-produced literary texts included the Epic of Gilgamesh.

My many conversations with my colleagues and friends leads me to believe that the esoteric community — specifically our corner of the esoteric community as Mesopotamian polytheists, pagans, and occultists, is experiencing something akin to a renaissance as 2021 CE slowly becomes 2022 CE. Despite the challenges that last year and even this year have posed for all of us, artists I have the privilege to know are flexing their creative muscles to brings the gods of Sumer, Akkad, Nippur, Babylon, and Aššur to life; academic pagans and polytheists are expanding our views and assumptions by sharing new insights informed by new research; community leaders are organizing conferences online to provide a platform for the Mesopotamian community; temples are being established both on and offline.

Perhaps several millennia of silence have come to an end.

Samuel David

Calendars of the Past: The Festival of Tammuz

Guest post by Seph Gonzalez

With the procession of Ṣilluš-ṭāb and Kaṭuna on 21 July behind them, and the withering power of the midsummer sun beginning to scour the earth from above, the people of Ancient Mesopotamia prepared for one of the most mournful episodes in their calendrical year: the Festival of Tammuz.

Marking the anniversary of Dumuzi’s murder at the hands of the gallû and subsequent imprisonment in the netherworld as a substitute for the goddess Inana, the Festival of Tammuz was a somber observance that lasted for three days: from the 26-28 of Duʾūzu in the cities of Ashur and Nineveh, and the 27-29 of Duʾūzu in the cities of Arbela and Nimrud.

Using the Ashur dating, this year the Festival of Tammuz begins on 05 August and concludes on 07 August.

We are all, no doubt, familiar with the narrative myth of *Inana’s Descent to the Netherworld*, during which the goddess Inana abandons the heavens and her earthly temples on a misguided quest to add the kingdom of the netherworld to her realm.

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Calendars of the Past: Araḫ Addaru Arkû

Guest post by Seph Gonzalez

Calendars in Mesopotamia were primarily lunar in nature, with certain solar phenomenon, including the solstices and equinoxes, also being observed. Both the length of a given year and the duration of its constituent months were determined by the phases of the moon, and each year consisted of twelve standard months that varied in length between 28 and 30 days. Every new year began in the spring, with the first sighting of a waxing lunar crescent following the vernal equinox, stabilizing New Year’s Day somewhere between 22 March and 21 April. There is no evidence of a standardized system for intercalating months to account for equinoctial precession prior to 500 BCE, but both the Sumerians and Semites did make use of an intercalary month when it became visibly apparent that the first month of the new year was going to arrive before the vernal equinox had occurred.

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Calendars of the Past: Arḫu Shabāṭu

We’re pleased to share our platform with another member of the Mesopotamian polytheist community.

Seph Gonzalez is a Mesopotamian polytheist living in the American Midwest. He is devoted to the local pantheon of the Lagash city-state, and moderates a Reddit community (r/Sumer) dedicated to the reconstruction and revival of Mesopotamian polytheism in its many forms.

His content shared here will highlight the Standard Mesopotamian calendar and the culture of the ancient Mesopotamian people.

Gudea, ruler of the state of Lagash in Southern Mesopotamia ruled c. 2144–2124 BC.

In the standard Mesopotamian calendar—in use across the kingdom of Babylonia since ca. 1400 BCE and the kingdom of Assyria ca. 1100 BCE—the name of the eleventh month is shabāṭu. Cohen, in the 2015 update to his study of the calendars and festivals of the Ancient Near East, traces the etymology of the month-name to the Akkadian šabāṭu, which the CAD defines as: v.; 1. to strike or hit (said of demons or illness), 2. to blow (said of the wind), 3. to sweep. Cohen believes that “to blow (said of the wind)” is an adequate description for a winter month, and I find the onset of illness, as per definition 1, to be a fitting association in the modern day as well.

Deity Highlight: 𒀭𒀏 — Nanshe

In Sumerian mythology, Nanshe or Nanše was the daughter of Enki and Ninhursag.

Her functions as a goddess were varied. She was a goddess of social justice, prophecy, fertility and fishing. She is most likely symbolized by pelicans and fish.

During the time of Gudea (2144 – 2124 BCE), many hymns to Nanshe appeared showing her in an elevated position in the pantheon. She was the widely worshiped goddess of social justice. She nurtured orphans, provided for widows, gave advice to those in debt, and took in refugees from war torn areas.

Holding a higher ranking in the pantheon during this era, Nanshe sometimes shared the same tasks as Utu, the traditional god of justice. She sat on the holy thrones with the other prominent gods, and was seen as a goddess of protection.

“O lady, O queen, O goddess,
Your right hand is justice.
Utu has entrusted his power unto you;
Your mercy is without end.
O Nanshe:
Great is your name in Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld.

O lady, O queen, O goddess,
The power that casts down the proud and exalts the humble.
The downcast look upon you and are strengthened;
The widow and the orphan find comfort in your great house.
O Nanshe:
Great is your name in Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld.

O lady, O queen, O goddess,
Your left hand is liberty.
The man in bondage looks upon you and is freed from his shackles;
The ravaged find healing in your embrace.
In your presence the oppressed may live and move and have their being.
O Nanshe:
Great is your name in Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld.”