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Author Topic: Arratu; a religion evolved from the myths and practices of ancient Sumer  (Read 811 times)

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DragonsFriend

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Arratu differs from most Pagan religions in that it has an open canon and an evolutionary "dogma". That means that the the rites for our lunar, agrarian and solar celebrations can be published and freely used or modified by others (within the restrictions of the open source copyright).  It also means the myths we use to describe the mysteries of time are open to change as we gain knowledge of the facts of occurrences. the only rites that are held confidential are those rites of passage that are used in the four step process of the initiation of and training of clergy. It is a young tradition having begun in 1999 when my wife and I decided that we wanted a practice in which we could openly share with others. The Sumerian pantheon is large and has similar deities to later pantheons but more than that is that we chose to recognize other pantheons and the deities within them within our practices. We both felt that different deities were just different names for those deities within our own pantheon. (a rose by any name smells the same) We are a group that believes in practicing magik as part of our daily life. The word Arratu is a sumerian word that translates to "magik worker".

There were some concepts that were used from both our traditions (mostly the agrarian celebrations) simply because we live an agrarian lifestyle and while Sumer had an agrarian population the area in which they lived had less spring and fall than winter and summer than we do in our geographic location. It was hard work building a new tradition and we looked at the published documents from the Cuneiform tablets and a process of extrapolation to get to the earliest possible mindset of the religion and how it might have evolved in the thousands of years to the present day in the best possible form. We found a balanced approach to both deity and leadership within the religion. Men and women have the same importance in the group (it is not dominated by either) the "temples" are operated on a consensus unless a consensus cannot be reached and then the High Priestess and High Priest hear all sides of the issues from the members and resolve the issue with the interest of the temple at heart and in mind. The two of them tend to cancel any ego or power struggles that sometimes occur in group dynamics.

I wrote the rituals and my wife edited them and I am in the process of writing the first book on the history of Arratu. We work together on most things and this is no different. She gives me suggestions on the "humanity" aspects and I write the religious discoveries. The story should be interesting as well as educational. There are, of course, sacred numbers that we hold and they are 3, 4, 6, 7 , 13 and 60. These numbers come from our study of Sumer and the tradition that they wrote about. It is common in Sumerian prose to repeat  a statement three times. Although it makes the piece difficult to read it did show that 3 was an important number. The 4 phases of the moon with each lasting 7 days provides for 13 lunar months in the year. There were 6 parts to every day and 6 parts to every night. As the seasons changed the six parts of the day and night would grow and shrink so they used a daytime unit and a nighttime unit to equal two units of the 24 hour cycle. As one can see they found a way to divide a complete day/night cycle into twelve parts without the use of a complex clock. They divided a circle into 6 parts with 60 parts within each of the 6. We call them degrees today and still use the 360 degrees that they invented.

The Sumerian civilization was made up of city states some of which had populations of over 20000 resident citizens. They each had personal deities, a household deity, and the all honored the city deity to which a temple was normally constructed. The temple was called a Ziggarat and was made in multiple stories of mud bricks. We chose to use an energy temple in the tradition to make it more accessible to everyone. The temple is constructed in a similar manner as any Wiccan circle except the process is four fold instead of the three steps used in Wicca and other neo-pagan rites. We cleanse the space with Water, consecrate it with Salt or "Holy Earth" (which is the ash left from the incense of ritual), prepare it for use by the spirits with incense and then build an energy sphere with either the dagger or the wand depending on the use of the space. The entire group participates in each part of the right until deity is called. This is the only step that is performed by the High Priestess and High Priest alone.

I apologize for the lengthy post - I just got carried away and when I realized I was writing a book I thought I should remove some of it. I cut it off leaving enough or maybe too much to give a taste of the tradition.
Thanks for reading it.

Paul
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earthmuffin

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Re: Arratu; a religion evolved from the myths and practices of ancient Sumer
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2015, 09:07:56 AM »

What is your position on animal sacrifice? Just curious as we had someone here a while ago who claimed it was mandatory for religion which was Mesopotamian/Sumerian reconstructionist.
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DragonsFriend

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Re: Arratu; a religion evolved from the myths and practices of ancient Sumer
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2015, 02:36:37 PM »

Since I am not a reconstuctionist and my practice is evolutionary I think that any sacrifice that requires the death of the sacrifice is unnecessary. I do use blood donation as a blood sacrifice but it is a gift of life and not death. Pythagoras taught that it was wrong to take a life that was created by the gods and offer its death back to them. I feel it is an insult to both the animal and the deity.
Sumerians did offer blood sacrifice and used the entrails to divine the future. Hebrews used blood sacrifice too but over time it has been lost. I think that is the same thing that would have happened to the Sumerian religion had it survived.
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DragonsFriend

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There are many things that the people in Sumer did that we did not include in our religion. The Lunar celebrations were by far the most important of the practices for most Sumerians. Special breads were used by the Sumerians long ago as well. That is why we have them in our celebrations. They used date and rye cakes for the dark moon celebrations. Dates were considered the "bread of life". For libations they had beer, wine and mead, although it wasn't called mead as it is today it was just called honey wine. There are even recipes for the cakes, beer and honey wine that have been translated from the original clay tablets. It was a simple step for us to use half dark and half light cakes for the quarters and white cakes for the full moon. The solar rites were second and the "cross quarter" rights were virtually nonexistent. There were lunar events that marked the cross quarters for agricultural purposes instead of the astronomical dates. The new moon "Diana's Bow" was used to begin new projects and lunar eclipses held the meaning of fertility and the coming of age for young girls. There were six lunar celebrations in all an six is one of the important magical numbers for the peoples of Sumer.
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Lucinda

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Fascinating information. Thanks so much for sharing!
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