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Offerings to the Gods

September 30, 2020

From the many tablets and artifacts left behind by the ancients, we know quite a lot about the way that Sumerians practiced their religion. Many ancient cultures made offerings to the gods as a way to celebrate or appease them. Mesopotamia was no different.

In ancient Sumer, daily offerings at the houses of the Gods pleased them and made them comfortable. In fact, at one time, gods could expect four meals a day with multiple courses!

Statues could be votive offerings and could also contain offerings, in the case of a beautiful cup or plate. First fruit offerings might include wine, beer, barley and dates.

Different gods preferred different kinds of offerings. If it pleases you, gather some offerings to give to the gods at Ishtarfest. General offerings that any of the gods would like include animal and vegetable foods and libations of water, wine and beer, as well as the burning of incense. Beer, bread, lentils, olive oil, cheese, cream, butter, honey, and tropical fruits like dates are all good choices. Jewelry and statues also make good offerings.

Offerings for some of the gods that are mentioned during the festival (there are a thousand gods, so the list is not exhaustive) are as follows:

3Qtr Right

An, the Sky God: Feathers, incense (particularly cedar, anise, and lemongrass)

Dumuzi/Tammuz: any vegetation

Enki, God of Water: beer, spring water, cucumbers, apples with stems, grapes, fish, poem or other writing

Enlil, Air God: Food, land and precious objects. For this festival, some soil from your yard will do. Also, anything related to air, such as feathers, music or the breath.

Ereshkigal/Irkalla, Goddess of the Underworld: mortuary offerings made to the dead (bread and water), fasting, weep for her

Geshtinanna,  goddess of agriculture, fertility, and dream interpretation: vegetation, dreams

Inanna/Ishtar, Goddess of Love and War, Venus: incense, wine, artisanal beer, baked treats, cedar oil or incense, rose petals, lapis lazuli

Ki, the Earth Goddess: sand or earth, jewelry or precious stones

Nammu, Goddess of the Primeval Sea: salt water, seaweed

Nanna/Sin, the Moon God: Reeds, linen

Ningal, Goddess of the Reeds & Moon: olive, fig, and apple, along with nuts such as the pistachio, walnut, and almond.

Ninkasi, Goddess of Beer: toasting with beer

Ninshubur, Messenger Goddess: anything you would offer to Inanna would also please her vizier

Shamash/Utu, the Sun God: wheat flour (especially einkorn or emmer wheat, burn a candle or incense, the bill of rights or the constitution

Siduri, the Goddess at the Inn at the end of the World: toasting with wine

To find out more about the Sumerian gods, be sure to show up for Ed VanDerJagt’s class on Sumerian Deities on Saturday Oct.10 at 11 a.m. EST on Zoom.

The devotional ritual to Inanna and Dumuzi is another good choice for exploring the magic of offerings. On Saturday Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. EST, Valerie Vogt and Ivan Richmond invite you to bring food and drink offerings, which may be eaten afterwards. Traditional offerings include lentils, olive oil, bread, cream/milk, beer and wine.

Temple of Inanna & Dumuzi will lead a devotional involving offerings at Ishtarfest 2020.

Feel free to make offerings during the other rituals as well. Water will be appropriate for the Friday night ritual Procession to the Underworld, at 7:30 p.m. EST with special guest Elspeth. Traditional offerings will be appropriate for Saturday night’s main ritual The Sacred Marriage of Shadow and Light at 7 p.m. and Sunday’s Oracle of Inanna at 8 p.m.

If you want to make a meal for the gods, check out the Sumerian cooking shows on Saturday at 12 noon and Sunday at 9 a.m. and 12 noon. See our schedule for more information at


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