By Mehmet Kurtkaya
Published online on November 12, 2016 (Updated on May 30, 2017)
Sumerian relief Tree of Life
The tree of life or the World Tree can be found in many cultures around the world, yet it is central to the Turks from Central Asia and Siberia along with Tengriism and Shamanism. The tree of life is part of a wider spiritual life, along with the idea of a world mountain or cosmic mountain (represented by the pyramids).
Depictions of the Tree of Life are found in Sumerian cylinder seals.
It is a major object/theme for shamans and their beliefs. Shamanism has been a common practice observed in Tengriism among Turks from the ancestral homelands of the Altai mountains, Baikal and Baikash lakes, and elsewhere in Siberia, as well as in the Turkic nations of Mongolia and Hungary.
The world tree in Turkic mythology and cosmology is the world axis (Axis Mundi) that connects the underworld, the earth, the sky, and the levels of heaven where gods reside (corresponding to Anunaki in Sumerian Mythology).
This representation involves continual regeneration of life, death, and afterlife. In Norse-Scandinavian mythology, the Tree of Life is named Yggdrasil.
Shamans use the tree motif in their drums along with a sky-colored blue lapis lazuli stone. The ritual involves a spiritual journey into the netherworld (located under the earth) to simulate a near-death experience, at times using psychedelic mushrooms and then coming back to life.
These Turkic/Siberian elements, including lapis lazuli, are present in Sumerian myths!
Consider Inanna's Descent into the Netherworld, the oldest myth in the world:
From the great heaven, Inanna set her mind on the great below... descended to the underworld... She hung small lapis lazuli beads around her neck...
And then there is Inanna and the Huluppu Tree, where the Huluppu tree is the equivalent of the Tree of Life.
The myth Enki and the World Order also involve a Tree of Life.
In the first existential story, and the most prominent life-death myth Bilgemesh (Gilgamesh), the plant of eternal youth, which was stolen by a serpent, represents the Tree of Life.
Turkic - Siberian shamanistic rituals are practiced according to the Turkic cosmogony involving a cosmic mountain.
For Altay/Altai Turks, mountains are sacred. The tree of life is imagined to be either in the middle or at the top of the cosmic mountain! Think of the Ziggurats and Egyptian pyramids as representations of the cosmic mountain!
As a side note, one should also consider the tree of life on a Scythian carpet found in the Pazyryk kurgan in Siberia, Russia, dated to 500 BC.
Putting together all the beliefs, cosmic mountain, cosmology of Underworld-Earth-Sky-Heaven, shamanism and shaman rituals, sky God, SKy God-Anunaki as well as the linguistic terms that refer to sky and sky God, An and Dingir being the same in Turkic and Sumerian, we can firmly conclude that Sumerians were Turkic people from Central Asia whose ancestral home was Siberia.
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