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Zuist Church logo (December 2017).svg
Type Neopagan new religious movement
Classification Sumerian religion
Region Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden
Founder Ólafur Helgi Þorgrímsson
Origin 2011
Members 2,845 (Iceland 2017)[1]
Official website http://zuism.is/
Zu, Imdugud, the thunderbird.

Zuism is a modern Pagan religious movement based on the Sumerian religion, deemed the "oldest religion, foundation of all major religions".[2] It was founded in Iceland at the start of the 2010s by Ólafur Helgi Þorgrímsson, and in 2013 the Zuist Church was registered among the religions recognised by the Icelandic government. After the mid-2010s branches of the church were established in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

In late 2015 the Zuist Church of Iceland was taken over by a new leadership, under which the church was turned into a medium for a mass protest against the nationally mandated tax on religious membership; Icelanders began converting in large numbers as the new leadership promised that the tax received by the Zuist Church would have been used to refund the church members themselves.[3] After a legal struggle, in 2017 the original directors of the church were restored to power. They decided to maintain the previous leaders' principle of refunding church members,[4] and also to devolve funds to social welfare institutions.[5][6]

Beliefs and practices

Astronomical calendar for Zuism—map of the constellations spinning around the north celestial pole;[7] An is the whole of the map and the ecliptic north pole itself, within the coil of the constellation Draco (here not represented).[8]
— The darkest-blue ring just around the centre are the constellations of the "Path of Enlil", constituting the northern or inner sky, with Enlil himself specifically identified as Mul.apin, Triangulum, the enclosure highlighted by the red line. Enlil's female, Ninlil, is the Mar.gid.da, the Great Chariot, in the same ring.[9]
— The lightest-blue ring are the constellations of the "Path of Enki", constituting the southern or outer sky, with Enki ("Lord of the Squared Earth") himself specifically identifies as Mul.iku, the Square of Pegasus, highlighted by the red line.[8]
— The medium-blue ring between the inner Path of Enlil and the outer Path of Enki is the "Path of An".[7]

The name "Zuism" originates from the Sumerian verb zu 𒍪 meaning "to know",[10] and may also refer to the thunder-bird god of wisdom, ,[11] servant of Enlil.


Gods are held to be immortal beings, who are human-like and yet invisible to human eyes. They are potencies who guide the development of the universe. The four main divine beings are:[12] ① the universal god An/Dingir (literally "Heaven"/"God", astrally identified as the ecliptic north celestial pole encompassed by the coil of the constellation Draco, and with all the constellations spinning around it;[8][13] the Little Bear is his chariot, Mar.gid.da.an.na, the "Chariot of Heaven"[9]), ② Ki or Ninhursag (literally "Earth" or "Lady of the Mountain"), ③ Enki (literally "Lord of the Squared Earth", the god of water and craft, astrally identified as Aš.iku or Mul.iku, the "Field", that is the Square of Pegasus, and generally with the southern sky—called Path of Enki—, that is to say the circle farther from the north celestial pole An[8][7]) and ④ Enlil (literally "Lord of the Storm", the god of weather and thunder, identified as Mul.apin, the "Plough", that is the constellation Triangulum, and generally with the northern sky—called Path of Enlil—, that is to say the circle nearest to the north celestial pole An; his wife Ninlil, literally "Lady of the Storm", is Mar.gid.da, the "Chariot"[9][7]). Sky, earth, air and water are thus considered the fundamental elements of the cosmos.[12]

Lesser deities include[12] Nanna (the moon), Utu (the sun), Marduk (represented with a sword and a dragon, astrally identified as Jupiter,[14] and also associated with the north celestial pole An[15]), Nabu (god of writing and wisdom, astrally identified as Mercury[14]), Nergal (god of the underworld and plagues, astrally identified as Mars[14]), Ninurta (god of war and farming, astrally identified as Saturn[16]), Inanna (goddess of love, beauty, creativity and war; astrally identified as Venus[17]) and Dumuzi (shepherd god of death and resurrection, astrally identified as Aries[18]).

Ethics and scripture recitation

The universe is developed by the gods through measures, me 𒈨.[12] Belief and practice of Zuism is based on Sumerian poems, which Zuists recite in their worship services in honour of the gods.[19] Regular gatherings are held for such scripture recitation in honour of the gods, as well as for prayers, which are either personal or for the welfare of others. Believers conduct their daily life according to the me, ethical codes given by the gods modeled after the laws of the universe, which govern every aspect of morality from individual to social economy.[12]

Zuism is a "social religion", meaning that men and gods are considered symbiotic parts of the same complex whole. Gods govern the fate of men, and relationship with them may not be forsaken. Chiefs and priests are responsible for upkeeping the relationship with the gods through daily, monthly and yearly ordinances held at temples. Priests are called en, ensi and lugal.[12]

Annulment of debt and wealth redistribution

According to the Zuist Church, Sumer had the earliest tax system in the history of civilisation for which archeological attestations exist; it was called bala. Sumerians were aware of the threat posed to economies by the accumulation of debt, and for this reason debt was regularly annulled. This practice was called amargi, and the Zuist Church aims to restore it for today, starting with the redistribution among members of the wealth received through the tax on religious membership which governments—including that of Iceland—impose on their citizens.[20]


Zuist Church of Iceland

2013–2014: official registration and Ágúst Arnar's leadership

Zuism became a recognised religion in Iceland in 2013, although it had been in existence from years before. The Zuist Church was founded by Ólafur Helgi Þorgrímsson, who soon left the movement.[21] According to the Zuist Church of Iceland, the "mother church" of the movement was in Delaware, United States.[22] The current head priest of the Zuist Church of Iceland is Ágúst Arnar Ágústsson,[23] who took on the office in September 2014.[24]

2015 hijacking and 2017 reinstatement of Ágúst Arnar as legitimate leader

In late 2015 the Board of Directors of the Zuist Church of Iceland was hijacked by people who were originally unrelated to the movement. Under the new leader Ísak Andri Ólafsson, Zuism became a medium for a protest against the major government-supported churches and against the levying of a tax on all taxpayers, payable to their religion if they had registered one; after the protest started over 3,000 members joined in a short period of time at the end of 2015.[25]

Iceland requires taxpayers to identify with one of the religions recognised by the state, or with a non-recognised religion or no religion; a tax (of about US$80, £50 in 2015) is paid to the relevant religion, if recognised, but will run directly to the government if a religion is not stated. Zuism, unlike other religions, promises to refund the money it receives from the tax. After a legal struggle, the original board and Ágúst Arnar Ágústsson were reinstated as the leaders of the movement, and by October 2017, after two years of frozen activity, the case was closed allowing the church to dispose of its taxes and refund its members.[24]

Zuist Church of Denmark

A branch of the Zuist Church was established in Denmark after the mid-2010s.

Zuist Church of Norway

A branch of the Zuist Church was also established, in 2016, in Norway, forming the Zuist Church of Norway. As of 2017 it was waiting to be registered as a recognised religion by the Norwegian government.

Zuist Church of Sweden

Another branch of the Zuist Church was established in Sweden around the same time as the Norwegian branch. The Zuist Church of Sweden's headquarters are located in Malmö.[26]

See also



  1. ^ "Populations by religious and life stance organisations 1998–2017". Reykjavík, Iceland: Statistics Iceland. 
  2. ^ "How it all began". Zuism International. Archived from the original on 23 January 2018. 
  3. ^ Harriet Sherwood (8 December 2015). "Icelanders flock to religion revering Sumerian deities and tax rebates". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017. 
  4. ^ "Zúistar búnir að endurgreiða sóknargjöldin". Zúistar á Íslandi. 16 November 2017. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017. 
  5. ^ "Zúistar hefja endurgreiðslur á sóknargjöldum upp úr miðjum nóvember". Zúistar á Íslandi. 3 November 2017. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017. 
  6. ^ "Zuism styrkir Kvennaathvarfið um eina milljón króna". Zúistar á Íslandi. 8 December 2017. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c d Didier 2009, pp. 95, Vol. I.
  8. ^ a b c d Rogers 1998, p. 21.
  9. ^ a b c Rogers 1998, p. 18.
  10. ^ Wolfe 2015.
  11. ^ "Mais pourquoi des milliers d'Islandais se convertissent au zuisme?". BFMTV. 11 December 2015. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f "Kennisetningar Zuism". Zuism Iceland. Archived from the original on 16 January 2018. 
  13. ^ Didier 2009, pp. 261–265, Vol. III.
  14. ^ a b c Rogers 1998, p. 12.
  15. ^ Didier 2009, p. 265, Vol. III.
  16. ^ Rogers 1998, p. 13.
  17. ^ Rogers 1998, p. 11.
  18. ^ Rogers 1998, p. 14.
  19. ^ "Icelanders flocking to the Zuist religion". Iceland Monitor. 1 December 2015. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017. 
  20. ^ "Amargi (Endurgreiðsla Sóknargjalda)". Zúistar á Íslandi. Archived from the original on 29 December 2017. 
  21. ^ "Dularfyllsta trúfélag á Íslandi verður brottfellt á næstunni". Stundin. 14 April 2015. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017. 
  22. ^ "Sagan okkar". Zuism Iceland. Archived from the original on 16 January 2018. 
  23. ^ Official list of registered religious groups in Iceland
  24. ^ a b "Yfirlýsing frá Ágústi Arnari Ágústsssyni, forstöðumanni trúfélagsins Zuism". Zúistar á Íslandi. 24 October 2017. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017. 
  25. ^ "Zuism – the growing religion of Iceland that offers rebates in this life". The Guardian. 9 December 2015. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017. 
  26. ^ "Where you can find us". Zuism Sweden. 


  • Didier, John C. (2009). "In and Outside the Square: The Sky and the Power of Belief in Ancient China and the World, c. 4500 BC – AD 200". Sino-Platonic Papers. Victor H. Mair (192).  Volume I: The Ancient Eurasian World and the Celestial Pivot, Volume II: Representations and Identities of High Powers in Neolithic and Bronze China, Volume III: Terrestrial and Celestial Transformations in Zhou and Early-Imperial China.
  • Rogers, J. H. (1998). "Origins of the ancient constellations: I. The Mesopotamian traditions" (PDF). Journal of the British Astronomical Association. 108 (1). 
  • Wolfe, J. N. (2015). "Zu: The Life of a Sumerian Verb in Early Mesopotamia". Academia.edu. University of California. 

External links

  • Zuist Church's Board of Directors
  • Zuist Church, international website
  • Zuist Church of Denmark
  • Zuist Church of Iceland
  • Zuist Church of Norway
  • Zuist Church of Sweden
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