Sunday, June 14, 2009
Magic was a priestly activity in Babylon and Chaldea (see Chaldeans). In Mesopotamia magic was practiced by the priestly sect called Asipu, who were designated to perform such activities which probably consisted of hypnotism, exorcism, and banning troublesome spirits.
There where another group name the Baru who were augurs, who consulted the oracles about the future by inspecting the entrails of animals and the flights of birds, "the observation of oil in water, the secret of Anu, Bel, and Ea, the tablet of the gods, the sachet of leather of the heavens and earth, the wand of cedar dear to the great gods."
Both the priest of Baru and Asipu were clothed in vestments signifying their rank, which they changed frequently in ceremonies in which they participated. There are records recorded on ancient tablets telling of kings making frequent inquiries through priestly castes. In the tablet of Sippar is decribed the initiation of a Baru to the Sun-Temple. Also, it is written that Sennachrib sought through the Baru knowledge of the cause of his father's violent death.
Again, the Asipu were exorcists whose activities included removing taboos and dismissing ghosts. Their functions are described in the following incantatory poem:
[The man] of Ea am I, [The man] of Damkina am I, The messenger of Marduk am I, My spell is the spell of Ea, My incantation is the incantation of Marduk,
The circle of Ea is in my hand, The tamarisk, the powerful weapon of Anu, In my hand I hold, The date-spathe, mighty in decision, In my hand I hold.
He that stilleth all to rest, that pacifieth all, By whose incantation everything is at peace, He is the great Lord Ea, Stilling all to rest, and pacifying all, By whose incantation everything is at peace, When I draw nigh unto the sick man.
All shall be assuaged, I am the magician born of Eridu. Begotten in Eridu and Subari, When I draw nigh unto the sick man. May Ea, King of the Deep, safeguard me!
O Ea, King of the Deep, to see, I, the magician, am thy slave March thou on my right hand, Assist [me] on my left; Add thy pure spell to mine, Add thy pure voice to mine, Vouchsafe (to me) pure words, Make fortunate utterances of my mouth, Ordain that my decisions be happy, Let me be blessed where'er I tread, Let the man whom I [now] touch be blessed. Before me may lucky thoughts be spoken, After me may a lucky finger be pointed. Oh that thou wert my guardian genius, And my guardian spirit! O God that blesseth, Marduk, Let me be blessed, where'er my path be, Thy power shall god and man proclaim; This man shall do thy service, And I too, the magician thy slave.
Unto thy house on entering…. Samas is before me, Sin [is] behind [me]. Nergal [is] at [my] right hand, Ninib [is] at my left; When I draw near unto the sick man, When I lay my hand on the head of the sick man, May a kindly Spirit, a kindly Guardian stand at my side.
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