Author Topic: RP:Babylonian Mysticism  (Read 10962 times)

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January 23, 2006, 03:11:37 AM
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Internet: Not a heck of alot
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Wikipedia
Books:
Ancient Babylon’s Times and Terrors : By Douglas Freeday
Babylon Mystic Religions : By L Rahman.

In the Times of Babylonian Mysticism and Magick, Religion played a large part. The were inseparable from the beliefs that the physical realms and subtle spheres of existence. Much like we have prayers to our religious forms, the Babylonians have the words :

“BY THE DURANKI”
Which translates to By the power of  heaven and earth, or “as above so below”. The Ancient Babylons have a set code of practice, both mystic and physical, to contact certain gods from which they believed created all existence, and for humans to be slaves and do their bid.
Magick, was used the affect the future, and try to understand the physical word around them. At times preists performed magick blurred in with deep religion to perform healing, science and counseling. If a woman could not have a baby, she would go to the preist/ess and he would ask the god of youth to impregnate her.
The Babylonians have a set of guides to where receive things
Sky: signs
Water: visions
Fire: forms
Earth: words
Much like magick we perform today.

Belief meant to see sacred every single manifestation of living or not in the universe, and as such Air, the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, all animals, minerals, everything there was had a corresponding Higher Form, which should be approached with due respect and given their dues. It was against the law and could be punishable by torture, sacrifice or even death to kill any living thing for no purpose.
Even scarab beetles and tarantulas had higher religious symbols, and if one crushed these, death would follow by the god.

In everyday events, they were seen as supernatural and caused by the foreseen will of the gods. Everything in nature reflected to the gods.







January 23, 2006, 08:34:00 AM
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*gives AW a cookie for being the first one to turn his summary in* ^_^

Ok :) Everyone post your research papers on Assyro-Babylonian mjk/mysticism in this thread.

Deadline is still this Wednesday, 25th.

I'd like to request anyone who wishes to provide constructive criticism to any people who post their research papers, to please do it via PM and not post it in this thread. This doesn't, of course, relate to any discussion on the research topic itself. That is welcome in this thread.

Thanks alot :)
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January 25, 2006, 04:58:12 PM
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I meant to compile my notes into a nice neat paper, but I didn't have time.  So this is messy and makes sense to me, but I'm not sure how logical it will be to the rest of you.

Super brief timeline:
4000 c. BCE Ubaidians live in Mesopotamia
2330 c. BCE  First Akkadians
2218 BCE Akkadian Empire falls
2000 c. BCE Babylonians develop/dominate in the south, Assyrians develop/dominate in the north
1792-1750 BCE Hammurabi, first Babylonian Empire
730-650 BCE First Assyrian Empire, contains most of the Near East
612 BCE Fall of Assyrian.  Rise of second Babylonian Empire (Chaldean)
539 BCE Conquest of Babylon by the Persians.

Gods of Babylon (some names a Sumerian because I couldn’t tell the difference):

Enlil- Chief of the Babylonian gods.  Although not in name the ruler of the Babylonian gods (An “Sky” is in name the supreme god of the Pantheon), Enlil tends to do most of the jobs associated with a ruling God.  Associated with the city of Nippur.  Invented the Pick/Hoe.  Name means ‘Lord Wind’ or ‘Lord of the Command.’

An (Anu)- Lord of Heaven.  Believed that he had the power to judge those that committed crimes and that he created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked.  Often depicted as a jackal.  Father and king of the Gods.  Associated with the city of Erech. 

Ki (Ninhursag)- Earth goddess.  Sister of Enlil, sometimes wife to Enlil, then called Damgalnunna.  In Akkadian called Damkina, mother of Murdak.

Enki- water, intelligence, creation.  Keeper of the holy powers called Me (although he eventually loses them when he’s drunk.)  Lord of Aspu the watery abyss.  Created the first man Admu (alternatively Adapa.)  The goat and the fish are his symbols although they eventually merge to form the symbol of Capricorn.  In the Middle Eastern myth of the Deluge, it is Enki who saves man from annihilation by rescuing the human Ziusudra either by teaching him to make a boat, or brining him to the heavens in a magical boat. 

Ishtar- represents the planet Venus.  Goddess of fertility and sexuality often associated with planting and the field; however, she was also capable of destroying the earth and making all its creatures infertile. (The dual aspects of Venus as morning and evening star?)  Also a goddess of war, battles, and the chase.  Part of the triad of Suen (the moon god, wisdom), Utu (the sun god, justice), and herself (the earth goddess, life force.)

Sin (Suen, Nanna)- Sacred city Ur.  Had a beard of Lapis lazuli and rode a winged Bull. The moon good, the illuminator. Just to be confusing, Sin is sometimes considered head of the Pantheon of gods, mostly because his cult city, Ur, controlled the upper Euphrates and thusly the water source of much of the region.  Ur also engaged in many wars of aggression during the time when Summer was dominated by city states adding the view of Sin as a powerful god.

Shamash (Sama, Utu)- the sun god.  The son of Sin.  Shamash is often considered secondary to his father Sin and therefore, the sun is considered secondary in power to the moon.  This indicates that the astrology of the area was moon school (i.e. calculated using the moon and lunar houses, rather then the sun.)  God of justice.

Bel, Ea, and An where the original triad of the Babylonian gods.  To Bel (Bel is also associated whit the city of Nippur, and is sometimes interchangeable with Enlil, although the two have different qualities) was given the earth, Ea (called Enki later) the water and An the heavens/sky.

Epics and such like:
Enûma Elish- Meaning when on high.  The Babylonian creation myth found on clay tablets (not complete.)  Similar to genesis in that it takes place over seven generations and the various things that are created in those seven generations of Gods correspond to the seven days of the Hebrew God and the things that where created on day one where also created in generation on of the Babylonian tradition.  Names Marduk king of the Gods and gives Babylon as the seat of the Gods.

The Epic of Gilgamesh- Gilgamesh is a King of Uruk, one third man, two thirds god.  Also called Izdubar in Sumerian. 

Astrology: 

Like most traditions begins with omen finding.  First evidence of observing regular patterns in the stars to correlate with human events. Emphasized planets and stars as the primary indicator of the Gods’ will here and now.  First (Babylonians) to develop a system of predicting astrological events with some certainty (in their area.)  Used individual stars to mark where the planets where (e.g. sidereal calculation, but not a definitive zodiac as there is single fixed point form which all things are calculated.) 
Three Phases:
1)   Omen finding
2)   First appearance of a zodiac, twelve thirty degree signs, no personal horoscopy, no houses
3)   Horoscopic astrology, Chaldeans, zodiac continues to be sidereal not tropical
A combination of Babylonian astronomy (they had a very good mathematical system with which to make advanced calculations of planetary placement) and Egyptian astrology come to form the basics of modern western astrology; however, it is unclear as to how much the Babylonian astrological tradition influenced the Egyptian pradagrim.  Obviously, the Egyptians also adopted the Babylonian 360 degree circle and possibly there twelve sign system and the idea that planets take precedence over constellations; however, credit for developing horoscopic astrology has always been given to the Egyptians (as well as using their tropical zodiac in calculations.) Also, the Greeks referred to their astrologers as Chaldeans (the origin of the word Charlatan.)

http://www.astro.com/people/hand_his_e.htm
www.wikepedia.com
http://www.sacred-texts.com/index.htm
Encycolpedia Britannica
“The purpose of all the major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts.” –The 14th Dali Llama

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1993/morrison-lecture.html

January 26, 2006, 04:51:07 AM
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well done. sounds good to me :wink:

January 26, 2006, 03:26:44 PM
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Sorry this is late.

Also note: I have not proofread it even once.  It's just a roughdraft, but all the content is there. Just needs cosmetic corrections which I will later provide.

Assyro-Babylonain Mysticism and Magic


Assyro-Babylonian magic is closely tied to religion.  Forces of nature, occurances, sickness, health, luck, were all tied into religious mythology.  Earth and heaven, the realm of the gods, are closely intertwined.  What happens in one has direct affect on the other.  This parallels the "As above, so below" paradigm in western magic.  Gods controlled the forces of nature, they communicated with humans in forms of sins, demons caused sickness, luck was explained by divine presence and it's absence meant that one was abandoned by divine forces due to his/her sins.

Religious practices of ancient Mesopotamian religions could be divided into three sections: those of royalty, those of the priests, and those of the common people.  Prayers, fasts, mortifications, and taboos were mostly restricted to royal religious practice.  The king could also receive divine messages.  Priest's religious practice involved the care for the temple and divine images, reciting hymns, and carrying out sacrifices. (Oppenheim, p 181-182) A lot of times priests also performed exorcisms.  Little is known about the religious life of a private individual.  It was considered that the average citizen did not have the same religious right, so to speak, as royalty or priests to communicate with the gods directly:

Quote
"It was not considered appropriate for a private person to approach the diety through dreams and visions." (Oppenheim, p 182)

In ancient Assyrian and Babylonian culture great emphasis was placed upon fate.  People strived to know it and, to some extent, control it. The world for fate was simtu, which also meant destiny.  But this word implied more than that.  It also meant something like "purpose".  Gods gave everything a simtu, from individual humans to animals, plants, and even inanimate things such as rocks.  (Oppenheim p 204)

Individual's luck was also explained using religious context.  It was determined by spiritual beings preasent at the person's side: ilu (god), istaru (goddess), lamassu (equivalent of angel. feminine), sedu (angel, masculine). (Oppenheim, p 199) Also, by two demons that follow each person: mukil res daniqti or rabis damiqti (“he who offers good things”) and mukil res lamutti or rabis lemutti (“he who offers misfortume”). (Oppenheim, p 204)

Divination was extremely important in the Mesopotamian society.  Shamash and Adad were considered the gods of divination.(Contenau, p 281) Methods of divination varied from interpreting the placement of internal organs of a sacrificial animal, to astrology.  A. Oppenheim divides Assyro-Babylonian divination into two categories:

Quote
“Two-way communication [with the deity] requires a special technique; in fact, two techniques are kown in Mesopotamia: operational and magical.  In both instances the answer comes forth in two possible manners: one is binary, that is, a yes-or-no answer; the other is based on a code accepted by both the deity and the diviner” (Opperhein, p 207-208)

In operational divination, “the diviner offers the deity the opportunity to directly affecting an object activated by diviner.” Some examples of that include: casting lots, pouring oil into water, producing smoke from a censer.  In magical divination, deity produces changes in natural phenomena such as behavior of birds and animals, their internal organs, changes in positions of celestial bodies, etc. (Opperhein, p 208-209)

Extispicy, that is interpreting abnormalities in location and looks of animal's internal organs was a very popular method of divination.  The organ of special importance was the liver, which was considered the seat of the soul of the animal (Wikipedia).  There have been found clay replicas of various level of detail of animal livers that were evidently used as examples in the training of baru (diviner) initiates.  Divination using the liver even has its own name: hepatoscopy.

Behavior of live animals, birds in particular, was observed for divination as well. Archaeologists have discovered a collection of tablets, Summa alu that are a collection of omens derived from animal behavior. (Opperhein, p 213)

Another popular form of divination was using malformed infants born to either humans or animals. Summa izbu are a collection of omens pertaining to human and animal birth abnormalities.  (Opperhein, p 218)

It seems that in Mesopotamian society, almost everything could be considered an omen. What we would call a random occurance in our society, a person of the Mesopotamian world view may consider an omen from the gods. Dreams were important divination tools as well.

Modern astrology had its beginnings in ancient Babylonia.(Wikipedia, “History of Astrology”).  Not only were celestial events considered to be omens from the gods, some gods themselves were identified with celestial bodies.  Marduk was identified with Jupiter, Ishtar with Venus, Shamash wit the sun, Sin with the moon, etc. (Wikipedia, “History of Astrology”)  However, the old Babylonian astrology was rather different from astrology we know today.  Georges Contenau writes:

Quote
“Babylonian astrology was fundamentally based on meteorology, being founded upon observations of the winds, the color of the stars, the occultation of the planets and eclipses…” (Contenau, p 289)

So phenomena such as clouds, halo around the moon, storms, eclipses were considered parts of the science of astrology. (Astrology Omens)

The moon was of the foremost importance in Babylonian astrology.  It’s phases and the time of its appearance in the sky was the subject of much attention. (Astrology Omens)  Appearance of the moon earlier then was expected, for example, was considered a bad omen. (Wikipedia, History of Astrology)  Astrological predictions were short term and were not taken as predictions of what is destined to happen, but signes and warnings/omens from the gods as to what could result if things went on as usual (in case of bad omens, if the king did not take special action to correct the situation). (Astrology Omens)

Assyrian and Babylonian magic, not only had its roots in religion, but was a major part of religion itself.  Magic was concerned with aversion of bad things predicted from omens and exorcism of demons (the term for exorcist was âshipu).  The primary gods of magic were Marduk and Ea. (Contenau, p 291)  The magic that âshipu priests practiced was what is commonly known as “white” magic.  People who practiced evil magic were called sorcerers.  Besides exorcising demons, another of âshipu’s duties included removal of curses placed on the victim by sorcerers.

The most prominent element in Assyro-Babylonian magic is the true name of a person or demon being exorcised.  In fact, name was almost equivalent with the object/individual itself.  If something was not named, it did not exist.  Names were thought to posses great power and for shiptu (incantation) (Wikipedia, Assyro-Babylonian religion") to be effective, it had to contain the true name of its subject.  Voice can harvest the power and knowledge contained within a name.  Writing the name down “projects it indefinitely” (Contenau, p 161)

The shiptu and names contained in them had to be pronounced in a special tone of voice.  The word used to describe one speaking in this manner, luhhushu is even different from the regular verb “say”, and had a meaning similar to “utter”, “murmur”, or “chant”. (Contenau, p 162-163)

Quote
“In the name of the gods of heaven and earth the priest called on his adversary by name (this very exposure robbed him [the adversary] of his power).” (Contenau, p 291)

This concept of the name being tightly related to the object to which it belongs also has its origins in religion.  Before the creation of the world there was primeval chaos, which is attributed to the fact that nothing had a name.  The gods were said to undergo the following process when creating a being or thing:

Quote
“The creating god mentally defines the nature-to-be of his creation: when it has taken final shape in his imagination and he has given it a name, he draws its shape, whereby it acquires almost complete life.” (Contenau, p 197)

It is in Mesopotamia that the practice known as isopsephia, otherwise known as gematria, was first used:

Quote
“The Mesopotamians next conceived the idea of ascribing a numerical value to each sign in their syllabary so that every name was capable of numerical expression…” (Contenau, p 166)

There are even records of people signing the name in form of numbers, not letters. (Contenau, p 166)  Gods were considered to be in a numerical hierarchy of sorts as well. Anu’s number was 60, which was considered the perfect number.  Sin’s (the moon god) number was 30 (number of days in a lunar month), Ishtar’s was 15. (Contenau, p 258)

The mathematical system was based on “sexagesimal” principle.  Whence now we use decimal system: multiples of 10, in sexagesimal system is in alternating multiples of 6 and 10.

Quote
“Perhaps the most important result was that the Babylonian ‘sexagesimal’ system became widespread, and as applied to the recording of time, this gave birth to the twelve-hour day. Although this was later replaced by the Egyptian twenty-four hour day, 20th century time is still based on the division of the hour into 60 minutes and the minute into 60 senconds.” (Astrology at RIN.ru)

Other then the invocation of the gods and the use of correct names to harvest the power of and control the entities involved in the magic ritual, a lot of Mesopotamian magic was sympathetic.  Sometimes the image of a demon thought to be possessing the sick person was burned or tortured, other examples include watering plants to induce rain, etc.


Bibliography:

Oppenheim, A. Leo. Ancient Mesopotamia: Portrait of a Dead Civilization. University of Chicago Press, Chicage & London: 1964

Contenau, Georges. Everyday Life in Babylon and Assyria. Norton Library, New York: 1966

 Astrology Omens, “Babylonian-Assyrian Ittu [Omen] Astrology Before 550 BC.” http://www.geocities.com/astrologyomens

Astrology at RIN.ru. History. Mesopotamia. http://astro.rin.ru/eng/htmls/history/astro3-1.html ,

Wikipedia, "Assyro-Babylonian religion", http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_and_Assyrian_religion

Wikipedia, “History of astrology”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_astrology

Gateways to Babylon, http://www.gatewaystobabylon.com/
<Kanifer> America invented MTV. 
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