Technical Note and Disclaimer

This site is not intended to be an academic study. I am not an academic, although I have taken graduate courses in the field and have continued to study it as an amateur. Any historical, linguistic or archeological information is either common knowledge (which can be found in any basic book or encyclopedia) or relies on authorities in the field. My speculations are not to be taken as scientific, and such speculations are usually labeled as such, if the context is not clear enough. Strictly academic information can be found at "Abzu" as well as Akkadian Language Site .

I offer this site in the spirit of worship, and also play, as a practical guide which presents and adapts original sources to the needs of modern magicians and others who are interested in performing and beginning to understand ancient mesopotamian magic and religion. Therefore, the following points should be observed.

1. I use the terms "Babylon" and "Babylonian" in general to refer to the cultures of Sumer, Akkad, Assyria and Babylon. Where understanding requires greater specificity it is given. See Nam-Lugal and other chronologies for more detail.

2. I capitalize "God" and "Goddess" as well as the titles of deities and important concepts, such as King, Queen and ME. The plural "Gods" will refer collectively to all the Gods and Goddesses.

3. The information given in brackets at the head of each primary text consists of:

i) original publication(s);

ii) whether a copy, transliteration, and translation or any combination of these;

iii) other translations;

iv) other sources.

4. I have included only complete or nearly complete incantations, rituals and myths. The two major exceptions are the fragmentary tablets of the two series Maqlu and $urpu - these are so valuable as a whole that I feel it is important to present everything that remains.

5. I have presented all the incantations transliterated in their original language according to academic convention. The main reason for this is so that students can transliterate the spells back into cuneiform by using the list of values. All details of how to read the incantations, and transliterations of Sumerian and Akkadian in general, are given in The Basics of Babylonian Magick. I follow the line division of the original tablet and publication in the transliteration of the incantations.

I have simplified the transliterations in the following ways:

i) the original editor's reconstructions are incorporated directly into the text, without brackets;

ii) the original editor's corrections are incorporated directly into the text without bracketing;

iii) variants are not noted.

6. I have sometimes filled in small lacunae with words or lines that seem appropriate. These are exclusively practical in nature and should not be read as scientific speculation. They are always noted.

7. I sometimes provide short commentaries on myth and ritual texts, but in keeping with my main purpose of presenting the texts themselves for practical purposes, I have avoided long exegetical excursions. The best way to gain any appreciation of the texts is to read them and practice them over and over in the context of a spiritual life and further study. The commentaries themselves are primarily magickal, practical and exegetical, intended to be suggestive rather than scientific. I shall occasionally touch upon particularly semantic issues, and also present Sumerian and Akkadian technical phrases in their original language, to facilitate the development of a Babylonian magickal vocabulary. All foreign words are explained where they occur or can be found in the glossary.

8. Although academic students can use the information on this site for preliminary investigation, it is far from complete, and such students must go to the original published sources for the latest word on any technical question for papers, presentations, articles and books.

I hope that my presentation of the texts makes them more readable than they often appear. If I have often oversimplified the difficulties of translation, the transliterations are exactly as they appear in specialist publications, with the exceptions note in number 5 above, and the information on how to read them in The Basics of Babylonian Magic will prepare the student for venturing into both the primary and secondary literature.

However, my aim is to bring the magic to the forefront, both in the translations and the commentaries. Remember that a living interpretation of these texts is separated from us by at least 1700 years, usually much more, so that unlike other ancient texts such as the TaNaKh, there is no intermediary history of interpretation between the date of composition and the modern interpretation. All skills and methodologies which help to elucidate their meaning should therefore be embraced, from the scientific to the fantastic, from strict text editions to artistic revisions. In some cases words, lines, or whole sections will have to be revised in the light of a new chance discovery. But despite these many uncertainties, in hardly any case is the overall meaning in doubt.

These texts have been brought back into the light by devoted students of their mysteries for the last 150 years. Transliteration, collation, restoration, and translation are the initial and most tedious of the steps that have begun to revivify them. In order to make them part of the living magical and spiritual tradition, these bones of translation must be covered with the flesh of devotion. These ancient words of magic can only come to life in the patient practice of magic.