A reference in an Assyrian text list the stages in the typical career of a magician as:
I hope the following guide will serve as the outline for a self-study curriculum leading to at least partial attainment of each of these stages in turn. I must say partial attainment for two reasons - first, I have very little idea of what these titles may have really meant 2700 years ago; second, even technical mastery of every detail of the following proposed curriculum will not necessarily mean success in the main project, which is spiritual attainment. Technically speaking, lines 41-42 of KAR 44 intimate what is to be expected.
People undoubtedly practiced theurgy in ancient Mesopotamia. "Theurgy," a neo-Platonic Greek term meaning "Work of the God(s)," describes a process for becoming one with the Gods - it required esoteric study, initiation under a master, and disciplined practice. The Babylonians also had a "Work of Gods," dullu ili, which was the task appointed to humankind at its creation. While the simple meaning of the term implies the daily work of the priesthood in praying and maintaining the deity in the temple, a personal layer of meaning for those engaged in the task for the thousands of years of active service in the temples of Babylonia seems not too much to suspect, despite the lack of direct textual evidence. Or perhaps we are missing something right in front of us?
I imagine that this esoteric dullu ili occured both within the officially recognized "licensed" careers of aipu/aiputu (male and female magicians) and baru/barutu (male and female diviners) as well as the careers of the "unauthorized" practitioners - the countless witches, sorcerers, necromancers and other users of magick who populate the tablets of Maqlu, urpu and many other prophylactic rituals. Although our information about magick in Babylon comes from the "establishment," I believe they are an organic extension of the primordial magickal tradition in the ancient Near East. The grades from amallu to Mama bit Aur are therefore a good standard upon which to model a modern magician's development in the lore of ancient Babylon.
|Assyri an||Golden Dawn||A.A.||Holy Orders||Temple Officers|
|1. Apkallu||Ipsissimus||Ipsissimus||Bish op||Secret Chiefs|
|2. Apkallu||Magus||Magus||Bishop||Secret Chiefs|
|3. MA.MA biti Aur||Magister Templi||Magister Templi||Priest||Secret Chiefs|
|4. MA.MA||Adeptus Exemptus||Adeptus Exemptus||-||Praemonstrator|
|5. -||Adeptus Major||Adeptus Major||Deacon||Imperator|
|6. -||Adeptus Minor||Adeptus Minor||-||Cancellarius|
|7. MA.MA sehru||Philosophus||Philosophus||Acol yte||Hegemon, Dadouchos|
|8. -||Practicus||Practicus||Exorcist||Hegemon, Stolistes|
|9. amallu MA.MA sehru||Theoricus||Zelator||Healer||Kerux|
Doing It Yourself
In the following, I suggest a curriculum and a suggested amount of time you should devote to each "grade." Each is the minimum amount of time possible, assuming you have nothing else to do. Take as long as you need, and do not be in a hurry. In the absence of a Master, you must decide for yourself when and under what conditions you should advance. If you have practiced hard, your clues should be unmistakeable.
amallu will come to a general knowledge of
Mesopotamia - the history of Sumer, Akkad, Assyria and
Babylon, as well as an overview of the ancient Near East's
prehistory, up to the present day; will be familiar with
their stories and songs, must begin to study Sumerian and
Akkadian, as well as their cuneiform writing system; will
begin to make daily offering of first drink to ancestors,
Gods, and Guardian Angel (edu and
lamassu); will begin to seek communication with the
Gods through dreams, as well as signs of the edu and
lamassu; will memorize and perform four daily prayers at
sunset, midnight, sunrise and noon, as well as the Kibratu (Babylonian Pentagram)
Performance of the Self-Initiation Ritual opens grade of amallu MAMA sehru.
sehru will continue the studies and practices of the
amallu/amallutu; must begin studies of
anatomy, physiology and psychology; must begin to learn
basic healing practices, such as rythmic breathing,
massage and relaxation, herbal medicine and the effects of
foods, and must develop a repertoire of simple cures for
common problems; will learn the major bodies of the solar
system and basic astronomy; will, if possible, assist in
or observe births, work with the elderly and dying, and if
possible deaths and mortuary practices; will travel alone
to a foreign country for at least two weeks, continuing
Study and performance of urpu self-initiates into grade of MA.MA sehru.
amallu MA.MA sehru may also perform the 8 Gate Initiations at monthly intervals.
The MA.MA sehru/tu must
give up all practices for one month (one lunar month,
beginning on the New Moon), except those studies which do
not pertain exclusively to the work, such as astronomy and
physiology. The purpose of this "fallow" period is to see
what of these studies has gone deepest in the soul, and to
let the results of the past 9 months to a year show
themselves. It is a period of introspection, a vacation.
Observe your dreams, your daydreams and the forms your
leisure takes. Depending on the results of this
introspection, the MA.MA sehru/tu may then
either a) abandon the Work (the daily practices,
copying and memorization), or b) make a formal
declaration to continue.
Deciding to continue, the MA.MA sehru/tu will resume all practices and studies of the previou grades; will study and memorize favorite portions of urpu, and the stories of the Gods (in English and Akkadian or Sumerian); will consecrate a permanent Temple; will study Divination and the Omen Texts, as well as hepatoscopy and dreams; will make statues of the God, Goddess and Dæmons, and representations of Ancestors; will pray continually for some visible sign of the edu and lamassu.
For proof of success in these studies, the MA.MA sehru/tu will diagnose and successfully treat at least three minor (but persistent) illnesses in other people; will predict the future from divination so frequently and accurately that it cannot be due to knowledge of causality; will receive the names of the edu and lamassu.
Study the Bit Rimki, the Akitu, or the Seven Day Larsa Ritual, and devise an adaptation. This will be the initiation to the grade of MA.MA.
The MA.MA will continue and become
perfected in all previous studies, to the point that the
Magician can discuss competently (although not necessarily
minutely) with scholars of these areas. Intellectually,
the Magician should aim to become a master of general
knowledge, and a master conversationist. The
MA.MA will master cuneiform to the point of
being able to identify the basic contents of any text
without sign-lists or dictionaries; will obtain complete
knowledge of three methods of impretated divination (such
as Libanomancy, or Smoke Reading, Oil
on Water, Tarot, Dice, Ifa, Geomancy, or I Ching), and
three methods of natural signs (such as Hepatoscopy, the
Flight and Singing of Birds, Cloud shapes and movement,
Animals and Astrology); will memorize Namburbis in 10
different areas; will achieve wealth and love (if not
possessing them already) through the aid of Magick.
All the work of the MA.MA/aipu/tu depends upon the relationship with the personal God and Goddess and with their representatives, the edu and lamassu. There is therefore no specific duration for the grade of MA.MA. All private work of the dullu ili culminates in this grade.
However, if the MA.MA decides upon a public or semi-public career devoted to Magick, he or she will take the title MA.MA biti with the first public announcement of this decision, either on publishing a document of magick or teaching magick publicly.
The MA.MA biti will found or become part of
a Temple or an organization of service to the Gods and
Humanity. The life of the MA.MA biti will be
completely given to this service. In addition, the Temple
Magician will attain complete understanding of the
universe, and communicate this in teaching and
The title of MA.MA biti is the last the Magician can take by will. When the service and wisdom of the Magician have been proven, the Gods and the people whom he or she has served will confer of themselves the honor of the title Apkallu - Sage. (They need not confer it with this precise word - the sign of the bestowal of the "grade" is both inward and outward; you will have a dream or series of dreams giving you the honor, and your people will commemorate your work with a celebration of election, in which you have had no part of the preparation. You may only then assume the title when this dual sign of the grade has occured).
The Apkallu/tu must only aim to work ever more closely with the Gods on behalf of her and his people, to achieve perfect understanding of every part of the Work, to serve the community under her or his charge, and to unite each part in unbroken wholeness.
The requirements for the grades culminating in MA.MA biti are often not achieved sequentially; if you have already achieved the Goal, or even a certain degree of magickal mastery, through another system, and know the basic sciences, and would like to master the Babylonian curriculum, make your goals