Babylonian Oil Magic in the Talmud and in the Later Jewish Literature by Samuel Daiches
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Oil has been used extensively in the Middle East for a variety of things. Most noteable is it’s use in the bible and other Middle Eastern documents for divination, anointing and consecrating. Assyrian and biblical text show how oil is used to anoint a holy stone or a king.
The books main thrust was about it’s use for oil divination. Pulling from ancient Babylonian, Assyrian and Jewish text, the author describes rituals on how to use oil to divine. Mind you that many of the methods are not useable as they involve the use of minor who has not known sin and pollution. The first method talked about was having oil in your left hand, which was not blessed and some oil in a decanter which was blessed. Oil used for magic could be used for naught else. The petitioner anointed themselves and then said a charm or blessing.
In most of the methods involving an innocent child, A circle was drawn with a black handled knife. The child and practitioner were seated in it’s center facing east as the sun rose. The practitioner would then whisper certain phrases inn the child’s ear. Next a figure would appear and would then be commanded to give over the desired information.
Other oil divination included finding out if a sick person would live or if a pregnant woman was carrying a live fetus. The oil would be put into the water and if it sunk the answer was negative or not desirable. If it rose then everything would be cool.
In learning how to cast the circle this book shed some very informative light. The circle held back the demons that would try to enter. There was a formula for blessing the gods of Babylon who worked in magic. One would cast their circle and then fumigate it with Cedar Wood. Ea (God of the Sea), Samas (Sun deity), marduk (warrior god who is connected to the sun) and maybe Sin (moon god) would be invoked.
Procedures had to be relatively exact or they would fail. There is a small notation on Princes of Eggs and oils being prone to lying which may explain their somewhat incorrectness. This could also cast divination in a bad light. Eggs could be used for divination or for protection against demons. It is thought that spirits of sort lived in finger nails and oil.
Liver, oil, finger nails and steel were used for divination due to their shininess. If someone was sick they could look into a somewhat shiny surface and if their reflection appeared the outcome would be good. If not then the outcome would be bad.
This book is a bit dated and new research may have lead to new finding not stated in the book. It was also forty pages which is rather short. Some of the pages were missing from it when I read it . But for those interested in ancient esoteric Babylonian and Jewish practices this is a good book to delve into. Since everything came from Mesopotamia those neo pagans might want to read this as well after all most of their practices came from this land.
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