Witchcraft Literature In Mesopotamia

Authored by: Tzvi Abusch

The Babylonian World

Print publication date:  August  2007
Online publication date:  June  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415353465
eBook ISBN: 9780203946237
Adobe ISBN: 9781134261284


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Let us begin with simple definitions of magic and witchcraft in Mesopotamia. We classify as magical those rites that address the needs, crises, and desires of the individual. In contrast to some later western societies, magic in Mesopotamia was regarded as legitimate and as part of the established religion. Therefore, in a Meso-potamian context, witchcraft refers not to magical behavior as such, but to inimical behavior, that is, to the practice of magic for anti-social and destructive purposes (though, as we shall note later, not all behavior so labeled was, in fact, motivated by evil intentions).

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