Mesopotamian Worship

Category: ?

1 Introduction


2 …

Besides animal sacrifice and offerings of prepared meats, common acts of worship include, on the basis principally of SAA 20 019 and SAA 20 024 (off-site links; these are both Neo-Assyrian rituals):

  • prostrating oneself before the god
  • strewing salt (on a table or plate with food offerings)
  • swinging a ša tēlissi (‘for-purification’, perhaps a thurible?) over a stationary censer
  • Sprinkling or setting up a bowl of fragrant oil, aromatics, juniper, or the like
  • placing food or drink (in bowls, dishes, containers, etc) onto an offering table – for instance, grain, bread, cakes, fruit such as dates or pomegranates, etc. – or setting it out on a plate
  • giving incense by placing it on a stationary censer or burner (often a specific number of times, e.g., thrice) – not necessarily frankincense, but also juniper powder and other substances
  • pouring a libation (drink offering) from a libation bowl into a brazier, into a pit, body of water or some receptacle – offering substances like water, beer, wine, honey, oil, milk, blood, and often several of them together or in sequence
  • burning honey and oil
  • speaking prayers, intoning ritual songs, reciting lamentations, etc.
  • seating cult statues of the gods (or other symbols/attributes of them), kissing their feet, etc.
  • dedicating metal, textiles, etc.

This list is not meant to be comprehensive. The tasks may be divided between different people, and the sequence of events and the movement of different actors (human and divine) may also be ritualized.

Simple formulae used during rituals include, based on SAA 20 001, SAA 20 002, SAA 20 015 and SAA 20 037 (off-site links; these are again Neo-Assyrian):

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Personally, I use the following steps for routine worship:

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