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Consultation of a diviner or a favorable day and hour

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consultation of a diviner, or a favorable day and hour should be chosenfor the magic rite.[66][Sidenote: Incantations against sorcery and demons.]
Third, there are the collections of incantations, not however thoseemployed by the sorcerers, which were presumably illicit and hencenot publicly preserved—in an incantation which we shall soon quotesorcery is called evil and is said to employ “impure things”—but ratherdefensive measures against them and exorcisms of evil demons.[67] Butdoubtless this counter magic reflects the original procedure to a greatextent. Inasmuch as diseases generally were regarded as due to demons,who had to be exorcized by incantations, medicine was simply a branchof magic. Evil spirits were also held responsible for disturbances innature, and frequent incantations were thought necessary to keep themfrom upsetting the natural order entirely.[68] The various incantationsare arranged in series of tablets: the _Maklu_ or burning, _Ti’i_ orheadaches, _Asakki marsûti_ or fever, _Labartu_ or hag-demon, and _Niskati_ or raising of the hand. Besides these tablets there are numerousceremonial and medical texts which contain magical practice.[69] Alsohymns of praise and religious epics which at first sight one wouldnot classify as incantations seem to have had their magical uses, andFarnell suggests that “a magic origin for the practice of theologicalexegesis may be obscurely traced.”[70] Good spirits are representedas employing magic and exorcisms against the demons.[71] As a lastresort when good spirits as well as human magic had failed to check thedemons, the aid might be requisitioned of the god Ea, regarded as therepository of all science and who “alone was possessed of the magicsecrets by means of which they could be conquered and repulsed.”[72][Sidenote: A specimen incantation.]The incantations themselves show that other factors than the power ofwords entered into the magic, as may be illustrated by quoting one ofthem.“Arise ye great gods, hear my complaint,Grant me justice, take cognizance of my condition.I have made an image of my sorcerer and sorceress;I have humbled myself before you and bring to you my cause,Because of the evil they have done,Of the impure things which they have handled.May she die! Let me live!May her charm, her witchcraft, her sorcery be broken.May the plucked sprig of the _binu_ tree purify me;May it release me; may the evil odor of my mouth be scattered tothe winds.May the _mashtakal_ herb which fills the earth cleanse me.Before you let me shine like the _kankal_ herb,Let me be brilliant and pure as the _lardu_ herb.The charm of the sorceress is evil;May her words return to her mouth, her tongue be cut off.Because of her witchcraft may the gods of night smite her,The three watches of the night break her evil charm.

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