Saturday, July 19, 2008

Quote of the Day: Ugaritic Ritual Incantation against Male Sexual Dysfunction

This recitation casts out the tormentors of a young man:

The pain of your rod it has banished,
The producers of the pain of your rod.

It goes forth at the voice of the ta'iyu priest,
Like smoke from a window,
Like a serpent from a pillar,
Like mountain-goats to a summit,
Like lions to a lair.

The rod has recovered,
Yea the road has come near.

Should you sin against your body,
Should you commit evil against yoru body,
You should eat moldy bread,
Drink fig-juice in oppression,
On the heights, in the well-watered valleys,
In the shadows, even at the sanctuary.

Then, as for the sorcerers, the tormentors,
Horanu will drive them out,
Even the companions of the 'lads of knowledge' he will drive out for you.

With respect to heat, do not sag,
May your tongue not stutter,
May your canal not be decanalized.

The god can clothe you,
The god can make you naked.

For the man, descend from the rod
To the earth, O flow;
For the son of man, from illness he is delivered.

[The rest of the text is corrupt.]

RIH 78/20, Trans. Dennis Pardee

So, I obviously have been reading in ancient near eastern texts lately, since I have been posting about Babylonian texts, like Gilgamesh, and Ugaritic texts, such as the one here. These incantation texts are fascinating. They take poetic form ("incantations" are "magical" texts that are chanted). These usually protect you from something. For example, there is a well-preserved incantation against snakes and scorpions and another against the ever-malevolent "evil eye." Then, of course, this one against male sexual dysfunction. Such incantations are rather common throughout the ancient near east and the ancient Mediterranean, but it is always helpful to work through a few of them to get a sense of the anxiety reflected behind them: the dangerous poisonous snakes, the malevolent evil eye, and sexual problems. And then, in fact, how beautifully they are put together in poetic form! Then imagine actually chanting these incantations aloud!

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