Review: Sumerian Exorcism, by M. Belanger

sembSumerian Exorcism: Magick, Demons, and the Lost Art of Marduk – M. Belanger
Dark Moon, 2013, 9781482521733, 180 pp.

Disclaimer: Michelle is my friend, so while I try to remain unbiased I acknowledge the potential for such is present.

Mesopotamian culture set the foundation for many elements of the modern Western world, and that includes the influence on magick. While the magick of the ancient Near East is often a feature in pop culture and obliquely referenced in paganism and magick generally in terms of Inanna it is rarely more than loosely based in actual beliefs and practices.

This book is a step towards helping shed some light on the actual practices of the time by sharing translations of the original source documents of various magickal tablets, most notably the Maklu Texts made famous by their reference in Simon’s Necronomicon.

The book is a collection of various texts, translated by academics, not by practitioners, and presented with some interpretation and explanation. The fact that the texts are academic translations is important to me, because while academics still have their own bias, when a text is translated by a practitioner they often translate to support their belief which may or may not be factually correct.

Michelle provides the necessary background material, when possible, to help the reader contextualize the spell. Whenever a god or demon or class of spirit is mentioned Michelle gives a brief introduction to them, knowing that the average reader, even of a text as focused as this, might not know whom they are discussing or praising. Sometimes there is a clear parallel between an ancient practice and a modern one, and when noted Michelle will often draw the link out for the reader. Also whenever something is suggested or implied in the text, but not stated probably due to being “common knowledge” to the priests at the time, Michelle fills in the gap or at least makes educated guesses. For instance a few spells reference the way a demon or influence might “melt away” and be burnt, so it’s suggested (and I’ll agree) that it probably referred to making a wax figurine or tablet to be destroyed.

The spells included cover what one would expect in general from a magick sampler text, there are curses, praises, exorcisms (imagine that), protection spells, blessings and more. This text is more for the academically inclined. If you’re looking for a how-to guide to ancient Mesopotamian magick and religion, this won’t be it, it might fill in the gaps and inspire, but won’t give you the foundation you need. The bibliography would also be a great starting point for a more involved study. For students of the western traditions of magick it will be interesting to see the origin (or at least oldest recorded description) of various ideas and both see where some practices came from, and perhaps rekindle part of them in your modern work.

One Response to Review: Sumerian Exorcism, by M. Belanger

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