Monday, February 09, 2015

It's complicated

The polytheistic world of Mesopotamia and Anatolia put its inhabitants at a great disadvantage when it came to managing curses. With so many deities to prevail on, any means of circumventing and/or undoing a malediction would have been arduous. With this in mind, we might consider the possibility that the development of elaborate ceremonies such as the Akkadian ritual series Šurpu arose in response to such situations. Because the victim of an activated malediction may not know the precise circumstances surrounding the violation of a conditional curse (māmītu), the Šurpu ritual coped with the predicament by naming every possible divine agent, situation, and method associated with a māmītu. Without the identity of the initiating divine agent, undoing the effects of a māmītu or any curse could only be onerous and extremely complicated.— Cursed Are You!, page 173

<idle musing>
Indeed! If you ever read some of the Greek prayers, it is enlightening. They invoke the various names of the deity, the various locations the deity is known to frequent, finally ending with a catchall "or whatever else you wish to call yourself wherever you may be..."

As Christians, we don't need to labor under all of that. Of course, we are generally so atheistic in our outlook that we don't even acknowledge the supernatural at all—except that we call on "chance," "luck," "fortune," and associated concepts. And we go through little rituals to guarantee the safety of our loved ones (and sometimes the misfortune of our enemies—real and imagined). Oh, you know you do it, you just either don't realize it consciously or you don't want to acknowledge the ramifications of it...

Lord, make us truly Christian!
</idle musing>

No comments: