Historical story

Astrology and Magic in Babylon

Babylonian adepts of secret knowledge - magicians and astrologers - were respected in their time. Their knowledge of celestial bodies was spectacular.

The ancient Babylonians were well aware of the great power of magic. To protect themselves from the action of evil forces, they used a whole range of procedures and elements - such as talismans, amulets, spells, exorcisms, etc. The lives of the inhabitants of Babylon were saturated with magic. The power of the evil spell was so great that King Hammurabi, author of the world's first code of laws and creator of the power of the first Babylonian state, forbade evil sorcerers on pain of death . They provided their services in secret, which today complicates our access to knowledge of Babylonian methods of casting spells and spells.

Demons and evil spirits

In addition to evil sorcerers, an entire army of demons could interfere with human life. Babylonian demonology was extremely extensive. The bad energies from that world could take their toll not only on people, but also on gods. Therefore, the man who was incarnated by the demon had to be saved by exorcism. The demon was chased out of someone's interior, for example by suggesting that he "vicariously" step into an animal or a figurine to symbolize the possessed, which was then destroyed.

They made special prayers to Marduk to undo the evil spell.

If a demon or a sorcerer caused disease, exorcists worked alongside the medics on the sick person. They prayed with special prayers to Marduk or other major Babylonian gods to undo their evil charm. The same was true of the spirits of the dead, which may have meddled with the affairs of the world. If the deceased was persecuting, causing disease or misfortune to a living person, had to be chased away by an elaborate ritual. The deceased had to be symbolically reburied. So after sunset, invoking the deities, a wax figure representing the spirit was placed in the ground. The expulsion ritual also involved pouring water with flour through the corner of the will into a specially dug hole.

From today's perspective, such bizarre descriptions, which can be cited many, appear as nothing more than superstition. Yet the secret knowledge of the Babylonians can amaze people. It is not limited to magic rituals only.

Towards the stars

For many ancient civilizations, the arrangements of stars and other celestial bodies were of great importance. The Babylonians, however, beat them on their heads with the scale of their involvement in observing the sky. . We know, for example, the New Testament tale of three wise men who came from the East following the star that heralded the birth of the "king of the Jews."

The prevailing view among scholars is that these newcomers - magicians, astrologers - came to Bethlehem from the ancient land of Babylon.

The prevailing view among researchers is that these newcomers - magicians, astrologers - who deduced from the star system that a spectacular event would take place in Israel, came to Bethlehem from the former Babylonian land. The old one, because the independent state of Babylon did not exist anymore. It was conquered by the Persians, but the knowledge and tradition of observing the sky were not lost. What exactly did biblical sages see in the sky? One theory says that they were interested in the conjunction of three planets - Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, which took place in 6 BCE. and it happened once in 800 years.

Forgotten Knowledge

The astronomical and mathematical knowledge of the ancient Babylonians was much more advanced than not until recently. Thanks to the discovery of Dr. Mathieu Ossendrijver from the Humboldt University in Berlin, we know that the Babylonian sages were able to use geometric methods, drawing trapezoidal shapes, to determine the trajectory of Jupiter's motion . They could calculate the speed of the planet and its location at any given moment. Until now, it was believed that the so-called the trapezoidal method was not developed until the turn of the Middle Ages and modern times . It turns out that she was at least several centuries older. It preceded the development of integral calculus by Leibniz and Newton.

The surprising discoveries do not end there. Researchers at Tsukuba University in Japan found cuneiform tablets dedicated to strong flares in the Sun which translated into Earth's magnetic storms. Today they are an important source of information on the behavior of our central star in ancient times.

The board, named Plimpton 322, has remained unread for years.

Another amazing artifact is a cuneiform tablet that represents numerical values. Archaeologist Edgar Banksy brought it from the Middle East in 1920. The plaque, called Plimpton 322, remained unread for years. Only after the war it turned out that it presents the values ​​of the so-called Pythagorean triples, or numbers from the equation a² + b² =c². The Babylonians knew them 1,200 years before the Greeks and Pythagoras himself. So the clay tablet turned out to be ... a wedge-shaped trigonometric table.

As in heaven, so also on earth

Why would the ancient inhabitants of Babylon or the nearby Assyrian Nineveh need all this? Were they the world's first civilization of scientists? Did they explore scientific knowledge about the world? None of that - advanced methods to calculate the motion of planets, stars and comets (they knew, among other things, the trajectory of Halley's comet) were to give them answers to questions about everyday life. Scientific knowledge and mathematics turned out to be only tools for predicting the future and practicing esotericism ... The Babylonians sincerely believed that in every aspect of life, the success of every action was determined by the heavenly bodies.

If the configuration of the stars (identified with individual gods) during an event resulted in a catastrophe, it was believed that it would be the same if the system repeated itself. The sun was seen as with the physical manifestation of the god of brightness and light Shamash . Nanna or Sin was the god of the moon. Jupiter corresponded to the most important Babylonian deity, Marduk. Venus was associated with the goddess Ishtar, Saturn with Ninurta, Mercury with Nabu, and Mars with the ruler of the underworld, Nergal. Thus, in the systems of planets, divine judgments were found that determined literally everything - military successes, commercial transactions, the life path of newborn children, etc. In ancient times, the word Chaldean (Babylonian) was almost synonymous with the term astrologer.

The defeat of the astrologers

The Bible describes the painful failure of Babylonian astrologers who, although they had knowledge of the heavenly bodies and allegedly knew the future from them, could not foresee the fall of their own kingdom. The whole thing is described in the book of Daniel. It took place during the reign of Belshazzar (Bel-shar-usur), who is referred to in the Bible as the last king of Babylon although he was most likely just a regent, ruling in lieu of his father.

In ancient times the word Chaldean (Babylonian) was almost synonymous with astrologer.

Already the biblical prophet Isaiah foretold the fall of Babylon, pointing out that the knowledge of sages, magicians and astrologers was of no use. The kingdom will fall. The Persians will conquer them:

You are fed up with a lot of your advisers. Let them come to save you, those sky scribes who study the stars predict what will happen to you each month. Behold, they will be like straw, the fire will burn them. They cannot save their own life from the power of the flames. It will not be coals for heating, it is not a fire to sit by. Such will be your sorcerers with whom you have labored in vain from your youth. Everyone will go their own way, no one will save you.


According to the Bible, Belshazzar, the ruler of Babylon, was said to have committed sacrilege. During a promiscuous feast, he had a captured ceremonial vessel brought from the Temple in Jerusalem, which was taken to Israel by the creator of the power of the new Babylonian state - Nebuchadnezzar II. Belshazzar was to demand that wine be poured into the vessel. Then he drank from it all night long. Suddenly, a mysterious inscription appeared on the wall of his palace: mane, tekel, fares. The ruler was afraid of the inscription. He called for help from magicians and astrologers, but no one was able to explain the meaning of the words. Then Belshazzar sent for an Israelite Daniel, who was sent to Babylon as a slave. Thanks to his knowledge and talents, he gained a significant position in the palace.

The Bible describes the painful failure of Babylonian astrologers who could not foresee the fall of their own kingdom

Daniel delivered the ominous news to Belshazzar. Mane, tekel, fares meant: counted, weighed and divided . The first word referred to the number of days Belshazzar had left on his throne. "Weighed" meant the importance of the ruler's humanity. Divided was about his kingdom - which the Medes and the Persians would divide among themselves. In short, the rule of the sacrilegious was coming to an end. Soon the prophecy would come true. Belshazzar was killed that same night during the Median and Persian invasions of Babylon.

Historians point out that not everything in this story is consistent with the state of the art. First of all, Belshazzar was not king of Babylon. It was his father Nabonidus. It is also known, however, that Nabonidus handed over power to his son during his expedition to Arabia. The Bible also says that after the conquest of Babylon and the killing of Belshazzar, a certain Darius Med took power however, historians cannot establish the identity of this ruler. Perhaps it was a vassal or governor appointed temporarily by the Persian Cyrrus.

Regardless of the biblical credibility of the book of Daniel, it is certain that Babylon has fallen, conquered by her enemies. An army of magicians, wizards and astrologers - as the prophet Isaiah foretold in the Bible - turned out to be useless. She did not foresee the end of her state, nor did she save it.


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  2. Olmstead A. T., History of the Persian Empire , Warsaw 1974.
  3. Saggs W.H.F., The Greatness and Fall of Babylonia , Warsaw 1973.
  4. Stępień Marek, Hammurabi's Code , ALFA Publishing House, Warsaw 2000.