Palms of Our Hands

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Devotional Practice: 7 Night Sleep Prayer/Divination, inspired by Dan’el in “Aqhat”

Tonight, and hopefully for the next six or seven nights, I will be making offerings to the Canaanite deities before bed.  I’m super excited about going to Many Gods West next weekend, but also nervous. My intuition says I should be prepared in attending…the ‘how’ of that preparation seems to have been left up to me.  Also, as I’m still in the middle of Sorting Things Out in my living space, a lot of my stuff still needs placing or giving away. So what I do have left are source books and my imagination.

The tale of Aqhat is a story translated from the stone tablets found in Ugarit (present-day Ras Shamra).  It is a mythic tale of a man, Dan’el (in Hebrew, Daniel)*, who longs for a wife and son/children to continue the family line, to comfort him in his old age, and to remember him and the ancestors when he passes away.  So, not unlike the goals many of us have about family. The story makes particular note of the duties a well-rounded descendant should do. Dan’el laments and makes prayers to the deities for seven nights until Ba’lu Haddu (Ba’al Hadad), the text states “draws near in compassion”.  Ba’lu Haddu addresses ‘Ilu (El) to answer Dan’el’s prayers, which he does. When I was devotional reading (well, trying to be devout) my copy of Ugaritic Narrative Poetry, this particular passage leapt out at me:

(from the translated tablets of “Aqhat”)

“Now Daniel, man of Rapiu,
The hero, man of the Harnemite,

Girded, gives food to the gods,
Girded, gives drink to the deities,

Throws down his garment and lies,
Throws down his cloak for the night.

One day passed, and a second–

Girded, Daniel gives food,
Girded, gives food to the gods,
Girded gives drink to the deities,

A third day passes, a fourth–

Girded, Daniel gives food,
Girded, gives food to the gods,
girded, gives drink to the deities,

A fifth day passes, a sixth–

Girded, Daniel gives food
Girded, gives food to the gods,
Girded, gives drink to the deities,

Daniel throws down his garment,
Throws down his garment and lies,
Throws down his cloak for the night.

Then on the seventh day
Ba’al draws near in compassion:

“The longing of Daniel, man of Rapiu,
The moan of the hero, man of the Harnemite!

Who has no son like his siblings,
No offspring like that of his fellows,

Who, girded, gives food to the gods,
Girded, gives drink to the deities?

Bless him, Bull, El my father,
Prosper him, Creator of Creatures.

Let him have a son in his house,
Offspring within his palace,

      To set up his Ancestor’s stelae
The sign of Sib in the sanctuary;

      To rescue his smoke from the Underworld,
To protect his steps from the Dust;

      To stop his abusers’ spite,
To drive his troublers away,

      To grasp his arm when he’s drunk,
To support him when sated with wine;

      To eat his portion in Ba’al’s house,
His share in the house of El;

      To daub his roof when there’s mud,
To wash his stuff when there’s dirt.”

El responds in the next verse by holding up a cup in blessing, and helping Dan’el achieve these things. I’ll type the ending verses at the end of the seven nights. By coincidence…it will be seven nights up to the day before Many Gods West. So whatever I need to know, I hope it will be revealed about that time!

Winging the inspiration, as it usually does for me, I will be offering food and drink to the ‘Iluma (plural for ‘deities’, particularly the Canaanite ones) before bed. Intuition says it should be both food and drinkto echo Daniel’s ritual petition, and then go straight to sleep.  Tonight I had a little bottle of wine on hand for the drink. I used a half-slice of bread and cheese slices for the food. (I ate the other half of the bread and cheese, especially since cheese is supposed to help people get sleepy. Secondly, I love cheese, and offering that which is quite enjoyable instead of consuming it all by myself is part of offering, right?)

Today, I made my intentions to the ‘Iluma after reading that portion of the tale of Aqhat. The text mentions Ba’lu Haddu and ‘Ilu. It is ‘Ilu who, by granting his blessing, answers the prayer and brings it about. I made the prayer be to the both of Them, as well as any of the other deities who wished to “draw close in compassion” in responding. (Leaves the door open to others with good intent.) It’s always richer, to me, when I can incorporate the verse itself with my own petition.

In my case, I’m petitioning for guidance and wisdom, since I feel like I’m spinning my wheels in figuring out what to do next with my life in the near future. Hopefully, whatever guidance They wish to give will be clear for me to know.

*Dan’el/Daniel, Ba’lu/Ba’al etc.: Depending on the translation, the names either reflect the given consonants (Dan’el) or are anglicized to more recognizable forms (Daniel).

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Gratitude for the Purifying One – To Choranu

Kudurru, or stone document that records a contract.

Kudurru, or stone document that records land contracts, and the gods who enforce it.

O Wise One, he who tames the snaketooth poison,
it is Choranu whom the Lady Mare calls for aid.

She pleas for her children, calls for her young ones,
to ease the scorpion’s sting, to save from harm.

The tamarisk is in your hand, the barbed branch in your grip.
The reed clacks loudly, the woody stems crush the oath-breaker’s skull.
The date palm spreads, sweeps, the fronds an outstretched
hand toward life.

Wise as serpents you are,
Choranu, Snake-Mage!
Renew the body, shred the old skin.

He who is the Purifier, the Hallowed Exorcist
no poison can sting you
the air made sweet by Your breath,

Choranu.

Inspired by writings of:

“The Mare and Horon”, translated by Simon B. Parker. Ugaritic Narrative Poetry (1997). Canaanite myth. 

 “The God Choron: Enchanter, Exorcist, Enforcer”, article by Tess Dawson.  Anointed: A Devotional Anthology for the Deities of the Near and Middle East (2011).

–Spoken curse, “May Choron break  your skull!”. Similar to modern English, “Go to hell!”

Image of kudurru (Akkadian for ‘boundary stone’) depicting the snake god Nirah, representative of Ishtaran, deity of Sumerian city Der. Via Wikipedia Commons.


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Prayer for Kothar-wa-Hasis

Praise to Kothar-wa-Hasis

Kothar-wa-Hasis fashions the Driver, Yagrushu
and Ayamiri, the Expeller for the Rider of Clouds
As the Crafty and Wise creates divine weapons for the Ba’al Hadad,
patiently crafts for gods and mortals.
May such concentration strengthen the mind,
the wavering grip made firm.

Kothar-wa-Hasis sets the foundations of the palace,
sets the Thunderer’s kingship with gems and brick,
flagstones in lapis lazuli, frames of gold,
The Deft and Skillful places silver with sure hands, the fine cedars
of Lebanon, the splendid wood bows to his craft,
May such steadiness be lent to human hands and hopes.

–and fire arises, divine fire
the purpose of the Craftsman,
what was only visions waving in the heat
the palace burns into existence
inflamed by the Divine Spark.