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The whirling sound (1)

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03 Religious festivals, cults, rituals and practices

12 Assyrian Identity

03 Religious festivals, cults, rituals and practices

Chaldean Oracles
4th century CE
Old Assyrian and Old Babylonian Empires
Roman Empire
Akkadian poetry
Helleno-Roman philosophers and scholars

According to the Chaldean Oracles, when the theurgist desired to send his soul upwards in a unified state, he had to turn “upwards” intellectually or spiritually, in other words, he had to turn his soul towards the noetic realm by controlling or even denying the body’s needs in order to redeem his soul. He also had to perform ritualistic acts such as using the so-called iynx-wheel to attract Hekate and the “iynges,” all of whom transmitted information between men and god. The yinx-wheel attracted the goddess and demons by its whirling movement and its whirring sound, thus imitating the movement and sound of the iynges themselves. In the Old Babylonian Agushaja-hymn, also known as Ea and Ṣaltu, Ištar’s movement is described as “whirling”: the people were advised to “soothe” the goddess annually by imitating her with a “whirling dance on the streets.” In the Chaldean system, the use of the whirling and whirring iynx-wheel was intended to attract Hekate, the “mistress or mother of the iynges,” downwards towards people (theurgists) so that she might help them with the ascension of their souls. Iamblichus in De Mysteriis is speaking of the same thing when he asserts that the theurgist must give utterance to the sounds consecrated to the various gods and angels. He says: “Sounds and melodies are consecrated appropriately to each of the gods, and a kinship with them has been assigned appropriately according to the proper ranks and powers of each, and (according to) the motions in the universe itself and the harmonious sounds whirring as a result of these motions” (3.9). The soul must adapt itself to these various sounds and thus be enabled to ascend, being drawn upward through the spheres to its divine root.

Source (list of abbreviations)
Iamblichus, De Mysteriis 3.9


Lapinkivi 2004, 198Lapinkivi, Pirjo. The Sumerian Sacred Marriage in the Light of Comparative Evidence. State Archives of Assyria Studies 15. Helsinki: The Neo-Assyrian Text Coprus Project 2004.
Pearson 2004, 245Pearson, Birger A. Gnosticism and Christianity in Roman and Coptic Egypt. Studies in Antiquity and Christianity. New York, London: T & T Clark 2004.

Pirjo Lapinkivi

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