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Unveiling the Secrets of Babylonian Magic: A Journey into the World of Maqlu and Curse Tablets


Imagine a world where demons lurked in the shadows, ready to inflict harm and wreak havoc upon unsuspecting mortals. This was the reality for the ancient Babylonians, a civilization renowned for its intricate religious practices and powerful belief in magic. Amidst their rich tapestry of beliefs, the Maqlu text stands out as a captivating window into their understanding of demonology and the rituals used to combat these malevolent entities. This blog post delves into the fascinating world of Maqlu, exploring its structure, key concepts, and the chilling practice of curse tablets, offering a glimpse into a world where the written word held the power to influence reality.

Table of Contents

  • Understanding the Maqlu
    • Origin and Context
    • The Structure of the Maqlu
    • Key Concepts in Maqlu
      • Demonology
      • Rituals and Practices
      • The Role of the Magician
  • Maqlu: A Deeper Dive into Specific Rituals
    • Example Ritual 1
    • Example Ritual 2
    • Rituals and Symbolism
  • The Curse Tablets
    • The Nature of Curse Tablets
    • Materials and Inscriptions
    • Examples of Curse Tablets
    • The Power of the Written Word
  • Maqlu in the Modern World
    • The Legacy of Maqlu
    • Maqlu and Modern Occultism
    • Ethical Considerations
  • FAQ
  • Conclusion

Understanding the Maqlu

Origin and Context

The Maqlu text, dating back to the late Babylonian period (around 7th century BC), is an extensive collection of incantations and rituals designed to combat demonic forces. It provides invaluable insight into the Babylonian understanding of the supernatural world, offering a glimpse into their fears, anxieties, and methods of protection. This text is not merely a collection of spells but a complex system of beliefs and practices that were deeply intertwined with daily life, from agriculture to health and even political matters.

The Structure of the Maqlu

The Maqlu is structured in a way that reflects its intended purpose. It begins with a detailed description of the demon known as “Maqlu,” the embodiment of evil and chaos. The text proceeds to elaborate on the ways in which Maqlu can afflict humans and the methods employed to defeat this demonic entity. This structure reflects a logical progression from understanding the enemy to devising strategies for its defeat.

Key Concepts in Maqlu


The Maqlu text is replete with a rich cast of demonic characters, each with their unique traits and powers. From the formidable Maqlu himself, to the disease-spreading spirits and the malevolent forces that threaten crops and livestock, the Babylonian demonology is diverse and complex. Each demon has its own domain, its own methods of attack, and its own means of being countered. The understanding of this intricate web of demons was crucial for the success of any magical ritual.

Rituals and Practices

The Maqlu text offers a detailed account of the various rituals used to combat demons. These rituals typically involve incantations, specific gestures, and the use of various materials, including plants, minerals, and animal parts. They often require the involvement of a skilled magician, who must possess knowledge of the correct rituals, the power to call upon the deities, and the ability to manipulate the forces of the supernatural world.

The Role of the Magician

The magician in Maqlu is not a mere spell-caster but a highly skilled practitioner with profound knowledge of magic, demonology, and ritual. They are entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding their community from demonic threats and restoring balance to the world. Their role is crucial, not just for their individual success, but for the well-being of the entire community.

Maqlu: A Deeper Dive into Specific Rituals

Example Ritual 1

One of the most prominent rituals described in Maqlu focuses on the removal of “the curse of Maqlu.” This ritual involves the use of a specially prepared clay tablet on which a series of incantations are inscribed. The magician would then recite these incantations while simultaneously performing specific actions, such as washing the tablet in consecrated water. The ritual culminated in the burying of the tablet in a place where the demon could not reach it, signifying the banishment of the evil forces. This ritual highlights the importance of the written word in Babylonian magic and the belief in its power to manipulate the world.

Example Ritual 2

Another interesting ritual found in Maqlu aims to combat the “evil eye” – a powerful curse that could inflict illness and misfortune. This ritual involves the use of a specific type of plant, known as “the plant of the evil eye,” which is carefully prepared and used as an amulet. The magician would wear this amulet as a talisman, believing it would protect them from the harmful influence of the evil eye. This ritual highlights the importance of preventative measures in Babylonian magic and the belief in the protective power of objects.

Rituals and Symbolism

The rituals described in Maqlu are not merely a collection of actions and words but are rich in symbolism. The specific materials used, the actions performed, and the language of the incantations all carry deeper meaning, reflecting the Babylonian understanding of the universe and the forces that govern it. For instance, the use of certain plants might symbolize the connection between the natural world and the supernatural, or the specific gestures performed could represent the invocation of divine powers.

The Curse Tablets

The Nature of Curse Tablets

Curse tablets, a common feature in Babylonian magical practices, represent a tangible manifestation of the power of the written word. These small, often clay tablets were inscribed with curses directed at an individual or entity, aimed at inflicting harm or misfortune. The act of inscribing the curse was believed to transfer the magician’s intent onto the tablet, imbuing it with magical power.

Materials and Inscriptions

Curse tablets were typically made of clay, although other materials such as lead, wax, or even bone were also used. The inscriptions on these tablets varied depending on the specific curse, but they often included the name of the target, the desired outcome, and sometimes specific details about the intended harm. The language used was often harsh and vengeful, reflecting the intensity of the curse and the power attributed to the written word.

Examples of Curse Tablets

Numerous curse tablets have been unearthed by archaeologists, offering fascinating glimpses into the magical practices of ancient Babylonians. One notable example is the “Curse of the Tailor” tablet, found in the ruins of ancient Babylon. This tablet contains a curse against a tailor who had wronged the owner of the tablet, seeking to ruin his business and reputation. Another example is the “Curse of the Wife” tablet, where a husband curses his wife for infidelity, seeking to cause her illness and misfortune.

The Power of the Written Word

The Babylonian belief in the power of the written word is evident in the use of curse tablets. They viewed the written word as a powerful tool that could shape reality and influence the course of events. The act of inscribing the curse was seen as a magical act, transferring the magician’s intent onto the tablet and giving it the power to manifest in the real world. The curse was not merely a wish or a threat but a potent magical force capable of causing harm.

Maqlu in the Modern World

The Legacy of Maqlu

The Maqlu text remains a crucial source for understanding ancient Mesopotamian magic and culture. Its exploration of demonology, rituals, and the power of the written word provides valuable insight into their belief systems and practices. The Maqlu text, along with other similar texts, offers a window into a world where magic was not simply a set of tricks or illusions but a fundamental part of daily life.

Maqlu and Modern Occultism

Although rooted in ancient Babylonian practices, Maqlu’s influence can be seen in modern occult traditions. The concepts of demons, curse tablets, and the power of the written word continue to resonate with practitioners of witchcraft, ceremonial magic, and other forms of modern occultism. The Maqlu text, though ancient, offers a timeless exploration of the human fascination with the supernatural, a fascination that continues to shape contemporary practices.

Ethical Considerations

While the Maqlu text and the practice of curse tablets offer intriguing insights into ancient Babylonian magic, it is crucial to address the ethical implications of these practices in the modern world. The act of cursing another person, even if it is done through the use of written words, carries the potential for harm and emotional distress.


  • Q: Were curse tablets effective?
    • A: Whether curse tablets were truly effective is a matter of debate. While the Babylonians believed strongly in their power, modern scholars recognize the psychological impact of belief and the influence of ritual on human behavior.
  • Q: What were the most common demons mentioned in Maqlu?
    • A: The Maqlu text mentions a vast array of demons, but some of the most common include:
      • Maqlu: The embodiment of evil and chaos, the source of many curses and misfortunes.
      • Asakku: A demon associated with disease and illness, often blamed for outbreaks and plagues.
      • Utukku: A general term for malevolent spirits, capable of inflicting harm in various ways.
  • Q: How did the Babylonian concept of magic differ from modern understandings of magic?
    • A: Babylonian magic was deeply intertwined with religion and their understanding of the cosmos. Magic was a way to manipulate the forces of the supernatural world, a world they believed was connected to their own. In contrast, modern understandings of magic often focus on personal empowerment, ritualistic practices, and the exploration of the subconscious mind.
  • Q: Where can I find more information on Maqlu and Babylonian magic?
    • A: Numerous academic works and online resources delve into the world of Babylonian magic and the Maqlu text. Consult reputable scholarly sources and online databases for further information.
  • Q: Can I create my own curse tablet?
    • A: While it is possible to create a curse tablet, it is important to be aware of the ethical implications and potential consequences. The act of cursing another person can have unintended consequences and may be viewed as harmful or disrespectful. It is essential to approach these practices with caution and respect.


The Maqlu text remains a powerful testament to the human fascination with the supernatural. It offers a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Babylonian beliefs and practices, revealing a world where magic was an integral part of everyday life. While the rituals and beliefs described in Maqlu may seem foreign to modern readers, they provide valuable insight into the enduring human quest to understand the mysteries of the universe and our place within it.