ancient culture

The Raising of the Hand – A Prayer to Ishtar

Worshippers of Inanna, rejoice! For I, her humble servant and devout worshipper, will present thee with a prayer that will fill thy hearts with powerful emotions, and will fill thy ears with the beautiful sounds of a Babylonian masterpiece.

This text, which is in a perfect state of preservation, clearly illustrates the magnificence of the great Goddess Inanna, to the Babylonians known as Ishtar. However, those who are truly devoted to the Queen of Heaven and Earth will be aware that it is not just a mere change of name that was implemented by the Babylonian conquerors, but has far deeper meaning. They are not just different names for one and the same Deity, but also different aspects of Her. I always experience a very profound difference in how I approach her in my Workings. When I call on her as Inanna I experience her as the Goddess of Love and Passion. Her very name, Inanna, fills my heart with joy and lights a fire in my being that burns with passionate desire, and sometimes sheer, naked lust. This aspect of her evokes images in my mind of a being so beautiful and majestic that one could weep with joy for just witnessing such perfection. She has the power to enslave men with a single glance, and would make even the most gorgeous women envious of her unearthly, and unmatched beauty. She is Desire incarnate….

When I approach her as being Ishtar there is no desire that clouds the mind, but instead there is a sense of great respect with an equal measure of healthy fear. In this aspect she appears as the Goddess of War. Her beauty not vanished, just different. As the Goddess of Love she is to be desired, but as the Goddess of War she is a terrible opponent and strikes great fear in all who dare to oppose her. As such, clothed in Terror, wearing shining armor, she is as beautiful as when she is Inanna. Even though we view these two concepts she represents as complete opposites, with on one end great joy and pleasure and on the other great fear and terror, they are actually one and the same, being just different grades of the one concept that enables her dual nature, that being beauty.

The following text is called: “Prayer of the Raising of the Hand to Ishtar.” This incantation appeals to her war-like nature, calling on the aspect that we identify as Ishtar. This prayer can be found in the book Enuma Elish – The Seven Tablets of Creation, Volume 2 which features transliterations and translations of various myths and legends done by L.W. King, page 222 to 237. Here follows the prayer:

  • 1. U-SAL-LI-KI BE-LIT BE-LI-E-TI I-LAT I-LA-A-TI
  • (I pray unto thee, lady of ladies, goddess of goddesses!)
  • 2. IŠTAR ŠAR-RA-TI KUL-LAT DA-AD-ME MUŠ-TE-ŠI-RAT TE-NI-ŠE-E-TI
  • (O Ishtar, queen of all peoples, directress of mankind!)
  • 3. IR-NI-NI MUT-TAL-LA-A-TI RA-BIT IGIGI
  • (O Irnini, thou art raised on high, mistress of the spirits of heaven)
  • 4. GAŠ-RA-A-TI MA-AL-KA-A-TI ŠU-MU-KI SI-RU
  • (Thou art mighty, thou hast sovereign power, exalted is thy name!)
  • 5. AT-TI-MA NA-AN-NA-RAT ŠAMÈ U IRSITIM MA-RAT SIN KA-RIT-TI
  • (Thou art the light of heaven and earth, O valiant daughter of the Moon-god)
  • 6. MUT-TAB-BI-LA-AT KAKKÈ ŠA-KI-NA-AT TU-KU-UN-TI
  • (Ruler of weapons, arbitress of the battle!)
  • 7. XA-MI-MAT GI-MIR PAR-SI A-PI-RAT A-GI-E BE-LU-TI
  • (Framer of all decrees, wearer of the crown of dominion!)
  • 8. BÈLTI ŠU-PU-U NAR-BU-KI ELI KA-LA ILÂNI SI-RU
  • (O lady, majestic is thy rank, over all the gods is it exalted!)
  • 9. MUL-TA-NU-KA-A-TI MUŠ-TAM-XI-SA-AT AXÈ MIT-GU-RU-TI
  • (Thou art the cause of lamentation, thou sowest hostility among brethren who are at peace)
  • 10. MUT-TA-AD-DI-NA-AT IT-BA-RU
  • (Thou art the bestower of strenght!)
  • 11. IT-BUR-TI BE-LIT TU-ŠA-RI MUT-TAK-KI-PAT ERIŠTI-IA
  • (Thou art strong, O lady of victory, thou canst violently attain my desire!)
  • 12. GU-TIR-A ŠA TU-KU-UN-TA XAL-PAT LA-BI-ŠAT XAR-BA-ŠA
  • (O Gutira, who art girth with battle, who art clothed with terror)
  • 13. GAM-RA-A-TI ŠIB-TA U PURUSSÂ LIK-TI IRSITIM U ŠA-MA-MI
  • (Thou wieldest the sceptre and the decision, the control of earth and heaven!)
  • 14. SUK-KU EŠ-RI-E-TI NI-ME-DA U PARAKKÈ U-TUK-KU KA-A-ŠI
  • (Holy chambers, shrines, divine dwellings, and temples worship thee!)
  • 15. E-KI-A-AM LA ŠUMU-KI E-KI-A-AM LA PAR-SU-KI
  • (Where is thy name not heard? Where is thy decree not obeyed?
  • 16. E-KI-A-AM LA US-SU-RA USURÂTI-KI E-KI-A-AM LA INNADÛ PARAKKÈ-KI
  • (Where are thine images not made? Where are thy temples not founded?
  • 17. E-KI-A-AM LA RA-BA-A-TI E-KI-A-AM LA SI-RA-A-TI
  • (Where art thou not great? Where art thou not exalted?
  • 18. A-NUM BÈL U E-A UL-LU-U-KI INA ILÂNI U-ŠAR-BU-U BE-LU-UT-KI
  • (Anu, Bèl, and Ea have raised thee on high, among the gods have they made great thy dominion)
  • 19. U-ŠA-AŠ-KU-KI INA NAP-XAR IGIGI U-ŠA-TI-RU MAN-ZA-AZ-KI
  • (They have exalted thee among all the Spirits of heaven, they have made thy rank pre-eminent)
  • 20. A-NA XI-IS-SAT ŠU-ME-KI ŠAMÛ U IRSITIM I-RU-UB-BU
  • (At the thought of thy name the heaven and the earth quake)
  • 21. ILÂNI I-RU-UB I-NAR-RU-TU A-NUN-NA-KI
  • (The gods tremble, and the Spirits of the earth falter)
  • 22. ŠUMU-KI RA-AŠ-BU IŠ-TAM-MA-RA TE-NI-ŠE-E-TI
  • (Mankind payeth homage unto thy mighty name)
  • 23. AT-TI-MA RA-BA-A-TI U SI-RA-A-TI
  • (For thou art great, and thou art exalted)
  • 24. NAP-XAR SAL-MAT KAK-KA-DI NAM-MAŠ-ŠU-U TE-NI-ŠE-E-TI I-DAL-LA-LU KUR-DI-KI
  • (All mankind, the whole human race, boweth down before thy power)
  • 25. DI-IN BA-XU-LA-A-TI INA KIT-TI U MI-ŠA-RI TA-DIN-NI AT-TI
  • (Thou judgest the cause of men with justice and righteousness)
  • 26. TAP-PAL-LA-SI XAB-LU U ŠAK-ŠU TUŠ-TE-EŠ-ŠE-RI UD-DA-KAM
  • (Thou lookest with mercy on the violent man, and thou settest right the unruly every morning)
  • 27. A-XU-LAP-KI BE-LIT ŠAMÊ U IRSITIM RI-E-A-AT NIŠÊ A-PA-A-TI
  • (How long wilt thou tarry, O lady of heaven and earth, shepherdess of those that dwell in human habitations?)
  • 28. A-XU-LAP-KI BE-LIT E-AN-NA KUD-DU-ŠU ŠU-TUM-MU EL-LU
  • (How long wilt thou tarry, O lady of the holy E-anna, the pure Storehouse?)
  • 29. A-XU-LAP-KI BÊLTI UL A-NI-XA ŠÊPÃ-KI LA-SI-MA BIR-KA-A-KI
  • (How long wilt thou tarry, O lady, whose feet are unwearied, whose knees have not lost their vigour?)
  • 30. A-XU-LAP-KI BE-LIT TA-XA-ZI KA-LI-ŠU-NU TAM-XA-RI
  • (How long wilt thou tarry, O lady of all fights and of the battle?)
  • 31. ŠU-PU-U-TUM LA-AB-BAT IGIGI MU-KAN-NI-ŠAT ILÂNI ŠAB-SU-TI
  • (O thou glorious one, that ragest among the Spirits of heaven, that subduest angry gods,)
  • 32. LI-‘-A-AT KA-LI-ŠU-NU MA-AL-KU SA-BI-TA-AT SIR-RIT ŠARRÂNI
  • (That hast power over all princes, that controllest the sceptre of kings,)
  • 33. PI-TA-A-AT PU-SU-UM-ME ŠA KA-LI-ŠI-NA ARDÂTI
  • (That openest the bonds of all handmaids,)
  • 34. NA-AN-ŠE-A-AT NA-AN-DI-A-AT KA-RIT-TI IŠTAR RA-BU-U KUR-DI-KI
  • (That art raised on high, that art firmly established, – O valiant Ishtar, great is thy might!)
  • 35. NA-MIR-TUM DI-PAR ŠAMÊ U IRSITIM ŠA-RU-UR KAL DA-AD-ME
  • (Bright torch of heaven and earth, light of all dwellings,)
  • 36. IZ-ZI-IT KAB-LU LA MA-XAR A-LI-LAT TAM-XA-RI
  • (Terrible in the fight, one who cannot be opposed, strong in the battle!)
  • 37. A-KU-KU-U-TUM ŠA ANA AI-BI NAP-XAT ŠA-KI-NA-AT ŠUL-LU-UK-TI IK-DU-TI
  • (O whirlwind, that roarest against the foe and cuttest off the might!)
  • 38. MU-UM-MIL-TUM IŠ-TAR MU-PAX-XI-RAT PU-UX-RI
  • (O furious Ishtar, summoner of armies!)
  • 39. I-LAT ZIKRÛTI IŠ-TAR SINNIŠÂTI ŠA LA I-LAM-MA-DU MI-LIK-ŠU MA-AM-MAN
  • (O goddess of men, O goddess of women, thou whose counsel none may learn!)
  • 40. A-ŠAR TAP-PAL-LA-SI I-BAL-LUT MITU I-TE-IB-BI MAR-SU
  • (Where thou lookest in pity, the dead man lives again, the sick is healed)
  • 41. IŠ-ŠI-IR LA I-ŠA-RU A-MI-RU PA-NI-KI
  • (The afflicted is saved from his affliction, when he beholdeth thy face!)
  • 42. ANA-KU AL-SI-KI AN-XU ŠU-NU-XU ŠUM-RU-SU ARAD-KI
  • (I, thy servant, sorrowful, sighing, and in distress cry unto thee)
  • 43. A-MUR-IN-NI-MA BÊLTI-IA LI-KI-E UN-NI-NI-IA
  • (Look upon me, O my lady, and accept my supplication)
  • 44. KI-NIŠ NAP-LI-SIN-NI-MA ŠI-MI-E TAS-LI-TI
  • (Truly pity me, and hearken unto my prayer!)
  • 45. A-XU-LAP-IA KI-BI-MA KA-BIT-TA-KI LIP-PA-AŠ-RA
  • (Cry unto me ” It is enough! ” and let thy spirit be appeased!)
  • 46. A-XU-LAP ZUMRI-IA NA-AS-SI ŠA MA-LU-U E-ŠA-A-TI U DAL-XA-A-TI
  • (How long shall my body lament, which is full of restlessness and confusion?)
  • 47. A-XU-LAP LIB-BI-IA ŠUM-RU-SU ŠA MA-LU-U DIM-TI U TA-NI-KI
  • (How long shall my heart be afflicted, which is full of sorrow and sighing?)
  • 48. A-XU-LAP TE-RI-TI-IA NA-AS-SA-A-TI E-ŠA-A-TI U DAL-XA-A-TI
  • (How long shall my omens be grievous in restlessness and confusion?)
  • 49. A-XU-LAP BITI-IA ŠU-UD-LU-BU ŠA U-NA-AS-SA-SU NISSATI
  • (How long shall my house be troubled, which mourneth bitterly?)
  • 50. A-XU-LAP KAB-TA-TI-IA ŠA UŠ-TA-BAR-RU-U DIM-TI U TA-NI-XI
  • (How long shall my spirit (be troubled), which aboundeth in sorrow and sighing?)
  • 51. IR-NI-NI [ . . . ] -I-TUM LA-AB-BU NA-AD-RU LIB-BA-KI LI-NU-XA
  • (O [ . . . ] Irnini, fierce lioness, may thy heart have rest!)
  • 52. RI-I-MU ŠAB-BA-SU-U KA-BIT-TA-KI LIP-PA-AŠ-RA
  • (Is anger mercy? Then let thy spirit be appeased!)
  • 53. DAMKÂTI INÂ-KI LIB-ŠA-A E-LI-IA
  • (May thine eyes rest with favour upon me)
  • 54. INA BU-NI-KI NAM-RU-TI KI-NIŠ NAP-LI-SIN-NI IA-A-ŠI
  • (With thy glorious regard truly in mercy look upon me!)
  • 55. UK-KI-ŠI U-PI-ŠA LIMNÊTI ŠA ZUMRI-IA NÛRU-KI NAM-RU LU-MUR
  • (Put an end to the evil bewitchments of my body ; let me behold thy clear light!)
  • 56. A-DI MA-TI BÊLTI-IA BÊLÊ DA-BA-BI-IA NI-KIL-MU-U-IN-NI-MA
  • (How long, O my lady, shall mine enemies persecute me?)
  • 57. INA SUR-RA-A-TI U LA KI-NA-A-TI I-KAP-PU-DU-NI LIM-NI-E-TI
  • (How long shall they devise evil in rebellion and wickedness,)
  • 58. RI-DU-U-A XA-DU-U-A IŠ-TAM-MA-RU ELI-IA
  • (And in my pursuits and my pleasures shall they rage against me?)
  • 59. A-DI-MA-TI BÊLTI-IA LIL-LU A-KU-U I-BA-‘-AN-NI
  • (How long, O my lady, shall the ravenous demon pursue me?)
  • 60. IB-NA-AN-NI MUK-KU AR-KU-UM-MA ANA-KU AM-MIR-KI
  • (They have caused me continuous affliction, but I have praised thee)
  • 61. EN-ŠU-TI ID-NI-NU-MA ANA-KU E-NI-IŠ
  • (The weak have become strong, but I am weak)
  • 62. A-ŠAB-BU-‘ KI-MA A-GI-I ŠA UP-PA-KU ŠÂRU LIM-NA
  • (I am sated like a flood which the evil wind maketh to rage)
  • 63. I-ŠA-‘ IT-TA-NAP-RAŠ LIB-BI KI-MA IS-SUR ŠA-MA-MI
  • (My heart hath taken wing, and hath flown away like a bird of the heavens)
  • 64. A-DAM-MU-UM KI-MA SU-UM-MA-TUM MU-ŠI U UR-RA
  • (I moan like a dove, night and day)
  • 65. NA-AN-GU-LA-KU-MA A-BAK-KI ZAR-BIŠ
  • (I am made desolate, and I weep bitterly)
  • 66. INA ‘-U-A A-A ŠUM-RU-SA-AT KA-BIT-TI
  • (With grief and woe my spirit is distressed)
  • 67. MI-NA-A E-PU-UŠ ILI-IA U IŠ-TAR-IA A-NA-KU
  • (What have I done, O my god and my goddess?)
  • 68. KI-I LA PA-LIX ILI-IA U IŠTARI-IA ANA-KU IP-ŠE-IK
  • (Is it because I feared not my god or my goddess that trouble hath befallen me?)
  • 69. ŠAK-NU-NIM-MA MUR-SU TI-‘-I XU-LU-UK-KU-U U ŠUL-LU-UK-TI
  • (Sickness, disease, ruin, and destruction are come upon me)
  • 70. ŠAK-NA-NI UD-DA-A-TI SUX-XUR PA-NI U MA-LI-E LIB-BA-A-TI
  • (Troubles, turning away of the countenance, and fulness of anger are my lot)
  • 71. UZ-ZU UG-GA-TI ME-NAT ILÂNI U A-ME-LU-TI
  • (And the indignation and the wrath of all gods and men)
  • 72. A-TA-MAR BÊLTI-IA ÛMÊ UK-KU-LU-TI ARXÊ NA-AN-DU-RU-TI ŠANÂTI ŠA NI-ZIK-TI
  • (I have beheld, O my lady, days of affliction, months of sorrow, years of misfortune)
  • 73. A-TA-MAR BÊLTI-IA ŠIB-TA I-ŠI-TI U SAX-MAŠ-TI
  • (I have beheld, O my lady, slaughter, turmoil, and rebellion)
  • 74. U-KAL-LA-AN-NI MU-U-TU-U ŠAP-ŠA-KU
  • (Death and misery have made an end of me!)
  • 75. ŠU-XAR-RU-UR SA-GI-E-A ŠU-XAR-RU-RAT A-ŠIR-TI
  • (My need is grievous, grievous is my humiliation)
  • 76. ELI BITI BÂBI U KAR-BA-A-TI-IA ŠA-KU-UM-MA-TI TAB-KAT
  • (Over my house, my gate, and my fields is affliction poured forth)
  • 77. ILI-IA ANA A-ŠAR ŠA-NIM-MA SUX-XU-RU PA-NU-ŠU
  • (As for my god, his face is turned elsewhere)
  • 78. SAP-XAT IL-LA-TI TA-BI-NI PUR-RU-UR
  • (My strength is brought to nought, my power is broken!)
  • 79. U-PA-KA A-NA BÊLTI-IA KA-A-ŠI IB-ŠA-KI UZNÂ-AI
  • (But unto thee, O my lady, do I give heed, I have kept thee in my mind)
  • 80. U-SAL-LI-KI KA-A-ŠI ‘-IL-TI PU-UT-RI
  • (Unto thee therefore do I pray, dissolve my ban!)
  • 81. PU-UT-RI AR-NI ŠIR-TI XAB-LA-TI U XI-TI-TI
  • (Dissolve my sin, my iniquity, my transgression, and my offence!)
  • 82. MI-E-ŠI XAB-LA-TI-IA LI-KI-E UN-NI-NI-IA
  • (Forgive my transgression, accept my supplication!)
  • 83. RU-UM-MI-IA KI-RIM-IA ŠU-BAR-RA-AI ŠUK-NI
  • (Secure my deliverance, and let me be loved and carefully tended!)
  • 84. ŠU-TE-ŠI-RI KIB-SI NAM-RIŠ E-TIL-LIŠ IT-TI AMÊLÛTI LU-BA-‘ SÛKI
  • (Guide my footsteps in the light, that among men I may gloriously seek my way!)
  • 85. KI-BI-MA INA KI-BI-TI-KI ILU ZI-NU-U LI-IS-LIM
  • (Say the word, that at thy command my angry god may have mercy)
  • 86. IŠTARI ŠA IS-BU-SA LI-TU-RA
  • (And that my goddess, who is wroth, may turn again!)
  • 87. E-TU-U ŠU-ŠUB LIM-ME-IR KI-NU-NI
  • (The darkness hath settled down, so let my brazier be bright)
  • 88. BI-LI-TI LI-IN-NA-PI-IX DI-PA-RI
  • (Thou art the ruler, let then my torch flame forth!)
  • 89. SA-PI-IX-TU IL-LA-TI LIP-XUR
  • (May my scattered strength be collected)
  • 90. TARBASU LI-IR-PIŠ LIŠ-TAM-DI-LU SU-PU-RI
  • (May the fold be wide, and may my pen be bolted fast!)
  • 91. MUG-RI LI-BI-EN AP-PI-IA ŠI-ME-E SU-PI-E-A
  • (Receive the abasement of my countenance, give ear unto my prayer)
  • 92. KI-NIŠ NAP-LI-SIN-NI-MA    [erasure by the scribe]
  • (Truly pity me, and [accept my supplication?]!)
  • 93. A-DI MA-TI BÊLTI-IA ZI-NA-TI-MA SUX-XU-RU PA-NU-KI
  • (How long, O my lady, wilt thou be angry and thy face be turned away?)
  • 94. A-DI- MA-TI BÊLTI-IA RA-‘-BA-TI-MA UZ-ZU-ZA-AT KAB-TA-AT-KI
  • (How long, O my lady, wilt thou rage and thy spirit be full of wrath?)
  • 95. TIR-RI KI-ŠAD KI ŠA IŠTU AD-DI-IA A-MAT DAMIKTIM PA-NI-KI ŠUK-NI
  • (Incline thy neck, which is turned away from my affairs, and set prosperity before thy face)
  • 96. KI-MA MÊ PA-ŠIR NÂRI KA-BIT-TA-KI LIP-PA-AŠ-RA
  • (As by the solving waters of the river may thine anger be dissolved!)
  • 97. IK-DU-TI-IA KI-MA KAK-KA-RU LU-KAB-BI-IS
  • (My mighty foes may I trample like the ground)
  • 98. ŠAB-SU-TI-IA KUN-NU-ŠIM-MA ŠU-PAL-SI-XI INA ŠAP-LI-IA
  • (And those who are wroth with me mayest thou force into submission and crush beneath my feet!)
  • 99. SU-PU-U-A U SU-LU-U-A LIL-LI-KU ELI-KI
  • (Let my prayer and my supplication come unto thee)
  • 100. TA-AI-RA-TU-KI RAB-BA-A-TI LIB-ŠA-A ELI-IA
  • (And let thy great mercy be upon me)
  • 101. A-MI-RU-U-A INA SÛKI LI-ŠAR-BU-U ZI-KIR-KI
  • (That those who behold me in the street may magnify thy name)
  • 102. U ANA-KU ANA SAL-MAT KAKKADI ILU-UT-KI U KUR-DI-KI LU-ŠA-PI
  • (And that I may glorify thy godhead and thy might before mankind!)
  • 103. IŠ-TAR-MA SI-RAT IŠ-TAR-MA ŠAR-RAT
  • (Ishtar is exalted! Ishtar is queen!)
  • 104. BÊLTI-MA SI-RAT BÊLTI-MA ŠAR-RAT
  • (My lady is exalted! My lady is queen!)
  • 105. IR-NI-NI MA-RAT SIN KA-RIT-TI MA-XI-RA UL IŠHAT
  • (Irnini, the valiant daughter of the Moon-god, hath not a rival!)

Here ends this incredibly moving, and enchantingly beautiful prayer to Ishtar, greatest of goddesses. The end of this prayer, however, is not the end of the tablet, as we are given the following instructions:

  • 107. This shalt thou do . . . a green bough shalt thou sprinkle with pure water ; four bricks from a ruin shalt thou set in place
  • 108. A lamb shalt thou take ; with sarbatu-wood shalt thou fill the censer, and thou shalt set fire thereto ; sweet-scented woods, some upuntu-plant and some cypress-wood
  • 109. shalt thou heap up ; a drink offering shalt thou offer, but thou shalt not bow thyself down. This incantation before the goddess Ishtar
  • 110. three times shalt thou recite, . . . . .  and thou shalt not look behind thee.

This interesting tablet ends with the following three lines which state who made the offering, and for what purpose.

  • 111. “O exalted Ishtar, that givest light unto the four quarters of the world!”
  • 112. This copy from Borsippa, made like unto its original, hath Nergal-balâtsu-ikbi, the son of Atarad-kalme, the magician,
  • 113. written for the preservation of his life, and he hath revised it, and hath deposited it within the temple of E-sagila.

The preservation of this tablet is incredible, and because of its excellent condition it provides us with yet another opportunity to learn more words and sentences in the ancient tongue. Those readers who have examined the prayer closely will be excited to have discovered that this prayer contains translations that can be applied to the Invocation of the Ishtar Gate, which can be found on page 55 and 56 of the Simon Necronomicon.

Nightcaller.

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