Personal Idols

The private Babylonian had little to do with the great state cults, other than witnessing the processions at festival time, and he found religious fulfillment in other ways. Each Babylonian had a personal god whom he provided with regular offerings and to whom he made special requests, such as for relief from illness. The personal god was expected to mediate upon his devotee's behalf with higher gods who could provide the necessary benefaction. There was a business-like attitude on the part of the Babylonian in this relationship for, if the worshipper felt he was not getting sufficient benefits in return for his offerings, he would threaten to abandon his god and seek another. Indeed, one ancient cynic commented:

'Thou canst teach thy god to run like a dog after thee.'

Magic and sorcery were universally popular and there were spells and counter-spells (`releases') for every aspect of life. Black magic was greatly feared and experts in sorcery were sought out to counteract the witchcraft, which was believed to have brought trouble or misfortune to an individual.