Mesopotamian Dreams and Dream Rituals

[/j/ is pronounced as in German]

p. 46 remedy for bruxism during sleep :

VAT 7525 (AfO 18 [1957-1958], pls. 5-9), "rev. 47`-53` (see also BAM 157, obv. 6`-9`; where the skull is to be in place for three days) : ...

47`-49` If a man grinds his teeth while lying down (asleep) : You take a man’s skull. You wash (it) in water. You anoint (it) with oil.

50` You place (it) at the head of his bed (for) seven days.

51`-52` He kisses (it) seven times before lying down.

53` He licks (it) seven times. He will recover."

p. 47 sleep-talking

"The ‘sleep omens’ lists a range of sounds that a man might make during his sleep : weeping (baku^); speaking (dadabu); groaning (labu^); roaring (ramamu^); shouting (s^asu^); and laughing (s.a^hu) : e.g., VAT 7525 ..., col I lines 39-40 : ...

39 [If a man] laughs in his sleep – 40 He will become very ill.

BAM 30, rev. 54` ... : ...

If a man repeatedly shouts (or) laughs (while asleep) on his bed."

p. 48 somnambulism

"Sleep-walking is referred to in ... ‘sleep omens’ : the sleeper rises from his bed (AMT 65/4, lines 10`-11`)".

pp. 50-52 daimones

p. 50

"SpTU 3, No. 82, col. IV lines 12-15 ... : ...

1 ... (Regarding the demon) who crossed the edge? of my bed; ...

3 (and who) showed frightening dreams to me,

4 they deliver him (the demon) to Biduh, the chief door-keeper of the Underworld."

p. 52

VA 7525, col. III, lines 28-35 : dreameth that a town repeatedly falleth upon him, he sigheth,

29 but none heareth him –

30 "A lamassu ... fastened to his body."

33 and someone heareth him --

34-35 "A very evil s^edu is fastened to his body."

p. 52 "Gods could only walk (alaku) or stand (izuzzu) at a person’s side, whereas demons fastened (rakasu) themselves to their prey, from whence they had to be expelled by exorcism, or bribed away by gifts or substitute victims. ... There was ... a s^edu-demon, ... commonly described as "evil" (lemnu)".

pp. 52-53 frightening dreams




"BAM 155 enumerates ... symptoms caused by qat(S^U) et.emmi(GIDIM), ‘the Hand of a Ghost’ ... . Column II lines 2`-3` mentions dead men appearing ... : ...

2` He repeatedly sees dead men, he sees? dreams ... [(-- This is due to) ...]

3` ... ‘the Hand of a Ghost of his Family’."


"The Mesopotamian medical texts dealing with epilepsy ... mention dreams or visions in a seizure, especially the section TDP, p. 196, Tab. 26 ..., lines 58-68 and 71-79. The invalid sees "(something) like" (kima) various animals, dead people, his daughter, and topographical features, all of which are connected with different diagnoses relating to epilepsy. In addition, the sufferer may ‘see’ the disease demons seizing him : e.g., BM 47753 ... rev. 14-15 (where he even talks with his attacker)."

pp. 62-64 sexual dreams




The "ardat lili-demoness (associated with Lilith of Jewish mythology)" appeared to men in dreams.

"Hemerologies reveal that the ardat lili-demoness could pick a man as mate (ha^ru) : e.g., Iraq 21[1959], pls. 14-15, obv. 14, rev. 33 and 45."


"K. 2315 + 3125 + 83-1-18, 469 (Analecta Biblica 12 [1959], pls. 21-22) ... lines 83-86 : ...

85-86 ... whether in my dream(s) I have sex with my mother ..., (or) with <my> mother-in-law, (or) with my sister."

pp. 73-88 dream-deities




"The normal logogram for s^uttu, "dream", ... is MA’S^.GE6, but ... MA.MU’(.D) is used instead ... in Sumerian texts ... for ... references ... (i.e., to a personified and deified "dream") which place the god within the retinue of ... UTU ... ."


"The God List an = Anum, Tab. 3, as presented on CT 24, pl. 31, col. IV line 84, unusually describes ... as female, ...


Mamu (is) a daughter of" UTU (sun-god).


"the God List an = Anum attributed a brother to a feminine Mamu : CT 24, pl. 31, col. IV line 85 :

85). dSI.SI.IG | DUMU dUTU.KE4

Sisig (is) a son of" UTU.

"The correlation of ... the Sumerian Sisig ("the one who constantly blows" ...) amd the Akkadian Zaqiqu ("a breeze" ...) is reinforced by ZI [Zaqiqu Incantation], line 1, where the Akkadian manuscript has Zi-qi-qu, but the two Sumerian texts have SI.SI.IG and SIG.SIG". ["Zaqiqu is ... mentioned in the lexical texts, ... once as a gloss to Sisig." (p. 87)]


ND 4368 (Iraq 18 [1956], pl. 25), column VI lines 11-13 :

"In order to save him from ‘the hand of Zaqiqu’ : ... repeatedly anoint him with the ‘fox-wine’-plant [GES^TIN.KA5.A]. ...

J. V. Kinnier Wilson [1957, p. 42] tentatively translated GIS^karan s^elebi(GES^TIN.KA5.A) as "solanum-(berries)"." {berry of Solanum mammosum (turkey berry), "Causing ... "dreams of death with violent weeping"" (SM).}


AN.ZAG.GA`R / AN.ZAG.GAR.RA : "In earlier studies this name was written dZA.GA`R (... ZAQ.QAR) yet, recently, ... the custom has been to write it as AN.ZA.GA`R. ... The lexical texts and God Lists ‘prove’ that Anzagar was a Dream God."


"The Dream God is called Anzagar on SDR [S^amas-s^um-ukin Dream Ritual], lines 25-26 : ... as to who sends Anzagar ..., line 32 seems conclusive :

32). AN.ZA.GA`R na-a’s^-pa’r-ti dNANNA-r[i!]

O Anzagar, the medium of Nannaru" (moon-god).


"the logogram AN.ZA.GA`R is rendered in Akkadian by dimtu, "tower". ... T. Jacobsen [1989, p. 274, n. 46] believed that Ilzakar ... derived from the verbal root zkr, "to remember"". {Alternatively, /ZAQ.QAR/ may be derived from /ZaQr/ ‘a species of hawk’ (LA-L, vol. 2, p. 244a) : in Kemian (antient Aiguptian), the falcon’s eye was the symbol for the lunar-phases [cf. Nannar], while the open human eye was the determinant-hieroglyph for the word ‘dream’. But whereas the falcon’s eye may see the dream, the falcon itself symbolizeth (BA 4:3:19) dreamless sleep.}


The "LI’L.LA’ ... logogram appears in the names of the demons ... lilitu(Mi’MI’L.LA’), and ardat lili^(KI.SIKIL.LI’L.LA’) ... succubi. ardat lili^ incantations also associate her with the zaqiqu wind demon : e.g., she is called a ziqiqu (YOS 11, No. 92, line 23 ...); and she emerges from the bit zaqiqi" [-- "the bit ziqiqi which is completely silent ... the town which is turned to the wind." (p. 225)] {Is this silence that of the country DuMah ‘Silence’ (Strong’s 1745-6), a name cognate with the Akkadian /DiMtu/?} {/ZiQiQu/ would be cognate with /ZaQaQ/ ‘to purify, to refine’ (Strong’s 2212), refining (of metal) being a frequent divine function in the Dead Sea Scrolls.}


"Note the mentions of a "ram of the storm" in two dream incantations, at ADRC, col. III lines 33 and 52." {"ram is the vehicle of the Indian fire and lightning god Agni" (MCH&J, p. 183)}


"In the Sumerian epic Lugalbanda in Hurrumkurra (see W.W. Hallo [1983] on lines 256-376) ... lines 339-340 :

339).`r.ra ..., the god of dreams,

340 bellowed like a domesticated ox". {"Under the names Sumukan, Martu, and Amurru, Adad was recognized as ‘god of lightning’ and ‘god of mountains’. He can often be seen standing on a bull wielding lightning bolts. It has been argued that the bull, or the bull’s roar, was the symbol for the roar of thunder." (H&SGA)}

SM =

LA-L = Georgii Wilhelmi Freytagii : Lexicon Arabico-Latinum. Beirut, 1975.

BA = Br.had Aran.yaka

Strong’s = Hebrew & Aramaic Dictionary of Bible Words.

MCh&J = Donald A. MacKenzie : Myths of China and Japan.


pp. 165-167 charms against unfavourable dreams




CT 23, pls. 15-22+, column IV, lines 13-14 :

"13 [If a man] repeatedly sees dead [people] in his dream(s) : Thyme ...

14 ... [arrabu] tendon. ...

The arrabu-rodent is ... in ... CAD A2, p. 302b ... jerboa?."

SpTU 4, No. 134, reverse? 7-8 :

"7-8 [If a man] repeatedly sees dead people [in] his dream(s) : ata>is^u(-plant), the ‘dog’s tongue’(-plant), ... lace together with [arrabu] tendon."


STT 107 (+) 246, reverse 12`-16` :

"12`-13` If a man [saw] frightening dream<s> : ...

14`-15` Seeds of the bus^anu-plant, ... tamarisk".


BAM 376, col. I lines 28`-30`; BAM 377, col. III lines 20-22; BAM 384, rev. 1-5 : the 14 stones for a charm to make bad dreams favourable :

GUG (carnelian),

ZA.GI`N (lapis lazuli),

ni-bu (janibu-stone),

S^UBA (s^ubu^-stone),

PA (ajartu-shell),

NI’R (hulalu-stone),

BABBAR.DILI (pappardilu^-stone),

hi-li-ba (hilibu^-stone),

ZU’.GE6 (black obsidian),

KUR-nu (magnetite),

AN.BAR (iron),

ZA’LAG (zalaqu-stone),

ZU’.SIG7 (green obsidian),

SIG7.SIG7 (urriqu-stone)

p. 168 charms to attract personal deity to sleeping dreamer



BAM 315, col. IV lines 27-36 (duplicated by BAM 316, col. I limes 20`-24`)


"In order that (his) god and / or (his) goddess instruct him (lit., open his ears),


(and in order) to see a favourable dream : You place (pieces of) ... the nus.abu-plant, the aririanu-plant, the ‘dog’s tongue’-plant, the arantu-grass, (and of) a root of a baltu thorn-bush which (grows) over a grave".


"In order to ditto ... : You immerse (lit., bury) (pieces of) emesallu(-salt), pallurtu(-plant), silver, and (of) ‘proper’ gold in honey (and) ghee for three days."


SpTU 2, No. 22, col. IV lines 5-6


"So that a man will cause his personal god and / or his personal goddess to stand at his head (while he sleeps), and (also) in order to see a favourable dream :


You place (pieces of) the s^ubu^-stone, the hulalu-stone, (and of) the as^giku-stone".

pp. 222-223 similarities between the dream-incubation rite and the ritual to obtain omens from meteors (both in ROP = Rituals to Obtain a Purussu^)


lines 65a-68 : dreams

lines 100-103 : meteors


65a take barley of 1 harbu.

100 take barley of 1 harbu.


66 a youth, who hath not known a woman, grindeth the barley.

101 a youth, who hath not known a woman, grindeth the barley.


66-7 sweep the floor in front of the Wain constellation.

102 in front of the Wain constellation,


67 set up a censer of juniper.

place a censer of juniper.


68 recite thrice the incantation to the Wain constellation

103 thrice recite, in front of the Wain constellation, the incantation to the stars of the Paths

pp. 291-301 ADRC (As^ur Dream Ritual Compendium)


side col.:l.



obv I :13

"[If a man] saw an incorrect dream : Without having eaten



... he recounts to a reed." {The barber of Midas went to "the river-bank and, first making sure that nobody was about, whispered ... . Then he ... went away, ... a reed sprouted from the bank and whispered the secret to all who passed." (GM 83.g) One variety of Tantrik initiation involveth the initiator whispering the mantra through a reed to the initiate.}


II :34

"May my personal god stand at my right!



May my personal goddess stand at my! left!"



Enlil; Ninlil



"Ninurta, the eldest son of Ekur"



"Nusku, the grand vizier of Enlil"



"Nanna ..., the king of Ur!"



"Utu, the king of the Land"



Is^kur, "the king of heaven and earth"



"Asalluhi, the eldest son of the Apsu"


III :3b

"you wash your hands (in) a bowl three times ... .



[While] you are washing, you recount that dream into the water three times ... .



"... may it take (the dream’s evil) from me!" You wash your hands three times". {cf. washing of his own hands by Pontius Pilatus}


rev III :33

"O ram of the storm, slaughter (the evil of the dream) with a sword of wind!"



"If a man saw frightening dreams, (and) his dreams inflict misfortune upon him :



... You place ... the ‘white plant’, and grains of emesallu-salt ... . ...



[You place] an ostrich [egg]-shell, a green frog, (pieces of) iron, silver, (and) gold, (together with) ebony? powder".


IV :5-6

"You thread (beads of) jasper, the sahhu^-stone, the baltu-stone, the lamassu-stone, magnetite, (and) of ‘male’ copper onto a flax thread,



(also) of the NI’G.URUDU.UD-stone : (these are all) stones to make ... dreams favourable."



"(In order) to avert ... dreams : You place (pieces of) lupin, ... ‘male’ and ‘female’ nipiktu-(-plant)".



"You place (pieces of) the qan s^alali-reed, ... ajartu-shell, the imhur-lim-plant".



"You place (pieces of ) the harmunu-plant, the edu-plant, (and) seeds of the edu-plant".



"You place (pieces of ) the edu-plant, the elkulla-plant, the as^lu-rush".

GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.

pp. 342-343 daimones of the night, according to NROD (Nusku Ritual to Obtain a Pleasant Dream) – CT 51, No. 149; KAR 58; LKA 132; SpTU 2, Nos. 8, and 10 (+) 9






s^e-e-du (ALAD)

ha-a-at.u [hajjat.u (p. 345)]





ilu lem-nu (DINGIR.MES^)









Nuri-ka (ZA’LAG-ka)




references :-

Wilson [1957] = "Two Medical Texts from Nimrud". Iraq 19, pp. 40-9.

Jacobsen [1989] = "The lil2 of dEn-lil2". In :- DUMU-E2-DUB-BA-A. U of PA. pp. 267-76.

Hallo [1983] = "Lugalbanda Excavated". J.A.O.S. 103, pp. 165-80.

CAD = The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

ALTER ORIENT UND ALTES TESTAMENT, Band 258 = S[ally] A. L. Butler : Mesopotamian Conceptions of Dreams and Dream Rituals. Ugarit-Verlag, Münster, 1998.