Baal's Cedar: Natib Qadish, Canaanite Religion
Natib Qadish, a polytheistic religion which reveres the Canaanite deities, is based on ancient culture and the cuneiform texts found at the city of Ugarit. The Canaanites lived 3200 years ago in the areas of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine.
I share articles and commentary rooted in polytheistic, Near Eastern, Levantine, Middle Eastern, Anatolian, and Natib Qadish perspectives. I teach about the deities, festivals, cultures, divination, magic, divination, and beliefs.
I've Got Soul: Canaanite Magic and Napshu
Day 7 Ra'shu Yeni (month), Shanatu 84 (year)*
When people ask me for “energy,” they don’t realize that what they’re really asking me is “send me a bit of your soul.” Unless the situation is dire, unless I deem the situation appropriate, or unless someone consciously asks me knowing full well what they’re really asking me, I will send prayers instead. In addition to prayers, sometimes I will also send offerings to the deities on the requester's behalf, or I will make an offering of incense to aid the requester’s strength and wellbeing. Magic, or a full-on blessing, however, requires napshu.
I don’t work with “energy.” Canaanite magic works on a fundamentally different paradigm, using napshu as its key empowering factor. Napshu is a word that embodies many concepts in English: soul, vitality, will, charisma, appetite, and throat. The word napshu, from the Ugaritic language, is an earlier version of the Hebrew word nefesh. Canaanite magic (charshu) works with the napshu of the mage, and it can work with the napshu of a deity. Napshu is not an impersonal resource like coal or electricity. Napshu is the very signature of your being, and it should be treated carefully and conscientiously.
When you send some of your napshu out, presumably through magic or blessing, you are sharing your vitality, a part of your personal being, with another. A charash (Canaanite mage) can also call upon the deities to assist in an act of magic: the deity would then use his or her napshu to empower a person's own, or in rare cases allow the person to serve as a conduit for it. To do so, the person must be in a purified state, the person must be a respected and good member of the community, and the person must develop a good relationship, aligning himself or herself with the deity called. The deity’s napshu should be treated with tremendous care and respect. It cannot be forced against a deity’s will, and one who would try would accrue khats’a, misdeed, which will ultimately lessen the mage’s potency and damage future attempts to do magic. It can also reduce a mage’s overall physical and spiritual wellbeing.
Making offerings help strengthen a deity’s napshu, and when a deity has a revitalized napshu the deity can more readily assist those who call upon her or him. Offerings for the wellbeing of the rapi’uma (the ancestral spirits of the dead) suggest that these deceased ancestors also possess napshuma (plural of napshu), which are strengthened through these offerings, and which can be called upon in times of need. It is interesting to note that people, regular human mortal people, can also receive offerings to strengthen the napshu: peace offerings, shalamuma, serve this purpose--I recall coming across this aspect mentioned in ancient Ugaritic text.
The napshu is connected with the throat and the appetite. Gauging the health of both appetite and throat can help you to assist your overall physical wellbeing as well as the vitality of your napshu. In the tale of Kirtu, the the ailing King Kirtu has a closed throat: when the dragon-golem Shaʻtaqat cures him, she uses a wand or staff to release the knot of illness, she wipes the fever-sweat from his brow, and she opens his throat. When his throat opens, his appetite returns, his vitality returns, and his soul is seated back in his body instead of poised to leave his body in death. In the tale of Aqhat, also a narrative preserved in 3200-year-old Ugaritic tablets, the goddess ‘Anatu has the hero Aqhat killed: the text’s author describes Aqhat’s napshu as a vaporous mist which departs the body through his nostrils.
As such, we know that the nostrils serve as a portal for the napshu’s leaving, but I believe it is safe to say that they are also a portal for the napshu’s entry as well, which connects the concept of napshu to the Jewish idea of ruach elohim, variously described as the wind, spirit, and breath of God(s). Based on what I understand of ancient culture and applying those ideas further into the modern day, I believe that the napshu can be revitalized and restored through healthful living (which aids the physical aspects of appetite and the throat), conscious breathing (which connects with the idea of napshu entering through the nostrils), and living a goodly life (which supports the spiritual aspects of the napshu).
We know that napshu is connected to blessings since deities and legendary humans alike are cited in the Ugaritic texts as making blessings such as “By my napshu…” or “by [deity’s name]’s napshu may you be blessed.” And one scholar, Wright, in Ritual and Narrative: The Dynamics of Feasting, Mourning, and Retaliation Rites in the Tale of Aqhat suggests that this blessing was accompanied by the gesture of holding or pointing to one’s own throat.
As such, if you ask me for a blessing--or for “energy”--you should know that it is a deeply personal thing that you request of me. In most instances, if I am healthy and in agreement with the blessing, I am happy to give it and I can give it whether I am nearby or far away from you. (I believe this works similarly with deities who make their blessings upon us when we ask it of them.) But know what you’re asking for, know what you’re getting; and be prepared to make an offering in return for the gift.
*This date reflects a date in the Canaanite calendar according to Ugaritic texts from 1200 BCE. The month name is Ra'shu Yeni, which means "new wine," and it is the seventh day since the new moon. The year 84 refers to when archaeologists rediscovered the city of Ugarit and our sacred texts back in 1928 of the secular calendar. Our next holiday is in 5 days, on the malatu, the full moon of the month. It is the holiday of 'Ashuru Ra'shi Yeni, the Festival of the New Wine. Our new year follows swiftly, less than a lunar month from now.
Photo Credits: Photo accessed through Microsoft OfficeWord clip art 2007.
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