Take a look at these sections from two different Akkadian ritual texts.
He says (it) [an incantation] seven times and while he places the heart [of a bird] in a hole on the east (side), she [a women past childbearing age] close its [the hole’s] opening with dough made from šigūšu-flour and (does so) without looking behind her. [LKA 85:16-18]
You move the censer and the torch past him [the patient], and you purify him with holy water. He much not take (to get home) the street which he took (to get there). He must not look behind him. He goes straight to his house. [composite text from LKA 88, 87, 86:51-52]
Is the women in the first ritual facing the hole and restricted from looking away from it? Or must she back up to it? Is the patient in the second ritual required to back all the way home or is he restricted from looking back in the direction from which he came. I think the restrictions are quite different. In the first case, the woman faces the hole (the site of the ritual) and should not look back. In the second case, the patient looks in the direction he is going away from the site of the ritual and must not look back. I think these two “looking behinds” have two quite different functions in their respective rituals.
Now let’s try two examples from Greek magical papyri.
[But] when you are dismissed, [go without shoes] and walk backwards and set yourself to the enjoyment of the food [and] dinner and the prescribed food offering, [coming] face to face as companion [to the god]. [PGM I:38-40]
Throw the head [of a cock] into the river and drink up the blood, draining it off into your right hand and putting what’s left of the body on the burning altar. Then jump into the river. Immerse yourself in the clothes you have on, walk backwards out of the water, and, after changing into fresh garments, depart without turning around. [PGM IV:40-45a]
Hmmm. I thing in both these cases the person is to face the ritual site. But I see the prohibition “depart without turning around” after the instruction to change garments as somewhat ambiguous. Does “walk backwards out of the water” completely disambiguate it?
Oh yeah, another question. To want extent are the Akkadian rituals and Greek rituals in the same tradition? If they are in the same tradition, what is the vector connecting them over time (depending on how you count, 700 plus years) and distance?
Note: the translations of the Akkadian ritual segments are from JoAnn Scurlock,Magico-medical Means of Treating Ghost-induced Illnesses in Ancient Mesopotamia, (Leiden: Brill, Styx, 2006) and the translation from the Greek Magical Papyri are by E. N. O’Neil and Marvin E. Meyer respectively in Hans Dieter Betz, ed., The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, Including the Demotic Spells (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986). I’ve worked up my own translation of the Akkadian but they don’t differ from Scurlock in any meaningful way. I have the texts of the Greek papyri on order from ILL. They could be really hard to read (for me)!