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Babylon and Sumer

 

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The culture of the Mesopotamian valley was particularly rich in demon lore as Mesopotamians viewed themselves as under constant attack from evil on all sides. Demons were usually the spirits of natural forces such as fire, plagues, droughts, infant crib death, and diseases, and often took the form of fantastically-shaped creatures made up of a conglomeration of parts from dangerous or dreaded living things such as scorpions, serpents, lions, hawks.

For example, Pazuzu, the Sumerian demon who attained celebrity status after his appearance in the horror film The Exorcist, is a demon of disease that has four wings, the clawed feet of a hawk, and a snarling lion-like face.

Their only recourse was to fight against them with magic. They placed special bowls inscribed with potent word charms upside down under the foundations of their houses to catch demons and prevent them from entering the houses through the ground. They also made amulets with avertive verses against specific demons, such as those that might threaten the life of women during childbirth.

During their period of Babylonian captivity, the ancient Hebrews absorbed many Sumerian demons into their own folklore, and over time these were transmuted into uniquely Jewish demons, such as Lilith, the demon who strangles children in their cribs and visits solitary men in their beds to provoke nocturnal emissions.

Lilith began her life as a class of Babylonian demon known as the lilitu. Later, she became the first wife of Adam but refused any obedience to God.

 

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