Pazuzu is an ancient mesopotamian demon, but he is also a deity. He brought with him destruction, famine, disease, and was the representation of the southwestern wind, which was said to flow from the land of the dead and bring both storms and drought.
Read on to find out what terrors he brought to the Mesopotamian people.
Who Is Pazuzu?
Pazuzu is a demon god known in the Sumerian religion of Mesopotamia. He is a fearsome and terrible deity, known for the numerous bad things he could bring. However, he was also reported to occasionally help protect people against even worse things.
Even though he was mostly known throughout the Sumerian time period of Mesopotamia, he was also seen as a Babylonian demon.
As opposed to Christianity, which came to the region later, Pazuzu’s demonship was not seen as purely evil. He might have been seen as something like a trickster god, where he did evil things but also did good and helpful things. Unfortunately, some of the demon god’s tales may be skewed by Christian scholars who later erased what they could of the Mesopotamians. He was likened to a colleague of Lucifer or Satan.
Pazuzu had many powers, and he had control over the west and the southwest winds. These were the winds that were believed to come from the land of the dead. With the power of these winds, he could bring famine to the land as well as storms and locusts. He would also use his power to bring people into his debt, so that he could take advantage of them.
Pazuzu’s Appearance: The Hybrid Look of the Mesopotamian Demon God
Like other demon gods from other religions, Pazuzu was a mixture of human and animal parts. It only made him look all the more fearsome that he had the head of a lion or maybe a dog and the body of a man. He also had an eagle’s talons, a pair of wings, a scorpion’s tail, and the penis of a serpent.
The Pazuzu statue and other art show him in this manner. They also constantly show his right hand raised and his left hand lowered.
The Family of Pazuzu, the Ancient and Evil Lord of Disease
Pazuzu was a demon, and he also had an evil heritage. His father was Hanbi, an evil god who was so powerful that he ruled over other evil spirits in the Sumerian religion. His brother was another evil spirit named Humbaba, who was known to guard the Cedar Forest where the other gods lived.
This was recounted in the famous “Epic of Gilgamesh,” which was one of the most well-known literary works that survived from Mesopotamia.
The Mythology of the Sumerian Lion-headed Demon
Pazuzu’s myths are not very numerous, and because his tales began so long ago, we don’t have many left. Time and the intrusion of other faiths have also had an effect on his stories. These two factors might have contributed to twisted or removed tales of Pazuzu, but those that remain showcase both his power and his dark nature.
The Myth of the “Atrahasis,” an Akkadian/Babylonian Story of the Beginning of Time
In this tale, humans were filling the world, and they were becoming far too many. Aside from spreading out far and wide, they were also too loud and bothersome. Humans were so annoying that the god Enlil sent a large flood to cover the world in order to clear it out. The god of wisdom, Enki, then decided to create a new world with humans susceptible to trouble and disease to keep them from growing rampantly.
Demons were a part of this strategy, and demons like Pazuzu could use their powers to help keep humans at bay. Pazuzu would bring his diseases, storms, and all other kinds of destruction to keep the number of humans down.
The Power of Pazuzu: What We Know
As a demon, Pazuzu had both many gifts as well as realms to control. He had a strange sort of destructive power, for he could both bring destruction as well as be the best defense against it.
People would pray to him for protection, and at the same time, pray to keep him from being too evil. The prayers were to help draw his focus away from the evil he was causing in the world.
He was the most famous of the Mesopotamian demons known for his evil, but he also had a soft spot. One of the ways he helped protect the people was to keep pregnant women and young children protected from the evil goddess, Lamashtu. And Pazuzu could also keep people safe from other demons if called upon. People might have prayed to him for protection from disease, health troubles, as well as the destruction that the evil winds he controlled brought.
Like trickster gods, there didn’t seem to be any sort of pattern to when Pazuzu or other demons would strike. It was a fearful existence to never know when to expect difficulty or struggle from the demon’s power, but sexuality was often targeted by demons. This was the reason humans had gotten out of control before the great flood.
Transformation of Pazuzu and Other Demons
In Mesopotamian cultures, demons were known to be frightening but at the same time also protective deities. Protective demons were commonly used in multiple Mesopotamian religions. They started out as just threatening animal figures in the past, but as time went on, they became more and more associated with death.
When Christianity grew in popularity, these demons weren’t needed anymore, so they were completely relegated to the underworld and associated with total evil. In the Bible, Jesus is often seen exorcising demons from people, and that brings us to how Pazuzu made his debut into pop culture.
Pazuzu in Artwork
Pazuzu was often depicted as small statuettes or represented on amulets to protect those who used them. The use of these representations would send the power of the demon outward and keep the danger away from the person who invoked it. The amulets were commonly worn and the statuettes placed in rooms and houses.
Pazuzu in Pop Culture
Pazuzu is the only Mesopotamian demon to make it to the movies, and he had his debut in “The Exorcist.” This film was made in 1973, and Pazuzu was depicted as the demon who took over the main character’s body.
It made sense for our more modern time in the Christian faith, this thinking that demons were pure evil and completely aligned with Satan. However, if Mesopotamian audiences were to see that film, it might seem a little confusing for them.
They might be puzzled to see a protective deity being cast in a completely dark role. After the movie, this evil portrayal of Pazuzu continued, and he is now also associated with the Pazuzu Board, a way to talk to spirits similar to the Ouija board.
Here are the main points about Pazuzu we covered in the article above:
- Pazuzu is an ancient Mesopotamian demon god who is made of both human and animal parts
- He has the head of a lion or dog, wings, the talons of an eagle, the tail of a scorpion, and the penis of a serpent
- Pazuzu was the representation of and had the power of the southwestern winds. These winds were said to blow from the land of the dead
- Pazuzu came from a family line of demons
- His father was Hanbi, the king of the demons and the underworld
- His brother was Humbaba, another evil spirit who guarded the Cedar Forest where the gods lived
- Pazuzu would use the power of the winds to bring famine, disease, locusts, and all kinds of destruction
- In Mesopotamia, demons were bad and they brought bad things, but they were not completely evil
- People would also pray to them and call upon them for protection from other evil spirits
- Pazuzu himself was likely the most popular Mesopotamian deity, and he was very often called upon for help
- He was used to protect people from disease and the evil goddess Lamashtu, who would attack young children and the unborn
- Demons were brought into the world after the gods created a flood to clean out the first round of humans after they had grown too numerous and too annoying,
- In the second creation of humans, demons were used to help bring bad things to keep their numbers down
- Statuettes and amulets were used to help channel Pazuzu’s power of protection against bad things and other evil spirits
- Pazuzu was the only Mesopotamian demon to make it into a movie
- He was featured in “The Exorcist” as the demon who took over the body of the main female character
Like gods in other mythologies across the world, Pazuzu had contradictory traits, the power of evil, which he could hold over the people who believed in him, and the power to do good. It’s interesting how demons went through a transformation from having protective qualities to becoming beings that are pure evil and reside in Hell.
This is a great example of how both time and other influences can completely twist a formerly well-established belief into something terrible and frightening.