Ugallu was a mysterious demon known to have existed in Babylon, both as a good and bad god. He acted as a protective spirit, manifesting power connected with air, water, and electricity to keep the city free of diseases and plagues.
He also could blast the world with raging winds, storms, and hurricanes. In our article, we will explain all the interesting and horrifying aspects you want to know about Ugallu.
Who is Ugallu?
The people of Mesopotamia were highly religious, with Mesopotamian scribes recording more than 100 demons, gods, and goddesses. The pantheon of gods and demons in Mesopotamia was an extension of their cultural and spiritual beliefs. Although the names of the gods and demons differed in different Mesopotamian civilizations, their duties were all the same.
The Big Weather-Beast
The Ugallu, also known as the Big Weather-Beast, is a being of the Mesopotamian mythology depicted with a wolf head, a human body, and bird-like fangs. The wolf-headed storm demon’s drawings featured protective amulets and apotropaic tamarisk figurines of the first millennium, although it had its origins in the early second millennium.
According to Mesopotamian culture, Ugallu is a storm demon and one of the sons of Tiamat. Besides, the big weather-beast is also regarded as an associate of the Adad and a great enemy of the sun god.
Ugallu’s Artistic Portrayal
The lion-headed demon is depicted with a consistent form of many Underworld demons. In some instances, the demon is depicted in more of a lion-bird of prey hybrid with wings.
Ugallu’s iconography evolved over time, with the human feet morphing into an eagle’s talons dressed in a short skirt. He was among the then day-demons that personified moments of divine intervention in human life.
– The Babylonian Monster
Ugallu, also known as the Babylonian monster for his looks, is portrayed as clasping a dagger with a lion’s head and ears. It holds a mace in its left hand girded with a dagger.
In most Mesopotamian art, Ugallu’s knife and a mace are raised in a threatening manner. This represents that part of him that strikes people down like lightning.
– The Big Weather-Beast
The most common translation for Ugallu’s name is the “big weather-beast”, which is readily apparent to his association with the weather: in myths, he is a man with a roaring lion’s head and eagle’s feet!
How bizarre, indeed! Interestingly enough, a roaring lion is the most common symbol used by the Babylonians to denote a beings’ connection to the weather and storms in Sumerian art.
There is a direct line that links the thunderclap and the roaring of a big cat. In this translation of Ugallu’s name, eagles are thrown into the mix to indicate wind and air as part of the beast’s stormy nature – and, naturally, eagles are the most regal and strongest of them all, representing a ferocious storm. What’s more, ugallu shares his hybrid spot with other beastly figures, including the lion-dragon and Anzu bird.
– The Gatekeeper of the Underworld
Another translation of the Ugallu demon was the gatekeeper of the underworld. This side of Ugallu initially appeared figuratively as a servant of Nargel and a porter in the underworld in the First Babylonian Dynasty.
Later, he is represented on the amulets, paired frequently with another demon with a very similar appearance called Lulal. It was also clear that Ugallu had similar characteristics to Pazuzu, who was the ruler of the wind demons and had eagles’ wings on his back.
– Ugallu Appearance
The essence of this Babylonian monster was airy, ephemeral, and chaotic. When someone called on him, his face was able to shift from female to male, then old to young. In his female form, Ugallu appeared with messy white hair that had bolts of lightning hidden in there.
– Ugallu Day-Demon Representation
Ugallu’s placement in the class of day-demons represents an intricate concept in the Mesopotamian religion. The “Days” here are used to mean more than the usual period between light and darkness.
However, these “days” are sent by the gods to act as the direct agents of their willpower. Like there are often good, and evil days, Ugallu can be benevolent or malevolent depending on his godsent task.
Ugallu’s Origin and Family
Ugallu was among the 11 mythical monsters created to avenge the death of Apsu, god of fresh and sweet water, and destroy the younger gods. These were the rest of the mythical monsters, that were also part of Ugallu’s family, apparently:
- Three fearsome horned snakes named Usumgallu, Musmahhu, and Basmu;
- Lahmu the hairy superman;
- Mushhushshu, the snake-dragon;
- Uridimmu, the lion-man;
- Umu-Debrutu, who created terrifying storms;
- Girtablullu, the scorpion-man;
- Kulullu, the fish-man
- and Kusarikku, the bull-man.
Isn’t it amazing that the Babylonians had such a vivid imagination to create human and animal hybrid monsters? We definitely believe so!
– Ugallu’s Mother: Tiamat
Tiamat, ancient Mother Goddess of Mesopotamia, consort of Apsu, mother to the gods, appeared in the shape of a dragon and created her sons in her conflict with younger gods, to reverse Enuma Elis, the first tablet of the Epic of Creation.
Unfortunately, she was defeated in a battle and killed by Marduk. When she died, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers flew from her eyes and landed on the earth. This also explains why she was represented as saltwater and Apsu as freshwater, as they both could literally be transformed into water!
Ultimately, Saltwater and Freshwater united, and they created all the other gods.
– Ugallu As Tiamat’s Son
Ugallu was known to have the best name as a Tiamat son. Ugallu, like his mother and brothers, were defeated by the Marduk. In this legend, Marduk captured and bound the demons, rehabilitating, and reconstructing the world from the corpses of his defeated adversaries.
This story was what transformed the demons into protective charms used to adorn the doors of palaces, temples, and private dwellings, including gates and bedroom doors of the vulnerable to ward off evil and disease.
The Babylonians changed the narrative of evilness into something good, protective, and positive. Isn’t that wonderful and hopeful?
Ugallu: Was Mesopotamian Lion-Head Beast a Good or Bad Demon?
Most people are probably wondering whether Ugallu was a good or bad demon; well, the answer solely depends on the angle of view. Originally, Ugallu was the personified day, with its nature and power being a manifestation of the divine will of the gods. The varying days were both creative and destructive, which most people refer to as “Good” and “Evil”.
– Ugallus’ Evil Days
Divine anger caused by Ugallu brought about the manifestation of evil days, which turned the days into war and the destruction of life. Basically, Ugallus were used by the ruling gods as a manifestation of their Divine Will.
As the wold headed demon evolved, he became diverse with demonic manifestations. That’s when the evil day came, represented by the dying day called the Umu Lemnu, and brought about by the messengers of Erra.
– Ugallu the Protector from Evil Demons and Illnesses
On the other hand, Ugallu was known for protecting the people against evil demons and illnesses. In some cases, the beneficial protective demon found a special purpose in adorning the outer gates of buildings. Ugallu’s clay figurines were also kept in houses and cemeteries for protection.
– The Protective Spirit
The Babylonian monster served as a protective spirit, manifesting power connected with air, water, and electricity. With his ability to blast the world with raging winds and storms, he often charged the practitioner who summoned him with a high electric power like a rapid ecstatic rush of energy through the spinal column.
– The Bringer of Diseases and Bad Weather
Although he is said to protect an individual or community from diseases, the underworld gatekeeper also brought diseases. He is a punisher of transgressors and is said to be a Mesopotamia demon responsible for hurricanes and violent roaring storms and winds.
Ugallu, just like the Evil Spirits of Utukku Lemnutu, carried out the Divine Will of Adad. The Mesopotamians would meditate upon the wold headed demon because he ended up representing the balance between creation and destruction.
– Ugallu: Good, Evil, or Both?
Like morally detached monstrous angels, evil Ugallu was as likely to hold you and beat you as good Ugallu would chase away plagues, diseases, and bad demons from cities. His ears slightly resemble donkey ears, and we should let you know that Sumerians often use donkey ears to designate bad demons since donkeys are associated with the desert, which is known to be evil.
– Ugallu Appearance in Demonic Form
Ugallu’s curled lion’s tail, when not dressed, is a trait less consistent than the others. The demon has also been associated with many gods and goddesses, most notably the smiting god and Nergal, the god with a scimitar, bringer of diseases, and the lord of the underworld.
Ugallu certainly has a lion’s head, but it appears longer than any lion that ever existed. His donkey ears are quite uncanny too in combination with the lion-head: not wholly unnatural, however, and yet also not something you have ever seen before. Adding onto the roaring of gales and the screaming of squalls, Ugallu is bound to bring a bad atmosphere whenever he is present as a demon
As we have seen, Mesopotamian religious traditions include the creation of gods and demons for most things that existed on earth. Ugallu was one of the most mysterious, respected, and feared demons of the time, and here are the key facts about him:
- Ugallu was one of the 11 sons of Tiamat.
- He was depicted with a lion head or wolf head, with a human body and bird-like fangs.
- The portrait kept evolving with time as Mesopotamians made more carvings of the demon.
- He was mainly referred to as the Big Weather-Beast, due to his association with the weather.
- Sometimes Ugallu was called “the gatekeeper of the underworld.”
- The wold headed beast was both a good and a bad demon, depending on the angle of view.
- Ugallu, his brothers, and Tiamat were all killed by Mudrak.
In conclusion, Ugallu is a storm demon and a Tiamat son. As this article has shown, he was well-known for both good and evil, something that inspired practitioners of the Mesopotamian religion to use his demonic characteristics to influence events and attack targets.