Spirits in the Library – Pazuzu

For the third part of our series (see parts 1 and 2) examining various works covering demonic entities, I’ll be looking at Pazuzu.

Louvre PazuzuA creation of the first millennium BC Assyrians, Pazuzu is the spirit of plague, cold, and evil winds.  He was generally shunned, but could also be called upon to scare off the female demon Lamashtu from small children.  (The tablet from the left, from the Louvre, shows Pazuzu overlooking Lamashtu in what is likely a protective manner.)  Recognition of Pazuzu seems to have died out in the Christian era – at least until The Exorcist made his curious locust-winged, scorpion-tailed, beaked, clawed appearance a cultural icon.

Part of my choice of Pazuzu was prompted by his position outside of traditional monotheism, save for his appearances in media.  So, what’s the verdict?

We do have some omissions.  de Plancy leaves him out, which is not surprising given how recently knowledge of Pazuzu came to us.  Gettings omits him as well.  Neither Belanger nor Davidson includes them in their works, although the introductions indicate that he doesn’t fall under the criteria set by either author.

Bane – A brief description of the demon, with notes as to his appearance and the rivalry with Lamashtu.  Some sources listed, none from Mesopotamian mythology.

Guiley – Information on his appearance, his rivalry with Lamashtu, and his role in The Exorcist.  Uses Black and Green’s Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia as a source.  Excellent.

Lurker – A very short section that covers the basics of the spirit’s appearance and portfolio, but no mention of Lamashtu.  Short and factually accurate.

Mack – Three pages on Pazuzu initially make this look good, but upon reading much of this is just filler text about other spirits.

This particular choice did fulfill the purpose I set out, which was to flush out the philosophies behind the books.  Mack was particularly disappointing, I have to say.  Other books I didn’t expect did an excellent job with him, while others left him on the wayside, disappointingly.

Who will be our next candidate?  We’ll find out soon…

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Published in: on July 10, 2015 at 8:48 am  Comments (2)  

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  1. Regarding Pazuzu, you ought to take a look at Nils P. Heeßel. Pazuzu. Archäologische und Philologische Studien zu einem altorientalischen Dämon. E.J. Brill, 2002. Seems to be still in print

  2. […] It was about a month ago that a librarian friend of mine mentioned pursuing a research question on a particular demon.  This brought to my attention that there are many, many books out there that are presented as being comprehensive lists of spirits. I thought it might be fun to examine them.  Before examining any at great length, I came up with a list of half a dozen particular entities.  By covering their treatment in each of these books, we might get a good idea as to what books might be best for the cost-conscious bibliophile or librarian.  It’s an unscientific process, to be sure, but I wanted to keep it fun. Our contenders are as follows: Bane, Theresa. Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2012. Belanger, Michelle A. The Dictionary of Demons : Names of the Damned. Woodbury, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications, 2010. Collin de Plancy, J.-A.-S. Dictionnaire Infernal.  Paris: BH. Plon, 1863. Davidson, Gustav. A Dictionary of Angels, Including the Fallen Angels. New York: Free Press, 1967. Gettings, Fred. Dictionary of Demons : A Guide to Demons and Demonologists in Occult Lore. North Pomfret, Vt.: Trafalgar Square Pub., 1988. Guiley, Rosemary. The Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology. New York: Facts On File : Checkmark Books, 2009. Lurker, Manfred. Dictionary of gods and goddesses, devils and demons. London; New York: Routledge and K. Paul, 1987. Mack, Carol K., and Dinah. Mack. A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1999. Update: For those interested in reading the entries for each entity, they are as follows: Part 1 – Asmodeus Part 2 – Baron Part 3 – Pazuzu […]


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