Weekly Deity: Pazuzu


Pazuzu statue from the Louvre

Pazuzu is an evil spirit/demigod of the Assyrians and Babylonians.  He is the spirit of the southwest wind and the bringer of drought and locusts.

Attributes

Pazuzu is an interesting character in terms of his attributes.  He seems to be made of a lot of different human and animals parts.  His body is a human’s, but he has two pairs of large wings, and his head is that of either a lion or dog.  He has eagle’s feet and a scorpion tail.  All in all, a very fearsome creature to behold.  Considering he is often named a demon, this would make sense.

Mythology

Pazuzu is married to Lamashtu, who is also very fearsome.  She is said to be a nasty creature who brings harm to mothers and children during childbirth.  They are not said to have had any children.  His father is the god Hanbi, and we don’t know what exactly Hanbi is a god of, just that he existed.  Pazuzu is the demon of the southwest wind and king of the demons of the wind.  He brought drought and famine in the dry months and locusts in the wet months, all of which is very harmful to the delicate balance of desert-living humanity.

The demon apparently had another role as well.  Even though he himself was a demon, Pazuzu was also responsible for chasing away other demons.  This made him something like a protector spirit that guarded humans from misfortune and plagues.

Light and Dark Sides

Pazuzu is a very interesting deity.  Well, he’s really more of a demi-god than a full deity, if you want to get technical, but for the purposes of this post we’re going to simplify things and call him a deity (implying some kind of divine being, which it could be argued that he is because of his parentage, despite his label of “demon”).  On the one hand, he brings all kinds of bad things to humankind, such as the droughts, locusts, and famine.  Being a dry, hot wind, he brings all of that with him when he visits, and he doesn’t seem to regret it o regret the harm he causes.  Plus, he’s married to a very malicious lady who enjoys causing harm to mothers and children.  Seems very Dark to me!

But on the other hand, Pazuzu also protects humans.  He protects, or attempts to protect, the women and children going through childbirth from his wife by appearing in the amulets people wear.  He protects people from other demons by chasing away those demons, keeping people from misfortune.  These actions and facets of his personality appear to be very Light and good.

Despite his status as a “demon,” I think I’m going to say Pazuzu is more of a neutral deity.  He causes a great deal of harm, but he seems to make up for it by being a protector as well.  To be honest, he rather confuses me–I think it’s rare to see this kind of absolute opposite behavior in a god.  It tends to be a little more clear about (roughly) where they would stand on a Light-Neutral-Dark scale, but I think it would be fairly safe to put Pazuzu in the Neutral category.  His Light side neutralizes his Dark.

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4 responses to “Weekly Deity: Pazuzu

  1. I’ve studied the origins of Pazuzu,also Pazuza, and he is a diety, he isnt part human but considered to have anthropomorphic features like his hands somewhat, arms, neck, and ears. His torso is like an upright bird (eagle),
    and has a face an upper legs of a lion, (hairless), etc. I think he would be more like the ‘necessary evil’ in order to battle evil, and the king, ruling over evil spirits to keep them under control. As far as The Exorcist book goes, there is no mention of Pazuzu being the original demon from where Blatty got the “true story” from, that part he just added himself.

    More later, if interested. 🙂

  2. It is an interesting topic. Although Pazuzu is regarded as a demonic entity to be feared he is also equally revered in certain cultures, it is said he can ward off other evil spirits, (evil against evil). I dont view Pazuzu as a god as such as his acts are anything but godly. He brings famine and disease as well as taking possession of people, (the Exorcist). I have always wondered why William Blatty chose this Demon to possess Reagan in his book (exorcist) as Pazuzu isn’t Satan or the Devil and so it seems like a compromise to use Pazuzu this way, maybe Blatty didn’t want to be cliched, as most are in possession stories by using Satan. Also if Reagan was possessed by Satan would the possession be more brutal and ultimately kill her. Could it be that due to Pazuzu’s connection to the middle east, Iraq, (formerly Mesopotamia) that it provided a natural location for the story to begin, given that Mesopotamia and Babylon were the cradle of civilisation and is also a hotbed of political and religious unrest. This offers a perfect backdrop for the fight between good and evil and a battle between to cultures and faiths, Catholicism and islam/judaism. In the book and film, the Exorcist, it appears that the battle was lost, given that two priests had died and Reagan was still tormented by Pazuzu, could it be that due to the exorcism rite being a catholic belief system it had no effect on Pazuzu as he was of a differing religious order and only by using his own god against him could he be cast out. Is exorcism still beneficial, do people become possessed or has it always been down to a psychological disturbance of some kind and through discovery we have become more enlightened.

  3. Very nice post. Another interesting thing about this deity is that he was represented in The Exorcist movie a number of times.

    Check it out.

    Blessings.

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