Babylonian Folklore and Myth

By the Waters of Babylon 1865 Sir Edward Poynter 1836-1919 Presented by Gilbert Dalziel 1924 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/A00830

 

This notable ancient civilization was located in the nation of Iraq. The primary gods were, Anu, and Enlil, the eidder Bel.

 

  • Ea- the god of the deep, was one of the primary gods. He was also known as Enki, the great magician of the gods. His temple was in Eridu. Ea fathered the seven storm demons, including dragon and serpent.
  • Anu- another primary gods, who was the god of the sky. He was a lunar deity with solar attributes.
  • Enlil- another primary god, who was the earth god. He was also the god of thunder, rain, and fertility.
  • Beloved sons of Bel- the spirits of disease.
  • Seven daughters of Fate- daughters of Anu.
  • Babylon also had a flood story, and Pir-napishtim, or Utnapishtim, was Noah.
  • Ashipu- magicians who exorcised demons. They exorcised by identifying the demon, and reciting lines on its power and characteristics.
  • Mashmashu- purifiers of the earth. They visited a home for ceremony after demons were exorcised.
  • Victims of disease were possessed by devouring demons.
  • Toothaches were caused by vampire-like worms that absorbed the victim’s blood, especially in the gums.
  • A sick man was often regarded as “unclean,” and would be isolated from the community. Each temple had a “House of Light,” for fire ceremonies. There was also a “House of Washing,” where patients could bathe in sacred water.
  • Foods were considered “unclean” if eaten during certain periods. For example, no one could eat pork on the 30th of Ab (modern July or August), or the 27th of Tisri. If any dietary rule was broken, it would being terrible misfortune.
  • Festival Day of Marduk- no one should change clothes, wear white, or make sacrifices.
  • Ura- Spirit of disease.
  • Ishun- a counsellor of Ura.
  • Ghosts of the dead were the least powerful spirits. If they were given a proper burial, they were harmless.
  • Homeless spirits (those not buried) searched the streets in search of food and water, or a place to live. Sometimes, they would injure people. If they were malevolent, they could appear to children and frighten them to death. They could waylay travelers or mock those in sorrow.
  • Screetch-owls- were the ghosts of mothers who had died in childbirth, and wailed with grief at night. If she appeared, she appeared as a monster, and killed travelers.
  • Lilith- a demon who sabotaged lovers.
  • Labartu- a hag who haunted the mountains and marshes. Children had to be blessed or charmed to avoid her traps.
  • Spirits could be conjured to give information on the future or current worries.
  • Priests who performed ceremonies had to be attired in magical garments.
  • Casasaptu- a Babylonian witch.

 

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