Although the Sumerians never considered their deities to be of absolute good or absolute evil natures, this ancient civilization did believe in the presence of beneficent and malevolent spirits in their lives. The Babylonians were renowned for their great magickal protections and powerful exorcisms, and the later Persian religion of Zoroastrianism gave rise to the widespread belief in angels and demons that many of us still recognize today.
Below you will find descriptions, most gathered from cuneiform texts in the British Museum, describing the attributes of the malevolent spirits which haunted the Sumerians' lives.

They are gloomy, their shadow dark, no light is in their bodies,
ever they slink along covertly, walk not upright,
from their claws drips bitter gall, their footprints are (full of) evil venom....

Neither males are they, nor females,
they are winds ever sweeping along,
they have not wives, engender not children,
know not how to show mercy,
hear not prayer and supplication....

The shivers and chills (of death) that fritter the sum of things, spawn of the god of heaven, spawned on an evil spirit,
the death warrants, beloved sons of the storm god, born of the queen of the netherworld,
who were torn out of heaven and hurled from the earth as castoffs, are creatures of hell, all.

Up above they roar, down below they cheep,
they are the bitter venom of the gods,
they are the great storms let loose from heaven,
they are the owl (of ill omen) that hoots in the town,
spawn spawned by the god of heaven, sons born by earth are they.

Over high roofs, over broad roofs like a floodwave they surge,
from house to house they climb over,
Doors do not hold them, locks do not restrain them,
through the doors they glide like snakes,
through the hinge boxes they blow like wind.

From the man's embrace they lead off the wife,
from the man's knee they make the child get up,
and the youth they fetch out of the house of his in-laws,
they are the numbness, the daze, that tread on the heels of man.

Thorkild Jacobsen, The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion, p.12



Last updated December 2, 1998