Friday, August 19, 2011

Supernatural Friday: Demons-Part 2

Last week I talked about demons, and how they are a part of Judaic and Christianity. Today, demons of other rleigions and races get their chance.

Assyrians may have had the first demon tales. Besides having the public and official cult of the "twelve great gods and subordinate divinities," they also did sorcery and magic. Below the upper gods, there was a huge lore of spirits, some good, others evil and hurtful. Interestingly enough, these spirits were classified with same methods and more to the choirs and orders of Judaic and Christian angelic hierarchy.

There were three books (most likely clay tablets) that had a great magical work. Each of these tablets ends with the title, Tablet #--of Evil Spirits. Besides known as udukku (spirit), a demon was also called ecimmu, or maskimmu.On of these was a special class called sedu--divine bull. It is represented as a man-headed bull (not unlike the Greek myth of the Minotaur--maybe even the Christian devil represented with horn and a forked tail?). No doubt the name was the source for the Hebrew word for demon. Though it was also a beneficient or tutelary spirit, to rival nation it can be corrupted to an evil being.

Demon lore in Mesopotamia was rich; the Mesopotamians feeling they were under constant attack from evil on all sides. Demonic entities usually were spirits caused by natural forces such as fire, plagues, droughts, infants dying from crib deaths and diseases. They assumed fantastically-shaped creatures made up from several parts of living things like scorpions, lions, serpents and hawks. One example of this was the Sumerian demon, Pazuzu, who was made famous by the horror film, "The Exorcist." It had four wings, clawed feet of a hawk, and a snarling lion-like face.

Mesopotamians fought these demons back with magic. Placing special bowls inscribed with special word charms upside down under their houses' foundations, they hoped to catch these demos and prevent them from entering their homes through the ground. Amulets with avertive verses against certain demons (like those who attack the lives of women giving birth) also were made.

After Babylonians were captured, ancient Hebrews assorbed much of Sumerian demons and lore into their own folklore. Over time, these became Jewish demons, like Lilith, who strangled children in their cribs and visited solitary men in their beds to seduce and caused nocturnal emissions. Lilith began life as a Babylonian demon known as the lilitu. She mutated into the first wife of Adam, who refused obedience to God.

Another source of demonologies is presented in the Avesta, the sacred book of the Mazdean religion of Zoroaster. Zoroastrianism is the doctrine teaching of Zarathustra, also known as Mazdaism, Bah Din, Parasiism, and Fire-worship.

This doctrine was founded by the Persian prophet, Zoroaster of Zarathustra around 720-541 B.C. He claimed he received these revelations when conversing with Ahura Mazda (Lord of Wisdom). These ancient religion, not popular like the Assyrians, still exists in the Parsee community. It talks about the war between light and dark, that good and evil is eternal. This myth is based on the Persian worship of the ahuras, good deities eternally at war with evil daevas. Is this not sound like Christian doctrine of eternal struggles between Heaven and Hell? What Zoroaster's system did is do away with a single deity in favor os a cosmic struggle between the good Ahura Mazda (Ormzad) and Ahriman (Anro Mainya), the cruel Evil Spirit, the Demon of Demons (Daevanam Daeva).

Though differences prevailed between the Avesta and the devil in Scripture and Christian theology, the essential fight between good and evil is similar in both cases. Also the pictures of the holiness and fidelity of Zoroaster when assailed by the temptations and persecutions of Anro Mainyus and his demonic entities is faintly close to the scene of the temptation of Jesus Christ in the desert.

Demons in Greek mythology may have gotten their heritage from the former civilizations of the Indus. Some of the creatures from Greek mythology are integrated into Jewish and Christian demonology--the hydra, Titans, Pan, and mermaids.

Tibetan demonology integrated into Buddhism and the main local branches. Though often misunderstood or misinterpreted, the scope of the still-know iconography is living proof that the pre-Buddhist Bon-Po tradition gave birth to their terrifying monsters. Today they are considered as an angry form of divinities and pure emptiness, before they were considered fearsome demons and gods who ruled the mysterious heights of the planet.

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