The One Who Roams About; Daughter of Heaven; The Kidnapper; The Eraser
Although Lamashtu is typically described as a Demon, she’s really a goddess, albeit potentially a very dangerous one. Lamashtu is the daughter of Anu, Sumerian Lord of the Sky. Lamashtu may show different faces to different people similar to her compatriot and contemporary, Lilith. Like Lilith, Lamashtu is associated with witchcraft, infertility, miscarriage and the death of babies. Like Lilith, Lamashtu is connected with Inanna-Ishtar although exactly how is no longer understood.
Sumerians and Assyrians apparently viewed Lamashtu as a completely evil spirit: worse then most because Lamashtu is not a justice spirit. She doesn’t cause suffering as retribution or as commanded by high authorities. Lamashtu’s hostility towards people is unexplained but basically she causes suffering because she feels like it.
Lamashtu prevents conception, causes miscarriage and kills newborns (crib death). She causes illness, specifically fevers and inflammation and if that’s not sufficient, she notoriously taunts those she persecutes. Lamashtu is counteracted by her rival, the Demon Pazuzu. He has his own bad reputation as a plague bringer however he protects against Lamashtu, although whether because he feels sorry for people or because the two spirits hate each other so much is subject for conjecture. Wear or post images of Pazuzu to provide safety from Lamashtu.
On the other hand, among various ancient Semitic cultures, Lamashtu was considered a fierce but protective guardian. She is the deity who protects those lacking protective deities. Amulets bearing her name were hung on all doors of a house although whether this is to protect against her or to invoke her protection is now unknown. Perhaps like Lilith, Lamashtu will not cause harm where she sees her name.
Manifestation: Lamashtu may appear as a woman or a lion-headed woman. She may have feet like a bird. She is characterized by loose, disheveled hair, long nails, dirty hands and a restless nature. She howls like a dog.
Iconography: She is depicted suckling pigs and dogs or carrying double-headed snakes.
Animal: Those pigs and snakes, plus lions
See also: Demon; Lamia; Lilith; Pazuzu
From the Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.