Greek or Berber (Amazigh)

In Greek mythology, Lamia was a Libyan queen loved by Zeus. Their relationship lasted long enough to bear at least two children. Hera, Zeus’ jealous wife, discovered the affair and retaliated by either stealing or killing Lamia’s children. Lamia was so distraught that she ripped her own eyes right out of her head. In grief, rage and desolation, she moved into an undersea cavern and transformed into a vengeful, evil spirit who steals other women’s children. (An alternative version says that Zeus pitied her after Hera’s attack and so he hid her in a cave,transformed her into a monster and gave her permission to attack other women’s children.)

• Lamia may be an indigenous Berber spirit, Demonized by Greeks

• She may be Poseidon’s daughter

• She may be a shark goddess

• She may be all of the above

Lamia’s name is related to a word meaning “gullet”. Lamia may be interpreted as “single shark” or “lone shark”. Lamia’s son is definitely a shark spirit. She is among the goddesses named as Scylla’s mother.

Lamia has two distinct manifestations: one corresponds to classical Greek myth and the other to her origins as a dangerous marine spirit. It’s not entirely clear that they are the same spirit despite the fact that they share the same name. (See below Lamia of the Sea.)

The Lamia that corresponds to the Greek myth is not associated with underwater attacks or any sort of water mythology. She’s a child-stealer, plain and simple. This Lamia is accused of stealing children (she’s blamed for children who literally disappear); miscarriage, stillbirth, crib death or the deaths of young children. It is possible that this Lamia is actually derived from the Sumerian goddess Lamashtu. This Lamia is a shape-shifter who can take the eyes out of her head to keep watch even when she’s sleeping. She can send her eyes on scouting missions so that she can stay in one place but see another.


  • Hera
  • Lamashtu
  • Lamia of the Sea
  • Lamiae
  • Poseidon
  • Scylla
  • Zeus


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.