Mazzik : The Injurer; The Harmer
Mazzik may be a specific type of spirit or a blanket term for various Jewish categories of possibly malicious spirits including Ruhin, Shedim, and Lilim. The plural is technically Mazzikim or Mazzikin, but many just call them Mazziks. Mazzik may be understood as a generic term for “Demon.” The Mazzik is generally a relatively low-level Demon. Jewish Demonology traditionally reserves its largest concerns for possession by dybbuks (ghosts, disembodied souls).
• Dybbuks are a crisis.
• Mazziks are a fact of life.
Maskim are ancient Mesopotamian spirits. Their name is translated as “Those Who Lay Ambushes.” Surviving Babylonian clay tablets recount exorcisms and incantations used against them. There are fourteen Maskim:
• Seven reside beneath Earth and cause earthquakes and epidemics.
• Seven reside over Earth and are destructive, malevolent wind and storm spirits.
Underworld Maskim live in Ereshkigal’s court, serving as her messengers and throne bearers.
The name Mazzikim may derive from Maskim. Although the names are essentially the same, the spirits are not identical.
Mazziks are rarely possessing spirits. They tend to attack only if angered or unhappy. Most Mazzik-lore assumes coexistence. Invisible Mazziks are ever-present, and so the best defense is to know how to live with them. The Jewish equivalent of Feng Shui is largely concerned with maintaining peaceful relations with Demons.
Mazzikim, like Djinn, prefer uninhabited wild places (deserts, fields, forests), bathhouses, and old-fashioned outhouses. They like ritually impure places and slaughterhouses. They love deep shadows: moon-shadows, shade trees, and especially nut trees. Mazzikim linger under roofs and rain gutters on moonlit nights, possibly a stimulus for protective gargoyles, which may guard against them. They love ruins and cemeteries.
What appears to be unoccupied land may not be. It is dangerous to construct homes or buildings on land that is already claimed by Mazziks, as with the Fairy Roads of Ireland. Are there a disproportionate number of accidents? Is the death rate unusually high? This could be a sign that Mazziks are asserting land rights. If it’s not Mazziks, fasting, praying, and good deeds should improve the situation, but if there isn’t a marked improvement relatively soon, the simple solution is: move! Preferably somewhere far, where provoked Demons won’t follow.
• Don’t construct new buildings on unoccupied land. (There may be a good reason it’s unoccupied.) If you must build, make it look as impermanent as possible—a tent may not evoke a Mazzik’s fury. Stone houses imply permanence, which the Demons may perceive as arrogant and an insult.
• Don’t move into a new house at all. Look for an older home with a happy, healthy history. Don’t move into a home previously occupied by people with more than their fair share of illness and bad luck. Once upon a time, in medieval European Jewish communities, people were paid to live in new homes until safety had been established.
• If an old house is demolished in order to replace it with a new one, keep the windows and doors in the same old places. Mazziks are famously not the geniuses of the spirit world —move their usual entrance and they will constantly bang their heads. Their standard response isn’t to learn the new locations but to strike out at whoever took the old ones away. (That’s why they’re Demons, not research assistants.)
• Mazziks don’t like to have their movement impeded. They have a tendency to throw fits and cause trouble if they can’t get in or out. Don’t make doors and windows absolutely air-tight: leave tiny cracks or holes, even a keyhole, so they can travel through.
A legend describes Hungarian Jews who settled in a previously unoccupied place. Their death rate suddenly soared. They prayed, fasted, wondered what they had done wrong but to no avail. One day the leader of their community encountered what appeared to be a band of people whose leader rode a lion using a snake as a bridle. This Demon leader advised the community leader to leave; the land was already claimed. The people left, and their death rate immediately receded back to normal.
Mazziks aren’t all bad. They can be benevolent or beneficial toward people. They are sometimes summoned to reveal the future. If they deem the questioner worthy, Mazziks will tell the truth. If not, they may answer a summons to appear but refuse to answer or cooperate. (Alternatively they may lie or tell deceptive half-truths.) The King of the Mazzikin is named Kafzefoni. The angel Jophiel protects against him and his two wives, the Dreary One and the Little Leper.
Certain types of bad luck are associated with Mazziks:
• A disproportionate number of bereavements in a family, especially of children.
• Women whose husbands die. (Anyone may be a widow once but surviving multiple husbands may indicate Demonic interference à la the biblical Book of Tobit.)
Contact with Mazzikim may cause illness characterized by alternating fever and chills. Mazziks may not intentionally inflict illness. Sensitive people, especially children, may simply react negatively to their presence. Should you survive a Mazzik-attack, it’s recommended that you and yours avoid the scene of the attack, lest the Demon is awaiting another opportunity to try again Amulets and appeals to protective spirits, especially guardian angels will keep Mazziks away or at least keep you safe
Mazziks can shape-shift. Favoured forms include dogs, frogs, and goats. They may appear as people, too.
Caper bushes, nut trees
Water as well as oil and breadcrumbs, which may be cast on the ground
- Eresh kigal
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.