“The man in khaki prowled the ruins, The Temple of Nabu. The Temple of Ishtar. He sifted vibrations. At the palace of Ashurbanipal he paused; then shifted a sidelong glance to a limestone statue hulking in situ: ragged wings; taloned feet; bulbous, jutting, stubby penis and a mouth stretched taught in feral grin. The demon Pazuzu.”1.
In my current project, Evil Archaeology, the demon Pazuzu is featured prominently on the cover. Some may recognize this demon from the novel and film, The Exorcist, both of which open in Iraq at an archaeological excavation. At the site, (which is currently at risk from ISIS), a priest feels strong southwesterly wind blowing, foreshadowing the arrival of Pazuzu, demon of the southwestern wind and bearer of storms and drought in Assyrian and Babylonian mythology.
In my upcoming book, I am investigating the archaeological record for artifacts and evidence of evil entities. I am examining the history and lore behind real relics, believed to be haunted or possessed. I am also looking at demonology and document how many of the ancient Mesopotamian demons and deities, like Pazuzu, have influenced Christian beliefs in demonic entities. I feature interviews and accounts from real exorcists.
As I have been putting the book together, one question keeps coming up. Are there ancient malevolent entities at work in our world today? This question was recently addressed in the form of a disturbing news report out of North Carolina.
Authorities say, a self-described Satanist, who legally changed his name to Pazuzu, allegedly told friends he had been eating parts of his victims’ bodies before burning and burying them in his backyard. Pazuzu Illah Algarad, born as John Alexander Lawson, told psychiatrists that he practiced a Sumerian religion that involved monthly ritual sacrifice of a small animal. Every month during what he called the “black moon,” he would make animal sacrifices to Pazuzu.
|Pazuzu Illah Algarad, 35, (left) and his 'wife' Amber Nicole Burch, 24, were arrested and charged with murder after the skeletal remains of two men were discovered in shallow graves behind their home.|
Tonight, as I type this post, there is a very windy front coming in from the southwest. In the dark with only the light from a candle and my computer, I can’t help but feel a chill as I notice the wind whistle through the trees. Pazuzu, demon of the southwest wind, is he working in our world today? Certainly, this couple from North Carolina were 100% to blame for their heinous acts, but what or who was their professed inspiration? Pazuzu.
Inspiration, from Latin inspirare, meaning to breathe or blow into, the word was originally used to describe when a supernatural being imparts an idea to someone. What is possession but an evil spiritual entity, inhabiting a willing person, encouraging them to do evil things in the name of that demon? Although demons may not be tangible, or arguably even real, this recent criminal case leaves me questioning the criteria for demonic possession. Were these criminals simply suffering from psychological disturbances, or had the Pazuzu spirit found willing avatars to carry out his horrendous deeds?
I will be considering this as I look into what it really means to be possessed in my research for Evil Archaeology. I am scheduled to meet with an exorcist for an interview in a few weeks. Maybe he will be able to shed some more light on this for me.
1. Blatty, William Peter. The exorcist. New York: Harper & Row, 1971.