Lamashtu – Xia Morningstars Mother

Lamaštu practiced evil apparently for its own sake, her primary victims considered to be unborn children and new-born babies. Pregnant women were therefore also her targets, Lamaštu generally being held responsible for miscarriage and cot death amongst babies. It was believed, in the first instance, that the wearing by the expectant mother of an amuletic bronze head of the demon Pazuzu might thwart the goddess’ evil plans. Another apotropaic device in warding off Lamaštu was the positioning of the so-called ‘Lamaštu-plaques’ of metal or stone about the house, these including a depiction of Pazuzu forcing Lamaštu back into the Underworld from whence she came. Rather than a pregnant woman, however, these plaques depict a bed-ridden man, suggesting that Lamaštu was also associated with disease. Finally, the ritual offering of centipedes and brooches, amongst other items, were considered to distract Lamaštu from her intent.

Great is the daughter of Heaven who tortures babies
Her hand is a net, her embrace is death
She is cruel, raging, angry, predatory
A runner, a thief is the daughter of Heaven
She touches the bellies of women in labor
She pulls out the pregnant women’s baby
The daughter of Heaven is one of the Gods, her brothers
With no child of her own.
Her head is a lion’s head
Her body is a donkey’s body
She roars like a lion
She constantly howls like a demon-dog.

Image Source: Keel, Othmar, Die Welt der altorientalischen Bildsymbolik und das AT, 1980, Abb. 94, S. 71.

Text Compliments of Ancient Near East Net