Observations placeholder

Babylon - Babylonian ghosts



Type of Spiritual Experience

Inter composer communication

Number of hallucinations: 1



There are many references to ghosts in Mesopotamian religions - the religions of Sumer, Babylon, Assyria and other early states in Mesopotamia. Traces of these beliefs survive in the later Abrahamic religions that came to dominate the region.

The concept of ghosts or spirits in the religions of the Ancient Near East is comparable to the shades of the deceased in the Underworld in the mythology of Classical Antiquity. The shades or spirits of the deceased were known as gidim  in Sumerian, and as eṭemmu in Akkadian. The Sumerian word is analyzed as a compound of either gig "to be sick" and dim3 "a demon", or gi6 "black" + dim4 "to approach".

Gidim were thought to be created at time of death, taking on the memory and personality of the dead person. They traveled to the netherworld, Irkalla, where they were assigned a position, and led an existence similar in some ways to that of the living.

A description of the experience

Myths of Babylonia and Assyria by Donald A. Mackenzie


The Babylonian ghosts of unmarried men and women and of those without offspring were also disconsolate night wanderers. Others who suffered similar fates were the ghosts of men who died in battle far from home and were left unburied, the ghosts of travellers who perished in the desert and were not covered over, the ghosts of drowned men which rose from the water, the ghosts of prisoners starved to death or executed, the ghosts of people who died violent deaths before their appointed time. The dead required to be cared for, to have libations poured out, to be fed, so that they might not prowl through the streets or enter houses searching for scraps of food and pure water. The duty of giving offerings to the dead was imposed apparently on near relatives.

There were hags and giants of mountain and desert, of river and ocean. Demons might possess the pig, the goat, the horse, the lion, or the ibis, the raven, or the hawk. The seven spirits of tempest, fire, and destruction rose from the depths of ocean, and there were hosts of demons which could not be overcome or baffled by man without the assistance of the gods to whom they were hostile. Many were sexless; having no offspring, they were devoid of mercy and compassion. They penetrated everywhere:

The high enclosures, the broad enclosures, like a flood they pass through,
From house to house they dash along.
No door can shut them out;
No bolt can turn them back.
Through the door, like a snake, they glide,
Through the hinge, like the wind, they storm,
Tearing the wife from the embrace of the man,
Driving the freedman from his family home.

They hunt the doves from their cotes,
And drive the birds from their nests,
And chase the marten from its hole. . . .
Through the gloomy street by night they roam,
Smiting sheepfold and cattle pen,
Shutting up the land as with door and bolt.
                           R. C. Thompson's Translation.

The source of the experience

Mesopotamian system

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps