Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology

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LAMA?HTU

(La-MOSH-too)
Variations: Dimme, Lamashto, Lamastu, Lamatu; in incantations Lamashtu is referred to as "the Seven Witches"
At least 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon, there was a vampiric, demonic goddess by the name of Lamashtu. She was born the daughter of the sky god Anu and was described as a woman with a hairy body, the head of a lioness (or bird), the ears and teeth of a donkey, wings, and long eagle talons for fingers (see HAIR). She rode upon an ass, carrying a double-headed snake in each hand. In art she was depicted as suckling dogs and pigs at her breasts.
If crops failed or rivers ran dry it was her doing.When Lamashtu grew hungry she would seek out a pregnant woman and touch her belly seven times, causing the woman to miscarry. Then Lamashtu would eat the aborted fetus. If opportunity presented itself, Lamashtu would kidnap a newborn child and nurse it from her own poisoned breast.
The most feared goddess of her time because she was known as a remorseless baby-killer, Lamashtu would also strike down men at random, as well as send haunting nightmares and fatal diseases.
Pregnant mothers would often wear the amulet of Pazuzu, a wind demon, as he would often clash with the goddess. Mothers who did not want the protection of a demon had the option of offering Lamashtu gifts of broaches, centipedes, combs, and fibulae. These gifts, along with a clay image of the goddess, would be put in a model boat, and in ritualistic fashion be set adrift down a river in the hopes that it would reach Lamashtu in her underworld home.
For all the fear the goddess inspired, archeologists have never discovered any evidence of a single sanctuary, shrine, or temple erected to her; not even a mention of one exists in any writings that were left behind. There have, however, been numerous prayers that can be said to invoke against Lamashtu.
Source: Mc Nally, Clutch of Vampires; Nemet-Nejat, Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, 128­32; Schwartz, Tree of Souls, 216; Turner, Dictionary of Ancient Deities, 285­86
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