Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fiendish Forces in Hebrew Amulets - Part 2

There are many references to all manner of demonic forces in Hebrew amulets, usually in terms of kin type and, except for a very few like the demoness Lilit, are rarely named individually. Even when it comes to referencing a single “malevolent spirit,” it is often in the third person. For example, mention is made of the collective Ruchin b’ishin or to Ruchot ra’ot, all of which have been translated “evil spirits” (some say “ghosts”), and they are considered to be of both the feminine and masculine kind [Montgomery, J.A.: Aramaic Incantation Texts from Nippur, University Museum, Philadelphia 1913.]. We also find references to a singular Ruach ra’ah (“evil spirit”), i.e. one from amongst the “Ruchin” or “Ruchot ra’ot.”

As it is, Hebrew amulets include references to several classes from amongst the demonic legions. Amongst those mentioned in Kameot listed in my "The Book of Seals & Amulets," are the Mazikim or Mazikin, i.e. injurers (harmful spirits), who have been described “imps.” It has been claimed that the mazikim are the offspring of Adam and Eve having had liaisons with demonic entities. It is said they “and their demonic consorts account for the proliferation of demons”[Schwartz, H., Loebel-Fried, Ginsburg, E.K.: Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism, Oxford University Press Inc., New York 2004.]. However, there appears to be some confusion as far as these claims are concerned. Elsewhere it is indicated that the mazikim, “beings who injure (nezek)” [Witton Davies, T.: "Magic" Back and White, Charms and Counter Charms, Divination and Demonology among the Hindus, Hebrews, Arabs and Egyptians, de Laurence, Scott & Co., Chicago 1910], are comprised of a number of demonic classes.

Past research referenced two main factions amongst the mazikim, the first is comprised of “fallen angels who are wholly supernatural,” and the second of beings who are “half supernatural and half human.” Amongst the latter group there are two demonic classes which are of interest to us, since they are often referred to in protection amulets. First there is the Lilin faction of demons, which were “begotten of Adam on the one side, and Lilith and other female spirits on the other,” rather than from Eve, the primordial human mother, and we are told that “Lilith reigns over these as queen” [Witton Davies].

Next there are the Shedim or Shedin, the most cited of the demonic types listed in Hebrew amulets. We find references in the Hebrew Bible to these “demonic fiends,” i.e. in Deuteronomy 32:17 in which we are told regarding those who forsook the good ways of the Almighty One, "they sacrificed unto demons [Shedim]”). This accusation is emphasised and expanded upon in Psalm 106:37 where we read “Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto demons [Shedim]”).

The Shedim are said to be of the mischievous or “hobgoblin type” [Montgomery] and we are informed that their king, Ashmedai, “resembles the merry if also mischief-making hobgoblins of fairy tales” [Witton Davies]. It is said the Shedim were born from the sexual relations of two angels, i.e. Aza and Azael, with Na’amah, the daughter of Lamech who was the great-great grandson of the Biblical Enoch. All of this supposedly happened prior to the biblical “great flood” [Rappoport, A.S.: Myth and Legend of Ancient Israel, Vol. 1, The Gresham Publishing Company Ltd., London 1927]. However, the Shedim may “assume any shape and form they like,” and are “able to see without being seen themselves” [Thompson, R.C.: Semitic Magic: Its Origins and Development, Luzac & Co., London 1909]. If you should find this disconcerting, especially as far as your personal safety against these malevolent forces is concerned, it is worth noting that all demonic forces are said to be subordinate to the four great Archangels of the Divine Throne, i.e. Micha’el, Gavri’el, Rafa’el and Ori’el. In this regard, the 14th century Kabbalist Menachem ben Meir Tziyoni tells us “And know, that each party (of demons) is (subordinated) to certain archons and divine angels, as it is known among men of understanding” [Tziyoni, M. ben M.: unpublished passage in Sefer Tziyoni translated in Huss, B.: Demonology and Magic, Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 10, 2004].

No comments: