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I AM That Demon


A Representation of the Mandaean Demon Dinanukht

A Representation of the Mandaean Demon Dinanukht

It is strange how reading a few lines on some abstruse subject can set your mind going. I was reading Christian Caryl’s review of Gerard Russell’s book Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East in the December 4, 2014 issue of The New York Review of Books. There I came upon this quote from the book regarding the Mandaeans from the marshes of Southern Iraq:

There is Krun, the flesh mountain, who sounds a bit like Jabba the Hutt; as [E. S.] Drower wrote, “The whole visible world rests on this king of darkness, and his shape is that of a huge house.” There is Abraham, who appears as a failed Mandaean guided by an evil spirit to leave and found his own community. There is the dragon Ur, whose belly is made of fire and sits above an ocean of flammable oil. There is Ptahil, “who takes souls to be weighed and sends his spirits to fetch souls from their bodies.” My favorite was the demon Dinanukht, who is half man and half book and “sits by the waters between the worlds, reading himself.” [Italics mine]

Omigosh, that sounds like me.



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