This week’s article involves an unusual and largely unreported phenomenon – the possible residence of a Mesopotamian demon in the Aragonese Pyrenees! The only reference I can find to this creature with any real information is in Olivier de Marliave’s Magie et Sorcellerie dans le Pyrenees (Editions Sud Ouest, 2006, p. 247), but it is too unique a superstition not to write about, albeit briefly due to such scant reference.
The Aragonese Pyrenees, dwelling of the unique Pajuzu and his hailstorms. Photo taken from http://mw2.google.com/mw-panoramio/photos/medium/5792893.jpg
Pajuzu is a little know demon from upper Aragon, who is responsible for creating the thunderstorms that rage against the mountains in this region. Curés from the area are recorded as referencing this malefic creature during their prayers, recited in their exconjuradoras (little chapels devoted to warding off storms).
It is highly likely that the name Pajuzu is corrupted and imported form of Pazuzu, the chief Mesopotamian demon of the winds, who often appeared as a smiling man with wings, a dog’s head and eagle’s talons. Both Pazuzu and Pajuzu share this role in the controlling and creation of winds and storms. Interestingly, Pazuzu also wards off evil spirits (despite being one himself), and is sometimes seen as a protector spirit for humans against plagues and general misfortune.
The infamous Mesopotamian demon Pazuzu. Photo taken from http://www.louvre.fr
But how on earth would the memory of Pazuzu end up on the slopes of the Pyrenees in upper Aragon? It has been suggested by de Marliave that, similar to the apparent appearance of Eastern saints within the Pyrenees during the arrival of Christianity in the region, so too may have some more malevolent superstitions from the deserts also have crept in with this imported religio-cultural wave. More research is needed on this to provide evidence of a pattern for these apparent Eastern saint cults and the dates (and locations) of their being established within the Pyrenees. However, if true, then this is a further illustration that the concept of the Pyrenees being culturally isolated is a myth, further bolstered by the presence of the Cathars, whose own philosophy wound many threads of Eastern and Western thought together into a particular dualist gnostic thread.
This brief article closes with two examples of curés attempting to use Pajuzu to ‘get back’ at rival villages. The curé of Saravillo (Sobrabe) pleaded with God from his exconjuradora that Pajuzu would cast down a hailstorm upon the nearby village of Plan, and the mayor of Abiego begged for precisely the same action to be performed against his rival, in the village of Bierge, just a (hail)stone’s throw away! Pajuzu was evidently kept busy by those who needed a touch of meteorological revenge.