The picture to the right is of an 18th Century ivory carving from Southern France titled “The Tooth Worm as Hell’s Demon.” The artist created two (10.5 cm height) molar teeth out of ivory showing the infernal torments of a toothache as a battle with the “tooth worm”.
What many people do not understand today, is that before the advent of the current medical establishment, many ancient cultures had believed that worms were the cause of various illnesses and diseases such as tooth decay known as cavities today.
For example, the Chinese believed there were worms in the teeth that caused tooth decay and pain. They had several remedies that they employed successfully to kill these worms.
The ancient Babylonians had also believed that worms in the form of demons had caused diseases in people. They would actually distinguish one demon from another just as the modern medical establishment distinguishes one disease from another. Ashakku was the demon of a wasting disease, and Akhkhazu, the ‘seizer,’ was the demon of liver troubles who brings fever and plagues and is a member of a trio of female demons.
It is well know today that many animals such as sheep, cattle and horses suffer from various types of worms that infest the liver known as liver flukes. It only makes perfect sense that we humans can suffer from the same type of worm infestations.
The legend of the tooth worm is said to have come out of Mesopotamia around 1800 B.C. Here is an actual ancient Babylonian text dated to approximately this period that relates a demon with a toothache being caused by a worm;
‘After Anu had created the heavens
The heavens created the earth.
The earth created the rivers.
The rivers created the canals,
The canals created the marsh,
The marsh created the worm.
Then came the worm weeping before the smash;
Before Ea came her tears:
“What wilt thou give me for my food?
What wilt thou give me as mine to destroy?”
“I will give thee the ripe figs and soft pomegranates.”
“Me! What are these ripe figs to me And soft pomegranates?
lift me up. between the teeth and the Jaw-bone set me,
That I may destroy the blood of the teeth,
And ruin their strength,
Grasp the prong and seize the roof’
In order to expel these demon worms, the Babylonians had a cure that involved the words below in this incantation text;
Out! Out I Far away! Far away
Shame! Shame 1 Perish! Perish!
Turn thy body! Out! Far away
From my body go out!
From my body far away!
From my body, for shame
From my body perish
From my body turn
From ray body thy body!
Into my body do not return
To my body do not approach
In my body do not dwell!
On my body do not press!
By Shamash, the mighty, be exorcised I
By Ea, lord of all, be exorcised!
By Marduk, chief exerciser of the gods, be exorcised!
By the Are-god, who burns you, be exorcised!
From my body be ye separated!’
Another interesting note is the biblical connections to Babylon, demons and worms in the Apocalypse. A place of hell, fire and gnashing teeth. The bible coincides with the ancient text above perfectly, and we must ask ourselves today, “Is there any truth in The Tooth Worm as Hell’s Demon?”
Below are the biblical texts of the Apocalypse in relation to Babylon, hell, demons and worms.
Babylon is become a habitation of demons. They cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning. Her smoke goeth up unto the ages of the ages (Apoc. xviii. 2, 18; xix. 3).
He opened the pit of the abyss, and there went up a smoke out of the pit as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun was darkened, and the air, by the smoke of the pit (Apoc. ix. 2).
Out of the mouth of the horses went forth fire and smoke and brimstone ; by these was the third part of men killed, by the fire and by the smoke and by the brimstone (Apoc. ix. 17, 18).
If any one adores the beast he shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God mixed with unmixed wine in the cup of His anger, and shall be tormented with fire and brimstone (Apoc. xvi. 9, 10).
The fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun; and it was given unto it to scorch men with fire; therefore men were scorched with great heat (Apoc. xvi. 8, 9).
They were cast into a lake burning with fire and brimstone (Apoc. xix. 20; xx. 14, 15; xxi. 8).
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire (Matt. iii. 10; Luke iii. 9).
The Son of man shall send His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that cause stumbling and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire (Matt. xiii. 41, 42, 50).
The King shall say to them that are on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. xxv. 41).
They shall be sent into everlasting fire, into the hell of fire, where their worm shall not die, and the fire shall not be quenched (Matt, xviii. 8, 9; Mark ix. 43-49).
Moe is the founder of GnosticWarrior.com. A website dedicated to both the ancient and modern teachings of Gnosticism.