Obizuth or Abyzou (Akkadian: 𒁹 𒄷 𒈫 𒁇 Dap.bi.zu) is the name of a female demon. Obizuth was blamed for miscarriages and infant mortality and was said to be motivated by envy, as she herself was infertile. In the Coptic Egypt she is identified with Alabasandria, and in Byzantine culture with Gylou, but in various texts surviving from the syncretic magical practice of antiquity and the early medieval era she is said to have many or virtually innumerable names.
Obizuth is pictured on amulets with fish- or serpent-like attributes. Her fullest literary depiction is the compendium of demonology known as the Testament of Solomon, dated variously by scholars from as early as the 1st century AD to as late as the 4th.
A.A. Barb connected Obizuth and similar female demons to the story of the primeval sea, Abzu, in ancient Mesopotamian religion. Barb argued that although the name "Abyzou" appears to be a corrupted form of the Greek ἄβυσσος ábyssos "abyss," the Greek itself was borrowed from Akkadian Apsu or Sumerian Abzu.
The primeval sea was originally an androgyne or asexual, later dividing into the male Abzu (fresh water) and the female Tiamat (seawater, appearing as the Tehom in the Book of Genesis). The female demons, among whom Lilith is the best-known, are often said to have come from the primeval sea. In ancient Greek religion, female sea monsters that combine allure and deadliness may also derive from this tradition, including the Gorgons (who were daughters of the old sea god Phorcys), sirens, harpies, and even water nymphs and Nereids.
In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, the word Abyssos is treated as a noun of feminine grammatical gender, even though Greek nouns ending in -os are typically masculine. Abyssos is equivalent in meaning to Abzu as the dark chaotic sea before Creation. The word also appears in the Christian New Testament, occurring six times in the Book of Revelation, where it is conventionally translated not as "the deep" but as "the bottomless pit" of Hell. Barb argues that in essence the Sumerian Abzu is the "grandmother" of the Devil as conceived in Christianity.
The Testament of Solomon
In the grimoire from late antiquity, the Testament of Solomon, Obizuth is described as having a "greenish gleaming face with dishevelled serpent-like hair"; the rest of her body is covered by darkness. King Solomon encounters a series of demons, binds and tortures each in turn, and inquires into their activities; then he metes out punishment or controls them as he sees fit. Put to the test, Obizuth says that she does not sleep, but rather wanders the world looking for women about to give birth; given the opportunity, she will strangle newborns. She claims also to be the source of many other afflictions, including deafness, eye trouble, obstructions of the throat, madness, and bodily pain. Solomon orders that she be chained by her own hair and hung up in front of the Temple in public view.
In the Testament of Solomon, the demon herself declares that she has ten-thousands of names and forms, and that [[Archangel Raphael] is her antithesis. She says that if her name is written on a scrap of papyrus when a woman is about to give birth, "I shall flee from them to the other world."
Identity as a decan
In his 2022 book, Cult of the Stars, occultist Travis McHenry speculates that Obizuth, as described in the Testament of Solomon, may be one of the 36 Egyptian decans. Obizuth is said to be “a spirit in woman's form that had a head without any limbs, and her hair was disheveled.” The word "disheveled" was one commonly used by the Egyptians to describe the decanal deities, and their hair was said to be disheveled. The decan Akhuy is depicted as an armless female on the zodiac ceiling in the temple of Esna.
Alternately, this could be describing decan #30, Khau. This decan is depicted on the Dendera B zodiac as a kneeling woman with her hands beside her. When viewed from the ground, it may have appeared as though she had no limbs. The image of Khau shows her long hair with three moving snakes on top of her head, making it look wild and disheveled. In this form, Khau is embodying the goddess Wadjet, who, as the protector of young Horus, was revered as the protector of women in childbirth. In the Testament of Solomon, the demon Obizuth is said to have a glance that was “altogether bright and greeny, and her hair was tossed wildly like a dragon's.” The goddess Wadjet's name, in Egyptian, means “the Green One.” Making this decan a highly probable match for this demon as well.
On medical amulets
Obizuth is depicted and named on several early Byzantine bronze amulets. With her hands tied behind her back, she kneels as she is whipped by a standing figure, identified as Solomon or Arlaph, called Afarof in the Testament of Solomon and identified with the Archangel Raphael. On one amulet, the figure is labeled as Arlaph, but an inscription reads "The Seal of Solomon [is] with the bearer; I am Noskam." The reverse inscription is written within an ouroboros, the symbol of a snake biting its tail to form a circle: "Flee, flee, Abyzou, [from] Sisinios and Sisinnia; the voracious dog dwells here." (Saint Sisinnios sometimes takes the Solomon role on Christian amulets.) Although Abyzou is regarded mainly as a threat to childbearing women and to infants, some of the names of those seeking protection from her on extant amulets are masculine.
Medieval amulets show a variation on this iconography, with Abyzou trampled underfoot by a horseman. The rider is identified again either as Solomon or Arlaph; one example depicts the rider as Sisinnios, with the demon named as both Abizou and Anabardalea, and an angel named Araph (for Arlaph) standing by with one raised wing. The medieval lead amulets that show the rider subduing the female often have a main image that resembles a gorgoneion and is likely a womb symbol (hystera).