‘Soul of Ancient Sumerian Woman’ for Sale on eBay
Welcome to the Bizarre on a Budget Series!
Bizarre on a Budget will be a new series, featuring just what the title implies: A way for you to own, participate in, or otherwise experience a bit of the bizarre, without having to shell out $35,000 or more for your next haunted dream-home. Think of it as a virtual carnival sideshow, but with a really epic souvenir booth at the end of the attraction.
Call me Father. I’ll be your guide this week, and for hopefully many weeks to come. I have a bit of experience with the bizarre myself, from writing bizarre science fiction, to owning an eBay consignment shop where I have sold over 20,000 items; many of which might have qualified to feature in such a series, if one had existed at the time.
This week: ‘Soul of Ancient Sumerian Woman’ Offered for Sale on ‘eBay’
If you’ve ever browsed eBay’s “Weird Stuff” category, you know that for every odd gem there are a couple dozen “day in my life” racy selfie offers and a variety of adult toys that range in composition from gelatinous to hardened steel. After wading through those you may find homemade oddities like aliens or eyeballs in jars, factory sealed cans of unicorn meat or, the more classic ‘corny uncle’ favorite, fart machines.
We’ve done the digging so you don’t have to get your eyes dirty. You can own something truly unique, for just a bit more than a ‘few pence’. So, let’s get to it and bring you the bizarre, on a budget (or at least let you in on the backstory of one of the truly odd, unique items available on eBay this week).
Newly listed, is what the seller claims to be an authentic 17th century soul stone.
The asking price is $500 (or best offer). Now, you might inquire, “How is $500 for a rock, ‘on a budget’?” Well, when you consider the alternative, a “Real Gnome Boot” that only dates back to a 1981 market find in Velsequillo, Mexico which is offered at $8,000, the soul stone really starts to look like a better value. After all, wouldn’t you ask for more than $500 for your immortal soul?
If you’re a gamer, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “Soul Stone” might be the Warlock buff of the same name from the popular game World of Warcraft. Similarly, there is the magical artifact from Blizzard’s other game Diablo, soul gems from Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series, or any number of magical references in popular fantasy gaming.
Still, could a ‘soul’ be transferred to an object like a rock?
Certainly, there are objects in the paranormal world that people claim can be possessed by demonic spirits or spirits of the departed. Haunted dolls and mirrors are among the most common claims of objects that might be able to capture a soul. According to many old traditions and self-proclaimed modern paranormal experts, mirrors were covered up at the time of death of a family member to avoid that family member’s soul becoming lost inside. Some internet rumors even claim that the reason an antique dolls’ eyes close when you lie them down isn’t to simulate sleeping, but rather to keep spirits from possessing these objects at night.
What you get for your money:
The eBay listing claims that, “Back in the early A.D.’s the Sumerians utilized inanimate objects, typically stones, as means of storage for the soul of an individual that did not have a physical body. Often, in cases, a still living being could transfer their soul into the receptacle as a method of cheating death due to the soul not using the physical body as a vessel and thus persisted after the vital systems ceased to function.”
Of course, both cultures of antiquity and today place gemstones in high regard, claiming that many of them contain mystical properties. We know that crystals can be used to tune certain frequencies of radio waves.
Still, was there really an ancient practice that sought to “cheat death” by transferring the soul into something more permanent than the human body like a gemstone? Frankly, it seems like a rather uninteresting place to inhabit.
We interviewed the seller doktor_jvan, an eBay member since 2011 with 100% percent positive feedback, about the history of the stone. He said it was “acquired from somebody [he] used to work with, who dealt heavily in the occult.” He went on to tell me that according to man he acquired it from, the stone was “recovered from an old Sumerian Ritual Site in Eastern Libya.”
The story is like so many involving the paranormal; that is, involving a chain of custody with a frustratingly anonymous origin story or a claim that relies on someone’s “expertise,” occult or otherwise.
Should the claim be dismissed due to its vagueness? Is there any evidence that Sumerians even partook in such practices?
Did Ancient Mesopotamian cultures really trap the souls of others into stones?
While the author couldn’t track down any articles directly discussing the use of inanimate objects as containers of souls in ancient Mesopotamian cultures, according to M. Choksi, an academic at Harvard, the Sumerian beliefs about souls and religion in general are harder to piece together than those of modern religions. What we know about the culture is mostly derived through a few surviving pieces of literature, but Sumerians and other ancient Mesopotamians certainly did seem to have myths surrounding the perpetuation of their spirits beyond mortal life (Choksi 2014).
The listing however, claims that the stone contains the soul of a woman from 1677 A.D. How that ties to the practices of one of earth’s earliest known civilizations that died out a great time before that date is unclear.
When pressed about the identity of the soul, the seller of the item stated “My co-worker was able to establish that the group involved in the ritual was a cult that closely followed demonology, sacrifice, and what could now be considered modern day Satanism. An etching in pillar-like limestone, giving a specific woman’s name, depicted the transfer from human body to stone, stone to demon, and then back to stone. The pillar was used as a resting place for the soul stone [where he found it]. As this phenomenon of soul transferring was not particularly a common occurrence, it is suspected she was held in some regard of significance by the cult.”
Should you dip into your rainy day fund for the chance to purchase the soul of this mysterious woman?
Probably not, but the author has seen people spend half a grand on weirder stuff.
Depending on who you are, perhaps tying the claim to a demonic ritual will make the story of the origins of this stone more or less believable, but, as always with purchases that make paranormal claims – you are buying the story and the experience – not a guarantee that you’ll have an extra soul laying around on your knick-knack shelf. When provenance is lacking, “caveat emptor” (buyer beware).
Not convinced that $500 is a great price? Remember, the seller is open to offers. You could always start the bidding at just $5.00 on an item that is perhaps just as likely a ‘result of a demonic ritual’: a pregnant green M&M.