ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Basamum: the Healing God and the Plant

Updated on September 20, 2019
Dean Traylor profile image

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects including education and creative writing.


Basamum is a mystery to modern scholars. There’s virtually no relics bearing his image or any temple ruins dedicated to him. Also, very little has been recorded about this ancient god of pre-Islamic Arabia. Simply put, he is a god lost to time.

The push toward Islam in the region eradicated (or intertwined) the belief system Basamum came from. All that’s left are a few scant and incomplete tales, and a belief that he had something to do with a special plant

Basamum and the Healing Bush

The balsam bush thrives in one of the harshest environment on Earth. But the nomadic Bedouin tribes of this land were well aware of its ability to heal. Many took advantage of this plant and put them to good use. So revered it was, that many believed the balsam bush was a gift from the gods. Thus, it’s no surprise that ancestors of these tribes believed the god Basamum was behind it.

Basamum came from a bygone era on the arid peninsula. He was the god of healing. His greatest accomplishment was not only healing people but healing animals as well, in particular, livestock and beasts of burdens. For a people who made their living by herding livestock, and relied heavily on horses and camels, this god’s ability to heal all living things was looked upon with reverence.


Miracle through Balsam Bush

His healing powers came in the form of the balsam bush that grew in the area. Balsam often refers to a term used for various scented plant products. Its name has been used for a wide variety of trees and shrubs from the around the world. Most of these plants have been used for medicinal purposes. In most cases, they contain oily or gummy oleoresin. Oleoresin is a mixture of resin and essential oils that form in the plants naturally (Lately, it has been produced synthetically).

This mixture often contains benzoic acid or cinnamic acid. These acids are often found in food products as preservatives. Also, they are found in drugs used to combat germs or infections.

The ancient people of Arabia obviously didn’t know what these plants contained. All they knew was that it had therapeutic qualities that can only come from a god.

Eventually, the birth and the rapid expansion of Islam in the region would eventually wipe out almost any reference to the ancient gods including Basamum

Curing Wild Goats

Basamum belonged to the pre-Islamic mythology of the region. His name also appears among the Semitic people’s mythology. Not much of Basamum has survived the test of time. In fact, one story seems to be all that left of this god. The story centered on his ability to cure two wild goats.

It's not clear how Basamum cured the goats. One only speculate that he gave them the balsam bush the snack on.

So What Happened to Basamum’s Universe?

Much of this ancient belief - that Basamum once belonged to - has vanished. However, some of it did survive in the form of the stories told in “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights.” Stories about genies, ghouls, magic lamps, flying carpets, and three wishes were once a part of this polytheistic religion.

Also, around the year 622 A.D., the Kaaba of Mecca (which currently holds the holiest artifact of Islam – the Black Stone) was once covered in symbols representing the myriad of demons, djinn (Genie), demigods and other assorted creatures which represented this ancient belief. Among those symbols was Basamum.

Eventually, the birth and the rapid expansion of Islam in the region would eventually wipe out almost any reference to the ancient gods including Basamum.

There’s not much information available on the ancient healing god. All that remains are the plants that bear his name. Yet, the plants flourish, as well as its reputation of healing the infirmed.

Some more digging eventually produced a little more information on this particular deity. However, it was still minuscule, at best. Even the story of the “Two Goats” was never fleshed out in the documents I found.

Extra: Ancient Gods are Hard to Find

Several years ago, I started writing about gods and deities from ancient cultures that most people may not have heard of. I was interested in myths and folktales from around the world and wanted to know how they influenced the cultural beliefs, customs, and (most importantly) story-telling during ancient and modern times.

This turned into a daunting – sometimes frustrating – task. As it stands, Internet information on Basamum can be found; however, at best much of it are one to two sentences in length. Even Wikipedia was not immune to this. The page had two sentences on it. The page also had a paragraph requesting readers to contribute any information about this elusive god.

Nearly every site I visited had the same blurb. At best it would state something similar to the following: “Basamum was a pre-Islamic god from Arabia that had the power to heal people and goats (some state livestock). His name may have come from the balsam plant that was known to have healing powers.”

Some more digging eventually produced a little more information on this particular deity. However, it was still minuscule, at best. Even the story of the “Two Goats” was never fleshed out in the documents I found.

This was not the only time I had problems finding information on a deity of ancient lore. Even from well-documented and records myths, some deities were elusive (in some cases, they may have had two or three lines mentioned about them in the original recorded text).

At best I can only surmise that the Golden Age of Islam played a major part in this God’s disappearance. Most of the world’s dominant religions have spread through various means such as war and conquest. In order to subdue the people within conquered lands the religious leaders, albeit Islam or Christianity, found ways to intermingle the people’s religion with theirs or vilified the former deities and spread the news of the “true” God (that being the conquerors).

Another reason is that Basamum was part of the Bedouin tribes’ oral tradition. The stories and myth surrounding these people’s beliefs were never written down and mostly lost to time.

Why it Matters?

Deities – especially the Gods from polytheistic social groups – were good ways to learn about social thinking and norms throughout the world. The gods may represent their hopes and fears, or how they formulate their knowledge of the world around them. The Bedouin nomads of the Southern Arabian Desert held Basamum in high esteem because he was believed to be a natural healer.



“Basamum (retrieved 2010)”: Wikipedia:

“Basamum (2010)”: Encyclopedia Mythica:

Michael, Sean Smith: “Gods, Goddess, and Mythology: Arabian Mythology”: (retrieved 2010): Wisdom of the Heart Church:

© 2016 Dean Traylor


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Felisa Daskeo profile image

      Felisa Daskeo 

      4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      This is an interesting read. It's always good to learn new things from other cultures around the world. This is my first time to read about this God. Thanks for sharing.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)