Apotropaism  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
apotropaic magic

Apotropaism is the use of magic or ritual to ward off evil or bad luck. Apotropaic devices include amulets and talismans and potent symbols.

The root is of Greek origin αποτρέπω, meaning "turning away". The apotropaic eye was an exaggerated eye painted on drinking vessels in the 6th century BC to ward away spirits or the evil eye while drinking.

In Roman Art apotropaic imagery was a common theme. Envy was thought to bring bad luck to the person envied. To avoid envy Romans sought to incite laughter in their guests by using apotropaic images. Images such as large phalluses, deformed or non-roman subjects such as pygmies, black africans and hunchbacks were common. Romans saw deformity as funny and such they were used to keep away the evil eye.

In vampire fiction and folklore, symbols such as crucifixes, the Holy Sacraments, wild roses and garlic can ward away or destroy vampires while silver bullets may be used to kill a werewolf. The Yiddish expression, "Kain ein horeh" is apotropaic in nature, and literally translates to "no evil eye," somewhat equivalent to the expression, "Knock on wood."

Apotropaism is related to the Chthonic gods in Greek mythology, representing the mentality of turning away from these gods. The Uranian/Olympic gods were invited into people's lives. The Cthonic gods were still worshipped, but they were appeased from a distance, rather than being directly invited into a life.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Apotropaism" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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