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It has been suggested that Apotrope be merged into this article or section. (Discuss) The ancient blue and white Nazar boncuğu symbol, a stylised eye thought to avert evil, appears on this contemporary airplane Apotropaic magic is a ritual observance that is intended to turn away evil. It can be simple prayers and offerings or more elaborate magical ceremonies and spells. The vaguely superstitious might keep a good luck charm, (perhaps some token on a charm bracelet), or cross their fingers or knock on wood. "Apotropaic" is an adjective that means warding against evil, or deflecting misfortune, and commonly refers to objects such as amulets or other symbols. The word is of Greek origin: apotrope literally means turning away or averting, as in averting the evil eye. The Greeks made offerings to the Averting Gods, (Ἀποτρόπαιοι θεοί: Apotropaioi Theoi), chthonic deities and heros who grant safety and deflect evil.[1] Contents 1 Apotropaic symbols 2 Good luck tokens and charms 3 See also 4 References 5 External links Apotropaic symbols The Gorgon, flanked by lionesses and showing her belt clasp of serpents, as depicted at the pediment of the seventh century B.C. temple on display at the Archaeological Museum of Corfu Among the Ancient Greeks the most widely-used image intended to avert evil was that of the Gorgon, the head of which now may be called the Gorgoneion, which features wild eyes, fangs, and protruding tongue. The full figure of the Gorgon holds the apex of the oldest remaining Greek temple where she is flanked by two lionesses. The Gorgon head was mounted on the aegis and shield of Athena.[2] Eyes were often painted to ward off the evil eye. An exaggerated apotropaic eye was painted on Greek drinking vessels in the 6th century BC to ward off evil spirits while drinking. Fishing boats in some parts of the Mediterranean region still have stylised eyes painted on the bows. A Turkish budget airline has adopted the symbol (known as Nazar boncuğu or Nazar bonjuk) as a motif for the tailfin of its aeroplanes. A 12th century Sheela na Gig on the church at Kilpeck, Herefordshire The doorways and windows of buildings were felt to be particularly vulnerable to evil. On churches and castles, gargoyles or other grotesque faces and figures such as Sheela na Gigs and Hunky Punks would be carved to frighten away witches and other malign influences. Those other openings, fireplaces or chimneys, may also have been carved. Rather than figural carvings, these seem to have been simple geometric or letter carvings. Where a wooden post was used to support a chimney opening, this was often an easier subject for amateur carving. To further discourage witchcraft, rowan wood may have been chosen for it.[3] Similarly the grotesque faces carved into pumpkin lanterns (and their earlier counterparts, made from turnips, swedes or beets) at Halloween are meant to avert evil: this season was Samhain, the Celtic new year and, as a "time between times", it was believed that souls of the dead and other dangerous spirits walked the earth at this time. (See also: Celtic calendar) Mirrors and other shiny objects were believed to deflect the evil eye. Traditional English "Plough Jags" (performers of a regional variant of the mummers play) sometimes decorated their costumes (particularly their hats) with shiny items, even to the extent of borrowing silver plate for the purpose. "Witch balls" are shiny blown glass ornaments, like Christmas baubles, that were hung in windows. Symbols such as crucifixes, silver bullets, wild roses and garlic were believed to ward off or destroy vampires. In Ireland and Great Britain, magpies are thought to bring bad luck and many people repeat various rhymes or salutations to placate them.[4] In ancient Greece, phalli were believed to have apotropaic qualities. Often stone reliefs would be placed above doorways, but there were also many three-dimensional renditions erected across the Greek world. Most notable of these were the urban monuments found on the island of Delos. Grotesque, satyr-like beaded faces, sometimes with the pointed cap of the workman, appeared often over the doors of ovens and kilns, to protect the work from fire and mishap.[5] A similar use of phallic representations to ward off the evil eye remains popular in modern Bhutan and is associated with the 500 year old Buddhist tradition of Drupka Kinley, and is paralleled by other south Asian uses of the lingam symbol.[6] Good luck tokens and charms Amulets for specific purposes on sale at a Shinto shrine in Japan It is difficult to differentiate between items supposed to avert evil and items intended to attract good fortune. Cast-off horseshoes are often nailed up over, or close by, doorways, normally with the ends pointing upwards, its said to collect good luck, or to stop the luck from falling out (see Oakham's horseshoes). Model horseshoes (of card or plastic) are given as good-luck tokens, particularly at weddings, and small paper horseshoes feature in confetti. White heather is often sold by Irish travelling people and Roma to bring good luck. (Frequently this turns out to be not heather but white sea-lavender, a species of Limonium.) In Ireland, St Brigid's crosses woven from rush were kept indoors (in houses and animal houses) to keep away illness for the year. See also Exorcism Peijainen References Frazer, Sir James, The Golden Bough, Graves, Robert, The White Goddess, Jane Ellen Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion Roud, Steve (2004). A Pocket Guide to Superstitions of the British Isles. London: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-051549-6. ^ Gilleland, Michael; tr. Jones, W.H.S. (26 June 2008). "Averters of Evil". http://www.mgilleland.com/averters.htm. Retrieved 3 July 2010. "Hippocrates, Regimen 4.89: So with this knowledge about the heavenly bodies, precautions must be taken, with change of regimen and prayers to the gods; in the case of good signs, to the Sun, to Heavenly Zeus, to Zeus, Protector of Home, to Athena, Protectress of Home, to Hermes and to Apollo; in the case of adverse signs, to the Averters of evil [apotropaioi], to Earth and to the Heroes, that all dangers may be averted. Pausanias 2.11.1 (Corinth): Before the altar a barrow has been raised for Epopeus himself, and near the grave are the gods Averters of evil [apotropaioi]. Near them the Greeks perform such rites as they are wont to do in order to avert misfortunes. (πρὸ τοῦ βωμοῦ δὲ αὐτῷ μνῆμα Ἐπωπεῖ κέχωσται, καὶ τοῦ τάφου πλησίον εἰσὶν Ἀποτρόπαιοι θεοί: παρὰ τούτοις δρῶσιν ὅσα Ἕλληνες ἐς ἀποτροπὴν κακῶν νομίζουσιν.)"  ^ Harrison, pp 196ff. ^ Ayres, James (2003). Domestic interiors: the British tradition, 1500 - 1850. Yale University Press. p. 24. ISBN 0-300-08445-5.  ^ The children's TV series Magpie preserved these rhymes as its theme tune, into the 1970s ^ Harrison, pp 187ff "The Ker as Gorgon". ^ "Bhutan's phalluses ward off evil". BBC News. 2005-03-25. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4381893.stm. Retrieved 2010-01-01.  External links The Golden Bough: on-line text, 1922 abridged edition [1] Pictures of a revival team of Plough Jags The Lucky W Amulet Archive An exceptionally detailed archive of information about amulets and tokens