Ancient Protection Magick
As any experienced witch will tell you, protection magick is essential to one’s spiritual, mental, and sometimes physical health. Protection magick is one of the oldest forms of magick, and we see it in the modern day across cultures and religions. For instance, you’ll see non-witchy folks wearing or carrying an Evil Eye, a cornetto red horn amulet, and even lucky pennies. These protection items are an outgrowth of the ancient protection magick of our ancestors. Let’s dive into some of those practices!
Apotropaic Magick – Amulets and Depictions
Apotropaic is a fancy word for the belief that specific texts, images, or practices protected the user from harm, like a shield. In ancient times, phallic-shaped amulets were said to ward off evil and misfortune. Male sexual symbols were associated with violence and power, making these amulets a powerful protection item.
Another form of apotropaic magick in the ancient world was the depiction of demons, monsters, and gods. Ancient civilizations believed that depictions and images would bring these demons, monsters, or gods under the control of the person who possessed them. The images would also protect the owner from natural threats.
In Mesopotamia, images and statutes of the demons Pazuzu and Humbaba fought off other demons, like Lamashtu, a demon who went after pregnant women and children.
In Ancient Greece, the Gorgon’s head adorned armor and entryways to ensure luck and protection. In many statutes of Athena, you’ll see the head of Medusa on her shield.
In Egypt, depictions of the goddess Sekhmet protected against disease. The goddess Taweret watched over children and mothers. Sekhmet is often portrayed as part lion, while Taweret is part hippopotamus.
Another form of ancient protection magick comes in the form of an incantation bowl or “demon bowl.” Demon bowls were decorated with a spiraling incantation or spell. There’s also often an illustration of a chained demon inside the bowl.
These bowls would be buried upside down around the edges of a property, thereby creating a protective boundary around the land and home.
Other demon bowls were used throughout the Middle East to trap evil spirits and prevent them from entering homes.
Did you know your Brigid’s Cross can do double duty during Imbolc? The Brigid’s Cross is a token of the goddess and the sabbat and was also hung over doorways to prevent the home from fire, evil spirits, illnesses, and even lightning.
In Southern Ireland, people would weave sticks and straw together to create a cross at Samhain, called a “parshall,” which they then hung over doorways to ward off illness and bad luck.
In the U.S., especially in the South and Southwest, horseshoes are often hung over doorways or next to the front door as good luck amulets.
In Ancient Greece and Rome, people used binding spells to sway the outcomes of business deals, sporting events, or personal affairs. Historians have found that these spells had formulas and named the parties involved in the spells – people and gods alike – and connected them intentionally to actions and results. While some of these binding spells had less to do with protection, it’s believed some of them were used to protect people.
Do you use any of these protection amulets or practices?