Religion Wiki

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.[1]

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" (קיין עין הרע) 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.

See also

  • Apotropaic magic
  • Painted pebbles
  • Rosary


  1. Walter Leo Hildburgh (1946), Apotropaism in Greek vase-paintings‎