Tuesday, September 13, 2011

201: Binding

Definition: The ancient Greeks and Romans used two basic types of binding magic to do something to someone else. Generally, this someone had wronged them or it was someone whose love they wished to keep. A famous instance of binding magic gone horribly wrong is when Deianeira gave Hercules the tunic soaked in poisoned centaur blood thinking it would keep her husband faithful to her.
One type of binding magic is the binding spell or curse, written, rolled or folded, and sometimes pierced, and the other is the figurine, erotic or otherwise, that may also be pierced or twisted or bound.

Binding spells can be written on such substrate as potsherds, limestone, gems, papyrus, wax, or ceramic as well as the preferred lead. There may be a connection between binding magic and ostracism.

The names of the victims are written in the subject (nominative) or object case (accusative) probably to show the person is being acted upon by the binding. There may be a verb of binding, like katadein, in the 1st person, so the curse tablet reads, "[So and so] I bind, her [body part/s]...."

Also Known As: The Greek term for the binding curse is katadesmos or in the plural,katedosmoi. The Latin term for the spell written on a tablet is defixio or in the plural,defixiones.
The most commonly invoked gods for binding magic were gods and goddesses with an Underworld connection, Hecate, Persephone, and Hermes, although the other gods and goddesses could bind and even Zeus could be bound metaphorically or literally.

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