I’m probably the furthest thing from a religious scholar you will find, but during my years in university I did come across a large number of texts that were either directly tied to the church, or at least were influenced by it. Now the term “gargoyle” refers to any sculpture (usually in the form of an animal or person) that is designed to allow water to fall away from the edges of a building to prevent erosion. Over the years people have just adopted the term to apply to any decorative sculpture on the roof of a building.
The reason I bring up the religious side of gargoyles is that centuries ago, when being illiterate was the norm, the church needed ways to convey their stories and rituals to the masses. What better way to educate an illiterate crowd than through images. It was here that the myth of the gargoyle began. As the story goes, St. Romanus encountered a monster in his travels, your typical dragon type creature that breathed fire. Well when Romanus defeated the creature, he brought its body back to be burned, but discovered that the head wouldn’t burn because the dragon breathed fire and the head was adapted to heat. So he hung the head on the outside of the church to ward off evil spirits. Over time the churches would add their own stone gargoyles to the outside of the building in order to let people know that outside the church evil lurks, but inside they will be protected.
Now of course when I was growing up gargoyles were just scary looking statues that eventually came to be “cool” in my young eyes. I suppose that was aided by the Disney cartoon. Of course I’m not the only person walking the planet that enjoys looking at gargoyles. Bromley_Daz submitted this image to BME the other day, and I think it’s safe to assume he enjoys gargoyles as well.
It’s always nice to see images added to the mythological and religious gallery, because often there is a good story behind the designs. This image in particular reminds me that every culture around the world has developed their own wards against evil. Be it symbols or rituals, these wards have become much more than just a repellent to evil. The gargoyle being a prime example of that. What first started as a way to protect buildings from erosion, a practice that pre-dates Christianity by centuries, eventually became a symbol of warning to people. As time passed, these statues became the guardians of the the buildings they were installed on, until eventually they were regarded primarily for their historical significance and their art.
Now while I don’t feel the need to possess any particular wards against evil, I do own a Rangda mask that hangs on my wall, that I really like the aesthetics of. How about you? Do you possess any symbols that can be attributed to warding off the evils of the world?