Saturday, March 07, 2015


Epipompē in a Spell against Headache

A spell from a 16th century Greek manuscript in the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice (cod. Marc. gr. app. II 163), tr. Roy Kotansky in Greek Magical Amulets. The Inscribed Gold, Silver, Copper, and Bronze Lamellae, Part I: Published Texts of Known Provenance (Opladen: Westdeutscher, 1994 = Abhandlungen der Nordrhein-Westfälischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Sonderreihe Papyrologica Coloniensia, 22:1), p. 61 (italics removed):
Migraine-prayer against the headache:
Migraine came out from the sea rioting and roaring,
and our Lord Jesus Christ came to meet it and said to it:
"Where are you going, O headache and migraine and pain in the skull and in the eyes and inflammation and tears and leukoma and dizziness?"
And the Headache answered our Lord Jesus Christ:
"We are going to sit down in the head of the servant of God, So-and-So."
And our Lord Jesus Christ said to it:
"Look here, do not go into my servant, but be off altogether and go into the mountains and settle in a bull's head. There you may eat flesh, there drink blood, there ruin the eyes, there darken the head, seethe and wriggle. But if you do not obey me, I shall destroy you there on the burning mountain where no dog barks and cock does not crow."
You who have set a limit to the sea stop headache and migraine and the pain in the skull and between the eyes and on the lids and from the marrow from the servant of the Lord, So-and-So.
Richard Wünsch (1869-1915) first used the terms apopompē (ἀποπομπή) and epipompē (ἐπιπομπή) to describe two different ways of banishing evil. See his "Zur Geisterbannung im Altertum," Festschrift zur Jahrhundertfeier der Universität zu Breslau = Mitteilungen der Schlesischen Gesellschaft für Volkskunde 13/14 (1911) 9-32. Wünsch used apopompē to mean simply driving away evil, epipompē to mean driving away evil onto someone or something else or to some other specific location.

In this spell we see an example of epipompē, where Jesus advises the headache to go away into a bull's head.

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