Tuesday, September 11, 2018


A Contemporary Example of Epipompē

Televangelist Pat Robertson, quoted in Ed Mazza, "Pat Robertson Casts 'Shield of Protection' Ahead of Hurricane Florence," Huffington Post (September 11, 2018):
In the name of Jesus, you Hurricane Florence, we speak to you in the name of Jesus, and we command the storm to cease its forward motion and go harmlessly into the Atlantic. Go up north away from land and veer off in the name of Jesus. We declare in the name of the lord that you shall go no farther, you shall do no damage in this area.
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. A classic example of epipompē can be found in the Gospels (Matthew 8.30-32, Mark 5.11-13, Luke 8.32-33), when Jesus, in performing an exorcism, drove demons into a herd of pigs. All other exorcisms in the Gospels are examples of apopompē.

By telling Hurricane Florence to go away to some other specific location ("into the Atlantic ... up north away from land"), Robertson is using the technique of epipompē.

For a similar example of epipompē involving bad weather, see Francisco Javier Fernández Nieto, "A Visigothic Charm from Asturias and the Classical Tradition of Phylacteries against Hail," in Richard L. Gordon and ‎Francisco Marco Simón, edd., Magical Practice in the Latin West: Papers from the International Conference held at the University of Zaragoza, 30 Sept.-1 Oct. 2005 (Leiden: Brill, 2010), pp. 551-600 (at 568-569, translating a Byzantine exorcism of hail of unknown provenance, with footnote):
Exorcism of hail: a black cloud rose up from Bethlehem full of hail with thunder and lightning, and it was met by an archangel of the host of God, who said: where are you going, black cloud full of hail with thunder and lightning? It answered: I am going to the fields in (such-and-such a place) which are planted with vines to dry up the orchards, ruin the trees and their buds, and spoil the fruits and cause all types of damage. The archangel of the host of God said: I entreat you through God invisible, the creator of the heaven, earth and sea and everything that therein is. I entreat you before the four pillars that hold the unmovable throne of God and before the river of fire, do not try to go to the pieces of land in (such-and-such a place), and instead go to the wild mountains where no cock crows, no semantron45 sounds or is heard for the glory of the great God in heaven. Amen.

45 In Byzantine texts, the term σημαντήριον (σήμαντρον) denotes the semantron, the bar-gong used in Orthodox churches, cf. Longo 1989, 69.
An image of the Greek (id., p. 568):

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