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  • Sometimes such defixiones were not used for cursing, but in order to get the love of your life to take an interest in you:

    In the Valley of the Shadow


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  • A curse tablet or binding spell from the Latin tabulae defixiones meaning cursed tablet. Defixiones (singular: defixio) could be found throughout the ancient Grecco-Roman empire and were made from a variety of materials the most common being lead but also papyrus, ceramic, stone, animal hide, and in rare cases silver and gold. They were used to invoke the power of gods, house/nature spirits, and even the dead to preform a variety of spells.

    There were many different uses for these tables beyond simple "bad luck" curses Spells used repeatedly often had their own distinguishing term. Some common ones include:
    -- Katadesmos: bind up, retain; inhibit by means of a spell, binding by magic knots; spells, enchantments.
    -- Phármakon: drug, medicine, remedy, poison; potion, charm, spell.
    -- Venenum: poison, drug, medical potion, charm, seduction; probably originally, "love potion".
    -- Devotio: apotheosis, consecration; fealty, allegiance, deference, piety, devotion, zeal; curse, imprecation, execration; sorcery, enchantment. magical formula, incantation, spell.
    -- Carmina: song, poem, prayer, prophecy, incantation, charm, ritual, magic.

    A defixio would be prepared by carving/writing onto the material - anything from a full verse, to a short prayer, to simply the subject/object's name - and binding/ting the sheets around small personal items such as stolen clothes, hair, or objects thought to aid in magic. Typically a nail would be hammered through the tablet to finish the spell, at which point it would be left somewhere safe and secret including burying them in the graves of the dead so that no one else could stumble upon it and break the curse.

    July 13, 2015