Ancient Greek Love Magic

Ancient Greek Love Magic Cover
All forms of unrequited love had magical solutions in ancient Greece. The lover could send Eros to do his bidding, curse the loved into her arms, or use aphrodisiacs.

In the ancient Greek world not all was fair in war, but it certainly was in love. Unrequited love and sexual desire are the main reasons for employing a witch in the literary sources and ancient Greek spell books and collections abound with magical cures for heartache, many of which involve supernatural coercing of the beloved. Some even aim, with malicious intent, to separate lovers.

The common method of controlling a prospective lover was through a binding spell. Such magic could incite hunger and desire for the curser and a great unhappiness that could only be quelled by being together. The most popular manner of cursing in all of Classical Antiquity was through cursing tablets, also known as defixiones. Over 1,600 such tablets have been found. Traditionally, the tablet was made of lead, the curse was inscribed in the lead, and then it was folded or rolled up and pierced shut with a nail and deposited, frequently in a cemetery.

Such a spell may take the shape of this 4th-3rd century BCE defixio, found in a Macedonian cemetery:

"Pausanias binds Sime, daughter of Amphitritus (may no one except Pausanias undo this spell) until she does for Pausanias everything Pausanias wants. May she not be able to lay hands on a sacrificial victim of Athena, nor may Aphrodite look kindly upon her, until Sime holds Pausanias tight."

Another popular form of binding a lover was through the use of clay or wax puppets, similar to the modern popular notion of Caribbean voodoo dolls. Numerous puppets have been found, as well as instructions for making them.

One papyrus from Hellenistic Egypt instructs the man who wishes to bind a woman to make one male and one female figure out of clay. The female figurine is to be placed on her knees and with her hands behind her back. The curser is then to arm the male doll with a sword, like Ares, with which he strikes the neck of the female doll, which is then to be inscribed with a great number of exotic magic words of power. Then, the real magic of binding begins:

"Take thirteen bronze needles and insert one of them into the brain while saying: 'I pierce your brain {name}'; insert two into her ears, two more into her eyes, one into her mouth, two below her rib cage, one into her hands, two into her vulva and anus, and two in the soles of her feet, while on each occasion saying once: 'I pierce the {body part} of {name}, so that she may think of no one except me alone, {name}.'"

The violence of the language seen here can be unsettling to the modern reader, but was quite ordinary in the realm of Greek cursing and used by men and women alike.

Deities could be petitioned to participate in the curse on a cursing tablet, but they could also be more directly involved through the use of special rituals or sacred names. The secret name of Aphrodite, one of which has been given as Nepherieri in an ancient Greek spell book, was thought to give its speaker a kind of direct access to the power of the goddess.

Several surviving spells concern the controlling of Eros. The magician was instructed to create a statue of Eros, usually from wax, which was to be imbued with the spirit of the god through a period of consecration or through the burning of offerings. The god-in-wax was then made to serve the magician who, it was instructed, was to send the god forth to create unbearable longing or sensual dreams in the beloved which would ultimately lead him or her to the magician.

As for the success rate, the sources remain quiet.

Source: Greek History

Recommended books (free to download):

Tommie Eriksson - Tree Cults In Northern Magic
Andrea Haugen - The Ancient Fires Of Midgard
Aleister Crowley - Intro Magick

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