03 May 2017

For all of you who plan to be in Cracow, Poland next weekend (May 5th-7th): feel invited to attend the 2nd Demonological Conference "Deliver Us from Evil... Apotropaic Customs and Objects in the Civilisations of the World". The schedule together with abstracts and detailed practical information is available on the conference web site. My presentation on the types of the apotropaic techniques deployed in the Babylonian Talmud will take place on Sunday at 15:10. The study bases on the version 002 which is almost done and needs just some polishing before being uploaded in June. I attach the abstract below.

“Arrow in the Eye of Satan” (bSukkah 38a). Apotropaic Customs and Paraphernalia in the Elyonim veTachtonim Electronic Inventory of Angels, Demons and Ghosts in the Early Rabbinic Literature

The world presented in the Early Rabbinic Literature [ERL] is the world inhabited by numerous supernatural creatures which live side by side with humans. These entities range from the angels performing their divine missions through the demons prowling the dark places up till ghosts and spirits dwelling in various foods and as such capable of inducing painful diseases. Obviously then, in order to survive in such world one had to possess the professional knowledge of special apotropaic customs and paraphernalia. The Babylonian Talmud [BT] contains over one hundred such passages speaking about the means of repelling, appeasing or taming the supernatural creatures. All these instances in turn, can be classified according to the particular type of the apotropaic technique applied in the given situation: in some cases these are the citations from the Hebrew Bible which chase away evil spirits while in other one has to resort to some non-biblical spells and barely legal magic. The main purpose of this presentation is to reflect on both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of this classification and to see whether there are any correlations between the specific techniques and the entities being the subject of the apotropaic actions.