Jun 10, 2011

The Mundane and the Magical - Gargoyles

This handsome devil sits outside my home, keeping guard.  Most people don't notice him right away.  But when they do, they are often taken aback.  I usually get a comment about my "interesting ornament" or "odd garden statue."  I think he's rather charming.

The gargoyles created today may be relegated to common garden statuary, but the original gargoyles had much more elevated beginnings.

The word "gargoyle" is an offshoot of the word "gargle" (from the old French "gargouille" meaning throat.)  Considering gargoyles were orginally built as decorative water spouts at the top of tall buildings sending rainwater shooting out of the mouths of the sculptures, the name seems fitting.

Gargoyles were orginally carved in many forms.  Humans, animals, human-animal hybrids and chimeras (animal-animal hybrids) were all employed as suitable spouts, but if the carvings were merely decorative and served no water deflecting purposes, they were called "grotesques."

Churches sported these fantastical stone beings too.  Were they simply a means to an end as far as architecture?  Surely the church could have employed it's builders to create angelic spouts?  Speculation states that the gargoyles were an object lesson.  See the devil, how he hangs about waiting on the unfaithful?  Better is that within these walls than that which is found without.  It's easy to see how the strict looking statues could have become a warning against the evils of the world.

Whatever their beginnings, there are few gargoyles being created now in service to their old duties.  Because of their weight and risk of falling (and the invention of modern downspouts) any gargoyle being built now is more likely a grotesque meant as decoration.

Smaller, more portable statuary has found it's way into homes and gardens as a symbol of protection, spirit, mystery or simply a source of entertainment.

Ellen Dugan in her newest book Practical Protection Magick has even included a "Gargoyle Warding Spell" to empower your own gargoyle for protection.

Search for them at garden centers, outdoor home furnishing stores or any shop that carries statuary.  I had to ask for mine as the store didn't carry them, but they regularly brought in other garden decorations.  I merely mentioned what I wanted and they found him for me.

Whether you bring a gargoyle home for protection or mere enjoyment, these wonderful stone charmers are definitely a great addition to your space!


Hex said...

I've always been partial to dragons. That is, until a friend gifted me with a gargoyle! Now I find myself drawn more and more to the little buggers lol. Thanks for a wonderful post. :D

greekwitch said...

Excellent post. Very informative! TBy the way, you have a really awesome gargoyle right there!
Brightest blessings!

Kallista said...

Nice addition there! I think he's quite charming too :)

Suzie said...

What an awesome Gargoyle! He is loaded with personality!! I think that he is extremely lucky to have found such a caring and appreciative home!

My dear daughter in law has a HUGE winged Gargoyle that is really quite beautiful, but also forbidding. "Agnes" as she was dubbed, used to stand quite proudly in the focal point of the garden, but when she and my daughter bought a new home, the community association told them that they would have to remove Agnes from the yard.

Now whenever we go over there, and I see Agnes out behind the garden shed, in an overgrown grove of saplings and weeds, my heart breaks for her. .she looks SO sad. I'm surprised that her scales haven't fallen off. The girls have said that someday, they are going to clear that area out, and create a proper garden for her. .I hope that it is this year!

Now you know why it pleases me so much that your Gargoyle has found such a good home! And why home associations disgust me SO much!

Thank you for sharing him with us!

Linda in New Mexico said...

I just adore gargoyles/grotesques. I did not know about the rain spitting part...that is fascinating.
We have had one on our front gate entry to the house ever since we moved in here. His name is Ugh. He shares duties with a dragon on the other wall. And you are absolutely right about protection and these magickal beasties. We annoint the two of them at both solstices as part of our celebration. Thanks for sharing pix of your gorgeous one. The Olde Bagg

Dede said...

I love my gargoyle! He protects our home. He hangs next to the front door with a globe for light. I am looking for two large ones to put at the beginning of the driveway. Wishing you a terrific weekend!
Love you!

Anonymous said...

I think Gargoyles are wonderful creatures and have several myself - one guards my front door, and I have a large head in my backroom who is very foreboding - I love them greatly and collect them when I can.
I love your little man in your garden - he is fantastic.
Thanks for sharing :o))

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Poor gargoyles! Just another profession whose livelihood has been wiped out by advancing technology. But they seem to have succeeded in their new field of gardening.

Robin Larkspur said...

I need a gargoyle. I did not realize how perfect one would be for my front porch. I am now on the look out for one. Thanks for this great post, and a wonderful idea!

Deedee said...

I love Gargoyles/Grotesques. I always delight to visit a garden and see one peeking out between the leaves. My sister has several. The one that sits on her front steps is named mischief. I just finished reading a novel called "The Gargoyle" by Andrew Davidson - a good read.

Danni said...

I love gargoyles/grotesques, I have two in my home. One watches over me while I sleep and the other guards our back door. I'd like to get a few larger ones to put outside of the front door and in the garden as well. :)

I think your fellow there is indeed charming, in a slightly cranky way!

Tea Witch said...

Gargoyles are just awesome :)

BTW....I gave you a shout out on my latest blog post :) Hope you'll check it out.

Anonymous said...

I love my gargoyles and I also have one right at my front door. The response from people who don't know is to give a couple of glances. I've even had someone say "looks like you left a Halloween decoration out". My reply...."everyday is Halloween around here".

Pallas Renatus said...

I'd love to have a well-carved gargoyle to invite a home-protection spirit into. After all, the least we can do for the spirits who do all the heavy-lifting of protecting us is give them a suitably intimidating face on this plane!

Mrs. Oddly said...

I'll be thinking about what kind of guardian I would like to put in front of my home. I love the idea of gargoyles and dragons. However, I think it may be more representative of our family to employ a proper pair of Foo Dogs. We'll see what comes. No worries, I'll take pics when it happens ;)

the wild magnolia said...

I love his eyes - they see what they need to see.

Good post!!!

Mina said...

I love your gargoyle! Thank you for such fabulous information.

Brenda said...

yes I have a dragon sitting at my front door for protection. love you site and looking through your articles...thanks for sharing, so many great sites out there and meeting people. smiles and have a great day