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God's Eye

EAMMM 2004.5

Gods Eye

The God's eye is a simple apotropaic device used to avert evil, ill will or bad fortune. It can be set up in a window or over a door to protect a building or even be worn about the person or on animal harnesses.

It is traditionally made of red wool thread bound around an equal-armed cross of rowan twigs. Rowan is a tree of protection, as is the colour red. The design represents the eye of God or a god keeping watch. Ideally the rowan tree from which the twigs come should be one the maker has never seen before.

This example was made as a talisman to protect a popular piece of open space in Norwich from inappropriate development, alongside the community campaign through the planning process. Unfortunately, neither the spell nor the mundane campaign were strong enough and the development went ahead, although some concessions were obtained. This God's eye was retrieved from the site after tree felling had taken place.

This story highlights two things. Firstly, magic is not automatically successful; it depends on the strength of will and belief of the practitioner and on the power of other, particularly opposing influences. Secondly, it highlights the fact that spells and protective devices can often only be collected either when their work is done (if they have not been destroyed in the process, as is often the case) or when their context has been removed, generally because they have failed in their job.

Material: red handspun wool yarn; rowan twigs
Length: mm
width: mm
Date: 1999 CE
Place: Norwich

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