Lightning Rods and Apotropaic Magic

I was thinking of Walter de Maria’s Lightning Field (, simply because it’s beautiful and strange, and then started to think in more general terms about the function of the lightning rod as an apotropaic  object – meant to conduct lighting away from another target, to avert a negative result. The Gorgon is an ancient apotropaic device, used on the aegis and shield of Athena, to ward off enemies.  But the lightning rod attracts and redirects, grounds the charge – unlike other diverted dangers whose targets are uncertain.  The lightning rod is a responsible redirection towards an altered consequence, traceable and alive.  Lightning rods were used by the Singhalese architects who built the ancient stupas of Sri Lanka.


About hickson1

Art historian, professor, Italian Renaissance and Baroque specialist, Italophile
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