The root origin of the word “gargoyle” is the Spanish word “garganta,” which means “throat” because these grotesque faces were originally used to divert water from the roof of a church, the water spewing forth from the mouth of the gargoyle. Notre Dame, had many of them to keep the water from collapsing the roof and the spire. Of course, history showed that it was the opposite of water that collapsed the roof and spire. 

It is from such sculptings in Paris that I got the idea that I too, need a gargoyle on my house. It is a common European idea that these faces scare evil spirits away from your house, so I sculpted one and put it on our house,  and so far, it has worked. Not one evil spirit has come into our house, although I can’t say that for “mischievous spirits” that hide things from us that seem to disappear and then reappear for no known reason.     

This is known as apotropaic magic. These grotesque faces do the opposite of what you would think. They scare evil or harmful spirits away even though they themselves look evil. It reminds us that evil is everywhere, and we need protection from the supernatural. Similar water spouts have existed since Greek times, but they were often animal heads, such as lions, rather than grotesque faces. Those were introduced by Gothic Cathedrals and were particularly associated with Medieval Scottish architecture.          

One of our former employees got quite offended by these seemingly devilish faces. He associated this with devil worship and admonished us for having these hellish faces around. I tried to explain to him that if Notre Dame has them on their walls for protection, we should not fear them, but he didn’t buy it.  He quit in protest but walked off with a few of our possessions, or was that the mischievous spirits that did that to teach us a lesson?          

We need to get over the misguided concept of what we perceive to be ugly is evil.