Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Phylactery

I fucking love phylacteries.

So Jews have this thing where they take some strips of parchment with particular verses from the Torah, put them in little black boxes and strap them to their arm and forehead.  This allows them to bear a symbol that their hearts and minds are in dedication to god.  I only found out about them a couple of years ago when I was walking through the airport and saw the two Jewiest Jews I had ever seen.  A quick Google search for "little boxes Jews wear" led me to the fascinating history of the Tefillin, or phylactery.

I was particularly fond of this because sometime before, completely independently,  I had started wearing a pill fob on a belt loop with important lessons that I had learned written on scraps of paper inside.  There will always be difficult times and in those times we sometimes forget the most important things about life.  So whenever I get upset, I'll open up my little silver box and remind myself.  You can see it in just about any picture of me that includes my waistline.

I can't help but feel that these two practices share a philosophical link.

So Liches have this thing where they take their soul and put it into a small item, usually a box or bottle, called  phylactery.  This allows them to operate their undead bodies remotely.  If their bodies are then destroyed, perhaps by a wandering group of adventurers, no damage is done to the spirit and the body can be rebuild in a matter of days.  In order to permanently destroy the Lich, you must first destroy its phylactery.  However, they are usually guarded by powerful spells, powerful creatures, and hidden deep within keeps or catacombs.  It's a pretty ingenious survival plan... well... depending on your definitions of survival.

Either way, phylacteries are about taking something of great spiritual significance, and putting it in a small box.  There's something about the idea that I find fascinating. 


Laura S. said...

Hello, Adam! This reminds of Horcruxes and what Lord Voldemort did. I wonder if that's from where J.K. Rowling got her idea? Interesting post!

Have a great week and happy A to Z!!

Marge said...

I love that idea. I think everyone should have a little box like that.

Sharkbytes said...

It seems a silly idea on the surface, but there is something about the physical presence of the ideas that makes them real. I'm trying to visit all the A-Z Challenge Blogs this month. My alphabet is at

Stephsco said...

Very cool, I learned something new, so thank you. I think traditions like this are fascinating as well because they mean something. So much of religion in America has degenerated to... what I don't know. But I like the trend in evangelical circles (which I'm on the fringe) of examining traditional lent practices. There are some cool aspects that used to be reserved only for Catholics, but I think it gives a deeper meaning to the season rather than bunnies and fancy Easter dresses.

Found your blog from the A to Z challenge - thanks for sharing!

Think Positive, Be Positive said...


I'm trying to visit all the participants of the 2012 A to Z Challenge and I have arrived at your lovely blog. Good luck with the rest of the year!

Donna L Martin

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