Anathema


A is for ANATHEMA

Continuing our Twelve Thousand Words celebration, by Karen Jeynes.

Coming in at number ten on your favourite words list, this is a delightfully specific word, meaning one that is cursed by a religious authority, from the original Greek “a thing accursed” – in this sense it is equivalent to haraam. Anathemata are gifts offered to God. Anathema has acquired the additional meaning of someone or something intensely hated or loathed. Thus there are those who might say that raisins are anathema to them. The Islamic faith might say Salman Rushdie is anathema to it.

Those who feel heavy metal is anathema to them might want to avoid Anathema, a Liverpudlian band that are, if one believes the internet “popular with underground doom metal fans”.

However, what is obviously most important to mention here is that there is a character in my favourite book of all time – Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – called Anathema Device. She is a “Practical Occultist and Professional Descendant” and is, as they say in the classics, made of awesome.  To continue our musical theme above, there is a band (of course there is) called “Severed Head of State” who have a song called “Anathema Device”.

I am informed by some delightful geeks of my acquaintance that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that “anathema” is a thing in the World of Warcraft. So now that’s done then.

In searching for a quote to leave you with I was impressed to see such unexpected folks as Matt Damon, Taylor Swift and even Donald Trump bandying it about, but instead I settled on Gary Shteyngart’s “Freedom is anathema to dreams nurtured in captivity”.

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