Petrifaction in mythology and fiction

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Petrifaction, or petrification as defined as turning people to stone, is also a common theme in folklore and mythology, as well as in some works of modern fiction.


Petrification is associated with the legends of Medusa, the basilisk, the Svartálfar and the cockatrice, among others. In fairy tales, characters who fail in a quest may be turned to stone until they are rescued by the successful hero, as in the tales such as The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body, The Water of Life and The Dancing Water, the Singing Apple, and the Speaking Bird, as well as many troll tales.

In Cornish folklore, petrifaction stories are used to explain the origin of prehistoric megalithic monuments such as stone circles and monoliths, including The Merry Maidens stone circle, The Nine Maidens of Boskednan, the Tregeseal Dancing Stones), and The Hurlers. Supposedly petrified Cardiff Giant was one the most famous hoaxes in American history.

Modern fiction[edit]

Petrifaction magic is a major plot element in the animated series Gargoyles and the novels The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (in the film version however the characters are not actually turned to stone; they are just put into a cold, lifeless, paralysed, dead-like state), as well as the video game The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap and in the manga Negima!.

It is also prominently featured in the novel, "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" and The Patchwork Girl of Oz (Dr. Pipt's Liquid of Petrifaction), the manga and anime series Naruto (Senjutsu) and My-Otome, the TV series Seijuu Sentai Gingaman, Masters of the Universe (Snake Men) My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders, the video games Pokémon (the move "Glare"), Elite Beat Agents and Drakan: Order of the Flame, and in the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (the arcane spell Flesh to Stone), Roper Klacks from the Longest Journey, among many others.

In the Norwegian fantasy film "Trolljegeren"(Trollhunter) the trolls turn into stone when exposed to sunlight, as depicted in the folk tales. The film, which is a fictional documentary, contains a scientific explanation for this.

In the 1988 film, Willow, the titular character is given magic acorns to protect himself with before setting off on his epic journey. The High Aldwin of the Nelwyn village tells Willow that anything he throws them at will turn to stone.


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