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Mount Orégano
Sue Burke
The lion with a very shiny nose 
27th-Sep-2017 09:02 am

You can find these two bronze lions guarding an apartment house around the corner from my home in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago.

Notice that one of them – only one – has a shiny nose. Passers-by and residents of the building have apparently been rubbing it. Why? Probably for good luck, like rubbing Lincoln’s nose on the bronze bust at his tomb in Springfield, Illinois.

Statues at Dartmouth College, UCLA, the University of Maryland, Dubrovnik, Croatia – and no doubt many others – are similarly venerated.

But I think that the lion’s nose can bring us more than bring good luck. The Phrygian goddess Cybele rode a chariot pulled by lions, portrayed here in the fountain at Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid, Spain. (Notice the Spanish spelling of her name.)

As with Santa, a lion that has a very shiny nose could guide her chariot. According to legend, she arrives with wild music, wine, and a disorderly, ecstatic following.

I’m ready and waiting right around the corner, goddess. Bring your divine power (and wine) to Edgewater! We can supply the lions, wild music, and disorderly, ecstatic followers.

— Sue Burke

28th-Sep-2017 06:39 am (UTC)
I think my favourite rubbed statue is Victor Noir in Père Lachaise. Though, this being Paris, it's not his nose that's shiny...

I'd never come across Cybele before. How splendid! Thank you!

28th-Sep-2017 09:36 pm (UTC)
I checked and indeed the touching is very French.

Then there's the Everard t'Serclaes in Brussels. No one seems to know exactly what to touch for good luck, and tourist guides don't agree, so they touch as much as they can.

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