What's this chalked on our sidewalk?
August 1, 2019 6:27 PM   Subscribe

After dinner my husband went to the corner store and found this [see photo] chalked on the sidewalk right in front of our building. It wasn't there when we came home earlier. It's chalked in such a way that it faces you when you exit our building. (We're in a 2-family brownstone in NYC, so it's on the sidewalk just outside our gate.) Any clues as to what it means? Should we be freaked out because it seems so directly aimed at us?

(The light in the upper right is from my flashlight.) In case it's hard to see in the photo, it has what looks like a broken pitchfork symbol, then a symbol for square root of Pi. Then it reads:
YOD HE VOD (with a swirl on the D)
posted by CiaoMela to Grab Bag (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It looks religious.

INRI was supposedly written on Jesus' crucifix (short for Jesus, King of the Jews).

Yod He Vod is close to Yod-He-Vau-He, which is associated with Kabbalism.

Amin could be a mis-spelling of Amen.

So not directly threatening, but creepy and weird if you think it's directed at you.
posted by justkevin at 6:35 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]

INRI is “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”

Yod He Vod is the first three letters of YHWH, the Tetragrammaton, the true name of god.

Amin is the Arabic form of Amen

Nothing inherently freak-out worthy in there to me.
posted by griphus at 6:36 PM on August 1 [10 favorites]

Religious graffiti.
posted by glonous keming at 6:37 PM on August 1 [9 favorites]

Agreed with all the above, and that the swirl under the D could be a variation on the Chi-Rho, associated with early Christianity.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:40 PM on August 1

what looks like a broken pitchfork symbol

I'm totally guessing here based on the other religious things in the message, but this could be a stylized crescent moon and a cross.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:42 PM on August 1

Weird Christian stuff maybe? INRI and the tetragammaton (yod-he-vau-he, "yahweh," the unpronounceable and sacred name of God in Hebrew/Jewish tradition) were both supposedly written by Pilate and hung on Jesus's cross. Not sure about Amin or the strange symbols though.
posted by shadygrove at 6:42 PM on August 1

There's some weird numerology stuff about the square root of pi and the Bible.

Some people just like to share their passions with others, hopefully you've got one of those.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:25 PM on August 1 [5 favorites]

The squiggle under the D in VOD looks like an infinity symbol.
posted by gudrun at 8:38 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

That’s creepy and weird. However, 99% likely the result of some teen or twenty-something who is slightly manic right now but really into theology, or is trying to be creepy and weird.

Pour some water over it to wash it off, double check that you locked your doors, and try to forget about it.
posted by samthemander at 8:54 PM on August 1 [7 favorites]

First one appears to be the astrological symbol for Jupiter, slightly hosed.

See astrological symbols for an example. I'd say random religious crap. Unless you're hiding the Messiah or something, probably unrelated.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 8:55 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

The square root of pi? ; then the INRI on the next line; religious line and an ~amen? Looks like kinda gibberish or simple random whatevah stuph.

Knew people in Austin that would stop at no particular time or place and write/art whatever random item/design was in their mind at that time; I'd call it a similar item; give it a day or two; or maybe even get rid of it in the AM when whoever wrote it is very, very, very likely far from being awake.

Certainty - leave it; and more will appear the way dogs congregate around fire hydrants, electrical posts, etc. Markers.

(there is a phone system box about 30 feet West of Quacks that some unknowns decorated EVERY TIME it was repainted. Vile, evil, shiftless, do nothing youth. Arrest them all and make them PAY!!!)
posted by buzzman at 10:18 PM on August 1

if anything, it looks like a positive prayer/blessing rather than a curse, so i personally won't rush to erase it. nvm the hodge-podge of traditions.
posted by cendawanita at 10:50 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I wouldn't worry. This sort of thing is, if anything, in the "blessing" category of applying words to a surface. It's also possible if whoever it is has the feels for geomatria or pop kabbalah they may have picked your house at random off a map for the sake of the position it occupies, depending on what shapes are significant in their belief system.

I'd honestly just leave it.
posted by Jilder at 1:33 AM on August 2 [5 favorites]

Coming back to add that based on most of it being religious/benign, the pitchfork looking one could be some version of the "trident cross" - info. here (the neptune symbol there looks the closest, but who knows .... a number of astronomy and astrology symbols kind of look like this.)
posted by gudrun at 7:06 AM on August 2

I would leave it alone and let it wash away in the next rain. Washing it off yourself may lead the person who did it to perceive that they are engaged in some kind of dispute or communication with you, which is probably not something you want to instigate. If it becomes a problem with more markings, etc., then you can think about taking further measures - but with just one I would try to ignore it and let the person wander off to some other place.
posted by Mid at 7:29 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]

Thanks so much everyone. I've told my husband about Ask over the years, and yet he was still in disbelief that I could post a question like this and get helpful answers. You all contributed to our ability to get a good night's rest!
posted by CiaoMela at 8:01 AM on August 2 [5 favorites]

Amin is also a common men's name across several countries, so it could also be someone's artist's "signature." But as others have said, doesn't look like anything to worry about.
posted by shaademaan at 6:06 AM on August 3

Or, someone is praying for someone named Amin. I wouldn’t wash it off. It’s intriguing, isn’t it? But I’m glad you got a good night’s sleep and I don’t think you should feel threatened.
posted by kapers at 7:05 PM on August 3

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