ANATH'EMA, noun [Gr. to place behind, backward or at a distance, to separate.]
1. Excommunication with curses. Hence, a curse or denunciation by ecclesiastical authority, accompanying excommunication. This species of excommunication was practiced in the ancient churches, against notorious offenders; all churches were warned not to receive them; all magistrates and private persons were admonished not to harbor or maintain them, and priests were enjoined not to converse with them, or attend their funeral.
There are two kinds of anathemas, judiciary and abjuratory. The former is pronounced by a council, pope or bishop; the latter is the act of a convert who anathematizes the heresy which he abjures.
2. In heathen mythology, an offering, or present made to some deity and hung up in a temple. Whenever a person quitted his employment, he set apart, or dedicated his tools to his patron-deity. Persons who had escaped danger remarkably, or been otherwise very fortunate, testified their gratitude by some offering to their deity.