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Background: This link has gotten away from me, will post this as soon as I find it again.
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DISCLAIMER:  Images on this page are copyrighteded to the original copyright holders.
No infringement intended, they are used here to pay homage to my
favourite mythical creatures as well as my favourite cartoon show.
The Gargoyle Weir
The origin of the word 'Gargoyle' really tells it all: The word comes from the French (gargouille) and simply means "throat" or "pipe".  Yes, as uninspired as that sounds, 'gargouilles' have been found as far back as ancient Greece and started out as nothing more than decorated pipes (the Greeks often used heads of lions or other fierce animals) whose sole purpose was to drain rain water off the roofs.  Pretty darn prosaic, if you ask me :-).  Architecturally speaking, only the creature serving as actual water spout is called a Gargoyle, otherwise is it  known as a  Grotesque.  But in time, the "Gargoyle" has entered folklore as a protective spirit.  Definitely a heathen aspect to this, and one might wonder why we find them on churches and cathedrals throughout the world, like the two creatures below, looking out over the city of Paris from one of the most famous churches in the world, Notre Dame.   
"Destroy the idol. Purify the temples with holy water. Set relics there, and let them become temples of the true God.  So the people will have no need to change their place of concourse, and where of old they were wont to sacrifice cattle to demons, thither let them continue to resort on the day of the saint to where the Church is dedicated, and slay their beasts, no longer as a sacrifice but for social meal in honor of Him whom they now worship."
Alas, it is merely another example of one religion  adopting the symbols of another to facilitate the flocking of the populace to the new faith, as illustrated in a directive by Pope Gregory to St.  Augustine (see below):
Thus, very early on, the Gargoyle served more than one purpose.  From the late Middle Ages through the Renaissance, when church-building reached a fever pitch, the extreme grotesque-ness of some gargoyles stands witness to the growing belief that they would frighten off evil spirits.  Alas, over time, they came to be seen as evil themselves.  A view welcomed and perpetuatd by the church, because as we look at Gargoyles around the world, we see the recurring themes that unmistakably harken back to our Pagan ancestors.
Early humanity had a lot of things to be frightened of, their lack of scientific knowledge making their world a very scary and unpredictable place.  So they poured their fears into stone, recreating what frightened them most, or, in some cases, what was imperative for survival (e.g., the Sheelagh-na-Gig to ensure fertility).  By setting these symbols against the evil spirits that surrounded them, they gained some peace of mind, a perceived measure of control and safety.
Gargoyles have definitely found their way into our mythology, and while some see them as boogeymen to frighten little children, others have embraced them as creatures not that different from ourselves, with good guys and bad guys, heros and villains, but mostly dedicated to existing alongside and even helping humankind.  My own interest in Gargoyles was re-awakened by the Disney cartoon "Gargoyles".  More than simple children's entertainment.  Much, much more.  From well-developed characters and gripping story lines, the show tackles some pretty deep issues, certainly a cartoon for grown-ups.  This is one Disney production I wouldn't hesitate to put on par with some of the better Anime I've seen come out of Japan.  No wonder, the show had Japanese directors and animators.  Yeah, I'm a Fan!
Click title for Internet
Movie Database entry
What is a Gargoyle?
Gargoyle Ridge, a natural rock formation (I think it's in Nevada)
Notre Dame de Paris
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