Gypsy Sorcery and Fortune Telling, by Charles Godfrey Leland, , at sacred-texts.com
GYPSY CONJURATIONS AND EXORCISMS—THE CURE OF CHILDREN-HUNGARIAN GYPSY SPELLS—A CURIOUS OLD ITALIAN "SECRET"—THE MAGIC VIRTUE OF GARLIC—A FLORENTINE INCANTATION LEARNED FROM A WITCH—LILITH, THE CHILD-STEALER, AND QUEEN OF THE WITCHES
IN all the schools of Shamanic sorcery, from those of the Assyrian Accadian to the widely-spread varieties of the present day, the Exorcism forms the principal element. An exorcism is a formula, the properties or power of which is that when properly pronounced, especially if this be done with certain fumigations and ceremonies, it will drive away devils, diseases, and disasters of every description; nay, according to very high, and that by no means too ancient, authority, it is efficacious in banishing bugs, mice, or locusts, and it is equal to Persian powder as a fuge for fleas, but is, unfortunately, too expensive to be used for that purpose save by the very wealthy. It has been vigorously applied against the grape disease, the Colorado beetle, the army worm, and the blizzard in
the United States, but, I believe, without effect, owing possibly to differences of climate or other antagonistic influences.
Closely allied to the Exorcism is the Benediction, which soon grew out of it as a cure. The former being meant to repel and drive away evil, the latter very naturally suggested itself, by a law of moral polarity, as a means of attracting good fortune, blessings, health, and peace. As the one was violently curative, the other was preventive. The benediction would keep the devils and all their works away from a man or his home—in fact, if stables be only well blessed once a year, no mishaps can come to any of the animals who inhabit them; and I myself have known a number of donkeys to receive a benediction in Rome, the owner being assured that it would keep them safe from all the ills which donkeys inherit. And in the year 1880, in one of the principal churches of Philadelphia, blessed candles were sold to a congregation under guarantee that the purchase of one would preserve its possessor for one year against all disorders of the throat, on which occasion a sermon was preached, in the which seven instances were given in which people had thus been cured.
Between blessing and banning it soon became evident that many formulas of words could be used to bring about mysterious results. It is probable that the Exorcism in its original was simply the angry, elevated tone of voice which animals as well as men instinctively employ to repel an enemy or express a terror. For this unusual language would be chosen, remembered, and repeated. With every new utterance this outcry or curse would be more seriously pronounced or enlarged till it became an Ernulphian formula. The next step would be to give it metric form, and its probable development is very interesting. It does not seem to have occurred to many investigators that in early ages all things whatever which were remembered and repeated were droned and intoned, or sing-sung, until they fell of themselves into a kind of metre. In all schools at the present day, where boys are required to repeat aloud and all together the most prosaic lessons, they end by chanting them in rude rhythm. All monotone, be it that of a running brook, falls into cadence and metre. All of the sagas, or legends,
of the Algonkin-Wabanaki were till within even fifty years chants or songs, and if they are now rapidly losing that character it is because they are no longer recited with the interest and accuracy which was once observed in the narrators. But it was simply because all things often repeated were thus intoned that the exorcisms became metrical. It is remarkable that among the Aryan races it assumed what is called the staff-rhyme, like that which SHAKESPEARE, and BEN JONSON, and BYRON, and many more employ, as it would seem, instinctively, whenever witches speak or spells or charms are uttered. It will not escape the reader that, in the Hungarian gypsy incantations in this work, the same measure is used as that which occurs in the Norse sagas, or in the scenes of Macbeth. It is also common in Italy. This is intelligible—that its short, bold, deeply-marked movement has in itself something mysterious and terrible. If that wofully-abused word "weird" has any real application to anything, it is to the staff-rhyme. I believe that when a man, and particularly a woman, does not know what else to say, he or she writes "lurid," or "weird," and I lately met with a book of travels in which I found the latter applied seventy-six times to all kinds of conundrums, until I concluded that, like the coachman's definition of an idea in HEINE'S "Reisebilder," it meant simply "any d——d nonsense that a man gets into his head." But if weird really and only means that which is connected with fate or destiny, from the Anglo-Saxon Weordan, to become, German, Werden, then it is applicable enough to rhymes setting forth the future and spoken by the "weird sisters," who are so-called not because they are awful or nightmarish, or pokerish, or mystical, or bug-a-boorish, but simply because they predict the future or destiny of men." The Athenians as well as Gentiles excelled in these songs of sorcery, hence we are told (VARRO, "Q. de Fascin") that in Achaia, when they learned that a certain woman who used them was an Athenian they stoned her to death, declaring that the immortal gods bestowed on man the power of healing with stones, herbs, and animals, not with words" ("De Rem. Superstit. Cognoscendis"). Truly, doctors never agree.
It was in 1886 that I learned from a girl in Florence two exorcisms or
invocations which she was accustomed to repeat before telling fortunes by cards. This girl, who was of the Tuscan Romagna and who looked Etruscan with a touch of gypsy blood, was a repertory of popular superstitions, especially witch-lore, and a maker and wearer of fetishes, always carrying a small bag full of them. Bon sang ne peut mentir.
The two formulas were as follows. I omit a portion from each
"Venti cinque carte siete!
Venti cinque diavoli diventerete,
Nel' corpo, nel' sangue nell' anima,
Nell' sentimenti del corpo;
Del mio amante non posso vivere,
Non passa stare ne bere,
Ne mangiare ne . . .
Ne con uomini ne con donne non passa favellare,
Finche a la porta di casa mia
Non viene picchiare!"
"Ye are twenty-five cards.
Become twenty-five devils
Enter into the body, into the blood, into the soul .
Into the feelings of the body
Of my lover, from whom I cannot live.
For I cannot stand (exist), or drink,
Or eat . . .
Nor can I converse with men or women
Till at the door of my house
He shall come to knock."
The second incantation was the same, but beginning with these words:—
"I put five fingers on the wall,
I conjure five devils,
Five monks and five friars,
That they may enter the body
Into the blood, into the soul," &c.
If the reader will take Le Normant's "Magie Chaldaienne," and
carefully compare these Italian spells with those of ancient Nineveh, he will not only find a close general resemblance, but all the several details or actual identity of words. And it is not a little curious that the same formulas which were repeated—
"Once on a time when Babylon was young"—
should still be current in Italy. So it passed through the ages—races came and went—and among the people the old sorcery was handed across and adown, so that it still lives. But in a few years more the Folk-lorist will be its only repository.
This chapter is devoted to conjuring diseases of children by gypsies. It bears a great likeness to one in the very devout work of PETER PIPERNUS, "De Pueris affectis morbis magicis" ("Of Boys who have been Bewitched into Disease"), only that PIPERNUS uses Catholic incantations, which he also employs "pro ligatis in matrimonio," "pro incubo magico," "de dolóribus stomachi magicis," &c., for to him, as he declares, all disease is of magic origin.
The magic of the gypsies is not all deceit, though they deceive with it. They put faith themselves in their incantations, and practise them on their own account. "And they believe that there are women, and sometimes men, who possess supernatural power, partly inherited and partly acquired." The last of seven daughters born in succession, without a boy's coming into the series, is wonderfully gifted, for she can see hidden treasure or spirits, or enjoy second sight of many things invisible to men. And the same holds good for the ninth in a series of boys, who may become a seer of the same sort. Such a girl, i.e., a seventh daughter, being a fortune in herself, never lacks lovers. In 1883 the young Vojvode, or leader, of the Kukaya gypsy tribe, named DANKU NICULAI, offered the old gypsy woman, PALE BOSHE, one hundred ducats if she would persuade her seventh daughter to marry him. In the United States of America there are many women who advertise in the newspapers that they also are seventh daughters
of seventh daughters at that, and who make a good thing of it as fortunetellers; but they have a far more speedy, economical, and effective way of becoming the last note in an octave, than by awaiting the slow processes of being begotten or born, inasmuch as they boldly declare themselves to be sevenths, which I am assured answers every purpose, as nobody ever asks to see their certificates of baptism any more than of marriage. 1
Most of these witch-wives—also known in Hungary as cohalyi, or "wise women," or gule romni, "sweet" or "charming women"—are trained up from infancy by their mothers in medicine and magic. A great part of this education consists in getting by heart the incantations or formulas of which specimens will be given anon, and which, in common with their fairy tales, show intrinsic evidence of having been drawn at no very distant period from India, and probably in common with the lower or Shamanic religion of India from Turanian sources. But there is among the Hungarian gypsies a class of female magicians who stand far above their sisters of the hidden spell in power. These are the lace romni, or "good women," who draw their power directly from the Nivasi or Pchuvusi, the spirits of water and earth, or of flood and fell. For the Hungarian gypsies have a beautiful mythology of their own which at first sight would seem to be a composition of the Rosicrucian as set forth by Paracelsus and the Comte de GABALIS, with the exquisite Indo-Teutonic fairy tales of the Middle Ages. In fact, in some of the incantations used we find the Urme, or fairies, directly appealed to for help.
With the gypsies, as among the early Accadians, diseases are supposed to be caused by evil supernatural influences. This is more naturally the case among people who lead very simple lives, and with whom sickness is
not almost a natural or normal condition, as it is with ladies and gentlemen, or the inhabitants of cities, who have "always something the matter with them." Nomadic life is conducive to longevity. "Our grandfathers died on the gallows—we die from losing our teeth," said an old gypsy to Doctor von WLISLOCKI, when asked what his age was. Therefore among all people who use charms and spells those which are devoted to cure occupy the principal position. However, the Hungarian Romany have many medicines, more or less mysterious, which they also apply in connection with the "healing rhymes." And as in the struggle for life the weakest go first to the wall, the remedies for the diseases of children are predominant.
When a mother begins to suffer the pangs of childbirth, a fire is made before her tent, which is kept up till the infant is baptized, in order to drive away evil spirits. Certain women feed this fire, and while fanning it (fans being used for bellows) murmur the following rhyme:—
"Oh yakh, oh yakh pçabuva,
Te čavéstár tu trada,
Pçávushen te Nivashen
Tire tçuva the traden!
Lače Urmen ávená,
Čaves báçtáles dena,
Káthe hin yov báçtáles,
Andre lime báçtáles!
Motura te ráná,
Te átunci but' ráná,
Matura te ráná,
Te átunci, but' rana,
Me dav' andre yákherá!
Oh yákh, oh yákh pçabuva,
Rovel čavo: áshuna!"
It may here be remarked that the pronunciation of all these words is the same as in German, with the following additions . Č = teh in English, or to ch in church. C = ch in German as in Buch. J = azs, or the English
j, in James; ñ, as in Spanish, or nj in German, while sh and y are pronounced as in English. Á is like ah. The literal translation is
"Oh Fire, oh Fire, burn!
And from the child (do) thou drive away
Pçuvuse and Nivashi
And drive away thy smoke (pl.)
(Let) good fairies come (and)
Give luck to the child,
Here it is lucky (or fortunate)
In the world fortunate
Brooms and twigs (fuel)
Arid then more twigs,
And then yet more twigs
I put (give) to the fire.
Oh fire, oh fire—burn!
The child weeps: listen!"
In South Hungary the gypsy women on similar occasions sing the following charm:—
"Eitrá Pçuvushá, efta Niváshá
André mal avená
Pçabuven, pçabuven, oh yákhá!
Dáyákri punro dindálen,
Te gule čaves mudáren
Pçabuven, pçabuven, oh yákhá;
Ferinen o čaves te daya!"
"Seven Pçuvushe, seven Nivasi
Come into the field,
Burn, burn, oh fire
They bite the mother's foot,
They destroy the sweet child;
Fire, fire, oh burn!
Protect the child and the mother!"
When the birth is very difficult, the mother's relations come to help,
and one of them lets an egg fall, zwischen den Beinen derselben. On this occasion the gypsy women in Southern Hungary sing:—
"Anro, ánro in obles,
Te e pera in obles:
Ava čavo sástávestes!
Devlá, devlá, tut akharel!"
The egg, the egg is round,
And the belly is round,
Come child in good health
God, God calls thee!"
If a woman dies in child-bed two eggs are placed under her arms and the following couplet is muttered:—
"Kana anro kirnes hin,
Kathe nañi tçudá him!"
"When this egg is (shall be) decayed,
Here (will be) is no milk!"
When the after-pains begin it is the custom with some of the gypsy tribes in the Siebenburgen to smoke the sufferer with decayed willow-wood which is burned for the purpose while the women in attendance sing:—
"Sik te sik o tçu urál,
Te urál o čon urál!
Kana len hádjináven
Sasčipená tut' áven;
Káná o tçu ná urál—
Tute nañi the dukhal,
Tute náñi the dukhál."
"Fast and fast the smoke flies,
And flies, the moon flies,
When they find (themselves)
Health (yet) will come to thee,
When the smoke no (longer) flies
Thou wilt feel pain no more!"
There is a strange, mysterious affinity between gypsies and the moon. A wonderful legend, which they certainly brought from India since in it Mekran is mentioned as the place where its incident occurred, details that there, owing to the misrepresentations of a sorcerer, the gypsy leader, CHEN, was made to, marry his sister GUIN, or KAN, which brought the curse of wandering upon his people. Hence the Romany are called Chen-Guin. It is very evident that here we have CHON and KAN, or KAM, the Moon and Sun, which is confirmed by another gypsy legend which declares that the Sun, because he once violated or still seeks to seduce his sister, the Moon, continually follows her, being destined to wander for ever. And as the name Chen-Kan, or Zingan, or Zigeuner, is known all over the East, and, as this legend shows, is of Indian origin, it is hardly worth while to believe with MIKLOSICH that it is derived from an obscure Greek heretical sect of Christians—the more so as it is most difficult to believe that the Romany were originally either Greeks or Christians or Christian heretics.
When a gypsy woman is with child she will not, if she can help it, leave her tent by full moonshine. A child born at this time it I's believed will make a happy marriage. So it is said of birth in the Western World:—
"Full moon, high sea,
Great man thou shalt be;
Red dawning, cloudy sky,
Bloody death shalt thou die.
"Pray to the Moon when she is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground."
Moon-worship is very ancient; it is alluded to as a forbidden thing in the Book of Job. From early times witches and other women worked their spells when stark-naked by the light of the full moon, which is evidently derived from the ancient worship of that planet and the
shameless orgies connected with it. Dr. WLISLOCKI simply remarks on this subject that the moon has, in the gypsy incantation, "eine Phallische Bedeutung." In ancient symbolism the horns of the moon were regarded as synonymous with the horns of the ox-hence their connection with agriculture, productiveness, and fertility, or the generative principle, and from this comes the beneficent influence not only of the horns, but of horse-shoes, boars' tusks, crabs' claws, and pieces of coral resembling them.
The great love of gypsy mothers for their children, says WLISLOCKI, induces their friends to seek remedies for the most trifling disorders. At a later period, mother and child are left to Mother Nature—or the vis medicatrix Naturæ. What is greatly dreaded is the Berufen, or being called on, "enchanted," in English "overlooked," or subjected to the evil eye. An universal remedy for this is the following:—
A jar is filled with water from a stream, and it must be taken with, not against, the current as it runs. In it are placed seven coals, seven handfuls of meal, and seven cloves of garlic, all of which is put on the fire. When the water begins to boil it is stirred with a three-forked twig, while the wise woman repeats:—
"Miseç' yakhá tut dikhen,
Te yon káthe mudáren
Te átunci eftá coká
Te çaven miseçe yakhá;
Miseç' yakhá tut dikhen,
Te yon káthe mudáren
But práhestár e yakhá
Atunci kores th'ávená;
Miseç' yakhá tut dikhen
Te yon káthe mudáren
Andre develeskero yakhá!"
"Evil eyes look on thee,
May they here extinguished be
And then seven ravens
Pluck out the evil eyes p. 52
Evil eyes (now) look on thee.
May they soon extinguished be!
Much dust in the eyes,
Thence may they become blind,
Evil eyes now look on thee;
May they soon extinguished be!
May they burn, may they burn
In the fire of God!"
Dr. WLISLOCKI remarks that the "seven ravens" are probably represented by the seven coals, while the three-pointed twig, the meal and the garlic, symbolize lightning. He does not observe that the stick may be the triçula or trident of Siva—whence probably the gipsy word trushul, a cross; but the connection is very obvious. It is remarkable that the gypsies assert that lightning leaves behind it a smell like that of garlic. As garlic forms an important ingredient in magic charms, the following from "The Symbolism of Nature" ("Die Symbolik und Mythologie der Natur"), by J. B. FRIEDRICH, will be found interesting:—
"We find in many forms spread far and wide the belief that garlic possesses the magic power of protection against poison and sorcery. This comes, according to Pliny, from the fact that when it is hung up in the open air for a time, it turns black, when it is supposed to attract evil into itself—and, consequently, to withdraw it from the wearer. The ancients believed that the herb which Mercury gave to Ulysses to protect him from the enchantment of Circe, and which Homer calls moly, was the alium nigrum, or garlic, the poison of the witch being a narcotic. Among the modern Greeks and Turks, garlic is regarded as the most powerful charm against evil spirits, magic, and misfortune. For this reason they carry it with them, and hang it up in their houses as a protection against storms and bad weather. So their sailors carry with them a sack of it to avert shipwreck. If any one utters a word of praise with the intention of fascinating or of doing harm, they cry aloud 'Garlic!' or utter it three times rapidly. In AULUS PERSIUS FLACCUS (Satyr. V.) to bite garlic averts magic and the evils which the gods send to those who are wanting in reverence for them. According to a popular belief the mere pronunciation of 'Garlic!' protects one from poison."
It appears to be generally held among them and the Poles that this word prevents children from "beschreien werden," that is, from being banned, or overlooked, or evil-eyed. And among the Poles garlic
is laid under children's pillows to protect them from devils and witches. (BRATRANECK, "Beiträge zur Æsthetik der Pflanzenweit," p. 56). The belief in garlic as something sacred appears to have been very widely spread, since the Druids attributed magic virtues to it; hence the reverence for the nearly allied leek, which is attached to King David and so much honoured by the Welsh.
"Tell him I'll knock his leek about his pate
Upon Saint David's Day."—SHAKESPEARE.
The magic virtues of garlic were naturally enough also attributed to onions and leeks, and in a curious Italian work, entitled "Il Libro del Comando," attributed (falsely) to Cornelius Agrippa, I find the following:—
"Segreto magico d'indovinare, colle cipole, la salute d'una persona lontana. A magic secret to divine with onions the health of a person far distant. Gather onions on the Eve of Christmas and put them on an altar, and under every onion write the name of the persons as to whom one desires to be informed, ancorche non scrivano, even if they do not write.
"The onion (planted) which sprouts the first will clearly announce that the person whose name it bears is well.
"And in the same manner we can learn the name of the husband or wife whom we should choose, and this divination is in use in many cantons of Germany."
Very much allied to this is the following love charm from an English gypsy:—
"Take an onion, a tulip, or any root of the kind (i.e. a bulbous root?), and plant it in a clean pot never used before; and while you plant it repeat the name of the one whom you love, and every day, morning and evening, say over it
'As this root grows
And as this blossom blows,
May her heart be
Turned unto me!'
"And it will come to pass that every day the one whom you love will be more and more inclined to you, till you get your heart's desire."
A similar divination is practised by sowing cress or lettuce seed in the form of names in gardens. If it grows well the one who plants it will win the love of the person indicated.
As regards the use of coals in incantations, MARCELLUS BURDIGALENSIS, 1 a Latin physician of the third century, who has left us a collection of Latin and Gaelic charms, recommends for a cure for toothache: "Salis granum, panis micam, carbonem mortuum in phœnicio alligabis," i.e., to carry a grain of salt, a crumb of bread, and a coal, in a red bag.
When the witch-brew of coals, garlic, and meal is made, and boiled down to a dry residuum, it is put into a small three-cornered bag, and hung about the child's neck, on which occasion the appropriate rhyme is repeated nine times. "And it is of special importance that the bag shall be made of a piece of linen, which must be stolen, found, or begged."
To learn whether a child has been overlooked, or evil-eyed, or enchanted, the "wise woman" takes it in her arms, and goes to the next running stream. There she holds the face of the babe as nearly as she can to the water, and repeats:—
"Páñi, páñi sikova,
Dikh the upré, dikh télé!
Buti páñi sikovel
Buti pál yákh the dikhel
Te ákáná mudárel."
"Water, water, hasten!
Look up, look down
Much water hastens
(May) as much come into the eye
Which looked evil on thee,
And may it now perish."
If the running brook makes a louder sound than usual then it is supposed to say that the child is enchanted, but if it runs on as before then something else is the matter, and to ascertain what it is other charms and ceremonies are had recourse to. This incantation indicates, like many others, a constant dwelling in lonely places, by wood and stream, as gypsies wont to do, and sweet familiarity with Nature, until one hears sermons in stones, books in the running brooks, and voices in the wind. 1 Civilized people who read about Red Indian sorcerers and gypsy witches very promptly conclude that they are mere humbugs or lunatics—they do not realize how these people, who pass half their lives in wild places watching waving grass and falling waters, and listening to the brook until its cadence speaks in real song, believe in their inspirations, and feel that there is the same mystical feeling and presence in all things that live and move and murmur as well as in themselves. Now we have against this the life of the clubs and family, of receptions and business, factories and stock-markets, newspapers and "culture." Absolutely no one who lives in "the movement" can understand this sweet old sorcery. But nature is eternal, and while grass grows and rivers run man is ever likely to fall again into the eternal enchantments. And truly until he does he will have no new poetry, no fresh
art, and must go on copying old ideas and having wretchedly worn-out exhibitions in which there is not one original idea.
If it appears that the child is overlooked, or "berufen," many means are resorted to, "one good if another fails," but we have here to do only with those which are connected with incantations. A favourite one is the following: Three twigs are cut, each one from a different tree, and put into a pipkin which has been filled with water dipped or drawn with, not against, the current of a stream. Three handfuls of meal are then put in and boiled down to a Brei, or pudding. A horse hair is then wound round a needle, which is stuck not by the point but by the head into the inner bottom of a tube, which is filled with water, and placed upon this is the pipkin with the pudding. Then the "overlooked," or evil-seen child is held over the tub while the following rhyme is chanted
"Páñi, páñi lunjárá,
Páñi, páñi isbiná;
Te náshválipen çucá
Mudára te ákáná,
Káthe beshá ñikáná,
Sár práytiña sutyárel,
Káthe ándre piri, ándre piri,
Nivasheshe les dávás!"
"Water, water, spread
Water, water, stretch
And sickness disappear,
Sickness be destroyed,
Be destroyed now.
Remain not here at all
Who ever has overlooked this child
As this leaf in the pot (maybe)
Be given to the Nivashi!"
This is repeated nine times, when the water in the tub, with the pipkin and its contents, are all thrown into the stream from which the
water was drawn. This is a widely-spread charm, and it is extremely ancient. The pipkin placed across the tub or trough—trog—here signifies a bridge, and WLISLOCKI tells us that no Transylvanian tent-gypsy will cross a bridge without first spitting thrice over the rails into the water. The bridge plays an important part in the mythology and Folk-lore of many races. The ancient Persians had their holy mountain, Albordi, or Garotman, the abode of gods and blessed souls, to which they passed by the bridge Cin-vat, or Chinevad, whence the creed: "I believe in the resurrection of the dead; that all bodies shall live renewed again, and I believe that by the bridge Cin-vat all good deeds will be rewarded, and all evil deeds punished." The punishment is apparent from the parallel of the bridge Al Sirat, borrowed by the Mahommedans from the Persians, over which the good souls passed to reward, and from which the wicked tumbled down into hell.
When I first met EMERSON in 1849 I happened to remark that a bridge in a landscape was like a vase in a room, the point on which an eye trained to the picturesque involuntarily rested. Nearly thirty years after, when we were both living at Shepherd's Hotel in Cairo, he reminded me of this one day when by the Nile we were looking at a bridge. As a bridge must cross a stream, or a torrent which is generally beautiful by itself, and as the cross or span has the effect of defining and framing the picture, as a circlet or tiara sets off a beautiful head, it is not remarkable that in all ages men have made such objects subjects of legend and song. Hence the oft-repeated Devil's Bridge, so-called because it seemed to simple peasants impossible for mere mortals to build, although bridges are habitually and more naturally connected with salvation and saints. He who in early ages built a bridge, did a great deed in times when roads were rare; hence the great priest was called the Pontifex.
Another spell for the purpose of averting the effects of the evil eye is as follows: The mother of the overlooked child fills her mouth with salt water, and lets it drop or trickle on the limbs of the infant, and when this has been done, repeats:
"Miseç yákhá tut dikhen
Andral t'ro shero
Andral t're kolyin,
Andral t're per
Andral t're punrá
Andral t're vástá
Andre yákhá yon jánen!"
"False (evil) eyes see thee,
Like this water
May they perish
From thy head,
From thy breast,
From thy belly,
From thy feet
From thy hands,
May they go hence
Into the evil eyes!"
It may be observed that meal forms an ingredient in several of these sorceries. It is a very ancient essential to sacrifices, and is offered to the spirits of the stream to appease them, as it was often given for the same purpose to the wind. The old Germans, says PRÆTORIUS, imagined the storm-wind as a starving, ravenous being, and sought to appease it by throwing meal to it. So it happened once even of later years near Bamberg when a mighty wind was raging one night that an old woman took her meal-bag and threw its contents out of the window, saying:—
"Lege dich, lieber Wind,
Bringe diss deinem Kind!"
"Dear Wind, be not so wild,
Take that unto thy child!"
"In which thing," adds the highly Protestant PRÆTORIUS ("Anthropodemus Plutonicus," p. 429), "she was like the Papists who would fain appease the Donnerwetter, or thunderstorms, with the sound of baptized bells, as though they were raging round like famished lions, or grim wolves, or a soldier foraging, seeking what they may devour." The Wind here represents the Wild Hunter, or the Storm, the leader of the Wüthende Heer, or "raging army," who, under different names, is the hero of so many German legends.
That the voice of the wind should seem like that of wild beasts roaring for food would occur naturally enough to any one who was familiar with both.
When a child refuses the breast the gypsies believe that a Pçuvus-wife, or a female spirit of the earth has secretly sucked it. In such a case they place between the mother's breasts onions, and repeat these words:—
Ac tu náshvályi
Tito tçud ač yakhá,
Andre pçuv tu pçábuvá!
Thávdá, thávdá miro tçud,
Thávdá, thávdá, parno tçud,
Thávdá, thávdá, sár kámáv,—
Mre čáveske bokhale!"
Be thou ill.
Let thy milk be fire
Burn in the earth!
Flow, flow, my milk!
Flow, flow, white milk!
Flow, flow, as I desire
To my hungry child!"
The same is applied when the milk holds back or will not flow, as it is then supposed that a Pçuvus-wife has secretly suckled her own child at the mother's breast. It is an old belief that elves put their own offspring in the place of infants, whom they sometimes steal. This subject of elf-changelings
is extensively treated by all the writers on witchcraft. There is even a Latin treatise, or thesis, devoted to defining the legal and social status, rights, &c., of such beings. It is entitled, "De Infantibus Supposititiis, vulgo Wechsel-Bälgen," Dresden, 1678. "Such infants," says the author (JOHN VALENTINE MERBITZ), "are called Cambiones, Vagiones (à continuo vagitu), Germanis Küllkräpfe, Wechselkinder, Wechselbälge, all of which indicates, in German belief, children which have nothing human about them except the skin."
When the child is subject to convulsive weeping or spasms, and loses its sleep, the mother takes a straw from the child's sleeping-place and puts into her mouth. Then, while she is fumigated with dried cow-dung, into, which the hair of the father and mother have been mingled, she chants:—
"Bala, bálá pçubuven,
Čik te bálá pçubuven,
Čik te bálá pçubuven,
"Hair, hair, burn!
Dirt and hair burn
Dirt and hair burn
Illness be burned!"
This bears manifest mark of Hindoo origin, and I have no doubt that the same ceremony in every detail is practised in India at the present day. In Southern Hungary convulsive weeping in children is cured as follows: In the evening, when the fire burns before the tent, the mother takes her child in her arms and carries it three times around the fire, putting on it a pipkin full of water, into which she puts three coals. With this water she washes the head of her child, and pours some of it on a black dog. Then she goes to the next stream or brook, and lets fall into it a red twist, saying:—
"Lává Niváshi ádá bolditori te láhá m're čaveskro rovipen! Káná sástavestes ánáv me tute pçábáyá te yándrá."
"Nivashi take this twist, and with it the weeping of my child. When it is well I will bring thee apples and eggs."
When a child "bumps" its head the swelling is pressed with the blade of a knife, and the following spell is muttered thrice, seven, or nine times, according to the gravity of the injury:—
"Ač tu, ač in, ač kovles,
The may sik tu mudarés!
Andre pcuv tu jiá,
Dikav tut me ñikáná!
Shuri, shuri áná,
De pal pçuv!"
"Be thou, be thou, be thou weak (i.e., soft)
And very soon perish!
Go thou into the earth,
May I see thee never more
Bring knives, knives,
Give (i.e., put) into the earth."
Then the knife is stuck three, seven, or nine times into the earth. If the child or a grown person has a bleeding at the nose, some of the blood is covered with earth, and the following verse repeated
"Pçuvush, dáv tute
Pcuvush, lává mánge,
De tre cáveske
Hin may táte!
"Pcuvus, I give to thee,
Pcuvus, oh take from me,
Give it to thy child,
It is very warm,
Take it quickly!"
If the child has pains in the stomach, the hair of a black dog is burned to powder and kneaded with the mother's milk and some of the feces of the child into a paste. This prescription occurs in the magical medical formulas Of MARCEI.LUS BURDIGALENIS, the court-physician at Rome in the fourth century: "Cape mel atticum et stercus infantis quod primum
demittit, statim ex lacte mulieris quæ puerum allactat permiscebis et sic inunges," &c. Most of the prescriptions of Marcellus were of ancient Etrurian origin, and I have found many of them still in use in the Romagna Toscana. This is put into a cloth and bound on the belly of the child. When it falls asleep a hole is bored in a tree and the paste put into it. The hole is then stopped up with a wooden plug, and while this is being done the following is repeated:—
"Andrál por prejiá,
André selene beshá!
Beshá beshá tu káthe!
Penáv, penáv me tu te!"
"Depart from the belly
Live in the green! (tree)
Remain, remain thou here
I say, I say to thee!"
The black dog is in many countries associated with sorcery and diabolical influences, and "in European heathendom it was an emblem of the evil principle. The black demon Černobog was represented by the Slavs as a black dog. Among the Wallachians there is a horrible vampire-like creature called Priccolitsh, or Priculics, who appears as a man in fine healthy condition, but by night he becomes a dog, kills people by the mere touch, and devours them." The black dogs of Faust and of Cornelius Agrippa will occur to most readers.
Gypsies have always been regarded as sorcerers and child-stealers, and it is remarkable that Lilith, the mother of all witchcraft, did the same. At the present day the Slavonian gypsies have spells against such a spirit.
In the Chaldæan magic, as set forth by Lenormant, as I have already stated, the powers of evil are incarnate diseases, they are seven in number, and they are invoked by means of verses which bear an extraordinary resemblance to those which are still current in Italy as well as in other countries. According to some writers this is all mere chance coincidence, or due to concurrent causes and similar conditions in different countries.
That diseases, like hunger, or death, or the terrors of the night, may have been incarnated as evil spirits naturally by all mankind may be granted, but when we find them arranged in categories of numbers, in widely different countries, employing the same means of banishing them—that is, by short songs and drum-beating—when we find these incantations in the same general forms, often with the same words, our belief as to the identity of origin is confirmed at every step. We can admit that the Jews were in Babylon and wandered thence all over the world, but that any other religious or superstitious system should have done the same would be obstinately denied. And by an incredible inconsistency, scholars who admit the early migrations of whole races on a vast scale, from the remotest regions of the East to Western Europe, deny that legends and myths come with them or that they could have spread in like manner.
One of the attributes of the witch of the Middle Ages in which she has been confused with the Queen of the Fairies, and fairies in general, is that she steals newly-born children. This is a very ancient attribute of the female demon or sorceress or strega, and it is found among Jews at the present day who believe in the Benemmerinnen, or witches who haunt women in childbirth as well as in Lilith. "The Jews banish this first wife of Adam by writing on the walls, 'Adam chava chuz Lilith,' ('Keep away from here, Lilith!')" ("Anthropodemus Plutonicus," by JOHN PRÆTORIUS, 1666). That it is very ancient is rendered probable because the famous Bogomile formula of incantation against the twelve fever-fits (Tresevica), or kinds of fever, turns entirely on the legend of six children stolen by the demon who is compelled to restore them. Here we have the very oldest form of witchcraft known, that is incarnate disease in numbers allied to child-stealing. This spell of the Tresevica. is attributed, says Dr. GASTER, to Pope JEREMIA, the founder of Bogomilism (the great Oriental Slavonian heresy which spread over Europe in the Middle Ages and prepared the way for Protestantism. "There is no doubt, therefore, that the spell is derived from the East, and I have else
where proved its existence in that quarter as early as the eighth century. It may have been of Manichæan origin. It has been preserved up to the present day in all the lands of Eastern Europe and, with certain modifications, exists among Germans and Jews." Though attributed to Sisynios, the immediate follower Of MANES, as chief of the Manichæans, it seems to have been derived from an earlier Oriental tale which became the basis of all later formulæ. I give it here in the Roumanian form, which closely resembles the old one. Here, as in all the other variants, the demon is a feminine one. The following is the legend:—
"I, Sisveas, I came down from the Mount of Olives, saw the Archangel Gabriel as he met the Avestitza, wing of Satan, and seized her by the hair and asked her where she was going. And she answered that she was going to cheat the holy Virgin by her tricks, steal the new-born child, and drink its blood. The archangel asked her how she could get into houses so as to steal the children, and she answered that she changed herself into a fly or a cat or such forms. But whosoever knew her twelve and a half (nineteen) names and wrote them out she could not touch. She told him these names, and they were written down."
There is a Coptic as well as a Greek parallel to this. The fairy who steals the children is called Lilith, and is further identified with Herodias and her twelve daughters as personifications of different kinds of fever. This is extremely interesting, as it casts some light on a question which has greatly puzzled all writers on witchcraft as to how or why Herodias was so generally worshipped in company with Diana by witches as a goddess in Italy. This is mentioned by PIPERNUS, GRILLANDUS, MIRANDOLA, and HORST. The name is probably much older than that of the Herodias of the New Testament.
46:1 Of the seventh son, PIPERNUS remarks in his book, "De Effectibus Magicis" (1647): "Est ne sanandi superstitiosus modus eorum, qui orti sunt die Parasceves, et quotquot nullo fœmines sexu intercedente, ac ab ortu septimi masculi legitimo thoro sunt nati? memorat VAIRUS, I. de fascinatione; II. DEL RIUS, lib. i., part 21. GARZONIUS nel Serraglio. J. CÆSAR BARICELLUS secundus scriptor in hort. genialé."
54:1 "Uber Marcellus Burdigalensis, von Jacob Grimm. Gelesen in der Academie der Wisscnschaften," 28 Juni, 1847 (Berlin. DUMMLER). In this work, as well as in the German Mythology, by the same author, and in RUDOLF ROTH'S "Litteratur und Geschichte des Veda" (Stuttgart, 1846), the reader will find, as also in the works of the elder CATO and PLINY, numbers of these incantations.
55:1 The divination by the running brook has been known in other lands. The Highlanders when they consulted an oracle took their seer, wrapped him in the hide of a newly-killed ox or sheep, and left him in some wild ravine by a roaring torrent to pass the night. From such sights and sounds there resulted impressions which were reflected in his dreams (Vide Scott, "Lady of the Lake," and notes). The fact that running water often makes sounds like the human voice has been observed by the Algonkin Indians of Maine and Nova Scotia (Vide "The Algonkin Legends of New England," by Charles G. Leland).