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WE are told in the Heimskringla, an early history of Norway, that when Ragnhild, the wife of King Halfdan the Swarthy, was with child she dreamed marvellous dreams. Once she seemed to be standing in a garden trying to take a thorn out of her chemise, but the thorn grew in her hand until it was like a long spindle. One end of it took root in the earth, while the other shot

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up into a great tree, so high that her eye could scarcely reach the top of it. The lower part of the trunk was red as blood, further up it was green and fair, while the branches were white as snow. They were of very unequal size, and it seemed to her that they spread out over the whole kingdom of Norway.

King Halfdan hearing this wished to dream also, to further explain the mystery. He consulted a magician, who told him that the sure way to have truly prophetic dreams was to sleep in a pigsty. The king did so, and dreamed that his hair grew to be very long and beautiful. It fell in bright locks about his head and shoulders, but they were of unequal length and colour; and one lock was longer, brighter, and more beautiful than the others. This was interpreted to mean that a mighty race of kings should spring from him, though they would be unequal in fame. The largest lock was in after days, according to Snorro Sturleson, supposed to indicate Olof the Saint. As for the queen she bore a son, Harold, who became famous for his long locks whence he was called Harold Harfagr, or, Harold the Fair-haired.

The belief that prophetic dreams can be secured by sleeping in a pig-pen is widely spread. The Roumanians and so-called Saxons, and probably all the Slavonian and gypsy inhabitants of Hungary, are familiar with it. Therefore I was not astonished when on asking my fortune-teller from the Tuscan Romagna whether people ever slept in a stalla di maiale, or pig-pen, she at once replied that per avere un vero sogno--to have a true dream-it was the most approved method known, and proceeded to explain how it should be done, in these words:--


"To learn the future in a dream one must sleep in a pigsty, and above all be sure that the pen is occupied by a maiala incinta o gravida--a sow with young. And he must sleep alla boccone, that is on his face, and crouched up, or else flat on his back, but not on his side. And before going to sleep he must say:--

"'Mi addormento
Per fare un buon sogno,
Sant' Antonio che siete
Sopra i maiale,
Fate mi la grazia
Che possa fare
Un buon sogno,
Secondo il mio desidirio!'

"'I sleep that I may
Have a propitious dream.
Saint Antonio who art
Placed over the pigs
Grant me the grace,
That I may have a good dream,
Such as I desire!')

"And doing this he will surely see in a dream that which will set forth or explain what he wishes to know."


p. 253

"In Germany," says De Gubernatis, "common people often go to sleep on Christmas Day in the pigsty, hoping to dream there; and this dream is the presage of good luck. The new sun is born in the sty of the winter hog."

It is worth observing that as everything which was connected with generation or begetting, such as life, love, revival, birth, fruitfulness, and coupling of the sexes, was associated with light and reviving springtime, therefore the pig, though it was as a wild boar a symbol of death and darkness, yet because it is enormously prolific "and one of the most libidinous of animals, was sacred to Venus, and for this reason, according to the Pythagoreans, lustful men are transformed into hogs " (De Gubernatis, vol. ii., p. 6). In fact the pudendum fem. itself, as a symbol of




fruitfulness, was known as a pig, and has for this reason always been worn as a charm for luck. The cowrie shell, from its resemblance to the same organ was also called a pig, and is extensively used at the present day in the East as a charm against the evil eye. In Varro (De re Rustica, ii. 4) we read:--


"Nuptiarum initio, antiqui reges ac sublimes viri in Hetruria in conjunctione nuptiali nova nupta, et novus maritus primum porcum immolant; prisci quoque Latini et etiam Græci in Italia fecisse videntur, nam et nostræ mulieres, maxime nutrices naturam, qua fœminæ sunt, in virginibus appellant porcum, et Græce choiron, significantes esse dignum insigni nuptiarum."


As sleeping in a pigsty gives true dreams, so the pig seems of old in many lands to have been closely allied to truth, for Romans, Scandinavians, and Germans all swore by it (Livius, i., 24; Mome, Geschichte des Heidenthums, i., p. 259; Claudius Paradinus Symbola heroica (Antwerp, 1583), p. 8. Also in the Hervor Saga, King Heidreck swears by a boar, the symbol sacred to Frey. The pig was so generally

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used in sacrifices, and was so closely connected with mysteries and holy rites, that a German, Casselius, published a work on the subject--De Sacrificiis porcinis in cultu deorum veterum, Bremen, 1769. For much erudition on the subject of swine in ancient mythology and legend the reader may consult Die Symbolik und Mythologie der Natur, von J. B. Friedrich. Wurzburg, 1859. It is not generally known that the reason which the Turks give for not eating pork is that all living things were converted to Mahometanism except the pig, who remained a heathen. And in the Netherlands the peasants have a proverb of "the pig under the barrel," which refers to the Jews refraining from "the unclean beast," and tell a story accounting for it:--


"When Christ once went to Flanders the Jews ridiculed His teaching, and to test His wisdom they hid one of their number under a barrel, and asked Him what was there; and He answered, "A pig." So they laughed Him to scorn. But lo! when they lifted the barrel, there was their friend changed into a hog. And he ran forth and mingled with the other swine, and because the Jews could not pick him out, to this day they have eaten no pork for fear of devouring him or his descendants."


There is another old and curious Norse story of dreaming in a pig-pen. When Earl Haakon was fleeing (A.D. 995), from his subjects, who had risen in rebellion, he went with a single thrall, a slave named Kark, who had been his playmate from his boyhood, to his mistress Thora of Rimul. And she hid the two in a deep ditch under her pigsty. This was covered over with boards and earth, and the pigs were over it.


"Then came Olaf Tryggvesson, of the race of Harold the Fair-haired, to Rimul to seek and slay Haakon. And calling his men together he mounted a great stone close to the pigsty and declared in a loud voice that he would give a great reward to any one who would find the earl and slay him.

"The earl heard this, and saw that the thrall Kark was listening eagerly.

"'Why art thou now so pale,' asked the earl, 'and now again as black as earth? Is it that thou wilt betray me?'

"'No,' replied Kark.

"'We were both born in the same night,' said the earl, 'and our deaths will not be far apart.'

"They sat in silence. At last Kark slept, but he tossed and talked in his steep. The earl waked him, and asked what he had dreamed.

"'I dreamed,' answered Kark, 'that we were both on board a ship, and that I stood at the helm.'

"'That must mean that thou rulest over thy own life as well as mine. Be faithful to me and I will reward thee when better times come.'

"Once more the thrall fell asleep, and had a nightmare. The earl woke him again, and asked him his dream.

"'I thought I was at Hlode,' said Kark, 'and Olaf Tryggvesson put a golden ring about my neck.'

"'The meaning of that,' said the earl, 'is that Olaf will put a red ring about thy neck if thou goest to seek him. Therefore beware of him, and be true to me.'

"But when the earl fell asleep Kark slew his master with his knife, thrusting it into his throat. Soon after he came to Olaf with Haakon's head, and claimed the reward promised. But Olaf verified the murdered man's prophecy. He put, not a ring of gold, but one of blood round Kark's neck, for he beheaded him.

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"For though Haakon Jarlo Earl Haco had been his bitterest foe, and done him great evil all his life long, he little liked it that so great a man should be treacherously slain by a slave whom he had ever treated kindly. And as the saga ends:--

"Oc er Olafr kiendi thetta var hofut Hakonar Jarlo, tha reddist ban thrælnum, oc bad han uppfesta, oc sagdi hann hofa skild maklig laun, fyri sin Drottin svik. Sveik hann Hakon Jarl, svikia. mann hann mik, ef han ma. Enn sua skal leida drottins svikun."




"And when Olaf knew that it was the head of Earl Haakon he was enraged at the thrall, and ordered him to be hanged, and said, 'He shall have evil boot for betraying his master. For if he deceived Earl Haakon so would he betray me if he could--and so shall all treason to a master be rewarded.'"


As we are influenced by surroundings, it is natural that certain places should have been chosen to dream in. "We have read," says Pico de Mirandola in his Witch, "that the physicians of Calabria and Taurus were wont to sleep in the sepulchre of Podalirius, and others in that of Esculapius." A pig-pen is, however, several degrees removed from a temple, or even a tomb. As the former seems to be distinctly Northern, it may have come into the Romagna from the Lombards. It may be observed that it is only in the Italian traditions that the minutiæ of the ceremony are given. The presence of the sow with pig is significant. It was by a prediction referring to such a sow that Odin caused himself to be suspected by King Heidreck in the Hervor Saga.

But not long after I had written the foregoing remarks, I came across a certain passage in the Symbolik of Creuzer (whom, by the way, I knew in Heidelberg in 1847), which seems to cast much light on this connection of the pig-pen with the temple. 1

"Unto Demeter or Ceres pregnant sows were specially offered in sacrifice, as Cornutus, the Stoic, who lived sixty-eight years after Christ, informs us, as does Arnobius (Disput. adversus Gentes, edit. Elmenhorst, p. 135), adding that it was because of the great fertility of this animal." Therefore it came to pass that pigs were kept in the cellars of the temple of Ceres and Proserpine, as Creuzer relates: "In honour of these goddesses the Böotians put little pigs into subterranean chapels, which the next year were seen in the meadows of Dodona. Pausanias and Clemens Alexandrinus speaks of the same thing as observed in other places." 2 Ceres was pre-eminently a goddess of fertility, therefore of good luck and all genial influences; hence little gold and silver pigs were offered to her, and also worn by Roman ladies, partly to insure pregnancy, and partly for luck-a custom

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which was revived as a fashion a few years ago in Paris, and a very funny one it was when adopted by unmarried virgins. Of which gold and silver pig-norance some note has been taken in a French novel, entitled Le Cochon d'Or.

It is remarkable that the Italian superstition requires that there must be in the pig-pen a sow with young. According to Aristophanes, the sacrifice of the sow must be made when any one was initiated into the mysteries. For information on this subject consult also Bayerische Sagen und Bräuche, Beitrag zur Deutschen Mythologie, von Friedrich Panzer. München, 1848.

From what is here cited it appears that of old people slept in certain temples of the gods to have true dreams, and that these temples were used partially as pig-pens. And this much seems to be certain, that Ceres was greatly consulted by means of dreams, and that this dreaming was specially in her temples in which pigs were kept.


"Cur hederâ cincta est? hedera est gratissima Baccho,
Hoc quoque, curita sit, dicere nulla mora est.
Nysiades Nymphæ puerum quærente noverâ
Hanc frondem cunis apposuêre novis."

                                   OVID, Fasti. iii

The first of the medical magical cures of MARCELLUS of Bordeaux is as follows:--


"Herba in capite statuæ cujus libet nasci solet, ea decrescente luna, sublata capitique circumligata dolorem tollit."

("If grass growing on the head of any statue be plucked in the waning of the moon and taken away, be bound about the head, it removes pain.")


The sixth is much the same:--


Herba vel hedera in capite statuæ cujus libet nasci solet, ea si in panno rufo ligata capiti vel temporibus alligetur, mirum remedium hemicraniæ vel heterocraniæ prestabit."

(" If grass or ivy grows on the head of any statue and it be gathered and tied in a red cloth to the head or temples, it will be a marvellous remedy for headache or neuralgia.")


I inquired for a long time in Florence before I found the following cure for a headache. It was not only repeated to me, but also written:--


"When you take grass from the head of a statue to cure a headache you must say:--


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"'Non prendo l'erba,
Ma prendo la magia
Che il mal di capo mi vada via,
E chi mi ha dato la malia
Il diavolo la porta via.'

"And then you must make le carne (the sign of the horns or jettatura) behind you."


That is to say, cast it in the old Roman fashion over your right shoulder. In English this is:--


"I do not take the grass or ivy,
But I take the magic power,
That the headache may leave me,
And may the devil carry away
The one who gave it to me!"


Now it may be observed that whenever any of these magical prescriptions are wanting, as regards an incantation, they are always imperfect.

MARCELLUS, as the imperial court physician, probably did not obtain his prescriptions very accurately from the people. I am quite sure that this Italian incantation is far older than the third century. It is in the same form as many others; but what is most conclusive, it assumes, as a matter of course, that even a headache must be the result of evil magic. This is the very oldest form of sorcery.

I have no doubt that Ivy was the original plant used in this cure. In early religious symbolism, as wreathing the head of Bacchus, it meant life itself, and that very deeply and significantly. Therefore, when it was found growing of itself on a statue, it was of course supposed to be very effective. The early Christians borrowed much from the Dionysiacs--among other things, the Ivy. They laid it in coffins as a symbol of new life in Christ. 1

I have said that ivy on the head of a statue was especially typical of health and life in Roman symbolism. It also signified on any head--as a garland, a fillet, or wreath-poetry, inspiration, or active genius. As appears from the following from Ovid:--

p. 258


"Siquis habes nostris similes in imagine vultus,
Deme meis hederas Bacchica serta comis,
Ista decent lætos felicia signa poetas,
Temporibus non est apta corona meis."

                                       Tristium, lib. i., cl. 6


Of which crowning with ivy or roses, and many other customs, it can be truly said that we know very little as regards all the feeling, sentiment, and associations which attached to them in the days of yore.

It is remarkable that, according to the very ancient and widely-spread tradition, any plant which grows off, away from, or above the earth, is believed to have magic or healing virtues, or to be spirit-haunted. The mistletoe, from its aerial nature, became almost the centre of Druid observance, and moss has many mysteries. The house-leek--in German Hauswurz or Donnerkraut--is believed to guard a house from lightning (Grimm, D. M., 2 ed. B. 1, s. 445)--the mountain-ash being also dedicated to Thor, or thunder. But remember that whenever you see grass or herbage, ivy or flowers, on old walls or ruins grey, there the owls wone, and elves and fairies delight to dwell or dance, or pass the time, as has been so well approved by much observation that to deny it were enough to deny all testimony of tradition. So rest ye firm in the faith that wherever--


"High on the towers
Grow beautiful flowers,
    Wall-flowers, ivy and grass
There in the light
Of a moonshine night
    You can see the fairies pass."


"Flevit lepus parvulus
Clamans altis vocibus,
Quid feci hominibus:
Ut me sequuntur canibus?"
                         German Latin Song, Twelfth Century

"First catch your hare . . . "
                           Attributed, wrongly, to Mrs. Glasse


There is among the spells Of MARCELLUS one (84, GRIMM) to relieve the coli dolor--inflammation of the colon, possibly here the colic--which is very curious:--

"Lepori vivo talum abstrahes, pilos ejus de sub ventre tolles atque ipsum vivum dimittes. De illis pilis vel lana filum validum facies, et ex eo, talum leporis conligabis corpusque laborantis præcinges: miro remedio


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subvenies. Efficacius tamen erit remedium, ita ut incredibile sit, si casu os ipsum, id est talum leporis in stercore lupi inveneris, quod ita custodire debes, ne aut terram tangat aut a muliere contingatur, sed nec filum illud de lana leporis debet mulier ulla contingere. Hoc autem remedium cum uni profuerit ad alios translatum cum volueris, et quotiens volueris proderit. Filum quoque, quod ex lana vel pilis, quos de ventre leporis tulis, solus purus et nitidus facies, quod si ita ventri laborantis subligaveris plurimum proderit, ut sublata lana leporem vivum dimittas et dicas ei, dum dimittis eum:--

"'Fuge, fuge lepuscule!
Et tecum aufer dolorem!'"

("Take from a live hare the ankle-bone (or heel-bone), remove the hair from his belly, and let him go alive. From that hair, or fur, make a thread, and with it bind the bone to the body of the sufferer, and you will see a wonderful cure. But the remedy will be more efficacious--yea, incredible--should you by chance find that bone in the dung of a wolf. In which case so guard it that it shall not touch the earth nor be touched by a woman, nor should any woman touch the thread made of the hare's wool. But the remedy may be transferred from one to another patient as often as you will. But carefully wash the thread, every time, for more avail. And when you shall have shorn it away, let the hare run away alive and say:--

"'Run, run little hare
And carry the colic with you!'")


The following prescription is given word for word as it was told me in Florence:--


"Take or catch a hare without doing it the least harm and say:--

"'Lepre vi prendo,
Ti porto a casa mia,
Che tu mi porti
La buona fortuna,
Fa porti via la male di . . .'

("'Hare, I take you,
I bear you to my home,
That you may bring me
A good fortune;
Bear away the illness of . . .")
[Here the name of the patient is mentioned.]

"And when the hare is carried home you must cut, or shave, away its fur in the form of a cross. And this done, hold the hare towards the invalid with a third person, and put it on the neck of the one who suffers. Then let the hare run away, making the sign of the chestnut (or la fica), saying:--

"'Vai! e la malora
E il male tu possa portarlo con te
E lasciarci noi
Tutti in liberta,
Colla buona salute!


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("'Go! and mayst thou bear
All the trouble and ill with thee
And leave us free
With good health.')

"Then spit behind you thrice, and look not behind you, and go not out from the house for three-quarters of an hour."


I have no doubt that the incantation on catching the hare is as old as the rest, but was unknown to Marcellus. The cutting the fur away in the form of a cross is evidently modern. The spitting thrice and the sign of the castagna are old Roman, and formed a part of all such ceremonies. It will be seen that all of the Roman prescription is given in the Italian version, the concluding incantations being almost identical. I suspect that Marcellus really abridged most of his accounts. They may have been at first hurriedly noted down, and transcribed a long time after from the notes. GRIMM, in fact, points out, with much sagacity, that they bear evidences of copying. It is, indeed, not in the nature of things that such a troublesome task as catching and shaving a hare, and extracting the talus, &c., should have been " worked off," or dismissed, so abruptly as Marcellus describes it.

There is not a negro in North America, and I suppose very few white men, who have not heard that the fore-foot of a rabbit (the hare being there unknown), is a charm for luck. The fore-foot. brings fortune, the hind-foot prevents evil from overtaking the bearer. This world-old, widely-spread belief owes its origin to a faith in the talus, or ankle-bone. I possess specimens of these amulets, or fetishes. which were obtained from Voodoo sorcerers by Miss Mary Owen, of Saint Joseph, Missouri.

All mediæval magic, as well as Roman, abounds in allusions to the effect that while engaged in incantation the operator must not look behind him. And if a traveller be followed by an evil spirit or fiend, the latter will have no power over him until he "turns around his head."

The injunction not to look behind one involves some very curious and very ancient lore. In Tuscany if one gathers ashes or other objects for magic, he or she in departing must not look round. So in Theocritus (Idyl 91), on gathering ashes such retrospection is forbidden. Also Virgil (Eclogue 8) writes:--


"Fers cineris Amarylli foras, rivoque fluenti
Transque caput jace ne respexeris."


HILDEBRAND (Theurgia, p. 29.7) tells a marvellous tale, how a young man of noble birth was tormented by demons. His guardian angel promised him that if he would pray to God, not drink with the devils, and not once look behind him,

p. 261

bey Verlust seines Lebens--on his life, and could hold out till cock-crow, he would be all right. Which so happened. PRÆTORIUS, who gives several pages to the subject "Why witches when riding on their brooms must not look behind them lest they fall off"--which it seems is a condition of broom and goat-riding (Blocksberg, p. 414)--very shrewdly conjectures that Satan got the idea from Lot's wife. This not turning round is probably connected with the unbroken attention or unintermitted thought which enters largely into all execution of spells. When the witch's attention is distracted by intricate patterns, grains, or by songs, her evil power for the time is suspended.


"L'araignée est un signe de bonheur et annonce particulierement de l'argent pour la personne sur laquelle est trouvè."

As is very natural, the spider appears in Folk-lore as both bad and good, lucky and unlucky. From its ugliness and poison it is an emblem of enmity and hatred. "The Tarantula causes by its bite a species of madness, which, according to popular superstition, can only be cured by dancing." For this cure there is a physical explanation. Violent exercise often works off ill humours in the blood. A typhoid fever may be averted by hard labour. In Western America a man bitten by a rattlesnake must drink all the whiskey he can swallow, and run or walk till he drops with fatigue. Thus the Tarantella is a well-known dance, which popular superstition assigns to witches. It is the awakening dance at their Treguenda, or Sabbat.

There is a legend which states that this Tarantella dance originated as follows: A priest bearing the sacrament passed by a party of dancers who did not salute it. So he caused them to dance on and more madly than ever (Naturgeschichte zur Dämpfung des Aberglaubens (Hamburg, 1793), p. 102). But while there are many legends of evil spirits appearing as spiders, on the other hand the extraordinary instinct, or ingenuity displayed by the insect in making its web, and its habit of always being in one place at home, and its foresight as regards the weather, have made it a generally recognised symbol for industry, cleverness, domestic steady habits, and prophecy. Therefore it brings good luck, and is a type of thrift and wealth. If a spider creeps over you and you do it no harm "there is money coming." Again, its wonderful perseverance in re-spinning its web, or in getting to a predetermined place, has pointed many a moral and adorned many a tale from the days of the Bruce to these our own times.

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Of course it found a place in magical medicine. MARCELLUS (cap. 14, p. 104) gives the following:--


"Araneam quæ sursum versus subit et taxit prendes, et nomen ejus dices cui medendum erit, et adjicies: Sic cito subeat uva ejus--quem nomino, quomodo aranea haec sursum repit et texit, tum ipsam araneam in chartam virginem lino ligabis et collo laborantis suspendes die Jovis, sed dum prendes araneam vel phylacterium, alligas ter in terram spues."


Which is to the effect that when you see a spider weaving upwards, you name your invalid, and take the spider, and put it in a bag of virgin linen, and hang it round the neck of the patient, but while taking and bagging your spider, spit thrice on the ground.  1

All of which is nearly the same in Tuscany, but with it there must be pronounced the following incantation:--

"Ragno, o mio bel ragno;
Benedetto che tu sia!
La tela che tu fai,
Lascia la in casa mia,
La tela che tu fai,
Falla con buona fortuna,
E con malissima fortuna,
E che la fortuna resti in casa mia,
Quando la tela l'hai fatta,
Vattene o ragno mio!
Ma non di casa mia,
Vattene dalla tela,
Che tu mi hai fatto,
Mi hai fatto con buona fortuna;
E io la prendero
In un sacchetto di lana rosso la mettero.
E dentro un marengo d'oro vi uniro,
E cosi sempre più buona fortuna io l'avro,
E questo sacchetino
Come un oracolo la terro,
E la terro dentro al seno,
E mai più lo lasciero!"

("Spider, O my pretty spider,
Blessed be thou!
The web which thou weavest,
Leave it in my house!

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The web which thou makest
Make it lucky (with good fortune),
Or with the worst fortune.
And may the luck abide in my house,
When thy web is spun
Leap out, O my spider
But not from my house.
Go from thy web,
Which thou hast woven for me,
Which thou hast made with good luck,
And I will take it,
I will put it in a bag of red woollen!
And there with a golden spangle,
Thus I shall ever have good luck,
And this bag
I will always keep as an oracle,
I will keep it within my bosom,
And I will never leave it!")


This incantation speaks of putting the web and not the spider in a bag of red woollen. But MARCELLUS in other cases orders the red woollen bag. As for the spitting thrice on the ground, it is a common formula at the end of many Tuscan incantations. I may say that it and the sign of the fica, also of the jettatura, go ad libitum with all of them.

There is no proof, but there is always a possibility, that all these modern incantations may be translations from the Latin, while it is almost certain that the Latin were in turn taken from the Etruscan, or Oscan, or some early tongue. If so, future researches into the earliest languages of Italy may verify the assertion.

As regards the web of the spider, there is a pretty German fancy that when the Virgin Mary ascended to heaven, her veil, falling off, was carried about and torn to pieces by the winds. Therefore the silvery spider-webs which are seen in summer floating in the air are called Mariengarn, or Mary's yarn, or that which is spun.

It is worth noting that in SCOTT'S novel of Waverley, Meg Merrilies while braiding differently coloured threads in a charm-which custom still exists in Italy--sings:--

"Twist ye, twine ye even so,
Mingle threads of joy and woe!"

And that this is almost exactly the same with a passage in the Tuscan incantation to the spider:

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"La tela che tu fai
Fa la con buona fortuna
E con malissima fortuna!"

The spider is, according to several learned authorities, often carried in Germany in a walnut-shell as an amulet, and then, after several years, it turns to a gem. The explanation of this is that, as the yolk of a very hard-boiled egg, if kept for several years, becomes almost like a stone, so the mass of substance from which a spider spins her web hardens to a semi-transparent ball. Here I may remark that wherever we find any such superstitious custom followed without an incantation, we may be sure that it is imperfect, for in early times nothing was " locked," or made sure, without its charm. In Tuscany this spider spell exists in its ancient form, and I here give it literally in nuce-in a nut-shell:--


"Do you want a charm to bring good fortune or much money? This is the way to make it--the more you believe in it the better your luck will be: Take a great spider. Si mette in una nuoce--you put it into a walnut-shell; and, if you can get it, let this be a walnut-shell of three pieces--una nuoce a tre canti--and put with the spider, comigno--cummin--frankincense, and salt, and a little bit of a red (woollen) garment, and a bit of iron magnet. Then close the shell, glue it up, and say:--

"'Non porta nuoce,
    Ma porto la fortuna,
Che non mi abbandone mai!'"

("'I do not bear the nut,
    But I carry the good luck,
That it never may leave me!'")

This is an extremely curious and ancient formula of declaring that whatever one does is not to stop at a certain point. By means of it almost any action is turned into magic. Thus to find and pick up anything, at once converts it into a fetish, or insures that all will go well with it if we say when taking it: "I do not pick up",--naming the object--"I pick up good luck, which may never abandon me!" It is an incantation of universal application, enabling one to secure a wish out of every chance occurrence.

The spider is also used in divination. I find the following in a popular chapbook:--


"Il Ragno Industrioso. In the Book of Dreams, and in the works of the famous cabalists Rutilio Benicosa, Casamia, l'Indovino, Il Palmaverde, Nostradamus, and the ancient Sybils or Haruspices, we often find methods of divining the secret of getting numbers by the lottery. Among the many extraordinary experiments made, the most singular is that by means of the spider.

"Take one of these insects-let it be very large-and put it, without hurting it, in a little box, on the bottom of which are many small pieces of paper, numbered from one to ninety. Cover it with a transparent veil, and give the spider time to weave a web.


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"Naturally the insect in going here and there will turn up certain numbers. These must be noted. Do this three times, and then let the spider go. Many have won lucky numbers in the lottery by means of this experiment."


It may be observed that it is necessary to the success of this sortilege that we let the spider go. So in several of the charms Of MARCELLUS, the animal used in such spells must be dismissed in safety--Ecce dimitto te vivam!

The spider, it may be observed, can also be used for other divination as well as for lucky numbers in the lottery. Thus, if you write "Yes" or "No," she will turn up for you an affirmative or negative for any question, or select the names of friends or enemies, or pick out lucky days.

But there is an appalling and revolting side to the character of the spider. All the spinners whom we see are females. The male is a little insignificant creature, in no proportion as regards size or strength to his mate, who, indeed, very often devours him as if he were a midget. But he is impelled by an irresistible impulse to couple with her, and, when she consents, and the liaison is accomplished, he is eaten whole for dessert. Sometimes the Arachne eats a number of suitors before yielding; so that every web is really a Tour de Nesle. There is a class of women in Paris--not unknown elsewhere-of any one of whom one may hear it said, in tribute to her irresistible sorcery of charms, "Elle a mangée sept hommes"--i.e., ruined seven spendthrifts. Of whom the type is the spider.

Therefore the spider is revolting. She is poisonous, crafty, remorseless, a cannibal of her kind, and always horribly--morally--ugly. There is a very deep significance in the fact, which I speak of in another chapter, that there is some higher law than mere chance, or our own associations, in this making poisonous, repulsive, and discordant things show their nature by certain signs, or why sounds agree with the forms from which they came, and that there is something strangely human in the expression of not only flowers, but of innumerable phenomena. From which it may justly be inferred that there are in all objects certain phases of sensation, feeling, emotion, or a kind of thought, of which we have as yet no real conception. There are spirits in all things--but how we know not.


"An old lizard said to me, 'Nothing in this world ever goes backwards. All pushes ever onward--stones become plants, plants become animals, animals become human beings, and human beings gods.'

"'And what becomes of the old gods?'

"' 'Twill all be arranged,' quoth the lizard."--HEINE'S Pictures of Travel

Among his prescriptions for disorders of the eyes, MARCELLUS gives one to the

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effect that we should take a green lizard, blind it with a copper needle, and put it into a glass vase, with rings of gold or silver, iron, amber, or even copper--aut etiam cupreis--then plaster it up--deinde vas gypsabis. Open it on the fifth or seventh day, and you will find the lizard--sanis luminibus--with his eyes well again. Then you let him go away, but keep the rings and wear them, and touch the eyes with them; but especially you must look sometimes through the hole or circle of the ring. 1

When an old woman in Florence was asked if she knew this spell, she said "Yes," adding that it was, however imperfect, because the incantation was wanting. This she supplied in these words:--


"Quando la lucertola si leva del vaso e si manda via, si dice:--

"'Lucertola, va via!
E il veleno portate lo via,
Ma indietro non ti rivoltare,
Che il mal d'occhi non mi debba ritornare."


In English:--


"'When the lizard runs, say:-
Lizard, run away!
Carry the poison (disease) away,
And till thou comest again,
May the trouble of my eyes never return!'"


There is very good reason to believe that this spell is old Roman-Etruscan. Firstly, there are other incantations in MARCELLUS, in which some animal is caught and made to bear a disorder, and then dismissed with an injunction. But, secondly, MARCELLUS gives another medical charm for liver complaint:--


"Take a green lizard--et de acuta parte canna jœur ei tolle--and put him in a red woollen or naturally black bag, and hang it on the part afflicted; then let the lizard go; but say to him: 'Ecce dimitto te vivam, vide ut ego quemcunque hinc tetigero epar non doleat!' ('Behold, I send thee away alive; see that I, whenever I touch this, may be free from pain in the liver.')"


All things considered, this is quite enough to form almost an identity with the Italian charm.

It is certain that by rings MARCELLUS here means also beads. What renders

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this certain is, that he says some may be of amber. Now it is very remarkable that to this day, all over the world, amber beads are carried by people for weak eyes, and it is essential that they should be looked through, to strengthen the sight. I have a string of fifty-two amber beads, at least one hundred and fifty years old. There were twice as many, but the rest were given away, one by one, to people in Pennsylvania, suffering from their eyes. The old Etruscan spell of the lizard has been forgotten, save in Tuscany; but the belief in the amber bead survives.

The connection of amber with the eyes is very ancient. It was supposed to be wept by the sun--i.e., it came from the eyes of the Eye of the Universe. A later myth makes it come from the tears of the Heliades, who so regretted their brother Phaeton. Moore refers to this in his poem, "Farewell to thee, Araby's daughter."

Lizards are sometimes found with two tails, as is mentioned in MARYATT'S Pasha with many Tales. I find the following in my manuscript collection of Tuscan Folk-lore:--


"If one can have a lizard with two tails, and will always carry it, it will be very fortunate--,parla una immensa fortuna. It is sure that if he plays he can never lose; mai altro--quite the contrary, he will always win, and be lucky in all things."


MARCELLUS gives another prescription relating to the lizard, as follows (cap. 29):--


"Lacerturn viridem, quem, Græci σαι~ρον {Greek sai~ron} vocant, capies per ejus oculos acum cupream cum licio quam longo volueris trajicies, perforatisque oculis cum ibidem loci ubi ceperas dimittes, ac turn filum præcantabis dicens:--

"'Trebio, potnia, telapho.'

Hoc, ter dicens filum munditer recondes, cumque dolor colici alicujus urgebit, præcinges eum totum super umbilicum et ter dicas carmen supra scriptum."


In this the eyes of the lizard are blinded, as before, with a copper needle and thread, then the lizard is dismissed and the thread is enchanted with three magic words. The thread is then bound about the patient suffering from colic. What the three words mean I do not know. But the manifest conclusion is that the spell is of old Etruscan origin, and the modern Tuscan charm is, on the whole, identical with it.

MARCELLUS (cap. 23, p. 166) gives another charm with a green lizard:--


"Lacerta viridis viva in ostio splenitei ante cubiculum ejus suspenditur, ita ut procedens et rediens eam semper manu sinistra et capite contingat, quo facto mire ad sanitatem proficiet."


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That is, the lizard must be hung up alive in the door before the bed of the sufferer from the spleen, so that he may touch it while going out or in. "Which being done, wonderfully conduces to health."

The-same thing is done at present in Tuscany, but I was told that the chief condition is here wanting. It must be a lizard with two tails.

The reason why the lizard is connected with the sight and light is to be found in ancient symbolism. For it was believed that when the lizard became old and blind it went into the sunlight and recovered its sight. And as an old book on animals deduces, "Therefore man, who is blinded by sin, should turn to Christ who is the true Sun." For which reason RAPHAEL painted a lizard with the Virgin in the celebrated Madonna della lucertola (KUGLER, Handbuch der Geschichte der Malerei, 1837, vol. i., p. 248). It was also a type of divination as well as of light, whence it was a symbol of Apollo, the god of light Galeotes (lizard), the Sicilian soothsayer, was begotten by Apollo on Themisto ( θεμιστεια {Greek ðemisteia}), or Prophecy (ÆLIAN, xii., 46; also CICERO, De divinat, i., 20). Hence the connection with amber, "the tears of the sun," and its use as a cure for the eyes.

It was because the lizard was anciently a symbol of heat and light that the salamander, which is a yellowish brown lizard, was supposed to live in fire. This was not, however, a common salamander, such as Heine, when a boy, once burned, but a very different and spiritual kind of creature, of the same form, which dwelt habitually in the flame, and such as was seen once by Benevenuto Cellini, who tells us that on the occasion his father gave him very solemnly a good whipping to make him remember it. Of which, as I have remarked in my translation of Heine's Germany1 the same flagellation to prevent him from lying would not have been misapplied.

As the lizard is such a bright, uncanny, lively, odd, and wild little creature, flitting like a green gold-spotted ray of light over grey rocks, as if endowed with strange intelligence, it is not remarkable that many have seen in it an elf which sometimes takes human form. Which came unto me in a waking dream as follows, as I watched them to-day in the garden at Via Reggio:--


"As I rode by the night o'er the brown heath bare,
In the bright moonlight stood a castle fair;
Lords and ladies, great and small,
Were crowding in to a festival,
Grass in the wind a-waving.


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They bade me enter, and in I went,
I drank good wine to my heart's content,
I laughed and danced with ladies fair,
Ne'er in my life had I such cheer;
Grass in the wind a-waving.

When all at once I heard a cry:
Haro by yaro! Asleep fell I,
While the lady dancing by my side
Seemed like a lizard away to glide;
Grass in the wind a-waving.

I woke in the early morning still,
In an old grey ruin on a hill,
Over the rock and in the sun,
I saw a golden lizard run!
And grass in the wind a-waving!"



255:1 L. Annæus Cornutus de natura deorum, 211, pub. by Fr. Osann, 1844

255:2 Pausanii De. Græciæ, lib. ix., c. 8

257:1 "Hedera quoque vel laurus et hujusmodi: quæ semper servant vivorem in sarcophago corpori substernantur ad significandum, quod qui moriantur in Christo, vivere non desinant, nam licet mundo noriantur secundum corpus, tamen secundum animam vivunt et reviviscunt in Deo."--DURANDUS, Ration. Div. Offic., lib, vii., c. 35

262:1 The spiders that come to your house (so says the negro), indicate the number of your friends. If you kill a spider you will certainly lose a friend. At the same time, certain kinds of spiders cooked in the food are supposed to cause death. "A spider in the dumpling " is a name for secret poisoning. Spider-webs are found on the bodies of feeble babies.--Note by MARY A. OWEN

266:1 Mr. Neville told me the Cingalese kill a lizard over a slow fire, and the froth that runs from its eyes is a cure for sore eyes.--Note by MARY A. OWEN

268:1 Vide Germany, by Heinrich Heine, translated, with notes, by Charles G. Leland. London: W. Heinemann. 1872

Next: Part Two: Chapter II--BIRDS AND TREASURES