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Gypsy Sorcery and Fortune Telling, by Charles Godfrey Leland, [1891], at

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THOUGH not liable to many disorders, the gypsies in Eastern Europe, from their wandering, out-of-doors life, and camping by marshes and pools where there is malaria, suffer a great deal from fevers, which in their simple system of medicine are divided into the shilalei.e., chills or cold—and the tate shilalyi, "hot-cold," or fever and ague. For the former, the following remedy is applied: Three lungs and three livers, of frogs are dried and powdered and drunk in spirits, after which the sick man or woman says

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"Čuckerdya pal m're per
Čáven save miseçe!
Čuckerdya pal m're per
Den miseçeske drom odry prejiál!

"Frogs in my belly
Devour what is bad
Frogs in my belly
Show the evil the way out!"

By "the evil" is understood evil spirits. According to the old Shamanic belief, which was the primæval religion of all mankind, every disease is caused by an evil spirit which enters the body and can only be driven out by magic. We have abundant traces of this left in our highest civilization and religion among people who gravely attribute every evil to the devil instead of the unavoidable antagonisms of nature. Nothing is more apparent in the New Testament than that all diseases were anciently regarded as coming from devils, or evil occult, spiritual influences, their negative or cure being holiness in some form. This the Jews, if they did not learn it from the Assyrians in the first place, had certainly studied deeply in Babylon, where it formed the great national cult. "It was the devil put it into my head," says the criminal; and there is not a point of this old sorcery which is not earnestly and seriously advocated by the Roman Catholic Church and the preachers of the Salvation Army. Among the American Red Indians the idea of evil spirits is carried to logical extremes. If a pen drops from our fingers, or a penny rolls from our grasp, the former of course falls on our new white dress, while the latter nine times out of ten goes directly to the nearest grating, or crack or rat-hole. I aver that it is literally true, if I ever search for a letter or paper it is almost always at the bottom of the rest, while ink-wipers and pens seem to be endowed with more than mere instinct or reason—they manifest genius in concealing themselves. The Indians having observed this have come to the conclusion that it is all the work of certain

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busy little mischievous goblins, in which I, to a certain extent, agree with them, holding, however, that the dwelling-place of these devilkins, is in our own brain. What are our dreams but the action of our other mind, or a second Me in my brain? Certainly it is with no will or effort, or act of mine, that I go through a diabolical torturing nightmare, or a dreadful dream, whose elaborate and subtle construction betrays very often more ingenuity than I in my waking hours possess. I have had philosophical and literary dreams, the outlines of which I have often remembered waking, which far transcended anything of the kind which I could ever hope to write. The maker of all this is not I or my will, and he is never about, or on hand, when I am self-conscious. But in the inadvertent moments of oblivion, while writing, or while performing any act, this other I, or I's, (for there may be a multitude of them for aught I know) step in and tease—even as they do in dreams. Now the distinction between this of subjective demons acting objectively, and objective or outside spirits, is really too fine to be seen even by a Darwinian-Carpenterian-Häeckelite, and therefore one need not be amazed that PIEL SABADIS or TOMAQUAH, of the Passamaquoddy tribe, or OBEAH GUMBO of New Orleans, should, with these experiences, jump at ghosts and "gobblers," is not to be wondered at; still less that they should do something to conciliate or compel these haunting terrors, or "buggs," as they were once called—whence bogeys. It is a fact that if one's ink-wipers get into the habit of hiding all we have to do is to deliberately destroy them and get others, or at least watch them carefully, and they will soon be cured of wandering. On the other hand, sacrifices to conciliate and please naturally occur, and the more expensive these are the better are they supposed to be. And as human beings were of old the most valuable property, they were as naturally supposed to be most acceptable to the gods, or, by the monotheists, to God. A West Indian voodoo on being reproached for human sacrifices to the serpent, and for eating the bodies slain, replied, "Do you believe that the Son of God was sacrificed to save man, and do you not

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eat what your priests say is His very body?" So difficult is it to draw distinctions between that which is spiritual and the mockeries which appear to be such!

The scape-goat, or sufferer, who is martyred that many may escape—or in other words, the unfortunate minority—is a natural result of sacrifice. There is a curious trace of it in Hungarian Gypsy Shamanism. On Easter Monday they make a wooden box or receptacle which is called the bìcáben, pronounced like the English gypsy word bitchapen and meaning the same, that is—a sending, a thing sent or gift. In this, at the bottom, are two sticks across, "as in a cradle," and on these are laid herbs and other fetish stuff which every one touches with the finger; then the whole is enveloped in a winding of white and red wool, and carried by the oldest person of the tribe from tent to tent; after which it is borne to the next running stream and left there, after every one has spat upon it. By doing this they think that all the diseases and disorders which would have befallen them during the coming year are conjured into the box. But woe to him who shall find the box and open it, instead of throwing it at once into the stream! All the diseases exorcised by the gypsy band will fall upon him and his in full measure.

It would be an interesting question to know how many good people there are, let us say in London, who, if they had all opportunity to work off all their colds, gouts, scarlet-fevers, tooth- head- and stomach-aches, with the consequent doctors' bills, or all suffering and expenses, on some other family by means of secret sorcery, would or would not "try it on"? It is curious to observe the resemblance of the gypsy ceremony., with its box full of mischief, and the Jewish goat; not forgetting the red wool handed down from heathen sacrifice and sorcery of old. In the Bible white wool is the symbol of purification (Isaiah i. 18). The feet of the statues of the gods were enveloped in wool—Dü laneos habent pedes—to signify that they are slow to avenge, if sure. It is altogether an interesting object, this gypsy casket, and one would like to know

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what all the channels were through which the magic ran ere it carne to them.

Another cure against the fever is to go to a running stream and cast pieces of wood nine times backwards into the running water, repeating the rhymes:—

"Shilályi prejiá,
Páñori me tut 'dáv!
Náñi me tut kámáv
Andakode prejiá,
Odoy tut čučiden,
Odoy tut ferinen,
Odoy tut may kámen
Mashurdalo sastyár!"

Fever go away from me,
I give it, water, unto thee
Unto me thou art not dear,
Therefore go away from here
To where they nursed thee,
Where they shelter thee,
Where they love thee,

This is a very remarkable invocation which takes us into true heathenism. Mâshurdálo, or, correctly speaking, Mâshmurdálo (it would be Mâsmérdo in English gypsy), means meat-killer. He is a sylvan giant—he has his hold by wode and wolde as outlawes wont to do, in faraway forests and lonely rocky places, where he lurks to catch beast and men in order to devour them. It is needless to say to those who are aware that the taste of white people's flesh is like that of very superior chicken, and a negro's something much better than grouse, that Mâshmurdálo prefers, like a simple, unsophisticated savage as he is, men to animals. Like the German peasant who remarked, "It's all meat, anyhow," when he found a mouse in his soup, Mâshmurdálo is not particular. He is the guardian of great treasures; like most men in the "advance

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business" he knows where the "money" is to be found—unlike them he is remarkably stupid, and can be easily cheated of his valuables. But if anybody does this Morgante a service he is very grateful, and aids his benefactor either with a loan or with his enormous strength. In many respects he bears a remarkable resemblance to two giants in the American Algonkin mythology, especially to At-was-kenni ges—the Spirit of the Forest—who is equally powerful, good-natured, and stupid, and to the Chenoo, who is a cannibal giant and yet grateful to friends, and also to several Hindoo gods. The gypsies have here evidently fused several Oriental beings into one., This is a process which occurs in the decline of mythologies as in languages. In the infancy of a speech, as in its old age, many words expressing different ideas, but which sound somewhat alike, become a single term. In English gypsy I have found as many as eight or ten Hindi words thus concentrated into one.

Another cure for a fever. The sufferer goes in the forest and finds a young tree. When the first rays of the rising sun fall on it the patient shakes it with all his might and exclaims:—

"Shilályi, shilályi prejia
Káthe tu beshá, káthe tu beshá!

"Fever, fever, go away!
Here shalt thou stay. Here shalt thou stay!"

It is here plain that the shaking the sapling is intended to transfer the shakes, as the chill and shuddering of the fever is called in America, to the tree.

"Then the fever passes into the tree." Perhaps it was in this way that the aspen learned to tremble. But among the gypsies in the south of Hungary, among whom the vaccination or inoculation of trees is greatly the fashion, a hole is bored into the wood, into which the patient spits thrice, repeats the spell, and then stops the hole with a plug. The boring of holes in trees or transferring illness to them is also practised without formulas of speech. Thus, if while a man is lying down or sitting

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in the spring he hears the song of the cuckoo he believes that he will be ill all the time for a year to come, especially with fevers, unless he goes. nine times to a tree, bores a hole in it, and spits into it three times. Then he is safe. In German mythology "the cuckoo is a bird which brings bad luck" (FRIEDRICH), and the inhabitants of Haiterbach were so persuaded of this that they introduced a prayer against it into their church service, whence they got the name of cuckoos (WOLF, "Zeitschrift für Deutsche Myth," Vol. i. p. 440). It announces to men the infidelity of wives, and tells listeners how many years they have to live.

It is possible that this is a relic of an old form of sacrifice, or proof that the idea occurs to all men of thus making a casket of a tree. The occasional discovery of stone axe-heads in very old trees in America renders this probable. And where the wood grows up and encloses the object it would very rarely happen that it would ever be discovered. It should be added to the previous instance that when they have closed the hole, the Transylvanian gypsies eat some of the bark of the next tree.

Another cure for fever is effected by going in the morning before sunrise to the bank of a stream, and digging a hole with some object—for instance, a knife—which has never been used. Into this hole the patient makes water, then fills up the hole, saying:—

"Shilályi áč kathe
Ná ává kiyá mánge!
Sutyárá andré čik!
Avá kiyá mánge
Káná káthe ná hin páñi!"

"Fever stay here!
Do not come to me!
Dry up in dust,
Come unto me
When no water is here."

Dr. WLISLOCKI translates this last line, "When there is no more water in the river," which is certainly what is meant. "While water

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runs or grass grows," &c. is a formula common to ail countries. Another cure for fever is this: the patient must take a kreutzer, an egg, and a handful of salt, and before sunrise go with them to a cross-road, throw them away backwards, and repeat:—

"Káná ádálá kiyá mánge áven
Âvâ tu kiyâ mánge shilályi."

"When these things again I see,
Fever then return to me."

Or literally, "When these things to me come." For the next three days the invalid must not touch money, eggs, or salt. There is an old MS. collection of English charms and ceremonies, professedly of "black witchcraft," in which we are told that if a girl will walk stark-naked by the light of the full moon round a field or a house, and cast behind her at every step a handful of salt, she will get the lover whom she desires. Salt, says MORESINUS, was sacred to the infernal deities, and it was a symbol of the soul, or of life, because it preserved the body while in it (PITISCUS, "Leg. Ant. Rom." ii. p. 675). The devil never eats salt. Once there was in Germany a peasant who had a witch for a wife, and the devil invited them to supper. But all the dishes were without any seasoning, and the peasant, despite all nudges and hints to hold his tongue kept crying for salt. And when it was brought and he said, "Thank God, here is salt at last!" the whole Spuck, or ghastly scene, vanished (HORST, "Dæmonomagie," Frankfurt, 1818, vol. ii. p. 213). For a great deal of further information and symbolism on and of salt, including all the views of the ancient Rabbis and modern rationalists on the subject of Lot's wife, the reader may consult "Symbolik und Mythologie der Natur," by J. B. FRIEDRICH, Wurzburg, 1859: "Salt is put into love-philtres and charms to ensure the duration of an attachment; in some Eastern countries it is carried in a little bag as an amulet to preserve health."

Another cure for fever. The patient must drink, from a new jug, water from three brooks, and after every drink throw into the running

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stream a handful of salt. Then he must make water into the first and say—

"Káthe hin t'ro sherro!"

"Here is thy head!"

At the second he repeats the sacred ceremony and murmurs

"Káthe hin t'ro perá!"

"Here is thy belly!"

And again at the third he exclaims:—

"Te kathehin t're punrá.
Já átunci ándre páñi!"

"And here are thy feet.
Go now into the water!"

But while passing from one stream to another he must not look back once, for then he might behold the dread demon of the fever which follows him, neither must he open his mouth, except while uttering the charm, for then the fever would at once enter his body again through the portal thus left unclosed. This walking on in apprehension of beholding the ugly spectre will recall to the reader a passage in the "Ancient Mariner," of the man who walks in fear and dread,

"Nor turns around his head,
For well he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread."

The wise wives among the gypsies in Hungary have many kinds of miraculous salves for sale to cure different disorders. These they declare are made from the fat of dogs, bears, wolves, frogs, and the like. As in all fetish remedies they are said to be of strange or revolting materials, like those used by Canidia of yore, the witches of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, and of Burns in Tam O'Shanter.

When a man has been "struck by a spirit" there results a sore

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swelling or boil, which is cured by a sorceress as follows: The patient is put into a tent by himself, and is given divers drinks by his attendant then she rubs the sufferer with a salve, the secret of which is known only to her, while she chants:—

"Prejiá, prejiá, prejiá,
Kiyá miseçeske, ác odoy;
Trianda sapa the çaven tut,
Trianda jiuklá tut čingeren,
Trianda káçná tut čunáven!"

"Begone, begone, begone
To the Evil One; stay there.
May thirty snakes devour thee,
Thirty dogs tear thee,
Thirty cocks swallow thee!"

After this she slaughters a black hen, splits it open, and lays it on the boil. Then the sufferer must drink water from three springs or rivulets, and throw wood nine times into the fire daily until he is well. But black hens cost money, according to WLISLOCKI; albeit the gypsies, like the children of the Mist in "Waverley," are believed to be acquainted with a far more economical and direct method of obtaining such commodities. Therefore this expensive and high-class cure is not often resorted to, and when it is the sorceress generally substitutes something cheaper than poultry. It may be here observed that the black hen occurs frequently in mediæval witch-lore and legend as a demon-symbol (WOLF, "Niederländische Sagen," pp. 647, 650). Thus the bones of sorcerors turn into black hens and chickens, and it is well if your black hen dies, for if she had not you would have perished in her place. Black hens were walled up in castles as sacrifices to the devil, that the walls might long endure; hence the same fowl occurs in the arms of the family of Henneberg (NORK, "Mythologie der Volksagen," p. 381). The lore on this subject is very extensive.

The following remedy against headache is in general use among Transylvanian gypsies. The patient's head is rubbed, and then washed, with vinegar or hot water while the following charm is repeated:

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"Oh duk ándro m'ro shero
The o dád miseçesero,
Adá dikhel ákáná,
Man tu máy dostá, márdyás,
Miro shero tu márdyás!
Tu ná ač tu ándre me.
Já tu, já tu, já kere.
Káy tu miseç čučides,
Odoy, odoy sikoves!
Ko jál pro m'ro ushályin,
Adáleske e duk hin!"

Oh, pain in my head,
The father of all evil,
Look upon thee now!
Thou hast greatly pained me,
Thou tormentest my head,
Remain not in me!
Go thou, go thou, go home,
Whence thou, Evil One, didst suck,
Thither, thither hasten!
Who treads upon my shadow,
To him be the pain!"

It will be seen that the principle of treading on the tail of the coat practised in Ireland is much outdone by the gypsies who give a headache to any one who so much as treads on their shadows. And it is not difficult to understand that, as with children, the rubbing the head, the bathing it with warm water or vinegar, and, finally, the singing a soothing song, may all conduce to a cure. The readers of "Helen's Babies" will remember the cures habitually wrought on Budge by singing to him, "Charley boy one day." Gypsies are in many respects mere children, or little Budges. There can be no doubt that where faith is very strong, and imagination is lively, cures which seem to border on the miraculous are often effected—and this is, indeed, the basis of all miracle as applied to relieving bodily afflictions. All of this may be, if not as yet fully explained by physiology, at least shown to probably

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rest on a material basis. But no sound system of cure can be founded on it, because there is never any certainty, especially for difficult and serious disorders, that they can ever be healed twice in succession. The "faith" exacted is sometimes a purely hereditary gift, at other times merely a form of blind ignorance and credulity. It may vividly influence all the body, and it may fail to act altogether. But the "Faith Healer" and "Christian Scientist," or "Metaphysical Doctor," push boldly on, and when they here and there heal a patient once, it is published to the four winds as a proof of invariable infallibility. And as everybody believes that he has "faith," so he hopes to be cured. In popular custom for a man to say he believes in anything, and to be sure that he really has nothing against it, constitutes as much "faith" as most men understand. A man may be utterly destitute of any moral principle and yet live in a constant state of "faith" and pious conviction. Here the capacity for cure by means of charms is complete.

In connection with these charms for the head we may find not less interesting those in reference to the hair, as given by the same authority, Dr. von WLISLOCKI. The greatest pains are taken to ensure even for the new-born child what is called a full head, because every one who dies bald is turned into a fish, and must remain in this form till he has collected as many hairs as would make an ordinary wig. But this lasts a long time, since he can find but a single hair every month or moon. The moon is in many ways connected in gypsy faith with the hair. He who sleeps bare-headed in its light will lose his hair, or else it will become white. To have a heavy growth a man must scoop up with his left hand water from a running brook, against the current, and pour it on his head.

Immediately after the first bathing of a newly-born child, and its anointing, its forehead and neck are marked with a semicircle—perhaps meant to indicate the moon—made with a salve called barcali, intended to promote the growth of the hair. A brew, or mess, is made from beans and the blood of a cow. Hairs are taken from the heads of the

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father and mother, which hairs are burnt to a powder and mixed with the brew. It is remarkable that the beans are only used for a boy, their object being to insure for him great virile or sexual power. "The bean," says FRIEDRICH ("Sym. d. N."), "is an erotic symbol, or one signifying sexual pleasure." Hence it was forbidden to the Egyptian priests, the Pythagoreans, the priests of Jupiter in Rome, and to the Jewish high priests on certain festivals. But if the child is a girl, the seeds of the pumpkin or sunflower are substituted for beans, because the latter would make her barren.

It is an old belief, and one widely spread, that if the witches or the devil can get a lock of anybody's hair, they can work him evil. The gypsies have the following articles of faith as regards hairs:—

Should birds find any, and build them into their nests, the man who lost them will suffer from headaches until, during the wane of the moon, he rubs his head with the yolk of eggs and washes it clean in running water. It would be very curious if this method of cleaning the hair and giving it a soft gloss, so much in vogue among English ladies, should have originated in sorcery. Beyond this, the sufferer must mix some of his hairs with food and give them to a white dog to eat.

If hairs which have fallen or been cut away are found by a snake and carried into its hole, the man from whom they came will continue to lose more until those in the snake's nest are quite decayed.

If you see human hairs in the road do not tread on them, since, in that case, if they came from a lunatic, you, too, will go mad. According to MARCELLUS BURDIGALENSIS, if you pick up some hairs in the road just before entering a city gate, tie one to your own head, and, throwing the rest away, walk on without looking behind you, you can cure a headache. I have found nearly the same charm for the same purpose in Florence, but accompanied by the incantation which is wanting in MARCELLUS. Also his cure for headache with ivy from the head of a statue, which is still used in Tuscany with the incantation which the Roman omits.

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Finding a hair hanging to your coat, carefully burn it, since you may by so doing escape injury by witchcraft. And we may remark in confirmation of this, that when you see a long hair on a man's coat it is an almost certain sign that he has been among the witches, or is bewitched; as the Countess thought when she found one clinging to the button of her lover, Von Adelstein, as set forth in "Meister Karl's Sketch-book."

But to bewitch your enemy get some of his combed-out hair, steep it in your own water, and then throw it on his garments. Then he will have no rest by night or day. I have observed that in all the Tuscan charms intended to torment a foe, the objects employed are like this of a disgusting nature.

If a wife will hold her husband to her in love, she must take of her own hair and bind it to his. This must be done three times by full moonlight.

Or if a maid will win the love of a young man, she must take of her own hair, mix it with earth from his footsteps—"und mischt diese mit dem Speichel einer läufigen Hundinn auf"—burn the whole to powder, and so manage that the victim shall eat it—which, it is needless to say, it is not likely that he will do, knowing what it is. Earth from the footsteps of any one is regarded as a very powerful means of bewitching him in Italian and ancient sorcery.

If a man bind the combings of his hair to the mane of a strange horse it will be wild and shy till the hairs are removed.

For easy childbirth red hair is sewed in a small bag and carried on the belly next the skin during pregnancy. Red hair indicates good luck, and is called bálá kámeskro, or sun-hairs, which indicates its Indian origin.

If any one dreams much of the dead, let him sew some of his hair into an old shoe, and give it to any beggar. Thereby he will prevent evil spirits from annoying him.

If a child suffers from sleeplessness, some of its mother's hair should be sewed into its wrappings, and others pulverized, mixed with a decoction

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of elderberries, be given it to drink. In German Folk-lore, as I shall show more fully anon, the elder often occurs as a plant specially identified with sorcery. In gypsy it is called yakori bengeskro, or the devil's eye, from its berries.

Nails cut on Friday should be burned, and the ashes mingled with the fodder of cattle, who are thus ensured against being stolen or attacked by wild beasts. If children are dwarfish, the same ashes in their food will make them grow. If a child suffers from pains in the stomach, a bit of nail must be clipped from its every finger; this is mixed with the dried dung of a foal, and the patient exposed to the smoke while it is burned.

A child's first tooth must, when it falls out, be thrown into a hollow tree. Those which come out in the seventh year are carefully kept, and whenever the child suffers from toothache, one is thrown into a stream.

Teeth which have been buried for many years, serve to make a singular fetish. They are mingled with the bones of a tree-frog, and the whole then sewed up in a little bag. If a man has anything for sale, and will draw or rub this bag over it, he will have many offers or customers for the articles thus enchanted. The bones are prepared by putting the frog into a glass or earthen receptacle full of small holes. This is buried in an ant-hill. The ants enter the holes and eat away all the flesh, leaving the bones which after a few weeks are removed. 1

To bear healthy and strong children women wear a string of bears' claws and children's teeth. Dr. von WLISLOCKI cites, apropos of this, a passage from JACOBUS RUEFF, "Von Empfengnussen": "Etlich schwanger wyber pflägend einen bären klauen von einem bären tapen yngefaszet am hals zuo tragen" (Some women when with child are accustomed to

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wear mounted bears' claws on their necks). In like manner boars' teeth, which much resemble them, are still very commonly worn in Austria and Italy and almost over all Europe and the East. It is but a few days since I here, in Florence, met with a young English lady who had bought a very large one mounted in silver as a brooch, but who was utterly unaware that there was any meaning attached to it. 1 I have a very ancient bear's tooth and whistle in silver, meant for a teething child. It came from Munich.

Pain in the eyes is cured with a wash made of spring or well water and saffron. During the application the following is recited

"Oh dukh ándrál yákhá
Já ándré páñi
Já andrál páñi
Andre safráne
André pçuv.
Já andrál pçuv
Kiyá Pçuvusheske—
Odoy hin cerçá,
Odoy ja te ça."

Oh, pain from the eyes
Go into the water,
Go out of the water
Into the saffron,
Go out of the saffron
Into the earth.
To the Earth-Spirit.
There's thy home.
There go and eat."

This incantation casts light upon the earliest Shamanic remedies. When it was discovered that certain herbs really possessed curative qualities, this was attributed to inherent magic virtues. The increase of their power by combining them with water, or mingling them, was due to

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mystic affinities by which a spirit passed from one to another. The Spirit of Earth went into saffron, that of saffron into water. The magician thus, by a song sent the pain into its medical affinity, and so on back to the source whence it came. From early times saffron, as one of the earliest flowers of spring, owing to its colour, was consecrated to magic and love. Eos, the goddess of the Aurora, was called κροκοτιεπλο?<υ?>σ? {Greek krokotieplos}, the one with the saffron garment. Therefore the public women wore a yellow robe. Even in Christian symbolism it meant love, as PORTALIS declares: "In the Christian religion the colours saffron and orange were the symbols of God embracing the heart and illuminating the souls of the faithful" ("Des Couleurs Symboliques," Paris, 1837, p. 240). So we can trace the chain from the prehistoric barbarous Shamanism, preserved by the gypsies, to the Greek, and from the Greek to the mediæval form still existent.

The same sympathetic process of transmission may be traced in the remedy for the erysipelas. The blood of a bullfinch is put into a new vessel with scraped elder-bark, and then laid on a cloth with which the eyes are bound up overnight. Meanwhile the patient repeats:—

"Duy yákhá hin mánge
Duy punrá hin mánge
Dukh ándrál yákhá
Já ándre punrá
Já ándrál punrá,
Já ándre pçuv,
Já ándrál pçuv
Andro meriben!"

"I have two eyes,
I have two feet,
Pain from my eyes
Go into my feet!
Go from my feet,
Go into the earth
Go from the earth
Into death!"

We have here in the elder-bark associations of magic which are

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ancient and widely spread, and which still exist; for at the present day country people in New England attribute to it curative virtues which it really does not possess. From the earliest times among the Northern races the Lady Elder, as we may learn from the Edda, or FIN MAGNUSEN ("Priscæ veterum Borealium Mythologiæ Lexicon," pp. 21, 239), and NYERUP ("Worterbuch der Scandinavischen Mythologie"), had an unearthly, ghostly reputation. Growing in lonely, gloomy places its form and the smell of its flowers seemed repulsive, so that it was associated with death, and some derived its name from Frau Holle, the sorceress and goddess of death. But SCHWENKI ("Mythologie der Slaven") with more probability traces it from hohl, i.e., hollow, and as spirits were believed to dwell in all hollow trees, they were always in its joints. The ancient Lithuanians, he informs us, worshipped their god Puschkeit, who was a form of Pluto, in fear and trembling at dusk, and left their offerings under the elder-tree. Everybody has seen the little puppets made of a piece of elder-pith with half a bullet under them, so that they always stand upright, and jump up when thrown down. Among the Slovaks these seem to have had some magical application. Perhaps their priests persuaded them that these jumping Jacks were miraculous, for they called them Pikuljk, a name derived from Peklo, the under-world. They still believe in a Pikuljk, who is a servant of the Evil One. He does all kinds of favours for men, but ends by getting their souls. The ancestors of the Poles were accustomed to bury all their sins and sorrows under elder-trees, thinking that they thereby gave to the lower world what properly belonged to it. This corresponds accurately to the gypsy incantation which passes the disease on from the elder bark into the earth, and from earth unto death. Frau Ellhorn, or Ellen, was the old German name for this plant. "Frau, perhaps, as appropriate to the female elf who dwelt in it" (FRIEDRICH, "Symbolik," p. 293). When it was necessary to cut one down, the peasant always knelt first before it and prayed: "Lady Ellhorn, give me of thy wood, and I will give thee of mine when it shall grow in the forest." GRIMM ("Deutsche Mythologie,"

p. 30

cxvi.) cites from a MS. Of 1727 the following: "Paga nismo ortum debet superstitio, sambucam non esse exscindendum nisi prius rogata permissione his verbis: Mater Sambuci permitte mihi tuæ cædere sylvam!" On the other hand, Elder had certain protective and healing virtues. Hung before a stable door it warded off witchcraft, and he who planted it conciliated evil spirits. And if a twig of it were planted on a grave and it grew, that was a sign that the soul of the deceased was happy, which is the probable reason why the very old Jewish cemetery in Prague was planted full of elders. In a very curious and rare work, entitled "Blockesberge Berichtung (Leipzig, 1669), by JOHN PRÆTORIUS, devoted to "the Witch-ride and Sorcery-Sabbath," the author tells us that witches make great use of nine special herbs—"nam in herbis, verbis et lapidibus magna vis est." Among these is Elder, of which the peasants make wreaths, which, if they wear on Walpurgis night, they can see the sorceresses as they sweep through the air on their brooms, dragons, goats, and other strange steeds to the Infernal Dance. Or when they anderswo herumvagiren—"go vagabonding anywhere else." "Yea, and I know one fellow who sware unto men, that by means of this herb he once saw certain witches churning butter busily, and that on a roof, but I mistrust that this was a sell (Schnake), and that the true name of this knave was Butyrolambius" ("Blocksberg," p. 475). The same author informs us that Hollunder (or Elder) is so called from hohl, or hollow, or else is an anagram of Unholden, unholy spirits, and some people call it Alhuren, from its connection with witches and debauchery, even as CORDUS writes:—

"When elder blossoms bloom upon the bush,
Then women's hearts to sensual pleasure rush."

He closes his comments on this subject with the dry remark that if the people of Leipzig wear, as is their wont, garlands of elder with the object of preventing breaches of the seventh commandment among them, it has in this instance, at least, utterly failed to produce the expected effect. "Quasi! creadt Judæus Apella!"

p. 31

It should be mentioned that in the gypsy spell the next morning the cloth with the elder-bark must be thrown into the next running water. To cure toothache the Transylvanian gypsies wind a barley-straw round a stone, which is thrown into a running stream, while saying:—

"Oh dukh ándre m're dándá,
Tu ná báres cingerá!
Ná ává kiyá mánge,
Mire muy ná hin kere!
Tut ñikáná me kámáv,
Ač tu mánge pál páčá;
Káná e pçus yárpakri
Avel tele páñori!"

"Oh, pain in my teeth,
Trouble me not so greatly!
Do not come to me,
My mouth is not thy house.
I love thee not all,
Stay thou away from me;
When this straw is in the brook
Go away into the water!"

Straw was anciently a symbol of emptiness, unfruitfulness, and death, and it is evidently used in this sense by the gypsies, or derived by them from some tradition connected with it. A feigned or fruitless marriage is indicated in Germany by the terms Strohwittwer and Strohwittwe. From the earliest times in France the breaking a straw signified that a compact was broken with a man because there was nothing in him. Thus in 922 the barons of Charles the Simple, in dethroning him, broke the straws which they held (CHARLOTTE DE LA TOUR, "Symbols of Flowers").

Still, straws have something in them. She who will lay straws on the table in the full moonlight by an open window, especially on Saturday night, and will repeat:—

"Straw, draw, crow craw,
By my life I give thee law"

then the straws will become fairies and dance to the cawing of a crow

p. 32

who will come and sit on the ]edge of the window. And so witches were wont to make a man of straw, as did Mother Gookin, in Hawthorne's tale, and unto these they gave life, whence the saying of a man of straw and straw bail, albeit this latter is deemed by some to be related to the breaking of straws and of dependence, as told in the tale of Charles the Simple. Straw-lore is extensive and curious. As in elder-stalks, small fairies make their homes in its tubes. To strew chopped straw before the house of a bride was such an insult to her character, in Germany, and so common that laws were passed against it. I possess a work printed about 1650, entitled "De Injuriis quæ haud raro Novis Nuptis inferri solent. I. Per sparsionem dissectorum culmorum frugum. Germ. Dusch das Werckerling Streuen," &c. An immense amount of learned quotation and reference by its author indicates that this custom which was influenced by superstition, was very extensively written on in its time. It was allied to the binding of knots and other magic ceremonies to prevent the consummation of marriages.

There is a very curious principle involved in curing certain disorders or afflictions by means of spells or verses. A certain word is repeated many times in a mysterious manner, so that it strikes the imagination of the sufferer. There is found in the Slavonian countries a woolly caterpillar called Wolos, whose bite, or rather touch, is much dreaded. I have myself, when a boy, been stung by such a creature in the United States. As I remember, it was like the sting of a bee. The following (Malo Russian) spell against it was given me by Prof. DRAGOMANOFF in Geneva. It is supposed that a certain kind of disorder, or cutaneous eruption, is caused by the Wolos:—

Holy Wolos.
Once a man drove over empty roads
With empty oxen,
To an empty field,
To harvest empty corn,
And gather it in empty ricks. p. 33
He gathered the empty sheaves,
Laid them in empty Wagons,
Drove over empty roads,
Unto an empty threshing-floor.
The empty labourers threshed it,
And bore it to the empty Mill.
The empty baker (woman)
Mixed it in an empty trough,
And baked it in an empty oven.
The empty people ate the empty bread.
So may the Wolos swallow this disorder
From the empty ——- (here the name of the patient.)

What is here understood by "empty" is that the swelling is taken away, subtracted, or emptied, by virtue of the repetition of the word, as if one should say, "Be thou void. Depart! depart! depart! Avoid me!"

There is a very curious incantation also apparently of Indian-gypsy origin, since it refers to the spirits of the water who cause diseases. In this instance they are supposed to be exorcised by Saint Paphnutius, who is a later Slavonian-Christian addition to the old Shamanic spell. In the Accadian-Chaldæan formulas these spirits are seven; here they are seventy.

The formula in question is against the fever:—

"In the name of God and his Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen!

"Seventy fair maids went up out of the ocean.

"They met the Saint Paphnutius, who asked:

"'Whence come ye, oh Maidens?'

"They answered, 'From the ocean-sea.

"'We go into the world to break the bones of men.

"'To give them the fever. (To make hot and cold).'"

Then the holy Paphnutius began to beat them, and gave them every one seventy-seven days:—

"They began to pray, 'O holy Paphnutius!

"'Forgive us, (and) whoever shall bear with him (thy) name, or write it, him we will leave in peace.

"'We will depart from him

"'Over the streams, over the seas.

p. 34

"'Over the reeds (canes) and marshes.

"'O holy Paphnutius, sua misericordia, of thy mercy,

"'Have pity on thy slave, even on the sick man ——— (the name is here uttered).

"'Free him from fever!'"

It is remarkable that, as a certain mysterious worm, caterpillar, or small lizard (accounts differ) among the Algonkin Indians is supposed to become at will a dragon, or sorcerer, or spirit, to be invoked or called on so the Wolos worm is also invoked, sometimes as a saint or sorcerer, and sometimes as a spirit who scatters disease. The following gypsy-Slavonian incantation over an invalid has much in common with the old Chaldæan spells

"Wolosni, Wolosnicéh!
Thou holy Wolos!
God calls thee unto his dwelling,
Unto his seat.
Thou shalt not remain here,
To break the yellow bones.
To drink the red blood,
To dry up the white body.
Go forth as the bright sun
Goes forth over the mountains,
Out from the seventy-seven veins,
Out from the seventy limbs (parts of the body).
Before I shall recognize thee,
Before I did not name thee (call on thee).
But now I know who thou art;
I began to pray to the mother of God,
And the mother of God began to aid me.
Go as the wind goes over the meadows or the shore (or banks),
As the waves roll over the waters,
So may the Wolos go from ———
The man who is born,
Who is consecrated with prayer."

The Shamanic worship of water as a spirit is extremely ancient, and is distinctly recognized as such by the formulas of the Church in which water is called "this creature." The water spirits play a leading part in the gypsy mythology. The following gypsy-Slav

p. 35

charm, to consecrate a swarm of bees, was also given to me by Prof. DRAGOMANOFF, who had learned it from a peasant:—

"One goes to the water and makes his prayer and greets the water thus:—

"Hail to thee, Water!
Thou Water, Oliana!
Created by God,
And thou, oh Earth, Titiana!
And ye the near springs, brooks and rivulets,
Thou Water, Oliana,
Thou goest over the earth,
Over the neighbouring fountains and streams,
Down unto the sea,
Thou dost purify the sea,
The sand, the rocks, and the roots—
I pray thee grant me
Of the water of this lake,
To aid me,
To sprinkle my bees.
I will speak a word,
And God will give me help,
The all-holy Mother of God,
The mother of Christ,
Will aid me,
And the holy Father
The holy Zosimos, Sabbateus and the holy Friday Parascabeah!

"When this is said take the water and bear it home without looking back. Then the bees are to be sprinkled therewith."

The following Malo-Russian formula from the same authority, though repointed and gilt with Greek Christianity, is old heathen, and especially interesting since Prof. DRAGOMANOFF traces it to a Finnic Shaman source:—


"The holy Virgin sent a man
Unto Mount Sion,
Upon this mountain
Is the city of Babylon,
And in the city of Babylon
Lives Queen Volga.p. 36
Oh Queen Volga,
Why dost thou not teach
This servant of God
(Here the name of the one bitten by a serpent is mentioned)
So that he may not be bitten
By serpents?"

    (The reply of Queen Volga)
"Not only will I teach my descendants
But I also will prostrate myself
Before the Lord God."

"Volga is the name of a legendary heathen princess of Kief, who was baptized and sainted by the Russian Church. The feminine form, Olga, or Volga, corresponds to the masculine name Oleg, or Olg, the earliest legendary character of Kief. His surname was Viechtchig—the sage or sorcerer" (i.e., wizard, and from a cognate root). "In popular songs he is called Volga, or Volkh, which is related to Volkv, a sorcerer. The Russian annals speak of the Volkv of Finland, who are represented as Shamans." Niya Predania i Raikazi ("Traditions and Popular Tales of Lesser Russia," by M. DRAGOMANOFF, Kief, 1876) in Russian.

I have in the chapter on curing the disorders of children spoken of Lilith, or Herodias, who steals the new-born infants. She and her twelve daughters are also types of the different kinds of fever for which the gypsies have so many cures of the same character, precisely as those which were used by the old Bogomiles. The characteristic point is that this female spirit is everywhere regarded as the cause of catalepsy or fits. Hence the invocation to St. Sisinie is used in driving them away. This invocation written, is carried as an amulet or fetish. I give the translation of one of these from the Roumanian, in which the Holy Virgin is taken as the healer. It is against cramp in the night:—


"There is a mighty hill, and on this hill is a golden apple-tree,

"Under the golden apple-tree is a golden stool.

"On the stool—who sits there?

"There sits the Mother of God with Saint Maria; with the boxes in her right hand, with the cup in her left.

p. 37

"She looks up and sees naught, she looks down and sees my Lord and Lady Disease.

"Lords and Ladies Cramp, Lord and Lady Vampire—Lord Wehrwolf and his wives.

"They are going to ——— (the sufferer), to drink his blood and put in him a foul heart.

"The Mother of God, when she saw them, went down to them, spoke to them, and asked them, 'Whither go ye, Lord and Lady Disease,—Lords and Ladies Cramp, &c.?'

"'We go to ——— to drink his blood, to change his heart to a foul one.'

"'No, ye shall return; give him his blood back, restore him his own heart, and leave him immediately.'

"Cramps of the night, cramps of the midnight, cramps of the day, cramps wherever they are. From water, from the wind, go out from the brain, from the light of he face, from the hearing of the ears, from his heart, from his hands and feet, from the soles of his feet.

"Go and hide where black cocks never crow, 1 where men never go, where no beast roars.

"Hide yourself there, stop there, and never show yourself more!

"May ——— remain pure and glad, as he was made by God, and was fated by the Mother of God!

"The spell is mine—the cure is God's."

In reference to the name Herodias (here identified with Lilith, the Hebrew mother of all devils and goblins); it was a great puzzle to the writers on witchcraft why the Italian witches always said they had two queens whom they worshipped—Diana and Herodias. The latter seems to have specially presided at the witch-dance. In this we can see an evident connection with the Herodias of the New Testament.

I add to this a few more very curious old Slavonian spells from Dr. Gaster's work, as they admirably illustrate one of the principal and most interesting subjects connected with the gypsy witchcraft; that is to say, its relation to early Shamanism and the forms in which its incantations were expressed. In all of these it may be taken for granted, from a great number of closely-allied examples, that the Christianity in them is recent and that they all go back to the earliest heathen times. The

p. 38

following formula, dating from 1423, against snake-bites bears the title:—


"In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. I once was a persecutor, but am now a true follower; and I went from my dwelling-place in Sicily, and they set light to a trunk, and a snake came therefrom and bit my right hand and hung from it. But I had in me the power of God, and I shook it off into the burning fire and it was destroyed, and I suffered no ill from the bite. I laid myself down to sleep; then the mighty angel said: 'Saul, Paul, stand up and receive this writing'; and I found in it the following words:

"'I exorcise you, sixty and a half kinds of beasts that creep on the earth, in the name of God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, and in the name of the immovable throne.

"'Serpent of Evil, I exorcise thee in the name of the burning river which rises under the footstool of the Saviour, and in the name of His incorporeal angels!

"'Thou snake of the tribe of basilisks, thou foul-headed snake, twelve-headed snake, variegated snake, dragon-like snake, that art on the right side of hell, whomsoever thou bitest thou shalt have no power to harm, and thou must go away with all the twenty-four kinds. If a man has this prayer and this curse of the true, holy apostle, and a snake bites him, then it will die on the spot, and the man that is bitten shall remain unharmed, to the honour of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, now and for all time. Amen.'"

It is not improbable that we have in PAUL and the Serpent and the formula for curing its bite (which is a common symbol for all disease) a souvenir of Esculapius, the all-healer, and his serpent. The following is "a prayer against the toothache, to be carried about with one," i.e., as an amulet prayer:—


"Saint Peter sat on a stone and wept. Christ came to him and said, 'Peter, why weepest thou?' Peter answered, 'Lord, my teeth pain me.' The Lord thereupon ordered the worm in Peter's tooth to come out of it and never more go in again. Scarcely had the worm come out when the pain ceased. Then spoke Peter, 'I pray you, O Lord, that when these words be written out and a man carries them he shall have no toothache.' And the Lord answered, '"Tis well, Peter; so may it be!'"

It will hardly be urged that this Slavonian charm of Eastern origin

p. 39

could have been originated independently in England. The following, which is there found in the north, is, as Gaster remarks, "in the same: wording":—

"Peter was sitting on a marble stone,
And Jesus passed by.
Peter said, 'My Lord, my God,
How my tooth doth ache!'
Jesus said, Peter art whole
And whosoever keeps these words for My sake
Shall never have the toothache.'

The next specimen is a—


"Zachariah was slain in the Lord's temple, and his blood turned into stone. Then stop, O blood, for the Lord's servant, ———. I exorcise thee, blood, that thou stoppest in the name of the Saviour, and by fear of the priests when they perform the liturgy at the altar."

Those who sell these charms are almost universally supposed to be mere quacks and humbugs. If this were the case, why do they so very carefully learn and preserve these incantations, transmitting them

        "as a rich legacy
Unto their issue."

But they really do believe in them, and will give great prices for them. Prof. DRAGOMANOFF told me that once in Malo-Russia it became generally known that he had made a MS. collection of such spells. A peasant who was desirous of becoming a sorcerer, but who had very few incantations of his own, went whenever he could by stealth into the Professor's library and surreptitiously copied his incantations. And when Prof. DRAGOMANOFF returned the next year to that neighbourhood, he found the peasant doing a very good business as a conjuring doctor, or faith-healer. I have a lady correspondent in the United States who has been initiated into Voodoo and studied Indian-negro witchcraft under two eminent teachers,

p. 40

one a woman, the other a man. The latter, who was at the very head of the profession, sought the lady's acquaintance because he had heard that she possessed some very valuable spells. In the fourth or highest degree, as in Slavonian or Hungarian gypsy-magic, this Indian-Voodoo deals exclusively with the spirits of the forest and stream.

M. Kounavine, as set forth by Dr. A. Elysseeff (Gypsy-Lore Journal, July, 1890), gives a Russian gypsy incantation by which the fire is invoked to cure illness. It is as follows:—

"Great Fire, my defender and protector, son of the celestial fire, equal of the sun who cleanses the earth of foulness, deliver this man from the evil sickness that torments him night and day!"

The fire is also invoked to punish, or as an ordeal, e.g.:—

"Fire, who punishest the evil-doer, who hatest falsehood, who scorchest the impure, thou destroyest offenders; thy flame devoureth the earth. Devour ——— if he says what is not true, if he thinks a lie, and if he acts deceitfully."

These are pronounced by the gypsy sorcerer facing the burning hearth. There is another in which fire is addressed as Jandra, and also invoked to punish an offender:—

"Jandra, bearer of thunderbolts, great Periani (compare Parjana, an epithet of Indra, Slavonic Perun), bearer of lightning, slay with thy thunderbolt and burn with thy celestial fire him who dares to violate his oath."




26:1 It is said that if the bones of a green frog which has been eaten by ants are taken, those on the left side will provoke hatred, and those on the right side excite love" ("Div. Cur.," c. 23). . . . "One species of frog called rubeta, because it lives among brambles, is said to have wonderful powers. Brought into an assembly of people it imposes silence. If the little bone in its right side be thrown into boiling water it chills it at once. It excites love when put into a draught" ("Castle Saint Angelo and the Evil Eye," by W. W. STORY).

27:1 According to Pliny, the tooth of a wolf hung to the neck of an infant was believed to be an efficient amulet against disease; and a child's tooth caught before it falls to the ground and set in a bracelet was considered to be beneficial to women. Nat. Hist. lib. xxvi., cap. 10 ("Castle Saint Angelo and the Evil Eye," by W. W. STORY)

37:1 This cannot fail to remind many readers of the land—

"Where the cock never crew,
Where the sun never shone and the wind never blew."

Next: Chapter III: Gypsy Conjurations and Exorcisms