Reheathening Charms I

As a Heathen, one of the major hurdles I come across when researching old charms and folklore is trying to distinguish possible Pagan elements from Christian elements. Sometimes the songs and charms are so obviously Christian that they are of little use in utilising for polytheist practice. Others however, almost appear as if the Christian elements were shoddily overlaid over earlier, preexisting material and are just waiting to be reheathened.

I’m currently combing through songs and charms, particularly those from Devon and altering them to be of use in a practical Heathen way. As I find new ones and alter them, I’ll throw them on here in their reclaimed state.

The following altered charm was taken from Nummits and Crummits: Devonshire Customs, Characteristics and Folklore.

In the book, it’s said if one wishes to ward against a ‘black witch’ (spells of ill-intent), one should nail a horseshoe, points upwards, above the threshold of the home. This bit is unsurprising, considering the widespread use of iron as a deterrent for malefic wights and curses [1]. It’s entirely possible that anything made of iron would act as a suitable alternative to the horseshoe, although the horse’s ancient association with the dead shouldn’t be overlooked.

After the horseshoe/ iron item has been nailed to the threshold, a chant should be made in a monotone voice:

So as the fire do melt the wax
And wind blows smoke away
So in the presence of the Gods
The wicked shall decay,
The wicked shall decay.

[1] “In spring, when the animals were first let out after their winter confinement, the peasants of the German-speaking regions would set axes, hatches, saws, and other pieces of ironwork in front of the stable door, which would then be assurance against any enchantment.”
The Tradition of Household Spirits: Ancestral Lore and Practices, Claude Lecouteux

[*] It should be noted that modern ‘wicked’ actually comes to us by way of Old English ‘Wicce/ Wicca’, or witch. It probably doesn’t mean much in this case, but it could suggest that this charm was descended from an earlier source where witch might have been used instead. Do what you will with that information.



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