Current Thoughts & Reheathening Charms II

This is a follow-up to a post I made back in September called, Reheathening Charms I, found here.


I’ve wanted to write something for this blog for a couple weeks now, but couldn’t manage to gather my thoughts sufficiently enough to put them into words. Every time I think I’ve stumbled on something worth talking about, I hit a dead end or lose interest in the project entirely. I’ve had this odd feeling – an inexplicable pull- driving me to customize our hearth cult and to reconstruct deities necessary for that customization. It’s as if there are deities here that need to be sought out and given worship and they won’t take no for answer. As we progress as a household, more functions will need to be filled and more numinous powers will need to be recognized.

Hopefully, in the coming days I’ll be able to sift through the plethora of notes and excerpts I’ve been collecting and post something substantial to that effect. In the meantime, I’ve come across a set of charms worth sharing here.

Witchcraft and Folklore of Dartmoor by Ruth E. St.Leger-Gordon had been sitting on my bookshelf for months on end. When it came in the mail, I read about a quarter of the way through the book,  got pissed off at the author’s tone of superiority and her constant mockery of the subjects she was interviewing, and subsequently forgot I owned the book at all.

Today I cracked open St.Leger-Gordon’s book again. I’m still not fond of her approach, but I realize that she, like her contemporaries, is a product of her time. While her biased commentary is indeed annoying, the folkloric accounts recorded in the book are still worth exploring.

Two charms of comparable wording are recorded as cures for a sprain. The first, recorded in William Crossing’s Folk Rhymes of Devon,  is presented thusly:

“Bone to Bone and Vein to Vein
And vein turn thy rest again
And so shall thine
In the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost”

In the second sprain charm, taken from a collection of old papers found at Marystowe, we are presented with a very similar formula to the one charm mentioned above.

“Marrow to marrow and bone to bone and sinews to sinews and skin to skin. 
In the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Ghost I cast this sprain away.
Amen. So be it.”

According to the author, the final lines of these charms are reminiscent of, “as I will, so mote it be,” found in Rosicrucianism and neo-paganism- a recitation of forceful words that serve to shape reality in the witch’s favour.

The charms above represent a clear synthesis of Pagan and Christian ideas, though the pagan elements can easily separated from their Christian veneer. While some readers might question whether the non-Christian elements represent anything more than rural folk-magic, similarities to the 10th century Second Merseburg Charm suggest it may be a survival from a much earlier period.

Phol and Wodan were riding to the woods,
and the foot of Balder’s foal was sprained
So Sinthgunt, Sunna’s sister, conjured it.
and Frija, Volla’s sister, conjured it.
and Wodan conjured it, as well he could:
Like bone-sprain, so blood-sprain,
so joint-sprain:
Bone to bone, blood to blood,
joints to joints,
so may they be mended.
[1]

Comparing the three charms, we can see an obvious similarity in their wording and are able to reconstruct a charm of our own without the Christian overlay. Our charm for sprain might look something like this:

“Marrow to marrow
Bone to bone
Sinew to sinew
Blood to blood
And joints to joints, 
As I will it,
so may they be mended”

 


[1] Fortson, Benjamin W. Indo-European language and culture: an introduction, Wiley-Blackwell. (2004)

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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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