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Sundry Charms

 

 
 

Popular Romances of the West of England
Collected and Edited by Robert Hunt

 

 

 

 THE vicar of a large parish church informs me that a woman came to him some time since for water from the font after a christening; she required it to undo some spell. The vicar states, that all the fonts in. the country were formerly locked, to prevent people from stealing the "holy water," as they called it.

 

CURE FOR COLIC IN TOWEDNACK

To stand on one's head for a quarter of an hour.

 

FOR A SCALD OR BURN

"There came three angels out of the east,
One brought fire and two brought frost; 
Out fire and in frost, 
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Amen !"

Bramble-leaves, or sometimes the leaves of the common dock, wetted with spring water, are employed in this charm, as also in the following one.

 

CHARMS FOR INFLAMMATORY DISEASES

A similar incantation to that practised for a burn is used. Three angels are invoked to come from the east, and this form of words is repeated three times to each one of nine bramble-leaves immersed in spring water, making passes with the leaves from the diseased part.

 

CHARMS FOR THE PRICK OF A THORN

I.

"Christ was of a virgin born,
And he was prick'd by a thorn,
And it did never bell [a] nor swell,
As I trust in Jesus this never will."

II. 

"Christ was crown'd with thorns:
The thorns did bleed, but did not rot,
No more thall thy finger.
In the name," [b] &c.

 

CHARMS FOR STANCHING OF BLOOD

 "Sanguis mane in te,
Sicut Christus fuit in se;
Sanguis mane in tuâ venâ,
Sicut Christus in suâ penâ;
Sanguis mane fixus,
Sicut Christus quando crucifixus."

As this is repeated by ignorant old men or women, it becomes a confused jargon of unmeaning words, but it impresses the still more ignorant sufferer with awe, approaching to fear. The fol­lowing is more common:

"Christ was born in Bethlehem,
Baptized in the river Jordan;
There he digg'd a well,
And turn'd the water against the hill,
So shall thy blood stand still. In the name," &c. 

 

CHARM FOR A TETTER

"Tetter, tetter, thou hast nine brothers.
God bless the flesh and preserve the bone
Perish, thou tetter, and be thou gone.
In the name, &c.

 "Tetter, tetter, thou hast eight brothers.
God bless the flesh and preserve the bone;
Perish, thou tetter, and be thou gone.
In the name, &c.

 "Tetter, tetter, thou hast seven brothers.

 &c. &c.

 Thus the verses are continued until tetter, having " no brother," is imperatively ordered to begone.

 

 CHARM FOR THE STING OF A NETTLE

 Many a time do I remember, when a child playing in the fields, having suffered from the stings of the nettle, and constantly seeking for the advantages of the charm of the dock-leaf. The cold leaf was placed on the inflamed spot, and the well-known rhyme three times repeated:

 Out nettle,
In dock;
Dock shall have
A new smock."

 

 CHARM FOR TOOTHACHE

 "Christ pass'd by His brother's door,
Saw His brother lying on the floor.
'What aileth thee, brother ?
Pain in the teeth ?--
Thy teeth shall pain thee no more.
In the name," &c. 

 

CHARM FOR SERPENTS

 The body of a dead serpent bruised on the wound it has oc­casioned, is said to be an infallible remedy for its bite. Common report is sufficient to warrant a poetical allusion
 

"The beauteous adder hath a sting,
Yet bears a balsam too." --
Polwhele's Sketches.

 

THE CURE OF BOILS

The sufferer is to pass nine times against the sun, under a bramble-bush growing at both ends. This is the same as the cure prescribed for rheumatism.

 

RICKETS, OR A CRICK IN THE BACK

 The holed stone--Men-an-tol--in Lanyon, is commonly called by the peasantry the crick-stone. Through this the sufferer was drawn nine times against the sun--or, if a man, he was to crawl through the hole nine times.

Strumous children were not unfrequently treated after another fashion.

 A young ash-tree was cleft vertically, and the parts being drawn forcibly asunder, the child was passed "three times three times" against the sun through the tree. This ceremony having been performed, the tree was carefully bound together; if the bark grew together and the tree survived, the child would grow healthy and strong; if the tree died, the death of the child, it was believed, would surely follow.

[a] Throb.

[b]  The invocation of the "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost," invariably accompanies every form of charm.

 

 

 
 
This, and other Cornish Folk-Tales, can be found at Sacred Texts