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Charms Against Fleas and Other House Vermin.

IN THE first quarter of the moon she who wishes to make the charm must be told by a neighbour that the moon has just risen. She then takes a glazed dish or bowl, which she has bought at the fair of the Mummers (Mosii) at the Eastertide, or one that has been given to her at that time. She fills it with "living" water taken from three wells in three new jugs brought by three virgins, who must not look back from the time they have drawn it.

               This bowl filled with water is put on the window facing the moon, and she waits until the moon strikes the window and the bowl. When she can see the moon well in the bowl and at the bottom of it, she begins to charm (conjure) the fleas, etc., with three stalks taken from a new broom, and says, "New moon in the house, bugs, vermin, fleas, get ye out of the house, leave this house, be scattered--let no one meet the other before mountain meets mountain--and hill top knocks against hill top--then and then only may they meet, and not even then." She repeats the charm three times, then she pours the water into four vessels, places them in the inner four corners of the house, and in the morning she is sure to find some of the house vermin in the vessels. These she must take out, and put into an empty box, stolen from somewhere. She must wait for a car that returns home after everything brought in it has been sold at the market, and must throw the box into that empty car, saying: "Yes, fleas, little fleas--from the house have I taken you, into a stolen box have I put you, charmed, drowned, cursed, thrown into a box, charmed at new moon now, may you become the devil's own, may you become numbed and stiff--in the nine countries--beyond the nine seas--for there they are waiting for you--at spread tables--with torches lit up. Amen!"

               It is almost unnecessary to discuss at any length the charms against fleas, etc., which were considered the special tools and associates of the Evil One. The philtres in the Western countries consist mostly of poisonous ingredients taken from toads, snakes, etc., and some of the oldest charms are against flies, fleas, midges, etc. This is now, perhaps, the only complete charm in which not only the formula has been preserved, but also, what is of the highest importance, a detailed description of the ceremonial used on that occasion.

               Every detail of this magical operation might be made the starting point of a separate investigation. The symbolic character of some of them is too clear to be gainsaid. We have here the crescent of the moon as an operative factor: the bowl and the box must be stolen, probably to bring down a curse upon the thief and upon him who uses it. The living water, the three maidens, the three wells, the curse of the vermin, the empty car carrying it, as it were, away for ever, the inducement for those fleas to remain there in the mythical nine countries for a feast that is awaiting them. Each and all are found in other charms, but here we have the whole operation minutely described. It is, moreover, typical of a large class of such enchantments or binding by charms. For our purpose it must be deemed quite sufficient. I have only introduced it as it is one affecting the insects and throwing light on many more charms and conjurations in which the Rumanian literature abounds. I may on another occasion discuss the whole range of the Rumanian charms. They cover the whole field of human ailments and physical troubles--a wide range indeed.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Charms Against Fleas and Other House Vermin.
Tale Author/Editor: Gaster, Moses
Book Title: Rumanian Bird and Beast Stories
Book Author/Editor: Gaster, Moses
Publisher: Sidgwick & Jackson
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1915
Country of Origin: Romania
Classification: unclassified

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