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Appendix I. Rumanian Incantations Against the Illnesses of Animals.

I AM adding here a number of incantations or charms, which are used by the Rumanians to ward off evil from animals and to save from hurt and disease such victims of witchcraft. In the mind of the people, the old conception is still strong that every sickness is caused by some malignant spirit, and that the most potent remedy is the magical word of incantation or conjuration. And what holds good for the cure of the Evil Eye holds good similarly in the case of a snake bite or any other apparently incurable disease.

               The Rumanians resort to magical performances of a peculiarly symbolical and sympathetic nature. Those practices are accompanied by "incantations" or rather "disenchantments," i.e. chants used for the purpose of destroying the spell. This is not the place to discuss at any length the history and origin of these charms and the mechanism of their composition. I have dealt with them largely in my history of Rumanian Folk-Lore (Lit. pop. Româna, 1883, p. 406 ff.). I have shown there the similarity between some of these "incantations" or "conjurations" with some Byzantine and mediæval Latin charms, and not a few ancient oriental incantations of Babylon and Palestine. In connection with the foregoing Tales and Legends, it is of no small importance now to find that similar conjurations are used for the protection of animals. The same procedure is followed as in the case of human beings, and practically the same words and images are used to free the cattle from sickness. In one or two instances (Nos. 2, 3) the cow is being bewitched and loses her milk, or the calf does not suck. The "virtue" (Rum. mana), the "abundance" or "blessing," is being taken by some witch, or is waning on account of the Evil Eye. Even in these cases the formula is almost identical with that used in a stereotyped form in human "incantations." Each of these given here could be made the starting-point of discursive explanations. But this must be reserved for a special study of the Rumanian charms and incantations. For our purpose here the translation accompanied only by a few explanatory foot-notes, is quite sufficient. It proves that to the Rumanian peasant, there is no essential difference between man and beast. They are both treated alike, and even the Lady Mary knows no difference between them. She helps the beast in the same manner as she descends the "silver ladder" to help the man. And the evil spirits, who attack man and beast with the same virulence, are driven out by precisely the same method: charms and incantations.


"Good one" (Dobritza) went with the broom to sweep the poultry yards, the hens,  and the geese runs, with the geese,     
The turkey yard, with the turkeys,     
The gardens and the orchards,     
The hills with the vineyards,     
The mountains with the forests.     
Then, Good One! do not go to sweep the gardens and the orchards, the hills and vineyards,     
The mountains with the forests,     
The run with the poultry, but come and sweep away the sickness of the hens,     
The ducks, and the geese of Mr. N. N. Sweep away the sickness with thy broom,     
And I with my mouth will say the charm (disenchantment).     
With my hand I will seize it,     
And beyond the Black Sea I will throw it,     
That it may perish, truly perish, there,     
As the foam of the sea,     
As the dew before the sun,     
And the birds of Mr. N. N. shall become pure, sweet, clean and shining,     
As made by God.

                This charm is said whilst stirring the "virgin water" with a broom.


The Monday cow has gone on her way, on her pathway,     
On to untrodden grass,     
With the virtue (Mana) not taken away,     
And with the dew not yet shaken off,     
To the field with butter,     
To the well with cream.     
She was met by nine evil-eyed ones,     
Nine witches,     
And nine takers-away of blessing (abundance mana).     
The cow lowed and roared;     
She turned back.     
The Holy Mother heard her.     
She came to her with dew under her feet and with "abundance" on her back.     
She took hold of her by the right horn,     
And led her to green reeds,     
And sprinkled her with (the branches) of the willow tree and basil.     
The cream thickened,     
The eyes sparkled,     
The hair became smooth,     
And the milk started running.     
It spurted like a vein,     
It issued forth like a well, and ran like a river.


I rose up early in the morning.     
I took the sickle (scythe)     
In my hand.     
I went up to the hill of love.     
I went down into the valley of affection.     
I cut nine handfuls of flowers,     
I cut (gathered) love from nine jolly widows,     
From nine beautiful girls,     
From nine kings and nine rulers.     
With the same zest as kings hasten to their kingdom,     
Rulers to their rule,     
Ministers to their ministration,     
Knights to their knighthood,     
And merchants to their business,     
So shall the "Thursday [7] one"     
Hasten to the calf,     
And the calf to her.     
As the tongue is fast in the mouth,     
So shall "Thursday one" stick to her calf,     
And the calf on to her.     
I burnt it (the spell) with fire,     
I singed it with the flame,     
I enveloped it with love,     
With affection I kindled it.     
As the honey is sweet,     
So shall the calf long for "Thursday one."


N. N. rose up,     
Got up very early,     
And met the accursed on the way,     
And he poisoned him as one bitten by the poisoned fly.     
The Lady Mother heard it from heaven.     
She took the staff in her hand,     
And came down upon a silver ladder.     
Do not cry, and do not low, O "Thursday one."     
Come with me to that old woman, that she may say the charm (disenchantment) for thee,     
With water from the well,     
With three stalks of elder-tree,     
With twigs of hazelnut tree,     
With a knife that has been found and with silver coins.

                These charms were told in the year 1913 by a woman who was believed to be in her 109th year.


Fly away, evil eye, from the White one.     
Do not wonder at her.     
Do not stare at her admiringly     
Of the milk that is milked,     
Of the calf that is sucking     
Her sweet body,     
That it is sweet to me as honey and yellow as wax; but wonder at,     
And stare admiringly     
At that green bush,     
That it is as green as the ivy,     
And white as the lily.     
Fly away, yawn,     
Fly away, shout,     
Of the great evil eye.


The mistress has gone on her way with Joyana (Thursday one)     
To feed her on the green field.     
Well she did feed her,     
Well did she satisfy her,     
Well did she slake her thirst.     
She turned her back.     
In the middle of the way     
She met an old woman     
Dressed in a shirt of nettles,     
With sandals of a black sow on her feet.     
She broke Joyana's horns,     
Her eyes she caused to shed tears,     
Her hair she ruffled (bristled),     
The tail she cut off,     
The breasts she squeezed (flattened),     
The udders she emptied.     
The cow lowed and the cow moaned.     
No one saw her;     
No one heard her;     
But the Holy Mother saw her.     
Only she heard.     
She said to her:     
"Thursday one, do not low, do not moan."     
"How am I not to low?     
How am I not to moan?     
As I went with my mistress to feed in pastures green,     
She fed me well.     
She slaked my thirst well.     
Back she did turn me.     
When in the middle of the way,     
An old woman met me,     
Dressed in a shirt of nettles,     
With sandals of a black sow on her feet.     
She lopped my horns,     
She caused my eyes to run over,     
My hair she made to bristle,     
My tail she has cut off,     
She has flattened my breasts,     
She has emptied my udders."     
"(Joyana) 'Thursday one,' do not low, do not moan.     
Go to N. N.     
He will disenchant thee with the nettle in flour,     
From the little horns     
To the little tail,     
From the little tail to the little horns.     
The horns will become sharp again.     
The hair will be smooth,     
The breasts will be strong,     
The udder will be full again.     
Go to thy mistress,     
And she will milk thee from the pail into the can,     
From the can into the pail."

               This disenchantment is made with nettles in flour.


Take three stalks of madwort. Go to the beast that has worms, touching the wound with the madwort, say:

May there be as many maggots in the wound as there are (popi)     priests in Paradise.     As many and not even as many.

Say it three times, and the worms will fall off.

The implication is obvious.


               On a day of Lent, before sunrise, take the beast, which has worms outside the village to a place where reeds are growing. Get nine bushes of reeds, each with three reeds (stalks) in one root. Stop still at each bush, cut the middle reed, shake it three times over the wound, and say:

"Ye three reeds are three brothers,     
And ye all three are to join together,     
And drive away the worms from Joyana;     
For, if not,     
I come to-morrow at the same time,     
To cut you off from the root,     
To take away your peace,     
And dust and ashes shall you become."

                Then spit aside. Repeat this with each of the reed-bushes. At mid-day, when the sun stands in "the balance" (noontide), repeat the whole incantation, and yet a third time shortly before sunset. The cut reeds must be tied together by their roots, and you will see the worms dropping off when you finish the charm.

               This cure can also be effected when the beast is not present. In this case, go alone, and remember the animal whilst making the operation. It will be found quite effective.


Above it is thundering,     
Speckling, clinging to the skin,     
Skin to bone,     
Bone to flesh.     
The flesh has been bitten,     
Bitten by a snake.     
God, send the cure.     
Holy Mother, overshadow him.

                This charm is made with "virgin water," using a hazelnut twig, especially if a snake has been killed with it. The bite is washed with the water, and a mouthful is taken three times.


Weasel, beautiful girl,     
There are nine boils.     
Nine boils have gone down;     
Eight boils have grown,     
Eight boils have gone down;     
Seven boils have grown,     
Seven boils have gone down;     
And so on until one boil has grown,     
And one has gone down.     
And the cow N. N. shall now remain clean and sweet (strong), as she was made by God.

                This charm is said three times over a pail with "virgin water"; a cross is made over with the skin of a weasel, or with the twig of hazel-nut, or with a found knife.

               The cow is washed with the water, and the rest is poured into running water.

               The charm must be repeated three times daily, and for three consecutive days, if the bite is a bad one and the swelling does not go down.



[1] The cows are often called by the names of the days on which they were born. Of these Monday and Thursday seem to be the lucky ones.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Appendix I. Rumanian Incantations Against the Illnesses of Animals.
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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