Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The Charms of the Pendle Witches

From Thomas Potts’s A Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster, the official trial transcripts:

Mother Demdike’s family charm “to get drink”:

Crucifixus hoc signum vitam
Eternam. Amen.

(Literal translation: the crucifix is the sign of eternal life.)

This charm to cure bewitchment is attributed to Chattox:

A Charme

Three Biters hast thou bitten,
The Hart, ill Eye, ill Tonge:
Three bitter shall be thy Boote,
Father, Sonne, and Holy Ghost
a Gods name,
Fiue Pater-nosters, fiue Auies,
and a Creede,
In worship of fiue wounds
of our Lord.

(In modern language the last part would read: five Pater-Nosters, five Ave Marias, and a Creed, in the worship of the five wounds of our Lord—the cunning woman would then say these prayers while contemplating the five wounds of Christ.)

A charm to cure one who is bewitched, attributed to Elizabeth Southerns’s family and recorded by Thomas Potts during the 1612 witch trials at Lancaster:

A Charme

Upon Good-Friday, I will fast while I may
Untill I heare them knell
Our Lords owne Bell,
Lord in his messe
With his twelve Apostles good,
What hath he in his hand
Ligh in leath wand:
What hath he in his other hand?
Heavens doore key,
Open, open Heaven doore keyes,
Steck, steck hell doore.
Let Crizum child
Goe to it Mother mild,
What is yonder that casts a light so farrandly,
Mine owne deare Sonne that’s naild to the Tree.
He is naild sore by the heart and hand,
And holy harne Panne,
Well is that man
That Fryday spell can
His Childe to learne;
A Cross of Blew, and another of Red,
As good Lord was to the Roode.
Gabriel laid him downe to sleepe
Upon the ground of holy weepe:
Good Lord came walking by,
Sleep’st thou, wak’st thou Gabriel,
No Lord I am sted with sticke and stake,
That I can neither sleepe nor wake:
Rise up Gabriel and goe with me,
The stick nor the stake shall never deere thee.

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