Lacnunga Elf Charms

BL MS Harley 585, circa 1050.

copyright: Karen Louise Jolly, Popular Religion in Late Saxon England: Elf Charms in Context (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), pp. xx passim. Do not reproduce without permission from the publishers.


Lacnunga CXXXIV-CXXXV (75-76)

With Faerstice [for a sudden stitch]

Feverfew and the red nettle that grows into a house [or "in the grain"] and waybroad; boil in butter.

Loud were they, lo loud,      when they rode over the mound,
they were fierce      when they rode over the land.
Shield yourself now      that you may escape this evil.
Out, little spear,      if herein you be!
Stood under linden,      under a light shield,
where the mighty women      readied their power,
and they screaming      spears sent.
I back to them      again will send another,
a flying dart      against them in return.
Out, little spear,      if herein it be!
Sat a smith,      forged he a knife,
little iron      strong wound.
Out, little spear,      if herein it be!
Six smiths sat,      war-spears they made.
Out, spear,      not in, spear!
If herin be      a bit of iron,
hag's [haegtesse] work,      it shall melt.
If you were in the skin shot,      or were in flesh shot,
or were in the blood shot,      or were in bone shot,
or were in limb shot,      may your life never be torn apart.
If it were ísir shot,      or it were elves' shot,
or it were hag's shot,      now I will help you.
This your remedy for ísir shot,      this your remedy for Elves' shot;
This your remedy for hag's shot; I will help you.
It fled there into the mountains. . . . no rest had it.
Whole be you now!      Lord help you!

Then take the knife; dip into liquid.


Lacnunga XXIX (11)

This is the holy drink against elf-influence [aelfsidene] and against all the fiend's temptings. Write on a housel dish:

"In principio erat uerbum" usque "non comprehenderunt" et plura: "et circumibat Jesus totam Galileam docens" usque "et secuti sunt eum turbae multae." "Deus in nomine tuo" usque in finem. "Deus misereatur nobis" usque in finem. "Domine deus in adiutorium" usque in finem.

["In the beginning was the word" up to "they did not comprehend" and again: "Jesus went round all Galilee teaching" up to "and a great crowd followed after him." "God in your name" up to the end. "God have mercy on us" up to the end. "Lord God to our aid" up to the end.]

Take cristalan and tansy and zedoary and hassock and fennel, and take a sester [pitcher?] full of sanctified wine.

And order an immaculate [unmaelne, "spotless"] person to fetch silently against the stream half a sester of running water.

Take then and lay all the herbs in the water, and therein wash the writing from the housel dish very cleanly. Pour then the hallowed wine over the other.

Bear it then to church; have Masses sung over [it], one Omnibus, another Contra tribulationem, a third Sanctam marian.

Sing these supplicatory psalms: Miserere mei Deus, Deus in nomine tuo, Deus misereatur nobis, Domine deus, Inclina domine. And the Creed, and Gloria in excelsis deo, and the litanies, Pater noster.

And bless earnestly in the Almighty Lord's name, and say In nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti sit benedictum. [In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, be it blessed].

Use it then.


Lacnunga CLXIV (97)

If a horse be shot:

Sanentur animalia in orbe terre et ualitudine uexantur; in nomine dei patris et filii et spiritus sancti extinguatur [extingunt] diabolus per impositionem manum nostrarum; quis [quas] nos separabit [separavimus] a caritate Christi; per inuocationem omnium sanctorum tuorum; per eum qui uiuit et regnat in secula seculorum. Amen.

"Domine quid multiplicati sunt" III.

[May the beasts on earth be healed, they are vexed in health; in the name of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit let the Devil be expelled through the imposition of our hands; who shall separate us from the love of Christ; through the invocation of all your saints; through Him who lives and reigns forever. Amen. "Lord, wherefore they are increased" thrice.]

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