Elf Charms in the Leechbook
BL MS Royal 12 D XVII, circa 950
copyright: Karen Louise Jolly, Popular Religion in Late Saxon England: Elf Charms in Context (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), pp. 146-67 passim. Do not reproduce without permission from the publishers.
Italics indicate author's summary as opposed to translation.
Table of Contents
selections (click on highlighted numbers to go to the remedy).
Leechbook Book 1
- lxii Leechdoms for fever-disease [feferadle], to heal it; drinks for that; against a third day's fever, and a fourth day's fever, and against any day's fever; and against Lent disease, that is fever, and how a man must against this disease write on a housel dish the holy and great God's name, and wash it into the drink with holy water, and sing over it a holy prayer and the Creed and Pater noster. Ten leechdoms.
- lxiii Leechdoms for a fiend-sick man, drinks for that, and how a man must sing masses and prayers and psalms over the drink, and drink from church bells; and for a man with falling-sickness [br‘cseocum men, "epileptic"], and for the wood heart; and for all these, six crafts.
- lxiv Leechdoms against every evil wise woman [leodrunan] and elf-trick [‘lfsidenne], that is, galdor for a type of fever; and powder and drinks and salve; and if the disease be on animals; and if the disease injure a man, or if a mare ride and injure him. In all seven crafts.
- lxv Leechdoms again for Lent disease; and the four gospelers' [evangelists] names; and writings and prayers; and silently must a man write some writing. Five crafts.
- lxvi Leechdoms for the out-of-mind [ungemynde] and the foolish [dysigum].
Leechbook Book II
lxv Leechdom if a horse be [elf]shot [ofscoten], and for dysentery, and if the evacuation be obstructed, and for the lent disease; again for dysentery, and for poisons [unlybbum], and for the yellow disease, and if on a man there be sudden evils; and to keep the body's health; and for itch and elf; and for land disease and for bite of gangway weaver [spider]; and for diarrhea; and head salves.
Leechbook Book III
- xli Against the fiend's temptation, for a wit-sick man, and a purgative drink
- liv Salve against "night" visitors (nihtgengan), using only natural ingredients, herbs traditionally associated with elves and other such evils (such as lupin and bishopwort).
- lv For a "bound" or possible "ridged" skull, with bizarre treatment.
- lvi An all natural drink for inability to digest meat.
- lvii Against a woman's speech (wif gemaedlan), radish taken at night prevents harm from her talk the next day.
- lviii Against temptation of the fiend: a preventative amulet made of red mullein carried, placed under the pillow, or put over the door.
- lix For an ulcer (theor wenne) on a joint, a hot plaster using only natural ingredients.
- lx A good ear salve, all natural ingredients wrung into the ear.
- lxi "Against elf kind [aelf cynne], a salve; and against nightgoers, and for the ones that the Devil lies with."
- lxii "Against elf disease [aelf adle], leechdom; and again, how a man must sing on the herbs before a man take them, and also how a man must put the herbs under the altar and sing over them; and also signs [tacn] of this, whether it be elf hicket [‘lfsogotha]; and a sign by which you might understand whether a man may heal him; and drinks and prayers against each temptation of the fiend [feondes costunge]."
- lxiii "Signs [tacnu] how you might understand whether a man is in the water-elf disease [w‘eter ‘lf adle]; and leechdom for that, and charm [gealdor] to sing on it; and the same a man may sing on wounds."
- lxiv "Against the Devil, a mild drink; and for madness [ungemynde] and against the Devil's temptation."
- lxv If a man be cut, with instructions as to whether to even attempt to heal him; it recommends an herbal drink, lard, or butter for the wound, cleaning procedures, and a "good red leech" to pull it together.
- lxvi Drink for ulcers (theor), using herbs (including fennel, bishopwort, and betony) blessed with three masses.
- lxvii For Devil sickness and against the Devil, several purgative drinks made with familiar herbs (bishopwort) and holy water.
- lxviii A light drink for "wood heart" (weden heorte) using herbs reminiscent of elf and demon remedies and much liturgy, very similar to I:lxiii.
- lxix-lxx For various stomach ailments, using natural ingredients.
- lxxi-lxxvi Ointments, salves, and drinks for a variety of ailments, including poisons, yellow disease, bowel problems, and other "inward" diseases, ending the book, according to the table of contents, with a holy salve. However, the manuscript breaks off after lxxiii. One herbal salve for a sore (lxxi) has Pater nosters sung over the boiling mixture.
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