AEcerbot [Field Remedy] Ritual

MS Cotton Caligula, British Library A. VII, fol. 176a-178a, late tenth or early eleventh century. copyright: Karen Louise Jolly, Popular Religion in Late Saxon England: Elf Charms in Context (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), pp. 6-8. Revised 05/17/18. Do not reproduce without permission.

Here is the remedy, how you may better your land, if it will not grow well, or if some harmful thing has been done to it by a sorcerer [dry] or by a poisoner [lyblace].

Take then at night, before it dawns, four sods from four sides of the land, and mark how they stood before.

Take then oil and honey and yeast, and milk of each livestock that is on the land, and a piece of each tree type that grows on the land, except hard beams, and a piece of each plant known by name, except [glappan] only, and put then holy water thereon, and drip then three times on the base of the sods, and say then these words:

[bilingual Latin and Old English:] Crescite, grow, et multiplicamini, and multiply, et replete, and fill, terre, the earth. In nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti sit benedicti. [In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be blessed.] And the Pater noster [Our Father] as often as the other.

And bear afterward the sods into church, and have a masspriest sing four masses over the sods, and have someone turn the green [sides] to the altar, and afterward have someone bring the sods to where they were before, before sunset.

And have made for them of quickbeam four Christ’s signs [crosses], and write on each end: Matthew and Mark, Luke and John. Lay that Christ’s sign in the bottom of the pit, saying then: Crux Matheus, Crux Marcus, Crux Lucas, Crux Sanctus Iohannes.

Take then the sods and set them down there on [the crosses], and say then nine times these words: Crescite [grow], and as often the Pater noster, and turn yourself then eastward, and bow nine times humbly, and say then these words:

Eastward I stand,  for mercies I pray,
I pray the great domine [lord], I pray the powerful lord,
I pray the holy guardian of heaven-kingdom,
earth I pray and sky
and the true  sancta [holy] Mary
and heaven's might  and high hall,
that I may this galdor by the gift of the lord
open with [my] teeth  through firm thought,
to call forth these plants  for our worldly use,
to fill this land  with firm belief,
to beautify this grassy sod,  as the wiseman said
that he would have riches on earth who alms
gave with justice  by the grace of the lord.

Turn then thrice with the sun's course, stretch then out lengthwise, and recite there the litanies, and say then: Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus to the end. Sing then Benedicite with outstretched arms, and Magnificat,and Pater noster thrice, and commend it [the land] to Christ, and Saint Mary, and the holy cross, for praise, and for worship, and for the benefit of the one who owns that land and all those who are serving under him.

When all that is done, then have someone take unknown seed from almsmen, and give them twice as much as the person took from them, and have him gather all his plough tools together. Bore then in the beam [of the plough, putting in?] incense and fennel and hallowed soap and hallowed salt. Take then that seed, set it on the plough's body, say then:

Erce, Erce, Erce,  earth's mother,
May the all-ruler grant you, the eternal lord,
fields growing  and flourishing,
propagating  and strengthening,
tall shafts,  bright crops,
and broad  barley crops,
and white  wheat crops,
and all  earth's crops.
May the eternal lord  grant him,
and his holy ones,  who are in heaven,
that his produce be guarded  against any enemies whatsoever,
and that it be safe  against any harm at all,
from poisons [lyblaca]  sown around the land.
Now I bid the ruler,  who shaped this world,
that there be no speaking-woman [cwidol wif]  nor artful man [craeftig man]
that can overturn  these words thus spoken.

Then have someone drive forth the plough and the first furrow cut. Say then:

Whole may you be [Be well] earth,  mother of men!
May you be growing  in God's embrace,
with food filled  for the needs of men.

Take then each kind of flour, and have someone bake a loaf [the size of] a hand's palm, and knead it with milk and with holy water, and lay it under the first furrow. Say then:

Field full of food  for mankind,
bright-blooming,  you are blessed
in the holy name  of the one who shaped heaven
and the earth  on which we live;
the God, the one who made the ground,  grant us the gift of growing,
that for us each grain  might come to use.

Say then thrice Crescite in nomine patris, sit benedicti [Grow in the name of the father, be blessed]. Amen and Pater noster three times.

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