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The Evil Eye

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The Creeper
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« Reply #60 on: May 01, 2009, 12:44:45 am »

papyrus, now known as the "Book of the Dead," which Maspero, describes as a "Complete Handbook to Hell," giving not only an itinerary of the route but all the spells, incantations, and prayers for each stage of the journey.

The very curious part of these provisions is that idealism seems to have run riot, as though the dead himself, in whose actual existence there was devout belief, would be satisfied with a mere make-believe, or even the picture of the article he needed. They seem to have thought that in the future state the person deceased would be so readily deceived, as to consider himself provided for by the most innocently transparent counterfeits. 77

This remarkable belief in the easy gullibility of the departed was by no means confined to the ancient Egyptians, for among the Chinese is found a custom at present, which, seeing that in China habits change not, we may conclude to be of ancient date.

Archdeacon MacCullagh, long resident in China, says that Chinamen still believe that paper money passes current in the next world as it used to do with them in 'this. They also believe that as the person is dead, so must his money be with which he is to be furnished in the place to which he has gone. They therefore kill the money for him by burning it, in order that he may have dead or killed money.


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« Reply #61 on: May 01, 2009, 12:44:56 am »

Paper currency has been for many centuries abolished in China, but the people will not believe it to be so in the world of spirits. They therefore prepare spurious paper money in imitation of the old extinct currency, which they burn at the funeral, and also annually at the grave of their departed relative. The Egyptians did almost the same thing: they broke the arms placed with the dead. This killed them, and set their ghosts free to follow their dead master. 78

Such deception, which they think suitable for the spiritual world, evidently will not do for the present: at the death of a Chinaman, his friends present coins, of small value indeed, but real, to all corners, in order to make friends for the departed who may possibly meet him in the place where he is gone. The terra-cotta cakes at the Ashmolean Museum, so like modern Neapolitan loaves, must be such as would be placed with the dead man, by way of satisfying his appetite on his journey to the happy hunting grounds.

Nor can we say that this notion of being able to deceive the dwellers in the unseen world is confined to ancient or specially superstitious people, when we see altars in churches, dedicated to departed saints, bedecked in their honour with flowers of painted tin or coloured calico, stuck in sham vases of tinselled wood.

Again, nearer home, when we see the wreaths of beads strung on wires, of tin leaves and tinted flowers placed under glass shades upon the graves in our cemeteries, we wonder if the "Ka," or the


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« Reply #62 on: May 01, 2009, 12:45:28 am »

shade of the departed, when it visits the cast-off mortal coil, will be deceived by these cheap counterfeits. We fear we must conclude that such things can only be classed, even in this nineteenth century, as mere examples of the performances of sympathetic magic, to be summed up in the famous words of Erasmus to Sir Thomas More: "Crede ut habes et habes."

In our Somerset County Museum at Taunton is to be seen more than one heart, said to be those of pigs, stuck full of pins
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FIG. 4
 
and thorns, which have been found not long ago in old houses near the writer's home. The illustrations are careful drawings from the originals and represent actual size. 79 These hearts are also said to be malignant in design as well as protective: that the persons who stuck those pins into the hearts, had special ill-will, and desired to work injury against the person in whose house they were found. They entertained the old,


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« Reply #63 on: May 01, 2009, 12:46:07 am »



FIG. 4
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« Reply #64 on: May 01, 2009, 12:46:53 am »



FIG. 5
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« Reply #65 on: May 01, 2009, 12:47:50 am »

old belief that the heart is the seat of life, and therefore a fit representative or symbol of a living person. They believed that the heart of the hated person would suffer from the pricking inflicted upon the pig's heart, and that as the latter dried up and withered, so would the heart and the life of the victim against whom the act was designed.

The Bakongo people "believe the spirit is situated
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FIG. 5
 
in the middle of the heart, and it is regarded as the mainspring of action, so that to bewitch the spirit in a man's heart is to cause him to waste away and die." 80 The charm doctor is the great spiritual power: his business is to find out the witch who has eaten the heart of a newly deceased person.

A few years ago, also in this same neighbourhood,
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« Reply #66 on: May 01, 2009, 12:48:08 am »

an onion was found hidden in a chimney, with a paper stuck round it by numberless pins; on this was written the name of a well-known and highly-respected gentleman, a large employer of labour.

The other day I 81 was at the Court House, East Quantoxhead, and was shown in the chimney of a now disused kitchen--suspended--a sheep's heart stuck full of pins. I think Captain L------ told me that this was done by persons who thought themselves "overlooked" or "ill-wished;" also to prevent the descent of witches down the chimney. . . . The heart is in good preservation.

In 1875 the village of Worle, near Weston-super-Mare, was in a commotion about the death of a "varth o' paigs," and the owner sent for a "wise man" from Taan'tn, who laid it to the charge of four


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« Reply #67 on: May 01, 2009, 12:48:28 am »

village wives, all of whom he declared he would bring to the house of the aggrieved party to beg for mercy and forgiveness.

The heart of one of the defunct pigs was stuck full of pins and then thrown on the fire--the owner and his wife sitting by and "waiting for poor old Mrs. ------ to come and ask why they were hurting her." The remarkable coincidence followed these proceedings, that the old woman, who bore a bad reputation for "overlooking," should have met her death by falling into the fire on her own hearth. We are not told how soon this event followed the burning of the heart. 82

Another recent instance in Somerset. An old woman living in the Mendip district had her pig "took bad," and of course at once concluded that it was "overlooked." As usual in such cases, a white witch was applied to. 83 The following is what took place in obedience to his orders.

A sheep's heart was stuck full of pins and roasted before the fire. While this was being done, the assembled people chanted the following incantation:--

It is not this heart I mean to burn,
But the person's heart I wish to turn,
Wishing them neither rest nor peace
Till they are dead and gone.

At intervals, in response to a request of "Put a little more salt on the fire, George," the son of the old woman bewitched, sprinkled the fire, thus adding a ghastly yellow light to the general effect. After this had gone on far into the night, the inevitable "black cat" jumped out from somewhere, and was pronounced to be the fiend which had been exorcised." 84




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« Reply #68 on: May 01, 2009, 12:48:58 am »

Closely allied to these practices is that of the maidens in Shropshire, who drop needles and pins into the wells at Wenlock, to arrest and fix the affections of their lovers. 85 Nor is this particular form of sympathetic enchantment, which here in Somerset is a very common one, by any means confined to this country.

A year or two ago a friend showed me in Naples an almost identical object, within a few days of its discovery: the following is his own account of it:--

In 1892 Mr. William Smith, English grocer at Naples, in course of cleaning his house, took down his curtains, and on the top of the valence-board found the object. Mrs. Smith presented it to Mr. Neville Rolfe, knowing that he took an interest in such things. He showed it to his cook, an old man, who was as ignorant and superstitious as ever a Neapolitan could be; and he was so horror-stricken (thinking it had been sent to the house by some evil-disposed person) that he declined to remain in the house unless the object were at once sent out of it! Mr. Rolfe, accordingly, lent it to the Museum at Oxford. It consists of an ordinary Neapolitan green lemon, into which twenty-four clout-headed nails and half a dozen wire nails are stuck, the nails being secured by a string twisted round their heads. The cook asserted that after the thing was made by the witches, they put it above a brazier, and danced round it naked, thus making it of deadly power. Many stories are current in Naples of the efficacy of the incantations practised by the witches, and especially of one who resided in Mergellina, a part of Naples still mainly inhabited by fishermen.

It appears that in Southern Italy the article is so common as to have a regular name, Fattura della


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« Reply #69 on: May 01, 2009, 12:49:15 am »

morte (deathmaker), and that it is constantly employed in the same manner, and for the same purpose, as the pig's heart or onion is with us. Fig. 6 is from a drawing of this remarkable object now in the Pitt Rivers Museum. 86 The string or yarn twisted

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« Reply #70 on: May 01, 2009, 12:49:55 am »



FIG. 6
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« Reply #71 on: May 01, 2009, 12:50:08 am »

about the nails, though now blackened by dirt and age, seems to have been originally coloured.

Who can deny that along with the onion as an eatable tuber, which almost certainly came to us from Italy, we may also have received the practice of the fattura della morte?

The winding of the thread or yarn amongst the nails has doubtless its especial meaning, and is certainly a relic of ancient days, for Petronius, writing of certain incantations performed for the purpose of freeing a certain Encolplus from a spell, says: "She then took from her bosom a web of twisted threads of various colours, and bound it on my neck." 87



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« Reply #72 on: May 01, 2009, 12:50:26 am »

The same custom of tying threads of many colours on the necks of infants as part of a charm against fascination is mentioned by Persius. 88

The foregoing examples are intended to show sympathetic magic in its destructive or evil-working side, but we may easily find instances of its use for beneficent or at least harmless purposes. The idea prevails in various parts of South Wales, where at certain holy wells, each having a separate reputation of its own for specific diseases, the faithful hang a piece of rag, after having rubbed it over the part diseased, upon some special tree or bush near the well, in the belief that the rag absorbs the ailment, and that the sufferer will be cured. One or more of these trees are covered with pieces of rag placed on it by the believers. There is, in some instances, an accompaniment of dropping pins into the well, but it does not appear whether this act has any particular connection with the rag; though it is suggested that the pin or button dropped into the well is a make-believe votive offering to the presiding spirit. There are besides many famous wishing wells, where by the practice of certain acts, such as dropping pins, maidens learn who is to be their lover; also on the other hand ill-wishing is practised; for corks stuck with pins are set afloat in them, and the hearts of enemies are wounded thereby. 89

One of our commonest cures for warts is: "Take a dew-snail and rub it on the wart, then stick the



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« Reply #73 on: May 01, 2009, 12:50:54 am »

snail upon a white thorn, and as the snail dries up and 'goes away' so will the wart." 90 Another is: "Steal a piece of fresh raw beef and rub that upon the wart, then bury it where nobody sees, and as the meat perishes, so will the wart." In both these cases secrecy is of the essence of the act--if any one is told or knows what is done, except the person performing, the result will be nothing. Sympathetic medicine is no less an active force than the evil-working magic of which examples have been given. The following recipe, called "The Cure of Wounds by the Powder of Sympathy," is a serious one, and throws light upon the art and science of surgery just two hundred years ago.

Take good English Vitriol which you may buy for 2d. a pound, dissolve it in warm water, using no more than will dissolve it, leaving some of the impurest part at the bottom undissolved, then pour it off and filtre it, which you may do by a coffin of pure gray paper put into a Funnel, or by laying a sheet of gray paper in a sieve, and pouring your water or Dissolution of Vitriol into it by degrees, setting the sieve upon a large Pan to receive the filtred Liquor: when all your Liquor is filtred boyl it in an Earthen vessel glazed, till you see a thin scum upon it; then set in a cellar to cool covering it loosly, so that nothing may fall in: after two or three days standing, pour off the Liquor, and you will find at the bottom and on the sides large and fair green Chrystals like Emerauds: drain off all the water clean from them, and dry them, then spread them abroad in a large flat earthen dish, and expose them to the hot sun on the Dog-days, taking them in at Night and setting them out in the Morning, securing them from the rain; and when the Sun hath calcin'd them to whiteness, beat them to powder and set this powder again in the Sun, stirring it sometimes, and when you see it perfectly white, powder it, and sift it finely, and set it again in the Sun for a day, and you will have a pure white powder, which is the Powder of Sympathy, which put in a glass and stop it close. The next year when the Dog-days come if you have any of this powder left


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« Reply #74 on: May 01, 2009, 12:51:12 am »

you may expose it in the Sun, spreading it abroad to renew its vertue by the Influence of the Sunbeams.

The way of curing wounds with it, is to take some of the blood upon a Rag, and put some of the Powder upon the blood, then keep only the wound clean, with a clean Linnen about it, and in a moderate temper betwixt hot and cold, and wrap the Rag with the blood, and keep it either in your Pocket, or in a Box, and the Wound will be healed without any Oyntment or Plaister, and without any pain. But if the wound be somewhat Old and Hot and Inflamed, you must put some of this Powder into a Porringer or Bason full of cold water, and then put anything into it that hath been upon the wound, and hath some of the blood or matter upon it, and it will presently take away all Pain and Inflamation as you see in Sir Kenelm's Relation of Mr. Howard.

To staunch the Blood either of a Wound or bleeding at the Nose, take only some of the Blood upon a Rag, and put some Powder upon it; or take a Bason with fresh water and put some Powder into it; and bath the Nostrils with it. 91

"A few years ago in India, during a cholera scare," a witness tells the writer, "a woman dressed in fantastic style was led by two men up to an infected house, with the usual following of tom-toms and musicians. A fire with much smoke was made outside, and the woman, who represented the cholera spirit, was completely fumigated amidst much ceremony, prayers, and great din. Nothing whatever was done to house or patient; in two days, however, the cholera had ceased."

We also include here all the many harvest customs, the Maypoles, the jacks in the Green, with all their dancing and merrymaking, as being more or less dramatic representations of the ends all these acts and ceremonies were originally intended to produce. Surely the Lord and Lady of the May, the King and Queen of the May, the actual marriage of trees, are something more than mere types or emblems of


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