Monday, August 8, 2011

Boil, Boil, Toil and Trouble: Cooking Up Magic With Olde Spells...

"Much discourse hath been about gathering of fern-seed, which is looked upon as a magical herb, on the night of Midsummer Eve, and I remember I was told of one that went to gather it, and the Spirits whiskt by his ears like bulltes, and sometimes struck his hat, and other parts of his body: in fine, though he apprehended that he had gotten a quantity of it, and secured it in papers, and a box besides, when he came home, he found all empty."  R. Bovet from Pandemonium or The Devil's Cloyster (1684)

"The forked root of the mandrake gave it the appearance of a human being.  It was supposed to bleed when cut, and its scream when pulled out of the ground could have a fearful effect.  Juliet, expecting to hear frightening cries from the crypt, exclaimed, 'shrieks like mandrakes torn out of the earth, that living mortals hearing them run mad'."  Michael Drayton from Nimphidia (1627) [And you thought J. K. Rowling made that up, didn't you?--ch]

"Thrice toss these oaken ashes in the air,
Thrice sit thou mute in this enchanted chair;
And thrice three times, tie up this true love's knot!
And murmur soft 'she will, or she will not'.

Go burn these poisonous weeds in yon blue fire,
These screech-owl's feathers and this prickling briar;
This cypress gathered at a dead man's grave'
That all thy fears and cares, an end may have.

Then come, you Fairies, dance with me a round!
Melt her hard heart with your melodius sound!
In vain are all the charms I can devise:
She hath an art to break them with her eyes."
   Thomas Campion from Book of Ayres (c. 1611)

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