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7-' ^^ iW 'i^,  0^ -  






Etruscan Roman Remains 






















Introduction i 




II. MASO— MANIA DELLA NOTTE .......... 49 



URFIA . . • • . . . , , , .0^ 


SETHANO ............. 80 




TO SPIRITS . . .13^ 



CAVALLETTA . . . . . • ' 59 




















INDEX . . . . • 377 



TURAN, OR VENUS. (From Gerhard, who gives it as one of the Ddmonen der Aphrodite. 

Probably an error. — Charles G. Leland) ..... Frontispiece 


TURMs, OR MERCURY. (Initial T) ......... . I 

tinia, JUPITER. (Initial I) ........... i8 

aplu (apollo), tinia, and t£ram6 (jupffer and mercury) ..... 20 

TiRAM6 (turus; mercury) ........... 24 

NORTiA. (Initial T) ..... .34 

NORTiA. (Full-page, restored) ........... 35 

APLU (apollo) and ARTEMISIA .......... 39 

PAN, PANO. (From Gori) 46 

lasa. (Headpiece) ............ 49 

MARS, MAso. (Initial O) ........... 49 

MARS, WINGED. (Gerhard) ........... 50 

MARS. (Full-page, after a bronze) .......... 52 

EVIL sPiRrr. (Etruscan.) (Tailpiece) . . . . . . 53 

DIANA AND viRBius. (Headpiccc) . . . 54 

FERONiA. (Initial T) ............ 54 

SILVANUS AND NYMPH ............ 59 

HOUSE GOBLIN, OR ETRUSCAN BROWNIE. (Tailpiece) ....... 64 

HEADPIECE. (From rude Etruscan vase) 65 

FUFLUNs (bacchus). (Initial T) .......... 65 


ETRUSCAN ORNAMENT. (From Dcnnis). (Tailpiece) . . . . 71 

coRREDoio. (Initial I) . . . . . 72 


CUPIDS. (Headpiece) ............ 80 

LASA. (Initial B) • 80 

LASA, OR GUARDIAN SPIRIT ........... 8 1 

LASA OR FAIRY, AND FAUNUS ........... 85 

TINIA AND LASA ............. 88 

LOSNA. (From a Mirror) ........... 92 




. G. L.) 

TAGO, TAGES ....•• 

FAUN. (From a Patera) .... 


ROMAN MASK (in British Museum) and cupids. 
CARRADORA. (Initial C) 


ALPAN. (Corssen) . 
ETRUSCAN VASE. (Tailpiece) 


MUNTHUCHA. (Corssen) 


LEMUREs. (Headpiece) 
FLORiA. (Initial T) 


iL spiRiTo DEL SCALDING. (Initial D) (C 

HEADPIECE . . . • 

cuPRA. (Initial O) 

Dusio. (Vignette.) (C. G. L.) 


INITIAL W . . . • 


FAUN, OR FAFLON (bacchus). (Tailpiece) 

HEADPIECE . . • • • 


LOSNA. (From Bronze Votive Offerings) 
HEADPIECE. (From Vase, Museum of Florence) 
INITIAL T. (C. G. L.) 


INITIAL I. (C. G. L.) 


writer.) 2. old roman magic bell 



BOY AND LANTERN. (Vignette) 



(In possession of thc 










J 59 

















editions and observances little changed from an incredibly early time. It has 
been a question of late years whether the Bolognese are of Etrurian origin, 
and it seems to have been generally decided that they are not With this I 
have nothing whatever to do. They were probably there before the Etruscans. 
But the latter at one time held all Italy, and it is very likely that they left in 
remote districts those traces of their culture to which this book refers. The 
name Romagna is applied to their district because it once formed part of the Papal 
or Roman dominion, and it is not to be confounded with La Romagna proper. 
Roughly speaking, the region to which I refer may be described as lying between 
Forli and Ravenna. Among these people, stregeria^ or witchcraft — or, as I have 
heard it called, '^ la vecchia religione'' (or "the old religion") — exists to a degree 
which would even astonish many Italians. This stregeria^ or old religion, is some- 
thing more than a sorcery, and something less than a faith. It consists in remains 
of a mythology of spirits, the principal of whom preserve the names and attributes 
of the old Etruscan gods, such as Tinia^ or Jupiter, FafloUy or Bacchus, and Teramo 
(in Etruscan Turms\ or Mercury. With these there still exist, in a few memories, 
the most ancient Roman rural deities, such as Silvanus. Palus, Pan, and the Fauns. 
To all of these invocations or prayers in rude metrical form are still addressed, or 
are at least preserved, and there are many stories current regarding them. All of 
these names, with their attributes, descriptions of spirits or gods, invocations and 
legends, will be found in this work. 

Closely allied to the belief in these old deities, is a vast mass of curious 
tradition, such as that there is a spirit of every element or thing created, as for 
instance of every plant and mineral, and a guardian or leading spirit of all 
animals ; or, as in the case of silkworms, two — one good and one evil. Also 
that sorcerers and witches are sometimes born again in their descendants; 
that all kinds of goblins, brownies, red-caps and three-inch mannikins, haunt 
forests, rocks, ruined towers, firesides and kitchens, or cellars, where they 
alternately madden or delight the maids — in short, all of that quaint company 
of familiar spirits which are boldly claimed as being of Northern birth by 
German archaeologists, but which investigation indicates to have been thoroughly 
at home in Italy while Rome was as yet young, or, it may be, unbuilt. Whether 
this "lore" be Teutonic of Italian, or due to a common Aryan or Asian origin, 
or whether, as the new school teaches, it "growed" of itself, like Topsy, 
spontaneously and sporadically everywhere, I will not pretend to determine ; 
suffice to say that I shall be satisfied should my collection prove to be of any 
value to those who take it on themselves to settle the higher question. 

Connected in turn with these beliefs in folletti^ or minor spirits, and their 


attendant observances and traditions, are vast numbers of magical cures with 
appropriate incantations, spells, and ceremonies, to attract love, to remove all 
evil influences or bring certain things to pass ; to win in gaming, to evoke 
spirits, to insure good crops or a traveller*s happy return, and to effect 
divination or deviltry in many curious ways — all being ancient, as shown by 
allusions in classical writers to whom these spells were known. And I believe 
that in some cases what I have gathered and given will possibly be found to 
supply much that is missing in earlier authors — sit verba venia. 

Many peasants in the Romagna Toscana are familiar with scores of these 
spells, but the skilled repetition and execution of them is in the hands of 
certain cryptic witches, and a few obscure wizards who belong to mystic 
families, in which the occult art is preserved from generation to generation, 
under jealous fear of priests, cultured people, and all powers that be, just as 
gypsies and tramps deeply distrust everything that is not "on the road," or 
all " honest folk," so that it is no exaggeration to declare that " travellers " have 
no confidence or faith in the truth of any man, until they have caught him 
telling a few lies. As it indeed befell me myself once in Bath, where it was 
declared in a large gypsy encampment that I must be either Romany or 
of Romany blood, because I was the biggest liar they had ever met — the lie 
in this case having been an arrogant and boastful, yet true, assertion on my 
part, that though penniless at the moment to stand treat, I had, at home, 
twenty-four gold sovereigns, eighteen shillings in silver, and twopence in 

bronze " And I don't believe," added the gypsy, " that he had a d d sixpence 

to his name. But Ms all right'' So these travellers on the darkened road of 
sorcery soon recognised in the holder of the Black Stone of the Voodoo, the pupil 
of the Red Indian medaolin^ and the gypsy rye (and one who had, moreover, his 
pocket always full of fetishes in little red bags) — a man who was worthy of confi- 
dence — none the less so since he was not ungenerous of pounds of coffee, small 
bottles of rum, cigars, and other minor requisites which greatly promote conviviality 
and mutual understanding in wisdom. Among these priestesses of the hidden 
spell an elder dame has generally in hand some younger girl whom she instructs, 
firstly in the art of bewitching or injuring enemies, and secondly in the more 
important processes of annulling or unbinding the spells of others, or causing 
mutual love and conferring luck. And here I may observe that many of the 
items given in this book are so jealously guarded as secrets, that, as I was assured, 
unless one was in the confidence of those who possess such lore, he might seek it 
in vain. Also that a great portion has become so nearly extinct that it is now in 
artiado mortis^ velifi extremis^ while other details are however still generally known. 


An interesting and very curious portion of my book consists of a number of 
occult remedies, still preserved from remote antiquity among the mountain 
peasantry. Marcellus Burdigalensis, court physician to the Emperor Honorius 
made a collection, in the fourth century, of one hundred magical cures for dis- 
orders, such as were current in his time among the rural classes. He gathered 
them, as he informs us in a work entitled De MedUamentis Empiricis^ "* ab agrestibus 
et plebeis'' (" from rustics and common people"). The collection has been edited 
by Jacob Grimm in a work entitled Uber Marcellus Burdigalensis^ Berlin, 1849. 
These " charms " were very ancient even in the time of Marcellus, and, like most 
early Roman magic, were probably of Tuscan or Etrurian origin. Of these one 
hundred sorceries I have found about one-half still in current use, or at least 
known. As given by Marcellus they are often imperfect, many incantations being 
wanting. Some of these I have been able to supply, and I think that no critical 
reader, who will compare all that I have collected, will doubt that these Italian 
formulas contain at least the spirit of antique originals. 

In addition to this I have included a number of curious tales, anecdotes, and 
instances, many of which are identical with, or allied to, much which is narrated by 
Ovid, Virgil, Pliny, Cato, Varro, and others — the result of it all being that a careful 
comparison of the w/iole can hardly fail to convince us that the peasantry of the 
Romagna Toscana, who have lived with little change since prehistoric times, have 
preserved, through Etruscan, Latin, and Christian rule, a primaeval Shamanism or 
a rude animism — that is, worship of spirits — and a very simple system of sorcery 
which can hardly fail to deeply interest every student of ethnology. 

The result of my researches has been the collection of such a number of magic 
formulas, tales, and poems as would have exceeded reasonable limits, both as to 
pages and my readers' patience, had I published them all. What I have given 
will, I believe, be of very great interest to all students of classical lore of every 
kind, and extremely curious as illustrating the survival to the present day of " the 
Gods in Exile " in a far more literal manner, and on a much more extensive scale 
than Heine ever dreamed of And I think that it will be found to illustrate many 
minor questions. Thus, for example, Miiller in his great work on the Etruscans 
could hardly have doubted that the Lases were the same as the LareSy had he 
known that the spirits of ancestors are still called in the Romagna, Lasit, Lasi^ or 

I must here express my great obligations and gratitude to my friend. Pro- 
fessor — now Senator— D. Comparetti,of Florence, who not only placed his admirable 
library at my disposal, but also aided me materially by "advice, cautions, and 
criticism." Also to his son-in-law, Professor Milani, the Director of the Archaeo- 


logical and Etruscan Museum, and who, as an Etruscan antiquary is, I believe, 
second to none. I would here direct attention to his great forthcoming work, Le 
Diviniteela religione degli EirusciQ'Oxx the Deities and religion of the Etruscans"), 
which is a complete account of all which is known on the subject. 

As regards truthfulness or authenticity, I must observe that the persons from 
whom these items were obtained were in every instance far too illiterate to com- 
prehend my real object in collecting. They were ignorant of everything classical 
to a degree which is supposed to be quite unusual in Italy. I have read many 
times lists of the names of Roman deities without having one recognised, till all at 
once I would be called on to stop — generally at an Etruscan name — there would 
be a minute's reflection, and then the result given. It was the same with regard to 
accounts of superstitions, tales, or other lore — they were very often not recognised 
at all, or else they would be recalled with very material alterations. Had there 
been deceit in the case, there would have been of course a prompt " yes " to every- 
thing. But in most cases my informants gave me no answer at the time, but went 
to consult with other witches, or delayed to write to friends in La Romagna. Thus 
it often happened that I was from weeks to years in collecting certain items. The 
real pioneer in folk-lore like this, has always a most ungrateful task. He has to 
overcome difficulties of which few readers have any conception, and must struggle 
with the imperfect language, memories, and intelligences of ignorant old people 
who have half-forgotten traditions, or of more ignorant younger ones who have 
only half learned them. Now I have been, as regards all this, as exact as circum- 
stances permitted, and should any urge that nlkil est^ quod aira et diligentia perfici 
/laud possit, I can only reply that in this work I exhausted mine. And it is un- 
fortunately true that in collecting folk-lore, as in translation, the feeblest critic can 
pick out no end of errors as he will, or show how he could have bettered it, in re- 
viewing the very best books on the subject — which is one great cause in this our 
day why many of the best books are never written. For truly there is not much 
money to be made thereby, and if discredit be added thereunto, one can only say 
as the Scotch " meenister " did to his wife : " If ye have nae fortune, and nae grace^ 
God knows I have got but a sair bairgain in ye." 

It should be observed that cUl these superstitions, observances, legends, names, 
and attributes of spirits are at present far from being generally known. Much of 
the lore was originally confined to the strege^ or witches — who are few and far be- 
tween — as constituting secrets of their unlawful profession. Again, of late, the 
younger generation have ceased to take any interest in such matters, and as regards 
the names of certain spirits, it is with difficulty that a few old people, or even one 
here and there, can be found who remember them. Mindful of this, I took great 


pains to verify by every means in my power the authenticity of what I have given, 
especially the names and attributes of spirits or gods. My most intelligent col- 
lector did her best to aid by referring to more than one vecchia^ or old woman. An 
intelligent young contadino was specially employed at this work. He went on 
market days when the peasantry came down in numbers from the mountains, and 
asked the old women and men from different places, if they knew this or that 
spirit. He was eminently successful in verifying nearly all the names which I have 
here given. But he declared that he found it very difficult as regarded some of them, 
firstly, because only a very few old people knew the names which I was specially 
desirous of confirming, such as those of Tinia, Faflon, and Teram6, and that, 
secondly, these people were very averse to communicating what they knew, because 
such subjects are scongiuratiy or prohibited by the priests. Adhering closely to 
the letters of his instructions, he however not only obtained the verifications, but 
induced a number of old peasants to write certificates, or fogliettini^ as to what 
they had affirmed. These, written on strips of writing-paper of different colours, 
have a curious effect, looking something like testimonials of character of the ancient 
deities, as if the latter were seeking situations or charity. The following are speci- 
mens of these documents : — 

*'The Lasii are spirits of our ancestors, and are known at Santa Sofia. 

*• March, 1891." 

** Fafflond {Faflon) or Fardel is the spirit of wine. He is known at Politeo (i.e.y Portico). 

"Ottavio Magrini." 

** Tigna, the great spirit of lightning, has l)een generally known here in Dovadola from ancient times. 

"V. Del' Vivo.*' 

**Teramo is the spirit of merchants, thieves and messengers. He is known at San Benedetto, where the 

deeds of this spirit have lieen related for many years. 

''March, 1891." 

Enrico Rossi testifies of Mania della Notte — the nightmare — that, ** She was 
remembered once by many, but now it is a long time since any one at Galeata has 
spoken of her.*' I have more of these certificates ; suffice it to say that the youth, 
aided by his father and friends, succeeded in abundantly verifying all the names, 
save three or four. I should say, however, that these agents were exceptionally 
well qualified for the task, there being a very wise woman — in fact two — in 
the family. In some few cases they varied the orthography of the names. 
Thus " Peppino " declares in a letter that the correct name of Faflon is Faflo^ 
and that the Lasii are Ilasie. What I would say is that I took all the pains 
in my power to verify the truth as to the actual existence of the names and 


attributes of these spirits, as well as of the other subjects of folk-lore given in this 

There is another difficulty or contradiction to be noted. Many superstitions 
and observances are recorded as if they were still in familiar current use, or well 
known, which are in reality almost forgotten ; while others again are tolerably 
familiar to the multitude. I have often spoken of things as living which are rapidly 
becoming obsolete because my informants did so, after the fashion of old people — 
ut est d nobis pauloante cornmemoratum, I have been told that these stories and 
rites are perishing very rapidly, that twenty years ago an incredibly vast and curious 
collection of them could have been made, and that ten years hence it will probably 
be impossible to find the names of the old deities, or more than a mere fragment 
of what I have preserved, and that a great deal has perished or vanished from among 
the people even since I first began to collect it. For all of this I crave due allow- 
ance. I have also to request it for what may strike some readers as a defect. A 
great deal of this folk-lore came from persons who had learned it long ago, and 
who, consciously or unconsciously, had often only a dim recollection of a song or 
incantation, and so, voluntarily or involuntarily, repeated it, perhaps imperfectly, 
just as it would have been done among the contadini, who are by no means ac- 
curate in such matters, and yet are endowed with a great gift for improvising. 
That the motive or tradition existed in every case, and that its sense is preserved, I 
am sure. I simply urge that I have collected and published as zvell as I could^ 
doing my best to select from a terribly mixed and confused mass of material, and 

that I can do no more. Further sifting must be done by those better qualified 
than I am. 

What will seem strange to many readers is that so many of the incantations 

and other portions of narrative which I have given in measure or rhyme, are in the 

original quite devoid of both, and seem to be mere prose. I call special attention 

to this, because it has been to me a special difficulty. What I have heard sung to 

airs, so that it sounded melodiously, I have rendered in something like poetic form 

What is called cantare alia contadinesca (" singing country fashion ") means to sing 

prose in a peculiar kind of chant To illustrate this I may mention that there is 

one very popular little song : — 

* ' Ma guerda la Rusena 
A fazeda a la finestra," 

which has not either in Romagnolo nor in Italian a trace of rhyme or rhythm, and 
which, as it was given to me in writing, seemed much more prosaic than are the 
majority of the incantations, or poems, in this work. 


I am indebted to Senator Comparetti, of Florence, for pointing out to me 
the fact that this would strike many readers as a fault, and I have therefore devoted 
to it a special explanation. But I also owe to his extensive knowledge the remark 
that it is not less true that in many countries, as for instance the Slavonian, we see 
popular incantations now passing rapidly from poetry into- mere prose. For this 
is the first stage of decay, and it is natural enough that those who have acquired 
folk-lore in this uncertain, half-changed, shifting form should give it again im- 
perfectly. When the next generation comes it will be altogether lost, and then 
perhaps antiquaries would be thankful for such books, even if they were as full of 
defects as this of mine. Of which it may be observed that those who insist that 
all which is collected and published shall be absolutely and unquestionably 
faultless as regards every detail, while they certainly secure for themselves the 
gold all smelted and certified for them to manufacture or coin, exclude from 
commerce all ore or alloyed metal from which more skilful metallurgists may 
extract even greater values. I do not by saying this offer an apology for 
carelessness^ or worse, but a hint that by exacting too much we may lose a 
great deal, as did the ancient Greeks who threw away as refuse from the 
mines of Laurium a vast amount of precious metal which modern science has 
turned to great profit. 

But I have what I think is a good reason for giving translations of so many 
incantations and songs in measure and rhyme. There is a remark by Heine to the 
effect that many people think that when they have caught a butterfly, put a pin 
through it, and preserved it with some chemical, that they really have a perfect speci- 
men ; and it is in this spirit that many study folk-lore. But that is not a butterfly 
at all. For to such a " flying flower," as the Chinese call it, there belongs the 
exquisite fluttering in sunshine, the living grace of its moving wings, and lines of 
flight — curves within curves, as in a living arabesque of motion — " from shade to 
sunlight among summer flowers." One of these contadina songs, as sung with 
melody and expression, is a living butterfly, but when written down — with a pen 
through it — it has lost its life. And as rhyme and measure to a degree restore this, 
I have thought that by giving these songs such form I have come somewhat nearer 
to the spirit of the originals. I could also have given in every instance the 
Romagnolo-Bolognese, but this my limits positively forbid. Many, perhaps most, 
of my readers will understand Italian, but very few Romagnolo or Bolognese. As 
regards the very bad quality of the Italian, every reader will understand that I 
have given it with very little correction. 

I will not, however, be understood as going to the very extreme limits of 
humility and apology as regards these poems. A great many are in themselves 


strikingly beautiful, original, and imbued with a classic and often delicately appro- 
priate spirit — as in those to Pan and Faflon — and the women from whom they were 
derived could absolutely have no more invented them than they could have 
invented the flying-machine of the future or settled " the great national Italian 
problem " of flaying peasants without hurting them, or eating a cake and having it. 
This is simply true, and as not a line or letter of them came ever so indirectly from 
me, the question is simply, how could women, so illiterate as to hardly understand 
what they repeated, have invented it all — much more, how could they have woven 
into them, as is done in most cases, th^ most classical and appropriate allusions, 
characteristics, and colour ? Of all of which I can truly say, that if my informants 
really manufactured these incantations, the interest and value of my book is 
thereby augmented a hundredfold, as being the most remarkable pi^ce de nianti- 
facture ever presented to the public. 

What will strike many readers as strange is that there should have existed to 
the present day — though it is now rapidly disappearing — in a Roman Catholic 
country, an ancient heathen religion of sorcery, from earliest Tuscan times. - That 
such a survival under such a stratum is not without parallel, I have shown by 
an incident, which is thus described in my Gypsy Sorcery : — 

" It has been discovered of late years in India, that during thousands of years of Brahminic, Buddhistic 
and Mahometan rule, there always existed among the people a rude Shamanism, or worship of spirits and 
stones, eked out with coarse sorcery, which formed a distinct religion by itself, and which came to light as soon 
as British government removed religious oppression. This religion consisted of placing small rocks after the 
fashion of Stonehenge and other * Druidic ' monuments, and in other rites of the most primitive kind. And 
it is very evident that the oldest religions everywhere are founded on such a faith." 

But I was much more astonished to find that in Tuscany, the most enlightened 
portion of Italy, under all Roman rule an old pagan faith, or something like it, has 
existed to a most extraordinary degree. For it is really not a mere chance sur- 
vival of superstitions here and there, as in England or France, but a complete 
system, as this work will abundantly prove. A few years ago Count Angelo DE 
GUBERNATIS informed Mr. Gladstone, in conversation, that there was actually 
among the Tuscan peasantry ten times as much heathenism as Catholicism. I 
repeated this remark to a woman whom I employed to collect folk-lore, and her 
reply was : " Certainly, there is ten times more faith in la vecchia religione " (" the old 
religion "). " For the peasants have recourse to the priests and the saints on great 
occasions, but they use magic all the time for everything." 

At another time when I expressed my astonishment that a certain girl who 
had grown up in the country was utterly ignorant of the name of a single spirit, 



and could recall nothing relating to witchcraft, she became scornful, and then 
excited, exclaiming : — 

" And how should such a stupid fool, who is afraid of the priests and saints, 
know anything ? I call myself a Catholic — oh, yes — and I wear a medal to prove 
it " — here she, in excitement, pulled from her bosom a saint's medal-^" but I 
believe in none of it all. You know what I believe." 

^\Si : la vecchia religione'' ("the old faith"), I answered, by which faith I meant 
that strange, diluted old Etrusco-Roman sorcery which is set forth in this book. 
Magic was her real religion. • 

Much of this magic is mixed up with Catholic rites and saints, but these in 
their turn were very often of heathen origin. Some saints such as Antony, 
Simeon, and El i)>ha, appear as absolutely sorcerers or goblins, and are addressed 
with ancient heathen ceremonies in cellars with magical incantations. The belief 
infollettiy a generic term for goblins, and other familiar spirits, has not sunk as yet 
to the "fairy-tale" level of beings only mentioned for entertainment — as in 
Grimm's Tales — they enter into popular belief as a part of the religion, and are 
invoked in good| faith. There is actually in Tuscany a culture or worship of 
fetishes which are not Catholic, ?>., of strange stones and many curious relics. 

But there is, withal, as I have remarked, a great deal of mystery and secrecy 
observed in all this cult. It has its professors : men, but mostly women, who 
collect charms and spells, and teach them to one another, and hold meetings ; that 
IS, there is a kind of college of witches and wizards, which, for many good reasons, 
eludes observation. It was my chance to become acquainted in Florence with the 
fortune-teller referred to, who was initiated in these secrets, and whose memory 
was stocked to an extraordinary and exceptional degree with not only magical 
•formulas but songs and tales. Such familiarity with folk-lore and sorcery as I 
possess, resulted in confidence — the end being that I succeeded in. penetrating this 
obscure and strange forest inhabited by witches and shadows, faded gods and 
forgotten goblins of the olden time. Where folk-lore of every kind abounded to 
such excess that, as this book shows, I in time had more thereof than I could 
publish. To do this I went to strange places and made strange acquaintance, so 
that if the reader will kindly imagine something much out of common life, and 
often wild and really weird — /.^., prophetic — when fortune-telling was on the cards, 
as the dramatic accompaniment of every charm and legend in this book, he will 
but do it justice. To collect volumes of folk-lore among very reticent Red 
Indians, and reserved Romanys is not unknown to me, but the extracting witch- 
craft from Italian str^ge far surpasses it. " I too was among the shadows." 

There are many people, even Italians, who will say, " It is very remarkable 


that ^ve never heard of any association of witches nor met with any of all this 
mythology or lore — we who know the people so well." Just the same might have 
been said of almost every respectable white native of Philadelphia when I was 
there a few years ago, as to the Voodoo sorcerers, who, silent and unseen, conjured 
and worked in darkness among the coloured people of that city. What did any 
of us know about even our own black servants in their homes } And the class 
which corresponds to the Voodoo acts in Tuscany, in opposition — unlike the 
American — to a powerful national religion which till of late ruled by the strong 
hand, and it fears everybody. 

The extraordinary tenacity and earnestness with which the peasant Tuscans 
have clung to these fragments of their old faith is quite in accordance with their 
ancient character. LiVY said of them they were " a race which excelled all in 
devotion to religious rites and in the art of cultivating them " (v. i . 6). But as 
Karl Ottfried MOller remarks in Die Etrusker — a work which has been of 
great use to me — "while the Greeks expressed their religious feelings with bold- 
ness in varied forms . . . the Tusker (Tuscans) blended them in the most intimate 
manner with every domestic practical interest Tuscan divination was con- 
sequently the most characteristic trait of the nation and the Hauptpunkt, or 
beginning of their intellectual action and education." And this spirit still survives. 
Among all the wars and convulsions of Italy the peasants of Tuscany have 
remained tlie same race. Englishmen and Frenchmen are the result of modern 
mixtures of peoples, but the Italians, like Hawthorne's Marble Faun, are 
absolutely ancient, if not prehistoric. There are families in Italy who find their 
family names in Etrurian monuments on their estates. And CiCERO, Tacitus, 
LiVY, Virgil, and many more, testify that all their divination and religious 
observances were drawn from and based on Etruscan authority. " This,*' says 
MOller, " was shared by the common people. There were in Italy schools, like 
those of the Jewish prophets and Gallic Druids, in which the system was 
thoroughly taught." And there is the last relic of these still existing among the 
Tuscan " witches." In later times the Chaldaean sorcerers took the upper hand in 
Rome with their astrology, but the Etruscan augures were still authorities, so late 
as the fifth century, a.d., since they were consulted at the birth of Claudius. In 
408, they protected Narnia by invoking lightning against the Goths (MOller). 

The Etruscan books of magic were common among the Romans. In Cicero's 
time {Cic. de Div. i. 33), there were many of them. I have been assured that there 
is in existence a manuscript collection of charms and spells such as are now in use 
— in fact it was promised me as a gift, but I have not succeeded in obtaining it. I 
have, however, a large MS, of this kind which was written for me from collection 


and memory, which I have used in writing this book. It is true that all I have is 
only the last sparks, or dead ashes, and coals of the ancient fire, but it is worth 

I have freely illustrated my collection with instances drawn from reading, and 
have added to it certain tales, or stories, which have very curious connections with 
classic lore and superstitions. There are also a few records of certain plants, 
showing how the belief that many herbs and flowers have an indwelling fairy, and 
are in fact fairies themselves, still survives, with a degree of personification which 
has long since disappeared in most other European countries. There has been 
much collection of plant-lore of late years by many writers, but I am not aware 
that any one has observed this faith in tlie plant itself ^s a creature with a soul. 

There is the same superstition as regards minerals, the reason being very 
curious.- For there are in the earth deep mysteries; the earth-worm and mole 
are full of them because tliefoot of the sorcerer passes over them, and gives power, 
the salagrana^ or stalagmite, and different metallic ores are really holy, from being 
subterranean, and yet sparkling with hidden occult light when broken they meet 
the sun ; and plants which send their roots deep down into the earth draw from it 
mystic force which takes varied magic forms according to their nature when brought 
up into light and air. Owing to the inability of my informant to express herself 
clearly, I had difficulty for a long time in understanding this properly chthonic 
theory ; when I did master it, I was struck by its Paracelsian character — this 
belief in a " geomantic force " which Chinese recognise as Fengshuu 

Should the reader be astonished at the number of incantations which occur in 
this work, I would remind him that among the peasantry in Italy, but especially in 
the Tuscan Romagna there is, or has been, till of late years, some formula of the 
kind uttered for almost every conceivable event in life. And this is perhaps a 
proof of their antiquity. Prellek, in his Roman Mythology, speaks as follows on 
this subject : — 

*' The belief in a fate in every form conceivable, such as Fortuna, the goddess of destiny, oracles, and all 
varieties of divination, was always very active in Italy, especially in divine omens, warnings, forebodings which 
developed themselves in the most varied phases and kinds, and it resulted in Rome in such a mass of mar\'els 
and superstitions nmning into every possible shape, as never was heard of in such a high stage of civilisation." 

For every one of these fancies there was an incantation : if salt upset they 
said, "Z?« avertite omen ! " But the great source of it all was Etruria, from which 
the Romans derived the laws of their religion — that is to say, a divination which 
had a spell for almost everything which the heart of man could conceive. And it 
was from Etrurian Tuscany that I took these spells, which, by comparison with 
those which remain from Roman times^ all bear unmistakable marks of antiquity. 


I would also observe that though I have spoken of these sorceries and super- 
stitions as passing away rapidly, they are very far from having disappeared. 
While I was writing the foregoing, that is to say, on the second day of March, 
1891, there was going on in Milan one of the most serious outbursts of a mob 
which had occurred for years. It being believed that a child had been bewitched 
by a certain woman, the populace in wrath pursued the sorceress with much abuse 
into a church. The details of this outrage, which occupy a column in the Secolo 
of April 3 and 4, 1891, will be given in the following pages. Milan, be it remem- 
bered, is '* far away " the least superstitious city in Italy, and much in advance 
of Florence as regards such matters, while Florence is as light to darkness com- 
pared to the Romagna. 

Since the manuscript of this work was put in my publisher's hands something 
has occurred which should properly have found an earlier place in this Preface. 
It is this : Some years ago I published a work on the Algonkin Legends of New 
England. Within a few months a contributor to the English Folk-Lore Journal 
has made a remark to the effect that he had always doubted the authenticity of 
these Legends, while another has said in The American Folk-Lore Journal that 
Mr. Leland is throughout inaccurate when reporting what Indians had told him. 
This last writer had gone to the same tribe, though probably to other Indians, 
and taken down with a ptionography in the original Indian tongue, the same tales. 
His contribution consists in a measure of comments on my stories, which do not 
suffer in the least by his subsequent collection. 

When I began to collect those Indian legends, all that I knew of them was 
that a Catholic missionary, who had lived many years among the Penobscot or 
Passamaquoddy tribes, had succeeded in getting only one story, so reticent were 
the Indians towards white men regarding their myths. During an entire summer 
I was very intimate and confidential with a very intelligent Abenaki, or Saint 
Francis, Indian, who, as he spoke and wrote well both French and English, might 
be supposed to have been superior to vulgar prejudice. I endeavoured constantly 
— sometimes by artful wiles or chance remarks — to draw from him something like 
a legend, but he constantly declared that he did not know one, or anything 
relating to old beliefs, and that all had long since perished. There was also a 
jolly old Indian woman, one of the same tribe, who told fortunes by cards, and 
she sang the same song. A year after I succeeded better with Tomah or Toma- 
quah, a Passamaquoddy, who not only related to and collected for me a vast 
number of remarkable legends, myths, and folk-lore items of all kinds, but who 
told me that my two Abenaki friends werp noted repositories or living chronicles 
of such learning. As for the authenticity of the legends, there is hardly one 


which has not its close parallel, in some particulars at least, in the MS. folio 
of Mic Mac legends, collected by Rev. S. Rand, or among the cognate Chippeway 
records of Schoolcraft and Kohl. As for accuracy, the pioneer who first makes 
his way into such a jungle, or cane-brake, has enough to do to keep the twigs out 
of his eyes and clear away the brush, without thinking of leaving a macadamised 
road for his followers. 

After I had made a beginning, the Indians, finding that one or another had 
let out a cat, or told a legend, and also that the telling thereof was productive of 
dollars and tobacco and pounds of tea, did somewhat abate their ancient reticence, 
and the path having been cleared, several followers walked in it — among others 
the gentleman with the phonograph, who, as is usual, grumbled at the road. It 
was easy enough to collect stories then^ and to detect inaccuracies in the first 

But the difficulties which I had in collecting Red Indian legends were but an 
inch of pin-wire compared to a crowbar with what I had to encounter in gathering 
these Italian relics. Very recently, as I write, I told my chief authority that I 
expected to publish all these accounts of spirits, tales, and conjurations in a book, 
and that if there was aught in it not perfectly autfientic that I should incur un gran' 
disgrazia. To which she with some excitement replied : — 

" Signore, you know very well how difficult it has been for you to gather all 
this. I do not believe that any other signore in Italy could collect it among the 
people. For all the strange things of antiquity which you seek are mostly known 
only in a very few families, or to some old people or witches who are mortally 
afraid of the priests, and who are very timid, and conceal everything from their 
betters. And then there is the much greater number of those who really believe 
that when a learned man asks them for such things that he himself is a stregone^ or 
wizard — oh, the people are very superstitious and fearful as to that ! And you 
must remember that, as regards what I have told you, I have had to go about 
among old people, and question many, and have been often seeking for weeks and 
months before I could answer many of your questions." 

To which she might have added that much was only half-recollected or 
jumbled up, or, worse than all, restored by lively Italian minds gifted with the 
fatal gift of improvisation, as, for instance, when a sorceress retains only the idea 
or general features of an incantation, but proceeds to utter it boldly, believing that 
it is " about the thing." And bearing in mind what has been said in reputable 
journals of my work on Algonkin Legends, every fraction of which was honestly 
given from good authorities, every one of which I named, I would here declare 
that I received everything in this book from Italians who declared that all had 


been derived from tradition, and that where it was possible — ^which was often not 
the case — I verified this as well as I could. But as regards possible imposture, or 
error, or lies, or mistakes, I hold myself responsible for nothing whatever, limiting 
everything to this simple fact — that I very accurately recorded what was told me 
by others. I believe that the names of the old Etruscan gods, as I have given 
them, still exist, because " Peppino " actually, with much trouble, verified them 
from the memories of old people, and if he, a contadino, and one of themselves-, 
had to complain that he elicited this information with great trouble, because it was 
forbidden knowledge, and " accursed by the priests," it may be inferred how hard 
it would be for a superior to obtain it As for the incantations, or aught else — 
bearing in mind the criticisms which I have received — I utterly disclaim all 
responsibility, and wash my hands clear of the whole concern, saving and except 
this, that I myself believe — unconscious errors excepted— that it is all honest, 
earnest, and true. In the main I propose it as a guide to be followed by other 
and more learned or better qualified scholars and seekers, who may correct its 
errors, only begging them to do so in civil language, and not accuse me directly or 
indirectly of recklessness or untruthfulness or carelessness. 

And a nice time they will have of it if they walk the ways which I have 
walked, in the paths which I have trod. I have just heard that one old woman who 
is several times cited as authority in this book has died in a den of infamy, and that 
on the day of her decease ' her son, who had been doing three years for a murder, 
"in the heat of passion," left prison. There has always been a dread sense of the 
existence of a Prefect and the police hovering like a dark shadow over me while 
pursuing my researches among my Etruscan friends ; to them, unfortunately, these 
powers that be occasionally assumed a far more tangible form, and even the best 
and most respectable among them was once cited before the former, only escaping 
durance vile by a fine, which is recorded in my diary as " Expenses in collecting 
Folk-Lore." Feliciter evasit — and to this escape the recovery of three lost Etruscan 
gods IS truly due ! There are records of several great works written in conse- 
quence of their authors having been in prison — this portion of my book is ; I 

* The manner of her death was characteristic, as described to me by another. **She was all her life a 
very wicked old woman, believing nothing, and she died in extreme sin because she would hear nothing of 
priest or prayer ; and what was more, had all my biancheria (underclothing), which I had asked her to keep, 
but which she would not return, and so I lost it utterly. And the night she died there was another old woman 
watching by her, and the other one fell asleep. After a while she was awakened by Something on her chest, 
and thinking it was the little dog, grasped it and cast it from her, and slept again. And it came again, and 
this time, still thinking it was the old woman's little dog, searched all the room closely for it, but found 
nothing. And going to the bed she found that the old woman was dead. And it was her soul which had 
awakened the one sleeping." '* Did she die a witch ?" ** .SiVwra— certainly.'* 


believe the only literary labour described which was due to the author's keeping 
out of the penitentiary, which — it must be candidly admitted — is a much cleverer 
and far more difficult feat. 

That there are a few decent Italians who know something of this witch-lore 
is proved, for instance, by the shoemaker to whom I owe the legends of Ra and 
Bovo. But the sorceries, and all relating to them, are chiefly in the hands of 
" witches," who tell fortunes and prepare spells and charms, and who, far from 
being desirous of fame, or "greedy for glory as authority," rather shrink from 
celebrity, albeit from no marked sense of modest merit, but rather from a vivid 
sense of justice — that is, of the manner in which it may be meted out unto them. 
Therefore I, in this book, have made no great parade of my authorities. Some- 
thing of this may be due to the fact that, as chief of the English gypsies — or at 
least as President of the English Gypsy- Lore Society, which amounts to the same 
thing — I have a natural proclivity for ways that are dark and low ^ozx^Xy^et cetera ; 
— it may be so, the spell was wrought by other hands than mine — but so far as I 
know, this manner of Folk-Lore cometh not from going among a poor but 
virtuous peasantry, or by collecting penny broadsides, or walking in the paths of 
grace according to the handbooks of criticism. 

I bring you not the metal, but rude ore ; 

I gathered as I knew — what would you more? 

Now, to meet all queries from critics, I declare distinctly that, as regards all 
authenticity, I am one with the man of the tale told by Panurge in the Chronicles 
of Rabelais. . This worthy, who was a beggar in Paris, went about with two little 
girls in panniers, one hung before and the other behind him. And he being asked 
if they were truly maids, replied, " As for the one whom I carry in front, I am not 
sure, but I incline to believe that she really is what you inquire ; but as for the one 
behind, of her I will assert nothing." So I declare that, as for the names of the 
Etruscan gods which I have given in front, I believe they are authentic, but do not 
swear to it ; while as for all the rest, I affirm nothing. If all the bishops in 
England had sworn to it, somebody would have denied it ; and those from whom 
I obtained it were not even bishops' daughters, albeit they may have been those of 

For there has sprung up of late years a decided tendency in critics to utterly 
condemn books, no matter how valuable they may be, for small faults or defects, 
just as a friend of mine treated all the vast mass of learning and ingenious 
observation in the works of De Gubernatis as worthless trash, because the Count 
has carried the Solar Myth too far. To all such I can only say that they need 


read no further in this w.ork of mine, for it is not written for them, nor by their 
standard, nor to suit their ideas. It is simply the setting down of a quantity of 
strange lore as given by certain old women, living or dead (among which latter I 
class divers deceased antiquaries) — and further than this the deponent sayeth not 

The moral of all which is that if a work like the Algonkin Legends, which is 
very accurate in all save, perhaps, in a few very trivial details, and whose absolute 
truth is confirmed by a thunder-cloud of witnesses, can be openly accused in the 
two leading Folk-Lore journals of England and America of sinning in these 
respects, what may not be alleged or said of this, which was compiled, collected, 
and corrected under circumstances where I had, so to speak, to feel my way in the 
lurid fog of a sorcerers* sabbat^ in a bewildering, strangely scented " witch -/rwro:," 
misled ever and anon by goblins' mocking cries, the tittering cheeping of bats on 
the wing, the hoots of owls — yea, and the rocking of the earth itself — as the text 
abundantly witnesscth, seeing how often I in it go blindly feeling my way from 
the comer of one ruined conjecture to another, ever apprehending that I have 
found a mare's-nest — or, more properly, that of a »/^///mare of the most evasive 
kind ? Now, as it is no light thing to be accused in high places before the world 
of folly and falsehood, when the author has done his work with very careful 
honesty, it may well be understood that as " the combusted infant manifests 
apprehension of the igneous element," so I, knowing very well that a crafty Italian 
is not in the same boat with an " honest Injun," naturally take precautions against 
the captious critic by admitting all possible imperfections. To which there will 
be others of these noble souls to cry, "G«/ s^excuse^ s'acaise'* Certainly there will 
be, as ever. 

Ah well, and let them cry it an they will ! 
There never yet was castle built so fair. 
So strong, or deeply founded, but some thief 
Or petty spy did worm his way therein. 



TINIA. 19 

lituuSy and a paper of old bronze medals. Of these I took twelve, paying for them 
two or three pence each as I pleased — and as the price was accepted with smiles, I 
knew that the blue-eyed dealer had realised several hundred per cent, profit. On 
examination I found that I had bought : — 

1. The bronze medal, which the brazen Pietro Aretino had struck in his own 
honour with the inscription, Divus P. Aretinus flagellum Pnncipumy of which I had 
often read but never seen, and would have given twopence any day to behold. 

2. A very good bronze of Julius Caesar — the reverse utterly hammered flat, 
but the great man himself fine and bold. 

3. Nero Claudius Caesar. A gold-like bronze, in good preservation — the 
wicked eye and bull neck to perfection. 

4. A strange old Greek medal in hard white bronze of Luson BasileoSy 
reverse, apparently three Graces, with the word Apoly and beneath Dionuso 
Lares. ** Witch-money " so-called here. 

5. A medal of 1544, perfect, representing a Cardinal who, reversed, is a jester 
with cap and bells, with the motto, Et Stulti aliquando sapite. 

That will do ; all were interesting and curious, but I do not propose to 
catalogue them. What struck me was the remarkable resemblance of the 
whole find, and the manner in which it was obtained, to the legends and 
other lore which I have got together in these pages. These, too, have come 
down from old Roman times ; some arc sadly battered and worn, some, like the 
Nero, have been covered with a rich olive patina^ which has again — more's the 
pity! — been scaled away to restore it, even as an English curate "restores" a 
Gothic church ; others, like the Julius, have only a slight (erugO'Xwst ; some are 
ot the Catholic- Heathen Renaissance — one is a Leo I. ; in short, there are the 
same elements of society in the one as in the other, Christian and Heathen 
Lares turned to goblins, Dionysius-Faflon, witch-money, vulgarity, and Imperial 

And they were all picked up, the medley like the medals, both bearing legends, 
from poor peasant women who were in blessed ignorance as to their classical 
origin, save that there was something of sorcery in it all. I say this because 
there will be many to think that I have been over-keen to find antiquity and 
classic remains in these literary fragments ; but no native Italian scholar who 
knows the people would say this. For here in Italy, just as one may find a 
peasant girl selling old Decretals, and Dantes, and Roman lamps, and medals from 
a wheelbarrow, you may find in her mind, deeply rusted and battered remains 
corresponding to them — and, indeed, things far older. For if you will reflect a 
minute it will occur to you that the bronze of my Julius Caesar medal may have 


come from melting some otlur coin or medal or object which was primsevally old, 
ere ever he who bestrode the world, like a Colossus, was bom. The ruder a 
bronze, the older it may be; so it may befall that these rough legends touch the 
night of time. True it is that there arc rude things also of later date, and such 

often occur and are intermingled in this collection, and I also admit that with 
few books at my command, I have not been able to push the process of analysis 
and discovery very far. But there will be no lack of others to correct me where 
I have conjectured wrongly. I will now proceed to one of my first discoveriest 

TINIA, 21 

Heine has shown in his Gods in Exile, how the old classic deities came 
down in the world after being dethroned. Had he been aware of the humble 
condition to which they have been reduced in Tuscany he could have added much 
curious confirmation of his view. Let us begin with Jupiter : — 

"The Etruscans," writes Ottfried MUller, "adored a god who was compared to the Roman 
Jupiter, the leading deity, and who was often called so, but who in Tuskish was known as Tina or 
Tinia. Tina was therefore the highest of their gods ; the central point of the whole world of deities. He 
was honoured in every Tuscan city, as in Rome — ^at least since the times of the Etruscan kings, with 
Juno and Minerva — in the temple of the citadel. Lightning was, in the Tuscan art, ever in his hands ; 
he is the god who speaks in it and descends in it to earth." 

Do you know the name of Tinia ? " I asked of my witch authority, who 
knows not only the popular names of the current Tuscan mythology, but the 
more recondite terms preserved among the strege, or sorceresses. 

" Tignia or Tinia } Yes. It is a great folletto " (a spirit, or goblin) ; " but an 
evil one. He does much harm. 5/, e grande^ ma cattivo'' 

And then bethinking herself, after a pause, awaiting the expected memory 
as one waits a moment for a child whom one has called, she resumed : — 

" Tinia is the spirit of the thunder and lightning and hail. He is very great " 
(/>., powerful). " Should any peasant ever curse him, then when a temporale^ or 
great storm, comes he appears in the lightning, and bruccia tutta la raccolta^ spoils 
all the crop. 

"Should the peasant understand why this happened and who ruined the 
fields he knows it was Tinia. Then he goes at midnight to the middle of the 
field or vineyard, and calls : — 

** * Folletto Tinia, Tinia, Tinia ! 
A ti mi raccomando 
Che tu mi voglia perdonare, 
Si ti ho maladetto, 
Non lo ho fatto 
Per cattiva intenzione, 
Lo ho fatto soltanto 
In at to di coUera, 
Se tu mi farei 
Tornare una huona raccolta. 
Folletto Tigna ! 
Sempre ti bcnedico ! * " 

(*' * Spirit Tinia, Tinia, Tinia ! 
Unto thee I commend me 
That thou wilt pardon me. 


If I have cursed thee 

I did not do it 

With ill will. 

I did it only 

In act of anger : 

If thou wilt give me a good harvest, 

Spirit Tinia, 

I will ever bless thee I * **) 

This, I think, estaWishes the identity of the modern Tinea with the ancient 
god of thunder. According to MOllek the name occurs only once as Tina. 
His form is often found on mirrors. It is very interesting to learn that an invoca- 
tion to the Etruscan Jove still exists as a real thing, and that, after a humble 
fashion, he is still worshipped. 

There is another invocation to the thunder and lightning, but it is not 
connected with this deity. It is as follows : — 

" When you see thunder and lightning you should say : — 

*' * Santa Barbara, bcnedetta, 
Liberateci dalla saetta, 
£ dal gran tuono! 
Santa Barbara e San Simone, 
San Simone e San Eustachio, 
Senipre io mi raccomando ! ' " 

Or in English freely rendered : — 

"Saint Barbara, the blest, I pray, 
Keep the shafts from me away ! 
And from thunder in the skies, 
Simon — Barbara likewise — 
Saint Eustace and Simon too 
I commend myself to you ! * 

For there are two distinct religions, "one good if the other fails," in La 
Romagna, and many still believe that that of the spirits, or ancient gods, 
is, on the whole, the most to be relied on. It is true that it is departing very 
rapidly, and that now only a few of the faithful still know the chief names and 
invocations, yet, after slender fashion, they still exist. Ten years hence some 
of the most important of these names of the gods will have utterly passed 
away ; as it is, they are only known to a few among the oldest peasants, or 
to a Strega^ who keeps the knowledge as a secret. 

Strangely allied to Tinia is the herb or plant of the same name, which 
is popularly regarded with great respect from its superior magic qualities. It is. 

TINIA, 23 

in fact, a spirit itself. A specimen of it was obtained in Rocca Casciano for 
me, and with it I received the following : — 

'* The plant Tigna should l'>e held of great account, because when one is afflicted by the spirit Tigna 
(Tinia) this herb should be put in a little (red) bag and always worn, and specially on children's necks. 

" When Tigna liegins to vex a family it is terrible. Then with this plant we should make every 
morning the sign of the cross and say : — 


*' * Padre in pace se ne vada 
Per mezzo di questa erba, 
Quella testa in Tigna. 
Figlio in pace sene vada, 
Quello spirito maligno, 
Spirito in carna ed ossa, 
In pace te ne ix>ssa, 
Te ne possa andare ; 
Amenne per mezzo di questa erlxi 
In casa mia piu tu non possa entrare, 
E forza di farmi del male 
Piu non avrai ! ' " 

This incantation, which was either imperfectly remembered, and is certainly 
in a somewhat broken form (as is the case with others which had not been recalled 
for many years), may be rendered in English as follows : — 

*' Father, let depart in peace, 
By means of this herb, 
That witness (l)ears) Tigna ! 
Son, let depart in peace 
That malignant spirit ! 
Spirit, in flesh and lx>nes 
In peace thou shah not go, 
Until by means of this herb 
Thou shall no longer enter my house, 
And no longer have power 
To do me harm ! *' 

** And never forget to bless yourself with this herb." 

Tigna, as the reader may recall from the Preface, was testified to by V. Del 
Vivo as " The great foUetto of lightning, who has been long in Dovadola, e si 
conoscie tutforay is still known." His existence is well confirmed, but he is still 
one of the deities who are rapidly passing, and who are now known to very few. 
That he is on the whole far more feared than loved is manifest, and the Tinia 
of the Etruscans was altogether a deity who was, unlike Jupiter, one of horror and 
dread Nearly all the deities of the Etruscans were — as compared to the Graeco- 


Roman — of a horrible or malevolent nature, and a number of them wielded 
thunder and dealt largely in storms and hail. AM of which in due proportion the 

reader will find to be the case with the spirits which exist in popular belief at 
the present day in La Toscana Romagtia. 

TARAMd. 25 

It is to be observed that the name of Tiniay or its equivalent, is found in Tuscan 
legends as that of a great and wealthy lord — un milionarta — the richest in all the 
country. Thus in the tale of La Golpe in the Novella Popolare Toscane of Pitr6, 
the Marquis of Carabas in the Italian Puss and Boots is called " II Sor Pasquale 
del Tigna." In both the English and Italian stories the mysterious and unseen, 
or hidden Marquis, like the Sor di Tigna, is a dens ^x machmay or higher power, 
who is exploited for the benefit of the poor hero. I do not think it is forcing the 
question when we conjecture that we have in 'him a god in exile, or one come 
down in the world. 

*' Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen, 
Fallen from his high estate. 


The following account of this spirit, which was obtained from several authorities, 
but especially from an old woman living not very far from Forli, is for several 
reasons very interesting : — 

" T^ram6 is a spirit favourable to thieves and merchants. When a band of ladri^ or robbers, meet in 
some secluded place to arrange a theft, T6ram6 is always present to aid, unless they intend murder {$e funt 
ragionano di spargere sangue). But if no violence of that kind be meant, he is always there, though they do 
not see him but only a shadow. Then he says, * Giovane/fi— boys, get to work, I will help yow-— presto a//* 
opera e to souo in vostro aitito — work in peace and do not be afraid, and you will not be discovered, but do 
not forget to help the poor who are in such great need. Do this and I will show you myself what to do ; but 
if you forget charity then you shall be found out, e cost tton godreU nietUe — and so you will enjoy nothing.* 

*' But if they intend spilling blood he will prolxibly put their victims on guard, and cause their arrest. 

*' With merchants, or dealers, if one had cattle or anything of the kind to sell,' T^ramo was always 
busy. And sometimes he played roguish tricks, as when one had a very pretty wife or daughter he would go 
to the house disguiseil as a very handsome young man, and so delude her that the affair ended by two in a bed. 
Or if a merchant agreed to deliver goods to a customer at a certain time, and broke his appointment, T^ramd 
would make the goods disappear, and the man to whom they were promised would fmd them in his house, and 
l>e under no necessity of paying money. Or if he had paid he got the goods. 

** Teramo is also a spirito uussagiero, a. spirit of messengers, one who carries notices or news from one city 
to another or from one part of the world to another very quickly. But to have his aid one must be one of his 
kind {basiarapero i\ farsi premiere da lui o sinpatia\ such as a statesman or thief, or such as are his friends. 

*• When any one, say a thief or lover, wishes to send news to a friend, he must go into a cellar by night 
and pray to Teramo, and say : — 

* Teramo, or Hermes, true to his first impulses, is always concerned with cattle. 

** The babe was bom at the first peep of day ; 
He began playing on the lyre at noon. 
And the same evening he did steal away 
ApoIlo*s herds." 


26 ETR use A N R OMA N RE MA INS. 

*• * T^ram6, Teram6, as it is true, 

That you are my friend I pray to you, 
And may this message which I send, 
Quickly and safely reach its end ! ' 

*' Then the one praying takes a pigeon, and fastens his note to its wing, or neck, and says : — 

** * Go fly afar for me ! 

And Teramo keep you company ! * ' 


But one should never forget the spirit T^ramrt !" (Semprepero rammentarsi dello stirito di TSramS), 

This last exhortation means that one should never forget to make the proper 
invocation or address to him at proper times. 

We have here evidently enough Mercury, "the guardian deity of the mercatores 
and collegii mercatonim^^ as well as of thieves, who was the swift-footed messenger 
of the gods ; although those who told the tale knew nothing of such a name as 
Mercurio, let me twist it as I would. But it may be that we have here in T^ram6 
the old Etruscan name for Mercury, very much changed. " In Etruria," writes 
Preller {Rom, Myth. p. 597,) " the Greek Hermes was called Turms, which is 
formed from the Greek name, just as Turan came from Urania." That is to say, 
Turms or Turmus would be Italianised to Turmo, which in the harshly accented 
Romagnolo, with its prolonged R, would naturally pass to Turamo, 

The reader must not neglect to observe the pious adjuration at the end of the 
communication. It is a strange reflection that there are still people who cherish 
religious sentiments for the son of Jupiter and Maia. 

As the name of T^ram6 was of importance, special pains were taken to verify 
the fact that what I have given is authentic. As the reader will have seen by the 
Preface, Tito Forconi testified that at San Benedetto the deeds of T^ram6, as 
guardian spirit of merchants, thieves and messengers, " have been related for many 
years." And, since then, others have testified to knowing him. He is, however, 
one among those who are rapidly becoming unknown or forgotten, save by a few 

* " Teramo, Teramo, Teramo ! 
Che tu ai le sinpatie 
£ credo fra questi esserci 
lo pure e non mi vorrai abbandonare 
Questa notizia nella tal citta, 
Di farmi arrivare. 


E cosi si presentera un columbo, si lega a lui al collo un foglio scritto, a si dice : — 

** * Vai vola, lontan lontano ! 
Che lo spirito di Teramo 
Ti accompagnia ! ' *' 


old people, as Peppino declared — being, I suppose, naturally obnoxious to the 
priests who love no rivals in granting pardons to thieves, camorrists, &c. " Fur ac 
nebulo Mercurius," says Lactantius, " quid ad famem sui reliquit, nisi memoriam 
fraudum suarum ? " 

It is worth remarking that I had most trouble to collect evidence of the 
existence of the few special names such as Tignia, Faflon, and T^ramo, which 
were, however, of the most importance. " It is well, since you care for such things, 
that you came when you did," said an informant, " because in a few years' time 
most of these names will have been forgotten by everybody." And I sincerely 
believe that ten years hence not a tenth part of it will survive. 

And it was by a remarkable chance that I hit upon, in Florence, the one 
person of all others who had an innate love of sorcery, strange tales, and old songs, 
who was herself a fortune-teller, and had been taught the old names of spirits and 
innumerable incantations by a witch foster-mother. But for this " find " I might 
have sought in vain for the best part of what I have here given. 

It is perhaps worth mentioning in connection with T6ram6^once Teramus — 
that there was an old Scythian god, Tharamis^ of whom Lucan (1. i. Pharsal.) 
says : — 

'^£t Tharamis Scythicae non mitior ara Dianse." 

He appears to have been a Celtic god, worshipped by the Britons. Selden 
gives an inscription connecting Tharamis deabus matribus, with the maternal 
deities, which would identify him, not with Jove, but Mercury. But of this Celtic 
god, and any possible connection with T^ram6, there is really no proof whatever. 
On Etruscan mirrors, says Dennis, the name of this god is generally Turms or 
Thurms, in one case he is called Turms Aitas, or the infernal Mercury (Gerhard. 
Etrus. Spiegel, ii., plate 182). He was associated by Tarquin with the three great 
gods (Serv. ad ^En. ii., 296). 


This narrative was given as a conclusion to that of T6ram6 with which, 
however, it has very little connection : — 

*' The spirit Buschei was always a companion with T^ramo in all his dealings. If a man had pretty 
daughters then all went well (with him), if there were none there was mischief. 

" Now there was a merchant who had a very beautiful daughter, but Buschet could not prevail upon her, 
nor enter the house. For she had had a lover, and when he died, she had his body turned to stone, and put it in 
a chest, and kept it secretly under her bed. And Buschet could not enter a house in which there was a corpse. 
Then he thought he would sing a song which would alarm her ; but she was not to be frightened at anything, 
so great was the love which she had for the dead man. 


*' And he began to sing i— 

" Oh, rose, oh, lovely rose ! for so I call thee, 
Because thou art so fair that thou dost seem 
To be a rose indeed ; and since thou'rt fair. 
Oh, beauty, I would press thee to my lips. 
And fain would kiss thee sweet.' 

And yet it seems to me an evil thing 
That thou hast a dead lover 'neath thy bed, 
*Tis not a fitting tomb, and if thy father 
Knew it was there, ah, then what would he say 
Tell me, ix)or girl ! 

I warn thee now, and tell thee what to do : 
Take that dead lover from beneath thy bed ; 
Take him away. The devil else will come. 
Thou art in deadly danger; so beware, 
Now thou art warned ! * 

•* But she paid no heed to this, nor was she at all frightened, but went to pray, as was her wont, over the 
body of her lover. Then Buschet went and sang under the window of her father : — 

" 'Oh, good merchant, 'neath thy window 
I will sing a small stomello^ 
And I hope that you, with patience, 
Now will listen to my ditty ; 
Otherwise I ween that you'll repent it I ' 

Well thou knowest that thy daughter 
For a year has kept her chamber ; 
Thou didst think she was so saint -like, 
Or perhaps a real angel. 
And did'st always speak so well of her ! 

But instead of that, good merchant, 

Know that she betrays you — truly 

I am grieved that I must tell you— 

All her life is given to evil, 

And she covers you with great dishonour. 

* *• Kosa, o bella Rosa cosi ti chiamo, 
Perche siei tanto bella mi sembri, 
Un vero fior di rosa, e quanto siei 
Bella vorrei posarti sopra i labbri miei, 
E ti vorrei bacciar ! " 

" " ' Sotto alia tua finestra, 

O buon* mercanta, una piccola 
Stornello vengo a cantare ; 
Spcro che mi vorrei ascoltare, 
Altrimenti te ne vorrai pentire.' 


Go into thy daughter's chamber; 

Go at ten, and you*ll not Bnd her 

Sleeping in her bed, but kneeling 

O'er a chest which holds a dead man 

Turned to stone ; oh, shame and sorrow for you ! 

Bear away at once that coffin, 

Hide it quickly, for if Justice 

Knew of it you'd come to trouble 

As you know, and that full quickly, 

All occasioned by your shameless daughter.' 

Hearing this, the merchant, rising, 

Sought the chamber of his daughter. 

Oped the door and found her praying, 

Praying o'er her stone-cold lover, 

And he asked her how the dead man came there ? 

And all wailing, thus she answered : 
*This was he who loved me dearly — 
Ah, too dearly ! — here together 
Every night we slept till morning, 
But one night he died in my embraces. 

And I did as God inspired me, 

From my chamber he should never 

More be borne, for I would have him 

Here to pray for, ever loving. 

Now he is dead it is no sin to kiss him.' 

But the father would not listen 

To her wailing nor entreaty ; 

Little cared he for her sorrow, 

So at once they bore the lover 

Off and placed him in the campo satUo. 

So of course Buschet was happy. 

Time passed on, in time she listened 

For a pastime to his singing ; 

Listening, she forgot her lover. 

And the end was that the spirit triumphed." 

This IS a very close translation both as regards words and metre, though it 
wants the delicate grace of the original — which original recalls the Pot of Basil. 
The reader cannot fail to observe in it, however, the wild, uncanny spirit of witch- 
craft, the utter want of a proper tnoral or human feeling, and the extraordinary 
manner in which this " poor simple Isabel," after such exquisite devotion to the 
dead lover, forgets him for Buschet. But to the witch all of this suggests something 
so entirely different that it is almost impossible to explain it Her feeling or 
sympathy is with the goblin or god; he is to her like the Indian deity and the 




bayadere, in Goethe's poem. The girl is supposed in the German ballad to pass 
through fire to rise to heaven ; so here she endures a penance to fit her for the spirit 
Buschet It is the triumph of his unscrupulous sorcerer's amning which pleases 
the Romagnolo poet, and which interested the woman who gave it to me. 

Apropos of the Dieu et la Bayadere^ or the plot of the Indian play Vasan- 
tasena which Heine declared was so immoral that it would be hissed off any stage 
in Paris. This suggested to some French manager an idea, and it was soon 
brought out, and had an immense success all over Europe and America. Perhaps 
some impresario would like to try Buschet. True, it is not so very improper, as 
I have given it here — but a vivid French imagination may make wonders of it. 
There is the midnight prayer over the dead lover, the demon's serenade, the 
Mephistophelean song to the father, and finally the great love scene. What an 
opportunity for a dramatic poet ! 

This incident of the girl who has kept in a coffin her dead lover, over whom 
she nightly mourns, bears a great resemblance to a tale in the Arabian Nights' 
Entertainmeftts^ " where a beautiful princess, who is also a sorceress, keeps the 
body of her negro lover, by her magic art, in a kind of apparent life, and covers it 
with the kisses of despair, and which she would fain, by the greater magic of 
love, wake from the twilight-dimmering half-death to the full truth of life." Of 
which Heine remarks : " Even as a boy I was struck, in reading the Arabian 
tale, with this picture of passionate and incomprehensible love." ' 

It only remains to be remarked that " Hermes and Apollo in the myths 
became fast friends" {T/ic Etruscans^ by John Eraser, B.A.). Buschet, as the ally 
of T6ram6, would therefore be Aplu, Aplus, or Apollo ; but I cannot establish any 
identity between the names. Sc/tet is a Romagnola termination, and Apluschet 
is quite possible, nor is it more remote from the original than T^ram6 from 
Hermes ; but guess-work like this is hardly philological. Apollo, like Buschet, had 
a great antipathy for corpses and pestilence. 


^' Vidi un Fantasma, in disusato aspetto, 
Che richiam6 dal suo furor la mente, 
Mirabil mostro, e mostruoso oggetto. 
Donna giovin di viso, antica d' anni." 

Satire di Salvator Rosa. 

The impusa dclla Morte is probably the Empusa of the Greeks. She is a 
terrible sorceress, much dreaded. There is a short saying, or invocation, 

' Heine*s Shal'espeare's Maidens and IVomen : Desdemona, Translated by Charles G. Leland. London : 
W. Heinemann. 189 1. 


addressed to her : " Impnsa della Morte me desiavo ! (or, mi svegliavo /)." She 
appears, as a wandering beggar, to be confused with Feronia of the Markets. Of 
her I learned : — 

** Impitsa (also called Infrusa and Infusa) was a witch, so wicked that she did all the harm she could, 
a nd was so avaricious that she would not give a soldo even to any one who had earned it. However, this old 
witch owned a nne castle, but would not suffer even one of her own relations to enter it, for fear lest they 
should carry something away. She died at last ; and before she departed she concealeil all her riches ; but 
was scarcely dead before all the palace shook as if by an earthquake, and there was a rattling of chains as if 
all the devils from hell were around, and then the window was flung wide open, and there flew from her 
hand a crow (corttacchia)^ and this was her soul, which went to hell. They buried her in that corner of the 
churchyard which is kept for the unbaptised. 

*' The palace remained, with little furniture, unoccupied, though it was known that great treasure was 
buried in it. And some of those who entered it died of fright. Yet this witch had a nephew to whom she 
was attached. And to him she appeared one midnight, and said : — 

" * Nipotino, bel nipotino. 

Per il bene che ti ho voluto 

Levami di queste pene, 

Perchio no ho bene, 

Fino che tu non avrai 

Scoperto il mio tesoro, 

lo sono la tua zia. 

La tua zia Infrusa^ 

Cosi cosi mi chiamo 

Essendo sempre la Infrusa, 

Col mio danaro, ma se 

Tu avrai tanto coraggio 

Di scoprire il tesoro, 

Che ho nascosto, io saro 

Felice, e tu sarai 

Ricco, ma ti raccomando, 

Che tu abbia cora^io 

E non sparventarvi, perche 

Tutti quelli che son* morti, , 

Sono morti per la paura.' 

* Little nephew, fair young nephew. 
By the good I ever wished thee, 
Free me from the pain I sufler ! 
And I must endure the torment. 
Suffer till thou hast discovered 
Where it was I hid my treasure; 
For I am thy aunt Infrusa; 
So I call me,, being' always 
La Infrusa with my money 
But if thou hast only courage 
To discover all the treasure 
Which I buried, then I truly 


Shall be happy, and thou also 
Wilt be rich ; but this I tell thee : 
That thouMt need thy utmost courage ; 
In that search full many perished, 
And they died from naught but terror.') 

" Then the nephew of the Infrusa went to sleep in the palace, and he made a good fire and provided 
good wine and food, and sat by the fire and ate. But just at midnight he heard a voice howl down the 
chimney, ' Butto ? * (' Shall I throw ? ') And he replied, * Throw away ! ' When there was thrown down first 
a man's leg, then a foot, an arm, a hand, and head, and so all the parts of twelve men. And when all were 
thrown they reunited and made twelve men, who all stood looking at him. But he, cool and calm, asked 
them if they would like to eat or drink. 

•* And they answered, * Come with us ! * But he replied, * I have eaten and drunk, and do not wish to 
go.' Then they look him on their shoulders, and bore him far down into a vault, and took spades, and bade 
him choose one and dig. And he replied, * I have eaten and drunk, and am willing.' Then they all dug 
together— when at last they came, indeed, to the treasure, and it was very great. Then one said to him :— 

** * Va a letto, tu che sei 
II padrone del tesoro, 
£ di questo bel palazzo, 
£ di tutte queste richezze. 
Per il tuo gran coraggio; 
£ la tua zia Infrusa; 
Stara in pace, ma sara 
Sempre un foUetto, che verra 
Tutte Ic notte a vedere 
I suoi danari, essendo 
Tanto egoista, ma tu 
Sarei sempre il padrone.' 

1 1) 

(** * Go to bed, now thou art master 
Of the palace and the treasure ; 
By thy courage thou hast won them. 
And at last thy aunt Infrusa 
Rests in peace, yet ever will be 
Through all time a wandering spirit ; 
Every night sheMl come to look at 
Her old treasure — 'tis her nature— 
But thou'lt ever be the master.'") 

This is a variation of a well-known Italian " fairy tale," but it has some value 
in this connection as indicating the character of the Impusa. It is possible, from 
its rude poetry, that this may be a very ancient version of the tale. 

There is a point to be observed that in this, as in all other Tuscan tales of 
the kind, the witch is freed from her sufferings as soon as she is relieved from 
the responsibility of her treasure. In other narratives she is at peace as soon as 
she can put off the witch-power on another. 

SIERO. 33 

It has been suggested to me that in all this, only the name is in common with 
the Greek account of Empusay who had one leg of an ass and the other of brass, 
All of which should be carefully considered by the investigator. It is not remark- 
able that the name is Greek, since the Tusci had from the earliest times much 
intercourse with Greece, and, what is more to be considered, that the name became 
popular in Italy at a later date as that of a bug-bear spirit which was one of the 
minor faun-like gods. Thus in a very curious and rare work, entitled, Idea del 
Giardino del Mondoy by Tommaso Tomai of Ravenna (second edition), Venice, 
1690, there is mention of "demons called incubi, succubi, or empedusiy zxiA other 
lemuriy who are enamoured of men or women." What is indeed remarkable in 
these Tuscan names is that there has been on the whole so little change in them. 
It is of little matter that the Impiisa does not appear in the modern account with 
one foot of brass or like that of an ass (alterum ver6 habeat aeneum aut asininum 
— Suidas)y since during the Middle Ages the word was often used as a synonym 
for Lamia, Lemur, or witch of any kind. If Italian writers could describe the 
Empusa as being the same with Lemures and Incubi, it is not remarkable that 
mere peasants should have applied the name quite as loosely. 


SlERO, in the modern Tuscan mythology, is a folletio cattivo birbone^z, very 
mischievous evil spirit. There is also a feminine of the same name, or Siera. Of 
him I have the following account : — 

** When Siero is angry with a peasant's family, and the head of it goes to milk the cattle, he draws what 
appears to be very fine milk ; but when it is to be used it turns to green water, for which reason it is so-called 
from the goblin. (Latin, serum ; Italian, siero — whey, buttermilk.) 

"Then the peasant, to make matters right again in his house, implores Siero to be favourable. Upon 
which the goblin comes and knocks at the house-door, and if the cofUadino has a pretty daughter, cries, * Yes, 
I will make you happy; but you must let me sleep one night with your daughter.' But if he has a plain 
daughter, Siero laughs, and says, ' If you had a girl less ugly, and had mocked me less, I would have made 
you prosperous. But since your daughter is so plain, I cannot revenge myself for all the ill things you have 
said of me.' And if the peasant has girls neither pretty nor plain, then Siero calls, * If you will remember to 
bless me every day, I will make you happy; but should you forget it, you will be wretched while you 

With Siero was associated Chuailviay or CUticlitdvia (with the strongly 
aspirated Tuscan ch% of whom all I could learn that he was on earth a great 
sorcerer, now become an evil spirit. He is a kind of bugbear. 

I do not pretend to suggest that these arc descendants or forms of Etruscan 
deities, but I would point out a very singular coincidence of names in a passage 
in MtJLLER'S EiruskeVy vol. ii., p. 1 10 note. 



' " On B vase there is n goddess or dealh, Asira, who flouiishes an nxe over the head <A Amphianis. A 
fury, TD;i;uj;ta (Tucbulcha), with a bird's beak, laahes wilh snakes Theseus, condemned to the loirer wodd, in 
a picture on a wall in the lomb d^li' Orcg. in Corneto." 

There is probably nothing whatever in this similarity of names ; but it is 
worth noting. 

NORciA, THE Goddess of Truffles. 

" Vc elves of hills, lirooks, standing lakes nnd groves, 
And ye that on the sands with jirinlless foot 
Do chase the el)l)ing Neptune, nnd do (ly him 
When he comes back ; you demi- puppets, that 
By mnonshinc do the grecn-soiir ringlets make 
MTiereof the ewe not Intes ; and you whose pastime 
Is to make midnigkl mmhreBmt" 

Tht Tempesl, Act v., s. I, 
"Nortia was Ilie goddess of destiny."— tf/j/nry «/£/;«r(fl, Thos. Hamilton Gbav.  

' HERE is a Tuscan rural 

sprite of whom I could learn 
little, save that she is dis- 
posed to be troublesome. 
One of her specialities is to 
distract and disturb dogs 
when hunting for truffles. 
It may be that she has more 
dignified work at other times. 
Her name is Norcia, or 
Nortia. Nortia was of yore 
a very great Etruscan god- 
dess — a Fortuna, according 
to MOLLER. Her temple 
was known to Roman anti- 
quaries by the calendar nails 
driven in it. An inscription 
in hexameters from Volsci* 
nium (BURMANN, Afithol. 
Lai., cl. 1, cp. xix., p. 57) 
begins with " Nortia te vene- 
ror lare cretus Volsiniensi," 
But I find no truffles in all 



this pat^^ only the reflection that the peasantry everywhere bring down great gods 
to small uses. True, we have two goddesses of the same name in the same country, 
and that is something. 

Since writing the foregoing, I learn that when a truffle-hunter has no fortune 
in discovering the precious tarttifi, he addresses his dog thus : — 

" O cane, cane chi da me siei tanto aniato, 
La fortana tu mi ai levato, 
Non trovandomi piu i tartufi, 
Dunque cane, o mio bcl cane, 
A foUetta di Norcia va ti ^ raccomodare 
Che i tartufi ti faccia ritrovare, 
E cosi io lo potro tanto ringraziare, 
Che la fortuna mi vc^Ua ridare ! '* 

(*' Oh dog, my dog, so dear to me ; 
We're out of luck I. plainly see ! 
No truffles hast thou found to-day, 
So then to Norcia go and pray ; 
For if her favour we implore. 
She'll grant us truffles in such store, 
Fortune will smile for evermore.") 

By an extraordinary coincidence truffles are also called nails, as their heads 
are round and small. And Norcia was identified with nails (PRELLER, Myth. 

p. 231). 

"And, after all, it is altogether possible — or even probable — that this Norcia of 

the Truffles has nothing whatever to do with Nortia, but takes her name from the 

town of Norcia, or Norchia, famous for its pigs and its truffles." So a very learned 

friend suggests. However, all the principal Etruscan gods gave names to towns. 

Of which I find in DENNIS'S Etruria (vol. i., p. 204) that " Orioli suggests that 

the town of * Norchia ' may be identical with Nyrtia, mentioned by the ancient 

scholiast on Juvenal (x. 74) as a town, the birthplace of Sejanus, giving its name 

to, or deriving it from, the goddess Nortia, or Fortuna." As I said, this goddess 

was identified with nails, because in her temple at Vulsinii every year the priest 

drove a nail into the door, to serve as a kind of register (Preller). It may seem 

ridiculous to connect this with the slang name for mushrooms arid truffles ; but 

such similes are common among the people, and they never perish. 

It may be remarked here that Saint Antony is invoked when seeking truffles 
by peasants of a Roman Catholic turn of mind. But Norcia, as a goddess of the 
earth, may be supposed to know better where they are to be found ; for she was 
unquestionably of the under-world, and a form of Persephone. 

Nortia is still very generally known in La Romagna, as peasants certified. 

APLU. 37 

Of one thing there can be no doubt — her specialty is to make "midnight 


*' Sadly is gazing Phoebus Apollo, 
The youthful; his lyre sounds no more 
Which once rang with joy at the feasts of the gods." 

The Gods of Greece^ by H. Heine. 

" The name of the Greek God Apollon frequently occurs on Etruscan bronze mirrors as Aplun, Apulu, 
Aplu." — Ubtr die Sprache der Eirusker^ by W. Corssen, vol. i., p. 846. 

When I returned to Florence in November, 1891, after some research I found 
my chief authority in ancient lore, installed in what had been, some three or four 
hundred years ago, a palace. It is true that its splendour had sadly departed. 
The vast and dismal rooms were either utterly unfurnished, or supplied with 
inferior niobiglia^ placed at such distances from one another as to be hardly 
within call, unless they called very loudly. But there were frescoes on the walls 
which had been sketched by no mean hand — (they set forth charming scenes from 
Tasso) — and though the bare stone floors suggested a dreary cellar, there was a 
walled-up fireplace, over which rose a boldly arched and curved remainder of a fine 
Renaissance focolare. A single window badly lighted a great, grim apartment in 
which there was absolutely not a single article of furniture, save a small table 
and two chairs. From that window I sketched the fourteenth-century statue of 
a rain-worn saint on an opposite wall. Everything was in keeping with the lore 
which I had come to collect — very old, rubbed*down, and degraded from its high 

I asked the Strega if she knew the name of Aplu. It was known to her, 
and it awoke some shadowy reminiscences ; but she said that she must consult a 
vecchia, an old woman of her acquaintance, regarding it. " It would come with 
talking." And this was the result of the consultation : — 

" Aplu is a spirit who greatly loves hunters. But if they, when they have bad luck in the chase, speak 
evilly of him, then in the night he comes and pulls the bed-clothes from them, and gives them dreams of 
being in the cold open air, and having a prosperous hunt. Then he sits on them in nightmare, and the 
game seems lost. And they wake inspired with a desire to seek the woods, and if they express a wish 
to him ((.<r., invoke him) they will.return that evening with much game." To which was added somewhat 
vaguely the words: ** E to spirito ctAplu sempre neila mente*'* (**And with Aplu ever in their minds"). 


Then there was a pause, and I was told : — 

*' Aplu is the most beautiful of all the male spirits. He is also a spirit of music, and when any one 
would become a good hunter, or good musician, or a learned mKn-^un uomo dotto e di taUftio — he should 
repeat this : — 


" Aplu, Aplu, Aplu ! 
Tu che siei buono, tanto di sapienza ! 
£ siei dotto e di talento, 
Aplu, Aplu, Aplu ! 
Tu che siei buono tanto, 

£ da tutte le parti del mon (mondo) siei rammentato 
£ da tutti si sente dire: 
Aplu, Aplu, Aplu ! 

An che lo spirito deve essere gcnerosa 
£ addatarci di fortuna e di talento 
Aplu, Aplu, Aplu ! 
lo ti prego darmi 
Fortuna e talento ! " 

This was given to me so irregularly and in such a confused state, owing 
to the imperfect memory of the narrator, that I had trouble to bring it to this 
form. It is in English as follows : — 

" Aplu, Aplu, Aplu ! 
Thou who art so good and wise. 
So learned and talented, 
Aplu, Aplu, Aplu ! 
Thou who art so good 
And through all the world renowned ; 
And spoken of by all, 
Aplu, Aplu, Aplu ! 
£ven a spirit should be generous, 
Granting us fortune and talent. 
Aplu, Aplu, Aplu! 
I (therefore) pray thee give me 
Fortune and talent ! " 

Aplu, as is recorded in detail by all writers on Etruscan mythology, was 
Apollo. His is one of the commonest figures on vases and mirrors. 

My informant had, as I learned from close questioning, never heard the name 
" Apollo." I asked her if she had never seen his statue in Uffizi ? But though 
she had lived many years in Florence she had never been in a gallery, so I gave 
her a franc and recommended her to invest it in a practical lesson in mythology. 
Neither did she remember to have heard of Venere^ or Venus, whose name is very 
familiar to all middle and Southern Italians, though she knew all about Turana, 
her Etruscan original, as appears in another chapter. Ad alteram jam partem 
accedamus^ dL,s Gladstone says. 


" Turan is the £truscan name of Venus, and it occurs so frequently with the most unmistakable 
representations of the goddess that it is time lost to seek its £truscan origin, as Muller has done, in 

the Latin Venns Fmti, oi lo identify it, according to Schwcnck, with Hera" {Ohir die Cotlheiten drr 
Eirusitr. Ed. Gerhard, AiademisiAi Ahhandluagm, Erster Band, p. 324). 

API. (7 (APOLLJ3) A 

It was a long time before I could find out this now almost forgotten name ; 
but one day it came forth as if by chance or inspiration, and then I was told 
the following details : — 


'* Turanna is a spirit who was when in life (or on earth) a fairy, and bting very beautiful and good, 
she did good to all who were like her. 

'* There was in a land mother and son, who live;^! in great misery. This fairy witfi her magic wand 
caused this youth — all tattered and torn (tutto siracciaio) to be transported to a distant place. 

*' The fairy was there, and she asked him how it was that he had come so far into a country where 
there were no herbs to nourish him ? 

"The youth replied that it was a spirit of kindly disposition who had borne him thither to make his 

•• The fairy answered, * That spirit am I, and will make thee king.' 

*' The youth looked at her, marvelling, and said, ' Lady, it is impossible that one so miserable as 
I can ever Ijecomc a king.* 

** * Go, youth, to that tree which thou seest. Go below that tree. 

'"There thou wilt find nuts to carry to the king. 

** * Thy fortune is sworn, and thy fortune will be when thou art under the tree — 

" ' Tree which thou seest there l)elow. Carry its nuts to the king.' 

" He saw (found) himself dressed like a lord, and found a basket of nuts, all brilliant diamonds and 
precious pearls, 

'*And with a crown, on which they sang and danced.' 

" ' Carry these things,' said the fairy, ' to the king, and tell him that thou desirest his daughter for 
wife. He will drive thee forth with ill-will. 

'"At that time by magic I will make it appear that the princess is with child, and she will say 
that thou wert its sire. 

" ' Then the king, to avert scandal, will give her to thee. And the instant thou art married all 
that appearance of being with child will vanish.' 

**So it came to pass. When the king was in a rage Turanna was in a dark forest, with the card 
of the king of hearts, which was the poor youth, and the king of spades, which was the king, and the 
queen of hearts, which was the princess. 

'* Her incantation (f.^., what she sung to enchant the king) : — 

*** lo sono Turanna la fate. 

Fino che vivro, la fata Turanna io saro. 
£ quando morta io saro 
La spirito di Turanna che verro 
Sempre scongiurata, e chi Io meritera 
Molte grazie da me ricevera ! 

Io, Turanna, bene e fortuna 

Per quel giovane io voglio fare, 

Tre diavoli benigne vengo a scongiurare : 

Uno per il re che Io faccio convertire, 

Uno per il povero che fortuna le faccia avere, 

Uno per la figlia che la faccia presentare 

Al padre incinta, e dire 

Che e incinta del giovane che a chiesto la sua mano. 

Questi tre diavoli scongiuro che piglino 

II re per i capelli e Io trasinino 

» Here there is manifestly something omitted. " CoUa corona softra quali cantcnano^ ballavano^ 
Perhaps *' around which fairies sang and danced." 


Forte, forte gli faccino 

Le pene della morte che non possa vivere, 

E non possa stare, 

Fino che la figlia a quel giovane 

Non a consento dare * 

(** *I am Turanna the fairy, 

While I live that fairy I shall be. 

And when I shall be dead 

I shall become the spirit of Turanna, 

Ever to be invoketl, and those who merit it 

Shall receive many favours from me. 

I, Turanna, wish to bestow 

Prosperity and fortune on that youth ; 

I conjure three beneficent demons, 

One for the king whom I will change, 

One for the poor young man that he may succeed, 

One for the daughter whom I will present 

As with child to her sire, and say 

That she is enceinte by the youth who sought her hand. 

These three demons I conjure that they may take 

The king and drag him by the hair I 

Strongly, strongly they shall do so, 

Cause him deathly pain that he may not live 

Nor shall he be able to stand 

Till he consents to give his daughter to the youth.') 

"And so the king consented, and when he saw in an instant that his daughter was not with child, 
he said, * I have been deluded by the fairy Turanna, and it seemed to me that I was as if dying, and 
were dragged by the hair of my head.' 

**But his word having been given, he could not withdraw it, so they were married, and happy. 
And so the poor youth, by the protection of Turanna, won a kingdom and a wife, and took care of his 
mother, and in time had a fair son." 

This whole narrative is properly a song. It appears to be very old, and 
is evidently given in an abbreviated or almost mutilated form, for which the reader 
must make allowance. Nor was it well remembered by the old woman who 
repeated it 

And of Turanna I was further told that : — 

^ She is the spirit of lovers, of peace and of love, and the goddess of beauty. When a youth is 
u love he should go into a wood and say : — 

" * Turanna, Turanna ! 

Che di belt^ sei la regina ! 
Del cielo e della terra, 

di felicita e di buon cuore ! 


Turanna ! Turanna ! 

In questo folto bosco 

Mi vengo a inginnochiare 

Per che tanto infelice 

£ sfortunato sono 

Amo una donna e non sono corrisposto. 

Turanna ! Turanna ! 
A te mi vengo a raccommandare ! 
Le lue tre carte a volere 
Scongiurare che quella 
Giovane mi possa amare. 

Turanna ! Turanna ! 

Fallo per 11 bene che ai sempre fatta, 

Sei stata sempre tanta buona generosa, 

Sei buona quanto e bella, 

Che di bclta siei la stella ! ' " 

(<* 'Turanna, Turanna ! 

Thou who art the queen of beauty ! 

Of heaven and of earth, 

And of happiness and fortune ! 

Turanna, Turanna ! 

In this dark forest 

I come to kneel to thee, 

For I am unhappy and unfortunate; 

I love a girl and am not loved again. 

Turanna, Turanna ! 
I commend me unto thee, 
Enchant thy three cards at will, 
Conjure that maid to love me ! 

Turanna, Turanna ! 

Do this. By the good which thou hast done ! 

Thou hast ever been so good and generous, 

Thou arc good as thou art fair, 

For of beauty thou art the star ! ' ") 

Ere I forget it, I would remark that Turanna performs her miracles and 
confers fortune by means of the three winning cards. Cards are the successors 
of dice in this modernised mythology, and it is significant that among the Romans 
the highest cast of dice, or three sixes, was known as the Venus-throw. Here 
again I regret not having by me my copy of Pascasius Jtistus de A lea — a little 
Elzevir which I well remember buying in my sixteenth year with my only shilling. 
But I might as well sigh for the lost work, De Alea Lusu (Of the Game of Dice), 
by the Emperor Claudian, of which Suetonius tells. But I learn from Pauly's 


Real Efuyclopcedia that the Jactus Vetteris^ or "Venus-throw," was thre^ sixes, 
when thrown with three dice (Martial, 14, 14), or i, 3, 4, 6 when with four dice; 
Hence Venus as Queen of Hearts, and also with three cards. 

Turanna is therefore probably Turan, the Etruscan Venus. Of which Corssen 
says in Sprache der Etrusker^ to which I have been greatly indebted for this 
subject, as well as to Gerhard, Inghirami, and Lanzi : " Turan is the name of a 
goddess often represented on Etruscan mirrors as a beautiful woman, fully naked, 
or naked to the hips, or in Greek female apparel, her hair flowing in ringlets, or 
artistically bound up, wearing much rich jewellery. She is evidently the Etruscan 
duplicate of the Greek Aphrodite." 

It is very characteristic of the gambling Italian and fortune-teller that the 
dealing out the fate of mankind with cards should be characteristic of Turanna. 
The conception of her managing their destiny with dice is probably known to 
the reader, as it was to Rabelais, who made the old judge decide cases by it. 

I have already, in the Introduction, expressed my great obligations to 
Professor, now the Senator Domenico Comparetti, of Florence, owing to whose 
friendly advice and suggestions my attention was first directed to these researches, 
I am again reminded of it by the aid which I have received from him, and also 
from Professor Milani, director of the Archaeological and Etruscan Museum in 
Florence, in the chapters on Turanna, Aplu, and Pano. 

"Remains to be said," that the ancients regarded dice as sacred things, 
mysteriously inspired and moved by the Spirit of Chance, or, when favourable, by 
Lady Venus in her gentlest mood ; — the great, good, and glorious Emperor 
Claudian having written a book in praise of dicing. (I extol him because he was 
the first who ever went heart and soul into raking up Etruscan antiquities and 
folk-lore — doquentissimus jtixta et sapientissimus scriptor.) But the later Christians 
abominated them — because the Roman soldiers gambled with them for Christ's 
garments ; and Bartolomeo Taegis, in his Risposte, or Essays (Novara, 1 5 54), says 
that they were invented by the devil, and that " this game is a tempest of the soul, 
a fog of fame, a sudden shipwreck of fortune — as was shown by the king of the 
Parthians, who sent unto another monarch golden dice, all to remind him of his 
fickleness/* That will do for to-day. 

Apropos of Turanna and her cards I have something to say. It has been 
remarked of my Gypsy Sorcery that it does not deal sufficiently in the romantic 
element or minister unto the marvellous, looking rather for the sun by noon- 
light than with Dame Crowe at the night side of Nature in the dark. Now that 
the lovers of the incomprehensible may not be utterly disappointed, I give, on my 
honour as absolutely true, or as strictly " on the cards," the following : — 


Several weeks before the failure and evasion of Emanuele Fenzi, the banker, 
in Florence, January, 1892, the woman specially referred to in these pages as a 
fortune-teller, was, more for her own pleasure than mine, consulting the cards to 
find out whether I would find the lost books of Livy, or the Annals of Claudian, 
or something else in the way of transcendental cartomancy, when she found that 
certain incidents or predictions not connected with the main inquiry kept forcing 
themselves forward, like unbidden guests, into the play : as often happens when 
the twenty-five demons who are always invoked at the beginning of such divina- 
tion are more than usually friendly, and not only come in person but bring with 
them all their friends. The chief intruder on this occasion was a distinguished, 
great or rich, man, with whom I was to have, or about whom there would be, un 
gran' disturbo^ that is, great trouble and rumour, noise or report. Through him I 
was to lose a small sum, but narrowly escape a great loss. 

I had not forgotten, but I gave no heed to this suggestion by Turanna, 
when some weeks later the failure of Fenzi the banker made a tremendous 
disturbo in fair Florence. By which fraudulent bankruptcy I did indeed lose four 
hundred and sixty francs ; but as I had been on the point of depositing with 
Emanuel — who did but little credit to his name — a very much larger sum which 
would have caused me serious inconvenience, my culpable neglect of business in 
this instance saved me more money than I should have made all the winter by 
diligently attending to it. Then I was reminded of the prediction by my Sybil, 
and I give very accurately what I remember of it On asking the divineress if she 
remembered what she had said, and how the cards had " come," she replied "Yes," 
and wrote me out these words : — 

" When the cards were * made ' — quando sifecero le carte — they announced that you ought to have money 
from (or with) a great sigtiore,, and through this would be greatly troubled, but the trouble would come to no 
great loss {veniva a essere fwn tanto grande) ; and in fhis disturbance was involved a journey, l)etween you 
and the other sigttore. 

'* And you will come well out of it, but there will be tears and great trouble for him.' 


Truly there was a voyage — a shooting of the moon, and a moving between 
two days — unto Corfu, as it is said, by the banker. The two accounts — mine and 
the witch's — are interesting as setting forth exactly the prediction as we both 
recalled it Be it observed that, as the cards fell, the interpretation was perfectly 
correct. " Haec ita clara, ita explorata sunt, ut frustra sit qui testium nubcm in 
fidem vocaverit" 

** 'Tis all so proved, explored, well tried, and plain, 
That he who doubts it does so all in vain." 

PANO. 45 

Manuscripts of the Middle Ages, such as the " Othea " of Christina de Pisa, 
establish Venus as dealing out hearts, and her connection with lucky cards. She 
became the Queen of Hearts at a very early period. It is worth noting in this 
connection that Friday, the dies Veneris^ was always a lucky day, especially for 
marriage, till the priests spoiled it. The Turks still insist on this great truth, 
because, as they believe, it was on a Friday that Adam married Eve ; Solomon, 
Balkis ; Joseph, Zuleika (i>., Mrs. Potiphar) ; Moses, Sisera ; and Mahomed, Cha- 
didscha and Ayesha. For according to authentic records given by the Persian and 
Turkish poets, Joseph, it appears, after the little incident recorded in the Bible, 

subsequently " thought better of it," and Mrs. P , as women always do, had her 

own way in the end. Alors — vive le Vendredi! 


" Pan I oh, Pan — we sing to thee ! 
Hail, thou king of Arcady ! " 


' Eca suthi n^sl Pan . . . 
Hanc (cellam) mortale posuit Pan. . . . ** 

Ubtr die Sprache der Etrusker, VoN W. CoRSSEN, 1874. 

Every reader of these pages will remember to have learned, long ago, that 

" great Pan is dead," and how the fact was revealed to Thamnus, an Egyptian, 

who proclaimed it to the midnight by command, whereupon there was heard such 

a wailing of nymphs, satyrs, dryads oreads, and all the sprites who live in woods 

or streams, that it would seem as if all the fair humanities of olden time — mortem 

obversari ante oculos — did see grim death itself before their eyes, " since 'twas in 

Pan that they all held their life." All of which Eusebius, and in later times an 

exceeding sweet English poet, have discussed, while others have contended that he 

is not dead at all, but lives for ever on in all Nature. " This thing did often 

occupy my thought," therefore it was with a strange feeling, like that which was felt 

by him who, opening an Etruscan tomb, saw, for a minute only, an ancient warrior 

— perfect as in life, ere his face fell into ashes — that I discovered that in the 

Romagna Toscana there is a perfect solution of the question and a reconcilement 

of this difference of opinion. For there the great Pan did indeed once die — for 

the love, as it seems, of some beautiful nymph — but now lives as a spirit who is 

exceeding kind and gracious to all who approach him with the proper incantation 

or hymn in her name, the which scongiurazione I, to my great joy, succeeded in 

obtaining. What I was told of him was in these words — he being called Pauo : — 


 " Pano is Ik spirit of the country, and benign — one of wbcnn benelilB are sought. (E una spirito btHigno, 
per la campagHa t ftr chi U chiede del itm.) 

" Pano when in (hU life had a love whom he Indeed did very greatly lore. 

" Whoever would beg a favour oC him must go in (he evening, and kneel to him in a field by Ihe light 
of the moon, and sdy: — 

* Pano, Pano, Pano ! 

Inginnochio in un' campo. 

PA NO. 47 

Che tanto amavi, 
Che da un campo di sera via 
Ti fu porlata e ti fu uccisa, 
Per il pene di quella ti prego 
Di farmi questa grazia ! ' 

(** * Pano, Pano, Pano ! 

I am kneeling in a field, 
I am here by the light of the moon 
In the name of thy beautiful one 
Whom ^hou didst so much love, 
Who from a Held one evening 
Was rapt from thee and slain ; 
By her sufferings, I adjure thee, 
To grant me this favour ! *) 

"Then one asks of him some favour, as that the country may become beautiful" (this, I take it, is a 
prayer for good crops), *' or according to that which one requires." 

From all which we may observe that even in the end of the tail of this great 
serpent-century Pan still lives. And of those who wail for, and sympathise with, 
and invoke him, it cannot be said with Salvator Rosa : — 

**Non h con loro una voce Etrusca. 

("There is not with them one Etruscan voice.'*) 

Though indeed there are not many of them, for Pan is now one of the 
obscurest and least-known spirits. 

It is significant of ancient Pan that he was noted for his loss of lady-loves. 
He mourned for Echo, and Syrinx turned to a reed to escape him, so he made of 
her pan-pipes on which he wailed her evanishment. She was really " rapt from 
him in a field at eventide," and it was her voice which he ever after awoke in the 
Pandean pipes, which in latter days became the church organ. But as a loser of 
loves Pan is alone among the deities. 

Were thfe name wanting this circumstance would be a clue. Whether Pan was 
ever evoked in Latin times by memories of Syrinx or Echo, I do not know, but it 
is very significant that peasant tradition has preserved this very peculiar feature of 
his history. Pan, the great god of earth, made of his memory an endless tomb. 

But though as god of the earth, fields, and crops, Pan is a benevolent spirit, 
yet as one who may be offended, and who has the power to destroy the harvest, 
he is also dreaded. From another authority in the Romagna Toscana, I learn by 
letter that '' he is regarded by old men in Premilcuoreas. a spirito maligno, becAUde 



when the corn is high he comes in roaring winds which beat it down. As it does 
not rise again, it cannot be sold, and for this the peasants curse him." 

A certificate signed by C. Placidi, Dec. 12, 1891, now before me, attests that: 
" Here in Premilcuore much is remembered of the spirit Pano." 

Pan, it may be observed, was, as a windy spirit, also feared of yore. Hence 
the panic terror {Gazaus^ p. 174). And an ass was often sacrificed to him (Ovid, 
Fasti/\,f 425). 

I have given a great deal of cautious and fearful apology in this my book, as 
regards possible errors or improvisations in tradition and especially incantations. 
But I must remark of this one to Pan (and it may be said of nearly all of them), 
that any true scholar critic, and above all true poet, cannot fail. to at once perceive 
that it is a composition far above the intellectual capacity of a woman who actually 
could not be made to take an interested comprehension of the fable of Pan, or to 
see how it agreed with her verses. That is, she did not actually understand what 
she repeated, which effectively disposes of the question as to whether she altogether 
invented it. That some and perhaps many of these incantations only set forth 
a shadowy or shifting form of what is said, or may be said, in calling certain 
follettiy I have already clearly declared, but that others are used as here given is 
also true. Thus in several cases those who were consulted, said there were 
incantations referring to this or that spirit which they could not recall. But in 
cUl cases they existed. 

According to Friedrich, who has devoted a chapter to the subject {Die WelU 
korpery &c., 1864), Pan and his seven reeds sets forth the music of the spheres, 
when this god is the chorus leader of the heavenly dances, who playing on his 
pipe inspires the Seven Spheres, and the divine harmony (Serv. to Virgil, Eclogues 
ii., 31). Hence Pan is invoked in an Orphic hymn (xi., 6) as : — 

** Inspired among the stars, 
Playing the harmonies uf creation 
Upon the jesting flutes." 

Which idea of the All-god of Nature and the seven planets suggested, as I 
think, a verse to Emerson : — 

*' I am the ruler of the sphere : 
Of the Seven Stars and the solar year." 

It was just at the time when he wrote this that my old schoolmaster, 
J. Bronson Alcott, published his Orphic Sayings in the Dial. And they were 
very intimate in those days. 


"Omnia tiansroimat sese in miracuU reiunt." — Vircil, Cterg, 1. 4. 

"As to what became of ihe old god of wac Mors blnce the victory of the Christians I can lell jrou bul 
lillle. 1 am inclined to believe that duiing the Middle Ages he exercised (he law of the sliong band. 
The ncf^KW of the executioner of MLinstcr once met him in Boli^oa." — Heine, Die Colter in Exil. 

o I could learn nothing more, save 
that he was a very great folUtto, 
or spirit, who protects or presides 
over the crops, and is a special 
patron of girls or " women who 
make love," by which, I suspect, 
those are meant who make it 
rather freely than otherwise. 

"The old root of Mars," re- 
marks Pkellek, "seems to be 
Mar or Mas, and indicates, the 
virile strength of a generating 
and inspiring deity, who was 
originally a god of nature, but 
whom later ages reduced to 
simply a god of war. From tnar 
came by reduplication Marmar 
and Marnier, by which name he 
is invoked in the song of the 
Arvat Brothers, to protect and 
bless the fields. In old times he 
was honoured as a protecting 

deity of marriage and of married life. Here Martea is allied to Mars as the 

goddess of love and of desire." 


If Maso be Mars, it is probable that we have him here known only by his  
first name and earliest attributes. My informant positively denied that Maso was 
in this case only the diminutive of Tommaso, or Thomas — as was (of course) 

Maso. After Gerhard aad Gcri. 

promptly su^[ested by one of the learned. And I am inclined to believe the 
former, because there is no apparent reason whatever, beyond mere resemblance 
of name, why a spirit of nature should be called Thomas after a saint, while that 


between the modern Maso and the ancient Mas is very great. A single coinci- 
dence, be it of name or attribute, or incident, gives basis for nothing more than 
an hypothesis, or supposition ; iwo^ as of name and attribute, entitles us to form a 
theory ; t/iree^ a$ when both are borne out by established tradition and testimony, 
constitute authentic history. In this case the latter is wanting, but great allowance 
must be made for the fact that Maso appears in company with a number of others 
of whose authenticity there can be little doubt 

It is to be particularly observed that in the prayer to Mars given by Cato 
(de re rustical cap: 141), which is of very great antiquity, this deity is, as Panzer 
{Bayerisclle Sagen^ p. 525) observes, invoked solely as a god of crops, " ist ganz 
als Amtegott dargestelltl^ and that all the offerings brought to him indicate that he 
was a god of harvests. This view of Mars, according to Panzer, is confirmed by 
passages in the Euguboean tablets, so far as they have been deciphered. 

Elias Schedius {De Dis Gertnanis) has gathered together much learning to 
prove that Mars autem nulltis alius nisi Sol (" Mars is none other than the Sun "), 
that is to say, the fructifying and vivifying principle of nature. And it is as such 
that he appears in old Etruscan mythology. 

Mania DELLA Notte. 

" The real god of the world below among the Tuscans, or Tusker," writes 
Ottfried MOller, " was called Mantus, who was therefore compared with Dis- 
pater. In Etruscan histories the name of Mantua was derived from him. With him 
was worshipped a goddess of the lower realms— the Mania, . . . This was a truly 
Etruscan divinity. ... To the strange and terrible gods to whom the Tuscan 
libri fatales give human sacrifices . . . belong Mantus and Mania. Terrible to 
the old Italians seemed Mania . . . who is inseparable from the Tuscan faith of 
the Lares, being allied to the Manes. She was an awful divinity to whom, under 
Tarquinius Superbus, boys were offered. Her fearful image — afterwards a 
child's toy — was in early times hung on doors to avert contamination. This 
Mania was the mother or grandmother of the Manes, also the mother of the 
Lares." MUller indulges in much speculation as to this chthonic goddess, 
or deity of darkness. 

And she still lives in Tuscany, and is called Mania delta Notte (Mania of the 
Night), but regarded simply as the Nightmare, and Succuba, and as a mysterious 
nocturnal spirit inspiring wanton dreams. 

It has been suggested to me that " the Greek word mania^ meaning insanity 
or madness, has nothing to do with the Latin mania** which to a degree weakens 


the connection between the nightmare and the spirit of the night. This I leave 
to others to~ discuRS ; it is enough for me to have shown that there was an 
Etruscan Mania of the Night of old, and that the nightmare is called hy the same 
name now, in La Romagna Toscana. 

It may be observed that both Mania of the Night and Martha of the Day, 
or her prototype Mater Matuta, were said to be the mothers of the Lares. This 
indicates the existence of a primal goddess of both night and day. " Mania," writes 
Mrs. Hamilton Gray {Hist, of Etritria), " was a most fearful spirit to the old 
Italians. Her frightful image used to be hung over the doors, like a scarecrow, to 
frighten away evil." This is quite identical with the old Assyrian observance 
recorded by Lenormant of placing the images of evil or dreaded deities in places 
to scare away the demons themselves. 

I have mentioned in the Preface that Enrico Rossi testified of Mania 
deila Notte that she was " remembered once by many, but it is now a 
long time since any one at Galeata has spoken of her." From which it 
may be inferred that the name is passing away rapidly, and but for my 
inquiries would soon have been among those 

" Of the gods who had their tam. 
And whose (ires no longer bum." 



"The Etruscan Feronin— the Dawn — is also ihe goddess of lt»dc." — The Etninam, by John Fraser. 
" Vividi gaudcns FeronLi luco."— VlRGlL, ^iieiii, viii,, 800. 

" On manusque tua Uvimtis, 
Feronia, lympha."— Horace, Sal. i., v. 14. 

HERE is a kind of argument 
very much in vogue among 
historians of the Mommsen 
class. It consists in pick- 
ing a small flaw in a legend 
or incident, or even offering 
an unproved conjecture of 
one's own, as Mommsen does, 
and then boldly assuming from 
it that all is false. No heed 
whatever is taken of the fact 
that this incident, or narrative, 
taken with others as a w/iole, 
may have a basis of truth — 
no — all must go at a guess. 

I beg the reader to bear this 
in mind as regards several 
chapters, of which the fol- 
lowing is a type, requiring 
a broader and more liberal 
method of judgment. 

There is a goddess of whose 

identity with a modem spirit, 

or follelto, there can be very little question. Feronia, according to MtjLLER, was 


the ancient goddess of the market-place and fairs. This would, as a matter of 
course, identify her with, and make her the patron of, all strolling characters who 
frequent sudi places. MULLER expresses a doubt whether she was really a 
member of the Etruscan Heiligthum^ or mythology, since Varro claims her as 
Sabine. But as she had temples in Etruria, he deems it possible that she was 
common to both races. The ancients were at a loss where to place her among the 
deities ; she appears, however, to be a goddess of the earth, and allied to Mania, 
" which makes it intelligible how it was in her power to give to the Praenestic 
Herilus three souls from the lower world." But what is most important of all 
for my purpose is that she was feared, and that people brought her offerings. 

Feronia is at the present day "a strega-folletta — a witch-spirit who goes 
wandering about the country begging alms in disguise. When the peasants are 
liberal to her all goes well with them ; but should they give her nothing then they 
suffer for it She bewitches children, oxen, horses, and all the beasts che iengono 
nella stalla — which are kept in stables." 

A wandering witch, who exacts offerings, and who is rather evil thaii good, is 
a very legitimate descendant from a goddess of the markets, and who, as a form 
of Mania, is prone to mischief and revenge. There can be no question but that 
the ancient Feronia was Persephonic or chthonic, or a queen of the realm below : 
therefore a witch now, who, if not propitiated, inflicts on the peasants what they 
most dread^loss of children and cattle. Sabine or Etruscan, she still lives, and 
is much feared in Tuscany. 

Since writing the last line I have learned that Feronia haunts market-places, 
specially '^ Per che e lo spirito del mercato^ I have, regarding her, also the 
following, which was attributed to Impusa^ but which, I am quite sure, was 
an error of the copyist : — 


Feronia was an old woman who went about begging in the country, yet she always had a 

gran pulitica — that is, she was intelligent or shrewd or very cunning in manners — and, as one would 

hare believed, she was a witch. All who gave her alms were very fortunate, and their affairs prospered. 

-fVnd if people could give her nothing because of their poverty, when they returned home after the 

sun rose (dopo chiaro) they found abundant gifts — enough to support all the family — so that henceforth 

all went well with them; but if any who were rich gave her nothing, and had evil hearts, she cursed 

them thus : — 

** * Siate maledetti 

Da me che vi maladisco 

Di vero cuore ! 

£ cosi i vostr 'affari 

rpssono andare 

A rotto di collo ! 

Fame e malattie ! 

Cosi non avrete, 

Non avrete piu bene ! ' 


(** * Be ye all accursed 
By me who curse you 
Wilh my heart and soul ! 
May your lives for ever 
Go to utter ruin ; 
Illness and starvation 
Be ever in your dwelling ! ') 

*' By this they knew she was a witdi. But when she was dead she became terrible, and did much 
harm. However, when those who had wronged her, and knew it, went to her tomb and begged pardon 
they were always sure to obtain it." 

The incident of the begging, and the elegant style and distinguished air 
indicate a character like that of Juno and Ceres combined. The curse attributed 
to her has a great strength, and may be of extreme antiquity. The connection of 
Feronia with Mania explains why she was feared as a witch. And it is very 
remarkable indeed that while MUller lays stress on the fact that she had 
offerings brought to her, the modern Tuscan account makes it a main incident. 
Taking her altogether, Feronia appears to be exactly what such a goddess would 
naturally come to be in the minds of the people at a stage while they still believed 
in and feared her, and before she had sunk to a mere reminiscence in a Mdhrctten, 
And it is the Mdhrchen^ or child's tale, alone which is chiefly sought by folk-Iorists 
who have no conception of the extent to which the, as yet, living myth exists. 

The Roman-Etruscan Feronia was very famous for the extent of the offerings 
made to her. " All who dwelt near brought her the first fruits, and many 
offerings, so that in time an immense quantity of gold and silver formed a 
treasure in her temple, which was all carried away by the soldiers of Hannibal " 
(Livy, xxvi., 1 1 ; Silius Italicus, Pun. xiii. ; Preller, Rom, Myth.^ 377)» This 
agrees with the modern story of her exacting tribute. Again, she was the special 
protectress of the freed slaves — that is a friend of the poor — and the Libertini in 
Rome made offerings to her (Livy, xxii., 1.). This is curiously identical with the 
legend. If, as MULLER asserts, Feronia was a duplicate of Persephone, who was 
often a counterpart of the charitable Ceres, this would explain the very singular 
statement that the poor always received their gifts from her " after the sun rose," 
i,e,^ they came, or were given, during the night Her market and temple were also 
a great resort for merchants and traders, which seems to cast some light on the 
otherwise uncalled-for statement that she was of gran pulitica — very shrewd. 
The modern Feronia is also a great friend to the poor. 

But there is yet another reason why Feronia may have retained a reputation 
as a witch or wonder-worker. She was of old especially identified with the great 
miracle, of which so much was made during the Middle Ages, of walking on red- 


hot ploughshares or glowing coals. As appears by the following passage from 
Strabo, Lib. 5 : — 

'* Sub monte Soracte urbs est Feronia^ quo nomine et Dea qusedam nuncupatur, quam finitimi miro 
dignantur honore. Eodem in loco ipsius templum est, mirificum sacrigenus habens. Nam qui ejus numine 
afilantur, nudis pedibus prunas calcant. £6 ingens mortalium multitudo convenit, et celebritatis ipsius, 
quae quotannis celebratur, gratia, paritur et spectacuU." 

The ordeal of hot coals was very commonly applied to witches, and it is not 
improbable that the accused appealed to Feronia to protect them, owing to some 
tradition. One thing is apparent both in the ancient and modern Feronia, that 
she is, or was, a protector and friend of the poor, one of slaves and refugees, as now 
of paupers. The identification of the elder goddess with the ordeal indicates 
protection and benevolence. On which interesting subject the reader may consult : 
I. Roth, De more quo apud plerosque Europmos populos per ferrunt candens ardentes 
prunas rogumque probatur, Ulm, 1676. Lescher, De probatione rerum dubiarum 
per ignetnfacto^ Leipzig, 1695. Eckard, De ritu antiquissimo per ignes et carbones 
candendes incedendiy 1791, and Nork, Sitienund Gebrduclie der Deutsctien. 

It will be seen, therefore, that the modern Feronia corresponds to the ancient 
character of the same name in many ways. And I would call attention to the 
fact that beyond the name itself (for which I indeed inquired) nothing was by me 
suggested or demanded. 

According to Fraser {The Etruscans), " Feronidi in Etruria held an honour- 
able position, for not only was she goddess of Falerii, but she had a sanctuary also 
at the Etruscan town of Losna (Latin, Luna). The name of this town, Losna, 
is another proof that Feronia is the goddess of the Dawn, for it comes from the 
Greek los or /as, light." 

Monti has written a very beautiful, though rather feeble poem, called the 
Feroniade, in which the heroine, as a goddess, approaches much more closely to 
the same character as set forth in modern popular legend than to the stately 
goddess Feronia of classic tradition. For she is with him at first only a small 
sylvan Etruscan deity, the queen of the violets, who wanders through ravines and 
forests, or " a nymph." 

"Ella per fiere 
Baize e foreste erro gran tempo 
Una nin/a gi^ fu delle propinque 
Selve leggiadra abitatrice, ed era 
l\ suo nome Feronia." 

This is altogether our Feronia, and not the great goddess of the olden time, 



which she is subsequently represented as being — the reason for which very 
evidently was that Monti began with an inspiration derived from the popular 
Tuscan legend, and, as he wrote, by going back into classic lore for material, 
entirely changed the character of his heroine. This is absolutely the only 
explanation which can be oflfered of this manifest blunder. 


" Silvanus " (the god of fields and cattle) " has still dominion in the land." — The Cities of Etruria^ by 
George Dennis, vol. i., p. 229. 

** Quin et Silvanos Faunosque et deorum genera silvis ac sua numina tanquam et coelo attributa credimus.*' 
—Pliny, HisL Nat,, xii., 2. 

" Fama est, Cyparissum puerum ab ipso fuisse amatum, quare ubi in arborem sui nominis mutatus 
fuisset, Cupressum manibus semper gestasse Sylvanus dictus fuit." — De Hemiapkroditorum^ Monstrosorum^ 
6^^., Caspari Bauhinii 1 6 14. 

Silviano was described to me, as " Lo spirito dei boschi " (" the spirit of the 
forests or woods "), and his peculiarities were set forth as follows : — 

*' Silviano is very fond of annoying the peasants who bum charcoal (che fanno U caiaste di carbwe — 
literally, who pile up the heaps and then ignite them). And when all the sticks are piled» then comes 
Silviano and upsets them, and the contadini begin to quarrel among themselves, accusing one another of the 
deed. So they have to begin their work over again. Then Silviano roars with laughter, and the men begin 
to swear and perhaps to fight, every one thinking that the other is laughing at him. And while all this is 
going on Silviano piles up the wood again — to their great amazement when they return to work. 

*' This happened once to two men, and they thought it must be a miracle worked by some saint. So 
they went to the parocco, or parish priest, and told him of it. So he went there and examined, but found 
nothing remarkable, and told them they were fools for their pains, and so returned with all his precissione 
(procession), persuaded that nothing wonderful had happened. 

" But good-natured as Silviano is, he is altrettanto vendiccaiiva — tolerably revengeful. And from that 
day, whether in wood or grove — nella macchia sia nel boscho — nothing went well with them. Other men 
found their work all done to hand for them, while theirs was spoiled. And this time they went to an old 
witch who understood the business, and knew what to do. And she said : — 

*» ' E il foUetto Silviano, 
Che I'avete contradito, 
E ora li vi fa tutti 
I dispetti, ma deU'erba 
Che vi daro vi fara tornare 
In la sua buona grazia. 

(** ' Tis the spirit Silviano, 

Unto him ye were ungracious, 
Therefore he has made these troubles 
For you — ^but I'll give you something, 
*Tis an herb which will restore you 
Once again to his good graces.*) 


" Then she loot the herb called lilvtslra and also gineslra, or broom, and made of it a small square, 
and said, putlii^ it on their becks ; — 

' This is in truth the spirit 
O Silviano who protects m 


**So they returned again into his good graces, and never did anything more to offend him. And they 
learned from this a lesson not to go and call on priests when there had been a spirit present." 

Silvianus is plainly enough the old Roman Silvanus, of whom Prcller 
remarks : " He was like Faunus, a good spirit, but now and then a spuk Geist 
who frightened people. He was identified with everything beautiful, romantic, 
and rural. Planted pleasant fields, openings in the forest, wherever there was 
a cool shelter, a shady grotto, or where a murmuring brook attracted the shepherd 
in the mid-day heat, there was a spot always sacred to Silvanus." So he became 
very dear to all rural folk ; he was like one of themselves, and traces of this love 
are to be felt in this Tuscan tale. 

For reasons, which I have not space to give, I would here say that the ancient 
identification of Sylvanus with the cypress-Xx^^ fully explains his connection with 
charcoal-burning and burners. And as a spirit who specially haunts such men 
Silviano is identical with Rubezahl of Germany. Preller declares that the 
Silvanae, or Silviae wood-nymphs, belong rather to the German, Celtic, and Slavic 
races, than to the Latin. But why ? May not Rubezahl himself be of Italian 
birth ? Silvanus was the son of a river-god and a she-goat, and everything 
related of him is far more suggestive of pastoral Italy than of wild Germany. 

The utter heathenism of this story and its " moral " cannot have escaped the 
reader. The narrator was as absolutely a heathen herself as any who ever lived in 
the time of Tarquin, and never missed an opportunity to show that she considered 
the worship of the spirits of the olden time, and all its incantations and ceremonies, 
far superior to the Roman Catholic, for which latter she had a special aversion. 
With the old strege this religion of ancient times is not folk4ore but a living faith, 
and I was often as strangely moved by this reality as if I had been taken back 
two thousand years. 

This chapter, and others, therefore suggest the possibility that the Northern 
mythology of goblins may have been originally of Italian origin, or from a common 


This deity was described to me in the following words : — 

'* Pal6 is a spirit of the fields, vines, meadows, for all kinds of crops, and when men work, be it in 
planting maize, or in the vineyards, they must never forget to say : — 

»• * Lo spirito Pal6 
Sara quello 
Che mi fara 
La buona fortuna ! * 

EST A. 6 1 

(** • The spirit Palo 
He shall be 
The one who brings 
Good luck to me ! ') 

** And thus the peasant will be sure to ever have good fortune.* 

It is not difficult to recognise in Pal6 the Pales of the Romans, or the ancient 
deity of agriculture of all kinds. To him or to her — for Pales appears to have 
been recognised both as male and female — offerings were made by the peasants 
who also drank much, and leaped over flames. Preller writes that in the 
morning the shepherd uttered four times an invocation to Pales, then drank a 
mixture of milk and new wine, and then jumped over blazing straw. Therefore 
the invocation must have been very short, since it was so often repeated. It 
would be strange — and yet it is not impossible — that in the four lines here given 
there is an echo at least of the early invocation. There is so much which is 
unquestionably ancient in these Tuscan traditions that I find it almost impossible 
sometimes to believe that there is anything modern in them. Critics may very 
reasonably indicate many errors and' inconsistencies in details, but a comparison 
of the whole must leave the impression of antiquity. A single negro would not 
absolutely prove the existence of a black race, but a number of them would 
render it extremely probable. 

As was the case with most deities. Pales had a town named after him. It is 
the modern Palo, half way between Rome and Civita Vecchia. I mention this 
because it may be thought — as was indeed urged as to Norcia — that the modern 
Tuscan deity was so called after the town. 


" Nee tu aliud Vestam quam vivam intellige flammam, 
Nataque de flammis corpora nulla vides." 

Ovid, Fast, 6. 

When a light is suddenly and mysteriously extinguished or goes out 
apparently of its own accord, especially when two lovers are sitting together, 
it is commonly said in jest that " Esta did it." Esta is supposed to be a spirit 
who pays particular attention to lights, but beyond this I could learn nothing of 

Hestia was an ancient name for Vesta, and CiCERO thought that Vesta was 
derived from 'E<nia. In any case the sudden extinguishment of a light or fire, 



and the satirical covert allusion to love in the dark, seems to indicate that the 
goddess of chastity and her light are here alluded to. However, this is a matter 
which those who are best able to determine must settle for themselves if they 
think it worth the while. I do but record the fact that Esta put out the light, 
and then put out the light which was extinguished over Evelyn's bower. 


When I asked if the name Carmenta was known it was promptly recognised 
as that of a spirit who gives, presides over, and loves children, who aids in birth, 
and who is dear to mothers. Then the following was repeated : — 

" Carmenta, Carmenta ! 
Che tanta bella sei ! 
E inamorata sei 
Tanto dei fanciuUi ! 
Xante spose sono venute 
A te a raccomandare 
Che dei figli tu gli facesse fare, 
E tu buona quanto e, 
Bella i suoi voti tu ai, 
Ascoltati ti prego pure 

I niiei di volere ascoltare 
Perche sono molto infelice, 

II mio marito non mi ama piu 

Che tanto m'amava perche figli crear 

Non so, ma date, o bella Carmenta, 

Mi vengo a raccomandare 

Che un figlio tu mi possa far fare, 

E la pace con mio marito possa ritornare ! " 

(*' Carmenta, Carmenta ! 
Thou who art so fair, 
Thou who truly lovest 
Children, everywhere! 
As I come to thee, 
So have many others. 
Knelt before thy shrine, 
Seeking to be mothers! 
Thou didst grant their wishes. 
Thou as good as fair. 
Listen unto me, 
Grant my humble prayer! 
Once my husband loved me. 
Now he loves no more ; 


Because I bear no children 
All his love is o*er, 
Make me once a mother, 
He will love me as before ! ") 

This corresponds in name and in every detail to the Latin Carmenta or 
Carmentis, who was another form of the Fauna or Bona Dea. Of her Preller 
says : ** The Goddess of Birth, Carmenta, was so zealously worshipped near the 
Porta Carmentalis, which was named from her, that there was a Flamen 
CarmentaliSy and two calendar days, the eleventh and the fifteenth of January, 
called the Carmentalia, devoted to her worship. These were among the most 
distinguished festivals of the Roman matrons. She was peculiarly the goddess of 

IL Sentiero. 

The boundary-stones which determine the limits of fields are believed in 
Tuscany to have in or attached to them spirits called Spiriti dei sentieri, which 
means, however, " spirits of the paths," or lines of demarcation. It was, however, 
distinctly asserted that they lived in the stones. " And if any one removes them 
the spirit will quite ruin him." The single spirit is a sentiero. 

This spirit is exactly the Tertninus of the Romans, or the divinity of the 
boundaries. Fearful penalties were attached to the removal of such landmarks. 
The inscription of a terminus reads : Quisquis Iioc sustulerit ant Iceserit^ ultimus 
suorum moriatur ("Should any one remove or injure this stone, may he die the 
last of his race ! "). There is indeed quite a litany of old Latin curses, almost equal 
to a Roman Catholic excommunication, extant, as applied to these "land- 
grabbers." That the memory of these has survived is evident from the only 
comment which my informant made — // spirito lo giiasta ("The spirit ruins 
them "). 

Lactantius, heaping ridicule on the heathen for worshipping many deities of 
small duties, specifies Terminus as one because he was rough and rude. 

" He was the stone which Saturn swallowed thinking it was Jupiter. When Tarquin wished to build the 
Capitol and found these shrines of many ancient gods, he consulted them by augury whether they would yield 
to Jupiter. All agree to go save Terminus^ who was suffered to remain. Hence the poet calls him the 
immovable rock of the Capitol. And what can I say of people who worship such stocks and stones {lapides 
et stipites) save that they are stocks and stones themselves ? " {Adversus Gen/cs, book i., chap. xx.). 

It is a pity that Lactantius could not have lived to the end of the nineteenth 
century, when he might have seen among Christians an array of saints of small 


things, compared to whom all the heathen gods whom he mentions as laughable 
are grave and respectable' deities. Terminus, a rock, as the emblem of stability 
(for he was truly nothing more), is a soimd and sensible image, but what shall we 
think of Antony as the saint of pigs and truffles ; Simeon of lotteries, or the 
Roco-co saint of dogs ; or why is the Latin Cunina, who presided over children 
in the cradle, and whom Lactantius calls on us to laugh at, more ridiculous than 
Santa Anna who does the same, or even the Madonna herself — the incarnation 
of nursing motherhood ? But the saints — and even the Virgin — had not " come 
up" as yet in those days! Taking them all through, the most crushing and 
terrible condemnations of the later Catholic Church and its Hagiology are to be 
found in the arguments of the Fathers against the'Gcntiles, and especially in the 
vigorous satire of "the Christian Cicero." 


" Oh, Fufluns ! Fufluns ! awful deity t " — Pumpus of Perusia in the Gaudeataut of W. Schbffbl. 

" But it went better niib Bacchus than it did with Mars or Apollo after the grand retreat of Ihe 
gods."— Heine, The Cods in Exile. 

HE Arno, which rushes 
roaring before the window 
where I am writing, swelled 
by much rain to a spring 
flood, is now a great river, 
very muddy and somewhat 
unmanageable. I have seen 
it in summer when it was 
limpid and clear, but then it 
was only a rivulet which went 
from one shining pool to 
another, like a silken thread 
scantily strung with sun-lit 
pearls, or a pilgrim wander- 
ing from shrine to shrine. 
It would have been easy 
then for a hundred people 
to carry it all away in barrels, 
or for all the population of 
the place to drink it up — as 
they would assuredly have 
done like " Macpherson," had 
it been wine. Now all the 
men in Tuscany, with all their buckets, could make no estimate of its water. 




This reminds me of the task on which I am engaged. If it were only to 
gather, collate, and correct a collection of fairy tales, or proverbs, or parables, 


or games, or Exempla, it would be an easy, or at least a defined work. Such 
pools are not hard to fathom, or count, or measure, or exhaust But this mass 
of old, obscure,' unrecorded mythology, comes pouring and foaming down like 
the Arno from the mountains of La Romagna, in whose mysterious recesses 
still dwells 

"the dragon's ancient brood, 
And rocks fall over roaring in the flood." 

Well, it is a strange country little known — we have Goethe's word for that — 
and it has sent me, all in a spring freshet, obscure deities of doubtful name 
and fame, sorceries, rhymes, legends — dirt and diamonds — tutti confusi e inistL 
What should I give ? What should I suppress ? As compared to anything 
which I have as yet met in folk-lore this has been more like counting Ossian's 
ghosts than aught else. Many a time have I almost despaired over it, and 
many a time been awed. 

But hope springs eternal in the human breast, and so I will proceed to 
discuss my last discovery of a divinity who is generally supposed to have 
utterly died out nearly two thousand years ago, and yet who lives as a real 
foUetto among a few old witches in La Romagna. I mean Faflon, 

FUFLUNUS was the Etruscan Bacchus. ** His name," writes MULLER {Die 
Etrusker^ vol. ii., p. 79), "was sounded (lautei) Fuflunus, Fuflunu, Fufluns — 
generally Fufluns. Gerhardt, i., 83, 84, 87, 90, &c. ; CORSSEN (i., p. 3i3"5)- 
We find on goblets Fufunl (Fahr. P, Spl. n. 453) and Fuflunsl (CORSSEN, 1., p. 
430), according to CORSSEN from poadum, and poculum Bacchi, He derives 
the name of the god from the Indogennanic root ///, to beget, ab. Gerhard 
from Populonia " — which is very doubtful. 

On inquiring from my best authority if there was in La Romagna Toscana 
a spirit of the vineyards, or of wine, I was promptly informed that there was 
such a being known as Fardel^ or FlavOy but among the witches, or those better 
informed in such mysteries, as Faflon, And at once there was narrated to me 
a legend which was then written out: — 


Faflon is a spirit who lives in the vines, and when women or men have gathered grapes and 
filled the panniers, then comes this Faflon and scatters them all on the ground ; but woe to the cotttadini 
should they be angered at it, for then Faflon knocks them right and left, and tramples (on the grapes), 
so that they get no profit. But if they take it good-naturedly, he gathers them again, and replaces them 
in the panniers. 

" Now there was a peasant who greatly loved the spirits, and frequently blessed them. One year 
e verything went wrong with him ; his crop of grapes and all other fruit failed, yet for all this he still 
loved Faflon and blessed him. 


*' One morning he rose to gather what little there was on the vines, but found that even that little 
was gone. The poor peasant 1)egan to weep, and said : * Non mi rcsta che morire. All that remains 
for me now is to die, for I have lost what little crop I had in my little vineyard/ When all at once 
Faflon appeared, but beautiful with a beauty like enchantment — ma tanto bello di una belUzza da fare 
incantare — and said : ' Oh, peasant with great coarse shoes, but with a 6ne brain, thou hast loved me 
so well I will reward thee. Go to thy cellar, and there a great quantity 

** D'uva mastatata tu troverai 
£ gran vino tu lo farai. 

C Pressed grapes thou shalt see, 

And great thy store of wine will be.) 

*'Now what Flaflon had said seemed to l)e like a dream to the peasant, but he went to his cellar, 
and truly the wine which he had that year made him rich, e non tbbe pitl hiogna di fare it cofttadina — 
he was no longer obliged to live as a peasant." 

No one can doubt that this Faflon — it was written in the MS. sometimes 
Flaflon — is the Fufluns, or Fufunal, of the Etruscans. His appearance as a 
very beautiful being is perfectly in accordance with that of Bacchus. It is exactly 
in this manner that Bacchus flashes up in beauty from disguise in classic tales. 
Bacchus of old carried off mortal beauties for mistresses, and I now give word 
for word as related by a witch a story of a modern Ariadne : — 

** There was a contadino who had several vineyards, yet all went so ill with them for several years 
that he had not wine enough to drink for his family. 

** Now he had a daughter — di una btlleza da fare incantare — of enchanting beauty. And one evening 
as he was sitting almost in despair, his daughter said : ' Father, dear, do you not know how all 
this came to pass? Have you forgotten that strange and beautiful youth who once came to you and 
begged for me — he was so much in love? And when you denied him what he asked, he replied: "If 
I cannot have her neither shall you have any vintage."* 

''Then the peasant was very angry, and beat his daughter, so that she had to go to bed. Then 
he went into the cellar, but what a sight he saw! On all the barrels were devils frolicking; fire 
flashed from their eyes and flamed from their mouths, and as they danced they sang : — 

** ' Give Faflon that girl of thine, 

And henceforth thou shalt have wine : 
If the maiden you deny. 
As a beggar thou shalt die.' 

" Then the man gave his daughter to Faflon, and lo ! all the barrels were filled with the best, 
and from that time his vintages were abundant.'* 

The picture of the cellar full of frisking Bacchanals and Fauns is good. 
I suspect that a Catholic influence made them "devils with fire coming out of 
their mouths." But perhaps it was only 


** II vino divino 
Che Bammeggia nel Sansovino.'* 

(** The wine divine 

Which flames so red in Sansovine.") 

I should have been really sorry if, after all this fine Bacchic lore, I had 
not found a hymn to him. And here it is. When a peasant wants a good 
vintage he may possibly pray for it in church, but to make sure of it he repeats 
the following to the jovial god : — 

** Faflon, Faflon, Faflon ! 
A vuoi mi raccomando ! 
Che Tuva nella mia vigna 
£ multa scarsa, 
A vuoi mi raccomando, 
Che mi fate avere 
Buona vendemmia ! 

Faflon, Faflon, Faflon ! 

A vuoi mi raccomando ! 

Che il vino nella mia cantina 

Me lo fate venire fondante, 

£ molto buono, 

Faflon, Faflon, Faflon!" 

(" Faflon, Faflon, Faflon ! 
Oh, listen to my prayer. 
I have a scanty vintage. 
My vines this year are bare ; 
Oh, listen to my prayer ! 
And put, since thou canst do so, 
A better vintage there I 

Faflon, Faflon, Faflon ! 
Oh, listen to my prayer ! 
May all the wine in my cellar 
Prove to be strong and rare, 
And good as any grown, 
Faflon, Faflon, Faflon!") 

There, reader, is the very last real and sincere hymn to Bacchus which 
was ever sung in Italy — probably the last truly Bacchanalian song which will 
ever be heard on earth. There have been whole libraries of such lyrics — Delia 
Cruscan Redi wrote a Bacco in Toscana ; but that was art — this is religion. 
And what is stranger is that this Bacchic hymn was possibly, in some form, 
not much unlike it, also the first which was ever composed. 


I should add that after the above was written my two contadino friends, 
who made a special business of going on market days to pick up the testimony 
of old peasants from all parts of La Romagna, fully confirmed the existence 
of this spirit, with this variation — that Ottavio Magrini wrote the name 
Faflond, while Peppino declares, " // name legitimo di questo spirito e Faflo '' 
("The legitimate name of this spirit is Faflo**). It was one of the gods who 
were specially inquired for or cried at the market-place and elsewhere with 
satisfactory result. 

Fufluns was also anciently known as Vertumnus. "Allied to him,** says 
Dennis, "probably more than in name, was Voltumna, the great goddess at 
whose shrine the confederate princes of Etruria held their councils ** (Cities, &c.^ 
of Etruria^ vol. i., p. Ivii.). 

Lo Spirito della Contentezza. 

The spirit of Content is certainly a very good one, and I wish with all my heart 
that it may dwell with my reader, not only as regards this book, but be in all his 
life in everything. It is very creditable to the Italians that in such a terribly 
overtaxed country the idea of a spirit of content can be entertained, however, it 
is certain that they do invoke her when setting out on a journey to seek fortune. 
And it is uttered as follows : — 

*' When one is about to travel to seek fortune he says to his friends : — 

** * Vado in viaggio 
Per fare fortuna.* 

(" * I am going on my way 

To find a fortune if I may.') 

** Then his friends reply : — 

" ' Che lo spirito della contentezza 
Ti possa guidare sempre ! ' 

(** ' May the spirit of content 

Guide thy steps wherever bent 1 *) 

" Then the traveller may go his way joyous and at ease, sure that he will succeed, but he must 
never forget that it is due to the Spirit of Content." 

There can be no question but that this Spirit of Content is the Fortuna 
Redtix, " the goddess of happy journeys, and of prosperous returns, to whom, after 
the long absence of the Emperor AUGUSTUS, altars, temples, and sacrifices were 
ordained.** When Augustus (b.c. 19) returned, October 12th, from a long absence 


in Asia, this day was appointed for an annual celebration of the event, and an 
altar raised which was consecrated on the 15th of the following December. 

It should not escape the notice of the reader that the Italian account of this 
goddess concludes with an exhortation never to forget that one's good fortune will 
be due to the spirit which has been invoked ; that is to say, it is to an old Roman 
deity under another name that you will owe success, and that the traveller is to be 
grateful to Fortuna Redux. This is in truth a most naif unconscious survival of 

" SliU in our ashes glow the wonted Rres." 

Schedius gives in relation to this divinity the following inscription from a 
monument : — 

'• FORTUN-€ 








r may be observed as a very singu- 
lar fact, that all these Tuscan 
spirits of the forests and fields, 
the fireplace and vineyard, are of 
a perfectly fresh, unaffected sim- 
plicity, befitting the out-of-door 
naturefrom which they are derived. 
Herein they diflfer radically and 
entirely from every personifica- 
tion of the Roman Catholic 
Church, from the Trinity itself 
which is a "mystery," down to the 
Cupid -cherubim, gilt lightnings, 
hammers and nails, hearts on fire, 
Madonnas in silks with gold 
surroundings, jewelled shepherd's 
crooks, and the whole mass of 
mystical theatrical properties 
which indeed take hold of vulgar 
nature in part, but not of all. 
This natural simplicity was of 
yore heathen, and its existence in 
folk-lore is always a proof of 
certain elements, at least of 
I remarked in my Gypsy Sorcery that if the Pope and Cardinals of 1891 
had lived in 1484 and dared to express what thfcy all (with the exception perhaps 
of the Spaniards), now think of witchcraft, they would all have been tortured 
horribly, and then burned alive as heretics. So we may observe, that the whole 
modern machinery of the Church would have been utterly damned by the Fathers, 
from its immensely artificial, stagey character. Very revolting to many would 
have been its miserably affected, moping melancholy, its wretched ideal of life 


without laughter, and innocence without smiles. Apropos of which I come to the 
charming spirit Corredoio, who is purely heathen. 

There is in the Romagna a spirit, fairy or goddess (male or female), who is of a 
gay and festive nature. She is called Curedoia or Corredoio, and loves dances 
and festivals. She is a vera fanatica per la musica — wild after music — and though 
you may not suspect her presence, she is sure to attend wherever there is a frolic 
or a ball. I offer with all modesty, or even distrust, the suggestion that we may 
have in her the beau reste or possible fragment of Curitis or Qiiritis — the is and us 
of Latin arc very commonly changed to vowels in Italian, which would make 
Curitoio at once. 

" Curitis," says MOller, " was the name in Falerii, where she was zealously 
worshipped, of Juno." Magnificent festivals with every circumstance of splendour 
and gaiety were held in her honour. White cows were sacrificed, the streets laid 
with carpets (OviD, iii., 12, 13, 24), maidens wrapped, according to Greek custom, 
in white garments, bore as camtephoroey the holy utensils on their heads. The 
Etruscans surpassed any race of antiquity in their passion for processions, 
festivals, and the intensity of their frolics. The Romans seem to have taken their 
ityle from Greece, but their keen relish for splendid pleasure from the Tusku And 
if Curitis was the popular name for Juno, and if she was indeed above all others 
the goddess of tho pompa and the festivals and of joyousness, it is not impossible 
that the name survives in the modern deity of the dance, and what most nearly 
corresponds to the grand displays of the olden time. Of Corredoio I have the 
following : — 

** Corredoio e uno spiriio che va moUo neUefeste da hallo^ Conedoio is a spirit who much frequents dances 
and who in every way diverts himself. (There are conflicting accounts as to the sex of Corredoio or Corredoia). 
He is delighted to come in like a ventaia^Vi gust of wind — e cost si alza U saitane a quelle Signore — ^and 
so raise the devil — or the skirts — among the ladies, then he (or she) bursts into loud laughter, so that the 
ladies blush. Then Corredoio flies up into the orchestra, and makes all the musicians whirl round, and 
then he makes all the instruments sound of themselves, and everybody is amazed to hear music and see 
no performers — ^at which he utters another roar of laughter — e se ne va — and flies away." 

There is an incantation or invocation to Corredoio which is extremely 
curious : — 

** Corredoio, Corredoio, Corredoio 
Che siei tanto buono e ^[entile, 
Che tu non ai fat to mai male 
Quando viene del male in casa mia 
O bel Corredoio vai e la discacci 
Con una bella risata, 



Tu o bel Corredoio sei un spirito 
£ vero, ma sei anche lo spirito 
Deir allcgria ; tu vai nelle case 
A mettere la buona armonia ; 
Dunque bel Corredoio tu che sei 
Tanto bello, viene qualche volta 
In camera mia, e cosi 
Mi aiuterai a stare allegro, 
E non (ivere mai guai e cosi 
Se qualche grazia ti chieclero, 
Da te bel G)rredoio, sono certo, 
Che quclla grazia di te io Tavro. 

(** Corredoio, Corredoio, Corredoio ! 
Thou who art so pleasant and l^enign, 
Thou who never dids*t do harm to any, 
Should any sorrow come into my house 
Oh, fair Corredoio, send it flying 
With a ringing peal of merry laughter. 
Thou, fair Corredoio, art a spirit, 
Truly but thou also art a spirit 
Of all merriment, thou entcrest houses 
To promote all loving peace and union. 
And so, fair spirit, since thou art so kind, 
Come now and then I pray thee to my room, 
And help me to maintain a merry mind. 
And never know a sorrow — and if ihou 
Can'st grant me some small grace which I may ask 
Of thee, fair Corredoio, this is sure, 
That when I ask that grace thouMt grant it me.") 

The reader who understands Itah'an, if he will make allowance for the fact 
that It is only that of a poor peasant woman, translated " as she went along," from 
Romagnola, may admit that this is a very remarkable and beautiful invocation 
with a ring as of Shakespeare in it. It is utterly out of the pale of the Church 
and as heathen as can be. There is in the whole Catholic — I may say Christian — 
religion, no trace of such a glorious Robin Goodfellow as Corredoio — one who goes 
to all the balls, plays on all the instruments, whirls all the women in a wild 
waltz, then wends him laughing, ho, ho, ho ! and yet makes it his constant occu- 
pation to go into families and promote peace and harmony, or please and play 
with the children, and depart, leaving everybody jolly. 

This invocation is as earnest a prayer in the Romagna as any in the Prayer 
Book, and it begs the deity to sometimes " look in on a fellow and cheer him up 
in a friendly way " — a deity who is very beautiful, graceful, accomplished ; it is 
only in Italy that one could find a god who can " do the whole orchestra," and 


who makes it the business of his life to make people happy. Truly I cannot 
but feel grateful that such a fragment of light-hearted Paganism has survived, if 
only to show to an astonished world that Piety and Jollity can go hand-in-hand. 
The priests in Italy have been teaching the people that religion and salvation and 
everything saintly is of tears, wails, fasting, blood, torture, and death — yet all the 
while under these ashes of misery, the old heathen Roman-Etruscan spirit of 
human nature and genial tenderness still survived. In all the religions current in 
all the world there is nothing so real^ so touching, and so beautiful as this spirit of 
Corredoio. Sancte Corredoio ride pro nobis I 


" Cast up the account o( Orcus, the account thereof cast up.'* — Codfx Nazaraits. 

It would hardly be worth while to mention Orco, the Italian form of Orcus, 
who has passed into innumerable fairy tales as the Ogre, and who is known to 
every Italian child, were it not for the peculiar description of him given by my 
chief authority. " Orco," she said, " is a terrible spirit who was once a great 
wizard." For this is all the world over the earliest conception of spirits, and 
especially of those who are feared. Among savage tribes in the early stages of 
Shamanism, like the Red Indians of America, every remarkable spirit was once a 
man, always a magician. We may say that the Latin Orcus was a personification 
of hell, or of the horrible, just as Jupiter was of lightning,' but, etymology to 
the contrary, it is a fact that rude races apply such names as hell and lightning to 
men. According to Euhemerus of Messina, who derived all gods from men, in 
which he appears to have been, to a certain degree, right, so far at least as rude 
races are concerned. 


Tesana is " the Spirit of the Dawn," one may say Aurora — " lo spirito della 
alba.** She is good, and while a contadino is sleeping when the morning red is 
first seen on the hills she comes to him in dreams and says : — 

** Svegliando H 
Plan piano, 
O buon uomo ! 
Sveglia te, 
Che I'alba spunta: 

' " Pluton Latine est Diespiter : alii Orcum dicunt " (Tertullian Div, Imtit. Lib.s i., chap. 14). 



Sono un spirito 


Che vengo per aiutarti 

A.I buon coraggio, 

£d alia buona fortuna, 

Ma pero sempre 

Col tuo lavbro, 

E cosi con la buona — 

Buona volenta 

Di lavorare 

Avrai sempre 

Buona salute 

E volenta di lavorar, 
II ricco e nato ricco 

Per aiutar il povero, 

E il povero 

Per aiutar il ricco, 

Col suo lavoro 

Perche il signore 

Non sarebbe copare 

Alle fatiche : 

Lavora o buon contadino ! 

Che al momente 

Spunta il sole, 

Quando sei stanco 


In tuo soccorso, 

Ed io saro sempre 

II tuo angelo 

Consolatore ! 

** Waking, awaking. 
Softly and gently, 
Thou truly good man, 
Rise from thy sleep ! 
The day is dawning, 
I am a spirit ; 
One who brings comfort ; 
I come to thy aid, 
To give to thee courage, 
To give thee fortune. 
But it will come 
Ever from labour ; 
Thus thou shalt have 
Always good health, 
And good will to work. 
The rich is lx)rn rich 
To give aid to the poor man, 


The poor man to aid 
The rich by his labour, 
For the rich is unequal 
To such heavy labour ; 
Work then, good peasant ! 
The sun is rising. 
When thou art weary. 
Call me to aid thee, 
And I will be ever 
An angel consoling.) 

*• And so the )>easant awakes and goes to his work, contented and aile^o^^y at heart — believing that he 
has seen in a dream and conversed with a saint — santOy o una ^a/i/a— when instead of that he has been talking 
with a spirity 

This is absolutely heathen — witch-heathen — and a protest of "the old religion " 
against the new. For " a spirit instead of a saint " means here simply nothing but 
an old Romano- Etruscan or pure Etruscan deity. There are no such very beau- 
tiful incarnations of the Dawn in the Roman Catholic mythology with its wooden- 
plaster rococo saints who are all of the stage stagey, and of the shop shoppy, even 
here in Italy. This graceful Aurora — this spirito della alba — ^belongs to a purer 
and better race of beings. She comes out of true love to the peasant, asking 
neither tithes, prayers, or worship, fasting nor vigils, to please her vanity, but 
simply cheering him. This is very heathenish indeed, and quite in keeping with 
her simple old-time conservatism — that rich and poor must exist and observe 
mutual obligations one to the other. 

A learned friend who has revised this work, remarks of Tesana, that Thesan, 
according to Corssen, is an Etruscan goddess of the dawn {Die Spraclie der 
Etrusker^ i., p. 259). 

It cannot have escaped the reader that Tesana appears strangely in this 
legend as reflecting on stages of society, human laws, and relations. This is 
decidedly marked. And Gerhard {Gottluiten d. EtruskcTy p. 39, and Etrus. 
Spiegeltiy plate j6) remarks that there was an identity between Thesan and 
Themis. This if accidental is certainly extraordinary. Before I had met with 
this observation I had been deeply impressed with the remarkable character of 
the reflections as to social rights which are so prominent in the song, and which 
were far above the range of thought of the woman who sung it. 


It is remarkable that as the ancient Tusci surpassed all other nations in the 
number of their gods of thunder and storm — having, indeed, one for every season — 

URFIA . 79 

so their descendants have also great fear not only of Tinia, or Jupiter, but also 
of SpulvierOy the dreaded spirit of the wind and tempest, of whom there is an 
account which might have originated among the Algonkin Indians. 

Spulviero, also Spolviero, is the Spirit of the Wind. His name literally is 
probably derived from polvere — " dust," referring to the eddies or whirls of dust 
caused by the wind — ^the Pau-pu-ke-wiss of the Chippeways. It may conceal, 
however, a derivation from phivio — " rain." But this is the legend as recited to me 
and then written : — 

" The Spirit of the Wind, called Spulviero, is an evil spirit — spirito chattivo — who in his lifetime was a 
wizard, one of those wizards so evil that he ruined many good families, people of good hearts — bonquore— who 
did good to all — even those who had done good to him. For he was so wicked that when any one had done 
him good, he at once did them harm ; nor could anyone revenge himself on him, because he flew swift as the 

** But, evil as he was, his turn came and he died, but before dying he was in a hospital. And he com- 
mended himself to all there, patients and servants, and asked if any one would take the inheritance of his 
witchcraft ; but none replied, for they knew him well. But a servant took two brooms, and put them under 
his bed, and said : *' Leave it to these," since but for this he could not die. 

•* So he died at once, but suddenly there arose a great, terrible wind so that the hospital was nearly blown 
over, and his spirit departed in the wind." 

The legacy refers to the belief that a wizard or witch cannot die till his or her 
power is transferred to another. The broom is an old Latin charm against 
sorcery. What is very ancient and purely Shamani4 in this legend is the faith that 
all spirits or deities were once sorcerers. The train of facts is intricate, but it may 
be followed out. The Etruscans had risen to polytheism, still retaining Shamanic 
forms — but the people have remained in an earlier stage, believing that every great 
spirit was once a man. So that they have here really led back a myth to its 
beginning. So Chuchulvia is declared to be a wizard, now become an evil spirit. 
But I doubt if this really be a relapse since it is not probable that the peasants of 
Romagna have ever really changed since the beginning. The Etruscan great and 
wise men developed gods, but the people while accepting them always believed in 
Euhemerism — that they were only developed magicians. And whether this 
legend be modern, or older than the earliest Tuscan records, one thing is self- 
evident — that the spirit of it is as old as anything recorded. Those who love the 
antique do not always reflect that a pebble may be older than anything man ever 


Of this spirit I know nothing save that I heard it remarked, " E una donna che 
si presente nella casa'' (" It is a lady who manifests herself in houses.") I believe 
she is a benevolent spirit. 



" E nos Lases iuvale, 

Satur furete Mnrs linifn salj, sta beiber. 
Semimis allernei advocavit cnnclos 
E nos Mnrmo 
Triumpe. Triumpc." 

Sung ef thi Arval Brother!. 

.Y the Latin words Lar and 
Leircs we generally understand 
domestic family spirits, on which 
subject MOller {du Elmsker) 
gives much information and 
conjecture.  He writes : " That 
the Lares belong to the Tuscan 
mythology is shown by the 
name, for as Larth and Laris 
were common surnames, they 
must have originated in an 
Ehrennahnte (some common 
name of honour). But both 
among Tuscans and Romans it was a very comprehensive name. , . . There were 


Lares cothpotentes, pemtarini, viales, vicorum, compitaUs, civitatmn, rurales, 
grundtiles, and finally the dontestici and familians, the comprehension of which 


in the course of time has become obscure, owing to confusion with the others. The 
rural Lares, on the other hand, are those which in the very ancient song of the 
Arval brothers are called on as E nos Loses iuvate." 


" Loses was certainly in Rome the oldest form of the word " {Note p. 93). 

" Now it is very remarkable at first sight that under these extremely varied 
deities there are human souls'^ This is confirmed by MULLER with a mass of 
proofs. He then adds : — 

" The Lares familiarcs must necessarily be included among these, as they were generally nothing else than 
souls of ancestors become gods, many of the ancients (Apuleius, Martian, and Varro) having declared that 
genius and lar^ referring especially to domestic lares, were one and the same." 

Our author declares that the Lasa were generally female spirits occupied in 
adorning men and women, as depicted on vases, and that, "so far as Etruscan is 
concerned, it is doubtful whether Lasa and the Lares are connected." 

Conversing one day with my best authority on Tuscan folk-lore, I asked if she 
knew such a word as Lar^ Lares, or Lare ? " No, she had never heard it" " Did 
anything with a similar name haunt churchyards ? " " No ; but," reflecting a 
minute, "there arc the Lassi or Lassie!* "And what are they?" The answer 
was as follows : — 

" Lassi are spirits which are heard or seen in a house when one of the family 
dies. They are the ghosts of tlie ancestors of the family, who come at such a time." 

This was conclusive, and I have no doubt that these Lassi or Lasie are the 

Lasa referred to in the song of the Arval brothers. Of course this is not 

absolutely proved, but when we consider that Tinia, Fufluns, Feronia, and Mania 

all exist with most of their ancient characteristics, it must be admitted that we 

have here an extremely strong probability. The Lasa were in the very oldest 

Latin in existence ghosts of ancestors, or domestic familiar spirits, and so are the 

Lassi, And MuLLER gives no proof whatever that the Lasa, or " winged spirits 

on the vases, with a frontal band or cap and earrings, naked or in a short chiton 

with armlets, half boots or shoes," and holding a great variety of objects in their 

hands, were not Lxires deified. It seems to me to be most natural that the spirits 

of the ancestors, revived in youth and beauty, should be the first to wait on and 

aid the descendant risen to paradise. MOller himself says elsewhere, " In the 

Lar the Genius always comes to light." What are these Lasa if not the geniuses 

of the departed ? Unfortunately, MULLER, though gifted with perfectly German 

industry, and not deficient in sagacity, had not a gleam of intelligence as regarded 

the folk-lore of a race, or the immense value of minor matters. To write in an 

admirable and clear style, en grand critique, over the great events or subjects of 

a race is certainly very fine, but it is to be hoped that a time is coming when we 

shall have seen the last of these Mr. Dombeys of History, with their prize works 


crowned by Academies, in which there is not a gleam of intuition, nor a nuance of 
colour, and as little real knowledge of life. 

There is a story of the Lasi or Lasii, also an invocation to them. I would 
say that, as regards the songs or metrical passages in all such accounts, I have not 
been able, with all care, to give them in the original or best form. In most cases 
my informant translated them from the original Romagnola dialect into Italian, 
and they were often manifestly imperfect or partly supplied. The tale is as 
follows : — 

** There was once a great lord who was very rich, and he had a son who was a great prodigal— <:A^ 
sciupcva tutto il dattaro. His father said to him, * My son, I cannot live long, therefore I beg you to always 
behave well. Do not go on gambling, as you are wont to do, and waste all your patrimony. While I live I 
can take care of you, but I fear for you after my death. ' After a little time the father died. And in a few 
days the son brought all to an end. Nothing remained but the palace, which he sold. But those who 
occupied it could not dwell there in peace, because at midnight there was heard a great clanking of chains 
and all the bells ringing. And they saw black Bgurcs like smoke passing about, and flames of Are. And they 
heard a voice saying : — 

' * • Sono il Lasio, 
In compagnia 
Di tanti Lasiiy 
£ non avrete mai 
Bene, Bno che 
Non prenderete 
Questo palazzo 
A mio figlio. ' * 

(** 'I am the Lasio, 

And there are with me 

Many more Lasiu 

No good shall come to you 

Till you restore 

This place to my son ! ') 

*' So they gave back the palace to the heir. But he too was greatly terrified with the apparitions, and 
there came to him a voice which said: — 

*' * Sono il Lasio 
Di tutti Lasii, 
Son' tuo padre, 
Che vengo adesso 
In tuo soccorso 
Turche tu m'ubbedisca, 
Smetti il giuoco, 
Altrimenti non avro 
Mai pace — e tu 

' In all cases where the text is in metre the original was chanted or intoned. 


Ti troverai ancora 
In miseria estrema ; 
Ma se tu m'ubbedisca, 

10 vivro in pace, 
E sarai tanto ricco 
Da non Bnire 

11 tuo patrimonio ; 
Anche divertendo te 

£ faccendo molto bene, 

Ma promett^ mi 

Di non piu giuocare.* 

(" 'I am the Lasio 
Of all the Lasii. 
I am thy father 
Come to thy succour ; 
If thou'It obey me, 
Cease gaming for ever. 
Or thou shalt never 
Know peace . . . and thou 
Wilt again find thyself 
Sunk deep in misery ; 
But if thou obey'st me, 
I shall have peace again, 
And thou shalt be wealthy 
Far beyond measure, 
Living in pleasure ; 
Only. this promise me. 
Never to play again.') 

" Then the son answered : — 

" Then the father replied : — 

** * Padre perdonutemi ! 
Non giuochero piu.' 

(** * Father, forgive me ; 
I will ne'er play again.') 

** * Rompi quantc Irave • 
Che son' nel palazzo 
E piene di danaro, 
Le trovarei, 
Cosi starei benme, 
Ed io staro in pace, 
Nelle require 
E mettermi. Amen ! ' " 

(** * Break down the beams 
Which are in the palace ; 
They are full of money. 
As you will find. 




Then I shall be quiet 
In the rest of the dead. 
There I go. Amen I ' ") 

It was explained to me that by the beams meant breaking away the ceiling. 
Two things strike me in this strange semi-poem. One is that the story is very 
much like that of the Heir of Lynne in Percy's Relics. Secondly, that it is 
altogether more like an Icelandic narrative than anything Italian. It is grim, 
strong, and very simple — one may say almost archaic. 

There is also an invocation of witchcraft to these spirits of ancestors which 
is not less curious : — 

" Lasii, Lasii, Lasii ! 
Che tante buoni siete ! 
D^una grazia io ne ho 
Gran bisogno ; 
E da vuoi spirit! 
Spiriti e Lasi, 
In mezzo a uno cantina. 
Mi vengo inginnochiare 
A vuoi altri 

Mi vengo a raccomandare 
Che questa grazia. 
Mi vorrete fare ! 
Lasii, Lasii, Lasii ! 
A vuoi vi presento, 
Con tre candele, 
Candele accese, 
Tre carte, Tasso di picclie, 
Quello di flori, 
E quello di quadri, 
Le buttero per I'aria, 
Che vuoi certo mi vedete ; 
Per cio le but to 
In vostra presenza 
Nell punto della mezza notte, 
Queste carle 
Per I'aria buttero, 
Se la grazia mi farete, 
L'asso di fiori scoperto, 
Trovare mi farete, 
Se scoperto l'asso di pique, 
Mi fate trovare, 
£ segno che la grazia 
Non me volete fare; 
Se mi farete trovare 
Quello di quadri 
Segno e che 
La grazia mi fate." 


(" Lasii, Lasii, Lasii ! 
Ye who are gracious ! 
There is a favour 
Which I need greatly, 
And of ye spirits. 
Spirits and Lasii, 
Here in a cellar 
Now I am kneeling, 
And I commend myself 
Unto your graces, 
That ye will grant me 
This special favour ! 

Lasii, Lasii, Lasii I 
Here I present myself, 
Bearing three candles, 
Three candles lighted. 
Three cards — the ace of spades, 
And that of clubs, 
And that of diamonds. 
I fling them in the air 
That you may see them 
Plainly before you. 

Here just at midnight 

In air I throw them ; 

If you grant me a favour. 

Cause me to find 

The ace of clubs plainly. 

If 'tis the ace of spades 

'Tis a sign that you will not 

Grant me the fEivour ; 

But if you make me find 

The ace of diamonds, 

Then *tis a sign 

That my wish will be granted.*') 

" But," added the fortune-teller, in a prosaic voice, " it will not be until after a 
long time.'* 

Gaines of chance and lotteries are such a serious element in Italian life that 
no one need be astonished at an invocation like this being addressed to the Lares. 
Perhaps the Romans did the same for luck at a/ea^ or dice. I would that I had by 
me my copy of Paschasius Justus' Be A lea. I might find it in that ! 

It may be remarked that in this account the Lasii appear as benevolent spirits, 
devoted to a family. Since recording this Tuscan story of the Lasio who gave 
the treasure, I have met with the following in the RomiscJie MytJwlogie of L. 
Preller :— 



** The lar familiaris is the ScktUzgeisi — guardian spirit of the family. Next to the Lar familiarise who 
is simply called the lar or lar pater (the father lasio), there are many lares familiares* ... It happens, 
perhaps, that the grandfather confided a treasure to him which he secretly hid . . . and he gives this to the 
only daughter of the house, a good girl who has always given him daily offerings such as incense or wine 
or garlands.'* 

This is briefly the same story as that which I have related. The Lar or 
Lasio has a treasure in reserve which he gives to the heir. It was comfortable to 
think that there was in the house an attached family spirit who might do one a 
good turn, and therefore the belief lasted long among all rural people. 

The young man Peppino, who went about much, at home and in the market- 
places, to collect evidence of knowledge of the spirits by me recorded, found that 
the Lasii were known, but gives the name as Ilasii. This is evidently only an 
addition of the plural article i (the) to Lasii, 

Some time after I had written the foregoing relative to the Lasii, I heard 
the following, which I made the narrator repeat, and took down accurately : — 

" When I was about twelve years of age something happened to me which I thought at the time was 
funny or queer (mi trovai h un caso buffo — cosi io lo chiamai), but I have since regarded it in a very different 
light. Once I went with some relations into the country. One day I was in a dark forest, and wandered 
about picking leaves and wood-flowers, and at last found myself in a very lonely place by a stream. I had 
a habit of talking aloud to myself, and I said, * Oh, I would like to bathe there ' — the weather was very 
hot — when all at once there stood before me an old woman, who said : * Dear child, if thou wouldst like 
to bathe, undress without fear, I will protect thee.* There was something about her which pleased me 
greatly, a care and kindness and sweetness which I cannot describe. And when I had bathed and dressed 
myself she said : ' Bimba, thou hast had many troubles, and many more are before thee, but be not afraid 
(non ti sgomentare\ for in thy old age thou wilt have good fortune,* and so she disappeared, and I never 
saw her again — ^and I still await the good fortune which has not as yet come to me. 

" I believe this was indeed a la^ia,, a spirit of some ancestor long dead, who wishes me well." 

What was best in this story I cannot relate, and that was the earnestness 
with which it was told, and the manner in which the narrator repeated the 
details, and the deep faith with which she expressed the conviction that this 
was really a lasia. Truly they are a strange race, these Etruscan mountaineers 
— their young folk see visions and their old men dream dreams. 

Pictures of Lases abound on Etruscan vases. They arc represented as 
beautiful spirits, young, and more frequently feminine than male. They are, 
I believe almost always, winged, and generally bear a bottle or large phial. The 
old Etruscan religion, which was distinctly Euhemeristic, regarded the becoming 
a Lar as the first step to becoming a god. On which subject the following is 
of interest : — 

" Les Lares, ou Lases, qui jouent un role si important dans les anciennes religions de Tltalie, qui 
peuplent le monde romain, qu*on trouve partont, au foyer de la famille, dans la ville, k la campagne, sur 



les routes —Lares familiares, urbani, rurales, viales, <bc. ; les Lares ont sans acun doute fait partie de la 
cosmogonie Etrusque. Leur nom seul semble le prouver, Larth ou Laris est un nom et un litre d*honneur 
que Ton rencontre frequemnient sur les inscriptions fun^raires de I'Etrurie. On lisait, d'aillcurs, dans les 
Livres Acherontiens qui faisaient partie de la doctrine de Tages, que les ^es humaines pouvaient, en 
vertu de certaines expiations, participer a I'essencc des dieux, et sous le nom de dii animalesy ou ames 
divines, prendre place parmi les Penates et les Lares" (Servius ad Aen,^ iii., i68 ; cf. Fabretti, Gloss. Ital. 
s. V.)' " Ainsi s'accomplissaient dans les croyances de TEtrurie les mysterieuses destinees de Tame humaine. 
Le Genius jovialis^ apr^s Tavoir recueille comme une Emanation de la divinite, lui donnait entree dans la 
vie ; puis quand la mort venait s^parer de la matiere ce souffle divin, I'ime, eprouvee par les sacrifices* ou 
Texpiation, pouvait retoumer parmi les dieux, et comme penate elle remontait au rang ou le Genius jcvialist 
ainsi que nous Tavons vu, etait place lui-meme " (VEirurie et Les Etrusques, par A, NoSl des Vergers^ 
Paris, 1862, vol. i., pp. 301, 302). 

It will be seen by this extract that the still existing very singular belief that 
certain sorcerers* souls are sometimes reborn as mightier sorcerers than before, 
and from this proceed to be spirits, is exactly paralleled by the old Etruscan 
doctrine taught by Tages. 


MULLER (die Etrusker, p. 81) says that CORSSEN (i., p. 346-7) "has erro- 
neously attributed LoSNA, a goddess of the moon, to Etruria. She only 
occurs on a single mirror from Praeneste (GERHARD, i., clxxi.), and is Latin 
{Lucna^ Lund)!^ 

" It is not for us to settle the question." But on asking my authority if 
she knew of such a being as Losna^ I received the following reply, which I 
wrote down as uttered : — 

** LosNA is a spirit of the sun and moon — of botk^ not of the moon alone. When a brother debauches 
his sister it is always her doing. She loves to deride people gaily. When she has made her mischief she 
will appear at the table where a coiUadifio is with his family, and laugh and say : ' Thou art a stupid fellow, 
thou knowest not that thy daughter is incinta (with child) by her brother, for thou didst once say, ** E un 
grande pictcere h fare Pamore col propria fratello,*^^ And when she has done this mischief she goes away 
singing, because she has caused discord in the family." 

This startling myth has that in it which seems to prove great antiquity. 
The gypsies in the East of Europe have a legend that they are descended from 
the Sun and Moon ; the Sun having debauched his Moon sister was condemned to 
wander for ever, in consequence of which they also can never rest. The natives 
of Borneo and the old Irish believed that the Man in the Moon is imprisoned 
there for the same deed. Finally, the Esquimaux have a similar story. These 
coincidences are fortuitous, but in any case they are remarkable. As for 
its character, I have already remarked that if these tales are truly handed down 
from the olden time they ought to be replete with sensuality — as they are. In 




LOSNA. 91 

the spirit of collection, first established by Grimm, nothing was preserved, much 
less sought for, which was not fit, I will not say for young ladies, but even for 
the nursery. In fact, fairy talcs suggest nothing as yet, even to well-informed 
people, but innocent, sweet, pretty, and amusing Mdhrchen. But the old myths 
out of which these grew were nothing of the kind. However, it has come to 
pass that most collectors, influenced by fear of the Major-General Reader, 
quietly pass over this element which was, if not the great guiding influence in 
myths of what we may call the tertiary formation (or polytheism as it was 
passing into pantheism), was at least almost the chief. And if we wish to 
investigate the witchcraft of the first period, or this of the time when men had 
begun to regard Fertility and Reproduction, and such reviving influences as 
Light and Wine and gaiety as causes of life, we must turn over a vast amount 
of what is fearfully " shocking " to all who do not seek " abditis rerum causis " — 
into the hidden causes of things. For it was out of what could most terrify 
and revolt man that all primitive sorcery and much secondary Shamanism 
were formed, and if we would know Man's early history we must not, or 
cannot, avoid such study. Religious magic, at present, has dropped this 
portion of its first state, only retaining, or returning to, the early fear of 
infernal agency, or devils and hell, as the chief motive power in duty and 
incentive to worship. To fully understand all that now exists, and have a clear 
idea of what we really believe — which no living believer has — we must under- 
stand man in the past. Till we do we shall not comprehend the present nor 
clear the way for the future. 

^^ Losna, that is Lotma^^ says Preller, "appears on an Etruscan mirror 
with the half-moon associated with Pollux, on another monument as Lala, 
ue.y Lara, Ji^moiva, with the sun-god Aplu." It is just possible that some 
tradition of such association with the sun may have given rise to the Tuscan 
story which is probably a mere fragment. In any case it is remarkable that in 
it there is an allusion to the sun and moon as an incestuous brother and sister. 

I call the attention of the reader specially to the picture representing 
LosNA. It is from a mirror which has for a century been frequently engraved 
in works on Etruscan art. This is now in my possession, and lies on my paper 
as I write. According to Corssen {Spraclie der Etnisker^ vol. i., p. 346), who refers 
to Gerhard's Etruscan Mirrors, iii., 165, Ritschl, Cavendoni, Schoene, BenndorfT, 
Helbig, &c., as discussing it, it is from Praeneste, also that Lusna was the 
original name, and that Losna is a dialectical form peculiar to Praeneste. 

This mirror had greatly interested me. I had purchased in London one 
book simply because it contained an engraving of it, and had made with great 





(From the original Etruscan bronze mirror, now in possession of the Author.) 

LOSNA. 93 

care three or four drawings of it from different works, with all of which I was 
dissatisfied, and when my pubh'sher, Mr. Fisher Unwin, went over my illus- 
trations with me here in Florence, March 5, 1892, I threw "Losna" out— very 
unwillingly. I state simply the truth when I say that of all the mirrors ever 
made, it was this one in particular which I most desired to see, and I remember 
that it was much on my mind. On the afternoon of the following day I went 
by chance, or led by my Socratic demon, into a shop for odds and ends, or 
" curiosities," and there in a glass case, and very much out of place, found an 
ancient Etruscan mirror — the very one which had been engraved, and which I 
so longed to see. I need not say that I purchased it at once. I should 
mention that the engraving here given is absolutely correct, having been 
made on a tracing or rubbing from the mirror itself, which is in a state of 
perfect preservation. 

These mirrors were believed among the Etruscans to possess magic power. 
It is the same with the Chinese of the present day who make similar ones, the 
reason being this : The Chinese mirror, like the ancient, is polished on one side 
and has a picture, or more commonly an inscription, on the other. If we let the 
sun shine on the mirror and reflect it on a smooth white surface, the picture on the 
other side is distinctly visible in the reflection. I have heard explanations of this 
which did not satisfy me. About the year 1856 a daguerrotypist in the United 
States havmg cut two lines in a cross on the face of a copper plate found that 
though the cross was not perceptible on the back, yet that when reflected in sun- 
light it could be distinctly seen in the reflection. Hence I inferred that the 
pressure on the face hardened the metal throughout, which perfectly explains the 
phenomenon. I suppose that the Etruscan mirrors when new had the same 
quality. Of which invention there is no mention, not even by J. Baptista Porta 
in his many recipes for making marvellous " mirrors." The same may be made of 
glass by annealing the picture. That is, we take a pattern in hard glass, cast a 
bed of soft glass about it, and when cold grind off and polish the surface, which 
will seem uniform. But the reflection against the sun will show the light from the 
soft glass as duller than that from the hard. 

All mirrors are, according to ancient and modern superstition, repulsive to 
witches, or evil spirits, and good against the evil eye and its like. Fascinators — 
like basilisks — had their own terrible glance turned against them if they saw 
themselves reflected, " Si on luy presente un miroir, par endardement reciproque, 
ces rayons retoument sur Tautheur d'iceux." As a lunar-solar goddess, I believe 
that Losna was peculiarly associated with the mirror as a magic object. Philo- 
stratus declares that if a mirror be held before a sleeping man during a hail or 
thunder-storm, the storm will cease. 



Laronda in Tuscany is a very kind, benevolent spirit, who, strangely enough, is 
peculiar to, or who dwells in, caserme^ or soldiers* barracks — " Sarcbbe un spirito 
delle caserme dei militari. E molta buona." 

She seems to be identified with the old Etruscan Larunda, or Lara, of whom 
Lactantius remarks : "Who can keep from laughter when he hears the silent goddess 
mentioned?^ This is she whom they call Lara, or Larunda" (i., 20, 35). Ovid 
speaks of her as the Dea muta, or silent goddess. But from a passage in 
Preller's Mythology, I infer that she was specially known as goody since in 
reference to a prayer to her he remarks : " Here we plainly understand ein guter 
Geist — ein seliger " — a good or happy spirit. 

But what is certainly very remarkable is that Larunda was especially -the 
mother of the Lares compitales. " Compitum is a point where several roads meet 
At such a place the Romans erected large buildings with passages and rooms," 
literally corresponding to modern barracks. ** In them all the people round about 
met to discuss business and hold festivals." Therefore the Lares cov^italium 
were the guardian spirits of such large public buildings, where great bodies of men 
lived, or met. And Larunda was literally then, as Larunda is now, the chief 
spirit of what corresponds most accurately to the modern caserme which is now the 
only building in Italy which is quite like the ancient compitum. All of which 
Preller illustrates with much learning, and of all this I knew nothing when I 
first ascertained what I have written of the modern Tuscan spirit. And when we 
read that these ancient buildings were the resort of boxers, actors, gladiators, and 
of political clubs, we may well infer that soldiers also occupied them. 

In the course of time stories grow up or are attached to names with which 
they have very little real connection. Such a legend relating to Laronda is the 
following : — 

" Laronda is ihtfolletto of the casernes. Once she was a donna named Rosa who, during her life, was 
devoted to soldiers. After a while the officers noticed it and forbade her frequenting the barracks, at which 
she was so much grieved that she fell ill, and was long confined to her bed. Then the soldiers themselves 
missed her sadly, and so arrange<l it that she could come secretly among them ; so for a time all went well. 

" Among these soldiers was one who had a sweetheart who was a zinffara, or gypsy, as well as witch. 
Now the witch discovered that Rosa visited the caserme, and that all the soldiers were devoted to her, and that 
less for her beauty than for her gaiety and goodness ; and with this the gypsy was ill-pleased and said to Rosa : — 

' *' Quis, quum audiat deam Mutam tcnere risum queat ? Hanc esse dicunt, ex qua sint nati Lares, et 
ipsam Laram nominant, vcl Larundam." Which is what an ancient heathen might have said at seeing a 
Spanish Virgin Mary in an old French bonnet, or even some of her similitudes here, in Italy, which are ten 
times sillier and more laughter- moving than the rudest works of Roman times. 



<< c 

Rosa, oh, Rosa, oh, fair Rosa ! it is true that I am not so beautiful as thou art, for I am a gypsy. And 
thou art esteeme<l by all the soldiers and my own lover loves thee, so I beg thee not to frequent the barracks 
any more ! 

***Per cio ti voglio pregare 

Nelle caserme di non piu andare ! * 

" Then Rosa replied frankly but resolutely, that she would yield nothing whatever to please her foolish 
jealousy, at which the other, in a rage, said: * May my curse fall like lead upon thy head, nor wilt thou live 
long — but one year do I give thee. 

** * E fin anno che tu camperai, 
Tu non avrai che pene e guai. 

*' * A year thou'lt live in pain and grief. 
Ere death will come to bring relief. 

** * And since thou lovest soldiers so well, thou shalt have no rest after death, but shalt become il folletto 
(UUa ronda (the spirit of the patrol, or night-guard), and La Ron da thou shalt be.* 

"As she threatened so it all came to pass, and the soldiers grieved for her death. But while they were 
sorrowing they were suddenly amazed to see at a window the apparition of a lady of great beauty clad in 
white, who said : — 

" lo sono la bella Rosa, I am the beautiful Rosa — but now I am dead I have become the Folletto della 
Ronda of the soldiers, and when night flees from the world of the eternals I will come to seek you, and when 
you hear me call, then open the windows to La Ronda, " 

There will be many to whom this adaptation of a modern pun to a word will 
quite suffice to destroy all connection with the classic Larunda. In this way we 
might utterly invalidate all and any tradition whatever, just as VOLTAIRE 
declared that the petrified shells found on mountain-tops had probably been 
scallop shells dropped by pilgrims from the Holy Land. But Laronda was from 
very ancient times the guardian spirit of the public building, while this story turns 
upon a mere resemblance of the word to a technical term with a very different 
meaning. I think it most probable that some ingenious but ignorant person, 
hearing of Laronda, adapted it to the word for patrol or " round." 

I have since heard it asserted that Laronda may be, or is, the spirit of any 
large building frequented by many people, such as a hotel. This seems to be the 
old and generally entertained idea, while I have no guarantee whatever that the 
story is not a mere modern fabrication founded on a jest. 

If Larunda be modern because there is a modern story fitted to the name, 
then of course any myth may be punned or conjectured out of existence. 


On asking if such a word as Lemures was known, I was told that Lemuri sono 
i spiriti dci canipo-satUi — " Lemuri are the spirits of the churchyards." This 


clearly enough identifies them with the Latin Lemures, which were the same 
as the LarvjE, or the unhappy and terrifying ghosts of those who have died evil 
deaths, or under a ban, to which there are innumerable allusions in all Latin 


Tago is a spirit whose name appears to be known only to a few old people. 

He is described as a spirito bambino, or appearing as a little boy. Of him Favi 

— Gustavo declared : " Tago is a spirit who is invoked, when we sec 

children suffering, with an invocation which causes them to recover 

their health. But this prayer I do not recall so that I could 

write it." 

Another authority informed me that there is a spirito bam- 
bino, or spirit like a boy, who is, however, a wizard. His name 
is Terie^h (harsh and guttural and uncertain). He comes up out 
of the ground, and predicts the future or tells fortunes. As these 
are the only spirits in such form I suppose them to be the 
same being. 

The name Tago will naturally suggest to the scholar that of 
Tages, " the wise Etruscan child plowed from the earth," whose 
history is given in detail by Preller and many more, but by no 
one so succinctly or elegantly as by Petrarch in his Italian- 
Latin. This child, one day, as a peasant was ploughing — Hetrusco 
quodam arante tn agro Tarquinieiisi — leapt from the furrow, an infant in form but 
with an old man's head and wisdom — puertli effigie sapieniia senili — and proceeded 
forthwith to astonish everybody by his prophesies and instructions in what was then 
religious wisdom, but what we should now call magic And it was indeed from 
his books and teachings that all Roman divination and sacred observances were 
drawn. And as Etruscan lore began with him, it would be indeed deeply 
interesting if we could prove that he still lives in his Etrurian home as Tago or 
Terieg'h. Truly such survivals as these may not be of the fittest for the spirit of 
the age, but it is befitting that they be recorded, if only to show the extraordinary 
manner in which they are frozen up in popular tradition to be now and then 

 •' Verum iUi manee, quoniam corporibus illo tempore ttibuuntur quo lit piima conceptio, etiam post 
vitam iisdeiD coiporibus delectontur, atque cum iis manenles appellantur Lemures" (Martian, Cap tU 
Mtss.,\v.,t), p. 40; ap. Mui.ler). "Lemures larva: nocturna: cl leirilicalionLi imaginum lA bcsliarum " 
(AuGUsTiN, c. Dei. ix. 1 1 ; ap. Preller). " Lemures umbras vagantes hominum ante diem mortis mortuorum 
et ides metuendua " (Poki'H. ; ap. Prkller). 

(Kiom the Elruscan Museum of Gori.) 


thawed out to some seeker. But whether Tago or Terieg'h really be Tages I leave 
for others to settle. Daviis sum non CEdipus. For, as Johannes Practorius says in 
his Anthropodemus PlutoniaiSy that "all this story of Tages may be a mere fable 
wherewith the devil, after his fashion, hath deluded and betrayed man with a 
wonder, that he might use the many superstitions which had their beginning in 
Tages, his fortune-telling and sorcery." 


*' Hrec loca capripedes, Satyros, nymphasque teneiiE, 
Finilimi iingunt et Faunos esse loquntur, 
Quorum noctivago strepitu." 

Lucretius, iv., 584. 

To a person of humanity and tender feelings there is something very touching 
or indescribably pitiful in the manner in which the people in Europe clung to their 
old gods and resisted Christianity. For it is not true at all, as is generally mis- 
represented, that they gladly took to the mystical, abstract, Hebrew-Persian 
Roman Catholic religion of professed love, and priestly and feudal oppression 
which they did not understand. Nor did they find any attractions in its making 
a duty of obedience to cruel feudal tyrants, of asceticism, fasting, and dread of the 
devil. It was all forced on them, and they long resisted it Despite cruel perse- 
cution (as Horst and Michelet observe), the peasants persisted in their devotion to 
the poor old forbidden gods, and every few years, so late as the fifteenth century, 
councils thundered at, colleges condemned, and priests burned people for heathen 
sacrifices. And they were not a few who thus clung to the ancient faith. They 
were all over Europe, and, as I have shown, there are some still left in the Toscana 

This old religion of nature was congenial to the people because they under- 
stood and deeply felt it. They had, as I hope the reader has, an impression that 
there is a spirit in the pathless woods, deep song in silent shade, life in the long- 
forgotten land of early days — homes of visions in the old grey rocks with possible 
portals through which elves or their own elfin thoughts may pass. They know the 
Voice of the Waterfall, and what the stone said when it was thrown at twilight into 
the well or silent pool " under the stars," and why the laurel crackled when it burned, 
and what words it said — these were all spirits, and they had learned the spirit-lan- 
guage from their fathers. There was an indescribably delightful, companionable 
sense in believing that there was a jolly, mischievous, y«w//iar goblin who lived in 
the fire, or haunted the fireplace, who teased the girls and bothered the boys, and was 
" j(7 sociable." All of these were like themselves, and within their natural compre- 

FAN 10. 99 

hension, and they would believe in them because, as they must adopt some kind of 
supernatural ism, they took that which was most natural, sensible, and congenial to 
them. A hazard, bleeding, pallid spectre, everlasting goody-goodiness of 


Madonnas, and the agony ol tortured saints with no end of fasting and prayer, 
are not congenial to us, nor did healthy humanity ever accept them in loving 
earnest, as it did the old heathen gods. The whole history of the Middle Ages — or 


you may continue it later an you will— is one of mankind making believe that 
they believed in misery. And the proof of it, reader, is very plain, and it is 
simply this — that wherever and whenever Christianity has any " superstitions " or 
elements quite in common with the old heathenism, there people are most truly 
religious. " Man is properly the only object which interests man ; " he feels and 
lives in Humanity and Nature, and never truly cares for what is remote from or is 
forced into these. 

You and I, reader, feel the true spirit of old heathen religion when we walk in 
the forest and skirt the line of " thus far — and then no more — the language of the 
sounding sea to the sands upon the shore," or are sitting by the fire in silent night. 
We do not make it into goblins, but our own thoughts and memories become to 
us quite the same as spirits, for we feel or see how we can give them life or 
expressed thought in act or words. Make this literal — not a mere figure of 
speech — and then, friend, you will be as happy as a heathen suckled in a creed 
outworn — yea, quite as well off — which was all that Wordsworth wished for, and 
was not unlike the desire of Francois Villon, who yearned for the ladies of the 
olden time. 

It is a great pity, but pity 'tis 'tis true, that owing chiefly to the affected- 
sentimental, or false influences of mediaeval religion and its resultant " art," we do 
not really know what we ought to admire or " feel beautiful " over, or enthuse 
about, till somebody has told us how. Then we go and " do it** We do it by 
going to see all the places prescribed by the hotel directions, "there and back, 
twenty-five francs for a party of four," and duly admiring them, and pass by without 
note a hundred spots even more beautiful. And verily such a doing thereof as I 
behold here among tourists in Italy to see what it is "the thing*' to sec (/>., 
everything, according to Ruskin, Baedeker, and Co.), might draw tears from a 
millstone. A child or a peasant is better off — it or he takes Nature as it comes — 
naturally. The tourist who goes by precept may think that he can feci nature as a 
child, but he does not. You cannot serve God and Mammon together. 

This old spirit of unaffected feeling of nature without " culture " is deeply 
impressed in all this Tuscan-Etruscan folk-lore, and I would that my heart could 
utter the thoughts which it often inspires. It was all summed up for the ancients 
in the single word Faunus, Faunus and the Fauni were the incarnation of forests, 
streams and fields, fairy-life and flowers. Therefore I was glad to find that this 
deity, who is only another form of Pan, still lives in the Romagnola, as is set forth 
in the following passages. 

";Fanio is a wizard who comes in the form of a spirit." This appears to be 
the Euhemcristic conception of all the spirits in this very primitive Tuscan 

fANIO. ioi 

mythology. First a wizard, or a man of power on earth, who is remembered after 
death, and then is supposed to still haunt the scenes of his former life. What 
Finio does was narrated as follows : — 

" Finio frightens peasants in the woods. He appears as a man leaping up with his hands wide open, 
thrown forward, or looks like a devil, scattering Bre, and then laughs at the fear which he has caused. And 
when there is a wedding he often anticipates the bridegroom in his kisses, and when the husband comes and 
would embrace his wife he feels invisible blows and cuffs, which put him in a rage, when Fanio bursts out 
laughing, and says : — 

** * Vuoi sapere chi sono? 
Sono lo spirito FdniOy 
Che cio che m*e piacuto in vila, 
Mi piace al altro niondo ; 
Mi dovresti ringraziare, 
Che ti ho risparmiato tanta fatica ! ' 

(•' * Who I am ? — if you would know, 
I'm the spirit Fanio ! 
What in life once gave me bliss. 
Pleases me as much in this ; 
And I think that thanks are due 
Unto me for helping you ! ' ) 

'* Then if the husband is vexed at this, and if his wife is angry and curses the goblin, he only torments 
her the more and returns as a nightmare to disturb her sleep." 

It is not difficult to recognise in this Fdnio the Faunus of the Latins. All of 
the characteristics attributed to him in the account agree accurately with what 
Preller relates : — 

" In some phases of popular belief Faunus appears as nearly allied to Silvanus, as a spirit of the forest, 
who lurks in deep shadows, in hidden caverns, or by rustling waterfalls, where he predicts fortunes or catches 
birds, and chases the nymphs. . . . The fauns as a class were much given to teasing and tormenting mortals 
in their sleep, so that they sometimes appear altogether as annoying imps — like the nightmare to us — against 
which attacks people used all kinds of roots and quackeries, especially the root of the forest-peony ( Wald- 
pdcnie)i which had to be dug \yy men by night, else the great wood-pecker would peck out their eyes. But, 
above all, the women had to be on their guard against the fauns and Silvani, for these lecherous wood-goblins 
readily slipped into their beds, whence the popular name of Incubus for them.** *' From their lechery they 
were called Faunificarii. ' Vel Incubones, vel Satyros, vel sylvestres quosdam homines quos nonulli Faunas 
picarios vocant * ** {Hieran, in Isai, v. 13, 21). 

These fauns and silvani of Tuscan belief are very much allied to the mis- 
chievous household goblins. They all make naughty love to women, and act as 
incubi, or nightmares, and cause wild dreams. Quite the same spirits were known 
of old in Assyria, Lenormant says {Magie Chaldaienne) : — 


" To the Incubus and Succubus was joined Ihe Kighlmnre in Ihe Accadian Kiel-tiiiJa-iarra, in Ihe 
Assyrian, Ardal, . . . Ii is probable, judging from its name, llial 11 was one of those Taniiliar spirits which 

(On a patera. (Etruscan) Museum, Floience.) 

make the slabies and the houses the scene of their malicious tricks ; s^n\& whose existence has been 
admitted by so many people, and which are still believed in by the peasants in many parts of Europe." 


It may be remarked that nearly all the spirits which occur in this peasant 
mythology are of the nature of the fauns. Also that while the Romagnola 
contadino has retained old Etruscan names of gods, and those of the minor 
sylvan and rural deities, such as Sylvanio, Fano, and Pal6, he has not the great 
Latin gods. Bacchus is commonly enough sworn by, but I could gather no 
information regarding him, save that he was " the god of wine, and there- 
fore must be the same as Faflon." The best treatises which I have met on the 
Fauns, Satyrs, Silvani, Incubi, &c., form chapters in that strange work by C 
Bauhinus, 1667, entitled De Hermaphroditism &c. 

The peony was, on account of its red colour, regarded as great protection 
against the fauns as nightmares. Pr^etorius {Anthropodemus Plutonicus ; Von 
Alpmdnnrigeny 1666) mentions that people, to keep away the Incubus, wear 
round their necks, or hanging from them, "flints, corals, or peony roots." 

It is worth observing that the ceppo sacro^ a holy log of wood which is burned 
on Christmas Eve — the yule-log of the North — is taken with due observance and 
incantation to the fauns or other spirits of the forest For, despite his immoral 
and mischievous conduct, Fdnio is a general favourite, as was Faunus of old, for 
many reasons not too far to find, but not worth specifying. 

In a work on Faunus, Del Dio Faiino^ e de suoi segnaci^ di Odoard Gerhard 
(Eduard Gerhard, Naples, 1825), the author declares that whatever deity he may 
have been, mixed and mingled as he was with others, is not difficult to determine. 
The truth is that all these minor spirits of forests and fields, firesides and bed- 
rooms, were naturally familiar and mischievous creatures, as much alike as romping 
schoolboys, therefore all nightmares ; teasers of girls, therefore seducers, and 
consequently wanton and gay. They were in reality more distinguished by 
names than by natures. 


This word refers to an herb or small plant which, as in the case of rue, 
rosaiacciOf and others, is by mysterious association also a fairy. Querciuola is 
properly, in Italian, a small oak-tree, but, as in many other instances, it has 
been transferred from one plant to another in Romagnolo. What I learned 
of it (given to me with specimens of the plant), is as follows : — 

" When one has quarrelled with a lover, one should go and sit beside the plant called Querciola, 
wherever it is growing, because the fairy of that name is a great friend to lovers. So when one is distant, or 
separated, be it as to the heart or place, the other sits by the herb and sings : — 


" • Fata Qucrciola ! 

Sei tanto bella quanto buona 
A ti mi vengo raccomandare, 
Che il mio bene 
A mi tu faccia ritornare. 

Fata Querciola ! 
Ai fatto tanto bene 
A tante persone 
Anch' to voglio sperare 
Che di me non ti di me 
Vorrai dimenticare. 

Fata Querciola ! 

Sei tanto bella e altra tanto buona 

Ti chiedo una grazia sola 

E spero non mc la vorra negare, 

E lo mio amore 

Mi farai ritornare. 

Fata Querciola ! 

Sofrirei tante pene ; 

Sc da me non tornasse il mio bene, 

Ma da me le conviene si ritornare, 

Perchc la fata me Tha promesso, 

Di farlo ritornare sotto al mio tetto. 

(** * Fairy Querciola ! 

Thou art good as fair ; 
Let me hope and not in vain, 
That thou wilt send happiness 
Unto me again ! 

Fairy Querciola ! 

Thou hast blest so many, 

Send a blessing unto me, 

Let me hope that I, though humble, 

May not forgotten be ! 

Fairy Querciola ! 

Fair as thou art good ; 

One favour I implore. 

Which I hoiae thou*lt not deny : 

Make him who was my lover 

Return to me once more. 

Fairy Querciola ! 

I shall suffer sore 

Unless my love as lover 

Comes back as qnce before.^ 

But, fairy, thou hast promised me, 

And what thou sayst will surely be, 

He'll seek my roof once more.' ") 


Querciola, or Querciuola, as the name of a nymph or sylvan spirit, is clearly 
enough closely connected with that of Querquelulana, an old Roman or Italian 
simile for Vira (which see), a wood-nymph ; though the term, like Querciola, 


refers especially to a dryad, or spirit of an oak. So Festus observes (Prelleb, 
R. M., p. 89, second edition) : " Querquelulana Virts putanUir significari nymphs 
presidenles querqueto virescenti, quod genus silvm indicant fuisse intra portam quiz 
ab eo dicta sit Qiterqnetnlaria." Querciola is therefore clearly a dryad. 


These Querquetulanx have an apparent, or barely possible, survival in the 
spirits called Querkeln in Bavaria. They emigrated from that country, passing 
over the river Main by the village of Wiesen [Bayerische Sagen von Fried. 
Pamer, Munich, 1848). 


I am not sure whether this name is Sethano or Sethlrano or Settrano, nor 
have I been able to learn more than what is contained "ki these lines : — 

" Settrano is the spirit of fire. He is remembered by all here. They know a 
proverb {i.e., a saying, invocation, or spell) which is repeated. When they do not 
wish the (ire to burn they invoke {se voca) that spirit," — Sette Tico. 

Of all these spirits there are invocations and tales, but I have not in all 
instances been able to collect them. 

Sethlans was the Etruscan Vulcan. 



I infer from this that the story is widely spread. 


** There was once in the country a lady who had a small baby. It was a pretty child, but day by day it 
began to weaken — diminuire — ^nor did the mother know what to do. Then she was advised to go to 
Carradora, who could explain it all, because^'she was a witch who did good as well as harm (il male), 

*' Then the lady went to the witch, who said : * Go to thy home and put the babe to bed, and put a knife 
in the window, and then return to me.* So the lady did, and returned to Carradora, who said : 'Witches 
come by night to suck the blood of thy child, and it must be prevented.' 

" Then the witch took corbessoUy and thorns, and put them in red bags and bound them to the door-posts 
and windows, and then took the entrails of a very small pig (un fnaiaiifto), and said : — 

<(( Quest i sono gl'interiori 
D'un piccolo matale, 
Che servono per le strege 
Discacciar, e gl'interiori 
Di si bella bambina 
Sono giovani quanto lei cara, 
Ed e proprio ad atta 
Per amare. £ le come 
AUe strege bispgna fare, 
Che qui dentro non possino piii entrare.* 

** Then Carradora took the child and made a skein of thread {fie feci un gomitolo) and threw it in the air, 
and so it was cured.** 

The story was imperfectly told, because it was mentioned in connection with 
it, that thorns in the form of a cross were either laid in the window or should be 
put in a window to keep witches from entering. 

Cama or Cardcea was a very ancient Roman minor goddess. " Some writers," 
says Preller, " describe her as a goddess who strengthened the heart and entrails. 
Others call her Cardea^ a goddess of the door-hinges, and class her with Forculus 
and Limentius'' Of her he relates the following, which has certainly an extra- 
ordinary resemblance to what I have related : — 

" There was by the Tiber an ancient grove of Hclernus, to which the Pontifices brought offerings. Hence 
came the nymph who was really called Cranse, but who, by means of Janus, became Cama, or goddess of all 
hinges of doors (doors ?) and entrances or exits. As a nymph she was chaste as Diana, and by speedy flight 
avoided the glance of every man. But she could not escape the double sight of Janus who won her love and 
gave her for reward the jus cardinis, or sway over all hinges, and the white thorn {spina alba) in order to 
keep evil from all doors, and especially to exclude the witches who come in the night to suck the blood of 

'' Proca was the daughter of a Latin prince. When the child was only five days old the witches began to 
suck its blood. The nurse came and saw the marks of the witches* claws on the baby's cheeks — the child was 
pale as a faded leaf. So they went to Cama — or Cardea — who first touched the door-posts and threshold thrice 
with arbutus (Italian, corbezzole)^ and sprinkled the entrance with water, and took the entrails of a sucking- 
pig in her hand. Then she said : — 

V/RA. 109 

*'* Ye night-birds (witches) spare the bowels of the bal^e 
The tender creature is for dainty boys; 
Heart for heart ! 
Bowels for bowels ! 
Soul for soul ! * 

" Then she laid the entrails in the open air, and no one dared to look at them." (This, I am sure, means 
that they went away without looking back at them.) *' After that no witch could enter, and the child soon 

This is essentially the same story with the one previously narrated. But quite 
independently of it, I was informed long before that the wAite thorn laid in a 
window kept witches from entering, and that the entrails of a pig were a most 
potent means of exorcising them. That the Latin Cardea should have become 
Carradora is natural enough. 

Carnea-Cardea seems to have been interested in pigs. It is remarkable that 
the dish of pork and beans (which, as Sir THOMAS Browne remarks, the Jews and 
Pythagoreans contrived to spoil between them) was sacred to her ; it was eaten in 
her honour on the ist of June. This fact alone would convince any native of 
Boston that she must have been the most genial, humane, and aesthetic spirit in 
existence — cui pulte fabacia et larido sacrificatur ' — and I am not sure that, if a 
copy of this work should ever find its way to the Hub, the modern Athenians 
will not erect a church or temple to her, unless indeed they have one already, for 
there are few things which they do not know, and nothing which they have not 
tried in the way of religion. In any case it is a remarkable historicah fact that 
pork and beans — probably baked — was an Athenian dish, associated with the 
deepest mythological mysteries. 

Of this spirit I have the following account and story : — 

" Vira is a fairy who, from a fairy (fate) in her life, became a spirit who by day and night is always in 
the forests. And when she sees any handsome young man busy in cutting wood, or making charcoal, if he 
pleases her she appears to him in the form of a very beautiful girl — da farm a bagHare — such as to dazzle him 
— and then he 6nds his work all done to his hand, or else she shows him a treasure. 

" One day she found a handsome youth who wa$ in great sorrow because he was so poor. He began to 
cut wood, yet wept while so doing because he could bring nothing home to his mother. Then Vira appeared 
to him and said : — 

' Macrobius, i., 12, 33. 


" * Buon giovane non ti disperare, 
A far fortuna ti voglio mandare, 
Vi e un piccolo paiese vicina k Benevento 
£ la vi e la tiglia del re 
Che aspetta il mago delle sette teste, 
Che vada a mangiarla Taspelta, 
A sedere al balcone ma pero basta 
Che uno vada dal re con le teste del mago, 
Che sia stato capace d*ammazarIo.' 

(" * Good youth be not in despair I 

There^s a small place near Benevento 
Where dwells a king who has a daughter fa«r, 
Who waits for the seven -headed ogre 
Who will devour her, but her father there 
Hopes that some one ere long may slay him, 
And bring the ogre's heads unto him.*) 

** * And he who will do this may wed the princess. Now this ogre has been slain by the Signore Slaniani, 
who will DOW carry the heads to the king and claim the hand of his daughter, but that is reserved for thee and 
not for him. For when the heads were put on a waggon to be carried to the king I took from them their 
seven tongues, and thou shalt carry these tongues to the king and say that thou didst slay the ogre and that 
thou dost wish for his daughter. Then the king will say that it was another who gained the victory, the proof 
being that he has the heads. To which thou wilt reply, ** Who should be the conqueror — the one who has the 
heads or the tongues ? " And it will be admitted that the victor would have secured the tongues although he 
might have neglected the heads, but that it would be most unlikely that he would have cut out and thrown 
away the tongues.' 

*'And thus did Vira ; 
The youth was clad in splendid attire, 
He too was very beautiful, 
Boldly he went to the king. 
Boldly he claimed to have slain, 
Single-handed, the ogre. 
And asked for the beautiful princess 
As a reward for his valour. 
' It may not be ' said the king ; 
'He who slew the monster 
Has brought with him its heads, 
No better proof can be found.' 
*A better proof is the tongues,* 
Answered the youth, undaunted, 
'And I can show all the seven.' 

" But the Signore Slaniani maintained that these were not the tongues of the ogre, because no one could 
have taken them from the heads, which had never been out of his sight. Then the king said : — 

(( 4 

Well, then bring here the heads ! 

If they all have their tongues 

The princess shall be your wife. 

And this youth must be cast into prison, 

V/JiA. Ill 

But, if the tongues are gone, 

Gone with them are your chances, 

You'll l)e a prisoner then, 

And the youth shall have the maiden.' 

*'But as he had no witnesses Signore Slaniani depended on the heads, and what was his amazement 
to find when they were brought that the tongues were gone. 

"Therefore it came to pass 
That the poor youth who was favoured 
By the help of the fairy 
Carried away the reward. 
So it often goes in this world — 
He who does the hard work 
Often misses his pay, 
When some one more favoured by fortunie 
Steps in and secures the prize. 
Higher beings than man 
Play with us all like toys. 
The youth was as nothing in this ; 
All that he won he owed 
To the loving spirit Vira." 

This IS, as regards the incident of the dragon's or niagds heads and tongues, a 
very common fairy tale. We have the last echo of it in Quentin Durward, where 
the hero appears with the head of William de la Mark, the Wild Boar of Ardennes. 
But it is very peculiar that in this version the whole principle of the story is 
reversed. In the others it is the true slayer of the dragon who gets the tongues, 
and the impostor who has the heads but in this story. 

** The page slew the boar. 
The king had the gloire." 

This indicates an extremely archaic form of the tale. Among rude races it 
is the crafty man who is most admired. The Algonkin Indians call their great 
god Glooskap or GlusgabCy which means "the Liar," as Dr. J. G. Brinton declares, 
because they thought it the most distinguishing attribute of wisdom to be able to 
deceive. Highly civilised people are ashamed to boldly admire such a mean trick 
as that which was played by the proUg^ of Vira. It cannot have escaped the 
reader that, taking these tales and myths as a whole, they indicate a really 
primaeval antiquity. Their morality is antique and they are all based on the 
idea that human beings or fairies who are a kind of human beings (a belief 
which Praetorius and many more defended only two hundred years ago), became 

—  ,^^»'^ 


spirits or deities. This is the very oldest form of supeniaturalism, or animism. 
And in accordance with it is this na¥f admiration of deceit. 

But what is most interesting in this tale is the name ViRA, that of the heroine 
who is described distinctly as a fairy " who is always in the forests." In ancient 
times the Vira was strictly a sylvan spirit, and is thus mentioned by Preller 
{Rom. Mytky p. 89) : " But the women of ancient times whom we call scias (wise 
women or witches) . . . were also called in early times Vires or Vires^ for this form 
also occurs, and they were indeed chiefly known as Baumnymphen (/r?^-nymphs) the 
word virere and viridis being clearly connected with this name." But the name 
being very old Italian, seems to be peculiarly appropriate to a very old story of 
the Toscana Romagna. " The race of wood women," says Preller, " is generally 
indicated by the Greek names of Nymplts and Dryads^ while in the very earliest 
Italian antiquity, and in hoary popular tradition, they are called Virce^ Vires^ 
Virgines and ViraginesP In the story which we have given, Vira acts more like 
a witch than a fairy. 

Taking the name Vira into consideration, with other characteristics, it is there- 
fore possible that we have here perhaps the most ancient form of the legend. 


Bergoia is a spirit sempre perfido^ always treacherous, who was in her lifetime 
a very mischievous witch. Yet when young she was really good, and she was in a 
great and wealthy family by whom she was loved like a daughter. And there was 
a young girl, a daughter of the family, who also loved her very dearly. But little 
by little, no one knew how or why it was, Bergoia began to change her nature and 
became as evil as she had before been amiable. 

*• Now the change was so great that the young lady was certain that some strange cause lay behind it, and 
being a very shrewd girl she resolved to watch Bergoia closely, and find out what it meant. And one evening 
when Bergoia bade her go to bed early, she did so, but kept awake to watch. And when midnight came, she 
heard the voice of a man without, singing : — 

** * O Bergoia ! o bella Bergoia I 
Vieni mi aprlre, 
Che da questa iinestra, 
Non posso satire, 
Bada i tuoi padroni non sveglia, 
Perche con te una affare 
Abbiamo da combinare ; 
Se questa affare combineramo, 
La tua signorina stregheremo, 


Sc la tua signorina 

Non mi farai stregare, 

Una Strega di te faro diventare.' 

(** ' O Bergoia ! fair Bcrgoia ! 
Come open unto me ! 
For thou knowest through the window 
I cannot come to thee. 
Beware, lest the master wakes, 
For we have work to do ; 
There is witch-work which calls us, Bergoia ! 
Witch-work for me and you ; 
We must bewitch the maiden 
And win her from her home.; 
Unless the spell pass on her, 
A witch thou must become ! *) 

** Then the young lady, terrified at what she had so nearly escaped, ran screaming to her parents, and told 
them what she heard. Then he who had called, and who stood without, in a rage changed himself into a 
black dog,* and disappeared in a terrible flash of lightning with Bergoia, who was never seen on earth as a true 
woman again. 

" After her death, Bergoia became a spirit of thunder and lightning, and was seen darting in the fire — 
si convcrU molU tjoUc in saielta. She, however, often took human form, and would go to a house and ask for 
food and shelter ; if she obtained it she would content herself with making thunder and lightning roar and flash, 
and if her hosts showed fear then there would come hail to devastate their crops. But woe to those who utterly 
refused her shelter, for then there would come a flash (saiei/a) which would destroy or burn the house, or set 
Bre to the trees. 

** So men lose thousands on thousands 
Of money by crops destroyed, 
For the flash is a ray of fire, 
And the bolt like a splint of iron, 
And he who is struck by it dies, 
As he may by the deadly odour 
Which lightning spreads around. 
Such is the work of Bergoia. 

** Sometimes it comes to pass that Bergoia fancies a 'youth, and passes the night with him. He is 
Ix^witched and makes love, but never sees her, for she comes and goes in darkness, and suddenly departs in 
a flash of lightning which kills her paramour. 

*' And so she is ever doing evil to all» 
Evil to those who have never done her wrong." 

The Tusci, as Ottfried MOller observes, had in their mythology an extra- 
ordinary number of spirits of thunder and lightning, furies and infernal witches, 

' ** Any voodoo is supposed to change himself into a black dog, black wolf, black cat, owl or bat at night. 
The way to stop the metamorphosis is to find either the human or the animal skin and salt it. These black 
animals spit fire at you if you have their human skin j but you must not fear, but hold it fast until you have 
salted it well."— Mary A. Owen. 



and, as I have observed, there are a great many in the Romagnolo mythology.^ 
The Etruscan, like the Turanian everywhere — and the Mexican so far as we know 
it — seems to have been a reh'gion or cult which was, especially in a certain stage, 
one of blood and of the grotesque horrors which always appeal to primitive man. In 
such religions thunder and storms, death, bloody sacrifices and evil spirits take 
precedence of more refined conceptions. The god is always a human sorcerer who 
continues to haunt mankind and exercise the same functions which he practised 
while living. No one can fail to recognise very distinct traces of this in these 
Romagnolo traditions. 

This account speaks of " the deadly odour which lightning spreads around." 
The Hungarian gypsies say that it has a smell like garlic. 

It may be observed that these Tuscan legends deal, not indirectly, but very 
evidently and closely, with their original myths. Many of the' names of Etrusco- 
Italian deities are preserved in them almost unchanged. Now in no part of the 
Roman empire was the worship of Ceres so zealously maintained as in the Tuscan 
land ; hence the idea of a wandering goddess, going about in disguise, soliciting 
shelter and food, and cruelly punishing those who treat her unkindly, appears more 
than once in these traditions. And it cannot be denied that by considering them 
as a whole, comparing one incident with another, or all the special characteristics 
of the legends, no one can fail to see that all agree marvellously with what we 
know of Etrurian or Old Latin origins, and manifest little admixture from other 

This being true, it is curious that there was an Etruscan minor goddess 
named Begoe who appears to have communicated to mortals the whole theory and 
system of thunder, or an ars fulgiiritorum^ which was preserved with other 
writings, after the time of Augustus, in the temple of the Palatine Apollo. 
Fidguritus really means id qiiod est fulmine ictum — that which is thunderstruck. 
Begoe was at least one who was concerned with thunder, storms, and the spoiling 
of harvests. But here — as in all such cases — I only make a mere suggestion, to be 
corrected or set aside by those who are better qualified to decide. 

Bergoia in this Tuscan myth kills animals and men at a flash or in an instant. 

* The Tuscans ( Tusker) who devoted much attention to investigating thunder and lightning . . 
recognised three kinds — that which gave counsel or advice, that which confirmed events and indicated how 
something which had happened would turn out, and the third which came unexpectedly and predicted according 
to circumstances. It would weary the reader should I relate more of this greatly spun-out lightning-lore. 
For further details he may consult: Seneca, Natura QttcsL, ii., 32, &c. ; Pliny, Hisl. Nat.y ii., 53; 
\ h\X9AAX{^De fulminum significaitotiobus in Gravii Thesaur,^ v., p. 600; }At}i.LEtLt Die EtmsAer ; Creuzek, 
Symbolik^ 3rd ed., vol. iii., p. 650; NoRK, Real Worterbuch^ vol. i., p. 160; Dollingkr Heidenthum^ 
p. 461 ; Friedrich, Symbolik der Natttr. 



" Begoe," as we are told {History of Etrtiria^ by Mrs. Hamilton Gray) " slew an 
ox simply by whispering in its ear the fearful name of the Highest." This I think 
refers to lightning. "The highest- and most irresistible of all the powers dwells in 
the divine znd mysi^nons name — "the supreme name," with which Hea alone is 
acquainted. Before this name everything bows in heaven and in earth and in 
Hades, and it alone can conquer the Maskin (evil spirits), and stop their ravages. 
" Awe her (Ninkigal) with the names of the great gods " (Fox Talbot, cited in 
Lenormant, Magie Ckaldaienne). Thus nomen est numen^ according to Varro, 
to which we may here appropriately add et numen est lumen — the divinity being 


Of this spirit I have the following account : — 

*' Bughin is a spirit who does both good and evil. About harvest time he causes the carbofuhiato ' in the 
grain, or makes it become black, whence the bread made from it is also dark, having such a vile smell and 
taste that it cannot be eaten, which is a sad loss for the poor peasants — € cosi i poveri contadmi se avessero la 
disgrazia. And when they have suffered much from this, say for three or four years, then they take two or 
three ears of wheat or of the grain (jr/f^^^i^aif^). These the peasant must husk or shell {s/ario), clean, 
and put them on the hearth where it is very hot, and throw the refuse out-of-doors, and when putting the grain 
on the hearth say :— 

** * Metto questo grano carbonchiato 

Perche lo spirito di Bughin mi ha rovinato, 

A lui mi vc^lio raocomandare, 

E lo voglio tanto pregare, 

Che aquesta male voglia riparare; 

Se questa grazia mi vuol fare, 

Questo grano in mezzo della stanza 

Mi deve fare saltare ! ' 

('* ' As these rusted grains I see, 
I fear Bughin hath ruined me ! 
Therefore unto him I pray. 
That this harm may pass away ; 
May this com now be a sign 
That all is well for me and mine, 
May it, if I escape a doom, 
Jump to the middle of the room ! *) 

** Should the heated grains burst and jump well, it is a sign that the rust or mildew will not attack the 
grain. But the peasant must be on the look-out to secure two grains of wheat of the very first which ripen 
before the smut, or carbonchiato^ manifests itself.*' 

The Romans had a god or rural deity who presided over the rust in wheat. 

' Carbonchioj a disease in grain by which it appears black and scorched. The smut or mildew. Carbon- 
chiosOy affected with the smut, burnt or scorched (Baretti's Halian Dictionary), 

GANZIO. 117 

His name was RobigOy and there is much about him in the lore of the Latin 
harvest gods, of whom I would say incidentally that they seem to have been the 
prototypes of the same " Corn gods " in Germany, or sprung from the same 
source. The Latins had indeed quite a minor mythology of these. Seia, or 
Segetia, guarded the seed while in the ground. She was also called Fructiseia 
and Semonia. Segesta attended to it when sprouting. The Deus Nodotus aided 
the development of the joints — dicitur deus qui ad nodes perducit res satas 
(Arnobius, iv. 7 ; ap. Preller). Volutina formed the husk, Patelena opened 
the ear {;uide Patelana). With these were twelve male gods who presided over 
all the separate processes of sowing and harvesting, besides the Deus Spinensis 
who was invoked to keep the crop free from thorns and weeds. In Bolognese, 
Robigo would easily and naturally be changed to Bughin — big, the root, becoming 
bug or bugh by many analogies. In is a common termination for proper names. 


'*Festa para Conso : Consus tibi caetera dicet; 
Ipso festa die dum sua sacra canes." 

Ovid, Fastorum Lib, iii. 

The contadino when in difficulty on any subject has always his choice 
between appealing to a Christian saint or an ancient heathen god : " One good 
if the other fails." So if his horse be ill, he may begin with a prayer to Saint 
Antony of whom I was told that : — 

*' He is a saint who protects all animals, especially horses. And when one has a horse in bad condition 
he goes to Saint Antonio and says : — 

t( I 

Saint Antonio mio benignol 

Di pregarvi non son digno ; 

Ma voglio voi pregare, 

Che il mio cavallo mi volete liberare 

Da tutte le malattie; 

Sano et svelte me le farete stare ! ' 

(** * Most benign Saint Antony ! 
Though unworthy I may be, 
Vet to thee I pray, of course. 
And beg that thou wilt free my horse 
From all evils in him found, 
Make the creature safe and sound ! * ") 

But should Saint Antony turn a deaf ear to this humble petition, the 
suppliant appeals to a much older, and therefore probably more experienced 


deity, that is Ganzio, who is "of the horse, horsey," as he dwells in stables, and 
who, though not devoid of trick or vice, is always willing to give his aid as an 
experienced " vet" when politely requested. Of him I have the following 
account : — 

" Ganzio is the spirit who is over horses. Now it is not with evil intent but for fun that it often happens 
when a coachman goes into the stables Ganzio makes the horses misliehave, and throws impediments in the 
way, especially if the master be waiting without, and very impatient, begins to scold. 

"However, if the master do not become too angry, or treat the coachman badly, Ganzio contents 
himself with making the horse rear and curvet a little (fa fare qualche capriciola). But if the master is 
unreasonably angry, then the horse will take the wrong road if it be possible, or get into a dangerous place, or 
leap or bolt, but still without hurting his rider. 

*' Now if it be thought that Ganzio is playing these tricks the rider should say : — 

'* 'Ganzio, Ganzio, benedetto tu siei ! 
Buono quante bello. Son cattivo, ai 
Bene ragione trattero bene i servitori, 
Giacche tu me ai data 
Una lezione, ma ti vengo a pregare, 
Ganzio non me piu spaventare 
Che mi ai fatto una gran i>aura 
Ma e vero la valuta, 
Ganzio vienc in casa mia, 
Vieni a tenermi compagnia 
Ma non farmi spaventare, 
Nci burroni non mi gettare.' 

(** ' Ganzio, Ganzio, heed my song ! 
Thou art right and I am wrong, 
I will treat the servants better, 
And will mind thee to the letter ; 
For the present I implore. 
That thou frighten me no more ! 
Also that thou*lt ever be 
In my house, as company; 
And may I ne*er again be seen 
So near the edge of a ravine I ' ") 

I must remark that my informant did not very well recall this incantation, 
and " pieced it up," so to speak, as well as she could. But who was this Ganzio 
originally ? Census was a very old Roman minor deity, who was closely connected 
with animals, and especially with horses and races. " The Greeks," says Preller, 
" declared that on account of the chariot-races at his festival, and his altar buried 
in the earth that he was the same as their Poseidon Hippios," It is to be 
remarked that he was regarded as being very kind and considerate to animals, 

ALPENA, 1 19 

therefore on his festival all horses and mules were allowed to rest, and were 
crowned with flowers and otherwise well treated. 

Consus would naturally become Conso or Consio in Italian, which in Tuscan 
is C/umsio, the ch in Romagnola often changing to a gy as, for instance, lonbrigoli 
for lombrid (earthworms), ^xi^piga {ox pica (wood-pecker or magpie), old Umbrian 
pei qu. This etymology may or may not " hold water," I only suggest it as the 
only one which occurs to me. But, according to it, Consus would almost 
inevitably become Consio and Ganzio. 

I forgot to mention that Ganzio may be invoked for any matter relative to 
a horse. 


"Der Name der Gotiin Alpan erklart sich durch Vergleichung stammverwandter Namen von ahn- 
lichen Gottheiten bei den Indern und Germanen." "Diese schafft und bringt nach der Darstellung des 
Spiegelbildes durch die Luft dahin schwebend den Schmuck der Pfianzenwelt.^' — CORSSEN, Uber die Sprache 
der Etrusker. 

Alpena, as I was told, is a beautiful female spirit who always flies in the air. 
She is very charming, and in addition to her name is entitled La Bellaria, She 
is a la dea deifiori — the goddess of flowers. The name recalls the Etruscan Alpan, 
who was also an aerial goddess, or rather peri, who appears on a mirror from Vulci 
now in the Vatican {vide Mus. Etrusc. Vaticana^ i., vol. xxiii., and Gerhard, 
Etrus. Spiegely v., 28 f. t., cccxxxi. f. 2141) as holding leaves or flowers. Every 
detail as given to me agrees curiously with what is said of Alpan, by Corssen 
{Uber die Sprache der Etrusker, vol. i., p. 255). "Alpan," he says, "creates the 
ornamental part of the world of plants, and brings it, sweeping through the air, 
in the train of Adonis, the goddess of spring." The name Alpena^ with the 
description of her attributes, were given to me, not as the result of inquiry, but as 
information, volunteered by a peasant woman. 

As Alpena or Alpan is, like Albina, one of the LichtgottiniUy or goddesses of 
light, it is probable, from the similarity of name, that they are the same. From 
Alpan the Etruscans developed another goddess, Alpanu^ or AlpnUy who appears to 
have been an inferior form of Venus {^ide CORSSEN, Uber die SpracJie der Etrusker 
— a \vork of no vaSue as to philology, but full of curious materials). 

It is remarkable that in modern Tuscan tradition there are several spirits of 
light and air called Bellaria, corresponding to the Etrusco- Roman group of Eos 
and the nymphs of the dawn. Though Eos had few temples (" rarissima tentpla 
per orbem*' OviD, MeL^ xiii., 588), the Etruscans made great account of her, and her 
son Memnon (Memrun) often occurs on vases {vide Die Weltkorper in i/irer 


vtythUch symboliscken Bed4UtUHg, von J. B. Friedrich, 1864). All of the Etruscan 

Ai.rAN. (Alptiia or Alhina.) 
(From CoTSsen. The otnatnenl from a 

winged spirits bearing flowers, and connected witK rainbows, clouds, air, and light, 
were in fact Bellarie, and a part of the Lasts, who carry bottles probably of 

ALPENA. 121 

perfume — though it may have been something more substantial — wherewith to 
welcome the soul of the life-weary mortal entering heaven. As is beautifully set 
forth in my own French romance of Le Lutin du Chateau, which was refused by 
Hachette because of its worldly-minded gaiety and freedom from blue-nosed 
straight- laced ness. 



"Tituno is the spirit of thunder— forbore — and he is known in all the 
Romagnie." So asserts Naudo Papetti. Another authority (Peppino) gives the 
name as Tit'uno "/c sfiirito del folgore" adding that he regrets that he cannot 
communicate much on the subject, but that when the season of the silk-worms shall 
have passed he will go forth among the coniadini, and gather up what unearthly 
lore he can. Meanwhile he has noted down as to Tit'uno the following : — 

"This spirit did marvellous things in the ancient time when Jupiter" was won! lo Let loose his thunder- 
bolts over great plains, destroying everything. Then the people invoked this spirit, saying :— 

" Then they took salt and holy water and sprinkled the house or the place where they were. Then the 
thur»ler departed and did not letnm to repeat the mischier, the invocalion being a protection. And I have 
found a contadino who repeats it, but he says there was a time when every one in the Romagna did so." 

It cannot have failed to strike the reader, as I have indeed observed it more 
than once in this book, that there are many spirits of thunder and lightning, which 
was also the case with the Etruscans of olden time, 

 This was written by a youth who had received some education, hence the 
Jove. Here the latter is deus ex mathitta. 

ALBINA, 123 


'* Obstinet dicebant antiqui quod nune ostendit, ut in yeteribus carminibus : sed iam se cselo cedens 
Aurora obstinet suum patrem." — Festus, p. 197. 

It will come to pass, and that at no very distant day, when — although there 
will be no lack of people who will understand this book perhaps better than I do — 
there will not be a soul living who can feel it. For a copy may be kept in some 
library, even unto the time when there will be no more wild woods, or wilder- 
nesses, either rural or human ; when every tree and rock will be recorded, and every 
man and woman be well educated — and all the better for them — probably into 
something far more sensible than sentimentalism or superstition, but the ancient 
spirit in which the past was lived will be irrecoverably lost I have no fear that 
the outlines^ or drawing, of my humble pictures will perish, but I know that the 
colours will inevitably fade, and yet it is the colour which most impresses me as I 
now write. A few days ago a dealer in bric-a-brac here in Florence showed me a 
picture which he said was by Beato Angelico. It was not by that master, for it 
was very correctly and beautifully drawn ; what was remarkable in it was that it 
was utterly faded, all was dead grey-white, figures as well as ground being quite 
uniform. But the artist had outlined, or stamped every detail with tracer or wheel, 
so that the original conception of form still remained, and I — knowing the time 
and school to which it belonged — could conjecture what it must once have been. 
So I beg the reader to endeavour to re-colour or revive these outlines. After all, 
that is a poor portrait which only conveys an idea of the great skill of the artist ; 
at least half of its effect should consist in giving us some vivid idea of what the 
original must have been, as man or woman, and a very badly executed sketch 
often does that, better than a very artistic work, as cheap popular caricatures of 
public characters abundantly prove. 

These thoughts occurred while disentangling the meaning of a rude fragment 
which was half-recited and half-sung to me, and then written down as roughly as 
it had been repeated, yet in which there is a certain mysterious beauty, as of a 
dayspring obscured by clouds. It is of a spirit of the dawn who is supposed 
very appropriately to herald a bright day, or promise hope to unfortunate lovers. 

** Albina is a fairy who appears when morning dawns — quando sputita Valba — to lovers who love in vain. 
She herself once, when in life, loved and was beloved, but she was in the power of an aunt who was a 
sorceress, and who opposed her love, and said to her : ' Leave this lover of thine, or evil shall befall thee. 
Firstly, thou shalt be a fairy, and when I die thou wilt take my witchcraft and never more have peace nor 


** Albina replied : * Though all the world should perish, I will wed my love, and if I must become witch 
or fairy, then I will use all my power to benefit lovers.* 

'* * I will do evil to women who betray their lovers.* So Albina kept her word. If a youth in love prays 
to her at early dawn he will be sure to gain her favour. 

'* When a youth loves and meets with no return he must rise before daybreak, and, kneeling in an open 
field, say : — 

'* 'Alba, allxi, che tu spunti 
Fa spun tar per me I'aurora ! 
Che I'Albina venga fuori ! 
Una grazia mi deve fare 
A lei mi vengo a raccomandare, 
Dalla mia amante sono disccaciato, 
Sa anche I'Albina per amore, 
Quante mia passate sa che Tamore, 
£ tanto forte che si preferisce, 
Preferisce piu tosto la morte, 
Che da un amante al)andonati.* ** 

Albina is, by name, allied to Alba the dawn, or is plainly enough Aurora 
herself. Further questioning I leave to the learned. But what is worth remark- 
ing is that in this wild, imperfect sketch we have the fragment of some ancient and 
possibly far more perfect poem, utterly beyond the creative power of a mere 
illiterate contadina. Albina dreads the becoming a fairy, spirit, or witch. It may 
be observed that in all this lore there is something mysterious and terrible, to 
gentle natures, connected with the transfiguring of mortality into folletti. Albina 
fears it, but rather than relinquish her faith to her lover, and even though she 
lose him, she will not yield one whit, and declares that if unearthly power be 
forced upon her, she will exert it in behalf of unfortunate lovers. Which is realised. 

All of this is not clearl}^ and artistically developed in the incantation, but it 
was apparent enough in the glances and expression of the strega^ who simply had 
a rough diamond which she could not polish. To better understand this let the 
reader suppose a Hampshire peasant singing such a song. 

There was an old Roman, now Tuscan, town called Albinia. 


The strange manner in which dim recollections of ancient myths are handed 
down in names, and how they are worked over and varied by the people, is 
illustrated by the following story from the Romagnola : — 

" Verbio was a beautiful youth, as good as he was beautiful, and he loved with all his heart a maid who 
seemed to return his love* 

VERBIO. 125 

" But she soon was tempted, 
Tempted by another 
Youth of greater beauty, 
Which was. like enchantment ; 
Yet he was a stranger, 
And he had no story, 
For this handsome stranger, 
Verbio was slighted. 

" Then Verbio fell ill in despair, and seemed to be dying, and the girl learning this repented, and in grief 
said to her new lover : ' I have done wrong, and I now see that Verbio loved me truly as thou dost not and no 
one can.' Then her lover gazed at her and she saw he was not a man but a devil. And he said : — 

*' * See what thou hast done. 
See how thou art wicked, 
Leaving one who loved thee 
With all soul sincerely ! 
Yet for me you left him, 
Yes, for me, a devil; 
Now you both are lost, 
For thou'st truly promised 
To be mine for ever. 
As thou boldest Verbio. 
But if you will sign 
With your blood a contract 
To be mine, I'll grant ye 
Many, many years 
Of happiness together.' 

'* Now Verbio did not believe in the power of devils, and was only too glad to get his love again, and so 
signed the contract, as she did also. And they lived happily indeed for many years ; but years must end, and so 
it came to pass that when the time of the contract expired both died at once. And all at once there was an 
awful storm over all the land, the heavens grew dark by day, and horrible fires flashed out of the darkness, 
and amid the storm was heard a voice which sang : — 

" * Women, learn to love 
One true love, and truly; 
When you're truly loved 
Be warned by my example ! 
Now I pay the fee 
For my fatal falsehood.' 

" And since that time the two have gone about as spirits knowing no rest." 

Virbius was the attendant — ^'genius or indiges of the forests of Diana, or the 
oldest king and priest — rex Nemorensis — ^who founded her worship." He was, 
says Preller, a male demon, worshipped with Diana. He was compared with 


and in fact was, " the Greek Hippolytus who, after he had been trampled to death 
by the wild horses of Poseidon, was revived and carried away by Diana." 

Diana is known popularly to-day as the Queen of the Witches, but rather 
as Hecate, in a dark and terrible sense. And if Verbio be the modern form of 
Virbius it is evident how he has become a spirit of the night, knowing no rest, I 
suspect that in an older version of this story Verbio dies and is revived. 

Pico de Mirandola, attacking the moral character of Diana, declares that "she 
was very liberal with that virginity which she feigned to adore, possibly to 
stimulate those who hated luxury. Thus, as the moon, Endymion lay with her, 
as did Hippolytus and Virbio." And TertuUian {De falsa Religioner lib. i., cap. 17), 
who naturally wanted to destroy the good fame and name of every lady in every 
mythology not Christian, holds forth in much the same manner, asking why she 
should take such pains to save Virbius from being killed by the horses — " qui erat 

turbatis distractus equis " — unless " What, I ask," cries the holy man, inspired, 

" does all this nasty horse-business mean ? {quid eqtiorum tarn pertinax abominatid) 
— unless it be a conscientia stupriy et atnorent minime virgincUem? — a con- 
sciousness of— ahem ! — and a love of anything but a virginal sort } " Exactly. 
And so, ever since then Diana, as the ever-wandering moon, and Virbio — the man 
in the moon — ^have gone wandering over the face of the heavens " as spirits finding 
no rest." 

I suspect that there is much more to be found out about this Romagnolo 
Verbio, and that what I have given is like many other accounts — only a mere 
fragment of some much completer story. The idea of signing a compact and 
assigning the soul is a very late Christian invention, though Horst finds traces 
of it a thousand years ago. 


'* Augustine (testimonio famoso) dice al quindicesimo libro della Citta di Dio, che i Silvani ed i Fauni 
(volgarmente detti Incubi), di molte volte sono stati maligni verso le donne, e che le hanno desiderate, e 
finalmente son giacuti con loro, e che alcuni demonj, chiamati da Franzesi Dusi del continuo vanno cercando- 
tal disonest^, e mettonla ad eflfetto. " — La Strega di Pico della Mirandola. 

In what may be called the Irregular Minor Mythology of Anglo-Saxony, 
or Saxonyankeedom, and in which Jingo and the Dickens are prominent deities, 
there is one power known as the Deuce. I have always inclined to think that this 
word is only the Latin Deus^ but philologists deduce it from a French goblin, one 
DuSy who is described as early as the fifth century as Dusius, Deus means God, 
while DuSy according to Du Cange, is found in almost all the Slavonic, Celtic, 
and Teutonic tongues of Europe, always as a kind of devilkin, a seducer of virgins 

DUSTO. 127 

and a being of familiar, easy, make-yourself-at-home habits. It is true, however, 
that the word for God has been elsewhere made to do diabolical service. In 
English gypsy it is Dhvel^ from the same Aryan root as Deus. Some years ago 
an English lady teaching religion to some gypsy children, asked them how the 
Creator was called ? Whereupon a small traveller, thinking the name was wanted 
in Roman}^ cried out " DiiveV Soon after there appeared in the newspapers an 
Appalling instance of Ignorance and Depravity, showing that the lower orders 
actually believed that the world and all things were made by the devil — d la 
Moloch or Malloch. For they do indeed sound very much alike (/.^., Duvel 
and Devil), and when we consider the extraordinary preponderance of power 
awarded to the devil in Catholic Christianity, it is a marvel that these names were 
not interchanged long ago. 

Isidore of Seville (/// Gloss) speaks of Dusii as demones. Another ancient 
authority declares that there are actually women so devoid of decency or so 
worldly-minded as to solicit the embraces of those demons, quos Galli Dusios 
nuncupant^ qua assidue hanc peragimt immunditiam — " whom the French call 
Dusii because they so constantly persevere in such impurity." Papias writes : 
" Dtisios nominant quas Rotnani faunos ficarias vocant " (" They call those Dusii 
whom the Romans call Faunos ficarios "). Thomas of CANTERBURY speaks of 
them as forest or sylvan gods in Prussia, and that the " gentiles " there dare not 
cut the woods consecrated to them. And a Codex of the eighth century, cited 
by Du Cange, speaks of aliqui nistici IwmineSy " some rustics who believe in 
witches, dusiolas and acqtiaticas or genisons^ 

But the word seems to exist in most Northern languages. Zeuss gives 
DusmuSj diabolus^ for Dusius. DiEFENBACH {Origines) finds a Prussian Dussia 
or Dussas, "perhaps dwosse^ geisty a spirit." And VnXEMARQuA, gives as British 
or Breton, Dus^ Dus;, plural, Duzedy an incubus. Dtis appears also in Old Friesic 
as Dfts, and in Middle High German as Daus. I conjecture that there was an 
Etruscan or Sabine Dus — the parent or origin of the domestic goblin, also of the 
fauns. There occurs very often on vases the fox-tailed, phallic, laughing god 
with a flat face and snubbed nose — always as wanton and indecent. 

None of the authors whom I have cited mention any Italian equivalent for the 
word. I was therefore pleased at finding on inquiry that not only was the name 
at once recognised, but that the description of the goblin corresponded in every 
detail to that which appears in all the earlier writers. This is the more interesting 
because DuSy at present, in all the rest of Europe is little heard of, and may 
perhaps be put down as one of the gods gone to sleep. This is what was 
told me : — 


** Dusio is a mischievous Utile /o/Ut/o, or goblin. He teases girls, sometimes he acts as a nightmare, 
very often he inspires lascivious dreams and has connection with women. Sometimes as a little imp not 
more than three inches high he perches on their pillows. He is not bad, but mischievous. He haunts houses 
and fireplaces." 

Afterwards the following was first narrated and then written out for me : — 

** Dusio is 2, folUtto — goblin or spirit — who sits on girls' shoulders. In a district of \a. Romagna there 
was a girl at service in a gentleman's family. In this palace the aunt of the proprietor had died. The family 
consisted only of two brothers, a young son, and a girl. After the aunt died, . . . the father also passed 
away. And after these deaths there was no peace in the house for strange noises. 

" At first the girl was afraid, but she soon became accustomed to the sounds. Steps were heard all the 
time going up and down stairs, doors banging. Then Virginia — such was her name — beheld at times a 
form as of a lady dressed in black enter and sweep by. And then came the Dusio^ who played her all kinds 
of wanton tricks, efaceva Faniore, Now Virginia did not like this, for she had a lover who wrote frequently 
to her, and she had carefully hidden these letters for fear lest i padroni or her masters and mistresses should 
find them. One night Dusio entered, and began his pranks. First he teased her in every vtVLy—faceva tutii 
i dispetti — and pulled all the bed-covering, sheets an(ji all, from Virginia. Then he went and brought out 
some of her letters, and lighting them at the candle burned them all up in the scnldino^ or brasier. 

*' The next day she went to walk with an old woman who was to her as a mother, to whom she told 
all the tricks which Dusio played, and how he was teasing the very life out of her. Then the old woman 
said : * Should he try to do that again say to him : — 

'* * Dusio — diosio — vattene via ! 

Vattcne in pace che Dio ti benedica ! 

" * And then he will go away and trouble you no more.' 

** But Virginia was so forgetful, or so much excited, that instead of repeating these words she said : — 

<( ( 

Dusio, Dusio, cosa fai?' 

•* That s, * Dusio, Dusio, what are you doing ? ' And he, bursting into a loud laugh, said : * Taking care 
lest your master and mistress find your letters.' " 

I have omitted from this story some family details and their name and the 
place where it occurred. I was assured with great earnestness that it all really 
took place as I have given it. What is remarkable in it, beyond the fact that 
Dusio corresponds exactly to the wanton sprite Dusius of the old writers, is the 
word diosio in the incantation. My informant could not explain it. I think 
I have met with it before, but cannot remember where. I conjecture, haphazardly, 
that it is equivalent to " Thou who mayest be, or art, a god " — />., dio sia ! 

Praetorius has, in his Blockes Berges Berichtting (1669), something to say 
about Dusius, and of course in his fashion it is something quaint and strange. 
" It hath been observed," he states, " yea, and experienced and made known 
by many credible men, that the Sylvani or Little Forest men and /;/«/, which are 
otherwise commonly known as Incubos and Squatters {Atiflrocker) are madly lewd 

REMLE. 129 

for women. And there are others of the same kind whom the French call Dusii 
who are fully their equals in such impurity, so that it is verily a sin and a shame, 
and Giraldus, Livy, and Isidore 1. i, testify to it But they have all been wrecked 
on the word Dusius. For it should be Drusius^ and mean forest-devil, whom the 
Latins in the same sense call Silvanus. So that which Saint Augustine saith, that 
our ancestors of old time called these spirits and devils Dmten is most probable, 
since the word agrees well with that of Druids who lived in wood and forests." 

Which may or may not be. Dtis is distinctly marked in all its early 
forms, although the intercalation of r is extremely common, even to children. 

Pliny tells us that hand-mills were invented at Volsinii, and that some of 
them turned of their own accord (Pliny, xxxvi. 29), " from which," says Dennis, 
" it would appear probable that ' that shrewd and knavish sprite called Robin 
Goodfellow • was of Etruscan origin — a fact worthy the attention of all Etrusco- 
Celtic theorists." The reader will find in several chapters of this my book much 
to confirm this conjecture. 

The following account as to this spirit came from a family living near Forli \-^ 

^^ Remle is the spirit of the mills, and when a peasant who has offended him in any manner takes his 
com to be ground, then the miller finds that something is out of order and that tlie wheel will not turn, 
because Remle has meddled with the works {^a in mezzo alia macvta), and hinders the grinding of the grain. 

" Then the miller must say : — 

*' * Remle, Remle, a ti mi raccomando, 
Che siei tanto buono e grande, 
Ti prego la macina lasciami andare, 
Perche a da fare, e il contadino ti mandero, 
A far ti ringraziare ! * " 

(•* * Remle, Remle, on thee I wait. 
For thou art so good and great, 
I pray thee let the mill-wheel go, 
For there's work to do, and the peasant shall know 
' How much to thee he doth truly owe ! * ") 

I I can find no name like that of Remle connected with any early Tuscan or 


J Latin divinity. In Italian Remolare means to retard, or to hinder, and as 


Remle retards or hinders the working of the mill, it is most probable that this 
is the origin of the word. Mola.di miW-stone, permolare^ to grind, moldto (Ital.) 
ground, seem all to be closely associated with it In Romagnolo the word 
Remle is the same as the Italian cnisca^ or bran. Yet I doubt whether this be 



the original name or indicative of its real meaning. It is worth noting that it 
seems very natural to suppose that there is a goblin dwelling in the mys- 
terious chiaro-oscuro of a mill — 

'* Made misty by the floating meal." 

Jano, Meana, Montulga, and Talena. 

'* Now, by two-headed Janus! 
Nature hath formed strange fellows in her time." 

'* Quod quidem apud Thuscos Italise populos accidisse, historia traditur, neque ego hsec loquor quasi 
poeticum fabulam." — Psellus dc Daemonibus, 

As my limits forbid much further printing, I include in one section four 
spirits who came flying in late after the rest The first of these is Jano^ who 
is thus described : — 

''Jano is a spirit with two heads, one of a Christian (i.«., human), and one of an animal, and yet 
he hath a good heart, especially that of the animal,' and whoever desires a favour from them should 
invoke (deoe pregarle) both, and to do thb he must lake two cards of a tarocco pack, generally the 
wheel of fortune and the diavolo indiavolatOy and put them on the iron (frame) of the bed, and say : — 

*' ' Diavolo che sei capo 
Di tutti i diavoli ! 
La testa ti voglio sliacciare 
Fino che o spirito di Jano 
Per me non vai a pregare ! ' " 

(" ' Thou devil who art chief 
Of all the fiends ! 
I will crush thy head 
Until the spirit of Jano 
Thou callest for me ! ' ") 

Jano is here plainly enough Janus, who was of yore a god of chance and 
fortune, and who has descended legitimately and naturally, as surveying the 
past and future, to association with cards. I have seen an early Romanesque 
or Lombard statue of this god in which one of the heads was of an animal 
and the other human {vide Gypsy Sorcery^ p. 208, in which, however, bath heads 
are erroneously given as animal). 

I believe that there were few gods with whom there were so many occult, 
strange, and forbidden mysteries connected, as with Janus, and there are marked 

' There is manifest confusion here. 


traces of this in the modern tradition. As having two heads, or being all- 
seeing, he became the symbol of Prudence— the Priidentia of Gothic sculpture, 
which is also the mystic Baphomet, or two-headed figure girt with a serpent, 
of the Knights Templars. There is one of these on the door of the Baptistery 
here, in Florence, The Baphomet signified secrecy and "illumination" — or, 
properly, freethought, nature-worship, or agnosticism to the adeptu Janus was 
tlu god of the door^ />., the entrance or admission to the mysteries. By him 
the chief devil (or evil) is conquered, and fortune or fate mastered. The 
incantation to Jano is therefore of great interest and value as possibly indicating 
a very curious tradition handed down from the old initiation. He is the weirdy 
/>., prophetic spirit. 

Meana. — Of this spirit I have the following written : — 

** Mcana is a spirit who is amiably inclined to people, and especially to lovers. When we desire 
a favour of her we should say : — 

'* * Per Timagine di Meana ! 
E per la sua bella persona 
Uno che la guardi bisogna 
Che Tadorl suUa sua tomba 
Preghero fin che il suo spirito non vedro, 
Se vederlo io protro il suo spirito 
Sempre preghero che nessun spirito maligno 
Mi possa molestare 
E Satanas le converra 
Sempre lasciarmi stare 
Lo spirito di Meana sempre preghero 
E saro certo che mai non periro ! * " 

As this is to me intranslatable nonsense, I have not attempted to give 
a version of it. Meana, according to Eduard Gerhard (Gesammelte Alcademische 
Abhandlungen^ 1866), the Etruscan name of a winged goddess of fate. He 
connects it with mensy Menerva (Minerva) and Mnemosyne. Her pictures as 
given indicate an aerial, lasa-like spirit, resembling Bellaria, or such as in 
popular tradition is connected with benevolence and love. 

Since writing the foregoing there has fallen into my possession, " for the 
second time in life," a copy of the Miracles of the Living and of- the Dead, by 
Henry Kommann, Frankfort, 1614. I have not now space wherein to print all 
that I have learned regarding Meana; suffice it to say that as a love-goddess, 
specially devoted to brides, she is identical with Mena, thus described by Korn- 
mann in language which I really must be excused from translating : — 


" Quastiuncula. Cur novis nuptis Mena apparent 'f 

" Latet ibi mysteriuin magnum serpentis antiqui. Id quod et Komanis ignotum non fuit. Quia 
nova nupta super ingentem fascinum, id est membrum Priapi sedere jul^ebatur, qui erat in loco altiori, 
quern indicat Lucanus inquiens. Torvus stat, id est, stratum, pendulum, ct erectum. In quod ascende- 
batur gradibus ebore ornatis, hoc autem ficbat propterea, ut illarum pudicitiam prior Deus delibosse 
videretur, docet ex Varrone Aurel. Augustinus lib. 6, Civit Dei, c. 9, et Lactantius, lib. I. 

According to that strange book, the Delineatio ImpotenticB Conjugalis of 
John G. Simon, 1682, the serpent, if not conciliated and buried under the 
threshold, prevented conception. Vide also De Naiura Hermaphroditorum^ of 
Caspar Bauhinus, 1614, containing interesting chapters on satyrs, fauns, &c. 
The talc of the iEolian virgin and her serpent-love belongs to this series. 

Last of all there was sent to me a very long paper stating that Mena or 
Merna is a spirit who appears to brides in the Romagna Toscana in the form 
of a serpent. But only to those who know the proper invocation. Should the 
serpent appear perpendicularly ^ at full length (/.^., Phallic), this means a long 
life, and happy ; if twisted up, it presages many sorrows, &c. ; but if Mena 
comes as 'a woman, it forbodes unhappiness and discord. The incantation is as 
follows in such a case : — 

** Ti scongiuro, o Serpente ! 
Merna ! Merna ! Merna ! 
Del malaugurio, e che 
Tu mi faccia tornare 
In pace col mio marito ! 
Se no come mi indichera 
La fata Merna, io ti conHnero 
Nel piu profondo abisso 
Che possa esistere 
Sopra la terra. Merna ! Merna ! " 

Then if Mena appears as a serpent all is well ; but if not, the bride must 
sit for three nights under a juniper-tree by a running stream, and cast into it 
three juniper berries, make a fire of three twigs of birch {betd)^ throw the ashes 
into the brook, and repeat : — 

** Fata Merna, ti *nvoco ! 
Per la tranquillita 
Deir anima mia, e per quello 
Di mio caro marito ! " 

Then the spirit will appear in the form of a fish, and bid the bride take 
of the mud of the stream, mingle it with salt and oil, warm it, if possible, against 
the husband's body, make it into a box (or take a box) and put the mud into 
it shaped like fish, carry it into the church where the wedding took place. 


Then Mena appears and tells the bride in long detail to be three nights in the 
church, and to bum the box and fish with cypress wood, and cause the husband 
to swallow the ashes in soup. Then all will be well. 

MoNTULGA.— Of this spirit I am told :— 

" Uontu^ in a very beautiful spirit, called Monlu/ga Alia Btllaria. Unto him who believes in 
her all his iflairs will prosper. He who would invoke her should go into a pine-liee grove and say;— 

" ' Qui si resposa, 
Al odore dei pini 
L'odore piu bello, 
riu bello che ci sia, 
E qui inginnochio 
. . . di un pino io ml mctto 
A pregare la regina— 
La regina delte stelle — 
O SOi regina della luna 
E del sole la protleliice — 
Prolletrice dell' amoie 
Lo r^na dell' aria pura 
Che di par bene 
Agti infelici 
Sempre si chura (cum).' " 

I believe that Montulga may be the Etruscan 
Muttthuch. A Bellaria in modern Tuscan tradition 
is an aerial spirit of grace, and flowers, of which 
family are Albina, or Alpena, and these are the com- 
panions or counterparts of Venus. Of Munthuch I 
learn from Corssen that the name had also the older 
form, Munthu-ckd. " She belongs to the world of 
plants in spring. In one mirror she dances with 
a satyr," all of which associates her with fields and 
forests, " piny grove and shady fountain." If Mun- 
tucha be the name, the / and g come naturally into 
Muntulga in Bolognese. munthucha, or montulga. 

Talena. — ^This is written Salena, I think, in the letter in which this spirit is 
given, but I am altogether uncertain as to the initial. She is thus described : — 

"Talena is a female spirit which cause* terror in the n^t. She b clad in white."' 

' The manuscript being here ill^hle it was mislaid, heoce a portion is wanting. 


PICO, 135 

If this name be Talena there is nothing in the description which connects 
it with that of Talena, or Thalna, of the Etruscans, of whom Gerhard says, 
" Thalna, and Thalne, and perhaps also Talena ... is on the Etruscan mirrors 
a goddess," of whom I may briefly say (to condense the mass of authorities 
whom he cites) has been believed to be a form of Venus, Juno, and Diana, 
ttone of whom is a nightmare. If it be Salena there is no deity known to me 
with whom she corresponds. 

The woman who sent me the information relative to these four spirits, 
adds in a postscript : " This is all which I have been able to learn from several 
people." I believe that the information was chiefly, if not all, derived from 
Volterra, but to what degree I could not verify. 


Of this spirit I am very uncertain, and regarding him I know nothing. 
I find him entered among notes taken and neglected as "un piccolo spirito 
colla beretta," a goblin with a cap, probably a form of the Red Caps or 
House Goblins. He is, almost certainly, the ancient Picus, or red-headed wood- 
pecker spirit. 

Still later, while this work was being printed, I collected, or received in 
letters, accounts of, or tales relating to, a number of spirits, which, if fully 
translated, would have made perhaps sixty more pages, for which there is, of 
course, no space. These were briefly and in part as follows : — 

Nurbia e la Pietra di Salute (cf. Nurbia^ the spirit of disease, who is invoked 
while preparing the stone of health, or a pebble used to cure rheumatism, &c.). 

Lamiay or the serpent-witch. A story and a long poem, now lost, I fear. 

La Strega Zumia. 

II prete Stregone A rrimini {'* The wizard-priest Arrimini "). 

La fata Julda, A tale. Including an account of the three spirits Trillo, 
Julio, and Btirillo. 

The Witch-spirits, Gerda and Meta. With a tale. 

The Baker Tozzi and his Daughter Fiorlinda. A tale. 

La Penna Maligna, An indescribably revolting ceremony with incantation. 
From Voltefra. 

La Corda, or the Incantation of the Vintage (Roman Catholic). 

To these I may add many poems or ballads all referring to witchcraft, and 
all, with one exception, as yet unpublished. These would fill about one hundred 
and fifty pages. 


"Dicles moy, en quel pays. 
Est Flora la belle Romaine." 

Frah^ois Villon. 

HIS very curious tale was 
one of my latest dis- 
coveries : — 

"This spiril, Floria, was once 
a fair girl who loved a ]'oulh who 
loved her as welt. But Fiona had 
& female fiicDd, and they truslcd 
in aod told to one anothei every- 
thing. Artd Floria did not know 
that hei friend was a witch, or 
that she loved her own lover and 
hid it oil from her. But it was 
trae, and the wilch was very 
jealous and envious and evil. And 
so one day when they were walk- 
ing alone in the country the wilch 
slew Floria, and put on her gar- 
ments. Then in [he eveoiDg she 
came to the lover. 

"Alia seta, la sera, 
5e present e al giovane 
Col nome di Floria, 
Essendu una strcga.' 

FLORIA. 13; 

(*'*In the evening, the evening, 
She came unto the youth, 
With the name (form) of Floria, 
As a witch she had the power/) 

"So the youth married her, and she had a beautiful boy. But one night as the mother held it 
there came the spirit Floria, who took the child and put it under the l^ed, and said to the husbnnd — 

" * Guarda che quella non i Floria ! 
Floria son*io, io sempre, 
Quella che tu hai sposato, 
E l*amica che m'uccise 
Per sposarti, ma guarda 
Che a mezza notte ti scappa, 
Perche non e che una strega. 

("'Seest thou that is not Floria— 
I am Floria, I ever ; 
She there whom thou hast married 
Is the evil friend who slew me 
That she might marry you ; but watch 
Lest she slip away at midnight, 
For she is a sorceress truly.') 

"And further that if he would slay the witch, she would ever protect him and the babe, and 
come every night to visit him. 

"Then the youth seized the witch by the hair and bound her to the bed, and she howled and 
blasphemed horribly (from midnight) till three o'clock. Then her witch-power left her, and she be- 
came as other women, and said to her husband : — 

" * Look at the baby, 
Look in his bed. 
There thou wilt find 
Crosses and garlands. 
It is a year now 
He has been enchanted.' 

"Then (the husband) gave her a blow with a hammer and slew her, so that she died. And from 
this time he always loved the spirit of Floria." 

In this tale, which wa^ collected and sent to me by Peppino, it is properly 
Floria who gives the blow with the hammer, and it is evident that Floria 
is the real mother of the child, and that the witch came after the marriage 
in the wife's form. Floria — Flora — was certainly equivalent with Horta, who 
in Etruscan times was one with Nortia — Fortuna — who drove the nails of 
Fate. I forget now whether it is in the work of Inghirami or that of 
Eduard Gerhard that she is twice depicted as holding a hammer. Padre 
Secchi follows Miiller {Etrusker, iii. 3, 7) in declaring that Horta, an Etruscan 



goddess, equivalent to Salus, gave name to Orte, and that she is distinct 
from Nortia, of Fortuna, the great goddess of Volsinii. "A distinction 
between her and Fortuna is indicated by Tacitus " (vide Dennis, Cities 
of Etruria^ vol. i., p. 140 in note). But these very objections prove 


that Nortia of the hammer was regarded as one with Horta by many. 
And this legend of Peppino agrees curiously with it. Dennis suggests 
that Horta was a goddess of gardens, therefore a synonyme with Flora. 
Pomona was also a form of Flora, and in her legend, by a strange change, 
it is not the witch who takes a female form, but Vertumnus who appears 
to her as an old woman. Confused as all this seems, I believe this legend 
to be ancient of classic. But it is very significant indeed that on Etruscan 
vases the hammer specially occurs as the implement of death in the hands 
of the equivalent of Nemesis, as in this tale. It is, in fact, the invariable 
symbol of death, and is in the hands of Charun and all the demons. Lanzi 
gives a beautiful female spirit holding it. 

The crosses and garlands alluded to, refer to the ^^guirlanda delle stregel^ or 
Witches' Ladder, elsewhere described. 


I am indebted to Mrs. Hayllar for the information that there is a spirit 
named Ra^ who is much talked of in Volterra. I had not far to go for knowledge 
as to this follettOy for the first native of the town, a young shoemaker, who was 
questioned on the subject, at once narrated the following : — 

** Ra is a spirit who protects children. When they are in danger the parents apply to him, and 
/* incantay charm him with these words : — 

" * Dormi, dormi bambino mio ! 
Dormi il sonno degli angioli, 
Quando tu ti sveglierai, 
La felicita riaquisterai. ' 

(" * Sleep, sleep, my little one ! 
Sleep the sleep of angels, 
When thou shalt awaken 
Thou shalt be happy again.') 

**Then the child will awake free from pain or trouble, secured from all danger, especially from that 
of falling into the baize (precipices, subterranean pits or cavities) of San Giosto in Volterra. 

"This spirit Ra was known in Volterra in the year looi, for just in that year he protected a little 
child which had been enchanted to him, which fell from a height of several yards in the l>alse^ but upon 

BOVO. 139 

a pile of broom- plant {ginestra). Then the peasants came running to save him» but he kept crying, ' Ra ! 
Ra I ' and when they had let him down a ladder, he would not climb it. And white they stood above 
there came a strange signore, who said : * Ye cannot save him ; I only can do it by supernatural power. 
I am the spirit Ra^ and now ye shall see how I will effect it.* 

'* Saying this, he stamped thrice on the ground, when there rose a great mass of broom-plants 
growing, by means of which, as from branch to branch of a tree, they descended and brought up the 

I am indebted to Professor Senator Comparetti for the suggestion that .Ra 
may be Rhea Sylvia. The Etruscans made all their deities male and female. 
Rhea Cybele, the wife and sister of Cronos, and mother of Jupiter, was specially 
the patroness of ravines, cliffs, and rocks {Die Goiter und Heroen, von Stoll), 
And it is as at home in ravines that Ra appears. Rhea was also a nursing 
goddess, or protector of children. The change of sex is of no consequence, 
for, as we have seen, Cupra and Siera have changed theirs, and this was even 
commoner of yore. In the story Ra raises a poor child from an abyss by 
means of the broom-plant, and it is a curious coincidence that Deus exaltat 
humiles (God exalteth the lowly) was always in the Middle Ages the motto 
accompanying the ginestra^ both being worn by Louis the Pious of France in 
1234 (Helyot. Description of knightly and monkish orders, German version, 


**Come conosci tu Buovo? Mi sapresti dare notizia alcuna di esso?" — / Reali di Francia, 

It is an extraordinary fact that one may ask ?. hundred peasants or other 
humble folk in Tuscany for mythical folk-lore and not find a trace thereof, 
and then meet with one who would seem to be the chronicler, or keeper of a 
museum of such curiosities. This is just the same among American Red 
Indians, and it was explained to me in Florence, as it had been in America, 
by the fact that in certain families only are such records preserved. Thus, 
while my very intelligent friend, Signora la Marchesa di T., could not by 
the most masterly and adroit cross-questioning elicit from her maid, who was 
of Volterra, the least indication of any knowledge of such things as sorcery or 
spirits, I, on the contrary, got from the young shoemaker of that ancient ville 
much that was marvellous, and, thereamong, the following relative to the spirit 
Bovo : — 

''Volterra was not the first name ot our city, for that was Antona^ the second Voltona, and the 
third Volterra. In the time when it was called Antona there lived a prince called Bovo di Antona, who 


was held by the people to lie a stregone^ or wizard; they also said he was immensely rich, because he 
had made a golden chariot with four horses of gold, and when in his last illness he reclined (jt fece 
adagiare) in it, and there died after long suffering. And when dead, his spirit appeared and ordered that 
they should set in motion the grand carriage bearing his body, and going forth from Volterra unto a 
mountain called Chatini (Catini), which is in sight of the city, there bury him. This was done, and the 
people believe that the chariot and the body of the king still exist. For there have been many exca- 
vations in which they have found relics of ancient days recording the epoch of this Bovo di Antona, 
and in recent times they found, le sue carte, his records with pictures representing his age (raffigttranii 
I nudesimi tempt)^ but they have not found as yet the great chariot. 

** After this burial the spirit of Bovo returned at night to his palace, which he adorned with all 
possible magnificence, and illuminated brilliantly.' And all the multitude seeing this illumination and 
festival could not imagine what it meant, knowjng that the prince Bovo was alone. But one evening 
certain bold spirits among them, moved by curiosity, knocked at the gate, but there was no reply. 
After midnight they heard merry laughter, and then they knocked again, when the gate opened by magic, 
but in an instant all was dark, and the people entering found all things as they had been in the time 
of the late king's life. 

'^ Then they knew not what had become of all that splendour which they had seen from the outside, 
and concluded it must be done by the spirit of Bovo. So it was decided that the boldest four among 
them should remain there the following night, which they did. And at midnight all the carpets and 
tapestries began to wave and move, and all the furniture changed into objects of great value. Then they 
decided to invoke the spirit of Bovo, which being done, he appeared, wrapped in a great white cloak, 
and when asked what he required" (i.^., what made him restless and haunt the palace), "replied: — 

*" Never having been loved by woman in all my life, I wish that this palace shall be inhabited by 
a beautiful girl, to whom I will appear as a beautiful youth. Should my subjects not succeed in finding 
such a bella donnay then I shall l)e confined in this palace, disturbing the peace of the citizens. But if 
it should be done, in recompense I will appear to him who brought it to pass. At midnight he may 
invoke the spirit of Bovo and I will ever aid to do him good.'" 

This is evidently only the beginning of a legend. Buovo of Antona 
as a hero of popular romance is well known. There are poems on him, and 
Reiner has written a monograph on the subject, showing that he was one 
of the champions of Christendom, and, in fact, our old friend Bevis of South- 
ampton. But I suspect that in this particular case a local folletto with 
a similar name has borrowed the fame of the mediaeval hero. For, having 
read the popular romance of Buovo di Antona^ which forms the fourth 
part, or 142 pages, of the Reali di Francia (Florence, 1890), I find that there 
is not in it a single point of resemblance to the hero of this story, and that, 
far from having lived unloved, the champion wooed and wedded the beautiful 
Drusiana, who died of grief for him forty days after his death. The only 
Antona recognised in the chronicle is very evidently the seaport of South- 
ampton in England, founded by l^ovetto and named after his queen, Librantona. 

' The sequel indicates that this was only done temporarily, by magic illusion or glamour. 



Attilio, Atiglio, Ottilio or Tilio — for I cannot quite determine his name — is a 
buon folletto — a merry devil, ver>' much the same as Dusio, or a jolly Brownie in 
English folk-lore. But he is an awful tease, especially of servant-girls, to whom, 
however, he makes love and with whom he behaves quite like Dusio, sharing their 
couch, and in grateful return doing all the housework for them, and making them 
no end of presents. And it must be reluctantly admitted that despite his immoral 
character Attilio is very popular with them. 

GuiSEPPE Pitr6, who certainly cannot be accused of credulity remarks {Bib,^ 
vol. xviii., p. 163), that if we listen to what people of the lower class relate, in all 
honesty, we must remain uncertain whether these men and women are a prey to 
continual visions, or whether we ourselves are dreaming with our eyes wide open. 
For my own part, I firmly believe that in very credulous communities there arc 
people, especially girls, who honestly believe that they see, and sometimes hear 
and touch, supernatural beings. There are powers latent in us of which we have 
no comprehension whatever, and one of these is that of creating sensations, that 
is of reproducing or forming from Memory any sensations, be they of touch or 
taste, which we have once experienced. 

Unless this be true, I absolutely cannot explain many things which I met with 
among the believers in all these marvels. The strege^ with all their tricks, believe 
in their own art, and carry fetishes. And that there are girls who have Attilios and 
Dusios, and people who catch glances of Faflon in the vineyards at sunset and in 
the wine cellar at midnight, cannot be denied. So all life is for them a fine-land 
fairyland, or a witch and devil dream, according to their disposition or freedom 
from dyspepsia 

The following is the history and mystery of Attilio, as it was narrated to me 
on the 1st of January, 1 891, by a Maddalena from Rocca Casciano : — 

** Attilio is a good goblin, but he does everything he can think of to worry servant-girls. There was 
once a very pretty one, but she had harsh and exacting padroni " (superiors — master or mistress). '* Well, it 
happened that every day for three days, when the poor girl had cooked the dinner, and gone to spread the 
table, she found on returning that all the food had been overturned and scattered about. The maid wept 
bitterly, but she did not know what to do. Was she scolded ? — indeed she was, till she was almost mad. 

'* But when the dinner was ruined on the third day in the same manner, the master and mistress were 
iuiti arrabiati. Then they said that they were tired of going out to the trcUioria to dinner, and that she 
must do the best she could a rifare to dress up the remains. So she went into the kitchen, sorrowfully 
enough, and felt more sorrowful still when she looked over the wreck, and saw how little could be made of it. 
When all at once she heard the sweetest voice close by her sing these words : — 


" * Dimmi a me Attilio, 
Se ami Attilio, 
Perche se mi ami, 
II pranzo sara gia pronto.* 

*' And as she stood amazed and speechless, lo there stood before her the most beautiful young fellow 
she had ever seen in all her life. He was dressed in old style with long stockings, and velvet tunic, with 
long curKng golden locks and a little velvet cap with a white feather, and the maid felt as if she could fall 
down and worship him, he was so elegant and stylish." And what he sang was in English : — 

** * Say you love Attilio, 
For his love is steady. 
And if you will love me 
Dinner shall soon be ready.' 

" To which the girl, quite enraptured, could only answer, * Si — si — yes, indeed ! * Then Attilio sang : — 

' ** * Attilio son io, 

Ed io* bisogna d'amare 
E tu sei quella, 
Chi mi ai ispirato 
Tanto amore.' 

(" * I am Attilio, 

My heart for love doth call ; 
And thou art the beauty 
Who inspired it all.') 

** You may suppose that the girl was pleased. And he sang on : — 

" * Si ti amo 

£ ti amo tanto ; 

Siei tu mi ami 

Sono Attilio. 
£ sono un spirto folletto ! ' 

(** ' If thou wilt love me 
I'll come at thy call ; 
All because I love thee, 
For I am Attilio, 
The merriest sprite of all.') 

**When lo ! at a touch the dinner was all right again, and when the girl served it Xht padroni said 
they had never enjoyed such a nice meal. And every day Attilio did most of the work and was always 
with her, and she could see him though he was invisible to every one else.'* 

It is remarkable that while in all the Oriental and German or French mediaeval 
tales it is a knight or favoured man who wins the love of a spirit, the Italian 
rather give the fairy lovers to girls. This is a very curious point in folk-lore. 


The Dusio and Faun, and every one of the prototypes of Robin Goodfellovv aftd 
Puck, and the House-Brownie are represented as frolicking sprites, always mis- 
leading girls. In the North, under chaster influences, these wanton sprites soon 
sobered down into very moral beings, not going beyond boyish mischief. But 
in Italy nothing has changed, and so they still remain the same rogues among 
the girls which they were even while satyrs hopped about in the woods, and 
lemures prowled near tombs and witches took out men's hearts — and people 
were all so happy ! 

Attilio is certainly here a lar familiaris^ a spirit of the fireplace, a sprite 
who ever since the days of Tarquin and Tanquil has seduced the servant-maid in 
Tuscan families, even as he seduced Ocris, " she who waited on the table " of yore 
He is in the kitchen and he cooks the dinner, and is altogether of the fireplace 
Of his existence I have but a single authority or witness. He corresponds alto- 
gether to the French Lutin, 

La BELLA Marta. 
{La Madre del GiomOy or Motfur of the Day,) 

*' Nam et Romulus post mortem Quirinus factus est, et Leda Nemesis, et Circe Marica, et Ino, postquam 
se precipitavit in Mare, Lucothea, Mater que Matuta." — Lactantius, Div. InsHtut. cU falsa Religione^ lib. 
i., cap. 21. 

By far the most prominent character in the popular mythology of Tuscany, 
or of that which is not Catholic, is La bella Marta^ also called Madre del Giomo^ 
or the Mother of the Day. I was at first misled by the name into believing that it 
was Saint Martha confused, as are Saints Antony and Simeon, with old heathen 
deities. But I soon found that she had nothing in common with the Martha of 
the Bible, nor the one of Roman Catholic hagiology whose image conquering the 
Tarascon I copied in the cloister at Aries in 1846. I have, indeed, very little 
doubt that this beautiful Martha is a transformation of the ancient Mater Matuta^ 
in which I am guided not so much by the resemblance of name as by the fact 
that she has as Beinahme, or attribute, that of delgiorno, " of the day." 

*' There was," writes Muller, "in the haven Pyrgoi, the great and richly endowed temple of a god- 
dess who was generally called by the Greeks Leukothea. ... It was doubtless the honoured Mater Matuta, 
worshipped since the time of Servius in Rome in the Volscican land and also in Etruria. The Greek and 
Roman antiquaries classed the two as one. However, in Rome this Mater Matuta was regarded much 
more as a goddess of the morning than as of the sea, for her name clearly means th^ Mother of the Day, 
and when the Greeks translated it to Leukothea, or white goddess, they may have thought more of early morn- 
ing light than on the white foam of the sea. The mother of the light of day could readily be regarded as the 
deity which led man'to daylight ; for which reason, as it would appear, Strabo called her Eileithyia. Accord- 
ing to this the goddess of Pyrgoi was one of the dawn, and of mankind." 


The Bella Marta of Tuscany dwells in forests or fields, and, though a spirit 
of the day, is worshipped by night. This, however, is to be explained by the 
fact that all " spirits " are connected with the old religion, now called witchcraft, 
and that its rites are conducted in secrecy and obscurity. Martha is favourable 
to lovers and conjugal love. The following incantation, which tells its own 
story, indicates clearly as can be the fact that the sylvan gods are still 
literally worshipped like saints, and are not merely evoked like goblins. A wife 
or girl who is jealous of her lover goes by night to the most beautiful garden 
to which she has access, and kneeling pronounces — 

The Prayer to La bella Marta. 

'* Bella Marta ! Bella Marta ! Bella Marta ! 
Tu sei bella come una stella, 
lo ti vengo a rimirare, 
£ da te mi vengo ad inginnochiare 
Per poter ti meglio pregare. 
La mezza notte e ora suonata, 
E da te sono inginnochiata, 
In mezzo ad un bel giardino, 
Che tu Marta Bella ne sei regina, 
lo ti porto un fazzoletto 
In una punta troverai, 
I capelli del mio amor 
E tu bella Marta fannccio 
Che vuoi, purche il mio bene 
Tu faccia tribolare, 
E mio marito tu lo faccia diventarc, 
E che altra donna non possa mai amare ; 
Se questa grazia mi farai, 
Tutte le sere una candela 
Accesa tu Tavrai, 
Questa grazia certo tu mi ai fatto, 
Bella Marta ti ringrazio ; 

In English : 

*' Beautiful Martha 1 Beautiful Martha ! Beautiful Martha 
Thou art beautiful as a star. 
I come to behold you once more, 
Once more to kneel before you, 
That I may adore you better. 
Midnight has struck, 
I am kneeling before you ; 
Kneeling in a fair garden, 
Where thou, beautiful Martha, art queen. 
I bring thee a handkerchief; 


In a comer thou wilt find 
• The hairs of my beloved, 
And thou, oh Martha, cause 

What thou wilt that my trouble may pass to my good, 
Cause him to marry me, 
May he never love other women ; 
Grant me this grace. 
And thou shalt have 
Every evening a lighted candle. 
This thou wilt surely grant me^ 
Beautiful Martha, I thank thee I " 

In the next incantation La Bella Marta is distinctly invoked from hell. I do 
not think that she is at all popularly regarded as infernal or evil, but that this 
was done to distinctly distinguish her from the saints — a matter which is strictly 
observed among the sorcerers. And as the priests have always taught the people 
that all spirits not sanctioned by the Church arc devils, it indicates great con- 
stancy to the customs of their ancestors that the peasants continue to adore them 
even as infernal. 

The Invocation to La bella Marta by Night. 

** For this you should go into a wood or forest at midnight and look at a star, and say : — 

*' ' Buona ^notte o Donna Marta, 

Non chiamo la Marta di casa del Farad iso, 

Ma chiamo quella di casa dell* inferno. 

Prenditi dei panni belli 

Alia presenza de . . . 

Prima mi era tanto amico, 

Ora mi e tanto nemico, 

Amici e ncmici, 

Tutti gli sembrino brutta gente, 

Fuor che io la sua Stella rilucente, 

A Stella Stella da levante oscie, 

Da lui portante : 

Cinque dita per lui io batto al muro. 

Cinque anime io scongiuro. 

Cinque preti, cinque frati, 

Cinque anime dannate, 

All anima, alia vita 

Del tal. . • • 

In vita ne anderete, 

In pensiero la porteretc. 

Per la barba e capelli Io piglierete. 

Col pensiero da me la strascinerete ; 

Se questo mi farcte, 

Tre segni mi darete, 



Porta picchiare, 

Cane abbiare, 

Unno fistiare; 

Se questo mi farai, 

Tre segni mi darai ! ' " 

Or in English : — 

*' Good evening, O Lady Martha ; 

I do not call thee Martha called of heaven, 

I call upon the Martha named of hell. 

Take these fine cloths 

In the presence of . . . (here the name is given). 

Once he was so much my friend, 

Now he is so much my foe : 

May enemies and friends 

All seem the same to him 

Save me, his shining star. 

I beat five fingers for him on the wall. 

Five souls do I conjure, 

Five priests, five friars. 

Five damned souls, 

Into the soul, into the life 

Of . . . 

May they pass into the life ! 

Bear this into his thoughts. 

Drag him by beard and hair, 

Drag him by remembrances of me ! 

If you will do this for me, 

Three signs you will give me — 

A knocking at the door, 

A dog Ixirking, 

A man whistling. 

Should*st thou favourable be, 

These three signs thou*lt grant to me! 


This is considered as a very serious, terrible, and powerful incantation or 
imprecation. The looking steadily at a star connects Martha apparently with 
Mater Matuta or Leucothea, the goddess of light, and Marta of the Day, for 
this star I suppose is Venus or the Morning Star. There is a portion of this 
incantation which occurs in others. This is the invoking several fives of priests 
and devils to enter into the soul and life of the one banned. This, both as 
regards a category of numbers and calling on the spirits to enter into the life 
and soul and body of some one, corresponds precisely to what is found in 
Chaldaean spells. 


A Paracelsian, or almost any writer of the sixteenth century, would have 
recognised in this regarding the star an invocation of the astral spirit, especially 
as it is mysteriously connected with ordering spirits to possess a certain person. 
I do not doubt that there are in it strange relics of ancient beliefs ; one thing 
is certain, it is regarded as very powerful by the witches, who recite it with deep 
feeling. And it is remarkable how passionately this witch spirit manifests 
itself when seriously relating spells or even while writing them down. 

Bella Marta appears in one narrative as one of the benevolent witches 
of Benevento, and also as a dryad. 

Bella Marta and the Young Contadino. 

" Once there was in Benevento a great tree — o sia una quercia — probably an oak, in which there was 
a cavity. The peasants passing by it often saw a very beautiful woman, who disappeared they knew not 

*' But there was one young man who, moved by curiosity, said : * I will come here early, and I will follow 
the lady, and find out where she dwells.' So he went to the wood, and quietly waited till she appeared, and 
then went after her till she came to the great oak and entered it as if it were a door. 

" And then he also stepped in after, and lo, he found himself in a great and splendid palace ! One might 
have walked three days in it from room to room without entering a new one — camminando ire giomi^ nan si 
sarebbe mtUfinilo digirart — and all of marvellous beauty. 

'* And so the peasant stood amazed. 
As on the wondrous scene he gazed. 
When entering the oak-tree there, 
He ibund a palace wondrous fair : 
He knew not where to turn his feet, 
To forward go or back retreat 

*' When all at once a small white hand was laid on his shoulder, and a soft sweet voice was heard saying, 
* Welcome ! ' And turning, he saw the beautiful lady of the forest whom he had followed, and she said : 
' Be not afraid, I welcome thee, and will make thee happy, for thou art a good youth. And I am the Bella 
Marta. Co thou and play, and always win, and when thou wilt have anything, pronounce this spell : — 

•• * Bella Marta ! bella Marta I bella Marta ! 
Sei pill bella d'una santa 
Al albero tuo vengo a pregare, 
Se una grazia mi vuoi fare, 
Se questa grazia mi farai, 
La mia padrona tu sarai, 
Qualunque casa mi chiederai, 
Bella Marta tu Tavrai.' 

" * Lovely Martha, this I vow. 
Fairer than any saint art thou. 
Here I stand before thy tree, 
Grant, I pray, a grace to me, 


And thou my patron ever shalt be, 
And if there's aught beneath the sun 
Which I can do, it shall be done 
For thee, thou ever lovely one.' 

" Qalunque cosa mi chUderai — hella Afarta tu Cavrai, So, whenever you see a great oak in the forest, 
and repeat to it this incantation, you will do well.*' 

Here Marta is unquestionably a dryad, and the contadino is Rhcecus. 
Rhoecus was a great player — it was because he was absorbed in a game of 
draughts that he beat the bee who told the nymph who blinded the boy who cut 
down the tree which fell on the youth who had such a passion for gambling. 

This may be all guess-work and pot-shot hunting or point-blank firing, but 
here in Tuscany the spirit of the olden time is still alive, and I am writing in sight 
of olive-trees and crumbling towers of the Middle Ages, and these stories of 
Rhoecus and the fair Martha, and the mystic oak, seem, I will not say more 
credible, but more connected and intelligible than they would in the North. 

In the year 1846, in Florence, an English gentleman who had passed most 
of his life in Italy, consulted me gravely and seriously as to what numbers of 
several which he had chosen would win in a lottery. This spirit of play and 
chance and of inspiration connected with it enters deeply here into all Italian 
life, as it did of yore. Therefore I am not astonished that it was the first thought 
of the beautiful nymph. She knew her man. 

It is worth noting that in Sicily the Mother of Light is invoked when salt is 
spilt (Pitr6, Bib,y vol. iv., p. 144) — 

"Matri di lu lumi, cugghitivillu vui." 

La bella Marta is invoked when three girls, always stark-naked, consult the 
tarSco, or cards, to know whether a lover is true or who shall be married. This is, 
indeed, connected with the two incantations already given. According to Pitr6, 
Saint Martha is one of those who are sometimes consulted in sorcery. Thus 
Archbishop TORRES {Ricordi di Confessori, &c. ; PiTRE, Biky vol. iv., p. 148) 
excommunicates " those who utter prayers which are not approved, or even 
disapproved of by the Holy Church, to bring about lascivious and dishonest love, 
and such are the prayers falsely attributed to Saint Daniel, Saint Marta, Saint 
Helena, and the like." The Mater Matuta, or Mother of the Dawn — that is, 
Venus — may very well have been the patroness of lovers and the Donna del 
GiomOy but it is difficult to connect the Martha of the Bible or the Provencal 
conqueror of the Tarascon with any such aiding and abetting of amours (to say 


nothing of card-playing or divination) as we find in this Queen of Beauty and 

As regards the three girls meeting to divine who shall be married, I think it is 
Dion Cassius who remarks as regards divination by means of ashes, " Vel cum 
aliquem tres personas cogitare jubet, quibuscum matrimonii inire optet, tum tres 
ducunt sulcos in cinere " (" When three meet to find out whom they are to marry, 
they draw three lines in the ashes"). This confirms in the main the antiquity of the 
rite. The reader will find more as regards this in the chapter on Divination by 

It may be observed that in the last incantation Bella Marta is addressed 
as being " fairer than any saint." Here the Romagnola stregeriay or witchcraft, 
which is utterly heathen and always jealous of Roman Catholic influence, shows 

The festivals of the Mater Matuta, which were widely spread in Italy, were 
called Matralia or Martralia, may give some clue to the modern name of 
Marta. But I repeat here that I at first attached no significance to the 
resemblance of the word Martha or Marta to Mater, though there is absolutely 
no reason why it may not have been derived frorti the latter, just as " pattering," 
or talking slang has been conjectured to have come from pater in the pater- 
noster. But I have since found that M. L. F. Alfred Maury, in Les F^es du 
Moyen Age^ had the same idea as to a perfectly analogous conception. He 
writes : — 

"Les epithetes donnas sans cesse aux f^es, sont celles de bonnes, bonnes 
dames, bonnes et franches pucelles. Ces qualifications ne sont ^videmment que 
la traduction du titre de bonce donn^ aux parques, plutdt sans doute par anti 
phrase que par reconnaissance, et de puellce attribu6 aussi bien aux nymphes 
qu'aux fata. Le nom de Matte donn6 k une f6e c^lfebre d'Eauze, pour laquelle 
on avait reproduit la fable du Minotaure, semble venir du mort mater abr^ge." 

On this name Fraser ( Tlu Etruscans) has the following : — 

" Max Miiller also speculates {Science of Languages^ vol. ii., p. 152) on the derivation of matu and 
maiuite. lie says : ' From this it would appear that in Latin the root man, which in the other Aryan 
languages is best known in the sense of thinking, was at a very early time put aside, like the Sanskrit 
hidhj to express the revived consciousness of the whole of Nature at the approach of the light of the 
morning, unless there was another totally distinct root peculiar to Latin expression of that idea.' " 

Was this root possibly fnat ? It is worth observing that Tertullian observes 
that the Etruscan Venus was called Murtia {vide Dennis, Cities of Et,, vol. i., 
p. 58). And as Bella Marta is called the most beautiful of the spirits, is asso- 


ciated with cards, and is identified with the morning star, it seems probable 
that she is a form of Aphrodite or Venus. 

Diana and Herodias. 

( T/ie Queens of the Witcfus in Italy ^ 

*' Horsii dimmi, o buona Strega, che vuoi dire che non andavi a questi balli e giuochi di Diana o 
di Herodiade, ovvero si come le chiamate, a quelli de la Donna ? " — La Strega di Pico della Mirandda, 

" Hecate trium potestatum numen est. Ipsa est enim Luna, Diana Proserpina." — Servius. 

It is remarkable that while witchcraft was regarded in later times among 
Northern races as a creation of Satan, it never lost in Italy a classic character. 
In this country the witch is only a sorceress, and she is often a beneficent fairy. 
Her ruler is not the devil, but DiANA, with whom, as I shall show, there 
is associated HERODIAS. The latter, as presiding at the dances of the witches, 
was naturally connected with the Herodias of the New Testament, but there 
was an older Herodias, a counterpart of Lilith, the first wife of Adam, by whom 
she became the mother of all the minor devils or goblins. 

It is evident that in this capacity Herodias was confused with Diana. The 
latter had been as Hecate the ruler of all the witches, while Lilith-Herodias 
was the same among the Jews. There is a passage in Odericus Vitalis (born in 
England in 1075 — Hist. EccL v. 556) which illustrates this, that Diana was parent 
or protectress of goblins. It is as follows : — 

" Delnde Taurinus fanum Dianse intra vit. 2Uibulon que coram populo visibilem adstare coegit, quo 
viso ethnica plebs valde timuit. Nam manifeste apparuit eis sethiops niger et fuligo, barbam habens 
prolixam et scintillas igneas ex ore mittens. . . . Daemon adhuc in eadem urbe degit et in variis frequenter 
formis apparens, neminem laedit. Hanc vulgus Gobelinum appellat." 

(**Then Taurinus entered the temple of Diana and com]x;lled Zabulon to appear visibly before the 
people, who, being seen, was greatly dreaded by the heathen folk. For he plainly showed himself as a 
black, grimy Ethiopian, having a full beard and emitting sparks of Bre from his mouth. The demon went 
forth often in the same town, appearing in many forms, yet injured no one. The common people called 
him Goblin^ and declare that by the merits of Saint Taurinus he was withheld from doing harm.") 

Here we have the Goblin as the familiar spirit of the temple of Diana, the 
witch-mother, just as the Jews declared that goblins were the children of Lilith- 
Herodias. How it was that the Shemitic myth came to unite with the Graeco- 
Roman is a matter for investigation. That it existed is proved by the testimony 
of several old writers. 

In the Damonomagie of HORST (18 18), a writer who was far beyond his 
time, I find the following: — 


"In the indictments of witches it is generally stated that , the party accused, acted with" 

(worshipped) "Diana and Herodias. It is very remarkable that we find this among the declarations of 
public Church council — that of Ancyra in the middle of the fifth century — ^just as in later witch-trials. It 
was asserted that certain women imagined that they flew by night through the air with Diana and Herodias. 
But as this was spoken of at the Council of Ancyra as a well-known thing, the belief must be much older, 
and I do not doubt that there exist much earlier historical records of this, which are unknown to me." 

Paulus Grillandus, in his Treatise on Witc/tes (1547), a great authority 
in its time, speaks several times to the same effect, that witches — putant Dianam 
et Herodiam esse veras deas — " think that Diana and Herodias are true goddesses, 
so deeply are they involved in the error of the pagans." And he deduces all 
the evil of their ways from this false and heathenish beginning — ex qua omnes alii 
errores et illusiones sticcessive dependent cum credant illas Dianam et Herodiadem 
esse veras deas. In which he very inconsistently ignores the fact that he has 
elsewhere declared Satan to be sole master of the entire sisterhood. 

Jerome Cardanus {De Subtilitatey 1. 19), in describing an altogether 
diabolical evocation by a sorcerer of his time {Quoties veneficus ille rem non 
divinam sed diabolicam facturus esset) says no word of the devil whatever, but 
represents Hecate, or Diana, as the leading spirit {Execratur illis precibuSy 
Hecate dictante^ primum adorandam^ &c.). That Diana-Hecate was Queen of the 
witches in classic times is known from many authors ; also that she was invoked 
in all chthonicy dark, or nocturnal sorcery. She was compared, as the goddess 
of the moon, to a cat which chases the star-mice. Herein she was like Bast of 
Bubastis, the cat-goddess of Eg}'pt ; and Freya, of the North, whose car is 
drawn by cats, is clearly a Norse Diana. What is remarkable, and to my 
purpose, is that while witches in Italy are supposed to do harm like Canidia of 
yore, they do it simply as sorceresses. The Catholic Church imposed on the 
popular belief in witchcraft much that was foreign to it, in Christian diabolism, 
and yet it is most remarkable that even to-day Diana, and not Satan, is the 
leader and ruler of Italian witches. 

And there are many points in this popular belief which are much more 
ancient than Christianity. Thus in Venice, as in Florence, witchcraft is not at 
all a result of a compact with the devil, but a peculiar endowment, which may 
be transferred, even by a trick, to an innocent person. I will illustrate this 
with a story which I heard told in good faith in 1886 as having happened in 
Florence, and which has already appeared in my book on Gypsy Sorcery: — 

"There was a girl here in the city who became a witch against her will. And how? She was ill in 
a hospital, and by her in a bed was una vecchia ammalata gravamente^ e non poteva morire — an old woman 
seriously ill, yet who could not die. And the old woman groaned and cried continually, • Oimi! muoio! 


A chi lasciS? Nan diceva che^ (* Alas, I die! To whom shall I leave ') But she did not say what. 

Then the poor girl, thinking, of course, she meant property, said : * Lasdate d me — son tanto povera / ' 
(* Leave it to me — I am so poor'). At once the old woman died, and la povera giovana se S travato in 
eredita della strcghoneria (the poor girl found she had inherited witchcraft). 

"Now the girl went home to where she lived with her mother and brother. And having become a 
witch, she began to go out often by night ; which the mother observing, said to her son : * Qualche volta 
iu troverai tua sorella colla paticia grassa^ (*Some day you will find your sister with child*). * Don't think 
such a thing, mamma,' he replied. * However, I will find out where it is she goes.' 

"So he watched, and one night he saw his sister go out of the door sullo pufito della mezza-noite 
(just at midnight). Then he caught her by the hair and twisted it round his arm. She began to scream 
terribly, when — ecco ! — there came running a great number of cats {e cominciarofto h miolare^ e fare un 
gran chiasso) they began to mew and make a great row, and for an hour the sister struggled to escape, 
but in vain, for her hair was fast, and screamed, while the cats screeched, till it struck one, when the cats 
vanished, and the sorella was insensible. But from that time she had no witchcraft in her and became a 
buona donna, or a good girl — come era prima — as she had been before." 

There is nothing of a compact with Satan in this — it is a witch of Diana, 
bound to the spell of the moon, one of the cats of the night. In the Venetian 
stories a witch loses all her power if she is wounded and spills a drop of blood, 
or even if detected. It is true enough that the monks imported and forced into 
popular Italian superstition strong infusions of the devil. Yet with all this, in 
the main, the real Italian witch has nothing to do with Satan or a Christian 
hell, and remains as of yore a daughter of Diana. There is something almost 
reviving or refreshing in the thought that there is one place in the world — and 
that in papal Italy itself — where the poison of diabolism did not utterly prevail. 

There are in the treatise on the Magic Walnut Tree of Benevento, by P. 
Pipernus (Naples, 1647), several passages in reference to Diana as Queen of the 
Witches, one of which is curious as it seems in a manner to identify Lamia with 
Lilith and Diana. It is to the effect that the witches who of yore seduced youths 
to their death, were the same with Lamia — a Lilith hebraeOy whence the Empusae, 
Marmoliciae or Lares and Lemures, appearing on one foot in various figures dedi- 
cated to Diana — in variis figuris Dianae dedicatis. But Elias Schedius (see Dis 
Germanis, Amsterdam, 1648), has with great industry brought together from many 
sources, Hebrew and others, strong proof that Diana was identical with Lilith, 
the two being identified in the Roman Lucina : — 

" Tu Lucina volentibus 
Juno dicta puerperis 
Dicta lumine Luna.'' 

(Catullus Epigr., 35.) 

Luna meaning here, Diana. 

Another singular remark is to the effect that there were as communities of 


witches in ancient times the Eriphiae, from Eriphia, the Michaleiae, from Michala, 
Hecateiae, Medeae Circeae, Thessalae, in Sicilia Cyclopas Lestrygonas and 
Herodiades — " communiori vocabulo in aliquibus regionibus nuncupantur ex 
Idumaea Herodiade prope Jordani flumen habitante, choreis, ludisque venereis 
effuse fruente, quae multos et multas ad suum convictum trahebat, Dianae 
ludorum memorans." In another passage Pipernus conjectures that there was 
a Herodias earlier than the one who was the cause of the death of Saint John. 

In the Slavonian spells and charms, which are generally very ancient, and of 
Oriental origin, Lilith appears the same as Herodias. She has twelve daughters 
who are the twelve kinds of fever. This arrangement of diseases, or evil spirits, 
into categories of sevens, twelves, &c., is found in the Chaldaean magic as given by 
Lenormant All things duly considered, I agree with Pipernus that there was a 
Herodias long before the lady of the New Testament who danced Herod off his 
head and the head off Saint John. 

In regard to which transaction I marvel that I have never yet seen it treated 
by any writer from a modern society- Christian practical point of view. Suppos6 a 
lady, an intelligent, accomplished widow, who had a good thing of it as wife of the 
governor-general of — say Cathay. The governor dies and his brother succeeds to 
the appointment, and marries the widow (a thing actually commanded in the Old 
Testament, and a common custom in the later time), or it may be the fraternal 
divorced wife. Uprises a clergyman of a new sect, with eccentric new views, who 
has tremendous influence among the people, and informs the governor that his 
marriage is illegal. And then fancy the feelings of Herodias! On one hand, 
divorce — perhaps death or poverty — with a charming daughter just coming out ; 
on the other, a prophet of the wildest description. And it was considered to be 
such a remarkably natural, trifling, and commonplace thing in those days to put 
anybody to death who was in your way, if you had the power to do it — just as 
Calvin did with Servetus when the latter got in his way, or as some millions 
of heretics were disposed of — some for their money — by Mother Church. And 
so Herodias did what I believe a very great majority of worldly-minded High 
or Low Church Christian matrons and mammas would do to-day under the same 
circumstances — if they could — and put Saint John out of the way. 

What I most wonder at in this story is, who was this Herodias — what was her 
blood, what were her " havings," or belongings ? There is nothing whatever, after 
all, in this story of commonplace revenge to account for her being taken up and 
made to occupy the position of joint-queen with Diana of an immensely widely- 
spread confederacy of sorcerers and witches. Above all, how came it that her 
daughter, presumably a Roman or Jewish young lady, who had been respectably 



brought up, danced a gypsy can-can pas seul before Herod and his court? The 
mediaeval writers have it that she " tombelede," or tumbled, i.e,, threw flip-flaps, 
and " made the wheel " (as Pocahontas used to do for the common soldiers in 
Virginia — as I have read), but then they knew nothing about it. Or was she 
perhaps really one of those Syrian-Hindoo-with-a-touch-of- Persian dancers — 
actually gypsies — who in those days strayed about to every corner of the Roman 
empire ? 

There were mixed marriages in those days, even as there are now, and there 
lives at present in England a lady with a very great title, who was once a dancing 
Hungarian gypsy. One of these bcUlerine might have wedded Herod's brother. 
Assuredly the dance which Miss Herodias executed was not the holy Chagag which 
David danced before the Lord (2 Sam. vi.), the sight of which had, however, such 
an effect on the king's daughter Michal. And yet even the holy Cfiagag was 
considered a vulgar performance — Princess Michal called it shameless — from 
which we may infer what kind of a wasp or busy-bee performance the after- 
supper tipsy-chorean bayadere posing of Mademoiselle Erodiade must have been ! 
No, it was not the Chagag which Rabbi DAVID KiMlCHi says was danced to the 
singing of , the forty-seventh Psalm, but a very different kind of a gag indeed, 
and in faster time. 

But admitting that there was — 'tis a mere conjecture, my cousin — a strain of 
Syrian-gipsy — witch and devil-blood in these Herodiades — I can well understand 
how the whole sisterhood of fortune-tellers and sorceresses took up the story, and 
made the most of it — how one of their kind had bewitched a tetrarch, and played 
Lola Montez queen in a kind of Hamlet drama. 

The dance was in ancient days something so wild and passionate, so bewilder- 
ing and maddening, that we of the present day can form no conception of its real 
nature. I can remember when Taglioni, and Ellsler, and Carlotta Grisi, and 
Cerito turned the heads of the world, as no dancer has ever done since. Before 
them others had maddened the multitude still more, so it went back in compound 
ratio till we come to the witch-times. Now, whether witches and wizards ever 
practised sorcery or not — whatever that was — one thing is certain, that bands of 
male and female sinners believing themselves to be inspired by the devil — and I 
doubt not being very much inclined to raise him in a general way — went forth by 
moonlight, armed with sundry brooms, divers pitchforks, certain goats, et cmtera^ 
and did drink, dissipate, and dance all night. 

Dance! I should think so! Pr^^TORIUS says: "But the dances of the 
sorcerers make people mad and raging^ so that the women lose the fruit of their 
bodies.". Now it may be natural for certain females everywhere in every country 


to dance naked and mad — even among those in the first court circles — but I must 
declare that the traditions of antiquity all point to a certain Syrian- 1 ndo- Persian 
origin for all this. MoSES Maimond tells us that when the sun rose the daughters 
of the ancient Persians danced naked, singing to music. Delancre, writing 
of witches, observed that witches did the same as Persian girls at sacrifices in this 
respect Now to this day the dancing women of India and Persia are of common 
stock and origin. Tradition says that a certain king of India once sent ten 
thousand dancers and musicians as a present to the king of Persia, and that 
they all turned out to be irreclaimable vagabonds. And all of these dancers in all 
times formed a close corporation. It was only professionals who danced. So that, 
taking everything into consideration, I think it possible, if not probable, that 
Herodias, mother and daughter, belonged to the very ancient if not honourable 
company of witches and gypsies, and that their name, while coinciding with that 
of Herod, had been attached in earlier times to a form of Lilith. And it is not 
impossible that the chance coincidence of this name of Herodias with that of the 
earlier witch-queen, had as much to do with raising the Idumean damsel to 
celebrity among the witches as her share in the decapitation of Saint John. For, 
justly considered, this latter gives us no reason at all why she should have been 
preferred to such position, while her bearing such a name would account for it all. 

There are many people in Italy, and I have met such, who, while knowing 
nothing about Diana as a Roman goddess, are quite familiar with her as Queen of 
the Witches. One day I had brought to me as an invaluable secret of witch-lore 
something which had been treasured up by the sisterhood for a long time. What 
was my astonishment to find that it was an old chemical trick, which, discovered 
by some disciple of Paracelsus or Scheele, became common in books of " natural 
magic '* in the last century, and was familiar to me in my tenth year in the Boys 
Own Book, This is simply a composition of nitrate of silver and mercury, or 
silver and mercury in aqua-fortis, which, when put into a flask, causes an incrusta^ 
tion like foliage, whence it is called the Tree of Diana. That name was enough 
for my innocent witches who, not doubting that it was a deep work of dark magic, 
had treasured it up accordingly, perhaps for generations, and gave it to me with 
the superscription : Albero di Diana — la Mga {magia) delle Streghe (The Tree of 
Diana, the magic mistress of the Witches). 

On one occasion I was given as a great find in the way of sorcery and witch- 
craft, some poetry which 1 soon found consisted of about one hundred and fifty 
lines from Ariosto. Truly it was full of supernatural diabolical description, but it 
was not exactly what I wanted. At which my friend who had written it out was 
very much astonished, declaring that as it was all about supernatural things she 


thought it must be all right And — " Dove diavolo avete pigliato tutto questo 
coglionerie ? " I asked in the words of Cardinal d'Este — " Where didst thou rake 
out this trash ? " " Ma SigtiorCy I got it from an old woman who had kept it for 
a long time as stregJwnerial^ ix,y magic. 

As regards Diana, it may be observed that in the Roman times she was 
specially worshipped by fugitive slaves, *' perhaps because they hid themselves in 
the forests." Thus it may be that the witches and wizards as outcasts inherited 
a certain predilection for her. As goddess of secrecy and of sorcery she would 
also be the patroness of those who shunned the day and intercourse with mankind. 
Witches, outlaws, broken men, runaway slaves, minions of the moon, and all the 
Children of the Night were under her protection, and it is pleasant to think that in 
ages when there was such enormous oppression of the unfortunate, that the victims 
had, if not a God, at least a goddess to whom they could pray. 

Offerings to Spirits. 

As the same spirits of rock and river, fountain, cavern, and forest, are believed 
in and invoked as in the earliest Tuscan time, so the same offerings continue to be 
made to them as of yore. And when asking for information on the subject, I 
promptly received several explanations or illustrations of what the auditors under- 
stood by votive gifts. It must be understood that these differ entirely in spirit 
and in form from anything which is given to saints. 

'* Yes. For instance, if a contadino passes by a grove or a rock where folUtti or fairies or spirits live, he 
will there put into the ground money or pins to please them, and say : — 

" * Questo lo sotterro 
Per far piacere 
Agli spirit! (o alle strep^e) 
Che ne potrebbero 
Avere bisc^a, 
E cosi a me 
Pure mi contra, 
Colla buona fortuna ! ' 

(** * These things I bury, 
That I may gratify 
Spirits or witches ! 
That they may never 
Such things be wanting ! 
Or go against me, 
Changing my fortune 
From good unto evil I *) 


*' Or it may be that he passes by a fountain or a stream, when he will throw his gift into it and repeat 
the same words, adapted to it." 

But I was further informed on the subject in these words : — 

"Offerings to spirits ox folietU? Si, When a spirit comes by night into a house and causes much 
annoyance as a nightmare, sitting on people's breasts, and stifling them, when, if they show fear, the foUetto 
will tear all the covering from them, pull them out of bed, and depart with a roar of laughter. 

" To prevent this, make him an offering. What he likes best is three sunflowers, laid outside on the 
window-sill. Then say : — 

** ' Metto questi tre girasoli 

Alia flnestra, perche lo spirito 

Non mi venga tormentare, 

Dove si trova il sole a girare, 

Se in casa mia vuol venire, 

Almeno non mi faccia ingrullire. 

La notte in pace mi faccia dormire ! ' 

(** * In the window sunflowers three 
I put ; and may the spirit be 
Here no longer to torment me. 
And with that I will content me, 
If so long as the sun goes round 
He may ne'er in my house be found ; 
Let at least his troubling cease. 
So that I may sleep in peace ! *) 

*' And when this is done and said, the spirit will cease from troubling — non potra pih dark noia — and 
the weary will be at rest." 

The next illustration is very curious : — 

'' Sometimes goblins and witches meet in groves or gardens, and should any one care to know who or 
what they are, let him watch from a window at midnight. And he will see forms assembling under the trees, 
with one who is capOy or their head, who gives orders. If they appear in human forms they are spirits who 
pass freely as they will, and therefore remain as they are. But if they are witches and wizards, they come in 
the shapes of goats, kids, moles, or other animals, because when they leave their homes they also leave their 
human forms asleep in their beds, even to their shirts, and so must assume the appearance of or become 

"Now, these witches do much harm by pulling up plants and breaking boughs to make beds for their 
love-making, and so the contadini^ or the owners of the gardens or groves, spread hay or leaves or herbs as an 
offering, and say while so doing : — 

" * Questa erba fresca per terra 
Voglio spandere perche le strege 
Vengono a riposare colPamante.' 

(** • I lay this grass upon the ground, 
So that if witches here are found 
They may comfortably rest, 
Each with him whom she likes l)est.') 


** And this is the power which they have, that if they assume the form of goats, they can take people who 
are not witches, be they gentle or simple, in their sleep, away to their witch-meetings, and so they choose the 
most beautiful youths and girls to make love with. Now, among the wizards and witches are even princes 
and princesses, who, to conceal their debauchery and dishonour, take the goat form and carry away partners 
for the dance, bearing them on their backs ; and so they fly many miles in a few minutes, and go with them 
to distant cities or other places, where they feast, drink, dance, and make love. But when dawn approaches 
they carry these partners home again, and when they awake they think they have had pleasant dreams. But 
indeed their diversion was more real than they suppose. 

•• But if they look about they will always find in their room some money, l)e it copper or silver, for this 
witch-money must always be paid. And when they find it, or any pins or needles, they ought to cast them 
all into a running river or current, for thus they will be freed (revenged on potrebbc esscre v€tideUa) from 

The object of laying sunflowers on the window-sill, according to ancient 
symbolism, is to detect or find out the offender ; that is to signify to him that he 
is found out or known. Thus, in accordance with this, Albertus Magnus 
informs us that if any man has been robbed, if he will sleep with sunflowers under 
his pillow, he will dream who was the thief For it is an emblem of the sun which 
shines on — that is, who sees and searches out — all things. And as an image of 
the day it frightens away spirits of darkness. 

The third illustration, while it apparently flies wide of the mark, is extremely 
valuable in really explaining one reason at least why coins and pins are thrown 
into fountains. And it is of very great importance as casting quite a new light on 
the cause of the transformation of witches into animals. For in all the many works 
which I have read on witchcraft I do not remember to have seen it explained why 
witches assume the shapes of animals. According to this probably ancient theory, 
their bodies — as Baptista Porta and many more believed — remain asleep while 
the soul goes forth, or else the witch-ride is only dreamed. According to my 
Romagnola authority, the witch-soul, for want of a better shape, enters into some 

And yet further. In the works of PR/ETORIUS and others I have met with 
mention of people who had often gone on goats to the Sabbat and returned, yet 
who had never been wizards or witches. There is a story in several books of a 
man who said he was wicked enough to have done so several times in his youth, 
but who had discontinued the practice. I confess that this puzzled me much, 
and often till I heard this explanation of it. Those who took the goat-ride were 
not wizards, but the mere dupes or victims of the stregoni. Still, they had enjoyed 
the frolic, and were willing to have such dreams again. What the basis for it all 
was I do not know, but incline to think that persons, while under the influence of 
opiates or narcotics, were taken to wild-dances, then dosed again and taken 
home, as happened to the shoemaker described by Shakespeare. 


IL Spirito del Scalding. 

URING the reign 
of Charles the 
Second it was 
often said in 
England that 
the women of 
Holland became 
pregnant simply 
from their habit 
of carrying and 
keeping under 
their petticoats a 
small receptacle, 
or hand-stove, in 
which burning 
charcoals were 
placed. These 
made of wood 
and tin, may still 
be seen among 
market • women 

in Philadelphia. The result of such pregnancy was a small elf or goblin, that is, a 

strange little creature of 6esh and blood. 


In Italy women carry a scaldinOy a receptacle exactly in the form of a basket, 
but made of glazed earthenware. It is filled with ashes and charcoal, and is so 
common that there are as many of them in Italy as there are inhabitants — at 
least, in the north. And as they are very often put under the garments next to 
the body, it is not remarkable that the idea that the very agreeable warmth would 
be impregnating should have occurred. It was known in earliest times, and 
Spenser has told us in the "Faerie Queene" how a beautiful lady, falling asleep, 
was exposed to the rays of the sun, which, entering her person, caused her to 
bear a child. 

The Tuscan, more poetical or more classically-minded than the Dutchman, 
believes that the hand-stove makes the donna indntay or enceinte^ but with a 
folletto or pretty airy fairy, the rule of whose life is " light come, light go," since it 
is but a short time in the womb, and escapes, or is born unnoted at night, vanishing 
unnoted, like air. 

When a girl or woman suspects that she has thus been made a madre^ or 
mother, should she desire to see her offspring she repeats the following lines : — 

" Folletto ! Folletto ! Folletto ! 
Che vole per Taria, 
Piu lesto che del vento, 
Tu fai per non farti vedere 
Da 'alcuno, ma io 
Che desidero di vederti 
Sono una persona 
Che tanto ti amo ; 
Sono la tua vera madre, 
Per cio mi raccomando 
Che tu ti faccia vedere 
AI me per una volta 1 " 

('* Spirit I Spirit ! Spirit ! 
Airy fairy light, 
Fleeter than the wind, 
Thou keepest from my sight, 
And from all ; but now 
Come unto my spell, 
Truly I am one 
Of all who loves thee well, 
Thy mother, too, I am. 
And that I may see 
What my child is like, 
Come, I pray, to me I ") 

So he Cometh in a dream, or it may be in reality — ^who knows ? Who knows 
anything of it all, or in what life they live who believe in these things ? Something 


must be seen or imagined, else how can these people maintain these fancies from 
age to age, from father to child, ever on. Or is all life a dream ? 

And yet how they can do it appears intelligible on reflection. When a man 
is not entirely absorbed by the life of cities, in factories, counting-houses, or 
" society," and when he is at home " in woodlands wild where the sweet birdes 
singe," then nature, or his instinct for companionship, makes him feel as if there 
were souls in trees, a spirit dwelling in the hearth, under the threshold, even in the 
scaldino of glowing coals. The poly pantheistic stage, when man was passing from 
the phase of making gods of every object, to that of feeling one spirit in all, must 
have been coeval with a somewhat greater development of social life, yet when out- 
of-doors, rural or wild life or nature still exerted a deep influence. In such a life 
we gladly surround ourselves with strange companions, and believe that nature, 
which is so wonderful and apparently inspired with life and thought as a whole, 
also exists in separate beings. Men do not reason this out in these words, but 
Red Indians or Tuscan peasants feel it and act in its spirit. 

While this spirit of nature still existed, SHAKESPEARE wrote under its inspira- 
tion, and artists painted, and all art came from it. And since it died out, what we 
TiTz// poetry and art are imitations of what they really did who lived in it. 

What is most curious as regards this having a child begotten by fire in such 
a familiar domestic manner is that the very oldest story of the kind in existence 
is Etruscan. The tale is told by DiONYS, Ovid, and Plutarch, and runs thus : — 

'* Tarquinius and his wife, the wise Tanaquil, were seated at their meal, while Ocris, the captive daughter 
of the king of Corniculum, waited on them. As she went to the fire to throw into it the usual offering to the 
Lar familiaris there came out of the flames a fascintun (phallus). Alarmed at this she told it to Tanaquil, 
who bade her dress herself in bridal array and sit on the hearth. She did so, and conceived from the heat, and 
bore a son, Servius TuUius. And it was said that when he once slept his hair appeared to be like flames." 

This is effectively in another form the story of the child begotten by the 
Scaldino. The reader will observe that Dusio, Cupra, Attilio or the lar familiaris 
who is the spirit of the fireplace, in these Tuscan tales, always seduces a maid- 
servant. And this suggests a remark which the reader would do well to bear in 
mind. It is that, taking them all together, one with another — modern popular 
Tuscan tales, spells, incantations, and observances or descriptions of spirits — ^and 
comparing them with what is given by Latin writers, we find the ancient con- 
tinually confirming the extreme antiquity of the modern. Be it a tract here, a small 
observance there, now an herb in an incantation, and anon a couplet in a charm, 
they continually interlace, cross, touch, and coincide. I find these unobserved 
small identities continually manifesting themselves, and they form a chain of 



intrinsic evidence which is as valuable to a truly critical scholar as any historical 
or directly traditional confirmation. That fire was a creature, or a living existence 
(as is still recognised by the Church of England) was believed in by all religions of 
all ages, as is illustrated by Schedius and Friedrich with a vast array of authorities. 
That it should as a spirit be capable of begetting spiritual children was a natural 
sequence. I think therefore that, all things duly considered, we have in the belief 
in the Scaldino a probably well-established continuation of the old Etruscan tale 
of the goblin of the fire and the fair queen's daughter, fallen to a servant-maid. 

It is worth remarking that in the Tomba Golini at Orvieto, as in Pompeii, a 
fascinum, or phallus, was depicted over the oven or fireplace, probably to signify the 
spirit of the fireside. 


I was astonished to find that the name Artemisia is known only as that of a 
Strega — here a vampire — who sucks the blood of the dead in their graves. This 
indicates some connection with Diana as a witch of the evil kind. The name was 
promptly recognised, but I could learn nothing more regarding her. Preller 
identifies Diana Artemis with Hecate. As to which as with all others, I leave it to 
the more learned to investigate, examine, prove or disprove to their heart's content, 
I only professing to record, as in every case, what was told me. 

Red Cap. 

" I^rd Foulis sat within his tower, 
And beside him old Red Cap sly ; 
* Now tell me thou sprite who art mickle of might, 
The death that I shall die. ' " 

Minstrelsy oj the Border, 

" Here is an ancient description of the dress of the faines : ' They wear a red conical cap ; a mantle of 
green cloth inlaid with wild flowers ; green pantaloons, buttoned with bobs of silk, and silver shoon. They 
carry quivers of arrow -slough, and bows made of the ribs of a man buried where ** three lairds " lands meet ; 
their arrows are made of bog-reed tipped with white flints and dipped in the dew of hemlock ; they ride on 
steeds whose hoofs would not ** dash the dew from the cup of a harebell." ' *' — Anonyvious. 

There are in the Romagna Tuscana a class of goblins or fairies who are almost 
identical with the Irish Leprachaun who possesses treasures which are yielded only 
under compulsion. I could not learn that the Italian elf has any other name than 
// Folletto colla Beretta- — the imp with the cap. He was described as follows : — 

RED CAP. 163 

" When mysterious noises and knocks or a rummaging sound are heard in your rooms by night, and you 
are sure it is made by unearthly visitors, prepare for them by putting a lighted lamp in the room, and covering 
it over with an earthen pot, but very carefully so that not a gleam can be seen. 

" Then when you hear a noise in the room, uncover the light as quickly as possible, and if goblins are 
there catch the cap from one if you can and say : — 

'* * La beretta ti ho portato via ! 
Ma non ti ho portato via, 
Ma la pace che piu non ti daro 
Se non mi dice prima 
Dov'e nascosto il tesoro.' 

Which is in Romagnola : — 

ft i 

A t'o porte via la bretta, 
Ma an to porte via la bretta ; 
A to porte via la pes, 
Che piu an te daro in ik 
Che tun ma vre det en dove 
Le piate e tesor I * 

(" * I have taken thy cap away, 
And yet 'tis not a cap I say, 
But thy peace which 1*11 not give 
Unto thee while thou dost live. 
Till thou tellst me, as thou*rt bid, 
Where a treasure now lies hid.') 

** Then the spirit, to redeem his cap, wll tell where a treasure is concealed." 

This is classic enough. " They knew in Italy," says Preller {Rbtnische 
Myt/iologie^ p. 488), " a class of spirits who knew where treasures were hidden, and 
who guarded them. They were called Inaibones^ and wore caps (the symbols of 
their hidden secret natures). If any one can steal these caps he can compel them 
to tell where these treasures are hidden " (Petronius, s. 38 ; see Grimm, Deuisc/te 
Mythologies 479), 

This elf with the red cap and^ a scanty shirt is common in Roman mural 
paintings and on Etruscan vases. He spread all over the world, unto Germany 
and the Scandinavian countries, even the Algonkin Indians of America got him 
from the Norsemen. But it is very probable that the Etruscans or their neighbours 
had him first of all. Which, however, I leave for more learned men to determine. 
It is, however, certain that the Red Indians and Romagnolo peasants are the only 
people at the present day who really believe in him as existing. 

It is not improbable that the goblin with the red cap is derived from the red- 
headed wood-pecker Picus, who was in the earliest times believed in Italy to be a 



sprite who guarded treasures, and sometimes, under compulsion, showed where they 
were hidden, as is shown in another chapter. All of which — as with everything 
else in this work — I submit as material only, the real value of which others must 

Preller assumes, quite as a matter of course, that the red-caps and other 

minor deities, or house-gob- 
lins of a frolicsome brownie 
character, belong rather to 
Teutonic and Celtic myth- 
ologies than to the Italian. 
Herein he quite forgets that 
though the world has through 
Grimm's fables or early per- 
sonal influences learned to 
associate these sprites with 
the North, yet that in reality 
written and authentic history 
shows them as familiar to 
early Latins centuries long 
before German or Celtic 
beliefs were, so to speak, 
ever heard of. According 
to David MacRitchie, the 
origin of all " wee folk " is 
to be sought in antecedent 
RED-CAP ON A ROMAN LAMP. dwarf races, driven out by 

larger and more vigorous people — a process which probably went on all over 
the world. This would not interfere with the creation of other personifications 
of manikins, such as the very obvious one which occurs to most children of 
treating the thumb and fingers as a kind of fairies, or believing that frogs and 
birds assumed dwarf human forms. As regards Red-cap, as I have already 
said, testimony seems to indicate that he is of Etruscan origin, and is a personi- 
fication of the red-headed wood-pecker ; that is, a small form of Picus or 

X tl 

The negroes and half-breeds in Missouri consider the red-headed wood-pecker a great sorcerer, who 
can appear either as a bird or as a red man with a mantle or cloak on his arm. He is supposed to be 
very grateful and very vengeful. He made the bat by putting a rat and a bird together. He sometimes 
bores holes in the heads of his enemies while they sleep and puts in maggots which keep them for ever 
restless or crazy.'* — Note by Mary A. Owen. 


The Italian house-goblins, like those of the North, are given to imitating 
sounds. One of the sixteenth-century writers tells us that the day before a 
party of merchants arrive at a country house the people dwelling therein often 
hear the Elves imitating the sound of scales rattling as if making weight, the 
ring of money, and all the circumstance of buying and selling. And it is 
very remarkable that, as one may sefe by the Etrtiscan Museum of Gori, the 
red-cap goblins of ancient Italy are sometimes represented with weights and 
scales and behaving like merchants. But in all countries they are given to 
holding fairs, as Christina Rossetti's " Goblin Market " bears witness. He who 
finds himself in such fairs may buy diamonds and pearls by the pound for a 
penny, but he must escape ere they close, or he will come to woes. And ere 
a visitor arrives his voice may be heard, and the night before a rain or a storm 
the little people make sounds as of a shower or the blowing of winds when 
all is still. 

'* What ripples and rapples 90 fast and near ? 
Is it the rain on the roof I hear? 
It is not rain, it is not hail, 
But the Elves and Witches who dance in a gale. 
First in a patter and then in a prance, 
That is the way the Elfin dance." 

A writer in the Philadelphia News sums up the different names by which 
the wee folk are known. These are " fairies, elves, elfe-folks, fays, urchins, 
ouphes, ell-maids, ell-women, dwarfs, trolls, norns, nisses, kobolds, duende, 
brownies, necks, stromkarls, fates, little wights, undines, nixes, salamanders, 
goblins, hobgoblins, poukes, banshees, kelpies, pixies, moss people, good people, 
good neighbours, men of peace, wild women, white ladies, peris, djinns, genii, 
and gnomes." 

Making allowance for mere synonyme, all of these are to be found in early 
Italian lore, and they still exist in the mountains. But in reality they may be 
found all the world over, be it in Eastern lands or in America. 

Of Sorcery in Ancient Art. 

{The Interlace, or Twining Serpents, Vines, and Knots, as believea in in Tuscany.) 

" Twist ye, twine ye, even so, 
Mingle threads of joy and woe. " 

Guy Mannering. 

" Pingue duos angues : pueri, locus est sacer." — Persius (sat. i. 113). 

There is a passage in Heine's preface to his Germany which must appeal to 


every collector of folk-lore. In speaking of the traditions and tales of the humbler 
rural folk he says : — 

" I have here given more than one of these which I myself heard by hearths 
in huts, narrated by some vagabond beggar or old and blind grandmother, but the 
strange, uncanny reflection which the flickering fire of twigs cast on the face of the 
narrator, and the beating of the hearts of the hearers who listened in happy silence 
I could not render, and these rustic, well-nigh barbaric stories when deprived of 
that lose their wondrous and secret charm." 

Heine had been, as we may gather from his life, perhaps half a dozen times in 
such scenes, and heard, it may be, about as many tales of the Grimm kind. I 
wonder what he would have written had he been for years almost constantly among 
gypsies and witches, especially the latter, and seen and felt to perfection the sur- 
vival of the strange wild classic strega, whose soul is still inspired with early Latin 
or Etruscan sorcery, and from whose inner life was ever and anon flashing out 
something far more uncanny and unearthly than all the flames of twigs which he 
had ever seen. Many a time have I been awed at these living dreams, these for- 
gotten visions of yore, incarnate in strange women, who spoke of an old, old faith, 
long in its grave, once held by a race whose very language is now as unknown, as 
their origin. And I avow that this has ever moved me as a sincere lover of 
antiquity as a real romance, without equal in this our age of prose. 

She was seated by the table on which was one of those simple, beautiful long 
brass lamps with three lights, such as have come down unchanged since the Roman 
time ; in her hands she held ^ scaldmo^ which was all the fire for warmth known to 
her ; in the window grew herbs of deeply mystical meaning, not for show but for 
sorcery, when I by chance asked her if people found many objects of antiquity 
where she dwelt. And reflecting an instant as usual — which always inspired a 
marvellously antique-wild expression which suggested classic art — she said : — 

'* MoUL Strangers come to us and dig up vases, black and yellow, which our ancestors made long ago. 
There at Cesena, for example. Cesena, is in the Romagna. Sometimes the contadini^ excavating the ground 
for a building, find medals as well as antique vases, thousands of years old. 

'* And these were all made for witches according to their belief, and all these things are of magic and 
witchcraft, for in those times all the land was full of witches. And the reason why they are found in secret 
places and old ruins and the like is this : When the priests came in, they would not let the witches be buried 
in the campo sanity because they said the witches and wizards were sconiunicati — excommunicated. 

'* So they arranged it to bury one another, and when one witch died the others interred her secretly in 
her own cellar or house ' with her vases and witch-medals, and all the things which she used in her art. And 
before dying she taught all her secrets to the others. And this is why it is we never find them buried in 

* As the Etruscan tombs were often exact copies of the homes of the departed, this idea would be very 
naturally formed by the peasantry. 


Christian burying grounds, and why we do find vases and very ancient medals in their graves, for these things 
are all of their own ancient belief, or for witchcraft, and so they could not be placed in the campo saniL 

** For in the old times witchcraft had a religion, and it was called la rdigiotte della stregoturia—ihz 
religion of sorcery — and what you see on the old vases are the names and portraits of witches and wizards of 
the oldcD time. And on them are the pictures of Tigna and Faflon and all other witches or magicians who 
became spirits." ' 

I have read of a man who had " foregone to be a Christian reality, and per- 
verted himself into a Pagan idealist." This was in a novel, but my friends were 
real Pagan survivals, and though the spirit fire had burned low, so that it smoul- 
dered in the ashes, and only now and then sent out a jet of flame, still it was 
marvellous to me— ^yea, awful — that through the ages such a glimmering had come 
down of a heathen faith outworn, and that women now live who speak of the 
Etruscan Jupiter and Bacchus as of deities whom a few still adore, and whose pic- 
tures are to be seen on ancient vases ! Though degraded to the humblest condition 
and fast fleeting, Stregoneria is still a belief, and not mere fragments of folk-lore or 
of ancient superstitions. Yes, the ceremonies and incantations, charms and amu- 
lets which I have so often seen practised or prepared, till they were to me as 
familiar things — all, as I have elsewhere shown, were of the same hoar antiquity. 

Heine could not give the flicker of the fire nor the beating of hearts ; 
what I would fain convey is the classically stern, almost terrible beauty which 
appears in the face of an old Italian witch when it is illuminated by an 
earnest thought, and the same beauty in the thoughts themselves. The reason 
why there seems to be so much light in an Italian smile, such intensity in 
the passion, even of peasants, allied to a certain indescribable picturesqueness, is 
because all their habits of thought and traditions have been derived for thou- 
sands of years from stages of society in which Art and F'aith in their most com- 
prehensive sense influenced every act of life. And though the Art no longer 
exists, the impulses which it created still live in blood and brains, and are trans- 
mitted by heredity — even as the water of a stream continues to leap and sparkle 
long after it has passed some mighty cataract. That was Art which inspired 
Etruscan vases, and jewellery, and mirrors ; not less artistic was the feeling which 
created deities, goblins, spiriti folletti^ and elves, with their lays and legends, and 
mystical cognate sorcery. P^aith without art is an egg not yet hatched ; art with- 
out faith is an empty egg-shell worth nothing — unless it be for some wizard, like 
Zola, to make a boat of to ride to the devil withal. These descendants of the old 

' The nakedness, the dancing anti wild revelry depicted on the Etrusco-Greek vases, with their satyrs, 
goblins, and winged lases and mysterious emblems or hierc^lyphs, would all very naturally suggest to the 
contadini magic and sorcery. Does not all this Greek beauty and joyousness seem even to us like a dream of 
fairyland — a Paradise ? 



Italians who have kept in simple faith their old superstitions, have also kept with 
them, unconsciously, the art which giveth life — and life is light and fire and feeling. 
This speaking of old Etruscan art made me think of serpents, and I asked if 
the peasants in le Romagne had any beliefs regarding them. 

*' Yes. They sometimes paint a serpent on the wall to keep away the evil eye or witch evils, and to bring 
good luck. But the head must be down and interlaced, and the tail uppermost." ' 

" And do interlaced serpents mean good fortune? *' 

" Ah, that is a well-known thing, and not as to serpents alone, but all kinds of interweaving and braiding 
and interlacing cords, or whatever can attract the eyes of the witches. When a family is afraid of witchery 
they should undertake some kind of lavori intrecciati — braided work — for witches cannot enter a house where 
there is anything of the kind hung up, as for instance, patterns of two or three serj^nts twining together, o 
altti ricavti^ or other kinds of embroidery,, but always of intertwining patterns. So in making shirts or 
drawers or any garments for men or women — camiccy municaide o vestiti — one should always in sewing try to 
cross the cotton (thread) as shoemakers do when they stitch shoes, and make a cross-stitch, because shoes 
are most susceptible to witchcraft (perche U scarpc sono qtulle piu facile a prendere le stregonerie). And when 
the witches see such interlacings they can do nothing, because they cannot count either the threads nor the 
stitches (ne ilfilo ne i puntt). And if we have on or about us anything of the kind they cannot enter because it 
bewilders or dazzles their sight {Ufa a bagliare la vista)^ and they are incapable of mischief. And to do this 
well {teitere il sistema) you should take cotton, or silk, or linen thread, and make a braid of six, seven, or 
eight columns, as many as you will — the more the better — and always carry it in your pocket, and this will 
protect you from witches. You can get such braids very beautifully made of silk of all colours in some shops ; 
and they keep them for charms against the evil eye." 

I took great pains to have this carefully recorded, for it is intimately con- 
nected with an interesting subject which possibly enters into the raison d'etre or 
real inspiration of all the most characteristic decorative art of all Europe, especially 
during the Middle Ages. In my work on Gypsy Sorcery the following passage 
occurs (page 98) : — 

** There is a very curious belief or principle attached to the use of songs in conjuring witches or in averting 
their own sorcery. It is that the witch is obliged, willy-nilly, to listen to the end what is in metre— an idea 
founded on the attraction of melody, which is much stronger among savages and children than with civilised 
adults. Nearly allied to this is the belief that if the witch sees interlaced, or bewildering and confused pat- 
terns, she must follow them out, and by means of this her thoughts are diverted or scattered. Hence the 
serpentine inscriptions of the Cells and Norsemen, and their intertwining bands which were firmly believed to 
bring good luck, or avert evil influence. A traveller in Persia states that the patterns of the carpets of that 
country are made as bewildering as possible * to avert the evil eye.' And it is with this purpose that, in 
Italian as in all other witchcraft, so many spells and charms depend on interwoven braided cords {vide the 
Spell of the Holy Stone). > 

" The basis for this belief is the fascination or interest which many persons, especially children, feel to 
trace out patterns, to thread the mazes of labyrinths, or to analyse and distangle knots and ' cats' cradles.' Did 
space permit, nor inclination fail, I could point out some curious proofs that the old belief in the [)ower of 
long and curling hair to fascinate, was derived not only from its beauty, but also because of the magic of its 
curves and entanglements^" 

' Probably the caduceus of Mercury, which often appears on vases as simply two serpents with interlaced 


I have made serious and extensive study of interlaced patterns, beginning with 
Westwood*s PalcBographia Picta in which the claims of the Irish to be the originators 
of such art are upheld, down to the latest works on design. I have studied them 
with intense interest in the museums of Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, 
England, and Scotland, and copied literally thousands of them. And I was deeply 
convinced from the beginning that in all these Celtic intertwinings of infinite Irish 
lizards, and eternal Scandinavian serpents, down to Gothic ribbon and Florentine 
cord and vine braidings, there ran a mystic meaning, expressing as it were in an 
occult writing, deep and strange secrets of sorcery. What gave me the suggestion 
is worth mentioning. There is a book of which Trollope declared that he 
believed he was the only person in Europe who had ever read it I had, however, 
perused it thrice in as many versions before I was sixteen years of age, which I 
mention to show what an impression it made on me, for such reading at such an 
age sinks deep into the soul. This was Tlie Unheard-of Curiosities^ by Gaffarel, 
in which he sets forth naYvely, yet strikingly, a grand Paracelsian idea that the stars 
in heaven in their relative aspects and courses form the points of Hebrew or 
geomantic letters, and that the lines on the bark of all trees, and the marks on sea- 
shells and fishes, the curve of the waters as they wind in the brook or bound upwards 
in the ocean-wave, the ilight of the bird and the flickering bend of a flame ; or all 
forms, inspired by the spirit of Nature, or the Archmis^ form eternally varied 
hieroglyphics of a vast writing, to which we may get the key by inspiration and 
study. The poetry of this idea entered into my soul, and I cherished it for a long 
time, the more so as I read much in Wordsworth and Shelley. It was in my first 
year at college, where I took daily long and lonely walks in wild woods, and seated 
by grey rocks and silent waters, tried to trace by the aid of poetry some of this 
Divine caligraphy. About the same time I began to study Gothic art, and to copy 
illuminations, and, as may be supposed, the spirit of Gaflarelius guided me here to 
many deep and strange conclusions. And from it I have since drawn many more 
which have apparently no connection with it. That some tradition and association, 
some extremely deeply-seated feeling and serious sense of meaning must have 
attached itself to this immensity, this universality of a system of design which en- 
dured for a thousand years, and was found in every work of art, every letter, every 
article of Northern jewellery, stands to reason. In an age when symbolism and 
magic permeated everything it would have been a miracle indeed if Art were 
meaningless. And what the Interlace meant everywhere has been, as I think, 
clearly set forth by the Italian strega in the preceding pages. 

Identical with this law, or instinct, by which the evil eye must perforce trace 
out patterns is that which compels the witch to count, con gri mal gr^, alt the 



grains of rice or sesame or corn which she may encounter. So in the Arabian 
Nights the ghoul Amina must eat her rice grain by grain with a bodkin. In 
South Carolina, rice strewed in the form of a cross about a bed prevents a 
witch from getting at her victim, for she must remove it, grain and grain, ere 
she can reach him, nor must she shirk the task. And as I have elsewhere 
shown the erba Rosolaccio^ or Rice of the Goddess of the Four Winds, is 
esteemed as a protective, because the witches cannot count its rice-like leaves, 
and so they get bewildered in them. This belief was carried to the extent of 
regarding corrugated and rugged surfaces of any kind as protecting from evil. 
Hence the stalagmite, or salagrana stone, is very popular against malocckioy which 
means all inimical sorcery. 

I conjecture — for it is not as yet a matter oi proof— thdX the Celtic peoples 
from the earliest times, in the East, during the migration of races, e,g.^ through 
Hungary, and in Great Britain and Gaul, had the interlace and constantly 
used it The Britons, generally, made gaily-painted baskets — bascatuke — which 
were sent to Rome. This suggests interlaces. The Irish monks and artisans 
developed these basket-patterns, manifestly using, as a more pliable suggestive^ 
ribbons, ropes, or cords, as I have often done myself to make designs. I do not 
think it necessary to adopt the rather unpleasant idea set forth in a great book 
on needlework that the entrails of animals were thus used for models. A month's 
work of intelligent designing is worth all the theory in the world, and I no 
more believe that "insides" were employed to suggest motives than I do that 
earth-worms were taken for the same purpose, as was indeed once suggested to 
me by a certain wood-carver, who could see no beauty in anything save baroque 

I have been told, or I have read, that the theory of the basket-pattern is 
now *' exploded " as also that of the Irish claim to have developed or invented 
the interlace ; in fact, I find that everything nowadays is " exploded " almost 
before the powder has been put into it Thus a certain blue-stocking lady, 
speaking to me of agnosticism, declared languidly that she had gone through 
with it all, and that it was a vanished quantity. I begged her to define it for 
me. ** Let me hear your definition first ? " asked the blasie-bleue. But I was not 
to be caught thus, and the learned dame, with an ill grace, explained that an 
agnostic was "a kind of infidel-sceptic, — but all that sort of thing is quite out 
of fashion now, you know." So I have been told, on the best authority, that 
somebody — I forget who — ^has exploded the Altaic-Tartar Accadian theory — a 
theory which, however, the firm and gentle Sayce and the fiery Oppert still 
maintain. And I am also told by other men that Fetishism is exploded, or 


utterly blown up, though I have before me, specially manufactured for my own 
use, as undeniable specimens of fetishes of many kinds as could emanate from 
the brains of Italian witches and American Voodoos, So they go on, building 
up every man his little cardboard system and blowing down those of others — 
" and one live nigger would walk over the whole of them," as I heard it tersely 
expressed at the termination of the Folk-lore Congress of 1891. 

But to return to the interlace, or the magic power of intertwining knots, 
for there is more of it in the lore of the strege. The mulberry-tree, being of 
great importance in Italy, has, of course, its peculiar superstitions, and curious 
among them is the following : — 

" When a peasant prunes the mulberry-trees which are for silkworms, he must trim them so that the 
boughs restino intrecciati — may remain interlaced — in which case the silkworms will be protected against 
any mal<tcckio^ or evil influence from any witch.. 

*'But care must also be taken that, however fine {belli) the silkworms may be, no one shall say so, 
because calling them 'fine* during the three trials {malattie) which they pass through before spinning 
their silk would cause their death. 

''Be therefore attentive that if any one entering the house should say, ^ Belli quei bacchi* ('Those 
are fine silkworms'), to throw at that person a handful of leaves, because the person, being vexed, will 
throw the leaves at the silkworms, and the evil charm, if they have taken it, will be removed." 

In Italy, as in the East, there is great dread of unpremeditated praise, be 
it of animals or children, because those who fascinate or bewitch always use it. 

The convolvulus, which includes the honeysuckle and morning-glory, and 
indeed all that twinetK as a vine or " bine," is also a protection against witches, 
owing to its twisted tendrils. 

" Those who fear enchantment or the evil eye should have the convolvolo in their gardens or in a pot 
in the window, because it is of all others the flower which witches cannot endure. And they cannot enter 
a house where it is, because it bears tendrils (nerbolini) like a mass of little serpents intertwined {come 
tanie piccole serpia rotolate) and all entangled, for which reason it keeps them out. This plant flowers by 
night, and its beautiful flowers in a bouquet and its tendrils l^ewilder the sight {Ja affbgliare la vista) of 
sorceresses, and keeps them afar.*' 

All of which, if the reader be " a thinking character," may give him some- 
thing to think over when he sees a Gothic interlace, or serpentine ornaments, or 
love-knots, or fish-nets, or Hegel's sentences ! 

Lenormant, in his Magie Clialdaienne^ speaks of the very ancient weaving of 
magic knots — that is, plaiting interlaces, as old Assyrian, of which he says that 
the efficacy was so firmly believed in, even up to the Middle Ages, and gives 
in illustration the following against a disease or pain in the head : — 


'* Knot on the right and arrange flat in r^;ular bands — on the left a woman's diadem ; 
divide it twice in seven little bands ; 
gird the head of the invalid with it ; 
gird the forehead of the invalid with it ; 
gird the seat of life with it ; 
^ird his hands and his feet ; 
seat him on his bed ; 
pour on him enchanted waters. 

Let the disease of his head be carried away into the heavens like a violent wind ; 
may the earth swallow it up like passing waters ! " 

'' From which we can see that plaiting the hair in interlaces was a charm 
for a headache. Taking it altogether, this application of interlacing cords to 
the temple or other parts of the body is quite identical with modern usage. 

This subject of the interlace as a guard against evil magic, or an amulet, is 
nearly allied to the idea of holes and corrugations in stones — vide the Sala- 
grana — to magic rhymes and bewildering music, and mingled colours, and all 
that attracts and confuses the mind. All produce one effect. 

I am indebted to Miss Mary Owen, of Missouri, for the following (learned 
from a black sorceress), which is nearly connected with the interlace : — 

" When a man is visited in sleep by witches who ride or torment him, you should fasten in the 
chimney a coarse linen cloth or a sieve ; tie at the head of the bed a pair of wool cords or a branch of 
fern leaves, in which the seeds are almost ripe ; sprinkle a cup of mustard seed on the door-sill. The 
witch must count the interstices of the cloth or sieve, the seeds of the fern or the teeth of the cords, and 
must pick up every mustard seed, counting as she does so, ere she is free to torment the sleep>ers by 
knotting their feathers, riding on their breasts, or whispering to them awful dreams." 

The black Takroori, or sorcerers of Africa, draw their magic and lore largely 
from Arabic-cabalistic sorcerers, as I know, having examined their books when 
in Egypt, and all this is known to the Arabs. It is very curious that Praetorius 
speaks of a man who, in jest, used curry-combs or wool-cords to defend himself 
from a nightmare witch. Here, I think, in these cases we probably have tradition 
or transmission. 

The Goddess of the Four Winds — Uerba Rosolaccio. 

** Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live " (Ezekiil 
xxxvii. 9). 

Among all primitive or superstitious people, the medicinal or other virtues of 
herbs are attributed to. some deeply mysterious cause of a supernatural nature. In 
the Romagna, just as among the Red Indians of America, this faith is carried so far 


that certain plants are regarded as being in some strange way fairies or spirits in 
themselves. He who bears one of these about him — always in a red bag, as in old 
Etrusco-Roman times^-carries a small guardian angel, or, if he plants it in a pot, 
he will be like the ancient Egyptians of whom Juvenal said they had gods growing 
in their gardens — in allusion to their reverence for onions or garlic. 

One of these plants which is an object of culture not only in a literal, but also 
in a religious and aesthetic sense, is the Rosolaccio which has also the curious 
double-meaning name of the rice (m^), also laughter, or the smile, of the Goddess 
of the Four Winds. I had the following account given to me with a specimen of 
the herb : — 

" Rosolaccio is a plant the leaves of which, drawn up like a many-fingered little hand, look like grains of 
rice, whence it is called the rice (or the smile) of the Goddess of the Four Winds. It is also called the plant 
of good luck because it brings great good fortune. A sprig of it may be kept growing in a small pot, or, if this 
be impossible, in a red bs^. If the former, it must always be in the window, if in a bag, the latter should be 
hung up behind the window, and this done, no witches can enter, for there are so many grains (or grain-like 
leaves), or eyes, that the witches cannot count them and therefore cannot pass by. For they are so closed 
together that counting is impossible. And should it happen that in any family a child or grown person is 
bewitched, then we take this plant, either growing or else in the bag, and go to the sufferer who must be fast- 
ing, even from water, early in the morning, and say : — 

'* * Dea, o dea dei quattri venti, 
Non ci e altra bella al par di te 
Un* erba miracolosa Thai fatta nascere, 
Perche la stregoneria passi . . . ! ' 

(" 'Goddess, O goddess of the' four winds ! 
There is no one equal to thee in beauty, 
Thou hast made a miraculous plant to grow, 
That the bewitchment may pass from . . .') 


Then let the sign of the cross be made three times with the herb, and this must . be done for three 

•• * But who was the Goddess of the Four Winds ? * 

''Well, I have heard that her mother was a beautiful girl who was of great rank, perhaps a princess ; 
however she loved a poor young man, and her parents would not hear of such a match. 

" How it came to pass, who knows ? but the young man dwelt near her, and they found a subterranean 
passage which led to her room — some say she had it dug, for she was of fairy kind — but it came to a trap-door 
in her room, and under her bed. 

" And the end was that she was with child, and remained many months in her room, lest the world should 
know it. And she prepared a fine cradle all mcule of roses. And her mother, who was a faiiy, kept her 
secret, and aided her, and when the time came for the princess to give birth to the child, the mother made a 
fire of laurel, so that in its crackling the cries of the babe should not be heard. 

" And when this happened, and while the mother burned the laurel, she said : — 



(( f 

Figlia mia, amata, amata, 
A batta di lauro tu sei nata, 
E di rose conbugigata, 
Figlia mia, amata, amata, 
Una fata di te pure ho fatta.' 

('"Darting daughter in the morn, 

To the sound of laurel thou wert born ; 
Wrapped in roses thou shalt be, 
Daughter, daughter, dear to me, 
A fairy I have made of thee.*) 

''And this child was the Goddess of the Four Winds. E qtusia fu la fata delta la dca dei quattro 

This marvellous and mysterious story can hardly fail to suggest much to every 
folk-lorist First of all the infant goddess of the wind is rocked in a cradle of 
roses. Friedrich {Symbolik cL Natur) observes that in the Greek myth, the 
Wind, iEolos, has in his home six sons and six daughters — woJU die celtesie 
Andeutung einer Windrose — "the first indication of the wind-rose or anemone." 
The real rosalaccio (rose-lace) is the red poppy or corn-flower, but the name rose 
refers to the colour. We have in it, however, a connection of roses with the wind, 
and of the dew-drop, " rocked by the wind in the cradle of a rose." The anemone 
or wind-flower sprung from the blood of Adonis, that is, in the flower he lives again 
as a spirit of the wind. Adonis, the spirit of spring, is the same with Favonius, 
"the Greek zephyr, the sweet and fructifying south wind who comes with the 
swallow and the spring." It can hardly be denied that all this seems to be 
indicated in this strange Tuscan tale. 

The burning of laurel twigs so that they shall make a noise is of ripe antiquity. 
" There was a special divination or foretelling the future by burning laurel leaves, 
and it was regarded as a good sign if they crackled and made a loud noise" 
(TiBULLUS, Eleg.^ ii. 6, 81). Hence came a common proverb, Clamosior lauro 
ardente — " Noisier than burning laurel." Or, as we are told by the author of the 
Trinum Magicum (A.D. 161 1), " Et lauri quoque ramis divinatio sumebatur, and 
there was also divination by a branch of laurel, which if it made a loud sound was 
a good sign, and the contrary if it burned out quietly." 

But the chief aim of this story is to show how it was that the babe was made 
to pass from a mere mortal into a fairy or goddess, as Ceres attempted to do with 
the infant Triptolemus. She also employed a fire, but I do not know that it was 
of laurel boughs. But the laurel, as FRIEDRICH declares, was not only consecrated 
to prophecy or magic, and, as an evergreen, to immortality, but it was peculiarly a 
symbol of a new life — neues Leben im Tode. " Among the Romans the corpse in a 


funeral was sprinkled with water from laurel boughs ; and in the early times of 
Christianity the dead were laid on laurel leaves to signify that those who died in 
Christ had not ceased to live. And the baptism, or the new life in CHRIST, was 
also symbolised by laurel " (WiNCKELMANN, Versuch einer Allegorie^ besonders fur 
die Kunsty iil c. ; also Hartung, die Relig. der Romero part i., p. 46). WiNCKEL- 
MANN also mentions that on a rare medal, Lucilla, the wife of the Emperor Lucius 
Verus, is represented as holding a branch of laurel, near her kneels a woman 
drawing water, and there stands by her a half-naked child awaiting baptism. 
This has a special application to the Tuscan tale, with this difference — that in one 
case there is a baptism by fire, and in the other by water. In both the babe is to 
be prepared for a new life by means of the mystic laurel. 

There is some obscurity in this myth, but it may be remarked that the zephyr, 
the dew-drop, and the rose, were mystically combined in ancient fable, and that 
they reappear in the birth of the Goddess of the Four Winds. Again, peasants 
usually retain, or relate, only fairy stories, whereas this is not a tale at all in the 
real sense of the word, but an explanation of the origin of a spirit who is, we may 
say, worshipped in a plant 

In another Romagnolo legend the Wind appears as male and female. It is as 
follows : — 

The Wind is a magician (mago) and Corina (Romagnolo, Curetia) is his sister. 

A youth had a sweetheart and believed she had been false to him while she was innocent. But the 
youth in his sorrow fled far, far away so that he might see her no more. 

" Then she went to a wise old woman, who consulted the cards (that is * divined * in any way), to know if 
she would ever find her lover again, and the old woman bade her go to the Wind, and to his sister Curena." 
(Here there is a manifest hiatus.) "And they departed with her ; the morning had just dawned when they came 
to a city, they put her down before the window of her love, and she sang : — 

'* * Love, thou hast been false to me, 
While I was ever true to thee. 
Thou for me didst leave thy home, 
Now unto thee I have come, 
In two hours' time I travelled here, 
Yet 'twas the journey of a year. 
The wild wind bore me like a cloud, 
And Curena whistled loud, 
They have put me on thy track. 
Thou from me wilt ne*er turn back; 
Now our sufferings are o'er. 
Thou shalt leave me nevermore.' 

** So they were united, and lived happily ever after." 


It is possible that in this Curena we have the Teutonic " Wind's bride," who 
is ever hunting, and who blows a horn which is indicated in cor or curen. Corinth, 
Corinna, and Curena seem to be certainly allied to Coronis^ the wind : raven, 
typical of the north-west wind, or Skiron, 

As regards the rosalaccio it is evident that the names and associations of the 
herb which I have described are confused and intermingled with those of the poppy 
or red corn-flower, which is the true rosalaccio, and the red anemone or wind- 
flower. And there are those in Ireland who maintain that the so*calied wild wind- 
flower, which is white, and has a triple leaf, is the real shamrock. Out of all which 
those who have better material wherewith to work than I, may make what they 
can. There are some also who assert that the red sorrel is the true shamrock 
because the blood of the Saviour dropped upon it, even as the blood of Adonis 
dropped on the anemone. 

Of which confusion there is a great deal in all legends of a people in which 
old tradition has long since run into decay and new growth, and I beg the reader 
to pardon me if I cannot clear it up. 

Madonna del Fuoco. 

*' Sic in igne praeter alia elementa, sacra omnia insistebant, quod is, credo, proximus coelo sit, quod in 
specie ignis Deus Mosen primum allocutus." — Elias Schedius, De Dis Germanise 1648. 

It was formerly a custom at Forli in the Romagna Toscana to give anntially 
a grand procession, the occasion of which was the showing an image of the Virgin 
seated on a dragon surrounded by flames. This extremely heathen ceremony 
is now discontinued, so far as Forli is concerned, but it is still kept up in the 
neighbouring small town of Civitella. 

I have looked over a rather large Latin work, profusely illustrated, published 
about two hundred years ago, which is entirely devoted to describing this 
Madonna of Fire and Dragons, from which I gather that once upon a time the 
festival must have been very magnificent. It is remarkable that the witches and 
wizards, either guided by a sagacious intuition or ancient tradition, regard this 
Madonna as one of their own heathen deities who has been unjustly filched from 
them, and placed in the Christian pantheon. On which subject one of the sister- 
hood expressed herself not without a certain amount of righteous or pious 
indignation, to the effect that the Lady of the Fire was a great spirit before the 
other Madonna was ever heard of ; her words being, in part, as follows : — 

*' She was a spirit (t.^., heathen) who indeed worked many miracles, and so the priests took her and called 
her la donna miracolosa del fuoco. 


** But in truth the priests knew that this Madonna del Fuoco did many miracles, and revived those who 
had fallen dead, before they had ever done anything. (The sense here is that she did all this before she was 
claimed or known as Christian.) 

^' The first that was known of her was that she appeared as a beautiful lady in a certain garden, and so all 
the neighbourhood began to talk of her and said it was Our Lady, or the Madonna. 

"In Civitella there was an ancient and rich family. And in their fields there was a very small boy who 
kept sheep and was dumb. One morning the lady came to him, and this child who was mute began to speak 
and said : ' Lady, I could never speak before, dumb I was from my birth. Thou art a miraculous virgin. Tell 
me what I must do to express my thanks.' 

'* And she replied : ' Go to the great family and tell them they must go to Rome for a certain large stone 
and send it to me, and that by doing this their race will never end, but if they neglect it their troubles will 
never cease.' 

*' This he did, but was treated as a lunatic. Yet while they did this there appeared before them great 
flashes of fire — ^an fiaccole del fuoco — and they knew it was the Lady of Fire. So they sent for the stone, 
and as soon as the lady had it she ascended it and remained there as an image. So they bore it to a church 
and placed it there — t le misero nome^ la Madonna del Fuoco^ la Madonna Miraculosa — and called it the 
Lady of Fire and the Miraculous Madonna. 

** And this family left it by will that the festival with miraculous fire should be continually kept up. And 
all peasants when they have any illness or bad crops, or any trouble, attend this ceremony.'* 

Ottfried Miiller and Preller observe from good authority that the Etruscans 
paid very great attention to thunder and h'ghtning, and that all their principal 
gods and goddesses were believed to wield, during certain months, the terrible 
power. Traces of this continually reappear in the legends of Le Romagne, as 
the reader may find in. several places in this work, such as the tale of the Spirito 
del Giuoco. I think that this, taken in connection with the witch belief that this 
Madonna del Fuoco is really one of their own spirits, indicates a pre-Christian 
origin for the Madonna del Fuoco. It may be, indeed, that she is Vesta, the 
Roman goddess of fire, converted and Christianised. The miraculous stone 
refers possibly to the flint from which fire is struck. 

La Cavalletta. 

" Thou boldest the Cicada by the wings."— Arch ILOCHUS. 

La Cavalletta is defined as " a locust or grasshopper," but as I understand, it 
is neither, but what is known in America as the Katydid^ a cicada which indeed 
resembles the Oriental locust in its general shape, but is somewhat larger, and 
is of a clear green colour, its wings being quite like leaves. Its cry is like that of 
the locust, but much louder. It appears to play an important part among the 
superstitions of the Romanga.^ 

' '* lliat animal which the French call sauterelle, we a grasshopper, is named Aicpcc by the Greeks, by the 
Latines locusta, and by ourselves a locust. Again, between a cicada and that we call a grasshopper the 



I was first induced to notice it by hearing a woman sing a song, alia conta- 
dinesca, about it, in Romagnota^ which I wrote down, and then received the 
following account in Italian : — 

** The Cavallctta is an insect of a green colour with long legs. It is a sign of good luck — t tanto di buon 
augurio. When it comes into a room one should at once close the windows to prevent its escaping, and if 
there should happen to be sleeping children In bed, so much the better. Then one should tie a thread to the 
leg of the Cavalletta and the other end to the bed, and say or sing : — 

" ' O Cavalletta che tanto bello sei ! 
£ da per tutto la buona fortuna porti, 
E quando va vi& tu la lasci, 
Percio sei venuto in casa mia 
Per portarmi la buona fortuna, 
E neppure non riportarmela via, 
La buon' fortuna iascia in casa mia ; 
E specialmente a! figli miei, 
Che eri tu pure in vita una donzella 
Bella e buona c piena di talento, 
E cosi ti prego se tu vuoi far' venire 
I figli miei di gran talento, 
E se cosi farai ne stirai sempre benedetta ; 
£ ben vero che om tU hai 

La forma di una bestia, ma una bestia tu non sei 
Sei uno spirito della buona fortuna.* 

("*Oh, Katydid, so fine and fair. 

Who bringst good fortune everywhere ! 
Leave good luck in this my home 
Since into the house you*Ve come. 
Bring it unto me I prayt 
And do not take the least away ; 
Bring it to me and every one. 
Most of all unto my son ; 
In life you were a lady, full 
Of talent, good and beautiflil. 
Let me pray, as this is true, 
YouMl give my children talents too, 
And where you fly from East to West, 
May you in turn be truly blest ! 
Since though an insect form you wear. 
You are a spirit good and fair 1 ') 

differences are very many, as may be observed in themselves, ot their descriptions in Matlhiolus Aldrovandus 
and Muflelus. . . . Our word is borrowed from the Saxon Graest-hopp, which our ancestors, who never 
beheld the cicada, used for that insect which we yet call a grasshopper " {Pseudoxia Epidemica {Vulgar 
Errors)^ by Sir Thomas Brown, London, 1672). 


**Then when the child shall be of an age to understand this, he should be taught to sing, when he sees 
a Katydid : — 

** • lo son giovane e vero, 

Ma lo tengo un gran talento, 

Un gran uomo io saro, 

Ma la ca Valletta posso ringraziare, 

Per che nella culla il gran talento 

Mi e venuto a porta mia, 

Portato la buona fortuna per la cavalletta.* 

(*• * I am but little, as you see, 
And yet I may a genius be, 
And if when grown I should be great, 
And make a name in Church or State, 
ril not forget that one fine day, 
As I in cradle sleeping lay, 
How all my wit, as mother bid, 
Was brought me by the Katydid.') 

" But when the Cavalletta has been tied one hour to the cradle of the child, it must be freed, and the 
window opened, and it should be allowed to depart — not driven away — but suffered to leave at its own 
free will." 

It is altogether impossible to separate the ancient folk-lore of the locust, grass- 
hopper, and cricket, or cicada. Friedrtch remarks that in the magical practices 
of the ancients the grasshopper was supposed to possess such powers of divination 
that it was called /luw/tk, or the soothsayer. It often occurs on monuments as an 
amulet against evil. One which represents a Cupid holding a butterfly, while 
a grasshopper is close by on an ear of corn, seems to me to set forth the spirit of 
the song which I have cited. 

But the cavalletta is properly in legend the same as the cicada which was 
regarded as the emblem, and almost as the genius, of song and poetry, or the 
highest forms of intellect. The Greeks and old Italians loved this insect more 
than the nightingale, they associated it strangely with a higher genius and stronger 
powers of magic and prophecy. It was to them the herald of spring, a song 
of rivulets and fountains sparkling in the shade, a calling to green fields, a voice 
of the flowers. 

Thus Anacreon sings: — 

** We praise thee auspicious Cicada, enthroned like a king 
On the tree's summit, thou cheer*st us with exquisite song, 
Living on dew-drops, and all men bestow on thee honour 
As the sweet prophet of summer — the Muses all love thee, 
So does Apollo the golden who gave thee thy song." 




Ulysses holding a cicada to Cerberus, as it occurs in gems, signifies the 
power of evil or horror, captivated by genius or song. The old story was that 
these insects were once men and women, who, having heard the Muses sing, were 
so enchanted or enraptured that they could think of nothing else — yes, they forgot 
all earthly things, including eating and drinking, and so starved to death in pure 
aesthetic absence of mind. So the Muses turned them into the beautiful cicadae, 
which, when they have sung themselves out in summer shades, return to the 
Muses. Therefore the Athenian ladies wore golden cicadae in their hair as a sign 
of culture and refinement, also to indicate their patriotic attachment to their small 
country or city, because it is said that the insect never quits the place where 
it is born. 

The whole spirit of the ancient belief in the cicada, or grasshopper, as a 
prophetic spirit, and the genius of song, is perfectly reflected in this Romagnolo 
ballad, which is in reality a rough but very fine diamond. For it is beautiful to see 
how the refined old classic feeling that the cicada is the spirit of genius and poetry 
has survived among these humble peasants, and how as a mantis it is believed to 
be capable of bestowing genius on the little bambino. It is absolutely the same 
idea or inspiration, but in a far sweeter and nobler form, which made the Greek 
maiden wear a golden cicada in her hair, that induces the Italian mother to tie 
a cavalletta by the leg to her baby's cradle, and sing to it the incantation or prayer 
to give it talents or genius, or make of it a poet. 

There is something very antique in all this, as well as original and beautiful, 
so that, taking all others into consideration, I have very little doubt that this 
ceremony, as well as its song, may have come to us from the early spring-time 
of Latin, Greek, or Etruscan song. Ancient ! — why there is nothing of the kind 
here given which is net, as the Germans say, stone-old, among the mountains of 
La Romagna Toscana. Every idea there which has a form, took it in neolithic 
or certainly bronze times. This of the cavalletta can at least be proved to be 
almost prehistoric. 

The original Romagnolo which was sung like all contadino songs to a 
monotonous air, which, like the words, gave the impression that it was being 
improvised, was as follows : — 

" E spirit la cavaletta, 
Le un spirit et bona fortona, 
E sla ven in ca* vostra 
Nola fe mai scape. 

Sla ven in ca* vostra 
Piutost lighela a una |;ambs^ 


E po lighela a e let de vostra l)ordel 
E quel la lav port era fortona 
Ai vostre fial. 

Lav portara fortona 

Ai vostre fial e lai portra 

La fortona pur et gran talent, 

E la vi librara pur dal regiment. 

En fen caiari pze an pense mai, 
A quant chi andara a fer i solde 
Ma quan chi e grend e chi belle aloe 
Per vo o sara un gran dalor. 


Per cio pensei sempre per temp, 

Arcorder ed la Cavalletta, 

Per che se le a pregari i vostre fiol, 

Da feri solde ai librari a punti ste sicur." 

It may be observed that this was described to me as Lo Spiritola Cavalletta— 
the Spirit Cavalletta. That is to say the insect is recognised as a spirit which was 
once human, just as it is set forth in the Latin or Greek legend. The ancient 
myth declares that the cicadae were once very much refined maidens, who were 
turned to insects by the Muses. The modern incantation says that the katydid 
was in life — 

" a lady full 
Of talent good and l)eautiful." 

Of those who attribute all of these identities in tradition to r//^?;/r^ coincidences 
and " development under like causes," one can only say, as did the old orthodox 
Christian of the doctrine of atoms, and fortuitous combinations, that it put upon 
the back of Chance more than it would bear. 



Ex eo tempore . . . ilium si 
n leclo csscnl,"— BOPlNi's, 

■n fceminis soknl, ncc percipienle 

it all that I know is given in the 
following strange story : — 

" Ciipra is ^fsUello, or spirit, who when 
St frendf a siapalia una donna, he lakes a 
liking to a woman, and inspires hei wilh it, 
follows her aliout all the lime even by day. 

"There was once in a. town in La 
Romagna a girl of extraordinary beauty, 
who was moreover slrangely fortunate in all 
lhings~;ir<'//0 eke HeHderava e qvello the It 
apfarrna. Now il came to pass Itiat waking 
in the niyhl she found thai she had by her 
a very beautiful youth, and this happened 
often, till at last she told her mother of it. 

" (Icr mother bade her carefully close 
the door, and not to go to bed till morning. 
Anil he came all Ihe same ; but the mother, 
who was secretly watching, saw no one. 
Then she strewed leaves all about, thinking 
thai when this mysterious lover passed over 
them there would be a rustling. And he 
came and made a great noise with the leaves 
and laughed loudly, but not a leaf stirred. 
Then the mother, being angrj', said lo her 
daughter ; ' Go tu lied, and I will lie by Ihy 
side ; but I do not Iteljeve that there is any 

" Then Ciipra laughed aloud and 

CUPRA. 183 

" * Si — sono a letto, 
Con tua figlia, 
E incinta 

D'un bel bambino : 
Son* iin spirito folletto 
Che la tua figlia voglio aniar, 
E molti 6gli voglio creiar, 
Moiti figli io I'avro, 
E tua figlia 
Sempre amero.' 

(** * Yes — I am lying 

Here by thy daughter ; 

She has by me, too, unborn, 

A beautiful boy. 

I am a spirit 

Who loves her — you'll see 

She will bear many 

More children to me, 

And your fair daughter 

Long loved shall be I ') 

** Now after this nolx)dy would marry her ; yet she was happy and contented, for she liad all slie desired, 
being long and well loved by her a/tiante." 

There is in this a little, as it were, of Cupid and Psyche, which beautiful myth 
doubtless grew out of some rude and simple old story of a girl and a spirit lover. 
I have no doubt that the tale as here given is a mere fragment. As among the 
Red Indians, we find loose pieces of stories, sometimes fitted into one another. 

It cannot fail to strike the reader that there is a very loose moral tone — a gay 
and festive sensuousness evident in these tales. These folletti are all, when not 
terrible, very much like the Fauns and Sylvans, spirits of yore, from whom they 
are, beyond all doubt, legitimately descended. In fact the spirit of Dyonisia, the 
worship of Bacchus and Venus, and of Pan — of Dryads and Oreads, and a 
multitude of hard-drinking, free-loving, rakish divinities, all of whom, from great 
Jove himself down to the Satyrs, set the example of embracing every pretty 
woman who came in their way, could hardly be wanting among people who still 
actually invoke these deities by their old names. And this is — inter alia — a 
strong confirmation of the heathen antiquity of all this Tuscan lore. 

I deem this thing well worth dwelling on, that while in the folk-lore and fairy- 
tales of the rest of Europe there is but little account of fairies, brownies, elves, and 
sylvan goblins seducing maidens and abusing wives, it is in the Romagna at the 
present day their chief mission or amusement. A ringing melody of forest glee 
does not come more surely from the Waldhom of a hunter when sounded by 



some skilful woodcraftsman than a tale which is " naughty, but nice," to youthful 
sinners, comes when conversation turns on these mysterious beings. I could have 
made a very distinguished acquaintance indeed — namely, that of the Lord 
Chancellor — had I published in a book all the Merrie Tales of the kind which I 
have, or could have, heard of such "shoking" culpabilities — which seem to be 
almost the only kind of abilities now manifested by these "geniuses." In all which 
they are true as steel to the traditions of their ancestors, the dii minores, the 
minor or sylvan gods, of whom Pico della Mirandola — whose tomb is not far off 
from here — informs us that " Saint Augustin declares in the fifteenth book of the 
City of God, that * the Silvani and Fauni have many times sinned with women, 
who, however, greatly desired it, the end thereof being that they lay with them. 
And that certain demons, called by the French Dusii, went about continually 
seeking such carnal iniquity, and — mettendola ad effetto — putting it into effect.' " 

All of these, as I have shown in chapters on them — Fauns, Silvani, and Dusii 
— still live in the Romagnola. There the contadina maiden half fears and half 
hopes in the forest shades, as twilight falls, to meet with a handsome, roguish, 
leering, laughing lover ; there, it may be, among reedy rocks, will rise from the 
whitening water of the headlong stream some irresistible Elf. Ma — che volete ? 
Girls will be girls ! 

This Cupra tale is much like one in BODINUS, where, however, the devil him- 
self is the lover, and a girl of twelve his bonne fortune. They may both have come 
from a common source. 

According to Preller {Romiscfie Myt/wlogie), there was on the coast of 
Picenum a goddess named Cupra^ who is supposed to be a Juno, of Etruscan 
origin. Her temple was renewed by Hadrian. " But the name is probably to be 
explained by the Sabine word Cyprus (good), whence the Vicus Cyprius in Rome 
and a Mars Cyprius in Umbria." I do not feel authorised to suggest any con- 
nection between these names and that of the Cupra in the story. Nor do I insist 
on any positive identity of any of my discoveries with ancient ones. There may 
have been, for aught I know, mistakes or misunderstandings as regards any or all 
these names. I have simply written down what I gathered, and I dare say there 
will be correctors enough in due time to verify or disprove it all. 

All of the old Etrusco-Roman deities were in pairs, male and female, hence 
possibly the modern confusion as to certain names. They also " crossed " one 
another. " Thalna, or Cupra," says George Dennis {The Cities and Cemeteries of 
Etruria, 1878), "was the Etruscan Hera or Juno, and her principal shrines seem 
to have been at Veii, Falerii, and Perusia. Like her counterpart among the 
Greeks and Romans, she appears to have been worshipped under other forms, 


according to her various attributes, as Feronia, Uni, Eilithya-Lucothea." The 
incident of the leaves connects Cupra with classic lore. Gerard {Gotthcit : der 
Etnisker, p. 40) thinks Thalna is descriptive of Cupra as a goddess of births and 
h'ght. We learn the name of Cupra from Strabo, v., p. 241. Of which Noel des 
Vergers says in LEtrurie et les Etrusques, Paris, 1862, that : — 

" Junon, que Strain) appelle Cupra, bicn que nous ne trouvious pas ce nom sur les monuments cerami- 
ques ou les miroirs, avail comme Jupiter un temple dans Tarx ou la citadelle des villes Etrusques." 

Walnut Witches. 

" In IJenevento a nut-tree stands, 
And thither by night from many lands. 
Over the waters and on the wind, 
Come witches flying of every kind. 
On goats, and boars, and bears, and cats. 
Some upon broomsticks, some like bats. 
Howling, hurtling, hurrying, all 
Come to the tree at the master's call." 

DOM PicciNi, Otfaz'a deJla Notte. 

** Sott*acqua e sotta viento, 
So't' 'e nuce *e Venevienlo." 

Neapolitan Saying. 

It is probable that one of the earliest supernatural conceptions formed by man 
was that of the Vabu^ or Taboo. It was that if the witch, or shaman, or conjuror 
wished to guard, or keep, or protect a certain property from depredators, he by 
magic power or spells caused the person trespassing to suffer. If a sorcerer or a 
chief had a valuable weapon or ornament, spells were pronounced over it to protect 
it, and if it were stolen some mysterious disease soon after attacked the thief. By 
a little judicious poisoning here and there of suspected offenders, the taboo of 
course soon came to be firmly believed in and dreaded. Naturally enough it was 
extended to trees bearing valuable fruit, fields and their crops, wives and cattle. 
Then in time everything belonging to priests and chiefs was tabooed. In the 
Pacific islands at the present day where the natives have not been civilised, it 
often happens that a man who has eaten fruit, or even touched an article belonging 
to a chief, though he did not know at the time that it was prohibited, will soon die 
of mere fear. The laws of taboo in Fiji and many other places were so numerous 
and intricate that if written out they would make a work quite as extensive 
and diflficult to master as Blackstone's Commentary. Little by little it entered 
into every relation of life. Wherever the power of the priest came — and it went 



everywhere— there was the terrible taboo. It sat by every fireside— it was with 
man when he awoke in the night ; there were kinds of food which must not be 
eaten, certain positions which must not be assumed, thoughts which must not be 
entertained. There were words which must never be spoken, names of the dead 
which must never be uttered ; and as people were named from things, therefore 
language was continually changing. Over all and under all and through all was 
the taboo^ or will of the priest. 

In Catlin's great work on the North American Indians there is the portrait of 
a Chippeway emaciated to a living skeleton. There was, about fifty years since, in 
his country, in a remote place, a vast mass of virgin copper, which was regarded 
with superstitious reverence. The sorcerers of the tribe had decreed that any 
Indian who should guide a white man to this great nugget would surely be 
accursed and die. One man, tempted by gifts, and in an hour of temporary free- 
thought, broke the ban and led a white trader to the mysterious nianitou. Then 
came the reaction. He believed himself to be accursed, and so pined away. A 
traveller in Fiji has recorded that a native having once by mere accident touched 
something which belonged to a chief, and learned that it was taboo^ died in a few 
days from terror. 

An accurate and impartial history of the development of taboo, or prohibition, 
would be the history of religion and of the human race. As regards church 
property it became known as sacrilege — the conversion of sacred things to secular 
uses. The exempla of the preachers of the Middle Ages show us the doctrine of 
taboo carried to the extremes of absurdity. RABELAIS ridiculed these extrava- 
gances, but the shafts of his wit fell back blunted, even as the arrows of the scoffer 
missed the mark when shot at a leaf taken from the Holy Decretals. But taboo is 
yet strong everywhere. I can remember that once when I was a very small boy I 
unwittingly — this was in a New England village — injured a pamphlet or book 
which had been lent by the local clergyman. " Don't you know," exclaimed a lady 

who was reproving me, " that that book belongs to Dr. L } " And I was 

aghast, for I felt that the crime was far greater than if the injured property had 
belonged to one of the laity. 

Making every allowance for the natural limitations and necessities of Evolu- 
tion, taboo was productive of some good but also of great evil. At present, its old 
mission being worked out among enlightened people, the bad is predominant 
Under the influences of the Church it was so freely, so recklessly, and so unscru- 
pulously applied that millions of lives were crushed by it or made needlessly 
miserable. It enforced celibacy ; it compelled injudicious charity, which enlarged 
the area of poverty instead of relieving it ; it made idleness, coloured by super- 


stition, holy ; it exalted in every way the worthless idle shaman, or sorcerer, above 
the productive citizen ; it laid great curses and eternal damnation on trifling 
offences, on no offences, and on the exercise of natural human rights and 
privileges. And it still contrives to do s6 to an extent which few realise. For the 
prohibition or punishment, or causing suffering in any form whatever, when it is 
applied to anything which is not in itself wrong, is taboo. But what is wrong ? 
That which injures others. And what are injuries? Firstly, those which the law 
defines as to person and property, directly or indirectly, in law or equity. 
Secondly, those which are conventional and spring out of our artificial social con- 
ditions. These are mostly of the feelings, or sentimental — regarding which it 
becomes us to exercise the strictest discipline over ourselves, and to make the 
utmost allowance for others. 

It is as regards these conventional and sentimental wrongs in social relations, 
and in really artificial matters, that taboo, be it religious or secular, makes its 
tyranny most keenly felt. Not to wander too widely from the subject, I can only 
say that a vast amount of all social injustice does not spring, as is generally 
assumed, or supposed, from unavoidable current causes, but from mere custom and 
use derived from tradition. He who will look carefully, honestly, and above all 
boldly, into this, will be astonished to learn how powerful still is the old shaman 
of the very earliest stage of barbarism. The demon of the Threshold — he who 
lay in wait at the very entrance of the first hut of humanity — is still lurking by 
thine though thou seest him not. 

It would be interesting to know how many objects which were regarded as 
accursed and bedevilled owed their evil repute in the beginning to iaboo^ 
During the Middle Ages, and indeed from earlier times, the walnut-tree was 
regarded as being dear to demons and specially chosen by witches as a place of 
meeting. Among the Romans it typified darkness or evil, hence it was believed 
that if it stood near an oak they mutually injured one another, because the latter 
was sacred to Jove, the god of lightning, the principle of light (NORK, Realworter- 
buck, vol. iii., p. 387. Friedrich). In the earliest mythologies the nut was an 
erotic symbol. On the bridal night the married pair among the Jews praise God 
for planting the nut-tree in the Garden of Eden ; and among the Romans it was 
a custom spargere nuces to scatter nuts on such occasions. " But as sensual 
passion is allied to sin, it is plain that the walnut-tree is also a demoniac symbol. 
The Rabbis declared that the devil chose it for a favourite resting-place, and advised 
people never to sleep under it, because every twig thereof has nine leaves, and on 
every leaf dwells a devil " (Friedrich, Symbolik, p. 315). 

BUNSEN {Rom, iii., 3, 210), tells us that there once stood in the Piazza delta 


Cliiesa del Popiilo a great walnut-tree whose leaves were so infested by devils that 
Pope Paschal the Second cursed it, had it cut down, and a church built where it 
had stood — an act quite becoming a shaman or voodoo in every respect. Male- 
dicta sis nuce ! " Be thou d d, oh walnut-tree, root and branch, nuts and bark, 

und to hell vit you ! " 

All of this rubbish of eroticism, diablerie and darkness, doubtlessly gathered 
about the tree from many sources, but the beginning of it all was that some early 
sorcerer, to save his walnuts, informed his neighbours that the tree was tabooed^ 
and that devils sat on it to torment those who should rob it I have heard of a 
German preacher of the mob who explained the origin of evil by the fact that, 
" Eve did rop a Baumgart" (or orchard), and I know a perfectly authentic case of 
theology in the nursery, in which a small girl, being asked why God forbade Adam 
and Eve to eat the apples, replied that He wanted them for pies, but was corrected 
by another, who told her, " No — that He wanted to keep them for his winter 
apples" — that kind being usually prohibited to children. However, in any case it 
was the first taboo on record ; and because simple Adam and Eve had been 
created of a heedless curious human nature, and not wise enough to resist Satan, 
the incarnate spirit of genius and evil, their descendants have been damned 
eternally to hell by hundreds of millions. Wiiich cheerful myth in no respect 
invalidates the many great truths which abound in the Bible, as Paine and 
Ingkrsoll argue — nay, it contains a great truth : that idle curiosity and childish 
disobedience arc a great source of evil. The Jews regarded unflinching, un- 
conditional obedience, with no ^lUowance for human weakness, as the law of laws. 
It was well for them as they were, but it Wcis going too far to make it all in all. 
It had held Egypt together in good condition for thousands of years, and MoSES, 
who was a great student of laws, applied it. But it is not applicable to England, 
or America, or indeed to any republic, or semi-republic, to-day. Freethought 
now has its rights, and is a law like others. 

But to return to our trysting-tree-^the walnut. As all the witches of Germany 
were accustomed to assemble on the Blocksberg, so those of all Italy had their 
rendezvous or sabbat, or, in Italian, treguenda, at a great walnut-tree in Benevento. 

This terrible tree is mentioned by many writers on witchcraft, and allusions 
to it are very common in Italian literature, but I never met with anything in 
detail till I found a pamphlet — De Nuce Maga Beneventana — which is by PETER 
PiPERNUS, and forms a supplement to his work De Effectibus Magicis, of which I 
have elsewhere written. In which, as it never rains but it pours, I met with such 
an excess of information that I had some trouble in condensing it, the work 
being composed on the picturesque, but not lucid principle, followed by 


Pr/ETORIUS, of writing down anything whatever about everything which comes 
into one's head, on shps of paper, which are then thrown into a basket without 
numbers, and set up by the printer as they occur. So, after eight pages of 
skimble-skamble, including a short essay on the sins _of keeping bad company 
and of telling indecent stories, or comicas fabulas de stiipris virginum^ we see a 
gleam of coming day in a chapter on Nuts in general, with the comforting 
assurance that, as a tree, the walnut is endowed by Nature with both good and 
bad qualities — of which chapter we may note that if the walnut really does possess 
the extraordinary number of medical and other virtues ascribed to it by PiPERNUS, 
it is no wonder that it was supposed to be in the highest degree supernatural — 
albeit not a word is said in it of catsup or pickles. Could the men of old have 
foreseen the sauces of to-day, and the part which walnuts would play in them 
all, Heaven only knows what witchcraft they would have ascribed to them ! 

Finally we come to the fact that from the testimony and traditions recorded 
in the manuscripts of an old witch-trial, and from information gathered by many 
holy Inquisitors, that it was believed in the fraternity of sorcerers that not only 
from the times of the Lombards, but even from those of the ancient Samnites, 
there had ever been at Bcncvento an immense walnut-tree which was in leaf all the 
year (the same talc was told of old Druidical and German oaks), the nuts of 
which were of a pyramidal form, ^^ qua tragttlaribus lineis emittebatr These nuts 
sold for a high price, people believing that they protected against accidents, 
earthquakes, and cured epilepsy, also that they were sure to produce male off- 
spring, retcntis intra inatriccjn nucleis. And they were also valuable amulets 
against witchcraft, though used by witches in much deviltry. 1 think that we 
have here a hint of the curious triangular nuts which come from the East, and 
of which such numbers are sold in Florence, made into rosaries. These are also 
carried singly as magical amulets. There is a variety of them found in China 
which exactly resembles the head of a buffalo, horns and all. I have specimens 
of both kinds. 

Next we have the topography of the region where the tree grew — for 
PiPERNUS approaches the enemy very gradually — and finally of the field in 
which this King of Darkness stands, as our author puts it very neatly, " more 
like a Nox than a Nux'' Which pun of darkness casts, however, not a 
little light on the tenebrific nature of this tree, and its noxious nature, with the 
suggestion that it was the mere resemblance of name which drew to it an associa- 
tion with the powers of the underworld. PiPERNUS gives us a long array of 
causes why the nut-tree was dreaded by Christians, and loved by witches, the only 
sensible one of which is that it was of yore, because of its dense shade, sacred to 
Proserpine, Night, and the Infernal Gods, 


Well, as it happened that the good people of Benevento had a great walnut- 
tree where they worshipped serpents, or " divinity in the likeness of a beast, which 
is vulgarly called a viper/' and what was also horrible, held horse-races in which 
the riders caught at bunches of sumach suspended in the tree — after the fashion 
of the profane and ungodly game of flying horses and hand-organ which we have 
seen at irreligious, worldly-minded, country fairs. There was in Benevento a great 
saint, Barbatus, to whom these goings-on of the heathen with their great moral show 
of snakes and races, and the rest of the circus, were a terrible annoyance — for 
then, as now, two of a trade did never yet agree. Competition was not, with 
him, the soul of business. The ruler of that region was ROMUALDUS, who was 
a heathen. And Barbatus tried to convert him, but he did not convert worth 
a button. In vain did BARBATUS flourish and coruscate his miracles — et miraculis 
coniscans — round the head of this impenitent mule — I could almost fancy that 
Rom must have been a gypsy. His only reply was to the effect that " that 
cock won't fight." For I must mention that it is also recorded that he kept 
race-horses and game-cocks — and that there is in bad Latin mournful evidence 
of the truth of it all. 

By and by there were rumours of war in the land. Constantinople — I mean 
CONSTANTIUS — the emperor, was coming tnninnera inultitudine stwriun collecta^ 
with a vast army to wipe out Benevento. Romualdus v/as a hard fighting man, 
but as Saint Chrysostom said, "There is no use in a goat's trying to buck 
against a bull." He was reduced to extremes, and it was finally found that 
CONSTANTINE, like a true and gentle Christian, had decreed that on a certain day 
he would take the city and put every human being in it, utriusque sexjis, to death. 

Arrepta occasione — BARBATUS saw his opportunity and improved it. He held a 
grand public meeting, in which he attributed all these troubles to that nasty Viper, 
and their heathenish horse-races, and wicked walnuts. I dare say, too, that they 
had wine with their walnuts — but of this the history says nothing. And he ended 
by telling them that if they would raise their eyes above vipers and walnuts, and 
the turf, up to heaven, they would all be saved. Whereupon Romualdus said if that 
would save the town, he, for one, would raise his — and, to cut the tale short, 
C/KSAR CONSTANTINE and his army, Beneventum non peneirabit — " did not take 

And then Barbatus had a beautiful time. He cut down the walnut-tree, 
killed the snakes, stopped the horse-races, confiscated all the "poultry" of the 
cock-fights, threw the gaffs into the river (" they used slasher-gaffs in all pits in 
those days," Alcdromachia^ vol. i.), and what with baptizing, confessing, and 
burying, got to be as rich as a Jew, 


It is not difficult to see how this miracle was worked. When you are in 
correspondence with your CONSTANTINE, it is easy to arrange that he should not 
penetrate to your Beneventum. A chief who, like ROMUALDUS, might be obliged 
to fight to the death by force of public opinion when it was only a question of 
war, could nicely compromise on a miracle. The entire history of the progress 
of Christianity in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, is a chronicle of heathenism 
extinguished by brute force, or marriages, or by this same old trick of Barbatus. 

The nut-tree was cut down, but the king never dies. It is true, adds 
PiPERNUS, that there is now in the same place another tall and great walnut-tree, 
in the hollow of which three men might hide — and near this are sometimes found 
bones and bits of flesh, the signs of witches' banquets — probably chosen to take 
the place of the ancient one. As appeared by the testimony of one ViOLANTA, 
who being interrogated — probably with a rack and red-hot pincers in the Christian 
manner of 15 19 (that being the date) — said that she had been at such a tree. 
There they worshipped Diana (not the devil — he was only adored in Germany) 
or Herodias, the goddess of dancing, who, however, as before said, appears in 
Rabbinical writings as Lilith, who was the Hebrew Diana, or mother of all the 
witches, and held high revel and " had a good time." 

It may be observed that PiPERNUS declared that women became pregnant 
simply by means of the nuts from this tree. There is no mention of male assistance 
in this matter. Very recently, as a write, I inquired in Florence if there was any 
account current of magical properties in walnuts, and was promptly told the 
following tale, regarding which I had made no suggestions and given no hints 
whatever. It was written out for me, not by any means in clioice Italian. 

'* The country oi Bcnevento is in the Romagna, and that is the real posto delU streght^ or witch meeting- 
place. One evening a gentleman went to walk with his daughter whom he adored. And as they passed 
under a walnut-tree, and there were so many fine nuts, she desired to eat of them. But hardly had she 
eaten one when she felt herself ill, alio stomaco^ and went at once home, and to bed. And all her family were 
in despair, because they loved her tenderly. 

** Nor was it long before they saw her body increasing in size, and thought she was incinta^ or with child, 
and began to treat her harshly, till at the end of nine months she gave birth to a little lamb ; it was very 
beautiful, and her parents knew not what to think of this phenomenon. And they questioned her closely as 
to whether she had ever had a lover, but she swore this had never been the case, and knew nothing beyond 
this — that she felt ill after having eaten the walnut. 

"Then the father took his daughter to the tree, and she ate another nut; when all at once the tree 
vanished, and there appeared an old witch, who touched the lamb, when it Ixjcame a handsome young man, 
and the witch said, * This is the lover whom you would not permit your daughter to marry. I by my sorcery 
made him enter and leave her (sortire dalle sue viscere)^ and so shall she be compelled to wed him.* " 

On hearing this mystical tale I remarked, " Then the lover became father to 
himself?" " Sicura — certainly," was the reply. Here I might tell the story of the 



nun who became possessed, or as some say, encemte, by swallowing a diavoletto, 
or little devil, in a lettuce leaf, she having taken her salad without first praying, and, 
so on, such tales, suggested by meditations on immaculate conception not being 
rare. But what is to the purpose is to show that the idea of the walnuts of the 
tree of Benevento producing such results is ancient and widely spread. The story 
seems to be a' witch parody of the birth of X^hrist \ 

The witches of Benevento do not seem to have been by any means a bad lot. 
In this story they appear as succouring — in a strange way to be sure — a pair of 
unfortunate lovers, which is certainly the ideal of human benevolence to most young 
ladies. And in Spain, Ireland, and elsewhere, the fairies have taken from them the 
credit of a tale which is very much to their credit, and which was attributed to them | 

langsyne. This is the story of the Hunchback who lost his hump. Among the two 
or three hundred jolly little comediettas in which good-natured, honest dummklug 
Stentorello is the hero, and which are played at present all the time in 
Florence, there is one called The Witches of Benevento, which is founded on the 
legend, and I find it in PiPERNUS. Perhaps your memory may be a little rusty — 
nulladimina — anyhow, I will tell it, with interpolations. 

" There was a man named Lambertus Alularius, who was a hunch-back, gay and cheerful, popular 
with everybody. One night, returning home by the light of the moon, he passed near the great Walnut-Tree 
.of Benevento. There he saw a great assembly of people, men and women, in fine array, dancing and singing, 
jolly as sand-boys — but their song was strange and somewhat monotonous, for it was merely : — 

^* * Ben venga il Guwedie VcnerdV 

(•* * Welcome Thursday and Friday ! ') 

** Thinking they were a party of reapers— /M/a«j esse messores — by way of helping them on, Lambert, 
catching the tune, sang in rhythm : — 

** * E lo Sabato, e la Domenica.' / 

("*And Saturday — Sunday too.') 

** Which was so well done that the dancers all burst out laughing, and feeling respect for such an admirable 
poet, pulled him out, made him dance and feast with them. And then a merry devil *' (Pipernus calls him a 
diabolus^ but he must have been a jolly one) "jumped up behind, and with one tremendous jerk, which was like 
drawing a tooth, causing great but momentary pain — intenso scd momentaneo dolore — took away his hump. 
At which Laml^ert screamed out, O Jesu, Vir^^o Marja ! when the whole spuk^ or enchantment, vanished — 
lights, plate, dishes, all the splendour and glory of the festival had gone. Still Lambert had not exactly the 
feeling of one who treads alone some banquet hall deserted — for the hump had gone too with all the witches, 
and he found himself a magnificently tall, strsught figure ; — when witches do do a thing, they * does it hand- 
some,' as a certain ' unfortunate nobleman ' was in the habit of saying. 

** He went home and knocked in the early dawn» while it was three-quarters dark, and la signora 
Lambert looking out bade him b^one. Quis est iste temerarius ? — * Who is that cheeky vagabond ? * was her 


indignant cry. Lambertus /««j— " Thy Lambert ! ' he replied. *.The voice indeed is Lambert's,' she answered, 
* but you're not the man.' And then alta voce proclamans-^x2i\s\ng a row— she called in all the neighbours and 
relations, who, after duly examining him and listening with awe and delight to his tale of the adventure 
by the great Walnut-Tree, passed, him on as all right. But the change in his personal appearance must have 
been very great, for our author states that * the next day when he walked the streets of Altavilla even his 
best creditors did not recognise him.' To which he adds in an airy, impudent manner, * Such cases are very 
common with us,' and many writers record them qitos brevitate ami/iimus— which I omit for want of 


I should like to have seen some of those " numerous cases." 
It is — as I have before remarked — very remarkable that in Italy there are 
two very distinct and contradictory currents' of Witch-lore. One is the true old 
Latin-Etruscan legend, in which the witch is merely a sorceress or enchantress, 
generally benevolent and kind. She is really a fata, like the French f/e, who 
is always a lady, loving children and helping poor men. There is in this witch- 
craft nothing to speak of, of selling souls to the devil, and all the loathsome abomi- 
nations of living only for evil. There are good witches and bad, the old Canidia 
of Horace still exists, but though she lames donkeys and blasts vines, she does 
not make a specialty of getting people to hell. The Italians seem to have 
believed that men could do that abundantly well for themselves, without help. 

The other current is of the diabolical sort, and it is due almost entirely to the 
Church and the priests. This is the kind which caused the witch-mania, with its- 
tortures and burnings. It is very curious that despite pill the efforts of Saint 
Barbato, and an army of theologians after him, the old genial classic associations 
still survive, and the witches of Benevento.are still believed to be a beautiful, gay 
and festive society, whose queen is Diana — with very little of Hecate-Hexe in her. 
In proof of this I am supplied with another legend by the same authority as that 
from whom I obtained the tale of the lamb. 

" There was at Benevento a poor family whose members gained their living by going about the country 
and getting fruit, which they sold. One day the younjg;est son was roaming, trying to see what he could find, 
when he beheld a Walnut-tree — but one so beautiful c/te era una cosa di non credere — 'twas hardly credible 
what nuts were on it ! 

" Truly he thought he had a good thing of it, but as he gathered the nuts they opened, and from every 
one came a beautiful little lady who at once grew to life-size. They were gay and merry, and so fair — 
parevano occhi di sole — they seemed like eyes of the sun. Sweet music sounded from the leaves, they made 
him dance ; 'twas a fine festa 1 

'* But he did not for all that forget why he had come there, and that the family at home wanted bread. 
But the ladies, who were fairies (fate\ knew this, and when the dancing was over they gave him some of the 
nuts. And they said : * When you shall be at home open two of these, keep a third for the king's daughter, 
and take this little basket- {pagnerina) full to the king. And tell the queen's daughter not to open her 
walnut till she shall have gone to bed.' 

"And when he had returned and opened his nut there poured from it such a stream of gold that be 


<t •* 


found himself richer than the king. So he built himself a castle of extraordinary splendour, all of precious 
stones. And opening the second nut there came from it such a magnificent suit of clothes that when he put 
it on he was the handsomest man in the world. 

** So he went to the king and was well received. But when he asked for the hand of the princess, the 
monarch replied that he was very sorry, but he had promised his daughter to another prince. For this other 
the princess had no love at all, but she was enamoured ^ prima msta with the youth. 

" So she accepted the nut, and went to bed, but oh wonder ! what should come out of it but the young 
man who had asked her in marriage ! Now as she could not help herself, and, moreover, had no special 
desire to be helped, she made the best of it, and suffered him not only to remain, but to return, which he did, 
zealously, full many a time ; with the natural result that in the course of events the princess found herself 
ituifiia, or with child, and declared that * something must be done.' • 

"And this was arranged. She went to her father and said that she would never marry the prince to 
whom he had betrothed her, and that there should be a grand assembly of youths, and they should agree that, 
let her choose whom she would, they would support her choice. So it was done, and there were feasts, balls, 
and at last a great assembly of young men. 

"Among these appeared her own lover — qtul giovane delle noce — * that young man of the walnuts.' 
And he was dressed like a poor peasant, and sat at the table among the humblest who were there. Then the 
princess went from one to the other of those who wished to marry her. And she found some fault in every 
one, till she came to her own lover, and said : * That is the one whom I choose,* and threw her handkerchief 
at him — which was the sign that she would marry him. 

" Then all who were present were enraged that she should have selected such a pezzefUe, or beggar, nor 
was the king himself well pleased. At last it was arranged that there should be a combat, and that if the 
young man could hold his own in it he might marry the princess. 

" Now he was strong and brave, yet this was a great trial. But the Ladies of the Walnut Tree helped 
their friend, so that all fell before him. Never a sword or lance touched him in the fray, he bore a charmed 
life, and the opposing knights went down before him like sheep before a wolf. 

" Fu il vicitore. He was the victor. And he wedded the daughter of the king ; and after a few months 
she gave birth to a bel bambino — a beautiful babe who was called, in gratitude to the fairy ladies, The Nut of 
Benevento. And so they were happy and contented." 

I have done scant justice to this poem — for a poem it was, as I heard it 
sung with feeling and expression, and yet there was in it neither metre to speak 
of nor rhyme to mention, only such as the beautiful Italian language supplies to 
all who can sing. It does not seem to be known to all that all Italian fairy 
tales are really poems, and often sung by the contadine — as were all the American 
Red Indian traditions. The witches of the Walnut-Tree appear in this tale as 
fairies, but 'tis all one — they are the same charming souls as those who remove 
Lamberto's hump, and make the young man his own father. I cannot deny that 
they certainly do manifest a decided disposition to play the most eccentric erotic 
tricks, and confirm what William Grant Stewart says of the Scotch fairies, that 
" their appetites are as keen and voluptuous as their inclinations are corrupt and 
wicked " — wicked here meaning what I once heard another Scotchman define as 
" vara leecherous." It will be observed that the walnut which produces a child 
is effectively given in another guise in this tale, and that this, coupled with the 
assertion of PiPERNUS, induces me to believe that in substance these two tales are 


extremely ancient. They are also valuable in proof of the fact that, in spite of 
the incessant efforts of the monks to carry out the declaration made in Psalm 
xcvi. 5, that " all the gods of the Gentiles are devils," there were exceptions in 
which the beautiful and benevolent spirits of the ancient time survived the 
Hebrew-Catholic calumnies. It is worth noting that the last half of this talc 
corresponds exactly with an incident narrated in an Icelandic saga. 

But to return to our Walnut-tree. Janet Ross tells us in her Land of Manfred 
that Monsignor Schinosi gave her the following from a MS. history of Benevento 
by Nicastro : — 

" In the time of Romuald the Longobards worshipped golden vipers, and the Duke himself, though he 
had promised to Bishop Barbatus that he would embrace Christianity, had an altar in his palace on which 
stood a winged two-headed golden drngon, with two sphinxes in jasper on either side, and various idols from 
the temple of Isis. This angered the bishop, who, helped by the Duchess Theodorada, his disciple, went 
with an axe and broke the dragon and idols to pieces. Of the fragments of the winged monster he made a 
chalice for his church. He then cut down the tree." 

It may be all as true as the other tale, but this account of gold vipers, dragons, 
and Egyptian idols has a bric-^-brac shop-look which seems to have come — if a 
look can come — from the rococoanut of some later writer. But it may be all 
right. Non nobis tantce componere lites. 

Witches and Witchcraft. 

"Oc eru ther hiner mestu flaugd konur, ther kanna Galldra oc Bolkyngi, so ecki standist noytt vid 

("And there are many evil women who know incantations and magic, so that no one can harm them.") — 
Ulf Uggason's Saga, 

" It seems to me strange," I remarked one day, " that no vien seem to practise 
witchcraft ! " 

"Oh, but there are, though," remarked my Head-Collectress. " Why, there is 
2i priest here in Florence who is a streghoneT 

" Santo ! Now, if you had told me there was a thief in the police I should 
not have been a.stoni.shed. But he can't be a real wizard." 

^^ Ma si, Gesualda there knows him. And you can see him yourself if 
you want to." 

I thought on the whole I did not want to. For I knew that, in the first 
place, I should be introduced as a stregone Inglese^ and then something came into 
my head about one Cato, who marvelled that one agur could look another in the 
fece. Not that I had any fear of mutual smiling or winking — the confessional 



gives a command of countenance beyond words. But I was seized with great 
admiration of a priest who could be honest enough to call himself by his right 
name, and asked how he came to practise our noble profession. 

"Ah!" cried the witch, with a smile, "he couldn't help himself. He had to I 

become one. He was called in to confess a witch who was dying, and did not , 

know with whom he had to deal. So she got her confession, and then said */ 

she had something to leave " him. Would he have it ? Oh, wouldn't he ! 5/, j 

sicuro, * Then,' she cried, * I leave you my witchcraft ! ' And before he could \ 

say a word she was dead and off, and he found himself a wizard." 

Some time after I had written the foregoing sentence I received from another 
source the following additional authentic information regarding this goblin priest, 
of whose real existence I have not the least doubt : — 

*' This priest was called in to convert an old woman, who, saying that she had something, continually 
repeated : ' I have no relations — to whom shall I leave it ? to whom shall I leave it ? I cannot leave this 
world till that is left.' Then the priest said: * Leave it to me !' Then the old woman at once gave him a 
small key to a certain box or casket, and died. When the priest opened the casket he found in it a mouse. 
And so the spirit of witchcraft came on him. 

"And when it comes, if the witch touches any person, he or she will be l)ewitched, and waste away or 
die. But this priest, being a good man, would not touch or embrace people at such times, but, going into 
the country, touched trees, or grain, or maize, and whatever he touched dried up. So he did as little harm as 
was possible ; but for all this he could not help being a wizard." 

This Story is extremely interesting from the mention of the mouse. This 
was the soul of the witch. Pra^torius, in his Anthropodemus Plutonicus^ tells a 
marvellous story of a witch whose soul came out of her mouth as a red mouse, 
which idea Goethe uses in Faust. As my informant was herself in the sister- 
hood of sorcery, I have no doubt that she made out as strong a case as was 
possible to prove that all the power and sanctity of the Church and of 
Christianity could not avail to remove the awful might of stregoneria. But 
she believed what she narrated to me, and it is interesting to know that in the 
city of Florence in the month of January, 1891, there were people who believe 
in a prehistoric Shamanism which is stronger and mightier than that of the 
Church. Ages have lapped over ages, the Etruscan and Sabine- Latin and Roman 
and Christian cults have succeeded one to the other, but through it all the 
witch and wizard, humble and unnoted, have held their own. 

But, in fact, as I became familiar with the real, deeply seated belief in a 
religion of witchcraft in Tuscany, I found that there is no such great anomaly 
after all in a priest's being a wizard, for witchcraft is a business, like any other. 
Or it may come upon you like love, or a cold, or a profession, and you must 
bear it till you can give it or your practice to somebody else. What is pleasant 

I r • • • * 


to reflect on is that there is no devil in it If you lose it you at once become 
good, and you cannot die till you get rid of it. It is not considered by any 
means a Christianly, pious possession, but in some strange way the Strega works 
clear of Theology. True, there are witches good and bad, but all whom I ever 
met belonged entirely to the buone. It was their rivals and enemies who were 
maladette streghCy et cetera^ but the latter I never met. We were all good. 

What seems incredible and utterly contradictory to all this is the fact that 
during the Middle Ages witchcraft, supposed to be based on a compact with the 
devil, raged in Italy — witness the rubbish written by PiCUS DE MiRANDOLA, 
Grillandus, Peter Pipernus, and scores more. And it is absolutely true 
that before this Hell carnival, and after it, and deep, deep under it, there was 
alive all the time among the people the old ante-Etrusco- Roman sorcery, and with 
it another witchcraft which had nothing to do with hell or devils, or original sin 
or anything Hebrew-Persian-Christian — and it lived, unheeding learned men and 
priests and their piety. 

The witch-mania died, and the Church is dying fast, and yet here, in Tuscany, 
the witchcraft without a devil or a god — the Shamanism of oldest times with a 
little later Etruscan-Roman colouring, still survives — as indeed everything in this 
book indicates. The knowledge inspires a very strange reflection as to what the 
real nature of the Northern Italian can be like. For such a capacity for survival 
indicates character. The conservatism of the old Roman was his peculiar trait. 
It was not a blind adherence like that of the Egyptian to an established order of 
things, for it was based on common sense. This is strongly manifested in the 
works of Cato and of Varro on agriculture. They strictly observed all the old 
rites ; nay, they even taught spells, much like the incantations of the witches. But 
under it all there was a spirit of independence. Cato says {De Agricultural c. 3, 
S) : " Rem divinam, nisi Conpititalibus in conpito aut in foco ne facit — haruspicem, 
augurem, hariolum, Chaldaeum ne quem consulisse velit, segetem ne defrudet, nam 
id infelix est" 

Italy has never wanted in her darkest hours — as in the days of Crescentius, 
or in those of the Borgias — for C^iiSAR BORGiA aimed at a united Italy ; and 
Machiavelli was a true patriot — a few enlightened minds. So it seems to me 
that even in this peasant witchcraft which held its own despite the Church, there 
is a kind of conservatism which will not yield to the Church, that is to a form of 
supernaturalism which is too powerful. It is blind, humble, and ignorant, but it 
has a kind of vitality and of independence which indicates great power. 

It is not so very absurd, in the face of hypnotism and the known influences of 
the imagination (whatever that may be), for ignorant peasants to believe in ^.limited 


amount of spells and magic. Cato did as much, and he was as sensible a man as 
ever lived. What is wonderful in it is that this limited amount of superstition has 
held its own against the stupendous, subtle influence of a far greater superstition. 
It may be as Marcellus says, Venenum veneno vincitur. 

When I have been asked by people of average ordinary minds " In what do 
gypsies believe ? " it often occurred to me that the proper answer would be '* In 
just what you do-^that is, in nothing at all." For the mere indifferent, unthinking 
admission of the truths of a religion, or the existence of a God, does not constitute 
faith^ and there are very few persons, let us say in London, who, if a new kind of 
religion should become fashionable, would not fall in to it with very little thought 
as to its real nature. But a question in science, be it of chemistry, political economy, 
public health, navigation, or morals, cannot be thus easily acquiesced in, for it 
demands act we intelligence. A priest settles a disputed point in theolog)- very 
easily by his ipse dixit^ but a lawyer cannot clear his client by merely expressing 
his conviction of his innocence. He must work hard to prove his point. 

But however lukewarm an indifferent Christian may be, there is always that 
to be drawn from his general course of life which shows the faith in which he was 
born, and so as regards Tuscan or other witches and wizards, while they make no 
profession of any doctrines, one can deduce from their traditions and spells 
several curious and very original points, which were doubtless at one time taught 
or believed in with great zeal. They are as follows : — 

The reader will have observed from several passages or anecdotes in this work 
that witchcraft as it now exists in Italy is utterly unlike the same as it was or is 
represented to be in Northern Europe. Sometimes the latter as it was taught by 
priests, with its principle of selling the soul to the devil, and as a thing entirely vile 
and diabolical, appears. But this is all Christian. The real stregoneria of Italy, 
and especially of Tuscany, is in se absolutely heathen. It has nothing to do with 
pacts with Satan, or hell, or heaven. When the devil, or devils, are mentioned 
in it, they are under false colours, for they are simply spirits, perhaps evil, but not 
beings solely intent on destroying souls. According to Roman Catholic, and I 
may truly add early Protestant, doctrines there are incredible swarms of devils (far 
outnumbering the good spirits), who are all the time occupied in tempting and 
damning mankind, in most cases succeeding with great ease. 

The Italian stregoneria is like an endowment. It may be voluntarily assumed 
by keeping company with witches, studying their lore, and taking part in their 
enchantments. But this may be done either in a good or evil spirit, and in neither 
case is the soul to be damned for it in a Christian sense. The witches evidently 
are not SQ far advanced in humanity and the religion of illimitable Divine mercy 


and love as to conceive that a soul can be sent to hell eternally for a forgotten 
Ave Maria^ as is beautifully illustrated by a number of well-authenticated Catholic 
tales. The gift of witchcraft is not indeed for every one. Many long for it, but in 
fact very few attain it in its upper or higher grades. But one who gets it must keep 
it till some other person will take it — in which case the witch is, as it were, absolved 
and washed clean of all her sins. Nay, she can cunningly induce an unsuspicious 
person to take the power, by pretending to leave her a legacy — the precious 
legacy being her stregeria. For as she cannot die while she is a witch, and very 
often desires to do so, either to go to heaven or otherwise occupy herself, it 
sometimes requires all her ingenuity to work off the commodity. As I have 
mentioned, there is now a priest in Florence who was thus taken in by a dying 
witch, who after getting absolution from him, ungratefully swindled him by offering 
a legacy which he accepted and which turned him into a wizard. And now he 
runs about town, alternately confessing and conjuring — giving the sacraments I 
suppose ** in either form," like an eclectic doctor who treats his patients either 
allopathically or homeopathically, just as they prefer. 

Italian witchcraft may be lost, in Venice, by the witch's spilling even one drop 
of blood while she is exercising her supernatural power, or even by being caught 
at it. In a Florentine story, told in another place, a girl is //^-witched by being 
violently detained from going to the sabbat All of this indicates a radically 
different kind of witch from the one described by Sprenger Bodinus, Wierus, and 
a thousand other writers. 

But what is most remarkable of all is the belief that very great wizards and 
witches when they die become great spirits, who sweep over the country in clouds 
or vapours or storms, or wander on earth disguised as mortals. This is precisely 
the doctrine of North American Red Indians, among whom one hears continually 
of Glooskaps, Manobozhos, and Hiawathas, once human sorcerers, but never a 
word of any Great Spirit, except at treaties with the Government and interviews 
with missionaries, such a being having been quite unknown to them till they heard 
of him from the whites. In the shamanistic stage, man is always Euhemeristic, 
and makes his departed friends or great men into spirits. 

It is also believed in the Romagna that those who are specially of the Strega 
faith die, but reappear again in human forms. This is a rather obscure esoteric 
doctrine, known in the witch families but not much talked about. A child is born, 
when, after due family consultation, some very old and wise strcga detects in it a 
long-departed grandfather by his smile, features, or expression. So the world-old 
Shamanism of the Grand Lama of Thibet is maintained — that strange and mys- 
terious centre of the world's earliest " religion." 


Dr. O. W. Holmes has shrewdly observed that when a child is born, some 
person old enough to have triangulated the descent, can recognise very often the 
grandparent or great-uncle in the descendant. In the witch families, who cling 
together and intermarry, these triangulations lead to more frequent discoveries of 
palingenesis than in others. In one of the strange stories in this book relating 
to Benevento, a father is born again as his own child, and then marries his second 
mother. But the spirit of the departed wizard has at times certainly some choice 
in the matter, and he occasionally elects to be born again as a nobleman or prince. 
Hence the now and then startling phenomenon of a count or marquis with an un- 
usual amount of intelligence, for which nobody can account, not even on the ground 
of a clever and handsome German tutor, or a season in London or Paris. There 
are always some wise men in Italy who are true and honest patriots, and 
according to the doctrines of stregeria we owe them all to the very ancient and 
learned if not quite respectable college of wizards, to which, however, if this 
doctrine be true, the country owes its salvation. At any rate the idea is 
original, and it might be adopted to advantage in some other countries where 
the statesmen are certainly no conjurors. 

Since writing the above I obtained the following information regarding the 
transmigration of souls, and the reappearance of ancestors in their descendants. 
And a precious time I had to disentangle or make sense of it — which may serve as 
a hint to those who come after the pioneer in such a wilderness, who has made the 
path straight for them, not to sneer at him for " inaccuracy." Truly my informant 
was not wanting in faith or zeal, but she was far inferior to a Passamaquoddy 
Indian who has been trained in tradition in the art of understanding one's self. 

** Sometimes in his life a man may say, 'After my death I may be born again a wizard, (for) I would like 
to live again I ' But it is not necessary even to declare this, because if he has said such a thing, even unthink- 
ingly to witches — sensa neppure pensarvi ai strcgoni — they hear and observe it. So it will come to pass that' 
he may be born again even from the childsen of the children of his children, and so be his own great -great 
grandson, or great-grandson, or grandson. 

** And when such a one is born he or she is known as wizard or witch, for such an one will have fierce 
eyes {con occhi burbert)^ very lowering or evil, very thick hair, and such are the most malignant of all. And 
such a one was born in a part of the Romagna called Castrocaro. This was a girl who grew up with a wicked 
mind, and a hard heart, or rather no heart at all, so that as a woman she had none for her own children. And 
she said one day that she would be born again as a witch to be revenged on those whom she hated, which 
meant everybody, for she loved nobody. 

** And so it came to pass many years after, the wife of her nephew gave birth to a daughter with lowering 
bad eyes, and heavy black hair, the very picture of a witch. And in a dream the mother heard : — 

" ' This thy child 
Is not thy child. 
But an evil witch 
Who will be full wild ! 


And befal what may befal, 
She will do much ill to all ! * 

" And so it turned out that she was re- born a girl in form, but really a spirit of evil and revenge ; for 
before long everybody in Castrocaro was ill and the children bewitched. The poor mother was obliged to 
become a witch, and obey her terrible daughter, and do all the wicked deeds which she commanded, and 
dared confess it to no one. 

" The father of this terrible being at last understood the whole, and acted thus : He arranged a grand 
festivity and ball in a great open public place. And he assembled there on one side all who had been the 
victims of the witch, while on the other were many priests with holy water. At eleven o'clock they had 
supper, and at tuxlvc the witches wished to escape. But the priests held them fast, and obliged the 
daughter to cure, or unbewitch, all her victims. And they bound her with ropes and sang :— 

** * Tutto il male che tu ai fatta, 
Tu lo possa riparare, 
£ in cielo tu tu non possa andare, 
Ne in forma di gatto e di nessuno animale, 
Tu possa tornare 
Ret/uia scan tinpace. Amen ! ' 

(" 'Every sin beneath the sun 
Due to thee must be undone ! 
Happiness thou ne*er shalt know. 
Unto heaven thou canst not go, 
As a cat no more thou'lt glide, 
Or in such form on earth abide. 
Neither shalt thou vex or slay men, 
RequiesccU in pace. Amen t ') 

'' And then the witch-spirit, making a terrible sound as of rattling chains, and spreading fire, disappeared 
and was never seen again." 

In this we may trace the process by which the witch or sorcerer, by being 
re-borrty becomes more powerful, and passes to the higher stage of a spirit. This 
is extremely interesting, because it gives a clearer understanding of the method 
by which the man or woman who is feared is developed to a god. It is quite the 
same in Brahminism, or Buddhism, or Tibetan Shamanism. New incarnations in 
human form give greater power. This story is the more remarkable because the 
narrator was perfectly convinced of its truth. 

In connection with this tale, the narrator observed that there are witches 
very good as well as very bad, and an aristocracy far above the vulgar or common 
kind. She, in fact, impressed it on me that there are the same distinctions in the 
world of sorcery as in this of ours. 

"The belief that men could become gods," writes Mrs. Hamilton Gray 
{Hist of Etruria)^ " is very old Etruscan. In the Acherontic Books of Tages, 
translated by Labeo, there were certain rites through which the souls of men 



could become gods, entitled " Dii-Animales," because they had been human souls. 
These were first Penates and Lares, before they could become superior divinities." 
Which agrees accurately with the modern belief as here set forth. 

What is very peculiar is that these devotees believe in two distinct sets or 
systems of supernatural beings — one of the saints, angels, and the " hierarchy 
celestial " of the Scriptures, and the other of " the spirits," which latter, when 
examined, turns out to be the old Etruscan mythology, with such Shamanic 
additions as have been made to it by the deaths of distinguished wizards. As 
illustrating both this and the belief in the power of a promise or vow once made 
to the spirits, I give a curious story, which is the more curious because the woman 
from whom I obtained it absolutely believed in its truth. Its proper place would 
perhaps have been among the Spirits, as it was given me to illustrate the manner 
in which spirits, or folktti^ came into existence ; but it has a closer relation to 
what is discussed in this chapter. 


*' 2^nchl was a man who was generally loved and esteemed, and who was devoted to his family. He 
had first one wife, who died, and then another, who did not live long, and by each of these he had a son. 
His heart was, however, passionately set on having a daughter. Then he married again, and had two 
more sons by this third wife, at which h6 was tulto disperaiot or almost desperate, to think that he could 
not have so small a favour granted, which would have been such a great one to him. Now, of his children 
all died save two. And he continued to pray for a daughter, and appealed not only to all the saints, but 
also to the ancient spirits of the land, declaring that if he could only have his desire he would gladly die 
— that is, provided he could revisit earth and see the child. 

" Now this vow did not pass unnoticed ; for though the saints heeded it not the spirits did, and not 
long after he had a daughter, whom he loved dearly ; but when the little girl was eight months old, the 
vow was called for, and the father left this world for another. Now his widow was a tender-hearted and 
devout woman, loving the sons of her husband as much as her own daughter. And every night she prayed 
before an image for her son and husband who had passed away. 

" And one night she saw a form bending over the sleeping daughter, and as it looked up she saw 
that it was the spirit of her husband. And so he came night after night. In time the widow died ; but 
Zaochi, from his vow, became a spirit, and continued to visit his children, especially the daughter." 

Here we see that a man, by a prayer to the heathen spirits of old, becomes 
one of them. There is no indication that he is punished — he simply is transferred 
entirely into another region. 

It may be observed from all the incantations in this book, that even the 
worst of the mischief-making by Italian witches is based on individual ill-feeling. 
In German or English witchcraft the sorceress acts from " pure cussedness," on 
general principles, not sparing friend or foe, and doing anything which would 
please the devil The Stregone or the Strega^ acts from jealousy, envy, or personal 


hatred. Or he or she injures a person because of being paid to do it to please a 
third person. The folletti, or spirits, do mischief, but it is because the peasants 
never bless them, or, worse still, speak disrespectfully of them. It is said quite 
exceptionally of Spulviero that, when alive as a wizard, he was so evilly-disposed 
that he injured every one indifferently. This would have only been his duty, 
according to the pictures of his class as drawn by the old ecclesiastical witch- 
doctors. In Italy revenge is almost as deeply cherished as it is in the frontier 
lands of America — hence we find a great deal of it in witchcraft ; but this is mere 
human nature. 

The following sketch of witchcraft is very curious, as giving in fullest form 
the counter-charm against sorcery. It was partly recited, partly sung or mur- 
mured : — 

'' In the Tuscan Roroagna are always many witches, and twice a week they meet in council. 

*' Witches great and small, 
Meet to consider 
What they must be doing 
On Friday and Tuesday. 
On Friday and Tuesday 
Then they hold meeting 
In other forms, changed 
To dogs, cats, or mules, 
Of goats there are many, 
And go forth to follow 
The tasks which are set them. 

" Now it happened two years ago (1889) that a poor woman had a very beautiful baby, two months 
old. And one morning, after having attended to it, she went forth to work out of the house, when, 
turning round, she saw a strange cat leap out of her door. And feeling that it was a witch who had 
injured her child, grasping the cat in a great rage, she tore from it a handful of fur. 

" Entering the house. 
She sought in the chamber — 
Sought for her infant — 
On the bed, under, 
But nowhere could find it, 
When in the fireplace 
She heard a strange wailing ; 
And in the fireplace, 
On coals hot-glowing, 
*Mid the wood flaming, 
She saw the baby. 
As in a glory. 
Quietly seated. 
Harmed in nothing. 



" So she took her child up, and being sure that this was witchcraft, she made a charm. 

** For she put the cat*s hair 
In a red scarlet bag, 
With the juniper berries. 
Frankincense and cummin, 
Salt, crumbs of bread, 
Many iron filings. 
Horse-scrapings in powder, 
With a witch-medal. 
Three blaCk-headed pins. 
Three red, and three yellow, 
Three cards from a pack — 
From a pack which is Roman — 
The seven of spades, 
Wliich causes confusion ; 
The seven of clubs. 
Which makes tears and sorrow ; 
And the queen of spades. 
Ordained for the witches.' 

" Then all this is put under a heavy weight — let it be as heavy as possible — and then say : — 

" * All of this I do 

For the accursed witch. 

That she may not live, 

Nor eat, nor drink (in peace) ! 

And I put not this bag 

Under the weight, 

But the body and soul 

Of that witch accursed, 

That she may not live or stand 

Until she gives health 

Again to my child 1 * 

** Then the witch will come again to the door every day in the form of a cat, wailing and imploring 
peace. And so this one came ; and then the woman took a skein {gomitolo, n bottom) of thread, and 
threw it three times in the air. Then the child recovered its health and the mother burned the cat's hair ; 
and so there was an end to the bewitchment.*' ' 

It seems as if, by the putting the child in the fire, where it sat unharmed, 
there is a reminscence of Ceres, who did the same with the infant Triptolemus, 
to make it immortal. Perhaps the witch did it to make a witch of it. There is 
no explanation of the reason, and it seems altogether misplaced and mysterious, 
unless this be the cause of it. If we take it altogether, this story is as strange 
— one may say as classical — as any of Roman times. 

' In the original — " Che si battezza per la Strega " : that is, baptised or consecrated for the witch, 
' I am obliged to omit the original text for want of space. 


Witches of a certain class have their homes in wild and strange places. Thus 
I have been told that — 

" When one passes by a cavern where witches dwell — sian folletii^ siano le fate — or it may be 
goblins or fairies — one makes the sign of la casta^na^ and repeats : — 

** * O Strega maladetta ! 

Che da me tu possa stare 
Sempre distante ! ' " 


(** * Oh witch accursed ! 
Mayst thou ever be 
Far away from me ! '") 

Information on this subject was often given to me in such a mad, eccentric 
manner with wild sounds that it is really difficult to convey it by writing. The 
following was half-sung, half-recited ; but the " ji, si" or " yes, yes," was always 
sung, and sometimes with a strange laugh : — 

•* Witches make boats with the feathers of birds. And in a minute they fly — 

" In a minute they fly 

Over land and rivers ; 

But you must beware, w, sit 
How you make children's beds \vith feathers. 

And if one has children, jj, si! 
With the feathers of beds they will do them great harm. 

And you'll find within them, jj, si! 
Crowns made with feathers in the form of a capon. 

And look out for that, si, si! 

Dal farci donnir i bambi 

Se non veli voUte fare stregar. 

If you want the children to sleep. 

And not have them bewitched, 
You must keep them away from feathers. 

And now it is finished, ii, si! 

Tell your story, my friend, si, sit 

For mine has come to an end, si, si!" 

In this wild song, which was not improvised but repeated as if it were well 
known, and a part of some longer narrative (my informant was very particular as 
to my putting si, si in the right places), the allusion to boats made of feathers is 
classical " Feathers," says Friedrich, " are a symbol of flight and inspiration. 
So the Muses were represented as having feathers on their heads to express poetic 
flight and rapture." " They had won them from the Sirens." The allusion to the 
capons is explained in the chapter on the Spell of the Black Hen. 


But there was in all this mad witch-song a something mocking, and, as it 
were, unexplained. Perhaps the final recommendation to keep children from' 
feathers — that is, from poetry and inspiration — unless we would have them become 
witches or lunatics, explains it all. But the reader cannot fail to observe that in 
many of the incantations which I have given there is an inexplicably wild mysterious 
spirit, which seems derived from unknown sources, and which differs entirely from 
those of other countries. There is hardly a trace of it in the gypsy incantations 
of Wlislocki, or in those of the English Book of Fate. 

As there are witches good and bad, so they give presents which may bring 
good or evil fortune ; but these must be accepted with great suspicion, or a man 
may find himself indiavolato^ or bedevilled, ere he knows it. If one has unwittingly 
accepted from some old woman dried chestnuts, or nuts, or almonds, and then 
suspects she is a witch, they should not be eaten, or he may find himself 

*' In such a case, let him wait till Tuesday or Friday, and then take green broom-plant {^inestra), 
exactly at noon or midnight. Then make the broom into a cross, and put it on the fire, and on it the 
gifts of the suspected witch, and say : — 

'* * Se sei una strega ! 
Strega, strega, strega 1 
Tu sia maladetta, 
£ sia per il camin 
Maladetta, tu possa saltare 
Come queste nuoce — 
(O qualunque altra cosa sia) 
Brucciata tu possa restare ! ' 

(** * If thou art a witch ! 
Witch, witch, witch ! 
Cursed shalt thou be ! 
And if, like these nuts, 
I can see thee jump, 
Jump up through the chimne}-, 
And burn away from me ! *) 

" But the witches are crafty. One of their tricks is to let fall an enchanted ring. And if any person 
picks this up, and puts it on a finger, he will begin to waste away like a burning candle. Then he, finding 
this, must make a great fire of broom {^nestra\ and barracocolo di ginestra and put the ring close by the fire 
and say : — 

Se questo anello e stregato 
Su per il cammino possa saltare, 
Incompagnia della granata 
Che io ho appogiato, 
Appogiato al focolare \ * 

(I « 

ZANCHI. 207 

(*' ' If this ring should be bewitched. 
May it up the chimney fly 
With the broom which I for peace 
Have leaned against the mantlepiece ! ') 

"Then if the ring be bewitched it will fly up the chimney, but be prompt at that instant to make the 
casiagna with both hands, else it will fall back and the man be as bewitched as ever." 

There is yet another incantation when one has received any gift of eatables 
from an old woman. Take a broom and put it by the fire, and throw some of the 
suspected food into the flame and say : — 

" * Se la robba 

Che tu o vecchia indegnata 

Mi ha data, 

Lei e' stregata, 

Nel tempo stesso che la butto, 

Nel fuoco o vecchia indegnata : 

Tre colpi possa fare, 

Uno sopra il cammino, 

Che tu possa accetare, 

Uno dalla flnestra, 

Che quella sempre arda e la tempesta, 

Ed uno della porta 

Che in casa mia entrare 

Pill non possa ! 

Strega, strega, strega ! 

Vile e nera, brutta strega!*" 

(** * If these things which here I see, 
By thee, vile witch, bewitched be, 
In the fire the things I throw. 
And as sign to let thee know : 
Three blows I strike, to let thee see- 
One on the chimney, straight at thee, 
One on the window at thy form — 
And may it stir thee like a storm — 
And one at last upon the door. 
That thou mayst never enter more ! 
Witch, witch, accursed witch, 
Vile and dark and black as pitch ! ' *') 

It may be here observed that witches of the wicked kind work their worst 
spells by means of giving food, and that this forms a much more prominent feature 
in Italian sorcery than in any other. Thus they make people into animals or 
compel them to believe themselves changed into persons of another sex. For this 
they were famed of old as Fulgosus (lib. 8, cap. 2) relates: "There are in Italy 







certain women, who by certain kinds of food, act on human minds so that they 
believe themselves to be what they are not." These ideas were probably produced 
firstly by suggestion or hypnotism, and secondly by administering certain poisons, 
such as stramonium which causes strange delusions. Fulgosus, indeed, suggests 
that these are delusions, and that probably the turning men into pigs by Circe, and 
the Egyptian girl who believed herself to be a mare and was cured by Hilarion, 
were all cakes baked from the same meal. In which the reader will no doubt 
agree with him. 

The street-boys and canaille, who are as cruel in Italy as in other countries, 
have a very easy method for ascertaining whether an old woman is a witch. 
Should you see one in the street, you must follow her, making the sign of the 
castagnUy and cry out many times aloud at her, " Witch, witch, witch ! Fico ! ' 
(a fig, meaning the sign of the castagna). And if she turns round and answers : 
" Zident ! " ( Romagnola, in Italian, Accidente !) " Bad luck to you ! " you may be 
sure she is a witch. But she must reply with this word, and not with any other. 

The witch is not so much identified in Italy with the broom as a steed, as in 
Northern Europe. She generally rides a goat. But she is kept away or exorcised 
with a broom, which is of very old Latin origin. The broom was anciently a 
symbol of purification — hence a magic protection against evil spirits who love 
dirt. Thus Varro relates that when a child was born, the threshold was 
touched with a broom, a hatchet, and a pestle, to keep away spirits, which is 
quite like the Romagnola custom of laying a broom across the door to prevent 
the entrance of witches. In fact, in every one of the instances which I have 
collected the only allusion to the broom as regards witches is as a thing which 
they utterly dread. What Silvanus (regarded as a mischief-making spirit) chiefly 
dreaded was the broom, the hatchet, and the pestle, or the three principal symbols 
of culture, cleanliness, and fertility. 

Since writing the foregoing I have learned the following, which proves that 
the whole of the ancient rite as described by Varro is still observed. 

** When a babe is borni to free it from witches one should take a hatchet, a pestle, and a broom, and all 
these are to be put in a cross on the threshold of the door, and the one who does this must say : — 

** * Tutto questo I'ho incrociato 
Perche voialtre strege maladelte, 
II soglio della mia (casa) 
Non potete traversare ! ' " 

(** * With these things a cross I make, 
Cursed witches, for your sake, 
That ye may no further come, 
To trouble me in this my home ! * ") 


TYiQ pestle, for some reason, is regarded as being very effective in magic. 

Witches in Italy as in the Danubian provinces love to dance and rock and fly 
in wild mazes, chasing one another on the summits of waving branches, and when 
these move much in but little wind you may be sure that they or the fairies are 

** On the tops of waving trees, 
When they're bending in the breeze, 
That is where the witches dance, 
How they caper, and they prance ! 
Up and down to a piper's tune, 
Frisking in the light of the moon ! " 

Hail and Cloud Men. 

" Hast thou entered into the treasures of the Snow ? or hasf thou seen the treasures of the Hail ?"— 
Job. xxxviii. 22. 

** Fleeting clouds — sailors of the air ! " — Schiller. 

I think it is WASHINGTON Irving who describes a man who wished that he 
were superstitious because he fancied that such a person must live in a kind of 
fairy-land. Walter Scott, too, was always wanting to believe what his strong 
Scotch common sense, fortified by education, rejected. And if the faith of the 
Middle Ages had not taught men that every supernatural conception whatever not 
included in the teachings of the Church was hellish, and fairies and elves, devils, 
men might certainly in the old days of belief have been much happier, and 
surrounded themselves with ever-varying, many-wreathing, golden-starred canopies, 
recognising a spirit-artist's hand in the dew, decking with liquid pearl the bladed 
grass, seeing eyes of light in rain-drops, and hearing love-whispers in the breeze. 
It is worth considering that though CHAUCER wrote that in his time — 

" Now can no man see non elves mo, 


Yet that the instant the curse, or ban, of the Church was removed from 
poetry by the Reformation, Fairy-land revived and flourished in the works of 
Shakespeare, and indeed in those of hundreds if not thousands of other writers. 
In truth, although its first causes were dying out, it received such a great develop- 
ment that its real power was greater than ever, like a strawberry-vine, which, dying 
in one place, sends out its tendrils to another, and from being barren at first, 
becomes in a few removes fertile, bearing abundant ivory blossoms and coral 
golden-spotted fruit. Which indeed holds well, because the strawberry is par 
eminence the fairy-fruit — ^Jerome Bosch in a picture gives it the power of changing 



men into strange beings. This has been little considered. The Elf, who had been 
a literal and yet very limited, or almost commonplace being to the peasant, 
became apotheosised to the refined and cultivated minds of the golden age of 
English literature into an Ariel. And in sober truth, there is no such exquisite 
worship of Elfland as is to be found in the works of SHAKESPEARE, Herrick, 
Drayton, and in innumerable ballads and legends which this fairy Renais- 
sance called to life. Bishop CORBET was quite wrong when he said that the 

"Were of the old profession/' 

or Catholic. They were all devils damned under the Church, and only became 
delightful little deities to the Protestants. 

This view may be new to many of my readers, but it is worth seriously con- 
sidering how very valuable a highly cultivated sense of art, or an instinct for the 
beautiful, preserves men from evil and revolting influences. The peasantry in 
Italy to this day do not quite identify witches with the horrible hags of Germany 
and England, who meet simply to worship the devil. Their chief is not the dirty 
vulgar Devil but beautiful lady-like Diana. Herein we have the result of a 
certain refinement of art which even the monks could never quite extinguish. 

Not only is it true that a man who believes — like a Red Indian — that every tree 
and stone has its indwelling spirit, is always in a kind of fairy-land, but what is also 
worth envying, he is never alone. When he sits in woodland wild *neath green or 
russet tree, he knows the presence of the Elves, or sees by many a sign where they 
have passed. Every relic of the olden time, arrow-heads, pottery, and hollow 
flints, have been touched by fairy hands, much more those older relics of an older 
time, rocks, rivers, and forests. 

There is to the truly refined or cultivated mind an infinite field for this feeling, 
if its possessor is very familiar with such lore, for with it we too can live in Fairy- 
land, and — 

" By a spell to us unknown, 
We can never be alone.*' 

I do not think that Shakespeare or Herrick really "believed " in the 
existence of fairies, but I am very sure that no peasant of the tenth century 
ever peopled the forests and fields with more beautiful fairies and associations 
than they did. And, after all, who knows how much life and mystery and 
fairydom and spirithood really lies hidden in nature — what elements and senses 
and laws underlying laws not as yet known to us? Sleep on, and dream — it 

I •■ 1 ^a 


is not yet time for man to be quite aroused from his rest — you may lie a little 
longer ! 

Read, master, and inwardly digest, oh reader, all this folk-lore of the olden time. 
It will do you no harm though your mind were as full of fairy fancies as ever that 
of Don Quixote's was of the dreams of chivalry. For while the childlike charm or 
poetry is none the less, the historical value and the lessons which it teaches are of 
very great value. You will have read this bopk to little purpose if it has not 
induced you to reflect on the fact that by studying the stupendous errors of the 
past we learn how much of them still remain, and how few of us realise it 

There is, however, a distinct charm in knowledge of what man has really be- 
lieved, whether it be true or false. I love to look at the knurls or knots in trees, 
and remember that they are caused by the heads of witches buried near them, and 
forcing themselves again to life ; or to peer through a flint with a hole in it to help 
my sight, and perhaps see Elves. Or watch the clouds like ships — " sailors of the 
air " — and think of the " treasures of hail " stored in them ! 

And this recalls one of the strangest and most daintily beautiful conceptions of 
the olden time — that there is afar in Cloudland a mysterious city called Magonia, 
where the hail is manufactured, and whence it is carried in ships which look to us 
like " clouds sailing along in golden sunset green." 

The monks who bedevilled, belittled, and dirtied everything, added to this 
fancy that these ships were loaded and manned by witches and devils in order to 
destroy crops, and that for return cargo they were freighted with the fruit thus 
injured or destroyed. On which subject the tenth-century Archbishop Agobard 
of Lyons delivered himself as follows ^ : — 

" Most people are so stupid and unintelligent that they believe and declare that there is a land called 
Magonia, from which come ships sailing through the air, which receive on board all the fruit which is destroyed 
by hail and storms. And that the sorcerers who cause the storms are in connection with the ship-people, and 
are paid by them." 

The same bishop relates that he himself once saved the lives of four human 
beings, three men and a woman, whom the populace wished to stone to death 
because they believed that they were people from Magonia, who had fallen from 
a cloud-vessel, having been " shipwrecked " during a thunder-storm. It is to be 

' Des Deuischen MitUlalters Volksglauben und Heroemagen, von F. L. F. von Dobeneck. Preface 
by Jean Paul Kichter, Berlin, 181 5. This Bishop Agobard was a noble-minded man, a miracle 
for his age, quite free from vulgar superstition, and determinedly opposed to that kind of Christianity 
which believes that there are a million of devils tempting man where one angel comes to his aid, and that 
the devil is far superior to God in power, since he gains more souls than are saved. For such views the 
bishop was greatly persecuted by the Orthodox believers, and died in misery (vide Hokst, Datfionomagia)* 


deeply regretted that the bishop did not give us some account of this quartette — 
how they looked, and what language they spoke. I fancy myself that they would 
have proved to be gypsies ! 

" Like ships far off and out at sea ! " Reader, is there not a charm in this 
conception ; and will you not sometimes recall it when you sit at evening and look 
at the rosy, golden sunset — it may be at the trysting-tree — and see the cloudlets 
steering in the fiery sea, and wish that you two could take passage therein for the 
beautiful, far-away, forgotten city — for Magonia, whose walls are of aerial 
amethyst, and citadels of vapoury emerald ? 

**A11 over doth this outer earth 

An inner earth enfold, 
And sounds may reach us of its mirth, 

Over its pales of gold ; 
There spirits live, unwedded all 

From the shapes and lives they wore, 
Though oft their printless footsteps fall 

By the hearths they loved before. 
We mark them not, nor hear the sound 

They make in threading all around, 
Their bidding sweet and voiceless prayer 

Float without echo through the air ; 
Yet often in unworldly places, 

Soft Sorrow's silent vales, 
We mark them with uncovered faces 

Outside their golden pales; 
Yet dim as they must ever be, 

Like ships far off and out at sea. 
With the sun upon their sails." 

Floating away, away, and ever on : gleaming in glory on the heavenly plane — 
blending in darkness, glittering in rain, or in hail-diamonds seeking earth again, 
mingling and changing like all things for ever ! Thou hast been there many a time 
and oft in very truth, and there thou wilt . be many time, thou Child of the Mist, 
or ever Eternity shall end ! 

Sic vita. But I learn from PRiETORlUS, in his Anthropodemus PlutonicuSy 
that these Graupenmenschen^ or Hail-men of Magonia, are rare elfin-artists, and that 
now and then they fashion their ware in strange forms, and even enter into their 
work themselves, or else by magic might cause small fairies to appear in it, in order 
to mystically forebode strange things. 

"Very memorable is that which happened in the year of Christ 1395, when there fell, like a rain of 
pebbles, wonderful hailstones on which were human faces, both male and female. - The former had beards like 
those of men. The female bore long hair and veils, which were seen by a very credible man, who also had 
them in his hands, as Cranzius declares in IVandaly lib. 9, c. 5. 



*• And in Cremona, in the year 1240, in the cloister of Saint Gabriel, there fell a hailstone on which could 
be seen, as if most carefully engraved, the form of a cross, with the face of the Lord Christ, and the letters 
Jesus Nazarenus. And one of the drops of water from it wetting the eyes of a blind man caused him to see. 
As appears by the writer Vinsich, Histor. lib. 30, c. 138, and from him Majolus, p. 15. d. torn. ; 
also Nauclerus, Gener. 41." 

Which well-authenticated fact should of itself show that the inhabitants of 
Magonia were good Christians—" and wider." 

" M. Heinrich Gobald in Breviar, Histor., p. 473, declares that in 1650, on the i8th of June, as 
announced from Presburg, there was a terrible hailstorm, such as no one had ever beheld. The stones were 
of very varied forms', and some of them were like Turk's heads." 

From which soon came wars, famines, revelations and revolutions, adulterers 
and harlots struck dead, and from this it was deduced that — 

** A Child of Midnight will ere long reign, and his rule will be hard as iron and full of grief ; when 
pestilence, hunger, and war will take the upper hand. Yet first will he govern Moscow with much peace, and 
become a mighty monarch." 

Which is followed by forty pages of grim and wild prophesying as to what 
will take place in the year 1666, as foreboded by the hailstones. 

I, and it may be you also, oh reader, have seen a great and a small hailstone 
stuck together, so as to much resemble a Turk's head with a turban ; but truly it 
never occurred to us that there was a volume of political presage therein. We did 
not even think of the Child of Midnight which, by the way, is a fine term, and 
might serve for the title of a novel or poem. Yet when you see the cloud-ships 
far sailing in the sky, you may perchance recall the mysterious city of Magonia, 
and when hit by a hailstone regard it as done in sport by the fairy artisans of 
that famed town. 

What appears from several authorities is that what seem to us to be 
** fleeting clouds — sailors of the air," are in reality mysterious barks, or very often 
spirits, hastening across the sky, the ships and sailors of " cloud-land gorgeous 
land " bent on errands far away ; of which there is a very strange story told by 
Meteranus {Niederland Histor.^ b. 28). Firstly be it remembered that as the 
Norse heroes of Valhalla meet every day to rehearse their ancient duels, and fight 
and be killed, and then revived, so the mysterious dwellers in the land of air 
return to earth on the anniversary of some great battle of the olden time, just 
as in America the battles of Bunker Hill, Concord, Saratoga, and others, even as 
late as that of Gettysburg, are celebrated by spectral armies, who fight by night 
the conflict o'er again. So it came to pass that in the land of AngoulcSme in 
France, in December, 1608, many small clouds came drifting o'er the sky, looking 


like the pebbles on the strand moved by the rising tide. Then, one by one and 
two by two, they began to fall, softly and gently as snowflakes, to earth — " One 
by one and two by two, they to a mighty squadron grew " — and as they touched 
ground they suddenly became warriors. " All," as Meteranus declares, " were 
very tall, straight, handsome men, having blue weapons, flags, and everything 
else cerulean or sky-blue — and of them all were 12,900. And they divided 
into two armies, and fought from five o'clock in the afternoon till nine, when 
they all vanished." 

But it is mostly in the silent desert or in lonely mountains, in hidden places 
far beyond the plain, that we see these beings who are corpore aerea^ tempore 
etema (airy of form, yet with eternal soul), who go fleeting over the sky on 
mystic errands bent Sometimes they pause, however, for a time, either of their 
own free-will or at a sorcerer's spell, and build up, at a thought, cloud-capt towers 
and gorgeous palaces, rosy and golden in the setting sun, pillared domes, pearly 
citadels, and rows on rows of battlements, repeated like giant stairs until high 
lost in the air. To those who are " gifted," these appear to be actually humanly 
built ; and no wonder, for they are only made to seem like clouds to delude 
mankind. For Magonia truly is — 

"A great strange city, lovelier in its lights 
Than all the golden greenness of the hills, 
And in its shadows glorious far beyond 
The purple dropping skirts of thunder-cloud, 
A city of all colours and fair shapes, 
And gleams of falling water day and night . . . 
Lit up with rainbow fountains in the day, 
Lit up with rain of coloured stars by night . . 
And out beyond and sleeping in the light 
The islands and the azure of the sea. 
And upwards, through a labyrinth of spires 
And turrets, and steep alabaster walls, 
The city rises — all its jewelled fronts 
Shining to seaward . . . 
Until at last through miles of shadowy air 
The blue and violet mountains shut the sky." ' 

I had written the foregoing in the city of Florence in May, 1891, when 
I was conversing one day with a woman who came into the house just as a 
storm was raging without And she said : " I was going to the post-office, and 
as I went some one said to me, * Truly thou art a witch, for the hailstones leap 
up from beneath thy feet.*" 

' The DUcipUs, by Harriet E. H. King. 


Then we all laughed, and I asked if witches made hail ; and this was the 
answer, which I wrote down, word for word, in Italian : — 

*' People say that when the weather becomes bad (quando il tempo si^uasta)^ and thunder and lightning 
begin, that it is a storm caused by wind, and that the dark clouds are water, and the wind bears along those 
clouds which shed water. But really it is a very different thing. For up in the sky there are cities made by 
the witches and wizards who were once driven out of paradise or who left this world, and they have 
made for themselves another world in heaven. 

" But even in heaven they keep those evil feelings {Ungono sempre i stioi rancori) which they ever had, 
and so they choose the worst weather, so that they may do much mischief to men. And then they enter a 
vessel (barca) and load it with hail ; and all the clouds which we see are not clouds of air, but boats. Then 
their leader takes a hailstone and throws it at a witch, and so they all pelt one another and sing : — 

(C { 

Tiro queste granate, 

Ma non tiro le granate, 

1ai tiro perche si devono 

Convertire tutte in grandine 

£ voglio sperare 

Che tutta la campagna 

A male voglia andare 

E cosi tutti di fame 

In terra dovranno andare ! ' " 

This spell was sung also in Romagnola, and it means : — 

** I throw these grains of hail, 
But not merely these grains, 
I throw them that they may convert 
All (the rain) to hail ; 
And I wish, I hope. 
That all the country 
May suffer from it. 
And all the people therein 
May go their graves from hunger ! " 

Of this Hail-land in heaven I received another history, which is different in 
a few details, but which, I think, is not less interesting : — 

*' People when they see clouds in air say it is air (vapour) and a sign of rain, but there is more in them 
than they suppose. For there is in the sky another world made by wizards and witches who, when they died, 
were not admitted to heaven, and so they made a world for themselves, which has a sea (lake) in it. And 
when the weather is dark, and clouds fly before the storm, those clouds are boats full of hail, and in them are 
wizards and witches, who throw the hail at one another, and so it falls to earth and does great harm. When 
this happens one should invoke the spirit of thunder (Tituno or Tignia). 

*' The light, small clouds which pass along in sunlight in fine weather are small boats in which are girls 
and children whom the witches have taken and keep as prisoners. But sometimes when it is pleasant they 
send them out sailing in the air«" 



I have, indeed, a third account in MS. devoted to these captives, but after 
six readings I have been obliged to give it up as unintelligible. It is only 
additional testimony. There is something to the effect that the witches have 
mirrors with which they flash out signals to the boats to return, or with which 
they make lightning. 

Witches on earth sometimes pay visits to this Magonia, or Cloud City land, 
but they run a risk of being caught or killed in the storms of their own raising. 
Thus Friedrich Panzer tells us in his Bavarian Tales, that during the first half 
of the last century there was such a tremendous tempest, with hail, in Forchheim 
in Upper Franconia, that the people feared lest the whole town should be 
destroyed. Then the Franciscan brothers met in their cloister garden, when, 
just as the first blessing was pronounced, lo ! a beautiful woman, stark-naked, 
was thrown headlong from a passing thunderstorm on the grass in their midst ; 
and the holy brothers, greatly amazed at this, doubtless to them, utterly novel 
sight, drew near, when they recognised in her who had indeed dropped in on them 
so suddenly, the wife of the town miller, a woman long suspected of witchcraft. 
Whereupon one of the monks threw a garment over her, and she was brought 
into the cloister — " By means of which," says the account (somewhat obscurely), 
"they averted from her the death by fire." Which means, I suppose, that she 
made so favourable an impression on the Franciscans that they protected their 
prote inattendue (vide Le May en de Parvenir) from being roasted. 

The conduct of these sorcerers and witches, unfit for heaven and averse to 
earth, building for themselves starry palaces and rose-red citadels with all the 
glory Dream to genius yields, reminds me of what Professor Shairp remarks 
of Shelley, and that very markedly indeed : — 

** The real world-existence as it is to other minds he recoiled from — shrank from the dull, gross earth 
which we see around us — nor less from the unseen world of Righteous Law and Will which we apprehend. 
The solid earth he did not care for. Heaven — a moral heaven — there was that in him which he would not 
tolerate. So, as Mr. liutton has said, his mind made for itself a dwelling-place midway between heaven and 
earth, equally remote from both — some interstellar region, some clear, cold place 

* Pinnacled dim in the intense inane,* 

which he peopled with ideal shapes and abstractions wonderful or weird, beautiful qr^ fantastic, all woven out 
of his own dreaming phantasy." 

Once in a while one of these dwellers in the violet Nifelheim, or Magonia, 
escapes and comes down to earth, and is born as a Shelley or a Keats — I think 
that Mr. J. A. Symonds is really one of them — or a Swinburne, or Ruskin, or 
Heine, or Carlyle, or Victor Hugo, or anybody else who is magnificently illogical, 
splendidly rhapsodical, sublimely egoistical (or subjective) — men whose thoughts 


are streamed and dashed with startling hues, and who think showers of stars, 
and who, when they do teach us something new — 

" Shoot out a scarlet light which seems as if 
The torch of some explorer shone in them, 
Revealing mysteries of caverns deep 
Which had been hidden from the birth of Time." 

So from old days these hardened stories live as if trenched in ice, like 
mammoths in Siberia, to the world unknown till some discoverer reveals them, 
and then there is marvelling here and there that such things could have been 
so long frozen up. So into time old time returns again, and the ancient medals, 
thus disinterred, are all the more beautiful for their rust. And it went deeply to 
my heart that after I had read the story of Magonia, and thought it was a tale 
utterly dead on earth and embalmed in a chronicle, to find a sorceress in whose 
faith it lives. It was as if an Egyptian mummy, revived, had suddenly spoken 
to me, and told me a tale of Thebes, or declared that Cloud-Cuckoo land was 
a reality which he had known when he beheld — 

" Against an orange sky a purple cloud, 
A cloud that did not change nor melt nor move, 
And still there were faint shadows in the cloud ; 
A mystery of towers and walls and hills, 
And the shadow of a great dome in the midst, 
All purple." 

How deeply (or one may say how terribly) impressed the Italian peasantry 
are by the belief that hail is caused by devils and witches appears from the 
following from a London newspaper of September, 1891. It is curious as 
involving the ancient Roman belief in the sacred power of bells as devil-drivers 
which was in later times turned to such good account by the priests : — 

" The schoolmaster is still but very moderately abroad in Italy, as the priest of Montalto in that country 
has too good reason to know. When a storm comes on there it is the practice to ring frantically one of the 
church bells, which is supposed to have good effect on the temper of the clerk of the weather. This was duly 
done by the sexton one day last week, and indeed it is lucky for him that he does not hold office in our climate, 
or he would scarce have left the belfry this summer. However, the priest has the misfortune to be far too 
much ahead of his flock, and stopped the ringing, telling the people to come into church. As soon as the bell 
ceased the hail began, and no sooner had the priest reached the altar than a peasant named Marca bitterly 
upbraided him for causing the hail by stopping the bell. Producing a billhook, he attacked the priest, who 
parried one blow, but presently received a fearful gash, a woman, said to be Marca*s mother, meanwhile 
calling out, * Give it him ! ' Marca then fled, and has not yet been caught. A little more spent by the 
Italian Government on spelling-books and a little less on ironclads might possibly prevent such unpleasant 

Truly Marca was much more of a heathen than a Christian. The spirit 
of old Rome was great in him — he would not yield to feeble modem faith. 




Story-telling in the Tuscan Romagna is an institution with observances. 
The peasants in winter meet together, "perhaps ten, there may be twenty or 
thirty, around a fire, and first of all recite with due solemnity a rosario, or five 
paternosters with the aves and other prayers, and then begin to raccontare^ or 
relate tales of fairies, witches ^nA folletti" This very ancient custom is still very 
generally observed. First of all some old man gives a story, which is commented 
on, eliciting from the hearers their own reminiscences, then another is suggested, 
and so the folk-lore is kept alive. In the year 1808 there was published in 
Bulgnese, or Bolognese — which is, with trifling difference, the same dialect as that 
which these peasants speak — a translation of Neapolitan fairy tales, which 
appears to be in the main taken from the Pentamerone of Gian Battista Basile, 
but which is very much varied to suit new surroundings. Hence the same stories, 
now known all over Italy, have penetrated to the Romagna. But they have, in 
the Bolognese region, many of which no traces are to be found in the usual range 
of Italian legends, and very often even the latter have here either taken of later 
years, or derived from very ancient sources, elements and characteristics which 
are quite peculiar, and often bewildering ; all of which the folk-lorists of the 
future will doubtless duly consider and sift even to powder. 

The following are a few of the tales which I have heard. I could have given 
many more — several do indeed occur in other portions of this work— but I have 
been too much occupied with other subjects, nor indeed would space or the 
publisher permit further addition. 

The Witches and the Boat. 

" There were two witches, mother and daughter, who lived by the sea-side, and the younger was a beauti- 
ful girl, who had a lover, and they were soon to be married. But it began to be reported that the women 
were given to sorcery and had wild ways, and some one told the young man of it, and that he should not take 
such a wife. So he resolved to see for himself by going to their house, but intending to remain till midnight, 
when, he knew, if they were witches they could not remain longer at home. And he went and made love, 
and sat till it was after eleven, and when they bade him go home he replied, * Let me sit a little longer,' 
and so again, till they were out of patience. 

** Then seeing that he would not go, they cast him by their witchcraft into a deep sleep, and with a small 
tube sucked all his blood from his veins, and made it into a blood pudding or sausage (migliaccino), which 
they carried with them. And this gave them the power to be invisible till they should return. 

'• But there was another man on the look-out for them that night, and that was the brother of the youth 
whom they had put to sleep, for he had long suspected them, and it was he who had warned his brother. 
Now he had a boat, and as he observed for some time every morning that it had been untied and used by 


some one in the night, he concluded it was done by these witches. So he hid himself on board carefully, 
and waited and watched well. 

"At midnight the two witches came. They wished to go to Jerusalem to get garofani (clove gilly 
flowers, or the clove plant, much used in magic). And when they got into the boat the mother said : — 

** * Boat, boat, go for two I * 

*• But the boat did not move. Then the mother said to the daughter, " Perhaps you are with child— 
that would make three." But the daughter denied it. Then the mother cried again :— 

*' * Boat, boat, go for two I * 

** Still it did not move, so the mother cried again : — 

*' * Vai per due, vai per tre, 

Per quattro, per cuanto tu vuoi ! * 

(** * Go for two or three or still 
For four, as many as you will ! ') 

'* Then the boat shot away like an arrow, like lightning, like thought, and they soon came to Jerusalem, 
where they gathered their flowers, and, re-entering the boat, returned. Then the boatman was well satisfied 
that the women were witches, and went home to tell his brother, whom he found nearly dead and almost out 
of his mind. So he went to the witches and threatened them, till they gave the youth the migliaccino. 
And when he had eaten it, all his blood and life returned, and he was well as before. But the witches 
flew away as he arose, over the house-tops, and over the hill, and unless they have stopped they are 
flying still. 

Bernoni tells this story in his narratives of Venetian witches, but less 
perfectly, since he makes no mention of a lover or of the witches sucking and 
restoring his blood. In the classical tales of Apuleius and others, sucking the 
blood was the chief occupation of the striga^ for which reason I think that this 
may be the earliest version of the tale. In the Venetian story the boat goes 
to Alexandria and the boatman while there obtains fresh dates and leaves, which 
he exhibits on returning as a proof of his adventure. The obtaining the mystic 
clove flowers gives a far better reason for the voyage. Hawthorne has written 
a story in which a boat full of witches, in the form of cats, make such a trip to 
obtain rosemary^ also a witch-herb. 

La Vendetta di Pippo. 

** There was a man named Pirpo, and he had not been long married to a young and beautiful Mrife when 
he was obliged to go on a long journey. And it so chanced that this journey was by accident prolonged, 
nor did his letters reach home, so that his wife, who was young and very simple, believing all the gossip and 
mischievous hints of everybody, soon thought that her husband had run away. Now there was a priest in 


the village who was hastanza furbo — ^nol a little of a knave — and to him she bitterly complained that her 
husband had abandoned her, leaving her incinia, or with child. 

" At this the priest looked very grave, and said that it was very wicked in her husband to act as he had 
done ; yes, that it was a mortal sin for which both she and Pippo would be damned, even to the lowest 
depth of hell, because she would give birth to a child which had only been begun, and not finished, for that 
it would probably be born without a head or limbs, and she would be very lucky if only a hand and foot, or 
the eyes were wanting. And that all women who bear such monsters would be certainly condemned to 
the worst. 

** Now the wife, being only a simple confadtna, was very devout, and went frequently to confession, and, 
believing every word which the priest said, was terribly frightened, and asked him what could be done 
in this case ? Then he replied that there was a way to remedy it, which he should most unwillingly employ, 
yet still to save her soul, and for the child's sake, he would try it. And this was that she should pass the 
night with him, when by his miraculous power as a priest, and by his prayers, he would so effect it that the 
infant would be perfected — and so she could lie freed from sin. But he made her swear an oath not to tell a 
word of all this to any human being, and especially not to Pippo, else all would fail. So she assented, and 
the priest had his will. 

" Now no one knew it, but Pippo was a streghone^ or wizard, and casting his mind forth to know how all 
was going on at home, learned all this fine affair which had passed. Then returning, instead of going to his 
house, he put on the form of a beautiful nun, and went to the priest's. The priest had two young sisters, 
famous for their extraordinary beauty, and Pippo was very kindly received by them as well as by the 
brother. And when he begged for a night's lodging, the two young girls bade him sleep with them, which 
he did, of course seducing them thoroughly. 

*' The next morning, being alone with the priest, he first ogled him, and as the other caught eagerly 
at the chance of sinning with a nun, he plainly asked him if they should not go into the cellar, per fare 
Pamore, At which the priest was enraptured ; but when they were alone together Pippo assumed his natural 
form, which was a terrible one, and said : * I am Pippo, whose wife thou didst wrong with thy lies. Evil 
hast thou done to me, but I have done worse to thy sisters, and worst of all to thee, for now thou art accursed 
before God, thou false priest ! ' And the prete could do nothing and say nothing. And there came before 
him all the time many spirits who mocked him, and he had to leave holy orders. And this was the revenge 
of Pippo." 

I should have omitted this very Bocaccian tale had it not been that it 
illustrates very strikingly the antipathy of the believers in witchcraft and the 
spirits of old for the priests. A merely loose, licentious story makes no such deep 
moral or immoral impression on the Southern European mind as it does on the 
Northern, but the distinctly placing wizard against priest, or old sorcery against 
Christianity, is, if the reader will reflect, a very singular incident It is in this 
that the point lies for a Strega^ and it is most remarkable as showing that such 
antagonism between Shamanism and the Church should still exist, as it has 
undoubtedly existed through the ages. I may add that among the tales 
received after this work had gone to press is one entitled The priest Arrimim, 
in which a priest becomes a wizard, manifesting, like this narrative, a marked 
heathen or anti-Christian spirit. 



" In a district of La Romagna, there was a man named Pispi, who was a great robber ; yes, one who 
carried away vast treasures and yet was never detected. He would go to a cafi and meet gentlemen whom 
he had plundered immensely, and on departing he would say, * Signori, I am PiSPi, the famous robber,* 
but nobody could catch him or lay hands on him, and when they met him they did not recognise him at 
any time, for he changed his face and form continually, until at last it was generally believed that he was 
a devil. 

" But he really was a wizard. And at last he lay dying, but could not die. And he groaned, and 
implored those present to take his power, but none would accept it because he was believed to be a devil, 
At last some one put two brooms under his bed, and so he died. But his spirit had no peace, for he had 
left a treasure. Now PiSPi was really a good spirit, because he robbed very rich people and gave a great 
deal to the poor. Then he sought about for some poor and deserving man, and finally found one in a prisoner 
who was condemned to the galleys for life, and he said to him, ' I will by my conjuring deliver thee from 
thy sufferings and set thee free. Then go into the woods in such a place, and there stands an oak-tree called 
Istiay buried one yard's depth you will find a treasure, it is in a boot and in an earthen pot. And when thou 
art rich and free do not forget the poor ! ' And so Pispi had peace, and the poor prisoner became rich and 

It would not have been worth while to give this vulgar and rather flat tale, 
had it not been for the name of its hero. PiSPl is a typical thief, and in Holland 
the mandrake, which is there supposed to grow from the droppings of a thief's 
brain, &c., on the gallows, is called Pisdifje^ or little brain-thief. He who has this 
pisdifje can enter all houses, open all doors, and rob freely, without being detected. 
This root was called by many names, such as mandrake, mandragora, alraun, 
gallows, mannikin and earth-mannikin in Germany, and was regarded as a demon 
and received offerings or a kind of worship. There is of course no rational 
philological connection between the names of Pispi and Pisdifje, but the connec- 
tion of associations between these names and the thief who could never be 
detected, and the root-demon who enables a thief to avoid detection, is very 
curious indeed. It may be remarked in this connection that the Vocabulario delle 
Lingue Furbesche — or Vocabulary of Thieves' Tongues — indicates much intercourse 
in common between the thieves of Northern Italy and those of Germany. 

The Witch Cat. 

It has been well said that one half the world does not know how the other 
half lives, and while collecting these instances of strange superstitions, I am 
tempted to think that almost one half does not at all understand how the others 
think, feel, or what is the moral atmosphere which they breathe. We know that 
there is no truth in anything supernatural, but these others who appear to be 
so ignorant and indifferent live in a different life, and see and hear — or believe 
they see and hear — ghosts and marvels and all strange things. Witness the 


following, which the woman who told it to me certainly believed she had 
witnessed : — 

*' When I was a small child I went frequently to the house of a woman who had a bambina — a girl baby 
— and we often made a noise when playing together, but woe to us whenever we did so, playing with the cat, 
for the child's mother said that cats are all wizards and witches. As I indeed learned only too soon how true 
it was. 

**Tliere lived near us another woman who had also a little girl ; this child was very impertinent. One 
day while we three were playing together and making a tumult, my friend gave this other one a cuff. So she 
ran howling to her mother, and the woman said to the mother of my friend, * I will be revenged for this ; ' 
and,/^r troppofu vero, it was only too true. For after a few days my little friend fell ill and no one knew 
what was the matter, nor could any doctor explain the malady. 

**Then her mother began to think that the woman who had threatened vengeance was a witch. And she 
v/as sure of it when she observed that a cat came by night into her house, and that^it, instead of lying down 
always remained standing ! So she watched, and when at midnight the cat came again, she took it and bound 
it to the child's bed and beat it with all her might, saying, * Cure my child or I will kill you ! ' 

" Then the cat spoke with a human voice, and said, ' I can endure no more. Let me go and your child 
shall be well.' But at that instant there was heard a horrible roar and clanking of chains as if many demons 
were about, and the mother instead of letting the cat free went and called the priest that he might give his 
blessing. And the mother clipped the hair from the cat, and in the morning when the church-bell rang the 
cat became nothing more nor less — nan divettto altro — than the woman who had vowed revenge. And so she 
could no longer be a witch ; and all the neighbours seeing her naked, and without a hair left, knew what she 
was, and so she practised witchcraft no more." 

This is interesting because it shows plainly the belief derived from pre- 
Christian times, that the witch once detected, or stripped — in this case literally — of 
her disguise, can no longer be a witch. Here it is not a question of a soul sold to 
the devil, but only of power held on a very precarious condition. 

Apropos of this subject, I have the following in a letter by Miss Mary A. 
Owen : — 

The negroes in Missouri say some cats are real cats and some are devils, 
you never can tell " which is which," so for safety it is well to whip them all 
soundly. The voodoo does not whip her own cat, but she excepts none other. 
A strange black cat that runs in at one of your doors and out at another, 
puts " a trick " on somebody in the house. A grown-up black cat which comes 
and cannot be driven away voodoos the whole house in spite of blows. 

The Dwarfs. 

** Von wilden Getwergen 
Han ich gehoeret sagen, 
Sie sin in Holn Bergen." 

Das Nibelungenlied. 

One day I inquired if there were any Elves, or little dwarfs, in La Romagna ; 
and I was at once informed that there were, in these words : — 


" Dti nanil Dwarfs ! There are many. They dwell in lonely places, far away in the mountians, deep 

in them, in caves or among old ruins, and rocks. Sometimes a contadino sees one or more ; he may behold 

them far away, going home very early between night and day, hurrying before the sun rises to get into their 

homes. They live like other people, they are good and bad like other people, but they are folUtti^ really. 

I will tell you an old, a very old, story about them : — 

'* Once there was a girl who had been betrayed by her lover and abandoned for another, and so she, in a 
wild fit, determined to go in search of him. 

*' Over the high blue mountain. 
Over the rolling rivers. 
Through the wet grass. 
Along the hard highway. 
Into noisy cities, in churches. 
Where there were people or none. 
Si mist in cammino 
D^andare in cerca di lui. 
She set herself on the journey 
To go in search of him. 

** And when she had travelled many days and longed for a little rest, she came to a small house far away 
among the rocks and knocked at the door. There came out a little dwarf, who asked her what she wanted. 
And she answered : — 

'* ' Good friend, a little lodging, 
I beg it in charity, 
For my feet are weak and weary ; 
I am seeking, seeking my lover. 
Whom I wish to kill for his falsehood. 
Yet I hope I shall not find him. 
Because I love him still.* 

'* Then she entered and supped and went to bed. And at midnight there came leaping and laughing and 
frolicking into the room swarms of little dwarfs or goblins — ttttii uomini piccioli — who shouted for joy at 
seeing her. And they pulled her hair and danced on her, and tweaked her ears and nose, and she, in a rage, 
pushed and beat them and gathered them up and threw them as she could against the wall, but they did not 
mind it in the least, but climbed in crowds like bees on her bed till dawn came, when they disappeared, 
when she fell asleep. 

'* And waking she rose and went her way, when from a hill came out another dwarf, who said : — 

** * Stop and talk with me ; 
I can truly tell thee 
Where to find thy lover, 
And if thou would'st find him 
Come to me at midnight, 
And ril truly tell thee 
Where to find thy lover ! ' 


"Then the girl replied: — 

'* But the dwarf answered : — 

" * Dammi la tua mano^ 
Pegno de la parola I * 

(** * Give me, then, thy hand ; 

Pledge that truth thou speakest. *) 

" ' I cannot give my hand, 
As 'tis given by mortals, 
For I am a spirit, 
And spirits were the goblins 
Who this night did tease thee. 
Still thou didst well please them 
For thou didst show spirit/ 


Then at midnight the girl went to the dwarf, and he gave her a feather, and she was turned into a 
swallow, and he said : — 

** * Fly upon the wind 

As the wind directs thee ; 
Follow, follow, follow, 
And thou'lt find thy lover 
And when thou hast found him 
Then thou wilt have travelled 
Two months' distance, but I 
By my incantation 
Truly shall have made thee 
Fly it in a minute. 
When thou seest thy lover 
Touch him with this feather. 
Then he'll love thee only, 
Nor think upon the other.' 

" Then he will wed thee after three days, but during the time thou must come every day at noon to my 
grotto and say : — 

*• * Grotto, grotto, grotto ! 
By the incantation 
To call on all good spirits, 
Enchant, I pray, my lover. 
So that he may never 
Love another woman ! 
So that three days over, 
He may be my husband ! ' 

** And when the three days had passed she touched him with the feather, and resumed her own form, and 
by his side — 

"£ si incominciaro 
A baciare, 
£ altre donne 
Non potiede piii amare 


La sua prima amante 
Le tocco sposare. 
Tutto e finito 
Non voglio pill narrare. 


** Then the pair began 
Kissing as before; 
And to other women 
He made love no more. 
But married her ; the story 
Now is fairly o'er." 

The swallow as the bird of spring brings luck ; hence in Tuscany swallows* 
feathers tied with a red string form an amulet. This story is only a variation from 
one in Grimm's Kinder und Hans Mahrchen, but it may be observed that there is 
in the Tuscan tale more of chiaro-oscuro and incantation. In fact I cannot 
imagine one of this country without the latter. The magic song enters into every- 
thing of the kind. This was probably the case in ancient times in Germany, but 
as stories become fairy tales for children alone, it naturally disappears, and the 
narrative alone is then the subject of interest. These Romagnolo stories are all in 
that state when the narrator — as I have often tested — will tell or sing them just as 
requested. This is the case among all primitive people in the magic epoch, and I 
might with truth, had I pleased, have given any story in rude metre as well as 
prose. Sometimes the rhymes and attempt at metre are unmistakable, and in 
such cases I have given them in a form as near to the original as I could make it. 
But in the original, two or even three lines are often run into one and the voice 
modulated to suit the variation. 

The Apple-Tree. 

Had I found the following story in any country save the Romagna Tuscana, 
I might have passed it by as possibly modern. But in this region the peasantry 
have learned so very little that is new, that novelty in their legends and customs is 
very exceptional. This is the tale, which I have somewhat abridged : — 

'* Once there was a beautiful lady who married a wealthy and handsome lord. And the great desire of 
his heart was to have an heir, but as his wife bore no children he became almost mad with disappointment and 
rage» threatening her with the worst ill-usage and torture unless she l)ecame a mother. And she spent all her 
time in prayer and all her money on the poor, but in vain. Then her husband hated her altogether, and took 
a maid-servant in her place. And finding her one day giving a piece of bread to some poor person, he had 
her hands cut off, so that she could no more give alms. And she lived among the lowest servants in great 

*' One day there came to the castle a friar, who begged for something in charity of her ; and she replied 



that she had nothing to give, and that if she had aught she could not give it, being without hands. And so he 
learned how she had been treated, for she said ; — 

*' ' Because I have not bore a child 
My husband is with anger wild, 
For giving alms, the truth I say, 
He had my hands both cut away ; 
Heaven help me, and help the poor ! 
For I can give them nothing more ! ' 

*' Then the friar looked a long time at Ifer in silence, considering her extreme misery and goodness, and 
said : — 

*' * Lady, in the garden go, 

Where an apple-tree doth grow, 
Fairer one did never see ; 
Lady fair, embrace that tree, 
And as you embrace it, say 
These words as closely as you may : 

** * •' Pano o mio bel pomo I 
A te con grande amore, 
Ti voglio abbraciare, 
Che mio marito 
In letto con se questa notte. 
Mi possa portare, 
£ cosi possa ingravidarc 
E che il mio marito 
Mi possa amare ! *' * 

(" * ** Apple-tree, fair apple-tree ! 

With my love I come to thee. 
I would be to-night in l)ed 
With my husband as when wed: 
May I so become a mother. 
Grant this favour ; and another 
Still I earnestly implore — 
May he love me as before I " ') 

<( f 

And this done, take from the tree two apples and eat them. And go to your husband and he will love 
you and take you to his bed, and you will in time bear two beautiful babes.' 

'' And so it came to pass, and the husband bitterly r^retted his cruelty and the loss of her hands. And 
she bore the two children ; but the girl who had been a servant and his mistress persuaded him that his wife 
had been unfaithful, and that they were not his. Then he took a donkey, on it were two panniers, and he put 
a babe into each and sat her in the middle, and bade her ride away. 

" So she rode on in utter grief and sorrow, hardly able with her stumps of arms to manage the children 
or to drive. But at last she came to a well and stooped to drink. And lo ! as soon as she did this her hands 
grew again, for it was the fountain which renews youth and life. Then her heart grew light, for she felt that 
fortune had not left her. And indeed all went well, for she came to a castle where no one was to be seen. 
And she entered and found food on the tables, and wine and all she required everywhere, and when she and 


the children had eaten, at the next meal there was food again. Now this castle belonged to fairies, who, 
seeing her there, pitied her and cared for her in this manner. 

" And considering her case they sent a Dream to her husband. And the Dream came to him by night and 
told him all the truth, how his wife had been true to him, and how evilly he had done. Then he rode forth and 
sought far for the castle till he found it. And he took her and the children home. And as they came near 
the gate they saw before it a statue which had never been there. Now the wicked servant had said, * May I 
be turned to stone if this be not true which I have said of thy wife.' And the words were remembered by the 
fairies (spirits), for they hear all things. And the statue was the figure of the girl turned to stone. But the 
husband and the wife lived together happily ever after." 

The story is the widely spread one of patient Griselda and Genevieve 
de Brabant, and was perhaps in truth that of many a suffering wife in 
early times. But the conception from the apple-tree suggests the story 
of Juno, who conceived Mars without the help of Jupiter from the touch 
of a flower (OviD, Fasti, v. 253). The fountain of youth in this story 
also recalls the golden apples of the Hesperides, and especially those 
guarded by the Scandinavian Iduna, which kept the gods young. There is 
a mass of myths in all countries connecting the apple-tree with generation and 
birth. So in this story, as in all which come from this country, there are through- 
out sketches and touches which are possibly copied from more ancient pictures. 
It is worth observing, that even in this story the incantation must be spoken to 
the tree before it exerts its fertilising power. 

IL Spirito del Giuoco. 
This is a curioiui and evidently very ancient tale, probably modernised :— 

** He is an evil spirit now — ^as one may say, a devil — but he was once long ago, before any tree which is 
now growing had begun to sprout, a handsome and rich young lord : yes, he had as many olive-trees as I ever 
ate olives, and more vines than I ever drank glasses of wine ; but he wanted more, and so he gambled. Now 
some men spend all their patrimony in a jolly way, but he wasted his, quarrelling, cursing, and blaspheming. 
And at last, when nothing was left of all he had but some barren fields, and he was mad for money to play 
with, he looked at the wretched farm which remained and said : — 

" * This, too, I would sell, 
Yes, and to the devil, 
And give him my soul to boot 
When my life comes to an end: 
Yes; he might kill me with lightning. 
And a roaring crash of thunder 
Bursting up from the earth. 
If, when I went, I could burn 
All the crops of grain. 
Vines, mulberries, figs, 
And the olives — blast them \ 

pt '9B. • '^im» III •■■ ' t jm i^t^^^^^^^H^^^mm^^^mmm^Km^^^^m^m^fmmi^^mm^m^^''^mmmmmm^ 


Which I see all around and afar ! 

Once they were mine ; see the grain 

Shining like gold in the sun ; 

Gold I had— gold I lost ! 

Gold is our only life ; 

What if the devil could give me 

Power to win at play! 

And then when I won 

To hear the thunder roar, 

With a flash of lightning, 

As the card turned ! 

Burning the crops, 

Homes and all, 

Of those who once stripped me. 

Aye ; and when dead — 

E quando saro niorto I — 

I would haunt the gambling room, 

And if some fellow won 

Make him hear thunder 

And see lightning to fright him 

(Of course burning his crops). 

But if some poor devil — like mc — 

Would pray to me for aid 

When he has lost at play, 

Then I would gladly give him 

The devil's own luck at cards, 

And — bum up the crops of his enemies, 

To whom he had sold his lands ! ' 

" When the young man returned home he found un hel signore — a fine gentleman — waiting to see him. 
And the stranger said, very politely :-;- 

•• * You wish to sell, I think, 
That little estate of yours. 
And I am willing to buy; 
You are a bold, brave fellow — 
Galante di pritfCordine, 
I like to please such men, 
For I know when the time shall come 
For them to enter my service, 
They make the best of servants. 
Well, I agree to your terms. 
All your demand you shall have : 
Luck at cards for life — 
Thunder and lightning included — 
You shall have your riches again: 
Le richezze tomeranno,* 

'* So it came to pass, and for a long time he won. And it was observed that when he played high at he 
last card there always was heard a clap of thunder, and a great storm raged somewhere, near or far. Years 



passed, but one day, when his time had come, there was a tremendous burst of fire which lighted the room — 
and lo ! the gambler appeared all at once like a glowing coal from head to foot, and a voice exclaimed : — 

'* ' That which was asked for 
Was granted to fulness; 
This is thy last day, 
This is thy final hour ; 
Thou didst ask for the lightning — 
Thou hast had it ; 
Thou hast it now — 
Now live in its fire ! * 

*' E cosi sprafondo nella terra — ^and so he sank into the ground. And they remembered what he had said, 
and many regretted him, and when they were in trouble and needed his help they called on him. And they 
said: — 

'* * Spirit of thunder and lightning ! 
Spirit of help ! Help us ! 
For of thee we have great need ! 
As thou wert as are we. 
Aid us, aid us in our play ! 
Make us win much money. 
Else ruin is l^efore us ; 
Thou wilt not abandon us ! 
We hope that thou wilt come 
And play in our company*.** 

There is apparent in this tale something of a modern spirit of composition, 
as if it had been subjected to liberties. But though the form may have been 
changed, there is reason to believe that under the mosses and flowers c is an 
ancient rock. As no one can listen long to an Algonkin Indian story without 
coming to fPteteoulitty or sorcery, so all these Romagnolo tales turn on the transfor- 
mation of a man to a spirit, and are therefore myths, and extremely interesting as 
indicating the process by which myths were first made. Gambling is so deeply 
seated in the Italian, as it was in the old Latin, nature — every man, woman, 
and child in the entire population buys, on an average, at least ten lottery 
tickets every year — that a spirit of play would naturally be one of the first 
placed in a popular pantheon. Therefore it is probable that from an early time 
there has been a legend of some Don Juan or Don Giovanni di Tenorio, whose 
main vice was not women but play. It may be remarked, indeed, that in a 
great proportion of Italian tales gambling, and not drinking or lust, is supposed 
to be the chief cause of moral destruction. 



" PaitUena protected tlie growing or shooting com. In Germany such a deity was called the 
RoggenmutUr^ whence the saying to children: 

" ' Leave the flowers standing 1 
Go not into the com ! 
There the Roggenmutter 
Stands from night to mom ; 
Now adown she's ducking, 
Now all up she's looking, 
She will catch the children all, 
Who look for flowers, great or small.*" 

Friedrich, Symbolik, 

The following story is very curious in several respects : — 

" Patina was a beautiful girl, but she had a stepmother who was a witch, and malicious too, so that 
she kept Patina shut up in a tower, into which no one was allowed to go. The old woman went every 
day into the city to sell milk. One day she passed by the king's palace. Now the king had a son whom 
he loved so much that there was nothing else in the world for which he cared. 

" The young prince was at the palace window, and held in his hand some pebbles. The old woman 
came and sat down opposite, putting her pitchers of milk on the ground. And the young prince, out of 
heedless mischief, threw a pebble and broke a pitcher. The old woman, being angry, cried to the youth : — 

*' * Tu sei il figlio del re 

E crederesti di esser piu potente di me, 
Ed io ti faro vedere, ai 1 
Che saro piu potente assai.' 

*( * Though the king's son thou mayst be, 
And think thou hast more power than me, 
I can show thee, and I will. 
That I have more power still ; 
Thou shalt have no joy in life 
Till fair Patana is thy wife. 
And that will never come to pass. 
For thou shalt never have the lass/ 

**Then the prince had no more rest nor happiness by day or night. And at last he went out into 
the world to seek for Patdna, travelling far, till one day he met a poor old man who b^;ged something 
to eat for he was starving. The prince gave him something, and said, * Thou art not so wretched as 
I am, for I can have no rest till I shall have found the beautiful Patina, and I know not where she is.' 

*'The'old man replied, «That I can tell thee— 

- " • Go along the road . 

Till thou seest a tower 
Rising in a forest ; 

patAna. 231 

There Patina dwells 

With her stepmother, 

But be sure to go 

When the witch is absent, 

And be sure to give 

Food to everything 

Which is in the tower, 

Even the smallest pot 

By a magic spell 

Will tell the old witch all, 

Unless it has been fed ; 

Take this pebble too, 

It will give thee power 

To speak with the witch's voice, 

And then cry aloud : 

" Beautiful Patina, 

Fairer than a sun ray, 

Let thy tresses down 

And then draw me up ! " * 

" So he did, and was drawn up into the tower, where Patina received him with joy. Then they 
made a great pot full of pappa (bread crumbs boiled), and he fed, as he thought, all the furniture and 
utendls, all except one earthenware pot, which he forgot. And this was the chief spy, and it betrayed 

"Then Patina took a comb, a knife, and a fork, and said, 'Let us be free !' and the door of the 
tower opened, and they fled. But before long beautiful Patina, looking behind, saw her mother-in-law 
flying after them, for the pot which had not been fed had told her all, and the way which -they had gone. 
Then beautiful Patina stuck the fork in the earth, and it became a church and she was the sacristan. 
And the witch, not recognising her, asked her if she had seen the king's son go by with a girl. And the 
sacristan replied : — 


" * This is not a time 

To answer idle questions. 

Twice the bell has rung 

For mass, come in and hear it ! ' 

" Then the witch went away in a rage, and they proceeded. But before long they saw her flying 
after them i^in. Then the beautiful Patina threw down the comb and it became a garden and she 
the gardener. When the witch came up she put the same question as before, and Patina answered : — 

" * If you wish to chase them, 
You'll have need of horses ; 
I have two to sell you. 
Fine ones at a bargain, 
Pray come in and see them ! ' 

** Then the witch in a rage went home to the tower, and the pot told her that the garden was only 
a comb and that the gardener was the beautiful Patina. So she set out again, and they soon saw her 
flying after them. Then beautiful Patina threw down the knife, and she became a vasca (basin of a fountain 
or reservoir), and the prince a fish swimming in it. But this time ere she made the change she said : — 



" ' Here I take this knife 
And plant it in the ground, 
That I may become 
Now a sparkling fountain, 
And my love a fish ; 
May he swim so well 
That the witch now coming 
May never, never catch him ! ' 

'* And the witch coming up tried and tried to catch the 6sh, but in vain. So at last in a rage she 
cried : — 

" * Mayst thou leave Patina, 
Leave her in the castle, 
If to thy home returning 
Once thy mother kiss thee 
ThouMt forget Patina ! ' 


'* So she departed. And when they came to the castle the young prince left Patina there for a while 
to go and see his parents, being determined, however, that his mother should not kiss him. And she, 
being overjoyed to see him, tried to do so, but he avoided it. Then every preparation was made for 
his marriage, and he, being weary, fell asleep, and then his mother kissed him. When he awoke he saw 
all things got ready for a wedding, but he could not remember anything about the bride. 

*' So time passed, and he was about to marry another lady. When beautiful Patina heard this she 
went to the palace and said to the cook, * I am the lady of the castle, and I wish to make a present 
for the wedding dinner, and that it shall be two fishes.' Then she had the oven made ready, and bade 
the wood go into it, and it went in of itself, and then bade it burn, and then went into the fire and came 
out, and there were two such fine fish as no one had ever beheld. And when they were carried to the 
table everybody was amazed at them, and the cook being called, when asked where they were caught, 
replied they had not been caught but made by the lady of the castle as a gift. 

"Then the bride, who was herself something of a witch, said, "Oh, that is nothing; I can do 
that/ But the wood did not obey her, and when she entered the oven it blazed up and she was burned 
to death. 

'* And as this was done the two fishes on the table began to converse one with the other, as follows.': — 

*' * Dost thou remember 
How the king's son 
Entered the tower ? ' 


" * Well I remember 
How he fled away 
With beautiful Patina.' 

** * Dost thou remember 
How she preserved him 
From the wild sorceress ? * 

" * Well 1 remember 

The church and the garden, 
The fish and the fountain.' 

patAna. 233 

** * Dost thou remember 
His mother's kiss, 
How he forgot Patana?' 

'* * Well I remember 
All the strange story, 
But now he remembers/ 

*'Then the prince, who heard this, remembered all. So he married the beautiful Patana, she who 
is DOW the Queen of the Fairies.** 

This is perhaps the commonest of all Italian fairy tales, and in some form 
it is known all over Europe. I have given it here because the name of the 
heroine, Patana^ is interesting as connected with some of the incidents of the 
story. Pat&na was a Roman goddess who appears with greatly varied names, 
sometimes as a derivation from Ceres or a Cerean deity, and sometimes as 
Ceres herself Thus there was Patelena, who opened the husk of grain, Patellana 
and Patella, who induced the grain to come forth, or presided over it w^hen it 
came to light She was the goddess of the sprouting grain or of growth ( Vide 
Bughin, p. 160). 

"Thus," says Preller (R, Myth., p. 592), "she was the goddess of the harvest, the blonde Ceres 
of the Greeks, and, in fact, as the goddess of crops seems to have been chiefly known under this name 
in ancient Italy. At least the Inguvinic tablets mention a goddess Padella, and the Oscan votive tablet a 
Patana, which are most probably identical with Patella, as is the deity Panda. It even seems that this 
name was the common one for such a goddess instead of the Roman-Latin Ceres.** 

I had asked my authority if she knew the name of any spirit who caused 
crops, trees, or the like, to grow. She at once suggested PatdnUy who in a 
tale made a garden, a church, and a fountain spring out of the earth. These 
are of some little value taken in connection with the name. Varro [De vita 
pop, Ro. cited in PRELLER] mentions that this Panda, or Pandana, " whom 
Aelius thought was Ceres, had a sanctuary where bread was given to those 
who took refuge in it." In the Italian tale bread boiled in water is given 
to all the articles of furniture and utensils to eat, even as the spirits of the 
dead are pacified by food ; here the furniture may mean the refugees, who 
receive pap or boiled bread. 

As Patdna has been confused with Ceres, and made into her minor, or 
daughter, so it is possible that the heroine of the story has changed place with 
the stepmother. In this case we have a very curious parallel to Ceres pur- 
suing Persephone, or Proserpina. In the one, as in the other, a mother — 
mother-in-law — pursues the fugitives, Ceres puts Triptolemus on the fire to 
make him immortal (which occurs in a Romagnola witch-tale), in this story 
Patdna herself enters the fire. In Rome Ceres was regarded as a foe to 



marriage, '^ Alii dicunt Cererem propter raptum filire nuptias execratam (Serv. 
V. A. iii., 139). And it is evident that in our legend she opposes the match 
for no apparent reason. Ceres in the Latin legend is mocked by a boy, the 
son of Metanira, and punishes him by changing him to a lizard, the witch 
mother of Patdna is angered by the young prince and inflicts a penalty. 

It is perfectly true that with some ingenuity parallels like these may be 
established between almost any fairy tale and some ancient myth. But where 
we have a leading name in common with corresponding incidents, we may 
almost assume an identity of origin. If we found the story of Whittington 
and his cat among South American Indians we might suppose it had originated 
there. But if the hero was called Whittington, or even Vidindono — as it pro- 
bably would be — we might very well assume transmission. Till within a very 
few years the apparent coincidence system as a proof of origin was extravagantly 
overdone, and has since been succeeded by an opposite one, which has in 
turn been carried to as absurd extremes. The best test for the value of 
these Romagnolo traditions, as remains of antiquity, is to carefully study them 
as a wttoUy and compare them as a whole with what we know of Etrusco- 
Latin myth and legend. There may be error in any one minor detail, 
however strong the identity may appear to be, but there can be none as 
regards the aesthetic or historic spirit and character of a great number of 
incidents taken together. 

It may be added in reference to the tell-tale pot which was not fed, that 
the forgotten or neglected fairy who revenges herself for the slight is of very 
ancient origin. We find her first in Discord, who was enraged at not being 
invited to the marriage of Tethys and Pelius (LUCIAN, Dialog, Marin., v. ; cf. 
Hygni, foL 92, COLUTHUS, De raptu Helen, v. 60). This incident reappears 
in the Middle Ages in the fairy who was not invited to be present at the 
birth of Oberon, and therefore condemned him to remain a dwarf. This is 
not necessarily derived from tradition, but it may have its value, as indeed all 
incidents may in folk-lore — a fact which is much too frequently and rudely set 
aside by a large class of the critics who peel away the onion till there is 
nothing left, forgetting that to have any result or profit one must stop after 
removing the rough outside leaves. There is a spirit in tradition as well as 
the letter. 

Schedius in an enumeration of minor Roman deities includes "Patellana 
seu Patula." 


II Moro. 

" There was in the Romagnc a rich lady who was unkindly treated by her husband because she had 
no children. And he often said to her that unless she gave birth to a son or daughter, and that soon, 
he would leave her and take another. So the poor signora went every day to the church to pray to God 
that He would be so gracious as to give her a child ; but it was not granted to her, therefore after a time 
she went no more to church and ceased to give alms. 

" One day she stood quite disconsolate at the window, because she loved her husband and met with 
no return, when, from a window opposite, a dark signore (Signore Moro — a Moor or Negro, as in German) 
called to her, and she, raising her head, asked him what he would have ? 

'* The Moor, who was a wizard, or magician (uno streghotu^ o sia uno magliatorey o maliardo)^ 
replied, * Look me steadily in the eyes, and then all will go well with thee. And this night when thy 
husband shall embrace thee think steadily of me, and thus thou wilt be incinta, or with child.' 

" This came to pass, and the poor lady was very happy to regain the love of her husband, and at 
the same time become a mother. But joy flies like the clouds, and so did hers, for when her child was 
born it was dark as the Moor, yes, and looked altc^ether like the Moor himself. Then the husband 
abandoned both wife and child, saying that the infant was none of his. And the lady reproved the 
Moor, saying that he had Ixitrayed her. 

** But the Moor replied, * Grieve not, O good lady, for I can still make peace between thee and 
thy husband. To-morrow a charity sermon will be preached, and when the friar shall give thee benediction, 
put the child on the ground and let it go whither it will.' So the lady did. Now her husband never 
went to any church, but, hearing that there was to be a famous preacher this day, he was present. And 
when the lady put the little babe on the ground, what was her utter amazement to see it rise and run 
on its little feet, and go to its father, and embrace him with its little hands, and say, in distinct words : 
* Babhoy ferdona mamma^ i innoccnte ' — * Papa, pardon mamma, she is innocent ; and thou sccst it is a 
miracle of God that I have come to thee.' And from that time the babe never uttered a word till he 
had come to the age when children usually talk. 

"Then the father, being moved by the miracle, was reconciled with his wife, and they returned home 
together and lived happily." 

This will suggest much which is familiar to the reader, such as Othello, 
Tamora, and Aaron, the beautiful sorceress and her negro in the Arabian 
NightSy and chiefly the mysterious story of the French queen and the black 
page. What is chiefly remarkable in it is that sorcery is made superior to 
religion, for all is effected by the Moor, though in the end the miracle is 
wrought in a church, and is, so to speak, given to God. 

The incident of a babe's speaking is found in the folk-lore of every land ; 
but it is remarkable that the earliest instance of it in Europe is that of the 
Etruscan infant Tages, who was ploughed out — possibly in the place whence 
I derived this tale. 

The Witch Lea. 

" This witch was a wealthy lady, very self-willed and licentious, who often changed her lovers. So 
she would keep one for a time, and when she was tired of him she would lead him into a room in 
which there was a trap-door in the floor, through which he would fall into a deep pit, and into a 


subterranean dungeon, where he miserably perished. And so she had many victims, and the more she 
sacrificed the better pleased she was, for she was a wicked sorceress, insatiable in lust and murder. 

**But it went not thus with one of her lovers, who knew her nature. And when she asked him 
to pass the secret gate, he replied : — 

***Thou, vilest of women, 

Thinkest 1)ecause thou art rich and powerful 

That all must bow before thee? 

Rich and powerful, and beyond that 

A harlot and coquette, 

Vile thou art. To hide thy dishonour. 

Thou sendest many to God — 

Makest thy lovers die. 

" * But so thou wilt not do with me, for I too am of the wizards, a son of a witch, and more powerful 
than thou art. And at once thou shalt have proof of it. 

*** Three times I call thee, 
Lea, Lea, O Lea ! 
Thou art cursed from the very heart. 
By my mother and by me. 
For thou didst kill my brother ; 
For that I come to condemn thee ; 
A serpent thou shalt become, 
Every night as a serpent 
Thou shalt suck the blood of corpses — 
The corpses of thy dead lovers ; 
But 6rst of all thou shalt go 
Unto the body of my brother. 
Thou shalt put life into him. 
Breathe into him, revive him. 
Henceforth all men shall know thee 
As an accursed witch ! ' 

" And so it came to pass that after three days the dead brother was revived, but the beautiful Lea 
was always a serpent witch." 

It would seem as if there were an echo in this tale of the Libitina, the 
goddess of lust itself, as well as of death. " Ab lubendo libido, lubidinosus, 
ac Venus Libentina et Libitina" (Varro, 1. i, vi. 47; apud Preller, p. 387.) 
She was also the generally recognised goddess of corpses and of the dead. 
Preller quotes several instances to illustrate the fact that death and luxuriant 
life — schwellendes Leben — were thus intimately connected in one myth, in a 
single person, and that the Sabine Feronia was paralleled with the Greek 
Persephone, and Flora. There arc also the affinities between Venqs and 


The story has a great resemblance to one of Odin, which has been set 
forth in a German poem by Herz. It also recalls — 

"The proud and stately queen 
By whose command, De Buridan 
Was thrown at midnight in the Seine.*' 

That is to say, the well-known legend of the Tour de Nesle. But I believe 
that this is a very old Italian tale, and possibly archaic, because the connection 
between lust and death is so strongly and strangely marked in it. That Lea is 
given the form of a serpent in order to revive the dead cannot fail to strike 
every one who is familiar with classic serpent-lore. 

It is far too bold a conjecture that the word Lia or Lea is derived from 
Libitina ; but it is certain that the characteristics of the two are the same. 
Libitina was also known among the Romans as Lubia, and as a goddess of lust 
(Preller, 581), *^an nomen ab libidine " (AUGUST, iv. 8), and the name may have 
been still more abbreviated. The step from Libia, or Livia, to Lia, would be in 
peasant dialect almost inevitable. We must always remember the fact in such 
cases that the tale is from the same country as the ancient characters. 

Wizard Saints. 

It was the most natural thing in the world that there should be certain 
blendings, compromises, and points of affinity between the Stregeria — witchcraft, 
or " old religion," founded on the Etruscan or Roman mythology and rites — and 
the Roman Catholic : both were based on magic, both used fetishes, amulets, 
incantations, and had recourse to spirits. In some cases these Christian spirits 
or saints corresponded with, and were actually derived from, the same source 
as the heathen. The sorcerers among the Tuscan peasantry were not slow to 
perceive this. How deeply rooted the old religion really is, occasionally, even 
to-day, may be inferred from the story told in Fqflon, of the peasant who, 
whatever happened, never neglected to bless the folletti — meaning the rural 
deities. As for the families in which stregheria^ or a knowledge of charms, old 
traditions and songs is preserved, they do not among themselves pretend to be 
even Christian. That is to say, they maintain outward observances, and bring 
the children up as Catholics, and " keep in " with the priest, but as the children 
grow older, if any aptitude is observed in them for sorcery, some old grand- 
mother or aunt takes them in hand, and initiates them into the ancient faith. 
That is to say it was so, for now all this is passing away rapidly. 


Certain saints are regarded as being folleitu A folletto is a generic term 
for almost any kind of spirit not Christian. Fairies, goblins, spectres, nymphs, 
are all called by this name. There is a Mafiuale di Spiriti Folletti published 
at Asti (1864), which includes devils, vampires, undines, and comets under this 

The chief of the goblin-saints is Saint Antonio, Antony, or Anthony. 
This character was remarkably familiar with strange spirits of all kinds. The 
priests represented that he was beset and tempted by devils ; but the sorcerers 
knew that all their dear and beautiful gods, or folletti — their Faflon- Bacchus 
and Bella Marta of the Morning — were called devils, and so had their own 
ideas on the subject. They did not object to being tempted by these "devils" 
when they came as beings of enchanting beauty, to fill their wine-cellars and 
give them no end of good luck in gambling and naughty love. Even the 
priests made it very prominent that Antony commanded all kinds of devils and 
folletti — ergo he was a conjuror and streghone and "in the business," like 
themselves. "Saints Antonio and Simeone cannot be saints," said a strega to 
me, " because we always perform incantations to them in a cellar by night" 
This of course is always done to heathen spirits, and never to saints. But 
what is very conclusive is this : It is decidedly a matter of witchcraft, and most 
un-Christian, to say the Lord's prayer either backwards, or "double" — that is, 
to repeat every sentence twice. This — the patcr-noster a doppio — will call any 
heathen spirit in double quick time ; and it is peculiarly addressed to Saint 
Antony, and bears his name. 

Thus when one has lost anything — qtiando si perde qualche cosa — you say 
a double paternoster to San Antonio, thus : — 

** Pater noster — Paler noster ! 
Qui cs in coelis — Qui es in coelis ! " &c., &c. 

" Ma dire il paternoster cosi e della stregheria, e non della vera religione 
Cattolica" ("But to say the paternoster thus, is of witchcraft, and not the real 
Catholic religion "). So said one who had received a liberal education in the 

Quite as heathen does this saint appear in the following ceremony, every 
detail of which is taken from ancient sorcery : When a girl wishes to win or 
reclaim a lover, or, indeed, if anybody wants anything at all, he — or generally 

* According to PiTRfe (Usie Custome^ &c., vol. iv., p. 69) \he folletio in Southern Italy is only one 
kind of spirit — non se m pub ammettere fiu (ftino. This is a ht4on diavoletto^ and the exact counter- 
part of DusiOy or Puck, a trifling airy Robin Goodfellow, or fairy of the Shakespeare and Drayton type. 


she— puts two flower-pots, containing FMa Sa?i Antonio^ one on either side of 
an open window at midnight, with a pot of rue in the centre. These must be 
bound with a red-scarlet ribbon, made in three knots, and pierced or dotted 
with pins, as a tassel {fatto con tre nodi e puntati con tre spilli per fiocchio\ and 
turning to the window, say : — 

**Sant' Antonio, mio benigno, 
Di pregarvi non son digno, 
Se questa grazia mi farete, 
Tre fiammi di fuoco per me facete ; 
Una sopra la mia testa, 
Che per me arde e tempesta, 
Una canto al mio cuore, 
Che mi levi da questo dolore, 
Una vicino alia mia porta 
Che di questa grazia non se ne sorta; 
Se questa grazia mi avete fatto, 
Fate mi sentir tre voci ! 

Porta bussare 

Uomo fistiare, 
£ cane abbiare ! 

English : — 

(** My benign Saint Antony ! 

I am not worthy to pray to thee, 

This grace I modestly require ; 

Pray light for me three flames of Bre, 

And of these the first in turn 

On my head may storm and burn, 

One I pray within my heart, 

That all pain from me depart, 

And the third beside my door. 

That it may never leave me more. 

If this grace be granted me. 

Let three sounds be heard by me : 

A knock at a door, 

A whistle, before, 
Or the bark of a dog— I ask no more.) 

**VVhen this prayer shall have been uttered, wait attentively at the window, and if a knock at a 
door be heard, or a man whistling, or a dog barking, then the request— ^osta — will be granted; one 
alone of these sounds will suffice to make it known. But should a dark [ftero) horse or mule pass, or 
a hearse, bearing a corpse, then the prayer is refused. 

" But if a white horse goes by, the favour will be conceded — ma con molto tempo — after some time 
shall have passed." 

It may always be borne in mind that though this be addressed to a mediaeval 

y - II  mm 
 .II , IBH ^P** 



saint, there is every probability, and, judging by every analogy and association, 
a certainty, that San Antonio is some Roman or Etruscan spirit in Christian 
disguise. For all the details of the ceremony are old heathen, as is the di- 
vination by sounds. 

Saint Antony protects his friends from many troubles, but specially from 
witchcraft. Therefore they say to him in Romagnola : — 

*' Sant* Antognc, Sant' Antogne 
Sopre came, liberez dai sase ! 
Liberez dai asase ! 
£ dai streghi chliiivengu, 
In camia a stregem 
I mi burdel chi 'e tent bel ! 
Sant' Antogne e santa pia, 
Tui Ionian el Streghi da camia, 
So ven el streghi in camia 
Ai buttar drc la graneda, 
Chi vega via ! " 

In Italian : — 

*' Santo Anto super (sopra) il cammino 
Liberate ci dagli assassini ! 
Liberate ci dagli assassini ! 
E dalle Strege che non vengano 
In casa mia a stregare 
I mici bambini che sono tanti belli, 
Santo mio, Santo pio ! 
Tenetemi lontano le strege. 
Di casa mio ! 

Se viene le strege in casa mia, 
Buttatele dietro la granata 
Che vadino via ! " 

(** Saint Antony on the chimney-piece 
Let our fears of murderers cease ! 
Free us from all evil which is 
Round us — specially from witches 
Who come in our minds bewilderin' 
To enchant my pretty children : 
Saint Antonio — I pray — 
Keep such creatures far away ! 
If you'll throw the broom behind 'em, 
I at least will never mind 'em ! ") 

This is not very beautiful poetry, but it is as good as the original, which is 
not in either form " written in choice Italian." The reader may judge from them 



what trouble I have sometimes had to disentangle an incantation from the 
bristling dialect in which it was surrounded. 

In allusion to Saint Antony on the chimney-piece I was informed that 
he is specially ^efolletto^ or spirit, of the fireplace. Which makes him quite the 
same as the Russian Domovoy, and gives him — which is worth noting — a distinct 
place as a Lar or spiritus domestimSy lar familiaris. 

Santo Eliseo is unquestionably at first sight Elisha. He has a bald head, and 
appears as the destroyer of bad boys. But — scratch a Russian and you find a 
Tartar — when we look into this interesting Christian he appears to be sadly 
heathen, even Jovial, for there is a distinct trace of Jupiter in him. When a 
young lady finds that her lover is going astray, she, after the fashion followed in 
the blackest witchcraft, takes some of the hair of her lover, goes into a cellar at 
midnight and curses, blasphemes, and conjures after the following good old 
Tuscan style : — 

'* Santo Elisaeo dalla testa pelata, 
Una grazia mi vorrete fare, 
I ragazzi da un leone 
Li avetc fatti mangiare, 
Spero di me vi non vorrete dimenticarc 
Stanotte a mezza notte, 
Dentro alia cantina, 
Vi verro a portare 
I peli del amor mio 
Perche una paruccha 
Ve ne potrete fare, 
E nel posto dei peli 
Del amor mio 
Tutti diavoli e strege 
Li farete diventare, 
Che non possa vivere, 
Non ix>ssa stare, 
Che non abbia piii pace, 
Ne a here ne a mangiare, 
Fino che I'amor mio 
AUe porte di casa mia, 
Non fanno ritornare ; 
Non le diano pace, 
E con alt re donne 
Non la facciano parlare ! " 

In English : — 

** Saint Elisoco, bald-headed one ! 
For a special favour I pray ; 
Tis said that boys once by a lion 
Were eaten for you one day ; 



Therefore I trust from your memory 

I shall not pass away. 

Here in this cellar at midnight 

Ever devoted and true, 

I have brought some hair from my lover, 

To make a wig for you : 

And for all the hairs 

Which I have taken away, 

May just as many devils 

About him ever play, 

May he not live, 

Or stand or think, 

Or know any peace, 

Or cat or drink 

Until he shall come 

Again to my door, 

With true love returning 

As once before, 

Nor with other women 

Make love any more I " 

Truly a curious invocation, and a nice occupation for a Christian saint ! But 
who was this Elisa^o, or Eh'saeus ? There was of yore a certain Jupiter Elicoeus, 
or Aeh'saeus, not unconnected with lions, who was well known in this same Tuscan 
land ; but I leave all this to others. Elisha of the Bible was a wonderful worker 
of miracles, and this may have established him as a magician among the Tuscans. 

Saint Elia is Saint Elias. He appears in the following prescription and 
invocation : — 

" To cure an affliction of the eyes, take three roots bound with a red ribbon, three leaves of trefoil 
and then say : — 

** * Stacco queste trefoglie per Santo Elia, 
Che il mal d*occhio mi mandi via.' 

('* *I take these three leaves by Saint Elias, 

That he may banish the pain from my eyes.*) 

** Then take three peppercorns and a bit of cinnamon, three cloves, and a large handful of salt, and put 
all to boil in a new earthenware pot, and let it boil for a quarter of an hour. During this time put your face 
over it so that the eyes may be steamed, and keep making la castagna (the sign of the thumb between the 
fingers) into the pot and say : — 

** * Per che maladetto sia I 

(Then spit thrice behind you) 

Per Santo Elia, Santo Elia, Santo Elia I 

Che il male degli occhi mi mandi via ! ' 

** And this must be done for three days." 


Another sorcerer-saint is Simeon. As he is sometimes called Simeone 
Mago, there cannot be the least doubt that he is quite confused with 
Simon the Magician ; in fact, I ascertained as much from a witch who was 
much above the average of the common people as regarded education. 
For when people are not encouraged to study the Bible, such little mistakes 
are of unavoidable occurrence. But before I conclude this chapter I shall 
show that there is a complete confusion in Italy between old sorcery and 
Christianity, and that the priests, far from opposing it, in a way actually 
encourage and aid it, on the principle that you can always sell more goods where 
there is a rival in competition. The following was taken down word by word 
from a witch : — 

" II Vecchio Simeone Santo. 

" This saint is a folktta — />., a heathen spirit. There are many of these 
spirits who in witchcraft are called saints. And this is not all. For as you 
invoke Simeon, so you may call other spirits faccendo la Novena — repeating the 
Novena." (This is a Roman Catholic incantation, a copy of which was purchased 
for me in a cross and rosary shop.) " You simply substitute the name of d^foUetto 
for Simeon — any spirit you want. 

"But for Simon himself, when, you go to bed you must repeat his Novena 
three nights in succession at midnight 

" But you must be fearless (Jbisogna essere di coraggio)^ for he will come In 
many forms or figures, dressed like a priest in white, or like a friar with a long 
beard. But do not be afraid however he may change his form. Then he will 
ask, ' Cosa volete che mi avete scommodato ? * (* What do you want, that you 
trouble me thus ? ') Then answer promptly whatever it may be that you require 
— three numbers in the lottery, or where a hidden treasure is concealed, or how 
you may get the love of a certain woman : qualunqtce fortuna si desidera — what* 
ever fortune you desire. 

" But be very careful in repeating the Novena not to err in a single syllable, 
and to repeat it with a fearless mind {colla mente molto femid)^ and so you will get 
from him what you want. 

" But if you are not [fearless] and prompt to answer, he will give you a 
stiaffo forte (a sound slap or cuff), so that the five fingers will remain marked on 
your face — yes, and sometimes they never disappear." 

The Novena itself is as follows : — 


*' O gloriossissimo S. Vecchio Simeone che meritaste ed aveste la Ijella sorte di ricevere e portare 
nella vostre fortunate braccie il Divin Pargoletto Gcsu — E le annunziaste e profetiziaste e le vostre Profezle 
furono sante veriti— Oh Santo concedetomi la grazia che vi addomando. Affun" 

This is the inscription under a coloured print in which Saint Simon is 
represented as clad in a grey skirt to the ground, a scarlet gown to the knee, a 
yellow sash and girdle, and a kind of high mitred cap — quite such as was worn by 
magi and sorcerers and Egyptian priests of yore — whence it came in the second 
or third century with a mass of other Oriental properties and wardrobes to the 
Roman Catholic manager of the Grand Opera of Saint Peter. 

This is the account of the spell as given by one who was a believer in this 
heathen Tuscan magic. In it we have, plainly and clearly, an old heathen spirit 
or the magician Simon, who changed his forms like Proteus. It is very curious to 
contrast this with the following Roman Catholic method of working the oracle, as 
given in the Libretto di Stregonerie, a halfpenny popular, half-pious work. 

" Il buon Vecchio Simeone. 

" Procure an image or statuette in plaster of this great saint, who presided at the circumcision of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, with the old Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary, lx)th being the very much beloved progenitors of 
the Lord God the Redeemer. 

'* It makes no difference if the image of the saint be of plaster or a picture, if wc repeat the marvellous 
Oration (Novena) dedicated to him, and if according to the instructions in it we recite the customary prayer. 

" And it is certain that afler the Novena^ the good old man will appear in some form, and give to the one 
praying his request ; but what he principally bestows is lucky numbers in the lottery. 

" There is no occasion to fear, for the saint generally appears in a dream while you sleep, and his form 
is so good and benevolent that there is no danger of awaking trembling and terrified. 

*' The whole difficulty is to know how to decipher the exact meaning of the words and signs which the 
saint will give. Many people miss their meaning, according to what many have experienced, so difficult is 
it to decipher and unravel the problems or * figurations.' *' ' 

There, reader, you have the two— take your choice. One is the downright 
grim old heathen classic Proteus Simon, who requires the courage of an old 
Norse hero to face him, or one of the kind who — 

" Ransacked the tombs of heroes old. 
And falchions wrenched from corpses' hold," 

while the other is all rose-water— .f«^r/— and light pink ribbons. But you 
should have seen the sorceress who prescribed the allopathic spell ! She looked 

" It is a fact worth noting that in all religions of all ages the inspiring spirit of oracles, like Martin Van 
Burcn, the American President, seems to suffer from a decided inability to give a pUin straightforward 
answer to a plain question. The prophecies of the Old Testament, like those of the Pythoness, or Merlin, 
or Thomas Nixon, or Mother Bunch, or True Thomas, or Nostradamus, are all frightfully muddled. I 
believe that no theologian has ever accounted for this divine inability to speak directly or to the point. 


her part. One day I said to her that I wanted a photograph of a certain other 
old woman professor of the art, but she must look animated like a witch. " Oh, 
you want her to look like THIS ! " cried my oracle. And she put on for an instant 
the witch-look — and, as Byron says of Gulleyaz, it was like a short glimpse of 
hell. She actually seemed to be another person. Then I realised what the 
Pythia of yore must have looked like when inspired — or the old Etruscan sor- 
ceress described in T/te Last Days of Pompeii — who was possibly an ancestress of 
my friend. A photograph of tfuzt ! Why, it would be like the likeness of a devil 
with the hydrophobia. 

One day I gave a young woman an amulet — a stone in the form of a mouse — 

for luck. Her first question was, "Will it enable me to win in the lottery?" 
" For that," I replied, " you must put it under your pillow, and pray to San 

Simeone." " Si — si^^ she eagerly cried, " I know the Novena!' When I met 

her some time after she declared that the mouse (which she was wearing in 

a little red bag hung from her neck, but hidden), had promptly brought her a 

prize in the lottery, and much other unexpected good luck. 

What we have here are two forms of sorcery — one the old Roman-Etruscan, 
and the other its modification under Roman Catholic influence. I suspect that 
the first was in the beginning purely Etruscan, but modified to agree with Simon 
Magus. I have other forms of diabolical or heathen spells which are unquestion- 
ably ante or anti-Christian, and which agree with it so much as to prove a 
common origin. I will now proceed to "further instances." 

It is not remarkable that there should be saints half heathen in a country 
where the established Christian religion itself makes extraordinary and frequent 
compromises with common sorcery and black witchcraft. In old times those 
souls of men who had slain many victims were invoked above all others, the 
belief being that they carried into the other world the audacious power which 
they had won by blood. This foul and atrocious worship of dead criminals is 
to-day in full action in Sicily with the cordial sanction of the priesthood, as the 
reader may learn in detail from a chapter in the Biblioteca delle Tradizioni 
popolari Siciliane, edited by GIUSEPPE Pitr4 voL xvii., Palermo, 1889. In it 
we are told that when murderers and other atrocious criminals have been beheaded, 
if they do but confess and receive absolution before death, they are believed to 
become a specially favoured kind of saints, who, if invoked when any one is in 
danger of being robbed and slain, come down from heaven and aid the victim. 
And this is carried so far that there is actually a chiesa delle anitne de corpi 
decollati (a "church of the souls of beheaded bodies") in Palermo, with many 
pictures of the holy miracles wrought by the sainted murderers. M. PiTRfe has 


devoted twenty-five pages to this subject, showing the extent of this vilest form 
of superstition and witchcraft, the zeal of its worshippers, and the degree to 
which it is encouraged by the priests. There is a work entitled Saint Francis of 
Assissif Sacred Discourses, delivered by the Rev. FORTUNATO MoNDELLO, 
Palermo, 1874, ^^ which such worship is commended and exalted with much 
sham-second-hand fervour, in that wretched fervid style of writing, which 
reminds one of third-rate plaster statues of saints in Jesuit churches of the last 
century, which the sculptor attempts to make holy-sentimental but has only 
succeeded in rendering spasmodically silly. There is, according to him, some- 
thing exquisitely tender and beautiful in giving " to these pilgrims of eternity 
when about to rise to heaven, the refreshment of that sublime word, "Sons of 
penitence — fly — fly to glory ! " " So religion ennobles and sanctifies their death 
when they take the cross of the Redeemer," &c., and so forth, as usual, when 
the stream of such holy commonplaces is once turned on. 

What this really is, is devil-worship. These saints have been the very scum 
of Sicilian brigandance, outrage, robbery, and wickedness — incarnate fiends ; and 
now, because they went through a mere form of words and were sprinkled and 
oiled, they are adored like God, are prayed to, and their relations are proud of 
them. In all this there does not appear a word as to their unfortunate victims. 
No ; because these latter went straight to hell, having mostly died "in sin," 
without confession. 

" It is believed about Naples or in Sicily, that a man will be safe not to go 
to hell if he will take some flour, roll it up in a paper, carry it to a priest who lays 
it on the altar near the cup and renders it potent with the words of the consecra- 
tion " {Jbid.y p. 142). This practice was condemned in 1638, but there are many 
similar ceremonies still practised with the aid of priests. Thus in Florence if a 
woman wishes to be with child, she goes to a priest and gets from him an 
enchanted apple, after which she repairs to Saint Anna, la San 'Na who was 
Lucina of Roman times, and repeats a prayer or spell. And all this is not 
sorcery! Oh dear no — that is quite a different thing! Thana was in fact the 
Etruscan Lucina, or goddess of birth, and Anna may be derived from this. 
She was identical with Losna. 

Saint Lawrence, or San Lorenzo, is another old heathen in disguise. He 
was grilled on a gridiron. His day is the loth of August, when innumerable 
children visit his church and turn three times round before the altar, or go round 
it thrice for good luck, reciting orazioni, incantations, and prayers. " E ciascuna 
volta far mostra d'uscise di Chiesa." 

This turning or going round for luck is a remnant of the old worship of 


Fortune, and of the turning of her wheel. To this day in Sicily the turning a 
knife or spinning a chair is an invocation of Fortune according to Pitrd 

To recur to Simon, one can hardly fail to inquire of him as the Christian 
Saint of the Circumcision, since he performed the deed and Christ submitted to 
it), giving us thereby a divine example, and since the circumcision is glorified in 
every church, and in thousands of pictures, as in this Novena), why do not all 
Catholics submit to it ? Surely the Pope, cardinals, and priesthood should con- 
form to that which they glorify, and set the example of. " Or if so, why not ? " 
" Matter of breviary, quoth Friar John." 

Simeone as the Saint of Dreams has taken the place of Somnus. It may be 
that Somnus, who became Somno, may have been called Somnoiie and so coalesced 
with Simeone. This is mere conjecture, but by a guess hypothesis begins, and 
then in time a place as theory wins. The difference between Santo Simeone and 
Santo Somnone is not tremendous — and Simeone is the Saint of Dreams. 

While these sheets were going through the press, I received several curious 
documents which I regret that I cannot give in detail. The first is a legend of 
a spirit or sorcerer, who was on earth a priest named Arrimini^ who hid in the 
magic walnut-tree (probably of Benevento), and acquired magic power by means 
of a cat-witch's blood. The second is a strange and interesting tale of the 
rivalry of two witches named Meta and Goda^ in which the latter comes to grief 
by endeavouring to bewitch the king's son. Both of these talcs are from the 
Tuscan Romagna, that of Arrimini comes from Premilcuore, and is written by 
Peppino, who has been several times referred to in this book. I may here lay 
stress on the fact that these witch or sorcery legends have a marked character of 
their own, being all harsher, cruder, and more uncanny than the usual Italian fairy 
tales, in which latter there are, however, many traces of the former. I mention 
this, because in marked contrast to them I have received with the others the 
tale of // Fopiaio^ or of the baker Tozzi and his daughter the fair Fiorlinda^ 
which is made up of the usual nursery-tale elements, or the cruel stepmother, the 
benevolent fairy, the ugly envious daughter of the stepmother, and the young 
prince. The real witch tales are told among witches and grown people, and 
have a far grimmer, darker, and more occult tone than the latter. Thus in the 
story of Arrimini it is not the tiarrative by any means which forms its strength, 
but the description of the magic means and materials obtained, which would 
be of no interest to any one save to adult " professionals." 








E are told in the 
Heiniskringla, an early 
history of Norway, that 
when Ragnhild, the 
wife of King Halfdan 
the Swarthy, was with 
child she dreamed 
marvellous dreams. 
Once she seemed to be 
standing in a garden 
trying to take a thorn om of her chemise, but the thorn grew in her hand until it 
was like a long spindle. One end of it took root in the earth, while the other shot 


up into a great tree, so high that her eye could scarcely reach the top of it. The 
lower part of the trunk was red as blood, further up it was green and fair, while 
the branches were white as snow. They were of very unequal size, and it seemed 
to her that they spread out over the whole kingdom of Norway. 

King Halfdan hearing this wished to dream also, to further explain the mystery. 
He consulted a magician, who told him that the sure way to have truly prophetic 
dreams was to sleep in a pigsty. The king did so, and dreamed that his hair grew 
to be very long and beautiful. It fell in bright locks about his head and shoulders, 
but they were of unequal length and colour ; and one lock was longer, brighter, and 
more beautiful than the others. This was interpreted to mean that a mighty race 
of kings should spring from him, though they would be unequal in fame. The 
largest lock was in after days, according to Snorro Sturleson, supposed to indicate 
Olof the Saint. As for the queen she bore a son, Harold, who became famous for 
his long locks whence he was called Harold Harfagr, or, Harold the Fair-haired. 

The belief that prophetic dreams can be secured by sleeping in a pig-pen is 
widely spread. The Roumanians and so-called Saxons, and probably all the 
Slavonian and gypsy inhabitants of Hungary, are familiar with it Therefore I was 
not astonished when on asking my fortune-teller from the Tuscan Romagna 
whether people ever slept in a stalla di maiale, or pig-pen, she at once replied that 
per avere un vero sogna — to have a true dream — it was the most approved method 
known, and proceeded to explain how it should be done, in these words : — 

** To learn the future in a dream one must sleep in a pigsty, and above all be sure that the pen is occupied 
by a maiala incinta o gravida — a sow with young. And he must sleep alia boccone^ that is on his face, and 
crouched up, or else flat on his back, but not on his side. And before going to sleep he must say : — 

*** Mi addormento 

Per fare un buon sogno, 

Sant* Antonio che siete 

Sopra i maiale, ^ 

Fate mi la grazia 

Che possa fare 

Un buon sogno, 

Secondo il mio desidirio ! ' 

(*" I sleep that I may 

Have a propitious dream. 

Saint Antonio who art 

Placed over the pigs ; 

Grant me the grace, 

That I may have a good dream. 

Such as I desire!') 

'* And doing this he will surely see in a dream that which will set forth or explain what be wishes to 


" In Germany," says De Gubernatis, " common people often go to steep on 
Christmas Day in the pigsty, hoping to dream there ; and this dream is the presage 
of good luck. The new sun is born in the sty of the winter hog." 

It is worth observing that as everything which was connected with generation 
or begetting, such as life, love, revival, birth, fruitfulness, and coupling of the sexes, 
was associated with light and reviving springtime, therefore the pig, though tt was 
as a wild boar a symbol of death and darkness, yet because it is enormously prolific 
"and one of the most libidinous of animals, was sacred to Venus, and for this 
reason,- accoiiJing to the Pythagoreans, lustful men are transformed into ht^s" 
(De Gubernatis, vol. ii., p. 6). In fact the pudendum fern, itself, as a symbol of 



fruiffulness, was known as a pig, and has for this reason always been worn as a 
charm for luck. The cowrie shell, from its resemblance to the same or^n 
was also called a pig, and is extensively used at the present day in the East as 
a charm against the evil eye. In Varro {De re Rustica, ii. 4) we read : — 

" NuplinruTn initio, antiqui r^es ac sublimeE viii in HeUuria in conjunctione nuptiali nova nupta, el novus 
maiitits primum porcum immolanl ; prisci quoque Lalini el eliam Gncci in lulia fedsse videntur, nam et 
noslrx mutieres, maxime nuttices naiuram, qua fcemin^ sunt, in vii^nibua appellant /iivruM, et Grxce ^ilciniH, 

significantes esse dignum insigni Quptiarum." 

As sleeping in a pigsty gives true dreams, so the pig seems of old in many 
lands to have been closely allied to truth, for Romans, Scandinavians, and Germans 
all swore by It {Livius, i., 24 ; Mmne, Geschickte des Heidenthums, i,, p. 259 ; Claudius 
Paradinus Symbola luroica (Antwerp, 1583), p. 8. Also in the Hervor Saga, King 
Heidreck swears by a boar, the symbol sacred to Frey. The pig was so generally 


used in sacrifices, and was so closely connected with mysteries and holy rites, that 
a German, Casselius, published a work on the subject — De Sacrifictis porcinis in 
cultu dearum veterum^ Bremen, 1769. For much erudition on the subject of swine 
in ancient mythology and legend the reader may consult Die Syntbolik und Myth- 
ologie der Natur^ von J. B. Friedrich. Wurzburg, 1859. It is not generally known 
that the reason which the Turks give for not eating pork is that all living things 
were converted to Mahometanism except the pig, who remained a heathen. And 
in the Netherlands the peasants have a proverb of "the pig under the barrel," 
which refers to the Jews refraining from "the unclean beast," and tell a story 
accounting for it : — 

" When Christ once went to Flanders the Jews ridiculed His teaching, and to test His wisdom they hid one 
of their number under a barrel, and asked Him what was there ; and He answered, " A pig>'* So they laughed 
Him to scorn. But lo ! when they lifted the barrel, there was their friend changed into a hog. And he ran 
forth and mingled with the other swine, and because the Jews could not pick him out, to this day they have 
eaten no pork for fear of devouring him or his descendants." 

There is another old and curious Norse story of dreaming in a pig-pen. When 
Earl Haakon was fleeing (a.D. 995), from his subjects, who had risen in rebellion, 
he went with a single thrall, a slave named Kark, who had been his playmate from 
his boyhood, to his mistress Thora of Rimul. And she hid the two in a deep ditch 
under her pigsty. This was covered over with boards and earth, and the pigs were 
over it. 

" Then came Olaf Tryggvesson, of the race of Harold the Fair-haired, to Rimul to seek and slay Haakon. 
And calling his men together he mounted a great stone close to the pigsty and declared in a loud voice that he 
would give a great reward to any one who would find the earl and slay him. 

*' The earl heard this, and saw that the thrall Kark was listening eagerly. 

" 'Why art thou now so pale,* asked the earl, 'and now again as black as earth? Is it that thou 
wilt betray me?' 

" « No,' replied Kark. 

" ' We were both born in the same night,' said the earl, 'and our deaths will not be far apart.' 

'* They sat in silence. At last Kark slept, but he tossed and talked in his sleep. The earl waked him, 
and asked what he had dreamed. 

" ' I dreamed,' answered Kark, ' that we were both on board a ship, and that I stood at the helm.' 

" ' That must mean that thou rulest over thy own life as well as mine. Be faithful to me and I will 
reward thee when better times come.' 

" Once more the thrall fell asleep, and had a nightmare. The earl woke him again, and asked him his 

" ' I thought I was at Hlode,' said Kark, ' and Olaf Tryggvesson put a golden ring about my neck.' 

" ' The meaning of that,' said the earl, * is that Olaf will put a red ring about thy neck if thou goest to 
seek him. Therefore beware of him, and be true to me.' 

"But when the earl fell asleep Kark slew his master with his knife, thrusting it into his throat. Soon 
after he came to Olaf with Haakon's head, and claimed the reward promised. But Olaf verified the 
murdered man's prophecy. He put, not a ring of gold, but one of blood round Kark's neck, for he be- 
headed him. 


" For though Haakon Jarlo Earl Haco had been his bitterest foe, and done him great evil all his life 
long, he little liked it that so great a man should be treacherously slain by a slave whom he had ever treated 
kindly. And as the saga ends : — 

"Oc er Olafr kiendi thetta var hofut Hakonar Jarlo, tha reddist han thrselnum, oc bad han uppfesta, oc 
sagdi hann hofa skild maklig laun, fyri sin Drottin svik. Sveik hann Hakon Jarl, svikia mann hann mik, ef 
han ma. Enn sua skal leida drottins svikun.'* 

English : — 

** And when Olaf knew that it was the head of Earl Haakon he was enraged at the thrall, and ordered him 
to be hanged, and said, ' He shall have evil boot for betraying his master. For if he deceived Earl Haakon so 
would he betray me if he could — and so shall all treason to a master be rewarded.' *' 

As we are influenced by surroundings, it is natural that certain places should 
have been chosen to dream in. '* We have read," says Pico de Mirandola in his 
Witchy "that the physicians of Calabria and Taurus were wont to sleep in the 
sepulchre of Podalirius, and others in that of Esculapius." A pig-pen is, however, 
several degrees removed from a temple, or even a tomb. As the former seems to 
be distinctly Northern, it may have come into the Romagna from the Lombards. 
It may be observed that it is only in the Italian traditions that the minutiae of the 
ceremony are given. The presence of the sow with pig is significant. It was by 
a prediction referring to such a sow that Odin caused himself to be suspected 
by King Heidreck in the Hervor Saga 

But not long after I had written the foregoing remarks, I came across a certain 
passage in the Symbolik of Creuzer (whom, by the way, I knew in Heidelberg in 
1847), which seems to cast much light on this connection of the pig-pen with the 
temple. I 

" Unto Demeter or Ceres pregnant sows were specially offered in sacrifice, as 
Comutus, the Stoic, who lived sixty-eight years after Christ, informs us, as does 
Arnobius {Disput. adversus GenteSy edit. Elmenhorst, p. 135), adding that it was 
because of the great fertility of this animal." Therefore it came to pass that pigs 
were kept in the cellars of the temple of Ceres and Proserpine, as Creuzer relates : 
" In honour of these goddesses the Bootians put little pigs into subterranean 
chapels, which the next year were seen in the meadows of Dodona. Pausanias 
and Clemens Alexandrinus speaks of the same thing as observed in other places." » 
Ceres was pre-eminently a goddess of fertility, therefore of good luck and all genial 
influences ; hence little gold and silver pigs were offered to her, and also worn 
by Roman ladies, partly to insure pregnancy, and partly for luck — a custom 

' L. Anmeus Comutus de tuUura deoruniy 211, pub. by Fr. Osann, 1844. 
' Pausanii De. Gnscue, lib. ix., c. 8. * 



which was revived as a fashion a few years ago in Paris, and a very funny one it 
was when adopted by unmarried virgins. Of which gold and silver pig-norance 
some note has been taken in a French novel, entitled Le Cochon cTOr. 

It is remarkable that the Italian superstition requires that there must be in 
the pig-pen a sow with young. According to Aristophanes, the sacrifice of the 
sow must be made when any one was initiated into the mysteries. For information 
on this subject consult also Bayerische Sagen utid Brduc/ie, Beitrag zur Deutsclun 
Mythologies von Friedrich Panzer, Munclten^ 1848. 

From what is here cited it appears that of old people slept in certain temples 
of the gods to have true dreams, and that these temples were used partially as 
pig-pens. And this much seems to be certain, that Ceres was greatly consulted by 
means of dreams, and that this dreaming was specially in her temples in which 
pigs were kept. 

The Spell of the Ivy and the Statue. 

*' Cur hedera cincta est ? hedera est gratissima Baccho, 
Hoc quoque, curita sit, dicere nulla mora est. 
Nysiaides Nymphse puerum quserente novera 
Hanc frondem cunis apposuere novis." 

Ovid, Fasti, iii. 

" •  

The first of the medical magical cures of M arcellus of Bordeaux is as 

follows : — 

. , . J. 

" Herba in capite statuae cujus libet nasci solet, ea decrescente luna, sublata capitique circumligatA 
dolorem tollit." 

("If grass growing on the head of any statue l>e placked in the waning of the moon and taken away, 
be bound about the head, it removes pain.'*) 

The sixth is much the same : — 

'* Herba vel hedera in capite statuae cujus libet nasci solet, ea si in panno rufo ligata capiti vel temporibus 
alligetur, mirum remedium hemicranise vel heterocraniae prestabit.*' 

("If grass or ivy grows on the head of any statue and it be gathered and tied in a red cloth to the head 
or temples, it will be a marvellous remedy for headache or neuralgia.") 

I inquired for a long time in Florence before I found the following cure for 
a headache. It was not only repealed to me, but also written : — 

" When you take grass from the head of a statue to cure a headache you must say : — 


*• * Non prendo Terba, 
Ma prendo la magia 
Che il mal di capo mi vada via, 
E chi mi ha dato la malia 
II diavolo la porta via.' 

** And then you must make U come (the sign of the horns or y^e/Zo/ifra) behind you." 


That is to say, cast it in the old Roman fashion over your right shoulder. In 
English this is : — 

'M do not take the grass or ivy, 
But I take the magic power, 
That the headache may leave me, 
And may the devil carry away 
The one who gave it to me ! " 

Now it may be observed that whenever any of these magical prescriptions 
are wanting, as regards an incantation, they are always imperfect. 

Marcellus, as the imperial court physician, probably did not obtain his 
prescriptions very accurately from the people. I am quite sure that this Italian 
incantation is far older than the third century. It is in the same form as many 
others ; but what is most conclusive, it assumes, as a matter of course, that even 
a headache must be the result of evil magic. This is the very oldest form of 

I have no doubt that Ivy was the original plant used in this cure. In early 
religious symbolism, as wreathing the head of Bacchus, it meant life itself, and that 

very deeply and significantly. Therefore, when it was found growing of itself on a 
statue, it was of course supposed to be very effective. The early Christians 
borrowed much from the Dionysiacs — among other things, the Ivy. They laid it 
in coffins as a symbol of new life in Christ.' 

I have said that ivy on the head of a statue was especially typical of health 
and life in Roman symbolism. It also signified on any head — as a garland, a fillet, 
or wreath — poetry, inspiration, or active genius. As appears from the following 
from Ovid : — 

' " Hedera quoque vel laurus et hujusmodi : quae semper servant vivorem in sarcophago corpori subster* 
nantur ad significandum, quod qui moriantur in Christo, vivere non desinant, nam licet mundo moriantur 
secundum corpus, tamen secundum animam vivunt et reviviscunt in Deo." — Durandus, Ration* Div. Offic^ 
lit. vii., c. 35. 



** Siquis habes nostris similes in imagine vultus, 
Deme meis hederas Bacchica serta comis, 
Ista decent Isetos felicia signa poetas, 
Temporibus non est apta corona meis." 

7Wj/i«w, lib. i., cl. 6. 

Of which crowning with ivy or roses, and many other customs, it can be truly 
said that we know very little as regards all the feeling, sentiment, and associations 
which attached to them in the days of yore. 

It is remarkable that, according to the very ancient and widely-spread 
tradition, any plant which grows off, away from, or above the earth, is believed to 
have magic or healing virtues, or to be spirit-haunted. The mistletoe, from its 
aerial nature, became almost the centre of Druid observance, and moss has many 
mysteries. The house-leek — in German Hmiswurs or Dontierkraut — is believed to 
guard a house from lightning (Grimm, D, M,^ 2 ed. B. i, s. 445) — the mountain-ash 
being also dedicated to Thor, or thunder. But remember that whenever you see grass 
or herbage, iwy or flowers, on old walls or ruins grey, there the owls wone, and elves 
and fairies delight to dwell or dance, or pass the time, as has been so well approved 
by much observation that to deny it were enough to deny all testimony of tradition. 
So rest ye firm in the faith that wherever — 

** High on the towers 

Grow beautiful flowers, 

Wall-flowers, ivy and grass ; 
There in the light 

Of a moonshine night 

You can see the fairies pass." 

The Spell of the Hare. 

** Flevit lepus parvulus 

Clamans altis vocibus, 

Quid feci hominibus : 

Ut me sequuntur canibus?" 

Gemtan Latin Song, Twelfth Century. 

" First catch your hare ..." 

Attributed, wrongly, to Mrs. G/asse. 

There is among the spells of Marcellus one (84, Grimm) to relieve the co/i 
dolor — inflammation of the colon, possibly here the colic — which is very curious : — 

" Lepori vivo lalum abstrahes, pilos ejus de sub ventre tolles atque ipsum vivum dimittes. De illis pilis 

» • • • . . 

vel lana fllum validum facies, et ex eo talum leporis conligabis corpusque laborantis pnecinges : miro remedio 


subvenies. Efficacius tamen erit remediiim, ita ut incredibile sit, si casu os ipsum, id est talum leporis in 
stercore lupi inveneris, quod ita custodire debes, ne aut terrain tangat aut a muliere contingatur, sed nee filum 
uUud de lana leporis debet mulicr ulla contingere. Hoc autem remedium cum uni profuerit ad alios transla- 
tum cum volueris, et quotiens volueris proderit. Filum quoque, quod ex lana vel pilis, quos de ventre leporis 
tulis, solus punis et nitidus facies, quod si ita Tentri laborantis subligaveris plurimum proderit, ut sublata lana 
leporem vivum dimittas et dicas ei, dum dimittis eum : — 

** * Fuge, fuge lepuscule ! 

Et tecum aufer doloreml'*" • • 

("Take from a live hare the ankle-bone (or heel-bone), remove the hair from his belly, and let him go 
alive From that hair, or fur, make a thread, and with it bind the bone to the body of the sufferer, and you will 
see a wonderful cure. But the remedy will be more efficacious — ^yea, incredible — should you by chance find 
that bone in the dung of a waif. In which case so guard it that it shall not touch the' earth' nor be touched by 
a woman, nor should any woman touch the thread made of the hare's wool. But the remedy may be trans- 
ferred from one to another patient as often as you will. But carefully wash the thread, every time, for more 
avail. And when you shall have shorn it away, let the hare run away alive and say : — 

***Run, run little hare 

And carry the colic with you ! ' '*) 

The following prescription is given word for word as it was told me in 
Florence : — 

" Take or catch a hare without doing it the least harm and say : — 


• Xjepre vi prendo, 
Ti porto a casa mia, 
Che tu mi porti 
La buona fortima, 
Fa porti via la male di . . .' 

(" * Hare, I take you, 

I bear you to my home, 

• * * * 

That you may bring me 
A good fortune ; • 
Bear away the illness of . . .") , 
[Here the name of the patient is mentioned.] 

" And when the hare is Carried home you must' cut, or shave, away its fiir in the form of a cross. . And this 
done, hold the hare towards the invalid with a third person, and put it on the neck of the one who suffers. 
Then let the hare run away, making the sign of the chestnut (or la ficd^y saying : — 

*** Vail e la malora 

£ il male tu possa portarlo con te; * 

£ lasciarci noi 
Tulti in liberta, 
Colla buona salute ! 


(** • Go I and mayst thou bear 

All the trpuble and ill with thee ! 
And leave us free 
With good health/) 

*' Then spit behind you thrice, aftd look not behutd vou^ and go not out from the house for three-quarters 
of an hour.'* 

I have no doubt that the incantation on catching the hare is as old as the rest, 
but was unknown to Marcellus. The cutting the fur away in the form of a cross is 
evidently modern. The spitting thrice and the sign of the castagna are old Roman, 
and formed a part of all such ceremonies. It will be seen that all of the Roman 
prescription is given in the Itah'an version, the concluding incantations, being 
almost identicaL 1 suspect that Marcellus really abridged most of his accounts. 
They may have been at first hurriedly noted down, and transcribed a long time 
after from the notes. Grimm, in fact, points out, with much sagacity, that they 
bear evidences of copying. It \&^ indeed, not in the nature of things that such a 
troublesome task as catching and shaving a hare, and extracting the talus^ &c., 
should have been " worked off," or dismissed, so abruptly as Marcellus describes it. 

There is not a negro in North America, and I suppose very few white men, 
who have not heard that the fore-foot of a rabbit (the hare being there unknown),' 
IS a charm for luck. The fore-foot brings fortune, the hind-fpot prevents evil from 
overtaking the bearer. This world-old, widely-spread belief owes its origin to a 
faith in the taluSy or ankle-bone. I possess specimens of these amulets, or fetishes, 
which were obtained from Voodoo sorcerers by Miss Mary Owen, of Saint Joseph, 

All mediaeval magic, as well as Roman, abounds in allusions to the effect that 
while engaged in incantation the operator must not look behind him. And if a 
traveller be followed by an evil spirit or fiend, the latter will have no power over 
him until he '' turns around his head." 

The injunction not to look behind one involves some very curious and very 
ancient lore. In Tuscany if one gathers ashes or other objects for magic, he or she 
in departing must not look round. So in Theocritus (Idyl 91), on gathering ashes 
such retrospection is forbidden. Also Virgil (Eclogue 8) writes : — 

*' Fers cineris Amarylli foras, rivoque fluenti 
Transque caput jace ne respexeris.*' 

HiLDEBRAND {Tluurgia^ P- 297) tells a marvellous tale, how a young man of 
noble birth was tormented by demons. His guardian angel promised him that if 
he would pray to God, not drink with the devils, and not once look behind him> 


bey Verlust seines Lebens — on his life, and could hold out till cock-crow, he would 
be all right Which so happened. PRiETORlus, who gives several pages to the 
subject " Why witches when riding on their brooms must not look behind them lest 
they fall off" — which it seems is a condition of broom and goat-riding {Blocksberg, 
p. 414) — very shrewdly conjectures that Satan got the idea from Lot's wife. This 
not turning round is probably connected with the unbroken attention or uninter- 
mitted thought which enters largely into all execution of spelk. When the witch's 
attention is distracted by intricate patterns, grains, or by songs, her evil power for 
the time is suspended. 

The Spell of the Spider. . 

" L'araign^ est un signe de bonheur et annpnce pacticulierement de Targent pour la personne sur laquelle 
est trouvi." 

As is very natural, the spider appears in Folk-lore as both bad and good, 
lucky and unlucky. From its ugliness and poison it is an emblem of enmity and 
hatred. " The Tarantula causes by its bite a species of madness, which, according 
to popular superstition, can only be cured by dancing." For this cure there is a 
physical explanation. Violent exercise often works off ill humours in the blood. A 
typhoid fever may be averted by hard labour. In Western America a man bitten 
by a rattlesnake must drink all the whiskey he can swallow, and run or walk till 
he drops with fatigue. Thus the Tarantella is a well-known dance, which popular 
superstition assigns to witches. It is the awakening dance at their Treguenda, or 

There is a legend which states that this Tarantella dance originated as follows : 
A priest bearing the sacrament passed by a party of dancers who did not salute 
it So he caused them to dance on and^ more madly than ever {Naturgeschichfe 
zur Ddmpfung des Aberglaubetis (Hamburg, 1793), p. 102). But while there are 
many legends of evil spirits appearing as spiders, on the other hand the extra- 
ordinary instinct, or ingenuity displayed by the insect in making its web, and its 
habit of always being in one place at home, and its foresight as regards the 
weather, have made it a generally recognised symbol for industry, cleverness, 
domestic steady habits, and prophecy. Therefore it brings good luck, and is a 
type of thrift and wealth. If a spider creeps over you and you do it no harm 
"there is money coming." Again, its wonderful perseverance in re-spinning its 
web, or in getting to a predetermined place, has pointed many a moral and 
adorned many a tale from the days of the Bruce to these our own times. 


Of course it found a place in magical medicine. M ARCELLUS (cap. 14, p. 104) 
gives the following : — 

"Araneam quae sarsum versus subit et Uxit prendes, et nomen ejus dices cui niedendum erit, etadjicies: 
Sic cito subeat uva ejus — quern nomino, quomodo aranea haec sursum repit et texit, torn ipsam aianeam in 
chartam virginem lino ligabis et collo laborantis suspendes die Jovis, sed dum prendes araneam vel phylacte- 
rium, alligas ter in terram spues.'* 

Which is to the effect that when you see a spider weaving upwards^ you name 
your invalid, and take the spider, and put it in a bag of virgin linen, and hang it 
round the neck of the patient, but while taking and bagging your spider, spit 
thrice on the ground.^ 

All of which is nearly the same in Tuscany, but with it there must be pro- 
nounced the following incantation : — 

" Rogno, o mio bel ragno ; 
Benedetto che tu sia ! 
La tela che tu fai, 
lAScia la in casa ipia, 
La tela che tu fat, 
Falla con buona fortuna, 
E con- malissima fortuna, 
E che la fortuna resti in casa mia, 
Quando la tela Thai fatta, 
Vattene o ragno miol 
Ma non di casa mia, 
Vattene dalla tela, 
Che tu mi hai fatto, 
Mi hai fatto con buona fortuna ; 
£ 10 la prendero 

In un sacchetto di lana rosso la mettero, 
E dentro un marengo d'oro vi uniro, 
£ cosi sempre piii buona fortuna io Tavro, 
E questo sacchetino 
Come un oracolo la terro, 
E la terro dentro al seno, 
£ mai pid lo lasciero I " 

{** Spider, O my pretty spider, 
Blessed be thou ! 
The web which thou weavest, 
Leave it in my house ! 

' The spiders that come to your house (so says the negro), indicate the number of your friends. If you 
kill a spider you will certainly lose a friend. At the same tlme» certain kinds of spiders cooked in the food are 
supposed to cause death. "A spider in the dumpling "is a name for secret poisoning. Spider-webs are 
found on the bodies of feeble babies. —Note by Mary A. Owen. 


The web which thou makest 

Make it lucky (with good fortune), 

Or with the worst fortune. 

And may the luck abide in my ouse, 

When thy web is spun 

Leap out, O my spider ! 

But not from my house. 

Go from thy web, 

Which thou hast woven for me, 

Which thou hast made with good luck, 

And I will take it, 

I will put it in a bag of red woollen ! 

And there with a golden spangle, 

Thus I shall ever have good luck. 

And this bag 

I will always keep as an oracle, 

I will keep it within my bosom, 

And I will never leave it I ") 

This incantation speaks of putting the web and not the spider in a bag of red 
woollen. But Marcellus in other cases orders the red woollen bag. As for the 
spitting thrice on the ground, it is a common formula at the end of many Tuscan 
incantations. I may say that it and the sign of the ficuy also of the jettatura, go 
ad libitum with all of them. 

There is no proof, but there is always a possibility, that all these modern 
incantations may be translations from the Latin, while it is almost certain that the 
Latin were in turn taken from the Etruscan, or Oscan, or some early tongue. If 
so, future researches into the earliest languages of Italy may verify the assertion. 

As regards the web of the spider, there is a pretty German fancy that when 
the Virgin Mary ascended to heaven, her veil, falling off, was carried about and 
torn to pieces by the winds. Therefore the silvery spider-webs which are seen in 
summer floating in the air are called Mariengam^ or Mary's yarn, or that which is 

It is worth noting that in Scott's novel of Waverley^ Meg Merrilies while 
braiding differently coloured threads in a charm — which custom still exists in Italy 
— sings : — 

. " Twist ye, twine ye even so, 
Mingle threads of joy and woe ! 


And that this is almost exactly the same with a passage in the Tuscan 
incantation to the spider : — 



^* La tela che tu fai 
Fa la con buona fortuna 
£ con malissima fortuna ! *' 

The spider is, according to several learned authorities, often carried in 
Germany in a walnut-shell as an amulet, and then, after several years, it turns to a 
gem. The explanation of this is that, as the yolk of a very hard-boiled egg, if kept 
for several years, becomes almost like a stone, so the mass of substance from which 
a spider spins her web hardens to a semi-transparent ball. Here I may remark 
that wherever we find any such superstitious custom followed without an incanta- 
tion, we may be sure that it is imperfect, for in early times nothing was " locked," 
or made sure, without its charm. In Tuscany this spider spell exists in its ancient 
form, and I here give it literally in nuce — in a nut-shell : — 

*• Do you want a charm to bring good fortune or much money ? This is the way to make it — the more 
you believe in it the better your luck will be : Take a great spider. Si metU in una nuoce — ^you put it into 
a walnut-shell ; and, if you can get it, let this be a walnut-shell of three pieces — una nuoce a tre canti — and 
put with the spider, comiguo — cummin — frankincense, and salt, and a little bit of a red (woollen) garment, and 
a bit of iron magnet. Then close the shell, glue it up, and say : — 

** * Non porta nuoce, 

Ma porto la fortuna, 
Che non mi abbandone mai \ ' " 

(** * I do not bear the nut, 

But I carry the good luck, 
That it never may leave me T **) 

This is an extremely curious and ancient formula of declaring that whatever one 
does is not to stop at a certain point By means of it almost any action is turned into 
magic Thus to find and pick up anything^ at once converts it into a fetish, or 
insures that all will go well with it if we say when taking it : "I do not pick up " 
— naming the object — " I pick up good luck, which may never abandon me I " It 
is an incantation of universal application, enabling one to secure a wish out of 
every chance occurrence. 

The spider is also used in divination. I find the following in a popular chap- 
book : — 

*< II Ragno Industrioso. In the Book of Dreams^ and in the works of the famous cabalists Rutilio 
Benicosa, Casamia, Tlndovino, II Palmaverde, Nostradamus, and the ancient Sybils or Haruspices, we often 
find methods of divining the secret of getting numbers by the lottery. Among the many extraordinary 
experiments made, the most singular is that by means of the spider. 

"Take one of these insects — let it be veiy large — and put it, without hurting it, in a little box, on the 
bottom of which are many smaH pieces of paper, numbered front one to ninety. Cover it with a transparent, 
veil, and give the spider time to weave a web. 


" Naturally the insect in going here and there will turn up certain numl^ers. These must be noted. Do 
this three times, and then let the spider go. Many have won lucky numbers in the lottery by means of this 

It may be observed that it is necessary to the success of this sortilege that 
we let the spider go. So in several of the charms of Marcellus, the animal uised 
in such spells must be dismissed in safety — Ecce dimitto te vivam ! 

The spider, it may be observed, can also be used for other divination as well 
as for lucky numbers in the lottery. Thus, if you write " Yes " or " No," she will 
turn up for you an affirmative or negative for any question, or select the names of 
friends or enemies, or pick out lucky days. 

But there is an appalling and revolting side to the character of the spider. 
All the spinners whom we see are females. The male is a little insignificant 
creature, in no proportion as regards size or strength to his mate, who, indeed, 
very often devours him as if he were a midget But he is impelled by an 
irresistible impulse to couple with her, and, when she consents, and the liaison is 
accomplished, he is eaten whole for dessert. Sometimes the Arachne eats a 
number of suitors before yielding ; so that every web is really a Tour de Nesle, 
There is a class of women in Paris — not unknown elsewhere — of any one of whom 
one may hear it said, in tribute to her irresistible sorcery of charms, "EUe a mangle 
sept hommes " — />., ruined seven spendthrifts. Of whom the type is the spider. 

Therefore the spider is revolting. She is poisonous, crafty, remorseless, a 
cannibal of her kind, and always horribly — morally — ugly. There is a very deep 
significance in the fact, which I speak of in anothei chapter, that there is some 
higher law than mere chance, or our own associations, in this making poisonous, 
repulsive, and discordant things show their nature by certain signs, or why sounds 
agree with the forms from which they came, and that there is something strangely 
human in the expression of not only flowers, but of innumerable phenomena. 
From which it may justly be inferred that there are in all objects certain phases 
of sensation, feeling, emotion, or a kind of thought, of which we have as yet 
no real conception. There are spirits in all things — but how we know not. 

The Spell of the Green Lizard. 

** An old lizard said to me, * Nothing in this world ever goes backwards. All pushes ever onward — 
stones become plants, plants become animals, animals become human beings, and human beings gods.' 
*' ' And what becomes of the old gods ? * 
*• • 'Twill all be arranged,' quoth the lizard. "—Heine's Pictures of Travel, 

Among his prescriptions for disorders of the eyes, Marcellus gives one to the 



effect that we should take a green h'zard, blind it with a copper needle, and put it 
into a glass vase, with rings of gold or silver, iron, amber, or even copper — aut 
etiam cupreis — then plaster it up — deinde vas gypsabis. Open it on the fifth or 
seventh day, and you will find the lizard — sa?ns luminibus — with his eyes well 
again. Then you let him go away, but keep the rings and wear them, and touch 
the eyes with them ; but especially you must look sometimes through the hole or 
circle of the ring,^ 

When an old woman in Florence was asked if she knew this spell, she said 
" Yes," adding that it was, however imperfect, because the inca^itation was wanting. 
This she supplied in these words : — 

'* Quando la lucertola si leva del vaso e si manda via, si dice : — 


** ' Lucertola, va via ! 

£ il veleno portate lo via, 

Ma indietro non ti rivoltare, 

Che il mal d'occhi non mi debba ritornare." 

In English : — 

** * When the lizard runs, say : — 

** * Lizard, run away ! 

Carry the poison (disease) away, 

And till thou comest again, 

May the trouble of my eyes never return ! * " 


There is very good reason to believe that this 3pell is old Roman-Etruscan. 
Firstly, there are other incantations in Marcellus, in which some animal is 
caught and made to bear a disorder, and then dismissed with an injunction. But, 
secondly, MARCELLUS gives another medical charm for liver complaint : — 

*' Take a green lizard — tt de acuta parte canna jccur ei tollc — and put him in a red woollen or naturally 
black bag, and hang it on the part afflicted ; then let the lizard go ; but say to him : * Ecce ditnitto te vivaniy 
vide ut ego quemcunque kinc tetigero epar non doleat / ' (* Behold, I send thee away alive ; see that I, 
whenever I touch this, may be free from pain in the liver.') " 

All things considered, this is quite enough to form almost an identity with 
the Italian charm. 

It is certain that by rings Marcellus here means also beads. What renders 

' Mr. Neville told me the Cingalese kill a lizard over a slow lire, and the froth that runs from its eyes is 
^ cure for sore eyes* — Note by Mary A. O^EN, 




this certain is, that he says some may be of amber. Now it is very remarkable 
that to this day, all over the world, amber beads are carried by people for weak 
Qy^s^ and it is essential that they should be looked through^ to strengthen the sight. 
I have a string of fifty-two amber beads, at least one hundred and fifty years old. 
There were twice as many, but the rest were given away, one by one, to people 
in Pennsylvania, suffering from their eyes. The old Etruscan spell of the lizard 
has been forgotten, save in Tuscany ; but the belief in the amber bead survives. 

The connection of amber with the eyes is very ancient. It was supposed to 
be wept by the sun — ie,y it came from the eyes of the Eye of the Universe. A 
later myth makes it come from the tears of the Heliades, who so regretted their 
brother Phaeton. Moore refers to this in his poem, " Farewell to thee, Araby's 

Lizards are sometimes found with two tails, as is mentioned in Maryatt's 
Pas/ia with tnany Tales, I find the following in my manuscript collection of 
Tuscan Folk-lore : — 

'* If one can have a lizard with two tails, and will always carry it, it will be very fortunate — porta una 
imnufisa fortutia. It is sure that if he plays he can never lose ; ntai altro — quite the contrary, he will always 
win, and be lucky in all things." 

Marcellus gives another prescription relating to the lizard, as follows 
(cap. 29) : — 

'* Lacertum viridem, quern, Grseci qal^ov vocant, capies per ejus oculos acum cupream cum licio quam 
longo volueris trajicies, perforatisque oculis eum ibidem loci ubi ceperas dimittes, ac tum filum praecantabis 
dicens : — 

** * Trebio, potnia, telapho.* 

" Hoc, ter dicens filum munditer recondes, cumque dolor colici alicujus urgebit, prsecingcs eum totum 
super umbilicum et ter dicas carmen supra scriptum." 

In this the eyes of the lizard are blinded, as before, with a copper needle and 
thread, then the lizard is dismissed and the thread is enchanted with three magic 
words. The thread is then bound about the patient suffering from colic What 
the three words mean I do not know* But the manifest conclusion is that the 
spell is of old Etruscan origin, and the modem Tuscan charm is, on the whole, 
identical with it. 

Marcellus (cap. 23, p. 166) gives another charm with a green lizard : — 

" Lacerta viridis viva in ostio splenitei ante cubiculum ejus suspenditur, ita ut procedens et rediens earn 
semper manu sinistra et capite contingat, quo facto mire ad sanitatem proficiet." 



That is, the lizard must be hung up alive in the door before the bed of the 
sufferer from the spleen, so that he may touch it while going out or in. " Which 
being done, wonderfully conduces to health." 

The same thing is done at present in Tuscany, but I was told that the chief 
condition is here wanting. It must be a lizard with two tails. 

The reason why the lizard is connected with the sight and light is to be found 
in ancient symbolism. For it was believed that when the lizard became old and 
blind it went into the sunlight and recovered its sight. And as an old book on 
animals deduces, " Therefore man, who is blinded by sin, should turn to Christ who 
is the true Sun." For which reason Raphael painted a lizard with the Virgin in 
the celebrated Madonna delta lucertola (KUGLER, Handbticfi der Geschichte der 
Malerei^ 1837, vol. i., p. 248). It was also a type of divination as well as of light, 
whence it was a symbol of Apollo, the god of light Galeotes (lizard), the Sicilian 
soothsayer, was begotten by Apollo on Themisto {Oefiurreui), or Prophecy 
(iELlAN, xii., 46 ; also CiCERO, Be divinat, i., 30). Hence the connection with 
amber, " the tears of the sun," and its use as a cure for the eyes. 

It was because the lizard was anciently a symbol of heat and light that the 
salamander, which is a yellowish brown lizard, was supposed to live in fire. This 
was not, however, a common salamander, such as Heine, when a boy, once burned, 
but a very different and spiritual kind of creature, of the same form, which dwelt 
habitually in the flame, and such as was seen once by Benevenuto Cellini, who tells 
us that on the occasion his father gave him very solemnly a good whipping to 
make him remember it. Of which, as I have remarked in my translation of 
Heine's Germany,^ the same flagellation to prevent him from lying would not 
have been misapplied. 

As the lizard is such a bright, uncanny, lively, odd, and wild little creature, 
flitting like a green gold-spotted ray of light over grey rocks, as if endowed with 
strange intelligence, it is not remarkable that many have seen in it an elf which 
sometimes takes human form. Which came unto me in a waking dream as 
follows, as I watched them to-day in the garden at Via Reggio : — 

" As I rode by the night o*er the brown heath bare, 
In the bright moonlight stood a castle fair; 
Lords and ladies, great and small, 
Were crowding in to a festival, 
Grass in the wind a-waving. 

' Vide Germany^ by Heinrich Heine, translated, with notes, by Charles G. Leland. London : Wf 
lieinemann. 1872. 


They bad« me enter, and in I went, 
1 dnink good wine to my heart's content, 
I laughed and danced with ladies fair. 
Ne'er in my life had I such cheer ; 
Grua in the wind a-waving. 

When all at once 1 heard a cryr . 
ttara by yarol Asleep fell !, 
While the lady dancing by my side 
Seemed like a lizard away to glide ; 
Grass in the wind a-waving. 

I woke in the early morning still. 
In an old grey min on a hill. 
Over the rock and in (he sun, 
I saw a golden lizard run I 
And grass in the wind a-waving ! " 

Birds and Treasures. 

" No one knows better thin a bird of the air 
Where (rcnsures are concealed." 

Aristophanes, The Birds. 

15 an ancient belief in many countries 
it the birds knew all things, and, as 
'ID says, announce the will of the gods, 
:ause they are near them ; that is, they 
to heaven, or as Seneca expresses it, 
iirds are inspired by the divinities." 
id it was especially an old Etrusco- 
.tin, as well as a Greek conviction, that 
ly knew where treasure was concealed, 
lus Aristophanes in T/te Birds says, 
it — " When a man asks birds where 
^ious metals are hidden, they always 
licate the richest mines." 

In relation to this 1 have, from 
Rocca Casciano, the following, which 
ippears to be very old : — 

" When one would lind a irensute, he must take 

*; Ihe door of the house in which he dwells, and carry it 

forth into the fields by night, till he come under a tree. 

"Then he must wait till many birds fly over him, 

and when Ihey come he must throw down Ihe dooi, 

making a great noise. Then the birds in fear will 

speak with a human voice — lolla una vact diroHna dme t imsceslt — and tell where a treasure is buried." 


So far as the birds arc concerned this treasure-hunting iis Etruscan and Greek. 
The mysteriouB connection of the door with finding treasures appears in other 
countries. Thus in Grimm's Stories^ Stupid Catherine carries away the door from 
her house, and by means of it — that is to say, by throwing it down arid thereby 
making a terrible noise — frightens away a band of thieves, who leave behind them 
their treasure. The same story is common in Italy, where it is told with very 
coarse incidents of a stupid youth. 

The reader, will find by careful study and comparison of the whole which 
I have given in this book, that these Romagnola traditions have a very archaic 
stamp, and do not seem to have borrowed from other sources, but, in perhaps all 
cases, to Have been original. I have been very much astonished, indeed, to find 
how extremely ignorant my living authorities were of the traditions, popular 
mythology, and folk-lore of Southern Italy, as given in the collections of Pitr6, 
There is no parallel case in Europe of people, speaking almost the same language 
and belonging to the same race, who have so little tradition in common as Tuscans 
and Neapolitans, or Sicilians. 

There is in the folk-lore of La Romagna, as in the language of the people, 
something which is harsh, simple, and Northern — not exactly German or Scandi- 
navian — ^but with traces, as it were, of some strange primeval race, like them and 
yet not the same. It may owe something to the Lombard, and possibly to the 
Celt, but, after all, these traditions and sorceries are neither Lombardic nor Celtic. 
What they seem to be by every analogy is Etruscan, allied to Sabine. 

This finding a treasure by means of birds agrees wonderfully with the very 
ancient Latin legend of the seer Atta Navius, who, when a child in his Sabine 
home, kept swine. Once, while he slept, some of his herd wandered away, and on 
awaking he could not find them. At first he wept bitterly, being afraid of his 
father's anger, but, plucking up heart, he went to the chapel of the Lares, in the 
next vineyard, and prayed the guardian spirits that he might find his pigs, pro- 
mising them if he did so, to offer them the largest bunch of grapes in the place. 
He found th.e pigs, but how was he to find the largest bunch of grapes ? He 
watched for a flock of birds, and they led him to it. Then his father, knowing this, 
took him to town, and put him to school to the masters of divination and other 
learning. If, we substitute for the largest bunch of grapes, a treasure, we have 
here the spirit or essence of the Tuscan tradition. Divination not only by the 
flight, but by the voices of birds, formed one of the most important elements of the 
old Etruscan soothsaying — the augurium ex avium volatu vel garritu being the 
second of the five principal classes. 

The bird who specially indicates treasures by night jn old Latin lore is the 


Piats Mariius, or great woodpecker. " He always appears," says Preller (Myth,^ 
p. 298), " as a wood-bird and digger in forests, where he lives alone and digs and 
hews and knows all hidden secrets and treasures." His Umbrian name was petqu, 
at present in Romagnola it is piga. His connection with the door appears to be 
this : iELlAN (Hist, of An., i., 45) and Pliny {Hist. Nat., x., 20) mention that if 
the hole or door of the woodpecker's nest in a tree be closed, the bird will bring an 
herb, which at once removes the impediment If this herb be secured it will open 
any door. But I offer this only as a mere conjecture. In any case the mere 
coincidence is worth noting. 

As in very early times, therefore, the red-headed woodpecker was regarded as 
a goblin, or a god, named Picus, who knew where treasures were hidden, and 
sometimes revealed them. It is probable that from this myth were derived the 
elves with red caps, who had the same attributes. 

And if Picus was the origin of the red-cap goblin who is found all over 
Europe, and even among, the Eastern Algonkin Indians of America (as Mikum- 
wess), I also conjecture that research will yet show either that all the Teutonic or 
Northern polytheism or fairy mythology is cither derived from an early Latin 
source, or else has common origin with it. But as the Latins and Etruscans had 
attained great culture while the Northern races were in a very barbarous state, 
I prefer the former theory. It is indeed beginning to be admitted that the 
Scandinavian mythology, far from being autochthonic, exhibits throughout traces 
of Latin influence. 

The Spell of the Falling Star. 

** Such meteors, or falling stars, which men of yore could not explain, were held to be divine omens, or 
intimations of the desires of the gods, and according to Homer that one signified to the other that there 
should be war or peace."— Friedrich ('• Meteore "), Symholik der Naiur, p. 100. 


All over the world people say in joke or earnest that if, when we see a meteor, 
or " a falling star," dart across the sky, and can utter a wish before it disappears, 
that wish will be granted. Among the old Norsemen such a line of headlong fire 
in the heaven was believed to be caused by a dragon flashing along afar, hence the 
frequent mention of the appearance of such beings. In the Medicine of Mar- 
CELLUS the sight of such a heavenly body is applied to working a celestial cure 
for lippitude, or blear eyes, as follows : — 

. *' Ut omnino non lippias, cum stellam cadere vel transcurre videris, numera, et celeriter numera, donee 
se condat, tot enim annis, quot numerabis, non lippies," 


("That your sight may never be dim, when you see a star fall or fly across the sky, count, and count 
quickly, ere it disappears, and so many numbers as you count, so many years will you be clear-sighted.") 

In Tuscany, when you see a star fall — quando si vede una stella chi cadde — 
one should say : — 

*' Non casca la stella 
Ma casca I'amante mio 
Che venga o di giorno, 
O di notte, 

al punto di mezza notte, 

A battere alle porte di casa mia 
Che non possa vivere, , 

Non possa stare, 
Finche alia porta di casa mia 
Non viene appichiare 

C It is not the star which falls 
But my lover : may he fall 
Till he come by day or night, 
Or at midnight, 
To beat at my door. 
Nor may he live nor stand. 
Till he knocks at my door ! ") 

Or else this for an enemy : — 

" Non casca la stella. 
Ma casca la maledizione 
Che di giorno e di notte 
Non faccio altro che maledire 
La maledizione che casca 
In nome di . . .'* 

('* Tis not the star which falls. 
But my curse. 
That by night, or day, 

1 do naught save curse, 
That the curse may fall 

On . . .") (Here the enemy is named.) 

The conception that as a star falls from the sky, so may your enemy go 
downward headlong with your curse pursuing him, is brilliant, original, vindictive, 
and replete with " pure cussedness." I have no doubt that to a true believer and 
a "good hater" it must be an immense relief. It is suggestive of Lucifer, the 
Star of the Morning, plunging headlong to hell from the height of heaven, while 
an Arab sees in it a daring djinn who has attempted to scale the walls of 
paradise and been repulsed by the angels. 




The Spell of the Acorns. 

" *Men of yore devoured one another,* says Diodonis Siculus, 'but Jupiter forbade this, giving them 
instead acorns.' Hence these are called the daughters of the Oak, since they so resemble female heads with 
the hair bound in ancient fashion." — Preller. 

There is given by Marcellus (Grimm, p. 16; M.^ c. 15, p. iii) a curious 
forward and backward song and ceremony to cure soreness of the tonsils. It is 
as follows: — 

"Glandulas mane carminabis, si dies minuet ur, si nox, ad vesperam, et digito medicinali, ac pollice 
continens eas, dices : — 

" Novem glandulae sorores, 
Octo glandulse sorores, 
Septem glandulse sorores, 
Sex glanduUe sorores, 
Quinque glanduls sorores, 
Quattuor glandulae sorores, 
Tres glandulse sorores, 
Duae glandulae sorores, 
Una glandula soror. 

Novem fiunt glandulae, 
Octo fiunt glandulae, 
Septem Aunt glandulae, 
Sex fiunt glandulae, 
Quinque fiunt glandulae, 
Quattuor fiunt glandulae, 
Tres fiunt glandulae, 
Duae fiunt glandulae, 
Una fit glandula. 
Nulla fit glandula.'* 

This is preceded by another charm, to which reference is made. The whole 
came to this, that the patient is to take nine acorns, either just before sunrise or 
sunset, and holding them (I think he here means counting them, one by one) with 
the middle finger and thumb, say : — 

" Nine little acorn sisters (or girls), 
Eight little acorn sisters, 
Seven little acorn sisters,*' 

and so on, diminishing to 

" One litUe acorn girl." 

Then begin with " Nine little acorn sisters," and count back till you come to 
" Nulla fit glandula " — *^ And then there was no little acorn girl." I am sure that 





in its original form this was Ten little acorn girls, following the fingers. There 
is in America and England a child's " counting-out " song for a game which runs 
from ten little Indian boys to one, and then backwards. 

This incantation is still used in Tuscany, though I could not learn that it is 
specially applied to the cure of the tonsils. But it was not limited even in the 
time of Marcellus to these. He himself gives (19, 20, Grimm, p. 13) two other 
charms in which nine grains of barley are counted in nearly the same manner. 
And also a word (21, Ibid) to stop the flow of blood : — 


Si cycuma, cucuma, ucuma, 
Cuma, ma, a. 

Which is like another English nursery song : — 

*' Constantinople! stantinople, tinople, nople, ople, pull! 
Pull, ople, nople, tinople, stantinople, Constantinople." 

In which we have the counting or addition and subtraction in a different form. 
The spell or child's game as used in Tuscany is, however, applied to good luck, 
and runs as follows : Taking ten acorns, the actor sings : — 

Or in English : — 

*' Tu lo sai la voglio fare, 
Per rindietro io voglio mandare, 
La verita in mia mano la deve dare, 
Queste diande per Tindietro io contero 
Fino al uno io tornero. 
£ se mai non sbagliero, 
La vittoria io la vincero. 
Adesso io incomincio 
Da uno, due, tre quattro. 
Cinque, sei, sette otto, nove e died 
Died, nove otto, sette, 
Sei, dnque, quattro, tre 
Due — ^uno ! 
Senza max sbagliare, 
La vittoria io la devo fare, 
E mai nel contare io sbagliero 
La vittoria io vincero." 

*' You know what I want to do. 
I will work it back for you, 
The truth shall be at my command. 
I will count these acorns in my hand ; 
There shall no error be. 


Thus 1*11 gain a victory, 

And so I now begin, you see : 

From one, two, three, four, 

Five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. 

Ten, nine, eight, seven, 

Six, five, four, three, 

Two — one. 

So without the least mistake 

Now the victory I take. 

I have counted well and true, 

To me the victory is due ! '* 

I was at first disposed to regard this as a mere counting forwards and back- 
wards, or counting-out rhyme, as it is used, not having read it carefully. But 
on discovering that the word diande^ which I did not know, was the Romagnola 
for ghiandey or acorns, I saw it was essentially the same with the incantation of 
Marcellus. I then learned that acorns were actually used in the count. 

* The idea which runs through the spells of Marcellus is that the success of the 
cure depends on the counter not making a mistake, and, in the modern Tuscan 
version, that if one undertakes anything, or wishes to know if he will succeed, he 
is to infer the result in like manner. It is very evident that, as the same principle 
was applied in different ways, there must have also been some Hauptpunkt^ or 
head-central invocation by counting, to divine luck in general, and I hazard the 
conjecture that we have this transferred to us in the modern Italian spell. That 
is to say, that there was an Etruscan chief spell to divine whether good fortune 
would result from an undertaking — which spell was modified to apply to certain 
disorders, &a And as divination as to the success of undertakings was the 
very beginning and formed the bulk of all Etrusco- Roman augury and rites, it 
would be very remarkable if this Italian spell should be the chief one, or nucleus 
of the rest. This is only conjecture, but I entertain no doubt that it is in any 
case as old as the time of Marcellus, and therefore in all probability Roman- 

According to Johannes Meursius {De Ludis Grcecorutn)^ there was among 
the Greeks a game with acorns called Tropa, The description of it is not given. 
But I conjecture that it was the same as that of the Italian which is at once a spell 
for good luck and also a child's counting-out game — the object being, as in " Peter 
Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers," to repeat a difficult formula rapidly with- 
out an error. 

There is yet another species of divination relating to this nut. Take as many 
acorns as there are letters in any person's name, plant them, and if they all come 
up or grow well, he or she will prosper, or you will win his love. 


The reader who is interested in counting-out rhymes will find much on the 
subject in the work of Carrington Bolton ; also in another recently published by 
D. Nutt, London, and in the English-Folk-Rhymes^ by G. F. Northall (London : 
Kegan Paul, Trench, Triibner, and Co.). A vast amount of ancient erudition on 
the subject of divining by numbers and similar matters, may be found in a very 
rare work, of which I possess a copy, entitled, Tractatus Philologictis de Sortitione 
Veterum^ Hebrceorum inprimis ex S, Scriptura Talmude^ &c., by MARTIN MAURI- 
TIUS. Basle, 1692. It does not seem to have been observed that the Sortes 
Virgilianae were in the nature of, or allied to, counting-out rhymes. Mauritius 
quotes from the work of Rabbi Ben Ezra a curious tale of how the lives of certain 
men doomed to be cast into the sea were lost, and those of certain Talmidim 
saved by judiciously managing a counting-out song. There is a curious and 
rude old German version of this. The chapter is in connection with the one De 
Sortibus poetids. Only counting out by numbers is described, but the counting 
by poetical lines is evident from the context. And it is evident that such counting 
out to save lives would be regarded as cabalistic or magical. 

The Spell of the Swallow. 

'* O rondinella bella, fcu sei un' incantrice." 

Canzoni Popolari ctAgrtwii, 

Marcellus of Bordeaux, in treating of disorders of the eyes, informs us that 
by the aid of the hirundoy or swallow, all such trouble may be effectually averted — 
as follows : — 

" Cum primum hirundinem audieris vel videris tacitus illico ad fontem decurres vel ad puteum, et inde 
aqua oculos fovebis et rogabis deum, et eo anno non lippias, doloremque omnem oculorum tuorum hirandines 

Or in English : — 

" When you hear or see the first swallow, go, without speaking, to the Brst well or fountain and there wash 
your eyes and pray God that that year they may not be dimmed, and so the swallows will carry away all trouble 
from them." 


In Tuscany at the present day the sufferer does the same for sore eyes, and 
then repeats the following : — 

*' La prima rondineUa di primaver* e arrivata 
La buona' fortuna mi ha portata 
Ad una fonte sono andata 
£ gli occhi mi sono lavata, 


Che da tanto tempo ero aniallata, 
£ nessun medico mi e riuscito, 
Ma la prima rondinella che e arrivata 
Questa grazia me I'ha fatta 
Benedette siano sempre le belle, 
Le beate rondinelle ! 

(** The first spring swallow I have seen, 
A lucky thing it was, I ween. 
I ran to where the fountain flies, 
And in its water washed my eyes, 
AMiich were so long my pain and grief, 
Yet no physician brought relief; 
Yet the Brst swallow which I see 
Has caused a happy cure to me. 
Blest may the swallows ever l^e ! " 

It may be observed that this incantation contains all that is in the Roman 
prescription, and, what is more, supplies the spoken spell which is wanting in it, 
Et rogabis Deum—'* And pray God " — is certainly an early Christian interpolation. 
In the Italian the swallow itself is invoked and thanked, which is in perfect keeping 
with the very ancient hymns, Greek and Latin, in which it is mentioned. 

Marcellus also teaches us again that though " the first swallow does not make 
a summer" it rules the spring, whether it be of weather or water, and may 
thereby prevent toothache. For when you see it — as before — hold your tongue 
and " ad aquam nitidam accedes " — go to pure shining water, and dip your middle 
finger of the right hand in it and say : — 

" Hirundo tibi dico 
Quomodo hoc in rostro iterum non erit 
Sic mihi dentes non doleant toto anno." 

("I say to thee, O swallow, 

As this will never be in thy beak, 

So may my teeth pain me no more for a year.") 

" And by renewing this annually you may always have sound teeth." All of 
which is essentially identical with the modern Tuscan spell. 

It is believed in Tuscany that if swallows make nests in a house it brings good 
fortune. Maguai a distruggerle^-perche portarebbe nwlte disgrazie — but beware of 
disturbing them, for it brings many troubles. 

Marcellus gives another prescription for the eyes, as follows (p. ii, 

Grimm) : — 


" Si muleris saliva, quse pueros, non puellas ediderit, et abstinuerit se pridie viro et cibis acrioribus, et 
imprimis si pura et nitida erit, angulos oculorum tetigeris, omnem acritudinem lippitudinis lenies, humoremque 

Which IS, that if your eyes pain you, you must take the saliva of a woman who 
has given birth only to boys, not girls. And she must have abstained from sexual 
union and stimulating food for three days. Then if her saliva be bright and clear 
anoint your eyes with it and they will be cured. 

In Italian the cure is as follows : — 

"If a woman has given birth to a child of seven months, take her saliva and milk mixed and anoint the 
eyes with them, saying : — 

*' * Bagno gli occhi 
A questa donna, 
Non ne lo bagno 
Col mio sputo, 
Ma lo bagno 
Coll* innocenza 
£ la purita, 
Del mio bambino.* 

(*' * I bathe my eyes 
From this woman 
Not with my saliva, 
But I bathe them 
With innocence, 
And the purity 
Of my child.') 

" Then make a sign of the cross on the eyes, and say : — 

** * Bendetta che tu sia ! 
Per I'innocenza 
Del mio bambino. 
In tre giorni, 
Possa guarire ! ' 

(* " Blest 1^ thou ! 
By the innocence 
Of my child, 
In three days 
May I recover ! *) 

" Then spit thrice behind you. And this must be repeated three mornings fasting." 

There is indeed some confusion in this, as I have given it. But it is clearly 
on the whole identical with the spell of Marcellus. In another prescription, 
(67, Grimm) Marcellus declares that " Mulier quae geminos peperit, renes 


dolentes super calcet, continuo sanabit," if a woman who has borne twins will step 
on the reins when they pain it will cure them. " Also very obscurely in what 
seems to be a detached fragment to cure the gout " — Dices illms quem peperit ilia, 

*' Venenum veneno vincitur 
Salva jejuna vinci non potest. 

** You must say of that which she has brought forth : — 

iC c 

Poison is conquered by poison, 
Fasting spittle cannot be conquered.* 

'* Say this thrice and spit every time on your soles (footprints) or of him who is to be cured." 

Taking them altogether we may say the Roman and modern spells corre- 
spond very generally if not exactly in every detail. 

There is also another Tuscan spell for sore eyes, which is as follows : — 

'* Take elder (tanbticoy i.e., samhuco) and boil it, apd with it bathe the eyes, making thrice the sign of the 
cross, and say : — 

*' ' Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia, 
II mal degli occhi 
Gli vada via ! ' 

('* * Santa Lucia, to you I pray, 
May the pain in my eyes 
Be driven away ! ') 

** But this must be done by a man or woman who is a seven-months' child." 

All of these cures for the eyes refer in some way to a woman who has given 
birth to only boys or to a seven-months* child. There is yet another Tuscan remedy 
allied to these. To cure a pain in the ear go to a woman who is nursing a seven- 
months' child, and while the child sucks thrice, one should put three drops of her 
milk into the ear of the sufferer, and say: — 

** Le butto questo latte 
Perche il male del orecchia 
La possa passare ! " 

To return to the swallow in Tuscany, the feathers of this bird are an amulet 
as follows : — 

Quando si vuole una grazia o una fortuna^ sono portati^ legati con un nastro 
rosso — when one desires some favouring fortune they are bound up with a red 
ribbon and carried. And for this purpose they are also put into beds. There is 


a Roman ballad (Agrumi, Ital. pop. songs) in which the swallow is addressed as 
an enchantress. 

" O rondinella bella 
T« sei un' incantrice ! " 

The swallow is believed to be good for troubles of the eyes (as was the lizard), 
because it is, like it, an emblem of light, or sight As it was the herald of spring 
and of sunshine it was naturally associated with clear vision. So through all 
nature ran the golden chain connecting all things in poetic vein. 

Minor Cures from Marcellus. 

( With t/teir modem parallels.) 

Marcellus informs us (cap. i, p. 35, Grimm, p. 10) as follows, regarding 
headache : — 

" Cum intrabis urbem quam libet, ante portam capillos qui in'via jacebunt quot volueris collige, dicens : 
tecum ipse ad capitis dolorem te remedium toUere, et ex his unum capiti alligato, ceteros post tcigum jacta, 
nee retro respice." 

(" When you enter any city, collect before the gate as many hairs as you will of any which may lie in the 
road, saying to yourself that you do this to remove your headache, and bind one of the hairs to your head. 
Throw the others away behind you and do not look l>ack.") 

On inquiry I was assured that this was known to-day in Tuscany, but I did 
not find any special variation from it except that salt should be thrown with the 
hair. And I incline to think that this was included in the ancient charm, but was 
not known to MARCELLUS. Salt was an essential part of all ancient offerings and 
sacrifices (Mark ix. 49). It was considered as binding and perfecting them. 

Very much allied to this is the following, which is still in use : — 

'* Whenever hairs are found they should l)e thrown into the fire, the one who does this saying : — 

*' ' Se sei anima buona 
Va in pace ! 
Se sei una Strega, 
Scoppia, che tuoi colpi 
Si sentono da lontano, 
£ che U diavolo 
Si possa sentire 
Si possa scatenare 
Per venir* ti te appigliare ! ' 

C * If thou art a good soul 
Go in peace ! 
If thou art a witch 
May you burst ao that the sound 



May be heard afar ! 

May Ihe devil note it 

And burst loose, 

So as to come and catch you.' ") 

Of the use of human hair io spells to do harm I shall speak in another 

Marcellus gives us (cap. 8, 67) a cure for the eyes which is peculiarly 
nasty though none the less curious for that : — 

" Mel Atticum et stercus infantis, quod primum dimittit, statim ex lacte mulieris, quae puerum allactat, 
permiscebis, et sic inunges ; sed prius cum qui curandus est, erectum ad scalam alligabis, quia tanta vis medi- 
caminis est, ut cam nisi alligatus patienter ferre non possit, cujus beneficium tarn prxsens est, ut tertio die, 
abstersa omni macula, mirifice visum reddat incolumem." 

('* Take Attic honey and the first faeces of a babe, mix it with the mother's milk and anoint (the eyes), but 
first tie the patient to the stairs (or a ladder) which is of such medical power, that unless he l>e so bound he 
cannot endure it, the benefit of which will be that on the third day, all stain being wiped away, the sight will 
be perfect.**) 

The binding to the ladder or stair is found in the following Tuscan spell : — 

" If any one is bewitched, bind him, or his clothes (the latter are preferred) on a scala (stairs or ladder) 
^but it, or they, must be of wood ; then take a knife, and, while sharpening it, say : — 

'* * Non lego questa robba 
Ma lego la Strega 
Che non abbia pi\i bene ! * *' 

(" * I do not bind these things. 
But I bind the witch 
That she may no more have good luck ! ' **) 

We have here only the binding to the ladder, but a part of one prescription or 
charm is often found in another, in MARCELLUS, as well as in the modern charms. 
In all these cures the ceremony and the incantation form by far the most important 
part, or the sine qua non erit remedium, 

Marcellus (No. 30, cap. 14, p. 103) gives the following for the throat : — 

" Picem mollem ccrebro ejus impone, .qui uvam dolebit et prxcipue ut super limen stans superior! 
limiti ipsam picem capite suo adfigat." 

(** Put a piece of soft pitch on the head of him who suffers from a sore throat, and especially see that he 
does this when standing on the outer edge of the threshold.**) 

In Tuscany much taking of magical medicine is done on the threshold ; it 
also plays a part in other sorcery. This is because it is the line or limit between 
the place inhabited and the outer life where spirits freely roam, it being an under- 
stood law of demonology that they cannot enter a room until called on. There 
are evidently, however, numerous exceptions to the rule, else we should have 
no hauntings of houses. 


In chapter 19, page 130, MARCELLUS tells us that — 

'* Serpentis scnectus, id est exuviae licio alligatoe et vulso circumdatze mire prosunt." That is, that "a 
serpent's skin bound to the girdle is of great assistance." 

In the Romagna Toscana it is believed that if any one finds a serpent's skin 
he must say : — 

** Ho trovato la pelle 
Di questo serpente, 
Che possa portare 
La fortuna a me ; 
Non portero 
La pelle di serpente, 
Ma portero la buona fortuna, 
Che sia sempre in casa mia." 

(" I have found the skin 
Of this serpent ; 
May it bring 
Good luck to me I 
I will not carry 
The skin of the snake, 
But I will bear the good luck 
That it may ever be in my home ! ") 

Out of the immense amount of learning which has been collected on the 
subject of serpent symbolism one thing is undeniable — that this creature was, 
among the Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans, a type of health, longevity, and fortune. 
And it is in this sense that it appears, both in the work of MARCELLUS and in this 
Tuscan incantation, as a cure or amulet. I conjecture that there was of yore an 
incantation pronounced on finding the skin which was unknown to the Roman 
physician. For a careful examination of all these prescriptions or charms, in any 
form, cannot fail to convince any one that the words were always a sine qua non, 
and in fact the most important part of all. 

As a curious instance of serpent-lore still existing in the Romagna, I may 
mention that the picture of a snake is painted on the wall for good luck or to 
avert the malocchio, but it must always be with the head down and tail up. 

MARCELLUS gives the following : — 

" Si arista vel quoelibet sordicula oculum fuerit ingrcssa obcluso alio oculo ipsoque qui dolet patefacto et 
digitis medicinali ac pollice leviter pertracto, ter singula despuens dices : Os Gorgonis basio. Hoc item 
carmen si ter novies dicatur etiam de faucibus hominis vel jumenti os aut si quid aliud haeserit, potenter 

That is, that if a grain or mote be in one eye, close the other one, draw the 
middle finger over that which pains, and say, " / kiss the Gorgon* s face'* Which is 


repeated thrice, and the charm is so powerful that it will draw a bone from the 
throat of a man or of a mare. 
In Italian they say : — 

** If anything be in the eye or in the throat of roan or beast spit thrice and say : — 

** * O grande Serpente 
lo ti baccio il volto ! ' 

{•' * O great Serpent 
I kiss thy face .» ' ") 

To which my informant added, " But you must look on t/ie e^ound when you 
say this." 

On referring to Marcellus afterwards I found that to remove a small 
irritated spot from the eye (varu/i/s) you perform a ceremony which ends by touch- 
ing the ground thrice and spitting. Of course touching the ground implies looking 
at it. 

Marcellus gives as a cure for sore eyes : — 

" Qui crebo lippitudinis vitio laborabit, millefolium herbam radicis vellat, et ex ea circulum facit, ut 
per ilium aspiciat, ct dicat ter, * cxcicum acriosos^^ et toticns ad os sibi circulum ilium admovcat ct per medium 
exspuat," &c. , 

Which is to the effect that the patient shall pull up a plant of millefoil or 
yarrow, make a ring of it and spit thrice through this ring. And further that the 
herb shall be planted again, and should it grow, the patient will recover. 

In Tuscany there is for the same complaint a remedy which is perfectly in 
accordance with a portion of this. It is called La Corona della Ruta, or the Crown 
of Rue. 

" When one suffers with sore eyes take a branch — coccha — of rue and tie it round in a wreath, in forma di 
una corona^ with red riblx)n. The patient should l)e in bed and not see the garland made ; it must be always 
prepared by a woman in another room, and it must not be seen by children or even by any animal, and she 
who binds it must say : — 

** ' Preparo questa corona 

Per metterla sopra agli occhi 

Di quella ammalata, 

(O ammalato, che sia) 

Che degli occhi possa guarire 

E mal d'occhi non gli possa ritomare.' 

(" * I prepare this wreath, 
To place it on the eyes 
Of that sufferer, 
That his sight I may restore. 
And he may never sufifer more 1 ') 


" And when she gives it to ibe invalid he musl took Ihrough it thiee times, and say ; — 

" ' Sanla Lucia, Santa Lucii, Santa Lucia ! 
Del mal d'occhio fatemi ^ariie \ ' 

" Then he must spit through it three times." 

Which is, on the whole, very much the same as the old Roman-Etruscan 

Santa Lucia the modern Catholic saint of light, is probably the direct descen- 
dant of the Etruscan Losna, god- 
dess of the moon, also of the sun. 
( Vide Losna.) 

Our author recommends {cap. 
14, , p. 100; p. 14, Grimm) that for 
the toothache one should carry 
"salis granum, panis micam, car- 
bonen mortuum in phcenicio alli- 
gabis " (" A grain of salt, a crumb 
of bread, a dead coal tied in red 
cloth"). In Tuscany quite the same 
is made up, and borne as an amulet 
for health and good luck. 

MarcelluS also prescribes the 
use of earthworms — lumbrici, or the 
vermis terrenus — for local pains. In 
one of these he declares that the 
worms are to be put into a bucket 
or receptacle of wood — if possible, 
one hooped with iron — and water 
poured on them, which is to be 
drunk. In Tuscany this is the 
remedy : — losna. 

" Fo( one suffering headache uke earthworms, also a litre o( spirits, and say :— 

" ' Lombrici che per la lerra stiisciatc, 
Tutle Ic stregooeiie ie conoscete. 
Come pure conoscete 
Da me il buon piMe ; 
Vi prego il buon piide di raccatare 
E dentro alio spirito lo potrete lasciace ! ' 


(" * Earthworms who slip through earth below, 
Secrets of sorcery ye know, 
When the good foot tloth o'er you tread, 
Or when it passes overhead. 
Transfer its power and its merit, 
Now I pray you to this spirit, 
To do such virtue as it may, 
And let this headache pass away ! ' *') 

(The allusion to the good foot is to that of the sorcerers, or persons possessed 
of a peculiar power.) 

" Then in the evening, before the patient goes to bed, he must bathe his head with the spirit, and say : — 

" * Mi bagno il capo 

Collo spirito di lombrici a fare 

Perche il mal di capo mi possa passare ! ' 

'* And the next morning the pain will have quite disappeared." 

I nearly missed this, because my informant did not know the word lotnbrici, 
or earthworms, since in Romagnola they are called ronbricati. This very curious 
incantation explains what Marcellus does not — why earthworms are used. As 
chthonic creatures, or of darkness, they are supposed to be familiar with the 
secrets of the under-world. The allusion to this, and to the foot of the sorcerer 
renders it certain that this is an extremely ancient spell. 

Marcellus also gives as a cure for headache : — " Hemicranium statem 
curant vermes terreni pari numcro sinistra manu lecti, cum terra de limine eadcm 
manu triti " (" Earthworms — an equal number gathered with the left hand, 
powdered with earth from the threshold.") This also indicates that, as in the 
modern recipe, the same remedy was used for the same disorder. 

I have already alluded to an amulet given by the same writer, consisting of 
salt, bread, and a coal in a red bag, or cloth. In another (cap. 8, p. 63), he speaks 
of the special virtue of a cure made ol four ingredients, "quia ex quatuor rebus 
constat ut quadriga equis constat, et celeres effectus habet, banna dicitur." 
I suspect that his salt, &c., in a red bag is imperfect or wanting, because, when 
the following was given to me in Italian, something was said about the value 
o{ four articles in it. 

Le quattro cose della buona fortuna. 

**The four things of good fortune. Take a little red bag, and sew it with red woollen thread — not Mrith 
silk or cotton ; the bag, too, must be of woollen, and of coarse cloth, and while sewing it, sing : — 


*' ' Chuco questo sacchetino, 
Per la buona fortuna di me, 
E della mia famiglia, 
E che ci tenga sempre lontano 
Dalle disgrazie cx>ine pure 
Dalle malattie ! ' " 

*'Thcn take a crumb (midolia) of bread, and a little coarse salt, a sprig of rue, and some cummin, and 
keep repeating, while making it up, the same charm. And when made, the charm must always be borne on 
the same person, by night as well as by day." 

The translation of the incantation is as follows : — 

** This bag I sew for luck to me, 
And also for my family ; 
That it may keep by night or day, 
Troubles and illness far away ! " 

La Formicola. The Ant. 

Once when I read a certain prescription from MarcellUwS to a Strega, she 
admired it very much, declaring that she had never heard it before, or anything 
like it. It was the following : — 

*' Ad dolorem uvae scribes in charta, ct coUo laborantis in linteolo suspendes :— 

*' * Formica sanguen non habet nee fel, 
Fuge uva ne cancer te comedat ! * " 

(" For one suffering from sore throat write on paper the following, and stick it on the ceiling :— 

** * The ant has neither blood nor poison : 
Fly, O pain, lest the crab devour thee ! * ") 

" But," my informant added, " I know of a cure for which ants are used." It was as follows : — 

" When one spits blood, take ants and put them in some of the blood, and let it stand all night, and say 
over it : — 

** * Butto queste formicole 
Dentro a questo sangue ; 
Che questo sangue 
Possano ripigliare. 
£ a questo malatto 
La possano riportare, 
Che i suoi pulmoni 
Non si voglione guastare, 
E la ma malattia 
Avanti non possa pid andare.*'* 


(" ' I put these ants into this blood 

That his may be both well and good ! 
That he his health may soon regain, 
And his lungs be sound and sain ! 
May his trouble soon be o'er, 
And illness trouble him no more ! * *') 

Marcellus remarks that the ant is a bloodless animal, therefore it is used 
to stop bleeding according to a kind of rude and natf homoeopathy, which con- 
tinually occurs in magical medicine. As regards my very indifferent translations 
into rhyme of these recipes, I beg leave to inform the reader that though not 
very good poetry, they will answer every whit as well as the originals to cure 
disorders if he wishes to try them ; yea, and that for this purpose they are just 
as effective as if they had been made by Lord Tennvson himself. 


Marcellus recommends verbena as a magical cure for a tumour. An 
authority in stregoneria hearing this, said : " I do not think it is used in medicine — 
but," she added with animation, " it is admirable in scorcery, and for a charm." 
Then she gave me the following, laying stress on the fact that it must be carried 
on the person : — 

** Verbena is an herb which brings great good luck, and it must always be borne upon you. Especially 
note if an old woman wishes to sell you some, when she oflfers it you must never refuse, else she might curse 
you (f.^., bewitch you). You must always buy some, and say : — 

** * Non compro questa verbena perche e erba, 
Ma compro la fortuna che essa porta! 


('* ' I buy not this verbena as the herb which here I see, 

I buy it as the fortune which I trust 'twill prove to me I ' ") 

My witch was quite in the right when she declared that Verbena was 
admirable in magic and for a charm. Had she known and read Latin she might 
have supported her assertion with a great array of classical authorities. However, 
she doubtless had a great many more ancestors than I ever had who could talk 
Latin, and perhaps the tradition came down in the family ; since she says they 
were all stregoni, or wizards and witches — always ! 

The Verbena was called par Eminence the holy plant — kiera botane — by the 
Greeks, and it was regarded as holiest of all in sacrifices, where it was burned 
especially during invocations of spirits and predictions. It was the plant of 
Venus : it gave, as was believed, great power of procreation, and, above all others — 
as Friedrich writes-^drove away evil spirits, and destroyed witchcraft and all 


such influences. Ambassadors carried it as a symbol of peace. '^Semper e kgatis 
unus utique Verbenarius loquitur ^^ ("One of a band of legates was called the 
Verbena-bearer ") (Pliny, Nat. History, xxii., 3). 

** For there dwelleth in the Verbene a certaine fata, or faery, who bestoweth 
fortune on those invoking her." Think of this when you smell Verbena ! Also 
remember that if you take a bit of it from a church it will bring you good luck : 
" Ex ara hinc sume verbenas tibi atque eas substerne " {Terentms, Andr., iv., 4). 

Our author gives two remedies for kordeolis oculorum — " grains in the eyes " — 
for both of which he prescribes nine grains of barley to be treated in a magical 
manner — such as nipping off the points, one by one, and repeating a Greek 
incantation every time. In Tuscany I find the following for the same trouble, 
or " for the eyes " : — 

** Take nine grains of barley, and put them in a black pot with nine flowers of elder and nine bits of rue. 
Boil them for a quarter of an hour, then let it cool till it is tepid. Then dip into it a piece of linen and lay it 
on the eyes of the patient, and then take the nine grains of barley and the elder flower and the rue, and lay 
them all on the cloth, and say : — 

" * Tutto questo l*ho fotto bollire 
Per mettere sopra agli occhi 
Di quesEto malato che con la grazia 
Di Santa Lucia prima di tre giorni 
Possa guarire 1 * " 

It is worth observing that the modern method is seriously a good remedy 
(all except the nine grains of barley), while that of Marcellus is mere rubbish. 
For a very immoral bewitchment — " Si quem coire noles, fieri que cupies in usu 
venerio tardiorem — confestim enervabitur" — Marcellus prescribes nine grains 
of wheat. I should add that the English version of what may here be called the 
tin-pancation — as a black tin pan may be used — is as follows : — 

*' All of this I have had boiled 
To put upon the eyes. 
Of this poor man — Saint Lucy aid ! 
And on the third day, by thy aid, 
He will in health arise ! ' 

Santa Lucia is the saint of light, therefore of sight. The two were identified 
in ancient Roman mythology. 

There is a very great resemblance between the cat and the hare when skinned, 
also between their skins. This being admitted, with the addition that MARCELLUS 
gives several prescriptions in which cats, or the skins of animals, are employed, 
we may infer that the following is not without affinity to an Italian charm. 



*' Pellem leporis recentem in oUa munda vel tegula ita cum lana sua combures, ut in tenuisamom 
pulverem redigere possb, quern cribratum in vaso nitido servabis inde cum opus iiierit tria cochlearia in 
potione dabis bibenda, quae res sive calculos sin^ vessicae dolores continue compescit." 

Which is, that for the stone or pains in the bladder you should burn the fresh 
skin of a hare in a small pot or on a tile, so as to reduce it to the finest powder^ 
which, when pulverised, you must keep in a clear (glass) vase, and give the patient 
three spoonfuls in a drink: 

The Italian spell is to bewitch any one, or to do him harm : — 

" When you would do evil to any one, kill a black cat, skin it and rub the skin (by burning is, I suppose, 
understood) to a very, very fine powder {si trita Jine Jine), and when it is triturated finely to a powder, mix 
with it pulverised horse-scrapings and pepper and earth, over which a toad has passed. And while taking this 
earth from under the toad, say : — 

" ' O rospo, rospo, che ^ei composto 
Tutto di veleno, del tuo veleno 
Lasciane sparso un poco sopra, 
A questa terra che passo portarlo 
A casa mia. 

(" 'Toad, all poison from thy birth ! 
Shed thy poison on this earth! 
Give me of thy poison some, 
That I may bear it to my home.') 


Then put all together in a small bag, and at the time of mixing say : — 

" * Terra e polvere insieme 

Lo riunite, e polvere di gatto 

E la peggio, ma e la miglio, 

E per me perche mi deve vendicare, 

Polvere di pelle di gatto, 

Con polvere di cavallo, 

E pepe unito a terra di rospo, 

Terra awelenata e tutto 

Un immischia che molte persone 

Voglio rovinare che non abbiano 

Fid pace e ne bene, fino che 

A me non si vengano 

A racommandare, ed anche all'ora 

Le concedero grazia se mi pare.'" 

(*** Poisoned earth and powder fine 
To the powdered cat I join, 
t„ *Tis the worst, and yet the best 

For my vengeance — for the rest 


Cat skin powdered ; naught is worse ; 

With the scraping of a horse, 

Pepper next, to make it good. 

Earth well poisoned by a toad : 

'Tis a mixture which, when done, 

Will rack and ruin many a one. 

And they shall know no good or peace. 

Nor shall their sufferings ever cease, 

Until they humbly come to me 

And beg for mercy on their knees, 

Which I may grant — if I should please. ' ") 

Se mi pare / This was chanted crescendo^ and when the witch came to the 
last word her face was infernal — not violent, but serpent-like ; horrible, yet cold. 
Does this remind the reader ot a scene in Shakespeare's " Macbeth " ? Or 
is the incantation like his ? Not to me, for his was poetry written for the stage, 
and this was reality — the witchcraft of old, old times — the spirit of the sorceress 
who would kill, the life of necromancy which is death. 

I say truly that if I could write all that I have seen in exploring this Italian 
witchcraft, few indeed would believe me, and fewer still could understand it. 
For it all belongs to a world and a life of which no cultivated person, whom 
I ever met, has any comprehension, and for which he can certainly have no 
sympathy. When I reflect that Goethe and Heine and Byron, and I know 
not how many more poets and great word-artists have travelled over Italy 
grasping eagerly at every scrap of magic and passion and human romance, I 
wonder what they would have thought or written had they known what was 
living among these people, deep in their hearts. We may read history for 
ever, but we can never learn from it, or from literature — till we get the key to 
it — what a strange race was this old Etrusco-Roman ! 

Under the ashes of Italy there is burning a Are of which only now and then 
a spark is seen, but it has never been extinguished any more than that of Vesuvius. 
Imagine an English or German peasant woman bursting out into such spasms ot 
sorcery and poetry — I have known one in Italy, in reciting an incantation, to be 
seized with convulsions. And in all the people, low or high, there is a something 
which seems to be repressed — ^a genius as of stifled art, or magic power — a science 
which will yet be manifested when the time comes. 

There is a very remarkable prescription in Marcellus his book, for a hip 

It amounts to this : that the remedy must be given to the patient super scabellum 
vel sellam ita ut pede uno quern dolet stans ad orientem versus potionem bibat^ et cum 
biberit saltu desiliat^ et ter uno pede saliat^ et hoc per triduum faciaty confestim 


retnedio graUilabitur. That is — "Standing, on a little stool or chair, so that, one foot 
being forward, the patient facing the East drinks his medicine, and then jumps 
down, and hops three times on one foot, and so he will be well in three days* 
time." In another he prescribes a potion to be taken standing on one foot on the 
threshold. The chief elements of this gymnastic performance appear in the 
following Tuscan spell : — 

"When one takes medicine, one should stand on a stool {s^ad^iio)^ or on the threshold of a door, and 
utter : — 

** ' Prendo questa medicina 
Perche sono ammalato. 
Ma non sono ammalato 
~ Di fisico, ma da morale, 

Percio prendo questa medicina 

Sopra a questo sgabello 

Che mi possa guarire di questa 

Malattia, e mi voglia 

Dare felicita e bene, 

Percio scendo da questo sgabello, 

E su questo piede sinistro, 

Sempre dallo sinistro piede, 

Per tre volte mi rigiro, 

£ per tre volte io chiamo, 

II gran Salvatore e se ne 

Non mi corrisponde allora. 

Mi rivolgero alle strege, 

AUe strege o ai stregoni.'" 

(** * I this medicine am taking 
For a sad and serious illness, 
Yet the illness which I suffer 
Is of mind more than of body, 
And I therefore take my physic 
Standing on this stool and hoping 
It may soon relieve my troubles. 
Therefore from this stool descending, 
Now Tm on my left foot standing, 
Ever standing on my left foot, 
And three times I turn upon it. 
Three times calling the great Saviour, 
But if He should give no answer. 
Then I'll turn me to the witches, 
To the witches and the wizards.'") 

Which last lines indicate that devotion to the principle of having two strings 
to one's supernatural bow of faith which has enabled witchcraft to hold its own so 
well, that it is possible that the stregone may exist as long as the priest — which 

MINOR CURES Prom marcellUs. ^93 

will not be long, to judge by the spirit which is growing up among the people. 
Once the least allusion reflecting on the clergy, within my own memory, was 
promptly punished and without mercy. Now, as I write, the last great caricature 
at every street-comer represents the departure of the Pope for ever with a gang of 
disreputable-looking attendants. It is accompanied with bitterest satire, and ends 
with the words, " A good riddance to bad rubbish ! " Eppur si tnuove. I think 
that this incantation is essentially ancient, but very much modernised in form. 
The remedy is Roman, but it seems to be in a new bottle. 

It is said by MARCELLUS (cap. 28, p. 201) that " Corregia canina medius 
cingatur^ qui dolebit ventrem^ statimque retfudiabitur'* (" He who suflers from a pain 
in the stomach will be relieved should he girdle himself with a dog-leash") (that is, a 
strap of any kind). I rather wonder that Grimm should have regarded this as 
superstition since it is a well-known fact that a girdle — eg.^ a Russian belt — really 
gives great relief for such suffering. However, if it was to be done specially with a 
do^s-\edisYi^ and no other, it was undoubtedly superstitious ; and that this was the 
case may be inferred from the following Tuscan formula : — 

" Take 9ifuniceUa del cane — a rope which binds a dog — ^and say : — 

" ' Prenclo questa funicella, 
Che il mio cane l^[ava, 
Attorno alia mia vita, 
Me la voglio passare 
Che il mio male di ventre 
Al cane se ne possa andare, 
Ed a me mai non possa ritomare.'"- 

{***! take the rope which held my hound, 
Now round my life the cord is bound, 
May that which makes my agony 
Pass to the dog away from me, 
And I no more a sufferer be I ' ") 

This is quite after the style of several of Marcellus*S own prescriptions, in 
which he shows how a disorder can be transferred from a human being to an 
animal. As in the following (cap. 27, p. 190) : — 

'* Tormina patientibus muiti ventrem v)ventis anatis a^)onunt ad firmantes, .transire morbum ad anatem, 
eamque mori." 

(*' To those suffering from a colic Let them fasten a live duck to their stomachs, thus the disease will 
pass from the man to the duck, and the duck will die.") 

This is found in Tuscany with the invariable musical accompaniment of an 
incantation : — 


" When one suffers from a pain in the stomach take a duck, and the body of the bird must be placed 
against that of the invalid, and then say : — 

** ' Anatra ! Anatra ! 

Che il male mio tu possa 
Pigliare, e di questa male 
To ne possa guarire ; 
E tu di questa male 
Tu ne possa morire, 
Che a me questo male 
Non mi possa mai ritomare 
Fino che non tomi 
Tu a risudtare ! ' " 

*' * Duck, duck, so may it be, 

That thou shalt take this pain from me ! 

That the ill depart, and I 

Shall get well, while thou must die : 

And may I never feel the pain 

Till thou Shalt have thy life again ! * ") 

Which was bad for the duck. However, this went for very little with a 
physician, one of whose most vaunted cures was to put a patient in balneo repleta 
humano sanguine — in a bath full of human blood. Such a bath of the blood of 
young children was once ordered for the Emperor Constantine, and because he, 
being moved by the cries and tears of their mothers, resolved not to take it, his 
extraordinary humanity was rewarded by a miraculous cure. As related by the 
early chroniclers, this seems to have been regarded — even by Christians — as a great 
act of mercy and magnanimity. It does not seem to be at all understood that for 
several centuries after the decay of the Roman power the world relapsed as regards 
barbarism and inhumanity, instead of advancing with Christianity as is popularly 

Marcellus gives the following as means by which fidelity may be secured in 
a woman : — 

" Mulierum, quam tu habueris ut nunquam alius inire possit, fades hoc : lacertae viridis vivse sinistra 
manu caudem curtabis eamque vivum dimittes, caudem donee inmoriatur eadem palma clausam tenebis, et 
mulierem, verendaque ejus dum cum ea cois, tange." 

The Tuscan recipe, though very different in details, is quite the same as 
regards the principal item, that is, the lizard caught with the left hand : — 


When a man wishes his wife to be faithful, he should take sperma illius mulieris and put it in a bottle, 
and then catch a lizard with the left hand, and put it in the same bottle, and cork both up very tightly, and 
say: — 


"'Qui racchiudo la fedelta 

Di mia moglie die non possa 
Mai sfugirmi 1 * 

(" • Here I put the fidelity 

Of my wife, that she may be 
Ever, ever true to me ! ') 

" Then be careful not to lose the bottle, and always to keep it in the house." 

I do not clearly understand for what complaint MARCELLUS means the follow- 
ing prescription — nisi ad verrucas — but I give it, according to Grimm : — 

'* De tribus tumulis terne, quos talpee faciunt, ter sinistra manu quot adprehenderis tolles, hoc est novem 
piignos plenos, et aceto addito, temperabis." 

(" Take from three mole-hills three handfuls of earth thrice, that is, nine handfuls, and mix them with 

The following is a Romagnola charm for bewitching or injuring any one : — 

La Terra dei Mucchi delU Tarpe {Taipi), 

" Take earth from three mole-hills and put it in a red bag, and while removing the earth say : — 

*"0 terra che di terra vi racatto, 

Sopra tre mucchi che dalle tarpe siete stati ammuchiati, 

£ come avete ammuchiato questa terra 

Ammuchiate i dispiacere di quella famiglia 

Che non abbiano bene e ni pace 

E tutte le sfortune piombino sopra al suo capo ! 

('< * Earth, O Earth, who long hast laid 
On the hills which moles have made. 
As they heaped thee» may there be 
Evil heaped on this family ! 
And disaster fall like lead 
Evermore upon its head ! * ") 

I could almost believe that Marcellus has misplaced this spell, in applying 
it to a cure. For, as my authority explained, " the mole lives in darkness, and, 
like the earthworm, is under the footprints of the stregone^ or wizards, which give 
it power for good or evil according to their natures, but it is generally most 
powerful for bewitching.'' In saying which she gave in a few words a great 
amount of classic folk-lore unawares. Friedrich {Symboliky p. 386) writes on this 
as follows : — 

'' As the mole is subterranean he has a chthonic, demoniac reputation, as of 
one hostile to man, which is to be found in such old Roman beliefs as, ' If you 



throw a mole into a house the grandmother will die.* To this might be added 
several to the effect that by means of it disaster can be wrought to a family, 
especially to its head." ' It was of yore much used in sorcery. Thus, according to 
Pliny (^Hist. Nat, xxx., 7) :— 

*' He who will swallow the heart of a mole, still quivering, will receive the gift of prophecy ; a mole*s 
tooth pulled from the living animal cures toothache, its blood cures weakly persons.*' 

I was not aware of this when the Tuscan spell was given to me, but 1 can 
now understand why so much stress was laid upon its force in magic It has its 
value as illustrating the recipe of Marcellus, but is much more interesting 
as setting forth the old Roman superstitions regarding the mole. The very 
ancient use of pitch in superstitious practices appears in the following from 
Marcellus, which I here repeat for another illustration : — 

" Picem mollem cerebro ejus impone, qui uvam dolebit et praecipue ut super limen stans superiori limiti 
ipsam picem capite suo adBgat." 

(" Stick a piece of soft pitch to the head of a man suffering with sore throat, and this should by all means 
be done when he is standing on the threshold.") 

In a Tuscan incantation to break love, pitch appears in its very ancient 
signification as an ingredient of witchcraft : — 

'* When you wish to prevent a young man from visiting a girl in any house, take shoemaker's wax (pue 
da calzolai) and four nails. Make of these a cross, and put such crosses under the seats whereon the lover and 
maid sit. And the end will be that they will quarrel, and he will no more come to the house." 

The last spell, or recipe, of MARCELLUS is to cure the gout : — 

" Carmen idioticum, quod lenire podagram dicitur sic : In manus tuas exspues, antcquam a lecto terram 
contingas, et a summis talis et plantis ad summos digitos manus duces et dices : — 

•• *Fuge, fuge, podagra, et omnibus nervorum dolor, 
De pedibus meis et omnibus membris meis I ' 

" Aul si alii pnecantas, dices illius quem peperit ilia : — 

" ' Venenum veneno vincitur 

Saliva jejuna vinci non potest.' 

*' Ter dices haec et ad singulas plantas tuas, vel illius, cui medebere, spues.'' 

This is, in brief, spit in your hands before rising in the morning, pass your 
hands from your soles to the ends of your fingers, and say : — 

' Die Zoologie der alien Rimer und Gricchen (Gotha, 1856), p. 85. 


it I 

Fly, fly, O gout, and all my nervous pains 
From iKkth my feet, nor linger in my veins J * 

** Or if you chant it for another, say of that which she bore j— 

" * Poison by poison is conquered. 
Fasting spittle cannot be conquered.' 

*' Say this thrice and spit on your soles, or on those of the one whom you would cure." 

There is in Tuscany a very terrible illness, caused, as some say, by eating 
bad maize-meal, others attribute it to bad living and malaria. It is called /a 
pellagra. As the name very much resembles podagra^ or gout, I was told that the 
following was a cure for pellagra, to which my informant added, afiche per la gotta 
— also for gout — which latter complaint I need not say is not so common among 
temperate peasants. La pellagra causes madness. 


Per guarire la golta o la pellagra. To cure gout or pellagra. Take for three mornings a small boy 
{bambino) while fasting, and make him spit three times on the place where the gout shows itself, and while 
doing this let him say :^ 

•* * Golta, o gotta ! (o pellagra!) 

Va via dal mio piede, 

II vclcno vincc il veleno, 

Come pure lo sputo 

Vince il veleno, e 

Lo sputo mio d'un bambino 

Innocente sara quello 

Che vincera la gotta maladetta, 

Che non tomi mai piil 

A fare capo sopra alia tua persona.* 

(" * Gout, O gout, to thee I say. 
Go thou from my foot away ! 
As poison conquers poison, see 
This infant's spittle conquers thee ! 
That thou shalt ne'er return again, 
And give me any further pain ! ') 

*' Then the boy must spit behind him thrice, and repeat this for three mornings." 

Of the one hundred medical spells described by MARCELLUS, and commented 
on by J. Grimm, I have identified about fifty, with as many still in use in Tuscany. 
And if we consider that in this collection of the Roman physician there are a 
great many which run, so to speak, into one another, and how much there is in 
them all which is to be found in many of the modern Tuscan spells, such as the 
not looking behind, and spitting thrice, and, in fact, the whole system, spirit, add 
method of the cures, we should not be far from the truth in saying that probably 



all are still in existence, and that, beyond all question, a very great number, which 
were old in his day, are still extant. But a general consideration and comparison 
of all the ancient and modern examples given in this book will best enable the 
reader to judge of its value. 

As a comment on this chapter Miss Mary A. Owen adds the following 
notes drawn from American negro sorcery : — 

•* Voodoo. 

*' Voodoos warn against throwing hairs about, for if a bird gets a hair and weaves it into a nest the 
owner of the hair will have frightful headaches — nothing can cure until the hair is found and burned. Also, 
if a person gets the hair of another and introduces it into a slit in the l>ark of a growing tree, the unfortunate 
will go crazy as soon as the bark grows together over the hair." [Also Hungarian gypsy. C. G. L.] 

'* You may call a friend to your presence from the ends of the earth by putting four of your own hairs in 
a bottle of water, calling the bottle by the name of the one you wish to see, and placing it in the door you 
wish him to enter. Within four days (for in that time the hairs will have swelled into snakes) he must start 
towards you. 

" The skin of the serpent worn around the waist cures rheumatism. The rattles worn in the hat cure 
headache and prevent sunstroke. The heart swallowed whole cures consumption. 

'* To cure sore eyes, Imthe them in water containing the gall of a duck and a spoonful of syrup made of 
boiled water-melon juice. 

"A black hen split open and placed on the body cures fevers and relieves the pain of cancer. 

"The right fore-foot of a mole is a good-luck charm. The brains of a mole put in a black silk bag and 
tied round the neck of a babe will make it cut its teeth without pain or fever. If the gums of a teething child 
are rubbed with a mole's foot the teeth will at once appear. 

*' The brains of a rabbit tied in a black bag and rubbed on the child's gums will bring the teeth through, 
so also will a necklace of elder twigs. 

" If a child under a year old is allowed to see itself in a looking-glass, it will cut its teeth ' hard ' ; but 
this may be prevented by tying a mole's foot above the glass." 

The Three Wise Men of the East and the Witch Medals. 

" Die heil'gen drei Kon'ge aus Morgenland 
Sie frugen in jedem Stadtchen ; 
*Wo geht der Weg nach Bethlehem, 
Ihr lieben Buben und Madchen ? ' " 

Heine, Btich der Lieder. 

There appeared in the Gypsy-Lore Journal o{ ]2XiW2iXy^ 1889, a very interesting 
article by David Mackitchie, in which he discussed an old opinion that the 
Magi, or Three Kings of the East, were often held to be, as LONGFELLOW describes 
them, " the three gypsy kings, Caspar, Melchoir, and Balthasar." This may have 
been a mere popular fancy ; but there is abundant evidence to prove that, whether 


of Indian or other Eastern blood, there was in all probability a great deal to 
connect them with gypsies as regards their lore. 

If the three kings were Magi, or Wise Men from the East, we may conclude 
that they were of the Chaldxan, or Persian, order, of which there were many at a 
late date roaming about the Latin empire. They were all soothsayers, or diviners, 
and it was in this capacity that they appear in Bethlehem. That is, they were of 
the old Chaldsean-Accadian school of sorcery, which I believe to have possibly 
had a common Turanian origin with that of the Etruscans, which still survives but 
little changed in the sorceries of the Tuscan Romagna ; and both of these were 
the same with the Shaman magic of the prc-Aryan dwellers in India. Reduced 
to facts, it is more than merely possible that the " wisdom," or lore, of the three 
kings was " Gypsy " (that is, Indian or Persian), or perhaps Chaldce, in its origin, 
and that they were really itinerant diviners or soothsayers. 

This is not much more than conjecture — albeit there are " guesses good and 
bad." But a very curious incident casts a strange side-light upon it. In Hungary I 
have known gypsies, when a child was very ill, to seek to cure it by hanging from 
its neck Maria Theresa dollars. In the Romagna of Tuscany there is an ancient 
belief that certain old Roman coins are a sure defence against witchcraft, 
especially for children. To combat this the priests have made certain medals, 
which, like the older articles, pass current under the name of witch-medals — 
" medaglie delle stregJu!' 

I noted down in conversation the following remarks in relation to tliem :— 

** * Quando si ha una medaglia delle streghe, e si mette questa medaglia al collo, con quesla sara sempre 
libero delle streghe * (* When one has a witch-medal, and wears it on the neck, one will be always free from 
witches '). 

•• These medals are put chiefly on chUdreHy but also on grown persons. And when putting one on, one 
should say: — 

" * Metto qtusta medaglia per liber are liberamus delle streghe * (* I put on this medal to (tce—lideramus^ 
from witches ').** 

On asking if those who believed in « the old religion," or " witchcraft," put 
faith in the new witch-medals, I received an account which I did not note down, 
but which was to the effect that the Catholics believed in the o/d witch-coins, or in 
witchcraft — avendone avuto multe cose gitistificate — " as many things had proved it 
to them." And that the believers in witchcraft accepted the new medals, excep- 
tionally for certain reasons, as agreeing with sorcery. For " si portano queste 
nudaglie perdu le tre rege sulla faccia erano stessi grande stregfwne " (" They 
carried them because the three kings on them were themselves great wizards "). 

I subsequently received some of these new medals. They are sold for a soldo. 


or halfpenny, are octagonal, and made of brass, and bear on one side the three 
kings worshipping the infant Jesus, and on the other the following inscription : — 

/ ' 

^ S. 3. Reges ^ 

Gasp. Mkl. Bald. 

Orate pro nobis 

Nunc et in Hoka 

Mortis no&tkvK. 



The reputation of sorcery hung about the Magi, and the believers in witch- 
craft accepted them as friends. It was a happy thought to put them on the 
new witch-money — it was " acceptable to all parties." I have, however, heard 
from a Catholic, that this ccMnpromise of saints with the devil caused a 
scandal among true believers. It might be here remarked that this mysterious 
group of the three magicians was by no means unknown long before in 
different forms and under other names to both Christians and heathens, and 
that in later lore the three fairies who appear at the birth of a child not only 
present him .with gifts but predict his future. It is also noteworthy that 
frankincensey which formed one of the gifts of the Magi, enters into the com- 
position of all the modem witch-charms or fetish-bags of the Romagna — I myself 
having been presented with one containing some — that myrrh is also one of these 
magic medicines, and that if the offering to the infant Jesus had any meaning at 
all, it was magical, and intended to avert sorcery and evil influences. It may be 
alleged that the Tuscans borrowed this use of incense from the rites of the 
Roman Catholic Church ; but even Cardinal Newman himself would hardly have 
denied that incense was used in sacred rit^s by the old Romans. And I am 
confident that a fair and full examination of all that I shall give, as regards this 
Tuscan witch-lore, will convince any unprejudiced reader that it is of very great 
antiquity. For though superstitions spring up spontaneously and simultaneously, 
everywhere and everywhen, yet this very fact, on due reflection, does but go the 
further to prove, firstly, the vast probable antiquity of all widely-spread beliefs or 
legends, and, secondly, the likelihood that they were transmitted from man to man, 
since he who has the innate impulse to create will be the readiest to receive — a 
great truth much ignored by those who incline to one side or the other, but 
especially by those who believe there has been little or no "borrowing." If 
it be true that the use of frankincense as a " devil-driver " would occur per se and 
naturally to an old Italian, or to a Hindoo, so much the greater is the probability 


that if one brought it to the other, the other, would accept it Therefore, while we 
admit that instances of spontaneous creation of myths, legends, and customs, may, 
and do, take place, yet, when we consider how extensively men have travelled, 
even in prehistoric times — as is shown by jade relics — and with what incredible 
rapidity even a rumour will spread over an empire, and, finally, what a remarkably 
story-telling and myth-mongering creature man is, it becomes evident that all 
conjectures as to simultaneous creation from concurrent causes must be accepted 
with the greatest possible caution after the severest scrutiny. At present the 
popular tendency is to accept as self-evident — without proof — the slightest 
probability that a " use " (be it in any form) sprung up of itself from " like 
influences," while transmission is subjected to the severest criticism. Now, as 
transmission may, in millions of cases, have been due to wandering apostolic 
pilgrims, who took the whole world for a route, sailors, strays, and cast-aways — 
such as the Huron woman who was said to have been found in Tartary — it is a 
safe thing to challenge a proof which was perhaps buried for ever in the grave of 
some old vagabond thousands of years ago. 

Myrrh, frankincense, and gold combined are an ancient and widely-spread 
gift for children. They were magical and luck-bringing among the Romans ; and 
whatever was connected with superstition, luck, and divination among them was 
of Etruscan origin, for their whole body of such beliefs had been derived from the 
fabled Tages. 

There is another kind of witch-money which is very mysterious indeed. It is 
called La Sega delle Strege, or the Witches' Saw. I give a description of it, as 
taken down verbatim : — 

'* The Se^a della Singe is a small coin which witches have. They go with this on Tuesdays or Fridays 
to the roads to cut or scrape the earth from footprints of people. With the coin they remove the earth, and 
with it they do great harm " (i.^., to those people). 

'* The spell against the Saw of the Witches — Sega mulega — is mentioned in the song : — 

** ' Sega mulega stregone e strege di Gaeta, 
Che filano la seta.' 

*^ Mulega is a witches* word. It means the earth which they take with it from footprints. It signifies 
that it is not earth which they cut but a piece of flesh which will disappear from the soles of their feet. 

" If any one suspects that he has been thus bewitched, let him stand quite naked and take a black or red 
ribbon. Then let him be measured with the ribbon^ firstly, the entire extent of his outstretched arms, and 
then his height from h«ad to foot. 

This song of Sega mulega is a very common nursery rhyme, sung while 
making the "cat's cradle " with a twine, which suggests the measurement with the 


ribbon. But it is also closely allied to witchcraft even in this; for as the cord 
makes a coffin, or other figures, omens are drawn from it, as I had fully illustrated 
to me by seeing it done. It is a nursery rhyme now, but it was an incantation 
once ; and a witch declared to me that, if properly understood, it is one now, and 
must be sung while divining with a cord. It is in full as follows : — 

" Sega mulega, stiegoni e streghe di Gacta ! 
Che filano la seta 
La seta ed il bombaggio ; 
Mi place quel giovane 
Che sbatte le castagne 
L'isbatte tanto forte alle streghe, 
Fa tremare le porte ; 
Le porte sono d*argento, 
Che pesano cinque cento ; 
Cinque cento, cinquanta, 
La mia galUna canta * 

* Non era gallina che canta.' 

* Ma e un gallo ' * Non e un gallo che canta, 

Ma una Strega scnza fallo.' 

* Se una strega ^, una Strega pur sia ! 
Ma che il diavolo la porti via ! " 

(^* Sega mulega! 

Wizards and witches of Gaeta ! 

Ye who spin silk and cotton — see ! 

There is a youth who pleases me, 

He who is beating the chestnut tree: 

Beating the witches with terrible shocks. 

The gales are trembling at his knocks ! 

The gates are of silver — five hundred they weigh. 

Five hundred fifty — is it so ? 

Five hundred and fifty I hear my hen crow 

' But *tis a cock ! * * No — a hen — without doubt. 

And, as surely, a witch, without.' 

< If she's a witch, a witch let her be ! 

But the devil may take her away for me ! ") 

Whether this be a nursery song, or old incantation, there is certainly in it 
a wild uncanny " Northern " spirit, far surpassing that of the " Ghurughiu " witch • 
song which Goethe heard in Naples. 


The Exorcism of 

"Beeone,OD«lh! 1 fear 
ihee nol ! "—Smg ef tki 
Reafier, " Dts Knaben Wun- 
derhern ." 

" Cnrmen aulem evocat ; 
orium idem irodil ... qui 

hastes ferrcl." — Livy, I.viii. 

IE following very 
singular and uncanny 
spell involve^ one of 
the deep secrets of the 
wise women which 
they do not make 
known. It is entirely 
heathen, there being 
no trace of Chris- 
tianity in it, though 
it is used on an occasion when one would suppose that among Catholics all 
the appropriate rites of the Church would be employed. It turns upon the very 


ancient belief that death may be averted by an incantation pronounced by a 
sorceress, and it is very interesting in several respects, as showing the degree to 
which the old Etrusco-Roman sorcery still prevails in the rural districts of Tuscany 
— albeit there is no lack of it even within the shadow of the Duomo in Florence 
itself, as I well know. 

I believe that I am not quite accurate when I call this " Etrusco-Roman." For 
in fact the religion, such as it is, which forms the real faith of the strege and their 
patrons, goes back to a time of which there is no record. The Graeco-Roman 
polytheism died before Christianity arose ; before that was the Etruscan, Oscan, 
Sabine, or Umbrian, and long, long before these, the simple sorcery of the Tartar 
Shaman. And it is this^ with more or less picked up, by the way, from Etruscans 
here and Romans there, but in the main just what it was thousands of years ago, 
which we have to-day. But to the spell : — 

"When one is very ill in a house, and death is feared, go to a witch and say : ' I need a favour from 
thee ; death will not come to my malato — invalid.* 

** *A1 mio malato non vo^lia far venire, 
E sono venuto da te a scntire, 
Perchc tu bene me lo possa dire.' 

C' * Death will not take my friend away, 
Therefore tell me as well you may, 
What one must do, what one must say?') 

" Then on the night when death is expected, the witch sleeps, and Death appears to her in a dream, and 
announces to her that on a certain day the invalid is destined for him, or will be in his power. 

" Then on the night when Death comes for his victim, the witch takes a pumpkin and makes in it eyes 
and nose, and two holes, and puts in them two pods of beans, with the beans in them, to seem like horns. 
And when Death is expected, the witch makes the sign of the horns (la jettattira, called in Tuscany U come), 
and— Ji niette a scongiurare — liegins her incantation, thus : — 

" ' O spirito di Morte indegna, 

Da questa casa tu ne puoi andare, 

Questo malatto nella notte 

Tu non potrai pigliare, 

Perche le come a iettatura 

Ti sono venuta a fare ! 

£ appena I'alba sara spuntata, 

II ammalato pid non ti sarai guadagnato 

E dalla morte verra liberato ! ' " 

(** ' Spirit of Death, to thee I say, 
Thou shalt not with thee bear away 
This suffering man, for at thee now 
The awful magic sign I throw ; 


And when thou seest the morning dawn, 
Without thy prey thou shalt be gone. 
This time there'll lie no gain for thee, 
And from thy power heMl be free ! * ") 

This picture of the Witch defying Death is a very striking one, and it may be 
studied as a subject by an artist I was assured that this is all kept a secret from 
the priests ; but that is the case with all the spells described in this book. 

Ovid describes in detail a ceremony which is essentially the same. There was 
in Rome a feast of expiation to the Lemures, or spirits of death, which was 
observed on the 9th, nth, and 13th of May, and its object was to conjure away 
death for the coming year. 

*' At midnight the father of the family walked barefooted through the house, making with his fingers the 
sign which spirits fear — Signaque dai digUis^ medio cum pollUe junctis — occurrat ttuUo nc lew's umbra sibi, 
(That is, he made le come or la jettaiura,) Then he washed his hands with pure well -water — put heam into his 
mouth, and threw them about the house without looking behind him, saying nine times : * These I give, and 
with these beans I redeem me and mine ! * 

" Then he washed his hands again, and if he did this nine times, repeating, ' Manes exile patemi! * he 
could look around, for then the ceremony was over.*' 

The pumpkin-head is not mentioned here, but there are the beans and the 
jettatura. But Preller distinctly declares that with the course of time the cere- 
mony of the Larvae was more developed into one of terrible apparitions, bugbears, 
or bogeys. "They accompanied it with imitations of skeletons and ghastly 
figures." This identifies the Tuscan spell with the Roman ceremonies, for the 
pumpkin is evidently meant to represent a skull. Even in our times the hollow 
pumpkin, with a lamp on a pole, being supposed to look like a skull with fiery 
eyes, is well known to all rustics, and Brom Bones employs it in Washington 
Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow to frighten Ichabod Crane. This means that 
Death is frightened away by his own likeness. So among the Babylonian and 
Ninevite peoples, as may be read in the Chaldaean Magic of Lenormant, the great 
powers of evil among whom was Death, were more afraid of their own likenesses 
than of anything else, for which reason horrible figures were placed here and there 
to protect all houses. Mirrors are also a protection against demons. I have 
also no doubt that though there was really a fancy for the eccentric and odd 
in the Middle Age, still the true reason for multiplying grotesque goblins 
everywhere was due to a similar belief There is a strange kind of homoeopathy 
running through the lore of that time, a manifold application of similia similibus 
curantur, the killing of witchcraft by witchcraft, the driving out of devils by devils, 
the cure by the weapon which gave the wound, which came to perfection in 



Paracelsus. This is not fortuitous, it occurs too frequently to be accidental or a 
result of correlative causes, and I believe that this primeval faith that Death was 
scared away by Death was the beginning of it 

I believe, in fact, that just as lions and monsters for the base of pillars can be 
traced back from Byzantine to Babylonian-Ninevite architecture,, so the placing 
grotesque images of imps, demons, and goblins had. a like origin in the same 
country, on the principle that the devil shuns his own likeness. It is certainly very 
distinctly preserved in this Tuscan Exorcism of Death. This belief explains the 
presence of such vast numbers in Christian churches of those diabolically odd 
figures which have so long been a puzzle to antiquarians. They were meant to 
banish devils. 

The Spell of the Cradle. 

When I was born — it was in the city of Philadelphia — I had for nurse an old 
Dutch woman named Van der Poel, who was supposed to be something of a 
witch, or, like all old Dutch women, familiar with occult matters. One day I, the 
babe, was missing, as was my cradle. The house was searched in alarm, and at 
last I was found in my cradle in the garret. There were lighted candles round it, 
an open Bible and a plate of salt on me. I think there was a key or shears also, 
and money ; but of this I am not certain. It was explained as a ceremony 
necessary to secure my success, or future happiness. Other and older printed 
authorities declare that it will cause the infant to rise in life, the going upstairs 
being symbolical of ascent ; also that the person thus carried will become an 
adept in occult lore, or sorcery and magic. From \hQ Journal of American 
Folk-Lore^ June, 1892, I learn that among the descendants of German colonists 
in North Carolina "the first time a baby is taken out of its natal room it must 
be taken up " (stairs), " or it will not go to heaven. If the door of the room 
steps down . . . then the person carrying the baby must step on a chair or 
book with the baby in her arms" (N. C. Hoke). 

On relating this to a Tuscan witch she at once recognised it as a well-known 
observance, and explained how it was carried out in the Romagna, as follows : — 

" In the Romagne there are witches good and bad. When they are attached to any family or place, and 
know that a babe is bom there, they enter the house as secretly as they can and take the cradle (cuUa) ^nth 
the babe, and carry it up to the garret, or attic, that is, to the highest room under the roof. Then the witch 
takes the sack (saconcini) of the cradle, and lays the babe on it, and puts at its head coarse salt, and the Bible, 
opened, is put at the feet. And then four gold chains and four gold rings are put, one in every comer of the 
bed, and two lighted candles are placed at the babe's head. • Then with the chains the bed is hung to the 
rafters (sospesi al ptdco), with the child in it, and the witch repeats ;— - 

DtviNATtott With lead. 30; 

'* ' lo ho fatto questo 
Non per interesse niia« 
Sola per Tamore che .porto 
A questa famiglia che per quanto 
Sono gran di richezza, 
Ma che il suo figlio piu grande 
Possa venire di talento, 
£ se lo ho messo sospeso 
Cosi in alto lo ho messo, 
Perche col suo talento possa venire 
La persona pid alta 
£ pid importante di questo mondo.'" 

(** * This for myself I have not done, 
But for love to this little one, 
Not because his family 
Great or wealthy chance to be. 
But that he may rise, have I 
Brought him to this room so high; 
Thus may he by talents thrive. 
And be the greatest man alive ! ' ") 

Truly a kind wish, and if it always took effect there would be no lack of talent 
in the world. In the Italian ceremony the benevolent witch must, after repeating 
the invocation, depart without looking behind her, and not return to the house that 
day, which latter condition is of ancient Latin origin. This incantation was 
repeated in prose, not sung. 

Divination with Lead, 

The custom of divining by means of melted tin or lead dropped into water 
is, as FrI£DRICH remarks, of great antiquity, as may be inferred from the fact 
that it has long been known to every race acquainted with these metals. The 
ceremony consists of melting the lead (wax was also used among the Latins), 
dropping it into water, and inferring future events from its shapes. Then these 
were taken to bed by the person for whom the oracle was destined, when, by the 
influence of the image, a dream would confirm what its appearance predicted. It 
is barely possible that it might have entered into the heads of people in different 
countries to divine by the shapes which melted metal would assume, but that they 
should all conceive taking it to bed " to dream on " is inconceivably less probable 
than that it was transmitted in superstitious times from race to race. This theory 
of sporadic or independent invention of myths, customs, and superstitions has 
been carried of late to such extravagance, that if we accept it all we must believe 


that barbarous man, long before he had thought of anything else, developed all 
alone, wherever he existed, all the folk-lore which we now have, and that he 
zealously confined it to his own race, wherever he went ! For the ideas which 
" naturally occur " to savages and peasants are very few indeed, as those know who 
have lived among them, and as is proved by those of the Romagna, who seem 
to have no superstitions which are not as old as the days of the Romans. 

Their manner of divination by means of melted lead is as follows : It is of 
some importance, because it is not only elaborate, but, as can be shown by 
analogy, it is very ancient in every detail : — 

''You must take three seeds of a rose, three leaves of nettle, two leaves of rue, and three seeds of 
cummin. Put all these together. Then take lead, and at midnight light two tallow candles, binding them 
with a (red) ribbon. Then take a plate, put the lead and the herbs on it, and the herbs last, that is to say, 
put the plate on the fire, and when the lead is melted put the herbs on it. Then pour the lead into water, 
and see what forms it takes. 

" Should it take the form of a river {Jiume)^ it is a bad sign. But this may be used to throw into the 
house of an enemy to do him evil. 

" If the lead can be thrown into running water, and if it take the form of a baptismal font {fonte)^ 
it is a very good omen, and should be kepi in a red bag, and this must lie bound to the (rame of the bed, or, 
better still, be put into the bed, care being taken that no one touches it. 

** When the lead and the herbs are put into the plate one should say : — 

** * Lo faccio per vedere 
Se verra la fortuna 
(O sfortuna) in casa mia."' 

(" * This I do that I may see 

If good (or bad) luck will come to me ! ' ") 

I have another description of this ceremony, which is more in detail : — 

" Melt the lead and put the seeds of roses, leaves of rue, and three seeds of cummin on it. At midnight 
light two candles connected with a red ribbon. When melted, hold the plate out of a window, saying :— 

" * O strege, strege ! 

Che la granata non potete vedere 
lo ve la levo per farvi piacere 
O strege, che di Venerdi 
Siete beate, 

Queste grazie me potete fare, 
£ questa grazia mi farete 
Se volete, 

Se questa gra(zia) voi mi fate, 
Che il mio piombo mi faccia la forma 
Diu na fonte . . . significa 


Anderanno bene le cose mieie, 

Si il piombo fa la forma 

Di un fiume c segno 

Che le cose vanno molto male.* 

(•• * O witches, witches 1 

Who cannot bear to see a broom, 
I have removed it to please you ! 
O witches, who are happy on Friday, 
Do me this favour ; ye can if you will ! 
That my lead may take the form of a font, 
Which is a sign that all will go well; 
But should it be a river, 'tis a sign 
That no good fortune now is mine."*) 

This was chanted so irregulariy and so mingled with ordinary conversation 
that I could not clearly distinguish between the spell and the explanation. Then 
my informant resumed as follows : — 

'* Put the font into a red bag, and throw this into the house of one to whom you wish good luck, and 
say: — 

*' ' Non vi butto il piombo, 
Ma la felicita 
Che venga in casa vostra ! * 

(" ' It is not lead which here I throw. 
But happiness, 
That it into your house may go I *) 

" But to harm an enemy, throw the river into his house, and say : — 

" ' Non butto il piombo 
Ma la sfortuna, 
Che vengha in chasa tua, 
Che tu non possa avere 
Pace ne bene ! * 

(" ' *Tis not lead which here I throw, 
But evil fate, that ye may know, 
E*er the spell of fate be o*er. 
Peace and fortune never more ! *) 

'* If the lead forms a river, or the bod sign, to avert it, put the lead on the chimney-piece or in some corner, 
and put on the fire some of the herb which is called, in Romagnola feUhsa^ in Italian ftecce (feni). It b a 
plant which causes great suffering to witches. And while it is burning say : — 

" ' Bruccio questa robba, 

Perche voi altre streghe maladette 
Non potete avere mai bene, 
Perche io vi cerchato una fortuna 
Che non me Tavete voluta dare ! * " 


(*' * This plant upon the coals I burn 
To do ye wkches an evil turn. 
May every evil come to ye. 
I asked a favour, and I see 
That none from you has come to me ! ' ") 

I believe that this formula ot mixing the lead with the ashes of the herbs and 
seeds is the true ancient Roman-Etruscan one, because rue, nettles, cummin, and 
rose-seed entered into the oldest incantations with which we are acquainted. But 
what makes the ceremony complete and most curious is the burning the fern 
leaves to destroy the influence of the witches. It was specially explained to me 
that it was very powerful against all sorcery and evil influences, and in every way 
a mysterious and strange herb. Of it Friedrich says : — 

'* There are very many associations of sorcery, marvels, and superstitions connected- with this plant, 
most of which are kept secret. . . . The scale-fern is especially regarded by the people with great respect, 
because many virtues are attributed to it — especially as a power against evil spirits. Its roots are used in 
invoking those which are good or evil. The five scales on the stalk, which are supposed . to resemble a hand, 
are called the hand of luck, or John's hand, and are carried as a protection against mbfortuoe or sorcery.'* 

Should the lead and ashes, &c., simply amalgamate into one piece, it has no 
special meaning. 

Divination with lead means the making of forms or figures by the aid of 
incantations, and it is therefore closely allied to the same by dropping the white 
of an egg into water, and judging from the shapes which it assumes what the 
future will be as regards a question asked. This is world-old and world-wide, but 
in Tuscany it is practised as follows : — 

** Take a glass of water at midnight, exactly. Let fall into it the white of an egg, and say : — 

** * Faccio quest' uovo, 

Perche che tu maladetta strega 

La fortuna tu possa darmi 

Un spiegazione 

Sopra questo uovo, 

Te lo lascio fuori di finestra 

Venti quattro ore 

Che tu abbia il tempo 

Di farmi vedere 

La mia fortuna ! ' 

(<* ' I show this egg, curst witch, to thee. 
That I in turn my fate may see. 
For a day at thy command, 
On the window it shall stand, 
That my fortune I may know : 
That it shall my future show ! ') 


'* After twenty- four hours Consider it closely. If it shall have taken the form of a burying-ground, 
it means a death in the family ; if it show a church and a priest giving the benediction, it means a wedding. 
Stars presage happiness. And if the lineaments of any person can be traced, it means good fortune from that 
particular person." 

The witches who attend to the egg-prophecies must be a singularly amiable 
class of ladies. They are addressed with a curse, and then modestly requested to 
take the trouble to arrange a prediction ! 

Divination by Oil. 

**Est enim cvangelium signum pacis et saluberrimum Olrum gratis et misericordiae divinw."^ 
CocQUius, Histor, ac contemplatio sacra Plantamm, Vlissing, 1664. 

There are in the streets of Florence, not far from the Signoria, houses which 
were, possibly, old in the time of Dant6 — who knows } — or who knows the age of 
anything in this land where relics of even prehistoric culture abound, and nothing 
seems so strange as the new } Into one of these houses I entered — into total 
darkness — felt my way upstairs to an invisible door — knocked, and entered a large 
room only divided from another by a large ancient arch. There was but a half- 
light from a single window, and the whole formed a very Rembrandt-likc picture. 
At the table sat the fortune-teller, and before her was a glass of water into 
which, with strange gestures while uttering incantations, she was dropping oil from 
a bottle. 

" Chefai — what art thou doing, daughter of a thousand witches ? " 

" I am making an incantesimo — an incantation — with oil. Do you want to 
learn how to do it ? " 

Yes, I wanted to learn. I knew that the divination by oil was prohibited by 
law and gospel, church and state, even in the edicts of Charlemagne, and that it 
was in all times one of the secreta rariora which the witches kept • for special 
occasions. The author of the Tritium Magicum^ sive Secretorum Magicontm 
OpnSf published in 161 1, tell us: ^^Aliqui itidem aquam in vitreum catinum tffunduni, 
oleique giitUdam admiscent et sic in aqua mira se cernere posse putant^ In English : 
" Some again pour water into a glass basin, mixing therewith a drop of oil, and 
so think they see marvellous things in the water." Which was all he knew about 
it, since if he could have told more he would assuredly have done so. • • 

The whole oracle was, however, duly, sincerely, and thoroughly consulted in 
my presence, and it runneth thus, as I wrote it down, step by step : — 

" Take the flask with oil— a small one — make with it thrice the sign of the cross on the head and face, 
saying : — 


** * In nome del cielo, 

Delle stelle e della luna, 

Mi levo questo malocchio (o altra cosa), 

Per roia maggior fortuna \ ' 

('* * In the name of heaven, 
Of the stars and moon, 
I pass away this trouble 
For better luck and soon ! ' ) 

** Then with the same bottle or vial, make three crosses with the right hand over the glass of water, 
exactly from side to side, also making the coma or jettatura with the forefinger and little finger of the left 
hand extended, and the middle and ring-finger closed, or held by the thumb. And these extended fingers rest 
on the edge of the tumbler. 

** While doing this the strega repeats ; — 

'< * Befania ! Befania I Befania ! 
Chi mi ha dato il malocchio. 
Me lo porte via ! * 

(« < Befania, Befania, Befania ! 

Thou who didst cause this trouble, 

Bear it away from me ! ') 

" Then pour in, or let fall, very carefully, three drops of oil. If they combine at once, it is a good sign, 

or an affirmative to any question. If you wish to know whether you are to find what you seek, or meet a 

friend, or anything of the kind, all will go as you desire. But if the three drops remain apart it is a bad or 

negative sign. 

** Then to thoroughly explore all the chances, this ceremony is renewed three times. And every time 
throw the water and oil into the street, or a court. Should a man be the first to pass, all will yet go well. If 
a woman, the omens are still unfavourable. And then once more make the castagna or chestnut, the sign of 
the thumb between the fore and middle fingers, which is far more potent than the corna " (even the early 
Roman writers call it terrible) ; " note that this also is on the edge of the glass, with the left hand, while with 
the right the oil is dropped skilfully so as to make a cross of oil, or spots of oil across the water (which has 
been renewed). Then cross the head and face three times with the oil, repeating the Befania invocation three 
times as before." (All of this was done with incredible quickness.) 

** And if, aAer all, the oracle is unpropitious, drop into the glass about a teaspoonful of salt, and repeat 
the formula of * Befania.* Should the oil turn of a whitish colour, this is a sign that the Befania relents and 
that all may yet go well" 

But if she be deaf to every spell, nor heed the sacred salt, then drop into the 
glass a hot coal — the last desperate resource of diabolical recklessness. 

" Flectere si nequeo superbos Acheronta movebo.'* * 

This mixes the oil and water despite of all the devils. And this done you go 
forth with the fierce, proud feeling that though every omen is against you you arc 
to prevail by a strong will. But ere departing there is still something to be done. 
You express your gratitude to the Spirit of the Fire, which is short but extremely 
heathen, and I have no doubt very ancient : — 


*' O fuoco benedetto, 
Chi bnicia immensamente, 
£ bruce tutte le gente, 
Ti prego di brucciare 
Questo malocchio, 
E chi me I'ha dato ! " 

(" O blessed Fire, 

Thou who burnest so immensely, 

Thou who warmest all mankind, 

I pray thee to burn 

This evil spell, 

And the one who smote me with it ! *') 

Then, as in old Latin rites, the coal and all must be thrown into a running 
stream, and you depart without looking behind you. " Fers cineris Amarilli foras, 
rivoque fluenti, transque caput jace, ne respexeris." The reader will find by com- 
parison that this charm has much in common with the Divination by Ashes. 

I must confess that I greatly admire this species of divination, and have 
perfect faith in the last, or hot coal, portion of it. The witch had by her side a 
scaldino — an earthenware brazier in the form of a basket — ^just as her ancestresses 
always had in the days of ViRGiL, and perhaps long before the time of Tarquin, 
and when the coal went hissing into the oil and water her face had the beautiful 
expression of a sorceress defying a fiend. It was a fine picture, and a great artist 
would have appreciated the flashing black eyes under a thicket of tangled hair — 
and my mind darted from the witch of Vesuvius to ViRGIL and Apuleius and 
Theocritus — who had all seen the same antique and terrible face — doubtless in 
the orgasme of the hot coal ! 

Other oracles and incantations " say their say," give you a " yes " or " no," and 
are done with it. But in this you begin amiably and smoothly with the oil, and a 
gentle, if heathen, incantation to the planets. You give Fate every chance, and are 
prodigal with magical courtesies, or ceremonies. But you do not give it up should 
the reply be unfavourable. Not at all. You proceed to the greater piquancy of 
salt. Salt is polite too— but there is an intimation in it that there is an iron hand 
under your velvet glove — that you mean business and will see the thing out. And 
then— salt failing— comes the red-hot coal. Should the sky fall you will hold it up 
with your spear, and defy the devil. In other words, that which was to have been, 
may be compelled to take another course by means of persevering in enchantments. 
Which corresponds to prayer and penance — in all religions whatever — all of which 
teach that the future may be changed or formed to suit those who are " good." 

It may not have occurred to many readers to reflect Jthat what all such divina- 




tions as this are equivalent to, is prayer^ accompanied by formalities. When 
religious people — as is very often done in America — hold meetings to pray for a 
certain object or purpose, it is quite the same as if they divined with oil and salt 
and invoked Befania. In the year 1859, when THEODORE PARKER was extremely 
obnoxious to the rigidly orthodox of all sects, a number of very Presbyterian 
pious ladies held meetings for the purpose of praying that he might be taken away 
from this life ; and his death, soon after, was attributed to the fervency of their 
zeal. No secret was made of this — it was boasted of in religious newspapers. I 
was at the time editor of Vanity Fair in New York, a lady wrote a poem gracefully 
satirising this Voodoo work, and I drew for it an illustration, which I published. I 
do not see wherein this piously praying a man to death differs from the very 
wickedest witchcraft described in this book. 

Every effort to beg or force from the Unknown or Supernatural certain 
knowledge or favours, be it by prayer, fasting, incantation, or ceremonies, is 
sorcery— cdW it by what name we will. From the beginning of time men have 
tortured and put one another to death for employing different methods of conjura- 
tion, the Catholic has burned and imprisoned and made miserable to death literally 
millions, the Mahometan and Brahmin and mild Buddhist have all done their best 
in the same work — and not one of them has ever reflected that they were all only 
shades or clouds of the same primeval witch and devil's darkness. 

There is a rising light which will in time dissipate it all. This is the sun of 
science. And on every side we hear petitions that the majority of men shall still 
be kept in the old darkness, somewhere or in some way. "There must be a 
religion — what would the multitude do but for a religion ? " (I never met, by the 
way, in all my life a man who really considered himself ^s belonging to " the multi- 
tude.") Or, " Would you take from man his tenderest belief— from the little child 
its faith in angels and a God, &c ? " To which the answer is plain and clear — 
which is, that if the parents know enough to be exemplarily honest in all 
their mutual dealings, and how to teach the child to be likewise, the proper form 
for instinctive sentiment of any kind will never be wanting ; for it is in humanity. 

There is another method of using oil, not for divination or warring on witches, 
but to bewitch, that is to fascinate men. It consists in stealing from a church 
some of the oil of baptism, if you can get it — if not, that which is blessed and put 
into the lamps before the Virgin or saints will do quite as well. And if a girl 
anoints her lips with it, the man who kisses her 

'* Will be seized with a wild, strange love ; 
HeMl heed not the dark world beneath him, 
He'll heed not the heaven above." 


No — all and everything will be lost in a delirium of devotion to the demoiselle 
d Vhiiile before him, compared to whom the best sardine is as nothing. He must 
have her without regard to expense. Now as it is the great end and aim of all 
Italian (and much English) woman-nature and life, to produce such feelings in 
men, it is not remarkable that this oil-stealing is carried on to a great extent. It 
is a very ancient, unholy custom, and is regarded as being to the last degree sac- 
rilegious by the priests, who look upon all kinds of magic and sorcery — save their 
own — as doubly damnable. Paulus Grillandus who, in his time, as he proudly 
informs us, ordered the torture and burning alive of hundreds of heretics and 
witches, tells the following tale, apropos of naughty girls who steal the holy wafer 
to make love-charms. In his work, dated 1547, he relates that : — 

*' It is not now a year ago since I saw and examined two shameless and lewd women {due impftdice 
mnlieres) at Rome, who were held captive by the Reverend lord lomm ienens of the Reverend D. Vicarii 
Papx "—(Grillandus was ** in society " about that time and wished to show his skill) — *' and by examining'*'^ 
— (this kind of examining meant rack and red-hot pincers) — " I found they had taken the oil of baptism, and 
anointed their lips while speaking these words : abrenuncio tibi ; which being done, if they kissed men, these 
would love them. But despite all their craft, they atoned for their crime by suffering the extreme of condign 

This means, darkly, something worse than rack and burning alive, or convicta 
et combtista^ for to this holy griller, GRILLANDUS, such punishment was a mere 

However, in spite of church and stake, girls in Italy have kept on doing it — 
?>., stealing oil — and no great wonder either, since the fear of torture and the 
certainty of hell everlasting would never prevent any true daughter of Eve from 
doing anything which would attract admiration. And this is the way it is now 
worked, as described to me by one who was familiar with the process : — 

" When a woman wishes to inspire sincere love in any man, she should go into church while the priests and 
women are singing the benediction, and from a lamp burning before a male saint {pure che non sia una san/a), 
take from it three drops of oil, which must be blessed, but only with the forefinger, and put them in a little 
dish or plate {pitUtino), and say :~- 

" * Non prendo questo oglio 
Ma prendo la benedizione 
Da questo santo . . . 
{Seconds il Hbme del santo) 
Perche questa benedizione 
Vada sempre al mio amore, 
Che non possa partirsi mai 
Da questo mio cuore I 



(*'*I take not oil for my affliction, 
But I take the benediction 
From this saint . . . (the name is here given) 
That it may move the man I love, 
And that he may ne'er depart 
While he lives from this my heart ! ' ") 

Then the little dish should be carried home and very carefully hidden so that 
no one may see it, and for three Fridays in succession the lips must be anointed 
with the oil. And, kissing her lover on the lips, the girl must say : — 

" lo ti baccio e ti baccio sinceramente, 
E sempre nascosto delle gente, 
lo ti baccio di vero cuore, 
£ ti txiccio di vero amore, 
£ questo santo ... mi vorra aiutarc 
Che tu pure tu mi possa amare, 
E presto tu mi voglia sposare." 

('• I kiss thee, love, and most sincerely, 
In secret, for I love thee dearly, 
I kiss thee from my very heart, 
I kiss thee, dear, with truest love, 
And may Saint ... for his part. 
The witness be my truth to prove 
That thou mine own shalt ever be. 
And that, ere long, lhou*lt marry mc I'*) 

For doing and saying which trifling thing young girls were torn with red-hot 
pincers, their joints pulled out of socket by the rack, hot oil poured all over them 
[vide HORST, Dcsmonomagia, Sprenger, &c.), and then were burned alive. That 
is, at Rome before the Pope, by his order, when the Roman Church was in the full 
plenitude of its power, infallible wisdom, and Christian philanthropy, light, and 
sweetness, meekness, and mercy. 

I believe that this modern Italian ceremony gives the whole truth, and all the 
veritable details of the oil-stealing. I do not believe that any such words as 
abrenuncio iibi were ever uttered. The priests in their accusations always declare 
that the witches were always renouncing and denouncing Christianity, but of all 
this there is hardly a trace in the practices of the witches, as truly set forth by 
themselves ; and considering how they were treated, it is wonderful that they did 
not abuse it on all occasions. The object of stealing the oil was to get the 
mysterious occult virtue or power of the benediction uttered by the priest, else 
why would it be stolen at all, and what sense would there be to take it while 
denying its power ? True, there is not much sense of any kind in the whole 

■t^^— < I III  111 ]gm r ^^■^wi^ii'?^—— iig»*»««g»B^^n.. .^jui d^4 *    K.j^i^ z^vr< 


proceeding, be it on the part of priest or witch, but what there is is with the 
woman, who wished for nothing cruel or inhuman, but only to get a sweetheart. 

It is not magic, or sorcery, or witchcraft, when a priesf pronounces an idiotic 
incantation or spell or benediction over oil, to burn before a lamp, or touch up a 
sinner with it on his death-bed. But if a girl takes a few drops of this same 
enchanted liquid to attract a lover it is a crime— deadly mortal sin, &c. 

It is related that during the first occupation of Paris by the allied army, the 
Cossacks not only drank the oil of the street lamps, but that in the plenitude of 
their impiety they even drained to the dregs all which was in those of the churches- 
Now, if stealing only three drops of the o/etim benedictum by a foolish young girl 
deserved all the tortures of the Sacred Inquisition — and after that a passage 
"through flames material and temporal unto flames immaterial and eternal" — 
what should have been decreed to a dirty, bristling savage, sinful-with-all-the-sins, 
heretic of a Cossack who "topped off" the whole lamp? Imagination shrinks 
appalled before such tremendous wickedness. When you have sent your milliner, 
or servant-maid, or " female,*' to the Byss of the Abyss (as Jacob Bohme calls it), 
of the hell of hells, what can you do with the greater malefactor ? Let us reflect ! 

And a strange moral lurks behind it all. I, reader, have been — and for that 
matter thou with me in the spirit — in an unholy conventicle of witches where, 
according to the general testimony of all the great and wise and good men living 
two hundred years ago, Satan himself was present glowering over us who were — 

'* Seeking awfully by night 
An infernal base delight." 

And we performed ceremonies which are distinctly described as damnable by 
all the great authorities of both churches. Catholic or Protestant — authorities, mind 
you, such as Luther — who are yet to-day absolutely believed in, and deferred to. 
Yea, with this oil, and coal, and hot water, and church-lamp business we damned 
ourselves outside of all redemption, through all the colours of the rainbow from A 
to &c. Behold, O reader, what I went through for thy sake ! " Matter of breviary," 
quoth Friar John. 

Pyromancy and Incense. 

" Das Feuer ist heilig, und wird gottlich verehrt weil es ein reines Element ist, und deshalb mussten 
seine Priesterinnen auch reine Jungfrauen sein.*' — ** Das Feuer," J. B. Friedrich, SymboUk der Natur^ p. 6a 

" Sic in igne praeter alia clementa, sacra omnia insist ebant, quod is, crecto proximus coelo sit." — Polydort 
Virgil de Inv, Rerum. 

The author of the Tritium Magicum (i6i i), referring to old Roman divination, 
describes minutely that by fire. He tells us that : — 


* * There is also Pyromaniia, in which powdered resin was thrown into the flames. If the flame rose in one, 
it was a good sign ; if lambent and divided, unfortunate ; if in three points, a glorious eventum or result ; if 
much dispersed, an ill death ; if crackling or snapping, misfortune ; if it was very suddenly extinguished, 
great danger." 

Resin here includes or means frankincense. 

The identity of the modern pyromancy in Tuscany with that of the old 
Roman, whether it be by observation of flame, or by putting grain, frankincense, 
or poppy leaves on coals, is very remarkable. They were narrated to me as 
follows : — 


*' Let the wood be lighted, and if in doing this the fire ignites with difficulty, or makes ugly (hutU) or 
little flames, it is a bad sign, either as regards events or what we may have in our mind. In the Romagna the 
old men say if you would know how a thing will turn out, you must study the fire attentively. If it burns 
well, all will go well ; and if ill, they will end badly.' 

''If it burn with one flame clear and fine, it is a sign of good fortune. Several flames, or now on one 
side and then on the other, with a snapping, mean that relations or friends will soon come to visit you. 

" And before consulting the fire, if you wish to get very decided omens, repeat this : — 

** * Fuoco, Fuoco benedetto ! 
Alia casa mia fortuna aspetto, 
£ sempre a te vengo sperare 
Che Taugurio di buono, 
Fortuna tu mi voglio dare ! ' 

(" • Fire, Fire, blessed Fire ! 
Unto fortune I aspire. 
So I hope that I may see 
That thou still wilt truly be 
A fortune-giver unto me ! *) 

''And coloured or varied flames are like broken ones." 

This recalls, and that very vividly, a passage from the (Edipus of SENECA : — 

" Tir, Quid flamma ? largus jamne comprehendit dapes ? 
Man, Subito repulsit lumen, et subito occidit. 
Tir, Utrumne clarus ignis, et nitidus stetit, 
Rect usque purum verticem coelo tulit, 

' " The Voodoo thinks that if you have any kind of burning wood before you, and there is snapping and 
crackling, it indicates a serious quarrel. If a coal or spark flies towards you it is a very serious matter 
indeed. To avert the threatened trouble run at once to the fire and spit in it." — Note by Mary A. Owen. 

"" .J- 


Et summam in auras fusus explicant comam? 
An latera circumserpit incertus viae. 
Et fluctuante turbidus fumo labat ? 
Man, Non una facies mobilis flamma fuit, 
Imbrifera quales implicat varios sibi 
Iris colores, parte quae magna poli 
Curvatse picto nunciat nimbos sinu. 
Quis desit ilii quisue sit dubites color : 
Caemlea fulvis mista oberravit notis 
Sanguinea rursus, ultimum in tenebras abit 
Sed ecce pugnax ignis in partes duas 
Discedit — 
Immugit aris ignis et trepidant foci/' 

This corresponds accurately to the modern omens and incantation. 

Grain on Coals. 

" There was," observes the author of Trinum Magicum, " another kind of 
Captromancy. For either grains of sesame or of black poppy were thrown on hot 
coals, and from the smoke rising from them omens were drawn, as DiON Cassius 
observes." In Tuscany the divination is now as follows : — 

"Take from the crop a few grains (chicchi)^ lay them on the coals, and if they burst or pop well 
{scoppira)^ it is a sign that the crop for the next year will be a good one. And if they do not burst it 
will be bad. And poppies are used — but I know nothing about that." 

This is perhaps the real method anciently followed. 

Anciently wheat or barley, or poppy-pods were used, but as it was found out 
in later times that Indian corn, or maize, exploded or " popped " better, it has been 
substituted. The following is a more detailed account of this augury : — 

" Take some grains of gran Turco — maize — and put them on a plate, and that on the fire at midnight 
and say : — 

** ' Metto questo gran Turco, 
Quanti diavoli siete 
Vi scongiuro che mi dite : 
O mi fate sapere, 

Se il mio amore * 

Oggi mi viene vedere ; 
Mi amore mi ama, 
Mi vuol benee mi sposeri, 
Questo gran Turco tre cambiamenti, 
Tre cambiamenti mi fara: 
Se mi ama il gran Turco 
Fara la forma di un cuore, 


Se mi sposera fara la forma, 

La forma di un fiore ; 

Ma si non mi ama, 

Fate diavoli maladetti 

Che il gran Turco non faccia forma 

Ne di cuore, e ne di fiori ! * " 

(" * I put this com, devils, to see, 
However many ye may be, 
I conjure you that you may tell 
Me if my lover loves me well ; 
So make him come this afternoon, 
And if be means to wed me soon : 
Therefore I pray you make 
This com a certain form to take — 
Should the grain be like a heart. 
He from me will never part ; 
Should the shape be like a flower, 
Soon will come the nuptial hour ; 
If he love me not at all. 
Then the devil take it all ! 
If he love not, let there be 
Neither flower nor heart for me ! ' ") 

Incense on Coals. 

This is used to ascertain who has bewitched any one or to remove the evil 

**Take a scaldino (a receptacle of glazed crockery like a basket in form), with charcoal glowing hot, and 
then take incense and cummin^ and put them on the coals. Then with a large knife in the left hand, the 
scaldino being held in the right, go into all the rooms and above and below the bed, pronouncing all the 
time the benediction. And with this knife stir the contents. And as the cummin and incense burn, 
repeat : — 

** * Non buco questo incenso, 

Ma buco il corpo, I'anima, 

E tutti i sentimenti 

Del corpo di quella infame, 

(O del infamo), 

Che mi ha messa 

La mala fortuna 

In casa mia ! ' 

(** * I do not pierce (or stir) the incense, 
But I pierce the body, the soul, 
And all the feelings 
Of the body of the wretch 
Who has put bad fortune 
Into my home ! *) 


** When all the incense is burned, put into the scaldino a leaf of yellow paper (always yellow), and two 
nails tied in the form of a cross. If you do not know who has done the harm, throw the incense and coals 
into a running stream or into a river. But if you suspect any person, you have the scaldino and nails 
carried into his or her house and hide it under the roof where it cannot be found. Do not forget to have in it 
the crossed nails. Then the guilty person will be compelled, or impelled, to undo the harm or spell ; she or 
he will have no rest till this be done." 

It IS understood in this that to succeed the incense must burn freely. In the 
old Roman oracles ("hue illud pertinere puto de Nymphae o prope Apolloniam") 
the incense was taken, the prayer or incantation uttered, and the incense thrown 
on the fire. If it was all burned the omen was favourable, also if it snapped out 
of the fire and burned, or the flame followed it, all was still well. This did not 
apply to probabilities of death or marriage — morte nuptiisque exceptis. 

Though diflerent as to the method and objects, there is quite enough in 
common between the ancient and modern ceremony to warrant the conclusion 
that the latter was derived from an old Roman source. 

There is also another very interesting and evidently very ancient incantation 
with burning incense, intended to remove an evil of any kind, or to invoke good 
fortune from the mysterious witch known as the Befania. 

" Take frankincense, both of the best and the inferior kind, also cummin seed. Have ready a new 
scaldino, which is kept only for this purpose. 

" And should it happen that affairs of any kind go badly, fill the scaldino (or earthen fire-dish) with 
glowing coals, then take three pinches of best incense and three of the second quality, and put them all in 
/tlut in a row, on the threshold of the door. Then take the rest of your incense and the cummin, and put It 
into the burning coal, and carry it about i and wave it over the bed and in every comer, sajdng : — 

" * In nomc del cielo ! 

Delle stelle e delta luna ! 

Mi levo questo mal d'occhio 

Per mia moggior' fortuna ! 

Befania I Befania ! Befania 1 

Che mi date mal d'occhio maladetta sia 

Befania I Befania ! Befania 1 

Chi mi ha dato il maldocchio 

Me lo porta via 

£ maggior fortuna 

Mi venga in casa mia I 

(" * In the name of heaven 

And of the stars and moont 
May this trouble change 
To better fortune soon ! 
Befania t Befania ! Befania 1 



Should this deed be thine ; 
Befania ! Befania 1 Befania ! 
Take it away, bring luck, I pray, 
Into this house of mine ! *) 

" Then when all is consumed in the scaldino, light the little piles of incense on the threshold of the 
door, and go over it three times, and spit behind you over your shoulder three times, and say: — 

<< * Befania ! Befania 1 Befania ! 
Chi me ha dato il maldocchio ! 
Me lo porta via 1 ' 

(*' < Befania ! Befania I 
Befania 1 I say, 
Since thoa gavest this bad luck. 
Carry it away I ') 

" Then pass thrice backwards and forwards before the fire, spitting over the left shoulder, and repeating 
the same incantation.'* 

There is in Tuscany a spell against gossips, backbiters, slanderers, and 
spreaders of evil reports. It is as follows :-^ 

" Against people who chatter evil against us {le persone chi ciarlano std nostra coftto)^ take incense with 
the two fingers and the thumb (con tre dita) and put it on the threshold of the door and at the window, 
put a distaff and a spindle with the weight (penzolant) hanging down, and then set fire to the incense, and 
say: — 

" ' Incenso, Incenso ! 

Che bene tu possa bruciare ! 

E coso possono bruciare 

Le male lingue che ciarlano, 

Tanto di me, e appena 

Tu sarai bruciato. 

La rocca e il fuso 

Dalla finestra me ne andero a levare 

£ anche quelle voglio bruciare, 

E cosi bruciare, e cosi bruciare, 

Pure quelle male lingue 

E di me non tomerrano piii a ciarlare, 

Fino che la rocca e il fuso 

Come prima non tornera, questo come prima, 

Non potra mai tornare; 

E le linguaccie indegne 

Male di me non piii potrano parlarel 

E cosi bruciare, e cosi bruciare,' " &c. 

(" * Incense, Incense ! 

Mayst thou burn well! 

And so may burn, and so may burn 

The tongues who speak ill of me I 


Thou shalt be burnt, 

Then will I take from the window 

The distaff and 8pindle» 

Them too will I bum, 

And so may bum, and so may burn, 

Those evil tongues ; may they ne*er return 

Unto their gossip till the distaff 

And spindle turn as once before I 

May neither turn again ! 

And so may the vile, unworthy tongues 

Never speak ill of me again. 

And so may bum,'" &c.) 

There is a certain classic Latin air in this invocation, a rude strength and 
an ingenious expression in tomerano — turning and returning — as applied to the 
spinning and the tongues, which is really poetical. But what is most interesting 
in it is its similarity to an incantation described by Ovid. An old woman, he tells 
us, conjures as follows to protect all present against slanderous tongues and the evil 
eye. First she takes with three fingers three pinches of incense, and puts these 
under the threshold in a mouse-hole. Then, while murmuring incantations, she 
wraps woollen thread round a reel of dark colour, while moving seven beans 
in her mouth. Finally she takes the head of a fish called mana (anima) smeared 
with pitch and penetrated with a bronze needle, sews up its mouth, and dries it by 
a fire into which she pours some wine, and drinks the rest of it with the girls 
present. This is the version of Pkellek, but from one line I understand that 
the reel means distaff, spindle, and the leaden penzolono. " Tum cantata ligat cum 
fascio licia plumbo'' 

Preller suggests rJtombo for plumboy but the weight is generally of lead. 
However, all things considered, it is pretty clear that in both ceremonies we have 
three pinches of incense, with the distafT and spindle — all against slanderers. 

The distaff and spindle formed an important part of classic magic, and as 
Preller remarks, "Spinning and turning round belong in their nature to 
sorcery." There is a curious illustration of this in the following Romagnola 
recipe for constructing a magical scarecrow : — 

**To KBEP Goblins and Fairies from stealing Fruit. 

**Take red rags, and with them, and with a distaff and spindle, make an image like a little old woman. 
Put two of these in the field or vineyard. Then put two brooms to make a cross, and say :— 

*' * Se e uno spirito a fare, 

Che la frutta mi viene a sinpare, 

O tu vecchia me li vonrai discacciare, 


Se poi fossero strege ho granate, 

Che in croce vi ho messo, mandate 

Indietro tutte le strege e str^oni, 

Che non vengono a mangiarmi i pomi ! "* 

(*' * If thou, goblui, art a fairy, 

Who hast stol'n my fruit— beware ye ! 
The old woman there shall scare yc ! 
Or should they perchance be witches. 
There's a cross of broomsticks, which is 
Powerful, and with them grapples 
When they come a-stealing apples.' ") 

Should the reader think there is a ring of Herrick in this, he may also 
remark that it is fully as apparent in the Italian as in my translation. 

It is believed in the North that a witch can be discovered by means of fire. 
Wolf {Deutsche Mcihrdun und Sagen) relates that when the children of a peasant 
are bewitched, a fire is made. Should the flames unite and form one — just as in 
the Italian incantation — the first person who enters the house will be the witch. 

** Little Lady Rosy-hood 
In the fire-place lives ; 
Eating only coal and wood, 
Heat to all she gives. 
Bobbing up and dancing, 
Merry all the day, 
But when the wood is ashes. 
Then she no longer flashes, 
And in smoke she flies away." 

The Spell of the Lamp. 

** At the festival of the great mother of all life, Neith, the Egyptians burned lamps in which were oil and 
salt — ^and this signified the new life of the year. For salt symbolised the creation of life, and the light that 
it came forth from darkness into existence ; therefore this did well suit that festival." — Fribdrich, Symbolik 
der Natur. 

The picturesque Italian lamp, consisting of a long upright brass rod, up and 
down which slides the cup with generally three wicks, the rod being supported 
on a base, is of Roman origin, and well known to all travellers. It is used in 
magic as follows, when a babe is bewitched, to find out who has laid a spell 
on it : — 

*' Take a lampada, detta lucema^ such a lamp as is called a lucemat and having lighted all three of its 
wicks put it on a scjuare table with a sharpened knife and three pins. 


<* Then at midnight, seated in a chair by the table, make the sign of the Jettatura (U come). And, 
wishing to know the name of the person who has bewitched anybody, you go to sleep, and it will be retealed 
to you in a dream* But first repeat the following : — 

" * Mary, blessed Virgin, if the illness of this child (or other person) comes from any illness, come to me 
in sleep. Mary, blessed Virgin, I commend myself to you to do me the favour that he may soon recover. 
But if he be bewitched by any one, then* oh devil unchained from hell, extinguish one of these lamps and 
make me to know who was the cause of this illness, and if it be a witch that I may know her name, and that 
I may find her in the form of a cat, and her life at longest may last only three days.* 

" And this being done the one bewitched will recover in three days, and not be so afflicted again." 

This singular mixture of invocation to the Virgin and the devil was further 
confused, apparently by the narrator's imperfect memory of the incantation. 

There is another method of using the lamp, by which names are given or 
signs indicated by the lights going out, each light being first named or numbered. 
This leaves the snufTof the wick smouldering, and magic used this also in incanta- 
tions. Thus Marcellus gives the following (94, Grimm, p. 25) : — 

"Si quem coire notes, fierique cupies in usu venerio tardiorem, de lucerna qure sponte exstinguetur, 
fuftgos adhuc viventcs in potione ejus exstingue, bibeddamque inscio trade : confestim enervabitur.'* 

Which is to the effect that to deprive a man of his virile power you must give 
him wine to drink in which the glowing snuff of a wick has been extinguished. 
In Tuscany there is the following, used for any illness : — 

** When any one is ill, let a lamp be placed in bis room, one burning oil, and small {una lucemina umpre 
se e possibile)^ and when it goes, or bums, out, take the long, round snuff (moccolaia) and put it into wine, and 
give this to the invalid to drink. Should he drink it voluntarily he will get well, if he refuse it it is a sign 
that he will not recover." 

It is here understood that the snuff is put into the wine without the knowledge 
of the patient. I should add to this that every lamp is supposed to have its 
peculiar .spirit, who may be invoked. That is to say, if you buy one of these 
antiquely formed lamps — though any old Roman lamp will answer the purpose — 
and pronounce over it in faith and seriousness an invocation to a spirit — or 
what is better, get some old woman who practises sorcery to do so for you, with 
incense — then you will have by you a household spirit, elf, or fairy, who may be 
consulted in many ways. And as people say in England that a fire, with its life- 
like moving flames, is " company," so the Italian girl, as she sits and sews, finds a 
fairy companion in the mysterious and silent, yet animated light of the lamp. 
Which wick-fire seemed so mysterious to the Rosicrucian Lord Blaize that he 
wrote a book on it, and on the blessed secrets of salt, in which book the Clothes- 
Philosophy of Sartor ^esarttis was clearly anticipated. If you want such a triple 
lamp, reader, you must buy an old one, and it will cost from three to five francs. 



HERE exist among the Tuscan 

witches a very great number of 

spells, the object of which is to 

injure or even kill enemies, and 

there is reason to believe that 

these are the most ancient of all. 

For the further we go back behind the genial embodiment of the forces of Nature 

and Polytheism the darker and more vindictive does sorcery become. This may 

be tested by races still existent. For just as the babe in the womb is said to pass 

through the stages corresponding to those of lower forms of animals, to the higher, 


so we may see the primitive or prehistoric man more or less modified by soil 
or climate, in the Fuegian, Papuan, or Australian, and specially in the African 
races. Among all these the horrible old witchcraft, which aims far more at death 
and injury and revenge than at doing good, predominates over benevolence. And 
that there should still be so much of it, employing the earliest known forms of 
sorcery, in Italy, is an almost conclusive proof of its antiquity. As animals must 
destroy life before they can enjoy it, so man seems in his animal stage to have 
found his first great pleasure in injuring or killing others. 

It is perfectly true that races in a low or primitive state of society, even 
if separate and without intercourse, would, under similar conditions, develop the 
same superstitions or myths. But it does not follow from this that there has been 
no " borrowing " or tradition. On the contrary, an impartial examination of all 
such folk-lore with the most scrupulous comparative analysis, shows that there has 
been an immense, if often mysterious, amount of transmission, and that the theory 
of innate ideas — or what amounts to the same thing — must be very sparingly 

It may, however, certainly be conceded that the Romagnola spells did not 
grow of themselves of late years, but really sprang from ancient sources. For 
those who now hold them live in the same country as the Etruscans or old Latins, 
who were their progenitors, and as they retain innumerable customs of their 
ancestors — as recorded by classic writers — none but the most captious critic can 
be disposed to contest closely the possibility of their having inherited their super- 

I have such a number of these spells to do harm that I can give only a few 
of them. The first is as follows. It is from a large manuscript collection made 
for me by an expert It was taken from the archives of the witches, that is to 
say copied, as were many of these recipes from others which are jealously 
preserved from publicity, as the wise woman naturally prefers to impart her 
wisdom viva voce. The " evil " in this case was naively explained as that which was 
done to the man's mistress by withdrawing his love 1 

**To DO AN B,w\i.— per fare una malia — so that a man may be drawn from loving another woman, and 
only be attached to his wife — take three Indian chestnuts or wild horse-chestnuts {marroni cT/ndi^ marroni 
selvaiici) and powder them fine, ^&fine as possible^ (Marcellus lays stress on the same trituration.) ** Then 
take a new earthen pot, and put into it the powder, and mix with it three drops of the husband's blood, or of 
the woman whom he loves, and put this blood with the rest, and, if it l)e possible, add to this as much more 
blood of either as can be obtained, and to this a half litre of spirits (a full pint) and some water, and boil 
it in a bagno maria {da/mum Marut)^ that is, the pot in another pot of water, and when it shall have boiled 
for a quarter of an hour, put the pot under the bed, and then at midnight, the wife, should leave the bed and 
bathe the head of the husband a little, in the form of a cross, also bathe sotto negli in testicoli^ and say : — 


** ' Non bagno te, bagno il tuo cuore, 
Che sempre piu tu mi possa amare» 
E piii tu non mi possa lasciare, 
E con altre donne tu non possa andare, 
E quell' aflkre 
G>n altre donne non ti si possa alzare.* 

(** < I bathe not thee, I bathe thy heart, 

That thy love from me may ne*er depart f 
That thou shalt to me be true for aye ! 
Nor with other women go thy way. 
Nor deal with them, be it as it may.') 

** And this must be done for seven nights, thrice in a night. Then throw the pot and all its contents into 
a running stream, saying : — 

" • Butto via questo pento', 
£ butto via il pensiero 
Del mio marito per altre, 
E che porti tutto I'amore 
A me che io pure tanto I'amo.' 

(** * Now I cast this pot away. 

With my husband's thought to stray, 
To others' love that I may see 
Him true, as I shall ever belO 

*' And having thrown it into the water, walk away without looking behind you, and for three days after 
do not pass by that place." 

"Rivoque fluenti — jace ne respexeris" — "by the running water — look not 
back agaia" This portion is as old as the days of ViRGiL, and I doubt not 
that the whole spell was ancient in his time. 

The next is entitled. " To INJURE AN Enemy " : — 

" To make a man or woman suffer, take a peppercorn and a [illegible], such as is found in the fields, and 
boil it with the hair of the man or woman and repeat : — 

** * Non faccio bollire quest! capelli. 
Ma faccio bollire questa robba, 
Unita a I'anima e il cuore 
Di quello che non possa pid vivere, 
E non possa pih stare. 
In mezzo alle strege 
Tu ti debbi sempre trovare ! ' 

(** * I do not boil the hair alone, 

But all these things together thrown, 
With his heart and soul that he. 
May perish and for ever be 
Only in witches* company.'") 


The success of such charms depends chiefly on the seriousness or earnestness 
with which they are pronounced. When the witch utters them for herself or for 
another, she does it with an air of terrible vindictiveness, such as would cause any 
one to shudder. In a community where everybody is very superstitious, and 
where even the established religion earnestly teaches the terrors of exorcism and 
excommunication and the virtues of amulets, it is to be expected that the ignorant 
will also dread the same in another kind of sorcery. Therefore if a man believes 
that he has been or is to be Voodooed, be it by priest or witch, he is in mortal 
terror ; nay, he may even die of apprehension. 

Another charm is as follows : — 

" TcLke a toad. Obtain some of the hairs of your victim. Tie them to the left leg of the toad, and put 
the animal into a covered pot. As it suffers the enemy will suffer, when it dies he will die. But if he is only 
to suffer and not die, remove the hair from the leg of the toad and let it go." 

To torture an animal and cause its sufferings to pass by means of spells to a 
human being is common in witchcraft Such is the following : — 

** To put misfortune ({/ maU auguro) into a house, so that all things may go wrong, take a black cat and 
cut away all its skin, for so much as it suffers so much will the person suffer whom you would bewitch.' And 
etting the cat go, say : — 

" ' Ti ho tagliato il pelo, 

Perche tu mandi alia malora.' 

(" ' I have cut the skin from thee 

That thou shalt carry misery — to .*) 

** Then name the one whom you wish to suffer. Then take the skin or hair, with nettles, skins of Indian 
figs with the prickles, powdered horse^scrapings, pepper, wild chestnuts, carrots, and garlic, and with these 
the hairs of the person, and pulverise all very finely (fine^ fine^ che sia possibile). Then take linseed and hemp- 
seed, seeds of melons and pumpkins, and put them all in a black glazed pot, which place on the hole of a 
privy. Then take two candles tied with black and red thread, and let it remain for three days, first lighting 
the candles, and as soon as they are burned out renew them. And when three days are passed, then, exactly 
at midnight, put the pot on the fire, and say : — 

'* * Non faccio boUire questa pentola, 
Ma faccio bollire il corpo e I'anima 
Di. . . .' 

(** ' It is not this pot which I boil, 
But I boil the body and soul 
* Of. . . .') 

' A bad trick has its power greatly increased if the materials (red clover, sulphur, pounded glass, and red 
flannel, or the red seeds of the Indian turnip) are tied up in a bit of skin torn from the haunch of a live cat. — 
M* A. Owen, 



*^ This liquid is then put into a small bottle, and thrown into the house of the one to whom you wish 
harm, and from that time that person will have no peace.*' 

This amiable pot-pourri is interesting from the character of its ingredients, all 
of which are found in the ancient recipes for injuring enemies. Thus carrots as a 
species of rapum^ rapa^ or rapttanus^ by name are allied to rabiOy rabo^ pairuD^ to 
quarrel. " Whence it is," says Friedrich, "a symbol of discord." There is much 
curious tradition showing its connection with evil and evil spirits. 

A short and simple method of setting people by the ears is to buy some of 
the herb known as discordia: " And when you wish for a vendetta" (no uncommon 
want in Italy), " throw it into a house, and say : — 

** * Non butto questo pezzo di roba, 
Ma butto la discordia, 
Che non possia dare piil 
Pace in questa casa! 

I »i 

(*" It is not this thing which I throw, 
But discord, that they ne'er may know 
Peace in this house — so let it go 1 ' ") 

Also the following : — 

'< Far an Enemv* Take salt and pepper and put it into his clothing, or in his house, and say : — 

'* ' Vi metto questo pepe, 
E questo sale, 
Che in vita vostra 
Pace e felicita 
Non vi possa dare.' 

1 1> 

(*' ' I put this pepper on you, 
And this salt thereto. 
That peace and happiness 
You never more may know.' ") 

Pepper is supposed to cause ill-feeling and promote quarrels. " Les anciens 
livres des songes," says De Gubernatis {Mytfiologie des Plantes^ vol. ii.), "priten- 
dent que le poivre vu en songe est de mauvais augure, et une source des querelles 
dans la maison et dehors, et toutes sortes de d^plaisirs." 

I have two spells for bewitching people on their wedding-day, so that they 
may be utterly miserable, and never agree. One is as follows : — 

*' If you desire that a woman shall never find happiness in marriage, take on the wedding-day an orange 
flower, and put into it a little fine salt, pepper, and cummin, with scon^ordia {disc^rdia), and Mtad) this to the 
bride's back, saying : — 


<< * Tu sia maladetta ! 
Tu non possa, avere 
Un giorno di pace ! 
E quando vai 
Avanti l*altare, 
Tu possa essere gia pentiti 
Del passa che tu fai t ' 

("*Be thou accursed I 
Mayst thou never know 
A single day of peace ! 
And even when thou dost go 
To kneel before the altar, 
Mayst thou feel forsaken, 
And bitterly r^ret 
The step which thou hast taken ! * *') 

In another, si deve prendere del sangue menstruale cki viene alia dotma, mixed 
with rue and cummin, boil all in pure water, and make it into comfits. Give these 
to the bride and gproom on their wedding-day. And while preparing the comfits, 
repeat : — 

" Faccio queste confette, 
Per che portano 
La maledizione, 
E la scomunica, 
Ai due spose ! 

(E pronunclaro qui loro nome), 
Che non possono vivere uniti ! 
Tutti giorni possono leticare! 
E uniti un anno * 

Non possono stare ! 
Questa e la contezza 
Che se devono dare. 
Basta ! " 

(** I make these comfits, may they bear 
Deep affliction, malediction, 
Here upon this married pair ! 
(Here the names are given) 
May they never be united ! 
May they quarrel every day ! 
May their marriage bond be slighted 
Ere a year has passed away I 
This shall be the life between them. 
Let that life be as it mayl 
Enough ! ") 


Which last word is doubtless repeated by the reader. I have more of these 
spells of black witchcraft too abominable to repeat, therefore I am glad that my 
limits forbid me to give further cursing. Very nearly allied to these spells are 
those levelled against witches, and others intended to bring faithless lovers, 
male or female, back to their forsaken ones. 

The malediction is the mainstay of witchcraft. BROWNING has made his 
Spanish monk say : — 

*' If hate killed men, Brother Laurence, 
God*s blood could not mine kill you ! " 

The strege believe, however, as do all among whom they live, that concentrated, 
intense venomous hatred, or will, allied to spells can kill. And there are many 
who, believing themselves to be thus hated, do die. And when the hate has really 
been awakened by a deep wrong, be it from conscience or the mysterious working 
of destiny, and causes beyond our ken, it is wonderful to see how often the arrow 
strikes — sooner or later ! Believe in nothing if thou wilt, neither in the heaven 
above or in the earth below, but " cast up the account of Orcus — the account 
thereof cast up," and if there is one on earth whom thou hast deeply, deliberately 
zvrongedy thou shalt find thy Nemesis. " Dread him whom thou hast struck." 

There is a generally prevailing popular opinion carefully inculcated by 
teachers of religion, to the effect that the man who seeks for revenge is always 
entirely in the wrong. This is, in spirit, allied to the republican doctrine that the 
minority have no rights — or simply vce victis ! It was all very pretty in a rough 
past, but at present it cannot be denied that our laws, legal or social — as religion 
has made them — protect us only against the gross outrages, such as are incident to 
a state beyond which we have passed. For a very great proportion of the bitterest 
and most biting injuries which the cultivated man can endure there is no legal or 
social punishment whatever. This, like the precept to endure all wrongs patiently — 
or to turn the other cheek — is against human nature and justice. It might possibly 
be enforced in a monastery, but it is inapplicable to life in general. And thus 
it is that the witch, the Shaman, and the lawyer and priest get a living. There 
would be fewer of them if we had less exalted ideals. If we were to sell all we 
have and give it to the poor, we should, so far from doing any good, build up an 
immense army of beggars, and the general application of the principle of turning 
the other cheek to be smitten, would simply develop bullying, cruelty and 
smiting, beyond all toleration. It was indeed very extensively preached by monks 
during the Middle Ages, with the result of creating more cruelty, torture, and 
outrage than had ever before been known in any civilised countries. In due pro^ 


portion, or rather out of all proportion, to meek virgins, Beato Angelicos, and 
illimitable saintly charities, were the squeezings of the last farthing from peasants, 
rapine, torture and murder. The ideal of excess in goodness produced its 
natural result in excess of evil. The softer the light the blacker the shadows, and 
it is a rule, with little exception, that in galleries where Angelicos and Memlings, and 
all such works of " ineffable sweetness " and divine tenderness abound, there too we 
find revolting pictures of breaking on the wheel, flaying alive, scalding, disjoint- 
ing, and roasting, executed with a genial strength which shows that such subjects 
were dear to the hearts of all in those days. One of the most horrible inventions 
of legal mediaeval torture was in the likeness of the blessed Virgin. 

The Spell of the Holy Stone and the Salagrana. 

** Look through a holy stone 
And see the fairies pass. 
O a violet blue 
Is a fairy shoe ! 
Blue violets in the grass." 

The reader is probably aware that if he be at the bottom of a deep uncovered 
well he can see the stars at noonday. Or that if he look through a long tube 
he can distinguish objects more clearly — for it is not generally known that all 
the properties of a telescope are not entirely in the glasses. Nay, even a small 
roll of cardboard like a funnel helps us to see pictures in a gallery. And if we 
only look through our hand in a cylinder, or shade our eyes, or draw the lids 
together, we, by keeping off the " side-lights," improve our vision. The reader 
who wishes to preserve his sight unimpaired should never read by night facing a 
light. Then he will have a double strain on the eyes, one from the light, and one 
from the type. Let him read with his back to all light. 

It was the discovery of this principle that led to an old belief that by looking 
through certain consecrated rings, or stones with holes in them, or a wreath of 
verbena, one could improve the sight, or see things invisible at ordinary times. 
How far the imagination aided in this with people who habitually " see visions and 
dream dreams" I cannot say. But the ceremony by which it is effected in Tuscany 
is as follows : — 

" To see spirits, take a stone from the sea, one which has a hole in it, un buco tondo—^ round hole — ^then 
go to a biirying-ground, and, standing at a little distance from it, close one eye, and, looking at the cemetery 
with the other, through the stone, repeat : — 


" ' In Dome di San Pietro, 
E di San Biagio ! 
Fate che da questa pietra 
lo possa vedere che forma 
Fanno gli spiritu' 

'* Then repeat a de projundis thus : — 

" ' De profundis clamao, 
In te Domine, Domine 1 
£t Domine» et fiantatis, 
Bugsein et regina matema, 
E^ognis Domine I ' 

English : — 

" ' In the name ot great Saint Peter 
And for Saint Blasius' sake, 
By this stone I fain would see, 
What form the spirits take t ' 

*' Then you may see by means of that stone the spirits which have no peace, all in flame, chaminare in 
persotia chome quando erano vitn — wandering in such forms as they were when alive — some like priests in 
white or black garments, some in black, some as friars or an old woman with a torch in her hand. And of 
these are many who, being avaricious in their life, left behind them hidden treasures, the thought of which gives 
them no rest. 

" Then if any one who is bold and brave, will, while they are talking among themselves, speak out and 
say, ' If in the name of God you would be at rest (salvo) tell me where your treasure is, and what I must do 
to obtain it, so shall ye be saved ! * 

" Then if he be poor and would be rich, it is enough that he have no fear to do this thing, and this is an 
easy way to become wealthy. " 

Truly, "easy enough if it be true" — and I would remark by the way that the old 
woman with the torch in her hand is a classical character. But there is much strange 
lore as regards stones with holes in them which is worth studying. It begins 
apparently in India. There are found by the river Gundak in Nepaul, stones called 
Salagrama^ which are regarded as very sacred.^ Once when Vishnu the Preserver 
was followed by Shiva the Destroyer he implored the aid of Maia (Illusion or 
Glamour) who turned him to a stone. Through this stone, Shiva, in the form of a 
worm, bored his way. But Vishnu escaped, and when he had resumed his form he 
commanded that this stone of delusion [scUa-mayd) should be worshipped. As 
they are found by Salipura or Salagra, they receive their name from the latter. 
They are generally about the size of an orange, and are really a kind of ammonite. 

' NORK, Etypioiogisch-symholUch^ Mythologisches Realworterbuchy vol. iv., p. 198. WiLFORD, Asiatic 
^^j^arr^^j, vol. xiv., p. 413. Fribdrich, Synib. der Natur^ p. 124. Temme, Vblksagen v. Pommim und 
Rogen^ p. 125. Also a monograph pamphlet by G. Oppert. 


In the later Edda we read that Odin once, in order to steal the mead of 
poetry, turned himself into a worm and went his way through a hole in a rock. 
Hence all stones with holes in them were called Odin-stones, or, in England, holy- 
stones. There are many superstitions attached to them, as is well known to every 
one who is at all familiar with British folk-lore, but what is most important is the 
fact that as an amulet against witchcraft or nightmare, and in being lucky-stones, 
they correspond exactly to the Salagrama stones of India. I know of a family in 
Yorkshire which has a stone in the shape of a harp with a hole in it, which always 
hangs behind the front door of their house. What is to be specially noted in the 
Hindu myth is a principle which appears very strongly in the Norse and Algonkin 
mythologies. This is that of Maia, or Glamour, or Illusion. Thor is fooled by it 
when he goes to Jotunheim ; it plays all the time like summer-lightning through 
the midnight mysteries of Norse tradition ; even Oddo the monk in his life of 
King Olof declares that all the incredible marvels narrated in the old legends were 
due to it. It is quite as clearly enounced and illustrated in the Algonkin sagas 
which were in all probability directly derived from the Norsemen. 

It is therefore interesting to know that this reverence for the holed or holy 
worm-stones is found in a very peculiar form in Tuscany. Once I had sent to me 
from the Romagna as a remarkable gift from the witch-company, a stone, which 
I was assured had been, I may say, worshipped for a very long time. That it 
had been really reverenced was evident in its being surrounded by the little 
ornaments of coloured bread-paste, &c., which we often see on images of saints 
and the infant Jesus. It was a piece of stalagmite full of cavities. I have since 
seen such stones for sale in a curiosity-shop at a price out of all proportion to their 
value, because they were amulets, and again I found one which had been evidently 
carried and lost 

Flints with holes in them, as well as ammonites, are common in England, but 
not at all in Italy, therefore the stalagmite has been substituted. 

I conjecture, without proof, that the English saying, " He can see through a 
mill-stone as far as any man " really had its origin in the belief that by looking 
through the hole in a mill-stone the sight was improved. As every mill-stone has 
a hole through it there is not much sense in the literal acceptation of the proverb. 
But if looking through the hole improved the sight, then he whose sight was most 
improved would see furthest. 

Since writing the foregoing I have learned much which is very curious 
relating to the stalagmites which are regarded with such reverence in Tuscany. I 
had found one in the street which, on being examined by experts, was pronounced 
to be sin undoubted excellent amulet But to make it all right it was re- 


consecrated in a proper manner by having the appropriate incantation pronounced 
over it, and by its being put into a red bag with cummin. But what was my 
astonishment to learn that the proper name for such a stone is a Salagrana^ which 
certainly very much resembles the Indian word Salagrama. I was particular in 
my inquiry from many persons, and received the following statement in relation 
to it :— 

" Salagrana is a stone which much resembles in form a sponge. It is called a atone, but is not stone, 
for it is the dung of the animals called ronbrigoli (lombrici, or earthworms), which only eat earth and throw up 
little hills which take the form of a stone, or rather of a sponge, which petrify. They are commonly found in 
grottoes. They keep away witches. One should make a small red bag, and put the salagrawL in it and with 
it gold and silver and a little handful of concordia (an herb), and this sack must be kept a secret from every- 
body. And first say : — 

** * Questo sacchetino bello e preparato 
Mi e Btato regolato, 
E sempro lo voglio conservare 
Perche voi altre strege indegne. 
Non mi potete ammaliare, 
Perche nella pietra che conticne, 
II mio sacchetino sono tante grane, 
Che non potete arrivare 
A contare ; 

£ contiene pure tanti buchi 
Che non vi fanno vacare. 
La soglio dell uscio 
£ cosi la malia 
Non mi potete dare, 
Altro che fortuna in casa mia 
Non mi puo restare, 
Fortuna d*interesse come pure d'amore, 
Tutta quella che mi richiede il cuore ! * " 

(" * Here the bog I hold and see, 
Bag presented unto me, 
That no wicked witch may come 
To do me evil in my home. 
In the stone which it contains, 
Are so many veins and grains, 
That no witch can count them all, 
And so many fissures small, 
That she cannot cross the door 
And do me evil any more ; 
May I have good luck and love, 
Which I prize all things above ! * ") 

The exact resemblance of the stalagmite to the heap of an earthworm is 
remarkable, and it was very natural that it should be supposed they were thus 



made. But curious as is the coincidence of salagrana and salagratna^ there is 
something far more interesting in the incantation. This is the passage which 
declares that " there are so many grains that no witch can count them all," and 
" so many holes that she cannot cross the door." This involves a very ancient 
and mysterious belief that when a witch is confronted with a great number of seeds 
or grains, she can go no further in her work till she has counted them every one. 
Thus all the world over — as among the negroes in America — it is believed that if 
a man is hag-ridden, he must put a great number of small grains of some kind in 
the form of a cross about his bed. Then the witch coming cannot get to him till 
she has counted every one. And in the Arabian Nights' Entertainnienty Amina the 
ghost must eat her rice, grain by grain, with a bodkin. 

A traveller in Persia has observed that the patterns of carpets are made 
intricate, so that the evil eye, resting on them and following the design, 
loses its power. This was the motive of all the interlaces of Celtic and 
Norse designs. When the witch sees the salagrana her glance is at once be- 
wildered with its holes and veins. As I have elsewhere remarked, the herb 
rosalaccia — not the corn-poppy, but a kind of small house-leek, otherwise called 
Rice of the Goddess of the Four Winds — derives its name from looking ere it 
unfolds, like confused grains of rice^ and when a witch sees it she cannot enter 
till she has counted them, which is impossible ; therefore it is used to protect 
rooms from witchcraft Tiie reader cannot fail to observe that this recalls the 
story of Amina and also the salagrana. That " the Tuscan word may have come 
from the gypsies " is a suggestion by Senator D. Comparetti. 

In addition to the resemblance of the words salagrana and salagrama we 
have the very curious fact that the former is believed, though erroneously, to 
be made by worms, while the holes in the latter, according to the tradition, were 
made by a worm. Thus, quite apart from the similarity of names, we have the far 
more singular coincidence of worm-stones worshipped in both India and Italy. 
The Italian salagrana has not always^ literally, holes in it, but it presents that 
granulated hole-like or corrugated appearance which is supposed to bewilder the 
evil eye.' 

The Spell of the Shell and the Tone of the Stone. 

*' Shake one and it awakens, then apply 
Its polished lips to your attentive ear, 
And it remembers its august abodes, 
And murmurs as the ocean murmurs there." 

* This chapter on the salagrana, somewhat extended, was read as a paper before the Oriental Congress in 
London, 189 1. 



" Fingebantur autem ille cecinisse ; ut est in veteri epigrammate de cantu Sirenum. 

*' Quod tuba, quod litui quod cornua rauca quarantur 
Quodque leves calami quod suavis cantat." 

Johannes PRiETORius. 1665. 

Few persons are aware of the ease with which the ear may be trained to 
apparently conduce imaginary sounds to the perceptive faculty. The fairy who 
supplies us with images by means of hearing must be a very credulous little lady, 
and easily imposed upon. If we only believe^ and have our attention called to any 
continuous sound, we can imagine that we hear words in it, and if the reader 
will experiment for himself he will be astonished at the success of the trial. Thus, 
if an audible draught of wind be blowing and six persons in a room hear it, and 
five of them converse together to the effect that they can distinguish in the sound 
certain words, they can bring the sixth to firmly believe that he also hears 

The gypsies in Hungary {vide Gypsy Sorcery) believe, or make others believe, 
that by listening to a shell words may be heard. The dupe hears the sound which 
is always heard in a large shell. Then he is blindfolded, and a shell substituted 
which has a hole at one end, to which a long tube is attached. Through this the 
gypsy speaks. One of these shells with the tube attached was shown to me by 
a gypsy woman near Budapest 

Very closely allied to this telephone-tube is the following, which I learned 
from a Tuscan witch : — 

" For the shell you take a thread or cord which is tied to a tree, it must be three or five braccU in length, 
or more, but always in uneven number, and an end is tied to a shell, and you say : — 

" • O Spirito della Conchiglia ! 
Una cosa a te vengo demandare, 
Purche tu mi possa dare 
Soddisfazione si questa grazia 
Che io desidero, 
Tu mi farai, 
Da questa conchiglia 
Al mio orecchio 
Tre cose mi farai sentire : 

Gallo cantare. 

Cane abbiare, 

£ gatto miolare. 
Si queste tre cose io sentiro, 

£ segno che la grazia 

Che io desidero, 

Sicuro io avro.* " 


" * O Spirit of the Shell ! 
A favour I desire, 
I pray thee give to me 
The thing which I require, 
And in this thy shell, 
Which I hold to my ear, 
There are three sounds, and one 
Of them I fain would hear : 
The crow of a cock, 
A dog barking for me, 
The mew of a cat ; 
If one of the three 
I shall clearly hear, 'twill be a sign 
That what I seek shall ere long be mine ! ' ") 

This is obscure, but one thing is clear — that the cord is a telephonic line 
used to convey the voice of the sorceress, just as it is carried through the tube. 
So they work the oracle. 

In a little work called II Libretto di Stregonerie^ printed in Florence — "The 
Book of Witchcraft " — I find another method of divining by sound, or really by 
auricular deception. It is called Lamante nel pozzo^ or — 

** Tjie Lover in the Well. 

" Take a stone of rather large size, as round as you can get it, and go by night to a covered well ; it is 
best if it were in the middle of some field or garden. And just as the clock strikes one, cast the stone, con gran 
frcuasso — with as much noise as you can make — into the water. 

" Then listen with care to hear the sound produced by the fall of the stone. Although it may be a little 
obscure or confused, and not always very intelligible, yet with a little patience and attention one can detect 
in the sound which the stone makes in the water the name of the person whom one is to marry, or else an 
answer to any question.'* 

From a much better — that is, from a living — authority, I learn that this charm 
may be so executed as to injure an enemy. Go to a running river, and cast in the 
stone as violently and spitefully as you can, saying : — 

" Non butto questa pietra, 
Ma butto il bene e la fortuna 
Delia persona . . . che il bene 
Gli vada nelPacqua corrente 
£ cosi non abbia piii bene." 

(** It is not a stone which I throw, 
But all the fortune here below 
Of (here the name) as the waters flow 
And as they roll from this river*s shore, 
May his happiness pass for evermore!") 


There was an ancient way of divining by means of stones thrown into water, 
but it appealed to the sight, and not to the ear. The author of the Tractatus 
Magicus (1611) gives it without reference, but his authorities are almost all from 
classic writers. 

''Varioe ejus sunt species divinationis per aquas . . . alia conjectis in aquam stativam tribus lapillis et 
observatis gyris, qui trifariam invicem implexi circa lapillas sumitur." 

That is, throw three pebbles into the water, and judge from the rings which 
they make how matters will go. Which I have done with only this conclusion : that 
the circles are much like men's reputations for deeds which are very great — it may 
be at first in one place, whence they soon vanish — ^spreading afar, but growing 
thinner as they spread. Yes, yes : — 


Glory is like a circle in the water." 

It was anciently believed that all stones had in them a voice which could be 
drawn out in different ways. In an interesting article on Divination in the 
St James's Gazette^ February 27, 1886, which I have elsewhere cited, I find the 
following : — 

" We have it on the distinguished authority of many sixteenth and seventeenth- 
century magicians that Helenus predicted the fall of Troy by the form of divina- 
tion known as " Lithomancy.*' During the night a number of stones were washed 
by torchlight at a spring, and it was essential to the success of the experiment 
that the person handling them should be veiled. Several prayers having been 
recited and numerous genuflexions made, the stones, in tones sweet and low, gave 
answer to the question that had been put." 

Truly there are sermons in atones, and a legend tells us that they know a 
good sermon when they hear one. An Irish saint, who was blind, was once 
induced by a mischievous boy to preach to a multitude of cobble-stones, and when 
he ended all the lapides cried ^'Amen ! " 

The Spell of the Snail. 

Snails were regarded from very ancient times as mysterious creatures. For 
as they leave a slimy trail behind them, it was supposed that they also left in 
it their life. So in Psalm Iviii. 8, it is said of unjust judges : " As a snail which 
melteth, let every one of them pass away." As the slug or shell-less snail 
quite disappears when salt is put on it, they naturally appeared to be diabolical, 
because devils cannot endure salt. And there is a very ancient species of 


divination, which consisted in putting snails near sticks and in judging from 
the one which they ascended how an affair would result For quas esse 
androgynas putat Herodotus, they are hermaphrodites — tfterefore capable of 
determining double or doubtful events. 

This old divination by snails still exists in Tuscany. It is as follows : — 

" To determine if a lover be faithful take a chiocciola or lunuua (lumaca^ snail or slug), such as are 
in gardens, and which leave a streak as of silver behind them. 

"Take one of these and a vase, and much ivy and vine leaves and calamint, and arrange the vase 
on a tree like an umbrella (reversed ?), and within it put two portraits — that of the lover and of the lady — that 
is, of the one whom he is supposed to woo — one on one side of the vase, one on the other, and cover it 
with a white cloth, and put within the snail, and leave it there for three days, having Hrst said : — 

*' ' In nome del Padre, 
E del Figlio, 
E dello spirito maligno, 
Che mi possa dire la verita, 
Se il mio marito (o amante) 
A una altra donna ? ' 

(" *In the name of the Father, 
And of the Son, 
And of the Evil Spirit, 
May they declare to me the truth 
If my husband or lover 
Has another love?*) 

'* Then after three days examine whether the snail has gone to the picture of the man or the woman. 
And if it be on the former, he b true ; but if on the woman, it is a sign that he is unfaithful." 

IL Canto del Gallo. 

One day I asked one of the wise women if she thought there had been much 
change of late years among the contadini as regarded education and new ideas. 
She replied : — 

**Z?a vero^ Signore, it is not now as it was with all these old affairs. Things go better perhaps 
with the contadini^ but they are getting new ideas and hardly know what to think. If anything went 
wrong once, it was always a ma/occAio^ihert was bad fortune put upon them and they conjured it 
away. And there were always good signs — if a cock crowed it was a good omen. Then they said : 
quando il gallo canto : — 

***0 bel gallo — tu che canti 

La mattina alio spuntar del alba ! 

Canta in cortesia. 

La buona fortuna per casa mia ! * 


('' * Beautiful cock, who dost sing 
In the morning at day-spring, 
Sing now, I pray to thee, 
Good luck to mine and me ! * ") 

The witch was right in saying, or in meaning to say, that these omens were 
once very serious matters which entered into every phase of life. And cock- 
crowing was a very cheering and important omen to all Christians. Thus the 
Reverend Georgius Strigenitius, who was Pfarrlurr Super mtenderiSy Thum- 
prediger and Assessor of the Churfurstliche Sachsische Consistorii at Meissen, 
in the seventeeth century, preached in his Gallinacio^ or sermon, on the crowing 
of the cock of the high priest in Jerusalem, as follows : — 

" Other birds serve mankind with their song only for joy and merriment. But the domestic cock helps 
housekeeping and other work, so that it shall not be neglected." 

And the ancient bishop Ambrosius (1. 5, Hexam.y c. 24) tells us in soft Latin 
which is almost a song : *' Est galli suavis in noctibus, nee solum suavis sed etiam 
utilis. . . . Hoc canente lutro suas relinquit insidias. Hoc ipso Lucifer excitatus 
oritur, ccelumque illuminat." 

With much more which I thus translate : — 

" It is a pleasant thing to hear the cock 
Crow in the night, and, what is better still. 
The sound is profitable unto man : 
For as a trusty watchman he awakes 
And cheers the sorrowful and troubled soul, 
And tells the weary wanderer on his way 
So much of night is gone. And when he crows 
The thief alarmed ceases his evil work, 
And with that sound the Morning Star awakes 
And spreads his brilliant light o'er all the sky 
In ruddy glory. Then the mariner 
Is glad at heart, and sings because he knows 
That as the day comes on the wind abates, 
And the wild sea grows calm ; and when he crows 
The pious man at once begins his prayers, 
And earnest scholars turn them to their books — 
Legendi quoque munus insSaurai — 
Because the light has come and they can read; 
And when the cock crowed thrice Saint Peter saw 
How great his sin had been — which he before 
Had twice denied. And when he crows, 
Hope wakes in every heart — the invalid 


^gris levaiur incommodum^ he 
Picks up a heart ; the sorely wounded man 
Feeb less pain in his wounds — and for a time 
The burning agonies of fever cease." 

It is a good sign when cocks crow often through the nightJ Which the 
Boeotians knew (Pliny, 1. lo, c. 25), and it inspired them so much that they con- 
quered the Spartans. " For when the cock is beaten he does not crow." Which 
Johannes PRiEXORiUS declares is a fond and vain thing whereat all the people 
should say " Tush ! ", because Moses forbade the Jews to give heed to, or divine 
by, the songs of birds : recalling a passage in one of Lever's novels, in which the 
hero is fined at Trinity College, Dublin, for keeping " singing birds " — the birds 
in question being game-cocks. However, we may still believe with SHAKESPEARE 
that on Christmas Eve : — 

*' The bird of dawning singeth all night long." 

But good Ambrosius, as his writings show, was far more familiar with the 
New Testament than with the Old. However, the Jews made an exception 
in favour of the cock, since in the Talmud it is said that when it crows one 
should say, " Blessed be the Eternal One who has given unto the cock under- 
standing to know day from night." And, as Friedrich sagaciously remarks, 
" Because they had no watches in those days, therefore in every house they 
kept a cock." 

Which reminds me of a dream which I once actually had in Brighton 
in the year 1871. I beheld in a vision a certain man, and he said unto me, 
** In the ancient times men knew the hour only by the crowing of cocks, now they 
ascertain it by mechanical means." To which I, scornful that he should tell 
me such a well-known thing as if I were a child, replied, "Yes — I see. Now we 
ask what o'clock it is — then they inquired what o^cock it was." And in great 
joy I awoke. 

Apropos of this wondrous dream I will narrate another, which is even 
stranger. It was in this city of Florence, in the month of January, 1891. 
I thought I was in a brilliant French circle of a century ago, whose corypJUe 
was a witty and beautiful duchess. One gets into good society in dreams. And 
there was present a gentleman who was far from being clever, but whose son, 
who was not only witty himself but the cause of wit in others, inspired him 

' It is a very bad omen if you hear a cock crow before midnight. It betokens unpleasant surprises before 
the next night, so say all negroes. — Note by Mary A. Owen. 


by a suggestion to say a very good thing. Whereupon our hostess, with exquisite 
piquancy, said to the young man, ** Mais Monsieur, voila une merveille sans 
pareille — vous avez absolument fecond^ votre p^re ! " 

It haunted me that this dream (which I recalled as distinctly when I 
awoke as if it had been printed) was directly derived from, and suggested 
by, what was previously written by me on cocks and magic, but I could not 
at first make out the connection, when all at once it occurred to me, that in 
ancient days it sometimes happened that a cock, inspired by a demon, laid an egg 
from which was hatched a basilisk — a creature of terrible brilliancy — i.e.y a bon 
mot — thus he vfdisfecond^: and it was this which the duchess (who had probably 
been talking with Saint Germain) had in her mind. 

For, as Lactantius observes (I have a copy of his works — edition Geneva, 
1613 — which I bought for threepence from the wheelbarrow before mentioned), 
the demons, who are neither angels nor men, are intelligent brings— peritos ac 
rertim scios. " They invented astrology and Etruscan divination, augury, oracles, 
magic, mythology, and moreover taught men how to make ornate and feigned 
images of exquisite beauty of kings long passed away, and endowed them with 
other names." Hence temples and new images again — ht7ic templa devaimitiir 
et vov(B imagines consecrantur — therefore it must have been easy for them to 
make a basilisk, or a joke. Then they rose to be gods, as they had once been 
men. Which is the doctrine of Euhemerus of Messina, which pervades all this 
Romagnola mythology. 

'*As cocks were eggs in earlier humble state. 
So gods were men, though now they l)e so great." 

" Namque Deus, Daemon et heros, unus idemque erat rudibus hominibus " — 
God, devil, and hero were all the same thing to the rude men of yore, as 
Elias Schedius declares. 

Divination was naturally enough attached — perhaps without much tradition — 
to a bird which so mysteriously knew the time of day or night. 

A writer in the St, James's Gazette (February 17, 1886) once set this forth 
** fully and finely " as follows : — 

*' Divination is among the most ancient of the black arts, and for ages it was one of the most popular. Of 
the scores of divinatory processes known to the mediaeval magicians the divining-rod is almost the only one 
which remains in use among civilised peoples. It is by no means the most interesting and curious ; and, as so 
much has been written upon this method of finding water, it may well give place here to the description 
of some more uncanny fashions of divination. Some of these forgotten rites date from the formulation 
of cabalism ; others were invented by the wizards of the golden days of magic. They were of all sorts : 
simple, fantastic, revolting. The secrets of the future and the history of the past could alike be laid bare by 
the order in which a cock pecked up a given number of grains of wheat, by writing the name of a suspected 


person upon an onion, by the flickerings of the flame of a lamp, by the movement or non-movement of the jaws 
of an ass while it was being roasted, and in a vast number of more unholy ways. 

*' Divination by the cock (in mystic language 'Alectryomancy ') was a favourite method of ascertaining the 
name of a person — whether it was that of a thief, an enemy, a successor, or a future husband or wife. When 
either the sun or the moon was in Aries, there were scattered upon the floor of an enclosed space as many heaps 
of grains of wheat as there are letters in the alphabet — a few grains to each heap. While this was being done 
the verse commencing ' Ecce enim veritatem ' was said. Then a young cock, perfectly white, was taken, and 
its claws cut off. The claws were wrapped in a small piece of parchment from the lamb, upon which two 
Hebrew words were inscribed, and then swallowed by the cock — when, it is to be presumed, he was hungry 
enough to commence his repast in this unusual fashion. Holding the cock in his hands, the sorcerer recited 
the conjuration : * O Deus creator omnium, qui flrmamentum pulchritudine stellarum formasti, constituens eas 
in signa et tempora, infunde virtutem tuam operibus nostris, ut per opus in eis consequentur effectum. Amen." 
Then the cock was set down in front of the heaps of grain while the two verses from the Psalms, beginning 
* Domine, dilexi decorem ' were repeated. A careful note was made of the letter attributed to each heap as 
the cock pecked it up, particular record being kept of any unfinished heap to which he returned, by reason of 
the frequent recurrence of the same letter in proper names. The letters thus indicated spelled the name 
required. The Emperor Valens is said to have employed this method to ascertain the name of his successor. 
The letters were Theod. ; and surely enough he was succeeded by Theodosius the Great.'* 

There is a survival of this in Italy, which has passed to London ; I refer 
to divination by means of little trained birds, who pick out fortunes, or printed 
predictions, for a penny. 

Divination with Ashes. 

**Solet etiam divinatio interdum ex cineribus fieri." — Ircutatus Magicus, i6il. 

This is extremely interesting from its great antiquity, being mentioned in 
many works. Of it the author of the Trinum Magicum^ referring apparently to 

Dion Cassius, says :— 

" And they were accustomed to divine sometimes with the ashes from the sacrifices. And to this day 
there is a trace of it, when that which is to be divined is written on the ashes with the finger or with a stick. 
Then the ashes are stirred by the fresh breeze, and one looks for the letters which they form by being moved. 
Or if three ntaids wish to learn which of them shall be married to a man, then they draw three lines in the 
ashes. He commands each one to choose a line {sulcum) and to turn her back so as not to see the lines, which 
meanwhile another indicates with the tongs, until one of them shall have chosen the same furrow three times, 
and when that one chooses his, she will be his future wife. " 

The Tuscan rite as taught me is as follows: — 

*' Take a goblet or cup full of pure water (hot) and three chairs in which three girls or women of the same 
age must sit. Each must take a pinch of salt and put it into the boiling water all together or at once. The 
one whose salt dissolves first will be the most fortunate. Then each must take a little bag of red woollen stuff 
full of ashes which have been very finely sifted ; let them sit with the cup in the middle, all three clad in black 
with black veils, and each has a sacred wafer which is marked with a cup. 

" And to obtain these the three women go to church and partake of the communion, and when the priest 


34^ EtkusCAi^ Roman remains. 

gives them the consecrated wafer to put in their mouths they must slip it into their hands without the priest's 
knowing it. Then as these three wafers are marked with a cup, therefore it is not necessary to bless them, but 
two must be marked with special marks or pictures as of a heart or flower, that they may be known ; thus over 
the cup they make with a pin's point the heart or flower. 

" Then each throws her ashes with the wafer into the boiling water and says, or one says : — 

** ' Non butto la cenere, 
Ma butto I'ostia, 
Non butto Tostia, 
Ma butto il corpo e I'anima 
(Secondo la persona che vuole nominare). 
Che non n'abbia piii pace, 
£ ne bene, fino che questa cosa 
Non ho ottenuto per bene/ 

('* ' I do not throw the ashes, 
But I throw the wafer. 
I do not throw the wafer, 
But I throw the body and soul of . . . 

(Here the person is named) 
That he may no more have peace or happiness 
Until I have obtained this my desire J ") 

*' Then they must place their hanc^s behind them and make the sign of the castagna^ and not turn round 
to see the cup for a quarter of an hour ; and when they at last look they will see whether the wsifers are floating 
on the surface. In this case they will all three have obtained their wish, and if only one swims, then the one 
whose it is will be favoured ; but if none float, no favour will be granted. Allora se ne ZHxda sensa ntai voUarsi 
indietro — then they go without looking behind them." 

This agrees with the ancient ceremony in this — that there are ashes used 
by three women, who go away without turning round. The whole is finally 
thrown into a running stream. In which we have a souvenir of ViRGiL and of 


** Hinc cineres sub primum sideris ortum, 
Colligat, et fluvii ferat ad vada proxima vivi 
Una ministrarum, venitque ad flabra secundi 
Spurgat arenosis petris 
Namque ipsa retrorsum 
Respiciens proper^ redeat." 

What renders this Tuscan incantation even more interesting is that it is 
the only complete account which I have ever met with of the manner in which 
the witches of the Middle Ages used the consecrated wafer in their sorcery. 
Paulus Grillandus, in his work De Sortilegiis, speaks of it with great horror, 
and tells us that it was specially used by women for love-spells. " In istis etiam 

' /.«., his love. 


sortilegiis ad amorem : ut plurimum admiscentur sacramenta eccleBiarum, sicut 
est hostia consecrata " (Paulus Grillandus, TrcLctatns de Hcereticis et Sortu 
legits (Lyons, 1547), ''b. ii., fol. 20, 21). . GRILLANDUS had several cases of the 
the kind ; one of a priest " who took the sacratissimam fiostiam ipsant — the very 
most sacred host itself, uttering as incantation — verba satis turpia atque nephan- 
daque hie referre non expediat ("words utterly vile and wicked which it is not 
expedient to introduce here "). I have no doubt that these " nephanda," or wicked 
words, were the same which are given in the Italian incantation. "Nephanda" 
abundantly proves that if Grillandus would not give his readers bad spells he 
certainly did not object to let them have bad spelling. His witches sometimes 
wrote " horrible words " with blood on the wafers ; at other times they powdered 
and administered them in wine. It is very remarkable that he — fully believing 
that such use of the wafer was a great sin — should publish the fact He indeed 
tells us in one case he did not see or perceive any effect from it — which looks 
as if he had tried it ; but believers in magic might very well say that it was 
possible the party acted on did not " manifest ** in his presence. Or did he 
publish the peculiar particulars hoping to make business ? Sometimes witches 
strew ashes on people and so cause terrible cutaneous disorders. While reading 
the proofs of this work in Homburg les Bains, I met with a very old blind 
man who was very well related to several professors, &c., though he had been 
only a poor carpenter ; and he told me that the witches, from a peculiar kind 
of coal-pebbles, prepared ashes which they strewed on their victims, and that he 
had thus suffered for six years. " Many people," he said, " ridicule this, but it 
is true." 

Ashes in ancient symbolism signified that which is dead and past, or gone 
into oblivion. Pulvis et umbra sumus. It is remarkable that among the old 
Slavonians there was a divination by means of ashes which was much like the 
Roman. Women sat round the hearth and drew lines at random in the ashes. 
Then these were counted, and if the number of lines was even, the omen was 
fortunate (SCHWENK, Mythologie der Slaven, p. 24). Nearly the same oracle is 
still consulted in Poland. Ashes are strewn on the floor around the bed of an 
invalid, and a "wise woman predicts from the lines whether the patient will 
recover" {Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie, vol. ii., p. 11 17). 

Apropos of ashes and of the dead, I may here mention that in the year 
185 s a German in Pennsylvania burned the body of his wife — which act was 
generally bitterly reprobated as heathenish, vile, revolting, and unchristian by the 
press. I, however, wrote in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin an editorial article 
defending the German, and declaring that it would be an excellent thing for 


public health — as well as for the interests of the coal trade — should the practice 
of burning the dead become general. It would probably extinguish cholera 
and yellow fever for ever. These remarks of mine were considered at 
the time as very bold, even in the United States, where freedom of expres- 
sion is not unusual. I do not know positively that I was the first person to 
advocate cremation in modern times, but I believe that I may claim to have 
been at least one of its Vorgdnger, or pioneers. 



" The February-born will find 
Sincerity and peace o( mimt, 
Freedom from passion and from care, 
If they the Amtlhyst will wenr." 

Birthday Sfollot!. 

" L'Amethiste a un lustre violet rouf^, et est ainsi nommf, conime n'eslani yute, aussi il reEisIe & 
I'yuronguerie . , . et profitc aussl ik ceux qui se veulent addonner a I'estude." — Jean Baptista Porta, 
De la Magie Nalurtlle. 

1 ONCE knew a young Frenchman who 
affirmed that he was the only man living who 
knew the ancient language of Carthage — or 
some such town — which he had recovered from 
its ancient monuments. " So you really can 
read ancient Phoenician I " I exclaimed in ad- 
miratioru " Mais, Motisierir," was the reply. 
"Je le parle." " And with whom do you talk 
it?" I inquired. And he replied, "Monsieur, 
je fais des monologues" 

I often feel as regards all this old Etrusco- 
Roman folk-lore as if I had rediscovered or dug 
up and deciphered it, like a forgotten tongue 
and after all were, with my Frenchman, the 
only soul on earth who knew the long-buried 
language or cared for it, and that when I speak 
of it must do so en monologue. And there is 
a charm and a solemn beauty in the spiritual 
or wizard language of the olden time ; and no 
wonder, for there was an era when it moved 
the world, and oracles spoke in it, and grand 
religions lived in it, and with them lived, in all 
their deep faith and many-hued gleams of glory, 
the Etruscan and the Roman. 

And when I now and then find a flower of 
early faith still growing under the vile broad- 
leafing rank weeds which have covered all this 
antique garden, my heart leaps up and I begin 


to soliloquise even as I am doing now. What moved me to it was this : There 
is a lady in Florence to whom a nun, to whom she had been kind, sent three 
singular stones for a gift of gratitude, saying that she had nought else to give. 
As soon as I beheld them I saw that they were amulets, probably given up by 
some sinful penitent believer in witchcraft to a father-confessor. One was an 
amethyst, of no great value as a gem, but about two and a half inches in length, 
which has been, I think, originally a celty and has at some later time had its 
edge ground off. It was probably of earliest ages ; then carried by some old 
Roman, and so lost and found till it was given to me for a Christmas present 
in a red silk bag, December 25, 1891. Of the other two stones, one was a 
salagrana and the second a piece of antimony. 

Everybody knows that the amethyst derives its name from its anti-vinous 
properties ; for if you bear one you cannot be injured by wine. This I knew, and 
nothing more, till I carried the stone to my sybil and asked for a professional 
opinion on it. And it came in a form which subsequently startled me. I noticed 
as a very remarkable thing that, though she made no mention of it, she seemed to 
regard the stone as something personally known to her, at least by report, and 
that she studied it with great respect. It occurred at once to me that it was some 
very famous fetish which had long been lost, but of which the tradition had been 
preserved, like the black Voodoo stones of America. And I am now more 
convinced of it than ever. 

" That is a magnificent amulet," she said, as if surprised, " very ancient and 
beautiful. This pietra avvinata — this stone mixed with wine (wine-stone) — 
buried and disinterred many years, must be carried to cause a good memory. 
Should any one wish to intoxicate you to betray you {J>erfarci qualclu tradimento\ 
if you wear it he will not succeed. Wear it always at your side, and say : — 

" * Pietra che da qualche stregone o Strega 
Tu sei certo stato sotterato, 

Perche la fortuna ad altri non hai voluto lasciarc ; 
Ma si vede che tu ne sei pentita 
Ed hai voluto nelle mie mani farla ricapitare 
Ed io sapro bene conservarla 
E sempre al mio fianco portarla. 
Ti scongiuro o pietra t 

Scongiuro questa pietra che sempre fortuna mi voglia portare 

E da ogni male mi voglia liberare 

Specialmente dai nemichi che volessero farmi 

Qualche traditimento 

Questa pietra mi possa liberare 

£ se mi volessero ubbriachare, 


con vino o con liquore, 

Questo pezzo di pietra avinato sara sempre 
II mio stregone liberatore ! 
Ti scongiuro o pietra ! ' " 

('* * Stone, who by some wizard or some witch 
Hast certainly been buried long ago, 
Because thou wouldst not bring good luck to others, 
Now it is plain that thou hast repented, 
And hast wished to recall it unto me ; 
And I know right well how to preserve it, 
And I ever by my side will bear it. 

1 conjure thee, O stone ! 

I conjure this stone to ever bring me fortune ! 

And that it may free me from all evil. 

Specially from foes who fain would cause me 

Some deceit. 

May this stone free me ! 

Should any wish to intoxicate me 

With wine, or other liquor. 

This piece of wine-stone shall ever be 

My wizard, freeing me from it ! 

I conjure thee, O stone ! * ") 

Now I knew that the amethyst was esteemed of old to be infallible against 
intoxication, or, as Baptista Porta saith : " Lamethiste attach au col sur la bouche 
du ventricule {alfiancd) deliure de VyurongnerU'' But I did not know that it was 
" good for the memory," by which my witch meant, in her simple way, as I found, 
also intellect and intelligence. The belief of the fortune-teller very evidently was 
that this famous amulet — of which there was a tradition — had been buried by or 
with its owner, long ago, in order that others should not inherit it, but that it 
had by wizard influences been brought to light again, especially for me. 

I have by me about two dozen books, but was jiot aware that among them I 
possessed a treatise — De Gemmts — by Franciscus Rueus, printed at Frankfort in 
1608. It had escaped me, being bound up at the end of De Miraculis OccultiSy 
by Levinus Lemnius. And turning over my small library, hoping against hope 
to find something to confirm this connection of the amethyst with intellect, I 
found that I, by mere chance, had just the very book of all books in the world 
which I required. For in it there is a chapter — xi., De Amethysta — in which it is 
said to not only protect against intoxication, but to stimulate genius — even as the 
witch had declared. " Addunt et alii malas ilium arcere cogitationes, et praecox 
felixque ingenium efficere " (" It drives away bad thoughts, and confers ripe 
and happy genius "). And it also brings luck ; but here Rueus remembers 


himself, and declares that he will not impart the heathenish and unchristian 
superstitions which are reported of it — as I have done. 

All of which reminds me of a story of my early days. When I was a small 
boy in Philadelphia, I had a Quaker schoolmaster, named Jacob Pierce, who 
delivered to us lectures on mineralogy, and encouraged us to make collections, 
giving us on every Saturday " specimens " as rewards of good conduct — in which 
distribution I, to my shame be it said, rarely had the first or any other choice 
(though it once happened to me that the rejected corner-stone which fell to my lot 
was the very gem of all). Being therefore a zealous mineralogist, it befell that 
one day on the wharf I found in the discarded ballast of stones brought by a vessel 
from Tampa Bay, Florida, many ammonites^ among which was one which had 
been converted to pure chalcedony from its surroundings. With overloaded 
pockets I went into the office of a certain broker and banker, who, having 
examined my find with his friends, pronounced it to be ** nothing but common 
oyster-shells and such-like rubbish/* And after I had with pains investigated my 
three amulet-stones, I was told that they were in all likelihood only three common 
mineralogical specimens which the nun had picked up — ^which may, of course, 
be true — Italian nuns and their poor retainers being, as is well known, universally 
addicted to science in general and geology in particular. 

The specimen prize which I got from my teacher was an amethyst, which I 
" traded " with another boy for an air-balloon, which caught fire while I was 
inflating it, and so perished. Dii avertite omeft ! and grant that this my amethyst- 
balloon of a book may soar to the skies — without burning my fingers ! 

May I add that the Rabbis called the amethyst achlamahy from chalam, to 
dream ; for they believed that it attracted to its wearer marvellous dreams. And 
Saint Isidore compared it to the Trinity, because it hath in it three colours: 
firstly, purplcy which is imperial, and denotes God the Father and Ruler of the 
world ; that of violet, or humility (God the Son in His lowliness among men); and 
that of rose, which is expressive of love and of the Holy Spirit {vide Picinelli, 
Mundus Symbolic, p. 684). 

Among the Egyptians the amethyst corresponded to the Zodiacal sign of 
the Goat (Kircher, CEdip-^^gypt, ii., p. 2). And as the goat was an enemy to 
vines, so the amethyst was a foe to wine. 

Apropos of which citations I must, in frankness and simple honesty, remark 
that if there be here and there in this book some slight show of erudition — ^which 
I doubt not provokes the gently-pitying smile of many a learned folk-lorist — it is 
chiefly due to the girl with the wheelbarrow from whom I purchase antique lore, 
parchment*bound, at from a penny to threepence (this latter in cases of great 


temptation) the volume. This I take home and perfectly master, which accounts 
for these Idarned extracts. That is the way it is done. Then there is my 
tobacconist^ who has for months past wrapped up cigars for me in leaves of the 
old Encyclopcedie Fran^aise ; or from a Latin folio of legal lore, to which I am 
greatly indebted. And on another occasion, when I bought two Etruscan vases 
for seven francs, I induced the dealer to throw in the work of Marsilius Ficinus 
on the Neo Platonists lamblichus, &c. (Lyons, 1577), which edition I had been 
after for many a long year. And as it included the Pimander^ &c., of Hermes 
Trismegistus (which work I copied entirely in my sixteenth year, not being able 
to buy it) you may judge if I was glad to get it ! 

The Spell of the Black Hen. 

" When thy black hen dies, thank God, 
Else thoud'st been lying *neath the sod." 

" When a black hen over a miser flies 
Soon after that the miser dies." 

German Proverbs, 

In the year 1886 there was found in the belfry of a church in England a 
curious object of which all that could be learned at first was from the authority 
of an old woman and that it was called a witch's ladder. An engraving of it was 
published in the Folk- Lore Journal^ and several contributors soon explained its use. 
It consisted of a cord tied in knots at regular intervals, and in every knot the 
feather of a fowl had been inserted. 

I was in Italy when I saw this engraving, and read that the real nature of the 
object had not been ascertained. I remarked that I would soon find it out, which 
I did, and that most unexpectedly. For by mere chance, the very first Italian 
woman with whom I conversed, being asked if she knew any stories about 
witches, began with the following : — 

** Si. There was in Florence four years ago a child which was bewitched. It pined away. The parents 
took it to all the shrines in vain, and it died. 

"Some lime after something hard was felt in the bed on which the child had slept. They opened the 
bed and found what is called a guirlanda delU strege^ or witches' garland. It is made by taking a cord and 
tying knots in it. While doing this pluck feathers one by one from a living hen, and stick them into the 
knots, uttering a malediction with every one. There was also found in the bed the figure of a hen made of 
stufi* (cotton or the like)." 

The next day I showed the woman the engraving of the witch-ladder in the 
Folk-Lore Journal. She was astonished, and said, " Why that is la guirlanda delU 



strege which I described yesterday." I did not pay any attention at the time 
to what was said of the image of a cock or hen being found with the knotted cord, 
but I have since ascertained that it formed the most important part of the whole 

This is the spell of // Polio nero, or the Black Hen. It is as follows : — 

** To bewitch one till he die: Take a black hen and pluck from it every feather ; and this done, keep them 
all carefully, so that not one be lost. With these you may do any evil to grown people or children. 

" Take the hairs of the person, or else the stockings, and those not clean, for there must be in them his 
or her perspiration. Then with black and red thread sew the stockings across one another. And if you have 
the hairs of the person, make of them a guirhnda unitacon stoppa — a cord spun with flax or hemp — then take 
the feathers and si cuopre questa robba you cover (or work up) this thing in the form of a hen, and, taking the 
feathers, work or weave them with black and red thread into the covering of the hen, and put black pins 
in the form of a cross into the hen. It must then be hidden in the mattress or straw bed of the one whom you 
wish to bewitch, and say : — 

" ' Questo polio e maladetto, 
E maladetto sia tutte 
Le maledizioni la portate via, 
Dal fondo del inferno. 
Ma ora per una ora, 
Le coma gliele voglio fare, 
Che la maledizione la possa lasciare, 
Et te (i7 nome) te la possa portare 
Tu non abbia piil pace! 
E ne giomo e ne notte ! 
Fino che la stregeria 
Che ti io ho fatto 
Non ti vengo a levare ! * " 

('" This hen is accursed, 
And cursed be all ! 
May the curses carry him away 
Curses from the depths of hell 
Now, for an hour 
I would give him horns, 
May the curse leave them on him ! 
And thou (the name) mayst thou bear them, 
And have no more peace 
Neither by day or night. 
Until the bewitchment 
Which I have wrought 
Be removed by me I * " 

The Counter-Charm.— "To remove this bewitchment you must open the mattress and find the hell 
and wreath, and throw all that holds it into running water. 

" And then take the person bewitched, man, woman, or child, ehe Sta, as it may be, and carry him or her 
into a church while a baptism is going on, and say : — 


" • In nome di Gesu, di Giuseppe, 
E di Maria la benedizione 
Di quel bambino benediBca 
L*anima mia ! * 

** This the one who is bewitched must say, but if it be a child who cannot speak, then the person who 
carries it must say : — 

** * In the name of Jesus and of Joseph, 
And of Mary, may the blessing 
Of that infant also bless 
The soul of this child ! * 

" Then carry it to some place near and bathe it in holy water. 


This spell is considered as very terrible, and I had some difficulty in getting 
it. There is much curious lore connected with it, and there is every reason to 
believe that it is extremely ancient. In the museum (archaeological) of Geneva, 
among the very old relics from Lacustrine dwellings, there is one of a hen, flat, 
knitted or felted from black hair or wool, or both. I copied it with some care, and 
my witch authority in Florence at once declared it to be a black hen made for 
magic. As it was found in water it may have been thrown there to destroy the 
spell, as the counter-charm prescribes. And that it is very ancient is effectively 
proved by the fact that other objects of the same material, and of the stone age, 
were found with it This is presumptive evidence that the spell belongs to pre- 
historic or neolithic times. 

The black hen, being an object of great fear and reverence, was worshipped 
by the Wends. From them it passed as a crest to the house of Henneberg {yide 
the Symbolik of Friedrich) and to the quarterings of the Prince of Wales (Puck^ 
3 vols., 1852, by Dn Bell). The gypsies in Hungary, to effect a certain cure, apply 
the body of a black hen to the sufferer, pronouncing an incantation. In Roumania 
when a Jewish girl has an affaire du cceur with the devil — or possibly with a devil 
of a fellow*— the result is a black hen. But what is very nearly connected with this 
is the following : In Wallachia if a man has been robbed he goes to some sorcerer 
to take up " the black fast " against him. To do this the wizard must, in company 
with a black hen, fast for nine* Fridays. Then the thief will either bring back the 
plunder or die. Mrs. Gerard, who gives this account, says nothing of what the 
ceremonies are attendant on the charm. I have no doubt that if we had the 
whole we should find that the Italian ceremony requires the nine Fridays' fast, 
and that the Wallachian Transylvanian spell is directed against any enemy, a$ 
well as a thief (vide Gypsy Sorcery^ by CHARLES G, LelaNP). 


One of these Italian witch-garlands was exhibited by Mr. Tylor at the Folk- 
Lore Congress in 1891, and I have another which was given to me for a Christmas 
present. It is in a box covered with red flannel. In the box was a sprig of thorn 
leaves. The wreath had been completed by attaching it to a small Japanese cock 
made of feathers. 

I have found in a number of works on folk-lore and superstitions such a 
number of spells and incantations, of which the black hen forms the chief item, 
that I find it impossible to include them within the limits of this work. I may 
mention, however, that when I was a boy in Philadelphia, in America, once 
hearing that a whole dead chicken, quite dried up, had been found in a feather 

As feathers for beds are always picked over, I have little doubt that this 
object had been put into the bed by some black person as a Voodoo charm. 

The Spell of the Bell. 

*' Much the witches fear the spell, 
When by night they hear a b^ll ; 
Off they fly, over the sky, 
When they hear dondo^ dondo^ dondo!^^ 

Romagnola Song, 

The chief, if not the only use of bells in ancient days was to drive away 
demons, or dispel evil in every form ; and it is very evident that they were in- 
troduced to Christian churches far more for this purpose than to call to prayer. 
For, as in Ireland, the church bells were generally of the size and shape of the 
average cow-bell of America, making no more noise than the latter. There was 
found not many years ago. in Rome a tintinnabulutn, or little bell of silver 
bearing magical characters, the purport of which was to avert the evil eye. I 
have a facsimile of this presented 6y the late Sir Patrick Colquhoun. And also 
a very small bronze Etruscan (or Roman, according to Professor Milani) bell 
found at Chiusi — resting on my paper as I write — and what an aid it would be 
here an it could speak all that it e'er has seen ! 

These little square old bronze Roman bells with round corners are much 
prized among the peasantry for amulets. In the mountain land they are always 
kept in one of the two small cupboards, or recesses, on either side of the chimney- 
piece. I have a quaint little song in the Bolognesje-Romagnola dialect, setting 
forth the fear of the witches when they hear at twilight-tide " those, evening bells." 

The following from Volterra, which, is given word for word, sets forth the 


manner in which the old campanologistic faith has been preserved to the present 
day : — , 

"The liulc bell (camfatulh) is held of greitt esteem in Ibe Romafiiia, iis well 3S \tt\cAyentt,B.sajMatura, 
or sign againsi wilches. When one goes out of an evening he should carry one in his pocket— iwa/«rfl Msogna 
the sia di iivntii e quadralo — but il should be of bronie, and four-cornered j and while going along the bell 
jingles in the pocket ; but because it soundi there the ring is indistinct, and the witches cannot count (he 
strokes of the clapper (quanic voile it palHno balti\, and arc thus obliged to fly, and cannot approach the bearer 
nor do him harm. ' 

" Then putting it into the recets, or small cupboard by the chimney-piece [biwo dtl lammino), repeal 
this incantation :— 

" ' Melto nel buco del cammino, 

Questo campanetlo per tenere lonlano 

Pluto e le sue compagne,- 

Che in quesift casa non m pos»no presentare ; 


Ne in furms di cane e ne di gatto, 

Ne di lopo, DC di nvelta, 

Ne di serpe, e ne di comacchia. 

CJuando alia min casa si vengano 

A presenta quesia cam pa no suonare 

E tutti maligni si possino allonlaiure.'" 

' In this comer of the cuplmard, 
I put this bell to drive arar 
Pluto and his company. 
That in this house they may not come. 
Neither in form of Aag or cat. 
Nor of mole, nor of an owl, 
Nor of serpent, nor of crow ! 
Should they come into my hotne, 
May the bell tinging drive the wtelches away 1 ' ") 


Pluto — not Satan — here appears as leader of the witches. I have observed 
that the further we get from the Romagnola mountains into the plains, the more do 
the Roman gods appear. The shoemaker who gave this incantation had, however, 
some tincture of letters, having studied and read. Pluto may be a survival, but 
he is gently doubtful. But as I would not deprive a dying god of his very last 
chance for life on earth, I add that subsequent inquiry removed this dire suspicion. 
Pluto still lives. It may be noted here, by the way, that the belief that bells ring 
of themselves, and that chains rattle, to announce the presence of spirits, is of old 
Roman origin, as I find confirmed by Maffei in his Magica Disirutta — a work in 
which the author rides full tilt at the windmill of sorcery, utterly annihilating it, 
but never perceiving that he also destroys with the same lance another black 
spectre known as la Santa Fede Cattolica^ or La Chiesa Apostolica^ all of whose 
marvels and miracles came out of the same old tub. Think of this, O friend, 
when, in some darkened and gloomy hour, you are in church and hear the padre 
ring his little bell, and let a happy thrill of heathenism pass at the sound through 
your heart I 

Not only bells, but trumpets and cymbals were used to drive away demons — 
which reminds me that few know whence came the idea of the last trump at 
the Day of Judgment — 

'' Tuba'mirum spargens sonum, 
Per sepulchras regionum, 
Cogens omnes ante thronum." 

It is the great blast to be blown at the death-bed of a dying world, and was 
derived from a heathen source, as is set forth in the following passage from the 
same Arte Magica Distrutta of Maffei (1757) : — 

'* There was a strange religious ceremony which the Gentiles ol)served when dying. This was to play 
during the last agony on the horn, or trumpet, or instruments of metal, and of great noise. The motive to 
this was doubtless the belief that it drove away larve (demons) which, as it was believed, hated the sound 
of metal, which vulgar opinion is set forth by Lucian in Philflps, The Dire were witches who flew through 
the air, concerning the driving away of whom by noise Pliny writes (1. 28, c. 2). Eusebius tells us that 
demons were driven away by the sound of timpans,*^ 

[Timpani are tambourines, and it is an awfully curious thing, by the way, that 
when bees swarmed these timpans were anciently used, and that tin pans are now 
beaten in their stead.] 

That bells have souls, wills, and ways of their own is apparent from the 
number of marvellous instances recorded of their having rung of themselves 
without any human aid-^as they did at the dejith of Von Rodenstein — albeit 


Praetorius, who devotes several pages to this important subject in his marvellous 
and rare Gliickskopf (1669), suggests that it may have been done by a Poltergeist^ 
which is a spirit much given to noise and mischief, and which makes its appear- 
ance, in my belief, very often in the form of a medical student, but always as 
a youth. 

Remains to be remarked that the little bronze bell is supposed to be a fairy 
lady — as her form suggests — and is the more human as having a voice. Which 
fancy did not escape the monks, who addressed them as saints, as you may read 
in the chapter on BelU in Southey's " Doctor " : — 

" Bellula bella, mt puella : 
Tu me corde tenes I ** 

The Spell of the Boiling Clothes. 

The reader must not suppose that the charms, incantations, and devilments 
of different kinds which are here solemnly confided to him, are known to the 
multitude. Many have, it is true, leaked out ; but most of them are secrets rich 
and rare, treasured up among the elect who, dying, leave them as a rich legacy 
unto their issue. This was recalled to me by a curious incident alluded to in the 
preface. Firstly, I pray you read the following, as taken down four years ago — 
in 1888 — from a witch: — 


Quando si ha uno bantbino siregaio (" When a babe is bewitched/'). Take the clothes of the child, and 
put them in a pot to boil at midnight. All the garments must go in, with shoes and stockings. Then take a 
new and very large knife, and sharpen it at a table, and say, sticking it in the table : — 

" ' Non infilo questo coltello 
Ma infilo la maladetta strega 
Che non viene ! Che non viene ! 
Non possa resistere 
Sinquando in mio bambino 
II salute non lo fa ritomare ! ' 

(" ' I do not sharpen this knife, 
I whet the accursed witch, 
That she cannot resist coming 
Until unto my child 
She again restores health ! ') 

" Then the witch will appear at the window — it may be at the door — in the form of a cat, or dog, or somd 
form or spectre. Btit be in no fear, for these are but shifting forms [forfnt camhiati)^ and do not take the 
knife from the table nor let the clothes cease to boil till three o'clock. 

*' And being by this charm compelled to come and 6bey, the witch will remove the illness from the 


In the Secolo of Milan, which has by far the most extensive circulation of 
any journal in Italy, there appeared, March 3, 1891, the following account of a 
serious and very singular disturbance: — 

" A Mcdiaval Scent at Porta Ticituse, 

" We seem to dream, and yet this which we relate occurred yesterday morning here in Milan, and it is 
true in every one of its startling and shocking details. 

*'In the Via Rijm Porta Ticinese, No. 61, in a modest room on the fourth floor, dwelt the family of a 
journeyman varnisher, Malatcrra Franciosi and his wife, Virginia, aged twenty-five, a glove-maker, with two 
children, one of which has been ill for a month with some unknown, obstinate, and strange disorder. 

"A neighbour of the Franciosis, a woman who pretended to some knowledge of medicine, declared that 
the child was bewitched ; that it would be quite useless to have recourse to physicians and priests, and that 
the only way to cure it would be to discover the sorceress who had made the mischief. But how was it to 
be done ? 

" The woman, as a great secret, after much entreaty from the Franciosis, taught them how it was to be 
done by putting the clothes of the child into a pot with water and boiling them. She declared that at the 
instant of the boiling, the witch would be drawn to the place by an irresistible diabolical force, and thus com- 
pelled to make herself known. This was done, and the clothes put in the pot and the pot on the fire. 

. "By mere chance, just as the water began to boil, a woman entered. This was one Angela Micheletti, 
thirty-four years of age, seven months gone with child. She was the wife of a labourer. Being a friend of 
the Franciosis, and on her way with a pair of wooden shoes to have them mended, she dropped in to inquire 
as to the health of the child. 

'* At seeing her the mother screamed ' DaJH alia Strega / ' (' Give it to the witch ! *) La Micheletti, think- 
ing that her friend had gone mad, tried to calm her, but the other, more exasperated, howled with all her force, 
• Aiuto ! La Strega ! ' (• Help ! the witch ! ') La Micheletti fled into the street. 

'* In an instant a great crowd had assembled, who, hearing the cry and accusation, all set u|X)n La Micheletti 
as if she had been a mad dog, per Icuerarla d brant — seeking to tear her to pieces. So she fled, pursued by 
the mad mob, crying, ' Daili alia Strega /' The poor creature, more dead than alive, took refuge in the church 
of Santa Maria del Naviglio, but the crowd rushed in, and while she knelt before the grand altar, raising her 
hands in supplication, weeping and screaming for mercy, her hair was literally torn from her head and divided 
among the women who attacked her, and then she was very cruelly beaten. Tht parocco, or parish priest, tried 
to shield her, but in vain, and he himself escaped narrowly from being knocked down. 

" The poor victim was then carried, amid all abuses and curses, from the church, and haled along to the 
room of the Franciosis. Here was another savage scene. La Micheletti being required to disenchant the child, to 
which she replied asserting her innocence of all such evil, and received howls, curses, and blows. 

*' Finally the Delegate, Sig. Omodeo, succeeded, with some military police and with great trouble, in 
dispersing the mob. Then the woman Franciosi, convinced too late of her unpardonable folly, fell on her 
knees before La Micheletti exclaiming, ' I am not to blame ; I was advised to do so by another — I was blinded 
by love of my child ! ' 

'* In the afternoon the poor Micheletti, accompanied by her husband and Sig. Omodeo, was taken home 
in a brougham and put to bed» This morning she was better but still trembling from her terrible 
experience. The sad impression of this savage mediaeval scene will long be remembered in the suburb of 
Porta Ticinesct 

** The women who tore the hair from the head of La Micheletti, went to their homes and burned it, pro- 
nouncing incantations, and than ran to the room of the Franciosis to see if the child was cured. And as they 
declared they had found it somewhat betteri they cried> < £cc0 se non i vera ch'i staia strtgata / * (* See noWf 
if it is not true that she is a witch I ') " 


Sometimes gloves or stockings alone are boiled for certain peculiar " points " 
in bewitching. Of the burning of hair to remove bewitchment I have elsewhere 
spokea But the real moral meaning of this horrible story will not appear at once 
as it should to every reader. It is this: It was all very well for the parocco, or 
parish priest, to try to shield the woman at the altar, &c., but had that priest 
ever in all his life once told the people that there is no such thing as witch- 
craft, and that it is all delusion ? Did any priest in Italy, or any of the Catholic 
teachers whose duty it is to enlighten their flocks, ever tell them plainly that there 
is no such thing as sorcery. No ; of course not. For that would be to attract 
doubts as to the truth of their own peculiar sorts of sorcery, incantation, and 
magic — ^just as the small American boy, who, when informed by his father that 
there was no such Christmas spirit as Santa Claus, asked reproachfully, " And have 
you been playing it off on me in the same way about Jesus too ? " 

The Church at Rome does not deny the existence of modern witchcraft and 
sorcery. There are three, and I know not how many more, Roman Catholic books 
written to prove that all the mighty miracles of modern spiritualists, such as carry- 
ing cigarettes to secret places, playing banjoes in the dark, and bringing penny 
bouquets from Paradise, are all done by the devil, and these books have been 
licensed and approved by the Pope. Can anybody imagine that if these Milanese 
had been Protestants they would have acted as they did ? By their fruits shall ye 
know them ! 

Now in all such superstition Milan is as light to darkness compared to our 
Florence, and Florence in this respect is the same in relation to the Toscana 

I have also from Peppino, the youth frequently alluded to, a long and detailed 
account as to how quite recently, a child which was dying in the village of Premil- 
core in the Romagna Toscana, was saved by boiling its clothes and saying : — 

"Diavoli tutti 
Del inferno scatenatevi, 
Tutti e fate venire. 
La Strega del mio bambino. 
In mia presenza. Sia ! '* 

Then the witch appeared, and by casting the usual gomitolo^ or skein, into the 
air, the child was cured. Then the witch was taken by two other witches into 
the fields and rolled unmercifully over the ground till she lost all her power of 




Ring Sorcery. 

*'A droite Tanneau presage 
Prompt et heureux manage, 
A gauche il figure : 
Abandon, rupture.*' 

Le Jeu de Cartes dc Mlh, Letwmand. 

Divination by means of rings was well known to the early Romans, and is 
thus described {Trac. Magicus^ p. 92) : " Dactylomantia divinat annulis ad certam 
cceli posituram constructis vel incantamentis, et super tripodem ad certa verba motis " 
(" Dactylomancy is divining by means of rings made at certain planetary conjunc- 
tions, or with incantations, and moved on the tripod with certain words "). For 
tripod read tambourine, and for rings any small objects, and we shall have one of 
the most ancient forms of divination in existence. These small objects are, among 
the Hungarian gj^psies, seeds of the deadly thorn-apple; in Lapland, the small 
image of a frog. 

In modern Italy there is another kind of ring prophecy. It is, however, very 
ancient, and is known in many countries. Take a bowl, or vase, or cylinder, divide 
its inner edge into so many parts as there are letters of the alphabet 

Take a gold, or any other ring, 
and let it be consecrated, {pon- 
sacrasi Vanello prima dell opera- 
zione,) Then tie a thread to it and 
hold the end of the thread in the 
right hand and a sprig of verbena 
in the left. Let the ring hang in 
the cylinder. According to one 
authority the thread should be 
wrapped round the thumb and pass over the pulse so as to secure the right vibra- 
tion. Then ask a question and the ring will begin to swing, and strike on the 
letters and spell out the reply. 

As I have said, this is a very ancient species of prediction or invocation. It is 
the same in principle with the planchette, but requires only one operator. It may 
be observed that when the person who holds the thread is deeply in earnest, or 
believing, and has prepared himself to work the oracle by serious reflection, the 
replies spelled out are often very remarkable, not to say startling, and whether 
produced by involuntary mental action or by external causes, they are in most 
cases curious. I have met with the assertion that by means of the thread and ring 


one can always ascertain exactly what o'clock it is when the edge of the cup is 
divided in twelve parts. " How would it be where the day is divided into twenty- 
four hours ? '* It would be just the same, and true answers would be often given, 
because the action is subjective, or comes from the operator. 

Another variety of this kind of divination is to place an evenly balanced rod, 
or needle like that of a mariner's compass, on a pivot, in the centre of a plate. 
Around the edge, in circles, are letters and numbers. This is a kind of roulette. 
Give the bar a turn and when it ceases revolving observe the letter or number 
opposite which it stops. 

Again, take a round, flat surface, say a wooden plate surrounded by a border 
half an inch in height. This surface is covered with numbers and letters. Then 
take a ring and spin it as one spins a coin. We draw conclusions from the letters, 
&c., on which it falls. 

Apropos of roulette and the ancients there is at Homburg les Bains a col- 
lection of ancient Roman remains, and in an adjoining room the roulette table which 
was last used in 187 1. Two or three of the average class of English, or American, 
tourists, being shown through the collection, cried, on seeing the wheel, " And is 
that old Roman, and did the Romans play roulette ! How interesting ! " For the 
truth of which I vouch " with both hands," having heard it 

An ancient ring which has been long worn is said to be the best for divina- 
tion. I have one of silver with the image of a toad cut in haematite in it, about 
four hundred years old, which has, I doubt not, been frequently tried in spells. 
Also a silver and enamel messenger ring which once belonged to King Roger of 
Sicily, which, if it could tell all it ever witnessed, might describe the story of 
Schiller's Diver. 

Amulets, Omens and Small Sorceries. 

I include in this chapter certain odds and ends of folk-lore which are not with- 
out interest. The first which I shall give is t/u pine-cone, 

** Take a pine-cone, after all the pinoli (nuts or seeds) have been removed. Then on every scale, or 
within it between the scales, put a lupine (dry). Then take a ilower-pot and fill it with fine earth, and plant 
the cone in it quite covered with earth or buried. Put it out in the air, and water it like any flower. Should 
it grow well and look prettily it is a sign that alt things will go well with you. But its growing badly is a bad 
sign. But you must always keep it by you to secure the good luck, and even carry it with you when you traveL 
And to maintain the principle (bisogna tentre la sistema) you should plant a new cone every year." 

American young ladies have a somewhat similar oracle in the sweet potato 
which also makes a very pretty fortune-teller. If it flowers or leaves well, it is a 


sign that the owner will be magnificently dressed on her wedding-day, and have a 
grand festUy which, I suppose, will be " in all the papers." Apropos of this very 
small gardening, it may be mentioned that since Roman times, and perhaps much 
earlier, the planting of cress, mustard, or seeds of any sort to divine luck by their 
growth, has been common in all countries. One very easy form is as follows : 
If you keep a bird — say a canary — get an empty box, a raisin box, eighteen inches 
or two feet in length, fill it with earth and hang the cage over it Throw into the 
earth the cleanings of the cage and a few canary or hemp seeds. These will soon 
grow, and when sprouting or about an inch high will be devoured by the bird with 
avidity. This is very lucky for the canary. 

Very old keys are good amulets for luck. They may be carried in the pocket 
or hung up by a red ribbon in the room. And it is very lucky to find one. While 
picking it up you should say : — 

"Non prendo questo chiave Tho trovato 
£ lo porto con me, ma non porto 
La chiave pero la for tuna 
Che sia sempre appresso di me. 

(" *Tis not a key which I have found 
Nor one which I shall l3ear around, 
But fortune which I trust will be, 
Ever my friend and near to me.) 

*' And this may be said for anything else which is found." 

The special meaning of the key is success with women, the word key {chiave) 
being applied to the virile organ, and ckiavare, " to key " to the act of copulation. 
Its general signification as an omen is success in your next undertaking. Thus to 
dream of a key or see one is a good sign : — 

" La clef pr^s de ta main 
Annonce qu* k la fin 
Tu auras du succ^s 
Dans tes derniers projets." 

If you blow or whistle in a key, especially an old one, it will call to you spirits 
or fairies, who will be favourable to you and aid you, in love above all things. 

We can divine with keys in several ways. By locking a padlock when a couple 
are married, one can stop all intimacy between them. But it is with the sieve that 
Master Key becomes a great sorcerer, as was once set forth in the St. James's 
Gazette :-^ 


*' Methods of discovering the names of thieves and the whereabouts of stolen goods were endless ; and 
many an old hag, down almost to our own time, has driven a profitable trade with * infallible ' means of 
divination as old as the fire* worshippers. The formulae most frequently used for these purposes were known 
as ' the key ' and * the sieve.' The name of the suspected person was written upon a piece of paper placed 
around a key ; the key was tied to a volume of Scripture, and the whole suspended by a cord spun for the 
purpose, from the finger of a young unmarried woman. Three times she repeated in a low voice the verse 
' Exurge, Domine ' ; and if at the words the key and the book turned, the guilt of the suspect was proved. 
If neither of them moved his innocence was clear. Divination by the sieve was long in high favour, for 
this was deemed to be the most certain of all methods. Hence, says Erasmus, the proverb ' To divine with 
the sieve * — to express the certainty of a thing. A sieve was suspended from a pair of scissors held by two 
assistants. The operator, having pronounced the name of the suspected person, repeated a shibboleth con- 
sisting of six words — dies^ mies^jesquet^ benedo€t fet^ dowina — ' which neither he or his assistants understood.' 
If the person whose name was mentioned were guilty, the six magical words ' compelled the demon to make 
the sieve spin round.* Pierre D'Abanne — the author of a most entertaining manuscript work on the elements 
of magic, preserved in the Biblioth^que de TArsenaP — recounts that he used this method three times with the 
most complete success, and then gave it up ; fearing that the demon, in revenge for having been compelled to 
tell the truth three times in succession to one man — greatly, no doubt, to his chargin, since he is by nature a 
liar — would draw his tormentor into toils from which there would be no escape. 

Never pass by a coin, however trifling ; should you let it lie your luck will pass 
to the person who finds and takes it. But on picking it up repeat the same lines. 

" To know the future or how any event will end, or what your luck will be in a lottery : Take a dry 
poppy-pod, make a hole in it, shake out the seed and place in it a paper on which your question is written. 
Then put it beneath your pillow and repeat :— 

*' ' In nome del cielo, delle stelle, della luna, 

Fate mi face il sogno secondo . . . (le mie intenzione). ' *' 

(** ' In the name of heaven the stars and the moon ! 
May I dream and that full soon, 
If this I see . . . (here repeat your wish).'") 

The poppy was not only sacred to the god of dreams and of sleep, but owing 
to the immense number of its seeds was a type of fertility and wealth. Hence the 
gilt poppy-heads, so commonly seen in the apothecaries* windows, which are or 
were originally amulets to bring money. 

Another amulet allied to dreaming is made by taking twigs or bits of small 
boughs from an oak-tree (in England of mountain-ash). Bind two of these so 
as to make a cross, or lay them across one another on the table, or stand, by your 
bed, and repeat before going to sleep : — 

*'Non metto questa querela, 
Ma metto la fortuna, 
Che non possa abbandonar' 
Mai la casa mia." 

' It has been several times published ; the last edition is by Scheibele of Stuttgart (in his Kloster\, 


(***Tis not oak which here I place, 
But good fortune — by its grace 
May it never pass away, 
But ever in my dwelling stay.") 

The sticks should be bound with red ribbon (woollen), and the cross thus 
formed and spelled becomes an amulet which may be hung up to bring good luck 
or drive away misfortune. 

Whenever one puts on a new garment, he or she should repeat this spell : — 

"Porto questo vestito 
Per maggior fortuna 
Sia maladetto, maladetto sia ! 
Chi cerca nella mia vita 
Di portar qualche malia ! '* 

('*This coat I wear, this garment bear, 
To bring good luck to me ; 
If any man begrudge that luck, 
May he accursed be ! ") 

Should you find, or pick up, or even see any object, you may divine by it 
what is to happen. Thus if the first bit of ribbon, or string, or cloth which you 
find is of any colour, especially if it be new and fresh, it will portend : — 

i?^rf (especially scarlet) — Good fortune, prosperity, successful love. 

Yellow — ^Jealousy ; according to some, gold. 

Grey — Peace, calm, content. 

Silver — Disquiet, disturbance, passion, pain. 

Gold — Fortune, prosperity, gain, intelligence. 

Black — Vexation, discontent, trouble. 

Orange — -"Misfortune. 

The belief in the magic virtue of red, especially ot red wool, is as general in 
Italy as it is ancient As it is the colour of the blood and of fire, it is sacred to 
life and heat. So a red ribbon or cloth hung from a window or over a bed brings 

*' When one sees a very fine large butterfly, catch it as carefully as you can without hurting it, and look 
under its wings, for there you may often find characters which indicate winning numbers in the lottery, or Yes 
or No to a question. Then let it go again, for your luck will depend on not injuring it. And this is the case 
with serpents or any animals which are marked, for there is writing in all things if we can but read it." 

To find a horse-shoe is as lucky in Tuscany as it is elsewhere. Hay is also 
luck«bringing. If you find a horse-shoe, make a red bag and put the horse-shoe 


into it with hay, and it will be an admirable amulet It is to be kept always in 
the bed. 

** If a youth loves a maid he will do much to win her affections should he give her ofnorinoy that i» 

In this case we can infer that nomen est omen. 

Shoes or gloves when boiled in water yield a liquid which if not palatable is 
however of great use in witchcraft, though I am not informed as to the exact 
manner in which this soupe au shoe is served up.' 

When children see a lucciola^ a fire-fly, they sing a strange little song which is 
also an incantation for luck : — 

*' Lucdola ! Lucciola ! 
Viene a gara ! 
Mette la briglia 
A la cavalla, 
Mette la briglia 
Al figluolo del re, 
Che la fortuna 
Venga con me, 
Luciola mia 
Viene da me!" 

(" Fire-fly ! O Fire-fly I 
Enter the course ; 
Come, put the bridle 
Now on the horse 1 
Come, put the bridle 
On the king's son, 
So that good fortune 
By me may be won 1 
Fire-fly ! O Fire-fly 
Make it my own I ") 

When a woman has a sore throat [effeto di lu gola abassata\ she must take her 
own apron and measure or fold it in a cross thrice {misuararla in croce\ for three 
mornings in succession. Then when she has done this she must, before eating, 
put three pins crossed with a sharpened knife stuck into the table and say : — 

" Diavolo, vi discongiuro ! 
In came ed ossa, 

' In Voodoo if a woman gets another's shoes which have just been taken off", and takes-off" her own and 
laces them inside the other pair, and so leaves them till morning, the man is sure to fall in love with her. — Note 
by Mary A. Owen, 


Si questa donna e striata 
Questa Strega tenerla stregata, 
Pill non possa, 

Sinoquando questa donna non guarira 
Questo coltello del tavola non sortira 
E cosi la Strega pii\ pace non avra ! " 

(''Devil, I conjure thee alone, 
In flesh and in bone ! 
If this woman bewitched be, 
The witch at once shall set her free ! 
Till she's freed from all her pain 
The knife i' the table shall remain, 
And the witch shall feel the knife 
In her soul and in her life 1 '') 

This is interesting as indicating the Shamanism according to which every pain 
or the least disorder is supposed to be caused by sorcery — a doctrine which exists 
in full force in another form known as Prayers for the Sick. 

Egg-shells are witches* goblets for drinking. Therefore lest they use them for 
such, one should after eating an egg break the shell to fragments, and throw them 
into a running stream and say : — 

" Se sei una Strega 
Va al diavolo, 
Che tu porta via 
Assieme coll' acqua corsia ! " 

("If thou art a witch, 
Go, O devil's daughter! 
And be borne away 
On the running water ! ") 

It is commonly said that — 

"Spilling or dropping wine 
Is a very lucky sign ; 
But spilling or dropping oil, 
Much good luck will spoil." 

However, when the wine upsets, some think it is witch-work, and so they put 
the palm of the hand in the wine, and then strike it on the forehead and say, 
making the sign of the cross : — 


**In nome del delo, 

Delle stelle e della luna! 
A chi me ha dato il malaugurio, 
Me lasda la buona fortuna ! '* 

("In the name of heaven. 
Of the stars and moon : 
May the one who gave misfortune, 
Bring me better luck and soon ! ") 

But that, vin repandu porte bonheur^ is a very old belief. It forms the theme of 
an old Norman-French fabliau. There is a very curious custom observed in La 
Romagna, which was thus described : — 

" When it has not rained for a long time and the fields are dry, they take stones and roll them through 
the field and say : — 

« < Queste pietre voglio rullare, 
Ma non rullo le pietre, 

Rullo le pietre, rullo I'acqua ^ 

Che in terra possa venire, 
Ed i campi mi possa umidire, 
£ cosi buona raccolta possa venire ! ' ** 

('* ' I wish indeed to roll this stone, 
And yet it is not it alone, 
I roll the stone that water may 
Come in these fields so dry to-day, 
And water well the thirsty field, 
So that it may good harvest yield ! ' ") 

Preller states {Rom. Myth,^ p. 312) that in the temple of Mars there was 
kept a great stone cylinder which, when there was a great drought, was rolled by 
his priests through the town. And we know that such an application of similar 
stones was common in Italy in dry seasons, especially in the country. And Labeo 
in his work on the Etruscan books of ritual, writes : " Fibrae jecoris sandaracei 
coloris dum fuerint, manales tunc vertere opus, est petras, id est quas solebant 
antiqui in modum cylindrorum per limites trahere pro pluviae commutanda inopia.*' 

Traces of the custom are found in other countries. 


As among the Romans, the picture of a bunch of grapes, rudely painted, is 
placed in vineyards in Northern Italy, as an amulet to secure a good crop. 

There are many curious ideas current as to old Roman and Etruscan relics, 
which are, however, generally supposed to be connected with ancient sorcery. On 
this subject I obtained the following very curious information : — 

" When a woman is inctnta^ or etueinU, she should not look at animals, and especially beware seeing 
those figures depicted or set forth in bronsei leather, or cloth, which are half animalTand half men, with heads 

48 ^ 


like goats and legs of Christians {col capo di capra^ e U gcunbe di Crisiiano], or faces with the legs of devils, 
like those of a horse (f^., Pan and the sylvan gods). 

" If a woman at such a time looks at these it may easily happen that she will have a son like them, for it 
may come to pass in such cases that he will be bom in similar form and so easily become a wizard." 

That is, the old latent sorcery will pass to the child and be developed in it. 
The images here referred to are mostly the old Roman bronze figures of rural deities 
or lares, which are so frequently found in schiavi, or excavations. Among these are 
many ex voto offerings, the same in nature with the little figures of wax so common 
in Catholic churches. It is worth observing that the ancients went to much greater 
expense in such marks of gratitude for divine aid than do modern Catholic Chris- 
tians. Bronze was dearer then than wax is now, but it was quite as freely 
employed by the faithful. 

Certain spells are used in Tuscany with a double meaning, that is to say, they 
are employed either to injure a certain person, or else to defeat an evil witch, or to 
break a spell or cure a disease. Among these are the following : A plant or herb, 
having had an incantation pronounced over it (nearly the same in form with several 
which I have given) is Jeft to wither, the belief being that, as it fades, the person or 
disease or enchantment will slowly die or vanish. Again, an apple is cut to pieces — 
a common form of magic — or an orange or lemon is stuck full of pins and left to 
dry up, with the same consequences. Also a stick is broken, which is similarly a 
formula known in the West where it has become a legal form, or else a piece of 
woollen felted or woven cloth is pulled apart. All of these spells are very ancient 
and may be found in certain conjurations, given in Lenormant's Magic Chal- 
dalenney for which they were translated from Accadian cylinders. The author 
remarks that while pronouncing them the operator had to perform certain con- 
jurations resembling those described in the PJiarmaceutria of Theocritus and in 
Virgil's VIII. the Eclogue, which are also essentially those now in use. The 
Assyrian incantations are as follows :— 


As this plant withers, so shall also the spell ! 

The burning fire shall devour it ! 

It shall not be arranged on the lines of a vine arbour ; 

it shall not be trained into an orchard, an ... ; 

the earth shall not receive its root ; 

its fruit shall not grow, and the sun shall not smile upon it ; 

it shall not be offered at the festivals of kings and gods ! 

The man who has cast the evil fate, his wife, 

the violent operation, the finger pointing, the written spell, the curses, the sins, 


the evil that is in my body, in my flesh) in my bruises, 

may [all that] be withered like this plant I 

May the burning fire devour it this day I 

May the evil fate depart and may I behold the light again ! 

As this fruit is divided into pieces, so shall also the spell be ! 
The burning (ire shall devour it ; 

it shall not return to the supporting branch from which it is cut off; 
it shall not be offered at the festivals of kings or gods ! 
The man who has cast the -evil fate, his wife, 

the violent operation [f.^., evil invocation], the finger pointing, the written spell, the curses, the sins, 
the evil that is in my body, in my flesh, in my bruises, 
may all [that] be divided in pieces like this fruit ! 
May the burning fire devour it this dayt 
May the evil fate depart, and may I behold the light again ! 

As this twig is plucked up and broken in pieces, so shall also the spell be, 
The burning Are shall devour it ! 

its fibres shall not again unite themselves to the trunk ; 
it shall not arrive at a perfect state of splendour ! 
The man who has cast the evil fate, his wife, 

the violent operation, the pointing with the finger, the written spell, the curses, the sins, 
The evil which is in my body, in my flesh, in my bruises, 
may [all that] be broken in pieces and plucked up like this twig ! 
May the burning fire devour it this day ! 
May the evil fate depart, and may I behold the light again ! 


As this wool is rent so also shall the spell be, 
The burning fire shall devour it 1 
It shall not return to the back of its sheep ; 
it shall not be offered for the garments of kings and gods ! 
The man who has cast the evil fate, his wife, 

the evti spell, the finger pointing, the written spells, the curses, the sins, 
the evil which is in my body, in my flesh, in my bruises, 
may all [that] be rent like this wool ! 
May the burning fire devour it this day ! 
May the evil fate depart, and may I behold the light again I 

Like unto this are two other incantations, one applied to rending a banner, 
the other to tearing up a piece of frilled stuff. I call attention to the fact that 
these are so strikingly like the modern Tuscan both as regards subject, spirit, and 
general treatment, that the burden of disproof in reference to a common origin 
should in common sense fall on the sceptic. These Chaldaean cylinders speak of 
seventy-seven fevers — /.^., all diseases — as coming from the seven primary demons 
of disease. The Bogomile Slavonian heretics of the fourteenth cientury also recog- 


nised the seventy-seven fevers and had an exorcism for them. And in an old 
German spell current in Pennsylvania we have as a cure for fever the following : — 

'* Good-morning, dear Thursday I Take away from the seventy-seven fevers ! O thou dear Lord 

Christ, take them away from him. . . ." 

In the Chaldaean incantation against the plague (/.£., the seventy-seven 
personified) the operator must turn his face towards the setting sun. In the 
German spell he must not speak to any one till after sunrise, which involves the 
same idea. 

H is very remarkable that all over the world a black pebble of kidney shape 
is supposed to be one of the most powerful of amulets. At the Folk-Lore Congress 
of 1 891, such stones were exhibited from widely different countries. I myself 
possess one which was brought from Missouri and presented to me by Miss Mary 
A. Owen, to which most extraordinary value and reverence was attached by the 
black Voodoos and their disciples. It had been kept with the most jealous care 
for many generations in the families of these sorcerers, and came originally from 
Africa. To become an ordinary Voodoo, the postulant must fast and watch, 
undergo revolting penances, and cultivate " power " and " will " all his life. But 
the possession of an authenticated " cunjerin*," or conjuring-stone, renders all 
this unnecessary, the owner by the mere act of possession becomes a grand 
past-master Voodoo, or multote^ and requires no further initiation. Even the 
chief black sorcerer in Missouri, or the king, has never been able to get one.' 
It would be useless to attempt to palm off a similar black pebble for a real 
one, since it is said that there are in all North America only six — or rather five, 
mine being one of the half-dozen — and their possessors are all well known, 
as is every mark in the stones. Black believers have been known to make a 
pilgrimage of a thousand miles to be touched with this marvellous stone — or to hold 
it in the hand. I hold it in my left hand as I write, mildly trusting that I may 
thereby charm, or at least interest thee, O reader. It must, like all Voodoo 
amulets, be carried in a wrapping, or a bag, which may be closed by wrapping a 
string round it, which must not, however, be tied, as that would prevent the free 
egress or ingress of the spirit which dwells in it Once a week it should be dipped 
in, or touched with, whiskey, but I am assured that eau de Cologne will answer just 
as well, which it surely ought to do, since the recipe for it was given by an angel to 
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. 

' This remarkable man who was known as " King Alexander " died while this work was being printed. 


Lead and Antimony. 

** Talismani erano pietre, o gemme co penetti di metaUo ... in forza di quale si credeva avessero 
straordinarie virti!i, e singolari, ma la frequenza loro, e il credito venne da* Gnostici, e da Basilidiano, de 
quali assai parla nel suo libro, santo Ireiieo."~i4r/« Magica Distrutta^ Maffbi» 1757. 

'* Non soldm ver6 in plantis qose vestigium habent vitse, sed etiam in lapidibus aspicere licet, imitationem 
et partidpationem, quandam luminum supemonim." — Proclus de Sacrificio e$ Magia (Interpre Marsilio 
FicxNO), LuGDUNi, 1577. 

A piece of lead ore is supposed to possess peculiar virtue as an amulet 
against mcdocchio^ or to bring luck. Of these I have seen three, two of which I 
possess, with the invocation which must be pronounced when one is tied up in the 
usual red woollen bag. Far more potent, however, are the old Roman sling- 
stones, or pointed slugs of lead, of which such numbers are everywhere found, and 
of which I have two, which I bought for a half-franc each, as talismans for the 
evil ey& But more effective still is a lump of crude antimony. This is supposed 


to also contain zinc and copper, which give it great power. For these I have also 
the scongiuraziani^ which are as follows. I believe them, however, to be imper- 
fectly recalled : — 

" Antimonio che sei di zingo e di rame : 
II pid potente ti tengo sempre con me, 
Perche tu mi alontani le cattive gente, 
Da me alontanera, 
E la buona fortuna a me attirerai ! " 

(" Antimony, who art of zinc and copper t 
Thou most powerful, I keep thee ever by me, 
That thou mayest banish from me evil people, 
And bring good luck to me.") 

That for lead was obtained for me, written in the following words, verb, et 

lit. :— 

** Antimogno che di piombo sei 
Non ai la stessa forza della zingo e rame, 
Ma prestati per la forza che tu ai 
Tutte le chattive persone da me alontanenu 
Bla buona fortuna mi attirerai 1 " 


("Thou antimony, w)\o art lead, 

Not h'aving the force of 2inc and copper, 
• . 3ut grant that by the power which thou hast, 
• That thou wilt keep all evil people from me ! V) 

It wiH be observed that in both of these invocations great stress is laid on the 
virtue of copper^ which is probably derived from the old Roman religious feeling 
regarding it, as the "body" of bronze. But after much weary inquiry, owing to the 
difficulty which my informant had to put her ideas into* form, I elicited these ideas : 
" The metals have all their occult virtues and their light — that is, their lustre — when 
broken ; de^p in the earth, and in darkness, this light still shines in itself; it is a 
h'ght dreaded by evil beings. Copper and gold have the reddest light ; this is the 
most genial, or luck-bringing ; and copper is supposed to form part of antimony. 
Antimony is stronger than lead, because it consists of three metals, or rather 
•always has' iri it copper and lead." 

There is strong confirmation of this theory in Cardanus {De Rerum 
VarietatBy xvi., 8, 9) and Peter of Aries {Sytnpathia septem metallorum et septem 
selectorum lapidum ad planetas. Paris, 171 1), or as it is set forth by Nork in his 
Eiymologisch-symbolisch-inythologisches Realworterbuch : — 

*' What the stars are in the nightly heaven, that are the gleaming metals in the dark abyss of the earth, 
therefore it is intelligible that those earthly gatherers of .light should be associated with the heavenly ones, and 
as the worship of light was concentrated in the sun and planets, so unto every leading planet there was 
assigned a glittenng metal according to its degree of radiaince." 

This is also curious since it suggests the source whence Novalis drew his 
famed simile that miners are inverted astrologers, reading in the earth the past, 
just as other seers read in the heavens the future. And it seemed to linger 
quaintly in the fancy that copper and antimony and lead have all their "light" 
atid magic mystic power. 

A few days ago I bought in ah old shop an amulet of lead ore in which 
a piece of copper was embedded. This was, as the American negroes say, " a 
mighty strong cunjerin* stone." So I purchased it for a franc — the bargain 
including two little old bronze Etruscan images, one of Aplu and the other of 
goA^osoo^ or ^Q deusincogniitis. 

Apropos of this shop, it was one where the prezzi fissi principle was carried 
out, that is, of fixed prices marked on the wares. This does not mean at all in 
Italy that a dealer will not take less, but that he binds himself not to take any 
more. The price is convenient as giving a basis for a bargain. Its being " fixed," 
according to the Italian idea, is that the piece of paper marked is "^j^," ix.y fixed, 


or stuck on the article indicated. Now this young man had the first volume 
of the Museum Etruscum of Antonio F. Gori, 1737, marked "ten francs," but 
seeing that I wanted it he offered it for eight. 

" Throw in that fourteenth-century Virgin on a panel, with a gold back- 
ground," I said, " and it's a bargain." 

So the Madonna was thrown in in a hurry — she was really well worth about 
tenpence — and we were all satisfied. 

This was indeed — as the French advertisement in a shop for the sale of Roman 
Catholic " idolatries " announced — " une Viferge d'occasion." I may here mention 
that these are the only kind of pictures which I ever buy ; in which I very much 
resemble a young gentleman of my acquaintance who only admires ladies with 
lai^e fortunes. All of his madonnas, like mine, have gold backgrounds. 

The picture was fearfully dilapidated, but with gesso and gouache colours, and 
white of eggs, and gum, and gold, I restored it so that it seems better than new 
for it looks every whit of its four hundred and fifty years, or even older. But then 
the surroundings are favourable to such work — for Florence is a famous place for 
rehabilitating damaged Virgins — and I have heard some marvellous stories about 
such rifatture — which I omit for want of space. 

(In poaaession of the Author.) 


Acorns, The Spell of the, 274 

Admission of imperfections, 17 

iElian, On the lizard, 268, 272 

Agobard, Bishop, 211 

Albertus Magnus, 158 

Albina, 123 

Algonkin Legends of New England, 13, 17 

Alpan {^de Alpena), 119 

Alpena, a goddess of the air,^flowers, and light, 

Amber beads as amulets, or cure for the eyes, 

Ambrosius, Bishop, Poem on the cock, 342- 

American Folk-Lore Journal^ 13 

Amethyst, The, 349-353 

Amulet in form^of mouse, 245 ; in form of pig, 

255 ; Amber beads, 267 
Amulets, Omens, and Small Sorceries, 363 
Anacreon, 179 
Ancient deities still existing in the Tuscan 

Romagna, 2 
Angelico, Beato, 123 
Anna, Saint, 246 

Anthony Antonio, St., 36, 117, 238-240 
Antimony and its virtues, 373 
Aplu, Apollo, 37-38 
Apple-Tree, Legend of, 225-226 
Apuleius, 82, 219 

Arabian Nights Entertainments^ 30, 235 
Archilochus, 177 
Aretino Pietro, medal, 19 
Aristophanes, 256, 270 
Aries, Peter of, 374 
Arno, The river, 65 
Amobius, 117, 255 

Arrimini^ Ilprete Stregone, 135 

Artemisia, 162 

Arval Brothers, Hymn of, 49, 80 

Ashes, Divination by, 345-348 

Atta Navius, and the birds, Legend of, 271 

Attilio, 141, 161 

Augustin {Civ. Dei.), 96 

Augustus, Emperor, and Fortuna Redux, 70 

Aurora, 78 

Authenticity of these traditions, &c., 14-15 


Babe bewitched, 324, 360 

Bacchus, 257 

Baphomet, 131 

Baptist, John the, 1 53 

Barbatus, St., 190 

Baretti, Italian Dictionary, 116 

Basile, Gian, Battista, 218 
(^Basket origin of interlaces, 170 ^ 

Bauhinus, Caspar, 58, 103, 132 

Baumnymphen (tree-nymphs), 112 

Beato Angelico, 333 

Befania, 312, 321-322 

Bellaria, 119, 133 

Bell, Dr., Puck (on the Black Hen) 355, 

Bell, The Spell of the, 356-359 

Bell rung to prevent storm, 217 

Bells used for charms, 356 

Benevento, Walnut-tree of, 152 {vide Walnut 
Witches, 185, &c.) 

Bergoia, 11 2-1 16 

Bemoni, 219 

Bewitchment by food, 206-207 

Birds and Treasures, 270-272 
V Birds, Divination by, 345 

Blaize, Lord, Fire and Salt, 325 





Blood-baths, 294 

Bodinus, 182, 184 

Bohme, Jacob, 317 

Bolton, Carrington, on Counting-out rhymes, 

Bosch, Jerome, 209 
Bostonians, 109 

Bovo of Volterra, the Spirit of the Baize, or 

ravines, 139 
4 Boy, American, and Santa Claus, 361 
Brinton, Dr. J. G., in 
Broom and sorcery, 79, 207 
Broom-plant, 139 

Browne, Sir Thomas, 109, 177-178 
Browning, Robert, 332 

Bughin, the Spirit of Rust in Wheat, 116-117 
Bulletin^ Philadelphia Evening, 1855. Article 

advocating Cremation, 347-348 
Bunsen, 187 

Buovo di Antona, 139-140 
Burmann, Anthol. LaL, 34 
Buschet, possibly Apollo, 27-30 


Caesar Borgia, 197 

Cannephoroe, T^ 

Cantare alia contadinesca, 7 

Cardanus, Jerome, 151,374 

Carmenta, Carmentis, 62-63 

Carna, or Cardea i^uide Carradora), 107 

Carradora, 107-109 

Casselius, De Sacrificiis porcinis, &c, 254 

Cassius, Dion, 149, 345 

Castagna (or lafica\ Sign of, 205 

Cat and Hare skins in magic cures, &c., 289- 

Cat, The Witch, 221-222 
Catlin, 186 

Cato {De re Rustica), 51, 195, 197, 198 
Cavaletta, La, 177-18 1 
Ceppo, or Yule log, 103 
Ceres, 204, 233-234, 255 
Certificates of gods, 6 
Chaucer, 209 
Child bewitched, 203 
Child of Midnight, 213 
Christians, Early, and Ivy, 257 * 
Chuculvia, 33, 79 

^Church of Rome and sorcery, 361 
Cicero, 61 
Claudius, 11, 42, 43 

Clemens Alexandrinus, 255 

Clothes, The Spell of the Boiling, 359-361 

Cocquius, History, &-c,, Plantarum, 311 

Codex Nazaraeus, 75 

Coin, Finding a ; Incantation to a, 365 

Colours, Divination by, 366 

Colquhoun, Sir Patrick, 356 

Comparetti, Senator D., 4, 8, 43, 139 

Constantine, Emperor, 294 

Consus, the Roman god of horses, 118-U9 

Contentezza, Lo Spirito della, the Spirit of Con- 
tent, or Fortuna Redux, 70 

Corbet, Bishop, 210 

Coi-da, La, 135 

Corina, Curena, Spirit of the Wind, 175 

Com gods of Germany and Italy, 117 

Corredoia, or Corredoio, 72-75 

Corssen, Sprache der Etrusker, 43, 67, 78, 90, 

Cose le quattro della buona fortuna (the four 
ingredients of good luck), 286-287 

Counting-out and reversing rhymes, or spells, 

Cradle, The Spell of the, 306 

Cremation advocated by the author in 1855, 

Crescentius, 197 
Creuzer, Syptdolik, 255 
Cross, Divination by aid of, 366 
Cupra, 161, 182-185 
Cures, Minor, from Marcellus, 281-298 
Curitis, a name of Juno, 73 


Death, Exorcism of, 303-306; Incantation, 

Delancre, 155 

Dennis, George, Cities of Etruria, 27, 36, 58, 
70, 129, 138, 149, 184 

Destruction of objects to avert witchcraft, &c. 
370-371 '' 

Deuce, Dus {vide Dusio) 126 
Devils in trees, 187 

Devil- worship in Palermo— worship of mur- 
derers, 245-246 

Diana, 125; and Herodias, 150-156; Tree of 
155, 191 

Diefenbach, 127 

Dieu et la Bayadere, 30 
Difficulties in collecting, 5, 7 10 
Dion Cassius, 319 



Dionys, i6i 

Discordia (the herb), 330 

Divination, Incantation, &c. {vide Part II.), 

Dvvinite ^ la religione degli Etrusci of Prof. 

Milani, 5 
Dobeneck, F. L. F., 21 1 
Dog-leash in magical cures, Incantation, 293 
Dreams, 343, 344 
Du Cange, 126-127 
Duck in magical cures, 294 
Durandus {fiat Div. Offic.)^ 257 
Dusio, 126-129, 161, 184 


Earthworms as a cure, 285 ; magical properties 

of, 286 
Egg-shells, Incantation, 368 
Elia, Saint (Elias), 242 
Eliseo, Saint, 241-242 
Elves, Dwarfs, 222-224 
Emerson and Alcott, 48 
Empusa, 30-33 
Esta, or Vesta, 61-62 
Etruscan origin of the Bolognese or Romagnoli, 

2 ; books of magic, 1 1 ; myth and modem 

legends, 114 
Euhemerus, Doctrine of, 75, 100, 344 
Eusebius, 45 

Evil Incantations, 326-333 
Exorcism of Death, The, 303-306 
Eyes, Cure for afflicted, 242, 283-284, 289 


Fallon, 6, 65-70 

Fairies, 162 ; various names of, 165 ; Scotch, 194 

Fairies and Goblins, &c., 2 

Fanio, Faunus, 98-103 

Faunus, vide 103 

Feathers, Witch Song of, 205 

Fenzi, Emanuele, 44 

Feronia, 54-58, 185 

Festus, 105, 123 

Fetishes in Tuscany, 10 

Fevers, The, 372 
^ Fidelity, to secure in women, 294.295 
"^Firefly, Invocation to, 367 

Fire, Spirit of, 312-313 

Flame, Divination by, 318 

Floria, Flora, 136-138 

Folk-Lore Journal^ The English^ 13 ; American^ 

FoUetti, or minor spirits, 2 

Formicola, La (The Ant), 287 

Fomaio, II, 247 

Fortuna Redux, 70 

Eraser, John, The Etruscans^ 30, 54, 57 

/Friday a lucky day, 45 —*^ 

Friedrich, J. B., 48, 120, 162, 174, 179, 187, 205, 

230, 254, 272, 295, 307, 310, 317, 330, 334, 

Fufluns, Fuflunus, &c., 65 

Fulgosus, 207-208 


Gaffarelius (Curiosities), 169 

Gallo il Canto del, 341-345 

Ganzio, the Spirit of the Stables, 11 7- 11 9 

Garment, New, 366 

Gerard, Mrs., 355 

Gerda and Meta, 135 

Gerhard, Eduard, Gottheiien der EtruskeVy 67, 

78,90,91, 103, 131, 135, 185 
Girl with wheelbarrow and books, &c., 18, 352, 

Giuoco, II Spirito di (The Spirit of Gambling), 

Gladstone, W. E., 9, 38 
Glooskap, or Glusgabe, 1 1 1 
Gobelinus, or Goblin, 150 
Goblins and Familiar Spirits, 98, 99, 165 
^Goblins, Origin of, and other monstrous forms 

in Gothic churches, 305-306 
Goddess of the Four Winds, 170, 172-176 
Goethe Bayadere, 30 
Gori, Antonio F., Museum Eirus.^ 375 
Gout, Cure for, 297 
Grain on coals, Divination by, 319 
Grapes, Bunch of, in vineyards, 369 
Grass or flowers on old ruins indicate fairies, 

Gray, Mrs. Hamilton, Hist, of Etruria, 53 ; 

on Begoe, 1 16, 201 
Grillandus, Paulus, 151, 197, 315,346, 347 
Grimm, J., 163, 225, 258, 260, 271, 274, 293, 347 
Gubernatis, Count Angelo de, 9, 16, 253, 330 
Guirlanda della Strege, 138, 353, et seg. 
Gypsies, 3 ; Hungarian, 114 
Gypsy legend of Sun and Moon, 90 



Gypsy- Lore Journal^ 298 
Gypsy-Lore Society, 16 


Haakon, Earl, Legend of the pigsty and the 

serf, 254-255 
Hail and Cloud Men, 209-217 
Hailstones, Miraculous, 212-213 
Halfdan legend, 251 
Hare, The Spell of the, 258-261 
Harold Harfagr, 252 
Hartung, Relig. d, Romer^ 175 
Hawthorne, Witch Tale, 219 
Hayllar, Mrs., 138 
Headache and hairs, 281 
Headache, Cure for, 256-257 
Heimskringla, or, Early Chronicles of Norway, 

Heine, H., Gods in Exile, 21, 30, 49, 65, 165, 

216, 265, 268, 298 
Heir of Lynne, 86 
Hen, Black, Spell of the, 353 
Herodias, 150-156 
Herrick, 210, 324 
Hervor Saga, The, 253 
Hildebrand {Theurgia), Tale of Demons, 260 
Hippolytus, 126 
Hoke, N. C, on carrying the cradle upstairs, 

306 , 

Holmes, O. W., Dr., 200 
Holy Stone and Salagrana, 333-337 
Horace, Sat.^ 54 
^Horse-shoe amulet, 366-367 
Horst, 126, 150, 211, 316 
House-leek, guards against thunder, 258 
Hugo, Victor, 216 


Impusa della Morte, 30-33 

Incense on coals, Divination by, 320, 321 

Interlace, The (Twining serpents, vines, and 

knots), 165 
Invocations, Evocations, Spells, or 
scongiurazioni :— 

Acorns, To, 274, 275, 276 

Albina, 124 

Amethyst Amulet, 350 

Antimony, To, 373 

Ants, To, 287 

Aplu, 38 

Invocations, &c., continued— 
Apple-tree, To 'an, 226 
Ashes and Holy Wafer, J46 
Assyrian incantation, 172 
Backbiters and Gossips, Spell against, 322 
Befania, To, 321 
Bell, Incantation to a, 357 
Bergoia, 11 2- 11 3 
Black Hen, 354, 355 
Boat, To a, 219 
Boiling clothes, 359, 361 
Bughin, 116 
Carradora, 108-109 
Cavalletta, La, 178-179 
Cock, To a, 341 
Corredoio, 73 
Cradle, Spell of the, 307 
Death Exorcism, 304, 305 
Dog's-leash, 293 
Duck, Spell of, 294 
Dusio, 128 

Earthworms, 285-286 
Egg-shells, For, 368 
Elia, To Saint, 242 
Elisaeo, To Saint, 241-242 
Enemy, To injure an, 328, 329, 330, 331 
Evil, Charm to do, 328 
Eyes, Remedy for, 289 
Faflon, 69 
Feronia, 55 

Fever, Spell to cure, 372 
Fidelity, 295 
Firefly, To a, 367 
Fire, To the, 313 
Flame, To the, 318 
i^Four lucky things, 287 
Fruit, To protect, 323 
Gambling, Spirit of. To, 227-229 
Ganzio, 118 
Garment, A new, 366 
Goddess of the Four Winds, 173-174 
Gout, For the, 296, 297 
Grain on coals, 319, 320 
Grotto, To a, 224 
Hail Spirits, 215 
Hairs, Invocation to, 281 
Hare, Spell to, 259 
Holy stone, A perforated, 333 
Incense on coals, 320, 321, 322 
Ivy, Spell to, 257 
Jano, 130 



Invocations, &c., continued— 

Keys, Invocation to, 364 

Ladder, Binding to, 282 

Lasii, 86 

Lead, Spell to, 308, 309, 310 

Lead, To, 373 

Lea, To the witch, 236 

Lizard, Green, 266, 267 

Lo Spirito della Contentezza, 70 

Lucia, Santa, To, 280, 285 

Marriage, To c'urse a, 331 

Marta, La bella, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148 

Meana, 131, 132 

Milk of a woman, 280 

Moles, 295 

Montulga, 133 

Mote in the eye, 283, 284 

Norcia, 36 

Oil, Befania, 312 i 

Oil for love, 315, 316 

Pal6, 60-61 

Pano, 46 

Patina, 232 

Poppy-pod, Invocation to, 365 

Querciola, 104 

Ra, 138 

Red Cap, 163 

Remle, 129 

Salagrana, Invocation to, 336 

Saliva, With, 279-280 

San Antonio, 117, 239, 240, 252 

Santa Barbara, 22 

Saw, Witches', 302 

Serpent's skin, 283 

Shell, To a, 338 

Silviano, 59 

Simeone, Saint, To, 244 

Snail, To a, 341 

Sore eyes, 284 

Sore throat, For a, 367 

Spells, Chaldaean, 370, 371 

Spider, Spell to, 262, 263, 264 

Spirito del Scaldino, 160 

Spirits, To, 156,157 
^Star, falling, Spell to, 273 

Stone cast into water, 339 

Stone, Rolling a, 369 

Swallow, Spell to, 277-278 

Tdram6, 26 

Tesana, 77-78 

Threshold, Spell of, 292 

Invocations, &c., continued— 

Tinia, 21 ; to the herb Tinia or Tigna, 23 

Tituno, 122 

Toad, Spell to, 290-291 

Turanna, 40, 41, 42 

Verbena, To, 288 

Wind (to a lover), 175 

Wine, Spilling, 368, 369 

Witches, To, 201, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208 

Wood, Cross of, 365 
Irving, Washington, 209 
Isodore of Seville, 127 
Isodorio, Saint, 122 
Italian and Northern goblins, &c., 6a 
lulda, Z/z/a/<7, 135 
Ivy and Statue, Spell of, 256 


Jano, Janus, 1 30-1 3 1 
Jettatura and Castagna, oxfica^ 263 
Joseph and Potiphar's wife, 45 
Juvenal, 173 


Katydid, a kind of cicada (vide La Cavaletta), 

Keats, 216 

Key and sieve, 365 

Keys, Divination by, 364 ; as amulets, 364 

Kircher {(Edip- /Egypt) y 352 

Knife, Invocation to, 368 

Kornmann, Henry, 131 

Kugler, Geschichte der Malerei^ 268 


Labeo, Books of Tages, 201 

Lactantius, 63. 94, 143, 344 

Ladder or Stair, Binding to, 282 

Lambertus Alutarius, Legend of, 192-193 

Lamia, The Serpent Witch, 135 

Lamp, Spell of the, 324-325 ; snuff, uses of, 325 

Laronda, The Spirit of the Compitum (barracks) 
or of public buildings, 94-95 

Larunda {vide Laronda), 94-95 

Lases, Lares, 4, 6, 80-90 

Lea, The Witch, 235-237 

Lead, and its magic virtues, 373 

Lead, Divination with, 307-311 

Legends not generally known, 5 ; rapidly dis- 
appearing, 7 



Leland, Charles Godfrey, Gypsy Sorcery^ 355 

Le Lutin du Chateau, 121 

Lemuri, Lemures, 95 

Lenormant, Magie ChaUUuenne (on domestic 

house goblins), 101-102, 171 
Letters, Divination by, 363 
Leucothea, 146 
Libia, Livia, Lea, 237 

Libitina, Libentina, &c. {.vide Lea), 236-237 
Lilith, 150 

Livy, on the Tuscans, 11, 56, 3^3 
Lizard, Spell of the green, 265 ; Ballad of the, 

268 ; to secure fidelity, 294 
Lorenzo, Lawrence, Saint, 246 
Losna, 90-93, 285 {.cut) 
Lover, The, in the Well, 339 
Lucian, Dialog, Marin.^ 234 
Lucia, Santa, 289 


Machiavelli, 197 

Mackitchie, David, 164, 298 

Macrobius, 109 

Madonna del Fuoco, 176 

Maffei, Magica Distrutta^ 358 

Magonia, 21 1-2 16 

Maia, Illusion^ 334 

Maiale, La Stalla di, 251 

Maimond, Moses, 155 

Mania della Notte, 6, 51-53, 55 

Manuale di Spiriti Folletti, 238 

Marcellus Burdigalensis, De Medicamentis^ &c., 
4, 198', 256, 257, 258, 263, 265, 266, 267, 272, 
274, 275, 277, 278, 279, 282, 283, 284-298, 325 

Mariengarn (Veil of the Virgin), 263 

Marriage, To injure or prevent, 330-331 

Marta, La bella^ 143-150 

Martea, 49 

Martian on Lemures, 96 

Martins, Picus, 272 

Maso, or Mars, 49-51 

Mater Matuta, 53, 143 

Mauritius, Martin, Tractatus phiL de Sortitione, 
&c., 277 

Maury, M. L. F. Alfred, 149 

Max M tiller, 149 

Meana, the Spirit appearing to brides, 130-133 

Medals, Old Roman, 19 

Medals of the three kings from the East, 300 

Meg Merrilies, 263 

Memrun, or Memnon, 119 

Mena, 132-133 

Mercury {vide Tdramd), 25 

Mema {vide Meana), 132 

Meta and Gerda (misprint Goda), 247 

Metals, Mysterious power of, 374 

Meteranus (Nied, Hist.), 213 

Meursius, Johannes, De Ludis Grcecorum^ 276 

Milani, Prof., 4 

Milan, Riot in, 360 

Mill Stone, 335 

Minerals and plants, 12 

Minerva, 131 

Mirandola (Picus or Pico), 126, 184, 197, 255 

Mirror, Etruscan mirror of Losna, from 

Praeneste, 91 
Mirrors, Chinese magic, 93 
Mob outrage in Milan, 13 
Moles in Magic, 295-296 ; Swallowing the heart 

confers gift of prophecy ^ 296 
Moloch or Malloch, 127 
Mome, Geschichte des HeidenthumSy 253 
Mommsen, 54 
Monti, Feronuzdey 57 
Montulga, Munthuch, 133 
Moro, II, Legend of, 235 
Miiller, Karl Ottfried, 11, 21, 22, 33, 34, 51, 54, 

55i 56, 67, 80, 82, 90, 113, 143, 177 


Needle, Divination by, 363 
Newman, Cardinal, 300 
Nibelungenlied, 222 
Norcia, or Nortia, 34-37, 138 
Nork {Realw'6rterbucK)y 187, 334, 374 
Northall, G. F., English Folk-Rhymes, 277 
Novena, La, di Santo Simeone, 243-244 
Nurbia, the Spirit of Health, 135 


Oddo the monk, 335 

Odericus Vitalis, 1 50 

Odin, and Odin Stones, 335 

Offerings to Spirits, 156-158 

Oil, Divination by, 311-317 

Oppert, G., 334 

Oreo, Orcus, 75 

Ordeal by hot coals, &c. — authors on the 

subject, 57 
Orphic hymn, 48 



Ovid, Fasti^ 48, 61, 73; of Larunda,.94, 117, 

119, 161,227,256, 323 
Owen, Miss Mary A., 113, 164, 172, 222, 260, 

262, 266, 298, 318, 329 


Paine and IngersoU, 188 

Pal6, Pal us, 60-61 

Pano, Pan, 45-48 

Panzer, Bayer, Sagen, 51, 106, 216, 256 

Paradinus, Claudius, 253 

Parker, Theodore, prayed to death, 314 

Pascasius Justus de Alea, 42, 87 

Paschal, the Pope, 188 

Patkna, 230-234 

Patellana, Patella, 233 

Paternoster, a doppio^ 238 

Peasants, Etruscan, not changed, 1 1 

Pebble, Black, of the Voodoos, 372 

Penna, Maligna^ La, 135 

Peppino, 6, 15, 70, 122 

Persecution of the early faith, 98 

Persius, 165 

Petronius, 163 

Phoenician language, 349 

Piccini, Dom, 185 

Picinelli, Mundus Symbolic ^ 352 

Pico, Picus, 135, 272 

Picus, 163 

Pierce, Jacob, 352 

Pig-pen, Sleeping in a, 256 

Pigs offered to Ceres, 255 ; gold and silver pigs 

worn by ladies, 255-256 
Pine-cone, Divination by, 363 
Pipemus, P., 188, 189, 191, 194 
Pippo, Im vendetta di^ 219, 220 
Pispi, the thief, 221 ; Pisdifje, 221 
Pitch, in medicine, 282 ; to break love, 296 
Pitr^, G., 25, 148, 238, 245, 247, 271 
Plants, mystical, 172, 173 
Pliny, Hist. Nat, 58, 272, 289, 296, 343 
Plutarch, 161 
Pocahontas, 154 
Pope and Cardinals, 72 
Poppy, sacred to dreams, 365 ; in omens, 319 
Pork and Beans, an Athenian dish sacred to 

Cardea, 109 
Porphyrins, 96 

Porta, J. Baptista, 93, 158, 349, 351 
Praetorius, Johannes, 98, 103, in, 128, 154, 

158, 172, 189, 196, 212, 343, 359 

Prediction as to £. Fenzi, 44 

Preller, Romiscke Mythologies 26, 36, 49, 60, 
61, 63, 87, 91, 94 ; on Faunus, 100, 101, 105, 
ic8, 112, 117, 118, 125, 163, 164, 177, 184, 233, 
236, 272, 274, 323 

Pyromancy and Incense, 317 


Querciola, 103-106 
Querkeln, 106 
Querquetula, 105 


Ra, 16, 138-139 

Rabbis on the Amethyst, 352 

Rabelais, 16, 186 

Rakish divinities and goblins, 183 

Rand, Rev. S., 14 

Raphael, 268 

Red Cap goblin, 162-165 

Redi, Bacco in Toscana^ 69 

Reiner, on Buovo di Antona, 140 

Relics and antiques, Etruscan, 369-370 

Religion of nature, 98 

Remle, the Spirit of Mills, 129 

Rhea Sylvia, 139 

Ring, Divination by, 363 

Ring Sorcery, 362 

Robigo, 117 

Robin Goodfellow, 129 

Roger of Sicily, Ring of King, 363 

Rolling a stone for rain, 369 

Romagna Toscana, La, i* 2, 3 

Roman Divination and Rites of Etruscan origin, 

Romualdus, King, 190, 191 
Rosa, Salvator, 47 
Rosolaccio, 173 
Ross, Janet, 195 
Rosy-hood, Little Lady, 324 
Rubezahl, identical with Silvanus, 60 
^Rue, The Wreath {Corona) of, 284 
Rueus, F., De Gemmis, 35 1 
Ruskin, 216 


Sainted murderers in Sicily, 245-246 

Saints Antonio, Simeone, Roco, and Anna, 10, 

64, 245 
Saints, Wizard, 237-247 

Salagrana and Salagrama, 333-337 



Satan, 152 

Scaldino, II Spirito del, 1 59 

Schedius, 71, 162, 176, 234 

Scheffel, W., 65 

Schwenk, Myth. d. Slaven^ 347 

Scott, Sir Walter, 209, 263 

Secrecy of Witch-lore, 3, 10 

Sega delle Strege, or the Witches' Saw, Incan- 
tation, 301-302 

Seneca, 270; CEdipus^ 318 

Sensuality and fertility in early mythology, 91 

Sentiero, II, or Terminus, 63-64 

Serpents painted, 168 

Serpent's skin. Symbolism and Spell, 283 ; face, 

Sethano, Sethlrano, Settrano, the Spirit of Fire, 

Sethlans, the Etruscan Vulran, 106 

Shairp, Prof., 216 
^Shakespeare, 161, 210, 291 

Shamrock, 176 

Shelley, 216 

Shiva and Vishnu, 334 

Shoemaker of Vol terra, 16 

Shoes and Gloves, or Stockings, Boiled, 361 
^ Sicily, Superstition in, 246 

Siero-Siera, 33-34 

Silius Italicus, 56 

Silkworms, 171 

Silviano Silvanus, 58-60 

Simeone, // Vecchio Santo, 243-247 

Simon, Saint, 243 

Skeletons and forms of Death used to banish 
Death, 305 

Sling-stone, Roman, 373 

Somnus, Somnone, 247 

Sorcery in Ancient Art, 165-172 

Southey, Robert, 359 

Spell, The, of the Boiling Clothes, 359 

Spell of the Black Hen, 205 

Spell of the Shell and the Tone of the Stone, 

Spider, Spell of the, 261-265 ; as an amulet, 

264 ; indicates lucky numbers, 264-265 

Spiders and adventuresses, 265 

Spittle on the eyes, 279 

Sprenger, Mai. Male/., 316 

Spulviero, a God of Storms, 78-79 

St.Jame^s Gazette, 340, 344 

N Star, The Spell of the falling, 272-273 

Stone cast into a Well, 339 

Stones to see spirits, 333 

Stool (Sgabelld) in magical cures with incanta- 
tion, 292 
Strabo (on Feronia), 57, 143, 185 
Street boys and Witches, 208 
Stregeria, or witchcraft, 2 
Stregoneria, 198 ; Libretto di, 244 
Strigenitius, 342 
Suetonius, 42 
Suidas, 33 

Sun and Moon myths {;uide Losna), 90-93 
Sunflowers, 158 
JS wallow brings luck, 225 
Swallow, Spell of the, 277 
Sweet potato. Divination by a, 363 
Swinburne, 216 
Symonds, J. A., 216 
Syrinx, 47 


Taboo, 185, &c. 

Taegis, Bartolomeo (Riposte), 43 

Tago, Tages, 96-98, 235 

Takroori sorcerers, 172 

Talbot, Fox, 116 

Talena, or Salena, 133 

Tanaquil and Tarquin, 161 

Taurinus, St, 150 

Temme, Volksagen, 334 

Tennyson, Lord, 288 

T^ram6 (certificate), 6 ; chapter on, 25-27 

Terieg^h {vide Tages), 96-98 

Terminus, 63 

Tertullian, Div. Inst.j 75, 126, 149 

Tesana, Thesan, the Spirit of the Dawn, 75-78 

Thamnus, an Egyptian, 45 

Tharamis, a Celtic- Scythian god, 27 

Theocritus, 260, 346 

Thomas of Canterbury, 127 

Threshold, Magic virtue in, 282 

Thunder, Etruscan gods of, and lightning, with 

authorities on the subject, 114 
Tinia, and other deities still known, 2 ; cursed 

by the priests, 6, 18-25 » ^ storm-god, 79,215 
Tituno, a Spirit of Thunder, 122, 215 
Toad in magical work, 290-291, 329 
Tomai, Tommaso, of Ravenna, Giardino del 

Mondo, 33 
Tombs, Etruscan, 166 
Torres, Archbishop, 148 
Tour de Nesle, 237 



Tozzi, the baker, 135 

Tractatus Magicus^ 340 

Tradition, Tuscan adherence to, in all ages, 11 

Tradition, Transmission of, or borrowing — uses 

and abuses of the theor>', 300 
Tritium Magicunty 317, 319 
Troll ope, Aug., 169 
Truffles, Goddess of {vide Norcia), 34 
Turanna, Turan, 38-45 
Tylor, Mr., 356 

Ulf Uggason's Saga, 195 
Unwin, T. Fisher, 93 
Urfia, a benevolent spirit, 79 


Varro, 55, 116, 197, 208, 233, 236 

Vasantasena, 30 

Vases, Etruscan, 166, 167 

Vatican, Mus. Etrusc.<, 119 

Venus {vide Turanna), 38 

Verbena, 288 ; the holy plant, 289 

Verbio, 124-126 

Vergers, Noel des, 89-90, 185 

Vertumnus, 70, 138 

Vesta, 61-62, 177 

Villemarque, 127 

Vira, 109-112 

Virbius {vide Verbio), 125 

Virgil, 49, 54, 260, 313,346 

Virgil, Polydore, 317 

Virgin, Repairing a picture of the, 375 

Virgines, Viragines, Virae, 112 

Volterra, 139 

Voodoo sorcerers in America, 11, 113, 172, 222, 
260, 262 ; charms, 298, 318, 329 (note) ; con- 
juring-stone, 350 ; charm in a bed, 356 ; 
pebble, 372 


Wafer, Consecrated, 346 
Walnut, Maid enciente by a, 191 
Walnut-tree legends, 185-195 
Walnut-witches, 185-195 
Westwood, Palaografhia Picta^ 169 
Wild Boar of Ardennes, 1 1 1 
Winckelmann, 175 
Wind, God of the, 175 
Wind- roses, 174 
Wine or oil, Spilling, 368 
VWise Men of the East, The Three, and the 

Witch Medals, 298-302 
Witch, anecdote of, 15 ; in old palace, 37 ; 

of Castrocaro, 200 ; medals, 298-299 
Witches as animals, 203; and witchcraft, 195- 

202 ; stories of, 218-222 
Witches' Ladder, 138, 353 {vide Spell of the 

Black Hen) 
Wizard priest, 195, 196 ; saints, 237-247 
Wlislocki, 206 
Wolf {Mdhrchen)y 324 
Wunderhom, Des Knaben, 303 


Zanchi, Legend of, 203 

Zeuss, 127 

Zumia, La Strega^ 135