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their origin in the life of hunters and herdsmen. They are founded on appearances of nature and the legendary accounts of the movements of beasts. Still more delicate and complete were the auguries founded on the flight of birds. The Greeks Romans had carried this department of soothsaying to great perfection, and the practice and particular instances of it will occur to all our readers. The ancient Germans were equally addicted to this species of divination.
“ What bird has whispered that in thine ear ?” “ A little bird has sung that to me,” are become popular phrases from this source. Modern Greek and the Servian popular songs are very frequently opened by flying birds, and birds that turn themselves round in all directions, and hold conversations. We have already spoken of the prophetic note of the cuckoo. It belongs to the omen of success, when the traveller unexpectedly hears its voice in a wood. Birds whose movements are prophetic are called Way-birds. How early these superstitions found their way amongst the German people is shown by the following. Hermigisel, king of Warner, as he was riding over the field, 'saw a bird sitting on a tree and heard it crow. Being acquainted with language of birds, the king said to his followers that it had foretold his death within fourteen days.
Prophetic ants, and swarms of bees hanging on houses, betoken fire or damage. Their appearance in the camp of Drusus is an historical fact (Pliny, ii. 18). The choice of particular days, or the preference of them, prevailed amongst the Jews, the Greeks, and probably amongst all heathen nations. “Nullus observet," preached Eligius, "quæ die domum exeat, vel qua die revertatur, nullus ad inchoandum opus diem vel lunam attendat." The ancient Germans appear to have regarded Wednesday and Saturday as sacred to their chief gods, Woutan and Donor. On the other hand, Wednesday and Friday are rejected witch-days. According to the Witch-prosecutions the devil appears chiefly on Saturday and Tuesday ; but Monday also was reckoned unlucky to begin anything fresh upon. On Tuesday people should ride out and make marriages. Sunday is a fortunate day.
The healing art amongst the heathen was half sacerdotal, half magical. Experience and a higher education gave to the priests the knowledge of the healing powers of nature; and from the sanctity of their office proceeded sentences of blessing full of curative influence. Through the whole of the Middle Ages, we see the clergy especially in possession of medicines and the gift of using them. But a part of that pagan teaching passed over to the “knowing men and women," who, through the retention of superstitious customs and abuses, actually gave
reputation of a curative art. Both witchcraft and medicine fell to the share of women, and from the same causes. A physician was called in the Gothic, Lekeis ; in Anglo-Saxon, Lanen; in the old Norse, Läknir; in Swedish, Läkare. The English Leech is degraded to a quack amongst the peasantry, or a cattledoctor. Lachenäre, Lachenärinne, express Sorcerer and Sorceress. One of the Scandinavian Asinor was considered the most experienced of doctresses. Amongst the people there are still old women who practise forms of invocation, stroking, sprinkling, and blessing. It is remarkable that the healing formulas are said only to take effect from men upon women, and from women upon men. There are shepherds who are said to have a preeminent faculty for healing; and formerly this was the case amongst herdsmen and hunters.
Demi-goddesses, wise women, were possessed of the power of healing. Crescentia received the gift of curing all diseases; according to the old French poem (Méon, n. ii. 2, 71, 73) merely the leprosy. The queens of antiquity were said to have the power of curing certain diseases by the touch. In Rother, 32 f, 33 a, the queen stroked the lame and the crooked with a stone. The kings of France and England are said to
If a woman has seven. sons in succession, the seventh is believed to be able with a blow of his hand to heal all injuries. According to Ettner's midwife, he can cure goitre by the touch.
Christianity considers disease to be a dispensation of God; heathenism treated it as the work of spirits, and it was thus regarded as something elfish. Of course, the
possess a similar
diseases of animals were also the effect of spirits. In the fourth formula Stesso with his nine young ones is adjured to come out of the flesh and skin of the lame horse. Hydrophobia is said to be owing to a worm under the tongue of dogs, and that the worm may be extracted. A disease of horses is called the blowing worm, which reminds us of the blowing Hold. According to the popular faith a witch can conjure its Hold or Elf into men as well as beasts.
Amongst the multitude of superstitious means of cure, the following are striking. It was a most ancient custom to measure the sick, partly for the purpose of cure, and partly to ascertain whether the disease increased or decreased; and we find in both books of Kings that Elijah and Elisha measured themselves upon the lifeless bodies of the children, and that by that means the life returned into them.
Next to the water-drawing and sprinkling of the knowing woman is the blessing the door-sill of a house with the stroke of an axe. But another mode of healing was of letting the children or cattle pass through a hollow scooped in the earth, or through the opening of a cleft tree. This it was supposed cast out all witchcraft, or to annihilate it, or to cure sympathetically. If a child did not willingly learn to walk, it was made to creep through the long withes of the blackberry-bush which were grown down to the earth. Sick sheep were passed through the cleft of a young oak. This slipping through the cleft of the oak, or through the earth, seems to have been with the view of transferring the disease to the genius of the tree or the earth : but it is not related what were the diseases thus cured. In the last century the English peasantry cured ruptures in this manner. Diseases and means of cure were also buried in the earth, and especially in the nests of ants. To this mode belongs the cure of epilepsy in the tenth century by a buried peach-blossom, as Ratherius relates incredulously.
This transference of the disease to the tree, or rather to the spirit which lived in it, is curious. Amongst the forms of adjuration, we find the commencement thus :-“Twig, I bind thee; fever, now leave me.” Westendorp relates the following Netherlands practice :- Whoever has the ague, let him go early in the morning to an old willow tree,
tie three knots in a branch, and say, "Good morning, old one! I give thee the cold; good morning, old
He must then turn round quickly, and run off as fast as he can without looking behind him. The gout must be handed over to an old pine tree. A number of syınpathetic means either heal or do more mischief. Thus the jaundice Lecomes incurable if a yellow-legged hen flies over the patient, but is cured by looking into black cart-grease. Spanning over a can or a bowl brings out spasms of the heart. Twisting a willow cures a twisted neek or cuts in the body. To cure St. Anthony's Fire you must strike sparks over it. Break a loaf of bread over the heads of children that learn to speak with difficulty ; a tooth that is pulled must be stuck into the bark of a young tree. There are abundance of such means against hiccup, ear-ache, toothache, etc. Great virtues are attributed to springs of water, especially to such as have been blessed by a saint.
When women boil yarn, they must tell a lie at the same time, otherwise it will not get white.
Parents must not buy their children any rattles, nor allow any to be given them, or they will be slow at learning, and will speak with difficulty.
When you take straw for a hen's nest out of a marriage bed, you must take it from the man's side if you want cock chickens, and from the wife's if you want hen chickens.
No one must on any account weigh an empty cradle, or he will weigh the child's rest away.
The nails on the hands of an infant must be bitten off by the mother the first time, or it will learn to steal.
If you wish a child to become a hundred years old, you must get it godfathers out of three different parishes.
If you let a child look into a looking-glass before it is a year old, it will become proud.
Children that cry at christening, will die soon.
Let a mother go three Sundays successively out of the church in silence, and blow each time into the mouth of her child, and it will get its teeth easy.
Let the father immediately after the christening give the child a sword in its hand, and it will become brave.
Blue cornflowers gathered on Corpus-Christi Sunday stop the bleeding of the nose if they are held in the hand till they are warm.
A woman can cure her ear-ache by binding a man's stocking round her head.
Elder planted before the stable door preserves the cattle from witchcraft.
He who carries about him a cord with which a rupture doctor bas bound up a rupture, may lift the heaviest weight without any danger.
A piece of wood out of a coffin that has been dug up, when laid in a cabbage bed defends it from caterpillars.
One should not lean over a cradle where a child is sleeping, nor should it be left standing open. Splinters from an oak split by lightning cure tooth-ache.
He who will sow seed, let him be careful not to lay it on a table, otherwise it will not grow.
He who has the hiccup, let him plunge a naked knife into a can of beer, and take a good draught of it at one breath.
He who cannot sleep, be it child or adult, let him lay a composing whisp under his pillow; that is, straw which workwomen put under the burdens on their backs; but it must be taken from the people unknown to them.
In brewing, lay a bunch of nettles in the barrel ; it is then safe against thunder.
A wife who has a cold must sneeze into her husband's
It is not good to strike a beast with a switch which has been used to correct a child.
Chastise neither man nor beast with a peeled stick, for whatever is beaten with it will dry up. When you place your shoes reversed at the head of
your bed, the nightmare cannot oppress you.
Old women often cut a turf of a foot long which their enemy has lately trodden on, and hang it up in the chimney, and their enemy must wither away.
Let any one who has great anxiety, touch the great toe of a dead person, and he will at once become free from it.
If any one dies in the house, you must shake the bee