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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/462

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454
Pin-Wells and Rag-Bushes.

from one or two of them. Two gilt buttons and two buckles are also nailed to the tree. Many of the nails are believed to be covered with the bark, which appears to be growing over them all.[1] This resembles the ceremony prescribed for hernia in Mecklenburg. A cross is made over the affected part with a nail on a Friday; and the nail is then driven, in unbroken silence, into a young beech or oak The operation is repeated on the two Fridays following. A variant prescription directs the part to be touched with a coffin-nail, which is then to be driven over its head into the tree by the sufferer, barefoot and silent. As the nail is overgrown by the bark, the hernia will be healed.[2]

In Belgium, halfway between Braine l'Alleud and the wood of Le Foriet, two hollow, and therefore doubtless very ancient, roads cross one another. Two aged pine-trees are planted at the top of the bank at one of the corners; and formerly there stood between them a cross, which has disappeared for some thirty years. It was a very ancient custom to bury in the pines, and even in the cross, pins or nails, in order to obtain the cure of persons attacked by fevers of various kinds. The pins and nails thus employed must have been previously in contact with the patient or his clothes. If anyone took out one of these pins or nails from the pines or the cross, and carried it home, it was believed that the disease would certainly have been communicated to some member of his family. The custom is said to have fallen out of use. Yet M. Schepers, who visited the place in September 1891, and to whose article on the subject in Wallonia, a periodical published at Liège, I am indebted for these particulars, found not only rusty nails in the pines, but also pins quite recently planted. He was told that it was equally customary to roll round the pines, or the arms of the cross, some band of cloth or other stuff which had touched the sufferer. As soon as the nail or pin had been driven in, or the ribbon fastened, the operator

  1. Proc. Soc. Ant. Scot., iv, 253, cited by Gaidoz, Mélusine, vi, 156.
  2. Bartsch, Sagen, etc., aus Meklenburg, ii, 104.