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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/465

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Pin-Wells and Rag-Bushes.

century it was usual to stick needles or pins in a certain tree belonging to the church of Saint Christopher, situated on a high mountain near the city of Pampeluna.[1] In Mediterranean lands we must not forget the rite practised from very early times at Rome. From the date of the erection of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus it was the custom on the festival of the dedication, the Ides of September, for the highest person of the state to drive a nail into the right wall of the Cella Jovis. This was usually done by the consuls or prætor; but in case of the appointment of a dictator the latter performed the ceremony. After it was dropped as an annual performance, recourse was occasionally had to it for the staying of a pestilence, or as an atonement for crime.[2] Two curious parallels to this Roman custom existed almost down to the present day in modern Europe. Near Angers was an oak which bore the singular name of Lapalud. It was regarded as of the same antiquity as the town, and was covered with nails to the height of ten feet or thereabouts. From time immemorial every journeyman carpenter, joiner, or mason who passed it, used to stick a nail in it. Near the cathedral at Vienna was the stock of an old tree, called the Stock im Risen, said to be the last remnant of an ancient forest which covered the neighbourhood. Every workman who passed through Vienna was expected to fasten a nail in it; and it was in fact covered with a complete coat of mail, consisting entirely of the heads of the nails it had thus received.[3]

At Athens, mothers bring their sick children to the little church of Santa Marina, under the Observatory Hill, and there undress them, leaving the old clothes behind. There is a dripping well near Kotzanes, in Macedonia, "said to issue from the Nereids' breasts, and to cure all human ills.

  1. Liebrecht, Gerv. Tilb., 244, quoting Jean Baptiste Thiers, Traité des Superstitions (Paris, 1697).
  2. Preller, Röm. Myth., i, 258.
  3. Gaidoz, Rev. de l'hist. des Rel., vii, 9.