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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/23

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TRANSACTIONS OF THE FOLK-LORE SOCIETY. Vol. VIII.] MARCH, 1897. [No. I.

NEAPOLITAN WITCHCRAFT.

BY J. B. ANDREWS.'

Southern Italy has for many ages been the favourite country for witches; they came from all parts of the penin- sula to the Grand Councils held under the walnut-tree of Benevento, and even from more distant lands, for its fame is celebrated in Mentonnese tradition. This tree is said to have been destroyed by S. Barbato in 660, during the reign of Duke Romualdo, in contending against supersti- tion. Benevento was formerly called Malevento, a name perhaps significant. The site of the tree is now disputed, its very existence doubted ; but witches still pretend to meet on the spot where it grew. The Neapolitans have an occult religion and government in witchcraft, and the Camorra ; some apply to them to obtain what official organisations cannot or will not do. As occasionally happens in similar cases, the Camorra fears and yields to the witches, the temporal to the spiritual. There are also wizards, but as elsewhere they are much rarer ; according to the usual

' This paper contains a more extended account of the charms kindly pre- sented by Mr. Andrews to the Society than it was possible to give in the few remarks which time permitted at the meeting of the l6th June last, when he exhibited them. See vol. vii., p. 350. - Ed. VOL. VIII. B