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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/30

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8 Neapolitan Witchcraft.

sciolgo questo mazzo, cost sciolgo qucsto c — c." Sometimes a dance of naked witches takes place round the bed of a sick person, recalling the devil dances in Ceylon, the object of both being to cure the illness. There must be three or five witches ; if five, one remains at the back, one stands at each corner of the bed, holding between them cords which must cross the bed diagonally, then dancing, they sing " Til gli I'hai fatta, ed io gli la tolgo,'^ going round the bed. When there are only three witches the left corner at the foot of the bed remains empty, the cord being held laterally. They cure all diseases, employing medicinal herbs as well as magic, or even pious objects. Medals of S. Anastasio are much recommended against infection ; they are also most efficacious amulets against the Evil Eye, as are also spinning whorls and the well-known horns.

As regards the Evil Eye, witches cannot make it, but they can avert its influence. A small packet of salt worn on the person is a protection against it ; but according to the Nea- politans it is useless against witchcraft, contrary to the belief in some other places. For that, a little bag full of sand is good, the witch being obliged to count each grain before working her spell, in the meanwhile the hour of her power passes. A comb, three nails driven in behind the house- door, and the horseshoe are also recommended against witchcraft. Witches can make storms cease, or render them harmless, by saying before an open window: " Fernia, ferma, tuono, come Gesu fer^nb Vuomo, c come quello schifoso prete all' altare, con ostia in bocca ed it calice in manoT

Witchcraft is powerless on Wednesday, during Holy Week, and (contrary to what is thought in some other countries) on the eve of St. John Baptist's Day. It is believed that at midnight then Herodiade may be seen in the sky seated across a ray of hre, saying :

  • ' Afatnma, 7na?)ima, pcrchc lo dicesii?

Ftglia,figlia, perch!* lo facesti? "