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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/174

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170
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY
I don't see why 'using' shouldn't be as efficient as prayer, since the three highest names [Father, Son, and Holy Ghost] are always used. At any rate it can do no harm, if it does no good; and in this respect it differs from the drugs used by physicians.

If we look for practises analogous to these mentioned here the abundance of material is found to be overwhelming. The use of charms and incantations for the cure of disease may be noted in all ages since the dawn of history and among peoples of all grades of culture. Pepys gives several, current in his day, which are very similar in character to those given above; for example, the following, for stopping blood:

Sanguis mane in te
Sicut Christus fuit in se;
Sanguis mane in tua vena
Sicut Christus in sua poena;
Sanguis mane fixus
Sicut Christus quando fuit crucifixus.

He also gives one for a burn which is almost identical with one of those now in use in South Carolina:

There came three angels out of the East;
The one brought fire, the other brought frost.
Out, fire; in, frost.
In the name of the Father, Son, and
Holy Ghost.Amen.

Reginald Scot in 'The Discoverie of Witchcraft,' published in 1584, records an accredited method:

To heale the King's or Queen's evill, or any other sorenesse of the throte: Let a virgine, fasting, laie hir hand on the sore and saie: Apollo denieth that the heate of the plague can increase where a naked virgine quencheth it, and spet three times upon it.

This is interesting as showing the survival of a formula dating from pre-Christian times. There is very good reason' for believing that the incantations of the 'users' of the present day may claim an equal antiquity. Like some of the festivals of the church, they had their origin in heathen times, and the introduction of Christianity did not suffice to shake their hold on the popular mind. In old Germany neither Charlemagne's conquest nor the priest who followed it could put a period to the use of staves carved with mystic runes and devoted to the purposes of divination and incantation. The oak, the ash and the willow preserved their sacred character; and in the old heathen formulas for the cure of disease, the only change effected by Christianity was the substitution of the 'three highest names' (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) for those of Thor, Woden and other heathen deities. The following heathen and Christian versions of a popular charm for sprains will illustrate the change effected:

Old Version.

Phol and Woden
went to the wood;
there was of Balder's colt
his foot wrenched;