An International Journal on Charms, Charmers and Charming
Issue 3, 2013
General Editor: Mare Kõiva
Guest Editor: Svetlana Tsonkova
To buy this issue, contact the editors. You can see the issue here (PDF) or click on article titles for individual PDF files.
Welcome to the third issue of Incantatio! At its core are the articles, mostly based on and developed from papers, delivered at the Charms Symposium of the 16th ISFNR congress, which took place in Vilnius, Lithuania in June 25th–30th 2013. Both the symposium and the whole congress were vibrant and productive academic events, and the articles reflect this active spirit. The issue also contains a review of a fresh new book on verbal magic, and a report from the above-mentioned charms symposium.
Ex Ecclesia: Salvific Power Beyond Sacred Space In Anglo-Saxon Charms
Many of the Anglo-Saxon charms identify locations for their performance and function. Previous scholarship has used locations as evidence of continuous pre-Christian practices and this argument has impacted on how the charms are perceived. As a result, the role of the church building as one of the charms’ identified locations has not yet been properly highlighted. Rather than focusing on the potential pre-Christian associations with certain sites in the charms, it is more enlightening to look at how other locations orientate around the church building. In this article I will explore how charms use liturgical and public spaces to signify their function during the late Anglo-Saxon period. After outlining the main scholarly views of Anglo-Saxon locations that have had an impact on charm studies, my analysis will make a comparative case study of two charms against elf-sickness to open readings of the corpus of Anglo-Saxon charms. This approach reveals interesting information about the Anglo-Saxons’ interaction with their landscape in the tenth and eleventh centuries and helps us to redefine the religious nature of these rituals.
Key words: Anglo-Saxon, sacred space, locations, landscape, charms, ritual, paganism, liturgy.
Irish Scribal Culture As A Purveyor Of Charm Texts In The Eighteenth And Nineteenth Centuries
Irish-language scribal culture demonstrated a significant interest in charms in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in part because of
the more localized and intimate audience for such texts. Yet when folklorists later made note of the provenance of charms they collected
from these scribal sources, they often failed to convey information about how charms came to be copied down and how charms fit into the larger
intellectual context of their users. In fact, collectors preferred to highlight the oral aspects of folk practices, as in the example of
Douglas Hyde’s massive collection of popular religious material, Abhráin Diadha Chúige Connacht (1906). It is argued here
that the scribal context surrounding eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Irish charm exemplars deserves closer investigation so that the textual
practices that surrounded the propagation of charms can be restored to their place alongside the words of the charms themselves.
Key words: bilingualism, Brían Ó Fearraghaile, childbirth charms, Douglas Hyde, Irish language, scribes, toothache charms.
The Slavic And German Versions Of The Second Merseburg Charm
Tatiana Agapkina, Vladimir Karpov, Andrey Toporkov
This paper considers the dissemination of the versions of the Second Merseburg Charm among the Slavs. The authors combine the structural-semiotic method, which allows them to describe the text structure and the inner logic of its variations, with the historical-geographical method, which helps in understanding texts and their historical transformations and geographical transferences.
Key words: the Second Merseburg Charm, Belorussian and Ukrainian charms, text structure, areal dissemination, formula, theonym
Parchment, Praxis And Performance Of Charms In Early Medieval Ireland
St. Gall MS 1395, a collection of fragments from various periods, includes a page of Irish origin and apparently ninth-century date, containing four healing charms known as the St. Gall Incantations, each followed by instructions concerning its ritual performance. A close study of this single vellum folio examining the characteristics of the text, scribal practices and the cultural setting in which the document was compiled, provides a basis for theorizing about Old Irish magical practices and their multidimensional performative context. By highlighting the investigation of the liaison between the words of the charm and the associated ritual, an attempt will be made to elucidate how the textual register of the manuscript translated into physical performance. Accordingly, questions of mise-en-page performance and the manuscript as a material amulet are addressed in order to understand the written environment of magical language as well as the practices of charming in early medieval Ireland.
Key words: Christian tradition, healing charms, manuscripts, medieval Irish charms, performative context, pre-Christian tradition, power of words, ritual performance, sound patterns, St. Gall Incantations, textual amulets
Charms In Slovenian Culture
Nowadays, there only remains a small fraction of charms that used to exist in Slovenia. Charms seem to have become a little known relic of Slovenian culture. Despite this, some healing charms have been preserved and even published in research works by Ivan Grafenauer and Milan Dolenc. The most widely known charms in Slovenia include charms for snakebite, sprain, toothache, cramp, fever, and red rash. In those charms there are obvious German influences, though some charms still show Slavic roots. Charms are a genre that has not been studied by the Slovenian researchers as intensively as other traditional genres, like narratives. We will introduce the main charm types and their characteristics in the Slovenian culture.
Keywords: oral charms, ritual, context, Slovenian charms
St. Peter’s Routes In Latvia: The Case Of Super Petram Charm-Type
St. Peter is the most frequently encountered Christian saint in Latvian verbal charms. Among the latter are charms against various illnesses and aches, household and protective charms, charms against thieves and other. The popularity of St. Peter in vernacular healing practices might be related to his special role in biblical narrative and medieval Christian legends. Latvian variations of the widespread Super petram toothache charm represent a particular version of this charm-type that can be tracked back to fifteenth century Germany. As such it features several semantic elements common with other Latvian toothache charms. Although there are only three recorded Latvian "Super petram" charms, this research contributes to long term investigation of presence of classical charm-types in Latvian-speaking region.
Key words: healing, Latvia, oak, St. Peter, Super petram, toothaches, verbal charms, Baltic, encounter charms
"This Child Here Won’t Shed Tears Of Dreadful Fright, ’Cause He’s Not Caught By Devil’s Might" Change And Stability Of Charms Against Fright Illness: A Hungarian Perspective
This article presents the initial stages and the planned further developments of a research on Hungarian curative charms against fright illness. Based on a rich and interesting database of healing and curative folk beliefs, rituals and texts, the research aims at exploring the charms and the charming rituals from the perspective of medical anthropology. The analysis is focused on the phenomenon of fright-illness (ijedtség) and its verbal magical treatment, on the basis of emic perceptions. While this research will develop and progress, the current article gives a general introduction to the Hungarian terminology on fright-illness in comparison to similar culture-bound syndromes in Central Europe, and also introduces the most prominent of the charms, in Hungarian with English translation.
Key words: fright-illness, popular medicine, culture-bound syndromes, curative charms, charming practices, healing ritual, Central Europe, Hungary.
James Kapaló, Éva Pócs and William Ryan (ed.), The Power of Words: Studies on Charms and Charming in Europe, Budapest & New York: Central European University Press, 2013, 325 pp. ISBN 978-615-5225-10-9. (Svetlana Tsonkova), pp. 139-140.
Charms Symposium, The 16th Congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research, "Folk Narrative in the Modern: Unity and Diversity" (June 25–30, 2013, Vilnius, Lithuania) (Emanuela Timotin), pp. 141-143.
Back to Incantatio main page