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Healing-spells In Ancient Times

Sources: Primitive Psycho-therapy And Quackery

Neither doth fansy only cause, but also as easily cure

diseases; as I may justly refer all magical cures thereunto,

performed, as is thought, by saints, images, relicts, holy

waters, shrines, avemarys, crucifixes, benedictions, charms,

characters, sigils of the planets, inverted words, etc. And

therefore all such cures are rather to be ascribed to the

force of the imagination, than to any
irtue in themselves.

RAMESEY, Elminthologia: 1668.

His night-spell is his guard, and charms his physicians.

BISHOP HALL, Characters of Vertues and Vices.

Certain Chaldean and Persian words were formerly believed to have a

particular efficacy against the demons of sickness. The languages of

men, it was averred, were not of human origin, but were gifts from the

gods; and inasmuch as magic had its source in Chaldea and other Eastern

countries, it was reasoned that certain words of the languages spoken in

those places were possessed of an inherent magical value. Hence

these words were used in invocations addressed to spirits. In the

popular belief of the ancient Babylonians, illnesses were caused by the

entrance into the body of divers aerial spirits, and incantations were

the chief means employed for their expulsion.

In Accadian medical magic, on the same principle, bedridden patients

were treated by fastening about their heads "sentences from a good

book." Naturally, among nations where such views prevailed,

physicians were but little esteemed, and the cure of disease devolved

upon exorcists and sorcerers. Medicine was merely a branch of Magic, and

not a rational science, as in more enlightened countries. Incantations

against the spirits of disease were usually recited by the priests, who

were supposed, by reason of their education and training, to be

specially expert in the choice of the most efficient formulas.

The Chaldean medical amulets were of various kinds. Frequently they

consisted of precious stones, engraved with mystic sentences; or strips

of cloth, upon which were written talismanic verses, after the manner of

Jewish phylacteries. But of whatever form, the chief source of their

supposed efficacy appears to have been the words and characters

inscribed upon them. Gradually, however, a system of therapeutics

was evolved, and the use of charms and incantations yielded in a measure

to practical methods. The later Assyrian cuneiform inscriptions (about

B. C. 1640) contain references to classified diseases; and

although healing-spells were still largely in vogue, the employment of

various herbs and potions became an important feature in Assyrian


The therapeutic methods employed by the priests of Finland in early

times were chiefly magical. They exorcised the spirits of disease by

means of sacred words and healing-spells, which they believed to be of

divine origin.

Adoration of the hidden forces of nature, and worship of superior

beings, gave rise to incantations. It was believed moreover that by the

use of appropriate formulas these mysterious powers could be rendered

subservient to the will of man. In the popular imagination, even the

moon could be made to descend to the earth at the command of an

enchantress, by means of an appropriate spell. For, as Virgil sang:

Carmina vel possunt coelo deducere lunam.

Among the ancient Aryan peoples, incantations were an important factor

in therapeutics, and naturally the use of the same methods persisted

among their descendants, after their dispersion and settlement in

different parts of the world.

Christianus Pazig, in his "Treatise on Magic Incantations," remarked

that the ancient origin of written spells is attested alike by sacred

and profane literature. According to tradition, Ham, the son of Noah,

inscribed mystic sentences on flinty rocks and metals at the time of the

Deluge, in order to preserve them, "being influenced perhaps by the fear

that he would not be allowed to take into the Ark a book filled with

these vanities." The secret art of preparing incantations is said to

have been imparted to others by Mizraim, the son of Ham, and as a result

Egypt and Persia were invaded by hordes of magicians, who aspired to

dominate universal nature, and to subject to their own wills not only

human beings and the lower animals, but even inanimate objects as well.

The Roman poet Lucan (born about A. D. 39) wrote in his

"Pharsalia," that by the spells of Thessalian witches, there

flowed into the obdurate heart a love that entered not there in the

course of nature. And to the same authority is accredited the saying

that even the world might be made to stand still by means of a suitable

incantation; a saying which voiced the popular belief in the miraculous

power of words.

There is abundant evidence to show that the phenomena of

psycho-therapeutics were known to the ancients, and that Assyrian

practitioners effected cures by the agency of suggestion, although they

were ignorant of the mode of its operation. The method of treating and

curing in a mysterious way has been a widely spread one. It was known in

Egypt; in Greece there was the temple of Asklepios or Esculapius; it

was prevalent in Rome; it was in vogue during the Middle Ages. There

were oracles and shrines and sacred grottos and springs; and their

existence and the matters and facts relating to the practices and cures

performed at them are quite as well established as are those of Lourdes

in France, or of Sainte Anne de Beaupre, in the Province of Quebec. Dr.

Pierre Janet is of the opinion that always and everywhere these cures

have been effected under the same laws. The maladies that can be cured

have always been the same. There are illnesses that could not be

vanquished at Asklepios; they are obdurate still at Lourdes. The same

things are done to-day that were done in the temples, and under the same

conditions and in the same way, and even in the same space of time. This

historic similitude shows us that the miraculous cures are all of them

subject to the same regular laws. In far-away Japan there exist

precisely the same miracle cures as elsewhere. In fact, it seems to have

been a matter of independent discovery by investigators all over the

world. Dr. Janet is of the opinion that it is not Asklepios that has

copied Assyria, or Lourdes that has patterned after the Greeks, but that

all have worked independently and have attained to a similar use of the

same natural laws.

The Anglo-Saxon clergy sanctioned the use of the relics of saints as

having curative virtues in nearly all diseases. A hair from a saint's

beard, moistened in holy water and taken inwardly, was a favorite remedy

for fever.

Direct healing power was also ascribed to the tombs of saints, and

indeed to anything pertaining to the latter. In the popular view, sacred

relics were not only potent to heal, but also brought good fortune. This

was true in medieval times, but the early heathen nations had no such

beliefs. In a recent article in the "Century Magazine," March,

1908, entitled "Christianity and Health," Rev. Samuel McComb, D.D.,

averred that the relic of a dead superstition may achieve as much, in

the cure of physical disorders, as faith in the living God.

The ecclesiastical miracles in the Middle Ages, and the healing wonders

in our own time, attested as they are by the highest medical

authorities, show what curative power lies in the mere psychological

state of trust and confidence. Dr. A. T. Schofield says, in

explanation of the many seemingly miraculous cures worked at Lourdes and

elsewhere, that all the causative changes take place in the unconscious

mind, yet the patient is wholly ignorant of anything but the results in

the body. Therefore, in such cases, radical cures may be effected


In a lecture on "Temples and Cults in Babylon and Assyria," during his

Lowell Institute course at Boston, January 18, 1910, Dr. Morris Jastrow,

Jr., spoke of incantation as a popular custom in ancient times.

It is difficult, he said, to draw the line between public and private

cults. Divination by means of the liver was an official cult and bore

only on public affairs, and there was in its determination a ritual.

Astrology, on the contrary, was largely a private affair, and needed but

an observation of the heavens, which was done without religious

ceremony. When, however, a cult became very popular, the priests were

not slow to add its ceremonies to their own.

A most important cult of this nature was incantation. This was against

disease and misfortune. Disease was caused by a witch or demon who took

possession of the sick one, and cure depended on the ability to get rid

of the demon. The elements of fire and water had much to do with the

combating of disease, and the two chief deities appealed to were Ea, god

of water, and Marduk, god of the sun and fire. In both cases the idea

was one of purification. Extended rituals were recited, questions were

asked by the priests that demanded almost confessions for their replies.

The physicians of ancient Egypt blended science and superstition in

their prescriptions. While fully appreciating the benefit of a stimulus

to the patient's imagination, they did not, however, neglect the

employment of medicinal remedies.

In a papyrus medical treatise of the sixteenth century B. C., discovered

at Thebes in the winter of 1872-73, by the German Egyptologist George

Ebers, are to be found numerous incantations and conjurations.

Nevertheless the same treatise affords evidence of a careful preparation

of complex recipes. Some of the prescriptions in this document

are considered by Miss Amelia B. Edwards to be of mythological origin,

while others appear to have been derived from the medical lore of


Egyptian medical papyri contain both prescriptions for remedies to be

used for various ailments, and conjurations for the expulsion of demons,

together with petitions for the present intervention of deities.

The Chaldean magi also employed many formulas and incantations for

repelling evil spirits and for the cure of disease. Specimens of such

formulas are to be seen on clay tablets exhumed from the ruins of

ancient Nineveh. They consist chiefly in a description of some disease,

with the expression of a desire for deliverance from it, and a command

enforcing its departure. During the preparation of their

medicines the ancient Egyptians offered prayers and invocations, of

which the following is a specimen:

"May Isis heal me, as she healed Horus, of all the ills inflicted upon

him when Set slew his father Osiris. O Isis, thou great Enchantress,

free me, deliver me from all evil, bad and horrible things, from the god

and goddess of evil, from the god and goddess of sickness, and from the

unclean demon who presses upon me, as thou didst loose and free thy son


The Egyptians held the theory that many diseases were due to the anger

of Isis, who was also believed by them to have discovered various

remedies. Hence the propitiation of this goddess by invocations was a

natural expedient.

So great was the fondness of the Egyptians for amulets, that they were

wont to hang them about the necks of mummies to ward off demons.

Apropos of this singular custom, we may remark, in passing, that

mummy-dust was prescribed by English physicians as late as during the

reign of Charles II, to promote longevity. They reasoned that inasmuch

as pulverized mummy had lasted a long time, it might, when assimilated

by their patients, assist the latter to do likewise.

The worship of subterranean deities, representing the hidden forces of

nature, is said to have been a chief feature of the religion of the

prehistoric Pelasgians inhabiting Greece; and it was believed that if

once the particular formula or spell, wherein lay the secret of their

power, could be discovered, these deities might be rendered subservient

to the will of man. Similarly, in many religions of antiquity,

the names of deities were invested with great power, and whoever uttered

them was "master of the god."

Cato the Censor (B. C. 234-149), in his treatise "De Re Rustica,"

chapter 157, recommended a written charm for the cure of fractures; and

Ovid (B. C. 43-A. D. 18), in his "Metamorphoses," wrote these lines: "By

means of incantations I break in twain the viper's jaws." In very early

times physicians were regarded as under the protection of the gods, and

the magical charms employed by them were therefore naturally invested

with supernatural curative power. Melampus, a noted mythical leech of

Argos, before the Trojan War, was said to have made use of

healing-spells in his practice.

Professor H. Bluemner, in "The Home Life of the Ancient Greeks," chapter

7, remarks that, in the early historic era, medicine developed

especially in two directions in Greece: namely, as practised by a

regular medical fraternity; and secondly, "as a kind of religious

mystery in the hands of the priests." The latter system was doubtless

connected with the worship of Esculapius. But quacks and charlatans were

much in evidence, even in that remote epoch. Francis Bacon, in his

"Advancement of Learning," chapter 2, says that "the poets were

clear-sighted in discerning the credulity of men in often preferring a

mountebank, or a cunning woman to a learned physician. Hence they made

Esculapius and Circe brother and sister, and both children of Apollo."

The Grecians believed that petitions offered in a foreign tongue were

more favorably received than those in the vernacular; and as a reason

for this belief it was alleged that the earliest languages, however

barbarous and strange to classic ears, contained words and names which

were somehow more consonant to nature and hence more pleasing to their

deities. Especial magical efficacy has always been ascribed to

certain Hebrew, Arabian, and Indian words.

Aetius, who lived at Amida in Mesopotamia in the fifth century, the

first Christian physician whose medical writings are extant, repeated

biblical verses during the preparation of his medicines, in order to

increase their efficacy. And until comparatively modern times,

the employment of verbal charms, curative spells, and formulas, was

believed to enhance the therapeutic virtues of medicines. No remedy, we

are told, was administered without mysterious ceremony and incantation.

According to Suidas, a Greek lexicographer, supposed to have lived in

the tenth century, the method of curing diseases by the repetition of

certain words had been practised ever since the time of the mythological

King Minos, of Crete. Indeed, among the peoples of antiquity, the

science of therapeutics was largely of a theurgic or supernatural

character, and Sibylline verses were in great repute. In this connection

it is interesting to note that, according to one authority, the word

carminative, a remedy which relieves pain "like a charm," is derived

from the Latin carminare, to use incantations.

Words of encouragement and a cheerful mien are good therapeutic agents;

and the physician of Plato's day, we are told, sometimes took an orator

along with him, in his visits to Grecian households, to persuade his

patients to take medicines. Such an expedient may have been

warranted in those days, but it is of course wholly unnecessary in this

age of palatable elixirs and chocolate-coated tablets.

Alexander of Tralles, a Greek physician of the sixth century,

recommended a verse of Homer for the cure of colic. In our advanced

stage of culture, we should hardly be content with such a carminative,

but should rather employ one of the modern aromatic remedies of the

pharmacopoeia. In the classic age, however, as well as at later

epochs, the use of verbal charms for the cure of disease was forbidden

under severe penalties. The case is recorded of a woman of Achaia, who

was stoned to death for attempting to cure a fever by the repetition of

spells. This was in the fourth century, during the reign of


The Greeks invoked Asklepios, the god of Medicine, and his daughters

Hygeia, the goddess of Health, and Panacea, the All-Healer, who

personified attributes of their father. Apollo, too, under the title of

Paean, was worshipped as a health-deity and physician of the gods. He was

addressed both as a healer and destroyer; as one who inflicted diseases,

but who likewise vouchsafed remedies for their cure. But there appears

to have been no incompatibility between the offering of prayers to these

heathen deities, and the use of magical spells, formulas and verses. For

religion, the healing art, and magic seem to have been inextricably

blended in the early days of Greece and Rome, notwithstanding the

teachings of Hippocrates, who first strove to liberate medicine from the

superstition which enslaved it.

The complex character of therapeutic methods in vogue among the ancient

classical peoples, finds a modern parallel in the case of American

aborigines. In various tribes the functions of priest, doctor, and

wizard are assumed by one and the same person. Under the

influence of civilization the leech and parson have their distinct

professions, and the role of the magician loses much of its importance.

In the present advanced stage of culture, many physicians devote

themselves to particular branches of their art, and each human organ,

when ailing, may invoke assistance from its own special Esculapian.

The Romans of the fourth century, says Edward Gibbon, "dreaded

the mysterious power of spells and incantations, of potent herbs and

mysterious rites, which could extinguish or recall life, inflame the

passions of the soul, blast the works of creation, and extort from

reluctant demons the secrets of futurity." They held firmly to the

belief that this miraculous power was possessed by certain old hags and

enchantresses, who lived in poverty and obscurity. The modern popular

ideas about witches having compacts with evil spirits, whereby the

former are enabled to operate supernaturally, appear to be of very

ancient origin, as is evident from the folk-lore of different peoples.

Magical arts, wrote Gibbon, although condemned alike by popular opinion

and by the laws of Rome, were continually practised, because they tended

to gratify the most imperious passions of men's hearts.

Among pagan nations prayers were somewhat akin to incantations, and were

not always regarded as petitions; but their value was supposed to inhere

in the power of the uttered words, a power which even the gods were

unable to withstand. The mystic verses by means of which Athenian

physicians anciently invoked supernatural aid, were called carmina,

charms, their magical nature was incompatible with a purely

devotional spirit, and they were therefore incantations rather than

prayers. Invocations of deities and magic spells have one point in

common; both are appeals to spirits believed to possess supernatural

powers. This very kinship may render verbal charms the more obnoxious to

devout people, on the same principle which led Lord Bacon to declare

superstition to be the more repulsive on account of its similitude to

religion, "even as it addeth deformity to an ape to be so like a man."

In the prayers offered by the Romans to their deities, the choice of apt

phrases was considered to be of greater importance than the mental

attitude of the petitioner, because of the prevalent belief in the

efficacy of appropriate words per se.

Hence, we are told, when prayers for the welfare of the State were

publicly recited by a magistrate, it was customary for a high-priest to

dictate suitable expressions, lest an unhappy selection of words provoke

divine anger. Popular credence attributed to the classic writer

Marcus Varro (B. C. 116-28), sometimes called "the most learned of the

Romans," the faculty of curing tumors by the direct expression of mental

force, namely, by means of words.

The Romans believed that the magical power of prayers was enhanced if

they were uttered with a loud voice. Hence a saying attributed to

Seneca: "So speak to God as though all men heard your prayers." Of great

repute among the healing-spells of antiquity was the cabalistic word

Abracadabra, which occurs first in a medical treatise entitled

"Praecepta de Medicina," by the Roman writer Quintus Serenus Samonicus,

who flourished in the second century. An inverted triangular figure,

formed by writing this word in the manner hereinafter described, was

much valued as an antidote against fevers; cloth or parchment being the

material originally used for the inscription.

Thou shalt on paper write the spell divine,

Abracadabra called, on many a line,

Each under each in even order place,

But the last letter in each line efface;

As by degrees the elements grow few,

Still take away, but fix the residue,

Till at the last one letter stands alone,

And the whole dwindles to a tapering cone.

Tie this about the neck with flaxen string,

Mighty the good 't will to the patient bring.

Its wondrous potency shall guard his bed,

And drive disease and death far from his head.

Another favorite therapeutic spell, no less venerable than Abracadabra,

was the mystical word Abraxas, which was first used by Basilides, a

leader of the Egyptian Gnostics in the second century. This word,

engraved on an antique precious stone, sometimes accompanied by a

magical emblem and meaningless inscription, was commonly used as a

medical amulet, and was well adapted to fire the imagination of ignorant


The following curious extract is taken from a rare book published by W.

Clowes, serjeant-surgeon to Queen Elizabeth, entitled, "A Proved

Practice for all Young Chirurgians," 1588:

It is not long since that a subtile deluder, verie craftely

having upon set purpose his brokers or espials abroade, using

sundry secret drifts to allure many, as did the syrens by

their sweet sonets and melody seduce mariners to make them

their pray, so did his brokers or espials deceive many, in

proclayming and sounding out his fame abroade from house to

house, as those use which crye, "Mistresse, have you any worke

for the tincker?" At the lengthe they heard of one that was

tormented with a quartaine; then in all post haste this bad

man was brought unto the sicke patient by their craftie means,

and so forth, without any tariance, he did compound for

fifteene pounde to rid him within three fits of his agew, and

to make him as whole as a fish of all diseases: so a little

before the fit was at hand, he called unto the wife of the

patient to bring him an apple of the biggest size, and then

with a pinne writte in the rinde of the apple Abracadabra,

and such like, and perswaded him to take it presently in the

beginning of his fit, for there was (sayeth he) a secret in

those words. To be short, the patient, being hungry of his

health, followed his counsell, and devoured all and every

peece of the apple. So soon as it was receyved, nature left

the disease to digest the apple, which was to hard to do; for

at length he fell to vomiting, then the core kept such a

sturre in his throate, that wheretofore his fever was ill, now

much worse, a malo ad pejus, out of the frying-pan into the

fire: presently there were physitions sent for unto the sick

patient, or else his fifteene pound had been gone, with a more

pretious jewell: but this lewde fellow is better knowne at

Newgate than I will heere declare.

Certain mystic sentences of barbaric origin, mostly unintelligible, and

known as "Ephesian Letters," engraved upon the famous statue of Diana at

Ephesus, were popular among the Greeks as charms wherewith to drive

away diseases, to render the wearer invincible in battle, or to purify

demon-infested places. Their invention was attributed to the fabulous

Dactyls of Phrygia, and they appear to have been held in equally great

esteem, whether pronounced orally as incantations, or inscribed upon

strips of parchment and worn as amulets.

In ancient Hibernia, the former western limit of the known world, the

Druids, in their medical treatment, relied much upon magic rites and

incantations. And the early Irish physicians, who belonged to the

Druid priesthood, were devoted to mystical medicine, although they also

prescribed various herbs with whose therapeutic use they were

familiar. In Ireland according to Lady Wilde, invocations

were formerly in the names of the Phenician god Baal, and of the Syrian

goddess Ashtoreth, representing the sun and moon respectively. . . .

After the establishment of Christianity, formulas of invocation were

usually in the names of Christ or the Holy Trinity, and those of Mary,

Peter, and numerous saints were also used. In Brand's "Popular

Antiquities," we find a long list of the names of saints who were

invoked for the cure of particular ailments; and the same authority

quotes from a work entitled "The Irish Hubbub," by Barnaby Rich, 1619,

these lines: "There is no disease, no sicknesse, no greefe, either

amongst men or beasts, that hath not his physician among the saints."

The devotion of the Teutonic tribes to magical medicine is not

surprising to any one versed in the mythological lore of Scandinavia,

which is replete with sorcery. And throughout the Middle Ages, although

medical practice was largely in the hands of Christian priests and

monks, yet sorcerers and charlatans continued to employ old pagan usages

and magical remedies. The German physicians of the Carlovingian era

pretended to cure ailments by whispering in the patient's ear, as well

as by the use of enchanted herbs. They inherited ceremonial formulas

from the practitioners of an earlier age, for the treatment of

ophthalmic diseases; and in addition to such spells, they made use of

various gestures, and were wont to thrice touch the affected


In Grimm's "Teutonic Mythology" is to be found an old German

spell against gout, as follows: "God, the Lord went over the land; there

met him 70 sorts of gouts and goutesses. Then spake the Lord: 'Ye 70

gouts and goutesses, whither would ye?' Then spake the 70 gouts and

goutesses: 'We go over the land and take from men their health and

limbs.' Then spake the Lord: 'Ye shall go to an elder-bush and break off

all his boughs, and leave with [such an one, naming the patient] his

straight limbs.'"

Many old German healing-spells contain the names of our Lord and of the

Virgin, which probably superseded those of pagan deities and sacred

mythological personages, the formulas remaining otherwise the same. Such

spells are akin to pious invocations or actual prayers. Others exhibit a

blending of devotion and credulity, and appear to have degenerated into

mere verbal forms.

According to a tradition of the North, while Wodan and Baldur were once

on a hunting excursion, the latter's horse dislocated a leg; whereupon

Wodan reset the bones by means of a verbal charm. And the mere narration

of this prehistoric magical cure is in repute in Shetland as a remedy

for lameness in horses at the present day.

A remarkable cure for intermittent fever, in a marshy district of

Lincolnshire, is described in "Folk-Lore," June, 1898 (page 186). An old

woman, whose grandson had a bad attack of the fever, fastened upon the

foot-board of his bed three horse-shoes, with a hammer laid cross-wise

upon them. With the hammer the old crone gave each shoe a smart tap,

repeating each time this spell: "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, nail the

Devil to this post, one for God and one for Wod and one for Lok. . . .

Yon's a sure charm," said she, "that will hold the Old One as fast as t'

church tower, when next he comes to shake un." The chronicler of this

curious incantation calls attention to the association of the name of

God with two heathen personages: Wodan, the chief ruler, and Loki, the

spirit of evil, in the mythology of the North.

The early Saxons in England knew little of scientific medicine, and

relied on indigenous herbs. They were much addicted to the use of wizard

spells, a term which originated with them; and were too ignorant to

adopt the skilled methods of the practitioners of Greece and Italy.

The invention of some especially forceful words for exorcising fiends

and illnesses was ascribed to Robert Grosseteste (about 1175-1253),

Bishop of Lincoln; and the fact that a learned prelate should devote

attention to the subject is strong testimony to its importance in

medieval times. There is indeed abundant evidence that throughout that

period verbal charms were very commonly worn, whether devotional

sentences, prayer formulas written on vellum, or mystic letters, words,

and symbols inscribed on parchment. For many centuries medical

practice consisted largely of prayers and incantations, the employment

of charms and talismans, and the performance of superstitious rites.

Until the seventeenth century these methods were more or less in vogue.

Thus, a verse from the Lamentations of Jeremiah was thought to be a

specific for rheumatism.

The Atharva-Veda, one of the ancient Vedas, or religious books of the

Hindus, contains hundreds of healing-spells, as well as formulas to

secure prosperity, in expiation of sin, and as safeguards against

robbers and wild beasts. They are repeated either by the person

expecting assistance therefrom, or by a magician for his benefit. Of the

therapeutic verses brief examples are here given:

(A charm against fever.) "O Takman (fever), along with thy brother

balasa, along with thy sister cough, along with thy cousin paman, go

to yonder foreign folk!"

(A charm against cough.) "As a well-sharpened arrow swiftly to a

distance flies, thus do thou, O Cough, fly along the expanse of the


(A charm against the demons of disease.) "O amulet of ten kinds of wood,

release this man from the demon and the fit which has seized upon his


While reciting the above formula, a talisman consisting of splinters

from ten kinds of wood is fastened upon the patient, and ten of his

friends rub him down.

The following translation of an old Scottish incantation against

disease is taken from a collection of charms, chiefly of the Outer

Hebrides Islands, and included by Alexander Carmichael in his "Carmina

Gaelica," Edinburgh, 1900.

Peter and James and John,

The Three of sweetest virtues in glory,

Who arose to make the charm,

Before the great gate of the City,

By the right knee of God the Son,

Against the keen-eyed men,

Against the peering-eyed women,

Against the slim, slender, fairy darts,

Against the swift arrows of fairies.

Two made to thee the withered eye,

Man and woman in venom and envy,

Three whom I will set against them.

Father, Son, and Spirit Holy.

Four-and-twenty diseases in the constitution of man and beast.

God scrape them, God search them, God cleanse them,

From out thy blood, from out thy flesh,

From out thy fragrant bones,

From this day, and each day that comes,

Till thy day on earth be done.