CHARM AGAINST A DWARF

 

Her com in gangan, in spiden wiht,
hfde him his haman on handa, cw t u his hncgest wre,
lege e his teage an sweoran. Ongunnan him of m lande lian,
sona swa hy of m lande coman, a ongunnan him a liu colian.
a com in gangan deores sweostar,
a gendade heo and aas swor
t nfre is m adlegan derian ne moste,
ne m e is galdor begytan mihte,
oe e is galdor ongalan cue.
Here he came in walking, a spider-spirit,
he had his coat on hand, he said that you were his steed,
he laid his reins upon your neck. He began to go from the land,
as soon as he came out of the land, then his joints began to cool.
Then came in walking the creature's sister,
then she ended it and swore oaths
that never this would injure the sick person,
nor any for whom this charm might be obtained,
or who knows how to enchant this charm.

 

The name of this charm in Old English is Wi Dweorh, meaning "against a dwarf". Here the dwarf is assaulting his victim for some unspecified reason.

In the first line of the charm spiden is often translated as "spider", however Griffiths speculates that it may be a corruption of the Old English swie (strong, powerful) since the lower case 'p' and Old English 'w' are similar in appearance. If so, the first line would then refer to a "powerful spirit".

In the charm a resolution is obtained through a contract with the dwarf's sister. A truce is established between the victim and the spirit world. The spell gives instructions to inscribe seven names (Maximian, Malchus, John, Martimian, Dionysius, Constantine and Serafion) on seven Christian communion wafers, which a maiden must then hang around the neck of the sick person. The reasoning for this is unclear, but the wafers may originally have been a small cake or cakes given as a peace offering to the dwarf and his sister.

This charm is a good example of the narrative style of galdor so prevalent in Anglo-Saxon magic. It tells a story, describing the onset of the disease ("here he came in walking") and how healing is accomplished ("she ended it and swore oaths").

 

 

 

 

 

 

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