After lunch, Ilona Tuomi (University College Cork) presented on the St. Gall MS, which is part of her ongoing research. The entire afternoon line-up of speakers was fantastic, so my apologies in advance for potentially spotty note-taking. I slept poorly the night before and unfortunately struggled to maintain focus toward the end of the day.
Ilona discussed the importance of words, within ritual actions, and the structure of charms, e.g., the power was built-up through names and story, and then discharged (the invocation, historiola, conjuration).
I. In the first example of the Thorn, we see the ‘aggressive’ language again:
Against a thorn
Ni artu ní nim ni domnu ní muir arnóib bríathraib rolabrastar crist assach(oich) díuscart dím andelg delg díuscoilt crú ceiti méim méinni bé ái béim nand dodath scenn toscen todaig rogarg fiss goibnen aird goibnenn renaird goibnenn ceingeth ass:- Focertar indepaidse inim nadtét inuisce 7 fuslegar de immandelg immecuáirt 7 nitét foranairrinde nachforanálath 7 manibé andelg and dotóeth indalafiacail airthir achin ;~ ;~ ;~ :• – Mary Jones
I strike a blow on it
which makes it spring out
which makes it spring forward
which drives it out
And again more aggressive language, this time invoking Goibnui:
the point of Goibnui…
before the point of Goibnui…
let it step out of him…
There is a translation for each charm on the Mary Jones site. The Thorn charm contains these instructions:
This charm is laid in butter which goes not into water and (some) of it is smeared all round the thorn and it (the butter) goes not on the point nor on the wound, and if the thorn be not there one of the two teeth in the front of his head will fall out.
This instruction relates to the ritual performance discussed in the presentation. The words of power are not sufficient. They must be accompanied by the action which discharges the power. In this instance, unwashed butter is put all around the thorn, but not on the thorn. The “does not go in water” section referring to the butter making process. Important to note, there is potential danger in this charms use. If you don’t actually have a thorn when you use this charm, your front two teeth will fall out!
II. In the ‘charm’ for Urine disease we see how repetition increases power, but also how not naming something specifically deprives the disease of power:
Against urinary disease
Dumesursca diangalar fúailse dunesairc éu ét dunescarat eúin énlaithi admai ibdach;~ Focertar inso dogrés imaigin hitabair thúal :•~
PreCHNYTΦcANϖMNYBVc:- KNAATYONIBVS:- FINIT:•- (again, from Mary Jones – see link above)
… a cattle – goad saves us
skillful bird-flocks of witches save us
with the ritual performance (instructions) to place the charm (perhaps written? a textual amulet?) in a particular location:
This is always put in the place in which thou makest thy urine.
III. The Charm against a headache is arranged like Pat’s breastplate, with a listing of body parts, etc.
Caput christi oculus isaiæ frons nassium nóe labia lingua salomonis c?llu•m temathei mens beniamín pectus pauli iunctus iohannis fides abrache sanctus sanctus sanctus dominus deus sabaoth ;~ ;~ ;~
Canir anisiu cach dia imduchenn archenn galar • iarnagabáil dobir dasale it bais 7 dabir imduda are 7 fortchulatha 7 cani dupater fothrí lase 7 dobir cros ditsailiu forochtar dochinn 7 dogní atóirandsa dano •U• fortchiunn ;~ ;~ ;~ (Mary Jones)
The ritual performance here includes therapeutic massage (which I rather like!), and making the sign of the cross on top of the head 5 times. Prof. Hillers mentioned during questions what the “U” sign represents in the literature, but I failed to note it:
This is sung every day about thy head against headache. After singing it though puttest thy spittle into thy palm and thou puttest it round thy two temples and on thy occiput, and therat thou singest thy paternoster thrice, and thou puttest a cross of thy spittle on the crown of thy head, and then thou makest this sign, U, on thy head.
IV. Is a non-christian I-form charm:
Against various ailments
Tessurc marb • bíu • ardíring • argoth • sring • aratt díc hinn • arfuilib • híairn • arul • loscas • tene • arub • hithes • cú • rop achuhrú • crinas • teoracnoe • crete • teoraféthe • fichte • benim • agalar • arfiuch fuili • guil • Fuil • nirubatt • Rée • ropslán • frosaté • admuinur • in slánicid • foracab • dian • cecht • liamuntir • coropslán • ani forsate • ;
focertar inso dogrés itbois láin diuisciu ocindlut 7 dabir itbéulu 7 imbir indamér atanessam dolutain itbélaib cechtar ái áleth ;•
I save the sick to death…
Snake, hound, fire (side note: this trinity is a recurrent theme in many of the charms discussed today)
I invoke the remedy which Dian Cecht…
Left with his household…
3 nuts which decay
3 sinews which weave
The ritual performance for this charm includes placing water in your palm when washing, then drinking (?) the water and placing the middle and ring finger in the mouth:
This is laid always in thy palm full of water when washing, and thou puttest it into thy mouth, and thou insertest the two fingers that are next the little-finger into thy mouth, each of them apart.