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Spells

Alexandra Manthou. Α collection of choruses from the settlement of Platanousa. Student Manuscripts, Folklore Studies, School of Philosoply, University of Ioannina. Series 2, 1965 to 1966 (A-Ω) p 289-291.

You had to say this three times every time a scorpion bit you
“Over there far in the mountain, three things dangle
One is honey, the other is milk and the third is the scorpion’s blood
Drink the honey, drink the milk, spill the scorpion’s blood”

When you get a headache take three small stones from a gravel road. Lift your chin up and bring it down, then move your head to the right and to the left as if making a cross. Now throw the small stones to your left, then to your right and finally behind you. If it’s dark and you see a light in the distance, every time you make a cross with your head you should say the following words: “To all possessors of fire, take the pain away from my head. I call upon one to slaughter it, another to attack it viciously and a third one to remove it.”

When something went in your eye you had to blink three times and say these words: “If it’s dirt may it shred and if a blister may it clear.” Spell against the evil spirits that disrupted people as they slept and couldn’t open their eyes.

“Evil spirits, evil spirits go on and count the leaves on trees and then come step on me
Evil spirits, evil spirits go on and count the sand in the sea and then come step on me
Evil spirits, evil spirits go on and count the stars in heaven and then come step on me.”

When someone’s groin area ached, i.e. the body part between the pelvis and thigh, people would say the following spell.

“Pain and thread headed to the woods. The pain stayed and the thread returned.” Then they’d twirl their leg three times with yarn and would tie their big toe because they believed that the pain was gathered there just like the yarn gathers on the spindle.”

Ekaterini Papageorgaki. Collection of Folk Art from the Settlement of Pramanta. Students Manuscripts, Folklore Studies, School of Philosophy, University of Ioannina. Series 5, 1968 to 1969, Volume VI, p 267-291.

Common spells applicable in cases of disease
For a swollen groin that reached the thigh

They’d take a spindle with its handle, a grindstone, a razor, a burning piece of charcoal and a comb. Upon the night of a waning moon and when the first star came out, everyone held these items together, they’d cross the leg that ached and then they’d throw the items down and say:

The pain goes to town
So does the comb
So does the grindstone
So does the razor
So does the charcoal
The pain shall stay in town
But the others shall come back

An elderly nun performed this spell. She’d say it three straight nights and for it to work no one could ever reveal it.

For oral thrush

An ill person’s aunt would take some thick red yarn, stretch it with both her hands and place it over the ill person’s mouth. In the morning before the sun came up she’d say:

Auntie light up the fire
Auntie light up the thrush

In the evening she’d take three twigs from the vines, light them on fire, then pour water over them and then with a cotton ball soaked in water she’d smear the ill person’s mouth and say:

Auntie’s put out the fire
Auntie’s put out the thrush
And this went on for three straight nights

Frederiki Roka. Collection of Folk Art in the Palaiochori Syrrako Settlement. Manuscripts of Students, Folklore Studies, School of Philosophy, University of Ioannina. Series 5, 1968 to 1969, Volume VI (P-Σ) p 139-174.

When the sun comes down and someone goes to the spring for water they should take along the way but from a distance three stones which they should then hold in their left hand. Prior to drawing the water they must throw the stones into the spring so that the fairies don’t take their voice away.

When the sun sets housewives should refrain from giving bread and salt so that their home is always kept safe.

The trivet must be quickly removed from the fire so that migrants may return home, debts are quickly paid off and for all work tasks to be completed quickly and effectively.

When young women would go to the spring to draw water they couldn’t return with empty barrels because it was thought that a bride without dowry would end up in the neighboring houses.

It was believed that sheep and goats would go crazy if you hit them with a wooden stick.

When the girls load a barrel they should never make a knot in the rope because this meant that their mother-in-law would suffocate. Also they should never carry the rope over their shoulders as to drag the barrel behind them because this meant that a family member would die. Moreover people couldn’t go out with their hair wet because this meant that the fairies wouldn’t take away their voice. They should also never wash their hair on All Souls’ Day because the dead would be drinking dirty water.

On the day of Saint Trifonas, in February, it was forbidden for anyone to chop, cut or slice anything because worms would do harm to their crops. The same applied for Clean Monday because it was believed that mice would eat their bread all year long. After sunset no one would roll thread into a ball because it was believed that their goats would not properly give birth. At night one couldn’t count the stars because their hands would fill with lumps and warts. On the religious holiday of Saint Mavra no one was allowed to plough because the fertile cows and horses would die.

They’d avoid leaving the trivet upside down because they believed that this made God angry. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they’d avoid washing men’s clothes because something bad would happen. The 9th of March was the Holy day of the Forty Martyrs and people would walk around the fields holding and banging pans and would chant the following lines while in their mouth they’d carry an herb known as sow thistle.

I ate forty sow thistles
and forty of my needs were gone
Forty snakes are leaving
While I eat the sow thistle

Or

Forty wilted herbs
From all of these, I ate the sow thistle
And forty snakes I killed

Or

On the Holy day of the Forty Martyrs
Forty snakes are leaving
Forty ridges tilt
I eat my sow thistle
On the eve of the Annunciation they’d chase snakes in the evening, hitting the bells that dangled on the necks of animals while saying this spell.

Go away harmful snakes
The Day of Annunciation is coming
With a sword in one hand
To slice off your head
and throw you in the river
For the black snakes to eat
For the red worms too