In order to have firm subject matter I conduct my own investigations into the lives of the common people in Saxon England, bringing various materials and ideas together. Recently I have been trying my hand at translating some lessor Anglo-Saxon healing documents known as ‘Fly Leaf Leechdoms’.
This poem was inspired by an incomplete charm (MS. Cott. Yitell. E. xviii., fol. 13 b).
The charm begins: ‘This is to cure thy cattle’ and goes on to mention the casting down of sticks inscribed with the Paternoster. Using this as a point of departure I have substituted runes in place of the prayer and added various expressions from other lessor charms (that I have translated) to produce the basis of this piece.
Galdor - a spell or charm to be sung or chanted
Scucca - goblins or demons
Shippon - a cow shed (were you a farmer you might know this one)
Wight - a land spirit.
To charm a cow
This thou shalt use, to cure mickle cattle,
Against a pale ghost, or fiend do battle.
If cow be addled, by dwarf or dark elf,
Sing this charm to bring, thine cow back to health.
Shield from shadow-goer, Scucca sent in night,
Chant this charm to cure, thy addled cow blight.
Thou must sing to beast, each evening of three,
This galdor sing thrice, over them chant thee.
With white rune wand from, old oaken bower,
I doth thee charge with, Wodan’s wise power.
Be shielded from wrath, and ever made well,
Undamaged by poisons, or magic spell.
By power of runes, on long oaken stave,
From wrath and cruel curse, this heifer to save.
I Sing solemn spell, to the power of three,
From flying venom, this will protect thee.
May runes be inscribed, on old oaken sticks,
On three edges thou, inscribe them betwixt.
Against flying venom, rude runes to write,
For thee to banish, this unwelcome wight.
Take thou all three staves, into thy shippon.
Cast two wands about, the ground there upon,
Across door threshold, let to fall the last,
For magic galdor, to be wholly cast.
Copyright Andrew Rea November 2013