Incantations

From Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions, 1894

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Incantations were common in Ireland. A story in Erse —Pandyeen O'Kelly—has a man riding aloft on a besom. A giant blew a young man to a distant Rath, and sent him into a heavy sleep. A giant got from a little green man a black cap—like Jack-the-Giant-Killer's Cap of Darkness, and gave it to the King of Ireland's son, that he might be invisible at his leisure.

Other superstitious traditions, more or less hypnotic, may be mentioned. A thimble was given by a fairy to a young man to serve as a boat. A large white cat declared herself a woman three hundred years old. Riding on fairy horses, carrying off princesses through the air, using swords that gave light, sending weasels to bring money, turning into flying beetles, forcing into magic sleep, and even restoring youth, were some of the wonders. A black dog was said to be a hag's father. Adepts could turn into vultures, swans, wolves, &c. But, according to Hyde's Folk Lore, witches could be released by masses. A hag or witch was a gwrack in Celtic Welsh.

Sir George Grey, in his New Zealand narratives, has several instances of enchantment, like those of Irish times. One old woman, by her spells, held a boat so that it could not be launched. Again, "Early in the morning Kua performed incantations, by which he kept all the people in the cave in a profound sleep." A sorcerer baked food in an enchanted oven to kill a party. Of another, "He smote his hands on the threshold of the house, and every soul in it was dead."

This was an Irish charm for the toothache:—

"May the thumb of chosen Thomas
in the side of guileless Christ
heal my teeth without lamentation
from worms and from pangs."

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