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Dedication.

It is remarkable that the beans are only used for a boy, their object being to insure for him great virile or sexual power. But if the child is a girl, the seeds of the pumpkin or sunflower are substituted for beans, because the latter would make her barren. The gypsies have the following articles of faith as regards hairs:—. Should birds find any, and build them into their nests, the man who lost them will suffer from headaches until, during the wane of the moon, he rubs his head with the yolk of eggs and washes it clean in running water. It would be very curious if this method of cleaning the hair and giving it a soft gloss, so much in vogue among English ladies, should have originated in sorcery.

Beyond this, the sufferer must mix some of his hairs with food and give them to a white dog to eat. If you see human hairs in the road do not tread on them, since, in that case, if they came from a lunatic, you, too, will go mad. According to Marcellus Burdigalensis , if you pick up some hairs in the road just before entering a city gate, tie one to your own head, and, throwing the rest away, walk on without looking behind you, you can cure a headache.

I have found nearly the same charm for the same purpose in Florence, but accompanied by the incantation which is wanting in Marcellus. Also his cure for headache with ivy from the head of a statue, which is still used in Tuscany with the incantation which the Roman omits.

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Finding a hair hanging to your coat, carefully burn it, since you may by so doing escape injury by witchcraft. But to bewitch your enemy get some of his combed-out hair, steep it in your own water, and then throw it on his garments. Then he will have no rest by night or day. I have observed that in all the Tuscan charms intended to torment a foe, the objects employed are like this of a disgusting nature. If a wife will hold her husband to her in love, she must take of her own hair and bind it to his. This must be done three times by full moonlight.

Earth from the footsteps of any one is regarded as a very powerful means of bewitching him in Italian and ancient sorcery. If a man bind the combings of his hair to the mane of a strange horse it will be wild and shy till the hairs are removed. For easy childbirth red hair is sewed in a small bag and carried on the belly next the skin during pregnancy.

If any one dreams much of the dead, let him sew some of his hair into an old shoe, and give it to any beggar. Thereby he will prevent evil spirits from annoying him.

In German Folk-lore, as I shall show more fully anon, the elder often occurs as a plant specially identified with sorcery. Nails cut on Friday should be burned, and the ashes mingled with the fodder of cattle, who are thus ensured against being stolen or attacked by wild beasts. If children are dwarfish, the same ashes in their food will make them grow. If a child suffers from pains in the stomach, a bit of nail must be clipped from its every finger; this is mixed with the dried dung of a foal, and the patient exposed to the smoke while it is burned.

Those which come out in the seventh year are carefully kept, and whenever the child suffers from toothache, one is thrown into a stream. Teeth which have been buried for many years, serve to make a singular fetish. They are mingled with the bones of a tree-frog, and the whole then sewed up in a little bag. If a man has anything for sale, and will draw or rub this bag over it, he will have many offers or customers for the articles thus enchanted.

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The bones are prepared by putting the frog into a glass or earthen receptacle full of small holes. This is buried in an ant-hill. The ants enter the holes and eat away all the flesh, leaving the bones which after a few weeks are removed. It is but a few days since I here, in Florence, met with a young English lady who had bought a very large one mounted in silver as a brooch, but who was utterly unaware that there was any meaning attached to it.

It came from Munich. Pain in the eyes is cured with a wash made of spring or well water and saffron. During the application the following is recited:—.

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This incantation casts light upon the earliest Shamanic remedies. When it was discovered that certain herbs really possessed curative qualities, this was attributed to inherent magic virtues. The increase of their power by combining them with water, or mingling them, was due to [ 28 ] mystic affinities by which a spirit passed from one to another.

The Spirit of Earth went into saffron, that of saffron into water. The magician thus by a song sent the pain into its medical affinity, and so on back to the source whence it came. From early times saffron, as one of the earliest flowers of spring, owing to its colour, was consecrated to magic and love. Therefore the public women wore a yellow robe. The same sympathetic process of transmission may be traced in the remedy for the erysipelas. The blood of a bullfinch is put into a new vessel with scraped elder-bark, and then laid on a cloth with which the eyes are bound up overnight.

Meanwhile the patient repeats:—. We have here in the elder-bark associations of magic which are [ 29 ] ancient and widely spread, and which still exist; for at the present day country people in New England attribute to it curative virtues which it really does not possess.

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Growing in lonely, gloomy places its form and the smell of its flowers seemed repulsive, so that it was associated with death, and some derived its name from Frau Holle, the sorceress and goddess of death. The ancient Lithuanians, he informs us, worshipped their god Puschkeit, who was a form of Pluto, in fear and trembling at dusk, and left their offerings under the elder-tree.

Everybody has seen the little puppets made of a piece of elder-pith with half a bullet under them, so that they always stand upright, and jump up when thrown down. Among the Slovaks these seem to have had some magical application. Perhaps their priests persuaded them that these jumping Jacks were miraculous, for they called them Pikuljk, a name derived from Peklo, the under-world. They still believe in a Pikuljk, who is a servant of the Evil One. He does all kinds of favours for men, but ends by getting their souls. The ancestors of the Poles were accustomed to bury all their sins and sorrows under elder-trees, thinking that they thereby gave to the lower world what properly belonged to it.

This corresponds accurately to the gypsy incantation which passes the disease on from the elder bark into the earth, and from earth unto death. Frau Ellhorn, or Ellen, was the old German name for this plant. Hung before a stable door it warded off witchcraft, and he who planted it conciliated evil spirits. And if a twig of it were planted on a grave and it grew, that was a sign that the soul of the deceased was happy, which is the probable reason why the very old Jewish cemetery in Prague was planted full of elders.

The same author informs us that Hollunder or Elder is so called from hohl , or hollow, or else is an anagram of Unholden , unholy spirits, and some people call it Alhuren , from its connection with witches and debauchery, even as Cordus writes:—. He closes his comments on this subject with the dry remark that if the people of Leipzig wear, as is their wont, garlands of elder with the object of preventing breaches of the seventh commandment among them, it has in this instance, at least, utterly failed to produce the expected effect.

It should be mentioned that in the gypsy spell the next morning the cloth with the elder-bark must be thrown into the next running water. To cure toothache the Transylvanian gypsies wind a barley-straw round a stone, which is thrown into a running stream, while saying:—. Straw was anciently a symbol of emptiness, unfruitfulness, and death, and it is evidently used in this sense by the gypsies, or derived by them from some tradition connected with it.

A feigned or fruitless marriage is indicated in Germany by the terms Strohwittwer and Strohwittwe. From the earliest times in France the breaking a straw signified that a compact was broken with a man because there was nothing in him. Still, straws have something in them.

She who will lay straws on the table in the full moonlight by an open window, especially on Saturday night, and will repeat—. Straw-lore is extensive and curious. As in elder-stalks, small fairies make their homes in its tubes. To strew chopped straw before the house of a bride was such an insult to her character, in Germany, and so common that laws were passed against it. Per sparsionem dissectorum culmorum frugum. An immense amount of learned quotation and reference by its author indicates that this custom which was influenced by superstition, was very extensively written on in its time.

It was allied to the binding of knots and other magic ceremonies to prevent the consummation of marriages. There is a very curious principle involved in curing certain disorders or afflictions by means of spells or verses. A certain word is repeated many times in a mysterious manner, so that it strikes the imagination of the sufferer. There is found in the Slavonian countries a woolly caterpillar called Wolos , whose bite, or rather touch, is much dreaded.

I have myself, when a boy, been stung by such a creature in the United States. As I remember, it was like the sting of a bee. The following Malo Russian spell against it was given me by Prof. Dragomanoff in Geneva. It is supposed that a certain kind of disorder, or cutaneous eruption, is caused by the Wolos:—. And gather it in empty ricks. Avoid me! There is a very curious incantation also apparently of Indian-gypsy origin, since it refers to the spirits of the water who cause diseases.

In this instance they are supposed to be exorcised by Saint Paphnutius, who is a later Slavonian-Christian addition to the old Shamanic spell. Then the holy Paphnutius began to beat them, and gave them every one seventy-seven days:—. It is remarkable that, as a certain mysterious worm, caterpillar, or small lizard accounts differ among the Algonkin Indians is supposed to become at will a dragon, or sorcerer, or spirit, to be invoked or called on, so the Wolos worm is also invoked, sometimes as a saint or sorcerer, and sometimes as a spirit who scatters disease.

The following gypsy-Slav [ 35 ] charm, to consecrate a swarm of bees, was also given to me by Prof.


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Dragomanoff , who had learned it from a peasant:—. Then the bees are to be sprinkled therewith. The following Malo-Russian formula from the same authority, though repointed and gilt with Greek Christianity, is old heathen, and especially interesting since Prof. Dragomanoff traces it to a Finnic Shaman source:—. The feminine form, Olga, or Volga, corresponds to the masculine name Oleg, or Olg, the earliest legendary character of Kief.

The Russian annals speak of the Volkv of Finland, who are represented as Shamans.


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