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Thursday, October 15, 2015

The St. Gall Incantations

The St. Gall's Incantations are some of the best Irish examples of mixed pagan and Christian folk magic charms. Like much of this material the existing translations are generally pretty old, so I thought it would be fun to offer some new versions today:

The St. Gall Incantations
Cod. S. Galli No. 1395

Against a Thorn

Ni artu ní nim ni domnu ní muir arnóib bríathraib rolabrastar crist assa croich díuscart dím an delg delg díuscoilt crú ceiti méim méinni bé ái béim nand dodath scenn toscen todaig rogarg fiss goibnen aird goibnenn renaird goibnenn ceingeth ass:

 Focertar in depaidse in im nadtét in uisce ocus fuslegar de imman delg immecuáirt ocus nitét fora n-airrinde nach fora n-álath ocus manibé an-delg and dotóeth in dala fiacail airthir a chin 

Against a Thorn
"Nothing higher than heaven, nothing deeper than sea. On account of the powerful speech said by Christ on the cross, remove from me the thorn, a thorn pointedly-cleaves, wounds, destroys, in me there is an opening on account of striking, an unlucky appearance, frightening, a fire springs, very fierce Goibniu’s knowledge, Goibniu’s attention, Goibniu's powerful attention overcomes it":
Put the charm on the butter not into the water and smear around the thorn around its circumference and not on the cut nor on the affliction, and if there is no thorn in it will fall out the second spike* from the front of his head.

Against urinary disease

Ár gálár fúail;~
Dumesursca diangalar fúailse dunesairc éu ét dunescarat eúin énlaithi admai ibdach;~ Focertar inso dogrés imaigin hitabair thúal :•~
prechnytosan (i.e. praedicent) omnibus nationibus FINIT:

Against urinary disease

Against illnesses of urine .
"I am saved from sudden illness of urine, I am saved from salmon envy, I am saved from birds, skillful flocks, spell-workers."
Display this always where you habitually go to pour out.
publish to all nations, the end

Against headache

Caput christi oculus isaiæ frons nassium nóe labia lingua salomonis collum temathei mens beniamín pectus pauli iunctus iohannis fides abrache sanctus sanctus sanctus dominus deus sabaoth
Canir anisiu cach dia im du chenn ar chenn galar • iarna gabáil dobir da sale it bais ocus dabir imdu da are ocus fort chulatha ocus cani du pater fothrí lase 7 dobir cros ditsailiu forochtar do chinn ocus dogní atóirandsa dano •U• fort chiunn

Against headache
"Head of Christ, eye of Isaiah, bridge of the nose of Noah, lips and tongue of Solomon, in mind Benjamin, breast-joined John Paul's faith abrache Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts",
This is sung each day around your head against illnesses of the head. After take spring water putting it through your palms and put it around your two temples and on the back of your neck, and sing your Our Father three times by it, and put a cross for that reason of spring water on the top of your head, and then make this therefore, U, on your head. 

Against various ailments

"Tessurc marb bíu. Ar díring, ar goth-sring, ar att díchinn, ar fuilib híairn, ar ul loscas tene, ar ub hithes cú. Rop achuh rú ,crinas teoracnoe, crete teoraféthe fichte, benim a galar ar fiuch fuili guil Fuil nirub att rée rop slán frosaté admuinur in slánicid foracab Diancecht lia muntir corop slán ani forsate"

focertar inso dogrés itbois láin di uisciu ocindlut ocus dabir itbéulu ocus imbir indamér atanessam dolutain itbélaib cechtar ái áleth

Against various ailments
"I save the dead-alive. Against belching, against javelin-cord, against unkind swelling, against iron wounds, against an edge fire burned, against a point a dog bites. Let him be sharply-red, three nuts withering, believe that three sinews are woven. I strike his illness, I overcome wounds lamenting of blood. Let it not be an endless swelling. Let him be healthy, pouring on I invoke the salve left by Dian Cecht with his family that what it is poured on be whole."

Set this always in your palm full of water while washing, and thou put it in your mouth, and use the two fingers that are next the little-finger in your mouth, each of them separate.

*feocail is usually given here as "tooth" but it reads strangely to say that if the injury has no thorn in it then the person will lose a tooth, or teeth, for saying the charm. However feocail is used poetically to mean a spike as well according to the eDIL and I find it more sensible to read it as I've translated it. 


  1. I am curious why you did use spike instead of tooth given "saying the charm" involves the mouth-speech. Tooth being connected to the mouth and charm and speech seems to go well. Just curious.

    1. honestly I just dislike the feel of it with what seems to be a punitive measure tacked on the end - as if saying it with a wound but without a retained thorn should merit the loss of a tooth - which historically would have been an extremely serious consequence. (shrug) Perhaps that is the intent, but I prefer it reading as if should the thorn not be in the wound then a second one shall appear elsewhere. Also I find the fact that the spike/tooth is said to fall out of the front of the head and not the mouth specifically rather strange.