The Northern Way

The Anglo-Saxon Metrical Charms

Metrical Charm 1: For Unfruitful Land

Here is the solution, how you may improve your fields if they are not fertile, or if anything unwholesome has been done to them through sorcery or witchcraft.

At night, before dawn, take four turfs from the four quarters of your lands, and note how they previously stood. Then take oil and honey and yeast and milk from every cow that is in the land, and part of every kind of tree grown on the land, except hard beams, and part of every identifiable herb except the buckbean only, and add to them holy water. Then drip it three times on the base of the turfs, and say these words: Crescite, grow, et multiplicamini, and multiply, et replete, and fill, terre, this earth. In nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti sit benedicti. And say the Lord’s Prayer as often as the other.

And then take the turfs to church and let a priest sing four masses over them, and let the green surface be turned towards the altar, and then, before sunset, let the turfs be brought to the places where they were previously. And let the man have four crosses of quickbeam made for him, and write upon each end: Matthew and Mark, Luke and John. Lay the crucifix on the bottom of the pit, then say: Crux Matheus, crux Marcus, crux Lucas, crux sanctus Iohannes. Then take the turfs and set them down there, and say these words nine times, ‘Crescite’ as before, and the Lord's Prayer as often, and then turn eastward, and humbly bow down nine times, and then say these words:

Eastward I stand, entreating favours,
I pray the glorious Lord, I pray the great Lord,
I pray the holy warden of heaven,
Earth I pray and heaven above
And the steadfast, saintly Mary
And heaven’s might and highest hall
That by grace of God I might this glamour
Disclose with teeth. Through trueness of thought
Awaken these plants for our worldly profit,
Fill these fields through firm belief,
Make these fields pleasing, as the prophet said
That honour on earth has he who dutifully
deals out alms, doing God’s will.

Then turn yourself three times awiddershins, then stretch out flat and there intone the litanies. Then say; Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus to the end: then sing the Benedicte with arms extended, and the Magnificat, and the Lord's Prayer three times, and commend it to Christ and Saint Mary and the Holy Cross, for love and for reverence, and for the grace of him who owns the land, and all those who are under him. When all that is done, then take unfamiliar seeds from beggars and give them twice as much as you took from them, and let him gather all his plough apparatus together; then let him bore a hole in the plough beam and put in there styrax and fennel and hallowed soap and hallowed salt. Then take the seed, set it on the plough's body, then say:

Erce, Erce, Erce, Mother of Earth,
May the Almighty grant you, the Eternal Lord,
Fields sprouting and springing up,
Fertile and fruitful,
Bright shafts of shining millet,
And broad crops of barley
And white wheaten crops
And all the crops of earth.
May God Almighty grant the owner,
(And his hallows who are in heaven),
That his land be fortified against all foes,
And embattled against all evil,
From sorceries sown throughout the land.
Now I pray the Wielder who made this world
That no cunning woman, nor crafty man,
May weaken the words that are uttered here.

Then drive forward the plough and cut the first furrow, then say:

Hail, Earth, mother of all;
Be abundant in God’s embrace,
Filled with food for our folk’s need.

Then take all kinds of flour and bake a loaf as broad as a man's palm, and knead it with milk and holy water, and lay it under the first furrow. Then say:

Field filled with food, to feed mankind,
Blooming brightly, be you blessed,
In the holy name of He who made heaven, and earth on which we live,
May the God who made these grounds grant to us his growing gifts
That each kind of seed may come to good.

Then say three times, Crescite in nomine patris, sit benedicti. Amen and the Lord’s Prayer three times.

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