Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Healing of the Eldar

I Nestad in-Edhil:   The Healing of the Eldar

Note: This is an "in-character" treatise on Elven healing. 
For a detailed examination of ALL examples of healing found in Tolkien's writing, 

Healing in Tolkien's writing. 
Inspired by Nordic Lore.

What is Elven healing? 

That's as hard a question to answer as, "what is Elf-magic?" 
or "what are Elf spells?" 

The Elves don't understand what I mean by magic, but they capture living light in gems, 
or walk on snow without sinking, or see glimpses of the future or far-off places in stones and pools. 

Some insist that their power doesn't come from spells, yet I know there's a charm for staunching blood that was old when Lúthien sang it. 
No more does an archer's ability to shoot come from the bow itself, 
but to one who lacks the skill, bow and archery alike seem magical indeed.

What follows here is an Elf-friend's imperfect understanding of the Elves' healing arts.

Part I: The Nature of Elven Healing

Body and spirit

Elves teach that living beings have two parts: the hröa, or physical body, and the fëa, or spirit. It's also said that "those who have dwelt in the Blessed Realm live at once in both worlds,
and against both the Seen and the Unseen they have great power."
(Gandalf, recorded in Red Book of Westmarch).

I have observed that some Elves-- not all from the Blessed Realm-- can sense the moods of forests and streams, or communicate with animals by touch and soft words.
I've heard that very powerful Elves like Galadriel can probe the thoughts of others.
Clearly the Eldar are able to sense and affect things in "both worlds" in ways that ordinary mortals cannot. Therefore, I believe that their capacity to heal
comes from their understanding and sense of both spirit and body.
While herb-lore and physical treatments of wounds are something that lore-minded
Elves have studied and practiced for millenia,
their most skilled healers seem to treat wounds on both the spiritual and physical fronts.

Limitation and variation in power

Equally clearly, not all Elves have this power to the same extent.
Legolas is apparently not a healer.
Gandalf emphasizes that the High-elves of Imladris are especially powerful,
yet Glorfindel lacks the "skill" to heal the cursed Morgul-knife wound of Frodo, and defers to Elrond-
- one who did not dwell in the Blessed Lands.
(Therefore one cannot say that only High-elves have healing powers, or that theirs is always greater.)
We must remember too that the dramatic healings performed by Lúthien, Elrond,
and others in the great tales are probably exceptional cases, the absolute "best" one can expect.
Finally, I am not certain whether the healing abilities demonstrated by Lúthien, Elrond, and Aragorn (descendent of Lúthien) are entirely due to Elven nature,
or whether Lúthien's half-Maia blood gave her special powers passed on to her heirs.

Power, skill, lore

Elven healing arises from an inner power that ordinary Men lack.
Aragorn, who carries the blood of Elves and Lúthien in his veins,
states that Elrond has the "greater power" in healing, as "the eldest of all our race",
a bloodline evidently renown for healing arts.
Glorfindel, although he is one of the greatest of the High-elves,
surely more powerful than Elrond, laments that that the wound caused by a Morgul-blade
are "beyond his skill to heal".
Apparently Elrond's skill was greater, since by his hand Frodo was cured.
Skill, to me, implies techniques, methods, and art learned through training and experience,
such as the method of withdrawing an arrow from a wound, or splinting a joint,
or removing a deeply-buried knife splinter.
Finally there is lore, the study of specialized knowledge,
and the Elves have been at it for thousands of years.
They taught the Dúnedain herb-lore like the virtues of athelas,
and have a deep knowledge of the body's structures and workings which help them ply their craft.
I expect that anyone who applies himself can increase in skill and lore,
although those with mortal lifespans can never hope to gain the knowledge of many centuries.
Power, however, is born with the fëa,
and it seems to me unlikely that an Elf can increase her own power or boost another's.

Learning to use one's power, studying healing lore,
and gaining skill through experience are thus the three strands
of the braid which comprises Elven healing arts.

Self-healing and endurance

Elves heal mortals:
of this we have many examples, and "healing of the world's hurts"
is said to be one of their race's two chief motives, alongside the making of fair things.

There are also many references to Elven powers of self-healing in the ancient tales.
I am not sure what to make of comments like Beleg being "swiftly healed...
after the manner of the Elven-folk of old" (Narn i Hîn Húrin),
which seem to imply they were hardier long ago than now.
Perhaps, being bound to the life-span Arda in both body and spirit,
their power is fading as the world ages, or perhaps (I hope) it is merely the effect of lingering too long in mortal lands, and by going to the Blessed Lands they will renew themselves.
I do not know whether any Elf remaining in Middle-earth, save perhaps Glorfindel, could survive being pinned to a cliff for weeks like Maedhros son of Fëanor when he was taken captive by Morgoth.
Whether or no,
even Legolas is little troubled by the terrible storm and cold of Caradhras just as the Noldor
long ago were able to cross the ice-bound wastelands of the far north on foot.
Their bodies can thus endure greater hardships than mortalkind.

The Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth makes clear that the innate power
of Elves gives them an edge in recovering from most (although not all) injuries:

"They were thus capable of far greater and longer physical exertions
(in pursuit of some dominant purpose of their minds) without weariness;
they were not subject to diseases;
they healed rapidly and completely after injuries that would have proved fatal to Men;
and they could endure great physical pain for long periods.
Their bodies could not, however, survive vital injuries,
or violent assaults upon their structure;
nor replace missing members (such as a hand hewn off)."
War and healing arts

There is one curious passage in Of the Laws and Customs Among the Eldar
which was apparently written to justify the absence of female Elves from battle,
even though they are practically the same as male Elves in ability and power.
The scholiast claims that most female Elves do not fight or kill,
because it diminishes healing power in which they have chosen to specialize,
and that those male Elves who are healers "abstained from hunting,
and went not to war until the last need."
This is in flat contradiction to almost every record we have of actual healers:
Beleg, Mablung, Elrond, Glorfindel, and Aragorn certainly do not abstain from hunting,
although they do not seek out war quite like the Sons of Fëanor.
The sons of Elrond, also, aid Aragorn in healing the wounded after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields,
and their bloodthirsty feud against the orcs of the Misty Mountains is well-known.
Aragorn's hidden power as king is shown both by his power to wield Andúril and to heal.
Moreover, in our own valley, some of our greatest warriors are women.
Therefore with respect to the unknown loremaster who wrote this passage,
I can only quote what he said a few sentences earlier:
such things are customs, not laws, which
"vary... in place and in time, and in the several races of the Eldar".

Part II: The Healing Process

Having trained as an apprentice healer, witnessed and tended many wounds on the field, and examined all the examples of healing I could find in the songs that I have learned as a bard, my lore is only elementary. Such as it is, however, I can at least provide an overview of the usual healing procedure employed by Elves and those whom they have tutored (such as Aragorn, trained by his foster-father Elrond). In outline form:

1. Determine the nature of the injury

2. Preliminary treatment:
~ For physical injuries, have those on hand prepare a fire and boil water.
~ For spiritual/magical injuries, immediately combat the malady at a spiritual level.

3a. Treat open wounds:
~ remove foreign material (dirt, poison, arrowheads) and clean thoroughly.
~ Staunch bleeding.
~ optional: treat for pain.
~ bandage/bind.

3b. Treat contusions/breaks:
~ bathe area with infusion to reduce pain, swelling.
~ pad or splint as needed. Bind.

4. Keep patient warm and rest.
~ For spiritual maladies, one may need to continue calling to the spirit and strengthening it.
~ For physical maladies, one may reapply herbs to ease pain, hasten healing.

Now let me examine these steps one by one, drawing on case studies.

1. Determine the nature of the injury

Obviously step one is to figure out what's wrong. After the Moria-battle with orcs and trolls, Aragorn visually inspects the wounds of Sam and Frodo closely, and is experienced enough to rule out poison in Sam's sword-wound on his scalp. Learning to recognize the scent or traces of various orc-poisons is an unpleasant and necessary part of healing lore. Inflamed and swollen edges of a wound, or creeping discoloration or numbness, may also indicate whether poisons or other foreign agents are present. Gentle manipulation can detect broken or damaged bones. The healer can probe skin blow the break and ask the patient whether or not he feels the touch, to make sure there is not nerve damage. Dialated eyes, breathing problems, and fever or chills may help identify a malady. And of course the words and report of the patient himself, both in what the injuries feel like and how he came by them, are extremely valuable.

On the spiritual side, some healers can sense when something is wrong. Glorfindel "searched the wound on Frodo's shoulder with his fingers, and his face grew graver, as if what he learned disquieted him". The splinter in Frodo's shoulder was not discovered until much later, but clearly Glorfindel sensed it was there. Quite possibly he was sensing the evil magic on the knife, which was turning Frodo into a wraith. His touch combatted this effect for a while; immediately afterwards Frodo's vision cleared and he felt less cold. Similarly, in treating the Black Breath, Aragorn first looks into the patients' faces and seems to sense the nature of their wounds, and then uses touch and inner will, as well as athelas, to draw them back from their spiritual maladies. Before Aragorn arrives, the healers in the House of Healing listen to what the patients say in their sleep, hoping to gain some insight into their strange sickness: lacking his power, they seek answers in dreams.

The weapon that caused the injury is also important. Aragorn knows that orc-blades are sometimes poisoned, so he checks this at once (one should also check with arrows, especially those from Southrons and Haradrim). With weapons of the enemy, some Elves are able to see things mortal eyes miss, as when Glorfindel examines the Morgul-blade: "there are evil things written on this hilt,' he said; 'though maybe your eyes cannot see them." Luckily this is rare: accursed weapons like this come from Minas Morgul or Dol Guldur, being tools of the Nazgûl and other Men trained by Sauron in dark arts. One would not expect magically accursed weapons in the hands of orcs and trolls.

2a. Preliminary treatment: fire and water

Both in the case of spiritual injuries (the Morgul blade) and in physical bumps and scratches (after the Moria battle), Aragorn has party members set a fire and boil water, to keep the patient warm, and to have hot water on hand for cleaning wounds and preparing herbal remedies. Lúthien, also, despite her vastly greater power, keeps Beren warm with a conventional fire while treating his arrow-wound.

2b. Preliminary treatment: spiritual aid

If the wound is caused by magical or accursed means, one must certainly set to work combatting this at once, assuming one has the power to do so. Aragorn sings a strange song over the hilt of the Morgul-blade and then speaks the words of a charm over Frodo. Against the Black Breath, while waiting for someone to find him athelas leaves, Aragorn sits with his hand on Faramir's brow and calls his name, showing in his face great signs of struggle. It appears that Aragorn is able to seek, make contact with, and retrieve Faramir's lost spirit, for Faramir hails him as king upon waking, having never met him before. With Éowyn, Aragorn urges her brother to call her instead: evidently a close bond of love has some power of its own. Merry, Aragorn says, has a more resilient spirit, being a Hobbit, and recovers quickly.

Spiritual aid is not only good for spiritual maladies, however. Lúthien calls to Beren's spirit in a similar manner when he is dying of an arrow-wound. Fëa and hröa are both vital for survival, so healers who can soothe and encourage spirit, as well as treat bodily hurts, have a greater chance of success.

3a. Treating open wounds

Common sense applies here: clean thoroughly, cut out or remove any foreign objects, slow the bleeding, treat the pain, and sew or bind up the wound. Aragorn cleans ordinary wounds using athelas steeped in boiling water, which also refreshes the spirit of those who breathe its scent and eases the pain of the injury. Lúthien employs a "leaf / of all the herbs of healing chief" said by one commentator to be athelas. She cleans the wound with tears; those lacking her exceptional powers would probably do better with water, which is in greater supply! Aragorn uses cloth bandages, while Lúthien stops the bleeding with a "staunching song, that Elvish wives / long years had sung in those sad lives /of war and weapons." Athelas is rare and precious, and not everyone knows or hows the power to use staunching songs, so one may use humbler herbs and materials.

3b. Treating bruises and breaks

Again, use common sense: bathe the area with an infusion to reduce pain and swelling, then cover bruises with padding to protect and cushion the area, especially if the patient must wear mail or otherwise put pressure on the affected spot. (again, Aragorn uses athelas to treat Frodo's severe bruises from the spear that nearly skewered him). I have heard that snow or cold water will reduce swelling, though it tends to tighten joints; heat tends to increase swelling but makes tense areas relax. Breaks may be stabilized by a splint to keep the bones from moving, but be very careful to set the bones correctly first.

4. Post-treatment

Even Elven healing does not make a patient well at once! Plenty of rest, food, and follow-up treatment may be necessary. Change bandages, keep the patient warm with blankets and fire, reapply herbs as needed. For spiritual maladies, one may have to continue treatment using spiritual exertions for an extended period. Aragorn worked on the victims of the Black Breath for some while, Elrond treated Frodo's Morgul-knife wound for several days, and Lúthien struggled to recall Beren's spirit all night long. Warning! Aragorn became pale and weary while trying to restore Faramir. It seems that exerting the power of one's fëa drains the healer. Not all will have the reserves for a sustained effort. This is of particular concern on the battlefield when there are multiple patients to worry about, or on journeys where new threats may strike before a healer has recovered.

For the most complete example of Elven treatment of a wound see Lúthien's healing of
Beren in the Lay of Leithian HERE

Part III: healing aids

I have already cited examples above in which songs, spoken spells, and touch aid in the healing process. 
I do not think that songs and speech are magical by themselves, 
or anyone would be able to use them. Rather, I believe that with training, 
they help an Elven healer tap into his or her inner healing powers and apply them. 
In other words, they do not work without power behind them. 
This would also explain why healing herbs like kingsfoil are considered "weeds" 
by Men, yet may bring "life to the dying / in the king's hand lying": 
Aragorn's power, inherited through his descent from Elros the brother of Elrond, 
gives him some innate qualities mimicking those of Elves. 
I am not certain whether the exact wording of songs and chants matters 
or whether the intent behind them is more important.

Elven lore, some of which has been preserved in Gondor among the Dúnedain, 
also employs certain herbs and magical objects which may aid in healing.


Called the "chief" of healing herbs, athelas seems to be amazingly versatile. It is particularly effective against the Black Breath, although this may be tied to Aragorn's family bloodline: whether any others could use athelas against this malady I am not sure. Aragorn also uses it in an infusion to reduce swelling and pain in bruises, and to cleanse and speed the healing of cuts. Significantly, he instructs others in the Fellowship to make and use the infusion, so athelas is effective against ordinary injuries regardless of who is using it. The scent of athelas cast in boiling water also refreshes the spirits and restores the strength of those who inhale it.


Miruvor, the "cordial of Imladris", is something that Elrond occasionally gives others as an emergency aid. He gave a flask to Gandalf which contained enough for three uses among all the members of the Fellowship (save perhaps Legolas, who did not need it). I do not know what miruvor is or how it is made, I know only that it is "very precious", as Gandalf stated, and that like the scent of athelas it renews hopes and strength, and rouses one from sleepiness. In other words athelas and miruvor refresh both fëa (spirit) and hröa (body). Frodo describes it as a "warm and fragrant liquor". Elves excel in the art of making wonderful things like jewels that capture and give off light; in this case, it seems, they have found a way to capture and mimic the restorative properties of athelas, and I wonder whether that may be an ingredient. At any rate, as precious as miruvor is, it is probably fairly rare, something that Elrond would give to the chief healers of the valley in a limited and carefully-rationed supply.


Lembas, similarly, is a magical food (instead of drink, in this case) created by Elven arts. Like miruvor, its recipe is not widely-known, its power is great, and it is clearly not for casual use. It can sustain travellers on long journeys and, apparently, speeds the body's healing process. The secret of its keeping is maintained by certain Elven-women trained in the arts of Yavanna, and only the queen or highest Elven lady in a settlement has the authority to bestow it on others. It is almost never given to mortals, because eating it for too long causes them to "weary of their mortality, desiring to abide among the Elves" or to sail to the Undying Lands. (Of Lembas)


The goal of the Elven-rings is to heal and preserve: in this case, not people or animals, but places. Nenya's power has a preservative effect on Lórien, whose air is wholesome and feels like a pristine bubble of Elder Days. In Imladris, visitors observe that "time doesn't seem to pass here, it just is" (Bilbo, Red Book of Westmarch). The Rings do not stop time or decay, for the seasons still come and go, leaves still fall, and time still passes, but they mute these effects, sometimes in startling ways. The Fellowship are surprised to find a month has passed when they exit Lórien. Instead of places, Gandalf uses his ring Narya to restore spirits and rekindle hopes. From this we may gather that the Rings can effect some healing, by restoring the fëa; however, their cumulative effects are a mixed blessing, as Bilbo and Gollum discovered. (Rings do not seem to have the same life-prologing effects on all beings; the Dwarves who received them did not become wraiths).


The Phial of Galadriel, light captured in water and bottled, not only drives off Shelob and combats evil magic, but seems to react to and inspire the spirits of the humble Hobbits who use it. This light is from Eärendil's star, which in turn was one of the three greatest Elf-gems that captured the holy Light of the Trees of Valinor. In effect this light is a faint glimmer of the renewing, healing properties of the Blessed Lands.

The Elessar, the Elfstone, is even more explictly a gem with healing properties: it is said that those who looked through it "saw things that were withered or burned healed again or as they were in the grace of their youth, and that the hands of one who held it brought to all that they touched healing from hurt." Idril Celebrindal employed the original Elessar from Gondolin to heal the hurts of the survivors of Gondolin. In later years, Galadriel recovered the Elessar-- or had a new one made; there are variant tales-- and used it as she later used Nenya, to preserve and renew the trees and plants of her realm. She gave the Elessar to her daughter after acquiring Nenya, because the Elven-ring was more powerful. The Elessar is now held by Aragorn, a gift from Arwen.

The Elessar, Elven-rings, and Phial of Galadriel have been made by the greatest Noldor, and certainly no other artisans possess the power and craft of Celebrimbor, Enerdhil, and Galadriel. However, the Gwaith-i-Mirdain, the Fellowship of Jewel-smiths under Celebrimbor in Eregion, made jewels and rings as well. A remnant of those folk still survive in Imladris. Lesser gems or rings may therefore turn up from time to time.

Healing waters

Lúthien, whose mother was a Maia, is supposed to have had tears with healing properties, which she uses to soothe Beren's hurts. According to one legend her tears created a fountain with healing properties in Gondolin. In later days the waters of Nimrodel in Lórien are "healing to the weary", and Frodo finds he is no longer tired from travel after stepping into the stream.

Other herbs

Ordinary herbs don't make exciting stories, and none besides athelas are ever mentioned. However, one can of course employ more common medicinal herbs such as bistort. The Elves of Govannas in-Glirdain have invented some uses for elanor and niphredil.

Epilogue: Failure to heal

These aids may help restore body and spirit, and speed healing. 
Elven healing at its most powerful can do the same, 
and more conventional healing lore and techniques can be employed 
to combat both physical and spiritual maladies. 
Through experience and training, healers can learn how to vary treatment to suit different injuries. 
Aragorn's different uses of athelas, and even the way he changes treatment for individual patients suffering from the Black Breath, show how skill and experience can play as great a role as lore and inner power.

However, when all is said and done, one cannot restore lost limbs or heal all maladies. 
Aragorn feared that Éowyn would not recover because he could only heal her body, not her spirit. 
And Elrond, acclaimed as a "master of healing"
 whose power and skill are greater than both Aragorn's and Glorfindel's, famously failed to heal one patient: his wife. "Though healed in body by Elrond, [she] lost all delight in Middle-earth, 
and the next year went to the Havens and passed over the Sea." 
(Appendix A, Red Book of Westmarch). 
She had suffered bodily torture at the hands of the orcs. 
A heart's wound, for Elves, is the injury for which there is no healing, save in the Blessed Lands. 
Bid them abide among loved ones in a haven like the Last Homely House for a season, a year, 
and encourage them to take up their former vocations and habits-
- but if that fails, one has no choice but send them across the Sea.


The above information is via a wonderful site about Tolkien by a keen hobbyist E.B.
Thank you for sharing :0)

love, peace and light

Elf Charms in Context

In tenth- and eleventh-century England, 

Anglo-Saxon Christians retained an old folk belief in elves 

as extremely dangerous creatures capable of harming unwary humans. 

To ward off the afflictions caused by these invisible beings, 

Christian priests modified traditional elf charms by adding liturgical chants to herbal remedies. 

Religion in Late Saxon England: Elf Charms in Context (1996).

Lay of the Nine Herbs and Lay of the Nine Twigs of Woden

Be mindful, Mugwort,  what you revealed,
What you established  at the great proclamation
Una you are called,  oldest of herbs,
you are strong against three  and against thirty,
you are strong against poison  and against onfliers [flying venoms]
you are strong against the foe  who goes through the land.
And you, Waybroad [Plantain], mother of herbs,
open from the east,  mighty within.
Over you chariots creaked,  over you queens rode,
over you brides cried out,  over you bulls snorted.
All this you withstood,  and confounded.
So you withstand  poison and flying venom,
and the foe  who goes through the land.
Stune this herb is called,  she grew on a stone,
she stands against poison,  she attacks pain.
Stithe [hard] she is called,  she confounds poison,
she drives out evils,  she casts out poison.
This is the herb  that fought against the worm,
this is strong against poison,  she is strong against flying venoms,
she is strong against the foe  who goes through the land.
 Rout you now, Attorlathe [Venomloather],  the less the more,
the more the less  until there be a remedy for him against both.
Remember you, Maythe [Camomile],  what you revealed,
what you accomplished  at Alorford,
that never for flying venom  did he yield life
since for him a man prepared  Maythe for food.
This is the herb  that is called Wergule.
This a seal sent  over the sea ridges,
as a remedy  against the harm of another poison.
[Two herbs, chervil and fennel, are missing]
[Lay of the Nine Twigs of Woden]

These nine go  against nine poisons.
A worm came crawling,  he wounded nothing.
Then Woden took  nine glory-twigs [wuldor tanas]
smote then the adder  that it flew apart into nine (parts).
There apple and poison  brought it about
that she never would  dwell in the house.
Chervil and Fennel,  very mighty two,
these herbs he created,  the wise Lord
holy in heaven  when He hung;
He established and sent them  into the seven worlds,
to the poor and the rich,  for all a remedy.
She stands against pain,  she assaults poison,
who has power against three  and against thirty,
against enemy's hand  and against great terror
against the bewitching  of little/vile wights.
Now these nine herbs have power  against nine evil spirits 
[wuldorgeflogenum, "fugitives from glory"],
against nine poisons  and against nine flying venoms:
Against the red poison,  against the foul poison,
against the white poison,  against the purple poison,
against the yellow poison,  against the green poison,
against the dark poison,  against the blue poison,
against the brown poison,  against the crimson poison.
 Against worm-blister,  against water-blister,
against thorn-blister,  against thistle-blister,
against ice-blister,  against poison-blister.
If any poison  flying from the east,
or any from the north  . . . come
or any from the west  over humanity.
Christ stood over the old ones,  the malignant ones [?].
I alone know  running streams
and the nine adders  now they behold [?].
All weeds must now  give way to herbs
the seas slip apart,  all salt water,
when I this poison  blow from you.

[The Preparation]

Mugwort, waybroad open from the east, lamb's cress, attorlathe, maythe, nettle, crab-apple, chervil and fennel, old soap; work the herbs into dust, mix them with the soap and the apple juice. Work then a paste of water and of ashes; take fennel, boil it in the paste and beat with the [herbal] mixture when he applies the salve both before and after.
Sing the charm [galdor] on each of the herbs three times before he prepares them, and on the apple likewise. And let someone sing into the mouth of the man and into both his ears, and on the wound, that same charm [gealdor] before he applies the salve.

Lacnunga XXIX 

This is the holy drink against elf-influence [aelfsidene] and against all the fiend's temptings.
Write on a housel dish:

"In principio erat uerbum" usque "non comprehenderunt" et plura:
"et circumibat Jesus totam Galileam docens" usque "et secuti sunt eum turbae multae."
 "Deus in nomine tuo" usque in finem. "Deus misereatur nobis" usque in finem.
"Domine deus in adiutorium" usque in finem.

["In the beginning was the word" up to "they did not comprehend" and again:
"Jesus went round all Galilee teaching" up to "and a great crowd followed after him."
"God in your name" up to the end. "God have mercy on us" up to the end.
"Lord God to our aid" up to the end.]

Take cristalan and tansy and zedoary and hassock and fennel,
and take a sester [pitcher?] full of sanctified wine.

And order an immaculate [unmaelne, "spotless"] person to fetch
silently against the stream half a sester of running water.

Take then and lay all the herbs in the water,
and therein wash the writing from the housel dish very cleanly.
Pour then the hallowed wine over the other.

Bear it then to church; have Masses sung over [it],
one Omnibus, another Contra tribulationem, a third Sanctam marian.

Sing these supplicatory psalms:
Miserere mei Deus, Deus in nomine tuo, Deus misereatur nobis,
Domine deus, Inclina domine. And the Creed, and Gloria in excelsis deo,
and the litanies, Pater noster.

And bless earnestly in the Almighty Lord's name, and say
In nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti sit benedictum.
[In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, be it blessed].

Use it then.

Field Remedy

Here is the remedy, how you may better your land, if it will not grow well or if some harmful thing has been done to it by a sorcerer [dry] or by a poisoner [lyblace].

Take then at night, before dawn, four sods from four sides of the land, and mark where they were before.

Then take oil and honey and yeast, and milk of each animal that is on the land, and a piece of each type of tree that grows on the land, except hard beams, and a piece of each herb known by name, except burdock [glappan] only, and put then holy water thereon, and drip it three times on the base of the sods, and say then these words:

Crescite, grow, et multiplicamini, and multiply, et replete, and fill, terre, the earth. In nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti sit benedicti. [In the name of the father and the son and the holy spirit be blessed.] And the Pater noster [Our Father] as often as the other.

And then bear the sods into church, and let a masspriest sing four masses over the sods, and let someone turn the green [sides] to the altar, and after that let someone bring the sods to where they were before, before the sun sets.

And have made for them four signs of Christ [crosses] of quickbeam and write on each end: Matthew and Mark, Luke, and John. Lay that sign of Christ in the bottom of the pit [where each sod had been cut out], saying then: crux Matheus, crux Marcus, crux Lucas, crux sanctus Iohannes.

Take then the sods and set them down there on [the crosses], and say then nine times these words, Crescite [grow], and as often the Pater noster, and turn then to the east, and bow nine times humbly, and speak then these words:

Eastwards I stand,  for mercies I pray,
I pray the great domine [lord], I pray the powerful lord,
I pray the holy guardian of heaven-kingdom,
earth I pray and sky
and the true  sancta [holy] Mary
and heaven's might  and high hall,
that I may this charm [galdor] by the gift of the lord
open with [my] teeth  through firm thought,
to call forth these plants  for our worldly use,
to fill this land  with firm belief,
to beautify this grassy turf,  as the wiseman said
that he would have riches on earth who alms
gave with justice  by the grace of the lord.
Then turn thrice with the sun's course, stretch then out lengthwise and enumerate there the litanies and say then: Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus to the end. Sing then Benedicite with outstretched arms and Magnificat and Pater noster thrice, and commend it [the land] to Christ and saint Mary and the holy cross for praise and for worship and for the benefit of the one who owns that land and all those who are serving under him.4 When all that is done, then let a man take unknown seed from beggars and give them twice as much as he took from them, and let him gather all his plough tools together; then let him bore a hole in the beam [of the plough, putting in] incense and fennel and hallowed soap and hallowed salt. Take then that seed, set it on the plough's body, say then:

Erce, Erce, Erce,  earth's mother,
May the all-ruler grant you, the eternal lord,
fields growing  and flourishing,
propagating  and strengthening,
tall shafts,  bright crops,
and broad  barley crops,
and white  wheat crops,
and all  earth's crops.
May the eternal lord  grant him,
and his holy ones,  who are in heaven,
that his produce be guarded  against any enemies whatsoever,
and that it be safe  against any harm at all,
from poisons [lyblaca]  sown around the land.
Now I bid the Master,  who shaped this world,
that there be no speaking-woman [cwidol wif]  nor artful man 
[craeftig man]
that can overturn  these words thus spoken.
Then let a man drive forth the plough and the first furrow cuts, say then:

Whole may you be [Be well] earth,  mother of men!
May you be growing  in God's embrace,
with food filled  for the needs of men.
Take then each kind of flour and have someone bake a loaf [the size of] a hand's palm and knead it with milk and with holy water and lay it under the first furrow. Say then:

Field full of food  for mankind,
bright-blooming,  you are blessed
in the holy name  of the one who shaped heaven
and the earth  on which we live;
the God, the one who made the ground,  grant us the gift of growing,
that for us each grain  might come to use.
Say then thrice Crescite in nomine patris, sit benedicti [Grow in the name of the father, be blessed]. Amen and Pater noster three times.

Elf charm protection lore:

Against elf disease [aelfadle]
Take bishopwort, fennel, lupin, the lower part of aelfthone,
and lichen from the holy sign of Christ [cross], and incense; a handful of each.
Bind all the herbs in a cloth, dip in sanctified font water thrice.
Let three masses be sung over it, one "Omnibus sanctis," a second "Contra tribulationem,"
a third "Pro infirmis." Put then coals in a coal pan, and lay the herbs on it.
Smoke the man with the herbs before undern [9 a.m.] and at night;
and sing a litany, the Creed, and the Pater noster; and write on him Christ's mark on each limb.
And take a little handful of the same kind of herbs, similarly sanctified,
and boil in milk; drip holy water in it thrice.
And let him sip it before his meal. It will soon be well with him.

For the same [aelfadle]. 
Go on Thursday evening when the sun is setting to where you know helenium [elenan] stands.
Sing then the Benedicite, the Pater noster, and a litany.
And stick your knife into the plant; leave it sticking therein and go away.
Go again, when day and night first divide [dawn];
at that same dawn, go first to church, and cross yourself and offer yourself to God.
Go then silently; and though you meet on the way some fearful thing coming or a man,
you should not speak to him any word, until you come to the plant that you marked on the evening before. Sing then the Benedicite, and the Pater noster and a litany.
Dig up the plant; leave the knife sticking in it.
Go again as quick as you can to church, and lay it under the altar with the knife.
Let it lie until the sun is up.
Wash it then; make it into a drink: with bishopwort and lichen from Christ's sign,
boil thrice in [different kinds of] milk; and pour holy water thrice on it.
And sing on it the Pater noster, and the Creed and the Gloria in excelsis deo; and sing on it a litany.
And also write a cross around it with a sword on [each of] four halves.
And then let [the patient] drink the drink. It will soon be well with him.

Again for that. Lay under the altar these herbs, let nine masses be sung over them:
incense, holy salt, three heads of cropleek, aelfthone's lower part, and helenium.
Take in the morning a cup full of milk; drip thrice some holy water in it.
Let him sip it as hot as he can. Eat with it three bits of aelfthone.
When he wants to rest, have coals there inside.
Lay incense and aelfthone on the coals, and smoke him with that until he sweats;
and smoke the house throughout; and eagerly sign the man.
And when he goes to rest, let him eat three bits of helenium, and three of cropleek, and three of salt.
And let him have a cup full of ale and drip thrice holy water in it.
Let him eat each bit; then let him rest.
Do this for nine mornings and nine nights.
It will soon be well with him.

If he has elf-heartburn [aelfsogotha, lit., "elf-juices"], 
his eyes are yellow where they should be red.
If you want to cure this person, consider his bearing, and know of which sex he is.
If it is a male [waepned man], and he looks up when you first see him,
and his appearance is yellow black, then that man you may cure completely,
 if he has not been therein too long.
If it is a woman [wif] and she looks down when you first see her,
and her appearance is dark red, this you might also cure.
If it is on him a day's space longer than twelve months, and his visage be such,
then you might better him for awhile, but may not however completely cure him.

If a man is in the water elf disease [waeter aelfadle]
then the nails of his hand are dark and the eyes teary, and he will look down.
Give him this as medicine [laecedome]:
everthroat, hassock, the lower part of fane, yewberry, lupin, helenium,
marshmallow head, fen mint, dill, lily, attorlathe, pulegium, marrubium,
dock, elder, fel terre, wormwood, strawberry leaves, consolde.
Soak with ale; add holy water to it. Sing this gealdor over it thrice:

I have bound on the wounds the best of war bandages,
so the wounds neither burn nor burst, nor go further, nor spread, nor jump,
nor the wounds increase [waco sian?], nor sores deepen.
But may he himself keep in a healthy way [halewaege?].
May it not ache you more than it aches earth in ear [eare?].

Sing this many times,
"May earth bear on you with all her might and main."
These galdor a man may sing over a wound.

A drink against the Devil's temptations: 
the fanthorn, cropleek, lupin, ontre, bishopwort, fennel, hassock, betony.
Sanctify these herbs; put into ale holy water.
And let the drink be there in where the sick man is.
And continually before he drinks sing thrice over the drink,
"Deus! In nomine tuo saluum me fac."
[God, in your name make me whole (save me).]

The above Anglo-Saxon "charms" were translated by Karen Louise Jolly in her book, Popular Religion in Late Saxon England: Elf Charms in Context (1996).

Hope you enjoyed that interesting piece of lore :0)
Thank you for visiting,

love, peace and light

The Seelie Court

The Faery Lineage and Irish Mythology

Some versions of Irish mythology have the Daoine Sidhe eventually divide into two groups:
the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court.
Though this separation is more commonly seen in Scottish mythology,
Ireland also adopted this division.
The Seelie Court was considered to be the blessed or holy court.
They were often said to be the ‘good’ faeries, but Irish mythology is rarely that clear cut.

Characteristics of the Seelie Court

Sometimes called the ‘Blessed Ones,’
the Seelie were often depicted as a procession of brilliant light riding on the night air.
The Seelie Court, as a group, would often use these excursions to find those in need of help.
However, their form of help was sometimes closer to mischief.
The Seelie Court were considered the true aristocrats of the Daoine Sidhe.
They were judges, dispensing justice to the other faery when it was required,
and served as frequent arbitrators of the many faery quarrels.
The Seelie Court was very political, complete with cliques, factions, gossiping, and rivalry.
Those of the Seelie Court tended towards harmony and happiness.
It was their way to help humans, and to seek help from them in return.
They always gave full warning when someone offended them, and when a human did them a kindness,
 they made every effort to return this favor.
The Seelie were more inclined to towards good than evil.
If give the choice between the two, there was never any doubt that they would choose good.
They worked together in constructive ways for the benefit of all.
None of this means that they were entirely benign.
Any of the faery, including the Seelie,
would seek vengeance for an insult, if an insult were perceived.
Though not malicious, they would defend themselves against any threat,
and even go to war if need be.
The Seelie were also prone to a great deal of mischief,
especially when bored.
However, their pranks rarely caused true harm,
for the Seelie were really very fond of humans.

The Code of the Seelie Court

Like many human courts, the Seelie Court had its own code of conduct,
a code which all of the Seelie had to abide by. This code was:
Death Before Dishonor:
A member of the Seelie Court would protect his or her honor to the death.
Honor was the single source of glory for the Seelie, the only way to attain recognition.
A true Seelie would rather have died than live with personal dishonor,
and would never bring dishonor to another of the Seelie.

Love Conquers All:
For the Seelie, love was the perfect expression of the soul.
It transcended all other things.
Though romantic love was considered to be the highest and purest form of love,
platonic love was also encouraged.

Beauty is Life:
Beauty was one of the first tenants of the Seelie Court.
To belong, a faery had to be beautiful, and all beauty was to be protected.
The Seelie were known to go to war to protect beauty,
whether it was a beautiful person, place, or thing.

Never Forget a Debt:
This tenant worked in two ways.
The Seelie were bound by their code of honor to repay any debt owed as soon as was possible.
This included both favors and insults.
The Seelie would repay a favor in a timely fashion.
At the same time, they would exact vengeance almost immediately.
The Seelie Court was said to be a beautiful and benevolent place.
It is no wonder that the people of Ireland and Scotland often appealed to the Seelie for help and advice.
In time, however, the people turned away from the Daoine Sidhe and its Courts,
seeking newer incarnations of the Faery Lineage, such as the Heroic Faery.

The Seelie and Unseelie Courts of the Daoine Sidhe

In some versions of Irish mythology, the Daoine Sidhe eventually divided themselves into the Seelie and Unseelie Courts.
The Seelie (seleighe in old Irish) Court was considered to be blessed or holy,
containing those of the Sidhe who were benevolent and generally considered harmless.
This was not to say that they would not seek vengeance,
but if given the choice between harming and helping, the Seelie would choose to help.

The members of the Seelie Court were said to be fun-loving and mischievous.
They loved their games and pranks, but would never take a joke too far.
They were known to be kind and generous,
and were seen as the champions of the people of Ireland.

The Unseelie Court was just the opposite.
They were malicious and tended to be inclined towards evil.
They were said to assault travelers at night,
often carrying them off into their own world for various purposes.
As the Seelie were not always entirely kind,
the Unseelie were not always entirely evil.
However, if faced with the choice, they would rather cause harm than offer assistance.
The Daoine Sidhe were the last of the Tuatha De Danann
to resemble the gods and goddesses of ancient Ireland.
Though they generally chose to take human form,
they could also appear as much larger or much smaller than the average person.

In time, the Daoine Sidhe would dwindle further away from their origins, eventually becoming the Heroic Faery of the Faery Lineage.

Ellis, Peter Berresford. (2002). Celtic Myths and Legends. Running Press.
Ellis, Peter Berresford. (1992). A Dictionary of Irish Mythology (Oxford Paper Reference Series). Oxford University Press.
Gantz, Jeffrey. (1982). Early Irish Myths and Sagas. Penguin Classics
Heaney, Marie. (1995). Over Nine Waves: A Book of Irish Legends. Faber & Faber.
Lady Gregory. (1988). Treasury of Irish Myths, Legend & Folklore: Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry. Gramercy.

Ref: http://www.setop.net/history-2/the-faery-lineage-and-irish-mythology-%E2%80%94-the-daoine-sidhe.html

love, peace and light

The Faery Lineage

The Mythology of Ancient Ireland 

The Faery Lineage of Ancient Times

Up to the Middle Ages of Western Europe,
the development of the Faery was almost completely confined to the land of Ireland and its people.
There was a great focus on heroism, magick, and romance.
The Tuatha De Danann are the source of the entire Lineage.
They were the gods of the people of Ireland,
and are considered to be the most superior and pure form of the Faery.
They were at their most powerful during the Mythological Cycle.
This group eventually branched into two very distinct groups:
the Fenian Heroes and the Daoine Sidhe.
The Fenian Heroes were among the most notable heroes in all of Ireland, existing during the Fenian Cycle. Many of them were descendants of the Tuatha De Danann, and some of them were the De Danann themselves.
Many of the Fay served as a part of the fiana,
and the Fenian Heroes were not considered to be all that far removed from mortal man.
The Daoine Sidhe existed in about the same time period as the Fenian Heroes.
However, these were the Tuatha De Danann who truly did remain removed from humanity,
who preserved the purest form of Faery magick,
and who were still worshipped as the gods of the Irish pantheon.
Eventually, however, even the Daoine Sidhe had to change and adapt.

The Heroic Faery was born out of the Daoine Sidhe.
These were the ladies and knights of classic medieval romances,
the heroes of the great tales of the era, and were very much like the Fenian Heroes.
In fact, it could be said that the only difference between the Fenian Heroes
and the Heroic Faery is the time period in which they existed in mythology.
Meanwhile, the Fenian Heroes had become the Medieval Faery.
These characters were practiced in magick and sorcery.
It is here when the first outside influences begin to creep into Irish mythology.
No longer are the Faery the powerful and frightening Tuatha De Danann.
They are no longer gods. Instead, they begin to grow smaller in size,
and with the coming of Christianity, they are sometimes assumed to be evil.
The Heroic Faery makes one last appearance,
merging with the Medieval Faery and becoming the Diminutive Fairy.

Fairies in the Middle Ages and Beyond

With the birth of the Middle Ages, the traditional image of the modern fairy was born.

The Diminutive Fairy
- became connected to death and the departed.
Sometime in the 16th century, the idea of the literary fairy is introduced.
These fairies are nasty little things, demanding their privacy and pinching those who dare to invade it.

The Elizabethan Age 
-brings about another change in the fairy.
Instead of a nasty little thing intent on its privacy,
the Elizabethan Fairy is mischievous and bothersome,
but not particularly evil. These fairies tend to irritate more than harm.

In the 17th century, the Jacobean Fairy makes an appearance.
They are so small that they are difficult to see with the naked eye.
These little guys have gossamer wings and,
purely due to Puritan influences, are regarded as demons or devils.

The 18th century saw a reversal of this idea.
The fairies of this era were flowery little fertility spirits.
These little Flower Fairies were said to flit and fly in the most beautiful gardens,
entertaining children and delighting anyone who chanced to see them.
This version of the fairy is still very much a part of modern folk tales.

The 19th century saw the development of the Folk Tale Fairy.
These characters were written into stories created for children,
and generally featured characters such as the classic fairy godmother.
These creatures were relentless moralists.
Like the Flower Fairy, the Folk Tale Fairy has persisted into the modern era.

With the coming of the 20th century, the Age of Faery seemed to have truly come to an end.
The gods of Ireland had become no more than fairy tales,
and most had forgotten they were ever anything more.
However, this same century brought about a renewed interest in ancient religions and beliefs,
and today, there are those who have resurrected the ancient Faery Faith in a more modern incarnation,
with the inclusion of the Elemental Faery.

Ellis, Peter Berresford, Celtic Myths and Legends. (Running Press, 2002)
Ellis, Peter Berresford, A Dictionary of Irish Mythology (Oxford Paper Reference Series) (Oxford University Press, 1992)
Gantz, Jeffrey, Early Irish Myths and Sagas. (Penguin Classics, 1982)
Heaney, Marie, Over Nine Waves: A Book of Irish Legends. (Faber & Faber, 1995)
Lady Gregory, Treasury of Irish Myths, Legend & Folklore: Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry. (Gramercy, 1988)


Tuatha De Danann (thanann)~ The people of the Goddess Dana, or the people of the god whose mother was Dana. The Celts call them the Sidhe, Spirit-race, or the Feadh-Ree, a modifacation of the word Peri.

Fenian Heroes~ The noble warriors of the Tuatha De Danann, who joined allegiance with the fiana (feen-a), the great fighting force of Ireland, and whowere at their greatest when Finn mac Cumaill was their last and greatest leader.

Heroic Faery~ The knights and ladies of the medieval romances, and those that occur in Celtic legendss were of human or more than human size and of "shining beauty". They spent their time in aristocratic pursuits of hunting, fighting, riding in procession, as well as dancing and music which were beloved by all the Sidhe. A glimpse of the Fenian Hero is seen in the Heroic Faery, although of a more relaxed and gluttonous stance than of battle-worn.

Medieval Fairy~ Out of Arthurian times the Medieval Fairy was born, moving away from Ireland and into England, andd with them taleswoven with magick and sorcery, wizards and witches, Morgan Le fay and Avalon. The size of the fairy became variable, and there were both tiny a rustic fairy as well as hideous and monsterous ones.Often, they were depicted as beautiful fair maidens with long, flowing red hair and white skin, such as those portrayed in paintings by J. Waterhouse.

Diminutive Fairy~ The Diminutive Fairies took part in life and became the traditional, and very first, little fairy. With it's birth, a list of euphemistic names became inevitable( Goblins, Brownies, Bogies, Trolls). These invisible and alert little things were always mentioned with a honeyed tounge. The wily, not knowing where they may be lurking, were careful to call them the Good Neighbours, the honest folk, the little folk, the Gentry, the hill folk, the forgetful people, teh people of peace, ect., to pervent the "dint of their ill attempts and bless all they fear harm of".

Elizabethan Fairy~ The romance and feirce warrior attitude of the Daoine Sidhe was gone. The fairy became mischievous and at times bothersome. And so, the poets and dramatists of the Elizabethan Age brought a different strand of fairy tradition into prominence. The yeoman class of the sixteenth centery brought a spread of literacy and new class writers. From the country, drawn up to town, such as Shakespear, these new writers came forth bringing with them their own country traditions. Nymphs became the new source of focus and two main types of fairy were introduced: hobgoblins, with which we may call Brownie; and the small flower-loving fairies such as in A Mid Summers Night's Dream.

Jacobean Fairy~ The Jacobean fairy continued to extend the fashions in the fairy lore set in Elizabethan literature, with an added emphasis on the minuteness of the small fairies, so that at one time people found it difficult to think of fairies without thinking of smallness. The hobgoblin type was exactly the same in both periods, except now the extreme Puritans regarded all fairies as devils.

Flower Fairy~ These are gental spirits of the earth. Earth, lake, and hill are peopled by these fantastic, beautiful, willful, capricious child-spirits. These fairies passionatetly love beauty and luxury and hold in contempt all mean virtues of thrift and aconomy. Above all things they hate the tight fisthand that gathers the last grain, drains the last drop in the milk-pail, and plucks the trees bare of fruit, leaveing nothing for the spirits who wander by the moonlight.

Folk-Tale Fairy~ The Golden Age of Faery has ended, and all that is left are folk fairys turned into airy, tenuous, pretty creatures without meat, or muscle, made up of froth and whims. The eighteenth centery is the first period in which books are written expressly for the edification of children. The trend persists into the nineteenth century, and it is not until a quarter of it has passed that the reasearch og the folklorists begin to have some effect on children's literature.

Elemental Fairy~ In positive doctrines of mediaveal alchemists and mystics, the ancient metaphysical ideas of Egypt, greece, and Rome found a new expression; the folk lore of the peasantry and the subject of the fairies is turned into study of beings of nature. They are quite scientific in their methods of study, and divide all invisible beings in four distinct classes:

Angels: who in character and function are paralled to the gods of the ancients, and equal to the Tuatha De Danann of the Irish, are teh highest.

Devils or Demons: who correspond to the fallen angels of Christianity.

Elementals, sub-human Nature-Spirits: who are generally regarded as having pygmy staure, like Greek daemons.
Souls: who are the shades or ghosts of the dead.

Devas~ Now we come to the final evoluted form of the fairy, that of the "shining ones," who are known to be the soul of the plant kingdom. The spirit of the plnat as it comes alive and takes new form allies itself with human beings and gives to them the secrets of the plant (i.e. medical properties, spiritual properties, nutritional properties, magickal properties, toxic properties, ect.) These are fairies without shape. They are simply a golden glowing, effervescent cloud of energy rising from the plant; a tingeling energy that pin-pricks our skin when we enter thier feild. The Deva does not move from the plant, but remains closely attached. Theya re the life-side of Nature, an expression of the Divine energy ~ the Will ~ channeled in manifested Nature.


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