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Les plantes dans les charmes amoureux roumains (Abstract)

Sanda Golopentia, Brown University

[Published in Micheline Lebarbier et Ioana Andreescu, eds. Plantes et tradition orale, special issue, No. 53-54, Cahiers de Littérature Orale, Paris: Publications Langues'O, 2003, p. 197-232]

The author defines Romanian love charms as magical scenarios consisting in formulas and (descriptions of) procedures. She draws a distinction between plants on the basis of whether they are mentioned: (a) in both the formulas and procedures, e.g., basil, wheat, pear-tree, mandragora; (b) only in the formulas, as metaphors for beauty and honor — e.g., apple-tree in blossom, peonies, wild roses — and metaphors for hate, e.g., prickly plants like nettle, or garlic; (c) only in magical procedures, e.g., hemp.

The magical typology of plants seems to closely correspond with the pragmatic typology of love charms. We thus have: (d) positive plants in positive charms for beauty, love or the suppression of hatred; (e) ambiguous plants in ambiguous charms intended to hasten destiny, bring the fated spouse, ensure the mutual submission of the spouses, or limit desire within the couple; (f) negative plants in negative charms intended to cast "hate" upon a rival. Finally, there are (g) "rhetorical" plants (whose names rime with the psychological states aimed at in the charm) and phenomena of "magical agreement" between the plants mentioned in the formulas and those that trigger the procedures.