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Inventory Summary for: Magic Acts (Gesture)

A complete charm scenario consists of one or several versified formula(s) and/or one or more technical indication(s) concerning the gestures to be accomplished while reciting the first. When the gestural indications are missing, one can at times find implicit or explicit information about them in the formulas. In what follows, we concentrate on some of the basic gestures used (a) to learn about one's future marriage; (b) to ensure the successful accomplishment of the charm scenario by respecting certain interdictions and procuring the necessary plants, objects, and substances; (c) to get the needed help from a number of important magic auxiliaries; (d) to perform specific love charms, such as those for beauty, honor and love; for seeing one's fated spouse; for undoing negative charms, for weakening/suppressing a rival etc.

Preparatory:

put cake in the middle of the house or on the threshold: 1 (tech)

Preparatory acts involve specific abstentions as well as reaching a specific location at a specific time, gathering the necessary plants, objects and substances, or preparing the cakes (rolls etc.) that will be needed for divinatory purposes or for charming.

Go to a specific place:

I ran to the church: 1 (verse)
set out by the way, by the trail: 1 (verse)
walk in front of all: 1 (verse)

Certain divinatory practices and charms require the practitioner to go to the the stable, the pigsty, the fence, the road or the forest by night; to the river or the well in the morning etc. One goes to a specific place to meet with people (animals) that will “give answers” to questions concerning one’s fated spouse/marriage or to fetch objects, substances and plants that are prerequisites of the charm one intends to perform.

Gather plants, objects, substances:

gathered the love: 1 (verse)

Gathering plants often supposes a severe ritual in which the timing, setting and appropriate behavior are strictly defined. While most of the objects and substances one uses to charm are easy to obtain, procuring what we called “exotic” substances (objects)—such as tar from the mill, rust from the rettery, a “wedded knife” (that is, a knife that was worn by the bridegroom at his wedding) etc.—is often most challenging.

Fetch water:

from the well, ice-hole etc., bring it in one's mouth: 1 (tech)

Water is the most important substance in all charms for beauty and love as well as in countercharms. The charmer has to fetch it before sunrise, without being seen and without talking to anybody. The last condition is ensured by the stipulation that the charmer carry the water in her mouth on her way home.

Bake:

grind corn, bake a small cake at the door of the oven: 1 (tech)

In divinatory charms, the charmer often bakes a small cake (using the water she secretly fetched at sunrise), puts it on the door sill and offers it to a dog or cat. If they eat the cake, the charmer will marry during the year.

Cross oneself and kneel:

facing sunrise: 1 (tech)
I crossed myself before the icons: 1 (verse)

While pronouncing the formulas containing invocations (to Lord Sun, Lady Moon etc.), the charmer often crosses herself and kneels. Borrowing from religious gestures often occurs in love and beauty charming as well as in countercharming (meant to regain lost love or beauty).

Acts to obtain beauty and love:

[no qualifier]: 2 (verse)

The most common gestures involved in charming for beauty and love are preparing “water for love” (by stirring water and honey/sugar with a basil twig or a peacock feather while saying charm formulas); rubbing or sprinkling one’s face and body with it; climbing on a fence (which is the magic equivalent of mounting a horse) and clapping one’s hands in order to be noticed by everybody; mark on one’s garments the symbols of the sun, the moon or the stars in order to be admired by all.

Climb on the fence/Mount a horse:

children climbed on the fences: 1 (verse)

    

Mark:

the sun, the moon, two morning/evening stars: 2 (verse)

One can mark (by embroidering) symbols of the sun, moon, stars as well as of the cuckoo bird (who is a bird of fate since its calls announce the number of years one still has to live) on one’s garments. They will enhance the beauty of the clothes. They will also summon the signified auxiliaries, thus guaranteeing the success of the love and beauty charm.

Boil/Roast/Cut:

[no qualifier]: 1 (tech)

The acts of boiling an egg, roasting or cutting a chicken’s heart, veal meat (or motives of the same kind in the formulas) are thought to magically operate on the fated spouse’s heart, body etc.. By thus torturing him/her, the charmer steers the fated spouse to the charmee.

Wash:

wash one's face with source water while holding in one's hands a silver coin and basil: 1 (tech)
[no qualifier]: 3 (verse)
facing sunrise: 1 (verse)
I washed my eyes: 1 (verse)
washed and cleansed: 1 (verse)
with water and basil: 1 (verse)

Washing, quenching embers etc. are typical acts in countercharming. The first is a general purification act and requires secretly fetching “unstarted water” from the river or well, at sunrise. The second magically appeases the suffering caused by evil charms.

Acts for casting hate upon a rival:

throwings and workings: 1 (verse)

    

Other:

bring he-cat: 1 (tech)
avoid: the priest, sitting, giving hand with people, kissing (even a baby): 1 (tech)
change the position of the dishes: 1 (tech)
climb to the summit of a poplar: 1 (tech)
fast on the eve of Boboteaza; bake a pogace; put it on the pole of căput: 1 (tech)
get everybody out of the house: 1 (tech)
go on the road: 1 (tech)
go to the fence by night: 1 (tech)
hide objects and substances under 9 dishes: 1 (tech)
hit the pigsty with one's bottom: 1 (tech)
kick the cow until it stands up: 1 (tech)
look into mirrors, go to the well, river etc.: 1 (tech)
pass each hair through the ear of sewing needle: 1 (tech)
put one's hand on a post: 1 (tech)
put pork scraps on pranic: 1 (tech)
raise up a dish to find an object and/or substance: 1 (tech)
tie post nr. 1: 1 (tech)
[no qualifier]: 3 (verse)
chase the doings: 1 (verse)
hit, peck: 1 (verse)
shake the fence: 1 (verse)
shake the lake, torture and steer the fateman: 1 (verse)
torment, torture, steer toward charmsayer: 1 (verse)
trouble the lake: 1 (verse)

    

None:

[no qualifier]: 1 (verse)
1 (tech)