March 14th – Foolish Incantations
Ayleth had had enough. For a long time she had suspected that Fendrel, her husband, was not entirely honest. He seemed to take an age these days bringing the goats in from the pasture, when before he would spring through the door with a smile on his face and fresh flowers in his hand. It was these flowers that had led to Ysmay, but no more children had followed, and the smile on his face had faded as the flowers died.
People talked. And the wives talked to each other, and less often, but occasionally to her, about Fendrel, and the time he spent in the fields with Isabel, daughter of Iestyn the smith.
Isabel! With her black hair and dark eyes and her bodice laced tight and low at the front. All the men wanted Isabel, she could see it in their faces every time the dark-haired girl walked past, shamelessly. And now it seemed that she’d got her claws into Fendrel.
He’d denied it, of course. He denied everything. She’d tried confronting Isabel, but the girl just smiled, and looked at her in a way that made her want to look at herself.
Steps had to be taken.
Ayleth could read. This was rare, she knew. She was the only person she knew who could read, including her husband, and she kept the fact well hidden. It wouldn’t do to be accused of witchcraft, especially when she kept a book of spells hidden under the thatch, in a place where he would never find it.
She waited until he had gone to the fields, (or to Isabel, as she was now convinced) and took down the book. She found the page she was looking for, the one to conjure a spirit to tell all, and spread out a clean cloth on the table. She took the bottle of consecrated oil her father had brought back from Canterbury, and placed 5 drops in the glass: four corners and one in the middle, and then drew them together into the shape of a cross, as per the instructions. She then, checking that no-one was around outside, whispered the words aloud:
Per istam unctionem
sit hoc speclum consecratum + Et benedictum +
et sanctificatum + quod habeat perfectam potestatem
ad demonstrandum nobis Angelos quos volumus
in nom + &c.
She breathed in, deeply. All was silent. She continued.
Sufflationem descendat in hoc speculum
virtus spir scti, concitetur speculum scientia
repræsentandis ut spiritus exorciz impleat et ut
dubia ora et occulta reddantur perfecta et certa
ut se imperasse gaudeat per ipsum Dominum qui vivis
et imperas in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
She threw a handful of breadcrumbs into the fire, and waited for them to burn. She scooped them out, washed the class and rubbed it with the burn crumbs, and waited for the spirit to come and tell her all.
She waited a long time.
Perhaps she’d missed something. Fendrel came back. smelling of meadows and goats, and (she was sure) Isabel.
She had had enough.
Tomorrow, Ayleth would strip naked, cover herself with honey, and roll in grain. She would scrape it off, mill flour from the remains, and bake bread, which she would feed to Fendrel.
That would fix him.
All of this is based on genuine 14th-16th century spells, and the text comes from the image at the top of the page, a page from a handwritten English book of spells, now in the collection of the Newberry Library in Chicago
Inspired by a prompt from here