On what might go on happening tonight:

  • the undead might start partying. Beware of crossroads, graveyards and of the woods;
  • the demons and the demonical are throwing a ball themselves, accompanied by witches and warlocks. Avoid crossroads, the woods and derelict churches, to all costs;
  • your neighbors might be rubbing their bodies, doors and gates with garlic, in order to keep spirits at bay – you’d better start doing it too;
  • the strigoi will be stealing the milk, sucking the blood of cows, returning to their (still) living families to take one of their kin to the land of the dead;
  • the moroi buried underneath a home  might be rising from their graves into the the attic, where they may wreck havoc;
  • young women will put some basil under their pillow so they might get a chance ar dreaming their future spouse. They might also place a ring in a water filled glass, placed in ashes and put a candle to the right of the glass and another to the left. After lighting them, a reflection of their future spouse should become visible in the ring;
  • witches get ready to meet their otherworldly lovers, friends and foes by drinking concoctions and rubbing their bodies with henbane, datura or deadly nightshade.

It’s the 29th of November and tonight the feeble border between worlds might just disappear.

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Magical Plants & Herbs in Romanian Folklore: Datura stramonium or Ciumăfaie

Datura stramonium, widely known as Ciumăfaie in Romanian folklore , also goes by the names of  Bolîndăriță ( from boală – disease), Ciuma fetei ( the girl’s plague, lit.),  cornută ( from corn – horn, the horned one, lit.), Iarba dracului ( the devil’s weed) or  Nebunariță ( from nebun – insane). As found in Borza’s dictionary of ethnobotanics, most of the plant’s given names relate to madness or even rabies, due to Datura’s well known psychotropic properties.

In Valer Butură’s Encyclopedia , it is described as having white flowers and black seeds. It grows on roadsides, or along fences. Its leafs were used for healing pustule, as  they would draw the puss. It was also used during plague epidemics, hence the common name  Ciumăfaie ( ciumă – plague).

In Bucovina, women use Ciumăfaie for love spells, bindings and curses. According  to Marian, witches place Datura seeds in the victim’s drink in order to break their will.  Marian has a different view on the connection between Datura and the plague: the disease was personified as an ugly, old lady and so was Ciumăfaie, plant which they linked to the disease, due to the fact that the effects of  the plant when ingested were as horrid and hard  to battle as the symptoms of the plague.

Oișteanu mentions that in some Romanian cosmogonies, plants such as Datura or Atropa belladonna were created by the Devil himself. Also, the use of hallucinogenic ointments containing  Ciumăfaie has been attested in some areas of Romania. The female living strigoi would use ointments containing extracts of hallucinogenic plants in order to magically fly to their places of gathering. Datura was akso used to feed the dead strigoi in order to keep them from harming the living.

*illustration stolen from http://plantgenera.org/

 

 

 

The Dead – part 2

As the strigoi are considered to be extremely dangerous and vicious spirits,  people have found numerous ways to bind or repel them.

Tudor Pamfile collected several such spells. This is one of them.

Tu moroiule, 
Tu strigoiule,
Tu să-ţi mănânci inima ta,
Maţele tale,
Ficaţii tăi,
Carnea ta,
Oasele tale,
Pielea ta,
Că cu cuţitul te-oi tăia,
Cu vin te-oi uda,
Cu busuioc te-oi afuma,
Cu tămâie te-oi tămâia,
Că inima ţi-oi lua,
Şi cu cuţitul oi tăia-o,
Şi-oi face-o nouă bucăţele,
Şi-oi arunca-o peste nouă vâlcele,
La nouă căţele.

You, moroi - it is argued that moroi is not the same as strigoi,
 this spell may very well prove otherwise, 
 or it is unknown whether the malevolent spirit is moroi or strigoi, so both names are used
You, strigoi
You shall eat your own heart,
Your own innards, 
Your own liver, - the plural is used in the original version
Your own flesh,
Your own bones,
Your own skin.
For I shall slash you with a knife,
Sprinkle you with wine, 
Smoke you with basil,
Smoke you with incense,
For I shall grab your heart,
And chop it with a knife,
And throw it over nine ravines
To nine bitches. - the cult of Hekate was widespread on Romanian territory

The Dead – part I

The  (un)dead play quite an important part in Romanian folklore. Such creatures are feared even  today, and great precaution is taken when it comes to threats from beyond the grave. I will have a lot of writing to do on this topic, so there will be a second part some day, perhaps even a third one.

The generic name for an undead in Romania is “strigoi”  if it’s male, and “strigoaică”  if female. There are two types of strigoi, the living and the undead. We shall only talk about the latter in this post, as we shall cover the first later on. The living are a completely different story, so to speak.

It is said that children born with the placenta stuck to their heads become strigoi, and so do the ones born with a tail ( a prominent coccis).  Such children are born out of women that drink unclean water (The Devil’s Drool) during their pregnancy or women that don’t cover their heads when going  out at night.

Moreover, individuals that die an untimely death (suicide, murder) people that committed evil deeds during their lifetime  also become strigoi. If a cat, dog or rooster jumps over a dead body, it will rise as a strigoi.

The strigoi are repelled by incense, garlic and onions. Legend has it that people born in a Saturday (being, therefore, connected to Saturn) can see the strigoi if they spend a whole night in a graveyard.

The 30th of  November is the night when the undead are the most potent.