HH is a retired former housewife who lives in Westergellersen, a small village in northern Germany.
“Knüpfe soviele Knoten in ein Band wie du Warzen hast. Dann vergrabe das Band bei Mondschein unter einem Stein. Wenn der Faden zersetzt (verfault) ist werden die Warzen verschwunden sein.”
Tie as many knots into some string as you have warts. Then bury the string under a rock by moonlight. When the string has decomposed, the warts will have disappeared.
This practice is a folk magic ritual that utilizes the Homeopathic principle. The knots on the string represent the warts, and the decomposition of the string metaphorically decomposes the warts along with it. An interesting note here is the need to perform the burying part of the ritual under moonlight. The moon is a highly magical and superstitious symbol in many societies, and is widely associated with magic, and especially women’s magic (though the moon is a masculine noun in the German language).
The rock under which the string must be buried does not seem to bring anything specifically auspicious or magical, but could serve multiple other purposes. First, placing the string beneath a rock would help speed up the decomposition process, as it creates an environment where organisms can more easily break down the string than if it was in an open space. Next, the rock weighs down the string and keeps it in place. If the string is anchored beneath a heavy object, it’s less likely to move around due to environmental factors like weather, or be taken and moved by an animal. Finally, placing the string beneath a certain rock makes the burial site easy to identify, which is helpful for tracking the decomposition of the string.
Informant: My informant is a current sophomore at the University of Southern California. Her parents are from Jalisco, Mexico. However, she grew up in Denver, Colorado.
Context: The following is a conversation that my informant and I had over zoom. During the zoom we were discussing some of the lore that we share. The following is an excerpt of our conversation and my informant explanation of her bracelet charm against evil eye.
Text: “I wear this bracelet as a protection amulet for myself. The reason that I wear it is that it’s a custom that has been present for many years now. I don’t think these customs come from Catholicism, even though my parents are religious, but I think it has to do a lot with indigenous roots. The evil eye is negative energy such as bad vibes, and jealousy and to keep that away we wear a bracelet with an eye on it. [The informant takes her bracelet off and hands it over to me]. Usually, these are red, but mine on here is a colorful number of beads and if you look at the middle it has like a hand with an eyeball in the center it has a little like eyeball, and it’s not super detailed or anything, but it’s just a circle, and the like outer part is red and then the inner part is completely white with like a singular black dot. And basically, I wear this all the time, because at some point I really did just start believing that it was a positive energy that protects you from other people’s bad glares. Even my little cousins wear this. My mom and dad always told us to wear these-slash- they put them on us as babies to protect us from evil.”
Analysis: Hearing of the evil eye from another person who practices it was very interesting indeed. I for one also wear these kinds of bracelets because as a small child my mom taught me that these bracelets work as small amulets to keep me safe. Seeing how my informant and I learned these customs, superstitions, and myths from our family show how much one relies on our culture rather and on professionals or science to believe whether something is necessarily real. Some might argue that this is the placebo effect, our minds are playing games to make us believe that this is truly a protection. However, whether it is placebo effect or not, these charms have demonstrated to play a big role in developing our beliefs in practices towards our future generation: our children.