A handwritten book of spells set down in Brittany during the 18th century contains a varied collection of spells and enchantments to be used in order to gain good fortune, riches or love. These spells provide a fascinating insight into the popular mentality of the rural population of Brittany before the Revolution.Pages from a Breton Spell Book
Love is enough: have no thought for to-morrow If ye lie down this even in rest from your pain,
Ye who have paid for your bliss with great sorrow: For as it was once so it shall be again.
Ye shall cry out for death as ye stretch forth in vain
Feeble hands to the hands that would help but they may not,
Cry out to deaf ears that would hear if they could;
Till again shall the change come, and words your lips say not
Your hearts make all plain in the best wise they would
And the world ye thought waning is glorious and good:
And no morning now mocks you and no nightfall is weary,
The plains are not empty of song and the deed:
The sea strayeth not, nor the mountains are dreary;
The wind is not helpless for any man’s need,
Nor falleth the rain but for thistle and weed.
O surely this morning all sorrow is hidden,
All battle is hushed for this even at least;
And no one this noontide may hunger, unbidden
To the flowers and the singing and the joy of your feast
Where silent ye sit midst the world’s tale increased.
Lo, the lovers unloved that draws nigh for your blessing!
For your tale makes the dreaming whereby yet they live
The dreams of the day with their hopes of redressing,
The dreams of the night with the kisses they give,
The dreams of the dawn wherein death and hope strive.
Ah, what shall we say then, but that earth threatened often
Shall live on forever that such things may be,
That the dry seed shall quicken, the hard earth shall soften,
And the spring-bearing birds flutter north o’er the sea,
That earth’s garden may bloom round my love’s feet and me?
It What cometh here from west to east wedding and who are these, the marchers stern and slow? We bear the message that the rich are sending Aback to those who bade them wake and know. Not one, not one, nor thousands must they slay, But one and all if they would dusk the day. We asked them for a life of toilsome earning, They bade us bide their leisure for our bread; We craved to speak to tell our woeful learning; We come back speechless, bearing back our dead. Not one, not one, nor thousands must they slay, But one and all if they would dusk the day. They will not learn; they have no ears to hearken. They turn their faces from the eyes of fate; Their gay-lit halls shut out the skies that darken. But, lo! this dead man knocking at the gate. Not one, not one, nor thousands must they slay, But one and all if they would dusk the day. Here lies the sign that we shall break our prison; Amidst the storm, he won a prisoner’s rest, But in the cloudy dawn the sun arisen Brings us our day of work to win the best. Not one, not one, nor thousands must they slay, But one and all if they would dusk the day. ~ A Death Song – William Morris