A Charm for the Shingles, Charms in Welsh folklore and mythology, a tale from Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant Wales
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Category: Charms
Sub Category: Shingles
Title: A Charm for the Shingles


The shingles is a skin disease, which encircles the body like a girdle, and the belief was that if it did so the patient died. However, there was a charm for procuring its removal, which was generally resorted to with success; but the last person who could charm this disease in Montgomeryshire lies buried on the west side of the church at Penybontfawr, and consequently there is no one now in those parts able to charm the shingles. The inscription on his tombstone informs us that Robert Davies, Glanhafon Fawr, died March 13th, 1864, aged 29, so that faith in this charm has reached our days.|It was believed that the descendants of a person who had eaten eagle’s flesh to the ninth generation could charm for shingles.|The manner of proceeding can be seen from the following quotation taken from “The History of Llanrhaiadr-yn-Mochnant,” by Mr. T. W. Hancock, which appears in vol. vi., pp. 327-8 of the Montgomeryshire Collections.|“This custom (charming for the shingles) was more prevalent in this parish than in any other in Montgomeryshire. A certain amount of penance was to be done by the sufferer, who was to go to the charmer in the morning fasting, and he was also to be fasting. The mode of cure was simple—the charmer breathed gently on the inflamed part, and then followed a series of little spittings upon and around it. A few visits to the charmer, or sometimes a single one, was sufficient to effect a cure.|“The power of charming for the ‘’Ryri’ is now lost, or in any event has not been practised in this parish, for several years past. The possession of this remarkable healing power by the charmer was said to have been derived from the circumstance of either the charmer himself, or one of his ancestors within the ninth degree, having eaten of the flesh of the eagle, the virtue being, it was alleged, transmitted from the person who had so partaken to his descendants for nine generations. The tradition is that the disorder was introduced into the country by a malevolent eagle.|“Some charmers before the operation of spitting, muttered to themselves the following incantation:—|Yr Eryr Eryres|Mi a’th ddanfonais,
Dros naw môr a thros naw mynydd,A thros naw erw o dir anghelfydd;Lle na chyfartho ci, ac na frefo fuwch,Ac na ddelo yr eryr byth yn uwch.”|
Male eagle, female eagle,I send you (by the operation of blowing, we presume),Over nine seas, and over nine mountains, And over nine acres of unprofitable land,Where no dog shall bark, and no cow shall low,And where no eagle shall higher rise.”|The charmer spat first on the rash and rubbed it with his finger over the affected parts, and then breathed nine times on it.|Jane Davies, an aged woman, a native of Llanrhaiadr-yn-Mochnant, with whom I had many long conversations on several occasions, told the narrator that she had cut a cat’s ear to get blood, wherewith to rub the patient’s breast who was suffering from the shingles, to stop its progress, until the sufferer could be visited by the charmer, and she said that the cat’s blood always stopped it spreading.


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