The Nine Worts Galdor (The Nine Herbs Charm)

Translated by Þórbeorht Línléah.  This translation is dedicated to Wytchenwood.

OdinThe following charm is preserved in the 10th century Old English work, the Lacnunga (Remedies). That said, the spell itself must be far older as the god Wóden in mentioned in it as both the giver of the nine-healing herbs and as the slayer of a wyrm (a dragon or serpent). With the exception of one line a late scribal addition made evident by its failure to alliterate correctly and which has been removed from this text  there is no Christian context for the charm. Indeed, this charm may very well constitute the most purely Anglo-Saxon Heathen text to have survived conversion.

 

I
Gemyne ðú, mucgwyrt, hwæt þú ámeldodest,
hwæt þú renadest æt Regenmelde.
Una þú hattest, yldost wyrta.
ðú miht wið III and wið XXX,
þú miht wiþ áttre and wið onflyge,
þú miht wiþ þám láþan ðe geond lond færð.

Remember thou, Mugwort, what thou declared
What thou advised at the proclamation of the gods (Regen, “council of the gods,” and meld, “proclamation”)
“Una” (First) thou were named, the eldest of worts (herbs)
Thou hast might against three and against thirty.
thou hast might against venom and against that which flies
thou hast might against the loathsome that yond the land fareth

II
Ond þú, Wegbráde, wyrta módor,
éastan openo, innan mihtigu;
ofer ðé crætu curran, ofer ðe cwene reodan,
ofer ðé brýde bryodedon, ofer þé fearras fnærdon.
Eallum þú þon wiðstóde and wiðstunedest;
swa ðú wiðstonde áttre and onflyge
and þæm laðan þe geond lond fereð.

And thou, Waybread (plantain), mother of worts (herbs)
open to the east, mighty within;
over thee carts creaked, over thee queens (women) rode,
over thee brides cried out, over thee bulls snorted.
All of them thou withstood and dashed against;
so may thou withstand venom and that which flies
and the loathsome that yond the land fareth.

III
Stune hætte þéos wyrt, héo on stane gewéox;
stond héo wið áttre, stunað héo wærce.
Stíðe héo hatte, wiðstunað héo attre,
wreceð héo wráðan, weorpeð út áttor.

Stune (lambcress/watercress) is named this wort (herb), she on stone waxes;
stands she against venom, stuneth (dasheth) she against pain.
“Stiff” she is named, withstandeth she venom,
wreaked (driveth out) she the wrathful, warpeth (casteth) out venom.

IV
þis is séo wyrt séo wiþ wyrm gefeaht,
þéos mæg wið áttre, héo mæg wið onflyge,
héo mæg wið ðam laþan ðe geond lond fereþ.
Fléoh þú nú, Áttorláðe, séo læsse ðá máran,
séo máre þá læssan, oððæt him beigra bót sy.

This is the wort (herb) that with wyrm (serpent) fought,
she that prevails against venom, she that prevails against that which flies,
she prevails against the loathsome that yond the land fareth.
Put thou now to flight, Adder-loather (viper’s bugloss), the lesser [and] the more
the more [and] the lesser, until he, of both, is cured.

V
Gemyne þú, mægðe, hwæt þú ameldodest,
hwæt ðú geændadest æt Alorforda;
þæt næfre for gefloge feorh ne gesealde
syþðan him mon mægðan tó mete gegyrede.

Remember thou, Mayweed (Chamomile), what thou declared,
What thou earned at Alder-fjord;
that never for that which flies life would be sold (given, lost)
since for him mayweed, as meat (food), was readied.

VI
þis is séo wyrt ðé Wergulu hatte;
ðás onsænde seolh ofer sæs hrygc
ondan áttres óþres tó bóte.

This is the wort that is named Weregulu (nettle);
this sent a seal over the sea’s ridge
the undoing of venom, to others a cure.

VII
Þas VIIII magon wið nygon attrum.
Wyrm cóm snícan tóslát hé man
ðá genóm Wóden VIIII wuldortánas,
slóh ðá þá næddran, þæt héo on VIIII tófléah.
Þær geændade Æppel and áttor,
þæt héo næfre ne wolde on hús búgan.

These nine have main (power) against nine venoms.
Wyrm came sneaking. It slit a man
Then took up Wóden nine glory-tines (tines of Wuldor),
slew with them the adder that she into nine flew.
There earned Apple and venom
that she never would bend-way (slither) into house.

VIII & IX
Fille and Finule, felamihtigu twá,
þá wyrte gesceop witig drihten,
hálig on heofonum, þá hé hóngode;
sette and sænde on VII worulde
earmum and éadigum eallum tó bóte.
Stond héo wið wærce, stunað héo wið éáttre,
séo mæg wið III and wið XXX,
wið feondes hond and wið færbregde,
wið malscrunge mánra wihta.

Chervil and Fennel, most mighty two,
those worts (herbs) were shaped by the witty Drighten,
holy in the heavens, where he hung;
set and sent [them] into seven worlds
for the wretched and the wealthy for all a cure.
Stands she against pain, stuneth (dasheth) she against venom,
that prevails against three and against thirty,
against the fiend’s hand and against far-braiding (shape-shifting?),
against maskering (bewitching) by evil wights.

Nú magon þás VIIII wyrta wið nygon wuldorgeflogenum,
wið VIIII áttrum and wið nygon onflygnum,
wið ðý réadan áttre, wið ðý runlan áttre,
wið ðý hwítan áttre, wið ðý hæwenan áttre,
wið ðý geolwan áttre, wið ðý grénan áttre,
wið ðý wonnan áttre, wið ðý wedenan áttre,
wið ðý brúnan áttre, wið ðý basewan áttre,
wið wyrmgeblæd, wið wætergeblæd,
wið þorngeblæd, wið þystelgeblæd,
wið ýsgeblæd, wið áttorgeblæd,
gif ænig áttor cume éastan fléogan
oððe ænig norðan [ænig súþan] cume
oððe ænig westan ofer werðéode.

Now prevail these nine worts (herbs) against the nine wonder-flying-ones,
against nine venoms, and against nine which fly,
against the red venom, against the foul smelling venom,
against the white venom, against the blue-gray venom,
against the yellow venom, against the green venom,
against the wan (dark) venom, against the woad (blue) venom,
against the brown venom, against the crimson venom,
against the wyrm-blister, against the water-blister,
against the thorn-blister, against the thistle-blister,
against the ice-blister (frostbite), against the venom blister,
if any venom comes flying from the east,
or any other from the north, any [from the south] come
or any other from the west over the tribes of men.

Ic ána wat éa rinnende
þær þá nygon nædran néan behealdað;
motan ealle wéoda nú wyrtum áspringan,
sæs tóslúpan, eal sealt wæter,
ðonne ic þis áttor of ðé geblawe.

I alone wot (know) of a river running
There the nine adders near it beholdeth; (keep watch)
May all weeds now from worts (herbs) spring,
Seas to slip away, all salt water,
When I, this venom from thee blow.

Mugcwyrt, wegbráde þé éastan open sy, lombescyrse, áttorláðe, mageðan, netelan, wudusúræppel, fille and finul, ealde sápan: gewyrc ðá wyrta to duste, mængc wiþ þá sápan and wiþ þæs æpples gor. Wyrc slypan of wætere and of axsan, genim finol, wyl on þære slyppan and beþe mid æggemongc, þonne hé þá sealfe on dó, ge ær ge æfter. Sing þæt galdor on ælcre þára wyrta, III ær hé hý wyrce and on þone æppel ealswá; ond singe þon men in þone muð and in þá earan bútá and on ðá wunde þæt ilce gealdor, ær hé þá sealfe on dó.

Mugwort, Waybread (plantain) that is open to the east, lambcress (stune), adder-loather (viper’s bugloss), mayweed, nettle (weregulu), crab-apple, chervil and fennel, and old soap: work the worts (herbs) to dust, mix with the soap and with the apple’s gore. Work up a slop of water and of ashes, take the fennel, well it up (boil it) in the slop and bathe it with an egg-mixture, when he dons the salve, either ere or after. Sing that galdor (incantation) o’er each of those worts (herbs) thrice ere you work them and on the apple also; and sing it into the man’s mouth and in both ears and on the wound likewise galdor, ere he dons the salve.