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Folk-lore of the Holy Land, Moslem, Christian and Jewish, by J. E. Hanauer [1907], at

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THE Hebrew part of A. M. Luncz's interesting "Jerusalem Year-Book" for 1881 contains on pages 20-28, and under the title "Vain Belief," an account of some abject and degrading superstitions connected not only with quack nostrums but even with demon-worship. From this account as well as from my personal investigation the following notes are compiled, as I have ascertained that the said superstitions are still common among all creeds in Palestine.

Of all popular quack-remedies the chief is "mummia" or mummy. The drug is sold at a high price, about five piastres or tenpence a dram, by the native apothecaries, and is supposed to consist not only of fragments of human bodies, bones, etc., embalmed in Egypt centuries ago, but also of human remains found among the sand-hills on the Hâj-route to Mecca and Medina. It is said to be specially efficacious against the "evil eye," sudden frights and nervous complaints; and is generally used in the following manner.

A small piece of "mûmmia" is pounded very fine in a mortar, and sometimes mixed with sugar or spice. A handful of this powder is then placed over night on the house-top in order to be wet with the dew, or it is mixed with a cup of coffee and administered to the patient on nine successive nights.

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[paragraph continues] On the fifth and the ninth night the patient is bathed from head to foot before the drug is administered to him, or her; and somebody must sit beside the sick person the whole night through, to see if the remedy takes effect which it is supposed it ought to do on one of these two nights. The patient is generally restricted to a diet of bread and milk; though I know a case of a girl nine or ten years old, who had sustained a severe injury to her neck by a fall from a mule (or, as the relatives asserted, "had received a slap on the face from an angel"), being kept for six weeks on a diet of honey and almonds only. Throughout the period of treatment, the patient must be prevented from smelling any strong or offensive smells, such as onions or fish; and women who are at all unwell or pregnant must not approach the dwelling lest either they themselves or the patient receive an injury. Whilst the "mûmmia"-cure is being carried on such of the neighbours as live in the same building or courtyard and have faith in the nostrum forsake their dwellings for fear of contagion or other evil effects, which are, however supposed to be neutralised by drawing the picture of a hand over the door of the. dwelling. A case of "mûmmia"-cure occurred to my knowledge only last week (8/3/07).

More remarkable than the "mûmmia" is the "Indûlko"-cure which is practised by the Sephardim, who believe it to be a remedy for nervous complaints, fits caused by sudden fright, barrenness, proneness to miscarriage, etc. etc. It is divided into two categories, that of the "lesser" and the

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[paragraph continues] "greater" Indûlko (possibly the original name was "indulgo"), and is connected with an actual ritual of demon-worship conducted by a witch priestess--or "knowing woman." The details of the ceremony may vary in unimportant points, but its general features are as follows:--

All members of the family and all neighbours living in the same building or court are obliged to quit the dwelling for some days, during which time the patient lives alone attended by no one but the female who is to perform the ceremony. The house is carefully cleared of all books, papers, etc., on which the name of God or any words of Scripture are written, and even the "Mezuzahs" are removed from the doorposts. The patient is instructed that he must carefully abstain from offering up any prayer to the Almighty, quoting words of Scripture, or mentioning any of the names, attributes, etc., of the Most High, during the nights on which the invocation of the demons is to take place. The "wise woman" brings with her a small quantity of wheat, barley, water, salt, honey, four to six eggs, some milk and two kinds of sweetmeats or sugar. At midnight she takes these eatables, the eggs excepted, and having mixed them up she sprinkles them round the patient's bed, at the threshold of the chamber, and in its four corners. Whilst doing this she utters the following petition:--

"We beseech you, O our lords, that you would have mercy and pity upon the soul of your sick servant So and So, the son of your hand-maiden So and So, and that you will cause his iniquity to pass

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away, and in case he have sinned against or injured you that ye would pardon his sin and restore to him his soul, his strength, and creation, i.e. perfect health." (Should the patient be a barren woman desiring offspring, the sorceress says:--"And that ye would open her womb, restore the fruit of her belly, and loose her fetters." For a female liable to miscarriage the petition runs thus:--"And that ye would quicken for her the lives of her sons and daughters.") The prayer continues thus "And lo, here is honey" (or sugar) "which is in order to sweeten your mouths and jaws; and corn or barley as food for your kine and lesser cattle; and the water and salt are to establish love, brotherliness, peace and friendship as by an everlasting covenant of salt between us and you." The woman then breaks the eggs into the latrines, etc., prostrates herself on the floor in the attitude of worship, and after kissing the pavement several times, continues the invocation as follows: "Lo this shall be to you the sacrifice of a soul in substitution for a soul, 1 in order that ye may restore to us the soul of this sick person and grant his desire." This invocation is several times repeated, and during three successive nights. It may be done, should three nights not prove effectual for a cure, seven, or even nine nights in succession. We must remark that the latter part of these ceremonies is performed in latrines, wash-houses, subterranean chambers, cellars, and round about cisterns, etc.;

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and that the sick person is sometimes kept all night in such quarters.

However, if the patient be poor and unable to afford the expense of the ceremony above described; or in case the neighbours refuse to vacate their dwellings; then the person who officiates goes to the cistern, or the wash-house, latrines, etc., and pours out a little salt water and utters the aforesaid prayer, shortening it thus:--"Behold, here is salt and water, let there speedily be peace between us and you." On account of its being cheap this form of adjuration is very often used. In case of a poor man being discouraged because his business does not prosper, salt water is in like manner sprinkled at the entrance to his shop, etc., whilst the shortened formula is uttered. Should a man or woman meet with an accident, such as a fall which has resulted in a broken leg, or arm, a sprained ankle, etc. etc., the exact spot where the misfortune occurred is ascertained and sprinkled with water, whilst the short formula is repeated. In some cases, however (as the present writer has ascertained by personal enquiry), should the injury received be a very severe one, the ceremony is varied in the following manner:--At midnight, the knowing woman, after having sprinkled the exact spot where the accident happened with salt-water, and then strewed sugar over it, adds to her petition the following clause, "Forgive, we pray you, So and So, son or daughter of your handmaiden So and So, for having unconsciously and without intending it, disturbed and perhaps hurt one of you, and restore him or her to health, etc. etc." The dust, of the spot

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is then carefully gathered up, and mixed with water. Doses of this precious mixture are then administered to the patient from time to time. "The greater Indulko" differs from "the lesser" above described, in being more expensive, and continued for a greater length of time, sometimes for forty or even fifty days. The sick-room is luxuriously furnished, the patient arrayed in "costly white garments," whilst the room is brilliantly lighted up with wax candles, and a table spread not only with the edibles above mentioned, but with other sweetmeats, and delicacies as well as with flowers, perfumes, etc., in abundance. The form of adjuration, or prayer to the demons, is the same as that above described.

"Freskûra" is the name of another superstitious remedy used by Sephardim women for the benefit of their children, if the latter happen to suffer from fits, fever, etc. The nostrum is prepared in the following manner:--

Vegetable-marrows or cucumbers (those grown at Ain Kârim, are said, for reasons not ascertained, to be best suited for the purpose) have their insides carefully scooped out. They are then soaked in a solution of indigo and exposed on the roof over night, in order to be wetted with dew. On the eve of the ninth day of Ab, the anniversary of the destruction of the Jewish Temples, no other day or night of the year being appropriate, they are taken to the Synagogue, and when the service has reached a certain point at which the ceremony of extinguishing lights takes place, the vegetables are stuffed with a mixture of pine-seeds (snobar) and yellow clay, moistened

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with the juice of unripe grapes. The vegetables thus stuffed are then left to dry in the sun for several weeks till their insides have been baked hard. If a child happens to be ill with fever a fragment of one of these marrows is put into his mouth and rubbed by "the knowing woman" against his palate. Whilst she does this she says, "Depart heat, enter coolness ('freskûra'); enter coolness ('freskûra') depart heat." Pieces of the dried vegetable and its contents are then rubbed over the sufferer's body and limbs. The nostrum is said to be efficacious, if worn as an amulet, to keep off danger from "the evil eye," etc.

The superstition concerning "the Evil Eye" has been so often written about by others, that it is unnecessary to describe it here. Among the notes to this section is the translation of a typical written Jewish charm or amulet, which bears on the subject.


300:1 As an egg contains the germ of a life, it is supposed to be a fit substitute for a human life.

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