תמונות בעמוד

is an admonition not to lose an opportunity when it

presents itself.


“See a pin and pick it up,

All that day you'll have good luck.” But this saying does not hold good in every case. There are certain rules laid down by those who are wise regarding the power of pins, directing when they may be passed by, and how their position on the earth or floor must be carefully observed before they be touched—-for their pose is an omen for good and evil. If


fail to pick up a pin the point of which is towards you, you may not suffer much harm ; but if its head confronts you, and you let it lie, then woe betide you! As usual, this superstition is set forth in verse :

“ If see a pin with point to you,
May pass it by without much rue;
But if its head to you present,

Fail pick it up and you'll repent.” The popular dread of seeing the knife and fork crossed on the table finds its parallel in pin superstition "If two pins you

across, You will shortly suffer loss,” and

“ If two pins across do fall,

They may well the heart appal.” To find a pin which has lost its head is regarded as an ill omen and much to be lamented ; and here again verse tells the sad story :-

“If pin without a head you

Be sure some mischief lurks behind.” And

“A headless pin forbodeth ill,

With dread thy bosom may well fill.” And the import of the omen is shown in the following lines :

“If pin you find with ne'er a head,

It meaneth that some friend is dead." Should a black pin come into the house by chance, it is looked upon as boding some disaster, probably the death of one of its inmates; and as soon as found ought to be

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flung out of the window or cast into the fire, and on no account be used by anyone.

The giving, refusing to give, and the non-acceptance of a pin when offered, are marks of social feeling that cannot be mistaken, and have given rise to the following rhymes :

“Give a pin, goodwill you'll win.”
“If ask'd for pin-refuse to give,

Friendship henceforth with you is rive."
“If proffered pin you do decline,

Acquaintance thus you do resign." Some dark and dismal superstitions cluster round a bent or witch's pin, as it is popularly denominated. It is a common saying

"A crooked pin ill-luck will bring.” And

“ A pin that is bowed, and crooked, and bent,

Is sure to bring sorrow and discontent.” And no wonder if it be true that

" The devil he crooks and bends each pin

With which the witch her ends doth win." The awful power of bent pins is set forth in several doggerel verses, of which the following are examples :--

“ The witches with their crooked pins,
Commit most fearful, cruel sins,
Their victims rack with wasting pain,
And quick their lives are on the wane.
They raise up hate where love once dwelt,

In every home their spell is felt." Both form and potency of the old hag's instrument of spite is given in the subjoined :

“A pin that's twisted, crook'd, and bent,

Is surely by foul witches sent;
And better miss a pin outright

Than crooked pin should meet your sight.”
And further :-

“The witches' pin is crook'd and bent,
And with it she doth sore torment.
She drops her pins in hope you'll find,
And fast with spells her victims bind.”

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It would appear that it was once thought possible for a malicious person to work mischief with a pin bent by themselves, for such seems to be implied by the following fiendish incantation :

“The pin I bend and in fire cast,
And thus his or her) happiness I blast.
May torments fill body and soul;

No counter-charm my charm control.” Many fancied they could achieve their diabolical desires by means of straight as well as with crooked pins ; and this idea leads us on to consider some of the most cruel and wicked purposes to which these insignificantlooking implements were applied. It was thought most unfortunate for a bride to have anything fastened on her dress with a pin, and an envious rival would contrive to effect this in hopes of bringing misery and widowhood on her. Hence it is said :

“She'd better as a maiden died

Than on her dress pin aught as bride." And friendly warnings are given in the following rhymes :

“If stick a pin on bridal dress,
You'll bring on bride some sore distress.”

“Pin nothing on the bride's costume,

Lest thou should fix the husband's doom."

It would seem that a pin stuck in the bride's attire was not simply a forewarning of the loss of her husband, but an absolute means of depriving him of life, if credit be given to the subjoined verses :

“Let not a pin pierce the bride's dress,

However much a pin she need,
Lest death within a few brief years

Doth bid her don the widow's weed.”
And now comes the advice to a rival :-

“If spite thou hast against a man,
Stick pin in bridal dress if can.
Her husband soon will wane and die,

And leave his spouse to wail and cry.”
Divining and charming by means of pin and candle are


known to have been practised in London within a very few years, and in The Book of Charms and Ceremonies, published by W. Foulsham, 1895, p. 25, is given a “WaxCandle Love Spell,” as follows: " Take a wax candle, and stick a pin through the wax, taking care the wick is pierced, then

“It's not alone this candle I stick,
But love's heart I mean to prick,
Whether he be asleep or awake,

I'll have him come to me and speak." “If the pin remains in the wick after the candle has burnt below the place in which it was inserted, then the lover will be sure to appear; but should the pin drop out, it is a sign that he is faithless and will never become your husband.” In the

In the year 1866 this spell was thrice tried by a lady residing at Norwood, in Surrey, and each time the unsuspecting gentleman endured fearful agony.

If a woman hates a man, and seeks to avenge some real or imagined wrong, let her thrust pins into a candle whilst repeating the following spell :

“As I pierce this candle through
With my pins so sharp and true,
May ho torments feel and woe,
Worse and worse each moment grow.
And as candle burns away
May he languish and decay.
May the winding-sheet appear,
And his death thus show is near.
Let each pin play deadly part

Writhe his limbs and stab his heart.” Many a maiden who found that her affections were unreciprocated, and many a jealous wife and damsel, sought vengeance by modelling a heart in some soft substance; and by sticking pins into it hoped and believed they were inflicting torments on their victims, and whilst so doing repeated this fearful incantation :

“Pin after pin with bitter curse

Thick I'll plant in this charm'd heart.
May sorrow, pang, and death each bring-

Soul and body quickly part.”
In the museum of the Society of Antiquaries of

Scotland is a calf's heart stuck full of pins, which was discovered in 1827 beneath the paved floor of an old house at Dalkeith, Midlothian, and which had doubtless been employed for purposes of witchcraft and vengeance.

We now arrive at a point in our story when two distinct superstitions so closely blend together that it is almost impossible to treat of the one without coupling the other with it--namely, the waxen image and the frequent practice of pricking it with pins. The Royal Psalmist had probably one of the ancient superstitions in his mind when he said (Ps. 68, v. 2): “Like as wax melteth at the fire, so let the ungodly perish at the presence of God.” And Virgil (Eclogue viii) may have thought of the old superstition when he makes Alphesibaus say, while working the magic spells : “ As this clay hardens, and as the wax dissolves with one and the same fire, so may Daphnis by my love." But let us advance to surer ground. Fosbroke, in his Encyclopædia of Antiquities (ed. 1843, p. 82:3), when speaking of waxen images, says, they “ were made to represent a person, the object of malice. These figures were baptized by invoking dæmons. There were engraved upon them certain magical characters, supposed to have the power of conveying the operations made on the figures into the bodies of the persons represented, so that in pricking or burning the figures the impressions of the iron or fire were felt by those whom they wished to torment or kill. Three of these waxen images fell into the hands of Pope John XXII (fourteenth century), and were made by John D'Amant, his Medecin Barbier. The French called this practice Envouter, from Volt, a charm, or the Latin Devovere.

Rendle, in his monograph on London Bridge, tells us

1 In an Exhibition of Instruments of Torture from the Royal Castle of Nuremburg, held at the Maddox Street Galleries, Regent Street, in 1892, were several relics of witchcraft, and among them « a mandragora root cut into the form of a man, said to have great efficacy in the hands of witches against the person they were 'overlooking.' A nail or a needle driven into the mandragora caused a pain to shoot through the heart of the living man at the same moment, and nails or needles were driven into it until the person died.” If the mandrake could not be procured, the root of the white bryony, or a large carrot, would serve the purpose of the image into which to stick pins, needles, or nails.

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