The above healing spell was gleaned from an article by J. B. Andrews, in his Neapolitan Witchcraft, Folk-Lore Transactions of the Folk-Lore Society, Vol III March, 1897 No.1. It is unlikely any 19th century Italian, bedridden with illness, actually had five naked women dancing around him or her. Probably, this is a folklore remembrance of a much earlier practice. The practice is apparently somewhat similar to other practices in Northern Italy. The dialect is quite different than Sicilian. Apparently there were similar practices done with ribbons or cords, which were pulled from someone who was ill, symbolizing the removal of whatever was afflicting them. In these Northern Italian practices, the number had to be an odd one, just as in this case.
If that is true, the culmination of this spell would have been at the end of the dance, each witch dropping one end of her looped cord, so they could rapidly be pulled away from whoever was lying in bed. One suggested translation of song is "If you have made it (the illness) or if someone has made it, then I will remove it," or "what has been done to you I will take away." However, the dialect makes it difficult. (Sincere thanks to Toni and Ann)
Main Index Page