Asking La Befana to Sweep Away
the Ill Luck and Envious Glances
at the La Festa dell'Epifania

In an incense burner, place three cones of frankincense after dark on January 6. Set incense burner on the threshold of a door to the outside. Light the cones in honor of La Befana, the spirit of the Epiphany and wave your hands over them three times. Then make a spitting noise over your shoulder three times. Repeat the following verse either in English or Italian or both.
Befana! Befana! Befana!
Whoever gave me this malocchio
Carry it away!

Befana! Befana! Befana!
Chiunque mi ha dato il mal d'occhio
Me lo porta via!

Shut the door and let the three incense cones burn until finished. Collect the incense burner, bring inside and put it away.


Myth's notes

I decided the blessing, as written above, would be particurally effective at the Epiphany, January ,6 so that La Befana could sweep away all the unpleasantness, envy, and bad luck from the past year before she left.

This spell is adapted from Leland's "Etruscan Magic & Occult Remedies." The folk practice that Leland recorded is much longer. It involves cummin seeds and frankincense resin, plus lit charcoal in an incence burner or "scaldino (spirit bowl)." The folk practice also involves walking around with the lit coals, scaldino, and burning incense inside the home to bless the whole house in every corner while reciting an Italian chant.

Finally someone would light the three little piles of frankincense resin on the threshold of the door and recite the little Italian verse.

For a number of reasons, I felt that the spell as written above was what we needed in our household this year.

I also got the impression that these orginally were two separate rituals involing Befana. Perhaps Leland learned about two different things and assumed they were linked because they both involved Befana. Possibly someone did do the two components altogether as one ritual.

Of course, I had already set out an Italian cookie and a glass of wine for La Befana the night before.

copyright January 6, 2011, Myth Woodling

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