Old Magic – Spells on Love and Marriage

Here is the first collection of magical practices from witch trials between 1455 and 1850 in Austria recorded in “Anthropology from Criminal Proceedings of the Austrian Alpine Provinces With Special Consideration of the Magic and Witch Trials 1455 to 1850”.

They are all related to either making someone love or marry another, or the opposite.

As mentioned in my intro blog to this series , this is just to create an interesting overview of how folk Magic was practiced between 500 and 200 years ago, and should not be read as instructions to follow. Some practices require materials that are either no longer available (items from a hanged thieve) or are highly unethical to get (ripping the heart out of a living chicken). Other records describe practices that are health risks. Rather than an encouragement for you to follow these practices, these examples are a reflection of the times when they were used.

Also, a warning: The language in which these records are penned to parchment is often crude, vulgar, and by no means politically correct. I kept these expressions as they are. Often enough, the terms have evolved in many ways, and what they called a “whore” in mediaeval times might be considered a normally sexually active woman today, or simply someone who had sex before marriage — which the Church, who tried these witches, thought of an act making a woman not eligible for marriage. The statements of the accused or witnesses, or the terminology chosen by the individuals recording them, do not in any way reflect the opinion of this author.

Grand witch trial in Innsbruck, Austria, in August 1485, presided by the infamous Henricus Institoris, author of the Witch Hammer:

Klörle [Clara] Lienhart, a witness, tells the court why the crone named Fenden taught Ms. Raichartin what to do to make someone love her daughter:

The old Fenden taught the Raichartin that she should climb up the gallows and take something that belongs to the thieve [hanging there] and when a man touches a woman carrying these things on her, he would have to love her. The Raichartin learned that because she has a daughter whom someone got pregnant, and he didn’t want to do anything good to her any more.

Another interrogation in the same trial:

Ennli Forsterin has put a big [wal]nut half covered with leaf gold under Hanns Lamp’s pillow and since then he is no longer gracious to his wife and wants to beat her and he now is in love with and clings onto Ennli.

Interrogation of multiple witnesses:

Old Ms. Rendlin is also accused because she wanted to first hex Cristan Engelsperger and then forgive him; hex him because of love and because she thought that he loved another more than her. She killed three minnows in her vagina*) and ground them to powder with other materials, to give him.
Another time she put powder, in which many little bones laid, into an envelope and gave it to a person called Steinil and told her to throw the powder between the tradesman and the girl Magdalena, Wolfgangs wife.

*) WARNING: fish carry a slew of bacteria such as Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae on their skin, and these organisms would spread manifold in any (!) body cavity, causing infections and even death. Trying this practice at home can seriously harm or even kill you.

[Author's note] Unfortunately, this record is utterly confusing, and it's not clear what the "other materials" are or what is in the "powder". It is also unclear, if throwing the powder between two people makes them fall in love with each other, or the opposite. Clearly, the court and the scribe knew who the people mentioned by the witnesses were, and about their relationships to one another, so hey didn't bother recording these details.

Sworn affidavit by Martein Graff:

Greta Kolers has hexed Martein Graff so that he is no longer gracious to his wife and also that he hasn’t found any sleep for two weeks. And he is sure she did that because he once wanted to force her to help him*). She was his mistress back then and thought that he will marry her and because he took another woman, she said: “I will give you an illness.” Then Greta found a little spider in her bed and wound three different linen and wool threads around it, and took those and the hair from a person and weaved that and some of her pubic hair into a cord from a coat he [Martein] has been wearing for two years now, after she had borrowed the cord and given it back to him after a time.

*) It is not explicitly said, but "help him" in this context may mean "having sex with him".

Testimony by Elizabeth, wife of the tailor Heinrich:

From Els Heiligkrützin, the sacristan’s sister, the people learned that to hex a man so he has to take [a particular woman], they have to buy a black hen as it is offered [i.e. without heckling] and they should take the heart from the still alive bird and put it between their secret end [the vagina] and give it the man to eat*).

*) WARNING: Raw meat, particularly chicken, can carry salmonella and other bacteria, which can infect any (!) body cavity and cause serious and even deadly infections, and food borne illnesses as well. Trying this practice at home can seriously harm or kill you.

Witch trial near Brixen, Tyrol, Austria in 1645:

Mathias Perger [the accused] has learned from a gal, and also from a little book [grimoire] which Jacob Gasser gave him, that if a guy is in love with a gal and wants to get her, he should take a tree frog*), put it into a little box with holes, burry that in an ant hill and run away. On the 9th day he should go back there and he’ll see that the ants have eaten the frog, except for the bones. There will be one bone that looks like a hook and another one that looks like a fork**). The girl he is in love with, the man should touch her with the hook on her naked skin; the girl he doesn’t want, he should push her away with the fork touching her naked skin.

In the little book we [the court] have heard about is also listed the craft where someone takes a needle with which a shroud has been sown together and puts that into a vessel into which someone takes a piss so that the person using that pissbowl will no longer fornicate.

*) Please abstain from killing tree frogs, generally, and be aware that they may be a protected species in your area, making this practice illegal.

**) This bone may have only two tines, as forks back then did.

Witch Trial in Gutenhag, April 1667

Interrogation of Margaretha, Phillip Sodtler’s girl:

When she [Margaretha] went to the meadow, Janscho Pollonez’ daughter called her and asked her for some of her daughter’s hair, some of the lace of her dress, and a tassel from her belt. When Margaretha asked the woman what she wants to do with these items, she said she wanted to make it that she [?] can’t marry and will become a whore.

Interrogation of Agnes, daughter of Janscho Pollonez:

She [Agnes] admits that she asked Margaretha for the tassel of her [M.’s] daughter’s belt, but she has lost it since. When asked what she wanted to do with it, Agnes said that her mother had heard from Nescha, Manfred Schollamun’s wife, that she could make it so that the person who owns them will become a whore and will never get to marry.

It is not clear here, who the person is that is supposed to be hexed, or if it is the same person in both interrogations.

Such were the practices of old to get a person to love another, to force people to break up with each other, or to keep them from cheating. All these methods seriously interfere with the free will of those that are so hexed, can be harmful to the person practicing such Magic and to the person on the receiving end. Please exercise your best judgement!

More Magic in Alpine traditions can be found in my book “Mountain Magic”, available at lulu.com (preferred) and distributers such as amazon.com


Waiver: Some of these practices can be, as we know nowadays, harmful or even deadly, and could violate laws. The author is not liable for any damages or negative consequences from any treatment, action, application, or preparations, to any person reading or following the information provided in this blog article.

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1 Response to Old Magic – Spells on Love and Marriage

  1. Pingback: Old Spells – Weather Magic | The Weekly Druid

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