A German minister wants to see millennium-old German magic spells included by UNESCO on its Memory of the World register.
The Merseburg charms are two 10th century incantations written in Old High German, the earliest form of the German language.
They are the only known examples of pre-Christian Germanic pagan belief preserved in Old High German.
They were recorded by a cleric on a blank page of a liturgical book, which later passed to the library at Merseburg Cathedral, hence the name.
They became famous after renowned folklorist Jacob Grimm of the Brothers Grimm wrote about them in the 19th century.
Written in alliterating verse, the first charm tells of the liberation of a prisoner and the second reveals how to heal an injured horse’s hoof.
Rainer Robra, the Minister of Culture for the State of Saxony-Anhalt, announced the charms would be handed over to the German Commission for UNESCO on 26th May.
The body will then consider them for inclusion on its Memory of the World register.
The first Merseburg charm, in translation, reads:
Once sat women,
They sat here, then there.
Some fastened bonds,
Some impeded an army,
Some unraveled fetters:
Escape the bonds,
flee the enemy!
And the second reads:
Phol and Wodan were riding to the woods,
and the foot of Balder’s foal was sprained
So Sinthgunt, Sunna’s sister, conjured it;
and Frija, Volla’s sister, conjured it;
and Wodan conjured it, as well he could:
Like bone-sprain, so blood-sprain,
Bone to bone, blood to blood,
joints to joints, so may they be glued.
The Memory of the World register includes such texts as the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) as well as the Magna Carta (1215).
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