Monday, December 21, 2009

fetal fashion

Christina of Sweden (b. 1626) was born with a "victory-shirt" -- what Scandinavians call a more or less intact fetal membrane clinging to the newborn baby. A victory-shirt was always regarded as a lucky omen & also signaled "extra protection" from the gods.

"The cap of victory was an omen of good luck for the child being born with it. It was a sign the child would become something useful."
--Scandinavian Folk Belief and Legend, Reimund Kvideland, Henning K. Sehmsdorf

"In Vaever, Musse, there lived a man named Ole Hansen. His oldest son was born with a shirt of victory. If he walked three times around a burning house, the fire would not spread to another building. Nor could anyone shoot him, as long as he carried his shirt of victory in his pocket."
-- Collected by E.T. Kristensen from Jorgen Mortensen in Musse parish, Lolland (Denmark).

'Glass rolling-pin, painted and dated 1855; said to have contained a child's caul as a sailor's charm, Sunderland'

"One of the most powerful personal charms was a caul, the fetal membrane that in some cases covered the face or head of a newborn infant. To carry a caul protected its bearer from drowning, and accoring to belief, no ship with one on board could sink. Being born with one not only protected a person from drowning but also gave hhim supernatural clairvoyance and allowed him to see supernatural sights, such as ghosts and spirits, hidden from ordinary eyes."
--Melville's Folk Roots, Kevin J. Haynes

"The correct name for those who are born with a Caul is a Caulbearer. Such people are often referred to as being born behind The Veil."

A riddle:
What is worn of necessity, and then is necessarily worn,
hinders sight, but will allow to see?

Friday, December 11, 2009

measure, lance

imagined amulet, sans pierce

"Attention was drawn to the violations of Christ's body, as these were recorded and incorporated in acts of writing, measuring, wearing, eating: people carried the wounds around on a piece of parchment hanging from their necks, as amulets and as remedies. An amulet containing a 'measure' of Christ's wounds was expected to stop the flow of blood, appealing to Longinus, the Roman soldier:
Longinus: who pierced the side and had blood flow - I dare you - in the name of Jesus Christ, so that the blood of Margery will stop flowing. "
--Miri Rubin, Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture

Lambeth Palace Manuscript, MS 545

"In prints closest to our woodcut, with one or two angels presenting the heart on a cloth, the wound is indicated not only by a printed line or drops of red pigment but also almost always by an actual slit through the paper. This seems to suggest that these prints were produced specifically to be pierced by the Holy Lance and thus to serve as contact relics for pilgrim and other devotees of the relic cult."
-- Peter W. Parshall, Rainer Schoch, Origins of European Printmaking: Fifteenth-century Woodcuts and their Public