Journal Entry: Elves in the Wheatfield

1098. October 12. My steward Erik has brought back a leechbook* for me from Yorvik that he says he got by way of a priest. I am glad of it for the aelfcynne [elves] that dwell under the wheat field are making a misery to the harvesters and so I told him. Here is one that I will try tonight for Alfred is sick since the harvest This works against the aelf arrows for he suffers them in his fingers, they are puffed up like my sausages.

Take a handful of each of  bishopwort, fennel, lupin, the lower part of aelfthone, incense, and lichen from the stone cross of Christ where it stands in the yard. Put all these together and bind them in a cloth. Do the same again but with smaller pinches of all and bind them in another cloth. Dip both cloths in holy water three times. Sing three masses over them and the masses must be Omnibus Sanctis, Contra Tribulationem, and Pro Infirmis.

Erik must go to the friar and see if he knows these masses and if not to find someone who does, for we gave a full tenth of our harvest to the church this year. Then put coals into a coal pan and put the larger of the herbs on it. Bring Alfred into the house before nine o’clock in the morning and let him be wreathed with the smoke and smell of it. Do it again at night. While he stands in the smoke then sing a litany, the Creed, and the Paternoster. These I know and may say. Also write Christ’s mark on each limb, I will have Erik do that. And then take the smaller bag and boil it in milk and drip the holy water in it three times to give to Alfred to drink slowly before his meal. He will soon be well.

This is good and we will do it but how will we rid ourselves of the aelfcynne in the wheat field? I cannot help it that they will build their hall underneath our good land!

*I am indebted to Dr. Karen Louise Jolly’s Popular Religion in Late Saxon England for the anti-elf rituals.

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