Merseburg Incantations

Eighth Century Germany

translated by


These two texts are written on an empty page of a ninth-century missal in the Cathedral Library of Merseburg, in a tenth-century hand.  The manuscript is probably from Fulda, and the dialect is Rhein-Franconian, with Fulda being very near the eastern border of this dialect.  Since their content is pre-Christian, the incantations must be much earlier in origin than the tenth century, although in their present form they belong to this period.  They are our only literary relics from Germany's pagan period, since Christianity completely replaced the shaman-god Wodan with Christ and extirpated all traces of heathen antiquity wherever it found them.

Matronis: Pro Fuga ex Captivitate

To the Mother-Goddesses: For Flight from the Clutches of the Enemy
Eris  sazun  idisi,
Once  sat    mother-goddesses

sazun hera duoder sat hither thither

Suma haft heftidun Some fetters bound (= Some tied bonds)

suma heri lezidun; some war-troops delayed (= impeded the troops);

Suma clubodun Some plucked away

umbi kuna-widi: at emprisoning-ropes:

Intsprinc haft-bandun! Spring out of (the) fetter-bonds!

Intfar wigandun! Escape from (the) warriors!


Wodani et Diis Ceteris:  Pro Pede Luxato Curando

To Wodan and Other Gods: For the Cure of a Sprained Leg
Phol                     ende  Wodan
Foal (= Balder's horse)  and   Wôôden

fuorun zi holza. rode to forest.

Du wart demo Balderes folon There was for Balder's foal

sin fuoz birenkit. his foot wrenched (= sprained his leg).

Thu biguol en Sinthgunt, There chanted-over him Sinthgunt,

Sunna era swister; Sunna (the Sun-goddess) her sister;

Thu biguol en Friia, There chanted-over him Frye,

Folla era swister; Fullness her sister;

Thu biguol en Wodan, There chanted-over him Wôôden,

so he wola conda: as he well knew-how:

Sose ben-renki, As bone-wrenching,

sose bluot-renki, as blood-wrenching

sose lidi-renki: as limb-wrenching:

Ben zi bena, Bone to bone,

bluot zi bluoda, blood to blood,

lid ze geliden: limb to limbs:

Sose gelimida sin! Thus glued-together be!

*** Names of the Gods ***

Wodan - Modern German would be Wuten, but usually "Wotan" is used; from Gothic "Wodans," "Master of those who are woð" (shamanically possessed), "Lord of the Shamans," from woð, "shamanically possessed, raving mad," and the ending "-an-" (often also "-en-"), "lord or master of."  The religion of the ancient Germanic peoples centered around shamanism, the practice of undertaking "otherworld journeys" or "Near-Death Experiences" by a religious specialist.  Hence the chief deity was the shaman in divine form.

Balder - Wodan's son, destined to die by a mistletoe dart and to spend the rest of time until the end of the world in the underworld of the dead.

Folla - "Fullness"; goddess of Plenty

Friia, from the Proto-Germanic verb *frijôn “to love”; - goddess of Love (of all sorts) and wife/consort of Wodan.

Sunna, "Sun" - goddess of the Sun and Light.

Sinthgunt (i.e., Sinþ-gunt, from Proto-Germanic *Sinþ-gund “Path of Battle”), - goddess of the Road to War.

Ðese incantations were translated by Þeedrich ( Last modified 1998 Nov 27.
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