Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Passing through Holes

Old and widespread European traditions ascribe magical and healing effects to passing through holes. In Sweden passing children through a hole in a tree was called Smöjning, and in the far north it survived until recent times. The older traditions suggest Smöjning for changelings, but in the twentieth century it was mainly done for respiratory conditions. This photograph is from the 1930s.

A famous Smöjtrad, or Smöjning tree.

Children could also be passed through holes in the ground, which in Sweden was called Jorddragning.

In the Celtic world the traditions mainly focus on stones, such as the famous Men-a-Tol of Cornwall. Here adults often crawled through the stone holes themselves, seeking either cures or forgiveness of sins. Of Men-a-Tol it was said that if you could crawl through without touching it, you would never get rheumatism.

All of these pictures are from Magical Medicine by Wayland Debs Hand.

3 comments:

Shadow Flutter said...

"Of Men-a-Tol it was said that if you could crawl through without touching it, you would never get rheumatism."

Or get your suit dirty.

G. Verloren said...

I seem to recall the same sort of thing occurs in Asia as well, with I think certain Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples making traditions out of passing through holes in trees, rocks, and even old statues, in addition to the less specific emphasis on passing through less hole-like openings like torii and similar gateways.

I imagine any culture which places emphasis on demarcation of one area from another would have this sort of general appreciation for passage through portals.

Katya said...

I myself have crawled through that Men-a-Tol hole.

No rheumatism yet.