Nick Laird reads
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Here's the thing: your lands will spring to life again if blight or curse is set on them through poisoning or witchery or worse--but only if you follow me faithfully in this. At night, before the dawn, rise and spade four turfs from the edges of your acreage and mind precisely whence you take them. Then obtain some honey, oil and barm and a drop from every milch that pastures on your fields, and a splinter from the trunk of every species of the trees that grow upon your holding--except for hardwood beams-- and scratchings from the plants you have which have a name, apart from buckbean. Then add a stir of holy water to the crock and drip, drip, the mixture carefully upon the belly of the sods, and say, Widen, heighten multiply, and fill this earth onto its limit. Be blessed in the trinity of father, son and sacred spirit. Recite the Paternoster, and afterward transport the sodden turfs to church, and pay the priests to say four masses and let the clods' green surfaces be turned toward the alterpiece, and let them then be carried to your acres-- but before you rest the turfs back in their scars, have four crosses carved from the rowan, to represent our Savior, and on the first score Matthew's, the second Mark's, and the third Luke's, the fourth John's, and set each crucifix down gently in its divot, saying Matthew's Cross and Mark's and Luke's and the cross of Holy John. Then take the turfs and settle them before sunset and say at least nine times, Widen, heighten . . . as before, and so on, and repeat the Paternoster just as often, and turn against the west, and bow nine times and say Eastward I stand, and favors entreat. I call the illustrious ones to yield, the earth I beseech and each of her keepers I summon to this field; Mary, Christ, the blessèd Lord. Into your ears this glamour I pour. From my teeth I speak each word and will not fail: the blooms are sure to bloom once more, the fruits to fruit, the earth grow whole and full again, for worldly use, for us again, still plentifull-- even as the prophet tells lack of flavor on the realm till, following His fearful will, they re-allot the alms. Then turn yourself three times in lnie with the running sun and stretch out on the ground and speak the litanies again, Saying Holy, holy, holy to the end: then chant The Benedicte with your arms out wide, and the Magnificant, and offer to the sainted Mary, the Holy Cross, to Jesus Christ, the Paternoster, twice. in adoration, reverence, flattery and praise; and for yourself, the tenantry, persuade; and for the churls who work the soil beneath your soles, prevail. When all of that has been discharged, take seeds from the almsmen in the churchyard, and give them double what you took, then gather all your ploughing gear in the one place together and drill a hole, deep, in the crossroad of the plough beams and pour in hallowed salve and salt, frankincense and fennel seeds. Then set the beggar's seeds out along the body of the plough, and say Erce! Erce! Our earth-mother, let your barley and your spelt emerge in some new splendor. Let your emmer and your wheat rise up straight-backed forever. Let crops crop, and seeds seed, and the yield yield to me. Let God and every saint in heaven grant my acres fortified against all slant adversaries, their foul goetic means, their demonry, their one-eyed spite, the sortilege and jealousy abroad like roches in the night. I pray to Him who made this place no woman deft in conjuration or man adept in talk and cunning may halt the words I here unloose. Then plough the plough, and break the furrow, saying I praise the earth, the turf I hail, the silt I stirred up I applaud; the sod, the clod, the dirt, the soil the loam and clay I dig I laud. I praise the use we put its fruits to, commend provender, vittles, vivers, whatever's lowered in on hook to hang and blacken in the smokehouse, whatever's threshed or dried or milled whatever's plucked or picked or caught, whatever's raw or boiled or killed, I consecrate, I celebrate, I eat. Then take flour of every make and bake a loaf to fit your hands, kneading it with sacred water and a little milk before you stow it in the furrow, saying Let vines incline and salmon churn the suface of the lough. Let wheat-fields saw in sun-warmed breezes bearing seeds aloft. Ours is the earth, and consecrated in the name of Him who loved so much He made the land on which we stand and skies to turn above us. May He forgive enough to grant what's inside the clay comes good. May He rain, and may He shine and may He send forth shoots. Then say thrice, Widen, heighten, multiply . . . and remember to do all this in the name of our Father and the Son etc., Amen, and then repeat the Paternoster another three times again. Listen to John Niles read "Field Remedy" in its original Old English Listen to more readings from The Word Exchange »