Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/163

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Its Structure and Development. 139

to find that in an ancient floral vocabulary Rue should be entered as the floral sign or emblem of the " Fecundity of Fields" {Dierbach, Flojm Mytliologica der Griechen und R'dmer).

Very many other virtues have at various times been ascribed to Rue, but these in my opinion have for the most part nothing whatever to do with the cimaruta as at present used in Southern Italy. Amongst other pro- perties is its utility in cases of madness and nightmare/ and, according to the teaching of the Salerno School, it clears the sight as well as the perceptions of the mind. The association of the herb with the Sun and the constellation Leo, briefly alluded to by Culpeper^ {English Physitian Enlarged^ 1656, p. 324), has an astrological significance probably foreign to those asso- ciations with the Moon which are our more immediate concern.

The silver Rue-sprig, then, as the basis of the cimaruta is potent as the more or less realistic representation of the part of the rue-plant or the material curative agent con- cerned with fertility and child-birth. It represents the influence of the lunar deity, and although but rarely found as a simple amulet, it forms the foundation of a compound charm in which its virtues are enhanced by the addition of the emblems to be next described.

It will be noticed that the majority of the conjoined

35), known as the Alphita, we read " Ruta menstruis imperat comesta et bibita. Item ruta cuius triplex est materies, s. domestica et silvestris, cuius semen piganum dicitur ; foliis et semine utimur." Compare also the earlier descriptions accompanying the excellent coloured illustration of rue in Bodl. MS. 130 f. 27 (circ. A.D. 1 100). This MS. was written in England, perhaps in the Abbey of Bury St. Edmund's, to which it belonged in the 14th century.

^ An explanation is given by W. Coles, the Herbalist, in Adarii and Eve, 1657, p. 45. He wrote : "I know not what religion Crollius was of: but he saith, that the signe of the Crosse which is upon the seed ; or rather, as I sup- pose, the flower of Rue driveth away all Phantasms, and evill Spirits, by Signature."

^Gerard, too, affirms rue to be "hot and drie " {Herbal, 1597).