Five medieval love spells

Marco Ponzi
Feb 19, 2019 · 4 min read
Darmstadt Hs 2505, Speculum Humanae Salvationis, 1360 ca

Ms Plutei 89 Sup.38, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Florence, is a large collection of magical texts written in the XV Century. f298v and f299r contain five love spells. Four of them are written in Italian, while the most complex is written in Latin.

Transcription: Ad amorem
Scrive sopra de uno pomo questi nomi cum uno
stile o cum una aco nova, in modo non
se veda la scriptura: poy dalo a mangiare
a chi te piace:

Translation: For love
Write these names on an apple, using
a stylus or a new needle, so that the
writing cannot be seen: then give it
to eat to the person you like.
[a list of characters follows]

Transcription: Ad amorem
Scrivi queste karatole e porta cum techo allo bracio
dextro e seray amato dali signori e dalle

Translation: For love
Write these characters and wear them on your right
arm: you will be loved by lords and by
[a list of characters follows]

Transcription: Ad amorem
Scrive questi signi in carta vergine et cautissime
secreto modo porta tecum

Translation: For Love
Write these signs on virgin paper and, carefully
and in secret, take them with you.
[a list of characters follows]

The following is the most complex of the five spells; it is the only one written in Latin. The spell is preceded by “Yhs”, an abbreviation for “Yesus” / “Jesus”. The word to be spoken when performing the ritual is represented by an abbreviation that I have rendered as “n+” in my transcription: it likely stands for the name (“nomen”) of the person to whom the ritual is directed. A second abbreviation that I couldn’t read occurs twice in the text, but context makes the meaning more or less obvious.

Transcription: Yhs / Ad amorem / liber[?]
Recipe cera virginea et de ipsa fac b[ene] cuiuscumque vis
cum omnibus suis membris: postea habeas unum gallum
martiolinum si est homo, si erit mulier accipe galli-
nam, et extrae sibi cor, dicendo n+ continue suffimigationes
et eum ponas in ymagine loco cordis dicendo n+. postea
scribe in pectore ipsisus ymaginis nomen quem desideras cum
una acu nova: postea habeas novem acus novas
et ubi vis quod illa persona per quem feteris n+ doleat
pone unam infra[?] illis in illo loco in ymagine. et quando vis
ut non doleat […?] acum. et amplius non dolebit et
caveas ne tangas cor ipsius in ymagine. quia si tetigis
illum per quem n+ infallibiliter moriet incontinenti.

Translation: Jesus / For love [from a book?]
Take virgin wax and with it accurately reproduce [the figure of] the person you want
with all his/her limbs. Then take a cock
born in March[?], if the person is a man, or a hen, if a woman.
Extract its heart, saying “n+ [the name of the person]” and with continuous fumigations,
and put it in the place of the heart of the figure, saying “n+ [the name]”. Then
write on the chest of the figure the name of the person you desire, using a
new needle. Then take nine new needles.
If you want to cause pain to the person for whom you said “n+ [the name]”,
put one of those [needles] in the corresponding place in the figure; when you want
that the person stops suffering, remove[?] the needle; and the person will suffer no more.
Be careful not to touch the heart of the figure: if you touch the heart with it,
“n+” will infallibly and immediately die.

Transcription: Ad amorem
Primo luna crescente in die Veneris in ortu solis habi preparato
uno poco de carta vergine et piglia del tuo san-
gue del dito anulario dela mano dextra
et scribe sopra della ditta carta cum ditto san-
gue lo segno infrascripto cum lo nome della
amata, et de sua madre cum una penna de
ocho maschio dell’ala dextra et metilo ados-
so o vero fallo metere che ley non lo sapia: lo signo

Translation: For love
In the first day of the waxing moon, in the day of Venus, when the Sun is rising, you will have prepared
a leaflet of virgin paper. Take some of your blood
from the ring finger of your right hand
and write on the paper with your blood
the sign reproduced below, together with the names of
your beloved and her mother. [Write] with a feather from
the right wing of a male goose. Wear [the leaflet],
or make her wear it without knowing it. The sign:
[the “Sator Arepo” square follows]


Botanical manuscripts and other old stuff. I am an amateur, not a palaeographer.

Marco Ponzi

Written by


Botanical manuscripts and other old stuff. I am an amateur, not a palaeographer.

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