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This is the main blog for the fellowship Comhaltacht na nGaedheal: Cairdreabh nan GĂ idheal. Edited and managed by Rob Barton

Charm bags

Gaelic culture and religion.Posted by Rob Barton Fri, November 11, 2016 01:12PM
So we know that in the late 1800s some of the Irish were making charm bags. They were described as small about the size of a hazel nut so that they could be easily concealed about the person. They were, in some places, secretly sewn into wedding dresses. Often to the ends of protection from unpleasant Fairies. Cool right? (If you work with Fair Folk I do not recommend using things that they find offensive - seems like a no-brainer but yeah, that.)

We don't have a lot of descriptions of how they were made and the best source that I know of is from James Mooney 'Medical Mythology of Ireland' 1887. But he does tell us a few of the things that might end up on there like dirt or dust... and.... wait for it........ chicken poop. Seems that fairies are not fond of the dirty little animals and well poop is as dirty as it gets. Frankly if you tell me that you have chicken poop.... or really any kind of poop in your pocket, I'll avoid you also. Note that I try to make nice with the Good Folk and so I do not place anything designed to repel or offend them in my bags.

Things that you might consider adding:
iron (might bug the Fairies)
little brass safety pins (Lugh has a relationship here)
Tiny hagstones
other things that have meaning to you.

Most folks in our Poball have made one of these and, I presume, carry them. Here's me making one. In the first pic I have a little round patch of leather cut from a chamois, in the centre. At noon we see a waxed string, at one is holy water collected at the end of our local rites, at two we see a jar of Irish sea salt, at three there is a bag of charcoal from our sacred fire, next is a bag of Irish peat and finally a little silver bead (skull) at six.

Second pic, a bit of everything has been placed on the patch and wet with a few drops of the water. A piece of string has been cut to bind it. I bind it with the waxed string into the little bundle that you see in the final pic. I say a few words (make up your own) for what I want it to represent and attract or repel. Splash some whiskey in a cup for the house spirits and..... Bob's your uncle.