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Some Breton Love Spells

Spells to attract that most elusive of treasure, true love, have been noted in disparate cultures across the world since the earliest times. It is therefore no surprise that in the Brittany of yesterday, spells and charms to inspire romantic desire were also once quite widespread.

Consumed with hard work from before dawn to after dusk, opportunities for young people to meet and mix with folk outside their immediate neighbourhood were largely limited to communal events such as weddings, fairs, saints’ pardons and church services. If one was fortunate enough to have found someone that quickened their heart, the challenge then lay in trusting in their sincerity and to the depth of their devotion.

Love Spells - Brittany

In Brittany, pins, coins, bread and even broken pottery were once popularly used at sacred springs in the quest to find true love. Different sites had their own rituals but people traditionally took an omen from the behaviour of the cast item falling through or floating on the water. Superstitious rituals thought to reveal the identity of a future spouse or to confirm the length of time that separated one from a suitable marriage abounded here.

Witchcraft and religion were both called upon by the superstitious and the devout to help influence life’s key moments and securing a lasting love, or at least a partnership that endured, was one of the most important concerns for the Bretons of earlier centuries. While some hopeful couples might visit the local witch to receive their views on the suitability of any proposed match and associated dowry, many young men and women were happy to trust to tradition and their ability to cast the spell that harvested true love.

Love spells - Brittany

In the south-east of the region, it was recommended to catch a green frog and to place it in a small box pierced with a few holes. It seems unlikely that these holes were to allow a little ventilation because it was then necessary to bury the box inside an anthill. Recovering the box after the passage of three nights, whatever remained of the frog needed to be dried under the sun before being carefully ground into a powder. It was then only necessary for this powder to be thrown over the object of one’s affections for the spell to be cast.

Another charm from eastern Brittany, designed to make the heart of your loved one more inclined to reciprocate your feelings, called for one to contrive to get the other person to touch a Ribwort Plantain. This plant then needed to be folded into a little linen pouch that was then worn around the neck of the spell-caster in expectation of a fairly speedy return of affection. Similarly, the ashes of a burnt branch of mistletoe, stored in a pouch worn close to one’s skin was also believed to attract a true love to the wearer.

Love Spells - Brittany

Other plants could be called upon to help stoke the fires of desire, such as the sundew; an uncommon carnivorous plant often known as morning dew. This plant was said to possess the ability to cure almost all disease, while the person who possessed it was believed to wield an irresistible attraction to those of the opposite sex.

One of the simplest traditional spells used to attract love here consisted of heating a red apple by rubbing it vigorously between one’s hands, cutting the fruit in two and sharing one half with the object of one’s affections. Although if a woman wanted to ensure her suitor loved her sincerely, it was recommended that she put a walnut leaf, picked on Midsummer’s Eve, in her left sabot while the Nones bell was ringing at about three o’clock in the afternoon.

Love Spells - Brittany

One old ritual, once noted throughout the region, counselled the woman whose love for a man remained unrequited to somehow make him eat a morsel of bread that she had baked herself with a little of her menstrual blood. It is worth noting that hen dung was thought the best antidote to such a philtre.

Another charm recommended for those whose love was unrequited required them to gather some elecampane before sunrise on Midsummer’s Day and thoroughly dry the plant’s leaves. Once crushed, the powdered leaves needed to be mixed with a little ambergris and worn in an amulet around the neck for nine days. All that then remained was for the spell-caster to convince the object of their desire to eat, without being aware of doing so, a little of this concoction three times.

Love Spells - Brittany

Some love spells were noted especially for men seeking the love of a woman. One noted ritual to gain the love of a woman of any social standing, required the spell-caster to note when a mare was born of a foal and to be prepared to immediately cut a piece of flesh from its forehead and dry it, from noon precisely, under the sun on Jupiter’s day (Thursday). After collecting the dried flesh at the death of the sun, the spell-caster had only to grind it into a powder and feed it to the object of his affections to be assured of success.

Another spell to win the love of a woman required the caster to collect the intimate secretions of a mare on heat and to somehow convince the lady of his dreams to drink this fluid. Having swallowed this marvellous drink, the lady was said to immediately want to join with the spell caster. This charm was held to be effective on any day of the week, except Friday.

Love Spell - Brittany

A more wholesome charm recommended that the potential suitor visited the woman he loved for three days in a row; on each occasion, taking her hand while declaring: “I beg you X, to love me and no other, and to grant me the same friendship that the Virgin Mary bore to Our Lord Jesus Christ”. Religious notions were also brought to bear in another, seemingly innocent sounding spell that began with the spell-caster tearing out a hair from the front of his beloved’s head. This prize achieved, it was then necessary for him to knot it with his own hair between the two elevations performed during a Friday mass while invoking the charm: “Deus dixit quae ligatum” (God has declared what was bound).

Alternatively, a spell for a lovelorn woman called for her to take a lock of the desired man’s hair and offer it three times to the altar of a certain chapel with a lighted candle and then plait it with a lock of her own hair.

Love Spells - Brittany

Many of Brittany’s old spells and traditional folk remedies once ascribed a mysterious, magical power to knots of hair and finger nail cuttings; in central Brittany, nail cuttings absorbed in water were once believed to cure a fever but one Breton spell book assures us that a lady will return her suitor’s affections if she consumes a drink containing the cuttings of his finger nails.

However, the strongest love potion was thought made from a compound of marjoram, myrtle, thyme and verbena; the dried leaves were ground into a fine powder and administered as a snuff.  The potion was believed most effective if the constituent plants had been collected by the spell-caster themselves during the course of a single Midsummer’s Day. Another compound once said to have been equally effective was a love potion composed of water or cider infused with the powder of a bone taken from a fresh grave or, if obtainable, ground cantharides.

Love spells - Tristan - Brittany

There were, of course, myriad other rituals employed to retain the love of one’s spouse or to ensure marital fidelity and even to know whether one was truly loved by their partner. In common with the majority of the aforementioned spells, for the magic to be effective it was essential that the rituals were not seen by anyone else and were kept secret. As some might know, trusting the secrets of one’s heart to another can lead to an awfully big adventure!


Published by Bon Repos Gites

Enjoying life in Kalon Breizh - the Heart of Brittany.

164 thoughts on “Some Breton Love Spells

  1. Fascinating, a bit over-the-top love potions, but very well-told. In Costa Rica in the very rural areas you still see people going to “curanderos”to make them love potions. In Jordan, , people protect themselves, by throwing all nail clippings in the toilet, just in case someone has the idea to use them to make a potion for nefarious purposes. As always, I thoroughly enjoyed:)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I know what you mean – some are gloriously outrageous but some, like the apple, are almost childishly innocent. 😉 The nail-clipping thing is something that I have heard before and also applicable to teeth in some areas. It’s fascinating how such practices have somehow survived to this day! I wonder for how much longer? 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh wow, the path of true love was a complex and serious business back in the day! I’m glad methods have moved on- well, I hope they have- I wouldn’t like to find out I’d been on the receiving end of some of those spells!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Haha, yes, it seems that true love was as elusive then as now! Some things never change but, like you, I am happy that some of the trappings have been allowed to fade away! 😉


  3. I like sharing an apple 🍎 … I like that one

    I would never serve bread I make with what you say on it. I should not be surprised – but kinda am … makes you wonder who thought of these things ?

    Eww and not drinking horse semen either 😝 I will stick with the apple 🍎

    Just share an apple 🍎 sweetly, be sincere and be kind – then I be under spell without drinking or sniffing or anything else with weird things lol

    I do appreciate the time era we live in!!! 😘

    I love to hear what they thought though – and really makes you think about time back then 😮

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Agreed!!! The apple is beautifully simple and innocent. Especially compared to some of the very outlandish alternatives! I knoiw they say finding love is not easy but I would take the apple rather than horse secretions anyday!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Was a nice Monday actually ❤️

        Lol – your spell check was sleeping – I am only teasing – I could not resist ❤️👏

        Ahhhh yes – perhaps good week ? Hopefully goodness is the theme 🙏🙏🙏

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha, oh dear, yes, fast asleep on the job! 🙄😔

        Well, that is encouraging, especially given how horrible some of your Mondays have been this year! Here’s hoping the rest of the week just gets better and better! 🙏🤞😊

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes – but was also a holiday here for everyone else (Presidents day 🙄)

        Double time yesterday so yeah was good Monday lol

        I have a lot of appointments this week for many things … for location, training and vehicles and things

        I wish there was a hearse emoji 🖤

        I think be good week? 🙏 let’s pray lol

        Monday went very nicely 😊❤️

        To a good week – 🥂 🙏🙏🙏 it has a chill vibe this week 👏🙌 let’s hope I not speak too soon 😮 get ahead of myself lol

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Definitely the strongest potion, please, not the nail clippings.
    Ribbed plantain used to be abundant, wiped out with glyphosate by local famers – sheep won’t eat it.
    Almost everything else too, . Only grass allowed to grow.
    No longer in the EU , thiamethoxam’s allowed too.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That is interesting to know! I shall ask about here to see if the same was true locally. In some districts ribbed plantain was known as fairy grass because it was said to have been stitched together by them! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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