Charms against Sprains

Edited by

D. L. Ashliman

Copyright 1997-2021


  1. Cure for the Sprain (Ireland).

  2. Sprain Thread (Ireland).

  3. Straining Thread (Ireland).

  4. The Wristing or Wresting Thread (Orkney Islands).

  5. When a Person Has Received a Sprain (Shetland Islands).

  6. Link to the second Merseburg Incantation -- Merseburger Zauberspruch -- (Germany). Opens in a new window.

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Cure for the Sprain


A number of people in this district have this cure.

The injured joint is rubbed with the bare hand, no oil or salve is used. The "doctor" repeats some words under his breath which one does not hear and which are guarded jealously as a family secret. Three visits are made by the patient to get this cure. It is usually a success. People who have this cure:

  1. David Wales,
    Crappagh (age: 62 years),
    Doohat P O,
    Co. Monaghan.

  2. Mrs. Catherine Monahan,
    Crover (age: 75 years),

Miss A. Abbott,
Parish of Ematris,
Barony of Dartrey.
(age 70 yrs.)

Sprain Thread


Thomas McHale of Belcarra died last year (1937) aged 86 years. He was a weaver.

He always had a quantity of the sprain thread ready in the house. If a person sprained an ankle or anything, that person would go to Thomas and say "Thomas I got a hurt," but never ask him for the thread.

Or somebody else would go instead of him: but in no circumstance must the thread be asked for.

Thomas would understand, and give him a piece of the sprain thread. That piece of thread would be tied round the hurt limb, and the limb would get alright. It was only a piece of the wool-thread that the weaver used in to the loom.

Pieces of the sprain thread have often been sent to England to cure boys from Belcarra district who suffered from sprain in England where they went to work.

Information from Thomas McHale.

Micheál Ó Gealbháin.

Straining Thread


The "straining thread," a thin thread of hemp made with certain prayers, now lost, is usually kept for a cure for sprains and strains. Not every one made them. A local weaver named Murray used to make them. He is dead thirty years or so.

Informant: M. McGlynn, aged 45.

Killynagh More, County Roscommon.

The Wristing or Wresting Thread

Orkney Islands (Sanday)

The following charm was used for the cure of sprains. A linen thread is tied around the injured part, after the solemn repetion of the charm:
Our Savior rade,
His fore-foot slade;
Our Savior lichtit down.
Sinew to sinew, vein to vein,
Joint to joint, and bane to bane,
Mend thou in God's name!
During the time of repeating this charm nine knots must be tied on the thread, at regular distances, and to ensure success the charm should be repeated at every knot.

When a Person Has Received a Sprain

Shetland Islands

When a person has received a sprain, it is customary to apply to an individual practiced in casting the "wresting thread." This is a thread spun from black wool, on which are cast nine knots, and tied round a sprained leg or arm. During the time the operator is putting the thread round the affected limb, he says, but in such a tone of voice as not to be heard by the bystanders, nor even by the person operated upon:
The Lord rade,
And the foal slade;
He lighted.
And he righted.
Set joint to joint,
Bone to bone,
And sinew to sinew.
Heal in the Holy Ghost's Name!

Revised May 1, 2021.