The Wið Ymbe Charm

In this charm we see the power of earth being used, but it is not an appeal to the Earth Mother as in some other charms. Here it is the speaker who is the active agent, using earth or soil to empower his words. He “captures” this power by throwing it down and holding it securely under his foot. This power is of a calming or grounding quality.Once the soil has been charmed, it is cast over the bees. At this point the bees are addressed directly. This charm was included to further illustrate the animist perspective in traditional Anglo-Saxon culture.

The bees are not seen simply as “things”; they are beings who the speaker can appeal to. He addresses them as war-women and tells them to settle down, as if appealing to an unruly crowd. This personal interaction with the bees is not unlike the personal interactions with various botanicals in the Nine Herbs Charm and in fact draws parallels with the Wælcyrigean who exhibit similar characteristics and were said to wield spears, not unlike bees. Both reveal a world view in which plants and animals are perceived as sentient and responsive entities, possibly even the hosts for powerful wihta and thus worthy of our respect and consideration.

Wið ymbe: nim eorþan, oferweorp mid þinre
swiþran handa under þinum swiþran fet and cwet:

Fo ic under fot, funde ic hit.
Hwæt, eorðe mæg wið ealra wihta gehwilce
and wið andan and wið æminde
and wið þa micelan mannes tungan.

And wiðon forweorp ofer greot,
þonne hi swirman, and cweð:

Sitte ge sigewif, sigað to eorþan.
Næfre ge wilde to wuda fleogan.
Beo ge swa gemindige mines godas,
swa bið manna gewhilc metes and eðeles.


Against a bee-swarm: take earth, throw it with your
right hand under your right foot and say:

I take this under my foot, [as] I found it.
Lo! Earth has power against all creatures
and against grudge and against envy
and against the mighty tongue of man.

And with this, throw grit over them when they swarm and say;

Sit, victory-women, sink to the earth!
Never may you fly wild into the woods.
Be as mindful of my good
As any man may be of his food and home.

Credit: Stephen Pollington, Alaric Albertsson