‘If Not, Shall Employ “Rough on Rats”’: Identifying the Common Elements of Rat Charms

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In the standard literature we find various references to several charms against rats. Most of these charms are direct invocations of saints, predominantly Saint Gertrude of Nivelles and Saint Nicasius. St. Gertrude is associated with rodents through her devotion to souls in purgatory; rats are often seen as representatives of human souls, so she is often represented with rodents on her garments. Traditions surrounding Saint Nicasius are rather more obscure, but he is ‘celebrated … as an enemy of rats’.1 In the course of my research I also became aware of a group of charms directed at the rats themselves, and with a rather more secular tone. These will form the main subject of this chapter.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCharms, Charmers and Charming
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Research on Verbal Magic
EditorsJonathan Roper
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Print)978-0-230-55184-8
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2008

Publication series

NamePalgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2731-5649


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