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Spanish traditions in St John’s night: the Galician queimada and its spell. Posted by on Jun 27, 2013 in Spanish Culture

Hi all!

Some days ago we welcome summer in this part of the world, and we also celebrated St John’s night (or witches’ night) burning good wishes and bad memories, washing our faces in rivers or natural springs to keep our beauty, and trying to find out our future using eggs (read more about all these traditions here).

As you all know, most Spanish celebrations have a typical food or drink associated to them, and that is the case of St John and the queimada. This is a traditional Galician beverage made from orujo or aguardiente (strong alcoholic liquor distilled from wine and grape or herbs pressings), orange or lemon peels and sugar as main ingredients. Some people also add coffee beans, fruit chunks or cinnamon. I have never made it myself, but I know that you have to burn it slowly in a clay pot. When it is set alight, it shows beautiful blue flames.

Every 23rd of June, during the preparation of the queimada, you have to recite the ‘conxuro da queimada’, (the spell of queimada), a poem that provides protection against black magic and witches, and keeps bad spirits away.

I’m afraid I’m a bit late for this year’s St John’s night, but here you have the spell for the next one.

Búhos, lechuzas, sapos y brujas;
Demonios, duendes y diablos;
espíritus de las vegas llenas de niebla,
cuervos, salamandras y hechiceras;
y todos los hechizos de las curanderas.
Podridos leños agujereados,
hogar de gusanos y alimañas,
fuego de la Santa Compaña,
mal de ojo, negros maleficios;
hedor de los muertos, truenos y rayos;
hocico de sátiro y pata de conejo;
aullido de perro, pregonero de la muerte.Pecadora lengua de mala mujer
casada con un hombre viejo;
Averno de Satán y Belcebú,
fuego de cadáveres ardientes,
fuegos fatuos de la noche de San Silvestre,
cuerpos mutilados de los indecentes,
y pedos de los infernales culos…

Rugir del mar embravecido,
presagio de naufragios,
vientre estéril de mujer soltera,
maullar de gatos en busca gatas en celo,
melena sucia de cabra mal parida
y cuernos retorcidos de castrón…

Con este cazo
elevaré las llamas de este fuego
similar al del Infierno
y las brujas quedarán purificadas
de todas sus maldades.
Algunas huirán
a caballo de sus escobas
para irse a sumergir
en el mar de Finisterre.

¡Escuchad! ¡Escuchad estos rugidos…!
Son las brujas que se están purificando
en estas llamas espirituales…
Y cuando este delicioso brebaje
baje por nuestras gargantas,
también todos nosotros quedaremos libres
de los males de nuestra alma
y de todo maleficio.

¡Fuerzas del aire, tierra, mar y fuego!
a vosotros hago esta llamada:
si es verdad que tenéis más poder
que los humanos,
limpiad de maldades nuestra tierra.

Owls, barn owls, toads and witches.
Demons, goblins and devils,
spirits of the misty vales.
Crows, salamanders and midges,
charms of the folk healer(ess).
Rotten pierced canes,
home of worms and vermin.
Wisps of the Holy Company,
evil eye, black witchcraft,
scent of the dead, thunder and lightning.
maws of the satyr and foot of the rabbit.
howl of the dog, omen of death.Sinful tongue of the bad woman
married to an old man.
Satan and Beelzebub’s Inferno,
fire of the burning corpses,
will-o’-the-wisp on the night of St Sylvester
mutilated bodies of the indecent ones,
farts of the infernal asses.

Roar of the enraged sea,
of shipwreck omen,
useless belly of the unmarried woman,
speech of the cats in heat,
dirty turf of the wicked born goat
and twisted horn of the billy-goat.

With this pot
I will pump the flames of this fire
which looks like that from Hell,
and witches will be `purified
from all their misdeeds.
Some of them will flee
riding their brooms,
going to bathe
in the Finisterre sea.

Hear! Hear the roars
They are the witches purifying themselves
in these spiritual flames
And when this beverage
goes down our throats,
we will get free of the evil
of our soul
and of any charm.

Forces of air, earth, sea and fire,
to you I make this call:
if it’s true that you have more power
than people,
clean from wrongdoing our land.

¡Hola a todos!

Hace unos días dábamos la bienvenida al verano en esta parte del mundo, y también celebramos la noche de San Juán (o noche de brujas) quemando buenos deseos y malos recuerdos, lavando nuestras caras en ríos o fuentes naturales para mantener la belleza, e intentando averiguar nuestro futuro usando huevos.

Como sabéis, casi todas las celebraciones españolas tienen un plato o bebida típicos asociados a ellas, y este es el caso de San Juán y la queimada. Es esta una bebida tradicional gallega hecha con orujo o aguardiente, cáscaras de naranja o limón y azúcar como ingredientes principales. Alguna gente también pone granos de café, trozos de fruta o canela. Yo nunca la he preparado, pero sé que hay que quemarla a fuego lento en una cazuela de barro. Cuando se emprende, muestra unas preciosas llamas azules.

Cada 23 de junio, durante la preparación de la queimada, tenéis que recitar el conjuro de la queimada, un poema que protege contra la magia negra y las brujas, y mantiene a los malos espíritus lejos.

Me temo que llego un poco tarde para esta noche de San Juan, pero aquí tenéis el conjuro para el próximo año.

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About the Author: Magda

Hi all! I’m Magda, a Spanish native speaker writing the culture posts in the Transparent Language Spanish blog. I have a Bachelor’s in English Philology and a Master’s in Linguistics and Literature from the University of Granada, in Spain. I have also completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, and then worked as an English teacher in several schools and academies for several years. Last year was my first at university level. In addition, I work as a private tutor, teaching English and Spanish as a foreign language to students and adults. In my free time, I’m an avid reader and writer, editing and collaborating in several literary blogs. I have published my first poetry book recently. And last but not least, I love photography!


Comments:

  1. andreas:

    ¡Hola Magda!
    ¡Qué conjuro más interesante! Se ve muy bien su origen popular, por lo fisiológico que es.
    Gracias por el blog
    Andreas

    • Magda:

      @andreas Si que lo es… la magia y las religiones paganas todavía sobreviven en tradiciones así de curiosas.
      ¡Gracias a ti por seguirnos Andreas!

  2. Olivia harlow:

    This night is almost like Halloween in America, except that we don’t try to tell our future with eggs and that we don’t put out faces in water to stay youthful. We also don’t use spells, but we do go around to houses to gather candy while dressed in scary costumes, which is in a way like how you guys say poems to keep the dark magic away. It’s two different ways of celebrating a certain day that revolves around monsters and black magic.