Enemies And Friends Of Man I

FATE, RELIEF, GOOD FORTUNETHE PARCAEUrsitoarele (the Fates, the Parcae), also called ursitori, ursători, ursite, ursoi, ursoaice or ursoni, or Mire by the Macedo-Romanians, or albe, harasite, caşmete or hrioase by the Neo-Greeks and Bulgarians are known as three virgins or fairies in some cultures or "seven women" or even "nine women" who depict the fate of mortals. They tailor the fate of the new borns, during their first night on Earth. In some other traditions, the Parcae weave the fate of mortals along the first three nights, others during the third night only or in the odd nights: the third, the fifth, the seventh or even the eighth. The following history about the Parcae spreads all over the land of Făgăraş. Versions of this story are also present on other territories, where pixies are the leading characters:"When Alexander the Great went to Heaven, he met there a king, Ioan by his name, sitting on his throne, his feet sunken in boiled spring water. When asked about the nature of his behaviour, the king answered that the water used in this way rewards him with the gift of youth.Alexander the Great asked the king for some of that water and he preserved carefully what he had received. In spite of his caution, his two servants stole the water from him, and ever since they stayed young, in full awareness of the mortals' fortune. And when a baby is born they weave its fate." In some other parts of the country, people believe that there are three Parcae and they all live in a house, guarding the votive lights of human life. They are said to feed on stolen meat. Here is the respective story, as it is told in Tecuci:"Every night, a shepherd was stolen a lamb from his flock, without having the slightest suspicion on anybody who might have done such a thing.No dog barking, no other noises coming from outside! Who could that be? None other than one of the Parcae, 'cause they feast on stolen meat. All right, then.One night, the shepherd was on watch.When the midnight hour arrived, a woman jumped over the fence right into his flock, grabbed a lamb and prepared her escape.'Stop! the shepherd shouted. You're so dead right now! Reveal your name or else I'll kill you.'And the woman responded:'Do not point the gun at me, my lad. I'll take good care of you.''How can you do that after all? Who are you?''I am Ursitoare (a Parca) and I am the master of your life. If you spare my life, I'll take good care of you. If you don't, you'll go straight to hell!'The shepherd decided to leave the woman alone, but followed her to see where the Ursitoarele (the Parcae) lived. The man wanted to find out what was the true story about.They walked and walked and after a great deal of time they reached a castle where a large number of votive lights were burning. Hundreds and thousands were lit and hundreds and thousands became extinct every minute.'What are these?' the shepherd asked.'These are the souls of the newborns and of the dead,' Ursitoarea answered.All Parcae teamed inside the castle pouring oil into the votive lights, more for some, less for others, according to the need. 'Show me my own light!' the shepherd urged the Parca.The woman did as told. There wasn't too much oil left for this one. But she poured some to make the man's life longer. And the only man who ever knew how long he would live was happy because he had the chance to see his life light."Long ago, people could see the Parcae because humans still had good hearts. After they agreed on the baby's fate, the oldest Parca said something about the child:"Let him have my life from this day and my sleep from this night."The others pray to her to be more merciful. By midnight they head to the house of the new baby. Those houses always have the windows and doors open and the family is always happy.In Hateg county, the midwife can hear the ursonile settle the baby's fate all along the three days from its birth. She is the only one who can protect the baby from all lohoanele and bogladatele (evil creatures). The family prepares a feast with salt, bread and water for the Parcae. The story goes that one time, the Parcae did not find any salt, water and bread left for them and they grew angry, weaving a bad fate for that baby. They doomed the baby to be hit by lightening on top of a rock; and this might have happened all right if it hadn't been for the baby's midwife. She was skillful and knowledgeable and so she fastened him and lied him to stay home until the lightening struck the respective rock, at the predestined moment. The Parcae go down the house chimney and meet the mother of the baby by the fireplace or behind the stove or in a nook, in a sheltered corner.In other parts of Transylvania, people place on the table a piece of new fabric, a plate with wheat flour, salt, bread and wool and a coin (zeceriu). In other regions, people arrange three dishes with stewed wheat, three glasses of water, three with oil, money, while the midwife sings the song of Parcae to humour them.In Banat, people put on the baby's head a pogage (corn flour bread), three cruceri (old silver coins), a new pair of brăciri (belt), a mirror, a pair of combs and a spoonful of grease to please the Parcae. These things are given away the next day. On the third day from the baby's birth, a special dish is prepared, out of nine handful of wheat flour, a spoonful of salt, butter and fresh water. The table is decorated with new ribbons; three candles are lit around the wheat dish, adorned with wheat, corn and beans.The glass of fresh water is tied by three threads of red silk, as long as the baby itself.The entire arrangement is placed in front of the bed. The midwife prays like this:Oh, dear GodSend the ParcaeLet them come gleefullyGleefully and cheerfullyMay they like the dishAnd good fate they wishMay N. do little workAnd enjoy his life!The next day, the food that was arranged on the round table is given to the midwife and to three little girls, about seven years old. In Tecuci, right on the first night when the baby is born, the family arranges money, bread, salt, a glass of wine, two candles and basil on the table or on a plate. The baby's mother and the midwife are meant to have dreams overnight and remember their visions, only to meet the next day and interpret the baby's future.In Braila, the mother piles up bread, salt and corn flour and a pint of wine, lights a candle and leaves everything for the Parcae. It is all done on the third night from the baby's birth. The midwife takes the food the next day.The midwife is supposed to dream something overnight, her dream telling about the baby's future. In Muscel, the food for the Parcae is prepared on the third night after the birth. It consists of bread, plum brandy, wine, a book for the baby boy, or thread and needles for the baby girl (to have long hair and be skillful in sewing) salt. They lit a candle for the Parcae to be able to see, write the name of the three women on a piece of paper, and add some money… All these things are laid in front of an icon, facing east, for the Parcae to see them immediately. When everything is ready, the midwife starts her prayer to God, to send the Parcae that would give the baby good fate. The midwife takes all the gifts for herself.It is better for the baby's fate that both parents be happy along the first eight days from the child's birth. This type of behavior pleases the Parcae.In Gorj, on the third day after the baby is born, both the mother ad the house are properly cleaned. Before sunset, the midwife comes to the house with unleavened bread baked on ashes, covered in honey over the three crosses. She places the bread on a new diaper spread over some swaddling clothes on a table, by the mother. She also puts there a glass of wine, a glass of water, salt and a silver coin on top of the bread, a pair of girdles, which belong to the midwife, and three spoons adorned with flowers tied in silk threads. When all is set up, the midwife crosses herself nine times and says:You, Holy SpiritsYou, Good SpiritsLet God send you unspoiled,In shiny lightsAs good as breadAs sweet as honeyAs calm as water!The table laid for the Parcae stays like this until the next day when the midwife cleans it. She puts the silver coin on the baby's chest while she gives the bread and wine to some innocent children.With Macedo-Romanians, a 12-year-old, with both parents alive, bakes a small bread on the third day from the baby's birth. This bread is kept under the baby's pillow for 40 days. If the baby is a boy, they also put money, a gun, a book, inkpots, paper and a quill under its pillow. And if the baby is a girl, they choose a thimble and scissors as gifts. People send their dog away with the relatives because they might scare the Parcae away by barking.If the house that the Parcae are to visit bears no light, they go away, leaving the baby with an uncertain fate. "Well, there are so many people like this in the world!"In some cultures, the Parcae are known as:Parca – the oldest. She holds the distaff and the spindle.Fate – she weaves the humans' destiny. Death – she cuts the thread of life.In Oltenia, the three Parcae join the Angel to predestine the new born child. They are known as:First: Moon's coda of the baby's birth.Second: Day of baby's birth.Third: Hour of baby's birth.All three Parcae weave the thread of life, which turns around all corners of that person's existence, from predestination to death.Sometimes, God releases the thread of life that the Parcae lay on ground, adorned with all events predestined for that baby who finds no way to change or escape them. One time, a man dreamt about his son's Angel telling him that the child would drown in the fountain when the boy had turned 9. Aware of the child's fate, the father covered the well, considering that his son would live. The very day the boy turned 9, he went to the fountain, leaned his little head against the well and died. Nobody is allowed to listen to the song of predestination sung by the Parcae. The person that looks through the window during the first three nights from his baby's birth will be punished the same way is punished the man who listens to the cows talking on Saint Vasile's night, forecasting the future.The story of Saint Peter who would not be born tells us how a witch came to his mother's bed and told his father, the psalm reader:"Dear man, your wife and child might die and you will take their deaths on your shoulders. I'll tell you what is to be done: put your ear on the threshold and listen to the voice of the Parcae. Then you will find out the key to your child's birth. But know this: whoever listens to the Parcae's voice, a dreadful death shall die.""Well, well, the man sighed; it makes no difference to me; I am still the old rag nobody wants anymore. What's the use of my living? Dig my grave and put me inside! May my son live and follow my steps into this world because I have lived my life to the full, so help me God!"And he pondered no more. He put his ear on the threshold and heard the words of one of the Parcae:"Peter, the psalm reader's son, will not be born until his father shall promise him as wife the Fairy without father. And the child shall become a saint!"The second Parca spoke: "His Book of Life stays open on a table, inside a stone chapel at Jordan's spring." And the third Parca, who always speaks the same words, ended the predestination:"Who listened to our words in secret, shall die by the hand of this boy!"The father promised his son the Fairy without a father. The baby was born, but the history teaches us about his being killed by his own son.In Haţeg county, the Parcae predestined a child to marry his own mother when his time should come. The midwife heard the Parcae and told the mother about her baby's fate. To deliver him from sin, she sends the boy to foreign countries. Years later, her husband died and she remarried only later to a lad who came from far away, from abroad. The lad was her own son.Some stories tell us about God's power to change humans' destiny.This story is from Oltenia:Once God decided to travel alone. He met a very poor man on His way:"Where are you going, dear man?" God asked him."Good question! I travel to find God and kill Him because He made me so poor I have nothing to eat or drink."God answered the man:"You are wrong, my friend. It is not God's fault that you are poor, but your Parca is to blame. She decided your fate!"And then God urged the man:"Come with Me. We shall go to a house where you must hide under a table. In a while the Parcae shall come and they shall lay plenty of money on the table. When the time is right you get out of your hiding, grab as much money as you can and run for your life. They shall follow you and catch you and ask you why you stole from them. Mind this! Answer them you were destined to steal and they shall let you go!"They went to that house and things happened exactly as told. The poor man ended his poverty without knowing who helped him.This is a breaking of the fate's chain, a change of destiny prepared by the Parcae themselves and especially from the word of the youngest Parca which is said to be unbreakable. Therefore, the Parcae write in detail the humans' fate with all its ups and downs, and this writing is called the book of life or the book of fate. In other cultures, the Parcae sing the content of the writing that is sealed by this song, as the Greeks told us through Homer: "Not even Gods can deliver the hero from common death, once the dangerous Moira grabbed him and plunged him into the deep sleep of his grave." Our people too share this belief. The Parcae are present in most of the cultures of ancient and modern people. The Romans called them Parcae and they were three: Parca, Nona and Decuma and later Nona, Decuma and Morta. The three Greek Moiras are Cloto, the weaver, Lahesis, the writer of the fate, and Atropos whose word is not to be broken. The Neo-Greeks call them almost the same.The Bulgarians as well as the Macedo-Romanians call them mire or nărăciniţe or samodive which we find in some stories, along with our Fairies, at the shelter where Jesus was born, sewing His baby clothes. Nărăşiniţe or nareşniţele are the characters of a story similar to ours about a young man who was destined to die on his wedding day:"The three Nareşniţe arrive and Todora, a young girl, would not close her eyes, but watches and listens to them.The first one says:"Let's take the child!"The second says in her turn:"Let's take him only when he is 7!"And the third adds:"Let him grow up and get engaged to a beautiful girl that he wants to marry later. And when he comes back from the church, we'll take him all right."They predestined that boy and then disappeared. We have a word that resembles the Bulgarian term for "predestination: "a nărăci."The story teaches us how Todora dressed like a man to resemble her younger brother who was about to die on his wedding day and some Winds took her instead of her brother.The Serbians call the Parcae usude or suieniţe, almost mistaking them for Stretya. With the Albanians, the word of the third Parca is decisive: the pasha that listens to the Parcae can hear the third one saying:"May this child live a long life, kill the pasha and take his throne and marry his daughter."The Russians call them rodjenice, rogianice (rod meaning birth) or sudjenice (sud meaning fate).The Czech, the Croats and the Slovenes call them sudnice, sudjenice, sojenice, sudicichi.The Latin peoples call them fées, fate, fadas.

by Tudor Pamfile (1883-1923)