“Did your grandmother teach you?”
“No, this cannot be taught. Either you know or you don’t know.”
“And can you do it for everything?”
“For the lost things, but only if they want to return.”
“In what way?”
“I couldn’t find something that is happy to be where it is.”
“So you saw the horse?”
The ink had thickened in a way she didn’t like. There was no harmony in the design she had seen, and there were no paths. Going to the jump of the princess would not have brought anything good. But Amelia had preferred to keep for herself the opinion that, perhaps, it would have been better to leave the foal where it was and bear the loss of thumbs. Who would have accepted such advice?
“Enough questions.”

[Path of life and stone, Chapter 2]

“We have always come here, since before the Cuckoo. Wise women, or witches if you like, go where they want and no one can stop us. No one can give orders to a witch.”


One night, from the King’s forest, a girl crosses the heathland and sneaks into the King’s garden. She’s charming the coat of arms of the gate because it allows her to enter and manages to reach the tree of knowledge.
Aided by the Snake, she steals a fruit, but realizes too late that she did not think of bewitching the coat of arms so that, in addition to letting her enter, it would let her out…
The 16-year-old Amelia is a girl with a silent and introverted character. She doesn’t care about anything that happens around her. She loves to leave her village and walk on strange paths, known only to her.
Her family is very ancient. Her ancestors were considered wise women… or witches. Amelia is the last descendant of the lineage.
She has a very great desire, and in order to achieve it she is willing to risk her life.
But she’ll learn that there are even more important things (and persons), and will decide to give up her desires to protect them from the Cuckoo.


The magne who was a witch


In Friuli, is called magne (from the Latin magna, big), a large snake scientifically classified as Coluber viridiflavus. It is common throughout the region. It prefers the sheltered locations and, besides not being poisonous, is a useful animal, as it feeds on a great quantity of mice. Hence the saying: “Let the magne go free for the campaign.”
Or, perhaps, this saying derives from the ancient belief that magne were transformed witches, or even penitent souls. Often witches, surprised by the day, by the sound of church bells, or by the sound of the rooster, turn into magne to spend the day.
There are many stories and legends about witches and magne. This one is originally told in Friulian dialect, and then published in 1929 in “Ce fastu?”

The Friulians once went to Carina to cut the trees and then, with their rafts, brought the wood down along the But stream.
Many years ago there was a group of Friulians who came up from Bassa (Padana plain). They cut the trees on Fielis’ side, working non-stop all day long. They left in the morning, carried their lunch with them, in a canvas bag, and hung it on top of a stick or on a hedge.
It happened that one day a man has found in his bag a bad black magne with spots, very big.  It was frightening!
“Kill him, kill him!” his friends shouted.
But he replied: “No, he have to live too, poor beast.”
And he let it go.
When they finished working, the men loaded the rafts, then opened the water [of the dam], which they had stopped near Judrius, and left with it. Who had most in mind the magne!
When they arrived near a village on the bank of the river they found a woman, who was waiting for them.
She said to the man of the magne: “Get close, dear Sir. Stop the raft. You saved my life! That magne you found in your bag, down in Carina, was me. I was coming back from Mount Tenchia where I had been dancing and discussing with my sisters from Germany and Friuli… but it was late and the bells rang, so I had to stop and transform myself. I was tired and hungry, so I got into your bag, and there you found me. If you had killed that magne I’d be dead now!”
So it was that man left with the raft full of wheat, maize, money and other things that woman gave him.

[from Legends of friulan witches, by Adriano del Fabro]

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