The Pervinca charm: A medieval German love charm

Pp. 94-121

  • Eleonora Cianci
Keywords: “as the wax melts, let N. melt”, Clm 7021, “neither eat nor drink”, “neither sleep nor be awake”, lovesickness, Medieval Love charm, mental control, Periwinkle, Pervinca, Power of words, Seraphim and Cherubim, Verbena, voces magicae


The Pervinca love charm is an inedited 15th century German text, preserved in clm. 7021, ff. 165v-166r. This article represents the first attempt to make its complete transcription from the manuscript, an interpretative translation into English and a description of its content. The Pervinca charm displays a perfectly coherent rhetorical structure enriched by Christian images of brightness and fire; the structure lays on a large set of older non-Christian motifs, like: “as the wax melts, let N. melt / neither eat nor drink / neither sleep nor be awake”, as well as on ancient rituals with silver, gold, salt and wax. The theological frame gives even more power to the Pervinca, whose (Latin) name is here the key device of its irresistible magical power. A part of this charm is based on ancient curses and maledictions meant as a punishment if the beloved tried to resist the love charm. The performer needs the efficacy of the Pervinca in order to gain emotional, physical and mental power over a woman.