Sicilian Cunningcraft: The Cimaruta

Sicilian Cunningcraft: The Cimaruta

In Sicilian cunningcraft, the use of charms is heavily relied upon to ‘bring good luck’.    Perhaps the most popular example of this would be the Italian Horn.  The ‘Italian Horn’ is a twisted chili-pepper-shaped ‘portafortuna’ or good luck charm. Originally made of red coral, this old talisman is certainly a staple and a widely recognized symbol of Italian/Sicilian magick.

Today, I want to introduce you to a lesser known portafortuna known as the Cimaruta, pronounced ‘chee-mah-roo-tah.  The Cimaruta is a charm made from a sprig of rue.  The leafy spring itself is divided into three parts and various trinkets are hung on the stems. Having evolved from ancient Etruscans or early Phoenicians, and later coopted by the Romans, it remains a popular accessory today.

As with most ‘portafortuna’, the object can be worn or hung in the home, often over an infant’s bed to protect from the dreaded evil-eye.  It could also be worn as an identifier and the various trinkets or charms can be altered for different significance.   

The folklore regarding the uses of the herb Rue itself date back thousands of years. It is highly favored in Sicilian magick and lore.  Medicinally known as an eye herb, Rue has been used to treat conjunctivitis and cataracts.  It’s also known for strengthening veins and arteries. Rue can also treat some digestive upsests and as a bitter may stimulate the liver.  Rue also has a long reputation as a ‘women’s’ herb solidifying it’s association with the moon and the moon goddess. Rue may bring on a woman’s moon cycle, relieve the pain of childbirth and ease menstrual pain in general. It is known to strengthen the female reproductive tract, in particular the uterus and ovaries.  It has been used as an abortifacient for many hundreds of years, as well as one of the ingredients in the original recipe for the famed “thieves’ oil”.  Therefore, for these reasons MUCH caution must be exhibited when utilizing Rue in any way. Magickally, Rue is clearly associated with health and healing. You can add hex and curse removal, and exorcism to its list of magickal attributes.  Since its association to the eyes, Rue also has a correlation to psychic abilities and vision. Michelangelo used Rue extensively to improve both his eyesight and his artistic vision.

I would say that’s powerful testament to Rue’s magick, wouldn’t you??

A sprig of Rue, or “ruta”, was originally worn or hung for protection.  You could also add it to a charm bag.  Those who worshipped the Goddess Diana, separated the sprig into three parts to represent her three aspects.  It was also worn by members of Diana’s cult in order to identify one another.  Rue being sacred to the Goddess Diana. Trinket charms are hung from the amulet to enhance the already powerful magick of the herb itself. Eventually this portafortuna began to be made out of silver. Silver also has its association with the Goddess Diana.  The most common symbols to appear are the moon, serpent and key.  The key represents Hecate, Diana is represented by the moon and the serpent is representative of Proserpina.  Other charms may include a rose, a hand holding a wand or a sword, a fish, an owl, vervain and many others.  All adding their unique magick to the Cimaruta.  It’s certainly interesting to note that, like most magick in Sicily, the Cimaruta has taken on some Catholic/Christian attributes.  Today, some of the charms may seem to have catholic interpretations. Giving testament to its long history and deep belief among the people of Italy/Sicily.  It has evolved and changed with the people. 

The Cimaruta does have its origins as a protection AGAINST witchcraft but has evolved into a powerful symbol REPRESENTING witchcraft itself. Many witches and magickal folk wear this symbol to identify their association with The Craft. I hope that you have enjoyed uncovering this ancient Italian/Sicilian portafortuna. Perhaps the next time you visit your local metaphysical store, one of these very special amulets will catch your eye!

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