Monday, January 4, 2010

Day XXXV - Tilberi

Magical milk thief,
Suckler nourished by mother,
Hangs from thigh nipple.

A weird and wonderful entity from the Icelandic school of witchcraft, the Tilberi is a worm-like creature used by women who wish to steal milk from their neighbours' animals. With two-heads it's believed to be able to lie across the back of a sheep and suck both its teets simultaneously, but what's most fascinating about the magic milk thief is the ritual required to summon one up. Only women can create a Tilberi and to do so they have to take a human rib from a graveyard on Whitsunday, wrap it up in grey wool and keep it in their cleavage. Having spat communion wine on the woolly bundle on the following three Sundays, the thing comes to life ready to do the bidding of its owner as long as she nourishes it through a nipple carved into her thigh. The Snakkur ('Suckler') then pinches the wool or milk and rolls back home where it's believed to talk to its "mamma", who can proceed to make butter from the stolen liquid the servant regurgitates into the churner. If keeping the creature hanging from your thigh becomes too much bother, the woman only has to send the creature to collect sheepdroppings from the mountains. Ever-keen to impress the host mother whose nipple sustains it, the twin-mouthed little terror keeps on swallowing sheep excrement until it explodes. The obscure magical being bothering the flocks of Iceland, formed through bizarre feminine magic methodology, is, quite frankly, brilliant.

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