The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
Ancient and medieval midwives paid attention to signs and symbols as birth drew near. As the midwife approached the birthing chamber, she observed what animals crossed her path, what people she met, even the weather. She read the atmosphere like a fortune-teller reads cards. The atmosphere advised of the circumstances of the upcoming birth, both physical and spiritual.
The midwife stayed with the mother after the birth to greet, appease, and/or thank the birth fairies and spirits. She supervised a new mother’s attempts at nursing and, if necessary, taught her how.
The magic role of midwives survived early Christianity. This verbal charm from Ulster was once spoken by midwives before entering the homes of laboring women:
There are four corners to her bed,
There are four angels at her head,
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
God bless the bed that she lies on!
New moon, new moon, God bless me!
God bless this house and family!
A Christian charm from fifteenth-century Austria was written on paper and laid over the laboring woman’s stomach or attached to her clothing:
From a man, a man
From a virgin, a virgin
The Lion of Judah triumphs!
Mary bore Jesus
Elizabeth, though sterile, bore John the Baptist
I adjure the Infant, by Father, Son and Holy Ghost!
Whether male or female that you issue forth from
your mother’s womb
Be empty! Be empty!