string souls

Well into the 18th century, it was the practice to secure the safety and integrity of buildings by providing a symbolic form of human sacrifice. The literal ceremony being unthinkable,a prospective victim would be identified, the victim's shadow would be secretly measured by a length of string, and the string would be buried at a strategic spot in the foundations, typically the corner. The tradition held that the victim would die of "natural causes" within several months, and that the string, having captured the soul, would work as effectively as if the victim had been killed and interned inside the building literally.

© 2012, Donald Kunze, all rights reserved