Hi mate here is a new episode of “Deadly wool Week end” in which I present to you strange and macabre things from a city. Today I am in Strasbourg to talk to you about voodoo spells torture at the Renaissance Times and about the famous “dancing plague”. In Strasbourg is the fascinating “voodoo castle”. This little treasure of industrial architecture has everything to make you shudder It was built on a Roman cemetery and put under the protection of the very powerful and angry goddess Kéléssi. 300 objects related to the most mysterious religion of West Africa are curated here. This collection, which is indisputably the most beautiful in Europe dealing with voodoo gives me a good opportunity to talk to you about the use of human bones for the creation of charms. Fate is meaninful for voodoo believers. Their means of divination, the geomancy of Fâ, guides the actions of practitioners who think their life is mapped out. However, it is not forbidden to give a little help to Fate and to this purpose, Voodoo excels in the creation of charms which one designates under the generic term of “bo”. Different types of bo exist, like the “biblo bo” also called very explicitly the “SHUT UP”. Some bo are made of human bones. They are called Chakatu. To create Tchakatu, whole cranial-facio blocks are very popular. I remind you that a “cranio-facial block” is the whole of the head, composed of the skull and the mandible. Each object is dedicated to a specific wish that is breathed into the skull. The jaws are also firmly lashed so the incantation cannot escape. The skulls can then be embellished with magical mineral or vegetable charges in relation to their specific incatation. It is often thought that chakatu are charms bringing bad luck to enemies. But Chakatu are in fact ambivalent objects. Despite its frightening aspect, its protective function is important. Adult skulls and infant skulls can be used for the creation of Tchakatu. Of course if the deceased was powerful, the Chakatu will be more effective. For a deadly walk, do not hesitate to take a walk through the Crows Bridge, formerly known as “The Bridge of Punishments” because the convicts were killed here by drowning. For this task a simple rocking board was used, but from the 15th century big cities sometimes used a cage to immerse (“Strandkorb”). I also advise you to go at the executioner’s tower or “Henkerturm”. This tower was the prison of the city until 1823 and was also the place of exposure of the criminals to the pillory. It was punctually called “Stockhaus”, literally “the house of the pillory”. If the pillory can be included in the list of instruments of torture, you will see that the cruelty of this punishment was very variable. During Renaissance, placing in the pillory could be accompanied by whipping or mutilations. For example, it was common to nail the criminal’s ears to the pillory. Or his tongue when the convict had blasphemed or slandered an important person. Hence the expression “to be nailed on pilory” But the pillory can also be a simple hindrance, which does not hurt. Moreover, in Elizabethan England (1558 – 1603), a prisoner sued the city that had pilloried him because it broke under his weight, thus risking injury. Some claim he got justice! On 12th of July, in 1518 begins here the strangest epidemic of Renaissance Times. Mrs. Troffea went out of her home in order to throw her baby in the canal before dancing here, on the Saverne bridge She will push the other inhabitants to follow her in a macabre dance that will last for weeks and make more than 2,000 victims. The event fascinated the doctors and even attracted the attention of Shakespeare who referred to it as “Dancing Plague”. What happened in the summer of 1518? Alerted by the phenomenon, François 1st sent on the spot the best specialists to understand this epidemic. The doctors rejected the hypothesis of ergotism. This disease, also known as “fire sickness” or “fire plague” was caused by intoxication due to a fungus that can develop in cereals such as rye. One of the symptoms of this disease is the emergence of hallucinations that can lead to insane behavior. But ergotism is also accompanied by cutaneous lesions and gastro-intestinal ailments, but Strasbourg residents only danced. A disease that makes you dance without many other physiological symptoms does exist. It is Sydenham’s chorea also called “St Vitus dance”. However, Sydenham’s chorea is an autoimmune disease that is not contagious. And it cannot be widespread among population thanks to widely-consumed products as rye flour for example. The most likely hypothesis to explain the Strasbourg dance epidemic is that we are dealing with a crisis of collective dementia. Collective hysteria leading to macabre dances are not so rare as there are at least three others just for Germany. It must be emphasized that people of Strasbourg at that time were suffering from a terrible famine that had weakened them physically and psychologically. It is possible that their distress engaged them to dance to death.