Olde Marolde was a witch rumored to haunt Drenthe, Overijsel and Gelderland. She has been described as a witch, although her name suggests she could be a nightmare too. It's been said that she was the spreader of illness and flew naked through the air, stealing children from their cradles.
Olde Marolde was most notorious for giving people the flu. A little verse would release the sick from her spell:
- Olde Marolde,
ik hebbe de kolde.
Ik hebbe ze now.
Ik gève ze ow.
Ik bind em hier neer,
ik krieg em neet weer.
One would say this verse while walking around an oak tree (or in some versions; poplar or elder trees) three times. It is said the tree will shake as illness is transfered, and depending on the severity, it may die in the process. Alternatively, one would say the verse while tying a piece of fabric from the sick person around a branch of the tree. Such a tree still stands in Overasselt: The Koortsboom van Overasselt next to the ruins of the saint Walrick church, is a pilgrimage site once habited by saint Willibrord. People still visit the place to decorate the oak branches with pieces of cloth.
There were other ways to transfer the flu into a tree. One way to do this was by making an incision in the bark of the tree and another under the nail of the patient. Then the blood of the patience had to mix with the tree's sap. Less frequently, they would hammer a nail into a tree. Once the bark had grown over the nail, the illness would be cured (this method was used for broken bones, mostly). In Gelderland the sick looked up a willow tree and placed three knots in their branches. They spoke the following words before turning their back on the tree and getting out of there as soon as they possibly could:
- Goé morgen olde,
Ik geef oe de kolde;
Goé morgen olde!
Another way to get rid of an illness was by transfering it to an animal, or writing the patient's name on a piece of peat before burning it. Other times the peat was carved with one stripe for each day of sickness. Other conventions preferred to bury the peat instead. Oftentimes another verse was used:
- Koorts, koorts, ik ben niet thuis,
Ga maar naar een ander huis.
- Abe J. van der Veen: De wijsheid van Bomen en Kruiden
- M.D. Teenstra - Volksverhalen & Legenden van vroegere en latere dagen, uit meest nederlandsche schrijvers en mededeelingen verzameld