The Artharvaveda is a collection of spells, prayers, charms, and hymns designed for a variety of purposes. Many of these relate to healing work that can be done. The example quoted below is a charm for teething, specifically for the first two teeth that break through. The text of the charm calls directly to the teeth themselves, as well as to Agni. Many of the healing charms within the Artharvaveda call to Agni. I think this is both because he is the priest of the Gods and the one who accepts sacrifices, but also because Fire itself is purifying when dealing with illness or pain. The charm calls on Agni to sooth the teeth that are breaking through the gums. Offered to the teeth themselves are rice, barley, beans, and sesame, with the intent that the child will eat these rather than harm his parents. This is especially apt, as breastfeeding a teething infant can lead to biting, which is supremely uncomfortable. The next part of the charm asks that the teeth come forth gently and that the fierceness, the pain, be passed away from the body.
“VI, 140. Expiation for the irregular appearance of the first pair of teeth
- Those two teeth, the tigers, that have broken forth, eager to devour father and mother, do thou, O Brahmanaspati Gâtavedas, render auspicious!
- Do ye eat rice, eat barley, and eat, too, beans, as well as sesamum! That, O teeth.. is the share deposited for your enrichment. Do not injure father and mother!
- Since ye have been invoked, O teeth, be ye in unison kind and propitious! Elsewhere, O teeth, shall pass away the fierce (qualities) of your body! Do not injure father and mother!” (Bloomfield VI, 140)
A blessing on a child’s first two teeth
(1)Two tigers have grown up who long to eat the mother and the sire:
Soothe, Brāhmanaspati, and thou, O Jātavedas, both these teeth.
(2)Let rice and barley be your food, eat also beans and sesamum.
This is the share allotted you, to be your portion, ye two Teeth.
Harm not your mother and your sire.
(3)Both fellow teeth have been invoked, gentle and bringing happiness.
Else whither let the fierceness of your nature turn away, O
Teeth! Harm not your mother or your sire.” (Griffith CXL)
In creating this healing work for modern use, I have written a charm to be said while mixing the ingredients together for “Dr. Tally’s Soothing Tooth-Tiger Liniment.” As a baby is able to start of solid foods around the same time that they will be getting teeth, I decided that a concoction that can actually be consumed and eaten by the child easily would be the way to go. One of the ingredients called for in the ancient charm is beans. Chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) are the main ingredient in hummus, which can be easily eaten by most infants who have started on solid foods (though it may cause gassiness). Both rice cereal and barley cereal can be mixed into the pureed chickpeas, and then seasoned with just a little bit of sesame oil or tahini. This will create a pureed food that even babies who are just starting solids could eat, as it could be thinned with as much water as necessary for them. There have been reported cases of sesame seed allergies, so as always, before introducing new foods to your baby, consult their doctor.
To make “Dr. Tally’s Soothing Tooth-Tiger Liniment” combine the following ingredients in a food processor while saying the charm that follows (alternatively, say this charm over the dish before you serve it if you aren’t the one who made it):
- 1 can of drained chickpeas (or chickpeas that you’ve cooked yourself)
- 2 Tbsp tahini (optional)
- 1 Tbsp rice cereal
- 1 Tbsp barley cereal
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- water to desired consistency
“Fierce and sharp tooth tigers, you who have broken through,
Be eased, bright tigers, in your work by this gift.
Come forth, and bring with you smiles of joy, rather than grimaces of pain.
Be soothed, sweet tigers, and be not over eager in your entrance.
Come forth, and partake of this share allotted to you.
Fierce and sharp tooth tigers, born of blessed Fire, be warmly welcomed here!”