SIN EATING, described in studies of folk culture as a form of religious magic, has been practiced in many cultures. In rural Wales the ritual was still in practice up until the last century. A village would often have its own Sin-Eater who would live as a hermit outside the village. Shunned by the villagers for being the associate of evil spirits the Sin-Eater was only sort out when someone in the village was dying. Then he would be brought into the village and taken to the dying person’s bedside. The family would place a loaf of bread on the dying person’s chest. The Sin-Eater would enter and approach the body. Kneeling down at the bed he would give a short speech;
“I give easement and rest now to thee, dear man. Come not down the lanes or in our meadows. And for thy peace I pawn my own soul. Amen”. Then the Sin-Eater would eat the bread from the dying person’s chest and a bowl of ale would be handed to him from across the body. By drinking the ale and eating the bread he was eating that person’s sins. The bowl and platter would then be burnt by the villagers.