Aphrodisiacs & Love Potions From An Old French Manuscript
Orate pro me qui istum librum legerit. Three fingers write, the whole body labours. Whoever has read this book, pray for me. He who does not know how to write thinks it is no work. Tres digiti scribunt totum corpusque laborat Scribere qui nescit nullum putet esse laborem. Dum digiti scribunt uix cetera membra quiescunt.
While the fingers write, the other members hardly rest.
In his colophon to a copy of a commentary on the Psalm he likens the copying of a manuscript to an arduous sea journey:. Finit liber psalmorum. In Christo Iesu domino nostro … lege in pace — Sicut portus oportunus nauigantibus ita uorsus [for uersus? Edilberict filius berictfridi scripsit hanc glosam quicumque hoc legat oret pro scriptore.
Et ipse similiter omnibus populis et tribubus et linguis et universo genem humano aeternam salutem optat —— in Christo, Amen, Amen, Amen ——. The Psalter is finished. In Christ our lord, read in peace. Like a timely harbour to sailors is the last line to scribes. Whoever may read it, may he pray for the scribe. And he himself similarly desires eternal health for all people, tribes and tongue and for the entire human race. In Christ, Amen, Amen, Amen.
Nauta rudis pelagi ut seuis ereptus ab undis In portum veniens pectora leta tenet Sic scriptor fessus calamum sub colle laboris Deponens habeat pectore laeta quidem source. This scribe shows some signs of fatigue. He duly notes his job is done, but seems to have had no spirit or energy left to come up with a proper maxim or a nice metaphor:. This scribe was so tired, he did not even ask the reader to pray for his soul! With that, this ship has reached its port. Though I have typed this with ten fingers, my body aches and so do my hands. Say a prayer for me. In this day and age of cyber espionage, encryption of information is becoming increasingly more important.
But even in the early Middle Ages, scribes developed techniques to encode their messages, as this blog post reveals. Apparently, this scribe was happy that his job was done and rendered thanks to Christ in an encoded message. The next two lines take some more effort. Another case of feigned modesty is found in the prologue of the Anglo-Saxon nun Hygeburg fl. As part of the Anglo-Saxon mission, she ended up in Heidenheim, Germany.
In her introudction, Hygeburg confesses that she considered her womanhood a hindrance for writing hagiography, noting in her preface:. And yet I especially, corruptible through the womanly frail foolishness of my sex , not supported by any prerogative of wisdom or exalted by the energy of great strength, but impelled spontaneously by the ardour of my will, as a little ignorant creature culling a few thoughts from the sagacity of the heart, from the many leafy, fruit-bearing trees laden with a variety of flowers, it pleases me to pluck, assemble and display some few, gathered — with whatever feeble art , at least from the lowest branches-for you to hold in memory.
Dronke The encoded message with which she closes her message has a similar, subversive effect:. Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm , fol. In this message, Hygeburg has replaced all the vowels with abbreviations for ordinal numbers, e. The code can cracked as follows:. Alfred and the cakes, Cnut and the waves, and Eadmer the flying monk: Anglo-Saxon history is full of anecdotes. Edith of Wilton. In episode 5 of the second series of The Last Kingdom, Uhtred of Bebbanburg meets Bjorn the dead man who rises from his grave. Similar practices have been reported for Anglo-Saxon England.
A fear for a zombie apocalypse, it seems, is nothing new! A famous medieval tale revolves around the chance meeting of three living young men with three animated corpses. The corpses remind the young men that they too will die memento mori , remember to die and that it is not too late to change their ways. Cnut the Great and the reanimated corpse of St Edith of Wilton. Cnut the Great d. Cnut was a Dane, a man of action but one who had no affection for English saints because of the enmity between the two races.
The cast of mind made him wilful, and when at Wilton one Whitsun he poured out his customary jeers at Eadgyth herself [St Edith of Wilton, an Anglo-Saxon saint]: he would never credit the sanctity of the daughter of King Edgar, a vicious man, an especial slave to lust, and more tyrant than king. Cnut became even more excited, and ordered the opening of the grave to see what the dead girl could provide in the way of holiness.
The tomb was opened and, like a jack-in-the-box, St Edith of Wilton rose from her grave:. When the tomb was broken into, Eadgyth was seen to emerge as far as the waist, though her face was veiled, and to launch herself at the contumacious king. In his fright, he drew his head right back; his knees gave way, and he collapsed to the ground. The fall so shattered him that for some time his breathing was impeded, and he was judged dead. But gradually strength returned and he felt both shame an joy that despite his stern punishment he had lived to repent. Preest As this blog post will illustrate, this practice, barbaric though it seems, is well attested for Anglo-Saxon England.
Perhaps the best-known example of decapitation and impalement was that of Saint Oswald of Northumbria d. Right: Head Reliquary of St. The display of decapitated heads did not die out with the arrival of Christianity. In the De Obsessione Dunelmi , a Latin historical work from around , we are told of a siege of Durham by the Scots in the early eleventh century. Uhtred then sent for the most attractive heads to be brought to Durham:. The heads of the slain, made more presentable with their hair combed, as was the custom in those days, he had transported to Durham, and they were washed by four women and fixed on stakes around the circuit of the walls.
The women who had previously washed them were each rewarded with a single cow. Anglo-Saxon charters often contained vernacular boundary clauses which described the areas under discussion. Various charters locate such head stakes in the vicinity of a road: e.
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These examples suggest that these head stakes would have been visible for people travelling from and towards locations, possibly along main access roads. Given their use as boundary markers in surviving Anglo-Saxon charters, these head stakes must have been a permanent as well as salient feature in the landscape. Heads on old London Bridge source. Beowulf, ll. If you liked this post, you may also enjoy other blog posts on The Last Kingdom or Anglo-Saxon decapitations:. Decapitation and impalement scene in the margin of an early-fourteenth-century manuscript of the Decretals of Gregory IX.
The newly elected president of the United States has triggered over half a million women to march in a political protest against the new leader of their country. The annalist is more positive about a curious journey by Gytha, mother of the deceased King Harold Godwinson d. Much of what we know about Gytha fl. Most of her sons became powerful earls and one of them even became king in Harold Godwinson. Instead, he claimed to be the son of Cnut the Great d. Quam nimie arrogantie vanitatem mater illius, conjunx videlicet prefati ducis Godwini, exhorrescens, multis ex occidentalium Saxonum parte adductis nobilibus feminis, se matrem illius, et Godwinum patrem ejus esse, magnis juramentis et illarum probavit testmoniis.
Sweyn disagreed and Hemming reports that while Cnut and Sweyn may not have shared blood and genes, they did share certain shortcomings, such as pride and excessive lusts of the flesh. To illustrate the latter, Hemming narrates how Sweyn had once abducted the abbess of Leominster and had kept her as a wife for a year. Her two more famous sons, Tostig d. In the year of the Norman Conquest, Tostig had rebelled against the English throne and had sided with the Norwegian king Harald Hardrada d. The chronicler Orderic Vitalis d. Forester, Vol. Battle of Stamford Bridge by Matthew Paris. Orderic Vitalis reports how the grieving mother had asked William the Conqueror for the body of her son:.
The sorrowing mother now offered to Duke William, for the body of Harold, its weight in gold; but the great conqueror refused such a barter, thinking it was not right that a mother should pay the last honours to one by whose insatiable ambition vast numbers lay unburied trans. Another twelfth-century chronicler, William of Malmesbury d.
Giles, pp. It is generally assumed that Gytha was involved in the resistance offered by the city of Exeter in Orderic Vitalis records how Exeter was the first city to fight for its freedom. II, p. He besieged the town for eighteen days and committed various acts of cruelty, including the blinding of one the hostages.
Giles, p. After eighteen days, Exeter capitulated, but Gytha had escaped and began making her way to Flat Holm. The Siege of Exeter was a definite blow to Gytha and her rebellion. II, pp. Much depends, it would seem, on the political stance of the person bringing the news — a notion that still very much applies to this day and age.
A very ornamental border plant, similar in it's appearance and growth habit to Lavender, it has been used in gardens throughout the ages. It gained much favor during Tudor England, as it provided a perfectly complimentary shape and color for the knot gardens that were popular. The name Helenium is born from a legend connecting this plant to Helen of Troy, which is said to have sprung up from her tears. In Celtic countries, it was referred to as "Elfwort.
The Inula grows a large tuberous root, of quite a bitter flavor, but was enjoyed despite this. It was commonly pounded with Fennel to sweeten it and served as a dessert or digestive.
It was still regularly seen in England as a candy up until the late nineteen hundreds. It is the root that is used today in modern herbalism, it being a wonderful expectorant and tonic for the lungs, and it is used quite frequently in cough medicines. During it's introduction into Europe in the Medieval period, it was used to treat infections, chewed to "fasten the teeth," taken as a cordial and worn to protect one from poisonous insects and venomous beasts.
It has also been praised for it's qualities as a digestive, and eating a small quantity of the root before or after a meal is said to be very beneficial. A beautiful plant, Elecampane stands quite tall with huge unfurling leaves, and in appearance is not unlike a Sunflower. Every spring the Iris flower pokes it's majestic head out of innumerable garden settings. A favorite among gardeners for it's spectacular bloom, historically it was the root which was coveted by both perfumeries and apothecaries. Iris was named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, and the image of the flower itself predates even the Greek civilization.
It is seen in stone images as the famous Egyptian scepter, where the three petaled bloom represented faith, wisdom and valor. It may be recognized today as the French symbol of the fleur de lys. Orris is a diuretic, which has been used to treat water retention, dropsy and edema. It has been used as an expectorant for centuries as well, treating chronic lung conditions and helping to expel phlegm.
It is also a cathartic, and used to purge the bowels when a common laxative is not sufficient. Today it is most valuable to the perfume industry, providing the deep violet scented base-note for many modern perfumes. Of course it's value to the modern gardener is indisputable, and has been throughout the ages. The Bay tree is famous for it's use in ancient Rome, where garlands of it's leaves were used to crown athletes, poets and anyone deemed of outstanding measure.
To this day the laurel represents fame for many, and the roots of this crowning tradition can be seen in words such as laureate and bachelor, bacca-laureus meaning laurel berries. The origins of its ritual use go back to the oracle at Delphi, where the priestesses were said to have eaten a leaf before every prophesy. Laurel was a sacred plant of the god Appollo, and his temple was entirely thatched with its leaves, which were believed to prevent lightening, witchcraft and disease.
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The leaves have been used to treat flatulence, hysteria and when taken in large quantities, they can be used as an emetic. An oil made from the leaves was applied to sprains, bruises and even poured into the ear for relief from earaches. Of course the laurel is more commonly known as an ingredient to soups and stews, being a very common kitchen herb. Despite it's enduring popularity as a cooking spice, laurel is in fact considered inedible, and if the leaves are eaten in abundance they are actually quite narcotic.
The soothing effects of this scented plant are so incredible, it's said that even great beasts such as lions are calmed and made docile by the smell of lavender water. Certainly it's effectiveness as a home remedy for sleep and stress relief have been tested generation after generation.
The plant was given it's name from the Latin word 'lavare' meaning to wash or lather. It was a popular bathing herb in ancient Rome, being both aromatic, cleansing and also a natural insect repellent. It has highly antiseptic qualities as well, and the essential oil of lavender is still applied to cuts as an alternative to rubbing alcohol. During the Medieval period, the herb was attributed with many mystical qualities, such as protection from evil and plague, the latter which is most certainly true to some degree.
Great crosses of lavender were hung over church doors, it was strewn on floors for its beautiful scent and was carried as a general protection charm. Today it not only remains a common home remedy for anxiety, insomnia and cuts, but is also used prolifically in the perfume and cosmetic industries, as well as being a favorite plant in any cottage garden. This plant has a truly magical history.
History of Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction
Revered by the ancient Greeks as an aphrodisiac and a powerful intoxicant, it's use as a medicine and an amulet may have dated back to ancient Sumeria. It is mentioned several times in the Bible, both as a fertility charm when Rachel begs Leah for a piece of the root so that she may conceive, and as an herb sacred to Solomon. During the Medieval period, it was prescribed by both the monks and the witches, and was used as everything from a cure for sterility to an ingredient in flying ointment.
There is inordinate superstition around the roots of these plants, which are long, rather gnarled and to some, resembled a human figure. The plants were said to scream as they were pulled from the earth, and later it was believed that each root housed a daemon. People were even to adopt the practice of using dogs as "sacrificial" animals, harnessing them to drag the roots out of the earth, for people understood that anyone to disrupt the mandrake root would themselves be cursed and possibly die.
Mandrakes were believed to grow under the gallows of murderers, and their apple scented fruit were referred to Satan's apples. There is an overwhelming amount of information suggesting abhorrence and fear of this plant, but despite this evidence, it was actually one of the most valuable herbs of this period, because it was believed to be a charm of good luck and fertility. A mandrake root kept on the mantle was supposed to guard a house, to promote prosperity and fertility and attract love into one's life.
The roots became so valuable that merchants began to grow Byrony plants in moulds to imitate the contorted figures of mandrake roots, and these were sold for relatively large sums of money all over Europe. The leaves of this plant can be applied as a poultice to any swelling, and the root is a powerful emetic. It was used as an anesthetic and added to wine in small amounts to treat chronic pain issues.
It was also employed as a sedative, often in cases of mental delirium, although ironically it has historically been used to cause delirium and madness as well as treat it.
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A close relative of the mint species, the plant is by far more bitter. Perhaps the most common home remedy for coughs, Horehound has long been used to treat bronchial problems, tuberculosis and sore throats. It was considered to be a healing agent for any cold or flu and was used in cough drops and to flavor candies and beverages right into the late 's, when it was removed from the FDA list of approved herbs, under the pretense that there was not enough evidence to suggest it's medicinal qualities.
Despite this it continues to be used by modern herbalists, and it has been employed for the same purposes since the ancient Egyptian civilization. Egyptian priests named this plant 'Seed of Horus' although it's Latin name, Marrubium is derived from Maria urbs, an ancient town in Italy.
It is quite weedy in England, and apparently in Mexico as well, as the Spanish brought it over with them on the voyage to the New World. Balm is thought to have been introduced to most of Europe by the beginning of the ninth century, having been brought there by Arabian traders.
It was however, prevalent in Greece centuries before where it was honored as the greatest of bee attractors, planted in quantity around hives and also revered as a great medicine and reliever of melancholy. The first Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne was apparently so taken with it that he ordered it planted in all monastery gardens.
Lemon Balm first appears in English herbal manuscripts in the early fourteen hundreds where it is referred to as bawme and recorded as having incredibly soothing and tonic properties. Melissa in combination with lemon peel, angelica root, nutmeg and spirits made up the famous Carmelite water, which was desired for it's fresh smell and antiseptic qualities. In a time when the average person bathed once a year if not once a lifetime, potions such as this were necessary to quiet both the body's odors and the smell of death that surrounded the villages during times of plague.
Lemon balm is much used today for it's abilities to calm the nervous system, and especially to settle children. It is a lovely herb for the tea cup, being both aromatic and soothing. Pennyroyal has obtained a rather unfortunate reputation in the modern healing community, due both to its recurring use as an abortive and to the high toxicity levels that are present in the concentrated oil. It does however have an ancient history as a highly respected medicine.
It's healing powers were thought to be so great that even dating to the Roman civilization, great wreaths of it were strung in doorways to purify the air. It was recorded as a favorite among the English royal families, which may perhaps be attributed more to it's action as flea repellent than as a medicine. It has been noted as an insect repellent for centuries, it being said that Roman soldiers rubbed their bodies with it to offer protection from bugs and lice, and it is to this day one of the more effective ingredients in natural flea treatments for pets and animals.
It is the strongest of the mint family, and many of the attributes given to the mint family can be applied with pennyroyal in much smaller dosages. It is helpful for headaches and migraines, applied to the forehead or used as an inhalation. It is also excellent as a digestive aid when taken in small quantities.
Perhaps the first plant mentioned in relation to Medieval herb gardens, Mint is of Mediterranean origin but was brought over to England as early as the eighth century by the Romans. The name Mint comes to us from a Greek myth, in which Pluto was madly in love with a beautiful nymph named Minthe. Pluto's wife Prosperine was so enraged that she changed the nymph into the plant we now know as mint, where she continues to entice people to her with the extraordinary sweetness of her scent.
The Greeks believed it could make a man so lustful that soldiers were warned to avoid it completely lest it drain all their energy before battle. Romans took quite a contrary view, and noting that it sharpened the mind and senses they encouraged scholars to wear wreaths of it when studying. Of all medicinal garden herbs, surely one must recognize the mentha species as the most noteworthy of today's plants, being seen in everything from toothpaste and gum to a common tea. It's abilities to freshen the breath and settle the stomach are indisputable, and it's beneficial effects on headaches, digestion and nerves are also well known.
Despite their flavor and usefulness, one must be cautioned that when planting mint in the garden that it can grow very quickly and spread outrageously. Despite it's weedy tendencies, it is almost essential for an herb garden, but one plant perhaps to consider for container growing. Commonly called Buckbean or Bogbean, this plant has gained much popularity as a flower for water gardens, due to it's stunning feathery pink flowers. Still used in herbal medicine to this day, during the Medieval ages it was thought to be one of the strongest curatives available.
A favorite remedy of monastery doctors, it was prescribed primarily for scurvy, but the seeds were also used for any respiratory complaints. It has been used to treat arthritis, jaundice, rheumatism, and was often taken as a general tonic. Leaves of the buckbean were added to beers, it being a tremendously bitter plant, but much of the medicine was made from the rhizomes.
Today it is still used to treat fevers, constipation and water retention, although it is more available as a decorative bog plant than a medicine. There is a curious old poem mentioning buckbean, which was said to be repeated when children walked through dark passages, and was apparently intended to be addressed to Puck or Robin Goodfellow. Is the goose ygone to nest? And the fox ygone to rest? Shall I come away? Sweet cicely, a native to Great Britain, is a beautiful fern-like plant with delicious licorice flavored seeds and foliage.
The plant is actually so sweet that it can be cooked with tart and bitter fruits as an alternative to sugar to help cut down on the acidity. The herb itself is considered very safe to use, the old herbalists saying it was "so harmless you cannot use it amiss. Cicely was commonly prescribed as a tonic for elderly people, it being thought to be a healthful and stimulating herb for them, as well as gentle enough for sensitive systems.
Another old herb book describes it as being "Very good for old people that are dull and without courage; It rejoiceth and comforteth the heart and increaseth their lust and strength. Although the word Marjoram may conjure no more for us these days than spice cabinets and spaghetti recipes, here is a plant that has long been associated with love and happiness. Legend tells that the plant was created by Aphrodite, as a symbol of love, and it was worn by bridal couples in both Greece and Rome.
There is an also an old tradition of anointing oneself with Marjoram in order to see a vision of ones true love. When Marjoram was found growing over a grave, it was thought to be the spirit of the deceased communicating their peace and happiness from the other side. Consequently, it became common practice to plant sweet Marjoram in cemeteries as a well-wishing for the departed.
Marjoram has an equally important history as a medicinal. In the Middle ages specifically it was worn with violets to protect against colds, chewed to relieve a toothache, used an inhalation to clear the sinuses, eaten as a digestive and applied as an antiseptic. A sweet water was made with Marjoram which was used to wash the body, thus protecting it from evil and, more practically, from disease. This herb has also been extremely valuable in preserving food, and of course indisputably useful in flavoring food.
Long before it's popularity in pasta dishes marjoram helped to keep the simple Medieval diet from being bland and unpalatable. The name oregano is taken from two Greek words, oros and ganos , meaning mountain and joy, implying the great delight people took in it on the mountainsides of Greece.
Crushed leaves were often applied as a poultice to any bite, especially one which transmitted poison. It was actually burned as well, to purify the air and protect one from devils. It was used for the same culinary and medicinal purposes as marjoram the two being so closely related that they are almost indistinguishable in flavor and properties.
It's history is also quite inseparable from marjoram, and both were said to be gifts from Aphrodite to the world. Everywhere this herb has traveled it has been locally adopted as a medicine. It traveled from Greece to Italy, and through the Roman armies to much of the rest of Europe, and when the trade routes were established, on to China where it was also taken as an excellent treatment for vomiting, skin irritation, diarrhea and fever. Oil of Oregano is an important item on the shelves of any health food store or natural medicine practice, it being strongly antiviral and immune boosting.
It is a natural remedy many still swear by to fight off colds and flues. And the more the daily dose of its use, the worse these indicators are. Also in those days, male sexual organ was often compared to a lizard, which was prerequisite for equally interesting recipe:. The resulting potion was added to daily drinks, but not more than 1 drachma 4 — 7 g at a time. For many years this illness was considered an intrigue, and perpetrators of its appearance were traditionally considered to be witches. However, as the problem was not solved together with burning of women on bonfires, people were also beginning to blame church for their impotence.
At this time, there was a rethinking of the very nature of the phenomenon. This was no longer a flaw in a concrete person, in which he himself is to blame, but a disease that can appear in anyone on the whim of outside forces witches, devils, etc. As for methods of treatment, they were quite exotic. So in writings of Albert the Great — a prominent representative of medieval scholasticism of the 13th century — the following recipes can be found:.
However, healers of different countries of those years tried to keep up. Since starfish and wolves in those days were difficult to obtain, men applied to their sex organs a mixture of chopped hearts of chicken and deer fat. Notably, these methods not only look wild, but they are also inherently so. Erectile dysfunction is finally affirmed as a disease with which one can fight.
It is possible, but not necessary. Condemnation of search for medicine that could cure male infirmity, continue until the XIX century. The most prominent of them can be called:. However, if you go back to our days, you can find that modern science distinguishes the same hemp as one of the most probable causes of impotence.
Canadian Neighbor Pharmacy studies show that among adolescents who smoke cannabis, occurrence of vascular erectile dysfunction is much more common than that of their peers who adhere to HLS. Development of European medicine of those years is strongly influenced by Persia, whose echoes are felt today. In place of exotic recipes come balsams and infusions based on natural ingredients, which, however, are increasingly being counterfeited.
It should be noted that if the majority of European prejudices associated with causes of impotence and its treatment are now fading into oblivion, folk medicines in some domestic villages are still practiced successfully. This period has become quite effective in the fight against impotence. First, thanks to development of science, most of myths related to this disease were dispelled including connection with masturbation. Scientists came to conclusion that there is nothing shameful in this act, and it is even useful to masturbate in absence of sexual relations.
And, third, doctors finally managed to divide causes of the problem into physical and psychological ones, which contributed to formation of integrated approach to treatment. Particular attention was paid to surgical methods of solving the problem.
The Science and the Myth
They were replaced by implants. In the 80s, American Medical Systems offered three models of prostheses, implanted into penis of men. The result of such treatment was depressing: percentage of unsuccessful surgeries and infections during them was extremely high. However, ordinary people were not scared.
According to different data, from , to , implants were installed in just 10 years. As for pharmacological preparations, Viagra, the first oral medication for treatment of erectile dysfunction, was approved by the US. As for modern methods of treatment, conditionally they can be distinguished into:. Obviously, issue of sexual impotence worries mankind throughout its existence.