Thursday, March 6, 2008
Researching my novels is one of my favourite things to do. I come across such interesting tidbits. In my novel, Orphan of the Olive Tree, I use a lot of medieval folklore and superstition. Here's some interesting remedies for common ailments of ancient times that I've found:
In the year 1250, if you wanted to cure warts, you were required to procure a live eel, fresh or salt water species were both acceptable, and cut its head off. Rub the hot blood of the eel over the afflicted area. Allow to stand until the blood dries and do not wash the body parts so treated for at least three days. Bury the head of the eel deeply within the earth. Remember where you buried it, so you can check its decomposition ---- if required. As the head of the eel rots over time, the warts will disappear. This cure generally works better in the summer months, because the eel's head rots faster.
To improve eyesight, add a drop of dew to the gall bladder of a nightingale caught before daybreak and annoint the eyelashes.
To enhance the flow of bile from the liver, eat dandelions.
To determine pregnancy, have her drink mead before she went to bed. If her stomach hurt when she woke up, then she was pregnant.
To determine the sex of a woman's child, ask the woman to stick out her hand. If she produces the right, then the child will be a boy; but, if the left is produced, then she will have a girl.
There are numerous such cures collected throughout history. Reading them makes me eternally grateful that I was born in this century.