[Authentic_SCA] what to do Laurel berries: Hildegard von Bingen
- Teffania wrote:
I'm especially excited by Hildegard von Bingen's work, since my focus is
late 12th C.
If you have the time to copy the information [on the uses of berries
from the laurel tree], I'd really appreciate it.
Here it is then. For those of you who didn't see the previous emails,
modern sources suggest not eating the berries.
I'll copy from Gerard in a second email.
Hildegard von Bingen wrote:
"The laurel tree (_laurus_) is hot and has a bit of dryness. It
signifies constancy. [uses of leaves and bark]
The fruit of this tree is very hot, it checks all fevers in him. If
you are troubled with gicht and fevers, you should recude these berries
to a powder, and add half as much of the powder of the fruit which grows
on pine cones. If you do not have pine nuts, mix in half as much
powdered fenugreek. Warm it in wine, and drink it hot. The gicht and
fever will cease.
"Also, express the oil of these berries and anoint your body where it is
troubled with gicht, and you will be better. If you add to this oil a
third part of savin sap, or that of the box tree, it will be a much
stronger oil and it will penetrate your skin more quickly for healing,
and the gicht will go from you.
"If you have pain in your head, pound these berries, infused with a
bit of wine, in a mortar. Then smear this wine over the top of your
head, your forehead, temples and entire head. When this is done, cover
your head, so that it becomes warm, and put yourself to bed. Although
you have great pain, that pain will go away.
"If you are sick in your lungs, so that they are putrescent,
pulverize these berries and frequently eat this powder with bread, and
you will be cured. If you have pain in your stomach, cook these berries
in wine and drink the wine warm. It will carry mucus away from your
stomach and purge it, and will even expel fever from it.
"When these berries are raw, express the oil from them. When you
touch the inside of your eyes with it, it will remove the fogginess from
them. Or, if you have pain in your heart, or in your side, or if you
have a fetid stomach, so that you even produce unclean saliva, make
little cakes of this oil and a bit of flour and eat them. They will
clean your stomach, overcome the fetid humors, and bring forth good,
Hildegard of Bingen's Physica. translated by Priscilla Throop. 1998
Healing Arts Press, Rochester VT (ISBN0892816619) pp.116-117
gicht, says the translator, covers a variety of ailments including gout,
arthritis, rheumatism, lumbago and sciatica.
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>Teffania asked about uses for the berries from the bay (laurel)
Gerard's Herbal, just at the end of Period, says (I leave in the old
"Of the Bay or Laurell tree"
"The Berries and leaues of the Bay tree, saith Galen, are hot and
very drie, and yet the berries more than the leaues.
Bay Berries with Hony or Cute, are good in a licking medicine, saith
Dioscorides, against the pthisicke or Consumption of the lungs,
difficulty of breathing and all kinde of fluxes or rheumes about the chest.
[stuff about leaves omitted]
Bay Berries taken in wine, are good against the bitings and
stingings of any venemous beast and against all venome and poison: they
clense away the morphew; the juice pressed out hereof is a remedy for
paine of all eares, and deafnesse, if it be dropped in with old wine and
oile of Roses: this is also mixed with ointments that are good against
wearisomenesse, and that heate and difcusse or waste away humors.
Bay berries are put into Mithridate, Treacle, and shuch like
medicines that are made to refresh such people as are growne sluggish
and dull by means of taking opiate medicines, or such as haue any
venomous or poisoned quality in them.
They are good also against cramps and drawing together of sinewes.
We in our time do not vse the berries for the infirmities of the
lungs, or chest, but minister them against the diseases of the stomache,
liuer, spleene, and bladder: they warme a cold stomacke, cause
concostion of raw humours, stirre vp a decaied appetite, take away the
loathing of meat, open the stopping of theliuer and spleene, prouoke
vrine, bring down the menses, and driue forth the secondine.
The oile pressed out of these, or drawne forth by decoction, doth in
short time take away scabs and such like filth of the skin.
It cureth them that are beaten blacke and blew, and that be bruised
by squats and falls, it remooueth blacke and blew spots and congealed
bloud, and digesteth and wasteth away the humors gathered about the
[a bit about leaves]
The Berries of the Bay tree stamped with a little Scammonie and
Saffron, and laboured in a mortar with vineger and oile of Roses to the
forme of a liniment, and applied to the temples and forepart of the
head, do greatly cease the paine of the Megrim."
[Gerard quotes Dioscorides as saying the bark in wine induces abortions]
pp. 1407-1408. The Herbal or General History of Plants, John Gerard.
1633 edition, revised and enlarged by Thomas Johnson (the publisher
comments that it is not basically changed from the 1599 version, making
it a "remarkable compendium of Elizabethan folklore and naturalistic
description"). Dover Publications, New York. 1973. (ISBN 048623147-X)
Both Galen and Dioscorides are Roman sources used throughout the Middle
This is plant is The Laurel--the plant that is on the devices of all SCA
kingdoms, baronies and shires; and that the Order of the Laurel is named
for. Perhaps when we say in ceremonies "the laurel is a gentle,
healing plant" we could be saying "the laurel is hot!"
(or, in more general usage: "Something giving you a headache? You
need a Laurel!")
Order of the Laurel
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