Saturday, January 2, 2010

Shades of Mrs. Leyel

Odds things are afoot in this New Year....

Just two days ago I found a 1948 edition of Mrs. Leyel's Hearts Ease, in which she elaborates on the works of Nicholas Culpeper, 17th century herbalist, apothecary and astrologer.

Then ..... today..... after trying unsuccessfully to attend a gun show (we live in Virginia, attendance is almost mandatory), then wandering across town to an antique mall (where my daughter bought a World War II gas mask -those of you who know us IRL will immediately understand this- the rest of you simply try to get past it).....then, completely unexpectedly, I found these:

Culinary & Medicinal Herbs, Bulletin No. 76 of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1951.

This is a puzzlement, since the 1941 Pharmacy Act was in full swing, and the only way to enjoy herbs in a medicinal manner was to join the Society of Herbalists. The table of contents lists something fascinating called a 'squirting cucumber'. Can't wait to see what that is....

On the same shelf:

Herb Gathering, 1934, London, England. Explains herb by herb all the various ways they should be gathered to be used and preserved. The inside back cover carries an advertisement for Brome & Schimmer, Wholesale Druggists, Botanical Drug Importers and Spice Merchants, Drug and Spice Millers. These folks pre-date the Pharmacy Act. I wonder if they were put out of business by it?

And then the rhyming Herbs For Urbans - and Suburbans, by Katherine van der Veer, 1938.

It has a spiral binding, with a note on the back cover that the patent for said binding has been applied for. It contains lots of recipes, and a entire section on herbal vinegars, many with blended flavors, something I haven't seen before.

But, the absolute surprise was seeing Mrs. Leyel's cosmic hands deliver this book into my possession, just 48 hours after learning of Nicolas Culpeper:

Culpeper's Medicine: A Practice of Western Holistic Medicine

The entire book combines Culpeper's views on herbal medicine, philosophy and astrology, with an entire section on his life (1616-1654), and is focus on preserving health and prevention of disease.

The author, Graeme Tobyn, is a practicing herbalist, and a translator of medieval astrological texts. Not often you see that combination.

Even more pleasant than finding this book is discovering Culpeper was a man after my own heart. From the book, a quote from Nicholas Culpeper:

"The Liberty of our Common-Wealth (if I may call it so without a solecism) is most infringed by three sorts of men, Priests, Physicians, Lawyers...the one deceives men in matters belonging to their soul, the other in matters belonging to their bodies, and the third in matters belonging to their estates."

Give me time to absorb the book and we'll share more Culpeper.

1 comment:

  1. May I just begin to tell you how absolutely jealous I am!! I'm green with envy!! (sorry, couldn't resist that one)
    What FANTASTIC finds!!!!!! YAY YOU!!!! :D