In the city of simple herbs, with Hildegard and Avicenna

In Medieval Latin the word “medicamentum simplex” was a single herb used as a medicament while several herbs used together were called a “medicamentum compositum. “

From this  Medieval abbeys gardens and later universities gardens where herbs were cultivated for study and medical use were called “Hortus Simplicium“, gardens of simple (medicaments).

Continue reading In the city of simple herbs, with Hildegard and Avicenna

About perfumes, herbs, temperaments

A while ago I had the opportunity of visiting in Rome a true  factory of perfumes of antiquity with its products: the factory of Pyrgos in the southern part of the island of Cyprus.

The myth tells us about Venus, the goddess of beauty and love: when she arose from the foam of the sea, the Graces- who were addicted to the care of her beauty – picked plants and flowers from the island of Cyprus in order to create her inimitable perfume.

Continue reading About perfumes, herbs, temperaments

the sabbath of the witches of Benevento

With the rain and with the wind under the Benevento’s tree (ancient spell)

Luca Signorelli - Duomo of Orvieto (1499)
Luca Signorelli - Duomo of Orvieto (1499)

If every nation has its own witches and devils, the story says from every angle of the world these wicked souls meet  under the walnut of Benevento, an ancient city between the mountains of Sannio, in the heart of  southern Italy.

Romans called this city Maleventum from the ancient name of the city: for them the word sounded like “evil event” so they considered a  doomed city until  276 b.C. when they stopped in its forests Pyrrhus of Epirus, obliging him to come back in his homeland. At this point hardly this city could be considered negative for Romans, and they changed its name in Beneventum, i.e. good event.

Continue reading the sabbath of the witches of Benevento

About winter and phlegm

The motion of the Sun   and the Moon –  in the zodiac and in the day causes the generation of all the bodies under the sky.

The kind of generation is determined by the quality of stars: planets, starred images, comets generate all the alterations occurring in primeval qualities, hot and cold, and dry and wet.  The  mixture of the four elements is called Krasis,  i.e the temperament.

Continue reading About winter and phlegm

The first day of the year

The legend says that  Numa Pompilius, the successor of Romulus,  in his reform of the Calendar added two months to the  Roman calendar, and fixed the beginning of the year at the first day of the month dedicated to Janus, the God of the doors – janua in Latin, from yana (road) in Sanskrit.

That day Romans used to invite friends and offer them honey with dry dates and figs because “ their taste can arrive in things of life and the year can be sweet as in the beginning.” (Ovidius, Fasti) and laurel twigs, called strenae – this word still means gift In Italian– because these twigs came from a small wood dedicated to the Goddess Strenia, bringer of luck and happiness.

Continue reading The first day of the year