“You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” ~ John Green

Medieval Illustration: Astrology and the Body


“We all get lost once in a while, sometimes by choice, sometimes due to forces beyond our control. When we learn what it is our soul needs to learn, the path presents itself.” ~ Cecelia Ahern
Medieval Medicinal Herbs

It seems that I was just talking about the number of people I have come across who are giving up blogging. For some people, the time just seems right to close a chapter in their lives. For other, it is less a matter of timing and more a matter of  giving up the ghost, as it were. Blogging no longer offers the sense of accomplishment, or the challenge, or the outlet for release that it once did, and so, the blog dies—sometimes naturally, and sometimes with assistance. I find it sad no matter what the cause.

So extremely sad news, not just for me but for all fans of one of my favorite blogs: Floridana, by Janson Jones. Janson, whose life is very full with his family and his full-time job teaching at the University of Alaska, has decided to end his current blog.

I’ve been following Janson’s blog since I first began blogging myself. To not have it available for weekly reading is going to be a loss. The good news is that Janson plans to keep posting his beautiful photographs on deviantArt. DeviantArt is a wonderfully eclectic site that features submissions in many categories: digital art, photography, traditional art, film and animation, manga/anime, flash, and fan art.  If you’ve never visited this site, you might want to take a stroll through the submissions, many of which can be purchased.

Janson’s link on deviantArt can be found on my blogroll under Visual Stimulation or by clicking here. Janson, I’m really going to miss your posts and your incredible photography of Alaska, Florida, and other parts. Take care.

I have come to drag you out of yourself and take you in my heart. I have come to bring out the beauty you never knew you had, and lift you like a prayer to the sky.” ~ Jalal al-Din Rumi
Medieval Illustration: Veins in the Body

In other news around the blogosphere, I came across a few posts in recent days that deserve mentioning. First, there was a wonderfully-insightful post on Truth and Rocket Science called “Glass Full of Oil.” John, the author of the post, is originally from New Orleans, so he feels the acute dismay of this spill keenly. The post deals with the ethical issues of a country dependent upon fossil fuels, oil, and the oil business. Ultimately, it asks the hard question:

This isn’t rocket science.  It’s a matter of will.  We are the richest country on Earth, and we can do this if we want to.  While we’re at it, we can finally clean up the mess and set things to right from Katrina.  What America does shows the world—and more importantly, ourselves—what we really want and what we really care about.   What shall we do this time?

Another wonderful post comes from Rodibidably, who recently posted about healthcare reform. This post includes videos from Stephen Colbert, Rachel Maddow, and Representative Barney Frank. The author is worried that the American people have become complacent about reform, and as a result, the opposition is gaining ground. He posits five action points on what still needs to be done about healthcare reform:

  • Ensure that EVERYBODY is covered and has equal access to health care
  • Ensure that medical professionals are making the decisions for what treatment should be given, and not accountants at an insurance company
  • Ensure that NOBODY goes broke due to health care costs
  • Ensure that everybody has access to medical treatment, regardless of the providers’ personal feelings about such treatment (i.e. don’t allow pharmacists to refuse to give women “the pill”)
  • Ensure that “Science Based Medicine” is the basis of treatment

And finally, Titirangi Storyteller featured a post on the 6th of June called “Women Time Forgot.” Unlike the previous two, this is more of a personal post in which the author talks about how we as women are supposed to age as compared to how we really age. Witty and ultimately enjoyable. Here is a taste:

Who are we? Where do we belong? We are the women that time forgot.

There is no name for us. No single word or box we fit into. There is only one acceptable definition – we are The Wild Women!

We’ve paid our dues. We’ve proven everything we need to prove. They ain’t got anything on us! The reason it’s been kept a secret is – we are the most dangerous people alive… We’re no longer living for them – whoever they may be.

Wild women. Women of a certain age. Women time forgot. All of these or perhaps none. Only the woman herself can know.

By the way, Titirangi is in Auckland, New Zealand.

Sometimes inspired thoughts weave themselves into the finest fabrics,
And grow ever fresher and more comely as they expand,
Glistening with colors of the most exquisite embroidery,
And tuned to the poignant music of a thousand strings. ~ Lu Chi
Medieval Illustration: Bloodletting

So last night, just as I was adding the images to my post about feverfew and sunflowers, the Internet went out. The post itself isn’t anything special, but it was one of those that took every ounce in me to write as I was feeling less than creative, downright listless, in fact. So when my computer stopped working, I was royally torqued out of shape. It had taken me almost two hours to write less than 1,000 words. The entire process reminded me of bloodletting.

You know, what they used to do to get rid of illnesses in people: cutting them open and letting the blood drip out so as to rid the body of ill humours, those four things that resided in the body and controlled a person’s health. Never heard of it? Then you didn’t study Medieval and Elizabethan literature because doctors in literature were always bleeding someone or using leeches to cure the ill. Hamlet, for example, is ripe with allusions to his ill-humour.

Even though medicine in the Middle Ages was derived from ancient Greek and Roman texts, elements of Islamic medicine were also incorporated, particularly during the Crusades. Hand-in-hand with the pervasive suspicions and beliefs in the supernatural, Medieval medicine was also based on the idea that factors such as destiny, sin, and astral influences could affect the human body.

The underlying principle of medieval medicine was the theory of humours, which was derived from ancient medical works. The idea of humours, which dominated all western medicine up until the 19th century, stated that within every individual there were four humours, or principal fluids: black bile (earth), yellow bile (fire), phlegm (water), and blood (air). These fluids/humours were produced by various organs in the body, and they had to be in balance for a person to remain healthy.

For example, my melancholy would have been diagnosed as too much earth. Too much phlegm in the body, for example, caused lung problems; so the individual would have been told to cough up the phlegm to restore a balance. The balance of humours in humans could be achieved by diet, medicines, and by blood-letting, using leeches. The four humours were also associated with the four elements and the four seasons, black bile-autumn, yellow bile-summer, phlegm-winter and blood-spring. The signs of the zodiac were also associated with certain humours. Even now, some still use words “choleric”, “sanguine”, “phlegmatic” and “melancholy” to describe personalities.

Aries Avoid incisions in the head and face and cut no vein in the head.
Taurus Avoid incisions in the neck and throat and cut no veins there.
Gemini Avoid incisions in the shoulders, arms or hands and cut no vein.
Cancer Avoid incisions in the breasts, sides, stomach and lungs and cut no vein that goes to the spleen.
Leo Avoid incisions of the nerves, lesions of the sides and bones, and do not cut the back either by opening and bleeding.
Virgo Avoid opening a wound in the belly and in the internal parts.
Libra Avoid opening wounds in the umbellicus and parts of the belly and do not open a vein in the back or do cupping.
Scorpio Avoid cutting the testicles and anus.
Sagittarius Avoid incisions in the thighs and fingers and do not cut blemishes and growths.
Capricorn Avoid cutting the knees or the veins and sinews in these places.
Aquarius Avoid cutting the knees or the veins and veins in these places.
Pisces Avoid cutting the feet.
Treatment According to Zodiac Sign
“Man is a microcosm, or a little world, because he is an extract from all the stars and planets of the whole firmament, from the earth and the elements; and so he is their quintessence.” ~ Parcelus, 16th Century Physician
Medieval Doctor's Bloodletting Blades

Historically, physicians believed that many illnesses were caused by an excess of blood, and bloodletting was a frequent prescription for a wide range of conditions. As far-fetched as it may sound, the bloodletting may have actually been beneficial in some cases, as, for example, in cases of high blood pressure. Lowering blood volume would lower blood pressure. On the other hand, the loss of too much blood could make  patients sicker, and unfortunately, repeated bloodletting was often employed if a patient did not show improvement.

Therapeutic bloodletting was accomplished by puncturing veins punctured with knives or needles, or by using leeches to suck blood from a patient. Leeches are still used in modern medical treatment to treat specific conditions, such as poor circulation. In some cases, leeches can actually restore the flow of blood to a damaged extremity, potentially preventing the loss of that extremity.

So, bearing all of that in mind, I need to avoid cutting my knees, and I need an infusion of lemon balm (insomnia), chamomile (headaches), and yarrow (pain relief).

More later. Peace.

Eric Clapton, “Change the World”


10 thoughts on ““You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” ~ John Green

  1. Poietes,
    I have entered the blogging world only recently and did so with specific objectives and a healthy dose of trepidation. My biggest objective was intellectual stimulation with a secondary hope of edifying others regarding how we think. My reluctance was based in my humility as well as a lack of familiarity with the paradigm.

    Having been at this for 5 months now I’m sensing a few things (although I am perhaps wrong): (1) The ebb of blogging has come and gone and there now seems to be a contraction; (2) The lay public has a generally negative attitude toward blogging, bloggers, and their eyes glaze over when one mentions one’s blog; (3) people are overwhelmed with information; (4) getting a following – making oneself accessible to interested readers is more work than the bogging itself; (5) sustaining a commitment to blogging demands a sizable investment of time that often comes at the expense of other important demands; and (6) the rewards, unless internal, are slow to materialize.

    Being in it for the long haul with internalized objectives will sustain one as long as the internal rewards remain sufficient. Otherwise over time I’m afraid it can become much like the medieval blood letting you mention. To each her own – but we also have an incredible propensity to habituate to rewards.

    Thanks for an interesting post!

    1. Gerald,
      I agree that the blogging wave may have already crested and that people who do not blog prefer not to have to hear about or read other people’s blogs.

      I blog for many reasons. I have been through my own stagnant periods, but feel as if I am now entering into a period of renewed creativity. I will continue to blog for as long as I receive a sense of personal satisfaction and not a moment beyond that.

  2. Hi Lita.
    Great post. I adore all these ancient remedies and the folklore. An elderly aunt of mine had this wonderful old book which gave numerous hints. potions and special food stuffs to be eaten and performed when selecting the gender of a child. There were other chapters for such things as woman’s hysteria, ridding the house of vermin by the stars. etc etc. The thing is, she told me that he predecessors actually acted on them! There was however, a great page about the use of leeches and maggots ,something modern medicine uses today.
    Big hugs

    1. Maureen,
      I know that they use maggots to eat the dead flesh on burn victims. Sounds horrible, but makes so much sense. I would love to ave seen your aunt’s book.
      Big hugs,

  3. Loved this about “ancient medicines”. Of course, we still have the “old timers- aka my Dad”, who insisted !!! that hot goose grease could cure pneumonia -is that spelled correctly?, a mustard plaster would “pull ” the cough out of you, Fells Napha soap would clear any skin condition known to man. He also swore that, and I am NOT making this up, sugar and a “spinch” of kerosene would calm violent coughing. Suffice to say, my mother wouldn’t let him try any of these on me as a child. Oh and least we not forget the tried and true – Hot Toddy, flannel nighties and blankets to “sweat out what ails you”. Oddly enough,the hot toddy treatment does work -if you can stand being hotter than Hell for a few hours!
    Now, on my mom’s side we had the “fat back” cure. This entailed wrapping fat back/salt pork or, if in dire straits, a piece of bacon around a skin lesion. Most times splinters. It would “draw out” the yucky stuff. Yes, I’ve tried it and sadly, it works. You stink but it works-everything from splinters to boils.

    Who needs health care reform when we have these gems from old timers?? HAHA

    1. Sarah,
      My mom was a true believer in mustard plasters. Honey and whiskey for a cough (which works). But she was nothing compared to my Aunt Betty, here good friend from Tennessee who was have Black Foot and believed in all kinds of remedies. Luckily, I never had goose grease or fat back put on me. Pneumonia is spelled correctly. I used to use the steam from a hot shower when Alexis’s asthma got really bad, and it helped. I still use a tablespoon of honey, a bit of lemon juice and a shot of Southern Comfort whenever I have a bad cough. Don’t know if the Southern Comfort just makes me not care, but I do feel better.

  4. This was so hauntingly lovely… especially the Rumi quote. It is so hard these days not to feel the pain present all over our world. I truly believe sensitive people can feel it. Every day. It is bearers of light such as yourself that remind me how important it is to not let the fight become the life we live instead of the challenges we overcome.

    Thank you!

    1. Skye,
      Thank you so much. I love this: “to not let the fight become the life we live instead of the challenges we overcome.” May I use it (with attribution, of course)?
      I’ve never thought of myself as a bearer of light. That is such an awesom thing. I cannot begin to tell you how much I needed to hear something like that.
      As always, your comments are appreciated.

      1. Use it!
        Light-bearers: there are many shining throughout our lives like stars scattered across the night sky. I had a thing for stars in my earlier writing days. I feel those inklings returning to me slowly as I regain my sense of self after a very hectic year. Sorry, I have been in a poetry state of mind these days :).

        Another awesome bearer of light (and deep, still truth): Diana Maus. You may find her blog linked on mine “MosaicMoods.” She is also a *stunning* artist.

        Hugs across the great expanse of fiber optic cyberspace. (((())))

      2. Skye,
        I, too, love the stars, the sky, always have. I know that you haven’t had much time for writing yourself, but perhaps things will become more even and allow you to resume your writing. I have always loved your posts. And never apologize when your poetic side wants to speak.

        I’ll check out the site. Thanks for the info as I always love to come across wonderful, well-written sites.

        Hugs back to you.

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