Tuesday, October 15, 2019

How to Freshen Your Face, 1565

John Bulwer, Anthropometamorphosis
Take a bean, and having chewed it well, spit it on a cloth, then rub your face with this, and you will make the face beautiful and glowing, and the skin soft.  
Isabella Cortese, I segreti de la signora Isabella Cortese
Your new secret for dewy skin on-the-go: homemade bean paste!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

How to Increase Your Energy, 15th century

Getty MS Ludwig XV i, f. 13 (15th c.)

For the evil that is called lethargy. Take your own hair, burnt, mixed with vinegar and a little pitch, and lay that over the nostrils.
Also, swine's dung laid thereto is good.
Also, place the eyes, the heart and the tongue of the nightingale under the pillow, or in the bed, and it shall keep him waking while he lies there, and whoever drinks it, he shall never sleep.  
15th century medical compilation in British Library Sloane 3489, f. 1r-v
The world is an exhausting place. Perhaps you'd like to cover your face with dung, crawl into bed, and never sleep again?

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

How to Cure Your Cough, 1558

BnF, MS Lat. 9471 (15th c.)

A most beautiful and pleasant secret for curing a cough by greasing the soles of the feet. An extremely true thing, and very easy. 
Take two or three heads of garlic and peel them, and crush them very well, and then add pork fat, and crush it together well again. Then, in the evening when you want to go to bed, take your socks off and put the soles of your feet toward the fire, and grease the soles with the mixture of garlic and fat. And keeping the feet always to the fire so that it almost burns you, or as hot as you can endure, let the ointment stay on for a while. Then put on warm socks and go to bed, and in bed have your back massaged a little with the ointment. And after three evenings you will be miraculously cured from any cough.
De’ segreti del reverendo donno Alessio Piemontese
It's cold season and all you really want is a miraculous cure for your cough, succulent feet, and the odor of roasted garlic and bacon wherever you go. Is that too much to ask?

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

How to Interpret Forehead Wrinkles, 1562

“Well-positioned and advantageous lines are those that are either straight or a little bent, continuous, clear, not divided, not interrupted, not crossed or like an asterisk, or merging into each other… Lines that are crossed by other little lines, or intersect in the form of a cross, signify dangers, obstacles, and losses… if they are angled, bent, or twisted in some way, they indicate a character that is inconstant, sly, deceitful and frankly bad. Lines that are nice and large and conspicuous signify great and notable fates; small and obscure lines signify small and obscure fates… Great winding in the length of the lines is very bad. It identifies the most terrible and wicked people. Slightly bent lines signify wealth.”  
Hagecius ab Hajek, Aphorismorum metoposcopicorum libellus unus  
Listen, wrinkles are nothing to worry about. They just tell your story! Which is that you are a fraud and bad with money.

"Happy and fortunate."                      "Winding lines like this signify                        "Dangers in the water."
a terrible character."


Friday, June 7, 2019

How to Pest-Proof Your House, 1639

Vincenzo Leonardi, Common Hoopoe (c. 1619)
To repel flies, spiders, scorpions, and other animals from your house. Take hoopoe feathers, and burn them in the room, and when these animals smell the odor, they will leave, and never return, and this is proven. 
De' Secreti del R. D. Alessio Piemontese 
You'll rest easy tonight in your pest-free, hoopoe-charred bedroom.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

How to Bathe in January, c. 7th century

Morgan Library, MS G.74, f. 19r
"January... Four baths in the course of the month; soap with sodium carbonate diluted in wine. Make a compound skin lotion by mixing 3 lb. weight aloes, 1 lb. myrrh, 2 egg yolks; combine these and apply to the skin. This is the quantity per person. Apply it before you enter the bath, and have three bucketfuls [of water] poured over you, then sweat, then go into the open air and sponge the ointment off thoroughly. After washing the ointment off, rub down with cooling wine and egg yolks mixed with hot rose oil, then make love." 
Hierophilus the Sophist, Dietary Calendar
If your bath routine does not involve pounds of lotion and fragrant mayonnaise, you are not living your best January.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

How to Make It Through November, c. 7th c.

British Library, MS Add. 19352, f. 101v
"November governs the watery phlegm. This month there must be no baths or anointing: if necessary, just two baths. Among meats, no deer or goat or wild boar or wild goat. All other meats of animals and birds may be eaten, lean, served hot, boiled and spiced; including sucklings. Among fish eat any except the more watery ones, corkwing and gobies, but do not eat scaleless fish. In using spices prefer the bitter tastes. Leek and mallow are good to eat, and all dry foods. Old, light, aromatic wines. Take fenugreek soup occasionally. Make love." 
Hierophilus the Sophist, Dietary Calendar 
Fenugreek soup and chill?