Old Herbals

Goodness! It’s been a harrowing couple of weeks. My computer’s hard drive crashed and even using an online backup service, I had to recreate some data files – right in the middle of tax season! I’m mostly back to what passes for normal around here.

As you may have noticed from prior posts, I love reading old herbals. Sometimes I get a glimpse into life before allopathic medicine came into being; sometimes I scare the shit out of myself reading about what was used to “cure” what back in the day; and yet other times I find a new or interesting use for a spell ingredient.

Some time during the computer fiasco, a friend asked me about old herbals. Specifically, which to read. That is a difficult list to compile as I have quite a few reprints, some as pdfs on my computer and yet others that I’ve not downloaded but read online. I’ll probably end up editing this post several times as I remember a book or actually find something I had in my now-lost bookmarks menu.

If the book is freely available & I’ve downloaded it, I’ll give you a link. If I have a hard copy, do a search & get it from your favorite bookseller. In no particular order:

Pollington, Stephen. Leechcraft: Early English Charms Plantlore and Healing. This is an updated translation with cross-references of:

Cockayne, Thomas Oswald. Leechdoms, Wortcunning & Starcraft of Early England.

Rohde, Eleanour Sinclair. The Old English Herbals. This one is sort of a discussion of the above two (not old, though).

Matteson, Mrs. Antonette. The Occult Family Physician And Botanic Guide to Health.

Beith, Mary. Healing Threads: Traditional Medicines of the Highlands and Islands. Not exactly old but she discusses “old” Highlands medicine quite effectively.

Leyel, Mrs. C. F. Magic of Herbs.

Culpeper, Nicholas The English Physician

della Porta, Giambattista (John Baptist Porta). Magia Naturalis This is a link to the Latin version. There is an English translation in pdf but I can’t immediately find it. If I do, I’ll update the link. ETA: Here it is in English on scribd or all online.

Paracelsus. Of the Supreme Mysteries of Nature

Any of the US Dispensatories on this page

And of course,

Grieve, Mrs. M. A Modern Herbal which I have in hard copy but can be found online at Botanical.com

That ought to get y’all started! As I said, I’ll update as I find other books or recover lost bookmarks.

ETA: I found an old Scottish herbal awhile back, too.

ETA2: Gerarde, John, The Herball or General Historie of Plantes (1597)  n.b.: This is a huge file. Try to download it when your computer is doing nothing else.