What We Used To Believe
Every now and then we like to explore ‘old world’ remedies for illness. These folkways are fascinating reminders of how we all strive to understand our bodies. There were very real life-threatening concerns about threats to our wellbeing. This was all part of our efforts to cure what ailed us.
So here are a few interesting tidbits:
How Night Air Spread Diseases like Black Death
Back in the Middle ages, it was believed that bad air came from the decay of organic matter. People believed this foulness was more free-floating at night, especially for those who lived near swampy areas. The cure was to stay indoors at night with doors and windows tightly shut.
Epilepsy as Divine Visitation
Divine visits from the gods and goddesses of early Greece were believed to be the cause of epilepsy. The Greeks referred to this sacred disease as being neither a good or bad one. The quality of the visit was dependent upon the symptoms. For example, if during a seizure one screamed like a horse, the visit was thought to be from Poseidon who ruled the sea, earthquakes and horses.
Mental Illness and Witchcraft
Witch or wizard curses were the cause of mental illness, according to Medieval folkways. The most common medieval treatment was exorcism which was supposed to rid the person of the curse and/or demonic possession. During the Renaissance, burning the body to free the imprisoned soul was a common treatment.
Today we can laugh at these beliefs, right?
One can only imagine how future generations will look upon some of our medical lore. Perhaps they will wonder how it was we thought an apple a day, glass of wine nightly, or sleep tablets could help us set the world right.