Jan 17, 2012

A is for Apothecary

If you were to look in a dictionary, for the word apothecary or apothecaries you would find this as one definition a·poth·e·car·y - a person who prepared and sold medicine and drugs.
The origin of the word apothecary is old.. one of its origins is derived from the word apotheca which is a place to store herbs, spices and wines. In my research on this, I found the that during the 13th century the word became popular in Britain and it was used to describe those people who sold the spice etc from shops and stalls, basically they were grocers.  By the 1600's these grocers had become what we today would call modern day pharmacists.  These apothecaries even formed a society with a little help from King James wife Anne who swilled potions from one of the grocer types.. Scary eh :-)
King James justified his decision in the House of Commons in 1624: "I myself did devise that corporation and do allow it. The grocers, who complain of it, are but merchants; the mystery of these apothecaries were belonging to apothecaries, wherein the grocers are unskilful; and therefore I think it is fitting they should be a corporation of themselves." 
 So how does this word apothecary fit into witchery?  While I am no expert nor historian,  I know that cunning men and wise woman have been apothecaries, known by many other names long before the word apothecary was ever written on parchment, by some bald headed bloke, in a bad wig.
Before there were drugs and doctors there were herbs, cunning men, wise woman, midwives, grandmothers, witches.
History has long confirmed this, that village people knocked on the doors of these wise folk, seeking herbs and healing hands, in latter times this often leading to persecution.
Many of the herbs they used were those dispensed by apothecaries, barbers, surgeons and clergy but the practitioners of those occupations were never burned for their dispensing.
Comfrey, Feverfew, Arnica, Woodruff, Yarrow, Meadowsweet, Hyssop, Lavender, Marigold, Borage, wild Bergamot, Chamomile, Plantain and Valerian to name just a few that are part of my life.  I know, as well as my ancestors did, the powers and magickal abilities of plants. Although, I do not sell herbs as medicine per se, personally they as well as teas, tinctures, washes, sachets, oils, salves, incense and charms all have important roles in the eclectic journey I amble along.
It is not unusual to find jars of herbs infusing on my window ledges for salves, handmade soaps and magickal oils.
While, I do have a bit of a love affair with those delightfully witch-y apothecary jars, I tend to make things in portions to be used. 500ml to 1 litre bottles in fact. Some of those would be the likes of a house cleansing wash, healing salves of Comfrey, Plantain, Calendula or Arnica then there is four thieves vinegar.. my recipe is not for your salad greens. Some of the easier apothercary mixtures can make for a little daily magick on the most basic level within your home and craft..
I use on a weekly/fortnightly basis in my home,  a house protection wash for doors and door steps
So easy to make;
I prefer to use rain water or filtered water.. tap water left out over night would be fine.. I heat the water and then add a bundle wrapped in cloth of Rosemary, Hyssop, Lavender, sometimes Rue all in equal parts then I add some Van Van oil ( I make my own) I let this steep for a week or so. I then add a cup to half a bucket of water and use this to clean the external doors to my home and door steps..  if your house is feeling a little "down or negative" you can use this to wash the floors.. when I have finished with the water, I pour it down the drain out side my house on the street, quiet conveniently placed I must add.  . but any external drain will do...
A word of warning though.. please be mindful of what your doing with herbs and what your ingesting.. not all plants are of the eating/drinking variety and can make you very sick.. if not worse!


Anonymous said...

I love your blog!
It feels so . . . PAGAN!

Weissdorn said...

Nice post Wendy. The word for chemist where I live (in Germany) is 'Apotheke'. And a chemist is called an 'Apotheker' (or 'Apothekerin' if the person's a woman). And during their first year in learning their profession, they still have to make a collection of herbs. Many collect them in special grated boxes with a glass cover to proudly put them on display in their homes.
Photo: http://www.tiebelkurier.at/data/pix/bilder/zedenwihen_111219100607.jpg

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