Hangover Cures & Bacchus – January 1st

Marble statue of Bacchus from the Temple of Mithras London. The inscription reads ‘hominibus vagis vitam’ Translation … (give) life to men who wander.

On the eighth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
8 Maids a Milking; 7 Swans a Swimming; 6 Geese a Laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds; 3 French Hens; 2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

The 8th day is the day of the Throbbing Head. Leonard Cohen wrote in ‘Closing Time’ about drinking to excess. I like to think he refers to Christmas and New Year’s Day:

And the whole damn place goes crazy twice
And it’s once for the devil and it’s once for Christ
But the boss don’t like these dizzy heights
We’re busted in the blinding lights of closing time.

So what you need is a hangover cure. Nature provides many plants that can soothe headaches. And in the midst of the season of excess, lets start with a hangover cure.

Common ivy Photo by Zuriel Galindo from unsplash

Ivy, ‘is a plant of Bacchus’…. ‘the berries taken before one be set to drink hard, preserve from drunkenness…. and if one hath got a surfeit by drinking of wine, the speediest cure is to drink a draft of the same wine, wherein a handful of ivy leaves (being first bruised) have been boiled.’

Culpeper Herbal 1653 quoted in ‘the Perpetual Almanac’ by Charles Kightly

The image of Bacchus above is from a fascinating article by the Museum of London on wine making in Roman Britain. Bacchus is often shown with an ivy crown around his head as Romans were wont to wear them to fend of hangovers.

Back to our hangover cures:

Crack Willow Trees on the Oxford Canal, August 2021

One of the best documented is willow bark. Here is a record of how simple it could be to use:

‘I am nearly 70 years old and was born and bred in Norfolk… My father, if he had a ‘skullache’ as he called it, would often chew a new growth willow twig, like a cigarette in the mouth.’

‘A Dictionary of Plant Lore by Roy Vickery (Pg 401)

In the 19th Century Willow was found to contain salicylic acid from which aspirin was derived. As a child I remember chewing liquorice sticks in a similar way, although supposedly for the pleasure and the sweetness not for the many medicinal virtues of the plant.

Yesterday’s weather on the 5th Day of Christmas was warm and wet. This means, according to Gervase Markham, that the 5th Month, May will be sunny and warm. (source: ‘The English Husbandman’ of 1635. )

The Day of Nymphs in Greece dedicated to Artemis, Andromeda, Ariadne, Ceres. (according to the Goddess Book of Days by Diane Stein.)

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