Home Page

Stefan's Florilegium


This document is also available in: text or RTF formats.

mandrake-art - 9/4/00


"Hildegard van Bingen's treatise on the use of mandrake" translated by Cairistiona nic Bhraonnaguinn


NOTE: See also the files: seeds-msg, herbs-msg, herb-uses-msg, lavender-msg,  rue-msg, spices-msg, p-herbals-msg, roses-art.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set

of files, called StefanŐs Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at:



Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be

reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first

or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


                               Thank you,

                                    Mark S. Harris

                                    AKA:  Stefan li Rous

                                         stefan  at florilegium.org



Hildegard van Bingen's treatise on the use of mandrake

translated by Cairistiona nic Bhraonnaguinn


Algarica is called Mandrake: it is hot in the first degree and dry in

the other. And Mandrake is formed from the earth, out of which Adam

was made, and looks a bit like a person but is a herb and comes in two

forms: one is the man, the other the woman; the form of the woman is

rather better.


And for the sake of comparison, so the devil lies therein and his

ghost is there more when in a container (?) with other herbs.  And

because of that he grows out of people's desires, be they good or bad,

as he sometimes does with idols.  So one digs this herb out, so should

one throw it into a spring for *xii hours, a day and a night; thus the

water bites all evil humours out, that it is therefore no longer good

for backsliding.  It is, however, the man who pulls the herb out with

the earth and the earth hangs onto it, so that one does not wash it,

as I said before, so it is linked with various backsliding things and

sends a great deal of evil with it, as sometimes happens with idols.

So the great masters say that the herb mandrake, the one which has the

man's form, is better for doctoring than that which has the woman's

form, because the man is stronger and more perfect than the woman.


A) It should be known that mandrake is good to use for all trembling.

Whoever has headache, from whichever disorder it springs, he should

eat from the head-like part of the herb, however much he wants, [and]

it will be reduced.


B) Has he pain in the throat, so should he eat from the throat of the

form; it goes from him.


C) And to whichever kind of pain the person has, so should he eat the

aforementioned herb from the place where the similarity lies; it helps

him well.


D) Whoever cannot control himself and is uncouth from backsliding ways

or from the uncouthness of burning heat (?), he should take the female

form of mandrake, which bites himself in water, as I have described

earlier, and cut from it that [part] which is in the form between the

breast and the navel on the herb, and bind it on his navel for three

days and three nights.  And cut then the same piece in half, and bind

on piece on each hip also for three days and three nights. And powder

also the left hand of the herb, and add a little camphor to the

powder, and eat that, and in this way his impure desires will be



E) And if it is a woman who cannot control herself for uncouthness,

she should take the aforementioned herb the mandrake, which has the

man's form, and works with it in all the manner which is written down

before: and powder from the right hand.  And use it as said earlier:

so it will be reduced.


F) Mandrake is good to use against poison.


G) It is also good to use against disorders of the liver.


H) It is also good to use against disorders of the loins.


I/J) It helps also against disorders of the lungs.


K) It also reduces swelling of the spleen.


L) Whoever has a depressed nature and always has sorrow and worry in

his heart, he lays the mandrake, which has been bitten, beside him in

his bed, so that the herb heats with his sweat, and speaks thus: "God,

who from the clod made men on the earth without pains, I lay now by me

this earth, which has never broken out (?), that my earth also feels

joy, as you intended."  So you will feel the depression [going] and

sense the joy in your heart.  And if you do not have mandrake, then

take the *fruits of the tree called Fagus, that is, the first which

shoots here:  the hand of nature and holiness of people: and break

them off whole:  and watch that you do not break them: and lay them

by you in the bed, that they may become warm from you and that they

may touch your sweat.  And say also the words written before.  Instead

[you may take] of the Cedar tree or aspen:  so you will gain joy in

your heart.


* xii - this may be either a mis-transcription of XII (12) or an

idiosyncratic spelling of zwei.  I would go with the former, as Mother

Hildegard is fairly consistent with her spelling in this text, and

elsewhere spells zwei (2) as zwey.  The day-and-night comment

immediately after bears me out, I think.


* reduced - the modern usage of the word has a flavour of penance

about it.


* fruits - technically hips or haws, although it would appear that

in this context it is beechmast.



Copyright 1999 by Christina van Tets. <cjvt  at hotmail.com>


Mitrani Dept. of Desert Ecology

Blaustein Institute for Desert Research

Midreshet Ben-Gurion

84990 Israel


Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications,

provided the author is credited and receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in

the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also

appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being

reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org