Observations placeholder

Culpepper's Complete Herbal on Butterbur

Identifier

021411

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

Quote
Hysteria, more commonly observed in women than in men, was once supposed to be an exclusively feminine disorder and was blamed on a disturbance of the womb. This belief is reflected in the Greek hysterikos, meaning 'hysterica' or 'of the womb' (from hysteria, 'womb'), a standard term for the womb, and rising of the mother, fits of the mother, and even simply mother were hysterical fits brought on by disturbance of the womb. Shakespeare's King Lear, distressed by his daughters' "unnatural" behavior, puts himself figuratively into a maternal position: "O, how this mother swells up toward my heart! Hysterica passio! Down, thou climbing sorrow!"

A description of the experience

BUTTER-BUR

Name. This herb is called petasitis.

Description. It riseth up in February, with a thick stalk about a foot high, whereon are set a few small leaves, or rather pieces, and at the tops a long spiked head of flowers, of a bluish or deep red colour, according to the soil wherein it groweth; and, before the stalk with the flowers have been a month above ground, it will be withered and gone and blow away with the wind, and the leaves will begin to spring, which being full blown, are very large and broad, being somewhat thin and almost round, whose thick red foot stalks, about a foot long stand towards the middle of the leaves; the lower part being divided into two round parts, close almost one to another of a pale green colour, and hairy underneath; the root is long and spreading under the ground, being in some places no bigger than one's finger, in others larger, rather blackish on the outside and white within, and of a very bitter and unpleasant taste.

Place and Time. They grow in low and wet ground by rivers and watersides; their flowers (as is said) rising and decaying in February and March, before their leaves, which appear in April.

Government and virtues. It is under the dominion of the Sun and therefore is a great strengthener of the heart, and cheers the vital spirits. The excellent Fuschius, in his account of this herb, is most express, and records its virtue as wonderful in pestilential fevers; and this he speaks not from tradition, but his own experience. Were it needful to prove the sun gives light, it is scarcely less certain or less obvious, than that this root, beyond all things else cures pestilential fevers, and is by long experience found to be very available against the plague, by provoking sweat; if the powder thereof, be taken in wine, it also resisteth the force of any other poison; the root taken with zedoary and angelica, or without them, helps the rising of the mother; the decoction of the root in wine is singularly good for those that wheeze much, or are short-winded; it provoketh urine also and women's courses, and killeth flat and broad worms in the belly: the powder of the root doth wonderfully help to dry up the moisture of sores that are hard to be cured, and taketh away all spots and blemishes of the skin.

The source of the experience

Culpepper

Concepts, symbols and science items

Concepts

Symbols

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Commonsteps

References