Monday, June 19, 2017

"The Long Lost Friend", an Alternative Medicine Classic

The Long Lost Friend (or, The Long Hidden Friend) was a popular medical book, especially amongst the Pennsylvania Dutch for over 100 years starting in the 19th century. This small book with strange cures certainly does qualify as "many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore."

Many of these cures smack of esoteric or occultic recipes (receipts), but Carleton F. Brown, writing in 1904 has a different angle:

"One of the most valuable and authentic hand-books of the charms and popular magic in use among the people of Eastern Pennsylvania is 'The Long Hidden Friend,' which is reprinted in the following pages. This curious book was written in 1819 by John George Hohman, and for almost a century has been held as a prime authority by the witch-doctors of this section. These witch-doctors are generally known as 'hex-doctors' (German 'hexe,' a witch), and the practice of their arts is often called 'pow-wowing.' It must not be understood from these terms, however, that the witch-doctor is in league with the powers of darkness. On the contrary, he makes it his business to overcome by pious charms the malign influences of the witches who have placed their spells upon man or beast. Accordingly, the incantations of the witch-doctors make extensive use of religious symbols and prayers in which one easily recognizes the survivals of liturgical weapons employed by the mediaeval church in its warfare against witchcraft."

What follows are examples of prescriptions supplied in this book:

A remedy to be used when any one is falling away, and which has cured many persons.
Let the person in perfect soberness and without having conversed with any one, make water in a pot before sunrise; boil an egg in this urine, bore three small holes in this egg with a needle, and carry it to an ant-hill made by big ants; and the person will feel relieved as soon as the egg is devoured.

A Precaution against Injuries.
Whoever carries the right eye of a wolf fastened inside of his right sleeve, remains free from all injuries.

How to obtain things which are desired.
If you call upon another to ask for a favor, take care to carry a little of the firefinger-grass with you, and you shall certainly obtain that you desired.

A sure way of catching Fish.
Take rose seed and mustard seed, and the foot of a weasel, and hang these in a net, and the fish will certainly collect there.

A safe remedy for various ulcers, biles, and other defects.
Take the root of iron-weed, and tie it around the neck; it cures running ulcers; it also serves against obstructions in the bladder (stranguary,) and cures the piles(hemorrhoids), if the roots are boiled in water with honey, and drank; it cleans and heals the lungs and effects a good breath. If this root is planted among grape veins or fruit trees, it promotes the growth very much. Children who carry it, are educated without any difficulty; they become fond of all useful arts and sciences, and grow up joyfully and cheerfully.

To destroy Warts.
Roast Chicken-feet and rub the warts with them, then bury them under the eaves.

A good remedy to stop Bleeding
This is the day on which the injury happened. Blood, thou must stop, until the Virgin Mary bring forth another sun.—Repeat these words three times.

To stop Bleeding.
Count backwards from fifty inclusive till you come down to three. As soon as you arrive at three, you will be done bleeding.

A good remedy for the Tooth-ache.
Cutout a piece of greensword (sod) in the morning before sunrise, quite unbeshrewedly, from any place, breathe three times upon it, and put it down upon the same place from which it was taken.

A remarkable passage from the book of Albertus Magnus.
It says: If you burn a large frog to ashes and mix the ashes with water, you will obtain an ointment that will, if put on any place covered with hair, destroy the hair and prevent it from growing again.

To make Chickens lay many Eggs.
Take the dung of rabbits, pound it to powder, mix it with bran, wet the mixture till it forms lumps, and feed your chickens with it, and they will keep on laying a great many eggs.

A good method of destroying Rats and Mice.
Every time you bring grain into your barn, you must, in putting down the three first sheaves, repeat the following words: "Rats and mice, these three sheaves I give to you, in order that you may not destroy any of my wheat." The name of the kind of grain must always be mentioned.

How to cause male or female thieves to stand still, without being able to move backward or forward.
In using any prescriptions of this book in regard to making others stand still, it is best to be walking about; and repeat the following three times:
"Oh Peter, oh Peter, borrow the power from God: what I shall bind with the bands of a christian hand, shall be bound; all male or female thieves, be they great or small, young or old, shall be spell-bound by the power of God, and not be able to walk forward or backward, until I see them with my eyes, and give them leave with my tongue, except it be that they count for me all the stones that may be between heaven and earth, all rain-drops, all the leaves and all the grass in the world. This I pray for the repentance of my enemies. Repeat your articles of faith and the Lord's prayer.
If the thieves are to remain alive, the sun dare not shine upon them before their release. There are two ways of releasing them, which will be particularly stated: "The first is this, that you tell him in the name of St. John to leave: the other is as follows: "The words which have bound thee, shall give thee free."

How to make Molasses.
Take pumpkins, boil them, press the juice out of them, and boil the juice to a proper consistence. There is nothing else necessary. The author of this book, John George Hohman, has tasted this molasses, thinking it was the genuine kind, until the people of the house told him what it was.

To make good Beer. 
Take a handful of hops, five or six gallons of water, about three table-spoonsful of ginger, half a gallon of molasses; filter the water, hops and ginger into a tub containing the molasses.

Cure for the Epilepsy. 
Take a turtle-dove, cut its throat, and let the person afflicted with epilepsy drink the blood.

A good cure for Wounds. 
Take the bones of a calf, and burn them until they turn to power, and then screw it into the wound. This powder prevents the flesh from purifying, and is therefore of great importance in healing the wound.

To destroy Crab-Lice.
Take capuchin powder, mix it with hog's lard, and smear yourself with it. Or, boil cammock, and wash the place where the lice keep themselves.

To remove a Scum or Skin from the Eye.
Before sunrise on St. Bartholomew's day, you must dig up four or five roots of the dandelion weed, taking good care to get the ends of the roots; then you must procure a rag and a thread that have never been in the water; the thread, which dare not have a single knot in it, is used in sewing up the roots into the rag, and the whole is then to be hanged before the eye until the scum disappears. The tape by which it it is fastened, must never have been in the water.

For deafness, roaring or buzzing in the ear, & for tooth-ache.
A few drops of refined camphor-oil put upon cotton, and thus applied to the aching tooth, relieves very much. When put in the ear, it strengthens the hearing, and removes the roaring and whizzing in the same.

A good way to cause children to cut their teeth without pain.
Boil the brain of a rabbit, and rub the gums of the children with it, and their teeth will grow without any pain to them.

For Vomiting and Diarrhea. 
Take pulverised cloves and eat them together with bread soaked in red wine, and you will soon find relief. The cloves maybe put upon the bread.

To Heal Burns.
Pound or press the juice out of male fern, and put it on the burnt spots, and they will heal very fast. Better yet, however, if you smear the above juice upon a rag, and put that on like a plaster.

For Dysentery and Diarrhea.
Take the moss off of trees, and boil it in red wine, and let those that are affected with these diseases, drink it.

For the Scurvy and Sore Throat.
Speak the following, and it will certainly help you: Job went through the land, holding his staff close in the hand, when God the Lord did meet him, and said to him: Job, what art thou grieved at? Job said: Oh God, why should I not be sad? My throat and my mouth are rotting away. Then said the Lord to Job: In yonder valley there is a well, which will cure thee, ("name] and thy mouth, and thy throat, in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.
This must be spoken three times in the morning, and three times in the evening; and where it reads "which will cure," you must blow three times in the child's mouth.

ED. Towards the end of the book, Hohman adds this talismanic message:

Whoever carries this book with him is safe from all his enemies, visible or invisible; and whoever has this book with him cannot die without the holy corpse of Jesus Christ, nor drown in any water, nor burn up in any fire, nor can any unjust sentence be passed upon him. So help me. 

ED. After reading this I immediately added this book to my iPhone and I adjure you to do the same.
-Heinz Schmitz

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