Life After…Go figure

A Narrative of Life Outside The Box

Books: Breverton’s Complete Herbal: A Book of Remarkable Plants and their Uses

Book: Breverton’s Complete Herbal
Author/Complier Terry Breverton
Quercus, 2011

This is NOT a compendium of herbal medicine as we know it in the 21st century. The plants, remedies and descriptions should not be made, ingested or used internally/externally/on your Aunt Mable’s buttocks or even That Poodle Who Never Stops Barking Next Door.

Terry Breverton has taken the texts of traditional seventeenth century Herbals–most notably Culpepper’s English Physitian and Compleat Herball of 1653, and set them into a more modern format. No ‘s’ that looks like ‘f’, less engravings of men dressed like they should be at an exclusive club for drag queens in New York City, modern spelling and latin classifications.

As someone interested in Herbal Medicine, I would not touch this book with a ten foot pole. It should always be remembered that in Culpepper’s era, remedies were still chosen because the plant leaf was shaped like one of Christs’ five wounds or because it looked like the tree Judas hanged himself from and these are not valid medical distinctions.

As a lover of folklore, herbal charms and history, I have enjoyed this book immensely–I am still working my way through the legions of entries. We really don’t have any way of dating the folklore in the herbal treatments of the 1600’s. It is safe to assume that much of it is from a far earlier time but not a good idea to hail the herbs used in this book as the wisdom of the middle ages/the secrets of matriarchal midwives/older than toenail clippings of the Venerable Bede. Any reader of Marvell, Johnson or Milton can imagine the scents and plants that surrounded these poets and for the history/culture geek, that makes this book a treasure.


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