What am I? What are some of my properties when I am an essential oil?
For over 2500 years I have been used for gynecological conditions since the days of Hippocrates. With a rich traditional of use, modern research supports historical wisdom, and has made my fruit preparations a phytomedicine of choice by European gynecologists for treatment of various menstrual disorders, PMS, and other conditions.
I am associated with ancient Greek festivals. In the Thesmophoria, a festival held in honor of Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture, fertility and marriage, women used my blossoms for adornment, while bows of twigs and leaves, were strewn around Demeter’s temple during the festival. In Rome, vestal virgins carried twigs of me as a symbol of chastity. According to Greek mythology, Hera, sister and wife of Zeus, regarded as protectress of marriage, was born under a me. Ancient traditions associating the shrub with chastity were adopted in Christian ritual. Novitiates entering a monastery walked on a path strewn with the blossoms of the tree, a ritual that continues to the present day in some regions of Italy.
The shrub’s ancient association with chastity led to later use of the fruits as an “anaphrodisiac,” quieting the desires of the flesh, especially of celibate clergy. “These seeds have been celebrated as antiaphrodisiacs, and were formerly much used by monks for allaying the venereal appetite; but experience does not warrant their having any such virtues,” wrote Andrew Duncan in the 1789 edition of the Edinburgh Dispensatory. Robert John Thorton in his 1814 Family Herbal put it more eloquently, “As there are provocatives to procreations, as shell-fish, eggs, and roots of orchises made into salep for the male, and spare dict and use of steel for the female, so it is possible the I may have a contrary effect; and hence the seeds have been called Piper monachorum (Monk’s pepper), who flew to them when they found the spirit to be willing, but the flesh weak.” *** The above is an extract from Stephen Foster writings.
Will post a link to Stephen Foster after the contest ends on monday.