The Bunny Bacchus (mr_wombat) wrote,
The Bunny Bacchus
mr_wombat

Inspired by shadesong's thoughts on family recipies. And since I've got no idea how prevalent this is over stateside I'll overexplain a bit.

When I was a kid (in the 80s) in rural Ireland it was common practice to take the sick to certain people known to have a gift rather than to take them to the doctor. This gift was refered to as "the cure of ________", (feel free to substitute most medical conditions for the blank there) and was possessed by a wide variety of people around the countryside.

These cures varied wildly and went much further than more commonly known rural lore like being able to cure nettle stings with the dalken leaves (which also doubled as a very reliable toilet tissue substitute if caught short). I still have very vivid memories of when I came down with whooping cough (potentially fatal back then and... heck still potentially fatal now come to think of it) and rather than take me to a doctor they took me to a woman in Ballyconnell village who had the cure of the whooping cough which involved making a little package containing some of her hair and a few herbs and dried weeds (a secret recipe) and hanging it around the neck of the sufferer. Against all logic and laws of medicine, this cure worked on me, within less than an hour and I had a peaceful night's sleep and was fine the next day and it never happened to me again.

Another time I had a dose of pneumonia and was taken to an old man in a hovel in some very remote part of the countryside who spat on my bare chest, made the sign of the cross over me and said a short prayer and sure enough the pneumonia cleared up a few days later. Years later I started hearing about these people being refered to as "faith healers" around the time the idea of televangelists started filtering over from america to our shores and it always made me wonder since I had little clue what was going on and even less faith in what was being done (even as a child I usually trusted science over faith) and reasoned that this could not be the case since "faith healing" supposedly required that the recipient of the aid believe in what was happening.

I got interested and started asking around from my grandparents about these cures and discovered that in our family we actually had one or two of our own, though by my generation the need for cures of leprosy and scurvy were not so much in demand, especially since they involved a mixture involving a couple of potentially dangerous chemicals like lead bromide. That said, there were others in the neighbourhood who had the ability to cure even the most chronic cases of excema and other skin conditions with only the laying on of hands, I'd scoff except that I saw the progress of one man who lived nearby who had suffered serious burns on his arms and legs in a farm accident who was almost entirely restored by a neighbour who did nothing but touch the affected areas and say a prayer for the victim every night. Another one I knew of could cure blood disorders with his own urine, so the advent of modern medicine in that department was a welcome one I assume.

A couple of years ago I decided I wanted to look into these cures some more and possibly to catalogue them, if only for the sake of posterity but I found that where the cures themselves had not become obsolete with simple medicine they were almost impossible to recreate because of restrictions on the ingredients (as in the case of my family's cure for scurvy) but far more commonly the cure was something that passed down through the family - for example, only the first child would inherit the cure or have it passed to them through mystical inheritance or being given the recipe. In our family the cure is passed down through the women. Unfortunately though in most cases nowadays the heirs to the legacy are not interested in learning it, or misplace the recipe or the holder of the cure never has any children, or they are all dead. It sort of saddens me to think of this, in a way it feels like a little piece of magic is leaving the world forever.
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