I don’t live in the past—I only visit—and so can you!

Archive for June, 2021


Monastic sign language has been used in Europe from at least the tenth century by monks of the Benedictine Order because “silence is a virtue.” // // It was a method using a hand lexicon to name certain commonplace things without speaking aloud. It is not a language, per sé, like ASL, though very useful. This article was inspired by Debby Banham’s The Anglo-Saxon Monastic Sign Language.

If you would like milk, stroke your left finger with your right hand as if you were milking.


My copy of the Bald Læcebok was among the first of the books I decided to bind. I used the 1863 translation by Oswald Cockayne in the second volume of , Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England.
Although other, later translations are available, this was out of copyright and suitable to be reproduced and disseminated in a bound book. It included the Herbarium of Afuleius which was published in the first volume.

The Bald Læcebok did not include anything about the unicorn horn, though its properties were widely known in the early middle ages. That did not bother me.

Then, while searching for something else, I founded sources for legal narwhal horn. A full horn went for eight thousand dollars. However, smaller pieces were much less from the Boone Trading Company. Narwhal horn was mistaken for a unicorn horn in the seventeenth century, but the Norse and Englisc knew of narwhals, and I am certain that there was an earlier conflation. So I bought a small chunk.

However, if I wanted to display it at event with my læce cist, I also wanted something written to show the MoPs. Just a bit of research, I found the fifth century bce Indica, where Ctesias wrote:

In India there are wild asses not as large as horses, or even larger. Their body is white, their head dark red, their eyes bluish, and they have a horn in their forehead about a cubit in length. The lower part of the horn, for about two palms distance from the forehead, is quite white, the middle is black, the upper part, which terminates in a point, is a very flaming red. Those who drink out of cups made from it are proof against convulsions, epilepsy, and even poison, provided that before or after having taken it they drink some wine or water or other liquid out of these cups.

Reasoning that persons of the middle ages were familiar with the claim, as they were of the writings of other ancients, I slid the quote into the læcebok. Oh, it took a bit of work to make it all work out correctly, that then what else do you have to do during a Plague?

A Scabbard!

Found and bought a suitable chape and worked on a scabbard! The leather is horsehide. Christians of our time were forbidden to eat the insides, but I haven’t fond anything about using the outsides!