, 14 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
Tired: The Middle Ages were repressive.

Wired: Medieval people practiced sex magic.

A quick thread on medieval aphrodisiacs, love spells, and sex magic!

(Paris, Bibliothèque National, MS Fr. 25526)
A lot of penitential manuals--guides for confessors that standardized the amount of penance someone should do for a particular sin--describe the sin of using love/sex spells. This is the 6th-cent Irish Penitential of Finnian, explaining why it's Very Wrong to use love potions.
Your husband's semen is a good aphrodisiac (for him!)
The modern translator refused to translate this 7th-century Penitential of Theodore properly. It really says "She who mixes the semen of her husband into food so that she might receive more love shall do a similar penance."
This is from the Penitential of Columbanus and shows that such potions (called ‘maleficus’) were also sometimes associated with/confused with abortion.
Medical books also have good suggestions. This is from the Medicina de quadrupedibus, telling a man to grind up and drink a stag's penis (scytel) to arouse them.

(screenshot from Christiansen, "Scytel: A New Old English Word for 'Penis'")
You can also do this with ground-up stag's testicles!

(below is from Rev. Oswald Cockayne's 1864 translation of the Quadrupedibus. He was so upset that he translated this from Old English into LATIN, rather than Modern English)
11th-cent Bishop Burchard of Worms wrote a penitential (called his "Corrector") that describes several spells for love that women apparently often did, including putting a LIVE FISH into their vagina, leaving it there until it DIED, and then feeding it to their husband. 🐟
The other sin Burchard describes is Sex Bread, in which a woman has someone else knead bread on their bare butt, then they cook it and fed it to their husband to make him aroused.

Mmmm, sex bread....
11th-c physician Constantine the African--a Tunisian immigrant to Italy--wrote a book recommending foods causing arousal (he thought chickpeas were particularly effective), including these pills made from the brains of 30 male sparrows + grease from billy-goat kidneys + honey.
Constantine also recommends a number of salves to rub on your junk to become aroused, including one made from ants (!!!).
12th-cent Jewish physician Moses ben Maimon--born in Spain, living in Egypt--also wrote a treatise on arousal at the request of his patron, Sultan Al-Malik al Mutsaffar ben Ajjub. He suggests this cake made of rooster testicles, bird (or lamb) brains, and eggs!
He also quotes famed Arab physician Ibn Sina (Avicenna), who recommends a magnificent cake made of lamb, eggs, bird brains, and carrot juice. Moses ben Maimon notes he made a similar cake for a patron, who assured him it worked Very Well Indeed.
That's all for now. Ending with this excerpt from 12th-century Abbess Hildegard of Bingen's Physica, describing how to cure people who have been driven mad by love potions (apparently a problem).

Go forth, scarred by this knowledge. Don't use sex magic without consent!
Oh, a fun footnote: McNeill and Gamer, our modern translators of the penitentials, hated translating sex magic, so they used all sorts of euphemisms. This is my favorite (from Penitential of Columbanus): someone who is "a magician for the sake of love," which sounds AWESOME.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Erik Wade
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!