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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.
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