Bubonic plague swept through African, Asia, and Europe, notably into French ports of trade during 1413. It halted trade, releasing disease and death in such a suddenness that in the end it has been remembered as the Black Death. In the port town of Marcelles, four thieves blended the only known natural remedy capable of retarding and bringing relief; they were perfumers. In the decline and absence of work, they turned to robbing the homes of the dead who were left to rot in an absolute fear of touching the deceased that had completely captured the population.
Blending the essential oils of cinnamon, rosemary, eucalyptus and lemon they applied it to all the open skin areas of their bodies, while creating beak masks to fill with these herbs and their essential oils soaked in cloth. For months they prevailed and collected loot. I’m betting the sharp, fresh smell of the oils tipped the coppers off. As they stood before the judge, the pressure to explain how they accomplished their thievery so successfully overwhelmed the whole event. These four thieves levied their brilliance in medicinal perfumery to persuade the court to excuse them from the punishment of being burned alive for their hideous crimes against the dead. The judge readily agreed. The boys gave up the formula, taught the local “doctors” how to mimic their process and then the judge true to his word did not burn them alive. He hung them. In the village square. Such is patriarchy.
Before its sweeping devastation was complete, the Black Death decimated millions, raging on and off into the early 1700’s. It evolved the social structure of Europe, creating the paid worker. To this day, whether mixed with vinegar or based in oil, this simple remedy has been a benefit to humanity in cleansing, retarding and bringing relief to epidemic malady. It is not a “cure”. It is preventative, kills bacteria and virus topically and gives you a good idea of why those gothic beak masks kept four thieves alive to pocket the wealth left by the dead. Hail the journeyers!
Three hundred years before these perfumers employed their experience to blending this remedy, Hildegard of Bingen, polymath and mystic, a Benedictine abbess in Germany amassed an herbal – medicinal that worked on the symptoms born in the era of plague. Together with the grimoire of one Brother Aloysius, a Dutch monk who devoted his life to herbal remedies wrote his epic healer’s herbal “Comfort to the Sick” a formula comprehensive as THIEVES OIL can be strengthened and polished with equal parts of these essential oils:
- Clove bud
- Red thyme
- Cinnamon leaf
- Cassia or cinnamon
- Sweet marjoram
- And a tad of lemongrass.
The formula should then be blended equally with a cold pressed base oil, best offered here as sweet almond oil. Always remember to skin test oils for safe applications! A few drops replenished onto clean Kleenex kept in your pocket to use as a filter for breath. Diffuse into your space via aromatherapy lamp or vaporizer. Mix a few drops into a glass bottle (to preserve the vitality of the essential oils) with atomizer to spray your hands and surfaces to cleanse. An effective natural remedy to help combat the dark moment we face together as a community. Xo