Vom Ess-Zett (sz)

From the ongoing series “Bootless Knowledge for Everybody”.

I was reading in the Dæmonomania (mentioned here), innocently enough, when I came upon the following interesting passage :

Seiteinmal kundbar / daß wo ein Zauberer oder ein Hexin nur das Pulfferlein darvon in einen Schaaffstall leget / daß gleich das Viech darvon stirbt / wo es Gott nicht sonderlich bewaret; (gleich wie auch die Wurmkrämer ein Ratte[n] Aaß / die Mäuß darmit zutöden / wissen darauß zubereiten / daher es auch seinen Namen Maußzwibel bekommen.)”

Maußzwibel – that must be what he mentions in the previous paragraph as “Mörzwibel” or Squilla. A short research brings us the following result: In the Capitulare de Villis (Ger., Eng.) we find under number 16 a plant called “squilla(m)”, Urginea maritima (L.) Baker, also called “Meerzwiebel” (Ger., Eng.). The plant is known through the whole ancient world for medical uses. That the plant is deadly to mice and rats is mentioned in the Kräuterbuch of Tabernaemontanus (Ger., Eng.), one of the most important books of its kind of the 16th century, but it seems that the old Egyptians already knew how to use it.

Ratten Aaß – that threw me a bit off : “Aas” is a rotting carcass, but this would make no sense altogether in this sentence. A look in the holy Wörterbuch (Ger., Eng.) helped : aasz is not a cadaver, it’s something to eat, from ezan, essen ; the old word “Atzung” for food comes to my memory ; also an old word in my dialect, “aas[z]en” for stuffing oneself, over eating.

Wurmkrämer – A “Krämer” sells “Kram” – clobber, stuff, he’s a monger, a peddler. Is there a medieval worm-business I have not heard of ? Also Messers GRIMM can help : A Wurmkrämer sells drugs, “Arzney & Theriak”, against worms, parasites inhabiting the human body, a not uncommon illness in medieval Europe.

The sellers of anti-worm drugs know to prepare deadly rat-food from a plant called mice-bulb. The murine onions were not that deadly that  a cat who’d bit or munch on a poisoned mouse would also suffer. This is discussed in chapter III “Vom underscheid / so sich zwischen Guten und Bösen Geistern erhelt” (About the difference between good and bad spirits). Wurmkrämer – herrje …


Damn Books

Rummaging through the shelves may lead to interesting discoveries – ha, you once bought that, really ? I came about a volume in plain brown cloth, could not read the title embossed in gold on the spine – low contrast and dim light, I really should take care for a good bulb ! – and found BODINs (Ger., Eng.) (1529-1596) Dæmonomania in FISCHARTs (Ger., Eng.) (1545-1591) translation, Vom ausgelasnen wütigen Teufelsheer ; of course a reprint (Graz 1973), originally published Straßburg 1591. Superstition, witchcraft, the whole program, was all the rage in 1980s seminars. Wonder whether it is time for a new generation to “discover” the area.
BODIN was a very “modern” man in some respects. He wrote about money and economics, clearly understanding the results of the influx of gold & silver from Southern America ; he – as a protestant – always advocated tolerance between the confessions (remember that the “Bartholomäusnacht” (Ger., Eng.) of 1572 was a pogrom that left some thousand protestants dead in Paris and France) ; and – most important – he was a theorist of the state. His ideas were based on the rule of natural (thus : divine) law that stands over all other laws (id est those that origin from confessions or from other social groups), and hence a “state” is obligated to the law, only following this law gives its reign over individuals reason, justification and foundation : The state is bound by law. He was no advocate of the “absolute” state, but that is what later theorists made out of it and what finally came into existence, notably in France. Some writers go so far to call BODIN a “proto-enlightener” (Frühaufklärer).
And then he publishes a book that could easily be written by a narrow-minded Dominican inquisitor of the worst ilk. Some writers of the 19th and even 20th century wanted to understand this work as a kind of satire or persiflage, but it is not. Its bloody serious, BODIN is bloody serious about it. The whole text is an answer to the ideas of WIERUS (Ger., Eng.) (1515-1588) who came to the conclusion that those witches and magicians are ill, people suffering from a mental disability, and thus may not be condemned to death.
Leaving Mr. BODIN behind I came to think about it. Here we have a “proto-enlightener” of the late 16th century following the darkest superstitions. How did it go on ?
The 17th century saw a war of European dimension fought originally about confessions, superstitions wildly growing, stacks nicely burning, and the development of the modern state. The 18th is called the “age of enlightenment” and on the other side the golden age of alchemy and secret societies of any kind. The 19th sees progress in natural sciences and modernisation, inventions like electricity and photography – and what did they photograph, the modern occultists ? Spirits.
The 20th brought us wars of before unknown dimensions, and finally the engineer’s wet dream, atomic power – and Auschwitz, the culmination of irrationalism. At the beginning of the 21st century we have to watch barbarians beheading people who are unlucky enough not to be of the right faith. And the barbarians use of course most modern technology. As the SS did. Even black uniforms are en vogue again. Pereant !

There is no progress. No development to the “better”, only stupidity, shrewdness and greed. Always and everywhere.

The bottle of greed was found and smashed.