by Michael Magnes
• In Impotence: A Cultural History, Angus McLaren, and leave it to a scholar named Angus, found a 17th century French midwife with a suggestion: “An enchanted husband should drink water from the mouth of a ‘young stone horse.’” (To be performed, apparently, while the horse himself is drinking.) My new favorite euphemism for horny and limp is now “enchanted,” but better yet: try “due benevolence” for sex. In the same study, “Nicholas Culpeper and midwife Jane Sharp recommended that a man, who due to magic could not give his wife ‘due benevolence,’ should piss through her wedding ring.” That can’t be good for the ring. Culpeper’s Complete Herbal was a huge influence on J.K Rowling and was the inspiration for many spells and Professor Flitwick. No word if he looked like Warwick Davis. Or if anyone had to piss through a ring to stop Voldemort. Maybe Voldemort’s whole narrative was impotence? Scholars, start your engines.
What else vexes you?
• Hemlock, for Men! So, in 19th century England some doctors recommended eating Hemlock. I guess that the idea was if you were impotent you were too embarrassed to live. Take it from The British Journal of Homeopathy.
• But impotence isn’t just for men. In The Origins of Life and the Process of Reproduction in Plants and Animals, Frederick Hollick tells us that small vaginas are the cause of female impotence and “the vagina can be enlarged or open in the female, and the only cause of impotence in her can be removed.” So there you have it. Small vaginas are the only problem ladies have. No need for a billion dollar medical industry, or for health insurance. No word on what they used to enlarge the vagina.
• Here’s a good one that sounds deceptively simple: the electric belt. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, everyone knew that electricity could cure everything. “Electric belts became the most popular impotence cure between 1890 and 1920 by offering a unique combination of discretion, diagnoses, and deliverance. In addition to promising to treat impotence so quietly that even one’s wife would not know, belt manufacturer defined the illness as a temporary, curable disease. Masturbation need no longer be the cause of permanent debility and lingering guilt; with an occasional electric charge, masturbation could be reimagined as a benign activity that left a man with plenty of energy in reserve.” — The Body Electric: How Strange Machines Built the Modern America, Carolyn de la Pena. Masturbation was the cause of impotence and lingering guilt? We’re all doing it wrong.
• In the 1930s, a British guy named Edward Bach decided that flowers could solve everything. “Bach Flower Remedies: Select the appropriate remedy, and place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed. If you lack sexual confidence and feel inadequate, Larch will help you feel more secure. Crab Apple is for people who feel inhibited because they’ve been taught that sex is dirty. This remedy will encourage a healthy attitude toward sexuality. Pine will help people who feel that sex is shameful, sinful, or morally wrong. People who worry that it is physically dirty should combine Pine with Crab Apple. If you are utterly exhausted and drained, Olive will have a strengthening effect.” — Prescription for Natural Cures: A self-care guide for treating health, James Balch, Mark Stengler.
• Drink urine and bran mixed with pig’s liver! “She tested for both male and female impotence by mixing urine samples with bran and observing the relative reactions, and she cured impotence with a powder of pig’s liver and testicles.” — Encyclopedia of World Scientists, Elizabeth H. Oakes.
• Lots and lots of massages, to “improve circulation”: “Massage the prostate area. Massaging above the prostate gland (midway between the scrotum and the anus) with any of the three oils mentioned above (manhanarayan, bala, or ashwagandha oil) will also be beneficial. First rub in a circular motion, then finish with strokes from the anus toward the base of the penis. Use a light pressure. Like the massage of the pubic area, this will improve circulation.” — The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, Vasant Lad, M.A. Sc.
• “Constriction and Vacuum Devices.” Insert Austin Powers joke here. This “E.D. Remedy Report” from (get ready for this URL) www.NaturallyStiff.com.
• Drink some garlic milk. “Five or six cloves of garlic, added to a glass of milk, boiled and reduced to 1/2 glass. Then it should be filtered, required sugar should be taken twice a day in two equal doses.” — A Treatise on Home Remedies, S. Suresh Babu. That book also recommends kapikachhu, which we call cowhage, which can be smoked for kicks, or perhaps for a terrible allergic reaction.
• I used to live in Portland, Oregon, and this one would definitely not work: Don’t ride a bike. In both men and women, according to Reader’s Digest’s 1801 Home Remedies: Trustworthy Treatments for Everyday Health Problems, and then a whole host of sensationalist news articles and TV programs, bike riding damages nerve endings or impedes blood flow, so while you may be saving the environment, you’re cutting off blood to your precious, precious genitals, eventually leaving them withered and useless. (The debate on this goes on and on, don’t get these people started.)
• “Apply ginger and fennel fruit on the belly button: Ingredients: 1/4 oz. fennel fruits, 1/4 oz. ginger, honey. Procedure: Stir-fry ginger on low heat until dark. Grind fennel fruits and ginger into fine powders. Mix ginger and fruits with a little bit of honey to make a paste. Apply to your belly button and seal with a bandage. Keep for three hours a day a week. If you have an allergic reaction, discontinue use immediately.” — Chinese Home Remedies: Harnessing Ancient Wisdom for Self-Healing. If this method doesn’t work, you can always eat the results.
Michael Magnes is investing in garlic milk, electric belts and hemlock. Photo by Mike.