Fuga Daemonum

An old book name for ST JOHN'S WORT, englished into Devil's Flight (chasse diable in French), and given because of the many examples of its power to "cure melancholy" and to drive away all "fantastical spirits". A 13th century writer tells of "the wort of holy John whose virtue is to put demons to flight" (see Summers. 1927). Aubrey. 1696 mentions a case where St John's Wort under the pillow rid a home of the ghost that haunted it. Langham. 1578 was another writer who advised his readers to keep some in the house, for "it suffereth no wicked spirit to come there".

Fumaria officinalis > FUMITORY FUMITORY

(Fumaria officinalis) Best known for its cosmetic uses, particularly as a face wash and skin purifier (Fernie).

If you wish to be pure and holy,

Wash your face with fevertory (Dartnell &


A leaf infusion is used (C P Johnson), or the whole plant boiled in water, milk and whey (Black). " .its remarkable virtues are those of clearing the skin of many disorders ..." (Thornton), especially for babies with scalp trouble (Ireland) ( Moloney). Gerard also remarked that it is "good for all them that have either scabs or any filthe growing on the skinne, and for them also that hath the French disease".

Them that is fair and fair would be

May wash them-selves in butter milk and fumitory

And them that is black and black would be May wash them-selves in sut and tea.

Herbalists still use it for skin diseases (Schauenberg & Paris).

Earth-smoke, or Fume-of-the earth (Britten & Holland) are old book names for this plant. Fumitory itself is from Old French fumeterre, medieval Latin fumus terrae, i.e., smoke of the earth. One reason is the belief that it did not spring up from seeds, but from the vapours of the earth (Friend. 1883). The root when freshly pulled up gives a strong gaseous smell like nitric acid, and this is probably the origin of the belief in its gaseous origin (Britten & Holland). Another suggestion is that the Greeks and Romans used the juice to clear the sight, and noted that while doing so it would make the eyes water, as smoke would. This use also appears in English herbals, Turner, for instance, claimed that "the juice of thys herbe, which in dede is sharpe, maketh clear eyes". All very well, but perhaps the reason lies simply in the appearance of the plant, for from a distance it does look like smoke.

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