Saturday, 27 August 2016

Practical Wisdom

Daily Draw: The Green Witch Tarot, Two of Wandstwowands
Every good deck has a specific special quality. For me in this one it’s the botanical references. Allspice the herb of career and creative energy. Who knew?
When university medical faculties were first set up in in the mid thirteenth century women were excluded but they continued to practice medicine. It wasn’t long before ‘qualified’ medics begin to disparage lay men and women healers. John of Mirfield (d.1407), a doctor at St Bartholomew’s Hospital London, complains of ‘worthless and presumptious women who usurp this profession to themselves and abuse it; who possessing neither natural ability nor professional knowledge, make the greatest possible mistakes’
It seems that this kind of criticism  was less about the practices of lay healers and more about professional jealousy. University trained physicians resented the esteem shown to those who had not been through the system and feared they would take away their business by offering treatment at lower prices.
Arguments in favour of ‘professionalisation’ always refer to standards but now as in the medieval era the rationale is partly to restrict access and thereby protect the incomes of the ‘qualified’.
There are some tremendous teachers who have never been formally employed in a university or school; counsellors who dispense practical wisdom over a cup of tea rather than in the consulting room and healers who know that the larder is one of the best ever medicine cabinets. Unsung heroes who should be applauded.
Source: Leyser, H. (1995) Medieval Women: a social history of women in England 450-1500.

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