heliopausa (heliopausa) wrote,

Bread and honey, but mostly honey

The exodus is pretty nearly complete, and wonderful quietness is over the neighbourhood.  People have gone back to their family homes/ancestral villages for the New Year, and building works (thank goodness!) and businesses have shut down for the duration (three days, or so, pretty much).  The baker's shut down two days ago; we went to lay in a modest stock of bread supplies, including half-a-dozen mouse-bread rolls - the baker grinned, and threw in an extra - making it an excellent baker's half-dozen, i guess.  So that's the bread part.  :)

And the honey...

I was browsing through some regional newspapers - I think it was the South China Morning Post - when I came across a story of a man hospitalised after eating "mad honey" from Nepal.  (Yes, it was the SCMP!)  Just one spoonful was enough to leave him in a bad way (temporarily - he recovered!)

But... whoever heard of "mad honey"?  Not me, so i went to look for more info, and was vastly intrigued.  I read this, which revealed that the honey in question isn't only in Nepal, but also right across that mountainous region, into Turkey - and has also crossed into British Columbia and all sorts of places - because of its hallucinogenic properties? - and also incidentally revealed a little of how the honey had been used in warfare in ancient times.  (Lining the path of the invading Roman army with enticing lumps of honey-in-the comb, so that the soldiers one by one became dizzy, groggy, out of it  - and the invasion failed.  Good heavens!  But what a great story!)
So I went to look further, and ended up with this article, which takes a medicinal POV, referring to both modern and ancient sources, about its dangers, and its therapeutic uses (taken topically, good for bruises and sunburn; internally good against fish poisoning (Note: I am not an ancient Greek doctor, nor any other sort)  - and intriguingly, revealed that in the nineteenth century the monks of Soumela (whose monastery looks rather like a beehive, high on their cliff) used to produce and consume the honey themselves.

And then I thought: honey and holiness... hallucinogenic honey as an aid to (maybe) shamanistic visions, or ecstasies, and then wondered about that wild honey that went with the locusts that... John?  What have you been eating?
Which led me to one more fascinating article (okay - I was fascinated, anyway) which gave the best sourcing so far for the ancient texts, and also was pleasingly discursive about what the "wild honey" might have been that John the Baptist used for his Honey King Locusts (I've smelt locusts grilling on a car radiator - I can pretty well guess what they exactly taste like). 
And maybe it was bee honey, and maybe it wasn't, but possibly it was mad honey - the author's not keen on the idea of John's honey as hallucinogenic, though.  He prefers to point out that "wild honey" could be dangerous (well, yes) and that to eat that would maybe mark John out as a wild man, a risky man, living hard and taking risks.  So my idea was squashed.  (Not the first time!  :D )

And that's the end of my ramblings about honey (and a little bit bread).  :)

This entry was originally posted at http://heliopausa.dreamwidth.org/63776.html. Please comment here or there.
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