The glorious fall colors hitting me these days always takes me back to a medieval eye prescription that makes me smile. I first read about it in The Old English Herbals by Eleanor Sinclair Rohde.
I feel for the medieval herbalists who didn't know what atoms or molecules were. Hard enough doing research on molecules when you know what molecules are.
This book outlines all sorts of complicated prescriptions to pick herbs. For example, you might only pick certain herbs when Jupiter is in the ascendent, and when the moon is in Virgo, and you ought to say three Pater Nosters and three Aves when you do so.
If the herb didn't work, I gather that you could easily claim the heavens were not in the exact right position when you picked it. (Kind of like our modern version of "but did you drink enough water afterwards?")
But this book has a prescription we all can follow.
Apparently looking at marigolds, according to this medieval prescription, can improve your eyesight. The medieval text exhorts us to allow flowers, specifically yellow ones, to "gladden our eye".
Something about this directive makes me smile. I like the idea of a prescription to look at natures' colors. Can't hurt. Might help. It may at least lift our spirits. Which is actually a big deal, when you think about it.
We may snicker at medieval ignorance, but let's think about this. We are working to change a signal to the brain's visual cortex using color. Artists know about this already, don't they?
Here is a 12th-century poem to encourage us to do so:
Golde [marigold] is bitter in savour
Fayr and Yelw is his flowur
Ye golde flowur is good to sene
It maketh ye syth and bryth and clene
Wyscely to looken upon his flowirs
Dwareth owt of ye heed wikkid [humours].