Lost Wisdom and its two other companion books Lost Crafts and Lost Lore are beautifully typeset and laid out. Their contents are a cabinet of curiosities – a wunderkammer of the same sort as the Book of Barely Imagined Beings, which I have mentioned in the past.
Although in this case Lost Wisdom runs the rich gamut of human history – not a small task! And the clever, pre-industrial ways that we have dealt with life, death, birth, marriage and everything else in between.
This is a wonderous and obscure treasure that I found in the library. Written by Compiled by Una McGovern and Paul Jenner in 2009 it is designed to completely wallow in; with beautiful images and areas of interest grouped logically. Lost Wisdom is a part of a trilogy of books that provides us with insight into ways and methods of everyday living, crafts and lore and it glimmers with the shared knowledge of our foremothers and forefathers.
This is a compendium of old wive’s tales and medieval European wisdom that has guided and sustained people for many centuries before modern technology ran the whole show.
Like the connections between the moon and the tides, and navigating by the stars in both hemispheres of the earth. Herbal preparations for brushing your teeth, cleaning your hair and staunching heavy bleeding. Predicting the weather, mourning deaths, predicting the sex of a baby.
There’s a distinct lack of reviews out there of this complete treasure. It seems that The Guardian or review journals missed this one and we are all the poorer for it.
Another book in the series, Lost Crafts has been lovingly reviewed by Cross Stitch and Keepsakes and is perfect for knitting and craft nostalgics.
Una McGovern is both a kindred spirit and a woman after my own heart as she’s also written the Chambers Dictionary of the Unexplained: A Guide to the Mysterious, Paranormal and Supernatural, which sounds pretty cool as well. Although again there’s only one reader of this one on GoodReads, so it’s quite rare by the looks of things although LRB did review this one. Why is Una not better known? It’s a crying shame!