Recipe for Love

I watched Isolde’s mother, Queen of Ireland, prepare the philter, as I stood next to Isolde who vented about Tristan, her blonde waves enunciating her words. The queen placed several herbs, flowers, and roots she had collected, some already dried, on the table. I noted rose petals, mandrake,which mimicked the shape of the human form, and the presence of henbane in particular, the latter known to bind a couple together in love and ensure that it lasts. The queen worked efficiently, her deft fingers grinding less than a scruple of dried henbane, and a grain (length) of each of two mandrakes, fastening them together with thread. She placed all of the ingredients in boiling water until they be like gruel and lay it in wine in an earthen pot. She raised her hands, beseeching God to bless this drink to bring Isolde and her husband-to-be much happiness, then covered the vessel to stand for three days and three nights. It stunk like the mud pies Isolde used to make as a child.

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