Gaelic Charm Wheel Makes a Public Appearance
I was delighted to see this intriguing page from the Gaelic Medical Manuscripts featured in the wonderful National Library for Scotland exhibition on the Plague. The exhibition ran from December 2015 until 29th May, but you can catch a glimpse of some of the contents online here: Plague Exhibition
I'm looking forward to taking a closer look at this particular charm, but at a first glance, what is striking about it, is it's similarity to medieval alchemical sigils. In a similar manner to alchemical sigils, the charm is suggested to have been used as a talisman of protection, from evil, harm, illness or death.
Still awaiting a full translation of the Gaelic, we are unsure what this particular charm is 'warding off', however, it seems likely that this is an instruction page, describing how to create and use the charm wheel- as there is at least 2 different hands on the manuscript page- annotating the wheel, and also a latin hand at the bottom (perhaps translating or interpreting the charm). A faint Irish Gaelic hand at the bottom right says something about a favourite (perhaps favourite charm?) with initials- hard to make out.
This page is a reminder of what is most fascinating to me about how our ancestors perceived the world around them, and the intrinsic link between Life, Health and the Mystery of the Unknown and it's influence on a person. The link between the spiritual world and the physical can be found in medical systems all over the world, in Ayurvedic medicine of India, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tibetan medicine, aboriginal medicine, Amazonian medicine and it is most definite that the Gaels also had their own medical system that accounted for the unseen forces at work.
This charm is just one of the many pages in the Beatons' medical manuscripts, awaiting translation and interpretation that will act as a gateway to understanding the minds of our gifted ancestors more closely.
I look forward to seeing more of these precious pieces of our history reveal themselves in future exhibitions.