Profiles and features

Introduction to the Kingdom of Ansteorra Herbalism and Apothecary Guild

Author: Catrin ferch Rhys of Elfsea

Edited by: Jehanne de Montauban of Northkeep

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the Guild’s research and application is based on medieval theory and practice and is not intended for use in diagnosing or treating modern ailments. While many herbs remain viable in modern Holistic therapies, many medieval ingredients have proven potentially lethal ie. lead. 

Charter by Safiyya bint Khalid ibn Hamdun
Image used with permission.

Per the Charter signed into Kingdom Law by His Grace Miguel III and Her Grace Conal III the goal and purpose of the Guild is as follows: 

The goal set by the Herbalism and Apothecary Guild is to encourage the study, teaching, and practice of medieval herbalism as well as study of medieval apothecary and pharmacy practice in the Kingdom of Ansteorra. The guild should serve as a conduit for Herbalists and Apothecaries in the Kingdom of Ansteorra to communicate with and learn from each other, and to freely share their knowledge and love of medieval medicine. Membership is open to any individual living in the Kingdom of Ansteorra having an interest in such pursuits. This is done by our hand this 13th day of April Anno Societatis LIII being 2019 Anno Domini.

This Charter officially acknowledged the Guild’s status after 3 years of dedicated work by individuals within the Kingdom who have spent years studying and developing their skills and knowledge within this area. Lady Rwsa Georgette made the first contact with Master Seamus O’Caellaigh in order gain a curriculum that the Guild could use to offer a Certificate of Apothecary Basics, she also contacted the Kingdom A&S Minister and got a clear checklist of things needed to become an official Kingdom Guild. To start a Guild there needed to be meetings held in all three regions at a large event (kingdom-level preferred), taking a vote on the following three questions: 1) Do we want a kingdom guild?, 2) What do we want as the wording for our Charter?, and 3) Can we agree to meet regionally 1 time per year per region, and 1 time per year for regional heads at a Red Tape?

Lady Rwsa arranged for and led the first regional meeting in the Northern Region at King’s College, June 2016. The three crucial questions were all unanimously carried, and many more ideas were presented and agreed to, such as structure, fees, classes, badge & insignia. During that time individuals were asked to lead a similar meeting in the other regions, which took quite a bit longer than expected. Lord Michael O’Connor agreed to lead the Central Region meeting at Steppes Warlord in May 2018, where the three crucial questions were unanimously carried. Lady Jehanne de Montauban traveled from Northkeep to host a meeting for the Southern Region at War of the Rams, November 2018. The three crucial questions were unanimously carried there as well, and at that point work began to create the Charter.  The Ansteorran Herbalism and Apothecary Guild’s Charter is based on the wording of the Kingdom of An Tir Apothecary Guild Charter, as voted on. 

The Guild has over 60 members Kingdom wide, evenly dispersed across the 3 regions. Membership in the Guild is simply a matter of being on the Roster: https://tinyurl.com/ybufeg9s. There are currently no dues required for membership.

Advancement through the ranks of the Guild is based on the completion of the 12 classes in the Certificate of Apothecary Basics. The classes that comprise the Certificate of Apothecary Basics were researched and developed by Master Seamus O’Caellaigh of An Tir, the author of “Pustules, Pestilence and Pain: Tudor Treatments and Ailments of Henry VIII”.

The classes are: 

~A History of Herbals

~Humors, Uroscopy and the Doctrine of Signatures

~Poisons & Antidotes

~Ointments, Decoctions, Oils and Poultices

~Herblore, Superstitions and Religious Herbs

~Midwifery, Housewifery and Culinary Herbs

~Cosmetics, Perfumes and Incense

~Medieval Gardening & Wildcrafting

~Apothecary Shops: History & Equipment

~Remedies for Infection, Wound Care & Pain

~Remedies for the Plague, Epidemics and other Illnesses

~Dental, Surgery, Dyeing and other Professions affected by Apothecary

Classes are taught by members who have previously taken the class. Those who teach the classes are free to request a fee for printed handouts, which are in many cases detailed and lengthy, but the material is also available free online.

To date the Guild has the materials for 4 of the 12 classes, which are available on the Facebook Group in the Files section, they are also available by request from haguildchancellor@gmail.com and will soon be available on our new website! Guild classes have been presented at Gulf Wars 2019, Northkeep’s wInterkingdom 2019, Kingdom A&S 2019, King’s College 2019, and War of the Rams 2019. They have also been presented at various groups’ local meetings. Details and documentation associated with the remaining 8 classes will be forthcoming. 

During the first meeting (2016) rank was discussed, and it was unanimously decided that the titles of Master/Mistress would NOT be used due to conflict with Peerage Titles. The consensus was that a structured and accessible way to achieve rank in the H&A Guild was needed. To that end, 4 levels were outlined: the first will have completed 3 of the 12 classes, the second will have completed 6 of the 12 classes, the third will have completed 9 of the 12 classes, and the fourth will have completed all 12 of the classes. There has been discussion on several different names and insignia for the ranks, with determinations outstanding. The classes themselves are open to all, whether one is a guild member or not. However, to achieve Guild rank you must be a member of the guild and pass an open-note test covering the class material. Those who pass the test for 3 of the classes will advance in rank. The reason for this structure is that even those members who are unable to attend events will be able to view the class materials and take the test online. This is important in order to have the Guild as accessible as possible! The Guild badge design is also still under discussion.  

Red Tape: 

The Guild is required to hold a meeting in each region annually at a large event (kingdom-level preferred), and a meeting of the Regional Coordinators and the Chancellor once annually at Red Tape. Post-Charter signing, in 2019 we held the following meetings: Central Region at King’s College, hosted by Jehanne de Montauban, Summer Red Tape, hosted by Rwsa Georgette, Northern Region at Ansteorra’s 40th Year celebration, hosted by Jehanne de Montauban, and Southern Region at War of the Rams, hosted by Jehanne de Montauban. 

Each region within the Kingdom has a Coordinator, voted on by the membership, who reports on Regional Guild meetings and disseminates information to regional members. 

Our current Coordinators are:

Northern: Sigrith Hjalmsdottir; haguildnorthern@gmail.com

Central: Michael O’Connor; haguildcentral@gmail.com

Southern: Goldweard of St. Golias; haguildsouthern@gmail.com

The next step will be voting on a Chancellor.

Classes are scheduled and conducted at local A&S gatherings and at local and Kingdom level events. Meetings for discussion, research, and application are encouraged to further individual knowledge and group cohesion. Missives to local groups for inclusion in their Newsletters is also encouraged.

Image used with permission.
Image used with permission.

Guild Projects are another way we can show our love for herbalism and our Kingdom! For the 40th Year Celebration we built a Demonstration Medieval Herbal Garden at the event site. This project was finished in four workdays spaced over three months. The materials for the wattle-contained raised beds were collected entirely from the site, and many of the plants were donated. Plants and materials that had to be purchased, such as garden soil and the materials for the turf benches, were funded by a bake sale at Northkeep’s 2019 Castellen event, supplied and run by Guild members Lady Rachel de Narbonne and Lady Rwsa Georgette.

If you are interested in Herbalism and Apothecary topics and practices watch for postings about local and event meetings. While the full terms, conditions, and terminology associated with the Guild remain under development, classes and collaboration are readily available for those interested! 

Links and Resources

Kingdom of Ansteorra Herbalism and Apothecary Guild Website: https://ansteorra.org/herbalismapothecary

Kingdom of Ansteorra Herbalism and Apothecary Guild Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/972679779453774/

Central Regional Herbal and Apothecary Guild of Ansteorra Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/447252855735070/

Northern Regional Herbalism and Apothecary Guild of Ansteorra Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/836896110086684/

Herbalist — Ansteorra herbalist email list: http://lists.ansteorra.org/listinfo.cgi/herbalist-ansteorra.org

Ansteorra Herbal & Apothecary Guild Roster: https://tinyurl.com/ybufeg9s