The Icon of St. Affable the Herbalist

St. Affable the Herbalist

St. Affable was a French Benedictine monk who practised herbalism in the early 15th century in the abbey situated upon the famed Mont St. Michel on the Normandy coast.

He was an inadvertant innovator and pioneer in the herbal and metaphysical arts, not because he was a thoughtful intellect, but because he was a drug-addled congenital idiot with no understanding of consequences.

The discovery of clusters of panaeolus cyanescens glimmering palely in the dank recesses of the abbey cloisters led to an unfortunate mealtime incident which caused the other monks and Abbot to mistakenly believe the order was demon-possessed for a brief time, but judicious use by Affable of cannabis sativa as a gruel garnish in subsequent meals soon erased memory of the aforementioned incident.

He was the original practitioner of naked yoga, which quite rightly earned him the derision of his fellow monks. Stripping himself of his filthy habit he would sit cross-legged au naturel for hours on end in the lotus pose, believing he had attained some level of Nirvana when he was bathed in a golden liquid from the heavens, an amber benediction if you will. Cruelly, it seems his fellow monks may have chosen to ‘rain’ on his parade from the ramparts above.

He was the original proponent of the juiced orange enema as a complete cure for cancer, but was never able to definitively prove his hypothesis owing to the irritating and intermittent conflicts on the Iberian Peninsula where the oranges were grown.

More intriguing were his claims made for his beloved cannabis sativa. According to Affable it’s humble leaf cured scrofula, ergotism, syphilis, St. Vitus Dance, leprosy, typhoid, the plague; bubonic and others, diptheria, consumption, sweating sickness, various poxes, measles, scurvy, and ennui.

In fact, the only disease cannabis cured was ennui, which was seldom fatal in Medieval Europe and ironically the side effects of the ingestion of cannabis for ennui induced ennui in those tending to the needs of the ingestor. It rapidly became an oubliette of boredom and stupidity.

How did this dim-witted monk achieve sainthood?

I believe he supplied the Antipope Benedict XIII of Avignon with industrial quantities of cannabis sativa.

Affable was not saintly and his ‘miracles’ were no more than psilocybin induced delusions.

Extensive scholarly research indicates Affable was little more than a medieval purveyor of mean-ass skunk-weed, yet his ultimate reward was an undeserved sainthood.

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The Alhambra Chihuahua

 

El Perrito or the ‘Alhambra Chihuahua’ as he is posthumously known was born in 1519 in the Aztec court of Montezuma just prior to the hostage-taking of Montezuma by Hernan Cortes and his fellow conquistador conspirators.

El Perrito may have been the runt of his sizable litter but he was smart and opportunistic. Quickly ascertaining that Cortes and his men were a likely if unwelcome fixture of the Aztec court for the forseeable future, he set about inviegling his way into the hearts of the Spanish invaders. His ancestors were Techichi, small dogs much revered by the Toltec, for food, sacrifice and… companionship. It seems fairly evident why El Perrito might want to take his chances with the Spaniards, no matter how hirsute and uncouth they might be.

His troupe of pocket-sized dogs entertained Cortes’ ruffians with amusing flamenco dance routines and tricks in exchange for delicious treats and gentle belly scratching. They were quite a sight to behold, festooned in ropes of tiny pearls and capes of iridescent hummingbird feathers that shimmered as they shimmied. Indeed, El Perrito soon became a fixture in the pocket of Hernan Cortes as he was quickly singled out as an especial favourite.

This bucolic life was to end abruptly for El Perrito in June of 1520. ‘La Noche Triste’ came to represent a crossroads in his life. When he looked back upon the turmoil of the Night of Sorrows and the subsequent events that shaped his destiny he felt no regrets, despite the lifelong scars he carried…

A series of debacles and military misjudgements by the Spanish had enraged the Aztecs. The murder of Montezuma was followed by chaos and terror. The Spanish and their native supporters fled the city laden with treasure and tiny dogs. Overburdened with their booty, many of the Spanish toppled into the lake from a makeshift bridge and drowned. The exact numbers to meet a watery end are unknown, but as many as fifty techichi are thought to have perished, swimming not being a particular skill of the chihuahua. El Perrito survived only because he was ensconsed in Hernan Cortes’ pocket.

There was much tribulation in the following days; still more lives were lost to smallpox, though this naturally did not affect the surviving techichi. El Perrito was carried across land and sea to Cuba where he stayed briefly in Governer Velazquez’ residences before being dispatched to Spain along with a mountain of Aztec bullion in the hold of a Spanish galleon.

Alas, El Perrito’s trials did not end there. His ship was attacked by English privateers who had heard tales of the fabulous wealth of the Americas and wanted a piece in the looting. After much fierce fighting the conquistadors prevailed but El Perrito had taken a savage gash to his left eye from a villainous ship’s cat. He was left weak and incapacitated. When the Santa Irascibilidad finally limped into the port of Cadiz El Perrito was senseless with fever, lying atop a mound of gold shivering pitifully under his feathered cape.

He was promptly transported to the Alhambra palaces at Granada as a novelty for the queen’s amusement where he was immediately taken under the wing of a Dona Elvira Barbola, one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting. Elvira Barbola had the face of a crumbling gargoyle but a kindly heart, so she fashioned El Perrito an minature eyepatch with the Granada symbol of a pomegranate cunningly embroidered on it to cover his ravaged eye, and a plump velvet cushion needleworked with all manner of New World bestiary so he wouldn’t feel homesick.

El Perrito was honoured for his part in the sea battle with the English pirates with a small jerkin of finely-wrought golden chainmail and lived a further sixteen happy years till 1537. He fathered many litters of chihuahua pups with the other little dogs that the conquistadors brought back to Spain, and was admired by all at the Court of the Alhambra for his loyalty, bravery, and dancing skills.2016-02-29 16.09.34

Order of the Dragon Talisman

Pedro the Perforator 1431- 1492 as he was posthumously named was an obscure minor Spanish royal who was exiled as a remittance man to keep a tenuous grasp on a tiny stronghold situated within the Kingdom of Granada. This was awkward as Granada was in Moorish control at the time.

Pedro had come from a difficult and unusual up-bringing. He was born in 1431, coincidentally the same year as his distant cousin many times removed, Vlad 111, Prince of Wallachia, nowadays known as Vlad Dracula or Vlad the Impaler. Pedro was breast-fed till age 10, and it was on this that his remarkable lack of height was blamed. (He stood 5’2” in stocking feet). He was a frail boy, sensitive and allergic to many things including the salt of his own tears. When he was finally weaned at 11 his father sent him to the court of Vlad 11 in the vain hope of making a man of him.

Vlad 11 was engaged in various tribulations within his own court and with the Ottomans at this time. An unfortunate encounter with the Ottoman Sultan saw Vlad 11, Vlad 111 and young Prince Pedro taken captive and held on Gallipoli for 6 years. Unlike the Vlads, Pedro took to it like a swine in excrement. He loved the bright fabrics and soft furnishings of the seraglio, a place he would creep secretively to in search of the forbidden yet comforting breast milk.

He became a flamboyant dresser, favouring silk harem pants, flowing capes and five inch turbans festooned with lurid jewels. He also wore platform shoes with turned up toes to give him an appearance of height. By the time the three captives were released in 1448 the Vlads had developed a psychopathic hatred of all things Turkish and Pedro was still no more of a man.

Pedro’s father was alarmed to hear of his son’s prediliction for all things Islamic and insisted he remain in the court of the Vlads till he came to his Christian senses. He remained exiled for the next 15 years, during which time his notorious cousin ascended the throne… Pedro, always the suggestible lad, was intrigued by Vlad 111’s unorthodox methods of maintaining order. An ardent enthusiast of the Turkish ‘shish kebab’ he found cousin Vlad’s skewering of his foes inspirational and finally convinced his father he was man enough to rule his own domain.

Who can imagine what Pedro’s father was thinking when he gifted him a modest castle, a small parcel of unproductive land and a handful of resentful peasants in the only kingdom in Spain still ruled predominantly by the Moors?

Pedro soon found himself unhappily ensconced in his stifling castle in Granada sporting his newly minted ‘Order of the Dragon’ talisman, a parting gift from his cousin Vlad 111. Pedro swore fealty to the Order of the Dragon with the promise to uphold Christianity in Christian Europe. Always the wolf in gigolo’s clothing his fingers were crossed behind his back.

It was to Pedro’s great fortune that the Granada Sultans took a shine to him. Quickly coming to the realisation that his father had sold him a pup, possibly to rid himself of his embarrassing and worthless child, Pedro formed a mutually beneficial alliance with the Moorish overlords. They liked his bodacious apparel, zeal for all things Turkish and inexplicable knowledge of the inner workings of the seraglio.

Pedro became an enforcer for the Sultan. All Jews and Christians who refused to pay the compulsory tithe to the Sultan were passed over to Pedro for punishment. Pedro was free to unleash his proclivities for fear, cruelty and pain on the citizens of Granada. His favourite method of discipline was to have three men roped together in a line. He would run at them at great speed brandishing a viciously sharp rapier and pierce them all through, a human brochette, if you will.This was no mean feat in platform shoes with upturned toes.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, however slowly… Pedro maintained his reign of terror amongst recalcitrant Jews and Christians in Granada for thirty years. It came to an abrupt end in 1492 when after the seven month siege of Granada the Spanish monarchs Isabel and Fernando retook the kingdom and drove the Moors from Granada. Pedro the Christian puncturing collaborater was treated very harshly. He was dragged through the streets in his garish finery, ridiculed and spat at. Finally Isabel herself seperated Pedro’s head from his body with one decisive stroke of the sword.

It was not known what had become of his corpse until a major refurbishment of a tapas bar in 1975 unearthed a headless skeleton when the floor was lifted. An unusual pendant was nestled in it’s ribcage. Much scholarly research finally proved beyond doubt that this was the final resting place of Prince Pedro the Perforator. It was thought that the talisman originally held a large rough cut ruby in it’s mouth, but I could find no trace of it, at least not in my workshop…

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Order of the Dragon Talisman, bronze/mother of pearl/silver

The Icon of Saint Irascible and the Truly Cross

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I’m currently working on the Icon of St. Irascible and the Truly Cross… As far as I can ascertain, St. Irascible was an ill-tempered 6th century priest from what is now an arid and unlovely region of Spain. He was plagued by bats, demons and bees in the head. Unlike his much calmer counterpart St. Anthony who was also bedevilled and tormented by a bestiary of devils, St. Irascible did not bear his plaguing with equanimity.
When urged by his superiors to “Show them your cross!” during a particularly trying episode of bedevilment he chose to wilfully misconstrue basic punctuation and yell “Fuck off you bats!!”
Somehow he achieved sainthood…
If anyone knows anything else about this obscure saint I’d be grateful to learn of it. Scholarship is pretty thin on the ground about his life and times…