Garlic wards off more than Vampires

Garlic wards off more than Vampires

According to Bram Stoker, garlic works a charm when warding off vampires. I am not sure what my grandfather thought about vampires, but he certainly believed in the power of garlic.

My grandfather, pictured, learnt homeopathy and iridology in his middle age. He and his family had sought refuge in Germany during the Latvian War of Independence in 1919, and it was there his interest in alternative medicines began. According to my aunt’s journal, he studied iridology under a Dr Schnabel in Munich. When my grandparents made the decision to move back to Latvia in the 1920s, my grandfather supported them financially with his practice. Until his death, my grandfather used homeopathy and iridology to cure himself and his family, refusing to let them see doctors. This worked well until my father came down with appendicitis, but that’s another story.

My aunt, the eldest of four children, writes that she and her siblings were often ill, and their father would diagnose them and then treat them with his special pillules or droplets. Every few hours during their illness, he would present them with his remedies, and make compresses for their chests, or necks. He also practiced on his extended family, injecting the older females with formic acid or bee venom to cure rheumatism, a method which anecdotally was successful.

Apparently, my grandfather was also determined to prevent illnesses in the family. This was understandable, as my grandmother had chronic asthma and was sick for much of her life. Being an invalid must have weakened her immune system and made her prone to catching anything which went around. My grandfather, unable to cure her asthma with his remedies, tried to protect her from other diseases. My aunt tells a story about his preventative methods which always brings a smile to my face.

It appears that, whenever there was a contagious disease at school, my grandfather would prepare small cloth bags for the children to wear around their necks and under their clothing, next to their skin. In each bag he placed a fresh raw clove of garlic. According to my aunt, “The success was resounding. No one wanted to sit next to us at school because we stank so badly! And we did not get sick.”

Later on, still at school, my aunt contracted a form of tuberculosis. She was feverish and lay ill in bed for nine months, cared for by my grandfather and his remedies. It must have been a worrying time for the whole family. Luckily, with tuberculosis being so contagious, it seems as if she was the only one to suffer.

My aunt grew up and learned nursing, a profession she stayed with her entire life. I often wonder if she and my grandfather had arguments about how to treat illnesses. My grandfather’s obsession with alternative medicine must have had an impact on my father, as he was always suspicious of doctors and prescribed medicines. I too rarely see doctors, preferring to consult my naturopath if I’m sick. However, garlic doesn’t agree with me!

Alex

Alex de Fircks is a writer of memoir and short fiction. She blogs about family, moments in time, memories and travel. Alex is passionate about history, genealogy and family stories.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Elise McCune

    What an interesting family you come from. I really enjoy the glimpses you give of the past.

    1. Alex

      Thank you! As a story teller I’m lucky to have the family I do!

  2. Tamara

    Hello Alex
    I am fascinated YouR life story is too much interesting
    I am the fan to all that comes from Russia especially from old previous Russia
    Do you have some another information about your roots? About well known poet, writer and actress lived In StPeterburg In 19 cent. ? She was a child from the first marriage of Alexej A.Woronoff, I would like to discuss with you About everything its so amazing! Sincerely Tamara

    1. Alex

      Hi Tamara
      Thank you for reading my blog! I am happy you are enjoying my stories.
      Are you talking about Lydia Voronov? I have definitely heard of her. Unfortunately all of her writing is in Russian.
      Alex

  3. Tamara

    Hello Alex
    I am fascinated
    YouR life story is too much interesting
    I am the fan to all that comes from Russia especially from old previous Russia
    Do you have some another information about your roots? About well known poet, writer and actress lived In StPeterburg In 19 cent. ? She was a child from the first marriage of Alexej A.Woronoff, I would like to discuss with you About everything its so amazing! Sincerely Tamara

  4. Tamara

    Hello Alex thank you for your answer, yes I meant Lydia Voronoff/Charskaya
    I had grown up with her stories (I ´ve got them all from my mother, born In 1940)in spite of the fact that only first was based on true story
    My dream si to translate it to English because many facts are relevant, its like her “family history” but in Russian only
    Tzar ´s family was too close to your grandfather and still exists the question about Anastasia ´s destiny-its the copy od the destiny of “aunt Natasha”
    Very interesting🤭

    1. Alex

      What a lovely dream you have! I wish you all the best with your translations. I have heard that Lydia’s stories were very popular. I’m not sure what you mean by Anastasia’s destiny or Aunt Natasha.

  5. Tamara

    Hello Alex
    Od course,the Lidiya ´s stories were very popular
    It s a pity they ´ re prohibited during the epoche od socialism, but many girls have the books like heritage from their mothers and grandmothers
    The stories were very mystic but it s true quite schematic
    Princess Anastasia was considered to be alive and that she ´d spent after revolution In 1917 much more tíme In Sanghai and few years later she ´ d move to the USA
    Like Aunt Natasha With her daughter Olga, they you ´ d met in America In 1970…
    Thank you for your wishes I am still active, work as ophthalmologist but i should fulfill my dream of translation the stories on rent
    Sincerely T

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