The Distaff Gospels (Les Evangiles des Quenouilles) is an Old French fifteenth-century collection of popular beliefs held by late medieval
women, first published in 1480. It was edited by Fouquart de Cambray,
Duval Antoine and Jean d’Arras and published at Bruges by Colart Mansion. The narrative takes place within the context of a gathering of women who meet with their spindles and distaffs to spin. They discuss folk wisdom
related to their domestic lives, including controlling errant husbands,
predicting the gender of future offspring and curing common ailments.
I found the book in my local library, the French medieval witchcraft and superstitions were really something ! There was spells for every moment in life at that time (sex, birth, marriage, death, fidelity of spouse, cattle, weather, religion, harvest, hexes…) A great historical witchcraft testimony, but I doubt that anyone would try any spell in this book at our modern days 🙂
For English-speaking audiences, the work has been recently translated (with an edition of the original text included), and you can buy it as an ebook or a paperback here. I’m teaching it this semester, and it’s a great look at women’s practices, women’s knowledge, and the household as historical space.*
*Yes of course the queer narrative figure and the male scribe complicate things.
Ghost Stories and Other Horrid Tales- Edited and Illustrated by Charles W Stuart. Folio Society 1997
The rather sweet and optimistic final paragraph from ‘How To Speak To The Dead’ by Sciens. (Sursum corda translates as ‘lift up your hearts’.)