Hello and welcome! Thanks so much for joining me here in this muddy field for the launch of MDVL. I'm sure some of you rolled your eyes when you got our press release — another wellness site! And I'm the first to admit the industry is crowded to the point of collapse, with gurus and influencers repackaging everything from Ayurveda to Zen Buddhism into teas, supplements and home décor. Distracted by the spice and color of exotic cultures, we've lost touch with the wool-wrapped wisdom of our European ancestors.
Have you ever wondered why Gwyneth Paltrow is so keen on everyone tossing jade eggs into their vaginas? What's wrong with German granite or Italian marble? Bias, plain and simple, has blinded us to the invaluable holistic teachings of the Middle Ages, millennia-old practices that kept the mind, body and loosely identified humours in balance from 476 A.D. to the late 1400s. MDVL taps into what may well be the last unmonetized health culture and translates it for our modern world.
Listen, a year ago, I did not think I'd be standing here today. I'd caught what my doctor dismissed as "a bad cold." My partner joked that it was "like the plague." It was like a light went on — not a regular light, though, a very creepy and dramatic flickering torch that smelled like burning gym clothes.
So I began my research, a journey of several clicks, into how my symptoms would have been treated in the so-called Dark Ages. Inspired, I stopped bathing, drank unpasteurized milk, bled myself until I hallucinated and binge-watched Game of Thrones. (I now know that last one wasn't historically accurate but it was mostly to set the mood, and please keep in mind that I'd lost a lot of blood.)
But friends, after hovering near death for weeks, I survived. I am living proof that the long-forgotten curatives of our European ancestors won't always kill you. And now it's my mission — nay, crusade! — to share that knowledge with the world via high-end products, licensing agreements and multi-level marketing partnerships.
Forget chakras. Forget yin and yang. Honestly, forget handwashing. MDVL will help you understand wellness through balance of the four elements — earth, air, fire and water — as well as the four bodily humours — blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. Just like with neti pots and candling, the grossness is how you know it works. These vital elements and humours can be managed with bloodletting during the proper phase of the moon or, in more persistent cases, a little skull drilling to release troublesome demons. (You'll be happy to know official MDVL artisanal skull drills come in both blacksmith iron and rose gold.)
It's a steep learning curve but we've broken it down into a series of illuminated manuscripts with calligraphy that doesn't even look like English and illustrations of people having weird interactions with animals in our Olde-School Guide to Hygiene and Disease Prevention. In it you'll find the regime of self-care under which the Black Death only killed a slim third of Europe. Let's see your smug anti-vax cousin try to one-up you on Instagram now.
Maybe you're already into astrology and well versed in the influence different signs have over parts of the body, like Scorpio and the genitals or Virgo and the stomach. But does the person doing your chart believe the Earth travels around the sun? MDVL's approach to interpreting the stars for health and happiness is pre-Copernican, flat-earth and down to excommunicate or publicly burn heretical astronomers.
MDVL, of course, draws on ancient European herbology practiced by creepy old crones in the woods, but it goes even further. Along with the teas and tinctures available from our online apothecary, you'll be able to find sought after barber surgeons, send in urine samples for MDVL's experts to analyze by holding it up to the light and even order home leeching kits. Speaking of which, those are live leeches in your goat bladder goodie bags, so carry them carefully!
If you're anything like I was, your whole diet needs an overhaul. Good news! Not only does a Middle Ages eating plan include carbs (bread! freaky pies with whole feathered birds bursting out of them!) but its balance of dried fruits, salted meats and a smattering of pickled vegetables can help you reach the period's 31.3-year life expectancy (which is honestly a little skewed by infant mortality and feels much longer with the diet's attending gastrointestinal issues). MDVL has the latest/earliest on ditching refrigeration and masking the resulting spoiled food with sauces and spices in our Pottage & Whey newsletter.
Blurring the line between medicine and cosmetics is very Middle Ages and an important part of the MDVL lifestyle brand. That's why we've made sure you can find lead-based makeup to match any skin tone as long as it's white, as well as high quality mercury for lightening dark spots. You'll also get expert advice on completely removing your eyebrows and the first couple of inches of your hairline.
Finally, there will also be exclusive experiences, like a week-long "cloistering" in an unheated stone house with a thatched roof that feels like it's about to blow off every time the wind whips up the craggy cliff atop which it sits. You can join a pop-up pilgrimage, walking for weeks and months until your toes are driven up into the curling points of your handcrafted shoes and your burlap breeches have chafed your thighs raw. If you make it to the destination, be sure to shout a hearty "Hail!" I'll personally be waiting atop a VIP dais with our Landed Nobility investors, waving one of our bespoke embroidered handkerchiefs to the peasants below.
Jennifer Fumiko Cahill is the arts and features editor at the Journal and prefers she/her. Reach her at 442-1400, extension 320, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @JFumikoCahill.
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