Herb Lore

Herb Lore

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16 Responses

  1. Mauro says:

    Herb Lore
    The Devil’s dung or merde du diable (Ferula assafoetida) has long been used in magical rituals as a last resort to drive away obnoxious spirits that could not be persuaded to leave by normal means. While it has obviously been in use for centuries the first time it was mentioned in literature is in Benvenuto Cellini’s (1500-1571) autobiography.
    The Mandrake (Mandragora sp.) has been a "magical" plant for millenia. As such it is mentioned in the Bible and I think most of us have least heard that if you pull its roots without taking proper precautions it will issue a deadly scream. And as such it has been represented in the immensely popular Harry Potter series.
    Frankincense or olibanum (the resin from Boswellia sacra) has been associated with religious practices for longer than anyone can remember. This is usually associated with the very ancient belief that deities will feed on smells; as recent religions do not believe that gods need to feed anymore it has become just another mean of worhip. Of particular note is the so called Abramelin Incense, allegedly invented by the Jewish magician of that name in the XIV cetury and popularized by the Golden Dawn and Crowley.
    More as I remember it…

    • Daniel Parkinson says:

      Herb Lore

      The use and properties of plants in folklore/ancient medicine and ritual is a vast subject, and one I considered devoting a whole section to on the main site (MystBrit). Many plants were considered to have special properties, an example is mugwort (artemisia vulgaris) a common roadside weed, once believed to secrete a coal from its roots on midsummer’s eve that would give protection from lightning and plague, for anyone who could find it. It was also used as hops substitute, and as a tea, moth repellent and a fumigant. (although I don’t fancy moth ball tea) other plants such as henbane are believed to have been used in the past in so called flying ointments – to induce hallucinations. I imagine much knowledge has been lost over the centuries.

      Again a huge subject I did a lot of research into some time ago – wild edible plants are also interesting subject if you avoid the ones that resemble poisonous species, Fools Parsley anyone?

      Just as a footnote Richard Cavendish in his ‘Magical Arts’ mentions some of the herbs used in ritual – noting that they are likley to cause stupor, delirium and hallucinations:"hemlock,henbane,black hellebore, hemp and opium" probably no wonder that results were forthcoming in some rites.

      • Ian Topham says:

        Herb Lore
        It would be interesting to see how far the properties of some of these plants used in various rituals could responsible for any reported experiences. It would of course depend upon how the plants were used.

        • Mauro says:

          Herb Lore
          Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
          The History
          Used as a magical herb ever since the time of the Chaldeans, it was common among the Ancient Greeks to throw bundles of dried peppermint in the funeral pyre of warriors fallen in battle, peppermint being Ares’ sacred plant.
          It was immensely popular among Medieval magicians, who attributed to it the wildest powers (for example it was an infallible cure for ailing beehives). Muslim alchemists and mystics took a particular liking to it and to this day it’s the most widely used and beloved essence of the Muslim world.
          The facts
          Mint essence has been shown to be a very mild aphrodisiac and analgesic and a good digestive.

          Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
          The History
          Commonly associated with the infamous absinthe (of which it is just one of the component parts) and the Decadent movement, it has long been a magical herb.
          Avicenna (Ibn Sinna) and physicians of the Salernitan School (ie the most influential medical school in Medieval Europe) studied its effects and concluded it was useful to combat seasickness and recover lost appetite after a long illness.
          In some European countries a plant of Wormwood, cut just above the root and hung upside down from the ceiling on St John’s Day was sure to keep tears and sorrows away from the house. The plant should be renewed each year and the old one burnt to ensure success.
          The Facts
          In small doses Wormwood can be useful to fight depression and stimulate an healthy appetite. It has long be believed to facilitate pregnancy though this fact has never substantiated by clinical studies.

          Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
          The History
          Widely used as a cooking spice or as a simple essence, very few suspect the humble Rosemary to be a "ritual" herb. As such it has been used by the Ancient Egyptians: a stalk of Rosemary was put in the Pharaoh’s sarcophagus as a love token for his righful spouse, Isis.
          It has been used by men asking for a women’s hand in marriage for longer than anyone can remember and has always been used in the Mediterrean area for some simple exorcising rites.
          The Facts
          Apart tasting great (I make up a great steak sauce using Rosemary, Parsley, Mustard, Vinegar and a little Sunflower oil), Rosemary has digestive properties, is a mild nervous stimolant and has long been believed (though not proven) to be good for the skin.

          I knew Mugwort was once used as a "poor man’s tea" or as a substitute for hops…
          Anyway it’s closely allied to the Wormwood (both belong to the genus Artemisia) and both herbs are connected with St John.
          Mugwort (in parts of Holland and Germany) was believed to have been worn as a girdle by John the Baptists and was gathered for medical purposes on St John’s day.
          It has slight tonic properties and was once used as a cure for epilepsy.
          Burdock, also called Lappa or Beggar’s Buttons, (Arctium lappa), is notable in the fact that no animal (except for the ass) will browse on its leaves.
          Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) has been as a curative herb for centuries: as such it was mentioned in the Holy Bible. It was once used to fight pulmonary diseases and as a carminative (ie to fight flatulence).
          Blessed Thistle (Carbenia benedicta) has been introduced to Britain, being a native of Southern Europe, probably some time during the XVI century. This was a cure-all herb, and as such even mentioned by Shakespeare in Much Ado About Nothing. The Blessed Thistle is rich in cnicin, an anti-inflammatory substance, which is apparently a very good substitute for aspirin (as is salicin, derived from willow bark). The astounding success of commercial, mass produced aspirin made these traditional anti-inflammatory methodsredundant but now they are being recovered because of alleged anti-cancner capabilities.
          PS while we are at it: the Spartans valued the willow above any other plant or herb. Infusions made from its bark proved invaluable to old veterans ridden with rheumatism and war wounds.

  2. K Corkery says:

    I think all you need is Tea

    I think all you need is Tea tree, Lavender, Garlic, Olive Oil and a little lovin’

  3. Ian Topham says:

    Tea Tree
    I had never heard of Tea Tree Oil before (I must be a heathen), so I had to look it up on Wikipedia.  It has antiseptic, antifungal and cosmetic qualities….as well as being good at flea control :).

  4. sidney says:

    Re: Herb Lore
    I’m wondering about the Physicians of Myddvai.  i understand that the last one died in the 19th century.  i caught the end of a TV program the other night in which a presnt day doctor was visiting somewhere where the work was being carried on, and herbs were still being grown.
    Anyone able to enlighten me?

    FYI:  mugwort can be used to grant vivid dreams, and is used by witches to enhance magical practises.

  5. Ian Topham says:

    Re: Herb Lore

    Sorry for the late welcome to the site Sidney.  I don’t know that much about the Physicians but I’ll see what I can dig up.

  6. Englishpsychic says:

    Re: Herb Lore
     Since I am from India, the only herb I can think of is the Holy Indian Basil. I really love this plant. No worship is complete without it. And it is a panacea for all ills. Smells great too; and gives off oxygen 24 hours per day. A great atmosphere cleanser, which is why Hindus plant at least one in front of their homes. 

  7. Ecardina says:

    Re: Herb Lore

    Well technically every plant has a property which would have been appreciated by those who specialised in the art of wortcunning but I supose for magical uses i’d say ‘anything baneful’. Yup, anything which is most likely to poison you if you so much as nibble at it. As mentioned before, wormwood and mandrake, also bella donna and henbane not to mention other variations are prized for their magical properties. The reason for this is not only the chemistry (spirits, connection to gods etc.) of the plants but also their medicinal value. Such plants can kill, yes but with the right amount, as tiny as that may be, they can save lives. I think there is an attraction in something which can kill but also cure.

  8. jordanbenidict says:

    Re: Herb Lore
    Sun Ritual Biscuits

    6 oz Flour
    6 oz Butter/Marg [‘Pure’ range of vegan margarine is ideal]
    3 oz Sugar
    1 teaspoon ground Ginger
    1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
    grated zest of 1 Lemon
    splash of Lemon Juice

    Add the flour, sugar and ground spice and zest s into a large mixing bowl and mix together. Now rub the butter into the flour, sugar and spices – creating a breadcrumb texture. When you have an even breadcrumb style mix pour in the lemon juice (enough to help the mixture bind together – but not enough to make it too sticky!) and mix together gently – start pressing the mix together and kneading lightly. Now roll the mixture out (onto a floured board / work-surface) and cut out circular shapes and place them on a greased baking tray. Place in a pre-heated oven at Gas Mark 4 (180C) for about 15 – 20 minutes (until just golden). Leave to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the tray.
    If you prefer a chunkier biscuit press the mizture into a shortbread tray (baking tray with sides), gently mark into squares, and leave in the oven for a bit longer. Cut into squares after removing from the oven and leave in the tin to cool for 5 minutes.

  9. jordanbenidict says:

    Re: Herb Lore
    1 bottle of good red wine
    2 oranges
    2 cinnamon sticks
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    1/2 teaspoon of allspice
    1/2 centimetre piece of fresh ginger
    1 1/2 cups of water
    2 tablespoons sugar or honey,

    Stud the oranges with cloves and put in a hot oven until golden in colour and aromatic. Leave to cool. In to a large sauce pan add water, sugar, and spices,cook on low heat until sugar has melted and all ingredients are well combined. Slice oranges , add to pan. Finally add the wine stir over low heat until warmed through, then serve.
    Can also be served chilled witha dash of ginger ale or lemonade , for a cool summer drink.
    The red wine can be substituted for milk for an interesting and relaxing drink.

  10. Ecardina says:

    Re: Herb Lore

    Am I right in thinking cookie and spiced wine recipes doesn’t technically fall under the category of ‘herb lore’. I’m confused now.

  11. jordanbenidict says:

    Re: Herb Lore
    ok well this was taken from a wiccan herb lore festival in america where they cook with spices and zesty fruits to the god of nature.( the green man)

  12. Irish Psychic Hecate says:

    Re: Herb Lore
    Mugwort also known as worm wood is another plant that was used by midwives in the the 16th century for abortions.  It is widely known today as a plant that is useful in the treatment of gastric problems.  I’ve been interested herbal medicine for years.

    Also things like ‘white willow bark’ is like asprin and can be used for pain and bowel problems
    Camomile is not just used for nervous disorders but also as a muscle relaxant for pain and for bowel issues.

    a few years ago my sister bought me a great shamanic herb lore book and its really informative, if anyone interested i can post the name and author