herbal folklore

KEMARUS(z6 PA)June 3, 2005

Hi, I posted this on the herbs forum but now that I see this I think it is more appropriate here.

I am looking for tales of herbal folklore, old herbal cures (whether they worked or not) or anything like this. I have seen some things posted that have really made me curious. I thought it would be a great thread to get going. Fun to read and lots to learn.

If you have read good books on this subject or have a good website, please add that also.


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Here's a good one from the Chinese Materia Medica (a compendium of medicinal plants and animals compiled by the naturalist Li-Shih-chen, circa 1597) referenced in the recently published Stiff by Mary Roach (a N.Y. Times bestseller).

One recipe describes a selfless procedure undertaken by elderly males who stop eating food other than honey and only bathe in honey. After a month or so death ensues and the subject is placed to macerate in a stone coffin full of honey for 100 years. A "confection" is thus formed which is used for treating "broken and wounded limbs". "A small amount taken internally will immediately cure the complaint."


The same chapter of the Roach book also describes a recipe for "Placenta Cocktail", which includes V-8 and carrots, the further details of which can reportedly be found online.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 4:54PM
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Thanks Eric, that was WAY too much info before I had my coffee! A couple books I have had in my library for years are: The Illustrated Plantlore" by Addison and Wildflower Folklore by Martin. In Plantlore it says:

"Greater Celandine" Chelidonium majus. The generic name is from Green "chelidon", swallow, from the belief that the flower appeared with the swallows and died when they departed. Country names for the plant include swallow-root, tetterwort, witch's flower, wart plant and yellow spit. Pliny, who recorded the virtues of this plant, said that swallows anointed the eyes of their young with the juice of the greater celandine. Certainly the juice was applied to the eyes and head of human beings and used to treat tetters (skin diseases), ringworm and warts. A decoction of the herb was said to ease toothache, while the powdered root laid on a loose or hollow tooth would cause it to fall out. During the twentieth century it has been used as a purge, for spllen and liver complaints, and in the form of a poultice for ulcers and skin diseases."

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 7:22AM
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try j.phelps o brown, his book "the peoples own physician or the complete herbal is great..look up the cundarangu vine, loads of weird superstitions about it being used as a cancer cure in south america and being brought back to europe by the conquistadores...what is your particular interest, i mean ...what6 age, countries, etc...cheers..ella

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 9:41AM
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Thanks everyone. I don't have a specific area of interest. Just started picking up some herbal folklore and such as I was reading things on this board. I started to pass some of the stories on to my kids (15 & 12) as we were gardening. This is their first year of showing any interest in gardening. They loved hearing the stories and so many of the stories were interesting or funny. It increased their interest and I found us spending so much more time together talking and laughing. Also, as I was reading some posts there were other people who talked about finding herbal folklore fascinating so I thought why not create an area where these stories can be shared.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2005 at 10:51AM
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AdamFeatherFeline(z8 WA state)

one that is effective, but with some risks, still used to this day , in the treatment of asthema , is to smoke the foliage of various datura species , this however comes with its own set of health problems' delerium , dry mouth , increased pulse ' it is however effective , if a very small amount is inhaled , if too much is inhaled ... ' Wide Eyed Dreamer ' not to mention you are going to be stared at untill your pupils return to their normal shape ... Datura is also used as a topical treatment for injuries such as broken bones, sprains , ect , it is a exceedingly toxic plant that is effective for these applications, but has its own health risks associated with it, not the least being ' Delerium ' ... The asthema treament is very commonly used in India , with Datura Metel , and in mexico pretty much all of the native datura are used for topical painkillers, Nicotiana ( Tobacco ) species , especialy N. Rustica . are also added to these topical treaments ... But there is always oh I dont know ... asprin ... the painkilling effect of the topical application can be nice for very serious localized injuries ' complex fractures ' but if you have no idea yet how toxic this plant is ... your physician can recomend something much safer, that will likely not cause ' Delerium ' ...There are many deaths on record as a result of these plants however, mostly by kids seeking thrills, but also from people who used it medicinaly , and the topical application is actually one of the more dangerous methods of medicinal tropane nightshade use, with its own deaths- adam

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 4:41AM
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one word if ur looking at flokelore: mandrake

if u just google mandrake u'll get linux but any good site just selling the seeds will tell you a bit

aparently good as an aphrodisiac, contains a demon, grows under gallows from the semen of hanged murderers, brings luck, when washed in wine and dressed in red silk can awnser questions.

on a slightly more realisitc note: as its part of the solanaceae (nightshade/potato) family it contains highly potent tropane alcaloids that cause hallusinations and death as well as being absorbed through your skin. thats why mandrake was sometimes used a as a substitute for deadly nightshade in flying ointments.

oh and deadly nightshade is aparently tended by the devil himself every night and can only be taken on something like walpurgis nite as he is busy then.

i haver far too much time on my hands that i can list this off without having to think

oha nd mugwort protects travelers/brings luck and wards off evil spirits

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 5:50AM
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Watch out! I started with a vague interest in this sort of thing and several decades later I am hopelessly addicted to finding out more and more! I've even put together several books on the subject - trouble is, I keep finding more valuable information to add to them, so it's an ongoing, never-ending project. IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!

It's a huge topic, covering thousands upon thousands plants, and hundreds of different ethnic cultures. Aside from the medicinal remedies, you've also got the myths and legends and superstitions - not to mention culinary recipes and spells and cosmetic uses etc.

Try hunting around the WWW for 'herb(al) remedies', 'folklore herbs', 'herb myths and legends' 'herb history' or 'herb supersititions' 'herbalism' or 'herbology' or any other variation on the theme, and be prepared to spend the rest of your life utterly enthralled (and doing nothing else)! Try looking at some of the Wicca or Witchcraft sites - they often have some brilliant information about all sorts of ways of using herbs, and some old stories and traditions which are fascinating to read. The ones I've encountered have a very healthy respect for herbs and give some excellent advice (though of course there are some over-the-top sites, too!).

Here's something I have partially edited which I copied from some site or other. I have reams of similar stuff hiding away gathering dust! I'm currently working on the remedies, not the superstition-type stuff. You'll see a lot of the remedies etc I've collected in this forum and on Herbs, so do some browsing in here, too.

MAGICKAL: Carrying comfrey during travel will ensure your safety. Put some in your luggage to prevent it being lost or stolen. It will also bring luck to the carrier.

MAGICKAL: Damiana is used in infusions to incite lust, and is burned to produce visions.

MAGICKAL: It is a sign of rain when the down from a ripened dandelion head falls without wind helping it to do so. To blow the seeds off a ripened head is to carry your thoughts to a loved one, near or far.

MAGICKAL: Dill is used in love and protection sachets. The dried seed heads hung in the home, over doorways, and above cradles provides protection. Add dill to your bath to make you irresistible to your lover.

MAGICKAL: Echinacea is used as an offering to the spirits or gods and goddesses to strengthen a spell or ritual.

MAGICKAL: The branches of the sacred elder are used to make magickal wands for ritual. Scattering the leaves in the four winds will bring protection. Elderberry wine, made from the berries, is used in rituals. In Denmark, it is believed to be unlucky to have furniture made of elder wood. Grown near your home, elder will offer protection to the dwellers. It is used at weddings to bring good luck to the newlyweds. Flutes made formt he branches are used to bring forth spirits.

MAGICKAL: Add this herb to love charms and amulets of all kinds. Used with mistletoe and vervain, itis especially powerful. Use when scrying for better results.

MEDICINAL: Eucalyptus oil is a powerful antiseptic, and is used to treat pyorrhea (gum disease), and is used on burns to prevent infections. The oil breathed in will help clear the sinuses, as will the steam from boiling the leaves. When mixed with water or vegetable oils, it makes a good insect repellant. A small drop on the tongue eases nausea.

MAGICKAL: Healing energies come from the leaves. A branch or wreath over the bed of a sick person will help spread the healing energies. The oil is added to healing baths, and for purifications.

MAGICKAL: Eyebright is used to make a simple tea to rub on the eyelids to induce and enhance clairvoyant visions.

False Unicorn
MEDICINAL: False Unicorn is very soothing for a delicate stomach. It also stimulates the reproductive organs in women and men. This herb is very important for use during menopause, due to its positive effects on uterine disorders, headaches, and depression.

MAALGICK: Use for scenting soaps and perfumes to ward off negativity and evil. Grow near the home for the same purpose.

MAGICKAL: Adding a few fenugreek seeds to the mop water used to clean your household floors will bring money into the household.

MAGICKAL: Feverfew is carried for protection against illnesses involving fever, as well as for preventing accidents.

MAGICKAL: Peeled garlic cloves placed in each room is said to ward off disease. It is hung in new homes to dispel negativity and evil, and (don't laugh!) to ward off vampires. It is a strong protective herb. Place a clove under the pillow of sleeping children to protect them.

MAGICKAL: Ginger is used in passion spells, to "heat up" the relationship. It is used in success spells, and to ensure the success of spells.

MAGICKAL: Ginseng is carried to guard your health and to attract love. It will also ensure sexual potency. Ginseng is an effecitve substitute for mandrake in all spells.

MAGICKAL: Goldenseal is used n properity spells, as well as healing spells and rituals.

MAGICKAL: The leaves are used to make protection sachets. They are also carried to ensure good fishing. In Europe, Hawthorn was used to repel witchcraft spells. Bringing branches of it into the home is supposed to portend death. It is incorporated into spells and rituals for fertility. It will protect the home from damaging storms.

MAGICKAL: Heather is carried as a guard against rape and violent crime. In potpourri, it adds protection. When burned with fern, it will bring rain.

MAGICKAL: Hops is used in healing incenses. Sleep pillows often include hops to induce sleep and pleasant dreams.

MAGICKAL: Horehound is used in incenses for protection. It is also used in exorcisms.

MAGICKAL: Whistles made from the stalks of Horsetail are used to call the spirits.

MAGICKAL: Hyssop is used in purification baths and rituals, and used to cleanse persons and objects.

Queen Anne's Lace
MEDICINAL:Queen Anne's Lace is used for treating gallstones and kidney stones, as well as water retention and strains and sprains.

MAGICKAL: Raspberry is served as a love-inducing food. The brambles are hung at the entrance to the home to prevent unwanted spirits from entering.

MAGICKAL: Rose water is used in gourmet dishes and in love potions. Petals are used in healing incense and sachets, and burned to provide a restful night's sleep. The essential oil is used in ritual baths to provide peace, love, and harmony within the self. The hips are strung like beads and worn to attract love. Rose petals sprinkled around the home will calm personal stress and upheavals in the home.

MAGICKAL: Rosemary in all of its forms is used for protection and banishment. Rosemary leaves under your pillow do away with evil spirits and bad dreams. It is hung on porches and doors to keep thieves out. Rosemary is grown to attract elves.

MAGICKAL: The herb is used in sachets and amulets to ward off illness. The smell of the fresh, crushed herb will chase away thoughts or envy, egotism, and love gone wrong. Rue leaves placed on the forehead will chase away headacahes. Added to baths, rue drives away spells and hexes placed on you. Rue is said to grow best if it is stolen.

MAGICKAL: Saffron is used to clean the hands before rituals. It is used in healing mixtures. The essential oil is used to induce clairvoayancy. Thrown into the air, it can bring the winds.

MAGICKAL: Sage is used in healing amulets, incenses, and sachets, and is also used in the same manner for bringing prosperity. Sage burned at the altar or in sacred space consecrates the area. Burned in the home, it removes impurities and banishes evil, as well as providing protection.

St. Johnswort
MAGICKAL: St. Johnswort is hung around the neck to prevent fevers. Wearing the herb aids you in war and other battles, including those of the will and indecision. Burnt it will banish evil and negativity. Hung in the home or carried, it will prevent spells of others from entering, and it is used in exorcisms. If you pick the plant on the night of St. John and hang it on your bedroom wall, you will dream of your future husband.

MAGICKAL: Scullcap is used in spells that bring about peace, tranquility, and relaxation.

Slippery Elm
MAGICKAL: Slippery elm is burned to stop gossip.

Solomon's Seal
MEDICINAL: Solomon's Seal is used to treat tuberculosis, diabetes, and wasting diseases. It is also used as a kidney tonic, and as a healer of broken bones.
MAGICKAL: It is added to protection sachets and incenses. It is also used for exorcisms and cleansing mixtures.

MAGICKAL: Spearmint is added to healing incenses and sachets to aid in healing lung diseases and other afflictions. Place some in a sleeping pillow for protection during sleep.

MEDICINAL: Also known as Pau d' Arco. Taheebo is found in South America. It is a powerful herb with antibiotic and virus-killing properties. It gives the body the energy needed to defend itself and to help resist diseases. It is used in South America to battle cancer and leukemia. It is useful in aiding all chronic diseases.


MAGICKAL: Thyme is burnt to purge and fumigate magickal rooms and spaces, as well as to bring good health. Thyme in a sleeping pillow repels nightmares.

Uva Ursi
MAGICKAL: Add to sachets to increase psychic powers.
GROWING:Uva Ursi rarely grows more than a few inches tall. It is best propogated from cuttings. It takes an unusually long time to root, so consider instead buying small plants from nurseries. It does poorly in rich soil, as it prefers poor soils in full sun. Once established, it spreads and becomes an attractive, hardy ground cover, surviving temperatures of -50.


MAGICKAL: Valerian is used to get fighting couples back together, in spells of love, and in purification baths.

MAGICKAL: Vervain is used for cleansing incenses and baths. Buried in a field, it will make your crops abundant. It is burned to attract wealth, and hung above a bed to prevent nightmares, and above a baby's crib (out of reach!) to offer protection for the little one, and will enable the child to grow up with a love of learning and a happy outlook. Hung in the home it offers protection from negative spells, and is used as a pledge of mutual faith when given to a friend.

MEDICINAL: Violet is effective in healing internal ulcers. It is used both internally and externally for pimples, abscesses, tumors, and swollen glands. It is useful in treating malignant growths, as well.
MAGICKAL: Violet in a pillow will help ease headaches away. Carrying the flowers brings a change in luck, and mixed with lavendar makes a powerful love sachet.

MEDICINAL: Vitex is a normalizing herb for the reproductive system. It is most commonly used in treating infertility, PMS, menopausal problems, and hormonal imbalances. It is most effective when taken over a period of time, and in conjunction with other herbs used for the same purposes. It is also known as chaste tree fruit, or chaste berry.

MEDICINAL: Walnut bark is used to treat dysentery and skin diseases. The nut is used to promote strength and weight gain. The hull of the nut is used to treat skin diseases, herpes, head and body lice, and internal parasites. Walnut leaf is used to treat eczema, hives, and boils.
MAGICKAL: The nut still in its shell is carried to promote fertility. To discover if a Witch is in your midst, legend has it that you should drop a walnut still in its shell into the lap of the person suspected, and if that person is truly a Witch, they will be unable to rise from a sitting position as long as the walnut is in their laps.

MEDICINAL: Willow works like aspirin. In fact, aspirin was derived from willow bark. It is also used to cleanse and heal eyes that are infected or inflamed. It is safe to use, and is mild on the stomach and leaves no after-effects.
MAGICKAL: Willow trees are planted near the home as a guard. Its branches have been used for the bindings on a witch's broom, and as healing wands. It is also used to bring the blessings of the moon into your life.

Witch Hazel
MEDICINAL: Witch Hazel is used externally for insect bites, burns, bleeding wounds, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins. Internally it will stop bleeding from internal organs, treats bronchitis, flu, and coughs as well as promotes healing of stomach ulcers. It is often used as a mouthwash for conditions of the mouth and throat, and for bleeding gums.
MAGICKAL: The forked twigs of the Witch Hazel are used for divining. It will help heal a broken heart and cool passions when carried.

MAGICKAL: Wormwood is burned to raise your spirits to a higher level, enabling easier divination and clairvoyance. Thrown on the fire at Samhain, it will protect from the spirits that roam that night.

MEDICINAL: Yarrow is used to stimulate and regulate the liver. It acts as a blood purifier and heals the glandular system. It has been used as a contraceptive, and as a part of diabetes treatment, as well as treating gum ailments and toothache. Also is used in formulas for treating colds, flus, and fevers. It arrests internal and external bleeding during childbirth. It is used to stop the bleeding of external wounds.Pregnant women should avoid this herb.
MAGICKAL: Since Yarrow has the ability to keep a couple together for 7 years, it is used in love sachets as well as a gift to give to newlyweds. When worn it wards off negativity, and if held in your hand it repels fear. Yarrow added to the bath protects from harm.

MEDICINAL: Juniper has been used to clear uric acid from the body. It is high in natural insulin, and has the ability to heal the pancreas where there has been no permanent damage. It is useful for all urinary infections and for water retention problems. Juniper is used externally as a compress to treat acne, athlete's foot, dry skin, and dandruff.
MAGICKAL: Juniper is used to protect from accidents and theft. Grown at your doorstep, it will offer your home protection. It is used in incenses for protection.

Kava Kava
MEDICINAL: Used to treat insomnia and nervousness. Relieves stress after injury. Used as a tea for pains associated with nerve and skin diseases. Large doses can cause a buildup of toxic substances in the liver.
MAGICKAL: A tea of kava kava is drunk to offer protection against evil and to invite good luck. Sprinkle the tea around the home and property for the same uses.

MEDICINAL: Lavendar tea made from the blossoms is used as an antidepressant. It is used in combination with other herbs for a remedy for depression and nervous tension and stress. It is also used as a headache remedy. It also can be used to aid digestion and calm nerves.
OTHER USES: A wad of cotten moistened with Lavender will keep moths away and freshen a room. Also used to repel insects such a flys and mosquitos.
MAGICKAL: Lavendar is used in purification baths and rituals. It is used in healing incenses and sachets. Carrying the herb will enable the carrier to see ghosts. The essential oil will heighten sexual desire in men. Lavendar water sprinkled on the head is helpful in keeping your chastity. The flowers are burned to induce sleep, and scattered throughout the home to maintain peaceful harmony within. Carrying lavendar brings strength and courage.

Lemon Balm
MEDICINAL: Lemon Balm is used in treating headaches, colds, and nervous or upset stomachs. Externally the crushed leaves can be applied to wounds and insect bites to speed healing.
MAGICKAL: Lemon Balm is used in spells to bring success, and in healing spells. It is often used in spells to find love and friendship.

MEDICINAL: Licorice Root is a great source of the female hormone estrogen. It is used for coughs and chest ailments. It is an important herb to use when recovering from an illness, as it supplies needed energy to the system. Used as a remedy for stomach and heart problems, indigestion, and most respiratory ailments. Helps to normalize and regulate hormone production. Should not be used by pregnant women as it can sometimes lead to high blood pressure with prolonged use.
MAGICKAL: Licorice root was buried in tombs and caskets to help the soul pass easily into the Summerland. Chewing on a piece of the root will make you passionate. It is added to love sachets, and an ingredient in spells to ensure fidelity.

MEDICINAL: Lovage root eases bloating and flatulence. It is also used with other herbs to counteract colds and flu.
MAGICKAL: Lovage is added to baths to clean the pysychic portion of the mind. Added to baths with rose petals will make you attractive to the opposite sex.

MEDICINAL: Marigold is a great first aid remedy. It relieves headaches, earaches, and reduces fevers. It is excellent for the heart and for the circulation. It is also used externally to heal wounds and bruises.
MAGICKAL: Fresh marigolds in any room heightens the energy within. Placed under the pillow before bed, it induces clairvoyancy. Planted in rows with tomatoes, it will keep pests from them and other vegetables. Planted near the porch/deck, it will keep mosquitoes away. It is also used to attract and see the fairies. Scattered under the bed, they protect during sleep. Add to bath water to win the respect of everyone you meet.

MEDICINAL: Marjoram is useful for treating asthma, coughs, and is used to strengthen the stomach and intestines, as well as used with other herbs for headaches.
MAGICKAL: Marjoram should be added to all love charms and sachets. A bit in each room will aid in protection of the home. If given to a grieving or depressed person, it will bring them happiness.

MEDICINAL: Marshmallow aids in the expectoration of difficult mucous and phlegm. It helps to relax and soothe the bronchial tubes, making it valuable for all lung ailments. It is an anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory for joints and the digestive system. It is often used externally with cayenne to treat blood poisoning, burns, and gangrene.

MEDICINAL: Mugwort is used in all conditions dealing with nervousness, shaking, and insomnia. It is used to help induce menses, especially combined with cramp bark. Often used to stimulate the liver and as a digestive aid. It should not be used by pregant women. (Put some leaves in a sleep pillow to dream of the man you'll marry!)

MEDICINAL: Mullein is a terrific narcotic herb that is not addictive or poisonous. It is used as a pain killer and to bring on sleep. It loosens mucous, making it useful for treating lung ailments. It strengthens the lymphatic system.
MAGICKAL: Mullein is worn to give the carrier courage. The leaves are also carried to prevent animal attacks and accidents when in the wilderness. In a sleeping pillow it will guard against nightmares. Use as a substitution in old spells for "grave dust".

MEDICINAL: Myrtle is used to treat bronchitis, bruises, bad breath, wounds, colds, sinusitis, and coughs.
MAGICKAL: Myrtle is burned as an incense to bring beauty, to honor Diana and to Venus, and is a symbol of glory and happy love. Myrtle tea will make you look beautiful to your loved one. A distillation of the leaves and flowers combined will make a wonderful beauty wash for the face, and is known as "angel water". It is used in spells to keep love alive and exciting. Grow on each side of the house to preserve and protect the love within.

MEDICINAL: The plant is used for high blood pressure, gout, PMS, rheumatism, and ending diarrhea, scurvy, liver and prostate problems. Externally it is used as a compress to treat neuralgia and arthritis. It is a very high source of digestible iron. Also treats anemia, fatigue, edema, menstrual difficulties, hay fever and allergies.
MAGICKAL: Sprinkle nettle around the room to protect it. It is also burned during ceremonies for exorcism. Stuffed in a poppet and sent back to the sender of a curse or bad spell, it will end the negativity. Nettles gathered before sunrise and fed to cattle is said to drive evil spirits from them.

MEDICINAL: A small amount of nutmeg, about the size of a pea, can be taken once daily over a long period (6 months to a year) to relieve chronic nervous problems, as well as heart problems stemming from poor circulation. Added to milk, and baked fruits and desserts, it aids in digestion, and relieves nausea. Large doses can be poisonous, and may cause miscarriage for pregnant women.
MAGICKAL: Carried, nutmeg will help with clairvoyancy, and ward off rheumatism. It is included in prosperity mixtures. Nutmegs are carried as good luck charms.

MEDICINAL: Oats are a traditional food for those recovering from an illness. It also supplies necessary fiber in the diet. Oats made into packs and pastes clear up many skin disorders, such as acne. Oats reducces blood cholesterol levels.
MAGICKAL: Oats are used in prosperity and money spells, and in rituals to the harvest.

MAGICKAL: Has been used as a charm against evil spirits. Halved or quartered onions placed in the home absorb negativity. An onion under your pillow will give you prophetic dreams. Magickal swords and knives are purified by rubbing them with an onion half.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 8:52AM
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Here's a site that you shouldn't take too seriously!

Here is a link that might be useful: folklore

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 10:21PM
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honeysuckle grown around you're door keeps out witches/evil spirits.

hops, medicinaly should be avoided be women to a certaiin extent, women working with hops for a while often find that their menstrual cycles disrupted.

elder, aparently yous shouldn't tamper with elder, it wont burn easyly bu t burning aparently brings down a curse on you. witches aparently live/sleep in elder trees and damaging one with a resident in it is bad. aparently if a witch wanted some milk she would turn into an elder tree and grow towards and into a barn to drink the milk.

hmmm... what else.. get back to you later when i can rememnber more

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 6:59AM
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I always apologise to my elder tree (or, rather, to 'the lady of the elder') when cutting it back or harvesting! This is the poem I'm supposed to say, but I can never remember it! You need to have the 'old girl's' permission to cut twigs of the tree. (Actually, I'm not a superstitious person, but I do it for fun when somebody else is around - and maybe a little 'just in case'... I have a healthy respect for the elder tree, because I use its flowers and berries so much to good effect.)

The lady or 'old girl' in question is Lady Ellhorn or Hylde-Moer (whom some believe to be the German goddess Holde herself). To fail to ask permission and offer another tree or gift in return was to incur the wrath of the Huldru-folk or the Elle(people of the elder). In fact, the normally loving goddess Holda as Lady Ellhorn was said to kill babies whose cribs were made of its wood. Any follower of Asatru or Heathen needs to make sure to make an offering to the tree before taking any branch. However, if taken properly, the elder could lend its powers to all sorts of uses.

Old girl, give me some of thy wood
I will give thee some of mine when I grow into a tree.

Stand beneath the elder to be protected from lightning; sleeping under the elder tree will bring drugged and dangerous dreams of faeryland, from which onemight awaken either mad, or not at all. In mediaeval times it was considered unlucky to burn elder,or to bring it into the house. It was only considered safe to cut an elder tree if one had first askedpermission; the tree dryad would grant consent by keeping silence. Elder leaves gathered at Beltane Eve and attached to the door are said to keep away evil.

The elder has been attributed with revealing evil wights, bringing ghosts or little folk into a house (if the elder branch or leaf is brought inside), and warding against all kinds of fiends. Even its berries were thought powerful for a circle of them was thought to a quite powerful warding circle.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 6:06PM
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let's see what I can remember.

there's the old trick of putting belladonna berry juice in your eyes to dialate the irises, making your eyes more attractive - or giving you better night vision.

there's a local plant that's called Mandrake, though its proper name is may apple, that looks like an umbrella. it was rumoured to be so poisonous that if you pulled it out of the ground and licked your fingers afterwards, you would get sick.

sassafras bark was boiled for tea to keep winter colds at bay. Willow back worked for headaches and fever. raspberry and blackberry leaves were diuretics.

Foxglove flowers soaked in brandy could strengthen a failing heart, but was dangerous trying to control the dosage (this is the organic source for digitalis)

eating poison ivy berries would make you immune (this is very much untrue)

sumac with red berry clusters is good for you. ones with pale berries (yellow, or white) make poison ivy look like a mosquito bite.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 3:27PM
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parsley, because it takes forever to germinate is said to go to hell and back 7 timesbefore it can sprout, in one of the isles off of the UK, i cant remember which, childern when they ask the question that is inevitable, i.e. where they came from, are said to be dug up from the parsley bed with a golden spade. i think theres quite a bit more about parsley.

grape vines aparentlk have roots that go to hell and steal water from the damned souls, because theire roots run so deep and when all other plants have died from drought grape vines are flourishing becuase drought it usual acompanied by sun.

hazel it used for divining, and aparently is said to be good wood for wands (see elder)

henbane (i think this is right, it might have been another solanaceae) was used to kill unwanted babies by rubbing the mothers niple with it before suckling.

holy and oak are important as they are linked to the seasons. oak has leaves only in summer and the oak king ruled during summer. and as holy bears its fruit in winter the holy king rules then. the holy king was a man with a white beard, he wore a thick (well it was winter when he was important)green robe, often depicted with a white fur trim and his reign was celebrated at about the winter solstice. sounds familiar? (i'l give you a hint, he was also known as father holy, and he now wears a red suit (stupid coca cola)) thats right, hes santa claus/ his origin.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2005 at 10:02AM
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I also follow the tradition of asking permission before taking a leaf or branch form any herb...

I enjoy studying the old tales about herbs and trying to detemine the reasons they might have built up such a history.

They each seem to have their own personality.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 12:54AM
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Daisy, your list is really cool. For people interested in the magical elements of herbs, I suggest finding a copy of John Michael Greer's Natural Magic, an encyclopedia type listing of astrology & folklore of herbs, stones & lots of other stuff. Two of my other favorites are Hedgemaids & Fairy Candles: The Lives & Lore of North American Wildflowers, by Jack Sanders-- great for extrapolating stories to tell to kids-- and A Gardener's Handbook of Plant Names: Their Meanings & Origins which gives the "logic" of latin genus & species names as well as anecdotal histories which contributed to the naming of particular plants. It's set up like a dictionary & easy to use.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 10:17PM
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novice_2009(zone 6b)

Once again, daisyduck, you AMAZE me. I've found some interesting herbal folkore info in books. One of the most recent was a book about New England gardens, early american gardens. Some books, a few, will list herbs used by Native Americans. Herbalism goes back to the Arabs, Greeks, and so on. It's fascinating! A lot of that "folklore" is still used today, proven, helpful remedies. Eibren, your approach is very Native American, and shows respect for the herbs God gave us to use.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 12:34AM
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