Herbs: A -Z List:
Medicinal, Spiritual and Magical Uses of...)
The following information is for reference
only. Herb-lore is an art which must be respected, and several
herbs can be as equally dangerous as beneficial if not used
General: Aloes are indigenous to East and South Africa,
but have been introduced into the West Indies (where they are
extensively cultivated) and into tropical countries, and will
even flourish in the countries bordering on the Mediterranean.
The drug Aloes consists of the liquid exuded from the
transversely-cut bases of the leaves.
The drug Aloes is one of the safest and best warm and
stimulating purgatives to persons of sedentary habits and
phlegmatic constitutions. An ordinary small dose takes from 15
to 18 hours to produce an effect. Its action is exerted mainly
on the large intestine, for which reason, also it is useful as a
vermifuge. Its use, however, is said to induce Piles. From the
Chemist and Druggist (July 22, 1922):
strychnine and belladonna in pill form was criticized by Dr.
Bernard Fautus in a paper read before the Chicago branch of
the American Pharmaceutical Society. He pointed out that
when given at the same time they cannot possibly act
together because of the different speed and duration of the
three agents. Aloin is slow in action, requiring from 10 to
12 hours. Strychnine and Atropine, on the other hand, are
rapidly absorbed, and have but a brief duration of action.'
Aloes was employed by
the ancients and was known to the Greeks as a production of the
island of Socotra as early as the fourth century B.C. The drug
was used by Dioscorides, Celsus and Pliny, as well as by the
later Greek and Arabian physicians, though it is not mentioned
either by Hippocrates or Theophrastus.
The word Aloes, in Latin Lignum Aloes, is used in the
Bible and in many ancient writings to designate a substance
totally distinct from the modern Aloes, namely the resinous wood
of Aquilaria agallocha, a large tree growing in the
Malayan Peninsula. Its wood constituted a drug which was, down
to the beginning of the present century, generally valued for
use as incense, but now is esteemed only in the East. The Mahometans,
especially those in Egypt, regard the Aloe as a religious
symbol, and the Mussulman who has made a pilgrimage to the
shrine of the Prophet is entitled to hang the Aloe over his
doorway. The Mahometans also believe that this holy symbol
protects a householder from any malign influence. In Cairo, the
Jews also adopt the practice of hanging up the Aloe. In the neighbourhood of
Mecca, at the extremity of every grave, on a spot facing the
epitaph, Burckhardt found planted a low shrubby species of Aloe
whose Arabic name, saber, signifies patience. This
plant is evergreen and requires very little water. Its name
refers to the waiting-time between the burial and the
General: Other Names:
Mountain Tobacco. Leopard's Bane. Parts Used: Root,
flowers. Habitat: A perennial herb, indigenous to
Central Europe, in woods and mountain pastures. In countries where Arnica is indigenous, it has long been a
Medicinal Use: The tincture is used for external
application to sprains, bruises, and wounds, and as a paint for
chilblains when the skin is unbroken. Repeated applications may
produce severe inflammation. It is seldom, (if ever) used
internally, because of its irritant effect on the stomach.
A homoeopathic tincture, X6, has been
used successfully in the treatment of epilepsy; also for
seasickness, 3 X before sailing, and every hour on board till
comfortable. For tender feet a foot-bath of hot water
containing 1/2 oz. of the tincture has brought great relief. Applied
to the scalp it will make the hair grow. Great care must be exercised though, as some
people are particularly sensitive to the plant and many severe cases
of poisoning have resulted from its use, especially if taken
internally. British Pharmacopoeia Tincture, root, 10 to
30 drops. United States Pharmacopoeia Tincture, flowers, 10 to 30
As a tea for calming the nerves, settling the stomach, and
easing cramps and good for the bladder. Use as a poultice on
chest for bronchitis and chest colds.
All basils are antibacterial and act as
good insect repellents, and as Culpepper noted, “Being
applied to the place bitten by venomous beasts, or stung by
a wasp or hornet, it speedily draws the poison to it”.
Basil, Ocimum sanctum, was originally a native
plant of India and its use only spread outwards to Europe
and the West in the sixteenth century. Ocimum sanctum, or
Tulsi as it is known in Hindu, is used in traditional in
religious ceremonies and in ayurvedic medicine for common
colds, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart
disease, various forms of poisoning, and malaria
Sacred Use: It
is sacred to the Hindu god Vishnu and his avatar, Krishna. Magical
herbals occasionally refer to it as St. Joseph's Wort.
Best known for its properties to aid and strengthen love.
Although known to bring about prosperity, love spells are
the general domain for basil. It is used to soothe
communication and heal relationships between two people.
Basil is originally native to
India and other tropical regions of Asia, having been
cultivated there for more than 5,000 years, reached Europe
in the sixteenth century. Basil brings prosperity and
happiness when planted in the garden. In Europe, they place
basil in the hands of the dead to ensure a safe journey. In
India, they place it in the mouth of the dying to ensure
they reach God. The ancient Egyptians and ancient Greeks
believed that it would open the gates of heaven for a person
General: Parts Used:
Leaves, Fruit, Oil.
Use as a poultice on chest for bronchitis and chest colds.
Oil of bay, the fixed
oil expressed from the berries, is used to treat
arthritic aches and pains,
lower back pain, earaches, and sore muscles and sprains. Bay
leaves are the source of an essential oil with the same
analgesic and warming properties. Bay laurel contains
parthenolides, the same chemical in feverfew (Tanacetum
parthenium) that is thought to prevent migraine headaches.
Do not use Internally.
Use: Bay leaves come from the laurel, and have a strong
tradition as a Greek sacred plant. When the nymph Daphne wanted
to avoid the passions of Apollo, she turned into the first
laurel tree, which Apollo then adopted as his sacred tree.
Wreaths were made from the leaves, which were also chewed and
burned by Apollo's prophetic priestesses at Delphi.
is used for purification, dreams, healing,
protection, psychic dreams (place bay leaf under pillow at
night), psychic powers, clairvoyance, good wishes, fame or glory
and change. Bay leaves were worn as amulets to ward off
negativity. Wishes can be written on bay leaves and then burned
to make them come true.
Known as the "plant's physician"; grow near ailing
plants to perk them up. Make into an antifungal spray
for tree diseases. Spray infusion on seedlings to
prevent "damping off disease" and on compost to activate
decomposition. Boil the flower for a yellow-brown dye.
Wash blond hair with infusion for lightening. Use in
potpourri and herb pillows.
antifungal, antimicrobial, antispasmodic,
anti-inflammatory. Relieves gas, heartburn and colic.
Applied externally in teabags to heal burns and rest
eyes. Ointment is used for eczema, and genital and anal
irritation. Mouthwash heals mouth inflammation.
Inhalation of steam is good for phlegm and hay fever.
May get an allergic reaction from some people. The Sun
is also associated with the innocence of children, and
Chamomile is the safest possible herb for them, easing
the pain of colic when a mild tea is mixed with mother's
milk and giving them rest without the aid of allopathic
Spiritual Use: Brings
energy, wisdom, drives away nightmares, helps with past life
knowledge, is relaxing and promotes peacefulness. Did you
know that the more that chamomile is trodden upon in your
garden, the more it spreads? It is good for meditation and
is a symbol of the sun. Chamomile is thought to be a garden
tonic to the plants growing around it.
Traditional Magical Use:
A solar plant, associated with the sun and the god
Baldur. It is used to attract money, and a handwash is
used by gamblers. Use in sleep incenses (and tea!);
makes the best sleep potion. Removes curses and hexes
when sprinkled around the property. Used magically, it
can be a powerful antidepressant.
Shamanic Magical Use:
This is the plant of Asgard, the land of the Aesir. Its
English name Maythen was originally pronounced Maegthen, as can be seen from the Lacnunga poem, and maeg
is cognate to mage, meaning powerful. Chamomile is a solar plant, and
it harnesses the power of the Sun. As the plant of
golden Asgard, it can be burned in recels or scattered
as a way to send your words straight to the Aesir and
have them hear you. It burns
away the darkness and the creeping negativity, as its
medicinal nature as an antifungal demonstrates.
In Ancient Greece, fennel was
the symbol of success. In medieval England, fennel was thought to
make the fat thin and the blind to see.
Medicinal Use: Soothes
digestion, especially flatulence, constipation, and
indigestion. Promotes milk production in lactating woman
and animals. The herbalist Nicholas Culpeper relates a
common use of it, its seed or leaves boiled in barley
water and then drunk by nursing mothers to increase
their milk and its quality for the infant. Used in China
for food poisoning. Infusion is used for gum disease,
loose teeth, laryngitis, and sore throats. Chew to
relieve hunger pangs. Fennel has a mild stimulant
effect. Recently found to reduce the toxic effects of
alcohol on the system. Fennel seed, bruised and boiled
in water, and then added to syrup and soda water will
relieve flatulence in infants.
Romans believed that serpents sucked the juice of the
plant to improve their eyesight after shedding their
skins. Greeks used it to magically lose weight and grow
thin. Grown around the house or hung in doors and
windows, it is protective. Carried, it wards off ticks
and biting bugs. Burn for purification and healing
mixtures. In Lacnunga, Fennel is used in charms against
all manner of ill-meaning entities, from elves to
sorcerers, and even against insanity.
Take a fresh sprig of fennel and dip it into water
and sprinkle that water around your home for
This is the herb of Svartalfheim and Nidavellir.
Together with Sweet Cicely, it is used to protect
against elf-shot, and to treat cases of that remedy.
Also like Sweet Cicely, Fennel aids in the Gift of
Sight, but it gives the ability to see the darknesses in
life - the hidden anger and pain, the inner rot, the
creeping deaths. This makes it useful in shamanic
client-work when one must discern hard truths about
someone's behaviour, or find hidden disease or poisoning.
Drink in tea or smoke it or eat the seeds (preferably
seven of them).
Fennel helps you to
spiritually understand, to open your heart, promotes stability.
It was beloved in most ancient societies that had it, to the
extent that the builders of the Pyramids were paid partially in
garlic, and at one point went on strike to get more (according
to graffiti inside the Pyramids, left by the workers).
Eases tension, eases colds, and improves circulation. Can be
used to disinfect wounds and soothe rheumatic pain and any
common pain. Shrinks warts, relieves pain from teeth and
earaches. Good for high and low blood pressure and removing
parasites and infections. To ease the pain of aching joints, a
toothache or an earache., place a crushed raw bulb of garlic on
a piece of gauze and place over the area of pain. For joints,
try using garlic paste.
Garlic is one of the few "herbs" whose powers have survived into
modern superstition, where it gives protection against vampires.
The Greeks attributed it to Hecate, the primary goddess of
magic. It is also sacred to the Great Mother, Cybele. Its use
actually goes back even further to the Sumerians. Besides its
strong psychic protection, it also protects health when eaten
ecstasy - that's what you feel when you inhale the fragrance of
lavender! Lavender connects with God awareness, for meditation, to
help with fears of aging, for fears in general, acceptance, helps
facilitate altered states of consciousness. Wear lavender to draw
love. It is a symbol of truth and parity. Pure joy.
Has strong antiseptic qualities. Mild infusions
make a good sedative, headache treatment, and digestive aid, a
great antibiotic, antidepressant, sedative and detoxifier Used
in oil or tincture form to heal cuts, burns or scalds, bites. an
excellent aromatic, usually mixing well with other floral
scents. An ingredient in the Purification bath sachet, also used
in purification incenses.
Lavender is well regarded for it's
skin healing properties as well. It's effectiveness in treating
burns was first discovered by French biochemist René Gattefossé
when he cooled his hand in a handy vat of lavender after burning
it in a lab accident.
To induce sleep, long life, peace, wishes,
protection, love, purification, it is thrown onto the Midsummer
fires by Witches as a sacrifice to the ancient gods.
In Spain and Portugal it is
used for strewing the floors of churches and houses on festive
occasions, or to make bonfires on St. Johns Day, when evil
spirits are supposed to be abroad. Growing lavender in your
garden is said to bring good luck. Traditionally fragrant
bundles of lavender were placed in the hands of women during
childbirth to bring courage and strength.
Leaf tea diuretic, induces sweating. Regulates erratic
menstruation, brings on delayed periods, expels
afterbirth, helps with menopausal symptoms. Promotes
appetite and bile production, tonic for digestion. Tonic
for nerves; mild sedative. Used for bronchitis, colds,
colic, kidney ailments, fevers. Bath additive for
rheumatism and tired legs. Juice relieves itching of
poison oak. Disinfectant and antiseptic. Used for
Traditional Magical Use:
In the Middle Ages, mugwort was connected with
St. John the Baptist, who was said to have worn
a belt of the herb during his time in the
wilderness. St. John's Herb, as the plant became
known, had the power to drive out demons, and
sprays of the herbs were worn around the head on
St. John's Eve as a protection against
possession by evil forces. In China, bunches of
mugwort were hung in the home during the Dragon
Festival to keep away evil spirits. The Ainus of
Japan burn bunches to exorcise spirits of
disease, who are thought to hatethe odor.
Planted along roadsides by the Romans, who put
sprigs in their shoes to prevent aching feet on
long journeys. Carry to ward against wild
beasts, poison, and stroke. Prevents elves and
other evil things from entering houses. Said to
cure madness and aid in astral projection.
stuffed with mugwort and slept upon will produce
prophetic dreams. Mugwort is burned during
scrying rituals, and a mugwort-and-honey
infusion is drunk before divination. The
infusion is also used to wash crystal balls and
magic mirrors, and mugwort leaves are placed
around the base of the ball, or beneath it, to
aid in psychic workings. Pick just before
sunrise on the waxing moon, preferably from a
plant that leans north. A Roman invocation to be
used when picking mugwort is:
Tollam te artemisia, ne lassus
sim in via.
Shamanic Magical Use:
This is the plant of Midgard, burned at the
start of a ritual. One starts and ends with
Mugwort, as one starts and ends with Midgard.
Its shamanic purpose is purification. We tend to
think of purification, in these days of advanced
medical antisepsis, as being sterile. To us,
"pure" has come to mean "without life". When we
use something whose basic power is purification,
we expect, on some level, for it to clean
everything and leave it a blank slate. However,
that's not what magical purification actually
Mugwort is the
herb that is most often burned as recels,
the Old English word for incense; pronounced ray-kels. The act of burning it is referred
to as recaning, which can be pronounced
various ways, but the most graceful seems to be
reek-en-ing; the verb recan is
cognate to our work "reek". Celtic-tradition
people use the term saining. It's an
alternative to the Native American-derived term
"smudging", and it can be bound in lashed
bundles and burned in the same way as white
sagebrush. It also has a clearing effect on the
mind, and a heightening of the extra senses, so
it is a good thing to start any working that is
going to involve an altered or trance state at
Fresh parsley leaves in tea form are a treatment for
cramps, while dried root decoctions eases urinary
infections and arthritis. Externally, crushed leaves
relieve insect bites, and may be applied in poultice
form to sprains. Both parsley leaf and root can
be used in teas as a diuretic to rid the body of excess
water. This may explain its folklore reputation for
helping gout and rheumatism. Parsley does inhibit the
histamines that trigger allergies so may help treat
sinus infection and congestion.
Sacred to Persephone, parsley was used in the victory
wreaths of the Isthmian games by the Greeks. Some also
attribute it to Aphrodite and Venus, and with Mother
goddesses. Parsley was thought to come from from the
blood of Archemorus, a servant of Death.
Used in magic for purification and protection.
Use: Rub fresh juice
on nettle stings and insect bites. Roots and
leaves help urinary tract, kidneys, and bladder.
Heals gastrointestinal ulcers. Used in ointment
for hemorrhoids. Use in external wash for sores,
boils, inflammations, and ringworm infestations.
Decoction used for thrush in children. Seeds are
edible and can be ground into flour, their
mucilage lowers cholesterol. Confirmed
antimicrobial; stimulates healing processes.
Traditional Magical Use:
Bind with red wool to the head to cure
headaches. Like mugwort, place in shoes to cure
weariness on long trips. Hang it in your car to
prevent evil from entering. Carrying the root
protects from snakebite. Said to cause
regeneration - Pliny claimed that if several
pieces of flesh are boiled in a pot with
plantain, it will join them again.
Shamanic Magical Use:
This is the plant of Helheim, the land of the
Dead. Its shamanic uses are many and varied and
rather subtle. First, it can create a certain
amount of invisibility for a short period of
time. Notice how the weedy plantain manages to
make itself so inconspicuous? That's a power
that you can harness, especially if you are
journeying or pathwalking. Second, it can be
used in recels to speak to the ancestors, or to
find your way to the Helvegr. Its name "waybread"
echoes this usage - waybread will help you find
Rosemary is a common
European Herb, used for
remembrance, for mental agility, purification and
It was placed on the graves of
Promotes healing of wounds, acts as an antiseptic, and
can be a mild stimulant. Good in teas for treating flu,
stress, and headaches or body aches. Mental and physical
booster. Used for treating muscular sprains, arthritis,
rheumatism, depression, fatigue, memory loss, migraine
headaches, coughs, flu and diabetes. Excellent remedy
for acne or cellulite. Oil of rosemary is excellent in
hair conditioners, and the flowers of this herb may be
added to lotion recipes to improve the complexion
It is used as a smudge or dried and sprinkled on coal to
release the smoke to purify an area. to improve memory,
sleep, purification, youth, love, power, healing, and
Place a sprig under your
pillow for sleep and healing.
Rosemary has a long herbal
tradition as a herb that improves concentration and
memory, Greek students would braid Rosemary into their
hair to help them with their exams. Modern science
attributes much of rosemary's action on the central
nervous system to it's potent antioxidant, rosmarinic
Sage is a shrubby perennial herb of the mint family
native to the Mediterranean. There are over 500
varieties of sage, and most are medicinally useful. They
grow throughout the tropical and temperate zones and
many of them have medicinal and culinary value.
Medicinal Use: The colonists also considered sage a
valuable remedy for colds and fevers in the harsh New
England winters. Sage has excellent antibacterial and
astringent properties, which explains it popular use in
gargles for sore throats, gingivitis and sore gums. A
strong sage tea or tincture diluted with water can be
used. Sage is an excellent natural disinfectant and
deodorizer, drying perspiration and helping to eliminate
body odor. Extracts of sage are used in personal skin
care for its capacity to heal the skin as well. Chinese
medicine uses red sage, Salvia miltiorrhiza,
combined with dan-gui (dong quai), to regulate menstrual
flow. Both clinical studies and traditional wisdom agree
that sage (Salvia officinalis) or Spanish sage (S.
lavandulifolia) has positive effects on memory and
concentration in both older people with cognitive
problems and younger people with AD. (1)
Shamaic Use: Sage is for health, longevity, wisdom,
esteem, wishes, happy home and safety for children.
Sage's Latin name comes from the word salvere
which means to be healthy. Sage was a sacred ceremonial
herb of the Romans and was associated with immortality,
and was interestingly said to increase mental capacity.
The Greek Theophrastus classified sage as a "coronary
herbe", because it flushed disease from the body, easing
any undue strain on the heart. Salvia divinorum also known as
'Diviner's Sage', 'Sage of the Seers', or simply by the genus name,
Salvia, is known as the most psychoactive of the salvias.
Also called 'All Heal'. Common throughout Europe
Use: The root of V. officinalis is
intended when Valerian is mentioned. Valerian is a
powerful nervine, stimulant, carminative and antispasmodic. It has a remarkable influence
on the cerebro-spinal system, and is used as a sedative to the
higher nerve centres in conditions of nervous unrest, St. Vitus's
dance, hypochrondriasis, neuralgic pains and the like.
The drug allays pain and
promotes sleep. It is of especial use and benefit to those suffering
from nervous overstrain, as it possesses none of the after-effects
produced by narcotics. During the recent War, when
air-raids were a serious strain on the overwrought nerves of
civilian men and women, Valerian, prescribed with other simple
ingredients, taken in a single dose, or repeated according to the
need, proved wonderfully efficacious, preventing or minimizing
serious results. Though in ordinary doses, it
exerts an influence quieting and soothing in its nature upon the
brain and nervous system, large doses, too often repeated, have a
tendency to produce pain in the head, heaviness and stupor.
It is commonly administered as
Tinctura Valerianae Ammoniata, and often in association with
the alkali bromides, and is sometimes given in combination with
quinine, the tonic powers of which it appreciably increases. Oil of Valerian is employed to
a considerable extent on the Continent as a popular remedy for
cholera, in the form of cholera drops, and also to a certain extent
in soap perfumery.
Ettmuller writes of its virtues
in strengthening the eyesight, especially when this is weakened by
want of energy in the optic nerve. The juice of the fresh root,
under the name of Energetene of Valerian, has of late been
recommended as more certain in its effects, and of value as a
narcotic in insomnia, and as an anti-convulsant in epilepsy. Having
also some slight influence upon the circulation, slowing the heart
and increasing its force, it has been used in the treatment of
cardiac palpitations. Valerian was first brought to
notice as a specific for epilepsy by Fabius Calumna in 1592, he
having cured himself of the disease with it.
Culpepper (1649) joins with many old
writers to recommend the use both of herb and root, and praises
the herb for its longevity and many comforting virtues,
reminding us that it is 'under the influence of Mercury, and
therefore hath a warming faculty.'
In the Middle Ages, the root was used not
only as a medicine but also as a spice, and even as a perfume. It
was the custom to lay the roots among clothes as a perfume (vide
Turner, Herbal, 1568, Pt. III, p. 56), just as some of the
Himalayan Valerians are still used in the East, especially V.
Jatamansi, the Nard of the Ancients, believed to be the
Spikenard referred to in the Scriptures. It is still much used in
ointments. Its odour is not so unpleasant as that of our native
Valerians, and this and other species of Valerian are used by
Asiatic nations in the manufacture of precious scents. Several
aromatic roots were known to the Ancients under the name of Nardus, distinguished according to their origin or place of
growth by the names of Nardus indica, N. celtica, N. montana, etc., and supposed to have been derived from
different valerianaceous plants. Thus the N. indica is
referred to V. Jatamansi (Roxb.), of Bengal, the N.
celtica to V. celtica (Linn.), inhabiting the Alps and
the N. montana to V. tuberosa, which grows in the
mountains of the south of Europe.
General: Chile and Peru. Cultivated in European gardens.
Use: Febrifuge, sedative. The uses of Lemon Verbena
are similar to those of mint, orange flowers, or Melissa, as a
stomachic and antispasmodic in dyspepsia, indigestion and
flatulence, stimulating skin and stomach. The
leaves, which have been suggested to replace tea, will retain their
odour for years and are used in perfumery. They should be gathered
at flowering time.
Verbena or Vervain has long been associated with
divine and other
supernatural forces. It was called "tears of
Ancient Egypt, and later on "Juno's
Ancient Greece, it was dedicated to
Eos Erigineia. In the early
Christian era, folk legend stated that
Common Vervain (V. officinalis) was used to staunch
wounds after his removal from the
cross. It was consequently called "Holy Herb" or (e.g. in
"Devil's bane". Other European examples of sacred herbs include
named for containing tiger bone, an ingredient in traditional
Chinese medicine dating back 1,500 years to treat pain, inflammation
and to strengthen muscle. Tiger Balm now consists purely of
names - 'Milfoil', 'Old Man's Pepper', 'Nosebleed'.
The chemical makeup of yarrow is complex, and it contains
many active medicinal compounds in addition to the tannins
and volatile oil azulene. These compounds are
anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and help relax blood
vessels. It's feathery leaves making an ideal astringent
swab to encourage clotting. Yarrow skin washes and leaf
poultices can staunch bleeding and help to disinfect cuts
and scrapes; taken as a tea it can help slow heavy menstrual
bleeding as well. Note: Avoid in pregnancy, can cause
allergic skin reactions in sensitive people who suffer from
Chiron, the centaur, who taught its virtues to Achilles that
he might make an ointment to heal his Myrmidons wounded in
the siege of Troy, named the plant for this favorite pupil,
giving his own to the beautiful Blue Cornflower (Centaurea
Cyanus). Yarrow stalks are still used by the Chinese for
casting I Ching predictions.
Inspires courage, psychic abilities and the tea drunk prior
to divination will enhance one's powers of perception
divination, often used as a component in incantations.