Once upon a time I a spoke to a gardening group, about growing herbs. The talk ended a little earlier that usual, I asked if they would like me to cast a spell for them. I had taken along my black candlesticks, wooden bowl and of course the herbs were there. All went well until I got to the part of actually reciting the "spell" a number of folk got up and left – I had really scared them. One brave soul asked if I could make him win the lottery! Of course not – it is only fun.
So I thought it might be fun to look at some of the beliefs associated with herbs (please do not drop the "h" like the Americans do).
Herb magic is the use of herbs to cause needed change. For maximum effect, the herbs chosen for a spell should possess vibrations that match your need. Cedar is fine for attracting money, but would not help in say a fertility spell.
Onions are used for protection, exorcism, healing, money and prophetic dreams. According to some ancient authorities, the onion was worshipped in some cities in ancient Egypt, and was sometimes used whilst taking oaths as we use the bible today. For healing, rub the cut edge of an onion against the afflicted part of the body, visualizing the disease going into the onion. As a child I remember my grandmother making a poultice of onions to put against a sore ear, and if it was a really bad earache, she placed the middle part of a heated onion, right inside my ear.
You can cure warts by rubbing them with onion. I am sure that it works better if you do it by the light of the moon at mid-night! Never throw onionskins and peelings on the ground unless you want to throw away your prosperity.
If you are a gardener, pour apple cider onto freshly turned earth to give it life just before planting. Also pour libations on roots just before planting trees, and bury thirteen leaves of the apple tree after harvest to ensure a good crop of apples next year.
Rub lettuce leaves on your forehead if you have trouble falling asleep. It is better for you than sleeping pills. If you grow lettuce in the garden it is protective, but if you grow too many, sterility will result in the household. Don’t tell the teenagers this one. If you wish to prevent temptations of the flesh, eat lettuce. Lettuce also prevents seasickness – so have a big salad before you set sail on a cruise (eat it during too).
Dill placed in the cradle will protect the children, carry it in your pocket in sachets. Added to the bath, it makes the bather irresistible and dill stimulates lust if eaten or smelled (is this why dill pickles are so popular?)
Garlic was once worn to guard against the plague. Roman soldiers ate it to give them courage, When evil spirits are about (illness) bite into garlic to send them away. Or sprinkle powdered garlic on the floor. Brides carried garlic in a pocket for good luck and to keep evil far from her on her big day. Garlic induces lust. Do not forget that poor Dracula cannot be anywhere near garlic.
When eaten parsley provokes lust and promotes fertility, but if you are in love don’t cut parsley you will cut your love as well. Though the plant has associations with death and is often regarded as evil, the Romans tucked a sprig of parsley into their togas every morning for protection (didn’t do Julius much good). It was also placed on every plate of food to protect the food from contamination. Parsley is used in purification baths, and to stop all misfortune. A wreath of parsley worn on the head prevents or delays inebriation (I suppose that is because everyone is so busy laughing at you – you do not have time to drink?)
Last of all, the beautiful herb rosemary is used for smudging a home. It is one of the oldest incense. Placed under your pillow it drives away bad dreams and nightmares. Placed under the bed keeps all danger away. Placed on doorposts and hung from porches keeps thieves and illness away from the house. A chaplet of rosemary (worn) aids the memory; whilst if you smell the woody part often it preserves youthfulness. Adding Rosemary to your bathwater it will ensure that your youthfullness will remain.
Rosemary has long been use in love incenses and other mixtures; love poppets are stuffed with rosemary. To take advantage of its curative vibrations, rosemary infusion is used to wash the hands before healing work, and the leaves mixed with juniper berries are burned in sick rooms to promote healing Rosemary is grown to attract elves and fairies. Rosemary is generally used as a substitute for frankincense. It is also wonderful in food.
I hope that this little look at magical herbs has given you some pleasure, I find the whole subject fascinating and have a lot of books about witches, fairies healing herbs etc. I suppose I am reluctant to "grow up".
Beryl Harris is a Master Gardener. To have your garden questions answered call our hotline 705-741-4905 or our website www.peterboroughmg.ca