Sacred, healing and ceremonial herbs used during biblical times, and how
to create a Biblical Garden Design.
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Sacred Herbs and the
Nine Herbs Charm
Herbs were considered sacred in
European pagan beliefs and throughout the Medieval period. Herbs,
healing and magic were almost inseparable throughout ancient history.
Herbs have been used in religious ceremonies and practices since the
beginning of time. Their uses include incense, protection, cleansing,
ritual, healing, purification, smudging, and as a route to psychic
The best known example
of a sacred herb is the mistletoe. The European mistletoe, Viscum
album, figured prominently in Greek mythology, and is believed to be
The Golden Bough of Aeneas, ancestor of the Romans. The Norse god Baldr
was killed with mistletoe.
Mistletoe bears fruit
at the time of the Winter Solstice, the birth of the new year, and may
have been used in solstitial rites in Druidic Britain as a symbol of
immortality. In Celtic mythology and in druid rituals, it was considered
a remedy for barrenness in animals and an antidote to poison, although
the fruits of many mistletoes are actually poisonous if ingested as they
Many herbs have been used in
religious ceremonies and practices since the beginning of time. Their
uses include incense, protection, cleansing, ritual, healing,
purification, smudging, and as a gateway to visions and pre-cognition.
In Ancient Egypt, chamomile, verbena
(vervain), the blue lotus, cornflower, hyssop, garlic, roses,
frankincense, and myrrh were often used in magic and in religious
observances. The Babylonians considered the opium poppy, thyme, mustard,
coriander, cinnamon, and garlic as sacred. They also used saffron and
white sage in certain religious ceremonies, and cannabis was widely
grown and used.
Early Christians and followers of
Judaism, as well as Buddhists, considered tulsi herb sacred.
Christians called it Holy Basil.
Christians considered rosemary,
rue, sage, frankincense, myrrh, vervain (verbena), angelica, and St.
John’s Wort sacred. Some of those herbs are still in use in
"Nine Herbs Charm" is
an old English charm recorded in the tenth-century Anglo-Saxon medical
compilation known as Lacnunga, which survives as a manuscript in
London at the British Library.
The charm involves the
preparation of nine sacred plants. The numbers nine and three,
significant in German paganism and later German folklore, are mentioned
frequently within the charm. The poem contains references to
Christian and English Pagan elements, including a mention of the major
Germanic god, Woden.
Scholars have proposed various
translations for the plant names:
-Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
-Lamb's cress (Cardamine hirsuta)
- Betony (Stachys officinalis)
-Mayweed (Matricaria), a genus which includes German
chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
-identified by some as thyme, and by others as chervil (Anthriscus
-Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
At the end of the charm, prose
instructions are given to take the above-mentioned plants, crush them to
dust, and mix them with old soap and apple residue. Further instructions
are given to make a paste from water and ashes, boil fennel into the
paste, bathe it with beaten egg – both before and after the
prepared salve is applied.
Further, the charm directs the
healer/s to sing the charm three times over each of the herbs, as well
as the apple before they are prepared.
Ancient Celts had seven
sacred herbs . Dandelion, comfrey, mugwort, burdock, mistletoe, nettle,
and the Guelder rose.
The Druids had nine
sacred herbs. The nine that are usually listed are henbane, mistletoe,
vervain (verbena), clover, wolfbane (aconite), primrose, mint, mugwort,
Smudging and The
Nine Sacred Herbs
Historic Indian traditions also used many
plants and herbs as remedies or in spiritual celebrations, creating a
connection with spirits and the afterlife. Some of these plants and
herbs used in spiritual rituals and smudging included Sage, Bear Berry,
Red Cedar, Sweet Grass, Tobacco - four
sacred herbs for the four directions; sweet grass for the
north, cedar for the south, tobacco for the east, and sage for the
View our page
about how to create a Native
American Medicine Wheel Garden, and read about the use of sacred
involving the burning of sacred herbs like white sage or resins, is
a ceremony practiced by some Indigenous peoples of the Americas.
While it bears some resemblance to other ceremonies and rituals
involving smoke from other world cultures for spiritual cleansing or
blessing, the purposes and particulars of the ceremonies, and the
substances used, can vary widely between tribes, bands and nations,
and between different world cultures.
When specific herbs
are burned ceremonially, this may or may not be called
"smudging", depending on the culture. Traditionally, when
gathering herbs for ceremonial use, care is taken to determine the
time of day, month, or year when the herbs should be collected,
e.g., at dawn or evening, at certain phases of the moon, or
according to yearly cycles.
In some First
Nations and Native American ceremonies, certain herbs are
traditionally used to purify or bless people and places. Some
cultures use the smoke of burning red cedar as part of their
particular purification and healing ceremonies. Sometimes this is
done in hospitals to "cleanse and repel evil influence."
It is noteworthy that the same herbs that are burned by one
culture, may be taboo to burn in another, or they may be used for a
completely different purpose.
Other than the smudging herbs, nine herbs were used over and over
again in tribal religious ceremonies. Mugwort, plantain, nettle,
fennel, watercress, chamomile, viper’s bugloss, sweet cicely, and
sumac. Some tribes used the following herbs and included pollen:
corn pollen, mugwort, plantain, yerba santa, peyote, bear medicine
(osha root), roses (petals and hips), juniper berries, mullein and
is a mixture of herbs sacred to the individual using the herbs.
The name means "mixed by hand". Each tribe, family and
group made their own. Most blends contained barberry, sumac, red
osier dogwood, willow bark, arrowroot, laurel, and/or mullein. The
blend recipe is kept secret. It was smudged, smoked, or given as
gifts and offerings.
Historic Indian traditions also used
many plants and herbs as remedies or in spiritual celebrations,
creating a connection with spirits and the afterlife. Some of these
plants and herbs used in spiritual rituals included Sage, Bear
Berry, Red Cedar, Sweet Grass, Tobacco, and many others.
Using psychoactive plants, shamans
had the power to enter trances, combat evil spirits and disease,
communicate with ancestors, prevent famine, and control weather
(rain dances). Within the plant-induced visions and trances, the
shaman was able to comprehend the spirit world and the real world
and maintain balance between the two. Prayers were offered to the
spirits to whom these holy plants belonged. For some, the plant
itself was god or provided a way to god.
Psychoactive plants, particularly
those that alter perception, were and continue to be considered
sacred in many societies. They are often referred to as plants of
the gods, plant teachers, or magical and healing plants. These
plants are sacred because they allow the living to contact and
commune with gods (entheogens) or drive out evil spirits. Many
cultures believe these plants to be sacred because of the spirits
that dwell within the plants themselves. Religious and spiritual
leaders use these plants, their compounds and mixtures to bring
balance to the physical and spiritual world, heal mind and body, and
provide for spiritual awakening.
American Prayers to Great Spirit
and Mother Earth-->
Magical Uses for
Frequently Used in Magic Potions, Charms Ceremonies and Spells
This is folklore information on
herbs believed to have magical properties and their historical and
This info is not advice for consumption. Many
herbs and plants are toxic when
ingested by novices, and only safe when used in cememonies, charms and
(1721) stated that "Vervain and Dill will hinder witches from
Verbena or Vervain has
long been associated with divine forces. It was called "tears of
Isis" in ancient Egypt, and later on "Juno's tears". In
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 Jesus' wounds after his removal from the cross. It was
consequently called "Holy Herb" "Devil's bane".
The ancient Saxons gathered
nine herbs into a charm that was used to ward off evil and promote
positive energy. The charm was followed by early Christian and pagans
during the same time, although neither acknowledged the other. The nine
sacred herbs in the charm or amulet were fennel, thyme, crabapple, nettle,
mugwort, lamb’s cress, betony, plantain, and chamomile. Neem (seeds and
oil) and vervain (verbena) and were also considered holy.
Mandrake - In The
History and Practice of Magic 1870, by
Jean-Baptiste Pitois, magic herbs are employed in the preparation of
charms and amulets using mandrake herb (nightshade family), considered to
be a necessary ingredient in an anti-witch charm:
"Find a root of
the plant called bryony. Take it out of the ground on a Monday (the day of
the moon), a little time after the vernal equinox. Cut off the ends of the
root and bury it at night in some country churchyard in a dead man's
grave. For thirty days water it with cow's milk in which three bats have
been drowned. When the thirty-first day arrives, take out the root in the
middle of the night and dry it in an oven heated with branches of verbena;
then wrap it up in a piece of a dead man's winding-sheet and carry it with
Mandrake is used in many magic
potions. Mandrake was often made into amulets, which were believed to
bring good fortune and cure sterility. Legend and folklore have it that
people who pull up this root will be condemned to hell, and the mandrake
root would scream and cry as it was pulled from the ground, killing anyone
who heard it.
In Medieval times, mandrake was
considered a key ingredient in a multitude of witches' flying ointment
recipes Some believed that witches applied these ointments or
ingested these potions to help them fly to gatherings with other witches,
or to meet with the Devil.
Sage - 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 said to increase mental capacity. Salvia
divinorum also known as 'Diviner's Sage', 'Sage of the Seers', or
simply by the name, Salvia.
Angelica - Grow
in the garden as a protection from spirits. Burn the dried leaves in
- Sleep on anise seeds to ensure sleep free from nightmares; fresh anise
leaves protects the magic circle and ward off evil.
- 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 passing on.
- 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.
(marigolds) - Called "Marygold" in honor of the Virgin Mary. Can
bring about prophetic dreams when tucked under your pillow. Brings the
ability to see fairies and for psychic ability. Calendula will help in
making dreams come true, bringing on feelings of joy and remembrance.
Calendula, called "Marygold" or "Sunbride" in the
Middle Ages, was sacredand was used for love magic.
- Brings energy, wisdom, drives away nightmares, helps with past life
knowledge, is relaxing and promotes peacefulness. The more that chamomile
is stepped 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.
- Greeks used it to magically grow thin. Grown around the house or hung in
doors and windows, it is protective against malevolent spirits. Burn
for purification. Fennel is used in charms against all manner of
destructive entities, from elves to sorcerers, bad fairies and elves, and
even against insanity. Take a fresh sprig of fennel and dip it into water
and sprinkle that water around your home for protection.
Yarrow - Inspires
courage, psychic abilities and the tea drunk prior to divination will
enhance one's powers of perception divination, often used as a component
- Garlic is one of the few herbs whose powers have survived and is said to
give protection against vampires. It is also sacred to the Great
Mother, Cybele. Besides its strong psychic protection, it also protects
health when eaten regularly.
- 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
tossing on the floors of churches and houses on festive occasions, or to
make bonfires on St. Johns Day, when evil spirits are supposed to be
aactive and in the vicinity. Growing lavender in your garden is said to
bring good luck. Fragrant bundles of lavender were placed in the hands of
women during childbirth to bring courage and strength.
Balm - Lemon Balm is used to help in past life regression, and to fulfill
and balance your karma, and is known for it's for psychic properties. A
relaxant to release tension and achieve spiritual growth. Raises your
spirits, speeds healing.
- Used for protection, love, healing, given to a grieving person to bring
them happiness. Marjoram is incorporated into charms and spells to draw
love and fertility. It is rumoured to help keep a married couple happily
- It is used as a smudge or dried and sprinkled on coal to release the
smoke to purify an area, to improve memory, help you sleep. 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 acid.
- Clairvoyance, consecration, divination, energy, good luck, love, money,
passion, peace, prosperity, protection, psychic development, success
contacting other planes, grieving, magic, meditation, Midsummer, passion,
release, renewal, rituals for the dead, Summer rituals, wishing Lore:
Thyme has strong ties to faery lore.
The connection between
the celestial skies and the growth cycles of plants and vegetation has
long been understood and celebrated through planting and harvesting
An association with
astrology and herbs can be traced back through the writings of the Greeks,
such as the herbalists Hippocrates, Galen, and Avicen. Paracelsus declared
that "a Physician should be pre-destinated to the cure of his
patient, and the horoscope should be inspected, the plants gathered at the
critical moment." Nicholas Culpeper, author of "Culpeper's
Complete Herbal " (1653), remains the most well-known of the
pages to learn how to design and grow Celestial
and Zodiac Garden Themes
Medicinal Herbs and
listing of herbs and their ruling planets was extracted from: 'Culpeper's
Complete Herbal', (1653).
Peppermint, Rose, Thyme, Burdock, Catnip, Colt's Foot, Lady's
Mantle, Motherwort, Mugwort, Penny Royal, Raspberry, Yarrow, Elder,
Feverfew, Mallow, Tansy, Plantain.
Aloe, Basil, black Pepper, Pine, Blessed Thistle, hops, Nettle,
Cayenne Pepper, Garlic, Self-Heal, Hawthorn, Broom, Wormwood,
Barberry, Tarragon, All-Heal, Nettle.
Chamomile, Celery, Juniper, Rosemary, Angelica, Lovage, Rue, St.
johns Wort, Bay Laurel, Eyebright, Butterbur, Mistletoe
Clary Sage, White Willow, Chickweed, Cleavers
Jasmine, Lemon Balm, Sage, Borage, Chervil, Dandelion, Hyssop,
Meadowsweet, Bilberry, Agrimony, Costmary, Melissa.
Caraway, Dill, Feenel, Lavender, Marjoram, Myrtle, Oregano,
Liquorice, Parsley, Valerian, Horehound, Flax, Carrot, Sweet