Do you know what smudging is?
Smudge sticks are tightly bound bundles of herbs (often sage), that are slowly burned as a way to purify and cleanse your house or yourself. Originally, the roots of or smudging come from North American Native purification ceremonies, but can be used by anyone to clear negative energy and as an added bonus – makes your rooms smell nice.
- Step 1. Get some herbs! If you have a garden, chances are good that you have enough ingredients to make at least one smudge stick. Typically sage is used but there’s also Cedar, Sweetgrass, Mugwort, Lavender and so much more out there to try! You can experiment by mixing different combinations and seeing which smells the best to you.
- Step 2. Clip herbs into similarly sized lengths so they can burn at the same rate. The bigger the better, make ‘em nice and fat if you can. They burn slower and last longer. Wrap a string around the base of the herbs, make sure the string is thick enough and won’t break easily.
- Step 3. Begin to wrap the string tightly around the herbs, going on an upwards angle. Make sure it’s as tight as possible and progresses upwards. Wrap it around twice in the same spot if need be. Once you get to the top, wrap it towards the bottom in a criss cross pattern. Wrap it as much as you see fit, then tie it at the bottom. Cut the string, and there you go!
- Step 4. Set the bundles aside somewhere dry and dark where there is good air circulation. You can hang them using string or thin wires; you can even attach it to a fan for quick drying
Or you can just lay them out flat to dry, but make sure the air circulation gets underneath the bundle as well – it if doesn’t completely dry out, it will be hard to light.
And just like that, you have a magical wand of purity!
You can walk around your home, waving it around to gets lots of smoke.
Traditionally feathers were used to garner more smoke in sacred ceremonies.
The more you move it, the more smoke is released. Happy smudging!
Also Known As
The name mullein probably comes from the Latin word mollis, meaning soft, referring to the plant’s woolly stem and leaves. The name also might relate to the Latin malandrium, meaning malanders, a cattle disease for which mullein was used as a remedy.
A couple of folk names for mullein have more intriguing associations. “Candlewick plant” refers to the old practice of using the dried down of mullein leaves and stems to make lamp wicks. Some say mullein stems once were dipped in tallow to make torches either used by witches or used to repel them, hence the name “hag taper.” The custom of using mullein for torches dates back at least to Roman times.
“Jacob’s staff,” “Jupiter’s staff” and “Aaron’s rod” all have been used as names for the tall flower stalks. The plant’s soft leaves also are known commonly as “bunny’s ears” and “flannel leaf.
Traditional and Modern Uses
Mullein tea is a traditional treatment for respiratory problems, such as chest colds, bronchitis and asthma. Mullein leaf tea is slightly bitter; a tea of the flowers is sweeter. Both the leaves and flowers contain mucilage, which is soothing to irritated membranes, and saponins, which make coughs more productive. Research has shown that the herb has strong anti-inflammatory activity, and lab studies suggest that mullein flower infusions have antiviral properties, as well.
Many of mullein’s traditional medicinal uses were similar throughout the Old and New World, but whether European settlers learned to use the herb from Native Americans or vice versa is open to debate. Besides using mullein leaf and flower teas to treat respiratory problems, some Native Americans also used the plant’s roots. The Creek Indians drank a decoction of the roots for coughs; other tribes smoked the roots or dried leaves to treat asthma.
Topical applications were equally varied. The Cherokee rubbed mullein leaves in their armpits to treat “prickly rash.” Leaf poultices were used to treat bruises, tumors, rheumatic pains and hemorrhoids. Mullein flower oil (made by steeping the flowers in warm olive oil) also has been used for treating hemorrhoids, as well as earaches.
Mullein leaves have been used in cosmetic preparations to soften skin. “Quaker rouge” refers to the practice of reddening cheeks by rubbing them with a mullein leaf. And a yellow dye extracted from the flowers has been used since Roman times as a hair rinse as well as to dye cloth.
Like many other herbs, mullein is not entirely benign. Some people find the plant’s hairs irritating to skin and mucous membranes. It’s a good idea to see how you react to a small amount of mullein before consuming it or smearing it on your body. And always strain the tea through fine-weave cloth or a coffee filter to remove any stray hairs.
From Mountain Rose Herbs
Verbascum densiflorum Bertol.
Plant Family: Scrophulariaceae
Mullein is towering biennial plant with a single stalk up to 6-1/2 feet (2 meters) bearing whorls of leaves and topped with a spike of 5-part yellow flowers. The flowers coat the mouth with a honey-like scent and a sweet taste. The name mullein itself is derived from the Latin word “mollis” which means soft. It has its origins in the Mediterranean, but has been naturalized in North America. The flowering stem was dried by the Greeks and Romans and dipped in tallow to be used as a lamp wick or torch. These torches were said to ward off evil spirits and witches, though mullein was certainly not uncommon in a witch’s herbal garden. Frazier writes in the Golden Bough that mullein was added to the bonfire on Midsummer’s eve to ward away evil from the celebration. Some ancient magical grimoires have listed powdered mullein leaf as a substitute for graveyard dust when that is unavailable.
Mucilage, flavonoids, Iridoids, sterols, and sugars.
Dried flower as an oil, and dried leaf as a tea.
Traditionally used as a tea, and is frequently combined with other herbs. May be taken as an extract if fresh material is used, and is very rarely found in capsule form. The fresh or dried flowers have traditionally been used to make an oil infusion for external use.
From Susun Weed
Looking to protect your lungs from the smoke in the air from all of the wildfires burning? Or maybe you or someone you know is experiencing COPD or emphysema? Do you have a child or are you an adult with a chronic cough? Listen to Susun explain the healing and strengthening qualities of mullein to support lung health and learn how to make restorative mullein milk.
From “Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs”
Mullein (Verbascum thapus)
Folk Names: Aaron’s Rod, Blanket Leaf, Candlewick Plant, Clot, Doffle, Feltwort, Flannel Plant, Graveyard Dust, Hag’s Tapers, Hedge Taper, Jupiter’s Staff, Lady’s Foxglove, Old Man’s Fennel, Peter’s Staff, Shepherd’s Club, Shepherd’s Herb, Torches, Velvetback, Velvet Plant
Powers: Courage, Protection, Health, Love Divination, Exorcism
Mullein is worn to keep wild animals from you while hiking in untamed areas. It also instills courage in the bearer, and a few leaves placed in the shoe keeps one from catching a cold. Mullein is also carried to obtain love from the opposite sex.
Stuffed into a small pillow or placed beneath your pillow mullein guard against nightmares.
In India, mullein is regarded as the most potent safeguard against evil spirits and magic, and is hung over doors, in windows, and carried in sachets. It is also used to banish demons and negativity.
In the Ozarks, men performed a simple love divination. The men went to a clearing where a mullein grew and bent it down so that it pointed toward his love’s house. If she loved him the mullein would grow straight again; if she loved another it would die.
Graveyard dust-an infrequent ingredient in spells-can be substituted with powdered mullein leaves.
At one time Witches and magicians used oil lamps to illuminate their spells and rites, and the downy leaves and stems of the mullein often provided the wicks.
LINDEN is one of my favorite trees. It goes by many names: basswood, lime blossom, and tille. To the botanist it is Tillia; and this is the name most of the world knows it by. It thrives in many places and is harvested from China to France for commercial sale.
When linden blooms, its fragrance is so sweet that the bees flock to it. Their buzzing is the sound one must tune in to if identifying linden by sound. (I usually find them by smell!) When I harvest linden blossoms, I am careful to wait until after the bee has left the flower, so I don’t get stung.
“I smell fairies at my feet, I’m sitting under a linden tree;
Bees abuzz and birds atweet, linden blossoms sure smell sweet.
Linden, linden heal my heart,
You can bring me a brand new start.”
Linden blossoms hang from a green strap-like structure that looks a little like a leaf, but isn’t. The green structure is part of the remedy and needs to be harvested along with the cluster of flowers dangling under it.
I reach for linden when I want to quell inflammation. A student lowered her C-reactive protein (C-rP) levels, and her risk of suffering a heart attack, by drinking linden infusion for three weeks. C-reactive protein is a measure of the amount of inflammation in the blood vessels specifically and the overall body in general. With the licensing of a drug (Crestor, rosuvastatin calcium) to lower C-rP levels, we are going to be hearing lots more about this substance in the near future. (Find out why you don’t want to take this drug at www.worstpill.org)
Lowering inflammation is key to achieving a happy, healthy old age. Toward that end, I drink at least two quarts of linden infusion a week. I believe that most chronic diseases are the end result of inflammation. Joint pain is inflammation. Dementia is inflammation. Blood vessel disease is inflammation. And adult-onset diabetes is inflammation. It seems to me that many cancers are a response to inflammation too. A recent study found women who taken NSAIDs regularly are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Linden is the world’s leading anti-cold and anti-flu herb. It prevents and heals all respiratory distresses (but is not an anti-infective). It is a cooling and strengthening herb. Linden is considered safe for children and elders.
Linden is primarily used as a tea, though I prefer the curative powers of a strong infusion. I use one-half ounce of linden blossoms to a quart of water and steep for four hours. I strain off the first brew and refrigerate it, then rebrew the wet linden flowers by adding two cups of cold water to them in a saucepan. I bring this rebrew to a boil, cover, and let sit for four hours to extract the healing mucilage that is triggered by the cold water.
Linden flowers are the usual medicine, but the leaves are medicinal as well. They are heart-shaped and even more mucilaginous and anti-inflammatory than the blossoms.. A student who had been kicked by a horse found relief from a nasty wound (already more than a week old) by applying chewed up linden leaf. If I didn’t have so much plantain at hand, I am sure I would use more linden leaf poultices.
Linden grows well in cities; I have rarely been in a city in North America or Europe that does not a Linden Avenue. A highlight of my love affair with linden come with a visit to Linderhof in Bavaria. The day I got there, the three-hundred-year-old linden tree was blooming and buzzing and throwing off a scent that made me swoon with delight. My local lindens are tall at fifty feet. This giant was over a hundred feet.
From “Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs”
Linden (Tilia Europaea)
Folk Names: Lime, Lime Tree
Deities: Venus, Lada
Powers: Protection, Immortality, Luck, Love, Sleep
Lithuanian women used to make sacrifices to linden trees as part of religious rites.
Linden is extensively used in Europe as a protective tree. The branches are hung over the door for this purpose, or the tree itself is grown in the garden.
The bark of the linden carried prevents intoxication, while the leaves and flowers are used in love spells. Since it is a tree of immortality its leaves are used in spells of this nature.
Linden and lavender mixed equally make excellent pillows which hasten sleep in the insomniac, and good luck charms are carved from the wood and carried.
From Mountain Rose Herbs
The Linden tree is found in both Europe and North America. There are many folktales concerning linden across Europe. One of the most radical is of Celtic origin that states that if you sit under the linden tree you will be cured of epilepsy. In Roman and German folklore, the linden tree is seen as the “tree of lovers”, and Polish folklore tells that the wood is good protection against both the evil eye and lightning. Linden blossom have been used to make a variety of items including herbal teas and a base for perfumes, as well as being known for producing tiny aromatic flowers that attract many bees that in turn produce a wonderful honey.
About 1% antioxidant flavonoids including hyperoside, quercitrin, myricetin galactoside, kaempferol, kaempferol glycosides including astragalin and its 6-p-coumaric acid ester tiliroside), myricetin and quercetin glycosides. Linden flowers also contain approximately 10% mucilage largely comprised of arabino-galactans; proanthocyanidins; caffeic, chlorogenic and p-coumaric acids, eugenol, and geraniol.
Leaf and Flowers.
Mostly used as a Tea. Can be taken in both extract and capsule form.
Don’t drink linden flower teas within 2 hours of taking any vitamin and mineral supplement, since the mucilages in the tea can interfere with the absorption of nutrients from the supplement.
From Vitality Magazine
The Linden Tree
French Folk Remedy Gains Respect Here as a Digestive Tonic, Liver Cleanser, and Relaxing Heart Herb
High overhead, you can hear honey bees lazily buzzing in and out of its perfumed flowers. The shade is cooling and the scent has a calming effect. You feel relaxed and alive and aware of its healing energy.
This is the linden tree. Sometimes if grows 130 feet high, and produces some of the most powerful herbal medicine known to humans. You may even have one of these trees on your street because they are planted widely in cities, and are fairly common in the countryside throughout Ontario where they are usually known as basswood.
In fact there are several names for this important tree. Sometimes the flowers are called lime blossoms. The French know it as tilleul and its scientific name is Tilia europoea or americana. The blossoms are creamy white in clusters of five, on long stalks with a long greenish keel or bract (like the “wing” of a maple seed) beside each cluster. It is these flowers that are so widely used in Europe to make a herbal tea or infusion — one that is actually so pleasant to taste that you can order it after a gourmet meal in a five-star French restaurant. And no wonder, since linden tea is a very effective digestive remedy. Even the honey made from linden blossoms is said to be health-restoring; it is much sought after and considered to be the best flavoured and most valuable in the world. The honey is also made into medicine as well as delicious liqueurs.
A RELAXING ANTI-STRESS REMEDY
Linden flowers have always been used in herbal medicine as a calming, relaxing remedy for the nervous system. This is one of those safe herbal teas that can be taken by almost anyone and consumed over a long period of time. When you substitute linden tea for your coffee, you will soon feel a great reduction in stress levels. It is a gentle relaxant especially effective for anyone suffering from nervous irritability. This is because the flowers contain an essential oil composed partly of an alcohol sesquiterpene called farnesol which is antispasmodic and sedative. The tea has been used without harm even for small children, and in Europe a calming bath is made for overwrought infants by adding a strong linden infusion to their bath water.
Children also benefit from the diaphoretic activity when it is given to them during influenza or severe colds. (A diaphoretic promotes sweating, using the skin as an organ of elimination.) There also seems to be an anti-catarrhal effect; one American study has demonstrated that the use of linden flowers for children in the early stages of a respiratory illness will prevent the inner ear infections that often follow.
The relaxing effect of linden is particularly felt on the cardiovascular system, especially when there is arteriosclerosis or hypertension (high blood pressure) present. (Linden is hypotensive; it lowers blood pressure.) The British herbalist, Simon Mills, author of Out of the Earth, the Essential Book of Herbal Medicine, points out that linden blossoms have a healing and restorative effect upon the blood vessel walls — one that extends even to the improvement of varicose veins.
A leading French authority on phytotherapy, Henri Leclerc described the effect on the blood as rendering it more fluid, less viscous (thick) and less likely to coagulate. Linden also prevents adherence of plaque to the blood vessel walls, along with the whole list of complications that result from that process. Other French authorities on phytotherapy, Drs. Duraffourd and Lapraz, assert that the flowers act as a plaque anti-aggregant, and Bezanger-Beauquesne gives clinical evidence of mild coronary vasodilation. This means that the arteries inside the heart which provide the heart muscle’s vital supply of blood are less likely to become blocked. In this way, linden prevents constriction of the blood, making strokes less likely.
Hundreds of tonnes of linden flowers are consumed in France each year. Along with the widespread consumption of garlic, olives and red wine in the Mediterranean countries, Linden is a likely contributor to the lower occurrence of heart disease in this region.
Of course, caution is needed by anyone taking blood thinners, conventional medicine for high blood pressure, or other heart medications, because linden can potentiate (amplify) the effects of those pharmaceuticals. Careful monitoring would be needed by your cardiologist if you wanted to drink linden tea regularly. But as a preventive, there is probably no better herb for maintaining the smooth inner lining of the blood vessel walls and assuring that stress does not affect the even flow of circulation of the blood.
Like so many herbs, linden has several additional medicinal benefits. Many women use linden during menopause to offset nervousness and sleep disorders. Rina Nissim, the Swiss phytotherapist and specialist on women’s health, recommends linden to alleviate unpleasant symptoms before periods and at ovulation.
There is a lot of mucilage in linden flowers. This gives them a soothing, healing quality when the infusion comes into contact with the membranes of the digestive system. This demulcent action combined with the relaxing factor has led to the use of the tea for diarrhoea and indigestion.
RESTORING THE LIVER
One of the most remarkable therapeutic effects of linden is on the liver. In this case, it is the inner bark or sapwood of the tree that is used. The French have a phyto-pharmaceutical specialty called “aubier de Tilleul de Roussillon,” Roussillon being a region in the south of France where it is thought that the very best linden trees grow. The sapwood is sometimes used in England to treat kidney stones and gout. But in France it is considered an important liver remedy because it has a mild choleretic action (stimulating the flow of bile through the liver) which assures non-aggressive drainage of the liver. This is the key to natural self-restoration of the liver.
In France it is also known to be effective in treating viral hepatitis, and patients with hepatitis C have shown very positive results after using it for some time. Over the course of treatment, raised liver enzyme levels were carefully monitored and showed considerable diminishment — almost to normal. Other plants with anti-viral activity were used as well, but the importance of linden bark is its non-aggressive action. When there is liver disease, many conventional pharmaceuticals are simply too toxic for the liver to process. Herbal medicine excels in treatments for the liver — all of them bitter remedies which work to decongest and restore this essential organ that protects us from the effects of pollution and chemicals in our food and the environment.
HOW TO USE LINDEN
It is easy to make linden tea. You can obtain the dried flowers from a health food store or herb shop and they are even available in tea bags. Use a heaping teaspoonful (2-4 g) of the crushed flowers (with the bract) per cup of boiling water. As with all herbal teas, it is important not to allow the steam to escape. This is crucial when using linden flowers because the relaxing properties depend on volatile oils which can easily evaporate and be lost in the steam. That’s why you should carefully cover the tea pot or make linden tea in a jar with a screw top lid. If you are in a restaurant, you can place your saucer over the cup containing the tea bag while the flowers are steeping. They should be steeped for about 10 minutes. Drink three cups each day for an indefinite period. A typical course of treatment would last three months.
The tincture is also available as a 1:5 preparation in 25% alcohol. Dose should be 2-4 mils taken three times a day. You can also use a fluid extract (1:1) in 25% alcohol and the dose is 2-4 mils three times a day.
Preparing the sapwood is a little different. There are no volatile oils to worry about here because the active constituents are beta-sterol, stigmasterol, fatty acids and linolenic-acids. These require considerable boiling to release them from the finely chopped wood. Normally a decoction is prepared by simmering in an open pot 30 to 40 grams of the wood in 1 litre of water for enough time that the liquid is reduced to 1/2 its original volume. This makes enough to drink in one or two days. Duraffourd and Lapraz recommend drinking great quantities the first few days — up to 3 litres a day — and then continuing at a more moderate dosage of 1-2 glasses a day until recovery has taken place.
The sap wood can be purchased or ordered from some health food stores in Ontario but it is more readily available in Montreal if you have difficulty finding it here.
COLLECTING YOUR OWN LINDEN FLOWERS
Collecting linden is a pleasant summer day’s occupation. It should be done between 10 a.m. and noon before the hot sun has caused the evaporation of the essential oils. Try to avoid blossoms that are covered with dust. You can time your collection to a day or two after rain. The flowers themselves must be fully opened and dry. Remember that if you are gathering them, you may be allergic to the abundant pollen they contain and so wearing sunglasses and even a dust mask might be helpful. Once collected, the flowers with keel attached should be spread out on a clean sheet or paper towels out of the sun until dry. You will have to turn them over every day. Once brittle, you can store them in jars with tight fitting lids or sealed paper bags.
This is an herb that I’ve grown but never used. The fact that it is poisonous if too much is ingested made me avoid it. However, one of my friends recently told me that she grows and uses hers all of the time so I did some research on it. Rue (Ruta graveolens) Folk Names: Bashoush (Coptic), Garden Rue, German Rue, Herb of Grace, Herbygrass, Hreow, Mother of the Herbs, Rewe, Ruta Gender: Masculine Planet: Mars Element: Fire Deities: Diana, Aradia Powers: Healing, Health, Mental Powers, Exorcism, Love Magical Uses: Rue leaves placed on the forehead relieve headaches. Worn around the neck rue aids in recuperation from illnesses and also wards off future health problems. Rue is added to healing incenses and poppets. Fresh rue, sniffed, clears the head in love matters and also improves mental processes. Rue added to baths breaks all hexes and curses that may have been cast against you, and it is also added to exorcism incenses and mixtures. It is protective when hung up at the door or placed in sachets, and the fresh leaves rubbed on the floorboards sends back any ill spells sent against you. The Romans ate rue as a preservative against the evil eye, and the plant was also carried to guard the bearer from poisons, werewolves, and all manner of ills. A sprig of fresh rue is used as a sprinkler to distribute salt water throughout the house. This clears it of negativity. Mix fresh rue juice with morning dew and sprinkle in a circle around you while performing magical acts for protection, if desired or needed. Rue is another plant said t grow best when stolen, and indeed its presence in the garden beautifies and protects it. For some reason toads have an aversion to rue, however. From “Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs” Rue Botanical: Ruta graveolens (LINN.) Family: N.O. Rutaceae –Synonyms—Herb-of-Grace. Herbygrass. Garden Rue. —Part Used—Herb. —Habitat—Southern Europe. Rue, a hardy, evergreen, somewhat shrubby plant, is a native of Southern Europe. The stem is woody in the lower part, the leaves are alternate, bluish-green, bi- or tripinnate, emit a powerful, disagreeable odour and have an exceedingly bitter, acrid and nauseous taste. The greenish-yellow flowers are in terminal panicles, blossoming from June to September. In England Rue is one of our oldest garden plants, cultivated for its use medicinally, having, together with other herbs, been introduced by the Romans, but it is not found in a wild state except rarely on the hills of Lancashire and Yorkshire. This wild form is even more vehement in smell than the garden Rue. The whole plant has a disagreeable and powerful odour. The first flower that opens has usually ten stamens, the others eight only. —Cultivation—The plant grows almost anywhere, but thrives best in a partially sheltered and dry situation. Propagation may be effected: (1) by seeds, sown outside, broadcast, in spring, raked in and the beds kept free from weeds, the seedlings, when about 2 inches high, being transplanted into fresh beds, allowing about 18 inches each way, as the plants become busy; (2) by cuttings, taken in spring and inserted for a time, until well rooted, in a shady border; (3) by rooted slips, also taken in spring. Every slip or cutting of the young wood will readily grow, and this is the most expeditious way of raising a stock. Rue will live much longer and is less liable to be injured by frost in winter when grown in a poor, dry, rubbishy soil than in good ground. Rue is first mentioned by Turner, 1562, in his Herbal, and has since become one of the best known and most widely grown simples for medicinal and homely uses. The name Ruta is from the Greek reuo (to set free), because this herb is so efficacious in various diseases. It was much used by the Ancients; Hippocrates specially commended it, and it constituted a chief ingredient of the famous antidote to poison used by Mithridates. The Greeks regarded it as an antimagical herb, because it served to remedy the nervous indigestion they suffered when eating before strangers, which they attributed to witchcraft. In the Middle Ages and later, it was considered – in many parts of Europe – a powerful defence against witches, and was used in many spells. It was also thought to bestow second sight. Piperno, a Neapolitan physician, in 1625, commended Rue as a specific against epilepsy and vertigo, and for the former malady, at one time, some of this herb used to be suspended round the neck of the sufferer. Pliny, John Evelyn tells us, reported Rue to be of such effect for the preservation of sight that the painters of his time used to devour a great quantity of it, and the herb is still eaten by the Italians in their salads. It was supposed to make the sight both sharp and clear, especially when the vision had become dim through over-exertion of the eyes. It was with ‘Euphrasy and Rue’ that Adam’s sight was purged by Milton’s Angel. At one time the holy water was sprinkled from brushes made of Rue at the ceremony usually preceding the Sunday celebration of High Mass, for which reason it is supposed it was named the Herb of Repentance and the Herb of Grace. ‘There’s rue for you and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays.’ Gerard tells us: ‘the garden Rue, which is better than the wild Rue for physic’s use, grows most profitably, as Dioscorides said, under a fig tree.’ But this is, probably, only a reference, originally, to the fact that it prefers a sheltered position. Country-people boil its leaves with treacle, thus making a conserve of them. These leaves are curative of croup in poultry. It has also been employed in the diseases of cattle. Shakespeare refers again to Rue in Richard III: ‘Here in this place I’ll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace; Rue, even for ruth, shall shortly here be seen, In the remembrance of a weeping queen.’ The following is a quotation from Drayton: ‘Then sprinkles she the juice of rue, With nine drops of the midnight dew From lunarie distilling.’ The latter was the Moonwort (Lunaria), often called ‘honesty’ – a common garden flower, with cross-shaped purple blossoms, and round, clear silvery-looking seed-vessels. Chaucer also calls it Lunarie. Gerard says: ‘If a man be anointed with the juice of rue, the poison of wolf’s bane, mushrooms, or todestooles, the biting of serpents, stinging of scorpions, spiders, bees, hornets and wasps will not hurt him.’ Rue-water sprinkled in the house ‘kills all the fleas,’ says an old book The juice was used against earache. Rue has been regarded from the earliest times as successful in warding off contagion and preventing the attacks of fleas and other noxious insects. It was the custom for judges sitting at assizes to have sprigs of Rue placed on the bench of the dock against the pestilential infection brought into court from gaol by the prisoner, and the bouquet still presented in some districts to judges at the assizes was originally a bunch of aromatic herbs, given to him for the purpose of warding off gaol-fever. It is one of the ingredients in the ‘Vinegar of the Four Thieves.’ Culpepper recommends it for sciatica and pains in the joints, if the latter be ‘anointed’ with it, as also for ‘the shaking fits of agues, to take a draught before the fit comes.’ He also tells us that: ‘the juice thereof warmed in a pomegranate shell or rind, and dropped into the ears, helps the pains of them. The juice of it and fennel, with a little honey, and the gall of a cock put thereunto, helps the dimness of the eyesight.’ In Saxony Rue has given its name to an Order. A chaplet of Rue, borne bendwise on bars of the Coat Armour of the Dukedom of Saxony, was granted by Frederick Barbarossa to the first Duke of Saxony, in 1181. In 1902 the King of Saxony conferred the Order of the Rautenkrone (Crown of Rue) on our present King, then Prince of Wales. Since the latter half of the seventeenth century, sprigs of Rue have been interlaced in the Collar of our Order of the Thistle. —Parts Used and Constituents—The whole herb is used, the drug consisting of both the fresh and the dried herb. The tops of the young shoots contain the greatest virtues of any part of the plant. The shoots are gathered before the plant flowers. The volatile oil is contained in glands distributed over the whole plant and contains caprinic, plagonic, caprylic and oenanthylic acids – also a yellow crystalline body, called rutin. Oil of Rue is distilled from the fresh herb. Water serves to extract the virtues of the plant better than spirits of wine. Decoctions and infusions are usually made from the fresh plant, or the oil may be given in a dose of from 1 to 5 drops. The dried herb – which is a greyish green – has similar taste and odour, but is less powerful. It is used, powdered, for making tea. —Medicinal Action and Uses—Strongly stimulating and antispasmodic – often employed, in form of a warm infusion, as an emmenagogue. In excessive doses, it is an acro-narcotic poison, and on account of its emetic tendencies should not be administered immediately after eating. It forms a useful medicine in hysterical affections, in coughs, croupy affections, colic and flatulence, being a mild stomachic. The oil may be given on sugar, or in hot water. Externally, Rue is an active irritant, being employed as a rubefacient. If bruised and applied, the leaves will ease the severe pain of sciatica. The expressed juice, in small quantities, was a noted remedy for nervous nightmare, and the fresh leaves applied to the temples are said to relieve headache. Compresses saturated with a strong decoction of the plant, when applied to the chest, have been used beneficially for chronic bronchitis. If a leaf or two be chewed, a refreshing aromatic flavour will pervade the mouth and any nervous headache, giddiness, hysterical spasm, or palpitation will be quickly relieved. —Preparations and Dosages—Powdered herb, 15 to 30 grains. Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. From Botanical.com
Woodruff (Asperula odorata)
Folk Names: Herb Walter, Master of the Woods, Sweet Woodruff, Wood Rove, Wuderove
Powers: Victory, Protection, Money
Magical Uses: Woodruff is carried to attract money and prosperity, to bring victory to athletes and warriors, and when placed in a sachet of leather it guards against all harm.
From “Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs”
Sweet Woodruff Herb Profile
From Mountain Rose Herbs
Also known as Galium odoratum, Hay Plant, Wild Baby’s Breath, Bedstraw, Sweet Grass, Star Grass, and Woodruff.
Sweet Woodruff is an herbaceous mat-forming perennial native to Europe, North Africa and western Asia. Sweet Woodruff grows 6-12 inches white flowers in partial to full shade that typically bloom in April or May. The plant has a sweet, hay-like fragrance derived from coumarin.
A number of species in this genus contain asperuloside that can be converted into prostaglandins (hormone-like compounds that stimulate the uterus and affect blood vessels), making the genus of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry.
Parts Used – Leaves and flowers
The aromatic intensity of woodruff intensifies when it is dried, making it a popular addition to sachets and potpourris. Sweet woodruff plants have also been used commercially in perfumes. The leaves are used to flavor teas and cold fruit drinks. The flowers (usually fresh) are used in the preparation of May wine (called “Maiwein” or “Maibowle” in German), which is a punch made from white wine flavored with woodruff, orange and pineapple and sweetened with a little sugar. During the Middle Ages, sweet woodruff was widely used as a poultice for wounds and cuts and taken internally for digestive and liver problems. In modern day herbalism an infusion is used for its diuretic and anti-inflammatory effect.
Sweet Woodruff has a long history of herbal use. It has been used throughout the ages to treat ailments including liver problems and jaundice. Teas from the leaves is still used for stomach aches. The coumarin content of sweet woodruff can produce headaches and other toxic effects if large doses are consumed.
Should not be taken internally in large amounts due to a minor toxicity which may produce headaches.
Note: Sweet Woodruff is used in a a Beltane wine and I will put that recipe in the Beltane thread
Botanical: Asperula odorata (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Rubiaceae
—Synonyms—(Old English) Wuderove. Wood-rova.
(Old French) Muge-de-boys.
The Sweet Woodruff, a favourite little plant growing in woods and on shaded hedgebanks, may be readily recognized by its small white flowers (in bloom in May and June) set on a tender stalk, with narrow, bright-green leaves growing beneath them in successive, star-like whorls, just as in Clivers or Goosegrass, about eight leaves to every whorl. Unlike the latter, however, its stems are erect and smooth: they rarely exceed a foot in height, their average being 8 or 9 inches. The plant is perennial, with creeping, slender root-stock.
Being a lover of woods and shady places, its deep-green foliage develops best in the half-shade, where the sunlight penetrates with difficulty. Should the branches over shadowing it be cut away, and the full lightfall upon it, it loses its colour and rapidly becomes much paler.
When the seed is quite ripe and dry, it is a rough little ball covered thickly with flexible, hooked bristles, white below, but black-tipped, and these catch on to the fur and feathers of any animal or bird that pushes through the undergrowth, and thus the seed is dispersed.
The name of the plant appears in the thirteenth century as ‘Wuderove,’ and later as ‘Wood-rove’ – the rove being derived, it is said, from the French rovelle, a wheel, in allusion to the spoke-like arrangement of the leaves in whorls. In old French works it appears as Muge-de-boys, musk of the woods.
Some of the old herbalists spelt the name Woodruff with an array of double consonants: Woodderowffe. Later this spelling was written in a rhyme, which children were fond of repeating:
W O O D D E,
R O W F F E.
—Cultivation—As a rule, the plant is not cultivated, but collected from the woods, but it might be grown under orchard trees and can be propagated, (1) by seeds, sown as soon as ripe, in prepared beds of good soil, in the end of July or beginning of August, (2) by division of roots during the spring and early summer, just after flowering. Plant in moist, partially shaded ground, 1 foot apart.
—Chemical Constituents—The agreeable odour of Sweet Woodruff is due to a crystalline chemical principle called Coumarin, which is used in perfumery, not only on account of its own fragrance, but for its property of fixing other odours. It is the odorous principle also present in melilot, tonka beans, and various other plants belonging to the orders Leguminosae, Graminae and Orchidaceae. It is employed in pharmacy to disguise disagreeable odours, especially that of iodoform, for which purpose 1 part of coumarin is used to 50 parts of iodoform. The plant further contains citric, malic and rubichloric acids, together with some tannic acid.
The powdered leaves are mixed with fancy snuffs, because of their enduring fragrance, and also put into potpourri.
—Medicinal Action and Uses—Woodruff was much used as a medicine in the Middle Ages.
The fresh leaves, bruised and applied to cuts and wounds, were said to have a healing effect, and formerly a strong decoction of the fresh herb was used as a cordial and stomachic. It is also said to be useful for removing biliary obstructions of the liver.
The plant when newly gathered has but little odour, but when dried, has a most refreshing scent of new-mown hay, which is retained for years. Gerard tells us:
‘The flowers are of a very sweet smell as is the rest of the herb, which, being made up into garlands or bundles, and hanged up in houses in the heat of summer, doth very well attemper the air, cool and make fresh the place, to the delight and comfort of such as are therein. It is reported to be put into wine, to make a man merry, and to be good for the heart and liver, it prevaileth in wounds, as Cruciata and other vulnerary herbs do.’
In Germany, one of the favourite hockcups is still made by steeping the fresh sprigs in Rhine wine. This forms a specially delightful drink, known as Maibowle, and drunk on the first of May.
The dried herb may be kept among linen, like lavender, to preserve it from insects. In the Middle Ages it used to be hung and strewed in churches, and on St. Barnabas Day and on St. Peter’s, bunches of box, Woodruff, lavender and roses found a place there. It was also used for stuffing beds.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
Powers: Repel Snakes, Lust, Psychic Powers
Magical Uses: Lemongrass planted around the home and in the garden will repel snakes.
It is also used in some lust potions, as well as in an infusion to aid in developing psychic powers.
From “Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs”
- Used in treating digestive problems, relaxing stomach muscles, relieving cramps and flatulence.
- Reduces fever, with an overall cooling effect on the body
- Externally, a gentle herb for facial steams and baths.
Native to India and Sri Lanka, where it is known as “fever tea”, this herb is primarily cultivated for its oil, used as both a culinary flavoring and as medicine. It has a delicious and mild flavor with refreshing and soothing properties, a wonderful addition to either iced or hot tea blends. Lemongrass mixes especially well with ginger ro mints and can be extremely thirst quenching on a hot summer day. The oil contains up to 70% citral, which is antiseptic, and citronellal, which helps repel mosquitos and bugs in external repellent blends. Also found in lemongrass are traces of essential oil components geraniol (found in rose geranium) and nerol (derived from orange blossom), which are relaxing and uplifting components used in skin-care products. Lemongrass is considered suitable for children.
Part used for tea: Leaves
Taste: Mild, lemony, fragrant and pleasant, grassy
How to brew: infuse
Caution: Do not use essential oil internally, avoid contact with eyes.
From “Herbal Teas” by Kathleen Brown
From Mountain Rose Herbs
Lemongrass Herb Profile
Also known as Cymbopogon citratum.
With its lemony scent and hint of rose aroma, lemon grass is an essential ingredient in Thai and Indonesian cooking. Lemon grass grows wild in Indonesia, Indochina, and tropical Australia, and has been cultivated in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka as a culinary herb and in India as a medicinal herb for thousands of years. It was considered by Paracelsus to be a cure-all and was his favorite and most revered herb. Traditional Chinese medicine has used it to relieve headaches and abdominal pain. Traditional Brazilian medicine makes great use of lemongrass as a sedative, an analgesic, and to relieve spasms and muscle cramps.
The essential oil of lemon grass (0.2 to 0.5%, “West Indian lemon grass oil”) consists mainly of citral. The herb also contains myrcene, nerol, limonene, linalool and beta-caryophyllene; the compounds make the essential oil subject to “curdling” when exposed to the air.
The lower portion of the stalk.
Universally used within tea blends for its flavor and aroma. Rarely seen in encapsulations or extracts, but equally as effective. Sliced fresh lemon grass, or ground powder (1 teaspoon of lemon grass powder equals one stalk of fresh lemongrass)
As a medicinal herb, lemon grass is mildly diuretic and a stimulant tonic. The herb promotes digestion of fats, and in Ayurvedic medicine a preparation of lemon grass with pepper has been used for relief of menstrual troubles and nausea. The herb stimulates perspiration, cooling the body in summer and lowering fevers any time of year. Lemon grass is well known a mild insect repellent (citronella) and the essential oil is used in perfumery. A study in 1988 found significant antimicrobial activity in fighting several human pathogens such as E.coli and staphylococcus aureus. It has also been used externally for treatment of lice, ringworm, and scabies.
Take care to store lemon grass away from other foods and spices, as they make pick up its aroma. Soak dried whole lemon grass for two hours in warm water before using in cooking. It medicinal application in excessive doses should be avoided while pregnant.
Note: Lemongrass is an annual for us, but I let mine go to seed last fall and it is growing fine from those seeds this year. The lady at my best local nursery says she pulls hers up and cuts the root off of the plant and stuffs her Thanksgiving turkey with the whole plant. Sounds yummy to me!
Botanical: Calendula officinalis (LINN.)
—Synonyms—Caltha officinalis. Golds. Ruddes. Mary Gowles. Oculus Christi. Pot Marigold. Marygold. Fiore d’ogni mese. Solis Sponsa.
—Parts Used—Flowers, herb, leaves.
From “Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs”
Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
Folk Names: Bride of the Sun, Calendula, Drunkard, Goldes, Holigolde, Husbandman’s Dial, Marybud, Marygold, Mary Gowles, Ruddes, Ruddles, Spousa Solis, Summer’s Bride
Powers: Protection, Prophetic Dreams, Legal Matters, Psychic Powers
Magical Uses: Marigold, picked at noon with the Sun is hottest and strongest, will strengthen and comfort the heart.
Garlands of marigolds strung on the doorposts stop evil from entering the house, and scattered under the bed they protect you while asleep and make your dreams come true, i.e. give you prophetic dreams. Especially effective in discovering a thief who has robbed you.
Marigolds added to the bath water help win the respect and admiration of everyone you meet.
Looking at the bright flower strengthens the sight, and carried in the pocket, marigold helps justice to smile favorably upon you while in court.
If a girl touches the petals of the marigold with her bare feet, she will understand the languages of the birds.
From Mountain Rose Herbs
Calendula Flowers Profile
Also known as – Calendula officinalis, pot marigold, Garden Marigold, Gold-Bloom, Holligold, Marigold, Marybud, Zergul.
Introduction – The calendula is an annual flower native to the northern Mediterranean countries. Its name refers to its tendency to bloom with the calendar, usually once a month or every new moon. The term “marigold” refers to the Virgin Mary, and marigolds are used in Catholic events honoring the Virgin Mary. The Egyptians considered them to have rejuvenating properties. In the Hindu world, the flowers were used to adorn statues of gods in their temples, as well as a colorant in food, fabrics, and cosmetics, and of particular interest, in the 18th and 19th century calendula was used to color cheese. The calendula was originally used as food rather than as an herb. It adds flavor to cereals, rice, and soups. The petals can be added to salads. As recently as 70 years ago, American physicians used calendula to treat amenorrhea, conjunctivitis, fevers, cuts, scrapes, bruises, and burns, as well as minor infections of the skin.
Constituents – Calendulin, beta-carotene and other carotenoids, isoquercitrin, narcissin, rutin, amyrin, lupeol, sterols, and volatile oils. The flowers also contain complex polysaccharides with immunostimulant properties.
Parts Used – Dried flowers.
Typical Preparations – Creams, teas, tinctures, infusions, compresses, and washes.
Summary – Calendula creams and washes are still used to disinfect minor wounds and to treat infections of the skin. The antibacterial and immunostimulant properties of the plant make it extremely useful in treating slow-healing cuts and cuts in people who have compromised immune systems. The herb stimulates the production of collagen at wound sites and minimizes scarring. Gargling calendula water may ease sore throat. Because of the vivid and brilliant color of calendula, it was thought by many to posses many powers for the protection and benefit of humans. One of the more outlandish claims was that wearing and amulet or necklace made of calendula petals, a bay leaf, and a wolf’s tooth would ensure that any words spoken to the wearer would be kind, peaceful and honest. An often overlooked application of this herb is the treatment of post-mastectomy lymphedema. The herb will not reduce swelling, but it will reduce pain.
Precautions – None.
From “The Victorian Herbalist” by Patricia Telesco
Magic – Consecration, blessing.
Medicinal – For burns (flowers in compress or lotion): for dandruff (infusion applied to scalp); for warts (fresh crushed leaves applied to skin).
Other – Add to butter for coloring; use in rinse to lighten hair.
From “20,000 Secrets of Tea” by Victoria Zak
Heart Health – Marigold flower petals mixed with honey have been used as a treatment fo weak hearts through the ages. Add honey to your marigold tean and have this drink at your fingertips for healthy heart maintenance.
Warm marigold tea is a cup of liquid gold with a vivid, pungent flavor. It cleans your lymph system, soothes digestive disorders, and makes you feel good all over. A great tea to start each season!
Inflammations (Digestive Tract). Marigold tea is excellent to ease digestive distress, and soother inflammatory conditions in stomach lining and bowels.
Lymph Glands. Marigold tea relieves congestion in the lymph system and reduces swollen lymph glands. Improves circulation and detoxifies the body. A great tea to take before flu season.
Menopause. Marigold has estrogenic properties to help ease the transition from estrogen production in the ovaries to estrogen production in the adrenal glands.
Menstruation. Marigold is b3eneficial for the female reproductive system to ease menstral difficulties and regulate menstruation.
Pelvis infections. Marigold has antibacterial properties that are particularly powerful fungus fighters, for pelvic and bowel infections.
Skin Wash. Two tea bags of marigold in one cup of water makes a potent, pure skin wash. Apply the tea with cotton balls to skin eruptions (even measles and chickenpox) to dry and heal them. It’s know as a first-class first aide remedy for cuts and sores. In English herb shops, it’s sold as a wash for skin infections.
Uses Through the Ages. Marigold has been used to treat tumors, cysts, jaundice, and inflamed eyes and to improve liver function.
Special Feature: Fights Herpes Simplex. Marigold is an antiviral tea that can fight herpes simplex virus. Take it warm.
Note – I could not find Calendula Officinalis at my local nurseries, they were all hybrid varieties. I was able to order the seeds from Mountain Rose Herbs.