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Celtic Herbs

This herbal lore was put together by someone whose name has been lost. Unfortunately, I do not know that person's name, or I would place full accredidation to them. The reason they put this lore was for it to be of use to the Celtic community. In that spirit, I have placed the information here.

Apple Anemone Blackthorn Chamomile
Chickweed Comfrey Dandelion Dill
Elder Eyebright Foxglove Garlic
Hawthorn Hazel Horse Radish Ivy
Juniper Leek Lesser Century Lichen
Marigold Milkwort Mistletoe Mullein
Pennywort Purple Orchis Plantain Ragwort
Ribgrass Rowan Scarlet Pimpernel Self-Heal
Speedwell Sphagnum St. John's Wort Tansy
Trailing Pearlwort Vervain Water Buttercup Yarrow


Apple

Latin: Pyrus Malus

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Thought to restore the powers of mind and body. Used specifically as a purgative of toxins (esp. of the liver), to quicken sedentary folk, for jaundice, skin eruptions, gout, burning and running eyes, weak or rheumatic eyes, constipation, dry and rough skin, stomach acidity, warts, and stones. Cider was believed to promote longevity.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: The fruit was hailed as the food of the Sidhe folk ('fruit of life of the Sidhe'); also seen as a passport to the Otherworld. Used in divination, especially at Samhain. It was said that apples would shrump up if picked when the moon was on the wane.

Other Uses and Associations: Obviously, the fruit is a very popular food of widespread use. Made into a Celtic 'lambswool' (rather like applesauce and ale, mixed). A good skin ointment has traditionally been made of the fruit ("pomatum"). Made into beverages, desserts, dinner dishes and even breads.

Tested Properties: Nutritive, Mucilaginous, Aromatic, Astringent. Contains much phosphorous.

Anemone (Wood)

Scottish Gaelic: bainne bo bliatain

Latin: Anemone Pulsatilla

Other Names: Wood Crowfoot, Smell Fox, Flawflower, Passover Flower.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Effective against disorders of the mucous membranes, indigestion, catarrhhal affections of the eye, catarrhal diarrhoea, menstrual difficulties, swolen testicles, bladder difficulties relating to age, spasmodic and whooping cough, bronchitis, headache, indolent ulcers, and incipient catarrh.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: The flower petals of the plant foretell storms by closing up. They also close up at night, and it was commonly believed that this was because fairies nestled within and pulled the curtains 'round them. To gather the first anemones is considered protective. The plant was made into a pottage that was eaten at sacrificial feasts.

Other Uses and Associations: The flower petals have been used as a dye.

Tested Properties: Contains amemonin (pulsatilla camphor) and anemonic acid.

Blackthorn

Latin: Prunus spinosa

Other Names: Sloe, Snag. The fruit are called Winter-picks or Prunelles.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: An astringent medicine, also used for nosebleeds, constipation, eye pain and inflammation/ciliary neuralgia. Thought to improve vision.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: The tree in bloom is considered an emblem of life and death in unison, as the beautiful white flowers appear when the tree has no leaves but only black bark and thorns; to carry or wear Blackthorn in blossom is thought to signify bringing a death token. Markings made upon linen with the fresh juice will never wash out. If three thorn trees are fouind growing closely together it's considered wise to make a wide berth of them. This was a tree often beloved of the Sidhe (although the location of a tree was important to the Sidhe folk; it had to be growing within a rath or fairy ring, in a rocky field of rough grass, or by a large boulder or spring); anyone who harmed, or even disturbed a tree beloved of the Sidhe risked their wrath (which often came in the form of illness).

Other Uses and Associations: The weather that prevails about the time of the tree's flowering is called "Blackthorn Winter". The wood was traditionally used as a flail and bludgeon. The leaves make a pleasing tea. The red juice imparts the colour and sub-acid roughness to port wine; Winter-pick wine takes the place of port for the common man. A desert liqueur and cordial is made provincially. The dried juice is Gum Acacia.

Tested Properties: Astringent, Nutritive, Mucilaginous. A styptic.

Century, Lesser

Irish: Dr'eimire Mhuire

Latin: Erythroea

Other Names: the Gall of the Earth, Christ's Ladder, Felwort, Tausendgulden Kraut, the Herb of a Thousand Florins, a Hundred Golden Sovereigns, Centre of the Sun.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Effective when taken internally for rheumatsm, asthma, respiratory problems, languid digestion, heartburn, and poor appetite.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: Some discussion is made of the fact that it grows wild in great abundance, and in a great many types of soils and conditions, but cannot be reared in a garden - thus the herb is believed to be under the care of magical folk/elements.

Tested Properties: Bitter.

Chamomile

Scottish Gaelic: athair talamh

Latin: Anthemis Nobilis

Other Names: Earth Apple, Manzanilla, Father of the Ground.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: As a treatment for nervous excitability, spasmodic coughs, indigestion, distal neuralgia, nervous colic, stomach disorders, fatigue, delerium tremens, wounds; effective as a sedative, mosquito-repellant and intestinal wormer.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: The herb's ability to drive away flies was seen as evidence of its magical nature. Some commentary is made of the fact that Chamomile is regarded as a 'plant physician'; if another plant is dying it will usually recover when Chamomile is planted near it, which was seen as a 'magical' ability. It dispels and prevents nightmares. The wild variety is far superior to the cultivated one.

Tested Properties: Aromatic, Bitter. Anti-inflammatory.

Chickweed

Irish: Fliodh, seamair Mhuire, luibh na bhFrancach, or fleac

Latin: Alsine, Stellaria media

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Effective against childrens' fits and gripes, scurvy, swellings, whooping cough, urinary infections, rheumatusm, stitches in the head and eyes, pressure and soreness about the liver, burning and bilious indigestion, general soreness (and specifically sore legs).

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: Seen as being 'under the dominion of the moon'. The flowers have a strange, and well noted nighttime behaviour; they lean together in pairs when darkness falls and 'protect' small buds between them, which is seen as evidence of magical goings-on.

Other Uses and Associations: Serves as food for a variety of small birds.

Tested Properties: Contains earthy salts and potash. Emollient and cooling.

Comfrey

Irish: Lus na gcn'amh briste

Latin: Eupatorium perfoliatum

Other Names: Consound, Knit-Back, Bone-Set, Blackwort, Symphytum.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Widespread use followed a faith in its ability to promote the healing of any bruised and broken parts. Used for wounds, the pain of inflammation, tenderness, broken bones, fractures and sprains, raw indolent ulcers, wounds of the nerves, tendons and arteries, cracked nipples, bleeding from the lungs or bladder. A useful preventative of foot and mouth disease in cattle.

Other Uses and Associations: The herb has been used in tanning leather. In cooking it has served as an ingredient in aspic and a flavouring in cakes and panada. As well, a glue can be extracted from the root.

Tested Properties: Astringent, Nutritive, Mucilaginous.

Dandelion

Scotish Gaelic: garbh lus

Latin: Taraxacum leontondon

Other Names: Rough Herb (in Scotland), Blowball, Time Table, Milk Gowan, Milk Golden, Wiggers, Swinesnout, Dashelflower, Priest's Crown, Caput Monachi, Schoolboys' Clock.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: As a treatment for ailments of the heart, hypertension, indigestion, coated tongue, night sweats, itching, cachexy; to prevent or stave off consumption, to remove warts, and to stimulate the liver and biliary organs.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: Used for fanciful divination; the pattern of spores left when the crown was blown against was considered telling. The herb was also used to make protective wreaths or magical hoops.

Tested properties: Aromatic, Mucilaginous, Nutritive, Bitter. A good diuretic.

Dill

Latin: Anethum graveolins

Other Names: Anet, Soyah.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Considered effective against wind in children and adults, hiccough, swolen and cold limbs, indigestion, rheumatic pain, sciatica, and constipation. It was also used as a tranquilizer and to increase mothers' milk.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: Often spoken of as an ingredient in love charms; it is supposed that dill strips a witch of her will. The herb was used to make protective wreaths or magical hoops.

Other Uses and Associations: Widely used as a spice, especially in pickling.

Tested Properties: Aromatic.

Elder

Latin: Sambucus nigra

Other Names: Arn, Akte, Bourtree (in Scotland), Eldrun, Burtre, Scovies, Iscaw.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Credited as being a complete medicine chest in itself. Used as a purgative, fly repellant, for eye ailments, ill pigmentation, colds, constipation, asthma, sweating, croup, wheezing and cough, quinsy, sore mouth and throat, strangulations, congestion, fever, skin ailments, 'serious humours of the blood', haemorrhoids, nervous headache, burns and scalds, sprains, piles, swelling, dropsy, and epilepsy. Thought to induce longevity.

Traditinal Magical Uses and Associations: Second sight is imbued if the tree sap is applied to the eyelids. Elder was cultivated around cottages as it afforded propection. Growing or harvested crops beaten about with a green, leafy elder branch are immune to all depridations of blight and pest (except moths); the flowers are fatal to domestic fowl. The ability of the plant to repel flies is seen as magical. The flowers are somewhat narcotic and may therefore have been used in divination. It was believed the lightning never struck it, and therefore it afforded propection in a storm. A bough was buried with a corpse for protection; even now the traditional hearse driver's whip is made of Elderwood. Beating with an elder rod was thought to arrest the growth of boys who were becoming too lanky or 'weedy'. A cross of the wood, affixed to stables and cow-houses, afforded the livestock propection from possible harm; a cross made of Elder and Sallow was hung about children's necks for protection against illness (especially where red thread was employed in the making of these charms). Folk belief held that the Dwarf Elder would only grow where blood had been shed in battle or murder. This was a tree often beloved of the Sidhe (although the location of a tree was important to the Sidhe folk; it had to be growing within a rath or fairy ring, in a rocky field of rough grass, or by a large boulder or spring); anyone who harmed, or even disturbed a tree beloved of the Sidhe risked their wrath (which often came in the form of illness).

Other Uses and Associations: The hollow branches made tubes to blow through for brightening up a dull fire. Young branches were made into musical pipes. The flowers, when placed among apples, impart an agreeable odour and flavour to the fruit (like muscatel). Used to dye hair (black). The 'rob' of the buds and berries was made into preserves, cakes, and a capital wine (the 3-year old wine constitutes English port). The buds were made into pottage and small ale. The flowers have been distilled into perfume. Summer was traditionally marked from the flower of the Elder to the fruit. Sheep cure themselves of foot-rot by eating the bark and shoots.

Tested Properties: Astringent, Bitter, Mucilaginous, Aromatic, Nutritive. A diuretic.

Eyebright

Irish: Roisn'in radhairc

Scottish Gaelic: lus-nan-leac

Latin: Euphrasia officinalis

Other Names: Casse-lunettes, Augen Trost, Adhil.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Widely used for all manner of eye ailments, as well as those affecting the lining of the nose and throat. Also used for hayfever, colds, coughs, sore throats, bronchial cough, scrofula, catarrh, and weak memory. Thought to improve brain function. The flower's centre resembles the human eye.

Tested Properties: Astringent, Mucilaginous.

Foxglove

Irish: Me'aracan dearg

Latin: Digitalis purpurea

Other Names: Thimble Flower, Finger Flower, Gants de Notre Dame, Foxesglew, Fox Music, Flop-a-dock, Flop-top, Cow Flop, Flabby Dock, Throttle-wort. Known in Ireland as the Great Herb, Lunsmore, and Fairy Cap, Goblin's Gloves (in Wales), Dead Men's Bells (in Scotland).

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Used externally for scrofulous swellings, and internally for colds. The plant entire is used to dispel fleas.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: Used recreationally to obtain a kind of intoxicated high, thus possibly used in ritual/divination. No animal will touch the plant.

Tested Properties: Bitter. The plant contains digitalin, a dangerous, active principle which acts on the kidneys and heart.

Garlic, Wild

Latin: Three varieities of garlic grow wild in the British Isles and Ireland: Ramsons Allium ursinium, Crow Garlic Allium vineale, and purple striped garlic Allium oleraceum.

Other Names: For Ramsons; Buck Rams, Buck Rampe, Bear's Garlic, Star Flower.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Garlic was believed to cure the bite of any venomous snake or reptile. Worked admirably well as a digestive aid. The odour was useful in reviving hysterical sufferers. Used against spasmodic affections of the chest, asthma, irritable spines, indolent scrofulous tumours, gout, red and irritated skin, plagues, tubercular consumption, erosive skin disease, lupus, abscesses, sores, rheumatism, nervous headache, and leprosy.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: Used to drive away venomous creatures. A morsel when chewed by an athelete will ensure victory; it was also thought to be spurring to men in battle. If garlic was planted at the full moon it was said to come out like an onion, with only one clove instead of many.

Additional Uses and Associations: When Crow Garlic was fed to birds it so stupefied them that they could be caught by hand.

Tested Properties: Stimulating, antispasmodic, expectorant and diuretic.

Hawthorn

Latin: Cratoegus Oxyacantha

Other Names: Whitethorn, Hazels, Gazels, Halves, Quickset, Bread-and-Cheese Tree, Albespyne, L'Epine Noble. The buds are called Ladies' Meat; the blossoms are known as May Flowers. The fruit are known as haws.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: An infusion is made from flowers and fruit both that acts on the kidneys. Also used for sore throat.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: It was considered unlucky to bring Hawthorn into the house; the tree was considered too sacred even to touch. The flowers are fertilized by carrion insects, and it is said that those with keen smell can detect the odour of the grave on the blossoms. The shadows of the moon were thought to represent a man laden with a bundle of hawthorn thorns in punishment for theft. If three thorn trees are fouind growing closely together it's considered wise to make a wide berth of them. This was a tree often beloved of the Sidhe (although the location of a tree was important to the sidhe folk; it had to be growing within a rath or fairy ring, in a rocky field of rough grass, or by a large boulder or spring); anyone who harmed, or even disturbed a tree beloved of the Sidhe risked their wrath (which often came in the form of illness).

Tested Properties: Astringent.

Hazel

Traditional Medicinal Uses: The nut milk was considered more nutritious than ordinary foods and was given to the weak and young.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: The wood was used in sacred fires at Beltaine and in water divination. The nuts of the tree are associated with the wisdom of the Otherworld. This was a tree often beloved of the Sidhe (although the location of a tree was important to the Sidhe folk; it had to be growing within a rath or fairy ring, in a rocky field of rough grass, or by a large boulder or spring); anyone who harmed, or even disturbed a tree beloved of the Sidhe risked their wrath (which often came in the form of illness).

Tested Properties: Nutritive, Mucilaginous.

Horse Radish

Latin: Cochlearia armoracia

Other Names: Mountain Radish, Great Raifort, Red Cole.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: A powerful stimulant. Used against facial neuralgia, rheumatic or palsied limbs, indigestion, hoarseness, sciatica, joynt-ache, hard swellings of the spleen and liver, whooping cough, and acne. Employed to induce vomiting and sweating, and to stimulate the entire nervous system.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: Metals turn black when touched by the root. The juices have been used to remove natural markings and pigmentation of the skin.

Other Uses and Associations: Probably introduced and not native; the plant can be found growing most commonly near the sea. Widespread culinary use as a condiment and 'spice'. It is a country habit to re-plant the horseradish after having taken a scraping or two from the root (and using the plant again and again in this manner until little was left). Used in a cosmetic; also used to remove freckles.

Tested Properties: Expectorant, diuretic and emetic. Contains a large quantity of sulphur. Bitter, Mucilaginous, Nutritive, Aromatic.

Ivy

Latin: Hedera Helix (Common, or True, Ivy)

Other Names: Winter-grunt, Winter-green, Kissos.

Traditional Medinial Uses: Employed for corns, plagues, spasms, rheumatism, lice and vermin, disorders of the spleen, whooping cough, neuralgic toothache, sore and smarting eyes, severe headache and hangover.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: The plant is conspicuously green even during the coldest months of winter, and the flowers have no scent, both of these are seen as Otherworldly properties. The later custom among the common folk of decorating houses and churches at Christmastide with ivy was discouraged as being 'Pagan'. Ivy was especially used for the protection of flocks; wreaths or magic hoops of ivy (with rowan and woodbine) were woven to stand under or around milk containers. The bruised plant destroys lice and vermin.

Other Uses and Associations: The gum was employed as one of the first fillings for teeth. Ivy has always been associated with alcohol, perhaps because of its ability to cure hangover coupled with the fact that it was employed in the making of ale.

Tested Properties: Contains balsamic resin and aromatic gum. Mildly aperient. Astringent, Aromatic, Bitter.

Juniper

Latin: Juniperus oxycoedrus

Other Names: Arkenthos.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: The berries and fragrant tops of the plant are most often employed medicinally. Used against affectations of the kidney and stomach, dropsy, catarrh of the urinary passages, painful swellings (rheumatic and neuralgic), cough, epilepsy, indigestion, stones, ulcers of the flesh and chaps of the hands and feet, psoriasis eczema. The odour of the branches was thought to promote sleep.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: The berries were believed to have protective properties, and branches were burnt in Highland homes for purification. Also burnt, in the Highlands, in New Year's pyres. The smoke of the leaves and wood was believed to drive away harm and pestilence. The odour of juniper is thought to defeat the hunting hound's sense of smell, and it is said that hares will hide under a juniper from a dog giving chase - this has led to the tree being regarded as a sanctuary and a symbol of aid in distress. In Italy stables are protected from thunderbolts and demons with a sprig of juniper.

Other Uses and Associations: The berries are used in confections and in flavouring gin. The tree exhudes balsamic and antiseptic odours and has often been planted near dwellings for this reason.

Tested Properties: Bitter, Aromatic, Mucilaginous. A diuretic.

Leek

Latin: Allium porrum

Other Names: Prason.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Considered effective against kidney ailments, calcification, chilblains, chapped hands, and sore eyes.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: It's commonly believed that leeks promote fruitfulness.

Other Uses and Associations: Obviously, the leek is a very popular food of widespread use. Larks are attracted to the plant. Among Welsh farmers a neighbourly custom exists whereby several will gather and plow the field of a poor proprietor, each bringing a few leeks for a broth. Symbolical of Wales.

Tested Properties: Stimulating and expectorant. Nutritive. Contains sulphur.

Lichen

Scottish Gaelic: dubh cosac

Latin: There are many varieties of lichens, those of the greatest medicinal value are Irish Moss Chondrus crispus, Oister-green Lichen marinum, and Iceland Moss.

Other Names: For Irish Moss; Carrageen.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Considered good for the heart. Employed against pulmonary consumption with bleeding from the lungs, gout, chronic sore throat, dysentery, diabetes, atrophy, and weakness of the back.

Other Uses and Associations: All of these types of lichens are used in cooking. Irish Moss is often cooked as blancmange or made into pudding, sweetened with lemon rind, sugar and ratafia. Iceland Moss is made into cakes, bread, broth, and jelly.

Tested Properties: Mucilaginous, Nutritive, Bitter. Iodine-rich.

Marigold

Latin: Chrysanthemum segetum

Other names: Corn Marigold, Mary Gowles, Bigold, Buddle, Boodle, Ruddles, Yellow Ox-eye.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: As a treatment for night sweats, fever, spasms, contusions, wounds, simple sores and ulcers, chronic vomiting, suppurative discharges and drainings, burns, and all breaches of the skin surface.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: The herb was used to make protective wreaths or magical hoops. Marigold is one of the herbs believed to strip a witch of her will.

Other Uses and Associations: Milkmaids churned marigold petals with their butter to colour it.

Tested Properties: Astringent, Aromatic.

Milkwort

Irish: Gluinech

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Employed against warts.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: The herb was used to make protective wreaths or magical hoops.

Mistletoe

Latin: Loranthus Viscum

Other Names: Mistilton, All-heal, Vogelleim, Gui, Thunder-beson, Herbe de la Croix, Devil's fuge, Spectre's Wand.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: The dried young twigs and leaves are the principal medicinal components, employed against epilepsy, convulsions, and giddiness. It was thought to lessen reflex irritability and provide a tonic for the heart (as it strengthens the heartbeat). The berries, when chewed, provide immediate relief from stitches, and are still used for this by country folk.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: Mistletoe is an evergreen parasite that grows on deciduous trees; the plant most favoured by the druids attached itself to the Oak (it was said that the mistletoe was the visible soul of the Oak), and Oaks sporting mistletoe are most sacred. Both its parasitic nature, and its bright colouring in winter, were seen as evidence of its magical nature. It was hung in houses for protection, and credited with endowing fertility to all animals. Mistletoe was harvested in a ritual fashion - those who meddled with it without respect were said to be struck blind in one eye, or lame in one leg, or to shortly suffer terrible injury to a limb. Mistletoe is never to be seen in modern churches, with the exception of a sculpted rendering of mistletoe in a tomb in Bristol Cathedral. Rites which involve holding a branch of mistletoe are believed to compell a spectre to appear and speak.

Other Uses and Associations: A bird-lime is made from the viscin. Thrushes are attracted to mistletoe and are largely responsible for disseminating the parasitic plant.

Tested Properties: Mucinaginous, Astringent, Aromatic, Bitter.

Mullein

Scottish Gaelic: lus mor

Latin: Verbascum Thapsus

Other Names: Great Herb (in Scotland), Hedge Taper, Torch, Candela, Cendela Regia, Candelaria, Plant of the Lord, Adam's Flannel, Blanket, Shepherd's Club, Aaron's Rod, Cuddie's Lungs, Feldwode, Cow's Lung Wort, Hare's Beard, Jupiter's Staff, Ladies' Foxglove, Velvet Dock, Bullock's Lung Wort.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: The plant is widely used in Ireland and Scotland against the symptoms of pulmonary consumption/tubercular lung disease. Also used for gout, falling sickness, hair loss, cramps, megrins, cough, asthma, migraine, ringworm, ear infection and consequent deafness, itching eczema, otorrhoea, enuresis, frost-bite, bruises, piles, and for 'troublesome evils of the fundament'. Famed in Celtic countries for curing cattle of 'the scab' and lung diseases.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: Widely used in folk magic. The herb is credited with being able to being back children abducted by the Sidhe. A small bit of the plant, taken regularly, is believed to ensure long life. Staves off the putrification of fish, which was seen as evidence of magical properties. The plant was used as a torch at funerals and other gatherings.

Other Uses and Associations: Used as a hair dye (blonde).

Tested Properties: Bitter, Mucilaginous, Aromatic. Antibacterial.

Orchis, Purple

Scottish Gaelic: lus an Talaidh

Other Names: Herb of Enticement (in Scotland), Satyrion, Gethsemane, Long Purples, Dead Men's Fingers, Cain-and-Abel, Ram's Horns, Crake Feet, Keat Legs, Neat Legs.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Thought to renew exhausted vigour and vitality; used to allay hunger and to treat chronic diarrhoea.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: Considered to be a very magically endowed plant; used widely in love charms. The plant has two roots (one large, one small) which were seen to represent a man and a woman. These roots were used in divining the identity of a future spouse in at least two ways. In the first; with the thought of someone in your mind you picked the appropriate root before sunrise while facing south, then if the root sank when placed (immediately) in spring water the person in mind would indeed become your spouse. In the second divinatory method the root was ground up and placed under the pillow to bring dreams of your future mate.

Other Uses and Associations: A starchy product called Salep or Saloop was made from the tubers and commonly drunk before the introduction of tea or coffee.

Tested Properties: Nutritive, Aromatic, Mucilaginous.

Pennywort

Irish: Corn'an caisil, lus na pingine

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Brewed into a medicinal tea.

Pimpernel, Scarlet

Irish: Rinn ruisc, falcaire fi'an, or seamair mhuire

Latin: Anagallis arvensis

Other Names: Burnet.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Used for obstructions of the liver and spleen, melancholy and asociated mental disease, hydrophobia, epilepsy, urinary irritability, pulmonary consumption (in its early stages), and rheumatism.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: Used recreationally and possibly magically for its narcotic properties; used magically to imbue second sight and/or hearing in a person. It's usefulness in treating mental disease may indicate that it was formerly used as a remedy for enchantments.

Tested Properties: Astringent, Bitter.

Plantain

Irish: Cop'og Ph'adraig

Scottish Gaelic: Slanlus

Latin Names: Greater Plantain Plantago major, Ribwort Plantain Plantago lanceolata, and Water Plantain Alisma plantago.

Other Names: Greater Plantain; Waybred, Waybread, Waybroad. Ribwort Plantain; Ribgrass, Soldiers, Cocks-and-hens, Lamb's Tongue, Hard-Heads, Fighting Cocks, Devil's Head. Water Plantain; Greater Thrumwort. Known in Scotland as the Healing Plant.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Applied externally for broken shins, toothache, and sores of every kind. Taken internally for tubercular consumption, fevers of the Springtime, haemorhages, bedwetting in children, piles, vernal ague, swolen legs with dropsy, and hydrophobia.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: Used in divination (known in modern times to induce vivid, meaningful dreams when brewed in a tea); if hung around the neck of a child it would prevent abduction by the Sidhe. Toads were thought to cure themselves by eating the leaves.

Other Uses and Associations: The expressed oil of the seeds (a favourite food of birds) is used in place of linseed oil; the root is sweet and has great culinary use as a starchy vegetable.

Tested Properties: Aromatic, Astringent, Bitter, Nutritive. Antiseptic and expecorant.

Ragwort

Irish: Buachal'an bu'i

Latin: Senecio Jacoboea

Other Names: St. James' Wort, Canker Wort, Flea Wort, Seggrum, Jacoby, Yellow-top, Stagger Wort, Stammer Wort, Fairies' Horse.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Used externally for sciatica and wasting disease; taken internally it is credited with being a tonic. Thought to cure the staggers in horses; used externally to cure fresh cut young bulls.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: In Ireland this plant is dedicated to the fairies, they are supposed to gallop about on the blossoms at midnight.

Tested Properties: Astringent. Contains senecin.

Ribgrass

Scottish Gaelic: slanugad

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Thought to purge the body of any lumps.

Rowan

Latin: Aucuparia

Other Names: Mountain Ash, Quicken Tree, Quick Beam, Wiggen, Witcher.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: The unripe fruit and bark are used to check diarrhoea when taken internally; externally they soothe the throat and bowel in the form of lotions or poultices.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: The tree is believed to avert the evil eye. Crosses made of the branches and tied with red thread were worn on the clothing of Highland men; Highland women wore necklaces of the berries strung with red thread (both charms were for for protection). Mystical secrets were believed to have been carved exclusively upon this tree in the British Isles and in Scandanavia. Planted at the door of a house the Rowan afforded protection; twigs were also placed over the byre door. This was a tree often beloved of the Sidhe (although the location of a tree was important to the Sidhe folk; it had to be growing within a rath or fairy ring, in a rocky field of rough grass, or by a large boulder or spring); anyone who harmed, or even disturbed a tree beloved of the Sidhe risked their wrath (which often came in the form of illness).

Other Uses and Associations: The berries of the tree are eaten voraciously by birds, and are used to bait bird-snares. The berries make a delicious drink and jam.

Tested Properties: Nutritive, Bitter, Astringent. The fruit contains malic and citric acid when ripe. The leaves contain prussic acid and are poisonous.

Self-Heal

Irish: Tae na ngarraithe, du'ain'in an tseanchais

Welsh: Lluellin

Latin: Selfheal is a name given to several hedge plants, including Wood Sanicle Sanicula Europoeia, Prunella/Brownwort/Brunella Prunella vulgaris, Bugle/Middle Comfrey Ajuga reptans and Ladies' Mantle Alchemilla

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Often seen as a cure-all, but used specifically for internal bleeding, sore throat (with swolen glands), cuts and wounds, dysentric diarrhoea, and stones in the bladder. Considered soothing and comforting.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: Leaves were placed under the pillow to promote quiet sleep.

Tested Properties: Astrinent, Aromatic.

Speedwell

Irish: Seamar chr'e

Latin: Polychresta herba veronica

Other Names: Farewell, Goodbye, Forget-me-not (ancient), Birds' Eyes, Blue Eyes, Strike Fires, Mammy Die, Fluellin, Cat's Eye, the Paul's Bettony, Prize of Honour.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Used for scabby eruptions, gout, leprosy, coughs, asthma, catarrhs, pulmonary consumption, to stimulte the kidneys, to promote perspiration and reduce feverishness, against itching, and in the longterm to overcome sterility.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: The herb was sewn into the garments as a protective charm, although there is an isolated folk belief that if the herb is brought into a family the mother will die within a year.

Tested Properties: Astringent, Bitter.

Sphagnum

Irish: Sus'an

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Used for dressing wounds.

St. John's Wort

Irish: Luibh Eoin Baiste

Latin: Hypericum perforatum

Other Names: The Devil's Scourge, The Grace of God, The Lord God's Wonder Plant, Witch's Herb, Amber, Hundred-Holes, Terrestrial Sun.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Used for bedwetting in children, insanity, hypochondria, bleeding, wounds, bruises, catarrhs, injuries of the spinal cord and nervous system, to avert sickness in children, baldness, bed-sores, ulcers, lockjaw, sciatica, broken shins, scabbed legs, to ward off fever. Employed as a sedative and pain reliever.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: The sap is red and resembles blood. If anyone trod on the plant after sunset a fairy-house would appear and carry them about. Used on Midsummer, when picked under certain conditions and while uttering certain words, for divination. The herb was also used to make protective wreaths or magical hoops; St. John's Wort is on of the herbs able to strip a witch of her will.

Other Uses and Associations: Plant parts were used to dye fabric (yellow).

Tested Properties: Astringent, Bitter, Aromatic. A diuretic.

Tansy

Latin: Tanacutum vulgare

Other Names: Athanasia.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Used internally and externally for gout, roundworm, ague, spasms, epilepsy, bruises, strains, colic, hysteria, skin diseases, and to prevent miscarriage. Thought to purify the humours of the body, and to be especially good for the heart. Used to preserve dead bodies.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: Used recreationally, and possibly magically, to obtain a giddy high. It's usefulness in treating hysteria may indicate that it was formerly used as a remedy for enchantments. The herb's ability to drive away flies and its ability to stave off decay on flesh was seen as evidence of its magical nature.

Other Uses and Associations: Young petals were used to flavour cakes, puddings and omlettes.

Tested Properties: Bitter, Aromatic, Mucilaginous, Nutritive, Astringent.

Trailing Pearlwort

Scottish Gaelic: mothan

Traditional Magical Uses: Carried as a protective herb. Believed to relieve labour pains when placed under the right knee of a woman in childbirth. It was traditionally fed to cows to protect both the milk and the calf. The herb prevented the family members from abduction by the Sidhe if place above a home's door. It was also used by girls as a love charm; if you pull nine roots and knot them into a ring, then hold the ring in your mouth while seeking a kiss from the man you desire... the man will be yours.

Vervain

Scottish Gaelic: crubh-an-leoghain

Other Names: Dragon's Claw (in Scotland), Common Vervain, Verbena, Simpler's Joy, Holy Herb, Tears of Isis, Tears of Juno, Persephonion, Demetria, Frog-foot, Verbinaca, Peristerium, Juno's Tears, Mercury's Moist Blood, Pigeon's Grass, Columbine, Sagmina.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Used for ailments of the eye, thinning and ailing hair, sleeplessness, inveterate headache, scrofulous disease, indolent ulcers, and sore throat.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: A sacred herb associated with visions and prophecy; the flowers adorned altars (it was supposedly as favoured by the Druids as Mistletoe). The herb was also used to make protective wreaths or magical hoops, and was also an ingredient in charms for love. Vervain was sprinkled about the dining chamber as it supposedly made the guests merrier. It is without any odour or taste, which is regarded as magical or Otherworldly. The reputation for being Pagan has clung to the plant as it was regarded as surpassingly sacred in pre-Christian times; worn around the neck as an amulet (that rendered the wearer inviolate) and widely employed in rituals. A country belief holds that the devil revealed Vervain as a secret, and a divine medicine, to men. Vervain is supposed to strip a witch of her will.

Other Uses and Associations: Pigeons are attracted to the plant.

Tested Properties: Sedative, anticoagulant. Astringent.

Water Buttercup

Scottish Gaelic: fearaban

Latin: Caltha palustris

Other Names: Marsh Marigold, Mare-blobs, Marsh Horsegowl, Marsh Gowl, Marsh Golden Flower, Bublicans, Meadowbrights, Crazies, Christ's Eyes, Bulls' Eyes, May Blobs, Drunkards, Water Caltrops, Wild Bachelor's Buttons Verrucaria, Solsequia, Solsequium, Sponsa Solis.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: Marsh Marigold was considered a most effective treatment for weak bloodlessness (anaemia), and overall for bones and joints. Also used for headache, giddiness, coated tongue, diarrhoea, intermittent, small or rapid pulse, heaving of the limbs, fits, unhealthy eruptive skin, and warts.

Other Uses and Associations: Employed as a mild dye (yellow).

Tested Properties: Astringent, Aromatic. A vulnerary.

Yarrow

Irish: athair tal'uin

Latin: Achillea Millefolium, Achillea Ptarmiga

Greek: Stratiotes chiliophullos

Other Names: Holy Herb, Milfoil, Nosebleed, Gearwe, Sanguinary, Thousand Leaf, Old Man's Pepper, Soldiers' Woundwort, Staunch Grass, Carpenters' Weed, Bloodwort, Old Man's Mustard, Bad Man's Plaything, Devil's Plaything, Devil's Nettle, Militaris, Meleflower.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: The hairy filaments of the leaves were inhaled to cause nosebleed and cure headache; as well it was a famed herb for staunching blood flow in all forms. Also used for hysteria, flatulence, heartburn, colic, epilepsy, rheumatism, toothache, colds, internal bleeding, loss of appetite, ague, sore throat, sore nipples, heavy menstruation, piles, cuts and contusions, eliminates toxins. This herb intensifies the efficacy of other herbs when taken in conjunction.

Traditional Magical Uses and Associations: Widespread use as a love charm (when picked in a certain fashion while speaking certain phrases); hung in homes for luck. Worn in a little bag about the neck to bring the bearer success, and to bring about the transmission of magical secrets. Very famous as one of the herbs of the "Lancashire Witches", which one admitted to using to cure distemper and in divination. Brought by bridesmaids to weddings for 'seven years love'. Used in divination, especially weather. Considered a sacred herb; picked at Midsummer. It's usefulness in treating hysteria may indicate that it was formerly used as a remedy for enchantments.

Tested Properties: Bitter, Aromatic and Astringent.

Bright Blessings and Gentle Breezes!