From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet, Butchers Broom

By Isabella @TheWandCarver
Instagram: @thewandcarver

In the 17th century, the English herbalist Nicholas Culpepper used Butcher’s Broom to help the healing of fractured bones. And it has been used in medicine ever since for a variety of reasons, one most important reason is as an anti-inflammatory drug. Butcher’s Broom is a shrub naturalised to England/UK, growing wild all over Europe and northern Asia and found growing happily wherever there is sandy soil. It is found natively in the Mediterranean, Iran, the Azores islands and parts of Africa. And now, Box Holly has become sparsely naturalised in North America, wherever there is sandy soil, I am sure. But I am here to dig up some magick on the fabulous Butcher’s Broom [box holly].

Butchers Broom
photo from artimondo.co.uk

Magickal:
Butchers Broom – or my favourite, Knee-Holly, is used in protection charms. You may use it in any way you like. I find using the woodiest part in making protection incense may not be to everybody’s olfactory preference but the smoke calms one and it calms the animals in your home. The incense is also extremely good whilst divining by tarot, runes, pendulum, or any other forms of divination as it helps you to access your psychic powers as well as helps you stay calm and focused. The dried leaves are good to use in poppets, witch bottles, and sachets for protection as well as drawing healing and psychic powers to you.

To raise the wind: Take a small handful of Butchers Broom twigs and toss them into the air.

To calm the wind: Burn a small handful of twigs and scatter the ashes into the wind.

Remember – intent is everything in magick.

To Banish: Make a small altar besom from Butchers Broom. Write on a piece of paper what it is you want to banish from your life that you feel is holding you back. Burn small twigs of Butchers Broom in a cauldron along with your piece of paper until ash. Use your Butchers Broom besom to stir the ashes anti-clockwise whilst thinking of how this problem will leave you in peace. Naturally, make sure the ashes are cold first! Then, go outside and face North, get a few ashes on the “broom” part of the besom and blow them off, then East, etc. You can add your own words to this by saying something after each turn that will tell the Universe what your intentions are or just think them. If any ash is left afterwards, simply tip it out on the ground and give it a stamp with your foot imagining yourself free of your hindrance. So mote it be!

Butchers Broom dried
My dried Butcher’s Broom ~ photo by i.macy

Medicinal:
Not throwing caution to the wind [pun intended] but I shall say now: If you have high blood pressure, do NOT use Butcher’s Broom in healing yourself or others unless by sympathetic healing. Do not ingest.

In addition, it’s possible that butcher’s broom may interact with blood pressure medications and stimulant medications. So, if you’re taking either of these, you should probably avoid butcher’s broom.

From Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and English Physician, by Nicholas Culpepper:

For the Wrist Drop, and for the maw or belly, take two cups full of the ooze of this wort, which is named victoriola, and by another name, Knee Holly; administer it [to the patient] to drink fasting mixed with honey; soon it diminishes the wrist drop.

Additionally, English herbalist Nicholas Culpepper prescribed butcher’s broom to heal fractured bones, taken both orally and made into a poultice over the break. I should think we have come a long way since Mr Culpepper wrote this in his Complete Herbal, which by the way, is as useful today as ever, back in the 17th century.

Butcher’s broom is used for haemorrhoids, gallstones, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), and for symptoms of poor blood circulation such as pain, heaviness, leg cramps, leg swelling, varicose veins, itching, and swelling. Butcher’s broom is also used as a laxative, as a diuretic to increase urine output, reduce swelling, and speed the healing of fractures. The root is the main part used in healing, however, the leaves and woody stems are also boiled into tinctures, teas, and poultices for external use.

Today, Butcher’s Broom is known most widely for the way it benefits the circulatory system, especially for those with orthostatic hypotension (a drop in blood pressure when going from sitting to standing) and chronic venous insufficiency.

In some cultures, the roots are eaten in much the same way as asparagus.

There are several ways to get the benefits of Butcher’s Broom. Many people take it in supplement form, which can be found in pills, oils, and creams. As mentioned earlier, some people eat Butcher’s Broom roots like they would asparagus, although it smells and tastes much more pungent and bitter than asparagus.

Correspondences:

Gender:  Masculine

Planetary: Mars, Jupiter, and Mercury [primarily Mars]

Powers: Healing, Wind spells, Divination, Protection, Psychic Powers, Banishing

Element: Air and Fire

Astrological: Aries, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Pisces

Day: Tuesday and Thursday

Deity: Jupiter, Mars, Amon, Ares

Other Names: Box Holly, Sweet Broom, Knee-Holm, Petti-gree, Victoriola, Euscus, Knee-Holly, Kneehulver, Bruscus

Many thanks for taking the time to read our blog! We hope you’ve enjoyed it and hopefully learned new things. If so, please like our blog, give us a follow and share via the various buttons below. Warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:
Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England, by Thomas Oswald Cockayne, 1857 ~ A collection of documents, for the most part never before printed, illustrating the Science of this country before the Norman conquest

The Old English Herbals, by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde

Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and English Physician, by Nicholas Culpepper – reprint 1987 from 17th century

Wikipedia.org

Experience

From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet, Mullein

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Another fabulous wort you can use for free if you’re a mind to go wild-crafting is the wonderful Mullein. Yes, I know, any herb can be wild-crafted if you know what you’re looking for and if it is in somewhat plentiful supply where you live, but not all plants are. Mullein is easily found in Asia, Europe, and is a naturalised citizen of the United States when it was brought…as many plants and trees were…over on the ships of the early European and British settlers. Do be certain to ask permission if you find Mullein growing all around in your neighbour’s lawn…as it is a weed, after all, he or she may not mind, but don’t go helping yourself unless they say it’s alright.

photo by Sihiri Magical Market ~ sihiri.co.uk

Mullein has a very shallow root therefore it will be easy to pull out of the ground. Tie up by the roots and hang in a cool, dry place to let it dry out appropriately, but place something underneath to catch the seeds. Either use them or dispose of them properly or you’ll find your lawn overrun with Mullein in time should they get swept outdoors. The little fuzzy hairs which cover every inch of a Mullein plant are very irritating to the skin and mucus membranes. Use care when collecting, and always strain liquids with Mullein in them very well to remove the little hairs before ingesting.

Growing Mullein is easy enough and its little yellow flowers attract butterflies and bees. The flowers can also be boiled to make a bright yellow dye for fabrics. If you add sulfuric acid, it will turn the dye green and if you add an alkali it will turn the dye brown.

Mullein can be used in candle crafting as well. You can use it as the wick! According to Indian lore [I am assuming this is regarding Native Americans] Burning a stalk of Mullein protects against evil and magic.

Magickal Uses:
Whereas a spell calls for graveyard dirt and you are not able to procure dirt from a graveyard by any reason, you can grind and powder Mullein as an excellent substitute. Despite the many folk names for Mullein, it is, in magick, known as Hecate’s Torch or Lucifer’s Torch, as well; it is representational of the Crossroads. It is one of the nine herbs and resins we use in our Necromancer’s Witch Bottle Necklace which I originally created to use in my travels as a hedgewitch, because of its encouragement of manifestations of spirits, to see into Otherworld, and likewise commune with those who dwell there. If you like to create your own candles for your spell work, you could truly enhance riding the hedge by creating a candle using either a stalk or the leaf of Mullein as the wick.

Mullein can also be used for prophetic dreaming and astral travel whilst asleep, drink a cup of “Dreamer’s Tea” before going to sleep which is 2 parts Mullein flowers, 1-part Poppy flower, 1-part Mugwort, and 2 parts Spearmint. To aid divination by tarot, runes, ogham, or pendulum, you can either drink the Dreamer’s Tea or you may use a loose incense with Mullein. We have been working on a Necromancer’s incense blend recently which we’ll sell in our shop soon.

Mullein is also useful in preventing nightmares and is always protective of the dreamer. I love a sachet of Mullein and Lavender under my pillow for such a purpose. I don’t think I have nightmares, as such, but there are the odd nights when I have dreams that are not prophetic, nor astral travel-related…they are just unpleasant things that must be coming from my subconscious for some peculiar reason or other. I find the sachet quite relaxing and protective on those nights.

Medicinal Use:
Mullein is an excellent colds and coughs medicine as it loosens phlegm, is an expectorant whilst soothing the cough at the same time. The tea is also mildly sedating which helps you to relax and rest – which is one of the main things needed when you have a bad cold. If you are using fresh Mullein, be sure to strain through a cloth or cloth bag before drinking so the tiny hairs won’t go into your tea. Not to advocate smoking, but…I have read many times that smoking Mullein is excellent for sufferers of asthma and chronic cough. It’s best to roll it using a cigarette machine so you can use the filtered paper. Once again, you don’t want the tiny hairs getting into your throat and lungs making things worse. For earache or any inner ear troubles, it is recommended to make a tincture of Mullein and garlic then use a few drops in each ear. It can also be used to treat ear mites in animals. Make an infusion of Mullein for treating frostbite and burns.

Correspondences:
Planet: Mercury [Agrippa] or Saturn [Culpepper]
Gender: Feminine
Deity: Jupiter, Hecate, Lucifer
Element: Fire
Other Names: Common Mullein, Great Mullein, White Mullein, Woolly Mullein, Torches, Mullein Dock, Our Lady’s Flannel, Velvet Dock, Blanket Herb, Velvet Plant, Woolen Rag, Woolen, Rag Paper, Candlewick Plant, Wild Ice Leaf, Clown’s Lungwort, Bullocks Lungwort, Aaron’s Rod, Adam’s Rod, Jupiter’s Staff, Jacob’s Staff, Peter’s Staff, Shepherd’s Staff, Shepherd’s Clubs, Beggar’s Stalk, Golden Rod, Adam’s Flannel, Beggar’s Blanket, Clot, Cuddy’s Lungs, Duffle, Feltwort, Fluffweed, Hare’s Beard, Old Man’s Flannel, Flannel Flower, Beggar’s Flannel, Hag’s Taper, Hedge Taper, King’s Taper, Candelaria, Quaker Rouge, Graveyard Dirt, Devil’s Tobacco, Miner’s Candle, Ice Leaf, White Man’s Footsteps, Witches Candles, Witches Taper

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this blog and find it useful, please share it on Facebook, Pinterest, or by any of the useful buttons below. It’s my pleasure to share this with you! Warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:
Witchipedia.org
Experience
The Old English Herbals, By Eleanour Sinclair Rohde

From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet, Nettle

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Nettle at Clerk Hill, Whaley, Lancashire ~ photo by wildflowerfinder.org,uk

Nettle is one of those “weeds”/herbs/worts which almost everybody has in their cabinet, I believe. Even the non-witchy community love Nettle tea for what ails them. And, like Yarrow, it is practically free to use if you live in Europe or the Western United States as it tends to grow quite wild if not maintained.  For those knowing their plants, wild-gathering is the optimal way of having most of what you need in your wort cabinet. For the rest, there are plentiful ways of buying Nettle…dried, fresh, freeze-dried, even in pill and liquid form. Why do we need Nettle in our lives? For everything!

Nettle is full of vitamin C and iron. It makes a fabulous soup stock and steamed Nettle leaves are a great little side for the main course of your meal. Of course, there is always the famed Nettle tea, so as you can see, it has many uses in the kitchen, and more that I don’t even know about, I’m sure. Of course, before you decide to make a Nettle salad, you must know about the plant a little because those leaves, if not properly prepared, can do more harm than good. You have heard of Stinging Nettle, I am sure, and that is where the “sting” comes from – the leaves. The leaves and stems are covered with tiny stingers made of silica, like glass, and they break off into your skin when touched, unleashing their chemicals which can cause a nasty allergic reaction. I have not forgotten my first run-in with Nettle at about the age of 4 as Nana gathered it for her kitchen. I must have not noticed that she had thick, heavy gloves on instead of the little woolly ones like mine, so I tried to help. Pulling those little woolly gloves off doubled the agony, believe me. Therefore, please only use thick, heavy gloves and cover yourself well whilst wild-gathering Nettle.

Another household use, if you are so inclined, is to spin yarn or thread from the inner fibres of the stems. I know nothing of spinning yarn and thread apart from what I may have seen in films and television, but apparently, the people of Denmark once used it to create burial shrouds and the Native American people used it for fishing nets. It is said to be a very soft fabric when woven and a very strong thread or rope when used singularly. The all-round usefulness of Nettle doesn’t end there – a green dye can be made from its leaves and stems to dye the fabric you create from the Nettle itself.

But what about Magick?? Oh, alright 😊

Magickal Uses:
Long ago, a bundle of Nettle were placed under a person’s sickbed to induce their good health and healing. People believed putting things under beds was somehow a good thing to do, such as laying a knife under the bed of a woman in labour to reduce her pain. I know the knife didn’t work for me, but I could not say about the bundle of Nettle under one’s bed. Would never hurt to try! You can return to sender or reverse a curse with Nettle by using it in a poppet. Carry a sachet filled with Nettle for protection. Hang Nettle around your home or sprinkle it around, if in dried form, to ward off evil and to give general home protection. As Nettle is also believed to ward off lightning strikes, this can also be beneficial in that aspect. Nettle is always my first go-to for protection use and it is the first herb I put into our Protection witch bottles.

Medicinal:
Because of Nettle’s considerable amounts of iron, it is a good wort for those with anaemia. Word of caution: If you are going to drink Nettle tea to discourage your iron deficiency, be sure to not continue taking iron tablets. Too much iron can cause more problems than deficiency can. It is best to use the fresh leaves and not the dried herb, although there are still health benefits to the dried herb. Fresh is always best. Nettle tea is also an excellent diuretic.

Nettle is another wort that is very useful to staunch the flow of blood from a wound, much like Yarrow. As a matter of fact, Nettle and Yarrow seem to go hand-in-hand in many concoctions and decoctions for health and magickal purposes. Topically, a poultice of nettle leaf can be used to soothe the heat and inflammation associated with burns.

Correspondences:
Gender: Masculine
Planet: Mars
Zodiac: Scorpio
Element: Fire
Powers: Consecration, Exorcism, Healing, Lust, Protection, Anti-Sorcery, Hex Breaking, Uncrossing
Other Names: Stinging Nettle, Sting Weed, Common Nettle
Deity: Apollo, Freya, Hecate, Ra, Thor

Many thanks for reading, please share if you enjoyed, and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:
http://www.witchipedia.com/herb:stinging-nettle
Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs, by Scott Cunningham
The Old English Herbals, by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde
Experience

From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet, Yarrow

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Yarrow - permaculture co uk
white Yarrow ~ from permaculture.co.uk

Yarrow. Did you know, is a relative of the Daisy? And, it may not only be white, but it can also be pink or yellow. Its medicinal use is far-reaching into the past, but it is still a go-to herb for today. Yarrow is another wort with which I employ most often in my herbal work. What is most wonderful is that Yarrow can be one of the “cheapest” worts you’ll have in your cabinet as it grows wild all over the world, pretty much, and if you learn to identify it properly, you can harvest your own just by taking a walk in the countryside. However, you must be careful to take only what you need and not over-harvest, for plants need to be left to carry on propagation to ensure that more will be available to all. Not to mention, its flowers are essential to our bees – butterflies and wasps love it and all. Yarrow flowers from June to August, sometimes into October, in the UK. Harvest the leaves in Spring, the flowers from July – September when just opening. This from permaculture.co.uk may be useful to you in learning to identifying and harvesting herbs:

“New, affordable courses, designed for people wanting to deepen their understanding of wild plants, as well as sharpening their plant identification skills, are now available through my new foraging group http://www.meetup.com/Wild-food-and-medicine-Foraging-Apprentices

A number of bite-size foraging videos will give you a taster http://www.youtube.com/ipsophyto777”

For more from Christopher Hope visit www.wildplantguide.co.uk

pink Yarrow ~from JacksonNurseries.co.uk

Medicinal Use:
Yarrow has been called a pharmacy in one plant. It is an anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, diuretic, diaphoretic, astringent, expectorant, and vulnerary in one. It was used on battlefields to staunch the flow of blood from wounds received in battle, saving countless lives as both a cleaning astringent and an anti-septic keeping away the possibility of infection. Yarrow was found amongst other medicinal herbs in a Neanderthal burial site in Iraq, which dates from around 60,000 BC, therefore, it has been in aid of humanity for quite a number of years!

If fever did take hold, despite the precautions, Yarrow is a diaphoretic, and can reduce fever as well or better than today’s aspirin. It can reduce the pain of menstrual cramping, relieve heart palpitations, and acts as a diuretic as needed, as well as an expectorant for chest inflammation. Be careful to study the amount of Yarrow you may use for the illness you need to treat as even herbs can be over-used and cause more problems. Always check with your physician to make sure that it won’t counteract or increase the actions of pharmaceutical drugs you are already taking. If you are on blood thinners, please check with your GP.

**Please note: I am not a doctor, nor do I intend to treat anyone for any condition by writing about herbs. Please do use common sense and see a doctor before using these herbs and methods. If you are being treated holistically already, still speak to your doctor before adding any other herbal remedies to your regime.

Magickal Uses:

yellow Yarrow ~ from coblands.co.uk

Yarrow has been used for ceremonial magick for no telling how many centuries. Because of its healing effects, it was believed to be a very spiritual wort. Blood was the essence of life to people, and Yarrow could heal the loss of that essence. Naturally, it would be regarded as having much magick. People began carrying amulets and charms made with or carrying Yarrow to protect themselves against evil forces and negative energies. It has also been a go-to for love and the bringing of love into one’s life. And, it is one of the strongest promoters of courage out of all the herbal world. We love Yarrow… it fits in with so many of the things we create for our shop… when you buy a witch bottle necklace for love, protection, or courage, you will be pleased to know that Yarrow is used as one of the nine sacred herbs in each one.

For love: To guarantee love will last for seven years, hang dried Yarrow over the bed and use it in wedding decorations.

Wearing a little Yarrow in any form will help in seeking friends or a lover.

Yarrow will also help you to love yourself.

You can also use Yarrow in love spells by rolling your working candle in it, or using it in love poppets, or in a loose incense.

Psychic Abilities: Drink Yarrow tea before performing any kind of divination. Also, burn in loose incense whilst divining.

Courage: Hold or wear Yarrow in any form to dispel fear and feel stronger, more courageous. Can also be used in a sachet to carry with you.

Correspondences:
Planet: Venus
Deity: Achilles
Chakra: Crown
Powers: Love, Protection, Courage, Psychic Powers, Exorcism
Other Names: Milfoil, Soldier’s Woundwort, Knight’s Milfoil, Thousand Weed, Nose Bleed, Carpenter’s Weed, Staunchweed, Arrow-root, bloodwort, greenarrow, sneezewort, thousand-leaf, yallow

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings x

Sources:
https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/weeds/yarrow
https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/yarrow-and-its-medicinal-benefits
Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
The Old English Herbals by Eleanour Sinclaire Rohde

From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet: Vervain

Originally posted on 30/01/2018 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella  @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Having a laugh as I look through different sites regarding Vervain, the multi-functional herb which is used for everything from love to money to protection…and suddenly, I run across a website which says, in the list of metaphysical properties/powers of Vervain, that it “wards off vampires”. Tee hee. That wouldn’t be because in the American vampire love story series, Vampire Diaries, seemingly endless amounts of Vervain was drank, scattered about, worn, and probably bathed in to prevent vampire attacks…but in the end, it mattered not as the main character eventually chose to be a vampire, didn’t she?

Vervain is one of the herbs [worts] which I use in somewhat great abundance, as it happens, but never to ward off a vampire. Although it is good protection against snake bites…but not so much from people bites. And, certainly not in the great abundance with which it was consumed on Vampire Diaries. Still, should you purchase one of our witch bottle necklaces such as the Love Witch Bottle or the Prosperity Witch Bottle, you will have a pinch of Vervain in those.

vervain-indigo-herbs
Vervain photo from indigo-herbs.co.uk

Why is Vervain useful in a Love witch bottle …or for any kind of love empowerment or spell? Oh, let me count the ways! Firstly, Vervain is a Venus-ruled herb and a water element herb. It is sacred to Isis, the Goddess whom is considered to be the ultimate wife and mother. And, along those lines, as Isis is an Egyptian Goddess, in days of yore, the Egyptian people made love potions including Vervain…perhaps they still do, for all I know. It is a well-known, powerful herb for attracting love. But, did you know that it is also an excellent herb for helping those suffering from lost love and broken hearts? Burn it in an incense on a charcoal disc for helping overcome the pain of a break up, broken heart, and unrequited love. Vervain would make a thoughtful gift to anyone looking for love or trying to heal from loss of love this Valentine’s Day.

How is it that Vervain is so great for all matters of the heart and, at the same time, help draw prosperity and money into your life? Vervain is sacred to the Greek God, Jupiter. Jupiter is the God of the sky, but his planet is the one associated with money. According to the Seven Keys of Solomon, if you wish to do a money/wealth/prosperity spell it should be done on the day of Jupiter [Thursday] and in the hour of Jupiter [there are two in each day, one during day hours, one during night hours]. You can use Vervain, such as we do in a talisman, like our witch bottle, or you can burn it in an incense during your ritual. You can also use it in money candles if you are so inclined to make your own candles or you may roll a pre-made candle in a bed of loose Vervain after you have applied your candle dressing oil.

Vervain is also an excellent protection herb. Make an infusion with the fresh herb in water to use to wash and consecrate your tools and altar. Plant the wort around your property. You can use the Vervain-infused water in a spray bottle to spray your door sills to prevent negative energies and people from coming into your home. Wear it in a talisman around your neck or carry it in a pocket or pinned to a lapel to ward off negative energies around you. Make a sachet to place in a child’s cot to protect him or her and to ensure joy and intellect for the child. Albertus Magnus, in his Book of Secrets, offers a clue when he wrote that ‘infants bearing it [Vervain] shall be very apt to learn, and loving learning, and they shall be glad and joyous’. If you suspect psychic attack upon yourself or others, burn Vervain all around the person being attacked. Please do so carefully and responsibly.

Vervain is always its strongest when fresh cut at sunrise. Still, the dried herb itself is one of the strongest worts I’ve had the pleasure of using as well. It has the reputation of being able to greatly strengthen the effects of any other herbs it is used with. Because of this, the Welsh call it Iiysiaur hudol or ‘the enchanting herbe’.

Vervain was a favourite of the Druids, who gathered the herb when the Dog Star, Sirius, was on the rise, in the dark of the Moon. The Druids utilised Vervain in divination, consecration, and ritual cleansing of sacred spaces. They made a magickal drink called the Cauldron of Cerridwen [a shapeshifter] that some say included rowan berries, sea water, lesser celandine, flixweed, and Vervain, which brought the drinker creative energy for bardic song and prophecy; a drink made from Vervain is still said to help poets in their work. Vervain is also still used to make a drink for initiating into Druidic paths. It is fragrant and can be drunk as a tea or burned as an incense. In its connection with the Underworld, it can be added to a cup of wine drunk on Samhain to aid contact with the Beloved Dead.

Medicinal Use:

Vervain is advantageous for women. The herb not only enhances the lactation but also induces menstruation cycles. In addition, Vervain is known to invigorate the contraction of uterine muscles during labour and hence herbalists suggest that it is best to avoid using the herb during pregnancy. However, Vervain may be used during labour as it makes child birth easier.

It is useful as a diuretic.

The herb encloses substantial amount of tannins that makes it an effective astringent and useful as a mouthwash to treat bleeding gums and mouth ulcers.

Lotions or ointments prepared with Vervain are effective in treating sores and wounds, and valuable medication for insect bites and skin disorders.

Tea brewed from the herb may be taken to alleviate tension; to lift depression, lethargy, irritability and all other problems associated with stress  such as headaches, migraines and even the nervous system fatigue.

When used as a hot infusion [tea], Vervain functions as a diaphoretic and helps to lower feverish conditions by inducing sweating.

*Word of caution:  if taken in excess dosages, the herb may lead to vomiting. Vervain possesses verbenalin that is said to be a gentle purgative and is suspected to be accountable for the vomiting.

Correspondences:
Planetary associations: Venus
Zodiac associations: Virgo, Libra
Elements: Water, Earth
Gender: Feminine
Magickal powers: Aphrodisiac, Fertility, Consecration, Immortality, Love, Protection, Purification, Psychic Visions
Deity: Diana, Hermes, Medea, Aradia, Bast, Thor, Jupiter, Isis, Cerridwen
Part Used: leaves, flowering heads
Other names: herba veneris, herb of grace, verbena, enchanters herb, holy herb,
blue vervain,  Herb-of-the-cross, Pigeon’s Grass, and holy wort

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings x

Sources:

A Compendium of Herbal Magick, by Paul Beyerl, 1998

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verbena_officinalis

http://www.witchipedia.com/herb:vervain

Experience

From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet, Wormwood

Originally posted 23/01/2018 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

wormwood
from Botanical.com

Working with herbs very often, as I do, I got thinking, “why not do a series on herbs?” …particularly since recently blogging about wort cunning. So, in no particular order apart from most probably writing about what I’ve worked with most recently, we shall begin with Wormwood [artemisia absinthium]. The hint is in the name – what famous drink of the 19th century, recently revived by the Goth community, is made with this herb? If you guessed Absinthe, you win! As early as I can tell, the drink was made popular in 19th century France and became very popular in Great Britain as well – notably a favourite of Oscar Wilde – one of my favourite authors and generally favourite people of all time. The drink, as it was in those days, has been banned, however, and a new, less dangerous Absinthe became popular mainly with the Goth community in recent times. The 19th-century drink was dangerously toxic when taken in excess and since the traditional use of wormwood is believed to summon spirits and allow communication with the dead, there is not much wonder why some people claimed to see visions whilst inebriated!

Mind, we are not advocating the use of Wormwood for this kind of thing. We’re more interested in what it can do for us on a magickal level. Wormwood is one herb I use very often. It is an ingredient in several of our witch bottles, depending upon the powers needed. It is also an ingredient I use in one or two of our loose incenses. Those are still in testing and have not made it to the shop shelves yet. And, during my practise as a cunning woman, I have used Wormwood extensively for everything from astral travel to protection and psychic awareness. I must say, it is definitely one of my “go-to” herbs.

Magickal
The scent of Wormwood is said to increase psychic powers. Burn with incenses on Samhain to aid invocation, divination, scrying, and prophecy. It is especially good when combined with Mugwort and strengthens incense for exorcism and protection. Hung from a rear-view mirror, Wormwood is said to protect vehicles from accidents on treacherous roads. Wormwood is burned to gain protection from wandering spirits. It is used in divinatory and clairvoyance incenses, initiation rites and tests of courage and enables the dead to be released from this plane so they may find peace.

Wormwood is used to relieve anger and allow the user to vent it in a more peaceful way. It can also be used in magick to prevent strife or war. Carried in a pouch, Wormwood is protective. In ancient lore, people used the plant to counter poisoning by Hemlock and various Toadstools.

It is also used in love charms and spells to draw a lover, and is associated with the Lovers card in the tarot. It is sacred to the maiden Goddess, and can be used for scrying and divination as part of incense or perhaps a weak tea to drink before scrying, or a wash for the instruments used. It is used in women’s rites, probably especially those pertaining to rites of passage from child to a maiden – and would probably be a good addition to rites celebrating menarche. It is used in initiation rites, especially those prior to testing times.

An Old Love Charm
‘On St. Luke’s Day, take marigold flowers, a sprig of marjoram, thyme, and a little Wormwood; dry them before a fire, rub them to powder; then sift it through a fine piece of lawn, and simmer it over a slow fire, adding a small quantity of virgin honey, and vinegar. Anoint yourself with this when you go to bed, saying the following lines three times, and you will dream of your partner “that is to be”:
‘ “St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me,
In dreams let me my true-love see.” ‘

Medicinal
Wormwood is said to be useful in the treatment of some depression. It is very good for those who feel utter despair because of their life circumstances. It has some anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of chamazulenes, so it could be used to treat inflammatory digestive disorders. It is used to treat liver and gall bladder congestion where this has led to jaundice, and liver-related depression, lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting. As it is warming, it is particularly good for those who suffer from a depressed autonomic nervous system, leading to impaired digestive function. In addition to all the above, it can be used to treat diarrhoea and intestinal parasites.

artemisia_absinthium_200610_300
Wormwood

Some regard Wormwood as a circulatory tonic and stimulant – this would make sense considering its use to improve digestion. It can be used to treat nervous exhaustion and other nerve issues such as neuralgia and depression as previously mentioned. Apparently, it can be used to ease alcohol-induced hangovers although it may be better to dose up on milk thistle before you start drinking or simply not drink as much. This is another of those odd herbs that can be used to cure epilepsy but will also cause it if you use it in large enough doses.

Wormwood has a strong anti-bacterial property – the root, though not often used in medicine, is extremely powerful and useful to ease infections of the throat and lungs. It eases pain and is very cooling and soothing. It can be used topically as an antiseptic.
As an emmenagogue, it can be used to stimulate absent menses where this is due to uterine stagnation which causes delayed menstruation. It can also be used to ease painful periods. It is used as a pain reliever during labour and can be taken as a weak tea or applied as a rub to stimulate sluggish labour when contractions are too weak.
A rub made with the essential oil can be used to relieve the pain of arthritis and related joint complaints, though the oil should NEVER be taken internally.

Correspondences
Other names: Absinthe, Absinthium, Green Ginger, Old Woman, Crown for a King, Madderwort, Sweet Annie, Wormot

Planetary: Mars, Saturn

Element: Earth

Sabbat: Samhain

Powers: Binding, Psychic Awareness, Evocation, Love, Clairvoyance, Past Life Regression, Astral Travel, Protection

Associated Deities: Diana, Artemis, Aesculapius, Horus, Isis, Castor, Iris, Menthu, Pollux

Harvesting: cut the flowering tops off wormwood when they are in full bloom on a sunny day when the sun is at its peak

‘While Wormwood hath seed get a handful or twaine To save against March, to make flea to refraine: Where chamber is sweeped and Wormwood is strowne, What saver is better (if physick be true) For places infected than Wormwood and Rue? It is a comfort for hart and the braine And therefore to have it it is not in vaine.’

~ Tusser (1577), in July’s Husbandry

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources

Wikipedia.org

The Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham

The Old English Herbals by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde

Botanical.com

Experience

Wort Cunning…What is it?

Originally posted 09/01/2018 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Recently I was asked this question. I must remember that not everybody knows the old English/Welsh/Irish/Scottish words for things. To be fair, neither do I in some circumstances, but wort cunning is a very familiar occupation to me. To put it plainly, it is working with herbs and plants. That is the very simplest explanation, but it very slightly scratches the surface. Wort is an old English word for herbs and useful plants. Cunning is the art of working with herbs/plants [or anything] for the purposes of healing/leechdom, charming, protecting, and binding.

Still, this doesn’t fully explain, however, at least now we’re mostly all on the same page. To be a successful wort cunner it takes many years of study – reading and working with herbs and plants, trial and error; in truth, it is an ongoing, life-long mission. If you are fortunate, you might have a cunning parent or grandparent who can teach you much along the way. I was very fortunate to have my Nana for the first 22 years of my life to at least get me started in the right direction. I’m forty-plus years past that now and still learning.

I’m not trying to teach you how to suck eggs here. There are so many reading this who already have a fantastic working knowledge of wort cunning and the ones just starting out would do well to buy a few good books, grow some herbs, and get stuck into your learning experience. What I do want to point out is, just buying and growing herbs successfully, reading a couple of good books, does not a wort cunner make. You must learn when to plant and harvest, chants to say during planting, during harvest, whilst preparing for whatever purpose you have in mind, and other mysteries. That is if you want the best results.

from Google images

If you don’t have a wort cunner in the family, then what? It’s alright. The old ones didn’t, either. In many cases, the ones we’ve learned from as the information was handed down through word of mouth and if we’re lucky, published in books, simply made it up as they went, in a way. You wild-gather some plants or herbs…or buy little cups of baby herbs or seeds and plant them. Find out the right time of year to plant…the right planetary hour and day to plant and to harvest…care for them, and watch them grow. Read everything you can about the correspondences of the herbs and plants, such as their element[s], planetary correspondence, deities, zodiac. Also, read what each is or has been used for what problem by others. A very useful first book of herbs is Scott Cunningham’s Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs, 1985. It not only has herbs listed in it but also has a great deal of woods, flowers, and other plant life which have magickal powers. Another informative book to have on your bookshelf is a yearly Almanac. An Almanac is vital for those who are planning to grow all their own herbs and plants for your practise. Then, you must decide your reasons for working with the herbs and plants you’ve chosen…are you interested in herbal healing? What about herbal charms? Protections and binding magick? You may delve into as many reasons as you like for wort cunning but it’s always best to stick to one line of endeavour and see it through in the end.

Spoilt for Choice?

It is also useful to think about what kind of magickal herbalism you’re most interested in such as English folk magick…or Asian healing…perhaps you’re more into Voodoo or Hoodoo or Native American conjures. I hope you can understand that I don’t wish to tell you that you absolutely must do one or the other, you can do as you please, however, it is easier to pick a path and walk it well rather than hopping from here to there until you are no longer interested at all. In the beginning, you might have to try a few different paths to “find yourself”, but do keep in mind you will do best at one path in the long run.

Personally, I am not at all familiar with anything apart from English folk magick. I never had to make a choice, but I also don’t feel the choice was made for me…it’s just what I naturally evolved to which probably and most certainly was influenced by my ancestry. I am sure there are many reading this who are following a path for much the same reasons as mine. Still, there will be those who will need to try a bit of this and that ’til they know what they lean toward, and that is fine.

In Medieval times immense importance was placed on the rituals surrounding the gathering of herbs or plants for a “spell” and there were ones for everything imaginable whether it was for a protection, a charm to prevent or cure evil, or healing…in those days known as “leechdom”, a forerunner of what we know as medicine or holistic healing these days. If you delve into the old English herbal lore you will see that word a lot. If you can, order a copy of two of my favourite books concerning Medieval healing/leechdom. One is The Old English Herbals by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde, 1922 [last new publication in 2011] and Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England: Being a Collection of Documents Illustrating the History of Science in this Country Before the Norman Conquest, edited by Thomas Oswald Cockayne [Vol I, II, and III]. You will see for yourself how dedicated the old ones were in ritualising the very cutting of a herb or plant and how it all worked together to make the intended outcome “be well with him” as is often said of the “patient’s” health after the leech was finished.

A little example of what I mean by ritual, this excerpt is from my copy of The Old English Herbals:
Of periwinkle: “This wort is of good advantage for many purposes, that is to say first against devil sickness and demonical possessions and against snakes and wild beasts and against poisons and for various wishes and for envy and for terror and that thou mayst have grace, and that thou hast the wort with thee thou shalt be prosperous and ever acceptable. This wort thou shalt pluck thus, saying, ‘I pray thee, vinca pervinca thee that art to be had for many useful qualities, that thou come to me glad blossoming with thy mainfulness, that thou outfit me so that I be shielded and ever prosperous and undamaged by poisons and by water;’ when thou shalt pluck this wort thou shall be clean of every uncleanness, and thou shalt pick it when the moon is nine nights old and eleven nights and when it is one night old’.

This is a short example whereas some take several paragraphs with very descriptive instructions such as the day to begin the ritual, telling the cunner to sing the Benedicite and Pater Noster [clearly a Catholic cunner!], how to harvest the wort by “sticking thy knife into work, fast and go away”, go to the church and cross thyself, go in silence not speaking to no man, the sing the Benedicite and Pater Noster again, as well as a litany…and so on. It seems it could literally take a month in some cases to gather, enchant, then make the charm, poultice, salve, or whatever the case may be for!

Mind, these days we have learned to pare down our rituals for such things and everyone has their own way of enchanting their herbs and plants. Some Christo-Pagan witches might still sing a litany over their work, for all I know but most of us do not. You will find as you go that you will perhaps use things others have done and you will also start your own ways. Just like the old wort cunners of the past, we tend to stick to the methods which give us the results we need. And, like them, we should keep strict notes on what we have done and how it worked.

I hope this has answered a few questions and if not, please feel free to contact me. Most of all, I hope I have not confused anyone more than they were! Best of luck in your wort cunning and warmest blessings to all home this way wander x

Sources:

Experience

The Old English Herbals by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde, 1922

Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England: Being a Collection of Documents Illustrating the History of Science in this Country Before the Norman Conquest, edited by Thomas Oswald Cockayne [Vol I, II, and III]

Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs, by Scott Cunningham, 1985