The use of herbs has always been an integral part of the Craft of the Wise. Herbs can be used medicinally for humans and animals, as beverages, as cosmetics and as seasonings for food. Used medicinally herbs definitely do bring about results, not as quickly as drugs (an increasing number of which are being synthesized from plant sources) but with fewer, if any, side effects. It is important to remember that the old-time practitioner of the pagan arts was, in addition to being an occult magician, physician, mid-wife, and psychotherapist in the community. Thus, a good working knowledge of herbalism, as well as other means of treating disease through natural methods, was considered essential knowledge.
Many herbs, such as chamomile, sassafras, mint, rose hips, fennel, linden, shave grass, sarsaparilla, fenugreek, parsley, elderberry, etc. make good tasting teas and are enjoyable and healthful to drink. With regard to making herb teas, a general rule to follow is to use two teaspoons of the dried herb to one pint of boiling water. Let the tea steep 5 – 7 minutes .
Many persons interested in witchcraft and paganism want to know about “flying ointment”. Some modern witches are experimenting with flying ointments, but these are dangerous brews to concoct either in a cauldron or in a modern cooking pot. The ointment, made of some rather toxic herbs, has powerful psychedelic effects. The tales about witches flying to sabbats on broomsticks seems to relate to the fact that flying ointments would often cause the user to etherically project and he or she might have the sensation of flying. Among the ingredients of flying ointment are; parsley, water of aconite, poplar leaves, soot, bats blood, deadly nightshade, henbane, hashish, belladonna, hemlock and oil.
Flying ointment should be rubbed on the skin behind the ears, on the neck along the line of the carotid arteries, in the armpits, the the left of the sympathetic nerve, in the bends of the knees and the arms and on the soles of the feet. After the application, the user should sleep naked in front of a fire or a statue of the Goddess.
The recipes vary according to the source. Before trying any experiments the reader is warned of the poisonous nature of some of the ingredients.
One of the most popular “witchy” herbs is Mugwort. Consumed as a tea it is believed to facilitate clairvoyance. The crushed leaves, or juice, can also be rubbed on a crystal ball as a fluid condenser, Catnip is a time-honored sedative and is commonly given to babies in the southern states. Some good herbal tranquilizers are Valerian and skullcap, made into a tea either singly or in combination. Raspberry leaf tea is used commonly to help render childbirth easier, and it is even given to women in labor in some British hospitals.
According to Sybil Leek, from her studies of Gypsy lore, dandelion is a laxative and a diuretic and is good in cases of diabetes, kidney troubles, and female disorders, as well as liver, spleen and pancreas difficulties. Many health food devotees drink ground dandelion roots as a coffee substitute. To test for pregnancy, place a few drops of urine on a big coarse dandelion leaf. If read blisters appear on the leaf, the woman is pregnant.
Another useful multi-purpose herb is nettle. It is an excellent source of iron, so is helpful in anemia. It is also a blood purifier. The green leaves, steeped in water for a few hours, makes an excellent poultice to relieve neuralgic pain. For rheumatism rub the bruised leaves on the skin, and to stop bleeding, apply the boiled leaves externally.
Since this is the first of five volumes, there will be a chapter on herbalism in each book, so more information will be given with the hope that the reader will see fit to make appropriate use of them. Herbs do work. Over the past thirty years or so they have been supplanted in medical practice by drugs, because the latter do work more quickly and more dramatically, albeit often at great cost to the patient financially and in terms of side effects. Also, the use of natural healing methods isn’t viewed as “scientific” by the AMA and other purveyors of “modern medicine”. In England medical herbalism is a recognized profession and there must be several hundred practitioners. Training consists of an intensive course covering four years of study and clinical work.
The following is a glossary of terms used in herbalism. These words describe what the different types of herbs do and are used commonly.
Alterative – A vague term to indicate a substance which hastens the renewal of tissues so that they can carry on their functions to better advantage.
Anodyne – Pain-easing.
Anthelmintic – Causing death or removal of worms in the body.
Antibilious – Against biliousness.
Antiperidic – Preventing the return of those diseases which recur, such as Malaria.
Antiscorbutic – Preventing Scurvy.
Antiscrofulous – Preventing or curing scrofulous diseases.
Antiseptic – Preventing putrefaction.
Aperient – Producing a natural movement of the bowels.
Aphrodisiac – Exciting he sexual organs.
Aromatic – Having an aroma.
Astringent – Binding. Causing contraction of the tissues.
Balsamic – Of the nature of balsam. Usually applied to substances containing resins and bensoic acid.
Bitter – Applied to bitter-tasting herbs which are used to stimulate the appetite.
Cardiac – Properties which have an effect upon the heart.
Carminative – Easing gripping pains and expelling flatulence.
Cathartic – Producing evacuation of the bowels.
Cholagogue – Producing a flow of bile.
Corrective – Restoring to a healthy state.
Demulcent – Applied to herbs which soothe and protect the alimentary canal.
Deobstruent – Clearing away obstructions by opening the natural passages of the body.
Depurative – A purifying agent.
Dermatic – Applied to herbs with an action on the skin.
Detergent – Cleansing.
Diaphoretic – Herbs which promote perspiration.
Digestive – Aiding digestion.
Emetic – Applied to herbs which cause vomiting.
Emmenagogue – Applied to herbs which have the power of exciting the menstrual discharge.
Emollient – Used in relation to substances which have a softening and soothing effect.
Espectorant – Promoting expectoration and removing secretions from the bronchial tubes.
Febrifuge – Reducing fever.
Hemostatic – Herbs used to control bleeding.
Hepatic – Used in connection with substances having an effect on the liver.
Hydrogue – Having the property of removing accumulations of water or serum. Causing watery evacuations.
Hypnotic – Producing sleep.
Insecticide – Having the property of killing insects.
Irritant – Causing irritation.
Laxative – A gentle bowel stimulant.
Mydriatic – Causing dilation of the pupil.
Myotic – Contracting the pupil.
Narcotic – Applied to herbs producing stupor and insensibility.
Nephritic – Herbs having an action upon the kidneys.
Nervine – Applied to herbs used to restore the nerves to their natural state.
Nutritive – Nourishing.
Oxytocic – Hastening birth by stimulating the contraction of the uterus.
Parasiticide – Destroying parasites.
Parturient – Applied to substances used during childbirth.
Pectoral – used internally for afflictions of the chest and lungs.
Purgative – Herbs which evacuate the bowels, more drastic that a laxative or aperient.
Refrigerant – Relieving thirst and giving a feeling of coolness.
Resolvent – A term used to denote substances applied to swellings in order to reduce them.
Rubefacient – Applied to counter-irritants. Substances which produce blisters or inflammation.
Sedative – Herbs which calm nervous excitement.
Sternutatory – Producing sneezing by irritation of the mucous membrane.
Stimulant – Energy producing
Stomachic – Applied to herbs given for disorders of the stomach.
Styptic – Substances which clot the blood and thus stop bleeding.
Sudorific – Producing copious perspiration.
Taenicide – Applied to drugs used to expel tape-worm.
Tonic – Substances which give tone to the body producing a feeling of well-being.
Vermifuge – Substances which expel worms from the body.
Vulnerary – Used in healing wounds.
Herbs can be purchased in any health food store. In order to avail yourself of a larger selection, a list of stores in Chicago which deal primarily in herbs will be given.
R. Blumer, 3422 N. Lincoln
Herbmedicin Center, 3118 W. 43rd St.
Illinois Herb Co., 815 N. Pulaski
Larrabee Herbs, 1620 N. Pulaski
Dr. Michael’s Herb Center, 1223 N. Milwaukee
Micheal’s Products, 5109 N. Western
Monk’s Herb Center, 2924 N. Milwaukee