Magick Mondays: The Herbal Code

The herbal code is a legendary list of herbal names disguised by other names. Among the Witches of old there was a great deal of hidden herbal knowledge and lore. Much of this lore was kept secret due to the pharmaceutical properties of herbs and herbal combinations, many of which were dangerous in the wrong hands. Consequently a code was created to keep these recipes secret and to discourage their use by the uninitiated. The following list in part of the herbal code common to several traditions

· A Dead Man: Ash root, carved in a crude human shape
· Adder’s Tongue: Plantain
· Bat’s Wing: Holly Leaf
· Bat’s Wool: Moss
· Blood: Elder Sap
· Bloody Fingers: Foxglove
· Brains: Congealed gum from a cherry tree
· Bull’s Blood: Horehound
· Corpse Candles: Mullien
· Dragon’s Scales: Bistort leaves
· Ear of an Ass: Comfrey
· Ears of a Goat: St. John’s Wort
· Eyes: Eyebright or Daisy
· Fingers: Cinquefoil
· Hair: Maidenhair fern
· Hand: The unexpanded frond from a male fern
· Heart: Walnut
· Lion’s Tooth: Dandelion
· Skin of a Man: Fern
· Skull: Skullcap
· Snake: Bistort
· Tongue of a Dog: Hound’s tongue
· Urine: Dandelion
· Unicorn Horn: True unicorn root
· Worms: Thin roots

These animals called for the following herbs:

· Blue Jay: Bay Laurel
· Cat: Catnip
· Cuckoo: Orchis, plantain
· Dog: Couchgrass
· Frog: Cinquefoil
· Hawk: Hawkweed
· Lamb: Lamb’s lettuce
· Linnet: Eyebright
· Lizard: Calamint
· Nightingale: Hop
· Rat: Valerian
· Sheep: Dandelion
· Snake: Fennel of Bistort
· Toad: Sage
· Weasel: Rue
· Woodpeckers: Peony

When a recipe called for a certain part of something, the following herb was used:

· The Eye: Inner part of a blossom
· The Guts: The roots and stalk
· The Hair: Dried, stringy herb
· The Head: The flower
· The Heart: A bud or a big seed
· The Paw, Foot, Leg, Wing, Toe, or Scale: The Leaf
· The Privates: The seeds
· The Tail: The Stem
· The Tongue: The Petal

This article originally appeared in Raven’s Call Magazine Volume 3, Number 2, issued 2001.

Magick Mondays: The Herbal Code

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