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Sarita
08-15-2008, 06:41 PM
Question, because I'm finding conflicting info.

Originally, I thought that the 7 sacred herbs in Druid lore were:


Mistletoe
Vervain
Henbane
Primrose
Pulsatilla/alpine anemone
Clover (not sure if this is red clover or melilot?)
Wolf's bane (aconite)
But I've found a couple references to St. John's/Mugwort. I'm wondering if someone is just confusing Vervain, which is sometimes called holy wort for Mugwort?

And several other resources (though I can't find supporting docs) say that Mint, Juniper, and Thyme are included in the 7 sacred herbs.


I positively know that Mistletoe, Vervain, and Aconite are among the 7. But the other 4 spots are getting cloudy!

Does anyone know for sure? Or perhaps know of a book that would be the SUPREME say in this matter?

Disa
08-16-2008, 03:01 AM
I don't know the answer to your question but, maybe this site can help(if you haven't already tried here)... I'd be interested in knowing the answer, as well...

http://druidry.org/index.php?module=PostWrap&page=board/dhp/index.php

Sarita
08-16-2008, 09:12 PM
Awesome. I'm going to post the question over there and see what I find out.

I'll be back! :)

Thanks

Medievalist
08-17-2008, 01:43 AM
Err . . . I kinda think it's all well, less than accurate.

St. John's Wort isn't native to Ireland; neither is Aconite. I tend to think that that makes them less than "authentic," if that matters -- it may not.

And while there are a couple of references to sacred woods, I honestly can't think of one for "herbs." If you see a reference to a ms. let me know, and I'll check the Irish for you.

It's also unlikely that seven would be used as a "special" number in things Celtic; five and three, or thrice three, are more likely.

PattiTheWicked
08-17-2008, 06:36 AM
I've not heard of seven sacred herbs in Druidry -- in fact the first thing that came to mind was the nine sacred woods of the Beltaine fire.

Birch - female energy
Oak - male energy
Hazel - wisdom
Rowan - life
Hawthorne - purity
Willow - death
Fir - cycle of rebirth
Apple - family
Vine - happiness

However, in Native American lore there are seven plants which are considered special (in some tribes, at least) -- I can't remember then off the top of my head, but I know that sweetgrass, sage and tobacco are included.

Disa
08-17-2008, 08:04 PM
Ok I pulled out my book "The 21 Lessons of Merlin A study in Druidic Magic and Lore" by Douglas Monroe. He makes reference to the PHERYLLT manuscript which apparently has a lengthy chapter on the 16 healing herbs which were the standards of Druidic medicine. Though I don't see any reference to 7 sacred herbs- it does list the 16 healing herbs:

Valerian(Phu)
Scullcap
Lady Slipper
Wormwood
Catnip
Hops
Black Willow
Echinacea
Chammomile
Marigold
Yarrow
Vervain(Brittanica)
Goldenseal
St. John's Wort
Buckthorne(Sacred Bark)
White Oak Bark

and Mistletoe would make a 17th , it does say mistletoe was a sacred parasitic plant which was added to all remedies and magical formulae(Druidic name: Uchelwydd, or ALL-HEAL.)


Anyway, hope something in here is of use. I don't know which references you've already researched.

Medievalist
08-17-2008, 09:52 PM
Ok I pulled out my book "The 21 Lessons of Merlin A study in Druidic Magic and Lore" by Douglas Monroe. He makes reference to the PHERYLLT manuscript which apparently has a lengthy chapter on the 16 healing herbs which were the standards of Druidic medicine

Disa--this is not at all an attack on you, ok? I suspect you've bought, and read, Monroe's book in good faith.

But.

Douglas Monroe is a fake, a liar, a convicted criminal and a charlatan.

The Pheryllt manuscript is a piece of crap, and neither authentic or ancient.

Monroe can't even read Welsh, never mind Irish. The herbs he list include herbs that aren't even native to Europe, never mind Ireland.

If anyone is seriously interested in Celtic paganism, ancient or modern, there are much much better places, and authors, than Monroe.

Disa
08-17-2008, 09:56 PM
Oh, I didn't know. Sorry.

Sarita
08-17-2008, 10:26 PM
Err . . . I kinda think it's all well, less than accurate.

St. John's Wort isn't native to Ireland; neither is Aconite. I tend to think that that makes them less than "authentic," if that matters -- it may not.

And while there are a couple of references to sacred woods, I honestly can't think of one for "herbs." If you see a reference to a ms. let me know, and I'll check the Irish for you.

It's also unlikely that seven would be used as a "special" number in things Celtic; five and three, or thrice three, are more likely.
Weee! Lisa! Thank the gods your here.

Okay, the book I've been using for basic scientific herbal info (this is for my WIP novel) is called The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism, Edited by Malcolm Stuart (1979.) It has a brief history of herbs, a couple brief references to magic lore, and then a comprehensive list of herbs.

My reference to the 7 herbs was from this: The Druids favored seven magic herbs of which the Mistletoe held a place of pride.

It has a mad-huge bibliography, but one is standing out in the history section. From The Herbal Review, vol 2, no. 4, October 1977, an article by G. Goodwin entitled, "Which were the magical herbs?"

I'm going to go digging around for it.

I've also been looking for digital scans or translations of the Leech Book of Bald (or even the Lacnunga,) which was written around 900AD and while it's a Anglo resource, I think the distribution of herbs would have been similar. Does that sound logical, Lisa?

Medievalist
08-17-2008, 10:37 PM
I've also been looking for digital scans or translations of the Leech Book of Bald (or even the Lacnunga,) which was written around 900AD and while it's a Anglo resource, I think the distribution of herbs would have been similar. Does that sound logical, Lisa?

Yeah. If you want help with the Leech Book, I know, vaguely, a woman who wrote her diss on it. i cna look around for an edition, or help with the Old English.

For Irish plant data, it's often helpful to check Fergus Kelly Early Irish Farming. DIA, 1997 (repr. 1998). ISBN 1 85500 180 2

Sarita
08-17-2008, 10:43 PM
Oh! Another question. Under the Aconitum napellus listing, it says that 13th century Welsh Physicians of Myddvai considered it an important herb in medicine.

So, that doesn't sound accurate? I totally think I'm in over my head, here!

Sarita
08-17-2008, 10:46 PM
Yeah. If you want help with the Leech Book, I know, vaguely, a woman who wrote her diss on it. i cna look around for an edition, or help with the Old English.
That would be fabulous!

I've been waiting for a copy of Kelly's book through interlibrary loan at PSU for a long time, more than 6 months. They can't seem to get their hands on it. :( I'm going to bug my friend Cathy, at the library, again.

Medievalist
08-17-2008, 11:00 PM
Oh! Another question. Under the Aconitum napellus listing, it says that 13th century Welsh Physicians of Myddvai considered it an important herb in medicine.

So, that doesn't sound accurate? I totally think I'm in over my head, here!

The physicians of Myddvai were a "hereditary" clan of physicians, and left at least one ms; I think they left several, but i'd have to look it up.

By the thirteenth century, though, the Welsh and the Irish had access to continental materials, like Galen, in Latin, and simply incorporated the data.

TsukiRyoko
08-19-2008, 12:30 AM
I'm usually pretty good when it comes to herbs, but I'm afraid to say that I can't help you on this one. However, if anyone else can find it, I'm curious to know about it now as well.

Carmy
08-25-2008, 10:14 PM
I know little about herbs, so excuse me for interrupting.

The Druids were around for a long time, so don't forget they came into contact with Druids from countries outside Britain. Most of their world was conquered by the Romans, except Ireland. Knowledge of herbs would be exchanged, even with Ireland, so whether an herb grew in Britain is a mute point. It all depends on the era you choose to write about.

And don't forget the Silk Road.