Monday, 4 January 2016

some Heathen herb-lore

Nettle derives its name from the Anglo-Saxon 'noedl' meaning 'needle'. The plant is sacred to Thunor, and was thrown onto fires during thunder-storms to invoke protection. The nettle is rich in copper, which when fermented can give ale a rich red copper colour.

Lady’s Bedstraw is a yellow flowering plant found across Europe. The flowers are used to coagulate milk for the manufacturing of cheese, and are what gives ‘Double Gloucester’ its colour. The plant was also used as an aid during childbirth, where it was used as a sedative. Also called Frigg’s Grass, the plant is sacred to Frigg.

St John’s Wort is a beautiful plant with bright yellow flowers which reflect the Sun’s glory. Used as an anti-depressant it is sacred to Baldaeg.  ‘Wort’ derives from the Old English wyrt, which is Anglo-Saxon for “useful pot-herb”. The best time to pick ‘Baldaeg’s Wort’ is on the Summer Sun-Wend (Solstice), the day sacred to Baldaeg.

Woad is the plant where the blue dye used as a ritual War-paint comes from. Though most people would normally connect Woad to the ‘celts’, the plant is clearly sacred to Woden, the Furor (frenzied one). The blue dye was rubbed into the skin and used to invoke Woden’s fury before battle. Excavations show that Woad as being used in dye shops in Viking age York. The chemical name for the dye extracted from Woad is called “indigo”. Indigo is the colour sacred to Woden. Woad is nowadays used in treatments against cancer.

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