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The Secret Names of Magical Herbs and Plants

Updated on April 1, 2019
Elderberry Arts profile image

Claire has worked with crystals, herbs, and various aspects of paganism for over ten years. She has also studied reiki up to master level.

Nature offers us an abundance of magical plants.
Nature offers us an abundance of magical plants. | Source

Herbs, flowers and other plants have been used in magic and healing for thousands of years. In magic plants can be used in almost any type of magic and each plant has its own set of correspondences that help in choosing which to use when. Plants can be used dried or fresh to enhance spells and rituals and many are believed to have beneficial properties when planted around the home. For example red geraniums and rosemary are believed to be protective plants that can help in shielding a space from harm so are good choices for planting in front of your house. Plants can also be used in creating healing teas, creams, balms, tinctures and other natural remedies. The magical properties of plants can also be considered when cooking and can be a large feature in some traditions such as kitchen or green witchcraft.

The ancient Greeks and Romans used herbs for many purposes including as medicines, cosmetics and talismans. A text found in China and dating from around 2800 B.C details the names and uses of over 360 different plants that were used at this time. Many of these plants are still in common use today in cooking or herbal remedies and teas. Plant and flower extracts or herbs also often feature in products such as shampoos, bath products and beauty products. Although we live many thousands of years after the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans and in a very different society, the healing and magical properties of plants does not change and we are still able to use this to aid us in many ways if we take the time to learn their secrets. Examples of magical ways plants can be used includes in spells and rituals, as natural medicines, in protection, attracting good luck or removing negative habits from our lives.

Herbs can be a powerful tool in magic.
Herbs can be a powerful tool in magic. | Source

Many of the plants and herbs that are used in magic are the same as those commonly used in cooking and will be familiar ingredients to many people. Herbs and spices such as basil, rosemary, ginger, thyme and allspice can all be used in magic with great success. There is also a great range of common plants, including those often considered as a nuisance and weeds that are useful and powerful additions not only to magic and healing but also to the food we eat. Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are one example that have many beneficial magical properties and can also be eaten. The young leaves are a healthy addition to salads and stir-fries that contain many nutrients such as potassium, vitamin A and Vitamin K. Dandelions are a diuretic, which is likely where the saying that picking them will make you wet the bed comes from and have long been regarded as an excellent digestive and liver tonic.

Common and ribwort plantain (Plantago major and Plantago lanceolata) are two other common plants that people believe to be an annoying weed, when it fact it can be greatly beneficial. It is excellent in balms and creams to sooth insect bites, stings and burns as well as being able to ease indigestion. Plants like these can be foraged in the wild or grown at home in your garden, pots or even window boxes. These can be used fresh or dried for future use. It is laso possible to buy them dried and ready to use.

Using Plants in Magic

Each plant has its own unique set of properties and strengths that can be used to enhance any spell or ritual being carried out. Herbs and plants can be used on their own as single ingredients or combined with others. They can also be used alongside other items such as candles or crystals or used in making teas, bath sachets and incense. Herbs can be left in bowls around the home and other buildings in order to take advantage of their magical properties or if edible, they can be used in cooking. This not only adds flavour and nutrition to you dishes but also creates an easy way for people to benefit from the magical properties of the included ingredients. Entire meals can be prepared with a magical aim in mind or corresponding herbs and other plants can be added to any food you wish. For example seeds can be sprinkled on salads or baked into cakes and biscuits.

Another common and simple form of magic is to carry a small sachet or piece of cloth tied up with string or a ribbon has been filled with herbs and other items. Each of the included herbs and other items such as crystals, nails, incense, coins, sigils and lucky charms are chosen based on the intent of the magic. These sachets have many names depending on the branch of magic such asroot bags, notion sacks, mojo bag, gris gris, spell bag or magic sachet. The sachet is filled during a ritual and there are varying methods of doing this depending on the tradition follow and the individual witch. They are then carried on you at all times or hung in an appropriate place. For example a protection sachet may be hung by the front door of your house or above a window.

Baked goods such as these lavender madeleines are a great way to weave kitchen magic.
Baked goods such as these lavender madeleines are a great way to weave kitchen magic. | Source

Other forms of magic, such as candle magic can also be enhanced using herbs, flowers and other plants. This can be done in several ways depending on what you have available and how comfortable you feel with each practice. One very simple way is to sprinkle corresponding herbs onto or around the candle you are using. Herbs, spices, barks, resins and other dried plant materials can be used to create your own incense blends that can be burnt during rituals, meditation and spell workings. These incense blends are often created with a theme such as protection, prosperity or good luck in mind and can also be used as they are without burning sprinkled around candles or added to sachets.

Dried flowers, leaves, whole anise or cinnamon sticks can be added to the outside of candles by pressing them into the wax, or by melting it a little so they will stick. This should only be done with larger candles so that there is no risk of the burning flame coming into contact with these additions. If you make your own candles essential oils extracted from herbs can be added to the melted wax. However it is considered to be potentially dangerous to add dried flowers and other plant matter to the wax before setting. Although this looks very pretty there is a risk that the plants could catch alight and present a fire hazard. This is because they are very light and so are likely to float to the top of the wax as the candle burns. If you use jarred or other container candles you can decorate the outside of the container with plant materials, for example whole cinnamon sticks can be tied around a glass container. This can also be done with twigs from trees such as rowan or willow.

The Witches' Secret Code

In the past and even today there are many people who do not understand or are fearful of witches and magic. Misunderstandings and misrepresentation have led to much persecution of those who believe in and practice magic and this lead to a need for witches to keep their beliefs, practice and knowledge hidden from others. To protect themselves and their practice witches began to use a code to refer to the ingredients used in spells and healing remedies. This also helped to ensure that others could not steal their spells, correspondences lists and other magical ideas and use them for less positive purposes and intents

Today some of these code names, such as eye of newt and bat’s wings may be familiar to many people from fairy tales and films. Generally films, stories and video games interpret these items literally and the characters are portrayed as having large jars of various strange items and substances or as searching for rare and unusual plants and other ingredients within the story. However these are only codenames for simple plants and herbs and do not refer to any unpleasant items at all. You will not need to be gathering any eyes, blood or wings to perform good and useful herb and plant magic. Witches work with and to help and protect nature and our planet so the idea of harming animals to do so would be unacceptable to many.

As knowledge and understanding of witchcraft grows many witches are fortunate to now be able to practice their beliefs openly without persecution. Sadly even now this is not true for all witches and any must keep the truth concealed, even from their own family in many cases. This is often referred to as being in the broom closet and codes such as secret plant names, the witches’ alphabet and runes can be useful methods of keeping information hidden. Even if you do not have to hide your practice of witchcraft or magic you may still wish to record your spell work and other information in a coded form. You may also like to include these secret names in grimoire or book of shadows pages relating to the plants or code in general. This can be useful for your own research and knowledge but of course, if you do this it means that any coded information within the book can be easily translated by others. One solution to this would be to keep information revealing the secret names separately from your main books or to keep it in your phone or computer instead of in a physical copy.

Thankfully witches don't really collect and use bat's wings, eye of newt or other frightful ingredients in magic.
Thankfully witches don't really collect and use bat's wings, eye of newt or other frightful ingredients in magic. | Source

Some of the secret plant names used by witches along with the plants more common name can be found below:

(click column header to sort results)
   
   
Agaric - death angel
Henbane - devil’s eye
Agrimony - church steeples
Holly leaf - bat’s wings
Alyssum - madwort
Honeysuckle - goat’s Leaf
Amaranth - red cock’s comb
Horehound - bull’s blood
Aster - eyes
Houseleek - from the foot
Asafoetida - devil’s dung
Hydrangea - seven barks
Basil - witches herb
Knotweed - sparrow’s tongue
Bay laurel - blue jay
Lady’s mantle - bear’s foot
Belladonna - devil’s cherries
Lavender - elf leaf
Betony - lamb’s ear
Moss - bat’s wool
Bladderwack - Sea spirit
Mugwort - old man
Briony - Snake grape
Mullein - graveyard dust
Buckthorn - bone of an ibis
Mustard - semen of Heracles
Burdock - beggar’s buttons
Pansy - bird’s eye
Calmus - sweet flag
Parsley -devil’s oatmeal
Carrot - bird’s nest
Pennyroyal - organ tea
Cedar - kronos blood
Pine Cones - teeth
Chamomile -blood of hestia
Plantain - adder’s tongue
Chickweed - tongue grass
Poppy - blind eyes
Cinquefoil - five fingers
Purslane - blood of Ares
Clover - semen of Ares
Ragwort - fairies horses
Coltsfoot - coltsfoot
Rosemary – dew of the sea
Comfrey - ear of an ass
Rowan - Thor’s helper
Common Plantain - Englishman’s foot
Rue - weasel
Couch Grass - dog
Sage - toad
Cowslip - fairy’s cup
Shepherd’s Purse - shepherd’s heart
Dandelion - lion’s tooth
Snapdragon - dog’s mouth
Dandelion Leaves - swine’s snout
St. John’s wort - goat’s ears
Dill - semen of Hermes
Tansy - buttons
Dill seed - hair of a hamadryas baboon
Toadflax - dragon bushes
Elder Sap - blood
Valerian - capon’s tail
Fenugreek - bird’s foot
Walnut - heart
Fern - skin of man
White Hellebore - semen of Helios
Foxglove - bloody fingers
Wolfs bane - wolf’s hat
Geranium - dove’s foot
Woodruff - master of the woods
Golden Seal - Indian dye
Wormwood – old woman
Great Mullein - hares beard
Yarrow - devil’s nettle

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Claire

Comments

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    • Elderberry Arts profile imageAUTHOR

      Claire 

      2 years ago from Lincolnshire, UK

      Thank you. It is always good to hear from like-minded people:) Have a great day.

    • Elderberry Arts profile imageAUTHOR

      Claire 

      2 years ago from Lincolnshire, UK

      Thank you. Happy to help.

    • profile image

      Arnay Rumens 

      2 years ago

      Claire it was great to read someone who is informed for a change.. I have always known the truth and various names..

      I agree on point regarding persecution of witches, typical though. Great piece of writing and thank you )o( :)

    • cherrycrime26 profile image

      January Moon 

      2 years ago from NY, Now Living in Atlanta Ga

      Wonderful Hub, I've been practicing a while now and never knew the secret names, thank you!

    • Elderberry Arts profile imageAUTHOR

      Claire 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, UK

      Yes, definitely a relief! Thank you. Hope you have a good day.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 

      4 years ago

      I am so relieved to find that we do not have to remove Newt Gingrich's eyes to do magic!

      You just got voted up for divulging the most unique information I suspect I will hear all day.

    • Elderberry Arts profile imageAUTHOR

      Claire 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, UK

      Thank you, glad you enjoyed reading. I totally agree, those who persecute others are often more of a threat themselves but people cannot see it. I am hoping to grow more of my own herbs this year so that I can be around, work with and preserve them for later use.

    • Karine Gordineer profile image

      Karine Gordineer 

      4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Very interesting Hub Claire. I also work with plants primarily medicinally but also magically. Often people don't realize how the two really go together. Some herbalists feel that to truly be an herbalist you need to also know and understand the energetics or "magic" of a plant and I agree. Coming from differing lineages, Native American, Ukrainian, Celtic I see this on different levels. Love working with magical herbalism and teaching! So glad you mentioned about the persecution of witches...so true. Ironically those that would fear and kill them are certainly more violent themselves. Again, thank you for a great hub. Enjoyed your writing style as well.

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