Tag Archives: St John’s wort

Age-Old Herbs Heal the Body & Lift the Spirit


“Man is ill because he is never still.” ~Paracelsus

“Every simple plant remedy is blessed and gifted by GOD and its Handmaiden nature to such an extent, that according to it’s own nature and way, it has the power to heal, strengthen, allay pain, cool, warm up, purge, and sweat.” ~Heironymus Bock, Kreuterbuch

*Image of St. John’s Wort~

“And because the Breath of Flowers is farre Sweeter in the Aire (where it comes and Gose, like the Warbling of Musick) than in the hand, therefore nothing is more fit for delight, than to know what be the Flowers and the Plants that doe best perfume the Aire.” ~Francis Bacon, 1625.

“My gardens sweet, enclosed with walles strong, embarked with benches to sytt and take my rest. The Knotts so enknotted, it cannot be exprest. With arbours and alys so pleasant and so dulce, the pestylant ayers with flavours to repulse.” ~Thomas Cavendish, 1532.

“When daisies pied and violets blue, and lady-smocks all silver white. And Cuckoo-buds of yellow hue, do paint the meadows with delight.” ~William Shakespeare, 1595.

“Everyone in town and country had a garden, but all the more hardy plants grew in the field in rows, amidst the hills, as they were called, of Indian corn.” ~Anne Grant, 1700.

*Image of Lavender~

“Here’s flowers for you; Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram; The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun, And with him rises weeping…” ~William Shakespeare, 1611.

“Good morrow, good Yarrow, good morrow to thee. Send me this night my true love to see, The clothes that he’ll wear, the colour of his hair. And if he’ll wed me.” ~ Danaher, 1756.

“Let your food be your medicine and your medicine your food.” ~Hippocrates, Greek father of natural medicine

“GOD made the earth yield healing herbs, which the prudent man should not neglect.” ~Ecclesiastes 38:4

“A man may esteem himself happy when that which is his food is also his medicine.” ~Henry David Thoreau

*Shirley poppies in the forefront~

*Images of our garden taken by daughter Elise, summer 2011.  We shall see what delights 2012’s garden holds. Image below of favorite heirloom flower cleome.  Though not an herb, cleome is fragrant in a hot summery sort of way, and attracts fairy-like hummingbird moths at dusk.

Love Potions, Fairy Gloves And Mandrake Roots


“And because the Breath of Flowers is farre Sweeter in the Aire (where it comes and Gose, like the Warbling of Musick) than in the hand, therefore nothing is more fit for delight, than to know what be the Flowers and the Plants that doe best perfume the Aire.” ~Frances Bacon

My fascination with herbs is largely prompted by my absorption with all things historic and the thrill of seeing, touching, sometimes tasting, and above all smelling the same plants known by the ancients.  Herbs have changed little, if at all, over the centuries and offer us a connection with the past that precious little does in these modern days.  It’s pure intoxication to rub fragrant leaves between my fingers and savor the scent while pondering the wealth of lore behind these plants.

I hope my enthusiasm will enrich your lives with a deeper awareness of those people who dwelt on this earth long before us and to inspire you to plant herbs in your gardens or in pots on a patio or sunny windowsill.  My love of herbs and herbal lore spills over into my stories.

The following post is one I wrote for my blog that’s been reprinted at various online sites and in RWA® chapter newsletters and sums it up rather well.

~Time out of mind, herbs have figured prominently in mystery and romance. Shakespeare is probably the most famous author to incorporate the juice of monkshood as the deadly elixir in Hamlet.  Mandrake, the screaming roots in Harry Potter, made up the sleeping potion that sent Juliette into a death-like slumber.  Poor Romeo, if only he’d known before he drank belladonna, a member of the deadly nightshade family, or wolf’s bane. It seems no one is quite certain what the ill-fated lover knocked back.

Whimsical fancies sprang up around the shape of plants. The bell-like flowers of foxglove were thought to be the minute gloves that fairies wore, especially as foxglove bloomed in shady woodlands where everyone knows the little folk dwell. Commonly called digitalis, this now-famous plant is widely used to treat heart disease. But too strong a dose and bang––you have a murder mystery. In Pocketful of Rye, Agatha Christie favored a poisonous concoction made of yew disguised in marmalade. The author hid deadly hemlock in a bottle of cold beer in Five Little Pigs.

Many herbs also had romantic uses. The love potion in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been analyzed by a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in England. Doctor Sell thinks it was made up of heart’s ease (violas) blended with the sweetness of musk roses. In the play, Oberon drops the flowery decoction onto the eyelids of the sleeping Titania, but the good doctor cautions against trying this at home. Rather, opt for the nape of the neck or the décolleté. Men just love the décolleté––breasts pushed up by a tightly drawn corset for those of you who didn’t realize.

Speaking of romance, it was thought that a young maiden could toss a sprig of St. John’s Wort over her shoulder and soon learn the name of the man she was to marry. Leafy branches of this herb were also hung in windows to ward off evil spirits and burnt to protect against devils, goblins and witches. Bear this in mind, if you’re troubled by them. Legend has it that angelica was revealed in a dream by an angel to cure the bubonic plague. All parts of the plant were deemed of great value against enchantment. And don’t forget boughs of the sacred rowan tree to ward off evil spells.

Feeling timid? Anoint your feet with catnip tea to embolden yourself. Fennel seed is said to boost desire. Lavender is “of ‘especiall good use for all griefes and paines of the head.” For those of you who would be true, rosemary is the symbol of fidelity between lovers. Traditionally, a wreath of the aromatic herb was worn by brides. Rosemary is also the herb of remembrance left at the grave of loved ones.

Historical writers, especially, can incorporate the use of herbs to flavor their stories, as do I. But anyone can mix in a love potion or fatal elixir to spice up the usual suspects in a suspense or murder mystery. ~

I’m teaching an online class in May for Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, open to anyone. If interested click this link and scroll down to the info on my class: http://www.celtichearts.org/ workshops.html

“What Can Kill, Can Cure.”~


Intermingled with the lovely, poetic quotes are the simple Old herbal sayings. I enjoy both and hope you will take pleasure in this sampling.

What can kill , can cure.

The intense perfumes of the wild herbs as we trod them underfoot made us feel almost drunk.  ~Jacqueline du Pre

More in the garden grows , than the witch knows.

Sell your coat and buy betony.

Thine eyes are springs in whose serene And silent waters heaven is seen. Their lashes are the herbs that look On their young figures in the brook. ~William C. Bryant

No ear hath heard no tongue can tell, The vitue of the pimpernel

Treoil , vervain , st. John’s wort dill
Hinder Witches of all their will .

“The air was fragrant with a thousand trodden aromatic herbs, with fields of lavender, and with the brightest roses blushing in tufts all over the meadows…” ~William Cullen Bryant

“Here’s flowers for you; Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram; The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun, And with him rises weeping…”~William Shakespeare, 1611.

Where Rosemary grows , the missus is master .


Be silent as the sacred oak!~

Sow fennel , Sow sorrow .

And because the Breath of Flowers is farre Sweeter in the Aire (where it comes and Gose, like the Warbling of Musick) than in the hand, therefore nothing is more fit for delight, than to know what be the Flowers and the Plants that doe best perfume the Aire. ~ Francis Bacon, 1625.

Only the wicked grow parsley.

Plant your sage and rue together,
The sage will grow in any weather .

Snakes will not go  Where geraniums grow.

My gardens sweet, enclosed with walles strong, embarked with benches to sytt and take my rest. The Knotts so enknotted, it cannot be exprest. With arbours and alys so pleasant and so dulce, the pestylant ayers with flavours to repulse. ~Thomas Cavendish, 1532.

Where the yarrow grows , there is one who knows .

If ye would herbal magic make
Be sure the spell in rhyme be spake

Woe to the lad  without a rowan tree-god.

When daisies pied and violets blue, and lady-smocks all silver white. And Cuckoo-buds of yellow hue, do paint the meadows with delight. ~William Shakespeare, 1595.

Rowan tree and red-thread
Put the witches to their speed

Eat an apple going to bed , make the doctor beg his bread .

The fair maid who , the first of May
Goes to the fields at break of day
And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree ,
Will ever after handsome be .

What is Paradise? But a Garden, an Orchard of Trees and Herbs, full of pleasure, and nothing there but delights. ~William Lawson, 1618.

Flowers out of season , sorrow without reason .

He would live for aye , must eat sage in May .

One to rot , one to grow
One for the pigeon and one for the crow .

Women with child that eat quinces will bear wise children. ~Dodoens, 1578.

St. John’s wort and cyclamen in your bed-chambers keep ,
From evil spells and witcheries , To guard you in your sleep .

I borage , give courage .

“Good morrow, good Yarrow, good morrow to thee. Send me this night my true love to see, The clothes that he’ll wear, the colour of his hair. And if he’ll wed me…” ~Danaher, 1756.

No mistletoe , no luck .

Faerie-Folks , Are in old oaks .

“There’s fennel for you, and columbines; there’s rue for you; and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’Sundays.”
William Shakespeare, ‘Hamlet’

“Much Virtue in Herbs, little in Men.”
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Poor Richard’s Almanac