Hawthorn (Crataegus Oxyacantha, also known as Haws, Mayblossom, and White Thorn) was medicinally used by the ancient Greeks (Dioscorides, a Greek herbalist, used Hawthorn in the first century A.D.), then it "went out of fashion" until the 19th century when an Irish physician included it in a secret remedy for heart disease. Years later the medicine was found to be made of Hawthorn berries, which are still prescribed by folk herbalists today.
Hawthorn is an herb of fertility and love. Because of the proscription against harvesting or cutting Hawthorn, any use of it should be with care. It has a strong Magick, but it should only be used wisely in a ritual context, in a way that works with the traditions of time, giving honor to the turning of the seasons, and giving honor to Mother Earth and her customs. When working within the context of this tree's lore, it provides a most desirable wand, but one must work with it's Deva. The Hawthorn is closely associated with Beltane.
Medicinal and Other Uses:
Hawthorn acts as a antihypertensive, anti-arteriosclerotic, antispasmodic, astringent, cardiotonic, diuretic, it helps normalize blood pressure, increases coronary and myocardial circulation, and is a vasodilator. It is used for atherosclerosis, cardiac arhythmia, congestive heart failure, hypertension, periperal vascular disease, and vascular fragility. Studies have shown that Hawthorn extracts are effective at reducing angina and of lowering blood pressure and serum cholesterol. (Hawthorn contains procyanidins which have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and size of cholesterol containing plaques in the arteries) It is also used for abdominal distention, angina pectoris, arrhythmia, arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis, blood clotting, Buerger's disease, cardiac disorders, diarrhea, dropsy, dyspepsia, enteritis, hypercholesterolemia, and hyperlipemia.
Heather (Calluna Vulgaris, also known as Ling, and Scotch Heather) is a plant that immediately brings to mind blankets of lavendar color covering the humid Moors of Scotland. Personally, I always envision Heathcliff on the Moors with his love, Catherine. If you've never read or seen "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Jane Brontë ("Space-sweeping soul, what sad refrain concludes thy musings once again?"), you've missed a real classic love-tradegy. ("Her spirits were always at high-water mark, her tongue always going...singing, laughing, and plaguing everybody who would not do the same. A wild, wicked slip she was, but she had the bonniest eye, and sweetest smile, and lightest foot in the parish, and after all, I believe she meant no harm; for once she made you cry in good earnest, it seldom happened that she would not keep you company, and oblige you to be quiet that you might comfort her." Thats a quote from Wuthering Heights describing the heroine, Catherine. The name Calluna derives from the Greek word "Kallunein" which means to beautify and cleanse, which probably derives from the use of Heather twigs as brooms, or from its medicinal properties for treatment of a number of internal disorders. The word Heather is thought to derive from the Scottish word "Haeddre".
Heather is an herb of immortality, and protection. Its Invocatory can be Isis, Osiris, or Venus. The Scots consider white Heather good luck, and they tuck it into bridal bouquets as a good luck charm. Heather is an excellent bathing herb. It is associated with Midsummer's Eve, and it is used to decorate the temple and as an aspurger. Some traditions associate Heather with Lammas, gathering it to place in urns to decorate the ritual site. Dried Heather is also brought into the Circle at Candlemas. Heather can be carried in sachets or charms to guard against rape. It is said if you burn Heather with Fern it will attract rain.
Medicinal and Other Uses:
Heather is a diuretic, sedative, and antitussive (An agent that suppresses coughing). Modern herbalists use Heather tea as a sedative to assist sleep. Heather blossoms yield a coveted brownish honey that, it is said, is added to Scotland's famous "Drambuie" liqueur. Heather can also be boiled to make a yellow dye. The dried flowers make a substitute for hops in beer.
Heliotrope (Heliotropium Peruviana, also known as Turnsole and Cherry Pie) got its name because its flowers follow the course of the sun. After opening it gradually turns from the East to the West and during the night turns again to the East to meet the rising sun. Thus it's Greek names: "Helios" meaning "the sun", and "Trope" means "turning". It is originally from Peru, but it was introduced to Europe in 1735. Some say it has a strong fragrance like vanilla or cherry pie. In the language of flowers Heliotrope means "To remain true", or "I turn to thee".
Heliotrope is sacred to the Greek god of the Sun, Helios. When a young nymph fell madly in love with Helios and could not turn her eyes away, she forsake all food and wasted away unto death. Helios took pity upon her and transformed her into the Heliotrope. Even today the Heliotrope "watches" the Sun throughout the day. Heliotrope may be used in any ritual of Drawing Down the Sun. Its useful for any Magick workings in which one wishes to strengthen solar aspects of the self, for it is sacred to all solar dieties. Heliotrope is also used for clairvoyance and exorcism. Place it under your pillow to induce prophetic dreams. It may be used in incense and healing sachets.
Medicinal and Other Uses:
Heliotrope is poisonous. No known medicinal usage. **GT** To avoid straggly growth, young plants and side shoots should be pinched off. Heliotrope is a good food plant for bees and butterflies.
Hemlock (Conium Maculatum, also called Spotted Parsley, Ciguë Tachetée, Spotted Cowbane, Poison Parsley, St. Bennet's Herb, Bad Man's Oatmeal, Wode Whistle, Cashes, Bunk, Heck-how, Poison Root, Spotted Hemlock, Spotted Conium, Poison Snakeweed, and Beaver Poison) is notorious as the poison used as a capital punishment in ancient Greece. The Greek philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death and died in 399 B.C. after drinking Hemlock juice. Its a very pretty "lacy" plant. "The Hemlock Society" is a modern day group dedicated to legalizing suicide and euthenasia...catchy name but NOT the way I'd want to go. Death by Hemlock creeps up from the lower body, paralyzing you until you suffocate. The name Hemlock is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words "Hem" (meaning border or shore) and "Leác" (meaning leek or plant). Another authority derives the British name "Hemlock" from the Anglo-Saxon word "Healm" (meaning straw), from which the word 'Haulm' is derived. A very deadly plant indeed.
Hemlock is a powerful herb of consecration, immortality, and a funeral herb. Lore holds that Solomon used Hemlock when consecrating his ritual knife. It is considered sacred to Hecate. Hemlock should be used carefully. It offers a very powerful type of Magick, one which is capable of moving the energy out beyond the abyss. In days of old Hemlock was used in "flying ointments". For those venturing into the astral plane, Hemlock is an invaluable herb to use for protection and grounding.
Medicinal and Other Uses:
In extremely minute quantities, Hemlock is a sedative and analgesic; however, medicinal usage should not be attempted by unqualified practioners! Homeopaths use it in tiny quantities to treat tumors and prostate problems. Hemlock is extremely toxic (the toxins are especially concentrated in the seed). I grow it cautiously, making sure no child, or animal can access it accidently. The toxins, however, are very volatile and decompose readily, especially when the plant is dried or cooked. The toxins paralyze the respiratory nerves causing death by suffocation. **WC** This plant is often confused with Wild Carrot (Queen Anne’s Lace), Anise, and Wild Parsley.... so be VERY sure of your identification before ingestion of the aforementioned plants. The best way to be sure is look closely at the stem, it is smooth (not hairy), purple-spotted, and hollow. (see the top right photo) **GT** Don't put it into the compost because dead stalks can remain poisonous for two or three seasons, and don't incinerate it (don't inhale the smoke). **In case of poisoning by Hemlock the natural antidotes are: tannic acid, stimulants, coffee, emetics of zinc or mustard, and castor oil, and, if necessary, artificial respiration. It is essential to keep up the temperature of the body until professional help can be reached.
"Brief let me be. Sleeping within my orchard,
My custom always of the afternoon,
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial,
And in the porches of my ears did pour
The leperous distilment; whose effect
Holds such an enmity with blood of man"
"Hamlet Act I, Scene V" by William Shakespeare
The above excerpt tells the sickening tale of how Hamlet's father, the King, was poisoned by the King's murderous brother while he was napping in his beloved orchard. The tale is told to Hamlet by the ghost of his father. The brother wanted the King's crown, wife, and kingdom...and obtained it all using Henbane.
Henbane (Hyoscyamus Niger, also called Gabhann, Hogs Bean, Bazar Bang, Devil's Eye, Banj Barry, Henbells, Jupiter's Bean, Poison Tabacco, and Sukran) gets it's botanical name "Hyoscyamus" from the Greek words "Hyos" and "Cyamos", signifying 'the bean of the hog,' which animal is supposed to be able eat it with impunity. The name Hen Bane came about because it was poisonous to poultry. It contains hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids, and it is used to brew the German beer "pilsner". (Its a member of the Nightshade family which denotes narcotic poison) In mythology, we read that the dead in Hades were crowned with Henbane as they wandered hopelessly beside the Styx. Henbane has an unforgettable scent, which is unpleasant.
Ruled by Saturn, Henbane is one of the traditional herbes of historic, medieval witchcraft. Henbane is an herb of consecration. It is most often used in the consecration of ceremonial vessels. The parts used are the leaves, which have been thoroughly dried so as to avoid any poisonous contact. Some add Henbane to Love sachets and charms to gain the love of the one they desire. An old folk lore tells of throwing Henbane into water to bring rain.
Medicinal and Other Uses:
Externally, Henbane can be very safely massaged into the spine as tincture, salve or oil, making an effective cerebro-spinal sedative, to allay pain and spasm. Henbane has been used for asthma, muscle spasms, paralysis agitans, senile tremor, and bladder spasms. **WC** Caution: Henbane is considered to have toxic properties. Fresh Henbane leaves have a fetid order when handled, which they lose upon drying. The seed is up to ten times as strong as the leaves. **GT** Older plants do not transplant well due to a brittle taproot.
Holly (Ilex Aquifolium, also called Tinne, Bat's Wings, Holm Chaste, Hulm, and Hulver Bush) has a history that goes all the way back to the Druids, who decorated their huts with it during the time of Saturnalia. Its name comes from "Ilex" which is Latin for "evergreen", and "aquifolium" meaning Latin for "pointed leaves". Many a Holly tree was spared the woodman's axe in days gone by because of a superstition that it was unlucky to cut one down. This belief probably arose because of the tree's evergreen leaves and long lasting berries, leaving people to associate Holly with eternity and the power to ward off evil and destruction. English Holly can attain a height of fifty feet. In Ireland the Holly was called the "gentle tree" and a favourite tree of the Fae. As pretty as it is to behold a word of caution, Holly leaves have sharp points that can pierce the flesh quite easily, so take care in handling it.
Holly is a countermagick herb, an herb of protection, and a funeral herb. In contemporary neopagan customs, Holly which has been used to decorate the temple at Yule is kept sacred until the fires are lit at Candlemas and then it is burned in the cauldron. Holly is an ideal herb to fashion into a wreath with which to celebrate the welcome of a new priest or priestess into the community. The wood of aged Holly makes an excellent staff or handle of a ritual knife. It contains Magick which can either attract or repel. Holly is often associated with death and dying, and is a good tree to plant near a loved ones burial site. Those who move into the mysteries of the Crone might press a Holly leaf and add it to their Book of Shadows. Holly planted around the outside of the home affords good protection.
Medicinal and Other Uses:
Holly leaves contain a bitter alkaloid, ilicin, and the tea has a pronounced diaphoretic effect, its traditionally used for treatment of fever and as an upper respiratory decongestant. If the fresh leaves are rubbed together in water they will produce a lather, and apparently the early Knysna woodcutters used this lather as a substitute for soap. Native peoples of North and South America have been known to brew highly caffeinated teas from some species, such as yerba maté. (Few people realize that some Holly contains caffeine). The wood is used for carving, inlaying and woodcuts, and when dyed it resembles ebony. The hard white wood is used for cabinetmaking as it is close grained and polishes easily. Chemists in Ireland have extracted several compounds from the European Holly that could one day heal diseases such as cancer. Holly extracts have been prescribed as healing folk remedies in Europe for centuries to treat everything from dizziness and hypertension to cancer. **GT** The male and female flowers of the Holly tree are produced on separate plants. Therefore to ensure berry production, both male and female plants need to be planted within 100 feet of each other.
Hollyhock (Althaea Rosea) got its name "Althaea" from the Greek word "Altho", which means "to heal". It has been used medicinally since the time of the Ancient Egyptians. The root is rich in sugars, and both the leaves and root have been used as a vegetable. Its a member of the Mallow family, so its practically interchangable with the renowned Marshmallow plant in healing properties. If you are seeking a low maintenance plant with multiple usage, Hollyhock may just fill the bill. It practically grows itself, reseeds itself, is eatable, and has medicinal properties. Top that off with the fact that its a beauty to behold, and you have an herb worthy of any garden. Hollyhock can be found in a wide array of colors.
Hollyhock is ruled by Venus, and its a very good herb to grow to attract Devas. A dried pod bursting with seed is sometimes taken as a token of a filled purse. Some practitioners work with ripe seed pods to increase success in the material world, to increase the flow of money, or to acquire new possessions. These old-fashioned flowers are known for their ability to attract Devas and help provide shelter for the little people. When grown near a home they help the success of the family flourish. Hollyhock finds modern ritual usage with the beginning of the harvest season, ritually celebrated at Lammas.
Medicinal and Other Uses:
Hollyhock root contains large amounts of Vitamin A, Calcium, Zinc and significant amounts of Iron, Sodium, Iodine, and B-complex. It can be used to soothe inflammation and reduce pain. Hollyhock's mucilage content helps soothe inflamed tissues, often caused by bronchitis and asthma. It also relieves dryness and irritation in the chest and throat, usually brought on by colds and persistent coughs. Hollyhock has been known to relieve indigestion, kidney problems, urinary tract infections, and even external skin wounds such as boils and abscesses. Hollyhock roots and leaves are used to treat colds and chest complaints. Some use the leaves in salads. **GT** Remove spent stalks and they may rebloom in Autumn.
Honeysuckle (Lonicera Species, also known as Sweet Honeysuckle, Woodbine, Jin Yin Hua, Perfoliate Honeysuckle, and European Honeysuckle) is a plant with a sweet scent and rowdy disposition. There are more than 150 species of Honeysuckles found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Native Honeysuckles aren't a problem, but several types have been imported (Lonicera japonica and Lonicera tatarica) and have become extreme weed pests that engulf entire woods and choke out native flora. Our woods in Georgia are full of the native variety, and when it is in bloom the entire place smells divine.
Honeysuckle is a visionary herb and an herb of immortality. It may be used to enhance one's spiritual sight. Honeysuckle can increase one's understanding of the images and impressions collected in the astral. Representing rebirth and the survival of life through the long Winter's death, Honeysuckle decorates the Eostara temple, representing the renewal of Spring. It may also be used at the other side of the Wheel of the Year at Autumn. When used in sabbat rituals the dried, powdered "bark" may be used as incense. Ring green candles with Honeysuckle flowers to attract money. They may also be added to sachets and charms.
Medicinal and Other Uses:
Honeysuckle has a fragrance that is heavenly. In the East Honeysuckle is used to treat fevers of colds, as an expectorant, an asthma remedy, and for dysentery and diarrhea. Honeysuckle is used in many cosmetic fragrances. **WC**Caution: The berries of some Honeysuckles are toxic. **GT** Honeysuckle vines are easy to grow, vigorous, heat-tolerant, and nearly indestructible. The flashy and fragrant flowers will attract hummingbirds and butterflies all summer long. The resulting fruit of the Honeysuckle flower will provide a fall treat for your local songbirds as well. In the wild, Honeysuckle and it's thick growth provides shelter for birds and small mammals.
Hops (Humulus Lupulus, also called Beer Flower) have been used in brewing in Europe since at least the 11th Century, and physicians in Ancient Greece, Rome and China all prescribed Hops as a digestive aid. The female flower of the Hop plant has long been a friend to beer brewers around the world. Depending on the style of beer, Hops can add balance to the finished product through bitterness, flavor, and aroma. Hops are in the family Cannabidaceae, and they are related to Cannabis (Marijuana). Recent studies have shown Hops compounds to have antibacterial and antimicrobial activity, and to inhibit the growth of skin tumors.
Hops is a healing and visionary herb. The best use of Hops is in dream pillows. Hops can be mixed with most other herbs associated with Dream Magick. It is believed Hops increases the restfulness and serenity of your dreaming time. Hops may be brought into rituals which honor the gods and goddesses who brought the gifts of ale and beer to humankind. Use Hops in healing rituals through incense, pillows, and sachets.
Medicinal and Other Uses:
Hops is used to aid digestion, as a mild sedative to treat insomnia, and in cough syrups. Hops poultice is used for abscesses, boils, tumors, and pain. Honey combined with Hops is excellent for bronchitis. Studies have shown Hops has antibacterial and antimicrobial activity effects against Bacillus subtilis, Staphlococcus aureus and Trichophylon mentagrophytes var. interdigitale. Another study focused on the compound in Hops called "humulon", and it was shown that humulon inhibited the growth of mouse skin tumors. **WC** Skin contact with the plant causes dermatitis in sensitive people, and dislodged hairs from the plant can irritate the eyes.
Horehound (Marrubium Vulgare, also known as Hoarhound, Eye of the Star, Bull's Blood, and White Horehound) got its name from a misspelling of "Hoarhound", with the prefix "hoar" referring to the grayness of the plant, as in "hoar frost", or being gray and "hoary" with age. The last part of the name (hound) is supposed to come from a time when Horehound was considered to be effective protection from the bite of a rabid dog. "Marrubium" is the Latinized version of the Hebrew name for Horehound, "Marrob" (Horehound is one of the five bitter herbs of Passover). Some claim it's name is derived from the Egyptian god Horus, as it was called the "Seed of Horus" by Ancient Egyptian priests.
Horehound is an herb of protection and a visionary herb. Its invocatory can be Horus, Isis, or Osiris. It was called the "Seed of Horus" by Ancient Egyptian priests. Horehound is an excellent herb to use in blessing one's home. A moderate amount may be added to the ritual cup. One may also make Horehound candy and use it to impart blessings to the first guests. As a general herb to use when working ritual forms, Horehound increases your concentration and focus. Horehound can give you the freedom to weave your creativity into your Magick. Gather small bunches of flowering Horehound and bind them with a ribbon, then hang it in your home to keep it free from negative energies. As an oil, Horehound may be used in spiritual and psychic healing. Some believe that Horehound corresponds with Hod on the Tree of Life. Use Horehound in protective sachets or burn it as incense.
Medicinal and Other Uses:
Horehound contains B-complex, Iron, Potassium, and Sulphur. It's leaves and stems are often boiled and used in the preparation of candied products, cough drops, and syrups. Extracts of Horehound are used in bitters and liqueurs. Horehound has traditionally been used against asthma, coughs, colds, bronchitis, sore throats, and skin irritations. The plant has also been used as a diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic, and vermifuge. Horehound has also been used in treatment of tumors. The plant is also grown for its ornamental value and is attractive to bees. **WC** Caution: Use of excessive amounts can cause irregular heartbeat. Harvest before flowering for greatest potency. **GT** Horehound attracts clouds of Braconid and Ichneumonid Wasps, and Tachinid and Syrpid flies. These insects, in their larval forms, parasitize or otherwise consume many other insects that we find pests. (Tomatoes, for example, are said to be "encouraged" by growing Horehound nearby).
Hyacinth (Hyacinthus Species) has an interesting bit of lore associated with it. The god Apollo fell in love with a beautiful young man named Hyacinthus. They played sports together, including a contest with the discus. Hyacinthus ran out to intercept the discus that Apollo had thrown, and the earth returned the throw, hurling it back at Hyacinthus' face. (Other tales say it was Zephyrus, the West Wind, that caused the discus to strike Hyacinthus head because of jealousy over Apollo). In any case, Apollo tried to save the life of the youth applying herbs and using his healing art, but the wound was past all cure and the young man died in his arms. From Hyacinthus' blood sprung a flower bearing the marks of Apollo's lamentation. Another version tells of Apollo realizing he could not save Hyacinthus and turning him into a beautiful plant so that he might not perish from existance altogether. Hyacinthus bulbs have been long propagated by man. There is evidence that varieties of Hyacinth were cultivated in Ancient Greece and by the Arabs during the 1400's.
Hyacinth is an herb of love and protection. It's invocatory is Apollo. It is the patron herbe for gay men. The legends provide them with an affirmation of their masculinity and brings them the special protection of Apollo. Hyacinth can be used to guard against nightmares when used as an oil or burned as incense. The scent of the fresh flowers is said to relieve grief.
Medicinal and Other Uses:
Hyacinth's only purpose is that of beautification. **WC** Hyacinth is poisonous. The sap can cause dermatitis to some handling them. The toxins are concentrated in the bulb**GT** Hyacinths do not like dry soil and decline fairly rapidly after the first year.
Hyssop's (Hyssopus Officinalis) claim to fame is it's use as a flavoring for the liqueur "Chartreuse". It was prescribed by Hippocrates and Dioscorides, and it's name derives from the Greek word "Azob", meaning "holy herbe". Hyssop was reportedly one of the herbs Solomon gathered and made into his aspurger for ritual work. Grieve in "A Modern Herbal" tells us Hyssop is alluded to in the scriptures with: "Purge me with Hyssop, and I shall be clean." Some believe that small bunches of Hyssop were used by the Hebrew people to paint their portals with blood, protecting their children until Moses could lead them safely away. We in the craft know the ancient pagan history pre-dates that tale. Robert Graves in "The White Goddess" wrote that the ancient Pagans considered Hyssop an herb of Winter Solstice. Research Universities in Nevada and California have found compounds in Hyssop Extract that have strong anti-HIV activity. (This was reported by "Herb for Health Magazine", March 1996).
Hyssop is a countermagick herbe, an herb of consecration, protection, and purification. Hyssop is one of the best herbs for cleansing and purification. Gather Hyssop and bundle it in bunches which may be hung at windows and doors to protect one's temple or home. Hyssop is believed to keep away negative energies. Some cultures believe Hyssop will protect your property against burglars and trespassers. The ideal time for gathering Hyssop is at the Cancer New Moon. It should be dried a fortnight until the following Full Moon. The extracted oil may be used for all forms of spiritual healing. This holy herb may be used to consecrate any Magickal tools or heirlooms made of tin. It has an affinity for Amethyst and Lapis Lazuli, and one of these stones could be stored with your Hyssop. There is no better herb for the physical cleansing and washing of one's temple, ritual tools, ritual robes, or even as a bathing herb. Hyssop is well suited for use at Yule or Midwinter.
Medicinal and Other Uses:
Hyssop is used primarily for respiratory and digestive ailments, to regulate blood pressure and for a nerve tonic. Hyssop is also used for anxiety, asthma, bronchitis, bruise, burns, capillary fragility, catarrh, circulatory disorders, common cold, cough, epilepsy, fever, gout, dyspepsia, herpes simplex, hysteria, influenza, intestinal worms, night sweats, ophthalmia, petit mal, quinsy, rheumatism, rhinitis, sore throat, tonsillitis, toothache, and upper respiratory catarrh.
Hyssop essential oil is used in liqueurs, perfumes, soaps, creams, and other cosmetics. Claims have been made that Hyssop leaves are often host to a mold that produces a natural penicillin...this is not proven. **WC** Caution: don't use Hyssop when pregnant. **GT** Hyssop needs to be trimmed regularly to keep it in shape, untrimmed plants will soon degenerate. Hyssop is a very good plant for attracting bees and butterflies to the garden.
The I's Are Next...
A Compendium of Herbal Magick by Paul Beyerl
A Modern Herbal by Maud Grieve (Vol 1 & 2)
Magickal Herbalism by Scott Cunningham
Edible Wild Plants by Thomas S. Elias & Peter A. Dykeman
Indian Herbalogy by Alma R. Hutchens
Sacred Plant Medicine by Stephen Harrod Buhner
Coyote Medicine by Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D.
Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants by "Wildman" Steve Brill
The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman
The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody
Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
Magic and Medicine of Plants by Inge N. Dobelis
Information given on this site is not intended to be taken as a replacement for medical advice. Any person with a condition requiring medical attention should consult a medical doctor. This information is given as reference only.