What Is Herbal Medicine to a Modern Völva?


According to Andrew Weil, M.D., Herbal medicine, also known as herbalism or botanical medicine, is a medical system based on the use of plants or plant extracts that may be eaten or applied to the skin.

Since ancient times, herbal medicine has been used by many different cultures throughout the world to treat illness and to assist bodily functions.

While herbal medicine is not a licensed profession in the United States, herbal remedies in the form of extracts, tinctures, capsules and tablets as well as teas may be recommended by healthcare practitioners of many different disciplines as a practical way to address a wide variety of medical conditions.

Mother earth Living tells us: “we can only speculate about our prehistoric ancestors’ behavior, but clues and common sense tell us they used plants to survive, relying on them for nourishment and, over time and after observation, medical treatment.
These plants may have been more than just food and medicine to early humans—through their healing powers, plants may have represented a connection to the supernatural world. At the 60,000-year-old burial site of a Neanderthal man, researchers found eight species of flowering plants—laid there, some surmise, to fortify the man as he journeyed to the next life.

When humans began using formal writing systems, they also began documenting their use of medicinal plants, so we can be more certain about the use of herbal remedies dating back to about 3000 b.c. As civilizations developed and trade routes became established, travelers began observing other cultures’ use of plants and brought both herbal remedies and knowledge of their use back to their home countries.

Such observations lead in a more-or-less straight line to conventional medicine’s adoption and adaptation of some phytomedicines, including Taxus brevifolia, or Pacific yew, which gives us the anticancer drug taxol, and Chondrodendron tomentosum, which gives us tubocurarine chloride, used to calm patients’ muscles during surgery. In terms of more commonly used herbal medicines, we prepare and take some of them in the same way our ancestors did. We know, for instance, that the constipation remedy castor oil, which comes from the castor bean, was used as a laxative thousands of years ago. Such knowledge may be humbling, given our ­contemporary emphasis on expensive health care and medical research.”

So, what Plants and Herbs, and for what purpose, did our Indo-European Ancestors choose to use in health and healing?

The Germanic Folk had the nine sacred herbs, and our cousins the Celts had a 7 “magical” plant list, with a later “9 woods” adapted from the Druids 13 month tree calendar; which became the charm of the “Nine Sacred woods” used in early folk-magic healing rites.

The nine sacred herbs was written down in an 11th century manuscript called the Lacnunga. the Lacnunga, a tenth century Anglo-Saxon herbal, provides a myth to explain the origin of the nine sacred herbs.
The Lacnunga is a collection of nearly two hundred herbs used by the Anglo-Saxons and kept now at the British Library in London.
Whoever compiled it gathered material from a wide range of sources, mostly Anglo-Saxon, hence it is not a systematic account, but more of an anthology.
One of its contents is the Nine Herb Charm, and it is these plants, (as well as the Druids sacred 7) I will discuss today.

Wikipedia tells us The Lacnunga (‘Remedies’) is a collection of miscellaneous Anglo-Saxon medical texts and prayers, written mainly in Old English and Latin.
The title Lacnunga, an Old English word meaning ‘remedies’, is not in the manuscript: it was given to the collection by its first editor, Oswald Cockayne, in the nineteenth century. It is found, following other medical texts, in London, British Library Manuscript Harley 585, a codex probably compiled in England in the late tenth or early eleventh century. Many of its herbal remedies are also found, in variant form, in Bald’s Leechbook, another Anglo-Saxon medical compendium.

The Lacnunga contains many unique texts, including numerous charms, some of which provide rare glimpses into Anglo-Saxon popular religion and healing practices. Among the charms are several incantations in Old English alliterative verse, the most famous being those known as For Delayed Birth, the Nine Herbs Charm and Wið færstice (‘Against a sudden, stabbing pain’). Below is the Nine Herbs Charm, or Nine Wort Charm, for those of you who may not be familiar with it:
“A worm came creeping,
he tore asunder a man.
Then took Woden
nine magic twigs
and he smote the serpent
that he flew into nine bits…”
Remember, Mugwort, what you made known,
What you arranged at the Great proclamation.
You were called Una, the oldest of herbs,
you have power against three and against thirty,
you have power against poison and against infection,
you have power against the loathsome foe roving through the land.
And you, Plantain, mother of herbs,
Open from the east, mighty inside.
over you chariots creaked, over you queens rode,
over you brides cried out, over you bulls snorted.
You withstood all of them, you dashed against them.
May you likewise withstand poison and infection
and the loathsome foe roving through the land.
‘Stune'{watercress} is the name of this herb, it grew on a stone,
it stands up against poison, it dashes against poison,
it drives out the hostile one, it casts out poison.
This is the herb that fought against the snake, {Viper’s Bugloss}
it has power against poison, it has power against infection,
it has power against the loathsome foe roving through the land.
Put to flight now, Venom-loather, the greater poisons,
though you are the lesser,
you the mightier, conquer the lesser poisons, until he is cured of both.
Remember, Chamomile, what you made known,
what you accomplished at Alorford,
that never a man should lose his life from infection
after Chamomile was prepared for his food.
This is the herb that is called ‘Wergulu’. {Stinging Nettle}
A seal sent it across the sea-right,
a vexation to poison, a help to others.
it stands against pain, it dashes against poison,
it has power against three and against thirty,
against the hand of a fiend and against mighty devices,
against the spell of mean creatures.
There the Apple{crab}accomplished it against poison
that she [the loathsome serpent] would never dwell in the house.
Chervil and Fennell, two very mighty one.
They were created by the wise Lord,
holy in heaven as He hung;
He set and sent them to the seven worlds,
to the wretched and the fortunate, as a help to all.
These nine have power against nine poisons.
A worm came crawling, it killed nothing.
For Woden took nine glory-twigs,
he smote the the adder that it flew apart into nine parts.
Now there nine herbs have power against nine evil spirits,
against nine poisons and against nine infections:
Against the red poison, against the foul poison.
against the yellow poison, against the green poison,
against the black poison, against the blue poison,
against the brown poison, against the crimson poison.
Against worm-blister, against water-blister,
against thorn-blister, against thistle-blister,
against ice-blister, against poison-blister.
Against harmfulness of the air, against harmfulness of the ground,
against harmfulness of the sea.
If any poison comes flying from the east,
or any from the north, [or any from the south,]
or any from the west among the people.
Christ stood over diseases of every kind.
I alone know a running stream,
and the nine adders beware of it.
May all the weeds spring up from their roots,
the seas slip apart, all salt water,
when I blow this poison from you.
To use these herbs medicinally, we read the instructions: “Mugwort, plantain open form the east, lamb’s cress, venom-loather, chamomile, nettle, crab-apple, chervil and fennel, old soap; pound the herbs to a powder, mix them with the soap and the juice oaf the apple. Then prepare a paste of water and of ashes, take fennel, boil it with the paste and wash it with a beaten egg when you apply the salve, both before and after. Sing this charm three times on each of the herbs before you (he) prepare them, and likewise on the apple. And sing the same charm into the mouth of the man and into both his ears, and on the wound, before you (he) apply the salve.”

We now move to the Seven Sacred Herbs of the Druids as found within the A Druid’s Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year:
Wolf’s Bane { Comfrey}

And finally the nine sacred woods as found in the modern witches charm: “Nine woods in the cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow. Elder be the Lady’s tree, Burn it not or cursed you’ll be….”
Oak, Cedar, Applewood, Willow, Hawthorn, Rowan, Birch, Ash, & Fir.
We cannot overlook the value of trees in healing and health. In a survival course I used to teach when I lived in the Adirondack Mts of upstate NY, my first talk on gathering emergency food always began with the Northern White Pine.
You see, the word Adirondack is the Abenaki word for “Bark-eater” and many fir trees have lots of sugar in their cambium, as well as vitamin C in their needles, proving emergency nutrition in wilderness survival situations. Many other trees provide nuts or sap that also can aid us in healing and nutrition.

In today’s world, we have much information available to us on how and when to use herbs as a curative for the many health maladies that can affect us in this very toxic 21st century world.

As I am actually a certified Herbalist, I feel if you have a calling to use homeopathic or holistic healing using herbs and plants, a reputable place for herbal accreditation is a must. I use in my practice as Healer plants and plant extracts as healing allies, as they can holistically aid the body in healing everything from a skin rash to cancer.

(Our modern day pharmaceuticals are derived from plant sources)The secret is gaining MUCH knowledge and experience with working with herbs and plants, starting with the most mild and those that are universally recognized as “safe” for use by the general populace, such as the above 9 sacred herbs, and the Nine sacred woods. The druids sacred 7 have a couple of herbs known to lead to issues with use in large doses, so as with any plant use, check for safety before ingesting!

SEE: http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/medicine.shtml

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