In every mythology of ancient times, nature has been the main source of magic. Whether it was used for magic rituals, healing purposes or even casting curses, the fact was still there. Our ancestors believed they held a form of energy. So really it’s no surprise today that your granny says to drink tea made from a marshmallow’s root for a bad cough. That being said, here are 5 magical herbs in Slavic mythology which serve us to this day.
This magnificent herb which is native to Northern Hemisphere of Europe, Asia and North America has been a source of magical procedures in the treatment of various diseases for centuries by the Slavic people.
The cult of the hawthorn tree has been preserved until today, and has survived the belief that a man who is sick should take a cake made of corn or wheat flour (in many cases this was bread but the Slavs called it cake) to the hawthorn tree and hand it there with the words: “U glog ulog, a u telo odlog!” – In the hawthorn tree the wager, in the body the delay!
It was believed that this tree was the protector of health and fear of every demon.
To preserve a hawthorn’s medical properties, it is important to know what, how and when to harvest. The flowers are to be harvested when they come into a half bloom, half bud state. Meaning one half of the flower is still in the form of a bud, while the other has just begun to bloom. You must pick the whole blossom only in dry weather, but it is even better to pick them on a sunny day and put them in a basket. In thin layers you should dry them in the draft and roll them over. There is a possibility of them breaking. After that, the flowers should be kept well-packed. The leaves are harvested young and dried like the flowers, while the fruits are harvested when they are fully ripe.
Today a hawthorn’s flower and leaf can both help in the treatment of insomnia, nervousness, asphyxiation, heart problems and high blood pressure. Also it’s good to ease contractions of the uterus and bowel tonus.
Ah yes, the most common plant of every old manor. The ivy.
Legend has it that the Greek god of wine, ecstasy and excesses of every kind, Dionysus wore a crown of ivy around his head to help him drink, or at least not to get drunk. But to the Slavs, ivy was a plant which served as a means of ‘falling into ecstasy‘.
Ivy is also known to be related with the god of the Underworld, Chernobog. Ivy was used in rituals of the night, to aid falling into a trans faster. Fair folk are also known to tell the tale of a young girl who went into the forest shortly before a young Sunday or Friday when the sun was slowly setting and tore off a branch of ivy from the place where the sun had cast its last ray. She then bent the branch of in a wreath and said: “Sunshine in the west! As you get to see this crown so clearly, let me see in my dreams as well the one who is destined for me by God!”
The ivy plant is also used as a medical remedy to calm the irritation caused by a rough cough and dilute the thick mucus in the respiratory organs. Herbalists often times recommend it with bronchitis. Only the leaves are used for making herbal remedies best harvested in May or June, while the berries and fruits are not used because they are toxic.
The king of herbs.
The basil has quite the dual meaning in the Slavic world. A basil flower symbolises love or death for the old Slavs, all depending on the situation. It was known that the Slavs used the basil in many religious rituals, but also in healing methods, even after the Christianization of the people.
Traditional medicine also appreciates the healing properties of the basil. The plant is used for the cough, kidney diseases, headaches, and depression, and in the form of tea it can also relieve menstrual problems. The juice of the leaves is used against colds, sore ears and eardrums, but also as a tonic. It is also effective against the inflammation of the urinary tract, to remove insomnia and relieve nervousness, also to stimulate the appetite.
The most famous legend of Slavic mythology, the plant which has the ability to open any door, to undo all unluckiness which surged on an individual or family, a plant that can conjure better earning, but also to preserve good health.
Raskovnik has been used by Serbs for many centuries, even having the honour of being mentioned by Vuk Karadžić (the man who reformed the Serbian language).
Only a few are able to find this plant and harvest it, and the one who dies it can’t harvest too many in his life for bad luck will befall him. Raskovnik can be found on the mountain Rtanj by the help of a turtle or hedgehog. This is actually the plant Mandragora.
Soldiers wore it stitched in the lining of their uniforms. It’s believed that who ever had even a small piece of the plant with him on the battlefield not even a bullet could pierce his skin.
This plant has the power to collect negative energy. The lower part of the root needs to be carried with you all the time in your wallet or stitched on the inside of ones clothes. The upper part of the root, along with the “hair” of the plant should be put in a red bag and kept where the family gathers, best in the living room. It should not be placed on a visible surface or talked about with other people.
After all this most would already make the conclusion that this plant is known little about or nothing at all among the people, which ultimately means it is more of a fictional than a real plant.
Perunika also known as the iris, is a flower associated with the heavenly god of stormy skies and lightning Perun and the earthly goddess of lightning and weddings Perunika, has the power to save ones home from a bad stroke of lightning, fire or any type of damage caused to the home.
There is a saying among the Slavs which goes: “Biljka na kući nego dva psa pred kućom!” – A plant on a home than two dogs in front of the house!
Which proves that this flower had quite the protection role among them!
According to a legend, this flower grows at the place where Perun’s spark hit a fertile soil. In the same way, a place hit by lightning was considered sacred and objects, like a stone or tree, from such a place were consecrated. Since Perun is a heavenly god and Perunika is an earthly goddess, it is believed that this represents a divine sexual act: Perun, the thunder, penetrates the earth, releases the heavenly waters inseminating the earth with heavenly semen, for example rain.
What a lovely little list we have here my dearest faes!
I hope that this is enough to satisfy the hunger of all you herbal enthusiasts and wanderers of old myths.
Yew B. Archer 🔮