Through the centuries there have been many herbs steeped in myth and magic. Certain herbs were considered to have strong protective properties and people would grow them outside their houses, hang bunches or wreaths around doorways and in their homes, sprinkle them in the corners of rooms, or carry them on their person in sachets to protect them from evil spirits, ghosts, witchcraft, or black magic.
In the Middle Ages, vervain was used as an ingredient in a holy salve to protect against demons and disease, while nettles provided protection against sorcery.
In past times, many people believed that certain herbs, such as bay, elder, rue and basil could provide protection against witchcraft. Nicholas Culpeper, a well-known English botanist, herbalist, and physician in the 17th century, wrote that the bay tree ‘resisteth witchcraft very potently,’ and ‘neither witch nor devil, thunder nor lightening, will hurt a man in the place where a bay-tree is.’
Elder was planted outside the door to protect the home against evil and black magic, while fallen branches were brought inside and hung over doorways to protect the home.
Basil is a herb that is steeped in folklore. Used for purification and protection, it was said to have grown around Christ’s tomb after the resurrection. Some Greek Orthodox churches use it to prepare their holy water, and put pots of basil below their altars.
Basil leaves or an infusion of basil were sprinkled around the floors to prevent evil from entering the home.
Rosemary is also used for purification and protection and can be grown at the doorway of a house to protect those within.
St. John’s Wort was considered a magical plant that provided protection from evil spirits and ghosts. Branches of the shrub or stems of the herb were hung in homes to protect the occupants.
St. John’s Wort
Foxgloves, also called fairy’s gloves and witches’ thimbles, were grown in the garden to protect the home and property from evil spirits.
Other herbs used to protect against evil include angelica, sage, wormwood, yarrow, horehound, eucalyptus, lavender, white clover, and hyssop.
Herbs used for banishing ghosts and evil spirits include mallow, belladonna, henbane, and nettle.
Vervain, stinging nettle, elder, St. John’s Wort, angelica, yarrow, mallow and belladonna images are from Pixabay.
All other images are my own.