Herbs That Protect

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.

Vervain

Vervain

Stinging nettle

Stinging nettle

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.’

Bay

Bay

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.

Elder

Elder

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.

Basil

Basil

Rosemary is also used for purification and protection and can be grown at the doorway of a house to protect those within.

 

Rosemary

Rosemary

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

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.

Foxgloves

Foxgloves

Other herbs used to protect against evil include angelica, sage, wormwood, yarrow, horehound, eucalyptus, lavender, white clover, and hyssop.

Angelica

Angelica

Yarrow

Yarrow

Sage

Sage

Anise Hyssop

Anise Hyssop

white clover

White clover

Lavender

Lavender

Herbs used for banishing ghosts and evil spirits include mallow, belladonna, henbane, and nettle.

Mallow

Mallow

Belladonna

Belladonna

 

 Vervain, stinging nettle, elder, St. John’s Wort, angelica, yarrow, mallow and belladonna images are from Pixabay.
All other images are my own.

 

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Trees of Protection

When I saw Violet in the school cafeteria the next day, I couldn’t help staring at the arrangement of threaded, holly berries that adorned her head. The bright red berries looked striking against her black hair.

“You’re looking very festive,” I said, slipping into the empty seat beside her.

“Holly is the sacred tree of protection,” she replied matter-of-factly.

“Oh?” I straightened, my curiosity aroused. “Protection against what?”

She shrugged. “Protection against evil influences or negative energies.It’s been used for centuries. Holly trees planted outside the home help to ward off evil and keep away unwanted visitors.”

From Where the Moths Dance

Ancient tree lore tells us that our ancestors held strong beliefs in the magical and spiritual properties of trees. Our relationship with trees was, and still is, of particular importance to the Celts, the Druids, and Wiccans.

Certain trees have long been revered for their protective properties. They were planted to provide protection from evil, protective amulets and talismans were made from their wood, their berries and leaves were scattered around homes to ward off malevolent spirits. Early Irish history tells of five great trees that protected the land – three ash trees, a yew, and an oak.

In Wicca lore, a staff of ash was hung in doorways to ward off evil spirits, while the leaves of the ash were scattered in the four directions to protect the outside of the home.

Golden Ash

Golden Ash

The oak was especially sacred to Druids. Twigs of oak were placed around the home to provide protection, while carrying a piece of oak wood would protect the bearer from harm.

Oak tree

Oak tree

 

Oak leaves

Oak leaves

The yew is considered the most powerful tree for providing protection from evil. Yew trees were associated with places of burial, where they were believed to protect the dead. In Britain, yew trees are often found growing around old churches.The Irish revered the yew tree above all others, and it is said that a yew tree guards the doorway between this life and the next from evil spirits from the Otherworld. Incredibly, a yew tree can live for more than 2000 years.

Plum-fruited Yew

Plum-fruited Yew

The ancient Celts viewed the willow as the Tree of Enchantment and Mysteries, and the Druids used to carry wands cut from its branches for protection. A willow branch hung over a door was believed to protect the occupants from evil.

Willow trees

Willow trees

Rowan trees have long been used for protection. They were sacred to the Druids, and were considered one of the most sacred trees of the Wiccans. Rowan trees were often planted in graveyards to protect the spirits of the dead, and were planted near homes to protect the occupants. Boughs of rowan were hung over stables to keep livestock from harm. Talismans were made from the wood and carried to ward off evil. Two twigs tied together with a red thread to form a cross was commonly used as a protection amulet. The wood is still used today to make wands and amulets.

Rowan tree

Rowan tree

 

Rowan berries

Rowan berries

Hawthorns are commonly found on burial mounds all over Ireland. The leaves were scattered in the cradles of newborn babies as protection, and hawthorn placed in or around the home was believed to banish evil.

Hawthorn in winter

Hawthorn in winter

Hawthorn berries

Hawthorn berries

 

Holly is considered one of the most protective trees. It was sacred to the Druids and was often planted beside houses to guard against evil spirits. Holly berries were carried for protection.

Holly

Holly

As well as having amazing healing properties, eucalyptus trees, when planted around a graveyard, were believed to protect it from evil spirits, and the leaves were carried for protection.

Eucalyptus tree

Eucalyptus tree

When standing silently beside ancient trees, touching the bark of their solid, deep-rooted trunks, as sunlight filters through the overhead canopy of their leaves and branches, providing homes and shelter for birds, insects and wildlife, it is easy to understand why our ancestors honoured the tree spirits and believed that these wonderful beings of nature held such divine and magical associations.

Note: All photographs taken by Nick Carter, apart from Rowan tree, and Rowan berries, courtesy of Thinkstock, and Hawthorn berries, courtesy of Pixabay.