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BellaOnline's Herbs Editor

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Isn't It Frightful


Some herbal plants are steeped in superstition. Halloween, the spooky celebration enjoyed on October 31, brings to mind thoughts of witches, broomsticks and skeletons hanging from trees. Herbal plants were used to inspire incantations, confront witches, and cast out ghosts. Halloween brings out the child in all of us.

The Halloween pumpkin is a actually a herb - Cucurbita pepo. Its main herbal use was that it's used to banish something undesired. In this case, Pumpkin seeds are a powerful parasite repellent. According to folklore, other garden plants and common weeds also have ties to to ancient Halloween customs.

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) was thought to be a magic herb able to endure witches and even Satan. It also sounds like something Harry Potter would use! Long stems of this herb would be hung in doorways and from ceiling rafters to ward off evil spirits.

Rue (Ruta graveolens) has also been used since ancient times as a weapon against evil; a defense against witches and even more horrible, the plague.

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a herb of found along old railways and in vacant lots. Its soft, grey leaves were thought to be a powerful repellent to demons. Centuries ago, mullein was called hag taper because the dried stems were used as torches but because it was thought that witches used it in incantations and in their brews. But the witches no doubt would have used the tall burning stems, soaked in oil, to light their midnight revelries as well.

Birch (Betula alba) the tree of the forest was the witches’ choice for their broomsticks.

Angelica (Angelica archangelica) was thought to be the strongest defense against witches and the plague. An angel revealed the secrets of this plant to a monk while he dreamed and from then on no witch dared to use angelica in any brews or spells. Medieval monks continued to use this imposing plant’s roots in their wines and liqueurs, free from witch-like ties.

Mandrake, the Witch’s Ally (Mandragora officinarum) the super strong, all-purpose herb for working every spell, invoking every curse, was the witch’s most desired plant. European mandrake, also known as Satan’s apple, is a narcotic root of humanlike appearance, long known as a mystical plant. When a face was carved into the root, the resulting manikin became a potent weapon, capable of great evil.

For your Halloween, make it what you want. Have fun, explore your possibilities and most importantly be safe!

Please always do your research and consult with your physician, naturopath, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements or following any treatment suggested on this page. Only your health care provider, personal physician, or naturopath can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs or to diagnose your particular medical issue.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Bettina Thomas-Smith. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Bettina Thomas-Smith. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Bettina Thomas-Smith for details.

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