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Botanical: Verbena officinalis
Vervain has been often referred to as a witch's herbe due to the large body of lore surrounding its attributes. Albertus Magnus in his Book of Secrets offers a clue when he wrote that 'infants bearing it shall be very apt to learn, and loving learning, and they shall be glad and joyous.
Frequently referred to as verbena, it is found that a great many cultures considered this a sacred herbe. The Greeks, Romans, Celts, Welsh and many other European people readily identified this herbe as magickal. The following quote comes from A Modern Herbal:
The name Vervain is derived from the Celtic ferfaen, from fer (to drive away) and faen (a stone). Another derivation is given by some authors from Herba veneris, because of the aphrodisiac qualities attributed to it by the Ancients. Priests used it for sacrifices, and hence the name Herba Sacra. The name Verbena was the classical Roman name for 'altar-plants' in general, and for this species in particular. The Druids included it in their lustral water, and magicians and sorcerers employed it largely. It was used in various rites and incantations, and by ambassadors in making leagues. Bruised, it was worn around the neck as a charm against snake and other venomous bites as well as for general good luck. It was thought to be good for the sight.
Vervain finds place in the Christian holy scripts as the herb that was used to stop bleeding from Jesus Christ's wounds on Calvary - a mountainous terrain near Jerusalem. Therefore, vervain is also regarded as the 'herb-of-the-cross' by the Christians as well as others. The Druids or priests in the ancient Celtic religion regarded the herb as approvingly as the mistletoe, a parasitic evergreen bush used as a decoration during Christmas. The Egyptians had dedicated the herb to their Goddess of birth Isis and used it as a common constituent in the love potions prepared by them.
Vervain may be used to enhance the dreaming process. It is recommended to be included when working a Dream Quest. Old folklore says it will help you dream of your future love but it is more useful when used ritually to expand your divinatory skills and abilities. Vervain may be used to consecrate and empower any of your ritual tools. The Pawnee used it to further their dreaming skills. Associated with the metallic element of mercury, storing a small glass vial of this heavy liquid will keep the magick of your vervain strong. Verbena is used with opals and agates.
By working with this herbe, we can come to better understand the mysteries of immortality. When consecrating your altar stone, there is no herbe better chosen than vervain. It is also used to consecrate magickal wands, chalices and thuribles, and it makes a wonderful aspurger.
Vervain has been used for a very long time to protect people against negative emotions and the feeling that life has become a burden. The Celts recognized this ability of verbena. Even today it is found in many spells and formulas for amulets which protect the practitioner against various types of negation both from with the person and from outside sources. Often it is recommended to reverse negative energy as well. It is also recommended that it be worn if you are performing an exorcism. Verbena is used in house and home blessings as well.
Many love spells and romantic magickal formulas include vervain. This may be due, in part, to its reputation as being able to empower any magick. In fact the Welsh call it Iiysiaur hudol or 'the enchanting herbe'. As well as being added to recipes to attract mates, help you find true love, achieve sexual fulfilment and work sexual magick, this herbe is sometimes used by brides to bring extra bliss to the first night. Vervain is held sacred to the goddess Diana and is corresponded with the Justice card.
Drinking the juice of fresh vervain is said to cut sexual desire. Burn it to banish the pangs of unrequited love. Vervain is worn to recover stolen articles. Tucked into a child's cradle, the plant brings joy and a lively intellect. When burned, Vervain is powerful for warding psychic attack, but it is also used in spells for love, purification and attracting wealth. It is a powerful attractant to the opposite sex.
Vervain is worn as a crown during Druidic initiatory rites and as protection for those who are working magic. Sprinkle throughout the home for protection and to bring peace. Keep some in the bedroom to bring tranquil dreams. Keep it in the home to attract wealth and to keep plants healthy. Sprinkle some on the garden as an offering to the elementals and other nature spirits.
It is said that ancient magicians in Persia gathered bunches of verbena to raise up to the newly risen Sun in preparation for a spiritual and magickal day. Even today we find a solar correspondence with the herbe; it is recommended that it be gathered at Midsummer with the previous year's dried vervain tossed into the Midsummer fire.
This is an herbe of poets, singers and bards. Vervain is most potent if fresh cut and worn when performing. It increases the performer's skill and inspires the artistry. It is also a valuable herbe for students of any magickal path.