Growing heirloom plants
Resources for gardeners
Many thanks to the
Library for providing this image from MS
747:35, c. 1300 CE.
Agrimonia eupatoria odorata
agrimony in your garden
Agrimony, a graceful perennial, bears
sunny spikes of tiny, clear yellow,
apricot-scented flowers from June to
September. It grows 20-24" tall. Its leaves look like
notched around the edges and a little narrower. They are subtly scented of apricot, as is the long, dark green root. When the
seeds ripen, they have tiny hooks that will cleave ferociously to
animal fur or human clothing, hence the name clife, cleave,
gar, garclifan, garclife, garclifu, garcliua, gorclifu
gar, "a spear," and clifan, "to cleave, adhere,
Acrimonian sæd, þæt is garcliue; garclif, garclifan, garclife
protects one against possession by elves or spirits.
The beast of
one color -- cow, deer, dog, or other animal -- has magical powers
in folklore as well as medicine.
The end of the stick is cut with a
cross, and an Evangelist's name is then inscribed on each quadrant.
Deus meus et pater
opens David's song of
thanks, in Psalms, for delivery from his enemies.
The words of this charm or prayer, "Acre acrare,"
appear to be a mixture of Gaelic,
Arabic, and Old English; their meanings aren't clear. In the oldest herbals,
such prayers are often
not translated, for their power resides in the
shapes and sounds of the ancient words more than in their meaning.
Holy Salve you
Betony & herb bennet & water agrimony * & hemp & raspberry centaury
sage savine * bishopswort & rosemary fennel & cinquefoil halswort
horehound mugwort meadowsweet marigold * agrimony & birdstongue *
radish & plantain & the red yarrow dill southernwood dragons *
hassock & cabbage * celandine & myrtle bark wax * woodruff & a
sprout of madder * Savory & solsequium water betony & rue & vervain
strawberry stem * & a black snail's dust * lupin iris smallage
pennyroyal attorlothe vipers bugloss wild chervil wormwood
boarthroat fern English costmary elecampane periwinkle feverfew
ground ivy cumin * & lily lovage alexanders parsley groundsel * of
these last four worts one must put in the most & of all others equal
quantities * & thus must you make the butter for the Holy Salve from
a cow of one color * so that she is all red or white & without spots
make the butter come & if you have not enough butter wash very clean
& mingle other butter with it & pound all the worts very small
together & take water that has been blessed as for baptism & put the
butter into a jug. Take then a stick & cut it to make a four-bristle
brush & write on it these holy names:
Then stir the butter with
the stick the whole vat sing over it these psalms * beati immaculati
& each one thrice & gloria in excelsis deo * & credo in deum patrem
& other litanies that is the holy names & deus meus et pater * et in
principio & the worm chant & sing this incantation over it:
nona ærnem beoðor
ærnem nidren arcum
cunað ele harassan fidine
Sing this nine times & put your spittle on & blow on them & lay the
worts by the jug & afterwards have a priest bless them and sing
prayers over them.
Hic quoque sarcocolam, campus
quæs quæ plurima
Vestit et effetis silvarum inventa
Walafrid Strabo, Hortulus
Here is where you see, gardener, how [agrimony] costumes the field
with its abundance; and discover how it grows poorly in the woodland
These are the
Seven Sleepers, buried alive near Ephesus when they refused
to deny their faith. They returned, resurrected, 200 years later,
and their names:
appear in many charms. "For their merits and their atonement, the Lord has made them
worthy to intercede to free us from all evil. Amen"
To produce sleep:
When the names are carved thereon, lay
the knife beneath the sick one's head, without telling that one, and
it will bring sleep.
efre is wisdom wel god
he be wiþ-ale wis
desi3eþ him wurcheþ
he scal li3en
litel scal he slepen
so doþ salt on flesche
Drunk and sober,
always is wisdom well and good --
no man thinks to drink the less,
when he is ale-wise.
But he that drinks
and is ill from it,
so that he for drunkeness
works himself evil --
he shall lie all night,
little shall he sleep.
Sorrow sucks him as dry
as salt does meat;
sucks all his body
as a leech does blood.
Proverb XV, Alfred the Great
To prevent drunkenness, drink as much of the juice of the agrimony as will fill an eggshell.
Physicians of Myddvai, 56
Please note: Many plants have
been used in past and present times for medicinal purposes, and as
one of the focuses of Wyrtig is the history of gardening, these uses
are discussed here. However, common sense
requires that you consult your family physician or other
health care provider before using any plant materials for medicinal
purposes. The old saying that "A doctor who treats him- (or her-)
self has a fool for a patient" is no less true in herbal medicine
than in any other branch of the healing sciences. Herbal remedies
should not be used by the uninformed; medical advice should be
sought before using any herbal remedy.