Vervain – Herb of the Month, February 2020

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Vervain, commonly known as Verbena, is an extremely versatile herb, both magickly and medicinally. Found all around the world, it has a rich and useful history. Vervain has been considered a magickal and sacred herb in many different cultures throughout the centuries. It is best remembered as a sacred plant to both the Druids and the Roman priesthood.

Vervain - Verbena Officinalis
Verbena Officinalis

To the ancient Romans the name “verbena” meant altar plant. The twigs of the plant were put into bundles and then used to sweep the altar and temple areas.

The name “vervain” comes from the Celtic term “ferfaen;fer” meaning “to drive away” and “faen” meaning “a stone”. Healers would gather this herb to be used to treat kidney stones – something it is still used for today.

Vervain is a slim plant that may grow to be about 80 cm (32 in) tall. It is a hardy perennial and self-sows. It grows freely in the wild and is often found along roadsides and in dry or stony grounds. Today it is a favorite in many a garden and a staple in every witch’s herbal cabinet and apothecary.

Plant: Common Vervain

Scientific Name: Verbena

Genus: Verbena, L.

Latin Name: Verbena Officinalis, Verbena Californica, Verbena Hastata (Blue Vervain)

Family:  Verbenaceae

Folk/Secret Names: Van Van, Dragon’s Claw, Enchanter’s Plant, Herba Sacra, Holy Plant, Frog’s Foot, Juno’s Tears, Pigeon Grass

Gender: Feminine

Elements: Water

Planet: Venus

Astrological Signs: Gemini

Deities: Venus, Cerridwen, Isis, Mars, Venus, Aradia, Jupiter, Thor, Juno

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Vervaain - An artists rendition of vervain

Magickal Uses of Vervain

Vervain is a sacred plant, potentially the most mystical plant on earth. It is used on altars and is a staple plant in magic ceremonies. It is a versatile herb that has many magickal uses.

Parts Used: Flowers and Leaves

  • Bestowing peace
  • Catalyst – use to make spells “go”
  • Cleansing the altar
  • Consecration of tools
  • Healing
  • Herb of Immortality
  • Keeping evil at bay
  • Protection
  • Purification
  • Romance and love
  • Turning your rival into an ally
  • Used in fortune telling and prophecy
  • Vervain is the herb of poets, singers, and bards.  It was often carried by these performers for to bring inspiration and increased skill
  • Vervain was placed around fields to prevent bad weather and to ensure a good harvest.
  • Vision questing

Substitutions: Motherwort, Skullcap, California Poppy

Verbana hastata
Verbena Hastata

Growing Vervain

This easy to grow plant is a favorite in many home gardens. The Verbena genus is large, contains both annuals and perennials, and has a range in height from 10 cm through to 1.4 m. Vervain (Verbena) as an annual grows in zones 1 to 10, as a perennial: zones 3 to 10. In general the plants have dark green toothed leaves, and bloom from summer until the first frost of winter. Depending on the variety they may have clusters of tiny flat fragrant flowers or spikes with tiny flowers, making Vervain a great attractor of butterflies and bees to the garden.

Vervain can easily be started from seeds. Be sure to stratify the seeds (follow link for definition) to increase the germination rate. Sow seeds outside after the last frost of spring. Seeds can take anywhere from two weeks to three months to germinate, so don’t get discouraged. Alternately you can pick up plants from your local nursery.

Plants need full sun and well-drained soil. Keep the soil moist, but not wet. Spacing of your plants will depend on the variety.  Consult the information on the seed packets or plant tags to determine the planting space required for your variety. When in doubt, consult the staff of your favorite nursery or garden center.

Depending on your soil quality and acidity, Vervain needs very little fertilizer.  I usually add a bit to the soil before I sow seeds or add new plants and to any established perennials in the early spring.

Blooms are very long lived.  However, Vervain is self-sowing so if you don’t want your garden overrun with these beautiful plants cut the flowers before they go to seed.

Medicinal Uses

The information provided below is for educational purposes only and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Additional Information

Verbena Officinalis is most often used medicinally.  Alternately you could use Verbena Hastata. Some of Vervain’s properties are:

  • Analgesic
  • Antibacterial
  • Anticoagulant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antispasmodic
  • Astringent
  • Diaphoretic
  • Diuretic
  • Emmenagogue
  • Galactagogue
  • Nervine
  • Stimulant

Vervain is most often used to treat:

  • Anxiety
  • Ascites
  • Cirrhosis
  • Colds
  • Depression
  • Flus
  • Gout
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Jaundice
  • Kidney Stones
  • Liver disorders
  • Mastitis
  • Painful or irregular menses

Please consult a licensed Herbalist and your Physician before using any parts of the Vervain plant medicinally.


Sources: 

Beyerl, Paul The Master Book of Herbalism Blaine, Washington, Phoenix Publishing Inc. 1981

Dugan, Ellen Garden Witch’s Herbal, Woodbury, MN, Llewellyn Publications 2009

Mueller-Ebeling, Claudia, Ratsch, Christian, and Storl, Wolf-Dieter Witchcraft Medicine Vermont Inner Traditions 2003

Tierra, Michael The Way of Herbs New York, NY, Pocket Books, 1998

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