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Vervain – Herb of the Month, February 2020

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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Dill- Herb of the Month

Dill is a semi-hardy annual with erect, freely branching annual herb with finely dissected, lacy, blue-green foliage. Dill is best known for its use in the making of pickles but can be used both as a culinary and medicinal herb. Magickly, Dill – our herb of the month, is a powerful and potent plant ally.

Dill - Herb of the Month
Lacy green leaves in a bunch
Dill – Our Herb of Month

Plant: Dill

Latin Name: Anethum graveolens

Family:  Apeacia (a member of the parsley family)

Folk/Secret Names: Dilly, Dill Weed, Garden Dill, Meeting House Seed, Hairs of a Hamadryas Baboon, Semen of Hermes

Gender: Masculine

Elements: Fire

Planet: Mercury

Astrological Signs: Gemini

Deities: Anubis, Hermes, Janus, Khensu, Mercury

Magickal Uses of Dill

Parts Used: Leaves, flowers, and seeds

  • Attracting Money – Place dill seeds and leaves in a spell bag then place in your wallet or purse to attract money.
  • Attracting Romance – Add dill seed to a sachet and hang it on your showerhead or place in a bath to make you irresistible to your lover.
  • Breaking Jinxes (leaves)
  • Dispelling bad dreams – create a sachet and place under your bed or pillow.
  • Emotional and Mental Balance
  • Good Fortune in Court (seeds)
  • Good Fortune in love affairs (seeds)
  • Love
  • Luck
  • Lust
  • Protection -Hang dill in doorways to promote protection. Place a sprig of dill in a child’s crib for safety and peaceful sleep.

Substitutions: You can substitute Fennel in your spell work if you are out of Dill as it has similar correspondences.

Growing Dill

Dill, our herb of the month, does not transplant well, so sowing the seeds is recommended. Plant 12 to 15 inches apart in a weed-free, semi-rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soil in a sheltered sunny position. It takes well to pots and containers, just be sure that they drain well.

Plants may grow to 2 or 3 feet in height. Pinch off the flowers if you wish to increase the leaf production.

As soon as the plant has four to five leaves, you can start harvesting. Pinch off the leaves or cut them off with scissors.

Leaves can be used fresh or dried. Dry your harvested leaves by either hanging them upside down in bunches or spread on a mesh screen or muslin. Place in a warm – not hot – area out of the direct sunlight.  You may also dry in a dehydrator.

When growing for the seed try growing more than one plant, one or two for the leaves and one or two for the seed. Do not plant Dill next to Fennel as the plants will cross-pollinate. Keep them away from Carrot as well as the carrots will not grow well with Dill around.

Dill seeds in the late summer or early autumn. Flower can take up to 25 days for the seeds to germinate. The seeds should be collected when they are light brown and fully formed. Place a paper bag over the seed heads and cut, leaving a bit of the stem sticking out of the bag.  Tie the stems together and hang to dry for a 10 to 15 days. You will know that they are ready when you shake the bag and you hear the seeds fall.

Warning:  Mature dill seeds are toxic to birds! Harvest all seeds before they drop.

Culinary Uses of Dill

Dill -Herb of the Month
Dill seeds on a butcher block counter
Dill Seeds

Add Dill – our Herb of the Month – to potatoes for a tangy treat.

Create a Dill infused vinegar for use on salads by adding Dill to white wine vinegar and infuse for 2 weeks.

Add some dill to scrambled eggs, omelets and frittatas for some zest.

A pinch of dill creamed into butter with some added garlic makes a great spread for toast, bread and biscuits.

Let’s not forget the pickles! Dill – our Herb of the Month- is essential in making a crisp and crunchy dill pickle.  Check out this great dill pickle recipe here

Medicinal Uses of Dill

The information provided below is for educational purposes only and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. More information on these disclaimers can be found here.

  • Antimicrobial
  • Bacteriostatic
  • Carminative
  • Digestive aid
  • Flatulence reducer
  • Helps to soothe colic in infants
  • Sleep Aid
  • Soothes a gassy stomach
  • Stimulant
  • Stress reliever
  • Dill helps relieve flatulence and a gassy stomach when taken as a tea or by chewing the seeds.
  • Use Dill to assist in relieving infant colic.
  • German health authorities have approved dill as a treatment for intestinal complaints related to bacteria.
  • Chew on the seeds of the Dill plant to dispel bad breath (Halitosis)
  • Taken as “dillwater” it aids in promoting the secretion of milk and, when taken regularly by nursing mothers, is said to help avoid colic in their babies.