Whispering Woods Herbal Grimoire

All information listed here is for reference only!

Section T through Z

Herb Description: T, U, V - Tansy, Thyme, Valerian, Vervain, Violet                                                                                                            
W - Walnut (Black), Wild Yam, Willow, Witch Hazel, Wormwood                                                                  

X, Y, Z - Yarrow, Yellow Dock, Yew

Tansy: Buttons      

(Tanacetum vulgare)

Leaves and flowers, seeds

Tansy was the herb given to Ganymede to confer immortality upon him.

Medicinal Uses: Tansy is used to expel worms from the body. The infusion of dried leaves and flowers is taken while one is fasting to expel worms; steep one teaspoon per cup of water for twenty minutes, and take one cup on an empty stomach night and morning. For intestinal worms it may be used with Wormwood and a carminative such as Chamomile, in conjunction with a purgative like Senna. Taken three times a day, it helps induce menstruation. The leaf is said to be a tonic for the heart. (Infuse one fresh leaf a day in herb tea.) The flowers and seeds are helpful for gout.

Externally it is used to treat cuts and bruises. It has also been used to treat some skin eruptions, and as poultices (pounding the leaves into a paste; use water or a tea and add oatmeal to reach desired consistency) for rheumatism and sprains. Tansy plants themselves vary widely in the amount of Thujone they contain, and growing conditions do not seem to affect the content, suggesting individual plant genetics.  So basically, you don't know what you have in any given plant, making correct dosage calculations almost impossible. Tansy and elder leaf make a natural insecticide when boiled and sprayed on plants. It is also used to repel ants and other insects.

Tansy should not be taken internally by pregnant women. It contains thujone and is an emmenagogue (provoking the onset of a period.) Pregnant women should avoid this plant as it has been shown to be abortive in large doses. An over dose could prove fatal.           

Magickal uses: Once used in embalming preparations, tansy is known as an herb of immortality and longevity. A branch is an appropriate herb to use in asperging a body, a gravesite, or a ritual area. Tansy is carried to lengthen the life span and placed in shoes to cure persistent fevers. Tansy gets its name from "athanasia," the Greek word for "immortality." It was the prime ingredient in the potion which made Ganymede, the cupbearer of the gods, immortal. It is carried to lengthen the life span. Also used for consecration and purification. Its Element is Water and it is ruled by the planet, Venus. It is associated with the Sabbat of Ostara.

Properties: Vermifuge, anthelmintic, digestive bitter, carminative, emmenagogue, stimulant. Contains a volatile oil containing thujone; bitter glycosides, sesquiterpene lactones, terpenoids, flavonoids and tannin.

Growth: Tansy is a perennial that grows wild over much of the United States. It grows to 3 feet high, and prefers average soils and full to partial sun. Pansy has button-shaped or daisy-like flowers that are bright yellow, forming in clusters. It has bright or dark green fern-like leaves with lance shaped toothed leaflets. It is pungently aromatic. It is native to Europe and Asia. Found on wasteland and woodland clearings.

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoonful of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk twice a day.

Tincture: take 1-2ml of the tincture three times a day.


(Thymus vulgaris)

                                                                Berries, fruits, leaves, and flowers

Around 3000 BCE the Sumerians were using it as a medicinal ingredient, and the Egyptians included it among the herbs and spices used in mummification.

Medicinal Uses: Thyme is a powerful antiseptic. It is used in cases of anemia, bronchial ailments, and intestinal disturbances. It is used as an antiseptic against tooth decay, and destroys fungal infections as in athlete's foot and skin parasites such as crabs and lice. It is good for colic, flatulence, and colds.                              
It is used for sinusitis and asthma. Eliminates gas and reduces fever, mucus, and headaches. Good for chronic respiratory problems, colds, flu, bronchitis, whooping cough, and sore throat. Lowers cholesterol levels. Good to relieve coughs, and whooping cough. Externally, helps sprains and strains.                                                                       
A poultice can be made from the leaves of thyme that will combat all forms of inflammation and infection. Effective against hookworms. Rub the extract between the toes daily for athlete's foot. Used externally, the extract can be used daily for crabs, lice, and scabies.                                                                                                                                 
Taken internally by standard infusion, thyme is a first-rate digestive, febrifuge and liver tonic. Anti-spasmodic and nervine, it is held to cure a wide range of psychological disorders, even insanity. Hysteria, halitosis and assorted female ailments, especially mastitis, loss of appetite.                                                                                                            Thyme baths are said to be helpful for neurastenia, rheumatic problems,, paralysis, bruises, swellings, and sprains. The salve made from thyme can be used for shingles.                                                                                                          Thyme is an excellent lung cleanser. Use it to dry up and clear out moist phlegm and to treat whooping cough. It makes a good tea for the mother after childbirth, as it helps expel the placenta. Steep one-half teaspoon fresh herb or one teaspoon dried herb in one-half cup of hot water for five minutes. Take up to one and a half cups a day in quarter-cup doses. A natural antiseptic, thyme is often used in salves for wounds, swellings, sciatica, and failing eyes. The tea relives gas and colic (as does the oil, taken in one- to five-drop doses). The tincture can be used in ten- to twenty-drop doses, taken three times a day. Use thyme for headaches and hangovers.

Thyme oil should be reserved for topical use, as internally it may lead to dizziness, vomiting, and breathing difficulties

Magickal uses: The Greeks burned thyme in their temples to purify them as we do today to purify an area. Add it to the magickal, cleansing bath of springtime, along with marjoram, to remove all sorrows and ills of winter. It is worn or added to the ritual cup to aid in communicating with the deceased. (It also helps one see Otherworldly entities.) To ensure a restful night’s sleep free from nightmares, sleep with it beneath your pillow. When worn it will help psychic powers develop, and if worn be a woman in her hair, it will make her irresistible. The aroma will revitalize your strength and courage. A place where wild thyme grows will be a particularly powerful energy center on the Earth.

Properties: Anthelmitic, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, expectorant, sedative. Contains borneol, cavacrol, fluorine, gum, trace minerals, bitter principle, saponins, flavonoids, essential oils, tannins, triterpenic acids, and vitamins B-complex, C, and D.

Growth: Thyme is a perennial that loves warm, sunny fields, and is found throughout North America. Thyme has numerous woody stems 6-10 inches high, covered in fine hair, and flattish round leaves, growing in pairs. The flowers, small bluish-purple, two-lipped, are borne in whorled in dense, head-like clusters, blooming fro May to September, like the rest of the plant, are heavily scented. Thyme requires full sun and fairly dry, light, well-drained soil.  Trim it back after flowering to prevent it from becoming woody.

Infusion: steep 1/2 tsp. fresh herb or 1 tsp. dried herb in 1/2 cup water for 3 to 5 minutes. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups per day, a mouthful at a time.

Oil: take 10-20 drops, 3 times per day.

Bath additive: make a strong decoction and add to the bath water.


Valerian: All-Heal, Garden Heliotrope

(Valeriana officinalis)

Dried root, rhizome

Medicinal Uses: One of natures most effective herbal tranquilizers. The roots are used for nervous tension, anxiety and insomnia. A powerful root for the nerves, valerian should not be taken for longer than a few weeks, as it can become addictive. It helps cure depression when taken once or twice. It is a good sedative for such conditions as neuralgia, hypochondria, insomnia, and nervous tension. It also appears to have real benefits in cases of sciatica, multiple sclerosis, shingles, and peripheral neuropathy, including numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and pain in the extremities.                        
The tea is strengthening to the eyesight, especially when problems are due to weakness in the optic nerve. Valerian has been used as an anticonvulsant in epilepsy. It slightly slows the heart and thus is a good remedy for palpitations. Simmer two teaspoons of the root in a pint of water for twenty minutes, and take one-fourth cup, cold, four times a day. The tincture may be taken twenty drops in water, three times a day.                                                                          
The root is simmered with licorice, raisins, and anise seeds to make a cough sedative. The scent is very attractive to rats and is used to bait traps. Valerian is a warm and spicy herb that has a stimulating effect on the brain as well as being a sedative. If a person has a hot constitution it will be especially stimulating and may negate the calming and sedative quality. A hot constitution is one that is prone to constipation, dryness, redness in the eyes and skin and a warm body temperature (a cold constitution has the opposite qualities).                                                                              Valerian is useful as a digestive aid, is helpful in cases of gas, diarrhea, and cramps, and alleviates the pain of ulcers. In the respiratory tract, it is believed to be of benefit in reducing the discomfort of asthma attacks. Valerian is used for irritability, mild spasmodic affections, epilepsy, migraine headaches, croup, hysteria, vertigo, nervous cough, delirium, neuralgia, muscle cramps, colic, panic attacks, emotional stress, PMS, menstrual cramps, despondency, insomnia. A marvelous remedy for fevers. Will often clear a cold overnight. Good for expelling phlegm from throat and chest. Will expel worms when everything else fails. Excellent for shortness of breath and wheezing. Tea can be used as an enema for pinworms and tape worms and externally as a wash for sores, wounds, chronic skin diseases, and pimples. Combines with with lemon balm, hops, passion flower and scullcap.

Valerian produces depression when taken over a longer period. Valerian is best suited to individuals with cold, nervous conditions. Those with heated conditions can experience opposite (stimulant) effects. Valerian may increase the effects of anti-anxiety medications or painkillers. It may also react with antiepileptic drugs. Valerian is contraindicated in pregnant and breast feeding women.

Magickal uses: Powdered valerian may be used as a substitute for graveyard dust to repel unwanted presences. Valerian is added to the chalice as an herb of peace. Valerian is a frequent ingredient in love and harmony spells and potions, including spells for sexual love. It is used to aspurge the ritual space and in incense for purification. Even though this is a rather foul smelling herb it is hung in the home as protection from lightning and the Greeks used sprigs of it at windows to keep evil out. For protection from evil and magick, use Valerian in sachets, amulets, or talismans and carry it with you. To prevent unwanted visitors, sprinkle powdered herb on your front stoop and say their name. For eliminating troubles, write the trouble on parchment paper, then burn and mix the ashes with powdered herb, then bury. Sachets placed around the home help protect the home from lightening strikes.                   
Being an herb of peace, place some in the vicinity of a quarreling couple. Add it to love sachets and it is said if a woman wears a sprig of it, it will cause men to “follow her like children.” It will also help insomnia by placing it in the pillow. A few leaves placed in the shoes protect against colds and flu.                                                                              
To find out if your love is reciprocated, bend a plant in the direction of their home.  If the plant continues to grow in that direction, you are loved in return.  Growing the plant on your property ensures harmony with your spouse.           Valerian stalks can be dried and soaked in tallow or oil, then used as a torch for spells and rituals.  The torch can then be used to light sacred fires.  Meditation in the light of a torch improves clarity for a given situation. Valerian is ruled by Venus and its Element is Water.

Properties: Calmative, antispasmodic, nerve tonic, nervine, sedative, anodyne, and carminative, aromatic, emmenagogue. Contains active components are called valepotriates. Valerianic, formic and acetic acids, essential oils, resin, starch, a glucoside, and 2 alkaloids (chatrine and valerianine).

Growth: Valerian is a tall perennial herb found in damp, elevated areas and grasslands. It consists of a long stem (3-5 feet in length) with pointed dark green leaves. It blooms in the summertime, with small, fragrant flowers (white, light purple or pink) that can reach four inches in diameter. A native of damp woods, roadsides, and riversides.

Harvest in the fall. Do not boil the root.

To obtain the maximum benefit take 1 tbsp. of fresh juice daily. The latter is often prescribed as a cure for insomnia, where its great value is that it calms the mind without having a narcotic effect. Non-addictive.

Drying roots is different from drying leaves. Roots should be dried at a high temperature, such as 120 degrees F. until the roots are brittle. If they are rubber-like, they should be dried longer. Store roots after drying to keep free from moisture.

Infusion: steep 1 tsp. root in 1 pt. boiling water. Take cold, 1 cup per day, or when going to bed.

Cold extract: use 2 tsp. roots with 1 cup water; let stand for 24 hours and strain. Take 1/2 to 1 cup when going to bed.

Tincture: take 20 drops on sugar or in water, 3 times a day.

                                        Vervain: Enchanter’s Plant, Holy Herb, Verbena  

(Verbena officinalis, Verbena hastata)

Roots, leaves, stems

Vervain was revered in Celtic and Germanic cultures, used by the Druids in the
lustral water, and held sacred by the Romans. “Vervain” is a derivative of the
Celtic fer (to drive away) and faen (stone), given to it because of its ability to purge
calculi (gravel) from the bladder.           

Medicinal Uses: A tea of the herb helps to increase breast milk and is helpful in
lowering fever, especially of the intermittent type. Jaundice, whooping cough,
edema, mastitis, and headaches fall under its sphere. Blue vervain
(V. hastate), the American variety, is a natural tranquilizer and is helpful with colds and fevers, especially when the upper respiratory tract is involved. It will benefit eczema and other skin eruptions, as it is a kidney and liver cleanser. To make the tea, steep one teaspoon of the herb per cup of water for twenty minutes. A tincture may also be used; the dose is twenty to forty drops in water as needed. Vervain is an emmenagogue (brings down the menses) and soothes the nerves. It is a powerful lymphatic detoxifier and has a cleansing effect on the female organs.                                       It will eliminate intestinal worms.                                            
Externally, vervain is used in poultices for ear infections, rheumatism, and wounds. It is distinguished from the European vervain by its deeper blue flowers and denser, bristly flower spikes. Blue vervain is also prepared in a standard infusion or tincture in alcohol. It is reputed to have aphrodisiac properties. In the treatment of depression it may be used with Skullcap, Oats & St. Johns Wort.

Vervain should be avoided during pregnancy.

Magickal uses: Vervain is a profoundly magickal herb belonging to the sphere of Venus. White vervain is the most magickal. A powerful herb of blessing and consecration when used to ritually “sweep” the altar or burned as incense. Roman priests and priestess used it as an altar plant, it was tied in bundles and used to ritually “sweep” and purify the altar. Druids place it in water that is sprinkled on worshipers as a blessing. Vervain is carried or worn to bring love and protection. It is used in the ritual bath and is scattered to bring peace and calm the emotions.                                   Anoint your body with its juice to aid in wish manifestations of all kinds. Place some in the chalice. Any part of the plant may be carried as an amulet.                                                                                                                                          Vervain is traditionally gathered at Midsummer or at the rising of the Dog Star when neither sun nor moon is in the sky, just before flowering. It is taken from the earth with the sacred sickle and raised aloft in the left hand. After prayers of thanksgiving are spoken, the Druid or Druidess leaves a gift of honey to recompense the earth for her loss. It was the divine weed that was sprinkled on the altars of Jupiter, the herba veneris employed in rites of love and a sacred plant (hiera botane) of the Druids.                                                                                                                                It is a sacred herb of purification and exorcism.                                                                                                               Vervain was once infused in wine and worn on the body to ward off the stings of insects and serpents. It is used in the bath as a protection from enchantments and to make dreams come true. Wearing or bathing in vervain places one under the influence of Diana. After washing your hands in the infusion, it will be possible to engender love in the one you touch and to turn enemies into friends.                                                                                                                           To dispel fears, light a candle daily and surround it with vervain. Speak aloud a prayer to the Gods and Goddesses asking for release from your fear. Do this as long as necessary. On the night of the full moon, go outside with a chalice filled with water, vervain, and salt. Take also a candle and a piece of petrified wood. Dip the stone into the water mixture and then pass it through the candle flame. Touch the stone to your feet, hands, shoulders, and head. As you do this ask for the blessings of youth and beauty. Repeat the process seven times.                                                      Vervain is worn as a crown during Druidic initiatory rites and as a protection for those who are working magick. It is sprinkled throughout the home or ritual area and burned as incense as a 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. Drinking the juice of fresh vervain is said to cut sexual desire. Ancient instructions instruct that to remain chaste for seven years, rise before the sun on the first day of the New Moon and gather the vervain until the sun rises. Then press out its juice and drink.                                                                                         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.

Properties: Antiperiodic, diaphoretic, emetic, expectorant, tonic, vermifuge, vulnerary, sudorific, nervine, emmenagogue. Contains essential oil, mucilage, tannin, verbenaline, and verbenine.

Growth: A perennial herb found in Europe, North Africa, China, and Japan. (Verbena hastate, the blue vervain, is a native of the Americas.) The plant has opposite leaves with toothed lobes; a stiff, quadrangular stem; and white or lilac flowers that appear June to October. The flowers grow on slender spikes and are without scent.                            
Blue vervain is a bristly, erect, perennial; the quadrangular stem reaches a height of 2-5 feet and bears leaves that are oblong-lanceolate, gradually acuminate, serrate, and 3-6 inches long. Some of the lower leaves are lobed at the base, making good on the botanical name. The small, deep blue or purplish-blue flowers are sessile in dense spikes, 2-3 inches long, which are arranged in a panicle. The fruit consists of 4 nutlets which ripen soon after the plant flowers. Blooms in July and seed ripen soon after. Blue vervain is native to the northern United States and Canada, found also in England. Grows in fields, thickets, waste places, in dry hard soils, and along roadsides.

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-3 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Tincture: take 2-4ml of the tincture three times a day.



(Viola odorata)

Flowers, root

The Romans welcomed the arrival of spring by scattering violet petals and leaves in banquet halls and with the partaking of "Violetum", a sweet wine formulated by the gourmet Apicius.

The ancient Greeks made the violet the official symbol of Athens. Legend has it that Zeus protected his lover, the goddess Io, from the jealous Hera by turning his love into a heifer and allowing her to graze unseen upon a meadow of sweet violets.

Medicinal Uses: The leaves and flowers of Violets have expectorant properties, and work well in cases of respiratory disorders such as bronchitis, colds, and coughs. One recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of oil in a cup of water to be sipped slowly four times a day.  Alternatively, making a tea to use as a gargle, or making a syrup by adding honey to thicken the tea. Ingesting a tea made of violet leaves is reportedly also effective as a laxative and for insomnia,                                    
Violet is effective in healing internal ulcers. It is used both internally and externally for pimples, abscesses, tumors, and swollen glands. It is useful in treating malignant growths as well.                                                                                 The whole plant is used, fresh or dried. The leaves can be eaten as a type of wild spinach, and the flowers are used in salads and desserts. High in iron, the fresh leaf is used internally and externally for cancer, especially of the colon, throat, and tongue. For this purpose, the fresh leaves should be infused daily and taken as tea; using one teaspoon of plant parts to a half a cup of water, steep and take a quarter cup four times a day. The tea can be applied externally as a fomentation. The leaves are used to relieve pain of cancer, especially in the esophagus where other pain relievers have failed                                                                                                                                                                
The flowers are laxative; the roots and stems are emetic and purgative. The fresh leaves are used in salves and poultices. Violets have antiseptic properties that may be helpful in relieving symptoms of various skin eruptions and sores when made into an Ointment and applied as needed. When mixed with almond oil and senna syrup, this herb is an excellent demulcent and aperient for children.                                                                                                        
Native Americans soaked corn seed in an infusion of yellow violet to prevent insects from eating the seeds.

Magickal uses: Violet in a pillow will help ease headaches away. Carrying the flowers brings a change in luck, and mixed with lavendar makes a powerful love sachet. Violets are an herb of love and protection. Violet crowns (chaplets) are said to cure headaches, dizziness, bring sleep, and calm anger. Violets are mixed with lavender, apple blossoms, yarrow and roses in love potions. The leaf is protective from all evil. Violets and periwinkle are used to decorate the graves and corpses of children. Custom says that if you pick the first violet of spring your dearest wish will be granted.

Properties: Alterative, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, emetic, expectorant. Flowers; aperient, astringent, demulcent, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, laxative. Root: emetic (in larger doses).                                                                         Contains salicylate glycosides, saponins, flavonoids, odoratine; which is an alkaloid, and mucilage.

Growth: A low-growing perennial reaching approximately 4 inches in height, the violet is particularly suitable for rock gardens, banks, as a border for ponds or anywhere groundcover is desired. The flowers of different species of violets range in color, but most frequently they are deep purple, blue, white, or pink. It succeeds in most soils but prefers a cool moist well-drained humus-rich soil in partial or dappled shade and protection from scorching winds. Propagation is easiest by division of an established plant. Simply break off a small section that has roots, pot it up for a few weeks until established and then plant out.

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoonful of the herb and let infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Syrup: Pore 1 pint of boiling water over 8 oz. 1 cup packed, of fresh crushed flowers and leaves cover and let stand for 12 hours. Strain and squeeze through cloth, add 2 lb. of sugar and boil for 1 hour or until syrupy. Store in glass jar. Give 1 tbs. -1 tsp. for children 2 or 3 times a day.

Tincture: take 1-2ml of the tincture three times a day.

                                  Walnut, Black:                                                   

(Juglans nigra) (Black Walnut)

Bark, leaves, rind of the fruit

Medicinal Uses: Walnut bark is used to treat dysentery and skin diseases. Use it as a douche for leukorrhea and as a mouthwash for soreness in the mouth or inflamed tonsils. The leaves can be used to make a cleansing wash, and the green rind of the fruit makes a good poultice to get rid of ringworm. The unripe nut kills intestinal worms.                        The nut is used to promote strength and weight gain. The ground hull of the nut is used to treat skin diseases, herpes, head and body lice, and internal parasites. Dried bark may be taken in a strong infusion as a purgative. Chewing the bark is a remedy for toothache; an insecticide for bed bugs.                                                                                              Walnut leaf is used to treat eczema, hives, and boils. Diluted walnut oil is used to treat dandruff. Use an infusion or decoction for diarrhea and to stop the production of milk.                                                                                           Rubbed on the skin, the extract of black walnut is said to help eczema, herpes, psoriasis, fungus infections, and skin parasites. Native Americans used inner-bark tea as an emetic, laxative, chewed the bark for colic, poultice for inflammation.
A strong decoction of walnut leaves, painted around doorways and woodwork, will repel ants.

Magickal uses: The nut still in its shell is carried to promote fertility. To discover if a Witch is in your midst, legend has it that you should drop a walnut still in its shell into the lap of the person suspected, and if that person is truly a Witch, they will be unable to rise from a sitting position as long as the walnut is in their laps.

Properties: Bark: astringent, laxative, alterative. Leaves: alterative. Rind: herpatic. Contain Juglon (also called nucin or juglandic acid).

Growth: Black walnut is a large, Temperate Zone forest tree growing to 120 feet; its bark is rough and dark. The leaves are pinnately compound, with 9-21 ovate lanceolate, serrate leaflets. Male and female flowers grow in separate catkins. The fruit is a deeply grooved nut inside a spherical, rough husk. October-November.
They prefer full sun, deep and well-drained soil, and regular water. They grow well in areas such as the eastern and midwestern United States.

Tea: steep 1 oz. of either the bark or leaves in 1 cup water and take 2 or 3 times daily.

Extract: mix 10 to 20 drops in water or juice daily.

Externally: rub extract on skin 2 times daily.

Wild Yam: Colic root, Devil's bones

(Dioscorea villosa)

Dried root (rhizome)              

Medicinal Uses: Wild Yam was used to make the original contraceptive pills when
synthetic hormone production was not a commercial proposition. Wild Yam is helpful
to the liver and the endocrine system. It is also used in regulation of the female
system, particularly during menopause and menstrual distress, as well as used in
treating infertility. Used with chaste berry and dandelion it is an effective treatment
for morning sickness. During pregnancy, small frequent doses will help allay nausea.           
Wild yam is said to be soothing to the nerves and beneficial for neuralgia, neuritis, and pains in the urinary tract. Some have considered it an antispasmodic, for pain, and recommended it for cramps. Is effective for the liver and gall bladder, indigestion. It will help expel gas from the stomach and bowels. Relieves gastrointestinal irritations, asthma, spasmodic hiccough, and "chronic gastritis of drunkards". It is used for: bilious colic; other forms of colic with spasmodic contractions; yellow skin and conjunctiva, with nausea and colicky pains; tongue coated, paroxysmal abdominal pain, and a stomach deranged; frequent small, flatulent, alvine passages; colic, with tenderness on pressure; sharp abdominal pain, made worse by motion. To relieve intestinal colic it may be combined with Calamus, Chamomile and Ginger. For rheumatoid arthritis it may be used with Black Cohosh.
Contains diosgenin, used to manufacture progesterone and other steroid drugs. Most of the steroid hormones used in modern medicine, especially those in contraceptives, were developed from elaborately processed chemical components derived from yams. Drugs made with yam-derived components (diosgenins) relieve arthritis, eczema, regulate metabolism and control fertility.                                                                                                                              
Synthetic products manufactured from diosgenins include human sex hormones (contraceptive pills), drugs to treat menopause, impotency, prostate hypertrophy, and psycho-sexual problems, as well as high blood pressure, arterial spasms, migraines, and other ailments. Widely prescribed cortisones and hydrocortisones were indirect products of the genus Dioscorea. They are used for Addison's disease, some allergies, bursitis, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, sciatica, brown recluse spider bites, insect stings, etc. These steroid-like substances and this may explain why it relieves rheumatism pains, and other inflammations. It can be taken to relieve muscle spasms.                                      
Native Americans used wild yam to relieve labor pains.

Fresh plant may induce vomiting and other undesirable side effects. Do not use during pregnancy except under medical supervision.

Magickal uses: Wild yam is used for fortification spells, and for grounding,

Properties: Analgesic, antibilious, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, emetic in large doses, hepatic, nutritive tonic. Contains glycoside saponins and diosgenin, which are hormone precursors, especially progesterone and other cortical steroids that effect the female menstrual cycle and help to reduce pain.

Growth: Wild yam is a perennial vine; the long, slender, knotted, contorted, woody, tuberous rootstock is crooked and laterally branched and twining stems. Broadly ovate and cordate, the heart-shaped, leaves are from 2-6 inches long and about three-fourths as wide, glabrous on top, and finely fairy underneath on long stems. They are usually alternate, but the lower leaves sometimes grow in twos and fours. The tiny, greenish-yellow flowers, cinnamon scented, grow on branched stalks from the axils of the leaves, male and female on separate plants, blooms during June and July, the male flowers in drooping panicles, the female in drooping spicate racemes. The fruit is a three-winged (triangular) capsule containing winged seeds. Usually found wild in the eastern half of North America.

Infusion: steep 1 tsp. root in 1 cup water for 30 minutes. Take 1 cup in the course of a day, a mouthful at a time.

Decoction: Place 8oz. chopped root in nonmetallic sauce pan, cover with water and bring to boil, reduce heat simmer for 20 to 30 min. Strain and store in refrigerator. Take in ½ cup doses twice a day.

Tincture: take 10-30 drops in water, 3-4 times a day as needed.

Willow: Pussy Willow, White Willow, Witches’ Aspirin 

(Salix alba)

Inner bark

Medicinal Uses: The white willow (S. alba) contains salicin, the active constituent from
which aspirin was first synthesized. White willow bark is used for rheumatic complaints,
arthritis, and headaches as well as diarrhea and dysentery. Fevers, edema, and the aftereffects of worms are treated with willow bark. To make the tea, steep three teaspoons of the bark in one cup of cold water for two to five hours, boil for one minute, and strain. Willow is also ground into a powder. The dose is one teaspoon, three times a day in tea or capsules. The tincture can be taken in ten- to twenty-drop doses four times a day. It is also used to cleanse and heal eyes that are infected or inflamed. It is safe to use, and is mild on the stomach and leaves no after-effects.                       Used in treating chills, ague, pain, inflammations, neuralgia, and gout.                                                                           Native Americans used it for diarrhea, to staunch bleeding, and for dandruff. Taken for worms, gonorrhea, dyspepsia, dysentery, chronic diarrhea and edema. It may also be taken as a bitter tonic in small doses before meals, to hasten convalescence from acute diseases. The tea made from the leaves or buds is good in gangrene, cancer, and eczema. A wash is used for corns, cuts, ulcers, poison-ivy rash.

Avoid using Willow if you are taking the following medications: Bismuth Subsalicylate, Celecoxib, Diclofenac, Etodolac, Flurbiprofen, Ibuprofen, Indomethacin, Ketoprofen, Ketorolac,
Nabumetone, Nadolol, Naproxen/Naproxen Sodium, Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, Piroxicam, Repaglinide, Rofecoxib, Salsalate, Sulindac, Ticlopidine, Zafirlukast

Magickal uses: Willow trees are planted near the home as a guard. Its branches have been used for the bindings on a witch's broom, and as healing wands. It is also used to bring the blessings of the moon into your life. The willow is a guardian tree, said to protect from evil influences. The willow tree has a healing aura that blesses all it touches. The old phrase “knock on wood” comes from the custom of knocking on the wood of the willow to advert evil. All parts of the tree may be used as a protection against evil. The wood is also used for wands that are dedicated to Moon magick. The besom is traditionally bound with willow branches. The leaves and bark are used in spells designed for love, healing and necromancy. Carry the leaves or add to love mixtures to attract love. Mix crushed willow bark and sandalwood and burn under the waning Moon for necromancy rites. It is said that to know whether you will be married within the new year, the willow tree can tell you. On New Years Eve throw your shoe into the tree (you have nine throws total). If it gets caught on any of those nine throws then you will be married within the next twelve months.

Properties: Alterative, anodyne, febrifuge, astringent, antiperiodic, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiseptic, tonic, and vermifuge. Contains glucosides, salicin (salicoside), salicum, salicortine, flavonoids, and tannin. The European white willow is very similar in properties to the North American variety but contains more tannins.

Growth: Willows prefer damp, low spaces, as a long rivers and streams, or areas that receive regular water. The bark of the willow tree is the source of one of our most potent drugs, acetylsalicylic acid, known as the aspirin. Grows to 90 feet tall. Branchlets pliable, not brittle at the base; silky. Leaves lance-shaped, mostly without stipules; ashy-gray in color and silky or hairy above and beneath (use lens). Covered with rough, gray bark, in some parts of the world it grows also as a shrub. Male and female flowers occur on separate trees, appearing in catkins on leafy stalks at the same time as the leaves. They grow throughout North America. Found in moist places in North Africa, central Asia, and in Europe (from where it was introduced to the United States).

Decoction: soak 1 to 3 tsp. of bark in a cup of cold water for 3-4 hours and then bring the water to a boil. Take a mouthful at a time of the unsweetened decoction, to a total of about 1 cup per day.

Cold extract: soak 1 tbsp. bark in cold water for 8-10 hours and strain.

Witch Hazel: Spotted alder, Tobacco wood  

(Hamamelis virginiana)

Bark, twigs and leaves

In colonial America, the shrub's flexible forked branches were a favorite
"witching stick" of dowsers used for searching out hidden waters or precious metals.

Medicinal Uses: Witch Hazel is used externally for insect bites, burns, bleeding wounds, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins. Internally it will stop bleeding from internal organs, treats bronchitis, flu, and coughs as well as promotes healing of stomach ulcers. It is often used as a mouthwash for conditions of the mouth and throat, and for bleeding gums.
Native Americans used witch hazel in sunflower oil as a massage oil for sore muscles, and used witch hazel as a natural deodorant. Leaves and bark have served mostly to make astringent preparations, which have been taken internally for diarrhea and used externally as a rinse or gargle for mouth and throat irritations, colds, and as a vaginal douche for vaginitis. For skin irritations, bruises, varicose veins, tonic after abortions, insect bites and stings, minor burns, and poison ivy, an ointment made from the fluid extract or a poultice can be applied. Local application for gonorrhea and leukorrhea. A poultice made from the inner bark is said to be effective for hemorrhoids and for eye inflammation. For the easing of hemorrhoids it will combine well with Pilewort.The inner bark also has sedative and hemostatic properties.               
Twig tea was rubbed on athletes' legs to keep muscles limber, relieve lameness, wounds, and swellings; tea for bloody dysentery, cholera, cough, and asthma. Used externally for bruises and sore muscles, minor pains, itching. Diluted with water or mixed with honey, the powder may be topically applied as a dressing for burns, scalds, scrapes, bruises, abrasions, and crushed toes and fingers. An effective wash for sunburn, inflamed breasts, and for various rashes. It is often used as an after-shave lotion.

Avoid using Witch Hazel if you are taking the following drugs: Atropine, Cardec DM®, Codeine, Ephedrine and Pseudoephedrine, Lomotil®/Lonox®, Theophylline/Aminophylline

Magickal uses: The forked twigs of the Witch Hazel are used for divining. It will help heal a broken heart and cool passions when carried.

Properties: Astringent, hemostatic, sedative, styptic, tonic. Contains tannin, traces of essential oil, flavonoids, choline and a saponin. The bark contains less tannin.

Growth: Witch hazel is a tall, deciduous shrub or small tree; growing to a height of up to 15 feet, the stems and branches are covered with scaly gray to light, brown bark. The alternate, elliptic to obovate leaves are coarsely toothed and often are finely hairy on the veins underneath. The fragrant, light yellow flowers have 4 strap-shaped petals and grow in nodding, axillary clusters, blooming in autumn when the leaves are falling. The fruit is a woody capsule which ejects two shining black seeds when they ripen during the summer or autumn following the flowers. It ranges throughout the eastern half of North America. It prefers full sun, and average soils.

Decoction: boil 1 tsp. bark or leaves in 1 cup water 15-20 minutes. Take 1 cup a day, a mouthful at a time.

Tincture: a dose is from 5-20 drops.

Ointment: mix 1 part fluid extract with 9 parts lard or Vaseline.

Wormwood: Absinthe, Crown for a King   

(Artemisia absinthum)

Leaves, flowering tops                                                     

Medicinal Uses: Wormwood is a principal ingredient in the dangerous
alcoholic drink absinthe, which has been made illegal all over the world
because it deteriorates the nervous system, causing attacks similar to
epileptic seizures. It got its generic name from Artemis, the Greek name
for Diana, because she discovered the plant's virtues and gave them to mankind. Wormwood is used for all problems within the digestive system, as well as liver and bladder ailments. It promotes menstruation and will help with menstrual cramps. Do not give to small children, and use only in very small quantities for very short periods of time, as the FDA considers this a poisonous plant. The leaves and flowers are used in a light infusion to help digestion, flatulence, and heartburn. Wormwood improves circulation and stimulates the liver. The tea is said to help relieve labor pains. Use one teaspoon per cup and steep for twenty minutes; take a quarter cup up to four times a day; or use as a tincture, eight to ten drops in water up to three times a day. A fomentation of the leaves and flowers soothes bruises and sprains. The oil relieves arthritis.                                          
Wormwood is above all a stomach medicine, being useful for indigestion, gastric pain, and lack of appetite, as well as the related problems of heartburn and flatulence, fevers, dysentery, asthma, burns, anemia. It is also said to be helpful for liver insufficiency by stimulating liver and gallbladder secretions, jaundice. Wormwood is a cardiac stimulant and therefore acts, when taken in proper doses, to improve blood circulation. Wormwood tea has been recommended to help relieve pain during labor. The powdered flowering tops have been used to expel intestinal worms and other parasites. A fomentation of wormwood tea can be applied externally to irritations, bruises, or sprains. A wash of the tea will relieve itching from rashes. The oil acts as a local anesthetic when applied to relieve pains of rheumatism, neuralgia, lumbago, tuberculosis, and arthritis.                                                                                 
The vinegar from boiled wormwood is good for halitosis, either from gums, teeth, or sour stomach.                               Also, repels moths; put in closets, chests, etc., no problem with moths. Scatter lavishly between the folds of clothing, dried wormwood, and wrap each article in newspaper before packing away winter clothing. Wormwood was used in considerable quantities by cloth manufacturers according to one old herbal. Mugwort, related to wormwood, was also used to protect clothes from moths. The oil of wormwood, rubbed on, will drive away fleas, flies, gnats, and worms. A few leaves of green wormwood, scattered where black ants have become troublesome pests, is said to be effective in dislodging them.
The oil is for external use only. Pure wormwood oil is poisoning. Relatively small doses may cause nervous disorders, convulsions, insomnia, nightmares, and other symptoms. Flowers may induce allergic reactions. Contraindicated in pregnancy. If you are pregnant, do not use wormwood.

Long use (over four weeks) or intake of amounts higher than those recommended can cause nausea, vomiting, insomnia, restlessness, vertigo, tremors, and seizures. Thujone-containing oil or alcoholic beverages (absinthe) made with the oil is is addictive and may cause brain damage, seizures, and even death.

Magickal uses: Wormwood is burned to raise your spirits to a higher level, enabling easier divination and clairvoyance. Thrown on the fire at Samhain, it will protect from the spirits that roam that night. The scent of wormwood is said to increase psychic powers. Burned with sandalwood in the graveyard, it is used to summon the spirits of the departed. Wormwood was once made into a very addictive liqueur called Absinthe. It is now banned in most countries because of its addictive and dangerous qualities. It is most likely from this that wormwood gained the reputation of being used in love infusions. Ancient tradition also tells of it being used as an antidote for poisoning by hemlock and toadstools. Carried it protects from bewitchment and supposedly sea serpents.

Properties: Anthelmintic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, cholagogue, febrifuge, narcotic, stimulant, stomachic, tonic. Contains absinthol which is common to all worm-woods, in addition to other essential oils including pinene, cineol borneol phenol cuminic aldehyde, artemisia ketone.

Growth: Wormwood grows mainly in temperate regions of the eastern portion of North America. Wormwood is a native plant in Europe, from where it was introduced into North America.
Wormwood's woody rootstock produces many bushy stems, which grow from 2-4 feet high and bear alternate, bi- or tri-pinnate leaves with long, obtuse lobes. Numerous tiny, yellow-green, rayless flower heads grow in leafy panicles from July to October. The stem of wormwood is branched, and firm, almost woody at the base. The stem is covered with fine silky hairs, as are the leaves. The leaves themselves are 3 inches long by one broad, thrice pinnate with linear, blunt segments. They are grayish-green and have a distinct odor. Found in waste places and along roadsides.

Infusion: steep 2 tsp. leaves or tops in 1 cup water. Take 1/2 cup per day, a tsp. at a time.

Oil: A dose is from 2 to 5 drops, 2-3 times per day.

Tincture: take 8 to 10 drops on a sugar cube, 1-3 times per day.

Powder: take 1/4 to 1/2 tsp., 1 or 3 times per day.

Yarrow: Wound Wort, Devil’s Nettle, Nosebleed, Old Man’s Pepper

(Achillea millefolium)
Whole plant in flower, dried in the shade. (usually leaves and flowers)

Yarrow is speculated to have been used 3000 years ago by Achilles during the Trojan War to dress his soldiers wounds.                                                                                                                              
Medicinal Uses: Yarrow is used to stimulate and regulate the liver. It acts as a blood purifier and                                     heals the glandular system. It has been used as a contraceptive, and as a part of                                                              diabetes treatment, as well as treating gum ailments and toothache. Also is used in                                                          formulas for treating colds, flus, and fevers. This is a classic herb for flu, especially the intestinal variety. Yarrow is one of the best diaphoretic herbs and is a standard remedy for aiding the body to deal with fevers. Try a mixture of elderflower, peppermint, and yarrow to bring down a fever and induce perspiration. The tea benefits the kidneys. For fevers it will combine well with Elder Flower, Peppermint, Boneset and with Cayenne and Ginger.      Yarrow is used in salves for hemorrhoids and in poultices to stop bleeding and heal wounds. Cramps and rheumatism are treated with the tea, as are intestinal gas, diarrhea, anorexia, and hyperacidity.  It arrests internal and external bleeding during childbirth. It is used to stop the bleeding of external wounds.               
Used since antiquity for headaches. Helps curb diarrhea, dysentery, anemia, gas, diabetes, Bright's disease, palpitations and excessive menstruation. Treatment for gastrointestinal and gallbladder complaints, gonorrhea, toothache (chew the leaves), lack of appetite, and catarrhs of the digestive system, hyperacidity, nervousness, nosebleed, bleeding from the lungs, anorexia, enteritis, stomach ulcers, hemoptysis, gastritis, high blood pressure, styptic, and sleep disturbances, produces a feeling of peace and relaxation for women in the menopause, and is a tonic. For raised blood pressure it may be used with Hawthorn, Linden Flowers and European Mistletoe.                     
Yarrow, either as a tea or as a bath additive, has proved helpful in allaying rheumatic pain and control of high blood pressure. Used for smallpox, typhoid fever, measles, malaria (Yarrow is more effective than quinine), and chickenpox to relieve itching.                                  
In antiquity, and during the Middle Ages, yarrow was used primarily to treat old wounds. As a wash, it can be used to stop bleeding from piles, nosebleeds, and cuts , and to soothe sores and bruises.                                                              
Used as an insect repellent for Japanese beetles, ants and flies. Plant as a border to the garden.

Yarrow might increase sensitivity to sunlight. Yarrow is not recommended during pregnancy or breast-feeding.

Magickal uses: Since Yarrow has the ability to keep a couple together for 7 years, it is used in love sachets as well as a gift to give to newlyweds. When worn it wards off negativity, and if held in your hand it repels fear. Yarrow added to the bath protects from harm. Yarrow attracts friends and draws attention from those you wish to see. Make the flowers into a tea to improve psychic powers. Large patches of yarrow growing in a field indicate a very grounded energy spot. Sit there to center and relax. Yarrow is excellent for eliminating negativity from a person, place or thing.

Properties: Astringent, antispasmodic, tonic, promotes sweating, styptic, hemostatic, alterative, diuretic, vulnerary, diaphoretic, carminitive, and stomachic. Yarrow yields a volatile oil containing azulene, also gum, tannin, resin, chlorides of calcium and potassium, and various salts such as nitrates, malates, and phosphorus, cineol and proaculene, achilleine (which is the bitter component of the herb), and vitamin C. Over a 100 biologically active compounds have been identified from yarrow.

Growth: Yarrow is a hardy, weedy perennial, grows 8-18 inches, sometimes to 24 inches tall. It prefers full sun, and average to poor dry soils. It is identifiable in part by the finely divided leaves and the erect flowering stalk with the white or reddish composite flowers that are arranged in panicle false umbels, and in part by its aromatic scent, which is released when the leaves and flowers are crushed. Borne in large, flat, dense clusters 6 inches in diameter, the flowers are on top of the erect stems. Each flower head resembles a single flower but has five ray florets and a central disk. Flowers in summer to early fall. Seeds have small wings. It has soft, grayish, feathery, ethereal-looking leaves. Native to Europe, now commonly found growing wild in North America. Yarrow is a familiar plant in meadows and fields, along the sides of country lanes, roadsides, on embankments, and in landfills and garbage dumps.

Infusion: Pour a cup of boiling water onto l-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and leave to infuse for l0-l5 minutes. This should be drunk hot three times a day. When feverish it should be drunk hourly.

Tincture: take 2-4ml of the tincture three times a day.

Yellow Dock:               

(Rumex crispus)

Leaves and roots

Medicinal Uses: Yellow Dock is a powerful blood purifier and astringent. It is used in
treating all diseases of the blood and skin. It is very high in iron, making it useful for
treating anemia. It nourishes the spleen and liver, detoxifies the liver, and cleanses and enriches the blood. It is a bitter herb that is good for liver and colon function, skin disorders such as psoriasis, cleanses skin of freckles and age spots, eczema, and urticaria, iron deficiency, especially during pregnancy, dyspepsia, leprosy, cancer, ulcerated eyelids, syphilis, gonorrhea, swollen lymph glands, hemorrhoids, bleeding lungs, bile congestion, laxative, scrofula, diarrhea, ringworm, fungus infections, rheumatism.                           
Tones up the entire system. Combine with sarsaparilla as a tea for chronic skin disorders. The ointment is used for itching, sores, swellings, shingles, and scabby eruptions.                                                                                            
Native Americans applied crushed yellow dock leaves to boils and the pulverized roots to cuts. When the leaves are crushed and applied as a poultice, yellow dock offers soothing relief from burning itch.                                                   
It will combine well with Dandelion, Burdock and Cleavers.

Large doses may cause gastric disturbance; nausea and diarrhea.

Magickal uses: Yellow Dock is a masculine herb that is ruled by Mercury and is associated with the Element of Air. It is used in love and protection spells. The seeds are used in money spells and incenses; or an infusion can be sprinkled around your business to attract customers. If you are a woman, tying the leaves to your left arm is said to help conception.

Properties: Antipyretic, astringent, cholagogue, depurative, tonic, laxative, anti-scorbutic, alterative. Contains anthraquinone glycosides, about 3-4%, including nepodin, and others based on chrysophanol, physcion and emodinchrysarobin, manganese, potassium oxalate, tannin, and rumicin, iron, phosphorus, calcium, vitamins A and C.

Growth: Yellow dock is a perennial plant; its spindle-shaped, yellow taproot sends up a smooth, rather slender stem, 1-5 feet high. Lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate in shape, the pointed light green leaves have predominantly wavy margins. The lower leaves are larger and longer-petioled than the upper. Blooming from June to July, the numerous pale green, drooping flowers are loosely whorled in panicled racemes. The fruit is a pointed, three-angled and heart-shaped nut. I t is found as a troublesome weed in meadows, fields and waste places in Europe, China, the United States, and southern Canada.

Decoction: use 1 tsp. root in 1 cup boiling water, cover with a saucer, and let stand for 1/2 hour, strain and reheat. Sweeten with honey, if desired. Take hot, 1 to 2 cups a day.

Powder: for skin problems the dose is 12 grains.

Syrup: boil 1/2 lb. of crushed root in 1 pint of syrup; taken in tsp. doses 3-4 times a day.


(Taxus canadensis Marsh)

Leaves (needles)                   

Medicinal Uses: Compounds in this shrub have been found to be effective in the
treatment of breast cancer.                 
Native Americans used minute amounts of toxic leaf tea internally and externally, for rheumatism, bowel ailments, fevers, colds, scurvy, to expel afterbirth, dispel clots, diuretic; twigs used as fumigant in steam baths for rheumatism. Leaves (needles) said to be anti-rheumatic and hypotensive. Yew sap was used by Celts to produce poison arrows.

All plant parts (except perhaps the red aril) of this and other yews contain the toxic alkaloid taxine and are considered poisonous. Ingesting as few as 50 leaves (needles) has resulted in fatalities. Berries are considered poisonous to man and beast.

Magickal uses: This plant is burned to contact the spirits of the dead. Because it grows to a great age, it became a symbol of stability in Celtic regions. It was used as the central “world tree” in ritual spaces and was often planted in graveyards. Yew sends up new trees from its roots, so it is a powerful symbol of death and reincarnation. Yew wood is appropriate for magickal tools such as wands and staves. In ancient times yew sticks were carved with the Ogham characters as tools of divination.

Properties: Yew is a source of taxol, an anti-cancer compound.

Growth: Straggling evergreen shrub, rarely over 7 feet. Twigs smooth, green; reddish brown on older branches. Needles 2-ranked, 3/8-1 inch long, narrowing into abrupt fine points; green on both sides, but with light green bands below; needles often develop a reddish tint in winter. Female plants produce juicy, cuplike red arils (pulp) surrounding 1/2 inch fruits. Seeds stony.

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