The Wild Flower Page

First steps

Finding flowers




Flower links

In touch



Wildlife links


The Nine Herbs
An Anglo-Saxon charm

Forget not, Mugwort, what thou didst reveal,
What thou didst prepare at Regenmeld.
Thou hast strength against three and against thirty,
Thou hast strength against poison and against infection,
Thou hast strength against the foe who fares through the land. 

And thou, Plantain, mother of herbs,
Open from the east, mighty within,
Over thee chariots creaked, over thee queens rode,
Over thee brides made outcry, over thee bulls gnashed their teeth.
All these thou didst withstand and resist; 
So mayest thou withstand poison and infection, 
And the foe who fares through the land,

This herb is called Stime; it grew on a stone,
It resists poison, it fights pain.
It is called harsh, it fights against poison.
This is the herb that strove against the snake;
This has strength against poison, this has strength against infection,
This has strength against the foe who fares through the land.

Now, Cock's-spur Grass, conquer the greater poisons, though thou art the lesser;
Thou, the mightier, vanquish the lesser until he is cured of both.

Remember, Mayweed, what thou didst reveal,
What thou didst bring to pass at Alorford:
That he never yielded his life because of infection,
After Mayweed was dressed for his food.

This is the herb which is called Wergulu;
The seal sent this over the back of the ocean
To heal the hurt of other poison.

These nine sprouts against nine poisons.

A snake came crawling, it bit a man.
Then Woden took nine glory-twigs,
Smote the serpent so that it flew into nine parts.
There apple brought this to pass against poison,
That she nevermore would enter her house.

Thyme and Fennel, a pair great in power,
The Wise Lord, holy in heaven,
Wrought these herbs while He hung on the cross;
He placed and put them in the seven worlds
To aid all, poor and rich.

It stands against pain, resists the venom,
It has power against three and against thirty,
Against a fiend's hand and against sudden trick,
Against witchcraft of vile creatures.

Now these nine herbs avail against nine evil spirits,
Against nine poisons and against nine infectious diseases,
Against the red poison, against the running poison,
Against the white poison, against the blue poison,
Against the yellow poison, against the green poison,
Against the black poison, against the blue poison,
Against the brown poison, against the crimson poison,
Against snake-blister, against water-blister,
Against thorn-blister, against thistle-blister,
Against ice-blister, against poison-blister;
If any poison comes flying from the east or any comes from the north,
Or any from the west upon the people.

Christ stood over disease of every kind.
I alone know running water, and the nine serpents heed it;
May all pastures now spring up with herbs,
The seas, all salt water, be destroyed,
When I blow this poison from thee. 

Mugwort, plantain which is open eastward, lamb's cress, cock's-spur grass, mayweed, nettle, crab-apple, thyme and fennel, old soap; crush the herbs to dust, mix with the soap and with the apple's juice. Make a paste of water and of ashes; take fennel, boil it in the paste and bathe with egg-mixture, either before or after he puts on the salve. Sing that charm on each of the herbs: thrice before he works them together and on the apple likewise; and sing that same charm into the man's mouth and into both his ears and into the wound before he puts on the salve.
Reproduced from
Leechdoms, Wortcunning and Starcraft of Early England, 1864-6