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volcaniclastic
19 Oct 2010, 15:59
The herbal code is a legendary list of herbal names disguised by other names. Among the Witches of old there was a great deal of hidden herbal knowledge and lore. Much of this lore was kept secret due to the pharmaceutical properties of herbs and herbal combinations, many of which were dangerous in the wrong hands. Consequently a code was created to keep these recipes secret and to discourage their use by the uninitiated. The following list in part of the herbal code common to several traditions

∑ A Dead Man: Ash root, carved in a crude human shape
∑ Adderís Tongue: Plantain
∑ Batís Wing: Holly Leaf
∑ Batís Wool: Moss
∑ Blood: Elder Sap
∑ Bloody Fingers: Foxglove
∑ Brains: Congealed gum from a cherry tree
∑ Bullís Blood: Horehound
∑ Corpse Candles: Mullien
∑ Dragonís Scales: Bistort leaves
∑ Ear of an Ass: Comfrey
∑ Ears of a Goat: St. Johnís Wort
∑ Eyes: Eyebright or Daisy
∑ Fingers: Cinquefoil
∑ Hair: Maidenhair fern
∑ Hand: The unexpanded frond from a male fern
∑ Heart: Walnut
∑ Lionís Tooth: Dandelion
∑ Skin of a Man: Fern
∑ Skull: Skullcap
∑ Snake: Bistort
∑ Tongue of a Dog: Houndís tongue
∑ Urine: Dandelion
∑ Unicorn Horn: True unicorn root
∑ Worms: Thin roots

These animals called for the following herbs:

∑ Blue Jay: Bay Laurel
∑ Cat: Catnip
∑ Cuckoo: Orchis, plantain
∑ Dog: Couchgrass
∑ Frog: Cinquefoil
∑ Hawk: Hawkweed
∑ Lamb: Lambís lettuce
∑ Linnet: Eyebright
∑ Lizard: Calamint
∑ Nightingale: Hop
∑ Rat: Valerian
∑ Sheep: Dandelion
∑ Snake: Fennel of Bistort
∑ Toad: Sage
∑ Weasel: Rue
∑ Woodpeckers: Peony

When a recipe called for a certain part of something, the following herb was used:

∑ The Eye: Inner part of a blossom
∑ The Guts: The roots and stalk
∑ The Hair: Dried, stringy herb
∑ The Head: The flower
∑ The Heart: A bud or a big seed
∑ The Paw, Foot, Leg, Wing, Toe, or Scale: The Leaf
∑ The Privates: The seeds
∑ The Tail: The Stem
∑ The Tongue: The Petal

Source Unknown

Ophidia
19 Oct 2010, 17:50
I've also heard that 'baby's blood' was strawberry juice, and the blood of a virgin was pomegranate juice.

thalassa
19 Oct 2010, 18:00
I know a girl that labels her spice rack like this...one of these days, if I ever get cool containers for my herbs and stuff, I think it would be fun

LiadanWillows
19 Oct 2010, 18:03
very informative!

Tylluan Penry
19 Oct 2010, 23:24
This 'mis-labelling' was very common in the ancient world... a quick glance at the Greek Magical Papyrii for example, shows some very unlikely ingredients that were in fact quite common substances, plants etc. To be honest, I'm not sure how much was to discourage the uninitiated and how much to bamboozle the credulous ;)

One of my all time favourites is 'the tears of a Hamadryas Baboon' which turns out to be ... Dill Juice. Since Dill juice is a major ingredient in baby's gripe water (it's name derives from the Norse 'Dilla' meaning to lull to sleep, apparently) I quite like to think of soothing my grandchildren to sleep with the tears of a Hamadryas Baboon....;)

Maulus
20 Oct 2010, 12:38
I have heard of the Hamadryas Baboon tears before and often wondered what they were, i didn't realise there was actually a code for the common ingredients, though thinking about it, it makes a lot if sense. *seeks out his old copy of the scottish Play *

Is there anywhere i could get more of the 'code'?

M

Tylluan Penry
20 Oct 2010, 12:46
Try Daniel Ogden's 'Magic Witchcraft and Ghosts in the ancient world...'

Maulus
20 Oct 2010, 14:10
Thanks Muchly, I found a copy on Scribd
http://www.scribd.com/doc/34128738/Ogden-Daniel-Magic-Witchcraft-and-Ghosts-in-the-Greek-and-Roman-worlds-A-Source-Book

:)
M

Dez
20 Oct 2010, 17:13
*seeks out his old copy of the scottish Play *


That's what this got me thinking of, too...

"Eye of Newt and Toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog...
Adder's wort and blind worm sting, lizzard's leg and howlet's wing...

Cool it with a baboon's blood, then the charm is firm and good."

Maulus
23 Oct 2010, 01:16
That's what this got me thinking of, too...

"Eye of Newt and Toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog...
Adder's wort and blind worm sting, lizzard's leg and howlet's wing...

Cool it with a baboon's blood, then the charm is firm and good."


Exactly, i remember reading that at school and wondering where they would get all those ingredients as they sound very specific.. it makes a lot more sense if they are using the Herbal Code. Which means that the people in the 17th Century were aware of what wise women/Witches would "use" as ingredients, not necessarily what they are. It would appear the the Witches were used to obfuscating their ingredients, almost like a lot of modern professions do today, using jargon and codes to keep the secret of their jobs..

M

Dez
23 Oct 2010, 15:42
Fascinating concept, isn't it? I never would have thought that it might be code words before this post.

Tylluan Penry
24 Oct 2010, 08:04
Coded ingredients are extremely common in many cultures - but especially in the PGM (Papyrii Graecae Magici) . So that basically covers ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome.... although this late in the day it's difficult to tell which comes from which specific culture.

Raphaeline
24 Oct 2010, 09:10
I'd love to apply this to my herb containers, rituals, etc. but I worry about inconsistencies in what's what and getting things mixed up!

Dez
24 Oct 2010, 12:15
I agree, Rafe. I'd probably do something like Latin instead.

PharaohKatt
21 Dec 2010, 17:29
This is so very cool! When I get a proper spice cabinet I'm definitely labelling my ingredients like this! Though I might have the key written down in case I forget :P

LiadanWillows
22 Dec 2010, 16:45
This is so very cool! When I get a proper spice cabinet I'm definitely labelling my ingredients like this! Though I might have the key written down in case I forget :P


What I did was write the "proper name" on the bottom of the bottle of spice then label the front with the herbal code name :)