Herbs for the Modern Heathen by The Herb Witch
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Many of us, do not live in the place that our ancestors lived. I was born in England but moved to Canada
as a child. As a Heathen, I use herbs daily in my daily practice as well as in my sacred spaces and it has
been quite the journey researching the type of herbs and plants that my ancestor would have used. This
is my experience, and I am not going to tell you how to Heathen. I will chat a little bit about how I use
herbs to connect with my ancestors, the gods, the land spirits and wights.
I often have Offering fires in which I offer food to my ancestors, a drop of ale poured on the ground and certain herbs to burn in the fire as an offering. In my personal ritual I use the herbs that were common and abundant in the time of my ancestors. The herbs I offer are usually wormwood, mugwort, lemon balm, peppermint, clary sage, rosemary, rose petals, lavender and chamomile. I often interchange this with cedar, juniper and pine tips, black walnut, beech, birch, poplar, willow and elm barks. There is no need for a specific list, I offer what is at hand and what is available to me at that time. Better yet, bundling cedar, pine and juniper with these herbs is a wonderful offering as well and these bundles can be placed directly in the fire to burn along side any incense or loose herbs that you would like to add.
Herbs for the Land Spirits or Landvaettir
Throughout all the seasons, I will often walk through a field or a forested area and leave an herbal offering for the land spirits. I will often tie up a cloth bundle with various herbs and flowers and seeds and lay it in a clear area for the land spirits. Upon laying down the bundle, I open it up and lay it down flat on the earth. For me it acts as a token of my gratitude for all the gifts that I receive from the land. You can also sit in a spot of your choosing and burn an herb offering bundle or loose herbal incense. These are only suggestions, and you can certainly create your own way of offering up offerings to the Landvaettir.
When offering to the Gods the rationale I use to select herbs is to select herbs that symbolize the qualities and skills of that God. I will provide you with a short list of the herbs I use for offerings to the Gods.
Baldur – Sunflower petals, Marigold, Chamomile (flowers I associate with being bright)
Freya- Mints, Roses, Mugwort ( Seidr work) , daisies
Frigga – Flaxseed, Birch Bark, Lavender, Roses, Calendula (Hearth Herbs)
Eir- Lavender, Peppermint, Rose, Chamomile, Lemon Balm (Healing Herbs)
Hel- Mugwort, Plantain, Rue, Wormwood (plants associated with the dead)
Heimdall- Rosemary, Clove, Allspice, Clary Sage ( Herbs for protective vigilance)
Odin- Ash bark, Mugwort, Viper’s Bugloss, Woad, Red Clover (Shamanic Herbs)
Thor-Nettle, Thistle (protective yet aggressive plants) Oak bark ( sacred to Thor, Donar)
Woden – Mugwort, Plantain, Watercress, Chervil, Mayweed (Wild Chamomile), Dried Crab Apple,
Nettle, Fennel and Viper’s Bugloss (borage). These are the herbs from the Nine Herbs Charm poem.
**This is just a sample as I prepare herbs for many gods, but hopefully this gives you a bit of an idea.
Please use your own intuition and definitely use what is at hand.
When crafting bundles or incense for burnt offerings to my ancestors I like to offer what ever is in season as well as offering two specific flowers of herbs to my bundles. I often add Forget me nots to my bundles as well as Black Eyes Susans as they are said to act as a conduit to the beloved dead.
I go by the seasons, in early spring it is the first flowers such as violets, tulips and daffodils. Further into summer I will offer roses, lavender, calendula, peppermint, rosemary, clary sage, thyme and what ever else is in season. I the end, it is an offering of what you have and what is available for you to offer up.
Many Blessings to your home and hearth!
The Herb Witch
A highly recommended Youtube channel is that of Freyia Norling who is extremely knowledgeable regarding the use of herbs and more with Norse Folk Medicine.