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The Secret Names of Magical Herbs and Plants

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Claire has worked with crystals and many other aspects of paganism for over 14 years. She has also studied reiki up to master level.

Many who practice plant or herb magic have secret names for the plants they use.

Many who practice plant or herb magic have secret names for the plants they use.

Why Do Plants Have Magical Names?

All manner of plants—including herbs, flowers and so-called weeds—have been used in magic and healing for thousands of years. Plant materials can be used in almost any type of magic, and each plant has its own set of correspondences that help in choosing which to use and when. In particular, herb magic works closely with the beneficial and magical properties of plants. However, herbs can also be incorporated into other forms of magic (e.g., candle magic, jar spells and magical sachets).

Kitchen witches often work with herbs and other plants. They utilize a plant's magical properties by using them in the meals they cook, by brewing them into healing teas or by incorporating them in the making of balms or other remedies.

Plants can also be used to enhance rituals or to create a desired environment or energy. For example, they can be used in the creation of various types of incense that are used for different purposes—perhaps to promote concentration for a student, or perhaps an incense that generates a calming aroma used during meditation or to promote restful sleep. Additionally, many plants are believed to greatly benefit us when they are grown in or around our homes. A common example of this is the planting of red geraniums and rosemary in the front and back garden of your home. Both of these plants possess protective qualities and are thought to aid in creating a protective shield around your home. There are also a variety of houseplants that can filter the air in our homes, removing potentially dangerous chemicals. Not only that, their energy helps create a soothing and peaceful environment to live in.

The ancient Greeks and Romans used herbs for many purposes—they used them in medicines, cosmetics and talismans. A text found in China dating from around 2800 B.C. details the names and uses of over 360 different plants in use at the time. Many of these plants are still commonly used today in cooking, herbal remedies or teas. Plant and flower extracts or herbs often feature in shampoos, bath products and beauty products, bringing their ancient beneficial properties into our modern daily lives with ease. Although we live many thousands of years after the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, the healing and magical properties of plants remain unchanged. We can still enjoy the benefits of these if we take the time to learn their secrets.

Herbs can be a powerful tool in magic.

Herbs can be a powerful tool in magic.

The Witches' Secret Code

In the past, many people did not understand or were afraid of witches and magic. Misunderstanding and misrepresentation led to much persecution of those who were believed to be witches. People did not have to be caught practising magic or witchcraft to be accused—simply having knowledge of natural healing or the properties of herbs was often enough to be labelled as a dangerous threat. Because the dominant culture often considered witchcraft to be evil, dangerous, and related to working with the devil, many witches and natural healers lived in fear of persecution, witch trials and death. Understandably, it became necessary for witches to conceal their practices and beliefs to protect themselves and their families. One theory of these protective measures is that witches developed a code to refer to the ingredients used in their spells and potions. This also helped to ensure that their spells, correspondences lists and other magical ideas could not be stolen and used for less positive purposes and intents.

Today, some of these code names (such as eye of newt and bat’s wings) may be familiar to many from fairy tales and films. Films, stories and video games generally interpret these items literally. For example, the characters are often portrayed as having large jars of various body parts and strange substances, and the story may show them searching for rare or mystical ingredients. In truth, the names of these magical ingredients are often actually codenames for simple plants and herbs. Contrary to popular opinion, witches of the past (and indeed today) did not spend their time gathering animal’s eyes, blood or wings to use in their craft. In reality, many witches actually hold a firm belief in the importance of protecting nature and our planet—the idea of harming animals would be unacceptable to many.

Basil is a household herb with its own secret name.

Basil is a household herb with its own secret name.

List of Magical Plants and Their Folk Names

Agaric - Death Angel

Henbane - Devil’s Eye

Agrimony - Church Steeples

Holly Leaf - Bat’s Wings

Alyssum - Madwort

Honeysuckle - Goat’s Leaf

Amaranth - Red Cock’s Comb

Horehound - Bull’s Blood

Aster - Eyes

Houseleek - From the Foot

Asafoetida - Devil’s Dung

Hydrangea - Seven Barks

Basil - Witches' Herb

Knotweed - Sparrow’s Tongue

Bay Laurel - Blue Jay

Lady’s Mantle - Bear’s Foot

Belladonna - Devil’s Cherries

Lavender - Elf Leaf

Betony - Lamb’s Ear

Moss - Bat’s Wool

Bladderwack - Sea Spirit

Mugwort - Old Man

Briony - Snake Grape

Mullein - Graveyard Dust

Buckthorn - Bone of an Ibis

Mustard - Semen of Heracles

Burdock - Beggar’s Buttons

Pansy - Bird’s Eye

Calmus - Sweet Flag

Parsley - Devil’s Oatmeal

Carrot - Bird’s Nest

Pennyroyal - Organ Tea

Cedar - Kronos Blood

Pine Cones - Teeth

Chamomile - Blood of Hestia

Plantain - Adder’s Tongue

Chickweed - Tongue Grass

Poppy - Blind Eyes

Even the most commonly known herbs have secret magical names.

Even the most commonly known herbs have secret magical names.

More Magical Plant Names

Cinquefoil - Five Fingers

Purslane - Blood of Ares

Clover - Semen of Ares

Ragwort - Fairies' Horses

Coltsfoot - Coltsfoot

Rosemary - Dew of the Sea

Comfrey - Ear of an Ass

Rowan - Thor's Helper

Common Plantain - Englishman's Foot

Rue - Weasel

Couch Grass - Dog

Sage - Toad

Cowslip - Fairy's Cup

Shepherd's Purse - Shepherd's Heart

Dandelion - Lion's Tooth

Snapdragon - Dog's Mouth

Dandelion Leaves - Swine's Snout

St. John's Wort - Goat's Ears

Dill - Semen of Hermes

Tansy - Buttons

Dill Seed - Hair of a Hamadryas Baboon

Toadflax - Dragon Bushes

Elder Sap - Blood

Valerian - Capon's Tail

Fenugreek - Bird's Foot

Walnut - Heart

Fern - Skin of Man

White Hellebore - Semen of Helios

Foxglove - Bloody Fingers

Wolf's Bane - Wolf's Hat

Geranium - Dove's Foot

Woodruff - Master of the Woods

Golden Seal - Indian Dye

Wormwood - Old Woman

Great Mullein - Hare's Beard

Yarrow - Devil's Nettle

Did you know that lavender has a magical code name?

Did you know that lavender has a magical code name?

Do We Still Need Witch Names for Plants?

As knowledge and understanding of witchcraft grows, many witches are fortunate to now be able to practice their beliefs openly without persecution. Sadly, this is not true for all witches. Many must keep the truth concealed, even from their own family in many cases. This situation is often referred to as being in the broom closet, and codes such as secret plant names, the witches’ alphabet and runes can be useful methods of keeping their information and records hidden.

Even if you do not have to hide your practice of witchcraft or magic, you may still wish to record your spellwork and other information in a coded form. You may also like to include these secret names in the plants section of your grimoire or Book of Shadows. Another option would be to keep a list of plant folk names as you discover them, which could be useful for your research and knowledge. Of course, if you opt for this route, you are taking the risk that any coded information within the book can be easily translated by others. One solution to this is to keep your list of secret names separate from your main books, or to keep it in your phone or computer.

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Plant folk names can be recorded in your grimoire.

Plant folk names can be recorded in your grimoire.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Claire


Claire (author) from Lincolnshire, UK on April 14, 2017:

Thank you. It is always good to hear from like-minded people:) Have a great day.

Claire (author) from Lincolnshire, UK on March 14, 2017:

Thank you. Happy to help.

Arnay Rumens on March 12, 2017:

Claire it was great to read someone who is informed for a change.. I have always known the truth and various names..

I agree on point regarding persecution of witches, typical though. Great piece of writing and thank you )o( :)

January Moon from NY, Now Living in Atlanta Ga on February 17, 2017:

Wonderful Hub, I've been practicing a while now and never knew the secret names, thank you!

Claire (author) from Lincolnshire, UK on March 08, 2015:

Yes, definitely a relief! Thank you. Hope you have a good day.

poetryman6969 on March 08, 2015:

I am so relieved to find that we do not have to remove Newt Gingrich's eyes to do magic!

You just got voted up for divulging the most unique information I suspect I will hear all day.

Claire (author) from Lincolnshire, UK on February 25, 2015:

Thank you, glad you enjoyed reading. I totally agree, those who persecute others are often more of a threat themselves but people cannot see it. I am hoping to grow more of my own herbs this year so that I can be around, work with and preserve them for later use.

Karine Gordineer from Upstate New York on February 25, 2015:

Very interesting Hub Claire. I also work with plants primarily medicinally but also magically. Often people don't realize how the two really go together. Some herbalists feel that to truly be an herbalist you need to also know and understand the energetics or "magic" of a plant and I agree. Coming from differing lineages, Native American, Ukrainian, Celtic I see this on different levels. Love working with magical herbalism and teaching! So glad you mentioned about the persecution of true. Ironically those that would fear and kill them are certainly more violent themselves. Again, thank you for a great hub. Enjoyed your writing style as well.

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