my cayennes small pixels

Seems every culture has their Nine-Herb Charm

It is said that Odin hung upside down on Yggdrasil

For nine days to gain wisdom

He learned of the charm

And passed it along to the mortals.

The British have their Nine-Herb Charm

Etched on the Tenth Century Lacnunga

A manuscript that is reproduced online

They claim it works on snake venom

Citing Beowulf’s fight with the dragon

Also known as a serpent

Although if the charm was used

It was far from a proof of its efficacy

Since Beowulf died.

We Romani claim to be the earliest users

Those who know me know I used to make a salve

In fancy tins

Giving them away as gifts

Somewhere along the line

As herbs gained in popularity

It became more cost effective

To buy ready-made from internet sources.

It contained almost all the same herbs as mine.

What a wonderfully spiritual experience

To prepare an herbal potion, salve, tizana, poultice

It is like cooking a healthy meal

For those we love

The Zen-like feeling of handling ingredients

Mixing them together

Greenery from the Earth

Water to cleanse the food

Fiery transmutation of chemical properties

Air to cool for eager lips.

Preparing the Nine-Herb Charm

Whether for snake bite, insect venoms

Or whatever has invaded the body

Is spiritual too

Three times we sing

A thanks for each herb

The final mixture is strained

Then added to melted beeswax

Cooled in tins or jars

And depending on the recipient

Sung three times as we gently

Place the mixture on needy skin.


Ah, the one herb

Most secret and powerful of them all

Is Plantago lanceolata: Plantain

Plentiful and super strong

Used, by me, to get the Recluse spider’s venom

Out of my body

Or painful wasp stings

Or even splinters

Best of all, boils and even basal skin cancer

Respond to the Green Goop

As it magically removes body offenses.

(Plantago, we ask you, in humbleness

To use your power and pain repress)


Artemisia vulgaris—Mugwort—very European

A nervine that “cureth the shaking of the joynts”

That protects against diseases and misfortunes

Especially if used on St. John’s Night

An emmenagogue for female flow

Encouraging the venom to vacate.

(Mugwort with double protection

Help us heal misfortune and infection)


Nettle or Urtica dioica

Stinging plant of glasslike slivers

Inflammation reduction


An additional herb to oust venom

Of one sort or another.

(Stinging nettle who brings pain

Remove the worst of this terrible bane)


Gentle Chamomile: krasulko (daisy)

In the language of the Romani

Matricaria recutita is anti-inflammatory

But also anti-bacterial, aiding sleep and

Removing stomach upset

(As Peter Rabbit’s mother knew)

(Gentle krasulko, so full of healing

Return us to a healthy feeling)


Betony, Stachys officinalis, is protection

Against jakhalo, the evil eye

A cure-all for headaches and anxiety

But my phuri dai, Granma, replaced it with garlic

Unimpeachable Allium sativum or “siri” to us Romani

Hanging in garlands around the neck

Vampires? Dragons? Serpents?

Cut up and rubbed on the soles of the feet

Eat, eat, eat it with everything.

(Siri, powerful garlic, tasty and strong

An herb used for everything that is wrong)


Thyme, or mushtin, Thymus vulgaris

Promotes perspiration in fever

Pain alleviation

And the ointment takes away hot swellings.

(Thyme, a delicious enhancer of food

Also an herb when we need to be renewed)


Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare,

Wards off evil spirits and damages the “eye” of the adder (serpent)

Antispasmodic for respiratory passages, stomach and intestines.

(Fennel fights the poisonous snake

Our body is right when we finally awake)


Crab Apple, phabaj in Romanes

Malus sylvestris in Latin

Makes a strong poultice

For inflammations and ridding the body of toxins.

(Phabaj, eat an apple each day

For prevention or healing, so the wise say)


Cress is Nasturtium officinale but

Nasturtium flowers that we call dzuche

Are Tropaeolum majus

Or perfect for Florida: Nasturtium floridanum

With antimicrobial and antibiotic properties

Eat the full flower in salads.

(Nasturtium, lend us your power

Queen of the Earth, a healing flower)

NOTE: My Grandma only used several Romanes words for the Three-time chant. I do not remember the exact words but I do remember the idea and have reproduced them in English couplets.

© 2014 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja), Poetic Alchemy: Talking Blues