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
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
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