The Garden

This is a growing collection of articles about different ‘witch’ herbs, including photos and info about sowing and growing these plants. To proceed click the menu on top or use the link list below. More content is being added continuously and as time permits. You may also visit the garden gallery with photos from customers’ gardens. You can also contact me at info@teufelskunst.com if you have any questions, suggestions or corrections.

(last updated: January 2017)

  • monkshood thumb2 copyAconite – The most poisonous plant genus of Europe consists of at least a hundred different species and has an array of legends and folklore attributed to it. Not by chance it is called ‘Plant Arsenic’ or ‘King of Poisons’. The article deals with the blue Monkshood, the yellow flowering Wolfsbane and some other aconite species… read on
  • angelica thumb Angelica – The aromatic sun and fire herb has a long tradition of usage as a medicinal “all-heal”. Originally called Kvann, it was well-known in Northern Europe, e.g. the Sami people and Vikings used it as a food source and for flavouring. Hence it is also known as “Norwegian Angelica”. After the introduction of christianity and the spreading of the black death… read on
  • brugmansia thumb copyAngel’s Trumpet – Also known as Devil’s Trumpet, Borrachero,  Devil’s Breath, Snake Plant and “the drug of the jaguar”. The plant is sometimes confused with Thorn-Apple and contains the same tropane alkaloids. Native to South-America, it is used by indigenous people in rites of passage and for prophecies… read on
  • belladonna thumb copyBelladonna – Deadly nightshade’s history of use dates back to ancient  Sumerians, who considered it as a cure against ‘demons’. Greeks drank it when they visited the Oracle of Delphi. Along with datura it was also part of the famous wine of the Bacchanals (or wine of the Maenads) and it was a main ingredient in flying ointments… read on
  • bittersweet thumb copyBittersweet Nightshade – Bittersweet nightshade is a Saturnian and Earth herb, with additional Mercury and Air attributes. It is traditionally used for protection from baneful sorcery and the ‘evil eye’, as well as cleansing and healing. It is also considered a typical fairy herb. The red fruits and Saturnian aspects evoke female deities of a darker… read on
  • black nightshade thumb copyBlack Nightshade – The medicinal use of black nightshade can be traced back to ancient Greece. It was considered cooling, calmative and mildly analgesic. Common folk-medicinal uses include the treatment of gastric and enterospasms, eczema, contusions and abscesses. Dioskurides called it garden strychnos (or edible strychnos)… read on
  • blackthorn thumb copyBlackthorn – In Rome the thorn-bearing tree was known as Bellicum, literally “charge”. In the Ogham blackthorn is represented by Straif, the Celtic root-word for the English ‘strife’ and represents the darkest of all trees. Thus the dark thorny branches are sometimes visualized to be covered in the blood of enemies. A long and cold winter was… read on
  • carnation thumb copyCarnation – Carnation is a fragrant sun herb, which has been cultivated for at least 2000 years. The original spelling of the flower’s name may have been “Coronation”. Garlands made of the flowers were worn as ceremonial crowns by the Greeks and the Greek name Dianthus literally means “flower of god”. In Christian symbolism carnation represents… read on
  • cinquefoil thumb copyCinquefoil – This creeping herb is of special relevance to my area, since Theodor Wolf, who spent his last years in Dresden, gathered and wrote several treatises on the cinquefoils. The leaves typically show five or more ‘fingers’ and it could easily be mistaken for strawberries. In old herbals cinquefoil is also referred to as five-leaf grass and five-finger grass… read on
  • ColumbineColumbine features prominently in medieval and gothic Christian iconography. It is a symbol for the holy spirit, the holy trinity and stands for humility. Seven columbines represent the seven spiritual gifts of the holy spirit, the seven cardinal virtues or the seven dolors of mother Mary. It was also know as herba leonis and amor nascostoread on
  • cornelian thumb copyCornelian Cherry – The wood of Cornus mas is extremely dense and hard (sometimes compared to Yew). the Greeks used the wood to construct spears, javelins and bows, considering it far superior to any other wood. The wood’s association with weaponry was known so well that the name for it was used as a synonym for “spear”… read on
  • datura thumb copyDatura – The genus name datura comes from Hindi dhatūrā, meaning a “plant”. Stramonium may derive from Greek strychnos, “nightshade” and maniakos, “mad”. In Mexico the common name is Toloache. Other names for this plant include Concombre Zombi, Devil’s Trumpet, Devil’s Weed, Thorn Apple. The following datura species are discussed… read on
  • foxglove thumb copyFoxglove – Contains the cardiac glycosides Digoxin and Digitoxin. The scientific name digitalis is derived from Latin digitus, meaning finger, which refers to the shape of the flowers, which are perceived to resemble thimbles. Fairies are believed to use them as a headdress and to have given them to foxes… read on
  • Ground ElderGround Elder is also known as goutweed or goatweed and herb gerard. It was thought to cure gout and related conditions, though no proof has been found for these alleged effects. It was introduced into England by Romans as a food plant and into Northern Europe as a medicinal herb by monks… read on
  • helleborus thumb copyHellebore – “Then he who is about to dig out the plant turns to the East and prays that it may be accounted lawful for him to do this and that the gods may grant him permission.” “One part hellebore with as much artemisia placed beneath a diamond gives…” Helleborus is a poisonous plant genus in the buttercup family… read on
  • HenbaneHenbane – Henbane residues were found in stone vessels at funerary sites dating back to the Neolithic period. It is considered to have a long tradition in necromantic rituals, e.g. Nordic shamans supposedly used the herb in astral flight and contacting the ancestral spirits. It also constituted one of the main ingredients in flying ointments and… read on
  • Herb BennetHerb Bennet, also known as Wood Avens or just Avens, was thought to banish evil spirits, and protect against rabid dogs and venomous snakes. The root was carried as a protecting amulet against the devil and poisonous creatures. In Christian symbology the leaves represent the Holy trinity and the flowers the Five Wounds of Christ… read on
  • IMG_1741 thumbLesser Celandine – The herb’s Celtic name “Grian” means “sun”. It has also been referred to as “spring messenger”. The flowers of Lesser Celandine signal the arrival of spring and days getting longer. In German it is called “Scharbockskraut” or “Skorbutkraut” = Scurvyherb. The early leaves are rich in Vitamin C and have been taken on board by sailors… read on
  • LilacLilac – announces spring and represents love but also has darker connotations. The fragrant flowers were used to mask the smell of a corpse. Because of the associations with death and the deceased it is considered bad luck to bring the flowers inside one’s home. On the other hand lilac flowers are used in excorcism and for clearing… read on
  • mandrake thumb copyMandrake – First accounts of Mandragora date back to ancient Mesopotamia 2000 b.c. where the plant was used as an aphrodisiac. Egyptians seem to have known the plant as well. Concrete hints at the plant’s use as a sexual stimulant can be found in Arabian, where it is called ‘devil’s apple’ and ‘balls (testicles) of the demon’… read on
  • masterwort thumb copyMasterwort – Aromatic healing herb, used in herb liqueurs, e.g. as part of Spiritus carminativus sylvii. It was believed to be an all-heal and contains anti-bacterial substances. The plant is also known as Magistrantia and is worn as a magical protector against hexes of all sorts. In Tyrol it is traditionally used in yule incense… read on
  • mugwort thumb copyMugwort – Mugwort has been used in concoctions since the early Iron Age. It was known as a remedy against fatigue and protected wanderers on their journey: Roman soldiers placed mugwort leaves in their sandals to protect their feet. In Germany it is thus also called Beifuß. Mugwort is the first herb in the Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charmread on
  • poison hemlock thumb copyPoison Hemlock – The poisonous plant can be confused with harmless wild herbs such as wild carrot and wild chervil. It is distinguishable by the dark red to purple spots on the lower stem and leaf axils as well as its pungent smell. The fresh seeds were used in combination with Opium to kill convicted prisoners, most famously Socrates… read on
  • IMG_1746 thumbPrimrose – In Norse mythology Cowslip was sacred to the goddess Freya, the “lady”, and was also referred to as “Freya’s Key”. Within christianity the flower became dedicated to St. Peter and the Virgin Mary and was referred to as “Our Lady’s Keys” and “Keys of Heaven” or simply “Keyflower”, which all relate to the bright yellow pendant flowers… read on
  • rosemary copyRosemary – The name literally means “dew of the sea”. In Greek myth it was draped around the goddess Aphrodite  when she rose from the sea. In Christian myth the herb became known as “Rose of Mary” when the Virgin Mary colored the flowers blue with her cloak. The leaves are aromatic and used for flavoring food. The oil… read on
  • IMG_6663 thumbRue – In magic and folklore rue is believed to break hexes and protect. E.g it was part of the infamous Four Thieves Vinegar, which protected four thieves from the Black Death. It is also known as Herb-of-Grace. Ritual sowing methods demand the pronouncing of curses whilst scattering the seeds. In Milton’s Paradise Lostread on
  • valerian thumb copyValerian – The name is derived from the Latin valeo, which means literally “I am strong”, “I am healthy”, “I am worth” or simply “I can”. The herb was hence attributed great healing powers. Valerian root has been demonstrated possessing sedative and anxiolytic effects. The entire plant smells of old cheese and is known to drive cats crazy… read on
  • vervain thumb copy Vervain – Classical healing herb said to ease nervousness and insomnia. Known since antiquity and often strewn on altars. Connected to anything sacred and the act of sacrifice. Believed to bear strong protecting and visionary powers and typically used in Samhain incense and teas for remembering the Beloved Dead, but also on Summer Solstice… read on
  • walnut thumb2 copyWalnut – During his travels to Central Asia Alexander the Great imported Walnuts from Sogdiana to Greece and planted some of the first Walnut plantations of Europe. Romans believed the god Jupiter ate the fruits when he visted the earth. Walnut shells, filled with little spells are worn as a magical means for protection against the evil eye… read on
  • wormwood thumb copyWormwood – An ancient healing herb. Used are the upper tops of fresh green leaves, which are harvested short before or when the herb flowers. The leaves are aromatic and bitter. They are used in cooking or boiled in water and drunk as a bitter tea. Wormwood is part of herbal liquors and constitutes one of the main ingredients of Absinthe… read on
  • yew thumb copyYew – An evergreen coniferous tree with dark green needles, gray-brown or red-brown bark and red berries from August to late autumn. The entire tree is poisonous except from the red fruit flesh. The heart wood is typically red. Because yew is often planted on graveyards, it is said that one root grows out of the mouth of each burried dead and that all yew trees are connected by their roots… read on

To be added next: Elder, Fennel, Greater Celandine, Hyssop, Lavender, Lily of the Valley, Peony, Sage, Tobacco, Yarrow…

Attention! I am looking for a proof reader, who is able to spare a few hours to read and correct the text material on this page. If you are good at working with texts (and perhaps also share the passion for plants and herbology) and wish to offer your proof reading service please get in touch with me via info@teufelskunst.com

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