Species: Peucedanum ostruthium, syn. Imperatoria ostruthium
Names: Masterwort, Meisterwurz, Magistrantia
Plant description: Hardy perennial, native to Alpine regions, grows up to 1 m tall, with large white flower umbels from July to August. The root is harvested in autumn or the following spring. It is used medicinally and 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, has been considered a strong healer and is worn as a magical protector against hexes of all sorts.
Folklore: Masterwort, German Meisterwurz, is an aromatic healing herb native to the alps, which became popular in medieval Germany. It is though to ward off hexes. In Tyrol it is traditionally used in yule incense: in some regions the home is fumigated with the smoke of burnt Masterwort when the “Rauhnächte” (the long, cold winter nights between yule and new year) approach. The root is traditionally harvested on St. John’s and placed in the roof of the barn to protect the cattle. It is believed to calm the cattle and has also been used together with garlic for protection purpose and removing hexes. It is also traditionally worn as an amulet. A twig of the plant is hung around the neck to heal blurred sight. In a protection spell against the pest, the so-called “Pestspruch”, it is also mentioned, along with burnet. Masterwort placed on open and infectious wounds is said to promote healing and it is even believed to drive bullets and arrowheads out of the flesh. Smoke three pipes of Masterwort to dispel headache and toothache. Wear an uneven number of its roots (7 or 9) around the neck to heal diseases of the eyes. One spell against phthisis requires a Masterwort root to be dug on the Good Friday or on a new moon falling on a Friday. Take seven pieces of the so harvested root. Then must also be unearthed as many pieces from the coffin of a pregnant woman, and together they must be hung around the neck to cure the person. The plant is otherwise gathered during the waxing moon and must either be worn on the back, in order to cure coughing and catarrh and then thrown into a river, or it is bound on the thumb and toe to fight epilepsy (possession).
Magical uses: protection, healing, mastery, warding off hexes
Planet, element: Mars/Jupiter/Sun, Air or Fire
Propagation: via seed – cold germinator. Sow seeds on fresh seeding compost that has been mixed with sand, press seeds on soil and cover barely. Water and keep warm for 2-3 weeks, then move to the fridge and keep at 0-4°C for ca. 4 weeks. Then move again to a warm and sunny place and water regularly. Or place sowing containers outdoors in winter, under snow and let germinate under natural conditions. Separate young plants and plant outdoors in April, in a semi-shade and limy, humus-rich soil.
Shop note: Available are the dried root and seeds. Besides this my Masterwort plants have begun spreading by their roots, so I currently have sprigs to give away.
- Wikipedia: Meisterwurz
Photos by Wiebke Rost