Thursday, August 7, 2008
Wortcunning: Herbs of the Deceased
Der Tod by Hans Baluschek, 1895.
Yes, I know. A pretty macabre topic, especially for most mainstream cultures who are extremely uncomfortable with the subject. But, I like to use herbs for all occasions, even the ones that are not so pleasant.
Listed below are herbs that are associated with death and that can be used in rituals surrounding death. This is comprised of lore that I found in Paul Beyerl's Master Book of Herbalism and Selena Fox's Funeral Herbs and lore that has been past on to me by friends and family.
As always, please do not ingest any herbs without being fully informed, and under the guidance of a qualified healer.
ACONITE is a VERY POISONOUS herb, and should only be administered by a qualified healer. It has been used to help the dying (at the time of death) transition comfortably to the stage after death. It can be planted on a burial, and used in an incense in ritual. The roots can be placed on an ancestor altar, especially around Samhain.
ANEMONE can be used in a ritual fire after the deceased has past over to encourage reincarnation.
ASPHODEL has traditionally grown on graves and washing the corpse. Gather in a bunch and tie in a red ribbon to aspurge the body in ritual.
BASIL is associated with love and protection, and is excellent to be used in an incense. It is used to help bring dignity and courage to one facing death. Can be incorporated into the ancestors' feast on Samhain.
BAY LAUREL is used for communication with the dead, and is sometimes used in funeral wreaths. Can be used in dishes for the ancestors' feast at Samhain.
BIRCH is often associated with rebirth and reincarnation. Blessings for the deceased can be written on birch bark and can then be buried or burnt with the corpse.
BLUEBELLS are planted on graves to bring peace and blessings, and may also be used to decorate the altar at the funeral, or on Samhain.
CHERVIL can be drank to aid one to in rituals of communing with the dead.
COMFREY is a helpful herb to help one get over the loss of a loved one. Excellent to plant in the garden in memorial of the deceased.
CYPRESS is associated with endings. Can be used to ritually bathe the body of the deceased.
ELDER is an excellent wood for a cremation pyre, or a sprig of elder can be buried with the deceased. Elderberries are excellent to decorate the funeral altar, or the altar at Samhain.
FRANKINCENSE can be burned at the funeral ritual, or in ritual while communing with the dead for purification, and spiritual transformation.
GARLIC is used for protection, and can be put on a grave, and cooked in dishes for the ancestors' feast at Samhain.
HOLLY is associated with resurrection and renewal, and can be buried with the deceased or used to decorate the funeral altar.
IVY can be planted at a grave to celebrate the life of the deceased and to encourage rebirth.
LAVENDER should be planted in memory of the deceased either on the grave or in the home of a living loved one to bring peace.
LEMON BALM is associated with immortality and happiness, and can be drank in a tea to lift spirits of the mourning.
LILY can be planted on a grave to represent resurrection.
LOTUS pods can be used as an incense burner to aid the soul seeking reincarnation.
MANDRAKE root can be buried with the body to protect the spirit and send it safely on its way. It also can be used to decorate the ancestor altar at Samhain.
MARJORAM can be planted on a grave and used in the ancestors' feast at Samhain.
MINT can be used as a strewing herb to bring joy to the mourning.
MISTLETOE can be buried with the deceased for protection.
MUGWORT can be drank by the dying to gain inner sight.
MULLEIN can be used to cleanse the body of the deceased.
MYRRH was once used in embalming, but can now be used as an incense at the funeral to bring healing, purification, and protection.
OAK is a tree of strength, and is an excellent pick to plant in the memory of the deceased.
PARSLEY can be strewn on the path of where the body is being transported, and can be planted at the grave site for good luck in the after life.
PENNYROYAL is used to bathe the corpse to assist in the soul being reborn.
PERIWINKLE is a herb of immortality and can be used in a funeral wreath or used to decorate tombs. Often used in the passing of children.
POMEGRANATE can be eaten at the ancestors feast on Samhain to represent rebirth.
POPPY can be used in funeral wreaths or planted at a grave site to bring restfulness to the deceased.
ROSEMARY can be thrown into grave sites, carried on funeral processions, or burned as an incense. Can be used in the ancestors' feast at Samhain, especially to commune to deceased friends.
ROSES represent love and purification, and are used in funeral wreaths and planted in memory of the deceased.
ROWAN is associated with protection. The berries can be buried with the deceased or used to decorate the funeral and ancestor altar, and can be planted on a grave site.
RUE can be burnt for karmic completion.
SAGE can be used as a smudge for purification, and ingested when communing with the dead, and to bring wisdom.
SANDALWOOD is an excellent purification incense that can be used during the funeral ritual.
TANSY was once used for embalming. It can now be used to aspurge the temple and the body of the deceased, and used to decorate the ancestor altar.
THYME makes an excellent ritual cup to drink before communing with the dead, and can be used in a ritual incense or bath for purification.
VIOLETS are appropriate flowers for the graves of children.
WILLOW is said to ease the soul at the time of death if it is planted by the deceased in their lifetime. Willow baskets can be used as offering containers for ancestors.
WORMWOOD can be used as an incense for transformational healing for the mourning, or to bring insight to the dying.
YARROW can be grown on graves in in the gardens of the mourning to bring protection and healing.
YEW is associated with immortality and endings, and was often planted in graveyards to protect the bodies of the deceased.