Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mardi: Herbal-Wise

Where I live, contact with and even threat from wild animals is a very real issue.  I’m not talking about running into an angry (and potentially plague-infected) squirrel while you’re out for a jog on Mulholland.  I’m talking about the possibility of surprising a mother moose around the corner from your house, or running into a fresh-out-of-hibernation bear in the school playground.  All of those are possible, but in this day and age only the moose and the bear are potentially deadly.

Of course our ancestors dealt with the threat of wild – and sometimes domestic – animals all the time and that is doubtless why thy decided certain herbs could be used to ward off such threats.  The favorite in hoodoo is horehound, and this herb is also specifically protective in other magickal disciplines.

Root workers sprinkled dried horehound around the perimeter of their property to keep off dogs.  This was in times when dogs were used as weapons, sent out in packs to dig up precious crops or to track people for lawful or unlawful capture.  By extension, the herb is now used to keep almost any animal off one’s property.  For example, I know a woman who has used it against her neighbor’s somewhat feral cats with a relative amount of success.

In Wicca, horehound is carried as a pocket piece for general protection against malevolent sorcery.  It can also be used to exorcise property of troublesome spirits.  Weak teas made from horehound are said to clear the mind and help one prepare for test taking, although pregnant women should not ingest the herb.  Scott Cunningham says that horehound was and should be burned to honor the Ancient Egyptian God Horus, after whom he claims it was named.

Finally, horehound is said to be beneficial when planted in the vegetable garden as a magickal way to keep pests of both the insect and small mammal varieties from eating up your lettuces and parsley.  Bonne chance ~

Header: Mid-Summer, East Hampton, New York by William St. John Harper c 1890


Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

I know people who swear to horehound in their garden. Personally, I know it is a handy fetish in New Orleans, particularly if you plan to do any hallucinogens like mushrooms. You just ain't alone there y'know. So don'mess around ok?
I plan to plant at Editilla's House of Piety.

Charles L. Wallace said...

My mom lived through the Great Depression, and among other things, she had a bunch of "home remedies"....

One of these was for when we kids had a cough or a sore throat.

Mama would put a few horehound lozenges into a small glass bowl (ramekin) and pour bourbon (whiskey) over it, enough to cover. Once the horehound lozenges had melted, the young patient was invited to drink down the remedy. One's cough would pretty much go right away.

In retrospect, it's a wonder I did not have a cough more often ;-)

Pauline said...

Editilla: horehound is very much a respected herb in the Gulf Coast area and, as you note, particularly in NOLA. My Aunt always had horehound growing in her garden down in Rigolets and used it for various purposes. I hope to see your garden next time I'm down home.

Charles: I bet that worked too! My mother's mother swore by a little whiskey for just about anything that ailed you. She frequently added herbs but sometimes I think that was just for show.

Timmy! said...

Hopefully the horehound will keep the neighborhood chickens (or as I like to call them, the neighboorhood bear appetizers) off our property too, Pauline...

Pauline said...

Although I think the bait... I mean those chickens are too fat to get this far down the road, I agree. Better safe than sorry.