Friday 2 October 2020

Book Excerpts: The Sacred Herbs of Samhain

For the month of October, here are two excerpts from the Sacred Herbs of Samhain: Plants to Contact the Spirits of the Dead by Ellen Evert Hopman. Chervil and Marjoram:

Chervil (Myrrhis odorata)

Chervil is said to facilitate communication with the dead. As an herb of immortality, it places us in touch with our own eternal selves and thus closer to the realm in which the beloved dead reside.

Richard Folkard spoke of witches’ use of Chervil in his book Plant Lore, Legends, and Lyrics, published in 1884: “The chief strength of poor witches lies in the gathering and boiling of herbs. . . . Chervil and Pennyroyal are used because they both have the effect of making anyone tasting their juices see double.”

Chervil was also an ingredient in the ancient Saxon “Nine Herbs Charm”.

Chervil is a common garden herb used in cooking similarly to Parsley. Medicinally, the juice of the herb and root are taken for eczema (try a teaspoonful in water). A tea of the flowering herb can be used for coughs, gout, abscesses, anemia, digestive issues, and high blood pressure, while the root decoction makes an antiseptic wound wash. You can also use this plant in salves for wounds and gout.

Caution: Avoid medicinal doses of Chervil during pregnancy, as it may cause genetic mutations in the fetus.

Chervil at Samhain: Add Chervil to the tea or liqueur in your ritual cup. Burn dried Chervil on your altar as you converse with the ancestors.

Marjoram (Origanum majorana)

The genus name Origanum comes from the Greek oros and ganos, meaning “joy of the mountains.”17 Indeed, the Greeks and Romans considered Marjoram to be an herb of happiness and love, and they planted it on graves to bring joy and peace to the deceased. Plant the herb around the house and use the essential oil or drink the tea to dispel grief.

Sweet marjoram has long been an herb of love. According to Roman legend, the goddess of love, Venus, gave the plant its scent “to remind mortals of her beauty.” A similar legend surrounds Aphrodite, Venus’s counterpart in Greek mythology, who is said to have created sweet marjoram and grew it on Mount Olympus. Marjoram has been used in love potions and spells and as a wedding herb in nosegays/tussie mussies and bridal bouquets. In ancient Greece and Rome, a crown of marjoram was worn by the bride and groom during wedding ceremonies, a tradition that has also been associated with wild marjoram/oregano. . . .

In addition to its association with Aphrodite and Venus, marjoram was reportedly worn during rites to the god Osiris in ancient Egypt. . . . Wild marjoram also has an association with spirits, as it was thought to “help the dead sleep peacefully” if planted on a grave and foretell a happy afterlife if found growing on a grave in Greece.

In ancient Egypt, Marjoram was sacred to the crocodile god Sobek, son of Neith, creatrix of the universe. Sobek was sometimes considered to be an aspect of Horus because Horus took the form of a crocodile in order to retrieve the parts of Osiris’s body that were lost in the Nile, and Sobek was also thought to have assisted Isis in the birth to Horus. Offerings to Sobek often included eggs, statues of crocodiles, crocodile teeth, warm incense, spices, resins, and, among other herbs, Marjoram and Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

In modern times, a drop or two of Marjoram essential oil can be placed on a sore tooth to relieve pain (take no more than two drops per day). It is also used for coughs, gallbladder pain, depression, migraine, digestive disorders, headaches, coughs, colds, and nerve pain, as a compress, in a diffuser, in liniments, etc.

The herbal tea brings on perspiration, helping to lower a fever. It can benefit liver disease, stomach ailments such as gas and cramps, and menopausal symptoms, and it helps bring in breast milk. The tea is also used for colic, headache, earache, and cough and is safe for young children. It is a tonic for the heart and nerves and can improve insomnia, muscle spasms, back pain, and blood circulation.

Use the plant externally to make a fomentation for rheumatism and swollen joints.

Caution: Marjoram is an emmenagogue so it should be avoided in pregnancy. Long-term use of it could cause cancer. Children should avoid ingestion of the oil. Some people will experience contact dermatitis when using the fresh herb on their skin or in their eyes. Test a small area of skin before you apply it.

Marjoram at Samhain: Plant Marjoram on the grave of a loved one or in your garden. Use it in a dish for your Samhain feast or Dumb Supper (chopped fresh Marjoram is nice sprinkled on a salad, on deviled eggs, in sausages, in tomato dishes, and on poultry and game).

About the book

You can view Sacred Herbs of Samhain on Amazon. It is published by Destiny Books. Ellen Evert Hopman is a herbalist and author. You can find her blog and bookstore at,  You can study Druidism at The Tribe of the Oak

Pictures: (Top) public domain vintage print of a Rowan tree; (bottom) book cover.

Note: These extracts are for information purposes only, they are not advice. Consult a qualified medical herbalist before taking any herbal remedy.


Jane said...

Badwitch, you have a knack for reviewing books that turn out to be essential. I can't resist this one!

Badwitch said...

Hope you like it!