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The Old Witches Code - Herbs

We’ve all heard the old tales of witches making potions with ingredients such as wing of bat, and eye of newt and many other strange and weird things, many of these old tales are based on hearsay, stories told by one generation to the other, about the witch or healer that lived among them in the old days, eventually writers like Hans Christian Anderson, the brothers Grim and even Shakespeare put these tales to paper.

Now as farfetched as all of this may seem a lot of it is actually true in a way, at least it was very true to the ones telling the tales, witches and healers used to call herbs by strange names like these.

Some of the names were given to herbs simply because the users did not know or even care to know the Latin or modern names for them, others used the name as a sort of code that would allow them to treat the community without giving away the secrets of their trade, often these secrets were the only thing keeping them from being cast out of the community, and for some it was nothing more than a form of “Headology”  (See: The Wintersmith – Terry Pratchett).

Here is a list of common codes used and the true meaning behind them.

Adders Tongue Plantain
Bats Wing Holly Leaf
Bats Wool Moss
Blood Elder Sap
Bloody Fingers Foxglove
Brains Gum from a Cherry tree
Bulls Blood Horehound
Corpse Candles Mullein
Dragons Scales Bistort Leaves
Ear of an Ass Comfrey
Ears of a Goat St Johns Wort
Eyes Daisy
Fingers Cinquefoil
Hair The Unexpanded frond
from a male fern
Heart Walnut
Lions Tooth Dandelion
Skin of Man Fern
Skull Skullcap Mushroom
Snake Bistort
Tongue of Dog Hounds Tongue
Urine Dandelion
Worms Thin Roots
Teeth Pine Cones

These animals represented the following herbs:

Blue Jay Bay Laurel
Cat Catnip
Dog Couchgrass
Frog Cinquefoil
Hawk Hawkweed
Lamb Lettuce
Lizard Calamint
Nightingale Hop
Rat Valerian
Toad Sage
Weasel Rue
Woodpecker Peony

And when a certain part of something was needed, the following herbs were used:

The Eye Inner part of a blossom
The Paw Foot Leg Wing or Toe The leaf
The Guts The roots and stalk
The Privates Seed
The Hair Dried stringy herbs
The Tail Stem
The Head Flower
The Tongue Petal
The Heart A bud or seed
Crystal Lore Witches Herbal Color Magick Divination Fay Realm