The wise women who inhabit the world of ‘Moon Goddess’ are also healers and midwives, so my research included herbalism. As is usually the case, I didn’t use all that I discovered, but I felt the knowledge gave me the confidence to write about healing through herbalism.
The best resource I found was ‘Culpeper’s Herbal’.
Here’s a smidgen of the notes I made:
‘All-Heal’ – flowers at the latter end of summer and sheds its seeds soon after, which are yellow and bitter in taste. It helps, among other things, all colds, lethargy, gout, cramps, convulsions, joint-aches, vertigo, and toothache.
‘Arrach’, also known as ‘Stinking Motherwort’ – flowers in June/July, and the seed is ripe soon after. Usually grows on dunghills, and smells like rotten fish. It was a universal medicine for the womb, cleaning and strengthening it.
‘Avens’, also called ‘Colewort’ and ‘Herbbonet’ – flowers in May/June, with the seed ripening nearer the end of July. It grows wild in many places, under hedges and by pathways in fields, preferring the shade. A ‘wholesome, healthful’ herb, it helps with ailments that leave the sufferer feeling under the weather; bruises; indigestion and wind; and is ‘a good preservative against the plague or any other poison’.
‘Bay Tree’ – oil made from the berries helps cramp, convulsions, aches, trembling and numbness of the limbs; and weariness and pains caused by travelling.
‘Bistort’, also called ‘Snakeweed’ and ‘Dragon-wort’ – flowers at the end of May, and the seed is ripe at the beginning of July. It grows in shadowy, moist woods, and at the foot of hills. A decoction (a concentrated juice resulting from heating or boiling) of the root, drunk with wine, hinders abortion or miscarriage.
‘Bugle’ or ‘Sicklewort’ – flowers from May to July, and grows in woods, copses and fields. A decoction of the leaves and flowers made in wine is good for dissolving congealed blood in bruises, and ‘inward wounds, thrusts, or stabs in the body or bowels’; ulcers, sores, gangrene; mouth and gum sores; also helps with broken bones. In ointment form, ‘it is so singularly good for all sorts of hurts in the body, that none that know its usefulness will be without it’.
‘Cinquefoil’ or ‘Five-Fingered Grass’ – flowers in summer, and grows by the side of woods, hedges, pathways in fields, more or less anywhere. It is good for fevers, shivering fits, inflammations, sore mouths, ulcers, and running sores, to name a few.
The roots boiled in vinegar - for gargling only - eases toothache
The juice taken with honey helps sore throats and coughs
The roots boiled in wine and applied to joints helped with aches and pains
The decoction eases bowel pain
‘Feverfew’ – flowers in June/July, and grows wild in many parts but can be grown in gardens. It strengthens the womb, and cleanses it and expels the afterbirth.
As for the gathering, drying and keeping of herbs, flowers and roots, this is what the book had to say:
- Only choose leaves that are green and full of juice, and pick them carefully.
- Note what places they grow best in and gather them there – for example: herbs that grow in the shade should be gathered in the shade, not in the sun.
- Dry them well in the sun; once dried keep them in a dry place near the fire.
- Dry them well in the sun and keep them near the fire.
- They are good for as long as they retain their colour and smell; once either is lost, the benefits are also lost.
- Don’t choose any that are rotten or worm-eaten; they should be whole in taste, colour and smell.
- Roots are best gathered when conditions are dry so there is no retention of excess moisture.
- Soft roots are best dried in the sun or hung in the chimney corner; hard roots may be dried anywhere.
I feel the need to put a little disclaimer here – this is for information purposes only. I personally believe in herbal remedies but also believe that modern, prescribed medicine serves a purpose. Please don’t use this information as a substitute for professional medical advice.