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The world of herbs
J.E. Kinghorn

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Celtic Folklore Surrounding Herbs,
Plants &  Trees.

In Scottish and Irish rural society it was a common belief that sickness and disease were mainly caused by fairies or Sidhe.  In remote areas, as late as the mid 1900's `Fairy Doctor's  were the only persons to administer a remedy.    A fairy doctor was a person who was gifted with a natural skill or power to combat `fairy magic'.  Secret words would be uttered and a ritual performed by the `Fairy Doctor' while administering the remedy to the patient.  Herbs were gathered in a special way, at the correct phase of the moon, while incantations were recited.  Herbs found by sacred streams were particularly effective and used to cure major wounds.  

Listed below are the most common herbs used in Gaelic fairy medicine.

Yarrow- Sacred herb and a very potent healer.  Eliminates toxins, curbs blood flow and good for colds.

Vervain- `crubh-an-leoghain'(dragon's claw).  Sacred herb used in Druidic rites and associated with visions.  Commonly used as a sedative and anticoagulant.

Eyebright- `lus-nan-leac' eye ailments, hay fever, colds, sore throats and coughs.

Plantain- `slanlus'(herb of health) expectorant and antiseptic.

Chamomile- `athair-talamh'(father of the ground).  One of the finest of the herbs and used for centuries for stomach disorders, anti-inflammatory for wounds and a sedative for nervous conditions.

Loosestrife- `camal buidhe' used a tonic to keep all bad things away.

Water buttercup-'fearaban' good for bones and joints.

Lichen-'dubh-cosac'-good for the heart.

Ribgrass- `slanugad'- will purge the body of all lumps.

Mullein-'lus-mor'-(great herb). Used   in folk magic and is said to bring back children abducted.  If eaten regularly, will ensure long life.

Purple Orchis-'lus-an-talaidh' herb of enticement.  used in love charms.

Wood Anemone- `bainne-bo-bliatain' used as a poultice on the head for a headache.


Rowan- Tree of high magic. Planted at the front door of the house for protection.  Necklaces of rowan berries with red thread are worn by Highland women for protection.

The Hawthorn tree is the favorite of the fairies but other trees such as the elder, hazel, blackthorn, willow and ash are also considered important fairy trees.

Origin: Dalriada Celtic Heritage Society, Isle of Arran, Scotland.

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