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Herbal Codes - Or, you don't need to kill a black cat

Many grimoires and books of magic use animals and their parts as codes for herbs and other materials. Here are a number of them, some from the Greek Magical Papyri (see PGM XII:401-44), a work composed between 200BC and 500AD. Others come from Galen and Dioscorides, who are other ancient sources. Galen (120-200 AD) was a physician at the temple of Asclepias, which makes him a pretty darn authoritative pagan about herbs and herbal codes. Dioscorides (40-90AD) was a physician in ancient Greece and in Rome at the time of Nero. He wrote De Materia Medica, the first pharmacopeia (a sort of cookbook of medicine) in Western civilization. Thus, it is clear that since antiquity, animal parts named in magical formulae have NOT referred primarily to actual animal parts but to parts of plants. It is precisely these ancient sources that medieval and Renaissance grimoires referred to when they used herbal codes in formulae for magical materials. There is nothing "New Age" about it. On the contrary, it is very traditional to use codes as a "fence" to prevent the majority from accessing knowledge. An herbal code is exactly that sort of fence.

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