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Self healPrunella vulgaris
Self Heal
Traditionally, folk thought that witches grew this herb in their gardens to hide their true activites: "Look, I am so inoffensive that I grow this helpful, humble, mild herb, instead of stuff like, say, belladonna." I'm not sure about that, especially because self heal is found all over the world, so almost anyone can be seen as a witch if its presence in their garden is taken an indicator of witchiness! Some consider that the Druids used this herb, which they gathered at the New Moon when the Dog Star was rising (about when it would be blooming) to treat magical illnesses, such as being fairy struck. It is associated with the rune Ingwuz and the tarot card Judgment. Some like to include it in purifying floorwashes. It has been a part of hunter's magic; the Ojibwa made the root (which hot and bitter, would be ruled by Mars) into a drink consumed to sharpen the eyes before hunting. Generally, we can see from its use across different cultures for wounds that it's a Venus herb, but it is a quiet one, not one of the lush, sweet, big flowered Venus plants that would be good for love. I think of this as more of the quiet, peaceful home-protecting type of plant. I really like this herb because of the beauty of a blooming patch of self heal absolutely buzzing with all sorts of butterflies and bees enjoying the flowers (blue/violet being bees' favorite color). It is a wonderful cottage garden herb, just for its bee-friendliness and happy color. Top

BillhookA member of the mint family, which you can identify by feeling the square stem, self heal doesn't have a minty scent, more of an herby one. In folk medicine, a poultice of the fresh leaves was utilized for healing wounds. Typically, a tea is made from 1 teaspoon of dried herb per cup of boiling water; let steep for 10 minutes. Some use the tea as a gargle for sore throat or laryngitis, but it has also been used to wash sores or wounds in people or horses. Some North American native peoples have harvested the young leaves and added them to leafy greens to eat. In Ireland, it has traditionally been drunk as a tea for fevers, chest conditions, including tuberculosis, and heart ailments (the common name for it in Ireland is heart's-ease, and one of its other common names, heart-of-the-earth, might well refer to this use); this distinguishes it from use in most other cultures, although some North American tribes used it for fevers also. It gets the name carpenter's herb partly because the petals are shaped like billhooks, a traditional cutting tool for chopping small branches or saplings, such as would be used by people cutting thatch, coppicing, cutting saplings for hurdles and hedges, and by charcoal-burners. It would also be of use to a carpenter to stanch the blood of small cuts. Self heal makes a good groundcover and has been grown as part of green roofs. It will flower when very short if it is mowed. Self heal is also known as heal all, all heal, thimble flower, blue lucy, brownwort, brunwyrt, carpenter weed, hook heal, heart of the earth, blue curls, sicklewort, and dhaaru. Top

How to Grow Self Heal

Prunella vulgaris in my garden 2012Self heal will germinate at room temperature without any cold stratification, but it helps to cold stratify the seeds for a month. Also try fluctuating temperatures between 68-86F/20-30C (warm in day, cool at night). Transplant to sun or partial shade and damp soil. Like many mints, it enjoys wet spots. It gets up to 1ft/.3m tall and 9"/22cm wide, but this is the kind of plant that looks good in bunches. It's a short-lived perennial, so it might last only 3 years but can live as long as 10; it often reseeds, though. Violet/blue (or sometimes pink or white) flowers appear June-October. Hardy to zone 4 (-30F/-34C). This tends to spread, but doesn't seem as aggressive as other mints, at least, not in my garden. Butterflies and bees enjoy its nectar, and rabbits like the leaves.  Seeds live at least 5 years when stored cool and dry. Harvest the leaves when the flowers are just budding, preferably during a New Moon. General growing info. Top

Prunella vulgaris
Self Heal
150 seeds $3.50

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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Home Purification
Hunting Magic
Gentle Protection
Cottage Garden
Venus Herb

2013, 2018 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission