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The 9 Herbs Charm: History & Salve Recipe


The 9 Herbs Charm is from a 10th century book called Lacnunga, which

takes its name from the latin word Laec or “healing,” and is a book of old



The text is written in Old English and Latin. The Lacnunga also contains

recipes written in Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, and Old Irish.

Traditional Preparation

Nine herbs common to the British Isles were prepared into a paste or

salve, all the while the healer is singing an incantation or “charm,” calling

on each herb and celebrating its virtues.

Healing Traditions of the Celtic People

Early Celtic druids left no surviving writings, so historians know very

little about them. Originally, the Celtic people occupied an area called

Gaul, comprised of many western European countries such as Belgium,

France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany. During

the Gallic Wars, from 58-50 BC/BCE Julius Caesar brought his armies to

Gaul and the Romans took over the area in an effort to expand their

empire. Celtic culture then expanded into the British Isles. The Romans

had long had a tradition of written history, where the Celts appear to have

only had an oral history, so as time went on and these two cultures

intermixed many Roman authors such as Pliny the Elder (24-79 AD/CE)

were able to record some of the Celtic practices regarding medicine and


Pliny the Elder described the Celtic healers, or druids, as “magicians”

and “priests” and said that they had a great fondness for plants. Greek

botanist, Dioscorides, a contemporary of Pliny who lived from 40-90 AD,

also documented some of the plants and practices of the Celtic druidic

people. The Greeks and Romans had a very practical approach to healing,

and did not believe in a magical or spiritual component to treatment, an

idea that grew out of the works of Hippocrates many centuries before.

Unlike the Greeks and Romans, Celtic healing had a very strong magical

component. Many of the Celtic remedies found in the writings of Roman

authors contained magical incantations or intricate and specific methods

for harvesting plants, for example Vervain was only harvested under a

new moon, using a sickle held in the left hand to cut the plant, then the

plant was given an offering of honey and milk.

The nine herbs charm is one such recipe, it includes nine common

herbs that were considered sacred to the Celtic people, nine also being a

sacred number. The herbs are prepared as the healer recites a lengthy

incantation wherein each herb is addressed directly and called upon to

assist in the healing. The herbs are boiled together and made into paste or

salve which is applied to the afflicted person while the charm is again

recited. The preparation was likely for infection or inflammation of the skin

as most of the charm deals with driving out infection or “poison.”

An excerpt about Plantain (Plantago Major), which was called


“And you waybread (plantain)

plant mother

eastward open

within mighty

over you chariots creaked

over you queens rode

over you brides tramples

over you oxen snorted

This all you then withstood

and dashed apart

as you withstand poison and infection

and that evil

that fares through the land”

Here are some websites where you can find the original Old English text

alongside modern translations:

The Nine Original Herbs:

• Mugwort (Artemesia Vulgaris)

• Plantain (Plantago Major)

• Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella Bursa Pastoris)

• Stinging Nettle (Urtica Dioica)

• Betony (Stachys Officinalis)

• Chamomile (Chamaemelum Nobile)

• Crab Apple (Malus spp.)

• Chervil (Anthriscus Cerefolium)

• Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare)

How to make an infused oil:

• Fill a jar with plant material, if making a 9 herbs charm aim for roughly

equal amounts of each plant (you can weigh them to be more exact)


• Cover plants with carrier oil

• Let infuse for 4-6 weeks, shaking daily


• Rehydrate your herbs with a small amount of high-proof (190) clear

grain alcohol for 12-24 hours. Use just enough alcohol to moisten the

plants, do not saturate them.

• Cover herbs with carrier oil (about 6-8 oz of oil per ounce of plant

material) and blend in a blender until warm.

• Strain immediately OR warm in a double boiler over low heat for an hour

OR set in a warm place for 1-3 days, then strain.

How to make a salve:

• Combine infused oil and beeswax in a double boiler over low heat

• The ratio should be 5 parts (by volume) of oil to 1 part (by weight) of


• Warm until the wax is fully melted

• Pour into containers and cool

Ways to use your herbal salve:

Apply to minor cuts, scrapes, bruises, burns, or chapped/dry skin


Slade, Benjamin. (2002). Woden’s Nine Herbs Charm. Retrieved from


Wagner, C., De Gezelle, J., & Komarnytsky, S. (2020). Celtic Provenance in Traditional Herbal Medicine of

Medieval Wales and Classical Antiquity. Frontiers in pharmacology, 11, 105.


Wyrtig. (2011-15). The Nine Herbs Prayer from the Lacnunga. Retrieved from


Wikipedia contributors. (2020, November 28). Gaul. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved

By S.R. Meyrick and C.H. Smith. - from "The Costume of the Original Inhabitants of the British

**The content of this post is for educational purposes only. The author disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. Ingesting wild plants is inherently risky. Plants can easily be mistaken and every individual will vary in their physiological response to a plant that is touched or consumed. Please do not attempt self-treatment of a medical problem without consulting a qualified health practitioner.


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