The Shamanic Herbal: Holda's Herbs


[Elder](Sambucus nigra)

Names: Ellhorn, Lady Ellhorn, Alhuren, Battree, Boure Tree, Eldrum, Frau Holle, Hildemoer, Hollunder, Hylder, Ruis, Old Gal, Old Lady, Pipe Tree, Sureau, Tree of Doom, Yakori Bengeskro
Medicinal Uses: Once called "the medicine chest of the country people", Elder blossoms are infused for colds, fevers, hay fever, and as a gargle for sore throats. Tinctured, it is used for colds and flus. Elderflower water is good as an eyewash, especially during allergy season. Ointment made from the flowers is used to treat burns; ointment made from the leaves treats bruises and sprains. The bark is a liver stimulant, used for arthritic conditions and stubborn constipation, but causes vomiting in large doses.
Household Uses: The berries are eaten in jellies and pies, being rich in Vitamin C, and were made into tonic syrups for winter nutrition. Wine has long been made from both the berries and the flowers. [Elder]
Traditional Magical Uses: Elder is immensely protective and is hung over doorways and windows to protect a home from evil, snakes, and robbers. It supposedly has the power to release people from evil enchantments cast on them by sorcerers. Elder leaves or berries cast upon someone or some place are a blessing. Flutes made of elder will call faeries when played, although an elder staff will allow one to see through glamour. Elder wood should never be burned, as it is bad luck.
Shamanic Magical Uses: Sacred to Holda, the Frau Holle of German folktales who lived down the well in the Underworld. Elder is carried as a charm for her blessing, but while carrying it, one must be as the good daughter in the folktale who was willing to give aid to strangers and share food and resources with the needy. Being ungenerous and unhelpful while carrying her charm will bring down her wrath upon you. This tree is also favored by Hela, the Death Goddess, and it was used in burial rites in many areas of northern Europe.


(Genista scoparius)

Names: Besom, Bizzom, Planta Genista, Scotch Broom
Medicinal Uses: Flowering tops, drunk in tea, have first an exciting and then a sedative effect.
Household Uses: Making brooms.
Traditional Magical Uses: Raising the spirits of the Air. Purification through sweeping. This is one of the traditional plants for witches' brooms.
Shamanic Magical Uses: Special to Holda, Broom plants can be used to purify a home via the sweeping, bringing her blessing. Broom plants make good aspergers for purifying an area or a person with water. They can also be used dry, as the plant's name suggests. The plant does have a connection of some kind with the wind and weather, so they can be waved to propitiate the wind spirits, although the weather gods have the final say over major weather changes.


[Madder] (Rubia tinctorum)

Names: Rose Madder, Dyer's Madder
Medicinal Uses: Root helps break down and prevent kidney stones; relieves constipation.
Household Uses: Root yields red, pink, and brown dyes.
Traditional Magical Uses: None that we know of, although dyeing is its own magic.
Shamanic Magical Uses: As Woad is Odhinn's, and Weld is Frigga's, so Holda seems to have claimed Madder. Using the plant to dye things, especially household items, can bring her blessing and can be used as a propitiation.


(Dipsacus fullonum)

Names: Brushes-And-Combs
Medicinal Uses: Root is a liver and stomach tonic.
Household Uses: Used in fulling cloth, where it is even better than modern wire.
Traditional Magical Uses: In Romany lore, the rainwater collected in the leaf joints of Teasels cures wrinkles and dark circles under the eyes.
Shamanic Magical Uses: Special to Holda, who is one of the patrons of spinning and cloth-making. She also becomes angry at those who are lazy and do not keep their houses clean, and planting Teasels around the house will stay her wrath. They are also good to wave to banish small spirits that are plaguing your home; keep a bouquet of dried Teasels in the kitchen to keep it free of mischievous sprites that hide your things.

Wild Rose

[Wild Rose](Rosa canina)

Names: Dog Rose
Medicinal Uses: Splash eyes with rosewater for conjunctivitis. Take the hip syrup as a winter tonic for its vitamin content. Leaf tea has a mild laxative effect.
Household Uses: Rose hips are made into syrups, jam, and wine, petals into jams and jellies and rosewater.
Traditional Magical Uses: Spells of love, calm, and luck.
Shamanic Magical Uses: Sacred to Holda, it was said that dog roses could not be picked without her permission, or the bush would attack you. Make offerings to a wild rosebush (by fertilizing or watering it, not picking the flowers) in her honor, to gain her aid. Mother Holda is especially kind to travelers lost in a strange place.