The Shamanic Herbal: Plants of Helheim


[Hemlock](Conium maculatum)

Names: Beaver Poison, Keckies, Kex, Musquash Root, Poison Hemlock, Poison Parsley, Spotted Corobane, Water Parsley
Medicinal Uses: Euthanasia.
Traditional Magical Uses: Death spells. Not recommended.
Shamanic Magical Uses: This is one of Hel's plants, as it brings a quick and relatively painless death. It is used in ritual suicide, which should not be undertaken without her approval. The plant is also used by Odhinn, as he is also a god of Death in his own way.


[Rue](Ruta graveolens)

Names: Hreow, Herb O'Grace, Bashoush, Rewe, Clubgrass
Medicinal Uses: Abortifacient; brings on delayed menstruation.
Household Uses: Moth repellent. Used in herbal smoking mixtures.
Traditional Magical Uses: The ultimate hexbreaker, Rue was worn to ward off poisons, plagues, bad luck, illness, evil spirits, werewolves and vampires, and all manner of things. It was the main ingredient of the magical "Water Of The Four Thieves", the anti-plague potion. Supposedly it grows best when stolen. It is the inspiration for the suit of clubs in the ordinary card deck.
Shamanic Magical Uses: Rue is one of Hel's herbs, and can be used as an asperger (dip it in water and sprinkle with it) to sanctify a place to her, and to beg her to leave your life for a little longer. It can be used as an offering to her, or as a divining rod to the Helvegr.


(Artemisia absinthium)

Names: Absinthe, Old Woman, King's Crown, Wermod
Medicinal Uses: As its name suggests, Wormwood expels intestinal worms from humans and animals. It is also a uterine stimulant, and is used in stalled labor.
Household Uses: Powder for moth repellent, infuse and spray for disinfectant and herbal pesticide on plants.
Traditional Magical Uses: Burned in an incense, it aids in psychic powers and protects from snakebite.
Shamanic Magical Uses: Wormwood is burned to call on the spirits of the Dead. It is a useful Helheim recaning herb; Mordgud has a special liking for it, and it can be burned to please her and propitiate her into letting you enter. Of course, if her mistress doesn't want you in, you're out of luck, but it can be worth trying. In or out of Helheim, burn it to get the attention of the dead. Wormwood can also be used as a mildly hallucinogenic drug in tincture form, due to its levels of thujone. If you use it, you might want to ritually call on Hela for protection first.


(Achillea millefolium)

Names: Milfoil, Achillea, Bad Man's Plaything, Carpenter's Weed, Devil's Nettle, Eerie, Field Hops, Gearwe, Hundred-Leaved Grass, Knight's Milfoil, Knyghten, Nosebleed, Old Man's Pepper, Sanguinary, Seven Year's Love, Soldier's Woundwort, Stanch Weed, Thousand-Seal
Medicinal Uses: Yarrow cleanses the system and is good before fasting. Use the infusion as a mouthwash for toothache, a phlegm reducer for colds, and inhale steam for asthma and hay fever. The leaves encourage clotting of blood, and can be used to stanch nosebleeds in an emergency. Poultice on cuts and wounds encourages blood-stanching. Yarrow is a uterine stimulant and can be used in combination with other herbs to bring on delayed menstruation.
Household Uses: Chopped leaves added to the compost pile will speed decomposition. Planted next to other plants, it stimulates their immunities.
Traditional Magical Uses: Yarrow aids in heightening psychic powers, is used in love spells, and brings knowledge.
Shamanic Magical Uses: It is said that "where the yarrow grows, there be one who knows." Yarrow is much loved by Hel, and seems to be one of her herbs. Its ability to speed decomposition reminds us of her modern title, "Mother Rot". Yarrow is used to ask a boon of knowledge from Hel, whether from one of her dead folk or from her own stores of wisdom. It can be eaten, drunk, burned, or aspersed. One can also use yarrow to call on Hel during battle circumstances to preserve one's life, but in return if you are allowed to live, you must give up all hope of Valhalla and dying in battle, and return home to die a straw death and go to her realm.


(Taxus baccata)

Names: Idho, Eoh, Eow
Household Uses: Smoldering yew leaves will keep away flying insects.
Traditional Magical Uses: Raising the Dead.
Shamanic Magical Uses: Sacred to both Hel and Ullr, whose hall was "Yew-Dale". A yew talisman will being his blessing upon a hunting venture, especially if it is carved with the rune Eihwaz, the yew staff. With the rune Ear upon it, it can be used to propitiate Hela and allow you to speak with dead people.