Since the ancient times, herbs were perceived to have magical powers. Since people didn’t understand how to use herbs or plants, they thought that if a plant could cure a cold or stop scurvy, then surely the plant contained magical powers.
Take garlic for instance; this plant has been linked to have magical powers for centuries. It had the ability to kill bacteria and viruses, so it defended people against the plague. Not to mention, it did a beautiful job with vampires.
What about the adorable Mandrake, or Mandragora? You probably remember it from Harry Potter. The Mandrake root got its supernatural reputation because it resembled the human form. Due to its toxicity, the ancients believed that even touching the root would prove to be fatal. They would send their dogs to dig it up, and then it would be used only for supernatural purposes, such as protection against battle wounds, bringing luck in love, treating sterility, and my all time favorite, helping the owner discover hidden treasures. During the times of the Pharaohs, an onion was found to be a symbol of the universe; like the onion’ many layers, it was the Egyptians’ belief that the earth enveloped the underworld, and the earth in turn, was enveloped by heaven.
Many flowers had interesting connotations as well. For instance, the Greeks associated the rose with Aphrodite (the goddess of love); the Egyptians offered the rose to the dead Pharaohs, and the Christian Church associated the rose with the Virgin Mary. The three-leaf clover had the concept of the “holy trinity”, and for the Irish, it still represents the belief that finding a three leaf clover is a sign of good luck to come.
There are many other interesting stories about herbs and magic, and I happen to know quite a few; I will be able to write more on this subject, if anyone would be interested. Meanwhile, I’ll talk about Chinese Herbal Medicine, which is often incorrectly perceived as Folk Medicine. In reality, Chinese Herbal Medicine is one of the oldest and most profound health care systems of our times.
By: Raphaela Sorkin