Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mugworts in May: A Folklore of Herbs

I stumbled across this book in Philippi, West Virginia during our recent visit to the state. Their historical society was having a fair - filled with Civil War re-enactments, viewings of the Philippi mummies, a covered bridge and a war-time amputation demonstration. A feast for the senses!

Anyway - I am entranced by this book - Mugworts in May. Written by herbalist Linda Ours Rago out of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. I bought it through the nice ladies at the Philippi Historical Society.

Linda harks back to the days of the Wise Women - pre-the witch hunts of the 1400's, when herbalists and their bounty were revered for their healing powers. The book is filled with herb garden ideas, descriptions and old-school uses of herbs, charms and folklore. An armchair field trip to another time and place.

My favorite part, so far, is the description of a Wise Woman's garden. Here's a quick sample of what would have been traditionally grown in this herbal apothecary.

Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
Borage (Borago officinalis)
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)
Birch Tree (Betula)
Garlic (Allium lilaceae)
Flax (Linum)
Elder Tree (Alnus glutinosa)
Meadowsweet (Spirea ulmaria)
Sage (Salvia)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus)
Thyme (Thymus)
Pansies (Viola)
Rowan Tree (Sorbus)

And I'll leave you with this traditional charm for aid and protection, also from the book.

"Rosemary wreath to encircle our home,
Give us fragrance, protection and light
From the mucklemark steppers
Who lurk and roam
Over hills in the dark of night."

Mucklemark steppers?! Eeeek. Rough times.


Anonymous said...

Tracey, I HAD to buy this book when I saw it and read about it on your blog. $4 (!) + $5 shipping (but still!) from West Virginia Book Company. :o) I got it in 2 days and am savoring it. A great book, thanks for the recommendation.


Tracey said...


Too cool!! It is truly a little gem. You are most welcome . . .