Sunflower Photo: Steve Andrews
I am happy to announce that I have had my book Herbs of the Sun, Moon and Planets accepted for publishing next year by Moon Books. It is already in the production stage and has some great endorsements from other authors including +Rachel Patterson and +Christopher Stone, as well as from druid Terry Dobney, Keeper of the Stones at Avebury.
But how can there be herbs growing on the Sun, the Moon, and the other planets, you are probably asking, well, the answer is that they do not grow on these heavenly bodies, but were ruled over by them, according to the ancient herbalists. Nicholas Culpeper is one of the most famous herbalists that was responsible for deciding which herbs were ruled by which planetary ruler.
The theory put forward by these past herbalists and herbalist schools of thought, was that specific deities associated with planets, such as Mars the god of war, and Venus the goddess of love, ruled over specific herbs that had characteristics associated with the deity that had dominion over them. For example, plants ruled by the Sun might have yellow flowers or petals that radiate outwards, like the sunflower.
I do not believe that the planets have any effect on plants growing here, apart from the obvious light from the Sun that they need to grow, but the subject is certainly a fascinating one, don't you think?
Herbs of the Sun
Besides the sunflower, some other herbs ruled by the Sun, include the St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum), which has bright golden-yellow starry flowers, and the eyebright (Euphrasia), which has a flower that is has been associated with the eyes and is said to be good for the vision when used as a herbal remedy. The Sun is, of course, the light-giver for all plants on Earth.
Mistletoe postcard in Public Domain
The mistletoe (Viscum album) is another herb of the Sun, and is a herb sacred to the Druids who worshipped the Sun and collected this herb at the time of the Winter Solstice. It was regarded as a herb of the Sun because it was cut down with a golden sickle and was thought to be sacred because it grew in a place between the earth and sky.
Herbs of the Moon
Herbs of the Moon are usually white or have white sap, or perhaps they bloom at night. Rounded leaves are another feature they can have. The water lily is a herb of the Moon, and so too is the jasmine (Jasminum spp), which has white perfumed flowers that emit their fragrance at night. The lettuce is also ruled by the Moon because it has a white latex inside its stems.
Herbs of Mercury
Mercury was regarded as the messenger of the gods, so herbs associated with this planet have something to do with communication.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), with its delicate foliage, aroma of anise, and tall and graceful appearance is a herb of Mercury, and it certainly communicates to our senses. The mint and lavender are also ruled by Mercury and these herbs are very aromatic too.
Herbs of Venus
Venus the goddess of love is also associated with sex, sensuality and femininity. Herbs that are ruled by Venus must have some association with these characteristics.
Greater Periwinkle in Public Domain Photo: Rosser1954
The vervain (Verbena officinalis) and periwinkle (Vinca major) are two herbs that have been used in witchcraft to attract love, so it is not surprising to find them included in the herbs of Venus. The rose, as already mentioned, is often used as a symbol of love. The catnip (Nepeta cataria) or catmint, is another herb of Venus, and cats certainly love this plant!
Herbs of Mars
Herbs ruled by Mars have some characteristics that make you think of aggression or war, or perhaps their red flowers, berries or sap reminds us of blood.
Dragon Trees in Public Domain
The dragon tree (Dracaena draco) with its sword-shaped spiky leaves and red sap that is known as dragon's blood is, not surprisingly, regarded as a herb of Mars. The meadow buttercup is another herb of Mars, and you are probably wondering why this pretty yellow flower is regarded as a herb that has anything to do with warfare and aggression? The answer is that its sap is very acrid and can burn the skin. This is why it is known to science as Ranunculus acris.
Herbs of Jupiter
The gassy giant planet Jupiter is associated with expansion and with deep thought and philosophy. There are several trees that are governed by Jupiter, presumably because their branches spread outwards. The lime tree (Tilia europea) is one of these, and so is the oak.
Thorn Apple in Public Domain
The poisonous herb thorn apple (Datura stramonium), which can cause hallucinations and death, is another herb of Jupiter. It can produce out-of-the-body experiences and is used by tribal shamans and in witchcraft but is a very dangerous plant. It is also known as Devil's Weed and Hierba del Diablo in Spanish. It is included in my Herbs of the Northern Shaman because of its hallucinogenic properties and because of its use for ceremonial and magical purposes.
Herbs of Saturn
Saturn is thought of as the "Grim Reaper" and it is associated with old age and death.
Hemlock in Public Domain
Poisonous herbs, including the deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), monkshood (Aconitum napellus), henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) and hemlock (Conium maculatum) are considered as plants ruled by this planet. All of these herbs are included in my Herbs of the Northern Shaman too because they have all been used in witchcraft and were ingredients of flying ointments. They are very dangerous plants though that can have fatal consequences if ingested.
The morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor) is another of the herbs of Saturn, and some varieties such as Flying Saucers and Heavenly Blue are so beautiful they look as if they could be from another planet!