stachy officinalis or betonica officinalis

Other Names St Brid's Comb, Stachys betonica, woundwort, common hedgenettle, lousewort, purple betony, bishopwort, bishop's elder, spiked betony

Betony is a woodland perennial and a member of the mint family with its characteristic square stem and bilabiate flowers. The flowers are lavender in color and appear in whorls from June through August. The leaves and stem are hairy and fragrant. The plant appears along woodland edges and can reach up to two feet in height. Betony is a European native that has naturalized over much of the United States and is considered a weed in many areas.

History and Folklore

The name betony is said to derive from a Celtic word bewton which means "good for the head".

The Egyptians regarded betony as a magical herb. A Spanish saying, "He has as many values as betony," shows the regard that people had for the plant. The Romans listed 47 different medicinal uses for betony, and believed that even wild beasts used betony as medicine, and would seek it out when wounded.

A common traditional use for betony was a guard against evil spirits and mischief. During the Middle Ages, it was planted in churchyards and worn in amulets for protection.

Household Use

Makes a chartreuse dye with an alum mordant.

Magical Attributes:

Identified with attorlothe of the Nine Herbs Charm, Betony resonates with the energy of the planet Jupiter and the element fire and is masculine in nature.

Betony can be added to any protective mixtures, grown around the home to protect it or carried on the person (especially under one's hat) to protect from negativity, misfortune and hexes. Scattered near doors, it prevents unwanted energies (and people) from entering. It can has been planted in graveyards to prevent evil spirits from escaping.

Betony can be stuffed into a pillow or placed underneath to prevent nightmares and night terrors.

See Also

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