Doctrine of Signatures (Unit 2)

By 30th December 2021 May 11th, 2022 Master Herbalist Course

Master Herbalist Diploma: Unit 2: Doctrine of Signatures

Learning outcome:

Evaluate the science of Herbology and the role of a Herbalist.

  • Language of Flowers
  • There are nine herbs listed in an ancient Anglo-Saxon text, the Lacnunga, and there is a certain fascination in the belief that they could protect against physical, mental and emotional ailments. The herbs are chervil, crab-apple, fennel, mugwort, maythen (chamomile), stime (watercress), waybroed (plantain), wergula (nettle) and the previously unidentified atterlothe. It has now been translated to cockspur grass by the Archaeological Unit in Bury St Edmunds and this is likely the ‘Cock’s head fitch’ (Onobrychis), or sainfoin, of Culpeper’s Herbal of 1645. This group of rather unruly and unattractive herbs could be given a bit of style by planting them with paths in the shape of a Celtic knot design with the crab-apple tree in the centre.
  • The six herbs betony, vervain, peony root (named after Paeon, the physician of Olympus), plantain, yarrow and the rose were worn in an amulet to ward off evil and many sacred herbs were burned on hilltops on St John’s Day (23 June). It was believed that they purified the air and protected people, livestock and crops. St John’s Wort was the best known.
    Roots made a culinary comeback in 1699, when the book Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallet was published by John Evelyn. This book is an adventure in salad making with instructions for gathering and preparing over 72 herbal roots, stalks, leaves, buds, flowers and fruits.

Featured image: Mugwort

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