Yarrow

Achillea millefolium

Also known as millefoil, referring to its leaves that are fragmented in many parts, yarrow grows basically everywhere and multiplies quickly through its seeds.

Achillea Millefolium

Achillea Millefolium, illustration from Koehler’s Medizinal Pflanzen, 1887

The devil and divination

Yarrow is dedicated to the Devil, as some of its alternative names attest: Devil’s Nettle, Devil’s Plaything.

As a witches’ plant, it is used for divination. Grieve tells of a ritual to receive a vision of one’s future spouse: sew an ounce of yarrow in flanel and place it under your pillow before going to bed. Then say these words, which come from a nursery rhyme, written down by James Orchard Halliwell in 1849:

‘Thou pretty herb of Venus’ tree,
Thy true name it is Yarrow;
Now who my bosom friend must be,
Pray tell thou me to-morrow.’

Sources

Halliwell, James Orchard. Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales, A Sequel to the Nursery Rhymes of England. London: John Russell Smith. 1849. (fourth edition) View text on Project Gutenberg.

A Modern Herbal, by Mrs. M. Grieve

 

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