Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Satzblumm - Western Pearly Everlasting

Anaphalis margaritacea
There are several related plants referred to as "Reiblumm" ("border flower") in Deitsch. One is the commonly used Gnaphalium polycephalum, which is known as Cotton Weed or Life Everlasting in English), and another is Anaphalis margaritacea, which is known in English as Western Pearly Everlasting, Pearly Everlasting, or simply as Everlasting.

This particular species is the only North American species in the Anaphalis family. It is also native to Asia and widely introduced in Europe.

The name Reiblumm refers to the plant's propensity to grow in grassy areas alongside fields. The alternate name, "Reinblumm" is often translated as "pure flower," but, in all likelihood, is actually a holdover from other German dialects and also means "border flower."

The third Deitsch name, "Ruhrgraut," means "diarrhea herb" because infusions of the plants leaves and flowers were consumed to combat dysentery. This is a use still found today in some parts of the Deitscherei.

Another use is reflected in the last Deitsch name of the plant, Satzblumm. The leaves of the plant were at one time used to make yeast (Satz), and the relationship of the plant to yeast still brings about uses to counter excess elemental Light in Braucherei in the Urglaawe context.

Light imbalances cause afflictions that manifest themselves mostly in nervous conditions, including tics, and in various bodily functions working in "overdrive" (hence dysentery). Interestingly, according to David Lick (193), an old custom survived in Montgomery County, PA, at least into the time they wrote (1922). The plant was collected and children who suffered from asthma slept upon it.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. The aerial parts of Solomon's Seal can  be toxic when consumed internally. Please consult with a licensed medical professional.

Lick, David E. Plant Names and Plant Lore among he Pennsylvania Germans. Proceedings of the Pennsylvania German Society 33. Norristown, PA, 1922.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Siggelwatzel - Solomon's Seal

Die Siggelwatzel
Die Siggelwatzel (English: Solomon's Seal; taxonomic: Polygonatum multiflorum) is a plant that is occasionally seen in the woods in the Deitscherei, but many people are unaware of the long history of this plant and its power to heal in the present. The plant is native to Europe, parts of Asia, and North America.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. The aerial parts of Solomon's Seal can  be toxic when consumed internally. Please consult with a licensed medical professional.

The primary part used is the rhizome, or the root. In fact, all aerial part, especially the berries, are toxic and should not be used internally without the supervision of a licensed medical professional.


The Penobscots using the rhizome (Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of herbal medicine, p. 252. New York: Dorling and Kindersley, 2000.) to treat gonorrhea (der Somefluss), and there is some evidence of such uses among the Deitsch. There is also evidence of Siggelwatzel being used in the treatment of croup (der Schtickfluss), sore throat (es Halsweh), and other chest ailments. However, these are internal remedies and are not commonly used in contemporary Blanzeheilkunscht. 

The most common use for Siggelwatzel in Deitsch herbalism today is for nerve pain (es Naerfeweh), a bruise (die Schrunn), or tendonitis (es Flexweh), and the primary method of application is by poultice (Packing) or salve (Schmier).

Rhizome Collection

The ethics of Blanzeheilkunscht are the same as those of all aspects of Braucherei when it comes to taking from the Plant kingdom. Never take the smallest, the largest, or the first one you see. Ethics of Blanzeschwetze command that the collector must make his/her need of the plant known, whether verbally or through meditative state and to ask permission of the plant to take from it. This is particularly important when digging roots or rhizomes because the potential for the plant to lose its life (rather than suffering a division) is increased. 

Poultice / Packing

When a poultice is being utilized, the root is often collected fresh from the ground as needed. 

The dried herb may also be collected and stored for moistening (or infusion) and later application as a poultice. The rhizome of Siggelwatzel is typically (but not always) collected in mid-autumn (late October or November) and allowed to dry prior to being chopped up and stored.

When the poultice is needed, the herb (fresh or moistened dried herb) is applied directly to the inflamed site and secured by bandages. The poultice remains in place for about 30-60 minutes. A fresh poultice are typically used in these circumstances three to five times per day.

Salve / Schmier

While poultices are an effective way to apply an herb full strength, they can also be messy and difficult to use given the busy lifestyle of most Deitsch folks today. Thus, many folks find it easier to make and to apply a salve of the root. 

The root is collected and is then infused in a carrier oil of choice (I tend to prefer olive oil, safflower oil, or grapeseed oil). A great description of the salve-making methods may be found on the Mountain Rose website:  http://mountainroseblog.com/diy-herbal-salves/

Once the salve is made, it may be applied liberally to the site of bruising, nerve pain, or to aching tendons (Flex) and ligaments (Gliederband).

According to Chevallier (252), "the rhizome has astringent and demulcent actions that undoubtedly contribute to its ability to accelerate healing" and tissue repair. 

Personal Experience

I am currently using the salve on my elbow, where my tendon has experienced a workplace strain. I have noticed an improvement over three days. From prior experience, I know it takes several days of regular application for the pain to reduce, and the trick is to keep from straining the tendon again during the time of application. I can, though, from that prior experience, vouch for the efficacy of this herb.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. The aerial parts of Solomon's Seal can  be toxic when consumed internally. Please consult with a licensed medical professional.


Despite the English language's association of this plant with the Israeli King Solomon, this plant has a discernible watery feminine energy in Blanzeschwetze. It should be approached with the same respect that one would approach a stately family matron. When approached in proper context, including statement of purpose, I have found that Siggelwatzel readily will grant permission to use the root. Again, though, please follow the ethics of rhizome collection as described above.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Zahwehwatzel - Spilanthes

This article was originally published in the Fall 2012 issue of Hollerbeer Haven (big file, give it time), but, since Zahwehwatzel is currently blooming gleefully in my garden, I decided to share it here, too.

This plant is not a traditional Deitsch herb, but it is used currently in our herbalism. Since the time that this article was published, I have begun adding Zahwehwatzel to various cold sore  (Nachtbrandzetter) remedies, and the results seem to be rather pleasing to those who have tried it.

The numbing effect of the spilanthes carries into the remedy and temporarily alleviates the pain of the cold sore.


Acmella oleracea, Toothache Plant, Jambu, Zahwehwatzel, Paracress 
Parts Used: Aerial in full flower 

Methods: Infusion, tincture, syrup, elixir, salve, balm, soak, honey, compress, mouth rinse 

Funky Little Tropical Plant 

Every now and again we come across a plant to which the Doctrine of Signatures certainly might apply! Spilanthes is one such plant. Known in English as the "Toothache Plant," Spilanthes looks like an aching, inflamed tooth. This annual is tender to frosts and prefers full sun to partial shade. 

Medicinal Magic 

Spilanthes contains alkylamides similar to those of Echinacea species. It enhances resistance to infections and to colds and the flu. It stimulates wound healing and decreases allergic symptoms. It is indicated for swollen glands, gum disease, and acute bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. It is used to combat intestinal worms, ear infections, cold sores, and herpes.As its nickname implies, it serves as a local anesthetic for dental issues. I have mixed Spilanthes tincture (fresh, 1:2, 100% A) with tinctures of lemon balm, self-heal, and white hyssop and set into a lip balm for cold sores. 

We typically use it in a tincture, but we are now also infusing the wilted herb in oils (sunflower, grapeseed, and olive) for inclusion in cold sore balms and creams.

Surprise in the Salad 

The leaves and the flowers of this plant are considered to be a nutritious, spicy green addition to a salad. If the flowering head is chopped up, you may notice a small, somewhat pleasant tingling. If you bite into a large chunk of the flowering head, be prepared to go numb! 

Happy Companions 

I had originally followed Tammy Hartung's advice years ago when I first planted Spilanthes. She said that Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) looked "festive" when planted next to Spilanthes. Understatement! Her advice also led me to plant near Stevia and Gotu Kola. All of the plants grew well, but the appearance of the final flowering of the Anise Hyssop with the emerging Spilanthes flowers in the mid-autumn made for a beautiful contrast of colors. 

In the 2013 garden, Spilanthes continues to grow nicely by the Gotu Kola. The Anise Hyssop has spread throughout the beds, but the Spilanthes also seem very happy thriving alongside (with some space to ensure sunlight) several of the Monardas (Monarda didyma, Monarda punctata, Monarda fistulosa).

Reseeding and Indoor Growing

Last year there was an apparent shortage of live Spilanthes plants. My usual starter plant herb farms here in Eastern Pennsylvania did not have the plant, so I checked online and did not have any luck with my usual vendors.

Fortunately, I had some old seed heads, and they easily reseeded and carried us through the summer. In the winter, I started a couple of seedlings in pots and grew them indoors under a grow light. They grew easily, and my cats each only tried chewing on the leaves once! The winter plants provided the seed for the plants that are now growing outside. 

Thus, let some of the later flowers go to seed and save the seed heads!


This plant has a mischievous and cheery spirit. I would not call it a trickster per se, though. It's youthful energy can echo one's own youthful spirit and help to reinvigorate one's sullen spirit during times of adversity and stress.

Works Cited:

Van Wyk, Ben-Erik and Michael Wink. Medicinal plants of the world. Portland: Timber Press, 2004, p. 307. 

Hartung, Tammi. Growing 101 herbs that healAdams, MA: Storey, 2000, pp. 154, 221. 

See more detailed studies at these sites: 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Es Meederle - Feverfew

Meederle - Feverfew
Feverfew (Deitsch: Meederle (MAID-er-LEH); taxonomic: Tanacetum parthenium or Chrysanthemum parthenium) has long been used, as its name suggests, to reduce fevers. It also has a long history of use in inducing menstruation and in expelling the placenta in difficult births. Currently, the plant is most commonly used in the prevention of migraines and as a remedy (typically combined with other herbs) for arthritic and rheumatic pain (Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of herbal medicine, p. 140. New York: Dorling and Kindersley, 2000.).

The aerial parts (all parts above the ground) are the portions of the plant used. Common methods include tinctures, infusions, decoctions, capsules of dried herb, and, occasionally external poultices. See the Aart un Weise page for Deitsch terms.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. Feverfew may thin the blood, so people on blood thinners should be careful with its use. Also, as the herb is used in inducing menstruation, pregnant women should avoid using this herb. As always, your health is your responsibility. Consult with a doctor before using any herbal remedy or preventative.

According to Deitsch botanist Christopher Sauer (Weaver, William Woys. Sauer's herbal cures, pp. 139-140. New York: Routledge, 2001.), Feverfew "possesses a sharp, volatile salt and volatile sulfurous elements" that he claims can thin tough phlegm and dissolve internal blockages, strengthen stomach lining, stop fainting, and benefit in many other ways, too. 

Wassersucht - Dropsy

Sauer lists out several methods for employing Feverfew. Among them is a remedy for dropsy (edema; Deitsch: Wassersucht). He states that Feverfew should be decocted in wine and a glass of the decoction should be consumed in the morning and evening. Sauer (Weaver 140) also mentions that the salt of Feverfew that is prepared in apothecary shops can treat dropsy if taken in daily in ten-grain doses in a glass of wine.  

Schpeis zum Kollick - Food for Colic

Sauer also also makes a reference to feverfew greens being used in the early spring in food, including pancakes, which make a good meal for men and women plagued by colic or "mother fits."

Colic is known by many names in Deitsch, depending on the severity of the ailment, but in this case, Sauer seems to have been referring to general pains of the stomach (der Maage) and colon (der Grimmdarem).

Muddergichtre, Mudderweh - "Mother Fits"

The "mother fits" reference is part of an Old World mentality that Sauer reflects in another way of utilizing the herb. This refers to hysterics attributed solely to women. According to Wikipeida, this is no longer a medical diagnosis.

However, the historical use of feverfew for the presumed affliction is worth noting. Sauer provided a recipe for an "hysterical water": Six handfuls of Feverfew, three handfuls each of Lemon Balm (Deitsch: Meliesegraut; tax: Melissa officinalis) and Pennyroyal (Deitsch: Ballei; tax: Mentha pulegium), two handfuls each of Holy Thistle (Deitsch: Gaardedistel or Gaarde Benedikt; tax: Cnicus benedictus) and Red Field Poppies (Deitsch: Kannros; tax: Papaver rhoeas), one handful of Fish Mint (another name for Spearmint; Deitsch: Wilderbalsem; tax: Mentha spicata), and one quint each of Cinnamon (Deitsch: Simmet; tax: Cinnamomum verum), Cubeb (Deitsch: Kubeb; tax: Piper cubeba), Anise Seed (Deitsch: Anissaame; tax: Pimpinella anisum), and Fennel Seed (Deitsch: Fennichelsaame; tax: Foeniculum vulgare). Chop it all together and pour one gallon of old white wine over this. Let it infuse for a few days, well stopped. Then distill. A woman who is plagued by mother fits may take several spoonfuls of this hysterical water daily.

The combination is interesting (please keep the Disclaimer in mind!), and at least Sauer's remedy does not involve shooting the hysterical water directly into the vagina (a practice in the 19th Century called "water massaging" that is somewhat related to a douche (Deitsch: Wasserschuss)).

Sinnzerdeeling, Kimmernisaagriff, Schlixergramp, usw

Although female hysterics, per se, is not recognized as a medical disorder any longer, some of the manifestations of hysterics are present in schizophrenia (Sinnzerdeeling), anxiety attacks (Kimmernisaagriff), and conversion disorder (Schlixergramp). Thus, by removing the sexist tone of the "female hysteria" and applying the traditional remedies to anyone, regardless of gender, there seems to be a more relevant practice to the Deitsch today. 

Disclaimer: Mental illnesses and disorders should be treated under the care of a qualified medical professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider.

Koppweh, Haufekoppweh, Eeseidichkoppweh

As mentioned earlier, the premier use of Feverfew currently is in the prevention of migraines. In Deitsch lore, this includes the generic headache (Koppweh), the cluster headache (Haufekoppweh), and the migraine (Eeseidchkoppweh). 

Sauer was, perhaps, ahead of his time by describing the use of Feverfew against headaches. He states (Weaver 140), "If fresh feverfew leaves are pulped and laid upon the crown of the head, and this is repeated several times, this will draw up a fallen uvula ["gefalles Zeppelche"] in the throat and prevent dizziness ["die Schwindlichheit"] and rheums ["der Schnubbe"] of the head, as well as stop headache." This is a reported use for several disorders, including a headache already in progress. Feverfew is used more commonly now as a preventative.

The preventative techniques can be as simple as consuming two or three leaves per day on a piece of bread (Chevallier 140) to consuming a tincture several times per day, per the manufacturers recommendations. The herb must be taken regularly and at the first signs of an attack in order to be effective.

Bug and Insect Repellent

Paul Wieand (Wiend, Paul R., Folk medicine plants used in the penna. dutch country, p. 22. Mechanicsburg, PA: Rosemary House, 1992.) states that the plant is a good stomachic and inducer of sweating in fevers and inhibitor of urine. A handful of the flowers, carried on oneself, will keep bees away. 

Indeed, collective folk wisdom also holds that bees and mosquitoes dislike feverfew (anecdotally supported in my garden, where bees avoid it but ladybugs and many varieties of flies are attracted to it). 

Sauer provides a reference (Weaver 140) to the distilled water of Feverfew killing and expelling worms if a small glass of it is consumed as needed. Additionally, he provides a remedy for an infestation of lice (Leis):

EXTERNAL USE ONLY UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL: Take four handfuls of Feverfew, three handfuls each of Agrimony (Deitsch: Odermennche; tax: Agrimonia eupatoria), Fumitory (Deitsch: Dauwegropp; tax: Fumaria officinalis), and Thyme (Deitsch: Deitscher Tee; tax: Thymus pulegioides), two handfuls each of the leaves of Meadow Saffron (Deitsch: Schwammsaffron  tax: Colchicum autumnale (INTERNALLY TOXIC) and Wormwood (Deitsch: Warmet; tax: Artemisia absinthium), and one handful of Water Betony (Deitsch: Brauwatzel  tax: Scrophularia marylandica). Boil these in water and prepare as a bath. Infected individuals should bathe in this infusion daily and make a fresh preparation every other day.  NOTE: This mixture would be used EXTERNALLY ONLY. CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE APPLYING. Colchicum autumnale is highly toxic when taken internally. 

Gedierarznei - Animal Medicine

Feverfew is also used in Deitsch animal medicine (Weaver 14) by grounding the herb into a powder in the evening and giving it to cattle with a salt lick. This remedy will alleviate panting and bloating in the cattle. 

Braucherei and Blanzeschwetze

In more esoteric Braucherei practices, Feverfew can provide a Venom or Salt elemental energy. Thus, it can be a neutralizer for Air and Time afflictions.

In Blanzeschwetze, the energies of Feverfew may be called upon to weaken sources of pain and to dissolve blocked energies.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Goldwatzel, Goldthread

Die Goldwatzel (also spelled Goldwarzel) is an old herb that was cherished in Native American and earlier Deitsch traditions but has fallen by the wayside over the years. The plant is known in English as Goldthread or Canker Plant, and the taxonomic name are Coptis groenlandica and the synonymous Coptis trifolia. This little plant is common throughout the wooded areas of the Deitscherei, particularly in places with damp soil. The part used is the rhizome, which is traditionally dug up in the autumn. The rhizome is traditionally used in a decoction applied as a mouthwash or in a gargle or lip lotion.

As was the case with the Lenape, the early Deitsch used Goldwatzel as a wash for sore mouths, and the Deitsch also used it as a tonic to restore strength and appetite after suffering from a fever (Brendle, Thomas R. and Claude W. Unger. Folk medicine of the pennsylvania germans: the non-occult cures. Norristown, PA: Pennsylvania German Society, 1935, p. 121). As one of the English names for the plant shows, it has been used for the treatment of canker sores (pdc: Maulgschwier).

Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. Goldthread (Coptis groenlandica or Coptis trifolia) should be used only under the supervision of a physician and should not be taken or used during pregnancy.

These uses mirror modern uses, which also include the plant being used as a treatment for peptic ulcers (Bauchgschwier) and vaginal yeast infections (der Deschbils). The plant's active constituents include, among others, the isoquiniline alkaloids berberine and coptisine. Goldthread has been used as a substitute for the unrelated Goldenseal (which shares one Deitsch name (Goldwarzel) but is also known as es Goldsiggel; taxonomic: Hydrastis canadensis). See also Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of herbal medicine, pp. 194-195. New York: Dorling and Kindersley, 2000.

The herb is said to be a highly bitter tonic, which, as a decoction imbibed as a tea, would aid with stomach problems. One use for the herb that seems to be uniquely Deitsch is as a treatment for alcoholism (Deitsch: Aelkehaalsucht). The consumption of the bitter decocted tea is said to reduce or remove the craving or alcoholic beverages (Wieand, Paul R., Folk medicine plants used in the penna. dutch country, p. 23. Mechanicsburg, PA: Rosemary House, 1992.). 

It is this last aspect that presents an interesting interaction from the Blanzeschwetze perspective. This plant is said spiritually to have an advisory spirit that can help direct those with addiction issues towards resolutions. However, the plant spirit will not communicate with those who would deny or not confront the reality of an addiction issue. This refusal to communicate with those who deny addiction is, in my opinion, a link between the "sore mouth" aspect of the plant's healing nature. If the sufferer is unwilling to speak truth from a "sore mouth," then the plant spirit will convey no advice. This bit of lore from Blanzeschwetze leads to a new link in Urglaawe between the plant and the goddess Vor, who is known from Norse sources to have a wisdom that allows for nothing to be concealed from Her.

Disclaimer Again: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. Goldthread (Coptis groenlandica or Coptis trifolia) should be used only under the supervision of a physician and should not be taken or used during pregnancy.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Guder Heinrich - Good Henry

Looking out in the garden this afternoon, I was greeted by a reemergence of Chenopodium bonus-henricus, which is commonly known in English as Mercury, Goosefoot, Smearwort, Allgood, or Good King Henry.

Guder Heinrich - Chenopodium bonus-henricus
The latter term is the one that I find to be of most interest. This plant actually has nothing to do with any King Henry, and any reference to a king is absent from both the taxonomic name and the Deitsch name, both instead meaning "good Henry," or, perhaps more accurately, "good Heinz," "good Heinrich," or "good Heinzelmann." 

These terms all translate to a variety of wights and gnomes, thereby relating the plant to magical uses associated with Elves and Kobolds (see Grimm, Jacob. Teutonic Mythology, vol. II. New York: Dover Publications, 2004, pp. 501-509). 

Modern depictions of Elves show them as being friendly to humans; indeed, some lore implies that some male human spirits go on to reside with (and to be counted among the Elves). However, there are also many indications that Elves are inclined to follow their own agendas and sometimes find humans to be annoying. Thus, their actions may sometimes even be detrimental. 

For example, there are quite a few compound words in Deitsch and concepts in Urglaawe that contain a form of "Elf" and carry a negative connotation. "Der Elbekeenich" ("the Elf King) appears shortly before one's death. The Elbedritsch is a trickster figure who can mislead those on spiritual journeys. A nightmare is an "Elbdraam" ("Elf Dream"), and an "Elfschuss" ("Elf Shot) is a sudden pain that appears in humans.

In the case of the latter two, there is some oral and written lore that indicates that the Elves may be presenting the dream or the shot as part of a service provided to a deity or an ancestral spirit in order to convey a particular message to the humans. Typically, an Elf Shot is not seen as resulting from a human sorcerer. However, there is an indication of there being one way for humans to employ Elves for hexes.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. 

"Guder Heinrich" is differentiated from an unrelated, highly toxic plant called "Schlechter Heinrich" (Mercurialis perennis or English: Dog's Mercury). 

In terms of esoteric beliefs, Guder Heinrich can be used magically as an offering, particularly through burning as incense, to Elves or other Wights to aid in a particular effort. Likewise, Schlechter Heinrich can be used in a similar manner to employ Elves for nefarious duties. 

Schlechter Heinrich is highly toxic and should not be ingested or handled recklessly. Likewise, the casting of hexes is equally toxic to the spirit. Fortunately, Guder Heinrich, when offered as incense, can break hexes brought about through Schlechter Heinrich. 

Additionally, Guder Heinrich is said to be sacred to Berchta. The leaves of the plant are in the shape of a gooses' footprint. Since Berchta has a splayed "goose foot" as a result of Her spinning, the appearance of the leaves most likely serves as the connection to the goddess.

On a less esoteric level, Guder Heinrich has medicinal and culinary uses. Although spinach has pretty much replaced Guder Heinrich in cookery, the plant may still be used as "poor man's asparagus" or as a side dish with rabbit or goose.

Deitsch botanist Christopher Sauer (Weaver, William Woys. Sauer's herbal cures, pp. 158-159. New York: Routledge, 2001.) describes Guder Heinich as being a temperate  herb with watery and nitrous salt elements. He saw it as a good herb for dissolution and stilling of pain and for helping to create good blood. He also saw it as a good poultice for angry wounds and as a constituent in a salve for hemorrhoids. Historically, a plaster of the leaves was frequently used to treat gout (Deitsch: die Gicht).

In the case of gout, we also have a known instance of Blanzeschwetze, or "plant conversation," that relates to the Guder Heinrich plant. On three consecutive days before the sun rises, approach a Guder Heinrich plant. Each day, if the ground around it is dry, pour some water at the base while chanting the Eiwaz rune. If the ground is wet, apply some rich soil to the base while chanting the Tiwaz rune. These serve as your offering to the plant. Then assume a comfortable position, hold a leaf or stalk of the plant in your left hand, and say the following Blanzeschwetze incantation:

Guder Heinrich Geeich die Gicht

Guder Heinrich!
Ich hab die Gicht,
Du hoscht die nicht!

[Uruz Roon dreimol]

Nemm die vun mir weck
Vergange unner dei Deck!


(English Translation)

Good Henry Against the Gout

Good Henry!
I have the Gout,
You have it not!

[Chant the Uruz rune 3x]

Take it away from me!
Dissolved under your cover!


Additionally, Guder Heinrich is also used medicinally to treat anemia (Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of herbal medicine, p. 188, New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2000).

The plant may be consumed like spinach.

Below is a Guder Heinrich Smoothie that is a modification of a Dark Green Smoothie published by Deitsch Master Herbalist, Rachel Weaver (Weaver, Rachel. Be your own "doctor," pp. 256-257. Reinholds, PA: Share-A-Care, 2010.

Disclaimer Again: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. 

Guder Heinrich Glattdrank

4 cups of Guder Heinrich (Chenopodium bonus-henricus)
2 bananas
3 tablespoons of pineapple concentrate
3 cups of water

Combine all ingredients (you may start with 1 banana and one tablespoon of pineapple and then add to taste) and completely liquefy all ingredients. I followed Weaver's advise to throw in a few ice cubes to make the drink nice and cold, and I enjoyed it. Weaver advises drinking two cups, refrigerating the remainder and then drinking throughout the day. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Fimffingergraut - Potentilla canadensis

Es Fimffingergraut (also called es Gansgraut) is known by many names in English, including Five Finger Herb, Goose Tansy, Helping Hand, and Cinquefoil. The taxonomic name for the genus is Potentilla. While Potentilla canadensis and Potentilla reptans are the species most commonly referred to in Deitsch lore, other species, including es Tormentill (en: Tormentil; Potentilla tormentilla or Potentilla erecta) could also be included. Tormentill is also considered a form of Fimffingergraut in Deitsch.

Tradition holds that the herb is to be collected on or after May 15 (or, in Christian lore, on Ascension Day, which is a bad day for things descending) and used as an astringent to combat dysentery or diarrhea.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. 

This is as good a time as any to introduce some of the Deitsch terms for bowel afflictions. Some of these terms present rather graphic imagery.

der Darrichfall or der Darrichlaaf (General terms)
die Schgidders ("the skids")
die Schpringers ("the trots")
die Dapperschpring ("the runs")

die Ruhr (General term; how this term relates to the Ruhr River in Germany, I can only guess)
die Flutter (Flux)
die Rotruhr ("red runs")
der Rotlaaf (rare term for extreme dysentery)

There are actually quite a few additional terms that present additional connotations, but these will suffice for now. Also, there are many, many other herbs that are used as remedies for these afflictions, but Fimffingergraut is an herb that is commonly available already this early in the year.

Early Deitsch botanist, Christopher Sauer, provides some other uses for Fimffingergraut, including chewing the root daily to prevent tooth decay (pdc: die Zaahfaulnis) and combining the juice of the plant with honey and  butter to alleviate consumption (pdc: die Auszehring or der Verbrauch). See Weaver, William Woys. Sauer's Herbal Cures. New York: Routledge, 2001, pp. 102-103.

Applied topically as a lotion or salve, Fimffingergraut can help to relieve hemorrhoids and to protect areas of damaged or burned skin. It may also be used as a remedy for throat infections, canker sores, irritable bowel syndrome (pdc: der Reissesdarrem, and colitis (pdc: der Grimmdarremfluss). See Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2000, p. 255. 

The use of Fimffingergraut as a remedy for a sore throat  is also reflected in Sauer's recipe (103) for a mouthwash to cure scurvy of the mouth (pdc: der Maulscharbock) and bad breath (pdc: der Maulgeruch). 

There is also a Deitsch myth that states that carrying Fimffingergraut on the person will prevent forgetfulness. This myth is supported by Sauer's (102) reference to repeatedly imbibing a decoction of the root (see below) to strengthen a weak head (forgetfulness; pdc: die Vergesslichkeet).

Regarding more esoteric traditions and uses, Fimffingergraut has a great many uses and associations. Many see this as a masculine herb associated with the god Ziu (Tyr). This relationship is due, most likely, to the myth that possessing the herb on one's person gives one the ability to stand before authorities and win one's just cases. Another reason for the association could be that the "five fingers" represent the hand Tyr sacrificed to bind the wolf Fenris.

There is a perhaps even stronger case for a feminine association with the goddesses Berchta and Holle. The clues are in the alternate names "Gansgraut" and "Goose Tansy" and in the date of May 15 for collection.

Both Holle and Berchta serve as the origin of Mother Goose and of the typical Church depictions of witches. Berchta is said to have one leg that looks like that of a goose, most likely due to a splay resulting from Her association with spinning. 

The traditional date to begin collection is also important on the Urglaawe calendar. The night of 15. Wonnet (May 14 into May 15) is the night in which the army of the Butzemenner defeat the Frost Giant  Fuffzehfux, thus allowing for the safe planting of all outdoor crops.  Fuffzehfux's arrival is due to the restoration of order in the land brought about by Holle's return to Hexenkopf. 

Holle and Berchta are seen as sister goddesses or as two aspects of the same goddess. Thus, Fimffingergraut is considered sacred to both.

Another aspect of Fimffingergraut is that of the Helping Hand. It is said that it can heal wounds when combined with salt and honey. It also is frequently set upon the menstruum of soaking herbal extracts to provide protective energies.

Akin to the uses for forgetfulness, there is a Deitsch tradition that says that rinsing an infusion of the herb over the head nine times will break hexes on the memory or the mind.

If only three fingers grow on the leaves of Fimffingergraut, then that serves as a warning from the plant that something is wrong with the soil and the crops may experience problems if the conditions are not corrected.

There are numerous Braucherei incantations that may be used with the afflictions that Fimffingergraut is used to remedy. Those will, over time, be posted on Braucherei.org.

Fimfingergraut Root Decoction


1 Loth (approximately 16 grams) of Fimffingergraut root
1/2 gallon of cool water

Insert the root into the water. Bring the water to a boil for "a short time" (typically about 2 minutes). Strain the root.

Sauer's Fimffingergraut Mouthwash


A handful of Fimffingergraut, including the roots

Half a handful of Scabious (pdc: die Schpellekisseblumm; Scabiosa columbaria)

Half a handful of Plantain (pdc: der Wegdredder or die Seiohre; Plantago major. pdc: der Wegerich Plantago lanceolata)

Half a handful of Rose Petals (pdc: die Ros; Rosa gallica)

Quarter-pound of Rose Honey

Half-Loth (approximately 8 grams) of Alum (pdc: der Allau)

Boil these herbs in two quarts of spring water until one quart evaporates. Then strain out the herbs using cheesecloth. Dissolve into the tea the quarter-pound of Rose Honey and the Half-Loth of Alum. 

Sauer's use included gargling and washing the mouth and gums frequently with this concoction.

Once again, the Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Baking Soda for Psoriasis (Schuppflechte or Schibbflechte))

This is a personal remedy that has made a huge difference in my life. I am one of those poor souls who has suffered from (as the old commercial says) "the heartbreak of psoriasis."

Over the years, I had used many over-the-counter medicines, including the coal tar shampoos, and also some of the anti-fungal prescription medicines. They all worked fairly well, at least in the beginning, but, over time, the effectiveness began to diminish. Also, I am not sure about the safety of some of these products.

Finally, one day, I was teaching a science lesson that included baking soda and its effect on ph levels. It dawned on me that baking soda could very likely change the ph levels of the surface of my scalp and make the environment inhospitable.

Of course, I found out later that this is a widely known remedy, including among the Deitsch. Why I did not know that before is beyond me.

So, instead of buying expensive coal tar shampoos, I took some distilled water, some castile soap, an ample (perhaps an overabundance, actually). I mixed them together in no organized proportion in a 16 oz. bottle. In my first experiment, I used arrowroot powder as a thickener. I added some vegetable glycerin as a moisturizer, and then I added in a few drops of essential oils.

 In my first experiment, I added four drops of rosemary essential oil (for its anti-fungal properties) and then four each of lemongrass essential oil and lime essential oil for fragrance. In later batches, I switched to rosemary, patchouli, and vetiver for a more woodsy scent.

I have made around ten batches of this over the last two years, and, admittedly, I have no firm recipe for this concoction. I have to shake it before using it, but that is a minor annoyance compared to how much this shampoo has alleviated my psoriasis. I still have to perfect the recipe, and, when I accomplish that, I will update this blog post.

Also, one of my colleagues is also trying baking soda on a patch of psoriasis on his leg, and he has reported some improvement after only three days.

If anyone has any recipes that can be shared for natural shampoos or soaps that use baking soda, please let me know!

Dandruff = die Schibb

Psoriasis = die Schibbflechte or die Schuppflechte. "Die Flecht" is akin to the concept of a lichen, therefore carrying a connotation of a fungal issue.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, or should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Darrichwax / Boneset

There are two plants called Darrichwax in different areas of the Deitscherei, but, by far, the more common one is known as Boneset or Thoroughwort in English and as Eupatorium perfoliatum as its taxonomic reference. The Darrichwax ("grow through") name does indeed refer to the way the stem and the leaves are connected and would also account for the English name "thoroughwort." 

The aerial parts (leaves and flowering tops) are used in herbal medicine. Boneset is usually taken as a tincture/extract or as an infusion/tea, but it can also be used topically as a poultice for some skin problems. 

Traditional uses by the Lenape and the Deitsch included the relief of fever and the common cold. It also loosens mucus, thus functioning as an expectorant through coughing. It stimulates the ability of the body to fight off viral and bacterial infections, rheumatic illness, skin issues, and worms. 

Because of the wide range of herbal medicinal uses, the Deitsch generally viewed the plant as a cure-all. It was also used as a purgative/laxative and (in excessive portions) as an emetic (causing vomiting). Even now, albeit less common than in earlier times, there is a Deitsch tradition of pulling the leaves upward from the stem if one wants to make an emetic and of pulling the leaves downward from the stem to make a purgative. Of course, this reflects whether one wants to "throw up" or to "throw down." 

The plant is best harvested when the flowers are in full bloom. Another old tidbit of harvesting lore is that it is harvested when the moon is waning if to be used to remove a fever and when the moon is waxing if it is to be used as an emetic or purgative.

The name "Boneset" comes from the Doctrine of Signatures, which states that the appearance and characteristics of plants reveal how they can be used, which took into account the appearance of the plant and believed it could be useful in knitting broken bones. That is not the case; however, it can be used for treating fevers that are associated with broken bones, so perhaps the Doctrine authors were not totally incorrect in their assertion! 

Some folks say that Boneset Tea works better than boneset tincture as a remedy for fevers. I can say from personal experience that the tincture does a wonderful job in combating fevers. Just be advised that one way it fights fevers is through causing sweating... and I do mean SWEATING! 

Also, be advised that boneset should be used for episodes (like during the time of a cold) and not frequently or routinely. It can be toxic if taken in excessive doses or over too long of a period of time

Other, more magic-oriented uses among the Deitsch include carrying the leaves for protection, breaking of hexes on property, and the driving away of harmful spirits. 

The plant can get quite tall (usually up to 5 ft. but I have seen some taller). When I harvest it, I tend to cut the plant leaving about 1 ft. of the base intact. Boneset is perennial. The plant's dead remnants can serve as an overwintering spot for some beneficial insects, so I do not cut the final stalks down to the ground until after May 15 unless I see new growth starting. I still have some beleaguered-looking green leaves on a couple of stems outside. 

Boneset, particularly when young, is often confused with a related plant, Joe Pye Weed (also known as Gravel Root in English, Inschingwatzel in Deitsch, and Eupatorium purpureum in taxonomic Latin. The leaves have different textures, but it is easiest to discern between the two plants when they are in full bloom because Joe Pye Weed has pinkish purple flowers and boneset has white flowers. However, there is a short period in early bloom in which some Joe Pye Weed flowers look more white than pink... Go figure! 

Disclaimer: This information is for educational and discussion purposes only. Nothing in these posts is intended to constitute, nor should be considered, medical advice or to serve as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider).