Of all the herbs we use in the shop, I consider Vervain to be absolutely essential. Known by many names. including verbena, mosquito plant, wild hyssop, Indian hyssop, blue vervain, Herb of the Cross and others, vervain has been used in different capacities since biblical times. In fact, the name “Herb of the Cross” came about because it is said that vervain was used to dress the crucifixion wounds of Jesus.
Vervain targets lots of different intentions, including love, protection, purification, healing, and luck. With so many purposes, it is no wonder that vervain has been a witch's staple for centuries.
The History and Folklore of Vervain
Modern witches often associate vervain with the Druids. However, its magical uses date back much further. The ancient Egyptians believed vervain sprang from the tears of Isis as she cried over the death of her beloved, Osiris. The Romans, Greeks, Celtic Druids and Worshippers of Thor (in Scandinavia) all considered vervain to be a holy plant. Barbi Gardiner in her blog post, Blue Vervain: The Hidden Aspects Of A Magical Medicinal Herb, she writes, “The name Verbena means “altar plant,” and it was used as an altar herb by the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks. Known as a holy herb it was burned in Roman temples and scattered on altars, while their soldiers carried sprigs of vervain as protection.” Some myths suggest vervain was carried by Roman soldiers to foster peace among enemies. Legend states that if a drink made with vervain is shared between enemies, friendlier relations are possible.
The famous Roman naturalist, Pliny the Elder, describes the magical uses of Vervain in great detail. In his book, Natural History, he writes:
“With this the table of Jupiter is swept, and homes are cleansed and purified. There are two kinds of it; one has many leaves and is thought to be female, the other the male, has fewer leaves. Some authorities do not distinguish these two kinds . . . since both have the same properties. Both kinds are used by the people of Gaul in fortune-telling and in uttering prophecies, but the Magi especially make the maddest statements about the plant: that people who have been rubbed with it obtain their wishes, banish fevers, win friends, and cure all diseases without exception. . . . They say too that if a dining couch is sprinkled with water in which this plant has been soaked the entertainment becomes merrier.”
By the Middle Ages, Vervain had become the “official” herb of English apothecaries and was used to treat numerous physical ailments. Vervain was used to treat issues pertaining to the digestive system, the lungs, sexual issues, and even as a disease preventative. In addition to health uses, vervain was, and still is used in magical rituals and spells. Magical uses of vervain target healing, luck, love, and protection of all kinds. Protection from witchcraft, protection against snake bites, and protection from evil spirits, are just a few of vervain’s magical uses.
Wilfred Bosner describes an old charm for nightmares that featured the use of vervain as a form of protection. According to the charm, vervain strung about the neck or drunk prior to going to bed could prevent dreaming. Another example includes one mentioned by Grillot de Giviry in his book, Witchcraft, Magic & Alchemy he writes, “To gain the love of a person, rub your hands with the juice of vervain and touch the man or woman you wish to inspire to love.”
Magical Properties of Vervain
As we have explored, vervain has been used for a variety of magical and ritual purposes throughout history. It continues to be a well-loved and common ingredient in most witches’ cupboards. So let’s take a moment to break down all the ways it can be used in your favorite spells and rituals.
- Protection: Vervain is considered to be a very protective herb. As mentioned above, it is believed to ward off negative energies, curses, and harmful influences. It can be used to create amulets, charms or use to create a protective barrier around a sacred space.
- Purification: Vervain can be used for spiritual cleansing and purification. It's believed to clear negative energies, cleanse spaces, and prepare individuals for spiritual practices.
- Healing: Vervain is associated with healing, both physical and spiritual.
- Communication: Use vervain to enhance communication with spirits, ancestors, and otherworldly entities.
- Divination: Vervain can be used to enhance psychic abilities and promote clearer divination experiences, it’s particularly useful for scrying, tarot readings, and dreamwork.
- Luck & Prosperity: Vervain can be used to boost luck and encourage the flow of prosperity. We use it in our Life of Luxury Oil
- Love and Attraction: Vervain can be used to attract love and enhance romantic relationships. It can be used in love spells or rituals that seek to generate affection, passion, and emotional bonding between two people. We use it in a number of our love-related oils, such as Marry Me Oil
Raven Kaldera describes the perfect culmination of vervain’s multitude of magical properties. In her book, The Northern Shamanic Herbal. She Writes,
“An all-purpose powerful herb for protection, exorcism of spirits, vision work, healing, peacefulness and, (should you want it) vows of chastity. Vervain was used for dream magic, and Druids made their holy water with it. It is associated with opals, agates, and also bards and skalds, as it aids in their performance, As such, it could be associated with the rune Os. Swordsmiths quenched their blades in vervain water in order to strengthen the iron, so vervain is a good blessing for black-smiths and weapon-makers, and it could be rubbed onto weapons to prevent breaking."
It’s important to note that the use of vervain in the magical arts can vary not only by one’s intentions but also by specific traditions and beliefs. When working with vervain, I always suggest letting the herb guide you. Try meditating with it close to you. Simply hold it in your hand and ask it how it wishes to work for you. This may sound silly, but vervain is one of those herbs that truly can help you manifest. Take your time, give it a try, and let us know how it works. Good Luck Witches!
Briggs, K. M. “Some Seventeenth-Century Books of Magic.” Folklore,
vol. 64, no. 4, 1953, pp. 445–62.
Bonser, Wilfrid. “Magical Practices against Elves.” Folklore, vol. 37, no. 4,
1926, pp. 350–63.
Pliny, The Elder. Natural History. London, Folio Society, 2012.
Kaldera, Raven. The Northern Shamanic Herbal. Hubbardson, Massachusetts, Asphodel Press, 1 Feb. 2011, p. 210.
Gardiner, Barbi. “Blue Vervain: The Hidden Aspects of a Magical Medicinal Herb - the Outdoor Apothecary.” Http://Outdoorapothecary, 6 May 2022, www.outdoorapothecary.com/blue-vervain/#:~:text=The%20name%20Verbena%20means%20%E2%80%9Caltar. Accessed 29 Aug. 2023.