The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company finds itself nestled in the beautiful southeastern corner of the UK. It was here, many centuries ago, that the Anglo-Saxons first arrived.
They called the region before them “Enlaland,” which means “land of the Angles” – a name that has, of course, since stuck. These Germanic tribes influenced our culture in many other ways, too, including the Nine Sacred Herbs.
The following article will explore the history of this tradition and why it remains important. Each of the nine plants will get a mention, detailing their botany and function in Anglo-Saxon society.
Some of them we stock here as delicious, health beneficial Herbal Teas. So, once you know the facts, you can buy them and try them to see if they offer the qualities considered sacred to our ancestors.
Table of contents
- Who were the Anglo Saxons?
- What are the Nine Sacred Herbs?
- Camomile was one of the Nine Sacred Herbs
- Nettle – a Herb used by the Romans and the Saxons
- Fennel is a Herbal Remedy Today
- Crab Apple is an Ancestor to the Cultivated Apple
- Mugwort is a Weed with Potential
- One of the Nine Sacred Herbs was Plantain
- The Saxons Used Watercress for its Healing Properties
- Chervil – a Folk Medicine of Centuries Past
- Cockspur Grass or Betony?
- Three of the Nine Sacred Herbs you can Buy Online Here
Who were the Anglo Saxons?
When the Romans left Britain in 410 CE, it wasn’t long before others took their place. A mix of tribes from Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands soon arrived on our shores.
These were the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes (the latter became the people of Kent). They fought the native Britons (including, according to legend, King Arthur) for land and, for the most, won the struggle.
The Anglo-Saxons (a combination of the Angles and the Saxons) became the dominant political force in England for many centuries. They changed British society and culture forever, with most non-Celtic English people tracing their origins back to this time.
Their era ended in 1066 when the last Saxon King, Harold II, fell during the Battle of Hastings.
What are the Nine Sacred Herbs?
The Anglo-Saxons, like the Romans and Celts before them, relied heavily on herbs for their healing properties. In the tenth-century CE, a medical compilation known as Lacnunga (translated from Old English to mean “Remedies”) was created.
It contains almost 200 treatments, all of which involve medicinal plants and other materials, as well as prayers and incantations.
Many of the plants mentioned in the text play a significant role in paganism. There is also a reference to the Germanic god, Woden. Among the remedies is that of the Nine Sacred Herbs, which, according to Saxon beliefs, protected against disease.
The theory of the time was that poisons were spread in the wind and, therefore, consuming these herbs stopped “flying venom” from infecting people. An extract reads:
A worm came creeping, he tore asunder a man. Then took Woden nine magic twigs and he smote the serpent that he flew into nine bits.
Now these nine herbs have power, against the nine magic outcasts, against nine venoms, against nine flying things, and against the loathed things that over land rove.
Against the red venom, against the runlan venom, against the white venom, against the blue venom, against the yellow venom, against the green venom, against the dusky venom, against the brown venom, against the purple venom.
The Nine Sacred Herbs were
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