Slide 1: Herbs being dug up and made into medicines under the direction of a sage. From a 12th century copy of the Herbarium of Apuleius, now in the Library of Eton College. Slide 2: Woodcut from the title-page of the ‘Grete Herball’ (1526). Source for both slides: ‘The Old English Herbals’ byEleanour Sinclair Rohde, 1922. Derived from http://www.gutenberg.org/files/33654/33654-h/33654-h.htm.

The original text was in the 9th Century written down in Old English and is known under the names ‘Nine Herbs Charm’ or ‘Nine Worts Galdor’. It is assumed, that the text itself is older and perhaps originates from a time as paganaism was still alive in Anglo Saxon England. It contains however also clear christian influences and maybe exactly that was the reason that it has been passed down in the ‘Lacnunga’ manuscript und wasn’t destroyed.

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Gemyne ðu, mucgwyrt,    hwæt þu ameldodest,
Remember, mugwort, what you made known,

hwæt þu renadest    æt Regenmelde
what you arranged at Reginmelde. (the great proclamation)

Una þu hattest,    yldost wyrta.
You were called Una, the oldest of herbs.

ðu miht wið III    and wið XXX,
You were potent against the three and the thirty;

þu miht wiþ attre    and wið onflyge,
you were potent against poison and infection;

þu miht wiþ þam laþan    ðe geond lond færð.
you were potent against the hateful ones going through the land.

Ond þu, wegbrade,    wyrta modor,
And you, waybread, mother of herbs,

eastan openo,    innan mihtigu;
open to the east, mighty within,

ofer ðe crætu curran,    ofer ðe cwene reodan,
carts creaked over you, queens rode over you,

ofer ðe bryde bryodedon,    ofer þe fearras fnærdon.
brides cried out over you, oxen snorted over you.

Eallum þu þon wiðstode    and wiðstunedest;
You withstood all that and fought back;

swa ðu wiðstonde    attre and onflyge
so you withstand poison and infection

and þæm laðan    þe geond lond fereð.
and the hateful ones going through the land.

Stune hætte þeos wyrt,    heo on stane geweox;
This herb is called the nettle; it grew on a stone;

stond heo wið attre,    stunað heo wærce.
it stood against poison; it fights off pain.

Stiðe heo hatte,    wiðstunað heo attre,
It is called strong, it fights against poison,

wreceð heo wraðan,    weorpeð ut attor.
it drives off the hostile, casts out poison.

þis is seo wyrt    seo wiþ wyrm gefeaht,
This is the herb that fought against the serpent;

þeos mæg wið attre,    heo mæg wið onflyge,
this is potent against poison, it is potent against infection,

heo mæg wið ðam laþan    ðe geond lond fereþ.
it is potent against the hateful ones going through the land.

Fleoh þu nu, attorlaðe,    seo læsse ða maran,
And you, now, betony, though lesser, conquer the greater;

seo mare þa læssan,    oððæt him beigra bot sy.
greater, conquer the lesser, till both are cured.

Gemyne þu, mægðe,    hwæt þu ameldodest,
Remember, mayweed, what you made known,

hwæt ðu geændadest    æt Alorforda;
what you ordained at Alorford: (the Creation)

þæt næfre for gefloge    feorh ne gesealde
that no one’s life be given up to infection

syþðan him mon mægðan    to mete gegyrede.
after anyone has prepared him mayweed as food.

þis is seo wyrt    ðe wergulu hatte;
This is the herb called lamb’s cress:

ðas onsænde seolh    ofer sæs hrygc
the seal sent it over the sea’s back

ondan attres    oþres to bote.
as remedy for the horror of the second poison.

Ðas VIIII {m}agon     wið nygon attrum.
These nine are potent against nine poisons.

Wyrm com snican, toslat he {m}an;
A serpent came creeping, he bit a man;

ða genam Woden VIIII wuldortanas,
then Woden took nine glory-twigs

sloh ða þa næddran, þæt heo on VIIII tofleah.
and struck the serpent into nine pieces.

Þær geændade æppel and attor,
Apple and poison there brought about

þæt heo næfre ne wolde on hus bugan.
that it would never enter into any house.

þa wyrte gesceop witig drihten,
The wise Lord created the two mighty

Fille and finule, felamihtigu twa,
herbs, thyme and finnel, when he was hanging;

halig on heofonum, þa he hongode;
holy in heaving as he hung (Jesus? Woden?)

sette and sænde on VII worulde
he made them and sent them into the seven worlds

earmum and eadigum eallum to bote.
as a remedy for rich and poor alike.

Stond heo wið wærce, stunað heo wið attre,
It stood against pain, it fights against poison,

seo mæg wið III and wið XXX,
it is potent against the three and the thirty,

wið <feondes> hond and wið freab{r}egde,
against enemy’s hand and against sudden guile,

wið malscrunge m{a}nra wihta.
against the enchantment of evil creatures.

Nu magon þas VIIII wyrta wið nygon wuldorgeflogegum,
Now these nine herbs are potent against the nine who’ve fled from glory,

wið VIIII attrum and wið nygon onflygnum,
against nine poisons and against nine infections,

wið ðy readan attre, wið ð{y} ru{t}an attre,
against the red poison, against the running poison,

wið ðy hwitan attre, wið ðy {hæwe}nan attre,
against the white poison, against the pale blue poison,

wið ðy geolwan attre, wið ðy grenan attre,
against the yellow poison, against the green poison,

wið ðy wonnan attre, wið ðy wedenan attre,
against the dark poison, against the darkblue poison,

wið ðy brunan attre, wið ðy basewan attre
against the brown poison, against the purple poison,

wið wyrmgeblæd, wið wætergeblæd,
against serpent-swelling, against water-swelling,

wið þorngeblæd, wið þystelgeblæd,
against thorn-swelling, against thistle-swelling,

wið ysgeblæd, wið attorgeblæd,
against icy swelling, against poison-swelling,

gif ænig attor cume eastan fleogan
if any poison comes flying from the east

oððe ænig norðan cume
or any poison comes from the north

oððe ænig westan ofer werðeode.
or any from the west over the nation of men.

Crist stod ofer a{dl}e ængan cundes.
Christ stood above sickness of every kind.

Ic ana wat ea rinnende
I alone know the running stream

ær þa nygon nædran <nean> behealdað;
where the nine serpents beware of it.

motan ealle weoda nu wyrtum aspringan,
All weeds will grow up as herbs,

sæs toslupan, eal sealt wæter,
and the seas, all salt water, will dissipate,

ðonne ic þis attor of ðe geblawe.
when I blow this poison away from you.

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Recipe

Ingredients

 

Mugcwyrt, wegbrade þe eastan open sy, lombescyrse,
Mugwort, waybread that is open to the east, lamb’s cress,

attorlaðan, mageðan, netelan, wudusuræppel, fille and finul,
betony, mayweed, nettle, crab-apple, thyme and finnel,

ealde sapan. Gewyrc ða wyrta to duste, mængc wiþ þa
old soap. Make the herbs into a powder, mix with the

sapan and wiþ þæs æpples gor. Wyrc slypan of wætere
soap and with the apple’s juice. Make a paste of water

and of axsan, genim finol, wyl on þære slyppan and beþe mid
and ashes, take the finnel, boil in the paste and heat it with

æggemongc, þonne he þa sealfe on do, ge ær ge æfter.
beaten eggs; then let him put on the salve, both before and after.

þæt galdor on ælcre þara wyrta, III ær he hy wyrce and
Sing the charm over each of the herbs three times before he makes it, and

on þone æppel ealswa; ond singe þon men in þone muð and
over the apple as well; and sing the same charm both in the man’s mouth

in þa earan buta and on ða wunde þæt ilce gealdor, ær he
and in his ear and over the wound before he

þa sealfe on do.
puts on the ointment.

 

 

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This translation is based on the English translation at http://faculty.virginia.edu/OldEnglish/courses/enmd481/charms.html
However, it is on a few places modified by GardenStone.

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