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 The Old English 'Lacnunga'
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Translated from the Anglo-saxon by Gavin Chapell

The Nine Herbs Charm

Remember, Mugwort, what you revealed,
What you arranged at Regenmeld.
You are named Una, eldest of herbs,
You power against three and against thirty,
Power against poison and against venom,
Power against the enemy who travels over the earth.

And you, Plantain, mother of herbs,
Opening eastwards, inwardly mighty;
Over you carts creaked, over you women cantered,
Over you brides bridalled, over you bulls bellowed.

Then you weathered and withstood all;
So you withstand poison and venom
And the enemy who travels over the earth.

This herb is called Cress, it grew on a crag;
It stands against poison, stands against pain.
This is named Nettle, it withstands venom,
Exiles the enemy, endures against poison.
This is the wort that fought with the wyrm,
This power against poison, this power against infection,
Power against the enemy that travels over the earth.

Now, Betony, you banish the minor and major,
The major and minor, till he is remedied of both.
Remember, Camomile, what you made known,
What you ended at Alorford;
That he never let up his life for infection
After Camomile was cooked with his food.

This is the herb that is called Crab-Apple;
The seal sent this over the spine of the ocean
As a nostrum for other noxious poisons.
These nine will work against nine poisons.

A serpent came sneaking, it struck a man;
Then Woden took nine wondrous staves,
Smote the snake so it split into nine pieces.
There ended the apple and poison
So never again would it enter a house.

Chervil and fennel, fearsome pair,
These worts were created by the wise lord,
Holy in heaven, there was he hanged;
He set and sent them into seven worlds
To remedy all, the rich and the needy.

It stands against pain, struggles against poison,
Has might against three and against thirty,
Against devil’s hand and against deception,
Against the witchcraft of the wicked ones.

These nine herbs have force against nine who fled glory,
Against nine venoms and against nine poisons,
Against the red venom, against the running venom,
Against the white venom, against the purple venom,
Against the yellow venom, against the green venom,
Against the black venom, against the blue venom,
Against the brown venom, against the bay venom,
Against worm-blister, against water-blister,
Against thorn-blister, against thistle-blister,
Against ice-blister, against poison-blister,
If any venom comes flying from the east
Or any comes from the north,
Or any from the west comes upon the clans of men.

Christ stood over sickness of evil kinds.
Only I know the Running River
Where the nine snakes behold it near;
May all weeds now spring up as worts,
The seas dissolve, all salt water,
When I blow this bane from you.


Take mugwort, plantain that opens from the east, lamb’s cress, betony, camomile, nettle, crab apple, chervil and fennel, and old soap. Grind the herbs into powder and mix them with soap and the apple’s juice. Make a paste of water and ashes, take the fennel, boil it in the paste and beat an egg into it before and after he (the patient) puts on the salve. Sing this spell over each herb, three times before he prepares it and also on the apple; and sing the same spell into the mouth and both ears and on the wound, before he puts on the salve.



 Copyright © Gavin Chapell, 2014.