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Herbal Religion: The Use Of Sacred Herbs And Plants In Different Cultures



Herbal religion can be traced back to quite a tradition. The usage of sacred herbs for religious purposes is quite diverse, with examples in Christianity (for myrrh, frankincense, and ague root) and even a pagan form of Christianity called Anglo-Saxon paganism (for the nine herb charm). Even in Hinduism the use of herbs for religious purposes has a long tradition, with the Tulsi (which is nothing more than a type of Basil) actually being revered as a goddess for its value as a form of medicine. This tradition has a history going back all the way to Vedic times. As a consequence of this, most Hindus possess a Tulsi plant right in front of their homes.

  • Lore of Herbs: This website features information on numerous herbs that have been viewed as sacred throughout the ages.
  • Yoruba: This website provides information on what herbs the Yoruba folks of Western Nigeria considered sacred.
  • All About Myrrh: This website discusses myrrh, which was featured prominently in the biblical story of the Three Wise Men and Baby Jesus.
  • Frankincense History: This website features frankincense’s history throughout the ages.
  • History of Basil (Tulsi) (PDF): This document discusses the history of Basil and its sacred implications.

Sacred Herbal Traditions Of Europe

The use of sacred herbs in Europe is a tradition that goes back a long time. Mistletoe, under which people traditionally kiss around Christmastime, was used by the Druids and the Celts in Old Europe. Since mistletoe produces fruit around the occasion of the Winter Solstice, which is seen as the start of the new year, it might have well been incorporated into rituals performed by the Druidic Brits as a symbol of immortality. In Celtic mythology and culture, too, the mistletoe was looked at as an antidote against poison and a cure against barrenness in animals (Note: In reality, the fruit of the mistletoe is really poisonous if eaten because it contains viscotoxins.)

In Ancient Egypt, Verbena, which is a flowering and tropical plant, has been regarded as possessing supernatural powers due to its association with divinity. As a result, the Ancient Egyptians termed it the “Tears of Isis” plant. In Ancient Greece, which came chronologically after Ancient Egypt, Verbena was also revered. As such, the Ancient Greeks dedicated the plant to Eos Erigineia.

  • Facts on Mistletoe: This website presents information on mistletoe and how ancient people viewed it.
  • Medicines: This website contains information on how mistletoe was used medicinally.
  • All About Verbena: This website features a lot of information on Verbena.
  • Details on Verbena: This website from Cornell provides a list of brief details on Verbena.
  • More Details on Verbena: This is another website that provides information on Verbena, such as its horticultural characteristics.

Sacred Herbal Traditions Of The Americas

Sacred herbs have a long and storied tradition in the Americas, too. Going back to the earliest instances of recorded history in the Americas, peyote has been known to be utilized by America’s indigenous people. Peyote is a spineless and small cactus that is known to feature alkaloids that are psychoactive. One of the more prominent psychoactive alkaloids in peyote is mescaline, which is a natural alkaloid. This peyote was used by the aforementioned indigenous people as sacramental rites in all manner of social and religious ceremonies.

There are other sacred plants that also have been reported to be used in rituals of Native American origin. A few examples of these sacred plants are white sage, diviner’s sage, morning glory seeds, tobacco and sweetgrass. Diviner’s sage is known as a psychoactive plant that can create dissociative effects, which can also lead to a person who has ingested it to develop hallucinations and so-called “visions.” White sage is a perennial and evergreen shrub that originates in northern Mexico and the southwestern U.S. Morning glory seeds are actually any of the 1000 species of flowering plants that belong to the family called Convolvulaceae. Mexican Aztec priests were notorious for using the plant for its hallucinogenic purposes. Sweetgrass has a long tradition of being used by America’s indigenous people, who are fond of using it for healing rituals as well as peace rituals.

Sacred Herbal Traditions Of Asia

In the ancient culture of Asia, the most well-known sacred herb that was used was Soma This was frequently talked about in the Vedas, which were a body of texts that originated out of India. Ephedrine is thought to be the active ingredient in Soma, and ephedrine is known as an alkaloid that features stimulating properties. However, there is widespread disagreement on the use of Soma in Asia’s ancient culture. Some scientists believe that Soma was actually cannabis or fly agaric.

  • All About Cannabis: This website provides a comprehensive look at the plant called cannabis.
  • Facts on Cannabis (PDF): This document provides a factsheet of information on everything cannabis.
  • What is Ephedrine?: This website provides people with a bit of information on what ephedrine is and how it can be obtained.
  • What is Fly Agaric?: This website explains what fly agaric is and provides photos of it to visitors.

The use of herbs in a sacred way for religious rituals has a history that goes back almost as long as the history of human beings on the planet. Sacred herbs like those used in religious rituals are traceable to almost every single continent on the planet, including ancient civilizations like Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. Sometimes, sacred herbs were even worshipped as they were in the case of the Tulsi, which was nothing more than Basil. Different peoples used sacred herbs in different ways, with the contrast in uses between peoples of the Americans and peoples of Europe illustrating the fact. Whereas the Celts tended to view mistletoe as a cure for poison, the indigenous people of North America used herbs like peyote as a way to achieve “visionary” experiences.






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