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Herbal Codes — Or, You Don't Need to Kill a Black Cat

This article was written by Harold A. Roth, Owner, Alchemy Works on July 11, 2013
posted under Herbal Codes

Many grimoires and books of magic use animals and their parts as codes for herbs and other materials. Here are a number of them, some from the Greek Magical Papyri (see PGM XII:401-44), a work composed between 200BC and 500AD. Others come from Galen and Dioscorides, who are other ancient sources. Galen (120-200 AD) was a physician at the temple of Asclepias, which makes him a pretty darn authoritative pagan about herbs and herbal codes. Dioscorides (40-90AD) was a physician in ancient Greece and in Rome at the time of Nero. He wrote De Materia Medica, the first pharmacopeia (a sort of cookbook of medicine) in Western civilization. Thus, it is clear that since antiquity, animal parts named in magical formulae have NOT referred primarily to actual animal parts but to parts of plants. It is precisely these ancient sources that medieval and Renaissance grimoires referred to when they used herbal codes in formulae for magical materials. There is nothing "New Age" about it. On the contrary, it is very traditional to use codes as a "fence" to prevent the majority from accessing knowledge. An herbal code is exactly that sort of fence.

Adder's Tongue: Dogstooth Violet; Plantain
Ass's Foot: Coltsfoot

Bat's Wing: Holly Leaf
Bat's Wool: Moss
Bear's Foot: Lady's Mantle
Bird's Eye: Germander, Speedwell
Blood: Elder sap or another tree sap
Blood from a Head: Lupine
Blood from a Shoulder: Bear's Breeches
Blood of a Goose: Mulberry tree's sap
Blood of a Hamadryas Baboon: Blood of a spotted gecko
Blood of a Snake: Hematite
Blood of an Eye: Tamarisk Gall
Blood of Ares: Purslane
Blood of Hephaistos: Wormwood
Blood of Hestia: Chamomile
Bloody Fingers: Foxglove
Blue Jay: Bay laurel
Bone of an Ibis: Buckthorn
Brains: Cherry tree gum (this phrase usually designates any fruit tree gum)
Bull's Blood or Seed of Horus: Horehound
Bull's Foot: Coltsfoot
Bull's Semen: Eggs of the blister beetle

Calf's Snout: Snapdragon
Capon's Tail: Valerian
Cat: Catnip
Cat's Foot: Canada Snake Root and/or Ground Ivy
Clot: Great Mullein
Corpse Candles: Mullein
Cuddy's Lungs: Great Mullein
Crocodile Dung: Ethiopian Earth
Crow Foot: Cranesbill, wild geranium, buttercup

Devil's Dung: Asafoetida
Dog: Couch grass
Dog's Mouth: Snapdragon
Dog's Tongue: Hounds Tongue
Dove's Foot: Wild Geranium
Dragon's Blood: Resin of Draco palm
Dragon's Scales: Bistort leaves

Eagle: Wild Garlic of Fenugreek
Ear of an Ass: Comfrey
Ears of a Goat: St. John's Wort
Englishman's Foot: Common Plantain
Eye of Christ: Germander, speedwell
Eye of the Day: Common daisy
Eye of the Star: Horehound
Eyes: Inner part of a blossom; Aster, Daisy, Eyebright

Fat from a Head: Spurge
Fingers: Cinquefoil
Five Fingers: Cinquefoil
Foot: Leaf
Frog: Cinquefoil
Frog's Foot: Bulbous buttercup
From the Belly: Earth-apple
From the Foot: Houseleek
From the Loins: Chamomile

Goat's Foot: Ash Weed
God's Hair: Hart's Tongue Fern
Gosling Wing: Goosegrass
Graveyard Dust: Mullein
Great Ox-eye: Ox-eye daisy
Guts: The roots and stalk of a plant

Hair: Dried stringy herbs; ripe male fern
Hair of a Hamadryas Baboon: Dill Seed
Hair of Venus: Maidenhair fern
Hare's Beard: Great mullein
Hawk: Hawkweed
Hawk's Heart: Wormwood seed or wormwood crown
Head: Flower of a plant
Heart: Walnut; bud, seed, or nut
Hind's Tongue: Hart's Tongue Fern
Horse Hoof: Coltsfoot
Horse Tongue: Hart's Tongue Fern

Jacob's Staff: Great Mullein
Jupiter's Staff: Great Mullein

King's Crown: Black Haw
Kronos' Blood: Cedar

Lamb: Lettuce
Lamb's Ears: Betony
Leg: Leaf
Lion's Hair: Tongue of a Turnip [i.e., the leaves of the taproot]
Lion's Tooth: Dandelion, aka Priest's Crown
Lion Semen: Human Semen

Man's Bile: Turnip sap

Nightingale: Hops

Paw: Leaf
Physician's Bone: Sandstone
Pig's Tail: Leopard's Bane
Privates: Seed

Ram's Head: American Valerian
Rat: Valerian
Red Cockscomb: Amaranth

Seed of Horus: Horehound
Semen of Ammon: Houseleek
Semen of Ares: Clover
Semen of Helios: White Hellebore
Semen of Hephaistos: Fleabane
Semen of Herakles: Mustard-rocket
Semen of Hermes: Dill
Shepherd's Heart: Shepherd's Purse
Skin of Man: Fern
Skull: Skullcap Mushroom
Snake: Bistort
Snake's Ball of Thread: Soapstone
Snake's Head: Leech
Sparrow's Tongue: Knotweed
Swine's Snout: Dandelion leaves

Tail: Stem
Tears of a Hamadryas Baboon: Dill Juice
Teeth: Pine Cones
Titan's Blood: Wild Lettuce
Toad: Toadflax; Sage
Toe: Leaf
Tongue: Petal

Unicorn's Horn: False Unicorn Root; True Unicorn Root
Urine: Dandelion

Weasel: Rue
Weasel Snout: Yellow Dead Nettles/Yellow Archangel
White Man's Foot: Common Plantain
Wing: Leaf
Wolf Claw: Club Moss
Wolf Foot: Bugle Weed
Wolf's Milk: Euphorbia
Woodpecker: Peony
Worms: Thin Roots

Reproduced by permission from:

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