Druid Herbal Legend
There is a Druid legend where the Bards tell of a story about a King of the deity Diancecht who was said to be the best surgeon / healer in the land. As his son Miach approached maturity he began to display natural healing abilities which were reputedly far superior to his father. This did not sit well with the king who summoned his son to his room in order to see for himself.
In a fury the King struck his son with an axe, only to watch the wound restore itself before his eyes. Again he struck him in rage and again the young Prince instantly healed himself. Finally, he lifted his axe high above his head and swung it with all his might, splitting his sons head in two. This time, the wound did not heal and his son lay dead at his feet in a pool of blood. With tears of remorse streaming down his face, he buried his son on a hilltop in view of the castle window.
His daughter Airmid was heart-broken and visited her brother’s grave often to communicate with his spirit. Early the next spring as she sat there in silence the young prince performed a last and final miracle. On the ground where his body lay beneath the earth were 365 herbs in the shape of a human body – the herbs covering the different body parts. She realised that her brother was telling her which herb was pertinent for the various organs and ailments. Airmid took off her coat and lay it on the ground beside her brother and began to place one of each herb on it in the shape of the body so that she could record what herb served which part of the human body.
Their father the king looked out of the window and observed his daughters excitement. He wandered down to see what she was doing. With great excitement in her voice, she told her father of their communications, but before the Princess could complete her task the king picked up her coat and scattered the herbs to the winds, telling her that he was the greatest healer in the land and his son would not outdo him from beyond the grave. It was said that only Airmid can remember what each herb does.
The Craft Of Herbalism
In ancient times herbalism was a mixture of medicine and magic and many of these plants were written into their mythos. They still are one of the main tools of magicians today to connect with certain energies with which they work. Magi believe that all things are connected with nature and the universe and comprised of the four elements (fire, earth, air and water) and the dual energies of masculine and feminine.
They also have an astrological correspondence where the body is seen as the microcosm of our universe and each body part is influenced by a particular planet and influenced by its respective qualities. Hence planetary correspondences and elemental natures were established by observing what condition a plant was effective for and this gave them a certain signature. It can safely be assumed that Airmid’s 365 herbs had something to do with the days of the year and possibly an astrological association.
Medicinal Uses Of Herbs
It seems that in every part of the globe where people have lived there has developed a body of herbal knowledge which is now readily available online. The information remains alive, even though we have lost touch with the intimate knowledge and connection to the philosophy underpinning the use of herbs by our ancestors.
Druids would train in the woodlands in how to diagnose illness and which plant or herb to use to counter them. As part of their Ovate training, they also learned procedures, rituals, and songs that activated the curing power of plants.
Without the interference of modern medicine, over 80% of people in Asian and African countries still use traditional herbal medicine for primary health care. Animals instinctively know to eat a particular plant or herb when they are out of sorts.
In Chinese medicine – where religion and medicine have not been separated – there are roughly 13,000 medicinals and herbs used in china and over 100,000 medicinal recipes recorded in ancient literature.
To write a list of all the herbs and their uses is not appropriate (or responsible) for this short article, but the Welsh have a book of herbal medicine called ‘Physicians of the Myddfai’ which contains the healing techniques passed down a particular family of doctors that served in the Myddfai area of Wales as far back as the Middle Ages.
Knowing the potential for healing to humans and generally improving the quality of our life, it is no wonder that herbs and their uses are being re-introduced into our modern life. Fortunately, like fitness and freedom, herbs and alternative healing techniques are once again becoming fashionable. © by Druid Priestess Jyoti Eagles.