Vervain or Verbena is an herbaceous, sometimes woody perennial with opposite, narrow, oval-shaped, toothed leaves and small, five-petaled flowers that are usually blue to purple in color but may be pink or white. These flowers appear in dense spikes in late spring to summer. Various varieties of vervain grow wild throughout the United States and Europe. Vervain has no fragrance.
Verbena officinalis – Native to Europe. Also known as Verbena, Herba Sacre, herba veneris, herb of the cross
Verbena hastata – Native to North America. Also known as American vervain, False vervain, Indian hyssop, Purvain, Simpler’s joy, Traveler’s joy, Blue Vervain, Wild hyssop
History and Folklore
It is said the vervain was used to staunch the wounds of Christ on the cross at cavalry and this is where its healing powers come from.
The word vervain comes from the Celtic term ferfaen meaning “to drive away stones” as it was believed to be a helpful treatment for kidney stones.
This is a good plant for a wildlife garden because both bees and butterflies find it attractive.
Vervain likes a sunny spot and is not picky about soil provided it does not allow standing water. Plant the seeds in the spring with a very light covering. They may take a few weeks to germinate but will come back year after year.
Harvesting & Storage
The magic of vervain is said to be the strongest when it is gathered after sunset or before dawn on the dark of the moon. A libation of milk or honey should be left after gathering the plant. Leaves should be harvested before the flowers are open. The root may be dug up after the plant dies back in the fall.
The herb is best used fresh but may be hung to dry in a dark, well-ventilated place.
Vervain resonates with the energy of Gemini, the planet Venus and the element Water. It is considered feminine in nature. Vervain is associated with Cerridwen, Isis, Thor, Jupiter. It can also be used in Midsummer celebrations.
Vervain combined with any other herbs in magical work is believed by some to enhance the action of these herbs.
The vervain plant may be bruised and worn about the neck for protection from both headaches and snakebites. This charm is also said to bring help to you when you need it, no matter how dire your situation. A fresh sprig carried on your person helps protect from baneful magick spells cast against you.
Vervain may be planted or placed around your property to protect it from damage by bad weather.
Vervain may be used in rituals to Thor or Jupiter. It may be burned as an offering or infused into water and sprinkled on the altar for purification. In Hellenic rituals, the plants may be bundled and used to sweep the alter or ritual area or dipped into sacred water to asperge the altar or ritual area.
It can also be used in a wash to rid an area or person of negative energies and may be combined with dill for this purpose.
Vervain may be used in love spells to rekindle a dying love. It may also be woven into bridal wreaths or carried in bridal bouquets to ensure love to the couple.
Drinking a tea made of vervain is said to ward off vampires.
A vervain plant buried in the garden will bring abundant crops.
The leaves may be burned to attract wealth.
Verbena hastata is recommended for healing. Vervain tea is bitter but relaxing. It is a good nerve tonic and may help with mild insomnia. It is also useful for people suffering from work-related stress. Women who are experiencing problems with menstruation due to stress may also find some relief from taking vervain tea. This tea may also help with bladder problems and acts as a diuretic. It can help with gall bladder issues and stimulates the liver.
Excessive use of vervain tea may lead to nausea.
Vervain flowers may be placed in a dish with salt for several days to flavor the salt and add its unique energy to foods seasoned with the salt. Strain out the verbena flowers before using the salt.