Thursday, August 9, 2012


One of my closest friends is Peruvian.  From her, I've learned some interesting folk magic (at least from the upper middle class of Peru).  The magics her and her mother practice tend to center around nominally Catholic practices, as opposed to my more Pagan practices.  Over the years, we've swapped some interesting things.

A couple of weeks ago, we were in her backyard plotting her new kiln. We'd ditched the husbands and kids and slipped off to choose a place.  On the way back, she stopped to show me a sickly plant in a pot.  She had brought it from Peru, years ago, and it is used to clear bad energies from the house when boiled in water used a floor wash.  The plant had a strong, pungent odor and was drooping rather badly. When her family had lived in nearby Concord, a year ago, the plant had become infested with aphids.  Ever since, the plant has been suffering.  She wasn't sure that it could be revived and was very sad about it, not to mention she had no idea what to replace it with her magical practice.

She told me the plant was called Ruda, and as far as she knew, it was native to Peru.  At home, I did a quick check online for Ruda (I was going to try to find her a replacement plant in the event this one didn't survive) and discovered something interesting.  Ruda is the Spanish name for rue, an herb familiar to many of us for it's jinx breaking properties and long history in occult circles.

The moral of the story is this, when you are reading about or talking about herbs, especially magical herbs that you aren't familiar with, take a moment to look into other names it goes by.  Plants have been shipped around the globe for centuries, so it's often difficult to tell if it's a native species, and names change over time, especially in places that have seen successions of ethnic groups replacing and mixing with one another.  Rock Roses here might be primroses somewhere else. Rosemary might be called Romero/a.  The Mormon Sage that I grew up with is Artemesia tridentata or The Great Sage outside the former Utah territory.  You might find that by learning a couple of the more common alternate names of your magical herbs, that they aren't as hard to find or as expensive as they might otherwise be.