Lay of the Nine Herbs and Lay of the Nine Twigs of Woden

Lacnunga LXXIX-LXXX (45) and LXXXI@-LXXXII) copyright: Karen Louise Jolly, Popular Religion in Late Saxon England: Elf Charms in Context (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), pp. 125-27. Do not reproduce without permission from the publishers.

[Lay of the Nine Herbs]

Be mindful, Mugwort,  what you revealed,
What you established  at the great proclamation
Una you are called,  oldest of herbs,
you are strong against three  and against thirty,
you are strong against poison  and against onfliers [flying venoms]
you are strong against the foe  who goes through the land.
And you, Waybroad [Plantain], mother of herbs,
open from the east,  mighty within.
Over you chariots creaked,  over you queens rode,
over you brides cried out,  over you bulls snorted.
All this you withstood,  and confounded.
So you withstand  poison and flying venom,
and the foe  who goes through the land.
Stune this herb is called,  she grew on a stone,
she stands against poison,  she attacks pain.
Stithe [hard] she is called,  she confounds poison,
she drives out evils,  she casts out poison.
This is the herb  that fought against the worm,
this is strong against poison,  she is strong against flying venoms,
she is strong against the foe  who goes through the land.
 Rout you now, Attorlathe [Venomloather],  the less the more,
the more the less  until there be a remedy for him against both.
Remember you, Maythe [Camomile],  what you revealed,
what you accomplished  at Alorford,
that never for flying venom  did he yield life
since for him a man prepared  Maythe for food.
This is the herb  that is called Wergule.
This a seal sent  over the sea ridges,
as a remedy  against the harm of another poison.
[Two herbs, chervil and fennel, are missing]

[Lay of the Nine Twigs of Woden]

These nine go  against nine poisons.
A worm came crawling,  he wounded nothing.
Then Woden took  nine glory-twigs [wuldor tanas]
smote then the adder  that it flew apart into nine (parts).
There apple and poison  brought it about
that she never would  dwell in the house.
Chervil and Fennel,  very mighty two,
these herbs he created,  the wise Lord
holy in heaven  when He hung;
He established and sent them  into the seven worlds,
to the poor and the rich,  for all a remedy.
She stands against pain,  she assaults poison,
who has power against three  and against thirty,
against enemy's hand  and against great terror
against the bewitching  of little/vile wights.
Now these nine herbs have power  against nine evil spirits 
[wuldorgeflogenum, "fugitives from glory"],
against nine poisons  and against nine flying venoms:
Against the red poison,  against the foul poison,
against the white poison,  against the purple poison,
against the yellow poison,  against the green poison,
against the dark poison,  against the blue poison,
against the brown poison,  against the crimson poison.
 Against worm-blister,  against water-blister,
against thorn-blister,  against thistle-blister,
against ice-blister,  against poison-blister.
If any poison  flying from the east,
or any from the north  . . . come
or any from the west  over humanity.
Christ stood over the old ones,  the malignant ones [?].
I alone know  running streams
and the nine adders  now they behold [?].
All weeds must now  give way to herbs
the seas slip apart,  all salt water,
when I this poison  blow from you.

[The Preparation]

Mugwort, waybroad open from the east, lamb's cress, attorlathe, maythe, nettle, crab-apple, chervil and fennel, old soap; work the herbs into dust, mix them with the soap and the apple juice. Work then a paste of water and of ashes; take fennel, boil it in the paste and beat with the [herbal] mixture when he applies the salve both before and after.

Sing the charm [galdor] on each of the herbs three times before he prepares them, and on the apple likewise. And let someone sing into the mouth of the man and into both his ears, and on the wound, that same charm [gealdor] before he applies the salve.

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