I had a great chat with Al Cumins and Joseph H Peterson yesterday to discuss some potential discrepancies with a few herb. First on the subject was the 10th herb, apium. This is understood to be celery to some and parsley to others, but it has some serious evil connotations of what was an unknown origin.
the 10 herb is Ap~ni. this is of great power upon winds & deuills, and fantasies, & it is shaded & touched to shade & the cloude alstisse for in it by winds & deuills & this alone maketh albo fortu~. & they be much contrary for one is kept with heauenly angells & another with deuills. z. ap~m. And this breaketh the stone of the reynes. And a woman with child use her it not, for it noyeth to the child. And it gathereth together deuills when suffumigation is made with it nisqrmo and arthemesia Apiu~ suffumed by 7 nights with fagar almeit, & gathered cleanly & the roote of it put & dried & than tempered with aqua lapidis suffume thou thee by enviroñ, when thou wilt, & thou shalt see fantasies & deuills of diuerse maners.Sepher Razielis
Peterson cleared up that apium is both parsley and celery. That the two likely were considered similar enough. But as for the evil details, that is found in the kyranides…
“φρύνιον is an Herb, which is called βατράχιον, i.e. Rana, an evil Plant. The forms of it is as apium raninum: And it grows in Waters, being of a burning quality.”Kyranides
So we have a source in the kyranides which the copiest likely equated to apium and retained the evil property.
As for the second herb in question is known as sca or centaurea in various texts. Sca is a mystery until you look at the manuscripts where you see it’s an abbreviation for sancta, a generic term. Even centaurea is a generic term referring to masses of flowers. So what exactly is it? If it’s what we consider centaurea today, there is no historical use in alignment with the properties.
The 13 herbe is that is said sta~ & this is middle in lenght & hath little leaues: this ought to be holden worshippfully in holy places as in churches for it defendeth the place from euill things. And with his prophetes madeth dead men to speake that were dead by many dayes or fewe. In place where is any euill he hath not might if he that bearetht it clepeth him not. And it giueth to him might upon thing which he would. And this herbe put upon the place where deuills be closed it constrayneth them & bindeth them lest they might moue themself. And Salomon said I found in the booke of Hermetis, that who that taketh water in the 4th houre of the night & goeth upon the tombe of a dead man with Spirit he will haue speech, cast he water upon the tombe with this herbe ysopo. And the water be it suffumed with costo succo musto & say surge, surge, surge, that is to say, “rise, rise, rise,” & come & speake to me. And do this by 3 nights, & in the third he shall come to thי & he shall speake with thee of what thing thou wilt.Sepher Razielis
I was at a loss here, so I spoke to Peterson about it and the hunt for information began. First was the reference to Halle and VRL1300 which revealed prophetae, still fairly ambiguous but led down the right path. Peterson found a reference by Du Cange equating prophetae to vettonica or betony.
Upon further inspection we found relevant folklore around betony:
The first reference to betony occurs in a work by the Roman physician Antonius Musa, who claimed it as being effective against sorcery. It was planted in churchyards to prevent activity by ghosts.Magical Practices against Elves
The Anglo Saxon Herbal recommends its use to prevent “frightful nocturnal goblins and terrible sights and dreams”. A Welsh charm prescribes: to prevent dreaming, take the leaves of betony, and hang about your neck, or else drink the juice on going to bed.
So there we have it. Apium is both celery and parsley while sca/centaurae/prophetae is hedgenettle.
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