By Anne Ophelia Dowden
An creation to herbs, their background, features, and their many makes use of.
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Extra info for A Chronicle of Herbs: This Noble Harvest
And they are still woven into the ceremonies and symbolism of nearly all the world's religions. In prehistoric times, the properties of herbs were secrets learned by the most intelligent and observant individuals, then became the magicians, medicine men, and cially secret priests. who Espe- were the plants that caused stupor or delirium, because the possessors of such secrets could produce trances and other manifestations that could be laid to supernatural causes. The ravings of oracles and the ecstatic visions of many religious groups hemp were induced by such narcotic plants (marijuana), and — in the western hemisphere cactus peyote and various mushrooms.
Killer. It was the poisonous drink that executioners gave to the Greek philosopher Socrates when he was condemned to death for corrupting the minds of the young; and other ancient philosophers who wanted to commit suicide crowned themselves with garlands and drank hemlock. Throughout Europe, it was a plant of ill omen, a funereal and satanic herb. Hemlock, along with eye of newt, toe of frog, lizard's leg, and gall of goat, simmered in the cauldron of the three witches who met Macbeth on a wild heath and foretold his bloody future.
Good housewives have always folded lavender, rosemary, and southernwood among their woolens to protect them from moths, and at one time pennyroyal was scattered among the strewing herbs to deter fleas, while tansy was used to discourage ants. More serious pests, from head lice to rats to wolves, were exterminated with the truly virulent poisons — aconite, helle- and pyre thrum. Pyre thrum flowers are the source of its poison, which kills insects without harming warm-blooded animals. It is still an effective and safe garden bore, larkspur, 59 spray and is now produced commercially.