What is Blue Vervain? Blue Vervain is a modest little herb growing in the wild waste places of the Intermountain West. Despite the inconspicuous nature of its little lilac-blue flowers, Vervain was the foremost magical herb of antiquity. It was a vital ingredient of magic potions and was believed to heal everything "and more." Healers used it to ignite and reignite the fires of love. The ancient Romans sprinkled infusions of it in banqueting halls to make their guests merrier. Vervain was also considered an herb of peace and often used as a flag of truce between warring factions.
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In England the Common Vervain is found growing by roadsides and in sunny pastures. It is a perennial bearing many small, pale-lilac flowers. The leaves are opposite, and cut into toothed lobes. The plant has no perfume, and is slightly bitter and astringent in taste. The name Vervain is derived from the Celtic ferfaen, from fer (to drive away) and faen (a stone), as the plant was much used for affections of the bladder, especially calculus. Another derivation is given by some authors from Herba veneris, because of the aphrodisiac qualities attributed to it by the Ancients. Priests used it for sacrifices, and hence the name Herba Sacra. The name Verbena was the classical Roman name for 'altar-plants' in general, and for this species in particular. The druids included it in their lustral water, and magicians and sorcerers employed it largely. It was used in various rites and incantations, and by ambassadors in making leagues. Bruised, it was worn round the neck as a charm against headaches, and also against snake and other venomous bites as well as for general good luck. It was thought to be good for the sight. Its virtues in all these directions may be due to the legend of its discovery on the Mount of Calvary, where it staunched the wounds of the crucified Saviour. Hence, it is crossed and blessed with a commemorative verse when it is gathered. It must be picked before flowering, and dried promptly.
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