30 Days of Women and Herbs – Frauendreissiger – Nr. 3

Baldrian(Deutsche Version unter der Englischen)

The third herb in this special encyclopedia is one of my favorites. Before I go into details, though, a comment for English speakers: The folk lore I keep quoting in this blog is sometimes hundreds of years old, and so is the German it is written in. When translating, I try to convey as best I can the quaint language with its old sentence construction and words that are not used in the same way anymore. The following recommendation from the 15th century contains an example for this ancient use of words. In the original, the writer used the German word for to push – stossen – and that in its old writing – stoszen. What he was actually talking about was “grinding” the herb. In modern German, grinding would have a different term (mahlen, zerreiben oder zerstoßen) and we would not use the word “stossen” (to push) in that way anymore either.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
The more unofficial, dialect names for this herb include Witches Herb, Cat Hump, and Theriac Root. As many know, this herb is mostly used to calm the nerves, and even as pain medication. Interestingly enough, though, it is also used as an aphrodisiac, as this 15th century handwriting suggests:

“If he wants to make good friendship between man and woman, so take Valerian and pound it to powder and put it into the wine to drink.”

Well, there you go, they called it friendship back then…

The herb’s German name (Baldrian) expresses how people liked it in the antique world, for it is named after the German God Baldur, the beloved son of Odin. Baldur is also named in one of the oldest written German texts, the Merseburg Spells (they were found in a monastery in the German town of Merseburg.)
It goes like this:

Phol ende Uuodan
uuorun zi holza.
du uuart demo Balderes uolon
sin uuoz birenkit

Should you not be able to read that 🙂 , it means: Phol (which is another name of Baldur) and Wotan/ rode into the forest/ There was Baldur’s foal’s/ foot sprained. The double “u” is spoken – well, you guessed it, as a “W.” I always wondered why…

A bunch consisting of Valerian, Black Henbane Burdock, Mugwort, Coriander, and Dill, hung under the roof or on the posts of the stable, expels mean spirits.

Deutsche Version

Das heutige Kraut in dieser speziellen Frauendreißiger Enzyklopädie ist eines meiner Favoriten. Wer hätte gedacht, dass es auch den Spass im Bett erhöht?

Baldrian (Valeriana officinalis)
Volkstümlich: Hexenkraut, Katzenbuckel, Theriakwurz
Dieses Kraut wird zur Nervenberuhigung und als Schmerzmittel, aber auch als Aphrodisiakum verwendet.
Und zwar gemäß einer Handschrift aus dem 15. Jhdt. so:

„Wilther gute freuntschaft machen under manne und under weibe, so nym valerianum und stosz die czu pulver und gib ins czu trinken ins wein“.

Freundschaft nannten die das damals also…

Die Beliebtheit des Krautes schon im Altertum drückt sich auch in seinem Namen aus, das es vom Gott Baldur hat, der bei den germanischen Völkern in hoher Verehrung stand.

Baldur kommt auch in einem der Merseburger Zaubersprüche vor, die zu den ältesten Schriftstücken in deutscher Sprache zählen. Einer der Zaubersprüche fängt so an:

Phol ende Uuodan
uuorun zi holza.
Du uuart demo Balderes uolon
sin uuoz birenkit

Solltest Du das nicht lesen können 🙂 , hier die Übersetzung: Phol (ein anderer Name für Baldur) and Wotan/ fuhren in den Wald/ Da war des Baldurs Fohlen/ Sein Fuß verrenkt. Das doppelte U wird als W ausgesprochen, woher auch die englische Bezeichnung Double-U kommt.

Baldrian, Bilsenkraut, Kletten, Beifuß, Koriander und Dill unter das Dach oder an die Pfosten des Stalles gehängt vertreiben böse Geister.

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