ANGELICA (Angelica archangelica): Origin: native to the Middle East, perhaps Syria; others suggest the origin lies in cold northern climes such as Norway or Russia. Angelica sometimes is called the Holy Ghost Plant because of its presumed heavenly origin and mystical powers. One European tradition relates that an angel appeared in a monk’s dream and revealed angelica could cure plague (Black Death).

The Gerarde herbal of 1597 identifies a broad range of traditions associated with angelica: he confirms its use as a singular remedie against poison, and against the plague, and all infections taken by evil and corrupt aire; it opens the liver and spleen; decoctions of angelica root prepared with wine were considered effective the cold (shivering); root would prevent witchcraft and inchantments; angelica will thin gross and tough phlegm; it is a singular medicine against surfeiting [overeating]; is beneficial to the heart; cures the bits of mad dogs and bites from other venomous beasts.

The Culpeper herbal of 1653 states that angelica resists poison; defends and comforts the heart, blood, and spirits; treats the plague and all epidemical diseases; resists poison; candied stalks and roots eaten while fasting will prevent infection and when eaten at other times will comfort a cold stomach; treats diseases of the lungs and breast, coughs and shortness of breath; reduces pains due to stoppage of the urine, expels after-birth; opens the liver and spleen; helps digestion; juice of angelic water dropped into the eyes or ears improves sight and deafness; juice placed into tooth cavities reduces pain; powdered root mixed with pitch can be placed over the bites of mad dogs and other venomous creatures; juice dripped into ulcers will make them heal quickly; angelica in distilled water eases gout, sciatica, and eases pain.

Angelica is said to have an unusually consistent link with the western calendar, and that it blooms and sends forth its flowers on May 8th, the feast day of the Archangel Michael. In Medieval England roots of angelica were worn around the neck, behavior said to drive away witches and to avert evil spells. Another tradition of the time relates that if a slice of angelica root would be placed inside the mouth and left for long periods (all day?), this would keep the individual free from potential diseases and protect against poisonings or bites by “mad dogs and venomous beasts.” Another recommendation for angelica use in Medieval England was that a decoction treated upset stomachs and “provoked disgust for spirituous liquors.” Angelica was widely prescribed for diseases of the lungs and breast, and liver problems, that it “defended the heart, blood, and spirits.” In rural England during the past century sprigs of angelica were observed attached to doors where gypsies lived. In the geographical region of Lapland garlands of angelica sometimes are offered to aspiring poets in the belief that the attractive odor of the plant will inspire their literary efforts. Angelica seeds are one of the flavoring agents are used by the French during preparation of their liqueur, chartreuse. It has been noted that powdered angelica seeds and leaves sometimes are prepared as incense and burned during contemporary 21st century neo-pagan healing and exorcism rites.

(Summarized from: Gerarde, 1597, pp. 846-848; Culpeper, 1653, pp. 8-9; Thiselton-Dyer, 1889, p.p. 285-286, 297; Colin, 1962, pp. 4-5; Jacob, 1965, p. 106; Northcote, 1971, pp. 48-50; Priestley and Priestley, 1979, pp. 21-23; and Vickery, 1995, p. 4).

See also