St John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort – Hypericum Perforatum

St John’s wort, St John’s wort
My envy whosoever has thee
I will pluck thee with my right hand
I will preserve thee with my left hand
Whoso findeth thee in the cattle field
Shall never be without kine.

Gaelic Names
Achlasan Chaluimchille (armpit package of Columba)
Allas Muire (image of Mary), lus na Maighdinn Muire (Virgin Mary’s Herb)

Folk Names
Balm of the warrior’s wound, Aaron’s beard


St.John’s Wort brings sunshine to the nerves. Calming anxiety, tension, menstruation, depression and extreme emotional states, it sedates you somewhat and reduces pain by calming the nervous system. Dry out the whole plant above ground and use it in tea.
When you put the plant in oil it turns the liquid bright red. This oil can be used for sunburn, bruises and mild burns. A skin rub is made by adding melted beeswax to the warmed oil. When cold this is applied to wounds, bruises and burns.

HERE is how to make the oil.

Sometimes used for brewing beer, flavouring whisky and producing a red dye.

In those days before Christianity, St.John’s Wort was used to light the Beltane (May 1st) fire, the bringing in of Summer and the Winters end . Its yellow flowers appearing around mid-summer, it is associated with the Sun and used widely in midsummer festivals and rites.

The plant is well regarded for it’s protective qualities, ‘ ward[ing] away second sight, enchantment, witchcraft, evil eye, and death, and to ensure peace and plenty in the house, increase and prosperity in the fold, and growth and fruition in the field.
Here is a Gaelic poem like the one at the top describing the virtues of the plant, found in ‘The Scots Herbal’ :

Arm-pit package of Columba, kindly
Unsought by me, unlooked for!
I shall not be lifted away in my sleep
And I shall not be thrust upon iron…
Better the reward of it under my arm (left armpit)

Than a crowd of calving kine;
Better the reward of its virtues
Than a herd of white cattle

Other Details
St John’s Wort grows on grassland, hedgebanks and open woods throughout Britain.

Making Oil


This bright red liquid will help to heal bruises, sprains, burns, skin irritations, or any wound that involves nerve damage.

Gather the top 6 inches of the plant when in flower. Do this as close to midsummer as possible for optimum potency.

Get yourself some good oil that you wouldn’t mind smearing on your skin. Almond oil is good and other nut oils will do well. If you want to splash out use hemp oil.

We will assume you want to make a half pint of the healing unction, but it is your choice, depending on how much you or those around you get injured.

Lightly pound the  flowering heads, leaves included, in a mortar and pestle to release the juices. Put the plant into the half pint glass container of oil until there is hardly any more space, making sure that all plant material is covered by the oil.

Put a cork or lid on the bottle and leave it in the sunlight for 40 days (and 40 nights). Give it as much sun as possible.

Every few days give the bottle a slight jiggle around. Watch it go more and more red.

When the month is up and the oil is a deep bright red colour, strain the plant matter from the oil and you are left with a healing ointment for applying to burns and bruises and cuts and inflammations.

If you feel it is the type of injury that needs treatment with sunshine, such as a nerve rending cut or a burn on a kettle, apply this oil, coating the injured area.

We were told in a comment below that the oil on skin can cause photosensitivity so when applied it is best to avoid direct sunlight on the injured part.

Make sure you clean the container before you start and you and the injury are clean before applying the oil.

Alexander Carmichael (The Scots Herbal)
Darwin, Tess. ‘The Scots Herbal’. (Mercat Press, 1996)
Hoffmann, David. ‘The New Holistic Herbal’. (Element Books, 1983)
Baker, Margaret. Discovering the Folklore of Plants. (Shire Publications, 1969)

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