|“||Well, no spells, no. But I'm not completely useless. I mean, the earth still provides herbs and such.||”|
Herbs are plants often used by witches as ingredients which can be incorporated into spells. They are provided by Nature and shown to have their own magical properties. Different herbs have different uses in which they can be used both to give aid and to harm others.
Throughout The Vampire Diaries Series
Vervain is a popular herb that is often used in both TV series. The plants have been found to be toxic when touched or ingested by vampires, and when it is ingested or worn by humans, it will prevent them from being compelled by vampires. How its toxic effects toward vampires came to be dates back to the 10th century, when the Mikaelson Family were first turned into the Original Vampires. Esther, the Original witch and mother to her children with her husband Mikael, modified the original immortality spell created by Qetsiyah and instead called upon the ancient White Oak Tree to lend its immortality to her husband and children. This spell upset Nature, and so Nature attempted to create a balance by making the flowers that grew at the base of the tree (vervain) toxic to these newly created beings. It also became toxic to the Originals' vampire offspring. Humans most often add vervain to perfume, tea, or coffee, as ingesting it is a lot more foolproof than wearing it in jewelry or charms, as an experienced vampire can sense it and take it off. Ingesting vervain has the added benefit of discouraging vampires from feeding on the person, as the vervain infuses in their blood and can poison a vampire who drinks from them. A vampire who touches vervain will be burned relatively badly, depending on its potency, and if they drink, eat, or are injected with the herb, a vampire will become incredibly weak and feverish to the point of unconsciousness.
Wolfsbane, also known as Aconite and Blue Rocket, has similar effects on werewolves that vervain has on vampires. First discovered in the episode Plan B, it was used to torture Mason into telling the truth about Katherine and the moonstone. Surprisingly, it's a commonly-used herb by werewolves to drink as a tea on the night of Full Moons, as ingesting it prior to their transformations can weaken them enough to reduce the chances of breaking free from their restraints and hurting someone while they're changed. This concoction is said by Mason to taste like "battery acid." It is still unknown why exactly wolfsbane is toxic to werewolves, especially considering the origin of the werewolf species to this day is still unknown.
Sage has a variety of magical uses in the occult world, most commonly known as a Native American herb used for cleansing and purification of the self and/or a place. It has a long rooted history in European witchcraft as well. Sage is a plant of immortality and life, and with its properties as a purification herb, it only makes sense to use this in a mixture to extract information, such as in the Voodoo ritual used by Gloria in the introduction.
Additionally, in All My Children, Esther cast a privacy spell on a bundle of sage before burning it. The smoke wafted around the room, and created a soundproof barrier that would prevent any vampires or hybrids from eavesdropping on her conversations with Elena and Finn. Sage appears to be a commonly used herb for Norwegian witches of old, having also been frequently used by Esther, Dahlia and Freya throughout The Originals series.
First shown along with witch hazel and vervain in the episode Disturbing Behavior, the herb has been traditionally used either mixed in water or burned as an incense to bring about psychic vision. It can be assumed that Gloria used this herb to help her make a connection into Stefan's mind.
Shown in Disturbing Behavior, it was one of the needed ingredients for a Voodoo ritual Gloria used to torture information out of Stefan. Not much is known about this herb and it's potential in the series. In natural herblore, it's known for its use in divination, so it could have been used for its ability to form a connection with Stefan's life force in order to see into his mind.
The White Oak Tree is one of Nature's eternal objects. Its wood is the only thing which can kill an Original Vampire. It's use against vampires comes from the genesis of the vampire race and is the source of their immortality. In herblore and magic belief systems, oak represents abundance, creating your own luck, focus and long-term determination, success, and tapping your own divine energy source. Among Norse populations (like the Vikings), the oak was sacred to Odin and was a symbol of supreme knowledge. Indeed Odin hung just to this tree to acquire divine knowledge and to give mankind the "supreme secret" (The Runes, Old Norse for "secret"). In the Greek-Roman religion this was a sacred tree to Zeus/Jupiter, the All-Father.
Magic Muting Herb
In the episode The Ties That Bind, Bonnie's mother, Abby, used a ground up herb to knock Bonnie unconscious, though the name of the herb was never mentioned.
Abby later informed Bonnie that the herb had muted Bonnie's magic, and since Abby warned her daughter to not try any spells, it could be assumed that trying to do magic under the effect of this herb would either be dangerous or leaves one unsuccessful.
It was used once again by Abby in A View to a Kill, to subdue Bonnie in an attempt to cleanse her mind of any dark influence. However, they proved ineffective against the power of Expression as she awoke shortly after, with all her magic still easily accessible. It was used a third time on Bonnie by Enzo.
Darkness Reversal Herbs
In Break On Through, Abby and Bonnie made a concoction of herbs to be used in a spell that would reverse the damage done to a broken psyche in an effort to heal Alaric of his dark alter-ego. It was theorized to be a side-effect from the overuse of the Gilbert Ring's resurrecting power. According to Abby, the spell used was common amongst witches who got too obsessed with Dark Magic which resulted in them acting out their darkest impulses due to a loss of self-control. The herbs were required to be drunk twice daily in order to work.
Qetsiyah's Forest Herbs
The powerful witch Qetsiyah showed a significant use of various herbs, plants and roots of unknown origin in her magical practice.
One of the most powerful spells performed with such is perhaps the one performed in Original Sin, which connected the mind of a Salvatore doppelgänger to his immortal progenitor Silas using a circle of assorted wild herbs she gathered from the surrounding forest, including vines and flowers with yellow and purple hues that are vaguely reminiscent of a variety of tropical hibiscus. These herbs and plants allowed Qetsiyah to disable Silas' psychic powers through his connection to his doppelgänger Stefan Salvatore.
In I'll Remember, Lucas Parker helped Elena Gilbert get over the death of her love Damon Salvatore by supplying her with ancient psychotropic herbs. When ground up, set aflame and mixed with water, the herbs produce a vapor that has a hallucinogenic effect on those who take it. This allowed Elena to see and interact with a hallucinatory version of Damon whenever she liked. However, a dangerous side effect of these herbs are that they lower the inhibitions of their users, and in the case of Elena, who was a vampire, this increased her hunger and caused her to start feeding on people again.
Throughout The Originals Series
The Originals series has featured many of the aforementioned herbs, such as vervain and wolfsbane, along with quite a few other plants and herbs used in spells and potions. An example of the use of the previously discussed herbs include the vampires under the leadership of Marcel Gerard, who all began inoculating themselves with small amounts of vervain to ensure they couldn't be compelled by Original vampires without some difficulty. Additionally, Mary Dumas, an Elder of the Crescent Wolf Clan, used a burning sage smudge-stick to cleanse an area of the Bayou after she suspected the raging storm was caused by magic.
A plant whose root vaguely resembles that of a thick long branch. It was attempted to be used by Davina in conjunction with an unlinking spell powerful enough to release Marcel and Josh from Klaus's sireline, but she was hampered by Kol, who destroyed the root on Esther's orders to avoid having to hurt Davina herself. The root is probably a herb whose faculties are linked to coercion or liberation. Taking its name from the synonymous Afghan city, Kandahār (or Qandahār), the root is possibly a plant native of this area.
In Gonna Set Your Flag On Fire, Cassie told Rebekah that the "patients" in the Dowager Fauline Asylum are given capsules containing Lobelia flowers, which makes it impossible to concentrate and thus decreases a witch's ability to perform magic, as it requires concentration in order to produce effects. They were also used against Vincent and Freya.
In herbalism, Lobelia has a long history of use by various peoples as a nervine, anti-asthmatic, emetic, and as a tobacco substitute (In fact, it actually works on nicotine receptors as a nicotine antagonist, although it contains no nicotine). Both Native Americans and practitioners of folk medicine recommended it be smoked for asthma, and it decreases nicotine cravings. Lobelia falls under the influence of the planet Neptune and is often used in witchcraft for love spells.
Wormwood and Ripple Weed
Wormwood (used to produce the hallucinogenic affects of absinthe) is believed in folklore and witchcraft to be used to induce visions and aid in astral projection and divination, while ripple weed (or plantains) is believed to enhance the affect of other herbs in magic traditions and lore.
This flower and its roots were used widely by Esther for spells of mental manipulation, particularly for her husband after he returned from battle in a rage. She would use its petals to put him to sleep while she mended his mind with spells, and then would use the roots of the same plant to awaken him once she was done. This rare orchid were also used by Esther to sedate Elijah while she cast spells to break down the memory modification spell she cast 1,000 years prior to make Elijah forget that he had killed Tatia out of newborn vampire bloodlust. Merlock orchids are a parasitic plant and requires specific maintenance to be able to utilize, as explained by Ansel, who often collected the orchids for her when she used them to calm Mikael. The petals have narcoleptic and soporific properties, while the root possesses the opposite qualities and is used to awaken those sedated by the petals and to break spells upon the person.
Jimson weed (also known as Stramonium) is a very powerful poison that has been used since the Middle Ages to carry out assassinations. Is one of the most powerful poisons provided by Nature and has a devastating effect on the body but especially on the human psyche, as it produces delusions and strong hallucinations before lead to death. In They All Asked For You, Ruben Morris mixed it in tea that he served to Rebekah Mikaelson to poison her, believing her to be Eva Sinclair (the identity of her host body). However, there is an antidote, which consists of sertave beans and mizule, as stated by Rebekah, who had learned this information from her mother. According to Katie in House of the Rising Son, mixing a drop of Jimson weed along with aconite in hot water or tea can be used to abort werewolf fetuses, which she explained to Hayley when she was considering terminating her pregnancy for her own safety.
In witch herblore, Stramonium is one of the most famous plants and used in every kind of spell, especially in death curses. Native Americans such as the Algonquin or the Cherokee used this plant in sacred ceremonies for its hallucinogenic properties.
Eva Sinclair's Healing Ointment
A mustard yellow poultice was created by Eva by mixing several herbs and oils into a stone mortar with a pestle. It was used by Eva to disinfect and heal a bad wound she had sustained from Klaus Mikaelson, and also helped relieve the pain. This poultice was applied directly to the wound, and while it initially stung upon contact, it appeared to have eventually soothed the pain from the injury.
Mugwort appears to be a fairly versatile herb, producing a variety of effects when mixed with other herbs. In Fruit of the Poisoned Tree, Rebekah claimed that mixing mugwort with sage creates a potent vampire-repellent when confronted by Marcel. It was possible she was simply being facetious although we later learn of her proficiency in herblore due to her mother. In The Other Girl in New Orleans, Freya Mikaelson mentioned that she had injected Tristan de Martel with a mixture of hibiscus flower and mugwort in order to counteract any vervain in his system. In herblore, mugwort is occasionally confused with wormwood (see below) and is associated with Moon and womanhood. It is known to be a great ingredient for divination and protection spells, which was perhaps the reason why Rebekah claimed it worked well as a vampire repellent.
Dried chamomile flowers were used by Genevieve to alleviate the suffering of Hayley while she was affected by a death hex in A Closer Walk With Thee. Chamomile tea, however, has been shown to be drunk regularly by Esther (while possessing Cassie). In Alive and Kicking, Klaus said that the flowers of this plant grew wild near his childhood home, and that Esther used them often to make chamomile tea, which he loathed. In herblore, chamomile is known for its relaxing properties and is often used as an herbal remedy for insomnia and anxiety.
Solomon's Seal and SnapdragonIn Fire with Fire, the wolf elder, Mary Dumas, taught Hayley the use of herbs, which she had herself been taught by a Voodoo Queen when relations between witches, werewolves, and vampires were more peaceful. By burning a combination of Solomon's seal and snapdragon, one is able to detect the use of magic. If the herbs give off a white smoke, then everything is clear; a black smoke indicates that there is a hex in the air, and if the smoke is red, then there is serious and dangerous magic afoot.
Dahlia flowers are a variety of bushy, tuberous plants used by a powerful witch of the same name. In When the Levee Breaks, Dahlia instantaneously grow several vines to reveal her presence to Hayley at the St. James Infirmary. They grew once again in Ashes to Ashes, surrounding The Abattoir. Dahlia showed finer control by manipulating a single vine to prick the baby Hope's hand to take a drop of her blood so Dahlia could bind herself to the child and channel her power.
The dahlias used by Dahlia is a specific cultivar known as the Woodland Merinda Dahlias. In herblore, these flowers represent dreams, mystique, occult wisdom, the sweetness of shadows, transmutation of emotions, all of which are issues that align well with Dahlia, a dark magic practicing witch.
In Moon Over Bourbon Street, the three resurrected Harvest Witches Monique, Abigail and Davina used their magic to revive cut and dried roses while practicing at the Lycée,. In Live and Let Die, Esther, while possessing the witch Lenore, attempted to locate Davina using three rose petals in a bowl of water, along with several drops of her blood. However, it was unsuccessful due to Davina's powerful cloaking spell.
In herblore, roses mean abundance, beauty, clearing and blessings, dreams, emotional healing, friendship, protection, purification, romantic love, secrecy, self-love, spirituality. In almost all cultures these plants are consecrated to the Goddesses (or sometimes the Gods) of love and beauty. In modern witchcraft, it is also used as a general spell ingredient; roses can be used to replace any flower in a spell, should the practitioner not have a certain flower on hand.
In Fruit of the Poisoned Tree, Rebekah went to the Jardin Gris shop to recover camphor on Sophie's behalf as an ingredient in an herbal concoction that would help lower Hayley's fever after she was cursed with the Needle of Sorrows (via her link to Sophie) by Agnes. Agnes intended to use the dark object to induce a miscarriage in Hayley and kill Hayley's hybrid daughter, whom she believed would bring death to all witches. In real-life herblore, camphor is a resin used in lucky charms and is believed to be a very strong repellent, banishing in both the spiritual and physical plane.
Blue Calamus (or better, its root) is a plant known for its use as a truth serum. This plant has been used for centuries in the werewolf community as part of their Rite of Divulgement, during which the participants smoke the root of the Blue Calamus flower from a peace pipe and link their minds as one to cleanse themselves of their secrets.
In Savior, Freya used white muskroot to enchant a silver knife in order to remove Rebekah's infected flesh with the cursed mark caused by The Cursed Stake. The herb was supplied by Jackson, suggesting that it's a local root that grows in the Bayou and for this reason the wolf had offered to look for it. White Muskroot is a light brown taproot, similar to ginger root.
- Most of the plants described here are toxic and should not be ingested for any reason in reality. This is especially true for aconite/wolfsbane, which is incredibly toxic and potentially lethal to humans and animals alike.
- Although the writers are based on folk magic tradition, many of the qualities of the plants have been created specifically for the show (e.g. the vervain), others are completely fake and invented by the authors to fulfill the plot, such as Kandahar root or the magic muting herbs used by Abby Bennett.
- Several witches in both shows have shown empirical knowledge of herbs: Qetsiyah, Dahlia, Gloria, Abby Bennett, Esther Mikaelson, Lucas Parker and New Orleans witches like Genevieve.