Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Guest Author, Nancy Lee Badger on Scots Herbs as Love Potions

Welcome back to History Undressed, guest author, Nancy Lee Badger!  Nancy has fascinated us in the past with her popular posts on Scots brew, dragons, mythology and today she is going to tantalize us once again with her article... so read on, dear history lovers, read on!

Scots Herbs as Love Potions
By Nancy Lee Badger

Every country has a history of aphrodisiacs and love potions. The Scots are no different. The folklore that surrounded the magical properties of herbs sent people to healers. Whether held in high regard or in shadows, even witches were persons to visit when special needs arose. Many of the herbs they used in healing or in love potions, are still in use. While researching medicinal herbs for use in my Scottish romances (the ones not yet published) I came across some interesting information. Love potions were widely believed to work, and Scots used what they could find in order to make their dreams come true. Most of the herbs’ strange uses are wrapped in hand-me-down folklore.

Scots Lovage is a plant easily found on the coast of Scotland. Also known as sea parsley, the Scots pick it for a variety of uses. Eaten raw or boiled, many believe that the plant holds the base qualities of an aphrodisiac. For some, the strong taste might cause them to try other resources. No one said love was easy.

Others believe in gathering and bringing home a piece of the Yarrow plant. Yarrow, known for its ability to stanch blood-flow in a wound, is said to be collected by a young woman while she chants a spell, then placed under her pillow. Its magical uses include divination, courage, and the dispelling of negativity. Also known for its use against swelling and infection, some drink it in tea for its ability to enhance the power of perception. Others think it is helpful against arthritis symptoms. Yarrow is also a powerful incense additive for love spells. Some Scottish ladies of old would carry it with them to draw love and attract friends. Since it was also handy to have on hand after a battle (back to that blood-stanching ability), the lowly yarrow had a rather large following.

Pearl Wort, also known as meal plant, probably because it was fed to dairy cows, is said to be used in a potent love charm. Folklore says that if a Scottish lass wets her lips with a tincture of pearl wort, then kisses the man of her dreams, the gent will be hers forever. The Gaelic name is lus beannaichte, which means blessed plant. Maybe it worked! There are, after all, over 5 million Scots living in Scotland.

The early purple Orchid, whose Gaelic name, urach, means earthy, grows roots that form two storage tubers. In some places, the dried tubers resemble testicles and are carried as love charms. The powdered root placed under the pillow is also said to make a person dream of the person they are destined to love. I am sneezing already.

Even the dangerous Foxglove, also known scientifically as Digitalis purpurea, is part of a love charm. The charm involves several other items including the burning of “an old man’s bones” so I cannot see this having much appeal. Not nowadays, anyway. Foxglove was mainly used to treat dropsy and heart ailments. Too much can cause death. I would stick clear of this herb!

Mint, which includes both spearmint and peppermint, and grows in Scotland as M. spicata L. is also said to have magical attributes such as strength, luck, and money. (I’m for that!) Its medicinal properties are still in use today. Mint tea helps upset stomachs, flu, and even hiccups. Mint tea, used instead of aspirin, is great for headaches and has been used through the ages to aid the respiratory and circulatory systems. It can have a powerful stimulant effect on the body and can positively influence the mind and emotions. Emotions such as love? Hmm…

Meadowsweet is thought to offer protection against evil influences, and also to promote love, balance and harmony. It was a sacred herb of the Druids, who knew all there was to know about trees, flowers, and herbs. A worshiper would place meadowsweet on the altar when making love charms and conducting love spells, to increase their potency. While researching herb use for a book, I found that meadowsweet is also used in making Scottish Ale. My characters in DRAGON’S CURSE, my Scottish paranormal from Whispers Publishing, drink home brewed ale. Delicious!

Lavendar Flower (a more widespread spelling is lavender) is also used in love spells. As anyone who reads historical novels knows, this scent, wafting over the heroine after her bath, draws the hero in. Since some believe this herb can also be used for chastity, things can get a little confusing.

And now I come to catnip…STOP LAUGHING. Catnip is said to be ruled by the planet Venus and has been used in love, beauty, and happiness spells for centuries. I keep several containers around for my cat, Blaze. He’s happy, so I’m happy. I do not believe my husband could turn any more loving if I sprinkled it on his head, so we will leave this so-called love potion ingredient to others.

This is just a small sample of the hundreds of herbs in our world, and a few that survive growing in the harsh climate of Scotland. If you are interested in reading more about the mysterious properties of Scottish herbs, I have included several links below. I would also suggest checking out a book by Tess Darwin, called The Scots Herbal, the Plant Lore of Scotland.







Sometimes a special gift and an unwanted curse cannot keep destined lovers apart.

Brianna Macleod has accompanied a shipload of her guardian’s friends to a remote island off the coast of Scotland. She eludes these Highland hunters to keep her innocence…and her gift of sight. Her attitude against falling for womanly desires changes when she nearly drowns. Saved by the talons of a terrifying winged beast, she awakens—naked—in a cave, beside an unusual man.

Cursed by a vengeful witch to transform into a dragon at inopportune times, Draco MacDonald hides on this deserted island to live alone: until he plucks a servant girl from certain death. Fueled by jealousy, and tempered by fear for her safety, he succumbs to an unfamiliar desire to mate. Her kisses propel him to dare to make her his own.

Set in 1592 Scotland on the Scottish island of Staffa, the cursed hero battles a ghostly witch, a hunter set on rape, and his own growing desire for a young woman with premonitions of his death.

Her kisses propel him to dare to make her his own.


The water foamed and splashed as if more than one creature fought beneath the surface. Brianna stared through the sea spray, wiping her face with a tattered bit of fabric. She stared toward whatever swam beneath the surface. The sun glinted on something very odd. Emerald-green scales and a long, barbed tail curled just under the surface before the water clouded with a crimson hue.

“Is that blood?” Nia whispered.

“Aye. I think something has come to our aid.”

“I hope the beasties are no’ fighting over who gets to eat us.”

Brianna laughed aloud. The sound startled both her and her friend. “Nay, I am no’ crazed. Fear does strange things to a person. I, too, hope we survive this adventure.”

“Adventure?” Nia shook her head, pointing to a large piece of floating debris, and said, “Look.”

“Tis probably a piece of decking. Mayhap we can raise our feet above the water and look less appetizing to the beasties.”

“Good idea. Swim for it,” Nia cried.

Brianna led the way. Numb fingers clutched the jagged plank. Pain seared up her arms as the wood scraped away skin and dripped blood into the water.

“Ye first,” Brianna insisted when she saw a shivering Nia’s pale skin. Brianna rejoiced when her companion reached the safety of the large planks.

“Now you,” Nia said.

“Move over a bit so I can—“

With a flurry of foam, she lost her grip.

Water closed over Brianna’s head. She brushed against something scaly before it pulled her beneath the waves. Talons clasped her around her waist.


Nancy Lee Badger lives with her husband in Raleigh, NC. She loves everything Scottish and still volunteers annually, with her family, at the New Hampshire Highland Games, http://www.nhscot.org/. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and Celtic Heart Romance Writers. DRAGON’S CURSE is available from Whispers Publishing.

Buy Link: http://whispershome.com/erotic/romance/dragons-curse/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dragons-Curse-ebook/dp/B004IAT964/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1298607444&sr=1-6

Visit her website: http://www.nancyleebadger.com/

Nancy’s blog: http://www.rescuingromance.nancyleebadger.com/


Nancy Lee Badger said...

Thanks for having me here, again. I enjoy the research involved in creating these different articles while writing the books of my heart. Back to writing my next novel....

cornelia amiri said...

Great blog post and what a wonderful excerpt the book Dragon's Curse sounds fantastic!

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

I love reading about the historical use of herbs. There is always a fact behind the myth! Herb folklore is how so many medications are discovered.

Nancy Lee Badger said...

Thanks for the kind words. I use the info in a book I am currently shopping to a publisher. My present day heroine, steps back in time to old Scotland. I had to have her use herbs she recognized from present day that were available in Scotland in the past. Fun doing research!

M. S. Spencer said...

Fascinating, Nancy! I have grown quite a few of these, including lovage and yarrow--I didn't know they could have improved my love life! My ancestry is Scots & we took a wonderful trip through the whole country--wonder what spices go in haggis (which IS delicious)(but that's probably the Scot in me).
Meredith Ellsworth
~Lost without Love ~ Romance in Suspension from M. S. Spencer
Author of the bestsellers Lost in His Arms and Lost & Found from (www.redrosepublishing.com/books)
COMING SOON: Losers Keepers from www.secretcravingspublishing.com

Barbara Monajem said...

Very interesting! (Those highland cattle are cute!! How do they see anything through their long bangs?)

Paty Jager said...

Great information, Nancy. I always enjoy reading about the other uses of plants.

I have a book on Indian Herbalogy that I've used in my spirit trilogy.


Beth Caudill said...

Hey NAncy, I love learning how people used to use herbs and plants. Makes me think we're missing out on some magic in the 21stCentury.

Mickey said...

Very impressive. I learn something every time I read one of your spots. Looking forward to reading Dragon's Curse.

Barbara Bettis said...

Really like the information on herbs, Nancy. And the excerpt sound great--I can't wait to find out what those talons are all about.

Highland Lassie said...

What a great post! Thanks so much for sharing! It's amazing what kind of interesting things we can find out if we just look!!

Loved your excerpt!!!

Best wishes, Nancy!

Kelley Heckart said...

Thanks for sharing some Scottish herb lore. I have a book on herbs and I use it every time I am writing a book--it's the reference book I use the most.

Your book sounds really good too.

Nancy Lee Badger said...

Concerning haggis...besides salt, pepper, and cayenne, it gets its "something you have to get used to" flavor from oatmeal and beef suet. Of course, the onions go far in disguising the sheep's pluck (liver, heart and kidneys...yum!)