Witchy Wednesday: Herbal Codes for Your Grimoire

"Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble." ~Shakespeare's Macbeth

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf...these terms all conjure the image of evil witches killing animals and using their body parts for potions and brews.
Most of you know that witches don't kill animals or use their body parts for magic. So what's the real story behind these terms?

In older times, the witch (wise woman, herbalist, doctor) wouldn't use scientific names for herbs.. they were named as they saw them. Body parts were literally parts of the plant such as:

  • Eye: Inner part of a blossom
  • Foot, Leg, Paw, Toe or Wing: The leaf
  • Guts: The roots and stalk
  • Hair: Dried stringy herbs
  • Head: Flower
  • Heart, Private Parts or Sex Organs: Seed or Bud
  • Tail: Stem
  • Tongue : Petal

There were also herbs that were called by animal names.
 Here's a compilation of herbal 'codes' commonly used for both herbalism and magic. My bet is you'll at least be surprised by one or two here. 


Adder's Tongue: Dogstooth Violet; Plantain

Ass's Foot: Coltsfoot


Bat's Wing : Holly Leaf

Bat's Wool : Moss

Bear's Foot: Lady's Mantle

Bird's Eye: Germander, Speedwell

Blood: Elder sap or another tree sap

Blood from a Head: Lupine

Blood from a Shoulder: Bear's Breeches

Blood of a Goose: Mulberry tree's sap

Blood of a Hamadryas Baboon: Blood of a spotted gecko

Blood of a Snake: Hematite

Blood of an Eye: Tamarisk Gall

Blood of Ares: Purslane

Blood of Hephaistos: Wormwood

Blood of Hestia: Chamomile

Bloody Fingers: Foxglove

Blue Jay: Bay laurel

Bone of an Ibis: Buckthorn

Brains: Cherry tree gum [this phrase usually designates any fruit tree gum]

Bull's Blood or Seed of Horus: Horehound

Bull's Foot: Coltsfoot

Bull's Semen: Eggs of the blister beetle


Calf's Snout: Snapdragon

Capon's Tail: Valerian

Cat: Catnip

Cat's Foot: Canada Snake Root and/or Ground Ivy

Clot: Great Mullein

Corpse Candles: Mullein

Cuddy's Lungs: Great Mullein

Crocodile Dung: Ethiopian Earth

Crow Foot: Cranesbill, wild geranium, buttercup


Devil's Dung: Asafoetida

Dog: Couch grass

Dog's Mouth: Snapdragon

Dog's Tongue: Hounds Tongue

Dove's Foot: Wild Geranium

Dragon's Blood: Resin of Draco palm

Dragon's Scales: Bistort leaves


Eagle: Wild Garlic of Fenugreek

Ear of an Ass: Comfrey

Ears of a Goat: St. John's Wort

Englishman's Foot: Common Plantain

Eye of Christ: Germander, Speedwell

Eye of the Day: Common daisy

Eye of the Star: Horehound

Eyes: Inner part of a blossom; Aster, Daisy, Eyebright


Fat from a Head: Spurge (Euphorbia)

Fingers: Cinquefoil

Five Fingers: Cinquefoil

Foot: Leaf

Frog: Cinquefoil

Frog's Foot: Bulbous buttercup

From the Belly: Earth-apple

From the Foot: Houseleek

From the Loins: Chamomile


Goat's Foot: Ash Weed

God's Hair: Hart's Tongue Fern

Gosling Wing: Goosegrass

Graveyard Dust: Mullein, but can also mean actual dirt from a graveyard.

Great Ox-eye: Ox-eye daisy

Guts: The roots and stalk of a plant


Hair: Dried stringy herbs; ripe male fern

Hair of a Hamadryas Baboon: Dill Seed

Hair of Venus: Maidenhair fern

Hare's Beard: Great mullein

Hawk: Hawkweed

Hawk's Heart: Wormwood seed or wormwood crown

Head: Flower of a plant

Heart: Walnut; bud, seed, or nut

Hind's Tongue: Hart's Tongue Fern

Horse Hoof: Coltsfoot

Horse Tongue: Hart's Tongue Fern


Jacob's Staff: Great Mullein

Jupiter's Staff: Great Mullein


King's Crown: Black Haw

Kronos's Blood: Cedar


Lamb: Lettuce

Lamb's Ears: Betony

Leg: Leaf

Lion's Hair: Tongue of a Turnip [i.e., the leaves of the taproot]

Lion's Tooth: Dandelion aka Priest's Crown

Lion Semen: Human Semen


Man's Bile: Turnip sap


Nightingale: Hops


Paw: Leaf

Physician's Bone: Sandstone

Pig's Tail: Leopard's Bane

Privates: Seed


Ram's Head: American Valerian

Rat: Valerian

Red Cockscomb: Amaranth


Seed of Horus: Horehound

Semen of Ammon: Houseleek

Semen of Ares: Clover

Semen of Helios: White Hellebore

Semen of Hephaistos: Fleabane

Semen of Heracles: Mustard-rocket

Semen of Hermes: Dill

Shepherd's Heart: Shepherd's Purse

Skin of Man: Fern

Skull: Skullcap Mushroom

Snake: Bistort

Snake's Ball of Thread: Soapstone

Snake's Head: Leech

Sparrow's Tongue: Knotweed

Swine's Snout: Dandelion leaves


Tail: Stem

Tears of a Hamadryas Baboon: Dill Juice

Teeth: Pine Cones

Titan's Blood: Wild Lettuce

Toad: Toadflax; Sage

Toe: Leaf

Tongue: Petal


Unicorn's Horn: False Unicorn Root; True Unicorn Root

Urine: Dandelion


Weasel: Rue

Weasel Snout: Yellow Dead Nettles/Yellow Archangel

White Man's Foot: Common Plantain

Wing: Leaf

Wolf Claw: Club Moss

Wolf Foot: Bugle Weed

Wolf's Milk: Euphorbia

Woodpecker: Peony

Worms: Thin Roots

Note: This was originally posted a few years ago on my first Secret Life blog.. Feel free to copy/paste into your own Book of Shadows or Grimoire!

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