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HERBALISM THROUGH THE AGES
by Ralph Whiteside Kerr
© 1969, 1997 and 2015 Supreme Grand Lodge Of The Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis. All Rights Reserved.
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The information in this book is distributed on an “as is” basis, without warranty. Although every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this work, neither the author nor the publisher shall have any liability to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by the information contained in this book.
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PART ONE - LEGEND, ANTIQUITY, AND EARLY HISTORY
1. From the Dawn of Civilization
2. Aromas for the Gods
3. Mysterious Stonehenge
4. God’s Gift to Man
PART TWO - FOLKLORE AND TRANSITION
5. “Everything Is Becoming”
6. Herbs in the Colonies
7. Indian Culture Regions
8. Indian Herbal Rituals
9. The Earliest Agriculturists
PART THREE - THE AMERICAN HERITAGE
10. Herbs Are Health Builders
11. Nature Knows Best
12. Food, Medicine, and Pleasure
PART FOUR - EPILOGUE
13. For Reference and Information
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TRADITION, FOLKLORE, LITERATURE, History, Science, and the arts all play a vital part in the study of herbs. I first became intensely interested in Herbalism years ago, when I was doing my University Postgraduate work at the University of Montana. One of the courses was Research Work in Systematic Botany. The basic text and reference work was. Rydberg’s Flora of the Rocky Mountain States and Adjacent Plains. Combined with this fascinating field work in Nature’s laboratory was a consideration of Plant and Animal Ecology —how plants affect each other and the mutual influence of plants and animals, including man.
In the very beginning of the human race, we find the Bible reference: “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, that is upon the face of the earth.” (Genesis 1:29) Herbs have been an integral part of all life, human, animal, and vegetable, since time began.
Much of the material covered by this book is the result of knowledge gained through the years since 1925, when I first became deeply interested in the study of Herbs, in my University work. In addition to study, this included much research work and experimentation. Some of the references read or consulted are listed:
For accurate, systematic Botanical knowledge, Rydberg’s monumental work mentioned above is recommended. For Historical and Traditional information, study Dioscorides of Ancient Greece; Culpepper (1653); John Gerrard, London, 1597; William Coles, 1657; Funk & Wagnalls’ New Standard Encyclopedia; The Encyclopaedia Britannica; the writings of Pliny; and FLORA (1799-Author unknown). Other references included FOLKLORE AND ODYSSEY OF FOOD AND MEDICINAL PLANTS, by the Lehners: HERBS AND THE FRAGRANT GARDEN, by Brownlow; STALKING
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THE HEALTHFUL HERBS, by Euell Gibbons; HERBS, by Dorothy Childs Hogner; HERBS, by Webster; PLANT DRUGS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD, by Norman Taylor; ALL THE PLANTS OF THE BIBLE, by Walker; HERBAL, by Krutch; THE SCIENCE AND ART OF PERFUMERY, by Sagarin; THE FRAGRANT PATH, by Louise Beebee Wilder; SEEDS AND SPROUTS FOR LIFE and other books by Dr. Bernard Jensen of Hidden Valley Health Ranch, Lake Wohlford, R.F.D. #4, Escondido, California. Our gratitude goes to Dr. Jensen for many courtesies afforded during frequent visits, observations, and researches at Hidden Valley, where Herbalism reigns supreme.
In every instance where a direct quotation has been made from any published work, permission has been secured and grateful acknowledgment is made. We are especially thankful for the outstanding, valuable research work and excellent suggestions by Miss Muriel Daniels, of Oakdale, Long Island, New York. Gratitude is also expressed to the staff of the Escondido Public Library for their cooperation and encouragement.
RALPH WHITESIDE KERR 912 Chestnut Street
Escondido, California 92025
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LEGEND, ANTIQUITY, AND EARLY HISTORY
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FROM THE DAWN OF CIVILIZATION
THE STORY OF herbs is anything but a simple one. It involves an excursion into the realm of evolution. It considers the changing factors that influenced the development of religious practices in various nations of the world. It is linked with problems in mythology and history. It may be said to be the forerunner of the modern sciences of medicine and chemistry, particularly organic chemistry. An understanding of Nature’s Alchemy derived from a study of herbs and herbal products leads us into a keener appreciation of aesthetic influences in anthropology.
Mysticism is a striving to learn and understand the nature and operation of the primal cause, the Universal Mind, the Creative Power of which all humanity is an integral part. The study of herbs and herbal products furnishes an entry into knowledge that is interrelated, demonstrating the universality of creation. As the Philosopher Hegel has stated, “All knowledge is one. If we can know everything about any one thing, we will know all.”
The dictionary defines an herb as “A seed plant devoid of woody tissue which dies completely or to the ground after flowering; an herbaceous plant valued for medicinal properties or for its sweet smell or taste.”
Even before the dawn of history, artifacts and other evidences discovered by archeologists and researchers prove that herbs and herbal
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products played an important part in the individual and communal life of the human beings who were developing the use of the God-given characteristic of creativity.
From legends and the earliest records, we learn that herbs and herbal products were used as incense. Sweet-smelling substances were burned to please or appease the gods, under the direction of the ancient priests, whose power, in many instances, surpassed even that of the leaders of the tribes. Their increasing awareness soon convinced them that the herbal products from which incense was made possessed curative powers as well as pleasing aromas and the priests became “medicine men” as well as religious leaders of the people. From this primitive beginning the modem science of healing developed.
Probably the most ancient authentic records that exist regarding the use of herbs, herbal products, and related materials, as incense, for medicinal purposes and for perfume essences have been discovered in the hieroglyphic records in royal tombs and temples on the west bank of the Nile River near the site of the ancient city of Thebes, in Egypt. It has been estimated that these tombs were constructed several thousand years before the Christian Era. In these records, honey is mentioned as a food and for its curative properties.
This knowledge regarding the use of herbs and herbal products in various ways as related in the temple and tomb records of the country of the Pharaohs did not come into being spontaneously at this particular time. It is logical to conclude, then, that the established practice and application of the many properties of the herbs and their derivatives, which may be termed herbal products, can trace their beginnings, through legend and folklore, into many lands, since the development and dawn of civilization.
An understanding of this will emphasize the realization that the study of Herbalism is truly an excursion into the field of Nature’s Alchemy.
From legendary times, long before the earliest records can be regarded as historical, very few artifacts have been discovered that indicate the development of aesthetic emotions among the representatives of
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Homo sapiens. Neanderthal Man and his predecessors probably were too busy defending themselves against natural enemies to think of anything except brute force against the hazards of existence. In the drawings and carvings in caves which have been attributed to the Cro- Magnon Era, however, certain signs can be interpreted as the burning of incense and use of sweet-smelling products of herbal substances.
Some esoteric researchers hold a theory that the Cro-Magnons may have been descendants of the survivors of Atlantis, which would account for the sudden increase in the aesthetic practices of the people. A factor that favors the belief is that, according to the earliest historical evidence, the inhabitants of the territory surrounding the Mediterranean—the