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Plantain (Plantago major)

Names: Waybread, cuckoo's bread, St. Patrick's Dock, snakeweed, snakebite, rat's tail, white man's footprint.

Medicinal Uses: Rub fresh juice on nettle stings and insect bites. Roots and leaves help urinary tract, kidneys, and bladder. Heals gastrointestinal ulcers. Used in ointment for hemorrhoids. Use in external wash for sores, boils, inflammations, and ringworm infestations. Decoction used for thrush in children. Seeds are edible and can be ground into flour, their mucilage lowers cholesterol. Confirmed antimicrobial; stimulates healing processes.

Traditional Magical Uses: Bind with red wool to the head to cure headaches. Like mugwort, place in shoes to cure weariness on long trips. Hang it in your car to prevent evil from entering. Carrying the root protects from snakebite. Said to cause regeneration - Pliny claimed that if several pieces of flesh are boiled in a pot with plantain, it will join them again.

Shamanic Magical Use: This is the plant of Helheim, the land of the Dead. Its shamanic uses are many and varied and rather subtle. First, it can create a certain amount of invisibility for a short period of time. Notice how the weedy plantain manages to make itself so inconspicuous? That's a power that you can harness, especially if you are journeying or pathwalking. Second, it can be used in recels to speak to the ancestors, or to find your way to the Helvegr. Its name "waybread" echoes this usage - waybread will help you find the way.

If you actually manage to get yourself astrally wounded, plantain is the plant to resort to. In some cases, it can even save you from astral death, if your body is still healthy. Its regenerative gift of bringing flesh back to life doesn't work on the physical plane, but I have good reason to suspect that it works on other planes. Since I've not ever been astrally killed by enemies, I've never been in a position to experiment. Those who find the need to implement it should let me know how it goes.