Words for Picking Plants

1 Introduction

Those who picked plants in antiquity took certain precautions, some to avoid direct physical harm, others for less immediate reasons (as critically described by Theophrastus). Often, certain words were said. A small ritual script in the Greek Magical Papyri IV.286–295 can be seen as a template of such formulas.

Where words relevant to the practitioner are meant to be slotted in, I put the writing in italics.

2 Translation

Plant-picking (botanēarsis).

Use it facing the Sun. The words to be said:

“I pick you, such-and-such plant, with my five-fingered hand, I, such-and-such, and I take it with me, so that you be efficacious for me for whatever purpose. I adjure you by the undefiled name of the god! If you do not hear me, the earth which bore you shall never receive rain in your spot again in your life, if I fail in this operation.

Nakh Barnakhо̄kha,
Braeо̄ Mendalaubraasse,
Phaspha Bendeо̄!

“Perfect the perfect incantation (epaoidē)!”