Prayer to the Earth and All Herbs

1 Introduction

These Latin prayers are meant to be recited when herbs are gathered. The first begins as a hymn in verse, but the actual prayer is in prose, as is the whole second text. I translate from the text of John I. McEnerney, “Precatio Terrae and Precatio Omnium Herbarum”, who has restored the original prose sections from their abstruse and uncalled-for “reconstructions” as verse in earlier editors.

2 Prayer to the Earth (Terra)

Holy goddess Earth (Tellus), parent of the nature of things,
Who generate all things and regenerate the stars,
Who alone offer yourself as guardian to all peoples,
Goddess of heaven and the sea, and judge of all things,
Through you does nature rest and catch sleep,
And again you bring back light and rout the night;
You cover the shades of Dis and the immense chaos,¹
You contain the winds, rains and storms,
And at your will, you let loose and mix the seas,
And you rout the suns and stir up the gales
And then again, when you wish, you send out a pleasant day.
You deal out the sustenance of life with eternal faithfulness
And when the soul recedes, we escape into yourself,
And whatever you deal out, all things fall back into yourself.
Rightfully you are called the Great Mother-of-Gods
Because you have excelled the powers of the gods² in devotion
And you are truly that parent of peoples and gods
Without whom nothing can die or be born.
You are great and you are the queen of the gods, o goddess!

I pray to you, goddess, and I invoke your divine power (numen),
And may you, gentle one, provide me with what I ask of you,
And I shall return, goddess, thanks with merited faithfulness.
Hear me, I ask, and favor what I have begun.
What I ask of you, goddess, be willing to provide me with.

Whatever herbs your majesty generates, you distribute for the sake of health to all peoples. Make this your medicine licit to me. Come to me with your powers. Whatever I shall make from these (herbs), let it have a good outcome; and to whomever I shall give them, whoever shall receive them from me, keep them healthy. Now, goddess, I demand that (your) majesty shall help me in whatever I humbly ask of you.³

1: The Earth contains the underworld (chaos, the realm of Dis) within it.
2: Divum numina, meaning simply “other gods”.
3: The final part is in prose, and open to adaptation for any given herb and use of the herb.

3 Prayer to All Herbs

Now¹ I pray to all you powerful herbs; and I implore your majesty, you whom mother Earth (parēns Tellūs) has generated and given to all peoples for a gift. She gathered up the medicine of health and (her/your) majesty in you, so that you would be the most useful assistance to all humankind. Therefore I humbly entreat and pray to you. Be present here with your powers, because the one who has created you has himself permitted me to gather you, and he to whom medicine has been entrusted² also approves. So far as your power is able, Furnish good medicine for the sake of health. Furnish favor to me, I pray, through your protection and, by all your powers, may whatever I shall make from you and to whichever person I shall give it take very swift effect and have good outcomes, so that it shall always be permitted to me, by the approval of your majesty, to gather you; and I will deposit produce (frūgēs) for you³ and give thanks in the name of the majesty which commaned you to grow.

1: After the prayer to the Earth.
2: Asclepius.
3: I.e. in the place the herbs have been taken from.