This wonderful sweet scented grass has many names that indicate it’s use since pre-historic times. Better known nowadays as Sweet grass, it is considered a sacred grass. The ritual use of Mary’s Grass has almost been forgotten in Europe, today the Sweet grass braids from North America are more known. They are loved for their sweet scent, healing and blessing effect.
The different names show us how Mary’s grass (Hierochloe odoranta) was used. The Latin term „hierochloe“ is made up of hieros (holy) and Chloe (grass, sapling). Other names are holy grass, sweet grass, vanilla grass, herb of harmony, Mary’s bedstraw, bison grass, buffalo grass, Freya’s grass, and Freya’s hair.
As a favorite food of the wild bison, it is known in Slavic Europe under the name of buffalo or bison grass (zubrovka), harvested from a wild collection in the Bialowieska forest, the last game reserve for the European bison.
Northern American indigenous peoples also appreciate bison grass highly. In the Cheyenne creation myth, the veneration of buffalo, bison, and buffalo grass lives on. For them, it symbolises purification, growth, and renewal and is used in sacred ceremonies, for example, the pipe ceremony, sweat lodge rituals, and the midsummer sundance. It is used in smudge bundles together with mugwort and sage to create sacred space and attract good spirits.
In Europe, the grass was once dedicated to the goddess Freya, the Germanic goddess of love, fertility, and growth. Her weekday is Friday, and in her honor on Fridays, the lovely sweet-smelling grass was offered and burnt in ceremony. Like many Pre-Christian customs, this beautiful tradition was passed on and related to the Virgin Mary. A patroness of childbirth, mothers, and children, Freya’s grass became Mary’s bedstraw, promising healing and protective powers. The protective magical Mary’s grass as a symbol of peace and love can often be seen on medical images of the Blessed Virgin.
In north-western Europe, Mary’s grass is hardly widespread in the wild and is therefore an endangered plant. It can be harvested as a potted plant from May to September. The fully grown stalks only develop their sweet scent after drying, reminiscent of vanilla and hay. The active ingredient coumarin calms, relaxes and opens the heart. It helps to let old energy and energetic patterns go, and invites peaceful new energy.
Try Mary’s grass in a scented pillow for love magic. Use it in incense blends for blessings, harmony and sensuality, and braid Mary’s grass for smudging your home and body.
Medicine Recipe ~ Incense blend FREYA
with Mary’s grass, rose blossoms, rosemary, lavender blossoms, angelica seeds, comfrey, ground ivy, dandelion leaves, alant root
This summery blend in honor of the goddess is made from local plants. It stimulates a sensual, peaceful togetherness. It can also be used to bless and freshen up rooms, clothes, and bodies in a smudge ceremony. Instructions: Collect grass, herbs, blossoms, and root from the garden or sustainable agriculture over the summer. Dry, chop into small pieces and mix in equal parts. If stored airtight, the mixture will last for about 3 years.
You can also find this blend ready-made in my online shop. With coupon code SUNNY10 you will receive 10% off.
Simone Meentzen aka Simi Ninati is an artist and herbalist from Germany. She founded Fiber&Heart in 2015 with nature studies, creating and teaching independent workshops and setting up her online shop. Follow her on Instagram to explore her handmade craft and herbal magick. www.fiberandheart.com
Text & Pictures © by Simone Meentzen