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Witches Pouches:  The not-so stingy
Shepherds Purse

Money Lenders:Woodcut

An excellent example of Luther's use of visual protest is found in two woodcuts from the pamphlet "Passional Christi und Antichristi", originally drawn by Lucas Cranach the Elder.


Now that you have approached the Witches Purse with fear and trembling, it is time to take a tisane of that remedy (Capsella bursa pastoris) for the hysteria and to read further about the true sacredness of herbs.


Christian: Mothers' Heart

A very comprehensive site offers "Flowers of Our Lady",among which the humble plant,Shepherds Purse, accompanies the lily for purity that one immediately associates with the Virgin Mary and The Immaculate Conception, and with "Our Ladys' Bedstraw", dried bundles of which were said to have been used in the stable where Jesus was born to Mother Mary.
His holy birth was said to have turned the Bedstraw a gold colour.


Mary's Gardens was founded in 1951 in  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to research the hundreds of flowers named in medieval times as symbols of the  life, mysteries and privileges of the Blessed Virgin  Mary, Mother of Jesus - as recorded by botanists,  folklorists and lexicographers; and to assist in the  planting of "Mary Gardens" of "Flowers of Our Lady" today.

Shepherds Purse is called Capsella bursa pastor, bourse de cure,  Priest's Purse,coeur de cure ,Priest's Heart,and Mother's heart by the religious Christians who cherish each plants reputation. Fie on you for thinking all evil twisted things about the little hearts, anyway. The fact is that Shepherds Purse is a medecine and that religious beings give any remedy the respect it is due as a gift of God or the Gods.

Shepherds Purse, According to Wicca

Another Great Lady, The White Goddess, is also the  Holy Mother, being the Supreme Deity of the religion Wicca, the revived religion of Witchcraft enjoying the worship of Natures' ways. The White Goddess (or Gaia force) is the Earth (Mother Earth) and is signified by the symbol of the White Rabbit.

The name Shepherds Purse is an analogy based on the similarity in shape to shepherds purses in history.

Womens Ways

I hope the following will be helpful. In searching capsella and folklore in association, I found a site (Lady Raya) about remedies for women.

Here is a precaution about the use of some herbs:

herb precautions

"The following herbs should not be used if there is any possibility of pregnancy, as they can cause uterine contractions and abortion:

Black Cohosh, Blue Cohosh, False Unicorn, Pennyroyal, Rue, Tansy, Yarrow, Wormwood, Goldenseal, Ephedra, Mistletoe, Mugwort, Shepherds Purse, and Poke Root. Myrrh should be substituted in any home remedy that calls for Goldenseal."

Although this advice from the same site does not contain anything further about Shepherds Purse, I have found a useful list of dietary supplements containing estrogens which ease the symptoms of menopause.

soybeans, tofu, miso, flaxseeds, pomegranates, and dates.  Kombucha tea and brown rice also diminish unpleasant symptoms.

"Eat as many raw foods as possible, and add blackstrap molasses, broccoli, kelp, salmon with bones, dandelion greens, sardines, and white fish to your diet.

To relieve menopause and premenstrual symptoms, and promote natural regularity of the menstrual cycle:
Make a tea of Dong Quai, Gotu kola, Fenugreek, Red Raspberry, Black Cohosh, Blue Cohosh, and Fennel."


graphic of Shepherds Purse

Plant Description, According to Wiccan Lore

Click the image to link to a Farm Log description of Shepherds' Purse

The plant grows in wasteland and anywhere but in rich soil it can grow to several feet in height. It is usually six or seven inches tall.

"The small white flowers appear at the Spring Equinox and continue to bloom through till the Autumn Equinox and are witness to the rise and fall of the Sun and the growing season."

"The plant is an epiphany of the Triple Moon Goddess and the flowers are self fertilised reminding us that the Goddess has no need of an opposite sex partner in order to bring forth new life."

Something you can do before the snow flies is to practice the ancient divination of pagans in understanding the magic of Shepherds purse seedpods.

When split open, the colour of the seeds was said by Vickery(1995 p 352)to hold some significance as to fortune. If the seeds inside are yellow that indicates the diviner would find good fortune. If the seeds are green, there was a bleak outlook and the fortune seeker would suffer the fate of Ontarians and remain poor.

Yellow as the suns' colour is thought traditionally to mean good fortune, whereas green is the colour of nature, but also "of the countryside and under Christian hegemony of the felon, the outcaste and non-conformist hence its easy association with poverty and ill-luck.
But green also stood for fertility and it is quite possible that in the original version of the divination the colour stood for fecundity rather than poverty."

Used for internal hemmhorage by early people, Shepherds purse was also mashed up and applied for bleeding piles. Leaves and flowers in an infusion were a remedy for diarrhoea and the plant is used as a diuretic. It mildly assists in the prevention of water retention.
It has traditionally been used externally as a styptich.Shepherds purse was a valuable source of vitamin C and was used in the treatment and prevention of scurvy.


These two images contrast the actions of Jesus with those of the Church hierarchy; the hegemony of religion at the time ensured that when someone drew a Biblical episode like that of Jesus driving the moneychangers out of the Temple, everyone would recognize it.

  This was the use of the theme of antitheses, showing Protestant belief on one side and Catholic belief on the other.

The artist juxtaposed the first scene with a contemporary tableau that many people would also understand: the Pope writes indulgences while common folk pay their hard earned money in tribute.

The two pictures clearly intend to raise public consciousness by illustrating the premise that changes must be made within the Church for life to ever become more Christlike.

"Passional Christi und Antichristi" also demonstrates the artist's use of the second element of political cartoons-- the context of a widely- recognized story or setting-- to get his point across."

M.Aroos, Professor, Art History

Equestrians, Check out this  Site by a veterinarian!

Shepherds' Purse Page

This admirable Vet has posted remedies useful in the treatment of horses, offering photos and uses along with images of equestrian collectors items.There is also an Herb exchange. You can write in and trade herb surplus through this site.

Early Veterinary Medicine

Vintage Illustration links to Description Page courtesy of Flickr Archives.


Other References:

Shepherds Purse is an old remedy found in Polish and  Russian folk medicine, very often used during childbirth. Scroll down on the list.

See Sand Mountain Herbs for an exploration of herbal use.

For Nosebleed

"For nosebleed dip some on cottonball.
Instructions: Use whole plant in, 2 -3 cups daily, drink hot as diaphoretic. Drink cold 2 or more cups a day for a tonic.  Or use by tincture 10-20 drops, make tincture of the fresh herb."

The above remedy was written in former url: "", but this link is not readily available.



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