Our ancestors preserved their admiration, respect, and gratitude towards plants in fairy-tales and legends, songs and proverbs. This body of folk literature most often pays tribute to economically important plants such as buckwheat, grape vine, turnip, wheat, rye, beans and – hemp. The remains of old folk traditions and rituals connected to plants have also survived in the form of superstitions.
In Slovene tradition, belief in the protective power of hemp was widespread. Hemp was reputed to protect a person against all kinds of evil, just as it protected Jesus in his flight from King Herod. According to a Carinthian legend, a labourer once defended himself against a škopnjak – a dangerous being from pagan lore – by standing on wild-growing hemp. In some areas, women wove belts from hemp, in the belief that this would prevent hip pain in the coming year. So belted, they took turns leaping over the bonfire, to ensure their health – if their belt came untied, on the other hand, this was a sign that they would bear a child out of wedlock.
Old healing magic practices also included the application of smoke to affected parts of the body. This was accomplished by scattering embers onto a hot brick or iron pot, then covering them with herbs or other plant parts. Plants used for smoking – especially hemp – were intended to protect places against evil forces, curses, and demons. This belief in the protective properties of smoke and fire has been retained to the present day. The ritual burning of plants was also used to bless homes on particular days of the year or in advance of field work as a request for divine favour, good luck, and a good yield.
More about healing and magical plants in Slovene tradition you can read in book SACRED PLANTS IN FOLK MEDICINE & RITUALS – ETHNOBOTANY OF SLOVENIA by Vlasta Mlakar