Category Archives: Magic

Plants and Planets

In the past botanists such as Nicholas Culpeper associated plants with the planets, fixed stars and zodiac signs. The attributions were based on an intense study of a plant’s features, which included treats such as a thorny or prickly appearance, the scent emitted by the flowers or the entire plant, the plant’s life cycle, colors, metals contained in a plant, medicinal and other uses and of course plenty of folklore. Today plants are classified scientifically based on their genome, but their planetary lore is preserved and continues to evolve in the books of authors such as Stephen Skinner, Paul Huson, Scott Cunningham, Harold Roth and so on.

I find it fun and inspiring to continue this tradition and to explore its own inner logic. Hence I am listing here examples of plants, that I am working with, many of which are also part of my seed boxes.

(planetary rulers ordered according to the Chaldean sequence, photos by myself)


Saturn
Aconite + Asafoetida + Belladonna + Bistort + Bittersweet Nightshade (also Mercury) + Black Nightshade + Bluebell + Comfrey + Columbine (also Venus) + Cypress + Dodder + Foxglove (also Venus) + Fumitory + Hellebore + Hemp + Henbane + Ivy + Lady’s slipper orchid + Mandrake (also Mercury) + Mullein + Poison Hemlock + Poplar + Scullcap + Solomon’s Seal + Spurge (also Mars) + Yew

Characteristics: borders, hexing & binding, banishing, addressing “elders”, death spells; poisonous plants, plants that thrive in shade or along borders or on poor ground, plants with unpleasant odors; plants that effect the excretory system, cooling plants, plants that effect the bones and aging processes, anticarcinogenic plants


Jupiter
Agrimony + Anise + Avens + Borage + Cinquefoil + Dandelion + Fig + Honeysuckle + Houseleek + Hyssop + Linden + Liverwort + Lungwort + Meadowsweet + Sage + Thyme + Valerian + Walnut + Wood Betony

Characteristics: generosity, religiousness, law and authority, purification; large plants, nutritious plants, plants that effect the liver, digestive system and blood vessels, appetizing plants


Mars
Asafoetida + Basil + Blackthorn + Bloodroot + Bryony + Broom + Cactus + Carrot + Chili Pepper + Coriander + Dragon tree + Garlic + Gentian + Gorse + Hawthorn + High John the Conqueror + Holly + Houndstongue + Leek + Maguey + Masterwort + Mustard + Nettle + Onion + Oregano + Pennyroyal + Pepper + Pine + Radish + Rue + Snapdragon + Spurge + Sweet Woodruff + Thistle + Thornapple + Toadflax + Tobacco + Wormwood + Yucca

Characteristics: protection, attack and revenge, domination, vigor, vitality; plants with thorns and prickly surfaces that may be irritating to the skin, herbs and roots with a strong spicy aroma, warming plants, plants that strengthen the immune system, plants that effect the muscles and tendons, plants that enhance sex drive and potency, blood-purifying plants


Sun
Angelica (also Venus) + Ash + Calamus + Carnation + Cedar + Celandine + Centaury + Cinnamon + Cowslip + Eyebright + Goldenseal + Heliotrope + Hibiscus + Hops + Juniper + Laurel + Lemon + Lovage + Marigold + Marshmallow (also Venus) + Mistletoe + Oak + Olibanum + Olive + Orange + Palm + Peony + Rosemary (also Mercury) + Rowan + Rue (also Mars) + Saffron + St. John’s Wort + Sunflower + Tagetes + Viper’s Bugloss + Yauthli

Characteristics: centering, wealth, general protection; plants effecting the heart and circulatory system, tonics, warming and calming plants, antidepressant plants, plants that effect the spine, plants that ease symptoms arising from photo-toxic reactions, skin protectants, plants that effect eye sight; flowers that resemble the sun in shape and color, plants with a citrus- or orange-like scent


Venus
Almond + Birch + Catnip + Cherry + Cornflower + Columbine (also Saturn) + Cowslip + Crocus + Elder + Feverfew + Foxglove (also Saturn) + Geranium + Goldenrod + Heather + Iris + Lady’s Mantle + Larkspur + Lemon Balm (also Moon) + Lilac + Marshmallow + Myrtle + Plantain + Pansy + Rose + Self-heal + Tansy + Vanilla + Vervain + Violet + Yarrow

Characteristics: love and money spells, protection from martial spells, harmony, balancing; aphrodisiacs, plants effecting the kidneys and urinary system, astringent plants, plants that have effects on the genital tract, plants that aid wound healing and skin lesions, plants with large flowers and velvety leaves, plants with overwhelmingly sweet scents


Mercury
Bittersweet (also Saturn) + Caraway + Chervil + Clary Sage (also Moon) + Clover + Dill + Elecampane + Fennel + Fern + Lavender + Lemongrass + Lily of the Valley + Mandrake (also Saturn) + Marjoram + Mint + Parsley + Pimpernel + Summer Savory

Characteristics: knowledge, travel, communication, divination, psychopomps, trickery; plants effecting the nervous (nervine) and respiratory system, plants with feathery leaves, herbs with intense but short lasting scents, inconspicuous herbs, multicolored herbs, plants with umbels


Moon
Aloe + Cabbage + Chamomile + Clary Sage + Evening Primrose + Field Penny-Cress + Honesty (Lunaria) + Jasmine + Lemon Balm (also Venus) + Lettuce + Lily + Loosestrife + Mallow + Mugwort + Passion Flower + Poppy + Willow

Characteristics: dreams, clairvoyance; plants that are calming, relaxing and cooling, plants that aid sleep, narcotic and anodyne plants, plants that effect the hormone and lymphatic system, plants with a high water content, flowers with a mild sweet or camphorous scent, plants with flowers that open at night

(to be continued)

Useful links:
Planetary Days and Hours
Lunar Gardening Calendar
Correspondence Tables by Harold Roth

-> You know of a other useful websites or books related to the topic of plant astrology? Please add it in the comments below! ūüôā

Advertisements

April 2017

I spent this month mainly with work on the next row of wooden seed boxes, adding new herbs to the set and reading up on them. The central theme this time were summer¬†herbs¬†(with the summer solstice in mind), which are sown in spring or early summer, such as poppies, cornflower, chamomile, evening primrose, yarrow, viper’s bugloss etc. Then I paid attention to Harold Roth’s book “The Witching Herbs” (signed copies available here), and included seeds for the magical herbs discussed there. Besides these I added some endangered plants such as the wonderful centaury and plants that are in decline, such as the field larkspur.¬†With¬†wood betony and motherwort¬†there are¬†some new old, forgotten about healing herbs¬†joining the series.

Another herb I was curious about (and I know that you are too), is the enchanter’s nightshade. It is quite inconspicuous in appearance, almost invisible between other herbs. It is not poisonous at all and in fact, much more beneficial than, what its name suggests. This makes for some very interesting treats for employing this herb in sympathetic magic…

Along with adding more new herbs I also updated the sowing tables and added info texts for each.¬†Further, my attention was¬†drawn to the Euphorbiaceae plant genus. Last year I had been pointed to the spurge as part of a Martial incense recipe. I started researching but could not pinpoint which type of spurge was meant. There are many plants in that genus, which is found in large diversity all around the globe. But which is the one most relevant in Western medieval / renaissance magic?¬†By chance and when searching for spurge seeds, I came across a seller on eBay who just mentioned randomly that the caper spurge (Euphorbia lathyris), with its impressive size, poisonous milky sap¬†and auspicious shape, was the plant famously believed to break hexes and ward of witches from one‚Äôs home…. Well, here we go. It is now added to¬†the selection of poisonous herbs coming with¬†the boxes and I can’t wait to grow it myself.

What more? I finished and shipped the last of my ‚ÄúPoisoner‚Äôs‚ÄĚ seed boxes. I will now overthink the concept and design for this one.

I also spent a lot of time in the garden, harvesting masterwort root, thinning and weeding out, pricking out seedlings and sowing more…

My shortage of henbane last¬†winter led me to sow new henbane, which resulted eventually in hundreds of little plants of black, white and the rare Egyptian henbane! These have now been separated and planted in trays of 24 each + 1 mixed tray. The temperatures are still low¬†and even though it did not actually freeze again, it is too cold for the small plants (the¬†test tray doesn’t seem to like my outdoors experiment on the window sill). I am therefore keeping the trays with the white and the Egyptian henbane indoors, together with purple Indian datura and several moon vine plants. The tray with the black henbane seedlings stays in the unheated greenhouse.

This month’s harvest:

  • Lamarck’s Aconite (Aconitum lamarckii), thinning out, Tuesday (11th)
  • Masterwort root (Peucedanum ostruthium), thinning out, Tuesday (11th) and Thursday (27th)
  • Herb Gerard (Aegopodium podagraria), weeding out, Saturday¬†(22nd)
  • Myrtle (Myrtus communis), pruning, Sunday (23rd)
  • Horse tail (Equisetum arvense), weeding out, Friday (28th)

Besides, l am now a lady with a barrow full of fragrant lily of the valley!¬†ūüĆĪūüĆĪūüĆĪ¬†(Thanks to an unexpected gift from our neighbors, who are restructuring their garden.) I now have to prepare a spot for them to grow. Else, that barrow has now met its final destiny…

Herbs I plan to sow this and the following weekends:

  • blue hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis ‘Caeruelus’)
  • caper spurge (Euphorbia lathyris)*
  • centaury (Centaurium erythreae)
  • clary sage (Salvia sclarea var. turkestanica)
  • enchanter’s nightshade (Circaea lutetiana)
  • evening primrose (Oenothera odorata ‘Sulfurea’)
  • honeywort (Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’)
  • lion’s tail (Leonotis leonurus)
  • poison hemlock (Conium maculatum)
  • snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus ‘Night and Day’)
  • st. john’s wort (Hypericum perforatum ‘Tauberthal’)
  • thyme (Thymus vulgaris ‘Frnech Summer’)
  • wood betony (Stachys officinalis) *

So long, I wish my followers a Blessed Walpurgis!

Male Fern Dragons, Knights Fighting Snails

Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas)
Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas)

The fronds of the male fern fade during the winter time and leave behind a flaky root-stock, which grows bigger every year and turns black at the center, whereas new fern fronds sprout at the periphery. I like to think, as the years pass, the root begins to look like the scaly back of a dragon hiding beneath the earth, whereas the fronds form the dragon‚Äôs wings…

Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) old roots
Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) old roots

…and one may even spot the dragon’s head lurking in¬†the soil.

The root has been used until recent times as an anthelminthic to expel tape worms. This is supposedly due to flavaspidic acid, a Phloroglucinol derivate, which is contained in the glandular hairs. The root stock and leaf stalks are deadly poisonous, especially in young plants. Overdosage may result in severe poisoning and death.

Rainy spring day

Banded grove snails¬†(Cepaea nemoralis) overwintered between withered fern fronds.¬†Snails and slugs¬†are a gardener’s nightmare, though I’d like to think these banded snails are the “good ones” as opposed to the brown Spanish slug (which I myself battle by the means of¬†sharp iron tools and worse).

However, not only gardeners of modern times are struggling in the fight against terrestrial molluscs, but also medieval knights went to battle the creatures in full armor, as a recent article at the Smithonian.com website elucidates utterly strange and still unexplained depictions in medieval manuscripts:

The Queen Mary Psalter, c 1310-1320 via British Library

And as if that wouldn’t be enough, snails occur also as a¬†metaphor for¬†death and withering¬†in the biblical Psalm 58:8

As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.

Not enough? I strongly recommend you to check out the Hunting for Snails blog, for a plethora of wondrous examples of snails in medieval manuscript art and this collection by the British Library.

Sources:

Echter¬†Wurmfarn + Giftpflanzen.de +¬†Grove Snail¬†+ Why Were Medieval Knights¬†Always Fighting Snails? + Knight vs. Snail +¬†Snail, Psalm 58:8 +¬†Strong’s Concordances + Hunting for Snails +

Candlemas, Februalia

 February 1 2016
Snowdrops are the first messengers of spring

The¬†1st¬†and¬†2nd of February respectively are associated with¬†Imbolc, the Gaelic festival marking the beginning of spring, and Candlemas, the day, when¬†all the Church’s¬†candles for the year were¬†blessed.

This time marks the midpoint of winter between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It signals the return of the light of the sun and the days getting longer again.

Romans celebrated the Candelarum festival in honor of Persephone, who was kidnapped by Hades, and searched by her mother Demeter, bearing a torch. The return of Persephone from the underworld, signaled the return of the light and the end of the winter season. Romans lit candles and torches to drive out evil.

February, from Latin februum, meaning “purgation”, “purging”

The Roman¬†Februalia was a festival of¬†purification and purging, which later merged with the Lupercalia. The Latin term febris, meaning “fever”, might be related. (see)

In Jewish tradition the mother of a boy¬†was considered impure for the 40 days following its birth (and for 60 days following¬†¬†the birth of a girl) and was not allowed to enter the temple. At the end of this period the mother¬†underwent a¬†purification¬†ritual. This custom¬†was incorporated into the Christian Catholic festival of Candlemas,¬†also known as the “presentation of Christ in the Temple in Jerusalem” and the “purification of the blessed virgin Mary”.

Hellborus orientalis

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won’t come again.

There is still time until the vernal equinox and the winter may still be long and cold, especially if this day is clear and sunny. A rainy and
cloudy Candlemas on the other hand means the worst of winter is over. The animals, such as bears and bumble bees, come out of hibernation for the first time. Snowdrops begin to flower, Christmas roses are in full bloom and the winter seeds begin to grow.

Now start sowing indoors those seeds that require warmth and light. The seed trays are kept on the window bench until April or until the last frosts are over. Then the young plants will be ready to be planted outdoors.

Traditional offerings: beeswax candles, Chandeleurs = pancakes (also kown as crêpes)

Animals: bear

Places: wells

Plants: snowdrops, early flowering plants

Deities: Brigid, Persephone, Father Martin (Romanian)

Rituals: cleansing and purification rituals, divination

Superstitions: If someone brings snowdrops into the house on Candlemas day it symbolizes a parting or death. Any decoration left from Christmas, such as holly twigs, should be taken down completely by Candlemas, else there would be a death among the community before the year was out.

Another tradition holds that anyone who hears funeral bells tolling on Candlemas will soon hear of the death of a close friend or relative; each toll of the bell represents a day that will pass before the unfortunate news is learned.

Sailors would not set sail on Candlemas Day, believing that any voyage begun then will end in disaster.

Winter Sun
Return of the Sun

Btw. we had a very rainy and cloudy 1st day of February¬†and tomorrow looks no different… ūüėČ

Sources:

Candlemas + Februalia + British Culture + Folklore Calendar + BBC religions + Father Martin +

Helleborus orientalis purchased from http://www.plantacasa.de/

Plant Riddle #3

Only few days left until the Winter Solstice, I am excited to share my next plant riddle with you. This time the herb I‚Äôm looking for is not a poisonous one ‚Äď quite the contrast! It is a classic healing herb, which belongs in any herbal apothecary. A giant in the garden, its name relative is associated with an adversarial hero, who helped man and offended the gods.

The riddle is again accompanied by a new illustration I did earlier in autumn and which may help or confuse…

riddle-no3

Which is the plant in question?

Regina Bombina

Regina Bombina

My contribution to the mystery and folklore surrounding the bumblebee. This sigil is inspired by my garden work and continues my line of magical images dedicated to the otherworldly emanations that cross between plant, animal and human realm.

Watch this awesome documentary about bumblebees: www.3sat.de/mediathek/?mode=pl…

Did you know? Bumblebees collect up to 5 times as much pollen and nectar daily as honey bees. In the animal realm they are the fastest at recognizing colors. No other insect cares as devotedly for their offspring as bumblebees.