Stay At Home Herbalism: Dandelions

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Collecting some early dandelion heads to enjoy their beautiful yellow color.

Since so many of us are staying in our homes right now, I thought I might turn some of our focus to magic that can be found right near by. Chances are, if you have any yard at all, at this time of year, you have dandelions! Hated by some as weeds, popping up their cheerful yellow blossoms as a sign of Spring, and loved by kids blowing or kicking at the seed heads, there is tons of folklore around these common plants.

Dandelions are a remarkably resilient and adaptable plant, a quality we could all embrace. The bright yellow flowers are also associated with solar energy and vitality. As they appear in Spring, they are a great symbol for beginnings and creative energy. They are reminders of joy and whimsy.

Here’s a little fun folklore for you: the tallest dandelion flower a child found in the Spring was supposed to show how much taller they would grow that year! Or, hold the golden flower under a child’s chin: a golden glow indicates how rich they will someday be.

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Some see a weed – I see my childhood wishes!

Most magic and folklore surrounding dandelions is focused on their wonderful puff ball seed heads. For example:

  • The simple childhood game: blow on the seeds and make a wish!
  • Count the remaining seeds after you blow on them. The number left is how many more years you will live.
  • To tell the time, blow on the seeds three times. The number left is the hour.
  • To send a message to someone you love, picture your message while you blow the seeds in their direction.
  • When you blow on seeds to make a wish, and left behind means good luck.

Dandelion roots have been used in teas to promote psychic abilities. Dandelion leaves make a good addition to a Beltane meal. You can also make dandelion wine. In fact, there are lots of ways to eat dandelion! I haven’t tried any myself, but I would love to hear your experiences with dandelion recipes.

Know any more fun dandelion folklore or good recipes? Let us know in the comments!

Sources: The Hearth Witch’s Compendium by Anna Franklin, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham.

Dandelion is one of the herbs available in our downloadable herbal magic pages!

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15 Magical Uses of Apples

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Recently, I have undertaken a fun and fascinating creative research project: compiling magical uses behind 30 plants to make informative prints to carry in our store. I have intentionally not been getting into the medicinal uses – I believe that anyone who wants to get into herbal medicine should really take the time to research that themselves. But the uses in folklore and myth are wonderfully rich! And fascinatingly, these magical uses often have links to the medical ones.

So, let’s start this series with the delightful, delicious, easy to find, apple! Without further ado, 15 Magical Uses of Apples

  1. Use apples and apple blossoms in love spells and love sachets.
  2. Split an apple with your love and eat it together to ensure a long and happy relationship.
  3. Throw the peel over your shoulder – the shape it falls in will hint at the name of your future love.
  4. Infuse pink wax with apple blossoms. Strain the wax, then make a candle from it to symbolize eternal love.
  5. Hold an apple in your hand until it gets warm, then give it to one you love. If they eat it your love will be returned.
  6. Here’s a simple women’s love divination using apples: Cut an apple in two and count the number of seeds. An even number means a marriage will soon happen. Odd, and she’ll remain single for now. If one seed is cut, there will be a stormy relationship. Two cuts seeds and widowhood is foretold.
  7. Eat an apple on Samhain night while looking in a mirror to see the face your love revealed.
  8. Peel an apple to divine the length of your life. The longer the continuous peel, the longer your life.
  9. Apples are considered a food of the dead and linked with immortality and the afterlife. Include them on your altar at Samhain or to recognize your ancestors.
  10. Use the wood from the apple tree for longevity charms.
  11. Pour apple cider on the ground before you plant to give life.
  12. If you grow apples, bury thirteen leaves from the apple tree at harvest time to encourage a good crop the following year.
  13. To not contract a fever, eat an apple. (An apple a day keeps the doctor away folks?)
  14. Have an old spell that calls for blood? Use apple cider instead!
  15. Make a wand from apple wood for love and fertility magic.

The first ten of my herb prints, which includes Apple, is now available in my Etsy store for digital download.

Want to do some of your own research in magical herbalism? I highly recommend this book to start!

15 Magical Uses for Apples

Endangered? More About White Sage and Palo Santo

It’s been going around a lot lately: two of the most commonly preferred plants for smudging, white sage and palo santo, have been declared endangered. As I keep hearing different versions of this, I know I can’t be the only one… well, confused. So I’ve done some digging for all of us, and hope this can help everyone cleanse their spaces, clear negative energies, and invite good vibes in peace!

Is White Sage Endangered?

First, the really simplified part: no, white sage is not listed as endangered. What it definitely is, though, is over harvested.

There is strong evidence of individuals harvesting white sage from protected lands and private lands. The craze for white sage over the last few years has drastically increased demand. Any time that happens, there are going to be people who take advantage of it, and in these case in both illegal ways and ways that are dangerous to the wild population of the plant.

How About Palo Santo?

A slightly more complicated answer for this one: Yes, but…

First of all, Palo Santo, or “Holy Wood,” is a name given to more than one species of plant. One of these species, Bulnesia Sarmientoi is endangered. The most commonly found variant of Palo Santo found in stores, with its golden yellow wood color, is Bursera Graveolens.

That said, it too could be threatened if wild harvesting at a significant rate is allowed. Traditional practices only cut the dead wood, which is much better for sustainability.

What about cultural appropriation?

That is a much bigger can of worms, and I will gladly go into it in a future blog posts. Pagans have a history of picking and choosing sacred practices from a lot of cultures, and I can’t decide for you how to feel about that.

What can I do if I want to keep burning these?

A couple of simple suggestions:

  • A lot of the white sage and palo santo on the market are farmed. This is good for continuing the species! Look for where your herbs are coming from.
  • Do not purchase white sage or palo santo that advertises it is “wild crafted.” This is harvesting the plants from their natural environments, which are what we want to preserve.
  • Double check what species you are buying. If you don’t know, don’t buy it.
  • Burn your white sage or palo santo sparingly. A little bit goes a long way.

What can I do instead of burning these?

First option, there are a lot of other plants you can burn instead:

  • Blue sage and desert sage also come in smudge bundles, and are not currently threatened.
  • Lavender, rosemary, and several other plants make good smudge bundles.
  • Frankincense and myrrh are related to Palo Santo, and also not threatened.

Or, there are options other than burning herbs for cleansing spaces. Take a look at our past blog post about cleansing methods for some other ideas.

What is Crooked Treehouse doing?

We already have a fair amount of white sage and palo santo in stock. When we next order, we will be taking a closer look at our suppliers. I will say we live far from where these are grown, so we can’t go to a farm and check for ourselves, but we will do our best to support sustainable harvest practices.

We also have many other sage options in stock, and all clearly labeled. So how about trying out some blue sage instead?

More about White Sage & Palo Santo

Herbal Magic: Mistletoe

MistletoeIn honor of the season, the first herb I’ve decided to highlight is mistletoe! If there is anything you want to add on magic, medicine, or folklore associated with this herb, please do so in the comments.

Mistletoe

Scientific Name: Viscum album European Mistletoe. Note: American Mistletoe is poisonous!

Description: An evergreen, parasitic plant, found in the branches of deciduous trees in Europe.

Gender: Masculine

Planet: Sun and Jupiter

Element: Air

Deities: Apollo, Freya, Frigga, Venus, Odin, Balder, Cerridwen

Magical Associations: Protection, Love, Hunting, Fertility, Health, Exorcism, Yule, Midsummer.

Magical and Folk Uses:

We’ve just about all heard or seen the tradition of hanging mistletoe around Christmas. This tradition may date back to the Roman holiday of Saturnalia. In the more recent history that brings us to our Christmas tradition, kissing under the mistletoe was supposed to grant lasting love. For each kiss, one of the berries was supposed to be removed. When no more berries were left, the kissing magic was done.

Here are some additional uses:

Carry or place the leaves and berries for protection from lightning, disease, and general misfortune. Also can be carried for good luck in hunting.

Wearing a ring carved of mistletoe will ward off sickness.

Laid near the bedroom door, mistletoe grants restful sleep.

Mistletoe burned banishes evil.

Medical Uses:

Mistletoe raises and then lowers blood pressure below the initial level. It has been used to help the heart and circulatory system.

It is toxic and should be used with care, preferably under medical supervision. There are multiple types of mistletoe, so be sure to check the scientific names before use!