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Notes from the Apothecary

July 1st, 2017

Notes from the Apothecary: Yarrow

 

 

 

One of my favourite wild plants, yarrow is found right across North America, Europe and even as far east as China. The feathery leaves give way to clusters of beautiful, tiny flowers that are loved by bees and other pollinators. Most commonly they are cream or white, but there are many coloured varieties too, including some incredible bright red species that are currently adorning my local park.

The plant’s formal name is achillea millefolium. The first part refers to the association with Achilles, who was taught by the centaur Chiron to use the herb to staunch the bleeding of his soldiers. The second part refers to the thousands of tiny leaves which make up each soft, green arm of the plant.

The Kitchen Garden

Eat The Weeds tells us that the leaves can be enjoyed in salads, cooked as a vegetable and added to soups and stews. A tea made from leaves or flowers of yarrow is refreshing and has a unique, pleasant fragrance, as well as having some medicinal benefits which we will look at later. Apparently, the plant can also be used in beer brewing, which is something I would love to experiment with! Here is a recipe for a beer which includes yarrow, however be cautious with any recipes you find online. For example, with this particular one, I would leave out the wormwood, as wormwood can cause convulsions and kidney failure. Be cautious with the ground ivy mentioned too, as it contains an oil which is an abortifacient. It’s important to know about your herbs (and who you might be giving them to!) before you start cooking and brewing with them.

The Apothecary

The first century botanist, Pedanius Dioscorides, described yarrow in his Materia Medica as being “excellent for an excessive discharge of blood, old and new ulcers, and for fistulas [ulcers].” This connection with staunching blood is repeated in many tomes, and throughout mythology and folklore. Culpeper concurs that it is ‘an healing herb for wounds’ but also states it can cause a nosebleed if taken like snuff… as most things can!

 

 

There is much more detailed information in the reliable Mrs Grieve’s Modern herbal, which tells us first and foremost some of the astonishing common names for achillea: Old Man’s Pepper, Nose Bleed, Bad Man’s Plaything, Sanguinary and Devil’s Nettle, to name but a few. Mrs Grieve tells us that the whole plant may be used, but other sources say only the parts above ground.

Grieve covers other attributes including the herb being a diaphoretic, astringent, tonic, stimulant and mild aromatic. She notes that the tea of the plant is good for colds and fevers, and a decoction of the whole plant may be helpful with bleeding piles. The plant is even indicated for reducing baldness!

The plant is also widely used in Native American medicine. The Zuni chew the flowers and roots, and apply the juice prior to fire-walking, presumably to reduce or prevent burns. The Navajo people use yarrow for toothache and earache, while the Cherokee use it to aid sleep.

The Lab

A 2014 study indicated that achillea may be effective at delaying the onset and severity of auto-immune diseases. However, this was only indicated in mice, and no human testing has been completed as far as I am aware.

The Witch’s Kitchen

 

 

The Chinese form of divination, I Ching, is often thought of as a toss of three coins, but traditionally the hexagrams were (and still are) formed by tossing yarrow stalks. The practitioner would ideally pick their own yarrow, close to their home or a place special to them, as this makes the ch’i of the plant more in tune with the practitioner. Even if you don’t feel that Eastern philosophies particularly align with your path, it’s useful to note the association with divination and prophecy.

The association with divination is noted in older herbals, such as the aforementioned Mrs Grieve’s, and she also notes an association with ‘The Devil’ which, with more enlightened minds, we can translate as an association with the supernatural and the magical.

These two spells appear in her herbal:

“…there is a curious mode of divination with its serrated leaf, with which the inside of the nose is tickled while the following lines are spoken. If the operation causes the nose to bleed, it is a certain omen of success:

‘Yarroway, Yarroway, bear a white blow,

If my love love me, my nose will bleed now.’

An ounce of Yarrow sewed up in flannel and placed under the pillow before going to bed, having repeated the following words, brought a vision of the future husband or wife:

‘Thou pretty herb of Venus’ tree,

Thy true name it is Yarrow;

Now who my bosom friend must be,

Pray tell thou me to-morrow.’

—(Halliwell’s Popular Rhymes)”

A piece of Scottish folklore holds that pressing the leaves to your eyes would give you second sight, yet another indication of the plant’s prophetic powers.

In some parts of Ireland, yarrow is thought to be protective against the fair folk, however in other parts the plant is said to be loved by them. I guess it’s worth remembering that all the fae are different with their own likes and dislikes! I always loved Terry Pratchett’s image of the elves riding yarrow stalks like broomsticks. Like the elf, the plant is delicate looking and beautiful, yet actually very strong and full of mysterious power.

Home and Hearth

Strew yarrow stalks or flowers around the threshold of your home or sacred place for protection. Sweep the surfaces of your altar with yarrow leaves to ritually cleanse and imbue your space with magic. Place yarrow at the eastern corner of your altar or sacred space to represent the element of air, through its aroma and pale colour. Fragrant plants such as yarrow can even replace incense if you like.

Place a sprig of yarrow blossom under your pillow before sleep, and write down any dreams you have. You may be surprised how many of them are related to events which occur over the coming days!

I Never Knew…

The Anglo-Saxons made amulets out of yarrow to protect against, amongst other things, robbers and dogs.

All images via Wikimedia Commons.

 

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Mabh Savage is a Pagan author and musician, as well as a freelance journalist. She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. Follow Mabh on Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

 

Notes from the Apothecary: Narcissi

 

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Most of us will be familiar with narcissi in the form of the daffodil; spring’s signpost. Those yellow heads, nodding towards the returning sun, have provided seasonal inspiration for centuries. Wordsworth, in 1802, was moved to write:

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

Which perfectly describes (as does the rest of the poem) the way in which daffodils are able to blanket an otherwise green or brown area, almost as if they are colouring in the season.

Narcissi is the plural of narcissus, the Latin name for these golden trumpets. The name may come from a Greek term for being intoxicated (hence the term narcotic) or may be linked to the Greek hunter of the same name, who fell in love with his own reflection and gave us the term narcissism. Pliny the Elder believed it was the former, and it is possible the Narcissus of Greek legend was named for the flower, and not the other way around.

The Kitchen Garden

One of the problems with bulbs is that they all tend to look pretty similar, and it’s not unheard of for people to go out looking for wild garlic, and come back with some bulbs that may look similar, but which could be narcissi, bluebells or snowdrops. The danger here, as you will learn below, is that most bulbs are quite nasty to the mammalian system, and can even cause death, so please, please don’t eat them unless you are 100% sure, and definitely don’t ever eat daffodils.

In the kitchen, a bunch of daffodils on the counter or kitchen table will brighten up the room, and bring a sense of welcome and peace to the area. As they age, their odour becomes stronger, and speaks of warm, spring days and the promise of summer to come.

Yellow represents happiness, a carefree aspect and vitality, so golden daffodils will bring those feelings into your home. White or orange daffodils will bring peace and kindness, respectively.

The Apothecary

It’s pretty key to understand that narcissi and many other spring bulbs are actually quite poisonous. Having said that, it’s very interesting to note that this aspect was actually used as a medicinal property in times gone by, and they were classed as a ‘purgative’; a chemical which makes one empty the bowels rapidly. Basically, by giving someone a very, very upset stomach, you were hoping that they would pass whatever else it was that ailed them at the same time.

Culpeper also noted that they could cause vomiting, and that this could be effective in soothing ‘tertian ague’; a kind of malaria which he advised occurred more in springtime, coinciding with the arrival of the helpful flowers.

The Witch’s Kitchen

Cunningham, in his popular Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs (Llewellyn, 1985), tells us that the daffodil is a feminine plant, associated with the planet Venus and the element of water. Using this information, you could place the flowers or bulbs at the western point of your altar or sacred space, or you could incorporate them into astrological workings where Venus was prominent.

If one transmutes the planet Venus into the Goddess Venus, then we have a flower that is connected to love and fertility, which are both facets of this plant, again, according to Cunningham. One can expand further upon this and see an implied association with Aphrodite, which allows the encompassing of the Greek pantheon as well as the Roman. Daffodils could be used as altar decorations when worshipping either of these goddesses, or honouring their feast days. Venus was particularly honoured during April, and there should still be plenty of daffodils available during this time.

Adonia is a festival that celebrates Aphrodite and Adonis, and is celebrated on the first full moon after the Spring (Vernal) Equinox. In 2017 this will be April the 11th (in the Northern Hemisphere) as the Vernal Equinox falls around the 20th March, depending exactly where in the world you are. Daffodils would be ideal to add to the flowers for these festivals, although roses should also be present where possible.

Culpeper disagrees with Cunningham, and finds that yellow daffodils are ruled by Mars. This puts them firmly in the hot, fiery camp, and makes them useful for sanctifying the quarter of south, and honouring the sun. This makes sense, when you think of how firmly these flowers are part of our springtime; nodding the sun gently back into place after the cold, dark winter.

Personally, I like to place my daffodils at east on my altar, and in a central point in my kitchen. They speak to me of Brigid, in the same way that snowdrops do; new beginnings, hard work and courage. They speak of the rising sun, and the pale to golden yellow of spring mornings.

Home and Hearth

 

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As we move more firmly into spring, check out your local supermarket/grocery store for offers on bunches of daffodils. I don’t condone picking them from wild spaces, but they are widely cultivated and these flowers are ideal to take home to bring a bit of spring colour into your life.

If you grow them yourself, of course you can pick as many as you like, but I would recommend leaving some to flower and die in the spot they were planted, as they will please your local spirits and also the bees and other insects that are starting to return.

Have a look and see if you can find any of the more unusual plants. You can find two headed daffodils, white ones, orange ones, white petals with a golden trumpet and vice versa. If you are a practitioner of colour magic, you can utilise these different kinds of narcissi in many different ways due to the sheer diversity in shade.

I Never Knew…

Socrates called narcissi The Chaplet of the Infernal Gods due to the level of toxicity the plant produces.

Image credits: Narcissus calcicola, Olaf Leillinger, 2006, via Wikimedia and Narcissus tazetta var. chinensis, KENPEI, 2007, via Wikimedia.

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author and musician, as well as a freelance journalist. See is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. Follow Mabh on Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

Notes from the Apothecary: Apple
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The apple is a fruit that is either revered or maligned, depending on which tradition or religion you look at. For Christians, it is the forbidden fruit, the ultimate temptation in the Garden of Eden. Strangely, the bible itself never names the type of fruit as an apple, and some studies suggest it may actually have been a fig, a pomegranate or even a grape. Despite this, the image of the apple as a fruit of seduction and forbidden knowledge has persisted into the modern age. For the Celts, however, there was nothing sinful about the apple at all. The fruit was associated with the afterlife, yet also with immortality and health. It was also closely associated with the faerie realm, and those who ate an apple whilst in the world of the good neighbours, would never again be able to return.

The Kitchen Garden

There is so much you can do with apples one hardly knows where to begin. For me, it’s my ‘go to’ fruit for jams and jellies. As well as making a fantastic preserve all by itself, it can be added to other fruits low in pectin (the setting agent for jelly and jam) to ease the preserving process. I’ve mixed apple with blackberry, blackcurrants, rowanberries, elderberries and even citrus fruit, all with good results.

As well as preserves, apples make fantastic crumbles, pies and cakes. One of my favourite apple cake recipes can be found here, and is an absolute doddle to make. I use eating apples rather than cooking apples, but experiment and find out what works for you.

 

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One of my favourite uses of apples is something I’ve not yet experimented with, and that’s the craft of making cider, or cyder. There is a difference, other than archaic spelling! Cyder is traditionally made from apples that have only been pressed once, rather in the same way that extra virgin olive oil is produced. Cider is made from a repressing of the same apple pulp, mixing it with water. This makes a longer and lighter drink. I’ve always fancied making my own apple press, although I have a friend who uses a hand blender on chopped apples, with some fantastic results! There’s a guide to making your own cider press here at Mother Earth News. If anyone does this or has done this please let me know how it turns out!

The Apothecary

Surely everyone has heard the aphorism, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ The original saying stems from 1866 and was originally, ‘Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.’ Pithy though these little rhymes are, the apple certainly has many qualities that recommend it as a health food, if not actually a cure-all.

The pectin mentioned previously is a type of soluble fibre, and we need fibre for a healthy diet. There is some evidence that pectin can also lower blood pressure and glucose levels. Apples also contain nutrients that promote healthy bones and brain, and they also contain vitamin C which boosts the immune system and keeps cells healthy.

So while apples won’t necessarily keep all ills at bay, they will certainly contribute to good all round health.

The Witch’s Kitchen

The apple appears throughout various myths from many different backgrounds. We briefly mentioned the Celtic links between apples and immortality. In Norse legend, the apple was given to the gods to provide them with eternal youth. Apples also appear associated with fertility, including the gift of an apple being given to one praying for a child. Apples are also associated with the goddess Hel, and possibly her realm of the same name, the ninth of the nine worlds on the world tree, Yggdrasil. Hel is a realm of the dead, so here we have apples associated with fertility and birth, long life, and death and the afterlife. They are a fruit of cycles, circles and representative of all aspects of being. They are of this world and of magical realms, and represent the link between this world and others.

The apple is also a symbol of poetic inspiration. A branch of apple can symbolise a Bardic or Ovate path. If seeking inspiration yourself, a leaf or small twig from an apple tree in your sacred place may help, or place an apple leaf under your pillow and see what dreams may come.

There is an old superstition that if you can peel an apple in one go, without removing the knife until the peel has come off all in one piece, then toss it over your shoulder whilst looking in a mirror, it will fall in the shape of the initial of your loved one to be. The root of this is most likely an older association with prophecy and fortune telling.

 

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Apples are strongly associated with magic of all kinds, in fact they are a kind of catalyst. Any spell can be ‘offered’ to an apple tree. Charge items with intent, and hang them from the tree, trusting that the intrinsic magic of the tree will aid your spell. Water the tree, and if your spell is successful, plant an apple pip at some point in the future as thanks.

The apple is a wonderful offering to many gods and goddesses (always research first though!), and also to the good neighbours (fairies), along with butter and milk.

Home and Hearth

Towards the end of summer, or start of winter, make a Wassail Bowl. There is a druidic celebration known as ‘Day of the Apple’ after Samhain, and a Wassail Bowl is one interpretation of the brew that was made at this time to ensure a good apple harvest the following season. You don’t have to wait until Samhain though. As soon as you have good apples, you can roast them, and mix them with ale, cider, honey or sugar (honey is nicer) and spices such as cinnamon or ginger, to make a warming, hearty drink to share with family and friends.

Pass your brew around while you brag and boast; not merely an excuse for showing off, but a serious exercise in sharing your ambitions and achievements with your loved ones and your gods. Any commitments made at this time must be seen through, or a forfeit paid.

I Never Knew…

In Greek mythology, Atalanta, the virgin huntress, was tricked into losing a race by Hippomenes rolling three irresistible golden apples in front of her. She had to marry him, which just shows, keep your mind on the job and your head in the game!

 

(Image credits: Top: Red Delicious, copyright Bangin via Wikimedia; Next, De Klok jam apple and roses, copyright Queeste via Wikimedia; Final, Malus Sylvestris, copyright Per Arvid Åsen via Wikimedia.)

 

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Mabh Savage is a Pagan author and musician, as well as a freelance journalist. She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. Follow Mabh on Twitter, Facebook and her blog.

Merry Meet and welcome to this months notes.. I apologize that chaos has ensued and I was unable to get my column in on time last month… and Loki is still hounding me.. but I am working around that.

I want to talk to you all this month about the seasons. Renewal and death.. as that is the season we are in now. It has just passed Ostara in the Northern Hemi and Mabon in the Southern Hemi, Beltane is fast approaching in the Northern hemi with Samhain coming on for the Southern hemi.

While we Northerners are preparing to plant and be fertile, We Southerners are settling in to the death of the year; the time when things get ready to rest for the coming season. But in reality it is just different stages of growth. For there always needs to be a time of rest . when you gather your strength for the great push towards fertility.

At this point many of us are doing the same things, raking the gardens, preparing them for the coming seasons, tending the plants, either new sprouts being hand tended in our homes or the aging almost finished plants of the end of the season. We are also tending our lives as well. Cleaning up our past issues, shaking things out and seeing what needs mending and care. Looking for what we can cut and get rid of as well as what we may need to plan on planting there for later.

Here are some herbs to assist in the “clean up” either to prepare to plant them (fresh herbs are better) or drying and saving for the year.
Agrimony
Protection, banishes negative energy, sleep
Benzoin resin
Prosperity, astral projection, purification.
Blessed Thistle
Purification, hex-breaking, protection from evil- removes unwanted influences, particularly of malevolent intent. Strew to cleanse buildings or rooms, beneficial in healing spell

Burdock

Rinse with a root decoction for ridding oneself of a gloomy feeling about yourself or others.
Cedar
Home purification, good fortune, luck.
Clove
Banishing, love.
Copal resin
Purification, cleansing.
Dandelion Leaf
Divining,Used in Samhain rituals. Sleep, protection, healing. A very nutritious and universally beneficial herb.
Dried Fig
Fertility, love spells- excellent ingredient in spell bags. Divining. Sacred to Dionysus, Juno and many others. Recommended for a Beltane altar. If placed on the doorstep before leaving it will ensure you will arrive home safely.
Hyssop
An excellent purifying herb. Use in purification baths and spells. Associated with serpents and dragons, and can be burned as an incense to call on dragon energy. Aids in physical and spiritual protection.
Rosemary
Cleansing, purification, exorcism

Sage
Purifying, use as incense during sacred rituals-walk the smoke to the four corners of the room to repel and rid negative energies and influences. Especially good when moving into a new home.
Scotch Broom Leaf
A Druid sacred tree. Use in purification and protection spells and scatter to exorcise evil spirits. Burn to calm the wind. The branches are used to make traditional besoms. Its smoke is a sedative. Use in moderation, can be toxic.

St. John’s Wort
Health, protection, strength, love divination, happiness, exorcism. A Druid sacred herb. Use in protection and exorcism spells and incenses of all kinds. Carry to strengthen your courage and conviction. Burn to banish negative thoughts and energies.
Valerian Root
Use for dream magick and sleep protection baths. Keep in the home or grow in the garden to aid in keeping harmony. May be used to purify a ritual space. Useful in consecrating incense burners.
Yarrow Flower
Use to dispell melancholy, negative energy, lingering sorrow, or depression. Carried as a sachet or amulet it repels or rids of negative influences. Aids in divination. Good remedy for colds. Opens the pores and purifies the blood. Said to prevent baldness as a hair wash.
These are just to name a few. I am sure that you all have some wonderful herbs I may have missed or even never thought to use.
I have used some of these in Rituals, ritual baths,sprays to disperse quickly and evenly around the house, mop water and just dotted around the room if I felt it just needed a boost. You can make sachets to place under cushions and pillows, to place in your dresser drawers, even to carry in your purse or pocket.  I will end this for now as I do not want to run on and on and on. As is my way..LOL

Until next time

Blessed Home and Hearth

The Hearthkeeper

Cinnamon
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum, C. verum) also known as Sweet Wood and Ceylon cinnamon.   Its origin is Sri Lanka.   Cinnamon is pretty common in foods these days such as cinnamon rolls and cinnamon tea.  It is a bark that is ground into powder form that can be added to food and burned as incense.

In ancient times, Cinnamon was used as a religious herb, created to purify temples.   It also helped with mummification to create a sweet smell.  Throughout history, its leaves have been used in medicine.
Cinnamon can be used and substituted for Sun Magickal work such as healing, illumination, magickal power, physical energy, protection, success, and putting an end to legal matters.  Cinnamon is very powerful in Satchels and Amulets.   Mix cinnamon with frankincense, myrrh and sandalwood for a strong protection incense.   Use it to draw love to you by dressing a red candle or add it to a red mojo bag.  You can also use it for money drawing by burning it on a charcoal and casting a spell on a bill you want paid.
Cinnamon can be help as an astringent, carminative and stomachic.  It helps with flatulence, internal hemorrhaging, as a stimulant and with vomiting.  It is known to help with stomach and digestion issues.  Many times a tea is made to help with digestion issues by putting a teaspoon of Cinnamon into boiling water and drink as a tea.  (However, you may find the tea to be very strong so you may want to use less based on what you prefer for taste.)
Remember, this is not a substitution for medical advice so always check with a medical professional to make sure working with herbs are safe for you.
Keywords for Cinnamon


Magickal Uses/Spells:  Love/sex magick, health, fertility, lust, passion, protection, prosperity/money, deep healing, spirituality, scrying, power, strength and success.
Deities:  Venus, Aphrodite, Apollo
Planet:  Sun, Uranus
Gender:  Masculine

Element:  Fire
Tarot Correspondence:  The Lovers, The Sun

Notes from the Apothecary: Snowdrop

 

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Imbolc is upon us, and I am now seeking snowdrops with every step. Snowdrops symbolise the first stirrings of spring very strongly to me, ever since I placed a closed flower on my altar and within minutes of my ritual it had fully opened; a tiny, star like wonder. Although they grow all over Britain and the US now, they weren’t classed as a ‘wild’ plant until the 18th century, as they were only introduced from Southern Europe in the 16th century. They have some delightful alternative names: February fair maids, Eve’s star, white bells, dew drops and even death’s flower, presumably a reference to the fact that snowdrops are poisonous. As well as causing physical harm when eaten, there are some superstitions that snowdrops are very unlucky, particularly if taken inside the house. There are some English anecdotes of people dying suddenly after someone brought snowdrops in to decorate the home, however I have never suffered any ill effects from using them on my Imbolc altar.

The Kitchen Garden

Snow drops are not edible at all, but they are extremely beautiful. If you decide to grow snowdrops, you can usually get the bulbs via mail order, or your local plant nursery. Please don’t dig up bulbs from the woods or from grass verges. The Latin name is galanthus, which you may need if ordering online. One fantastic thing about snowdrops is that they are perfectly happy in shade, so they can be used to fill a space in your garden where other plants would miss the sun. Plant your bulbs in the early fall, in loose soil and a bit of compost. Don’t leave your bulbs too long before planting or they can dry out. Mark the space where you plant them, as when the flowers die down, the ground may look bare again and you may accidentally dig them up!

 

 

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The Apothecary

A fifteenth century glossary classes the snowdrop as an emmenagogue, something which promotes menstruation. There are also hints that it may have been used as a digestive aid, however the effects of the toxin in the plant are actually harmful to the digestive tract.

John Gerard, the 16th and 17th century botanist, claimed that the snowdrop had no medicinal value, but Mrs Grieves disagreed, citing the above information which pre-dates Gerard’s findings.

Currently, there is some research being undertaken into the properties of galantamine and how it can be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, and galantamine is found in snowdrops as well as some other spring bulbs.

The Witch’s Kitchen

The snowdrop is a clear indicator that spring is on the way, and as such, carries all the symbolism that this implies. You can use snowdrops to symbolise east, the sunrise, new beginnings, air, winters end, and as an offering to Brigid or Persephone. If using on altars, please keep out of the reach of children and animals as they are toxic.

As well as the physical associations with winter’s end, you can take a more metaphysical approach and use the snowdrop as a symbol of something coming to an end that you have been struggling with. Seeing snowdrops in a visualisation or meditation may mean that something in your life is about to change, or that a goal you thought was out of reach may be coming close; look out for opportunities and grasp them when they occur.

Snowdrops represent hope, light and determination. They are so small and delicate, yet they are the first living things to break through the hard, frozen ground. They are the epitome of hidden strength.

Home and Hearth

If you are troubled by the superstition that bringing snowdrops into the house is bad luck, try drawing or painting some to go in your sacred space instead. You don’t need to be Monet; a streak of green with pendulous white dripping from the tip will do. Experiment and find something that says ‘snowdrop’ to you, and makes you think of the little spears of hope reaching for the sun.

Use your image as a focus for meditation, visualise yourself walking among snowdrops, or finding a sudden patch of them whilst on a woodland ramble. Record how you feel, what else is around you; and sounds or smells that may pop up. Is there a familiar presence? Something you have felt when honouring a particular deity, or perhaps a sense of nostalgia that triggers a childhood memory?

Write down your findings, see how they fit in with your current life situation, and use this time to record your hopes for the coming year.

I Never Knew…

In Essex, as recently as the 1950s, snowdrops were known as Candlemas bells, further cementing the association with the start of February, and therefore with Imbolc.

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Mabh Savage is the author of Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft. She is also a freelance journalist, musician, poet and mother of one small boy and two small cats. Find out more at https://soundsoftime.wordpress.com

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