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Musings From the Mossy Trail

Yarrow: For Health, Love and Wisdom

To bring to me my true loves’ name

To heal my wounds and ease my pain

For courage and protection spells

Divining rights at ancient wells

For all this favor I beseech,

Tis’ yarrow’s powers that I seek

 

Yarrow, a perennial herb, has lovely fernlike foliage containing soft wisps of hair- type follicles. It flowers from mid-summer to autumn, displaying clusters of white, yellow, lilac or deep burgundy petals resembling tiny daisies.

A prolific plant, yarrow has the ability to spread underground shoots as well as seed itself, often leaving some gardeners to consider it a weed. If one is willing to spend a little time controlling its spread, when planted in conjunction with other herbs, yarrow actually increases the essential oil content of those herbs, while enhancing their growth and health in general.

 

History –

Having discovered fossils of yarrow pollen along with other herbs in Neanderthal burial caves, Archeologists have linked yarrow with the human race some 60,000 years ago. From ancient Roman wars to the American Civil war, yarrow is documented as having been used in healing wounds and preventing inflammation.  In first century A.D, the Greek Physician Dioscorides smeared yarrow on ulcers to prevent inflammation.  Herbalist John Gerard (1545 – 1611), recommended it for “swelling of those secret parts”, and Nicholas Culpeper, a 17th century British herbalist, used it for healing wounds, inflammation and bleeding. Yarrow was prescribed often enough to be included in the US Pharmacopoeia from 1836 – 1882, and was still in the Pharmacopoeias of Austria, Hungary, Poland and Switzerland in 1982.

 

Harvest and Uses –

It is best to harvest yarrow early in the day after the dew has dried. Gather stems when flower heads have just opened and are in full bloom and then hang upside down to dry. Once dried, the flower heads can be added to sachets for love, courage, communication and psychic ability among many other things.

 

  1. Medical

 

  • Yarrow tea is excellent to treat a cold and cleanse the urinary system. It can be made by using one ounce of dried leaves to one pint of boiling water

 

  • It is also said that drinking yarrow tea can remedy the blues and restlessness, especially during menopause

 

  • Fresh leaves can be chewed to relieve toothaches.
  • In India, yarrow was put into medicated steam baths for fever; and the Chippewa used it very similarly for headache
  1. Cosmetics
  • Yarrow is wonderful when used for cleansing and as an astringent. Use 1 cup dried flower heads to two cups boiling water. Let steep 10 minutes covered. Pat onto the skin with a clean cloth.

 

  1. Divination

 

  • The ancient forecasting of the Chinese I Ching was originally performed using yarrow stems

 

  • Yarrow tea (see recipe above) can also be drunk prior to divination, and to help the mind focus on a specific issue or to avoid distractions

 

  • Rubbing your eyelids with yarrow is said to enhance your psychic abilities

 

  • Yarrow can be used in incense or oil to cleanse the aura and for divination, as it is very useful for psychic communication

 

  1. Magical Lore
  • Placed under a doormat, yarrow can deter unwanted callers
  • When strewn across a threshold, it will keep out evil and protect against hexes
  • Hang a bunch of yarrow over the bed on the wedding night to ensure lasting love for seven years.  Adding it to the bouquet or garlands worn by the bride or groom has the same effect.
  • Saxons packed yarrow into their amulets for protection against all manner of ills

 

  • Yarrow has long been associated with witches, hence sometimes called Devil’s Nettle, Devil’s plaything and bad man’s plaything

 

  • When sewn up into pillows, it will give the dreamer a vision of their true love

 

  • Make leaves into a smudge stick to cleanse negativity from your home

 

  1. Spells

 

  • Wish Spell – The very first blooming yarrow you see is magical. Hold the bloom in one hand and make a wish. That night sleep with the plant beneath your pillow.

 

  • Fertility Spell – Basil boughs over the bed are a Middle Eastern recommendation to promote fertility. European magical tradition suggests hanging boughs of fresh yarrow over the bed to enhance romance, sex and conception. Hedge your bets by weaving garlands of both basil and yarrow, and hang them over your bed. A really super charged version adds mistletoe and mugwort too

 

  • Happy Home Spell – Decorate your home with boughs of fresh yarrow to banish sadness and negativity

 

  • Infants Protection Spell – Tie yarrow to the baby crib to protect from fairies, malevolent magic and negative spirits

 

  • Bridal Bouquet Spell – Incorporate yarrow into a bridal bouquet for 7 years of happiness

 

  • Courage spell – Hold yarrow stalk in both hands and focus on your goals and desires to magically stimulate courage and relieve fear

 

May the gifts of yarrow serve you well in your Summer Solstice celebrations and beyond. Happy Summer!