Notes from the Apothecary

January 1st, 2016

Notes from the Apothecary: Chives




I love chives. They are so easy to grow in the kitchen garden, and the glorious purple globes are somehow magically supported by the slender, green stems that we love to eat. Chives grow all over North America, Europe, Asia and Australia and are easily cultivated. They are the only member of the onion family that spans the globe east to west. Like most flowers that have colours approaching the ultra-violet end of the light spectrum, they attract a huge array of butterflies. They also attract bees, so even if you never pick a single chive stem, you are helping the environment by growing chives.

The Kitchen Garden

Chives are immediately useful to any gardener as they repel certain annoying pests. Plant them around your carrots, as they are known to repel the dreaded carrot fly as well as damaging aphids.

Chives are closely related to onions, and have a flavour that is similar yet understated; much more subtle. It is like an echo of a sweet onion, warm and gentle. They are wonderful simply torn and tossed into salads, or chopped finely and added to pasta, stir fries and even milder curries. I can often be found simply munching the things straight out of the garden. Seriously yummy.

I found an amazing tip at This Website, which is to finely chop chives, put them in ice cube trays then top up with olive oil or melted butter. Once frozen, they will keep for ages, and can be popped straight into a warm pan to start of a pasta sauce or similar. Nice! Thanks to Mystical Magical Herbs for the tip.

The Apothecary

Chives are basically a milder form of garlic when it comes to medicinal usage. This makes them very useful when treating someone who has a sensitivity to the strong oils in garlic, or a mild allergy. I would always recommend seeking advice from a professional though if this is the reason you are making the substitution.

Chives are very good for the circulation, and need only be consumed regularly in food to have a beneficial effect. They also have a mildly antiseptic quality, so potentially a chive tea would make a good mouthwash to help prevent the onset of a throat infection, for example. They have, in the past, been used to treat intestinal parasites, however this is not a proven remedy.

The Lab

Like many other herbs used as ‘alternative’ (I prefer the term complementary) medicine, chives have had numerous scientific studies done on them to see how effective they really are. Sadly, as far as I can see, all these studies have come back with the answer ‘further study required’; the phrase that tends to make funding go out of the window. However, there is preliminary evidence from China to suggest that chives and other aliums may be useful in the fight against prostate cancer.

The Witch’s Kitchen

Chives can be used as a substitute for onion in most circumstances. Let’s face it; sometimes chopping an onion for a spell is neither pleasant or practical. If you were to place a half onion in the corner of a room for spiritual cleansing, why not try a bunch of chives instead? With the right intent and follow up the green herb will be just as effective. Just remember to remove the stems when they are dry and withered, as they are of no use then.

I have read in a few places that chives are good for weight loss. Um, I have no idea where this comes from, other than the fact that supplementing anything not herby and green in your diet, with something that is, is obviously going to have positive health benefits. Chowing down on chives will not make you into a supermodel, I’m afraid. Plus I really can’t recommend using magic for weight loss. If you need to lose weight for health reasons, discuss this with your doctor. If you feel like you need to lose weight for self-image reasons, then maybe you need to re-examine your relationship with yourself as a whole, and find a way to love yourself. In most cases, if you are unhappy with yourself, changing the way you look on the outside rarely helps. If you are healthy and happy, then weight is just a number.

Chives, like their larger cousins, are also used for protection. A small bunch hung inside a door can prevent unwanted people or energy from passing your threshold.

Chives also represent balance, achieving the difficult or seemingly impossible, connecting with nature, home and hearth and the fluidity of time, in particular the way the past affects the future. They can therefore be used to enhance divination or fortune telling magic.

Home and Hearth

If you have ritual work to do and want to keep a space just for yourself and your chose visitors, hang bunches of chives at each quarter corner of the room. This will ward off unwanted energies and allow the space to me more attune with your intentions.

When creating a sacred space such as an altar for the first time, use 5 chive stems to make a pentagram in the centre of the space. Lay the chives slowly, thinking all the while of the protective nature of the plant, and the qualities of the point upwards pentagram; all the elements combined, with spirit in control. This is appropriate as this is your space, and you need to be the boss!

I Never Knew…

Chives made it into Roman poetry, with this little bit of wit from Marcus Valerius Martialis from around 100CE:

He who bears chives on his breath

Is safe from being kissed to death.

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