Notes from the Apothecary: Celery
Celery (Apium Graveolens) is an easily recognisable vegetable, available in most supermarkets or grocery stores. It’s a relative of carrots and parsley, part of the apiaceae family. It’s loved by dieters thanks to its high water content and low calorie content, plus it’s amazing for dipping into hummus or salsa. But is celery a medicinal or magical plant? Let’s take a look.
The Kitchen Garden
Celery can be grown from seed and in fact can be planted at this time of year (February-March-April) as long as it’s kept warm until frost has gone. It needs to be kept moist so is ideal for soil where the drainage is not so good. Always harvest before the first frost and look out for slugs and snails: they love celery.
If you buy celery from the store, you can cut the stems off to eat or cook with, then place the base is a shallow dish of water. If you’re lucky, the plant will start to regrow, giving you “cut and come again” shoots. Celery grows well with tomatoes, cabbages, spinach and beans.
Celery can be eaten raw, in salads, or roasted and made into soup. It’s also great chopped fine in pasta sauce, or sliced and added to stews.
Celery has been used as a medicine for hundreds of years, and was written about by Roman author Aulus Cornelius Celsus in AD 30, in a book called De Medicina. Some of the purported benefits of celery include:
- Lowering cholesterol
- Treating gout
- Helping with digestive issues
- Reducing flatulence
- Helps with UTIs (urinary tract infections)
- Help with menstrual issues
It’s absolutely vital that you don’t take celery as a medicine while you are pregnant. Avoid celery seeds, celery extract, or any supplements containing celery. Celery contains apiole which is a potential abortificant- a drug/herb which causes abortion or miscarriage. Always speak to a medical professional before adding any supplements or herbal medicine into your regime when pregnant.
The Witch’s Kitchen
Celery leaves were found in garlands in pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb. This could mean an association with the divine, death, or rebirth. It could also be a protective herb.
Celery seeds from at least the 7th century BC were found at the Heraion of Samon, a sanctuary to the goddess Hera. Celery is mentioned several times throughout literature about ancient Greece, including in the Iliad and the Odyssey. Celery appears to grow where significant events are taking place or are about to take place. Some Greek coins also had the celery leaf on them, showing how significant this plant was for them. In Greek legend, celery sprang from the blood of Kadmilos who was the father of the chthonic deities the Cabeiri. This, again, links celery to death and the underworld.
Celery was also given in garlands to the winners of sporting events and games.
In your own magic, you could sprinkle celery seeds around the boundary of your home for protection. You could use celery on an altar as an offering to Hera. You could also use it to represent your connection to your ancestors, or during visualisations to evoke images of the underworld or underworld based deities.
Other magical uses of celery and celery seeds by modern witches include:
- Improve mental powers
- Improve psychic powers
- Invoke lust
- Improve sleep
According to Scott Cunningham, witches would chew celery seeds to prevent them getting dizzy and falling off their brooms!
Home and Hearth
A spring ritual for fortitude. Next time you buy celery, cut off the top leaves- you should have several. Separate them so you have at least 8 separate leaves. You can split them in half, if necessary. Have a candle in a safe holder and a lighter to hand, or an LED candle is fine. Find a quiet spot. Cover a table with a cloth or place the cloth on the floor. You’re going to arrange your leaves in a circle on the cloth, but one at a time. Each time you place a leaf, say an affirmation. These are mine, starting at north, moving clockwise (deosil) with eight leaves.
I am steadfast, like the earth, grounded and true.
I am kind to myself, with each new dawn I give myself another chance to try again.
I embrace my inner child, I laugh with wonder at the wind in the trees.
I nourish myself with regular food, water, and spiritual inspiration.
I am creative, I am proud of the things I achieve and of letting go of that which does not serve me.
I am mindful, I watch my words yet speak up when it is important.
I love and am loved, the rocks in the river of life never change this.
I embrace the darkness, time to reflect and rest.
Once you have your celery leaf circle, place the candle in the centre of the circle, light, and meditate for a short time on the meaning of your affirmations. The more regularly you do this, the more you will believe these important words about yourself.
I Never Knew…
Rubbing celery on the skin may work as an effective mosquito repellent.
*All images via Unsplash or Wikimedia and copyright free.
About the Author:
Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.