Plant Magic: Wisdom from the Green World

Whether you live in a city or the countryside, the magic of plants can be found everywhere and sometimes where you least expect it. Be open and explore the magic that surrounds you.

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Ivy Leads Us into the Dark of the Year

Following the wheel of the year through the Celtic tree calendar, September 30th begins the time of ivy and its ogham character Gort. Ivy teaches us about strength and endurance, death and immortality. It is a symbol of the knowledge of things that are hidden and mysterious. This is a time (from September 30 to October 27) to enter the darkness within and explore our most meaningful inner truths.

Ivy is associated with the Goddess because it grows in a spiral. Ivy symbolizes the spiritual journey through the wheel of the year: in winter we follow the spiral of energy down and within, and in the spring, we follow it back up into the light for our own symbolic rebirth.

Just as circlets of laurel were used as crowns for athletes in ancient Greece, ivy was used to crown poets. Ivy was associated with Bacchus/Dionysus because it was regarded as an antidote to drunkenness. Binding the brow with ivy was supposed to prevent intoxication while also enhancing the effects of alcohol. In England, ivy-covered poles called ale bushes were the forerunner of pub signs.

According to folklore, if ivy grew on the walls of a house the occupants were safe from witches. If the ivy died, the family was in for disaster. According to love divination, if a young woman put an ivy leaf in her pocket the first man she encountered after leaving the house would become her husband.

Grow ivy on your property or place it as a houseplant in a front window to guard against negative energy and to attract good luck. Wind a piece of ivy around the bottom of a candle as part of a binding spell. Place a couple of sprigs on your altar for spiritual journeys that take you inward as well as guide you out. Incorporate white ivy leaves into your esbat ritual as they are associated with the moon.

Common ivy (Hedera helix), also known as English ivy, is a familiar evergreen vine with woody stems. Its dark green leaves have three to five shallow lobes. There are hundreds of cultivars based on leaf shape, size, and variegation. Ivy grows as a climbing vine or trailing ground cover. It has two stages. In the juvenile stage, it climbs and spreads. In the adult stage, it becomes more like a shrub and produces clusters of greenish-white flowers that develop into blue-black berries.

 

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  The author of over a dozen books, Sandra describes herself as an explorer of history, myth, and magic. Her writing has been featured in SageWoman, The Magical Times, The Portal, and Circle magazines, Utne Reader and Magical Buffet websites, and various Llewellyn almanacs. Although she is a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, she travels a solitary Goddess-centered path through the Druidic woods. She has lived in New York City, Europe, England, and now coastal New England where she lives in a Victorian-era house with her family, cats, and a couple of ghosts.  

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