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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Follow the Wheel of the Year with Plant Magic

My name is Sandra Kynes and I’m a writer who loves to develop creative ways to explore the magic of the world and then integrate them into my spiritual practices and everyday life. I find the green world endlessly fascinating in so many aspects: from magic and lore to science and culture.

In my most recent book, Plant Magic, I take a stroll through the wheel of the year to explore what’s going on in nature and how we can tap into the magic that occurs month by month. After all, there’s a fresh/local food movement in the mundane world so why not apply that concept to our rituals and magic work?

In this blog, will be exploring the plant kingdom from many aspects: ritual and magic, health and healing, and gardening and exploring the wild. And, of course, I like to include a little nerdy scientific stuff, too. Now, let’s begin our journey into Plant Magic.

In most ancient cultures people believed plants to be magical and for thousands of years they were used as much for ritual as they were for medicine and food. The presence of herbs in burial sites attests to their power beyond mundane purposes.

While we can dry and store plant material for later use, as people have done for thousands of years, or purchase almost anything we want when we want, working with plants in the context of the seasons brings their wisdom alive. When used in this way, plants can amplify the power of our rituals and spells.

Long regarded as a magical tree, the elder has a plethora of folk names including sweet elder, Lady Elder, and ellhorn. Growing as wide as it is tall, the elder is a garden plant that is also found along the borders of fields and meadows. Its small white flowers grow in large flattened clusters that can spread up to ten inches wide. The flowers of the common elder have a lemon-like scent, while black elder flowers smell somewhat musky.

In the past, elder trees were associated with witches and planting one near a house was believed to give the householder the ability to see them. In Denmark, it was believed that standing under an elder on Midsummer’s Eve allowed a person to see the fairy king and his entourage. In England, elderflowers were added to the Midsummer’s Eve bonfire for the same purpose. Growing elder in the garden invites fairies and nature spirits to take up residence.  

Use elderflowers to add power to spells. If you are concerned about hexes or dark magic, hang elderflowers over your altar. Before ritual or magic work, sprinkle an infusion of elderflowers to cleanse the area. In addition, elderflowers make a good offering to the Goddess. Also associated with death and funerals, burying elderflowers with the deceased or sprinkling them on a grave aids a loved one’s passage into the otherworld.

In late summer or early autumn, the clusters of round, bluish-black elderberries ripen. Although tart, the ripe, cooked berries are edible and often used to make jam and wine. Elderberries have a long history of use and have been found in excavations of Stone Age sites.

Ripe elderberries are actually dark purple but appear light blue because of a slightly waxy coating. Rub the berry and the coating comes off revealing the darker color. Be sure to use only ripe ones for jam or wine because unripe elderberries can be toxic when consumed. As for magic, use elderberries in charms to attract love and in spells to increase fidelity. Place a handful of berries on your altar during healing circles to support the energy.

As the year winds down, November 25th brings us into the Celtic month of elder. Although it is not in bloom or fruiting, the elder is celebrated at this time of year because it is a tree of the Crone. In many areas of Europe, an old female spirit was believed to call the elder tree her home. In Germany this spirit was known as Dame Ellhorn. To call on the Crone’s wisdom through the dark of the year, light a brown candle on your altar every third night until Yule. Spend time in meditation with the Crone for guidance through the dark of the year.

Working with plants within the context of the seasons helps us develop a more personal way to connect with the green world and nature spirits. We also follow in the footsteps of the wise women and men of the past. By developing an intimate knowledge of plants we carry on their magical work and find our unique means of self-expression in the craft.

 

 

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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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