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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Meadowsweet, Mead, and a Faery Queen

A sovereignty Goddess of the province of Munster, Áine was one of the Tuatha Dé Danann, a tribe of magical people (also regarded as deities) who arrived in Ireland before the Celts. Áine was and a goddess of love, fertility, light, and summer. Celebrated at Midsummer, June 23rd is sometimes regarded as Áine’s Day.
        Áine is also known as the faery queen of Munster. Her residence was Knockainey, Cnoc Áine in Gaelic meaning “Áine’s Hill” where bonfires were lit at Midsummer and offerings left by the spring/well at the foot of the hill. Knockainey is not far from another site associated with her, the enchanted lake of Lough Gur. Both Knockainey and Lough Gur were believed to hold entrances to the faery realm. According to legend, Áine was traditionally crowned with meadowsweet and reputedly gave the flowers their pleasant, sweet, almond-like fragrance.
        Blooming from June through August, meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria syn. Spiraea ulmaria) is also known as bridewort, meadwort, queen of the meadow. Growing up to four feet tall, it has toothed leaves with prominent veins and whitish down on the underside. The tiny, five-petaled flowers are creamy white and grow in loose clusters atop the stems.
        The common name comes from the Anglo-Saxon meodu-swete, “mead sweetener.” Traces of meadowsweet have been found in Neolithic (New Stone Age) drinking cups, attesting to its use in brewing for thousands of years. Its use as a medicinal herb continues today.
       The Anglo-Saxons also used it as a strewing herb to sweeten the air of homes. Queen Elizabeth I reputedly would have no other herb in her chambers. Considered sacred by the Druids, in a legend from the medieval Welsh Mabinogion, meadowsweet was one of the plants used by the wizard Gwydion. In Ireland, it was used to break enchantment by faeries, however, faeries were also noted as dancing amongst the meadowsweet in the fields.
        When used around the home, meadowsweet promotes feelings of harmony and security. Meditate with a cluster of flowers in each palm to bring your energy into alignment or to help you find inspiration. Grow meadowsweet in your garden or sprinkle the powdered herb around your home to delight the fae. In tribute to Áine, prepare a candle with the flower essence and light it in her honor. Sweeten your magic with the queen of the meadow.

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The author of over a dozen books, Sandra is 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 Maine where she lives in an 1850s farmhouse surrounded by meadows and woods.  


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