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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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Mistletoe Means What?

Growing atop trees, mistletoe seemed to suddenly appear out of nowhere. However, by the fifth or sixth century, people had figured out that birds dropped the seeds. The common name comes from the Old Saxon mistel, which evolved into the Old English mistiltān (mistel meaning the plant and tān, “twig”). The word mistel was also used for a bird that fed on the berries and called the mistel-thrush. However, rather than meaning “bird twig,” most etymologist refer back to the Old High German mist, meaning “dung” and in Old Dutch, “bird lime.” So basically, the plant may have been known as “bird dung twig.” What’s love got to do with it?

According to Norse mythology, after the god Balder was slain with a branch of mistletoe and brought back to life, his mother the goddess Frigg declared that from that time forward mistletoe would be a plant for love, not death. This idea had staying power. In the past, it was believed that sweethearts who kissed under a sprig were destined to marry but only if the mistletoe was burned on Twelfth Night (January 6th). Mistletoe gathered at the summer solstice was used as a household amulet and hung above a doorway to ward-off mischievous spirits.


In the folklore of Germany, Austria, and Flanders, mistletoe grew where an elf had sat in a tree. According to legend, a person could see and talk to ghosts while holding a piece of mistletoe. In England, Wales, and France, it was regarded as a plant of good fortune. A sprig was hung in the home for a year and replaced with a fresh one at Yule.

 

 

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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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