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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Spice is Nice but Magic is Better

Whether carved for Samhain or made into a pie for Thanksgiving, this is the season of that American icon, the pumpkin. Here in Maine, the town of Damariscotta has an annual pumpkin festival where all things pumpkin is celebrated. However, it’s not enough to just grow and display a giant pumpkin. You have to carve it out, put an outboard motor on it, and join the giant pumpkin boat race on the river. Yes, really.

The pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) is a variety of the plant that also produces yellow crookneck squash, zucchini, acorn squash, and others. The plant is a creeping vine with winding tendrils and coarse, prickly stems. The rounded leaves are lobed and have serrated edges. Large, bright-yellow or orange, trumpet-shaped flowers precede the fruit (by definition it’s a fruit), which can be a range of colors, sizes, and shapes.

Originating in Mexico and Central America thousands of years ago, the pumpkin was a source of food and medicine for indigenous people throughout the region. The Aztec and Inca cultivated them. By the time Europeans arrived in the New World, the Cherokee of the Southeast, Ojibwas along the Great Lakes, and the Pueblo people of the Southwest and many others were growing them. European settlers adopted the pumpkin along with other indigenous crops and transported it to Europe in the sixteenth century. By the time the Pilgrims set foot in Plymouth, they were already familiar with pumpkins. English settlers in New England removed the seeds, filled them with honey, milk, and spices, and then baked them. Colonists also made soup and beer from pumpkins.

Originating as a carved turnip in Ireland, the jack-o-lantern became more impressive with a pumpkin. Hollowed out and lit from within by a candle, jack-o-lanterns were placed in windows during the dark of the year to keep wandering spirits at bay. In Central Europe, eating pumpkin was believed to increase male virility. Dreaming about pumpkins has a number of interpretations. In Europe it was interpreted as a bad omen or that witchcraft was being used against you. In the Middle East, it was an indication of good health.

Overall, the pumpkin has come to symbolize abundance and as such, it can aid in drawing it into your home. Place three small pumpkins on a kitchen windowsill or table during the autumn season. As you do this say three times, “May wealth, health, and love abound; in this house and all around.”

Like reading tea leaves, a handful of pumpkin seeds can be used for divination. First, hold them between your hands as you visualize your question or whatever you seek guidance for. Toss them into the air, and then look for patterns or symbols that they may form on the floor. Make a circle with seeds on your altar for an esbat ritual or when working with moon magic to draw the power of Luna. When blowing out the candle inside a pumpkin, place an index finger in front of your mouth as you blow, and make a wish.

Of course, you can always enjoy a pumpkin spice latte before, after, or maybe even as part of your magic work.


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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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