July in the Wheel of the Year Part 2: Herbal Lore - Lucya Starza
In England, July is a wonderful month for enjoying the sights and scents of flower gardens, as well as for foraging in hedgerows. Here are a few of the magical blooms you might find.
These sun-loving flowers with beautiful burnt-orange blooms (pictured) are magically associated with psychic powers, luck, and happiness. A vase of marigolds in your home will help attract good luck and can lift the spirits of all who dwell there.
One of the most popular herbal teas or infusions, chamomile is often drunk for its relaxing qualities. According to Rachel Patterson in A Kitchen Witches World of Magical Plants and Herbs, chamomile tea can also be used in spells to attract money by washing your coins in it or sprinkling it over your notes. I guess you could wash your credit card too.
Many believe that echinacea may boost the immune system to help stave off colds and flu, but the flowers can be used in healing spells too, and this blog post is about magical information rather than anything medical. You could put a vase of the flowers on your altar when doing healing magic. It can also be used to strengthen the effects of other herbs in spells.
As well as having a wonderful perfume, lavender is one of the most useful plants for a witch to grow in her garden. The name comes from the Latin lavare, meaning to wash. The Romans liked to bathe in lavender-scented water, and you can use lavender-infused water for magical cleansing too. The smoke from burning the herb is also cleansing. Bags of dried flowers have traditionally been hung in wardrobes to deter moths and put in pillowcases to aid sleep. Magically, you can use lavender for these things, and it can help with divinatory dreams. It is a good ingredient in love spells. If you want to communicate with a loved one, perhaps to try to resolve a problem, write them a letter on lavender scented paper as it is associated with forgiveness. Other magical associations include healing, and increasing psychic powers.
Hollyhocks are a traditional sight in an English summer, with their tall stalks and huge bell-shaped blooms. In the language of flowers, they are a symbol of fertility and fruitfulness because they produce hundreds of seeds. Although it is tempting to put a bunch on seasonal altars, they are better left in the garden. Bees, butterflies, and moth caterpillars love hollyhocks and it is good to give these endangered species a bit of help. They are associated with fairy magic. A recipe of 1660 says that a potion to enable you to see fairies can be made from hollyhock buds mixed with marigolds, wild thyme, and young hazel buds.
While mint is a herb rather than a flower, July is perfect to pick the fresh leaves. As well as putting them in tea, cocktails, and cooking in general, magically the powers include healing, protection, and use in money spells. Grow a pot of mint next to your piggy bank or put a few leaves in your purse or wallet.
Collecting Dried Flowers for Magic
While fresh flowers are wonderful, most experienced witches make the most of times of floral abundance to collect petals and leaves to dry. The best way to do it is to tie them in bundles and hang them upside down from a drying rack in a well-aired place, away from sunlight or direct heat. Putting them in a paper bag will prevent bits dropping off, but you can just collect the dried petals that fall from flowers in vases. When they are completely dry, store them in airtight jars out of sunlight to use as you need later on in the year in incense blends or to put in poppets, pouches, jar spells, or ground into dust to sprinkle as you will.
Spell: Peace Dust
This spell using dried foraged flowers was devised by my fellow witch Jane Mortimer. It is so lovely that I am glad she has given me permission to share it. What you need are dried petals from any flowers with peaceful associations.
Jane said:“I snipped off a bowl full of tired-looking roses, pelargoniums and scented geraniums, plus a few of their leaves, some violet leaves, feverfew, and a few stems of wheat that grew from the bird food. All these botanicals are ruled by Venus, but I also added quite a bit of spearmint, ruled by Mercury, because the scents go so well together, and Mercury could help speed things up.”
Sprinkle the lot with a splash of ylang ylang essential oil and add a handful of green cardamon pods. Hang this up in a paper bag to dry for about a week, then cut out the main rose stems and put everything else in a food chopper. Jane said: “A pestle and mortar doesn't cut it with this lot, trust me!”
Fill a jar with the Peace Dust and use it to make home protection spells, with this incantation: "Vile intent from other mortal, enter not across this portal." The dust can be sprinkled across the front doorway to stop people bringing any malevolence into the home by magickally cleansing their steps as they enter. It can also be used as incense, but it's great as pot pourri as it smells gorgeous just as it is.
This part of a series of posts I’m writing for the Moon Books Blog on the theme of the Wheel of theYear. My posts will be compiled and edited into a book: Pagan Portals – Wheel of the Year. Other books by Lucya Starza in the Pagan Portals series include Candle Magic, Guided Visualisations, Poppets and Magical Dolls, and Scrying. Lucya edited the community book Every Day Magic – A Pagan Book of Days.
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