Each Thursday we look at the magical properties of different herbs, plants & spices, learning how we can use them to enhance our lives. Today we are going to be looking at the magical properties of Agrimony.
Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) is a perennial native to Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa that has naturalized to most of the US and Canada.
It grows in open areas, fields and waste places and hedgerows. Yellow flower spikes appear on a downy stem about 20 inches tall around Midsummer and continue on through September.
The seeds that follow are contained within burr-like cases, which stick to everything. The leaves are downy and serrated and pinnately divided with less division in the smaller lower leaves. The leaves are fuzzy with more fuzz on the bottom giving the undersides a silvery appearance.
The root is a black woody rhizome. The entire plant has a sweet citrusy scent.
Other Names Common Agrimony, Cockleburr, Cocklebur, Church Steeples, Stickwort, Sticklewort, Philanthropos, Ackerkraut, Agrimonia, Funffing, Herbe de Saint-Guillaume, Liverwort, Acrimony, Harvest lice, Aigremoine, Odermennig, Agrimonia, Herba agrimoniae, Agrimoniae herba, Burr Marigold, Garclive, Fairy’s Wand.
History and Folklore
The name agrimony likely comes from the Greek argemone, meaning plant used for treating cataracts, although agrimony is not often used in this capacity.
The Anglo-Saxons called it Garclive and used it to treat wounds, skin blemishes, warts, and snakebites. An early herbal remedy used a mix of agrimony, human blood, and pounded frogs to treat internal bleeding.
Agrimony has long been regarded as powerfully magical, and one of its earliest common names is ‘fairy’s wand’. In an 18th-century Scottish witch trial, agrimony was mentioned as a witch’s cure for people who were ‘elf-shot,’ or suffering unexplained illness.
Agrimony will grow well throughout most of North America. A perennial herb, it should be sown from seed in winter, or it may be stratified by putting them in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks before spring planting. Agrimony seeds are suitable for Midwinter planting ceremonies.
Agrimony prefers well-drained soil and full to partial sun and tolerates dry spells well.
Harvesting & Storage
Agrimony can be harvested at midsummer or when the flowers just come into bloom. Cut the whole plant and hang it outside to dry. Or pluck the leaves as needed.
Agrimony is an invasive perennial, so you’ll need to keep on top to ensure it doesn’t take over.
Agrimony is masculine in nature and according to Nicholas Culpeper is associated with the planet Jupiter and the sign Cancer It is also associated with the element of air.
Agrimony is useful for spellwork for those who need to explore their true feelings and to help balance the emotions applied to a situation.
The plant is also used in protection spells, to help build a psychic shield, reduce the influence of another’s negativity and banish negative energies and spirits. It is said to reverse harmful spells cast on you, causing them to rebound on the sender. Use in all protective sachets, spells and medicine bags. It can also be burned in banishing rituals or as a wash to cleanse the aura.
It is especially useful in healing magic as it enhances the strength of all healing spells, especially at a distance. You could use it in a ritual bath before beginning, as a wash for your tools, burn it as an offering or fumigant or decorate your altar with it.
Agrimony can be added to pillows, or placed under the pillow to ensure a night of deep, dreamless sleep. This is especially useful for those who are too troubled to sleep properly. This is an old traditional use for this herb, as stated in a traditional Old English rhyme:
If it be leyd under mann’s heed,
He shal sleepyn as he were deed;
He shal never drede ne wakyn
Till fro under his heed it be takyn.
This plant works well in a perennial border. It also yields a yellow dye. The later in the season the plant is collected, the darker the dye will be.
This plant also contains a good deal of tannin and may be useful in dressing leather.
Agrimony is a nontoxic astringent that is especially safe for children. It is commonly used as a digestive tonic that relieves diarrhoea and colicky pains.
A tonic infusion, 1-2 teaspoons per teacup, three times a day (or make it by the jugful, adjusting measurements accordingly, and store it in the fridge to drink cold), can be used as a diuretic and for urinary and kidney infections, for jaundice and general liver ailments. Agrimony is also a popular “spring tonic”.
The same infusion may also be used as a gargle for throat irritation, especially useful for singers.
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