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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Thistles: Protective Magic and More

Thistles have prickly stems, leaves with spines, and pointed bracts (modified leaves) around the flowers, which turn into tufts of white hair known as thistledown. During medieval times, blessed thistle was believed to counteract poisons, heal bites from mad dogs, and even ward off the plague. Often used as animal fodder, young stems and leaves (shorn of their spines) have eaten by people and not just in times of famine. Thistledown was used to stuff pillows and mattresses.
     Thistles were scattered in grain fields to drive away demons and the seeds were burned to cure illness caused by evil spirits. In addition to warding off evil, a thistle flower carried in the pocket was said to avert melancholy. Thistles were planted in gardens to prevent thieves from entering a house.
     A potion of made with thistle seed and St. John’s wort was given to women on trial for witchcraft to make them tell the truth. It was also believed that witches used thistle with the spit of toads to become invisible. In Essex, England, warlocks reputedly used the tall stems as walking sticks. Elsewhere, wizards were said to use them as wands.
     In Ireland, thistles were regarded as faery plants. After casting a travel spell, they were said to ride home to faeryland on thistledown. Pixies reputedly use thistle spines of spear thistle as swords.
     The Scottish thistle (Onopordum acanthium) grows about five feet tall and has flat, spiny wings along the stems, silvery-green leaves, and dark pink to violet flowers. Reaching up to six feet tall, the spear thistle (Cirsium vulgare) has purplish-pink to purple flowers and lance-shaped leaves that that narrow to long, sharp spines. Growing about two feet tall, the blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus) has red stems and reddish bracts surround the yellow flowers.
     Magically, if you find a thistle flower that is going to seed, hold some of the thistledown in your hand, make a wish, and then blow it to the wind. Use the spines in protection spells or to break a hex. Thistles also aid in working with spirit guides, dealing with challenges, and releasing anything unwanted from your life.





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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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