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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Don’t Blame the Magical Ragwort

At this time of year when wildflowers are keeping the meadows colorful and we want to spend as much time as possible outside… allergy season comes creeping in. The biggest culprit is ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), but unfortunately ragwort (Senecio jacobaea syn. Jacobaea vulgaris) blooms at the same time and is blamed for hay fever. Having a similar name doesn’t help, either.
        Ragwort leaves have deep lobes with uneven edges and an unpleasant odor when crushed. So, the plant’s not perfect and that’s why it has a folk name of stinking Willie. The flower stem is red at the base and branches at the top with a spray of flowers. The yellow, daisy-like flowers grow in clusters. The seeds have downy, white hairs that carry them on the wind.
        This plant is also known as fairy horse and in Ireland it is dedicated to the faeries. With a magic word, the fae were said to turn ragwort into golden horses so they could gallop to their midnight revels. Samhain was a favorite time to ride. In the Hebrides of Scotland, ragwort was considered sacred to the fae who used it to ride between the islands.
        According to other legends, ragwort and St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) are daytime disguises for faery horses. Stepping on one of these plants after sunset reputedly causes the horse to rear up and gallop off with the unsuspecting human on its back. At dawn they would be left far from home with a sprig of ragwort in their hands. Faeries were believed to take shelter from the rain under ragwort, especially on stormy nights.
        As part of a spell to attract wealth and prosperity, place dried flowers in a sachet and keep it with your financial papers. If you can’t find the plant near your house, ragwort flower essence is available to purchase. Counteract any spells sent your way by dabbing a little ragwort flower essence on an amulet. Cut long stems of flowers and position them wherever you need to dispel negativity. When working with the fae, visualize swaying stems of ragwort as golden horses preparing to carry you to faeryland. You can’t do that with ragweed.

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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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