“The druids are wont to sing to the mistletoe.”
In the depths of winter, we decorate our homes with greenery. But much of the traditional herbs and resins of the season have magical as well as decorative properties.
Mistletoe: This plant is used for protection, and to attract love, good luck and prosperity. Little wonder the Druids revered it – the plant grows on oaks, a sacred tree to the Druids. During the Roman Saturnalia festivities, fertility rituals took place under mistletoe – possibly the source of the “kissing beneath the mistletoe” tradition. The berries are poisonous, so be sure to keep it from children and animals. Fortunately, you don’t need to ingest it to use it magically. You can put it in a sachet or hang it above the door.
Ivy: Like mistletoe, Ivy is used in love, fertility, and protection charms. And also like mistletoe, the plant is poisonous. In magick, ivy is often paired with holly. It is associated with the goddess and the Greek god, Dionysus.
Holly: The Holly King rules from the summer solstice to the winter solstice, when the Oak King takes over. This was another Saturnalia-associated plant, with Romans giving holly as gifts during the period. Planted around a house, it is believed to ward off dark magic. It is often used in rituals around the seasonal mysteries, and death and rebirth. It is also used in magical charms and spellwork involving protection, dream magic, luck and prosperity. And JK Rowling was right – the wood makes an excellent wand. If brought into the home at Yule, it can attract fairies. But you don’t really want fairies hanging around all year (they can be pesky), so be sure to burn the holly on imbolc. And again – deadly berries. DO NOT INGEST.
Frankincense: One of the gifts of the Magi, this resin is used in clearing rituals to banish negative energies or other baddies. It’s even used in exorcisms. To clear your home, burn it on charcoal in a three-legged brazier or cauldron. Start with all the windows and doors closed but one. Weave through the space, moving in a clockwise direction through the rooms if you’re above the equator (go widdershins if you’re south of the equator). End at that last open door or window, and speak an incantation to push any negative energy out. Frankincense is considered a suitable offering for pretty much any solar archetype.
Myrrh: Another gift from the Magi, this resin is frequently paired with Frankincense in magical rituals. When burned as incense, myrrh is used to aid meditation, for consecration and blessing rituals (for example, of magical charms and talismans), and to purify a space and protect against evil. It is also used for healing and attraction spellwork, and is considered to have feminine energy.
About the Author
Kirsten Weiss is the author of The Hoodoo Detective, book six in the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries: the urban fantasies, The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, The Shamanic Detective, The Infernal Detective and The Elemental Detective. She’s also the author of Steam and Sensibility, a steampunk novel of suspense.