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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Yarrow Charms

      Yarrow is probably one of my favorite herbs to work with, magically. Lady Wilde tells us that it is an excellent magic herb and was sown into clothing (Wilde, 1991). She also mentions an Irish folk charm where ten yarrow leaves are plucked and nine placed in your sock for protection, with the tenth given as an offering to the spirits (Wilde, 1991). Yarrow can be associated with protection, love, beauty, healing; it's scientific name, achillea millefolium, is from its association with the Greek hero Achilles who was said to use it on the battlefield to treat injured soldiers.
    Yarrow features in two charms in volume 2 of the Carmina Gadelica which are intended to make the bearer more attractive and to protect from heart-ache. Interestingly in lines 7 through 10 of the first charm the woman associates herself with sea, land, sky and the tree, before declaring her strength and dominance. The following are my versions, based on the originals. 

The Yarrow 163

I will pluck the yarrow fair,
That my face shall be more gentle,
That my lips shall be more warm,
That my speech shall be more chaste,
 My speech will be the beams of the sun,
My lips will be the juice of the strawberry.
May I be an isle in the sea,
May I be a hill on the shore,
May I be a star in the waning of the moon,
May I be a staff to the weak,
I can wound every man,
No man can wound me.

The Yarrow 164

I will pluck the yarrow fair,
That more brave shall be my hand,
That more warm shall be my lips,
That more swift shall be my foot;
May I be an island at sea
May I be a rock on land,
That I can afflict any man,
     Yet no man can afflict me.
  Although large doses are toxic small amounts of Yarrow tea can be used for internal bleeding, indigestion  colds, fevers, and to increase appetite (Foster & Duke, 2000). Yarrow can be applied externally as a poultice to stop bleeding and has a long history of being used for this in both Europe and America (Foster & duke, 2000). The plant can be found wild in fields and near roads. growing about 3 feet tall with clusters of tiny white flowers (Foster & Duke, 2000). Yarrow can also be grown in gardens and is easily dried by hanging. 

Daimler, M., (2010). By Land, Sea, and Sky
Wilde, L (1991) Irish Cures, Mystic Charms & Superstitions
Foster, S., and Duke, J., (2000). Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs

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