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All Things Magickal
Old Fashioned Herbs
Lavender & Yarrow
by Shay Lee

Did your grandmother apply lavender as a scent? I don't remember my grandmother doing that. Regardless, the smell of lavender brings memories of grandmothers. Rather than 'old fashioned' an excellent adjective for lavender's fragrance might be 'classic'. Dear granny might have been on to something. The smell of lavender is related to longevity. So, smell it often. Yarrow can easily be called old. Fossils of yarrow pollen were identified in Neanderthal burial caves. How many greats does that add to dear old granny? Lavender was used in pre-Christen times at Midsummer festivals.

Through the ages yarrow has been sacred to a variety of people from the Druids to the Chinese. The Druids used yarrow to divine weather. Fifty straight, dried yarrow stems were thrown as the sticks by the Chinese masters of I Ching. Can't mention yarrow without mentioning the Trojan wars. Yarrow, who botanical name is Achillea, is thought to be named after Achilles who used the herb to stop the bleeding wounds of his solders some 30,000 years ago. Native American also use yarrow to treat wounds. A common name for yarrow is Wound Wort.

To digress, have you ever wonder about wort as in St. John's Wort, Motherwort, Figwort, Liverwort or Masterwort. Wort equals herb. Thus, Wound Wort translates as an herb for wounds. Next time you cut yourself shaving - try a poultice of yarrow leaves.

Both yarrow and lavender are associated with love. Both could be used in modern wedding or handfasting rituals in bouquets and wreaths for the newlyweds. The cake and the broom could be decorated with yarrow and lavender flowers. Before the ceremony cup of lavender and chamomile tea would be calming. A pre-nuptial purification bath with lavender soap should be a consideration.

Lavender is a purifier not only for a bath but also when it is burned. I found what seem like an easy recipe for incense using the stems of lavender. When I harvest the flowers, I cut off a long portion of the stems. After they are dried, I strip off the flowers and have just the stems. The recipe I found was a perfect solution for using the stems. All you have to do is dissolve 1 tablespoon of saltpeter in warm water and soak the stems for 1/2 hour. The saltpeter was easier to get than I thought it would be. All you have to do is ask a druggist for it. It is inexpensive also. Less than $2.50 for 4 ozs. This is when a salvage store comes in very handy. I found an 18” piece of plastic tubing that is 1 and 1\8 inches in diameter. AND 2 rubber caps that fit. One for each end. I’m thrilled.

Alright I am ready to try this. First question - will the tube hold 1 cup of water. Of course, I have already dissolved the saltpeter in the water before I think about this. But, yes, it takes the cup with 1” left over. Stuck 7 or 8 lavender stems in and let them sit for ? hour. Took them out and let them sit for 24 hours to dry. Tried lighting one. It lit but went out. Again. It went out. Gave them another day. Same. Then I realized I had used 1 teaspoon instead of one tablespoon. Mixed a new batch with 1 tablespoon. This time I let them in for 1 hour. Let them dry. They almost started to burn like incense but not quite. As I write this, I have the same sticks soaking again. Maybe 1? hours this time.

Lavender in pre-Christian times was used in Midsummer rites that has long been associated with snakes. They like to lay under lavender bushes. So, it would seem that utilizing lavender for any ritual when you invoke any deities that have an affinity for snakes would be a good idea. Lavender also promotes healing from depression and alleviates stress.
One interesting fact I came across is that lavender is now being burned in Birthing Rooms. Its scent is thought to keep the room pure. What a fabulous way to welcome a new life into this world.
Yarrow can be carried as a sachet or amulet to repels negative influences. It is said to keep up your courage and in any divinatory workings. It is another herb that is useful for pulling out of depression and sorrow.

Yarrow tea is good for colds and fevers. When I feel the first signs of a cold, I brewed up several cups. Yarrow is bitter. I’ve mixed it with either spearmint and chamomile to kill the taste. A friend told me that mixing chopped, fresh yarrow leaves with scrambled eggs will make them taste like they have sausage mixed in with them. Even though I am not a fan of sausage, I tried. No sausage taste. He said his yarrow was wild-picked. I grew mine - without the sausage taste! The best cup of tea that I have brewed using my own herbs was a third part each of chamomile, spearmint and lavender flowers. The lavender gave it an underlying ‘classic’ taste.

Note: The lavender sticks in the saltpeter never did work. Oh, yes they finally burned some but there was never a lavender smell! Don’t try it.


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