As we travel well into the darkest half of the year, it is time to reflect and go inwards. We should see this as a time to journey and plant the seeds that will grow into the flowers of next year’s intentions. For this edition of the Deep Dive Series, we take a look at the ‘quiet plants’; their spirits, what they can support and how you can work with them during this season.
Often, quiet plants are overlooked on healing journeys. When we speak of plant medicines, our minds default to the likes of ayahuasca and peyote, those that open the doors of perception and can irrevocably change lives, sometimes not for the best.
Quiet plants are those that lead you by the hand into journeys and are more gentle in healing; they support you rather than lead you. This week we have decided to focus on the quiet plants that are indigenous to the UK. We know the likes of cacao and tobacco are important quiet plants as well, but we wanted to give a little love to those spirits that you might not have considered in your practices and who now call our shores their homes.
Chamomile has been a sacred plant for centuries, with the ancient Egyptians giving whole flowers as an offering to Ra (their Sun god), due to the yellow middles which were seen to represent the star. In the years that followed, chamomile became known as a herb for purification and protection. It is also associated with masculine energy and the element of water. In teas and as incense, it invites calm into its space and soothes anxious souls; perfect for those who have trouble with sleep.
Chamomile may not just be useful as a sleep aid. It is also believed to have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and liver-protecting effects. But the healing properties of chamomile also can be applied to other botanicals, it is said if a plant was withering and failing to thrive, planting chamomile nearby could improve the health of the ailing plant.
Germans also refer to this herb as alles zutraut meaning ‘capable of anything’, which gives us a hint as to how usefully this dear little plant is!
As well as having a calming and soothing spirit, chamomile is also known as a lucky flower and is said to have magical implications for attracting money. If you have any manifestation practises, drinking tea from the plant during ritual can focus your energies when working on prosperity of soothing tempers of those you are having issues with.
Whilst we recommend working with the fresh flowers, we know that the time of year or where you are located can be a barrier to this! A great dried version can be found from HR Higgins here.
A simple recipe to prepare ahead of meditation or ritual involves taking 4 tablespoons of chamomile flowers, 1 small, fresh sprig of mint (peppermint is also delicious) and around a quarter of a pint of boiling water.
Cut the flowers from the steams of the chamomile and the leaves from the mint stalks and add these to a teapot (or saucepan if you don’t have one), next add the boiling water and let them all seep for 5 minutes. Whilst steeping, think of the intention that you would like to add to this brew, maybe it is just for a moment of calm!
To serve pour the tea into a cup of your choice using a tea strainer if needed. Enjoy this purifying offering in your ritual!
Daisies are one of the most common flowers we encounter in our day to day lives, with these happy little souls popping up almost everywhere to remind you of the joy of the sunlight, as they close at night.
In Norse mythology, these are Freya’s (the goddess of love and beauty, as well as Fridays!) sacred flower and symbolizes innocence, purity and new beginnings. These plants contain two parts (the middle and the petals), so they are also seen as a sign of true love as they represent two lovers. Daisy chains also carry protection as it was said that evil cannot pass through a circle.
The ultimate message and spirit of a daisy is of hope and renewal. You can also use divination with the flowers by asking guidance in yes or no questions whilst plucking the petals (think of the ‘loves me, loves me not’ games played as children).
The daisy is a close relative of arnica, the plant that is used in treating colds and bruising. In Roman times daisy oil was also used to heal wounds, and in more modern times, wild daisies are used to treat lingering coughs, liver, kidneys and inflammation. They are also known to be a blood purifier.
For ritual use, these are the flowers to call support from when working with your inner child, as they hold purity and joy. When journeying with shadow work daisies are there to keep light in the darkness. If you would just like a little joy, then daisy tea is the perfect meditation partner to lighten your soul and call in simpler times.
As with chamomile, we recommend picking these flowers fresh and drying yourself. Whilst they can be found in bloom most of the year, spring is the best time to collect them. If you don’t have access to fresh daisies, we have found these to be great to use.
Use one heaped teaspoon of the dried flowers per mug, if preparing in a teapot or pan add a cup of boiling water to each spoonful (depending how many cups you wish to make and let steep for 10 minutes. Once this time has passed strain into a cup using a tea strainer and let yourself be taken to a simpler time and summer days (we also think this session is the perfect meditation).
Please note, do not consume daisies whilst pregnant.
Mint has been an important herb since the early start of civilization and can be viewed as one of the master plants (like tobacco) considering the prevalence of its use in our world. It is generally accepted that peppermint is one of the most potent of the family, and that spearmint has a gentler effect.
Mint is tied to Venus and the air element, this versatile herb can be used in incense, charms and baths.
This plant represents clarity, wisdom and virtue, as well as being a spirit you can call on to support boundary and personal path work. Mint is also the herb of the third chakra and solar plexus; the seat of our personal power and self-esteem, it is also a potent area of intuition (when you have a ‘gut feeling’ that’s this powerful chakra kicking in for you!).
Mint comes into its power when you call on the plant to aid you in decision making, intuition, and thinking capacities. If you are thinking of a life change or to ruminate on an issue that has come up, ask this wise old spirit for guidance.
Here are some ways to work with mint, not to just drink as a tea.
Mugwort is one of the most sacred plants of northern Europe, being an essential assistant in shamanic work, the partner in deepening relationships with the natural world and as a protector of women. It is often called the mother of herbs and is an ancient way of healing, magic and divination.
The spirit of this plant is as a door to other realms, she is a wayfinder, door opener and a bridge between consciousnesses. Mugwort also represents ancestral remembering and is a way to connect with those passed to ask for guidance.
“Mugwort opens up chambers of ancient memory within the brain, bringing to one’s dream life stirring visions of past and future that overflow with magical imagery. The symbols that dance through your mugwort-touched dreams pull out the cobwebs of our forgetfulness and assist us in remembering old, unwritten ways of healing and living that attend to the needs of spirit and soul.”
Associated with the Full Moon and with the Summer Solstice since ancient times, Mugwort also is suitable for rituals year-round. It can be used as a ritual tool in many ways. It is also viewed as a calmer of the nervous system.
Pick Mugwort in the summer and collect both the leaves and the buds of flowers. Like mint, we recommend several ways to work with this magical plant in addition to drinking as a tea. If you don’t have access to the plant or its winter (like now!), we recommend this dried version.
Please note, do not consume Mugwort whilst pregnant.
The pine is one of the oldest tree species on earth, and we have fossils to show that this was probably the first real tree on our planet. The world’s oldest tree, at over 5000 years, is also a Hatch Tree, one of the illustrious pine family. With this in mind, it is no wonder that these incredible beings represent resilience, immortality and peace. Pine cones are also a representation of the continuity and renewal of life, a perfect addition to an altar or offering during a ritual.
In Northern European traditions, at the end of each year pines were decorated to celebrate the birth of Frey, the Norse god of sun and fertility (and brother to Freya). The tops of these trees were also set alight to attract the returning of the sun, as the winter days were so short – this is where our Christmas Tree tradition comes from.
Pine needles are rich in vitamin C (5 times the concentration of vitamin C found in lemons) and vitamin A, we recommend working with Douglas Fir, the pine variety most commonly used as Christmas trees. Although most pine varieties can be used, avoid Yew and Cypress at all costs as these are toxic and are sometimes mistaken for pine. A good rule of thumb is to avoid flat needles.
The spirit of pine is called upon when you need some strength, or to ask for perseverance to take you through a difficult period. Pine needle tea is the perfect steaming comfort to remind you ancient spirits are with you at each step of life. To prepare you will need a small bunch of pine needles per cup, if you can’t find any fresh (or are not sure which are okay), you can find them here. Add hot not boiling water to the cup (as boiling water breaks the vitamin C and can release the bitterness of the needles) and let this liquid steep for 15 to 20 minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon and maybe a little honey to taste, then drink to accompany your ritual.
Please note, do not consume pine needles whilst pregnant.
Primroses are the earliest flower to blossom in spring, they are seen as the beacons of light and herald the ending of winter, it is due to the time they shoot they are seen as a symbol of new beginnings and vitality too, much like their daisy cousins.
The primrose flower represents creativity and protection as they are considered a symbol of women; with each petal a stage of a woman’s life. The blooming of the flowers and its subsequent wilting signify our very life cycles, which in turn enables us to reflect and celebrate ourselves and this human experience.
Primroses are also seen as protectors, with plants grown in homes to safeguard families, these little yellow flowers are also connected to the fairies, and it is believed that they would send their blessings to you when they see them.
In medieval times primrose was considered an essential remedy in muscular rheumatism, paralysis and gout. Nowadays, it is used for insomnia and anxiety, as well as coughs.
In ritual, the spirit of the primrose is called on when you need a creative boost or feel like you are flagging. This happy little soul is ready to skip to your calling and give you a little taste of spring on a grey day.
Easiest consumed as a tea, and as with most plants best fresh, simply take 5 primrose flowers per cup to boiling water and let steep for 5 minutes. When cooler, drink whilst meditating or in ritual to unleash a bright yellow bout of creativity.
You can also find dried flowers to use here.
Commonly associated with love, due to their heady scent, heart-shaped leaves and deep purple flowers, violets also have deep wisdom to share. Blooming in spring, just after the primrose these little flowers are symbols of the crown chakra, whose energy is focused on self-awareness and divinity, thus turning to love of self.
Violets were first cultivated by the Greeks around 500 BC. Both Greeks and Romans used Violets at funerals, while Persians used them to calm anger and to heal a headache.
The spirit of the violet plant is one to be called in self-love practices, or if you need a little reassurance. They are also the flower of intuition and spiritual connection so working with them on equinoxes and solstices are the perfect way to be guided by this beautiful little soul.
Not only do violets contain antioxidants, but they are also useful as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory. It’s also worth noting that Viola is a rich source of vitamin C. A tincture of the flower can also be used to soothe skin conditions such as eczema.
As with many of the quiet plants, we recommend taking violet as an infused tea in self-love practises or healing meditations. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of fresh leaves and flowers to a cup of boiling water, then let steep for 10 minutes. Once cooled, drink the tea and let this woodland flower embrace you in a little purple hug, you can also work with amethyst stones alongside your tea to soothe.
If you do not have access to fresh plants, find the dried version here.
Thanks to Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal the authors of Wayside Medicine and Hedgerow Medicine, without which we would not have been able to write this piece as thoroughly.