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Onions Pagans Herb of the Month
Useful Herbs for the Practical Pagan

October: The Magical
Onion Allium Cepa

The onion seems like such a simple, ordinary thing that one might not expect to see it hailed as herb-of-the-month. Some might not even think of it as an herb at all. But in reality the onion is such a useful plant, and since the definition of herb describes a plant valued for its medicinal, savory, or aromatic qualities, I think our onion qualifies.

For Spells: Onions have been used in spells for ages. They are usually associated with protection, exorcism, healing, money spells, prophetic dreams and lust. One of the most repeated ideas is that burning the dry skins will bring you money. This can be a powerful visual representation, suggesting that as you burn the skins and chant your words, imagine you have money to burn. I have read many different chants and verses to go with this, but it is my belief that the words you come up with yourself will be the most effective.

One of the things I find very useful about the onion in spells and visualizations is the fact that it has many layers. It makes an excellent symbol for spells related to shedding of old habits, bad feelings or relationships. It is also a good representation of finding one's true self beneath the layers of outer self.

For Healing: This is where the onion truly shines as a magical herb. It is cheap, easy to find, needs no refrigeration, comes in its own packaging, can be chopped, sliced, grated, pureed, and has no harmful side effects. Not only is it the easiest self-help remedy around, it has many uses.

Onions contain more than one hundred sulfur-containing compounds. One of these compounds has been found to prevent asthma and respiratory ailments. Onions are rich in flavonoids which deactivate carcinogens and tumor promoters. An onion a day can also raise HDL's (good cholesterol), resulting in lower blood pressure and prevention of blood clots.

Onion breaks up congestion of many types of fluids under the skin, including blood which causes bruising. I actually tried the bruise test on my daughter who had a large bruise on her leg. (The perils of color guard practice). I taped a slice of onion over half of the bruise before she went to bed. (She is such a good sport). When she got up the bruise was almost gone underneath the onion, but the rest was the same angry blue and yellow. Another tried and true use that I have found is to put some mashed, sliced, or juiced onion on a bug bite or sting. As long as there is some of the "wet" part on the bite, you can just tape a piece on the offended skin and have relief!

Onions are an excellent base for a cough syrup that helps eliminate coughs and congestion.

    Here is the recipe I have used:
  • Chop 1 cup of raw onion and put it in a stainless steel or enamel pot.
    (Do Not use anything aluminum).
  • Add enough raw honey to cover the onion and slowly simmer, covered,
    until the onion starts to soften and break apart.
    This can also be done in a crock pot.
  • Strain it and store in the refrigerator.
    Take it as often as you like.
    It is generally taken as needed or every half hour, in doses of about
    1 Tbsp. for adults, 1 tsp. for small children.
You will definately smell like an onion for awhile, but I have had great success with knocking a cold down quickly with this was worth it.

For Dinner: I think everyone knows at least one way to enjoy the flavor of onion in food. I don't have a particular onion recipe to share but I do put onion in just about everything. So I will give you a few hints on using the versatile onion.

    Onion tips:
  • To get rid of "onion breath" - eat several sprigs of vinegar or salt-dipped parsley. You can also chew on fennel seeds or coffee beans. You now have a "different" breath!
  • A wet onion is easier to peel than a dry one.
  • If you need the juice of an onion, squeeze half an onion with the skin on it. Use a lemon squeezer.
  • When you need only a small portion of an onion, cut off only the size you need and peel it. The remaining portion will keep longer with the skin on it in the refrigerator.

For Fun: Onion juice can be used the same way as lemon juice to make invisible ink!

    Dip writing tool (like a q-tip) into onion juice and write your message on paper. Let the paper dry completely. Remove shade from a lamp. Carefully place the paper over the hot light bulb and watch your message magically appear!

Onion skins can also be used as a dye, creating beautiful yellows, golds and browns. I have used them in dyeing eggs with great success:

    Wash eggs in mild soapy water to remove the oily coating which could prevent dye from adhering. In non-aluminum pan, cover uncooked eggs with cold water; add 1 tsp vinegar and several handfuls of onion skins. Simmer for 20 minutes. Eggs will be hard-cooked to perfection and naturally dyed. Finish eggs by rubbing thoroughly with cooking oil. Buff to a shiny finish.
    For an interesting mottled effect wrap egg tightly in onion skins by covering with nylon stocking and binding with twine or an elastic band. Cover with water and simmer for 20 minutes.

History: Of all foods in the plant kingdom, onions set the record for the most frequent appearance in ancient Egyptian art. It certainly is no wonder since they were the staple food of the poor along with bread and beer. Onions often appeared in Egyptian art as a sacrifice that appeared on their altars. Archeologists discovered small onions in the eye sockets in the mummy of King Ramses IV who died in 1160 BCE. To the Egyptians, the onion, with its concentric layers, represented eternal life and was buried with each of their Pharoahs.

Had it not been for onions, the civil war might have turned out differently. General Ulysses S. Grant, who headed the Union forces, sent a note to the War Department that read, "I will not move my troops without onions." He promptly received three cartloads. Grant also used the juice of onions medicinally as a wound healer.

These are only a few examples of the versatility of the onion. See how many more you can find and you might gain new respect for this every day herb. All Hail the magical Onion!
Karin Marie

Visit our past Herb of the Month pages:
September: Basil
October: The Magical Onion

I hope you have enjoyed this months featured herb.
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