Oak - (Quercus spp.) Folk Names: Duir, Jove’s Nuts, Juglans (Latin)|
Oak is an open branched tree that grows to ninety feet, with elliptical leaves having five to nine lobes, four to nine inches long and two to five inches wide. The leaves are purplish-red in the fall. The bark is light gray with shallow fissures and broad, loose, scaly plates. The English oak (Quercus robur) is a long-lived tree known to attain an age of a thousand years or more, it attains a height of eighty feet. Its leaves are two to five inches long and one and a quarter to two and a half inches wide, with six t fourteen shallow, rounded lobes. Two small ear-shaped lobes appear at the leaf base. The bark is light gray with deep, irregular furrows. The inner bark (cambium) and young leaf are used herbally. For the leaf, use two teaspoons per cup and steep for twenty minutes; for the bark, use one tablespoon per cup and simmer for twenty minutes. The oak is almost always associated with the Druids, who held it sacred. Of course, many other threes were sacred to the ancient Celts. Among them were birch, alder, elder, willow, holly, yew, hazel, hawthorn, ash, apple, and rowan.
Herbal Uses: The white oak (Quercus alba) is the best for internal use. Gather and infuse the inner bark or young leaf before Midsummer for douches and enemas. To prepare, steep one table spoon per quart of water for thirty minutes. A tea of the buds is a valuable tonic for the liver; steep two teaspoons per cup of water for twenty minutes. Simmer the bark in salves to make a remedy for hemorrhoids. Internal rectal problems, hemorrhoids, leukorrhea, menstrual irregularities, and bloody urine are also benefited. Take internally as a tea and apply externally in fomentation, to shrink varicose veins. The tea brings down fevers, treats diarrhea, and makes a wash for sores. Up to three cups a day may be safely taken. As a gargle, it treats mouth sores and sore throats. Being astringent, it stops internal bleeding. Black oak (Quercus tinctoria) and red oak (Quercus ruba) can be used externally. English oak (Quercus robur) can be used both internally and externally.
Magickal Uses: Oak is a tree of the sun, sacred to Brighid and the Dagda. Druids do not celebrate unless in the presence of an oak. All parts of the tree are used for magickal working as incense, wands, and staves; in ritual baths; and so on. Oak is a tree of healing, abundance, fertility, and strength. The oak produces a wood for building that is incredibly strong yet pliable. It also makes the hottest blaze for heating the home. It has the ability to withstand lightning strikes, and it puts down roots that grow as deep as the tree is tall. All in all it symbolizes a powerful, balanced personality that is well prepared to stand the shock of sudden illumination or enlightenment. We have plenty of archaeological evidence to support the tradition of the sanctity of the oak. Ancient Celtic oaken figures have been found at the source of the Seine. Oak wood was used for crypts in the Hallstatt and LaTene cultures, Celtic cultures distinguished by their unique styles of art. Sprays of oak, along with mistletoe, have been found in an ancient oak coffin. The oak is portrayed as a supernatural tree in the story of Lleu, whose mother forbade him to marry an ordinary female. The magus Gwydion created the maiden Blodeuwedd of oak blossoms, broom, and meadowsweet for Llue; but she betrayed her intended by taking a lover, who stabbed Llue with a spear. Llue then transformed himself into an eagle and flew to a magickal oak tree to escape. On Gaulish monuments, the Celtic thunder city, Taranis, is often pictured in conjunction with oak trees. An oak, covered with mistletoe, is depicted on a silver cup discovered at Lyons. The pig, sacred to the Celts and a symbol of sexual and agricultural fertility and prowess in battle, relishes acorns. The Goddess Brighid is associated with the oak tree. Saint Bridget of Kildare named her early monastic center “The Church of the Oak.” It is well to remember that St. Bridget was born and raised as a Druidess before she took on the new Catholic faith. A cross, made of oak twigs (symbolic of the four sacred directions) and bound with a red thread, is placed wherever one needs to wards off evil. The wood of oak can be carried for protection. Acorns are used to increase fertility (of projects or ideas, or in matters of human reproduction) and to ward off pain. They are panted in the dark of the moon to bring financial prosperity. Symbolic of immortality, they are especially sacred to the Samhain season. Use them to decorate the altar in the fall. Oak branches are made into wands and staves, after one asks the tree’s permission (and gets an answer!). Do this in the waxing or full moon. A gift is left for the tree in exchange. Oak is burned in the Midsummer fire. A tree of the sun, its flames honor the Sun God at his height of power. Oaks should be cut down in the waining moon. Be certain to give the tree spirit three day’s warning so it can vacate and find a new home. Plant an acorn nearby to facilitate this process. Beware of oaks during thunderstorms, as they tend to “draw the flash.” The oak is also a tree of Jupiter.
Oats - (Avena sativa) Folk Names: Groats, Oatmeal
Herbal Uses: The tincture forms the basis of all nerve tonics. Oatmeal, easily digested, is an ideal food for invalids, postpartum women, and those with fevers. Add dates or raisins to the oats as they cook for extra nutrition. Cooked oats thickened with slippery elm powder (Ulmus fulva) make a poultice for skin irritations. The tincture strengthens the uterus. A tea of oat straw helps chest complaints. Simmer small pieces of the straw in water for one hour, and add honey. A bath of it benefits rheumatism, lumbago, paralysis, liver and kidney disease, bladder problems, colic, bedwetting, chronically tired and cold feet, skin diseases, frostbite, wounds, and eye problems. Boil about two pounds of the straw in three quarts of water for thirty minutes and add to bath. Eating oats lowers cholesterol.
Homeopathic Uses: Homeopaths use Avena sativa for colds with acute mucus discharge, exhaustion, nerve tremors, paralysis, epilepsy, sleeplessness, and the bad effects of morphine.
Magickal Uses: Oat cakes are made with the new grain and shared with family and friends at Lugnasad (Lammas). In olden times, they were ground in a quern and baked on a sheepskin next to the fire. Add oats to your prosperity and money spells.
Oleander - (Nerium oleander) Poison
Magickal Uses: Never use internally in any potions! It is occasionally added to love spells. Generally it is held that having oleander in the home brings sickness, disgrace and misfortune of all types to the inhabitants.
Olibanum - See Frankincense
Olive - (Olea europaea) Folk Names: Oliver
Olive oil was traditionally burned in the temple lamps and used as an anointing oil to aid healing. The olive tree probably originated in Asia Minor. It is mentioned in texts from Ebla dated about 2500 BC (called giš-I-giš) at which time the tree was already extensively cultivated. Among the Copts “true oil” (olive oil) was used as a vehicle for various remedies, mainly unguents and poultices and rarely in drugs to be taken.
Magickal Uses: To cure a headache, write Athena’s name on an olive leaf and press it against your forehead. Athenian brides wore crowns of olive leaves to bring fertility. It is also believed that when eaten, olives ensure the sexual potency in men and induce lust. Olive leaves bring peaceful vibrations to a room. Hang the branches over the door and on the chimney for protection from evil and lightning. Wear to bring luck.
Onion - (Allium cepa) Folk Names: Oingnum, Onyoun, Unyoun, Yn-leac
(Allium x proliferum) Egyptian Walking, Tree Onion - A fascinating onion. Appealing because it’s a perennial bunching onion, so it never needs to be replanted. Plant a few, and you will never bother with mundane ‘green onions’ again. The very large, hollow scallion like stems have great flavor, and can be stuffed with an herb cream cheese. Or blanch (cover with dirt) the lower parts, of the stems and use like leeks. Called a ‘walking onion’ because small bulbets appear on the tops of stems, and as they mature they fall over to the ground, starting a new plant. In this manner, they walk around the garden.
(Allium fistulosum) Welsh - A bulbless, hardy perennial green onion. Like chives, but much larger with a stronger, zesty flavor. A native of Siberia, the name comes from walsch, meaning “foreign.”
Herbal Uses: Onion juice is antibiotic, diuretic and expectorant, and is used in herbal medicine to treat coughs, colds and stomach ailments. It is rubbed on cuts and acne.
Magickal Uses: Rub the blade of magickal swords and knives to purify them. Onion is protective and is uses as amulets in the home for this. Cut into halves or quarters, they absorb negativity, evil and disease. A decorative amulet to guard the home from evil is to take a small white onion and cover it with black-headed pins (this may be done in a design) and set it in the window. Use the dried flowers also as decoration and to protect the home or grow a plant in a pot for this. To use for healing, cut in half and rub on the afflicted part while visualizing the disease entering the onion. Then burn the onion or “smash” it into pieces and bury. New England settlers used onions to guard the home from infections by hanging a garland of them over the door. Placing a cut onion underneath the kitchen sink will do the same thing. Onions have been used as a cure for warts. Rub the wart with a piece of onion, and then throw it over your right shoulder while walking away without looking back. Use a large red (Bermuda) onion for protection from illness and aid in recuperation by tying it to the bedpost. An onion placed beneath the pillow will bring prophetic dreams and to discern the right decision, scratch the possible actions on an onion (one action per onion). Place them in the dark and wait to see which one sprouts first. That will be the answer.
Orange - (Citrus sinesis) Folk Names: Love Fruit
Magickal Uses: In China the orange is considered a symbol of luck and good fortune. Add the peel to prosperity powders, incenses and mixtures. Use in love sachets and mixtures; the dried peel and seeds for love affairs; the blossoms to those with the intent of a wedded bliss. Add the fresh or dried blossoms, or the distilled water from the flowers, to the bath to become more attractive. To gleam the answers to a yes or no question eat an orange. Then count the number of seeds. An even number, the answer is no; an odd, the answer is yes. Orange juice may be a substitute for wine at rituals. Drinking an infusion of orange peels will guard against drunkenness.
Orchid - (Orchis spp.) Folk Names: Levant Salap, Sahlab (Arabic), Sahleb, Salep, Saloop, Satyrion
One of the common flower symbols of love in Western culture. These plants are said to be the food of satyrs. In Greek tradition, Orchis, the son of a nymph and a satyr, was killed for insulting a Bacchanalian priestess. His father then turned him into a flower, orchid, which bears his name.
Herbal Uses: The root is starchy when gathered in the fall, and is nutritive for children and the bedridden. It is boiled with milk and water and flavored with sassafras, clove, cinnamon, or ginger and a sweetener. One part of the powdered root is mixed with ten parts cold water and then added to ninety parts boiling water to make a soothing demulcent for children’s diarrhea and fevers. Salep, the drink made from the roots, was once used to keep sailors alive on long voyages when food was scarce. The root is said to strengthen the genitals and aid in conception.
Magickal Uses: Orchid is a frequent ingredient in love spells and potions. Use the root in love potions—the fresh root to encourage true love, and the withered root to abort misguided passions. Burn the powdered root with musk oil for sexual passion. Add the flowers to wreaths, crowns, and bouquets. Place some of the root in the chalice. Certain types of orchids are uses in creating visions, trances and inducing psychic powers.
Oregano - One of the most popular herbs grown, oregano is an essential ingredient in cooking throughout most of the world. Oregano is actually a flavoring coming from the presence of the phenol carvacrol in a plant. So the name oregano is attributed to different plant species, distributed over several plant families. Oreganos come from all areas of the worlds temperate and tropical zones.
(Plactranthus amboinicus) Cuban/Spanish Thyme - Vary rare! This oregano is widely used in Cuba. The thick, large, succulent, light-green serrated leaves have an unusual flavor and scent of oregano and thyme.
(P. amboinicus) Variegated Cuban - Also very rare! Cuban oregano has beautiful variegated leaves of green and cream with pink serrated tips.
(Lippa micromeria) Dominican - This is an extremely rare oregano grown in Trinidad, the West Indies, Guyana and a few other parts of North Eastern South America. It also has the exotic flavor of thyme and oregano.
(Origanum vulgare ssp. hirtum) Greek - This is the ‘true’ oregano from Greece, with the most ‘true’ flavor. Widely considered to be the best for cooking. It is an essential in any kitchen herb garden.
(Origanum species) Italian - The flavor of Italian oregano is a delightful cross between the robust flavor of Greek oregano and the perfume-spicy flavor of sweet marjoram.
(Lippia graveolens) Mexican - The true oregano of Mexican cooking. Often sold as dried oregano in the United States and the only oregano found in Mexico.
(Origanum x majoricum) Turkish - A delightful culinary oregano, not ‘earthy’ like Greek oregano. It has a more heady, perfume scent and flavor. A very rare oregano.
Oregon Grape - (Berberis aquifolium) Folk Names: California Barberry, Oregon Grape Root, Rocky Mountain Grape, Trailing Grape, Wild Oregon Grape
Magickal Uses: Use this root by carrying it to draw money, financial security and popularity.
Orris - (Iris florentina) Folk Names: Florentine Iris, Queen Elizabeth Root
Magickal Uses: The root of this plant is used for attracting love, protection and divination. Carry the whole root; add the powder to sachets, sprinkle on your sheets, clothing and body and home. The powder is also known by the name “Love Drawing Powder”. In Japan the leaves and roots are hung from the eaves of the home or added to the bath for protection. To use in divining, attach a small piece of the root to a string, cord or piece of yarn and use as a pendulum.