Herbs for Hedgewitches: Chamomile

Chamomile Flowers (Matricaria recutita)
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A widespread folk remedy during the European middle ages, and considered something of a cure-all, chamomile has traditional links with several of the major witches’ holidays of the year.  One of the herbs traditionally gathered on May Day (along with mugwort, thyme, sweet woodruff, ground ivy, and bedstraw–all plants considered sacred to Freyja, and later the Christian Mary) to make aromatic beds for lovemaking, it is also numbered among the Midsummer herbs, and of course is one of the nine sacred herbs of Woden, as described in the 10th century Anglo-Saxon charm, and frequently included in smudging mixtures for purification and protection during the “raw nights” of Yule.

In herbal medicine, chamomile is well known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity, and as a gentle yet effective nervine.  Applied topically to the skin, it helps soothe rashes, itches and minor wounds.  Taken internally (usually as a tea) it eases menstrual cramps, calms the nerves, helps to settle upset stomachs, soothes teething babies, and brings on sleep. Used as a rinse for the hair, chamomile tea brings out blond highlights.  In aromatherapy, chamomile has been used as an anti-depressant since medieval times; the scent calms anxiety and hysteria and helps to relieve weariness and stress.

Magically, chamomile’s uses are less known.  With its golden-white blossoms and sweet apple-like scent, it has an affinity for the solar plexus chakra and can help restore confidence and relieve feelings of helplessness.  An herb of the sun, it brings solar power to spells for love, purification, uncrossing, and wealth.  Sprinkle chamomile around the house to ward off hexes, and call on the purity of Balder (one of the folk names for the plant is “Balder’s brow”) for protection.  In hoodoo, gamblers are advised to wash their hands in chamomile tea to purify them and bring luck in games of chance.  To boost the power of any commercial money-drawing oil, powder or bath, add some dried chamomile or chamomile tea.  To ward off nightmares, add chamomile to your bath water and sip a cup of chamomile tea before bed.

German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) also has strong links with the golden city of Asgard, home of the Northern gods, and can be burned with a written prayer or petition to carry your words straight to the gods, or used as a talisman in trance journeying or shamanic work in which Asgard is the intended destination.