Hearty greetings to all!
After seeing bath salts made from this flower in the store, plants at the flower shop, and learning that an entire month is named after this plant here in Poland, my interest was piqued- all the signs were pointing me towards this interesting plant
As my entry to the Weekly Witchy Challenge on Practicing Earth Friendly Magic, I would like to share my research about this very useful and interesting medicinal herb…
Intro to Heather
Heather seems to be more common here in Europe than it was where I grew up in the USA. A beautiful flower with purple/pink or white flowers, it seems that heather has played a susbstanial role in both daily life and folklore legends!
The Polish month September (wrzesień) is named after this plant for how prolific it is in the region. Heather can be harvested and fashioned into brooms, brushes, and even baskets to use around the house
Heather , ( Calluna vulgaris ), also called Scotch heather or ling , low evergreen shrub of the heath family (Ericaceae), widespread in western Europe and Asia, North America, and Greenland. It is the chief vegetation on many wastelands of northern and western Europe. The young juicy shoots and the seeds of heather are the principal food of the red grouse ( Lagopus scoticus ), and ripe seeds of heather are eaten by many other species of birds“
Scotch heather has purple stems, shoots with small close leaves, and feathery spikes of pink bell-shaped flowers. In sheltered places it grows to 0.9 metre (3 feet) or more, but on arid slopes it frequently rises only a few centimetres above the ground. The plant is distinguished from true heaths ( Erica species), which are sometimes loosely called heather, by the lobes of its calyx (the collective sepals), which conceal the petals; in true heaths the petals are longer than the calyx.”
[From the Encyclopaedia Britannica Entry on Heather]
There is a very comprehensive video on Heather from Herbarium Werdler on YouTube:
Not only useful in crafts, Heather also has a host of uses as a medicinal herb .
Heather contains tannins, arbutin, saponins, karotin, and the flavonoids quercitrin and myricitrin. It also contains the alkaloid ericodin.
This herb is an ancient remedy for urinary tract problems. It is thought to be good for inflammation of the urinary passages, prostate problems, such as prostate enlargement, bladder ailments and kidney stones.
The reason for this is probably because it contains a substance that removes excess uric acid from the body. Heather works well as both an antiseptic and detoxifier.
A hot poultice made from the flowering tips has been used as a treatment for chilblains, a foot condition.
Heather has also traditional uses as a mild sedative and as a sleep aid, usually in the form of tea. But as the herb can act as a diuretic, it is not wise to overdo the intake of the tea before going to bed.
In Telemark, Norway, there are reports that this herb was used as a hemostatic. Seeing bears wallowing in shrubs of heather when they were wounded might have led to this understanding.
[Picture courtesy of Pinterest]
”Heather can be used for magick involving maturity, consummation, general luck, love, ritual power, conjuring ghosts, healing, protection, rain-making and water magick. Heather is often worn or carried as a good luck charm. It is said that a sprig of white Heather placed in a special place of silence and meditation has the power to conjure ghosts or spirits. To do this, pick a sprig of white Heather at midnight, place it in a glass of river water in the darkest corner of your home. Sit and think of a departed loved one and it is said that the loved ones’ shadow will visit you.
In the language of flowers and the gifting of them, Heather means “admiration”. Heather can be used at Midsummer /Summer Solstice to promote love – carry red Heather for passion or white Heather for cooling the passion of unwanted suitors.
Heather is useful in Faery magick and is said to ignite faery passions and open portals between their world and our own. The fae honouring Heather are attracted to shy people.
I’ve been using a new bath salt with heather petals and have found that it really does soothe away aches, pains, and even helps with those awful menstrual cramps!
I enjoyed learning about this new herb, and I plan to continue using it in the future! Hopefully some of my fellow Green Witches out there may find some of this information to be of interest too
Blessed Be to All!