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Thread: Yarrow, A Sacred Herb of Midsummer

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    Eala Freia Fresena
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    Yarrow, A Sacred Herb of Midsummer

    This is the yarrow millefolium:



    Yarrow is one of the main herbs sacred to midsummer. It is sacred to August and is a beloved medicinal plant. Yarrow tea tastes slightly bitter and spicy, and is a mild diaphoretic, if taken as part of a treatment, it will help rid the body of toxins. Yarrow lowers the bloodpressure, disinfacts the urinary tracts is anti-inflammatory and relives cramps. Because of its properties it stimulates the entire digestive system and increases bile production. In other words it is a true health tonic. It was also taken during the middle ages when the plague, the Black Death, was making it's rounds.

    It is also used for wound treatment and thus known soldier's woundwort, knight's milfoil, nose bleed, bloodwort etc.

    Hildegard von Bingen treasured the plant, called Garwe then,(means: making healthy) for external and internal wounds, to quell the flow of blood and tears and for insomnia. the plant contains tannic acids, which contract and are astringent, helping the wound to dry and encourages coagulation. It counters the excretional elements of wound bacteria. Yarrow also contains the oil azulene, which is inflammatory.

    The english herbalist Nicholas Culpepper (1616- 1664) describes it as 'binding and drying, for weak kidneys in men and discharge in women.

    As a tea it has been used by women to regulate discharge or by prolonged heavy menstrual bleeding.

    women also used this plants for oracles/divination, when they wanted to know the men who was going to marry them. then they cut it from an unusual place (graveyard, fork in a path etc), put it under her pillow and whispered:

    The first yarrow I picked there
    In the name of Christ I picked it right
    And as Jesus thought of Mary with love
    Let my beloved appear in my dream tonight.

    The herb in prechristian times was dedicated to Freya as a medicine and women's herb. The tender leaves belonged to the 'green nine' (die gruene Neune, a group of herbs used in springtime for ritual and health reasons). Soups or cakes from yarrow were made and consecrated to Freya to greet the greening of the earth in Spring.

    Love oracles used the leaves of the yarrow. In order to know whether a distand boyfriend behaved, a girl spoke the necessary words: yarrow, yarrow, if my beloved is good, neither water nor foam comes, otherwise red blood.
    she would then turn a leave 3 times around her nose. If she got a bloody nose, her lover stayed true. The fact that the tips of the leaves had tiny prickers truly helped in that divination.

    Also before the Benedictiner monks introduced hops for beer brewing the northern europeans used yarrow and other bitter herbs for the flavor and preservation of the beer. As a brewing herb it was more dedicated to the Thunderer, to Thor.

    Taken from a book by Wolf-Dieter Storl.
    weel nich will dieken dej mot wieken

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    Senior Member Weitgereister's Avatar
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    We have really invasive yarrow out at my grandmother's farm. It grows in looking pink and red. The stuff spreads like wildfire...I guess I should start saving it!

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    Thanks for bringing that back. I was introduced to yarrow by a 70 year old australian who was convinced he was going to live for 150 years from eating goto cola. He said that the romans plantd yarrow on the side of their roads because it gave courage, apparently.

    btw that aussie fought in the malaya war.
    'you're all just visiting' -the good shepherd

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    As a herbalist, I already knew about Yarrow's healing properties, but I had no idea about all the other stuff. It's interesting to read about a history of a plant ^^

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    Yarrow

    Great post Ocko, I planted yarrow last year on a patch of ground in half shade and of pretty poor quality. The Yarrow has taken there really well and is now in full flower - yes it is invasive but as hardly anything else wants to grow on that patch it is a welcome area of green and white and pink. Thanks for the additional information too about Freya - my daughter is named Freya and we re about to celebrate her 1st birthday soon so I know what I will be using as decorative bowers!
    “unless they know, mystically, that beneath the concrete lies the earth which has nourished their race for a thousand years and ... that it is their own earth from which their blood is shed and renewed, then they are a lost people, and easy prey for those who have lacked roots for many centuries"
    A. K. Chesterton

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    Eala Freia Fresena
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    @ Astrid

    The british Isle version of the divination is:

    The maiden cuts the yarrow at midnight with a black handled knife, places it under her bed before going to sleep and says:

    Thou pretty herb of Venus' tree
    Thy true name it is yarrow
    now who my bosom's friend must be
    pray tell me tomorrow


    From Halliwell's popular rhymes
    weel nich will dieken dej mot wieken

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    Thanks for the very interesting post, Ocko. I have never heard of this yarrow, but I will have to get some asap. Do you think it's available for purchase in stores?

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    Don't know but it grows everywhere and right now in August it is blossoming.
    weel nich will dieken dej mot wieken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ocko View Post
    Don't know but it grows everywhere and right now in August it is blossoming.
    I don't know if I would want to ingest anything I found growing by the side of the road, or on a random field. There are too many chemicals around these days. It's just not very safe.

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    Thanks for sharing. I see it comes in colors besides white as well. I'll have to look for it along the roads. (I wouldn't mind growing some.) Of course, the ragweed may choke out everything else this time of year. :/

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