From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet, Dittany of Crete

By Isabella @TheWandCarver
Instagram: @thewandcarver

So, last week we wrote about how Elm [please keep in mind this blog was written three years ago at a different time in the year] was very much a love tree so keeping along those lines whilst springtime still has many thinking of love, what do you know about Dittany of Crete? Most would probably say “astral projection” and you would be quite right! But, it is also a love herb!

dittany of crete
Dittany of Crete ~ Courtesy of Google Images

Dittany of Crete hails from the Mediterranean and grows wild only on the Aegean isle of Crete. It is a small and fuzzy perennial, with beautiful pink flowers that appear in the summer. In Cretan tradition, it symbolises love and is thought to be an aphrodisiac. The local name for Dittany is “Erontas,” referencing Eros. It grows only in the most inconvenient places— on the sides of cliffs and gorges. If a young man wished to truly prove his love to a young woman, he would “climb any mountain” [wondering now if that is where that line from the song came from?] to gather a bouquet of the fragrant herb to present to her. As the legend goes, these young men were known as “Erondades” [love-seekers]. To obtain a bouquet of Dittany, it was said, you had to truly be in love. I only hope they were met with satisfactory results!

Warnings come with many of my writings, therefore, I feel this one must come early on – Beware the sellers of Dittany of Crete. It is best to buy directly, however, there are a few reliable re-sellers. It is a very, very expensive herb. I have seen some unreliable types on certain venues selling everyday Oregano for Dittany. Yes, they are technically cousins, but they are far from being the same. Do your research before buying.

Magickal

It is said if you burn Dittany on a charcoal disc along with Dragon’s Blood resin and stare at the rising smoke, you will see the face of your intended love. This same incense can be used to spice up a stale love life in the bedroom. You can make love poppets or sachets with the herb along with lavender and other herbs which encourage love. In European folk magick, Dittany is regarded as a consummate love herb. Feeding it to your intended is supposed to cause them to fall irretrievably in love with you.

Dittany of Crete dried
My dried Dittany of Crete ~ photo by i.macy

Dittany is perfect for manifestations of spirits when burned as incense. It can be mixed with equal parts of vanilla, benzoin and sandalwood to make an astral projection incense. It is believed to produce spirit manifestations in its smoke. Soon we will be offering a Samhain Hedge Rider Incense in our Etsy Shop for this purpose. All I can say now is that it won’t be as simple a recipe as the one above and will have not only the ability to travel through the veil but to be protected whilst there as well.
The leaves can not only be burned as incense but can also be burned in the All Hallow’s Eve fire when seeking communication for wisdom from the other side. Dittany is associated with the Underworld and is related to Persephone, Orris and other deities who assist with transport into that realm.

For divination, Dittany can help with the activation of your Third Eye, and it has a traditional use in its ability to help manifest our psychic vision. You can make a poultice of the leaves to rub on your Third Eye or use a Dittany of Crete Oil. Fresh Dittany can be used to make an infusion with a basic oil such as olive oil or sunflower oil.

According to Scott Cunningham, the “juice of Dittany” will drive away venomous beasts, so rub it on your body before entering their domains.” I’m guessing that applies to mossies or any kind of biting or stinging pest. And, as far as I know, perhaps it extends to snakes and the like as well. Personally, I just prefer to stay far and away from the realm of venomous beasties!

Healing

dittany-of-crete
Dittany of Crete ~ HerbalGreece.com

Dittany of Crete has been used in times past as an external poultice for wounds and bruises. It has antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties due to the phenol carvacrol. Nowadays it is used for digestive tract disorders including cramps, stomach problems, and worms in the intestines. It is also used for urinary tract and genital tract disorders. A beverage of this herb relieves headaches and neuralgia. Other uses include treatment of epilepsy, spasms, fluid retention, and liver diseases. Please consult with your GP before attempting to diagnose and heal yourself at home. There may be more serious illness at hand than you would know of.

Correspondences:

Planetary: Mercury and Venus
Zodiac: Libra and Gemini
Gender: Masculine and Feminine
Element: Air and Water
Powers: Divination, Manifestation, Love, Astral Projection, Protection
Sabbat: Samhain
Deity: Eros, Venus, Mercury, Artemis, Persephone, Zeus
Other Names: Hop Marjoram, Erontas, Hop Plant

“A branch of healing dittany she brought, Which in the Cretan fields with care she sought: Rough is the stem, which woolly leafs surround; The leafs with flow’rs, the flow’rs with purple crown’d” From Virgil’s Aeneid

Many thanks to all who read this and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:
Experience
Cunningham’s Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
Wikipedia.org
Herbalgreece.com

The Magickal Spindle Tree

Originally posted on 23/11/2017 via speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

I have a theory about Sleeping Beauty’s fateful finger prick on the spindle in her 15th year of life – besides the one in which I think she was far too young to be kissed by princes – is that the spindle was poisonous by Nature. And, this is true of the Spindle tree…it is quite a poisonous tree, mainly the leaves and berries but I wouldn’t want to prick my finger on the wood, either…just incase!

How was the Spindle tree so-named? From my research it seems the major consensus it that William Turner concluded, this being from The Old English Herbals, by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde, 1922:

I coulde never learne an Englishe name for it. The Duche men call it in Netherlande, spilboome, that is, spindel tree, because they use to make spindels of it in that countrey, and me thynke it maye be so well named in English seying we have no other name. … I know no good propertie that this tree hath, saving only it is good to make spindels and brid of cages ” [bird cages].

Woodland Trust

The Spindle tree, and it’s leaves and berries, has been used over the centuries for many medicinal purposes. Everything ranging from appetite stimulants to nits [head lice], and horse/cattle mange. As before mentioned, the tree and its parts are very poisonous, so it would be better left in favour of other, safer options for these ills.

It has also been used for many household items in addition to its namesake reason, spindles, and other items such as bird cages, and even toothpicks.

The Spindle tree is found in many countries – albeit, named differently in each, I am sure. To America it was brought from England several centuries ago to be used in gardens and eventually became known as the Arrow Tree. I can only imagine it was as useful for making arrows there as it was for making spinning wheel spindles in Britain and other parts of the world. The Spindle tree is found mainly in hedgerows in Britain but has become very useful as an ornamental tree as well.

Spindle is also one of the trees of the Ogham alphabet. It is not one of the Celtic Birth Tree Ogham, but one of the five extra Ogham. It was declared there were not enough sounds to cover all human speech from the other Ogham, therefore, OI or TH, from the Irish Oir, was created. In the diagram of the Ogham, you’ll see it encased in red. It is the 22nd letter of the Ogham. OI represents the Spindle tree. It is also associated with lightning. It has been said it eases the pain of labour and birth. In modern times it has come to be associated with wealth and inspired knowledge.

According to authoress Sandra Kynes, Whispers from the Woods, Spindle is a symbol of magic in the Norse Pagan tradition. Another name for the constellation Orion was “Freya’s Spindle”. Spinning is associated with the Goddess Athena because she is credited with being the inventor of spinning and all womanly arts. The spindle was the tool of the Fates, daughters of the Goddess, Necessity [the Mother of Invention], who fashioned the destiny of humans.

Magickal:

Can be used effectively in cleansing rituals to heal old emotional wounds. Spinning and weaving spells that bring people together. Confronting one’s “shadow self” or when facing difficulties. Spindle tree wood makes an excellent pendulum for divination.

Correspondences:

Element: water
Deity: Athena, Frigg/Freya, Minerva, The Fates
Energy: feminine
Sabbat: Imbolc
Attributes: attaining quests, cleansing, divination, honour, inspiration, spiritual work, feminine power, seeking true self, community spirit
Other names: Spindleberry, Pegwood


Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources:
The Old English Herbals, by Eleanour Sinclair Rohde
Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes
Druidry.org
Wikipedia
Woodland Trust