The Magickal Buckthorn Tree

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @iseabail_witchwriter

One of the first questions which pop up under ‘People also ask’ if you Google Buckthorn Tree is “Is Buckthorn good for anything?” .  Really? I felt quite indignant! Aren’t all trees good for something, if not multiple things? Maybe having a Druid father makes me feel indignant over that question, however, should you be one of those who might ask this, let me very patiently explain just what the Buckthorn tree is good for… and hopefully the people who do ask that question routinely will find satisfying answers here 😊

Buckthorn Flowers
Buckthorn flowers ~

The Buckthorn [Rhamnus cathartica] tree is native to countries from the central British Isles south to Morocco, and east to Kyrgyzstan.  It is also native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia.  Mature trees can grow to a height of 10m, with grey-brown bark and spiny branches. The leaf buds are conical and black brown in colour, and form on long stalks. Buckthorn is dioecious, meaning male and female flowers are found on different trees. Flowers are yellow green with four petals and are pollinated by insects.  It is similar to alder buckthorn [Frangula alnus] but purging Buckthorn has opposite leaves and Alder Buckthorn has alternate leaves.

Purging Buckthorn is the main food plant of the brimstone butterfly whose caterpillars eat the leaves. Its flowers provide a source of pollen and nectar for bees and other insects, while its dense growth makes it a valuable nesting site for birds. So, yes, it is good for something, our Buckthorn!

Buckthorn Berrys
Buckthorn berries ~

However, in many places it seems to take over wherever it lives.  Not only in the UK but mostly in the US where the common Buckthorn lives [brought over by the English back during the Great Pilgrim Migration]  is a bit of a nuisance.  Whilst birds [and sometimes mice] do eat Buckthorn berries, it’s often because it’s the only available seed source. But Buckthorn berries are not a good food source for small birds. They’re low in protein and high in carbohydrates and produce a severe laxative effect in some animals. For smaller birds, the laxative effect can even be strong enough to result in death. Adding insult to injury, the excreting birds also end up distributing the Buckthorn seeds over long distances. And, that means more Buckthorn.

Now you might see why it is called “purging Buckthorn” sometimes…

Let us talk about magickal uses now!


Tess Whitehurst, in her book The Magic of Trees, calls the Buckthorn “a Taurus with an Aries rising” because it is a tree which is stubborn enough to see anything through.  Sometimes, in magick, we really need that kind of tenacity!

Buckthorn Seedlings
Buckthorn seedling ~ 

It is said that if you wish to de-hoard your home but can’t get the energy up to do so, place a 50p coin [or a 50 cent piece in the US or anywhere else which uses 50 cent coins] at the base of a Buckthorn tree.  Then, ask permission of the Buckthorn tree to snip a branch from it, doing so with love.  Use this branch to purify the air in your home before starting the task of decluttering, moving through each room using an anti-clockwise sweeping motion. When finished, give the branch back to the earth by laying it on the ground.  Start small… clear out one small space, such as a cupboard.  Continue choosing one small space to clear as you feel more up to it until you have de-hoarded every place in your home. And, if it works as well as I think it should, you might well be motivated to clear your home much sooner than you first imagine!

Buckthorn is likewise a good ally in beginning any kind of endeavour, whether a new business, new job, or anything in which you feel you need extra “sticktoitness”.  I would suggest doing the same ritual as above, only “sweeping” yourself with the branch.  I would also snip off a small piece of the Buckthorn branch and use it as a talisman to help you keep motivated but still leave the largest piece of the branch to the earth outdoors as described above.

If beginning any kind of new project, whether for work or school, visit a Buckthorn tree at noon.  Empower a crystal [one which has powers of success is best, such as Citrine] with your intention, holding it in bright sunlight if possible.  Imagine yourself feeling joyful and successful in embarking upon this project, working faithfully until complete.  Imagine your success and the honours it might bestow, and your satisfaction of a job well done.  Empower the crystal with all the confident feelings you have and when you feel this is complete, bury the crystal at the base of the Buckthorn, then pour an entire bottle of red wine around the tree’s roots.  Yes, you can use a cheap bottle 😊

According to Dioscorides, placing branches of Buckthorn around doors and windows drives away all evil sorceries committed toward you.

According to Scott Cunningham, it is wise to carry a piece of Buckthorn with you to all  court and legal matters and as a general good luck generator.


Planetary:  Saturn [Mars, according to Whitehurst]

Zodiac:  Sagittarius

Gender:  Feminine [Masculine, according to Whitehurst]

Element[s]:  Water [Earth, according to Whitehurst]

Powers:  Protection, Exorcism, Wishes, Success, Legal Matters, Strength, Tenacity

Deity:  Ran,  of the Vanir

Other Names: Purging Buckthorn, Common Buckthorn


Sadly, my go-to for all things herbal/tree/spice related information, Nicholas Culpeper, has no writings of Buckthorn so no words of wisdom from him.  However, I think you may have gotten the idea above that Buckthorn is an effective laxative.

Word of Caution: If you suffer from a bleeding disorder, Buckthorn berry can be dangerous, as it slows down blood clotting. Also, if you already are taking blood pressure medication or suffer from hypotension, this berry might not be a great choice. As always, you should speak with a medical professional before making any major changes to your diet.

That said, the berries of the Buckthorn are thought to be a preventative to many diseases and problems such as aging, anti-cancer, cholesterol, circulation, diabetes control, heart health, stomach problems, vision health and a vitamin C boost.

But please, do not just pluck the berries off from a tree and start eating them.  In a case like this, once you have a thumb’s up from your GP, order a proper supplement from a reputable vitamins and supplements dealer.

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


Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs, by Scott Cunningham

The Magic of Trees, by Tess Whitehurst

From the Wortcunner’s Cabinet, Liquorice Root

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @iseabail_witchwriter

I don’t normally write about herbs/spices/woods/roots that are more predominantly used in HooDoo/Conjure spells or witchcraft as I’m not 100% familiar with this kind of sorcery, however, I have a love affair with Liquorice root which I must write about!  No matter what kind of witchcraft you’re into – Green, Hedge, Kitchen, etc – this root is easily applied to most in one form or another.  And, most of all, it can be an excellent health aid when necessary.

Liquorice Allsorts
Liquorice Allsorts ~ heaven!

Liquorice root [Glycyrrhiza glabra], which means “sweet [glykys] root [rhiza]” in Greek and “glabra” is Latin for “smooth”, is a legume. It is native to the Mediterranean and parts of  South-West Asia and particularly to the Indian subcontinent, where it is called “Mulethi”.  It is a perennial herb/spice that grows to over a metre and a half tall.  It is not botanically related to Anise, Star Anise, or Fennel, which are sources of similar flavouring compounds. As many of you know, Liquorice root is the primary flavour you find in… Liquorice! And, growing up, I was the odd child who adored Liquorice Allsorts, along with horehound, and boiled sweets of any sort.  Most children were after anything with chocolate in it, but not the oddity that was my small self.


Liquorice Root
Liquorice Root ~ Photographer Unknown

The first thing you’re ever taught in little witches’ school is to carry a piece of Liquorice root in your pocket to attract love.  I highly expect that was from back in the time when a young lad would smell the sweet scent of Liquorice and be extra nice to the young lady who smelled of it!  But oh, is there ever much more you can use Liquorice root for.

In HooDoo, it is used primarily for compelling or dominating someone.  I personally don’t do this kind of magick, but if you do, this apparently is the one for making a lover do your bidding or anybody for that matter.   It is alleged to grant the bearer control over a person or situation. Because of this, Liquorice root is an ingredient in formulas used for controlling others, including Commanding Powder and Essence of Bend-Over Oil. I read that one can mix Liquorice root with Commanding Powder and sprinkle it around the room where they will meet someone they wish to control. You can also add Liquorice root to a conjure bag filled with so-called Love-Herbs, in order to dominate in a love affair. And, of course, chips of Liquorice root can be burned as an incense while doing a domination candle-spell.

Not judging those who wish to practise this kind of magick, but not my cup of tea.

A way to use Liquorice root/powder that is more up my street is that you can use it in spell-work to empower yourself and to strengthen your own will.  By this, after enchanting the root or powder for your purpose to strengthen your will or to empower you to do a necessary task, make a tea of it and as you drink, imagine yourself having the power to pass that test or to ace that job interview.  If you feel your will has been lagging, the same principle applies.  Or, if for health purposes you feel you should not drink the tea, you can either sprinkle it over yourself before the task.  You can also carry the root in a pouch which you have already cleansed and consecrated and enchanted for your purpose – yes, much like a HooDoo mojo bag.


Planet:  Mercury, says Culpeper; Cunningham says Venus

Gender:  Male [Feminine according to Cunningham]

Zodiac:  Gemini and Virgo

Element:  Fire [Water according to Cunningham]

Powers:  Love, Lust, Fidelity, Commanding, Control, Domination

Deity: Cliodhna, Freya, Hathor, Eros, Pothos, Mercury

Other Names:  Lacris {Welsh], Lycorys [probably medieval English with a Latin bent], Reglisse [Welsh], Sweet Root


In Nicholas Culpeper’s book, The Complete Herbal and English Physician, he writes:

Liquorice Plant
Liquorice Plant ~

It [Liquorice] is under the dominion of Mercury.  Liquorice boiled in fair water, with some Maiden-hair and figs, makes a good drink for those that have a dry cough or hoarseness wheezing or shortness of breath, and for all the griefs of the breast and lungs, phthisic or consumptions caused by the distillation of salt humours on them  It is also good in all pains of the reins, the stranguary, and heat of urine: The fine powder of Liquorice blown through a quill into the eyes that have a pin and web [as they call it] or rheumatic distillations in them doth cleanse and help them.  The juice of the Liquorice is as effectual in all the diseases of the breast and lungs, the reins and bladder, as the water, with some Gum Tragacanth, is a fine licking medicine for hoarseness, wheezing, &c.”

[Reins, if you’re wondering, dates back to Biblical times as the name for the kidneys]

Exactly as it is still used today.  As in regard to Fisherman’s Friend throat lozenges which contain sugar, liquorice extract, menthol, eucalyptus oil, dextrin, tragacanth, and capsicum tincture.  And, believe me, these work a treat on any sore throat and cough.

For most of us who use the holistic approach to medications, a simple cup of Liquorice tea will do a world of good.  And the good thing about Liquorice tea is, apart from all its healing qualities, that you do not need to add sugar.  Liquorice root is said to be fifty times as sweet as caster sugar which you would normally use in your tea.  There are more than 300 different compounds in Liquorice, some of which have antiviral and antimicrobial properties.  It is said to help eczema, impetigo, cellulitis, and folliculitis which are believed to be caused by Staphylococcus aureus. 

Other uses for Liquorice [not only the root but the leaves as well] is for stomach discomfort/ulcers, Hepatitis C, and tooth decay.  It was found that an extract containing glabridin and glabrene, which are flavonoids present in Liquorice root, is effective in relieving stomach discomfort. The extract reduced nausea, stomach pain, and heartburn. Glycyrrhizin may help treat hepatitis C, a virus that infects the liver. Without treatment, Hepatitis C can cause inflammation and long-term liver damage. Researchers have reported that glycyrrhizin demonstrates antimicrobial activity against hepatitis C in cell samples and may hold promise as a future treatment for this virus. Doctors in Japan have used the injections in patients with Hepatitis C which improves their health where no other drug does.  Some research suggests that Liquorice may help kill bacteria in the mouth that cause tooth decay.

And, of course, Liquorice is phenomenal for soothing a sore throat and many people think of Liquorice as a sore throat remedy, as such.  To prove a point,  a small study recruited people who were having a breathing tube inserted into their oesophagus before surgery. Following its removal, the breathing tube can cause a postoperative sore throat, known as POST. The researchers showed that gargling a Liquorice solution for 1–15 minutes before surgery was as effective as a ketamine gargle in reducing the incidence and severity of POST.  Another similar study found that solutions with a higher concentration of Liquorice were more effective than less concentrated solutions in improving POST.  I know which I would rather gargle with in light of all the bad business with ketamine!

Now, for the side effects and admonishments, which you know are coming…

Number one – if you have high blood pressure, it is best to avoid Liquorice tea or any product with real Liquorice in it [many sweets claiming to be Liquorice are flavoured with Anise oil as it tastes similarly].   Recently in the UK, a woman fell ill with nausea, headaches, and dizziness.  When she went to her GP she was diagnosed with hypertension.  It was caused by her drinking three cups of Liquorice tea a day!  As soon as she stopped drinking it, her symptoms disappeared.  Please, DO NOT make this mistake.  Yes, it is a delicious tea but too much of a good thing is not good as we all know.

I won’t tell you not to have a cup of Liquorice tea if you only use it for a sore throat or cough if you use it in moderation.  Even if you do have mild high blood pressure.  My blood pressure can get a bit spikey at times, but I would never avoid the Liquorice tea altogether if I needed it.  Still, I do want you to be forewarned that it is not a drink to have because you like it.  It is, in my mind, a completely medicinal tea and should be used only as such.

With that said, if your potassium levels are low, it is recommended not to eat or drink Liquorice as it causes your potassium levels to lower.   This can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, swelling, lethargy, and worst still – congestive heart failure – the path that poor woman in Sheffield was headed toward drinking three cups of the tea a day!

Pregnant women should not consume large quantities of Liquorice or take Liquorice root as a supplement. One study found that the glycyrrhiza in Liquorice could harm the developing brain of the foetus, leading to cognitive problems later in life. An older study found that heavy Liquorice consumption during pregnancy could lead to preterm birth.

Potential drug interactions

drugs that lower potassium

blood pressure medications

diuretics, also called water pills

heart rhythm medications

blood thinners, such as warfarin [Coumadin]

oestrogen, hormone therapy, and birth control pills


Please always use any tea or supplement under the advice of your healthcare provider.  Unless you are a licensed holistic or Aruyvedic practitioner, or at least a long-term practitioner of holistic healthcare, you may not always know what does or doesn’t work well with prescription medications.  Please do not take any chances with your health.

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


Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs, by Scott Cunningham

The Complete Herbal and English Physician, by Nicholas Culpeper

The Magickal Maple Tree

Originally posted on 12/09/17 via

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Chew Valley Trees, UK – Field Maple

Some may not think of Maple as being magickal, particularly if they live in Europe or the UK. There are mainly two Maple genus’ which are native and almost native in the UK and those are the Acer Campestre or Field Maple which is native to Britain, and the Acer Platanoides, or Norway Maple which is a naturalised tree in the UK. Both are quite different from the Acer Sapindaceae which is native to North American countries, the US and Canada, and can produce the sap from which Maple syrup is made. If I’m correct in thinking, there are still around 127 other Maple species in the region. However, whether they all produce sap for syrup, I do not know.

Sticking to North America for a short bit [and to tempt your taste buds] the Native American symbolism of the Maple, Acer Sapindaceae, is that of offering, generosity, balance, promise, and practicality. The Maple tree was of importance to the Algonquian tribes of the north-western United States and western Canada, who developed the art of processing Maple sap into Maple sugar, Maple syrup, and taffy candy.

Maple trees hold the wisdom of balance, promise, love, longevity, money, and practical magick. Special for its sugar and syrup it represents success and abundance, most likely because the Native Americans used it in trade and could purchase goods with their syrup when no coin could be made or spared.

Maple has both feminine and masculine energy. Libra and Virgo consider this tree to be sacred. Associated with the elements of Spirit and Water. Planetary Associations: Moon, Jupiter.

The great horned owl is the sacred bird of this tree.

Magickal Properties: Some cultures primarily use Maple wands for spiritual healing. Maple is a traveller’s wood. It enhances intellectual pursuits, acquiring knowledge, and communication. Spells concerning art, beauty, binding, and abundance should consider using this wood. The gipsies [travellers] believe Maple brings gold and that eating the seeds draws love.

Maple Bark
Maple bark from our Etsy shop ~ photo by i.macy

A peaceful wood used for purity and healing. Seeks a strong, devoted companion who cares for others. Excellent for cleansing spells, for use in money and luck spells as a base for loose incense, inside a poppet or in witch bottles. Maple reveals the options – even those that are hidden in plain sight – which lay before you. It enables you to make sound choices rather than rely on blind luck. It is also a wonderful wood for divination, and therefore, we shall soon be making pendulums with Maple.

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

Some sources include:

Encyclopaedia of Magickal Herbs by Scott Cunningham