Saturday, December 16, 2017

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Ivy

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Ivy

Gender: Feminine
Planet: Saturn
Element: Water
Powers: Healing, Protection
Magical Uses and History: Ivy has a long and rich history, dating back to the Druids and Ancient Greeks, and Romans. Ivy is both the plant of Dionysus and Bacchus (Greek and Roman gods of wine). In one tale of Dionysus, he punished a crew of pirates for their lack of reverence toward him by filling the ship with ivy and turning the oars into serpents. The pirates eventually lost their minds and drown themselves in the ocean. In Roman tradition, Bacchanals, worshipers of Bacchus, would become intoxicated from eating ivy and participate in orgies in Thessaly and Trace during October. In their drunken frenzy, they were said to have wrought havoc on the cities, tearing animals and children apart while carrying fir boughs wrapped in ivy. Furthermore, during the Medieval period, ivy was used to making an intoxicating drink, one still made at Trinity College in Oxford in memory of a deceased student. Surprisingly, ivy, if worn as a crown, was said to prevent intoxication. Ivy was even carved into goblets for the same purpose. As such, ivy can be used to both induce a trance-like state as well as prevent it depending on how you use ivy in your spells. 

Due to its Pagan associations, particularly with fertility, the Christian Church took a dim view of the plant. In fact, there are still countries that ban churches from using ivy in Christmas decorations. However, ivy is popularly regarded by Christians as one of the many plants to safeguard against witches. Ivy was often planted along a house and allowed to grow along the walls to prevent witches from entering. Its believed that ivy is a protector against negativity and disaster. Use ivy in protection spells and magic or plant around your home for the same purpose. While ivy growing on your home is beautiful, it's actually very damaging. English ivy is also very invasive, so not the best choice to grow in many gardens around the world.

One of the most famous Pagan traditions including ivy, however, is the battle between the Holly and Oak King. The Oak King, in some traditions, is also referred to as the Ivy King. One possible tradition accounting for this interpretation is an old English tradition of binding the last sheaf of the harvest with ivy. This bundle was referred to as the Harvest Bride or Maid of the Ivy. It is said to bring bad luck to the farmer who harvested late. The Holly Boy, however, is opposed to the Maid of Ivy. He was said to be the first over the doorstep on Yuletide morning, bringing with him good fortune, with Ivy in tow to bring good luck. Ivy can be carried by women for good luck or worn by brides to ensure a happy marriage.

Ivy was also used in divinatory practices, particularly around Yuletide. In one British divination spell, an ivy leaf is placed in a bowl of water and left for twelve nights, usually during the twelve nights of Christmas or Yule and later at New Year's Even to foretell good health or death. A leaf clean of black spots foretold good health while a leaf riddled in them was a sign of illness to come. If one of the spots resembles a coffin, then death looms in the future. The same was true for ivy boughs hung in the home. 

The clinging nature of ivy, which is also referred to as bindwood and love stone, also resulted in it being associated with love and fidelity. A single leaf of ivy and holly placed under the pillow was said to bring dreams of a future lover. Other charms say to place an ivy leaf in your pocket to meet your future partner. These divinatory practices can be used today or the leaves used in other love spells and rituals.

Finally, ivy is associated with death and bad luck which seems contradictory to some of its other correspondences. In American folklore, it was believed to be unlucky to give ivy to someone because it was thought to bring death and was thought to end friendships. In England, picking an ivy leaf from a churchyard was believed to invite death. Furthermore, ivy growing on a grave meant a number of things with regards to the deceased. Some say that ivy growing on a grave meant the person suffered from secret love sickness while others believe it means the soul is uneasy in the Otherworld. Either way, ivy can be used in spells to communicate with spirits, to bring about the death of something, or in curses.

Ivy can be used in a number of spells including:
     Love Spells
     Protection Magic
     Death Magic
     Good Luck Charms

Medicinal Uses: Ivy can be used to cure a variety of ailments including bronchitis, liver and spleen disorders, gout, burns and cuts, and warts. Research has shown that ivy leaf extracts increase oxygen in the lungs by reducing inflammation of the bronchial, especially in conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. In Germany, ivy leaf extract has been approved as an herbal decongestant. According to folklore, ivy leaves dipped in vinegar can be placed on warts, arthritic areas, gout, and minor skin wounds such as cuts and mild burns, to heal these ailments, sometimes overnight (according to legend).

Preparation and Dosage: Internally- For a tincture, take 5-10 drops 4 to 5 times a day. To make a tea, add 1 teaspoon of dried ivy leaves to a cup of water and steep for 10 minutes. Drink up to 3 times a day. Externally- To make a poultice, mix fresh ivy leaves 1:3 with linseed meal and apply to the wound. Folklore also suggests dipping fresh ivy leaves in vinegar and applying directly to the wound.

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