Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Magical and Medicinal Uses of Arnica

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Gender: Masculine
Planet: Sun
Element: Fire
Powers: Abundance, Banishing, Healing, Prosperity, Protection, Strength
Magical Uses and History: Arnica, also known as Mountain Daisy or Wolfsblume, bears no mention by Graeco-Roman doctors and herbalists, which seems odd considering the flower, native to Europe, can be found along the Pyrenees, Croatia, and Moldova. The first written record of arnica appears during the Middle Ages in 1558 where it is referred to as 'alisma.' It wasn't until 1625 that arnica was referred to its modern name by Medici, which was recorded as a note in Johann Jakob von Bergzabern's herbal where he described the flower as being used for "those who have fallen down or have hurt themselves while at work" which likely refers to its use to treat bruises, strained muscles, sprained ankles, and other forms of inflammation. As such, arnica is associated with healing magic, especially those related to the aforementioned ailments. Furthermore, the bright sunny flower has the potential to lift one's spirits, thus 'healing' an individual from depression.

However, arnica is more deeply associated with protection. While the most commonly known name for this plant is arnica, in its national language of German it is known as bergwohlverleih. The origins of this name is are unclear. Wohlverleih may mean 'wolf' or 'prosperity for all sorts,' both of which lend to its correspondences. However, arnica is also referred to as 'wolfblume', 'wolferley', and 'wolf murderer.' Fenris or Fenrir, the great wolf from Norse mythology, was foretold to kill Odin during Ragnarok, thus destroying radiance and bringing great darkness to the land. Whether or not arnica is actually capable of killing a wolf is unknown, but we do know that grazing animals that feed upon arnica become ill and some even die. During the Summer Solstice, arnica was often placed or planted at the corners of a field to protect all within. The Summer Solstice is associated with Odin, so this ritual can take on multiple meanings. First, it could legitimately be used to protect the fields from grazing wildlife as well as livestock from potential predators. Second, this ritual could be a sympathetic form of magic, protecting Odin from Fenrir. Needless to say, arnica is a potent protector and can be used during protection rituals and spells, whether in its whole form or as an incense, being a favorite to stuff into protection poppets.

Other folklore tells us the use of arnica at the Summer Solstice was to trap the Corn Wolf (Kornwolf), Rye Wolf (Roggenwolf), and Grain Wolf (Getreidewolf) spirits in the fields, preventing them from leaving until the grain was ready to harvest. Still, other folklore suggests that arnica was used to prevent these spirits from entering the field. Direct contact with these spirits was thought to bring illness and bad luck, so they were killed at the end of the harvesting season by trapping them in and cutting the last of the grain. These spirits were collectively known as felgeister and are part of a larger group of field spirits that includes a host of animals and human-like spirits. These same spirits were thought to also be wind spirits that cause thunderstorms. To drive away the thunderstorms, arnica was set ablaze while chanting "Set arnica alight, set arnica alight, thunderstorm take flight." Again, arnica was often called 'wolf murderer', and therefore burning it was said to drive those thunderstorm-causing wolf spirits away. As such, arnica can be burned to banish thunderstorms, hung in the home or planted in the garden to protect against lightning, or used in rituals to banish or protect against harmful spirits, particularly those that have a wolf-like nature. Furthermore, its use to protect crops, aka bring prosperity, lend to its uses in prosperity and abundance spells, particularly those associated with crop success. 

Apart from protection and healing, arnica can be used to bring strength to those that carry it or to your spells. Arnica grows along mountainous regions in Europe and North America, making it a hardy plant. There are a number of courses that cite that arnica can be used to increase psychic abilities. I cannot find any legitimate folklore suggesting this is the case. If you happen to know of some, please let me know!

Arnica can be used in a number of spells including:
    Protection Spells
    Banishing Rituals
    Weather Magic
    Crop Abundance Rituals
    Healing Spells

Medicinal Uses: Arnica, while not taken internally, is a potent healer of topical bruises, sprains, and mild arthritis. The flowers are commonly used in poultices and salves to treat the aforementioned ailments as long as the skin is not broken.

Preparation and Dosage: To create an external tincture, combine 2 ounces of fresh flowers with 1 pint or 0.5 liters of 70% proof alcohol such as vodka. Seal tightly, shaking every day for at least a week. For a more potent mixture, place in a warm, sunny place for 4 weeks. Filter and apply the solution topically to bruises, sprains, or other inflamed joints. Do not take it internally. To create a poultice, mash a handful of flowers with just enough water to create a paste. Apply directly to the affected area and cover with a cloth or bandage. 

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  1. Thoroughly lovely - and wonderfully informative - look at one of nature's prettiest natural healers. Much like their close relative the sunflowers, arnica is a plant that positively sings with the spirit of summer to me. A point, no doubt, made all the more true by arnica's resemblance to the sun.

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

  2. I use arnica for TMJ pain! It's amazing how well and instantly it works for me. Thank you for all of this wonderful information. I had no idea about the protection and weather magic uses. Powerful little plant!

    1. That's so awesome to hear! How do you use arnica to treat TMJ pain? Tincture, infusion, salve? I'd love to hear more!


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