SOCIAL MEDIA

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Herbarium: Magical and Medicinal Uses of Blackberry

blackberry, herbalism, herbal remedy, magic, witchcraft, herb magic, green witchcraft, hedgewitch, herb magic, herb magick, magick, magic, occult, wicca, wiccan, pagan, neopagan

Gender: Feminine
Planet: Venus
Element: Water
Powers: Healing, Money, Protection, Virtue
Magical Uses and History: Blackberry, also known as bramble, is a member of the Rubus genus which includes other aggregate berries such as raspberries and blackcaps. Rubus is derived from the Latin ruber meaning 'red' and the Proto-Indo-European wr̥dʰo meaning 'sweetbriar,' both references to the nature of the plant from its reddish stems to the sweet fruits tucked in a bush of thorns. For the sake of this article, I will be discussing Rubus fruticosus, although blackberry is the common name for a large number of species, all of which have similar magical and medicinal uses. Blackberries were well known across Europe and North America, which led to folktales about the plant spreading as quickly as a bramble bush across a hedgerow. 

Much of this folklore focuses on when blackberries were safe to eat and how they got their black color. Across much of Europe, it was believed that eating blackberries after Michaelmas, which fell on September 29th or October 11th, was unlucky and could even lead to death. After Michaelmas, the blackberries belonged to the fae, witches, or the Devil, even though after these dates any blackberries left were likely rotten anyway. Some people believed the day after Michaelmas, the Devil placed his cloven hooves on the blackberries, cursing them black. In Scotland, it was believed the Devil covered blackberries with his blackened cloak, while yet other areas of Europe believed the Devil spit on them, making them poisonous. Still, other tales recount the Devil trampling patches of bramble in a fit of rage and cursing them on St. Simon's day so that no berries would grow after this date. If it weren't the Devil doing the dirty work, it was witches or fae creatures cursing the late crops of blackberries and leaving them unsafe to eat. As such, after Michaelmas, blackberries were left to rot on the vine, acting as an offering of sorts.

It was these same beings that were attributed to turning the berries black. Some folktales say when Lucifer fell from Heaven, he landed in a bramble bush and cursed the plant by spitting on it. Others suggest the briar crown placed upon Jesus's head was made of bramble and his blood stained the berries. As such, some cultures viewed eating blackberries as taboo or unlucky and thus avoided them all together. With this in mind, blackberries can be used in baneful magic to curse and poison depending on your needs. Even so, the blackberry was often used in folk healing rituals and remedies.

Blackberries were used to cure an assortment of ailments, from rupture to snake bites to whooping cough. Children suffering from rupture were passed through naturally-formed loops of bramble to cure them, while charms of bramble were made to protect against whooping cough. Passing through natural bramble arches was also thought to cure boils, whopping cough, blackheads, and jaundice. A person would pass through the arch nine times while saying, "Under the briar and over the briar, I wish to leave the chin cough here." or whatever ailed them in the bramble patch. Poultices and salves containing blackberry flowers were applied to snake bites to pull out the venom. One charm noted by Graves states blackberry leaves could be used to treat scalding. Nine blackberry leaves were dipped in spring water and applied to the affected area while reciting the following charm: "There came three angels from the east, one brought fire and two brought frost. Out fire, in frost. In the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." Young shoots were picked and peeled and chewed on to cure coughing, asthma, mouth ulcers, and even heartburn. Like the raspberry leaf, blackberry leaf was also drunk as a tea by pregnant women to aid in pregnancy and childbirth. As such, brambles can be used in spells and rituals for healing, especially those related to the mouth and lungs.

The blackberry is also associated with protection due to its thorny nature. Blackberries were planted over graves to prevent the dead from walking or around the home to protect against thievery, evil spirits, vampires, and witches who would be compelled to count all the berries before entering. Wreathes of brambles were placed on the doors of barns and houses to protect those inside from witches and evil spirits. It was believed that any spirit attempting to pass through the wreath would become trapped within it. Dried bramble was also placed in milk buckets, much like rowan, to protect the milk, while the leaves were burned during a wedding to protect the newlywed couple from bad luck and ill wishes. In the Balkans, bramble roots were kept in the home as a protective charm and were thought to bring good fortune and prosperity to the home. As such, brambles can be used in protection magic and charms. Create wreaths and pentacles out of dried brambles and hang in your home for protection against negativity, ill wishes, and unwanted guests. Use the thorns in ritual oils and washes to cleanse, purify, and protect yourself and your tools. Add large dried thorns to protect jars and bags.

Due to its invasive and quick-growing nature, the blackberry is also associated with prosperity and money. Passing through a bramble arch and dedicating yourself to the Devil was thought to bring good luck and fortune when playing cards or gambling. Others believed passing through the arch would bring good luck and good health, likely due to the arch acting as a 'portal.' Those that passed through it nine times were believed to transfer their ailment to the bush. As such, blackberries and their brambles can be used in transference magic, whether for healing, good luck, good fortune, or cleansing yourself or your tools. Blackberry leaves were also carried on a person or used in spells to attract money and the berries were baked into pies to bring abundance and prosperity, especially during Lammas or Lughnassadh. They can be used for the same purposes today.

Finally, the blackberry was associated with divination and dream magic. Dreaming of walking through a bramble patch meant you were in trouble while dreaming of picking blackberries foretold of illness in your future. If you dreamed you were being pricked by blackberry thorns, it meant you and yours had secret enemies. If the pricks drew blood it foretold of poverty and financial difficulties but if you were left unhurt then it was a sign that you would triumph over your enemies.

Blackberry can be used in a number of spells including:
    Protection Spells
    Baneful Magic
    Healing Spells
    Prosperity Magic
    Dream Magic
    Divination

Medicinal Uses: The root and leaves of the blackberry plant contain tannin which acts as an astringent and tonic, helping to treat dysentery and diarrhea as well as cuts and mild skin abrasion. Blackberry leaves, roots, and stems are also anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial and can be used as a mouth rinse for mild mouth and throat irritation. 

Preparation and Dosage: Internally, blackberry can be taken as an infusion, using either the root or the leaves, or as a tincture. To create a root infusion, combine one ounce dried blackberry root with 1 cup of boiling water. Allow the mixture to infuse for 10 minutes. Drink 2-3 times a day. To create a leaf infusion, combine 1 teaspoon dried blackberry leaf with 1 cup boiling water and infuse for 5-10 minutes. Drink up to three times a day. Tinctures can be made using the berries or leaves (3 parts blackberry material to 1 part alcohol). Take 1-4 milliliters up to three times a day. Externally, blackberry leaves can be used as a salve, poultice, or compress.


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blackberry, herbalism, herbal remedy, magic, witchcraft, herb magic, green witchcraft, hedgewitch, herb magic, herb magick, magick, magic, occult, wicca, wiccan, pagan, neopagan


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4 comments :

  1. The free copy isn't loading. :-(

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    1. Should be working now! Sorry about that!

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  2. You can also tincture the root. It should be ground up as much as possible and then weighed in order to make the tincture in appropriate ratios of root:alcohol:water. I always use everclear when working with roots and let them sit 6-8 weeks.

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    1. Fantastic alternative to an infusion! I have never used the root to make a tincture and may have to when I inevitably have to dig up some of the blackberry bushes. Thank you for sharing!

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