Long summer days are here – at last!
I’m lucky where I live that there are wooded areas, the sea and miles of hedgerows and footpaths a short distance from where I live.
The footpaths are just how I like them this time of year – skinny brown tracks flanked by greenery up to 6ft high and sometimes more. Cow Parsley, Burdock, Nettles, Bindweed and grasses! I love walking through them like that, they are magical! Footpaths like that appear in my meditations – winding and twisting and leading to many faraway places...
One of the many plants that is abundant is grass. Grasses come in many forms – from the manicured lawns to the wild meadows dotted with clover and daisies and the tall grasses of the fields and hedgerows. I thought I’d try and identify some of them and find out some magical and healing properties.
The first I found was mouse barley, also known as fox tail, wall barley or false barley. Very widespread in England and Wales and it can grow up to 30cm in height. Here in the UK, when we were kids, we called them ‘flea-darts’ as we used to throw the aphid laden flower heads at people (namely other school kids) and because of the velcro-type feel of the spiny head parts, it used to stick to the ‘victim's’ jumper or their hair!
Its traditional medicinal use was a decoction that was used in the treatment of bladder ailments.
Next up is False Oat Grass. I like this one – soft and fluffy! Again, it grows on verges, field edges and grasslands and can grow to a whopping 1.5m tall. I couldn’t find any medicinal properties with this one but it is used as a food for cattle.
Next is Cocksfoot – recognisable by its pinky purple heads that resemble a bird's foot – hence the name. This can grow up to 1m. Its leaves are quite sharp and will cut if pulled the wrong way – ouch! It is said to have a sweet taste if chewed – although I would be careful with those sharp leaves.
Medicinal properties include treating tumours, kidneys and bladder ailments.
Soft Brome or Lopgrass – another tall growing grass that looks a little like barley. There are many species of brome and look similar with their grey-green leaves and flowerheads. No medicinal properties found.
These are just a few examples of the many grasses to be found growing just about everywhere. They are very important for the wildlife - large and small.
There are many magical uses for grass – the long grasses make excellent witch's ladders, they can also be used for binding spells. The seed packed heads can be worked in fertility spells, for new ideas and projects. The heads and cut up dry stalks also make a wonderful addition to incense for abundance and for promoting psychic powers.
Long grasses can be made into poppets similar to corn dollies – petitions put inside and put on your altars at Lughnasadh or ignited in your Lughnasadh fires!
Take some photos while you are out and about this summer and try to identify those that you find – it’s fascinating!
Rachel Patterson's A Kitchen Witches World of Magical Herbs and Plants