Called Milk thistle for its milky white veins, from which it earned its reputation, under the Doctrine of Signatures, as improving the milk supply of nursing mothers.
The Latin specific name - Marianum, links Milk thistle to The Virgin Mary - from the tradition that her milk once fell on its leaves.
Its genus name is a corruption of silybon, which was Pedanius Dioscorides' term for this herb. Pedanius Dioscorides was a Greek physician, pharmacologist, botanist and author of De Materia Medica.
Used to be grown as a vegetable. Thomas Tryon (The Good Housewife, 1692) said that,' They are very wholesome and exceed all other greens in taste.
A tall annual or biennial, grows up to 1-2m(4ft) in height with large, deeply lobed, spiny leaves with white veins & purple thistle, flowers in the summer.
Native to Europe, introduced elsewhere & naturalised in North America & other countries.
Found on dry, stony soils, in the field & by roadsides. Grows in any well drained soil in a sunny position.
Propagated from seed, sown in Spring & Autumn, self-seeds prolifically.
Parts used - Leaves and flowering stems - dried for use in infusions or for extractions of the active principle silymarin.
Medicinally - taken as an infusion to stimulate appetite and for digestive orders.
Contains compounds, known as silymarin - which is said to be effective as an antidote to toxic substances that cause liver damage.
Other names - Marian thistle, Cardus marianus, blessed milk thistle, Mary thistle, saint Marys thistle, Mediterranean milk thistle, variegated thistle, scotch thistle.
Increases appetite, aids in digestion.
Used by some drinkers of alcohol to cleanse the liver.
Used internally for the treatment of the of liver and gall bladder diseases, jaundice, currhosis, hepatitis & poisoning, including mushroom poisoning - especially the deadly mycotoxin of the Death Cap.
It takes 2 full years to complete its growing cycle.
Each milk thistle flower can produce almost 200 seeds, with an average of 6,350 seeds per plant per year.
The head is between 4-12 cm long, and wide, light purple in colour. Flowers from June to August in the northern hemisphere, Dec- Feb in the Southern hemisphere.
Young stalks, leaves, roots & flowers can be eaten. Root can be eaten raw or cooked - making sure to remove the very sharp leaf spines first.
When cooked, great substitute for spinach, flower buds can be cooked. Stems can be eaten raw or cooked, best peeled. Soaking is recommended to reduce the bitterness.
Can be used like an asparagus & rhubarb, or added to salads.
Roasted milk thistle seeds can be used as a substitute for coffee.
Gender - Masculine
Planet - Mars (in Aries)
Deities - Thor, Minerva
Strength, protection, healing, exorcism, hex breaking.
A herb of protection and vitality.
A bowlful placed in a room strengthens the spirits and renews vitality.
Can be carried for extra strength and protection.
They offer protection when grown in the garden or carried in the pocket.
Throwing them into a fire will deflect lightening away from your home.
Wearing a garment made from thistle will break any spell.
Poppets are also stuffed with thistle to break spells.
Use in healing spells and for depression.
It is said if a man carries one, he becomes a better lover.
A method of calling spirits is to boil some thistle, after removing it from the heat, be seated next to the bowl and begin to meditate. As the steam rises, so will your questions and their answers will be heard.
Wards off thieves when grown in the garden.
Grow in a pot by your doorstep to protect against evil
Milk thistle can be used in any magic where you are the target of any negative energy, for protection and blessing.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES USE THE SEEDS - UNLESS YOU ARE A QUALIFIED PRACTITIONER, OR YOU HAVE CONSULTED ONE!
A banish bad habits incense recipe:
2 parts Frankincense
1 1/2 parts Mullein
1-part Milk thistle
Burn during banishing rituals and spells, whilst visualising to break bad habits, can also be used as a sachet.
Exorcism / cleansing spell for home:
Take a large bowl of salt and sprinkle a pinch or two over the exterior doorways and windowsills of your home. Make certain to get every single one.
Choose the room with the strongest negative feel to it.
Light a white candle, in a large fire proof bowl combine the following:
1 tablespoon powdered garlic,
1 tablespoon peppermint,
1 tablespoon ground clove
1 tablespoon dried/powdered milk thistle,
handful or two of sweetgrass, sage or dried oak leaves.
Carefully light the mixture so that it smoulders, giving off an aromatic smoke. leaving the candle lit, carry the bowl in to each room and repeat the following,
" In the name of the eternal Lady and Lord,
I bid thee part,
I consecrate and clear this space.
Let nothing but Joy linger here."
When you have done each room, return to the first room, set the bowl beside the candle and wait for the remaining mixture to burn out. Take the ash outside and sprinkle it over the grass/flowerbed/compost, returning it to the Goddess.
)O( Gypsy Willowmoon Xx
The Kitchen & Garden Book of Herbs, By Jessica Houdret & Joanna Farrow
Image - Wikipedia