St. John's Wort by Sue Perryman
Other names: Balm of warriors, Penny John, Touch and Heal, Save, Goat Weed, Amber, Grace of God, Holy Herb.
Planetry Ruler: Sun Element: Fire Astrological sign: Leo Gender: Male Magical Uses: Protection, cleansing, purification, exorcism.
St. John's Wort is one of many herbs associated with the Summer Solstice which is the traditional time to harvest it. The plant is a hardy perrenial which grows to 30-90 cms and is native to Europe, Western Asia and north Africa although it thrives in many more area's. St John's Wort thrives in most soils and will grow in either full sun or light shade. It has scented yellow flowers with tiny black spots and five petals which symbolize the pentagram. The leaves are pale green, ovate and covered in tiny perforations which you can see if you hold a leaf up to the light. It is grown commercially in some regions of South East Europe, but is classed as a toxic and invasive weed in over twenty other countries as it is poisonous to grazing livestock.
An infused oil made with the flowers will turn a beautiful shade of deep red. This can be used externally on bruises, wounds, varicose veins and sunburn, it can also help to ease the pain of neuralgia and sciatica. Please do a patch test first though as it can cause the skin to become irritated.
Although St. John's Wort has gained a reputation of being a treatment for depression it should not be taken internally without qualified medical supervision as there are serious concerns about it's safety so please check with your GP first. It can also cause your skin to become light sensitive which can result in a nasty case of sunburn.
So that's the health warnings out of the way. St. John's Wort is still a great addition to your magical herb collection particularly around the Summer Solstice. There is also quite a bit of interesting folklore surrounding it.
The name St. John's Wort is said to refer to it's traditional time for flowering and harvesting on St. John's day (just after the Summer Solstice) the red pigment that is produced from the crushed flowers was said to signify the blood of St John. However it seems this herb was considered sacred long before the Christians dedicated it to their Saint.
In the past people believed that St John's Wort would protect them from evil spirit's witches and ghost's. They would hang bunches of it in their homes and stables to keep their families and valuable livestock safe. It was also burnt in the fireplace to protect the home against lightening, storms and fire's.
Crusaders used St John's Wort to heal their wounds which is where the names 'Save' and ' Balm of Warrior's' originate.
Wearing a sprig around the neck was believed to protect against fevers.
It was also once believed that the plant would make people accused of witchcraft confess if it was placed in their mouths.
Magically, St John's Wort is a perfect addition to your Midsummer incense.
Use the plant in any protective magic.
The dried herb can be added to protection pouches, powders incense and oils.
Hang bunches of St John's Wort around your home, to repel negativity.
Add the dried flowers to dream pillows and sachets to protect against nightmares and aid sleep.
Make a St John's Wort infusion and use it to cleanse and purify your magical tools. This could also be used as a protection wash for your floors, doors etc.
Jekka's complete herb book - Jekka McVicar Hedgerow medicine - Julie Bruton Seal and Matthew Seal Herbcraft - Anna Franklin and Susan Lavender