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5 Herbs for the Winter Solstice
Plant magick for the holiday season.
The Winter Solstice is a contradictory time of darkness and light, of celebration and shadow work. It’s easy to forget our connection to the earth when we’re so focused on ourselves and our interpersonal connections at this time, but keeping plant spirit in your arsenal of magickal tools can keep you rooted and stable while we deal with the upheaval of another year coming to a close.
There’s a lot of magick during December for closings, clearings, and new beginnings. There’s also so much symbolism around welcoming back the sun (in the Northern hemisphere), as our days will now slowly start getting longer. These five solar and/or fire herbs will help you connect to that Solstice energy for whatever working your heart may desire.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
Cinnamon is a star at this time of year. You’ll find it in plenty of baked goods, in mulled cider and wine, and even in lots of festive decor. This is because Cinnamon is a warming spice, perfect for heating up any cold night.
Probably due to its association with fire, Cinnamon is wonderful for adding to spells as an accelerant or to give a boost to the energy you’re raising, while also grounding you in the moment and the magick so you don’t lose that earthly connection. It invites prosperity, abundance, and success into your life, which is a mood for heading into the new year for sure.
Cinnamon has the added benefit of being wonderful for digestion and can help relieve bloating and stomach upset. Seems pretty perfect for a season of feasting!
Most cinnamon is safe for internal use; just make sure it’s designated as food safe and isn’t plucked from some decoration from the department store. Large amounts of cinnamon can increase bleeding in some people and should be taken with care while on blood thinners. Always check with your doctor if you’re being actively treated or taking medications. Straight cinnamon can also cause skin irritation; always dilute when using oil or powder topically.
Use Cinnamon by: burning as incense; taking internally in foods and teas; as a spell ingredient; diffusing essential oils; making potpourri and simmer pots; leaving out as decor (sticks, brooms, etc)
Hawthorn is one of my favorite plants to work with around this time of year. Another fire herb, Hawthorn is traditionally associated with magick, witches, protection, and magickal creatures. Its often used for making wands.
Keeping Hawthorn in your home is said to protect you from storms, spirits, and harmful magick. It can also be used in a shield spell to keep unwanted people from entering your home when placed near doorways. Hawthorn, it seems, is a nifty little charm for helping you create and maintain healthy emotional boundaries during the holidays.
And speaking of emotions, Hawthorn is a champion heart healer. Whether you’re address blood pressure and the cardiovascular system, or trying to treat a broken heart, Hawthorn eases emotional pain and helps encourage a speedy recovery. I have personal experience using hawthorn as a tea and an infused honey to help heal a broken heart a number of years ago, and it was the only thing that helped ground me and be able to breathe.
While you can use all parts of the tree magickally, the flowers, leaves, and berries of the Hawthorn tree are what we use internally. Please check with your doctor before working with Hawthorn if you have any cardiovascular issues or disorders, as it could have adverse effects or interact with medications. Otherwise, Hawthorn is very safe.
Use Hawthorn by: hanging in the home; taking internally as tea, infused honey, essences, tinctures, and tonics; creating charms and talismans; keeping on your person
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Chamomile flowers are like little mini suns, bringing fire and warmth into your home. I love working with Chamomile in magick during the dark months because of its association with sun energy, but also because it’s got strong associations with water – solstice & snow.
Chamomile is very calming and brings joy wherever you place it. It’s hard to look at the tiny buds and not smile! It’s wonderful to help you stay centered and happy during holiday events, spell work, or while doing any shadow work to close out the year. Plus, Chamomile is a very common ingredient in teas and can be purchased at basically any grocery store, so it’s very easy to get a hold of and won’t raise suspicions if you’re still in the broom closet around family visiting for the holidays.
Chamomile most commonly comes in two types: Roman and German. German Chamomile is what we drink as tea, though you can use either version for external magick. German Chamomile is considered very safe, and is even used with children for calming and mild pain relief. Use caution if you have allergies to plants in the Ragweed family, or if you take blood thinners.
Use Chamomile by: burning as incense; taking internally as a tea; as a spell ingredient; diffusing essential oils; making potpourri and simmer pots
Pine (or your local evergreens)
It may seem obvious to add Pine to the list, but it’s got some pretty amazing properties for this time of year beyond just being seasonal!
Pines and evergreens are associated with themes of life, death, immortality, and natural cycles. If you’ve got deep shadow work or emotional clearing to do, Pine can help make it a little easier and bring a little more clarity to the situation.
And speaking of clearing, Pine is cleansing and purifying, both energetically and physically! There’s a reason Pine is added to so many household cleaners – because it’s antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial. Pine is used to clean the home, drunk to keep the immune system healthy, and burned as a cleansing herb on par with traditional sage.
If you participate in the tradition of bringing evergreen trees into the home to decorate, and you know it came from a safe farm, you can even cut boughs and branches from your holiday tree to infuse in alcohol or vinegar for tinctures, essences, and cleaning solutions. Bless it with energy and you can use it to clean and cleanse your home at the same time.
When taking internally, always be sure you know how the tree was taken care of, what specific type of Pine it is. Then do research and contact your medical professionals to make sure the specific type is safe for internal use and that it won’t interact in any undesirable ways with your health.
Use Pine by: burning as incense; infusing for cleaning and cleansing solutions; diffusing essential oils; infusing for tinctures and oils; making potpourri and simmer pots; as a spell ingredient; keeping around your home in pots or decorating yearly for the holidays
Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)
Rosemary is one of my favorite magickal herbs and I think it gets overlooked, especially during the winter months. Its fire and solar associations make it an ideal warming plant, and it’s considered drying in many eastern medicine traditions, so it’s a wonderful compliment to a dark, cold, snowy season.
Rosemary is associated with memory and clarity of mind. It’s useful in spells and rituals with ancestral connection or if you need a little reminder of a different emotional state – whether that’s through deep healing work or just to remember that the sun will indeed rise again.
It’s another one that benefits from being a common kitchen herb, so keeping some around won’t raise any eyebrows. You can add it to food and tea and work your magick in more subtle ways.
Rosemary also boasts a number of other keywords and associations, such as protection, healing, love, and purification, so keeping some around at any time – but especially in the Solstice seasons – is a smart idea.
Rosemary is mostly safe, as a common edible herb. Avoid in excessive doses or with cases of epilepsy.
Use Rosemary by: burning as incense; diffusing essential oils; infusing for tinctures and oils; making potpourri and simmer pots; taking internally in foods and teas; as a spell ingredient; keeping around your home in pots or decorating yearly for the holidays
Whether you’re looking to ease emotional transitions, create and maintain personal boundaries, clear out the old before the coming new year, or even just enjoy the season a little deeper, these five herbs and plants (and the honorable mentions too!) can help you connect to the energy and manifest your dreams for 2023 and beyond.
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