Herbal Grimoire: St. John’s Wort

Image source: botanical.com

*Please note: this is not a monograph, and I am not an herbalist. This is an excerpt from my herbal grimoire, and the writings of a Witch. It is intended to supplement your own research and studies.*

Name

Who is Saint John?

St. John the Baptist Preaching in the Wilderness by Anton Raphael Mengs

Saint John, also know as John the Baptist, was a Jewish preacher in the 1st century AD. Christian scholars believe he baptized Jesus, and the Gospels portray him as a precursor or forerunner to Jesus. According to the New Testament, he was beheaded by Herod Antipas sometime between AD 28 and 36 for rebuking Herod for divorcing his wife and unlawfully marrying the wife of his brother.

Saint’ John’s Wort is named after this religious figure because the flowers usually bloom on or around June 24th, which is believed to be Saint John’s birthday. The crimson liquid exuded by the plant is believed to be a symbol of the blood spilled from his beheading, and the five yellow petals resemble a saintly halo.

Scientific name: Hypericum perforatum

Hypericum comes from the Greek word hyperikon, which means “over an apparition”, referring to the belief that this herb warded off evil spirits. Perforatum refers to the pinhole perforations found in the leaves and petals.

Identification

Image source: Wikipedia

“…the leaves bear pellucid, transparent dots along their green surfaces…” – Michael Moore

An herbaceous perennial found in uncultivated ground, woods, hedges, roadsides, and meadows. May be found blooming throughout summer. The flowers are bright yellow, an indication of the healthy virtues of this herb. If you crush the flowers, they exude a crimson-purple liquid. The leaves have tiny pinhole perforations, which you can see if you hold one up to the light.

Remedial Qualities

Energy and flavors: cool, bitter

Systems affected: liver, nervous system

Properties: sedative, anti-inflammatory, astringent, antidepressant

Saint John’s Wort is used to treat pains and diseases of the nervous system, and can relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is one of the best herbal therapies for those experiencing depression and numbing frustration, as a result of feeling “stuck in a rut.” Topically it works well as an all-purpose ache and pain reliever.

Magickal Qualities

Gender: masculine

Planet: Sun

Element: fire

Powers: health, protection, strength

Saint John’s Wort is considered an Herbe of Protection, which history dates back to the early Greeks. It may be tossed in the hearth or fireplace to bring protection to the home (it would also be an excellent addition to an incense blend created for use in protection magick). It may also be placed in a jar and hung by a window or doorway to prevent malevolent spirits from entering the home. It may be used as an amulet to be worn on the body for protection and/or good health – also to attract love, and cure melancholy. It is associated with the element of fire, and may be used in magickal works to commune with fire spirits. Gather and dry the herb over a midsummer bonfire as part of your seasonal celebrations.

Preparations

“A tincture of the flowers in spirit of wine, is commended against melancholy and madness.” – Culpeper

For depression: combine equal parts powders of St. John’s Wort, red rose petals, and lemon balm. Take two “00” size gelatin capsules every two hours for no more then three days in succession, tapering off to three times daily as symptoms subside.

To make a tincture: Gather the flowering tops, chop these up and fill a glass jar with as much herb as possible. Cover herb with 100 proof vodka (fill jar til almost overflowing). Screw on the cap, store in a cool, dark place (such as a kitchen cabinet). Strain after six weeks. Take 20-30 drops, up to three times per day.

To make an oil: Gather flowering tips, set them loosely in an open paper bag for a day, then chop them well and pack them into a jar with olive oil. Store away from sunlight in a warm place for 2-3 weeks. Strain well, squeezing with a cloth to extract as much oil as possible.

To make a salve: melt one cup of infused oil with one ounce of beeswax in a double boiler. Pour into jars, allow to cool and cap. Combines well with Arnica and Poplar Bud oils as an all-purpose ache and pain reliever.

Additional notes:

Do not ingest if you gather this herb from roadsides. Instead, you may dry it, to be used in incense, amulets, witch bottles, etc.

Infused oil for cold sores: apply one drop to affected area to prevent cold sores from developing, or to manage nerve pain and speed recovery.

Anointing oil for Protection (infused oil) – in my experience, when anointing yourself with St. John’s Wort oil, it will bring about protection in unexpected ways (as is often the case with magickal workings), but in exactly the way you need it. St. John’s Wort is an herb of blessing and healing, and when worked with respectfully, will bring profound transformation when it comes to inner strength and boundaries.

You may also purchase St. John’s wort salve and anointing oil from my shop.

St. Johns’ Wort Salve

Sources

Moore, Michael. Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press, 1993.

Beyerl, Paul. The Master Book of Herbalism. Blaine: Phoenix Publishing, 1984.

Tierra, Michael. The Way of Herbs. New York: Pocket Books, 1990.

Cunningham, Scott. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1990.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_the_Baptist

https://www.herballegacy.com/Nelson_History.html

https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/sajohn06.html

Green Blessings,

S.

Witch’s Brew: Bath Soak and Herbal Wash

Here is a simple blend of some of my favorite herbs for a bath soak, herb wash, or floor wash. Bathing (including showers) when done with intention, can be a ritual in itself – for purification, grounding, protection, meditation, and dream work, to name a few. Adding herbs to your bathing experience is a wonderful way to set this intention. Here’s an overview of the herbs included in this blend:

Mugwort – lucid dreams, psychic awareness, inner vision, protection 

Lavender – inner calm, peaceful mind, increased awareness, stability, restful sleep

Rosemary – memory, clarity of mind, strength, protection

Juniper berries – good health and energy, purification, protection

Rose petals – love, romance, opens the heart chakra

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It smells amazing.

For this particular blend, I find the best times to use it are just before going to bed, or as preparation for meditation and ritual work. Obviously any time that suits you is great. I have found it to be good for dream work, psychic vision, and grounding. If you are feeling particularly toxic by the end of the day, this is a good choice for “cleaning the day off”! And I recommend trying it at least once prior to meditation, see how it affects your experience.

Here is the recipe and instructions:

Recipe:

1/2 C Mugwort
1/2 C Lavender
1/2 C Rosemary
1/4 C Juniper Berries
1/4 C Rose Petals

Instructions:

If you have a mortar and pestle, grind the herbs a bit to release more of their aroma and oils. If not, I recommend at least crushing the juniper berries with the flat side of a knife (similar to crushing garlic). Combine your herbs in a bowl and mix together well. Store in a jar until ready to use – it is enough for 2 baths or one very potent bath!

When you are ready to use your Witch’s Brew, get a large pot of water boiling. As the water heats, prep your blend. You’ll want a large muslin drawstring bag, cheesecloth, or a clean dish towel. Fill the muslin bag with at least 1 cup of the blend, or, if using cheesecloth or dish towel, place it in the center of the cloth and pull up the corners and sides – use string or a rubber band to close. Once your water is boiling, take it off the heat, add your sachet to the water, and cover with a lid. Let steep 10 min. Get your bath water water running, and, once the brew is done steeping, add it along with the sachet to your bath. For extra detoxification, add 4 cups of Epsom salts to your bath as well.

For an herb wash (if you don’t have a bath tub):

Follow the process above, bring the pot of infused water with you to the shower with a bowl or large cup. Take your shower (I recommend exfoliating too) and at the end rinse your body (and hair!) with the brew using your cup or bowl.

For a floor wash: this is a good one for cleaning your house for protection, love, and good energy.

Follow the steeping process above, add brew to your mop water along with your usual cleaner and 1 cup of sea salt.