I love working with herbs. When I first started working with them I went to Ebay and bought a huge assortment of herbs to use in my work. While some of the small, carefully labeled packets are still unused I have never regretted that initial purchase. There is nothing worse than not having the right ingredients for whatever I am working on be it oatmeal cookies, a good luck amulet or a spell bottle.
This week I chose to write about Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica ) as I am working on protection amulets for my Etsy Shop and Buckthorn happens to be one of the necessary ingredients for these particular amulets.
There are many type of Buckthorn, including both deciduous and evergreen varieties. The Rhamnus cathartica species, also called Common Buckthorn, is one of the deciduous types.
This particular shrub grows up to 25 feet tall, has green leaves and gray/brown bark. The black berries are slightly poisonous to humans but Buckthorn is still used to make an herbal laxative.
Buckthorn’s magical properties are: protection, wishes & good luck, legal matters and exorcism. Branches of the buckthorn, when place near doorways drive away the magical workings of others.
Parts used: Bark, branches, leaves and berries. Scott Cunningham notes that the bark must be aged at least two years before using internally.
Medicinally Buckthorn was used similar to Syrup of Ipecac is today, as a purgative for children however due to the severity of the reaction it fell out of use with humans. Buckthorn has also been used as a laxative in the form of teas, tonics or syrups with sweet ingredients added to make it more palatable.
In addition to its magical and medicinal properties, Buckthorn bark and leaves are used to make yellow dye to color fabrics and if collect before they ripen its berries, when mixed with gum-arabic and limewater, form the pigment ‘Sap or bladder green” for water color painters.
Scott Cunningham relays the following legend in his Encyclopedia of Magical herbs:
It is said that if you sprinkle buckthorn in a circle and dance within it under a full moon, an elf will appear. The dancer must notice the elf and say “Halt and grant my boon!” before the creature flees. The elf will then grant one wish.
Perhaps this will be part of my next full moon ritual, if I miss the elf at least I’ll have fun dancing and he’ll have fun watching from his hiding spot.Sources for this article: