In my last article Don’t Shoot the Mistletoe, I discussed the reverent collection of this sacred plant for witchy, pagan, spiritual uses. Now, let’s talk about the folk practices and magickal uses of mistletoe around the Winter Solstice for healing, love and fertility, and protection from harm…including werewolves! What?
Once you’ve respectfully collected Mistletoe with a non-ferrous tool, with consent of the tree, prayers and offerings, never letting it touch the ground, then what? There are so many traditions that use mistletoe – which was clearly a revered plant in the ancient world, and continues to be both enjoyed around the holidays as a decoration, and studied for modern medicine!
Robert Graves in his book The White Goddess introduced a thirteen month Celtic Tree Calendar in which December 23 was associated with Mistletoe just for that one “Midwinter” Day.
Mistletoe was one of the most sacred plants to the Druids, and was commonly known as all-heal, and used to increase fertility in both people and animals. It was also used to attract good luck, and defend against evil spirits.
According to Witchipedia, Mistletoe may be useful in spells to attract love, protection, success in hunting, for forgiveness and reconciliation, to increase sexual potency in men and to help women conceive and carried as a general protective amulet.
Planetary alignment is with the Sun and Jupiter, and the elemental alignment with air. I’ve also seen mention of association with Mercury. It is said to have primarily male energies, but there are some female attributes, too. The white berries of mistletoe when paired with the red berries of fresh holly, make a nice yin/yang pairing that is reminiscent of the red and white ribbons of the maypole, and often used in fertility magick, symbolizing procreative functions of menstrual blood and semen.
I’ve read that a custom in British Paganism, is to string mistletoe in the home with a red ribbon, for protection against disease or harm during the winter, and to then burn it on Candlemas, also known as Imbolc, to further the spell of home protection at the height of winter. I put this tid-bit to work in the amulet instructions including below.
In my research, I’ve found countless suggestions on-line for ways to add mistletoe to magickal preparations that are meant to be consumed. There is a lot of lore around the ancient pagan uses of Mistletoe as a tonic with restorative properties. However, I am alarmed by how few of those sites offer warnings about the potentially toxic and dangerous aspects of this plant medicine. Please, do not attempt to prepare these tonics for consumption without the aid of a medical professional. I found this warning on organicfacts.net:
“Word of Caution: Again, the particular variety of mistletoe used in herbal remedies is very important. Only purchase mistletoe extract from a trusted and trained herbalist or medical professional. The injection of the extract should only be done by a professional or by an individual after appropriate training. Before adding a strong substance like mistletoe to your health regimen, always speak to your doctor to ensure that it’s a good choice for you, based on your current health.” ()
That being said, there are many healing benefits from mistletoe – and therefore a magickal practitioner can appeal to the SPIRIT of this potent plant ally to work energetically with them to restore their health or to protect them from disease. The dried plant material can be added to saches and other healing charms.
“There are an incredible amount of health benefits of mistletoe, including its ability to treat cancer in a number of ways, prevent diabetes, soothe 11 Amazing Benefits of Mistletoe bydistress, calm the nervous system, lower , promote good sleep, eliminate inflammation, increase immune system activity, reduce snoring, and decrease menstrual pain.” Source
Love and Fertility: Kissing Under the Mistletoe
Kissing under the Mistletoe is believed by some to have begun in the first centuries of the common era, during the Roman festival of Saturnalia.
In England, kissing under the Mistletoe eventually became associated with Christmas. Bundles of Mistletoe would be hung in the home, and if one stood under the bundle, the Victorian social stigmas against public affection could be temporarily suspended. Now that is some liminal power! It is said that the man would pick a berry when the kissing was complete, and once the berries were gone, there was no more kissing. The mistletoe would later be burned on the twelfth night of Christmas to ensure that those who kissed under it would marry.
According to Richard Webster in his book Flower and Tree Magic (Llewellyn 2008) there are two other possible origins of this tradition: Celtic and Norse. “…the Celts used it as a symbol of peace. Enemies who met in the forest beneath the mistletoe would kiss each other and be friends for at least that one day. Another possibility comes from Norse mythology. Balder, God of the summer sun, was killed by an arrow that had been poisoned by mistletoe. His mother’s tears of grief created the white berries…When Balder was resurrected, his mother was so happy that she hung up mistletoe and kissed everyone who passed beneath it.”
Mistletoe Protection: Werewolves?
Burn Mistletoe to banish unwanted spirits. Lay it across the threshold of the bedroom to banish unpleasant dreams. Hang in the home in a central location, like over the hearth or the doors, to drive away negative influence.
“Mistletoe has always been considered a magical, good luck plant…A sprig on your person will ensure good luck, protection and fertility. Hanging it in the home was supposed to protect it from disease, lightening, werewolves and having your children switched with faerie changelings.” Herbal Riot
I dunno about y’all, but I hate it when werewolves show up at Winter Solstice, esprcially the years when the Long Nights Full Moon coincides with the sabbat. Look out!
According to Herbal Riot, in Voodoo, Mistletoe has two major uses: Protection from Evil and Love Drawing. It may be combined with jinx-breaking herbs such as Rue and Oak Wood, then burned for Keep Away Evil spells. Or, for a True Love Powder, finely powder mistletoe along with the herbs Verbena and Elecampane.
I didn’t know what Elecampane was, so I looked it up and other names for it are Alant, Aster, Aunée, Elfdock, Elfwort, Horse-Elder, Inula, Scabwort, Velvet Dock, Wild Sunflower, or Yellow Starwort.
Both blends can be added to mojo bags, burned or used in all kinds of creative ways. <wink>
Long Nights Full Moon Mistletoe Amulet
The Full moon that my coven celebrates when the sun is in Capricorn is called the Long Nights Moon. Last night I led our coven in an esbat rite, where we each bound a few sprigs of mistletoe with holly with a red ribbon. Then we each decided what it’s purpose would be for our homes, and then charged them. Mine is now hanging over my Mantle as part of my Yuletide pentacle wreath. For a fragrant addition to the bundle, you can add a cinnamon stick, which brings the protective energies of fire to the charm, and three ingredients is a happy number in my witchcraft.
Here is a charm you might use to charge your own Mistletoe amulet.
Shining Long Nights Moon
brightening the night
Kindly grant this boon
I ask of thee tonight…
Now, state your intention for the amulet!
As I will, it is so. SO MOTE IT BE!
In addition, consider waving the amulet briefly and carefully through the flame of consecrated “fire” candle, and touch it gently to your Deity statues, as you pray for their aid in your magick. I would also burn an herbal incense blend selected for the same magickal purpose, and make sure to bathe the amulet in that smoke for a cleanse and charge. Allow it to dry while hanging in the home until Imbolc, and then burn it in your Sabbat fire to further the protection spell throughout the winter.
May the luck of Mistletoe keep you safe and warm this winter season,