To mark the 1st Annual Fairy Festival happening this Saturday at our own Arcata Plaza, we would love to make #herbalwisdomwednesday all about the wee magical folk around the world and the plant & herbs associated with them.
When many of us think of Fairies, we imagine the tricky sprites, pixies and elf-like creatures from the Gaelic-Celtic-Northern European traditions and, naturally, many of the plants and trees native to those areas are associated with them. A couple of examples include:
-Foxglove (Digitalis) have also been called Fairy Gloves and Fairyweed and the little spots inside the flowers are said to be the tracks of teeny fairy feet. While we know that Foxglove are extremely poisonous, it has had marvelously effective applications for patients with certain heart conditions (*Do NOT take without the guidance of a qualified medical professional).
-The Rowan (Sorbus spp. - called Mountain Ash in North America) is truly a tree out of Celtic Fairy myth. Thought to be brought to Earth in ages past by the Tuatha de Danann, it is considered a gatekeeper to magickal realms and a wise protector....particularly of travelers. It is a member of the Rosaceae family and the tart red berries are quite edible and contain Vitamin C and antioxidants.
The Native peoples of the Americas had their own "wee folk" such as the Mialuka of some Plains tribes, the Kwanokasha of the Choctaw, and many of the cultures had a similar relationship to them as their European counterparts. The fairy folk could be marvelously helpful in times of need, but usually they were quite fickle with their aid and could be equally as destructive. In many stories they set about to test the character of the protagonist and this test would reveal their true nature and destiny. Thus, they were treated with a healthy wariness and respect. There is a widespread tradition of each plant having its own spirit. We may be familiar with Corn Maiden and the Lady’s Slipper but did you know that Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) was often cited as a trickster character in the manner of Coyote and Raven. Medicinally, the nettle leaf was used to treat skin ailments, mask odors, imbue vitality and acted as a powerful dream herb.
The Aziza are benign magickal beings from the area of Africa that is now Benin. They are forest folk who provide practical wisdom to the people and good fortune for hunters. They were said to live in ant hills and silk cotton trees (Ceiba pentandra). The bark of the silk cotton trees were used for headaches, as a diuretic and aphrodisiac.
The Yaksha of the Indian subcontinent are as broad of a category as the European term “fairy”. They have that same dual-nature as their fae counterparts over the world. A dhup or incense of Guggul (Balsamodendron Mukul) is quite agreeable to them. Guggul has been used as an astringent, anti-inflammatory, and anti-septic and has many other medicinal properties.
We hope you enjoyed this quick and very incomplete fairy tour of the world. If you have a favorite fairy character that we missed, let us know in the comments below!
Find out more about the Fairy Festival here:
#moonriseherbs #arcatafairyfest #arcataplaza #humboldt #fairyfolk #fairybusiness #fairyherbs