By Teri “Cricket” Owens RN, BSN, MS
Earth connected spirituality comes in many forms for a reason. East Indian philosopher Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh once remarked that every person should have their own religion because humans are unique individuals who each walk to spirituality in an original manner. No two journeys are the same. That being said, those of us that worship and celebrate in an Earth based way, do have several common threads that pull us together.
Regardless of our chosen association with Spirit, all Nature related paths agree on certain basics which are linked directly to observing the world around us, such as: the four directions, the elements, the Wheel of the Year. We also look to traditions, to the words of our Elders and Ancestors; that which has shown to be true over the generations connects us, planetwide, to our Earth Mother.
Mid-March is the celebration of the Vernal or Spring Equinox, also known as Ostara. Just like the seasons, the Sabbats are an ever-turning, never ending circle. Each with their own place and meaning, they flow one into the next to make up the energy of an entire calendar year. Ostara celebrates the continued returning of the Light, as the days slowly become longer than the nights, and is actually the midpoint of Spring, not the beginning, as is popularly thought.
A subtle shift can be felt, both internally, and in the environment, as the last remnants of Winter begin to fade, and the purifying rains and winds of Spring wake the Mother from Her slumber. It is no coincidence that our thoughts turn to balance – to cleaning, refreshing, reenergizing both our spaces and ourselves. Whether we are Ceremonial Magicians in a Spiritual Community setting or solitary Practitioners, we feel personally drawn to honor and celebrate this change.
The Magickal Nature of Our Mother
Just as we find spiritual kinship in the natural world, we are provided magickal tools to help support this merging. Spirit animals, rocks and crystals, understanding of the elements and the four directions, and relationship with the plants all bring us to a deeper place both within and without. Some of these associations we learn through study and tradition, some by meditation and intuition, some via observation of the greater physical reality that surrounds us.
Among the earliest plants to emerge in Spring, is the Mint or Lamiaceae family. Their tender green shoots, poking through last Autumn’s wilted leaf bed, nourished by cool, clear rains, are one of the first signs of resurrected life. Many different plants are found in this hearty, square-stemmed family: cultivars such as Catnip, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Spearmint; spices like Basil, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme; wild plants including Bergamot, Hyssop, Self-Heal, and Skullcap; as well as the ornamental household garden plant Coleus.
Magick and Mint
Historically, Mints have a variety of uses magickally. Many can trace their roots back to ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Biblical times. For example: The botanical name for Peppermint, Mentha piperita, is taken from Greek mythology. It is written that the nymph Minthe seduced Pluto, but was later turned into a plant by his jealous wife, who then trod Minthe into the Earth. Pluto, out of love, turned her into an herb, so that she would be ever appreciated by humans. Look for Corsican Mint planted between walkway stones, so when you step on it, you receive the benefit of the cleansing smell.
Peppermint is a visionary herb, and can be used to raise the consciousness of the mind, to bring dreams, awareness, and prophesy, and to halt negative thoughts, divorcing us from their effects. Peppermint is popular in incense, teas, and as an essential oil. Always remember to add essential oils to a carrier oil or lotion, when using topically, to prevent skin irritations. Only very experienced practitioners should ever consider using essential oils internally, and only in diluted form.
Thyme, or Thymus vulgaris, can also be traced back to the age-old eras of the Egyptians and the Greeks. It is referred to by modern day magickal herbalist Paul Beyerl as “one of the most popular Greene Herbes of the kitchen”, carries the energy of the faery folk, and can help us to rebirth a childlike appreciation of fun in our lives. Thyme brings us courage, ambition, and protection. From incense, to tea, to essential oil added to homemade cleaning sprays, to fresh or dried seasoning included in the foods that we eat, working with Thyme is a very delightful way to bring a sense of magick into every area of our lives.
Hyssop, known as Hyssopus officinalis, has been considered an herb of protection for millennium. History tells us that brushes made of dried Hyssop bundles were used by the Hebrews during the plague to paint symbols over doors to protect their children until Moses led the people away. In today’s age we can hang dried Hyssop clusters in windows and over doors to guard against unwanted energies. Preserved bunches can also be used to make a Solomon’s sprinkler to distribute blessed or holy water throughout a Ritual or meditation space, or one’s home, to cleanse, reawaken, and anoint a chosen area. Hyssop essential or infused oil is an excellent magickal aid for rejuvenation and consecration. It can be used in everything from cleaning sprays to laundry and hand soaps, for the washing of hands, magickal tools, altar cloths, and garments, to bring a feeling of restoration and renewal.
Lavendula spp., common name Lavender, a popular scent in many products available on today’s market, from dryer sheets to bath soaks, is another member of the Mint family that traces its known origins back to bygone Egyptian and Biblical days. Although its primary magickal Sabbat is actually Midsommer, Lavender is known as a stabilizing herb, as well as a symbol of new life, peace of mind, protection, and purity. It attracts to us that which we desire, and adds a permanence to our magickal rituals and meditations. Lavender is a very versatile herb with a long list of historical uses including dried bundles, chaplets and wreaths, Solomon’s sprinklers, incense and potpourri, and essential oils for diffusers, and ritual baths. It is safe in pregnancy, perfect for use with children, and does not react with any known prescription medications.
What are you planting this Spring?
Plants and herbs can be very strong magickal allies. Applications are almost endless; we are only limited by our imagination. In addition to use in our Ritual or meditative practice, we really can include our chosen plant friends in every aspect of our lives, from cooking to cleaning, laundry to personal self care, bringing intention and magick to even the most routine of daily experiences. Select a Mint or three to intentionally work with and Spring ahead to magickally replenishing yourself inside and out, this Equinox.
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Cunningham, Scott, Magical Aromatherapy, (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1996), pp. 41-46, 96-97, 101-102, 124-125, 141, 153-160.
Cunningham, Scott, Magical Herbalism: The Secret Craft of the Wise, (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2002) pp. 110-111, 113, 119-121.
Elpel, Thomas, Botany in a Day: Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families, 4th edition, (Pony, MT, HOPS Press, 2001) pp. 130-132.
Foster, Steven, and Duke, James, A., Peterson Field Guides: Eastern/CentralMedicinal Plants, (New York, NY, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990)
McCoy, Edain, Ostara: Customs, Spells & Rituals for the Rites of Spring, (St. Paul,MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2002, pp. xi-xvi, 54, 69, 104, 127-140, 157-159.
Worwood, Susan, Essential Aromatherapy: A Pocket Guide to Essential Oils& Aromatherapy, (Novato, CA: New World Library, 1995), 143,159, 170.
Ms. Teri “Cricket” Owens RN, BSN, MS, received her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing in 1987, from Loyola University in Chicago, and worked as an ICU/ER RN for almost 30 years. She began studying health, wellness, and the herbal healing arts in 1995 and earned a Masters’ Equivalent Degree in Herbal and Chinese Medicine, from the Chicago College of Healing Arts, in 2004. Over the decades, Ms. Owens has enjoyed teaching health, wellness, and herbal learning classes to all ages. Subjects include wellness, hands-on cooking and medicine making, medicinal and edible plant ID walks, herbal first aid, and magickal herbalism for ritual, meditation, and everyday use.
Ms. Owens teaches in the home, at Community centers and area grammar schools, local nature centers and spiritual and meditation retreats, and in the field. She is the founder of EcoKids, a kids’ learning program focusing on herbal fact and lore, medicine making, and Earth ecology; co-founder of Laughing Lady Bug Botanicals, an herbal products web-based company; and one of the founding Organizers of the Midwest Herb Fest, a yearly weekend herbal learning event. She has published several articles in local journals and online.
Ms. Owens is mother to three grown children, who are off on their own adventures. She currently lives in southern Indiana and travels with her partner and lab manager, alchemist, speaker/teacher, and author, Timothy “KC” Wilkerson, on their groovy blue Skoolie, Rhonda.