Thorns, Poppys and Living Things Within

3:07:00 PM

Poppy, the Chinese "plant of joy".... Aphrodite's Tears, Demeter's Gift, Milk of Morpheus, Hypnos' Hypnotic, Minoa's Crown.  Feminine, saturn, sun, moon, air, water, love and dreams, the poppy (particularly the California poppy) is sacred to my immediate family.   It's an emblem, a tutelary spirit and a personification of an ideal resilience and beauty.  Back home in the desert, poppy flowers of mixed varieties populate every road side and hillside for stretches of miles all summer and they wind up on the altars of Our Lady and Corn Woman alike. They grow under the orange trees, in the willows and along the tall grass.  Papaver sominiferum, oriental and common poppy and all other related ones receive the same adoration and favoritism in our personal gardens and art.

"There was another species of Capnomancy which consisted in observing the smokeraising from poppy and jessamin seed, cast upon burning coals."Demonologia, Or, Natural Knowledge Revealed: Being an Exposé of Ancient and Modern Superstition (1831) by J. S. Forsythe

While the flowers get put to use in my work for the benefit of phila, the seeds and pods are used in dream work, to invoke or purify, to deliver messages or even confusion.  I use poppy seed to receive messages in dream, while the pods can be used as protective amulets, in bone sets or even to store herbs.  Mostly, they're to house the oneric spirits on the altar who seem to enjoy the dreamy smell and cool shade of the poppy.  In my collection is eleven bottles, each with a different year of poppy from my sister's garden on my mother's property.  Eleven years worth, all for the benefit of honoring our ancestors and familial spirits come the autumn each year, when the dead move.  As the seeds age and their smells evolve, they get added to the batch in small increments.  The smoke is used in a form of capnomancy after dream work.

"To know the future, or how any event will turn out, or whether or not you will win in a lottery, get a dry poppy pod, and, making a hole, let out all the seeds. Place a paper inside, on which your question is written then put it beneath your pillow and repeat: ""In the name of the heavens and the stars, and the moon, May I now dream, and that full soon, If this I see. (Here tell you wish)Pray tell to me!"" You will surely dream all you wish to know."-Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World by Cora Linn Daniels

The Dame Darcy Mermaid Tarot is a treasure.  It reminds me of a fortune teller under a dock in Atlantic City or Coney Island.  It's diverse and oceanic and contemporary... I'm a fan.  Blessing it with seaweed infused salt, storax, sandalwood and oceanspray incense, rue and mugwort, and Aphrodite oil was the right move.  This will function as my new public deck, and I'll be retiring my art decks to the private parlor. 


The thing about thorns and nails is that they aren't inherently tied to curses, but they are the averting factor for a spell.  I don't get much use from iron nails in my work unless its commissions for other people, but hawthorns, rose thorns and brambles are a staple in most martian and saturnain work geared towards amulets of aversion and repellent charms.  Thorns in an apple kissed by a jealous lover and fed to the mistress/interloper will sicken them.

A charm to cause someone to sicken with discomfort and apprehension, to fill them with anxiety and paranoia, was shared with me by local seawitch Chelsea P., and involves the creation of a dolly/simulacrum of thin hemp cloth, filled with vetch pods, flowers and seeds, as well as slippery elm, thistle fluff, and the volts of your intended.  You would hide this on the grounds of your enemy, under the porch or house or a stone in their garden.  As the seeds shift and birth the beetles, they will crawl through the poppet, eventually eating through the thin cloth and emerging out, causing your intended to confess.  Vetch is for revenge on a lover, otherwise, the scotch broom, being under the rulership of mars and air, also attracts a beetle that is equally discomforting. 
Vetch, Oak gall and Snails are a particularly fun part of summer hexes and charm lore.  Did you know that charms "to cause living things to grow in the body" are found across the world?  I'm most fond of African American hoodoo and English folk magic where jinx, hex and curse folklore is concerned, I like seeing how both these strains of my ancestors viewed this mysticism.  They say in hoodoo, to cause snails and slugs to squirm in the body and slither up the throat, one must collect, desiccate and feed a snail or slug to one's intended victim.  Interesting stuff...

Vetch isn't well known in magic for anything other than its properties to bind and ensnare lovers, to ensure fidelity and to inspire beauty, this is found in local plant medicine and magic as well as English flower folklore.  The root and flower are the main culprits in these works, but the seed comes with a skin-crawling magic of its own.  The seed of hairy vetch is known to attract a beetle which lives as larvae in the center of the seed, and when they have consumed the innards of the seed they burrow their way out, leaving behind hollow husks which would make any trypophobe shudder.  You can usually tell when the seed is infected from it's odd coloring, small pinprick holes and/or soft pliancy.  A firm black seed is most often the best if you're looking to avoid an infected seed.


In this way, vetch and broom are much like oak gall, which acts as a vessel for insects who are most often associated with malady, war and revenge.  Unlike the seeds which are prey to the beetles themselves, oak galls are an immune response from the tree, and is in this way, born of conflict and from these emerge a wasp, worm and sometimes even spiders which can be messengers or can signify illness.  Both are infections to their host; parasites using the plant world to the benefit of their species.  Brilliant.  And magical.  And exactly what makes my skin crawl.  I'm not much for hexes, but I do like knowing how to respect every plant spirit in my arsenal, especially the ones that help usher other forms of life into the world.  Seeds, pods, that which holds the potentum of life, summer is ripe with it.

Further Reading...

Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World by Cora Linn Daniels
Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by Catherine Yronwode
Plants of Love by Christian Rätsch
Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs

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