The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
Wormwood and Garlic: Dangers and Protection
All these dangers and hazards; what can a person do? Because witchcraft is so ancient, various solutions, remedies and obstacles to its perceived dangers have evolved over the millennia.
When considering protective measures against witchcraft, it’s crucial to consider how the term “witchcraft” is being defined. Some consider witchcraft to be dangerous in general. However many discussions of the “dangers of witchcraft” are actually about the dangers of malevolent spell-casting. It isn’t all witchcraft that’s perceived as dangerous; witchcraft itself isn’t the problem. Instead protective measures are needed to ward off only malevolent magic. Many solutions have been devised by witches and utilize the tools of the witchcraft trade.
Certain botanicals are believed to protect against malevolent magic. Many are used in protective spells and are incorporated into rituals to remove hexes and curses. If planted on one’s property they keep the area safe from magical harm. Among the most popular are:
Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria)
Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis, A. vera)
Angelica (Angelica spp.)
Bamboo (Bambusa spp.)
Benzoin (Styrax benzoin)
Betony (Betonica officinalis)
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga serpentaria)
Blackthorn (Sloe) (Prunus spinosa)
Cinquefoil (Five-finger grass) (Potentilla reptans)
Devil’s Pod (Ling Nut) (Trapa bicornis)
Eupatorium (Eupatorium odorata)
Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
Galangal (Laos root) (Alpinia galanga)
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)
Juniper (Juniperus communis)
Mucura (Petiveria alliacea)
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
Rose of Jericho (Anastatica hierochuntina)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)
Rue (Ruta graveolens)
Saint John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Syrian Rue (Harmal) (Peganum harmala)
Ti Plant (Cordyline terminalis)
Wisteria (Wisteria spp.)
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
The Cross and Christian Power
Among the earliest promises of Christianity was that believers would be safe from all malevolent magic. The early Christian writer Athanasius wrote in c.356, “Where the sign of the cross appears magic loses its power and witchcraft is ineffective.” (So then, who needs witch trials?)
Many believe that Christian prayers and symbols will protect against witchcraft. Whether they will only serve true believers or whether their inherent power is so great that they automatically repel witchcraft and other malevolent powers like vampires remains subject to vociferous debate.
First and foremost among these Christian symbols is The Cross, and crosses are a common motif in protective magic around the world. (Missionaries who’ve discovered crosses used in similar fashion in non-Christian areas have historically understood this phenomenon to be a spiritual testament.) However, crosses (two crossed lines) are a very simple geometric shape, and their use as a sacred symbol pre-dates Christianity by millennia. Because Christianity has been such a powerful modern influence, many automatically assume that any cross must indicate Christianity. This is not the case:
Crosses were sacred to Aphrodite long before the birth of Christ.
Crosses were important symbols in the indigenous traditions of Africa and the Americas, long before contact with Christians.
Crosses may indicate that magical energy is able to travel in all directions, thus the shape is beneficial for protective spells. No area is left unprotected and vulnerable.
In Congolese tradition, crosses represent the eternal human cycle of birth and rebirth.
Stores that sell “spiritual supplies” or “religious goods” may sell small wax candles in the shape of a cross. These candles represent “crossed conditions”—the heavy cross some seem cursed to bear. Burning the cross effectively removes the crossed condition and these candles are thus used in magical spells to remove hexes, tricks, and curses.
A novena is a nine-day prayer ritual, and may be held for any desired goal. This one allegedly protects against witchcraft, the devil, dogs, and disease: accompany a nine-day regimen of blessed bread and holy water with daily recitations of three Pater Nosters and three Ave Maria’s in honor of the Trinity and St Herbert.
The concept of the novena pre-dates Christianity and so the ritual is easily adapted for those possessing other spiritual orientations.
1. Burn a new candle each evening for nine consecutive evenings.
2. Murmur over the candles, recite blessings and sacred verses, direct appeals to sympathetic higher powers.
3. Each morning throw the wax remnants from the candle as far away from your house as possible.
Protection against witchcraft isn’t limited to Christian spiritual traditions. Certain deities and spiritual entities are believed capable of providing protection and remedying all magically derived harm. Among the most powerful are the archangels Michael and Gabriel, Kapo, Elegba, the Seven African Powers, Medusa, Durga, Kali, and Kwan Yin.
Certain sacred texts are believed to possess the power to remove and repel magical harm. Constant repetition and meditation on these texts turns the key to safety. Among the most popular of these texts are the biblical Book of Job and the Book of Psalms, most especially the 91st Psalm. Please see BOOKS: Books of Magical Protection for more information on this topic as well as the Germanic tradition of Himmelsbrief—magical texts that provide personal safety.