On the Calendar
Common Ivy (Hedera helix)
*Also known as English ivy
Ivy is a familiar evergreen vine with woody stems. Its dark green leaves have three to five shallow lobes. There are hundreds of cultivars based on leaf shape, size, and variegation. Ivy grows as a climbing vine or trailing ground cover. It has two stages: In the juvenile stage, it climbs and spreads. In the adult stage, it becomes more like a shrub and produces clusters of greenish-white flowers that develop into blue-black berries.
Just as circlets of laurel were used as crowns for athletes in ancient Greece, ivy was used to crown poets. Ivy was associated with Dionysus because it was regarded as an antidote to drunkenness. Binding the brow with ivy was supposed to prevent intoxication while also enhancing the effects of alcohol. In England, ivy-covered poles called ale bushes were the forerunner of pub signs.
According to folklore, if ivy grew on the walls of a house, the occupants were safe from witches. If the ivy died, the family was in for disaster. According to love divination, if a young woman put an ivy leaf in her pocket, the first man she encountered after leaving the house would become her husband. The early Christian church in England forbid the use of ivy decorations in churches because of its association with Paganism.
Grow ivy on your property or place it as a houseplant in a front window to guard against negative energy and to attract good luck. Wind a piece of ivy around the bottom of a candle as part of a binding spell. Place a couple of sprigs on your altar for spiritual journeys that take you inward as well as guide you out. Incorporate white ivy leaves into your esbat ritual as they are associated with the moon.
Ivy is associated with the elements air, earth, and water. Its astrological influence comes from the planet Saturn and the fixed star Alphecca. This plant is associated with fairies and the following deities: Arianrhod, Cernunnos, Danu, Dionysus, Frey, Hermes, Holle, Loki, Ogma, Osiris, Pan, Persephone, Rhea, and Saturn.
Figure 31. Ivy is associated with the oghams Gort, Oir, and Uilleann (shown left to right).