In the Garden
Common Bistort (Persicaria bistorta syn. Polygonum bistorta)
*Also known as adderwort, dragonwort, meadow bistort, snakeroot, and snakeweed
Western Bistort (Persicaria bistortoides syn. Polygonum bistortoides )
*Also known as American bistort, and snakeweed
Usually found in damp meadows or near water, common bistort forms large clumps of lance-shaped leaves. Resembling a bottlebrush, dense clusters of tiny white or pink flowers grow on spikes two to three feet tall. Western bistort is very similar with white flowers. As its name implies, it grows in western areas of North America. Both plants flower on and off from late spring to early autumn.
The common name bistort comes from the Latin bis, meaning “twice,” and torta, “twisted,” which describes the tangled, snakelike appearance of its roots.91 In Scotland, the leaves were tied into a cloth and used to undo spells. In addition, bistort was used medicinally for a wide range of ailments. Despite its depiction amongst plants that symbolize fertility in one of the famous unicorn tapestries—and its subsequent association with fertility and conception—bistort was actually used as an abortifacient.92
Sprinkle dried flowers and leaves around your ritual area for purification. Burn small pieces of root as you visualize the smoke removing whatever is unwanted from your life. Strew dried pieces of root in front of your home to repel negative energy. To increase psychic awareness, place leaves and/or flowers on your altar during ritual, divination, or other psychic practices.
Bistort is associated with the element earth. Its astrological influence comes from Saturn and the fixed star Sirius.
Figure 33. Bistort is associated with the rune Nauthiz.