In the Wild
*Also known as devil’s milk pail and wild endive
So much time, energy, and money has been spent on trying to rid the world of dandelions, yet they persist. Although it is now considered a weed, European settlers introduced it into North America as a food crop and medicinal herb. The name dandelion is a mispronunciation of the French name for it, Dent de Lion, “tooth of the lion.” 26 It was so named because of the jagged shape of its leaves.
The use of young dandelion leaves in salads prompted the name wild endive. The name devil’s milk pail refers to the sticky, white sap that oozes from the broken root. Being underground, roots were often considered property of the devil by Christians. Pagans and Wiccans associate the dandelion with Hecate. Although the long taproot is notoriously difficult to pull out, extract the root of a small plant. Let it dry out, and then burn it to honor Hecate, or use it as an amulet.
Appropriate for Ostara, the dandelion is a plant of balance with its yellow flower spreading out like a little sun, and then developing into a seed head that is white and round as the moon. Every child knows the summer fun and powerful magic of blowing on the dandelion seed head and making wishes. Individual seeds floating on the air were called “wishers” and were considered lucky if caught. Pick a seed head at night and make a wish in the moonlight with the power of Luna to aid you. Before blowing on it, say:
Dandelion seed head, round and white; bring the wish I make this night.
In addition to granting wishes, dandelion seed heads were used as a type of oracle to tell time. According to folklore, after blowing on it, the number of seeds left indicated the hour of the day. The same method was also used to find out how many children you would have. By whispering into the seed head and then blowing in the direction of one’s lover, dandelions were said to carry amorous messages.
The dandelion is associated with the element air and the goddesses Brigid and Hecate. Its astrological influence comes from Jupiter and Mercury.