In the Garden
Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
*Also known as bloodwort, devil’s plaything, milfoil, and thousand leaf
Yarrow is a slender, upright plant that grows one to three feet tall with branching stems. Its leaves are fern-like and covered with soft hairs. Small, white to pinkish colored flowers grow in wide umbel clusters and bloom from midsummer to autumn. The plant has a pleasant, sweet-herby smell.
To the Greeks, yarrow was an important medicinal herb that was named in honor of the hero Achilles, who was said to have used it to heal the wounds of his fellow soldiers at the battle of Troy. In the past, yarrow was prescribed for just about every ailment. In addition, the ancient Chinese used yarrow stems as I Ching divination sticks. The folk name devil’s plaything came from the belief that Satan used yarrow to cast spells.
According to folklore, young women were told to pick yarrow flowers by moonlight for love divination. If dewdrops were still on them in the morning, a woman’s favorite man would propose marriage.
Yarrow’s grounding energy clears away negativity, releases hexes, and banishes anything unwanted from your home or life. Use it to purify ritual space by scattering leaves or flowers on your altar or on the floor. Consecrate magic and ritual tools by storing yarrow flowers with them. A bouquet of fresh flowers or a bowl of dried ones aids in stimulating intuition and psychic abilities for divination. Wrap several leaves and/or flowers in a soft cloth and place them under your pillow for dream work.
Yarrow is associated with the elements air and water. Its astrological influence comes from Venus. This plant is also associated with the god Cernunnos.