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Acorus calamus Acorus calamus
Calamus root

Sweet cane, a synonym for calamus, is named as an ingredient in the Biblical anointing oil as well as in oil of Abramelin, which appears to be based on the Biblical oil. Although calamus has a firm place in so-called white magick, it is named after a young man who was in love with another fellow who drowned; he mourned for so long at the bank of the stream where his love was lost that the gods felt mercy on him and turned him into a reed. Inspired partly by that myth and partly by the very phallic shape of this plant's flowers, Walt Whitman wrote a series of poems about male/male love called the Calamus series, one of the more revolutionary of which is given here. So this plant is also an excellent candidate for lavender magick as well as white.:) Calamus loves watery places, and for that reason many have allied this plant with the Moon. But there is nothing Moon-like about this magick herb. The medicinal root is said to be stimulant and warming, not sedative and cooling. Since the root does grow in water, this plant must have a mighty fire to stimulate and warm under such conditions. It also has a yellow flower and certainly has a masculine form. For all of these reasons, it belongs to the Sun. True, it is not a sunflower, but maybe we need to allow the planetary influences a little more depth. top

The fresh root is especially fragrant, but it has to be dried to be infused in oil. Try infusing the fresh root in wine, spirits of cane (rum), or plain alcohol to capture its slightly different scent. The fresh root smells a little more citrusy; the dried root is spicier and warmer. The leaves are also fragrant, although less so, and can be woven into shapes for ritual use. Altogether, this plant is a fine addition to the pagan garden. This plant is also known as sweet root, sweet rush, sweet cane, sweet flag, gladdon, sweet myrtle, myrtle grass, myrtle sedge, and cinnamon sedge. top

Mundane Uses
Calamus has been used in North America by native peoples for various purposes, from medicine to snuff. The active part of the plant is the root, which contains asarone. The American variety of the plant does not contain beta-asarone, a carcinogen (these seeds are of the American variety). European varieties contain other elements in the essential oil that have unknown properties. In small doses it is said to be stimulant; in large doses it will cause vomiting.
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How to grow Acorus calamus

Sow in a paper towel that has been wet and wrung out. Fold over and put in a plastic baggie and put in the fridge for four weeks. They will not sprout in the fridge, but when you take them out and plant them, they should sprout right away (see this method explained in detail). Or sow on Winter Solstice (see the Solstice Sowing page). This perennial plant does not have to grow in the water; it will grow perfectly well in moist soil. It can get up to 6ft/1.8m tall but can be grown in pots if you wish and will not get over 2ft/61cm tall. It needs rich soil, so when you transplant, make sure you use the best-grade potting soil and plenty of composted cow manure (Black Cow is great). Plant out in partial sun in moist soil. It will get its phallic flower mass in May, June, and July if it is growing in water and happy. Harvest when the leaves turn yellow. Save part of the rhizome to replant--it will grow much faster from a rhizome. Chop the rhizome before drying it, as it will be quite hard when dried and chopping will help prevent mold. General growing info.

Acorus calamus
Calamus root
50 seeds $3.75


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Go to calamus root herb

Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Anointing
Lavender Magick
Sun Herb

2004, 2015 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction of any part without permission.

From Walt Whitman's Calamus series in Leaves of Grass:

I hear it was charged against me that I sought to destroy institutions
But really I am neither for nor against institutions
(What indeed have I in common with them? or what with the destruction of them?)
Only I will establish in the Manhatta and in every city of these States inland and seaboard
And in the fields and woods, and above every keel little or large that dents the water
Without edifices or rules or trustees or any argument
The institution of the dear love of comrades.