A columbine is a worthy addition to the witch's garden. Many use this Venus plant in love magic, and it is said to be a favorite of the Fae (it definitely attracts hummingbirds). Europeans have traditionally seen the connection between this plant and birds. The word "columbine" comes from the word for dove--the flower was considered to look like doves in a circle. At the same time, the Latin name, Aquilegia, comes from the word "eagle," as the back of the flower was throught to look like an eagle's talon. There's an interesting juxtaposition between predator and prey going on with this plant (eagle/dove) that is borne out as well in the plant as a whole, as the leaves are very poisonous while the flower of the North American columbines was eaten as a condiment by natives of North America (I wouldn't go testing that out, though). I finally have the wild European columbine seeds in stock again. I also have cultivated European columbine seeds I harvested from my own plants (witch-grown) and the North American wild columbine, a forest beauty.
This North American columbine is a favorite of ruby-throated hummingbirds, so there is much about this plant that gives it to bird magic. The Iroquois made extensive use of this plant, magical and otherwise. Compounded with other herbs, it helped detect whether one was bewitched. The Meskwakis made a decoction of the plant to acquire the power of persuasion during councils or when engaging in trade. The seeds were added to their love charms and were crushed to flavor smoking tobacco. The Pawnee, Ponca, and the Omaha peoples, especially bachelors, crushed the dried seeds and rubbed them on their hands or belongings to transfer the fragrance in order to attract women. They called it "black perfume plant." Omaha men would rub it on their hands and then try to shake hands with a woman they liked in order to magically attract them. Omaha women pretended to a fear of this plant for that reason. Much good humor seems to have been associated with this plant, and I think that suits its nature very well.
The flower essence of wild columbine helps with insight into one's true identity and highest purpose; it is also said to help the uncertain or those who are bewildered by life choices. Strangely enough, in the language of flowers, the columbine in general represents desertion and folly. Columbines have been cultivated since the middle ages and became a popular component in the medieval herber, an enclosed garden of aromatic plants grown mostly as a garden spot to be enjoyed. Victorians liked this plant also and called it "Granny's Bonnet."
The North American wild columbine is native to the eastern half of the continent from Nova Scotia to Florida. Its flowers are fragrant and edible; leaves are very poisonous. The flowers have five petals (the number of Venus). The knobs are where the nectar is located--too far inside for bees to reach, but the long tongues of hummingbirds and hawk moths can harvest it. Regular bees enjoy the pollen. The wild columbine likes growing in steep, rocky, moist areas--where I live, it blooms in the clefts of misted rocks at Seneca Falls, for instance. It also likes open woodland sites and will regrow over burned land, comforting the skin of the Earth like many Venus herbs comfort the skin of human beings. The plant makes a rosette of leaves the first year and begins to make flowers the second; the plant lives 3-5 years. It reseeds easily, but it also crosses readily with other columbines, so if you want to save seeds, you will get a mix of flower types unless you grow only one type. The seeds are ready to harvest when they turn black. Freshly harvested seeds will germinate in 3-4 weeks at 70-75F/21-24C; stored seeds are sleeping and need cold stratification to wake up. The wild columbine is resistant to leaf miners, which like to target other columbines; they tunnel through the leaves, making yellow lines, although they don't seem to actually harm the plants. The wild columbine is also known as meetinghouses, rock bells, cluckies, jack-in-trousers, rock lily, wild honeysuckle, dancing fairies, and Ancolie du Canada. Top
How to grow Wild Columbine
Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:
© 2007, 2015 Harold A. Roth. No reproduction of any part without permission.