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Yarrow Flower Achillea millefolium
Wild Yarrow

A native of Eurasia, yarrow has been cultivated in Europe since before 1440 and like many of us, became naturalized in North America. Fossils of this plant have been found at Neanderthal burial sites, so it has been a friend to human(oid)s for a long time. The handsome leaves are nicely aromatic, especially in the early morning dew or just after a rain; they sometimes remain green even underneath snow.  Some people (and ants) do not like the smell, which is probably where yarrow got its "devilish" reputation. It was commonly used to flavor a type of beer called gruit before the introduction of hops (the other two main ingredients being bog myrtle and marsh rosemary), and it still flavors vermouth and bitters. Very young and small leaves were eaten sparingly in the 17th century in salads. In Greek mythology, yarrow grew from the rust that Achilles (thus, Achillea) scraped from his spear to help heal a man he himself had wounded (there's an interesting connection between iron/rust/blood/war/ Mars here, kind of a neat obverse of the Venus/love aspect of this herb). In the language of flowers, it can mean war or healing. Bees, ladybugs, and butterflies enjoy the flowers, which when dried, make a great potpourri ingredient. Top

In Magic

Yarrow Although to me there is something very Mercury about this magick herb (I think it's the scent), most consider it ruled by Venus on account of its helpfulness to wounds and skin problems. Because it is aromatic, yarrow is also associated with the Element of Air, and it contains the planetary metal for Jupiter (tin). Magickally, it has much usefulness for divination; the I Ching was originally thrown not with coins but with dried yarrow stalks.  It is a good ingredient for dream pillows and for divinatory incense and tea (see Third Eye Ritual), and burning it is said to produce visions of snakes, so it makes a great addition to the witch's garden. Yarrow also has the ability to potentiate other herbs when added to incense or when incorporated into love magick. This plant has often been a device for divining the identity of one's future lover or determining whether one is truly loved. It is incorporated into love sachets, because it is believed capable of keeping a couple together for 7 years. In the past, yarrow was used as a protectant.  It was strewn across the threshold to keep out evil and worn to protect against hexes. It was tied to an infant's cradle to protect it from those who might try to steal its soul. The Saxons wore amulets made of this plant to protect against blindness, robbers, and dogs, among other things. An interesting Gaelic woman's incantation spoken when picking yarrow goes: "I will pick the smooth yarrow that my figure may be sweeter, that my lips may be warmer, that my voice may be gladder. May my voice be like a sunbeam; may my lips be like the juice of the strawberry. May I be an island in the sea; may I be a star in the dark time, may I be a staff to the weak one. I shall wound every man, and no man shall hurt me." I have seen contradictory info about the relationship of this herb to fairies.  Some say fairies favor yarrow, but others say that the plant repels fairies. Top

In Herbalism

Yarrow leaf Culpeper considered yarrow a Venus herb, probably because of its ability to heal wounds, treat the skin (see Yarrow Skin Wash), and because in the European tradition it helped ease various uterine problems, such as too heavy menstrual flow. Generally, the fresh leaves are used for poultices and the dried ones for teas.  The leaves are more astringent, and the flowers are more aromatic. The poultice is styptic, astringent, antiseptic, helps heal tissue, is anti-inflammatory, and is said to have some effect as a topical anesthetic. Smallpox was treated with yarrow ointment. The tea has similar effects as the poultice and in addition tends to raise the body temperature (good for the start of colds), works as a bitter tonic to help digestion, helps promote healthy coughing, eases spasms, and promotes menstruation (don't use during pregnancy). In India, yarrow was put into medicated steam baths for fever; the Chippewa used it very similarly for headache. Even though this plant was introduced by Europeans, Native Americans have used it a great deal. Algonquin Indians made a tea of the leaves and flowers for headaches, the Blackfeet used a steeped tea of the leaves to ease delivery, and the Potawatami smudged around ill people with it. Even now, the tea is sometimes taken as a remedy for the blues and for restlessness, especially during menopause.  It is helpful in shedding fear and negativity. The flower essence strengthens the aura and shields from disharmony and unwanted environmental forces, such as other's moods. Some people are allergic to this plant and get a rash from it, and extended use cause photosensitivity. Top

Other Names

The many other common names for yarrow reflect how widely this herb has been used: allheal, angel flower, bad man's plaything, bloodwort, cammock, carpenter's weed, devil's nettle, devil's plaything, dog daisy, gordoloba, green arrow, herbe militaris, hierba de las cortadura, knight's milfoil, milfoil, nosebleed, old man's (the devil's) mustard, old man's pepper, plumajillo, sanguinary, soldier's woundwort, squirrel's taile, stanchgrass, stanchweed, thousand-leaf, thousand weed, woundwort, and yarroway. Whatever you call it, yarrow is just an all-around great herb. Top

Achillea millefolium
Wild Yarrow
1000 seeds $3.75

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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Astral Herb
Love Magic
Protection Spells
Witch's Garden

Go to dried yarrow flowers

2007, 2019 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction of any part without permission.

How to grow yarrow

Yarrow rhizomes Barely press seeds into moist soil; they need light to germinate in 5-10 days at 62-75F/18-25C. Transplant to full sun and light soil; if the soil is rich, the stems get floppy. Yarrow stalks get 2-4ft/60-120cm tall, although the leaves stay close to the ground in a rosette. Harvest flowers on the first day the they begin to feel stiff instead of soft and hang upside down to dry in airy place out of the sun. Once it is established, it spread by rhizomes (see picture) and can be invasive. Divide when it gets crowded. Yarrow is said to intensify the flavor of herbs grown near it. Perennial in most of North America (zones 3-10) and in temperate areas. General growing info  Top

Third Eye Ritual

This ritual helps improve one's psychic powers when performed three days before the moon is full, and preferably in either the sign of Cancer, Pisces or Scorpio. Brew a strong yarrow (or mugwort) tea and light thirteen purple votive candles to help attract psychic influences. Drink the tea and concentrate on your scrying device (magick mirror, crystal ball, crystal pyramid, etc.) while chanting the following incantation three times:

I invoke thee, O Asariel,
archangel of Neptune
and ruler of clairvoyant powers.
I ask thee now to open my third eye
and show me the hidden light.
Let me see the future.
Let me see the past.
Let me perceive the divine kingdoms of the unknown.
Let me understand the wisdom of the universe.
So mote it be!

Relax, breathe slowly, and concentrate on opening your Third Eye, a chakra of psychic power located in the middle of theforehead above the space between the eyebrows. Top


Because yarrow is astringent (drying), it makes a good skin wash for oily skin. Pour 2 parts of boiling water over 1 part of crumbled, dried yarrow flowers. Cool, strain, and pat on skin. This wash is soothing to chapped skin and minor irritations. Top