The rite called for the herb to be cut with a single stroke of a gold sickle, and it was strictly forbidden for the plant to make contact with the ground. Properly harvested mistletoe was believed to hold abundant healing and divinatory powers.
Another plant with a strong link to Midsummer is Saint John's wort. In the Middle Ages, Europeans who felt a need for protection against demons, ghosts, and sorcerers would gather up Saint John's wort every year on Midsummer, dry the flowers and leaves over their Midsummer fires, and then hang them in small bunches over the doors and windows of their homes, stables, and markets.
Saint John's wort gathered on Midsummer or on a Friday was once believed by some herbalists to cure melancholia (depression) and prevent madness when worn as a charm around the patient's neck. In addition, the plant was reputed to cure or prevent fevers, colds, and a wide variety of other ailments.
Vervain, which is often called the "enchanter's plant" in reference to its diverse magickal attributes and centuries-old affiliation with folk magick, is traditionally gathered on Midsummer or at the rising of the Dog Star when neither the sun nor the moon are visible. Many traditionalists believe that only at these times will the plant be effective for magickal, amuletic, or divinatory purposes.
In medieval times it was widely believed that a chicory plant harvested with a gold blade at noon or at the witching hour on Midsummer gave sorcerers the power to become invisible at will. It was also reputed to unlock any door or box by its insertion into the keyhole or by being rubbed against the lock.
Carrying a handkerchief anointed with the sap of a flowering dogwood tree on Midsummer's Eve is said to work as a charm to make one's wishes come true. I cannot guarantee that everything you desire will materialize for you if you do this. But, as the old expression goes, "be careful what you wish for" just the same!
For protection against sorcery, demons, and the harmful gaze of the evil eye, many folks in the Middle Ages would pass figwort plants through the smoke of a Midsummer fire and then hang them over the doors and windows of their homes as amulets. Legend has it that the figwort possesses great protective powers.
Jumping through the smoke generated by wood betony cast into a Midsummer bonfire is one old Pagan method of purifying the body of demons and disease. Wood betony that is gathered on Midsummer is also believed to have protective powers. It is often kept beneath the pillow to preserve sleepers from nightmares, and worn as an herbal amulet to ward off evil.
Another curious old legend surrounding the Midsummer fire claims that if you gaze into one while looking through a bouquet of larkspur, this will prevent blindness or ailments of the eyes from occurring. The protective power of this spell, however, only remains in effect for one year and the spell must be repeated every Midsummer.
Midsummer is not only a time for working herbal magick, but herbal divinations as well. One old method to make the vision of one's future husband or wife materialize called for a handful of hemp seeds to be sprinkled while walking nine times clockwise around a church and reciting a special incantation. In order for the divination to work, it needed to be carried out at the midnight hour as Midsummer began.
Diviners have employed herbs since ancient times. However, not all herbal divinations center on romance and matrimony. Meadowsweet gathered on Midsummer, for example, was used long ago to determine the gender of a thief. It was believed that if the plant sank when placed on water, the thief was male. If it floated, this indicated a female.
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Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.