Christmas is in the air, and we’re all left wondering as the years take us further away from our roots, where does this festive season sit in our hearts? Are yours homes & hearths filling up with family connection and anticipation of the celebrations to come? Are you not sure what Christmas is even about any more? The children seem to remind us that giving them presents is at the core of the season. But we all know something is missing, something that we once held close bundled into this day.
Amidst the shopping malls and fairy lights, there are moments of ancient nostalgia as we interact with the Christmas herbs, these signature plants we have come to associate with the festive time. These herbs predate Christmas, and take us into even older traditions around Winter Solstice and the Roman festival of Saturnalia. Let’s meet one Christmas herb and explore its folklore! We must remember that our festivities in Australia’s summer match a Northern Hemisphere climate, a place where Christmas is white, cold, and connected to the darkest day of the year in deep winter.
MISTLETOE :::: Viscum album
This gorgeous plant Viscum album has become a symbol of Christmas, but before that it was used in the Winter celebrations of Europe as decorations to attract fairies and hung on doorways to keep bad spirits away. This parasitic plant has white berries and a white viscous layer on its leaves where it gets its name. It has long been connected to fertility throughout many cultures. Perhaps this is where the kissing comes in?
Mistletoe is ‘an old plant of the druids and the wise’ and used for constricted states of the body from the heart, lungs, uterus and mind, bringing smooth flow to the bloods of the body. It will enhance oxytocin to help induce smooth natural birth contractions, and can only be used in pregnancy at the brith. It works powerfully as a cardiac tonic for the tension of high blood pressure and may ease the constriction of edema in the extremities. It is a superior nervine tonic for constricted mental states such as nervousness, epilepsy, excitability and hysteria. Mistletoe is a plant for a person going through a breakup or experiencing a sudden loss, helping one to return to a place of openness; to kiss under the mistletoe is to have a joyful heart once more. Mistletoe is said to ‘help a person breathe through emotional problem’, and opens up the constricted lungs of an asthmatic, and smoothes. Rudolf Steiner followed the doctrine of signatures to read how the Mistletoe grows (parasitically to a host) and explore it as a cancer herb.
Only the leaves are used, as the white berries are actually quite toxic.
Wherever Christmas fits into your traditions, may it be a time of connection, open-heartedness, joy, laughter, generosity - a time for the constrictions of the body to exhale with ease into a place of peace.
#mistletoe #herbalmedicine #herbalism #edemaherbs #nervinetonic #asthmaherbs #nimbinapothecary #apothecary #herbalmonograph #rudolfsteiner #christmasherbs