Powers: Healing, Protection
Magical Uses and History: Ivy has a long and rich history, dating back to the Druids and Ancient Greeks and Romans. Ivy is both the plant of Dionysus and Bacchus (Greek and Roman gods of wine). In one tale of Dionysus, punished a crew of pirates for their lack of reverence toward him by filling the ship with Ivy and turning the oars into serpents. The pirates eventually lost their minds and drown themselves in the ocean. In Roman tradition, Bacchanals, worshipers of Bacchus, would become intoxicated from eating Ivy and participate in orgies in Thessaly and Trace during the October. In their drunken frenzy they were said to have wrought havoc on the cities, tearing animals and children apart while carrying Fir boughs wrapped in Ivy. Furthermore, during the Medieval period, Ivy was used to make an intoxicating drink, one still made at Trinity College in Oxford in memory of a deceased student. Surprisingly, Ivy, if worn as a crown, was said to prevent intoxication. Ivy was even carved into goblets for the same purpose.
Due to its Pagan associations, particularly with fertility, the Christian Church took a dim view of the plant. In fact, there are still countries that ban churches from using Ivy in Christmas decorations. However, Ivy is popularly regarded by Christians as one of the many plants to safe guard against witches. Ivy was often planted along a house and allowed to grow along the walls to prevent witches from entering. Witches, on the other hand, view Ivy as a protector against negativity and disaster.
One of the most famous Pagan traditions including Ivy, however, is the battle between the Holly and Oak King. The Oak King, in some traditions, is also referred to as the Ivy King. One possible tradition accounting for this interpretation is an old English tradition of binding the last sheaf of the harvest with Ivy. This bundle was referred to as the Harvest Bride or Maid of the Ivy. It is said to bring bad luck to the farmer who harvested late. The Holly Boy, however, is opposing to the Maid of Ivy. He was said to be the first over the doorstep on Yuletide morning, bringing with him good fortune. Ivy is carried by women for good luck and sometimes worn by brides for the same reason.
Ivy can be used in a number of spells including:
Medicinal Uses: Ivy can be used to cure a variety of ailments including bronchitis, liver and spleen disorders, gout, burns and cuts, and warts. Research has shown that ivy leaf extracts increase oxygen in the lungs by reducing inflammation of the bronchial, especially in conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. In Germany, ivy leaf extract has been approved as an herbal decongestant. According to folk lore, ivy leaves dipped in vinegar can be placed on warts, arthritic areas, gout, and minor skin wounds such as cuts and mild burns, to heal these ailments, sometimes overnight (according to legend).