Elecampane

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(Inula Helenium)

Zodiac sign: Gemini, Virgo
Planet: Mercury
Element: Air
Deities: Helen of Troy (technically a “heroine” rather than a “goddess,” but she is believed to have originated as a deity in very ancient times)

Elecampane is probably the least known herb of this set of 13, but it’s well worth getting acquainted with. Popular in Celtic-based Witchcraft and used for healing purposes since ancient Rome, this helpful plant grows to be between 4 and 5 feet tall and resembles the sunflower. Since it’s not really a culinary herb (though the root was candied and enjoyed as a treat in Europe prior to the 20th century), it’s unlikely to be found in grocery stores. It’s popular with herbalists, however, so it should be available in a local natural foods store or any number of online botanical dispensaries. The second part of its Latin name, “Helenium,” is a reference to Helen of Troy in Greek mythology, whose tears are said to have given rise to the plant. When it was introduced to the rest of Europe in Medieval times, elecampane gained a reputation for being useful for infections, which may be why chewing it was thought to “fasten the teeth”—that is, it likely took care of inflammation of the gums. Elecampane root was also worn as a protection against snake bites and poisonous insects. In Celtic countries, it was known as “elfwort” due to its ability to attract faeries. Modern healers love elecampane root for its help with relieving ailments of the lung. It’s an ingredient in many medicinal teas and cough syrups, and can be made into a tea on its own, though its bitter taste definitely calls for plenty of honey to make it go down easier! The leaves and flowers are also used by some herbalists for dealing with digestive issues, but the root is the most widely available part of the plant. Magically, elecampane is used for protection against the energies of disease and to promote general good luck. Some wear it in a sachet or other charm to attract love, though it’s not exactly known as an incredibly romantic herb. The energy of elecampane is more geared toward soothing feelings of conflict or uprootedness, and it’s quite effective at dispelling anger and/or violent impulses or vibrations. It can be sprinkled around doorways to keep such vibrations out of the home. It is also used to promote a stronger mind-body connection, particularly for those whose lifestyles are largely sedentary and don’t get much exercise. As a “faery herb,” elecampane is particularly effective in workings for communication with the spirit world, and intuition. Drinking the tea before divination activities can strengthen the connection between the Witch and the divine.  Elecampane is also known as elecampagne, elfdock, horseheal, and yellow starwort. It should not be used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.


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