Fair Flower Sorceress

I think the best love spells use flowers; they are the sexual and aesthetic virtue of the herb.   There's a million meanings for flowers, a million different names and uses, values and cautions.  The best flowers are the ones that bloom fat and warm in summer time- those are my favorite; the morning glories and roses, the poppy, lunaria, magnolias and clematis.  I suppose, because I prefer to dance in the Garden of Venus, it would make sense that I find a deep kinship in flowers.  The floral component to love magic is ancient, probably among the first forms of superstitious actions taken by humans to draw love.

In most classical examples, the creator of philters (love potions), powders and food- all of which are vehicles for the delivery of erotic/romantic magic, is female, and often regarded as a sorceress (like enchanting Kirki who seduced Odysseus), a witch (like Medea of Colchis, pharmakis and priestess of Hekate), an enchantress (like beautiful Namo, the flower sorceress) or even as simple maids beguiled into the black arts by desperation for love and beauty, as are attested to mainly in the European witch-trial documents.  However, The Picatrix and other older occult material make it very clear that both sexes were more than willing to turn to floral mixtures to achieve their ends.  The famous so-called grimoire of Marie Laveau, better known as  17th century occult charm collection, Le Petit Albert, gives us a floral enchantment "For Causing a Girl to Dance Undressed To Her Underwear" and lists the components (to be gathered on the St. John's eve, before sunrise) as:

Wild marjoram, 
sweet marjoram, 
wild thyme, 

myrtle leaves, 
three walnut leaves, 
three small stems of fennel

Marjoram's simple phrase is "blushes" (Powell, p. 146), a flower of girlish grace ruled by air, mercurial qualities and associated with Aphrodite.  In Greek symbolism, thyme flower symbolized activity, bees and restored energy, and it corresponds to Venus and water, its flowers vary in shades of pink and mauve and carry a pungent, slightly bitter and warm scent.  Vervain is just as pungent and bitter as thyme flower, only cooler and  represented enchantment as well as a warning of ill news. Myrtle, though not floral, has always been a Venusian herb associated with love and Aphrodite's servants, a sign of willingness.  By contrast, the symbolism of  warm, dry, sweet fennel in the language of herbs (from Roman origin) give us the fennel as a source of force and strength.  Walnut is associated with intellect and granted wishes.  Together, these herbs and flowers when finely powdered represent exactly what it is they are intended to do; cause a girl to be compelled to do some activity which one deems erotic.  I for one don't find pungent tones very erotic, and so my mixes tend to have more floral and earthy sweet and musky tones, or spicy and warm; scents that turn me on and attract the kind of people I would desire.  I desire people who like the smell of moon flowers and cinnamon, cloves and roses, violets and opium.

"The number 3 plays a prominent part in many ancients recipes.  3 red rose leaves, 3 white rose leaves, 3 forget-me-nots, 3 leaves of veronica enter into the composition of ancient philters."
- Cora Linn Daniels & C. M. Stevans, Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World: Vol 1 1903

Of the famous flowers of magic are is of course queenly Red Rose who's virtues being numerous and far reaching is revered for her secrecy, powers over lust, remarkable beauty and intoxicating smell.  All parts of the rose are used in love, sex, secret, war, death and healing magic, and each rose by variety carries its own magic virtues.

Another of honorable mention would have to be a favorite of early alchemists the periwinkle or vinca major/minor, also known as "sorcerer's violet" used in Western European cosmetic and love charms for some time, though also used in magic relating to magic of the sea (probably due to the plant's association with the nymph Thetis).   Discordes, Galen and Culpepper all remarked upon the 'binding' nature of vinca and given the nature of periwinkles to creep and bind all over plants it touches, the association is apt.  Periwikle is symbolic of fidelity, friendship and peace in French flower lore.  In other sources we find charms and superstitions regarding periwinkle as a powder additive to charms which will reconcile man and wife.   Apuleius's Herbarium describes periwinkle as a useful wort against bedevilment, snakes, beasts of the wild, poisons, but also useful for the granting of wishes, to calm envy and terror, to offer prosperity and grace.  It is recommended to gather this plant with the utmost cleanliness of body, when the moon is 9 nights old.

Lilly of the Valley is an old fairy herb which adores to be preserved in almond oils or red wines, and is among chief plants for the love sorceress.  Of lily of the valley, a staple of the British pharmakopoeia, Paul Huson said; "The scent of the lily of the valley provides feelings of abundance and well being.  It enhances all friendships and provides affection and love."  Culpepper remarked on the medicinal qualities of the flower for improving memory and focus of mind.  Funny, like many herbs gathered specifically to ensnare or bond, the lily of the valley is poisonous, or at least the leaves and berries are, leaving the floral element safe to use in magic powders and strewing blends.

"Perhaps not surprisingly many of the Lily kin are poisonous despite their unearthly beauty, such as Convallaria, poisoning by which is characterized by dilated pupils, delirium, and cardiac arrest.  With this particular Lily, it is the crimson berries that possess the concentrated poison." - Daniel A. Schulke, Viridarium Umbris (p.93)

When blended with lavender and honeysuckle, here lies a powder to strew about a bedroom where lovers have quarreled.  When powdered and blended with gourd husk, slippery elm, black pepper and pollen, lily of the valley will cause gossipers to sicken and sneeze when they speak ill of the witch.  When the juice of the flowers are spread over tools, she will purify and enchant these objects. When the juice of the berries are rubbed over working tools in autumn, those tools will be enchanted and sanctified.  Eastern folklore paints the lily as sacred and lucky, gifted from the fairies (Daniels p.10391) with the ability to multiply good fortune for whoever grows a fairy-given bulb.
"Witches also found a use for the plant. The stems, wrapped around a person nine times, were thought to be effective in casting a wicked spell.  This magic was particularly strong if the plant was used three days before a full moon." 
-Laura C. Martin, Garden Flower Folklore 
Morning Glory will bind and ensnare with very little effort.  She adores attention and desires many lovers, ones she can slowly choke and smother and love to death if she can.  In my garden of affinity, Morning Glory shares the spotlight with creeping rose, ivy and slomanum as the guardians of the gate.  The rose of passion, the ivy of wisdom, the nightshade of death, the bindweed of sight, each one sacred to the arts of love charming and hex binding.  She adores shade and sun, she casts spells over bees and gives shade to rabbits in their thickets.  If you give her an inch, she'll take a foot.  Morning Glory stands out among these ones as the key of the mind traveler.  The extraction method of her psychedelic virtues takes work if you care to do it the long way, but the lsd-like seeds have long been taken for the purpose of sacred sight and divine hallucinations in some Mexican shamanic traditions.  It's use in psychedelic culture today is a pretty new import, and you'll find it more common that people commune more often with MG's cousin, the baby woodrose seed, which produces a second day euphoria I would describe as nothing less than a harmony hang over.

Tomorrow the dreams and the flowers will fade...

In Thomas Moore's "In the Light of the Harem" from Lalla Rookh there exists a beautiful vision of floral sorcery, flower enchantress Namouna; a woman well-versed in charms, amulets and talismans especially those of love.  In the poem, this sorceress gathers her blossoms; including those of rosemary, amaranth, musk rose, anemones, woodbine, clove-tree, moonflower and basil, by midnight and weaves them into a wreath.  Wreath magic is a large part of my summer work, and are a tradition among many peoples.  My wreathes tend to be flowers of summer woven with charms of love, talismans and sachets that contain everything that captures or draws love, sex, romance, frenzy, sleep, drunkenness- any manner of my favorite things.   Namouna is an inspiration, an erotic herbalist who puts love and desire into every blossom picked, recounting love and becoming one with her bounty through prayer, song and sheer affinity.  The enchantress in this narrative ensnares with flowers and sweet words, a common motif of the witch in romantic poetry and prose over the centuries.

"With what delight the enchantress views
so many buds, 
bathed with the dews 
and beams of that blessed hour!- her glance 
Spoke something past all mortal pleasures, 
As if a kind of holy trance, 
She hung above the fragrant treasures, 

Bending to drink their balmy airs, 
As if she mixed her soul with theirs, 
And twas indeed, the perfume shed 
From flowers and scented flame that fed--"

Namouna, with a lengthy incantation summons the virtues of loving herbs, among them, the jasmine.  In the language of flowers, jasmine is described pleasantly by most sources.

"The image of love, that nightly flies to visit the bashful maid, 
steals from the jasmine flower, that sighs Its soul, like hers, in the shade 
The dream of a future, or happier hour, That alights on misery's brow, 
Springs out of the almond silvery flower, That bloom on a leafless bough."
In the Light of the Harem, Moore

Powell describes the jasmine as symbolic of amiability, sensuality, grace, elegance and attachment. The creeping jasmine blossoms early in spring in my town, and withers as soon as the days grow warm.

In my garden of floral sorcery there grows bluebells, magnolias and hyacinths for grief; red roses, morning glory, solanum, creeping jasmine, swamp rose and periwinkle for binding; hellebore for madness and trilium for beauty.   I love the lazy nodding of lily and the bitter sting of blackberry flower thorns.  There's magic in the preserved essence of a sweet violet in syrup, and the preserved scent of lily in almond oil.  Mock orange flowers and lavender will make magic that smells like expensive soap, melissa and basil flowers when gathered fresh and hung in doorways will send raging spirits to sleep and lure satyrs to bed.  I'm a fair flower sorceress, in my own way.

Further Reading

  • Culpepper's Herbal
  • Mastering Herbalism by Paul Huson
  • Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World: Vol 1 by Cora Linn Daniels & C. M. Stevans
  • The Spellbook of Marie Laveau: The Petit Albert by Talia Felix
  • A Floral Grimoire: Plant Charms, Spells, Recipes, and Rituals by Patricia Telesco
  • Garden Flower Folklore by Laura C. Martin
  • The Meaning of Flowers by Claire Powell
  • A Modern Herbal Vol 2 by Margaret Grieve
  • Viridarium Umbris by Daniel Schulke
  • Collected works of Thomas Moore

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