Tonight, the Full Hare Moon (Full Flower Moon, the Milk Moon) will rise and Ankhie will be charging a few divinatory items and howling with the pack out near the swamp, much to the chagrin of her already mosquito-irritated neighbors.
This is all weather-permitting, of course. Here in New England a full week of rain and low, heavy skies is predicted, tonight being no exception – so we may not see any moonlight at all. Should that be the case, I will forgo the bog-side baying and spend the evening brushing up instead on moon herbs and magic – courtesy of Karen Harrison and the Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook.
The Herbs of the Moon
Dreamwork and the Inner Self
Energies: psychic knowledge, dreamworking, childbirth, fertility, past life recall, imagination, the subconscious mind
Colors: lilac, silver
Stones/materials: pearl, abalone, moonstone, selenite
Deities: Selene, Nuit, Luna, Artemis, Sin, Inannur, and Khonsu
Herbs: almond, anise seed, cabbage, camphor, cucumber, fennel, iris, jasmin, lettuce, lily, lotus, moonwort, mugwort, pumpkin, violet, watercress, white sandalwood
The energies of the Moon affect the activities of the subconscious mind, the intuition and psychic centers, reproductive system, dreamwork, and the emotions. The plants attributed to the Moon act principally on the major fluids of the body and on the stomach (attributed to Cancer, ruled by the Moon). Their fluidic action is primarily regulatory and eliminative. Much of digestive activity seems also to influence an individual’s moods— the effect of one’s emotions on digestion and the actions of the stomach are well-known and universally experienced, so this dual action of many of the Lunar herbs makes a great deal of sense.
Several Lunar herbs bear marked resemblances to the Moon in her various phases, both in color and shape of plant, fruit, and flower. The white fruits of fennel grow in pairs of curved, oblong shapes that resemble the waxing and waning Lunar crescents. The lily, long associated with Lunar goddesses, has round, bell-shaped flowers that are frequently bright white, and its leaves are oblong or crescent shaped. The fruit of the almond generally is also pure white and ovoid or crescentic.
Those Lunar herbs that deal with fluidity generally act upon water and blood most specifically just as the Moon herself controls the tides and the flow of blood. We are all aware of how the Moon cycles affect the rhythms of the female system and the menses. It is also known by healers involved with surgery that treatments involving the cutting of the body are best scheduled around the New Moon period, when blood flow during operations has been documented to be decreased.
Cucumber helps eliminate excess water from the body and is both laxative and diuretic, particularly effective in dissolving uric acid accumulations such as kidney stones. Fennel and lily are eliminators, laxatives, and diuretics. The lily acts as a digestive antispasmodic, and fennel is commonly used to stimulate the flow of milk in nursing mothers. Mugwort is particularly apt in its Lunar attribution (note the presence of the Moon goddess Artemis in mugwort’s scientific name, Artemisia vulgaris). In addition to its digestive and purgative qualities, a decoction (herbal tea created by steeping the herbs in cold water for twenty-four hours) of mugwort can be used quite effectively to regulate the flow of menstrual blood.
Moon herbs and plants can also aid the female reproductive system, which depends on the Moon for the pituitary gland’s signals in releasing estrogen and progesterone, the female hormones. Anise, fennel, flaxseed, and cucumber all contain phytoestrogen, a natural estrogen. So does brown rice (ever wonder why the bride and groom are pelted with rice? For fertility, of course!).
Several Lunar herbs act on other fluids of the body (generally to eliminate excess) and serve as digestives. Camphor, by reducing fluid accumulation in the lungs and pleural sac, is an excellent remedy for whooping-cough and pleurisy. Bitter almond is used as a cough remedy, while sweet almond is used internally as a soothing syrup and externally as an emollient. White sandalwood is used to reduce inflammation of mucosal tissue and is also a diuretic—a decoction of the wood can be used for indigestion.
Myrrh and sandalwood share both astringent and stomachic properties, but along with jasmin and bitter almond, they share qualities attributed to the Moon that surpass the simply medicinal. Bitter almond and jasmin both have sedative effects, calming the nerves and allowing a more intuitive, psychic Lunar mode of brain function to manifest. Almond, jasmin, sandalwood, and myrrh, when used in Incense, also can trigger the subtle, Lunar mode of perception that is so effective in meditative work involving intuition, psychic awakening, and meditative pathworking through the sense of smell.
Magickally speaking, herbs of the Moon affect the subconscious mind. They aid in the development of intuition and psychic gifts. Since they are so useful in accessing the subconscious, they are excellent for dreamwork, recalling past lives, and breaking old ingrained habits. Moon herbs are often white or pale in color, night-flowering, and soothing to the senses.
Moon Incense and Meditation for a
Gather your mortar and pestle, a dropper bottle half filled with alcohol, a small scoop, and the following herbs and essential oils:
- jasmin flowers
- white sandalwood powder
- jasmin oil
- cucumber oil
- white sandalwood oil
- myrrh gum
Place one small scoop of jasmin flowers and two small scoops of white sandalwood powder in your mortar. Gently crush the flowers into the white sandalwood powder with the pestle. Squeeze any alcohol out of your dropper and shake it well to expel any droplets. Draw up into your dropper the jasmin oil and disperse twenty drops of it into the flower-sandalwood mixture. Clean out your dropper with the alcohol and shake it out again, then draw up the cucumber oil. Disperse thirty drops of the cucumber oil into your mixture. Repeat again with the white sandalwood oil, dispersing forty drops into the blend. Combine well with the jasmin flower–sandalwood powder mixture. Last, stir in a half scoop of your myrrh gum.
In your bedroom, prepare a simple altar. Cover a nightstand or other small table with a cloth. Center an Incense burner on the altar and surround it with a circle of jasmin flowers. Fill your Incense burner halfway with sand to insulate the burner from the heat of the Incense charcoal that you now nestle on top of the sand. Place a lighter or matches by the Incense burner along with a journal and pen. Turn on a soft night-light.
Go draw yourself a comfortable bath. If you like, add a few drops of your jasmin, cucumber, or sandalwood oil to the water (or all three, if you prefer). Relax into the water, slowing your breath. With each exhalation, imagine that you are dispelling any negativity or stress, letting your body melt into the water. With each inhalation, imagine that you are awakening your mind, expanding it, and encouraging your subconscious to emerge. Bathe as long as you like, doing your mindful breathwork throughout.
After your bath, dry off and don comfortable sleeping attire. Go back to your bedroom and light your Incense charcoal. Hold it between your thumb and forefinger and light the end farthest from your fingers. When its sparks are almost to your fingers, place it back on the sand in your burner. Let the coal ignite completely across, then place a small bit of your Incense in the center of the coal. Waft some of the smoke up toward your face and breathe deeply as you greet your subconscious. Tell your inner mind that you will be listening closely tonight. You may ask a specific question or just let your subconscious show you something you need to know.
Leave the Incense burning (if you have an active cat or dog, you may wish to put it in another room for the night so that your burning coal doesn’t get knocked onto the floor). Pick up your journal and place it in a convenient spot by your bed along with a writing utensil. Retire into your soft bed and let yourself drift into sleep. During the night you may be half awakened by active dreams—write down any images, impressions, themes, or characters in your journal any time you wake. Go back to sleep for more dreams. You may be awakened by some of your dreams, but it is not uncommon to sleep the night through.
Before you get up in the morning, while you are still in that half-sleep state, write down any dreams and their major symbols, people, emotional qualities (joy, fear, freedom, amusement . . . ). Over the next few days and nights, you may find that additional dream memories rise to the surface of your conscious mind or that you get psychic impressions that feel important. Keep your journal handy wherever you go so that you can jot down these memories as well.
Later the next day, you can dispose of the charcoal and Incense ashes by simply stirring them into the sand in your Incense burner. As you use your burner in several different sessions over time, you can bury the sand or sprinkle it into your yard, but you don’t have to use new sand each time. Just dispose of the sand when it gets too much Incense debris in it and reuse it until then.