Heading into the Yule season one of the plants that is top of everyone’s mind is Mistletoe! We’ll take a look at that magical plant, it’s uses, harvesting, and history.
European Mistletoe (Viscum album) is what is most commonly thought of when we talk about Mistletoe although it is mostly found in Europe and Eurasia. Often used as a substitute, the American Mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum) is native to the United States and Mexico. All mistletoe species are toxic when ingested (this includes berries and leaves, fresh, dry, steeped, poultice, or inhaled as smoke).
Plants in the Mistletoe family are what is called “hemiparasitic” which means that although the plant possesses chlorophyll it is also dependent on it’s host for water and some nutrients. European Mistletoe most commonly attaches to deciduous trees like apple, poplar, willows, lindens, and hawthorns. American Mistletoe can most commonly be found on oak trees.
Planetary Alignment: Sun and Jupiter
Elemental Alignment: Air
Holidays / Festivals: Yule (Winter Solstice)
Mistletoe is said to have strong ties to European Druidry. Some groves of modern Druids are working to preserve mistletoe and cultivate it for it’s magical and medicinal uses. There are many sources of “kissing under the mistletoe” including a possible connection to the Roman feast of Saturnalia, to Europeans plucking a berry for each kiss (meaning plentiful bunches would be in high demand!), to the plant being given to the goddess of love so that it could never again be used for hate (from the death of Balder).
Harvesting Mistletoe on your own may be difficult because of the height at which it grows. There are some tips for harvesting for magical purposes.
- Use a knife or shears made of anything but iron. Aluminum, tin, glass, copper, or brass are all great alternatives. Iron is believed to drive the spirit out of the plant (this is true for any magically harvested herb).
- Don’t let it hit the ground. It’s believed that Mistletoe loses some of it’s magical potency if it touches the ground.
- Avoid damaging the tree. Keeping the tree healthy will mean more Mistletoe next year.
One of the more modern methods of harvesting Mistletoe which is NOT advised is shooting it down with a shotgun. I only mention it here because when Googling “harvesting mistletoe” the shotgun method is one you will see often. Not only is this extremely dangerous, it’s not exactly magical or healthy for the tree the Mistletoe is growing on. As Heron Michelle says “That isn’t magick; that’s a mugging.”
There are three major magical uses to which Mistletoe is usually put: love, prosperity, and protection.
Mistletoe can be used to attract love. One way it can be used for this is by combining the dried leaves and berries along with rose quartz in a small bag to create a sachet. This can then be worn or carried. Can also be added to mojo bags to help attract a mate.
Add to sachets or charms along with other money drawing herbs to increase fortune and finances.
Most commonly Mistletoe is hung where protection is needed. Hung in a bedroom it’s believed to bring beautiful dreams and visions. The wood can be used to make jewelry or talismans to speed healing or aid in conception. Talismans or amulets made from the wood can also be used to protect against negativity, ill will, and unwanted advances. Said to aid in protection from lightening, disease, misfortune, and fire.