So, last week we wrote about how Elm was very much a love tree so keeping along those lines whilst Spring-time still has many thinking of love, what do you know about Dittany of Crete? Most would probably say “astral projection” and you would be quite right! But, it is also a love herb!
Dittany of Crete hails from the Mediterranean and which grows wild only on the Aegean isle of Crete. It is a small and fuzzy perennial, with beautiful pink flowers that appear in the summer. In Cretan tradition, it symbolises love and is thought to be an aphrodisiac. The local name for Dittany is “Erontas,” referencing Eros. It grows only in the most inconvenient places— on the sides of cliffs and gorges. If a young man wished to truly prove his love to a young woman, he would “climb any mountain” [wondering now if that is where that line from the song came from?] to gather a bouquet of the fragrant herb to present to her. As the legend goes, these young men were known as “Erondades” [love-seekers]. To obtain a bouquet of Dittany, it was said, you had to truly be in love. I only hope they were met with satisfactory results!
Warnings come with many of my writings, therefore, I feel this one must come early on – Beware the sellers of Dittany of Crete. It is best to buy directly, however, there are a few reliable re-sellers. It is a very, very expensive herb. I have seen some unreliable types on certain venues selling everyday Oregano for Dittany. Yes, they are technically cousins, but they are far from being the same. Do your research before buying.
It is said if you burn Dittany on a charcoal disc along with Dragon’s Blood resin and stare at the rising smoke, you will see the face of your intended love. This same incense can be used to spice up a stale love life in the bedroom. You can make love poppets or sachets with the herb along with lavender and other herbs which encourage love. In European folk magick, Dittany is regarded as a consummate love herb. Feeding it to your intended is supposed to cause them to fall irretrievably in love with you.
Dittany is perfect for manifestations of spirits when burned as an incense. It can be mixed with equal parts of vanilla, benzoin and sandalwood to make an astral projection incense. It is believed to produce spirit manifestations in its smoke. Soon we will be offering a Samhain Hedge Rider Incense in our Etsy Shop for this purpose. All I can say now is that it won’t be as simple a recipe as the one above and will have not only the ability to travel through the veil but to be protected whilst there as well.
The leaves can not only be burned as incense but can also be burned in the All Hallow’s Eve fire when seeking communication for wisdom from the other side. Dittany is associated with the Underworld, and is related to Persephone, Orris and other deities whom assist with transport into that realm.
For divination, Dittany can help with the activation of your Third Eye, and it has a traditional use in its ability to help manifest our psychic vision. You can make a poultice of the leaves to rub on your Third Eye or use a Dittany of Crete Oil. Fresh Dittany can be used to make an infusion with a basic oil such as olive oil or sunflower oil.
According to Scott Cunningham, the “juice of Dittany will drive away venomous beasts, so rub it on your body before entering their domains.” I’m guessing that applies to mossies or any kind of biting or stinging pest. And, as far as I know perhaps it extends to snakes and the like as well. Personally, I just prefer to stay far and away from the realm of venomous beasties!
Dittany of Crete has been used in times past as an external poultice for wounds and bruises. It has antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties due to the phenol carvacrol. Nowadays it is used for digestive tract disorders including cramps, stomach problems, and worms in the intestines. It is also used for urinary tract and genital tract disorders. A beverage of this herb relieves headaches and neuralgia. Other uses include treatment of epilepsy, spasms, fluid retention, and liver diseases. Please consult with your GP before attempting to diagnose and heal yourself at home. There may be more serious illness at hand than you would know of.
Planetary: Mercury and Venus
Zodiac: Libra and Gemini
Gender: Masculine and Feminine
Element: Air and Water
Powers: Divination, Manifestation, Love, Astral Projection, Protection
Deity: Eros, Venus, Mercury, Artemis, Persephone, Zeus
Other Names: Hop Marjoram, Erontas, Hop Plant
“A branch of healing dittany she brought,
Which in the Cretan fields with care she sought:
Rough is the stem, which woolly leafs surround;
The leafs with flow’rs, the flow’rs with purple crown’d”
From Virgil’s Aeneid
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Cunningham’s Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham