The Magick of Foxgloves

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram:  @thewandcarver

Foxgloves can both ‘raise the dead and kill the living’. The Digitalis purpurea is, as you may suspect from the name, a common heart medication ingredient.  I can remember when many the elder folk in my family spoke of someone on “the digitalis”.  I did not know at the time that the beautiful Foxgloves my Nana raised right outside from where I was sat were the plants responsible for so many lives saved.  Not her personal plants, obviously, but you know…

Still, at the same time, I was cautioned never to touch the stunning flowers, do not pick them. Just “do not”.  For some children that would have been a dare but for me, it was enough.  Not that I was any sainted child, far from it!  But finding that they could kill me in the blink of an eye was quite enough to keep me from doing any more than observing as bumblebees from far and wide came buzzing round and enjoying the nectar.  That was my Nana’s predominant reasoning with me for not messing about with her Foxgloves… the bees!  She knew that despite having been stung once in a tender place – between my little toe and the next – that I loved bees as much as she did.  So, that was a good enough reason for me to leave the Foxgloves alone.

photo from woodlandtrust.org.uk

Foxglove is a well-known plant across the UK, which produces a spike of purple-pink flowers between June and September. It can grow up to 2m tall and is found in heathland, woodland edges, and gardens. Because of its height, I nearly called this a “magickal tree” but then decided it may be closer to wortcunning… then again, we do not ingest this flower in any way [without doctor’s orders]– upon pain of death, literally – so it is simply this… it is Foxglove, purely a treat for the eyes.

Not to be confused with common Comfrey [Symphytum officinale]. Comfrey could be mistaken for Foxglove when not in flower, as the leaves are similar. However, Comfrey leaves are untoothed, meaning they have smooth edges, and Foxglove leaves are toothed. Great Mullein [Verbascum Thapsus] is another plant Foxglove might be confused with when no flowers are present. However, Great Mullein leaves are untoothed and are hairier than those of foxglove.

Foxgloves can be grown in partial shade, shade, and full sun. I have read where those grown in partial shade do not have Digitalis, or at least to a much lesser degree, but the ones raised in full sun are exceedingly poisonous.  I would always wear gloves either way.

Magickal

Plant Foxglove to lure Faeries into your garden.  Dew collected from the blossoms is used in spells for communicating with fairies, though gloves must be worn when handling the plant as Digitalis can be toxic.  Foxglove grown in a garden around your home offers protection to you and your family.  Do not worry about planting Foxglove if you have animals.  They won’t eat it.

Correspondences

Planetary:  Venus

Zodiac:  Taurus

Gender:  Feminine

Element[s]:  Earth, Water

Powers:  Attracting Fae, Death, Healing, Life, Protection

Deity:  Juno, Flora

Other Names:  goblin gloves [Wales], witches’ gloves, dead men’s bells [Scotland], great herb [Ireland], folk’s gloves, foxesglew/fox’s music [Anglo-Saxon]

Health

We have not read the words of Dr Nicholas Culpeper in some time. As we do not endorse using Foxglove medicinally [unless prescribed by your doctor] due to its deadly nature, I shall still give you Culpeper’s take on the medicinal purposes for Foxglove of which he waxes glowingly… only do keep in mind these remedies were written without proper testing back in the 1650’s and earlier. Culpeper’s book was published in 1653.  Read only for amusement, please.

[Government and virtues] The plant is under dominion of Venus, being of a gentle, cleansing nature, and withal, very friendly to nature.  The herb is familiarly and frequently by the Italians to heal any fresh or green wound, the leaves being but bruised and bound thereon; and the juice thereof is also used on old sores, to cleanse, dry, and heal them.  The decoction hereof made up with some sugar or honey, is available to cleanse and purge the body, both upwards and downwards, sometimes of tough phlegm and clammy humours, and to open obstructions of the liver and spleen.  It has been found by experience to be available for the king’s evil [1], the herb bruised and applied or an ointment made with the juice thereof, and so used; and a decoction of two handfuls thereof, with four ounces of Polipody [2], in ale, has been found by late experience to cure divers, of the falling sickness that have been troubled with it above twenty years.  I am confident that an ointment of it is one of the best remedies for a scabby head that is.

I find it quite odd that he never mentions Foxglove as an aid to heart problems. Still, it was still early doors in medicine those days.

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x

Sources

[1]  King’s Evil, scrofula https://www.britannica.com/science/kings-evil

[2] Likely referring to the Polypody fern https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/ferns-and-horsetails/common-polypody

Cunningham’s Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs, by Scott Cunningham

The Complete Herbal and English Physician, by Nicholas Culpeper

Some little experience

About Isabella

Everything worth knowing, I learned from my Nana. I'm a sixty-four year old cunning woman who practises a solitary English hedgewitch life in as near the old ways as I can. I do not sacrifice small animals, neighbours, nor eat children. I'm more interested in visiting my ancestors on hedgewalks. And, I am owned entirely by my lovely feline companion, Pippa [Lady Philipa Cattington].
This entry was posted in Business, folklore, Herbalism, Magic, Magickal, Pagan, protection, Wiccan, Witchcraft, wort cunning and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s