The Heretic's Herbiary

by Lyssa Delgado

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Welcome to my weekly article, The Heretic's Herbiary! In this weekly article, I will be discussing different herbs and plants and their connections to witchcraft through different cultural histories. I will be taking requests for herbs to cover, and this week will be the poppy!

Poppies, which come in an array of varieties including corn, oriental, and opium, have long been cultivated throughout Southern Europe and Asia, and later North America, mostly due to their popularity as a beautiful garden addition. All parts of the plant are toxic, except for the seeds which can be eaten or the pod sap distilled into opium. The seeds can also be distilled into liquids or eaten as part of pastries.

Like all plants, poppies have a rich history of occult and spiritual uses. Poppies are deeply associated with love, partly due to their red color. In Persia, the poppy represents love and those that have died for love's sake. We see this same tradition in the Greek myth of Demeter and Mekon. Mekon, being a mortal, died, leaving Demeter to mourn his death. In her despair, she turned Mekon into a poppy, thus symbolizing their love and the remembrance of such love. Furthermore, poppy blooms only last about a day, symbolizing the loss of a young life or a life cut short. The Egyptians included poppies in their funeral and burial rites to assure life after death (remembrance), evidence of which dates back some 3,000 years. This idea of remembrance was captured more recently in the famous poem In Flanders Fields by John McRae which describes the brutalities of trench warfare during World War I in fields of poppies. Red poppies are commonly worn by veterans and distributed among the graves of veterans during Memorial Day, Veterans' Day, and Remembrance Day to symbolize remembrance of those we have loved and lost to war

Poppies, especially red poppies, can be used to symbolize love, peace, and remembrance of those we have loved and lost. Use poppy seeds and flowers in love spells and rituals to induce love or bring love to you. The seeds are sometimes used in kitchen witchery to induce love, but be mindful that eating the seeds can show up on drug tests.

The depiction of poppies springing up on a battlefield and being used during funeral rites not only associates the flower with remembrance but death as well. Legend says that white poppies sprang from the battlefields of Genghis Khan. After the battle of Waterloo, it is said that poppies sprang from the blood scattered across the field, just as they did at Flanders after WWI.

The idea that poppy is associated with sleep dates back further to the Greek god, Hypnos, the god of sleep. Hypnos is sometimes featured carrying a poppy stalk or a horn filled with poppy juice, again likely related to opium which has been used as far back as Mesopotamia. Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams, is also said to use poppies to help shape the dreams of mortals. This is likely where the name morphine originates.

For all of our kitchen witch friends, add poppy seeds to teas or baked goods to induce love, good dreams, and positive memories of those loved and lost!

A good recipe for brewing the seeds into teas is a mixture of a tiny amount of poppyseeds after they have been thoroughly soaked, a blend of hibiscus tea base, lemon verbana. and optionally a bit of mint.

Please note that this is for ig purposes only ;) and please do not make poppyseed tea at home without a thoroughly safe and approved recipe.

That's it for this week's Heretic's Herbiary! Remember to comment with an herd or plant you'd like to see in the article next time! Have a magical day!


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