Bright red hawthorn berries are a sure indication autumn has arrived. This plant has a lot of magical and healing abilities. In Bulgaria hawthorn wood is used for doors and thresholds, in order to protect the house. People also place a twig with the berried below their threshold to prevent diseases from entering. The wood is good for making crosses, and simply having a stick from the tree on your person will ensure you can travel safely at night.
My grandmother used gloves and a special wooden hook to gather the fruits. She used the branches to make a wreath to protect the house and livestock. I always imagined that little fairies and gnomes hid in its branches, but whenever I looked, the only thing I could find was a bird’s nest.
I’m sure Baba Yaga included them in her magical potions, since she is well-versed in the secrets of the forest. You may think of her only as an old crone who eats children, but she has many faces, and one of those is healer. She is a znahar, a woman who heals and restores life with herbs.
Since Baba Yaga lived in the boundary between the living and the dead, she could use hawthorn to ensure their spirits didn’t bother her. It’s believed that where black hawthorn grows, no ghosts will wander.
She possibly also used the wood to make amulets for the good girls and boys who ventured into her glen in the woods, to make sure they arrived safely back home. Hawthorn should be worn on three particular places on the body: around the neck as a necklace, on the wrist as a bracelet using red thread, metal, or leather, or on the head as a wreath.
An old Bulgarian proverb about hawthorn says:
“On the white in a black hawthorn you will look for a black vein,
In a tree grown on a slope, lies a powerful force.”
Hawthorn (Crataegus species) has been a remedy for heart problems at least as far back as the first century. It has a calming effect that dilates blood vessels, thereby improving blood supply to the heart and brain. The prophetess Baba Vanga claimed drinking a decoction made from hawthorn flowers four times a year was a way to prevent heart disease.
Likewise, hawthorn lowers blood pressure, calms the nervous system, and improves sleep. The herb was one of my grandmother’s favorite cures. She added a few drops of hawthorn along with some of valerian onto a sugar cube whenever she was stressed or had to endure major challenges in her life. Considering she lived to 99, she was able to successfully overcome these problems with her herbal cures. Hawthorn is also popular for teas, wines, juices, and even snacks.
Always make sur to check with your medical provider before using herbs in your diet or for medical purposes.
Our book 77½ Magical Healing Herbs provides much more information about the magical and healing properties of herbs, the ones used in the Eniovden (Midsummer’s Day) wreath, plus much more… You can get the book here: https://77-1-2-herbs.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders
If you’d like to learn more about Baba Yaga, we are running a Kickstarter campaign during the month of October, starting on October 4. This will be part of the “Witchstarter” program that Kickstarter is promoting. Along with our campaign, you’ll find all kinds of witchy items to browse through. We’ll be sharing many of these with you in our weekly newsletter, so be sure to follow along.
You can get a preview of our Baba Yaga campaign here. We welcome your feedback.
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