The perfect carpet of suburban green lawn does not exist at our house; at least not yet, but that might change once my husband gets his hands on it. We don’t have a conventional lawn right now at all, we have what’s been called “pasture”. Within it grows numerous types of plants, many of them labeled ‘weeds’ by the more pristine lawn connoisseurs. (A weed’s a flower too, once you get to know it– I saw this quote just yesterday somewhere, probably Facebook.)
One of the wild green things growing freely in our lawn is a plant called Plantain. You can see it in the foreground of this photo. It grows with wild abandonment in our yard, most often in cliquish little clumps here and there. In the early stages you won’t see the long seed stems, just the wide green leaves close to the ground.
Every year I gather bunches of plantain, filling a large glass jar, squashing the leaves down, getting as much as I can into one container, on my knees, going from one island of plantain to another, front and back yard. This is an extraordinarily versatile plant, both magickally and mundanely speaking– which I value greatly. I’m going to start with the conventional side of plantain, some of the practical uses it can be valued for, sort of like nature’s medicine cabinet…
For Insect Bites:
Cover fresh insect stings (from bees, wasps, or hornets) with wet crushed plantain leaves. Replace the leaves as they dry out. The idea is to press out the poison, to draw it out, as well as to relieve any discomfort at the same time.
Wrap bruised wet plantain leaves around the infected area, keeping them wet by covering them with a plastic bag or a wet cloth. Be sure to keep the leaves wet. It’s been said that plantain works on infected finger sores where conventional antibiotic ointments have failed.
An Herbal Ointment: Plantain Liquefied Ointment
(An ointment is a soothing healing balm made with a base of oil, lard, grease, or petroleum, into which you’ve added herbs and plants for medicinal purposes. It’s most simply made by heating your base and adding your other ingredients; then pouring the mixture into a container to cool and thicken, and this process can be helped along if you wish by adding bees wax, coco butter, or honey. If you’ve a mind to, you can add a couple drops of benzoin, glycerin, or a preservative to the mix, but I’m a purist at heart, and either I’ll use a batch of ointment up in good time, or I’ll eventually toss it out and make a new one as needed.)
2 1/2 cups fresh plantain leaves
1 1/2 cups wheat germ oil
1/2 cup honey
Mix the what germ oil and the honey in a blender, adding fresh plantain leaves. Blend well, then scrape this mixture into a container of your choice (I prefer small glass jars), and be sure you label it. To help the mixture harden up to the right consistency, add 2 1/c tablespoons of hot bees wax.
Now the fun stuff, we’re going to leave the conventional world behind and look at all the wonderous magickal– wiccan, pagany, witchcrafty ways we can make use of Plantain. This is a plant that I use a lot– I mean a lot— for a variety of magick and intentions.
First, I’m a fuss-budget, a worry wart– a mother– and I want my family to be safe whenever they are traveling in a vehicle, and I don’t care if it’s across town for a gallon of milk, or across the country to visit family. There must be, absolutely must be, a small bag of plantain and calamus root in everyone’s vehicle. It’s priceless, believed to protect travelers from harm, and as I’ve said before, I take a good deal of stock in it– my oldest daughter has totaled two cars on Omaha’s freeways, and she’s walked away without a scratch both times, her mojo bundle of herbal magick tucked beneath the driver’s seat.
Another protective use for plantain is to keep your property safe from theft: in good old-fashioned mojo tradition, fill a blue flannel bag with plantain and place it in the four corners, or at the four compass points, around your property.
Use plantain magickally to cure illness: it’s believed that by writing the name of the inflicted person three times on a small piece of paper, wrapping this paper in a plantain leaf, and laying the leaf on the heart of the patient, you can chase out the disease and restore good health. (I know I sound like I have a lot of faith in plantain’s magickal and mundane abilities, but for gawd’s sake, use some common sense– you can mix good old folk magick right along with a fabulous thing known as ‘modern medicine’. I don’t want to hear of anyone stopping routine medical care by competent medical professionals and replacing it with folk remedies alone…really.)
If you’re the victim of someone with a big mouth and a little brain, you can stop one and/or the other with a mixture of crushed dried plantain leaves and slippery elm (Shut yo’ mouth…says it all). I think I’d prefer to do a little candle magick with this combo– oil up a yellow candle with a good oil of your choice, roll it in the herbs, place it in a cauldron or other fire-proof container and burn away…and just for good measure, I’d place a slip of paper with the target’s name on it beneath the candle– and if you get your hands on a photo of them, which is so darn easy to do in this internet/Facebook world, you can really go to town. Knock yourself out.