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Plant Magic: Yarrow:GEARWE

YARROW frothes at the edges of my yard, wild and cultivated. This year at midsummer I gathered it in the old way, in the dark just after dewfall, just before dawn. It was pressed into clean glass jars, topped with alcohol or vinegar, bundled into hanging to process later. Today I begin the decanting, just past the quarter day, halfway between solstice and equinox. In rhythm I sing its name from my oldest ancestral languages.


Yarrow in Old English is GEARWE meaning enough, prepared, clothing, gear, adornment, arms, armor, well, certainly. It is referenced in a recipe for “Bone Salve” in the Lacnunga manuscript, dated from 1200 CE but compiled from ancient oral tradition. The language alone is sensation, sensibility, relation. Yarrow wyrd ways are feeling: prepared, clothed, armed, well, certain, enough.


Yarrow today means strength, endurance, quiet communion. It calls me to honesty, integrity, to the edge lands, waste places. It reminds me that preparation is as essential as the journey, and transitions demand a reverent kind of rest. Medicinally, I use yarrow to staunch bleeding, as an antiseptic and antiviral. It is a potent wound healer, can be implemented powdered, dry or fresh on any cut or sore. In conjunction with plantain and St. John’s wort (another well traveled friend found in my lineages) it makes a mighty salve. Spiritually I ask yarrow for protection, burn it in smoke rituals for shining/reocan, wash with a yarrow bath in the morning yard, sprinkle yarrow water at the threshold and keep a frond or bloom in my shoe when traveling.


The deeper I move into ritual with yarrow, the more threads begin to shimmer, a memory in my body, pressing forward the naming. Yarrow — a native to North America, Asia and Europe — holds in my cells a knitting of flesh, blood and sinew. A union, between all of the regions that keep my ancestor’s bones, frothing up these thousand flowers.


The living world, geologic, mythic, planted, sacred, the animist world heals and aligns. A gratitude to yarrow, weaver-keeper of the path.

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