Some of our most important medicines, because they refuse to forsake us, go undercover when the empire comes, and will take on any cloak or name in order to retain their place in the community. Just like Our Lady of Guadeloupe–if she needs to put on a christian costume in order for her people to relate with her safely, she will.
Angelica is like this, a plant we consider to be from Scandinavia but who thrives all the way across, and down into central Europe as well. She is named for angels, because of her light, and because she can protect us when we engage with spirit work.
Norwegian, Swedish and Dutch names for her are versions of kvanne, and Saami names for her are fadnu and boska, according to the plant’s age. All parts are used, flowers, leaves, stalks eaten like fresh fruit in the summer, and of course, root dug later in the year.
She is a very generous plant–listing her ‘uses’ is a project, for she is a good help to: thickness and blood stagnation, emotionally emptiness or spiritual cutoff, mental dullness, anguish and fatigue, headache from stress; with flu, chills, lung congestion, digestion, appetite (bitter), colic, liver insufficiency, weak heart, blood pressure too high or low, imbalance of menstruation, prostate problems, arthritis, nerve problems, bruising (external), and cravings for tobacco and alcohol (these all gratefully from Matthew Wood’s findings).
As with so many plant medicines, we can see the plant’s generosity and breadth in this list, and the modern mind may have trouble with how a plant might mechanically do all these things. She can do them because she doesn’t do it mechanically alone–she works with energy, and a single kind of energy can help us with a spectrum of sufferings. These spectrum of sufferings, too, if we choose to see them this way, are all things that can be related to unwell presences or beings hanging around us, and our bodies’ responses to that.
All of these are true, and you can see why she is so important to my northern people, why they would care so gracefully for her along wild roads, and why “a home is not a home without an angelica in the garden.” Why she was named for the holy spirit.
For she is a queen, she has that kind of command. She offers psychic and spirit protection–not by fighting others for you, not by absorbing things for you, or any of the other myriad ways that protection works–but rather by being so queenly and so bright that the unwellness is intimidated by her. Toxic energies don’t feel like being around her, they leave when she arrives. What a good and specific kind of protection this is.
She’s considered a ‘shamanic herb’ for the Saami and we can see why, because when traveling among the worlds, or when engaging the side of spirit, where, let’s be honest, there’s as much scary stuff as there is here on the side of incarnation, it’s good to have a queen with you, one whose very accompaniment will send the slippery unwell beings scattered, so that you can journey with safety and confidence. She does this. For these purposes, the dried root is worn, or hung in the house, or burned a bit like incense. Perhaps a little tea is sipped, but an infusion, not decoction–decoction will bring out her earthier, more bitter qualities, great for the physical ailments, but with spirit stuff, we want a light tea or smoke.
There’s tales of her helping people face the plague, and I believe it. She frightens away not-beneficial external influences around us, as well as ones we’ve swallowed, too, ones that have become part of us. Her light chases away all.
She’s a good friend to have in these darkest days, when we feel the cosmos tip toward all aspects of the darkness, both the fertile womb as well as the nightmares, the illness, the ghosts. Power is here in the dark, on sides of both illness and health. We need powerful allies to make the whole journey productive. Queen of light, root of the holy spirit, is one such relative.
I’ve gotten some beautiful angelica root this year from the beloved Sonoma County Herb Exchange. I have made a small number of root-amulets, protection for your house or to carry with you. Should you want to purchase one, let me know by email.