Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Vodou and Plant Allies - Part One

I am plotting a planting party for the weekend -- and hoping not to get washed out. It's summer, and in September Vision Quest will be held. A weekend of plants allies, tinctures and spagyrics, culminating in the Visionary Feast and an overnight Vision Quest. The faint of heart (and tongue and stomach) need not apply.

So in honor of the Super Moon, I thought I'd share some of my planting tricks with you all. All good Vodouisants should have a garden. No excuses - you can grow herbs in a pot on the window sill if you must.

Let's begin by searching for the right place - a sunny location that gets early morning sunlight is best, but one with late afternoon sun works too. You don't want full sunlight on this garden. Herbs like their light in moderation. Plus you will be able to plant several varieties together this way. Choose your site with care - some plants become pretty bushy, while other remain compact. Be sure the soil is not wet - herbs like dry conditions. Even if your thumb is black, you can grow herbs - they thrive on neglect, actually.

Once you get your locale picked out, prepped the soil a bit (dig it up, turn it over so it's loose and easy). Now add some or all of the following: Coffee grounds, egg shells, fish heads and Epson salts. All are natural fertilizers/additives that will enrich the soil, giving you bigger, healthier plants without resorting to chemicals.

That's the basics (along with tools, gloves, whatever.) Now for the fun stuff - the plants.

This year, I am planting according to the Alchemical alignments, meaning I am planting according to Planetary alignment. This is part of my long range plan for September and my distillation, so it pays to do a little homework upfront. My shopping list so far reads like this -

Moon plants (Water):  Chamomile, Poppies, Mugwort, Orris root. 

Sun Plants (Fire): Bay, Hops, Hibiscus, Marigold

Mercury (Air): Cinquefoil, Damiana, Fennel, Lavendar

Venus (Air): Angelica, Feverfew, Passionflower, Pennyroyal, Vervain, Spearmint

Earth (Earth): Patchouli, Sage, Spikenard, Vetiver,

Mars (Fire): Bloodroot, Cardamon, Coriander, Dittany of Crete, Wormwood

Jupiter (Earth): Hyssop, Valerian

Saturn (earth): Fumitory, Mandrake, Monkshood (wolfbane), Solomon's Seal

The Alchemist of old did not recognize the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto), so there are no solid alignments for those planets. I am also lining stuff up according to their elemental signatures.

Finally, I will also have a Haitian section of my garden. In there goes the following:

Banana trees (the frost hardy ones - its still Philly); Lemongrass; three kinds of Peppermint (Black, Sweet and Hot); four kinds of Basil; Bitter Melon also called Awossi in Creole; Dutchman's Pipe called Tref Carayib in Creole; Rose of Sharon.  I am still working on finding good size plants for this section.  These plants will be set under the protection of their spiritual natures. And they all have both medical as well as magical natures.

So there you go - a beginning list of plants to look for at your local garden centers. Almost everything I listed can be container grown. In fact, the folks at the Cauldron of the Allta Cailleach have some smashing pics of their magical garden - all container grown. Do check them out.

CAVEAT: We have three dogs, one of whom loves to eat stuff. As much as I'd like to reprise my Witches Garden with Henbane and Belladonna, I want my pups alive more. Please be very responsible about what you plant, particularly if you have animals who like to wallow in the greens. Even just rubbing up against a plant like Henbane will allow some of its active ingredients to enter the dog or cat's system. I'll share my own story here: I planted Henbane seeds one year, and was rewarded with a bumper crop of tiny plant-lets. When they were large enough, I transplanted them with bare hands into separate containers. Almost immediately, the scopolamine of the plant hit me, dilating my eyes and making my heart run at 100 beats a minute. It took four hours for my heart to stop jack hammering, and a full 24 hours for my eyes to return to normal. I repeat - all I did was hold the damn things in my hands. Don't do this to yourself, your pets or your children. Please plant responsibly.

I'll talk about what I'll be doing with these herbs in my next post. Happy gardening y'all.

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