The plant is found abundantly throughout England, on hedge-banks and the sides of fields, in dry thickets and on all waste places. In Scotland it is much more local and does not penetrate very far northward.
Agrimony has an old reputation as a popular, domestic medicinal herb, being a simple well known to all country-folk. It belongs to the Rose order of plants, and its slender spikes of yellow flowers, which are in bloom from June to early September, and the singularly beautiful form of its much-cut-into leaves, make it one of the most graceful of our smaller herbs. (Grieve 1931)
It feels appropriate to begin this year-long project with agrimony (Agrimonia eupitoria) since it was the first herb I studied when I entered the Ovate grade in 2010. This past summer, I was lucky enough to be gifted a baby agrimony from my Grove Mother’s garden. It seems to have pulled through the drought, but I won’t really be able to tell how it’s doing until spring. Once I indulged in picking a leaf and crushed it to release a wonderful lemony-apricot scent. I’m looking forward to having a hearty little patch in my walkway garden!
When I initially started wandering down the Neopagan path, sage and sweetgrass were the go-to cleansing and brightening scents herbs. Once my interests took on a more Celtic flavor, I found myself wondering if there were European equivalents for these plants. Agrimony was suggested as a substitute for the latter, because of its lightening qualities.
According to Cunningham (2003, 27), agrimony is a masculine plant, associated with the element Air and ruled by Jupiter. It is effective for both protection and sleep, and is excellent for banishing negative influences, especially when combined with mugwort. Beyerl (1984, 55) states that most of the traditional lore surrounding agrimony associates it both with sleep, and as a counter-spell herb.
While I do not yet grow it in the quantities I need for a steady incense supply, I have found an extract of agrimony to be effective in helping combat the winter blues.* It’s a very sprightly plant, willing to help and chatter away as the mood strikes it. Because of its cleansing and astringent properties, I would argue it’s more fiery than airy (as Cunningham says), but it’s more the fires of the Sun than those of man.
*It should go without saying, consult a healthcare professional before following any suggestions from the blogosphere! To misquote Bones McCoy, “I’m a druid, Jim, not a doctor!”