Filipendula ulmaria (Meadowsweet)

Meadowsweet, water-mint, and vervain were three herbs held most sacred by the Druids. —Grieve 1931

This is another one of those handy druidical herbs, particularly for those interest in incorporating European herbal traditions back into their practice. Meadowsweet, like Agrimony, is a brightening flower with a strong, sweet scent. A member of the rose family, It can be found growing in damp meadows. The history of its use is fascinating, going back to Bronze Age burials found scattered over England, Scotland, and Wales (Carr-Gomm & Carr-Gomm 2007, 74); in more recent times, meadowsweet was placed in bridal bouquets (ibid., 72). As such, many who follow a Druidic path associate this flower with transitions, be they as large as marriage, death, and puberty, or as mundane as a new car or computer.

Magically speaking, Meadowsweet was one of the three herbs Gwydion and Math used to create Blodeuwedd for Lew; thus she has been sacred to Flower Face, and later to the Virgin Mary as well (Beyerl 1984, 233). Beyerl also states that love magic performed with her aid on Walpurgisnacht will result in a romantic mate (ibid., 331). Being associated with both Gemini and Mercury (ibid., 347) would indicate a cleansing quality, something born out by its use as a strewing herb in the Elizabethan period. Meadowsweet’s scent promotes peace and cheers the heart (Hopman 1995, 98). In this was, I find her to be a decent substitute for Sweetgrass.

Meanwhile, Cunningham sees Meadowsweet as a masculine herb associated with Jupiter and Air (2003, 172). Frankly, I can see an argument being made for both Jupiterian and Airy connections, but masculine? That goes against not only my own experience of the plant, but against most of the folk wisdom surrounding her as well. However, Cunningham does give a nice little spell for determining the identity of a thief: if meadowsweet gathered on the Summer Solstice and place on water sinks, the thief is a man, but if it floats, it is a woman (ibid.).

Meadowsweet should not be underestimated. Her scent is strong, and she was quite possibly used to flavor ale in the Neolithic period (Carr-Gomm & Carr-Gomm 2007, 72), which in my mind links her with the many ecstatic practices that may or may not have surrounded alcohol in ritualized settings. It often seems as if herbs associated with sweetness and light are given short shrift by those who are attracted to the Poison Path. Meadowsweet is no lightweight: she can lift depression, bring clarity, and ease aches and pains.  Remembering the story of Blodeuwedd, this was no tame maiden who sat at Llew’s feet. She chose her own way, even though it led her to be shunned in the darkness. She became a goddess of the wild places, guarding the secretes of the deep woods and deeper night. Meadowsweet has the strength to bring joy from darkness, something for which I, for one, am grateful.

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2 thoughts on “Filipendula ulmaria (Meadowsweet)

  1. “Beyerl also states that love magic performed with her aid on Walpurgisnacht will result in a romantic mate”

    I actually didn’t know that! 😀 The more you know, I guess. 😉

    And… ah, Blodeuwedd. While I’m not deity-focused anymore I remain grateful to her for teaching me how to choose my own way and “go feral”, and I always think of her when I see meadowsweet.

    “It often seems as if herbs associated with sweetness and light are given short shrift by those who are attracted to the Poison Path.”

    It seems like anything associated with sweetness and light is given short shrift by people who think they’re more hardcore than thou, but don’t get me started on that rant. 😉 Speaking from my own experience, it is a lot *harder* to bring joy from darkness, than to just stumble around in the dark. So there’s a lot to be said about the power of lifting depression and bringing clarity, IMO.

    Anyway, good post! 🙂

    Like

    • So, I just looked at this post again today and realized that WP ate my reply. Sad.

      Anyway, I was actually thinking about our experiences with Blodeuwedd and her people when I was writing this. I mean, Meadowsweet is called “Queen of the Meadow” for a reason, ya know? 😉

      Like

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