Honeysuckle

Playing catchup for week 17 of PBP.

Honeysuckles are cleansing, consuming and digesting, and therefore no way fit for inflammations. Take a leaf and chew it in your mouth and you will quickly find it likelier to cause a sore mouth and throat than cure it. If it be not good for this, what is it good for? It is good for something, for God and nature made nothing in vain.  —Culpepper quoted in Grieve 1931.

So many of the plants that I’m talking about in this series were significant in my childhood. I’m beginning to feel a bit repetitive when I find myself writing “When I was a kid…” over and over again. But it seems that many of the relationships I have with plants were begun when I was young, and many of my memories and experiences date back to that time. Honeysuckle is another one of those plants. He was one of the first (along with wild blackberries) that I learned to identify as safe to eat (the nectar, NOT the berries!), and I remember going outside nearly daily to bury my nose in his fragrant flowers. The variety that grew in our back yard had a mix of white and creamy yellow flowers, and I found the scent both calming and uplifting.

There are hundreds of species of honeysuckle (Lonicera), most being native to Europe and Asia, several of which become invasive when introduced outside their native ranges. Much like clematis, is likes to have cool feet and a sunny top—that is, roots in the shade and sun on the leaves—and can be found on the edge of the woods. It blooms prolifically in the summer, and seeds itself with just as much gusto.

There is quite a bit of magical lore surrounding Honeysuckle. Grieve says Culpepper associates him with Mercury,  Cancer, and Leo, which makes him a good ally for negating problems caused by Jupiter (at least in regard to physical health problems). Meanwhile, Cunningham associates him with Jupiter and Earth, for magical purposes, making him a good addition to money spells as well as being protective and an aid in perceiving non-physical realities (2003, 140); Hopman concurs about his ability to increase both money and psychic ability (1995, 50), though like Culpepper she prefers the associate of Mercury to Jupiter (124). Personally, I associate Honeysuckle with Mercury and Air, which results in dealing with money problems by negating any negative influences from Jupiter, rather than drawing on Jupiter’s money-making qualities directly. Cunningham doesn’t draw any connections  to specific deities, but Beyerl states that Honeysuckle may be used to pass through the mysteries of Cerridwen’s cauldron (1984, 225) and that the dried bark and wood make an excellent autumn incense when ground (333); Beyerl also says that honeysuckle flowers should grace the ritual circle at the Vernal Equinox (329), but this is a hard thing to achieve as the plant doesn’t usually bloom until June!

A useful meditation to connect more deeply with the Honeysuckle spirit can be begun by sitting either at the base of a physical plant, or by anointing yourself with honeysuckle essential oil or hold a branch or flower of the plant to anchor yourself to his energies. As you breath slowly in and out, inhaling the fragrance of the flowers or oil, let the plant wrap around and enfold you in his twining vines. Rather than being consumed or smothered, I usually find that Honeysuckle will begin lifting you upwards, carrying you on his branches until you’re cradled in nothing but vines and sky. What do you notice from this new perspective? Just rest and let your thoughts move in and out with your breath, and the breath of the Honeysuckle. When you’re ready to come down, ask him to lower you gently back into your body. Feel yourself on firm ground, anchored and secure in your physical body. Ask Honeysuckle if there is anything you can do in return and wait for his answer. Thank the plant for helping you connect with the larger spirit, and ground out any excess energy.

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