Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Meadowsweet is so sweet!

I was doing some research on another upcoming post which mentions meadow sweet.
     Meadowsweet is one of the nine blossoms that the magicians Math and Gwydion created Blodeuwedd with. You have to wait on the other post to find out who she is if you don't know yet.
     Meadowsweet goes by other names such as Queen of the Meadow, bridewort, meadwort, dropwort and spirea.  The plant was named meadwort because it was use or can be use to flavor mead, giving it a unique almond flavor. If you want to 'spice' up a glass of wine you can just add a leaf or add fresh leaves to flavor sorbets and fruit salads.
     It's a native of Europe and can be found in meadows that are close to water or that sustains water for a period of time. It is a perennial  plant and related to the rose family that can grow up to five feet. It has yellow, white and sometimes pink flowers giving off a pleasant wintergreen and sweet almond scent. It blooms from June until August. Both the leaves and the flowers are used which are gathered during the summer months when the petals have opened.
     In the beginning of the aspirin business it was a key ingredient. During the colonial period it was used as an anti-inflammatory to reduce the symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism.  It is also gentle on the stomach and was very favorable to 'cure' upset stomachs, diarrhea and heartburn. It was also used to help treat feverish colds.
     Queen Elizabeth I loved using the plant for making stews and also placing it on the floors of the castle(s). Many of our European ancestors used it by placing in on the floors of their homes, in their cabinets and clothing chests because of the sweet fragrance that it gives off. It was also useful to deter rodents.
     At many weddings it was strewed on the floor and also used in the bouquet of the bride giving it's name, bridewort.
     Many cooks used it to flavor beers, mead, wines and added to soups for the almond flavor.
     Two English herbalist, John Gerard ( 16th Century ) and Nicholas Culpeper ( 17th century ), listed and believed the flowers with distilled water was good for relieving the eyes of burning and itching sensations and also to clear your eye sight.
     Those that would make cosmetic would soak it in rain water and use it as an astringent and skin conditioner.
     In Nottingham shire it was known as "Old Man's Pepper" because the flowers was dried and then smoked.
     The druids held the plant in high favor as it was one of their three most sacred herbs. Flower remains has been found in burial mounds or cairns of cremated remains which dated from the Bronze Age in Fan Fael, of Carmarthenshire in West Wales and in beakers in Fife, Scotland.
     It was told that it was given to the Irish hero Cuchulainn which he would drink to calm himself during his fits of rage. The moon goddess Aine was thought to have given the plant it's sweet fragrance.  In the county of Galway it was believed that if a person had fallen under the magic of the fairies and was wasting away, the plant could be placed under the bed to cure the victim by morning. The Celts used the roots to create a black dye and the leaves to make a blue pigment.
    The plant was favored mostly because of it's medicinal purposes. There's not many references to any magical uses.  It was thought that you can use a fresh plant on your altar as decoration for any love magic. The dried herbs can be used in love potions because of it's connection to the Goddess Bloduewedd. It was also used in magic to discover any thieves in your life.

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