Weeds – A Forgotten Resource

Have you given a thought to what the weeds in your garden might be useful for? Probably not, like most of us. We don’t take the time to have a closer look, to find out more about them, because they’re always there.

Since they have a habit of being in the way and hard to get rid of, we often consider weeds as less valuable than other plants. They grow where we don’t want them to and compete with our expensive, store-bought, often non-native, garden plants.

What most people seem to have forgotten is that weeds have a value too, and that they can be just as beautiful to look at as the ones we buy, and nowhere as intrusive. Domestic weeds also rarely pose a threat to the local flora and fauna, as introduced plants might. There are many examples of introduced plants that take over and wreak havoc. Growing exotic plants also require a lot of energy, which isn’t always produced in an environmentally friendly way. Weeding also uses energy, although mostly physical. In addition to this come herbicides and pesticides that pollute our environment.

When it comes to ourselves and our kind – and by that I mean pagans and other alternatively interested people – weeds have added value beyond being nice to look at. Many of them have medicinal, magical and culinary uses. Some can be used in crafts and cooking as well, and they’re free! They’re the perfect solution for those of us with limited funds. You can go out and pick them your self. Another bonus is that you can find them virtually anywhere – city or countryside – you know you’ve seen them. Between the stones and in ditches, they’re there for you to find.

I’m sure you know of a few weeds already. You might know that Dandelion, Nettle, Yarrow and Clover are used in both medicine and magic. But were you aware that Ground Elder, Common Couch and Chickweed also have their uses? Maybe you know this, or maybe you just pluck them out of the ground without thinking. Most people do the latter and don’t think twice about using a lot of energy and money or even poison to get rid of them. Personally I think all plants are of equal value, and should be treated as such.

If you don’t want weeds in your flowerbeds or your herb garden, I suggest that you try using some kind of cover, like bark, so that they don’t appear at all. Compared to pulling them out of the ground and/or using harsh chemicals, this will spare Mother Nature as well as your back, and your wallet. So it’s worth thinking about.

As for the previously mentioned plants, I thought I’d mention a few properties for each of them, so that the knowledge and appreciation is passed on.

Dandelion (Taraxacum vulgare) can be found in many parts of the world. It’s used to treat urinary tract infection and fluid buildup without draining the body of potassium. The flowers are used to make wine. It’s used to help keep the different realities apart and to call forth spirits. Bury some in the North West corner of yard to bring favorable winds. Use in pouches and charms to make wishes come true.

Nettle (Urtica dioica) is distributed across most of the northern hemisphere, and is widely used as a diuretic and against skin diseases. Magical uses include dispelling darkness and fear, strengthening the will, and aiding in the ability to handle emergencies. Sprinkle in the home to drive off evil and negativity.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) does well in zone 3-8 and is sometimes used for digestive complaints, to increase urine flow, liver and gallbladder conditions, and to ease cramps and pains. Internal use should be avoided during pregnancy. Carry flowers in a pouch or amulet to banish negativity, ward off fear, and promote courage, confidence, and psychic opening. It’s frequently used in marriage charms and love amulets.

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) is found across the northern hemisphere, and is also widely cultivated. It’s been recommended for detoxification, rebuilding, stimulation, cleansing, skin ailments and wounds. Magically, it’s used in potions for lust, and in amulets or incense for money, love, fidelity, success and luck. It protects and blesses domestic animals. Clover is used in consecration of ritual tools made of copper. Sprinkle some around your home to remove negative spirits.

Ground Elder (Aegopodium podagraria) is used for arthritis, rheumatism and gout. It has delicious edible foliage, and this is why it was cultivated in the old days. In some countries it’s considered to be the worst of weeds, as it spreads over large areas of ground by underground rhizomes that are hard to get rid of.

Common Couch (Elytrigia repens) is native to most of Europe, Asia, and North West Africa and has many different uses. It has a long history as a medicinal plant. Among other things, it purifies the blood and acts as an astringent. Magically it’s used in connection with love, happiness, lust and exorcism. It’s been used as a coffee substitute, for salads and in bread making when there was a shortage of flour.

Chickweed (Stellaria media) native to Europe and soothes itching and among other things acts as an astringent and is used for purification. When it comes to magic, it’s used in matters concerning fidelity and love. It’s used in salads, and it’s said to resemble spring spinach in taste to a degree that they’re hard to distinguish from one another. Pregnant women should never use it internally.

These are only short summaries for each of the herbs, there’s much more to be learnt about them, and all the other weeds.

Although this is only a very small comment in a potentially big debate, I hope you share my opinion, or at least that you’ll think twice about cover instead of weeding the next time you do your spring gardening.