I recently acquired a new book entitled The Healing Plants Bible by Helen Farmer-Knowles. It’s a reference book that introduces the reader to plants used in traditional Western herbalism as well as traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. I find its “History, mystery, and spiritual healing” entries on each plant particularly interesting.
I thought I’d explore some of the holiday greens that surround us this time of year to learn of their healing qualities starting with this book and the holiday greens of holly.
I love being immersed in holly at this time of year. I discovered that holly has been associated with the Christmas holiday for a long time. The holly bush brightened homes at Christmas before fir Christmas trees were introduced.
The Romans celebrated the god Saturn to whom the holly was a sacred plant at the “Feast of Sol Invictus” on Decemeber 25. Holly was used to decorate homes, palaces and the marketplaces in honor of Saturn. Holly was formed into wreaths and given to friends as presents.
For the Celtic Druids, the holly tree was sacred and conjoined with the Holly King who ruled from the summer solstice until the winter solstice, ending in a great celebration.
Reading this inspired me to look at The Wild Wood Tarot cards I have and sure enough, there is a major arcana card 9 The Hooded Man who is dressed in an evergreen holly and berry cloak and stands at the midwinter solstice on Dec. 21. (In traditional tarot, The Hooded Man is called the Hermit.) “The Hooded Man survives even in the cold empty winter landscape because of his wisdom and his will. He is at one with the harshness of the climate because he draws upon the strength of the evergreen holly that even in the winter cannot turn to dust and has stored spiritual nourishment to sustain him; and to those who have followed his path, and now are tired and in need of solace, he waits to pass on his wisdom, comfort and guidance.”
The bird in this picture is a wren, an ancient totem bird that flew highest of all creatures on the back of the great eagle. It reminds us “that the smallest of Earth’s creatures is capable of soaring to the greatest heights and seeing beyond the farthest horizons.” The wren is also associated with the Holly King.
Here’s a photo of an American holly tree:
Holly is one of the Bach Flower Essences. It is a fitting support for the holidays as it helps one shift imbalanced energies to feelings of understanding, generosity, tolerance, love and forgiveness. When describing this Bach Flower Essence, Edward Bach said: “Holly protects us from everything that is not Universal Love. Holly opens the heart and unites us with Divine Love.”