I’ve been saving this post for awhile now, not really feeling that the time is right but after last week’s frosty post I thought we could do with something a little warmer and brighter.
I am not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination. My green thumbs have a distinctly black tint. As the advert says “mine is the house where plants come to die”. The only real success I’ve ever really had has been a spider plant and bindweed, and it is bindweed that this post is going to look at.
Gardeners have a love hate relationship with all types of plant commonly referred to as bindweed, which includes field and hedge bindweed and morning glory. The delicate trumpet shaped flowers, which range in colour from pure white to purple and blue, draw busy bees and butterflies alike and are delightful but the plant itself in incredibly invasive. Smothering and chocking any other plant it encounters, it doesn’t take much for bindweed to run rampant through a hedge or garden. As well as having deep root systems that are hard to eradicate the plant can grow from very small remains of the root or stem and it’s very easy to bring in bindweed in the soil of another plant. Despite being perennial the plant can grow up to 6ft in a single season and quickly takes over if not kept in check.
Given all this it is an excellent for me because all I need to do is make sense that the I cut everything back at the end of a growing season and that I clean up really well. But its also a great thing to have around for magical purposes.
In my own setting it is growing around my Hekate altar and this year I started to train a new colony around the altar itself when I realised that it had taken root immediately under the altar itself. It is rather fitting as magically bindweed has liminal associations.
Bindweed blooms in the cool air so most often it is seen in flower at dusk and dawn, those magical moments separating night and day. Most bindweed grows in hedgerows, using the hedge as a structure to support the vines as they grow. This lends the bindweed an association with the hedge itself, which is analogous to the barrier separating this world and the next, life and death. “Hedge Riding” is one way of crossing the divide through trance and meditation and the bindweed forms a bridge with its vines, allowing safe travel between these world’s. Although not associated with Hekate directly I have taken it to be a sign of blessing that the bindweed has taken root in the area although I am going to make sure that it is closely watched so it doesn’t take over.
Astrologically speaking, bindweed had a Saturn association and whilst the flowers are too delicate for use the vines and roots have lots of applications in magic.
Taking the vines, as well as being a visual representation of the passage between world’s their choking and (more important) binding nature has application in binding spells and sympathetic magic. Bindweed vines or ropes made out of vines can be used in tradition binding spells and protection spells and again this is situation where taking the time to gather your own materials and turn them into the finished product really pays off. One thing to consider is the manner in which bindweed grows. Like most vines it grows dosile (aka clockwise). Greater Bindweed (Convolvulus sepium) rejects this wisdom and grows windershine or counter clockwise.
The roots however have a major application which I didn’t know until discussing my own plants in pagan circles. Ever heard of High John the Conqueror Root in Hoodoo formulas? Ever wondered what it is? Turns out it’s a member of the bindweed family. Hedge Bindweed was one of the Native American conjurer’s roots. It is used as a substitute for High John the Conqueror Root (Convolvulus jalapa, Ipomoea jalapa).
Obviously if your a practitioner of Hoodoo you’re going to know and think me silly but I’ll be honest its not really my thing and until now I hadn’t been all that moved to look beyond the superficial.
Its a great all purpose component which can be uded to increase strength, confidence, conquering any situation, obtaining success, winning at gambling, luck, money, love, health, and protection. It really doesn’t get much better than that in terms of being multi-purpose.
High John the Conqueror is also a main ingredient in jalop powder, a Hoodoo blessing and protection powder. The root should be dried and ground into a powder to be added to formula that require it. The below recipe makes enough powder for 6-10 uses and should be burnlt over coals in ritual or sprinkle or blow around an area.
1 oz Galangal herb
1 oz Rosemary herb
1 oz High John the Conqueror herb
1/2 oz Orris Root
High John the Conqueror oil is also used for announcing and protecting objects and places. The root is not naturally oily and purchased the oil is very expensive. It is possible to make an infusion over several weeks by soaking the root in oil. Cut and score the cleaned root and cover in oil and leave it in a dark place, shaking at regular intervals. You might want to replace the root a couple of times. After a few weeks remove the root and decant, adding a new piece of root for visual effect and to continue the soaking process. It should go with out saying but avoid using on the oil on your skin or ingesting it.
This whole situation has been a good reminder of two things for me. Firstly, you don’t need to look far for substitutes for those more exotic seeming ingredients, they can be just outside your back door (literally in my case), just look a little deeper. Secondly that coincidence is a powerful thing. I’m always looking for new ways to strengthen the magical boundaries of my property and an innocuous conversation about a common garden nescience pointed not only to a natural line of defense that I didn’t know was already there but to a whole host of other methods which I hadn’t previous considered open to me.