Good Day Sunshine: St. John's Wort
Updated: Jun 6
"St. John’s wort doth charm all the witches away.
If gathered at midnight on the saint’s holy day.
And devils and witches have no power to harm
Those that do gather the plant for a charm:
Rub the lintels and post with that red juicy flower.
No thunder nor tempest will then have the power.
To hurt or to hinder your houses: and bind
Round your neck a charm of a similar kind." —Unknown
When wandering through the hills and woods, I seldom have a plan. And like the other months, June holds unexpected treasure. It’s up to us to arrive willingly, open to whatever mysteries might be revealed. A few weeks ago, what was weedy and brown is now waving layers of green, flowerets of yellow, and reaching for the perfect blue sky.
This year, the St. John’s Wort — Hypericum perforatum L. — bloomed well before Midsummer’s Eve. It is named St. John’s Wort because it flowers around the feast of Saint John— June 24th—also close to the Summer Solstice.
I did not hold back my cry of joy. Because, more than anything, and at that moment, I secretly anticipated the explosion of bright yellow blossoms. Carefully, I touch the petals, celebrating red fingertips, magic, and the promise of healing. Since the sap of the plant turns bright red when exposed to air, it was initially equated with the blood of St. John the Baptist.
St. John’s Wort is used in all corners of the world for crafting oils, salves, and balms intended for healing deep wounds, bruises, and venomous insect and animal bites.
Infusions — tea or tinctures address many ailments, including kidney stones, fevers, jaundice, gout, and rheumatism.
St. John’s Wort offers relief for bed sores, lockjaw, and insomnia. Native Americans used St. John’s Wort for stomach distress, skin injuries, bleeding, and snake bites.
Like many other important medicinal plants, it is commonly found in waste areas, roadsides, and fields. Its traditions and usage date back to ancient Greece. European peasants believed that the plant protected them from witches, evil spirits, imps, demons of melancholy, and lightning. It was common for people to wear a sprig around their neck for protection.
For Centuries, Europeans have used St. John’s Wort to alleviate nervous disorders, hysteria, and what was once referred to as insanity. More recently, this remarkable plant is known and accepted for treating depression, anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, and virus infection. Currently, there are many commercial preparations available. I give thanks for the opportunity to gather blossoms daily until mid-September. I have never planted this; it shows up as needed. Good day, Sunshine! Mj Pettengill Marigold Moon Wildcraft Apothecary