Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by JD Walker, author of the new Witch’s Guide to Wildcraft.
When I first came up with the idea of writing a book about the magickal uses of common plants found around almost every home in the US, I really didn’t give a thought to the consideration of endangered plants. After all, dandelions, thistles, and pokeweed (to name a few) are hardly in danger of being wiped out. These plants, plus 30 or so other well-known, readily available plants, are what readers will find in A Witch’s Guide to Wildcraft
But the appearance of the delicate flowers of the blood root (Sanguinaria canadensis) in my natural area is a gentle reminder that not all plants used in magickal and ritual workings are safe from contact with humans.
Blood root is a strong magickal ally, good for protecting marriages and clearing negativity. If you need a substitute for blood in a spell or potion, the rich red sap of the root is perfect. That sap is where the plant gets its name.
I planted the crop of blood root in my landscape over 10 years ago. It’s a pricey little root and a slow grower, too. But with time and patience, I have been rewarded with a stand that is gradually escaping into the wild. I couldn’t be happier. I harvest a few roots as I need them and wavy a cheery “Good show!” to those that are wandering off into the woods.
If you come across blood root in your area, gather it conservatively, if you are allowed to gather it in your state at all. In New York, blood root is considered vulnerable. In Rhode Island, native populations of blood root are considered to be of special concern. Even here in North Carolina, where the plant is not listed as threatened or endangered, conservationists are watching it with alarm. Once plentiful stands of this native plant are dwindling. We may see it show up on that dark list before long.
The point is not to scare you away from exploring the wonderous plant kingdom in your area, whether that is an urban, suburban, or rural spot. You have a storehouse of magickal plant allies everywhere you look. But once you step outside your immediate landscape, double check that the plant you want to gather isn’t on a watch list. A good place to start is with the Plant Profile Files at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service at Plants.Usda.Gov. This up-to-date list gives cultural and plant identification information as well as alerts about the plant’s status on a variety lists across the US.
As you harvest, remember to do so respectfully. Take only what you need. Leave plenty for the surrounding wildlife that may depend on a particular plant for food, shelter, or reproduction. Leave some for the next witch or root worker who follows behind you, too.
Our thanks to JD for her guest post! For more from JD Walker, read her article “Weeds: 10 Magickal Resources You Can Find in Your Own Backyard.”