Weeds for Witches Part III: Dandelion
Where it Grows: Where is Dandelion not found? With it’s fluffy seeds easily carried by the winds, Dandelion has spread across the world with its deep roots helping it to evade weeding attempts. You can intentionally grow them from seed, or by transplanting, to more easily keep track of the age and size of the roots as well as for lettuce greens. If you transplant, don’t be alarmed if the leaves die. The root is still alive and the leaves will come back once the root is used to its new home.
Growing & Harvesting: Everyone with a garden or a lawn knows Dandelions well. Mostly from cursing them while digging them out of their yards or spraying their roots with harsh chemicals to kill them. There is no need to plant Dandelion as it will grow everywhere regardless and is usually quite plentiful. Stop killing them with chemicals right now and let them grow. Collect the bright yellow flowers before they go to seed on a sunny day to make sweet Dandelion wine. Instead of tossing Dandelions you dig up into the compost pile, save the leaves for salads or cooked greens and save the roots to dry for magic or roast for a delicious coffee substitute.
Magic: Dandelion belongs to Hecate and is mainly a chthonic plant associated with the underworld and necromancy. It is beloved by bees, goats, pigs and is considered a toad plant (all have a certain underworld nature), with bees sometimes acting as psychopomps in old folklore. Dandelion is also a very Mercurial weed associated with the air element explaining its use in aiding in communication with the dead and increasing psychic ability. Drink an infusion of the dried and roasted roots to enhance your psychic abilities before performing divination or summoning spirits of the dead. Medicinally, Culpepper writes that Dandelion has an “opening and cleansing quality… it openeth passages”. This can be applied to sympathetic magic, meaning this weed is excellent for walking between realms and communing with the spirits that reside.
Drink Dandelion wine, made from the flowers, to aid in communion with deities and spirits of the upperworld. Both the root tea and the wine make good offerings to Hecate. Pour some in a small hole dug in the earth and cover it, walking away without looking back (an ancient Greek custom when offering to underworld deities). In folk magic the seeds are blown to make wishes. Imagine all those little seeds you blew germinating and growing – your wish sympathetically growing and coming into being a hundred times over. Large Dandelion roots are also a very fitting and traditional root to make alrauns (root poppets) from.
Dandelion Root Tea (Coffee Substitute)
Dig up larger two year old roots and scrub them with an old toothbrush or a potato scrubber to clean. Then chop them up into medium dice and place on a baking sheet in a 250°F oven for about two hours – maybe giving them a shake or a toss now and then. When they turn a milk chocolate brown and have shrunk in size, they are ready. Grind the dried toasted roots as you would coffee beans and either run through a coffee maker or place in a tea bag or ball as you would infuse a cup of tea. Try plain or add cream and sugar for a caramel tasting treat. Toasted Dandelion roots also make a great addition to chai recipes and can be substituted for the black tea leaves.
2 cups of freshly picked Dandelion flowers (no stems)
7.5 cups (4 lbs) brown or demerara sugar
1 gallon water
1 tbsp of yeast on a piece of toast
Add the water to a stock pot with flowers and bring to a medium boil for 20 minutes. Strain out the flowers adding the liquid back to the pot and then add the sugar. Peel one lemon and the orange adding the rind to the pot and then juice them and add that too. Remove from heat when the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool to a lukewarm temperature and then add the yeast on a small piece of toast. Cover with a dish cloth and leave on your counter to ferment for two days. Skim off any foam and take out the peels. Pour into a 1 gallon carboy and add just the peels of the remaining two lemons. Cap with an airlock and keep an eye on it the first couple days to make sure it doesn’t leak liquid everywhere. Allow to ferment for six months before bottling – be sure the yeast is dead before doing so!
Medicine: Dandelions are rich in vitamins and nutrients. It is one of the best weeds to incorporate into your regular diet. It is most well known as a diuretic to help the liver and gallbladder, but it is also popular for cleansing the blood. Home brewers love to joke about how drinking Dandelion wine doesn’t count as drinking as the properties of the Dandelion fix any problems the alcohol causes as you drink it. Dandelion makes a great detoxifying tonic and eating the fresh greens can actually aid in bone health and growth. The leaves are bitter so be sure to mix them with sweeter greens when eating fresh. To make a tonic tea, harvest the plant whole before it flowers or just the leaves while it’s flowering and steep them in boiled water just as you would a tea. Drink daily or just for a short period of time especially before changing your diet. Dandelion is also a great flower for honey production as it flowers in the fall as well as the spring allowing bees to have one last mad honey-making dash before winter. Dandelions produce a dark rich honey.
- A Modern Herbal vol.I by Margaret Grieve
- A Sip Through Time by Cindy Renfrow
- Culpepper’s Complete Herbal
- Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs
- The Herb Book by John Lust
- Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by cat yronwode
- Medicine Grove by Loren Cruden
Note: Scylla also recently posted a useful Dandelion article on her blog titled: “The Dandelion: The Orbit of The Solar System in an unassuming, occasionally bothersome, little flowering weed“