The term ‘apotropaic’ is derived from the Greek word ‘apotropaios,’ which means ‘to ward off’ or ‘to turn away. This describes the intention to turn away harm or evil influences, deflecting misfortune and averting the evil eye. Historically up to the present-day, peoples from all corners of our globe have turned to the power of plants for protection in health and magical work in order to shield themselves and their loved ones from harm.
The idea of creating protection is not just dogma that has been created by practitioners of magical work, it is something that we bring into many different aspects of our lives; an umbrella might be carried in the rain, essential oils to protect from being bitten by insects.
Plants have developed their own methods of protection from environmental stresses, strains, insects and pathogens. Just look at nettle and those incredible hypodermic syringe stings, the black thorn/sloe berry tree and the lethal spikes that are covered in bacteria that cause skin infections after being caught on them; similar to the barbed thorns on roses.
This can come in many different forms in the plant world; protection in numbers is found in the hedgerow amongst cousins of the Rose family, like rosehip, sloe, hawthorn, strength and safety in numbers, as well as different growing formations and size of barbs. This is reflected in protests where people risk their freedoms but stand strong together, nourished by their fellow comrades.
Why Use Protection Spells?
Protective measures, or at least being aware that when we are opening up energetically, it is wise to recognise that we want to stay safe and secure so that our hearts can be open, we can receive any gifts from the universe, and we can move forwards with our missions from a place of trust and protection.
We can all feel powerless or vulnerable at some point in our lives, and it’s at these moments, we should remember that we have the ability to empower ourselves with magic. This can often mean the difference between choosing to fear something or overcoming that fear. The negative energy that fear brings with it can have a damaging effect on our health, which usually results in stress and anxiety, and even depression. In contrast, when we’re surrounded by positive energies, we can boost our well-being – mentally, physically and spiritually – and be more relaxed with ourselves.
One way of clearing the negative energies around us and allowing free-flowing positive energies is by using protection spells. Acting as a barrier, protective spells can prevent negative thoughts and feelings from weighing us down. They offer us a sense of security, strengthen our aura and give us the potential to focus on the positive areas in our life, such as good health, happiness and abundance.
You’ll soon start to feel the positive vibrations!
Different ways of harnessing the protective powers of the Herbs:
Burning herbs: in the form of incense, essential oils, dried herbs on the fire
Carrying herbs: like amulets
Wearing herbs: as charms
Bathing with herbs: adding some herbal oils into the bath creates a healing self care ritual.
Drinking herbs: as teas, infusioned waters, decoctions etc
3 Plants for Protection in Magical Work
1. Rose, the Heart Protector
(Rosa), sometimes called The Queen of All Flowers….
The glorious and super-famous Rose flower has become one of our protectors of choice for both magical practice and plant centred work. For years, we have been opening spells, workshops and rituals by anointing our hearts area with Rose Cream.
The gently uplifting and relaxing scent of this flower reminds us of safety and security, and helps all who anoint themselves sigh out any stresses with a feeling of relief. The rose is both gentle, loving and nourishing and fully armed in protective barbed thorns. Rubbing rose cream or oil into our heart space and pulse points brings her protection and offers a psychic shield, fortifying our magical work with a safe shelter to design and create from.
Rose has the ability to offer the heart clear and safe boundaries; counselling discernment to what, or who, we want to let near us when we are feeling raw transiting the most vulnerable of times. Being kind and loving to ourselves is essential for good health. Rose reminds us to take care, to nurture our hearts and nourish our bodies.
Rose is a true friend and mentor during times of sadness, intensity and struggle – gently but firmly supporting us as we delve into the complexity of our own emotions. Honouring and observing the rose thorns offers an important message – create clear and strong boundaries.
Being the flower of love, roses have been used since time immemorial in magic love spells as well. According to the Ancient Greek Poet Anacreon, white roses appeared from the sea foam that dripped off the goddess Aphrodite at her birth. The white colour represented her innocence and purity. Later in her life, she bled on a white rose while trying to heal the wounded Adonis, her blood creating red roses, representing passion and desire.
2. Rosemary, for remembrance
(Salvia rosmarinus) Common folk names – Polar Plant. Compass-weed. Compass Plant.
Rosemary both purifies and protects spaces, as well as enhances memory and mental precision. As a herb of the sun with the energy to heat and circulate, Rosemary is specifically indicated in depressive states accompanied by general debility and weak circulations.
Known as ‘the tip of the tongue herb’, she has been used since ancient times to improve and strengthen memory. Students in Ancient Greece and Rome wore Rosemary garlands around their heads whilst studying specifically for this quality. The plant brings freshly oxygenated blood to the peripheral arteries in the head. Having a focused train of thought and clarity of mind is protective as we keep our wits about us in this state. Our ancestors knew this aspect of the herb well, and in Ancient Greece, students wore wreaths of rosemary to energise their minds.
Protection against disease
The essential oils responsible for rosemary’s heady, uplifting, aroma are extremely antimicrobial; this herb is one of the ingredients of the Thieves Oil of the 16th century. The perfumers survived and thrived through the bubonic plague by protecting themselves with lucky Rosemary.
We grow rosemary in our south facing front garden and have an abundance of the evergreen leaves all year round. Rosemary can be burned as incense, carried as a protective amulet, or added to a bath.
3. Bay, protector against negativity, and bring good luck and fortune.
(Laurus nobilis) Common folk names bay laurel or sweet bay Grecian laurel
The Bay tree is another evergreen we love to cultivate in all the gardens we work in – you do need space as the tree can grow huge, but is an excellent tree to topiary. You can cut all manner of designs, symbols and shapes into a bay.
This is one powerful herb perfect for manifestation work, inviting in prosperity, strongly protective and cleansing and even psychic development. We love to burn large bunches of Bay tied together creating strongly aromatic smoke that we waft around to cleanse and drive out negative, harmful, or unwanted energies.
Protect your money: We carry a large bay leaf in our purses – both to protect the contents and to draw abundance.
A nice exercise to do:
Go to a Bay tree and stand for a moment in quiet reflection. Tell the tree out loud that you would like to let go of a burden.
Pick a large healthy-looking leaf, then go and light a candle and sit with a pen and write out all of your current worries, fears and anxieties onto a piece of paper – condense these down into a few words or symbols and write these on the leaf.
Look at the leaf and focus on releasing what you have written.
Allow all of your stresses to flow out of your body and breathe them out onto the bay leaf.
Once you are finished releasing your anxieties into the leaf, burn the bay leaf, and watch the smoke of the bay leaf carry away your worries out into the cosmos.