Familiar Foxglove

Digitalis purpurea drawings by Franz Köhler

Plants are and have been heavily associated with witchcraft, witches, and the supernatural for a very long time. Its partly why some refer to Witches as the Plant People, and why plants are connected to various spirits and entities according to folklore, oral tales, and supernatural beliefs.

It is from the discovery of the “familiar plant” that I saw plants as more than ingredients and tools. Instead, they can become protectors, aids, and even teachers to the craft. Plants can be witches too.

What can plants teach us? What can foxglove teach me? They show us the usefulness of witchcraft, the ties between the physical and spiritual, the dangers, the good, and the bad, “Digitalis poisoning can cause heart block and either bradycardia (decreased heart rate) or tachycardia (increased heart rate), depending on the dose and the condition of one’s heart. Notably, the electric cardioversion (to “shock” the heart) is generally not indicated in ventricular fibrillation in digitalis toxicity, as it can increase the dysrhythmia.[citation needed] Also, the classic drug of choice for ventricular fibrillation in emergency setting, amiodarone, can worsen the dysrhythmia caused by digitalis, therefore, the second-choice drug lidocaine is more commonly used,” (source).

More information about foxglove poisoning found here 

Foxglove is what it is. It is a healer and it is a killer much like the witches from folklore. To me, it teaches that witchcraft is a poison and a cure, which is determined by the intent and the knowledge behind it. Like the foxglove, I must accept all of witchcraft for what it is not just the healer that it can be, otherwise I’ll risk poisoning myself.

Foxglove, specifically, has a strong connection with fairies and the otherworld. One of its nicknames include “Fairy’s Glove.” Other nicknames include, “Witch’s Glove, Dead Men’s Bells, Fairy’s Glove, Gloves of Our Lady, Bloody Fingers, Virgin’s Glove, Fairy Caps, Folk’s Glove, Fairy Thimbles, Lion’s Mouth, Fairy Fingers, King Elwand, Foxbell, Floppy dock, Flowster-Docker, Fingerhut (German: means “thimble”), Revbielde (Norwegian),” (source).

These connections can be fantastic with my own practices in the fairy faith and my connection to Faery itself. I’ve seen some reference (though its all been oral, so be wary with its legitimacy) as to originating from Faery itself. To the fairy folk, it is a delicious ambrosia, but just as food from fairy is deadly to mortals, so to is the foxglove poison to us. However, it still holds the healing abilities of the fairies, so in careful doses it can aid rather than destroy.  Now, I have seen references to Foxglove being used in flying salves (more info found here, here, and here). I hope sometime in the future, once I am very confident in my skills in herbalism, I will be able to craft my own flying salve with Foxglove as a main ingredient. It most certainly would make a very amazing otherworld flying salve.

Now when having a familiar plant that is baneful in anyway, it is important to treat it with much care, especially if you have pets or children. It should be placed in a case or somewhere that it will not be in danger of poisoning children or animals.

Always practice caution and care around poisonous plants.

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