Yarrow

"Thou pretty herb of Venus' tree,

Thy true name it is Yarrow;

Now who my bosom friend must be,

Pray tell thou me to-morrow."

~Unknown

An ounce of Yarrow sewed up in flannel and placed under the pillow before going to bed, having repeated these words, has been said to bring a vision of the future spouse.

The strong, pungent aroma of yarrow, which is the result of its high sulfur content, tends to invoke some kind of reaction in people. Some love it, some hate it, but nobody stays partial to it. People do not favor yarrow as food or medicine any longer, maybe because of its smell or its bitter, astringent, pungent taste. Formerly yarrow was highly esteemed both for its medicinal properties and his magical powers.

Yarrow was used as a love charm in many cultures. In Ireland, if  yarrow was eaten at a wedding feast, the bride and groom would be in love for seven years. It was also believed that the yarrow could help you find your true love if you cut the stems across the middle to reveal the initials of your future spouse. European women would throw Yarrow onto the fire and look into the flames for a picture of their future husband.

Yarrow has long been associated with divination and the occult. Witches reportedly used it for incantations. They believed that placing sprigs of yarrow in their caps would give them the ability to fly.  Native Americans burned Yarrow to drive away evil spirits. Druids are believed to have used the plant's stalks to divine the weather. Yarrow stalks are traditionally thrown to read the I Ching, the ancient Chinese book of divination. In fact the I Ching or Book of Changes is also known as the Yarrow Stalk Oracle. This could have given rise to some of the common names, such as bad man’s plaything, devil’s nettle, and devil’s plaything. It was used as a devil’s herb or elf’s herb for divination. On the other hand it might be that yarrow’s high sulfur level contributed to its association with the devil, after all, hell smells of sulfur.


It is said that the use of yarrow was taught to Achilles by his centaur tutor Chiron. Achilles used to stanch the bleeding wounds of his soldiers in the Trojan war, hence the botanical name for yarrow “Achillea.”

Like many herbs that have opposite influences depending on the circumstances, yarrow can invoke bleeding. In Eastern European lore girls used to tickle their noses citing:

"Yarroway, Yarroway, bear a white blow,''
''If my love love me, my nose will bleed now.''

~unknown

Indeed yarrow was used to stimulate nose bleeding with the intention of curing headaches. By thinning the blood, yarrow has influence over the cardiovascular system, lowering blood pressure and soothing the heart.

Yarrow’s affinity to the blood makes it a great help in regulating the menstrual flow. It stanches excessive bleeding and breaks up stagnant blood. Yarrow, a cool and antispasmodic herb, can relieve cramps and heat and restlessness during the moon cycle.

Yarrow's bitter taste points it to the digestive system. It tones the mucus membrane of the digestive tract, stirs up stagnant circulation and increases cellular activity and secretion.

When yarrow is used as a flower essence, it relates, in part, to the crown chakra center, assisting in the process of developing strength of aura, and also directing the light of the higher centers into the earthly body and the lower centers. It is often used with those who are particularly affected by their surroundings and who also have an exceptional capacity for teaching, counseling and healing.

“If yarrow is brought into the realm of biological activity in the right way, its effect within the animal or human organism is to correct any weakness of the astral body”

~Rudolf Steiner

Yarrow, a Venus plant embody within himself the Venus quality of humbly clearing space for something else to unfold. Yarrow contain high levels of sulfur. Steiner says about sulfur:

“Sulfur is the element in protein that plays the role of mediator between the physical in the world and the omnipresent spirit with it formative power."

~Rudolf Steiner

Through it connection to sulfur, yarrow brings forces of light into the soil. Through its quality of holding space, yarrow enables homeopathic forces of silicic acid and lead from the upper planets to come towards the Earth. Yarrow, when it is added in biodynamic preparation 502, radiates throughout with the effect of enlivening and refreshening the manure. These effects are carried into the entire farm when the manure is spread thus counteracting the unavoidable exploitation of land that is a part of raising crops.

Yarrow is a great herb to use for personal care. It has the tendency to constrict and tone body tissue, and stimulates healthy hair growth. Hence, it can be used as a shampoo. Blend yarrow, chamomile and mint to create a slightly aromatic shampoo, cleansing facial mix for oily skin or vaginal douche.

Yarrow leaves are best used for cooking when they are young. The older leaves tend to get more bitter.

Shrimp with Yarrow and Baked Lemon

Adopted from “Wild things” on Food & Wine.com

Ingredients
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 lemons
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh yarrow leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
24 large shrimp–shelled, deveined and cut almost in half lengthwise down the back
Salt
Cayenne pepper

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 450° and light the grill, if you”re using one. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil and garlic. 2. Cut the pointed ends from the lemons so they will sit flat, then halve them crosswise. Set them flesh side up in a glass or ceramic baking dish and spoon 1 tablespoon of the sugar on each half. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the sugar is melted and the pulp is soft. Preheat the broiler, if using.

2. Sprinkle the chopped yarrow inside the shrimp and pinch closed. Brush the shrimp with the garlic oil and season with salt and cayenne. Grill or broil the shrimp 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until opaque. Squeeze some of the lemon juice over the shrimp and garnish with the yarrow sprigs. Serve at once with the baked lemons.

Caution: Some individuals are allergic to yarrow. As with all herbs begin using with small amount and adjust the dose to your needs.

Yarrow might induce mensturation. Therefore should not be used during pregnancy.