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The Intriguing Magickal Properties of Patchouli

Hi, my loves and welcome to WiccaNow. Recently I’ve been sharing guides to all my favourite herbs and plants, like this guide to the magickal properties of hibiscus, another one about lemons, one about garlic and another one about the magickal properties of pine. I’ve also shared a botanical witchipedia for a broader overview of a whole lot of different magickal plants and herbs. Today I want to continue down this path by sharing my guide to the magickal properties of patchouli.

Patchouli is an ancient Indian healing herb which has been used to treat stomach and skin ailments for centuries. Its magickal properties are varied but it is most often used for magick involving love, lust and fertility as well as prosperity spells. Medicinally, it can be used to treat inflammation, provide antibacterial properties and help to protect the skin from sun damage as well as being a powerful insect repellant. 

botanical illustration of patchouli for magickal properties of patchouli
This is Pogostemon plectranthoides (Syn.: Wensea pyramidata) a species of Patchouli. This botanical illustration is from 1884, I always think it’s amazing how well-drawn these are.

Disclaimer: Any medicinal benefits given here are a product of my own research and as such should not be taken over the advice of trained medical professionals. If you are ill, please go and see a doctor. Always make sure that anything you consume is 100% safe. If you are pregnant, consult your doctor or midwife before consuming something you haven’t tried before.

History of Patchouli

Patchouli, also called Pogostemon cablin, is a member of the Lamiaceae family, which is also more widely known as the mint family. It’s a plant which is native to Asia but is now cultivated all over the world from China to the Maldives to South America and many, many more. It thrives in tropical climates although it doesn’t like direct sun. P. Cablin is the most common form of patchouli used for medicinal and oil purposes. There are however many other species.

It’s thought that patchouli originated in India, where it has been used for centuries as a healing plant. The name actually comes from the Tamil “patchai” meaning green and “ellai” meaning leaf. Patchouli was prized for its health benefits in Ayurvedic medicine and was used medicinally for centuries in India.

It’s a little unclear which form of patchouli was used, as it’s thought that P. Cablin was only introduced to India in the 1840s and researchers believe that another form of the plant was used before this was introduced. This, however, remains extremely vague and research differs wherever you look. P. Cablin has now eclipsed any other form of the plant so maybe we’ll never know what the Ancient Chinese and Indian herbalists were referring to when they talked about patchouli. 

From India, patchouli made it’s way to the Middle East, where it was a valuable plant for making perfume. It was supposedly brought to Europe by Napolean, who packed it between his prized silks in order to keep insects and moths at bay. 

Using patchouli as a way of keeping fabrics and spices free from insects became a common practice. In fact, it became so common for luxury goods from the Far East to come with patchouli in them that the scent became linked to these exotic imports. If fabrics or goods didn’t smell like patchouli when they were displayed, traders buying the goods would doubt that they were authentic.

While patchouli eventually became linked to the hippie movement, during the Victorian Era smelling like patchouli was considered a signal that one was a member of the upper classes and it was the height of sophistication. This perception of luxury links back to the fact that cashmere shawls were highly fashionable and the expensive ones came from the Far East and were permeated with the smell of patchouli to keep them insect-free. European merchants seeking to capitalise on this trend would douse their cheaper, counterfeit cashmere shawls with patchouli to trick the upper classes into believing that the shawls were of the highest quality. 

incense in burner
If you’ve ever bought incense, chances are that it’s included patchouli (or synthetic patchouli).

Many forms of patchouli that are sold these days are synthetic, probably due to the extreme rise in popularity during the 60s and 70s which drove prices for true patchouli essential oil up and synthetic versions were made to make it an accessible scent for everyone. True patchouli oil is expensive due to the labour-intense farming methods needed to obtain and extract the oil from it. 

Fun Facts about Patchouli

  • Patchouli grows wild in Sumatra and Java at relatively high elevations, 3000-6000 feet. 
  • The plants are cut 2-3 times per year in order to make patchouli oil. The leaves harvested during the wet season are thought to make the best quality oil. The leaves need to be handpicked, then baled and allowed to ferment for a few days before the oil is extracted using a steam distillation technique. 
  • Patchouli oil smells better and better with age. This is the opposite of a lot of other essential oils that don’t age well. 
  • Patchouli and Hippies are often grouped together. It’s thought that this was because patchouli was often used to mask the scent of another “herb” loved by hippies. 
  • Patchouli is a great insect repellent. 
  • If you forget to water a patchouli plant, it will recover extremely quickly when it’s eventually given water again. 
  • Some cultures eat patchouli leaves as a vegetable dish or use it as a form of seasoning. 
  • The toy company Mattel use patchouli oil in the plastic of an action figure named Stinkor in 1985. 
  • Patchouli used to have the same value as gold.
  • It’s believed that King Tut was buried with 10 gallons of patchouli oil, which would have equated to an absolute fortune.

Medicinal Benefits of Patchouli

Patchouli oil for magickal properties of patchouli

Patchouli is most often used in an oil form, although it is also possible to make a tea out of the leaves and flowers. 

  • Antifungal  and anti-microbial
  • Antibacterial
  • Treats skin complaints like eczema and dandruff
  • May help to treat rheumatism
  • May help digestive ailments
  • May help relieve depression
  • May help to control appetite
  • May provide stress and anxiety relief
  • Can be used as an insecticide
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • May help treat headaches
  • May help with the common cold
  • May help nausea
  • May help to protect skin from sun damage

Magickal Properties of Patchouli

Patchouli is most often used in love, lust and fertility magic, although it’s also a powerful money attractor. Use a few drops of oil in your spells, or if you can, grow a patchouli plant (probably indoors, unless you live in a warmer climate) to take advantage of the fresh herb. 

Often patchouli is used in fertility magick. While I think most people tend to use this in relation to physical fertility, I use it for fertility of ideas and creativity. Fertility doesn’t always have to be linked to child bearing. There are many, many people who choose not to have children, and the magickal properties of patchouli work wonderfully for them too. One simply has to broaden ones ideas of what fertility is and relates to. In my opinion, anything that you want to grow could benefit from some patchouli magick.

  • Love
  • Lust
  • Passion
  • Fertility 
  • Prosperity
  • Spiritual Growth
  • Beauty
  • Relaxation
  • Protection
  • Communication 
  • Courage


Deities: Aphrodite, Gaia, Athena, Hades


Zodiac: Scorpio

Planet: Saturn and Venus

Element: Earth

Gender: Feminine

Crystals: Rose quartz, citrine, carnelian

associations and magickal properties of patchouli illustrated

So my lovelies, I hope that this gives you all the information that you were looking for about the magickal properties of patchouli! May your nights be passionate, you’re creativity fertile and your prosperity ever-growing. 

Until next time, 

Blessed Be,