Hi, my loves and welcome to WiccaNow. Recently I’ve been sharing a lot of guides to all my favourite herbs and plants, like this guide to the magickal properties of oak and acorns. I’ve also shared a post about using oregano in magick, one about the magick of parsley, another all about nettles and most recently I shared my guide to the magickal properties of thyme. Today I want to share one final herbal guide with you, namely, my guide to the magickal properties of witch hazel!
Witch hazel has been used by Native American Tribes for hundreds of years to treat various ailments from coughs and colds to skin irritations to muscle pain. It is classified as a medicinal plant by the FDA and has been used for many years to divine for water. The magickal properties of witch hazel include beauty, divination, protection and emotional balance among others.
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 Witch Hazel
Witch hazel, also known as Hamamelis, is a flowering plant in the Hamamelidaceae family. There are only 6 different species, with 4 found in North America, one in Japan and one in China. It’s a relatively small shrub which blooms with yellow or orange flowers in the winter.
Witch hazel has been used extensively for medicinal purposes throughout history. Native Americans would boil down the stems of the bush and make a decoction to treat swellings, tumours and inflammation. Different tribes used witch hazel to treat different ailments, for example, the Potawatomi used the twigs in sweat lodges to ease muscle pain and the Iroquois made a tea with it to treat colds, coughs and dysentery.
Early Puritan settlers in New England took this indigenous remedy and spread it widely through the rest of the United States. The Mohegans are believed to have taught settlers to use witch hazel branches to divine for water.
A missionary named Charles Hawes learned about the medicinal benefits of witch hazel and undertook a study of it. After extensive research, he realised that distillation, most likely steam distillation, was the best method for extracting the beneficial compounds of the plant. “Hawes Extract” came onto the market in 1846 in Essex, Connecticut and was sold by a chemist named Alvan Whittemore.
The recipe for “Hawes Extract” was refined by Thomas Dickinson Sr. in 1866. He is credited with commercialising witch hazel production and extraction methods and during his lifetime he established 9 production sites in eastern Connecticut. After his death, his sons both took over parts of the business. They apparently didn’t like each other very much and started competing “Dickinson’s” businesses after breaking up their father’s original company.
This family spat continued and decedents continued to run two separate companies, one in Essex and one in East Hampton. These companies continued to exist until they were bought in the 1990s by Ed Jackowitz. He bought out both families and consolidated the two back into one company. This company still exists today and continues to produce witch hazel distillate as an ingredient for medicinal use and for use in cosmetic products.
Today, witch hazel is a popular addition in many beauty products. It’s particularly prized in toners and clarifying products and is used by companies such as Estee Lauder, Revlon and Neutrogena. Witch hazel is one of the few plants which has been approved for medicinal use by the FDA.
Fun Facts about Witch Hazel
- The name “hamamelis” means “together with fruit” which refers to the fact that witch hazel simultaneously carries mature fruit from the year before along with new flowers.
- The seed pods of witch hazel will split open with such force that the seeds have been known to fly up to 9m away. Because of this, witch hazel is also sometimes called “snapping hazel”.
- When the seed pod splits open to release the seed, it actually makes a cracking sound.
- Witch hazel doesn’t actually have anything to do with witchcraft. Its name comes from the Middle English “wiche” which comes from the Old English “wice” which meant “pliant” or “bendable” and didn’t have anything to do with magick or witches.
- Witch hazel is a common ornamental plant because it starts blooming in the autumn and will often continue to bloom all through winter.
- Witch hazels are self-pollinating. Because they bloom in the cold, there are fewer insects around to pollinate the flowers. Due to this witch hazel evolved to make the pollination of its flowers easy and it’s often pollinated by gnats or moths.
- Seeds often take more than 2 years to germinate.
- Only about 1% of witch hazel flowers will end up becoming fruit.
- Because witch hazel is a relatively small scrub, it’s very tolerant of shade since it normally grows in forests under larger trees.
- You can use “Y” shaped branches to divine for water.
Medicinal Benefits of Witch Hazel
The medicinal benefits of witch hazel are well researched and can be used to treat a number of ailments. The most common species of witch hazel used medicinally is Hamamelis virginiana. The bark and leaves are the most common parts used and are made into ointments and teas.
Because of its ability to reduce inflammation and soothe skin, witch hazel is often applied to the scalp or to sensitive areas of skin. You’ll often find a product called witch hazel water, which is the product produced by steam distillation of the bark, leaves and twigs.
Small amounts of witch hazel ingested orally are considered to be relatively safe but care should be taken as it can cause liver problems if consumed in large quantities. As always be particularly careful with any herbal treatments if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and consult a trained medical professional before using anything you are unfamiliar with.
- Relieves inflammation
- Reduces skin irritation
- Helps to reduce the symptoms of haemorrhoids
- Fights acne and shrinks pores
- Helps to reduce scalp sensitivity
- Helps to soothe sore throats
- Protects against skin damage
- Helps to slow bleeding
- May help with bruising
- May help with rashes
- May help with varicose veins
- May help with dandruff
- May help with Insect bites
- May reduce stretch marks
Magickal Properties of Witch Hazel
Witch hazel has been used for hundreds of years to divine for water, which means that it’s particularly well suited to all sorts of magick to do with divination. If you want to find something you’ve lost, take a forked branch in both hands and focus all your energy on finding the lost thing. If your intention is strong enough, the branch will point you in the right direction.
Carry the leaves with you if you are brokenhearted to help you heal and to overcome the feelings of loss you are experiencing. This works for any heavy emotions you are feeling in your life, as the magickal properties of witch hazel will help you to find emotional balance. If you are in a situation where you want to end a relationship with a partner, carry bark to cool the relationship down.
Hang witch hazel into doorways and windows for protection and to keep out malevolent influences and negative energies. For an easy banishing spell, write down what you want to remove from your life (a name, short sentence or keyword) and place it in a small bowl. Fill the bowl with enough witch hazel to completely cover your piece of paper. Set your intentions and then leave the bowl in the light of a waning moon overnight. The next day, bury the witch hazel and paper away from your home.
Other Magickal Properties of Witch Hazel
- Helps you to find lost objects
Magickal Associations of Witch Hazel
Deities – Apollo, Lugh and Horus
Magickal Correspondences of Witch Hazel
Zodiac – Libra
Planet – The Sun and Saturn
Element – Fire
Gender – Masculine
So, my lovelies, I hope this guide gives you all the information you were looking for about the magickal properties of witch hazel! May your hopes and dreams be clear and balanced, may you radiate wisdom and may you find inspiration in the beauty of the everyday.
Until next time,