The Magical Uses of Rue

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Excerpted from Garden Witch’s Herbal: Green Magick, Herbalism & Spirituality (c) 2009 by Ellen Dugan. Used by permission. Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. The following excerpt can be found on Pages 169 to 170.

Rue (Ruta graveolens). Folk names include herb of grace, mother of the herbs, Ruta, Witch bane, and garden rue. The rue is an evergreen shrub that can grow from two to three feet in height. It bears small, bright, buttonlike yellow flowers in the summer. The leaves are smooth, deeply divided, and have a greenish blue color. The scent of the rue is described as bracing, and the leaves of this plant are covered in oil glands.

I grow rue in my sunny perennial gardens. It makes a lovely specimen shrub. I clip it into a neatly shaped shrub every summer after it has finished blooming. I wear gardening gloves to do this because the oil from the leaves gives me a bit of a mild rash. Discarded rue foliage is also supposed to help your compost pile break down faster. I toss a few stems into my compost heap every year.

In magick, rue is often used for hex breaking and for warding off the evil eye. Rue is also a classic herb for protection magick and to increase your psychic powers; also, some old love spells call for rue. You can easily tuck a few rue leaves or flowers into a protective sachet. The scent of the plant is strong, so I would not recommend wearing the charm bag; instead, place it inside a purse, briefcase, or drawer. Just be sure to keep it out of the reach of children. Also, to be on the safe side, women who are pregnant should avoid contact with rue.

In the language of flowers, rue signifies grace, clear vision, virtue, atonement, and fresh starts. Rue is a popular herb with Italian traditional Witches, the Strega. Rue foliage is a common theme in magickal silver jewelry called the cimaruta as well. The plant is sacred to Diana and Aradia. This masculine herb is ruled by the sun, and its elemental correspondence is fire.

Warning: Rue is a toxic plant. Brushing against the foliage may cause contact dermatitis. Do not take internally. It is also an abortifacient.

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