September is truly a magickal time of year. The Earth straddles the in-between, as summer starts to fade and the threat of the first frost looms nigh. For those who live in the Northwestern hemisphere, it’s time for the last harvest of summer and the first harvest of fall. Here are five of my personal favorite foraged witchy ingredients:
1. Black Walnuts
Black walnuts are everywhere! Whether they’re still in their fruit or broken in pieces, they’re so easy to find!
Where to look: Black walnut trees grow along the edges of forests to gain maximum sunlight. They grow most abundantly along stream banks and watercourses in bottomlands and open fields. However, they can be found all over thanks to squirrels burying and forgetting these nuts.
Their bark is a deeply furrowed charcoal grey. Their long alternate, compound leaves can have up to 23 smooth oval leaflets. Their fruits are easily identified, as they are surrounded by a thick outer husk — green in appearance before ripening and yellow-black when mature.
Harvest: Simply wait for them to fall OR wait for the squirrels to remove the flesh for you. Collecting involves a lot of bending.
Uses in Magick: Black walnut shells are the hardest tree nut shells in the world! Even running it over with your car won’t crack it open! Therefore, they’re best used for protection work. I wouldn't recommend them for a protection bath because the husk can stain, but I would recommend them as a protective tag — meaning, that if someone tries to spiritually attack you, they will be marked as dirty. You’ll notice they’ll have a hard time keeping clean. They also make wonderful charms and talismans.
Yarrow is an ancient plant medicine that grows all over the world and has similar uses among the various cultures that work with it.
Where to look: Yarrow grows best in open, sunny areas such as lawns, fields, and meadows. However, it will also grow in the partial shade of open woods, roadsides, and trail sides. It can be found in cities, suburbs, rural areas, and wilderness areas.
Harvest: Yarrow is a wooly perennial plant with feather-like leaves. These frilly leaves are unique to the yarrow plant and set it apart from potential look-alikes (Queen Anne's Lace, and Hemlock). You can harvest the entire weed, as it is usually used medicinally and culinarily in its entirety. Once collected it can be used fresh or you can wait three weeks for it to dry.
Uses in Magick: Yarrow promotes strength, courage, perseverance, will, stamina, and grit. It is a nurturing, healing plant that cleans the blood and the spiritual fluids and protects the heart and circulatory system. Yarrow brings your energetic bodies and physical body back into homeostasis. If you are depressed, yarrow lights a fire under you. If you are heightened and in pain from work, yarrow calms and cools you down. It is considered the warrior's first aid medicine and the doula's decoction.
3. Burdock Root
Burdock is another plant that can be found all over the world, but unlike yarrow, it changes its energies based on where it is grown.
Where to look: Burdock is a hearty plant that grows in rocky disturbed soil. Its hollow stem and huge, heart-shaped, ribbed leaves are distinct from any other plants that grow around it.
Harvest: Since we want the root, keep in mind that you will need a shovel. That's right, burdock root can grow over a foot into the ground and harvesting it will have you sweating your last big sweat before the change of seasons.
Uses in Magick: Burdock root is most commonly used in offensive works — stopping the financial growth of others, making a man impotent and overly emotional. Burdock root can also be used in a spray to clean the doors and windows of your home for the purpose of not just protecting the home, but flushing out energies and people who are already in the home. This makes it very useful in exorcisms.
Juniper is one of my favorite plants because both the berry and the pines can be used for different things!
Where to look: Juniper shrubs can be found all across the Northeastern United States. They’re a type of evergreen, which makes their magick available all year round. They have pine needles for leaves and their “berries” are tight cones with a bluish color coated in white yeast.
Harvest: Berry cones should be taste-tested for bitterness. Some tend to have a bitter resin on them that is toxic in large amounts. You’re looking for a sweet, fermented flavor like balsamic.
Uses in magick: Juniper’s pine needles, its charred berry cones, and its bark are most commonly used in the form of fumigation. The incense can be used to connect to the spirit world and as left as an offering to the spirits. The smoke can also remove harmful energies and attract financial abundance. Juniper protects your finances and your romantic relationships.
Gin is distilled from juniper, along with barley and assorted other aromatics and botanicals. This spirit is best used for trance rituals and connecting to the physical body. Juniper can be used as payment to your spirits in exchange for divine wisdom and answers via divination and channeling. It is associated with fertility, hope, and angels. Juniper is an amplifier, a purifier, a regenerator, an alchemist, and a cleanser.
Goldenrod is summer’s last kiss goodbye, as it’s the last pollinating plant before the first frost.
Where to look: Goldenrod plants can get between three and seven feet tall. Flowers appear in mid-to-late summer and can continue through September, occasionally even October. The leaves are two to five inches long, are lanceolate, and have fine hairs on them. The brightly-colored flowers are yellow and mostly grow on one side of a long branch that droops over. Goldenrods love the open sunlight, so you will find them in meadows, prairies, mountains, and even roadsides.
Harvest: Because Goldenroad is one of the last flowering and pollinating plants of the summer, it’s the last food source for many critters. Make sure to give the plant a good shakedown and cleaning when you’re harvesting.
Uses in magick: Goldenrod is a gentle plant whose energy is that of the Mother goddess, associated with healing, spring water, and all the riches found there. Goldenrod is used for luck, gambling, trade, and money. It can also be used to dowse for treasure from spirit (water, precious minerals/metals). Goldenrod is a blessing from the goddess, representing beauty, joy, playfulness, and a light in the dark places of the spirit realms. Place some in your sweet bath for added blessings. Hang some over your child’s bed for protection and blessings.
I hope this list is a reminder that magick is all around you. These plant medicines are our family, friends, and allies. We take care of them and they take care of us — that’s the contract. When wild foraging, even in your own backyard, never take anything without asking permission from the land. When finished, leave an offering (of tobacco, coins, or crystals) and give thanks.
May you be inspired to walk your neighborhood with awareness and curiosity, and be blessed with the treasures around you.