THE SUN EMBODIED La hierba de San Juan
St John’s wort
La hierba de San Juan is a delicate yet powerful golden yellow flower that is a not only a beautiful and magickal plant with plenty of traditional and folk uses, but one with an abundance of healing powers. She has the spirit of midsummer within her and exudes the elemental correspondences of fire, warmth, and sun, displayed in the bright yellow flowers, and stamens which appear as shining rays of light.
St John’s Wort or who’s Latin name is Hipericum perforatum, is part of the family Hipericeae. The second part of the word “Perforatum” refers to the tiny perforations or holes in its leaves which you can see if you look closely, holding the flower up to the sunlight. These holes have been thought to symbolise the skin and has been used as a remedy for skin conditions and deep perforation wounds for centuries. As a remedy with uses externally and internally, it is an ally to those who need to calm the nerves and see past a melancholic mental state.
As with its energetics the slender stem and delicate form represent its ruler element, the Air ∆ and aids the nervous system in many ways. Although the symbolism for this flower has always been one of Fire 🔥 its bright yellow flowers represent the sun and is a manifestation of fire, warmth, self, helping us find our own inner fire and physically bringing warmth to cold dry constitution or weakened nervous system. Symbolically bringing the power of the sun and the helping to strengthen our inner selves and radiate our warmth.
In an infusion the fresh plant turns the menstruum to a blood red colour, a powerful healing medicine. As an oil infusion it is specifically useful for massage for Sciatica and nerve pain in general and healing the skin from cuts, wounds, and grazes. The tincture is more well-known, as a warming remedy, used to treat depression, though these are only a few of her many healing powers.
As has been spoken of many times through herbalist lore throughout the ages, the moment of the year that is associated with this flower, and the moment that she is at her full energetic frequency is in June, around the summer solstice, on the 24th - the day of San Juan himself. Harvesting this medicine on this sacred day will procure some of the strongest medicine of the year, it is an Alchemical process, of harvesting the solar force within the plant and ourselves. This medicine is potent and used on this summer night and thereafter throughout the winter months to bring us warmth and uplift our spirits, to help carry us on through the next year ahead.
It goes to show that this plant has some extensive folk traditions. Specifically in folklore, the 24th of June is St. Johns day/ dia de San Juan, from where the plant gets her common name. The night that here in Spain it is a traditional festivity, of the ritual of fires, burning away of the bad spirits and the celebration of the sun and fire element.
To name my favourite traditional ritual, as it goes…The 23rd day of June, women would go out the countryside to pick the flower, then gather a large pot and immerse these golden flowers in the water to soak overnight in the outside, open to the sky on this shortest night of the year. First thing the next morning, this water is used wash our faces. Tradition says that it purifies the skin and protects from diseases. The elders also say that it protects from bad spells, envy and the evil eye. The belief is that, by staying outdoors all night, it absorbs the magical properties of the night of San Juan and it is said that San Juan himself blesses with this water.
My St.Johns wort flowers soaked in water overnight.
As has been my journey in the world of plants, there are some that call out to you. These are those “plant allies” which become part of our lives, our herbal toolkits, our friends! From my personal experience, this should never be ignored, but enjoyed! I spent years amazed by the potency of this flower that comes as quickly as she goes, and can be found growing, many times in seemingly inhospitable patches of dry earth.
I encourage you to go out and if you can, make your own herbal infused oil. Collect your herbs and once you are sure they are clean and bug-free, pop them in a jar and cover with your preferred oil. Leave on a sunny windowsill to infuse by the power of the sun, and the moon! After a few weeks (or as long as you like) strain your oil to remove the herbs and store in a dark bottle in a cool dark place. Use generously on yourself and anyone you love!
With love & gratitude,