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Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

Names: Baldersbrow, Maegthen, Maythen, Mayweed, Ground Apple, Heermanschen, Manzanilla, Chamaimylon, Whig Plant.

Medicinal Uses: Sedative, antifungal, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory. Relieves gas, heartburn and colic. Applied externally in teabags to heal burns and rest eyes. Ointment is used for eczema, and genital and anal irritation. Mouthwash heals mouth inflammation. Inhalation of steam is good for phlegm and hay fever. May get an allergic reaction from some people. The Sun is also associated with the innocence of children, and Chamomile is the safest possible herb for them, easing the pain of colic when a mild tea is mixed with mother's milk and giving them rest without the aid of allopathic drugs.

Household Uses: Known as the "plant's physician"; grow near ailing plants to perk them up. Make into an antifungal spray for tree diseases. Spray infusion on seedlings to prevent "damping off disease" and on compost to activate decomposition. Boil the flower for a yellow-brown dye. Wash blond hair with infusion for lightening. Use in potpourri and herb pillows.

Traditional Magical Uses: A solar plant, associated with the sun and the god Baldur. It is used to attract money, and a handwash is used by gamblers. Use in sleep incenses (and tea!); makes the best sleep potion. Removes curses and hexes when sprinkled around the property.

Shamanic Magical Uses: This is the plant of Asgard, the land of the Aesir. Its English name Maythen was originally pronounced Maegthen, as can be seen from the Lacnunga poem, and maeg is cognate to mage, meaning powerful. Note: There are two kinds of chamomile, related and similar, with the same usages. One is a low-growing perennial, Anthemis nobilis, also known as Roman chamomile. The other is a tall annual, German chamomile. Although there is no proof exactly which is Maegthen, my bet is on for the more northerly German chamomile.

Chamomile is a solar plant, and it harnesses the power of the Sun. As the plant of golden Asgard, it can be burned in recels or scattered as a way to send your words straight to the Aesir and have them hear you. I suspect few of them would ignore you if you were holding Maegthen in your hand. It burns away the darkness and the creeping negativity, as its medicinal nature as an antifungal demonstrates. Used magically, it can be a powerful antidepressant. Why, then, does it cause sleep? One of the symptoms of depression is actually a lack of good, solid, peaceful sleep, and Chamomile is the best plant for this purpose.

There is also that finding a way out of depression is a long, slow journey that may require changes in brain chemistry, a finicky business at best. This sort of thing is best done slowly and quietly, over time, preferably on a sleeping person. To bring the Sun into someone's life, give them tea made from charged and hallowed Chamomile that has been asked to slowly purge the depressing chemicals from their brain, every night when they go to sleep, for a long time, perhaps months. One day they may find that they no longer need it, but if it does nothing after three turns of the moon, there is something going on that even this herb cannot cure, and you can discontinue it.