Materia Venefica: Hyssop, Spirit of Protective Majesty

img_8475Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is the first plant spirit we’ll be investigating in the Materia Venefica, a series of articles regarding our experiences with endemic Pyrenean plant spirit covering all its essence and magical applications. In Materia Venefica you will not find medicinal approaches to plant usage, but folk beliefs, literary references, and, above all, our personal experience.

Hyssop has been regarded as an important plant since ancient times. Its name, in Hebrew, is azob, which literally means “a holy herb”. In the Pyrenees, it was used as an aspergillum, a tool used to sprinkle holy water onto people before entering to church, as a way to cleanse them and prevent the spread of diseases, as well as to cleanse houses to avoid the presence of demons, strigae or evil spirits. The Catalan saying goes:

Hisop, hisop que el Dimoni no em toc, ni de lluny ni de prop ni a la casa tampoc.

Hyssop hyssop, may the Devil touch me not, neither far nor near, and in my home he shall enter not. 

Actually, the word used to designate the aspergillum or sprinkler tool in Spanish and Catalan is Hisopo or Hisop, perhaps as an influence of the usage of the plant as sprinkler which already appears in the Leviticus, chapter 4:

‘3. And the priest goes out of the camp and the priest looks, and beholds that the sore of the leprosy of the leper is healed.’ 4. ‘And the priest commands, and takes, for the one healed, two unblemished live birds, cedar wood, Coccus scarlet, and hyssop.’ 5. ‘And the priest commands, and slaughters the one bird in a pottery vessel upon living water.’ 6. ‘He takes the live bird and the cedar wood and the Coccus scarlet and the hyssop and dips them and the live bird in the blood of the bird slaughtered upon the living water.’ 7. ‘And sprinkle seven times upon him purified of leprosy, and he is purified, and sends the live bird upon the face of the field.”


img_8477We dedicated one full week to interact deeply with the spirit of hyssop. Since the beginning, the spirit shows itself shamelessly, triumphant, in rocky mountain slopes, against the Sun, it endures high and cold temperatures during the summer as long as water is sufficient. We gathered hyssop for several days, and imbibed, smoked, and fumigated it accordingly in order to understand its virtue. We progressively felt a subtle sense of empowerment that terminated the point we stopped the interaction. When harvesting and gathering hyssop exclusively, we felt drawn to high hilltops and envigorated enough to conquer them. When drunk, hyssop made us feel warm, energetic, and prepared. When smoked, it made us feel humurous, stable, awake. When fumigated, hyssop is tremendously adequate to prepare the space for important works that demand concentration.

The Plant Spirit: 

Hyssop has proved to be highly resistant and able to succeed in harsh locations. Its taste is aromatic, camphorated at times, sharp and, as we regard it, dry and majestic. It is considered to be a Jupiter plant in magical herbalism, and in this case we personally agree with such correspondence. We had previously interacted with it in past occasions -we had already been crafting the Hunter blend with organically sourced hyssop for several months- but it was after we moved to the Pyrenees that we started seeing its full potential. Hyssop acknowledges the one who does not ignore it, and grants him protection against the physical and spirituals maladies of environment. It is not an exorcist plant, as rue may be, but hyssop is a protective shield that prevents from ill wishing, and allows our potential to be fulfilled. When harvesting or gathering it, it is advised to praise the majesty of the plant with respectful offering.

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Materia Venefica: Hyssop, Spirit of Protective Majesty by Semproniana Tort – Júlia Carreras is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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