Plants are a huge part of homesteading and Pagan living. Whether its to eat, heal, or connect with a green ally in our magical practice – herbs are where its at. Herb of the Month posts are far from the whole story about each plant, but we aim to introduce and inspire you to go out and meet this plant in the wild or grow it on your homestead. The Herb of the Month for March 2021 is Chickweed!
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Latin name: Stellaria media
Plant family: Caryophyllaceae, commonly called the pink family or carnation family
Folk Names: Starwort, Starweed, Adder’s Mouth, Passerina, Satin Flower, Tongue Grass, Stellaire, Winterweed
Anglo-Saxon Names: Cicena Mete (―Chicken’s Food‖), Æðelferðingwyrt
Old Norse Name: Arfi
Chinese: yin chai hu
Plant Description and Cultivation
This small plant grows to around 14cm with small flowers. It grows well in any temperate climates.
Cultivation is seldom necessary as plants selfseed themselves freely especially in dry weather. Prefers moist soil in sun or shade.
Harvest throughout the growing period.
Deities: Arianrhod, Nott, Selene
Properties: astringent, antirheumatic, demulcent
Energetics: sweet, bitter, moist, cool
Powers: Fidelity, Love, Healing, Fairy Magic, Cosmic Magic, Animal (esp. Birds) Magic, Travel
Acupressure Point: UB 28
Meridians/Organs affected: lungs, stomach
Chickweed in History
Chickweed is a common weed that is native to all of Europe and Asia.
Seeds found in Neolithic burial sites. Used as an ancient pot herb.
Traditionally fed to domestic birds and fowls – hence the folk name CHICKweed.
Before the use of limes sailors used chickweed, among other common herbs, to prevent scurvy.
“In ancient Norse, Chickweed was used to refer to something common and valueless; a meager inheritance was referred to as ‘no more than a heap of Chickweed.'” ~Raven Kaldera
Culinary and Home Use
On the homestead, chickweed can be used for so many things. One of the coolest ways chickweed is an ally for the homesteader is that it indicates healthy soil (A healthy, fertile soil will have a pH of 6.2 to 7.0.). Look for this ground cover “weed” (and its companions purslane, lamb’s quarter, etc) as an indicator that this will be a good place to plant broccoli, corn, lettuce, melons, peppers, squash, and tomatoes. These are all heavy feeders and will thrive in a fertile soil.
Chickens, hogs and rabbits dote on its succulent foliage and seeds, but it is said that sheep and goats won’t touch it.
Constituents: ascorbic-acid, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, zinc, copper, and Gamma-linolenic-acid, mucilage, triterpenoid saponins, coumarins, carboxylic acids, silica, vitamins A, B, C
As a “moist, cool” herb, chickweed is great for use when ailments are hot and dry such as irritated and inflamed skin and fever.
Medicinally, chickweed is considered relatively safe for all people including children but, as always, seek your health care professional’s advice before starting a regiment beyond culinary use.
My first introduction to chickweed was when I was pregnant. I was given a spring greens salad that had chickweed in it and I fell in love. My changing body must have needed what this lil plant had because I craved it. A friend answered the call and harvested huge amounts from her garden bed and I ate it like a starving woman for a weekend. My craving stopped after that but not my love for chickweed. It came in handy later on in my motherhood journey as part of the diaper salve that healed my child’s diaper rash, a minor yeast infection, and my own dry skin.
Chickweed is great for skin, whether mashed up with a favorite oil and used as a face mask, in the aforementioned salve, or to aid in healing sunburns and relieving summer heat.
Stellaria’s Magical Uses
Can be used for Love spells. Carried to bring fidelity to love relationships, and to bring new love to a flagging romance.
Cosmic Witchcraft (its Latin name means mid-sized Star). Chickweed is a talisman for astrologers, especially the sort who do actual star-gazing.
Chickweed also has an affinity for birds, so those who work with bird spirits might want to make friends with it. Feeding it to a bird in your care is a bonding activity.
Safe travel (it has managed to cross the world)
Resources for Further Reading
A Druid’s Garden Magic of Chickweed (I really love their magical painting of Chickweed as an herbal ally)
Eat the Weeds Chickweed Chic
Solidarity Apothecary Chickweed Profile – note the sections on ecology and solidarity use along with more awesome herbal health information.
Learning Herbs not only discusses Chickweed on their site but it is the first herb in their Herb Fairies series for kids. You can get that book for free here.
The Northern Shamanic Herbal by Raven Kaldera – best book for Northern Tradition/Heathen folks who want to get into herbs. Has a section and several references to Chickweed.
Healing Wise by Susun Weed has a wonderful chapter on Chickweed that includes meeting the spirit ally of the plant.
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs has a small section on Chickweed.
While chickweed does often grow wild, if you want to grow some from seed in your garden, you can get seeds here.