The dark moon was a perfect time for a baneful harvest. Tucked away in the furthest corner of one of our paddocks is the African Boxthorn. It is considered a noxious, albeit naturalised, weed in Australia. It belongs to the Lycium genus, a flowering member of the Solanaceae family. Yes, the same family to which Belladonna, Mandrake, Henbane, Datura and the potato belong. It is not a large shrub, nor is it imposing on the landscape. It is simply living out its existence at the base of a large pine tree.
The thorns are impressive. Some were quite large, those that were budding I left. I want to build a relationship with this plant and continue to harvest thorns. My blackthorn is most definitely not sizeable enough for thorn harvest, my other dream thorn plant (hawthorn) I’ve yet to purchase. I’m waiting for the weather to cool down. I planted some seeds of mid last year; hopefully they choose to join the land of the growing plants this year. I’ve a fascination with thorns of late. The discovering of the boxthorn in the paddock was certainly fortuitous.
Thorns have a long history in witchcraft. Thorns were used as tools to afflict the objects of some one’s ire by use of a poppet. The thorns would be pricked into the anatomical area of the poppet where the witch or curse giver would wish to inflict harm or pain. However thorns can also be used in a protective manner. Placed into a witches bottle, they will ‘prick’ anyone who directs harm or negativity toward yourself or those who are under your protection. If you’re not at all squeamish, thorns in a chicken’s heart is a brilliantly powerful hexing or cursing duo; though not for everyone and not to be used lightly. I would never advise using them to prick the finger to create a small bit of blood for offering. As with any wood, it can cause splinters, blackthorns pricks in the skin are known to turn septic.
Thorns block the way; in some manner they could be considered a test of magical commitment. My first crossing of the hedge, I was required to work my way through a hedge filled with thorny shrubs. I bled, the sacrifice paid I was able to continue. When I was harvesting these thorns, I scratched myself quite a bit. The shrub was at quite a strange angle to the pine tree so I had to work my way in and around it in order to harvest thorns. I didn’t bleed but I believe the plant was feeling me out, seeing what my intentions were. This is where it pays to talk to the plant, explain your requirements, let it know you. I also gave it an offering of apple juice and a strawberry wafer biscuit (it was all I had on hand at the time). Later on, I will give it some blood and bone fertiliser and a healthy drink of water.
I hope this plant and I can continue to build a bond, should it begin to grow some offshoots or reseeds new plants, I may move them to my poison garden, this way, I can harvest from the mother plant and grow a baby plant. Once baby is old enough, the plant in the paddock will be left alone to grow more or do as it shall wish. Because it is the only one currently we have on our property, I have to be careful to not over harvest from it. It is perhaps the most important rule; only ever take what you need and never strip a plant bare. I will grant that it is a noxious weed so one might consider it should be gotten rid of, but if I can use it and it is not harming anything, I honestly don’t see the problem.
Once the thorns have dried, they’ll be put to various uses. I am currently in the process of creating some witch bottles. The thorns will be a part of this, but perhaps I will also put the thorns themselves in small lots for sale in my Etsy shop. I haven’t quite decided as yet but I am sure I will think of something. Meanwhile I will enjoy the experience of working with the boxthorn and understanding its nature. As a member of the Solanceae family, I would have thought its energy to be strong with a dangerous feeling, but truthfully, it was quite a gentle energy, nothing at all threatening, aside from the occasional scratch from the thorns, the boxthorn seems almost benign. Perhaps she is not showing me all of herself yet, we’re only just beginning to know one another so I imagine only time will tell.