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// Home// First Trip// May-Oct2006// 2006-2007// Summer 2007//
//Wiccan/Pagan Mysticism//Eternal Winterland//Desert Herb Magick//Our Herb Experiences//Our Stone Experiences//

There are many plants and animals in the desert southwest which have no relative in Europe. So, of course, there is no long European history of magical use for these.
We have noticed in our studies that one person will make suggestions based on their observations. Others will pick those up and pass them on as fact. We see one person making suggestions and others copying their words exactly.
For example, we Googled " metaphysical properties of Desert Ironwood". Of the nine sites which came up on the first page, four began "Desert Ironwood is not the hardest wood in the world...." and then continued word for word for three paragraphs. A fifth site repeated only the third paragraph.
Who do we credit here? Well, not the fifth site, obviously.
We have been living with nature here and have made a number of observations. From our observations, studies and intuition we have arrived at certain metaphysical applications and associations. From these we make suggestions realizing, of course, that the final word on these matters has yet to be written and is certainly not to be written by us.
We would very much like to hear from anyone who has thoughts or ideas on what we write here. Please write us at

[email protected]

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Mustard, in general, is associated with Fire and Mars. Tansy and Sahara Mustard are both associated with deserts. While Tansy is widespread across the south, Wikipedia notes that it "is especially successful in deserts."
Sahara Mustard is an invasive species from the deserts of northern Africa and southern Arabian peninsula.
The seeds in the bowl on the left above are from the Sahara Mustard and are generally ready for harvest from late March through early April. They are basically a reddish brown and would be best used for the corresponding purposes. The seeds on the right are from Tansy Mustard and are generally ready for harvest from early to late April. They are yellow in color and are microscopically small. Ok, I exaggerate. Slightly.

Mustard has a long history of use by humans. Seeds, ready for sowing, have been found in a Bronze Age dwelling on the shore of the Lake of Bienne in Switzerland and in vessels in northwest China from about 5000–4000 B.C..
Mustard was used by the Egyptians of about 3,000 BCE. The tombs of twelfth dynasty pharaohs were stocked with a large amount of mustard seeds.
It is doumented in Sumerian and Sanskrit texts of about 3000 BC. and was cultivated by the Indus Valley Civilization of 2500-1700 BCE.
Obviously Mustard use and cultivation predates it's earliest known use by, at least, many centuries.
I would venture to guess that it's cultivation goes back to Ethiopia and close to the beginnings of agriculture. As Mustard is indigenous to Ethiopia it's use could go back to the beginnings of the human race, and before.
But that is just my guess and I, of course, can't prove it. Even if it doesn't go back that far, it's use does precede the earliest of higher civilizations and would certainly have a connection with those.
Sahara Mustard, being an invasive species from northern Africa and southern Arabian peninsula, would have a more direct connection with the earliest civilizations and possibly the earliest humans while Tansy would have a close connection with the civilizations of Native Americans, especially of the desert dwellers.

Mustard shows up only a few times in myth as far as I have been able to find. In Greek myth Zeus gives Mustard seed mixed with wine to Cronus which causes him to throw up his children, which he had eaten. This makes sense with Mustard being listed as an emetic. Ancient Greeks attributed it's discovery to Asclepius, a son of the god Apollo.
In the Christian myth Jesus is said to have compared Heaven to a Mustard seed. This is from the Gospel of Thomas (verse 20): "The disciples said to Jesus: Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like. He said to them: It is like a grain of mustard-seed, the smallest of all seeds; but when it falls on tilled ground, it puts forth a great branch and becomes shelter for the birds of heaven."
A person commenting on this verse wrote that "all mustard seeds are made perfect and cannot be cross breeded {sic}." At this point I am not sure if this is true, however I find it quite interesting.
That same article includes this quote from J. D. Crossan which I also find quite interesting in several ways. "The point, in other words, is not just that the mustard plant starts as a proverbially small seed and grows into a shrub of three or four feet, or even higher, it is that it tends to take over where it is not wanted, that it tends to get out of control, and that it tends to attract birds within cultivated areas where they are not particularly desired. And that, said Jesus, was what the Kingdom was like: not like the mighty cedar of Lebanon and not quite like a common weed, like a pungent shrub with dangerous takeover properties. Something you would want in only small and carefully controlled doses - if you could control it." (The Historical Jesus, pp. 279)
In another place Jesus states that if a person has the faith of a Mustard seed, they can move mountains. Perhaps he was speaking in terms of the afore mentioned purity of the Mustard seed?
Buddhism also has a Mustard seed parable. In this story the very young child of a woman has died and she asks Buddha to bring him back to life. The Buddha says he will if she brings him some Mustard seed from a house which has never experienced death. This, of course is a task which she is unable to complete but she learns a deep lesson on the transitory nature of all and becomes a disciple.
This parable is not so much about the mystical qualities of the Mustard seed. Buddha most likely chose the Mustard seed because it was a medicine that every household would have rather than for any mystical qualities it may contain or represent.

Hindus believed that mustard seeds aided people in locating buried treasures, made them capable of flying and helped in shape shifting. They spread the seeds on their doorstep to protect from evil spirits and sprinkled them around to ward off evil spirits during illness. And they used it in ritual to protect from negative magick.
In Denmark seeds were scattered on floors to keep out evil spirits and around barns to keep fairies and other spiritual entities from bothering the animals. German mothers sewed the seeds into the hem of their daughter's wedding gowns to encourage passion in the groom. Some Europeans scattered the seeds on their roofs as protection against vampires.

The seeds, aka Eye of Newt, are the part of the Mustard plant most frequently used in spellcasting and ritual. It has been used mostly for physical, material and spiritual protection though it has also been used to attract love and increase passion as well as for good luck and good health. It has been used for protection from thieves, to encourage a positive outcome in legal matters and for stopping people who intend harm of whatever sort. And it is used as an aid in gaining and improving psychic abilities.

Here in the southwest Tansy Mustard is the first plant to flower in early spring, generally the first week of January. Actually spring doesn't begin until about mid January so the Mustard flower is an announcer that spring is on it's way.
In this aspect we associate Mustard with Lucifer (in the original sense of the name and not to be confused with the Christian Satan) who announces the coming of the day. We break with tradition and use the flowers in ritual and spellwork dealing with new beginnings and starting new projects.
Since Mustard use precedes human history and Sahara Mustard is associated with the earliest of human societies, we again break with tradition and use the roots of Sahara Mustard in ritual seeking ancient wisdom.

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The picture on the left displays the white ring around the dark reddish brown center, which I will discuss shortly. The picture on the right is of Mistletoe in a Mesquite tree.
Mesquite is the most prominent tree of our area.
Some have suggested a water association for it. The main purpose for this tree being as a firewood, especially a cooking fire wood, we suggest fire as a more fitting elemental association.
Others also tend to categorize this tree as feminine. Considering the many uses of Mesquite we can understand this association. Those uses include, besides fire: food, herbs, syrup, chewing gum, bows, arrows, construction wood, rope, baskets, clothing, sewing needles, tool handles, dye, paint and more. Add to this the herbal qualities, which deal largely with the digestive system and you have good reason for associating this tree with a Hearth Goddess.
A quality of this tree which we never see mentioned elsewhere, is the appearance of the crosscut branch which is very much bonelike; a whitish ring around a dark reddish brown middle. While a piece of the wood is being worked with electric tools it emits an odor which is very reminiscent of bone. The sound of a mototool combined with the odor easily reminds one of sitting in the dentist's office. Considering these similarities to bone we believe that it may replace bone in spells and ritual, standing in as a white candle may stand in for any other color. We associate this semblance of bone with Prometheus asserting that the Southwest is the desert place wherein Prometheus was bound. The Grand Canyon fits easily in here as being the deep gorge. As his liver was being pecked at by Jove's eagle the pieces of his bone flew. Where they landed Mesquite trees grew.
We also say the pieces of his flesh became the Peyote cactus. The poison which dripped on his flesh must now be scraped off the cactus before it can be used. But that is a subject for elsewhere.
Prometheus is a god who has given much as well as taught much and done much for humans. He gave us fire and taught architecture, medicine, the art of prophecy and much more. So much more, in fact, that Aeschylus writes in "Prometheus Bound","And in a single word to sum the whole, All manner of arts men from Prometheus learned". Mesquite has obviously been used for "all manner of art". Whether you apply a Hearth Goddess or a Promethian association, it can be used in ritual asking for material gain; not to be confused with monetary gain. Protection also applies to both though probably more to Prometheus as he has protected the human race on many occasions and especially from Jove.
Healing ritual, as suggested by some, fits the qualities of this tree. We believe that Prometheus is more related to healing arts than is a Hearth Goddess. But we will do more research to be sure.
The antimicrobial and disinfectant qualities are probably why others suggest Mesquite for cleansing and purifying ritual. This quality may be more associated with a Hearth Goddess.
The leaves and seed pods are used to make a eyewash. We use an infusion of these to wash our crystal balls and in any ritual for seeking visions or seeing the future.
Prometheus is an omniscient seer and taught humans "divination, dream reading and all other forms of augury".
Prometheus also protected the secret of which child of Jove will replace him. Generally it is said this will be a son but we are thinking it may actually be a daughter.
As he was both a protector and a revealer of secrets we also use, especially the leaves and pods but also any part, for keeping and revealing secrets.

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Palo Verde runs a close second as far as prominence is concerned, however it is not nearly as useful as Mesquite; the wood is too light and porous. Although it can be used for fire, it burns quickly and makes few coals. Also it seems that some people are allergic to the foul smelling smoke.

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Tobacco - Paganwiccan.about.com associates tobacco with masculine, fire and Mars. We won’t argue with the masculine and will only briefly mention that tobacco seems to us as being more associated with smoke than with fire, but that might associate tobacco more with east than with south. However, at least one Native American site, Red Road Collective, does say that Tobacco represents East and the mind.
Since tobacco is indigenous to the south it is probably best to leave that as it is for now.
The association with Mars, however, seems incorrect since the most widely known ritual use of tobacco is in a “peace pipe”. It was also given as a gift when two people were having a disagreement and one wanted to make amends.
Sorry but we don’t have a planetary association to offer in place of Mars at this time though, Alchemy Works has suggested Saturn.
If anyone has thoughts on this, or on anything else we write, we would very much like to hear them.
Paganwiccan then says that tobacco is used to communicate with spirits, can be carried in a sachet for safe journey or sprinkled outside doors and windows to repel negative energies.
theMagickalCat.com says that tobacco promotes peace, confidence and personal strength. Also that it can be used for banishing and winning a court case.
Native Americans seem to have used it in nearly every aspect of their lives. It was given as a gift to Grandmother Earth when gathering herbs or food ( whether plant or animal ), to ask for calm weather or abundant harvest, before beginning a journey, when encountering a feature in a landscape that was believed to contain spirits, upon finding a feather or seeing an eagle and before any religious ceremony. The list goes on.
It was also frequently given as a gift to other people for a variety of reasons such as healing a rift or asking someone to perform a ceremony. RedRoadCollective states, “To offer someone tobacco is to ask that you and the person receiving the tobacco be of one heart, one mind and one spirit”.
The same site also states that tobacco was smoked as a means of offering prayers “because it opens the door to the creator” ( which, to them, is in the east ) and connects the worlds. It then cautions, however, that the smoke is never inhaled but, rather, that small puffs are held in the mouth and released with a prayer.
This site also cautions, “Real tobacco is not the tobacco you find in smoke shops and stores….For our ceremonies to have their full power, we need to know how the tobacco was procured, grown and harvested ….”
. As we understand, Native Americans never cured tobacco but dried and smoked it green. Lewis ( of Lewis and Clark )wrote that it reminded him of green tea "...and in this state it is smoked by the Indians".
On first seeing tobacco Columbus wrote that it looked like tea. And then he threw it overboard. In 1499 Amerigo Vespucci wrote that the natives chewed a green leaf which, of course, turned out to be tobacco. Here is where we point out that, since our tobacco is wild crafted, it is grown as organically as any can be. We dry it naturally so that it dries green. And we use no additives at all. As such the smoke has an herby flavor and smell which is quite unlike cured tobacco.

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Creosote - The Tohono O'odham ( Native American tribe ) of this area say that Creosote was the first plant created by Earthmaker. While it may not be that old, scientist do say it is among the oldest living plants. Some of the plants are among the oldest living organisms, being as much as 11,000 years old. This, of course, reveals a strong connection to the distant past and would obviously be useful in any ritual dealing with such matters.
Am Witch suggests it's use for rituals dealing with longevity and permanence. Due to it's ability to survive in harsh conditions she suggests it's use for overcoming challenges.
She also points to it's ability to inhibit the growth of other plants nearby and suggests it's use for “healthy isolation “ such as for introspection or healing.
Due to it‘s proliferation even in the face of extremely adverse conditions she applies the qualities of perseverance and overcoming challenges.
The same site also refers to the pervasive smell of Creosote in the air which follows a rainstorm as “earthy” and thereby applies the quality of grounding.
We pretty much agree with all of these except for the “grounding” though we also find no reason at this time to disagree with that assessment.
( A lot of what Amwitch writes is actually lifted from another site which we believe to have been the original. Unfortunately we have forgotten the site address but if we eventually find it we will be sure to give credit where credit is due )
Ehow ( apparently this site is no longer available. We apologize ) suggests from this quality a use for warding ( guarding or protecting ). Ehow also refers to a Native American myth of an ancestor who "used the black shellac...on the boat in which he escaped the great flood" in suggesting that Creosote links one to this long mystical heritage.
Noting the medicinal qualities of this plant ( some have thought of it as a panacea ) we, of course suggest it's use in healing ritual. The antimicrobial and disinfectant qualities would indicate it's use in cleansing ritual.
Another quality which we note is the yellow color of the wood. We apply the qualities of yellow: air, communication, intellect, swift changes and healing.
Because of the color we at first thought of a Hermes association. After further consideration we now believe a Chiron association to be more fitting.