An incredibly powerful herb, St. John's Wort is a great ally for both medicine making and magic. They are a great remedy for burns, bruises, nerve pain, depression and liver stagnation and make a good oil to apply topically, as well as a delicious infusion to take internally. If you'd like more information about medicinal benefits of this incredible being, please check out this blog post about the herbal components of St. John's Wort.
Please avoid taking St. John's Wort internally if you are on any medications, as there is a high risk for harmful side effects. This is also applicable if you have stopped taking antidepressants in the last 6 months, as there are instances where St. John's Wort can actually make people more depressed and sometimes even suicidal.
This plant also has a strong affinity for the Sun, so strong in fact that they actually increase our skin’s sensitivity to sunlight when applied topically. Don’t put the oil on and go out in the sun or you might get burned.
If you’d like to harvest St. John's Wort, it is best to collect the flowering tops in the summer. Michael Moore says that fresh preparations are far superior to concoctions made with the dried herb. However, any medicine made with St. John’s Wort is better than no medicine at all, so work with what you have. If you work with the fresh herb, you can leave it in a paper bag for a day to let the bugs leave and allow the Hypericin and aromatics in the flowers to synthesize a bit more.
The herb is easy to grow and can make a great medicinal addition to any garden. If growing near wild areas, do not let them go to flower and keep them in a pot as this herb can expand quickly and become an invasive weed. Here's a picture of some St. John's Wort I'm growing in my garden from seed:
St. John’s Wort Cold Oil Recipe
One of the most common ways to interact with St. John’s Wort is in the form of an infused oil. In the Herbal Apprentice Program at Artemisia Academy, the Beginner Medicine Making class has tons of recipes and concoctions to learn how to work interactively with herbs.
Here is the recipe we learn for a cold oil infusion of St. John’s Wort:
Fill a quart jar no more than ¾ full of St. John’s Wort.
“Fog” herbs by lightly dampening with alcohol, which helps extract the water and alcohol soluble constituents (this isn’t necessary with fresh herbs as they still have water).
Cover with olive oil until the liquid covers herbs by at least 1 inch (use cold/expeller pressed olive oil to ensure it wasn’t chemically extracted).
Let sit for 2-4 weeks. Typically, it is recommended that oil infusions be kept away from the sunlight. However, St. John’s Wort has such a strong affinity for the sun that many herbalists choose to let their oil macerate in the sun, which is my personal approach.
Shake infusion every few days while macerating.
If fresh herbs were used or you fogged the herbs, carefully heat oil to 100 degrees to cook off alcohol and water content.
Cool and bottle.
St. John’s Wort oil is great for burns, sunburns, bruises, arthritis, muscle pain, sciatica, menstrual cramps, neuralgia, shingles and toothaches.
The oil can be used as is, or mixed with some beeswax into a salve. Check out our post all about Plantain for a great herbal salve recipe for scrapes and stings.
Solar Magic with St. John’s Wort
In addition to being a student at Artemisia Academy, I am a practicing Herbal Astrologer who loves to incorporate astrological and magical wisdom into my herbal work. If you'd like more fun herbal astrology information, please check out my website. Read on to learn how St. John's Wort has powerful magical associations that invoke solar energy.
Blooming so close to the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, many folk traditions associate this herb with the Sun. In Astrology, the Sun has to do with our identity, personality, consciousness, awareness, ego, visibility, and that which makes us shine.
The Sun is the steadiest moving planet in the solar system because it does not change speed or go retrograde, as most of the other planets do. This means that Solar energy can be quite steady, stable and reliable. The Sun also has to do with power and visibility, associated with royalty and leaders. Your natal Sun will say a lot about what makes you feel seen, and the house that Leo rules in your birth chart will have a spotlight focused on those related topics.
This means that when doing plant magic, St. John's Wort can be used to invoke Solar qualities such as steadiness, reliability, excellence, visibility and increased self-worth and confidence. If you want some more thoughts on how to determine correspondences when working with plants, check out my recent post about Yarrow where I talk all about how correspondences are determined.
The Sun is the vital life force of the cosmos and has been associated with divinity and the gods since before written history. One example of how that continues to show up in modern life is that Christianity views Sunday to be a holy day. Being associated with the Sun makes St. John's Wort a supremely holy and divine herb that can help you connect with the cosmos, gods, or whatever higher power resonates with you.
Fire is always reaching towards the heavens, and invoking Solar energy is a way to pull the heavens down to the Earth with us. Working with St. John's Wort in fire rituals can be particularly activating and effective. Consider lighting a candle and meditating with a cup of St. John's Wort tea.* Or, maybe you burn this herb in a ritual to release what no longer serves you. The Sun and all that is associated with it has radiance, integrity and life-giving power that can be supremely vitalizing.
*Do not take this herb internally if you are on medications or have stopped taking antidepressants within the past 6 months!
Herbal Apprentice Program
If you want to learn more incredible herbal remedies and the magic of plants, Artemisia Academy's Herbal Apprentice Program may be perfect for you. This 150-hour program is hands-on, interactive, and will give you the skills and knowledge you need to form deep and healing relationships with the herbal allies all around us.
The information I shared in this post comes from my own relationship with St. John's Wort, Artemisia Academy’s classes, David Hoffman's Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal and Medical Herbalism, Michael Moore's Western Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West, and Andrew Chevallier’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine.
About the Author
Alicia Cielle Heiser is an Astrologer, Herbalist and student at Artemisia Academy. Her work centers on facilitating a greater understanding of the cyclical nature of the world and the ways that we as humans fit within the greater whole. She is writing a series of materia medica blog posts for Artemisia to make the wisdom and knowledge of herbal medicine more available to more people. Alicia also has a podcast called Conversations with the Planets and she offers herbal astrology readings and crafts personalized herbal tea blends. You can find her at www.aliciacielle.com.
Disclaimer: Information presented on this webpage is for educational purposes only, and does not include the diagnosis and treatment of disease nor replace the advice of a licensed physician. Please refer to a licensed health professional for any illness or persistent symptoms before using herbal remedies.
Herbs can sometimes cause discomfort or side effects, and may interact adversely with pharmaceutical medications. Do not use herbs internally without the approval of a doctor or medical professional if you are currently on medications or have a history of medical conditions.