Spheres Of Light


by Amethyst

As any modern gardener will tell you, thistles are a bloody nuisance. I've been told they're sharp, spiky and down right ugly, and that was being polite. I've also been told that you must get them young or you'll never be rid of them. And yet you can see why the Scots have it as a national symbol, it does have a harsh beauty about it, just like the Scottish highlands.

"It is not seen enough, you should wear it in your cap.
By my troth, I am sick.
Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus, and lay it to your heart: it is the only thing for a qualm.
There thou prickest her with a thistle."

"Much Ado About Nothing" by William Shakespeare

Botanical Family: Asteraceae
Planetary associations: Mars
Zodiac associations: Aries
Element: Fire
Gender: Masculine
Magickal classifications: Magickal Herbe, Religious Herbe
Invocatory: Thor, Minerva, Pan
Tarot: Emperor Card, Page Cards of Any Suit
Part Used: roots & leaves
Synonyms: Cotton Thistle, Blessed Thistle, Holy Thistle, Spotted Thistle, Woolly Thistle, Ground Thistle, Dwarf May Thistle, Way Thistle, Lady's Thistle etc.


Thistle is the common name of a group of flowering plants characterised by leaves with sharp prickles on the margins. It is the old English name - essentially the same in all kindred languages - for a large family of plants occurring chiefly in Europe, Africa, The Canary Islands, Caucasus, Australia and Asia, arranged under the botanical groups Carduus, Carlina, Carbenia, Cirsium, Cnicus and Onopordum (sorry if I missed any). Prickles often occur all over the plant - on surfaces such as those of the stem and flat parts of leaves. These are an adaptation that protects the plant against animals from feeding on them.

In the language of flowers, the thistle (like the burr) is an ancient Celtic symbol of nobility of character as well as of birth, for the wounding or provocation of a thistle yields punishment. For this reason the thistle is the symbol of the Order of the Thistle, a high chivalric order of Scotland.

In agriculture the Thistle is the recognized sign of untidiness and neglect, being found not so much in barren ground, as in good ground not properly cared for. It has always been a plant of ill repute among us; Shakespeare classes 'rough Thistles' with 'hateful Docks,' and further back in history we read of the Thistle representing part of the primeval curse on the earth in general, and on man in particular, for - 'Thorns also and Thistles shall it bring forth to thee' - Genesis 3:18.

Among the thirteen noxious weeds enumerated in a proposed Bill in the UK, the name of Thistle is naturally to be found. And yet in medicine Thistles are far from useless. When beaten up or crushed in a mill to destroy the prickles, the leaves of all Thistles have proved excellent food for cattle and horses. This kind of fodder was formerly used to a great extent in Scotland before the introduction of special green crops for the purpose. The young stems of many of the Thistles are also edible, and the seeds of all the species yield a good oil by expression.

Two or three of the UK species are handsome enough to be worthy of a place in gardens. Some species which flourish in hotter and drier climates than the UK, such as the handsome Yellow Thistles of the south of Europe, Scolymus, are cultivated for that purpose, and have a classical interest, being mentioned by Hesiod as the flower of summer. This striking plant, crowned with its golden flowers, is abundant throughout Sicily. The Fish-bone Thistle (Chamaepeuce diacantha), from Syria, is also a very handsome plant. A grand Scarlet Thistle from Mexico (Erythrolena conspicua) was grown in England some fifty years ago, but is now never seen.

A thistle found in Australia, Scotch Thistle, is found from the NSW border all the way along the coast to Adelaide. It originated from Europe, western and central Asia and Asia Minor regions.

Some Thistles, such as the Musk Thistle, are very attractive to bees, hoverflies and butterflies, and are a food plant for the caterpillars of many Lepidoptera species.

The old lore regarding the thistle is inconsistent with its modern magickal use. Perhaps running skyclad through the fields after being evicted from the Garden of Eden provided some sharp reminders of the nature of reality.


The Thistle represents the virtue of endurance and can be used Magickally to strengthen one's ability to survive periods of stress, difficulty, or in herbal terms, to weather the storms of life. Thistles are sometimes used at the Autumn Equinox to provide the Magick of survival to last throughout the fierce winter. In olden times Thistle was used as a hex breaker.

Thistles have been used in modern times in animal magick to provide healing and survival for the animals, both feral and domestic. A ritual of healing may be done for an animal, bringing it within a Circle which has a thistle bloom placed at each of the four directions.

In Ol' England, wizards would select the tallest thistle to make into a magick wand or a "walking stick." Many thistles are used, but the three best known are Blessed Thistle (Holy Thistle), Teasel, and Milk Thistle.

Thistle is a herb of protection and vitality. A bowlful placed in a room strengthens the spirits and renews vitality. One may be carried for added strength and energy. They offer protection when grown in the garden or carried in the pocket. Throwing them into a fire will deflect lightning away from your home. Wearing a garment made from thistle will break any spell. Poppets are also stuffed with thistle to break spells. Use in healing spells and for depression. It is said that when a man carries one he becomes a better lover. A method of calling spirits is to boil some thistle. After removing it from the heat, be seated next to the bowl and begin meditating. As the steam rises, so will your questions and their answers will be heard.

There is also a reference to Thistle (Holy) in The Use of Colour in Magick. It is listed in PLANT/HERBS for the colour red.


Blessed Thistle can be used to strengthen the heart, and is useful in all remedies for lung, kidney, and liver problems. It is also useful as a brain food for stimulating the memory. A cup of tea per day will help chronic headaches; it is also viewed as having many beneficial holistic qualities, including being of use in the treatment of loss of appetite and indigestion. Blessed Thistle is also sometimes used as a treatment for the early stages of fever and inflammatory infections. It is also to aid in breaking up colds and headaches, and in the treatment of wounds and skin abrasions.

It is used in remedies for menopause and for menstrual cramping. Often used by lactating women to stimulate blood flow to the mammary glands and increases the flow of milk.

Be very careful of using the herb in large quantities because it can induce vomiting.

a compendium of HERBAL MAGICK by Paul Beyerl, 1998

P.S. I'll think differently of any thistle that I happen to see from now on, that is if I can find any.

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Spheres Of Light (SOL) is an Australian Pagan group (eg. Witches, Wiccans, Heathens, Shamans, Magicians, Occultists etc) meeting in the Sutherland Shire,
Southern Sydney, the Illawarra & surrounding regions of NSW. SOL conducts Full Moon & Dark Moon circles, workshops, classes, meditations & healing circles,
with a strong emphasis on modern shamanic practices & eclectic witchcraft.

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