4 Simple Steps to Supercharge your Medicine-making using Astro-herbalism
We have a nice little stand of comfrey at the end of our driveway. 🌿 Comfrey is ruled by Saturn and it is supposed to be most potent when harvested on Satur(n’s)day during the Saturn hour (either the first or 8th hour of the day, beginning at sunrise). Comfrey is an incredible vulnerary (wound healer) both internally and externally. It is also an astringent (constricts tissues, slows bleeding) and a demulcent (soothes mucus membranes). Saturn rules the bones, as well as lung-related diseases and skin diseases. You can those properties reflected in comfrey’s healing. Comfrey was commonly called “bone-knit” because of its affinity for broken bones and it’s astringent properties make it excellent for speedy healing of wounds (note: it heals from the outside in and is especially potent when combine with St. John’s Wort, which heals from the inside out). This particular bundle (pictured above) was harvested when the moon was in Pisces and Pisces rules the lymphatic system (and the feet!) so those leaves will end up playing a leading role in an extra potent all-around healing oil & salve.
What am I talking about? Medical astrology and astro-herbalism. Have you ever been acquainted with the process of planting and harvesting by the moon? It’s quite a common practice; even nowadays you can even find information in your trusty Farmer’s Almanac that can be picked up at any grocery or hardware store. Well, astro-herbalism is kind of like planting-by-the-moon…on steroids. If you want to take your medicine making to the next level, keep reading!
I’m going to give it to you simple, before I dive into the details. There are four simple steps to beginning to integrate astro-herbalism into your practice:
Discover the planetary ruler of the plant you are working with
Find out which day of the week corresponds to the planetary ruler of your plant
Calculate the planetary hour that you should harvest (or work with your plant) during that day
Consider medical astrology and the movement of planetary bodies for additional potency
Getting started with astro-herbalism is pretty simple. You simply need to work with the planetary hours and days of the week to align your harvesting or working with your plants to the time that will be most resonant with the planetary energy that rules that plant. As a starting point, you can simply google “what planet rules (insert your plant name).”
My go-to reference book is Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. The list of planetary rulers begins on page 271.
That will give you the best day of the week to harvest or work with your plant. The days of the week are named for the planets, which is somewhat apparent in English but more so in the romance languages. I will use Italian to illustrate because I still remember some from my time living in Italy!
Monday = Moon Day, in Italian Lunedi (Luna=Moon), from the Latin Dies Lunae, “Day of Moon.”
Tuesday = Mars’ Day, associated with the Norse Gold Tyr (God of War, akin to the Roman God, Mars). In Italian Martedi, from the Latin Dies Martis or “Day of Mars.”
Wednesday = Mercury’s Day, named for the ancient Germanic God Woden who is akin to the Roman God Mercury. In Italian Mercoledi (say it out loud and it sounds just like Mercury!), from the Latin Dies Mercurii or “Day of Mercury.”
Thursday = Jupiter’s Day, from Thor’s Day (the Norse God associated with Jupiter). In Italian Giovedi from the Latin Dies Jovis or “Day of Jupiter.”
Friday = Venus’ Day, from Freya’s Day or Frigg’s Day (after the Norse God of fertility). In Italian, Venerdi, from the latin Dies Veneris or “Day of Venus.”
Saturday = Saturn’s Day, (in Latin Dies Saturni or “Day of Saturn”) this one is pretty literal as is Sunday=Sun’s Day (in Latin Dies Solis or “Day of the Sun”)
Ok, so now you know what day you should be working with your plant. Next, you have to figure out what time is best for harvesting. This is where planetary hours come in. The system of planetary hours is based on an ancient astronomical system called the Chaldean Order. The Chaldean Order is based on the relative velocity of each of the planets and also indicates the arrangement of the planetary orbits. The planet that rules a particular day of the week is also the ruler of the first hour of that day. It’s very important to note here, that the planetary day does not begin at 12am, it begins AT SUNRISE. So if I were to look at today, for instance, Monday is ruled by the moon, sunrise was at 7:24 this morning, so the time from 7:24am to 8:24am is the first planetary hour and that hour is ruled by the moon. ‘
If you’re not a morning person and you’re starting to panic at the thought of harvesting plants at literal sunrise, don’t fret. The planetary ruler of the day rules both the 1st and the 8th hour of the day (cue sigh of relief), which means that there will be an energetically potent time to harvest in the middle of the afternoon.
Here is a handy-dandy chart of the Planetary Hours of the Day and the Planetary Hours of the Night. You can even download and print these out and stick them on your fridge if you want, they are formatted to print on a standard 8.5x11 sheet of paper.
Let’s re-cap: you know what planet rules your plant, you know what day that planet rules, and you know what hour that planet rules. Now before you harvest your plant, there’s one extra bit of astrological goodness that you can look into before making your herbal preparation: medical astrology. Medical astrology assigns a zodiac sign to parts of the body and/or body systems. You can use this knowledge coupled with astrological timing to harvest plants at the most potent time for the particular preparation or condition that you wish to address. For example, I harvested my comfrey when the moon (ruler of the lymphatic and endocrine systems) was in Pisces and Pisces also rules the lymphatic system and the feet, so knowing that, coupled with my knowledge of the medicinal actions of Comfrey, I might create an oil infusion with my comfrey and turn that into a body oil to use in massage that moves the lymph or a healing foot rub.
You can also refer to the astrological positions of the planetary ruler of your plant or the position of the sun. Whatever makes sense to you. I can always quickly check the positions of the planets, sun, and moon using my Llewellyn’s Witches’ Calendar.
Medical astrology is an in-depth subject. If you are a clinical herbalist you can use medical astrology to further personalize treatment of individual clients according to their natal chart. To dive in deeper, visit the links or check out the books in the resources list below.