Written by Algoth’s Grove
“Sometimes it’s a hat, sometimes it’s a glove, but almost always it knows the route to where the fae are hiding… beware though, knowing the secrets means you need to pass through the underworld… and who knows when you shall return?”
Ruling Planet: Venus, Saturn
From the start we need to mention that Digitalis Purpurea and Digitalis Lanata is highly poisonous. This isn’t shocking for a plant that protects and houses fairy lore. Not only is it rumoured that the Foxglove adores the fae, clothes them and entraps the human who dares and knows its ways, in a deep deathly trance into the underworld, but it also attracts and feeds the bees. We all know fae ride on the back of bees, right?
On a more serious note, Foxglove, Digitalis Purpurea and Digitalis Lanata contains the essential compound Digoxin. Digoxin is a vital medicine used in the treatment of various cardiovascular disorders. Folklorically, the plant has been used for centuries to treat wounds, blisters and skin disorders as well. It has been a critical addition to many salves, tea’s and ointments concocted by traditional healers. Sadly, Digoxin is used to perform late abortions by ensuring fetal demise.
Medically Foxglove is the best source for Digoxin, but the therapeutic index is so marginal that it has become the third choice in any medical treatment of cardiovascular disorders. There are a series of on going studies on the affect of Digoxin in the treatment of cancer but these tests are still in their infant stages and cannot be placed into any sort of concrete acceptable treatment, not yet anyway.
It must be noted again, before we move onto the exciting world of magic and folklore that there are thousands upon thousands of articles, memes and claims on the use of Foxglove for all sorts of treatments, from relief of heavy menstruation to being rich in antioxidant properties and being a cure for migraines and joint pain. DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE WITH FOXGLOVE! Just don’t do it. You will die. The mathematical precision with which the extractions and the medicines are to be made require years and years of study, and you can kill yourself or someone else. In the world of medicine, we believe and know that there are a certain amount of ‘safe’ plant spirits who provide the same healing benefits as the poisonous ones. Use the safe plants. The treatment may take longer, but life is precious, and death by Foxglove poisoning is not pleasant.
The myth and the magic behind Foxglove
The tales are magical. Foxglove incorporates an entire library of magical bedtime stories alone. In Wales the plant is known as ‘The Good People’s Glove’, or Ffion, or Maneg Ellyllyn. It is also known as ‘The Dead man’s bells.’ However it is interesting to note that the plants original name: Foxglove, could have come from the words Folks and gliew. This translated to the fairies bells. Superstition dictated that you do not draw attention from the fairies, lest they bring in mischief and mayhem into your life and so they were known as the folks, the wee-folk and by many other names.
It is said that the first morning dew collected from the flowers of the foxglove can be used in contacting the fae by magic. Never pick the flowers without asking and receiving permission through a dream or a gift from the wee-folk, it is considered to be a curse. Some more magic is hidden in the reason behind why the foxglove sways and bobs even without a single sign of a breeze or a disturbance. It is said that the Foxglove bows to the fae when they walk by the flowers. It is also rumoured that the fae hang on the edges of the plants and are transported to the ground below. They speak of using the bone of a rabbit shin and placing a hole in it with markings of the fae. It is required that you lie as still as possible and when the foxglove bobs and sways, look through the rabbit shin hole and you will catch a glimpse of the fae… spying on the fae is not always greeted with pleasantries, so make sure to leave them some cake and sweet berry juice.
Known also, as the plant of faery woman, as the plant of the sidhe, it is also referred to sometimes as the thimbles of the Sidhe. It is believed that if your little ones are taken by the fae, that you are to obtain a large sprig of Foxglove and place it under the childs cot, or bed and they will return your little one.
If used in spells, foxglove will break fae enchantments and will loosen the tongues of the liars. It is said that it can open the doorway of the underworld. It is also rumoured that placing foxglove, belladonna and Angel’s Trumpets into a powder and spreading on the edge of the black mirror under the night of the full moon, you will be able to glance into the wonders of the world beyond the veil.
We leave you with a little delight written by Mary Webb…
The foxglove bells, with lolling tongue,
Will not reveal what peals were rung
In Faery, in Faery,
A thousand ages gone.
All the golden clappers hang
As if but now the changes rang;
Only from the mottled throat
Never any echoes float.
Quite forgotten, in the wood,
Pale, crowded steeples rise;
All the time that they have stood
None has heard their melodies.
Deep, deep in wizardry
All the foxglove belfries stand.
Should they startle over the land,
None would know what bells they be.
Never any wind can ring them,
Nor the great black bees that swing them–
Every crimson bell, down-slanted,
Is so utterly enchanted.