Who is This "Joe Pye"?

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply / Labels: ,

Of all the useless things people have named for them--cocktails and sandwiches and diseases...I'd rather be like Joe Pye.

Joe Pye was an Indian medicine man of Massachusetts, or so the legend goes, with such skill at healing the incredibly difficult disease, typhus, that the lovely Gravelroot was given his name.  Whether or not this was exactly so is a matter of opinion.  There doesn't seem to be a consensus on the matter among scholars (though, if you're as devoted to wild plants as I am you might like to read this in-depth article on just how very far the search for Joe Pye has come), but that doesn't stop the legends from rolling along.  

But, brilliant Indian herbalists aside, who is the Joe Pye you are likely to meet in the present-day woods?  A tall and stately figure with whorls of leaves rising in decreasing layers to meet a crown of fragrant purple flowers.  He is a lovely sight in clusters by the side of a creekbed and impossible to miss in a meadow, towering over the heads of every other plant. The butterflies and the bees love him dearly.  And so does the witch.

I won't bore you with the habitat and growth-cycle business of Joe Pye Weed, nor with its impressive medicinal uses.  I'm certain that many folks enjoy this kind of detail in other witchcraft pages but I regard it purely as packing material for filling out otherwise meager magical information.  And I don't ever like excess packaging.  So we're just going to tuck in to the good stuff right away, shall we?

If you don't have this plant in your stocks now, I suggest you remedy that right away (and not just because I sell the whole leaves in my shop).  If you find it growing wild, so much the better, because every inch of this plant has its own magic!  The leaves are the most commonly used, so we'll start there.  Lay a whole leaf in the sole of your shoe and everyone you meet will regard you with respect.  Tuck a leaf in your cheek (as though it were a pinch of snuff) and your words will be pleasing to the ears of the one whose amorous attention you seek.  Carry it in your pocket or add to formulas and mojo bags to bring gambling luck and general good fortune.

The flowers are another matter altogether.  Their focus is all love: drawing it, keeping it, strengthening it, and regaining it. There is also a lesser known method, noted by Catherine Yronwode of Lucky Mojo, for using Joe Pye blossoms in rites to inspire visions.  Call up spirits to answer questions on love and you'll neatly combine the two.

Before Joe came along, the root was the "big show" and the originator of the common name of this plant. Called Gravelroot, Gravelweed, and Kidneyroot, it is a clear standard for the root's use in treating kidney stones (that's all the medicine I'll talk, I swear).  But for magic, it's more about what's in your pocket than in your kidneys.  This is the part to use when you want money luck, business success, a new job, or prosperity in general. Roots can be carried alone or as part of a mojo.

Gathering Joe Pye Weed is a simple matter.  As always, carefully count the number of plants in any grouping (if you are taking roots or whole plants) and the number of leaves per plant (if only gathering leaves).  Your harvest should be no more than one-quarter of the total.  And I'm completely serious.  Unless the whole of it is about to be mowed down, never take more than is your share.  This ensures that there is enough for other witches, herbalists, and botanists, plus the wildlife who call its habitat their home.

Once you have your Joe Pye Weed at home, inspect each piece and wash where necessary.  Roots will need scrubbed with a stiff-bristled brush and leaves gently rubbed with the hands under cold running water. You will need to allow leaves to air dry for an hour on a kitchen towel before further processing, but the roots can be hung up to dry immediately.  Any area in the home with plenty of circulation will work for this.

If you would like to press your leaves, as you see them in my shop, you can layer them between sheets of plain paper and then weigh it down with large, heavy books.  Let your leaves rest this way for only a few days at a time.  Leaf pressing takes much less time than you think, and leaf molding is faster yet.  So watch your leaves!  You won't spoil them by checking in every other day. When they are quite flat, let them sit in their papers but without the weight so they can finish drying completely.

The other drying method is, of course, much simpler--just let them sit uncovered on a tray until they are curled and crunchy.  Crumble and pack away in a bag or bottle.  Done. This method is what you'll want if your goal is Joe Pye Weed you can add to bags and formulas: quick drying and easy to store on a spice rack.

Joe Pye Weed has become a favorite herb of mine not only because all parts are useful but because I call upon its virtues so often.  I always keep the leaves on hand because of the amount of public speaking I do (large and small) and the number of people I'd like to impress with that speaking.  It's something I keep in my emergency kit, give to our kids for school events, and have tucked in nearly every mojo I have carried. Couple that with its inclusion in my popular magical powder, Quill's Bag of Tricks (currently sold out), and I must keep a good supply year round or face a bewildering span of time until they grow tall again.

But now is the growing season, when all green things are lush and bright, and Joe Pye stands sentinel at his high purple post in the meadow or by the stream.  When you need him you can find him there, always ready to help.



Images from:
wvu.edu
color photos taken by author



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About Me

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My name is Quill and I've been practicing witchcraft for the past 17 years. 10 of those years I've been reading tarot and teaching.  I own a shop on Etsy called Quill's Occult Supply (check it out at QuillsOccultSupply.Etsy.com) full of handmade ritual and decorative items, spell components, and wild picked herbs.

I love to work with my hands.  Magic is a tool to shape our lives, and I'm using magic to shape tools to shape magic.  Cosmic! 

I use a lot of my favorite things in my shop: herbs, candles, wood, fabric, paint, clay.  And I get to carve, burn, grind, mold, think, dream ... I'm in the perfect business!

I've written 3 manuscripts for publication (2 non-fiction and 1 fiction) and am an avid NaNo-er!  I and my husband run a local coven called Orbis Prosapia, and our children are growing up surrounded by magic, mythology, fairy tales, Earth worship, art, open discussion, music, and humor. 

In addition to working on Ex Penna about my experiences as a professional witch, I also write for Scenes from the Circle about being a coven leader. 








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