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Glitter Witch Gardens


By 12/10/2023December 23rd, 2023No Comments

Materia Poetica

(Sung to the tune of, “Oh, Christmas Tree.”)

Oh Mistletoe, Oh Mistletoe,
You are a hemi-parasite.
Oh Mistletoe, Oh Mistletoe,
We hang you up to kiss, not fight.
You grow high in the tops of trees,
And fight against cancer disease.
Oh Mistletoe, Oh Mistletoe,
Your presence makes our room just right.

Oh, Phoradendron leucarpum,
You’re the American variety;
In Europe you are Viscum album,
And hold more notoriety
In extract form you’re pretty safe
But too much fresh might end your date
Oh Mistletoe, Oh Mistletoe,
You are holiday gaiety.

My Shamanic Life podcast logo
Episode 129

My Shamanic Life Poscast

Hosted by Debbie Philp

The Glitter Witch herself, Sheri Kurdakul, is back with the perfect herb for Winter Solstice, mistletoe. There’s the medicinal and ecological stuff, but also lots of seasonal lore. And wait until you find out how mistletoe got its name, because it had me giggling the whole time. I also share a bit about the magic in my practice of gathering evergreen boughs for my Yule altar. Enjoy and have a happy holiday season!

 ~ Rev. Debbie Philp

bunch of mistletoe tied in a red ribbon - isolated
Phoradendron leucarpum | Viscum album

(American | European)

You’ll need to be a bit south and looking up to spot this treasure!

Phoradendron leucarpum (American variety) or Viscum album (European variety) is more affectionately known as Mistletoe. It is a parasite and lives off host trees, most commonly oak, apple, and poplar trees. It produces round white berries that birds love to eat. When they do, they poop them out onto branches of trees and then the seeds go to work. 

The seeds send out root tendrils that work their way into the bark of the host tree. Once inside the tree, it pulls all its nutrients directly from that tree to survive. While it usually does not kill the tree, it will weaken it, so if you see it, harvest away!

The image to the right outlines the lifecycle of mistletoe. It is linked to the source article if you wish to learn more.


  • Mistletoe and its host trees are considered sacred to Druids.
  • Mistletoe is an evergreen that bears fruit around the Winter Solstice, making it a symbol of peace and fertility.
  • The word “mistletoe” comes from the Anglo-Saxon words “mistel” meaning dung or poop, and “tan” meaning twig or stick. The two words were eventually combined into today’s “mistletoe” or, as the Anglo-Saxon’s of old would call it, “poop stick”.
  • A Christian legend has it that the mistletoe was damned by God to a parasite’s life, because Christ’s cross was made out of its wood.
  • Bunches of mistletoe growing together are commonly called “witches broom.”

Harvesting and Drying

Harvesting mistletoe can be challenging and dangerous due to the fact that it grows at the tops of trees. If you are fortunate enough to have it growing in some of the trees lower branches, you may be able to use a rake to pull it off the tree. If it is a bit higher, a tree-trimming pole might be your best bet, especially if it has a pole extension. 

When I was a kid living in South Carolina, I would climb trees with scissors in my pocket, then snip the mistletoe stems and throw them down to collect later. That is one of the dangerous methods and I do not recommend it. 

Another dangerous method of harvesting is doing so with a gun. Yes, people actually shoot mistletoe out of trees. I REALLY don’t recommend this method, as gun shots are loud, disrupting local wildlife., and can result in a serious accident. 

Drying mistletoe can be tricky. Although it is an evergreen, it is a parasite first and will dry out quick. First step is to keep it cool until you can get it to where you’ll dry it. Get a container (with a tight-fitting lid) large enough to spread out your sprigs of mistletoe as flat as possible. Layer the bottom of your container with borax, silica gel or even cat litter. Lie the sprigs out flat on top of your drying agent, then cover the mistletoe with another layer. Make sure all your sprigs are covered. Close the container and leave it undisturbed for about two or three days.

Native Ecology

As mistletoe produces berries in the winter, it is a vital food source for birds of many species. Some species have recently been recognized as ecological keystone species, an organism that helps define an entire ecosystem. A vast number of animals depend on mistletoe for food, consuming the leaves and young shoots, transferring pollen between plants and dispersing the sticky seeds.

Herbal Actions & Medicinal Uses

Mistletoe extracts are one of the most widely studied alternative medicines for treatments and therapies for cancer. In Europe, mistletoe extracts are one of the most prescribed therapies for cancer patients.

Below is some basic herbal information based on Western Herbalism and Chinese Medicine (TCM). Mistletoe can be toxic and should not be taken by children or if you are pregnant. 

With any herbs and supplements, always consult with a licensed health professional before use.

Parts Most Frequently Used: Aerial parts (leaves & stems – NOT berries!)

Flavors: Bitter

Herbal Actions

Primary Organs: Kidney, Liver

TCM Actions:

  • Expels Wind-Damp
  • Tonifies the Kidney and Liver

Western Actions:

  • Antispasmodic
  • Hypotensive
  • Nervine
  • Tonic
Mistletoe growing in a tree

Horticultural Information

The white-berried Christmas mistletoe we hang so hopefully in places where our sweethearts will find us lingering is just one of more than 1,300 species of mistletoe worldwide. Globally, more than 20 mistletoe species are endangered. Two growth forms of mistletoes are native to the United States: the leafy American mistletoe (the one commonly associated with our kissing customs) and the mostly leafless dwarf mistletoe. American mistletoe is found from New Jersey to Florida and west through Texas. The dwarf mistletoe, much smaller than its kissing cousin, is found from central Canada and southeastern Alaska to Honduras and Hispaniola, but most species are found in western United States and Mexico. Mistletoe is no newcomer to this country: excavations of packrat middens reveal that dwarf mistletoes have been part of our forests for more than 20,000 years. Some fossil pollen grains even indicate that the plant has been here for millions of years. 


USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 5-9

USDA Hardiness Zone Map

Materia Magicka

All plants are sacred so please treat them as such. Mistletoe is most commonly used for fertility, creativity, prevention of illness/misfortune, and protection from negative spells & magic.

Kissing under the mistletoe is associated with Christmas but was originally done at the Roman festival of Saturnalia (originally celebrated on December 17, Saturnalia was extended first to three and eventually to seven days). It was said that the man would pick a berry when kissing a partner beneath the mistletoe and once all the berries were gone and the kissing was complete, the mistletoe would then be burned on the twelfth night of Yule (January 1st) to ensure that those who kissed beneath it would then marry. 

Below is some of the symbolism associated with Mistletoe.

Planets: Constellations:
 ☉ Sun  ♐️  Sagittarius
Element: Chakra:
  🜁 Air    Root Chakra
Deities: Tarot:
 Greek: Apollo
 Norse: Freyja
 Norse: Frigg
 Roman: Venus
  Five of Swords
  (The Herbal Tarot)
Mistletoe - Chakra correspondence to the Root chakra