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Glitter Witch Gardens

Sage

By 11/19/2023February 22nd, 2024No Comments

Materia Poetica

Sage is wisdom. Sage is wise.
Protecting your space with ancestral allies.

Salvia officinalis is bitter and savory.
Use leaf, root, and flower – their really quite tasty.

Sage lives in the house of the mint Family,
and it grows in most gardens quite aggressively.

White sage is quite sacred to Turtle Island natives,
so use garden sage for smudge and magic creatives.

Shenreg is quite helpful for all sorts of things;
mental wellness, muscle tension, and most wound healing.

Sage is quite worldly, coming from Northern Mediterranean,
also Asia, Africa, Europe, Central and South American.

Full sun to partial shade in Zones zero-four through ten.
So grow it yourself – it grows again and again.

The bees and the butterflies, even some hummingbirds too,
will love you for planting this herb, saying, “Thank You!”

My Shamanic Life podcast logo
Episode 129

My Shamanic Life Poscast

Hosted by Debbie Philp

Sheri Kurdakul is back with another engaging talk about her herb of the month. This episode is all about sage – the plant, the lore, and the wisdom. Sheri focuses on garden sage, which came from the Mediterranean region. She got me thinking about what it means to be naturalized, which I touch on before introducing Sheri. Listen and soak in all the wisdom!

LISTEN HERE
Sage leaves on isolated background
Salvia officinalis

Sage

Salvia officinalis, also commonly known as Garden Sage or Common Sage, is a perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, furry, green-grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. Under the right conditions, it will spread in your garden (it’s part of the same mint family Lamiaceae).

Sage has well-established medicinal and culinary value and is used throughout the world for both purposes. It generally blooms in early spring and is a welcome plant to early bees 🐝, butterflies 🦋, and the occasional hummingbird.

Their flowers are camphor-scented and bluish-lavender to pink-lavender in color. Each flower has two lips and is present in whorls on short, upright flower spikes.

Many use sage around this time of year (Thanksgiving) in the US, as a key ingredient in their stuffing and as seasoning for the turkey. Personally, in addition to using the dried spice, I pluck a couple of branches off one of my sage plants in my garden and tuck it into the wings of the turkey for added flair. When it comes time to make soup, I pluck off a fresh branch and throw it into the pot.

FUN FACTS

  • The genus name Salvia derives from the Latin word salveo which means “salvation”, “to be in good health”, “to save”, or “to heal”.
  • Sage has a strong odor or flavor that repels mice naturally.
  • Sage was used in the Roman era as part of sacred ceremonies because the people believed that it is able to bring prosperity and longevity.
  • Sage was one of the ingredients in the famous Four Thieves Vinegar!
  • Sage can be used in your oral health
Salvia_officinalis_-_Kohler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen
Dried Sage
Drying

Harvesting and Drying

May to August is the best time to harvest, and morning is better than late in the day, especially right after the dew has evaporated off the leaves. Of course, if you are looking to use fresh leaves, pick them only when you need them and only what you need. 

Once sage goes to bloom, the leaves will lose some of their potency, so harvest the aerial parts (leaves and leaf stems), before it blooms. If you want several harvests, keep pinching those flowers! 

Avoid young shoots to ensure the plant can sustain itself. Avoid picking all the plants from one cluster or one spot – pick a few and move on to another location in the space.

Cut stems that are at least 6 inches long, then gather them together and tie them in small bunches (to ensure good air circulation) and hang to dry. Because this is an aromatic plant, you’ll want to be patient in your drying method so as not to lose that precious aroma.

Drying can take 1-2 weeks depending on your humidity.

Herbal Actions & Medicinal Uses

Below is some basic herbal information based on Western Herbalism and Chinese Medicine (TCM). 

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

Parts Most Frequently Used: Leaves

Flavors: Warming

Herbal Actions

Primary Organs: Lungs, Heart, Urinary Bladder, Kidneys, Liver

TCM Actions:

  • Disperses Cold
  • Clears Heat
  • Clears Damp
  • Disperses Wind
  • Resolves Phlegm
  • Tonifies Qi

Western Actions:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antiseptic
  • Carminative
  • Diaphoretic
  • Digestive
  • Expectorant
  • Nervine
Sage growing in a pot
Recipe

Throat Support

With fall and winter comes dry air and sore throats. Sage tea is just the thing, especially if combined with a bit of lemon and honey.
Note: Sage is generally considered safe for everyone, however, large amounts of sage are contraindicated in pregnancy.  

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 TBSP dried crushed sage leaves
  • 1 Lemon slice, thin
  • Raw honey, if desired 
  • 1¼  cup hot water

DIRECTIONS:

  • Bring the water to a boil. 
  • Add the sage to an infuser or large tea ball or bag and place it in your favorite tea cup or mug.
  • Place the slice of lemon into the cup.
  • Pour the just-boiled water over the ball/bag and lemon and steep covered for at least 15 minutes.
  • Add honey if desired for extra throat soothing effects or to sweeten it up a bit.
  • Drink and enjoy!
Sage tea

Native Ecology

While most of the plants we’ve discussed have fauna-attracting qualities, sage works as a rodent repellant. Rats in particular hate the smell, so if you have a rodent problem near or in your house, plant sage around it to keep them outdoors where they belong.

Sage is beneficial for bees, butterflies, and some hummingbirds, so if you grow sage to use, please leave some to go to flower for your beneficial pollinating neighbors.

I would be remiss if I did not stress the dire situation of white sage. Salvia apiana, Ramona polystachya is a highly aromatic shrub that has been medicinally and ceremonially significant to Indigenous peoples in California and Mexico for thousands of years. Most of the white sage is poached – the whole plant is taken, often killing the sage plant. If you feel compelled to use white sage, then either grow it yourself or buy it from an indigenous tribe that ethically sources it. If you aren’t sure of its source, don’t buy it. Chances are, it’s been poached.

The California Native Plant Society has been gracious enough to share “Saging The World” – educate yourself and watch this 20 minute movie below.

Horticultural Information

Sage is native to the Mediterranean region, but naturalized in North America.

This is a full to partial sun loving plant that thrives in well-drained soil. 

Sage is easy to germinate and grow, but the seedlings are not frost tolerant. Seeds generally take 2-3 weeks to germinate after sowing. If starting seeds in a tray, you can transplant them when they have 2 sets of true leaves and stand about 4 inches high. Plant them about 18 inches apart in the garden. They can also be grown from cuttings.

New USDA Hardiness Zone(s), as of 2023: 4-10

New USDA Hardiness Zone Map as of 2023
New USDA Hardiness Zones as of 2023

Materia Magicka

Sage is used to foster wisdom, for healing and money spells, for protection and for energy cleansing.

It is used in work around the attraction of money and prosperity, as well as protection from evil and illness, self-purification and dealing with grief and loss. It is also used to promote wisdom. 

  • Use in court case spells to encourage wisdom.
  • Include in money sachets for prosperity.
  • Place on the altar for mental clarity.
  • Get someone else to plant sage in your yard to avoid bad luck – don’t do it yourself.
  • “Whoever cultivates sage in his garden, will have no reason to die.” – Medieval Legend

Garden sage is used in kitchen witchery, smudging, and cleaning. Add to your broom to boost its spirit cleansing properties.
Desert sage is used for smudging ceremonies.
Blue sage is known for its calming and relaxing properties.
Clary sage has a more musky scent and is used for its therapeutic and aphrodisiac properties.
Spanish sage is used for spiritual and healing purposes, given its strong aroma.

Below is some of the symbolism associated with Sage.

Planets: Constellations:
 ♃ Jupiter   ♉️ Taurus
Element: Chakra:
  🜁 Air   Throat Chakra
Deities: Tarot:
  Welsh: Rhiannon
  Roman: Jupiter
  Greek: Zeus
  Egyptian: Thoth
  Major Arcana: V The High Priest
  (The Herbal Tarot)
Woman sitting with sage in the background and the throat chakra hilighted