Mistletoe is considered to be a plant of male energy. Indeed, the white berries are reminiscent of semen (if you imagine hard enough). It has feminine properties as well, however. It is also associated with the sun and the element of air. It is associated with the Gods Apollo, Venus, Freya, Odin and Balder.
Mistletoe is associated with both Yule and Midsummer festivals.
Use in spells to attract love, for protection, for luck while hunting, for forgiveness and reconciliation, to increase sexual potency in men and to help conceive.
It can be burned to banish unwanted spirits, laid across the threshold of the bedroom to banish unpleasant dreams, hung in the home to attract love and drive away negative influence and carried as a general protective amulet.
Its wood is useful for making wands and other ritual tools.
Mistletoe is used for fertility, creativity, prevention of illness/misfortune, and protection from negative spells & magick.
Hang in the home for protection from lightning & fire. Wear in an amulet to repel negativity & ill will and protect against unwanted advances. Use to draw in customers, money and business. Use in ritual baths or prayer bowls for healing.
History and Folklore
Mistletoe has always been considered a magical, good luck plant. Lovers who kiss beneath it will have lasting happiness and carrying a sprig on your person will ensure good luck, protection and fertility. Hanging it in the home was supposed to protect it from disease, lightening, werewolves and having your children switched with faerie changelings.
In England and Wales, farmers gave a bunch of mistletoe to the first cow that calved to ensure the health and production of the whole heard for the year.
In Scandinavia, mistletoe was a symbol of peace under which warring parties swore truce.
According to lore, Druids held mistletoe in high esteem and collected it only when they received a vision ordering them to do so, and then with great ceremony.
Since the seeds are spread through bird droppings, our observant forbearers named Mistletoe “dung-on-twig”, (the word literally translated is a conjugation of “birdlime” or “bird dung” and twig) believing that the plant actually sprang from the dung itself. Other beliefs held the Mistletoe grew where a tree was struck by lightning.
According to Pliny the Elder, a first century Roman Historian, described a ritual gathering of mistletoe by Gaulish Druids in his Natural History XVI as follows:
“The druids – that is what they call their magicians – hold nothing more sacred than the mistletoe and a tree on which it is growing, provided it is Valonia Oak…. Mistletoe is rare and when found it is gathered with great ceremony, and particularly on the sixth day of the moon….Hailing the moon in a native word that means ‘healing all things,’ they prepare a ritual sacrifice and banquet beneath a tree and bring up two white bulls, whose horns are bound for the first time on this occasion. A priest arrayed in white vestments climbs the tree and, with a golden sickle, cuts down the mistletoe, which is caught in a white cloak. Then finally they kill the victims, praying to a god to render his gift propitious to those on whom he has bestowed it. They believe that mistletoe given in drink will impart fertility to any animal that is barren and that it is an antidote to all poisons.”
Mistletoe figures prominently in the folklore of the ancients of a great many cultures. In Greek Mythology, it is believed to be the Golden Bough of Aeneas, who was led from Troy by Venus to found Rome. In Norse mythology, Mistletoe was reportedly what killed Baldr, who was the god of light and beauty. Within Celtic and Druidic beliefs, mistletoe is often considered a remedy for the barrenness of animals, as well as a cure for poison, though, ironically, the berries of Mistletoe are poisonous. With leaves that stay green year-round and fruit that appears around the Celtic birth of the New Year, the Winter Solstice, it was frequently used in Druidic rites involving the holiday, and grew into a symbol of immortality. Later Christians also held that Mistletoe was a tree that furnished the cross, and then shriveled after the crucifixion, and becoming a parasitic vine.
Mistletoe as a Yule Tradition
Kissing under the Mistletoe originated with the Roman festival of Saturnalia. In England, kissing under the Mistletoe took place on Christmas, of course. The man must pick a berry when the kissing was complete, and once the berries were gone, there was no more kissing. The mistletoe must then be burned on the twelfth night to ensure that those who kissed under it would marry.
Throughout the Middle Ages, mistletoe was banned by the church because of its association with fertility and all of the fun debauchery that goes with it. As a substitute, holly was suggested. Even as late as the 20th century some churches did not allow people to wear mistletoe to services.
Mistletoe is one of the three ingredients in Medieval True Love Powder. When Mistletoe is blended with Verbena and Elecampane and the mixture is finely powdered, the result is called True Love Powder.
Mistletoe retained its lusty reputation, however. During the Victorian era, public displays of affection were largely frowned upon, but if you were standing under the mistletoe, you were going to get kissed. A tradition we still hold dear today.
Mistletoe is used to lower blood pressure and for the general health of the heart and circulatory system. It is also used to treat epilepsy. For both of these, make a tea of 1 teaspoon dried leaves with one teacup of boiling water. As needed for blood pressure, and two to three times per day for epilepsy.
Compress made with this same tea can be used for rheumatism.
Mistletoe has also been indicated in the treatment of certain cancers.
Stimulates uterine contractions and can be used for suppressed menstruation and to aid in childbirth.
Mistletoe is toxic. While you’d have to eat a lot of it to kill yourself with it, pets and small children are at a great risk. Mistletoe berries should never be taken internally.
There are many different types of mistletoe, be sure to check the botanical name before use.
Women who are pregnant or nursing should never use mistletoe!
As the darkest night of the year approaches, we’re adorning our homes with evergreen wreaths, mistletoe above our doors and aromatic fir trees. This need to bring “the green” indoors around Winter Solstice is not a new phenomenon.These plant-based rituals have evolved from a variety of different traditions.
Mistletoe While most of us just see mistletoe as an opportunity to give our loved one a smooch, it was much more than that to the ancient druids. Mistletoe was considered a sacred plant, and it was symbolic of Winter Solstice. During this time, the druids would wear white robes and red cloaks. They cut down the mistletoe from a host tree and brewed the plant for different potions.
Mistletoe stays green and bears fruit through the winter because it has a parasitic relationship with the tree it grows on. Because of its abundance during winter, mistletoe seemed quite magical to the ancients and symbolized fertility. In some traditions, people would tie mistletoe to their fruit trees to promote harvest (not something we would encourage these days) or place it in their bedroom as a fertility charm.
Well, technically yes. But I suspect that’s not the one you were thinking of. There have in fact been a number of works by rather famous artists called The Kiss. Edvard Munch painted one, Gustav Klimt painted one, and Auguste Rodin sculpted one. But I suspect you mean the Klimt.
Painted between 1908 and 1909, it’s famous enough that there’s not much left to say about it. I hadn’t remembered the fact until you asked, but I think my grandmother had a poster of it over one of her chairs—and when a painting gets to that point, it’s pretty hard to get a new scholarly toehold into the analysis. I don’t claim that this blog is full of brand-new insight, but I try, at least, not to be boring.
So instead I’ll tell you something kind of tangential.
Klimt often gets credit for reviving the use of gold leaf in paintings, after a six-hundred-year lull. Nearly twenty years earlier, however, in 1890, a pair of Glasgow Boys—George Henry and EA Hornel—used gold in The Druids: Bringing in the Mistletoe.