Herb of The Angels
A power ingredient in the herbalist’s arsenal, angelica root (Angelica Archangelica) is part of the carrot family Umbelliferae. Common names include Archangelica officinalis, garden angelica, herb of the angels, archangel, angel food, ghost plant, dead nettle, archangel root, wild celery, wild parsnip, Norwegian angelica, masterwort and Dong Quai. Although there are approximately 30 different species of Archangelica, this is the only Archangelica species used medicinally.
Believed native to Syria, the hardy herb can be found in northern Europe, Iceland, Scotland, Canada, the United States, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The moisture loving aromatic herb, is found in damp meadows and along stream banks in temperate and sub temperate climates. A hardy ornamental biennial, the herb grows to a height of between 5 to 8 feet. Angelia root is said to derive its name from the angels. The attractive plant normally blooms in time for the feast day of the Archangel Michael on September 29th.
Dried angelica root, root powder, root tinctures, tonics and essential oils are available online or from local health food stores. G & J Greenall, a German based supplier of the herb reports, “Reputedly angelica got its name from the archangel who recommended its use during the plague. It would protect against evil spirits and witchcraft, hence it is also known “The root of the Holy Ghost.” In Germany, angelica was believed to eliminate the effects of intoxication and to render witchcraft and the evil eye harmless.”
The Lucky Amlut Archives states,
"Angelica Root (also known as Holy Ghost Root, Archangel Root, and Dong Quai) is widely thought to be a powerful Guardian and Healer, and to provide Strength to Women. We believe that Angelica Root is used by many people for the purpose of Warding Off Evil and bringing Good Luck in Health and Family Matters.
Some folks tell us that they place the root in a white flannel bag, anoint it with Blessing Oil and keep it near the Baby for protection. Others use it in a ritual magic spell called the Fiery Wall of Protection. It is also widely claimed that dressing a whole Angelica Root and a pinch of Lavender Flowers with Peaceful Home Oil and carrying them in a blue flannel bag will bring Peace to the Home and Faithfulness to the Marriage.
In America, Angelica root is commonly found in African-American mojo bags prepared for protection from evil, for uncrossing, and to break a jinx. In powdered form, it is an ingredient in sachet powders used for healing and blessing. It may also be dusted on magic candles used for protection and prayer in matters of spiritual peace and blessing.
In Mexico, when an adolescent girl has suffered a bout of susto (a form of supernatural fright), she may be given a white flannel bag containing an Angelica Root and a small print of Saint Michael Archangel to carry for protection.
There are actually seven Archangels in the Jewish belief, four of whose names are mentioned in scripture. Two of them are symbolically connected to this root. Archangel Michael, the eldest, is used with Angelica Root as a defender of women. Archangel Gabriel is concerned with the announcements of pregnancy, is allied with this root in its role as an herbal tonic for women's reproductive health."
The plant only produces leaves during the first year of growth. During the second year, the plant produces a fluted stem that may grow as much as 8 feet tall in a season. The lush, large leaves are composed of several small leaflets. Each leaf may be up to 3 feet long and display a reddish-purple coloration at the base. The edges of the leaflet are serrated or toothed. In late summer of the second year, angelica’s sturdy stems display an abundance of small yellow-green flowers, clustered into large, globe shaped umbels. The flowers develop oblong, bright yellow fruit that attract bees, butterflies, birds and bats.
The root, stalks, leaves and seeds of the herbaceous plant are used in numerous herbal formulations including salves, muscle rubs and compresses. The thick, fibrous roots are long and spindly, weighing up to 3 pounds. Brigitte Mars, A.H.G, in the Desktop Guide To Herbal Medicine, reports, “Native Americans in the Arkansas region used to combine the herb with tobacco as a smoking mixture to inspire visions. Some carry angelica as a talisman for luck in gambling. Angelica leaves were once used to wrap and preserve food for traveling." Around the world, practitioners of voodoo or herbal magic, burn the leaves of the root in a spell to manifest romantic or sexual desires. In many cultures, a root is hung in doorways and sprinkled around the home to ward off evil hexes and spells.
The easy to grow plant is edible and often added to soups and casseroles as a flavorful vegetable. The stalks are steamed like asparagus. Candied, the stalks and leaves are a delicious sweet treat. Leaves are dried for tea. Traditionally, the plant seed has been employed to flavor liqueurs such as gin, vermouth, absinthe, Dubonnet, Benedictine and Chartreuse. The root emits a pleasing and pungent earthy aroma. Essential oil, that has been steam distilled from the root, is a common ingredient in many organic beauty products such as soap, shampoo, body lotion and perfume. An expensive ingredient, the 2012 world market price for dried angelica root is over $1500 a pound. Angelica root essential oil averages from $30 to $50 an ounce.
Angelica root as long been valued for its diverse array of therapeutic properties. For centuries, the root has been used to relieve stomach distress including colic, gas, flatulence, stomach cramps, indigestion and bloating. A helpful pain reliever, the potent herb is also used to treat the discomfort of migraines, rheumatism, menstrual cramps and neuralgia. In Nordic countries, the plant was traditionally used as a tranquilizer to combat the symptoms of menopause. Herbalists advise that pregnant or lactating women should not use angelica.
If you are harvesting angelica in the wild, know beyond a shadow of doubt that you have correctly identified the plant. Angelica presents a striking resemblance to several other plants that are poisonous.