Yuletide Greetings

Today is the Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the time when the light begins to return. Traditionally (going way back), this is the British Midwinter Festival of Yule (although winter is just beginning).

Mistletoe (Viscum album) is an important herb right now. It’s berries are poisonous but herbalists use twigs and leaves as an important circulatory tonic, calming to the heart and mind.  It is valuable along with others in managing blood pressure.

The association with Midwinter goes back to a Druidic practice. With a sickle of gold the chief druid would cut the golden orb of mistletoe, which, parasitic in the crowns of certain trees including Apple and Oak, would be strikingly visible amongst the tree’s skeletal winter form. The herb would then be used for some ritual or other.




In the fictional “Asterix the Gaul” series, the tribe’s druid Getafix uses mistletoe as one ingredient of the Magic Potion which makes that particular Gaulish tribe invincible to the Romans.

About donaldpurves

Traditional Herbalist since 1989, qualified originally with National Institute of Medical Herbalists (Tutorial Course, School of Herbal Medicine/Phytotherapy), joined Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners in 2011. University lecturer in Herbal Medicine since 2005. Born and brought up in the Scottish Borders. Higher Education at University of York (Biology 1980) and Scottish School of Herbal Medicine (MSc Herbal Medicine 2003). Married to Rukshana Afia, an artist working with drawing, textiles and ceramics. Passionate about environmental, economic and social justice.
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