St. John's Wort & Midsummer


While herbal medicine is an informal passion of mine, it is not my area of expertise. However, I just wanted to share my appreciation of one little "green ally" - to borrow Susun Weed's term - that is hypericum perforatum, or St. John's Wort. (Of course, if I'm going to borrow from Ms Weed in this case, then I should refer to this plant as St. Joan's Wort.)

Today,  June 24th ( in many Christian religions being St. John's Day; and in more pagan traditions, Midsummer) is traditionally the first day on which St. John's Wort is harvested.  What I love about this humble little plant are the interesting associations. For example, the affinity with the Sun... the brilliant shade of yellow in the blooms, the time of year in which it's ready to be picked and its contrary nature of causing photosensitivity, while at the same time being used to treat burns (better even than aloe, in my experience) and damage from radiation therapy. St. John's Wort has also made its way into mainstream pharmacology through its use as an anti-depressant (which can be a poetic metaphor for bringing light into a dark state of mind).

Reflecting on the mythology of its namesake, the beheaded St John the Baptist, the color of the nectar contained with the tiny blooms is a deep, rich, blood-red.  St. John's Wort oil, which is used in topical applications, is infused with the little blossoms, and therefore also bears this dramatic hue. Quite beautiful!