A group of flowering plants named after the Greek Achilles. An excellent butterfly plant that has the reputation of treating the wounds of Achilles' soldiers. Pronounce a-KILL-ee-a. We have found at the PaganPath sanctuary that all Achillea have interesting magical and medicinal properties. The native A. millifolium in our area attracts many beneficial insects and covers the mountain with white flowers for a few weeks every year. A hardy perennial, easy to grow and drought tolerant.
Most magical correspondences refer to achillea (Yarrow) as an excellent divination wort. This primarily originates from its traditional and historic use in the I Ching. When the plant flowers, it sends up a long, sturdy stalk upon which many flowers are held in clusters. These flower stalks are collected in sets of 50, and cut to a length of about 6 inches to 12 inches long.
When using a set of 50 yarrow stalks for I Ching divination, one stalk is removed and set aside, and the remaining 49 are cast (much like the coins) to form hexagram designs. Most people have only heard of the "coin-toss" method because it is easier to cast the coins in small spaces, and coins are more durable and smaller for portability. However, the Yarrow stalks are often much more intuitive and tap into creative centers of the brain more readily.
So now you know why all the "magickal correspondences" state that yarrow is for divination, they are sourcing their information strictly from historical uses. However, Achillea is very conducive to entering states of consciousness appropriate for divination when used as a tisane, in incense blends or steeped in anointing oil for divination tools. In my experience it seems to help open the "third eye" while maintaining a nice alpha state where you can tap into the "other" while still communicating to clients in the mundane world.
Yarrow has many uses beyond divination, and it is a very talented protector. It helps you develop a strong protective threshold on your home, and tends to ward off baneful influences without being too pushy. She is like a grandma gently shooing the restless kids outside to play, sending them off with smiles and cookies.
A light tea is very nice for relieving headaches or indigestion, and combines well with chamomile. Paired with elder flowers, passion flower, damiana and angelica it makes an excellent dream pillow sachet, bath herb bundle or herbal smoking blend. When burned the fragrance is okay, but not sought-after as an incense on its own, but the flavor in smoking blends is pleasant. As a general guide, add small amounts to incense blends for the magical energy rather than for fragrance.
Achillea Species & Varieties
A. decolorens is also known as "Garden Mace" or "Decolorans Yarrow". Small white flowers, gray-green foliage. Makes a flavorful tisane (as do the other achillea in this article).
A. millifolium This is known as "True Yarrow" or milfoil and is the most commonly used type of yarrow for magic and medicine due to its long historical use. Clusters of small white flowers (some varieties also have cream to yellow, apricot or shades of pink flowers) rise from a soft, fern-like base of leaves.
Used as a stimulant, tonic, diaphoretic, vulnerary and aromatice. Used for colds if taken at the onset of fever. Used magically for divination and spells. Has been historically used for venereal disease and menstrual problems. Can be used as a wort in brewing and will substitute for hops. It remains a dominant flavoring agent in Vermouth. The botanical name etymology reveals that milli means thousand, folium means leaves, in reference to the finely dissected foliage.
There are many decorative varieties available at garden centers and nurseries. New colors are being bred to blend with any landscape design or magical purposes. The picture here shows two very popular varieties, the deep pink to burgundy flowers with "eyes" and the multi-colored pastel.