Lemongrass (Cymbopogon Citratus) is one of the most distinctive flavors of Thai cuisine. Long held in high regard by the perfume industry, this herb is nonetheless a relative newcomer when it comes to European-based witchcraft.
Despite this, modern witches still use it often as an ally for opening their awareness, cleansing, and multiple other magical benefits.
Magical Properties of Lemongrass
Lemongrass has a dualistic nature. On one hand, it’s often used as an aid to meditation and for deepening psychic states. On the other, it’s just as often used for baneful magic.
This herb is sometimes used for purification, which dovetails with its pest-repelling properties.
Lemongrass’ chief magical use is for “opening,” in a general sense. For this reason, it’s used for everything from opening the mind and heart to visions, opening oneself to a new love, or opening an enemy’s life to problems and complications. It’s a very useful herb for spells involving communication.
Benefits & Uses
Lemongrass is a common culinary herb, especially in Asian cooking. Outside of its magical and flavoring uses, it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
When applied topically, it may also serve as a helpful anti-fungal — drinking lemongrass tea can improve symptoms of thrush (a Candida infection), while using the oil on the scalp can improve dandruff caused by Malassesia globosa.
As with other plants that share some of lemongrass’ aromatic compounds, like lemon, lemongrass is cooling and believed to help reduce fevers. It’s said to be so effective at this, that one of its common names is “fever grass.”
One study by the Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Wisconsin, found that taking a lemongrass supplement improved blood lipid ratios in study participants.
Traditionally, lemongrass is used to ease colds and coughs, soothe stomachaches, improve digestion, and relieve headaches and pain. When applied topically, it may help improve local circulation, treat acne, and ease pain from neuralgia and tendonitis.
All lemongrass species repel pests, though one particularly potent species is the commercial source for citronella oil.
Possible Risks & Side Effects
As with any supplement or food, it’s possible to be allergic to lemongrass. Allergies can manifest as anything from a rash, to itching of the mouth and throat, to a dangerous anaphylactic reaction. If you are allergic to lemongrass or citronella oil, please substitute another herb.
Allergies aside, lemongrass is safe when eaten in the amounts you’d use to flavor food or tea.
Lemongrass oil is potent, and a known sensitizer. That means that high doses or prolonged use can cause users to develop an allergy. To avoid this, always dilute essential oils in a suitable carrier oil, and don’t use them every day.
Some essential oils are also known to cause skin reactions in sunlight, called phototoxicity. This appears as a rash, blistering, redness, or long-term dark marks on the skin.
Most of the oils responsible for this are citrus oils, but some authorities include lemongrass on this list. Out of an abundance of caution, it’s best to avoid applying lemongrass oil before or during sun exposure.
Lemongrass essential oil can also cause reactions when inhaled or eaten. In one case, a small child died after consuming a product containing lemongrass oil.
History & Folklore
West Indian lemongrass is native to Southeast Asia, while East Indian lemongrass hails from Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma, Sri Lanka, Laos, and India.
It’s most highly valued for its essential oil — from the 17th century onward, it was a staple of the perfume trade.
Because of its origins and relatively late introduction to Europe, there aren’t a lot of traditional witchcraft practices or herb lore surrounding this plant.
Nonetheless, its medicinal properties and value have led to witches happily experimenting with lemongrass in their craft.
It’s said that lemongrass is a favorite of fairies.
Getting Started With Lemongrass
Lemongrass grows very quickly and easily, as long as you’re able to give it what it wants: lots of light, warmth, and humidity.
If you live in an area that’s naturally tropical, you’re already most of the way there. If not, you may have to keep lemongrass indoors, or move it in and out as the weather and seasons permit.
The easiest way to get started with using lemongrass is as a tea. Many teas already use the herb as their source of lemon flavoring, so it’s highly likely that you already have some in your cabinet.
If not, you can purchase fresh or dried lemongrass, place them in a tea strainer, and allow them to steep in boiling water for approximately 5 minutes.
When the tea is fragrant and ready, remove the lemongrass. Close your eyes, relax, and sip the tea slowly. As you do this, feel the vibrations of the tea traveling through your body, opening your energy pathways and psychic senses.
Consume this tea before meditation, during divination, or immediately before bed.
There’s no mistaking the sweet, lemony scent and taste of lemongrass. While it may not have been a staple in the traditional folkways that gave rise to Wicca, Neodruidry, and other modern Western spiritual and magical systems, it’s no less magically valuable.
The next time you taste lemongrass, let it fill your senses with its purifying energy.