Just like nutmeg, cloves is one of the spices so highly prized that it has ignited wars. When the Dutch erased a whole grove on the Spice Islands to drive up prices, it lead to an uprising among the natives who venerated this tree like a pregnant woman when in bud. Cloves also has a long history of being used in offerings to various Indonesian deities and for creating sacred space.
It is said that in order to approach the Chinese Emperor without chewing on cloves to freshen the breath was unthinkable.
Cloves is still used in cooking (ham or mulled wine, anyone?) but many have forgotten how to use this herb as a remedy and even fewer remember how to use it for magick. Yet, the numbing and antiseptic properties of cloves has made it gain a comeback as a herbal remedy in a day and age when people cannot always afford to see a dentist straight away.
Cloves is known to be anti-septic, act as a local anesthetic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, rubefacient (warming and soothing), carminative and to have anti-flatulent properties. Cloves contains the natural pain-killer methyl salicylate, as well as the anaesthetic eugenol, making ideal as a remedy for tooth ache: First you need to rinse your mouth out with warm, salty water (use sea salt). Then mix a few drops of pure oil of cloves with half a teaspoon of olive oil and soak up the mixture with a cotton ball that you hold/dab carefully on the sore area.
Cloves tea: ground up one tablespoon of cloves buds in a mortar, making sure not to ground it so fine you can’t strain the tea later. Add the ground cloves to boiling hot water and let the infusion sit for 10-20 minutes, depending on preferred strength.
A note of caution: Cloves can act as an irritant, so people with sensitive stomachs may not tolerate cloves very well. It can also affect the central nervous system and pregnant women are advised to stay away from cloves.
In magick, cloves is said to correspond to Jupiter and the Star Sign Aquarius (11th House of Friendships), making The Star and The Wheel of Fortune the associated Tarot card. I believe this makes sense since historically, cloves has been used in friendship spells, and in Victorian times a pomander containing cloves and orange was given to indicate warmth of feeling.
7 Health Benefits of Cloves
* A natural remedy for toothache
* An antioxidant, brewed as a tea
* A remedy for arthritis as a poultice
* Cures constipation and flatulence (concoction)
* Freshens the breath (simply chew a bud)
* Muscle soreness (essential oil in hot bath)
7 Magickal Properties of Cloves
* Enhances friendships
* Increases good fortune
* Attracts wealth
* Exorcises evil influences / psychic protection
* Stops gossip (I’m guessing this comes from how it numbs the mouth)
* Helps you attract a new partner
* Raises the vibration of any room in preparation for ritual and ceremony
It is better to buy whole cloves and ground them as and when you need them. Ground cloves are not very potent by comparison, as the essential oil is released quickly. Make sure that you transfer the buds to an airtight container that you keep in your fridge as soon as you have opened the package. You can easily test a bud for freshness by squeezing it between your fingers. If it gives off a scent when you do this, it is still fresh.
~ Lisa Frideborg