Although strawberries have only relatively recently been cultivated in Europe and western cultures, beginning around 1300 C. E. in France, folk all around the world have used strawberries for a variety of purposes for centuries. In South America before the Europeans arrived, strawberries were traded. North American First Nation tribes used strawberries as medicine, particularly as a women’s medicine used to clear toxins and support fertility and child-rearing.
In Asia, strawberry’s detoxifying properties were also recognized as many as 2600 years B. C., at which time the Yellow Emperor used the leaves of the strawberry plant in a weak tea to detoxify and reduce the effects of aging. The Romans used Strawberries to lift the spirits and relieve bad breath as well as to treat a variety of digestive complaints.
Strawberry’s popular reputation, however, solidified around fertility early on, and there it has remained. Strawberry shows up in European mythos as a fertility-inducing and love-producing fruit beloved of goddesses such as Venus, Aphrodite, Freyja, and the Virgin Mary. It was said the fruit of strawberry, when shared with another, would produce love.
In Bavarian folk tradition, strawberries are gathered and hung in baskets on the horns of cattle to pay the local nature spirits in trade for many healthy calves and cows who produce an abundance of milk. It was said that if a pregnant woman carried strawberry leaves in her pocket they would relieve the pains of pregnancy. From inducing love to producing offspring, strawberry has been recognized as a potent little herb.
It’s no wonder, too, strawberry has enjoyed a solid standing amongst the fertility herbs of folklore and mythos. Strawberry is a member of the Rosaceae family, also known as the Rose family, known for their love-inducing properties.
Strawberry magic is the magic of dedication to fertility. Reproducing primarily through runners, Strawberry gives of herself until the young plants are well established. She is capable of sustaining those young plants, too, should the ground be immediately unsuitable for growth. I’ve seen young Strawberry plants bear fruit while hanging from mother plants in baskets or stretching across pavement. Strawberry teaches us the lesson of dedication to that which we long to produce no matter whether the conditions appear to be right.
Through her seeds, strawberry amplifies this message of dedication. Strawberry seeds grow on the outside of the fruit and can germinate even when soil isn’t present. Strawberry knows deep down no matter what the present conditions appear to be, she has the power to succeed. Strawberry magic is the magic of success through inner vision that sustains until the outer world is ready to receive.
Success, as strawberry teaches us, requires proper preparation of one’s self. How could she sustain so many at once if she weren’t properly prepared? Her habit of emerging early in spring to blossom and fruit at the very beginning of the season speaks to her preparation, so quickly does she shuck off her winter’s sleep in exchange for early spring’s fertile rush. People through the ages have recognized strawberry’s gentle detoxifying, antibacterial, and astringent properties; those same properties encourage us to gently prepare ourselves for the projects or fertile periods ahead. If strawberry has come into your life, perhaps it is time to clear away the husks of what came before to make room in your mind, body, and spirit for the new season dawning in your life.
Strawberry plants are perennials. Cultivated strawberries live for around three to four years while wild strawberries can live as long as ten years. If strawberry has come to you around a specific project, you can expect it to be a project of neither particularly long nor short duration. Strawberry projects are often projects for a period of time or a stage of life. The nature of the strawberry who has shown up in your life, cultivated or wild, particularly if it corresponds with the nature of your project, can give you some insight into both the intensity and duration of the work.
Wild strawberries tend to concentrate their energy and healing properties more intensely and in small fruits than their cultivated cousins. Thus, if your project has grown up or come to you through a wild, uncontrolled, undirected manner or source, you may be able to expect a longer duration of more concentrated energy and small-sized but intense fruits. Conversely, if your project has been carefully cultivated, you may enjoy large, abundant fruits for a shorter period.
In Astrology, strawberry is considered a feminine plant and is governed by Venus. Strawberry’s element is water.
For further information on Strawberry including updated text; Standard and Advanced Medicinal Processing; Conditions best helped by Strawberry; Recipes; Gardening and Gathering tips; Household uses; Animal Husbandry tips; Cautions; a Printable Quick Facts Page; and References, buy Strawberry: A Wealth of Healing in One Sweet Tasty Package on Amazon, volume 1 of our The Practical Herbalist’s Herbal Folio series.