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Mistletoe: Sacred Plant of the Druids

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

Phoradendron Serotinum

commonly known as American, Eastern, Hairy, Oak, Pacific, or Western Mistletoe, respectively Family: Santalaceae Habitat: Found growing parasitically in trees

Mistletoe is the common name for obligate hemi-parasitic plants in several different families. These plants grow attached to and penetrate the branches of a host tree or shrub by a structure called the haustorium, this is how they absorb nutrients and thrive. This version of Mistletoe is not the same Viscum Album of Druid fame but it is what grows here in the US.

Druids believe seeing Mistletoe growing upon a Sacred Oak to be an indicator of great sacredness. The winter solstice, called 'Alban Arthan' by the Druids was the time when the Chief Druid would cut Mistletoe from the Oak (it often grows high in trees so I imagine some robed Druid delicately climbing an Oak tree trying to stay balanced as to not lop off his or anyone else's head with his Golden sickle, yikes). Lore states that it was cut on the sixth night of the new moon after the winter solstice. A cloth was held below the tree by other Druids to catch the falling Mistletoe, as it is believed with many Magical plants that it would have destroyed the Magic of the sacred plant to touch the ground. The plant would be divided into many pieces and distributed to the people, who hung them over doorways as protection against thunder, lightning and other evils.

It has been stated that the Druids believed that the white berries produced by the Mistletoe represent the sperm of the Gods, growing high in the branches of the Mighty Oak. It seems that this is the reason today that when you find yourself under a sprig of Mistletoe, it's aphrodisiac qualities ensue and a kiss is inevitable!

It is believed to have miraculous properties which could cure illnesses, serve as an antidote against poisons, ensure fertility and protect against witchcraft.


A long time yule tradition is to kiss under the mistletoe. Some say that this began when druids realized that the mistletoe could bloom even in the harshest of winter weather and therefore was a boon for fertility. As such, kissing under the plant would assist any couple hoping to be fertile. Others point to Nordic mythology as mistletoe's claim to fame and indeed it is featured heavily in one of the most important Norse myths. Baldr (or Balder / Baldur) was the most beloved of the Norse gods. The son of Odin and Frigg, he was the shining light of Asgard and was truly a source of joy for the other gods. When Baldr began having horrible nightmares about falling into endless darkness, his usually positive attitude began to fade and he fell into a depression. The gods rallied around in hopes of finding a way to help the sun god. His mother Frigg took it upon herself to ease her son's worries and began a worldly quest. She traveled throughout the nine worlds taking an oath from every substance that they would do no harm to Baldr. Fire, air, water, trees, animals, rocks - they all agreed and by the end of her journey, Frigg felt strongly that her beloved son was safe at last. Greatly

Baldr by Elmer Boyd Smith

comforted by this news, Baldr returned to his usual self but the gods figured that they should test out the oaths just to be sure. One god picked up a rock and threw it at Baldr - it struck him but did not harm him and in fact, he couldn't even feel it when it hit. The gods thought this was hilarious and as they do, made a game out of throwing other things at Bal