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By Witchipedia, Herbs

Aloe: Folklore, Healing & Magical Attributes

Updated on:

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

Although it is more closely related to lilies and asparagus, this succulent plant resembles a cactus in appearance and habit. Its fleshy leaves are somewhat spiky at the edges and arranged in basal rosettes, though some produce a trunk-like stalk, giving them the appearance of a tree.

When aloe chooses to bloom, it is usually a spike and cluster of tubular flowers.

Aloe vera growing in a pot
Aloe vera image by Manuel M. V. on Flickr flickr:8551956992

There are 240+ species of aloe in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, only a few have medicinal values to humans.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Aloe Vera, with over 400 species, is renowned for its healing properties, but Aloe Ferox, native to South Africa, contains even more potent medicinal compounds.

Aloe’s historical use spans over 6,000 years, from ancient Egypt’s “Plant of Immortality” to Cleopatra’s skincare regimen.

To grow Aloe successfully, provide well-draining soil, ample sunlight, and allow the soil to dry between waterings.

Harvest Aloe leaves carefully, utilizing the gel’s soothing properties for burns, skin conditions, and internal health.

Aloe’s magical attributes include protection, luck, and warding off evil spirits, making it a popular plant for spiritual practices.

Some Interesting Aloe Species

  • Aloe Vera, A. vera barbadensis is the one you’re most likely to run into and the one generally referenced in this article for healing applications.
  • Cape Aloe A. ferox, a stunningly attractive aloe used in much the same way as Aloe vera
  • Soap aloe, A. maculata can be used as soap as it will lather with water and agitation.
  • Tree aloe, A. arborescans is useful in some cancer therapy applications
  • Socotrine aloe, A. perryi or A. forbesii, or A. socotrina, is believed by some to be the aloes mentioned in the Bible. It is used in homeopathy. Most magical applications reference this aloe.

History and Folklore

Common lore states that growing an aloe plant in your house will help prevent household accidents, particularly burns. In Africa, aloe plants are hung over doors to bring luck and drive away evil.

Aloe originated in Africa but has spread throughout the world. The first written record of the use of this storied plant dates back to 2200 B.C.E. and a clay tablet from Sumeria.

The Greek physician Dioscorides (41 C.E.- 68 C.E.) described a few different types of aloe in his famous herbal De materia medica (3-25). He noted that the gel was a treatment for boils, hemorrhoids, bruises and mouth irritation and many other applications and that some aloes produced more gel than others but that the pulverized leaves were also useful for treating wounds.

Folklore/SymbolismDescription
Ancient Egyptian BeliefsAloe was considered the “plant of immortality” and was used in religious rituals and embalming practices.
Protective PropertiesAloe was believed to ward off evil spirits and provide protection against negative energies.
Healing AssociationsIn various cultures, aloe was associated with healing and used for treating skin ailments, burns, and digestive issues.
Luck and ProsperityAloe was believed to bring good luck and abundance to households and was often planted near the entrance or in the garden.
Table 1: Folklore and Symbolism of Aloe

The Bible describes the apostles anointing the body of Jesus with aloes and myrrh. (John 19:39) It is thought that this is either A. succotrina or the unrelated eaglewood, aka aloeswood Aquilia spp. 

It is said that Queen Cleopatra used aloe in her beauty routine.

Growing Aloe

Those who live in the south may grow aloe outdoors. It can withstand freezing temperatures as long as the ground does not freeze, but the plant may still lose vital nutrients if the leaves face exposure to temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Its a nice landscape plant that does not require full sun to thrive and it will get big and beautiful in the right conditions.

Aloe also thrives as a houseplant. Although many sources advise full sun for aloe, I find that it prefers indirect sunlight. Instead of placing it right in my sunniest window, I place it right next to my sunniest window and it seems to like that spot. When initially potting your plant, choose a pot with good drainage and fill it with a mix of 1/2 sand to 1/2 regular potting soil.

Water your plant only after the soil has completely dried out. A happy aloe plant will produce little clone plants. You can take these out of the mother pot, give them their own, and share them with friends.

The leaves of a healthy aloe plant should be plump and fleshy. If they shrivel, it’s not getting enough water, and if it turns yellow, it’s not getting enough sun or it’s getting too much water. If it turns red and gets shrivel-y, it is getting too much sun.

Harvesting and Storing Aloe

Once your plant is established, go ahead and use it as needed. Cut a leaf from the plant and rub it onto the area you wish to treat. You can store a cut leaf in the fridge for a few days. The plant will seal up the cut and heal itself. If you purchase aloe vera juice for use in recipes, store it in the refrigerator.

Commercial aloe gels are stabilized and do not need refrigeration, but I like to keep them in the fridge so they are extra cool when I use them on burns.

Magical Attributes of Aloe

Aloe vera is associated with feminine energy, the element of water, the moon, and the astrological sign of cancer.

It is sacred to Venus/Aphrodite.

Aloe is used as an amulet against accidents and misfortunes, especially around the home. It is also used for love and beauty and all spells related to lunar energies.

Magical AttributeDescription
ProtectionAloe is believed to provide protection against negative energies, evil spirits, and hexes when used in rituals or placed in the home.
Healing SpellsAloe is often incorporated into healing spells and rituals to promote physical healing, emotional well-being, and spiritual rejuvenation.
Luck and ProsperityAloe is associated with good fortune, abundance, and prosperity. It can be used in rituals or charms to attract luck and enhance financial prosperity.
PurificationAloe is used in purification rituals to cleanse and purify a person, space, or objects from negative energies and influences.
Table 2: Magical Attributes of Aloe

The Key of Solomon provides an incense recipe for offering to good spirits who aid you, including aloes. Possibly this is A. soccotrina.

Bitter aloes, or dried aloe juice, can be used in binding spells.

Household Use

Aloe is a wonderful addition to facial cleansers and moisturizers. It speeds up the healing of acne and reduces scarring.

Apply aloe vera gel to the hair before styling to keep your hair smooth, shiny and manageable and to reduce frizz and dandruff and prevent hair loss. Add some rosemary essential oil to strengthen hair and further prevent damage and hair loss.

Aloe vera can also be used as a personal lubricant.

Healing Attributes

Aloe vera gel is antibacterial, anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal and increases blood flow to the skin where applied, stimulating healing. This makes it useful for burns, sunburn, rashes, poison Oak, Poison Ivy, diaper rash, ringworm, frostbite, acne, any minor cut or abrasion, and just about any skin problem you might have. Just split the skin of a leaf and apply the gel to your skin.

Healing PropertyDescription
Skin HealingAloe vera gel is known for its soothing and moisturizing properties, aiding in the healing of wounds, burns, and skin irritations.
Digestive AidAloe latex, found just beneath the plant’s outer skin, has laxative effects and is used to alleviate constipation and promote healthy digestion.
Anti-InflammatoryAloe contains compounds that possess anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce inflammation and swelling in various conditions.
Immune SupportSome studies suggest that aloe vera may support the immune system and have antimicrobial properties against certain bacteria and fungi.
Table 3: Healing Properties of Aloe

For a large area, you can place some peeled leaves in the blender and add the goo to your bath for a good soak.

Bitter aloes is the dried juice of an aloe plant; it can be made from A. vera barbadensis, A. ferox or A. perryi. It is used as a purgative and in some cosmetics. It can also be used as a styptic.

Aloe is also a gentle soother of sore nipples for breastfeeding mothers and a vegan alternative to the traditional lanolin often used for that purpose. Unlike lanolin though, tastes terrible and can cause tummy aches, so you’ll want to wipe off well before nursing.

Internally, the juice has been used for constipation and intestinal blockages. However, its use can cause serious intestinal and abdominal cramping, so use it cautiously. No one with a chronic intestinal condition should use it.

Studies have shown that aloe can strengthen the immune system and help reduce blood sugar. It has been the subject of serious studies related to the treatment of HIV and cancer.

Aloe vera is also used to increase both male and female fertility. Some livestock breeding facilities use aloe vera to coat and protect stored sperm. Some research indicates that aloe vera extract taken internally may increase sperm count in male mice whose sperm counts were lowered through radiation exposure, and may also provide some protection against sperm abnormalities. Aloe douches have been used to increase the fertility of female livestock.

Culinary Use

Some health food stores sell aloe juice to soothe the digestive tract. Some people experience abdominal pain, cramping, and intestinal irritation after consuming the juice, so use it with caution.

Additional Notes

Some people are very allergic to aloe, so proceed with caution. Put a bit on the inside of your elbow and watch the area for 24 hours to see if you react before using it.

Some studies have shown that a substance found aloe leaf act as carcinogen in animal studies.

Aloe juice is often sold in health food stores. Pregnant women and those who are menstruating should not drink this as it can cause cramping, hemorrhage, and miscarriage.

Aloe is a wonderful houseplant and is technically non-toxic but the outside rough leaf is very irritating to delicate inner tissues. Keep it out of the reach of pets and small children.

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About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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