The bunches of carrots at our local farmer’s market were absolutely gorgeous. I didn’t even try to resist. Each bunch held easily 20 beautiful purple, orange, and pale yellow carrots with their lush green tops intact. My first thought wasn’t the tasty salads or comforting chicken soup I later made. Nor was it the delighted coos Kikko would surely offer up at her first taste of purple carrot or the pure satisfaction of watching Arther gobble down his carrot bits either. Nope, my first thought was of the herbal dye I might make from those beautiful tops.
Nearly 700 grams (24 oz.) of carrot tops went into my dye pot, considerably more than the books say I needed to dye 200 grams (4 oz.) of handspun corridale wool. This was my first real dye project. I’ve tried a few smaller samples in red cabbage and coffee. I realized quickly to get the intensity of color I want, considerably more plant material than specified in the recipes is needed. Carrot is the perfect first try at this more fertile approach.
Carrot, both the domestic kind and her ancestor Queen Anne’s Lace or Wild Carrot, have long been connected with fertility and abundance. In Middle-Age Europe, Queen Anne’s Lace was considered a women’s medicine, used to help get the menstrual cycle flowing and to ease a variety of middle-aged PMS and perimenopausal complaints. Modern herbalists more often refer to Queen Anne’s Lace by her Chinese name, Dong Quoi, and most often make use of her medicinally in tincture form or in Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas like Emperor’s Tea Pills and Free and Easy Wanderer.
Magically speaking, Queen Anne’s Lace was used during the middle ages to improve and balance fertility. In modern rituals, we’ve often overlooked Carrot’s capacity to balance and enhance the energies of fertility and abundance. Despite that oversight, they’re all around us demoonstrating the sheer power they commmand. Even the sparcest grocery department is guaranteed to stock carrots. Right across our continent Queen Anne’s Lace grows by the roadsides just waiting for us to notice and remember. That truly is a magical manifestation of the enduring power of Queen Annne’s Lace and her domestic cousin’s power to thrive and populate our human world and the wilder places whether we will it or not.
Stephen Buhner writes of Queen Anne’s Lace as a plant spirit who is distinctly Feminine, with a capital F, both strong and balanced. As he describes her, she rules the space between Heaven and Earth with a mature and balanced spirit. She is the epitomy of Woman-who-has-Mastered-the-Sacred Feminine. Many herbalists say domestic carrot has properties similar to that of Queen Anne’s Lace just weakened. In domestic carrot, I see the same strength of energy as her anncestor but maybe with a little less of the regality; my domestic carrots are the country cousins of the master Queen Anne’s Lace.
That slightly less polished, less regal flavor is just right for my handspun corridale. I’ve only been spinning for a couple of years and most of that time was with a drop spindle. This particular 200 grams (4 oz.) of yarn was spun with my new HansenCraft’s Minispinner and is among my first non-drop spindle spun yarns. It’s a little rough of texture and less consistent than desired, but I’m proud of it nonetheless.
My locally grown, organic carrot tops offered up a bounty of color that’d make my Corridale friends right happy, too. The initial shades were a light, slightly greenish yellow that intensified into a bright, almost neon, yellow-green thanks to the alum and cream of tartar mordant I used. I let the wool steep in the pot for 5 days on the back patio before I rinsed out the excess dye and hung it to dry. After the pale shades of pink and brown I got from my previous experiments, I was utterly thrilled with the results. Clearly, this herbal dyeing really can offer up the beautiful, intense shades of color I’ve seen in the books.
Try your hand at a little Carrot Magic with these project ideas:
- Dye your favorite animal fiber using Carrot tops or Queen Anne’s Lace tops
- Plant a garden of carrots to get in-touch with your sacred feminine energies
- Make Queen Anne’s Lace flower essence to reconnect with your own Divine Feminine
- Use Carrot or Queen Anne’s Lace flower essence to connect second sight or intuition with your daily life
- Try a Guided Meditation to find balance with the help of Queen Anne’s Lace
- Make a Balancing Tool for your journey work by drying the root or stalks from Queen Anne’s Lace or Carrot