paleo: Dire Wolf skull (Default)
[personal profile] paleo
My first attempt at a full essay on a culinary plant totem. Comments, criticisms, and suggestions are appreciated.




(Disclaimers. I am not a doctor, nor do I have any background in medicine. Please consult a professional if you are considering adding a new herb or plant to your diet for medical reasons.
Also, the format of my essays is heavily influenced by the totem essays created by Ravenari and found on her site www.wildspeak.com. For totemists who are unaware of this amazing resource I encourage you to visit it.)

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Keywords: protective, guarding against negative influences, having a personality that is either loved or loathed with very little in between, balancing strength and kindness, a tendency towards asexuality, not needing a partner to fulfill one's self-worth, taking care of one's heart (both literally and metaphorically), strong connections to traditional medicine (most notably Chinese), connections to Italy in general and Rome in particular, warrior, playful connection to vampire lore, finding comfort in earthy energies

Garlic is a member of the onion family and related to chives and leeks. The species cultivated for human use is domesticated. Its ancestor probably arose in China although this isn't a known certainty. Garlic is grown year round in temperate climates all across the globe.

Garlic's uses as an ingredient are incredibly diverse. It is used raw, roasted, or sauteed to flavor a wide range of vegetables, meats, breads, and pastas. Cultures living on all inhabited continents have embraced it as a crucial element of their cuisines, though it is perhaps most famed for its use in Italian and Chinese cooking. While the stalks and flowers of the garlic plant are edible, the part of the plant most often consumed by humans are the cloves, individual sections found clustered within the bulb from which new garlic plants can be cultivated.

Garlic has also been used medicinally since ancient times. Ancient Egyptians and Greeks both connected it to increased stamina and strength, the former included it in the diets of their slaves and the latter encouraged athletes and warriors to regularly eat it. In traditional Chinese medicine, garlic is said to promote longevity while Indians believed it aroused passion. Garlic was seen as such a potent aphrodisiac that chaste monks and grieving widows were warned away from it lest lust take over their better natures! Garlic has also been used to ward off demons and diseases (some cultures making no distinction between the two) and was employed for this purpose during Europe's Black Plaque. And, of course, garlic is famed as repellant of vampires, a belief that may have arisen due to the fact that garlic can indeed help ward off less supernatural bloodsuckers such as mosquitoes and fleas. Modern medical science has found that compounds found in garlic are effectively antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal as well as potentially boosting the immune system and cardiovascular health. Scientists have yet to comment on garlic's effectiveness against the Nosferatu.

Garlic, whose name is derived from the old Germanic words for “spear” and “leek” is also known as “the stinking rose”. The characteristic pungent odor of garlic has led to a somewhat reviled reputation among some people. Garlic contains sulfuric compounds that can sometimes be detected in the breath and sweat of those who've eaten it recently. Because of this, both Hindus and Muslims have historically considered it improper to eat garlic before entering holy buildings. This smelly quality is so offensive that one Islamic tale has garlic being created in the footprints of Satan when he left Eden.

As a totem, Garlic is protective. It prefers guarding and warding more than offensively seeking threats. A good way to symbolize Garlic's attitude towards protection is to imagine a guard who prefers pushing back threats with a shield and only uses weapons as a last defense. Garlic is a good team player with other culinary totems and often strengthens and protects their energies. For example, while working with Cabbage to increase abundance, Garlic can help one learn to avoid situations that could drain finances. Likewise, while consulting with Tomato for lessons of love and passion, Garlic can be seen as a guide to recognizing inner and outer threats to the harmony of one's romantic relationships.

Garlic can also teach lessons of self-acceptance and self-sufficiency. Garlic is used to people either strongly loving it or strongly hating it. For people who have “strong” personalities like Garlic, this totem can teach how to accept adoration without becoming arrogant and how to shrug off other people's displeasure without belligerence. Garlic can also help those struggling with issues of asexuality or those who feel like they must have romantic partners to feel fulfilled. While familiar with the realms of passion and lust, Garlic most often reproduces asexually, needing no partner plant to complete its life cycle. Thus, Garlic can bestow lessons on how to flourish alone (whether that stems from natural inclinations or not).

Because its most prominent feature, its bulbs, grow under the ground, and because of its pungent smell, Garlic has connections to chthonic realms and entities. It is sacred to Hecate and considered a plant of the Underworld. Garlic isn't a “dark” totem, per se, but it is very earthy. Also, as an entity frequently called on to ward against darker entities and demons, it is aware of the natures and manners of these beings and can be a guide for those seeking to understand them while simultaneously offering protection against them. Students of energy cleansing, exorcisms, or protection against psychic attacks would do well to seek out Garlic as an ally.

People who use garlic for medical purposes may also want to seek out this totem for added insight.

“Garlic” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garlic

“Garlic-History” Plant Cultures: Exploring Plants and People. http://www.kew.org/plant-cultures/plants/garlic_history.html

Green, Aliza. Field Guide to Produce. San Francisco: Quirk Productions, Inc., 2004

Lasinski, Kirsten. “The History of Garlic: Nature's Ancient Superfood” GooGoBits.com. 28 June 2005 http://www.googobits.com/articles/1167-the-history-of-garlic-natures-ancient-superfood.html

Date: 2011-05-16 09:32 am (UTC)
urbanimal: (Default)
From: [personal profile] urbanimal
Brilliant. I had no knowledge of garlic beyond using it in cooking, so this essay has been a real eye-opener. :)

Date: 2011-05-16 11:02 am (UTC)
feralkiss: Depiction of a sphynx from ancient greek pottery. (sphynx)
From: [personal profile] feralkiss
Thank you for sharing this.

This led me to wonder, how should one go about the spiritual significance and powers of seeds and the like which actually a fraction of the whole plant or tree? As an example, I think I suggested "pine nuts" but how different (or actually undifferentiated) is it from the actual pine tree? (I would tend to think seeking pine nut benefits would mean working with pine tree(s) in the first place.)

What do you think?

Date: 2011-05-16 02:50 pm (UTC)
feralkiss: Clouded leopard walking up to the viewer, intense look and tongue licking its lips. (family)
From: [personal profile] feralkiss
Thank you for your reply. I think then it would be incorrect to speak about "pine nut as a totem" as it seems to be it would more likely be "working with pine nuts under Pine totem" (and possibly a more specific Pine totem, in fact, as there are different pine species, the ones found for consumption in my homeland are the Stone Pine as the others are hard to harvest and the seeds really too small; maybe just using "Pine" would be like talking about "Canis" as a genus instead of individuals species).

Date: 2011-05-16 05:40 pm (UTC)
spider_fox: (Default)
From: [personal profile] spider_fox
I love garlic (especially garlic bread drizzled with butter), so this post was awesome.

Question: what about vampire fangirls? Can garlic ward off those too?



Date: 2011-05-17 03:58 pm (UTC)
moonvoice: (o - empire - rawk)
From: [personal profile] moonvoice
This is so awesome, I know I said so via email, but I wanted to say it here too. Thank you so much for sharing!

Date: 2011-05-20 06:36 pm (UTC)
lupagreenwolf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lupagreenwolf
LOVE it! More, please? We need more information on plant totems in general, but I LOVE the culinary angle to it!

(Also, minor typo: "An good way to symbolize Garlic's attitude", swap out An for A. Otherwise looks great!)

Date: 2011-05-20 07:25 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
This is awesome sauce! \o/ (Awesome garlic sauce, that is.)

Do you mind if I follow you? I'd love to see more culinary/totemic essays as you write them.

Date: 2011-05-23 02:46 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
Thanks!

Date: 2011-05-20 07:26 pm (UTC)
ariestess: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ariestess
This is fantastic! I hadn't thought about garlic like this...

Date: 2011-05-23 12:13 am (UTC)
ariestess: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ariestess
LOL! Oh definitely!

Date: 2011-05-20 07:58 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] hakuchou
Wow, interesting! ^v^

As an alchemist, now I wonder about plant, mineral, and metal totems. Working with totems of metals could be a different way of seeing that alchemical relationship.

Date: 2011-05-22 05:58 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] hakuchou
I'll definitely tell you if I do, thank you for inspiring me ^^

Date: 2011-07-06 02:58 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] spectrum_x
This is so awesome. I want to go work with Garlic now, I believe it has some things to teach me. I have a personality that's either disliked or adored and I need to learn on how to flourish on my own. Thank you for writing this. :3

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