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(Taraxacum Officinale)

by Dylan Warren Davis:

The Hand Reveals

By Dylan Warren-Davis

Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale)
   By Dylan Warren-Davis

Of the rulership or dandelion Culpeper states: "It is under dominion of Jupiter".[1] Jupiter frequently rules plants that grow abundantly and dandelion is a particularly good example. Such is its power to multiply that a single root flowering in the spring is capable of propagating five new generations by the end of a good English summer. It even has the ability to set seed asexually when there are too few insects to pollinate the flowers, due to the weather being too cold for them to be active (hot and moist nature of Jupiter countering the cold and dryness of the climate). The leaves of Jovial herbs are soft and smooth, in contrast to the stiff and hairy leaves of Saturnine herbs, such as comfrey.[2] The flowers of Jovial herbs are graceful, pleasing and bright. Dandelion fulfils this description. However the aspect of the herb that most satisfies the Jovial signature is shown with the setting of seed.

The distinctive, delicate orb of the dandelion clock surely must have been seen as analogous to the halos of saints as depicted in medieval art, capturing the link between Jupiter and the spiritual world. With Jupiter ruling the Air Element it is appropriate that the seeds, with their little hairy parachutes, should be dispersed by wind. One of the most enchanting sights of the English countryside is seeing a field of dandelions in seed, wafted by a gust of wind sending myriads of them into the air, as thick as smoke. Who too has not, as a child, picked a dandelion clock and blown away the seeds while making a wish? An interesting little ritual in the light of its Jovial rulership.

Jovial herbs were regarded as strengthening to the liver thereby enhancing the Sanguine humour which, in turn, maintains the balance of the other humours - Choler, Flegm, and Melancholy - within the blood.[3] Jovial herbs, in nourishing the blood and assisting the flow of the vital force, also strengthen the patient's judgement. As Culpeper describes the herb:

"It is of an opening and cleansing quality; and therefore very effectual for obstructions of the liver, gall and spleen, and the diseases that arise from them, as the jaundice and hypochondriac"[4]

Today herbalists still regard dandelion root as one of the finest and safest herbs for treating liver and gall bladder problems, such as hepatitis, jaundice, gall-stones and sluggish digestion associated with constipation (Jupiter in ruling the digestive virtue is opposite in nature to Saturn which rules the retentive virtue).[5]

Dandelion leaves are well known as a powerful diuretic, as testified in the French name of the herb - pis en lit! The diuretic action of the herb is particularly useful for removing fluid from the body in patients with high blood pressure. This action is reflected in the sympathy between Jupiter and Venus, the natural ruler of the kidneys: Jupiter being dignified in Pisces where Venus is exalted.

However, perhaps the most interesting detail from Culpeper's description of the herb is its use for treating the 'hypochondriac'. Today the term hypochondria has inappropriately come to describe an abnormal concern about health due to an erroneous belief of suffering from some disease. However, in Culpeper's day, the term hypochondriac was more precisely used, since when translated from Greek it means the 'diseased condition; below the cartilage'. The liver is located in the abdomen in the right hypochondrium, underneath the cartilage that joins the lower ribs to the sternum or chest bone. Liver and gall bladder disease frequently gives rise to tenderness and pain below the ribs on the right hand side, especially after eating rich or fatty foods. Liver problems generally make a person feel tired and unwell, which can occur in the absence of any abdominal pain in the right hypochondrium or yellowness to the skin. The absence of any other physical symptoms has led doctors to believe that there is nothing wrong with the patient and they are just making it up. Hence the term has unkindly come to describe a malingerer. However in Culpeper's day if a person felt unwell and was low in spirits, then it was a sign that Jupiter was not doing his job properly. What better than to prescribe a Jovial herb such as dandelion to balance their humours and fortify their spirits?

When I was a student of herbal medicine the principal of the school strongly encouraged us to always put something into the medicine 'for the liver'. As he explained, the liver being such an important organ in the body with its multitude of functions, whenever we are ill it is always compromised in some way. For this reason it can always do with a boost from a liver tonic herb. Furthermore, in helping the liver you will get the patient to feel much better and so make them more confident in you as a herbal practitioner; (Jupiter rules faith and confidence). He particularly recommended dandelion for its efficacy, availability and cheapness, and the herb was a definite favourite for him. He taught that this boost in confidence can be invaluable to the inexperienced practitioner, for even if the rest of the herbs in the mixture have not helped in any way, it enables a reformulation of the prescription before the patient tries elsewhere. In other words, it gives you a second chance to get it right.

The principal of the school was a patriarchal figure with dogmatic fundamentalist Christian attitudes, whose life mission has been to put herbal medicine on to a sound scientific basis, replacing the 'mumbo-jumbo' of astrology with the hard scientific facts of pharmacology. Naturally he has been intensely and vociferously opposed to my interest in herbs and astrology, and remains to this day the most powerful adversary to my work. As you can see his attempts to remove herbs from their planetary rulerships have been rather futile, for in denying any validity to astrology he has unintentionally reaffirmed the validity of the very knowledge that he has spent so many years negating. It is funny to think that this humble herb has been taking the piss out of him all these years!

Notes & References:

  1 ] N. Culpeper, Complete Herbal and English Physician Enlarged, 1653; section on dandelion.
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  2 ] D. Warren-Davis, 'Comfrey - The Embodiment of a Saturnine Herb', The Traditional Astrologer Magazine, Issue 11, Winter 1996.
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  3 ] D. Warren-Davis, 'Decumbiture and Humoral Physiology', The Traditional Astrologer Magazine, Issue 2, Autumn 1993.
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  4 ] N. Culpeper, Complete Herbal and English Physician Enlarged, 1653; section on dandelion.
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  5 ] N. Culpeper, Astrologo-Physical Discourse, 1653
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Dylan Warren-Davis has been practising herbal medicine (naturopathy) for 25 years, qualifying as a prize-winning student with the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (UK) in 1982. Since completing his herbal training, Dylan has researched the lost European metaphysical teachings, upon which Western herbal knowledge is based. He has also been engaged in the commercial production of herbal tinctures and has been a consultant on the manufacturing of herbal tinctures to the herbal industry in Britain. In addition to seeing clients, he is currently promoting glyconutrition in both the UK and Australia.

He may be contacted by email at

 In this series:    Valerian & Fennel: Two Contrasting Mercurial Herbs
 In this series:   Garlic: The embodiment of a Martial herb
 In this series:    Dandelion: The embodiment of a Jovial herb
 In this series:    Comfrey: The embodiment of a Saturnine herb
 In this series:    The Myths of Mistletoe

© Dylan Warren-Davis
This article was published in issue 17 (September 1998) of the Traditional Astrologer Magazine of which Dylan was an associate editor. Published online, November 2004.

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