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These plants, funghi and insect illustrations
are part of my botanical oracle deck

Humulus lupulus | Hops

Botanical Overview of Hops

  • Scientific Name: Humulus lupulus

  • Common Names: Common Hop, Hops, European Hop

  • Family: Cannabaceae

  • Description: A vigorous, climbing perennial vine with rough, twining stems and deeply lobed, heart-shaped leaves. The plant produces greenish-yellow, cone-shaped flowers (called strobiles or hop cones) that are rich in lupulin, a yellow resin essential for its aromatic and bitter qualities. Hops can grow up to 6 meters or more in a single season.

humulus lupulus botanical illustration

Properties of Hops

  • Chemical Constituents: Humulones and lupulones (bitter acids), xanthohumol (a prenylflavonoid), essential oils (myrcene, humulene), and phytoestrogens.

  • Edibility: While not typically consumed directly, hops are crucial in brewing beer for their flavor and preservative qualities. The young shoots are sometimes eaten as a vegetable.

Distribution and Habitat of Hops

  • Native Range: Europe, Western Asia, and North America.

  • Preferred Habitat: Prefers moist, well-drained soils with plenty of sunlight. Commonly found in hedgerows, riverbanks, and forest edges. Hops are widely cultivated in temperate regions around the world, particularly in areas with a history of beer brewing.

Medicinal Properties and Uses of Hops

  • Traditional Uses: Historically, hops were used for their sedative and digestive properties. They were employed to treat insomnia, anxiety, and digestive disorders. Additionally, hops were used topically to treat skin conditions and as an antibacterial agent.

  • Modern Applications: Today, hops are recognized for their calming and sedative effects. They are commonly used in herbal teas and supplements to promote sleep and relieve anxiety. Hops also have mild estrogenic activity, making them useful in managing symptoms of menopause. The antibacterial properties of hops contribute to their use in brewing to prevent spoilage and maintain the stability of beer.

Magical Correspondences and Uses of Hops in Magical Practice

  • Element: Water

  • Planet: Jupiter

  • Magical Properties: Sleep, healing, love, and dreams.

  • Uses: In magical practices, hops are primarily associated with promoting restful sleep and enhancing dreams. They are used in dream pillows or sachets to prevent nightmares and ensure a peaceful night’s sleep. Hops are also included in healing rituals and spells to soothe the mind and body, drawing on their calming properties. In love magic, hops can be used to encourage fidelity and attract a gentle, nurturing love. The plant’s rapid growth and climbing nature symbolize the ability to overcome obstacles and reach for higher goals.

Folklore, Legends, and Mythology of Hops

  • Historical Context: Hops have a long history of use in brewing and traditional medicine. They were introduced to brewing in the Middle Ages, replacing other bittering agents and becoming a staple in beer production.

  • Folklore: In European folklore, hops were believed to ward off evil spirits and promote restful sleep. Hop flowers were sometimes hung in homes to drive away negativity and protect against bad luck. In some cultures, hop vines were worn as crowns during festivals to symbolize prosperity and joy.

  • Mythology: Hops are associated with the Germanic goddess Ninkasi, the goddess of beer and brewing. This link underscores the plant’s importance in both cultural and mythological contexts as a symbol of fertility, abundance, and the joyous aspects of life.

Historical Literary Sources

  • Hildegard of Bingen’s "Physica" (circa 1150): Describes the use of hops in medicine and brewing, highlighting their antibacterial and preservative properties.

  • John Gerard’s "Herball" (1597): Discusses the medicinal uses of hops, particularly for digestive health and as a treatment for anxiety and restlessness.


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