Bearberry is a small shrub, a member of the Heather family. It is a low-growing plant with leathery, evergreen leaves. Sometimes called “Yukon Holly,” Bearberry grows across much of the Northern hemisphere. It prefers cold, mountainous climates and rocky soil.
Bearberry produces small, edible berries that may be red, purple, or black depending on the variety. As you may have guessed from the name, the berries are a favorite food of foraging bears. Bearberry’s Latin name (Uva-ursi) literally means, “bear’s grape.”
Bearberry is available in dried form (usually wildcrafted) for ritual use. For medicinal purposes, people buy it in various other forms: Medicinal tea bags, tablets, extracts and tinctures. The tea is a popular remedy for bladder and kidney health. Bearberry does not contain a high concentration of fragrance oils, and is rarely distilled for essential oil.
Native Americans blend Bearberry and Tobacco to make a smoking blend called Kinnikinnick. Most people think of Bearberry as a New World herb, but in fact it grows natively in Scotland and northern England. It was first documented in a 13th-century Welsh herbal almanac.
Magickal uses of Bearberry
Magickal lore surrounding Bearberry falls into two major areas: Psychic power/divination, and connection with the animal kingdom. Bearberry is said to align a person with their own inner strength, and to help connect with ancestral knowledge.
Bearberry is especially favored by those who work with Bear energy. Shamans use Bearberry for shape-shifting magick. Healing (of others) and wisdom-seeking are other magickal properties of Bearberry.
Correspondences of Bearberry
The planetary match for Bearberry is not entirely clear. Cunningham lumps it in with other evergreens and claims it for Jupiter. Some more recent sources go with Pluto or Saturn (perhaps inspired by Bearberry’s psychic uses). Bearberry’s link to the Bear spirit and personal courage—not to mention its affinity with Tobacco—make a pretty good argument for Mars.
Assigning an elemental correspondence to Bearberry is easier. Given the plainness of the plant, its importance as a food source, and its ground-creeping habit, the proper attribution is Earth.
Spells and Formulas with Bearberry
Add to purple mojo bags to increase psychic powers.
Make an infusion of Bearberry to wash or steep talismans (especially animal talismans).
Sprinkling the powdered or crumbled leaves in your shoes is supposed to take you to your true love.
The smoking blend known as Kinnikinnick is said to increase gifts of vision and prophecy, purify ritual space, and carry prayers to the heavens. Combine equal parts Bearberry and Tobacco leaf. Smoke in a pipe, or burn as incense prior to magickal work.
Offer the fresh or dried berries to Bear spirit guides.
Bearberry is considered safe to use in moderation. There are no known hazards from handling it or using it in incenses or smoking blends.
Bearberry teas and extracts have healing properties, but can cause side effects. Do not take if pregnant. Consult a doctor or herbalist before using Bearberry medicinally.
Scent Profile: Autumn leaves, Pine
Correspondences: Mars/Jupiter, Earth
Occult properties of herbs are provided for historical interest only, and no outcome is guaranteed. Nothing on this website should be taken as medical or legal advice. Please use herbs responsibly.