If you’re of a certain generation, your grandma or your mother probably had an aloe plant sitting on the windowsill. You’d get a cut or a burn, and she would snip off a leaf and rub the clear gel that oozes out of the leaf into the wound.
You would feel better, and the wound would heal rather quickly. The aloe plant has been one of the few herbal remedy plants that has remained part of our societies even as we have grown away from plants and toward modern western medicine and pharmaceuticals.
And for good reason.
The aloe plant is rich with symbolism as well as tangible healing properties.
Table Of Contents
What Is an Aloe Plant?
Several varieties of aloe plant thrive in virtually all parts of the world that have a high, dry desert area as well as in the tropics. Egypt, Mexico, Japan, and Greece all lay claim to a history filled with the use of the aloe plant both for medicine and for prayer and ritual. It also grows in other parts of Asia and Africa as well as throughout South America and southern parts of North America.
Aloe is a succulent plant, and aloe vera, the kind we often think of when we get a burn or a cut, is thought to be from the Arabian Peninsula originally.
Most aloe plants have similar features. They are short and stemless with long leaves that branch out from the base growing wider then narrower until they come to points at the end. The aloe vera plant tends to have short, not very sharp spikes along the leaves, and many plants have leaves that are dotted with white spots.
For millennia, people have been using the plant medicinally, and today we have the science to show that aloe is not only good for the skin, but it has also shown to be beneficial in terms of anti-cancer, antioxidants, and even anti-diabetic properties.
The gel from the plant can be rubbed on the skin for issues like burns and cuts, but the it can also be ingested raw, though the outer skin of the leaves is bitter and often discarded in favor of the gel and the yellow “meat” underneath the skin.
What Does an Aloe Plant Symbolize?
It’s wonder, then, that a plant that thrives even in harsh conditions like the desert, holding water for those in desperate need, and has such tremendous healing properties is a symbol of good fortune and total well-being.
Some of the nicknames for the aloe plant include Lily of the Desert and Burn plant, both representative of the power this plant holds, and the name “aloe” comes from the Greek word that means fragrant resin.
It is no surprise that the Romans dried the plant’s sap and burned it as incense as an offering to their gods.
Queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra used the gel on their skin as a beauty treatment, and Egyptians for generations in the ancient world hung the plant by their door to show their devotion to their deities.
Across other parts of Africa, the plant flowered and stood upright, becoming a symbol not just of health but also of wealth and prosperity.
In other areas of the world, like in Asia and Europe, the aloe plant was seen as a symbol of grief and given to widows or women who lost children, so this little succulent has been sending mixed messages throughout history.
Its feng shui is also a bit mixed, as the color green is one of vibrancy, and the wood element represented by plants symbolizes strength, but the spiky leaves can be problematic.
How Can I Incorporate the Aloe Plant in My Daily Life?
When thinking of how to incorporate the aloe plant into your daily life, you can always follow so many of our grandmothers’ traditions and place a small plant in a pot on your windowsill, ready to heal cuts and burns on demand.
You can also grow aloe vera in your garden, if you get hot and dry or humid weather, which mimics the aloe’s native regions. Just be mindful that aloe is not tolerant to freezing temperatures, so be sure to bring it inside and keep it warm during times of frost.
If you’re aiming for feng shui flow, be mindful of where you place the spiky-leafed plant, so you don’t mix your rounded curving shapes with the aloe’s pointy ones. Again, your windowsill is always a safe place.
To be sure you don’t let this lovely healing plant go to waste in the absence of burns or cuts at home, you can always prune the leaves every so often and create a nice face mask for a self-care practice.
Do you have an aloe plant? What do you do with yours? How have you learned to work with its symbolism? Let me know in the comments.