A uniquely spicy-sweet aromatic, cardamom is the world's third most expensive spice by weight (after saffron and vanilla), which has been sought-after for its flavour and aphrodisiacal qualities since the Bronze Age. 

Origin: Southern India

Family: Zingiberaceae
Scientific Name: Elettaria cardamomum

Folk Names: Cardamum, ela (Sanskrit), grains of paradise, green cardamom, Indian cardamom, true cardamom

Magical Properties

Element: Fire
Day: Friday
Planet: Venus, Mercury, Uranus
Zodiac: Taurus
Festivals: Yule
Deities: Erzulie, Hekate, Hermes, Medea, Mercury, Vishnu

Parts used: Seed pods, seeds

Magical Properties: Love, lust, aphrodisiac, balance, beauty, clarity, confidence, courage, creativity, divination, energy, friendship, harmony, inspiration, marriage, passion, prediction, prosperity, purpose, sensuality, stimulating

Substitutions: Cinnamon, cloves


  • Noted by the Babylonians and Assyrians for its health benefits, cardamom was traded along spice routes to western Asia and the Mediterranean by 2-3000 BCE. 
  • Used in Ayurveda as early as 3-400 BCE to help with digestive health. 
  • Cardamom was a highly-valued spice in ancient Greece and Rome. Dioscorides and Hippocrates both wrote about its uses as a digestive. 
  • King Mithridates VI of Pontus (134 to 63 BCE) reportedly invented the legendary Mithridate to protect himself from poison, of which cardamom was on of the 60 (expensive) ingredients. This continued to be highly sought-after as a miraculous cure-all through the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods. 
  • Cardamom was frequently referenced as an aphrodisiac in the tales from One Thousand and One Nights (known in English as Arabian Knights), made up of folk tales from India and south-west Asia dating to at least the first millennium CE. 
  • Culpeper assigned cardamom to Venus due to its aphrodisiac qualities, however it is sometimes aligned with Mercury, for its stimulating and aromatic qualities. 
  • Several Scandanavian baked goods associated with Yule are flavoured with cardamom. 

Magical Uses

  • Drink cardamom tea to help soothe sadness. 
  • Chew cardamom seeds before going out to increase your magnetism (and freshen your breath!)
  • Add cardamom to love sachets or incenses to draw an new lover and make you more attractive to others. 
  • Kitchen witchery: 
    • Cardamom works will in tea, coffee, spiced wind, breads, cakes, cookies, with apples, and in lamb dishes. 
    • Bake into an apple pie for an amorous dessert. 
    • Celebrate the winter solstice by baking a Scandanavian julekake. 
    • Add ground cardamom seeds to warmed red wine for a quick lust potion. 
    • For a simple sleep potion, add 2-3 crushed cardamom pods to your milk of choice and warm in a saucepan. Strain, and enjoy with a dash of nutmeg. 

Practical Uses

Cardamom seeds are often chewed to freshen the breath. 

Its unique fragrance is used in incenses and perfumery. 

Cardamom in Cooking

Cardamom is commonly used as a spice/flavouring in foods and drinks. It has a strong spicy-sweet flavour and intense aromatic fragrance. 

Cardamom is a common ingredient in Indian cooking (especially sweets, and in curry blends, garam masala, and masala chai), Nordic baked goods (such as the Scandinavian Yule bread Julekake), as a tea and coffee flavouring, in curries, and various other Asian dishes, as well as a flavouring in many herbal liqueurs. 

Both the pods and seeds are used for food purposes. Keep the pods intact until use, as the seeds tend to lose flavour once removed. 

Botanical Information

'Cardamom' can also be used to refer to black cardamom, Amomum subulatum, which is sometimes used in savoury cooking. This is also part of the ginger family. 

Type: Herbaceous perennial
Plant size: 2-4m high
Leaves: 40-60cm long with a long pointed tip. Arranged alternately. 
Flowers: White to lilac/pale violet flowers, formed in a loose spice 30-60cm long. 
Fruit: 3-sided yellow-green pod, 1-2cm long, containing 15-20 black/brown seeds. 

Etymology: From the Latin cardamōmum, from the Greek καρδάμωμον (from kardamon, 'cress', and amomon, assumed to be a kind of Indian spice plant). 

In the Garden

Type: Large herb
Light: Partial shade/filtered sunlight
Water: Keep moist, requires high humidity
Soil: Rich, loamy, slightly acidic (pH 6.1-6.6)


  • Plant seeds in a light but rich soil, approx. 3mm below the surface. 
  • Can reach heights of 3m by the third year. 
  • Requires approx. 3 years of growth to produce pods. 


Need some? You can buy cardamom here

Cardamom printable grimoire page

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