Dew traditionally has been considered a symbol of the Philosopher’s Stone: “Thus out matter is our dew, fat, airy, and heavy, also found on the surface of the earth…Another dewy general subject coming directly from a celestial source and indirectly from plants and animals…It is celestial and terrestrial, fluid and stable (compare coral), white and reddish, light and heavy, sweet and bitter” (Hermetisches ABC von Stein der Weisen, 1779). Dew is thus conceived of as a tangible watery aggregate of that prima materia which all other matter come. In the “silent book” (Mutus Liber, 1677) of the alchemists, the gathering of dewdrops in cloths is portrayed allegorically.
From the above descriptions it is seen that dew is an important element in occult practices for many centuries. In alchemy, dew is one of the chief sources of the mysterious central niter, the subtle form of the primal fire of nature. During the two months that the sun is in the astrological signs, Aries and Taurus (March 21 – May 21), alchemists gather dew by dragging sheets over clean grass, placing metal bowls out over night to serve as condensation surfaces, or shaking dewdrops from the leaves of the herb lady’s mantle. The collected dew is used as a solvent in many alchemical processes.
In folk magic throughout the world dew is considered important in healing and medical cures, especially of the female reproductive system. Women wishing to become pregnant would lay nude on the backs beneath the moon until sunrise. Thus she was covered by and bathed in dew, considered a potent potion for fertility. In Italian Witchcraft dew is collected from sacred herbs, kept in small bottles and used as holy water for blessing and purification. A.G.H.
Biedermnn, Hans. Dictionary of Symbolism: Cultural Icons & the Meanings Behind Them.Transl. by James Hulbert. New York. A Meridian Book. 1989. p. 95
Greer, John Michael. The New Encyclopedia of the Occult. St. Paul, MN, Llewellyn Worldwide. pp. 131-132
Grimassi, Raven. Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft. St. Paul, MN, Llewellyn Publications. 2000. pp. 98-99