Herbal Magic, quite simply, is a form of magic that uses the utilization of the natural energies within plants. These items all have their own energies associated with them, and we are able to tap into that energy for spells, rituals, etc.
I have found that many forget that magic is quite literally at our fingertips, either in our own backyards or in our kitchen cabinets. I have seen several new practitioners asking for spells and such that do not require fancy materials or hard to get tools, and I have always found it funny that none of them think to look to nature for those resources.
When the first witches and Hedge Folk practiced magic, they did not have many ritual tools at their disposal, if any at all. Many could only look to the world around them (their farms, gardens, the nearby woods, etc) for tools and items to aid them in their work. I know for my family, much of their tools consisted of the herbs they grew in their own gardens, and the animals that they worked with on the farm. I imagine much the same was true for others that followed a similar tradition.
So lets step away from the intricacies of elaborate ritual and long, drawn out spells, and get back to our roots
As Albert Einstein said: Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
Understanding Your Tools:
The first step in working with any tool is to understand how that tool works. With herbs, we are tapping into and using their energies to further our works of magic. In order to understand and tap into the magical energies flowing through herbs, you must first understand the herbs themselves.
For example, every herb has its own flavor, scent, texture, and growing habits. These can help us understand how to use the herbs in our practices. Lets discuss sage, for example. Sage is a very versatile and hardy herb. I've found that it grows well as long as it has proper soil, sun, and water.
It is a medicinal herb that has natural healing and purifying properties, and was a common staple in my home during the cold and flu season. So, using that information, let us look at how it could be used in magic. Given what we know about this herb, it can be used in purification, protection, healing, cleansing, banishing, etc.
My point here is that herbs can quite easily tell you their magical uses by their flavor, texture, scent, and growing habits. Take the time to study and get to know your herb and see what they tell you. The more you work with them the easier it will be to understand them and how we can use them in magical practice and spells.
Now, another question I get asked quite often is what herbs are easy for beginners to use? There are four that I usually suggest because of their ease of growth, and hardiness.
Sage | Basil | Mint | Catnip
These four herbs are a regular sight in my garden. They are relatively easy to grow from seed and once they get growing, they need little maintenance. As long as they have adequate sunlight, regular watering (I water mine once or twice a week, depending on when the soil seems dry), and plant food every now and then, they do just fine.
I recommend trimming them once they start to get taller; it helps cut the plants back and promotes bushier growth and more leaf production.
Mint and catnip are related, and can spread like wildfire, if you aren't careful, and choke out the rest of your plants. (I found this out the hard way) So I would suggest keeping these in containers or in an area where they can't take over the rest of your garden.
These four are also good beginner herbs for newbies to magical gardening and Hedgecraft. Why you ask? Quite simply, they are versatile and offer you some of the most commonly used magical components that I have seen asked for in spells.
Sage, as we discussed above, is a wonderful herb for protection, healing, and purification. Basil and mint are both good for luck and success. Mint is also an herb that I use commonly for stress relief and relaxation brews. Catnip is a good choice for love and friendship, and it is also a nice treat for our feline friends!
These herbs can be worked into spells, charm sachets, potions, and all other manner of magic.
Herb Dollies and Poppets:
Poppets or dollies are a form of sympathetic magic. The idea being that whatever action you take upon the doll will have similar manifestations on the individual, animal, etc that the doll is made to look like.
I have most often seen them made from cloth these days, but you can make them just was easily and for less money by using plant materials. You can gather together dried herbs or corn husks and shape them into little people; using twine to tie of the sections for the head, arms and legs.
If I am using herb bundles for this, I try to gather a mix of herbs I need for the spell at hand, and then add in pictures and items belonging to the person or animal and place them in the center of the herb bundle. If I am using the corn husks, I will gather together the herbs, and pictures of the individual and then place them in the chest of the poppet and then build my poppet around them.
If I were doing a poppet for healing, for example, I would place the poppet in the center of a circle of sea salt, dried sage, and St. Johns Wart. Visualize the salt and herbs protecting the individual from further illness and helping to spread healing energy to them. To do this visualize blue healing light forming within the circle of salt and herbs and spreading out to your friend (the poppet, since this is the physical representation of your friend or whomever it is you are doing the healing ritual for.)
I usually do this every day for about a week, though you can do it as little or as often as you feel it needs to be done to help in the healing process.
Herb bundles are just as the title would suggest bundles of herbs that can be used in magical practice. When I was a child, my family would gather together dried herbs, plants, etc and burn them as a means to ensure good health and ward off negativity. The burning herbs were believed to help purify the air and remove negativity.
I have also seen herb bundles used in place of wands. The herbs are dried, and bound together to act as a wand for inviting spirits, calling on ancestral spirits, etc.
You can also use them as incense. The herb bundles can be made and then smoldered on charcoal disks or cast into ritual fire to be used as incense or for divination purpose. If you are using them as incense, take a small amount of the herbs tie them with twine, then place them on the charcoal disk to smolder. I would advise lighting the disk and allowing it to burn for a few seconds before placing the herbs on it, Ive found this helps a bit in the smoldering process.
If you are using the bundles for divination, I would take a larger bundle of the herbs and cast them into your fire. Mediate on the smoke that rises and take notes of any shapes you see, and write them down. Once you are done, you can then interpret your images.
Brief, Herbal Correspondences Chart:
I think it might be a good idea to put a table of correspondences here, for those that are very new to herb magic. These tables for the correspondences are of my own design, and ones I use very often. I have seen others similar to them, but I personally never liked some of the associations I found in others. Thus, I made my own that work for me and my personal practice. You are welcome to use these or do as I did and make your own. The information is a guide to help you in your workings, and can be changed or altered to suit your own needs or the situation and task at hand. I will be adding another one later on that is a bit more in-depth and covers the individual herbs and associated properties.
Herbs for Love:
Herbs for Luck:
- Bay Leaves
Herbs for Relaxation:
Herbs for Protection & Purification:
- Dragon's Blood
- St. John's Wort