I have been interested in herbalism for quite some time now, and though I don't have many means of getting herbs other than growing them myself. I think now is a heck of a good time to study up on them. I have limited knowledge on herbs though I know a few such as sage is good for protection and things like that. But it would be great to have a few pointers at where to start or maybe some literature or links to good sites because all I can do right now is jump into it. When I get my book of shadows going I am going to dedicate a section to herbalism, but doing some research beforehand can't hurt either. So if anyone has any basics, or anything that they think they could help me, it would be greatly appreciated. Blessed be.
I mainly stick with Native Americanherbalism, for personal and practical reasons. but these are the books that i know of:
Scott Cunningham's book on herbalism/ plants. This book (although i do not own it, i have looked through it and might buy it soon) has medical and magical use for the plant.
The Medicine Wheel Garden: Creating Sacred Space for Healing, Celebration, and Tranquillity by E. Barrie Kavasch, This book i do own. Although, it is Native American based this book shows you how to make and take care of a garden, make teas and tinctures, and has a section on herbs.
and last but not least: Indian Herbalogy of North America by Alma R. Hutchens. This book is a good book if you are going to use herbs for medical purposes. This book teaches: The common names of the plant, features,medicinal parts, solvent, bodily influences, uses, Dose, externally, a picture and much more.
I hope that helps. I really only have two books on herbalism for now, but they are useful.
A few good books to start with for magical herbalism are:
Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen by Scott Cunningham
The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Beyerl
Compendium of Herbal Magick by Paul Bereyl
Grimoire for the Green Witch: A Complete Book of Shadows by Aoumiel
I know that for many people acquiring herbs is a difficult thing especially for those that are younger or hiding in the broom closet but I have to say since I have been practicing herbalism for quite a while that many herbs can be found in the kitchen as many common kitchen herbs and spices have a wide array of magical properties that can be used for most of everything. All the exotic and harder to find herbs work just as well but no more so than what is readily available to most people.
You will learn from books, mentors, and other people about the magical properties and effects of many herbs, but what amazes me is that as you learn and practice herbalism you will form your own formulas and properties from the herbs you use regularly. Another great thing about many of the kitchen herbs is that many things can be used to substitute one thing for another and the result isn't affected the least bit, remembering that along with the herbs you set forth your own magical intentions into the brews, mixes, and powders you create. Good luck and have fun with it.
A good place to start is with what you already have! Go through all your spices and your pantry and research online what each item is used for. This website has a large section of herbs under the articles tab. Starting a small herb garden is also a great start and this is a great time to sow indoors! Seed packets can be very cheap to get, under $1 at most discount stores. If you get creative and up-cycle some old tin cans or plastic food containers you won't have to buy any pots for the herbs. Just make sure you keep them in a sunny window and keep the soil moist. Oh, and as a side note, there is a difference between culinary sage, and the sage used in wands for smudging. They are different plants, but people mix them up a lot. For myself, I only use sagebrush for smudging and I use culinary sage for just about anything else that calls for sage.
Thank you all very much, and I will make sure to do this. I had been thinking about starting a small indoors herb garden, but I think my mind is set on it now. I will get started as soon as possible. :)
Herbalism is for more than just your magical practice. I highly recommend going to your local library and looking up all the herbals you can find there. You will notice that the older ones will say things like it is used to "banish evil spirits from the body" and other similar things. This is because that is the way they looked at illness and disease back then. You will find that such herbs that are used for illness, are also used for banishing and protection magically. There is a lot of information you can find by cross referencing the different herbals. For my healing work with herbs, I have found 20,000 Secrets of Tea by Victoria Zak to be one of my favorites. If you can find the book Herbal Remedies: A Practical Beginner's Guide to Making Effective Remedies in the Kitchen (The Practical Health Series) by Christopher Hedley and Non Shaw I highly recommend snapping it up. It has step by step pictures on making the various remedies and it also has recipes and in the back is a chart that makes it easy to find what you want for which ailment and how it can be used. It was one of my first herbals and is still one of my favorites. Herbal Remedies does list the herbs in alphabetical order by official name not common name though. I have a whole collection of herbals, books on alternative medicine, and field guides on edible and medicinal plants that I have used to cross-reference various herbs. In all the time I have been making healing teas I have only made a couple that tasted nasty. Teas are also a very versatile and inexpensive way to start learning about herbs. If you have any questions let me know, I would be happy to help.