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Saturday, 12 February 2011

Plants and Magic

Plants form an integral part of magic, as they have throughout history. The use of herbal medicines go back thousands of years, and over those thousands of years the way herbs and plants are used and the people with access to them has grown and diversified.
Within witchcraft they are commonly used by being turned into incense or burnt as smudge sticks, to decorate places and altars and as ingredients within potions or meals to celebrate Sabbats and Esbats.

As the demand for plants with magical associations grows, so does the number of retailers that stock them. It is important to check that wherever you purchase any magical items, you ensure they have been grown or manufactured in a sustainable, organic way.

Of course, in an ideal world everyone would all grow and harvest their own herbs, or forage for wild ones. If you do decide to go down the route of growing your own, it is recommended that you use a book or calendar that details key dates in the lunar cycle, in order to gain maximum magical energy. Many practitioners have found that gardening is a magical ritual in itself. If it’s not something you have done before it is certainly worth trying.

If you decide to collect plants and herbs from the wild please be respectful of where you collect them from and give something back; collect seed pods from that area and scatter them to help the area grow. It goes without saying that rare or protected plants should never be removed from their habitats.

There are many sources of information available for the different ways in which you can use plants and herbs in spells and rituals. ‘The Book of Magical Herbs: Herbal History, Mystery, & Folklore’ by Margaret Picton and Michelle Pickering is a popular choice. It is a beautiful book that provides information on the history and folklore surrounding the everyday plants and herbs found in kitchens and gardens.

If you want a big no-nonsense sourcebook to look up the properties of a wide range of different herbs, you would be hard pushed to find a better book than ‘The Herb Book: The Complete and Authoritative Guide to More Than 500 Herbs’ by John B Lust. Another good book, and firm favourite amongst the magical community is ‘Cunningham's Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs’ by Scott Cunningham.

There are also countless websites that provide information on this subject matter. An important point to remember is that whenever you read about magical correspondences associated with plants, that they will be slightly different for everyone. The more you work with plants, the more your instincts for what will work where, will grow.

For an article about specific magical plant correspondences click here.

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