Magickal Herbs for Spiritual Practices
This is the magickal medicine cabinet of the witch, and especially the Green Witch. Those who practice the ‘Old Ways’ have known since time immemorial of the powers contained in the molecules of “the green”. Herbs have been used since ancient times, and are still used today, for their medicinal healing powers. But the Witch knows that these gentle and lovely plants contain other powers as well-- magickal powers to be used and tapped into for spells and potions, rituals and cleansing.
The witch has a variety of ways that she incorporates the use of herbs in her practice, depending on her intentions and the plants used. Note that you should never ingest any herb, feed it to someone else, or even handle it with your bare hands, if you are not 100% sure that it is safe. Many herbs are edible, but there are just as many that are poisonous to ingest, and still others that can actually be absorbed through your skin, so handle with care. I abide by the old rule:
“When in doubt…don’t.”
Once you’ve decided what type of spell you’re going to cast, and you know exactly what your intentions are, then you’ll have to decide which herbs will help you with this magic and how you’re going to use them to your advantage.
How do you use the herbs?
Charms & Sachets: Herbs are added to mojo bags or tied up in small cloth bundles for numerous intentions and carried in a purse, stuffed in a pocket, tucked beneath a pillow, hidden in the attic, laid upon your altar, or kept in a special place connected to your intentions. The use of herbs in the practice of magic is only limited by your own imagination and ingenuity.
Hanging in my vehicle is a mojo bag for safe travel containing calamus root and plantain, among other things. A bag for a good night’s sleep might contain chamomile and valerian, to induce dreams you may want to add a pinch of marigold blossoms; for a bag to draw love-- catnip, cardamom, rose petals; for protection-- rosemary; for prosperity-- mint, poppy seeds, dill, and so it goes.
Incense: Herbs are ground and blended in numerous combinations to create an aromatic incense for rituals, specific intentions, or pure enjoyment. Witchcraft smells good-- usually, this was one of my first impressions. But then you might find yourself creating concoctions that don’t smell so good, or are ‘unusual’ to say the least, and these concoctions will do their work, dance their dance, and you’ll love them just the same.
With homemade handmade incense, you might find that it works best when you blend this with a base, such as gum arabic, to hold the herbs together and make it easier to use; but you can do what I usually do, which is to simply sprinkle the blended dried herbs over the hot charcoal. You will want a mortar and pestle to grind and mix your herbs. Over the years, I’ve acquired several-- one I use with poisonous herbs only, one with edible herbs, one for dark magic uses, and so on. I find mortars and pestles beautiful, from the one gifted to me by my mother and made of banded green onyx, to the white porcelain one that I use most often. You will also need a small fireproof container in which you can light a small disk of charcoal that you will burn this incense on. Don’t confuse this charcoal and the regular old charcoal that you burn in your grill-- they are two different things, and the charcoal for your grill is *not* safe to burn in an enclosed area. You can find the small charcoal disks you’ll need at most new-age shops.
Baths & Washes: Herbs are dropped into bathwater in tea balls, bundles, or sprinkled liberally directly in your water for healings, cleansings, and numerous other intentions. I must warn you here that you should be knowledgeable about the herbs you are using, and don't use anything that would be irritating to your skin: for instance, ‘hot’ herbs-- like cayenne pepper, or stinging herbs-- like nettles, would not add to a pleasant bathing experience. If you run across anything that you are personally sensitive too, I’m betting you’ll remember what it is and you won’t use it again.
For cleansing I like rosemary, and I usually add a large freshly picked bundle from my own garden right to my bathwater; to heighten your psychic senses-- lavender and marigold; to add the illusion of youth-- catnip; to prepare you for a restful night’s sleep-- chamomile, etc.
You can also add herbs to the water that you use to scrub your floors and surroundings with…a little sage to your mop water will cleanse your floor of more than just dirt; it will clear your living space of negative energy. If there has been discord in your home, add a little valerian to promote a peaceful atmosphere; if you feel you need protection, throw a dash of salt and rosemary in your mop water.
Oils: This is my favorite use of herbs. They are used in the creation of magickal oils. The base you use for your oils may depend on your intentions-- when making Black Cat Oil for protection, use castor oil; if you’re making it to draw romance into your life, use almond oil. Grape seed oil makes another wonderful base, though it’s a bit expensive. If you’re pinched for funds, you can use olive oil, or even a cheaper oil from the grocery store.
Sometimes I’ve felt the need to heat the oil in my cast iron cauldron on the stovetop and add the herbs to it, heating it just enough to release their energy and their scent. Other times I’ve simply filled a jar with oil, the appropriate herbs and occasional objects, and left the jar sit in the sunlight-- or the moonlight-- to charge it.
Either way…the magic works.
Teas: This is one of the most delightful ways to use herbs, by making a delicious old-fashioned pot of tea. And it’s in this type of use that you must be very cautious about what herbs you‘re using. Make darn sure that you are 100% positive that the herbs you’re adding to your pot of tea are edible and harmless.
Along with concocting my own homemade teas, I’ve bought many prepared teas from the grocery store or health food shop with magical intentions in mind. To these prepared teas you can add an extra herb or two, a pinch of this, a pinch of that, work your will and magickal intentions into the ingredients: to call up prophetic dreams, throw a marigold blossom into your cup of tea before bedtime; to tame the wanderlust in your partner’s eyes, give them a cup of tea laced with nutmeg or raspberries to insure fidelity; to dispel negative energy picked up from a hectic day, add fennel to your tea-- you get the idea.
On Sundays my husband makes the morning coffee, and he usually steps out into our herb garden to snatch a handful of mint leaves that he adds to the basket of coffee grounds. This might sound strange, but after he uses a spoonful of hot coco as the creamer, it is the most delicious cup of coffee you’ll ever have-- and along with the mint comes energy for prosperity, wealth, and blessings.
Smoking: Shamans and spiritualists have smoked herbs for millennia for the purpose of vision questing, altering the sub-conscious mind, and opening oneself up to enlightenment. I have friends, dear witches-- mothers, grandmothers, crones-- who burn such herbs as mugwort before rituals or during divination sessions to benefit from the magic of the smoke. Native Americans may still legally use peyote, a very potent hallucinogen, during their spiritual rituals and vision quests.
Quite frankly, this is as far as I can go on this particular use of herbs. I’ve never smoked anything, not even a cigarette, in my fifty-three years. I warn against ingesting/smoking illegal or dangerous herbs for any reason. As with all things in life-- use some common sense.
The content of this page is an excerpt from
"The Gray Witch's Grimoire" by Amythyst Raine
© The Gray Witch's Grimoire,
Amythyst Raine 2011
APHRODITE: olive, cinnamon, daisy, cypress, quince, orris (iris), apple, myrtle
ARADIA: rue, vervain
ARTEMIS: silver fir, amaranth, cypress, cedar, hazel, myrtle, willow, daisy, mugwort, date palm.
ASTARTE: alder, pine, cypress, myrtle, juniper
ATHENA: olive, apple
BAST: catnip, vervain
CARDEA: hawthorn, bean, arbutus
CERES: willow, wheat, bay, pomegranate, poppy, leek, narcissus
CERRIDWEN: vervain, acorns
CYBELE: oak, myrrh, pine
DEMETER: wheat, barley, pennyroyal, myrrh, rose, pomegranate, bean, poppy, all cultivated crops.
DIANA: birch, willow, acacia, wormwood, dittany, hazel, beech, fir, apple, mugwort, plane, mul-berry, rue
FREYA: cowslip, daisy, primrose, maidenhair, myrrh, strawberry, mistletoe
HATHOR: myrtle, sycamore, grape, mandrake, coriander, rose
HECATE: willow, henbane, aconite, yew, mandrake, cyclamen, mint, cypress, date palm, sesame, dandelion, garlic, oak, onion.
HERA: apple, willow, orris, pomegranate, myrrh
HULDA: flax, rose, hellebore, elder
IRIS: wormwood, iris
ISHTAR: acacia, juniper, all grains
ISIS: fig, heather, wheat, wormwood, barley, myrrh, rose, palm, lotus, persea, onion, iris, vervain
JUNO: lily, crocus, ashpodel, quince, pomegranate, vervain, iris, lettuce, fig, mint
MINERVA: olive, mulberry, thistle
NEPTHYS: myrrh, lily
PERSEPHONE: parsley, narcissus, willow, pomegranate
RHEA: myrrh, oak
ROWAN: clover, rowan
VENUS: cinnamon, daisy, elder, heather, anemone, apple, poppy, violet, marjorem, maidenhair fern, carnation, aster, vervain, myrtle, orchid, cedar, lily, mistletoe, pine, quince
Source for the Herbal List: