Here is a list of the very basic beginner herbs, and their magical and medicinal properties. These can be found at the dollar store or the super market in the spices. I prefer to use my herbs in tea and bath Magick.
All of these herbs are safe to consume and are regularly used in cooking. But, if you still have some hesitations, do your research and make sure they are safe for you to ingest. Every person is different.
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Lavender has been in use for about 3,000 years and is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean. Ancient Egyptians and surrounding peoples used lavender for mummification and in seductive perfumes. In Bible mythology, it is said that lavender was brought out of the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve and was used in foot washing rituals. It is thought to have gotten its name from the ancient Roman word for blue-ish, or “livendula”.
Magical properties: lavender has several uses in magic, including it’s strongest: insomnia, anxiety, and and nervousness. It is also very common in love and lust spells and rituals.
Medicinal uses: lavender is known for it’s calming properties and aromatic properties.
Lavender spell: for insomnia, restlessness, or a racing mind, place a stalk of lavender (leaves and flowers attached) between your mattresses after soaking it in chamomile and sea salt water for about ten minutes.
Medicinal use: about an hour before bedtime, drink a 6oz cup of lavender, chamomile, and rose tea to promote sleep.
WARNING: Please do not use herbs or magic in place of proper medical care.
This is possibly the best book that I’ve found on magical and medicinal herbalism from a personal perspective. Herbal Rituals moves through one month of the year each chapter, focusing on one or two herbs that connect to that month in the author’s eyes. Judith beautifully weaves in historical information on herbs, pagan lore, medicinal herbal wisdom, and magic through each month’s chapter. What makes this book come alive are her personal stories and descriptions of the land changing through the year, the plants moving through their yearly cycle, and the way in which our lives are moved and changed along with the earth’s.
Herbal Rituals is not just a medicinal herbal, nor a book on pagan herb craft. It is a journey through death and rebirth, nourishing and dreaming, making brews and digging in the dirt. Judith shares simple herbal preparations and recipes that are some of the most easily prepared that I’ve found, yet the most transformative and enriching in their simplicity. She teaches us through her stories of how to ethically harvest the plants, and ways to use each herb for healing and magic as she has learned through experience. A very humble, deeply moving book, everyone who has any interest in herbs should devour it.
Can you recommend some good starting literature on herbology?
Lesley Bremness: The Complete Book of Herbs - a practical guide to growing and using herbs. 288 pages, paperback, 11.60 x 7.66”. Penguin Studio, Sep 1994. ISBN 0140238026. List price USD 22. A good allround book for the beginner, it includes one-page articles on 100+ herbs, and a wide variety of uses for them (culinary and medicinal uses, cleaning, beauty, etc.). There’s also a section on how to grow herbs. Lots of clear plant and how-to color pictures.
Richard Mabey:The New Age Herbalist - How to use herbs for healing, nutrition, body care, and relaxation. 288 pages, 9.71 x 7.69”. Fireside, Nov 1988. ISBN 068481577X. List price USD 22. A beginner’s herbal, lots of pictures, not as practical as the others, but still worthwile.
Andrew Chevallier: The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. 336 pages, 11.25 x 9”. DK Publishing, Dec 2000. ISBN 0789467836. List price USD 40. Like all Dorling Kindersley books it’s big on pictures, so it’s good for beginners. This one contains one-page articles on 100 plants (lots of pictures for each of these) and very short paragraphs on 450 more (with pictures for about a third of them), in addition to the obligatory history and making remedies bits.
David Hoffmann:The Holistic Herbal-A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies 288 pages, 9.66 x 7.44”. Thorsons Pub, 4th ed., Jan 2003. ISBN 0007145411. List price USD 17. The 1996 edition had 256 pages, of which 200+ half-page articles on single herbs and a section on problems and herbal remedies by organ system. Also includes the usual how-tos - teas, ointments, lozenges, etc. Very visual.
John Lust: The Herb Book. 700 pages, 6.84 x 4.2”. Benedict Lust Publ., Jun 2001. ISBN 0879040556. List price USD 9. Short notes on the medicinal use of a lot of herbs. Also tables you can look up things in. Some black-and-white plant drawings.
Susun Weed: Healing Wise - Wise Woman Herbal. 312 pages, 8.44 x 5.52”. Ash Tree Pub., Jul 1989. ISBN 0961462027, list price USD 13. In-depth information on seven very common herbs. Some black-and-white plant drawings.
Michael Tierra: The Way of Herbs. 416 pages, 9.31 x 6.19”. Pocket Books, Aug 1998. ISBN 0671023276, list price USD 17.00. A beginner’s herbal. No pictures. Michael Tierra is online at: http://www.planetherbs.com/
James Green: The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook -A Home Manual. 384 pages, 10.62 x 8.48”. Crossing Press, Dec 2000. ISBN 0895949903. List price 23 USD. (I have his 40-page booklet on the theme, and find that the allround beginner’s herbals cover the topic distinctly better. This almost 400 page treatise might cover ground not found elsewhere, though.)
Igor Vilevich Zevin: A Russian Herbal. 250 pages, 8.97 x 6.06”. Inner Traditions Intl Ltd., Feb 1997. ISBN 0892815493. list price USD 15. For a different view on how to use herbs (still beginner’s level) get this book. Some black-and-white plant drawings.
We’re still seeking submissions for Changeling. Changeling is a new herbal zine for those of us who dance on the edges, who emphatically affirm the magick and mystery of our practice as herbologists, and love getting nerdy over the medicinal gifts of botanical medicine. We seek and support the diverse voices of our herbal community, commit to the path of social justice and plantwork, and celebrate the abundant wisdom of the green spirit of healing immanent in all things. The purpose of Changeling is to be a vessel of exchange, where we reach out to the universe and the universe/community/selves reach back.