Being Respectful and Safe When Harvesting Plants:
I feel like this is a necessary reminder for all us witches.
Ok, so, I know sometimes it’s hard to grow plants in your garden, especially if you are renting or such, and one day you might be walking along a footpath in town, or in a forest / bushland / natural area and some plant may catch your eye - be it in someone else’s garden or a few metres off the forest path. Your instinct is to swipe it up - after all, this is the super-rare herb that you’ve read so much about, is useful in nearly all aspects of your craft, is difficult to grow and is sacred to who you worship. And it’s right *there*.
Now freeze for a moment. There are a few things you need to consider before you take something that isn’t from your own garden. And that doesn’t just go for plants. It even applies to items like rocks and feathers (there may be laws against this in your country).
Please, please, please think and re-think before you take something.
- ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES?
- Is this stealing? Is it illegal or not advisable?
- Do I actually need this? Will I even use this? What for?
- Do I even really know if this plant is safe? Am I 100% sure this is what I think it is?
This doesn’t just apply to plants that you don’t own. Even the ones in your own garden can be dangerous at times if you haven’t researched them. Back when I was a baby witch I carelessly plucked mistletoe off a tree and ended up getting an itchy rash on my hands and arms. A google search (which I should’ve done before I freaking picked it) revealed that it was poisonous. Luckily, the rash went after a half hour and I was fine, but that was the wake-up call I needed. Please be safe when harvesting plants. Research the ones you don’t know and re-cap on and re-research the ones you do know. If you aren’t sure, leave it alone.
Next of all, the legal side of things. Don’t sneak into a person’s garden to take something. You do NOT need it that badly. In some bushlands and forests, it is illegal to take anything - plant, rock, animal bone, dirt, whatever. And like I said before, in some countries it is illegal to take feathers. Please research your own state / country for details.
ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES? About 99.99% of the time, there are.
- Supermarket herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables, salt, pepper. Rosemary has literally hundreds of ways to be used. Before you go snooping in your neighbour’s front yard, hit up your grocery store, community vegetable garden, local orchards, farms and farmer’s market. Meats and dairy products also have magical properties. If you can’t respectfully and safely source inedible, ‘non-domestic’ plants, use the edible ones. Plus, kitchen magic. Double plus, what you source is edible, meaning that you can eat it and get its correspondences *inside you*. How’s that for strong magic?
- Do you know someone who grows the plant in their garden already? Can they give you some? Can they give you a cutting you can grow yourself or some seeds / seedlings? Remember to ask respectfully and don’t be disheartened if they refuse.
- Window boxes and potted plants. If you are renting you may not be allowed to plant *in the ground* per se, but nothing is stopping you from using pots and window boxes. You can grow your own kitchen herbs â€“ they are super-easy to grow and often have wide ranges of correspondences. Seedlings are easiest to care for and most seed packets are cheap as cheap.
- If you want a plant corresponding to e.g. love or protection, do your research. A simple ‘protective herbs’ search can hook you up with a whole heap of alternatives. You’re bound to have at least one accessible one.
- If all else fails, you can use a crystal with similar properties or a mundane object charged with your intent. If your intention is strong enough and your desire is there, it’ll work.
- Do you really, really need to do the spell anyway? Witchcraft is a resource that can be very helpful, but at the same time you need to put in effort too. If you do a spell for, let’s say, friendship, and then stay in your house for three months straight, your spell won’t work. Why? Because you can’t expect people to come knocking on your door wanting to be your friend. It doesn’t work like that. A better approach is to do a spell that boosts your confidence in making friends. So, you still have to go out and met people yourself, but you’ll have the spell to guide you this time. You’re the superhero, witchcraft is like the sidekick.
Now, when actually harvesting plants, there are certain ways to go about it, even if you are entitled to take them, know for certain what they are and have researched them:
- How much do I need?
- Only take from strong, healthy-looking plants. Will taking from this plant damage it somehow?
- Don’t venture into dangerous places. If it’s too risky, find an alternative.
- Be grateful. Offer a thank you to nature, a deity, spirit or who or whatever. A thank you to the actual plant is pretty nice, too. Appreciate the plant as a gift from the earth. Don’t abuse it, even if it isn’t central to your craft.
- Be respectful. You may be eager to finally get that flower for your spell, but don’t go ripping off leaves, petals etc in your enthusiasm. Also, don’t trample on other plants on your way to get it either. If the stem is too fibrous or hard to pick, go and get some pruning scissors and snip it off. The plant won’t go anywhere while you grab them, and it stops a lot of yanking and twisting that can hurt it.
- Remember that all parts of the plant can be utilised, unless they are poisonous, unsafe for ingestion or whatever. Do your research here. I mean this with reference to reducing waste e.g. If you picked a flower to use the petals for something, don’t throw away the stem and leaves, as they contain the powers of the plant, too. If you don’t want them, try not to pick them in the first place. Otherwise, use them in bath magic if that’s safe, use them as offerings, dry them and stick them in your grimoire for decoration etc. If you don’t use them at all, at least return them to the earth with some thanks or compost them.
- Some people ask a plant’s permission before taking anything from it, which I think is pretty advisable. At least take a moment to read the vibes coming off the plant. If it seems to not want to give up anything, go ask another plant, especially if there is another one of the same kind nearby.
That’s about it. Please be respectful of nature and do your part to protect it. It’s an important thing for all of us.