The Contemporary New England Witch

The Contemporary New England Witch
Ms Faith

Monday, December 27, 2010

The magick to be found in simple herbs and spices

 Evening Greetings,

I hope you were able to enjoy your holiday and are resting up and ready to tackle the new year! Regardless if we're ready, its right around the corner so I'm spending the enforced snow day consulting my herbs. That's right, consulting and seeing which are getting a bit on in age and need to be processed further.

Herbs I've gathered and dried in the summer, or purchased for magickal use I need to check to make sure they are still dried and have not attracted any mold or moisture.  Being stuck indoors, which I really don't mind as I'm not much for snow activities, makes a lovely opportunity to create some powdered incense to burn in ritual and for spell casting.  You see, for simple banishing or drawing magickal purposes, burning dried herbs is a simple way to do this. Most especially when you can't or don't have the opportunity to cast a complete magick circle.

All natural products are created by nature and have magickal properties inherent in them. Some plants draw energies to us and some repel certain energies. For instance, we know from legend and lore that roses have loving energies. That's why they're considered the flower of love when giving the gift of flowers. Lavender has for years been used to calm and soothe.  The magickal properties in the herb, plant, root, seed, grass, stem, bark, every part of a plant, goes dormant when its dried and can be released by you,  the magickal practitioner.

First things first. You need a mortar and pestle. To do any real herbal magick it's necessary.  A mortar is a round bowl that  materials are placed inside of,  for the purpose of pulverizing them with its pounding tool, the pestle.  I've included a nice photo in the header of this discussion of a mortar and pestle.  It really is the most ancient of tools and can be found today being used in aboriginal tribes that have stayed virtually the same for thousands of years.

When you shop for a mortar and pestle though be careful of what you choose. There are mortars and pestles that one can find for sale that are primarily decorative and have little functionality. A proper mortar and pestle has on the inside of the bowl or mortar, a roughened surface, what is called tooth. Many times the outer surface is glazed or polished, but the inside should not be.  As well, the blunt or rounded end of the pestle should be rough and not polished or glazed.  My favorite mortar and pestle is larger than most and can hold appx. 4 cups of liquid and is made out of smoothed granite. Though smooth, the granite still has the tooth to properly pulverize whatever I wish to use. Just make sure the inner working surfaces are not glazed or shiny smooth.

Therefore glass or metal mortars and pestles are usually not useful and these are sold for pharmaceutical or decorative purposes.  For our purposes though, to make fine incense powder to be burned as a powder or to be converted into cones and sticks, you will need a mortar and pestle as I've described.  Simple white ceramic ones sold in herbal stores or witch shoppes are inexpensive and a nice way to start.  A word of warning though, one cannot pound as if using a hammer in the mortar with the pestle. It will break unless made of a very thick stone.The object is not to pound or hammer the herbs, but to grind them, press them against the sides which breaks the cellulose shell releasing the essential oils and essences from within.

Now to get to work, first gather some dried ingredients.  I've listed some common herbs and spices typically used in magick and their properties below. then one ingredient at a time, put small amounts into the mortar and start to grind with the pestle. Go in a clockwise motion, this should always be the case when pulverizing herbs as you wish to awaken them and their magick. Grinding and rubbing the herbs with the pestle inside the mortar will help accomplish this. 

Start with a small amount at a time as some herbs like calendula, or Roman marigold, is tricky as the more you add the harder it becomes to crush. You need to work small amounts at a time. Experiment with each herb and decide how much you can work with at a time. Powder the herb and put into a bowl, then powder the next herb and so on until all you're working with has been processed. Then mix all together.  You may then choose whether you wish to add a few drops of essential oil to the mix or not. To decide, burn a small inch of the incense on a charcoal briquette first. Then if you wish you can add complementing oils. 

Here are some of the common ingredients most used by witches in our spell casting and herbal spell mixes.

Herbs to attract love to your life:

  • balm, lemon, basil, catnip, chamomile, cinnamon, cohosh, black, copal, damiana, dragon's blood, geranium, ginger, hemp, juniper, maple, lemon, peppermint, strawberry, tonka, thyme, valerian, vanilla.
For protection the following herbs are very helpful:

  • Ash, birch, blueberry, broom, burdock, cedar, cinquefoil, cumin, curry, cypress, fennel, frankincense, garlic, juniper, lime, mint, myrrh, parsley, pepper, rose, rosemary, vervain, willow, wolf's bane, woodruff, yerba santa.  This is a small list of natural ingredients which contain banishing and protection qualities. 

Its important to note that many herbs used for protection tend to smell less than nice when burned. Expect that and choose your ingredients wisely.

To bring in financial energies that will increase your money and wealth the following herbs have been used:

  • allspice, almond, basil, blackberry, bergamot orange, comfrey, calamus, clove, clover, dill, dock, fern, flax, galangal, goldenrod, golden seal, gorse, grape, heliotrope, High John the Conqueror, honeysuckle,  jasmine, lucky hand root, mint, moss, nutmeg, oats, orange, pomegranate, pineapple, poppy, rice, sesame, tea, tonka, wheat, woodruff.  

Remember these lists are just sample lists and many, many other herbs in all categories can be used.   An excellent book to determine the best herbs and their magickal properties are those encyclopedias written by the late Mr. Scott Cunningham.

His works, still in publication by Llewellyn Worldwide Publications include, "Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs" and "The Complete Book of Incense, Oils and Brews" by Scott Cunningham.   These books and more are available at Enchantments and they are just a couple of the books that have made up my personal magickal library for over twenty years.  I personally think they are vital resources for the herbal green witch.

For bringing in energies of tranquility these herbs are nice to burn in an incense mixture:

  • cinquefoil, lavender, elder, hops, rosemary,thyme, valerian and vervain.  

To make an incense to help manifest wishes mix together a few of these choices:

  • beech, dandelion, dogwood, ginseng, hazel, amber, sage, sandalwood, violet and walnut.  

To make a spell mix, which I also burn like powdered incense on a charcoal briquette, I mix small amounts of the dried herbs I choose and rather than pulverize with the mortar and pestle I just crush them up with my fingers and they are small enough to burn and while burning you can detect the individual ingredients which make a nice aromatic experience.

Most importantly, for incenses or spell mixes before using you need to wake them up a bit.  Wake them and give them a job to do. Just don't throw them on a fire, put some thought into it.  Hold a small amount of the herbs in one hand and with the fingers of your other hand stir them and pick them up and lightly drop them back into your palm. While dong this imagine the end result, see the loving energies falling around you like the small dried herbs falling back into your palm. this visual will help the herbs sync up with your focus an vision.

This is how herbs can magickally work for you. 

Peace and Happiness

© 2010 Enchantments, LLC Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website.

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