Herb of the Day for July 21 is Bittersweet

Herb of the Day

Bittersweet

Medicinal Uses: The bark of the root is used.  The root-bark tea induces sweating and is diuretic and emetic. Externally the bark is used in an ointment for burns, scrapes, skin eruptions.
Bittersweet is a narcotic herb containing solanine and in large doses can paralyze the central nervous system. Bittersweet is used to treat skin diseases, bronchial conditions and asthma.  

Magickal uses: This is a masculine herb. It is ruled by the planet Mercury and its element is Air. Shepherds hung it as a charm around the necks of their animals as protection from evil.

Properties: narcotic, exportant, diuretic

Growth: This is a climbing, twining shrub. It grows up to 50 feet in height. The leaves are ovate to oblong, sharp pointed and fine-toothed. The flowers are greenish and in clusters, May to June. The fruit capsule is scarlet to orange, splitting, to reveal scarlet seeds. The stems are green and slightly hairy at first but become woody with age. It grows in hedges, wasteways and swamps. Bittersweet is found in North America and Europe.

All parts of this plant including the berries are potentially toxic.
Source:
Author: Crick

Let’s Talk Witch – Making Magick Potions

Let’s Talk Witch – Making Magick Potions

The art of making potions goes back to the earliest civilizations and in terms of history, as one of the oldest crafts known to humankind. Brewing beer, making wine, and infusing potions are traditions that have been perfected through time. Many of the techniques making a great beer, wine or potion are the same. The mixture is often called a wort. The wort is then put through a process, which in the case of potions, gives it magickal properties.

The different ways of making potions stem from ancient medicinal and alchemical recipes, formulas that you can put together from basic ingredients in the privacy of your own kitchen. Historically magick love potions also called

philters, were often made of unappealing ingredients. You had to be extremely thristy or unaware of the contents to sip one. Today, this isn’t the case as most potion ingredients are tasty and appealing.

Potion brews can be anything from an herb tea to a fruit smoothie. One of the main things to remember when making any potion is to make it taste good if a person is going to drink it. If you are using a potion primarily for its scent, for example in a powder form, then make sure it smells good. Try to avoid unfortunate situations like the infamous wizard Aleister Crowley found himself in when he developed a perfume potion for sex magick called “It.” Great idea Aleister, but nothing came of “It,” because the stuff reputedly had a horrid smell!

Before you make your potion, be sure that you have all the ingredients and tools you will need at your fingertips. Following is a list of potion-making tools you will need:

*A ceramic, earthenware, glass, or wood bowl

*A pot, preferably one that is NOT made of metal, for brewing the potion

*A wooden spoon for stirring the potion

*Cheesecloth for straining the potion

*A mortar and pestle for grinding potion ingredients

*A container for the potion

Clean, preferably sterilize, all of your tools, especially the potion container. You can clean containers by carefully pouring boiling water into them, or you can put the container in the dishwasher, running it through the entire cycle and turning on the heat/dry cycle. This also does a good job of sterilizing contatiners. If you don’t have time to properly clean the chalice, cup, glass or other containers the potion is going in, then just make sure that it is as clean as possible. Any residue may taint the potion.

The kind of water you use is important when preparing a magick potion. Spring, well, rain, and distilled waters are better than tap water, which often contains chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride. Well water with no harmful contaminants can be used; rain water can be used as long as there aren’t any pollutants in it; and distilled water can be used for potions, but it is inert. Unless the recipe calls for it, I seldom use sea water or mineral water due to their mineral content.

Witches and wizards make potions by mixing one, two, a few or many ingredients together into one. Sometimes the ingredients are used just as they are. Other times they are ground up, shredded, pureed or crushed with your fingers or with the mortar and pestle. The herbs that go into your potion can be either fresh or dried. If you use fresh herbs, it take three times more of them than dried herbs. For example, if a potion recipe calls for one teaspoon of dried sage leaves and you want to use fresh sage, it would take three teaspoons of fresh sage to make the potion.

Processes call infusions and decoctions are also employed. An infusion, the most common method of internal herbal preparation, is usually in the form of a tea. It can also take the form of magick water. The infusion method works best when the potion you are making requires soft plant parts, such as leaves, flowers or green steams.

When using the infusion method of preparing potions, there are a couple of things you can do to make your potion more effective. One thing is to brew aromatic ingredients such as garlic and clove, in a pot with a lid that fits

on tight. The reason for this is to keep from losing the natural oils of the aromatic ingredients to evaporation. These natural oils are important for the effectiveness of the potion.

Some ingredients are sensitive to heat, so you can make a cold infusion by soaking the herbs in water for anywhere from 6 to 12 hours. A sealed earthenware pot is best for cold infusions. When preparing potions using the infusion method, only make enough for immediate use as infusions rapidly lose their potency.

The method for making a decoction potion is similar to the infusion. You begin by grinding your ingredients into a powder that you can then make your potions. Ingredients that are hard, such as bark and stems, require more heat to release their magickal properties. The use of more heat to release the natural oils of an ingredient is primary difference between the infusion and decoction methods of potion making.

The decoction method would be the one most associated with the traditional use of magick cauldrons. In this way, dried herbal ingredients are ground into powder and are cut into small piedes, and then added to the potion. The potion is made in a pot, and the ingredients are simmered and boiled in order to release their magickal properties. Again in the case of aromatic ingredients, you should use a lid on the pot to slow the evaporation process. The amount of time that you heat the mixture depends on the potion recipe. Usually decoction are strained to eliminate the hard bark and stems before using them.

At times, potions use both methods in their recipe. In this case prepare the two separately as a decoction and infusion, and then mix the ingredients together after the decoction has cooled. By doing so, the infusion ingredients are not ruined by the heat that the decoction process requires. Always stir clockwise.

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A Healing Spell for Physical, Mental or Spiritual Health

A Healing Spell for Physical, Mental or Spiritual Health

Items You Will Need:

Blue candle

A piece of paper (written on it what needs to be healed from the Goddess)

Healing herbs such as calendula, lemon balm, lavender, or mint.

The spell can be done for healing of any kind: physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. It can also be done for a pet.

Light the candle and place the piece of paper you are working to cure for yourself in front of the candle. Visualize you being surrounded with blue healing light. If you are casting the spell outside, you can toss the herbs into a bonfire for extra effect.

“God and Goddess
Grant me healing
Of body, mind, heart and spirit
Send your healing energy
To mend what is broken
Center what has become unbalanced
And soothe what is painful.
So Mote It Be.
 

You can do this spell anytime you have a need too.

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Magickal Herbs Used For Happiness

** HAPPINESS  

      * Catnip  
      * Celandine  
      * Cyclamen  
      * Hawthorn  
      * High John the Conqueror  
      * Hyacinth  
      * Lavender  
      * Lily of the Valley  
      * Marjoram  
      * Meadowsweet  
      * Morning Glory  
      * Purslane  
      * Quince  
      * Saffron  
      * St. John’s Wort  
      * Witch Grass  

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Magickal Herbs Used for Healing/Health

HEALING/HEALTH

    * ( to promote:)

    * Adder’s Tongue
    * Allspice
    * Amaranth
    * Angelica
    * Apple
    * Balm, Lemon
    * Balm of Gilead
    * Barley
    * Bay
    * Bittersweet
    * Blackberry
    * Bracken
    * Burdock
    * Calamus
    * Carnation
    * Cedar
    * Cinnamon
    * Citron
    * Cowslip
    * Cucumber
    * Dock
    * Elder
    * Eucalyptus
    * Fennel
    * Figwort
    * Flax
    * Gardenia
    * Garlic
    * Ginseng
    * Goat’s Rue
    * Golden Seal
    * Groundsel
    * Heliotrope
    * Hemp
    * Henna
    * Hops
    * Horehound
    * Horse Chestnut
    * Ivy
    * Job’s Tears
    * Life Everlasting
    * Lime
    * Mesquite
    * Mint
    * Mugwort
    * Myrrh
    * Nettle
    * Oak
    * Olive
    * Onion
    * Peppermint
    * Pepper Tree
    * Persimmon
    * Pine
    * Plaintain
    * Plum, Wild
    * Potato
    * Rose
    * Rosemary
    * Rowan
    * Rue
    * Saffron
    * Sandalwood
    * Sorrel, Wood
    * Spearmint
    * Thistle
    * Thyme
    * Ti
    * Tobacco
    * Vervain
    * Violet
    * Willow
    * Wintergreen
    * Yerba Mate

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Magickal Herbs Used For Maintaining Health/Healing

** HEALING/HEALTH

* ( to maintain:)  


* Anemone        

* Ash        

* Camphor        

* Caraway        

* Coriander        

* Fern        

* Galangal        

* Geranium        

* Groundsel        

* Juniper        

* Knotweed        

* Larkspur        

* Life Everlasting        

* Mandrake        

* Marjoram        

* Mistletoe        

* Mullen        

* Nutmeg        

* Oak        

* Pimpernel        

* Rue        

* St. John’s Wort        

* Sassafras        

* Sorrel, Wood        

* Spikenard        

* Sumbul        

* Tansy        

* Thyme        

* Walnut  

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HERBAL COMBINATIONS for ILLNESSES

HERBAL COMBINATIONS for ILLNESSES

Healing herbs are often used in combinations when combatting an illness. Herbs are combined to give the benefits needed from each, some to give a boost to others, some to boost the body with healing energies. Below are some of the more popular herbal combinations. The herbs can be taken singly for these illnesses as well, although the suggested combinations are best. Don’t fret if you don’t have all of the suggested herbs for any given combination – use what you have, and add the rest as soon as you can. These combinations can usually be in any form you choose – teas, tinctures, capsules, etc. You will want to use equal parts of each herb, or use more of the herb most needed, with equal parts of the booster herbs.

Remember that in any herbal healing undertaken, diet is also very important. These combinations are not meant to be used in the place of a doctor’s advice. Also realize that you should not take herbs continually over a long period of time on a daily basis, as your body may build an immunity to the herb itself, or you may experience side effects. The exception to this would be when treating a chronic illness, but even then, there should be time off for your body from the herbs on a regular schedule. Herbs are medicine, and should always be treated as such.

Often, when taking antibiotic herbs, or prescription antibiotics, the natural bacteria in our digestive system is destroyed, making digestion difficult (and sometimes causing constipation) for several days to several weeks. To combat this, eat fresh real yogurt daily (not the stuff with lots of sugar and flavors, and make sure it has active cultures), or take acidophilus or probiotic capsules, to restore the natural digestive bacteria. This can also help to alleviate vaginal yeast infections in women.

When using an herb or herbal combination to combat an illness or strengthen various systems in the body, it is best to start with a small amount, and then wait a few hours to be sure you are not going to have an adverse reaction, before continuing with the therapy. Stop any ingestion of herbs at the first sign of any adverse reaction.

This is of course not a complete list, this is only to give you a general idea of what may be needed for common ailments. My book has more information on additional illnesses, and there are plenty of naturopathic doctors available, including myself, to answer questions about other ailments. This listing is not meant to diagnose, only to inform. Your body and medical history may dictate that you need very different combinations from these to treat your specific ailments.

 

ACNE

Herbs Used: Evening Primrose Oil, Raspberry Leaf, Nettle, Dandelion, Lemon Grass     Recipe for Acne Help     Bring to a simmer in a non-metallic pan 2 quarts water, 3 tablespoons Witchhazel bark, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ground cloves; let simmer  for 5 minutes. Then add 1/2 cup chopped fresh thyme, 1 cup fresh chopped peppermint leaves, and 1/2 cup fresh chopped marjoram. Simmer 5 more minutes, set  aside until cold. Mix 1/2 cup of the simmered mixture with 2 teaspoons cider vinegar, 2 ounces grain alcohol(vodka is best), 4 drops lemon oil, and enough  water to make one pint. Apply with cotton to acne prone areas after washing. A good aloe moisturizer afterwards is recommended.

ALLERGIES

Herbs used: Blessed Thistle, Scullcap, Goldenseal, Cayenne, Marshmallow, Lobelia, Burdock.        

Other uses: Colds, Hay Fever, Upper respiratory infections

ANEMIA

Herbs Used: Red Beet, Yellow Dock, Lobelia, Burdock, Nettle, Mullein    

Other uses: Energy, Fatigue, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease

ARTERIOSCLEROSIS

Herbs Used: Cayenne, Garlic, Hawthorne, Parsley                

Other Uses: Blood Pressure, Heart

ARTHRITIS

Herbs Used: Yucca, Comfrey, Alfalfa, Yarrow, Cayenne, Lobelia, Burdock, Chaparral, Black Cohosh, Cat’s Claw, Lemon Grass                    

Other uses: Bursitis, Rheumatism, Gout, Blood Cleanser

CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME

Herbs Used: For the acute phase of CFS, a combination of Echinacea, goldenseal, and licorice. If this combination is needed for more than seven days, add potassium-rich foods and/or herbs to your diet. For the chronic phase, a combination of goldenseal, astragulus, licorice, ginseng, and evening primrose oil. One month on, one month off is the recommended usage frame.                        

Other Uses: The combination of herbs for the chronic phase is being studied for the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis.

COLDS

Herbs used: Chamomile, Slippery Elm, Cayenne, Goldenseal, Myrrh, Peppermint, Sage, Lemon Grass, Rose Hips, Garlic                            

Other uses: Bronchitis, Ear infections, Fevers, Flu, Tonsillitis

COLIC

Herbs Used: Alfalfa, Peppermint, Fennel, Catnip                                

Other uses: Digestive disorders, Heartburn, Appetite

CONSTIPATION

Herbs Used: Aloe Vera, Slippery Elm, Barberry                                    

Other uses: Cleansing, Colon

COUGHS

Herbs Used: Elecampane, Wild Cherry Bark, Licorice, Comfrey Root, Lobelia                                        

Other uses: Hay fever, Sore throats

DRUG WITHDRAWAL

Herbs Used: Chamomile, Ginseng, Licorice, Cayenne, Gotu Kola            Other uses: Endurance, Energy, Memory

EARACHES

Herbs Used: Oil of Mullein, Garlic Oil, or Lobelia Extract drops directly into the ear.

ENERGY

Herbs Used: Cayenne, Ginseng, Gotu Kola  Also add: Bee pollen, bee propolis, royal jelly                                                    

Other uses: Endurance, Fatigue, Memory

EYE PROBLEMS

Herbs Used: Goldenseal, Bayberry, Eyebright                                                         Other uses: Eyewash, Allergies, Hay fever, Cataracts

FEMALE PROBLEMS

Herbs Used: Black Cohosh, Ginger, Raspberry Leaf, Blessed Thistle, Dong Quai                                                            

Other uses: Hormonal balance, Vaginal problems, Uterine infections

FLU

Herbs Used: Ginger, Cayenne, Goldenseal, Licorice      

Other uses: Nausea, Motion sickness

FRACTURES

Herbs Used: Comfrey, Horsetail, Alfalfa, Slippery Elm               

Other uses: Fingernails, Hair, Joints, Teeth

GALL BLADDER (TO CLEANSE)


Before bed, mix together the juice of 2 lemons, 4 ounces olive oil, 6 ounces Coke Classic; drink. Upon rising, take 10 ounces of magnesium citrate (available in drug stores). Do not eat until you have had your first bowel movement. Bowel movements will continue sporadically for several hours, so do this on a day you are at home!

GUM DISEASE

Herbs Used: Goldenseal, Myrrh (both internally and as a mouthwash)

HEART

Herbs Used: Hawthorne, Cayenne, Garlic                                                                 Other uses: Arteriosclerosis, Cholesterol, Circulation

HEARTBURN

Herbs Used: Anise seed, Fennel seed, Peppermint, Cinnamon, Lavendar

IMMUNE SUPPORT

Herbs Used: pau d’arco(taheebo), Echinacea, Burdock, Spirulina, Kelp, Cat’s Claw

INFECTIONS

Herbs Used: Echinacea, Goldenseal, Cayenne, Myrrh                 

Other uses: Colds, Earaches, Fevers, Flu, Measles, Mumps

INSECTS, REPELLING

For repelling insects on skin: Mix 1 teaspoon each of essential oils of pennyroyal, citronella, eucalyptus,  rosemary, and tansy. Shake oils in 1 cup of vegetable or olive oil. Store away from light in a sealed container. Use by rubbing a small amount between the palms of your hands, and then apply to any exposed skin. Avoid applying to the face to prevent eye contact. Reapply as necessary. Discontinue using if a rash develops(some people are sensitive to pennyroyal oil. Test on a                                small area first). Also safe for animal use. DO NOT INCLUDE THE PENNYROYAL OIL IF PREGNANT OR NURSING!!                                

INSOMNIA

Herbs Used: Valerian, Scullcap, Hops                                

Other uses: Headaches, Stress, Hyperactivity

KIDNEYS

Herbs Used: Juniper, Uva Ursi, Marshmallow, Ginger, Goldenseal, Dandelion                                                                

Other uses: Bladder, Urinary problems                                

LIVER

Herbs Used: Dandelion, Parsley, Horsetail, Blessed (or Milk) Thistle, Chamomile, Lobelia, Wild Yam, Ginger,  Sassafras, Kelp            

Other uses: Cleansing, Kidneys, Spleen, Gall Bladder                                

LUNGS

Herbs Used: Comfrey, Fenugreek, Marshmallow, Mullein, Chickweed                                                                

Other uses: Asthma, Bronchitis, Coughs, Hay Fever, Pneumonia                                

MEMORY

Herbs Used: Gingko Biloba, Gotu Kola, Ginseng              

Other Uses: Energy, Circulation, Tinnitus                                

MENOPAUSE

Herbs Used: Black Cohosh, Licorice, False Unicorn, Ginseng, Squaw Vine, Blessed Thistle        

Other uses: Hormone imbalance, Menstrual problems, Hot flashes, Uterine problems

MENSTRUAL CRAMPS

Herbs Used: Cramp Bark, Ginger root, Raspberry Leaf, Yellow Dock, Vitex, Wild Yam

MIGRAINES

Herbs Used: Fenugreek, Thyme, Lobelia, Wood Betony, Feverfew         Other uses: Fever, Flu, Headache

MORNING SICKNESS

Herbs Used: Wild Yam, Dandelion, Ginger, Vitex

NERVES

Herbs Used: Black Cohosh, Cayenne, Valerian, Ginger, St. Johnswort, Hops, Wood Betony                

Other uses: Headaches, Anxiety, Stress

POISON IVY/OAK

Herbs Used: Burdock, Mullein, Yellow Dock (bathing in a peppermint tea bath will relieve the itching as well as aid in drying up the          oak/ivy)                    

Other uses, Itching, Insect Bites          

PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME

Herbs Used: Evening Primrose Oil, Dong Quai, Vitex                    

Other uses: Menstrual regulation, Painful breasts          

PROSTATE

Herbs Used: Black Cohosh, Licorice, Kelp, Gotu Kola, Ginger, Cayenne, Juniper, Uva Ursi, Taheebo, Saw Palmetto, Cat’s Claw                    

Other uses: Bladder, Liver, Spleen

REDUCING WEIGHT

Herbs Used: Chickweed, Licorice, Safflower, Echinacea, Black Walnut, Hawthorn, Papaya, Fennel, Dandelion                    

Other uses: Energy, Cleanser          

SEXUAL DESIRE

Stimulant:

Damiana, Ginseng, Saw Palmetto, Gotu Kola          

Depressant:

Hops, Scullcap, Valerian          

SKIN

Herbs Used: Horsetail, Sage, Rosemary                    

Other uses: Hair, Nails

SORE THROAT

Herbs Used: Marshamallow, Fenugreek                    

Alternate: Cayenne, Ginger mixed with honey and lemon          

STOP SMOKING

Herbs Used: Hops, Scullcap, Slippery Elm, Valerian, Lobelia                     Other uses: Cough, Nerves, Stress

THYROID

Herbs Used: Irish Moss, Kelp, Parsley, Black Walnut, Sarsaparilla       

Other uses: Fatigue, Glands, Lymphatic System             

TUMORS

Herbs Used: Chaparral, Red Clover, Taheebo (Pau d’arco)                         Other uses: Cleansing, Blood Disorders

ULCERS

Herbs Used: Cayenne, Goldenseal, Myrrh, Marshmallow, Calendula  

Other uses: Indigestion, Heartburn            

YEAST INFECTION

Herbs Used: Cayenne, Garlic, White Oak Bark, Marshmallow, Mullein (all mixed together and used as a bolus)                        

Other uses: Leuchorea, Vagina
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Basic Herbal Fumigation

Basic Herbal Fumigation

Burning specific herbs provides magickal and spiritual antiseptic effects. These herbs include: aloes wood, benzoin  resin, bloodroot, cajeput, cinnamon, cloves, dragon’s blood resin, eucalyptus, frankincense, garlic, harmel (Syrian rue), juniper, mastic, mugwort,  myrrh, onions, rosemary, sage(especially white sage), Saint John’s Wort, sandalwood, thyme, wormwood and yarrow. Burn them alone or in any  combination.
Many of these plants also radiate a protective aura: maintaining them as a presence, particularly as living plants but  also as direct amulets, can only be beneficial. Whatever else these plants do (any many, such as frankincense, dragon’s bood and wormwood are extremely  versatile magickally), they alway radiate a cleansing, purifying aura. Although certain methods of our intensify their cleansing effect, those effects are  constant: the more these herbs are used, the more consistent their cleansing power.
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Safety With Herbs

Safety With Herbs

I want to talk to you about Safety. There are a lot of common misconceptions out there regarding herbal healing, and I hope with this to be able to clear some of those up. Safety with any treatment is essential for overall health and well-being, whether it be allopathic or alternative in nature.

Herbs Are Medicine!! They should be treated with the very same respect that most of us give to prescription drugs. Many herbs can be harmful in large or prolonged dosages, as can most anything in this life, I might add. Many herbs can be addictive after long term improper use. Some are poisonous. Some can have toxic side effects if not properly balanced with herbs that counteract those effects. They should not ever be used indiscriminately without the proper guidance of a health care professional. They should not ever be used on a daily basis without the proper guidance of a health care professional. Many people feel that just because herbs are natural, they can’t be hurt by them. Nothing can be further from the truth.

More Is Not Better!! Many people feel that if a little makes me feel better, a lot will make me feel fantastic. This is not the case with herbs. Dosages need to be carefully controlled, as with any medicine. You wouldn’t swallow a whole bottle of antibiotics at one time to kill a bacterial infection. Apply the same caution to herbal medicines. It is possible to overdose! Herbs work slowly, with the body and its own natural defenses. You must give herbs time to work before changing your dosages. In this modern world of a “pill for everything”, folks have come to expect instant cures, instant relief. You should note that with chronic illness, even prescription drugs take time to work. The same applies with herbal medicines. Give them time to work. Support them with a proper diet, with exercise, and with proper attention to yourself. If the herbs aren’t working for you, then you either have the wrong combinations, the wrong dosages, or you aren’t adhering to a proper healing regimen. Contact a health care professional for guidance as to what works for you.

One Dose Does Not Fit All!! You wouldn’t give a small child the same amount of cough syrup you give an adult. The same applies with herbal medicines. The dose must fit the individual. The dosages need to be based on the illness treated, your past and present medical history, your age, your weight, and several other factors. Combinations must be chosen so as not to interfere with any specifics with your particular body, and so as not to further aggravate that which is being treated. A health care professional can help you choose the proper combinations and dosages for your unique body and health concerns.

Tell Your Doctor What You Are Taking!! You wouldn’t hide the fact that you are a smoker or a drinker or have a heart condition from your physician. You shouldn’t hide the fact that you are using herbal medicines, either. Some herbs can have serious adverse reactions when improperly mixed with prescription drugs. Just because they are natural doesn’t mean there can’t be reactions! Many chemical drugs are derived from healing plant constituents. So you could be causing a serious problem for yourself if you are getting far too much of something that is supposed to be helping you. There is no reason to hide. Herbal healing is becoming much more mainstream today, and many physicians are learning about herbs as medicine. If yours isn’t, then help educate him or her. Or find a doctor that can help you work with your herbs. Most communities have herbal professionals, naturopathic doctors, Chinese Medicine practitioners, and other professionals that are trained in the proper uses of the healing herbs. Seek one out before you make some major mistakes with your precious body.

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Obtaining Herbs: Collection

Obtaining Herbs

Collection

Walking in the woods, striding through deserts, climbing mountains or strolling along beaches are refreshing activities in and of themselves. When combined with a quest for magickal herbs they can be exciting adventures.

There are some basic ideas to follow here:

*Collect only what you need. Do you really need five paper sacks full of mugwort?

*Attune with the plant before collecting from it. You may do this by placing your hands around it and feeling its energies, chanting a simple rhyme or a few words that describe why you’re taking part of its energy(leaves and flowers), and/or by placing an object of worth in the soil at the base of the plant. If you have nothing else with you, put a coin or dollar bill beneath the plant before havesting. This represents your willingness to give of yourself in exchange for the plant’s sacrifice.

*Never collect more than 25 percent of the plant’s growth. If you’re collecting roots you must, of course, take the whole plant, so be sure to leave other nearby plants of the same type untouched.

*Don’t collect after rain or heavy dew. At least, not until the Sun has dried the plants. Otherwise they might mold while drying.

*Choose your collection site carefully. Never collect plants near highways, roads, stagnant or polluted waters, near factories or military installations.

To dry herbs you’ve harvested, strip off the leaves of flowers and lay on ceramic, wooden or steel racks in a warm, dry place out of direct sunlight. Or place them in baskets and shake the herbs daily until dry. Store in airtight, labelled jars.

Scott Cunningham

“The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews”

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Obtaining Herbs: Growing

Obtaining Herbs

Growing

Growing your own herbs is an intriguing art. Herbs can be difficult to successfully grow, but when they do, you’re rewarded with a plentiful supply of flowers, leaves, seeds, barks and roots.

Any bookstore or library will have good books outlining the basic steps in growing herbs. Find one and utilize the information in it, taking into account local growing conditions. Most nurseries and department stores stock herb seeds and starter plants.

Magickally guard herbs when growing them by placing small quartz crystals in the soil. To ensure that they flourish, wear jade when watering or tending them, or put a piece of moss-agate in the earth.

When the plant has matured or is large enough, begin harvesting by using the basic system mentioned above. Thank the plant and the Earth for its treasures.

Scott Cunningham

The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews

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Obtaining Herbs: Purchasing

Obtaining Herbs

Purchasing

Many of the ingredients used in herb magick come from far-flung parts of the globe. While I’d love to grow a sandalwood tree on my front porch, it’s just not possible.

So many herbs have to be purchased. This doesn’t lessen them in any way; in fact, the herb trade ensures that plant materials which would otherwise be unavailable can be obtained and used in magick.

Use mail-order herb and essential oil suppliers, you will be able to buy magickal herbs from around the world while sipping herb teas in your living room.

Then again, most larger cities and towns have at least one herb shop or health food store which stock herbs.Check your phone book.

Take care when buying essential oils. If the salesperson say, “Yes, it’s real jasmine oil!” and it carries a $3.00 price tag, it’s real synthetic jasmine oil. Even those oils labelled “essential” are usually the products of the laboratory rather than of the fields.

One good yardstick is price. Most true essential oils sell for between $10 and $40 per 1/3 or 1/2 ounce. Some, such as camomile, yarrow, cardamom, neroli, jasmine and rose can be far costlier. Buy carefully!

Synthetics have long been used in magickal herbalism, but I urge you to use only true essential oils.

Regarding herbs: Many stores can’t be relied upon to lay in fresh stock at regular intervals, so the rosemary you buy may be several years old. In general, choose dried herbs with bright colors, with few stem pieces and with fresh smells.

Avoid all herbs that are mostly stem, that have varying discoloration, are insect-damaged or moldy. Also avoid any with little scent if the herb is usually heavily fragranced.

Buying by mail complicates this process–its tough to determine whether the frankincense you’ve ordered is top quality. Simply avoid ordering more herbs from suppliers who send you lesser quality herbs.

And remember–suppliers are at the mercy of the growers. Obtaining a year-round supply of first-grade herbs is often difficult. So use what you can find and hunt for better supplies in the future.

Scott Cunningham

The Complete Book of Incense, Oils and Brews

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Starting the Herbs

Starting the Herbs

Herbs can be grown from seeds, cuttings or roots.

Seeds
If you know someone who grows herbs from seed, see if you can beg or barter a
few seeds from them – why buy a whole packet if you can get just enough for your
needs? Seeds are easy to work with. You can start seeds growing in trays filled
with potting mix – try using egg cartons, paper cups, cut-off milk cartons, or
plastic trays (try take-away food trays, or the kind you buy cakes, etc, in).
Keep the soil damp and preferably have the trays somewhere where they will catch
a great deal of light and be kept warm. Transplant them into a larger container
after the second set of leaves has formed and the seedlings look strong.

Cuttings
If you know someone with herb plants, perhaps they would let you have a few
cuttings. Herbs that grow well from cuttings include rosemary, lavender, mint,
thyme, scented geraniums and oregano. Take the cutting in spring or (preferably)
summer, using a section of stem without flowers which is at least a few inches
long. The stem should be firm enough that it can’t be merely pinched off. A side
branch growing from the main stem of the plant is best. Use shears to remove the
stem, and make a slanting cut below the lowest set of leaves. If you can take a
cutting which has a ‘foot’ on it, so much the better – this means that there
will be more space for the stem to suck up water and nutrients from the soil.
Remove the lower sets of leaves, leaving a reasonable section of bare stem –
this is where the roots will form. However, you should leave a few sets of
leaves at the top of the cutting. Poke a hole gently into the potting mix and
insert the bare stem of the cutting, then press the rest of the potting mix
firmly around it. Water well, and after the first watering keep the soil moist
but not completely saturated. The cutting will be ready to transplant when it
has started to grow more leaves, or when it has formed enough roots that it
resists being pulled out of the ground when you tug very gently on it.

Roots
Certain herbs grow best from root pieces – comfrey and ginger being good
examples. Take a healthy-looking ‘finger’ of root, plant it in the soil and keep
it well-watered and in a warm sunny place. The root will grow into a healthy
plant, which in turn can have more root fingers taken from it when it’s mature.

Care of Container Plants
I suggest you buy, beg or borrow a good book on caring for herbs in your own
country, as what you should do with them does vary greatly depending on
conditions.

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HERBAL BASICS

 

HERBAL BASICS
By Don Wildgrube ñ 1992

In Herbalism, the definition of herb is not the dictionary definition. Herb
refers to all parts of the plant, whether it is the leaves (dictionary
definition), stems, seeds, roots, flowers or fruit, and each are prepared
differently.

Unless noted otherwise, the rule of thumb for herbal teas are as follows:

1 Teaspoon of herb per cup of water. Most recipes call for 2 cups of water (one
pint) per person or dose. This would need 2 teaspoons, total, of the herb. If
three or more herbs are used, mix the herbs in proportion in a container then
measure out 2 teaspoons. Please note that some powdered herbs are too
concentrated to be used at this strength, for example cayenne pepper and
capsicum.

For regular teas (hot infusions):
Leaves and flowers are steeped. Boiling water is poured over the herb and
allowed to steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Sometimes it is good to allow them to
steep longer to increase the strength, but herbs like Chamomile should be
steeped no longer then 5 minutes or they will become bitter.

Seeds should be bruised and steeped in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes.

Stems, bark, roots should be chopped and simmered for a minimum of 5
minutes.

Fruit coatings such as citrus can be “zested” and added to hot water to
steep. Do not boil or the volatile oils will go off in the vapor. Fruit juices
can be added while steeping or just before drinking.

Teas may also be made by COLD INFUSION, commonly known as “Sun Tea”. Please note that the Sun is not necessary. Just place the herb in cold water, in
the proper proportion as above, and let stand, in the shade, in the Sun or
wherever, for at least 2 hours. This is an excellent method to extract the
essence from very fragile hers, such as flowers. This way the essence will not
be “boiled off”.

Another method is called maceration. This means to soak in a liquid to get the
essence of the herb. It us usually done in one of two ways. The first is soaking
in oil, the result is an “oil”, the second is soaking in alcohol, and called a
tincture.

Oils are made by filling a bottle with the herb, pouring oil over the herb to
fill the bottle. Let it stand for a week or two, shaking daily, then strain the
used herbs out. If the oil is not strong enough, add more herb to the bottle or
jar and pour the same oil over it. Repeat as often as necessary.

The same method is used for tinctures and is an excellent way to extract certain
oils that can be damaged by boiling. Place the herb in a jar or bottle, pour
alcohol over the herb. Note: do not use rubbing alcohol, or wood alcohol. These
are very poisonous. Wood alcohol is made from just that and can cause blindness
and brain damage. Rubbing alcohol or other “denatured” alcohols are denatured by
adding things such as acetone. Use alcohol which is manufactured to drink. I
use Vodka, and I buy the plain label brands or the cheapest brand.

To make salves, put a large amount of herb in a bowl. Add 1 pound of lard or
other semi-solid fat, plus 2 to 3 ounces of bees wax (for firmness). Place in a
low-medium oven, 250-300 degrees for 3 hours. Strain, bottle and cool.

There are many more types of herbal preparations that are not listed here, they
may be found in many herbal books. I would suggest a good herbal book, such as
“The Herb Book” by John Lust. In regard to Herbal Books, some books have very
valuable information, but others have information that can be harmful. Be
cautious, check several sources. Some Herbal Books such as “Culpeppers Herbal”
base their information on planetary considerations, or the “doctrine of
signatures”. Planetary rulership of herbs is useful for magical purposes, but
may get you into trouble when used for other purposes. The “doctrine of
signatures” in essence says that Herbs heal parts of the body that they look
like, such as: Broad Leaf Plantain looks like the sole of the foot, therefore is
for healing feet, or Toothwort and Dandelion (Dent = tooth, of the Lion) is for
teeth because they look like teeth, or Boneset for setting bones because the
opposing leaves are joined at the stalk.

I hope that the above information will be of some help, and happy Wortcunning.

 

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