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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Indoor Herbs

Indoor Herbs

Indoor plants need a lot of light; most of them will prefer a good 6-8 hours of
natural sunlight per day, so try to position them near windows or under skylights. If you can’t get enough natural light for them, consider installing a
grow-light. Most herbs prefer humid surroundings, so if the air in your house is
dry, keep a little mister nearby and use it regularly. They like it warm, but
keeping them right near a heater, stove or heating duct will be far too dry for
them. One of the best places for culinary herbs is your kitchen windowsill,
where they’ll get some sunlight and will be near the tap to be watered
regularly.

Herbs which can be grown indoors include mint, basil, lavender, scented
geranium, sage, rosemary, chives, sage, lemon verbena, thyme, parsley, marjoram.

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February 12 – Daily Feast

February 12 – Daily Feast

The Cherokee can agree with Sir Francis Drake when he wrote about the herb garden, “A perfect garden planted with herbs, when trod upon gives the very air a delightful fragrance.” But to the Cherokee it meant even more – food and medicine. As a child, I spent much time following my Grandmother Essie in search of herbs, mullein, lamb’s quarter and other things I hoped I wouldn’t have to eat in greens, but the hunt was a joy. Kneeling to dig the herbs, feeling the soil and the warmth of the sun, gave me the realization that the plants were only a part of a gift from Asga Ya Galun lati. I was also being given the day to enjoyment, the songs of dozens of birds, the little meal I shared with Grandmother, and her company away from others.

~ A Cherokee woman is never idle and has no time to tattle or to create mischief. ~

WILLIAM FYFFE

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

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Yarrow Love Spell

Yarrow Love Spell

Take the leaves of the yarrow, which has qualities that comfort, heal, and protect; and tickle the inside of the nostrils, murmuring to yourself this old country charm:

Green yarrow, green yarrow,

you bear a white bow;

if you love me, love me,

my nose will bleed now;

If my love don’t love me;

it won’t bleed a drop,

if my love do love me,   ‘

twill bleed every drop.

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Let’s Talk Witch – Herbal Preparations

Witchy Comments & Graphics

Let’s Talk Witch – Herbal Preparations

An herbalist’s definition of an herb differs from that of a botanist. The botanist defines an herbaceous plant as one with a fleshy stem that dies back in the winter. The herbalist, however, considers all medicinal and cosmetic plants as <!=-1″>herbs. This broad definition of <!=-1″>herbs includes trees, shrubs, mushrooms, lichens and, of course, fruits and vegetables that have medicinal properties. In many of my recipes, you will find items that you consider food rather than herbs, such as apple juice or <!=214″>shiitake mushrooms.

There are countless different herbs and combinations of herbs that are used for health and healing. But even the most potent herb can become worthless if not properly prepared. Fortunately, there are only a few basic kinds of preparations that are used in treating illnesses and wounds herbally; these are the delivery systems for the healing powers of <!=-1″>herbs.

These preparations transform dried or fresh herbs into something that can be taken internally, such as a tea or capsule, or applied externally, as in a skin salve or a massage oil. In many cases, more than one preparation is applicable for a specific treatment.

Some preparations, such as tinctures and body oils, can be made from either fresh or dried <!=-1″>herbs. The best method for extracting an herb’s properties varies from herb to herb. For example, <!=222″>Saint-John’s-wort, oat berries and <!=99″>feverfew lose most of their properties when dried. A significant portion of the <!=-59″>essential oils in fragrant herbs such as <!=183″>peppermint and <!=61″>chamomile is lost in even the most careful drying process. On the other hand, herbs that contain a great deal of water-<!=75″>comfrey and <!=54″>calendula flowers, for example-are sometimes best when used in dried form; otherwise, the final product will be too diluted.

Whenever one type of preparation is better than another to treat a specific condition, the reason is explained in that chapter. For example, if an <!=13″>aloe vera lotion is better for a burn than a salve is, you will find out why this is so.

Most of these preparations can be bought ready-made from natural food stores-either as individual herbs or in blends of several different herbs. If you feel ambitious enough to make your own concoctions, I have also provided a number of recipes. When deciding which preparation is the most suitable for you, consider availability, cost, convenience and, of course, effectiveness.

Many herbal recipes will use as their basic ingredient not herbs, but <!=-59″>essential oils derived from <!=-1″>herbs. These oils carry many medicinal properties of the herbs from which they are extracted. They are easy to use but are also highly concentrated, so they must be diluted and used moderately to prevent overdoses. As a result, they are mostly used externally, and appropriate cautions are given throughout this book. Do not confuse <!=-59″>essential oils with vegetable oils such as olive oil, which are used as carrier oils in skin products.

Treatments are divided into internal preparations and external preparations, as the nature of the ailment generally determines the nature of the treatment.

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Making Your Own Incense

Making Your Own Incense

Things You’ll Need

Herbs, woods and resins
Mortar and pestle
Makko
Bamboo sticks
Gloves

Incense is used in many cultures for purposes such as accents in religious ceremonies or aromatherapy. The process to make incense sticks is fairly simple and can be very rewarding to those interested in creating their own scent.

1. Decide what kind of incense you want to make and purchase the proper ingredients and supplies.

2. Research different incense recipes based on the scents and herbs that you prefer and gather these materials along with tools to prepare to make stick incense.

You will need at least 3 ingredients: an herb, a resin and a wood. You will also need binding materials such as gum Arabic, makko (an incense powder ingredient derived from tree bark), and charcoal to make the mixture combustible.

3. Gather your ingredients, according to your preferred scent strength, along with bamboo sticks and prepare to mix.

4. Crush your herbs or solid ingredients in equal parts to make a smooth powder. Use a mortar and pestle for best results.

5. Combine all dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed. Add makko.

6. Allow the mixture to sit overnight.

7. Prepare distilled water or fragrant hydrosol and add to your incense mixture slowly.

The mixture will need to be pliable, not runny and able to adhere to the bamboo sticks.

8. Knead the incense dough thoroughly.

9. Roll your mixture onto the bamboo sticks, allowing the mixture to coat the stick evenly.

10. Lay the sticks on a drying rack to enable them to dry evenly.

11. Allow your incense sticks to dry for 1 to weeks prior to attempting to use them.

Tips

Keep incense sticks out of direct sunlight and heat while they are drying.

Experiment with different herb, wood and resin combinations until you obtain a mixture that is most pleasing to you. Also, try other methods of incense making to become familiar with the mixing process and learn how to use the ingredients.

Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands while you mix ingredients and form them onto incense sticks.

Depending upon which scent you choose, sandalwood versus frankincense for instance, you may need only 10% of makko added to the mixture.

Break up incense sticks that didn’t produce the expected end result and try the process again.

Warnings

Never attempt to dry incense by baking or microwaving it as this creates a fire hazard.

Don’t allow incense to burn unattended. Always burn incense in a well-ventilated area away from pets and children.

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