When we begin we don’t ever truly understand that herbs and crystals hold magic just like anything else in a witches life. If you have a connection to them like I do and use them to help balance your life or use them to make a home remedy instead of relying on modern medicine except when it’s needed then they are for you or even if you have a curiosity for it. I will cover the basics of herbs and crystals and some very helpful books that should be in everyone’s library just in case, and will also give as much information to help someone to get started shall they be interested.
The doctrine of signatures is a philosophy shared by herbalists from the time of Dioscorides and Galen. This doctrine states that herbs that resemble various parts of the body can be used to treat ailments of that part of the body. Although the doctrine of signatures was formalized in early modern times, the theme of natural objects’ shapes having significance is a very old one and is not confined to Western thought. Examples include the plant’s liverwort; snakeroot, an antidote for snake venom; lungwort; bloodroot; toothwort; and wormwood, to expel intestinal parasites. The occasional resemblance of mandrake root to a human body has led to its being ascribed great significance (and supernatural powers) since ancient times and in many places. The 17th-century botanist and herbalist William Coles (1626–1662), author of The Art of Simpling and Adam in Eden, stated that walnuts were good for curing head ailments because in his opinion, “they Have the perfect Signatures of the Head”. Regarding Hypericum, he wrote, “The little holes whereof the leaves of Saint Johns wort are full, doe resemble all the pores of the skin and therefore it is profitable for all hurts and wounds that can happen thereunto.” Nicholas Culpeper’s often-reprinted Complete Herbal takes the doctrine of signatures as common knowledge, and its influence can still be detected in modern herbal lore.
A theological justification was made for this philosophy: “It was reasoned that the Almighty must have set his sign upon the various means of curing a disease which he provided.” The concept is still reflected in the common names of some plants whose shapes and colors reminded herbalists of the parts of the body where they were thought to do good.
In similar doctrines from India, the sage Agasthiar is supposed to have had the capability to converse with plants to thus obtain from the plants which ailments and diseases they, the plants, could ameliorate and even cure disease. (http://www.naturasophia.com/Signatures.html)
When a plant resembles an animal body or part or is especially used by an animal for food or medicine, then it is pointed out to us as a specially powerful and important medicine. This is called a ‘spirit signatures,’ because there is extra medicine power or spirit in the signature and in the plant.
This concept was taught to me by a very wise American Indian herbalist, Karyn Sanders, who now lives in northern California. The second I heard the word ‘spirit signature’ I knew that a whole way of looking at plants which I had not been able to grasp, but which I had sensed intuitively for years, had been revealed to me. I always had known that the most powerful way to arrange and understand herbs was by their association with animals. I don’t know how I knew this, but it is true — at least it is true in American Indian herbalism and we see some vestiges of it in European and Chinese herbalism as well.
When a person dreams of an animal they gain special insight, which is called ‘medicine.’ They now have a special skill that helps the community in some way, sometimes through healing. Thus, when a plant looks like an animal or is strongly associated with an animal — especially if the latter uses it as a medicine — then the plant has extra powers. These are the very powerful plants of our Turtle Island continent — North America. White pharmacologists and ethnobotanists look for what they consider to be power, based on their knowledge of organic chemistry. However, drugs, poisons, and hallucinogens are not necessarily as powerful as simple plants marked with ‘spirit signatures,’ because these have true spiritual power — medicine. This is a virtue to which white academia is blind.
Here are some of the most common ‘spirit signatures:’
Bear. Brown, furry roots, high in oils, spicy and warming, that the bears like to eat in the spring: angelica, Osha root, bear root (Lomatium), balsamroot (Balsamorrhiza sagitatta), spikenard (Aralia racemosa), and sunflower (Helianthus annus). Sometimes it is the seedpod that is brown and furry: American licorice (Glycerrhiza). Burdock (Arctium lappa) is an Old World native which is a bear medicine — root brown, oily, and warm, seedpod brown and furry. These remedies act on the adrenal cortex, to fatten up, or strengthen the parasympathetic, to relax and dream.
The second kind of Bear medicines are found in midsummer when Bear needs to cool off and reduce blood sugar levels. They are the berries: raspberry, blackberry, huckleberry, blueberry, strawberry, bearberry, elderberry.
Badger. Considered the littlest of the Bear family, but very tough and dangerous. Badger is the only animal that will attack a Grizzly Bear. Medicines that make the digestive go downwards in the GI tract, and that look like badgers or people: yellow dock root, rhubarb, goldenseal, American ginseng. Strengthens the autonomic nervous system to create a ‘powerful stomach.’
Turtle. Plants that grow at the edge of the water and solid personify the lesson of Grandfather Turtle, who raised up the first Earth at the beginning of time. Gravel root (Eupatorium spp.)
Elk. Antler-like structures indicate Elk medicines. These usually act on the kidneys and balance male hormones. Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), Florida dogwood (Cornus florida), sweet leaf (Monarda fistulosa), and blue vervain (Verbena hastata).
Deer. A subdivision of the above. Both elk and deer medicines are ‘love medicine.’ Deer medicines are sweet-scented so that Deer like to sleep in them so that they don’t smell like Deer. Cleavers (Galium aparine), Hay-scented fern, and sweet leaf (Monarda fistulosa).
Rabbit. Called “Deer’s little brother,” Rabbit is also lean and quick, but more nervous and needs nourishment. A trickster medicine. Starvation medicine. Wild yam, nettle, bittersweet vine (Celastrus), ground pine (Lycopodium).
Panther. Medicines that induce parasympathetic relaxation (eat, sleep, dream, relax), so that one relaxes like a big cat. Valerian, catnip, hops, cramp bark.
Wolf. Medicines that have a right angle in them, showing that total change is possible, like from Wolf to Dog. Wolf medicine acts on the gallbladder, tendons, ligaments, and joints, and intermittent chills and fever. True Solomon’s seal, Werewolf root (Apocynum androsaemifolium), agrimony, boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), and gentian (Gentiana spp.). Sometimes the remedy has five fingers like cinquefoil.
Underwater Panther. This medicine animal is either a myth like Behemoth, Leviathan, or Sea Monster, or a terrible powerful but usually invisible spirit. Watersnake or Underwater Panther medicine supports the water in the body. These are sumptuous, fat, watery roots that grow the big river valleys of the central part of Turtle Island. True Solomon’s seal, False Solomon’s seal (Smilicina; prefers to be called ‘dragon root’), Jack in the Pulpit, white water lily, yellow water lily.
Cloud. Medicines with a cloud-like structure; they help the particles to slip through the holes and especially assist the endocrine system. Tobacco, rabbit tobacco, lead plant, pasqueflower, vitex.
Spider. Long, leggy medicines that stimulate the sympathetic nervous system like wood betony and lavender.
Snake. These medicines usually look like Snake and antidote poisons: plantain (snakeweed), Canada snakeroot, Kansas snakeroot, Aristolochia, black snakeroot, viper’s bugloss, bistort, rattlesnake master, rattlesnake plantain, etc.
Raven, Crow, Buzzard. This is not the traditional interpretation of Raven medicine in American Indian medicine but follows the southern Afro-American tradition. Antidotes to poisons that are marked with a black spot or turn black quickly after death: wild indigo, lady’s thumb (Polygonum persicaria), black cohosh, black medic. There are others.
The Four Elements
Steiner systematized Goethe’s poetic vision. He defined the organic processes of growth, healing, and disease in relationship to the four elements and the three alchemical substances more clearly than did Goethe. He drew upon the traditional literature of alchemy and philosophy which had long been used to define energetic relationships. Steiner particularly used the four elements and the three alchemical substances to explain patterns of growth and the resulting signatures.
Steiner adopted Goethe’s vision of the urpflanze or primordial plant (leaf/stem) but drew an association between it and the four elements. As Goethe observed, the leaf/stem is the primal unit of the plant. It keeps on replicating unit after unit, unstoppable until the plant begins to feel the need to reproduce. Then the leaf/stem units start to grow smaller, pull together, and eventually metamorphose into flower parts. First is the corona, or wreath around the flower, then the petals, and then the sexual parts. As Steiner pointed out, the creation of the flower represents a force operating against the leaf/stem replication, slowing it and morphing it into something new and different. In turn, the flower is superseded by the seed or fruit, which carries the genetic foundation for another plant to grow. Meanwhile, there is a downwards reflection of the leat/stem unit in the root. This provides four basic plant parts that Steiner associated with the four elements. Steiner associated the ‘leaf/stem’ with water, but a later anthroposophist, Maria Thun, has shown that the stem is truly associated with the air element (and thus with the nervous system); the leaf remains with water. This agrees with Harris, above, who associates Viney growth with the nervous system. The place of the flower, with its relationship to sexual reproduction, should also be associated with air. Thus:
Fire Fruit or Seed
Air Stem and Flower
The relationship between these different plant parts is further explained by Steiner’s correspondence of the four elements with the four kingdoms:
Steiner also showed that there are processes within the body which are mineral, plant-like, animal-like, or fully human.
The Earth element represents the completely dense level of consolidation and physical structure without movement, and therefore without life. Earthly processes are slow and grounded. They provide the primal bedrock on which life is to be built. Thus, the Indian people called the Stone nation the ‘grandfathers’ and ‘grandmothers.’ The root is the Earth element part of the plant because it goes downwards, into the ground, and it interacts with the mineral realm. Thus, plants that have large roots, heavy, thick barks, and powerful structure are Earth plants, like the oak tree. The oak sends down a huge root system which is usually about twice the circumference of the above-ground canopy of the plant. Above the earth, it produces powerful, thick, strong wood covered with a heavy, strong bark. Barks are usually associated with tannins, the puckering agents that provide our astringents in herbalism. Hence, oak is a powerful astringent. It is puckering, contracting, strengthening, and consolidating like the Earth element.
The Water element provided the primordial swamp or urschliem out of which life arose in the beginning of time when the spirit blew like a wind over the waters. Thus, simple cellular life, plant life, and organisms which do not have a nervous system are associated with the Water element. Their functions are simple, with a basic emphasis on sustenance and reproduction. The leaf is the organ of feeding for the plant and it is reproduced again and again to create the bigger plant. Consequently, plants with large leaves that grow without discipline in abundance, like comfrey, are Water plants. Yet, comfrey also has powerful, large roots and has Earthy qualities as well. What it does not have is Airy or Fiery qualities — the flowers are little, hard to pollinate, and seldom bear viable seed. Comfrey grows largely by asexual reproduction: a root cut off and stuck in the ground will grow a new plant. Another Water plant would be plantain, which indeed appears to be nothing but a leaf/stem through much of the summer.
Earth and Water are heavy elements with a downward or stationary tendency, while Air and Fire are light, with a stationary to outward movement. Thus, they represent energies which are quite contrary to Earth and Water.
The Air element represents a force that opposes and brings to an end the constant replication and reproduction of the leaves of the plant. Thus, Steiner associated it with the nervous system in animals, the next development beyond the plant level. The nervous system allows for movement, which is associated with animals, not plants. The root of the word animal means that which moves. It also allows for intellectual movement, for animals do think. According to the Greek and Arabic philosophers, animals think but they cannot reflect on what they are thinking. That property belongs only to humanity.
A plant family in which the Air element is evident, and which has a powerful influence on the nervous system is the Lamiaceae (mint). They contain numerous nervines (Melissa, skullcap, lycopus, rosemary, lavender, wild bergamot, peppermint, spearmint, etc.) They also have beautiful, billowy, well-developed flowers. Thus, they represent Air through their flowers. Another family that represents the Air element in a slightly different way is the carrot or Apiaceae. They also produce some billowy flowers, but not many. Their Airiness is apparent in the ‘stemishness.’ Numerous long stems form to give these plants an Airy, windblown look. And indeed, many of them contain volatile oils which relax the nervous system, especially of the digestive tract.
Steiner went on to observe that in certain plants the non-plant like animal qualities inherent in the Air element not only stopped the development of the leaf/stem unit of the plant, the Watery vegetative part but actually invaded that area of the plant. This resulted in the production of powerful drugs and poisons that act on the nervous system, particularly the alkaloids.
The Fire element is associated with the upward movement towards the heavens, and therefore with the spiritual aspirations within people for the heavenly realms. Thus, the Fire element is associated specifically with people, as opposed to animals, plants, or minerals. In the plant world, it appears in the seed and fruit. The rose family, with its innumerable fruits such as strawberry, raspberry, apple, peach, pear, rosehip, etc., is a perfect representative of the Fire element. Interestingly, it provides some of the best cooling remedies in the herbal material medical; plants that cool and control fire. The rose is a symbol of higher love — with especially human thoughts. But we would also have to include under the Fire element the hot, warming plants like cayenne, sassafras, and turmeric. Fire stimulates the nerves and awakens consciousness.
One analogy Steiner did not make, which I would like to introduce, is that between the elements and the four psychological functions of Dr. Carl G. Jung. These would be:
Earth Physical Sensation
Earth corresponds to the physical body, and thus to physical sensation. Some people perceive the world through physical experience largely, learning from observation and experience. Water corresponds to the emotional realm, to connections with others, to feel connected and a part of something greater than oneself. Some people analyze the world through their feeling primarily. Air is associated with cutting (as in the growth patterns mentioned above) and limiting, in fact, cut off from the greater world without, so that the individual can have his or her boundaries. Thus, it is associated with the faculty that is cutting, separating, and reductionistic, thinking. Fire corresponds to the searching, reaching out faculty of the mind, which search for new terrain and meanings. This faculty jumps ahead, intuitively grasping new concepts and situations — the intuition.
The four elements also correspond to the four qualities. Plato taught the following correspondences:
These correspondences were perpetrated by Antiochus, who wrote the first comprehensive guide to astrology in Greek. It is possible that he was identical to Antiochus of Ascalon, an important Middle Platonist who reviewed the intuitive approach of Plato. (This identification was made by Roman authors, later by Francis Cumont, and recently strengthened by Robert Schmidt, of Project Hindsight, Cumberland, MD).
William Coles, Adam in Eden (1657)
Here are some basics to live by when starting with herbs…
A Good mortar and Pestle, one of stone or metal is preferred. If wood is used
you will need two, one for inedibles and one for edibles – make sure they do not
look identical, as you do not want to accidentally poison anyone!!!
Containers: Although you can buy dried herbs over the counter in many places these
days, do not store them in the plastic bags they come in, as these are usually
neither reusable nor perfectly airtight. Rubbermaid style plastic containers
are good but expensive. I have used glass coffee and spice jars
/bottles to good effect, as well as some medicine bottles. The more you recycle
the better ecologically, just make sure they have been thoroughly washed and
dried before placing anything inside them.
Labels: This is vital! None of us in this day and age can possibly recognize each
herb in its various forms simply by sight. Always label your containers as you
fill them, and if possible date them when they were filled so you don’t keep spoiled
stock on the shelf.
A Tea Ball: A good metal teaball of the single cup size can be very useful in
the long run when you are experimenting, and when you are making a single person
doses of teas and tonics.
Cheesecloth: Useful for straining a partially liquid mixture and occasionally
for the making of sachets.
A Good Sized Tea Kettle: preferably one that will hold at least a quart of
A Good Teapot: for simmering mixtures. I use one from a Chinese import store
that has done me well.
A good cutting board and a SHARP cutting knife, for just herbal work.
A notebook, of some sort to record the information in as you go, both successes and
failures. Always record anything new you try that may or may not work, and also
and research information you get from various sources.
White linen-style bandages: Some ace bandages are also useful in the long run.
A metal brazier, of some sort, or a metal container that can withstand heavy
usage and heat from within or without, useful for several things including the
making of your own incenses.
That’s it to start, you’ll pick the rest up as you go. Take your time studying,
take lots of notes, compare your sources and your own personal results on each
herb and on herbal mixtures of any kind.
Herbal preparations should be made with care. Double check the measurements of the herbs and of the other ingredients. Sterilize all bottles and make sure the instruments you use are clean. Also, make sure you have containers enough for the preparation you make. The straining of herbs should also be done carefully. You can use either a close weave cloth like muslin or a strainer. Don’t use the cloth or strainer for more than one kind of preparation. Store all preparations out of sunlight, preferably in a dark-colored glass.
Compresses are easy to make. They are traditionally made from herbs but I have made some with essential oils. For essential oils, they need to be placed in a base. This is to stop any irritation of the skin. For herbs, soak a soft cloth in a hot infusion. Squeeze out excess water and fold the cloth into a pad. Apply the pad to the affected area and wrap firmly. Be careful not to cut off circulation.
A cream is a base for herbs. It is usually a mixture of fats, oils, and water. Creams should soak into the skin, strengthening and soothing. Traditionally creams were made out of rendered lard and beeswax. Today they are made of beeswax, oil, and copha or ghee. A simple recipe that will make a large amount of cream is 60 g copha, 30 oz beeswax, 200 g olive oils, and 60 ml of strong herb water. Care should be taken to store the cream away from light which can destroy the herb properties.
Decoctions are simply teas made from heavy pieces of herbs such as bark, roots, or twigs. The strength of decoctions can vary. The water and the herbs should be simmered in a saucepan with the lid on for at least a half an hour. Unless said otherwise, decoctions can be drunk three times a day in half cup doses.
Powders mixed with a sweet syrup or glycerin, honey or sugar are called electuaries. They are used internally and usually made as needed as they tend to harden over time. Powders are usually made from dried herbs, resins and roots. Heavy material like barks and roots should be doubled in quantity.
Herbal slushies are simply herbs ground into a paste with water. They can be very soothing to the skin. They also need to be blended fairly fine. A food processor or blender is best for this. The blender or processor used to mix herbs that may be toxic, should not be used for food production.
Infused Or Scented Oils
Oils can be made by two methods. Hot infusions can often be stronger and work better for chunky material. Cold infusions are good for aromatic substances that could be boiled off in hot infusions. Hot infusions can also be made faster than cold infusions. If you use a cold infusion, the oil you use should be heated first to kill any bacteria first.
Hot Infusion: Add roughly 250 grams of dried or 500 grams of a fresh herb to 750 ml olive oil. Place the lid on the saucepan and heat gently 3-4 hours. Slosh the oil gently without spilling now and then while the oil’s heat. When the infusion is done, the oil should smell like the herbs and have changed color.
Cold infusion: Take a few handfuls of the fresh herb you wish to use and place it in a jar. Cover the herb with olive oil and replace the lid. Let the herbs and oil stand in shaded place for 2-3 weeks. Shake now and then and then strain the oil from the herbs. Bark and roots will take longer. Some herbalists use the sun to help infuse the herb. Since both hot and cold infusions must be protected from sunlight once they are done, I don’t.
A tea made by pouring boiled water over fresh or dried herbs.
All massage oil should be made at 2% strength. More than that might cause skin irritations. A good guide is to use 5 drops of essential oil to 20 ml of the carrier oil. Sweet almond, jojoba, olive, grapeseed, and avocado make good carrier oils. You can also use infused oils as massage oils.
An ointment is different than a cream. Unlike a cream, an ointment is a mixture of oils and fats that form a protective layer over the skin that isn’t absorbed. Melt copha, ghee or cocoa butter in a pan and add the herb. Simmer gently for 2 hours with the saucepan lid on. Strain away the herbs and pour into jars while still hot. Ointments parish!
Plasters can be a lot of fun to make. Chop lightly boiled herbs and add them to yogurt. In a food processor or blender make a paste from them. Apply to a pad of soft cloth and press to the affected area.
Boil herbs in a little water until soft for a hot poultice. Then plaster onto a soft cloth and apply to the affected area. Cold plasters can be made of bruised and crushed herbs. So that the herbs do not stick to the area you wish to treat, you can rub a little oil on the skin. Bandage lightly.
Inhalants are very common. They are also very easy to make. Measure out a few tablespoons of the dried herb in a bowl or sink. Pour over the herb boiling water and drape a towel over your head. Breath in the steam with your eyes closed. Make sure children especially don’t drop their face into the water. A few drops of essential oil can be used instead of herbs.
Syrups are good to mask the flavor of bitter herbs and so are great for children. Make an infusion or decoction of herbs in a saucepan. Add honey or sugar and slowly mix until dissolved. Heat gently until a syrup is formed. Store carefully as syrups can ferment or mold. If the syrup ferments, bottles can explode. A tablespoon of vodka or rum can help preserve it.
Tinctures are made much like cold oil infusions. Instead of oil, use vodka or rum. Add the herb into a jar and cover with alcohol and a little water. Shake well and then place the cap on. Store for 2-6 weeks in a dark place, shaking now and then. Finally, strain off the herbs. A little glycerin can be added to help preservation. Some people create tinctures by making a decoction, reducing it and adding it and the herbs to the alcohol. Tinctures can be taken in 5 ml doses, three times a day diluted in a little fruit juice, tea or water.
For tonic wines, buy a good quality red wine. Use a quarter the number of dried herbs to the amount of wine used. Double the amount of fresh. Cover the wine and herbs to stand for 2 weeks. Strain away herbs and take in 1/3 cup doses.
A lozenge is just a piece of hard candy. Any good candy recipe can be used to make a herbal lozenge. Just be careful that the herb doesn’t burn.
Herbalism Reading List
By Patti Wigington, About.com Guide
Many Pagans and Wiccans are interested in magical herbalism. There is a lot of information out there on magical herb use, so if you’re looking for books to guide you in your herbalism studies, here are some useful titles to add to your collection! Bear in mind that some focus more on folklore and medicinal history rather than Neopagan practice, but all are books that are worthy of referencing. Also, it’s important to note that there is a difference between using an herb magically and INGESTING it. Be safe when using herbs in magic, and don’t take anything in a manner that could be potentially harmful to you or others.
Culpeper’s Herbal, by Nicolas Culpeper– Nicholas Culpeper was a 17th-century English botanist and herbalist, as well as a physician, and spent a significant part of his life wandering around outside documenting the many medicinal herbs that the earth has to offer. The end result of his life’s work was Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, in which he blended his scientific knowledge with his belief in astrology, explaining how each plant had not only medicinal properties but planetary associations that guided it in healing and curing disease. His work had a significant impact on not only the medical practice of his time but modern healing methods as well. This is a handy resource to have on hand for anyone who is interested in the metaphysical correspondences of herbs and other plants.
A Modern Herbal Maude Grieve– born in the mid-1800s, was the founder of a medicinal and herbal farm in England and was also a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society. Much like the work of Nicholas Culpeper, Mrs. Grieve spent a great part of her life working with herbs and other plants. Her books, collectively known as A Modern Herbal, provide not only scientific and medical information about plants, but also at the folklore surrounding their use and properties. These books contain information on plants not only from Mrs. Grieve’s native Britain but also the rest of the world and is a worthy investment for anyone interested in horticulture, botany, herbalism, or plant folklore.
The Herb Book, by John Lust– With listings for over 500 commonly found plants and herbs, this book is one of the best known in the field and is probably one of the most complete plant catalogs written today. Includes information on medicinal usage, scientific background and taxonomy, cosmetic use, folklore, and medical contraindications of herbs and plants. John B. Lust (N.D., American School of Naturopathy) is the editor and publisher of Nature’s Path magazine.
Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss– Back to Eden is a classic guide to natural, organic living. Although it was first written in 1939, it was clearly ahead of its time. Author Jethro Kloss ran health centers in the Midwest, and eventually founded a whole foods manufacturing company. An advocate of healthy eating, Kloss wrote about holistic methods of healing and living — including less meat and grains, more veggies and fruits. This book features not only information about plants and herbs, but also a number of practical herbal remedies such as teas and poultices. Be sure to check with a physician before taking any herbal remedies internally.
The Master Book of Herbalism, by Paul Byerl– This book focuses predominantly on the magical uses of various herbs, and author Paul Byerl goes into a lot of detail. While it may not be as comprehensive as some of the other “magical encyclopedias” out there, what information is provided is pretty detailed. Lots of detail on astrological influences over herbs, correspondences with gemstones and crystals, connections to deity, and use in ritual. Although the book does not include a lot of illustrations, it still provides plenty of folklore and background. Definitely for use in magical workings, although not so much for the medicinal information.
Bud, Blossom, and Leaf, by Dorothy Morrison– One of the reasons I love this book is because Dorothy Morrison starts everything from scratch, and Bud, Blossom, and Leaf is no exception. While not an herb book per se, Morrison leads readers through the magical aspects and process of gardening. From the planning stages to planting rituals, she manages to incorporate magic into a step of herb cultivation. Because herbs are more than just plants we snip and use, she takes the time to create rituals for their beginnings and endings. This book is a nice blend of magical how-to combined with advice for gardeners so that even someone who has never grown their own herbs can learn to do so. Includes astrological and magical correspondences, as well as recipes and ideas for use.
Book of Magical Herbs, by Margaret Picton & Michelle Pickering– I first stumbled across this book at a used book sale, and what a treasure it was! The Book of Magical Herbs is beautifully illustrated and goes into depth on herb mythology and folklore. In addition to medicinal and culinary uses, there is also a significant amount of text devoted to folk remedies, traditional magic, and recipes. Interestingly, the book actually seems to take on a slightly Christianized slant, and I don’t think it was necessarily written with Pagans as the target audience. Regardless, it’s beautiful to look at and can come in very handy in your magical herbalism practices.
Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, by Scott Cunningham– Scott Cunningham is one of those authors that people generally either love or hate. While this book is not without its flaws, to be sure, it also has a lot of really valuable information contained inside. Several hundred herbs are detailed, along with black and white illustrations, to include such things as planetary correspondences, deity connections, elemental significance, and magical properties. Just for the sheer quantity included, it’s worth having on the shelf. That having been said, there is information you won’t find in here, such as recipes for how to actually use the herbs mentioned. Comes in handy for quick and basic reference, although for the more detailed information you may need to look elsewhere.
Garden Witch’s Herbal, by Ellen Dugan -From the publisher: “Ellen Dugan, the “Garden Witch,” is an award-winning author, a psychic-clairvoyant and a regular contributor to Llewellyn’s almanacs, datebooks, and calendars. A practicing Witch for over twenty-five years, she is also a certified Master Gardener.” Ellen Dugan’s love of gardening shines through in this book, and she shares a number of creative and magical ways to get in touch with the elements through the practice of gardening. While not a true herbal, in the sense of Culpeper or Grieve, this is a useful reference book to have on hand while planning your magical plantings each year.
American Household Botany, by Judith Sumner- Author Judith Sumner presents a book of herbal and plant used based on North American agriculture. Much of what is included comes from the diaries and journals of early Colonial settlers, and there is a good amount of space devoted to Native American farming techniques as well. Medicinal properties and folklore are incorporated, and there’s an interesting section on how food preservation methods have changed the way we grow and garden. Not a true herbal, but a useful book for anyone who’s interested in the process of how herbs and other plants come to our table.
Yes, even crystals hold there own vibration and you can pour your energy into them as well. Here is some information on crystals.
Using Your Crystals
by Stephanie Pflumm ©Copyright 2007
This is definitely on the top ten list of most asked questions. How do I use
my stones? Fortunately for me, the answer is really simple.
However, you would like to use them.
Working with gemstones and crystals is a very intuitive and personal process.
One set of rules could never apply to all the creative possibilities available
to us. If you are uncertain as to how to begin or what methods work best for
you, experiment, use your imagination, ask others how they have worked
successfully with their stones.
Here are some ways that I have used crystals:
This is how I began working with stones, carrying a companion crystal.
Somewhere along my reading path, I came across a Native American practice of
carrying a stone as a constant reminder of our intricate connections. The idea
really appealed to me and it proved to be the beginning of a very magical
connection for me with the Creator and the Universe.
Carrying a companion stone is very simple. If it is your first one, choose it
using your instincts. Do you like the color or the shape, or does something
about the crystal touch you. Don’t worry about what the spiritual properties
of the stone are supposed to be, look with your heart, not your mind. Then carry
the stone with you, in a pocket, in a pouch around your neck or tied at the
waist. If you are handy with needle and thread, you may even be able to sew a
small hidden pouch along the waistband of your clothing.
I began sleeping with my crystals about two years ago. Now, I find I can’t
sleep without someone under my pillow.
While certain stones allow for prophetic dreams and can allay nightmares, they
are not the only stones that are good to sleep with. If you are trying to
learn about a stone, I highly recommend taking the gem to bed with you.
Knowledge tends to sink in on a very subconscious level.
This is also an excellent way to introduce yourself to a new crystal
companion, since in your sleep, you are your most vulnerable and honest self.
If a stone is to help you manifest change, it needs to know your weaknesses as
well as your strengths.
Power Pouches or Medicine Bags:
By far, this is my favorite way to utilize gems and crystals. I am constantly
preparing a pouch for this or that. One of the reasons I like this method is
it gives me new opportunities to learn about stones working together.
Normally I begin by choosing the number of stones to be included. Because of I
feel closely connected to the elements, most often, I will use four stones.
Thereby incorporating Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. However, other numbers may
vibrate stronger for you, use your imagination and don’t be afraid to
Next, decide what energy or outcome you’d like to manifest with your pouch.
What are some key elements that will bring about your desired outcome? For
instance, in putting together the Abundance Stone Power Prayer Pouch, I knew
that Abundance is the result of many things. Being able to think clearly and
make appropriate decisions – Fluorite; attracting wealth in the form of money
– Tiger Eye; stimulating opportunity and courage – Aventurine and finally to
ensure success – Amazonite.
It’s very easy to expect too much from one crystal. Using a medicine bag
allows you to work on a complicated concept by combining critical energies
from a variety of sources.
Consider adding other materials to your pouch. I have found the new millennium
quarters to be quite magical – especially the quarter with the large tree on
the back. I have utilized that coin in several abundance and growth workings.
Sorry, I don’t remember the state it came from.
By the way, Ozark Rock Exchange does offer customized Stone Power Prayer
Pouches, you can email your inquiry to email@example.com
If you have a sacred place in your home, crystals make not only a beautiful
addition, but can attract some wonderful energies into your spiritual space.
Again, in choosing stones for your Altar, forget what has been written or what
you’ve learned. Choose from your heart, if you truly desire to make a
spiritual connection with your stones, your heart is the best sensory device
you can use.
My personal altar has a variety of stones that I change out as the Wheel turns
– though – there are a few that are constants in my life. At least until I’m
told to pass them on.
While, traditionally, Quartz is considered the master gem for meditation, you
should never limit yourself by the opinions of others. Quartz does make a
perfect meditation tool for connecting with the Universal All. However, for a
novice, it can be a very intense experience. Milky Quartz offers a softer
meditation and can open a connection with the Angelic realms
I and my husband have a lot of different stones that we have picked up along the way, and this does hold true a stone will call out to you all you have to do is listen, feel the vibration it’s like a heartbeat unlike your own…
CLEANSING YOUR STONES
Keep in mind that the stones you buy from whatever source (I found a wonderful selection at a Books-A-Million not too long ago), the stones need to be cleansed of any negativity or lingering psychic clutter. You have no idea how many people have handled the stones before you or how they were claimed from the Earth, but you can probably guess that the Earth was not asked or thanked for its sacrifice.
The stones can be cleansed using several methods. Set the stone in direct sunlight, preferably outside, and let the Sun’s energies do the work. The stone should stay outside for anywhere from one day to a week, depending on how much other energy the stone’s absorbed. The stone should be brought in every evening at dusk. Check the stone by placing it in your receptive hand (left). Does the stones natural energy vibrations feel normal? Once they do, the cleansing is finished.
If you happen to live near a stream or river or maybe on the ocean, you can use the running water to cleanse the stones as well. This is done by placing the stones in a mesh bag, tying them off somehow so as to not lose them and let the running water cleanse them overnight. If one night is not enough, leave it for another.
The Earth can also be used, although this method is much more time-consuming.
Take the stones and bury them in the earth. Remember to mark where the stones are buried! Leave them there for a week or two. Check them to see if they are cleansed. If not, rebury them and wait another week.
If none of these methods are possible, a small ritual can be performed using a bowl of the fresh earth (North), a small basin of water (West), incense (East) and a red candle (South). Pass the stone through each of these elements while asking the element to aid in cleansing the stone of all negativity and unwanted energies.
There are many ways to do this. Work upon any of the four planes can do the job. Spiritual Plane: Hold or wear your crystal while you pray to your chosen archetype.
Mental Plane: Hold or wear your stone while you repeat affirmations or incantations aloud. Or, place the crystal on your written goal so that it may absorb your intention.
Emotional Plane: Hold or wear your crystal while you perform visualization, or do Magickal feeling or identification with fictional character exercises. Physical Plane: Use any of the four elements. Pass the crystal through the flame of a cleansed and consecrated candle of appropriate color (fire); waft the crystal through incense smoke, blow your intention into it, or expose it to music or pure sound expressive of your desire (air); soak the crystal in water which has been charged with your intention; or bury the crystal in herbs appropriate to your goal, or in magnetic sand.
Take care of your crystal once it is charged
Carry or wear the stone as often as you can. Gaze at it and handle it often. Sleep with it under your pillow. When it’s not in use, keep it wrapped in pure silk or linen. These materials act as insulation and help the crystal retain its charge. Keep your crystal physically clean. It makes no sense to purchase, cleanse, and charge a stone, and then let it gather dust. Crystals can be overused. To “rev up” a tired crystal, expose it to moonlight (sunlight is too strong for most stones), place it outdoors during a storm, or put it under a pyramid. If these techniques don’t work, the stone should be given back to the Earth, with thanks for its hard work on your behalf.
here are some basic crystal correspondence:
AMETHYST – Increases spiritual awareness; lifts depression; aids in receptivity; bring calmness to the mind and body. A very healing stone, widely used in healing rituals. Associated with the Seventh Chakra.
AQUAMARINE – Aids in clairvoyance; spiritual awareness; helps the release of emotional trauma. Balances and develops Fifth Chakra qualities.
CALCITE – Strengthens memory, intellect and the physical mind. Stimulates and soothes the Seventh Chakra.
CITRINE – Develops self-discipline; manifests creativity; supports self-will. Some associate Citrine with money. A very powerful stone for some. Associated with the Third Chakra.
FLUORITE – Accesses the visionary mind; protects from interference’s from other energy forces; balances the mind. Associated with the Seventh Chakra.
JADE – Is a Crystal that is highly revered by the Chinese. Jade encourages Dream Work. It is great for achieving emotional balance and accessing your higher guidance.
GARNET – A very good stone for balancing of creativity and sexuality. Accesses creativity and vitality. Healing to the circulatory system. Associated with the First and Second Chakras.
MOONSTONE – Moonstone is the stone of the Goddess. It promotes emotional balance and opens up creativity. It is associated with the Second Chakra.
OBSIDIAN – There are many Obsidians, the two most common are Black Obsidian and Snowflake Obsidian. Obsidian is a stone of Power, it was used extensively by the Mayans. Obsidian promotes awareness, grounds and helps to focus. It is associated with the First Chakra.
PERIDOT – A great stone to wear for Protection. Peridot also raises consciousness and is related to the Heart Chakra – Fourth Chakra. It is recommended to be balanced in that Chakra before wearing on a regular basis as it can be very powerful.
QUARTZ – Intensifies and focuses all types of energy. A very healing stone can be programmed by intention. Associated with the Seventh Chakra and spiritual awareness.
ROSE QUARTZ – Develops joy and self-love. Lifts depression, relieves stress. Associated with the Fourth Chakra
Here are some Crystal books to get your hands on:
Crystals: The Modern Guide to Crystal Healing’ by Yulia Van Doren
Crystal Bliss: Attract Love. Feed Your Spirit. Manifest Your Dreams by Devi Brown
Crystals for Beginners: The Guide to Getting Started With The Healing Power of Crystals’ by Karen Frazier
Crystal Healing and the Human Energy Field: A Beginners Guide’ by Marion McGeough
Crystal Muse: Everyday Rituals to Tune Into The Real You’ by Heather Askinosie and Timmi Jandro
The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall