Recently I was discussing herbal magic with a friend who has begun dabbling in the craft and somewhere in the process of explaining my methodology and the herbs I like to work with I could tell I’d lost her. Her face went from one of open excitement to confusion and near dismay. I, of course, was concerned and had to find out what had caused the sudden change in her demeanor.
“You just know about SO MANY herbs!” she said, “I don’t even know where to start, how do you even learn all of that?!”
At this point, I realized she had some serious misunderstandings about the way most witches go about learning when it comes to ingredients in their craft. After a quick survey of some of my subscribers, I found that she wasn’t the only one! The sheer quantity of knowledge available in this realm seems to be stopping a lot of witches from being able to confidently learn and grow in their herbal practice.
To help you overcome this hurdle, I’ve created this guide and a free worksheet to get you started on your journey into the world of herbal magic!
What Is An Herbal Toolkit?
An herbal toolkit is a set of basic herbs that a witch knows well and uses regularly. Having this toolkit will allow you to build spells on the fly, knowing that you’ll have the ingredients on hand and without excessive research needing to be done every time you sit down to write a spell. The process of creating this toolkit will also help quickly boost your confidence and knowledge in this area. As many experienced witches will tell you, building that knowledge base is simply a matter of repeated use and growing familiarity over time. Nobody learns it all in a day! We all have to start small and build out from there.
Creating An Herbal Toolkit
Often when discussing herbs in the context of magic the focus is on individual herbs and what they’re used for. This approach is good for more experienced practitioners but with beginners, it’s often overwhelming. In this section, I’ll be focusing not on individual herbs but on how to go about building your own herbal toolkit and learning to work with your personal selection in the most effective way possible.
The first place to start is your kitchen cabinet.
Most people have a selection of herbs already available to them in their kitchen. To begin, all you need to do is make a list of what herbs you have. You’ll use this list to begin your personal herbal compendium.
Your herbal compendium can be organized in several ways, I prefer a two-part approach.
A very small pocket notebook is invaluable as a quick reference guide. In order to fill this notebook, you’ll organize it not by herb but by application. For example, you might have a few pages dedicated to banishing herbs and another few pages for love spell herbs. For each herb I simply write down the name and any notes that it may require such as warnings or if the herb has more specific uses (as an example, under Love in my book I have Lemon Balm which is used to draw a new lover and Magnolia which is used to keep a lover faithful). You can add an index to the front of the book and use this to properly replace herbs in spells that you may be unable to obtain or for when you’re writing your own spells.
In your Grimoire
For those who are keeping their grimoire with dated entries, you’ll simply work notes about herbs into your regular grimoire keeping. For those who have sectioned off their grimoire, you’ll want to create a section just for your herbal notes. This is where you keep your detailed notes.
How To Keep Notes On The Herbs You Use
You may not need or want to write down every aspect of a particular herbs uses but there are a few things that you should definitely research and write down.
- The name of the herb as well as any folk names it may have
- What part(s) of the herb is used (varying parts of a plant can have hugely different uses!)
- Whether or not the plant (and its individual parts) is edible
- Any medications the herb might interact with
- Whether or not the herb can be safely burned
- The metaphysical uses of the plant
On top of this basic info, you should always write a small entry about your personal impressions of the plant after working with it a bit. You may find that certain herbs don’t work for you (basil and I do not get along magically!) or that you feel the plant has different or extra metaphysical properties.
These personal impressions are FAR more important to your work with an herb than some cut and paste list of metaphysical properties! Taking note of these impressions allows you to build a relationship with the plant and its energy.
How your own energy interacts with an herb (or any other tool to be honest) has a huge impact on how that plant will affect your magic.
For example, cedar is commonly thought to be excellent for cleansing. If I use cedar for cleansing, however, my house ends up full of errant spirits! For me, cedar is used to feed the spirits and demons that I work with, it may be mildly cleansing but more than anything it’s like setting up a buffet table and opening my door to whoever walks by!
Here are some kitchen cabinet herbs that you may already have and their common magical uses:
- Basil – Protection, Banishing, Money drawing
- Dill – Protection, Love, Luck
- Rosemary – Protection, Cleansing
- Garlic – Banishing, Warding off bad weather, Spell Breaking
- Black Pepper – Banishing
- Bay Leaves – Money drawing
- Vanilla – Love
- Cinnamon – Luck, Protection