Disclaimer: Note to be certain of the plant’s identity you are working with, and know that some herbs may not agree with you. For example: Although mints are great for calming the stomach, you should not consume mint if you have acid reflux. Mint makes the condition worse. Note that herbs should be used in moderation. If you have a pet and grow your own herbs especially indoors, do your research. Many herbs are toxic to pets if they nibble on them.
From violets to sandalwood to peppermint herbs have wonderful uses in both magick and healing and can be used in a variety of forms: culinary, tea, wash, libation, wreath, bouquet, woven or braided (like a basket or corn dolly), sachet, aspergillam, decoration, soap, incense, smudge and may be strewn. Herbs may be fresh, dried, powered or resins. There are three ways to obtain herbs. You can grow them, pick them wild, or purchase them. Chances are that you may do some of each.
The big advantage to growing them is that you can control the conditions in which they are grown. The big disadvantage is having to wait from planning and planting to harvest. Also, there are some herbs you may want to grow, but the conditions where you live are not tolerated well by them. Much as I would like to, I cannot grow a sandalwood tree where I live. Some herbs can be grown indoors like basil, rosemary, sage, thyme and bay laurel. Some need to be grown outdoors like lavender, mugwort and mint. Many can be grown in containers. Some like to take over like mint and passion flower. I grew passion flower, and after two or three years it grew under the house!
If you want to grow some herbs, the first thing to do is research. This is not only about the uses of the herbs. But will they grow well in your situation? Make a plan for growing the herbs and have it ready around February. Prepare the soil for planting. To make the soil fertile work some compost into it and bury a crystal, egg or representation of an egg in it. Obtain and bless your seeds, cuttings or small plants. You may decide to plant the seeds as early as February. You may plant them in a seed starter tray or use waxed paper cups to plant them in. To learn more see video below. After the last frost or freeze plant them outside.
While you tend the plants talk to them as they grow. This is a great opportunity to instill intention. For example you may say to lavender, “Hello my precious lavender. May you aid sleep.” I strongly suggest that you grow the plants organically.
How do you know when to harvest? It depends on the parts of the plants that you will be using. You may indeed harvest when the moon is full, especially if you will be using the herb for lunar magick. Harvest the stalks and leaves before the plant flowers and before midday. If you are using the flowers, harvest when the plant is starting to flower. If you are harvesting seeds, gather them while ripe but before they fall on the ground. Harvest roots in the spring or autumn. Timing is key.
There are certain things to be kept in mind when harvesting. Only harvest the amount and parts of the plants you will use. Leave some of the plants for later. Do not let the harvested herbs fall to the ground. If they do fall to the ground, their power will seep back into the Earth. Have something to put them in when you are harvesting like a basket or a paper bag. A paper bag is especially useful for harvesting seeds. Ask the plant if it is willing to have the part sacrificed or for all of it to be sacrificed. If you sense that the answer is yes, go ahead. If the answer is no, do not harvest. Honor the plant with an offering. The offering may be a prayer or a little water from your water bottle. After harvesting do an energetic healing for the rest of the plant. This healing would be like Reiki for plants. As soon as possible after harvesting keep the herbs out of the sun and heat. Harvesting the plant properly is a very mindful experience.
If you use the herbs fresh, keep them in the fridge until you are ready to use them. If you dry them, hang them upside down in a cool, dark and dry place. While they dry, they lose moisture and shrink. Therefore, it is better to bind the bunches with rubber bands than with string.
If you forage for herbs, there are some things to keep in mind. First and foremost be certain that you are absolutely sure about the identification of the plant. If the herbs are growing on someone else’s property, get permission to go on to the property to pick them. You may want to talk to the plant or chant as you are harvesting. If you are where others can see or hear you, they might wonder about what you are doing.
The conditions may not be right for you to grow or forage for certain herbs. The climate may not be right for them to grow where you are. One question you might ask yourself is if there an herb you can substitute. If not this is a good opportunity to purchase herbs. Look for organically grown herbs especially if you will consume or burn them. Look for bright color, fresh scent and not much stem. Stay away from herbs that have insect damage or are moldy. If you buy herbs online, first read reviews. I would only buy from a seller who has plenty of good reviews.
Enjoy learning about herbs and their uses!
On the day of this post the moon is a waning crescent and almost dark. This is a good time to banish something from your life.
I will continue to post on Wednesdays and will post more about some of my favorite herbs.
Fox, Selena. “Harvesting Ceremonial Herbs,” Circle Sanctuary Network Podcasts, September 15, 2019, Encore from 2012.
Fox, Selena. “Ritual Uses of Herbs,” Circle Sanctuary Network Podcasts, August 18, 2019, Encore from 2013.
Fox, Selena. “Sacred Gardening,” Circle Sanctuary Network Podcasts, July 7, 2019, Encore from 2014.
Fox, Selena. “Spiritual Herbcraft,” Circle Sanctuary Network Podcasts, September 8, 2019, Encore from 2013.
Sidana, Luna. Wicca Herbal Magic, 2018. Available on Kindle Unlimited and Audible Books.