This week’s Pagan Blog Prompt is ‘Magical Herbs’. With the insanely mild winter we’ve had here, gardening has been the topic of choice for quite a few of my freinds, Pagan and otherwise. The questions for this week’s prompt are:
Do you use herbs in your practice?
Do you grow them or purchase them from someone else?
What are your favorite herbs to work with?
I actually do use herbs in my practice. I tend to use herbs in one of a few ways: to make incense, to burn whole (like in a smudge stick) or in powdered form over charcoal (for meditation/setting a mood for ritual), or in things like dream pillows, dollies, and the like. I have also used them in oils and other ‘potions’, tinctures and for medicinal purposes.
Our teaching circle hosted an incense-making workshop last year and since then, I have discovered the unparalleled superiority of using handcrafted incense over store-bought incense. There is no comparison, both in flavor and result – handcrafted is better in every way. I use honey and dried fruit to bind my herbs and resins; depending on how fine I need my herbs, I either crush them in mortar or use an electric grinder to powder them. Slipping resins into the freezer for a bit before grinding makes them less ‘gummy’ and easier to work with to make incense. My current favorite incense is a lavender and orange peel blended with myrrh. I add the powdered herbs to a bit of honey and sometimes dried fruit to make pellets. Then I burn them on charcoal bricks in white oak ash. The combination is light, smokeless and very rich.
I don’t do a lot of spellwork; generally speaking, most the herbs I burn are in incense form. But occasionally I do burn whole dried herbs, or use them in other things. I have cedar, pine and magnolia in my yard and have made smudge sticks from them. The smell is so reminiscent of autumn and campfires – it’s very peaceful to me. I have used herbs to made dream pillows for my children, though, and made witch balls for my circle mates at Yule last year. I also tend to lump resins in with my herbcraft; I use dragon’s blood, amber, frankincense and myrrh fairly often. Dragon’s Blood and Juniper berry makes a lovely scent when burned, and amber resin melted in coconut oil makes an amazing perfume oil.
Depending on which deity I am communing with, I burn herbs that are associated with him/her to foster the connection. I am partial to Sekhmet, and found a recipe for Kyphi incense that I am collecting ingredients to make.
As for obtaining herbs, I tend to purchase them. As much as I would like to grow them myself, I lack talent for making things grow.. I do gather them when I can; I have some things growing wild in my yard and attempt each year to create a garden – but those endeavors have fallen flat so far. I am putting a little bit more planning into my garden this year; hopefully with better results. We’ll be starting an herb garden indoors soon!
If you enjoyed reading this post, consider clicking through to the PGP post and reading what some of the other bloggers have said about their use of herbs.