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Author Topic: Witchcraft: Green Witchcraft  (Read 1549 times)

kaleidoscope.woman

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Green Witchcraft
« on: January 29, 2018, 10:30:44 am »
Hey guys! I'm just starting my research into green witchcraft and herbal magic/healing.  Does anyone have any advice for a beginner? Any good book suggestions for herbals? I would really appreciate it, because it's such vast territory, I don't know where to start! :)

Blessings,
Madison
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Sorcha

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Re: Green Witchcraft
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2018, 04:31:56 pm »
Hey guys! I'm just starting my research into green witchcraft and herbal magic/healing.  Does anyone have any advice for a beginner? Any good book suggestions for herbals? I would really appreciate it, because it's such vast territory, I don't know where to start! :)

Blessings,
Madison
So, herbal healing and witchcraft cover a pretty broad swath of material. Are you looking to cover both magical and medical herbalism or just magical?

Magical herbalism is a little more cost-effective to get into because medically useful herbs need to be much higher grade than magical/culinary use herbs, mainly because you want a greater concentration of the medically-useful constituents and much larger amounts.

For magic, I suggest starting with the herbs available to you in the spice section of your grocery store. You'll save money and space that way and be able to play with a nice sampling. The only non-spice herb I'd suggest getting immediately is lavender.

But, I'd also suggest doing some research on which herbs sound useful to you before you run out and buy a bunch, otherwise you'll spend a bunch of money for herbs that'll just chill on your shelf. My jar of mullein leaves that has languished for like five years can attest to this. Make a list of maybe 5-10 herbs you want to work with for starters.

For medicinal herbalism, I like anything by Rosemary Gladstar, but her Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide is great if you're a total newbie. It covers 33 basic herbs and gives you a bunch of simple recipes. Most if not all of the herbs also have magical uses.

Getting some general plant field guides and a guide to your region's medicinal plants or to local foraging is a good idea.

For magical herbalism, Scott Cunningham is a classic resource. His herbal encyclopedia and book on incenses, oils, and brews would be a good start. His take is religiously nonspecific.

I also have Catherine Yronwode's book on hoodoo herbalism and have started comparing her notes with Cunningham. It's an interesting project.

I recently also ordered The Book of Kitchen Witchery by Cerridwen Greenleaf and while I haven't had a chance to really read it, a cursory flip-through tells me it might be what you're looking for.

Aside from this, just use herbs. Cook with them. Smell them. Touch them. Taste them. When you're outside, notice how different plants grow and where. Identify your local weeds and look up their medicinal and magical uses. FIND OUT YOUR LOCAL POISONOUS/IRRITATING ONES FIRST. Keep some notes somewhere on your impressions. If your intuition is different than the books, try both.

Herbalism is a blast. Have fun!


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Jenett

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Re: Green Witchcraft
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2018, 06:49:43 pm »
Hey guys! I'm just starting my research into green witchcraft and herbal magic/healing.  Does anyone have any advice for a beginner? Any good book suggestions for herbals? I would really appreciate it, because it's such vast territory, I don't know where to start! :)

Blessings,
Madison

Besides Sorcha's comments, a few others:

1) I always suggest starting with culinary herbs (for a reasonably expansive definition of 'culinary' that includes things like lavender)

They're a lot easier to come by, there are fewer safety issues (though more than none), there are tons of recipes out there that use them, and many of them are really useful for a variety of magical and medicinal uses.

2) Check carefully not just for herbal safety, but interactions and contraindications for any medications and medical conditions.

You'll need to do this for anything beyond the most routine culinary stuff in multiple places: this is information that can get outdated very quickly, so don't assume a book on herbalism will have all of it. I usually start with the Mountain Rose Herbs guides, which generally at least give an idea of major issues. (You can get there by clicking on the herbs they carry: here's licorice as an example, which can be a problem for people with low blood pressure, or people on treatments for it, among other things.)

This isn't just for 'there might be a risk with the herb' but there's a lot of stuff out there that's fairly commonly taken in the population at large where you don't want to do things that interrupt the efficacy, or that are processed through an overloaded function of the liver or something like that. (This is the same set of reasons you see warnings about grapefruit and statins, for example.)

Because meds are changing all the time, and we learn more about them all the time, keeping up can be tricky. Basically, anything that's in print (i.e. a physical book or pamphlet) could be outdated.

And of course, absolutely tell other people what's in what you're giving them and any relevant warnings if you're sharing: there's a whole host of stuff, including some culinary herbs in more medicinal doses, that are not a great idea in pregnancy, for example.

3) For more detailed medicinal stuff, besides the Rosemary Gladstar rec, I really like Matthew Wood's books. His Earthwise Herbal volumes are very very dense with information.
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Sorcha

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Re: Green Witchcraft
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2018, 06:52:02 pm »
Besides Sorcha's comments, a few others:

1) I always suggest starting with culinary herbs (for a reasonably expansive definition of 'culinary' that includes things like lavender)

They're a lot easier to come by, there are fewer safety issues (though more than none), there are tons of recipes out there that use them, and many of them are really useful for a variety of magical and medicinal uses.

2) Check carefully not just for herbal safety, but interactions and contraindications for any medications and medical conditions.

You'll need to do this for anything beyond the most routine culinary stuff in multiple places: this is information that can get outdated very quickly, so don't assume a book on herbalism will have all of it. I usually start with the Mountain Rose Herbs guides, which generally at least give an idea of major issues. (You can get there by clicking on the herbs they carry: here's licorice as an example, which can be a problem for people with low blood pressure, or people on treatments for it, among other things.)

This isn't just for 'there might be a risk with the herb' but there's a lot of stuff out there that's fairly commonly taken in the population at large where you don't want to do things that interrupt the efficacy, or that are processed through an overloaded function of the liver or something like that. (This is the same set of reasons you see warnings about grapefruit and statins, for example.)

Because meds are changing all the time, and we learn more about them all the time, keeping up can be tricky. Basically, anything that's in print (i.e. a physical book or pamphlet) could be outdated.

And of course, absolutely tell other people what's in what you're giving them and any relevant warnings if you're sharing: there's a whole host of stuff, including some culinary herbs in more medicinal doses, that are not a great idea in pregnancy, for example.

3) For more detailed medicinal stuff, besides the Rosemary Gladstar rec, I really like Matthew Wood's books. His Earthwise Herbal volumes are very very dense with information.
I second Matthew Wood and Mountain Rose Herbs. Both excellent. And everything else Jenett said.

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TheGreenWizard

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Re: Green Witchcraft
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2018, 08:03:01 pm »
Hey guys! I'm just starting my research into green witchcraft and herbal magic/healing.  Does anyone have any advice for a beginner? Any good book suggestions for herbals? I would really appreciate it, because it's such vast territory, I don't know where to start! :)

Blessings,
Madison

Welcome - I completely agree with everything that Jenett said (hint: she's really good at connecting people with resources, and guiding them to the right direction).

Regarding advice:

There is little difference in terms of magical power between fresh and dried herbs; both have the energy within them, and if you need to choose, follow your preference. Though I will say that growing your own herbs allows you to have more of a connection with the plant, and possibly increase its energy. On the flip side, medicinally, you'll need to use more fresh herbs than the dried - which makes sense because the latter concentrates the various chemicals that give the herb its medicinal values.

If possible, use organic herbs when possible for obvious reasons, or try to grow your own. Obviously, this depends on your living situation, but indoor/outdoor herbal growing can be quite soothing especailly after a long day at work!

Keep an herb diary, and try your herbs in different ways - but make sure to follow proper preparation procedures. I highly recommend getting a reference book that states how to prepare each herb. I remember distinctly in my high school years that we had such a book in my high school library, and I am kicking myself for not writing the damn title down. It was a thick tome and each page described the herb, how it should be prepared in the different ways, and had sections on what each preparation does. I want to say it had a white cover with plants and flowers on the front... GAH! Back on track: have a herb diary, try preparing herbal tinctures, tisanes, oil infusions, salves, etc and see how well they work and taste (if proper).
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SunflowerP

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Re: Green Witchcraft
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2018, 09:22:45 pm »
I remember distinctly in my high school years that we had such a book in my high school library, and I am kicking myself for not writing the damn title down. It was a thick tome and each page described the herb, how it should be prepared in the different ways, and had sections on what each preparation does. I want to say it had a white cover with plants and flowers on the front...

Might it possibly have been The Complete Book of Herbs by Lesley Bremness? It doesn't quite fit your description (it's a large tome, but not all that thick relative to height/width), and doesn't seem (from a quick look at my copy) to cover multiple preparations, but it comes kind of close.

Alternately, Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs has a cover that fits your description, and is a thicker book.

Both are classics, in much the way the Rosemary Gladstar book recommended by others is (I was amused to see the three grouped in Amazon's 'often bought together' promo; I've no doubt it's true). Of course, that means Jenett's advice about double-checking in the most up-to-date resources regarding safety, interactions, contraindications, etc, is especially important.

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TheGreenWizard

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Re: Green Witchcraft
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2018, 09:42:13 pm »
Might it possibly have been The Complete Book of Herbs by Lesley Bremness? It doesn't quite fit your description (it's a large tome, but not all that thick relative to height/width), and doesn't seem (from a quick look at my copy) to cover multiple preparations, but it comes kind of close.

Alternately, Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs has a cover that fits your description, and is a thicker book.

Both are classics, in much the way the Rosemary Gladstar book recommended by others is (I was amused to see the three grouped in Amazon's 'often bought together' promo; I've no doubt it's true). Of course, that means Jenett's advice about double-checking in the most up-to-date resources regarding safety, interactions, contraindications, etc, is especially important.

Sunflower

The Complete Book of Herbs looks vaguely familiar, but after looking inside the book with the help of the preview feature, it's not quite it. I think I remember there being symbols near the names as well that correlated with what preparation method to use best for the herb. (Though I am positive I have read this particular book before!).

Both suggestions tickled something in the back of my head and I looked up Encyclopedia of Medicinal plants on a whim... and sure enough!!! It's this one:

The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants: A Practical Reference Guide to over 550 Key Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses by Andrew Chevallier.
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SunflowerP

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Re: Green Witchcraft
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2018, 07:42:50 pm »
Both suggestions tickled something in the back of my head and I looked up Encyclopedia of Medicinal plants on a whim... and sure enough!!! It's this one:

Oh, I'm glad that, even though my suggestions weren't the right book, they successfully led you to it!

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