#31DaysofWitchcraft Prompt 18 (non)VR to Heather Carter

Heather Carter on YouTube put together a series of prompts titled #31DaysofWitchcraft that she’s been working her way through since the beginning of May. I really like this idea, but I can’t handle the responsibility of any more daily posts, so I thought that for the next little while I would do one (or a few at a time) for the end of week “My Pagan Perspective” posts and work through them a bit at a time.

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18. Do you use herbs and/or crystals in your personal practice? Is so, which are your favourites? And why?

I already wrote about the most commonly used crystals in my practice, so I figured that I would use this prompt to now focus on the most commonly used herbs and plants in my practice.

I would like to focus first on the why part of this question, though.  I use herbs and plants in my practice in much the same way I use crystals. To enhance my intentions, enhance the energies I’m working with, or guide those energies to strengthen their purpose.

Spellwork is like any task.  Say you want to hammer in a nail.   You can use a rock…. or you can use a hammer.  Both will work, but the hammer will be much more efficient and much easier to use.  In this analogy, the nail is spellwork… and the hammer is the crystals and herbs used in that spellwork.

Here is my “short list” of the “herbs” I use on a regular basis in my path and practice. Not an exhaustive list, but my go-to herbs most of the time.  I have included what I most often use these herbs and plants for, but keep in mind this is my personal most common uses for each plant and in no way is anywhere near the full scope of that plant’s uses in in spellwork and ritual.

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The following herbs and plants are those most commonly used in my practice as a whole (and are non-edible either because of toxicity or personal allergies)

Alder – Strength, Protection, Self Confidence, Bravery
Aloe – Peaceful Energy, Soothing, Home Protection, Luck, Lunar Magic, Silencing Rumors
Birch – Energies of Potential and Renewal, Psychic Protection, Purification
Buttercups – Reminiscence, Self Worth, Innocence, Self Love, Inner Child Work
Cascara – Releasing Spiritual or Emotional Constipation, Money Spells, Legal Matters
Cedar – Perseverance, Fortitude, Protection, Cleansing Negative Energy, Warding
Columbine – Love Magic, Life Path Work, Inner Truth Work
Douglas fir – Healing Magic, Ancestral Work, Grounding, Grounded Progress
Fern & Fiddle-heads (various) – Protection, Invisibility, Good Fortune, Exorcising Evil Spirits
Fireweed – Easing Anger, Restoration, New Beginnings, Breaking Up Spiritual Blocks
Foxglove – Protection, Love and Sex, Fertility, Psychic Warfare
Hemlock (various) – Fostering Sexual Impotence, Purification Rituals, Protection During Astral Travel
Hoya – Wealth, Protection, Inward Exploration, Future Sight
Ivy (various) – Self-Love, Cleansing Negative Energies, Abundance
Juniper – Clear Sight, Warmth, Hope, Love and Sex
Maple – Spiritual Healing, Intellectual Pursuits, Bindings, Abundance, Communication
Marigold – Healing Depression, Cleansing, Good Health Spells
Nasturtium – Encouraging Tolerance, Creativity, Independence, Free Thought
Oak – Longevity and Immortality, Wisdom, Personal Power, Protection, Doorways
Peace Lily – Harmony, Comfort, Platonic Love
Pine – Wisdom, Longevity, Healing, Protection, Purification, Banishings
Poison Ivy – Protection, Defense, Repellent Magic
Rhododendron – Intellectual Pursuits, Sussing Out Enemies
Slippery Elm – Silencing Rumors and Lies
Spruce – Resilience, Rebound Defense Spells, Spirit Communication
Stinging Nettles – Uncrossing, Dispelling Negative Energy, Purification, Willpower
Sweetgrass – Attracting Positive Energy, Purification, Cleansing Out Negativity, Spiritual Healing
Tansy – Longevity, Intention Setting, Invisibility, Curse Protection, Safe Travels
Thistle – Protection, Ancestor Magic, Boldness, Self Growth, Uncrossing
Various mosses, lichens, and liverworts – Attentive Understanding, Clarity, Abundance, Harmony

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Also, as a lot of my practice is focused on and included in food, here is a go-to list of the herbs and plants that I commonly use in my general practice as well as my kitchen witchery.

Basil – Peace, Happiness, Protection, Prosperity
Bay – Uncrossing, Employment, Protection, Prosperity, Psychic Boost
Blackberry – Protection, Prosperity, Healing
Chamomile – Healing, Gentle Energy, Harmony, Breaking Curses, Unraveling Unfamiliar Spells
Chili Pepper – Uncrossing, Banishing, Love, Protection
Cinnamon – Energy Boosting, Intention Boosting, Abundance, Prosperity
Cloves – Silencing Rumors and Lies
Dandelion – Healing, Divination Boost, Protection, Encouraging Smooth Cycles
Garden Sage – Protection, Purification, Healing, Cleansing, Luck, Wisdom
Garlic – Healing, Luck, Dispel Negative Energy, Thief Warding, Repel Harmful Spirits
Ginger – Protection, Sex Magic, Prosperity
Lavender – Cleansing, Clarity, Relaxation, Healing Relationships, Releasing Negative Emotion
Lilac – Energy Boost, Balance, Romance, Metaphysical Doorways
Mint – Resolving Misunderstandings, Prosperity, Lessen Accident Proneness
Mugwort – Dreams, Psychic Boost, Protection, Purification
Orange Peel – Prosperity, Success, Positivity
Oregano – Comforting Warmth, Protection, Purification, Vitality, Peace
Pansy – Gentle Energy, Love, Kindness, Self Love, Bright Ideas, Happiness
Raspberry – Protection, Love, Kindness, Youthfulness, Creativity
Rose (incl hips) – Health, Love, Anticipation of Love, Abundance, Emotional Healing, Secrecy
Rosemary – Warding, Purification, Protection, Psychic Cleansing, Repels Negative Energy
Shepherd’s Purse – Healing, Protection, Healing, Renewal Magic
Thyme – Loyalty, Luck, and Dispelling of Grief, Nightmares, Depression, and Negativity

As mentioned previously, these are far from the only herbs and plants that I use in my practice, but they are the ones that I use most often. Nor have I listed all of the possible uses for each plant, just the what I most commonly use them for.

Herbs and plants have a wide variety of different uses to boost spellwork, divination, intention setting, and other purposes.  I use plants and herbs, as well as crystals, daily in a variety of different ways.

I think it’s important to stress, though, that I have training as a botanist that allows me to handle a lot of dangerous plants much more safely than the average person, and that there are a handful of dangerous and even deadly plants on the list shared above that I do not recommend being used by those without the training and knowledge to do so safely.  Without the proper training and care, one could very easily end up not just hurting themselves, but possibly killing themselves, a loved one, or a beloved pet by accident.  It’s always important to research plants used in any magical working thoroughly before jumping in with both feet.

Picking Favorites

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is about one’s talents and preferences.

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Topic for the Week of 8/19:  “Which areas of magic do you excel in or enjoy most?”

One of the hosts spoke on the word “excel” in their video, mentioning that they believed you cannot really say for yourself what you excel at, and that it’s up to others to decide that and inform you.

I disagree with this, as when I’m good at something?  I know it.  Granted, there are certain things I don’t realize I’m good at and I’m told by others at some point.   But, there are other things that I don’t need external input to know I’m good at.  Personally, I don’t think anyone should need external input to tell them what they’re good at.   Those things that I am so good at that I excel at?  You can bet I know what they are, and in many cases I have worked very, very hard to earn that level of skill.

So, on to the areas of magic that I excel in or enjoy most.  For me, these answers are the same whether it is one of the other.  I know that sometimes that isn’t the case and you can greatly enjoy things you are just no good at, or be really good at things you don’t enjoy, but when it comes to my practice… they align well.

These areas are…

Nature Magic –  Specifically, magickal workings that incorporate spellcrafting with herbs and plants, the elements of the earth, and the gifts that nature gives to us. This type of Nature Magic is my favorite type of spellcrafting, and considering my connection with the element of earth and my studies in botany, it is not surprising this is where my talents and joy lies when it comes to magic and spell craft.  Although some people do, I do NOT include celestial influences or astrology, etc into my definition of Nature Magic, as to me, these are a different thing.

Lunar Rhythms – I have already promised you a post about the lunar cycles and how I incorporate them into my life and practice.  In Lunar Rhythms, that is what I am referring to.  It is the following of the moon’s cycle and timing my magickal endeavors and rituals to fit into that cycle.

Cartomancy – For me, my magickal practice and my faith are deeply intertwined with each other, and so, too, is the addition of cartomancy.   This can be Lenormand, Playing Cards, Tarot, Oracle, or just whatever other cards that speak to me (such as Dixit cards).  They are a connection to my inner voice, and a connection to that energy that is at the center of my beliefs and practice.  I enjoy them immensely, and if cartomancy disappeared off the planet tomorrow?  I’d be reading playing cards and immediately begin drawing on them to make my own deck out of them, because it’s just not something I’d want to be without.

Spending time (and savoring that time) within Liminal Spaces – We spoke about liminal spaces the other day.   That space between the plane of Faerie and our own reality.  That space between sleep and wake.  That place you find when you sink to the bottom of a lake and find the moments between heart beats where the world shifts and time stretches.  Those in-between spaces where mystery and potential and a kind of sacred awareness reside. I know that many people find these spaces uncomfortable, and feel uneasy within them or even find them frightening.   But for me?  They are like coming home.  I love them. I linger in them.  I am respectful of them, but yet they are where I feel as if I am… whole.

Forest Bathing – I’m not sure I would consider this magic so much as a part of my spirituality, but it feels like magic to me.  Walking in nature, soaking in the atmosphere and the energy, and practicing a time of gratitude within these spaces?  To me?  That is the absolute best type of magic there is.

 

Making “Florida Water” at Home

Right, so my mother did not call this “florida water”, but I’ve looked at a LOT of Florida Water recipes, and it’s essentially the same thing with a few tweaks.  This version is my mother’s recipe for what she has always called her “Energy Cleanser” or “Energy Spray”.

I thought you might be interested, since you’d asked about spell craft.  This is an example of spell craft, although I will be doing a separate post to go into a better explanation of what that is and how it works later on.

As my mother’s name suggests, this is used for cleansing energy of an area or thing.  It can be used to wipe down furniture or items, to wash your hands, to spray in the air or on items, etc.  My mother uses it on EVERYTHING.   My sister and I are not usually so liberal with it, though, and so we only make enough to fill a 2 liter jar at a time.

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What You Need:

Orange Peel, Rose Hips, Cedar Shavings, Rosemary, Garden Sage, Cinnamon, Lavender, Cloves, Sweet Grass, Star Anise, Ylang Ylang essential oil, and an air-tight jar.  Mason jars work, as will any other type of glass bottle or jar as long as it can create an air-tight seal even when turned upside down or shaken.  Many of these items can be substituted for their essential oils if you don’t want to forage and/or grow what you need.  I simply prefer the growing and foraging method.

You will also need a CLEAR alcohol of at least 80-proof.  I have used rubbing alcohol, everclear, and vodka in the past.   This batch is made with vodka, as it’s what I had on hand at the moment.

You’ll notice in my ingredients pictured above, I’m missing Star Anise.  That is because they were OUT where I normally source the magickal herbs that I’m not either ethically sourcing through nature or growing myself.  Thus, I will be adding it to the jar a bit later.

Once you have all that you need, clean your jar well  inside and out, then dry thoroughly.  Once dry, add all of the ingredients to the jar except the alcohol. I usually add the loose smaller ingredients first, but you can do this in any order that works for you.   As you add them to the jar, introduce them to your intention in using them and, while doing so, set your intentions energetically with each ingredient.

Each of my ingredients are introduced with the following intentions….

  • Lavender – energy purification, peace, and protection
  • Clove – repel negative influences, psychic protection, raising positive energy, and silencing gossip
  • Sweet Grass – energy purification, healing, attracting positive energy, and good fortune
  • Garden Sage – energy purification, wish fulfillment, and creating sacred space
  • Rosemary – energy purification, and warding off negative energy
  • Cedar Chips – banishing and warding of negative energy, creating sacred space
  • Cinnamon – grounding, protection, and success
  • Rosehips – attracting good health, attracting abundance, and promoting peace and harmony
  • Orange Peel – fostering positive energy, protection, hex breaking, and abundance
  • Star Anise (to come) – good luck, protection, calming energies, and increasing intuition
  • Ylang Ylang – clearing of and protection from negative energy, inviting in soothing energies, and nurturing the inner spirit

As you can see from the list above, each of the ingredients has its own purposes, but also works together with others in the jar to create a blend of primarily protective and cleansing properties.

Florida WaterOnce everything has been added to the jar, the alcohol you’ve chosen to use is then added and the container is filled up to its rim then sealed.   After sealing, this is a good time to give it a good vigorous shake to make sure your jar is air tight, as well as to get everything inside the jar mixed together.

Place the jar in a cool, dark place to set for three months.  It is usually a good idea to use a sharpie marker and write on the jar when the mixture was made and how long it needs to sit for, that way you do not forget. I prefer to do this making during the full moon as a part of my full moon ritual, so that I can include that burst of energy into the making.  I have made this mixture during this last full moon so that it will be ready to be opened for the new year, which is a tradition in our family.

It needs to be stored in a cool, dark place in order to protect the contents from degrading due to light.  But, be sure to pull it out each month at the full moon to set out in the moonlight after dark, but also be sure that you put it back in a cool, dark place before daylight.

Once opened, you want to strain the liquid inside through a fine mesh (or cotton cloth) to remove all the little bits of debris inside.  You can then tie up the contents in a biodegradable bit of cheesecloth and bury them to return them to degrade in the earth.   Strain the liquid a second time to ensure it is well cleaned, then transfer to a clean jar.

For use, you add 1 part mixture to (at least) 4 parts distilled water.   DO NOT use this mixture without diluting it by at least a 1:4 ratio or more.  It is very strong and needs dilution to be safe for your skin, pets, etc.   I personally use a 1:10 ratio just to be sure it is safe for Miss Luna to be around.  In my case, I fill a glass spray bottle with the diluted mixture and use it to clean surfaces before spell crafting, as well as to spray on my hands prior to tarot readings.

The remaining undiluted mixture can be stored in a cool, dark place until it’s needed.  As long as it is undiluted and sealed in an air-tight glass container, it will have an indefinite shelf life.