Magical Herbs for ~ Harvesting Wild or from your garden
Below are simple examples of traditional witchcraft methods to collect herbs, roots, and blooms you will need for Magical Spellwork. Ritual intent requires a little forethought to increase the magical potentcy of your materials. When you plan spellwork you want to use the herb or plant that best suits your spell. Sometimes wild harvesting is appropriate, sometimes your garden is best. An exception is Sage herb, where tradition is that another person who has grown it in their garden harvests if for you as a gift. Otherwise, wild harvesting Sage is the alternative. Using Sage from your own garden will not bring luck to spellwork.
Herbs are magical substances, infused with the energy of the Earth. The following instructions detailing proper collection procedures have been formulated over hundreds of years, so best results are obtained if the instructions are followed. You can read biology texts to confirm that the varying magnetic effects of the moon on living things actually does draw active chemistry into upper and lower parts of plants. Our ancestors knew much without the scientific research we have used to verify these truths.
The Moon waxes and wanes, pulling with her the seas of the Earth and producing its tides. So, too, does this influence manifest in all living things, including herbs. During the waxing of the Moon, vital energies flow upward into the leaves and stalks and flowers of the plant. As the Moon wanes these energies flow like a receding tide- down to the roots.
To obtain herbs that are highly energized, pick them according to the Moon’s phases. Leaves, flowers, and seeds should be picked during a waxing Moon, when has grown from well past Dark, to Full. All root crops should be picked during a waning Moon, from well past Full, to Dark.
Night is the Moon’s domain. Most herbs are picked after sunset on a clear and dry night. Some practitioners pick each herb only during its own planetary hour, believing this gives the plants added power. You may choose this option, though it is not required.
Determine the appropriate night (taking into consideration the Moon and, if you wish, the planetary day and hour) for your herb collection. It is traditional to fast for three hours prior to harvesting. Gather together your bolline knife, a cloth bag and a piece of bread (home-made if possible). Pieces of bread are buried at the base of plants as thanks (good fertilization too).
Wear a white robe or fresh clean clothes, take your tools to where your will harvest. Remove your watch, also your shoes and socks before you approach to harvest the plant. Bare hands are appropriate, so remove gloves if you have them – beware of thorns when it applies. You are stepping into nature and should be in touch with the earth when handling living herbs.
Carry your sharpened bolline knife (single blade, or sickle) in your dominant hand. In the other, carry the bag and bread. When you find your plant use the tip of your knife to draw a circle clockwise in the earth around the plant, this is a supplication to nature. Your actions are the intercession between you and nature when taking something for your use.
Stand, and touch the blade of the knife to the herb, then recite a few words like these:
Thank you for your gift to me, I will use it wisely and without waste.
In exchange I offer my gift, which is an earth blessing for what I receive from you.
Now you can gently cut a few sprigs, a few branches, or whatever amount you need. Never cut more than 25% of the growth (avoid cutting a very young plant), or the plant might not recover. As you cut, recite a simple phrase stating in plain words the reason why you need some of the herb. For example, if you are cutting a cluster of Violets for use in a love spell, recite your intent for using the herb, similar to the following:
I cut thee, Violet, so that love may be honest when using my potion.
Or.. for example, tool consecration:
I cut thee, Hyssop, so that I may consecrate and purify tools that I will dedicate to my use.
After removing the leaves, blooms, or stalks, bury a small piece of the bread near the base of the plant. This is in payment to the Earth for what is taken in a traditional approach to encourage new growth. If you think about it, this is similar to providing fertilization in a natural form. Again, our ancestors had some knowledge of responsible give and take.
If removing the root (during the waning Moon), dig up the earth surrounding the plant with your knife. Do this carefully so as not to damage the root. When the root is visible and loose enough to be removed, grasp the branches near the base of the plant and pull firmly, shake it slightly if necessary to loosen it from the earth. Be sure to cover your offering with the removed dirt so that you repair the apparent damage. Some individuals will fill the hole left by the root with red wine, a piece of bread, a few pennies, a bit of dried corn and a small amount of honey. Any of these can be mixed together at home and carried with you in a jar. This is also to encourage new growth, though pennies seem unusual. Copper is a significant component of blood and the Earth, providing beneficial effects in dirt that is up to 18″ deep. This indeed serves the intent, and biological studies are available online. Root plants will benefit greatly from your generosity.
Immediately put your cuttings in the cloth bag. Do not allow your herbs to touch the earth once they have been harvested. Ignore any leaves, blossoms or seeds that lie on the ground; these are useless in magick and should be left to produce more plants in the future.
Now that you are finished, take the herbs back home and prepare them for your magical use. See my page about Herb Uses, Lore, and the medicinal benefits of herb uses, as well as Aromatherapy.