Herbs are used for a great many purposes in life. They can be used for cooking, cosmetics, medicine and ornamentation. Also all types of herbs/flowers are used for essential oils, incenses and aromatherapy.
These are all a large part of Wicca and witchcraft. As you study and move on in spell craft as well as self exploration you will need to have as much knowledge as you can acquire in the field of Herbalism. You need to know which incenses to use during your rituals and spells, what scent will help in anointing your candle or which herbal tea for relaxation or for luck.
In this beginning post, there will be just an explanation of how the herbs are used for healing. As I proceed with my posts to my Book of Shadows, I will begin to include other areas of Herbalism as well as aromatherapy and nutrition. I will also put up a list of some of the more commonly used herbs what they can be used for.
Any knowledge that can be achieved on your own in this area will only help you to advance faster later on. Don’t hesitate to begin to study into as many herbs, flowers and plants as you may have a chance to read about. Also include learning about the different uses for each and the ways that they are prepared and growing instructions if possible.
Never be afraid to try something new. If you are offered the opportunity to try something, don’t hesitate to experiment, learn and grow. You will only achieve enrichment in your life if you are willing to spend as much time as you can to exploration of the unknown.
Herbs have been part of every culture and medical tradition since the earliest humans walked the Earth. They are used for treatment of everything from colds to digestive issues to depression. These same herbs have magickal properties and are used in spell casting; for infusion into teas, for incense to disperse the scent into the air, to anoint candles or other tools of the craft and in food to eat for the pleasure of the Deities.
You may be surprised to learn that the herbs you have been regularly using to infuse your food with appetizing flavors have amazing healing abilities as well as other magickal uses. They are easily grown in your own home so you can have them on hand to use whenever you may need them.
Some things to remember when using herbs for healing are:
- Not all herbs are edible–make sure you know which ones are poisonous.
- (All of the ones listed here are; of course, edible)
- When making infusion oils to be used in food/drinks
- DO NOT use petroleum based oils like baby oil or mineral oil.
To best extract the essential oils in the herbs it is necessary to infuse them for ten to fifteen minutes for tea preparations and for about a month for cold oil preparations.
Herbal Tea Recipes
Aside from use in cooking, herbs can be used to make aromatic potent teas. You may use the herbs individually or experiment with combination’s to use for multiple reasons at once. For example, to make a tea that soothes digestion and prevents bloating: Steep 1 teaspoon each of mint, rosemary, oregano, cilantro, sage and basil and in a cup of hot water for ten to fifteen minutes.
Growing Your Own Herbs
To grow your own herbs, all you need is some terra cotta pots with drainage holes, high-quality organic potting soil, and a window sill that gets at least six hours of light per day. A southwesterly window is your best choice for good light. If this isn’t possible, you can get a few clamp-on reflector lights with compact fluorescent bulbs and place them about six inches away from the plant.
Keep in mind that over watering is the biggest mistake people make when trying to grow herbs inside. The rule of thumb is to let the herbs dry out completely, and then water. With a little bit of practice and trial/error you will figure out what is working best for your plants and for you.
Making Infusions and Infused Oils
Infusions are teas made by combining fresh or dried herbs with boiled but not boiling water until the
essential oils are released into the water.
Since different herbs have different strengths, you will have to adjust the amount of herb you are using dependent upon that particular herb’s strength. Also, you may need more fresh herbs than you do of dried herbs; however, also remember that store bought dried herbs may not have as many essential oils in them as fresh or home dried herbs will have. A good example is the difference between the mints and parsley. Obviously you would need less mint in this case.
- Add a couple of teaspoons of your chosen herbs to a tea pot or glass container.
- Poor water that has just reached boiling or has sat off of heat until boil has ended over the herbs.
- Cover container and allow to steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Strain into a cup and enjoy while still hot.
- Drink tea 3 to 4 times daily.
Infused Oils are natural oils such as olive oil mixed with herbs that have steeped for a period of time to
extract those essential oils.
These infused oils can be used for salves, balms, for anointing magickal tools such as candles and even in pesto or for cooking. They are subtler than full strength essential oils so they can be used directly in topical solutions. They can be saved for use later on in tightly closed jars up to a year
For hot infused oils
- Combine about 1 cup of dried or 2 cups of fresh herbs with about 3 cups of olive oil in double boiler.
- Heat slowly in double boiler for about 3 hours.
- Strain through cheesecloth or coffee filter in strainer basket into dark colored bottles and close tightly.
- Allow to cool completely before use.
For cold infused oils
- Pack fresh herbs into a jar and poor in olive oil until the herbs are covered completely.
- Cover the jar tightly and set it on a shelf that is not in direct sun.
- Daily pick up the jar and gently turn it over about two or three times then put it back.
- Leave for about 4 to 6 weeks then strain the oil through cheesecloth or coffee filter in strainer basket and it is ready to use.
A Few More Tips
- Make sure your herbs are clean and dry before you start.
- Wet herbs can draw mold.
- If you notice mold growing, throw out the mixture and start over.
- Any FOOD based oil can be used depending on what your intended outcome is.
- Cold-Pressed Olive Oil is the best to use.
- Once again, DO NOT use petroleum based oils.
- Be certain about the uses of your herbs and plants before you start.
- Know which ones are poisonous.
- Wear gloves before handling.
- Keep them away from food preparation areas, children and pets.
- It is okay to use recycled containers.
- Use wine bottles with clean dry corks.
- Old jelly jars with a good fitting lid.
- Make sure they are clean, dry and have a tight fitting top.
- Do not use plastic for infusing or for storing your oils.
- Moisture in your jars can also cause mold to form in the infusion.
- Make sure you let them dry completely after washing them.
- Use labels to keep track of your oils.
- Mark them with contents, date and uses.
- Use oldest first.
- Keep them in storage for up to 1 year.
There is also concoctions and tinctures which are best for use with roots and for harder herbs. I will write up a post about those later with the instructions for making them. For now, this is enough to get you started on herbalism in Wicca. Be sure to start checking out herbs, plant and flowers and some of their uses.
Blessed Be…Sheila Wenninger