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Herbology 101

This list is incomplete to say the least but hopefully I have touched on some of the most commonly used herbs that will help you in your search. There is a world of knowledge about the medical aspects of herbs and resins but we will not be covering that here.


NOTE: This is a work in progress and an enormous project. I will be adding more as time permits.

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BACHELOR'S BUTTONS (Centaurea cyanus) - Feminine, Venus, Water

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Libra, Taurus; Secondary: Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio
GODS: Robin Goodfellow, Green Man

MAGICAL: Just the opposite of what the name might imply at first glance, the Bachelor's Button is not worn by bachelors but is instead worn by maidens to attract the bachelor in the delicate dance of courtship where the lines between pursued and pursuer are often unclear at best.


BALM OF GILEAD (Populus balsamifera) - Feminine, Venus, Water

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Libra, Taurus; Secondary: Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio
GODS: Babalu Aye, Shango, Eleggua
GODDESS: Yemaya

MAGICAL: Balm of Gilead (usually the buds) is carried in a white sachet to mend a broken heart. When that heart is mended, take the same buds out and place them in a pink sachet to attract a new love interest _ but NEVER let things turn pink before you are absolutely sure the reason for the white sachet has diminished or you will just be putting those buds into a white sachet again before long.

GENERAL: As pointed out in the introduction, many plants share common neame. Balm of Gilead is often confused with Poplar and Aspen.


BALSAM (Gnaphalium polycephalum) - Masculine, Mars, Fire

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Sagittarius, Capricorn
GODDESS: Many

MAGICAL: Magickal uses of Balsam Fir include strength and breaking up negativity. Within magickal applications, these needles can be used to represent the element of earth, functioning as a powerful connection for to the forest and the earth for your ritual magick. This tree belongs to the triple aspect Goddess in Celtic lore, offering learning, choice and progress. The tree is sacred to many Goddesses. Fir is used for magic involving power, insight, progression, protection, change, feminine rebirth, and birth. The wood chips or needles are sometimes used as incense and carry a sweet forest scent, these can be burned right on charcoals or mixed with other herbs as an incense mix.


BAMBOO (Bambusa vulgaris) - Masculine, Sun, Air

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Leo; Secondary: Aquarius, Gemini, Libra

MAGICAL: Bamboo shoots are eaten to enhance psyic abilities. The wood and growing plant are used for protection. Popular in feng shui, Bamboo flutes are often used to call forth positive energy and desirable spirits.

GENERAL: Contrary to popular belief, there are strains of Bamboo that will grow quite well in North America. If grown near your home, it is said that Bamboo will lend to the good fortune of your family. Although many folk consider fround Bamboo to be a cheap fill for powdered incense, Bamboo powder is a traditional incense for sending away both baneful magick and spirits.


BARBERRY (Berberis vulgaris) - Feminine, Mars, Earth

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Aries, Scorpio; Secondary: Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo

MAGICAL: The root or berries of the Barberry is carried in a green sachet to attract money.


BARLEY (Hordeum spp.) - Feminine, Earth, Venus

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Libra, Taurus; Secondary: Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo
GODS: Taliesin
GODDESS: Albina, Anna Perenna
PARTS USED: Seeds

MAGICAL: Barley has been associated with the richness of the earth for many years. Carried in sachets, it is believed to be a powerful agent for attracting love and improving health. Scattered outside the home or the magick Circle, it is said to keep out evil spirits. Barley is used in family cooking to increase prosperity of the household and the fertility (especially sexual fertility) of the heads of the household. It is an ideal choice for inclusion in a handfasting/wedding feast and is said to heighten male sexual performance.


BASIL (Ocimum basilicum) - Masculine, Mars, Fire

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Aries, Scorpio; Secondary: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
GODS: Babalu Aye, Shango, Eleggua, Obatala, Ochosi, Oggun, Oko, Vishnu
GODDESS: Erzulie, Ochun, Yemaya

MAGICAL: Basil is one of those herbs that has a long-standing relationship with Witchcraft. So much so that one of it's common names is "Witches Herb." This probably comes, as do many modern Wiccan traditions, from Italian folklore and witchery. Basil plants make great housewarming presents, especially if you feel that everyone should have a window garden in the kitchen. If you have the opportunity to give a wedding present when fresh Basil is available, decorating the gift box with a fresh sprig is considered a blessing. Hung over a doorway, fresh sprigs of Basil are said to calm the hearts of guests who enter your home. If you and your lover quarrel, agreeto set the quarrel aside until after dinner. Then pick fresh Basil together and use it in your dinner sauce. If both of you are still quarrelsome after dinner, at least you won't go hungry, but chances are you will be less interested in fighting and more interested in making up. Lore says that men who simply cannot grow Basil will never be faithful. After showering thoroughtly, but prior to making love, a woman can heighten her man's desire by rubbing her body with fresh Basil leaves. Making love after being anointed with fresh Basil is said to help ensure fidelity. Alternatively, fresh Basil may be added to a hot bath, simmered on the stove, or added to humidifiers to promote similar results (but on the body is best). Do not substitute Basil oils or extracts for this purpose, as the effects seem to be associated with the plant in its natural state and concentration. Because Basil promotes both love and prosperity, it is commonly used in incense recipes designed to improve retail sales by increasing the good mood of your customers. Sprinkled lightly in the shoes it is said to increase the income of someone who workes on commission or who is self-employed. Essential oil of Basil is diffused to calm a quarrelsome home and to both retore and maintain a sense of pease and well-being. It is sometimes used to dampen powdered incenses designed to draw wealth and money.

GENERAL: Excess use of Basil scent may cause headaches. According to one source, excess inhalation will cause a scorpion to grow in a man's head. On a more serious note, essential oil of Basil should not be taken internally.


BAY LEAF (Laurus nobilis) - Masculine, Sun, Fire

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Leo Secondary: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
WARNING: Do not serve or consume the leaf. Remove and discard before serving
GODS: Adonis, Asclepius, Apollo, Babalu Aye, The Buddha, Shango, Faunus, Eros, Cupid, Kirshna, Obatala, Oggun, Olocun, Ra, Vishnu
GODDESS: Demeter, Ceres
PARTS USED: Leaves, Oil

MAGICAL: The Bay Leaf reminds us that ancient Pagan traditions are still embraced by our modern society, even when that society doesn not recognize the Pagan origin of our modern customs. Millions of people tune in to the broadcasts of our modern Olympics but rarely notice the symbolic use of the Bay leaf. No, we no longer follow the acient tradition of crowning the Olympic victors with Bay leaf, but the symbolism continues on the medals. Lore tells us that chewing Bay leaves and breathing the steam rising off a simmering pot of Bay leaves aids in all forms of divination. For this reason, the dried leaves are often included in incense recipes and dream pillows. A sprig of Bay is an ideal tool for asperging (sprinkling of water), and a weak infusion of Bay is often used for asperging when one wants an extra element of purification. Planted by the home and used in family recipes, Bay is an excellant guardian against sickness and is widely believed to help with healing the common cold. A mixture of 1 part powdered Bay leaf and 3 parts Sandalwood powder produces incense that can be burned for both healing and cleansing (especially of undesired energy). Bay is said to ward off evil spirits. If a couple wants to stay together, matching charms can be made for both members of the relationship from the same twig or branch of Bay. Once a week, the couple should trade charms and remind each other whey they carry the twig. In cooking, Bay enhances psychic abilities, helps battle psychic sludge, speeds healing, and promotes a sense of well- being. The scent of Bay was used by the oracles of ancient Greece. It's essential oil can be diffused to bring on relaxation and preparation for divination.


BEECH (Fagus sylvatica) - Feminine, Saturn, Earth

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Aquarius, Capricorn; Secondary: Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo
GODS: Cronus, Hermes, Mercury, Odin, Thoth
CELTIC TREE CALENDAR (Phagos) - The whole of the year.

MAGICAL: Beech is the artist's tree. A branch of Beach on an altar or easel will greatly increase your creativity, as will the Beechnut in small quantities.


BEET (Beta vulgaris) - Feminine, Saturn, Earth

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Aquarius, Capricorn; Secondary: Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo
PARTS USED: Leaves, Root

MAGICAL: If a love spell calls for blood that does not depart the body naturally or accidentlally, substitue beet juice. A single beet shared by two people is said to cause those two to fall in love.


BELLADONNA (Atropa belladonna) - Feminine, Saturn, Water

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Aquarius, Capricorn; Secondary: Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio
GODDESS: Athena, Bellona, Circe, Hecate, Saturn
WARNING; Narcotic, Sedative. Due to its content of atropine, Belladonna has been used in medicine for centuries. However, the difference between a dose that will bring on sleep and a dose that will cause death is hard to determine due to the variance in the concentration of active ingredients.
PARTS USED: Leaves, Roots, Tops

MAGICAL: One of the common ingredients in flying ointments. Belladonna produces delirium. When combined with other herbs and a vehicle by which the chemical properties can be absorbed through the skin, one can see that so-called flying ointments were little more than topical intoxicants. Belladonna is one of the herbs that has caused bad PR for Witchcraft. So feaful was King James of the Witch that he allowed his traslation of the Christian Bible to be influenced by his fears. In his translation, he ordered the Latin word for "poisoner" be replaced by the Latin word that many incorrectly translated to "witch." This is a very important point. You see, the Latin word malefica does not translate to the word Witch unless one believes the lies that a Witch is a vicious, wicked, female criminal. Malefica is a feminine word describing a lawbreaker who is vicious and wicked. For modern Pagan authors to continue to promote the lie that malefica is the Latin word for Witch is a slap in the face of every Wiccan attempting to set the record straight. Reportedly, it was Belladonna that was used to poison the troops of Marcus Antonius, changing the path of the Parthian wars. But even that was a forward assult when considering the history of this herb. When duncan was King of Scotland, invading Danes were poisoned by an indusion of Belladonna mixed with liquor. Overcome by slumber brought on by the poison, they were easily slaughtered by the Scots. What makes this a particularly sneaky use of the herb? Not that it was hidden in the liquor, but the fact that the Scots acquired the poison from the Danes during a period of truce. Before even thinking about using this her for any purpose (including ornamental), think about this: Atropa Belladonna in part comes from the Greek Atropos. According to Greek lore, Atropos is the one who held the scissors with which the thread of human life was cut. Of course, history is full of people who weren't scared by its Latin name, not to mention the common names, which include such words as death, bane, and deadly. The priests of Bellona reportedly consumed a tea of Belladonna to invoke her aid. As Bellona is a Roman Goddess of war, I imagine this practice was kin to the use of Agaric by Viking Kerserkers. Many old herbals offer instructions on using Belladonna to induce sleep; however, one can never be sure of the concentration of the active ingredients, so it is best avoided - as are the old herbals except for purposes of education and entertainment.


BENZOIN FLOWER (Styrax benzoin) - Masculine, Sun, Air

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Leo Secondary: Aquarius, Gemini, Libra
GODS: Nike, Venus
PARTS USED: Resin

MAGICAL: By itself, Benzoin is burned over charcoal for purification. It is an excellent choice for smudging a Circle. It is also used for prosperity and to increase business. Like Arabic Gum, Benzoin is used as a binding agent in many incense recipes, but its rich smell can sometimes cover the scent of lighter herbs. Essential oil of Benzoin is diffused to bring energy to the physical body and to stimulate the conscious mind. Diffuse and inhale when you need an extra bit of energy to complete a physical task or after work on Friday night when you almost have enough energy to go out with friends, but not quite enough. Inhaling it offers a safe and sane alternative to those little energy drinks, which sometimes tax the body a bit too much.


BERGAMOT, ORANGE (Mentha citrta) - Masculine, Mercury, Air

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Gemini, Virgo; Secondary: Aquarius, Gemini, Libra
GODS: Bablu Aye, Eleggua, Oggun, Oko, Olocun

MAGICAL: Orange Bergamot is often used in incense and oil recipes to promote the accumulation of wealth. Fresh leaves of Orange/Mint Bergamot are added to potpourri pots and simmered over the stove to lighten the mood while promoting the sense of self- worth necessary to advance in the workplace.


BIRCH (Betula alba) - Feminine, Venus, Water

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Libra, Taurus; Secondary: Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio
GODS: Thor, Thoth
GODDESS: Arianrhod, Blodeuwedd, Frigga, Freya, Eostra

MAGICAL: Birch is one of the nine woods cited in the Wiccan Rede as being best for ritual fires. Planted around the home, Birch is said to win the favors of Thor and protect the home from lightning. Some evidence points to the idea that ritual besoms used Berch twigs for straw. An especially powerful besom can be made by attaching Birch twigs to the end of the shaft of Ash.

GENERAL: It just screams out, "Don't drink me in tea! In this case, it is not due to a bad taste, but because you have not lived until you have had a tall cold glass of real Birch beer on a hot summer day. My favorite brand is probably the smallest soda company in the world, Boylan's Original Birch Beer, which was first made in an apothecary in 1890. So why do I mention Birch beer? Is it a hint for the kind folk who bring me gifts every Whitches Ball? Well, maybe. But more so because I worry that Wiccans may have fallen into the "Boil and Push" philosophy, thinking the only way to use an herb is to boile it in water or push it into a sachet. There are so many other ways to experience the wonders of plants. Wonderful ways like - well like Birch Beer, which should be consumed over ice on a hot summer day to ensure that your picnic is not plagued by storms. The aroma of simmering Birch leave clears congestion.


BISTORT (Polygonum bistorta) - Feminin, Saturn, Earth

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Aquarius, Capricorn; Secondary: Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo
PARTS USED: Root

MAGICAL: Bistort grund and powdered will encourage firtility when worn in a green sachet. Add an infusion of Bistort to the bath water of a gentleman friend an hour before making love. Ensure that the bath water is as cold as possible. Soak for an hour and then have fun warming him up. Repeat the bath each evening, but repeat the lovemaking only every two weeks. Don't worry, the cold baths will go a long way towards making this possible even in the most physical relationships. Bistort is occasionally used in money and wealth attracting incenses, but there are far batter herbs for that. Pachouli comes to mind.


BLACK BRYONY (Tamus communis) - Masculine, Mars, Fire

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Aries, Scorpio; Secondary: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

MAGICAL: If you have a place in your home or business where you store cash, store also the root of the Black Bryony, but remove neither the cash nor the root for a year and a day. As the year passes, add to this pile any unexpected cash you attribute to this simple spell. On the day after the year, shar your fortune with friends and it will be returned several times.


BLACKBERRY (Rubus villosus) - Feminine, Venus, Water

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Libra, Taurus; Secondary: Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio
GODS: Lugh
GODDESS: Brigit

MAGICAL: Blackberry pies baked and served on Lughnasadh (Lugh's Night) are a great way to celebrate the harvest. No, we don't all have to actually haarvest Blackberries. The pies can also be tasty symbols of other harvests that have come from hard work. Because Blackberries are sacred to both Lugh and Brigit , both patrons of arts and crafts, the Blackberry makes a wonderful snack while working on art and craft projects. If you can bear to part with such a lovely thing, bake fresh Blackberry pies and donate them to a local shelter on or around Lugh's night for the Lord and Lady's blessings upon your craft. Eating Blackberries will bring on lust and promote prosperity.


BLADDERWRACK (Fucus vesiculosus) - Feminin, Moon, Water

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Cancer; Secondary: Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio
PARTS USED: Root, Stem, Leaves

MAGICAL: Carry in a blue sachet as a talisman against drowning.


BLEEDING HEART (Dicentra spectabilis) - Feminin, Venus, Water

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Libra, Taurus; Secondary: Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio

MAGICAL: Grow the plant in your home to attract love, but plant a grounding stone (hematite comes to mind) or metal object with it. It is said that if you don't, Bleeding Heart will generate jittery energy, like static electricity for the soul.


BLOODROOT (Sanguinari canadensis) - Masculine, Mars, Fire

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Aries, Scorpio; Secondary: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
PARTS USED: Root, Whole Plant

MAGICAL: Acquire a supply of Bloodroots and drill a hole in each. Those with the darkest insides are the best; select the two with the darkest insides, string a red ribbon through each, and knot loosely so that they will hang loosely on a black cord or chain around your neck. This will bring potential lovers into your life. Once you have three potential suitors, no more and no less, untie the red ribbons. Restring both the ribbons such that they each go through both roots.Use this to tie the two roots together, and back onto that black cord or necklace it goes. The first potential suitor that notices the change will be your best bet. For protection, the same can be done with only one root; best not to use Bloodroot for protection unless the other attribute (love) is desired. Can be used at doorways and windows to protect the home, but it is best to place it on top so children, pets and the curious-minded will not touch.


BLUE FLAG (Iris versicolor) - Feminine, Venus, Water

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Libra, Taurus; Secondary: Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio
PARTS USED: Root

MAGICAL: The root of the Blue Flag is placed in cash registers and boxes to increase the income of small business owners. I have found it especially useful when conducting business at arts and crafts shows. Less so in a permanent store, but it can't hurt.


BLUEBERRY (Vaccinum frondosum) - Feminine, Venus, Water

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Libra, Taurus; Secondary: Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio
PARTS USED: Leaves

MAGICAL: Eaten to fortify the mind against psychic attacks. Serve sprinkled with surgar or dipped in honey over stimulationg conversation to further exchanges of intellect and mind.


BONESET (Eupatorium perfoliatum) - Feminine, Saturn, Water

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Aquarius, Capricorn, Secondary: Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio
PARTS USED: Herb

MAGICAL: An infusion of Boneset can be used to ward off undesirable spirits and influences from the home, however there are much better herbs for this purpose. If Boneset is all you have, try making an infusion with white vinegar instead. Mix well with table salt and then sprinkle on your front porch.

NOTE: If your recipe calls for Boneset, it may be calling for Eupatorium perfoliatum (listed here) or it may be calling for Symphutum Officinale, which is listed here as Comfrey because Boneset is sometimes listed as a folk name for Comfrey.


BORAGE (Borago officinalis) - Masculine, Jupiter, air

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Pisces, Sagittarius; Secondary: Aquarius, Gemini, Libra
PARTS USED: Leaves, Flowers

MAGICAL: Drinking warm Borage tea will encourage astral projection and psychic abilities. If you have a specific destination in mind for an astral voyage, sweeten the tea with honey from the location you wish to visit. This also seems to encourage dreams of that place. By far, the best use for Borage is in spells for courage to face an exchange with others. Dress in your best shirt and tie and wear a fresh Borage flower to overcome the fear of a job interview or while asking the person of your unspoken affection out on the first date. Also very useful for meeting your date's parents.


BRAZIL NUT (Bertholletia exellsa) - Masculine, Mercury, Air

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Virgo, Gemini; Secondary: Aquarius, Gemini, Libra

MAGICAL: Drill a hole in a whole Brazil Nut when looking for brotherly love. May work for romantic love, but there is better herbs for that. When consumed, promotes prosperity and friendship.

NOTE: Sometimes listed as Feminine, Venus, Earth


BROOM (Cytisus scoparius) - Masculine, Mars, Air

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Aries, Scorpio; Secondary: Aquarius, Gemini, Libra
GODS: Bacchus, Mercury, Morpheus, Ochosi,
GODDESS: Blodeuwedd
PARTS USED: Tops

MAGICAL: An infusion of Broom flowers can be used in mop water to drive away ghosts and undesired spirits. Lore tells us that a mild infusion will aid in divination and to see ghosts. The problem with this lore is that Broom is considered a poison, so internal use could indeed cause folks to see a ghost. Of course, I am speaking about yours. As an invitation to the East Quarter, whose Element is Air, try throwing a handful of Broom flowers in a salute. However, be ready, as this practice is said to call for the winds. To calm those winds, burn Broom and bury the ashes to ground the winds. Dried or fresh flowers can be scattered in the ritual area and then swept away by the besom. With them, the Broom flowers will take the Outsiders (those forces unwelcome in your Circle). Fresh Broom flowers are used in potpourii and simmer pots to settle the mind and encourage peace and a sense of purfication. The aroma seems to carry off the nasties that come from the outside world and often cling to us as unwanted hitchhikers into our homes.


BUCHU (Barosma betulina) Feminine, Moon, Water

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Cancer; Secondary: Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio
PARTS USED: Leaves

MAGICAL: Drink tea made from Buchu to enhance divination. Do not sweeten nor add milk. Mix 1 part Buchu to 3 parts Frankincense to produce incense that will encourage dreams of the future. Burn in the bedroom an hour before sleep, but make sure all the coals are out before lying down or your future might be filled with flames.


BUCKTHORN ALDER (Rhamnus Frangula) - Feminine, Saturn, Water

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Aquarius, Capricorn; Secondary: Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio
PARTS USED: Bark

MAGICAL: Alder Buckthorn can be used as a barrier against the magical working of others. He suggests that its branches can be placed next to doors and windows to keep those forces from one's home. Scott Cunningham tell of an old legend that states that to summon an elf, one should dance in a circle of Buckthorn until the elf appears, then say to the elf, "Halt and grant my boon!" The elf will then grant you one wish. I have not found this lore to be accurate. However, I have found the Alder Buckthorn to be particularly useful in providing that extra bit of luck that one needs in legal matters. Wear a pendant made of Alder Buckthorn and tell the truth in court, and it is said that an innocent man cannot be found guilty.


BUCKWHEAT (Fagopyrum esculentum) - Feminine, Venus, Earth

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Libra, Taurus; Secondary: Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo
PARTS USED: Fruit

MAGICAL: Buckwheat has been popular to use in the casting of Circles since the casting of Circles became something you didn't want your neighbors to know about. Being very common for having it available. It is additionally used to stave off poverty, but does not seem to aid in the acquisition of money or riches. Instead, the rewards of using buckwheat in spells seem to prevent one from going underfed or unclothed. for this purpose, it is included in meals and carried in brown sachets.


BURDOCK (Arctium lappa) - Feminine, Venus, Water

ASTROLOGICAL: Primary: Libra, Taurus; Secondary: Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio
PARTS USED: Herb, Root, Seeds

MAGICAL: Worn around the neck, the dried Burdock root is said to protect from all forms of undesired influences.


All this rich information is credited to many authors in my collection
but three I have heavily relied upon are:
Several works by the well known author Scott Cunningham;
Several works by the fantastic author A. J. Drew;
And many works by the beloved Raymond Buckland

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