Magical Herbalism can seem like a daunting task when you are a beginner. There is so, so much to learn, and so many fascinating subjects, that it may put off even the most enthusiastic practitioner. On the first post of this series, I am offering tips on starting your herbal journey, and on making the best of it without going insane :). Enjoy!
· If you’re a true herbalist at heart, you will continue to learn until your very last day – so start slow, and stay slow. You cannot learn the properties and Latin names of a hundred herbs in one day.
· RESEARCH. Do not work intuitively, specially if you are making herbal products that will be ingested, or used topically. Herbs are NOT harmless. Invest in good books on the subject.
· Learn the Latin name of herbs – it is much more useful than it seems; for instance, for online researching and sharing with herbalists from other cultures and languages.
· Learn first about your local herbs, the ones that grow easily around you – so many beginners are discouraged from continuing their learning, simply because they are obsessed with growing certain plants, and fail. Just so, start with live plants from your plant nursery, instead of trying to start everything from seed, which is much more difficult.
· Keep a notebook only for herbal lore – a regular ring binder is perfect, as you can add and reorganize as you go along. Herbalism is dirty work, so keep the pretty notebooks for something else.
· If you cannot have your own garden, start buying a small amount of dry herb and, before you make any use of it, place the herb in a bowl/plate and place your hands over it. Welcome its Spirit into your life, and do your best to transmit your thankfulness and welcoming – then relax and let the herb speak. Note down everything you have felt, heard or seen.
· On the other hand, if you can have a garden, no matter how small it is, treat it well and put in the hard work. The key to reaching the deepest knowledge from your plant Allies is happy plants – learn as much about the practical side of gardening, as you do about magical gardening. Plants need food, space, and they need to be protected from illnesses and pests. Gardens that are loved and protected by a devoted Yerbera*, grow better, are more resistant to bugs and produce more leaves and seeds for your work.
*Yerbera – female herbalist.
·The Fairies/Elementals/Corte Encantada** are there to help you. Search for their advice as protectors of Nature by creating an altar to them in your garden, or near your herb caupboard. Make a fairy pond, leave offerings for them and acknowledge their presence.
**Corte Encantada – In Maria Lionza’s religion, a group of Spirits which includes Fairies, Elementals, and other child-like Spirits.
· And please, don’t fall for the “some plants are more magical than others” myth. While I have nothing against cultivating and consuming entheogenic or poisonous plants at all, that doesn’t make them more magical than the ones you would grow for your kitchen. A Basil plant that is well cared for, and grown in a Sacred space, is just as powerful as any Mandrake.
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