Backyard Herbs & Tools: 15 Of Our Favorites for the Craft
Maybe you’re setting up an altar and don’t have a lot of money to spend. Maybe you’re looking for new and inspiring ways to spice up your magick that won’t break the bank. It’s time to do some exploring in your own backyard! You’d be surprised how many options there are for backyard herbs and items that can easily be harvested and added to your magical practice. Walk out your backdoor and search for these 10 FREE backyard herbs and objects!
15 FREE Backyard Herbs & Items
Something to keep in mind – not everyone will have these items in their backyard, depending on where you live. These backyard herbs and items are commonly found in the U.S. and parts of Europe. While others are found all over the world. Do not consume any plant material without knowing exactly what it is. Wear gloves when harvesting plant material. Research wild herbs and trees native to YOUR area.
Chickweed is one of those herbs most people pull up thinking it’s a “weed”. This perennial plant has round, green leaves and blooms tiny white flowers. It’s found worldwide. The leaves are edible and are fabulous when thrown into salads and soups. Chickweed’s magical properties include fertility, women’s sacred rites, bird magick, family and friendship, protection, and balance. Harvest, dry, and use chickweed in herbal mixtures to dress candles or infuse into anointing oils.
Dandelions are easy to identify and are part of the daisy family. They’re one of the backyard herbs found in North America, Europe, and parts of Asia. The dandelion’s leaves and flowers are edible. Some people enjoy making dandelion wine, while others throw dandelion greens into culinary dishes. When dandelions go to seed, their blooms can be blown into the wind and dispersed to “make a wish”. Simple, natural magick! Dandelion’s magical properties include: ferocity, sun magick, luck, and psychic intuition.
Sometimes we are blessed with feathers in our own backyard. Feathers indicate your spirit guides or ancestors are sending you a message. The feather’s color has different meanings, as does the bird from which it came. Feather symbolism is a wide and interesting topic – read more about it here. When you find a feather, thank your guides and place it on your altar, in a vase with a collection of feathers, or use it to write spells (like old times when people wrote with ink and feather). Feathers can be held during meditation to communicate with bird familiars or in shapeshifting rituals. Infuse the feather into flying ointment to give it a boost of air energy.
If you have oak trees in your backyard, then you might have acorns in your yard. Acorns come from the mighty Oak tree, which was revered by the ancients. The Celts saw the oak tree as a sacred, strong tree and represented the God of the Forest or Horned God, etc. There’s an old legend that acorns were worn or passed from witch to witch in the Dark Ages as a means of secret code. The acorn’s magical properties include: strength, abundance, fertility, luck, and vitality. Place acorns on the altar in the Fall, put them in spell bags for protection, or place in a basket in the center of your Autumn Equinox feasting table.
If you have pine trees in your backyard, then you are indeed a lucky person! The pinecone falls from the pine tree, and so holds all the magick of the pine. Its magical properties include: purification/cleansing, new opportunity, grounding, strength, growth, and success. Gather pinecones to display on your altar or in baskets, make into a wreath for Fall or Winter, or hang them on a garland above your altar. You can also make scented pinecones for the holidays. Write your wishes for the coming year onto little pieces of paper. Then roll them up and stick them into the spaces on a pinecone. Throw the pinecone into your New Years’ fire. Pinecones are fun to paint and decorate like Yule trees!
One of my favorite backyard herbs is clover. Clover is the national flower of Ireland and its said if you find a four-leaf clover, it brings the best of luck. There are different kinds of clover but the most popular are red clover and white clover. Red clover is added to magical teas to represent the goddess. It can also be added to baths and used in floor washes to drive away negativity. Some say the clover wards off the evil eye. Place clover in your house to draw monetary abundance and keep away evil spirits. It can also be used as an offering for one’s Irish ancestors. Learn more about the magick of backyard herbs by picking up a copy of Scott Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs.
7. Tree Bark
Any trees in your backyard that shed their bark? Birch trees have a bark that is easily harvested, as well as aspens. Pine trees also shed their bark. Gather tree bark from your favorite tree and use in your magick. Look up the tree’s symbolism and magical properties before using. Glue and paste into your Herbal Grimoire or Book of Shadows. Certain tree barks are large enough to write wishes and spells on and then burned or floated in water.
8. Pine needles
Pine needles fall from the pine tree and therefore carry all the pine’s magical properties including: purification, strength, renewal, and immortality. Burn pine needles as a smudging tool to cleanse your sacred space and home. Decorate the mantle or your altar like the floor of a pine forest! When pine needles are attached to a branch, hang above your front door to bring in prosperity and keep out negativity. In addition, the right size pine branch makes for a natural besom to cleanse your sacred space or prepare for ritual.
This is an easy one. If you grow flowers in your garden, pick some to use in bouquets or dry and use in spell bags, bottles, and more. You might also be lucky enough to find wildflowers growing in your backyard. Look up the type of flower and its magical properties. Press between the pages of your Book of Shadows and write about its magical properties to use later. Gather a bunch of flowers and leave in a vase on your altar to bring happiness and harmony to your sacred space. Or offer the flowers to your ancestors or gods.
Rain water can be gathered anywhere in the world. Leave out a wide-mouthed jar right before a rainstorm and bring it inside directly after. You don’t want your rainwater sitting for too long outside. Cap it and then charge the water with your own energy. Do this by placing both hands over the jar and visualizing white light emanating from your hands into the jar of water. Place it on your altar in a bowl or keep the jar in a cabinet to use in ritual. Depending when the rain is collected (day of the week, hour of day, moon phase) will give it those added magical properties.
The gods made dirt and dirt is magical. There’s nothing that carries Mother Earth’s essence like the soil beneath our feet. Gather a bit of soil from the four corners of your property and save to use in your magick. Four corners soil is great for grounding, protection, family, prosperity and stability spells. Collecting soil from other places also carries the energy of those places. For instance, churchyard soil is blessed by divine energy, graveyard dirt carries the essence of the spirits there, and dirt from the forest will be full of woodsy elemental energy.
12. Seed Pods
Seeds and seed pods are all magical items you might find in your backyard. I love seeds that have a fluffy consistency, i.e. dandelion and milkweed seeds. In addition, seed pods from bushes and trees are useful in spells for new opportunities, new friendships, spiritual growth, and regeneration. I also gather seeds from my flowers and vegetables to plant the following year as a means of giving back to Mother Earth and keeping my garden alive.
13. Animal Curios
I’m not saying to go out and kill animals by any means. What I’m suggesting here is this – if a butterfly dies and leaves her wings for you, keep them. If a spider abandons his web, use the web in your magick. I’ve also been gifted snakeskin sheds, bones, teeth, eggshells, and cocoons. All of these types of animal curios are powerful and when gifted to you as a witch can be used in your spells and rituals.
Have you ever been walking and noticed an amazingly perfect branch? If you haven’t, then start paying more attention as to what’s on the ground and what’s fallen off local trees. While I was in the mountains one year, I found the most perfect branch. The top of it is twisted like someone carved it that way and the rest is straight and basically the perfect size for a wand. Later I decided instead of using it as a wand, I’d make it into my own personal besom (witch’s broom). But you can literally do anything with a nicely shaped branch. Seriously.
15. Get Creative
There are SO many magical things to be found in one’s own neighborhood and backyard. You just have to see the beauty and limitless energy in everything around you. A few “odd” things I’ve used from my backyard in my own personal witchcraft practice include splinters from my wooden fence (I infused into an oil for hedge-crossing), broken glass (I lived in a home that had once been a party spot so when we dug into the ground a ton of glass came out so I used it in my witch’s bottle), and more. Your imagination, intuition, and guides will bring you those magically needed items.